Saturday, 16 October 2010

Pocket Money

After being nagged for the umpteenth time by 13 year old Tots for :-

a) An increase in pocket money

b) Face paints for Halloween

c) Yet another Art Set.

d) Another pair of shoes

"Or" she announced, she will "go on strike"


I responded by showing her the combined Gas & Electricity bill that arrived this morning.

She went quite, quite pale.

Sorted. :)

Go "on strike" from doing quite what, I wonder? She's got me there......

Friday, 15 October 2010

There go I

Any married man will tell you that when the Missus, aka, 'Er Indoors, in my case The Bear, says "yes dear", or in Bears case, "Yes Luv", you gotta think quite what that means.

It sound simple doesn't it? No it isn't. Hubby has to be a Psychologist, Sociologist, Psychiatrist, Relate Councillor, and Mastermind contestant. Worse, he has to be prepared. And aye, there's the rub.

In an instant.

Couple or five things where I thought I should do the Hubby thing about and have a word. Ahum.

(y'know, old fashioned stuff. Keeper of the Ark, head of the household, see last post..)

So I Girded My Loins (whatever that means), kept my shield handy, adjusted my armour, and just to be safe, loosened my sword in it's scabbard, and.....

She looked thoughtful, said "Yes Luv", and asked me to knock together a quick Tesco shopping list.

Within an hour, she had a phone call from aged father-in-law. "Looks like y'mum is dying. Won't have nowt to door w't'doctor, won't eat, she's ect, ect, ect. " Bear calmly and coolly explained we'd all noticed she looks more like 96 than 66, was 'knackered looking, lost a lot of weight", had unhealed sores on her face and arms, was pale, and listless. She'd refused to go to her GP for years.

"Sod what she wants. Call a doctor" said Bear. So he did. GP discovered her blood sugars are so high it didn't show a figure. It just said 'HI'. My meter goes from Lo (less than 2.0) to 'HI' (greater than 30.0) I'm a steady 6.0 mmol, which with care, is about normal.

So, Bear is off with her Dad (in his 70's) to take mother in law to admissions at a local hospital.

While she was waiting, Bear couldn't stop laughing at the antics of Sigma the dog and Marco (his big brother) trying to chase a ball down a long, laminate floor hallway. Legs scrabbling away and getting nowhere :)

Talk about double edged sword.... People are remarkably complex aren't they?

I'll explain why consistent high blood sugars are dangerous in another post, particularly if there's a family history of type two or one diabetes.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Stroked, not stupid.

This is getting very, very frustrating.

More and more frequently, I've discovered that various people I know have, little by little, 'ow shall we say? Taking liberties?

A couple of f'rinstances. I get a phone call. "Is Bear there? No? Fine, not like you could do anything anyway, heh, heh, heh. " Oh, yeah? A couple of days later, I answer the door. "I'm here to do 'so-or-so' I've not been able to talk to Bear, did you tell her I called, she can pay me when...." Slam.

Heh, heh. I handle the finances, ta very much.

Another regular " Can you lend me..." Nope! :) "Oh, I find that hard to believe" That's my favourite, that is.

Mate of mine attends a church. Made a vaguely suggestive comment about Bear in front of a church leader. Idiot. And I know he knew it, because he came right to to Bear and I and apologised. End of.

You think? Oh, no. Went on to ban him from some meetings to teach him a lesson. Like Duh, that's helpful. Was I ever consulted by that church or advised someone had said something untoward about my lass? Nope. You'd think so, wouldn't you? Oh, great, that's what you do with some chuff who puts his foot in it. Deprive him of a 'positive' influence. Uhuh. Pffft. Tufty Club. But we thought.... ahhh, well.

"I've bought you a drink, but not him, because he's not allowed" WTF? Whats he doing in my wallet?"

Taking the change he kept. That's what. So sue me.

Just a few examples of the crap I sometimes have to put up with, and do you know, I've found it's not unusual.

I'm stroked. Not stupid.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Winter Fuel Allowance.

"D'ynow" sighed The Bear "If anyone else says bet that 'Winter Fuel Allowance' will come in handy getting near Christmas' I'm gonna thump 'em".

She will too. Not backward in being forward, is my Bear.

It's a yearly ritual. Someone just has to say it.

