Sunday, September 26, 2010

I must be a good guy in another life

Well I must have done something really good in a previous life; I really must have too have had a day like today. Oh you want more detail? Oh very well if you really insist.

It’s Sunday, now Sunday in our household, if we’re both fortunate to be off together, means car boot day. Mmmmm car boot sales, I can feel my pulse racing at the very thought. You see for me car boot sales are great for two reasons, firstly, if I’m really lucky they provide me with my main supply of items to sell upon the dreaded e-bay (usually Lego) to help finance life’s little luxuries (like a new bleedin’ turbo for the, ahem, fun cruiser), and secondly sometimes they provide me with manner from heaven, items that just enrich our lives, from work clothes too tools to fishing gear too garden bits n bobs. Oh yes indeed upon occasion they may well even bring a wry smile to this grumpy Welshman’s grim exterior. And today’s boot sale was one of those which you could ask no more of.

Firstly there was the rather large tub of vintage Lego, oooh I almost felt a pang of guilt as I bartered the seller to a third of his asking price when there was a healthy profit to be made for the full one (notice I said almost), but then things got really interesting.

A book I hear you decry, ah a book indeed I reply, but one of those that draw your eye, your hand caressing its cover as you ask how much? without even thinking of trying to haggle. The book is over a hundred years old and is called ‘The Settlers of Canada’ written by a certain Captain Marryat. When the cover is a dedication dated 1907, I’m yet to read this little gem but I’m sure that it will be of interest to Le Loup.

Then things improved, oh yes they did. Knowing about my excursions into brewing apples and perhaps other stuff, then feast your eyes upon the picture below;-

Purchased from three different stall holders for the princely sum of £6.00 we have an unused selection of home brewing paraphernalia; a hydrometer, a hydrometer glass, 4 sealable bottles, a demijohn heater, a bottle corker and a bottle crown corker! Oh I must have been so holy in a previous life.

The end of my glorious day you’d think, but no mere mortals there is more to tell. After a brunch of bacon and egg butties we spent the afternoon in glorious autumnal sunshine tiding the garden and painting the garage walls (only a couple of years since they were rendered, oops). Tired and happy it was time to take the smelly one out for a stroll. We headed to Moel Famau knowing that the trails would be empty as the evenings light was beginning to fail. It’s a good while since me and Lucy had padded these particular paths and we were not disappointed. The smell of the open moorland edged by the managed pine forests swamped my senses fully, if only I had smelly blog, for my poor attempt at words in no way could describe to aromas and freshness of air that assaulted our senses.

We took a circular route that encompassed the open heather filled mountain sides and then turning before we climbed to the Jubilee Tower we skirted through the pine forests, eventually arriving back at the fun cruiser’s parking spot as the light left us. Along the trail Lucy actually managed to flush a squirrel which just escaped a sloppy tonguing!

Below are just a few of the pictures I took along our path, none give justice to the country side we passed.

 Above can be seen one of the many bronze age hill forts that add history to the local

As the sun settled Lucy gave me that look that said our time on the hills was done, time to go home.

Home now and truly knackered, I emerge from the shower (sorry, hope you weren’t eating) foe Clare to put a meal of lamb chops and all the trimmings in front of me with a cold glass of cider to boot. I’ve just had time to type this up for you before hitting the hay after all work calls tomorrow, but with days like these – who cares?

Thank you for taking the time to read my tired musings, I cannot be bothered to spell check so I’m afraid there may be a few erroes in this post.

Your friend


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Time flies

How time does fly, tis been almost a fortnight since my last post and for this I apologise profusely for my lack of attention to the brave few who do me the great honour of following my blog and putting up with my meandering musings. Ah but if the truth be known I do have a plausible excuse for my remissness (is that a real word?), if any of you fine, upstanding citizens had paid attention to my previous, mournful post you would remember that I was lamenting the fact that I have become disillusioned with my lack of accomplishment with my life of late. So bearing this in mind I have indeed “Got off my lardy arse and done a damn sight more”, which has left little time for tapping away at my keyboard to keep you updated in my world. Also I have been absolutely knackered this past couple of weeks even though my beloved Clare and I have both had a little time away fro the grind.

So what has this rotund little Welshman been getting up to of late? Indeed you may ask for I could weave a tale of journeys long and wearisome and fraught with many a danger, of the mighty quaffing of copious amounts of grog and grand feasts of suckling piglet, mead and vitals. But to be honest that would be stretching the truth a tad, oh alright it would indeed be a post of tall tales and a little bit of exaggeration and yarn spinning, but hey if it wasn’t for my total honesty, ahem, then you’d all be none the wiser.

