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Not posting today!

11 May

I was going to write another irrelevant post today but instead I peered into my spam folder. So entertaining did I find it that I decided to read through them all, well almost all there was quite a bit of repetition down there.

Apparently my website is ‘rely nice’ and ‘I share my sex dating’ – must have been this post.

More prose:

‘I used to be recommended this blog via my cousin. I’m no longer certain whether this post is written by way of him as nobody else understand such designated approximately my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thank you!’

He’s dead right, it’s not written by way of him any more but I do try to understand his such designated approximately difficulty, really I do!

‘I truly appreciated this gorgeous weblog. Make confident you maintain up the very good function. Very best Regards’

Always nice to be appreciated. I certainly will make confident I maintain up the very good function. He must be talking about my liver!

‘I’ve been browsing on-line greater than three hours nowadays, yet I never discovered any attention-grabbing article like yours. It’s lovely price enough for me. Personally, if all site owners and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the internet will likely be a lot more useful than ever before’

Too bloody right mate. I’ve always insisted that my just right content was a lovely price enough for anyone.

Does this count as an irrelevant article? Maybe today hasn’t been wasted after all.

So much the time ever did I make the function, if you get my meaning!

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Dandelions

10 May

Dandelions get bad press in my opinion, unwanted in gardens and dismissed as ‘just weeds’ by heathens out there but they are so much more. They are a lovely plant. Striking flowers and dreamy fluffy seeds.

Dandelion Frootz

Not only do they look nice but they have many uses. They can be medicinal. They are good for digestion and the liver and kidneys. They are a diuretic and are also known as piss-a-bed, presumably for that very reason! Liquid obtained from boiling the roots and leaves in water can be used as a cleansing wash.

It can be used as a dye for clothes.

They are edible. The young leaves can be put into salads or cooked in butter. The flowers are used to make dandelion wine. Dandelion and Burdock is a classic country drink in this country, a kind of root beer not to be confused with some of the horrible industrially produced versions in supermarkets. Brewers also put them into more modern beers. In addition, the roots can also be roasted and made into a caffeine-free coffee. Need I say more?!

Anyway, I don’t think I can be bothered to do any of the above for the time being so I’ll make do with some photos of them. Far less time-consuming.

Fluffy Clouds n ting

Admittedly this one is rubbish but all of the essential parts apart from the root can be seen!!!

I Love Tiles

22 Apr

I might be a bit weird. It’s not just beer and food that I love, I love tiles too. I love the tiles that you see forgotten between shops, tiles that you see in old pubs, tiles that you find on the floor of Victorian porches and tiles that you see down tube stations.

Tiles in the tube

I’ve no interest in bathroom tiles mind!

Things I no longer like #1

21 Apr

If being positive is all about making yourself happy, I’ve come to the realisation that moaning often makes me very happy indeed. I very much like the idea of things not being as good as they used to be as it’s something we can nearly all relate to in one way or another. We all get older after all. However, I’m going to spin that on its head and list a number of things that I used to like but don’t any more. To be fair, that’s not really spinning anything on its head but I wanted to use that phrase so I did.

Sweets

Sweets are really just poison in chewy form. I cannot imagine how I derived any pleasure from sticking a luminous rubbery hose in my mouth and masticating! Hang around groups of school kids after school and you’ll see what I mean. They stink of sweets and all have multi-coloured mouths. On second thoughts, DON’T hang around groups of school kids after school, it’s entirely inappropriate. Chocolate is not included in this category.

Shaving

When I was young, I wanted to have a five O’clock shadow more than anything else in the world, that is with the exception of a good grope with C***** P******. You’ll understand I can’t reveal details. Having stubble would be a passport into adulthood. With stubble I could buy cigarettes more easily, buy beer in the pub and more importantly finally get off with someone! I would go into the bathroom when everyone was out and try and shave the bum fluff off my face in order to stimulate more growth. Fast forward and shaving is the most boring part of the day. Even when I’m going through a positivity stage, shaving is an ordeal and expensive too! If I had a tad less self-respect and didn’t really want to maintain relationship with a woman, I might just have grown a beard by now.

Dairy Lea Cheese

Time was when I used to whoop for joy upon opening my school lunchbox and finding a silver triangle sitting there. When I used to peel apart two thin slices of bread and see the plasticky creamy stodge there, it made me feel like I’d arrived. All the other kids used to have it all the time. Mostly, I used to get this horrible, strong, ‘proper’ cheese that only grown ups liked. It used to burn my mouth!

Skin-tight Jeans

And in particular, skin-tight faded light blue jeans (don’t worry I never liked snow-washed jeans!). Everyone had them. The pleasure of squeezing your ever-growing plums into these little tubes of material and snatching yourself in the zip was one of the coolest things a growing boy could do. These days I would most likely be cautioned by the local constabulary were I to wear them.

