Tag Archives: Wiltshire Chilli Farm

No rest for the wicked

Well here we are again…it doesn’t seem like that long since I last posted anything, but apparently it’s been six months.  What…how…have I been asleep?  Well the short answer is yes, but read on, dear reader, read on…

20151126_105857The back end of 2015 was, as expected, the full-on Christmas assault.  Now having been in Salisbury the year before I had a much better idea of what to expect from the market this time round, but it’s still a major exercise in logistics, willpower and stamina.  Twenty six days in a row is not the longest market…I get to go home every night and sleep in my own bed…and of course it’s not relentless sell, sell, sell every minute of every day…but somehow the drain on this hobbit’s reserves seems immense.  Might have had something to do with a diet consisting largely of cereal bars, meals that go ‘ding’ and caffeine…with the occasional hot chocolate thrown in for good measure.  This is not a healthy business to be in sometimes.

Of course I had stock collections to do, which added to the mayhem, but I managed to get into a rhythm with those and the days went by quickly enough.  And it really helped having some familiar faces around me, guys that I’d traded next to in 2014 – we’d formed a merry little band of bewildered traders, and co-opted some new members into Scrooge Central along the way.  Still, it was a successful market once again, and hopefully I can get in there again this year.

WCF LogoOne of the things that gave us an added headache just prior to the Christmas market was the decision to rebrand.  I’d been approached at last year’s Royal Cornwall Show by a design agency, Buddy Creative, touting for business, and after looking at their brochure we decided we’d get them in for a chat.  We hit it off really well with them, and took the plunge.  They came up with ten different concepts for us to consider, with a view to us picking one.  We failed.  Dismally.  The best we could do was keep it to two, with a bit of a third thrown in as well!  The trouble is this, and this will come as no surprise to anyone that’s met a few of us – we are all very different types of people.  Differing ages, lifestyles, viewpoints, possibly even species – so getting us to all agree on something is like getting Donald Trump to not be a pillock – it’s theoretically feasible, but the bookies ain’t taking odds.

So off the designers went to work up phase 2 – revisions of our chosen concepts.  Once again these were presented, and once again we argued long and hard.  But this time we were a smidgeon more grown-up about it and asked ourselves some really searching questions like ‘what are we trying to achieve’, ‘who are our target audience’, and more importantly ‘how can we twist the answers to give us what we instinctively want to do’? 🙂

And so…finally…a decision was made.  Further refinements were to take place, of course, and a vast amount of checking and re-checking of label text went on (we even managed to argue amongst ourselves about that)…but eventually what appeared was a great new look and feel that we are massively, humungously proud of.  We looked fine beforehand, but now we look just so damned sexyAll ProductsAs part of the process we were encouraged to look at naming conventions and have a theme.  Radical suggestions, we thought, we’d never consciously not had a theme – but that’s what had happened.  So it was goodbye to Hellmouth, and hello to Caribbean.  Chocolate Habanero is no more…to be replaced by Dark Habanero.  Both products are exactly the same recipe, just renamed.

reaperhabaneroHellish Habanero has – for now at least – bitten the dust.  In it’s place (sort of) is a new crowd-pleaser – Reaper Habanero.  Similarly smoky but a bit hotter, it’s proved to be mega popular and we don’t seem to be able to make enough of it.  Good old Septenary had a tweak as well, now being made as a Trinidad Scorpion sauce – the hottest all-natural sauce, and a real winner with the heat fans out there.  And God Slayer…well, we wouldn’t dare mess with the profane insanity of that, would we?  It’s still here, lurking under the counter to inflict on anyone daft enough to utter those words – ‘nothing’s ever hot enough for me’…

Everything else is the same as it ever was…just looking sharp in a fabulous new suit.  Much more colourful, bolder and sharper than before, but as lovely as ever.

It won’t stop with just new labels of course.  We’ll have new branded gazebos on display at events, new banners and flags, a new website should be on its way soon…we’re basically tarting up everything to be tartier than a tart’s handbag.  And if we can find enough pennies down the back of the sofa we’ll be sporting some new corporate threads as well, though right now we’re still buried under about ten layers of thermals so it’s a bit pointless.  It’s spring, allegedly, but by golly it doesn’t feel like it 😦


Easter 2016. Storm Katie leaves her mark.

So as you can see we were busy at the fag end of 2015.  The theory was that we’d have some spare time at the start of this year to recharge batteries, take some time out and recover our composure and really plan 2016 with military precision.  Yeah, like that’s happened…the problem with embarking on a plan for world domination is that it’s just bloody relentless!

