Changes

I’ve never really had much of a goal in life. I have never really followed any particular dream, other than to avoid stress and enjoy myself. I never really wanted to be rich; not enough to suffer doing something that put me under a lot of pressure. I’m a hard worker, but I have always lacked the direction to achieve anything really great. I envy those children who grow up with a clear and achievable goal, and work and study their way there. I was quite good at a lot of things at school, but my abilities and interests were always too broad for me to see a clear path that I should take. All the major steps in my life have been determined by what seems like a logical progression from the last thing I did, rather than as a stepping stone to any particular destination.

I feel that I have been quite lucky in many ways. I expect to have paid off my mortagage in about 3 years time, and then I can start to focus on gathering reserves for the future, rather than paying off the needs of the present. I have decided that I want to go in to business for myself, but first I need capital. I have no intention of going to a bank for that money. Once I have paid off the mortgage I intend to never ever be a debtor to anyone ever again. I would like to either buy a retail franchise or set up my own retail venture. Having worked in retail management for nearly 20 years, I am confident in my ability to make this work. I would like to make profits for myself rather than my employer. I enjoy my current job, but I won’t be happy with myself if I am still working as an employed retail manager in 10 years time.

Right now I am totally focused on building up the roots from which a future can grow, for my family and my daughter’s future. Our dated bathroom with the cracked bath panel can stay as it is for a few more years. Our kitchen’s blown work surface can be tolerated a few more years. My family has two old cars; one is 15 years old and the other 17 years old. Those cars can limp along as long as they are doing the job. What I want is to have capital. I am now chasing real money, not the appearance of money. I feel that I am approaching the brow of a watershed in life. I just need a few more years in the same role, and then I will be in a position to carve out a new role. I work in a crappy old industrial building, that is literally falling apart, and has recently been purchased by a home-building property developer. This is a very tense time for me. I am on the cusp of really getting the drop on life, but I need things to stay as they are just for a few more years!

Lansky the Puck

Today I sharpened my hand axe for the first time ever. I have had it for more than 10 years, and it was very blunt and battered. I received my ‘Lansky the Puck” sharpening stone in the post today, and went to work this evening. It is a very rough and ready method; you just hold the puck firmly in your hand and make circular motions against the cutting edge, hoping that you are holding it at a good angle. My first attempt tonight was far from perfect, but my little hand axe now has a half decent cutting edge.

Here is my axe before sharpening:

And here it is after:

 

I have a huge pile of wood to get through since taking the tree down, and I want to rely on my log grenade and hand axe rather than the chainsaw, because the chainsaw makes a huge pile of mess, plus it is noisy and consumes a lot of electricity.

Cold cure

I woke up feeling quite rough this morning, so I had a raw spring onion for breakfast, followed by some homemade seedy bread covered in parsley and garlic sauce, which was followed by said bread dipped in some humous with three cloves of fresh garlic added. I am now eating a Chicken Bhuna for two (I’ll be the judge of that) with two minced cloves of fresh garlic added right at the end and a big glass of red wine. My last day off sick was in May 2014; I know what I am doing.

Mackerel, Broccolli and Green Bean Pasta

Below is an image of some pasta I made earlier today, in the company of a neighbour’s cat and a glass of soave. In a previous life, the glass was a small jar of Nutella; these make really nice little glasses once the Nutella has been eaten.

This is one of my family’s favourite dishes, and my daughter has happily eaten this since she was about 4. The recipe is my own. I enjoy the novelty of it; pasta normally involves either a tomato sauce or lots of cheese, and this has neither. It is however really nice if you add a big dollop of marscapone or basic cream cheese right at the end, but it is very nice as it is. I now normally make it with lots of Brocolli, but on this occassion I didn’t have much broccoli so I upped the veg content with some green beans.

I start by gently frying a whole little tin of anchovies (together with the oil they are preserved in), with garlic and chopped onion, while frequently stirring. I add a little extra olive oil. On this occassion I used garlic-infused olive oil. I do this just until the anchovies have all broken up into a paste and the onion is nice and soft. It is important not to brown the onion, because this isn’t good for the flavour. I also add a glug of Worcestershire sauce at this stage. Because of the anchovies, you really don’t want to add any more salt.

You end up with a nice dark and salty sauce.

Next I put in the green beans with just enough water to cover them, then cook the pan with the lid on for a few minutes while I prepare the broccolli and pasta.

I measure the pasta using a dinner plate; for my family of two adults and one little girl, I find that if the pasta evenly covers a dinner plate then that is spot on. The broccolli is chopped into small pieces, and on this occassion I also added some chopped sweet red pepper to boost the nutrition a little and add some colour.

 

The broccolli goes in the pan at the same time as the penne pasta. For the first few minutes I leave the lid on the pan, and then for the last few minutes the lid is removed so that the sauce reduces. A tin of filletted, boneless mackerel is stirred in right at the end. It is pre-cooked, so there is no need to cook it.

Once the pasta has cooked, so has the broccolli. You can then add lemon juice and black pepper, and some cream cheese if you must, then give it a good stir. Then eat it!

Dropping a tree between two sheds

Here we have my recent moment of glory. My wife had finally decided that she had had enough of this bothersome pine tree, and I agreed. The needles dropped all year round, and they were spikey and made the ground slippery. The needles were 10cm long and got stuck in everything. The tree was also pushing up the paving stones, hogging lots of light and just generally in the way.
I found a 40cm electric chainsaw for just £60, and spent HOURS watching YouTube videos on how to fell a tree. It’s fantastic how much you can learn on YouTube. I used the bore-cut method, and it worked beautifully. You cut a hinge on the face of the tree where you want it to fall, and then you plunge the chainsaw straight through the tree, and work it back and forth, leaving a strip of wood behind the hinge, and not cutting right through the back of the tree. You then hammer a wedge in the bore cut, and then take out the back of the cut. Having done this I then hammered the wedge in the back of the cut until the tree went on its way. In theory the tree should go down in the same plane as the fibre of the hinge, which is what happened. Spending £7 on a proper tree felling wedge seemed a bit of an extravagance seeing as I would probably only use it once, but it actually doubles as a serious doorstop for the door to my lean-to, so it was money well spent.

Processing the carcass and the stump was several days work. Taking the tree down was 15 minutes work, but dealing with the aftermath was the serious labour. It is now all neatly stacked up in the back corner of the garden, and I have ordered a log ‘grenade’ to deal with the larger bits of stump. Where I have cut the stump down to ground level, I have drilled holes which were then filled with potassium nitrate and water, which should speed the rotting process. I would have loved to have burnt the stump out, but it is way too near the wooden sheds.

 

The awesome Number 7 band doing their thing

Funky Superstition (LIVE) – Number 7 Band

Happy Friday! Here's our super-funky version of Superstition!

Posted by Number 7 Band on Friday, August 18, 2017

If you get the chance to watch these guys, then go.

Revamp

I have decided to run WordPress on the frontpage of my website. I have disposed of my old blog, which used to sit in a sub-folder of ericdesign.co.uk, and I am starting again here. I have determined to post stuff here a lot more regularly.