Monday, 21 December 2009

Wine is sunlight, held together by water. ~ Galileo

And when finished, vin d'orange does seem to uphold this theory, from what I've seen :0)

I've finally got round to starting off my 'vin d'orange'. I read about it in Susan Loomis' 'Tarte Tatin' and it sounded sublime so just had to give it a go!

There are several versions of it on the net so I've amalgamted the ideas from Susan's recipe and what I read on the net and this comes pretty close to authentic as far as I'm concerned, time will tell as to whether it meets expectations :0)

I used:
6 oranges
750g of sugar (1/2 vanilla sugar and 1/2 granulated sugar)
1 vanilla pod
2 tbsps of coffee beans
2 litres of medium/dry white wine
1/2 litre of vodka
slice the oranges and split all the ingredients between 2 x 2 litre jars or, if you have a jar large enough, just bung it all in the one jar!

Shake every day for about a month then strain into bottles and leave for at least a month but apparently it's far nicer if you can leave it for 12 months.

I'll let you know! :0)

Friday, 18 December 2009

It's better to give...

...than to recieve, or so the saying goes and I wholeheartedly go along with it! :0)

I love giving gifts to people and the whole planning the gift, choosing (or in this case making) the gift and (hopefully) seeing it positively received.

I've just made 21 bags of chocolate truffles for 2 sheds' staff, 126 truffles in all! I also made the little sparkly wreath gift tags on the bags.

I thoroughly enjoyed shopping in the craft store for the beads and bits and bobs to make the tags, I loved browsing the net for truffle recipes. I especially loved the quality control testing while making the truffles, mmmm, and seeing the finished result looking all pretty on my counter top.

Isn't that what it's all about? ;0)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

you see this guise...

I dreamt last night.
A dream of guise,
Compelling resolution.
Yet no relief,
From fruitless sighs
Just an hallucination.

Monday, 7 December 2009

1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato.......for?

up late again....!

searching for 'ratte' potato tubers. I read about their delicious nutty flavour in Susan Loomis' 'Tarte Tatin' and had to have some!

Trouble is, I start looking on the seed merchant's web site and I can't stop! Before I know it I have 3 varieties of potato, lettuce seeds and onion sets in my basket! Whoa!! You have a discount card for the local garden centre, why are you paying postage and packing and buying on-line you veggie junkie!!??

And do you know what's worse, the lettuce is for the chickens...they do like the odd cooked potato too though :0)

It's not just the potatoes that are nutty!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

A film, a book, a song.....just a few words.

Got a stinky cold and feeling sorry for myself.....

.....Up late watching soppy old romantic films...."Must Like Dogs" and please...anyone with a modicum of taste would have picked John Cusack in the beginning!

.....Googling for recipes for 'vin d'oranges' (got the idea from Susan Loomis' book 'Tarte Tatin' which I'm devouring at the moment!) and 'vin de pamplemousse'......

...... and listening to this lovely rendition of 'Sweet Child of Mine' by 'Taken by Trees' (love the name of the band!).....

Time for bed then and maybe a hot Ribena :0)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Advent chores...

I've started my 'Open University' course - Y160 'Making Sense of The Arts', I've been helping my mum with a little project she's got going making home-made knits We've done a couple of craft fairs and have one coming up soon.
Ian and I have bought an incubator and brooder (our Christmas present to ourselves!) as we have plans, in the spring, to start rearing our own quail for the table. We went on a course earlier this year to learn how to dispatch and prep chickens for the table, but we haven't enough room in the garden for more jungle foul and quail are less noisy. I have no idea how I'm going to feel about those little balls of fluff that come out of the egg, ending up on my plate but, as I keep telling myself, it's far better than commercially reared and slaughtered meat, both for us and the bird!
Together with the preparations for Christmas, it's been a bit busy round here lately so no time for blogging. The (free range) turkey has been ordered, some of the bits and bobs, nibbles and nuts have been shopped for and I'm looking forward to cooking my first solo Christmas dinner! We've always alternated between parents but my sister and her BF are going to have lunch with a fellow mariner, mum is going to my cousin's with my auntie and uncle and Ian's family have got a lot of folk coming for lunch. We were invited but I just felt like a quiet(er) day this year. Just the 9 of us; me, Ian, Molly and the girls who I will no doubt make extra roast potatoes for :0)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

To Life!

