The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 26 February 2015

The wanderer returneth.........

     Good evening fellow bloggers and I crave your understanding for my lack of posting or commenting upon your far more worthy blogs than my own. If you read (and took notice) of my last entry you will know of the worries that Bertha (my faithful car) was giving me and that she had gone to a local garage and placed in dry dock to be hopefully sorted, but more of Bertha in a tad. 

     Whilst Bertha wallowed in self pity (yes cars have feelings too) we headed to Ambleside in the Lake district. I'm extremely pleased to be able to report that,despite being a little sceptical about my knees being able to support my rotund body on the hills, two fine walks were managed in the area around Grasmere. Although completely knackered on the return home the break was refreshing and just what I needed after the building pressure of work lately.

     We returned home yesterday to the news that Bertha was all better and ready to be floated out of dry dock. So first thing this morning I went to pick her up and asses the work carried out. Instead of using a main Audi dealer I'd used a local outfit that go by the unlikely name 'Fat Dubbers' but the service and approach I have to say was exceptional and I'll have no hesitation in recommending Ben and his excellent but small team to anyone with a VW or Audi. I've put a link on the right hand side to Fat Dubbers, only the deserving merit a place there.

     So I'll just leave you with a few pictures of our short break...


Just the views are worth visiting the Lakes..

Been here before but always love returning..


Cheeky little bugger this one...

Nelly takes the lead ...

Are we going out yet?

Bear doing what Bear does best....



Waterfall stepping through tree roots



Thought these Cormorants were just wood sticking up until zoomed in on the computer



     So there we have what me and the girls have been upto, best be playing catch up on t'other blogs in the next few days m'thinks, until the next time, take care....

John
     

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Bertha and Mr. Jones.....

     I'm not a happy bunny at all today, in fact I am more akin to being a miserable toad if the truth be told. What on earth has happened? I hear you cry...Has the Dog returned?, Have the terrible twosome done something so heinous that they have been sold to the glue factory?, Have the Welsh rugby team admitted to being lesser than the English team?, Has John's subscription to cider makers fortnightly been revoked for over indulgence in the golden apple juice?, The answer to these questions is a resounding no! In fact Besides not being a happy bunny and the fact that the grind is becoming....well more grinding I am in damn fine fettle, the Dog is still keeping her distance, the terrible twosome are no more terrible than usual, Hell would freeze over before Welsh rugby would admit such nonsense and one can never over indulge in the golden apple juice, ermmm or so I am told.

     Nope the reason why I am not a very happy bunny is that 'Flat cap man's' car is poorly bad, and I'm just hoping that it's nothing too painful to my wallet because I certainly cannot afford to replace her. I also am quite fond of 'Bertha', she's a bit of a wolf in sheeps clothing (maybe it was the sheepskin that appealed to me being Welsh). On the outside she's unpretentious and does not warrant a first glance let alone a second. But step behind the wheel and give her a tickle and hell fire she can shake her ass. Or she could, because now she has flashy yellow warning lights coming up all over the dashboard and the management system won't let her rev over 3,000 rpm. Which would be ok because she'd do 85mph at that, but not any more as her torquey bottom end has all but gone and she won't pull the skin off a rice puddin'. So Friday we have an appointment at a local garage, one I am not familiar with, the have her management system interrogated hoping to find the source of her ailment and so what can be done. Damn thing is that we're heading to the Lakes on Sunday but it appears without Bertha.


Bertha in happier days
     On the plus side though, the last couple of weeks has seen me reunited with my very good friend Mr. Jones of Jones Restoration Services. I'll be telling you more about him in posts to come but suffice to say that he is one of the friends in life whom you'd be able to count on one hand. Mind you, I only went down for a brew and ending up helping the Chunkster service his Honda 450cc ex works motocross beast of a machine. 



     It is funny how very good friends can just fall back into a routine after absence and difficult times isn't it? Just hope the bike doesn't fall apart at this weekends race meeting, gulp!

     Well that'll do for this evening, till the next time take care of yourselves,

John

Monday, 16 February 2015

The adventure starts here....

     Good evening gentlefolk and I trust that your weekend has been an enjoyable one and not fraught with too much danger? I for one have had a most.....ooohh what is the word?.... ah yes productive, that's the bugger....a most productive, and to be fair enjoyable weekend considering that the morn of Saturday was generally ruined by having to work a twelve hour Friday night shift at the not so fun factory. I tell you something these 12 hour shifts are not becoming any easier the older that I get, far from it. Although, having said this, hopefully with my latest venture fitness levels and hence recovery time will be improved somewhat. 

