Monthly Archives: May 2014

Mr Angry has spoken


First up this week, an apology.

I am sorry.

There, I’ve said it.  Read into that what you will.  The gentleman that has sparked this wanton outpouring of regret, the gentleman that yesterday threatened and intimidated me loudly, aggressively – in fact furiously – will not know precisely what I am sorry for, because the full text of my apology has been written and subsequently deleted, from this blog at least.  I am not going to get drawn into the kind of foaming, spittle-flecked exchange that he obviously gets his kicks from, as his kind of verbal terrorism has no place in a civilised society that values free speech and tolerance.  I simply will not have any part of it, sir.

So, again – I am sorry.  But not what you think I ought to be sorry for.


And with that, we’ll move on to a life more chilled, in fact more chillied.

Having said that I’m going to move on…I am somewhat dismayed by the election results that have come out over the last few days.  I don’t hold a great deal of love for any major political party, working on the theory that MP/MEPs are either:

  1. Career politicians with no knowledge of real life
  2. Eton poshos with no knowledge of real life
  3. Junket junkies with no knowledge of real life
  4. Decent honest people that have been caught up in the helter-skelter of Westminster and have therefore lost touch with real life

upper class twit

So really – Nigel Farage is our best hope?  Here’s what I found in my dictionary:




1.  Nigel Farage

2. Boris Johnson

3.  The Chilli Hobbit, especially after a few adult beverages

Would you really want any of these people running the show?  I wouldn’t vote for me, I know what I’m like 🙂

(Gets off soap box…which is a shame really as it’s the only way I can reach stuff).

LetscookSo it was mega-busy at the Chilli Farm last week.  As Jamie’s at the Royal Bath & West Show this week we were on double shifts to cook enough supplies.  Much cooking, bottling, labelling and swearing was undertaken as we did our best to make sure our detailed estimates on stock requirements (not finger in the air guesstimates, honest) have been met.  We think we got it right…not sure though…time will tell.

20140525_105843The weekend, with the exception of what shall forever be know as ‘The Oxbow Incident’ referred to above, was a blast.  Saturday was a Royal Wootton Bassett day, Sunday was Bath Green 20140526_094647Street, and Monday was Salisbury International Market (complete with a race car for some reason).  All busy, sporadically dry, occasionally windy, amusing incidents aplenty and many, many tasters of God Slayer suffering the after-effects.  It never ceases to 20140526_100932amaze me how many people taste it, recoil in napalm and lava-fuelled shock, then say something to the effect of ‘bugger me that’s tasty, I must have one’!  It’s a remarkable testament to the endorphin rush created by the chemicals in chillies as well as the fantastic tastes that Dr Jamie creates in his laboratory kitchen.

The Pink Chilli Hobbit has returned from a lovely week on the Isle of Mull and gone straight back into the coal face, or as close a coal face as Bradford on Avon can muster.  She received a visit from a couple from New Orleans, on their hollybobs in the glorious rain of the UK, who were mightily impressed with the Chipotle Chilli Sauce and bought some to take home with them – to show Louisiana how it really should be done 🙂

nap-attackIt’s a busy couple of weeks, we all have lots of events – and BIG events.  As I mentioned above, Jamie’s at the Royal Bath & West over the next few days; also this week we’re in Frome, Bath, Swindon, Oxford, Marlborough, Bristol, Lechlade, Evesham and Kenwood House in London.  We’ll need a bit of a lie down after all of that.

Well, a hobbit can’t live on chocolate chip cookies and Planet Rock alone (try though I might).  It’s time I located the kitchen and pretended to cook.  The authorities have been warned.


Recalcitrant owls


Go away, it’s Monday and I’m not coming out to play

Well, where do we start this week?

Weather-wise it’s been absolutely fabulous over the weekend…unless you’re called the Pink Chilli Hobbit and have headed off to the wettest, windiest place in the UK – the Isle of Mull.  It’s her annual holiday destination these days, and I expect to hear tales of whales and discussions on puffins when she gets back next week!  It does look great up there though, it just tends to catch what the Atlantic weather systems throw at the UK square in the teeth.