Music Videos

Music videos were a passport into another world. A story drawing you in. Just getting a 30-second glimpse of a music video on TV was exciting back in the day. Nowadays, when I land on a music channel on the TV, the videos are all the same. Lots of people do stupid dances and make shapes with their arms behind a lead singer. The background may change but the format does not. And whatever happened to ugly pop stars, pretty people just don’t do it for me any more…… well..

Only Fools and Horses

Controversial I know, but this died a sorry death for me once Grandad left. He carried that series. Well, OK, it did have a bit more life left in it than that, but you can’t really replace a character whose middle name was Kitchener, can you? I can’t stomach watching later episodes with Cassandra and Raquel in them and as for that piss-poor Christmas special in Miami, it was like watching some you love suffering from Alzheimer’s, only not quite as bad!

Grandad AKA Edward Kitchener Rossiter

Otley O1 – We don’t need bubbles!!

20 Apr

I opened a bottle of Welsh brew Otley O1 today expecting a grassy light golden ale with citrus! What I got was quite different. I opened the bottle and poured out a very flat beer indeed. It was slightly darker than I expected too. I’d tried this beer before, a long time ago at the Beer Experience in Islington, but my recollection was of a very light golden ale.

To me, it was all toffee and caramel in smell and taste. What’s going on? I really liked it though and it made me wonder, do we really need carbonation at all? No head means more beer in the glass – result. On the other hand, more beer means less head and head is very saucy indeed. But whatever was going on with this particular bottle it worked out very well indeed and the flatness actually added to my enjoyment. The smoothness and toffee together were a light and slightly fruity Werthers Original, if that makes any sense to anyone other than me!! But don’t get me wrong, there was nothing heavy about it at all and if you were of that nature then you would happily sink a few of these.

I know it’s a stupid question but why aren’t more beers brewed to be served with near zero carbonation? After all, if Michael Jackson didn’t need Bubbles….

He’s Selling Up!!

17 Apr

I’ve learned two interesting things recently. The first is that I’m a bit anal about people leaving kitchen unit doors open and the second is that our neighbour is selling up and moving on. No more sparks flying over the fence from his electric saw, no more screaming through the walls, no more carpets and bathroom cabinets left in the front garden, no more not so surreptitious phone conversations with lovers down the bottom of the garden, no more verbal abuse of his dog and no time left for him to concrete over his back garden, which I fear he surely would!

I think we might miss him. He’s a good sort really and you know what they say, be careful what you wish for….

Jackie Wilson said…..

14 Apr

……………. I’m in heaven when you smile!

A few things which made me smile today:

Apple Blossom

Looking forward to mine!

Underwood typewriter

Pic of a pic of Nag's Head Inn William Blunt

Wisteria Buds

 

And then it was time for an ale……

The Hit Parade

9 Apr

We all love a chart, don’t we? Top 5s, Top 10s… When I was younger the Top 30 (40) was so important to my life. Every Sunday evening the official music chart went out on BBC radio and I used to take it really personally if the song I liked at the time went down a few places. Now, I don’t even know if there is an official chart.  There is just music, isn’t there?

Lads mags and fashion mags are forever compiling Top 100s. Every time I log onto the Interwhatsit, Yahoo homepage is displaying a list of 10 things not to say to your lover while they have their nose in your fridge or 8 tell-tale signs that the person you are speaking to would really rather be looking at their iPhone.  Now, I would say that if you can’t beat them join them but clearly I joined many a moon ago, as evidenced elsewhere on this blog. Long before Nick Hornby released High Fidelity, we were all compiling our top 5 this and our top 5 that and top 5 the other. When I say ‘we’ I don’t necessarily include you. I refer to those of us who have shards of the obsessive coursing through our veins.

Well, I suppose I can’t keep ranting on like this without compiling another Top 5 of my own. Actually, in the interest of balance, why don’t I make that two Top 5s! Both are based on how much I enjoyment I gained from them on a particular occasion.

My top 5 foods enjoyed since finishing my detox!

  1. Spinach
  2. Venison Hearts
  3. Lord of the Hundreds Cheese
  4. Feta Cheese
  5. Pork Shank

My top 5 beers enjoyed since finishing my detox!

  1. Fuller’s Chiswick Bitter
  2. Ellezelloise Quintin Ambree
  3. Rothaus Pils
  4. Otley Thai-Bo
  5. Windsor & Eton Knight of the Garter

 

I might go away next Easter. I really do have too much time on my hands!!!!!

 

Haircut 100

16 Mar

Haircuts are funny things. No two are the same. Inane holiday conversations. No conversations. Wearing an oversized bib. Hairy men putting large razor blades to your neck. Looking at yourself in a mirror for 20 consecutive minutes.

