Tag Archives: Bristol

Another promising career cut short

sackedGoddammit, I’ve been sacked.  Again.

This morning I received a rather peremptory e-mail from HR informing me that as I had contravened a number of company directives my contract had been terminated with immediate effect.  The final warning that was issued to me earlier this month had gone unanswered, and therefore I was cut loose, cast off, and sent packing.  Of course should I wish to appeal I could open the interestingly peculiar attachment to the e-mail and appeal against the decision.

Needless to say there was a heavy whiff of spam about the whole affair, not the least of which was the fact that the mail was signed by Quinn Schneekloth.  What, the Quinn Schneekloth, I hear you ask?  What a fantastic made-up name…if you’re going to try to ensnare unsuspecting victims in a viral scam then you may at least go the whole 9 yards and adopt the most preposterous name going.  And as I had never heard of the company I was being fired from, I took the news of my demise quite calmly, really…

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What do you mean, wrong type of Bond girl?

On the subject of unusual names I came across a wonderful suggestion for a Bond girl on some hand wash earlier (what is it with me and hand wash lately?).  The flavour of hand wash in question was Geranium Goodness, and it just sounded to me like a 1960’s big-boobed stereotype being seduced by 007’s latest Q-powered sex gadget as the camera panned away to a tropical island paradise vista…

So I’m not going to waffle on at length this week, for a number of reasons.  There’s a heck of a lot going on, but it’s all a bit swan-like right now – all serene on the surface whilst paddling like buggery under the waves.  Markets are happening of course, and cooking is a staple of the week’s activities, but nothing earth-shattering has happened since my last missive.  OK, John Cleese did pop along to the Chilli Hut at the weekend and buy Simon’s last Chocolate Habanero, but without the silly walk he just a customer, albeit a very tall one.

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I’ve been to Sherston and Bristol’s Tobacco Factory, where the public were as always very pleasant, and the Pink Chilli Hobbit has been to Avebury, where the locals were largely sheep.

Christmas looms large on the horizon.  Normally this fills me with humbug-style fear and loathing, but 2014 sees me looking forward to the busiest time of the year with a bizarre sense of anticipation.  It’s going to be oh so busy, and I fully expect to be sick of the sight of our stuff by the time the festive season is over, but we’ll be looking to work ourselves into an exhausted stupor so that we can slump over our Christmas turkey with a sense of pride and achievement.

We have to cook a proverbial – actually, literal – shed-load of stock before then, so I’ll have to get my bottling mojo on soon.  Jamie’s putting a schedule together which will allow us a few minutes between shifts to snatch a few Z’s…and somewhen before then we have a lot of chillies to pick.  Sleep’s overrated, I’m being told.

I took a bit of time off last Friday to watch a bunch of thin blokes on wheels whizz by.  The Tour of Britain wended it’s way through Devizes, so I took a walk up to Monument Hill, about a mile and a half from home, to watch the spectacle.  It was all over in a flash, as the 100+ riders hoofed past at some considerable speed…even in two groups split by a couple of minutes it was all done and dusted in no time at all.  I was really impressed by the organisation of it all thS0038145-2ough…there were a huge number of bike cops speeding ahead of the peloton to stop traffic.  When you think about the logistics of the event it’s amazing how well it all works, but blink and you’ll miss it – it’s all over so quickly (where have I heard that before?).  Still, it was a nice walk, even if I did somehow manage to walk past the pub on the way home without stopping.  Must…try…harder.

And you know what folks?  That’s going to be it for this week, short and sharp.  We have a busy week of cooking ahead, and you can find me in Reading and Gloucester peddling chilli goodness this weekend.  The Pink Chilli Hobbit is running her own stall in Trowbridge on Wednesday which sells WCF stuff…and we’re out and about in Birmingham, Abergavenny, Clumber Park, Salisbury, Bath, Oxford and Tetbury as well.  I’m not quite sure where I am on Sunday yet.  Might be Swindon.  Might be Tetbury.  Might be giants.  Make a little birdhouse in your soul.


