Don’t believe them …


I used to be a cook. From 1971 to 1986 I was a cook at the Leeds General Infirmary. In fact from 1983 to 1986, I was the Head Cook in the staff kitchen. All this is a little bit of background information for what I want to have a chat about. That chat is about pastry. Specifically short crust pastry. Now, when you watch these famous TV chefs preparing pastry (and I’ll not mention any names here) they will always tell you that it has to be done by hand .. No mixer/processor allowed!!! .. They will tell you that your pastry will be tough/dry/chewy and any other descriptive term for ‘bad’ pastry they can think of. They will tell you that you have to make it by had, if you want the best pastry. I want to tell you that’s a load of rubbish. When you are making enough pastry to cover pies that are going to feed 300+ people, making it by hand is a non-starter. Can you imagine trying to ‘rub-in’ 20lb of lard/margarine into 40lb of flour by hand!. You have to use a machine. If it works for large volumes, then it has to work for smaller volumes too. So here is my recipe for short crust pastry in a food-processor:

  1. weigh 8oz flour into your food processor with a pinch of salt
  2. dice up 2oz of cold butter and 2oz of cold lard into 1/4 inch dice
  3. chill butter and lard in freezer for 15 minutes
  4. add butter and lard to flour and process until looks like breadcrumbs
  5. add 3floz of very cold water and use the pulse function until the pastry starts to come together
  6. tip out onto a lightly floured worktop and gently kneed for a few seconds until all mixed
  7. wrap in cling-film and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes
  8. use as required

They key to this is the speed of the processing and the coldness of the fat. I takes less than 2 minutes to go from fat and flour to pastry, which means that the fat is still cold. I can assure you that it does work.

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March is going to be an expensive month I think. Firstly, there’s Mothers Day and then there’s K***s birthday. This is one of those significant birthdays too. The big ‘six-zero’. Looks like I may need to move some cash from my savings account, but it should not be a problem really. We are going away for a couple of days on the weekend before the big day which will be nice. We’ve been to the hotel before a few years ago and it was a nice place. Good food, good scenery and it will be relaxing break for both of us. R*** is away for the weekend, so there are no worries about getting back for him. Just got to hope the weather is better than present. It has got a lot warmer overnight which has led to the snow staring to melt into slush. Much fun!

 

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FrontBackNow, here’s a poser. Which is the correct way? Front or back?  Is there a right or wrong way? I have no real preference at all but I know how K*** feels about it. For her it has to be Front. There can be no argument and it can lead to a lot of tutting if I put it the wrong way around. I’ve been in houses that drop down the front and houses that drop down the back. I’ve also been in places that have different preferences in different rooms. I’ve also been in houses where the loo-roll is sat on the cistern behind, which is an odd if not difficult location. So this is not a poll, just wondering that’s all.

 

 

A new year … new beginnings? Perhaps …


So, all those promises I made to myself about getting a part-time job within two months, turned out to be just bluff and bluster. Well …not really. I have been looking, but maybe not as hard as I could. At the moment, things are working out quite well and there is no urgency for me to supplement the pension I’m getting. Of course, that could all change. As R*** starts to increase his respite stays, income we get for him may (will) start to decrease and that’s when our financial situation will alter. But that’s in the future.

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Yet again, one of this years New Year Resolutions has been broken. I shall go into a little more detail here, if I may. K*** had wanted to watch the Robbie Williams new year show (I didn’t) and in the spirit of compromise, I gave in. My opinion …total rubbish … sexist and egotistical does not describe what we watched. Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, we watched the London fireworks (fireworks on the TV don’t really work for me) and then K*** went to bed. I quickly changed channels to watch Jools Holland and his, now famous ‘Hootenanny Show’. Where is this taking us, I hear someone ask? Well, it was during a performance of Tilted by Christine And The Queens that I once again resolved to ‘post everyday‘ which I quickly modified to every two days. As the date of this post shows, that was a fail! It is now modified to ‘post more often‘, but even that may yet be modified.

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Now here’s a question for you. What do you use to write your blog posts? I know I’ve asked this before, but that was before I started with Windows 10. The reason I ask (again) is that I tried today to use the desktop WordPress app. It started okay, and I was able to write and my work was saved as a draft. But then the program crashed … repeatedly. It crashed so many times, that it became unusable in my opinion. So I’m back using the faithful Open Live Writer which works without any problems. Just wondering if anyone who uses the Windows 10 WordPress app have had similar problems.

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Wait a minute! Where does the “new beginnings” part of the title come in? I just thought it was a good sound bite!

