Wanna be startin’ somethin’..


Excuse the poor reference to a dead mans song. I just had a need to make an attention grabbing headline. But if that worked and you’re here, well, thanks.

I’ve gone on, droned on to be precise, of late about a brief and relatively small bout of ill health which, in the grand scheme of things, is trifling but has brought in its wake a few mind stimulating ripples.

The prime one is the abdominal state of our N.H.S. Nursing profession. Not the nurses themselves but the lack of support and training they seem to get. I won’t discuss anyone person or incident because it is not a personal attack, far from it, it is more of a plea on their behalf, but when the young female nurse asked me what I would like to eat after my operation was cancelled and I was taken off of Nil By Mouth status, I pointed out that I was only allowed dairy free, non-fat food. She offered me a tuna sandwich or what she appeared to pronounce as a ‘cheeken’ sandwich. I said tuna would be nice but without any butter or spread of any kind. Just bread. I would like chicken if possible, I added but again, no dairy.  She reliably suggested she would see what she could do and would I like a salad too?

Within a few minutes the poor girl reappeared with a tray bearing a clingfilm covered salad and a choice of, and I do not lie here, a tuna mayo roll or, if I didn’t like it, she could offer a sandwich. Not a chicken or cheeken sandwich because there wasn’t any available but a cheese and tomato sandwich.

Needless to say, tiredness from two sleepless nights (it was a hospital observation ward. Screaming, confused people with broken limbs come as a default.), I gave her what I am ashamed to say was short shrift and a quick rude lesson is basic English. Another sister came over later and asked what had happened so obviously I had embarrassed both her and myself and it had been noticed. She didn’t apologise, she didn’t need to but I did, and found me some powdered soup, so containing no milk and possibly no actual real food, and a banana for which I was eternally grateful.

Other tales from a broken health service include such gems as having my I.V. replaced by torchlight, night staff with a continuing sniff and an exotic sounding drinks vendor who served coffee in a quarter pint plastic beaker made using a tablespoon not a teaspoon to add the coffee. But all those are just the observations from a miserable git after three days on free fluids only.

The real issue is during the quieter moments, the English native staff spent their spare moments teaching the immigrant hopefuls so they could qualify and earn a better if not living wage.

The once proud and shiny N.H.S. which was the envy of most of the civilized and all the uncivilized world is now a very ill patient itself, almost terminal.

We have a choice now.

Give it all the medicines available to cure it, regardless of cost or put it out of its misery and bring on the American system of private health or charity.

Currently critical services across the country are raising their own funds through charity events just to stay open and running. This is a service we pay for, run by a government we pay for on our behalf. Never should any of these be begging for coffers from the charity purse.

As I stated earlier, that was a prime one, numero uno ripple but not the only one. If anything though, the rest are quite positive and upbeat by comparison.

Sometime ago when I was getting serious about beers and food, I started to build a blog about combining your best choice of ale with your favourite bread and filling recipe. It was to be a fun exercise with contributions from readers and pictures of said meals and bar snacks. A little bit of background history combined with recipes and experiments would fill the gaps, so to speak. I didn’t go through with it though, stopping before going live and just holding onto it for future possibilities.

Since a friend was diagnosed as diabetic and I fell foul of my own inner organs, I’ve been looking with vested interest at alternative recipes. Mainly in my own case out of a need admittedly but as an insight into the world of non diary foods, it’s been a very educational journey. Scrub that. I hate when people, celebrity wannabes in particular, describe any period of transition as a journey.

It’s been an education.

So, I may well resurrect the beer and sandwich blog as a recipe source for those with dietary intolerances and specific medical requirements.

Because, any chance of using another pop song title can’t be missed can it?

If You Tolerate This..



Every Cloud…

The last twelve months has had it’s high points and lows but the curious area has somehow orbited around food and the consumption of it. I started to notice an increase in the bloated, sometimes painful feeling I had after eating white bread or white bread type foods. Due to the popular idea that honey can help reduce hay fever symptoms, I had already started using it in a lot of my meals but since converting to wholemeal bread, I discovered the delight that is honey on wholemeal toast. It is, to my mind, the closest thing to cartoon honeycomb it is possible to imagine. The open texture of the bread, crisp and light, when drenched with honey warmed by the heat from the bread, becomes filled with the sweet, almost malty earthiness of the natural and aromatic honey, making the whole thing melt in the mouth irresistibly. We regularly have, until recently, opted for home made pizza at least once a month rather than any of the various expensive and frankly bland and limited home delivery or supermarket bought varieties. This makes it easy to have a wholemeal base, something I cannot recommend heartedly enough. I thought this was helping my stomach issues but I seem to have missed the obvious culprit. Before I went over to the darker bread side, I had already dramatically reduced my milk consumption after my Mother suffered some health issues which led to my cholesterol levels being checked. I was near the upper level but o.k. so I chose to act then. I had experimented with cereals without milk, substituting with fruit juices. As a result, I can happily say that muesli with apple juice is a revelation. Try it. But ultimately I turned to toast instead. I had been trying out alternatives for butter in sandwiches, as it seemed counterproductive to layer spreads or sauces on top of it and had even started a blog here to promote the wonderful new combinations I had discovered. All these things failed to alert me tot the fact that perhaps dairy was the key.

