Tag Archives: Food

Half a bottle of wine later…

…my equanimity is on it’s way to being restored… and we’re in Tallahassee after yet another satnag failure at a critical juncture. For four hundred miles the bloody thing behaves itself impeccably, but ten important minutes from our destination our route gets erased. Wiped. Eradicated. AWOL. Now I was driving and I’m naming no names, but there’s only two of us in the car, and one was supposed to be reading instructions off the screen to the driver. Now I wonder who that could be? Cough, “User error” cough. Bloody thing.

Anyway, I’ve decided to save our destinations as offline bookmarks in future, so a certain person, yes dear, can’t lose our directions because there won’t be any. Directions that is. Just a general set of instructions because whenever there’s a set of road works appear blocking off our plotted route so does a certain persons navigational flexibility and it’s all tears before bedtime.

Fortunately I took the precaution of memorising the directions to our hotel for tonight, and apart from some arse parking a bloody big red bus blocking our turn, I followed the Sticker family motto that I learned from my late mother which goes; “If at first you don’t succeed – cheat.” Well, it works for me. You have to know what the rules are to understand when they can be considered mere guidelines and broken on the rack of experience. Adapt and improvise, that sort of thing. Vocibus nihil mali est? (No harm, no foul, right?) Whatever.

We are here ready for the next hop to Jacksonville, but the launch I wanted to catch has been rescheduled for June, so we’ll be going to Daytona Beach instead. Rule two: always have a fallback option. Anyway, I’ve had the lions share of a bottle of wine so I’m not really bothered. Well, you can’t win ’em all. Time for bed, said Zebedee. It’s been a long day on the road and I’m ready to crash.

Oh yes, if you’re in the USA and need a good low carbohydrate feed, the carnivores among you could do a whole lot worse than visit Dickey’s barbecue pit. They might not have Wi-Fi, but they sure as hell do cook great barbecue meat meals. Tell them Bill sent you, and just watch their faces go blank.

Nighty night.

Portion sizes and associated matters

Shortish run out of Sacramento this morning so we doglegged out from Fresno up into the mountains. And doglegged. Then switchbacked and hairpinned up to the Grand Sequoia National Park and all the way back on a road that swerved and curved like a rattlesnake with a migraine all the way back down again.Five thousand feet and climbing

Mrs S, in the passenger seat for this leg of the trip, kept telling me to slow down because all the sidewards motion was inducing travel sickness. So for the sake of a quiet life I lifted my foot off the gas, keeping it hovering over the brake pedal instead, returning us safe and sound to the broad sandy valleys of Southern California.

I will say this, the mountain routes are a stunning drive in good weather, not so much when the clouds close in, and no fun at all when the snows hit. Fortunately we didn’t have to cope with any traffic, and all threat of projectile dashboard decoration was avoided.

We were rewarded by a drive down long roads lined with tens of miles of Orange and Olive groves. Yes, tens of miles, not kilometres or yards. Mile after mile of trees laden with oranges, dozens of windfalls dotting the sandy soil around each trunk. Incredible. Our route also took us through a working oilfield. Hundreds of nodding donkey oil pumps pulling black gold out of the ground and into pipelines and storage tanks, which my copilot totally failed to photograph. Sorry.

After booking in at our hotel, we stopped for a takeaway chicken and salad supper, forgetting the American generosity with foodstuffs. Two of us couldn’t even eat half of what we were served with, so now the leftovers, enough to make a substantial lunch tomorrow while we pootle through Death Valley into Lost Wages, have taken pride of place in our hotel room fridge. “Do you want Dessert?” Asked our baseball capped server before we’d seen the amount of chicken we were served with. Just as well we declined. There is no way we’d have even nibbled at the edges. Seriously, either our appetites are shrinking or the portion sizes are growing. There’s simply too much to eat. So we put it aside for an alfresco luncheon tomorrow.

Note to self; lesson learned. One US portion equals two Canadian. Do not forget.

A musical interlude

Yay! Have updated my music collection with some oldies but goodies for our impending sashay over the border. However, this is not without it’s downside. Mrs S voiced concern that our little SUV’s CD player would not play my purchases. I said “What? They’re CD’s, not DVD’s, of course it’ll play them.” But nothing I could say would placate her and I ended up sitting in the car for an hour and a half last night test playing the opening bars of every song. In the case of David Bowie, Steely Dan and one specific Queen track, I played whole songs, twice. Loud enough to make the car doors vibrate and all fourteen new CD’s worked perfectly. Including the track below, which was on one of the CD’s that got sacrificed when we sold up and made our leap of faith across the Atlantic in ’07.

