Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Other stuff

The Other Bike's Doctor called this afternoon to advise that the carbs had been cleaned and it now runs beautifully but will only tick over on three cylinders.

The carbs will need to come off and be sent for Ultrasonic Cleaning.

Ho Hum! I suppose it is a good job the Vespa is Fuel Injection!

I'm guessing that it will be a week or more until the Other Bike is anywhere near ready. TP's Leathers may have arrived by then.

It has all got a bit culinary today.

Village Idiot called in yesterday evening and has again liberated a quantity of Rhubarb from one of his "customers" gardens and kindly given it to me.

I have called in a clean up squad and am pretty sure that the soft fruit * police will have problems pinning anything on me as a "Receiver" unless they read this Journal. The stems were prepped and stewed before breakfast and the the leaves are now in the compost heap. All of the implements have been washed and the Rhubarb is cooling before being packed in to the Freezer.

"You got nuffing on me Guv - that's been in there for months". I will be using the Cat's Brief if an arrest follows.

My lunch break saw me preparing a marinade for some Salmon steaks. I'm not a huge fan of the fish - unless smoked and served with soft scrambled eggs -  but letting it rest in a marinade comprising Oil, Garlic, Black Peppercorns, Salt, fresh Rosemary, Chili flakes and Worcester Sauce certainly improves it. I just grind all of the ingredients in a pestle and mortar and let the fish swim in that for as long as possible before baking or pan frying....

... a few New Potatoes and some fresh green beans and that is Supper sorted.

There will be more Foody stuff later as 30% has bought some shoulder of pork at a bargain price and the plan is to make a batch of Black Pudding Sausages this evening.

* Before the Pedants come rushing in, I know that Rhubarb is a leaf stem not a fruit and therefore more akin to Celery or Cale than Strawberries or Tomatoes which are true fruits.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

R & R

Rest and recuperation.

I haven't mentioned the brave members of the Arachnid Special Forces for a while but I think its time to give you an update. They appear to have been on an extended period of R&R and possibly a further "R". In this instance the extra "r" stands for reproduction ....

.... one of my walks takes me across a piece of relatively unimproved pasture. Parts of the field are grazed and mown for silage but a reasonable chunk of the meadow is on a steep slope and is left for the rabbits. It's a lovely area of wild flowers and so steep that you tend to pause to take in the view whilst you catch your breath.

Today I noticed a quite amazing structure in the grasses. In fact, I noticed several. On the side of the hill adjacent to my path there were several small Spider Gazebos. At a height of about 10 inches from ground level about six or eight grass stems had been pulled together and held fast with spider silk. This living teepee frame had then been covered with a sheet of the finest web to form a cover and there inside this Spider Tent, suspended at the apex was a pea sized egg cluster, again shrouded in silk.

It may be a Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) but I am far from an expert just fascinated to see these delicate little structures amongst the grasses.

A brief mention from Pedants corner - it should be noted that I have referred to these shelters as teepees and not wigwams because the two are entirely different types of shelter and not synonymous as many think.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Jigsaw Puzzle

This morning saw me sitting cross legged assembling shards of bean hopper with Gaffer Tape. If I had been capable of coherence I would have seen the similarity to a Junkie gathering the scant grains of heroin from discarded wraps.

I must have my fix.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Roll on three o'clock

Yep, can't wait - most of England will be suffering existential angst in front of a television which means that the roads will be relatively traffic free.

I can therefore live my life and take control of its direction .....

... which will be bloody quickly down the bypass and off down the twisty bits.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Possible Grounds for Divorce

The title of this post is one of the worst puns I have ever come up with and I have to admit that I am not a fan of the pun preferring extreme sarcasm, irony or surreal. Apologies.

30% has knocked over the coffee grinder whilst vacuuming and has broken the bean hopper. I remained calm, stern, but calm and rapidly sent an enquiry over to Dualit about their emergency services and dispatch of spares.

You probably don't realise how serious this is but we are talking a critical component of a life support system.

I am extremely concerned to note that Dualit don't dispatch in under 24 hours and will only commit to responding to my enquiry in the next 5 days! What the hell do they think I am going to do until this is resolved? Drink instant coffee. ARE THEY BLOODY INSANE?

I would rather have a dusty floor than no coffee.

I am currently taking shallow breaths with a brown paper bag over my mouth and nose. ITS NOT WORKING!

Saturday Morning

I am drinking my first cup of coffee of the day and Tyson is stood next to me barking in a " there's a child injured at the bottom of the well" sort of way.

We don't have a well and the back door is open. I return to my coffee and Tyson takes a light breakfast.

I hope the child is OK.

Friday, 25 June 2010

A change of pace

What a lovely day.

The weekend is here - nothing special planned and hopefully I will be popping down to Camelot HQ on Monday to pick up a big cardboard cheque rather than be sitting in front of an e-mail application.

What a great way to reject a meeting. " Sorry I'd love to attend but the Sun will be taking a photograph of me accepting a large cardboard cheque presented by a C-List celebrity at the time you have asked me to review your project plan. Rgds a bad man".

Back to reality, had a lovely evening walk and 30% was home in time to accompany me. Tyson is a little willful at the moment and I am guessing it is her hormones. A little troubling that she is charging off at present and ignoring shouts.whistles and claps to attract her attention and call her back. Typical Woman really - does what she wants, when she wants. I have obviously brought her up properly and Ms Greer and associates will be congratulating Tyson for her decision to take control of her life and not be constrained by the directions of a man she lives with chooses to share her life with..

Women's Rights for dogs. I never thought I'd reach that point when I started typing this entry. If any of this looks planned that is coincidence or good fortune. Elements of it may be loosely strung together when I am walking the dogs or stuck on the call from hell but a lot of the time I just start with a blank page and go for it.

Obviously with the weather so splendid at the moment I need to give another salute to my hat which is performing its fine weather duties of shielding my eyes and neck from the sun superbly. A brief nod to Stetson Hats - that's it end of product placement.

This entry is totally back to front as today started with me doing my normal morning routine plus knocking up a Rhubarb Compote - stewing a few Rhubarb stems - that Village Idiot dropped off last night. I love Rhubarb and VI had brought over a dozen or so stalks that he had liberated from a garden that he is supposed to be watering while its owner is away on their hols.

Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth these are now stewed in their own juices with a couple of desert spoons of sugar and are living in the fridge. They will go nicely with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or what ever else I can find in there. Easy, lovely and free.

A Thai curry for dinner accompanied by a Couple of Beers - Leffe Blonde - end of product placement and the weekend has truly started.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Distance Travelled

Yesterdays entry got me thinking about my family and I only need to go back a generation or two to see how fast the world is changing.

