Tag: food

Pursuit of Fitness.

Getting fit.

Trip down memory lane, me running the Cheshire Corporate Challenge.

People always say that you shouldn’t try to make too many significant changes in your life,  at the same time.

My experiences, have consistently been the opposite. When I started a new Job, 5 months ago, I committed to losing some weight. I comfortably lost a stone in the first 8 weeks (all of this going on, while adjusting to a new company, new working hours, new systems etc).

I’ve managed to maintain my weight at this level, through sensible balance, and lifestyle choices. The next step now, is to get physically fit. I’m not convinced, £40 per month in gym membership would give me value for money. That cash (if I had it) would be better spent saving for a holiday.

Instead, I have worked out a route around town, that’s about 4 miles, and I run it 3 to 4 times per week. Will I be able to keep it up through the cold winter nights ?. Well, I’ll let you know what happens.

Steak Night.

Steak Preperation.

I set myself 2 cookery goals per month. This month, it’s Steak, and Beef and Guinness Pie.

The idea is that I buy the ingredients, invite a friend around, and then cook the meal and get them to tell me what they think. Just like my work in technology, the emphasis is on certainty. Too many people in my opinion, use the word “know” when they actually mean “reckon”.

When I say that I can cook a vegetarian curry, that doesn’t mean I’ve seen it in a book and can probably do it, that means I’ve prepared it, cooked it and eaten it, alongside one of my friends. That way, if I need to cook that dish again, I have the confidence of knowing, I’ve tried it and succeeded.

I decided to cook Steak first (The pies are being cooked on the 26th, if anyone is nearby) and invite my old mate Glenn, who I know, likes Steak.

I took my experimentation further, by purchasing different steaks, to see if there really is a difference (I normally eat my steak well done, and people have said there’s no point in buying expensive stuff for that. I wanted to test it).

I bought a Tesco finest organic steak for Glenn. Nearly half a pound, Sirloin. I bought myself 4 pieces of Rump Steak, from Iceland. Roughly the same weight, both steak “items” cost about the same.

I’m ambitious in the kitchen, but the key here, is to be realistic. I decided not to try and make my own peppercorn sauce, so I bought that in.

The other novel thing, was I decide to cook the steaks on a grill pan, to make the cookery sort of “interactive”, so Glenn could get involved, and get his steak cooked the way he wanted it, rather than me bringing it in, the way I thought he wanted it.

The finished Steak.

I learned a really cool way, to steam vegetables in a microwave oven. Served with the Steak, and off we go.

Like any good guest, Glenn, bought a bottle of Red (I don’t believe in God, but if he is real, I believe that he made Red wine, to be drunk while eating steak).

So, was it a success. Glenn told me he enjoyed, it, and since he’s the guest, that’s good enough for me. What do I think ? I enjoyed my steak, but 2 crows don’t make an eagle, and loads of cheap steak, is no match for 1 big piece of quality meat. Lesson learned, and thanks to Glenn, for coming over.

Tables, Internet and the Cold war.

The picture above, shows the original table cloth, that I bought in Thailand, a couple of years ago. I do quite a lot of work on the dining table (not when people are actually eating on it) and I decided that a blue cotton one, would be better for day to day use, so I bought one on Saturday. .

I wasn’t sure whether/how to, iron the table cloth, so I google’d “iron a table cloth”. A host of websites appeared (I love the way Google lists as you type now, its awesome). I picked one called how to, and it gave loads of useful advice, and cloth and table, were as one, on not time.

I also washed some curtains. I wasn’t sure how to Iron them, so tried a similar google. Completely different this time, I get extensive listings on the Cold war, Churchills speach, Gobachev, etc. Made me smile. I suppose that’s what you get when you google “iron curtain”.

I’ve been using freegle for a couple of weeks (Its the new name for free-cycle) I was trying to get a 3 seater sofa, to replace the 2 seater one I have (in truth, I really miss lying down and watching TV).

