Category Archives: Tooty Stuff

Tooty the Chef’s Pork and Apple Half-Pie

If, like Tooty the Chef you are unfortunate enough to have propane as your principal heating medium when cooking, and suffer the subsequent burning of the underside of your pie, do what the great gastronome does when making his: only make the top half.

On this occaision Tooty elected to make a pork and apple pie. Naturally he doesn’t have the first idea how other people make pork and apple pies: like the culinery maverick he is, he just does it HIS way. So he mixed some minced pork with an annihialated onion and a couple of tomatoes of dubious age in a bowl, to which he added a very generous sprinkling of oregano, parsely, thyme, and another of those vaguely green leafy spices that he can’t remember the name of.  Then, squashing it flat in a see-through cooking thing, he laid slices of apple on top – like so…

On top of this he laid a sheet of short crust pastry – making sure to bolster the edges – to hold in would-be escapee juices. Then he sprinkled it with a splodge of milk – swirling it about to give a reasonably even covering…

It aint prettty, but who cares – this isn’t the Savoy. Thirty-five minutes later, the proud chef displays his work for all to see…

But, because of his excitement, the picture appeared slightly blurred – so a close-up was called for…

Unfortunately the  dingbat photographer placed the pie in his own shadow. And, oh bum – some of those darned juices escaped, after all of Tooty’s efforts to restrain it! But never mind; I’m sure it must have happened to Egon Ronay at least twice.

Then it was a simple matter of chucking it on a plate with some boiled cabbage and steamed snap peas with baby corn on the cob and gravy, et voila…

Next time he’s considering a drizzle of teriyaki sauce on top of the apple, But, yes, it was very edible – verging on lustrous.

 

Spend, Spend, Spend – Cripes Not Again!

Actually it’s not the Back-Lane Behemoth this time: it’s the little Cabo that’s having TLC lavished upon it. Unhappy with the total lack of luggage space, I searched the Internet for a rear carrier. It took hours to locate one in the UK, and it appeared to be the last one available. So, paying through the nose, I puchased it. I also bought a base plate for a top box from my local accessories store too. In total it came to £160 – for a bloody bike rack – but at least the postage was free – and I always enjoy a little drive out in my ‘classic’ Toyota (to collect the base plate) anyway. So, after discovering that some minor manufacturing changes had been made to the 2022 version of the  Fantic Caballero, which meant poking about through several boxes and buckets of nuts and bolts in my shed, I finally wrestled the flipping things into place…

I think it finishes off the slightly droopy back end nicely. Better still, it means that I can now simply unclip the topbox from the Yamaha, and slip it on the Fantic…

Now that’s extremely practical and a significant financial saving over a second top box. I may be a silly old Tooty; but I’m not entirely stupid. Next up, a small screen to stop the wind blast making my ageing shoulders complain. Watch this space.

Scissors, Needle, Thread.

In an earlier post, titled Fashion For Fogeys 2, I told the fascinating tale of how I dyed some trousers bright yellow. Gosh, what fun it was. But looking back upon it, I couldn’t help but notice that (since retirement, and the subsequent reduction in physical activity) I’ve lost some meat on my thighs and arse – as seen in this pleasantly demure Tooty the Chef shot…

Well the resulting loss of bio mass means that I look less than a million dollars in my yellow Marks and Spencers trousers. This is unacceptable; so I thought the time was ripe to engage the imagination and put them to an alternative use. Naturally it took next to no time to formulate a plan. Note the blue, padded motorcycling jeans I’m wearing in this shot of me aboard the Back-Lane Behemoth…

They’re bloody awful. They’re badly made; too long in the leg (even for me); and too short in the torso. They make no provision at all for the existence of testicles. At best they are uncomfortable. More often they make my bollocks ache and ruin the ride. As they stand, the blue jeans are surplus to requirements, and have been stuffed into the bottom of my bedside ‘biker’s’ trunk for some while. But, thought I, what if I could remove the padded areas and insert them into the vastly more photogenic (and more observable in traffic) yellow trousers?  No sooner had the question been raised, when I was quickly delving into my late wife’s sewing kit. Shortly the blue jeans had been reduced thus…

Thereafter – many – many – hours later, and with fingers and thumbs aching to hitherto unimaginable levels of agony, the interior of the blue jeans had been transferred to the yellow trousers – from the knees up to the buttock area…

In a moment of inspired brilliance, I decided to leave the complete arse area of the blue jeans in place, so that now my dainty botty is protected from an initial impact with the road by two layers of jeans material, two sets of pockets, and the abrasion-resistant material of the original blue jeans liner. And the knees and hips get the pockets that are designed to hold soft armour. I didn’t have any yellow thread, and I can’t sew a decent stitch to save my life: so my handiwork can’t stand close scrutiny…

…but who is going to notice as I go whipping past upon my mighty steed?  Moreover, I no longer need to wear reflective vests and the suchlike, because I already appear as dazzling as the morning sun…

What a groove!