I know I'm almost a decade older than Bear, and unlike her, there's snow on the roof and holding my nose and bottom lip up. I can still laugh when some wag cold-calls and asks her "Is your dad in?". My Totsies favourite joke "Shit by the fire grandad, and 'ave shum shoop" - A quote from Terry Pratchett's character Cohen The Barbarian in 'The Light Fantastic', still raises a chuckle.

Indeed, my waist may well be trying to expand to fit my trainer-pants (darn it!) I may spend a lot of time covered in plasters in places I doubt even my mother remembers, and say "Hello floor!" so often Floor and I are thinking of getting engaged - even when I'm sober. Even.

Sure I know I dribble. It's that picture of
Dannii Minogue in the hallway. And I DO remember who Roger Whittaker is. It's that bloke who lives two doors down. See? It's certainly true I've reached that age when sex is something where I wake up thinking "Eh, what WAS that?, Hello?".

But, Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm the chap who got an apology from Sun Life Over Fifties for sending junk mail.

But seriously, Winter Fuel Allowance is for those who were born on or before 5th July 1950.

Click on the red lettering to learn more :)

Gotta go. Aged father-in-law, who is famous for his hatred of trees, is in a bulldozing mood. He's trying to convince Bear that a willow in my front garden is damaging a gate, despite the gate being hinged away from the tree. "Summat in t'tree affecting gate". I planted that bloody tree. Ta. Thinking of chaining myself to it in protest.

My tiny pink ass it is......

You'd think some people would realise I get a bit iffy about being steam-rollered about anything. By anyone.

Catchya laters :)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Key Keeper

Elder daughter moved out quite a while ago, though only 10 mins away. Bit by bit, as she's become used to having her own family, we're seeing less of her - tho' for that you can read that Bear pops around at least every couple of days.

Son'o'mine moved to his own place a couple of weeks or three ago, a bit further away, and has discovered the joy of bills. Even so, he's dropping by less and less. Bear was very glum and quiet when he gave her back his keys recently.

So after 25 years, it's just Bear, Teen-Tots and I.

It feels very odd. Bear is having a tough time remembering she doesn't have to shop for 5 any more, she doesn't HAVE to keep the freezer chock-a-block, not even just-in-case, and it's absolutly fine if the fridge looks a bit empty. And as for those crisps and pop - well.....

So it's clear out time - and I suspect it's going to take awhile. And that's not counting the huge amount of paperwork and bills the 20-odd year old's haven't taken with them.

Meanwhile, it's "Dad, have a copy of our keys in case we lock ourselves out"

It's taking some getting used to.

Doomed, I tells yer.

Made me chuckle.

Realised this Sunday will be the 10th of October 2010, or if you like 10/10/10

Written as binary, 101010.

Convert that to decimal :-

1 = 32
0 = 0
1 = 8
0 = 0
1 = 2
0 = 0

32 + 8 + 2 = 42

Now click here "What is the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything".

Spooky, huh? :)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Apparently, I'm 'apostate'. If you've never been involved in organised religion, historically, it's a description of a personal choice not to be involved with an organised religion.

Nowadays, it's more a description by those in religious societies to describe those who chose not to be involved in their societies. There's a subtle difference. It's meant as a bit of an insult. The bottom line is whatever the religion, they believe they are chosen to spend time with their god at some point. Chosen ones.

But the organisation that criticised me did it on the basis that I was preventing my wife from attending their meetings. Absolute cobblers. It says more about them than it does about us.

The idea that a wife is under the control of a husband is just so idiotic and way out of order. In fact, if idiots like that live like that, they need some serious psychiatric counciling, in my opinion.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Butcher, Baker...

I hate waste. Bear and I love candles. So I decided long ago that the bits left over from candles should get recycled.

There are hundreds of guides on t'net on making candles, and it gets rather complex. Different candles with different purposes, wax types, hardness, wax harderners, wicks and wick widths, methods using double boilers and thermometers, moulds, moulds versus dipping...

Most of it is outside my purposes. All I want to do it recycle the bits from candles we'd bought and made.

Because they come from many different candles, they are likely to have different hardnesses, and as I prefer not to buy moulds - I have, but it defeats the object - you may as well buy candles !

So I thought, get back to basics.


The basics of a candle are that it has to be a substance that when exposed to heat, becomes liquid, then gaseous, and burns. The wick has to be something that can pull up the melted substance into itself, and as it's exposed to heat, and becomes gaseous, allows that gas to burn. Strictly speaking, that a wick burns is incidental.

