Category Archives: DEATH

Nomadic crockery

people-walking-in-rainLet’s look at the evidence, ladies and gentlemen:

  • it’s cold
  • it’s p*ssing down
  • it’s dark and dreary

Yep, must be summer.

On the plus side, since I last posted (OK that was a while ago, but I’ve been busy – more on that later) England have regained the Ashes, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah have won World Championship gold medals, Banksy has taken over Weston-super-Mare, and Chris Froome has won a second Tour de France.  The football season is back (ermmm…yippee?), Blackadder may well be on its way back (definite yippee for that one), and a new series of Dangermouse starts next month (so much yippee for that one that I may have just had a bit of an accident).

But let’s calm down for a moment and look at the bigger picture.  No wait, that’s boring.

Instead, let me tell you why I’ve been so horribly lax in my blogging of late.  It’s not very exciting really, but justifiable – Chez Hobbit has relocated from Devizes to Calne.  Now those of you that have moved house within recent memory will recall the butt-clenching horror that surrounds a move, and this one was made all the hairier for being a sale combined with a move to a rental property that had to be fit for cats.  Now landlords the world over may love pets, but they sure as hell don’t want the pesky little buggers in their properties, and that meant a very nervous time whilst I found somewhere that was (a) large enough for all my tat, of which there is plenty (b) nice enough to sate my snobby tendencies, and (c) cat-friendly and close to family to enable cat-sitting duties when I am away.

Luckily I found a place in Calne pretty quickly, though I had to loosen the purse-strings quite considerably to make it happen.  And for a few blissful moments I was chilled about it all…even got moved in OK (though not without a few bruises and scrapes to both furniture and myself), and looked forward to unpacking.  Our big old cat Fudge was inserted into his new house which – with the expected level of feline disdain – simply became a different big box to lounge around in.  He 20150806_190404_HDRsettled in very nicely, but then after a few days started to show signs of really not being very well at all, in an oh-my-God-he-looks-so-old kind of way.  To cut a not very long story even shorter, we had to take the horrible but inevitable decision to take him for one last journey to the vet’s, where he was sent on his journey to be with his sister Cassie, who we lost earlier this year.  So after all that faffing about finding a place he could be happy in, he lasted nine nights in his new home.  To say that I was heartbroken would be an understatement, and the house feels…well, odd.  Not only does it still feel like it’s not my house at all – still boxes everywhere, new bits of furniture, can’t find anything in the kitchen, the usual things – but now I have no cat.  For the first time in 25 years I’m not opening the front door to a squeaking ball of fluff demanding food.  It doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel normal (for my definition of normal), and it doesn’t feel like home.  Not yet, anyway.  It will, I am sure, but right now it just feels soulless and empty.

But the whole relocation episode has introduced a new term to me, one that came about thanks to a beery discussion in a pub in Nottingham.  I was discussing the house move with Jon and Joanne from The Rather Tasty Tea People, and specifically how many of us in the western world have a propensity to hoard things and never use them.  My example was cups and saucers.  I have plates of three different sizes, dessert bowls and pasta bowls from the same Denby range – all of which get used regularly.  But the matching cups and saucers?  Unwrapped them 10 years ago in Devizes…put them in the cupboard…wrapped them up again in July…unwrapped them in August in Calne…suspect the cycle will repeat at some point in the future.  All of which Jon described as ‘nomadic crockery’, which I thought was a very romantic and lyrical way of describing migratory earthenware.  I have visions of teacups on majestic stallions sweeping across the Mongolian steppe, yurts in the distance…

Kerry stall 2Time for some congratulations.  The Pink Chilli Hobbit, otherwise known as Kerry, has been working bloody hard to develop her company PinkBox Boutique, and she has been given a Mumpreneur 100 Award in recognition of the quality of her business and her commitment to getting it going whilst dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a mother and grandmother (oh, and the difficulties of having been married to me for a few years, but let’s gloss over that bit).   Many, many congratulations to Kerry, well deserved, and of course we hope she’ll continue to be one of our band of itinerant chilli peddlers for many years to come!

You may recall in my last blog that the South of England Show was notable for the large amount of pastel-coloured corduroy trousers on display.  The New Forest Show, along with frankly epic amounts of dust, departed from that theme by going for Blazer of the Day instead.  There must be something about these country shows that brings out these kinds of people – you don’t see them anywhere else, with the possible exception of a Cotton Traders catalogue – but at least it gives us traders a bit of a giggle when we spot a candidate and start waving at each other in a ‘did you see that one?’  kind of way.

Shortly after my trip to Hampshire I worked at a very unusual event, a pet show near Coventry.  This was notable for several things.  Firstly, the wasps made their first appearance of the summer, and all I can say is that I hate the bloody things.  Nasty, stripy little buggers, coming over here and stealing our jam, why don’t they bugger off back home…  As a consequence I now have one of those zappy tennis racket-type things that makes a very satisfying BZZZZZZP noise when I catch one of the winged terrorists, so that’s satisfying my blood-lust somewhat.

20150802_084611_HDRSlighty more relaxing were the alpacas.  Very cute, very skittish, very curious about the world about them, they look fab and damned well knew it.  Proper posers.

The most surprising thing I saw, and had the privilege to hold, was a skunk.  A lot bigger than I’d anticipated, and one of the most chilled-out, relaxed critters I’ve ever had the good fortune to cuddle.  Not in the least bit smelly and really relaxed, he was virtually asleep as soon as his owner handed him over to me.  Not called Pepe le Pew though, which I thought was virtually the law, like all spiders being called Boris.

20150802_101854_HDRLastly was the Burmese Python.  Big, heavy, and lovely to hold, he was definitely not of the cuddly variety, but if any of you have held a snake before you’ll know that they are gloriously silky smooth and not creepy at all.

One thing that I saw, it being a pet show and all that, was several of what I like to call ‘handbag dogs’ – you know, the yappy little sods that are danger of being trodden on and squished – wearing hats.  Trendy baseball caps…spangly peaked caps at rakish angles…dear God, one of them was also wearing a tutu.  A bloody tutu.  Now I am well aware that people will treat their pets as children, I know all too well from recent events that they are showered with love and affection…but if I made one of my girls dress up in a tutu and a spangly baseball cap I think I’d have received a 3am visit from the paramilitary wing of the NSPCC.

20150802_102502_HDRI’m guessing that my mood at the pet show wasn’t helped by the lack of sleep I’d had in the hotel I was using.  The walls were a little on the paper-thin side, so much so that the herd of elephants in the next room managed to make more noise than two skeletons shagging in a tin bath, and to be fair I think they were only cleaning their teeth.  Repeatedly.  Banging cupboard doors at 4am in the process.  Maybe it was the NSPCC preparing a raid…

And on that note, I will leave further rambling thoughts to another day.  I’ll try not to leave it this long next time…though I think I said that last time as well 🙂



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.