Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dammit, Janet

Hello once again, I must have some time to myself as I find myself in front of the laptop writing a blog.  Twice in a week, this is becoming habit forming!

Whisper it quietly, but the sun’s out (briefly).  Now I’m not guaranteeing a barbecue summer or unending long evenings spent sipping Pimm’s on the verandah, but it’s nice out there right now, let’s hope it lasts.  Of course we’ve not hit Wimbledon fortnight yet, which is a usually cue for epic downpours and – regrettably – outbreaks of Cliff Richard.  You have been warned.

20140507_135002So we’ve been planting.  This is not a fun job.  I’m not just talking about getting a few pots and compost, and bunging seedlings in.  No, this is grovelling around at floor level, poking holes in groundsheets, thrusting plants into the ground type stuff.  Now when you’re a hobbit of advanced years such as myself I do wonder just why I’ve chosen such a frankly painful career digression, when there are perfectly serviceable shelves that need stacking.  But there I was , craft knife in hand, playing the role of hole-cutter-in-chief whilst Simon followed up and poked plants through said holes and into the ground.  Our combined ages are getting perilously close to a century, and we’re the oldest two on the farm, so how the hell did we end up doing that job?  Obviously age does not bring wisdom or we’d have found a less taxing job to do.

But that’s it – the crop’s in the ground, and looking mighty fine it is too.  As is always the case, there’s everything from the quite sensible to the frankly bloody incendiary stuff growing, including some strains new to us.  I look forward to seeing the plants grow up during the year, and give us all those lovely pods we need.

Last weekend saw a flurry of activity round the country, with events in Cardiff, Gloucester, Salisbury, Chippenham, Bath, London and Cowbridge being covered by us.  Some were good, some were average, some were altogether a bit pants…but you win some, you lose some.

Talking of losing, my big adventure of the weekend was a trip to Wembley Stadium to watch Swindon Town play in the League 1 play-off final.  As a seasoned supporter of some 38 years I’m well accustomed to the ups and downs of sport, and am quite aware that sometimes, just sometimes, you may just as well have stayed in bed.  Sunday was one of those days.  We were well and truly given a lesson in How To Win An Important Game by Preston, who were simply far hungrier than we were for the win.  We looked good in small doses, but really from early on it was only going one way.  An experience like that is quite pne-007deflating for loyal fans such as myself, but at least I have the emotional fortitude to just suck it up and get on with life, not like some of our so-called fans who were hurling abuse at the players after the match.  Idiots like that don’t get it – no professional (or amateur, come to think of it) sportsman goes out to lose, or play badly – sometimes it just happens like that.  Or maybe – just maybe – you have to give the opposition credit for having done their homework and beaten you fair and square.  No team has the right to win all the time, despite Arsene Wenger’s protestations to the contrary.  Ah well, there’s always next season.

Gay Bond at RB&WBack in the chilli world, and this week we launch into big event season.  Even as I type, Jamie, Bond and Beard are at the Royal Bath & West Show, one of our biggest events of the year.  Jamie spent an inordinate amount of time last week measuring, sawing, then nailing pieces of wood into other pieces of wood, and subsequently varnishing the ensuing creations a colour that wood never quite reaches in real life.  To be fair, I only saw the half-finished creation, so it may match the Mona Lisa for enigmatic glory once it’s all set up, but of one thing I am absolutely, 100%, stone-cold-certain – Jamie will not be happy with it, and next year he will be furiously sawing and hammering once again!  If you’re down at the RB&W make sure you hunt us out – we have two stands set up – we’d love to see you.

And whilst you’re there, check out our friends PinkBox Boutique…naturally Kerry won’t have the WCF range with her this time as we’re also at the show, but she’ll have some lovely stuff for sale at stand 412 (the Westridge Marquee) – she’ll certainly be glad to see you!

Not content with that, we’re also at the continental market in Kilmarnock and the Monmouthshire Food Festival at Caldicot Castle this weekend – so that’s Britain covered.  Oh, and Swindon…we’ll be there on Sunday as well…does Swindon count as Britain, or has it seceded from the union yet?  There are some days when it certainly feels like it’s more like an alien world than a large town in Wiltshire.

That’s it for this week folks, time for me to prepare for the weekend’s hostilities.  Be careful out there!

Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.


Blinking into the daylight

Well hello there fellow chilli fans…it’s been a while!  It’s been…whoah…how long?  To use the lingo of young, text-happy, folk – soz 😦

I could go into great detail about why I’ve been so quiet, but frankly there are no good reasons.  It does go a bit quiet at the start of the year, but once we’ve recovered from the mayhem that is Christmas there’s plenty to do, to report on, and to wax lyrical about.  I’ve just been a lazy arse and not done it.

