Archive for November, 2011


No, not for the damned rooster… Saw my neighbour last night in the botequim (local bar) and joked with him about the rooster finding its way across his grill (yesterday’s post), he assured me not; a fact that I was assured of this morning albeit at a more reasonable hour. Apparently, it doesn’t like the rain, so I pray for rainy mornings and no cock-a-doodle-doos.

Yesterday afternoon my student (who is on holiday for two weeks) met me in the botequim to correct his homework, he brought along his guitar. I knew that he played one, determined through questions in class, but had no idea how well.

During the course of demonstrating his skills, he played O Trem das 7 horas (The Seven O’clock Train). Now this just happens to be one of my favourite pieces of Brazilian music. Originally performed by Raúl Seixas, Zê Ramalho’s version is better, at least imho. So I get to bore you with it

Nostalgic, because it is about the passing of an era. The arrival of the last steam train from the country. Here are the lyrics. Yes, I know, Portuguese, but I have added a translation to each line)

The album cover

Ói, ói o trem, vem surgindo de trás das montanhas azuis, olha o trem (Hey, hey the train, surging from behind the Blue Mountains)
Ói, ói o trem, vem trazendo de longe as cinzas do velho éon (Hey, hey the train, comes bringing from far the ashes of the past)

Ói, já é vem, fumegando, apitando, chamando os que sabem do trem (Hey, it’s here, smoking, whistling, calling those who know the train)
Ói, é o trem, não precisa passagem nem mesmo bagagem no trem (Hey, it’s the train, you don’t need tickets nor baggage on the train)

Quem vai chorar, quem vai sorrir? (Who cries, who smiles)
Quem vai ficar, quem vai partir? (Who stays, who goes)
Pois o trem está chegando, tá chegando na estação (Because the train is arriving, it’s arriving at the station)
É o trem das sete horas, é o último do sertão, do sertão (It’s the seven o’clock train, the last one from the back country)

That’s the gist of it.

Pure nostalgia, especially for those of us who remember the glory of steam and the sadness of its passing.

No Cock-a-Doodle Anything

But I was awake, ready.

Nothing, the damned rooster disappointed me. I wondered whether my neighbour had taken my idea seriously and had grilled chicken. It was raining, maybe the damned bird doesn’t cock-a-doodle-do in the rain.

It reminded me of a joke from high school… What’s the difference between a rooster and a prostitute?

One goes cock-a-doodle-doo, and the other goes any-cock’ll-do… Yes, we told those jokes in high school; it was funny back then. You had to be there.

There’s another one ——–>

Proof that Mondays have a cog loose. I arrived at work at the appointed hour, checked my diary and discovered that I had moved the lesson to Wednesday and had two hours for my next, left a note on the board.

So I went home.

Not only did Monday ‘Fail!’ but Saturday and Sunday weren’t so good either.

Saturday morning I decided that I should have that traditional British stalwart, marmalade, on toast to go with my coffee.I love marmalade and it’s so rare to find it in Brazil, and when you do, it’s expensive.

Now, I was blogging at the time. Lesson learned long ago, blogging and cooking aren’t good bed companions. But, I’m a man, do I learn? LOL not on your life.

Slabs of Charcoal

The result was that I had two slabs of charcoal. Now, I thought, what can I use two slabs of charcoal for. Surprisingly, I didn’t have any immediate use for two fresh slabs of charcoal, and in hindsight, I couldn’t ever remembered having needed two slabs of charcoal before.

But then I didn’t waste them. On to the compost heap. Now most people would throw them in the trash, that would be a waste. Read my Monday Moan if you want a story on compost and my free tomatoes.

The week didn’t end there. Sunday I made a fresh thermos of coffee, wonderful black Brazilian coffee. I am usually pretty good at making coffee; the recipe is simple and hard to fail.

I failed!

I had made crap coffee, I’ve done it before, rarely, but even a chef can manage occasionally. Sometimes I really surpass myself. I don’t know what I did, probably miscounted the spoonfuls of coffee, four instead of five. But did I throw it out? No way, throw away a whole days coffee ration just because it’s crap. I’m drinking a cup now…  the last one.

Even if I had done this in the restaurant, it wouldn’t have been suitable for diners, the staff would have got it. Waste not, want not. Oh, they would have bitched, but I would simply remind them that it was free, if they want good coffee go out front and pay for it.

Trials and tribulations.




Yes, every morning it’s “Cock-a-Doodle-Flamin’-Doo” and thoughts of grilled chicken are uppermost in my mind.



Had a quickie for lunch yesterday.