Where is the Back-Lane Behemoth?

Understandably, when people learn that I have obtained this…

…they assume that I swapped in the Back-Lane Behemoth as part exchange for something lighter, more manageable, and better suited to the predominantly rural type of riding I do. I mean, why would a retired gent, such as I, require one motorcycle – let alone two? But they would assume wrong – on both counts. One: why wouldn’t a retired gent want two – utterly disparate, chalk and cheese – motorcycles? Two: Nah, look, there it is…

After all, why would I want to deny myself this?

Nature Wallpaper: Remnant of Summer

The drought of 2022 in the UK effected the natural world in several ways – all of them negatively. But when a cold snap followed it’s watery ending, and subsequent seasonal temperatures soared shortly afterwards, the natural world was thrown out of kilter. For some plants, it appeared that summer had returned. For others the period called winter was skipped, and they went straight to Spring again. All very colourful for those who took the time to look. Who knows what will become of the Primroses etc when winter finally arrives – not to mention dumb-ass hedgehogs. It probably won’t go well for them. Here ‘s a shot of high-summer Clover in Autumn, which was lovely to see amongst all the dry brown hedgerow foliage and fresh green shoots emerging from the desiccated grasses at the field’s edge…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Reason…

…why progress on the next Earplug Adventure has stalled.

I must admit that (after getting off to a flying start on the follow-up to Climatic Calamity) recent work on the next, still-unnamed photo-story has been conspicuous by it’s near absence. Okay, a few shots of a hastily constructed set – the Star Chamber – sit quiescent upon my computer awaiting processing…

…but most of my time has been spent studying video after video – in many different languages – that all centre upon a single subject. I don’t mind admitting it, but I have become fixated. Everything else has taken a back seat. Then, on Monday  the 17th of October I drove from Portsmouth to Shoreham-by-Sea, where I visited a delightful waterfront motorcycle dealer, by the name of Spark Motorcycles, and conducted a test ride of their demonstration vehicle. Today, a week and a day later, they kindly delivered  a similar model in the back of a van. And here it is…

 

My first spanking, brand new, motorcycle since my Yamaha RD400 in 1979! Er, what is it, you ask? It’s a Fantic Caballero 500 Scrambler, that’s what it is. A cult machine in it’s homeland of Italy.  Now visit You Tube and punch in that name. You’ll see why I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT. There’s nothing else like it.

Photography: Esoteric Questions Answered

Everyday fans write in and ask esoteric questions of Tooty the Chef. On this occasion, Miss Boo-Boo Balonck, of Wiltshire Terrace, Twisted Wanger, Glamorgan inquired whether it would be best to photograph some apples she’d found at the side of the road, (which she had lain gently in her kitchen window to fester for several days) at nine o’clock in the morning, or at five past seven in the evening. Well, ever eager to assist Boo-Boo’s photographic efforts, Tooty the Chef conducted the necessary experiment. Here is the result…

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t help thinking that natural daylight is the clear winner here. Tooty suggests that Miss Balonck also consider mid-afternoon, when the sun will be in a completely different position. Half past two would be nice – as would the substitution of conference pears or some good, old-fashioned British plums in place of wind-blown apples.

Has ‘Helping the Hedgehog’ Helped?

Well if the following picture is to be believed, someone has clearly moved into the Hedgehog Over-Wintering House at the bottom of my garden. Look, they’ve planted a nice flower outside the porch…

But since no one responded to a polite knock, I thought it best to spy on them – by installing a night-vision camera, I’m sorry to say, t’was not a spiky critter that emerged into the darkness; but one of these…

Oh, well, at least the property isn’t laying vacant. Some smart little rodent has spotted the potential. There, I told you hedgehogs were dumb-asses!

 

Helping The Hedgehog

When I was a young man. I would often dismount from my motorcycle to aid a hedgehog across the rural road down which I was returning home, before he or she got himself or herself flattened by nocturnal traffic. In those days Britain was awash with the little spiky critters. But, as the decades passed, car numbers increased, hedgehog territories reduced, and with predator numbers increasing, it meant that times were difficult for Erinaceus Europaeus. In fact, it was a full eight years after I moved back into the country, before I saw one – and then only the once. Then, during the drought of 2022, I heard my dogs going bananas in the back garden. Upon investigation I discovered a rather pissed-off ball of spikes blinking in the light of my torch. Naturally I chased the dogs off and gave it a slice of ham. My garden then became part of the hedgehog’s territory, and it returned every night from then on. A while later, whilst channel surfing, I chanced upon a small segment on a local news program concerning the less-than-common hedgehog. Because of their decreasing numbers, the ‘Expert’ was imploring people to help them by supplying water during dry times (doing that already, thank you) and building overwintering habitats for their resident animal. “Ah-ha,” cried I, “time to get the tool box out: it’s ‘project’ time!”