My Grandfather - that's two generations back. He was born in rural Herefordshire on a small farm and was a butcher and cobbler by trade. Fair enough you might say but I have seen one of the first pairs of boots he ever made. He was 9 or 10 years of age and the boot is tiny. My Dad still has it wrapped in an oily cloth to preserver it against the ravages of time. It is now more than 100 years old. He was in the army of occupation after the first world war and apparently filled his pockets with as much German loot as he could find and put it to good use setting himself up as a Market Gardener in the Vale of Evesham between the wars. The second world war was good for him too; shipping veg up to Scotland and illicit cargoes of whisky on the way back. He was never one to miss out on a deal and he wasn't too concerned about the legalities.

He decided that Market Gardening was too labour intensive and went in to Dairy Farming so that was the world I was born in to.

Do you see what I mean? The world I was born in to is completely different to the world I now inhabit and the world that pays my mortgage. Much of my background is alien to the majority of my colleagues. Hedge Laying, castrating lambs and docking their tails, weaning calves from the teat to the bucket, a pig in the sty that is reared for the freezer, haymaking. All of this is me and my Dad and my Grandad. Is it my son?

He loves village life and he is interested in rural life. He will pluck a chicken and has no problem eating it afterwards but there is a disconnect between him and his Grandfather that I feel is larger than the disconnect between me and mine. I know that there will always be change between the generations and I am not the same as my antecedents.

It is just that yesterday's post brought to the surface the journey from an Agricultural / Rural past to a  Commerce / Tech / Rural  present. Imagine referring to a latecomer to a meeting as "Winchcombe" as they hurry in and forget to shut the door behind them.

On a completely different tack, as I strode round the "Three Miler" this evening with T&M I paused and thought how little I would actually move if I didn't have the dogs. Working at home may save a large amount of travelling time and pollute the planet less but it is hardly good for the heart or the waistline. How far would I actually move if I didn't walk the dogs?

Well, the Three Miler is in the region of 5,200 yards if the local name for the walk is anywhere accurate. It takes me just over an hour but I have added bits to it and have created diversions over the fields and up the hill so I'm guessing that based on my rate of walking that is in the region of 3 miles. If I can be arsed I will dig out the Sat Nav one day and take it with me to see if it can get a more accurate distance.

If I didn't do that and worked from home there would be no walk from the car park to the office, the canteen at work is much further than the Coffee machine at home as are the lavatories etc etc. Do you see where I am going? I jotted down these estimates and the result is embarrassing:-

    • making coffee. 10 cups @ 16 yard return journey. 160 yards
    • WC visits. 5 visits @ 20 yard return journey. 100 yards
    • Letting out the chickens. 80 yards
    • Egg Collecting. 2 visits at 40 yards each. 80 yards
    • Shutting up the chickens 80 yards
    • Miscellaneous pottering. 200 yards
 Total Perambulation = somewhere in the region of 700 yards.

That's quite scary. Basically if I didn't have Tyson and Marauder I would need to keep to 7 kilo calories a day or they would be taking me out of here on a forklift and retrieving TV remotes from the folds for the next few weeks.

I dare you to carry out a few honest calcs of your own. Home working may be great for the planet but be careful as it may not be so good for you.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Dads & Daughters

I don't have a daughter, but my Dad does and he used to recite a rhyme; " A Son is a Son until he finds a wife But your Daughter is a Daughter for the rest of your life".

I suppose it is a commentary on the fact that sons tend to be less involved with their birth family once they marry and have one of their own whilst daughters tend to maintain a strong link with their birth family even after marriage.

Why do I type this? Maybe it is a way of recording something of my Dad. He has many sayings including the classic "You will lie in bed until the crows build a nest in your arse, and then you will wake and wonder how the sticks got there". I could go on at length, including the incredibly local "Oi Winchcombe put the wood in the 'ole!" which relates to a village near where he was born where the houses on the main street all had stable doors and the habit was to leave the top door open so that the passing world could be observed. The phrase is used now to refer to an individual who enters or leaves without closing the door.

He deserves a book rather than a Journal entry and I need to think long and hard before I attempt to put something worthy of him in here. He is a great Dad. He has his faults and failings and can be incredibly annoying at times but he is a great Dad and I need to do him justice. That is a good word because good and bad, something that reflect him in balance.

This week we finally sorted his birthday present. As I mentioned, a couple of days back, Dad has decided, 15 years after the loss of Patch, the family JRT, to have another dog. We - or rather 30% - has located the right breed, the right sex and the right colour and she will be ready literally days before his birthday. She is bred by Tyson's breeder so there is no concern over Puppy Farms or any of the many pitfalls of buying a dog nowadays. A deposit was sent off yesterday - by 30% - to reserve her and Dad was advised to only expect a card for the next 5 years or more.

You will note that 30% seemed to do much of this present sorting. Another of my Dad's sayings is "Why have a dog and bark yourself". For some reason I seem to have developed a sharp pain in my side. That would be 30% reading over my shoulder.

On the subject of dogs, Tyson has come in to her first season so we are excluded from Puppy Training for the next couple of weeks. It can be chaos with 14 or more puppies so imagine what the presence of a young bitch on heat would do!

Puppy class is on Tuesdays and Tyson's maturation was a perfect excuse not to go after a  long day with the customer. I did however manage to demonstrate a new level of meeting etiquette yesterday. I know that I stated that I don't write about work because it is not that interesting but this was mildly amusing.... after presenting to an assembled group for 3 hours I felt a little light headed and started to sweat profusely. I paused, and while the debate about delivery timescales progressed, I took my blood sugar with a portable kit that I carry. Hmm! 2.9 - no wonder I feel vague it should be 5 or slightly higher. That's being a diabetic and not having a break.

I closed my laptop, placed it in it bag and informed the meeting that I was diabetic, that my blood sugar had plummeted and that I needed to leave and eat adding that if I carried on I would make less sense than I had thus far.

That's one way to leave a meeting - especially when you are the lead speaker! Apparently it diffused the tension somewhat and stopped a productive session turning bad.

I'm guessing that its not a tactic that I can use on a regular basis though.

Monday, 21 June 2010


Yesterday was Fathers Day.

I have a Father and, allegedly, am one too. Therefore yesterday was set aside for me. I was expecting a parade and a couple of minutes for a personal homage/retrospective in the evening news. Neither of these happened.

It was however a lovely day. The sun shone which meant that the full English Breakfast that 30% had organised for Phil (FIL - Father-in-law "ish") and the rest of her immediate family could be taken out on the Terrace so we had a leisurely couple of hours pigging out on mostly pig. Home made sausage and bacon and the chickens pitched in with a few eggs to. I must admit that the melon, pineapple and strawberries were courtesy of Tesco.

