Thursday, 27 August 2009


Apparently, my two older kids are 'Kippers', despite one being in their own place.

"Kids In Parents Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings".

Oh, yes. Bear and I knew we'd reached THAT age when the away-from-home one phoned up asking, "How do you make cheeses sauce?". I'm glad Bear answered it. I probably would have said "By a bloody packet, add milk".

Thinking of smelly, it's that time of year when I have to do my pickles for Christmas. Truth is, stuff like Piccalilli and Sweet Chutneys are so so easy to make, for the same reason Great Granny did. To use up bits and bobs left at the end of the week, or to use up garden produce that needs sorting before it goes off. I'm still eating home made pickled onions now - 8 months later!

My Granny's were useless. I used to cook for one in my dinner time at school. Heh:)

It really is so easy nowadays. You get the pickling vinegar AND a jar. Simples. Problem is, it pongs awful while it's cooking. All door and windows open :) But Chutneys and Pickles taste gorgeous after a month in storage.

Naturally, I get the odd wally telling me they could get it from a supermarket. Fine. Ahuh. They get a good pinch of Chilli flakes in theirs (evil grin!)

I used to get my recipes from the net or recipe books - but over time I've adapted them to the way I like. If anyone wants me to post a few, no problem. But beware the pong :)

Christmas cake recipe being posted soon, - that needs doing in the next month....


Sunday, 23 August 2009

String and Sellotape.

Thinking of toast (like you do) , after of about a week-and-a-bit of using the bread maker, we are well chuffed.

We've used the recipes in the booklet that came with it - variations of strong flours, dried yeast, butter (1 oz/25g), and water or semi-skimmed milk. When my twelve year old girl said the 50/50 wholemeal and white, used toasted on one side as a bacon butty, was "The best bread she has ever tasted", we knew we'd cracked it. She hates wholemeal bread :)

My only complaint would be the length of time it takes. It can vary from 2-5 hours depending on the recipe. The up-side is that it has a timer, and for most stuff you can put the ingredients in and (on the bread maker we have) calculate what time you want it ready by, and have the lovely smell of cooked bread wafting through the house when you get up......

Oh, by virtue of the way the bread pan is, bigger loaves aren't longer, as you'd find if you made your own or bought them in a shop. They're taller. The downside of taller is that you have to lay it on it's side to cut it, and you might have to halve a slice to fit it in the toaster :)

There's a 45 minute Pizza base thingy (amongst other things) on ours. In that mode it acts as a mini mixer and riser. Then you have to let it rise again in the oven at 40 C. If you're like me and the lowest setting is 'slow cook', that's about 120 C. We warmed up the oven for 15 mins on slow, then turned it off. That worked. The family were well impressed. I was. With the cost.....

Can't comment on those bread maker ready mixes you can pick up from the supermarket. Bear says they cost about 70 pence (about a dollar?). Well, that's about the price of a half-decent 800g white loaf. We calculated we can make two loaves for that.

*Update* Aged parent turned up with a 500g Morrisons bread readymix containing about 10% each of sunflower seeds and oats. I didn't ask how much it cost (and oddly, Morissons doesn't seem to have a search function on their page.)

Anyway. Add 500g mix to bread pan. Add 300 ml water. Bread pan in maker, set, according to the destructions in the book to 'Bake Rapid Large'. Timer Shows 1 hour 55 mins. Wait. VoilĂ . Simples :)


Funny what odd little skills you pick up. I've had a plastic skull knocking around for yonks. Being a bit of a 'MacGyver' and a fan of stuff like Forensic Detectives, I thought I'd borrow some of Tot's plasticine, and do a facial reconstruction. I was well impressed with the outcome. In fact, for someone who's drawing skills are very cartoony, I was amazed how realistic it looked.

I would have loved to have posted a photo, but Tots nicked the plasticine back. I mean sheesh... :(

Thinking of MacGyver, I'm going to have think of a way to stop kittens nicking bacon butties the moment I turn my back. That and me chicken. They pinched me chicken drumsticks !!!.

Little monkeys.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Catch Me.

Got the house to myself. Oooh, it's nice. Have a young niece staying with us, unexpectedly - at least to me - and all the ladies have nipped out swimming. I'd forgotten what it's like having a couple of twelve year old's around the place........

Had a Ronan Keating Keating song stuck in my head since I woke up. Ok if you hear it once, but....