Ok so here’s the report and run down as it happened, firstly my good friend and work colleague, Chunky Monkey (you’ve been warned previously not to ask) have completed our first attempt at making cider. For us this was a totally new and untried task and to be honest we’re not 100 per cent sure that we’ve done it right (more like 5%). But for those interested here’s how we stumbled through; firstly we collected apples (yes obvious I know), close to where Chunky lives we were fortunate enough to have access at four different varieties of apples all of which seemed ripe enough for the process to begin. Our thinking being that by mixing types of apples we’d have a better chance of producing something vaguely drinkable. After washing the apples we cut them into segments and worked up a sweat pulverizing them into a course mash using a piece of rounded hardwood, this mash was then pressed (in our newly acquired fruit press) to relieve it of its precious juice. The juice was roughly filtered into demijohns, a measured amount of yeast added (well sort of measured) and then stopped with an airlock. Simple eh, taking just a few moments of the morning? – Pah, with all the apples that we’d gathered we were expecting gallons of apple juice flowing into our demijohns with the bare minimum of effort, ha haw naive we were. Several hours of cutting, pulping, pressing and filtering later with some not so inconsiderable Anglo Saxon been emitted we’d fill……. Wait for it….. two demijohns!, yes that’s right two poxy demijohns, we must have sweated more liquid than that. But truth be known we’ve learnt a lot from this attempt, firstly it takes a lot of apples to produce enough juice for just one demijohn (about a gallon of liquid required about 16lb of apples), secondly we need to buy/make a device to pulverize the apples before pressing as this was the most time consuming and palm of the hand blistering part of the process. Worth it? Well in 6 months I’ll let you know, but for the time being watching my solitary bottle bubble away as it ferments brings a smile of remembrance of a day happily spent with a mate, laughing, swearing and looking to the future, so yes very much so worth it. Oh and by good fortune the apples around here are just ripening nicely so we’ll be having another bash soon.

Ah time flies doesn’t it? Barely two weeks ago myself and the bog monster were indulging in one of my favorite walks. It consists of walking down the dried river bed of the River Alyn through Loggerheads Country Park and down to Cilcain. The change in the air around us told us both that autumn was just around the corner. Something deep inside of me loves this season, the change in the air is so tangible it can be smelt and indeed tasted, it brings visions of hearty meals, darker evenings swapping tales around warm fires and walks that have just that little more in the way of pulling you to next horizon, it’s truly a season of change, which indeed goes hand in hand with my present frame of mind. The thing I enjoy about this walk is the different perspective that it gives you of the land around. I know the short trail between Loggerheads and Cilcain well, but when viewed from the dry river bed the walk is a stranger to me, offering a new twist to a much visited and familiar trek. Another thing is that along this ‘trail’ I’m the only person here, with suits me and Lucy fine, meaning that our thoughts are our own and if I want scratch me arse I’m perfectly free to do so without offending a sole. Human company is fine, but the solitude to be sometimes found in our overcrowded isle is pretty much unbeatable (ok so I’m a grumpy so n so).

Today, 14 days later, we traveled the same trail once more and from the pictures you can tell that it was the woodland paths that our feet pounded and not the broken limestone bed of the river. A few days of heavy rain, and what at one point seemed to be an ever dry water course was singing away in full voice once more, all the plants that seemed to have taken a permanent hold over the last few months had been washed away in an instant.

One good thing thought, the evening’s rain meant that myself and the bog monster had the trails to ourselves, one bad thing though – guess who decided to play the ‘spook game’ and guess who fell for it once more?

And of the rest of the time, well Clare and myself have be spending time together, this is precious for us for at times we hardly see head or tail of each other when the long shifts of work conspire to leave us we only what seems as the barest glimpses of each other. It’s now, when we’re off together that we feel that in some ways we’re just getting to know each other all over again. It may seem strange that after 18 years of marriage this should be the case, but work and everyday living does keep us apart in many ways so that this time off together is made the most of to reaffirm the bonds which bind us together in our lives with one another.

Of course I’ve been out on the trails with the phantom of the slime pit; So here's a few photo's of what the autumnal season is bringing us as me and old smelly tread ever further afield in search of rarely trod upon pathways:

We’ve been checking out a couple of new fishing venues which I’m sure will lead to some interesting adventures to regale you with, the garage has nearly been rewired by yours truly and also the prep work has well and truly been restarted upon Carp Diem, I also planted some late beetroot and leaks in the corner plot (as it’s now called) of my back yard. So all in all a busy but rewarding time, I’ll try and be more constant with my musings in future, but for now thank you for taking the time to read this far.

