Tag Archives: Dark Woods Coffee
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What TO Buy. (In the Name of Poor Wee Mickey.)

29 Feb

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m the kind of gal who hardly fits the stereotype of ‘possesses female biological bits. Must love shopping.’ Indeed no. Can’t abide the activity.

And yet when I heard that a good pal/colleague of mine; international coffee and barista expert, Paul Meikle Janney, had just appeared on a BBC 2 show entitled ‘What NOT To Buy’ I was somewhat intrigued.

Because at the same time that the programme was broadcast, my own little household were engaged in a war of words appertaining to a certain device that has featured in our house for some time. Such as… was this particular item useful? Deemed to be a successful buy? Or was it indeed, a total and utter pile of tosh. I began to wonder what readers and fellow bloggers might have to say about their own household Naughties and Nicies, in terms of gadgety-purchases.

So for this blog and for the next one, I’m going to attempt to address these issues and will also some of my own personal favourite ‘Must Haves.’

But to begin with, let’s go for the item that caused the minor domestic between us:

The Humane Mouse Trap

Saves heartache? Or causes hassle.

Saves heartache? Or causes hassle.

If you’re fortunate (or stupid) enough to live in a house that happens to be faced with a load of cows at the front of it and also has to contend with a flock of sheep at the back – you’re more than likely to have to entertain the odd mate of Mickey during the nippier months. The countryside is a bugger for that. Now, the smaller rodents don’t freak me out too much (I once caught a mouse with my bare hands actually. Well – I scooped the dratted thing up in my little lad’s Iron Man costume. Which he – rather ungratefully – refused to wear again afterwards, until I had washed it) but I’m not totally laissez-faire about living in a vermin ridden residence, so yeah. Mouse traps might well be required eh?

However, the man what lives with us happens to have some big issue with the thought of squishing the blood and smashing the guts out of the little blighters. And fair do’s. I mean, I wouldn’t have a problem with this stance on things *IF* the guy was a vegetarian or a pacifist or a Buddist or something. But no. He is in fact, the son of a butcher. Spent his youth chopping up limbs and the like during the 80’s with his father. And dietary wise, he also happens to worship his red meat. Will be developing gout any time soon, no doubt. And yet he wants to have mercy. He wants to give pardon to those filthy-dirty-nasty little mice that to scamper in and around our family home and that rip apart the clothes that I’ve stockpiled in the loft for the kiddies in dozens of carefully labelled-by-age-and-size boxes (‘just so you know dear – these boxes of stuff in the attic mean that … if I happen to get run over by a bus any time soon – you won’t ever have to buy clothes for the kids again. Not that you ever did anyway.’)

But I like to humour his little whims. So I purchased several ‘humane’ mouse traps. If you aren’t familiar with them, this is how it works; you place a yummmy snack in the bottom of the trap (peanut butter and chocolate combo works best) – and when the mouse enters the rectangular tube, the tunnel snaps shut on them. Harmlessly sealing them in there until you arrive. What you have to do then though, is to take them at least 1 mile away from your house in order to release them – as the little swines are clever at sniffing out the same preferred nooks and crannies again.

Sounds great doesn’t it? And perhaps it IS a wonderful little invention in the hands of some individuals. But not in the mitts of my other half; the man who has been charged with checking the traps. Because so far we have had the following issues:

        Mouse Incident No.1

– Caught 2 mice which husband duly drove away down a long country lane for release. But the 3rd rodent captured during this spate must have been Mighty Mouse. Because it actually managed to chew through hardcore plastic in order to liberate itself. (Impressive stuff. Perhaps indeed, this was the dude that later I had to catch whilst grabbing him with our Marvel superhero costume. Would make sense.) So I then went onto purchase trap number 2.

A clever mouse managed to chew through our trap...

A clever mouse managed to chew through our trap…

        Mouse Incident No.2

– Caught mouse in the trap. Fella drove it down the country lane. Arrived back home 5 minutes later with a look of abject horror on his face. He goes; “I … let it go free. Placed it at the back of the car next to the field. I had to reverse quickly as I was blocking the entrance to the road. But… I thought it would scamper away. They usually do. So I just assumed that it had done … And …”
I got the drift; “And… you reversed over it. Oh dear.”

He told me off for laughing. But I defy you not to.

        Mouse Incident No.3

– Caught mouse in trap. Fella drove it down the country lane. Arrived back home 5 minutes later with another look of abject horror on his face. “I … let it go. And this time it moved – but as I was pulling away in the car I saw a kestrel swoop down right on top of it.”

        Mouse Incident No. 4
dead mouse

My mummified mouse was in far worse condition than this one.

