I went to the doctors this morning for an appointment with the Lovely nurse C. It’s almost worth being ill for a visit to her as she is that cheerful. Anyway I digress; I went for an MOT basically. The results could have been better but I am not exactly at deaths door. My blood pressure is high, my triglycerides (whatever they are) are very high and my red blood cell count is also high and the plates are enlarged added to that is a disturbing body mass index of 30 plus. So an action plan has been formed. I have to stop smoking, give up drinking, take more exercise and watch my diet. Basically I have to give up most of the things that make life worth living. I think it was Mae West who said everything I enjoy is illegal, immoral or fattening. I now know just what she means!
Work on the house has started and this morning a couple of electricians came along to fit a new main circuit board and hand me a certificate for electrical safety. Something that I understand, pretty soon every house that is going to be sold will require before it can go on the market. Well unlike me my home now has a certificate of electrical good health. Another job that will or should be completed before Christmas arrives is new guttering, fascias and soffits. This job is the hands of The Beast and I expect him to turn up one day with implements of destruction and plastic pipes and other such stuff and rip my house to shreds.
While the electricians were busy beavering away in the cupboard under the stairs I went out to the bank and knowing the kettle would not be useable for a couple of hours at least wandered into a local café not far from my branch. I have been in many cafes and indeed at one point myself and Riker were going to set up a website featuring the best of them in our area. We were both beaten to it by some bloke who is really into it and has made a fantastic site about cafes. He has done an amazing job and after seeing his site I knew that nothing I could build would compare with his. There is a link to this site on my links page but for the benefit of those of you cant wait to get there take a look at this. http://www.breakfastliverpool.blogspot.com/ Again I am digressing but I use this merely to illustrate that I know a thing or two about Cafes. Well this one looked nice and clean from the outside and I sauntered in and ordered a coffee and two rounds of toast. I expected it to be priced at about one pound 50 pence, toast normally costing about 30p a round and coffee about 80p. Imagine my surprise then when the lady behind the counter asked me for three pounds and ten pence. I was so flabbergasted I meekly handed the money over and went and sat down at a table and read the menu.
It was then that I noticed the prices, toast 80p a round and a mug of ground coffee one pound and 50p. I mean yes the place was nice but it was hardly Claridges or the Hilton. The waitress brought my coffee over with a large plate containing two rounds of toast cut from corner to corner and two small pots of jam with a couple of portions of butter and all on a doily with a serviette. Very nice it looked too but it was hardly worth 80p a slice and the toast was thin. The moral of the story is always check the prices before you order or buy something.
On another health note Commander Riker has gone off sick, he has a suspected ulcer and I immediately felt sorry for him when I heard of this so I rushed around to see him. He is genuinely ill and can’t keep anything down. A couple of days later when I had thought about him and his condition I became rather agitated and then angry. How come he has an ulcer at 27? He is a clean living soul who never drinks to excess, has never touched anything other than prescribed drugs, does not smoke and would be the last person in the world that you could say lived a Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle. I had to work hard to get my ulcer by the time I was thirty and that amounted to a lot of lung and liver abuse. Invariably it meant imbibing copious quantities of alcohol and smoking or sniffing “substances” that you could not buy at Boots the chemist. I also lived what could be called a hedonistic and Devil may care lifestyle to get it and yet here was CR with an ulcer and he had not put in any leg work to get or deserve one. Along with me he also has to change his lifestyle and diet radically and I can’t wait to give him the good news that we are going jogging every morning before we set off to work. I imagine his face will light up when I tell him of the diet plan I have worked out for the pair of us. Porridge in the morning with steamed fish and boiled cabbage for dinner and an evening meal of mixed lettuce leaves and salad!