You post, either with things you want to give away, or things you are offering.  The basic idea is that you help the environment and improve the local community, by offering things you don’t need to people. That way contents of landfills are reduced and things like prams, which only have certain life span in a home, are passed around for the better good of all.

I havent seen any sofa’s, but some people have actually posted, asking for play stations 3’s and cars, which I think is a bit deluded.

One thing did inspire me. There’s a guy on there, who gets collects computer parts. He then builds them into fully working computers, which he gives away for nothing. He has just built his 264th !.

I read recently about Rebecca Javeleau, the 14 year old girl, who invited 15 people to her birthday party, but made the group public and ended up getting 21,000 invites.

The police said, they would station officers outside the house, for increased security. Okay she should have been more careful with her details, but will some psycho really turn up at the house.

From the books I’ve read on sociopathy its more likely, someone will just pick a house at random, or visit somewhere because he thinks god is speaking to him through the radio !.


Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.

White Collar, True Blood and Eureka have all just finished in the US. This week, House, Special Victims Unit (final series), Fringe, Stargate Universe and Dexter all start new series.

Spooks season 9 opened on BBC 1 the other evening, and it was pretty good. I have previously wondered how long they can drag out the same stuff, but this series seems quite good.

After recommendations from a friend, I watched the girl with the dragon tattoo. If you haven’t seen it, it really is excelent. Its tense and gritty with a very clever story. I couldn’t even guess who the killer was until the very end, which is quite unusual for me. Overall, brilliant.

On Saturday, I went to the cinema to see the sequel, the girl who played  with fire. What happened ?.Same characters, same actors, but this film had lost everything from the original.

Characters, you previously struggled to fathom, become transparent. A series of co-incidences, that challenged even my imagination, and a villain, who was right out of James Bond. No tension throughout the whole film and a “hero gets the girl ending” finished me off.

I hope the 3rd part is better.  Apparently, the first film is being re-made in Hollywood, so that will be even worse.

Walking the Edisbury Way.


Winter is coming, and Sundays walk was cold and embittered with rain. But no problem, we perused the map and off we went.  Amelia came along this weekend, and we met up with Tone at Helsby.

A quick walk up Helsby hill and a pause to enjoy the view. Back down the other side, we had through a series of paths, then wander up the hill.

Futuristic house Steppingstones.

Near the top of the hill, this futuristic house, called Stepping stones. Half of the house is underground. I wasn’t sure about photographing it, as it’s someone’s home, but its an amazing building as well, so I thought a photograph from this angle was a reasonable compromise.

Walking through corn fields.

Further along we head out into the hills, then follow the 5 miles back into Frodsham, along the Edisbury way. The path hadn’t been walked in a while, and you can see from this cornfield, we had to “Borneo” our way through sections of it.

Back at Frodsham, a pint in the Helter Skelter, and then train home.


Go Karting

I heard from an old friend, Kath Ladensowski recently. Turns out, like many of my other friends, she has set up her own business Aster Accountants.

Kath and I worked at Morris & Co some years ago, and I dug out this picture of a team event, Go Karting (just to show that its a small world, this picture was actually taken about 300 metres from where I now work).



Tone and I are off back to Horton on Ribblesdale on the 1st of October. We’ve rented a car (only £42 for 3 days !), and I’ve taken the friday off work. I’m quite looking forward to it, as I’ll get to see my uncle John, who I dont see very often (he lives there).

We are also meeting up with some of Tony’s friends from Social circles. Aside from money and time, one of the key challenges of organising trips and adventures, is find a ready supply of adventure ready people. I’m quite looking forward to meeting them.

I’m pretty fit, but I haven’t done the 3 peaks in 5 years and I’m now in my 40’s. I’m sure I’ll be able to do it, as I’ve said before to climb mountains, you need fitness and an unwillingness to quit. If I could only have one, it would be the 2nd.

I’ve done some overtime this month, so I’ll also be booking flights to Budapest in October. Okay, its not massive international travel on the scale I’ve done in recent years, but I didn’t want to go a whole year without getting on a plane.

I’m researching the trip at the moment, so I should have a full list of things to do and see. If you’ve been there, and have a recommendation for the city, post bellow.