– As I mentioned above, I’m quite happy to catch mice with the aid of polyester dressing-up outfits. But inexplicably, I don’t like checking to see if they’re in the trap or not. So anyway, there I was adding some ‘Girl Aged 12-14 yrs’ clothes to the OCD-esque hoard in the loft and I noticed the trap nearby. I gave it a rattle to check there was no scrabbling inside. And took it downstairs to wash it out. Only to discover a mummified mouse.

Now as I said, I’m really not the squeamish sort – but this little revelation very nearly caused me to throw up onto the shag-pile. Not because of the smell or the shock or anything. But simply because of the look on it’s poor little face. What a way to die. Like some sort of Yorkshire version of an Edgar Allen Poe horror-story.

I mean, for God’s sake! If you’re going to insist on human traps – then at least bloody well check them every day. Or clean them and keep them out of the way of mice who want to experience the worst possible method of death. Or fix a little bell to the outside of the trap so that Missy Mouse can mimic the medieval practice of ringing for attention, should a corpse have unwittingly been buried alive.

Far, far better to have bludgeoned it with a rolling pin or summat, I’m beginning to think.

Anyway. I still haven’t learned my own lesson. I’m still pandering to his strange whims. The other day a friend told me all about these plug-in devices that send out high frequencies that rodents hate, thus deterring them from entering your home. So yeah, I bought one and yeah, so far so good.

Jury's still out on this one.

Jury’s still out on this one.

Although the kid’s hamster seems to have been acting even more like a bit of a lunatic recently. So perhaps I need to Go-Google why that might be.

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If you’re interested, read more about Paul M-J, BBC 2 and what coffee brewing equipment you SHOULDN’T buy here:

http://www.darkwoodscoffee.co.uk/paul-meikle-janney-reviewing-home-espresso-machines-on-bbc2/

10 Reasons *Some People* Hate Yorkshire

31 Jul

***NB – this blog has been written with a very large slice of Tongue In Cheek. And Indeed – By a Lassie Of The North…***

Yorkshire Yorkshire Yorkshire. It’s all that we ever hear these days. I think that it’s about time that we had a full and frank commentary in relation to the damned place.

So here are 10 good reasons why you should not even contemplate visiting Yorkshire. Or having anything to do with Yorkshire Day.

1. It’s Bigger Than Yours

Try saying something like this to someone from Yorkshire;  ‘Hey – I’ve got an Auntie in Yorkshire. The next time I visit her, I’ll pop by and see you!’  And just watch them do this sort of sardonic sneer and go ‘Ha! Do you actually KNOW how big Yorkshire is?  We’re the biggest county in the UK! It’s not like your London! It’s not like you can jump on the tube and be at Stepney Green in 10 minutes flat. No, lad. You’ll have to climb, hills, valleys, dales for many a year before you can even catch a whiff of yer fish n chips in Whitby, you know…”

2. Tour de France/ Tour de Yorkshire.

They Got Too Giddy

They Got Too Giddy

Say no more.  I mean – how giddy did they get about all of that? Did you see people living in the other parts of the country that hosted the race? Did they get all emotional and start showing off their great tracts of land and all of that? No. Yet again, the Yorkshire folk went over the top and got all up- themselves and no doubt are still riding about on bicycles with yorkshire puddings balanced on their heads. Or whatever weird pastime they’ll be engaging in for the next 100 years as they tell their kids how glorious the nation of Yorkshire is and how a Yorkshireman invented the wheel, or whatever.

3. The Arts

Yorkshire people are simply not content with their lot. Lots of counties would be perfectly happy with the fact that they spawned Emmerdale, Last Of The Summer Wine or Heartbeat. But no. The tykes want to prove that they can do more than mass TV appeal. They start getting all la-di-dah about being literary and all of that. Like – “Oooh – we have the Brontes, Simon Armitage, Barbara Hepworth, Alan Bennett, David Hockney. the Yorkshire Sculpture Park nad oooh have you ever visited Hebden Bridge? It’s SO bo-ho y’know!”

4. They inject their Extremism into Neighbouring Territories

Not content with brainwashing their own offspring into their regionalist bigotry, they are now mounting covert campaigning over the border. Now me – I’m a Manchester, Lancashire born lass – but do you hear people from Lancashire wittering on about the red rose? About being ‘Proud to be from Lancashire!’  No. But there is now a disturbing trend of Lancashire folk who we all *think* to be living in Lancashire…. but who are wanna-be Yorkies. Get this folks – thanks to border confusion/changes – Oldham Council (a Lancashirebased Council!) actually supports – nay – champions Yorkshire Day and seems to be PROUD of the fact that many folk in the Saddleworth area feel strongly that they live in the west Riding of Yorkshire. They even have their own White Rose Society! There is still quite a lot of wrangling/consternation about this whole issue – but one thing is for sure –  travel around these Lancashire villages (according to the UK government) at the moment and see them bedecked in the white rose.

I ask you. Where will it all end? Pity the poor children of those part of Oldham who are already growing up all of a muddle about whether they are Lankys or not. If we aren’t too careful – these innocent kids will soon be neglecting their Eccles cakes in favour of a Fat Rascal.

5. They are Hugely Endowed

I feel sorry for the kids. It's all "Ooh! Look at our Yorkshire hills! Aren't you proud To be Yorkshire, eh?"

I feel sorry for the kids. It’s all “Ooh! Look at our Yorkshire hills! Aren’t you proud To be Yorkshire, eh?”

The hills, I mean. They have hills. Bloody great big buggers. Much better than the silly, roly-poly things that pass for ‘hills’ down south. And I mean – do we ever hear the end of this? So yeah, we all then have to agree that they do have the most stunning countryside in the country. And on top of that they have the seaside resorts, the moorlands, Bolton Abbey, the North York railways etc. etc. But I bet those tykes are all too tight to pay for the petrol for those *vast distances* involved for them in travelling there…

6.Nosh

The Yorkshire folk seem to think that they do the best food and drink in the country. They’re off there – spouting about their pork pies and their fish and chips and don’t even get them onto tearooms! It’s all ‘Betty and Taylors’ this and ‘Dark Woods poshest coffee in the world’ that.  As though when they turn the pig into bacon it has a white rose running through the middle of it! As though they grew the coffee beans in their own last remaining Yorkshire coal mine!  They’d probably lay claim to having invented Lancashire hot pot or making the first ever pan of Scouse, if you let them.

7. Historical claims

Recently, I read a most frightening little book (or should I say ‘propaganda’) named ‘Yorkshire’s Strangest Tales’ that stated that Robin Hood was not from Nottingham – but was a Yorkshire man. Along with Dick Turpin! And the author (this dreadful woman named Leonora Rustamova)  also waxed lyrical about the fact that Britain’s road network was invented by this dude named ‘Blind Jack’. From Knaresborough in Yorkshire. Or course. He probably invented the Concord, back in 1772, as well, didn’t he?Yorkshire strange tales

There is also much talk about Yorkshire being the base for the Saints – the first Celtic Christians that came to England. They also refer to their county as ‘God’s Own Country.’ Blasphemy! Utter blasphemy!

And I bet you that they reckon that Buddha had a flat in 1960’s Bradford, as well.

8. House Prices

So those Yorkshire folk, they sit there, all full of it lording it over the rest of us “Eee – I can own Harewood House, a yacht off Filey and a block of luxury flats in city centre Leeds – for the price of that cat-flap what you live in, in that London.”

And I think that this is due to something more than Yorkshire – tightness. There’s even a business group called ‘The Yorkshire Mafia’ and … call me a conspiracy theorist if you will – but I reckon its more than just a name!

9. Lost In Their Own Identity

Recently I have heard several famous people/pop stars etc claim “I’m Yorkshire, I am.” Or along those lines. I mean, have you ever heard someone say; “I’m Worcestershire” or “I’m London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, me I am.”

Exactly. The arrogance of these people is growing to monstrous proportions.

10.  Possible Neglect of Animals

I just find it strange… that Yorkshire people will pull anything out of their flat cap and claim it to be theirs – or to be better at anything and everything – than the rest of us. But think on this my friend. When was the last time you heard them getting excited about Yorkshire Terriers? No, indeed. There seems to be some kind of deep-rooted shame in the psyche of Yorkshire people when it comes to mentioning these small but hairy pooches.

In fact, I would go as far to say that Yorkshire Terriers are suffering from abject neglect when it comes to the marketing of Yorkshire.  The Yorkie terrier is the lost innocent in all of this madness!

A furry victim of prejudice? or simple neglect?

A furry victim of prejudice? Or simple neglect?

So dear reader – whilst certain commentators or politicians would like to see your concerns over extremism and issues of race and nationality being directed towards refugees, asylum seekers, muslims and the scottish – I think that we all need to look a lot closer to home.

Beware of Yorkshire Day, I say! These people are serious and they mean to take over the world…

 

 

(NB – if you got this far, finished the blog and still think that I am anti-Yorkshire, then you truly don’t get northern humour! And I feel pretty sure that Leonora Rustamova. Saddleworth White Rose Society and the Yorkshire Mafia will ‘get the plot’ too. But I do extend apologies to all Yorkshire Terriers everywhere. Because you deserve more PR than you are currently getting and I don’t mean to make light of this dreadful situation for you.)

 

*note* – this blog was inspired by a REAL conversation that I overheard. Thank you Crazy People On The Train!

Chocs Away!

19 Jul

Well, I thought that ‘Chocs Away’ was a much better title than ‘All About My Book Launch.’  If you are a newcomer to this blog (welcome pals!) then you will soon discover that my daughter has dyslexia and that it leads to many interesting ‘language moments’ … (See ‘Be Enterprising’ blog below.)

As we were chatting about the book launch in the run up to it all, I could see the cogs and wheels turning in my girl’s mind.  She is now (at the age of 9) beginning to realise that she does have a special relationship with language. A wonderful mynah bird gift and a strong tendency towards taking things very literally.

So I was rather chuffed when she said; ‘Okay, I realise now that you’re not really going to fire your books off into the air for people to catch them. Like a bride at a wedding with her flowers. ‘Cause, anyway – that would be really stupid as the building is right next to the canal,’

‘Good!’ I said. ‘We call it a launch because … like a rocket or like a ship. Or a missile – we want to put it out there. Get it started off.’

‘Chocs Away!’ shrieked the 6 year old (no idea where he got that from.)

‘Yes…..’ I replied.

‘Wow!’ she continues.  ‘So, are we going to be having a load of chocolate there too?’

I gave up trying to explain more at that stage (although it did turn out that the choccy analogy was a good one as the key protagonist in ‘Mind Games and Ministers’ is a woman who is running a chocolate social enterprise Up North.) Still, my budget didnt stretch to giving out complimentary chocolate bars – but my lovely guests did get to go hyper on some very posh coffee, on the best cakes ever to tickle the tastebuds of west Yorkshire folk (courtesy of Ma Longden) and to hear me doing a reading from my book.

Incidentally, for me – the most fun bit about having had a book published is the reading aloud to the audience thing. At kiddy bedtime, my other half often tries to prevent me from reading to them (‘They’re too old! They can read now! You get all giddy and an hour later you’ve got them looking at youtube on the film version of the book!’) But I just love to read aloud to them (unless its Michael Morpurgo which my daughter has banned because ‘even you with your weird voices mum, can’t make his stuff exciting for me. Soz.’)

So the best bit about the book launch was that I got to play at bedtime story reading AND unlike kiddy-bedtime, I got to swear throughout it!  Reading - lady behind me already asleep?

What else was special about the launch?

Give me Da Moolah! (And I'll lose it.)

Give me Da Moolah! (And I’ll lose it.)

Well… my kids attended (and behaved themselves. Although you should never let a 9 year old with dyscalculia collect money from your book sales. We still don’t know where the missing tenner is.) My parents were there and worked like trojans in order to make the place look dazzling (despite rather too many of my writer friends being arty-farty types who wouldn’t know an honest day’s work if it hit them.)  Everyone enjoyed the fact that we were in the middle of a brand new Coffee Roastery. And we were right next to the Huddersfield narrow canal (coffee and canals…two of my favourite things in life.)

Audience unimpressed with strong language. They are mostly from west Yorkshire. Nuff said.

Audience unimpressed with strong language. They are mostly from west Yorkshire. Nuff said.

And I loved the fact that I got to wear my Granny’s gold charm bracelet.  My good luck nod to Gran. Would she have been proud of me? Probably not. Shouting profanities in the middle of a gathering of very well dressed and rather well to do people? Nah. She would have accused me of being ”common’ or ‘a right Miss Kek.’

That bracelet - but a less than charming gob ...

That bracelet – but a less than charming gob …

Post-launch slump?  I’d missed the copy of the newspaper which covered the launch. Jim from the Gym had asked all of his mates to see if anyone had that edition. Thankfully someone had. That evening I happened to mention this to my other half. A look of abject horror on his face. ‘Oh God. I cleaned the windows today.’   Ten minutes later the precious extract – which I had been keeping for my children as evidence that their mother wasn’t a totally useless old slapper – was brought out from the recycling bin.

So…. we have lived in this house for nearly 7 years now. And we have only ever cleaned the windows three times (and one of those times it was my dad who did it – ‘Can’t bloody stand looking through that filth any longer.’)  And on the third attempt, my husband decided to scrub the grime off the windows. Using his wife’s face.    How very Freudian.

Anyway.  See below. This is what it looked like afterwards.   Moral of the tale? A most northern lesson. ‘Don’t Get Above Yerself Too Much, Lady…’

 

A scrunched up Me and the Local MP!

A scrunched up Me and the Local MP!