Folk night at the pub


I am a big fan of folk music, especially Irish music. I took this video several years ago at a local pub and posted it on my old blog (now gone).

Another fan of the group, who now lives in Canada, (sensible man!) emailed me yesterday asking if he could have a copy. I said I would put it on my blog and he could download it from here.

I thought other people in Bloggyland who like this sort of music would like to see and listen to it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Red Alert 2

store-cupboardIt’s that time of the year again, usually January here is the worst time of the year regarding the weather. It could be sunny and clear one day, and the next day deep snow, and freezing fog, you name it.

I am now in the position of not having a car any more, and relying on public transport to get to the shops. Then I thought, supposing there is a lot of snow, or even civil unrest or disturbances, and the public transport is not available? Rumours cause panic buying. What happens if, say next year, we have riots day after day? Such as in 1981? Another fuel protest? Massive sickness? And you lose your job? If there’s nothing in your cupboard, you’ll go hungry.

Supermarkets operate a business model called ‘Just in Time’, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Supermarkets know, almost to the last iota, exactly what they will sell, and deliveries of goods are timed so that lorries can be unloaded and the products be put straight on the shelves. When it works, which it does most of the time, it works well, but it is easily messed up.

The problem with Just in Time (JIT)is that it can be disrupted very easily by bad weather, strikes, riots, civil unrest, pandemics and even rumours threaten the delicate balance of JIT.

What if the delivery lorries cant get through to the supermarkets? If there’s nothing in your cupboard, you’ll go hungry.

I can see the writing on the wall clearer than most and we need to be prepared. We can’t campaign and fight while touring the shops or waiting in line for a government handout. How can we give our best if our children are poorly and can’t get medicine?

How to prepare.

The survivalists’ motto is “Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids”. Nanny State Britian doesn’t allow us the bullets, so I guess we’re stuck with the beans and band-aids. What does that mean in practical terms? At its core, it means, quite simply, storing enough food and medicine to see you through a bad winter, or heaven forbid, a political crisis. It isn’t difficult and it needn’t be expensive – there’s no requirement to go out and spend hundreds of pounds to immediately fill up your store.

Firstly, don’t run around telling your neighbours what you’re going to do – you don’t want a queue of them on your door if the proverbial shit hits the fan, or worse, being robbed for your stores. Encourage relatives and friends to do the same by all means, but don’t announce it to the world. Most of them will think you’re nuts, anyway.

You’ll need somewhere to store it. In a modern shoebox or flat this could be problematic, so you’ll need to be inventive. You don’t need visitors to see your stash and in a SHTF situation, you don’t want the authorities to know, either (in a martial law situation, they can confiscate ‘hoarded’ items). I use a, well never you mind, but other people store behind books on a shelf, under beds, under floorboards, in lofts or sheds. You know best where to store your stash.

What to store? Another survivalist motto is “store what you eat, and eat what you store”. It’s no good buying tinned Brussels sprouts (yes, there are such things) if no-one will eat them. You know what your family will eat, so store that.

If you only ever eat fresh food, then now might be a good time to slowly introduce canned and dried foods into your family’s diet, but take it steady, especially with children. If you shop at supermarkets, take advantage of special offers and bogofs on storable foodstuffs, and each week buy a little extra for your store. Keep the shortest dated near the front, rotate your stock, don’t just fill a room and then not use it and wait for Armageddon. Each week, I take some stuff out of storage and put it in the kitchen, so I don’t have to trudge upstairs every time.

I also preserve some of my own foods – I make up big (OK, huge) saucepans of bolognese sauce, and freeze them. I also make jam, I pickle eggs and onions and make chutney.

Another idea is to make your own bread as I do, Bread would be the first thing to go in any emergency. Stock up with flour and quick dried instant yeast, enough to last a month or more. Buy UHT milk in bulk, or stock up with dried milk, so that you can have your porridge in the morning!

Toiletries and medicines.