Feeling like a teenager.

Never put your trust in an E111 form.

I had planned this weeks johnsunter.com out in advance, but an article I read this morning on BBC News, must take priority.

The Dudriges from London, went on Honeymoon to Corfu. They had decided not to have a Honeymoon after their wedding, as they couldn’t afford it, but family and friends chipped in to pay for it.

After a Romantic meal, Carrie went onto a balcony for some fresh air and ended up falling 30 feet and damaging here spine in 3 places.

It was at this point, they fell back on the reciprocal E111 card, which provides medical assistance in other European countries.

Once his wife was stabilised, Michael had to try and raise £16,000 to transport his wife home. Luckily,  local residents, credit cards, loans from family have raised the money and they are flying home today.

The sad fact, is that insurance that would have solved the problem, would have cost less than £10 (and probably £5 each) on something like moneysupermarket.com

You’ve probably read stories like this one before. If you do nothing else today, commit to buying insurance for every trip that you take.

The Expendables.

The Expendables - utter rubbish, but made me feel like a teenager.

On Friday evening, I went to see the Expendables. It contains all the 80’s action hero’s in a kind of re-visitation of the genre. Well that’s what film critics have been saying, what do I think ?

In a story, that would have better fitted the A Team, I have tried to break it down.

The action:
Ultra violent, without a care. Explosions everywhere, knife fighting (with knives, that although moving slowly, make the kind of wisping sound that electrical cable makes, when it cuts the air !). Scenes of 30+ people meet ng their maker in one “sitting” and moments later, nothing is said of it. Rapid fire, explosive shell firing shotguns. The laissez-faire removal of body parts and infeasible knife throwing.

The plot (!):
Helpless women (who are tough, but helpless all the same), Buddy relationships, Sad moments of reflection, some awful attempt at explaining the meaning of life. Simple peasants who never do anything wrong of any kind. Despot dictators. The whole soldier of fortune with a conscience cobblers. Good people, trying to find their own way in the world, but “The Man” is keeping them down. The drinking of bottles of strong spirits, and minutes later, demonstrations of hand/eye co-ordination that would make an eye surgeon envious.

References to other films:
They are everywhere, in this film. The name Expendables, harks back to a conversation in Rambo First blood part II. People being thrown into burning rivers, is right out of Beast-master. The plain is a tip of the hat to Commando.

Other notable things:
Mickey Rourke plays a character called Tool. A hilarious Cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis (Arnie even seemed to be wearing 80’s clothing).

Overall, what did I think. Utter rubbish from beginning to end. But for 90 minutes, I felt like a teenager again. They just don’t make films like this any more and I hope they make a sequel.

On the subject of film/video, my old mate Jason, who runs Woodland Ways, bushcraft and survival school, has started a video diary, so you can remove the glamour and see what its like to run a bushcraft school.

The Chester film society re-opens its doors for the 40’th year. I went to see a film with them last year, and I’m intending to watch a few more this time.

A new African restaurant – The Coconut Hut.

The Coconut Hut, a new Restaraunt in Chester.

I’ve been trying out some budget places to eat again recently. A really nice (and rather unique) African restaurant has now opened on Brook street. Wasn’t keen on the name Coconut Hut, but the food was really good (I had Gemsbok stew, which was really nice). They also do a really good platter, with prawns and beef and stuff like that for a tenner a plate.

If makes a change from the standard fare you get in other restaurants. One word of caution, most people don’t associate African food with being hot. The stuff in here really is, I haven’t eaten anything hotter since I was in Thailand.

A simplified life with technology.

Tesco Automated check-out.

I’m always looking for ways to simplify my life (I have several books on this subject). I recently started using the Tesco automated Check-Out. It’s easily 3 times faster than conventional “tilling”.

The trick I have found, is to make sure you have all your cards/money etc to hand before you start. Its an amazing piece of technology and I’ve become addicted.


One of the replacement Rhino's near the Salmon Leap in Chester.

Rhino’s, why ?