That was brought to my attention in an alarming way.

I have probably spoken at length, too much for most of my friends I am sure, about my experience with gallstones but needless to say, something triggered the attack which brought them out of hiding. It was most likely cheese according to my specialist.

Cheese. The very centre of many wonderful, memorable and innovative sandwiches, pies and even tarts. My erstwhile culinary companion, now my evil nemesis. My bile trigger, soliciting a waterfall of fat attacking fluids which flushed my tiny spiky stones out of their safe zone and into my pain thresh hold.

So, since the fateful day I have removed any trace of dairy from my diet. Also, any suspicious fats, red meat or oily meat based chartucery. This itself has opened new doors for my taste buds, as well as a headache for my wife, chef and head researcher. 

Dry ingredients in a sandwich have an annoying habit of evacuating at the first chance so something has to go betwixt bread and filling to adhere one to the other. Butter, margarine or mayonnaise is out, so what comes up to the job?

Despite the name, peanut butter contains no dairy so that works, but it doesn’t compliment salad or some white meats. Chicken is surprisingly good with it though, think satay and you’ll understand. Tomato paste, with or without red peppers or chilli is delicious and pesto has it’s place too.

Go on. try it yourself. Pickle or piccalilli is great with chicken or turkey and salads but the link with fruit can’t be ignored. Who hasn’t had cranberry sauce with turkey? Put it in a sandwich and you’ve upgraded to sandwich making maestro.

Go on, experiment. Leave dairy to the cows and seek out new horizons.

Then let me know what you find here! 

As an aside, the silver lining to this story is this. I now weigh just under 100 kilograms. That’s about 15 1/2 stone in old money. That’s also the lightest I have been since I was married almost 30 years ago. Fresh fruit salads and no dairy. Raw/steamed vegetables every day and, due to a job change, a 2 mile walk to and from work each day have all helped but the result remains. I have added not one but two new holes in all my belts and my suits look more Saville Row and less stuffed sofa .

It’s not a recommended way of changing your eating , being rushed into accident and emergency then waiting for a laparoscopic gall bladder removal, but the diet works.

The Start Of A New Era


I have slightly documented my departure from my previous job. My position was made difficult to retain but I accepted it was time to change and move on.

This picture heralds the new direction, the way forward for me.

From next week (exact date to be confirmed) I will be working for one of the big players. It is a concession within a major department store but the concession is also a major market leader so, in both ways, I’m in the top leagues now. I’ve worked for the independents, the small family owned and the in between cowboys so this was a puzzle piece I’d missed.

I met the rest of my team this week and I can sense most if not all of us will gel very nicely.

So, here’s to a new start, bigger horizons and fun again!

See you on the third floor!

24 Hours of Too Much Pain

I’ve recently started a new job. I left the previous one under a slight cloud because I just couldn’t stand the drudgery of it. Anyway, that’s beside the point. I am in new employment.


But why the headline above?

Well, After less than one week in this new position, disaster struck in the form of a night of agonizing abdominal pain. I’ve suffered similar pain before but being prone to ignoring illnesses, I waited for it to pass and told no one.

I hate being ill, or to be more precise, I hate the idea of being that person who is always ill with something seemingly trivial. I don’t like being nursed or receiving sympathy for something that isn’t visual and clearly an injury. I understand when people talk about ‘Invisible Illnesses’ such as M.E. but I don’t tolerate it in myself.

To return to the story, the pain gradually increased throughout the night until I had to decide whether I could tolerate it enough to go to work. Finally, the fact that I couldn’t move without agony let alone stand made the decision for me. I called work, let them know that I was really sorry but I couldn’t make it in and called the emergency services. I tried to call my local doctors surgery but, it being a weekend, they were closed and directed me via a recorded message to the non emergency number, 111.

Trying that, from my prone position, I soon felt panic rising. The operator ran through the obligatory questionnaire and then told me that due to my restricted movement caused by the pain, they would despatch an ambulance immediately!

