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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

He who dares... the eternal optimist

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Is the glass half full or half empty?

I've always been an optimist.. maybe a moaning shouting and cursing one, but an optimist none the less.   Never have I felt that "shit just happens".  It happens and it's how you react to it that makes the difference.   The sooner I make a move, the sooner the shit either stops happening, goes away altogether (however slowly) or the process of recovering from the shit that has happened gets underway and  the recovery process begins.

Last years tax bill was, well, enough to have many leaving Land of Smiles looking for well paid work in the West.  With a few mental calculations, I decided to stop drinking and open the shop for breakfast, this amount would more than cover the bill I reckoned.  Problem resolved and happy life resumed within the day... or two.  Deciding to stop drinking also lead to improvements in quality, extended the range and brought about a chance to expand in a way I could never have done on my own, from our original premises.

It's just a chance, but that is as much as I have ever needed.  Forget luck, prayers and karma, I learnt to take my chances well, as they don't come about often enough in life.  This is especially true for working class, overweight pie makers.

Forget business leaders, one of Del Boys corniest catch phrases sums it up in a nut shell.  He who dares, wins!  Whilst obviously lifted from the SAS motto "Who Dares Wins", his cheerful optimism and ability to keep going when all seems lost, is a lesson to us all.

Here's Uncle Albert doing an impression of Del Boy's famous phrase and almost copping and unfortunate one.  For my friend Linda who is studying cockney slang, Del's last sentence "about them syrups he flogged me" uses Syrup = syrup of figs = wigs.  Great hearing a South African English teacher talking slang.

Further thanks to Oscar Wilde for the following.  Great thanks actually as it was Giles Brandreth who I remember hear saying it on Countdown all those years ago!! Pseud or what?

Between the optimist & pessimist, the difference is drole. 
The optimist sees the doughnut, the pessimist the hole

Typing this blog has raised my awareness of being static for 6 years and I am starting to feel that change could be in the air... very exciting it is as well.  When that next chance comes, will I be brave enough to take it?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ditch that desk job and head for the sun.. (Get me out of here, I'm a Pieman)

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Harrogate Borough Council.. how did that happen? Part one.

Did I always have a pie shop... No, I spent lots of time in them in various parts of the world, but it was never my career.  Yes I did actually have a career in Local Government.

I spent 10 years to the day working for Harrogate Borough Council.  I had slipped in the back door really as I had been a complete drop out for the first 12 years after leaving school.  1989 saw me in a suit for the first time in my working life and I didn't think it would last...... it didn't, but I really enjoyed it for the 10 years I was there.

A serious bike accident had seen me in traction, hospital, pot leg for nearly 3 years and someone had thought to re-train me, teach me to type and put me on an IT course.  I often felt some rich tycoons were behind it for a bet. Pehaps they were training a monkey in another part of the country and matching its progress against mine.  It did feel very strange moving into this lifestyle, maybe too strange and that is perhaps why I never totally managed it.

So, before they would let me do the course I had to pass Pitman level three typing and have therefore been a touch typist since pretty much day one.  Great having me on the course, not only was I the only man on the course, I also had the longest hair as I was becoming a bit of a yetti by this time.

The beard went and the hair... bit by bit and each week they insisted on another 6 inches or so of it being removed.

All this was 1984 - 1988 just as the PC was launched.  By shear massive luck I was at the cutting edge of Computer Technology and employable!!   Even with the 12 years of diverse manual jobs, un-employment and time in hospital.  Add to this my Sole C.S.E. (2) in Maths and it is amazing I had a career at all.

I always like to say (true) that Rodney from only Fools and Horses is much better qualified than me, and his CV was more impressive as well.  This is by far and away my favourite watch... Films, TV internet anything, there is nothing I enjoy more that this.  There will be plenty of references from it!

Local Government was going through a great upheaval at this time.  They really threw off a lot of the grey staid image they had and I worked under some very innovative Managers.  Changes in Policy brought in a new Director, new younger managers and me.  I just hung on in there, recognised that changes was coming, embraced it and just clung on for the ride.

We were moved out of enormous impersonal buildings back into the hearts of the Estates and expected to get to know residents and listen.  The days of pushing buttons and sending out endless letters had just ended and we were to visit, visit visit,  talk, listen adapt.  I enjoyed it and found it much easier to talk with people than to hide in an office issuing  letters.  So I started to get more excercise.