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Yellow, furry, and in my Mum’s garden

 

Whippersnappers

Welcome once again to the increasingly loopy world of The Chilli Hobbit, a planet that just seems to let more loonies in by the day.

20140523_152217So what’s occurring, I hear you ask in a bad Welsh accent?  Well, first and foremost comes another nail in the coffin of my attempts to pretend to be young and vibrant – my eldest Harriet is to become a Mum again, giving me a second grandchild somewhen in December.  I’m not old, I’m not old, I’m not old…

It’s really lovely actually, and myself, Pink Chilli Hobbit and Aunt Jemima are all really delighted – and as you can see from the photo little Gracie is looking forward to being a big sister!

This is an auspicious week for all of us Kevins.  For those of you that don’t know, June 3rd is St Kevin’s Day.  No, I’m not making this up.  Here’s the opening lines from a song about him:

St Kevin    In Glendalough there lived an auld saint,

    renowned for his learning and piety,

    his manners were curious and quaint

    and he looked upon girls with disparity

It seems that our Kev was a bit of an ascetic (which I always thought had something to do with vinegar), but it means that he abstained from ‘worldly pleasures’.  At one point is he is reputed to have drowned a woman who tried to seduce him, which seems a tad harsh.  He lived his life fasting and praying, so as you can see there’s not a great deal of similarity apart from the name…although an absence of worldly pleasures is regrettably familiar 😡

It’s been a funny old weekend on the chilli front.  I was at Temple Quay Market on Thursday, and as I know very well from my days working there for IBM, half-term week is very quiet and this was reflected in the sales.  Friday was spent in Lechlade Garden Centre for their Friday Food Fayre.  This was only the second one to be held this year, the first one at the end of April being held in rain so heavy it was what Sir Terry Pratchett would have called ‘an upright sea with slots in it’.  Again it was very quiet, but the relentlessly chirpy and helpful Laura who runs the event has pulled a bit of a flanker by getting us a new spot right outside the front door of the Garden Centre next month, so we’ll give it another go before passing judgement.

Saturday was spent…wait for it…not working.  I spotted that there was likely to be an outbreak of 5th Saturday Syndrome a while back…the upshot of which is that there aren’t many regular markets running that day.  My usual ‘last Saturday of the month’ market is Royal Wootton Basset, but in fact that runs on the 4th Saturday, which is of course most often the last Saturday as well – but not in May.  So the calendar had a blank day in it, and I didn’t look too hard for a 20140531_165113replacement event as I thought it would be nice to support my old cricket team (Potterne 4th XI) and go and do a spot of umpiring.  As it happens I was elevated to the starting XI, and took my place as number 11 batsman (1 run scored, run out by a furlong on the last ball of the innings by an overenthusiastic whippersnapper trying to steal a bye to the keeper.  He’s a third of my age.  He made it.  I didn’t try.  I know my limits).  I was, however, asked to turn my trusty arm over to deliver the usual slow-to-dribbly annoying induckers, which I was more than happy to do.  Six overs, an awful lot of creaking, a fair bit of swearing and two wickets later I proclaimed ‘job done’.  In fact I took the last two wickets of the innings in consecutive deliveries, so I will be on a hat-trick the next time I bowl.  That could be in 2015…possibly the longest hat-trick attempt in the clubs history.  I’ll keep you updated on the outcome 🙂

20140601_134407Sunday it was back to the stall, in Frome’s lovely Independent Market.  I’m constantly impressed by how superbly the town transforms itself into a delightful place to bimble about in – attendance is always good, and even though this month was pretty quiet for me sales-wise, it’s still nice to see so many people out and about.  The market coincided with the Frome Steampunk Extravaganza, where there’s always a photo opportunity or two…

