Category Archives: Football

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.

 

Rage Against The Machine

If you’ll excuse the double entendre, it won’t be a long one today.  That’s partly because (a) I’m tired, (b) I’m late starting this today, and (c) it’s been a relatively quiet week at TCH Towers.

20140810_120846

Bertha

20140810_141939

Not Bertha

When I peruse my work schedule I often scare myself with the daft trips I plan…the recent bounce around England via all points motorway-shaped being a case in point.  So this weekend I had a short markets in Bristol, Sherston and Swindon – and it almost felt like a weekend off.  Pleasant enough events, steady trade, weather was OK (despite the horror stories put out by the BBC’s weather doom-mongers about Hurricane Bertha) and I got to Monday without feeling like I’ve been to the moon and back.  The other chilliwallahs were in far-flung outposts of Empire (Chichester and Edinburgh for example) – but this time I got to sleep in my own bed for the weekend and the cats haven’t disowned me for desertion.  Of course it won’t last, I’m off on my travels again this weekend.

I even got to see Swindon Town play on Saturday – that’s a real rarity in August as I usually play cricket, but with the change in emphasis this year I made the most of working a local market to get to the County Ground in time.  It was worth it as well, an opening day win in the sunshine…the defence still looks as watertight as a sponge, but hey – if they score 4, we’ll score 5.  It’ll be entertaining, if nothing else.

Wilts businessSo is there anything of real import to tell you?  Well, not really.  I did make the cover of a local magazine, but apart from that, not a lot.  No rants this time round.  No tales of Fawltyesque hotel stays.  No Biblical deluges.  No giant wasps causing havoc and carrying small children away.  No exotic locations.  In fact, I think the only other thing to mention is a minor triumph against one of the banes of modern existence – the traffic camera.  You see, I managed to pick up a ticket a few weeks back by transgressing into a bus lane in Reading.  Now I’m normally pretty good with these things and it was entirely accidental, but I thought I’d take it on the chins and pay up…until I looked carefully at the photo on the penalty notice.  I spotted a reason to appeal, and to cut a long story short, the appeal was upheld.  It’s probably a damning indictment into the banality of my existence that this is worthy of a momentary whoop of triumph, but hey – whoop!  That’s one less bill to pay 🙂

20140807_112807On the chilli product front we’ve just brought out our grinder sets – these look fab and will make brilliant Christmas pressies for the chilli fan in your family.  Come and find us wherever we are and we’ll gladly relieve you of some hard-earned cash.  Nothing new there, of course…

robin-hood-lady-1024So what’s on this week then?  Well, a couple of days cooking, a Farmers Market Association meeting, an attempt at some down time on Thursday (like that’s going to happen) and then off to Nottingham on Friday for a food festival in Wollaton Park.  It’s a part of the world I have never visited, so I fully expect to find everyone dressed in Sherwood Green and carrying a bow and arrow.  Stands to reason, really.  The Pink Chilli Hobbit will be holding up the Wiltshire fort as always, at the Wanborough Show on Saturday, and Swindon Designer Outlet on Sunday.

And that folks is that.  Told you that, like myself, it would be short and sweet this week!


Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness

 

 

I’ve seen some things, man…

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog, and for that I am not remotely apologetic.  According to my calculations I’ve covered nearly 1,500 miles in that time, attended a number of events of varying shapes and sizes, got very dusty, very wet, and very annoyed.  Let me explain.

The last time we spoke I’d had a lovely event at a village fete and was full of the joys of summer.  Well folks, it’s all gone a bit south since then – but there have been highlights as well.

DSCF8001First up comes a trip to the RAF Museum at Cosford in the West Midlands.  They were hosting their second food festival, and hopes were high of a successful event.  The setting certainly was a bit different – in the shadow of a Hercules transport plane, near a hangar containing all manner of winged beasties of various vintage.  There were some really interesting things in there, and I was allowed to wander around behind the barriers unaccompanied before the site opened to the public (just mind your head, they said…do they not know I’m a hobbit?).  It was really interesting to be able to get up close to the aircraft, be able to peer inside and see just how basic some of the old aircraft were.  No in-flight entertainment here, folks.