All in all, quite a nice trip down memory lane. Yes, yes, I know I could have downloaded them as MP3’s, but having the CD after I’ve ripped the songs to my hard drive means we can play them in the car using either a USB drive on shuffle, or the cars CD player if we’re in the mood for back to back Bowie or suchlike. So this morning I busied myself organising my collection into one of those little fifty CD carrying cases so while on the road so the non-driver can pick and choose an epic soundtrack for whatever scenery we happen to be passing through.

While I was performing this mundane task prior to preparing Mrs S’s breakfast, I let my mind drift onto the subject of breakfast cereals. Now I’m not a fan, far too much wheat and corn for my liking. Not my thing because I’m still a bacon and eggs kind of chap. For me, most breakfast cereals are not only boring, but there’s far too much carbohydrate and processed sugar in them for my liking. Now for breakfast I generally get Mrs S a variant on a Parfait every morning, which is served in a largish sundae glass. Dead easy to make; Two generously heaped teaspoons of Balkan Yoghurt, a serving spoon full of Granola on top, two more heaped teaspoons of the same yoghurt covered with a sprinkling of bran flakes, walnuts and dried cranberries, sometimes capped with a little chopped apple or strawberries in season, serve and smile. I’m not keen, but she who cannot be ignored has declared it ‘healthy’. So there. But herein lies the rub; the commercial version of Granola tends to be polluted with wheat, wheatgerm and similar packing material, which Mrs S says does not agree with her. Now normally I purchase a Spelt, Flax, and Dried Cranberries variant, but of late this has been withdrawn from sale locally. Soo, being the inventive type I am, I spent five minutes looking up Granola recipes online and adapted one for my purposes.

A quick raid of the kitchen cabinets found all the necessary ingredients; rolled oats, demarara sugar, honey, vanilla essence, whole plain almonds, chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.

My home made granola was produced thusly; put three heaped cupfuls of rolled oats into a big mixing bowl, add half a cup of chopped walnuts, half a cup of chopped almonds, just over half a cup of dried cranberries and half a cup of demerara sugar, then mix until evenly distributed. Following that mix in a tablespoon of honey and a few spots of vanilla essence. To cook; lay out a large foil pizza tray and preheat the oven to 120 Celsius (about 250 Farenheit), spread the mix out on the tray and shove it into preheated oven for fifty minutes. Pull out and leave to cool before decanting into an airtight container ready for use.

Mrs S declared upon taste testing the result “This is good Bill. Bet you can’t do it again.”

Oh yes I can. ‘Cos I wrote it down. Nyer, ner, ne nyer-ner.

Update:  Mrs S has just announced she can’t use my home made granola because I made it with brown sugar and honey, and she’s not having any sugar any more (Yeah, right).  So I’m making a sugar free batch without honey.  Oven roasted like before, but you know what?  I wish she’d let me know before making these arbitrary decisions.  Heavy sigh.

 

On the plus side I’ve plugged a couple more holes in my music collection with Blackfoot Sue’s classic ‘Standing in the road‘, and R Dean Taylor’s ‘Ghost in my house‘, ‘Indiana wants me‘ and ‘Gotta see Jane‘.

Chowderhead

I confess. I’m becoming a full blown chowderhead, but not in the classical definition. No. Today I shout my new found affiliation from the rooftops. I love chowder! I’m getting quite good at it too, developing my own recipes from the many variants out there on the jolly old Interweb.

Over these comparatively mild Winter months, Mrs S and I have elected to eat a little more frugally, as our mainly sedentary jobs don’t involve burning up a whole lot of calories to keep warm. So I’ve been batch cooking in the kitchen and storing my output in the freezer, ready to be taken out and defrosted for a hearty late lunch. My current chief favourites are; Tiger shrimp and Basa fish with mixed veg; Chicken, bacon and sweetcorn and variants thereof, and they’re pretty easy to make. Guaranteed brownie points and a Nobel Peace prize.

All you need for this particular gastronomic delight are the basics; onion, potato, celery, sweet corn niblets (canned or frozen) chicken, bacon, flour, salt, black pepper and garlic or garlic powder, oh yes, and water. For seafood variant, simply replace the chicken and bacon with your preferred frozen or fresh (but never canned) seafood. There are ugly rumours that you can make a totally vegan chowder by substituting bean curd or Quorn, but as I’m not a fully paid up follower of Leopold Ritter von Sacher-Masoch I won’t be turning my culinary eyes to that corner of the kitchen, ta very muchly.