First on your list should be toilet paper – you really don’t want to run out of that. If you do, I’m told the next best thing is the old Roman way of a sponge on the end of a stick (kept in disinfected water), so perhaps a cheapo pack of baby sponges would be a good idea!

Second, soap. The hard bar stuff keeps for ages and can be used for more than hand washing.

Third, paracetamol. I buy this every shopping trip because you’re only allowed 32 at time. Don’t get me started on nannying government control. Don’t bother with cough medicines, they don’t work, if you’ve got a cough a bag of boiled sweets is just as effective. Ointments – anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-histamine. Plasters in all sizes. Bandages, lint and micropore tape, or buy a Family First Ad Kit from Boots or similar. Toothpaste and toothbrushes. If you take prescription drugs, then try and build up a buffer.

Please think about what I have said – it may sound a bit paranoid, but better to have surplus than go hungry when the SHTF, whether it be for personal reasons such as losing your job, or globally because of societal breakdown.

Here endeth the lesson, go in peace.

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Posted in DIY, Emergencies, Wishful thinking | 10 Comments

Homes for Sale?

new-homes_1913293cWhen I see a sign like this on a new building site it makes me both mad and sad at the same time.

I stop and look at these featureless buildings. They are not homes, at least not yet; but they may be one day. They are just a pile of bricks and mortar, empty, cold, and devoid of life. A home is where you have your family…the ones you love…it is where memories are made and cherished. A home is something money can’t buy, it can be only created by love. To me it means where your loves are, your family and friends. That is when a house becomes a home..

A house is not a home, until you have dinners with your family.

I live alone in a house, but it is not a home. It is just somewhere to keep the rain and the cold out, somewhere to lay my head and hide away. I bought a house and yes, there are rooms that hold a lot of memories, but they are not mine. I know nothing of the people who lived here before me. My memories are of a home from another place and time when I had a family and friends, and those memories don’t fit in here.

I moved into this house with a few possessions, pictures, ornaments etc., that brought back memories of better times, but in this house they look completely out of place. I am a world where everything around me now is meaningless.

“Homes for sale”? I just wish that were true, I would be first in the queue, holding out the money in my hot sticky hand!

End of rant.
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“Christmas? Bah! Humbug!”

Posted in Depressing, Family, Property, Rant | 11 Comments

Bread again!

Pompeii-loaf-01 (1)You may remember I posted about making a Pompeii style loaf in September. Since then I have made one a week which is sufficient for my needs, living alone.

For the later versions I just used ordinary white flour, but not British flour for the reasons stated below. I have been buying French flour from our local Shopping Village who sell the T65 variety imported from France by ‘The Wessex Mill’. This flour doesn’t have any additives in it. The wheat grown in France is a different variety to the standard wheat grown here; it is a much softer variety, as you can tell as soon as you touch it, it’s silky smooth.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to my supplier recently for various reasons, so I tried some flour from a branch of a German supermarket here in town who have a reputation for selling cheaper than the other supermarkets.

breadThe bread I made from that was disgusting. I had trouble getting the bread to rise and when it was baked it had a very close texture and smelt musky. I came to the conclusion that there was too much chalk in it.

Most of bread you buy in the shops contains additives and chemicals to “improve” it, which in fact make it taste like poo! All the flour (except wholemeal flour) sold in the United Kingdom is required by law to contain four additives to the basic product.

These additives, are calcium carbonate (chalk), iron, thiamin and nicotinic acid and are considered necessary by our stupid Government, partly because the complex modern milling operation removes some of the naturally occurring ingredients. Rubbish!

They add chalk because of it’s “enrichment” purposes. Load of bullocks. Yeast doesn’t like chalk much, so if there is too much in the flour it won’t “prove” properly.

In addition, a load of other additives such as processing aids, artificial additives, flour “improvers”, dough conditioners, preservatives, and aspirin (yes!) and chemical leavening are introduced by the modern day bakeries to enhance the appearance, flavour, texture and usability of their products.

