Monday, 27 June 2011

Well it didn't rain

Was very busy on Friday and as such did not get around to the barbecue. Busy, was the wrong sort of busy: Busy at work, how tedious and unnecessary. Instead, Friday afternoon was spent with dad attempting to get the blue cub up to scratch and back on the road. All we had to do was get the bloody rear indicator stalks back on to the bike. What a palava!! It started to rain so we had a rum or three and called it a day. Makes me wonder what we would do if running repairs are needed during the journey.

Thankfully Saturday was a bit brighter and the barbi went ahead. Another visit to Phil's sausages, more Boerewors and pork but also some pork with chorizo (he had no merguez). Great stuff! As usual all of the food went, thanks to Dylan, Dan, Bill and Sam. Need to start planning a proper sausage trip as soon as Bill gets his moped bought and on the road.

After an extra bit of effort, a a dropped C90 at least once, the blue cub was finally back
together and on the road. Tuesday (tomorrow) is the planned day to make an attempt at the trip up to Oakhanger. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Who is Billy Figgy?

As a child, on my visits to my grandparents who lived on a council estate in Wallsend, my Granda would ensure compliance with references to a mysterious bogeyman called 'Billy Figgy'. He had used this with my dad and my aunty and uncle, always suggesting that if we did not behave, 'Billy Figgy would get us!'
I have just had a discussion with my dad and more information has come to light. He told me that at the age of four or five he was talking with some kids who leaved close by, Irish possibly, who talked of Mister Figgy in hushed reverential tones, this made an impression on my dad. This must have been around 1950. Some time later, after a hunt for Billy in the loft of the home of these children my Granda became aware of the potential of this and took it on.
A few years later, at the age of seven or eight my dad was aware of a mentally disabled man who would direct the buses in Wallsend and equated Billy Figgy to him, this was probably not right but still had an effect.


Any help gratefully received.

Why is nothing simple?

Cub stress!!

We now have both C90s off the road. The blue cub only needed to have the indicator stalks replaced, in the words of Aleksander the meerkat, 'Simples...eek'. Wrong! It couldn't be more complicated. Dad has been working solidly on getting this fixed and we nearly cracked it today, then the rain came. We need to get the job sorted early tomorrow as the great sausage barbecue is imminent. Well, the preliminary barbecue anyway, the big one is two weeks away for Bills birthday.

Hoping that there is good news tomorrow.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Jolly boating weather, NOT!

There are areas in the Atacama desert where it has not rained for hundreds of years. I could do my bit for the bleached and desiccated mummified inhabitants of this region by declaring my intent to hold a barbecue. It would piss down straight away, guaranteed. I was sitting here, at work, looking out of my window marvelling at the blue skies and planning what sausages to buy when a great big, black cloud hoved into view and began to rain on me. Best it has cleared off before tomorrow afternoon.
Thanks to my dad for persevering with both cubs and hammering them both into a roadworthy state. The blue cub should be back on the road tomorrow, I may shuffle off to Phil's on it to get the sausages for the barbi, if it happens.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

BBQ on Friday - Many sausages

The progress on the cubs is slow but we are slowly getting closer to Bills birthday. I've planned a big barbi for his party with exotic meats and sausages so a trial run is required this weekend I think.
I also need to finalise the route to Greece, which may or may not change depending on the continuing domestic situation there, it's supposed to be fun remember. Right now I haven't thought beyond Strasbourg and Munich (Oktoberfest!!!) and haven't even started looking for a vehicle. So much to do.
Better get off my arse and do something I suppose.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Keeping Black Hound separate

Decided to keep a different blog for all Black Hound activities and to keep Pirate Badgers on their own.

Hopefully the red cub will be on the road by the end of the week. It's raining now though so no progress.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Black Hound again, and the sausage shop is shut!

