Trailblazing across the pampas

(Readers of my other blog will recognise the reference to South American grasslands.)

Harvey will usually bark at anybody who dares to walk past the house or park on the road, yet he’s currently stretched out on the settee happily watching contractors removing the paving stones from the footpath.

So that’s the solution, don’t walk on the pavement, dig it up instead.

Meanwhile, in the garage, I’ve temporarily removed the railway bridge across the garden door. I don’t normally take this bridge down, preferring to duck under it instead, but today it needed to be out of the way.

Bridge out at Cumbre!

One hour later… The workers very kindly dropped eight flags on the front lawn for me. They’re a lot heavier than I was expecting but I’ve managed to barrow them through the garage to the back garden where they now form a V shaped path following the washing lines. Hence the bridge at Cumbre being down.

It’s a start! The next job will be to start cutting the grass… Mañana.

In the hour it took me to cart the eight flags from the front garden to the back and position them as required under the washing lines the workmen dug up about fifty yards of pavement, put it on their lorry and took it away, but there were three of them, and they were using a mechanical digger!

I look forward to having a smooth tarmac footpath on the road past the house, it’ll be a lot better than treading on a loose flag and getting muddy water squirted up a trouser leg and I’ve made a start on reclaiming the back garden.

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Chilli nuts? No, nut chilli

Chilli nuts are a very nice bar snack, available in most good pubs. Nut chilli, on the other hand, is something else completely!

I’ve had half a bag of mixed nuts in the cupboard for a while. It only contained the ones I don’t really like very much, the Brazils and walnuts had all been eaten. So, what to do with it? I took it out to the garage and whacked it several times with a lump hammer to crush the nuts into a suitable flour for cooking with.

I then stir fried celery, spring onion and fresh chillies before adding the powdered nuts along with a tin each of baked beans, butter beans and kidney beans. It was still a bit tame so it had a gloop each of Encona extra hot West Indian and Peruvian Amarillo sauces followed by a squirt of lemon juice and a squirt of lime juice.

Still tame…

… so I added a couple of drops of God Slayer.

That’s done the job, it is now bubbling away on the hob. It would probably bubble and steam just the same without the gas under the pan because it’s a hot one, even by my standards.

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You were called…

I am absolutely fed up with the kebab waffling, spliff smoking, camel shagging towel heads who keep ringing up claiming to be from Talk-Talk and telling me I have a problem with my broadband. I’ve tried being rude to them. I’ve tried being offensive to them. Believe me, when I want to be rude and offensive I’m fucking good at it. But still they keep calling.

Anyway, these calls are invariably from withheld numbers so I’ve just had a word with my telecoms provider (who is not Talk Talk) and arranged to have all anonymous calls blocked. Apologies if this also blocks calls from people I know (and might actually want to talk to) who, for whatever reason, also choose to withhold their numbers.

Ring my mobile if you cannot get through on the landline or, better still, meet me in the pub and buy me a pint.

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Saturday night in town

It has been quite a long time since I ventured into Sandbach town centre on a Saturday night. The place has a reputation for trouble from (mainly) younger drinkers but I stayed well clear of the noisy pubs they tend to frequent. My destination was the Lower Chequer and I was very pleasantly surprised to see a familiar, and very pretty, face behind the bar. OK, behind the bar most of the time, she kept nipping out to watch the Eurowarbling on telly whenever she could.

Anyway, Joules’s Blonde (the beer, not the barmaid) was on excellent form and went down very nicely. I lost track of time in friendly conversation with other customers in the pub while Harvey did his usual poor neglected hound impression to mooch for food.

The towels went up at eleven o’clock… Yes, I was surprised too… But I managed another pint while the staff were cleaning up and was dispatched homewards in a suitably happy condition, not least from having got a peck on the cheek from the barmaid.

It seemed quite odd walking home through town while most of the pubs were still open, but I’d had a most enjoyable evening and didn’t see the point in aiming for any of the other dog friendly pubs that were serving until later.

“Elegant sufficiency” as the landlord in the Globe used to say when I was a lot younger.

Picture postcard pub, and with a welcome every bit as good as you could ever ask for.

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Waiting for a train

11:35 ex Blaenau Ffestiniog then 12:53 Llandudno Junction to Chester.

Both fine.

13:55 Chester to Crewe…

NO.

Full and standing, told to wait for the 14:35.

14:35 Chester to Crewe…

NO.

Also full and standing, so I asked “customer services” what they were doing about it… Told to wait for the 14:55.

Customer care here seems to mean that the customer cares and the staff don’t.

The railway is run with minimum resources for maximum profit. It doesn’t need much forethought to add extra coaches when high seasonal traffic demands can logically be expected, such as on a bank holiday Monday.

Vermin Trains and Trenau Arriva Crappy, both failed.

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Waiting for a bus

Yesterday morning I took Harvey to the vet’s to get his toenails cut. We missed the 10 o’clock bus and had to wait for the half past, which was running late. This made us late for the appointment but the vet was OK with it.

After the traumatising event that toenail cutting is for Harvey we wandered into town to look for a bus home, we’d just missed the 38 so, having a day rover ticket, I decided to get the 37A to Middlewich instead. I’ve lived in Sandbach getting on for 22 years now but, apart from a dominoes game many years ago at the Newton Brewery, I’ve never been to Middlewich for a drink. I drive through the town every working day, usually two or three times a day, but that’s work. Yesterday was the first time I’d had a pub crawl there.

