An unexpected turn around of fortunes (for me anyhow) already means that 2008 is looking good.
Next years blog will feature more bird related posts with the odd pie thrown in for good measure. No more bleating about how hard done to I am etc etc . Thanks to all my friends who've helped me through a very tough 6 months your all great. And as the saying goes what goes around comes around.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
A stop at the Toab shop produced a surprise Chicken and White Sauce Pie. Surprise? Due to the time of year there appears to be a bit of a pie famine at present. Hopefully this situation will change towards the end of the week when I hope to get my hands on one of those highly rated Macaroni Pies by Friday.
With the heavy rain in mind we stopped at Vatsetter and scanned from the road. After a few minutes the Wigeon flock flushed and landed on the water, where the American Wigeon was easily picked out. The light was very poor now so we headed home via the Pieless Mainland Stores.
Some more pics from yesterday:
The evening took a turn for the worse when said local challenged Rob to wear a rather camp woolly hat hanging behind the bar. To cut a long story short Rob lost the bet to the tune of £29 - which he later blamed me for as I had eaten one.
So after leaving the house at 5am I arrived at Birmingham Airport around 6.30. The Aberdeen flight was slightly delayed as the plane had to fill up with Oxygen - surely it would be easier just to open a window! Due to being completely knackered I managed to fall asleep before take off and wake up just as we were landing. Because of the late departure I was unable to jump onto the earlier 9.30 Sumburgh bound plane, so a 3 hour wait at Aberdeen would be necessary. After mooching around this small airport I sat down and read the paper (I don't expect anyone to be still reading this crap by the way). After some 30 minutes an announcement for a Mr Mark Reeder to return to the security desk was made. Shit! I had visions of some dodgy looking security card looking into my case whilst snapping on the rubber gloves and applying a liberal amount of KY jelly on to the finger ends (if I was lucky)!!! Fortunately, depending how you look at it, this was not the case. I had infact dropped my boarding card in the duty free shop whilst purchasing a single malt for Rob. Boarding card back in a safe place I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back down and happy that that was still possible!
The Shetland flight was slightly bizarre in that the plane taxied on to the runway and then turned round and drove back to the terminal to pick up an engineer for a sick plane at Sumburgh. A responsible use of several gallons of aviation fuel Loganair, particularly as the engineer wasn't even there.
Anyhow I got to Shetland at 2pm and promptly cracked my head on the boot of Rob's car something I do once each time I come up here. With the stuff in the car and a dint in my forehead we set off to get some diesel (£1.20 a litre). The pies at Mainlands looked distinctly pre Christmas made and to be honest the Lasagne Pie, I bought was very poor. There was just enough daylight to have a quick visit to Loch of Hillwell. The Redhead Smew (probably the one that was present during my October visit) was still there and a Jackdaw on the fence, both Shetland ticks.
Followers of Rob's blog will be delighted to know that there is indeed green stuff in his fridge and it's not mould. He even has a cookery book!!
As it got dark we had a wander down the road to look at the roosting Jackdaws, apparently the biggest flock ever on Shetland whoopee doo. It started to sleet/snow so we popped back and opened the whisky.
WIN A DENBY DALE PIE WORTH £25
I've nicked this out of a local magazine for local people.
Answer this question: How many blackbirds (though strictly speaking it should be black birds) were baked in a pie?
Answers emailed to email@example.com
Like I suspected not a fat lot, Desert White Arse, Scarborough and a Dusky Wobbler, Notts.
The decorating is going well and I anticipate moving in after my Shetland foray which is now only thirteen days away.
However yesterday was good with a rather heavy drinking session (by my standards anyway) commencing at 3:30pm. By 10pm and following seven or so pints of Pedigree I was very pissed and craving the obligatory doner kebab. Actually I had been craving one all day but being pissed just seemed a perfect excuse. Apparently we got a taxi back to Kerrie and Tim's but I really can't remember that. I also can't remember Kerrie ordering kebabs but she must have as three arrived instantly or at least by the time they had woken me up, after taking photos of me in a drunken coma - bastards.
The rest of the day was spent looking at paint charts and burning off the weeks excess in the gym. On returning home I checked the messages on my phone only to discover that a terrible act of suppression had taken place. I remember in our drunken state the previous evening that Leigh and John said they had a surprise for me for breakfast. It turns out it was a home made breakfast pie containing bacon, sausage, black pudding and beans. I'd forgotten they had a surprise for me and probably couldn't have eaten a thing as I was still full from the Indian. I must apologise to Leigh who slaved making the pie whilst missing the omnibus edition of the Jeremy Kyle show. I am assured by John that it was delicious and award it the full 12.
Highlight of the last couple of nights was an evening with birding mates involving beer and a monster Chinese. Nothing else of note except I'm feeling happier than I have done for years.
Today is Drunk Birders piss up eve. By tradition this should involve consuming too much beer, eating hi fat foods followed by some birding in a semi drunken state. However as it is easy to wander around on Shetland half cut and go birding, we might have a problem creating the effect. That is unless we wander around Birstall looking in peoples gardens and climbing fences - hmm I wonder.
