25 August 2006

experiments in the kitchen

I decided to try summat new tonight, and made kung-po pork with noodles. It was bloody lovely, but about ten minutes later, my tongue was on fire, so I put it out with some Shahi Kulfi.

I think I'll put a bog roll in the freezer, just in case.

23 August 2006

Quotation of the day

"Only when the last tree has died, and the last river has been poisoned, and the last fish has been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money."

18 August 2006

17 August 2006

The worst mother in the world?

31 year-old Emma Kelly has been sent to jail for getting her nine year-old son hooked on heroin and crack cocaine.

What sort of a sick, twisted person could do that to their own child? In my opinion she isn't fit to be a mother and when she does eventually get out of prison, she should never, ever be allowed to work with or have unsupervised access to children. I wonder what the other women will think of her, in the jail she ends up in?

15 August 2006

Get well soon, Chi

Poor Chi, Bolton Mountain Rescue Team's rescue dog, has had a bit of a mishap with a strimmer and has a very poorly leg.

Get well soon, Chi, and they'll have you chasing cans again soon :o)

Oh yeah, and whilst you're looking at their website, remember that the Mountain Rescue Team is funded entirely from donations, so you might want to bung a few quid their way to support the excellent work that they do, supporting the other emergency services who get proper Government funding.

14 August 2006

Blood, Sweat and Tea

Come on folks, only a few hours left before this rare tome, signed by the author, goes under the hammer.

It's all in the name of charity, folks, and it'll be a damn good read too!

07 August 2006

Bushmoot

I wrote this ages ago, intending to give the full story of the Bushmoot, but I never had time to finish it, so I thought 'stuff it', and I'll just post what I've got so far. I might even finish it one day.

On Thursday 27 July, Mad Dave, Spike and I rode to South Wales in order to attend the Bushmoot - a five-day
bushcraft event. Somewhere near Swindon, Spike's ratty old Honda decided to eject its clutch cable and adjuster, forcing him to crash the gearbox until we could get out of the roadworks and onto a side road. Although he was carrying an emergency cable kit, it took over an hour to get it fixed because the bike was just too damn hot to touch. I rang the campsite to warn them that we were going to be arriving somewhat later than we expected.



When we eventually got to the
Acorn campsite, at Llantwit Major, the site owners couldn't have been more helpful. It was nearly 9pm, but they'd reserved us a really nice pitch, and then told us that although the pubs would have stopped serving food, the local Chinese were more than happy to deliver to the site. So we ordered a six-course banquet, and jolly nice it was too. That night, Dave slept like the dead, in the porch of the tent. Spike couldn't sleep and kept me awake too, so in the end he got up to make a brew. Despite walking over Dave three or four times, he didn't stir at all. Sometimes I wish I could sleep like that.

The following day, we managed to get about five miles when Dave came hareing up behind me, indicating that I should pull over. Spike's bike had broken again. This time, however, it wasn't the clutch cable - it was the engine, and it was really broken. It appeared to have thrown a valve. We decided that Dave and I would continue to the Bushmoot site at Merthyr Mawr, offload the gear and go back for Spike's stuff. When I was on the way back to Spike, I had a flash of inspiration.
Para cord! What self-respecting bushcrafter would be without it? We braided a 50 metre length of cord down to about 15 metres, and then I towed Spike the remaining 2 miles to the site. No problemo :o) Sadly, when we got to the site, I stalled the Kwak whilst trying to get up the hill and after two more failed attempts, I decided I didn't want to burn out my clutch and told Spike he'd have to push the bike. A nice chap in a Volvo (yes, a Volvo!) offered to tow him, but it went wrong and Spike dropped the bike, so the lovely Scruff helped him to push it to where Dave had started to set up our camp. Spike and Dave were in hammocks, I had my nice big tent and airbed. OK, so I'm a softie, but I didn't have the dosh to buy a hammock and made do with what I already had. Nice, comfy airbed...


We were joined at our camp by two nice young chaps called Rob and Alex, who brought one small tent and a hammock, and they swapped over each night. Soon after, Nick arrived on his trusty BMW and slung up his hammock about 20 yards away and then came over for a chat. There wasn't any designated camping area, everyone just found a nice tree or a bit of flat ground and set up there.

The first evening was spent meeting up with our fellow Bushmooters and generally socialising. We met
Mors Kochanski, who had come all the way from Canada, just for us! He started an impromptu workshop on shelter-building and kept us entertained for quite some time. He really is a fascinating, knowledgable and friendly bloke, and I felt quite priviledged to meet him.



At some point, we were summoned to the hut by the sounding of a large metal
triangle, and it was only then that I realised that there was a hell of a lot of us in attendance. We were told that the triangle would be sounded each morning, to call us to the hut to listen to the notices and find out what workshops would be running each day.

I slept like a log on Friday night but I still felt tired on Saturday morning, and was rather dismayed, when the triangle sounded, to find it was already 10am. We hauled ourselves over to the hut and had a look at what was on offer. We decided to have a go at the 'fire by friction' workshop in the morning, and the knife-making demonstration in the afternoon.

The fire-by-friction workshop was really interesting. We learned about various fire-lighting techniques, including using fire-steels, flint and (gasp) matches! Then we moved on to the best types of punk and kindling to get an ember going, and then finally moved on to constructing and using bow-drills. Whilst I didn't have any trouble in making my bow-drill, I did have trouble in using it, because I found kneeling down just too painful for my knackered knees. I think I'll stick to my fire-steel.



On Saturday afternoon, we went off to the knife-making workshop. Although Stuart was very informative, I never realised just how long it takes to make a knife by hand and after three hours, the audience was wilting somewhat. Stuart realised that it was dragging on and called it to a halt, saying that he'd finish it off the following day, for those who were interested. I felt a bit guilty because I kept yawning. It wasn't because of the subject matter, it was because Thursday's sleepless night was catching up with me and I just wanted to crawl into my sleeping bag and fall into a coma.