Incidentally, as things stand now, none of the additives have to be listed on the wrapping of the product, so consumers are completely ignorant of what they are actually eating. (Groo!)

I found this article on the Internet. Pay particular attention to the last two paragraphs.
Shouldn’t British flour be free from additives?

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P1020374
Somebody else makes Pompeii style bread.
Click the pic to see who.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Red Alert 1

48-bus This morning I decided to visit Coventry to do some clothes shopping. I caught the local bus and settled down to enjoy the ride. We had only gone about a mile when a siren in the bus went off and the sign that reads “BUS STOPPING” came on, not a steady red light when somebody presses a button to get off, but a rapid flashing obviously indicating a malfunction somewhere on the bus.

The driver, being a sensible person, stopped the bus and switched off the engine as laid down in the emergency procedure notice. He then announced over the loudspeaker to the terrified(?) passengers “Sorry about this, but it would appear that the life support systems have failed big-time!” Obviously a driver with a sense of humour, and who watches too many American Sci-Fi movies.

There was a group of teenagers at the back of the bus (why do kids always sit on the back row?) and one of them started to make gasping noises and clutching his throat. His friend shouts out “Oh no! We’re all going to die!”

The old lady sitting next to me said “My, my, and I was hoping to visit my granddaughter today”.

The driver then announced that he had sent a distress call to the Mother Ship (bus maintenance depot) and a shuttle craft (another bus) was on it’s way to take us to our destination.

He announced “Don’t worry about the air, I’ll open the airlock (bus doors) to let some fresh air in, luckily the gravity is still working, so you wont drift around and get sucked out”. He was answered by a big cheer from the back of the bus.

No, I didn’t make this up. It really happened just as I stated above. I know it sounds a bit weird, but it made my day and I smiled all the way back home.

I had decided to abandon my trip to Coventry until another day and left the bus. Via the air-lock, I hasten to add.

Posted in 'Elf and Safety, Local News, The truth | 7 Comments

Can’t win ‘em all

At the end of the last post I wrote, “One thing is for sure, they with never get a robot to master calligraphy like a real live person!”

I should have quit while I was winning! One of my bloggy friends (who’s name I shall not mention just to give him the satisfaction of gloating) has pointed me in the direction of this video. . . . .

Ok, so some nerd has designed a robot to wield a pen nearly as good as me, but they will never be able to teach one to paint portraits in oils at a live sitting . . . .unless of course you know something I don’t.

Posted in Calligraphy & Lettering, Mediaeval, Unbelievable | 4 Comments

Penmanship

penmanship
Extract from the book by John C Tarr – 1952

“La belle écriture demande un esprit gai pour son exécution”* and it is this approach that the author would ask from the reader.
Quite apart from the enhancement of courtesy to one’s correspondents and the pleasure which an agreeable script gives to the recipient , there is also the added joyment of an accomplishment that is, after all, the basis of literacy.
The pace of modern life demands of a script that it be easy to execute with the least effort compatible with clarity and (to avoid too aesthetic a word) agreeableness. Thus it should be fast enough, clear enough and made well enough for the purpose for which it was written – and it need be no more”.

Penmanship is the technique of writing with the hand using a writing instrument. The various generic and formal historical styles of writing are called ‘hands’, whilst an individual personal style of penmanship is referred to as ‘handwriting’.

I know I have written posts about this subject before and after receiving a hand written letter today a friend in Wales that was unreadable I thought it time to bring up the subject again. I’m now in the embarrassing position of writing back and asking him what on earth the letter was about!

The object of this post is to try and get people back to handwriting. The only way to get through to them is to use the very medium that they use – the internet.

Handwriting is becoming a lost art, a loss most keenly felt by those of us who have to decipher the bad handwriting  of relatives and friends.

Might handwriting be a lost art? With so much time spent on-line a handwritten letter is now a museum piece. We still practise our best writing in greeting cards, and if anyone still has a milkman I presume communication remains by scribbled note (or do you text the milky now? 2ptspls) but handwriting at length, to be read by others, seems now to be confined to schools, and most of that is virtually unreadable. The kids in school use mini-recorders to take notes, texting to communicate with family and friends, laptop-tops and ipads to write out their homework.

