Looks civilised

It’s barbecue weather. Or so it seems.

During the winter, the air in Norton smells richly of burning coal, wood and melting plastic.
During the summer months, this is replaced with a heady miasma of charcoal, burnt meat and slurry, although recently this has been added to by the arrival of a fish and chip shop in the village and its associated pongs. The neighbours gather with their families and friends and burn meat to add a crunchy flavoursome crust. Then dine on said items accompanied by trendy salads and fine wines.

Meanwhile, in Gnomepants Cottage, the food remains cooked on the stove or in the oven as the once faithful barbecue was consigned to the council tip some time during the last great move.

Barbecue Barbies
This never happens

Hosting garden parties and barbecues became a thing of the past once the realisation that standing over burning coals while sausages singed was no longer fun but a chore. The realisation that watching guests get tipsy and sated on cremated burgers and battling wasps while the chefs food got even more scorched and grew colder was no fun for the chef.

I was often the chef.

More often than not, the food would be cold, the guests would be leaving and I’d be left with a mountain of soggy salad even though I’d resolved not to make so much in the first place.

Not fun.

Resolution was that no further barbecues would be hosted and that they would solely be attended upon invitation.

This Sunday in Norton was a glorious day. Neighbours fired up their barbecues and began their annual ritual of eating calcined meat goods. The air became thick with smog but few invitations arrived. But no matter.

This is what usually happens

It was then that I realised, trend setter that I am, I had set an example amongst my friends. A fashion that no more would they hold barbecues and invite people while the hosts cooked and slaved over burning cinders only to dine themselves later on cold undercooked foodstuffs. This explains why we didn’t get any invites to barbecues from friends. That, and living out in the sticks, miles from friends and family.
So next time you’re enjoying the British summer, sitting in the garden inhaling burnt meat pollution, and have the urge to fire up the old barbecue, invite some chums and have a crap dinner while your friends enjoy the fruits of your labours, remember they didn’t invite you to theirs. Why? Because no fool wants to eat cold sausages and mountains of salad. They want their food cooked, hot and served to them by gracious hosts. They don’t have barbecues. Instead, they are sensible and have their dinner parties indoors.

Curiously I don’t get invites to them either….

Sunny Days

As the sun gets stronger through the year and the days get warmer and brighter, our thoughts turn to outdoor pursuits. Walking, picnicing, nose picking, porn foraging and, most popular of all, barbecues.

Now, I’ve got a thing about barbecues. I used to love ’em. Nuked meat Russian roulette. You either get a charcoal cinder or a black and crusty raw and bloody surprise. Love em.

However these days I realise the horror of having barbecues. The hours of slaving over red hot coals ensuring your guests have ample mountains of food (most of which you’ll either under or over accommodate for) knocking back beer after beer in an attempt to keep up with the guests who are getting merrier by the minute because they are sat down in comfort while you serve their every whim.

Then you get to sit down. You get the cold soggy left over bits that nobody wanted. The suspicious looking burger. The dodgy looking kebab. The insidious looking chicken wings or quarters that will no doubt still be raw in the middle even after being on the heat for what seems like 30 years. The limp lettuce. The flaccid overcooked sausages. All the good, tasty looking bits have gone. Your feet ache. You’re not as pissed as everyone else there. It’s clouding over. People are starting to make “Lets go home now” motions.

Yeah. Thats fun.

Isn’t it?

No. The thing I like about barbecues is going. Sitting there while my host slaves over hot coals. Getting merrier and merrier because I’m sat down chatting old toot with the other guests. Getting plied with food, nibbles and drink by my host and his/her partner. Relaxing. Enjoying the time. Getting the nice juicy steak. The right looking sausages, the burgers that don’t look too over or under done. The chicken pieces that aren’t still squarking. Getting them all for myself. Leaving the other less attractive bits to the chef or what other poor sod turns up just before I get to go home.

Then once my gizzard is full and I am fully sated with beer and meat. I can then yawn. Make some shit excuse about having an early morning, and go home. Leaving the host to clear up.

Yeah. I like barbecues.

Pot-Roasted Loin of Pork with Apple

Pot-Roasted Loin of Pork with Apple

You will need:

4lb Boned loin of pork (I used a 1lb joint with bones)
1/2 pint Dry Cider (I used Magners)
1/4 pint of Sour Cream (I used greek yoghurt)
1 1/2tsp of salt

For the Stuffing

1 oz Butter (local)
1 small onion (local) chopped
2 oz White bread crumbs (I used granary bread)
2 apples (I used 1) chopped
2 oz raisins
Finely grated rind of 1 orange (I used chopped orange rind)
Pinch of ground cloves
salt & pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (Gas mark 7). In a frying pan melt the butter and sauté the onions for 10 minutes then add the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
2. With the pork rind side down make a horizontal cut between the meat and the fat to make a pocket
3. Stuff the pocket with the stuffing. Roll joint up and tie with string. Score rind with sharp knife
4. Pour the cider and cream into a large casserole. Stir to combine then add the pork RIND SIDE DOWN. Cook in oven uncovered for 30 minutes.
5. Turn joint over so rind is facing upwards. Baste and sprinkle rind with salt. Cook for a further hour basting at 30 minutes.
6. Reduce heat to 180°C (Gas mark 4) and cook for a further 90 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.



Today’s juice included:-

Brussel Sprouts
Garden peas

Last nights potato replacement was – sautéed mushrooms

It amuses me how people scoff when I tell them I’m not eating potato this year. Last night though I was sorely tempted to nip out to the chippy but I combated the desire with a nice bacon sandwich with lashings of salad cream and a side of sautéed mushrooms.

The journey home from work (I used less petrol because I was blown home) was interesting as the high winds had brought down several trees. The M62 was closed in parts (it took Debra, the wife’s youngest sister, 3 hours to get from Warrington to Wakefield. A journey that normally only takes an hour) so the roads round Ponty and Normanton were chock-a-block with people taking alternative routes to the A1 and M1. This was made worse by Ackworth being without power so I cunningly used my knowledge of the back roads to get home via South Hiendley and Havercroft.

On arrival to the “Back Lane that dare not speak its name”, which in effect is a communal driveway for the 5 houses on our street, was blocked at the top near the Brierley Village Club (the members of which tend not to live in the village, I think not being a resident of Brierley is a condition of membership though I may be wrong) with a fallen tree. It was sad really because that was one of the Hazelnut trees. Gandalf (formerly G-the-Human-Dog) got to work, once the rain had passed, with his petrol chainsaw and made us a nice new coppiced fence type thing out of the debris.

The wife is off to see Kylie Minogue tonight. It will be really weird cos both the wife and Kylie know the fashion designer, Christopher Shannon (aka little Gay Chris). Tomorrow she will be working. I might venture to the pub…..

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