I said I'd tell you about this a week or so ago, so... The concept of a bread-making machine has always kind of not interested me. I always thought bread from one tasted a bit... you know... not quite right, and it was always square and I wanted my loaves to look uneven and bloomerish. Over the years things have improved and when we were given some money by mother-in-law for our wedding anniversary, we figured we might as well give one a go. So we bought the most expensive one we could. It's a Panasonic; don't ask anything else, it's not in front of me (and it has a loaf in it at the moment anyhow).
The first attempt was okay, but the strong white flour we used had just expired and while the wife reckoned that wouldn't have had any impact, I disagreed and was proved right when I did the same recipe with a bag of brand new flour - the freshness of your flour is vital, simple as. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th loaves all showed improvements over each other and yet we didn't appear to be doing anything other than what was instructed; it was loaf #5 where I started to fart about.
I mixed wholemeal with white, added sunflower seeds and honey instead of sugar and BANG! Suddenly the bread was taking on a new dimension; it was light, airy, spongy and tastier; the crust was splitting, giving it that actual bread oven cooked look and I have been experimenting ever since, but this recipe has been the favourite so far; 3 times 3 successes and, more importantly, we're saving money despite the cost of flour.
I did suggest growing our own wheat next year, but for some reason the wife didn't think this was a good idea.
Neil and his now fiancee Jenny spent the weekend up here with us to celebrate their engagement, to eat excellent Chinese food and to watch The Amazing Spider-Man which wasn't amazing. Neil and I being comics fans from different generations both hated the film with a passion, despite it actually not being a bad film, it just wasn't a Spider-Man film and because Andie Murray was in it wearing a Spider-Man costume that didn't make it any easier to swallow or something like that...
Talking to my chums Phil (One El) and Paul (landlord) t'other day and I admitted that for the first time since 1995 I feel utterly ambivalent towards football. Neil summed it up last night quite succinctly, he said, "It just never ends." How true. It doesn't. UEFA and FIFA do their utmost to ensure that football is played somewhere 365 days a year. This year the 'close season' didn't actually happen. Domestic seasons ended, international friendlies took place, then the Euros, then the preliminary rounds for the European competitions, then the Olympics, of which the final of that was played the day after the Charity Shield, the customary season opener. This year there was no break at all. Next year, as it is an odd year, there is very little football on during the summer (or should I say between the end of the June internationals and the start of pre-season friendlies (stand up Channel 5) at the beginning of July. If an English club gets a Europa League qualifier for fair play awards or by some weird fluke, then the first game is on June 26 and some channel (5) will be showing it. FIFA hold the Confederations Cup because they believe we need a pointless competition held every two years (a bit like the African Cup of Nations, the only national tournament that needs to be held bi-annually), but don't worry, the Home Countries never, ever get to play in it and Sky tends to show it.
I am rapidly falling foul of most web forums I engage in because of my complete and utter disliking of the Spurs manager and the indefatigable defence of the idiot by a large group of Spurs fans who don't seem to have any fucking ambition or have forgotten how good the team was just a year ago. Plus there's the joke that is the England team. Apparently 4th or 5th best in the world. Ha ha ha ha ha... See, told you they were a joke!
Football can go fuck itself at the moment.
Horses & Henry
A long time ago, a posh geezer called Henry Cecil helped me win over £1000 across a season. It was 1985. I'd got the horse racing bug from my brother a few years earlier and I was having a little bet here and there, but never really winning anything of note. I think I was just about breaking even, but I was enjoying it and two trainers had given me the most enjoyment - Henry Cecil and Michael Dickinson (one flat, one jumps - both brilliant at their sport).
I could have won a fortune with Dickinson when forecasting he would have the first 5 horses home in the Cheltenham Gold Cup - that would have won me a couple of grand, especially as I forecast the first 5 in the right order too ... Aah Wayward Lad, what a jumper! That alone would have won about £5k. Anyhow, I'd had this idea of having a Yankee (picking 5 horses) across the five classics and spoke to my local bookie in town. I picked horses for the two Guineas, the Derby and the Oaks, but the St Leger, held in September was always too far away to actually name a horse who would be guaranteed to run. I'd gone for Shadeed to win the 2,000 (A Michael Stoute horse) Slip Anchor to win the Derby (a Cecil horse) and Oh So Sharp (also a Cecil horse for the two fillies races), I figured I should go for another Cecil horse. My bookie offered me 28-1 on a Cecil horse winning the St Leger and as this bet was being placed in April, they seemed like excellent odds.
Oh So Sharp won the Fillies Triple Crown. She won on the day as a 4-6 favourite, not for me though. The 28-1 odds meant instead of winning about £60, I won £1078. It kept me and the wife very happy for a few months, because in 1985 that was a lot more money than it is today.
Watching Frankel win the Champions Stakes yesterday as an unbeaten 4-year-old trained by a man who I thought 27 years ago was this posh twat called Henry Cecil who I should have hated, but didn't, it made me extremely happy and very sad. The thing I always liked about Henry was that he never seemed to suffer fools gladly and spoke his mind rather than offer platitudes. Henry has battled cancer for 6 years and frankly he looks like he's losing. If he's still alive at Christmas I will be gobsmacked; but if he does shuffle off this mortal coil then he can die knowing that Frankel is the best fucking racehorse anyone has ever seen and he trained him. The man still has it and there's going to be a long wait before someone of his genius is seen again, in any sport.
Stuff & Nonsense
- The most important thing is my can't be arsed.