Monday, December 18, 2006

Trees Company

It helps that here in West Berks we have Xmas tree plantations like other places have Tescos, but that has helped me bag a brand new experience: I have just felled my very own Xmas tree. Now this is like food miles but for other living things - well it was living right up to the point where the saw finally cut through the trunk.

Admittedly this wasn't the most strenous piece of lumberjackery, but its the action that counts and we got the freshest tree that we have ever had all from in our own back-yard. And before you ask we didn't just stroll into some unattended field at the dead of night; this was strictly legit and real hard earned cash changed hands between myself and the plantation owner. At least that's who I assumed he was...

Anyway the place was packed with like minded souls, and after only a few minutes searching out the right specimen and rather more minutes cursing as I struggled to get purchase on the slender trunk, in amongst the branches, it was down, paid for and being ferried back to Rod K mansions. After a big drink in the garage overnight: for the tree not me you understand, it was standing in pride of place in the living room, and the younger members of the family were decorating it in time-honoured fashion.

If only we could locally source all of our needs - a project for 2007, perhaps.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Router Nightmare finally over...

My home system has been plagued by a set of self inflicted configuration problems, which has resulted in not being able to post reliably to this blog or to read my favourite stories on other peoples'. I don't think I should beat myself up too much though, as the incorrect settings were applied using information from my errant ISP's own support pages.

If you need something doing, it is better to trust your own judgement and do a bit of digging under the covers in the murky world of router set-up. Needless to say I seem to have restored my home networking to happy harmony and service will be resumed shortly.

After that, tackling global warming or world peace should seem like a walk in the park.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Market Warfare

If you want to get really local food then you need to discover your nearest Farmers' Market, which is what we did last Sunday. If it's the first Sunday in the month then that's when you'll find the newly transformed Market Place in Newbury alive with foodies searching out tempting treats from West Berkshire and around. Thames Valley Farmer's Markets criteria are simple: if you produce your food in West Berks or up to 30 miles around then you're a candidate.

With the range on offer, it seems to make sense to make a quick pass around all the stalls to see what takes your fancy before launching in and buying, but impatient shoppers like ourselves can only wait so long. So, we use a sort of two pronged attack. Food that is outrageously high on the 'buy me' scale is shown no mercy on the outward sortie, followed by more thoughtful purchases on the return journey, when anything passed over is picked off with a marksman's aim. Reconnaissance missions always pay off in terms of intelligence gathering, which is rapidly deployed to the theatre of operations, or shopping street as we like to call it. This kind of stall to stall operation demands no special clothing, just a keen eye for delicious produce at a range of less than thirty paces.

Prisoners taken this week, included Focaccia, which is the staple of any hastily gathered battlefield lunch; a very sweet and caramelised Red Onion chutney from Gillys, which complemented the quiches (lorraine and a sun-dried tomato, brocolli and pine-nut) from Samantha Alexander, followed by wonderfully sticky chocolate fudge and mincemeat shortbread pieces from Crumbles all washed down by a drop of our local brew, the wonderfully hoppy but light enough for lunch, 'Good Old Boy' from the West Berks Brewery. The latter was a real find, since I had been seeking out a product that was truly representative of the best that West Berks can offer, and this was it, brewed behind Mike Robinson's Pot Kiln, reviewed elsewhere on this blog, and sold here in the centre of Newbury on a chill winter's morning.

All of this action though has the potential to empty your magazine, or wallet, so make sure that you get plenty of readies in before setting off.