So I’ve been let loose from my normal habitat of the south of England this weekend just gone, venturing up to the vaguely northern climes of Cheshire.  I know that’s not really very far north, but when all the place names are redolent of rugby league teams it must be far enough up to warrant the description.  Tatton Park just outside Knutsford (City Limits) was the destination, for a country show that turned out to be distinctly less tweedy than Thame a few weeks back.  I’m guessing it’s because the area is much more premier league footballer than rich landowner, but the comparisons are fascinating:

Thame – lots of labradors. retrievers and spaniels

Tatton Park – yappy little handbag dogs and posh terriers that have never seen a rabbit outside of the Waitrose meat section

Thame – tweed everywhere, plenty of it functional

Tatton Park – Hollyoaks chic in abundance, fake tans and tattoos on conspicuous display

Thame – accents varying from Mockney to West Country, with an abundance of Home Counties

Tatton Park – Scouse and Manc accents, with the occasional Black Country frontier gibberish thrown in to remind me of my days at North Staffs Polytechnic.  Nearly needed a phrase book at one point.

SignThe one thing that was markedly different from Thame was that my renewed lollipop supply remained firmly in place, although it was severely depleted by the end of the weekend.  Maybe it’s my sign that helped keep the felons away!

It’s certainly gained a few retweets today via Planet Rock radio.  It seems that my  attempt to ensnare a straying WAG put a smile on a few Monday faces.

And did it work?  That’ll be an emphatic no 😦 Will just have to keep putting the sign out.

What’s with the owl reference, I hear you all cry?  Alright, alright, maybe not all of you…but someone must have thought it.  Well it’s like this…there was a falconry display held in the main ring a couple of times each day, and what became apparent after watching it from King Gazebo is that:

  • Gyrfalcons are really fast, incredible agile and stylish
  • Harris Hawks are really smart
  • Barn owls are the dumb blondes of the bird world – gorgeous to look at but nothing between their perfectly formed tufty ears
  • Owls can be stubborn, ornery cusses

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The last fact was very apparent with one owl that was – to be fair – just coming back to show work after a long period on the sidelines.  After being released from his training line for the first time in 2 years he just sat on his perch and looked as confused as a UKIP politician trying not to sound racist.  After much cajoling, offers of tasty morsels and noises designed to encourage owlish types he sill sat there, refusing to budge.  In the end the handlers had to go and carry him back to his box.  Well, it was hot – why fly when someone can carry you?

As well as the falcons there were some serious outbreaks of cute…I give you…drum roll please…FLUFFY BUNNIES!!!

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I love the fluffy bunny huddle in the second picture – it’s like they’ve seen me with the camera and suddenly gone ‘sh*t, he’s seen us – how do we get out of this?’ 😀

Another thing that struck me about the area around Knutsford is the ostentatious wealth.  The houses are seriously upmarket, and the de rigueur architectural feature appears to be a bloody big front gate, preferably wedged between pillars of some considerable size.  And you know what I didn’t see whilst passing any of these houses?  People!  All the houses appeared locked and uninhabited, although immaculately maintained.  I guess when you have enough money for a house like that, you have enough money for several houses like that.

20140518_081418This was in the car park of the B&B I stayed at – a gorgeous, beautiful old Bentley.  I saw it on the road as well, and the noise from the engine was just wonderful.  It may not be economical to run, or meet EU emissions rules, but by ‘eck it has soul.

My 5-mile journey from the B&B to the Country Show took me past Range Rover, Bentley and Rolls Royce dealerships, huge cubic behemoths of showrooms with millions of pounds worth of vehicles inside.  I could almost feel my trusty 145,000-mile Peugeot van shrug with Gallic haughtiness as I drove past 🙂

Some final shots from the weekend – more hook-beaked raptors, and the guys from the Seven Dials Rapscallions – possibly the best-dressed shoppers I’ve ever had.

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Back to the farm this week, lots of production to be done to stock us all up for the next couple of weeks, which will include the Royal Bath & West Show, one of our flagship events.  For this weekend though you can find me at Royal Wootton Basset, Bath Green Street and possibly Salisbury (still awaiting confirmation on that one!).  The Pink Chilli Hobbit will be in Bradford-on-Avon on Sunday (if she doesn’t trip over a puffin on holiday, that is).  We’ll also been in our usual haunts of Bath, Swindon and Oxford, as well as Petersfield, Crabstock in Northampton and Marble Hill in Twickenham, the home of odd-shaped balls.  Blimey we don’t half get about.