     Latest venture? I hear you muse, well if you had been paying attention at the back there, you would know that I have recently had one of those 'light bulb' moments and come up with the idea of 'Blog Walking' and this weekend I have started the ball rolling with a new blog called funnily enough 'Blog Walking' ta daa. True tis very much a work in progress but at least the first step has been taken and hopefully the adventures will be in full swing shortly. The link to 'Blog Walking' is to be found HERE and I really hope that some of you will come along for the ride.

      Now some of you may remember that the pictures from my first wildlife garden post here couldn't help to show my Wendy house shed come workshop. But there is a small admission I have to make here as from the outside all looks shipshape and ready for action.....



     ..... I'm embarrassed to say that the inside there lurks a far different story with just getting inside the damn thing being a major achievement....



     So this morning was spent tidying and organising the space within. I now have a usable work surface and once I appropriate some suitable M12 bolts it will also have a rather spiffing four inch engineers vice attached to it. Still a mountain of sorting to be done but at least I can start on the ever growing list of chores to be done.

     I also managed to take the terrible twosome out for a walk along the country lanes of the village with my primary objective to find a tree to follow as suggested on Lucy's wonderful Loose and Leafy blog to be found here. Unfortunately the twosome lived up to their terrible suffix and whilst we were negotiating a rather muddy and slippy downhill stretch of path they decided to both pull together whereas me weakened knees (have I mention them before?) promptly gave way and I ended up sprawled on my arse with the little buggers jumping all over me thinking 'what fun', little bastards! Not only that but later Nelly gave me a heart attack by disappearing for a goodly ten minutes or so and I could only breath again when firstly I spied two rabbits hurtling across a field followed, I would like to say closely to spare her blushes, followed at some distance but stubbornly by a tongue lolling Beagle. But the walk was not a complete disaster and the use of Anglo Saxon had a brief respite when I came across this....

Majestic old fellow
One huge branch points me to the hills

His twisted roots delving deep and shredding a stone wall to pieces

     This old fellow is full of character and I shall enjoy finding out more about him as the year unfolds, firstly what he is! My first thoughts was Sycamore then Horse Chestnut but I shall have to brush up and let you know, all part of learning and being 'out there' though.

     Eventually safely home where I had to take some painkillers as my left knee was really in danger of me amputating it to relieve the aching! Fed the terrible twosome, got the evening meal underway and settled down with an extremely large hot cup of tea to chill and tell you of my adventures. Oh and what of the terrible twosome?....

New bed so we can sleep under the desk when Master is blogging
     .....absolutely well and truly knackered, thank the Northern Gods! Well that's about it for now so until the next time take damn good care of yourselves.

John
           

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Blog walking ......

     Following my previous post the seeds of an idea have germinated (must be spring) and I'm currently trying to set up something.

     Blogging connects folk from all around this planet and draws like minded folk together, friendships are forged, advice is given and we get to share our lives and interests. Yet the distances involved preclude us from actually doing stuff together, or do they?

      The idea is simpley this...many of my fellow bloggers here enjoy walking, nature, and the connections they have. So I intend starting another blog where at set times, say a weekend, folk all go for a walk in their part of the world and then share pictures and words of their adventures. In affect we'd all be walking together and be part of a virtual walking group. Hopefully it will encourage us to get 'out there' more often and also feel that we are part of something to share. There are many reasons for walking for me it's where I can let my mind heel from the Dog and also help my decrepit body become a tad stronger. 

     So there you have it....Blog Walking.... Ta daaa, I hope I'm not the only one 'out there' when the time comes :(

Till the next time, take care,

John

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Have I mentioned my knees II .....

     Way back in November last year BN (Before Nelly!) I wrote a post that, when now reading it, seems a whinge tinged with hope so to speak. My mind was not in the best of places yet the dog was at bay, my knees were giving me all sorts of issues yet there was talk of dietary change and even exercise at the gym. So I thought I would give you all a short update upon the health of John.....

     Firstly I'll mention my knees, a subject that I rarely talk about, ahem. A short summation of them is that yes there are still bloody knackered but after a visit to physiotherapy this morning I now know why the little ungrateful bastards are causing me so much pain and discomfort. It turns out that I have the early stages of Osteoarthritis or as some call it 'wear and tear arthritis' which my physiotherapist told me is a tad misleading as the condition is not brought on by the amount of work the joints have done. Basically it is the deterioration of the cartilage in the joint which then leads to other things such as bone thickening, swelling of the joint etc. oh and aches and pain, have I mentioned the pain? And the great thing about osteoarthritis is.... it's not curable, bugger!