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20140601_135330The highlight of the weekend was yours truly being soundly, comprehensively and rather noisily upstaged by the extremely precocious Charlotte, who, fresh from a successful career on the cake stall opposite took it upon herself to take over my pitch and try to sell chilli sauce.  She’s not backward in coming forward, I can tell you that, there’s definitely a hint of costermonger in the bloodline somewhere.  It was actually really nice to see someone having a bit of fun, she picked up the patter with remarkable ease and will definitely have a career in sales, I’m sure of that!  If you ever meet her in later life keep your hands on your wallet – she’ll have every last note out of it 🙂

So last week was a biggie for the Farm, Jamie being at the Royal Bath & West Show.  I get my turn at a monster show this week, I’ll be off to the Royal Cornwall Show with my glamorous assistant the Pink Chili Hobbit (am I allowed to say that, now that we’re not together?  Oh well, just have 🙂 ).  Visitor numbers should be up in the billions, and frankly I’m more than a little nervous, so if you see me there please be nice.  I’ll try not to make a berk out of myself, especially if the stall gets a visit from royalty…though it might be funny to get the Countess of Wessex to try God Slayer just to see what happens.  I’ve never been to the Tower of London, I hear the dungeons are just lovely this time of year…

20140601_093633My usual spots in Temple Quay, Tidworth and Devizes will all be covered this week so fear not people, you can still get your fix.  We’ll also be out and about in Bexley Heath, Clapham Common, Shaftesbury, Oxford, Swindon, Bath, Chippenham and Ogbourne Downs.  No rest for the wicked, apparently.

That just about wraps it up for today, I’ll leave you with the rather surprised looking lady on the right, spotted in Frome on Sunday.  I’m not sure what she was laughing at, but I did have my trousers on at the time so it can’t be that.

Hugs and happiness ’til we meet again post-Kernow.

Truth, Justice, Freedom, Reasonably-Priced Love and a Hard-Boiled Egg!

 

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  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcFd5j1cios 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.

Gums are burning

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Nice weather for them

How can we dance when our stomach’s churning
How do we sleep while our gums are burning

(With apologies to Midnight Oil and their fantastic song ‘Beds Are Burning’, which they played at the Sydney Olympics closing ceremony)

Before I explain the inclusion of the rather mangled politically-inclined lyrics above, let’s start this week with some fantastic news.  Jamie from The Wiltshire Chili Farm entered four products into this years Taste of the West awards, and has come away with three golds and one silver award:

TOTW Gold Award 2014

Chipotle Chilli Salt – Gold

Lemon Chilli Pepper – Gold

Fireside – Gold

TOTW Silver 2014

Chipotle Chilli Sauce – Silver

Anyone that’s tasted these will not be surprised – all four are fantastic products that I just love selling at events, especially the Chipotle Chilli Salt – the roast spud’s best friend!  Congratulations to Jamie on the well-deserved accolades.

OK, on to the lyrics.  Well, this weekend just gone has seen me selling our hottest ever sauce – God Slayer.  This ferocious little number was hatched by Jamie and Bond a couple of weeks back when I was unfortunate enough to be working at the Farm and hence available for taste tests.  The words that sprang to mind (the printable ones, anyway) were ‘incendiary’, ‘malevolent’ and most importantly ‘why’?  It tastes fantastic but damn nearly warps holes in space-time.  Plenty of people sampled it over the weekend’s events, with the best comment coming from fellow trader Claire from Hive Originals (check ’em out, they’re great) who claimed some time after tasting that her tongue, lips and even gums were still burning.  That just makes me think we need to try harder, we want to get teeth to hurt…

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Salisbury St Georges Day stalls in Guildhall Square

No exciting tales of criminality to report this week.  Rather it was another weekend of the very British hobby of moaning about the weather.  I tried out Lechlade Garden Centre’s Friday Food Fayre (I’ll leave you to work out when) and left, after three hours of attempted trading, with a tide mark that soaked up the legs of my jeans to mid-thigh height.  Now I can hear you saying ‘that’s not very far on you’, but I do believe that if I’d have toughed it out till the end I would have drowned thanks to the capillary properties of my own clothes.  Unpleasant though it was I shall be back next month, new event organiser Laura is very keen to make it work so I’ll give it another go, and do a little anti-rain dance beforehand.

