Sunday, October 31, 2010

Off my Head

Well I started today feeling a tad under the weather still and this did not improve after a visit to the local supermarket and having to top up the fun cruisers seemingly bottomless fuel tank in the same trip, not a happy bunny indeed.

Deciding that I was not up to anymore activity today and hoping to allow my wallet at least time to recover long enough that it could be taken off the oxygen supply, I headed home planning to unpack and then unwind. We’d just unloaded the contents of the boot into the house and we’re preparing to put away and then settle down to a sausage butty and steaming mug of tea when ‘Bing Bong’ the bleedin’ doorbell shrills out its merry call. “Who the hell is this now” I grumbled as I snatched open the door (told you that I’m not a people person), the combination of not feeling so pucker, shopping (argghhhh I hate shopping) and a bank account in ER just after payday was not letting my light and fluffy side shine to brightly. There on the doorstep (well, now taking a couple of steps backwards) was Wayne, brother in law and owner of Celt. “Apples?” he says, “what?” I growl, “Cider?” he whimpers forlornly clutching a large bag of apples. Ah the penny drops, just a couple of days ago Wayne had stated that he might be able to get hold of some windfalls and could I weave my magic and turn them into cider to which I’d agreed to willingly, well it beats him drinking mine and besides I just love the whole process of this cider making malarkey. “Come in. come in” I beam jovially ushering him inside, “sausage butty? tea?” I enquire (Wayne never says no, I may has well just put the plate and mug down in front of him). Clare gives us one of those old fashioned looks at which she’s so good at, “guess I’ll be putting the shopping away then” she states, “if you insist” I call over me shoulder as me and Wayne hotfoot it to my inner sanctum of tranquillity, the garage.

Now I’ve been through the process before with you all so I’ll not be boring you with detail, suffice to say that a grand time was had by all, including Clare who turned up in the last serene outpost known to mankind with a fresh brew in hand and then proceeded to get fully immersed in the production of some golden liquor for Wayne (well ok it looks like effluent at first but it does become golden…. Eventually…… trust me!!). So I’ll just post a few pictures instead.

The best thing though was in exchange for said cider, Wayne's missus, Linda, will soon be preparing pickles so guess who’s getting a couple of jars heading towards his clammy hands?

Afterwards once Wayne had departed clutching his gallon of treasure (bet he’s tempted to try it before it’s ready) the day caught up to me and I had to have a stretch out on the sofa, really was not feeling myself…..

I was fine until a demonic hound, who smells of dank decay descended from the misty moors and then decided to give my old bones a going over…

OK so Lucy'd slithered of the bed and was now demanding some attention.

Hope that you enjoyed today, I’ll have to retire soon as there’s such an eerie feeling about this evening…

Happy Halloween all….

Your friend,


Saturday, October 30, 2010


Morning all,
 Mmmmm the 'fish putting up a post at this time of the week?, shouldn’t he be working away in ‘the grind’? Well yes, in all honesty I should be, but yesterday I seemed to have picked up a virus and as well as feeling lousy had little control over some of my bodily functions (too much information?). A little spritelier this morning but still not 100% so it appears that I’m heading for a quiet day of contemplation.

One thing that is occupying my mind (not a large void the fill) was the events reported in my last post and the following comments thereafter from you good folk. The general theme of these comments is to trust your dog’s instincts, which I do, but also the idea of a little ‘self protection’. As I’ve already stated I take no pleasure in confrontation and abhor the very idea of violence, but this does not prevent me from standing up for what I believe is right and I would gladly do anything to protect my family, even if it meant my life for theirs. My self control and ability to read or diffuse situations has increased exponentially over the years but upon occasion the red mist still clouds my judgment and vision, although this time was the first in a very long time.

But as I get older, though only middle aged at the moment, I realise that  although my ‘wisdom’ (yes wisdom, I’m not yet a total duffer!) increases my body cannot do what it used to do in my younger years. Certainly my core strength has dropped noticeably since the operation as has my endurance levels, but are these also connected to the body wearing out slowly and not just the op I have to ask my self? It’s quite feasible that the red mist of last week could have resulted in personal injury or worse in a similar situation and then how would I provide for my family? But on the flip side if I had not have stepped up to the plate would my beloved Lucy have been injured or worse by this idiot?(she IS family). Another thing to consider is my nature; yes I’ll walk away given the opportunity but there is something deeply imbedded in my spirit that will just not let certain things go. Call it an overriding sense of right and wrong, which we all have our own interpretation of, but I’d be less of a man and untrue to myself if I walked away from certain situations.