So relentless in fact that I’ll have to tell you about it another day…so, same time next month?  Don’t mind if I do…

20160316_121849_HDRNever did find the away kit.

(A gold star to anyone that understands that reference!)

Telephone call for Mr. Horrible

Blimey, doesn’t time fly?  It only seems like yesterday since I was wobbling on about skunks and teacups and stuff, but it’s been nearly a month.  A month of more box unpacking, lots of Christmas planning, lots of arguments and lots of miles covered in the pursuit of the chilli dollar.

MrPedantSo what’s been irking yours truly this month?  Well, first and foremost was the product I saw for sale at a show a few weeks back.  Now I’m all for a bit of license being allowed with the English language in the interests of making your product stand out from the crowd, but there is a line.  And that line, ladies and gentlemen, was not so much crossed as barreled past at warp 9.9 when I noticed a fruit-based milk drink being sold as a mylkshake.  Yep, that’s a y.  Should bloody well be an i, and all right-thinking English speakers will be with me on that one, especially my compatriots in the hardcore pedantry front.  No excuse for it, it’s just so very, very wrong.  I see marshmellows being sold regularly as well, and I cringe every time I see the sign.  I want to go over to their stall and write ‘3/10, see me after class’ on their A-board.

You’ll remember that I had a bit of a rant about doggy hats in my last post.  Well, I have another fashion item to add to the list of Things That Simply Should Not Exist.  I was at the Bath Cats & Dogs Home Fun Day, which was basically a dog show with gazebos – lots of running round in the rain jumping through hoops, being judged for the waggliest tail competition, winning prizes for having the dangliest bollocks – and that was just the stallholders.  Anyway, I was next to a stall selling – among other things – doggy bandanas.  Really…bandanas?  On a dog?  See, this is why I like cats…try to put a cat in a bandana and you’ll never play the violin again.

20150828_131548_HDR 20150829_142144_HDR 20150830_145415_HDRI’ve been trying to cozy up to the TV elite since last time we spoke, but most of the celebs at the Big Feastival weren’t interested in talking to plebs like me.  Monica Galetti looked quite startling with blonde hair, Jamie Oliver stood on the tables and ponced around doing his ‘look at me I’m a Cock…sorry…Mockney’ cheeky chappie routine, and Adam Henson was as plain-speaking and down-to-earth as you’d expect him to be.  Of the three only Adam Henson stayed past his contracted 30 minutes of hogging the limelight to chat to anyone, but I was too busy with customers to get any stalker-type selfies.  Ah well, maybe next year.

7ws_5_1My mind, as we know, works in mysterious ways.  I was next to one of the lovely Glamorose cupcake ladies the other week in Swindon admiring her wares (the cupcakes, honest) when she described the tiffin brownie as having lots of tiffin-y bits in it.  Now although I’ve led a very sheltered upbringing, for some reason I had visions of a slightly ragged, over-used and aging actress in…ahem…’exotic’ films called Tiffany Bitz.  And of course, this being Swindon, I was reminded of the legendary Swindonian actress Lola Vavoom, whose monument I have yet to visit.*

Talking of actresses, when did they all become actors?  I’m all for equality, nothing against women (I should be so lucky) but what was so wrong with the word actress?  It seems that you’re not allowed to use the feminine version of the word any more, as if it’s a derogatory term or something.  I don’t get it…anyone can now be an actor it seems, but it takes a special kind of person to become an actress – only half of the population can do it!  It’s political correctness gone mad I tell you.  I blame Jeremy Corbyn, that’s a sound place to start these days.

tetrisOn the Christmas front, we’re preparing…and cooking…and cooking…my God, are we cooking.  The store room at the farm looks like a really crap game of Tetris…more and more stuff comes in but doesn’t quite fit into the space that we have left for it…until we cook some more and create some space that we then fill with what we’ve just cooked!  It’s a logistical nightmare, but we’re planning meticulously to fit quarts into pint pots, squeeze a few more crates in here and there, and somehow…somehow…have enough stock for Christmas.


But before then, we have some important news…wait, I’m not allowed to tell our readers?  Really?  Oh, you’re no fun…

* Top marks if you even have the faintest clue what I’m talking about there, by the way.


Cats aren’t really friendly, they’re just cozying up to the dominant life-form as a hedge against extinction.
Jasper Fforde, The Last Dragonslayer

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 🙂



Whither Poldark?