Saturday saw a regular trip to Royal Wootton Bassett, which was blowy but somehow stayed dry.  Another unspectacular trading day but God Slayer saw it’s first proper outing with me, and drew it’s first public expletives.  The wind played havoc with packing up at close of play, and I’m so thankful I invested in a sturdy bugger of a gazebo…it was a big expense at the time but is worth it in April weather.

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Jingle jingle jingle bloody jingle

On Sunday I was in Salisbury at the St Georges Day celebrations.  Lots of bunting, medieval jesters on stilts (as if I don’t feel short enough already), songs and plays, and – bloody hell – Morris dancers right in front of my pitch.  Now don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing I don’t like more than a bit of tradition…but the sounds of jingling bells all day is enough to give a man nightmares.  I can still hear them, jingling, jingling…

Having said that it was a nice event – plenty of people around celebrating the day of our favourite sainted Turkish lizard-botherer, the weather played ball during the event itself, and I managed to inflict God Slayer on quite a few customers with generally hilarious results.

So what’s on the menu for this week?  Well, it’s a busy old time I can tell you.  I’ve already spent some time at the Farm bottling loads of Chipotle Sauce, Hellmouth and Sweet Chilli…having a paperwork day today (such fun) and there’s a rumour of the press visiting the Farm tomorrow.  I’ve had my hair cut just in case.

The weekend coming is mega busy – starting on Thursday I will be at Bristol Temple Quay, Tidworth, Devizes, Frome Independent and Wanborough May Day Fayre.  Pink Chilli Hobbit will be at the ss Great Britain in Bristol on Saturday and Marlborough on Sunday.

On top of that little lot we’ll also be in Oxford, Reading, Swindon, Bath and at Eastnor Chilli Festival.  Phew.

Advance notice for any Frome-ites out there – we won’t be at the Farmers Market at the Cheese & Grain in May, due to having more bookings than I can handle!  If you need your chilli fix then come and see me on Sunday instead 🙂

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Am I obsessed by chillies?  Take a look at the shower gel I bought today and make up your own mind.

Seriously, how could I resist?

 

This weekend will see the start of the cricket season for me.  I’ve not touched a bat or ball since last August, but I’m hoping that my magnificent athletic prowess will enable me to wobble up to the crease and deliver my slow to even slower in-duckers with customary accuracy.  I’ve been saying for some time that once I lose the uncanny knack of bowling line and length I’ll give up and play golf instead, but I’m hoping that won’t be the case yet.  I still enjoy playing for my club Potterne and even though I’ll manage less games this year because of work, I’ll still support them when I can get there.

Well that just about wraps it up for this post.  Needless to say, I hope you have a good week and we’ll see you at the weekend!

PS I’ve just noticed that the bar of chocolate I’m currently munching has the words ‘easy reclose pack’ on it.  How does that work?

 

 

Blizzards of tweed

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Well, that was the weekend that was.  A busy old few days to be fair, and your friendly hobbit bloggist needed a bit of a slow day yesterday to recover, hence the tardiness of this weeks post.

So why so busy?  Well, Wednesday was, as usual, a day spent at the Farm…occasionally stirring the pot…occasionally filling large numbers of empty bottles…but mostly fighting with my nemesis that is the labelling machine.

