In the interest of science

It should have been a normal day, I arrived home from work just like any other, fed the cat and chilled out. At around 6pm Roger Moor knocked and we sat talking and drinking tea until he said do you fancy a cider? I think I said yes before he finished his sentence and so he trotted off and duly arrived back with 2 cans of Blackthorn dry cider. I opened one can and poured it into two glasses and then I said do you fancy a Bulmers? So we opened that one and poured it into two glasses. The difference between the two drinks was amazing. The Bulmer’s was fantastic and by comparison the Dry Blackthorn was disgusting. It was then we decided to do some taste testing.

We set off to the local Tescos and arrived back at Château Ghastanbury with 10 different types of cider and decided to record our comments about each one. So we sat down watching Nigella Lawson give us tips on cooking and drooled while faced with 12 different types of cider.

Here is our written commentary on those we tested.

1)    Bulmer’s original, 4.5%. Smelt wonderful, sweet taste very appley would buy again.

2)    Dry Blackthorn 5.5%. Smelt like gas mains, very sour chemically taste would not buy again.

3)    Frome valley 6% No chemical smell, flat, no alcoholic aftertaste. Refreshing on the palate, appley aftertaste. Very smooth but flat and expensive. Would not buy again

4)    Savanna 5.5% South African cider with a very fizzy head and a good nose. Not unpleasant but no cider taste and very sugary. Would not buy again.

It has to be noted that at this point our descriptions were becoming more flowery and we slipped effortlessly into Jilly Goulden mode.

5)    Aspinalls 7% English apples but from a French family based inSuffolk. Smelt of pears with almost a pear taste (perhaps it was Perry and labelled incorrectly?) Very smooth with a fizz that disappeared rapidly. Barrel matured which you could taste and almost no CO2. We reckoned it was best served at room temperature because it almost tasted like a wine. We would possibly buy this one again.

6)    Tesco’s finest oak conditioned.6.6% Light appley smell, sharp and very dry. Definitely oak conditioned. ( we had to spit the splinters out) This was more of a dining cider and best drank with food

7)    Henry Westons special vintage reserve 8.5% Nose was very appley with over tones of wood, flat but smooth and strong. Distinct appley aftertaste. We would both buy this again.

NB by now we had really got into the swing of things and were starting to take this really seriously with as much verve and endeavour as the scientists at the particle collider in Cern

8) Oakley’s original 4.5% Nose was very appley with a hint of chemicals. Nice colour and a very nice taste that was sweet with no unpleasant aftertaste. Not too gassy and 2nd so far to the Bulmer’s. We would definitely buy this one again

9) Gaymers 4.5% A very appley nose, which was sweet to taste and not too gassy. Tasted of apples and it was nectar in a glass. Almost as good as Bulmer’s. Would definitely buy again

10) Thatcher’s vintage 7.4% Nose was very appley. Medium dry and very smooth with no horrible aftertaste. Not too gassy and neither sweet nor bitter. We would buy this again.

NB After can no 10 each we were becoming completely shitfaced and having a wonderful time.

11) Thatchers katy 7.4%. Wonderful and we are too pissed to pass any criticism save for my comment of I could live on this stuff and RM’s comment of sex in a glass without having to stimulate a clit for 30 minutes. Would definitely buy this again.

12) Merrydown vintage 7.5% Nose very appley with a chemical taste. RM said it had smelt like Blackthorns but tasted closer to the Bulmer’s. We would both buy this again but only under duress. In fact this one divided the two of us so much we each had another can to confirm our original judgement on it however we still failed to agree.

With our entire stock depleted, I realised I had lost the pen and could not be bothered scrabbling about on the floor to find it again. RM staggered home and I crawled to bed. In hindsight we have come to realise that the strength of cider has no bearing upon its’ taste and while for most people this was just an excuse for a piss up to us it was all in the interest of science.


Tedstock 08, Respect to TM he is the man

After much planning, Tedstock finally arrived. It had been put off several times due to bad weather or the inability of people to attend. A brand new grill had been assembled and much attention to the menu had taken place. Ted had bought a selection of large beef cuts and lots of ribs and there was a whole leg of lamb and a rolled shoulder of pork. Combined with the chicken and the kebabs that were made up as the day proceeded it was a veritable feast.

