Saturday, 24 May 2008

Your Usual, Sir ?

Still in shock from the realisation that I'd missed Ian Fleming's Dr No on the wireless this arvo (David Suchet as the twisted Dr No) I have taken treatment in the form of woodsmoke and wine. A crisp, cold Viognier has taken care of the cooking with a sturdy Chilean Cabernet to cut the fat - marvelous.
Fried garlic and new potatoes on the fire along with cob-corn (cooked wrapped in foil with butter, salt and pepper)and a bit more of Mary's hogget really did the trick, Dr who ? Fresh-cut salad from the garden only helps to complete the heavenly feast. Very hot Provencal garlic rubbed into that toasted ciabatta, soaked in oil and sprinkled with salt keeps the thirst from waining and proves a great accompaniment to the Viognier whilst tending to the fire. Sorry to go on about it - BUT - that meat is something special and deserves attention. MORE FIRE !

Friday, 23 May 2008

Centrifugal Fiction

The existence of the "fictional" force that we all know as centrifugal is obviously crucial to Ken Fox and his team. For practical purposes the force is measured in newtons and the number is arrived at by multiplying the mass by the square of the angular velocity and again by the radius of the arc being described - all we really need to know is that enough F is generated to overpower the only too real pull of gravity. The Ken Fox Wall of Death operation runs a fine fleet of Indian Scouts and three rather ropey CB200 Hondas, the latter (I presume the Scouts are too heavy for a three-up) can be seen ripping around this 'drome, three abreast from top to bottom of the wall, the "fictional" force only too apparent as the whole structure sways and creeks under the strain. The fairground showmanship that is such an important part of the scene here is truly a delight and we must do everything we can to stop it being lost. I believe there are only two or three walls travelling the country now. The monotonous, very well worn draw-patter of the ring master employed to entice passing trade into the tent is beautifully dated and no attempt to jazz things up or dumb down the experience has been made. When under way ".. starting any minute ladies & gentlemen - just room for a handful more - .." the performance is truly thrilling, a mixture of awe and fear can be seen on the spectators' faces, nervous applause as the dare-devils tease the top wire with the wheel rims. The Fox troupe is a truly family affair and I strongly recommend you look out for them before the H&S boys kick 'em into touch. MORE FICTION !


I'd be more than happy for South Oxfordshire District Council to "Listen" and "Learn" but I'm very worried about letting them "Lead". This quietly spoken epitaph to Brakspear's Henley Brewery just about sums it all up really. Obviously the sign ordering department went for the expensive re-con' plastic post style, only to find nowhere to plant it - "..saw them posts off Alf and we'll screw it to the wall.." - marvelous - unrestrained initiative at work in the local authority. Brakspear closed the Brewery in 2002 when they fell into the hands of REFRESH UK Plc - you couldn't make that one up could you - and moved, complete with a few bits of plumbing to the site at Witney. Dev's been in, and across the road is some top security residential operation going on. I asked a passing copper if the bars were intended to keep people in or out and he couldn't be sure. The only clue as to the goings on was the vast collection of Porsche Boxsters being watched over by jittery estate agents twitching in the Meadseyesque, Rayban-wearing look out post in the old hoist loft. The main entrance to the old brewery offices and nerve centre has been gastro'd and I couldn't bring myself to photograph that. On a more happy note - an enterprising farmer near to home has started up his own brewery and is doing good trade, he now plans to open a private tasting club complete with straw bales for seats, serving wenches and, seeing as he has smoked 60 a day for as long as I've known him, we'll be able to enjoy a Capstan with a pint of Digfield March Hare. MORE BEER !

Sunday, 11 May 2008

And On The 366th Day ............

........ Mary's little lamb became a Hogget. With all the goodness of a spring lamb but with 5 times as much fat and flavour these little chaps are the hard earned result of letting your lamb survive past its first birthday. I have just eaten the chops pictured here, fresh off the fire with a few new potatoes and a Sweetheart cabbage. Quite delicious. A friend of mine who has been producing the finest pork in the world from free range Tamworths has branched into the art of Hogget rearing, she also produces some delicious beef from a small Dexter herd. Now there's a versatile animal if ever there was one - very compact, great dairy cow and a first class meat producer - very trick. MORE FLAVOUR !

Saturday, 10 May 2008

V E Day

I feel the pipe smoking habit could very easily return. I have always enjoyed smoking a neat little Peterson, packed thoughtfully with some Erinmore Balkan Mixture or Players Navy Cut, but have often found myself feeling a little self conscious - unlike matey here ! Of course we can't smoke in the pub anymore so the prospect of upsetting somebody as you might a neighbour with a bonfire is no longer an issue. I had to try and capture this little scene at our local VE Day celebrations (news travels slow in these parts), the dancing was quite energetic and the beer tent was near at hand. Churchill made his speech at 15.00 hrs and all hell was let lose in the bell tower. Willys Jeeps ran amok and a Ferret complete with smoke grenades and machine gun was deployed by way of crowd control. You'll be pleased to know that the ARP warden won the fancy dress competition and left early with the larger of the land army girls.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Smashed Potato

I'm quite pleased with this pic - whilst it has a naive, snap-shot quality about it, the clever bit is the way the peaceful domestic scene outside the back door at Diplo Hall belies the devastation and and destructive forces about to be un-leashed at 07.00 hrs, May Bank Holiday. This was not to be a "test" firing so we can't really plead ignorance, experience has taught us that a flat trajectory of 70 metres using a 2 ounce round is quite achievable, early indications are giving an MV of around 750 to 800 fps. Ballistics at this scale does involve a certain amount of trial and error, for instance the calibre of 1.5" was arrived at by seeing what stock pipe we had in the 'shop. A variety of fuels have been employed to date but we have settled on the very expensive Sheer Blonde from the John Frieda Collection - quite what this stuff does to your hair doesn't bare thinking about. The detonator (or ignition system) is a modified pezo type spark generator from an old gas boiler delivering a finely tuned spark via two self tapping screws inserted into opposite sides of the combustion chamber. Any how - must be off to order some new fence panels and weird extruded aluminium greenhouse parts for the neighbours and pen a few well chosen words by way of an application to get my status downgraded from "irresponsible" to "eccentric". MORE KINETIC ENERGY (again)