Admittedly, the paramedic arrived within five minutes. It turned out he had been ready to go and stationed at the Ambulance Station just to streets from me anyway. Andy, the great and very calm paramedic, took all the samples he could, checked everything that needed checking and prodded apologetically around my tummy before radioing for an ambulance crew to take me away. Again, the fear was crawling up inside me.


I’ve never needed to go to hospital before and certainly not by ambulance. Ambulances mean urgent threat of death surely? I mean that’s why they have the lights and sirens. Admittedly I was gripping the bed sheets so hard my fingers were threatening to tear through and my face was a permanent picture of tortured hell but I didn’t need to be rushed screaming to the nearest operating table?

Apparently, I did need transporting to Accident and Emergency but I wasn’t about to die. Not yet at least.

The crew took me gently down to the vehicle, after selecting some clothes for me and we trundled off, silently and within the speed limit. Five minutes later I was being wheeled feet first to a bay in what appeared to be the ‘let’s find out what is immediately the problem’ ward. We were like the cars in bays in an M.O.T. garage. Each one was being examined to discover where to send them for repairs. I was greeted by a nurse who asked me the same questions Andy and the Ambulance Crew had asked, then I met a Junior Doctor who also asked the same and I was prepped and prodded and stabbed with needles until I was being drip fed morphine and then saline while people, including a surgeon,  came and left in rapid succession.

The surgeon, a young bearded amiable fella, decided I needed further investigation. The junior Doctor had already decided that, as my blood tests and sugar tests had been given the all clear, he needed to check if my description of darker than normal bowel movements indicated blood in my stool. So he had to make sure by physical examination.


That examination.

The rubber gloves, cold gel and ‘relax and I’ll be as gentle and quick as possible’ examination.

Thankfully, he was quick and the results were perfectly normal. My sudden reminder of a Family Guy episode was dismissed and my heart rate returned to a more acceptable norm. The further investigations the surgeon recommended were thankfully less intrusive, being X-rays followed by an ultrascan. It was the latter which discovered the offending article, or articles as it turned out.

I have Gall stones.

These little bundles of spiky hell have also caused an issue with my gall bladder, described as cholecystitis.

In short, I have tiny particles of cholesterol derived rocks which can and do get lodged in the pipework in and around my gall bladder, or bile reservoir. The stones themselves can hang around for years without being known but occasional intakes of high fat foods can make them jump about and create an agony that hell can only hope to recreate. By high fat I don’t want you to imagine I ate a plate of dripping or duck comfit. I had home made wholemeal pizza with a sensible amount of cheese. Not covered in cheese with extra cheese. Not dipped in mayo and deep fried. Wholemeal with some cheese.

After the diagnosis, or rather after the ultrascan confirmed what the surgeon had thought, I was wheeled to a ward, Surgical Assessment and Observation, to be, well, observed and assessed for possible surgery.

There was that fear again.

I was told to strip and put on one of those impractical night gowns and wait for the surgeon to come and tell me what fate awaited me. As it was, the surgeon brought along the Consultant too, who, after more prodding and the same routine of questions, decided I could try some food and more painkillers and then, providing I survived without a further attack, I could be signed out pending a future operation. I was given a course of antibiotics and some paracetamol and moved, when dressed, to a side area to sit and wait for my family to collect me, as the bed was in demand.

This sudden need to be ejected for a more worthy occupant was, to be fair, my only experience of the apparent cataclysmic collapse of the N.H.S. The nurses were efficient and welcoming, the Doctor was competent and well spoken, as was the Surgeon and Consultant. There were several immigrant staff but without fault everyone was comparable in skill and efficiency to all the other members of staff.

In fact, I can’t fault anything that happened during the whole experience, other than the actual pain that caused it all.


Now I am on my second day off work, looking to return tomorrow as the painkillers and antibiotics combination seems to have things under control, reducing the pain to little more than discomfort. I imagine I won’t be able to do much heavy lifting but the furniture sales world doesn’t really demand too much of that so I am hoping to continue as normal until the operation, with a brief period of recovery before I can resume eating nice things again. Until then, no fats, no dairy or oils or sauces containing either. This should mean I’ll become a lean, svelte but miserable shadow of myself.

So, no bad thing really.




How to grow Christmas Rose (Helleborus) from seeds聖誕玫瑰種子孵法

This method of germination is new to me but seems so obvious now. Moisture and warmth is all anything needs to get a start.