So while I was sat in the kitchen chopping some veg, I thought I'd belt it out. That'd fix it, I thought. If you can imagine Barry White singing Westlife....

(1) Good thing. Love the guitar riff, and looking forward to the day I can pick up a guitar again. Mate on the Stroke Association taught me a work around where you retune the guitar so it's at least an octave lower, or more if you use a capo. So the strings are slacker, and you don't have to fight to press as hard. One has to think harder tho' because you're forever having to translate the notes on the fret up a bit. Guess it'll become second-nature with practice.

2) Bad thing. Everyone started singing it. Mr. Keating. If you read this, you say it best, if you say nothing at all. Please?


Saturday, 15 August 2009

Mr. Blue Sky

Slightly grumpy-midlle-aged-depends post. Depends when middle is :)

As you've probably read, I get more than my fair share of personal questions about my personal circumstances. I've even been accused of being a 'tin pot god' and 'restricting freedom of speech' because I won't answer personal questions.

I'm sure the politically correct brigade would scream they have freedoms, and they have rights. As they have.

Errr... sorta. Don't yell at me. Yell at the Heinz for the amount of ketchup you get in your bottle. Hovis for the size of your loaf. Cup makers for the amount of coffee in it. Buy yourself two drinks at the pub. But you'll have to pay for them. The choice, is yours. What price freedom, huh?

Look out though, because that way, is the way of madness. It Wheelie, wheelie is.


Little victory today. New Sky viewing card arrived . They do that now and again to update 'the box' for new software updates. I plopped on the floor, changed the card - and found myself surrounded by anxious people wanting to help me up. I said, quite without thinking, "S'cuse me?" and did this weird lefty flip onto my feet. Someone grabbed me to steady me, to find a field of raised eyebrows. I have to admit I thought WTF? I didn't let on how chuffed I was with myself. Don't ask me, I really dunno. Don't tell them either.....


I'm no longer on F-Book. I'd spent the best part of two weeks trying to get on to a service that wouldn't let me, except when it wanted to. I know it's not my machine at fault, I checked. I didn't use it much any way, which made it even more annoying. I pratted about changing passwords, user name, emailing F-book no joy. Which is a pity because they had been very helpful in the past. Shifted two fake profiles using my name no probs.

However, they did eventually provide me with a link to remove F-book permanently if I wanted. So I did.

However 'Er Indoors is still there (try dragging her away from it!) so should anyone want to get a message to me through there, I'm sure she'll be happy to oblique. It'll probably be quicker than email too. :)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Ay me.....

I've had to disallow a few anonymous posts over last few days. Not that they were particularly offensive - it's because they were questions irrelevant to this blog. I would disallowed them even if they had a name and/or blog attached.

However, the common theme seems to be that someone or some people wants to know whether I claim unemployment benefits. I'm going to answer that only because I've written about Disability Living Allowance. Let me get one thing about DLA clear. It is awarded, with a great deal of hassle (well, it felt like that to me) after much poking, prodding, meds and paperwork for help with a disabled persons care and mobility needs.

It is not 'means' tested. Your income and your source of income is irrelevant. You can work and get it, and be available for work and get it, as long as your work or your availability for work is consistent with the circumstances you, your advisor's and your medics state in your claim. That straightforward.

Can you claim DLA and Jobseekers allowance? I don't know. I presume so. I do know that people with disabilities who seek work see a disability advisor at a Jobcentre. I have no personal experience.

Do I or my wife claim Jobseekers (unemployment benefits) ? No. I've never 'signed on' or claimed (un)employment benefits. Never needed to.

I realise that's a bit unusual, particularly in today's economic climate. Why? How? No-one's business but mine. However, if you'd like to pay me..... :)

Now then, dear reader (or nah then, as we say 'round 'ere). I don't mind the odd serious comment. Or question. I'll advise if I'm asked a straight question. I'd much prefer to being a little off the wall and try to be amusing?

Cheer's'me'dears :)

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


I know I touch on some peoples negative attitude to disability sometimes, and thankfully, it is infrequent.

But it does have it's lighter moments.

I patiently listened as a chap talked over my head. I'm used to that. I do, after all, spend some time in a wheelchair.

