Friday, November 30, 2007


Damn oil burner is well and truly dead.

Guy came out and spent over and hour coaxing it back to life only to tell me it could last a week or a year ie; it is well and truly knackered and it is a wonder it has lasted so long.

It lasted another 3 hours.

It's as dead as democracy.

Today I have had to cancel my attendance at my office christmas party to try and find a new oil burner that will fit my old boiler (careful! no jokes at the back).

I have sourced one locally and will be off down the road in a jiffy to buy it.

Handing out a couple of hundred close to christmas is not my idea of fun.

Ho fucking ho.

Can't live without heating. Well, I can but I really don't want to.

What an almighty pain in the ass.

I might just have to get roaring drunk later tonight.

I did say might.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

If it was any colder it'd be freezing.

Have you seen the price of oil?

I don't mean crude at $100 per barrel.
(well maybe I do as that is where the bloody stuff starts )
No, the more refined stuff, 28 sec Kerosene to be exact.

I paid £0.46 per litre last week.

I nearly fainted at the price.

I got over it quickly enough though there were some odd noises emanating from the radiators.
The noises continued until yesterday when the heating didn't come on.

I bled a radiator, crap I just remembered I had to get another radiator key as I broke the one I had bleeding that last radiator.
I digress.

That didn't fix it.

I went out and opened the purge valve on the boiler.


Oh shit.

The image of hundreds of litres of oil soaking my garden sprang to mind.
I went and got a torch and checked the oil. No loss.

HUGE sigh of relief, that is until I remembered why I was looking at the oil level in the first place. Crap.

I unscrewed the inline filter in the oil pipe. This is not the cleverest thing to do when you haven't closed the valve at the oil tank. I was prepared for some oil loss but not the few litres that spewed out. My hands still smell faintly of kerosene today. That and the fumes gave me, as they say round these parts, "a wile sore head".

No heating last night. Ambient temperature rather mild for the time of year so no hardship.

I managed to close the oil valve and unscrew the oil filter, the fine mesh seems unclogged enough to me but on testing the oil still wasn't getting through.

I have phoned and booked a boiler service for tomorrow evening.
This is something I have never had done. We have been here over 5 years now.
About bloody time then.

More money to shell out. Gah.

Still, I am sitting here in front of a roaring fire after a large bowl of my current favourite quick dinner. Lentil and spinach pasta with chilli and garlic. I could eat this until I had peritonitis but I won't put it to the test. I love it. Very tasty and filling.

That said, I didn't pig out as Mrs M phoned to ask if I had eaten yet as she fancied getting a pizza. Who am I to say no to pizza?

Bring it on. Drool.

Normal heating will resume tomorrow, the management apologises for the delay.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm only here for the beer

I spent Friday afternoon with some colleagues . We went to the beer festival.
Being a lover of nice beer it was odd that this was my first ever visit.
There was so much choice I had no idea where to start.

A scan through the list of beers had me alight on one I had sampled on a trip to Edinburgh in Milne's pub to be precise. The beer in question is called Thrappledouser.
It was lovely in Edinburgh. Not so in Belfast, a bit wishy washy ( technical term ) in my opinion.

I tried a few favourites out of that selection were Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild - very nice indeed, could have sank a few pints of this. Old Growler- a stout that had me chewing it was so tasty. Dragon's Fire was just alright. Flash Harry was like dishwater, even though I cannot remember ever tasting dishwater. I thought the taste notes sounded promising, don't believe the hype, blech.

It was funny with five of us there and not everyone having the same taste. Some were lager drinkers and I do think they were quite unhappy but not about to admit it in front of the "lads".

I think that the beer festival will bear a repeat visit next year. I was well impressed.

I have just discovered that I can order a "wine box" type contraption of 20 litres of Old Growler direct from the brewery, result!

Check the link.

Hahahahahahahahaha......I love christmas, me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What a fuckup.

The government have lost a set of discs with the names, addresses and NIS and "where relevant" bank details of 25 million people !

What the fuck? !!!!!!!

