I love growing rhubarb me. I’m not overly keen on eating it, though I will, but I love growing it.
My grandfather had a fine crop of rhubarb behind his greenhouse. My dad would often relate how he would have to go out with a bucket after the milkman’s horse so he could collect the manure for the rhubarb. He prefered custard though.
Today’s picture shows a crop grown from a head provided by old friend Carole. It has fired the rhubarb growing urge once more and, once I have a job, an income and allowed to go out, I intend to get a new head of rhubarb for our tiny garden.
May. Such a lovely time of year. The sun comes out, the birds make a lot of noise and cravings for ice cream start to develop and, in normal circumstances, a trip to the local ice cream parlour would be in order.
In 2008, a favourite of mine was Charlotte’s in Dewsbury (http://www.charlottesjerseyicecream.co.uk/). A fine example of farming diversification where instead of opening a farm shop selling over priced “fancy” goods disguised as “locally sourced” produce, the farmer followed the passion for ice cream and grew a business empire.
Now I have relocated to Northamptonshire where there are a number of farm based ice creameries, none are as splendid as Charlottes although local producer Gallones (https://gallonesicecream.co.uk/) have made a good line of ice cream parlours in the region and their ice cream is delicious too, but they don’t have the animals to gawp at…..
One of my many obsessions is with seafood dishes, especially Seafood Mornay.
The best seafood mornay I’ve ever had was Roger’s Seafood Mornay from the former Pen Bryn Bach restaurant near Aberdaron in North Wales. The second best seafood mornay was also Roger’s Seafood Mornay. In third place was the seafood mornay I made for a dinner party back in 2003. All others are just pretenders to the throne.
Sadly when I visited the Lobster Pot near Cemaes Bay in Anglesey in 2011, I found that they didnt do a Seafood Mornay. What they did though was a delicious surf and turf with half a lobster skillfully balanced ontop of grass fed beef steak (How they get the steak to eat grass is beyond me, surely it would be better to get the cow to eat the grass?) and doused in enough garlic butter to both thin and clog the arteries at the same time.
Today’s picture depicts the delicious dish itself.
Taken to document possibly one of the proudest moments of my life, today’s picture shows how a GCSE in Physics, a bit of string, some baking trays and a slow leaking radiator valve can all be combined to prevent a fuse box from shorting out and causing a disaster.
Having been notified that there was water dribbling from the upstairs bathroom, down the kitchen wall and into the meter cupboard, investigations revealed that the valve from the recently removed radiator had burst due to age and was issuing water at a very slow rate but sufficient enough to be problematic.
Application of a spanner reduced the leak to a slight dribble but the resulting issuance was in that awful hinterland of too much and too little. Then the long dead Mr O’Malley’s tobacco stained voice echoed in my head and said – “Capillary Attraction”.
A visit to the shed to collect some string and grabbing a handful of containers later, I had fashioned a rudimentary collection device which stopped the flow downstairs until such a time as the emergency plumber could attend.
I still remember his face when he saw what I had done and if you look up the word Impressed in a Pictionary, you’ll see that same face.
In my youth I regularly visited the gentleperson’s establishment of Bishop Eton Parish Centre, known locally as Birch House, a church club. At the time, it seemed like the centre of the universe. Cheap beer, cheap cigarettes, quirky vending machine in the entrance and two hi-reward fruit machines. It also boasted a friendly hostess and a bloody handy lock in.
Lock-ins, for those not in the know, are when an establishment continues to entertain selected patrons after the doors have closed and alcohol sales are required by law to cease due to the time of day or night. Of course, once the doors are closed and the curtains are drawn, there’s no telling what goes on in there. Drinking mostly. Occasionally until 4am.
As well as a patron, I was also a member of staff and frequently had to facilitate the lock-in despite having a job to go to in the morning. However, in those days the clock was weird and 4am was just a time on the clock while sleep was something that happened for six hours between eyes shut and 7am in the morning. Being a member of staff I was also fortunate enough to be able to monitor the usage of the fruit machines and determine when it would pay out, which it often did, in my favour.