I was then allowed to peruse the Motorcycle News and potter around for a couple of hours while 30% popped in to town to purchase a few bits and pieces. Its amazing what you get done when you don't have to do anything and the tax disk holder is now affixed to the Vespa and I have replaced the trailer light plug that Marauder chewed off a couple of weeks ago - AND IT WORKS.

Later on I popped over to see my Dad and took Tyson with me. She is great company in the car as she sits on the Bench Seat' leans against you and looks out of the window. Doesn't move around  or make a fuss - the perfect companion. My Dad adores her and was delighted to see her, He has recently decided to get another dog having been without one for 15 years and it was Tyson that precipitated that decision.

It must be hard to decide to make a decision to take on a companion that might outlive you but my Dad has taken that step. Mind you he is not alone as we met a couple at the Dog Training Demo on Saturday who are in their 80's and have a 14 month old Jack Russel. Now I know they were both "young" 80year olds but that dog is going to make at least 13 or 14. I suppose their kids will, at least, inherit a well trained JRT.

Tyson perfumed as expected; made a huge fuss of Dad then fell asleep on his feet until it was time to come home.

A leisurely evening featured beer and wine and then an early turn in as today is a school day.

Today, to quote Mark Williams, I 'ave been mostly preparing a PowerPoint presentation

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

I used to frequent a Forum for a period of time. Have you ever done that?

That's the way to take a random and hopefully not representative sample of the Internet community and God what a depressing experience that is. I popped back in there for a couple of minutes this morning before I came in to draft today's Journal entry and it was never like I'd been away.

Yep - my blood pressure was through the roof and I was frothing at the mouth at the pointless crap people will take the time to put forward in debate. Now I know that many will regard the stuff I write here as absolute rubbish, but you came to me. I don't put this forward as an opinion or argument and I don't put myself forward as a subject matter expert or guru in any particular knowledge or lifestyle area. I'm just a bad man living in the English Midlands recording his thoughts and days.

Forums or fora, apparently either plural is acceptable, are quite interesting places to dip in to but never make the mistake I made and join one. They are populated by some of the most truly dreadful people you will ever encounter. I've seen them all including "The only gay on the forum" who posted a lot of camp innuendo but knew absolutely nothing about the subject being discussed. I mean what is the point in waiting 5 minutes for a Microsoft OS PC to boot up plus a further 3 minutes to get some form of Broadband connectivity only to post "I cant help but I'm sure that someone will be along soon who can". For Christ's sake! Would you not re-read that before hitting the Post button and think "well that makes me look like a bit of a fuck wit doesn't it".

We are talking about common interest groups - I intentionally avoid the term community as the only sentence relevant to Forums with "Community" in it should also have the words "Care, in" and "the". - sorry, we are talking about common interest groups where Post Count is King. Every User has a post count which records the number of times they have made an entry in the Forum. Be very careful how you regards this statistic. The uninitiated might will think "Oh that person has made millions of posts, they must be an absolute expert on the subject". They might, but then again you might find that 87% of their posts are made up of "LOL" and "Hugs" and "Capital letters are regarded as SHOUTING".

If you are underneath a Ford Capri from the early 80's and need to know the easiest way to remove the rear axle do you really want to put your trust in an anonymous man who works all day as an Accounts Clerk and then spends his evenings in front of a computer either putting unmoderated bullshit in to a Forum or cruising free porn websites? That way lies bruised knuckles and a large piece of metal falling on your upper body, or if you are him, a huge post count and a sore wrist. Get yourself a Haynes Manual or talk to the Guy down the street who spends his evenings lying underneath a Capri.

It amazes me that people access Fora via the Internet but then seem to forget that they are using a colossal information repository and ask the most basic of questions. I kid you not, I checked out the Forum I used to frequent and a Poster was referring to a Lhasa Apso. I'm not going to go in to why they were asking about a dog on a Poultry forum but, and this is the point, they posted " Lhasa, I'm not sure of the spelling". Have these people never noticed that Google actually has "Do you mean" functionality where it checks the spelling our your searches and gives you alternatives in case you can't spell. How stupid are you when you type a word that you aren't sure how to spell, point out that you aren't sure how to spell it and don't bother using the Internet to check the spelling. Would you want to take advice from a person with that level of intellect?

I could go on ad infinitum about that Forum but I will finish with this. A poster titled their post as URGENT - Sick Chicken and then went on about how concerned they were and how they needed immediate advice as they were absolutely beside themselves with worry over the sick bird. ..... Yep ... so bloody concerned that they went to their PC and wrote a post. Didn't think to pop it in a cardboard box and run it over to the vets.

Friday, 18 June 2010


I woke this morning and the alarm clock said just gone 4. I congratulated the aforementioned timepiece at having evolved to such a point that it no longer gave any unnecessary precision in the time it displayed.

Aside.... How many times do you actually need to know the precise time? Generally to the nearest 5 minutes is more than adequate. So why are clocks so precise? Mind you, Commander Data couldn't contract "is not" to "isn't" so I'm guessing that if Doctor Noonien Soongh couldn't do it then current Horologists are going to find it a bit beyond them to give me a clock that says " time to get off to work" rather than "8:15".

I nearly died at the thought of tossing and turning for three hours so did what all good Atheists do and prayed for sleep. Fortunately the Gods, who don't exist, smiled on me and the next thing I knew Jon Humphrys was announcing the news at 7.

So where is this going? Part of my early Morning ritual is to feed Potato the contents of a Whiskas Pouch.

Now I know this is not an original comment but why are cat foods not sparrow and mouse flavour rather than Tuna and Salmon? Have you seen a Tuna? They are Ocean Monsters that can easily get to 9 or 10 feet long and weigh hundreds of lbs. Now I know that Eddy claims to have beaten a bear in a fight but can you really see a Moggy diving from a Helicopter in to the Southern Ocean to wrestle a Tuna to the surface in time for tea? Imagine finding that corpse has been dragged through the cat flap.

Alright I'm getting there... Potato is not original in his approach. He winds himself around your legs and meows until you trip over him or get sick of the noise. He then gets a pouch of cat food and I get a moments peace. Now recently he has taken to scoffing a couple of pouches which is not a big deal as he is a large tabby. But this week I have found that he is applying the same technique to 30% and seems to be getting through 3 or more pouches for Brekky and then retiring to the sofa with a stomach that looks like it actually has a Bluefin Tuna stuffed inside it.

Have you ever seen the film Cool Hand Luke? It is a classic piece of cinema starring a young Paul Newman as a prison inmate. I'm not going to run through the plot here but if you are not familiar I would definitely add it to the list of films to see before you die. Putting aside that cheerful thought, there is a scene in the movie where Newman decides to take on a wager that he can eat 50 hard boiled eggs in an hour. It has to be seen but there a point where Newman is having his distended stomach massaged to facilitate the progress of the eggs and Potato's current gluttony reminded me of this classic film.

