A sideline project for an IT guy who likes to cook

Month: December 2021

Old bulbs in a Christmas tree

Certain things seem to be part of the universes laws of physics.  The screw driver you left in that drawer for the moments you might need a screw driver will always be the opposite kind you need for the job.  Be it a Philips or a flathead.  For me they seem to congregate together, I tried to have more than one type in the same drawer.  I swear they switch type!

There is another law with Christmas tree lights, those with filament bulbs.  Doesn’t matter if you put them away working,  every year without fail there will be a few bulbs that don’t work.  I know I put them away working, I do it every year.  With the power of modern technology slowly the problem has gone away our main tree now using LEDs and from the window you can’t really tell. However up close and in the room the sparkle isn’t the same despite having warm in the title. 

We’ve not quite got rid of the problem, the  one of our decorations is a small sideboard Christmas tree light.  Made from tiny filament bulbs.  Every year I put it away working and without fail we pull it out the box and a bulb has gone.   Which means a branch or two is out and a good ten to fifteen minutes of fiddly searching for the dead bulb ensues.  We love the light and it will be a sad day when we no longer have any spare bulbs left.  Habitat, the chain of stores long gone from the high street and with it the chance of replacement bulbs long gone.  It’s a small problem in the grand scheme of things and the worries that seemed to be with us today.  It’s become an act of mindfulness now searching for the dead bulb and a moment to reflect as a search through one by one ensues.

It’s the last coffee share for the year and I just want to thank everyone who popped by and said hello and thank those folk who put a little of themselves into the world each week.  Pictures of warmth, pictures of the cold but with a warmth that isn’t visible, stories and anecdotes.  I’ve tried, though not always had time to visit or reciprocate,  clicking on the links one by one at certain parts over the weekend to find the vagaries of life eating into the time available.  It’s been lovely to be welcomed into the community of regular bloggers.  Thank you.

From getting my booster last Sunday it’s felt like a long week with folk at work trying to finish things off, squeeze things in and hand things over as though getting the demands to me now will mean they will be ready for their return when they get back.  With zero appreciation for the fact my team will also be on a break, except for a select few who will be keeping the lights on.  Despite the demands, I’m grateful as the media rolls out more doom and gloom.  The latest variant taking it’s tole on the revelry that comes with this time of year, the impact on jobs and lives as the pandemic rumbles on is truly sad. 

We managed to see Spiderman – no way home, one of the demands of the returning son from university who was desperate to see it on it’s opening night.  The cinema was packed, with all four screens sold out, totally at odds with the global situation.   With an audience that was half my age (ok slightly more than half) and full of die-hard fans, I was whisked away as the audience screamed and cheered during some fairly excellent story lines (no spoilers here!)

The bowl has been completed by son number two and I’m very impressed, and at Natalies request I share a picture with you.

Food wise I had hoped to be able to share various bits and pieces on the menu for Christmas, the planning isn’t quite there yet and I’ll be dashing about like most people as we get closer. I intend to write a bit more about that as part of the battle with my book.  Needless to say though going on long walks over the next few days and weeks is a must as I loosen a belt notch!

My intention and hopefully by writing it here (as a commitment) is to pull together my thoughts on planning and the run up as a way of guiding a fellow traveller in the kitchen.

On that note I’m going to sign off and that just leaves me with wishing you happiness over the holiday season and I hope your Christmas lights shine bright this year.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

Young Man

It’s a morning of reflection, Eighteen years ago a tiny baby came into the world and changed it forever, for me anyways.  Today, officially he becomes a young man.  I take a pause at that statement and reflect on where I was at that time.  My final year at school no idea where I was heading, a part time job at Lakeland (they only had three stores at that point) and the head office in Windermere.  My memory is vague, but I do remember a night at the Aquarius the local nightclub eight miles away.  I’d managed to blag a lift off a pal so I could have a couple of drinks, probably all I could afford, and honestly I wasn’t bothered about drinking anyway.  There might have been a few school pals dotted about in the darkness, purely by chance and no gathering as such to mark the occasion.  There is one moment of clarity on the dance floor the mega mix of Dressed for Success by Roxette.  Not sure I was dancing with anyone in particular just enjoying the moment in my own anonymity and a tune I loved. 

Today though, we head over to Glasgow in amongst the cancellations and the calls to stay safe.  We’ve booked a table at The Butchershop bar & grill, determined to mark the day and bring some excitement to the occasion.  Eighteen a strange number to mark but a number none the less to hang your hat on and say wow……happy birthday.

