Friday, November 30, 2012

 Apple and Olive Oil Cake

 280g plain flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
75ml virgin olive oil
25ml hazelnut oil
150g vanilla caster sugar
4 eggs
4 dessert apples, peeled and cut in 1cm dice
Zest from 1 lemon
30ml milk
2 eggs (whites only)

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C, grease 2 x 25cm cake tins and lightly dust with flour
  • Weigh the sugar, vanilla seeds and oil into a large mixing bowl; use an electric mixer to whisk the sugar and oil till light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, whisk until creamy and pale in colour.
  • Sift all the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Fold half of the dry ingredients gently into the egg mixture with a metal spoon.
  • Add the milk and fold the rest of the flour in. Do not over work the batter.
  • Fold in the diced apples and lemon zest.
  • Whip the egg whites to soft peaks and fold the egg whites into the cake batter.
  • Divide the cake mixture between the two cake moulds. This will give you two fairly shallow cakes, if you like a higher cake only use one cake tin.
  • Place the cake tins in the preheated oven on the middle shelf and bake for 1 ½ hours.
  • Once the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and let the cakes cool in the moulds for 10 minutes, turn them out on to a cooling rack and let the cakes cool completely.
  • Dust with icing sugar
This cake is interesting and tastes rather like a steamed sponge pudding and is best served warm with custard or cream. It’s nothing like the one at Breda Murphy’s the other week. I probably wouldn’t make it again with this recipe.


David Cameron refused to undermine 300 years of Press freedom yesterday as he rejected the key recommendations of the Leveson Report to bolster a new press code with statutory underpinning (a voluntary code of practice for the press that is backed up if needed by the law.)

Without statutory underpinning
None of us will ever be winning
The politicians continue grinning
The press will carry on sinning
David Cameron’s mettle is being tested and unfortunately he’s buckled already. Levenson’s report despite my initial scepticism it would be a whitewash seems to be fair, balanced and walking in the right direction. If the recommendations are not implemented then all it proves is that the powerful vested interests who twitter on about the traditions and freedom of the press have something to fear from it. We need to move on from journalism laws of the 17th century. It will harm nothing in the way of honest, investigative journalism and empower people savaged by the noxious fumes from current affairs that quickly wither in importance leaving behind destroyed reputations and lives for those affected. Currently libellous redress is only for the rich.  Time for change; so do the right thing, Prime Minister.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.  He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them. After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight. When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. When he was close enough, he called out,

'Excuse me, where are we?'
'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.
'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir, come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'
The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
'Can my friend come in, too?' the traveller asked gesturing toward his dog,.
'I'm sorry sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog. After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.....

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'
'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'
'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.
'There should be a bowl by the pump,' said the man.

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled  the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.
'This is Heaven,' he answered.
'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said  that was Heaven, too.'
'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'
'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'
'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'

Tuesday 13th Nov 2012
Went for a Job Seekers interview today – the staff were friendly but guarded; but what a convoluted performance just to get money you are supposedly entitled to. I had to take my passport in to support the claim –probably because they have never seen a UK one before. It does make me confused that I have worked for 36 years and all through the period paid tax (and all the other payments) and now when you just want back what you’re entitled to they expect you to jump through hoops...aargh!! One has to comply with the tenets of the Job seekers agreement which basically says:-

I am prepared to do as I am told and let go of all pride and self respect values I might once have held. If you fail any of the tenets apparently they can withdraw the money which in my case only lasts for 6 months anyway. (In total it amounts to £1846.) If after that when the six months have elapsed and you have the smallest modicum of savings then you get nothing. So ill thought out, poorly executed and useless to me in the long run- yep, sounds like a government policy to me.
Oh well see how the next 2 weeks go

Tuesday 27th Nov 2012
Returned to the Job centre to have my two week interview but I knew before I went that the Job seekers allowance thing wasn’t going to work out. So I have now been signed off any benefits I was receiving. Bit annoyed really as before I was made redundant the advisors at work basically said there was none of this hassle for the first six months. But I have thought about it quite a lot and at this point in time I am not prepared to –

