Sunday, 13 December 2015

Drummer Drumming

New political parties emerging which favour the stop to migrants, reintroducing borders and preserving the cultural identity of that country, also combining a new independent economy which will bring custom duties into play and protect the local producers. France is a good example, with the FN party and Greece flexed it muscle just recently.  One example here in the UK is the dairy farmer, imports are slowly closing them down one by one and very soon we will have no dairy industry. The question must be asked, if our esteemed politicians upset a few other counties where will we get our milk from? My feeling is that politicians should take note, this will not go away. This could see the end to the EU and also some radical parties taking over. Most politicians smell a little and the man in the street is getting tired of broken promises and higher taxes. The drummer is drumming.

Just came back from a walk on the beach with Sam and we were watching a dog barking at the waves, that's a war that will never end. Cool but dry with a slight breeze, quite a pleasant day but not so for Susan who has had rain all the way to Colchester, bringing Robert home for the holidays. Saying that, we normally take about 4 hours to get there but that Panda has just broken all the records and did it in 3 hr 21m. I can’t imagine what speed she averaged but for that Panda it must have been fun. Now the trip back with all Robert’s paraphernalia, it might take a little longer.
On to the wine lesson.

Riesling (white):
First of all, it's pronounced reez-ling not rise-ling. Second of all, it's a fantastic white grape so shouldn't be given such a hard time. It makes some of the most sensational white wines in the world, plus it can be really dry a lot of the time. That said, the slightly sweeter ones are great with Indian food. Riesling tastes of limes, honey and elderflower.
Recommendation : Drink with Asian food. German Riesling with sweet and sour pork, Australian Riesling with sushi. 
Little known fact : Australia is a hotbed of gorgeous dry Riesling action these days, especially from places like Clare Valley and Eden Valley in South Australia.

Merlot (red):
Merlot is popular because it's easy to say, easy to drink and often easy on the wallet. On its own, it can make a wine that tastes of plums, fruitcake and sometimes black olives and eucalyptus. You heard it here for the first time, yes eucalyptus.
Recommendation : Mushroom risotto or sticky Chinese ribs. 
Little known fact : Merlot is really important as part of a blended wine, especially in claret (red Bordeaux) where it is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. Very easy to drink. The only wine I could compare Merlot with is Corbiere, which can only be bought in France. Both are so easy to drink and delicious. A glass is gone before one realises it was there. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Spaceman

So Christmas looms fresh on our calendar, knocking the days off one by one until all ‘12 days to Christmas’ has been sung and we wake up exhausted, too another glorious day of magic, giving and receiving, eating, laughing and time to reflect.
I must admit this is the first Christmas we have decorated the Christmas tree without any children around and that has its consequences, Susan has raised her voice to me twice over the last month and I can only attribute it to the fact there are no children around. Also Michael is with Angela in Oz and that does not help. Mark, Gary, Angela, Michael and Robert take note, always make sure one of you are around every Christmas. It is also quite nice to have any of you, actually all of you - bring the family.
Jesus is 15 years old, says the preacher man, He said that the Lord said, in 2000 years from now a baby is born, people have been known to sing now, up to you.
Yes the same preacher man who marries people on the beach. Now I must say, he brings Peace and Goodwill to all men, which is a bitter hit against ambrosial sweetness. We follow the light, like a choir of flavours with cinnamon. Jesus is 15 years old and we have to still find him. Wouldn’t it be great if we actually found him and he actually existed, something like the book by Bach - The Mechanic. He would fly around in an old bi-plane and fix things, even people.
Onwards and upwards as Jesus did, but we mere mortals can only hope this Christmas is like no other. We have the dream when you falling and maybe this time we carry only love and The Preacher Man blessing. To all those he has laid his hands on, let them all find peace. Better still feel the rain, stop worrying about getting wet, enjoy each day as a gift of Christmas.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Bristol, Wine and Coffee

We have a Delonghi Coffee Machine. Why Delonghi you might ask, well Delonghi represents all that is good in this world. Drinking proper coffee, that is. It makes sure that whenever you have a craving for a quick caffeine fix, it delivers as you would expect from a Barista, but without the cost. It comes with an auto cappuccino function, simply position your cup under the nozzle, press a button and you'll be served the perfect cappuccino with no fuss. So if you fancy a Latte, Flat white or an Americano, pop around and enjoy, conversation is not important but does tend to happen.