My Food And Flowers

How to grow Christmas Rose (Helleborus) from seeds聖誕玫瑰種子孵法
2013-04-27 043
2013-04-17 046 (Medium)
2013-04-27 004 (Large)
Germinate Seeds in re-sealable plastic bag with small amount of water.小夾鍊袋少水孵到種皮裂開 Germinate Seeds in re-sealable plastic bag with small amount of water.小夾鍊袋少水孵到種皮裂開
Seedling has the first leaf.第一片本葉長出 Seedling has the first leaf.第一片本葉長出
1.Best time to grow this from seeds will be winter because it will take one to couple months to germinate.

2.Put seeds with small amount of water in a re-sealable plastic bag and keep the bag somewhere is dark and not too warm. Pick them out and plant them individually in a moss pallet or small seeding tray until they grow 4-6 true leaves. Keep seedlings in partial shade.

You also can grow them by using peat moss pallets directly. Keep the pallets moist. This will take just a bit longer.

3.Start to fertilize the young plants in small amount monthly.

4.Plant the young plants in the ground before frost or transplant them in lager pots. Use soil is well drain with compost matters.

It is…

View original post 18 more words

Getting Ahead of The Game.

O.K. I hinted on twitter that I had something to mention which may be taken out of context if restricted to only 140 characters. Now, I’m not averse to concise writing, having recently entered a flash fiction micro story completion. Try condensing a full story to 100 words or less, then see if twitter really is that demanding!
But I digress, I am rambling away from the original subject, so, here we go.
I have noticed a certain person who lives locally. I don’t mean I have noticed them in a romantic or hateful way. I have noticed them because, to put it bluntly, they look odd.
Unusual, different and slightly bemusing to be honest.
I don’t mean physically, although I’ve not had a good view of his face yet, but physically he seems quite the norm. Slim, medium height and young, say late teens to mid twenties.
He is black, although I can’t be more accurate than that, I’m not overly familiar with regional or national differences and as I say, I’ve not seen his face clearly. But all this is conjecture and set dressing. The main thing is, this gentleman, and I have no reason to think he isn’t, wears a towel on his head.
Now can you see my concern with misunderstanding?
I don’t mean he has some religious outfit, or he is from Saudi or any of the Arab nations and wears full traditional dress, I mean quite simply he wears an item of bathroom fabric furnishing on his pate.
A large hand towel I’m guessing by the size.
And let’s be clear, he hasn’t been seen once, but several times, over a period of months.
Not just the one same towel though.
This is where my mind was blown.
He has different coloured towels for each outfit.
Coordinated towels!
Take a while for this to sink in. It took me some time too.
I’m saying here, quite openly, that this young chap, this latter day Beau Brummel, chooses his clothes, and he chooses very well, to include a towel over the top of any hood or cap or chapeau of any variety, to match his jacket, trousers or shirt.
He is, by any other means, a very fashionable dresser. Snappy if you please.
From the deconstructed linen jackets with contrasting hoodie, to the slim fit chino jeans with rolled up bottoms, the low top trainers or deck shoes sans socks, this guy is on trend with some of the top street stylists in New York.
But for the bathroom accessory.

Like this guy, but not this guy.

He could be channelling Ford Prefect ,not the car, but the character created by Douglas Adams for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, as played by Mos Def, a great musician as well as an actor and a pretty smart dresser too. This, as followers of the great Mr Adams works will attest, may account for the towel but for the fact that we do not live on a fictional planet Earth about to be destroyed to make way for a bypass.


No, NOT the car!


Better. Snappy even with a towel but still not quite right for sleepy old Weston-Super-Mare.

As much as I, and no doubt many other similarly geeky types, would love to think there is a real lost travel guide from the future/past/parallel universe who has to wander around trying to find lift back to wherever home may be, the reality is, there isn’t. There is simply a guy, who for reasons known only to himself (I’m guessing here), has chosen to front his own campaign to bring the humble towel right up front into the cutting edge of international fashion, via a small seaside resort off the M5 motorway.

Good luck to him I say. But I’m not going to start browsing in Dunelm quite yet thank you.

Bravery or utter stupidity?

I am today, sat here typing as an unemployed man.

Yes, it’s out. I am now and for the foreseeable future, out of work. The reason that separates me from the many hard luck stories is this: I walked away from a paying position. I chose to leave a job when many are out of work due to recession, bad health or other unfortunate and unavoidable reasons.

Now, I may be dancing with the devil and asking for nothing but trouble for saying it but, I made the decision which may turn out to be the bravest move I ever made or the dumbest. Time will tell. But why did I walk?