One comment I saw on a website selling vintage pens said “Fountain pens? Aren’t they the ones you have to keep dipping into a bottle of ink? How quaint.” She probably doesn’t even know how to hold a pen. (Pointy end towards the paper, ducky) Practically nobody handwrites letters any more, everything seems to be emails. In a few short years the fountain pen will just be a museum piece lying alongside quill pens and wax tablets. Osmiriod, the main fountain pen manufacturer next to Parkers went out of business recently because the sale of fountain pens, and indeed ballpoint pens, are dropping off at an alarming rate.

*Roughly translated – “Beautiful writing requires a happy mind to execute it”.


Watch this video to the very end. Don’t think to yourself “Oh, I could never do that!” and skip it. You can do it, I have taught a lot of people to change the way they write, even when their hand is unintelligible.

Get yourself a fountain pen the same as the one in the video. Mine is a Lamy Safari with a 1.1mm nib, obtainable from The Online Pen Company, price, a mere £13.95 and worth every penny! I know, I use one for my everyday writing and it never fails to start every time it touches the paper. I have dozens of pens of every make and size and I can truthfully say that the Lamy Safari is the best pen I have ever owned.

Note: Nick uses a Lamy AL-Star with 1.5mm nib, with Lamy Blue-black ink in the video, but I find that 1.5mm is too large for everyday use, but if you think it would suit you then buy it, The Lamy Al-Star is more or less the same as the Safari, but costs £7 more, and doesn’t look as nice!

One thing is for sure, they with never get a robot to master calligraphy like a real live person!

Posted in Calligraphy & Lettering, Handwriting | 9 Comments

Juicy recipes for Samhain

halloween01Well, it will soon be that time of year again when those annoying little brats, sorry, those sweet little kiddies dressed in supposedly terrifying costumes will be pounding on my door demanding “Trick or treat”. Their doting mothers will be standing behind them watching that I don’t give the kids a little trick of my own, by turning the tables on them and shouting “Trick!” and throwing a bucket of water over them!

Joking aside (not really) if you want to give the little horrors a treat yourself I have found some nice recipes for Halloween.

Bloody Eyeballs
bloody-eyeballsCanary Girl shaped her olive-topped eyes out of ground chicken, but suggests you can also use ground pork (or ground whatever you like). I didn’t see the original recipe but not doubt you can improvise by using tinned chopped tomatoes with chopped onion, shredded bat wings and crushed snail shells. Oh, and a pinch of garlic wouldn’t go amiss.


Witches fingers
witches-fingers1A popular Italian Halloween cookie. These are seriously delicious cookies, in spite of looking like severed witches fingers.

3 cups blanched almonds, divided
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups flour
Red food coloring or red cake decorating gel (put plenty around the severed end of the fingers!}
Optional Ingredients: Puppy dog’s tails, pickled spiders.

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Reserve 60 nuts for later use; process remaining nuts in food processor until finely ground. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, extract and salt in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour. Stir in ground nuts. (Dough will be stiff.)

Roll dough into 60 three inch fingers, using 1 Tbsp. dough for each. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray. With a cotton swab dab a thin layer of red coloring on the tip of each finger. Press 1 of the reserved nuts into red dough in 1 end of each finger for the fingernail. Use sharp knife to make 3 crosswise slits in top of each finger for the knuckles.

Bake 15 to 20 min. or until lightly browned. Cool 3 min. on baking sheet; carefully transfer to wire racks. Cool completely.

Thanks to Las Vegas Food Adventures for this recipe. I shall certainly make some of these just to see the kids faces when I hand them out. Aren’t I a Devil? Well, I will be on the night, heh, heh.

Mummy’s head
mummymeatloafbigIf want a ghoulish dinner recipe to delight your kids this Halloween, try this Mummy Meatloaf and see how fast they gobble him up!