DSCF8022

Another real highpoint of the show was a fly-past by a Douglas Dakota, which buzzed the festival on both afternoons.  I have to admit to having abandoned my stall on both flypasts – it’s not often you get to see that sort of thing in your work environment!  I managed to get some OK-ish photos even though it’s bloody difficult to pan a 30x optical zoom bridge camera to keep the object in frame and keep half an eye on your stall at the same time!

DSCF8033DSCF8031

The hotel I stayed at for this trip was a modern monstrosity in Telford, bland on the outside and functional on the inside.  What made my stay memorable were the exchanges I had with the staff on my second night there, which just goes to show how even a bland corporate hotel can be great.  Situation one – I managed to break the loo in my room.  The flush just broke.  These things happen, especially when loos are faced with swallowing the by-products of a chilli-based diet.  Anyway, I had to report this to the front desk, and on my way back to the room with the duty manager and the young receptionist I was asked whether I was a serial killer.  There was a reason for this – the duty manager was reading a book about a killer who was disposing of his victims down the drain, and naturally the Train-asks-passengers-to-not-to-flush-goldfish-and-ex’s-sweater-into-the-toiletobvious cause of my blockage was bound to be discarded brains and intestines and sundry other gooey bits, stands to reason, can be no other explanation.  The poor receptionist – not on the same wavelength as the two of us – looked a little taken aback, but soon got the drift of the silliness going on.  Anyway, bog confirmed broken, room swapped with no fuss.

sausagesSo then it was off to dinner, but with a complication – the bar and restaurant were shut because of a wedding reception, with one of the hotel’s conference rooms adapted for use as the restaurant for the evening.  I walked past the room first up, then doubled back to find it and asked the waitress ‘is this the pretend restaurant’?  She mocked indignation, so I changed my description to ‘temporary’ which met with a better response.  I ordered sausages & mash with gravy, which duly arrived…the waitress informed me that ‘if you want more gravy just ask…I won’t get it, but you can ask’.  I like staff like that, they worked me out pretty quickly and just had a good giggle.  I’ve spent many years away staying on business, and having a bit of banter with the staff can make even the most routine of stays a memorable one.

That’s in stark contrast to the owner of the B&B in Keswick I stayed in this last weekend.  He almost seemed to treat it as an inconvenience that I was paying him to stay in his establishment, and the fact that I didn’t see him again after checking in speaks volumes about his gregarious, victorhappy, cheerful people personality.  No names will be mentioned as I have lodged a complaint about the ‘hotel’, though I don’t expect to get any recompense for what was the most undistinguished hotel stay ever.  It wasn’t bad as such, just…well…featureless, cheerless, and depressing.  Staying away by yourself isn’t all beer and skittles I know, but I love travel and have worked out how to do it pretty well over the years.  This was one of the very few occasions when I was just uncomfortable in a hotel room, and thought long and hard about checking out after the first night and sleeping in the back of the van.  I didn’t, but the thought was there.  At least the local pub served a decent meal and pint of beer, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

The event that led to this trip up north was the Lakes Chilli Festival, a sizable event that unfortunately fell foul of the weather.  There was of course torrential rain everywhere on Saturday, but the Lake District kept it up all weekend.  A fair number of tickets had already been sold so quite a few people turned up anyway, and of course anyone in the Lakes is used to those conditions, but it definitely kept numbers down.  It was a shame, as it would be a fantastic event on a good weekend.  The Lake District is a spectacular part of the country, one of my favourite parts of England – I seem to have a thing about any region with serious amounts of ‘up’.  Regrettably because of the weather I was unable to take any decent photos this trip, but that just gives me an excuse to go back!  The irony of event organiser Mark wearing a Superdry t-shirt – under a rain jacket – was not lost to us stall holders.