Hello everyone, hope you managed to have a nice weekend – the weather turned all British on us, which was fun.  A nice bit of sunshine on Saturday, but then an awful lot of dampness ensued, but we should really be used to that by now.


One for the ladies

Just a quickie this week as I’m preparing for the Royal Cornwall Show, which starts on Thursday.  This is one of my biggest events of my year, and promises to be an extremely busy few days.  I’m doing it on my own this year – the Pink Chilli Hobbit helped me out last year but I’m going solo this time round (echoes of real life!) – so that means getting down there on Wednesday and getting the gazebo up and stocked, then heading over to the campsite and sorting out my accommodation for the event.  As long as I allow myself enough time it’ll all be just fine and I won’t get too stressed, but knowing me something will come up that scuppers my plans.  Good weather would be lovely as there’s nothing fun about camping in the rain, but I’ll just deal with whatever is thrown at me.  You can find us at stand 404, hope you can find us (bit of an IT joke there…)

The Royal Bath & West was a huge success for us, well done to the guys for fronting it up and working their proverbials off over the course of the event.  It’s always one of the highlights of the year and we love going there.  Jamie, Bond and Beard shiftRBWShielded a huge amount of stock between them and spread our chilli joy (and in some cases pain) far and wide.  I’m not sure what kind of voodoo Jamie used in order to get two stands, but it worked!  We even came away with yet another award, this time for the best trade stand in the food halls.  It’s the second time we’ve won this particular award, so we’re really chuffed.

20150530_074748I was at Caldicot Castle for the Monmouthshire Food Festival, a lovely event in a brilliant setting.  The weather didn’t quite play ball, but what’s not to love about an event in the grounds of a castle?  The locals were lovely, I had the best bacon & black pudding roll ever, and came away with supplies of beer from Brecon Brewing (who coincidentally are official brewers of Terry Pratchett branded beers) and some fantastic chocolate courtesy of Black Mountain Gold, which I am trying very hard not to devour at warp speed.  Proving difficult.

As well as Cornwall this week we’ll be at the continental market in Bromley from Thursday through to Sunday, Devizes Farmers Market on Saturday and Swindon’s Designer Outlet on Sunday.  The Pink Chilli Hobbit will have her PinkBox Boutique stall up at Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival at Bowood House on Friday and Saturday, and Simon from The Chilli Hut will be deputising for us in Frome on Sunday.

Right…time to go and find the tent…it’ll be somewhere in the garage, just past Shergar and round the corner from Lord Lucan…


I would like to die on Mars.  Just not on impact.

Contemplating Eindhoven

Love is in the air
Every sight and every sound
And I don’t know if I’m being foolish
Don’t know if I’m being wise

But it’s something that I must believe in
And it’s there when I look in your eyes

(c) John Paul Young

OK, so I’m not sure if gazebos (even anthropomorphised ones) have eyes, but there was definitely a certain frisson in the ether when Princess Pinkbox and King Gazebo finally met on Sunday.  As befits gazebo royalty though it was an intensely formal affair, and decorum dictated that a respectable distance was kept at all times, although your guess is as good as mine as to what may have happened whilst our backs were turned.  If Pink Chilli Hobbit starts to hear the patter of tiny gazebo legs in a few months…well, I guess we should have kept the covers on.


That was at the Swindon Dragon Boat Race, which looked like a real hoot for the competitors.  I never knew that Swindon was twinned with Hawaii (although the football teams are on a par), but the sight of sinewy, sun-blasted youths powering their way through the surf to stirring anthemic music theme is  something I will never forget.  OK, OK…in the interests of reporting accuracy it was more like the local accountancy company (complete with Beryl from HR) trying to beat a team with Rocking Robin (Swindon Town’s mascot, for the uninitiated) as the drummer, racing to the theme tune from Hawaii-Five-O…but you get the drift.  It was good fun, I have no idea who won as we were away from the action a bit, but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

20140629_122308 20140629_092245_1

Apart from that it was routine trading in Lechlade and Reading, nothing of real note apart from a most confused response from a customer at the event in Reading.  He’d already announced himself as someone that doesn’t like spicy food, but – and kudos to him for giving it a go – he said that if you don’t open yourself up to new experiences you don’t know what you might miss.  He tasted the Mango Hot Sauce, which as we know is sweet, fruity and yet packing of a surprising wallop…and then said ‘that tastes really nice, but I hate it’.  I’d rather deal with customers like that – willing to try it out even in the knowledge they probably won’t like it – than the sort that sneer at you and pull a face like you’ve just pooed in your hand and thrown it at them.