Two days later…

How could ‘my’ hedgehog not give this more than a passing glance?

Inside, beyond the porch, and behind the hay, there is a vestibule –  an inner wall to deflect the winter winds. Beyond that is the hibernation chamber, which comprises three layers of insulation – wood, corrugated plastic, and finally waterproof roofing felt – all kept from the wet or frozen ground by a metal frame, and topped with a plastic roof made from the floor of a dog cage. How can it resist? But if it does – coz they are kinda dumb-asses – I’m confident the mice, voles, or whatever will find a cozy home there.

Making the Earplug Adventures: Inspired by Toothpaste

When I bought a particularly expensive  tube of toothpaste, some while back, it was done – not for the quality of the contents – but for the inspirational shape of the tube. I could see, in an instant, as it resided silently upon the supermarket shelf, a new vessel for my collection of futuristic Earplug Adventure props. The result – once I’d added some miscellaneous vacuum cleaner parts that I found in the garden shed: painted with correction fluid; then reversed the negative, to make it appear dark – was the life-boat from Climatic Calamity…

Well, after that tale was complete, I didn’t really want to put the model aside: it had too much potential. So I stuck my thinking cap on my bonce and got a bit creative. In what form would the next Earplug Adventure manifest itself, I asked.  Who would the central characters be? Well there was a throw-away name mentioned in Climatic Calamity that was too good to miss. Ardent reader, Jayne noticed it. Bubbles Gloor. But who might Bubbles be? What was her reason to visit the Museum of Future Technology? Then it came to me: to steal the specs of the vessel that belonged to the strange triangular alien, Peggy. And why might Bubbles require those specs? Because she is an industrial spy who works for the Punting-Modesty Munitions Company of Lemon Stone – oft mentioned in the stories, and builders of military vehicles such as Valentine Earplug’s XL5 Facepuncher…

So I set to work adding a few more plastic bits from my parts bin; painting it vermilion and matt black; and making it look a whole bunch more ‘dangerous’…

…and The Prowler was born. I then created a couple of images that included it…

…like this flypast of Lemon Stone. And this shot of two prowlers in  high orbit above a brown planet…

But it wasn’t until I made this shot…

…that I had the idea for the next tale. Bubbles (and a so-far unnamed co-lead character) will fly the Prowler to a place that hasn’t been visited since Volume Two of Worstworld

That is a heck of a long time. It’ll be good to revisit the doomed planet. Will it still harbour life? Might the blue star that threatens it finally have done its evil work? Well we’ll see, won’t we? And it’s all thanks to a tube of toothpaste – the name of which eludes me. Funny how one thing leads to another.

Tooty the Chef and the Sweet Pork Thingamabobs

Tooty the Chef quite enjoys making chicken goujons. He’s not demonstratively adept at them, but they taste quite pleasant, even though they tend to bind together in  one huge roasted lump that needs separating with a jackhammer. Well, on this particular day the wonder-cook  discovered that he lacked a vital ingredient for chicken goujons: chicken. So he selected a pack of chilled pork instead…

Pork goujons, I guess. Naturally he sliced off the (already trimmed) nasty fatty bits. You know how he feels about them. Almost as bad as a dose of the clap…

So far, so good. Slicing them into chicken goujon-like strips couldn’t have been easier – what with him  using only the best pork available. i.e it didn’t come from Asda…

It was upon completion of this most important phase in the procedure that he discovered that he was sans / sin another necessary ingredient.

Does this guy ever plan his meals? No – he wings every one of them, obviously.

This time it was the binding agent for the breadcrumbs. He’d used the last of his eggs on the most recent batch of Tooty’s Tapas Cakes! What to do? Stand back – genius at work…

From the Exotic Foodstuffs cupboard, he selected some cinnamon flavoured honey from…you guessed it…Spain! This went in the pan for a quick melting action…

Then, with the heat off, the pork thingamabobs joined the honey, and were sloshed about until liberally coated…

After that it was a simple task to dig out the remains of his Waitrose breadcrumbs, and mix up a bunch of spices…

…blending them together with a deft flick of an experienced wrist…

…before tipping the last of the freezer’s oven chips on to a roasting tray and coating them with some Patatas Bravas mix…

Once the chips were ready to enter the oven, Tooty coated the pork with the breadcrumbs by simply mixing them together…

…then spreading them on a  roasting tray and shoving them in the oven with the chips, which went on the slightly cooler (less volcanic) upper shelf. This, nearly a half hour later, resulted in much the same manner as his chicken goujons…

…a dry lump of unrecognisable yumminess. But that was no problem for Tooty the Chef: he simply added some moisture – in the shape of a tin of baked beans. Isn’t that what all great chefs do?