20140802_141645 20140802_101050_2 20140803_112910

In between Cosford and the Lakes was the New Forest Show in Brockenhurst.  Jodhpurs aplenty, tweed everywhere, and the pervasive whiff of horse poo – ah, it must be a country show!  The abiding memory of this one will be dust, thrown up by visitors as they walked around.  We had lovely dry weather for the whole show, the downside to this being that even in the food hall a hell of a lot of dust was in the air, which settled on displays, stock, stall holders and anything else that didn’t move very fast.  The normal start to a day at a show is a quick tidy-up 20140731_073045of the display followed by a cuppa – not this time.  Everything had to come off the table for cleaning, which led to the sight of bunch of male stallholders dusting – causing much amusements amongst the ladies!  The show was pretty good though, plenty busy enough, though I expect the ice-cream sellers did best of all.

One thing that did come to my attention is the epidemic of tattoos in the younger generation.  As it was a warm few days there was a lot of flesh on display – which had its good, and bad points – but I was taken aback not by the percentage of young people with tattoos, but by the percentage of flesh covered by those sporting body art.  I swear to the FSM that there were some lads and lasses Tattoos-21387475351wandering round that must have been almost entirely made of ink, such was the bewildering array of images on display.  Some of the artwork on the ladies was designed to draw attention to…well…parts of the body that you could get slapped for staring at.  There seems to have been a collective decision made by the yoof of today to not give a fig about how these things are going to look in a few years time, or in a more formal environment like a job interview.  Now although I’m not a fan of tatts in any form, if they can be covered up when necessary then that’s fine.  But unless some people are going to start wearing a burka there’s no way to hide some of these things.  Faces, necks, earlobes, kneecaps, teeth – every available inch of body space is now a canvas for something which is supposed to make the wearer unique, but when everyone seems to have a tattoo…well, it sort of defeats the object, doesn’t it?  I know this is beginning to make me sound a bit old-fashioned, but the word I have for all you walking galleries is moderation.  It’s something that a lot of people appear to have forgotten about – that less is more – and that somewhen, someday, you’re going to regret having that tattoo of your childhood hero Rolf Harris writ large across your forehead.  Can you see what it is yet?

And just don’t get me started on body piercings…

Of course none of this ranting made it into the interview I did with BBC Radio Solent for their Drivetime programme.  I’ve not heard it, but a few people said they had the next day, and apparently I didn’t come across as a gibbering buffoon.  Which is nice.

20140801_185242If you remember back to the start of this post (which is a long time ago I realise, there’s a lot of rubbish in my head to get out there this week)  I mentioned that I’ve covered a lot of miles in the Silver Machine recently.  Well, a not inconsiderable amount of that has been spent at snail’s pace on those miracles of modern transport infrastructure, the motorway.  I have had a lot of time to think of horrible, horrible ways to visit excruciating pain on those that designed the MSDFADO EC034M5 and the M6 in particular.  Were they actually designed, or did they just congeal from the fetid outpourings of some kind of asphalt hell instead?  My journey to the Lakes took 9 hours in total, a good proportion of which was spent thanking my lucky stars that I’ve just had a new clutch installed a couple of weeks back, as it was nose to tail for mile after mile after tedious mile.

alfaBut as always, my mind started wandering.  I was drawn to a number of things as I stared out at the endless sea of tail lights ahead of me, one of which was just how funky tail lights are becoming.  The advent of LED lighting has led to some whizzy designs these days, such as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s scrollwork…Jaguar XFs just look cool (well, they do from any angle)…and even workaday motors like the VW Golf and it’s sister SEAT Leon look pretty cool.  It makes things a little less dull in the queues.