I found a Cool Hand Luke DVD in Potato's favourite lair the other day and the chickens' production has been down a bit of late too. If I find a scrawled wager in his fur coat I'll have the proof I need. He's up to no good.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

and what do you do?


My day started with a 6 at the front of the time rather than a 5 which was a great improvement.

The end of the working week is drawing closer and the sooner CoB, Friday arrives the better.

I try not to write much about work as it is not particularly interesting unless you are directly involved. Think about it. How long do you listen to your partner when they are in full rant mode about their working day and the trials and tribulations before there is that sense of distance and you try to calm them down and get them off the work rails and on to the domestic tracks? Unless you are directly involved, much of another person's job is purely academic and, unless they are involved in something truly amazing, do you really want to hear about their working day?

.... Be honest!...

Now if I was deep in the jungles of Borneo discovering new species at every step or a member of International Rescue flying off in Thunderbird 2 to rescue miners trapped underground then I might expect a mild interest in my job and the associated Journal entries might make a worthwhile read.

But, I work in the field of Computer Services and that is never going to have you gasping for breath in a PMSL moment. I mean, if I were Pilot of TB2 I would have some cracking photos to drop in to this post.... Thunderbird 4 with Gordon Tracy at the helm slowly being released in to a blue sea to seal a cracked pipe - TAKE NOTE BP. Mind you that may be the problem, their risk management strategy may have been to hope that International Rescue would turn up and save the day in 58 minutes flat including commercial breaks.

However me frothing at the mouth on a conference call is never going to be as spectacular however, having seen the directory photos of some of my colleagues a snap from a face to face meeting might interest the Biologist currently working in Borneo.

This is why I tend not to go in to detail about my job. Mind you there was a mildly amusing incident this morning during a conference call.....

.... actually there wasn't. I have just re-read the paragraph below and it's not amusing. I've therefore edited it out and will leave you to come up with a possible scenario that is funny and might have happened. It's about time this Journal became a bit more of a two way arrangement

When we meet people one of the commonest questions we ask is "What do you do?" Why do we ask this? The answers we get are rarely fascinating and I think that this question is more about social positioning than an actual interest in what another person does for a living. When did you last ask someone what they did and actually career off in to a fascinating and lively chat?

Mind you - true story - I was at an acquaintance's wedding a few years back chatting with the Bride and she blurted out that she used to, shall we say, "host a Gentleman's Chat Service" back in Australia.

You should have seen the Groom's face.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Any Sauces with those words Sir?

It is Godawful o'clock on Wednesday. Yes, I'm still rising early and I prefer any five that is involved in my waking time to be associated with minutes past rather than hours of the the clock!

On Sunday I mentioned that Tyson and Marauder were up for their Kennel Club Bronze award at Dog Training. They have come on really well but the challenge of remaining in a single position under the "STAY" command for a period of 1 minute was going to be very challenging, especially in a room full of dogs that they had never met before. About as much chance as Gazza* walking past a pub.

Well I'm eating my words because they both passed that, and all the other tests, and now have a certificate and rosette to declare their canine good citizenship. TP handles Marauder and it was great for him to have succeeded when a couple of more experienced adults didn't quite make the grade yesterday. I did point out that doing the L on the forehead Loser sign was not quite the appropriate etiquette at the class. I'll hastily add that this is fabricated and he behaved impeccably.

So, what was our secret? Well a good three mile walk and an hours training session meant that both dogs were pretty exhausted by the time they got to the test and a chance to sit or lie for a minute with the idiot handler stood 10 feet away shouting WAIT sternly seemed like an opportunity for a bit of a breather for T&M.

..... and there's more .... T&M, oh and TP and me too, have been invited to join a select group to give a Dog Training demonstration at the Summer Church Fayre in a local Market Town on Saturday.

Other stuff - I forgot to mention that the other bike was picked up on Monday and is having its carbs cleaned, new rubber and an MOT during the next week. TP is very keen on this as that bike has a pillion seat and he is now of the age where he can come out for a spin. He now has his eye on a set of Leathers that he has found on eBay.


* Shame he didn't have either the looks or talent of George Best

Tuesday, 15 June 2010


I have, of late, not been sleeping well.

Now taking in to account that I am an early riser and am pretty busy at both work and home means that I am absolutely shattered. This is what doesn't make sense. Busy = tired. Tired = sleep. But not in my case at the present. I can get off to sleep reasonably well and tend to go to sleep at a civilised hour now I am in my middle years. 30% is more of an owl than me but even she like to be in bed well before the witching hour, especially on a school night.

The problem is that I am waking early, very early and end up lingering in an unsatisfying, unrewarding doze that gives no ease or respite from fatigue. I don't know what it is. I take plenty of exercise, T & M take care of that. I don't drink caffeinated coffee after 7 in the evening. I don't eat late at night.

I just want to sleep the sleep of the dead and wake at 7 - or 8.30 at the weekends - refreshed and ready for the day.

"Ah!" I hear you say "its your mattress". No its not. We have one of those fantastic Tempur type foam ones that mould to your body and is one of the most comfortable things I have ever slept on. We bought it a couple of years ago when I was was so fed up with the previous traditional mattress that, in true bad man style, 30% was dispatched to buy a new bed and mattress and not to come home without them. Now 30% loves a challenge - "Yes, and you're one of them" - THANK YOU 30%! and she did brilliantly. She cam home with a beautiful french oak number that she found in the sale a a local furniture emporium and a fancy new mattress was fully researched and ordered on-line.

It's great - but at the moment its not working. Perhaps my bed has lost its mojo. If that's the case I'll bet its bloody Marauder. That dog chews everything.

A couple of days back T&M were in the garden and M had decided she was bored and chewed the trailer light board plug off. You know, the thing that you plug in to the back of the Prius so that the lights on the trailer work. TP and I had only fixed the light board on to the trailer a couple of weeks before and now I have to get a new plug and wire it up.

But I digress. I do have a theory about beds. "I somehow thought you might" - quote 30% - or perhaps more of a question. Why don't they make beds the same way as they make sofas?

"What?" Why don't they make beds the same way as they make sofas? I have absolutely no problem falling asleep on a settee and when I wake up I feel fantastic. If you think about it it makes no sense. A sofa is nowhere near as spacious as a bed, has no duvet or pillows and generally involves a degree of contortion in order to enter the land of dreams but it works. An hour on the sofa equals at least three in a bed especially if they are stolen hours on a weekend afternoon.

I'll state with no fear of dissent that sofa's never loose their mojo and will always grant you the sleep of the gods. So why can't beds?

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Hopping Cats

Sunday, the traditional day of rest. Where did I go wrong?