There was also a fantastic Social scene at  the Department of Health and Housing,  we were genuinly friends, cared about each other, socialised, argued about football and, horror of horrors, drank beer.  Great times and great people.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Early Essays! - Education system fails young pieman. Or did it?

Almost the end of the first month and I appear to be 4 posts up!

I am also realising that reading bloggs is something we like to do in work time.  Looking at statistics, reads or hits go right down on Saturday and only come back up a tad on a Sunday.  Monday and Tuesday are the best days so will work around this.

Anyway, whats sparked the bet and is now surprising a few folks back home is that I have never actually written anything longer than an IOU, Sick Notes at school, (Dear Teacher, Steven was sick yesterday... signed... his dad!)  short begging letters, legal aid declarations, or facebook posts in my life.  I felt I had at least as exciting a life as anybody I had met and wanted to get some notes, (these are rough notes and I'll try to do something with them next year) down and learn what to me is new technology.

I have been googling the English Qualification I failed miserably at school.  It was based on submitting 12 essays over a 2 year period, which was obviously too much for me at the time... or too boring.  So I was Ungraded and the few marks I got would not have given me a level 4 anyway.  

GCSE GradeO Level GradeCSE Grade
Pre-1975 (numeric)Pre-1975 (alphabetic)1975 onwards
FU (ungraded)4
U (unclassified)U (ungraded)
Graph highlighting the dismal failure of the School's ability to teach me anything. (I'm bottom right box)

So what happened?

Most essays we were given were on terminally boring subjects which probably warranted, at most, a sentence along the lines of  "Why are we writing about this Shit?:"  So we had 2 years to kill and a variety of methods of dodging it. 

In the unlikely event that I could be persuaded to write anything at all, I could turn any subject given into one about motorbikes.  The one I remember was "A Country Walk"  which elicited an opening sentence by me along the lines of... "As me and Mike were walking in the countryside, we found two motorbikes in the hedge....."  There then followed high speed tales based on our love of the Isle of Man TT, which his father took us to when we were younger.

Most got sent back failed or 4 - 5 grades.. not that I was worried. I was so bad that they didn't even try to beat English into me, which again was strange considering the times and some of the nut cases we had for teachers back then.   Leads me again to Fools and Horses where their old headmaster "Bend over Benson" is sent to Broadmore criminally insane prison.   They are worried he is behind a  mysterious school reunion.

Only found one clip, but if you get chance, watch the whole episode.

And so it was, failed, was allowed to fail and we were all happy.  There were so many of us I think they were happy that we bunked off to go working on farms, working on the Grouse Moors (where I got my love of walking from) and going fishing.  Looking back we were almost angelic compared to what you read now about youngsters bunking off, doing drugs, muggings etc.  We did our fare share of fighting and low level nuisance, but never muggings, stealing etc.

Quite the polite little petty criminals we were...  Oh and we owned small motorbikes from aged 12 onwards, stashed in various places to avoid parental disapproval... but that's for another day.

Happy Sunday to my depleted followers!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bikers, the route to Thailand starts here.

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To go with my memoires, background.  I had an urge to drop out of the system at an early age and never fought it.  Just followed my heart at 15, left school, bought a bike, managed to avoid getting pulled before my 16th birthday and we were off.  Not yet looked back.

Bikers Under lying everything since I left School in 1977 are my biker mates, most of who own bikes that bigger, faster and more expensive than anything we could have imagined back in 1977.  Those first few years it was on on FS 1Es AP 50s, Gilerras,  then later 250cc Superdreams, X7's YD250's and my one bike which served me well for 2 yeas and did over 25,000 MILES... my old KH250.  We were just all loners or one or two mates for the first 3 years, biking mainly for high speed thrills....  on a Suzuki AP50!

Where it all started to get serious, was the Highland Laddie Public House in Ripon, North Yorkshire.  Back in 1980 then a few mates of mine from school turned up outside this pub one evening as I was having a beer.  We went on a night ride to a a nightspot 20 miles away where they played "our \music" and had groups on etc.   From that day on, we never looked back... we biked built bikes, repaired bikes, chopped bikes, squatted, fought, drank, raced, crashed, married, divorced, lived basically all the while in our bike group.

People came and went, we lost some great friends along the way, Fat Dave tragically and ironically in a car crash.  I notice happily with facebook that he gets his share of mentions still and in many ways he is still part of us.   We lost a few to alcohol and drugs, but none to prison or serious crime.  None of the backbone of the group anyway.