Another aspect I noticed was the preponderance of personalised number plates.  Now I’ve dabbled with the idea of getting one in the past but then come to my senses, but they seem to fall into two schools:

  • those made up of initials that are fairly nondescript but mean something to the owner
  • those that spell out ‘humorous’ words or names

Now from what I’ve seen, those drivers in the first category are pretty normal (unless they’re in an Audi).  Those in the second category seem to drive like kn*bs.  It’s as if they’ve decided that reckless driving fits well with their zany sense of humour, my how we should laugh at them as they tailgate at 80mph in the rain, chuckling to ourselves as we notice their number plate spells out something like H 1 PPO or S 3 XXY.  The things you see when you don’t have your AK47.

fairydustAnd while I’m on one, what about the ‘Powered By Fairydust’ stickers?  You’ll see these on a Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio, driven by a lady who is almost invariably not terribly fairylike…usually quite pretty in a ‘she’d be really gorgeous if there was just a bit less of her’ kind of way, but let’s be realistic – the only dust in her house is likely to be on the exercise bike in the spare room.  And before you all say it – yes, I’m a fat knacker myself, but I don’t go round putting stickers on my car that say ‘Svelte Sex God’ or the like.

And relax…

So there we have it.  I’ve got it all out of my system, my therapy session is complete for this week.  See, this is what happens when I miss a post.

It’s still all go, go, go on the events front.  We’ve just got over one hump (Dorset Chilli Fest, Lakes Chilli Fest, Commonwealth Games among others) but we still have a bundle to do in August.  This weekend is another big chilli fest down at West Dean in Sussex – Jamie’s all lined up to do that one, it’s one of his big events.  We’re also at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and Edinburgh’s Foodies Festival, so once again we’re covering the country in pursuit of chilli happiness.  I personally will be having a quieter weekend, only making it as far as Bristol, Sherston and Swindon.  I’ve chosen to stay closer to home as my winter torture starts again on Saturday – once more unto the breach of the County Ground and hoping Swindon Town aren’t going to make fools of themselves.  I’ll never learn, I realise that now.

TerryThe Pink Chilli Hobbit is at the ss Great Britain market in Bristol on Saturday, and Chippenham Farmers Market on Sunday.  She had an interesting encounter in Marlborough last weekend, with Terry from Kansas City.  He lit up a monster cigar with some Cranberry Kick on the end of it and described the ensuing results as ‘delightful’.  Now as a non smoker I’m struggling with that description, but each to his or her own.  Unusual is the word that springs to mind.

I think I’d better wrap up now as I think I’ve used up all the words in the world for today.  Oh…I missed out zymurgy.  How could that happen?

Just be thankful that I didn’t start talking about wasps.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

The wrong type of sun

20140619_103329

The first GiD victim of the day

Do you remember last week I said that the collective noun for a group of traders was a grumble?  Well, we’re still grumbling.  You see, the problem is this.  After all the wind and rain over the winter and spring, the weather now is just too damned nice.  Everyone’s gone to the seaside I reckon, so at least the ice cream sellers and seagulls must be doing a roaring trade.  It seems that us trading types are just not as big a draw as we’d like, not when we’re fighting against the Great British propensity to rush lemming-like for the coast when we get a crack in the clouds.  To be fair, if I wasn’t working I’d be right there with them, so I fully understand.  Just damned irritating.

Right, that’s enough of my whinging, what else has been going on?  Well of course we’re out of the World Cup, though somehow that seems to be a shock to the tabloids.  Let’s examine the facts:

  1. England were in a difficult group containing three former winners of the World Cup including themselves
  2. Both of the other former winners are higher in the FIFA rankings than us
  3. We’re a team in transition so expectations were maybe just a tad high
  4. Apart from 1966 (and a couple of gallant efforts since then) our World Cup record isn’t great
  5. We’re just a bit rubbish

KniggitsSo how it comes as a surprise that we are out already, when we’ve played and lost to two teams in the top 10 of the rankings (we’re #11 at time of writing), frankly baffles me.  Now I’m used to the blinkered patriotic fervour/rampant xenophobia that comes around during big tournaments, but the soul-searching and knife-sharpening going on right now is nothing short of ridiculous.  We’re not good enough, we have rarely been good enough, and with the Premier League calling all the shots and breeding footballers that play for money rather than pride, we will never be good enough.