     But tis not all doom and gloom as the condition can be managed. I have an exercise sheet now with the aim of gently increasing my knee joints strength, I'm already, albet slowly, losing my puppy fat which will take pressure off my joints and, this is the best bit, I should be able to resume walking the trails with careful management, in fact my physio stated that I should build up to walking more....result! I'll tell you what though, this age thing does not come on its own.

     As for the other moaning in that BN post... Well I did stop going to the gym as I thought, wrongly, that the exercise regime would increase the damage in my knee joints. But now, after physio, I realise my mistake in this assumption and that using the joints will not accelerate the condition and long term would more than likely help. But I was warned today that the initial startup of exercise will increase the aches and pains at first but hopefully this should reduce as the knees strengthen. Will I return to the gym once my knees hopefully strengthen? I don't know, yes I did get a buzz from the exercise but bloody hell it was boring. Also I think that the best practice/exercise for anything is actually doing that thing so expect more walking posts to appear upon the electronic horizon.

     My weight loss attempt indeed stalled, the reduction of exercise trying to protect my knees (oh foolish mortal), coupled with then not having the motivation of exercising certainly did not help me focus upon a healthy diet. Having said this I'm still half a stone lighter at fourteen ten than my original weight so it's a good starting, or resuming?, place to be. Coupled with this my cholesterol has stayed high although tis no worse, but this is probably a direct result of the above.

     As for the 'Dog'......


     ...... well he is still at bay and I'm coping with him reasonably at the moment. I certainly feel that this is reflected in my recent blog posts and in my life in general. I know he is there, fangs bared and jaws dripping with anticipation, yet so far he has been unable to drag my mind back to his abyss and with spring knocking on the door maybe it'll be some time before he has a hold upon me again? 

     With two things now to manage, the 'Dog' and me knees, life certainly does have a habit of loading a person as age draws you inevitably back to the soil.

     So there we have it, a most tedious post but one that I wanted to put down on electronic paper. Oh if any of you kindly folk know of anything that may help my decrepit knees feel free to put your two penneth worth in. I'm hoping to trawl the net after two more nights at the grind to find out if there is anything else that I can eat or do to help. 

     Till the next time, take care...

John

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Chicken soup .....

     Having consoled myself after the woeful result of the rugby yesterday evening, which by the way I grudgingly admit England deserved the victory, with a nice lazy day involving getting my hair and greying beard trimmed, a short shopping spree and a fried chicken breast with salad (no chips) at the wonderful Les's fish bar, I have decided to prove to you that I'm not sulking, too much, and will post my long awaited cold cure all chicken soup recipe, cue the sound of a loud and thunderous drum roll maestro if you please....

     The recipe is in two parts, firstly my take on stock and then the simple soup recipe.

Chicken Stock.


     I have to admit that it is only very recently that I have decided to make my own stock and I was quite pleasantly surprised at how simple it was. For the stock I used the following....




     A small chicken carcass from a roast we'd had the day before. And yes I had the usual audience in attendance! 



     This I seperated into three, the meat for the soup, the fatty bits including the skin for the terrible twosome and this left the remains of the carcass for the stock....



      Then I roughly chopped into my pan whatever bits of spare veg I had which this time comprised of an onion from the roast, another couple of raw onions, a couple of leaks, a dodgy looking carrot, some tired garlic cloves, three sticks of celery, parsley and some dill. I added the chicken bones, one bay leaf, ground black pepper and a little sea salt then filled the pan just shy from its top with water. I brought this to the boil, covered and left gently simmering for about four hours. After this I strained the fluid off which gave me just under three pints and left to cool.




      So hey presto chicken stock, this can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen for later use if required.


Chicken Soup.


     Ah so now we come the main event, well the soup bit anyway.....



    
      So in the picture above we have the basic (very basic) ingredients that I employed for this soup and these were as follows....
  • Two pints of homemade chicken stock (ta daa)
  • Two large leeks
  • Four sticks of celery
  • Two large onions
  • Four cloves of garlic
  • The cooked chicken meat (white and dark)
  • A good knob of proper butter
  • A dribble of olive oil
  • A couple of sturdy carrots
  • One sweet pepper (optional)
  • Pepper, sea salt and whatever mixed herbs you have in
  • Oh and some fresh parsley
      I chopped the onions, leeks, garlic, pepper and celery as fine as I could but cheated on the carrots as a cheese grater did a 'grate' job of producing really fine slivers of carrot. The idea being that this be soup for when you're in need of a boost and should be easy on the jaw, especially when you are feeling under the weather with man flu! 


     I then set the pan upon a very low flame and added the dribble of olive oil and the goodly knob of butter. The oil helps prevent the butter burning whilst it's melting down. Once melted I added the various chopped items and gently cooked them, stirring often until they'd softened nicely. 