§  Travel for up to one and a half hours in each direction to a job
§  Work for the minimum wage (currently £6.08 per hour
§  Learn to drive a fork lift truck or some other totally unsuitable task.
§  Be prepared to work at any time of the week such as nights and weekends
§  Search for a job for a minimum of 3 hours each day
§  Apply for the jobs given to me at the Job Centre
§  Sign up with a minimum of 2 job agencies
§  Be talked to like an imbecile by a slave labour gangmaster; sorry, jobs adviser

Anyway the funniest thing was after I had laid out what I wasn’t going to do the lady said, “Most people don’t do that anyway.”I think she was giving me the option to carry on, (but I think that is termed fraud.) I wasn’t happy with being so disingenuous. Anyway in time to come I may need the help for real when one day I could have sunk low enough in self esteem and cold, hard cash to finally meet all the criteria for the Cheap labour Charter; sorry, Job Seekers Allowance. That’s the most worrying prospect for the future. I wish I was more materialistic then I should have taken the money by any means, fair or foul, but I’m not really wired that way. Besides that would take up time that could be better used by the staff to find jobs for people more in need? My heart truly goes out to all the people who have to do this simulation for real, week in and week out; at the mercy of ‘Jobs Advisors’ or get nothing. Imagine your life was hanging in the balance of these people. Perhaps we would have change swiftly if they applied the criteria of the Job Seekers Charter to their own staff.

So to sum up - Work for 36 years and pay thousands and thousands in taxation = get nothing. Must be Britain 2012. Thank my lucky stars I had a nice walk before I went.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It's a bit wet here but forecast drier and also much colder for the coming week. Took Robbie out this morning and the overflow from the reservoir was going over well. Probably the best I have ever seen it. Some areas of the country have had bad flooding these last few days.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The mother light is waning
Around the dimming world
The mother light is waning
On tall sails now unfurled

The mother light is waning
When joy sets sail to sea
The mother light is waning
For you and also for me
The mother light is waning
For our time not yet to hand
The mother light is waning
Until again she takes our hand

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Love is three monkeys
  Never seeing
    Never listening
      Never saying
        Always waiting

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It has been the November week of four birthdays so I hope everyone had a good time. Shame about the weather during the week but it is pretty much as we’d expect at this time of year. Well perhaps not as cold and frosty as it could be, but incredibly wet and windy.

I have now been out of work for 8 weeks and the time has simply flown by and I have also quit smoking. 3 weeks now and I’m really quite proud of that. Nick has also given up, (well in point of fact he quit first) and he has almost completed a month. I think he wanted to conquer it before he turned 50. So well done you!

Breda Murphy in Whalley

Our dear neighbour has been going here for years and I can see why. Simplistic and understated in design yet retains a personal and surprising convivial atmosphere for lunchtime meals.

The premises are part restaurant, part deli, part gift shop sitting in the old market town of Whalley. This ancient village hosts the ruins of an abbey and numerous artisan and specialist shops.

The food was impeccably cooked and presented and the balance of flavours well executed. Although the portions may appear to be on the small side (especially the main) by the end of the three courses we felt well fed and above all, (and this may be the most important consideration) contented. Overall it is much better to have less beautifully presented because dining then becomes also a visual experience which feeds the soul as well as the stomach.

I couldn’t fault the entire experience at Breda Murphy’s and that is a rare accolade; truly excellent.


Smoked chicken with braised chicken livers

Goats cheese quiche with red onion marmalade


Sea bass fillet on creamed potato with hash brown, wilted spinach and a fennel Chou

Loin of lamb coated in crushed cumin with a mustard couscous and seasonal vegetables


Almond and Pear tart with vanilla ice cream

Apple and olive oil cake with salted butterscotch ice cream

Warm Whiskey & parsnip pudding with nutmeg Anglaise & vanilla ice cream

Coffee with a miniature homemade shortbread
Accompanying Wine – Australian Shiraz

Cost for 3 people £98

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"As good for you today as it's always been."  - maybe but obviously not so good for the employees.

