Showing posts from 2013

Christmas Log

Well here we are on Christmas Day and I thought it would be a great idea to share my Christmas log with all of you... No...don't worry, it is not that kind of log, I could never bring myself to be so unoriginal as to utter that joke that has been done to death millions of time the world over ever since William Shatner first uttered the words "Captain's Log, Stardate xxxx.x" way back in 1966. Though a former work colleague of mine if he reads this (Hello Dave!) will chuckle, as the subject of me producing a Christmas log every year seemed to put him into hysterics. So Dave, I thought I would mention it just for you. Speaking of originality, this is the first time I have ever managed to squeeze out a log (sorry!) on Christmas Day before, and the last thing I want to do is bore you with a potted account of the day's proceedings as I am sure there will be nothing in there that you haven't done yourselves on countless past Yuletide occasions. Instead what I hav

Pigs in Blankets

I am sure it will come as no surprise to any of you who have been following my sausage story closely that my favourite bit of the Christmas dinner is "pigs in blankets". If there is anyone who does not know what pigs in blankets are, well firstly, shame on you, and secondly here is the definition: Sausages wrapped in bacon. What an amazing invention! My second favourite food of all time wrapped in my first favourite food of all time! It's hard to even begin to describe the levels of excitement this generates in me. If you can imagine finding the two most attractive people you have ever fancied in your life all wrapped up in a Christmas stocking on the end of your bed on Christmas morning and you might be somewhere near approaching it. Pigs in blankets have grown in popularity over the years and I don't recall them being as popular in my youth and certainly not as readily available as they are now. Like various other components of the Christmas dinner such as stuff

This Country

A recent review of one of my books on Amazon compared me to both Alan Partridge and Karl Pilkington. It wasn't the most flattering review I've had - it was a 3 star one, but it was in-depth and that's got to be a good thing. I think it is also good to be compared to people, and I've no problem with being compared to Alan or Karl. Unique as we would all like to believe we are, in a world of 7 billion people that is quite a challenge and most reviews you read in of books, plays, films, you name it make comparisons to others in the genre. As for the two named, well I guess Alan must have had some sort of influence on me as I've always been a big fan. I've been known to quote many a "Partridge-ism" in conversation - "This Country" being my all time favourite. My review referred to Partridge style rants in my book - I'm not sure if this was intended as a compliment or not but I've decided to take it as such. I certainly didn't intend

When mince pies go wrong.

During the month of December I tend to forego my usual croissant with my morning coffee in favour of a mince pie. The jury is still out on who makes the perfect mince pie. I suppose as a stay at home dad I ought to be making my own, but as always seems to be the case there is never enough time and shop bought ones are perfectly nice and convenient. Generally I allow my value seeking principles to guide me, in other words I buy whichever ones are on a buy one get one free offer so it can be Sainsbury's Own Label one week and Mr Kipling the next. I can't ascertain a huge amount of difference in taste, in fact my preferences are more of an aesthetic nature. I like my mince pies to have a solid lid sprinkled with sugar. I dislike those lattice style designs. Why, I have no idea but a pie should be completely encased in my humble opinion. I also don't like eating them cold. At one point my favoured mode of consumption was to have two heated up in the oven and then pour som

Mixed bag

Good morning/ afternoon/ evening (depending on what time of day you are reading this). The title of this entry is "mixed bag" which is exactly what it is - a round up of various bits and pieces that aren't enough to justify a full blog entry on their own. I'll kick off with a few town centre related items since I'll be posting this in the town centre chat page on facebook. Note to chat page readers: I don't plug all my blog entries on facebook as that would be against the rules of the page, and even as the page owner, I don't feel I have the power or right to abuse this position. It is important I portray the image of a benevolent and kind ruler, generating a peaceful and prosperous feeling among my subjects. After all, I might want to run for mayor one day. I can always turn into an evil genius and take over the world once I am established in my position of power. Right then, first stop Nando's. Now as you all know I like to be first with the excl

Dear "The Sausage Man"

My exploits with the sausage tasting have attracted considerable attention from the press. From Chat, to the Daily Star, to Pig & Poultry Marketing magazine, there's barely a publication in the land not desperate to get their hands on the story of the "The Sausage Man". So, unsurprisingly, I have started to receive a number of letters on the subject asking for various pork related advice. Due to the high volume of mail I've received, I can't possibly reply to them all due to my extremely busy lifestyle so I have decided to publish some of  them here in a sort of agony pig section. Here we go then: Dear "The Sausage Man". I read with interest the chapter in your book "Austerity Dad" where you claimed that eating a lot of bacon would increase your IQ. Since then I have been having it every day and in fact am planning to start an Open University degree in Business Studies in the Spring. Not bad for someone who left school with just one

