Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 - HD(E)

The air quality in Shoesville is shit. I've been back two days and already it's like breathing molasses at times. Sainsbury's yesterday was full of selfish, ignorant and unpleasant wankers; I saw several examples of shit driving and I was woken up by the sound of sirens this morning. Welcome back to hell...

Perhaps I just really needed a holiday - I haven't had one for three years - but there was something about last week that changed me and the ambition now has to be to move to the coast as soon as we can afford it. Bollocks to this 'you don't want to move away from where all your ties are because you will end up lonely and wanting to return home' (admittedly that's what they say to lottery winners, but...), I think I'd like to give it a try and if any friends and family want to see us, hell, they can see the sea too.

The massive irony, which I mentioned earlier, is the price of modest properties in this neck of Scotland; if we really wanted to buy something cheap and didn't care where we lived you can get three bed houses in Stranraer for about £55k - admittedly, well according to locals we spoke to last week, Stranraer is the sink hole for Glasgow and the place is full of dodgy families, paedos and ex-cons, so I doubt that would be a viable choice, but given my line of work now I would find it quite funny should I ever go there to live that I would probably end up working in Scotland's coastal toilet port.

One of things I didn't emphasise enough about the week just gone was the general spectacularly big feel to where we were; even the thunderstorms seemed extreme and therefore standing in the Co-op waiting for the rain to stop became a new experience, especially watching the centre of Wigtown transformed into a torrent of rain water. There was rarely nothing to look at and while I imagine some parts would be grim and bleak in the middle of a cold winter; I expect that the scenery would still be breathtaking.

That Other Thing

So Britain only got 29 golds, what a piss poor performance; they should be ashamed of themselves... Or, WOW, what a fantastic fortnight of sport (shame I didn't see more than an hour of it apart from the football, which was, overall, a bit of a disappointment).

It was good to see London and the British cast in such a good light, especially by the foreign media. London 2012 may almost be over, but I'm glad we got it.

  • My potatoes have been murdered by slugs.
  • I haven't been listening to anything, all week, it has been an almost music free week, with just a bit of Classic FM and Radio 3.
  • I am on the last couple of chapters of Gams of Threeps and I can't quite understand why aficionados of the books were disappointed with the, it seems, very few changes. If anything, the biggest change was the build-up to Ned's end; the politics in the series were essentially the same, but more emphasis was placed on other things and you also get the impression from the book that Ned's sudden fall was actually down to his daughter, which I don't recall happening in the TV series. Next is A Clutch of Clunge or whatever it's called and I shall read that straight away (I want to see what happens after I've caught up with the series).
  • My summer writing project stalled, but then got inspired by the Scottish countryside. I've ditched my other ideas (probably to writing limbo forever) and am working on something else entirely. I've written best part of 5,000 words and it's all notes.
  • We watched Battleship last night; complete and utter hokum from start to finish, but, you know, it was fun in an all-out action kind of way; but it amazes me how films with such awful scripts and acting ever get made let alone given the obvious mammoth budget this had. Tonight, I think I'll try and persuade the wife to watch the Closing Ceremony.
  • I heard a couple of comments over the last couple of weeks about the 'fitness' of many of the female athletes. I was watching the women's 4x400 final last night and was transfixed by the six pack on the last leg runner for winner's the USA. Jesus Bing Crosby Christ, there was absolutely nothing attractive about it (mind you the US athletes all looked a bit like ugly donkeys, but that's just me being sexist, even if it is accurate).
  • Cave farting.


  1. I grew up in Banbury and relish the merest glimpse of the sea. My wife grew up by the sea and takes it for granted, although does miss it now we're in delightful Swindon. My potatoes barely happened, but my peas went bonkers and are huge and deliciously sweet. The lettuce also went crazy, so it's not all bad on the veg front

  2. You could always try moving to the coast and then, when you're there, make some new friends.

    No, didn't think so.

  3. I might move to the seaside when the boys have left home. I fancy life as a beardy-weirdy beachcomber...

  4. Just what are you suggesting Martin, that I'm misanthropic and can't make new friends? ;)

  5. Sorry to be off topic but, did you ever write a post about how washed supermarket potatoes, starch, sugar, etc as hinted at here?

    I found your blog because I am obsessed with spuds as it appears you are, but my obsession is with roasting them. I have spent years trying to discover the particular variable that selects whether you get a crisp, golden roast potato or a brown, soggy one. I've tried every type of fat, numerous varieties, different temperatures. I've tried hot fat, I've tried cold fat, I've par boiled and not par boiled, soaked, scraped, roughed the surfaces, left them smooth. But I've never found a consistent answer.

    I did one batch- the best batch I've ever cooked and- Glory Be!- it was on Christmas Day at my Mum's. They are still legendary. They were the most perfect roast spuds you ever ate, and everyone still remembers them. But I've never repeated that moment of transcendence.

    Am I boring you? Sorry. Anyway, I've got as far over the years as realising it's a starch and sugar thing; the failed roastie is a mess of caramelised sugar. But how to avoid that? I have never found.

    So, is it really that simple? Supermarket potatoes are washed and the starch turns to sugar? Why?

    If you haven't written that post, please do. If you have, where is it?

    Thanks, Ian

    (If you're reading this I managed to fathom the incomprehensible captcha thing).

  6. Ian, welcome to the Club of Potato Snobs; we are a proud and incredibly fussy bunch of pedants.
    It's simple really, 95% of all potatoes are shit. The best chance you have of making the perfect roasties is either to find Golden Wonder spuds and parboil them just enough; grow your own in well drained soil or search for extremely floury spuds.
    Mayan Gold make great roasts, but you have to be even more careful with them than with Golden Wonder. Sainsbury's do their Heritage line of spuds; of which 6 months of the year you will get good variety - avoid Wilja; Red King Edwards and Duke of York.
    Purple spuds make really good roasts, the problem with these Bartlett produced weird things is they are as bland as tap water. There are a couple of interesting purple and black varieties (sometimes seen in Waitrose) which are okay.
    Best all round chip, roast and jacket spud potato - Kerr's Pink.

    In the old days when I used to buy Maris Pipers and King Edwards (even Desiree) by the ½ hundred weight from a local farm, in a bag and covered in dirt, I always had excellent spuds and for a lot longer. There is a correlation between Maris Pipers bought by chip shops and those bought and washed by supermarkets. Chip shops use Pipers all year round and chips are consistent; this is to do with natural light protection. Dirt and earth protects the tuber from sunlight which turns the starch into sugars; washing the dirt off a spud makes them rubbish - simple as.
    New season Maris Pipers - buy them and keep them in a box in a cellar; they might keep for a week before they start to lose their ability to make floury and crispy roasts or chips; once the sugars get going the crispiness is the first thing to go and them light and golden brown becomes darker, molasses like.
    Also, don't be put off by new potatoes; if they start top crumble when you boil or steam them, then they will make good roasts.
    Hope that helps; welcome to my mad world. Keep smiling :)