So, these numptys, entrusted with keeping these highly confidential records put them in the post. Not even registered post and then they get lost...........and then they say that there is no evidence that this information has fallen into the hands of criminals.
I would add "yet" to the end of that statement.

So they want us to submit all our details to a giant database and issue us with ID cards ( at our expense ) to protect us from terrorists. Hmm, looks like we can't fucking trust them to look after the confidential information they already hold never mind the amount they want encoded on a national ID card.

This latest fuck up has to convince the populace that the ID card scheme and associated database is a non starter, we cannot trust this government to safely look after the information they have been entrusted with.
ID theft is very real indeed and this list is worth a lot especially as it has bank account details included.

What if this information falls into the hands of a paeodophile?
A list of the name and address of all the children in the UK under 16???

This is beyond the pale.

How will they spin their way out of this one?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Someone who'll watch over me

SPOILER ALERT ! Possibly........

I went to this play in the lyric on Wednesday night.
Very good indeed. That is me culturally replete for a while now.
My favourite line in the play, the derogatory line about Strabane aside, has to be-

" I'm Sam Peckinpah....this is a're dead."

Made me laugh out loud.
Some parts made me fill up. Powerful stuff.
I think I'll add Frank McGuinness to my list of favourite playwrights.
He joins David Mamet and Conor McPherson on the list.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Never More.

We were staying in Portrush at the weekend.

Seaside town out of season, cold, windy, some rain.


Going out to eat and drink and a long walk on the beach on Saturday, to enjoy the bracing sea air and marvel at the kite boarders. I had to envy the bodyboarders too as they had tired of the freezing water and were tobogganing down the big sand dune. Looked like lots of fun.

The beach looked like it had smoke flowing over it at ankle level because of the dry sand being whipped along. We walked from East strand ,or Curran if you want to call it that, down to Whiterocks and back.

On the way back I noticed a Raven floating in the wind with something white in it's beak. It dropped down onto an outcropping of the dune and sat looking round it. I would say nervously but I don't want to be anthropmorphic here. Another raven was floating in the wind up the beach a bit and it "reversed" and dropped down to sit beside the first one. The first one set down the white thing ,we were perpendicular to them by now, and the two of them looked about and watched us walk past. We were about 20m away, quite close to a raven, they normally fly away or you don't get that close in the first place. As we walked on the 2nd raven flew off again. The first one then started to dig a hole in the upright wall of the dune. It then proceeded to pick up the white object, put it in the hole it had dug and seal the hole over.

The 2nd raven kept in the air whilst this was going on.

I have never seen ravens behaving like this before, I know they are really intelligent but I can't work out what it was the raven was burying or why. I discounted going over and digging out the hole to be nosy. Rather rude to do so I thought.

Wonderful to observe.

A trip to the 2nd hand bookshop then lunch and a pint or two of guinness rounded off the afternoon.

A meal in D'arceys later on was very nice indeed. A nice spot, pay it a visit if you are in Portrush. Of course, after the meal it was nowhere else but Funland and a frantic half hour of video game mayhem and a game of air hockey.

Darth Vader kicked my ass.

Never get into a lightsabre fight on a full stomach.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday philosophy

I have decided, a few weeks ago in fact, to change my negative thinking and embrace positivity.
Instead of constantly reacting to outside factors I plan my day before I get out of bed and focus on certain things I want in life.

Though the possibility exists of complete self delusion, I do believe it's working.
This please me greatly and family have noticed my new postive outlook on life.
Sitting at home with pneumonia after a month of feeling bloody awful made me think that maybe my attitude was shaping my reality.

Over the years I have read volumes of books on this subject and recently some friends passed on the names of some more. I read them, dismissed one as having the grain of "truth" but being a conglomeration of quantum physics ideas and new agey bullshit. The other laid off the physics and concentrated more on how only the individual can manifest their own reality.

Nothing new here at all really. Coinciding with getting pneumonia I felt I needed a positive direction to this big adventure.

Well, I've been in a great mood for a while now, most unusual, and I enjoy it.

I was the kid in hospital reading a book called "Cosmic Consciousness" at the age of 14.

Destiny? ;-)

Kitchen whizz

Mrs M’s birthday was the other day and I promised a three course meal.