Saturday morning and Beancounter and myself loaded up the car and set off for Treardurr Bay in Wales to scatter Elsie’s ashes into the waters of the bay. This popular holiday resort on Holy Island off Anglesey in North Wales had been a favourite haunt of both my mother and father for over 40 years. Indeed they once bought a caravan there shortly after my father retired and they would spend up to seven months a year in the caravan and I have many happy memories of holidays and weekends that I spent at that location. So it seemed rather fitting that mum should request that her ashes were scattered in the place that she had spent many of the happiest years of her life.
The journey down there was quite uneventful and after two hours we arrived at the motel that was to be our accommodation for one evening. Clean comfortable and relatively inexpensive with a bar next door and just a short walk to the sand it had everything we could have wished for. After a quiet drink in the bar we decided to get changed and have a meal before we set off to the beach. I ran a bath and poured the complimentary bottle of bubble bath in and when it was full tested the temperature. I decided it was far too hot and so I switched on the Jacuzzi machine to obtain more surface area for the water to cool down and then went outside for a cigarette and a cup of Bacardi and coke (there were no glasses in the motel only cups for the complimentary tea, coffee etc). After what seemed only a short time I wandered back into the bathroom and was met by bubbles pouring over the top of the bath and attempting to cover the floor. In blind panic I scooped armfuls of bubbles up and stuffed them into the toilet bowl and then into the sink and watched in horror as they went no where at all and decided to take their time about it into the bargain.
Having eventually bathed and cleaned up the bathroom we went for a meal and then headed in the night and onto the beach. The tide was going out and I waded as far out as I could to the waters edge and let the contents of the urn go. When it was empty I took out my hip flask and swallowed a large draft of neat Bourbon and said good bye to mum again. I immediately rang my brother so he knew what was happening and when and then had a quick drink via mobile phone with him.
At this point and deciding the night was still young BC and me walked up to the caravan site and had a couple of drinks with some of the people who had known mum and who still stayed at the site. Leaving the camp site club house we set off in search of further refreshment only to discover that there wasn’t any. All the pubs had shut at 11pm and it was now the quietest seaside resort I had ever seen. I did not expect a Blackpool like orgy of late night drinking and tacky kiss me quick hats but I really did not expect the resort to go to sleep after 11pm.
North Wales, for years had a history of abstinence on the Sabbath and it was always difficult to obtain a drink in Holyhead on a Sunday unless you were a member of one of the many local clubs that would not take memberships from non permanent residents of the island. However I always remembered Saturday nights to be leaping and full of life until the early hours. Now it was like a ghost town. I expect mum to be quite at ease in somewhere really peaceful with a bog full of bubbles.
For what seems like the first time in Ages me and the Bean counter went to Manchester and stayed overnight. “The occasion?” I hear you ask, A concert by Rush to celebrate 30 years together and what a concert it was. The best light show I have ever seen in an indoor arena. As for the music well it was everything that rock n roll stands for. Self indulgent solo’s, long complicated tracks and deafening noise and a blistering 3 hour set. The tour was to publicise Rush’s new album “Snakes and Arrows”. While the new material is excellent the loudest applause was of course for the old stuff such as “Passage to Bangkok”, “Spirit of Radio”, “Tom Sawyer” etc. To be fair it was not about sex, drugs and rock n roll. If you want that kind of stuff go and see ACDC or The Who.
The only downside to the evening was the venue. Thrombosis inducing seats, no room to stretch or carry out any of the exercises the airlines advise on long haul flights. You can no longer stand at seated arenas for fear of the wrath of the Nazi Elf n Safety marshals threatening you with ejection if you don’t sit down again and then there is the design of the building. The main corridor is a circular affair with the toilets and food stalls and merchandising stands spread out along its length. This means that if there are queues at any of the stands you can’t get past to walk around with any ease. Added to this the marshals will not let anyone leave the building even to obtain fresh air and it was stiflingly hot in there. If you do you will not be allowed back in again. It was my third time at the MEN and it will be my last.