Today I had a haircut. It was boringly weird, or weirdly boring. I can’t decide. The highlight (ahem) was when the really hairy Greek hairdresser saw it fit to surreptitiously run the clipper over my earlobe. I’d have liked it to have been an accident but I’m convinced he did it on purpose. He only did one ear and I’ve since checked my other ear and there’s definitely no sign of stubble on it. The ear he clipppered doesn’t look to have any unduly hairy remnants on it either. Perplexing stuff indeed. I’ve racked my brains and can think of no girlfriend past or present who has ever recoiled at the sight of my earlobes. My brutally frank siblings have never called me Sasquatch or Yeti and I myself have never even caught the merest glimpse of a rogue follicle. But what if he really did spot something? What if there was shaft of hair? Could it be a sign of ageing? Could be a side effect of carbohydrate restriction in my diet? Perhaps, like an elephant, I’m currently in must and am secreting large amounts of testosterone through my lobulus auriculae.  Fortunately, the hairdresser waited until the end of the cut before asking me if I wanted my eyebrows trimming.

As I said, haircuts are funny things. I just wish he’d asked me about my holidays.

‘Real Ale’ Gets up my Nose

15 Mar

I even say that sentence through gritted teeth as the expression ‘real ale’ really gets up my nose. Maybe there’s a touch of the snob about me, maybe I don’t want to be tarred by the real ale bogbrush,  the beer mat collecting, the box ticking, the frankly ludicrous wearing of oversized crappy beer-related t-shirts.  After all, I’ve always considered myself quite cool, able to dance and beyond all that 1950s air-fix-plane-making boyishness. Who would possibly want to collect badges of breweries and where would they put them? Someone might say to me ‘Oh! You’re into ‘Real Ale’ and I can feel my skin leathering up from the toes. ‘It’s beer’ I would think, slowly but firmly, gnarlishly. ‘It’s a ‘Real Ale’ pub’ someone might say, ‘No, it’s ‘kin not! It’s a pub and it serves nice beer!’

Let me put the record straight, I love beer, and that includes the ales that are served from casks, I have often gone to beer festivals, I have books on beer, I have sought out pubs in strange places and beers with strange tastes, I have tried to preach to people about how nice beer is and scorned those drinking what I didn’t approve of, I have taken my beer interest to foreign countries and even having drunk thousands of different brews, would never forget having tasted one.

So what makes me so different then? Well, I’m better dressed than the average beer enthusiast, a lot thinner but other than that not a great deal. I’m certainly not cool any more (I like flowers for god sake.) Any analysis of my behaviour would reveal that I’m just as boring as the next man, I’ve just hidden the fact. I suppose I’m just now shaking off the snobbishness of youth and perhaps I’m becoming happier for it.

I still hate that expression mind! And as for the T-shirts….

Shepherd Neame Spitfire – A Love Story!

1 Mar

It was a hot summer in England that year, it was surprising to discover. The parks were scorched brown and regularly covered in a lunchtime airing of pale derma. In the news, there were reports of pensioners passing away in their homes, dogs suffocating in cars and the tarmac was melting on the roads. Work started at 9 and ended at 9. It was a thirsty summer.

Much of the preceding year had been spent travelling in more exotic locations around the world. Mostly hot, mostly thirsty. I had got into the habit of slating my thirst with the various lagers from the various countries I’d been in, for no other reason than that’s what you do when you are thirsty and that’s what you’d always done. Up to that point drinking life had veered between typical teenage wannabe lout and charming party drinker.  It was enjoyable, lively and there were both adventures and mishaps. Taste though, was never part of the equation. The endless beers, with the exception of the odd Guinness, were never ordered on the basis of taste. As a confidence booster maybe, as a result of peer group pressure maybe, through the ignorance of not knowing what else to order definitely, but never out of taste.

The corner shop, situated between the tube station and my then flat, did not have an off licence to inspire. Trips there started out with the purchase of a can of Murphy’s Stout just to take the edge off a spinning worker’s head. Money was scarce at the beginning of this summer and going out had to take a back seat so the can or two of Murphy’s represented a good night out, at least for a while. Effects of travelling abroad include the traveller having their head turned by the peculiarities of their own countries upon their return and sitting on a low shelf was one such peculiarity. It was a clear solid squat bottle, big and strong and a little understated. It had a label of some style and the neck told of the age of the brewery, 1609 it said.

I bought a bottle of Shepherd Neame Spitfire that day, took it home and put it in the freezer to chill it for a bit. I poured it into a half pint pilsener glass and immediately noted the smell, it was different to the beers I’d got used to, which didn’t tend to smell at all. Then the colour, that too was different to the beers I’d got used to, darker. And I enjoyed the little sparkle it had in the glass. What happened next was to spark off a mini-obsession. I drank some. I was intrigued. I loved it. I was turned. I bought some more, looked at it as if there could never be another, smelled it, drank it, absolutely fell in love with it. It tasted wonderful. I started off having it very cold, then gradually at a more sensible temperature.  But this didn’t seem to matter so much back then, any way it came was good for me.