Tooty’s Tapas Cakes – New and Improved

The first bunch of tapas cakes were fine, but they weren’t so scrummy that Tooty the Chef found that the cake tin had suspiciously emptied itself whilst his back was turned. Obviously, for such a gifted wielder of the ladle and other kitchen paraphernalia, this simply wasn’t good enough. So he set himself to the task again…

This time he substituted the soft brown sugar with white sugar and artificial sucrose.

The sugar / egg combo was then beaten for twice as long. Then after adding the cake mix…

…he beat that for twice as long too. Tooty doesn’t do things in half measures, you know! Now any regular cook would have been content to carry on as before; but not Tooty the Chef. No, he peeled, chopped. and stewed two apples (that he found laying at the side of the road in a shopping bag), and added them to the mix…

The result, after careful and attentive baking, looked precisely like this…

And after he’d done his top and tailing with the fondant icing between the layers, the result appeared rather more visually pleasing that the original effort…

Better still, they disappeared with alarming alacrity. Definitely a success – even by Tooty the Chef’s bullshit standards!

 

 

The Christmas Chainsaw Massacre

For uncounted eons my wife and I would bake and decorate a cake for Christmas. The cake was always nice because she baked it. The decoration was always humorously terrible because I was the major contributor. In her final couple of years she gave up the baking, so we bought a cake instead, which we decorated in the usual manner – that being ineptly. It always caused a giggle, and we always gave it a title too. Whilst browsing through the quadrillion-or-so photos on my computer I chanced upon this one. From 2016: a rather macabre Christmas cake. The Christmas Chainsaw Massacre. I’ve not seen Santa in the same light since.

Does it make a nice Christmas wallpaper though? I’d like to think so.

Cyber-Soylent Green

I’m sure, when the I.T staff member responsible for placing these obsolete monitors out for collection by a recycling company did so…

…he or she didn’t notice the scene’s similarity to the 1970’s film, Soylent Green. In an over-populated world, the elderly were required to willfully submit themselves to euthanasia, eventually to be repurposed as biscuits or varying hues for the hungry masses. It was called Soylent, and the remains of Edward G Robinson’s character was designated Soylent Green, which didn’t please Charlton Heston one little bit! If you have a silly imagination like me, this is a rather sad photo. Look at them: they’re not complaining or trying to escape. They just wait there to be collected before being torn asunder and reduced to their constituent parts. Or is just me?

P.S This was taken a few years ago. Since then the entire building has been repurposed. Nothing in the picture has survived. It is now part of a housing estate. And that really is sad because it never needed to happen. Just a very bad decision made at board level caused it. It still rankles with me: I loved the place.

Nature Wallpaper: Weeks Into the Drought

The fields near where I live suffered during the Summer of 2022. They also made a pleasant, if slightly abnormal wallpaper…

Here’s how it might appear on your computer…

And just to show you the lengths I’m willing to go to in order to serve up these wonders of nature – regard what a loop of vicious bramble did to me as I went about my country business, snapping nice pictures to share with all…

My ankle was like that all the way around. I hate bastard brambles!

Tooty’s Tapas Cakes

Tooty the Chef has endured the presence of a Spanish ‘Bizcocho’ cake mix in his cupboard for several years. His late wife bought it in a branch of Mercadona  yonks ago, but failed to use it because her propane oven was guaranteed to burn the bottom of the resulting cake. Although, by the time he decided to throw caution to the wind and risk a horrible burning smell permeating the structure of his modern cottage, buried deep within (or actually at the very edge of) the South Downs National Park,  the mix was two years out-of-date, he bravely ‘went for it’. As expected the base was burnt and the cake failed to rise. No result. The second attempt, though, was a work of genius – naturally. Tooty mixed up the goo, added eggs and all that other stuff, then (instead of pouring it into a baking tin) he pulled eight tapas bowls from the kitchen cupboard and baked it in them…

They even popped out of the tapas bowls in one piece – and not even slightly burnt!

“Not too bad,” I hear you gasp in wonderment. But he wasn’t finished there. He then proceeded to coat the bases of four cakes with Membrillo…

He quickly followed with a heavy smearing of caramel fondant…

Then it was a simple matter of slapping the naked four cakes on top to form a kind of sponge thing…

Okay, they were a bit chewy, but they tasted nice, despite the fact that he didn’t have any sugar in the house – except a half-tub of soft brown sugar that was (at the least) five years out-of-date. So, all in all, when all things are considered, another triumph for Tooty the Chef!

 

Gallic Style Wallpapers

Interior automotive design of the early 1960s…

Almost art deco, don’t you think?

But then look at the exterior design…

Could that be anything but French in origin? I don’t think so. Check out the wraparound windshield. It’s a Simca Aronde by the way. Would I like one? Silly question. Now which testicle am I willing to sacrifice?