Now here’s an interesting article.  You’ll remember the grief I was having last week in making Naga Chilli Salt – well, seems my discomfort was well placed – check out the article at this link.  It doesn’t surprise me, the basic chemical in chillies is basically a poison (as so many things are).  Don’t let that put you off though 😉

So in a bit of a departure this post I’m not going to wobble on about the weather, England’s World Cup non-performance, or any of that sort of drivel.

Instead, t20140625_123058his week I shall give you a few behind-the-scenes snippets of life in the chilli kitchen, just so that you know what we mean when we go on about cooking, bottling and labelling.  Here’s one of our sauces in its pre-cooked state, in our big cooker.  Any ideas which one it is?  (No sneaky scrolling down to see the answer now…)

That’s right – it’s Mango Hot Sauce.  I know, I know…it looks nothing like it, but trust me.  The mangoes are at the bottom of the pan, waiting to be blitzed with our monster blender, as you can see below.

20140625_123250This is not the Masterchef school of cookery, it’s pretty industrial in it’s methodology – it has to be that way to produce the numbers of units we do, even with a smaller batch.

Even so it is done with a great deal of care and attention.  Ingredients are measured out accurately, temperatures are controlled carefully, and timings are of paramount importance.  True, there is an awful lot of verbal abuse flying around – it seems to aid the flow of the day – and keeps spirits up when there’s a heck of a lot to do.

So once everything’s been blitzed it’s left to cook, usually with the blender left in situ to continue to break up the chunks so that the sauce goes through the bottling machine.  Watching the sauce get sucked into the murky depths, only to go round the pan and appear again can be quite hypnotic.  It’s almost like a screensaver…

So once that’s all cooked it gets transferred to the bottling machine for…well…bottling.  Now it’s a bottling machine with a semi-automatic process, in that the sauce gets poured into a big hopper, the operator hits the foot pedal (pretending to be John Bonham or Neil Peart whilst doing so), desperately hoping that he’s remembered to put a bottle under the nozzle.  This is almost always the case, but in the mindless repetition that is the bottling process occasional mistakes occur.  We’ve all done it…

For a batch of Mango in the big cooker like this one you’re talking in the region of 750 bottles, so you can see how the occasional lapse in concentration occurs.  We are but flesh and blood, ladies and gentlemen, and the later in the day it gets, the stupider the flesh and blood becomes.


The Leaning Tower of Mango

But by and large it goes without incident, and you end up with large numbers of crates stacked up like the picture to the right waiting for some helpful sort to load up the sack truck and wheel them over to the old kitchen for capping and labelling.

Capping involves slipping a heat-shrink cap onto each bottle and then holding it in a cunning device that is basically an electric coil with a v-shaped plate in front of it to rest the bottle.  The caps shrink in a second, and then on to the next stage – which I hate – sticking the ‘best before’ stickers on.  There is no easy way to do this with standard bottles, as we put the stickers on the bottom of the bottle to stop them rubbing off in transit.  Tedious isn’t the word.

Labelling is another semi-automatic process.  Another machine with a foot pedal, though for reasons I’m never quite worked out we have it at counter level and tap it with a hand.

And that’s what we do…time after time after time.  It’s pretty repetitive so we take it in turns to be on the bottling machine, or capping and labelling, or making salts, or whatever else it is we do to bring our products to you.  Last week though – thanks to Jamie trying to remove his own fingers in a van door and someone taking the stabilisers off Bonds bike, guess who got be Mr Bottle for 2 days?  Though it’s a bit repetitive it’s what gives me a real buzz when I sell something on the stall – I can quite often say ‘I made that!’ – and you don’t get that from a checkout operator in the supermarkets.

So, anything else of interest out there this week?  I have to admit to having lived in a bit of a chilli-shaped bubble over the last few days, so it’s entirely feasible that the Martians have landed, taken over the White House, been ousted from office (probably by Bruce Willis wearing a sweat-stained vest) and order restored.  I just wouldn’t have noticed.


Greener by the day


Banksy has nothing on us

20140629_064838On the left – this is why I’m late getting to work some days.



This weekend coming will see us in Bristol’s Temple Quay, Tidworth, Devizes, Corfe Castle, Sheffield, the North East Chilli Festival, Corsham, the Cotswold Show, Frome, Shaftesbury, Marlborough, Bath, Swindon, Oxford and – after all of that – the pub for an adult beverage.  But not Eindhoven…not yet, at least.