One of the best things about this year’s event was the fact there were very few burgers and sausages, the standard British Barbie affair. This year was all about large cuts of meat and obviously influenced by Ted’s travels throughout South America. The large cuts of beef were rubbed with rock salt and nothing else. The rolled pork was marinated in cider vinegar over night with some herbs and the lamb was covered in mustard and mint leaves and some spices. The Ribs were covered in a sticky sweet Kansassauce.

A lot of planning and months of preparation go into Tedstock and this year the guy worked his socks off. Respect and admiration goes to the man for all the hard work he put into the event to say nothing about the cost of it all. With both Ted and myself on the grill and with a beer in hand I was in my element and all too soon it was dark and time to light the bonfire that accompanies this annual event.

The bonfire this year was not on the scale of the previous years but it was big enough. Big enough in fact to scorch the overhanging branches underneath the fire. Obviously something had to be done before the need to call out the fire brigade arose. There really was only one thing to be done and a bow saw appeared as if by magic and some of the younger and fitter blades sat around the camp fire took it in turns to saw through the dangerous branches and put them somewhere safe.

It soon transpired that the safest place to put them was actually on the fire and now there was nothing above to scorch, it was really the safest option. As far as I am concerned this was one of the best Tedstock’s I have attended and the event was over all too soon. With no camp site this year due to the bad weather I climbed into a taxi with Beancounter some time in the early hours and made my way home. I am convinced that TM and me could do this for a living but not in the UK. We do not have the weather or the mentality for it however it may be possible somewhere with sunnier climes. Until then, respect to TM he is the man.


Cured my arachnophobia

I have often criticised the big city over the water for its’ shortcomings and the bad press it often receives, mainly but not always of its’ own making. However after being given the accolade of European city of culture, it has pulled out all the stops in an effort to show the world it is a modern and vibrant city. None more so than the latest stunt which was for me at least, truly memorable. A giant spider arrived unannounced in the city centre some time last week and hung from the side of one of the buildings by Lime Street Station.

Bean Counter, the Traveller and myself went along to see it on Saturday gone. I have to say it was a masterpiece of engineering and spectacle. Despite having to wait for hours and being crushed by the hordes it was well and truly worth going to see. In fact it was so good we went again on Sunday to bid it farewell. The Traveller dropped us off at the Birkenhead Tunnel entrance on theLiverpoolside on his way home from yet another drunken weekend that has become the hallmark of many of his visits.

We arrived at the spot we had chosen at around 5-30PM and we waited. We were still waiting at 6-30pm and we waited some more until 7-30pm and then we waited again. By this time the crowd were getting restless as spots to view the creature were becoming all too scarce and some of the kids were restless. Shouts of “Mum, when’s it coming, and I want to go the toilet” rang around the little haven BC and myself had chosen. At 8-30 ish the band that preceded the spider appeared in the distance and we knew it would not be long before it took its’ final bow.

When it finally appeared after a long tour through the city streets that must have been every coppers nightmare, a huge cheer went up from amongst the 250,000 plus people that had gathered there. There were fireworks, pyrotechnics, Water displays a snowstorm and plus the orchestra that had assembled to provide the almost eerie music that accompanied its’ tour of the city. BC and myself left at10pm which had meant we had been standing in the same spot for some 5 hours and my legs were aching, but I felt that it had all been worth it.

Words cannot do the creature justice. I can only hope that the photographs in the Gallery will make up for my lack of writing skills. The city could have put on a concert or spectacular laser show but that has all been done before. I have never seen anything like this and it made the whole event of European Capital of Culture stand out from anything I have ever seen before. It is not often I praise the big city but I applaud this event and I will never forget the spectacle. It has certainly cured my Arachnophobia.


Wet socks and good friends

Friday 05th September and the heavens opened. I have never seen as much rain in one day. I arrived home from work to be greeted by the Traveller as he had come to stay for the weekend and he had brought the bad weather with him! Within an hour I received a text from Roger Moor who told me to look outside my back door. TT and me gingerly opened the back door to see a lake where I used to have a garden. There was stuff floating on it as the drains had merely given up under the surge of water and there was nowhere for the stuff to go.