Climatic Calamity (part 1): An Earplug Adventure

I’ve been rather busy of late – producing shots for yet another Earplug Adventure, this time called Climatic Calamity. Many of the pictures for the early part of the story have been challenging. When you see them you’ll probably understand why. It’s certainly not like the early stories. Flipping heck they were basic – and  are still available to read by clicking right HERE. But before you let your curiosity take control, please read this first instalment…er…first…

Earplug Adventures: Climatic Calamity

By Tooty Nolan

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

Prologue

Erronious Bosche and Hellfire McWilliams were hardly the stuff that heroes are made of. Certainly, the day that the governor of Sloshed Antlers Penitentiary awarded them early release from a long prison term for habitual burgling…

… no one imagined that they would ever find themselves regular work and a propensity for honesty. Indeed, following that release, several years previous, they had gone straight to the nearest town and fell in with the local crime organisation…

Actually they did more than simply join it: they took control of it – until the concerted efforts of the law system forced them to abandon the city and move to the Museum of Future Technology. It was whilst inside that vast and wondrous emporium of technological artefacts from the future that they encountered the famous Earplug Brothers, and assisted the return from dimensional limbo, of the museum’s greatest hero, Magnuss Earplug…

Flushed with the resulting endorphins of a good deed well done, they settled into a more honest way of life. Eventually they became winners of a lottery that awarded them a ride upon the star ship K T Woo. It was during a difficult period aboard ship, when a vastly superior alien craft threatened to destroy the vessel, that the former thieves discovered a penchant for entertaining others. In a desperate effort to persuade the aliens that earplugs were simply too good to destroy, a desperate show was staged. Amongst the many acts that hoped to save the ship and everyone aboard, Erronius and Hellfire delighted the audience by repeatedly picking Captain Sinclair Brooche’s pockets in a most humorous way…

Grateful to have survived, and upon their return to Earth, the ex-burglars moved away from the Museum of Future Technology, to buy a parcel of land in the shadow of the mountain top citadel of Lemon Stone and become mountain pea farmers…

…where they enjoyed their own company, the fresh air, tilling the meagre soil, digging drainage trenches for the toilet, and frequenting the automated Café Puke outlet…

This is the story of how two recidivist burglars reacted to a terrible climatic disaster from outer space.

Chapter 1

For many years the Museum of Future Technology had managed perfectly well without the trade benefits of interstellar commerce, but since the discovery of the haulage (and cheap) capacity of Robotic Submarine Space Freighters, the cybernetic wonders had been plying the new trade routes to Earth on a regular basis…

…in their dozens. One ship, in particular, was well known by the inhabitants of the museum. It had been the vessel aboard which three teenaged girls – Bunty Bridgewater, Ginger Slack, and Daisy Woodnut…

…had been abducted (along with the entire crew of robots) by a bunch of conniving Incense Cones. Following their victory over the aforementioned bunch of conniving Incense Cones, the girls had returned the ship to its captain and crew. They had also named it…

The Drunkard’s Vomit had recently launched from a submarine ocean beneath the frozen surface of a gas giant’s moon in the Finklestein region of the Galaxy. It’s hold contained many differing items of all shapes and sizes, from multifarious worlds and strange civilisations: but only one of them was of any interest to anyone inside the Museum of Future Technology. It was a consignment of Gas Giant Moon Fish from the very moon from which the Drunkard’s Vomit had only recently lifted. Mister Pong was very keen to try them on the menu of the second branch of his Exotic Food Restaurant, located in the neighbouring city of Ciudad De Droxford, which had recently been rebuilt following the event best known as The Attack of the Crutons

Aboard the bulbous black vessel, a subordinate robot was reporting to its captain…

“Sir,” the huge green robot said in a boring monotone through a cheap plastic speaker grill, “Astrogation reports that if we wish to maintain our schedule, the Drunkard’s Vomit will need to enter a previously unexplored star system. Sensors report that the region appears sub-atomically unstable. We won’t know what to expect there. They say it might get very bumpy, or something entirely different. Something, so different, that it might be beyond our cybernetic powers of understanding. Thought you ought to know, Sir.”

After months and billions of kilometres of interstellar travel since the day that its ship was returned to it, the captain still wasn’t entirely comfortable with the vessel’s nomenclature. “Can the…urr…Drunkard’s Vomit take a battering?” It inquired. “It has been due for a refit ever since that nasty incident with the Incense Cones.”

“Unknown, Sir.” The subordinate bridge officer replied. “You’ll have to suck it and see.”

Schedules were very important to logical mechanical life-forms. The Captain made a snap decision. “Keep to the schedule.” It said affirmatively. “Proceed through this…um…wonky space.”

Two minutes later, the boundaries of the uncharted region of space had been breached for the first time…

“Nice colourisation.” A member of Astrogation opined. “Not that I’m an expert or anything. Nevertheless I feel vulnerable: the sooner we traverse this region, the happier I will be.”