No! NOT that sort of quickie! Sheeesh!

Pork cubes in Tomato Sauce (NOT ketchup!)

Any Old Plonk will do

Here’s how… Fry off pork cubes, healthy squeeze of garlic sauce, double healthy squeeze of soy sauce, pinch of black pepper, salt to taste, chopped tomatoes (fresh from garden), generous double pinch of chopped parsley, one small jar of tomato extract, one small box of cream. stir, serve, eat. 15 minutes in the making. If you want to get fancy serve on spaghetti or rice. If you want to get really fancy, open a bottle of plonk – red or white who cares when you dine alone.

Today’s lunch, leftovers…

Fresh bottle of plonk.

Watch for an update, you may get lucky…

Rugby, Racing & BEER

My native New Zealand has always been known as a beer drinking stronghold. although from the 1980s I saw wine begin to make inroads. Rugby, Racing & Beer was like a catch phrase for NZ.

Men drank beer, women (and those batting for the other team) drank lager.

The principal beers were DB (Dominion Breweries), and Lion, although there were others like Leopard and Steinlager which were mainly exported. A self respecting Kiwi wouldn’t be caught drinking such poncy stuff. Then of course you had the Scots contingent down in Dunedin that had their own Speights and the Waikato had something strange too.

Shock, horror; I have just been browsing NZ beer and what I remember has all but gone.

Twenty years and it’s gone.

One more nail in the coffin, proof that I am well on the downside of the proverbial hill and gathering spead. This DB label adorned many a bottle that passed through my appreciative hands, I found on an auction site; it was auctioned off in August this year.

Now they have stuff like Moa… never heard of it. The last I knew was that it was a big extinct chicken.

Moa Blanc (fancy wheat beer), Moa Pale Ale as well as Original. Mind you I can see the marketing ploy there; after a few drinks you shout, “More!” and the way we Kiwis have butchered our mother tongue, it would sound like, “Moa!” so that’s what you’d get. Crafty bastards.

Now they have so many different beers, there’s this stuff called ‘craft beer’, which comes from craft breweries, not overly sure what that is, but I’ll find out on Wikipedia, apparently craft beer is the product from a micro brewery.

So the Kiwi world has been taken over by ‘craft beers’ which I read as ‘higher priced’.

Craft Beers

I just read that New Zealand now has about 50 breweries, so there’s a lot of ‘craft beer’ out there. And the ‘craft beers’ are referred to as ‘Premium’; did I not say higher priced?

I just had another shock. Last year traditional ‘uncrafted’ beer was $12 a bottle (750ml), at least in May 2010. No wonder I became an ex-pat, I’m grizzling because my beer, Brahma (Brazilian beer), recently went from R$3 to R$3.50 (US$1.75) a bottle (600ml – pint+/-); I will grizzle no more.

Produced at Wigram, a suburb of my hometown, Christchurch

This post was actually prompted by a post on Mal’s Blog about New Zealand Beer, I made a few comments and got to thinking. This is how blogging goes, you live, look, google and learn.

There’s a good concise history of the first New Zealand beer here. Worth a click.

So it appears that New Zealand beers have come of age. I am astounded. I knew that the NZ govt had (mistakenly) closed Wigram air force base, but had no idea that the name lived on in my drink of choice.

So there you have it, some memoirs of a beer drinking Kiwi who has been away from home for twenty years.

When a day off is NOT

Dog Tired

I used to have Fridays off and then a nice weekend, but then things changed; and now I feel like this all week (check photo). It’s terrible, and has affected my blogging.

I am a little worried, one of my lower front teeth has been wiggly for a while, I’ve seen the dentist about it, but the cost of implanting it again is prohibitive. The last two weeks it has become more wiggly, I am afraid that it’s done for and I am waiting for the inevitable.

I hope the tooth-fairy makes it worthwhile. I mean six pence 55 years ago, plus accruing interest, then there has to be a pension benefit and moral damages…

Who am I trying to kid, some idiot?

(Ah, that was a rhetorical question, no need to answer)

After the heavy rain early on Tuesday morning, we have been promised rain daily, but last night on the forecast, it’s been delayed until Saturday. I think the weather is a government plot, designed to test our sanity.

Computers and laptops are cheap again. Why do they do this just before pay day? The offers all expire before I have the money. Mind you, this pay day, I wouldn’t have the money to spare anyway. It’s going to be a grim month.