Premier Foods, the maker of the iconic Hovis bread, has announced it is to shut two bakeries and axe 900 jobs as part of plans to overhaul the struggling bread business.

From Wikipedia

The last major British television and cinema advertisement launched was in 2008 to promote its Hovis brand of bread. The 122-second piece name ‘Go On Lad’ was commissioned as part of a £15,000,000 brand relaunch designed to reverse Hovis' declining market share and profits. The commercial follows the journey of a young boy through 122 years of British history, from the establishment of the Hovis brand in 1886 to the current day. The campaign was handled by advertising agency Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy. Production of the commercial itself was contracted to London-based production company Rattling Stick, with post-production handled by The Mill. It was directed by Ringan Ledwidge.

The advertisement, and its associated campaign, proved a popular, critical, and financial success. Its launch was covered by several national newspapers within the United Kingdom, including The Independent, The Daily Mail, and The Daily Mirror, on television programming such as the Granada Reports and Loose Women, and by over 300 local and national radio stations. Sales of Hovis products jumped by over £12,000,000 in the weeks following the launch of Go On Lad, and over 1,000 unsolicited letters and e-mails were sent to Hovis praising the piece. The campaign received dozens of awards from the advertising and television industries, including Gold’s at the Creative Circle Awards, the Marketing Society Awards, and the British Television Advertising Awards. In 2009, the British public voted ‘Go On Lad’ the best television commercial of the decade.

Date and Walnut Cake


•125g dates (pitted)
•150g walnuts (in small chunks)
•300g self-raising flour
•300g soft butter
•4 eggs (beaten)
•300g light brown sugar
•½tsp cinnamon
•Milk (to achieve a soft dropping consistency)

·         Prepare the dates and the walnuts. Remove the stones from the dates and cut into pieces, break up the walnuts into smaller chunks. Blend with the flour and cinnamon and let rest.
·         Cream the butter with the sugar in a bowl, then beat in the egg
·         Add the flour, spice and date and walnut to the creamed mixture and stir well but gently. Do not over stir.
·         Obtain a soft, dropping consistency with a small amount of milk added if needed.
·         Put mixture into a 9 inch round spring form tin (line bottom with greaseproof paper)
·         Bake at 16oC for 1 1/2 hours on the middle shelf (150oC for 1hr 15 min fan oven)

Verdict – cooked well but might benefit from a tablespoon of Golden syrup added after the flour has been added to retain a little more moisture but omit the mlk if you do this. Some other older recipes soak the dates in orange juice and 1tsp of bicarbonate of soda but not sure about that as modern dates are pretty good and usually quite soft.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lost in hollow reflection
 Amongst the fallen leaves
  Till thought and time merge
   Within a sodden autumn day
    To deliver me always to spring

I will not seek comfort or hope
 Within a living wall of growth
  That I engendered and nurtured
   Till it grows beyond my span
    Changing future landscapes forever

I will wander today; till the light fails
 Then I shall sleep away the day in peace
  In a world that delivered me here now
   With naught but the breath of the autumn
    To wrap up this failing skin within

I will make of the day a lifetime
 For tomorrow may never come again
  For we are so many and we fail
   We do not endure nor transform
    But we create and we may love

I will make of my lifetime a wonder
 But I shall fail and then I will sleep
  And take away forever all my thoughts
   To my little new world of eccentricity
   Into the long, cold days of skyfall

Tomorrow come not this hour
 When hearts tremble
  Like a leaf on the wind
   That stirs the soul
The soul perishes not this day
 When imagination grows
  Like a pupating monarch
   With a long journey to make
The heart weakens not this year
 When grace dearly bought blooms
  Like a Tudor rose garden
   Gracing a royal life of ease
The realm of the queen is ending
  Bested by her mortality she submits
   Check over master, over subordinate
    She sacrifices all her power for peace
Yet the life-force wanes not
             When all is health and possibility
               For wedded ants are emerging at dusk
                 To found new and innovative realms

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jumbles reservoir which is 1 of the 3 close by.