The unnamed member of Astrogation had good reason for concern. Approximately half way through the traverse, an undetected anomaly approached the ship. Unseen it closed upon an open wim-wom valve cover and secreted itself into the shadows there…

The robot that had been given the task of replacing the robot named Tong-Tong as catering assistant in the totally unused Café Puke canteen had been standing at a porthole when the anomaly approached and docked with the Drunkard’s Vomit. Unfortunately it had seen nothing. It was too busy regarding its appearance, reflected in the porthole glass…

“I look just like Tong-Tong.” It complained. “Why couldn’t I have kept my old green look? I was one of the guys like that. And this stupid hat: it hides my glowing brain. If I was an irrational creature of flesh and bone, I would throw the bloody thing out of the window. Or maybe shove it down the only lavatory!”

© Paul Trevor Nolan 2022

P.S Many years ago, my late wife badgered me to write a story with a title she had invented. It was Attack of the Crutons. Well, in Surprise Visit I finally got to write it – but I couldn’t use her title because it would have signposted where the story was going. There would be no mystery. But, if you look at the picture that features Mr Pong in his Ciudad de Droxford restaurant (in this extract) you’ll notice the title ‘The Attack of Crutons’ mentioned. Somewhat  belatedly I can finally say; mission accomplished.

Tooty the Chef Turns Up Trumps!

Tooty the Chef fancies himself as a tad internationalist. He particularly enjoys knocking up meals that might (possibly) have originated in the kitchen of a Spanish gastronomic emporium. In keeping with his enthusiasm for most things Iberian, he purchased himself some reasonably priced Andalucian cheese…

“Perfecto!” He said as he judged the weight of the two wedges in his dainty hand. But he was considerably less enamoured with the situation when, having opened the fridge door in search of some membrillo to accompany the cheese, he found it conspicuous by it’s absence…

But upon visiting his local Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, and (begrudgingly) Sainsbury, he further discovered that none of them now sell the quince-based paste he so desired.

“Arse!” he bellowed like a rutting stag; and so set to work searching the Internet…

Initially he thought he had met with success; but the prices – and the high postage costs – made him pause to consider giving up and making do with strawberry jam. Fortunately he persisted, and eventually chanced upon a pack that appeared better value than those seen previously. Including postage, the membrillo cost £15. He pressed the ‘buy’ button. Twenty-four hours-or-so later…

…a surprisingly large package arrived at his door. And when he opened it, he discovered that he had bought genuine Spanish membrillo in a light-weight wooden box with a sliding lid – a la expensive vino…

Moreover, having eased the block of goo from the box, he was delighted to discover that he had purchased a 1.5Kg catering pack…

…that would likely last him until the wheel of time ground to a halt. £15 well spent, methinks. So, with a glut of his favourite nibbles to hand, he spent the evening gorging himself on an exaultation of yum…

So, if you happen to be passing by the ‘original’ Cafe Puke, drop in for a bite; there’ll be plenty to go around.

 

I Like a Bit of Domination…

…just as long as it’s of the Yamaha kind.

Watching the 2022 German Motocross Grand Prix on TV, I was delighted when the three factory Yamaha riders finished 1-2-3. So delighted, in fact, that I snapped this picture of my Samsung Smart TV…

A few weeks later they did it again at the Grand prix of Finland. Better still, Yamaha mounted riders also finished fourth and fifth! Now why would anyone consider buying another brand? If you didn’t know already, I’ve been a fan since my first Yamaha in 1976!

A Top Tip From Tooty the Chef: Cooking When Drought Starts to Bite

It’s a furnace outside. The garden has withered. The lawn is brown – especially where the dogs piss. The ceiling fan is spinning like a demented loony. You’re hot and very bothered. Even the water from the cold tap feels warm. And you have to prepare THIS for dinner…

Desperate times demand drastic action. Cue the answer from Tooty the Chef. When heat and flies make your kitchen seem like an absolute hell-hole – stay cool and strike back by exposing your own!

 

The Set: The Scene 6

Here’s another brief compilation of pictures that begin with a photo of a set, followed by a scene that was shot there, as seen in an Earplug Adventure. Obviously only extremely keen Earpluggers are going to recognise a scene, merely by looking at the set; but I’m certain that it won’t be utter tedium for those who can’t. And, who knows, you might surprise yourself.

First up, I’ve included (what was probably) the first ‘set’ that wasn’t really a set at all, but which got my imagination firing like a single cylinder four-stroke motorcycle of approximately 125cc. In this case it was some broken sheets of plasterboard (rock wall) that were awaiting disposal…

Look at the jagged edge of the torn cardboard. Such an interesting effect. What might that become? Well, in the case of the story Martian Interlude Part 2, it appeared as the rocky, wind-blown sea shore visited by Benjamin Booger and Plopper O’Hooligan…

Look at the grey-green waves and white spume crash against the haze-obscured rocks. Tell me it doesn’t look that way: go on. You can’t, can you!

