Peter's Blog

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

One more day and it's a New Year.

Well it's only one day to go and i have learn a new skill. I saw Jamie Oliver with a group of school children showing them how to cook. In one program he had them making fresh Pasta and it looked so easy to do.

100 grams of flour and an egg.

Not much needed but to make sure i got it right i watch the video again. Mix the flour and egg and kneed it for about 10 minutes and then put the dough in the fridge for half an hour wrapped in cling film. Then roll it thin and cut to size unless you are posh and have a pasta maker but cut in thin strips is OK. Now all i need is for my homemade bread to finish and i can put my dinner on. Tonight Chilli con Carne but with freshly made Pasta.

So for me that finishes of a good year were i have done and learnt so much this past year.

Now for a glass of Cherry Remy Martin.

Today is the birthday of my eldest son who after finishing work is on a beach somewhere in the Indian ocean. 

A Happy New Year to everybody who has taken the time to read my story.


Thursday, 27 December 2012

The New Year is almost here.

Well Christmas is here and the New Year is only days away.

The closing year has seen lots happen for me personally. The year started when i went back to the UK in January.

My Mum was due to have yet another operation on her hip, due to delays she ended up having the operation days before i was to return home. Thankfully she has recovered and has slowly made progress. Mum expects to be able to be running round like a young kid but she has to make do with the progress she is making. 

But it was the return home that was a big surprise to me, the lane outside of my house had been resurfaced. Before i went back to see my Mum the lane was little more than a track. When i got back we had a nice new resurfaced lane and they had made it wider as well. When i returned home the house had been empty for a month and it took three days to get it warm again, i just left the aircon on. The walls being single brick had no insulation and they had just retained the cold with no heat to keep them warm the walls where like radiators but being cold instead of warm.

I have just been to dig up my Christmas potatoes and i am a bit disappointed with the few i was able to dig up. But it's something else i have been able to do. Next season i will be better prepared and able to plant and look after not just Potatoes but lots more.

Recently i have had problem with my bread making, a number of loaves have not risen when baked. First i tried new yeast, no good and after 5 failed loaves i got some new flour. Right away it worked perfect so it's down to the flour and it seems that where i have stored the flour it was to cold. I get 25 kilo of flour in 5 kilo bags from Makro and this does me for a while. Now i need to find a way to use the flour instead of wasting it.

Now that's what i call a nice loaf. If i hadn't had so many failures i would have added some Sultanas.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Recognised in Lidl

I was in Lidl today looking for Marzipan a bit late for my Christmas cake but sometimes things get forgotten. As i couldn't find what i wanted but upon hearing an English voice i asked a couple who were nearby. They couldn't help as they had only moved here 10 days before. As we got talking it was obvious from what they said that they know me or of me. It seems that from Spain they had been reading my Blog and they came to this area because of what i had put on my Blog. After visiting here they have rented a house while they find somewhere to buy.

It will be interesting to see how they get on as they have some very interesting plans ahead.

Good luck to you both.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas cards

At this time of year it's Christmas card time, i can only say sorry if you got one from me. Handwriting is not something i was ever good at but none of use are perfect.

Over the last week i have received a few cards and they all have nice writing but the latest was totally unexpected not because of who it was from but the message inside was in Portuguese. This card was from my Brother Tim wife Alex and Ethan and Esme. Tim that was really nice that you made the effort to use Portuguese.

Mum is a master at making cards of all kinds but this year her card was not a home made card but with her beautifully hand written message.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Any Cognac XO is my drink of choice

My drink of choice is as the title says Cognac. Over the years i have collected and drunk the best of Cognacs. My two i am proud of are a bottle of Martell 1950 and a bottle of Martell 1951. Through Bargain Booze who i was a Franchise with had my two bottles identified by the labels and due to unique marks they where able to tell me when they where made. These i won't open as i am saving then to leave to my two sons Lee and Anthony. 