Your Wine Guide by Tamacgor S Bald, notable wine expert, explorer and cross dresser. Did you know he fashions all Russell Smith's clothes, they are so close.
Next time the waiter asks if you would prefer the Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, you can decided with confidence.
  
Chardonnay (white)

One of the highest-quality and most popular grapes in the world, Chardonnay's flavour depends on whether it has spent time in oak barrels or not. Unoaked Chardonnay tastes fresh and of green apples. Oaked Chardonnays taste nutty, waxy and a bit smoky.
Recommendation: I recommend unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnays with chicken because it's a really good match. If you prefer the richer Chardonnays, it just about goes with anything that is stronger in flavour, cheddar or smoked mackerel a must.
Little known fact: People often claim they hate Chardonnay but love Chablis (Chablis, crisp and dry with green apple and blanched nuts aromas). But Chablis is completely made from Chardonnay. Now you know.

Sauvignon Blanc (white)

It's one of those grapes that has very unique flavour. In cooler spots in France it tastes of freshly-cut grass and lemons. In warmer climates (like New Zealand) it tastes exotic, tropical fruit like mango and passion fruit.
Recommendation: Fish and chips, anything with goat's cheese, stir fry or white fish with mild sauce.
Little known fact: Production of Sauvignon Blanc in Australia has increased more than 40 fold in the last 25 years. 

Next week we delve into the rich tales and tastes of the Riesling and Viognier.

We went to visit Michael in Bristol yesterday, Bristol is just over 2 hours drive with Susan at the wheel, driving the Panda with flair and gay abandonment. That Ferrari engineered Panda is so at home on England's narrow country roads. The countryside is pleasant this time of the year with the autumnal shades and rich green pastures. 
Bristol is rather a grey, neglected city with most houses needing attention, almost a city that has forgotten to do any maintenance, even gardening and the odd layer of paint would not go amiss. In saying that, it is predominately a university town and the area we drove through is mostly student letting, but none the less, have the owners of the house no pride or is it all about making a quick buck with as little cost involved as possible? Michael's house was one of the better kept in the area.


Enough moaning, Michael did take us to a rather good coffee shop just off White Heart Lane, Rubicon 2. Quite a walk, the suggested 5 minutes walk taking more like 20 but worth the effort. The food and coffee good. Reasonable priced with generous portions and full of flavour. Relaxing atmosphere and excellent WiFi signal, making for an enjoyable experience. Good choice Michael.
Well with Christmas a mere month away I had better start my Christmas list for Santa, it does tend to be quite long.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Dyson Vacuum Cleaners and other mishaps

It has been at least six years since we purchased our Dyson vacuum cleaner and a very good suction it has always had. But, there is always a but, this morning we discovered that this mighty Dyson was poorly, no suction. Susan on her hands and knees examining the roller brush as I walked in, remarked that it was not right! Not right I countered, a Dyson, lifetime guarantee. Saying that I checked my emails and low and behold that Dyson with its lifetime guarantee had stepped up a gear and now was frightening Sam. 
'It is not right.' stated Susan.
On investigation we found that it had a set of filters, untouched by human hands for 6 years, suffice to say it now has more suction then is necessary. I say, up the mighty dragon, Dyson, a vacuum cleaners true friend. I must point out that I think the bearing is going as it does sound rough, we have not heard the last from this mighty dragon, Dyson.

One can not but marvel at life, here I sit with a glass of Australian wine in my hand and send this blog to the world, those who care to read it anyway. China has been dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, allows 2 children per couple now. They had a law only one child per couple. Good on them, it has saved the world 330 million more children but, there is always a but, since you started reading this blog there are 6000 more children in the world. I can only say they deserve a break, Moa and his followers have not got much right but in this I agree.



Christmas is gaining on us at an alarming rate, slow down, browse the aisles and find that special gift for those you love. The feeling you will get on Christmas will be worth it. Wisdom says it is better to give then receive, wise words indeed. For those in South Africa remember the saying 'It's not really locked if a pair of bolt cutter can open it'. Once you have your presents hide them from those who believe in the above.