Now chowders are meant to be thicker than a Vice President of the United States, but far more tasty. That is, almost dense enough to stand a spoon up in. Gloriously glutinous, cheerfully chunky, and stick to yer ribs slick. Anything else is just soup.

To achieve such a state of nutritional nirvana, simply follow this basic recipe and you can happily disappear, leaving only a simple message reading; “Missing, presumed fed.” while your stomach hugs your spine to say thank you. Oh yes. It’s that good. Well, I think so, anyway. My blog, my opinion, so there.

Right. Here we go. Chop up one very large onion fairly finely. Likewise one stick of celery. Put the celery and onion in a very large saucepan over a low heat with about a tablespoon of cooking oil, canola is okay, as is vegetable oil. For that little extra edge, a dollop (tablespoon) of peanut or olive oil can be substituted. Leave to sweat down and soften thoroughly. Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or two crushed and finely chopped cloves of garlic may be added after it’s all gone slick and semi-translucent. Some authorities advocate a large pinch of allspice, others chilli. But as seasoning is such a personal thing, I’ll leave that to you.

While the onion and celery is on the go, take one cardboard (skinless and boneless) chicken breast, or three boneless chicken thighs. Chop into small chunks. Do likewise with two rashers of bacon. Put on one side. Mix a tablespoon of flour with salt and black pepper, roll the chicken and bacon chunks in the flour. Heat up a tablespoon of cooking oil (Canola, Olive, Peanut, Vegetable, whatever) in a frying pan and throw in the floured chunks, turning and stirring almost constantly until light gold. Keep the remaining flour mix. You’ll need it.

Take a baking potato and partially (over 50%) cook it in your microwave (If no microwave, peel and dice spud, the only difference will be to extend the cooking time by half an hour). Remove potato skin and cut into thumbnail size chunks. Add chunks to the frying chicken and bacon and keep stirring. As the chicken is turning light gold, add a cupful of sweetcorn niblets and fry gently with the potatoes, chicken and bacon. When chicken is cooked through and can be easily cut with a wooden spoon, add frying mix to the pan of softened onion and celery. Stir. Add enough water to the same level as the mix in the pan. Do not cover with water. Bring to a slow simmer and stir every five minutes or so. Do this for half an hour.

If you have a liquidiser or blender, ladle in two or three medium ladlefuls (about half a cup size) of the chicken, bacon, potato onion and celery mix. Blitz. Put liquidised mix back into the main cooking pan. At this point take the remaining seasoned flour mix and add water until it’s the consistency of thin mud. Add flour and water mixture to slowly seething mass of chowder in the large saucepan. Stir every five minutes or so.  Keep on heat until reduced to a thick, glutinous and chunky consistency, tasting the mix periodically to ensure it is neither too watery and bland, or too salty. Add salt and black pepper to taste. A little extra garlic or garlic powder can be added at this late stage, just to get the desired flavour.

When you’re happy with the taste, take chowder off the heat and decant a couple of ladlefuls into a bowl. Cut some fresh bread or get some crackers. If you’re feeling really posh you can sprinkle a pinch of fresh parsley to give a little visual appeal. Eat. Enjoy. Relax. Let your taste buds do the talking. Think deep thoughts. Solve the worlds multiple crises. Chowder is so good it can help you do this. Although it is recommended that you do not try to leap tall buildings in a single bound afterwards, no matter how good you feel, as that kind of behaviour always ends in tears, charges of criminal damage and multi million dollar civil lawsuits.

When the rest of the chowder left in the pan has cooled, decant into some one or two serving freezer containers, and when cooled completely, seal these and put in the freezer for future consumption. You know it makes sense.

TTFN

Doomsday

Tonight I’m ferrying Mrs S to a work related potluck ‘Do’ downtown, and have promised to ride to the rescue with the promise of red wine and chocolate when she’s finally lost patience with the mandatory Vegetarian and teetotal catering these events seem to attract. Why vegetarian? I have no idea. Unless of course this is an experiment in social exclusion. Personally I’d give it a miss, or deliberately take sausage rolls, claiming they’re flavoured Tofu.  However, as these people are key to her job, Mrs S feels obligated to go.  So we’ll be raiding the Deli counter at our local Thrifty’s this afternoon.