I’m not all that impressed really. OK, admittedly it was a mid-week lunch time but there was not a lot to right home about. The first port of call was the White Bear where I had an excellent pint of Savanna from the Big Hand brewery. From there I walked up Wheelock Street, aiming for the Golden Lion on Chester Road… We got there just after 12 and it was shut. From there the next destination was the Big Lock, we passed the Newton Brewery on the way but it too was closed. At the Big Lock I had a quite drinkable pint of Robbies’ Dizzy Blonde before heading back into town along the canal towpath. Leaving the towpath on the other side of Town Bridge brought us to the Navigation (closed) and the White Horse (you guessed, closed). About turn and back towards the town centre and the Kings Arms, which was open!

My joy was short lived, all keg.

We were back at the bus stop where we started so I had another pint of the Savanna in the White Bear and went to wait for the bus back to Sandbach.

I must have just missed one, there are two an hour and I waited over half an hour at the bus stop. Anyway one turned up eventually, it was a 37A which terminates in Sandbach so we had ample time for another beer before catching the next 37 back to Wheelock. It failed to turn up. The next bus home was the 38 from Macc half an hour later, usually a double decker but not this one, a single, to say it was crowded upon departure with the 37’s passengers in addition to its own was an understatement!

I do like travelling by bus because it gives the chance to look around and see things that I miss when driving, but it does try one’s patience at times.

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An old idea revisited

I have no idea how to download a video from YouTube, amend the sound track, then repost it… So…

Click on the embedded video below and use the slider switch to kill the sound.

Then click on this link (opens a new tab) and make sure the sound is on before returning to this page to watch the film while listening to the soundtrack from the link.

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A big gap

I called in at the Wheatsheaf, a “quintessential British gastropub” (according to its claim), on my way home from work. More out of curiosity than anything else, just to see how pretentious it is.

I was met at the door by a maître d‘ who enquired what I wanted, to rhyme with what’s a scruffy oik like you doing in my restaurant. I’m used to pubs with bouncers, dressed as bouncers and obviously not employed for their charm, and already I was thinking that this place is not for me. “Beer” said I and walked past to get to the bar.

The barmaid asked what I would like, to which I replied something pale and hoppy. She suggested a pump labelled “Sandbach” with the pub’s stylised wheatsheaf logo. I asked who made it and she told me that Cheshire Brewhouse make it specially for them, yeah right. An inoffensive enough beer, at 3.7% ABV and judging by the taste I’d be willing to wager that it was just rebranded Cheshire Gap. Now, taking into account town centre prices, Cheshire Gap should retail at around the £2.80 to £3.00 mark.

There was a big gap between that mark and the price charged in the Wheatsheaf. £3.75 for a bog standard session beer is way over the odds.

I didn’t bother asking if they let dogs in because I won’t be going back.

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Impromptu pub crawl

Internet dating is fine in theory but when you’re sat on a cold bus station waiting for your phone to ring the theory begins to wear thin. Anyway, after a while I gave up and decided that I wasn’t going to let the trip go completely to waste. I’ve not been for a beer in Beartown for a good few years. The last time was with an old friend, now sadly departed, so I had a stroll around town for old time’s sake.

The White Lion had “12th Man”, from The Manning Brewers, yet another local brewery, it must be something in the water! Quite drinkable but I moved on after one. The next port of call was the Bull. Hogarth’s “Harlot’s Progress” was a very hoppy pale with a grassy sort of flavour, a bit sharp for my liking so I went next door to the Counting House.

As normal for ‘Spoons the initial impression upon entering was the smell of stale chips and the noise of shrieking children… However, this did the pub an injustice, don’t always go with first impressions. I bought a pint of Butcombe’s “Union” – WOW! My journey had not been a waste at all. This pint alone justified the bus fare. A lovely smooth hoppy pale ale with a soft peachy sort of taste, a truly amazing flavour.

I reckoned that the Butcombe was not going to be bettered so I returned to the bus station and waited to catch the number 38 home.

Not much of a pub crawl, just three pints in three pubs, because I really don’t like drinking alone any more. When I was younger I would quite happily have tried every pub in the town centre but I just don’t see the fun in that nowadays.

Drinking should be a social, not solitary, activity. With friends, maybe over food, or a game of dominoes, or chess. Sometimes sat at the end of the bar doing a crossword while listening to, and occasionally joining in with, the surrounding conversation or flirting with the barmaid. Sometimes in the heat of the excitement when United are winning on telly. Sometimes not so excited when they’re losing.

Maybe even with a blind date, if you’re lucky, but never alone.

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Double nines knockout

What a nail biter!

9s

The Midland played against the Commercial in the final of the nines knockout last night. At the end of the singles it was three games each. The Comm won the first doubles, I was sat near the second doubles table and could see that we were about a street behind… So I assumed we were going to get beaten… In which case Lee and I would not need to play because a 5-3 defeat couldn’t be reversed by the last game.

Not so!

Mark and Mitch pulled back and wanted two holes to the Comm’s three…

They won, making it four games each, the last game was going to have to be played after all and the pressure was on!

We were in the lead most of the way but got overtaken half way down the second street.

Now the pressure was really on and a crowd gathered around the table to watch.

We drew the points back and wanted two for out.

Our drop.

My mouth was dry so I turned to reach my pint off the windowsill and it was…

Gone.

Somebody had supped it!

NEVER TAKE YOUR EYE OFF YOUR BEER.

 

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