     
     To this I added the two pints of chicken stock and brought slowly to a gentle simmer, covered and left for fifteen to twenty minutes, giving it an occasional stir.


      Whilst this was simmering away (and smelling damn good I might add) I took the chicken meat and finely shredded it using two forks....


     This was then stirred into the pan with some mixed herbs and left simmering for a further fifteen or so minutes. And that's it, all t'was left to do was to serve up into goodly size bowls and add ground pepper and sea salt to taste.....


     The one on the left is mine hence the large amount of pepper and the fresh parsley...but do be careful not to leave this soup unattended as the ground vultures are never far away..


     Well I hope that this recipe was clearer than mud for you and that I explained it in a fashion that could be understood. As I've said before I'm really only just learning this cooking m'larky and writing recipes for others is kind of worrying, so I do hope that you enjoy my efforts.

     Right, that's about it for this post tis time to brew up and kick back for awhile....I'm off to find a tree to follow tomorrow! Until the next time then, take damn good care...

John

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The English are coming.......

     

     The English are coming and at last the deep yearning within my soul is nearly over as the long awaited hour approaches, for at five minutes past the hour of eight upon the evening of the sixth day of February, the second month of the fifteenth year of the second millennium, the hour duth indeed approach. The air is already heavily laden with expectation of the furious battle between nations to come. For when Old Father Time's scythe cuts the last second from the fourth minute of the appointed hour mens nerves will be shredded, the boasting will be hushed, women will swoon at war weary and hardened gladiators lining up on the field of bloody battle and a nation's hopes and prayers will hang upon the slimmest of threads. 



       The English are coming but shall we falter? Shall we  yield? Should we fear them? With the voice of seventy thousand angels around our holy place we shall sing out no, no and thrice no, for we shall ask no quarter nor shall quarter be given. For we have the heart of the dragon and the English shall not hold fear for us. They shall come to our holy temple and they shall fall upon our hallowed turf. They shall come to play a game, when will they ever realise that this is not a sport, by the Northern gods no! for this is our dream, our religion. Is this madness? No this be far worse........     

 THIS IS RUGBY!




      Till the next time.....Cymru am byth

John

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Londonium....

     Well a weekend just spent in Londonium for a change, not a touristy, see the sights visit but one of sorting a few things and seeing folk not seen since before Christmastime.

     I have to admit to not usually enjoying visits to England's capital city, it truly is a different world and not one for simpletons like my good self. Now, honestly, I'm not having a go at people from the great metropolis of Londonium in general as I'm sure there must be a couple of normal folk still living in the confines of this man made jungle. Yet the difference of Londonium to back home is so very tangible with rudeness, general poor manners and no regard for others outside what can only be described as a personal bubble rife. I mean hell fire, where on earth did these city folk learn the rudimentary basics of driving an automobile and the, not so difficult to follow, rules of the road? First time driving upon my own on Saturday and I felt like I was on a different planet! Not helped by the fact that I was driving a Vauxhall that wouldn't pull the skin off a rice puddin', the short journey from the O2 to Greenwich park was more akin to the whacky races rather than a supposedly slow drive thru urbanized city streets. I'm still wondering if red means go and the 30mph speed limit is the minimum limit in Londonium! Yes I know that I live in the quiet backwater known as North Wales but shouldn't rules be rules where'er I'm driving? Oh and don't get me started on shopping and the throngs of arse holes malcontents who bussle along with nary a glance, smile nor acknowledgment of other people....really is a different world.

     But there are oasis's of relief to be found in the busy urban madhouse that is Londonium, hence the journey to Greenwich park with the troublesome twosome. It never fails to surprise me that right smack bang in the middle of this vast city are areas of such tranquility, well they would be if there was no other people there...yes I know I'm a grumpy old fart when it comes to other mere mortals! 

     Walking in Greenwich park is such a distraction for one minute I'm gazing at seemingly ancient trees that seem contorted with the pain of losing brethren to the concrete jungle.....












      ......But you are never far from the urban sprawl with it's mixture of old and modern....






      So yes I managed to get 'out there' even in Londonium. Oh and the terrible twosome?......






     Well I think that I can safely say that they enjoyed themselves, but the best bit for me.....




     ....dumping the two buggers in the car and grabbing a hot tea in the Cafe and letting my aching knees take a break!! It wasn't the end of the walking though as later I took them for a lead restricted wander along the Thames to the barrier under stormy skies.....



     Put me in mind of a certain King Canute, he also knew that men were not gods and that nature would have her way in time.


      Well that's about it for now, methinks the next post maybe be about a certain sport played by men with odd shaped balls, till the next time take care.

John