Monday, 22 May 2017

Maybe Just Scribbling. Maybe Not.

I have recently acquired a Microsoft Surface pad. I can draw straight onto it. I love it! Some people think my scribbles would make a good children's book. Here are a few samples of what I have done with it so far. Starting with one I just did.




 This gap is here because although it's fun to draw on it is fiddley to use and I can't get the pictures where I would like them. Scroll down please.






 














                                                                                                                                          John.

My New No-Dig Vegetable Plot









Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Tomatoes.

Once upon a time, long, long ago there were these two blokes and they had a giant glasshouse where they grew loads of tomatoes. One day, around about the same once upon a time time one of the blokes, let’s call him Harry for the sake of expediency and also because that’s what his name was or is? I mean he could still be alive. Depends how long, long ago long , long ago was.

Anyway, never mind all that it’s irrelevant. Yeah, one day Harry says to the other bloke, “I have had an idea Norman.” That’s what the other blokes name was, Norman.

“What ideas that then?” said Norman.

"Well, I been thinking. You know how labour intensive it is picking all these tomatoes?”

“Yeah,” says Norman, “and it’s bloody boring.”

“Well,” says Harry, “what do you think of this idea? Instead of picking each tomato off the vine why don’t we just sell the tomatoes with the vine attached?”

“Don’t be stupid Harry! People want their tomatoes picked for them and anyway they don’t grow on vines. Tomatoes grow on haulms.”

“Yeah I know, but hear me out mate. We call them vines ‘cos it sounds nicer and we tell customers that.. and hear me out mate, hear me out.. we tell ‘em that tomatoes with the vine still attached are healthier and taste better! What d’you think of that?”

“I’m listening Harry.”

“Well, here’s the best part mate and though I do say it myself, it is brilliant! We  charge loads more money!”

“So, let me see if I have got this right. You are proposing that we do less work picking, employ less staff, charge more money for our tomatoes because they grow on vines and also tell everyone our tomatoes are tastier and healthier because we leave a bit of the vine attached?”

“Yeah, that’s it Norman. It’s brilliant! What do you think?”

“It’s absolute bollocks Harry! No one would be gullible enough to believe it. Now come on, let’s get this lot picked. Tomatoes on vines? Never heard such nonsense!
                                             
                                        THE END







Monday, 13 March 2017

Anaphylactic Shock Almost.


A strange kind of day really. I’d been out for a walk with Mia the German Shepherd and my extremely handsome son George. –their order of importance in my life is not to be construed from that sentence.

Anyway, we were almost back home when out of nowhere the biggest, angriest, buzzingest flying insect I have ever seen suddenly attacked me. I flailed me arms blindly to frighten it off. But it didn’t work. That insect, who I had never seen before kept up its attack and it managed to sting me twice on me neck.

“It got me George!” I cried out, “it got me in me Gregory Peck!”

“Why are you talking cockney rhyming slang Dad?”

“Because I’m in shock probably but never mind that,” I screamed, “just get the bloody thing off me!”

“I think it’s gone Dad,” said George calmly.

“I can still feel it on me Gregory,” I shouted, “get it George! Can you see anything? Kill it son! Kill it!”

George has a look at me neck. “It left its sting behind Dad. Hold still, I’ll pull it out,” he says.

“Hurry up son for gawd’s sake,” I plead, “I think I’m about to go into anaphylactic shock.”

George gets the sting out and I manage to stagger home, holding on to me son’s arm tightly.
Six inches long it was that sting. The biggest sting I ever seen. Well, all right maybe two inches long. Okay then, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, But it was at least about a quarter of an inch long. Maybe an eighth of an inch then. I don’t even know what the bleedin’ insect was to be honest, but it was really loud and scary.

Me beautiful daughter Jodie is luckily there when I gets home. She is really caring and she gets her box of essential oils out. “Hold still Pater,” she says, “let me dab some oil on it. I have got some tea tree oil but that has a very strong smell or what about some lavender?”

“Yes,” I says, “lavender will do, chuck some lavender oil on it.”

So, she dabs a load of lavender oil on me Gregory Peck and I have to say it felt a lot better and I smelled nice too. I smelled a bit like a nice old granny smells. No, not of wee. Some old grannies use lavender to make themselves not smell of wee. I smelled like that.