In ages past, the wax was tallow. Tallow was part of the fat of an animal caught or bred for food. The wick was often dried reed, wheat or barley stem. The services of a candle maker were once highly sought after. He (it was usually a 'he') would travel from village to village, farm to croft, and for a fee (about 2p or fivepence) make your candles for you. He knew what part of the fat from what animal was tallow, highly specialised knowledge. You normally dried your own reeds.

He'd expect to stay with you, be provided with food, beer and wine, and a place to sleep, for as long as it took to make the candles you wanted from the materials you had.

Anyways, back on track.

So faced with a bag of candle bits, what's the simplest thing to do? Chances are, there are bit's of wick in there. Don't worry about it. you can fish them out later. Keep in mind candle wax is hot please.

I have an old pan I melt old wax in. The results and colour are going to be variable, inconsistent, and burn rates are going to be different. You can change colour and smell by adding food colouring and either a few drops of flavoured oil (ie home made lavender oil) or spray in some perfume at the end.

I've had great success melting wax in a snack-noodle plastic container in a pan of boiling water. Once it melts, remove it from the pan. I've hung wick from a skewer until it sets. Alternatively, either wait until it almost sets, and stick a skewer in it and poke a wick through. Or drill a hole and poke it through.

Yoghurt pots are useful, but beware. They can shrink in the heat of the water. Fill no more than 1/2 to 3/4 full. I've found that cooling them quickly in the fridge makes them easier to remove from the mould, but the candle sinks a little in the middle. Topping up makes getting the wick length difficult, and often leaves a separate candle in the depression., hung on the wick. Not that it makes any difference - it just looks a bit odd.


I've tried ordinary string, but even left to soak in wax, it's too smoky for me. I don't live near a source of reed, and grass is too thin. Basically, the wider the candle, the thicker the wick needs to be - you may have more success. Experimenting is half the fun.

I use different thickness's of wick from a craft shop. It costs about 45 pence per yard.

The important thing is that you don't have to go for much commercially.

Edits and Tips :-

A couple of other things. I've found that the hotter the wax, the clearer and shinier the candle.

If, like me, you use left overs from other candles, choosing a colour may be difficult. However, it's good fun to stir in drops of food colouring and see what comes out. Try a drop at a time. The more you add, the deeper the colour.

Layered candles - pour some wax into your mould, and set it aside to set for hmm, 20 mins?
If you can leave a slight indent with you finger, then pour in a layer of a different colour. Repeat as necessary. If your first reaction is OW! it's too hot.... :)

Decorating a candle. The sky is not quite the limit. For instance, unless you like black sooty marks on your walls and ceiling, don't even think of melting in crayons for instance. I know, I did it.

Try adding a few drops of scented oils or perfume.

It's amazing what you can do with glitter and the white 'paper glue'. Don't be tempted to use contact or epoxy (eg, Bostik or Copydex) they produces toxic fumes.

For instance, wrap some masking tape around a candle, leaving a space between each turn. Paint in between with glue, and sprinkle glitter. Leave overnight to dry, and carefully peel off the tape.

You may be tempted to add glitter to a candle. It looks pleasing. However, it will sparkle when burned, and because glitter is often plastic, it'll smell a bit burned. You won't be happy with sparks landing on your carpet or floor. At the very least, there'll be lots of little black marks on your mantle/floor/window sill/shrine/altar.

Last, but not least, never be tempted to stand a candle on any flammable surface (for instance, on the top of a TV) Always us a stand or saucer on any surface. And I'm sorry if sounds obvious, please remember that candle wax is hot. When pouring from off-heat to a mould, always use a double boiler, pan or container with a pouring lip so the wax goes where you want it to go.

I'll leave that for now. I'll cover 'long' candles, candles for specific purposes, candles for specific religious purposes at a later date. Heck, I might set up a separate blog :)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Flour power.

I was never able to make a loaf quite the way the family liked it. Mainly, despite all my best efforts, it was just a little bit too dense. I liked it, Bear loved to toast it ("as a treat") but getting the kids interested was an uphill battle, so invariably a Tesco' Finest Cheapo Floppy Sliced would rear it's annoying crust in the bread bin.