Gone mad …


So, have you got this Pokémon Go yet? It seems that if you haven’t, then there is something wrong with you! It is sweeping the country like a plague. Everybody appears to have the app on their phone. The reason for it’s popularity? “It gets kids out of the house” … “The kids are not sat glued to a computer screen” … “It’s a great social thing (whatever that means)” These are just some of the comments I have heard to justify this new craze. Really? Kids are still walking around looking at their phone screen and from some of the news reports, not taking notice of their surroundings. I’ve heard of people walking of cliff edges looking at their phones. People walking into the road to catch these imaginary creatures. Just today, I heard of someone walking into an army minefield. What is going on? Have we really come to this?

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What size …


There was an interesting 15 minutes on day time television yesterday. The crew were discussing the problem with the sizing of clothes. A viewer went to a number of high street fashion stores to purchase a pair of size 16 jeans. The idea was to show the viewers that a size 16 in one store was not necessarily the same size in every other store. Now you may be wondering about my interest in size 16 women’s jeans! Well, it is the sizing issue that interests me.

I need to buy some track suit bottoms. I wear them all the time at home as casual clothes and although they are a little ‘chavvy’ I feel very comfortable wearing them. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on them as I’m not making any kind of fashion statement. I just need them to be comfortable.

Here is where the problem lies. I know my leg length and waist size(!) and have scoured the clothes hangers in the sports wear shop. The sizes they show are: extra small (XS); small (S); medium (M); large (L); extra large (XL) and even extra, extra large (XXL). But what does that mean?

I’ll check the size chart.

What size chart?

There isn’t one.

So how do I know what size I need? Without a size comparison chart, what size does (M) or even (XXL) refer to? I thought that I should be medium so picked up three branded and one unbranded pair and proceeded to the changing cubicle. Guess what? Only one of them fitted properly. The others were either too baggy or too tight. How convenient was it that the only pair that fitted was the most expensive branded pair. I came away empty handed and very stressed… again.

Ever felt like you’re about to be conned …


I bought a Kindle Fire just before Christmas. I was a good deal, as it was about half price and I’ve found it a lot better than the original Kindle that I’ve had for a couple of year.

Early in the week, I received an email from Amazon advising that there may be an issue with the charger coming apart when removed from the wall. It was a product recall for a particular charger. When I checked, mine was one of the suspected chargers. adapter creditThe email explained that I could either have a new charger sent or they would credit my Amazon account with £12.00. I thought that it was a good idea, as I have that many chargers, Adater buythat I did not need another. I don’t know what made me do it, but I clicked the wrong link in the email and was directed the the page to buy a replacement. It didn’t register with me at first, but can you see where I think I was being conned?

Granted, the replacement charger is a better quality charger (or so Amazon say) but maybe they should offer to credit my account with the amount it would cost to buy a replacement. It was only by chance that I selected the replacement. I have never had an issue with buying from Amazon, as the recent purchase of the shower-head proves, but I think they need to look at this again. I think I’m going to write to them and ask for their comments, but I thought I would share it with you first.

Just write something …


For the past few weeks, I’ve have been trying figure out what I want this blog to be. What direction I want it to take. Should I have a theme? Should I write about something I know? Whilst I been thinking about this, I’ve also been looking up on the Internet about ‘what makes a good blog.’ There are shed loads of websites that claim to give the best advice to ‘bloggers’ on how to make their blog count. How to make it successful. How to make post go ‘viral.’

However, the one piece of advice that seems to be consistent is ‘Just write!’ Don’t get bogged down with trying to write for others, just write what you want to write. Now, that said, I did try this ‘once upon another blog’ and I don’t think it worked. So I sat down earlier this evening and tried to work out why I write a blog. What motivates me to sit down once a week and tap out the stuff I produce?

Vanity! That is the conclusion I came to. That and a desire to be recognised. A desire to part of a group that people want to listen to. So I have decided that I am not going to change my blog. It is going to what it is. If people want to read it, they will. If not, then why worry. I’m going to continue (or maybe start) being me. Whoever that is!

Survived another year!


Well it’s over for another twelve months. It is not as dramatic as it sounds, but I hate Halloween. I didn’t used to. It was great when I was a child. We used to go to a neighbour’s house and have a party. We would get dressed up and play games for a couple of hours. Eat party food and generally have fun.

But it has all changed! We now have imported from America Trick or Treat. In Britain, this basically involves kids dressing up in cheap, dangerous fancy dress costumes (usually imported from Chinese sweat-shops) going round the streets knocking doors and asking for sweets. This is now accompanied by the phrase “Trick or Treat. Smell my feet…..” which then trails off into nothing as the kid has not bothered to learn the rest of the rhyme.