Did I say I’d stopped whinging?  I may have fibbed a bit there.

Wimbledon has started today, and our great hope Andy Murray has negotiated the first round successfully.  I’m not sure if he’s capable of mounting a defence – his form having slipped since last year – but I hope he does.  He may come across as miserable, intense and humourless, but he is undeniably a damned fine user of a tennis bat and from what I’ve seen from interviews and chat shows he seems pretty unpretentious and dedicated to his sport.  That kind of driven approach to being the best often leads to accusations of single-mindedness and humourlessness – but sometimes the best are the most driven.  It takes someone Flagtruly extraordinary to be implausibly nice and brilliant.

It does occur to me though that if Scotland votes for independence in September, as Mr Murray would surely advocate, does that mean that the long wait for a British winner gets reinstated?  😀

20140619_120625

Dolly from Raising The Baa

So back to the wonderful world of chillies.  It continues to be extraordinarily busy – even if events are unpredictable.  The week in numbers:

1 – new wholesale customers (welcome to No 12 Easton in Bristol)

1 – number of Olympic gold medallists at this weekends events

2 – horns on one visitor to the stall last Thursday.  Hello, Dolly!

3 – words I have tried to keep out of the post after visiting the Cotswolds (bucolic, picturesque and quintessential, since you ask)

20140622_095916

Kingham, land of spiders

6 – legs on most of the wildlife paying a visit to the stall over the weekend.  Ants!

8 – legs on the rest of the wildlife paying a visit to the stall over the weekend.

30 – factor sunblock I really should been wearing this weekend.

83 – units of Naga Chilli Salt forged from the Crack of Doom last Wednesday

2 million – Scoville units of one of our new products

3.2 million – Scoville Units of the other new product, just in case the other one’s not loopy enough

20140622_084022

Between days spent cooking, trading, delivering and catching up with paperwork there’s barely enough time to do the shopping.  I appear to be on the J-Plan diet – all junk, all the time.  I have been to the shops today and have purchased something called ‘fruit’.  It’s all the rage in the chattering classes, I thought I’d give it a go.  I presume you deep fry it?

One ‘joy’ that I had during my regular day at the Farm last week was to make Naga Chilli Salt.  Now this stuff is a lovely, fiery seasoning when safely caged in its grinder, but none of us are rushing to the front of the queue to make it.  All of the grinders tend to get a bit atmospheric during production and, unless you dress up like Jesse & Walt from Breaking Bad, you end up sneezing like a plague victim with hay fever.  The Naga Salt, being the hottest of the lot, is the scariest – and of course if you get it in your eye you feel like you’ve gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson.  Still, I’ve done my bit for now – someone else’s turn next time!

Just to show you how my mind works (OK, OK…) here’s a little snippet from the weekend.  At the Lockeridge Fun Day there was a stand with some fabulous birds of prey on display.  As is my wont I got to the event quite early, and was busy setting up when I heard one of the organisers tell another that ‘the hawk man has arrived’.  I immediately expected to look up and see Brian Blessed, but no.  I suppose after spotting David Hemery earlier (young people – go look him up on t’interweb) I should have been satisfied with my celeb-spotting for the day.

20140621_121158(0)20140621_12080320140621_120754

So where are we this weekend?  I realise that I’ve a bit behind on my events page, so I’ll do some surgery on that this week if I can.  Friday will see me at Lechlade Garden Centre, for another go at their Friday Food Fayre.  This has been a very slow market so far, but the organisers have moved the pitches to right by the front door this time to see if that helps.  I hope it does, Lechlade’s a lovely place and I’d like to see it work.

Saturday I’m on my travels again – Berkshire this time, to Reading and the Good Food event at the Hexagon.  Sunday will see me at the Swindon Dragon Boat Race at Coate Water, where the big question is of course will King Gazebo finally meet up with Princess Pinkbox?

