Friday, 22 February 2008

Oh, Simple Toad !

I may have forgotten to mention (And On The 273rd Day) that Frank Coales makes a fine snagger too. Now, I know the world is full of banana,fig & custard; cumin,swallow & turnip; and saffron & rose-oil flavoured porkers. But simple, honest, plain pork sausages every time for me. I like a venison snagger as much as the next man, but - a place for everything and everything in its place! The Toad in Toad Hall needs to be a bit simple. Coleman's Original English has a taste not arrived by luck or chance, but over years of fine tuning, a taste not to be messed with, and as such needs a slightly less self-important accompaniment - too loud a banger can ruin the fun. I know full well that when Ratty, Badger and Mole nip round to their rather pompous, oafish mucker for a snack, it'll be plain porkers everytime for them too. MORE OF LESS.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Dinosaur Delivery

A sad day indeed at the Diplo HQ. It is with a heavy heart and a hint of a tear that we have to say goodbye to the sculpture that has lent an air of class to the view out of my office window (see Plant Hungry Plant on this blog). With the price of scrap metal going through the roof the 22500 lbs of high art is making its way to an appointment with the gas-axe. After much grunting and groaning the beast was wrestled from the undergrowth and parked up, awaiting the next stage of its journey. It is a comforting thought that when you buy some fine Chinese made saucepan or lawnmower later in the year it may well contain some dinosaur DNA. MORE SCRAP.
POST SCRIPT. Reprieve ! The lucky new owner has announced his intention to export this stunning piece of machinery to Jamaica where it will start a new life screening gravel. What a relief, I am assured of a postcard at least. MORE SHIPPING.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Dicing Jags

Look like a pair of '58 Listers to me. These were in the Triang Scalextric catalogue up until '63 so they've got to be 45 years old. With a bit of fettling we had them both running this year with the attendant smell of burnt dust and lube oil. I have got some vintage "clip" track somewhere but haven't seen it for 20 years. Most recent good Jag driving I've witnessed would have to be Frank Sytner at the wheel of Mr Bamford's car, fantastic finely balanced drifting with that beautiful blue smoke wafting around the inside rear tyre.

Monday, 18 February 2008

A Hard Day's Night

Now I'm sure Peter Sellers would be on board here. The thing is - it seems to be getting more and more difficult to find darkness these days. Mind you there are three street lights in the village where I live and the one nearest our house has packed up, which has improved this little bit no end. Driving at night around here I often turn the lights off to more fully appreciate the landscape - hedgerow shadows produce a different view and lend a more gentle topography on a clear night. Walking at night is even more rewarding, the eyes soon become accustomed to reduced light levels and at this time of year a really hard frost on a moon-lit night needs to be felt, occasional relief offered as you pass through a wood or under a thick Hawthorn hedge. It is still possible to find dark backwaters but all too often our skyline is a-blaze with sodium glare. Much as I marvel at our fine churches (we are particularly blessed in this part of the world) I prefer to see them lit naturally by day and in their ghostly shade at night.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

And On The 273rd Day ....

13 weeks salt-cured and a further 6 months maturing. F E Coales and Son know a lot about curing meat. One of the few local butchers still slaughtering on the premises, they close Mondays for the killing, making Tuesday the top day for offal shopping. The younger generation have taken a keen interest and Mr Coales' son is big on cured and dried meets. I first came across this salt-cured full middle bacon several years ago and have never found anything to match it for flavour. The resulting fried bread from the cook-up is quite the most delicious in the world. I was taught a top Northern tip for fried bread once - sprinkle the slab of bread with a little water before dropping into hot bacon fat for a perfect "slice". Happy breakfast. MORE FAT !

Friday, 15 February 2008

Busy 'Shop

I am presented with this scene on a daily basis and thought I ought to share it with my readers. The Metcalfe's pack under the desk is an N guage two track engine shed awaiting construction, the co-op milk thingy contains the water supply for the Mamod kit and general fire-fighting duties. The axe is so sharp it's used for most jobs from trimming up Airfix mouldings to sharpening pencils. One thing that is missing is the Light Programme on the crystal set which I notice is connected to a coat-hanger antenna. Squirrel and rabbit pelts are in the 'shop for conversion into a hat. On the Meccano No 6 box is the start of the two speed reversing gearbox. The Spitfire's one of those polystyrene electric jobs and is a brilliant flyer, of the two catapults my favourite would have to be the home-made one. Any how much food for thought here m'thinks. Did I miss anything? MORE FETTLING !

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Logs & Co

This sharp spell has caused a panic on the firewood gathering front - all hands etc. Obviously what you are looking at here is a selection of butts heading to the saw mill for planking up and onward conversion into fine furniture, following a few years air-drying under cover, open-stacked. The great Mabbut's mill at Brixworth, nestling up to the railway line, is sadly no longer operating - I stopped there a few weeks ago on a satisfyingly windy day and was rewarded with the hoped-for sound track of flapping tin and an opportunist Elder tree rubbing up against a building like a bullock scratching itself on a post. I have to confess that the posting of this picture was prompted by the mention elsewhere of cut sticks for timber. I am hopeful that we may be able to revive some of the atmosphere, passion, ingenuity and sheer engineering bravado of the steam powered era in agriculture and industry that is needed in response to the plastic, silicone, semi-conducting banality that is smothering the countryside - albeit in the form of toys. MORE STEAM !

Model Behavior

It's difficult to describe the sense of excitement and tension to be enjoyed at these sort of events. I was particularly struck by the proliferation of Madonna style head-microphones and ear pieces relaying vital signalling information and fiddle yard manifests around the room - I say room, there were three massive halls of this stuff going on at my local model railway club's annual bash. Quite apart from the fact that every square inch of space was taken up, either by exhibitions, small boys, track vendors, fat old people, push-chairs etc, the noise was deafening. I like the word clamour, and this is the time to wheel it out. Shrieks of delight were to be heard above and aside specifications, descriptions and tales of "well, I started the layout in the kitchen 27 years ago........". Deals were being struck keenly for spares, points sets, locos, engine sheds and even quantities of hedging material. Some people spoke quite slowly, some more quickly, pitch and volume were erratic and the overall effect was quite exhausting. After an hour I retired to the canteen and had a delicious Pukka pie, peas and chips with a huge steaming cup of tea. What a day out.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Sweat, Steam & Gasoline

Horse Box, Coal Lorry, and Gas Tanker all in ERF glory. I'm afraid the Marshal horse box has lost its side door and they all seem a little battle fatigued. I was particularly pleased with the menacing look of the tanker cab, reminiscent of the Peterbilt tractor unit from Duel. I once had the pleasure of driving a Gardner engined ERF KV series 8 wheeler of mid fifties vintage on corn carting duties - it had no brakes and relied entirely on engine braking, making a missed gear catastrophic - no pressure, and all very Stanley Baker I recall.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

And On The Eighth Day....

God saw fit to give us the Pork Pie. Called at Culpin's this morning. That's about all I have to say about that.