I took my neighbour to the acupuncturist the other day. His practice is in Wheelton near Chorley but I have never been into the village before. It’s a nice place and I just thought isn’t it amazing where you have never been despite being so close to. She was in there an hour so I did get a bit bored and took some photographs to pass the time.

  • The clock tower in the background behind the road sign is a war memorial.
  • The police station is for sale and has planning permission for 2 residential semi detached houses (see link below)
  • The Red Lion pub actually has a red lion statue on the top.

It’s amazing what is for sale when you look through their property portfolio. The number of pubs and police stations, schools etc is amazing. A lot of them in really good places too. Our local pub is being turned into small flats. Big money to be made in all this. Someone will always turn a profit in anothers misery.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Spitfire Sculpture (see earlier post) - I made one look like a b/w photo from the war

One day perhaps the walls will come crashing down and who then will rebuild the world with a new template? Not I, for the sands of time will descend on my thoughts, cease the clockwork of a troubled heart and lock me away for a trillion years or more. Till I am called awake again in a new place where the world is not how I remember it.

I set my feet now on a path that I know I cannot walk and ever the knowledge of this haunts the shadows that lie in-between the light of a new dawn and sets the journey to the final third of a life less commonplace, yet equally mundane and dull as all others. If hope is a star that I can pluck from the heavens it is now so far from reach it remains a solitary, hidden, golden grain on a black, sand beach.

But it is not this day that sends an autumn mist to layer and wreathe around the fallen armies of leaves littering a new path that I must walk. Like a child first entering school a new chapter begins and the spectre of change stifles any eager thoughts of brightness. For the world is a blunt instrument that bludgeons us with careful hammer blows of rhetoric and needful reminders that if owning animals is slavery; then what of our fellow man?

Good example of Brain Study: If you can read this OUT LOUD you have a strong mind.

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15. PL3453 F0RW4RD 1F U C4N R34D 7H15.

Short Neurological Tests

1- Find the C below... Please do not use any cursor help.


2- If you already found the C, now try to find the 6 below.

999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999
999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999
999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999
699999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999
999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999
999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999

3 - Now find the N below...this is a little more difficult.


This is NOT a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests your brain is in great shape and you're far from having a close relationship with Alzheimer’s...

Monday, November 12, 2012

The expression of soul doth declines
10 days now with a constant need
But still the lungs grow ever strong
So how could healthy; feel so wrong?
10 days without Nicotiana tabacum
Time for strength and busy thoughts
A habit declining but a longing remains
The soul must wait; forfeit not the gains

Sunday, November 11, 2012

How relevant is this for Memorial Sunday

Spitfire sculpture is unveiled in Darwen

More than 250 people turned out to watch the unveiling of a new war memorial in Lancashire.

The £175,000 stainless steel sculpture of a Spitfire aircraft was officially unveiled at The Green in Darwen. It was made and donated by Darwen-based WEC Group Ltd, which also supplied the replacement for the top of Darwen Tower which blew off in a storm.

A spokesman for the company said: "It was very well received and there was a really good turnout for the ceremony."Darwen was the smallest town in the UK to finance a Spitfire during World War II and the Spitfire memorial will be a lasting reminder of the town's contribution to the war effort."

The Darwen Spitfire memorial sculpture took two years to complete and was handcrafted by WEC Group's apprentices. The sculpture has a wingspan measuring 3.8 metres (12ft 5ins) and stands 6.9 metres (22ft 7ins) high. Must get a photo as it is quite incredible. Well done apprentices...there must be some good training happening within the company.