For those of you not familiar with North American custom, or not residing in the not so frozen North, see the definition of ‘potluck’ below.

pot·luck
ˌpätˈlək/
noun
used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be good or acceptable.
“he could take potluck in a town not noted for its hotels”
NORTH AMERICAN
a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish.
“a potluck supper”

To my mind there is nothing remotely lucky about vegetarianism.  From a dietary standpoint it’s more like a form of masochism with no real health benefits.  However, some people are into BDSM and that sort of thing, but like veganism etc, I’d prefer if they kept it amongst themselves.

Danger warning robotNotwithstanding….. Danger!  Warning, warning Will Robinson!  Incoming Asteroid Alert!  Well kind of.  Possibly.  Maybe.  Not really.  Which might come as a reason to forgo the dubious delight of an evening of enforced vegetarianism.  If only said astronomical event was happening this evening.

What’s actually true is asteroid 2013 TX68, a hundred foot wide (All right, 30 metre) piece of space rock is due to pass, at closest approach, 0.044 Lunar Distances or 0.00015 Astronomical Units and change from Earth, which works out around about 14673.322 Miles between March 5th and 8th 2016.  At around 14.5 metres per second.  At least according to the NASA small body database.  Wikipedia quotes 0.06 Lunar Distances (12,000 km; 7,400 mi). Which is quite close.  Very close by astronomical measurements.  An impact remains a distinct possibility.

Now the orbital data is well known, but what we don’t know is the density if 2013 TX68 does take a last second detour into, rather than past dear old planet Earth.  Which can be the difference between the firework display of a bolide type detonation in the atmosphere like the Chelyabinsk Meteor (Of which 2013 TX68 is twice the size) in the case of porous or even dense rock, or an unsightly crater in someone’s back yard around eight hundred and fifty metres across if it’s a nickel iron body.  Which can play havoc with the Crocuses and ruin that nice rockery you’ve just put together.  However, if you’ve always wanted an ornamental lake or waterfront property opportunities in your neighbourhood, then this is the asteroid impact for you.  Although local real estate prices might take a bit of a dive in the immediate aftermath.  I try to retain a positive outlook, and am inclined to think that with the right financial planning, doomsday can be converted into financial boomsday.

For those so inclined, you can have endless fun scaring yourself silly with Purdue University’s asteroid impact calculator here.

If you are planning to miss this specific apocalypse not by pulling a sickie, please be aware that 5th March 2016 is a Saturday.  The good news, for a given value of ‘good’, specifically for those at the point of impact, is that you won’t have to worry about Monday mornings any more.

Planning on having a lazy day to myself.

Squirrel!

squirrel-up-dog-gifFrom a recent news item comes information vital to our civilisations survival.  Via the Igors at the Bill Sticker Institute for Assorted Trivia I bring dire news of a global conspiracy.  A real one.  Not local like most terror threats but one whose breadth truly does affect all humanity.  Friends, we are under assault from the most effective cyber attacks ever imagined by a delusional paranoid schizophrenic completely off their meds, with or without added LSD. Oh yes, it’s that bad.

We’re not talking about Cyber attacks by Anonymous, or China, Daesh, threats to civil liberties by the very people sworn to protect us or even zombie armies looking to snack on what little brains we have left after watching daytime TV.  We’re talking about a real threat, responsible for genuine power outages and all manner of suicide attack as well as nut theft on an industrial scale.  The real enemy is….. Squirrels.

Cybersquirrel with bluetoothInformation is emerging of the sheer magnitude of these assaults on our civilisation. A map of power outages caused by these Decepticon borg-like creatures can be viewed here.  The heinous acts by these creatures include causing multi-vehicle pile ups, single squirrel kamikaze attacks on drivers in open topped vehicles, with invasions of licensed premises and failure to pay for their own drinks tab.  Not to mention the recent California terror rampage and reports of Vampire squirrels targeting deer. Even major sporting events are not immune. The list goes on.

So what can we do, how can we protect ourselves from these random terror attacks? What is the actual depth and scope of the threat we face? Most of the attacks appear to be a ‘suicide’ variant; Squirrels throwing themselves under the wheels of traffic or into sensitive infrastructure thus terrorising entire communities. How do we identify the threat?

CybersquirrelThe problem with threat identification is as demonstrated in this rare picture of a cybersquirrel caught off guard by a courageous camera person, who, although they took this picture using an extremely long lens, was shortly thereafter ambushed and hospitalised by several lightsabre wielding assailants later pictured fighting amongst themselves over credit for the ‘kill’ (See below).