The reluctant teetotaller

I've been thinking about my relationship with alcohol rather a lot recently. We've been through a lot together, me and the wine, the beer and the cider. And all the rest of it. Yet it seems we have progressively fallen out of love over the past few years and may finally have reached the parting of the ways. It's several days since I last had an alcoholic drink. This is not because I'm on antibiotics, have been told not to drink, any moral, religious, or financial reason. It's quite simply that I just don't like it any more. If you are someone who witnessed the booze filled antics of the Jason of decades past, you might find this extremely hard to believe, but I am afraid it is true. I don't even set foot in pubs any more, that whole culture is something that no longer appeals to me. Perhaps I just got old, or boring, or maybe I just grew up. Who knows which, all I know is it is no longer for me. So how did I get to this point? Well the easiest way is f

Stay At Home Dad

I'm delighted to be able to tell you (if you hadn't heard already) that I am now officially a newspaper columnist! My new column, "Stay At Home Dad" began in the Oxford Mail last Friday. Now as you know, I've written literally miles of material on this subject already - enough to fill two books (amongst all the unrelated ramblings) but there is never any shortage of material. Every day of being a parent brings new experiences, new challenges, and new moments of joy. Already I have had lots of positive feedback from the new column - both from those of you I know, and also from those I don't, which is really positive. Support from friends and family is fantastic but when it comes in from people you don't know, you really know that your work is being enjoyed by the wider audience. There is plenty still to be written on the subject of parenting and I'm hoping the column is set to run and run. Who knows where it might lead? For other writers out there,

Return Of The Fat Bloke

He provided the biggest laughs and the most banter of anything that happened in my fifteen years at Nielsen. And for many years, he's been missing in action. But today, thanks to my good friend and peer, Lord Marston, he has returned. And here he is: This man is responsible for some of the funniest moments of my working life. So who was this cartoon hero and where did he come from? Well we must take a trip back almost two decades to the mid 1990's. Back to a time when the internet was in its infancy, there was no googling, no photoshop, and very little for entertainment on the computers at Nielsen other than Solitaire and Minesweeper. But email had recently been installed, not yet connected to the wider world, but allowing communication around the building. This made sending things around considerably easier. Prior to that we had printed out memos with distribution lists on them, photocopied them, highlighted the names and put them in the internal mail basket. Then we

Dining at Deans

If I was a restaurant critic I could dine out every week for the rest of the year in Bicester, as the openings in the new shopping centre are coming thick and fast. Well I'm not a restaurant critic - well not yet anyway, however I feel duty bound to you my readers who have come to expect some food related anecdote in every entry to visit each new eaterie that opens in town. Even if it doesn't involve sausages! Today's venue does in fact offer sausages in a hot dog format, but I am all "sausaged out" after yesterday (see previous entry), so did not sample them today. I was at Deans Diner, an exciting new restaurant that opened yesterday in Bicester's new town centre development. Deans Diner is a small chain (this is only their fifth outlet) of restaurants that promise to help you "Live The American Dream!". Think of those old 50s style American diners of the style Marty McFly visited in Back To The Future and you'll get an idea of what to ex

Banger Bonanza!

It was a tremendously exciting day in Birmingham City Centre as the crowds excitedly gathered for the West Midlands Area cook off Final, the glittering climax to British Sausage Week 2013. I travelled up in style, on the 11:30 train from Bicester North, arriving in Birmingham to grey skies and persistent rain. I don't know what it is about that city, but every time I have been there, the weather seems to have been the same. It is as if the clouds know I am coming and gather waiting for my arrival. But there was nothing they could to to dampen my enthusiasm on this most spectacular of days. To get the old saliva flowing, I had a quick walk round inside the Bullring, an area where it seems almost every major food chain in Britain has a branch. Nandos, Burger King, McDonalds, Pret, Pizza Hut and countless others are all located within a stone's throw of each other. Bravely I walked the gauntlet between these packed food outlets, watching Birmingham's finest hungrily devour

Downton Shabby!

So, half-term is behind us and I find myself back at the keyboard raring to go with all manner of things to write about! I have a very exciting week in prospect, not least because it is the final of the British Sausage Awards on Wednesday which I am preparing for. Look out for another interview in the Oxford Mail. I have a photographer coming around at lunchtime to photograph Bicester Blogger in his natural habitat, along with of course, the now obligatory sausages! I'll just give you a quick round up of half term before we get into the meat of the blog, which isn't sausage related for a change! October half term is often a tricky one because of the weather and the kids can get cabin fever cooped up if it rains for too long. It's certainly not as easy as in the summer when they can play to their heart's content in the garden. There's something about being inside that seems to bring the monster out in them both and there's been a fair amount of rough 'n'