Too finish off I would like to say we got to know young Alex Smith of the Clan Middle Smith, what a charmer he is, I see quite a bit of Claudia in that child.


 Lastly did you hear about The Preacher Man and the unfortunate incident of the car that reversed into him as he was occupied for a split second on his iPhone, nasty business and costly as well. Our thoughts are with you and your lighter bank account.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Bournemouth Arts Festival

Yes Bournemouth gardens are alive with the art festival, well I say alive but there was only one attraction. The history of water or the art of water? Really, bottles of water from an odd bunch of people collecting water in different bottles, from different places. These bottle go back to 1999. Well one of them the rest were from 2010 onwards. Such passion by the young girl who explained the concept, but they are just bottles of water, plastic, glass and what ever is in between. 
Lets imagine what the person said when conceiving this idea.
'Lets collect water from anyone who wants to give us their water, from a place where they have a special memory, their water memories. We will put that water into some old display cabinets and write a brief note with each sample and that is our art exhibition. I suggest a book as well, sell it and we will be famous.'
Actually it was quite interesting and as water is such an essential part of life, it has merit.

Well that being the sum total of the Arts Festival we headed to our favourite coffee shop and after our caffeine fix, we decided it was time to go home. Weather is getting more wintery then autumnal, so home was the right decision. 


Well England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are out of the World Cup. Yesterday saw South Africa book their flights home and now it is New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. I do believe we will see a New Zealand - Australia final. Well I did say it would all end in tears.
 

Watched a very disturbing documentary on Lion farming. It is being done in South Africa and they will breed lions to order so that someone can shoot them. They always say if there is a market for a product then someone will supply. It was named 'canned lion farming' by the Daily Mail. I have put a link at the bottom of this blog if you really want to read it, not pleasant.

Well, I know that drill 
I know it all too well 
It starts like a lonely voice 
And shifts to a tolling bell 
Like rain on a dusty ground 
Small bones in the driest well 
The spark breathes a fiery tongue 
And the tongues kiss the cheek of hell 

On this sombre note I say that is all for now, keep comments flowing and keep well.


Sunday, 11 October 2015

West Wind, breath of Autumn

A heavy weight of hours has chain’d and bow’d
One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. (Percy Bysshe Shelley)

With autumn we have Gary’s birthday and what an occasion that is, was. All over by the time you read this but lets sing a little ditty - Happy Birthday to you - you can carry on while I compose my thoughts on how this blog can be contained.
The thing with Blogs is that they tend to start out saying one thing and then go a stray.

As can be seen from that Getty award winning image, the skies do hold a surprise as we walk our dog along Sandbanks Beach. Talking autumn, what is the Italian for false teething? (Answer is at the bottom of the page)
Autumn does bring its own little tasks and one of them is clearing out the tomato plants that are on their last legs affected with late blight. I must confess it was with a tinge of sadness as they did bless us with many sweet, juicy fruit. Getting carried away the sweet peas where also thrown out, waste of time really as they did not have the promised scent and no peas! Onwards and upwards we tackle the garage next weekend, I am not sure what we will find growing in there but faint heart never won fair maiden. 

Christmas is taking the high road again, 11 weeks and it is wonderful, glorious Christmas. We plan to go away to somewhere again, well I say again as we went to Scotland with Gary and Claudia a few years ago when Mika was a baby, she still is, so that is not that long ago. Michael is going to research the best deals and Robert is going to put his studies aside for a while and just join us on our journey, exploring the crags and fells of this wild country.



