I’ve made a few things since starting this blog and I notice I’ve never shown any end products. So here are two:

Firstly here is the bottling process of what I am now calling Ginger Mac the ginger wine with added measure of  single malt scotch I made in November (recipe here).

You’ll notice the semi-filled pint glass in the penultimate picture, this is what I normally do with the run off to see what the final product will be like in 3-6 months time. (If you ever try this, don’t drink it all or you’ll end up feeling rather unpleasant for a few days). This brew seems like it should be tasty in a few months, you can definitely taste the whisky… humm it might be ready for my 26th!

An important thing to do when all the wines you make are roughly the same colour is make labels! We’ve often opened a bottle thinking we knew what was inside and then spent the rest of the bottle trying to confirm our original suspicions.

Secondly, last night as I had a bottle of beer to drink (woe is me), I cracked open the pickled eggs (pun intended) I made a few weeks ago. They’ve picked up a nice brown colour on the outside and a nice vinegar-y taste.

Sorry about the poor quality image it was taken with my phone which was covered in dust having been in my “work” jeans whilst I was out gardening yesterday (more about that another day perhaps).


All good pictures taken by Kim

The Imagined Village

Yesterday afternoon we went to Holmfirth, where we saw exactly zero old men sliding down hillsides in bathtubs (if that doesn’t make sense… tough). What we did see were the ten excellent musicians who make up the band ‘The Imagined Village‘.

I first heard about the Imagined Village from the BBCs coverage of the Cambridge Folk Festival last year, then whilst I was at home with a lot of work to do and Spotify open I got hooked on their two albums. I have since purchased these, the CD artwork for both albums is very very cool! So who are these guys? They’re a modern folk band who mix traditional songs and instruments with the more diverse sounds of modern britain; with sitars, electronic drum loops, dhol drums and a theremin all appearing on stage last night.

The band was excellent, as is to be expected with at least two BBC folk award winners as members of the band, and I am not sure I’ve ever seen a band who looked to be enjoying themselves as much on stage as these guys, particularly Eliza Carthy who I don’t think stopped smiling throughout! The set was a 50/50 split between songs off their two releases and new things they have been working on for their upcoming (hopefully really soon) release.

The gig was at the Holmfirth Picturedrome which I’ve never been to a gig at before, but I think I’ll keep an eye on their flyers to see who else is coming soon as its an awesome venue. We were pretty close to the stage allowing Kim to get the awesome photos you see in this post.

Finally, and for the record, yesterday afternoon I was looking at Bouzouki on a music shop website and at which point Kim said “No more stringed instruments, please” (we have a lot cluttering up the house), but after last nights gig apparently I am allowed a Sitar! Quick where can I get one before she changes her mind!

p.s. pictures pilfered from Kim’s blog post about the gig!

Garlic and Thyme Soda Bread

Because Kim asked for it on her own blog, (here’s the request), I made soda bread yesterday afternoon. The basic reciepe comes from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cookbook but as an experiment I added thyme and roast garlic I have to say it turned out pretty tasty. The recipe is as follows:


  • 4 cloves of garlic (tops only removed)
  • 3 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 400ml live yoghurt (if it says ‘eat within 3 days’ on the back its the right stuff)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Firstly, roast the garlic in a little olive oil until they are squishy and a touch brown. Tear them into bits (watchout they’ll be hot inside). Leave the oven on at about 200°C, you’ll need it in a couple of minutes.

Then put the flour, salt, bicarb, thyme and bits of garlic in a bit bowl. Whisk through so its all mixed up and then make a well in the middle. Pour some of the yoghurt in and start mixing with a big spoon, adding more yoghurt as you go. The dough should form a big blob which slightly sticky.

Flour a work surface and tip out the dough. Now the awesome thing about soda bread is you only knead it for about a minute. Go on, you heard me knead the bread for about a minute! Make it into a rough ball and scoop up some of the flour from the surface to rub on the top.

Cut an X in the top with a bread knife and put on a slightly greased baking tray and back into that oven for 40-45mins. Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, Ding… Soda Bread… enjoy!

Cigar box guitar pt.VI (Snow Day)

As I made my half conscious stagger out of the bedroom this morning I thought “Hmm its pretty light for 6.30am” so after I remembering it was Saturday and heading back to bed I asked Kim to take a look outside. She groggily looked, confirmed there was snow, said a few choice words and also went back to bed.

Suffice to say we sacked off our normal gym/supermarket Saturday in favour of something more fun which for me meant working on my guitar:

The reason I haven’t posted anything about the cigar box build recently is due to my having to cut and file a groove into the neck for the pick-up to go, which with my limited tools and the neck being oak took some time! Graham routed out the groove for the box lid which took him no time (the few minutes it takes to walk from our house to theirs), but routers are hefty machines and I wanted to get the pick-up cut out exactly the right size to keep the neck as strong as possible.

I finally finished that the other day, so I waxed the neck this morning with some wax we had left over from waxing the doors in the house. I’ve also pinched some of Finestimaginary‘s epoxy resin to affix the brass work to the neck.

So what left for the guitar? Fret spacers, some mild soldering and getting some strings to fit… (The neck is longer than a normal guitar so this could be problematic).

Finally if anyone read this article on HipHopSideProject I also made bread today which if it turns out to be nice I’ll post the reciepe for tomorrow.

The December 17th Story…

… (or shameless self congratulations).

On the day of the JBCA Christmas Party I had my PhD viva. For those who are lucky enough not to know about these things a viva is a defence of all the work within your PhD thesis (aka the past 3 years of your life). In the UK (at least in Manchester) this usually takes the form of an interview/oral examination with two examiners (one internal academic from your home department and one external academic and expert in your field). The viva is of undefined length, basically until the examiners are satisfied they can determine a result for your work. Mine was 2.5 hours which is roughly average from what I’ve seen or heard over the past 3 years.

The final result of which was a Pass with minor corrections… meaning I had some bits to fix up then I could hand it to the Uni which I did recently and then I got this lovely letter from Uni:

Taken with instagram

As it say now all I have left to do is wait until July so I can dress up in fancy robes… I mean graduate! W00t!

Here is what my thesis looks like on the bookshelf (next to books by a much much better author).