A leisurely breakfast in the garden and then we got our collective arses in to gear; 30% hit the ironing mountain while I finished priming the woodwork in the kitchen and broke out the emulsion for the ceiling.

TP skulked off and plugged himself in to the XBox.

That pretty much tied up the bulk of the day until 30% and I broke off and took Tyson and Marauder off for a walk. Early on 30% spotted a clump of wild horseradish among the docks and we made a mental note to harvest a root of it later in the year.

Back to the dogs, T & M are now 9 and 7 months old respectively and are doing pretty well with the Dog Training. The are actually up for their Kennel Club Bronze certificate next Tuesday but I think they have the proverbial "cats chance" of getting it. One of the tests is to "stay" in a single position for 60 seconds in a room full of other young dogs. That's like expecting a Chav to walk past a chip shop or coke can in the gutter.

I digress. what I was getting round to was the fact that T&M now run off the lead for most of the walk. Now this has made me nervous because I expect them to rush off and maul children as Staffies are prone to do.... I should remind you that they are not Staffies and neither do I have an Engerland Vest nor a tendency to walk around Community Housing Projects looking like I have tennis balls shoved under my armpits.

No, I'm nervous because thus far they have not really noticed the multitude of rabbits that are now hopping about in the hedgerows. T&M are retrievers of birds by their breeding and this shows. They fix on a bird as soon as it launches skyward and they are absolutely hysterical as they career around the hay fields trying to catch the swallows that circle just above the long grass  catching insects for their broods.

I was worried that they would approach rabbits with the same vigour and end up racing half way across the county or getting themselves caught up in a barbed wire fence.

As 30% and I walked along a rabbit popped out and ran down the line of the hedge, T & M ran off after it but it was all very half hearted and there was no frantic investigation off the point where the bunny entered the hedge. It was at that point that I had my Eureka moment.

It suddenly dawned on me that Eddy is a three legged, grey tabby with no tail. So a rabbit in the distance tends to look and probably more importantly move very much like Eddy. No wonder the dogs are not overly enthusiastic about chasing rabbits. You should see the aggression they get from Eddy when they have chased him in the past. They probably think that the rabbits are crazed psychotics with paws equipped with the latest in ninja claws. Let's hope, for their sake, that the dogs never find out the truth.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Hospital Food

Just Kidding.

30% took me over to Cheltenham this morning and by the time I got there I was somewhat tense. Not "wired" but it is fair to say tense.

We wandered in to the ward and there she was, sat by the bed in all her glory. She looked great, yellow paintwork gleaming. No fancy graphics or decals. Just yellow paint and subtle text advising that she is a Ducati, has 4 valves per cylinder and 996 cubic centimeters displacement.

Tim Hyett is the chap who had taken her from something looking like it had been a perch for chickens for the last 4 years to something that looked like it had just rolled out of the showroom.

We chatted and joked for a while, flexed the plastic and then 30% left and there was no more to say. Time to get on with it.

When you do something that you haven't done for a long time people say "its just like riding a bike". You never forget. As a threw a leg over the tail piece I hoped they were right. Press alarm fob to take it from Service Mode to alarm off, press choke button which gives a preset amount of throttle turn on the ignition and hear the fuel pump whirr, nudge the side stand so it springs up and press the starter button.

The sound is indescribable. I thought I could write a reasonable couple of paragraphs but I can't give you any idea of what a V-twin sound like through Termignoni race pipes. It rattles and thuds. It roars and growls. The best I can manage it to say "imagine that God race tuned his tractor" but that comes nowhere near.

After a couple of minutes the temperature gauge needle has lifted off the stop and there is no excuse not to move off. Clutch in, select first, a reasonable amount of throttle and slowly release the clutch......

..... and it all comes back to me. Not in a flood but slowly seeping back. The first few junctions are nervous episodes as the mirrors aren't quite right and I'm still adjusting to a bike that it very tall. remember Borrowers call me short arse.

She also has new tyres that haven't been scrubbed in yet so I know that I need to corner carefully for the first hundred miles or so.

By the time I get to the M5 I having a riot of a time the sound, the vibrations, the response. The motorway is not her natural habitat but neither is chugging through Cheltenham at lunchtime and in view of my lack of recent riding experience a straightforward route seemed the best. I had forgotten just how responsive she is and am cruising between 70 and 80 in 3rd or 4th gear. A gap appears and a slight twist of the throttle and she takes off like a scalded cat.

The final dozen miles are down a smooth twisty A road and by then it is definitely all coming back to me. By the time I get home I want to stop so I can revel but want to carry on too.

Reality kicks in and I turn in to the drive. She is not yet taxed and consequently I am only permitted to ride her directly back from a pre-arranged MOT. So it is straight to the DVLA website to flex the plastic further.

So now she sits sheeted in the garage. Connected to a Optimate to keep her battery at peak charge level.

Apologies if this is a bit Top Gear but don't worry. Tomorrow I'll give you my theory on why Tyson and Marauder don't really chase rabbits.

Friday, 11 June 2010

VE Day approaches.

What! That was weeks ago.

Yes, true but VE, in this instance, stands for Vespa Entertainment as I am reliably informed that she is ready for collection tomorrow. The Senior Consultant has rung and scared the living daylights out of my by saying that they couldn't issue a MOT certificate due a mismatch between the bike registration and the frame number.

After peeling me off the ceiling where I was hanging from the lamp frothing at the mouth thinking that I had a "ringer" he advised that this is quite common and he just needed me to fax over a copy of the registration document and they would be able to sort out the problem. Basically all down to bloody computers. Actually I have a strong suspicion that Dante's Nine Circles of Hell may actually be involved with the DVLA computer system. Curse Them.

He also advised that she looked absolutely beautiful and was in stunning condition for her age once all the crap and spiders' webs had been washed away. Obviously the members of the Arachnid Special Forces has been covering her with a protective web as a token of gratitude for me not hoovering them up or finding any other way to exterminate them.

How do I feel? To be honest this week has been very intense at work and it has distracted me from thinking about riding a bike that I haven't ridden for 4-5 years and is quite capable of speeds in excess of 160 mph.

How do I feel now the week is winding down and I have time to actually think about? Apprehensive in a good way sums it up.

Hopefully tomorrow's Blog will not be written from A&E.

Thursday, 10 June 2010



Titfer, titfer tat - Hat.

I have a love / hate relationship with the rain. Watching it pour down from behind a window is fascinating. Stair rods driving down from the sky with no way of knowing when it will end. Watching the puddles start to form and merge and the transient torrents that race down the High Street.

However, being caught in it unprepared is my definition of misery. Its that sodden feeling as it soaks your head and starts to run down your face, inside your collar and down the back of your neck. Why is is that when you head gets wet you feel wetter than if any other part of your body gets soaked?