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I have discovered a new condition – Bottler’s Thumb.  This is caused by many, many twiddles of bottles on the labeller causing some of the ink from the heat-shrunk caps to rub off on my hands, making it look like I’ve been fingerprinted by the rozzers.  It weren’t me Guv, you can’t prove it, I weren’t there, besides it was some geezer from Peckham what dunnit…

Trading wise it was a case of TCH on Tour – three events, none of them in Wiltshire.  Thursday was a visit to my old professional stomping ground at Temple Quay in Bristol.  Some former team members popped along to say hello, which was much appreciated (hello Nick & Jonathon!) and a pleasant market was spent observing the huge queues at the hot food stalls.  It was a bit slow, but I know from personal experience that the Thursday before Easter can be a bit quiet in the offices there.

Saturday saw me in Nunney (which still sounds like a Sarah Millicanism to me) for a craft fayre.  Nice place, lovely people, no-one came…luckily I had the foresight to take a book with me!  The best bit of the day came with a Dark Ghost chocolate eating competition – Sefy and Josh bought a bar and had a race to see who could eat their 50g bar the fastest, and more importantly with the least show of heatstroke.  As you can see from the pics below Sefy won.  Josh had a few tears in his eyes (I don’t think it was the emotion of the defeat) – and hence had to eat the lollipop of shame to recover from the heat 🙂

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The Pink Chilli Hobbit was at Sherston’s lovely market on Saturday – a very pleasant event, frequented by plenty of Easter Egg hunters from the event next door!  Martin and Jane always run a lovely, friendly market and despite it not being a huge event in terms of sales we just love doing it.  The one thing we’ve found out since we’ve started doing markets is that it’s hard work, physically quite demanding, but it’s also really lovely to meet people and sell stuff we believe in, often in lovely settings such as Sherston.  It somehow doesn’t feel like a proper job, even though it seems to keep us busy 24/7.

My first big event of the year was on Sunday and Monday, the Thame Country Show in Oxfordshire.  This was a much bigger event than anything else I’ve done before and I learnt a few things as a result:

  • a 4 metre wide pitch is quite a lot of space to fill up
  • the day goes amazingly quickly when you’re busy
  • hobbits can last surprising lengths of time between comfort breaks
  • Thame likes Chipotle Chilli Salt and Hellish Habanero

I was next to a pie/pasty/sausage roll/pork scratching seller who was very friendly, but who spoke auctioneer-speed East End frontier gibberish that left me completely baffled for much of the time.  He could have been a time traveller giving me hot tips on tomorrows races for all I know, but frankly I didn’t have a bloody clue what he was saying half the time.  I suspect he thought much the same of my West Country tractorese.

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The biggest shock to me was a bit of a reality check, and a sign that nothing is sacred.  All us traders keep a close eye on our stock ‘just in case’, and the vast, vast majority of visitors to events are as honest as the day is long.  Those of you that have visited my stall will know that I keep a supply of lollipops to hand out to small children/single women/people that need relief after trying the hot stuff.  I give them away for free.  I gave loads away for free over the two days in Thame.  So I was rather disgusted to find that, halfway through Monday afternoon, some larcenous scrote had stolen the jar with my remaining lollipops in it.  Now I will repeat – I give them away free – yet some lowlife had seen fit to scarper with the jar.  It’s not often that I’m lost for words, but for a period after discovering the Great Thame Lollipop Robbery I was just a bit flabbergasted.  Of course the words I was then capable of using are not fit for publication in a family blog such as this, but you can guess a few of them I’m sure.  Don’t think I’ll be submitting an insurance claim though!

Looking forward (a looong way forward) I’m pleased to say that our application for Salisbury Christmas Market has been accepted.  This is the single biggest event of the year for me, and will entail 24 days trading in a row in a chalet in Guildhall Square.  I’m really, really chuffed to have got in and am already looking forward to setting up a chilli hobbit hole for the event.  We’re also confirmed at Winchester, with other applications pending – it’s a hugely busy period for us and will doubtless cause logistical nightmares, but we will prevail.   Somehow 😉

So this weekend sees me in Lechlade Garden Centre (Friday), Royal Wootton Bassett (Saturday) and Salisbury (Sunday)…the Pink Chilli Hobbit is in Bradford-on-Avon on Sunday…and our other itinerant chilli peddlers are in Oxford Gloucester Green (Thursday), Blackpool (Saturday), Swindon Designer Outlet (Sunday), Oxford Summertown (Sunday) and Bath Union Street (every day).  You have no excuses to run out of anything these days, you know.