Other venues for our intrepid chilli bods will be Bath, Upton on Severn, Oxford and Birmingham (Friday); Bath, Calne, Pembrokeshire, Newbury and Upton on Severn (Saturday); Bath, Newbury, Oxford and Swindon Designer Outlet (Sunday).  Unfortunately due to our inability to perfect a cloning machine I will not be at my regular markets at Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday and Bradford on Avon on Sunday.  We really are spread a bit thin at the moment (first time for everything where I’m concerned, I hear you all cry).

If anyone from either RWB or BoA needs anything desperately let me know, I’ll see what I can do to drop it round – I’m often on my travels and can swing by with an emergency delivery 🙂

20140623_124552

They’re coming…

And with that, it’s time to wrap up for the this post.  I’ve been watching Sri Lanka dismantle England’s batting whilst writing this, so if any naughty words have crept in I apologise.  It makes me think that my season’s batting average of 1 (I counted twice, just to make sure) makes me suitably qualified for a late call-up for the next test series.

I’m off for a little cry now.  It got a whole lot worse since I started that paragraph 😦

 

As a parting farewell, it’s a fond farewell and RIP to Nursey from Blackadder (actress Patsy Byrne) and Shaggy from Scooby Doo (DJ and voice artist Casey Kasem).   Zoinks!

Till next week…

Oh well…who wants to live forever?

Dive!!!

 

King Gazebo is broken

20140604_091941 20140604_081003

Phew.

That was a long, long few days and I’m not sure I’m allowed to slow down just yet.

Regular readers will know that I was somewhat nervous in advance of the single biggest event I’ve yet taken on – namely the Royal Cornwall Show in Wadebridge.  This had all sorts of things that could potentially go wrong, given that:

  1. I hadn’t done a show of this size before
  2. I was camping overnight – and I’ve never slept under canvas before
  3. The weather forecast wasn’t great
  4. My van was crammed to the gunwales with pretty much everything that wasn’t screwed down chez TCH
  5. There was a real potential for exhausted tetchiness on my part

So did it all go swimmingly?  For the most part, yes.  The camping bit worked pretty well.  The tent I’ve bought for doing this kind of thing (as well as holidays) was really easy to put up, and really stable in the face of some rather stiff Atlantic breezes.  And when I say breezes, I mean winds gusting up to some considerable 20140605_223053gustage.  The Showground is quite elevated and seems to catch the westerlies fair and square in the mush, but the tent was secure and I felt quite comfy in there, even when there was a terrific thunderstorm raging overhead…which was quite fun actually!  My main issue with the campsite was noise – we were all a bit crammed in, and what with generators, car alarms, partying neighbours and crying babies it left sleep at a bit of a premium.  Considering that, I’m looking forward to my next adventure in campology – I’ll just chose my pitch carefully.

20140605_124915Because of the wind King Gazebo took a bit of a beating.  Our position in the show meant that the worst of the wind came into the open side of the gazebo, and this had the effect of making it inflate like a balloon, putting a heck of a strain on the sidewalls.  One sidewall ripped its stitching, and several eyelets – pegged into the ground – just ripped clean out from the material, which is meant to be as tough as old boots.  Now it’s not terminal, but item 5 on the above list certainly came to the fore.  I suspect King Gazebo will need a bit of plastic surgery in the very near future, or possibly a transplant of some sort.

The van survived the trip well, not quite managing warp speed on the M5 but achieving decent impulse velocities nonetheless.  A few coughs and splutters along the way, but when the engine’s done that many miles smooth running is a bit of a luxury.

20140605_083831So was it all worth it?  Well I shifted a healthy amount of stock, learnt a hell of a lot about the way that these big events tick, and made a bit of money into the bargain – no more that I would have done at local events, but if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win the raffle.  And of course there are the less tangible benefits – good publicity, more customers in a new part of the world, new contacts and new shows to be invited to, wholesale leads and a sense of achievement for a job well done.  And, of course, there was the outside chance of getting a member of the royal family to try some out our chilli wondrousness – the Countess of Wessex did walk past the stall but I was too busy serving other customers to chance my arm 😉

Will I do it again?  Yes, almost certainly – with a few tweaks.  Same time next year then!