Beforehand we had checked into our hotel, OK for an evening but I would not stay there for more than one night. We went to the local Wetherspoons in Piccadilly plaza for a meal and then on to one or two drinking holes, the later being similar to the Titty Twister from Dusk till Dawn. We left there in a hurry as most of the occupants seemed like extras form the Hills Have Eyes and I felt a little intimidated. (Read scared shitless) Afterwards we took a long stroll back to the plaza, (long because I managed to get the pair of us lost) and had a drink into the early hours of the morning before retiring back to the barracks, sorry I mean hotel.
Manchester has changed an awful lot since I was there last and it now seems so cosmopolitan. There are plenty of places you can drink out of doors on the pavements and just watch the world go by and a large amount of the world did go by. More nationalities than I could name, pretty young things with long legs and killer heels, groups of very friendly guys holding hands (read into that what you will) buskers, tramps, vagrants, tourists with suitcases and an assortment of the young and not so young heading into the night either home if they had one or to somewhere more exotic. Whatever you might say it was more akin to sitting on the Ramblas in Barcelona than the Manchester I remember of years ago. Maybe the “Café culture” will spread throughout the rest of the UK but I doubt it will for many years if at all but Manchester (Madchester as it’s affectionately known as) is worth a brief visit any time in my book at least.
Morning came and we set off to do some shopping before heading home. BC went off in search of some weapons grade stilettos, (just what is the attraction to shoes, handbags and shiny things for women?) and I pottered about window shopping and looking at the baby PS3 and fingering my credit card with intent. In the end I resisted and BC re-appeared with just a small bag of “bits and bobs”. Apart from the Arena and the hotel I will remember with affection my 24 hours in Madchester!
Following on from the idea of setting up an eatery on some foreign shore with Chef, I have been looking at recipes. A common dish in olden times was called a Turducken. This consisted of a de-boned turkey, with a de-boned duck inside of that and a de-boned chicken placed inside of the duck. In between each bird a layer of sausage meat and spiced bread stuffing was placed and then the whole thing was sewn up and left to cook for a minimum of 8 hours and then left to cool for an hour or so before being carved.
Never one to be outdone, my favourite chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall made a similar creation using ten birds, which consisted of a turkey then a goose, large chicken, farmed duck, guinea fowl, mallard, pheasant, partridge, pigeon, and finally a woodcock. The programme was shown on channel four a couple of years ago in 2005. I have never attempted to make either of these two creations as they seem a bit fiddly to me.
However after a few drinks the other evening in the company of LMS and Chef, I decided what we needed to do was something big. I mean SPECTACULARLY BIG. So I have dreamed up what I think will be the ultimate challenge to any cook or pitmaster. I want to take one de-boned Asian water buffalo weighing in at around 1.5 tons and place inside it an American Bison weighing in at around 1.25 tons and then a domestic cow followed by a wildebeest and then a wild boar. My estimates come to around 5 tones of meat or the world’s biggest roasting joint. Naturally finding an oven to cook this in will be almost impossible so it will have to be spit roasted and should take around 6 days. If the sight of that monster being spit roast in front of any restaurant did not draw the crowds in I genuinely do not know what would.
On the subject of big, I stepped on the bathroom scales this morning and almost had a heart attack. I thought the scales had broken but sadly they work just fine. I am now the heaviest I have ever been in my life and an exercise and training programme is now a necessity. Losing weight, getting back to peak fitness and restoring my health are now the order of the day and my number one priority. In fact I am going to have a really good think about it as soon as I have finished this bacon and sausage butty. (Sandwich to my foreign chums) I will let you all know how I get on with regular updates but for now I am thinking BIG
Ok, I have been asked why I don’t have any adverts on my blog site. I don’t need them, I have not sold my soul to the devil for readership or numbers to make me look good or obtain higher Google ratings! There I have said it. I know the more pessimistic of you will say “You don’t have enough numbers to host any adverts or attract sponsorship”, but I do and the web logs confirm this, so there!