Have you ever seen those dreadful posters of soaked kittens with some crappy tag line such as "Days Cant Get Worse Than This" and so forth. I cant stand them but they do seem to create a fundamental emotional link because, I think, deep down we all hate getting wet. There is nothing more miserable than being soaked unless one has a huge warm towel immediately to hand as one steps from the bath or shower.

Digression - now there are a couple of "what type of person are you" indicators; Towels, fluffy or rough? and Bath or Shower?

Take yesterday as an example; after a couple of very intense days at work, when I have not had time to call the Pest Eradication Guy about the giant sock worm, I finally found the time to take Tyson and Marauder out for a good long walk. After the ritual of filling pockets with dog biscuits, "poo" bags, mobile phone  - in case of attack by Allosaurus - and a snack - in case I'm a bit peckish after the aformentioned dinosaur incident - and the attaching of leads to dogs I'm off.

Wait a minute. I walk out of the door and see a heavy grey sky so scuttle back in for my hat.

I don't bother with a coat, a fleece will suffice, but a wet head? No way! Where is my hat.

The hat of choice for dog walking in the rain is a Stetson that I bought a few years ago in the States. What a hat. Now before you think that I am walking round the lanes with some 10 Gallon Monster that would swamp Hoss Cartwright at the Ponderosa in Bonanza it is a subtle little number that is slightly larger than a British Trilby but what an absolute design classic.

It is light and warm but doesn't bake your head in Summer. It is shower proof, in fact, as proved yesterday, it can stand a bloody good downpour, it shades your eyes in bright sunlight and it is pretty tough although the hat band did need to be thrown away after the hat fell off the peg and Marauder decided to chew the band off. The hat survived otherwise unscathed and was back to normal after a quick dust off. It folds flat when travelling and will revert back to shape. This has been tested in a camera bag for a period of a couple of weeks.

I know it would not be to every body's taste but you can see why it is so good because its design has evolved over many years based on testing and use. Try a Beanie hat or a Baseball cap in the same conditions and they would be absolute pants. In fact worse than pants on your head.

So this entry is an homage to my hat and the fact that it kept my head dry when the Heavens opened yesterday and did their worst.

Incidentally, I'm getting used to the giant sock worm and he is a real pussy cat once you get to know him. I may ask 30% if I can keep him as a pet.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Sock worms.

Over the past couple of weeks I seem to have been suffering from an attack of sock worms.

For anyone lucky enough not to have encountered them they are the moles of the sock drawer. Basically virtually every pair I have selected to go with the outfit chosen for the day has a nasty thin patch that looks like it has been made from a fine net.

This is obviously an example of evolution in progress and I must get in touch with Richard Dawkins about this. When I was a child - "What do you mean, WHEN?" quote 30% - the sock worms used to gnaw large holes in socks usually in the heel or toe area. They were obviously gaining nourishment from the sock and possibly using some of the sock fluff for nesting material. Nowadays the species of sock worm that have infested my sock draw seem to graze over the ball of the foot areas leaving a thin area that is not a hole but is definitely not a sock.

This is either evolution or a species new to science. What concerns me is that, like most people, my sock drawer is in close proximity to my underwear draw and the effects of sock worms grazing on my magic pants could be catastrophic. Imagine the possible results. I could climb the stairs and find some colossal annelid that looks like it belongs in Star Wars - remember, the one that lived in the asteroid and nearly ate the Millennium Falcon - or Frank Herbert's Dune thrashing around on the landing with the most fearsome jaws dripping ooze on to the rug.

This is obviously not a scenario I want to walk in to because I have quite a lot of work on at the moment and really don't need to have to be Googling giant worm pest eradication and then waiting ages for the man to come round because "its that time of year" and "You wouldn't believe how common a problem these are nowadays".

So, appropriate measures have been taken. Any socks showing signs of infestation have been removed from the drawer and have been incinerated in a device formerly used for dealing with biohazardous materials thrown away. The chest of drawers has been professionally fumigated.- "About time too" quote 30%- and a friend of a friend has advised us to use lavender. For the Love of God! I want them dead, not smelling nice and think that DDT would be more appropriate.

30% came home via the supermarket and presented me with a bundle of Leisure Socks. "I saw these and thought of you" she said with an ironic expression that clearly meant that she felt the term leisure was most appropriate.

Now, I have never seen a "made outside the EEC" persons foot but I know that foot binding has been illegal for may years so I am pretty sure that "made outside the EEC" feet look very much like any other human feet on the planet. Why, then, is a "made outside the EEC" sock shaped like a baggy, fluffy tube with a slight bend about half way along its length? Also, WAKE UP - One size does not fit all. If you make socks that are size 6-11 you are fine if you have giant clod hopper feet but if you foot is diminutive you are going to end up with a load of surplus sock bunched up at the end of your shoes.

You put the dreadful things on, walk around for about 30 seconds and the bloody things seem to rotate around their longitudinal axis so that the pseudo heel sits on top of your foot making them irritating at best and damned uncomfortable if you are wearing shoes.

After the attack of the sock worm and the failed trial of "made outside the EEC" leisure socks  I took a trip to a reliable supplier of Gentleman's apparel and found that it is still possible to buy socks that are the same size and shape as my feet. If you lay them out they are foot shaped. They have heels and toes and come in a range of sizes that they fit inside shoes.

I see from the news yesterday that Sir Terry Leahy is leaving Tesco. Obviously my letter of complaint about the socks had the impact I had hoped for. I shall expect the new Guy to fall on his sword if I ever buy a corked bottle of wine.

Monday, 7 June 2010

If it goes off this could be messy

Today sees me back at work after a week off.

Unfortunately the world hasn't undergone a quantum shift in the past 7 days and stupidity still reigns supreme in the dimensions I inhabit. Still, never mind, the "optimeter" is giving quite a good reading.

Optimeter - Definition, noun . A wine glass shaped device that is filled with a red or straw coloured liquid. By observing the level of the liquid in the container one can determine how the day has gone; well or badly. Paradoxically, sometimes the lower the level, the better the day went.

I have had a call from the Vespa's Senior Consultant to say that she will be discharged next weekend. I have also had some news about the possibility of journeying through a different Circle of Hell at Dante's all of which lead me to think that today is going slightly better than expected.

Eddy has decided to climb on to my lap and give me his own peculiar brand of feline Shiatsu Massage as today is the first day in a week that I have sat in front of a PC for any great length of time, This is all quite charming but Tyson has noticed and, being the possessive type, has put her paws on my lap and her nose millimeters away from Eddy.

This is a "Do I cut the red wire or the blue wire?" moment.