In Chester we have some sort of themed Rhino thing going on. Personally, I think that the Rhino idea is tedious and un-original. I’ve seen something similar done in Singapore and Manchester.

One shop in 3 is closing on the Chester Rows, if this is the best thing the council can think of, to promote visitors to the city, they would do better, to get on with repairing the walls. A farce that they have been closed for a year, considering it was originally constructed 2000 years ago, from sandstone, mud and sawdust, built (like Offa’s dyke) by people using wooden shovels.

That said, why do people insist on vandalising them (like the one above). As stated earlier, I saw a similar project in Singapore, and none of their painted “things” got vandalised (but then you would get 5 strokes with a Rattan cane, shame we don’t do that here).

Radio 6.

BBC Radio 6

I was pleased to hear the other day, that Radio 6 is going to stay on the air. The BBC had previously argued that most of their listeners, like the content of Radio 1. But that’s the point. Any local radio station can stay in business, playing that kind of content.

The original idea of the BBC charter, was that they would be directly funded. If they wanted to make a documentary, about a story that really needed to be told, the wouldn’t have to worry who would pay for advertising in the breaks when it was eventually shown.

Radio 6 plays all sorts of really good music, and I believe its exactly the kind of thing the BBC is there to create. Frankly, having listened to Radio 1 for 2 days when helping Glenn at Antique Pine Imports, I think they should take Radio 1 down and put Radio 6 in its place.

On the subject of BBC, their news website, is consistently one of the 10 most popular sites on the internet (that’s no mean feat). They recently re-modelled it into a sort of magazine format. Reading it the other day, I read this disturbing story about a bloke in Dubai, who was broke, but had his passport confiscated, so couldn’t leave so was living on the street. Dubai. All that glitters isn’t gold.

Friends, TV and Films.


Well, the last couple of weeks have been pretty busy, recovering from sickness,travelling to visit friends etc.

Met up with Caz and Yvonne the other Friday, and Lee and Susan came as well. Every time I visit Manchester now, its changed a bit more. I cant believe what they’ve done with the Brunswick.

Talking of meeting up with friends, I finally finished migrating the interailing pictures over. They don’t really have a narrative (it was years ago now) but I think some of the pictures have a charm that tells a story all of its own. You can see them here and here.

This weekend, I took Friday as holiday and decided to just relax. I watched a total of 8 films over the weekend.

I took Friday off, and had a long weekend. I watched, Splice, Wolfman, Solomon Kane and the A Team. I also watched 8 episodes of the Sopranos (season 4 is really good).

In other TV Stuff, White Collar season 2 got of to an unconvincing start. Eureka blew me away, what I fantastic plot twist, right at the beginning. True Blood season 3 continues to be mediocre.

Recorded the new series of Sherlock Holmes. Its supposed to be set in the present day (they tried that with Jeckyle, and look what a mess they made of it) worst, after all the fuss, it turns out there are only 3 episodes to watch.

The changing role of Superhero’s.

Bitten by an Atomic Spider.

I tidied my house completely on Thursday evening. As many of you know, I hate chores to migrate into the weekend, I’ve never felt that was what weekends are for. I saw a dead spider while cleaning the house. I carried it to the bin, for a descent Christian burial, but on the way, I wondered for a moment, what would happen if the spider was just sleeping, and woke up and bit me.

Would I have a fever all night, and weird dreams. Would I wake in the morning able to climb walls, and and fire webs of goo, that nobody would ever clean up, yet the next day, when I was swinging through the city, would all seem to have gone.

Anyway, made me wonder. Does the superhero premise still work, in these modern times.

I mean, you always have images of a team of bank robbers being thwarted by Spiderman. Wouldn’t Spiderman himself, be breaking into the vault, stealing the bonuses of high flyers, and giving the money to low ranking bank staff who had been laid off.

Equally, instead of the Fantastic 4, stopping criminals from stealing priceless art collections from museums, be more likely to use the GPS system in their Fantasticar to find out where Fred the Shred lives, steal his paintings, then sell them and use the money to buy Christmas gifts for the children of his recently-made-redundant workforce ?