As I mentioned in my last post the TV is rubbish with repeat after repeat and loads of adverts (commercials to my American chums) every ten minutes or so. I watched one programme the other evening and the adverts started as the opening credits finished. So with this in mind I have started to listen to the radio in earnest once more. I reckon radio is about to enter a new golden age with good old “Aunty” showing the way. God bless the BBC and radio four and three and even two. But for sheer indulgence for a gentleman of my advancing years you cannot beat Planet Rock. This station plays all the tracks I listened to when I went to school. You will not hear any tracks by Wham or the Osmond’s on Planet Rock and the adverts are minimal. If you do not have a DAB radio then you can catch them on the net by going to http://www.planetrock.co.uk/Default.asp
Music invokes memories and Planet Rock have had a Rush week. I am going to see Rush at the weekend and I have had pleasant memories about the Printer whilst listening to Rush. As far as I know he was their biggest fan. Having made up my mind that I will be selling Chateau Ghastanbury within the next couple of years I have made loose plans to go travelling around the world and I hope to visit the Printer and all my other friends in the land of the kangaroo and the Koala.
The Traveller contacted me some time this week from the Baltic Sea and informed me that he would not be going to Belize this coming autumn but would instead be going to Spain and Croatia. Consequently we have made plans to go and visit Belize in April of 2008. I have no idea what we will find when we visit but already friends and wags have dubbed me the 21st century Tarzan and they have informed of their images of me swinging from trees in the south American jungle and befriending Jaguars and Anacondas whilst talking to the parrots and exotic birds that live there. If only life was that simple.
On another note I have been blessed this evening, Bean Counter came with me to look at some furniture which I bought, Always good to have a woman’s thoughts and comments when furnishing a house. BC had to leave as she had engagements elsewhere but LMS and her friend the Chef arrived with some meat and exotic vegetables and proceeded to cook me tea or evening meal for those who don’t understand the vagaries of working class meal times. The Chef is a real qualified chef and not a mere amateur cook like me. She can do amazing things with vegetables and taught me how to make a Cassoulet? Anyway it was a stew of smoked bacon, tomatoes and lots of beans with herbs and spices and tasted delicious. I have decided if I ever open an eatery on the lines of a barbecue and music joint then I will employ her to do all the fancy stuff, leaving me to cook all the big joints of meat and come up with sauces and bastes to compliment them. I actually think this would a good combination and after a few drinks so did she. LMS shook her head and sighed a lot but watch this space!
Things have seemed strange of late; the house is unusually quite with no doors being opened, no television on and no movement save for my own. In fact my whole life and routine have become rather disjointed. I went into the shops the other week for the weekly shop, which is something I have done on a regular basis for years and then spent an hour wondering what I should buy. Items that I would have popped into my trolley without a second thought were no longer required and I finally came home with a bottle of milk and a litre of Gin.
During this period of adjustment of not having a great deal to do or at least not knowing what to do or in what order to do it in, I have been watching television. The Sky box was always in my mums room and I never used to watch it but out of boredom I have been flicking through channels of late and to my horror I have discovered that there is absolutely nothing worth watching. Hundreds of repeats or programmes that stop every ten minutes or so for adverts have driven me to distraction.
On the plus side, it is not all doom and gloom. Many friends have been in touch either directly or vial email, phone or snail mail. BC has been an absolute blessing and has put up with my mood swings and all else with not a murmur of discontent. Some time ago my kitchen was rebuilt with new units and tiled by my good friend the Tiler. Due to mums illness the kitchen was never finished and the ceiling required replastering. Imagine my surprise then when I came home the other evening to find water all over the kitchen floor and the walls and ceiling black. My first thought was that a pipe had burst. Frantically I ran upstairs to find the said pipe and gave up after 15 heart-stopping minutes. I came back downstairs and noticed plaster dust on the walls. It was only then that it dawned on me. The Beast had been in and plastered my ceiling for me and finished off the kitchen when I was out at work. The water on the floor was left over from where he had mopped up and the walls and ceiling were dark in colour due to new wet plaster.
Its things like that, that make my day and remind me that things will get better in time. I am sure the blog will be added to very soon