Archive for the ‘Rants & Ramblings’ Category

Venice At Night

Posted: April 11, 2011 in Art, Rants & Ramblings

Click on the images if you wish to view them at full size.


















On Thursday evening I went down to Gunwharf to pick my daughter up from work at 7pm.  It was a lovely evening with few clouds.  Any clouds that were in the sky had an amazing red glow to their underside from the setting sun.

As we drove along the hard, I suddenly had an impulse to take a picture of HMS Warrior as we drove towards the Dockyard gates. As we neared the bend and slowed down, I took the picture using my iPhone.

Looking at it on the screen, I could see it was blurred but liked the look of it, so I didn’t delete it.  When I got home, I looked at it on my PC and actually quite liked it.  I like the way HMS Warrior is framed by the tree and the wall of the dockyard.

I also like the bench in the foreground and the steps behind.  To me, it looks like a great photo to use a the basis for an impressionist painting of the ship?

Spicy Paprika Mushrooms

Posted: August 23, 2010 in Rants & Ramblings

I know there is no mention of food in the title of this Blog but you can’t have wine and friends without food can you?

Yesterday we had been out all day so we wanted something quick and easy for dinner so we bought some sausages, jacket potatoes and Portobello mushrooms.  When we got home this seemed a bit bland to me so I thought I would try something with the mushrooms using homegrown white onions and garlic from a friend who had grown them in her garden.

I sliced the mushrooms into thick slices, diced up the onions and finely chopped the garlic.

The garlic and onions went into a frying pan with a few glugs of olive oil and a generous helping of dried chillies.  I fried them on a low heat so they didn’t burn and once the onions went soft I added the mushrooms.  I turned up the heat and fried the mushrooms until they started to brown off, then I added lots of Paprika and kept adding it until I liked the taste.

Finally I added about 200ml of Creme Fraiche and kept stirring it in until the Creme  Fraiche was hot.

It tasted bloody lovely.

A Killer Pasta Sauce

Posted: August 19, 2010 in Rants & Ramblings

When I was in Spain for a month at the beginning of the year I tried making a pasta sauce using Passata for the first time.  For those that don’t know, Passata is pureed tomatoes that have been sieved, so it is a smooth liquid with no pips etc. The sauce I made in Spain had all sorts in it and was rather nice, according to my friend and his wife who I cooked it for.

When I was back I thought I would try it again as previously I had always used a mixture of tinned tomatoes and fresh.

This time I wanted to make it a simple sauce but with bags of taste and to my surprise, I wasnt disappointed and have made it many times since and here is how:

Put some olive oil in a large frying pan and before the oil gets too hot add some chopped white onion, as much freshly chopped garlic as you like and a good helping of dried chilli flakes. (Schwartz do them).  Cook this off slowly until the onions are soft and almost transparent.  DON’T let it get too hot or the onions will fry and the garlic will burn.

Add the Passata and cook for as long as possible, allowing it to reduce and thicken.

Cook your pasta and when it is almost done, add some fresh Basil leaves to the sauce, they will cook very slightly in the heat of the sauce. Drain the pasta and mix it with the sauce and your done.

All you need now is some fresh crusty bread and a lovely bottle of Vino Rosso!

If that is too plain for you, get a block of Halloumi cheese, cut it into squares and as the pasta is cooking, cover your grill pan in tin foil, grill the cubes of Halloumi until at least 2 sides are golden brown and again, put into the sauce at the last minute with the Basil.

On Saturday evening my wife and I spent the night with some friends on their yacht in Emsworth (Hampshire) so we could make an early start on Sunday morning and get out on the tide in Chichester Harbour at 5am (madness).

After loading the boat and having a couple of swift G&T’s we walked up the road to a pub by one of the Mill Ponds on the old A27 called the Sussex Brewery.

I cannot tell you how many times I have driven past this pub and wondered what it was like inside because from the outside it doesn’t look great but I had once, somewhere, heard good things about it.

Walking into the pub I immediately noticed it looked a lot older on the inside than it did on the outside.  The ceilings were very low, it had a flagstone floor in parts as well as wooden flooring, all covered with a generous sprinkling of sawdust on the floor and it also had exposed timber beams. It really was very nice.

There were a few locals at the bar and we were immediately served by friendly staff and then got some menus.

It seemed their speciality is sausages, mash & gravy and you really were spoilt for choice, not only on the meat variety of sausages, but there must have been about 8 different types of vegetarian sausages.

The food came quickly, it was hot, tasted great and not a scrap was left on our plates.

The only let down for me was that the woman who served us knew absolutely bugger all about their wine selection so I had to look through the bottles behind the bar to find something I liked, but that aside, I would definitely recommend a visit if you are ever passing through Emsworth in Hampshire.

Decided to get out of the house yesterday.  I was suffering from an acute bout of Cabin fever caused by working from home.  after 2 yrs, it’s really starting to grate some days.

unfortunately it seems that everyone over the age of 85 had the same idea as me!

Amongst other places, I went to the harbour in Emsworth to sit outside the Cafe (bizarrely named ‘Flintstones’, it’s made of flint but I always think of the cartoon) and relax with a coffee and enjoy the view of the harbour.

As mentioned, the average age of those out and about seemed to be somewhere in the mid-eighties and more bizarre than the name of the cafe was the undeniable fact that some wag must have told the male perambulators of the day that it is incredibly fashionable to wear bright red trousers!  there were all these old blokes walking around looking like they had been dipped in scolding hot water!

The next thing I noticed was as they approached the entrance to the cafe, they all stopped in their tracks as if they had walked into a sheet of glass.  Why do old people do that, just stop in a doorway?  They do it at my local Waitrose.  Not only walking in, but walking out.  So at some busy times during the day, there is a seething mass of elderly folks, all slightly bewildered under a female haze of Lavender scent and a retina-melting glow of red trousers blocking all available exits.

Then it was off to Havant to get some food shopping. I also went to MacDonalds, which is my ‘Dirty Little Secret’.  I don’t eat it often but about 4 or 5 times a year I get an urge for MacDonalds and it wont go away until it is satisfied.

Whilst in there I noticed a very old lady who is employed to clean the tables etc.  She moved around the place like a woman possessed! She just did not stop! At one point she walked past me and caught my eye and said ‘All go today’ I replied, ‘Yes, I’ve been watching you, you havent stopped have you?’ She stopped and said ‘It’s my Birthday in October, I shall be eighty, I haven’t got time to hang about!’ Priceless, and a great example of why people shouldnt be forced to retire ant any age, let alone 65.