Today i made mince pies and in the mince meat i put some Remy Martin cognac into the jar of mince meat. I left the mince meat for four hours to get well soaked with Remy flavour. I am not a master at making pie pastry but i did make pastry the best that i could. Sugar on top and into the oven they went, i waited and checked until they where ready and cooked just right. That's OK but when they where done i had to wait for them to cool down. When they had cooled enough i sat and enjoyed the best Christmas mince pie i had ever had. They tasted Mmmm so the moral of the story is if i can make the best mince pies in the world then with a little practice they so can YOU.

It's only a few days before Christmas and if you can give it a try, it doesn't matter if it's Vodka, Bacardi or even Cognac it's Christmas and enjoy the best Adult mince pie there is your own.......

Reflections on this time of year.

Today was the first day for a little while where i didn't need to put the aircon on for heating, it has really been a mild day. The last few days after the rain have been a lot better than of late with no frost in the morning so here is hoping for a mild Christmas. Last year the weather at this time of year was nice but when the sun went down so did the temperatures.

The last few day i have had the time to look back and consider what it was like back in the UK. Last Christmas was the first one away from my family, Christmas dinner was the one time we would all be together but now that's no more. Last Christmas was the first one that i didn't get to see Chelsee. Again i won't get to see her but at least i should get to see her on Skype so it's not to bad.

Sean my grandson was to young and also he lived so far away that he really didn't get to see him often. Now Sean is of an age where he knows me but i am not there to see him i am 1,729 miles away by road. I have been able to speak to him on Skype but i am really a bit of a stranger to him, he knows me and we do speak a little but it's not the relationship i was hoping for as he got a little older. I have a trip back to the UK planned for March and it should be a time to get to see Sean and Chelsee but who knows.

This year due to circumstances both my boys will be working on Christmas day but it would be nice to be able to speak with them both.

Who said Christmas is for kids what about us grown ups. On the 22nd i have been invited round to some friends in the next village and the best of it is to get home none of use have to drive on the main roads. I don't drink and drive but i will have a few but safely just around the corner from my home. I have said that i will bring a bottle of Cherry Vodka, made by me. Last night i tried some Peach Aguardente a local firewater but one that i have added sliced peaches to about 4/ 5 months ago and it does taste good also i made some with Cherries added to it for flavour and that to tastes good

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Last week Mum had a visit from a close family member not seen for years.

Last week my Mum had a visit from a cousin i hadn't seen for 16 years, i had hoped to speak to her but it wasn't to be but we got to catch up today on Skype. This was an early Christmas treat for me as it was a huge treat for Mum to see her sister's daughter after so long.

When i was young and i can still remember that far back as families grew up the youngsters would start of into the new big world, get jobs meet partners and get married as you did then. Now 30, 40, 50 years later where are we New Zealand, Mozambique and Portugal. Then there are most of the family from Arbroath down to Southampton, over to Wales both North and South and  one near Hereford.

But how has the family and i done?  also anybody i am lucky to be related to down from Ken Dodd my Dad's cousin to those retired in New Zealand and done in life. When i left school i expected that i would be a butcher and i was and get married and have kids usual thing. But jobs what do the family do fr how have well all done. Consultant doctors, nurses, teachers, one in the security service protecting ships passing in the Indian ocean i include in this list in-laws, Very high ranking police, Head Fire officer, Very high  in a Pharmaceutical company, University Professor, Nurse, some owning companies,  one even worked for a company in Texas and lived in the UK " if my memory is correct " , Industrial Chemist i could go on but what i want to show is the way families have developed and moved on in what is now a small world.

 I can  speak to my family over the Internet and we can see each other but what does the world hold for the next generation of this extended family? I have one cousin in Mozambique who is fluent in Portuguese and i struggle with the basic language of my new home. But the next chapter of this family is here already some young babies some new teenagers all wanting to get on in life if you look back this family has done so well " In-laws included " for me it started with my Mum and Dad but it's now down to the new Mum and Dad's of the family to write the next chapter of the history of this family.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Trying to clear my wine.