He was on a roll, and was obviously used to being in charge and having an audience. Waxing lyrical, he went on and on - to someone else, - about 'winging insecurities', and how I could do more for myself, how much was 'in the mind', and how he'd said something similar to some unemployed people he knew.

Hmmm. So, someone trying to find employment and people with disabilities need to get the right attitude, eh?

After five minutes of this tripe, I stood up, arms crossed, looked him in the eye, and said quietly,

"S'cuse me?".

Now, I'm not that tall by modern standards. A touch under 6 ft. At just over 11 stone at the moment, neither could I be accused of being an imposing figure.

The reaction was immediate. His jaw dropped. He went quite, quite, white. Then a funny pink colour. Then white again. Staring wide eyed at me like a rabbit caught in headlights, he did a very good impersonation of a fish.

I don't think I've seen anyone leave so fast.

Ye, gods. I felt so good for the rest of the day, you would not believe it! I'm going to be grinning to myself for days........

Terrible, aren't I :)

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Bread maker

I'm a big fan of home made bread. Actually, tho' I'm not a big eater, I love cooking - heck, I can get fat just from the smell of home grown herbs and spices............. :)

Not good with bread. Don't get me wrong, it's ok, just a bit heavy, and I've spent days, and a small fortune trying to get it light.

So I thought, aw heck. I'd try one of those bread making machines. Me being me, I worked out it would cost us at least 1/3 rd less per year if it works. It wasn't cheap, but it was discounted on Amazon by nearly 40 quid. Veeerum - that's for me :) But more importantly, the machine would pay for itself in a year. Since I use what we have, rather than a special packet mix, it's probably going to be more of a saving.

And d'y'know, as long as you use a strong white flour somewhere in your recipe, it's better than shop bought, as long as you leave it a hour on a cooling rack after you take out the machine. Basil and Sun Dried Tomato tomorrow. Mmmm :)

Ps. After I bought it, I did a bit more research, (doh!) and discovered that it's even more popular than I thought, despite it being a bit expensive. After having it a while, I have to say I'm well chuffed. It does what it says on the tin, and then some. Including Dough, Spelt, Rye, sandwich, Italian... and cakes. Yup, cakes.

A couple of things though. One, it has a timer - so you can set it to have your bread ready in the morning, or when you get back from work. And, by golly, there's nothing like the smell of fresh bread. However, it's not immediately obvious that the end time is the FINISH time - not your start time + begin time as you might expect.

I found Hovis strong flour is a bit rubbish. But Hovis yeast sachets are spot on. Lidel, Morrisons and Tesco strong flours work just fine. I can't speak for those ready mix chuck it in add water things you can get - I've not tried them :)

The machine I bought was the Panasonic SD255 from Amazon

Thursday, 6 August 2009

"Why do I wear a 'wheel chair/cycling' glove on one hand?" I've been asked. D,y'know I've done that for so long I had to think about it :)

That'll be my right hand then. Which DOES work. Sorta. Only that arm, hand and leg belong to someone else. Perhaps I'd better explain. It's a misconception that Strokes hit everyone the same way. In fact, strokes are highly individual. It took me a long time to realise from the comments people have made (*see note end) that Stroke survivors are supposed by many to be totally paralysed, unable to communicate, and somehow lose their intellect. As a multiple stroke survivor, I can tell you....Errr.. No......

I have feeling in my right side. Much reduced, but I do. I have some control. But my right arm and leg and I have spent some time negotiating a peace treaty. Heads or tails result , if you'll forgive the expression.

The glove thingy. Hmm. I've learned a lot about that.

It insists on curling in and pulling in towards my palm. Now, like a lot of fella's, I'm not great keeping my nails short, and I don't bite'em. If, when I'm resting, I didn't protect my palm, my nails would dig in. Voilá !

The interesting thing is it would seem this is quite natural. Little babies can swim and hold their breath quite naturally. Put anything in a babies hand the little mite will grip it. If you look at their hands when their asleep, they tend to be curled.

The human brain is an astonishing beastie. Strokes cause brain damage. Strokes are indiscriminate where they cause damage. Put simply, as fast as it's damaged, it reroutes and makes new signals to attempt to do a task, if that task is repeated often enough.

Even more amazing, if it needs to start from square one, it will. Other primates, like chimpanzee's have a built in similar function to prevent them falling from tree's while asleep in their nests. I can see the sense in that. My right hand grips our rather posh wrought-iron-thingy headboard at night while I'm asleep. So my brain has recovered an instinctive and baby function.