Your friend,


Friday, September 10, 2010

Have you ever tried or are you just a dreamer..........

I received the above title via an E-mail from ‘Damn’, a fellow Britain and ‘all round good egg’, never did quite understand that saying, anyway the guy’s a good un and his blog is well worth a look. The question asked was certainly harmless enough and just referred to comments left on BeMistified’s blog, Neon Green Blathering, with Damn just inquiring as to whether I’d used a long bow or not, well the answer is no but why not is another matter. This simple inquiry struck a chord with myself about basically, perhaps, the fact is I do dream a little to much as to the person I’d like to be and to how I’d like others to think of me. When I think of the past year and of how little I’ve actually achieved considering the plans that I had laid out, it really does feel that I’ve become complacent and lethargic since the year started.
Oh yes I’ve my list of excuses; the operation, the financial loss of a months salary because my tight arsed employers refuse to pay sick pay for said operation, the feeling that I’ve still to regain my strength after the operation (even though it’s fast approaching a year since it happened), a hundred and one chores around the house, the ever spiralling cost of living, the turbo ‘going west’ (another saying I don’t get) on the fun cruiser, the crappy shift rota that I’m on at the moment, oh yes indeed the list goes on and on. But hold on a minute what kind of excuses are they really? After all I’m not the only person on this sphere that has health, money or work worries am I? If I’m truly honest with my self I’ve indulged myself with far too much dreaming this year and way too little doing. I mean to say I’ve hardly touched any projects in the sanctuary of the garage (please, heads bowed whilst mention of that sacred refuge is made), the walking has been steady but one would hardly call it challenging now would they? As for Carpe Diem, she still rests upon her stand untouched and unfettled now for months. It just seems that I’ve let slip the drive and energy that I’d previously enjoyed without even being able to acknowledge this fact, sure I’ve filled my blog with enjoyable enough tales, but there should have been so much more to share with you all! I’ve come to realise that I’ve let myself, my beloved Clare and your good selves down in so many respects this passing year, there simply should just have been more, it’s as simple as that.
With this in mind I’ve revised and compiled a completely new, unabridged, bucket list, I hope you’re ready for the tedium of reading through it all:-

1.     Get off my lardy arse a do a damn sight more.

Ok finished the readings have we? then let’s move on. Having admitted my shortcomings I’ve dived headlong into doing more, rash? of course but hells bells one has to commence as one intends to carry on. First things first, my workmate, and long time ‘trying to get me to sail a boat on my lonesome’ type chap, Captain Jim, has been blathering on at me to restart my crewing and then sailing solo now for some time and also keeps mentioning a two day sailing event upon Windermere up in the lakes next summer.  A quick phone call last night and we’re booked in for said two day camping and sailing jolly (gulp). Taking the plunge with the fun cruiser (notice the word fun’s back) not only has the turbo being replaced but the dreaded MOT has been overcome and new brake pads are winging there way towards me as I type, garage job? oh no way that’s one to be done by my good self. Another workmate, Chunkey Monkey has convinced me to go halves upon a fruit press (please do not tell Clare) so you can guess what we’ll be up to next week.
Mmmmm Cider!

As for the walking, well three trails (two new) in two days, one of which had the sweat pouring from my not so sylph like figure, and one of which was without the bog monster! Now before you all start lambasting me and reporting me to the not so proper authorities, one of the ‘excuses’ for the lack of walking any distance was that Lucy’s getting on in age now a days so I can’t go as far with her. Pah what a load of tosh, if I can learn to sail solo I think that I might just be able to manage to walk solo. Yes, of course I was guilty about leaving her sprawled out in the settee, snoring her bonce off, but there’s only so much walking she can do now and she needs to have breaks in-between.  Below are just a few of the pictures taken of the walks, can you guess which one was without ‘she who sticks of slime’?

I even managed to sneak a couple of hours fishing between walks down at the Mount;

and yes I've even done chores at home, simple things such as setting up the new, ill gotten, composters and plumbed in the water butts, hopefully encourage more and better crops next year in our limited space.

So yes, I had my momentary droop of the head and a wallow in self pity, but that’s not going to achieve anything is it. All there is to be said now is thank you ‘Damn’ for unconsciously bringing to the fore what I’d already known deep down. Oh yes I never did get to learn the long bow (offers anyone?) but in my youth I did at one time use to hunt rabbit (amongst other stuff) upon occasion with a cross bow but that came to a rather swift end with an incident involving some snares, an arse of a poacher and the local constabulary but I think that may well be a tale for another day!

Cheers for reading (that’s if you managed to get this far), and I’ll be sure to write some more soon.

Your friend,