Damned Red Rooster

My neighbour got a chicken about a month back. This chicken decided that my compost heap has heaps of juicy grubs to eat and comes in several times a day to scratch my compost heap all over the yard and savour the morsels. It escapes his place and gets in under my gate. This morning he decided to tell me that he’s discovered that he is a rooster and at 5:30am was cock-a-doodle-fuckin-doodling about it for a bout a half hour.

At about 5:45am I was seriously thinking about grilled chicken.

It’s getting time to go to work…

There goes my day off.


This Blogging Thing

Yes, I have been MIA again.

Ignore the title this isn’t going to be one of those meaningful posts about the art of blogging; in fact I just don’t get any ‘art’ anymore. I really have to do something about that… get my artist’s shit together.

I miss being creative. I guess I am creative here in some ways, but a paintbrush & oils, or clay & muddy hands, have that hands-on feeling. And you get to see the results even when there’s a power cut.

Was worried about that this morning 2:30am and Rio decided to have a tropical rain storm, it was a doozy. Lasted about an hour and a bit. I have a thin metal carport roof right outside my window, there was no way I was going to get back to sleep during that noise.

One of my students sent me a video clip this morning.

Luckily the pilot wasn’t seriously  hurt. Apparently installing Christmas lights on the Auckland water front.

My immediate thought was a saying of an airforce buddy, who was both a fixed wing and rotary instructor. “To fly is heavenly; to hover, dive.” Apparently, not always.

Okay, we’ve had a lot of rain. It held off for the weekend, with a sunny Saturday and Sunday, yesterday was stifflingly hot, appearing much hotter than the 33⁰C recorded, with strong gusty winds that brought the weather change late in the afternoon.

Foolishly, I went to work yesterday after only two cups of coffee, by the end of the day, 7:30pm, my tummy was rumbling, so I treated my self to an all-you-can-eat sushi dinner. I waddled home like a pregnant duck. I always do that… Then comes the thirst after the wasabi, its a bit like the dry horrors after a night on the booze; and the need for Alka Seltzer.

On with the blogging.


Milk, yuck!

Half Pint Cream Bottle

When I was a kid millions of years ago (1950s) we used to get a cream bottle of milk 300ml or a half pint) every day. It was okay in the winter, but in the summer it was yucky and tepid, vomitingly tepid; some kids did actually chunder. Do you understand the concept of a chain reaction?

The milk was delivered to the school during the pre-dawn milk round, kids started school at 9am which meant the milk had like more than four hours without refrigeration because we used to get it about 10am playtime (recess).

The scheme was instigated in 1937 and ended in 1967.

I read today on BBC News: “The government (British) has pledged to continue to provide free milk to all under-fives in the UK despite ordering a review of the scheme.”

The Brits still have it.

The milk we used to get was full cream milk, you had to shake the bottle to mix the layer of cream, yes, you could see it. Thick rich yellow cream on the top of the milk.

Cream Separator

But today’s processing removes a lot of the butterfat. The modern stuff (whole milk) boasts only 3% Fat; like they are doing you a favour. Milk with 3% Fat is not whole milk. Whole milk should contain 3.5% – 5.3% butterfat.

I remember milking time, most of the milk went in the milk churn, some of the milk went into the separator to recover the cream, what was left was skim milk and skim milk went to the pigs, it was pig food (it still does, but the fat rich ones who need to lose weight).

Once milk has been through the separator it only has about 0.05% butterfat left, making it next to useless, except for the pigs. If you didn’t have pigs it went down the drain.

But today the industry has ‘Low Fat’ milk, etc; with varying degrees of butterfat and the corporations sell it at the same price as whole milk. They are ripping you off wholesale. Because they get the profit from the cream or butter, and they double their profit by selling pig food to people.

This has long been a beef for me. One because I hate the taste (or lack of it) in low fat milk; and, two, I object to be being taken for a fool.

The milk we used to get was pasteurised, that is it was heated to 68 degrees to kill the bacteria and cooled again.  Today the milk is homogenised which means the butterfat is broken down to remain evenly mixed with the milk.

Milk today is not milk

The milk we get today in plastic bottles and cartons is not milk, be it organic or not, it is a white tasteless liquid that defies the definition of milk.

It is so far removed from being milk that users of the product description ‘milk’ should be prosecuted for making a false claim. But, of course, we know that will never happen.

Three years ago I lived in a semi-rural area and used to send the kids up to the ‘corale‘ (milking shed) each day to get a 2lt (3+ pints) bottle of milk straight from the cow. It was wonderful, it was like being transported back to my childhood; it made coffee all the more wicked for drinking. And, you’ve (younger generation) have never had cornflakes that tasted so yummy.