It would have been my dad's 82nd birthday yesterday and it's the first one we've spent without him, so we decided to fill our day. Partly to take our mind off the sadness and partly because, when you lose someone, you get a sharp reminder to make the most of the time you have left and dad would have wanted us to do so!

Mum and I were up early to go and get our flu jabs. The local surgery had obviously decided to get all the jabs done in one day and you could have been forgiven for mistaking the surgery for the post office, due to the queue of elderly folk! It was a very effective system as we were in, thumped in the arm (well, that's how it feels afterwards!) and out in moments!

We then went for a rummage at a garage sale, most of it was tat but I still came away with a nice little rustic garlic pot and a small glass jar. The woman asked for my knickers in exchange, I was rather taken aback and thought it a high price to pay for some bric a brac! My mum explained she wanted a nicker (i.e. £1), thank goodness, it was a cold day!

Mum and me then went to the local garden centre for lattes and toast, where we bought some bird seed and nuts. We went to feed the birds and squirrels at the cemetry, in memory of my dad. I'd much rather do something like that than leave a bunch of flowers, what better way to celebrate a life than to help preserve other life!

In the evening we (me, mum and 2 sheds) went to The Grange Theatre Northwich to see 'The Mid-Cheshire Amateur Operatic Society' perform 'Fiddler on the Roof'. One of my chicken keeping friends was in the cast. We had a bag of layers pellets (chicken feed to you!) that we needed to to give to her so we bunged that in the boot of the car and off we set.

The show was really good, it was performed 'in the round' and we were on the front row so had a great view of all the action! One of the reasons we don't go to the theatre more often is we always seem to end up with the crappy seats! Either no leg room, no visibility or sat near someone with TB or St Vitus' Dance!

During the interval we shared a bag of M&Ms we'd sneaked in. We always take our own refreshments to the theatre/cinema, I refuse to pay for overpriced snacks! Anyway, I say "sneaked" because when we got there, there was a sign on the door 'No food or drink to be taken into the auditorium". So, we smuggled our contraband in under the cover of a Co-Op carrier bag, okay maybe not so subtle but nobody challenged us.

We scoffed our illegal treat during the interval and just as we'd finished, a chap approached us and said "I've been told to come and get a bag of food off you!".
My face fell, we'd been caught red-handed! (well; red, yellow, green and brown but the blue ones are my favourites!)
I don't like getting into trouble, I'm not good with confrontation and I didn't want to get thrown out, after all, we had great seats for a change!

I was just about to confess all but it turned out the chap was my friend's husband, come to arrange collection of the chicken food!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Honey...I shrunk the bank balance...

We went to a beekeeping seminar today. Still not got any bees yet, we're still in the research stage. One of the seminar speakers cracked a joke which elicited a knowing chuckle from the audience! He said, when he was younger, someone said to his father...

"You like honey don't you? Why don't you keep bees, then you can have free honey!.

That reminded me of how I broached the subject of getting chickens with 2 sheds. I thought if I could convince him it would be economically sound, he would be as excited about the whole idea as me. Of course, at that point, I was convinced we were going to save a fortune, "Everybody on raves about keeping chickens!" I enthused!
I suggested we get ex-battery hens which would only cost 50 pence each. I also suggested he could build a run for them out of scrap wood and then all we'd need to do is buy food and a few bits and pieces. I convinced him it would be a minimal outlay for a copious egg lay!

The wooden coop we bought cost about £150 on e-bay (and that was the cheapest we could find!) and it only lasted less than a year before it was riddled with red mite and warped so badly it leaked!

We've also had to buy layers mash, poultry grit, oyster shell, garlic powder, red mite powder, diatom powder, poultry spice, apple cider vinegar, poultry shield, lifeguard poultry tonic, flubenvet, citricidal, limestone flour, mite spray, aubiose (bedding), garden lime, stalosan F, various feeders and drinkers not to mention the treats they adore like mealworms! And those are just the things I can remember, not to mention vets bills for the poorly ones.

We ultimately forked out for an Omlet cube and an Eglu as they were much easier to clean and keep red mite free but they don't come cheap, mainly because there is no decent comparable product on the market. I think combined they came to almost £700!
Then there was the wire mesh, wood and roofing for the run (we never had any scrap wood!).

Don't get me wrong, I adore our girls and the run looks fabulous (even if I do say so myself!) and the eggs taste out of this world but, pound for pound, they probably cost 10 times the price of Kobe beef, although we do stop short at massaging our chickens, but I bet they'd enjoy a beer or two!