After a day or two, I realised I was drinking memories. This smell was from my childhood. My uncles used to smell of this at Christmas parties. The working man’s club used to smell like this when I was taken as a small boy. The street trapdoors of pubs used to smell like this as I’d wonder what was behind those frosted windows. My shandies used to taste of this when I was sitting in the bar of my father’s football club eating Golden Wonder crisps.  Shepherd Neame Spitfire catapaulted me into a new world of taste.

I don’t drink it very often now. It’s like an old flame that I had great times with but could never go back to.  Sometimes I wish that I had just been faithful to that one beer and would be forevermore contented to drink it. Sometimes I wish that I could buy it again and the spark would still be there. But I’ve never been able to recapture the new/oldness of the taste of that summer. I resigned myself to the fact that I had to move on. But I’m grateful for the good times and I don’t regret a thing. After all, it’s helped make me who I am.

Bottle of Spitfire beer

Making Commuting a Positive Experience

28 Feb

If you get a seat on the bus, train or tube to work, commuting doesn’t have to be dull because you can read your book, Kindle or magazine and lose yourself in it, blocking out the fact that someone’s backside is in your face. You can also listen to podcasts or music on some earphoned device or other, which can be diverting or mildly relaxing.  Lucky are those that manage to nab a seat in the morning, usually reserved as they are for those boarding at the very end of the line or the canny few who prey mercilessly on freshly vacated seats. Most of us have to settle for standing and balancing in some very compromising positions, being barged one way then the other and shoved into ever more confined spaces which don’t theoretically exist. All the while our anxiety rises and rises and rises.

A while ago, I was pondering all this and how much longer I could put up with it all. Why did I stand at my front door every morning dreading the journey into work, hating it before I’d even done it? And why did the only solution appear to be trying to block out what was going on around me through music or literature? Do I really want to shut myself off for such long periods? Well, sometimes the answer is yes, being engrossed in a fantastic book is marvellous. However, I decided I didn’t want to just be reading as a means of creating a barrier between myself and the evils of commuting, which, for better or worse, is part of my life. In any case, as I mentioned before, it’s not always possible to do.

About 6 days into 2012, a time when these kind of things are a bit further towards the top of your mind, it occurred to me that I could try to ‘enjoy’ my commute to work. I left my house on a cold, crisp morning and immediately noticed how nice the cold air felt on my exposed cheeks. Aloud, I said to myself  something like “Ooh! That feels nice.” I hadn’t planned to say this at all. It was a spontaneous response to something nice. I then did something I remembered doing when I was in the school playground on such days, I started blowing pretend smoke in the air. I noticed how much I enjoyed such a small pleasure.  Walking to the station I continued to notice things I liked and by the time I reached the station, I had racked up quite a few of these ‘pleasures’. I decided to recount them from the most recent to the first and I noticed that it took me back through my walk to the station quite clearly and enjoyably. A journey that I would have otherwise completely forgotten about. Not many of us, remember such things.

I decided to continue to do this for the next day or so. Anything that I liked in any way, I made a mental note of and recounted them backwards at various points along my commute. Initially, I set myself a target of 10 things to ‘like’ on my journey. These things could be very trivial indeed but were always new things to ‘like’, or the same things in a different way. They included things such as I like the reflection of the sky in that window, he has a cool trouser/shoe combination, that man gave up his seat to the old lady, someone smiled nicely at me when I let them on the train before me, they’re having a fun chat, that’s a cute puppy, wow! she’s pretty, I like the smoke coming out of the chimney pot. Some days I noticed way more than 10 and sometimes I only reached 7. I always got more than 6.

After a week or perhaps a little longer, I found that, in the morning, I was no longer thinking ‘God! I’ve got to get the train to work.’ Instead, I was in the shower wondering what I was going to ‘like’ on the way to work.  Quite a change in outlook. The part that left me feeling the most positive was the recounting of my journey in my head just before arriving at work and feeling pretty good about it all, ready to start work.

I’m no positive thinking guru by a long stretch and I’m sure there are hundreds of better techniques along these lines out there. I just never really thought about it that way before. Nevertheless, I can’t stress the difference it’s made to my morning commute. A couple of months down the line and I confess that I don’t do this everyday (I’m engrossed in a good book at the moment!) but I certainly do do it 2-3 mornings a week and most definitely plan to continue doing it.

Spring

27 Feb

Some flowers!

Spring seems to be springing. We’re not into the glorious throes just yet but on my way to the station this morning, some crocuses and some snowdrops were out, a few cherries were in bloom and the daffodils were well and truly on their way. Aaah! I may like blokey stuff like football, beer and piss-taking but I do so enjoy a good flower!!!