20140416_173257Finally, another image warning of the effects of repeated exposure to hot chilli sauce.

You have been warned.

Laters dudes.

 

 

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Today’s blog co-authored by Fudge.

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Growing up

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It’s Monday, it’s raining, so time to write a blog entry.

The big news this week is that the Wiltshire Chilli Farm will have a new regular pitch in Union Street in Bath.  This is a huge opportunity for us and one we’re really excited about.  The pitches don’t become available often, and we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to nab one.  We’ll be there pretty much every day (aiming for 7 days a week in summer) so staffing is causing us a few headaches at the moment!  We’ll figure it out, and we’re looking forward to getting cracking with it next week 🙂

It’s been a busy few days at Chilli Hobbit Central.  Last week I had my first taste of production proper at the Wiltshire Chilli Farm, helping Jamie with a bit of cooking, bottling, capping and labelling of batches of Mango Hot Sauce and Hellish Habanero.  It’s an insight into a world I’ve never really been party to (27 years in IT doesn’t prepare you terribly well), so whilst not a complete culture shock it was certainly a different view on earning a living.

Things I learnt from my days work:

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Mishka. Slobber not shown.

  • it’s quite therapeutic, especially the bottle labelling machine
  • it’s tough on southern softy hands like mine
  • it’s a precise business, even with hand-made products
  • I really must buy Jamie a new radio for the capping/bottling area.  Need Planet Rock, not Heart FM.
  • Mishka the farm cat is noisy and slobbery

DSCF7860DSCF7861DSCF7850 - straightGrowing at the Farm is in the early stages.  Lots and lots of chilli plants, but very young still and needing to be planted out.  As always there are lots of varieties being grown, from the mild to the frankly loopy, and somewhere in the mix (not found them yet) are some Reapers, the hottest in the world.  I dread to think what Jamie has planned for them…I will, in my professional capacity, have a taste – but probably just the once.  I love the taste of chillies, but I don’t go for the super hot ones!

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The big polytunnels are looking a bit sad right now, but that’s normal for this time of the year.  Very soon there will be a work party descending on them, waving their magic wands to turn them into fully functioning Gardens of Eden – only instead of forbidden fruit, there will be the wonderful world of chillies.  And not forbidden at all.  Forbidding maybe, but not forbidden.  It promises to be a hard few days labour, but if we don’t do it – we have no product!

20140403_120145[1]The weekend’s events were many and varied.  Thursday saw my debut at Bristol’s Temple Quay Market.  Well…when I say debut, I mean debut as a trader.  I used to work in one of the offices overlooking The Square (my desk was just above the peak of my red gazebo in the photo), so I’ve been a customer on many occasions.  It was somewhat surreal being on the outside looking in this time round, but it was nice to see some friendly faces.  It’ll be a regular market for me this year, at least twice a month.

Friday was another new one, in Tidworth.  This is a monthly market and was well supported, so looking forward to doing that one again.  Saturday saw me on home turf in Devizes – where I had visits from my daughter, granddaughter, brother, sister-in-law, and several friends!  Made for a lovely morning 🙂  Sunday was an old favourite, Swindon Designer Outlet.  A visit to the Cadburys shop happened.  Diet on hold.  Again.