Back to the football, such as it is. Another turgid match where the favourite goes through.  Boring!

Sayonara peeps, catch you next time.

Mr Rotavator

DSCF7877 Back in the day, those of old of us to know better would watch a madman on breakfast TV who would exhort us to jump about like a lunatic, in some kind of attempt to make us get fit, or at least to make us dunk biscuits in time to music.  His name was (and still is) Derrick Evans, but you may remember him better as Mr Motivator.

Now we don’t have a Derrick, but we do have a Jamie, and this week he has been our very own Mr Rotavator.  It’s the time of the season when all those lovely polytunnels, ignored over the long winter months, have to be prepared for the seasons chilli goodness.  DSCF7891So on the hottest day of the year so far (impeccable timing being our specialty) Jamie attacked the tunnels with as much gusto as could be mustered with a hangover and 40-degree temperatures.  And a fine job he made of it too, the soil was actually in great condition to turn over and the job – though hot work – was done in a day.  Unfortunately that’s only the first part of the preparation work – beds still have to be dug – but it’s a start.

Now I don’t want you thinking that I just sat there laughing and pointing at Jamie struggling away, whilst all I did was take a few snapshots.  I did help clear the rotavator blades of all sorts of string and garden wire that had become entangled – proof positive that all those years of clearing the vacuum cleaner of my daughters’ long hair was good practice for something.

Desperately attempting to flex

Desperately attempting to flex

Look at that concentration

Look at that concentration







I'll see you on the other side...

I’ll see you on the other side

Somewhere to park your bike, I guess

Somewhere to park your bike, I guess








The plants themselves are coming on in leaps and bounds.  Much discussion was going on between Jamie and his Dad regarding irrigation techniques, and if the weather holds up like it has done over the past few days that’s going to be a subject of continued debate.  Even on a nice April day the tunnels were nudging upwards of 40 degrees Celsius – that’s enough to melt hobbits, I can tell you.

DSCF7887-001I found the Reapers this visit.  They look…malevolent.  There’s something about the way they were just lurking in the corner, sort of glaring at me in a knowing way…I definitely had the feeling that somewhen, somewhere, I’m going to feel the full force of their many, many Scovilles.  I’m scared Ted.

Away from the Farm it’s been another busy weekend of trading.  Between us we covered events in Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Marlborough, Frome,  Chippenham and Swindon.  The weather on Sunday especially was lovely, though I did have the rather surreal experience of having a stall next to the Pink Chilli Hobbit (a.k.a. my ex-wife Kerry for the uninitiated, running a stall for Hive Originals) – hence the photo below.


Next weekend we’re all over the country again – Carlisle, Bristol, Nunney, Oxford, Sherston, Swindon, Thame and Newbury.  It may not be world domination, but by ‘eck we’re giving it the real college try.


This is what chilli sauce does to you

On a final note, this is William.  I’ve met William on a couple of occasions (this time at the Marlborough Spring Fayre) and William is a MONSTER.  He has tried everything I’ve thrown at him, and despite all my best efforts he just shrugs off the heat as being ‘a bit tingly’.  Most children save up their pocket money for an iPhone, or a new PS4 game, or even a new football kit.  William wants to save up his pocket money for a bottle of God Is Dead.

I’d better have a word with his parents about what it says on the label…



And with that, fair reader, I will step away from the keyboard and go and watch Pointless.  It’s not all beer and skittles, you know.

Have a good week!


New events page – second attempt!

OK, so I can’t spell…let’s try again, shall we? 😛

Quick update – new Events page created:


This is just the events that you’ll find me or Kerry – the next few Wiltshire Chilli Farm events are listed over here ——————————————————>

Hope to see you there! 🙂

Day two

Day two in the Hobbit blog household, and yours truly is tinkering furiously (fnurk).

I’ve tweaked the layout a bit, and hopefully this will be the way it settles, but don’t be surprised to see it change on a periodic basis.  As I find out what the widgets actually do I may well add a few more 🙂

So what does today hold?  Not a lot to start with, I’m all paperworked out this week and am looking forward to the weekend’s markets.  I have some glamorous assistants working in Chippenham for me this weekend – my ex Kerry and her other half Chris.  This means we can be in two places at once, spreading the word of the world’s finest chilli sauces.  I’ll be at the Tobacco Factory in Brizzle covering for Si Francis, who will be hungover after his birthday drinkies!

Off to see Jamie at the Farm later to put in place more plans to conquer the universe.  If we ever get this right we’ll be unstoppable…