Anyway, next up…

Interestingly shaped, cardboard cut-outs. They appear, over and over, as doorways in otherwise featureless ‘walls’. It took me an age to find this particular example in my library; but dedication to my art paid off, and I found this scene…

…which appears to be the front door of the apartment in which the siblings, Gray-Vee and Cray-Zee live. Or at least they did in the alternative reality story Evil Empire. It appeared at least once more…

…as a random doorway in Cometh the Earplug.

Sadly the next set / prop was left behind when I was forced out of my fabulous ‘studio’ when the company that owned it decided that building houses was more profitable that retaining an ancient, crumbling 1960’s architectural icon – the short-term-thinking shits. Anyway, enough of my gripes: it’s a pile of rock salt and the reflective interior of a streetlight…

The stuff that dreams are made of. In this case my dreams showed me this…

I know you recognise this: it’s the Future Museum of Mars. This time appearing – rather rain-soaked – in Haunted Mars. But the real beauty of this set is – it has an interior too! Here is the same reflector from Martian Interlude Part 1

…and again in Liberation Part 2

Here I’ve thrown in a temporary set. It appeared in a single tale, but made a cameo appearance in Surprise Visit...

Anyone? It’s the secret subterranean lair of the alien workforce that watch over the fledgling civilisation of Scroton. Here it is in The Masters of Scroton

Okay, that was a tricky one. I wouldn’t expect anyone to get that right. But what about this pair of singed plastic insulation panels and a screwed-up sheet of blue plastic…

Surely some interesting topography there. I had trouble finding any shots that clearly showed these sets as you see them here. Eventually I discovered this scene where shell-shocked scientists stagger about their ruined world in Distant land

Destruction is on the cards again in this composite I made that is supposed to be a missile in flight above the ice sheet in Haunted Mars Part 2

But I stuck at my task, and finally found this defining shot. It comes from The Epoch of Dung

Look at that: you can even see the sheet of blue plastic through the burn hole. A lake, perhaps? There is no ‘perhaps’ about it. I’m a great believer in realism: that’s why I populate my stories with earplugs!

 

Spend Spend Spend – What Some More – Again?

It’s been a while since I lasted reported upon my Back Lane Behemoth…

Of late there seemed to be a indefinable ‘something’ wrong with it. It just didn’t feel quite so smooth and effortless as normal. Something mysterious amiss. Cue Andy – of Earle Brothers Motorcycles (of Warnford, Hampshire) to knock at my door and ask to see the bike. Well it didn’t take long for him to diagnose a knackered final transmission and book the Yamaha in for repairs. That, in itself, would be expensive enough, but sadly your favourite literary and gastronomic genius made the fiscal situation considerably worse when the time came to transfer funds from his account to that of Earle Brothers. My machine was waiting to be returned to me – looking all refreshed and wonderful…

…when suddenly, as I was in the middle of an on-line bank transfer, Windows decided to update. This meant that the system slowed to a crawl – eventually stopping all together mid-transfer. Now my Toshiba laptop – the one I create my Earplug Adventures on – has been known to drive me to distraction before: but this time it over-stepped the mark. It was late in the day: the bike was loaded in the van: the shop was on the phone- wanting to know where the payment was: and my poxy laptop had decided to go on vacation. I couldn’t even use another computer because I was already logged on. Something had to change. I saw only one recourse open to me. I needed to do to this computer what I’ve done to every other computer I’ve owned. It was time for the Toshiba to die! In a split second it was dashed to the floor. As you can probably imagine, laptops and concrete floors are not a match made in heaven….

But at least it logged me off the Internet banking site, and I was able to complete the transaction in the nick of time on another computer. As a result of my impetuosity, it became necessary for me to spend a further £450 (on top of the bike repair) on a new laptop…

But at least I managed to get a fifty pound discount on the new HP, so it wasn’t all bad. But that’s a total of three quarters of a grand up in smoke. It’s expensive – having a temper like mine. I wonder how long this laptop will last.

Tooty the Chef’s Quick Tip: Sell-By Date Due

You’ve noticed that a packet of sauce in your cupboard is in danger of becoming obsolete overnight: whatta ya do? If you’re anything like Tooty the Chef, you’ll smile with eagerness…

…coz that means you can use up that freezer-burnt fish in the bottom drawer, and those floppy veggies in the fridge…

In this case Il Maestro placed some equally ancient American long grain rice in the  rice cooker…

…and steamed the rest  on top.  Then, following the customary ‘ding’ from the rice cooker to indicate that it had done it’s thing, it was simply a case of mixing up the fish sauce with milk; boiling it stupid; then pouring it over the rice / veggies / fish combo. The result? Well the result was so good that it got eaten before the camera came out of the bag!

PS If you don’t have a rice cooker – get one!