I  have made a lot of wine this year and i want it to clear like the wine you see in the shops. I have 5 wines that i want to clear, Peach, Pair, Tometilia and Grape, Peach & Pair and Cherry.

I have just tested the latest the Tomitilia and Grape and it is 13.2% alcohol. Most of the others are all almost 10% so this latest is a bonus. One thing i didn't have was a constant temperature, the temperature fluctuates from a low over night to high during the day. On a home brew forum someone mentioned using a heater to keep brewing bottles at a constant temperature. It's easy to say and i was able in the end to be able to do that. I had a 20lt plastic container and i found that i had a fish tank heater so i decided to give it a try. After the Tomitilia and grape was done i tested for it's alcohol content and it came out at 13.2%.

In the UK you can get all the chemicals that you need to assist with the brewing.  Nutrient, Tannin, Pectic Enzyme, Glycerine and Campden tablet. These are all used to make the wine as you know it. Wine can be made without and that's what i did as i didn't have any so i had to make my wines without the chemicals, well the locals have been doing it without for centuries so it has to be good for me.

 Left to right.




Peach  Pear

Tomitilia & Grape

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bloodshot eyes and a Boney fairy

I am no different to any other Grandparent we do some daft things with our grand children to get a smile or a laugh. Yesterday my grand daughter Chelsee was on-line with me on Skype and i got out my Christmas tree and the few decorations i have. My tree is already decorated so it was easy all i had to do was get it out of the draw it has been kept in since last year.

Chelsee took a picture from Skype of me with my Father Christmas decorations so below is a picture of me and the decorations. I got the reaction from her i wanted and to see and here her laugh was worth it.

If nothing else i do have a sense of humour. 

Now a warning FEED you fairy after Christmas if not over the coming year look what happens to Fairies who get put away hungry. Can you see the bloodshot eyes?

What to do in the morning to keep warm.

Well winter has arrived but so has the sun and after all the rain we have been having for the past month the sun makes a welcome change. The day first thing in the morning is very cold and even with a frost on the ground most days this week. In the sun it's warm and as the sun comes up the day does get very nice until the sun goes down. You can feel as soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops rapidly outside.

As soon as i get up the first thing i normally do is put the aircon on to get the place warm. Well not quite the first i normally put my T shirt into the bed as i get out to get it warm for when i get dressed. Back to that later, each morning this week when i have got up and put the aircon on it shows the inside temperature and it has been 10c when i have got up each day. By the time i have boiled the water to make a cup of tea it's up to 15 or 16c and climbing so it's not so bad.

Most people have a log burner and over night the fire goes out and has to be started all over again. That all takes time to clean out the ash and light the fire, bring in the wood. All this time without a fan heater it's going to be cold until the fire is roaring away and has the place warm again.

Thank God for aircon is all i can say and thanks to Gordon. Gordon is a member of the Forum that i am a member of after speaking on the Forum about the use of aircon over a period of time i decided that i would install aircon when i arrived here. I installed aircon in my lounge and it's the best thing i did. Last year my biggest electric bill was only 58€ for a month so the running cost was fine by me. Twice a year the Electric bill is adjusted by the electric company and the next bill following the winter bills my next bill was much lower so using electric for heating for me was OK.

These morning have been cold when i get up but the aircon is great the one thing is i don't like to do is put cold cloths onto a nice warm body. As soon as i get up i put my T shirt into the bed to get warm but most of the time as the T shirt is cold it's not much warmer when i get dressed but it's better that when i got it out of the draw. Last night when i put my electric blanket on i put my T shirt and underwear into the bed so that when i got up and dressed they were already warm. The difference it made when i got dressed today my T shirt and underwear was Oh so nice and warm. What a start to the day.

As i finished typing this i had a look at the temperature on teh aircon and it's already 25c and i have only been up an hour.

I can't take the credit for getting dressed with warm cloths but it was my first wife Tyna. Tyna always put her underwear into the bed as she got up in teh morning so really it's because of her today i got dressed with nice warm cloths on.