That's another thing about chickens, people will tell you they will eat ANYTHING! Not true. Unless we have the pickiest fowl on the planet!?
They'll eat lettuce but turn their nose up at cabbage. They adore grapes, plums and strawberries but give them a banana or an apple and they'll look at you like you're trying to get them to eat arsenic!

I have been known to buy corn on the cob, a punnet of grapes or cook pasta or potato especially for the chickens!

And to think, we actually give our eggs away to friends and family, they have no idea how lucky they are!

It's the same with beekeeping, there's as much paraphernalia (if not more) to shell out for than with chickens. Well, even if you only have one hive, you'll have at least 20,000 little buzzers to keep healthy and happy!

So, when somebody gives you eggs laid by their garden hens or honey from their own bees, show the appropriate level of gratitude because they'll be the MOST expensive eggs and honey you've ever had in your life!

Friday, 2 October 2009

A poem...

I suppose it's about time I posted something poetry related...

I love to find images to couple my poetry with. I think, providing I find the right image, that it really enhances the meaning of the poem so if the reader doesn't immediately 'get' what I'm writing about, they can usually decipher the intent behind the words from the image.

I'm not doing it solely for readers of my poetry though, I just like the way my words 'look' with the right picture.

I stumbled across this image recently, entitled 'Sebastiana' by Stephen Hender and immediately wanted to use it for a poem I wrote in 2004!

Go placidly amid the noise and haste...

I love being silent! I have been known to text or e-mail 2 sheds...while we're in the same room! I only speak when I feel it's absolutely necessary to say something. This is possibly why I don't have many 'non virtual' friends because, while I don't enjoy verbalising, I adore writing! A colleague of mine once showed me her e-mail inbox and it was overflowing with missives from me, and she sat next to me!

I was one of those kids that had several pen pals but very few 'proper' friends. I just wasn't interested in chatting. I prefer to watch and listen but even then I often drift off into my own little reverie. I am not loquacious, garrulous or particularly interested in gossip.

I wrote a poem dedicated to 2 sheds for our wedding day, but asked someone else to read it out!

I think it drives 2 sheds insane! You'd think it would be every man's dream to have a quiet wife but then I s'pose if the only time I speak to him is to remind him to take the rubbish out or clean the chicken coop, it could be tiresome and despite me not speaking much, he calls me a nag!

My last job, for this reason, was absolute hell! I worked in a call centre. Call Centres have been described as the modern sweat shops but this call centre was the kind of place that makes a sweat shop look like a bit of a cushy number!

The company had just introduced free broadband. In reality it was a phone and internet bundle and you paid for the phone part of the package but the internet bit was advertised as being free (despite the fact that you couldn't have one without the other!).

People being human (well, most of them anyway) saw the word 'free' and it was an utter 'free for all' (pardon the pun) to sign up!

The problem was, the company didn't have enough staff to handle the calls, enough engineers to connect people up quickly enough or to fix faults so what was a clever (debatable) marketing ploy turned into an absolute nightmare for the poor saps (like me) who had to answer the phone.

The situation was compounded by the company not giving the staff the correct training on the right systems to actually be able to help the customer! Talk about being stuck between a rock and a screaming customer! It was so busy that at one point a memo was sent round telling staff how many toilet breaks they were allowed and encouraged them to wait until their lunch break to use the facilities, the company literally took the piss!

The daily volume of calls was beyond ridiculous and there were always calls holding, waiting to be answered. This meant I talked non-stop, all day long! My tongue was literally sore by the end of the day and on occasions, swollen! I came home feeling like I'd just had dental work done! I had a permanent sore throat and a cough, not to mention being stressed to the point of collapse!

I did eventually collapse and it was possibly the best thing that ever happened to me because it got me out of that hell hole (allbeit via an ambulance) and I haven't been back since!

I have concluded that talking isn't good for me.!!! To compound it all, I have developed a slight nervous stutter, so, if it's all right with you, I'd rather shut up!

Oh and if 2 sheds is reading this, could I please have a cup of tea, will you clean the chickens out and can you take the rubbish out? Thanks love! ;0) xxx

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Giz a job!

2 sheds was interviewing candidates for a cleaning job yesterday. I would imagine interviewing people can be quite tedious, but then you get the odd character that spices up the process! There was one particular male candidate who obviously wanted to make an impression and I'd say he succeeded!

Bear in mind, this guy is in his 50s and not some wet behind the ears youngster!