Of course events take a bit of a back seat at the start of the year.  Everyone’s broke, the weather’s a bit pants and no-one comes out to play.  There are times when I’m trying my damnedest to sell on a grey February day, when the damp and the cold is seeping into my bones, and I bemoan the lack of customers…and then I think – would I g0 out on a day like this if I didn’t have to?  Invariably the answer is no, I fully appreciate the lure of a duvet day or a long Sunday lunch down the local.  Oh, how I remember them…

20150227_122432Cooking does take a bit of a back seat, and we at the Farm end up discussing all sorts of cunning plans for world domination that are not necessarily ready to share with Joe and Jane Public.  Especially the bit about the chilli-powered assault rifle being developed to deal with the upcoming zombie apocalypse.  Or the continued collaboration with Mr Hoppy as we attempt to stitch up Ivan Dobsky once again.  Some of us even have holidays and a general recharge of batteries, those self same batteries that will now start to get very run down for the next 9 months.



And now we’re heading back out, getting ready for another year of repeated assaults on the senses.

So what’s new?

20150308_164612Well, we’ve had a new tunnel built over the last few months.  When I say built, I mean we, a group of cack-handed and maladroit buffoons, gathered over the course of two or three sessions and created a magnificent, shiny erection.  Much swearing was sweared, many, many insults were bandied about and lots of criticism was directed at the DIY-challenged…but said erection now houses a growing number of plants of varying types, from the milder end of the spectrum to the frankly bloody stupid.  And there’s still a lot of space in there for more plants, which we will manage to fill in no time at all.

Another major exercise we undertook over the fallow period was to put down a new floor in our kitchen.  Now this might not sound like something that requires much elaboration, but stone me it was a task and a half.  We’re not talking about common-or-garden kitchen lino here, this is – as you’d expect – proper industrial kitchen style dimply, grey, tough, unbendy and downright bloody recalcitrant stuff that tested the finest minds of our generation.  Well us, at least.  We sweated, strained and swore at  the damned stuff for the entire duration of the operation and I can safely say that what we have now is grey.  And dimply. But it does the kitchen floor thing really, really well and has added an air of much-needed dimpliness to and otherwise two-dimensional floor situation.

On a business footing, we’re trying to turn the Wiltshire Chilli Farm into a classy, well-oiled business machine by having regular meetings and even going so far as  to have minutes and actions and all that guff.  It’s rather like pushing jelly uphill with a stick, but with exception of the occasional bout of verbal fisticuffs it’s all making progress.  There’s far too much to do and we all have these brilliant ideas that sometimes hit the rocks the moment we try to set sail in them, but there are outbreaks of sanity and the odd eureka moment.

20150409_184147One of the things to come out of our brainstorming sessions have been some new product lines – peanuts and biltong.  There are two flavours – the lovely moderate smoky Chipotle, and a buttock-clenching Bhut Jolokia for the serious chilli fiends out there.  They’re all gert lush as our Bristolian chums would have it, available from all of us itinerant chilli peddlers and of course the online shop.

During one of our meetings we discussed our entire sauce/jam/grinder range, and killed a few off.  However, just like a zombie peeping tom, some have magically resurrected themselves and are making a right old nuisance of themselves.  It seems that our attempts to kill things off have been scuppered by public opinion – we keep getting orders for products that we try to retire.  So I don’t think that anything will ever truly die – but it might only be available online, and then not all the time.

color_nimoy_headshot Talking of dying, which is not a pleasant thought at the best of times, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t mention the passing of Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett.  As a kid growing up in the 1970s Nimoy was of course a massive part of the Star Trek series that I remember watching, seemingly almost constantly.  His passing, although sad to hear about, cannot be said to have been a shock – I seem to recall saying to myself during the JJ Abrams reboot of Star Trek released in 2009 ‘bloody hell, he looks old’.  Maybe not that old for a Vulcan, but nothing lasts forever.

Tpratchetterry Pratchett’s demise was sadder for me, mainly due to the fact that I am a huge fan.  I remember buying the first Discworld novel in 1983, whilst I was away at university, and have bought and read everything since.  His creations were interesting, deep, though-provoking and in many cases downright absurd – but in every case they made me laugh, and laugh out loud.  I have long since lost the paperback copy of The Colour of Magic, but when I saw Sir Terry give a talk in Devizes a few years ago I decided to replace it, so I now have a lovely hardback edition signed by the man himself.  I don’t often do the fan-boy thing, but with STP I was prepared to make an exception and join the queue.

20140629_064838The last and hardest passing was a very personal one.  One of my cats, Cassie, lost a very brief battle with a catalogue of medical issues, and we had to make the awful decision to let her go.  She’s appeared in this blog a few times as she always loved jumping up into my van when I was loading up, but now I’ll just have her brother, Fudge, to fend off – and he’s a lazy git so doesn’t help me load the van often.  My reaction to her passing was to descend into a very unbecoming blubbering heap, which really isn’t classy for a hobbit of my advancing years, but luckily I have a teenage daughter that showed me how to behave with a shred of dignity.

That’s enough of the sad stuff, a quick note about events.  There are lots of them.  And we will be at a goodly number, oh yes we will!  We’re fighting a constant battle to get the Wiltshire Chilli Farm’s calendar on the website working properly, so keep checking there – or on the Facebook page, we try to update that regularly as well. Come and find us, try out new stuff, eat some old stuff, regret trying the God Slayer, and have a giggle.  We don’t do serious, you know us…

On that note I will close for this week.  The plan is that I’ll be updating this on a regular basis from now on – assuming I can find the time – so keep ’em peeled, there will be more random bollocks coming before you know it.