It's not Tyson that is the concern it is Eddy. Since he had his fight with the bear he has a strong sense of his own mortality - or should that be fel ality? I hold my breath as Eddy weighs up Tyson's threat rating. Am I about to have a three legged cat go off in my lap? Basically the table and laptop are going to direct that explosive force right in to my groin, chest and face.I estimate that the explosion is definitely going to be equivalent to having a quantum marmoset reach critical mass.

After tense seconds that feel like eons Eddy slips away under the table and a sense of calm is restored.

Sunday, 6 June 2010


Today was truly domestic.... in a not too arduous way.

30% and I breakfasted together in the garden which was leisurely as the local feed merchant doesn't open until 10 o'clock on Sundays and there was no point starting painting in the kitchen and then having to break off to pick up half a dozen bags of layers pellets.

So, that was it a trip in the Prius to pick up chicken food and then a day of painting. 30% was on emulsion and I was priming the woodwork.

The Pile is a mix of ancient and neglected and re-built so we are either painting new wood or stripping back donkey's years of old, chipped paint work back to the original. The end result, irrespective of age, is that there is no "quick sand down and a coat of satinwood". All of the wood is bare and needs a couple of coats of undercoat primer followed by a couple of coats of satinwood to get a decent finish. This means that there are no short cuts to be had and all rooms are a chore to say the least.

The wine glass is half full so I will say that at least it will be easier the next time we need to decorate.

TP returned from a trip to see Grandma in deepest, darkest Surrey in time for us to take Tyson and Marauder through the rain sodden fields in the late afternoon sun. That's British weather for you, iron grey skies and stair rods followed by blue skies and sun.

Back to work tomorrow - probably best if I don't dwell on that one.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Decoration is 90% Preparation

And don't I know it.

Yesterday just about broke the back of the prep work in the kitchen and 30% and I may actually start applying paint to the kitchen rather than removing it, which we seem to have been doing for the past couple of days.

Today's agenda see us off to my Dads to steal his lawnmower water his plants as he is back from Sunny Saundersfoot tomorrow. Then a trip to the Supermarket before returning to my penance in the kitchen. Do you know, reading this, I don't know how I contain my excitement.

Oh - I do have a little moan from yesterday. As an interlude between sanding and moving Village Idiot's sheep I paid a visit to the local Orthopaedic Clinic as one off my fingers has an annoying habit of locking in a position. Before you  start thinking "its the middle one that locks upright" even I wouldn't stoop to a joke that cheap and easy.

My appointment was at 4 o'clock but they called mid morning and asked if I could come in around half past one as they were running early. Now this caused some surprise because their modus operandi is to see me between 1 and 2 hours after the set appointment time - this is a recurring condition.

So, off I toddle and turn up just before one thirty and announce my presence at the desk; "a bad man here. I have an appointment at 4 but you called and asked me to.......".

The receptionist affixed me with her good eye, completed a quick visual , made a diagnosis of time waster and said "Ya, it vas me zat called. Sit zere and vait".

... and so I did. I needn't have worried. They have become more sophisticated under the new NHS management systems. They bring my appointment forward making me think "ooh, that's good" and then see me 30 minutes after the revised appointment time just so I don't get nostalgic for the old times when I could read a couple of  aged, torn and coffee stained copies of Hello or the Saga magazine.

I didn't realise it was possible to be late and early at the same time. This suggests that they may have quantum monkeys managing my local hospital rather than the normal sort of monkeys that I previously thought were in charge.

Friday, 4 June 2010

It's the carbs

I found time yesterday to have another fiddle with the other bike and again managed to start her but she has developed a habit of dumping a quantity of petrol over the garage floor instead of running. Using my limited deductive powers I tried starting her with the fuel cock switched off and it was a Doctor Frankenstein "IT LIVES!" moment. Swiftly followed by an "It's Died" moment when I turned the fuel on and flooded it.

This suggests that the carburetters are gummed up with old fuel deposits and will need a bit of attention to get her to run for anything more that a few seconds. Now my mechanical skills are at the "take it off, put it back on" level and I think cleaning precision balanced components and hoping they will work afterwards is probably beyond me plus the garage isn't the cleanest environment to work in so a trip to the Workshop needs to be arranged.

30% and I have made a damn good start on the Kitchen with much filling and sanding. That pretty much sums up what will be happening today too.

Yesterday evening's entertainment was in the form of the Village Idiot turning up with two frozen mackerel - Don't Ask, Just Don't Ask - and requesting assistance to load his few sheep in to a trailer so he can drop them off at a local farm for shearing. I said I was up for this and would pop round this evening adding that the mackerel were quite likely to find their way in to our Hot Smoker.

VI then advised that he had a forthcoming appointment at the Magistrates Court as a result of a misunderstanding with the DSS or whatever they are called now. He had previously had a few interviews about sums of cash in certain  bank accounts that invalidated claims he was making and thought he was in the clear when they simply advised that he needed to pay back the over claim. It now seems that they have decided that a court appearance is in order too.

30% and I have recently been giving the matter of employment a lot of consideration in view of our recent brushes with redundancy and as tax payers VI's incredibly blase view of what basically distills down to fraud didn't meet with our approval. As a result 30% gave VI both barrels and pointed out quite clearly and concisely that she did not appreciate VI coming round and, to use the modern idiom, "giving it the Large" about making fraudulent claims and the minimal punishment he was likely to get from the Magistrates in view of his heart condition that prevents him from working but doesn't seem to stop him from doing quite a lot of decorating and gardening "on the side".

I could wax lyrical about VI but it is definitely a case of extremely eccentric inbred ingrate.....

... and after after moving 10 of his sheep off to a local farm for sheering I hope he looks kindly upon me when his lambs have been butchered because the bugger certainly owes me a cheap one!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

As Predicted.

As predicted; many things were done yesterday but sanding the wood work in the kitchen was not one of them.

As hoped: the ham hock at "The Ugly Sister" was very good - totally inappropriate to the time of year - but very good, as was the lemon meringue and the two G&Ts that accompanied it.

As wished: I found twenty minutes in the schedule to connect the battery and insert new spark plugs in the "other bike". On the off chance I tried the starter a few times, not really expecting much as there was a few cc of oil in each of the cylinders which keeps the bores lubricated but needs to be expelled before we have ignition. For a brief moment she purred in to life, not stuttered, not coughed, but purred. It is a sound I haven't heard for far too long and I am talking years plural not months.

It is a good job that the meal at the Ugly Sister was so good as that was why I was dragged from the garage yesterday evening.

As planned: TP and I knocked up a couple of batches of sausages. 12 lbs in all. About 5 lbs of Sweet Chili which are self explanatory and are great either for breakfast or on a barbecue. The remainder were a Gloucester Sausage which is a mixture of pork, suet, fresh sage, marjoram, nutmeg and salt and pepper. The recipe calls for water to moisten it before stuffing but my hand fell  upon a can of cider and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today TP is off to his Grandma's for a few days so 30% and I may actually make a start on prepping the kitchen rather than finding many other less important, but more enjoyable, things to do instead.