Spent the last few hours getting the Black Hound relaunch sorted out. It's amazing how two sheets of paper can change your perception on a great many things. An article on electronic publishing sent to me by a work colleague, Paul, has changed the whole Black Hound approach to publishing. In February this year, in America, the sales of electronically published books outsold paperbacks for the first time. The implications of this are manifold, initially and obviously the impact on existing, conventional publishing houses is clear. The knock on effect is less obvious, publishing agents, printers, ink makers and even carpenters (book cases) will be effected. I need to get the Amazon shop front sorted and the ISBNs bought and understood before we continue with publishing.

On a separate note after the fantastic encounter with Phil's sausages last night I returned to his shop at three thirty to buy a selection, but, guess what? Yup, he closed on a Saturday at three-thirty, bollocks!! Will use the correct method, the Cub, to return next week and get the required produce.

Back to Black Hound, more later.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The sausage trail begins...

The decision was made, by me I guess, to make today the first real day of the sausage trail today. As mentioned before, 'Previously on the sausage trail!!', the intention was to compare a few types of sausages. We already had the wild boar sausages from Tony's fresh fish in Gosport and had made it our mission to find the award winning 'Phil's Sausages' in Lee-on-Solent before we cooked and rated the sausages.

The greasy, cold unseasonable rain was a bit off putting as I pulled off the Lee seafront and slowly drove down the parallel High Street. A conventional butchers drew my attention, Emma was keen to stay dry in the car whilst I explored, but was ve
ry clearly evident that it was not the correct outlet. As I followed the street numbers and approached the area, I saw ahead an obvious awning sporting the monicker, 'Phil's Sausages'. I had driven past this place once and failed to see it, I am such a nob. As I entered the shop I felt somewhat elated,; Phil stood in a corner with a sausage making machine generating his craft. I couldn't believe that in this day and age a shop could be so 'kin brilliant.

A lone crusader against the superm
arket invasion, Phil was a refreshing sight. The sausages were fat and inviting. The uncooked sausages did look quite nice....;-)

They did, but the grill was a bit manky.

Cooked, the sausages looked
somewhat better.

Thankfully they were eventually cooked. The fantastic aroma wafting from the grill had kept me and my dad in rapture for the duration. I sliced them and served.

The verdict!!

We all voted on all sausages, out of ten. When I say all, I mean Me, Emma, Dad and Beth. The results are as follows:

Phil's Sausages:

British Pork 31/40
Boerewors 32/40

Tony's Fresh Fish

Wild Boar 27/40

We will be having the rest for breakfast...hehehehe

I love sausages and will continuing the trail tomorrow, cheers Phil your sausages are awesome. The upshot is that the British Pork from Phil was excellent but the South African Boerewors was so different it was excellent.

The other point worth mentioning was that I did not visit Phil's on the Cub, that will come.

Badger on all!!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Schedules mean different things to different people

Having worked in a number of jobs where the schedule means everything, milestones, deadlines, resources, inventory, etc, etc, etc. At the moment the schedule drives our workload, output and varies the perceived productivity. It's all bullshit and nonsense! That's schedule to a project. A schedule to me now means my itinerary for the next couple of years and work is the means to generate the funds to facilitate that.

I now have the ideas and the drive and will start the plan tomorrow. The first thing to do is to finalise the schedule, then the route, then the writing.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sausages close to home

The sausage trail has officially started. Today I found that the local fish and game shop, Tony's Fresh Fish, in Stoke Road, Gosport, has wild Boar sausages. This combined with the notion to visit Steve Humby in Portsmouth and Phil's sausages in Lee-on-Solent will give us a great breakfast on Sunday.