So with the above waffling out of the way, I finally come to the point and that is in this day and age when our nanny state bans the honest from carrying anything apart fro a tooth pick (though maybe this is now also banned) what can a frail (ahem), gentle (splutter) and sweet natured gentleman (what the?) like myself do to avail himself of a little security, whilst keeping big brother happy, upon the trails? Well here’s the rub, three comments from Joe, Mark and Bob shed a little light and gave me the idea. Two suggested stout walking sticks whilst one suggested a priest (club for gently subduing fish), although Wolfy I thing that carrying this in the middle of a forest might be frowned upon, after all I don’t what to looked upon as the aggressor J. But a combination of these ideas lends itself to one idea – the shillelagh. If you’re unsure of what this is here is a short clip from the excellent Grimbo over at Wolfbushcraft and I’m sure that you’ll see the connection to the combination of walking stick and priest. So my first wood working project is set in motion, as soon as I’m up and about I’ll be scouring the local blackthorn copses not for the sloes this time but for something else to dull the senses.

But if any of you have any comment or ideas upon this subject please feel free to comment or e-mail me, after all I'm just a friendly gent at heart (bull......)

Oh and apologies for the lack of my basic photography, but I’m sure you will all let me off this once.

Your friend,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Bad Un?

Tis that time of week once more, as I settle down at my keyboard, to regale whoever may be interested of my last few days ‘break’ in-between the ‘grind’. Why the highlight upon the word break I hear you inquire? (Ok so know you’ve had it pointed out you can now ask!). Well if truth be told going to work upon the morrow feels like it may indeed be a break following these few days exertions, although come tomorrow you can bet a pound to a pinch of salt that I’ll be as miserable as ever once I’ve set foot on the factory floor.

Don’t get me wrong here I’m not complaining, far from it, all this evenings’ aches and twinges are well earned and I thoroughly enjoyed earning them. I shan’t bore you with the mundane suffice to say the bounty from my last post has been fully installed in the holiest of holy places (yes the garage is just become more and more spiritual!), I had a cracking day boarding up Chunky Monkey’s workshop against the winter’s coming chill. I’ve walked me little legs off and my friend and neighbour, Bert, has started to introduce my to the black art of the wood lathe.

But to be honest the week did not start off so promising. I’d headed off to the less well trod trails at loggerheads country park hoping to bolster my meagre haul of sloe berries after a couple of bankers proved fruitless last week. As usual I was accompanied by the lingering odour you all know as Lucy. To reach my last resort for sloe berries we had to follow the main walk through Loggerheads before diverting off cross country to where my last hope of a decent supply of winter warmer hopefully awaited. We’d dropped down to the river now flowing at a good pace, hard to picture the dry bed of just a few weeks ago, to allow Lucy her usual emersion and then climbed back to the main trail, it was here that my week was nearly ruined. As we crested the trail a couple of walkers past us at a fair rate of knots, power walking I think people call it (stupid is what I call it), heading in the direction we were to follow. But then the strangest thing happened, Lucy followed these folk and as she approached them from behind I swear she was stalking the nearest bloke. Now regulars here (is that up to five now?) may have some inkling about the nature of Lucy and I hope that I’ve managed to convey in the past that a sweeter natured friend and companion could not be asked for. I stepped up a gear and watched events unfold before I could reach her. The gentleman (very loose term used here) must have had his spidey sense aroused because as Lucy closed up, still no aggression just a wariness about her, he spun around lightening quick and struck out at Lucy with his walking pole. Time froze for me, the stick whistled just over her head as she read the move, but instead of what I’d expect from Lucy now i.e. the scampering, crying wreck trying to regain my side, something even more out character for her happened; hair now raised from ears to tail she crouched, lips drawn back (I didn’t even know she had teeth) she was tensing herself for the spring. Unperturbed the gentleman (now really stretching the description) raised is stick once more whilst his left hand fumbled in his coat pocket.