That year, we managed to get a few of us together to drive to Lands End and back.  Riotous drunking binge lasting two weeks and getting boozier as we hit Dorset (my birthplace) and Cornwall where we discovered scrupy cider.  Riding just got harder.

On the first night of the first holiday, which this was, an event happend that set the course for the next 35 years.  A horse ate the side of my tent, almost ruining it and leaving us to bodge as we went.  From then on we always slept in bus shelters, woods, bandstands, multi storey car-parks, train stations squats etc.  I'll do a chapter on them with pics later.

KH250 1980 near Plymouth

We travelled a lot all our adult lives and especially when we were young (18 - lats 20's) our weekend drinking binges we held in various parts of the UK with occasional excursions into Europe.  For some reason there was always a barn dance somewhere between Thirsk and Scarborough on a Friday night and our meeting up point was usually Helmsley or Sutton Bank.. if you are familiar.

Bizarre range of bands we saw back then, ranging from Shaq Attack, Matchbox (without the 20), Edison lighthouse, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy etc.  Then it was on to Scarborough where there was once a Punk Rock nightclub called the Taboo on Huntriss row.  Great weekends often sleeping rough or just drinking through the night.

We are all still mates to this day and I watch their bike building exploits on facebook and am happy that some of them have good businesses doing the things we loved doing.  Canal Road Motorcycles been just one of them, still very active on the scene

Regarding bikes, there was a definite split down the years, with some of us moving onto faster and sportier bikes (Streetfighters types as below)

and some moving onto Harley Davidson's and extreme custom bikes and low riders.  Still all hung out together it's just that we arrived at our destinations differently.. some looking cool and some looking thrilled and pouring out tales of missed cars and tractors, tank slappers (severe front wheel wobbles) gravel and oil patches in the road, wheelies and hitting 180MPH (allegedly) down some B road that had the bike airborne for half the ride.

How exciting that was in 1982, to be loose in Europe with all that cheap booze and few, if any, regulations.
Few pics back then as only had cheap film cameras and any spare cash we had went on drink and "enlightening" ourselves!!

I managed to date this one to 1998 as we had gone the the Isle of Man TT that year to see the return of Norton to racing.  Trevor Nation and Joey Dunlop on board from what I remember.  

Friday, January 27, 2012

David Beckham - Pie, Mash and liquor - sex on a plate

Pic from the 3am section of The Mirror found its way to me recently,  showing our David really is his own man.  Once more turning his back on that dreadful muck (nouvelle cuisine) and high end restaurants, ducking out in disguise to feast on Pie, mash and liquour.  I had heard he was a big fan and the pics have really fired up the wife and Thai staff, all of whom are absolutely football mad. I got the signs out ready in case they ever holiday up the jungle in Khao Lak!

Not far from Phuket if the lad fancies a meaty diversion from Thai food.

I found a great pie and mash shop in London ( Ham I think) when we used to do the riverboat holidays on the Thames.  It was here I had my first taste of liquor, wasn't sure about it, so tried it again.... and again and became hooked.  First glance I though perhaps is was some Southern form of mushy peas, but no, it is the special parsley sauce with secret ingredients.  Anything to do with eels is obviously not sexy, but there is something about this dish that makes us weak at the knees.

We have started making it now in Khao Lak Thailand and a few friends are chipping in with opinions on seasoning, should we use food colour, malt vinegar etc.  I have done a lot of research into it and am hoping I can replicate this with a few local ingredients and a bit of imagination.

What I also notice is that my pies are a bit on the large side to be putting two on a plate with mash and liquor, but they look so well presented with two on the plate that I am considering making a smaller version of everything.  This would allow customers to have two varieties at the same time, saving the agonising that goes on then it is obvious only one can be consumed in a sitting.

Today I have also been pouring over the statistics on this blog and am amazed just what information is available.  The vast majority of people are coming in through facebook, twitter and larger blogrolls in Thailand.  Some are finding it through google search engine, and goodle helpfully show what the visitor had originally typed in the "Google Search"  box.  Right at the bottom of the list I found these entries.

So I have hits from one guy looking for hot action in thailand and one looking to go fishing in Chonburi.  I assume that any reference to David Beckham will bring hits and combined with the word sex, we should have a few new surprised visitors to our world of pies.

Time will tell.

barm cake

and get the quality ever
fishing on chonburi
pattaya nightlife 2012
peter chiang rai
quiche pastry
thailand hot 2012
wigan kebab