Here There Be Giants…

Thursday saw the arrival of The Giants in our city (Liverpool) along with over 1.3 million visitors to see them.  Liverpool is quite a wonderland, and we have many odd and wonderful things to see here.  This is the third time The Giants have visited, alas, it will be the last.  The city was littered with the giant’s possessions, including likes of clothes drying, a dropped butter knife that sliced through a bus and a dropped fork that went through a car.  Today (Sunday) they left to go back to their home, never to return again here or any other place.  Here are just a few photos from the last few days.

Food Porn…

Today I decided to make Pumpkin & Bacon Soup, and what a triumph, so here it is for you all to enjoy.

Ingredients

Olive Oil
50g Butter
1 Onion – diced fine
150g Dry-cured bacon chopped – I used oak smoked dry cured
Small pumpkin, you will need about 800g of flesh, peeled and de-seeded.
1-litre chicken stock
100ml double cream
3 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
Maple syrup

Instructions

In a large pan heat about a tablespoon of oil with half the butter, add the onion a good pinch of salt and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add about 60g of the bacon and cook for 5 mins more.  Increase the heat, add the stock and pumpkin and season.  Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, cover with a lid and leave for about 40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft.  Depending on how big the chunks are, changes this time.  Add the cream and again, bring to the boil then remove from the heat.
Whilst the soup is cooking toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan, not too hot, and beware as they can pop and jump about.  They need to be coloured browns but don’t over toast.
Depending on what equipment you have depends on how you do this, but I used a stick blender in the pan to turn the chunky soup into a smooth silky soup.  You could put it in a liquidiser, but do it in batches as the hot soup will expand whilst in the blender and no one looks good with hot soup all over them and the kitchen.
Next, return the blended soup to the pan.  Melt the rest of the butter in another pan and cook the rest of the bacon for about 5 minutes, remove and pat dry of the butter and fats.  Re-heat the soup if needed.

Put the cooked bacon in the bottom of the soup dishes and pour the soup over.  Scatter with the toasted seeds and drizzle maple syrup over the soup, not too much as you done want a sugary soup.  Add seasoning to taste.

I toasted sourdough bread and cut it into strips to serve with the soup.  It added another layer of texture to it and is delicious.

Enjoy.

A Poem From My Past…

I wrote this many years ago about my experience of being an unwanted child.  Not by my mother, but by my father.  Needless to say, I have not seen him for well over half my life.

My Dad & I

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The words spoken by a grown man to his eight-year-old son.
A callous off the cuff remark?
No, it was a cruel and calculated remark.
His son could see in his eyes that he meant it.
Head down feeling ashamed of being a boy.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
Years of cruelty followed.
A backhander here, a punch there.
The boy’s sister was the father’s favourite.
Sweets for her, but nothing for him.
Don’t tell your mother or you’ll get a slap.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The remark embeds itself in his head.
He watches other Dads love their son.
Fatherly love was something he never knew.
Fatherly love was absent, missing, gone.
Fatherly love was wanted, envied, but always denied.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
Get to your room, get out of my sight.
His room became his sanctuary from cruel words.
He worked hard at school and passed all exams.
A report card came home at the end of each term.
No praise did his father give him, that was for the girls.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
It was time to go as the divorce papers arrived.
Many years later, he met him again.
He told him this is my son, but it wasn’t this child.
A half-brother he never knew he had.
Realisation dawned and his head dropped again.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
A lie and a truth in the same sentence.
A letter years later confirming rejection.
A hate builds up, but he realises it’s wasted.
His father missed out on so much, he knew.
I know how this ends, as I am that son.

“I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
I see him in the street, he knows not who I am.
The old man looks back but no recollection.
I smile to myself, I am the better man.
My want for my father has been and gone.
I’m strong through loss, I have coped with the pain.

‘I never wanted you, I didn’t want boys”
The time will come when you’re deep in the ground.
I may come around and speak to you then.
Tell you of cruelty made to your first son.
You’ll not answer back, and I will not hide.
I don’t want you, Dad, though I needed you before.

National Poetry Day…

So, with that I give you two fun poems…

Electric Chair
The Volts,
The Jolts,
The End.
Dog Love
I saw you in the park,
I wanted to be your friend,
So I tunnelled my nose,
Up your non-barking end.

Smoke and Water…

A review.

I read on average 40 to 60 books a year, some I enjoy, some I find mediocre, some, I park a bookmark in and put on the shelf until I feel I can “get into it”, but the one thing I need in order to get from the front cover to the last page is fluid writing, something that seems to be lacking in a lot of books, however, not with Smoke And Water, it flowed that fast I finished it in two days.

Losing things seems to be something that we all get used to. Some accept it, some change it and fight for what’s theirs.

Eike lost his family in a horrific accident that left him scared mentally, physically, and in the care of his Korean Grandparents. Quiet, shy and almost lost, he meets Damon one of the collages jocks, and things start to change. But, this is no fairy tale. As with all things, life gets in the way, along with thugs, love, heartache, homophobia, racism, add a villainous father into the mix and you get “Smoke And Water”.

Very few LGBT books hold my attention, however, it gripped me from the start. Beautifully written, this novel takes the reader on an emotional rollercoaster. Filled with believable characters throughout and situations that every gay man will identify with.

…Will love find its way through the chaos?

To find out you will have to purchase the book at Smashwords, Amazon UK, Amazon USA.

Her tail stopped wagging…

Yesterday was one of those bloody days.

Through the night Mazikeen could not settle and all in all was moping about and generally restless through the night, making funny noises and the odd whimper.  We thought, this is it, she is going to have her first season (in-heat), as some dogs react that way, but alas no.  In the morning after a shocking night of sleeplessness, I discovered that her tail was sore, and was not wagging.  My thoughts immediately went to a broken tail.

We have a 24/7 vet phone service that is part of her insurance, so I called them to see what they suggested.  They can do a video chat so you can do a version of “show and tell”, but as with all technology that is new, it did not want to work on her side.  Her first question was “has she been swimming?” which deserved an answer of “yes and no”.  We had been to the beach on Thursday and she was in and out of the water, although she was soaked from top to bottom, she had not actually swum, just jumped about in the sea running after shells I was throwing in the water.  Her suggestion was that it could be a swim tail or broken.  I quickly explained that her tail was still wagging most of the evening, and the swim tail would be out, but a broken tail was possible.  Harper is twice the weight of Mazikeen, and they do love to play rough, but usually, this means Mazikeen dominating Harper and jumping on her, but I could not recall any rough arsing about.  She suggested getting her to the vets to get her tail x-rayed.

I called the vets at 8am and got an appointment later that morning.  The vet felt about her tail and found two places he thought it may be broken, and took her in for x-rays and examinations.  She had the first of the anaesthetic injections whilst I was there, and then I had to go so they could do their thing.  Just after 12 I was called and told to come and collect her after 1:30 and the vet would chat to me about his prognosis.  Duly at that time, I went to get her, and like the morning appointment, waited about for ages.  Eventually, I was called into one of the rooms with a nurse who explained that she had not broken it, so that was good news, but she had badly sprained it and that she needed some rest for the next few days, no rough playing and anti-inflammatories for the next 14 days which had a little painkiller in them to take the edge off for her.  

Today, her tail is wagging, not as fast as usual, and she is a little slow on her feet, but she is in good spirit.  So quite an expensive day for a sprain, however, our dogs are our kids, so we do not mind spending money on them, especially health, which I seem to go overboard with.

A little bit wet and dirty