The club was owned by the local parish church and used for functions and meetings of local groups including a group of professional males who followed a sinister type of catholic free-masonry, a Women’s Institute knock-off, a couple of local self-build groups, the youth club (complete with a local weirdo who liked to stare at the girls) and a weird and secretive “invite only” quiz league. It really was a happening place.
Sadly, land values around the area rose and the thought of a quick cash injection for the church became too much for the clergy. As a result, in the early noughties, the club closed its doors for the last time. The building, a graded listed building, was earmarked for “redevelopment to luxury accommodation”, which meant falling into disrepair, catching fire and it and the ground eventually being bulldozed and turned into a gated community of several houses.
Thankfully, the name, if not the memories, lives on in the street name – Birch House Close. Bless.
Randomly admist the photographs I often come across pictures of workspaces. It was often a meme on social media to upload a picture of your workspace for followers to see. In 2008 I was a full-time student, so this was my workspace in the back bedroom in my house in Brierley near Barnsley in South Yorkshire.
Today’s picture is also like one of those hidden object games which were popular around that time. How many objects can you see? Can you find the floppy disc? Can you see the Flexicurve? How about the USB vacuum cleaner?
In 2012 I was living in a flat on the outskirts of lovely Leamington Spa, a picturesque Georgian town with lots of history and a grid system, with the then nearly-Mrs-Gnomepants V2.0 . The flat was a post war construct but had some modern trimmings such as central heating.
The thing with houses and flats is you get used to the sounds they make the longer you live in them. Sometimes these noises can be unique – particular to a location, a room or a function. The way a door closes. The way the water runs through the pipes. The way the floorboard creaks. How the neighbours sound. Each noise distinctive to the occupant. Sometimes subtly, other times in-your-face-obvious. The flat in Leamington Spa was no exception.
A particular sound that could be heard in the Leamington Spa flat was an almost imperceptable sigh from the attic when the heating switched from timed hot water only to hotwater and heating. It was like an asthmatic squirrel living in the attic. I could often hear it and know, safely, that the heating had come on gone off. Others might not have heard it though and would often think of my central heating predictions as some element of my weirdness.
So when the sigh ceased and the radiators started to glow red. I knew there was something up. Taking to the loft via a rickety ladder I was able to determine that the mysterious sigh used to come from the motor in the switch valve which had failed and was forcing the hot water into the heating system.
As handy as I am, I donned my flat cap, put a rolled up cigarette on my bottom lip and stood at the bottom of the ladder sighing, tutting and generally looking quizical. Then, after three mugs of tea (extra strong), several looks through the Sun newspaper (upon which I had drawn phalluses and spectacles on people in the photographs) and an impromptu 3 hour trip to the corner shop for some vital parts, I nipped up the ladder and took this photograph.
I then explained the problem to the Then-soon-to-be-Mrs-Gnomepants v2.0, pointed out that there was not much call for that kind of thing these days, sucked air through my teeth and said “It’s gonna cost ya”. The photograph was then sent on to a more experienced central heating engineer/plumber who, having been pleased to see such good investigative work and standing round, had the failed unit replaced in a fraction of the time and only one cup of tea.
Forty years ago, if someone had said your camera can take video pictures, you would have probably have asked how the cassette fitted into the back of the camera. Six years ago, it appears that I was exploring Norfolk and the sleepy town of Sherringham with my camera phone. Today’s picture is a video taken of the roughish North Sea at Sherringham.
Sherringham itself is a quaint little place. Located on the north Norfolk coast about five miles outside of Cromer, it hails boutique shops, hipster cafes and high property values to match its upper-middle class pretentions. There are a few restaurants for evening pre-theatre holiday sustenance as well as a fish and chip shop for those wanting to rough it like the commoners. It also boasts some of the best crab outside of Cromer but then where in Norfolk doesn’t?