Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Chateau Rock Chef, 2014

For my birthday, my daughter bought me a small wine making kit.

I loved it.

I used to dabble in home made wine many years ago, and have thought about getting back into it on and off over the years.

So, anyway, I got it all going, and the initial fermentation has finished, and I have now been letting the sediment clear.  It is looking very nice for a kit wine.  I will be bottling it up tonight, to be set aside for a few months before tasting.  Christmas at a push, I guess!

In the future I will resuse the hardware in the kit to make more wine from the fruit, rather than the grape concentrate which was in the kit.  I will be revisiting some old favourites, such as spiced apple wine, and trying a few new ones too.  The great thing about this set up is that it only makes about 6 bottles at a time, so we won't be getting bogged down in our own private wine lake, we can just have a rolling, low level production.  If a batch is bad, no big loss!


Monday, 8 September 2014

A bad week...

A combination of calamitous crap piled up to make last week one that I will not remember with fondness...

It started off with me catching one of those nasty, painful coughs - the sort where you think that your lungs are tearing themselves loose when you cough.  I stayed in bed on Monday, but by Tuesday I thought I was on the mend.  The ride to work told me otherwise, and I went home at lunchtime.

I stayed at home on Wednesday and have been on the mend since then, but it has been a slow process.  If I have not totally shifted it soon I will go the see the doctor to see if I need some pills to finally kill it.

Running along side this was an issue with the band - the guy we had doing most of the singing was not really working out, so I took the role of Bad Guy and told him the bad news.  It was a shame, as he is a great guy and I did not want to upset him.  So I am not primary singer until we find someone who can REALLY sing (if that ever happens).

There has also been a running story in the British news that has dragged us back to bad times.  A family has a 5 year old boy with a brain tumour, and not being happy that they were getting the best treatment at their hospital took him to Spain while trying to arrange treatment in another European hospital.  The hospital knew of their plans all along, but at first professed ignorence and called the Police who issued an international arrest warrent for the parents, suggesting that they were religious nutters who wanted to take the boy away and pray for a cure while denying him the proper treatment.  It all became a total mess, with the hospital then making new statements which contradicted previous ones.  It was this which stirred up bad memories of when we were trying to get answers from the hospital regarding our daughter's death - repeated, contradictory statements which we were not allowed to argue with.  This was a terrible time that we have tried to put behind us, but I guess it will always be there...

With the approaching weekend and my chest still not totally better I had a hard choice to make.  I was supposed to be going to the London wargames tournament, using the Scottish army that I have been preparing on and off for over a year.  By Thursday I knew that I had to bail out - I would not be up to it and was not convinced that the other players would enjoy my sporadic coughing fits during the games.  So my Scots spent the weekend in their box, instead of causing mayhem on the battlefield.  Ah well, I will try to get a game with them soon - once this cough has gone.

So, enough self-pity - this week must be better, eh?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Me "singing"...

Well some of you asked for this...
This was recorded on my camera at a practice, so the sound quality is pretty rough.
There is nothing to see, the camera was just sitting on a chair...
I think this was during my second week standing in as a singer.  While trying not to listen to my dodgy vocals, you might be able to pick out how nice my 8 string bass guitar sounds....

Thursday, 28 August 2014

At the Beach

Mrs RC and I went for a walk on Sunday, our last chance to run away from things for a while.
We grabbed some fried chicken and had a picnic on the beach.  It was cloudy, giving bursts of hot summer sun from time to time.
While we sat, ate and chatted I noticed that the land on the other side of the estuary (where the River Thames joins the sea) was extremely visible.

I am convinced that there has been a subtle shift in the land, during my lifetime, that has affected this.  As a child I remember being able to see a faint hint of something on the horizon.  Later, a few bigger buildings could be seen, but now look at it!  OK you are probably dreadfully underwhelmed by this, but it is a big thing for me and this is my blog, so please show how impressed you are in the comments section!  :-)
OK, I accept that wise decision.
Last night I took a long route home.  The weather was nice and I had to call on the guitarist in my band to collect copies of his recordings of the band and to get a new, shiny metal control panel for my slowly developing Flying V bass.
The route home took me through where we used to live, which was a strange experience - haven't been back there for about 9 years.  A lot has changed and a lot is still very familiar.  I felt oddly like a tourist, to be honest!
On the way back along the beach, I noticed that a lovely sunset was developing and had to stop several times to take pictures.  I have been experimenting with the exposure time on my camera and like the results


NOW tell me you are not impressed!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Oh dear...

My younger brother just nominated me for the Ice Bucket Challenge.

I will be doing it at the weekend and will post my video here as well as on Facebook.

Hope the weekend is nice and warm...

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

They think it's all over...

and I agree...

My holiday time is over - nearly a month - and I am now back at it again.  No more days of waking up and wondering what to do with the day, no more drifting into consciousness, going for a slow stroll with the dogs, grazing for breakfast, etc.


Summer has gone, and work has returned.  Life can be so cruel  :-)

But at least today's weather has not got me thinking that I could be sitting in the garden, sipping beer, chatting to Mrs RC and painting toy soldiers.  No, from just before I got to work it has been raining more or less constantly.  Sometimes as a fine drizzle, sometimes like it is suggesting that we all build big boats and start loading up the wildlife, but it has not stopped as far as I can see.

Just wondering if it will stop before hometime....

Funny how much confidence affects what we are able to do, isn't it?  Doubt yourself for a second and you are likely to fail.  Is this why there are so many over-confident idiots in positions of power?  I point to most of the UK government as an example, posh people from posh schools, most of them have never been allowed to fail at anything, and are now failing to notice that what they think is good for the country is appallingly bad for a lot of the people who live here - not to mention those who are overseas and are affected by the choices they make...

Anyway, back to the point - for years I have not been able to sing.  I knew I couldn't do it and every time I tried I sounded awful.  But recently something changed in me.  It was while on the isle of Lundy, there was a lot of discussion about all sorts of stuff, and I came away feeling subtly changed.  On the island I wrote a short song and sang it to the group.  It wasn't great but I felt that it was not as bad as it used to be.  Then the singer of our band went on holiday and I stepped up to the mic to cover for him, after the guitarist had declared that he could not play and sing at the same time.  OK, I am not claiming to be Sammy Hagar, but given that I only had 3 rehearsals as singer, I don't think I was bad.  Might even have some audio later in the week for you to listen to!  And I loved doing it too!  All comes down to confidence, standing up to the mic and singing from the heart.  Confidence...

Friday, 22 August 2014

RIP Humphrey

It seemed that he was going to last for ever.

For the last 3-4 years, the vet has been hinting that the next winter would be his last, but he kept on going strong.

But over the last few months, one of his legs was clearly not right.  Arthritis had set in, and it was now clear that it was not fair to keep him for another winter.  Any other horse or pony might have been happy in a stable for the cold months, but not Humphrey who was a true out door type who would only take shelter in the worst of conditions.

So this Wednesday, the vet paid a visit and Humphrey is now at rest.

He was in his early 30s, and was on his way to slaughter when my mum rescued him in the late 1980s, so he had a charmed life really.  I am sure he is having fun again now...