You are not going to Adam and Eve what happened next but I will tell you anyway.

I’m in the builder’s merchants buying some cement and hydrated lime for me bread oven project and the bloke behind the counter looks at me a bit funny, “What’s that smell?” he asks me, “it reminds me of my granny.”

“Oh, that’s me,” I say to him. “it’s lavender oil.”

“It’s a bit overpowering,” he says.

“Yes,” I say, “it’s all over me Gregory.”

“What’s your Gregory?” he asks looking puzzled.

“Me neck,” I tell him, “me Gregory Peck. Its cockney rhyming slang.”

“Oh, thank gawd for that," he says laughing, “at least it ain’t all over your Hampton Wick!”

Yes, as I said, a strange kind of day really.







Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Strange Case Of The Missing Nightdress.


Tricia, my extremely handsome Son George’s mother, is always losing something in the house - usually it is something she has sold on E-bay - and I am the go-to guy she always calls to help her find things.
“John,” she says recently – that’s my name, John, “John, can you help me find a nightie?”
“A nightie?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, “yesterday evening I put two nighties on the piano and when I went to get them just now to wrap them up for posting, one of them is missing.”
“Are you certain you put two nighties on the piano?” I ask.
“Well, I was certain,” she says, “now I’m not.”
At this stage I go into my finding things mode. “Let’s go over the course of events as they happened last evening,” I say, “so, before you put the nighties on the piano, where did you take them from?”
“The computer room,” she says, “and I went straight downstairs and put them on the piano.”
“And you didn’t do anything else except go from the computer room down the stairs to the piano?”
“Correct.”
“Have you asked George if he moved one of them?”
“Yes, and he didn’t.”
“Have you looked everywhere else in the house?”
“Yes, George and I have searched high and low. One nightie is definitely missing and I am getting very annoyed.”
“Well, all I can suggest,” I say being a bit mischievous, “is that a thief must have sneaked in during the night and stolen the missing nightie. Try and think back again,” I add, “did you get distracted in any way when you were about to put the nighties on the piano? Did you phone ring? Did anyone knock at the front door?”
“Oh,” she says, suddenly remembering, “Tony Frost called in to collect some money I owed him.”
“There is the culprit then,” I exclaim triumphantly, “Tony Frost must have stolen the nightie.”
“What on earth would Tony Frost want with a woman’s nightie?” says Tricia.
“He’s a bit weird,” I say.
“No, he isn’t,” she says.
“Well,” I say, “I don’t trust him. What sort of nightie was it anyway?”
“It is a vintage white cotton nightdress, with nice lace trim around the edges.”
“He definitely stole it,” I tell her, “The bloke is a dealer, saw it was worth a few quid and pinched it. Maybe he stole it to wear. I bet he’s one of them transvestites. I’ve always suspected him. Phone him up and ask him.”
“What, ask him if he a transvestite?” says Tricia.
“No,” I say, “phone him and ask if he took a nightie off the piano.”
“I can’t do that,” says Tricia, “it would be so embarrassing.”
“Well,” I say, “just ask him if he accidentally took it. He might not even realise he has it. It might be in his hand-bag?”
“He doesn’t have a hand-bag,” she says.
“Only joking,” I say, adding, “but you should call him if only to help solve the mystery.”
Just as she reluctantly reaches for the phone, it rings. “That’ll be Tony Frost ringing to say he has found your nightie in his hand-bag,” I say laughing.
Tricia answers the phone. It is her friend calling about something or other. Knowing she could be on the phone for a long time I decide to have a look for the missing nightie. I go upstairs to the computer room. On top of a chest of drawers I notice a cotton garment. It is white and has a lace trim. It looks to my admittedly unpracticed eye, like a nightie. I take it downstairs. Tricia is still on the phone. I catch her eye and hold the nightie up for her to see. Her eyes light up. “Can I call you back in a minute?” she says to her friend.
“That’s it,” she says, “where was it? I have been looking all day. Thank goodness I thought I must be going mad.”
After I explain where I found it and after Tricia has told me for the umpteenth time how very grateful she is it suddenly dawns on her. “I am so glad I didn’t make that phone call to Tony Frost,” she says, sounding very relieved indeed.
“I still think he’s a transvestite,” I say.
Not that there is anything wrong with that he hastens to say.







Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Last Oven Update For The Time Being.

I dismantled the bread oven - well I took the top off it. I had to do this because I wanted to lay a brick floor - hoping it would retain heat more. It got extremely hot, but it still did not retain the heat long enough in my opinion. It certainly bakes a loaf but one bake per firing isn't enough. I think it should cook for at least a couple of hours each firing. I am going to get some proper oven bricks. They are pricey but I think I can buy second-hand ones. When I rebuilt the dome I used a large flower pot upside down. I figured it was clay and should withstand the heat. It did.
I think you have heard enough about my bread oven.This is the last update until I get it working properly. I don't want to bore you.
Upside down flower pot.

Brick floor.

Good news regarding my Extremely Handsome Son George's wildlife pond. Last night for the first time since the pond was made there has been frog and toad activity. We have lots of spawn.
Frogspawn in the wildlife pond.


Snowdrops have bloomed in the paddock. Gladdens my heart to see them. Spring is in the air.
Mia the German Shepherd and snowdrops.

Labrinthitis - do you know what that is? I first had it a few years ago and it has struck me again. Hopefully it will not last long this time.

Thanks for coming by.





Sunday, 19 February 2017

Bread Oven Progress (Or Lack Of) Number 6

The good news is, my oven does bake bread. The bad news is it didn't bake it properly. Not crusty enough for me.
I am not happy with the ovens ability to retain heat -which is very important in a bread oven. So I am going to have to make some modifications. I think another layer of bricks inside. I think perhaps I will use proper firebricks that retain heat, rather than the reclaimed house bricks. This will require some dismantling but I have got plenty of time on my hands as you may have noticed. I am not despondent. I love experimenting. Here are some pics.
First attempt.


Tasty.




Almost but not quite.

I baked the first loaf in a tin. It didn't rise properly. I discovered I had used self raising flour. I should have used plain flour. I then found the yeast I used was almost 2 years past its sell-by date! EHS George and BD Jodie liked it though and soon demolished the whole loaf.
My next attempt- with the correct flour and new yeast rose nicely but didn't cook properly. Although once again it did taste delicious.
I will persevere. I will succeed.


I do have plenty of firewood for the bread oven. No problem there at least.





Friday, 17 February 2017

Bread Oven Report 5


I fired the bread oven up today for the first time. Pleased to report there were no explosions and nothing collapsed. I started it with a small fire and then really went for it. Seems to work OK so far.

I covered the whole thing with clay, then a couple of layers of rockwool insulation and finally finished it off with soil. Started adding turf too now.

The third photo shows a Dover sole I cooked in it from frozen. It cooked well - a little too well but it's a learning experience. I have to prepare some dough next and see if it actually will bake a loaf of bread.

A Hobbit would live here if it wasn't so smokey 

Fire burning well.

Dover sole. Singed but tasty.








Thursday, 16 February 2017

Bread Oven Progress 4


Bread oven progress today. See the chimney? I am pleased with that. I made some adobe clay and began rendering inside the dome. Next time I build a brick oven I will render the inside with adobe as I go, as it has proved difficult to get inside to do it. See the chimney? I am pleased with that. I might have to shut a small child inside it tomorrow and tell it to start working. There is still plenty to do to the exterior too. Insulation is very important, I need to make sure the heat stays inside. See the chimney? I am pleased with that. Eventually you will not see all the work I have done because it will be covered in soil and become part of the earth bank it is built on. Have you noticed the chimney? I am pleased with that.

Clay. I only need to dig down about 18 inches to find it.

The clay is mixed with sand to become adobe.

Interior of oven before clay is added.

The oven will become part of the earth bank.

Adding adobe. I wish I had done this as the build took shape. It is proving difficult.

Chimney added. The bend in the chimney is not significant. I used what was available.

Some tidying up required I think.

Oven interior, The light is temporary just so you can see the brickwork.

I am pleased with progress so far. Tomorrow promises good weather. Perhaps I will get it finished? I must be patient and allow everything to dry slowly.

And after all this there is no guarantee it will work. We shall see. If not, I have learned some valuable lessons in outdoor bread oven building.

And finally. Here is a photo of me in my overalls specially for you ladies. Enjoy and please feel free to print a copy for your bedroom wall.
Me and Mia the German Shepherd.












Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Bread Oven Update 3


30% chance of rain the forecast said. Wrong again. It's pissing down. I make that 100%. Managed to do a little bit on the bread oven project though. I was going to use compost to make a former for the dome. Changed my mind and used some thick cardboard instead. It seems to be doing the job so far. I will set fire to the cardboard if I can't get it out after. The bricks are almost at the vertical now. Quite difficult to keep them in place. Soon though they will start holding themselves together and adding strength - he says hopefully.
There is a chance this rain wont last long. I don't know what percentage they give for it stopping? Oh, it just stopped. Must get on. See you later.




John.




Tuesday, 14 February 2017

In Case You Think I Forgot, Happy Saint Valentines Day

Women eh? Valentine’s Day eh? God love ‘em! They want taking out for a romantic meal bless ‘em. What is a romantic meal by the way? Is it sitting opposite each other talking a load of luvvy-duvvy nonsense with your gob full of expensive food and drinking wine that tastes of vinegar? Is it? What’s the point of that? You tell me.

I did it once. I’ll never forget it. Spent the whole time thinking how much it was costing. Not that I’m mean or anything but what we had to eat that night wouldn’t have satisfied a starving sparrow. I had to get her to cook me bacon and eggs when we got back to her place. Delicious. She could cook fine.

She had all the facilities there. In her own kitchen! There was absolutely no reason at all for her spending all her hard-earned money in an expensive restaurant. Women eh? Oh well, if it made her happy.

Our romance didn’t last after that. I don’t know why? Something about me not giving her flowers. Flowers? She had her own garden! Women eh? Oh, and a Valentines card. I never sent her one. She got right stroppy about that. Went right off her head ‘cos I never sent her a bit of cardboard with a heart on it! Women eh?

I’m still single. I don’t know why? I always try my best.




Monday, 13 February 2017

Bread Oven Progress 2


I did a bit more on the bread oven today. Used a piece of steel cut from an old Rayburn for the floor took ages to cut it with an angle grinder. I cemented round it to hold it in place and make it level. Could only do one more layer of bricks for the dome because I need the cement to dry hard on each layer otherwise it might not take its own weight. Tomorrow I shall use a heap of compost inside it to form a dome to lay the bricks on. This can then be burnt or pulled out when the bricks are set.

This has been a bread oven building lesson by John Bain.


I do hope you are enjoying these exciting updates on my bread oven progress. I am expecting a lot more followers from them.

In other exciting news from my day to day life events, last night Mia the German Shepherd and Bonnie the Ginger Cat both shared my bed with me all night. This was a first. Bonnie growled at Mia a lot. Mia just let her growl and wasn't bothered. I didn't get much sleep.

If you google bread oven, mine is at number 5. In the world! After I press publish on this post I will probably go even higher!




Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Brick Oven Progress.

Naturally, since the day I began building the outdoor bread oven it has rained every day. But yesterday the weather looked like it might be kind to me, so I laid a few bricks. Then it began raining so I stopped and covered it up. Today,the sun was up and I was able to get on a bit better. Here is a picture of work so far.

It took me a few goes to get the arch bit right. I used some old bits of wire cloche frame to form the arch. It was strong enough to take the weight of the bricks. You can see the dome of the oven beginning to take shape. I am not using any fancy methods to get it right. I prefer to work with my artist's eye. I do a bit at a time and wait for the cement to dry before adding more bricks. My impetuous nature suffers a bit from working so slowly but I am controlling the urge to do too much at one time because I don't want it too collapse.
I hope it is a nice day tomorrow. I am excited to be getting on with it. I don't even know if it will work properly. I did look at some other bread oven designs but basically they all work on the same principle. I will keep you informed.

I have been having a go at computer art. Drawing using just the mouse. It is good fun. What I hope is that it will be a good way of doing preparatory drawings which I will then be able to work up to a proper painting.
Here's what I have done so far. It is quite difficult to control the mouse and often they come out a funny size. But I am getting there. The tribute to her Majesty the Queen was a bit of fun. The kingfisher picture began as a pen drawing and then I photographed it and finished it on the computer. I was quite pleased with that one.

Wrong size. It was originally full size A4


Fun tribute to Her Majesty the Queen.


Kingfisher with fish.


Thanks for calling by. See you again soon.

                                                                  John.