Have a great week and look forward to another bank holiday weekend!

Now we are 50


Never too old for balloons

Age is a funny thing , you know.  It only seems like yesterday that I was young, vibrant, fit and healthy (well…young, at least).  By the time you read this there’s a very good chance I will be eligible for membership of the Saga old biddies club, Tuesday being the dread day when I reach a half century.  Now as a cricketer I should be jolly glad to have made it that far without feathering a nick to the slips, but Goddammmit I’m now officially, irrefutably, unequivocally middle aged in number, outlook and creakiness.  Becoming a granddad was one thing, but now I can’t even pretend to be anything other than a crotchety old git, even if I have, by action,  been one for years.  I hope there’s more to being 50 than getting the right to wave The Daily Mail irrationally at Eastern Europeans.

On the subject of creakiness I can confirm that I’m not cut out for a career at the front line of horticulture.  I spent last Wednesday at the Farm helping with planting and other such deeply green-fingered activities, and even though it only a half days’ effort on my part I can safely say that I have not ached so much in a very long time.  Despite being closer to the ground than most (a fact pointed out by Jamie before he was threatened with a broom-shaped enema) the mere act of repeatedly bending down to insert green things into brown stuff led to me later uttering the full range of old man noises…on getting up out of the chair…sitting down on the chair…getting into the car…out of the car…in fact, pretty much any movement at all.  Kudos to the regular heavy lifters at the farm, Simon and Aaron, not sure how they do it.  My late Dad, who often despaired of my total ineptitude in a gardening environment, must have been looking down on me from above, chuckling quietly to himself.


Striding purposefully

Friday saw me waging a mostly losing battle with the fiendish device that is our bottling machine.  I now know, after much stickiness, that Sweet Chilli Sauce is a right little so-and-so to bottle, it’s very stickiness tending to make it form air pockets in the neck of the bottle with significant resultant spurtage (stop sniggering at the back).  Of swearing there was much, and I was thankful that the remaining batches to be bottled (jarred?) were both jams.  Just the searing heat of the jars to contend with, then.  Who needs fingerprints anyway?


Stick Duck

The weekend was spent either (a) sheltering from the wind (Sherston) or (b) being battered by it (Chippenham).  Either way it seemed to frighten customers away, so I’ve had to cancel my order for the pied-a-terre in the south of France, for now at least.  Soon…

More news about Frome (who knew there was so much to report!) – I will no longer be a regular at the Cheese & Grain Farmers Market, though I may make some guest appearances.

We will still be going to the Independent Market though, so you can still get your fix 🙂


I’m off on my travels away from the Shire this weekend coming, making the long(ish) trek to Knutsford for the Tatton Park Country Show – let’s see if I can keep hold of my lollipops this time.  Should be fun, I hope I get luckier with the conditions that all those traders at the Badminton Horse Trials (who were, as expected, all guilty as charged).  If the mud didn’t get you, the Lesser Spotted Dive Bombing Gazebos did.  It’s a real shame when all that expense and hard work goes unrewarded 😦

Also this weekend we’ll be in Devizes, Wallingford, Swindon, Oxford, Bath, Newbury and Ulan Bator.  Actually one of those might be a lie, just checking you’re still reading.

That just about wraps it up for this week, I’m off to do exciting birthday preparation like putting the out recycling and feeding the cats.  Rock, and dare I say it, roll.


Not related to me at all







The Abominable Dr. Sythes

Greetings chilli chums, and welcome to more rambling thoughts from a fevered imgination.

I’ve been having an internal tussle with precisely what to use as the title for this week’s post.  ‘Gazebo Envy’ was a real contender, which came about because somehow, with no knowledge of what I was doing at the time, I appear to have bought a gazebo that other traders lust after.  Now I know that a bit of 20140505_122645snobbiness came to the fore when I bought it (‘I’m not having the bottom of the range’) but little did I know that market organisers would be pointing it out to traders whose own canopy has just sailed over the rooftops and saying ‘that’s what you should have bought’.  Maybe it’s the colour (which was a deliberate action on my part to make it stand out from the crowd), maybe it’s the perceived robustness (it’s pretty damned solid), or maybe it’s the fact that even a dullard such as myself can put up the thing single-handed.  Whatever the reason, it appears to be gazebo royalty.  All hail King Gazebo!