Thanks to big John Walton for the sausage intelligence on M & S Cumberland sausages, will definitely check that out. Also, just found Simon Majumdar's article on the 'Love Food' website about the best bangers in Britain, he was and is my inspiration to seek out the best in class!!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Black Hound is back

Some time ago Emma and I had the idea, well to be honest Emma had the idea I followed where she led, to create a small publishing press to showcase up and coming horror authors. For one reason and another this did not survive beyond our second publication, Atrum Tempestas. Personalities and politics from the authors we tried to help proved too much, we lost a lot of money and vowed never to do it again. However, the market is such that Emma has decided to give it another go with a new anthology entitled Phobias. I love the idea and really hope that we attract a good bunch of writers. Also, our friend, Joe Jenkins and his partner, Sylvia are attending the writers convention in Winchester and will be promoting us as well as their ventures, thanks for that guys, we really appreciate it.

Dad is back from Newcastle tomorrow and will be hopefully lending his ancient and experienced brain to the sausage effort, in particular getting the red cub back on the road.

My security clearance is about to expire, two months to go, so I need to retire and find a PC that is running the right browser to access the right website.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Is it too much? Or not?

So much to think about at the moment, just wondering if I have done the same old cyclical 'uck up and taken on too much yet again. I have the right approach with regard to my family for once, in that I am putting them first with everything I do but it's the work thing that gets to me, I am so bored!!!

OK, at the moment, I am ploughing on with my novel as well as starting the travel book following the sausage trail. The Blackhound publishing project is once again on track and the planning for the rally to Greece, this year, and Mongolia, next year is firmly underway. All of these activities involve my family and some are instigated by them so I don't feel too selfish with the busy itinerary. It's just that work is getting in the way, big time. I do realise that it pays the bills and keeps our head above water, but it's been four years and I am so bored.
The weekend was so good, meeting family and old friends that I haven't seen for so long made me realise that we, as a family need to do this more often. Everyone was fantastic and on form.

When I got home, Stephen, The Sausage King, had emailed me. I was excited. The sausage trail is about to begin. Setting out rules, I have decided that the main trail, all the way to Mongolia, will be on the C90s, as will some of the UK. I will however creep around in my car a bit just to get the feel for the sausage element of the trail.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Back from Newcastle

Tired and a little hungover. Met some old friends and new ones too.

Friday, 10 June 2011

A day off

Well sort of. We're off to Newcastle for my mum's memorial. Just friends and family and a few drinks. No sausages, cubs or otherwise until Sunday.

Realised that I need to throw myself into writing my novel as well. I seem to have written myself into a bit of a corner and as time progresses I find my thoughts and feel for the piece becoming more and more distant. It won't take long to get back into it but time seems in short supply.

Will try and write some more interesting blog stuff when I get to the hotel.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The little things make all the difference

I managed to get a little bit of work done on the red cub today. The lumpy running was solved with a jubilee clip worth nearly a pound. This combined with the new exhaust, thirty quid, and the real problem, a gasket worth just over a pound means that I have proved that I know absolutely nothing about mechanics.

Where does that leave us? I am about to write a book about eating sausages whilst riding a small motorcycle and know nothing about sausages and even less about motorbikes, what can possibly go wrong?

I really hope that Stephen, The sausage king, will be able to meet up prior to the main start of the sausage trail. Back to the not knowing of anything about y subject, hoping that Stephen will be able to provide some advice on what to look for and judge as far as sausages go.

I also managed to nearly finish the foreword on my book, not really the meat of the sausage but certainly a start.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

How did that happen

One of the questions that has hovered in my mind since I decided to begin writing 'The sausage trail' has been; At what point do I start writing? There's always so much to research and plan but when does the story begin? The answer struck me today. I am researching and planning now so I should start writing immediately. I also realised that the final copy does not have to contain all of the written material.

With that in mind I aim to start the writing process tomorrow with a catch attempt to bring me up to date.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Planes, trains, automobiles, boats and sausages

A busy weekend. Arrived in France and, as mentioned yesterday, bought some sausages for a barbeque, just to see what the country had to offer. My ignorance was such that I had no idea of you could, in fact, purchase sausages in France. Black pudding, 'Bourdin Noir', white pudding, 'Bourdin Blanc' and 'Saucisson Porc', although I have no idea what that was (I know what it means but I had no idea what was in it). All the basic fare and nothing special sought for. I did pop into the local butchers in St. Yrieix La Peche but he only had a limited offering. I knew that Intermarche had their own butchers so went there instead. I do realise that this exercise is equivalent to a foreigner visiting the UK to rate our wide and varied selection of sausages and buying some walls bangers and an Asda value pack then judging the entire British pork industry on the results so, please rest assured there was no judgement.