I don’t think that I’ve ever cover ground so fast in the whole of my life, leaping onto Lucy smothering any attempt of her to engage further in something that I dreaded. I babbled apologies whilst clipping a lead onto her collar, only to met by a tirade of abuse and foul loathness that had no place being spoken regardless of the situation. Words such as ‘put down’ and ‘bring it here, I’ll do it’ were uttered, regardless of my best Henry Kissinger impressions. At this point the red mist started falling, after all until he’d struck out there was no aggression just wariness on Lucy’s part and secondly she’s family. I tried to defuse matters before things really got out of hand, I really do abhor violence and will leap through hoops to avoid it but if I let the mist control me then I can’t back down and that’s not right or pleasant. But this guy was not having any of it, I tried explaining that this was certainly a one off and had in all honestly not occurred before, again the tirade of abuse and foul loathness of words I’d long forgotten were spat at me. As he stepped towards us I spied what I believe could have been a knife handle now in his left hand, the mist descended and control was forgotten. Raising myself from the crouch over Lucy I dropped the lead, releasing hands and stepped forward myself. Surprisingly my voice was quite as I spoke the next few words “listen to me, my dog has never bitten, not a soul – but I have sunshine”, no swearing or hysterics just a few steps and a statement of intent whilst holding his gaze for the first time. And there it was, doubt or even fear, but his whole demeanour had changed and he was no longer a threat. I turned my back motioned to Lucy to follow and headed back to the car. Once there I couldn’t even get my keys in the ignition for shaking, fear, anger and reaction had all affected me. I couldn’t believe what had just past and I felt sick to my stomach, as I drove home I thought about the events just gone by and hoping that my instincts were right about Lucy and that she’d found a bad un. Enough to say that Clare didn’t get the full story or else all my blog posts would be about cleaning and washing dishes!

I left it a couple of days before loading up the fun cruiser and heading out again, still slightly concerned about the events gone by and Lucy’s temperament, was age catching up to her? We drove up to new trials, unwalked by our six feet, Motorhead’s acoustic version of the Ace of Spades bringing a massive grin to my face. My unease was totally unwarranted the walk was breathtaking in its scenery and colours, and double bonus a glut of sloes discovered out of the blue. We came across one hiker, an elderly gent (proper use of the word) who before I could grasp Lucy’s collar had bent down rubbing her head as if he’d known her all his life. I explained my reserved feelings and reaction to this gent who’d pass as Father Christmas if he’d had more of a girth (oh and a sled with deer, toys and a red suit), to which he just said “nought wrong with this un, must have been a bad un”. Since this we’ve hit the trails once more and Lucy has not batted an eye at anyone, “must have been a bad un” well I hope so ‘cause I don’t like doubting my gal, even when covered in mud. So faith restored I’ll just be leaving you with the usual attempts at some half decent pictures, taken over the second and more productive walks.
Out of her depth?

As found...... Mmmmm squirrels?

 Just a thought whilst uploading the pictures, big or small nature is pretty special isn't it?

Cheers for enduring my musings,

Your friend,


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not smug, just waiting for that cloud

Have you ever had one of those thoughts that you cannot shake? You know something like an itch that things are just going too well and there’s a fall just waiting around the next corner. I mean you’ve all heard the phrases ‘from bad to worse’ or ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ have you not? Now call me paranoid but weeks like this week should not be happening this often to this grumpy, rotund and slightly furry little Welshman. I’ve already spouted off in a previous post about recent good fortune so I just know that what goes up certainly is going to come down at an extreme rate of knots, isn’t it? After all my favourite saying is ‘ever silver lining has a cloud’ so you might well guess where my increasing sense of unease stems from.

Take this week for instance; back to ‘the grind’ after some quality time spent with my beloved Clare (oh and the bog monster of course) to face the usual crap that is part and parcel of being a grease monkey in a factory where everyone believes that line engineers contribute zero to the company’s output (yeah? You just try making fifteen year old plus lines keep ticking over with the limited resources we’re given). Then waking up on the first day off with all the usual aches and pains that this bleedin’ rota from hell gives me and the fact that that temperature outside has plummeted through the floor. No the week was not off to a good start so a walk around suburbia was called for with the added bonus that the sloe berries have had their first frost. So dragging her that smells of stagnant water along we headed out to where I’d previously marked some heavily laden sloe bushes full of anticipation. By the time we’d arrived at my closely guarded secret (pah) I started to get that itch. For there in front of us were plenty of sloe bushes all bereft of berries! I mean come on guys it would have taken the population of a small country to require all the berries that had been there not five days ago. Personally I take just what I require and leave the rest for others, this lot would have made enough sloes gin to keep half of Scotland warm this winter. Ah well I managed to scrap enough together to make just under a bottle (not really worth having), that feeling of foreboding was certainly becoming much stronger. We headed home a tad disgruntled with no mud for the monster and me thinking it’s going to be better if I stay in bed for the rest of the time off in-between shifts.