Hell’s creation.Pull-allong luggage. The devils creation.

After much thought, I’ve reached a decision. Pull-along luggage is  the worst invention ever created. Forget nuclear bombs, the gun or man made viruses, this device has created far more misery than all of the above put together.

Pull it along through the station fine, but then listen to sighs and gasps of annoyance, as we all stand behind you in the rain, while you can’t lift the thing (that you’ve over-packed) onto the train.

Alternatively, try pulling 2 at the same time across an airport waiting lounge, tripping people up, knocking over tables as you go.

Far simpler, why don’t you just take a bag. If its too heavy to put on your shoulder, then you’ve packed stuff “just in case” that you don’t need.


This week I hate: All my recycling facilities are less than 100m from my house. Why have they moved the can collector nearly a mile away !.

This week I like:  A program/internet app, called you send it. Recommended by the excellent Mell from work, it allows you to send massive files to people, they receive an email with a link that they can easily download. Brilliant invention.

Another brilliant thing I read was in The money diet, the book by the Money Saving Expert. While growing up, mum used to always say to re-fill the kettle, for the next person that wants a drink. Now, I completely empty my kettle, and fill it up, by filling the correct number of cups required with water.

One cup of tea, takes less than 30 seconds to boil. Efficiency, in both cost and time.

Congratulations to Matt Bridges, who has moved out of Chester, and now lives on the Wirral.

One final thing, I’ve had it with Facebook. I’m removing my friends and decommissioning my account (so please dont be offended, if you’ve been dropped as a friend, I’ll still email you. I’m just going to use Facebook, as I used to use Friends Reunited (remember that) to find people I’ve lost touch with.

Near and far, best wishes. The search for adventure continues…


North Cheshire Trail.

Well, I’ve always loved Chester, but I have to say, that living here has made me lazy. When I lived in Manchester, my house was 4 miles from the city centre (which was itself 1 and a half miles across).

In Chester, a pub called the Fat Cat, is considered to be out of town, as it is on the other side of a main road, off the main run of town ?. The whole of Chester city centre (in which I live) is a third of a mile across !.

Delightful then to be out walking again today, as I do most Sunday’s. There are some great trails, walk-able from Chester city centre, but as I now work in Warrington, I have a train pass, which allows me to travel to Helsby and Frodsham for “free”.

I’ve done sections of the Sandstone trail, but today, I decided to walk a part of the North Cheshire way. Most walkers that I meet around the area, just follow the signposts, which is fine. I find, that by using my map, and hard earned navigation skills, I can find alternative sections of the route, which are much quieter.

If you look at the picture above, you can see the grass has grown 2-3 inches, and that this section, has hardly been walked by anyone, in the last couple of days. Places like this are obviously very quiet, and with the undisturbed undergrowth, its possible to “track” which kind of animals have passed this way recently. In this case, its some birds, a fox and a man walking his dog.

I couldn’t work out what kind of dog, but it was a large one. I also deduced from the length of stride, that he is around 5 feet 8, and walks with a stick (although the impressions from the stick are light, and the foot pads are even, which shows that he has no walking problems, and simply carries the stick for pleasure).

As I wandered around the hills, I was reminded of a few years ago, in the Alps. I was doing a mountaineering course with Plas Y Brenin. In the evening, we went for a pint, and met up with the mountaineering club of Ireland. A great bunch of lads, they insisted on a sing song.

Thankfully, Sunday Bloody Sunday, wasn’t one of the tunes, but there, so many miles from home, we started singing The Manchester Rambler. I quite like my job. I know that a lot of people don’t, but I think we all get a slight apprehension on Sunday, knowing that we have to go to work the next day.

The thing for  me, is the fact that we HAVE to go to work. Many of us, would probably still want to anyway, but I think its the lack of freedom that leads to apprehension.

Going back 70 years, to when work for many people, wasn’t the creative challenge, it is today (the time, around the Kinder Scout mass tresspass, when the song was written) one line from the song, really hit me. “I may be a workslave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday”.