Well, I am somewhat limited by contract to just what I can reveal but I had become stale, stilted or even fed up with the status quo. I was becoming more jaded by the day and it was beginning to creep in and affect my work. After a career pushing forward, climbing the ladders and stretching myself with new challenges I had come to a halt. I have achieved a lot, without any sense of self promotion. I took the job to new areas and new heights while I was there but we came to an end. We reached a brick wall put up by the employers themselves. I had built up and developed the business to new levels neither of us had expected but they didn’t want or couldn’t handle any more growth. I am not the sort of person to sit back and say, “That’s enough.”

I am not the sort to take work place politics and an absence of support from above as acceptable either but, as I said, I am limited in just how much I can disclose.

So, I took the long walk and we said goodbye with legal and binding contracts of non disclosure and I now face my biggest challenge.

I must add, my former employer gave me as much support as possible in the situation but I can’t help but feel he too had his hands tied. We left on good terms and the door is closed but not slammed in my face. I won’t look back on my entire time with them as a nightmare but the last two years will be hard to forgive.

O.K. I’ve faced unemployment before, a couple or three times but they were not self imposed. I was out of work for six months once. That was the longest time and I made good use of that time but it ended. I was younger and I had valid reasons for my situation. Job loss through the usual reasons. This time is different. I’m older. Hell, I’m old! Forty seven isn’t retirement age by any means but a lot of potential employers will still see that as a hindrance even if they don’t voice it. I can claim experience is a qualification you can’t buy with a pile of books and certificates but the simple fact is, employers like young people with no commitments that they can pay a tiny wage.

Anyway, there it is. It’s been cathartic and it will take some time to accept but I am at this crossroads and which way I turn is yet to be discovered but when I take that step you can bet your savings it will be a colourful and fast ride!

Do I think I did the right thing?

I have no idea and I don’t know that I ever will. Suffice it to say, I persuaded the bosses to give me the option of jumping before I was pushed. I firmly believe I would have been in the same position in had they not accepted my suggestion but my C.V. would have read differently. I made the decision to take things into my own hands and take control of my destiny. That, I still believe leaves me with some dignity.

Dignity may not be enough to pay the bills in a few months time but we shall have to wait and see.


Looking Back,The Future Looks Brighter.

If the title seems a little confusing, let me expand.

I’ve tried to keep a diary of sorts at the allotment, noting weather conditions,crops and sowing and harvesting details of said crops, and enerally recording what when and how about my visits over the last couple or three years.

Looking back is the main activity of a lot of plotholders at this time of year, partly due to the seasonal sparcity of cropable produce and partly because a lot of us are underwater. This means we spend a lot of our hobby time sitting in sheds either lusting over seed catalogues or manufacturing paper pots with those little shapers we had for Christmas. Given a nice warm stove and a comfy seat, many of us would spend a lot more time there but having neither, I have been reviewing two years of activity with a warm sofa and a cold beer at home instead.

I’m amongst friends when I say it’s all a bit wet out there this year but records say that’s not out of keeping.

My note book records that on 06/01/201 it was “Cold and sticky but no ice” but I did manage to dig up the last of the Mooli/Diakon and clear the remaining beds. I fell back on the old timewaster of turning the heap too. That’s an ideal exercise for dry cold days after the excesses of Christmas building up body heat and pumpimg blood to the tired and creaking parts

January 2012 had no entry at all, mainly due to the fact the whole site,like the country, was under a white blanket

I do recall that despite the foot deep covering my autumn sown onions had come through very well.

This bodes well. Very well, as the assumed threats of both extreme cold or flooding don’t have the damaging affect we thought they always did.

The advantage of keeping notes is that we can prove and not assume or worry that bad weather is either a terrifying new development sending us hurtling towards Armageddon or a freak occurrence from which we never recover. We’ve had both over the last few years and we’re still here, still growing and still eating. We also know from the records which crops and what methods work best given those weather ranges. We are very fortunate to be living on a small island with some of the widest ranging conditions known to the gardener and we should use that more. We can grow alpines and tropical plants in the same garden, the same street, town and county. Many of our foreign colleagues may seem to have ideal holiday climates but they are lucky to have maybe two different seasons over a year. We can have,as the New Zealand band Crowded House sang, (they also have a wide diversity of climate), Four Seasons In One Day.

Admittedly some parts of our Sceptred Isle may have a reputation for the wetter or cooler end of the spectrum,(how do you know it’s summer in Aberdeen? The rain is warmer.),and other parts draw the lucky straw such as surfer’s paradise Newquay, we as a whole get a really useful mix. And it’s a surprisingly predictable mix despite the machinations of the doomsayers and weathermen. Just keep a record for a few years and you’ll see I’m right!