What You Need
Meatloaf Ingredients:
2 lbs. lean ground beef or turkey 3/4 c.
seasoned bread crumbs 1/4 c.
ketchup 2 T.
Mustard
2 eggs
1 T. grape jelly (weird, but it’s awesome, I promise!)
1 C. finely shredded carrots
Garlic salt, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish Ingredients: 6-8 lasagna noodles,
cooked ketchup (optional)
2 slices cheese,
any kind 2 green or black olives.

A few more suggestions:
Pumpkin Cake Balls
Spooky Eyeballs on a Stick
Tombstone Sandwiches

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After the kids have gone I shall be off the the woods to join the local witches coven to dance naked around the old oak tree with them. . . . .such fun!

Posted in Food, Halloween, Only partly true!, Wiccan & Pagan | 5 Comments

Margarine? No thanks!

Margarine, or as it is now called, Spread, is highly artificial.

In recent years, there has been plenty of new scientific evidence showing this artificial butter to be extremely harmful to health. It is a major cause of heart disease the very condition that it is supposed to prevent. It has also been linked with several types of cancers and various other diseases. Don’t be fooled when it is described as a “spread”.

Ever since Roman times, and possibly even before that, people have eaten butter. It was only in the 1920’s that it was introduced into Britain and the makers claimed it was better for you than butter.

In spite of this, fake, artificial butter continues to be widely promoted as a healthy product. This urgently needs to be stopped!

What we have today is entirely different from the original oleomargarine invented by a French scientist in 1870. That was done quite naturally. Today, we get a highly unnatural process called hydrogenation in which liquid vegetable oil is converted into a solid or semi-solid grease.

In the jargon of the chemicals industry, this process of turning a liquid oil into a solid or semi-solid is called plasticisation.

The manufacturing process begins with cheap vegetable oils, which probably have already been rendered harmful by the extraction process involving high temperature and petrochemical solvents such as benzene. Some of these oils, such as cotton seed oil, are not even suitable for human (nor animal) consumption.

The oil is then subjected again to extreme high temperature (about 500ºF) and pressure, and hydrogen is forced into the molecular structure to harden it. This process requires toxic substances, such as nickel oxide, which act as catalysts that enable the chemical change.

The end result is a smelly, greasy substance. So it is deodorised, again using high heat and chemical additives.

And do you know what is the colour in its original, “natural” form? Grey!

Obviously, nobody would spread grey globs of grease over their bread. So the grease is bleached white and then dyed yellow. Finally, artificial flavours are mixed in to make it taste like butter.

The fact that learned doctors, nutritionists, dieticians and other health experts can proclaim such a product to be healthy only goes to show how warped modern-day thinking has become, all in the pursuit of profits!

Julia Child always said “use lashings of butter in your cooking” and I always do just that! She also said “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

butter-v-margarine

Posted in 'Elf and Safety, Cookery | 8 Comments

Some people!

Cafe_girlWhen in town today I called into a local cafe for a sticky bun and a cup of coffee. As I entered I noticed that it was completely empty of people, except for one young girl sitting at a table busy tapping away on a laptop and texting on her phone. I sat down and picked up a menu to make it obvious I was waiting to order.

Five minutes later the girl looked at me, smiled, and carried on typing. A man in an apron appeared from the kitchen area, glanced around and said something to the girl before returning from whence he came.

The girl carried on typing so I thought I would ask if she was supposed to be serving. I walked over and asked “Excuse me, are you the serving wench around here?”. It was like I had shot her! She jumped up, slammed the computer shut, and picking it up she stormed off into the kitchen.

I sat down again, expecting someone to come and take my order, but nothing happened. After another five minutes I decided to leave and seek sustenance elsewhere.

I thought how rude was that? It couldn’t have been anything I said, and my armpits didn’t smell. I just don’t understand the present generation, too moody for me.

Posted in Anti-Social Behaviour, Unbelievable | 5 Comments