Now whilst this is all seen as harmless fun, it has quite serious undertones. For some kids, it teaches that it is okay to make demands with threats. How far is it from “Give me some sweets or I’ll play a trick on you” to “Give me your wallet or I’ll hit you with this brick”. It is that that worries me when I see these kids out there having so called ‘a bit of fun.’

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Now the other thing Halloween gives, is the right for everyone to get into the ‘Christmas Spirit’. Christmas lights can now be officially turned on. You’ll start to hear ‘Christmassy’ songs on the radio. Prices will start to rise as stock become apparently shorter. Christmas stuff will now start to take a more prominent place in the shops. I could go on …. and on …. and on …. and I have not even mentioned the ubiquitous Christmas Present Lists.

Rants are now over. I shall now sit back and relax with my favourite seasonal novel which is ?????

How do you like your posts?


I have always liked to show the full post when I write, which goes a long way in explaining the type of themes I like to choose. I’m not really a fan of those themes that show a snippet of the post, with a ‘read more…‘ link to the rest of the work.

I feel that unless you get the point of the post, in the first line or two, readers may move on to something/one else. I suppose it is the sign of a good writer, if they can ‘hook’ their readers in the first line. When I looked at the posts I have made in the past, the point of the post tends to be towards the middle, and that is where the impact is.

Over the nest few weeks, my goal will be to write better posts with a more persuasive catch line at the start.

But what about you …….?

Do they not know anything?


A friend reposted something on Facebook today which could not help laughing at. It’s not there now, as I deleted from my timeline. It was not something I wanted to see, but basically it showed a great deal of ignorance. The post went like this:

There was a picture of the Union Flag (the UK one if anyone is in any doubt) and with went the words

“Bolton council are encouraging schools to fly the Union flag (as opposed to the ‘Union Jack’, they got that right) and sing the national anthem at assemblies.”

The comment that went with it was ‘At least Bolton is English!’

My main problem was the bit about Bolton being English. Surely, if they were English, then they would fly the flag of St George. That being a red cross on a white background. Then there is the problem of St George himself. It is now widely understood that he was a soldier on the Roman army and that he was either Turkish or Syrian (hmmm … interesting in todays climate!)

We often see nationalists (to give them an actual name) marching with the Union flag and claiming that they are English. You’re not. You’re British under that banner.

The Times they are changing .. of sorts


It has reached that time, when my phone contract is just about to expire. For the past two years, I’ve been using a Sony Xperia T. It is not a bad phone on the whole, although I have had a problem or two. The main issue seems to have centred on the microphone. Mrs H has always said that she cannot hear me when I call, and I, being a male, have always thought that she must be holding her phone incorrectly. It never occurred to me that it might be my phone that was the problem!

So the contract is ending and I can now get an upgrade. The problem is that if I upgrade the phone, I have to take on a new contract, or Price Plan as the provider likes to call them. This ‘Plan’ is quite different from the one I currently use, but I think I can live with it.

The new phone is to be a Nokia 735, which is a Windows phone, as opposed to my usual choice of Android. How different this is going to be, only time will tell.

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I think I may have mentioned this, but our youngest son R*** (we have two) has Autism and sometimes getting him to comply with things that need to be done, can be a trial. One of the hardest tasks is shaving. It is not something he can do for himself, so it is down to me to tackle it whenever necessary. For a number of years we/I have relied on either disposable razors or the much more expensive multi blade jobs. Now, I have never liked shaving with an electric shaver. I have never found it gives a close enough shave. So, like R***, I have tended to utilise the same razors that we get for him. That is until just under a year ago. I had been browsing eBay for razors, in the hope of finding a razor with good reviews at a reasonable price. It was not going well, until I spotted what everyone calls an ‘old fashioned’ safety razor. The price was very cheap and I thought why not? If it is no good, then I would have only lost a couple of pounds (it was that cheap), and it could not be any worse that the ones I had been using.

It was a revelation! It was the best shave I had had in a long time. I quickly realised though, that I would need to get a shaving brush and soap. Squirty foam from a can, did not look right at all.

So this brings me round to the point of this part of my post. Two weeks ago, I was giving R*** his weekend shave and I was having real problems. The multi blade, disposable just was not shaving. It was dragging on his face, and I could see he was beginning to get upset, as it must have been very uncomfortable and possibly, quite painful. I was at a loss as to what I could do. I needed to complete his shave, but was not going to do it the way was doing. You may know where this is going, but I thought I would try using my razor. What was there to lose? Guess what? Revelation time again! It was so smooth and easy to do, and it was all over in 5 minutes, rather than the usual 10.