I never knew that about this town. Well I knew the sculpture was there obviously; but I didn’t know we’d financed a Spitfire during the war. What a grand company WEC is. Nice to see something given back in the spirit of philanthropy and civic pride to the town. (They also made the new glass roof dome for the Tower)

This is a hanwritten version of the famous poem by John McCrae (from Wikipedia)


Friday, November 09, 2012

Finally refurbished my Tannoy Super Red Monitors - they sound fantastic; even if they look a little unorthodox. I am going to sell these on Ebay. They will be great in a studio.

This is what they looked like a few weeks ago

One in eight mortgages now issued are for buy-to-let landlords (so with cash sales of property where no mortgage is needed probably 25% of all home sales are now to landlords.)
  • Almost 40pc of high interest ‘payday’ loans are used to buy food
  • Comet (country wide electric retailer) now in administration with the loss of 7000 jobs
  • Marks and Spencer and Morrison’s (national retailers) posting gloomy results
  • NHS complaints rising exponentially as all the private interventions and lack of funding begin to unravel it.
Wealth always flows up from the poor like rain returning to clouds
But now they have been eviscerated by the economy; where to next?
Go to the tax avoiders, corporations and financial robber barons; or...
Into the purses, wallets and vaults of the old, the poor and the frail
If Westminster can't regulate all this; well, then they can't do anything
But we all knew that already! So what happens subsequently in this game?
Where the pawns are always the first to lose and the tall queen takes all

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Charles Stuart (Charles I) was beheaded at 2pm on Tuesday, 30 January 1649 at Whitehall in front of the Banqueting House*. I know because I was there and even though the soldiers tried to prevent us reaching the scaffold we slipped in and out of the grown-ups and the cattle till we came to the edge of the crowd. There we watched the whole thing while we ate our trenchers**. Well they weren’t originally ours but the monks were handing out alms*** as we passed by them. The trenchers had obviously come from a noble house being thick and large and were now softened with the juices and gravies of the meal they had held which I think was some kind of fish stew. They were still fresh or at least there was nothing crawling across, (or in) them. Whilst nobody doubted that the alms were handed out in good faith, it was true that many a poor soul had come to a bad end after eating one that was rancid or worse still; poisonous. But such are the offerings of charity and we poor must be thankful. Well that’s what they keep telling us at any rate.

Poor King; he looked calm and dignified as they walked with him to the scaffold but it seemed he was stupefied as though he couldn’t quite imagine the deadly charade was to be played out for the first time in his life, for the satisfaction of others. How could he be judged by his inferiors? Was he not God’s appointed ruler and so who but God, may remove him from office****. The axe fell but we didn’t actually see anything because the guard caught us and led us away. But in the spirit of charity I gave what was left of my trencher to the pig that was grubbing around in the dirt beside me.

* The Palace of Whitehall (or Palace of White Hall) was the main residence of the English monarchs in London from 1530 until 1698 when all except Inigo Jones's 1622 Banqueting House was destroyed by fire. Before the fire it had grown to be the largest palace in Europe, with over 1,500 rooms, overtaking both the Vatican and Versailles. The palace gives its name, Whitehall, to the road on which many of the current administrative buildings of the UK Government are situated.

** Trencher - A piece of thick stale bread used as a plate. At the end of the meal, the trencher could be eaten with sauce, but was more frequently given as alms to the poor. At the end of the meal, the trencher could be eaten with sauce, but was more frequently given as alms to the poor. Later the trencher evolved into a small plate of metal or wood. People used this utensil to eat the many stews and porridges that made up their daily diet.
***The giving of 'alms' is an act of charity toward those less fortunate.
****Republicanism had brief 11 year tenure in Britain between the death of Charles I and the usurpation by Cromwell (who assumed title of Lord Protector for 5 years) against the Long Parliament. In the final analysis the monarchy never regained the heights of power it had experienced under the Tudors and early Stuarts and nor was a pure republican form of government ever to be in full effect even to the current day.