‘Alarm Bells’ was another title contender.  Those of you familiar with Tim Vine’s work will know that not only does he trot out pun after pun with barely enough time for you to keep up, but he also sings a wonderful little ditty by the name of Alarm Bells (watch it at if you’re unfamiliar).  So, to paraphrase the punslinger:

When you host a chilli fest then that’s just great

When you want a chilli vodka well that’s OK

When Jamie gets involved…alarm bells, alarm bells, alarm bells…

Now there is a reason for this of course.  Last week friend of the farm Dawn, who is organising the Oxordshire Chilli Festival, came to make some sauces in Jamie’s kitchen.  Now this was achieved with the minimum of fuss, only sporadic swearing and the usual amount of ritual abuse of anyone within hailing frequencies.  It was only when Dawn mentioned that she wanted a chilli vodka for use at the Festival launch party that The Abominable Dr Sythes’ eyes lit up…and to cut a long story short, before we knew it there was a bottle of vodka absolutely rammed with scorpions, habaneros, chipotles and ghosts.

20140430_155624Normal people would, of course, have added just a chilli or two – maybe as many as ‘a few’ to the vodka.  Not our Jamie, heavens no, nothing so half-hearted.  Now far be it from me to suggest that Jamie is on a mission to inflict real pain on the inhabitants of our sceptered isle, but I tasted the results – just the tiniest amount, barely enough to call it a tasting really – and damn near passed out on the spot.  I’m glad I didn’t try a proper shot of it or I strongly suspect my insides would have become my outsides, and at some considerable speed.  Quite, quite extraordinary, and not a little combustible.  Probably the hottest thing I have ever tasted.

Luckily, surviving the experience left me to contemplate a very busy weekend under the ruddy auspices of King Gazebo.  Thursday saw me in Bristol’s Temple Quay as the rain kept the punters away, but I still preferred to be on the outside of my old office looking in at my desk (I wonder if it misses me?).  Friday was bitterly cold and I spent the morning moaning about the weather in Tidworth, but the market’s building slowly and I think it’s going to be a good one.  Our guys in the forces like their hot stuff, and I’m more than happy to help them test each others chilli mettle 🙂

20140503_091806Saturday was my home fixture in Devizes, it was a really lovely spring day and our newest product, a scorpion chilli chorizo made for us by Pete at The Cotswold Curer, was extremely well received.

Damned tasty it is, it won’t be around for long and I hope we get to order some more!

The biggest problem is not eating all the samples.  I’ve had to display unaccustomed levels of restraint all weekend, and as someone who is generally no stranger to the pie shop I have surprised even myself.

S20140504_094505unday saw a first for me at Frome’s Independent Market.  Now I’m not sure what I expected having never been before, but it a lot bigger than I’d anticipated and consequently was very, very busy.  Having mastered the slope I did a brisk trade all day, and am looking forward to returning next month.

20140505_122705My final outing of the weekend was to a very pleasant event at Wanborough, in the form of a May Day Fayre.  Another lovely day brought the crowds out, I was mobbed all day by the locals who obviously love their chilli stuff, and before I knew it I was packing up and heading off home for a lie down and an adult beverage.  A really nice village event, well run by the locals (although Luisa’s Cupcakes did have a pitch-related crisis early doors, for which I was glad to help ameliorate – I look forward to my payment in cupcake form) and it’ll be great to go back.

A day of planting at the farm awaits tomorrow (I can already hear my aging bones complaining), and what purports to be a quiet(ish) weekend beckons.  I can be found in Sherston on Saturday and Chippenham on Sunday – hope to see you there.  We’re also in Oxford, Kenilworth, Bath, Devon and Swindon over the next few days, so hunt us down.

Finally, good luck to Claire from Hive Originals, who will be trading at the Badminton Horse Trials this weekend with the Pink Chilli Hobbit as her able assistant.  I know this is a massive event for Claire so I hope it goes really well.  Fingers crossed!

Well I think my Sunday roast is nearly ready (I know, but I work a wonky work week remember) so I’ll sign off.  Have a great week and speak to you soon.