So after hot-footing it back from Cornwall on Saturday night it was straight back into the thick of local markets on Sunday – this time in Chippenham.  I have to admit that I struggled to bring my ‘A’ game to this one, running on empty and all, but it was a nice day and I had a bit of fun.  I did get to meet the prospective Conservative parliamentary candidate for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan; she MPMaybeintroduced herself and I think was taken slightly aback by my response of ‘oh well, never mind’!  We had a brief chat about my utter disaffection with all things MP-shaped, but she promised me that she would be active in local constituency matters should she get elected – an aspiration I sincerely hope she lives up to. On the plus side she has a bit of the Kate Middleton thing going on, and both her and her equally lovely friend Emma were welcome recipients of my Free Lollipops For Single Ladies promotional campaign 🙂

The Pink Chilli Hobbit spent Sunday afternoon at the Snap Farm Fun Day in Aldbourne.  This was one of those events that you never quite know what to expect – they can be amazing or average, until you turn up you can’t be sure. In this case the locals were friendly, the local brass band were playing, and there was cider on tap! It was, by all accounts, a ‘fun day’, so job done 🙂

What else is going on then?  Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll know that the World Cup starts this week.  England have a bugger of a group to escape from, but if they manage to do that then the quarter finals are a real possibility.  Now I’m not much a fan of the preening old guard in the England set-up, but they do have some interesting young players coming through that possess real skill, so we’ll see which version turns up.  If it’s the exciting young guns playing massattacking football, then I hope we go a long way; if it’s the dour, park-the-bus mentality that tries to grind out narrow victories from a set-piece then I hope we get knocked out early to save ourselves from further embarrassment.  Of course as a Swindon fan I’ll also be supporting Australia – one of their squad, Massimo Luongo – plays for the Town.

KTI was shocked to hear of the sudden death of Rik Mayall on Monday, at the ridiculously young age of 56.  I loved his early character Kevin Turvey, and The Young Ones was inspired lunacy.  I never really fell in love with The New Statesman, but his fin de siecle Laurel and Hardy-esque slapstick in Bottom with Ade Edmonson was simply wonderful.  Unsophisticated in a brilliantly choreographed way, it had me roaring with laughter at the sheer stupidity of it all.  A great comedian, he will be sorely missed.

This weekend coming will see me in Ottery St Mary on Saturday, and at Melksham’s Food and Drink Festival on Sunday.  The Pink Chilli Hobbit will be in Bishops Cannings on Sunday at the Farm Festival, possibly the shortest journey to an event she’ll ever have – it’s about a mile from her business unit!  Other roving chilli hawkers will be in Oxford, Reading, Swindon, Malvern, Bristol and Moreton-in-the-Marsh.  I’ve just watched the weather forecast and it’s looking like wall-to-wall sunshine for the next few days (OK, not raining at least) so come out and join the fun 🙂

Time to catch up on Game of Thrones before I work at the Farm tomorrow, I was too busy drinking beer with BoTCH* last night to watch it!

Have a great week, keep the faith and beware of the trund.

* = Brother of The Chilli Hobbit

Hail to the Kingham

Another new week dawns bright and clear, and as the majority look forward to a 5-day slog till another period of relaxation, your intrepid bloggist gets to kick back a bit and ease his aging bones after a couple of days trading.

Royal Wootton Bassett was – as always – a pleasure, and it was lovely to see friends both old and new.  As is my wont I headed off afterwards to see the mighty reds beat Preston at the County Ground, a stirring display not much in keeping with recent performances, if truth be told.  There’s hope for the future yet, even if our big-name striker has been arrested again.  Berk.