I think it is fare to say that I now know the lowest common denominator for the sausages sampled and will hopefully ask advice prior to returning in the near future. There is an annual farmers market near to my parent's house in a quaint, stereotypical French village, Segur-le-chateau, where all manner of local produce is sold, from meats and fish to sausages, bacon and vegetables. After they have been purchased from the local farmers at their stalls it is then possible to cook them on the charcoal fires and barbecues that fill the land behind the auberge in the village centre. This takes place every Monday in July, I believe, and will be more representative of what is on offer in France.

The 'Sausage Trail' begins in earnest in July with a visit planned to, in and around the South-East of England. I have nominally pencilled in a few visits and will endeavour to expand on these with any help offered gratefully received.

As I write I'm sitting waiting for the ferry to slip and proceed back to Portsmouth. There is no power on earth that would be able to force me to sample the food currently on display in the canteen.


Just realised that I didn't give a basic summary of my sausage experience. As I promised I won't judge on the basis of a bag of supermarket sausages but what is clear is that the French like their 'Bourdin Noir' somewhat softer in texture and with more blood than our domestic variety, there were also less juicy lumps of fat and a more solid skin. The 'Bourdin Blanc' was bland with a spongy texture and seemed to contain more rusk than anything. The French 'banger' was pretty good, not a very high meat content I would guess but I liked it.

One day I will learn how to rate a good sausage!!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

French sauages

Finally figured out what was wrong with my dad's internet account and have the opportunity to post a quick blog.

I realised that I had no idea what the French had to offer on the sausage front and as such visited the nearest Intermarche supermarket to see what generic sausages they had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised and will be posting the results when I get home.

On a completely different note dad and I visited the new family addition to our already complicated family tree. Despite a bad press from their daughter, they were an absolute joy and I honestly hope that we have more contact and communication with them. If you are reading, thank you both for your hospitality.

Need to write more when I have time, and with many photos.

More later.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A change of direction

Well in a way. The Pirate Badgers website is currently undergoing an extreme makeover to reflect the inclusion of the new 'Sausage Trail' mission. It seems I have so much to write before the journey even begins.

The East Midlands food and drink festival is happening on the 1st and 2nd of October, great. That's the day after we arrive back from Greece so I may have to re-plan or think of a different approach to visiting the East Midlands, probably not though.

A new map is also forthcoming and some photos of the machines we are taking. It's all very difficult as there are many promises and ideas but very little happening with regard to the trail. Driving back, with my newly plugged tyre, this afternoon, I contemplated the question of when is the correct time to begin recording events for the trail? I am in fact beginning the preparation and planning now and as such I guess should be documenting these facts.

Off to France tomorrow to pick up dad and drive back in the Micra. The odd thing , well only odd considering recent events and plans, is that the only really British pork curing for bacon and sausages in France is on the route between Limoges airport and my parent's place. It's shut tomorrow though.

Before I forget, I've also given the blog a new address so be vigilant!!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Missed a day.

How on earth did that happen?

Not to worry. Spent some time today looking at a schedule for the sausage trail. A long weekend a month until we leave for Mongolia will allow us to travel to every region on mainland Britain, I still need to concentrate on specifics but the bare bones are there.

I also heard from The Sausage King who has extensive knowledge and expertise on the subject of sausages as a delicacy, I hope to enlist his help further.

Early night tonight as my back is still troubling me and I have to be up early to sort out a puncture on the car. I will endeavour to write down all thoughts and developments then.