I'll leave you with these thoughts. The World Cup is approaching and that raises my heartbeat, blood pressure and pulse rate.

Yes, that's right, I loathe football.  Do I rant or not? To be honest it's not worth getting up tight about because its a game and nothing more.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

I dont know how I find the time for work

Today sees Marauder off to the Dog Groomer for her first "grown up" hair cut. Tyson had hers done a couple of weeks back and went looking like a hearth rug and came back looking like a racing snake. Since then Marauder, who is normally the happiest dog in the village, has been moping around with a look that says "This haircut makes me look fat". With the weather allegedly warming up being clipped will make their lives more comfortable than they are at present although I find it hard to see how life could improve for two Staffies that have their every need anticipated and fulfilled.

30% and I are off work this week with the aim of decorating the kitchen. As this is our number one priority so far all we have managed to do is clear the room and looking at this morning's agenda I think it will be an early lunch before I start sanding.... Oh no it won't because I have to go and pick Marauder up at lunch time and then they will need a walk..... and so it goes on. Its a wonder we ever actually achieve anything.

I'm not kidding I'm pretty sure that this morning goes like this:-
  1. Take "M" to Groomers
  2. Go to Screwfix for sand paper (half sheet roll, 240 grit)
  3. Go to B&Q to exchange the lights
  4. Make a couple of batches of sausages
  5. Decorate the Kitchen
Ah well - it is a good job that 30% is the patient type. Mind you she would be in hypocrisy corner if she wasn't as she did play a part in drafting this virtual list.

Yesterday I mentioned that I was tempted back to the Pub by the presence of a Ham Hock on its menu but that it seemed more a winter warmer than a seasonal dish suitable for a June evening.

Well it threw it down for most of yesterday and this morning I woke to a fog blanketing the High Street. Thank you weather, a trip is now planned to the Pub for supper this evening. Perhaps we were a bit premature in booking "M" in at the Salon.

There are two Pubs in the village; a picturesque half timbered place that sits by the village green and is deemed to be a lovely place to sit outside on a sunny evening, the other is 75 yards away and sits on the High Street. They are a bit like two sisters; seen separately both are quite pretty, but seen together.....

Now this is a shame because the Ugly Sister is not run by a sour faced, rake of a woman with the Customer Service skills of a 17 year old on a checkout at Matalan, it has plenty of space to sit and enjoy a meal or drink, does not deem it necessary to charge London prices for its drinks and actually serves very good food based on Monday's sampling.

So why does it change hands so often?  Before I get to that I probably need to point out that the Ugly Sister dates back to at least the 1500's has a Georgian Frontage and is all slate floors and beams inside.It is a lovely pub. The problem is that the Prettier Sister is just that, prettier still.

She sits on the Green slightly away from the main road and is chocolate box pretty and therefore a delight to sit outside in Summer and is snug in winter with a fire burning in the Inglenook. She also has a peculiar fame as it is alleged that she is the basis for a fictional pub and draws in quite a few visitors because of it.

Hence the pretty sister really knows how to work it and despite being cramped, expensive and serving only average comestibles gets the Lions share of the custom. I'm guessing that one is working on a repeat business model and the other on ripping off the "one time" visitor. At the moment it looks like superficiality is winning hands down.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

And, Relax.

Yesterday saw a rare visit by 30%'s sister and her boyfriend. They are not particularly close but get on well enough so we had a leisurely morning in the garden drinking coffee and exchanging news. Time did what it does so well and flew by. Before we knew it it was half past lunch and we were starving.

30% and I were suffering from a large dose of "can't be arsed" and therefore decided that we should try out the less picturesque of the two pubs in the village rather than rustle up some lunch. The village grapevine had suggested it was well worth a visit as the food was good and the prices were reasonable.

Now with this pub you need to be very careful about how you treat this news as it changes hands more frequently than your average person changes their socks so just because it was good last week when a dog walking acquaintance found it to be "serving excellent pub grub in relaxed and informal surrounds" means nothing. We could well be heading towards a Gastro Pub that has eye watering prices and decides that you really want to see 20% food and 80% plate or even worse a Harvester!

Fortunately it was still under the same Management Team and the food was good. We only had a light lunch but I am tempted back by the menu description of a Ham Hock served on an Apple and Mustard Mash. Probably more "winter warmer" that light Summer Supper but with English weather I should be able to report back within the next few days.

The afternoon saw a tramp round the lanes with Tyson & Marauder and then I retired to the garage for an hour or so to tinker with my latest project.

I have previously mentioned that the Vespa is in an expensive Cheltenham Private Clinic undergoing exotic and expensive treatments as it rightly deserves so my other neglected bike is having to undergo a more "herbal" or DIY approach on its journey to road worthiness. The fairings are off, the plugs are out and the oil drained. I'm now at the point where I need to start putting things back. In a few days it will be a gallon of unleaded, a turn of the key and a push of the starter if all goes to plan.

I had been appointed chef for the evening so I knocked up a Spaghetti Carbonara with eggs from the hens and a piece of bacon that I had cured and smoked a couple of months ago. A side salad and a glass of weak battery acid - sorry a light white wine - suited it well enough.

I've been curing bacon for a while now and am really pleased with the results I have been getting. Done properly there is nothing finer that a decent bacon sandwich and I was getting more and more disillusioned with the excuses for bacon most shops sell. I have had some premium stuff and it is very good but expensive and still short of the mark so I dug out a recipe from the Internet and set to. All of my attempts were edible and deemed good by those in the know but a little trial and error plus a heap of encouragement from a Rare Breed Pig Farmer and Butcher and we are now producing some excellent bacon.

At the moment I don't have a Bacon Slicer so have to slice it by had with a knife - Shame that - I cant get it wafer thin and have to put up with 4 - 5mm thick slices of home cured and smoked bacon. This leads me neatly on to one of my bacon sandwich theories or perhaps metrics. I feel that there is an important bread : bacon ration that once attained or exceeded turns a mediocre sarnie in to a butty of distinction.

This isn't complicated. This is how you do it. Take bacon from fridge and start to cook it. That's it - all of it. Then start to assemble the sandwich. If you partner gasps and says words to the effect of "Your not putting all of that in one sandwich" or the more succinct "You greedy pig" you are probably getting close to the correct bread : bacon ratio.

On the subject of sauce, you can put what you like with commercial bacon but would you ask for ketchup to go with a perfectly cooked piece of Longhorn sirloin that had been hung for a minimum of 21 days? I think not.

Right, when I made the Carbonara I made sure that I left a few rashers for this morning. Breakfast time I think.