Marlborough Community Market was supported by Pink Chilli Hobbit, it was by all accounts wet and windy, and was closed early thanks to general miserableness.  That’s the second month in a row for that market – we’re not getting much luck there 😦

DSCF7859 - Holga

Stalag Polytunnel #3

On the non-chilli front it’s welcome back to Game of Thrones.  I’m pleased to see that it’s now being broadcast here at 2am on Sunday morning, to tie in with the US broadcast.  Thank heaven for Sky+, one quick press of ‘series record’ and I was enjoying it first thing Monday morning, with no danger of accidental spoilers sneaking up on me.  What a way to start the week 🙂

Remember…winter is coming!

 

DSCF7858 - croppedAnd with that folks, I will sign off.  This promises to be another busy week and I need to prepare for it by…well…having a bit of a snooze actually.  I’ve been up for hours already, and I’m not getting any younger you know 😛

Speak to you soon.

TCH

Squirrel!

I
I just took a ride
In a silver machine
And I’m still feeling mean
Do you wanna ride see yourself going by
The other side of the sky

Lyrics (c) Hawkwind.  Lemmy sang on that one, you know, before he was kicked out of the band.

OK, so I fibbed a bit.  I didn’t get the opportunity to take any photos at the Chilli Farm last week, but in all fairness the plants are still in a very early stage.  I’ll try harder this week 🙂

I am no longer White Van Man, having waved goodbye to the Chillimobile and said hello to the Silver Machine…which is big, French and has a big nose.  Should really be called Gerard.  It has a vast number of miles on the clock but seems like it’s been looked after pretty well, so hopefully it’ll keep me going for a while now.  It almost has enough oomph to pull up hills as well, which is a bonus.  Almost.

I was at Lackham College Lambing weekend on Saturday.  It was really nice to see so many families out for the day, with loads of kids getting a taste of farming life.  I didn’t get the chance to see the lambing sheds myself, but I did say hello to a flock of piglets (or whatever the collective noun is) and was treated to a backdrop of very noisy turkeys all day.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, the sun was out, picnics were being eaten, and the ice cream van was doing a roaring trade – especially after a few of my customers tried the Septenary sauce.  Really, really, really must remember to ask for commission from Mr Whippy.  He owes me.

Squirrel!

Sunday was of course Mother’s Day so lots of people were out and about, and I was at Bradford-on-Avon Farmer’s & Artisan Market.  Out and about as well were plenty of squirrels, hence the rodenty photo above.  Somehow I ended up with the pitch under the archway, which was the coldest place in the market, and also a bit shabby.  It’s not my favourite spot – there’s nowhere to hang your banner, and being out of the sun on a nice day is hardly conducive to getting customers to stop at the stall.  Still, trade was steady and as always I met loads of lovely people, including someone that wants to use our chillies to make beer.  Now you’re talking.

Investments, Annual Reports and Financial Statements

It’s financial year end for me today, which means large amounts of paperwork.  Such fun.  I’ve just re-analysed my cashflow forecast and am now actively considering selling a kidney.  Still, once my accountant weaves his magic I’m sure it’ll look less scary.  We can always hope!

 

So what does the week hold, apart from (boo hiss) some rain in the weather forecast?  A bit of a chill out today and tomorrow, then off to help Jamie do some cooking at the Farm on Wednesday.  Lots of markets this coming weekend, starting on Thursday – Bristol Temple Quay, Tidworth, Devizes and Marlborough – so I reserve the right to be cream crackered by Sunday evening and in need of an adult beverage.

Somewhere in the middle of that lot is a quiz night at the local cricket club, where I shall be attempting to answer such nuggets of trivia as ‘who played Mindy in Mork & Mindy‘ and ‘which famous TV show was almost called Owl Stretching Time’?  This is the sort of rubbish that lodges in my head.  Is it any wonder I never made it to the higher echelons of an IT career?

(Pam Dawber and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, in case you were wondering).

 

Time for lunch, Bargain Hunt and a bit of a snooze.  I may even leave the house after that.  Rock and roll, eh?

Have a good one, keep the peace and watch out for spaghetti trees.