The Pink Chilli Hobbit ran the market at Sherston on Saturday and did better that I had the month before – they must be susceptible to her feminine wiles!  I know she enjoyed it and loved the venue, which is good as she’ll be in the chair for a lot of Sherston events this year as it jumps around the calendar – it tends to clash with other regular markets.

20140323_092840[1]

I traded at a new event for me on Sunday, one that’s only been going a short while – The Cotswold Table in Kingham.  Now I’d never heard of the place before recently, but it’s a lovely Cotswold village, with a pub by the green, lots of enthusiastic foodie locals, and a quarterly event that was quite lovely to attend.  Thankfully I chose to be in the marquee rather than outside, as the day brought two tremendous downpours – one of rain, and one of hail.  The first had people rushing for cover in the marquee (good for sales), the second had people giving up and going home (not good for sales).  Still, it was a very well organised event, busy enough even with the typical March weather, and I look forward to going back for the next one in June.

On my journey back from Kingham I stopped off at Burford Farm Shop for a look round.  As usual for that kind of place I found some lovely stuff for sale, and weakened by hunger and thirst as I was (yeah, right) I came away with a couple of things that can best be described as totally fab.  Fentimans Curiosity Cola is a real favourite of mine – it’s how cola used to taste when I were a lad, back before the wheel was invented and when you had to collect your electricity in buckets from the well.  It’s not good for you – full fat cola that leaves your teeth feeling rather furry – but by God it’s good.  I also found Mr Trotters Jalapeno Chilli pork scratchings – not one of your five a day, but utterly delicious.

Later this week I’m planning to head to the Farm with camera in hand to start on my process of immortalising the 2014 season on (digital) film.  Look out for a further entry when I get round to sorting the pictures out.  If I can work out how to use the super macro mode on my camera there might be some close-ups, otherwise it’ll just be wide-angle pics of Jamie looking dishevelled and knackered, as usual!

One thing to l20140324_121939[1]ook out for at markets soon is the new range – chilli powders and flakes.  OK, so the flakes are normally the people behind the table, but we have some rather medical looking test tubes of various substances – including Scorpion powder – being made up as I type (that means Jamie’s beavering away in his kitchen, folks!).  They’re being priced competitively, so come and see us at our markets soon 🙂

And with that I’ll leave you in peace.  Have a good week!

Spring has sprung

For once it was actually nice to be out and about rather than huddling under a blanket as the rain lashed down outside.  And, blinking sleepily as if they’d been hibernating for the last few months, the public came out to shop.  Not massively so in Frome it has to be said, but then I think that people were going “ooh look, sunshine” and staying outside – and I was, of course, at an indoor market.  I have impeccable timing, as you can tell.

On the other hand, my first taste of Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Sunday market was nice and busy.  If you’ve not been there before it’s worth a visit – not just a farmers’ market, but all sorts of stuff on sale – clothes, food, books, a right old mish-mash.  There was a lovely feeling (possibly due to the weather), we had 80s music playing all day, and all the stall holders were as always friendly.  I’d certainly go back there again – this time I was covering for someone who was indulging in adult beverages on Saturday night 🙂

My ex Kerry (aka The Pink Chilli Hobbit) also did her first Wiltshire Chilli Farm market in Chippenham.  We’re waiting to crunch the numbers but it sounds like it went well.

Football on Saturday wasn’t so great, but then as a 35-year veteran of watching Swindon play I should know better than to get my hopes up.  Cracking winner from MK Dons, to be fair.  Even so – dammit.

Great news from Sochi this morning, with Kelly Gallagher winning a gold for the visually impaired super-G slalom.  Having been on the slopes many, many times and had more than my fair share of brown salopette moments I just can’t imagine what it would be like to ski with a serious visual impairment.  Serious kudos to Kelly and her guide Charlotte Evans, a fantastic achievement.

A couple of days of paperwork, looking for further markets, following up potential wholesale leads and catching up with the housework beckons.  It’s a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, you know.

Catch you later in the week before (whisper it quietly) I have a weekend off.  Beer will happen, rest assured of that 🙂