Foraging for beer and paint sea and air

Without really trying the barrel of homebrew has been substantially dimished. About half of it has gone and there have been a few muttered complaints that it isn’t as good as it was a few days ago. Presumably that means we will have to finish it off.

In the meantime on a forage around the basement I came across a couple of beers. The banana next to the Leffe is there to provide a precise indication of its size. Unfortunately the drink before date was sometime back in 1998 and so whilst I am sure the beer will still be okay there is a reluctance to open the bottle up a face the inevitable disappointment.

By way of contrast the drink by date on the bottle of Chouffe is end of 2014. So I only have a few days to finish it off!

Outside the ground is still hard with frost and snow and inside the nascent artist in the family has been working off excess energy by getting to grips with paint, sea and air.

Some guilty conscious reminding us to be good.

The Boxing Day walk was a fairly modest affair. The cars were parked in the small car park at the end of Green Lane. From there we walked through the dunes to the sea.

The tide was in and there were only a few patches of sand. At the waters edge there were hundreds of shattered razor clams. Most of the birds were out at sea and all we saw were a few magpies and crows and one small oyster catcher that flew away as soon as we got close.

The weather was grey and heavy with flecks of rain coming in off the sea.

Having done the walk we tried for a pub. Our first effort, Gallaghers, was a failure as one of us confessed to the age of one of the children and I just had time to start admiring the range of good beer they had set up on the bar before we were regretfully shown the door. But a hundred yards away was The Swinger Arm. On their bar all the taps were turned round – they had run out of the cask ales. So we settled down to pints of Guinness and Erdinger admiring the fine view across the Mersey.

There is something medieval in the way that The Anglican Cathedral dominates the skyline. Driving around the Wirral it can appear unexpectedly through a gap between trees  and in Birkenhead it looms like some guilty conscious reminding us to be good.

Back home we lit a fire as it started to snow and I made coleslaw to eat with the cold capon and ham and roast potatoes.

A new bench in the house

We have a new bench in the house.


It arrived Tuesday evening on the back of a van that had come from somewhere in Belgium. It then spent 48 hours in the basement before being assembled this morning.

It is looking very smart in the kitchen although it will make itself useful outside at some point. Perhaps when the snow has melted.

In the meantime Christmas has been and gone and we have in the basement a large plate of cold capon.

Is there any better job for a man than picking the meat from a roasted bird. A small sharp knife is essential but then it is all a master of nimble fingers and picking away at the bones until there is nothing left. This one had been stuffed with dried figs and cherries, walnuts and onions, and a good few dashes of San Miguel. Cook’s treats were a suck at the bones.

Confusion over Patxiran and cheese, sausages and beans

This time last year we were in Spain and I was putting myself back together after an evening drinking too much Patxaran ready to go out shopping in the local town to buy up the ingredients to make a great dish of lamb stewed in honey and roast potatoes. I had tried to tempt the family into the idea of a couple of suckling pigs but the more tender hearted weren’t going for it.

This year tried to tempt the family into a Persian themed Christmas meal but they weren’t having it either I will be slipping down to Birkenhead for a bird to roast and the vegetables to go with it. There are already some sprouts downstairs and bags of two different types of potatoes. I will be picking the bird up from Wards and I might see if they have some oysters as well.

Don’t tell the family but the bird may have a Persian themed stuffing.


Earlier in the week there was some potentially fatal confusion over the buying of cheese in Lunya. I wanted some Vacherin Mont d’Or type cheese, soft to dip into, so I asked if they had any. Peter nodded his head and picked from the shelf a bottle of Patxiran. Now there is an arguement that a man cannot have too much Patxiran in his life but there are at least three bottles of the stuff lurking in the basement and the memory of the last night I had drinking the stuff is still raw. A cigar might have been involved.

We cleared up the confusion and I came away with a small soft cheese made with ewe’s milk. It is in the fridge downstairs nesting up to a Gubben whose used by date might have passed a couple of months ago and has taken over the tang of well rotted grass. I am looking forward to getting stuck into that.


I bought some bottled Navarro beans to go with some sausages.

We had them last night. The sausages had come all the way from Bridgnorth swaddled in newspaper. For the beans I sweated some bacon in a large pan, as it started to give off its fat I added onions, garlic and a few scrapings of chilli. Once the onions were golden I dolloped in a spoonful of thick black treacle. That cooked for a minutes and then beans and tomatoes were stirred in.

They were all very good together. Followed by a bottle of Zot.