We now each have our own Weishi (that’s the brand name) razor and all is happy in the mens toilet procedures now.

 

I hate wallpaper designers, but LOVE wallpapering


Someone who was reading my last post (over my shoulder whilst editing) said when they had finished reading “Anyone would think you hated wallpapering!” Well it did not come across like that to me, but then I’m reading it from my perspective not a readers. So to clear up any confusion, especially for those ‘over the shoulder’ readers, I admit that I do rather enjoy wallpapering.

Love is probably too strong a word, but it comes close pretty close. It’s the intricacies I enjoy. The fine detail. Ensuring that the pattern matches exactly down the seams between lengths. The difficulty of fitting the paper around light switches and plug sockets so it does not show is one of the challenges I like. I don’t always get it perfect, but it is what I aim for.

I suppose I’m like that in other jobs too. I hate the phrase ‘it will do’ when I know that it could be improved. Jobs like designing a new form document at work. It has to be exactly right. Margins an appropriate size, best font type, that kind of thing. Which is often the reason it will take me longer to produce this stuff than others. I won’t accept second best. There is probably pyscho/medical condition that covers this. Maybe a mild form of OCD, but I’m not looking for a diagnosis (how did this post get this far?) I just enjoy it.

Pet hates: 01 – Direct mail


This may be a regular feature, I’m not sure yet. I have a few ‘Pet Hates’ and I’ll not post them in any particular order, but just as I fancy. So this is not my No1, it’s just the first one that springs to mind today.

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Direct mail. Now I don’t mean the rubbish that drops into my email inbox. That is easily dealt with. No the type of direct mail I hate is the stuff that get posted through the letter-box.

One of the worst offenders are the ones that try and get you to purchase something by Direct Debit. They’re the one that complete the DD forms for you and just leave you to fill in the bank details. I must have spent a good hour shredding page after page of junk that I have no interest in, just because it has some personal details on. And it’s not as if it’s just on one page! More than 20% of the documents I shredded had my details on at least two pages. In fact one of the documents was a mini catalogue, with a total of nine sheets. Each one had personal details on them.

Financial providers are another offender. Many of todays shredding came from providers want me to take out a loan with them. One I had received actually had all my details completed with the exception of my account number and sort code.

I know you can try and prevent most by hunting down that obscure little box, buried deep in the small print. But have you ever tried to understand what you ticking here? Sometimes you have to tick the box if you do want this rubbish (who does?) and sometimes if you don’t want it. I’ve often seen occasions where there are two boxes. One you tick if you do want mail from that particular company and another box to tick if you do not want mail from ‘carefully selected’ third parties, or vice versa.

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On another track, this is my 555 post on this blog, and to think I nearly gave up after the first week. Next target 1000 posts.

 

Holiday week post from away ….


Well what a good day. First we went to Carnforth. The home of Brief Encounter. Was a bit emotional as it has always been one of my favourite films. Always gives me the goosebumps when ever I hear the music. Warsaw Concerto Actually ‘Piano Concerto No2’ by Rachmaninoff (oops). Gives me the shivers.

Then onto Morecambe. Bit of a disappoint there. It just seems like all the Chavs in the north are walking around, looking for somewhere to spend their benefit money. I know it sounds like a cliché, but that was the impression I got.

Happy what day ??


     It’s time for a bit of a rant. Now I know I may get a bit of a backlash from this (depending on who reads it) but I don’t care. Well I do care, but it is just my opinion.

Happy Mother’s Day

     And that, my friends is the problem. Today, here in the UK we are celebrating(?) Mother’s Days. The day when everything is supposed to revolve around Mothers. The day that we (again) celebrate all things Motherish (made up word.) We are led to believe that this is an ancient tradition going back thousands of years, through various cultures.

WRONG !!!

    Here is a quote from that all knowing website ‘Wikipedia’ ……. “Mother’s Day is an American invention, and it is not directly descended from the many celebrations of mothers and motherhood that have occurred throughout the world over thousands of years…….”. Let’s face it … it’s a money making rip off. It’s the day when offspring spend lots of money on pieces of bent card, with tacky and sickly messages. It’s the day when those same nestlings buy overpriced flowers that have been kept in cold storage for weeks, to keep them ‘perfect’. It’s one of the days that the media, in all it’s forms, go all out to encourage this over indulgence of tackiness.

     Rant over. Well until that equally obnoxious day, that the Americans invented …. Father Day.