2 sheds asks him,"what cleaning duties do you enjoy?" (he tells me this is a set interview question, generally designed to elicit a response that tells the interviewer that the candidate takes pride in their job!)

candidate..."I hate cleaning"

2 sheds fights the urge to ask him what the hell he was doing there then, and went on to question 2!

"Why do we clean?"

Expecting some intuitive responses such as; 'To create a good impression for visitors, to avoid the spread of germs, to remove hazards...etc'

candidate..."to get paid"

By this point 2 sheds had decided his fate but had to carry never konw, he might save himself yet with a brilliant, insightful, intelligent response! 2 sheds asks, "What are the consequences of not cleaning a public building?"

(Eagerly anticipating another gem of an answer, as the tale unfolded, I wasn't disappointed!)

candidate..."I'd get the sack!"

Then 2 sheds asks the applicant if he has any questions...

candidate..."Is it mostly women?"

2 sheds answers..."There are some men working in cleaning but it is mostly women, why?"

candidate..."Well, you know what women are like!"

Ed...I don't think they'll be asking for his references any time soon!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

baring all...

I've changed my name! 'Liverpool Poet' was a bit... meh...! Jamie Oliver's 'naked' sobriquet never did him any harm and going bare (allbeit footwise) worked for the Contessa and Sandie Shaw! Scousers are well known for their 'cheek' so, despite me having my back to the camera, I am now 'The Barefaced Poet'!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Never mind the bollocks...

I'm currently reading 'Bollocks To Alton Towers' which is a humorous compilation of all the 'off the beaten track' quirkier places to spend a British day out. I also have the sequel lined up, unsurprisingly entitled 'More Bollocks to Alton Towers'.
Having visited a few quirky places in my time, I eagerly scanned the index for any familiar names and was surprised to see that a couple of the more memorable places we've been to didn't even get a mention! (Although I am extremely tempted to visit the Southport 'Lawnmower Museum' to see Joe Pasquale's strimmer, rock and roll!)

And so, on to my contribution to 'Bollocks'! :0)

The first one that springs to mind has to be the 'Cars of the Stars' museum in Keswick. It must have been around 1991 that we visited as it was our (my boyfriend, now husband, and myself) first weekend away together and we chose to spend it in The Lake District. We did also visit The Pencil Museum during that same weekend which DOES get a mention in the book!
Yes, there is a museum dedicated to the (his)story of the pencil. Where would we 2b or not 2b without the humble pencil?
Anyway, back to the stars and their cars. It was a rather unremarkable place from the outside and I think we were the only ones there at the time. I was quite excited, having been a fan of the TV series 'Knight Rider', to see that they had one of the actual cars from the show. A real KITT car, complete with a Michael Knight waxwork dummy in the driving seat!
They had a pretty comprehensive selection of cars but there was something odd going on... All the vehicles that had a driver had the exact same dummy as the KITT car. In actual fact, David Hasselhoff's visage peered out at you from all of them! Extremely amusing to see him with a sheepskin coat and a flat cap, sitting in the driving seat of Del Boy's yellow 3 wheeler!
I wonder if they got a discount from the mannequin manfacturer? "Just give us 20 models of The Hoff, no-one will ever notice!".

Another odd place which I'll never forget was 'The Dracula Experience' in Whitby. Whitby is infamous as the place where Count Dracula landed when he arrived in Britian in Bram Stoker's novel. We were actually quite surprised when we arrived in the lovely little seaside town to see that everything wasn't named after the infamous vampire. There was no 'Dracula Inn' or 'Vlad's B&B'.
In fact, the gothic connection was very much understated and we were hard pressed to find anything to do with Dracula! That is, until we stumbled on the gem that is (or was) The Dracula Experience! It may have morphed into something more sophisticated these days but back then it was just one room with a few exhibits of not much note. The sign at the ticket booth said "No Refunds" which kind of forewarned us that it would be a bit rubbish, but we were game for a laugh!
The only exhibit I can actually remember was a cloak used by Christopher Lee in the film. It was a very dark room and you had to go back on yourself, guided by ropes, to see everything. I didn't realise, probably because of the gloom, that we were actually retracing our steps. Then we came upon what I thought was a waxwork of the man himself. I was just remarking to my other half how life-like this model was and was about to give it a poke just to check if it was warm blooded or not, when the thing leapt out at me, both of us uttering a blood curdling scream! I think I frightened him more than he frightened me!
I have never been so scared in my life and the last my boyfriend saw of me was my back, silhouetted by the daylight streaming through the emergency exit!