It seems a long time since last weekend and the expedition my younger son and I took in order to source his wood block and a Christmas tree.  A circular route, one of those we’ll be out for an hour or so turned into the whole afternoon.   Skirting around the coast there was no sign of a snow storm.  It was just rain.  The wood block was picked and in the bag in a good thirty mins.   Then we started to head in-land, we’d heard of a community woodland that sold Christmas trees for a reasonable amount and supported the wood itself.  A charitable act at the same time as bringing something local into the house.   We came within about 2 miles of the wood.  As we headed inland the rain turned to snow, beautiful in nature but to the road and those people trying to get through it turned into a real problem.   We were doing fine until the car in front stopped, which meant I had to stop and then disaster struck the traction control kicked in and we couldn’t move forward.  My son the hero of the day in his football shorts, put on the boots I’d brought for the wood got out and started to push.  Wheels spinning like crazy and with a good ten minutes we made it to the crest of the hill.   We bailed at that point, headed back into town and accepted the markup at the local garden centre grateful to have made it home alive!

The woodblock I got to see half way through it’s transformation and I’m impressed.  I wish I’d taken a picture before it went back into school.  It’s not come home again although I’ve been informed it’s nearly done, raised grain and all.  His mum is going to love it.

Food….arrrghh, we have all manner of things arrive in the veg box from potatoes (we ask for no potatoes!), cauliflower, fennel, leek and cabbage.  I haven’t really given it a second thought.  It will be tomorrow’s job.   I fancy making some kind of gratin with the fennel.

Media…We are slowly making it through the Get Back Beatles documentary on Disney, completing part two last night.  A fascinating insight into the last album the Beatles made a few years before I was even born.  The restoration of the footage is amazing.  Aside from a little spat with George there is no evidence of a breakup looming.  Although it is very bizarre having Yoko there day in day out.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.


It’s the start of December and it feels like a light switch has gone on, a ramp up to make the days brighter as we head to the big day of the year.   Normally there is a gradual build up and here in Edinburgh there are establishments that light up there entrances from October which typically get a shake of my head.  Working from home and staying away from the town has stopped me from being that frog who doesn’t notice the gradual build up of heat in the pan.  All of a sudden it’s here and bang we are on the count down, the radio is now in open season as the annual songs get played and Whamageddon begins (you get a free pass surely if you heard Last Christmas in November).   My email is a constant fight,  I’ve had no end of last chances to buy something, as it grows and grows.  How many ‘really this is your last chance really’ emails can I get.

As I visited various blogs over the last few days several celebrating thanksgiving It’s made me pause for thought about where we are heading this year and what might be.  A single advent candle got lit yesterday, normally we have two, one for each boy.   It’s absence marking that there are one three of us at the table each night.   This advent our eldest son is at university which is another change to our cycle of tradition.  We have a wooden tree, that we’ve been bringing out since he was two.  It’s obviously seen lots of chocolate, little toys and tiny bits of Lego.  One year I distributed a Lego Christmas scene across the days so it got built up gradually.  Latterly we divided it up by four in a kind of lucky dip, where favours, little notes were to be shared if you got that day.  This year it’s just back to chocolate….and I guess it will change again.  As I hopefully grow older and wiser I’m starting to learn to take each year as they come and enjoy them for what they are.

A football/soccer match to get out the way, whilst I deal with messages (heading to the shop and the library) is the plan this morning.  Then my fifteen year old, son and I are off to get the Christmas tree from the community woodland and his mums Christmas present.  He’s after a wood block that he’s going to turn into a bowl using the school lathe.   So bit of an adventure today.

I’m starting to think about the food over the holiday week and there are certain things that I’m looking forward to such as a cured salmon that we eek out our lunches over the break.   A trifle which to be honest I would have every other day if I could in the same way my wife would choose a crumble.  We typically though save the trifle for Christmas and it marks a special time, it brings back memories of my grandma’s buffet table.  It’s also something that my mum taught me how to make.  My plan is to write this up this weekend….for some reason my writing has been blocked by a simple task and I need to break through.

On that note it’s time to get the jobs underway, thank you for the coffee and I’ll be round later.

The #WeekendCoffeeShare is an informal weekly link-up hosted by Natalie the Explorer that serves as weekly heart beat and sort of of a mind-dump. Helps me reflect on my week, with a list of achievements, thoughts and rambles normally whilst drinking a beverage probably listening to music.

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