Lightsabre squirrels So what are we to do in the face of a threat more real than global warming, mad bankers, room temperature IQ politicians, rogue asteroids, alien invasions and people who forget to carve new calendars? Fear not. I have a solution, but I would caution my last remaining reader to sit down with a stiff drink before proceeding further because what I am about to propose may seem unpleasant and may even make you nauseous. Are you sitting comfortably? Okay, brace yourself. My proposal is that we have to eat them. All of them. Every last single tree rat has to go. Before these cybersquirrels bring our brave 21st century civilisation and all the comforts we have come to rely on crashing to it’s knees. Because it really is them or us.

It may be the only chance we humans have left……..

No snow

Well, not in our part of Victoria.  From our back window I can see some on the hills a few miles north, but seeing we’re at the approximately same latitude as Chartres, France,  Vienna in Austria and Sakhalin, north of Japan, we aren’t expecting any until late January.   Although ‘wet flurries’ have been forecast for the first week in January 2016.

At the moment we’re having a run of quite deep frosts (For Victoria). About -6 or thereabouts. Nothing to write home about, but it can make walking in leather soled shoes a little challenging.

One thing that can thaw a frosty heart is the promise of a good Sunday roast, which in our case is Pork, something which the Canadians do frightfully well.  I cook it rind on, with plenty of crackling. How? Oh how remiss of me, I’ve not posted the recipe, I abase myself for such uncharacteristic thoughtlessness.  For my rite of absolution, keep reading.

Roast pork and cracklingNow I base my own recipe on this article, but it’s the method that counts.

To get first class crackling; Buy a rind (skin) on Pork shoulder. 2lbs (A kilo) is fine for a modest joint that will provide a meal and sandwiches for the rest of the week for one or two people if sliced thinly. Do not buy if the rind and fat have been removed. Fat is key to the flavour and despite what the ignorant will tell you, is not harmful because ‘dietary’ fat is not that digestible and does not directly convert to body fat or cholesterol. Have the skin scored (cut into quarter inch or 6mm strips) just so the skin itself is cut through, or cut it yourself. Do not cut through the underlying fat to the meat. A Stanley or craft knife, the sharper the better, is ideal for this purpose. Now rub with cooking oil and salt.

If your joint has been frozen, leave out for at least 24 hours in a fridge to defrost prior to cooking, and make sure the scored skin is completely dry before rubbing with oil and salt. As for the rub, be generous, say a large pinch (A half teaspoon) of salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. If you want to try olive oil, be my guest, but my recipe works and uses bog standard cooking oil. Put a smear of apple sauce on the underside of the joint, or cook with a large Bramley cooking apple in the roasting pan.

Pre-heat your oven to 230 Celsius (450F) and put prepared joint in a roasting dish, rind upward. Place in oven for ten minutes when the oven gets to temperature. This will ‘set’ the salt in the rind. After ten minutes, turn oven down to 180 Celsius (350F) at 22-5 minutes a pound or half kilo. Anything more will dry out the joint and leave you with pork of a flavour and texture resembling cardboard. Use the approximate cooking times below and it should turn out reet champion.

Cooking times and temperatures*
2lb (0.9kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @45 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
3lb (1.36kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @65 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
4lb (1.81kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @90 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
5lb (2.26kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @115 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)

When the ‘cooking time’ has come to an end, stick a skewer into the joint. If the resulting juice runs clear it’s done, and the rind just needs a quick blitz for fifteen to twenty minutes under your ovens ‘grill’ setting to get it to ‘crackle’.   If the juice runs pink, depending upon how big your joint is, give it another thirty minutes,  if still too red, you forgot to switch the oven on, dimwit.

Keep an eye on the joint in the final stage to get the crackling to your taste. This blog cannot be held responsible for results if you aimlessly meander off to do something else while you should have had your mind on the job of cooking. Let the phone and the doorbell ring. They’re probably not anyone important.

Cooking can be held as a metaphor for life in general; pay attention and do things properly and you will be rewarded time out of measure. Be forgetful or unfocussed, and your desired outcome will not happen. Thus you will die a withered husk, embittered and resentful and devoid of the sense of species fellowship good cooking makes of all humanity.

