Sunday Special

Stood looking at the contents of the fridge and wondering what to cook for Sunday lunch. Something different from my staple diet of bean chilli and veggie curry. Something tasty. Something spicy.

I bought a couple of packets of stuffing mix when I did my weekly shop in Aldi last Monday, so I made one of them according to the instructions on the box.

While the kettle was boiling I chopped two large chillies, a small handful of Brazil nuts, a generous handful of chopped mushrooms and about half a dozen pickled olives. This mixture was stirred into the stuffing along with a handful of grated cheese and the whole was put into an oiled baking dish and placed in the oven. The instructions on the box say the stuffing should be cooked for half an hour if spread on a baking tray or rolled into balls, my mixture is a big lump in the bowl so I’ll give it a bit longer.

After about twenty minutes I removed the bowl from the oven and spread a layer of porridge oats over the stuffing. This was topped with grated cheese and lightly seasoned with chilli powder before the bowl was returned to the oven.

In the meantime, breakfast! As the oven is on anyway it makes sense to bake the hash browns, veggie burger, tomatoes and sausages at the same time as the stuffing is cooking.

Who needs a smart energy meter to save money?

Answer to the question above – The energy companies do, so they don’t have to pay somebody to read your meters.
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Ooooh, that hurts so much.

Do you ever have one of those days?

Seen on a model railway forum, where the discussion was originally about modelling the Festiniog Railway’s gravity trains, on a circular layout.

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What a day. Wednesday is usually my day off but the other driver is on holiday so I was working yesterday. Sandra and Mandy, the two lovely ladies at Middlewich, gave me a wonderful birthday present, and a helium filled balloon with “60” on it which was in the van cab until I picked Harv up on my way back to Sandbach after the Congleton and Crewe run. When I was leaving work the boss presented me with a couple of bottles of beer. An excellent gesture on his behalf considering what he’s been put through this week (he became a grandfather for the first time on Tuesday).

After work I had a couple of pints in the Military Arms before catching the bus home then after tea I took Harvey for a walk – OK, to the Midland.

There’s a good reason for walking all the way to Elworth for a pint. In fact there are a few good reasons, not least being the fact that is probably the friendliest pub you could ever want to drink in. I’m driving in the morning so I had to keep a strict cap on my alcohol intake but it was a really enjoyable evening drinking good beer in good company.

As we left the pub there was a southbound freight thundering through the station at some not inconsiderable speed, a proper train, no passengers, and when we got to the old railway line on the way home there was a fox ahead of us. Luckily I still had Harvey on the lead so he didn’t go for it. The fox stopped to watch us as we watched it, then trotted off when it realised that we posed no threat. The “icing on the cake” for a perfect birthday.

My thanks are due for all the kind greetings on Facebook and by email, also to the regulars and staff in the pub too!

And for those of you that call me a grumpy old git – Yep, yer right now, I am officially old.

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How does he do it?

I crushed two worming tablets into a bowl with a bit of broken biscuit to disguise the texture then added a drop of water, to soften the mixture, and stirred it into half a tin of Doggiedins.

Harvey was there as soon as I put the bowl down, he sniffed at it suspiciously and started nibbling. After a while he walked away so I added the rest of the Doggiedins and put the bowl down again.

This time he ate it all… Apart from a residue in the bottom of the bowl that looks like the crushed worming tablets.

More broken biscuit added, this time with a handful of his chocolate drops and a dash of water to soak the residue into the biscuits.

He’s studiously ignoring the bowl now.

That’s just the easy bit, after I’ve had my breakfast I’m going to have to get him to stay still long enough for his flea drops to be applied… And I’ve only got two hands.

Dogs. It’s a good job we love them!

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Lovely photo

The kids had a short break in Wales with my Mum recently.

No prizes for spotting the location.

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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…


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

14:35 Chester to Crewe…


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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