Now you know :)


I TRY make my own bread. I'm rubbish at it. Gosh I've tried. Anyone want a house building? Got the bricks. It doesn't help that I tend to use one hand kneading. Heck, it's a exhausting.

So I'm giving in. I'm buying a Bread machine : This one. I'll not be buying ready-mix.

I'll let you know how I get on.

catch'ya :)

*note:- because of peoples preconceptions about 'stroke' and 'brain', they often think that anything affects the brain affects 'mind'. Certainly it can and does. And maybe it has? So even people who have been around stroke survivors talk about you as though you aren't there. That is SOOO annoying. But being invisible does have it's advantages. Maybe I'll strip naked and jump up and down one day. Ummmm. perhaps not. Ahem.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Shades of my old 'grumpy middle-aged man' blog creeping in here I've noticed. But that's a good thing. It means I'm in a good mood. I'm never happier when I'm grumpy.

See, over there, - a smile ---> :-)

Feel free at any time to tell me off. It won't get you anywhere, but what the heck, you'll be assured I know exactly where you're coming from. How very Cool is that?

Had a couple of friends from The US of A ( Chicago, Illinois ) visit the other day. Caught us with our knickers down, metaphorically speaking. Their doing a tour of Europe. Our place was a complete mess. The place was covered in paper, felt-tip-pens and Tots work. I'd got computer magazines stacked behind me on the table. Coats chucked over the backs of chairs, the sink in the kitchen was full of unwashed pots. And much worse, I was on my second can of Carlsberg Special Brew, and sat there, like a real bad boy, (I'm sorry, I weakened) having a cig. Focus? What's that then?

What's a man to do? Pretend nothing unusual has happened, that's what. I mean, it's not like I could run for it, is it?

What made it special, is that it was a friendship developed over the net. It was nice to see the real person behind the Skype face, talk to the person behind the emails, and the family shared a rather crappy Chinese take-away with the them. Messy house, unexpected visitors, me three-sheets-to-the-wind.

Somehow it worked. It was good.

Late addition. Some of of my favourite songs.

Cat Stevens - Matthew And Son

Yusuf Islam - Who used to be Cat Stevens.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

How do you do....

I've been asked an intriguing question : "What have (I) never done?"

Interesting. I've 'done' a great deal, some a little out of the ordinary. I was a preacher for a while, for instance. I've spoken to the Queen - who was not at all distant and aloof as I expected. She asked me lots of questions and was a very engaging lady. I've climbed a mountain, and did a bungi jump for charity at a nearby village (Stocksbridge) I will never EVER do that again. No siree.

In a world that often defines you by what you do, 'doing' is easy - after all, the first time you meet someone, they often ask "what do you do?". That's easy - whatever I want, within reason. But asking me what I haven't done can be tough.

Hmm. What haven't I done, that I'd like to, I assume the questioner meant. So, randomly.

Go out alone is the top of my list. Haven't done that for years. Biggie that.
Take My Bear out for a meal. Absolutely NOT POSH at all. Can't stand those places. SO artificial. Steak Chips and Mushy peas'll do us.
Find a decent Chip Shop. Proper chips. Crisp on the outside, soft in the middle. Armadillo.
I've never been to Pizza Hut.
Or Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Visit Antarctica. Had the chance once, dropped out because of, ahem, a lady. Good job too. The ship sank off the coast of Chile :) But I could have had 6 months in the Republic of Chile :(

I've never slept (or done anything else) in a haystack. I've heard it's cool. No such things as haystacks nowadays, I'm told. Drat. :(
Snowboarding. I'd given up on that - but a Japanese friend showed me This Site Yey!
Have a hang over. Never had one, they look horrible, but try as I might.....
Find a regular supplier of Whelks and Scallops. The Uk is rubbish inland for shellfish.
Cook and Eat a 2 lb Steak. Don't care what it is, but no pork. Kangaroo, Ostrich, Bear?
What can I say? I love to cook.

My absolute favourite? I'd just love to spend a whole winter alone somewhere where temperatures are below minus 10 C, and snow piles up 3 or more feet, no central heating, no supermarkets, basic facilities. Done it for brief periods, want more. Pure heaven. If there's a heaven, mine would have blizzards. Wheelie Weather!

There's more, but those are the basics I can think of.