That’s the thing about walking. You can choose whichever route your fitness will allow. Walk, stop, drink, sit down, change your route, and do just about anything else whenever you like while walking. It is an illustration of one of our most fundamental rights, the freedom to roam.

Enough Philosophy. I am working hard to get fit, but after 4 and a half hours of walking up hill and down dale, I am quite exhausted. I finish of my water, and treat myself to a Mars bar.

Helsby's award winning station, with one of the vollunteers painting a bench.

I wander back to Helsby, to get the train. I pass the station every morning and evening, it has won many awards, for being one of the best kept stations in the country. That kind of award doesn’t come easily, and as I sat relaxing, waiting for the train, one of the volunteers arrived and started to paint a bench.

Two Monitors. I've waited a long time for those, and I'm delighted.

Things continue to go well at work.  There is a leaving do on Friday, and a few of us, are going for a pint. A year of unemployment, has changed me, so there will be none of my infamous hell-raising, just 2 pints, and then the train home.

One of the other cool things about my job, is that my employer has loads of really cool life balance schemes. One of them, enabled me to finally get 2 monitors for my computer. Its taken me a few years to catch on to the multi monitor idea, but it makes the kind of work I do at home, much faster.

I was talking to Lee the other day (Lee has a teenager at home, as many of my colleagues do). I was explaining a dilemma I had recently. Two friends I have know for years, introduced me to their Children. Matt introduced me to Eve and Dave Littlewood introduced me to his son Dan.

In both cases, it made me think. We were friends when those children were born. For a brief moment, it made me wonder how my life would have been different, if I had chosen/been blessed with children. Would the immense pride of having a healthy and intelligent teenage child, really of-set the hard work and frankly the inconvenience of bringing them up. I have to say simply, that I don’t know. I have to say, that some people are just too selfish to have children, and that basically, I am one them.

Still, made me think of a mate called Jo, when we were in Morocco. We were heading home, and I asked everyone how they were getting back from the airport. Jo said that his daughter was going to pick him up, and he beamed with pride. I was explaining this to Lee, who said simply, considering the mayhem that teenagers cause at home, its probably simpler to live your life as you do, and get a taxi !.

My first attempt at Pasta and Meatballs.

I’ve been trying all sorts of recipes lately. Pasta and Meatballs, was one that I had never cooked for some reason.

I used the Jamie Oliver Botham Burgers recipe, to make the meatballs. Overall impartial opinion (by me) is that I need to work on the Pasta, as its still soggy, and some grated cheese would have finished off the ensemble more fully.

More news next week, when I cook chips and gravy 🙂

Gordon Gekko, in the iconic original Wall Street.

On the media front, there hasn’t been anything I’ve wanted to see on the cinema recently, so my 2 cinema vouchers from Powergen are sat on the shelf.

One film I really do want to see, when it comes out, is Wall Street 2. Do I think it will be as good as the original ? I don’t know. Do I buy the idea of GG becoming a hero and saving corporate America from itself ? Get real.

The main 2 reasons I want to watch it are. 1, how things have change in 30 years since the original (I mean that, as much in terms of sets and clothing, as I do in acting and film making) and 2, how are they going to transition this guy, who is on the outside of a game he dominated and effectively built in the first place (I’ve been listening to Once I was the king by Hard Fi, and it made me thing of it).

On the TV front, the 2nd half of the DR Who finale, is on next week. It looks really good this time, as they seem to have an original plot, rather than just rolling out the Dalek’s peace meal (although there are Dalek’s in it).

I’m still watching Breaking Bad, as recommended by Jason MacDonald, a couple of weeks ago, when he came down for the evening with Caz.

To finish off, I just thought I’d put up this video of a printer, made entirely from Lego.

The IPhone 4 is out on Thursday. I’ll probably get one for personal use, but I’m going to wait a while and see if I can get a better deal. In the meantime I’m trying to get a phone for work, can anyone recommend a good Windows Mobile/Windows phone, its a while since I had one.