Woe betide me, after hours of work, I should dare serve up Wholemeal or Rye. I must have been the only bloke locally with five large jars of different bread crumbs. I can't stand waste.

In the end, it was the sheer hard work of one-handed kneading that got to me. But I wasn't ready to give in yet, so I spent about 70 quid on a bread making machine. Don't even have to justify it to She Who Must Be Obeyed. "Don't bother" she said "Your going to do it anyway". Yup.

It's wonderful. Just put the ingredients in - in a certain order. Hit a few buttons, wait anything between 2-5 hours, depending on the loaf, and job done. More, you can experiment.

That put me back to square one with the mob. Soft white wasn't right, and "What's those bit's in it?" But they ate a great deal more.

I've been making bread since my Nan showed me how 40 years ago. So I've an idea behind the science of it. I was always good at experimenting.

I've cracked it! Now, the 13 year old's mates ask for some when they are around!

Just a couple of fore notes. My Bread Maker instruction book asks for 1oz of butter for a basic white loaf. I've substituted oil for that. It seems to keep longer too.

The recipe asks for 1 tsp salt. I originally used sea salt, it certainly tastes better, but the large grain size means it dissolves slower and I don't think it distributes in the dough as well.

Salt is in there not just for taste, but to increase the gluten production. Gluten is very important for texture and holding it all together. Strong white and wholemeal are heavy in gluten.

In my Bread Maker, a Panasonic SD-255, the ingredients go in, in the following order :-

Makes a medium Soft White loaf.

1 teaspoon of fast action dried Yeast

7 oz Strong White Flour

7 oz Plain White Flour

1 level teaspoon Sugar

1 level teaspoon of table salt

1 teaspoon of lemon juice - the yeast likes the environment slightly acidic.

3 tablespoons of oil - I use sunflower, but I'm sure olive, sesame or walnut are delicious.

300 ml water.

And that's it. Amazingly simple.

On my machine, I set to 'Basic', 'medium loaf', 'medium crust' - which is 4 hours. There is a 1 hr 55 min quick loaf setting for the same ingredients, but I don't think it's as good.

Not all bread machines are the same. A friend told me that he's had a battle putting the correct temperature water in his - I just don't have to worry about that. I suspect he was using just plain flour too - but my experience is using some Strong flour is very important.

I've not tried this for an oven loaf, but it works very well for soft white rolls.


Friday, 1 October 2010


Overheard conversation - oldest daughter to a visiting relative.....

About her partner :-

"He's not that pretty, he's ancient - ten years older in his head than his real age. " He's 23. Thanks gal.

"He's 'mardy', grumpy and can be a real pain. But like me' Dad, he cooks with fresh stuff, grows his own herbs and spices, lines up is kitchen stuff In The Right Order on the side, and his meals are heaven"

I think that's a compliment.....

Were did I overhear this? From the kitchen of course :)


Rare Lesser Spotted posted briefly in his Radio Humber appearance (wonder if they still serve Blue Nun in the 'green' room?) that he commented on health and safety in a newspaper review.

Don't get me started. Here's a list of complaints that Stroke survivors and their carers, including yours truly, have grumbled about. Some are imposed by commercial care companies employed by councils.

Families should not buy food or drink in ring-pull cans. Why, because it's difficult to pull with one hand? Oh no. Because the the carers might cut themselves on the sharp tab. Found a drink can without one?

Oh, screw tops. Top must be loosened before the carer arrives. Seems those little sealing tabs might be so hard to pull off, the carers might accidentally jerk back unexpectedly and thump themselves in the eye. That sounds like fun.

Strokee's and their families must agree to supply an electric tin opener. (Quite useful actually)

Delivered meals must be allowed to cool. Last time I had those, they were delivered in a 'hot bag'. To keep them hot. Why? So council carers don't burn themselves. Who wants cold food ?

"You can have a grab rail on the stairs, toilet, between those doors, on the front door. And there and there. But you can't have one on the stair to the garden, because it's stairs outside. You can walk round from the front. Duh! Wheelie!

"being unable to safely eat, clean and visit the toilet yourself, unless agreed with the council that their carer can assist them in these activities" Eh? What?

"Carers are unable to microwave food for clients due to health and safety regulations."

More later. It's all a load of cobblers - non of this is specific to health and safety regulations, it's some office jockeys interpretation, in a risk aware society - ie, don't sue us please.....