In the US (and, I suspect, in many other parts of the world) it is illegal for the farmers to sell their milk directly to the public. Not because it’s ‘unhealthy’, but because you’ll realise that you are being cheated and stop buying their product in favour of the real McCoy.

But, nobody cares. Nobody bleats about the fact that you’re being lied to and ripped off. You all just accept what the corporations dish out to you. This is why I support Occupy Wall Street, because it’s all about the little things that are being forced on us as well as the major financial crunches.

It all makes me wonder why the Brits want to keep the tradition of school milk.

Last week it rained twice…

First for three days, then for four days.

Yes, last week it rained a lot. Today it is supposed to let up and come back tomorrow. So I am making hay while the sun shines.

Last night I read a mates blog. I haven’t got over that way for a bit and I see that he has a post about his beloved Australia and my own equally adored New Zealand. I think it was in response to my previous post Things. Tempo told some stories that would of course be quite true if Australia replaced New Zealand and New Zealand replaced Australia in most of the texts; all except the one about Wiremu and his testicular removal.

But he’s right, we are neighbours and we do sling off at each other something chronic, but when you find a Kiwi and an Ozzie overseas amongst the thousands of tourists, you’d think they were Siamese twins because they’re always together. Our rivalry is only equaled by our respect… I think.

It doesn’t matter whether they do us at cricket, or we stomp the stuffing out of them on the rugby paddock, we will still tell the same jokes about each other, they are crude rude and sometimes downright nasty, they sling off at our sheep and we sling off at theirs, we’ve got the Maoris and they’ve got the Aborigines; they’ve got this huge stone in their yard and a poncy Opera house in Sydney, and we’ve got Mt Cook and…. well, we’ve got Mt Cook. Oh, yeah and some mud puddles. So there are good and bad points on both sides of the creek (that’s what we both call the Tasman Sea). It’s true that Australians don’t speak English, they speak Strine, but then we don’t say New Zealand, but rather Newzild

“Newzilders and Strines, sharing proud isolation at the tail of the South Pacific, have been blood brothers in two world wars. In peacetime they keep busy sniping at each other – and mangling their mother tongue. For decades each nation has fiercely upheld its own dialect, despising the other’s version. But now the battle is out in the open. First the Strines stepped over the line by circulating Let Stalk Strine on the wrong side of the Tasman…”

That blurb said it better than me. We retaliated.

But when meeting each other and others of our ilk we both say “Gidday, air gun?” which loosely translated into BBC English would be something like, “Good morning (afternoon, evening), how are you?” The Strines have this national dish called ‘feesh ‘n cheeps’ whereas in Newzild we have the same dish called ‘fush ‘n chups.’ So we are both irrevocably and intricantly involved with butchering our mother tongue, English.

And we both fight ad nauseum over who invented the Pavlova. Which isn’t even a contest because the earliest writing of the “pav” is in a NZ cookbook from the 1920’s whereas it didn’t appear in Australian literature until 1940; which could be explained by the fact that Australian literature only appeared about then too.

Things like bungy jumping were also a New Zealand first. The Australians were first at… ah… um, something.

Newzilders see Strya a bit like this:

And so it goes…

You’ll get two today… hopefully. One before I go to bed and one after I have been.



This was purloined from: Adorabibble. It was worth purloining.


Cold Coffee

Coffee is essential to blogging, but not conducive to good blogging, or indeed, good coffee.

Blog Fuel

You see while waiting for the liquor to filter through one tends to run off and blog a bit forgetting that the filter needs to be refilled. When one finally remembers and races off to the kitchen at a fast hobble to refill the filter… the process repeats until you have a thermos flask full of cold coffee. Which all makes me wonder why I use a thermos flask at all; life is indeed a labyrinth which needs to be navigated carefully.

After four days of rain, the clouds have begun to lift. We actually had a bout five minutes of genuine sunshine.

I heard the rattle of a ladder earlier. That sent me scurrying (at a faster hobble) to the gate. Sure enough it was Light, the power company, that sent shivers up my spine. You see I am in permanent fear of Light because although my power account is up to date, the account is not registered in my name, and I fear that they will cut off the supply. Now it would be an easy solution to put the account in my name, if I had the appropriate documentation… I don’t. So I live in perpetual fear, the sound of a ladder rattling up the power poles around my house reduces me to a blathering mess.

I hope you liked my story yesterday. My old blog “Life is Just Like that…” had many such tales, unfortunately through the bloody google the lot is gone and lost forever. So I have to set about rewriting much.

Got work later, 2pm, won’t be back until 8pm.  So I’d better get a wriggle on.

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