Near and Far, best wishes. John

Fairwell to James.

Jame's leaves to return to Paris.

Well, I’ve been at my new job now, for a whole month and it doesn’t feel like a week.

Everyone has been really nice to me. I was saddened to hear, that one chap who I work with (James) was on work experience, and would be returning to Paris.

We all chipped in, to buy him this shirt (which has some significance, unknown to me).

On Thursday evening, we went out for the evening, to say good bye. It was in an area of Warrington, called Stockton Heath. I had never been there before, but it reminded me of Didsbury in Manchester.

I don’t normally eat Spanish food, but on this occasion it was really nice.

I had a brilliant time, and someone even gave me a lift back to the Station.

I got dropped of at Warrington Bank key, and I was 40 minutes early for my train. I have always wondered what the Patten Arms (a sort of pub/hotel across the road from the station, which to be honest, looks pretty dire) was like.

I popped in for a quick pint. The main thing that struck me, was the shock on the face of the barmaid, when I said Please and Thank You !.

Anyway, Chris from work told me something really interesting about it the next day. Apparently, Jon Prescott (of New Labour fame) used to be the head Chef there).

Food 2.

A lot of people used to worry about my diet, and ask me if I could cook. Since things have quetened down, and I have the house (and kitchen) to myself, I’ve been cooking some things recently.

A 3 egg omlet

Ive always enjoyed making Omelets. This one has 3 eggs. I had a bit of an accident, with the first one, but the 2nd one  came out fine as you can see. Problem is, I bought a big box of eggs, made loads of Omelets, and subsequently, I am now bored with them, and waiting for my interest to return. Success rating 1 – 5, 4

My "proper" Sunday lunch.

I’ve put this one up previously, but I’m so proud of it, that its back again.

It took me 2 hours to cook it. I found that the key was work out a time-line. The basic idea, is that food needed to be on the table at 4pm. Therefore 4pm is zero hour. So roast was -120m, potatoes at -35m, Yorkshire’s -5m. Sounds elaborate, but it actually worked. Success rating 1 – 5, 5 (definitely).

Chille, an old favourite.

I’ve always loved making Chilli. I ate this, with a bag of Nachos. It was worth waiting for. You can see the open can of Carling in the background, an essential cooking accessory.  Success rating 1 – 5, 3 its been a while since I made it, and I have a hill to climb, to get back to my previous standard.


Pasta (like Rissotto) has always been a bit of an enigma to me. I mean I eat both of them in resteraunts, so why do I never seem to eat them in my own house ?. Well, time to get cooking and find out.

It was tasty, filling, and took just a few minutes to prepare. I think I will eat this (I have loads of Pasta in the house) when I’m on my own, and in a hurry. Success rating 1-5, 4 its so easy to make, apart from burning, its almost impossible to ruin it.

One of the few Chinese meals, I have ever prepared.

I have 2 Ken Hom books, but I have never really gotten into Chinese cookery. As a start out, I bough some chicken, chopped it with a cleaver for true Chinese authenticity, before adding a Chinese cooking sauce and veg combination. Its an early attempt, so I didn’t want to take any chances. As it was, it was really nice. Success rating 1 – 5, 0 well, I didn’t actually cook anything did I, I just re-heated a packet, in a wok.

My best yet, a Chicken Tikka Masala.

My best meal yet. I made the Tikka Massala, from a recipe of Madhur Jafrey’s 50 great curry’s of india. Some years ago, while shopping with my brother, I purchased the authentic bowls, trays, and even the heating thing (dont know its propper name) with candles. I havent ever used it, in more than 10 years, and it was its first outing.

I found that its simple to get small garlic nan, that way they can be heated in a toaster, while I was doing all the other stuff. Laid out for 2 people, to give me some practice, for the next time I’m entertaining, you will notice only 1 plate, and 1 glass of Red Wine. I ate it all myself. Success rating 1-5, are you joking ?

Hopefully, some of you will be around here soon, to try out some of this ?


A pretty quiet weekend overall.