But then it happens again; as we’re debooting at my hobbit’s holes threshold Albert a near neighbour and survivor of heart by pass surgery calls over enquiring as to whether or I’m human yet after the nights shift (all my neighbours seem wary of me after the rota!) and would I be interested in some wood working tools for a nominal fee towards charity? Turns out that an associate of Bert’s is giving up (at the age of ninety plus) and Bert is in charge of dispersing the contents of his garage. I agree to give him a hand later in the week (today) at we leave it at that. So with me dreaming of perhaps a few hand tools heading my way the day draws to an end, oh if I only knew.
The winter coat's coming along nicely...

The next couple of days flew by, driven into my sanctuary of contemplation and all things soothing (the garage) by some rather persistent precipitation (yep it was pissing down) I was going to tidy some benches but a more ‘pressing’ matter came to light, yep that’s right; converting more apples into cider. This time however I changed tactics slightly, instead of battering the quartered apples into submission and a mash I hijacked the blender from Clare’s kitchen (well what she doesn’t know won’t hurt) and halved my time in producing another gallon of hopefully what will turn into cider of at least drinkable quality. Now I know that my alcoholic producing are as of yet small in scale (you should see Damn’s over at his blog – ye gads the man’s becoming a walking brewery) but hopefully as I learn more the better it will become.

Also this cold snap has made a huge difference to the foliage upon the trials, we were going to traipse around Moel Famau t'other day but a glance at the hill as we approached changed our plans and we headed for the more sheltered trial along the river Alun as it flows through Loggerheads park (Lucy don’t like clean water like rain!)

The walk was short but truly mind soothing, with the flash of brilliant colours the fallen leaves gave coupled with the gurgling sweet sound of the Alun it did wonders to calm the mind and refresh my spirit.

So today finally roles by, after completing the chore list (never over taxing) left by Clare, a rap on the door and Bert's chirpy hello reminded me of my promise to help out today (and the thought of a couple of tools perhaps). Less than a mile away from the Hobbit hole we drew up and met with Frank at his house and were told to sort out what we wanted to sell and bin the rest.  At this point some divine deity from above must have patted me upon the head and said ‘good boy John’. For now abiding in my temple to contemplation are my new ‘hand tools’, consisting of a hardly used band saw, a three speed wood turning lathe complete with tools and various chucks,   a heavy duty router and various other bits n pieces. Yes my wallet is considerably lighter but there is no way that I could have afforded or justified buying this equipment normally so was truly a bonus. The garage has now gone from place of contemplation to a refuge from all the worries that may bear down on me in the future.

So yes it has been another good week in my life, but I’m not smug oh no, just keep telling myself the bigger the silver lining….. the bigger the cloud behind it!

Thanks for taking the time to read,

Your friend,


Heads up for the OBN

Just the swiftest of posts here (more of me own rambleings hopefully this afternoon, but time waits for no man blah blah…..) to highlight something that be stirring upon ‘tother side of the pond and which is spreading its tentacles far and wide. What manner of monster be this I hear ye plead as ye quack in yer boots?
Well the answer is nothing more sinister than a new endeavour started and fuelled by two excellent bloggers Joe and Rebecca. Both already exceptional writers of the outdoors they have now pooled their resources and produced a new meeting place for people who enjoy the outdoors, whether it be hunting, fishing, walking, wild camping, kit reviews, well just about anything outdoors. The beauty of this venture is that it’ll be driven by outdoor loving folk so the direction it takes will be governed largely by what input its supporters put in. It’s an exciting concept and something that will soon become a must for those of us who just want to ‘get out there’.
The name of the beast? It’s the Outdoor Blogger Network (OBN), so go on give it a try, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but with enough input and support I’m positive that it’ll develop into something essential.

Outdoor Blogger Network

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bugger it's back to the Grind.....

Good evening good people of the blogasphere,

It's been a grand few days away from it all with reasonable weather, simple but great tasting food, the quaffing of several draughts of the finest ale, some DIY, some walking, visits to some wonderful places and even some learning. So much so that I am just about bloody well knackered and not really ready for tomorrows 6 am shift start. So instead of me waxing lyrically about our adventures of the last few days (too brief a time I'm sure) I'll just post some pictures for your perusal and hope that you don't mind my bone idleness in this matter.

We're back....

Red Kites at Gigrin Farm

'Irish Pete' trying to educate if!

I hope that the above pictures gave you some inkling about our last few days whilst away from the Grind and the keyboard, apologies for the lack of words but with my body wilting and the affects of a few glasses of wine, not my usual tipple but hey I can be posh - honest, the words refuse to flow so for the time being a visual treat is all that I have to offer.

Thanks for taking the time to peruse thus far.

As always, your friend,