For the ideal accompaniment, roast potatoes (roasties) can be produced simply by heating a dish with a little oil in, throw in uncooked potatoes cut into chunks into the heated dish. flip the potatoes to coat with oil, sprinkle with a little dried Rosemary or Thyme and black pepper. Perchance a mere strinkling of salt. Leave in same oven as joint of pork for an hour and a half or until golden and crispy. Roast parsnips can be prepared in much the same fashion and add a sweet counterpoint to the roasties. Please note; cooking roast potatoes in the same roasting tray as the joint may leave you with soggy roasties, which in my view is not a desirable outcome. Prepare green vegetables of choice. Make gravy in the traditional English manner as outlined here and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

When the pork is cooked to perfection, lift off crackling, leave meat to ‘rest’ for ten minutes while finishing off veg and gravy. Lay table, slice joint, humbly accept much deserved praise. Be prepared to fight for a portion of crackling.

Have a nice day.

*I have an older model oven for which these cooking times are valid. These timings should not be considered definitive and should only be used as rough guidelines.  There is no substitute for simply paying attention. 

New year resolutions

Well, they certainly don’t include giving up drinking because I have two decent single malts and a bottle of Famous Grouse gracing my drinks cabinet.  Nor eating meat, which I won’t be giving up because there are no measurable health benefits to doing so.  And I won’t be giving up  smoking.  Talking of which;

I will be restricting myself to taking a little more moderate exercise (Brisk daily walks), completing my college courses and working a little smarter.

A very Happy New Hangover to everyone……

P.S. I haven’t smoked for over a quarter of a century….. I’ve been restricting myself to giving smouldering looks…… (Evil snigger)

And finally….

This is a timed post, as I’m probably busy cooking and eating (Although not simultaneously) a seasonal repast. I will also have consumed far more alcohol than others might deem advisory, but then I rarely take the advice of advisories, unless of course……….

But if you’re into over indulgence in a big way……

TTFN

Bill

Merry wossname….

Ah, it’s that time of year again; the tills of Yuletide are ringing, credit cards are melting under the stress and tempers are shortening, even if it’s not really a certain religious figures birthday. Truly, it’s not.

In our household there’s a nice leg of pork in the freezer waiting to be thawed out and converted into a sizzling roast topped with well-salted crackling and served with apple sauce. Said meat to be served with thick gravy, roast potatoes and buttered sprouts with a liberal sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper followed by New York style Cheesecake and a litre bottle of Sauvignon blanc, or maybe a Carmenere or Cabernet. The aforementioned will be served with much ceremony on the 24th, then repackaged with other cold meats, pickles and cheeses for the 25th when the cook of the household (me) is having the day off with a good book and bottle of single malt after a Champagne breakfast of Smoked Salmon and scrambled eggs. Our household will remain a Turkey-free zone until at least the 29th. Possibly not even after then, either. Drawbridge up, portcullis down, electric fence on, minefield along front path active, Piranha tank trapdoor set.

The Igors have already gone off on their seasonal break to spread their unintelligible lisps elsewhere. The kids will be talking to us via Skype but the TV and radio will remain firmly off. I may check the weather forecast online, but nothing more. The object of said time out being to relax so we’ll be refreshed and ready for whatever crises other people thrust upon us. As they will, for ’tis the season, etcetera, etcetera.

Myself, nowadays I prefer to gently decerebrate with a good book and bottle of single malt while the rest of the world stresses itself out over Mithrastide / Solstice / Whatever. However I’d like to wish both my readers to have a really nice time, because I’m sure some mean sod will try to ruin it. Even at a feast time when all is supposed to be about joy, good fellowship and all that shizzle, there are some people so happy to be miserable that they’ll try to spread their misery around. As far as I’m concerned they can Fuck off and die. As a public service announcement the local Police Department have asked those so inclined not to litter the streets with their discarded bodies as this may incur a fine of up to two thousand dollars per offence and may constitute a public health hazard. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Please note; no halls were decked with holly during the writing of this post. A little tinsel and some baubles are judiciously situated around our apartment, but no Holly and definitely no Ivy, even if full grown. A few carefully chosen gifts have been placed under the mantelpiece and no trees were sacrificed either, because we just couldn’t be arsed.

Oh yeah, for any male with a drop of red blood still circulating, watch this video from boxing day 1969.

Comments disabled, but WTF cares? The cameraman certainly didn’t. The young lady in question looks about 18-19 then so she’d be around 64-65 by now, and probably a Grandmother. Which is a sobering thought and probably noteworthy. A very merry, and possibly thoughtful thingummy to you all…….