As RM arrived across the small river that was once my driveway; all three of us stared out at the darkening skies and the rising water and unanimously decided we needed inspiration and divine intervention. I donned wellies and waded out to the beer shed for the inspiration and we waited for the divine intervention. The divine intervention was taking its’ time arriving and so after much inspiration RM and me decided to try and brush as much water into the road as we could. I took to ramming sticks into the drains to see if I could reduce any blockages which did no good at all.

After a full case of inspiration, divine intervention duly arrived and not a moment too soon. The water was almost to the top of the outside shed floor when one of the drains gurgled, belched and then decided to start taking water. RM and me shoved water towards the drain as fast as we could while TT opened beers for us at an alarming rate. By the time the water was at a safe level the three of us were pissed, well I was at least and the other two were not far behind.

Beancounter arrived almost as soon as the driveway was cleared and while she did not need water wings to get into the house, events had started to go downhill fast. Two cases of inspiration rapidly disappeared and the spirits came out to keep our spirits up. The radiator was full of wet socks the floor was covered in mud and the chip pan was heating up nicely. It wasn’t exactly the Dunkirk spirit but it showed you can have an eventful evening with wet socks and good friends


Sorry for the delay

At long last my hard drive has been replaced and although I have still to replace much of the stuff that has been lost, I can now attempt to catch up on some of the postings I should have made weeks ago. With this in mind here are the photos of Teechs leaving do in August. Sorry for the delay.

Cheers Johan

One of the last Barbie’s of the season was Johan The Destroyers’ leaving do. The young man had slaved away with cement and brickwork for much of the summer and had constructed a masterpiece of design and engineering. So it seemed only fitting that we should hold a Barbie in his honour before he set off for Territorial Army duty in foreign lands.

The weather dictated that this should be an impromptu event and as such there were no particular culinary masterpieces save for some extremely hot meat loaf which his friends assured me that they could handle without being hospitalised. Lots of chilli sauce, peppers and some raw chilli from my very own greenhouse were added to the mix and I stood back and admired the way in which straight faces were kept as one by one macho young blades stepped up to grab a plateful.

An eventful evening ended with much beer drinking lots of smoke. Photos of the evening can be found here. Cheers Johan.


A case of Au Revoir and not farewell.

As usual things have been hectic over the last few weeks. The Driver came to stay with me for a weekend, I had not realised it had been last January since we had met up last. However we tried to make up for lost time and managed to get through enough beer and gossip to make up for it.. We have promised to try and keep in touch more often and it is to be hoped that we will meet up before Xmas.

Teech has gone to Dubai but not before we sprang a “surprise” leaving do for him at Château Ghastanbury.  All the usual suspects were there including Commander Riker, Miss Décolletage, The Revellers, Ted Magnum, Big Bad Brad, and of course Beancounter. As is customary, we wished him well as the evening descended into drunken mayhem and spilled out of the house and into the grounds were a bonfire was duly lit. Many photos have been taken but due to the failure of my home computer I am unable to upload them at this moment.

A few days later and BC and me are having a farewell meal with her youngest, Johan the Destroyer, his girlfriend and his brother in a well-known Liverpool restaurant. A trip to the Tequila bars and Vodka shot bars completed an evening of mirth and merriment and we arrived back at BC’s house in the early hours. JTD left for army duty en route to Cyprus a few days ago.

That brings us to Saturday gone, and Tedstock. A separate post including photos will be made in the Barbie section along with some of the recipes we used for the day. Tedstock marks the end of the summer and barby season as far as I am concerned and the next big event will be Halloween. Until then the nights are getting longer as summer peters out and autumn slowly makes its entrance. Some of the flowers in the garden are well past it and the record-breaking rainfall we have had this year has meant that some of the crops I planted have met with dismal failure. My tomatoes are still green due to a lack of sunlight and the slugs have eaten almost all of the courgettes and cucumbers.

Like Teech and JTD summer is leaving, I hope it’s a case of Au Revoir and not farewell.