Saturday evening, there was a new arrival to our little camp, in the form of Cap'n Badger. He took one look at us and the bikes and decided that was the place for him. It was soon after that, that our area became known as 'the naughty corner'. I can't think for a minute why...



On Sunday morning, Dave went off flint-knapping whilst Spike and I opted for the trapping workshop, and I nearly melted whilst watching the demonstration. I felt really ill because of the heat and I sought refuge under a tree for a while, but I still managed to make my trap support and trigger :) I was quite chuffed with the end result, but we weren't allowed to leave them set up, so no bunny for tea that night.





On Sunday afternoon, whilst Dave was still knapping away, Spike and I went to the knife-sharpening workshop. I suppose I had to go, really, since it was me who asked for it... I certainly learned a lot from the workshop, and I know I can now sharpen my knife well - cos I promptly cut myself on it, but at least it was a nice clean cut and healed very quickly.

Sunday evening was spent around the fire, singing and talking bollocks - just what I'm good at!
On Monday morning, we all mucked in to help construct the
hangi. Dave helped to collect rocks, whilst Spike and I chopped logs. I'd never used an axe before and got a bit pissed off with a few unhelpful folk (Spike) who kept telling me I was doing it wrong. Then a couple of nice cha.ps came over and showed me how to do it properly, rather than just criticising, and I was soon chopping away merrily. I think Spike had the right idea by getting out of my way, cos I was on a mission.

Once the hangi was lit, Dave, Spike Cap'n Badger and I decided to go for a walk to the beach. Walking over the sand dunes was really hard work and it was only a matter of minutes before my calf muscles were screaming for mercy. Once we made it to the river, the going was much flatter and easier. Spike and Badger stopped to skim pebbles for a while, and insisted on having their photo taken with a decapitated Father Christmas, and then we set off again towards the beach. There was a shocking amount of litter which had washed up with the flotsam and jetsam, including sharps and other nasty objects, and it did dampen our spirits a little. However, they were soon lifted when we got to the beach, and I got my little kite out. It was the first time I'd flown it, so I was rather annoyed that the line appeared to have been cut into one foot lengths, but Spike donated a hand-fishing line and my little kite was soon fluttering away above my head. Not to be outdone, Badger found a broken kite abandoned on the sand, repaired it and then got it flying nicely.



The walk back to the forest was worse than the walk out there. Spike kept collecting rabbit skulls, and I developed huge blisters on each heel, which are not fully healed now, over a month later, and I when I got back to my tent, all I wanted to do was lie down and take the weight off my poor feet. However, I thought it would be a good idea to make some food, as we were getting very hungry by then, and the hangi was showing no signs of being ready. When the call to the hangi was eventually heard, people came scrurrying out of the forest like ants. Despite my valiant efforts, I completely failed to get anything at all; it was all gone in seconds. I was glad I'd decided to cook beforehand.



The remainder of Monday night was spent sword-fighting wih Badgers rather impressive weapons, chatting, singing, talking more bollocks, finishing off whatever alcohol we had left and then we went to bed and passed out.



Tuesday morning was somewhat strange. I really didn't want to leave the forest and I'd have quite happily stayed a few more days. We said our goodbyes to all the new friends we'd made, and I was particularly touched that Alex had carved me a spoon, as a thankyou for feeding him and Rob with my endless supply of bacon butties (cooked on our ace campfire) and biscuits. The spoon is now hanging on my wall to remind me of the fantastic time we had there.



We took our time striking camp, and Dave set off home, whilst Spike telephoned for the big truck with the orange flashing lights. The big truck arrived soon after he'd called, and the driver kindly offered to take my heavy luggage, so I set off home. Unfortunately, I made two major cockups on the way back. First of all, not having a map, I took just about the longest route possible to get back to the M5, and then I missed my turning off the M5 and ended up going 40 more miles out of my way, which meant that Spike actually got home 10 minutes before I did. Shame that I had his housekeys, like. Good job it wasn't raining, cos he was sat outside waiting for me.

We got in the house, ate, showered and then fell asleep. Dunno about him, but I slept like a bloody log.


A huge thank-you to Tony and all the others from Bushcraft UK who worked really hard to make sure that everything went right. We had a bloody fine time and can't wait for the next one.

Broke it!

My office PC decided that I was working it too hard, and this morning, without so much as a 'by your leave', it went pop, leaving just a blank screen and a funny smell.

Anyway, I rang our IT helpdesk in London and explained that the power supply unit had given up the ghost, and the helpful chappie there said he would arrange for a new machine to be brought to me. Whilst he was still on the phone to me, giving me a call reference, my mobile rang. It was the engineer asking what time my office was open in the morning so they could drop off the new machine. How good is that, eh? I'm well impressed. Well done PICT!

a good reason to boycott Selfridges?

Apparently, in response to 'high demand from customers', Selfridges have decided to launch their Christmas range this week.

High demand? Yeah right, what a load of tosh. Well, I won't be going in there, that's for sure. I don't even celebrate Christmas, so why the hell should I have it rammed down my throat in the shops? It's August, for Pete's sake! Christmas is still 140 days away. That's 21 weeks. Almost 5 month.

Selfridges, you are pathetic if you think we believe your excuse for pushing this cynical marketing ploy upon us.

03 August 2006

if Cooldrums can do it, then so can I !

OK, so I was jealous. So I went and bought myself a new camera. I'm still learning how to use it, but I like it already. It's a Pentax ist DL2, digital SLR.

So, here's one for starters: