To the ones we’ve lost in 2017…

2017 has seen a lot of change. Normally, I’d do a review of the year, month by month, but seeing as the entire time between August and mid-December was lost to a foot problem, I don’t think there’s much point. Instead I’ll look back at some of the things that were around at the start of the year, but have now been confined to history.

First off, we’ll start off with a sad personal one of mine…

I found it too difficult to post about on here at the time, so I didn’t, but back in the summer, we lost Sam, or Samson go give him his full name. On the 19th July at the ripe old age of 18, he made his final journey “up the coast road”, to join his sister in Doggy Heaven, where she can once again try to mount him, and they can both hide rotting bits of meat under the sofa for the rest of eternity, and he can lie at the top of the stairs leading to the pearly…. dogflaps (?!), and wait for someone to trip over him in the dark. Six months have passed, and I still instinctively pause at the top of the stairs to make sure I’m not going to step on him!

BATCHELOR’S MILD CURRY SAVOURY RICE

I had intended to write a blog post addressing my dismay at the discontinuation of Mild Curry Savoury Rice, to be replaced with “Super Rice”, but I never got round to it. Although the two look very similar, to me, there was a world of difference.

I have been a fan of the Savoury Rice variety for as long as I can remember. In fact, here’s a photo of me, at Sandy Bay, demolishing a bowl of the afore-mentioned rice-based snack…

Judging by the look on my face, you can tell I was enjoying it. Or maybe I just looked that way as a kid, who knows. Anyway, this remained in the very small repertoire of foods I’d actually eat as a kid.It survived with me, throughout my teens, 20s, into my 30s. OK, there’d be times where I wouldn’t have it for months, even years, but at the back of my mind, it’d be there.

Unfortunately, it was a recipe that “Bachelors” tampered with from time to time, making a pouched “microwaveable” version, for example. These didn’t last long, and eventually went back to the dehydrated backet variety.

Fast forward a few years, and I noticed they’d changed the branding. It was now “Mild Curry Super Rice”, and instead of taking 15-20 minutes to cook, it took 5 minutes. Well, I’d be interested to see what it was like. Aaaaaaaaand, I hated it. The newly formed rice was stodgy, the flavouring stuck to the side of the pan and turned black. It was overall, a disappointing mush, and it contained the scourge of all these types of products… dried peas. Every time I see then I just have to ask why they even exist.

It turns out miracles happened, and I found a shop in the town centre that still stocked the “Savoury Rice” variety. It was still the old recipe. Longer cooking times, no dried peas. A tear of happiness rolled down my cheek. This remained the case for a good few months. Both varieties lived their separate lives.

Then, my foot happened, and I was unable to attend the town centre for a couple of months. I went to stock up, only to find… yes, you’ve guessed it… “Mild Curry Super Rice”. I fell to my knees, clutching my head. A part of me had died. A huge part of my culinary life was at an end. I hadn’t been this devastated since Birds Eye discontinued their “Boil In the Bag” curries some time in the mid 2000s.

All is not lost, however. There appears to be another change to the recipe, and dare I say, it’s “acceptable”. The rice isn’t at bad, and the flavour is adequate. If you put those two packets together though, you’ll notice the values in the health thing are different. Changed recipe, or smaller packet? I shall investigate further.

THE APPRENTICE

If, for some reason you haven’t watched it and intend to, then skip this secion as there’ll be spoilers.

Wow, what was that all about? This was by far the worst series I’ve seen it. Normally there’d be some people who you want to see do well, but no, not this year. I hated all of them. And then, that end? Both of them got the bloody money. A grand anti-climax to an utterly depressing 12 weeks of television. After this years’ disappointing show, I’d be interested to see if they completely reshuffle the way the show works, or even abandon it completely. Either way, I’m not sure I’ll bother watching.

I’d attempted to write more on this, but everything I typed just turned into a long, rambling post about nothing, so I’ll just leave with wishing you all the best for the last day of 2017, and if you have a birthday in 2018, then have a happy return.

See you in 2018!

High Force, Part III

(This was originally written for a walk that happened roughly two weeks ago…)

Wow, that was a walk and a half. I’ve lietrally, just in the last hour or so (probably more when I get this published) got back from Walk #something in the series of epic walks around the North East with Gary and one of his dogs, who will, for the rest of eternity, replace the omni-absent Jamie S. This one was particularly entertaining, as it was my first trip to High Force in several years. This time, however, it involved an 8-mile walk.

It was one of the locations originally discussed when we first started talking about doing walks. I knew there were walks around High Force itself, as in my previous trips, we could see people over the other side of the waterfall. Just like any waterfall, it has two sides. One is a very short walk though a “gate” which you have to pay £1.50 to enter, the other is free, and takes you to the other side via a bridge roughly a mile away. The only difference is one side has fences, but the other side doesn’t.

Gary had thankfully memorised whereabouts we were going, with the help of Google Maps and knew the distance was about 8-9 miles. We parked the car up in the Bowlees visitor centre, and headed off along the road roughly a mile and a half. We walked past a feild of cows while on the B6277. Rex got a bit too near, and started barking at one of the cows. Suppose you could say it was “Close Encounters of the ‘Herd’ Kind”…. Gary moooved him away quickly before he started barking at anudder one…

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I’m cracking awful puns before we even got to the steep gravel patch that leads you to the official start of the walk. The first thing that greets you is a bridge and a not-so-steep incline. At this point, you’re pretty much at the beginning of the Pennines, so from the odd patch of bright purple flowers, there’s nothing but gorse bushes and sheep for company…

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White noise is the next thing that hits you. It’s clear you’re only a few hundred metres from the biggest waterfall in the North East.. the closer you get to it, the louder it gets.

I’m not normally scared of heights, but when I reached it, I just didn’t want to go to the edge. Maybe my mind was subconsciously warning of this incident where a man tragically lost his life after falling over the edge. Maybe I just didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. Actually, I seem to recall msyelf being more concerned about Rex going close to the edge!

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We carried up the river. Natural beauty suddenly comes to an abrupt end a few hundred yards past the waterfall, as there’s a huge quarry nearby. To say it sticks out like a sore thumb is an understatement. In fact, you could say it sticks out like a quarry in an area of outstanding natural beauty… if you wanted.

After an uphill climb, we stopped for a quick break. My day was instantly brightened at the discovery of Chilli Doritos in my bag. I’d forgotten about them. Lovely.

The uphill climb was annoying, as I knew we had to cross the river again, meaning we had to go back down. At this point, the weather closed in, and it pissed down for a short time. We were, at this point, exactly half way. The walk downhill was more of a terror drop. We let Rex off the lead, and he happily ambled down the side of the hill, while me and Gary struggled down, managing to cover 100 yards in 6 minutes.

After walking past a farm, we could hear a familiar squalk. I don’t know much about wildlife, but what I do know, thanks to the Osmotherley walk, is that the squalk was coming from a pair of lapwings… Unfortunately, these particular avians had chosen to place their nesting site close to the footpath, meaning our prescense was less than welcome, especially with a dog in tow…

We crossed the bridge that led over the Tees, and started the 4-mile journey back to the car. Gary slipped while trying to avoid a cattle grid and twisted his ankle. Unfortunately, it happened again further up the road, so we needed somewhere to stop off. This abandoned building seemed the perfect place. there was a few steps so Gary could rearrange his footwear, and enough space for Rex to wander on his extended lead. I’d explored the area, and noticed a drain without its cover. As we were ready to leave, Rex started sniffing around the drain. I announced to Gary that “I wouldn’t let him drink out of there, it’s a dra*SPLOOSH*”…

Yup, before we knew it, Rex was up from his tail to his chest in what could only be described at the time as sewage. Gah. We walked the rest of the journey with a soggy doggy who’d fallen into a boggy, and at this point, fucking stunk. A footpath diversion took us down to the river where we could at least get the worst of the pollutions from the clumsy canine. Gary led him into the river while I went in and sploshed water over the dogs’ back.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t do much, as it turned out the offending liquid was oil. Gary informed me over facebook that there are now “black marks around the house and over carpets :(“, but on the plus side, Rex has suffered no ill effects from his trip down the drain. One of the reasons why I delayed the post for so long is that I wanted to make sure Rex was OK.

On the way back, we passed a field with some sheep in it. Not uncommon, considering this was technically the middle of nowhere, but there were two particular lambs in the field. Originally, I started filming one with a busted leg. I planned to film it, and add some type of caption such as “Lamb for the Chop”, “Don’t fancy that leg of Lamb”, “Rotten meat, coming to a kebab shop near you”, or something equally as ‘shan’… instead, my ears and eventually the camera turned to the cries of another ursine… poor thing, it must have had the most pathetic “baaa” I’ve ever heard in my entire life…

And so, a short distance later, we arrived back at the car. The next stop was for food. Now, I’m all for saving disk space and bandwidth, so instead of taking a new photo of where we stopped, I’ll recycle this from 2007…

Acer Image
Acer Image

Gary was apparently less than impressed, but I found them delicious. Bloody southerners, don’t know a good chip when they see one, especially when I bought them! For a good part of the journey, we were between sunlight and rain, meaning there were interesting rainbows for a good part of the journey. I supposed it balanced out the smell of sewage-soaked canine.