Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tis the Season, Part 2

Sorry about the delay in posting, I haven’t been to well, sort of flu like thing, left me feeling like a hangover, but without the good bit first. Consequently all my plans for Yule and cooking have been put out, so now I have to decide whether to try and catch up, or just leave it. Neighbours have been coming round with presents, and I haven’t even started cooking shortbread, I did do some mince pies though, both with filo pastry and puff, but the standard was not quite good enough to give away. I’m sure they won’t go to waste as they taste fine.

The Black cat liked the bread, see facebook, but due to illness I haven’t been down there since and while I must admit to feeling quite flattered that she thinks the bread is good enough to sell in her café I’m not sure if I would want to start supplying them. I came to Devon to relax, not to be faced with having to produce with deadlines etc. Also I don’t have a food hygiene Certificate, nor an “inspected” kitchen, nor Liability Insurance – all of which I have been told I should have. Maybe the effort involved isn’t worth it. Thanks government for supporting small enterprise.  

The Blackberry Balsamic Glaze I made for Christmas presents has gone rock solid and will not come out of the bottles, I had to heat it up and dilute it a bit to get it to behave, still it’s now all tagged and ready to give.

I made some gluten-free choc-chip shortbread for Tracy next door (Coeliac), and it tasted pretty good, I just used Yvonne’s Grandmothers recipe but gluten free flour.

Also some conventional recipe shortbread for Norma and Jean, whose generosity, as usual, has been totally unexpected.

 I checked on the apples I bottled in September, they still look good; I will need them for apple sauce for my honey and orange juice roast Gammon – Eat your heart out George if you are reading this.

The bathroom is officially finished, I took all the masking tape away from the sink plinth and did a final clean up, looks nice though I say it myself and the total cost was a lot less than I expected.

 It’s 30 years since the Penlee Lifeboat was lost trying to rescue crew from the Union Star, to me it’s like yesterday, it’s one of those events when you can remember exactly what you were doing and where you were, there was a programme on BBC about it, and even now it brought a lump to my throat, the courage and skill of the Lifeboat crew defies belief. They never turn back.

Working on the river is always interesting, especially when the weather conditions are not too helpful, and last Thursday was one of those windy, winters’ days that keeps you on your toes. The job was one I have done many times, fit a 32m wide ship in a 33m wide lock, in a 2 knot current with the aid of 2 tugs, but complicated by a 25mph wind from the wrong direction.

 It went well, taking a little longer than usual, the anticipation as always being worse than the job itself. I must have done the job in my head more times than in reality, always trying to keep an escape route, the trouble is, there comes a point when there is no escape route, that’s the time to keep your cool, at least outwardly.

Years ago, when I was Chief Officer, the ship I was on had a collision with another ship, to avoid a long story setting the scene: after doing all we could to avoid it, but seeing that it was inevitable, the Captain turned to me and said “Are we full astern?”, "Yes Captain" I answered, "well" he said, "that’s all we can do, put the kettle on". That was cool behaviour, he may have been worried but it didn’t transmit to anyone else. I have tried to be like him, the last thing you want is a panicking pilot, although I can’t pretend it’s easy sometimes.

Its Yule tomorrow, so we will have a fire and dance naked around it (I made the last bit up), at last the days will start to get longer, and it will soon be spring. Time to start planning next year’s veg planting.

Bright Blessings to all for Yuletide !

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