Tooty the Chef Wallpaper: Armario Rústico

Not all that a chef requires to produce culinery masterpeices perhaps, but my rustic cupboard is a good place to start…

From left to right. Top row: flaked rice, lemon peel powder, chopped figs, couscous, italian mixed herbs, black chocolate. Bottom row: brown basmati rice, dried onion, egg noodles, brandy, pasta, white basmati rice (twice).

P.S the brandy is for medicinal purposes – making cafe cortado!

Flip Me Over and Transport Me to Spain!

Anyone who frequents the excellent road system of Spain will immediately recognise this as one of those light industrial / retail areas that are found on the outskirts of most medium-sized Spanish towns…

Only they’d be completely wrong. Having taken a wrong turning in the sweltering summer-sun-drenched English coastal city of Portsmouth, I thought I’d shifted into another reality in which I still lived in Spain. Only the fact that I was driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road brought me to my senses. This is how it actually looked…

Yes, I flipped the picture. Boo, I really love driving in Spain: I feel so relaxed there!

Making Art Out of Doo-Dahs and Thingamabobs: The Cafe Puke

The Cafe Puke has been mentioned many times during the saga that is the Earplug Adventures. Sometimes, during a tale, we might catch a glimpse of the interior of that most reviled emporium of the coffee bean, but never have we really been INSIDE an average Cafe Puke franchised outlet. Well that situation has been put to rights; and it all happened because I didn’t take enough shopping bags to Sainsburys. I shall explain. Quickly realising that I wouldn’t be able to pack all my goods into the solitary bag that nestled daintily in the bottom of my trolley, I took the display box in which the yoghurts I wanted  lay. The cashier didn’t mind, so a half-hour later this sat upon the kitchen table, which doubles as my writing desk…

Immediately I saw the possibilties. Ideas began fermenting in my aging brain. Quite a while later, and following lots of trips to the attic and shed, this was the result…

Want to look inside? Go ahead…

Look, it even has an air conditioning unit! Obviously that is why – when word got around the earplug world – it became populated very quickly..

Why, isn’t that Nigel, the King of Scroton, ordering for his wife Beatrix, Magnuss, and Hair-Trigger? Hob-nobbing or what? It can’t be the coffee that draws them in: it must be the decor!

And the late opening hours…

 

Nature Wallpaper: Sharing

Before I share my ‘Sharing’ wallpaper with you, please allow me to share the following image with you…

I suffer for my art, you know. Despite the fields and paths of rural England appearing benificent, don’t be fooled. For all the waving grasses and spirited swathes of clover, there are always brambles laying in wait amongst them for unwary picture-snappers like me. Bastards.

So, anyway, on to the subject of this post. I put this picture up on my Flickr page. In the first 36 hours it received about a hundred hits and a couple of ‘faves’.  Then, whilst I slept blissfuly, trying to ignore my itching shins, the picture went ape-shit. By the time I posted this version of the picture here, the original had already gained over 3700 hits and a hundred ‘faves’. Someone likes it. I hope you do. It is quite nice…

 

Tooty the Chef and the United Nations Trifle

Coloured blancmange was becoming increasingly difficult to find in the highstreet shops of the dear old U.K. Sick to death of yellow custard in his trifles, Tooty the Chef embarked upon a mission to find an alternative, by shopping in lesser emporiums that featured ‘stuff’ from all over the planet. Stuff such as this…

Mango jelly and pandan custard. Yellow and green. Pakistani and Thai. Perfect. When he informed Number One Son, Number One Son responded with:

“Make it now! Make it now!

But there was a problem: no canned fruit in the house. How could the hatted one have become so lax? But fear not; there were a couple of apples in the crisper…

From France and South Africa respectively. Oh, how international. So, without further ado, he set to boiling them down a bit. Once cooled, he added the mango jelly and some UK sourced sponge fingers, and placed it into the fridge…

Sadly the pandan custard, although arriving in a large satchet, created very little green custard. Just enough, barely, to cover the apple/jelly/ sponge fingers combo…

“Shit, arse, and bollocks!” the great chef was heard to utter beneath his breath and from behind his greying beard. This called for emergency action. And what action it was. He found this in the back of the wall cupboard…

Crema Catalana – from Spain! It was out-of-date, but he didn’t let that small fact worry him. “They have to put dates on stuff,” he assured anyone within hearing range, “they have to by law. It doesn’t mean anything – unless it’s chicken, of course.” Moments later…

…it was blubbing nicely on the stove. But when added to the trifle…

…still came up short. Why are these portions so darned small? So, once more he delved into the larder – discovering, in the process…

…a satchet of butterscotch flavoured Angel Delight. Not, perhaps the obvious topping for a trifle; but the Dream Topping that he swore lived behind the Waitrose breadcrumbs and Sainsbury’s boil-in-the-bag Basmati rice, had fled the scene. The result…

The surface of a planetoid from an Earplug Adventure. But when dished up…

…it was. to quote the formerly-mentioned Number One Son, “The best yet.”

Tooty Triumphs once again!