Took a trip to Portland Bill on Saturday, not much to say except what you can see from the images I have attached. Wild and windy place at the end of a narrow road but the trip was worth it as you climb over the Portland hill and then descend to the lighthouse. Great views of Weymouth harbour and Chessil beach, did not get a photo as we were in need of a coffee shop so pushed on to The Barn in Lytchett Minster, where we enjoyed a fine bowl of watercress and potato soup.
(Answer - Falsetto)

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Witches, ghost and things that amuse small children

To aerate or not to be, we will get to that later but for now I am listening to the Bournemouth Gilbert and Sullivan Operatic Society singing extracts from Ruddigore, must have been a pirate King. Would make Captain Ben happy although the the average age is about 60, except for the male and female leading singers. Oh well old people must have something to do as well. Young children do not really see age they only watch the magic. Actually it seems that Ruddigore is about a witches curse, ghosts, disguises and wicked villains.
I have noticed a distinct festive mood to the high street in Poole, Susan is giving blood, royal blood is in such short supply, so someone has to step up to the breach. I am in a coffee shop in the Dolphin Centre, enjoying a croissant, filled with ham, cheese and asparagus and a good cup of coffee.
On to the wine, aerate or not? I did some research and this is my conclusion.
Just opening a bottle and pouring a glass will aerate the wine, as will swirling your glass of wine. For more aeration, decanting a wine works. After a while, aerated wines begin to oxidise, and the flavours and aromas will loose there luster. The heavier the wine, the greater the benefit and then you can enjoy it for longer before it fades. Do not aerate delicate older wines for long, as you can miss out on their unique aromas, but decant to remove the sediment. So in summing up that debate, aerate, but not for too long and enjoy.
My good friend Tamacgor S Bald has just phoned to let me know he is in Africa. He went out to see the Big Five and Russell but unfortunately did not see any. I told him Russell is in the Masai Mara, just look for someone important wondering around the bush and you will find him. Such a colonial creature is our Tamacgor S Bald, he thinks the whole of Africa is covered with lions and other wild animals. I must admit I would have loved to see his outfits, no khaki for him, he tends to go with noticeable colours.
Anyway thats all the news for now, printing deadline looms and they can be very grumpy.


Saturday, 3 October 2015

Life's little surprises

Steve Jobs once wrote. 
'Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.' 
Pity he is no longer with us, he would be appalled at the new 'Photo', used to be iPhoto. It definitely does not work, it might look good but that is all.
We all let off steam somehow and mine is writing it down and unfortunately sharing it with you. OK, I will change the subject but Apple are coming out with too many updates, they used to be stable and just seemed to work.

Had a call from Susan this morning, she had just got to work. ' Is my shoe there? I just have one shoe. Please look upstairs as I can not find it here.' I went upstairs but could not help thinking of how life throws those little surprises, even if it is only the lack of a shoe. Just incase you are wondering, no the shoe was not upstairs or in the hall way or outside in the garden, Sam has been known to take shoes outside. Maybe the makings of a crime thriller? 
'The Case of the Missing Shoe' by Susie One Shoe. Could sell it on Amazon Books, millions of copy's bought, touching all those who had lost a shoe. Such drama and emotion.

Friday has arrived, good, not too soon I would say. What have we planned for the weekend, you may well ask, nothing yet but the weekend is young. To be honest I have pulled a muscle in my back and would prefer a relaxing weekend. The disadvantages of aging brings on these little ailments, but a comfy sofa, glass of wine and anything can be enjoyed.
To sum up, Robert and the fraud squad are investigaring the theft from his bank of € 93.58 and Susan left her computer at home this morning. What with one shoe and no computer I am at a loss as to how to keep up. Love you all and until next time, if I do not see you through the week, I will see you through the window.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Too many chips?