Starter- Stewed long peppers and yogurt sauce

Main- Butternut squash gnocchi with garlic spinach cream.

Dessert- Italian applecake with cinnamon chocolate cream.


I got in from work early, having planned my menu and aquired the ingredients.

I hit the ground running when I got in to the house and had an Italian apple cake mix on the go for dessert. I got the recipe from the Silver Spoon. Huge tome, only translated into English in the last couple of years. It has some interesting recipes for brains.

Ok, applecake made and into the oven.

I had prepared some of the main course the night before, to wit, I had roasted a butternut squash and 5 cloves of garlic.

I made the sauce for the main course which involved 100mls white wine, 100mls light stock and the roasted garlic. This was blended and sieved into a pan and reduced by half.
I let it cool down and added 300mls of cream and reduced it. As I was doing this I was making the yogurt sauce for the peppers which had been made ready for the oven.

The applecake turned out perfect and when I took it out I put the peppers into the oven.

Multi tasking…just about.

Starter turned out well and tasted great. Though I have made it better previously.

After the starter it was time to make the gnocchi.

The recipe stated a fixed amount of flour. My butternut squash absorbed that and yelled for more. Quite a bit more in fact. The dough turned out well and I had a pan of boiling salted water ready for it. I made the gnocchi and put them in the pan in two batches. The amount of dough made would feed 6 people, so I froze half of it for future use.

I heated up the sauce and the gnocchi were ready in a couple of minutes.

Once the next batch was done it was time to eat.

My sister gave me the recipe from a book we had bought her. A Café Paradiso book. The best food I have ever eaten.

Oh wow, it tasted fantastic. I will be using the sauce recipe for other things also. It was very filling. Really, really tasty. In fact I took the leftovers for lunch in work yesterday. Not so good microwaved, cream sauces always die. Still very tasty though.

I shall be making this again, and again and again!!

A little break was taken before dessert, in fact Mrs M was so full she took the merest wafer of cake. She wasn’t fussed on the dessert wine so I drank it.

Boy did I have a sorehead the next day. Not only did I drink the dessert wine but I had half a bottle of Chablis with Mrs M and I polished off 3/4s of a bottle of rioja on my own.

From 4.30 pm until near midnight so no suffering a la Manuel. Thankfully.

Mrs M was delighted with the three course meal, I was happy I was able to do it all and get drunk at the same time without injuring myself or ruining anything. I wouldn’t chance it too often though.
I was exhausted after all this and spent last night sitting on my ass waiting for a plumber who didn’t show up. That will be for another posting sometime in the future.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mouldy old dough

I took yesterday off and didn't do too much other than a few household chores and make a loaf.

I had to use what flour I had so the loaf ended up being 700 grams white flour, 200 grams rye flour and 100 grams wheat flour.
I would normally go for more wheat than rye but I only had 100 grams of wheat flour left.

2/3rds of Led Zeppelin III later and I had some good (organic) dough to be put into the tin to prove.

I punched it down after about an hour and a half and let it prove for another 45 minutes or thereabouts.
Pre heated the oven to 220 C and put the dough in and turned the oven down to 200. 35 minutes later I took it out and tapped the bottom to see if it was ready. Always a risky business this as handling the tin and the loaf with oven gloves means the risk of dropping the lot or getting my arm singed.

No inadvertent self harm and my loaf went on to the rack (bread torture, moi?).

Mrs M and I just had some for lunch.

The verdict?

Fucking marvellous and really tasty.

I love making bread. It has taken me 4 years to get it right everytime.

My Dad started it and got it right everytime from the get go
He used a dough hook on a mixer, I knead by hand.

Jammy beggar.
I have the moral highground though he makes bread that is truly fantastic

Funky Mofotastic

Jools is back with a BANG !!!!

Richard Hawley - marvellous.

Soil and Pimp Sessions - funkymofotastic !!

Needless to say I am buying their back catalogue as I type.


Siouxie Sioux- alright, Mrs M say it sounds like Goldfrapp.
Hard fi are shite and no mistake. Bleugh.
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