Saturday is best forgotten about, but on Sunday, I was invited to a BBQ at the home of my friends Tony and Lorraine.

Their house was built to their own specifications, so you won’t be surprised to see that the Kitchen looks like something a celebrity Chef would cook in.

Tony's home made Burgers.

What might surprise you, is that Tony, actually makes his own Burgers.

Tony with the Barbeque

Just to show that Tony isn’t the “grabber” that everyone thinks he is, he once again cooked dinner, and provided all the wine, for free.

I really appreciate them inviting me over. I had a great time.

The very helpfull Butcher on Northgate Street, C S Austin

On the subject of Meat, and helpful people, a butchers shop I’ve used for some time, is C S Austin on Northgate Street, in Chester.

As well as a fine selection of quality meats, and superb Steak Pies, they also do exotic meats. Opportunities to visit Australia are limited, since I’m unemployed at the moment, but I can buy Roo steaks and get a (literal) taste of adventure.

One other thing, is that the excellent butcher their, agreed to sharpen my 2 kitchen knives (my global knife, originally cost £70) and refused to accept any payment (even though it must have taken ages to get an edge back onto them).


My "propper" Sunday Lunch (the Gravy hadnt arrived at that point).

Inspired by Matt Bridges Sunday Lunch I decided to have a go myself.

I’ve previously cooked Ainsley Herriots 30 min Sunday Lunch (featured in in 17 Things I like ) but I decided to have a go at a propper roast.

It took me 2 hours (well, it took the Cooker 2 hours 🙂 and this is the finished product, just before the Gravy came out.

Eating at Chez Jules for the first time in 2 years.

I recently had lunch at Chez Jules (I used to go there frequently, but it occurred to me, that I hadn’t been, in nearly 2 years).  The food was just as good as last time, I’ll definitely be going back (shame this picture, taken with my IPhone, doesn’t do the 2 hour lunch justice).

The Chester Food and Drink Show 2010.

I decided to bob over to the Chester Food and Drink Show.

I had been a few years ago, but it was much bigger this time, newly sited at the Chester Race Course. One thing that did please me, was I remembered my Chester Residents Card, so I got in for only £4 (and extremely nicely off them, they let Amelia in for £4 as well).

I was a little disappointed, as I thought most of the suppliers would be from the Cheshire area. Right at the back, was a farm section and it was really small.

I decided to treat myself to an Ostrich Burger. Amelia caught up with some old friends (they used to ride horses together or something) so I decided to seek out an old friend as well. I found Frodsham Ales (locally based a few miles from Chester) and bought a pint of their “Iron Man” Ale.

The Food and Drink Show at Chester Race Course.

This years the theme was Food and Drink and Lifestyle. I didn’t think much of the lifestyle section.

Another idea, was that you could pay £20 and get 4 days full access to the event. It also meant that you could camp at the event for free.

That might not sound like a particularly good idea, but think about it for a minute. That would effectively give you 3 nights accommodation in Chester. That’s probably the cheapest way to visit and stay in Chester that I know off !.

Sports bar. Who's the sinister figure lurking outside ?

Meanwhile, Amelia and the Hoorays had moved on and found a nice pub.

Years ago, I worked in Corporate IT. One of the things that attracted me to working in such a pressure cooker environment, was international travel.

After nearly 8 years, while working for Corning, I was scheduled to visit their head office in Hickory.

Put simply, Hickory is a town in the US, that makes a lot of wooden furniture, hence it being called Hickory. Its also one of the most boring places in the world (where do you think the name “Hick” town comes from ?).

Well, the new bar that’s opened-up on the water front, is called Hickory’s. All I could think about was a depressing week in America with work.

Also around 8 years ago, my brother took me to a new sports bar in Manchester. They had booths, with personal table’s that you could book, and you could be served food and drink while you watched Football or whatever with all the atmosphere of a “bar” game, but none of the interruptions.

Always a bit slow to catch up, Chester now has one in Hickory’s. They also do traditional smoked BBQ (whatever that is). It may turn out to be popular with visiting Americans.