On the surprise win of Wales vs England, I can not but look back on the match when Japan beats South Africa in the last few minutes? History seems to be repeating itself. Some say South Africa are now looking for a Japanese coach, more of a calming influence then actual coaching, how to control your temper and have the ability to think, difficult, under pressure, extremely. Some say the Stig is about to get envolved, I do see it all ending up in tears.
Enough about rugby, it seems to be all the rage so let's move on.
Robert went back to uni yesterday, this time to a rented house. Freedom always comes at a price, bills etc just some of his new responsibilities. Michael left last week for a few days but was back Thursday to get the rest of his things and leaves today. The house will be quite empty for a while and then it is Christmas.
Talking about the empty house, I do find old habits die hard as the saying goes, when it comes to my cooking. After a trip to Lyme Regis for the day, Susan and I decided fish, chips and salad was what we wanted for dinner. I prepared the fish and then opened the frozen chips packet, one hand full for me, one for Robert and one for Michael, Susan normally has new potatoes. Well I can always freeze the cooked chips for when they come home. Susan is missing the boys and is taking her feeling out on the carpets upstairs, well they did need a good cleaning but can the Dyson cope with what has gone before?
On a completely different subject, there are quite a few people who are looking for Jesus. Joan Beaz, Hayes Carl to name just a few. He actually sings a song with this chorus line.
She left me for Jesus and that just ain't fair
She says that He's perfect, how could I compare?
She says I should find Him and I'll know peace at last
If I ever find Jesus, I'm kicking His ass.
Bit over the top but being naturally curious I Googled it. Results showed there are loads of people named Jesus in Mexico but they are not the Mr Jesus Christ I am researching. So please, if anyone knows the address of Jesus please let me know and I will pass on the information. Maybe the Reverent Father of Middle Smiths has the answer?

When you're feeling unloved and unwanted, 
I will be here to tell you how very important you are.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Gary has found Religion

Breaking news. Gary Smith of the Middle Smiths has found God and has joined this ancient cult. Here he is seen performing a wedding from his holy notes. The Lord is surely watching over this devoted proclaimer of peace and right. We can only marvel at the talent and righteous capacity for exploring the world of the devotees.
Gary is in training to cycle 120kms to spread the word and Daniel can now say with pride 'I am the son of a preacher man'. But wait you might say, he has gone to the dark side. That is true but in defence of the Right Reverent Gary Smith, it is only in the technology sphere of our universe. Adam and Eve ate the Apple but Gary only uses the technology to further enlighten the masses. All Hail the Preacher Man.  

Wedding and Things

This is a grand weekend for the Ge-org Smith's as their youngest son is to marry. The fattened calf has been slaughtered and the rest of South Africa has been invited. Gary and the Middle Smith family will be there as well as the Dickens from Australia. Mark is a doubtful but hoping to make this celebration of young love for this year. I do believe we will have a few more before I go to my resting place. 
Granny June will be there and will lighten the holiness of the celebrated day. Russell and Rene, the parents of Matthew will shed a tear.

Talking of Granny June, I cannot but remember the story of the father telling his son that when they went for a walk he always battled to keep up, always pressing on even though his little legs had to do twice the work. Now the father is stumbling behind his son trying to keep up. We must never forget that when that little boy struggled there was only one set of footprints in the sand, as his father carried him so the son will, hopefully, one day carry the father as he battles to keep up.
The first glimmer of autumn has crept on us quite silently, we, every hopeful of a sunny, warm day, we stopped looking at the day temperature, autumn is showing it's cooler head and the days are getting shorter, soon we will be celebrating Christmas, slow down Father Time, let us have the time to stand and stare.
We decided to have a BBQ as a farewell to summer and to catchup with some old friends. We spoke and remembered about everything and nothing, the old days when the children where small and now with them at university. We have but a short time to see them grow and the Cooks lived the same journey with us. 
In parting I was intrigued by Angela's Facebook image of Spur Restaurant and it made me think of where it may have come from and the answer is so simple. We have pubs.
Claudia and Alex will be with us shortly, must remember to get the Lego out and the books about Thomas the Tank Engine. Wash Sam and vacuum the carpet. Get a baby sitter and then take Claudia out for a quiet evening to catchup.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Chewton Glen Revisited

Some have said that a good hotel should be like a song, that you never grow tired of. 
Chewton Glen Hotel, part of the Relais and Chateaux group, should be one of those hotels but falls down partly through their pricing and then through the quality of the food.

Much was made of having dinner at the Chewton Glen and the service here is possible a little over the top but excellent none the less. We were escorted to our table by one waiter, served water by another and then our drinks order taken by another, before our food order was taken by, yes you guessed it by another waiter. This is very impressive but who is your point of contact, who do you ask for a side salad you forgot to order. 

I ordered chilli beef on a bed of salad for my starter and Susan ordered smoked salmon and giant couscous as her starter. Mine was actually deep fried bits of chewy meat on a tablespoon of weird salad but Susan was very happy with a large portion of salmon and loads of couscous salad. 
Then we were served our main course, again Susan an excellent dish of lamb. I had sirloin with seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes, covered by a red wine sauce. Actually what I was given was two thin slices of roast beef, a small carrot, slice of butternut, 3 French beans and 2 half roasted baby potatoes, covered in a burnt beef gravy. We finished our meal and decided against dessert. Now if I pay £128.00 for a dinner for two without drinks, I would expect something with a wow factor and never to be forgotten, sadly this is best forgotten. 
Do not get me wrong, we really enjoyed ourselves and it is always good to spend some time together without the stress of modern life intruding. I learnt that Susan want to learn to play Golf, ride a horse, play table tennis and croquet. Unfortunately the weather was not suited to outdoor events and I did not get the opportunity to expertly teach Susan.
The coffee is good and the relaxed atmosphere has recharged our batteries. Susan has really enjoyed the Spa, mainly the swimming and I have enjoyed the quiet, comfortable lounges, a place to read, write and relax. Would I come back, probably not, but worth the experience.

Summer Break

We stand amid the roar of a surf-tormented shore, and I hold within my hand, grains of sand. They creep through my fingers, dusting the wind. I grasp tighter and hope that all that we see, is but a dream within a dream. Before the roar of the next wave takes us a little further to the end of life's story, surrounded by this blue immensity. I care less for this but as long as I walk with you, I am me.
The problems of life make little difference to me, the blue sky can collapse on itself and the ground can cave in, everything, but if you walk with me.
Susan and I have taken ourselves off to the Chewton Glen Hotel.
(www.chewtonglen.com) for a quick 2 day break, something of a extend holiday you might say, as I have not been away for about 4 years and do feel a little jaded. We parked the mighty Fiat Panda along side all manner of exotic, expensive vehicle and felt quite at home. To say the hotel is pleasant would be an understatement, we will survive. Susan is in the Spa at the minute and I am enjoying a wee glass of Merlot surrounded by like minded people who are just here to have a break. Could get use to this but will stay focused until the bottle runs dry.

As we wandered around the hotel we could not help but notice the 18 hole golf course and the indoor tennis courts, national trust type gardens and heated outdoor swimming pool. This is a place you would all be happy to stay at and recharge your batteries.
Susan has just returned from the Spa looking refreshed and radiant, time to change and meander down to dinner.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Summer


The sun is out and the beach is filling up fast, I am in Bournemouth, in a little Patisserie waiting for Robert, he is doing his theory test. The first steps to getting his driving licence, about time but if he gets his licence by Christmas I will be surprised. These multi choice questions do make it easier to pass and I believe they only have to get 80%.
The cricket is quite exciting at the minute, Australia all out for 60 and we are about to be bowled out for just under 400, interesting game and I am sure will have a close finish.

Robert did actually pass his theory, well done and beware those careful drivers in the UK, Robert will be the car behind you at sometime in your life.
Well the weekend has flown by as usual, I just need a day between Saturday and Sunday to slow it down a little. I was going to do a little housekeeping, tidying up and vacuuming but with so little time there is always next weekend. The boys use the whole house as their personal wardrobe and that leaves very little room for Susan, Sam and I. I cannot complain as they will soon be out the house and have one of their own.
Last night we had our first BBQ, Smoked Pork Sausages, BBQ marinated Chicken Breast, Cajun Spices Chicken Thighs, BBQ Rack of Rib and that favourite Hotties to compliment the home grown potatoes. In the spirit of teaching my boys to fend for themselves, I let Robert do the actual cooking and we must compliment him on delivering a tasty, well done, unburnt platter of food. 
Talking of Robert, today is his birthday, 19 and getting older by the minute. Took him to Sculptures by the Lake, educational visit.


"Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."
To finish, Susan and I took the SUP board down to the beach this morning, Sunday, after talking to Gary before he went to have a poo, shower and shave. We thought it might rain later, so with fair winds and sunshine, Susan took to the water like a duck to ... I really wanted to photograph the moment she fell off, but alas this aquatic hero stayed up right and came back dry. I have attached the photograph of this event as proof I am not getting a little senile. 
"Some people feel the rain, others just get wet."