Quote of the day: Female contestant on Deal or no Deal "I have never had a big one in my box" narrrrrrrr
An evening out socialising and getting dunk on a Monday night - not clever.
Anyway it pissed it down today so being the weekend parent, that I now am, Beth and I went swimming. After swimming it was raining even harder so we went into Sheffield for a bit of culture.
The Art of Willard Wigan
This is an exhibition of microscopic art that is totally mind blowing (even though I'm not into art per say). Basically it's microscopic sculptors within the eyes of needles or on pin heads. As I had the Samsung NV3 about me I took the opportunity to do a spot of impromptu digiscoping. If you get the chance to go then go.
Christmas fancy dress party 2007 was a big let down.
Firstly I have a photo of a Fish pie made by Helen. This could be a serious contender for one of Kerrie's pies, though until I am back on Shetland to sample one (hint hint) we will not know.
The second pie of the week was a hand made Pork Pie from the Proper Pasty Company. It was quite nice although a little salty and would, had it not spent the afternoon repeating on me, have earned a decent 8/10. Instead I can only give it 4.
Final pie of the week was a stunning pair from Laura, Steak and Mushroom from the Denby Dale Pie Company. This was a quality pie (even when microwaved) in every way and scored the maximum 12 points. These pies are available from Waitrose and Sainsbury's and cost about three quid.
Weather's too crap to go birding so here's a picture from earlier in the year. Taken in the garden at my parents house. This is a real mean bugger that has a fondness for Collared Doves.
My weekend just got better I have been invited on a long weekend to Islay in late February by some very nice people :)
A diet of pies never hurt me
At last some bird action. Duncan Bye rang me at 1pm to tell me there was a Little Auk on Ulley Res' (made nationally famous by its dam wall threatening to burst during the great flood). Fortunately my ever supportive and part-time birding boss, John, offered to take me for it. Unfortunately on arriving by the bridge it became obvious that the little bugger had buggered off or been eaten by a Pike of which Ulley has plenty. On returning Mr Norman, who met up with us at Ulley, showed me a rather nice looking meat and tattie pie, from Morrison's, that he had been suppressing. This is the second time that Mr Norman has failed to A. provide me with a score and B. Not fetched me one (I think he's jealous that Kerrie is my main supplier).
A quick winge at the useless TW_TS at Rotherham Council who managed to thieve £70 out of my bank account. Despite me cancelling their direct debit the incompetent devious gits managed to set up another DD without my permission!!
Birthday wishes to the lovely Kerrie today. Happie Birthday.
A pretty uneventful day. Following a couple of emails from Helen I was asked the question Rabbit or Donkey. This had nothing to do with my sexual prowess which at the moment is non existent, but stemmed from a conversation about the dangling of carrots. Anyway after a great deal of consideration I came up with the following:
Hmm Rabbit or Donkey? Both have their advantages. Rabbits are always bonking and Donkeys are renowned for apparently being well endowed hence the phrase hung like a donkey! However they equally have their downsides too. Donkeys are stupid and smell and Rabbits like staring at car headlights (which is also stupid). So given the choice it’s a tricky one. It’s no good being a well endowed donkey if you stink of shit and are too stupid to know what to do with said appendage. I think I’ll opt for a rabbit, short lifespan but what a life providing you keep away from the headlights. Hold on a minute don’t rabbits eat their own shit? Oh well I suppose I could live with that after all that bonking
Also is it me or is this pastry derived rabbit (made by Helen) the scariest thing you've ever seen.
Blair Witch Bunny
According to the Times
The football chant "Who ate all the pies?" dates back more than 100 years, researchers have discovered. Sung to the tune of Knees Up Mother Brown, it was directed at Sheffield United's 24-stone goalkeeper William 'Fatty' Foulke by his own fans in 1894.
Highlight of the day was being invited down to Leicester for the first gathering of the Drunk Birders since Shetland. This will take place on the 1st December involving beer, curry and possibly high quality Melton Mowbray Pork Pie. I fully expect the Bog Ostrich to make a reappearance
Anyway that fan of beer, rugby league, the Pigs and pies John Hague has sent me a fine picture of his man breasts. Bizarrely they resemble two steak and tattie pies.
A couple of site visits this morning, to photograph some bits of road, resulted in a pair of Peregrines over Midhope Moors.
Spent this evening looking up train and ferry fares to the Northern Isles. Train £57, ferry £45. The only drawback being that it takes a full 24 hours to get up there!
On the pie front I have been promised a freebie from the Denby Dale Pie Company. Providing Laura doesn't eat it first I should be able to review it shortly.
Mr Norman demonstrates how to correctly eat a pie (though admittedly using a sandwich) whilst at the same time keeping all of your finger ends.
However more tempting was the invitation to a party apparently full of "very sexy ladies" Unfortunately the party was on Shetland and with parental duties, financial restraints and incredibly rough seas it was a non starter. How good could that have turned out Brunnich's on the list and a lost weekend in south mainland - we'll never know.
A Purple Sandpiper at RVCP, this morning, will hopefully still be there in the morning.
A Shepherd's Pie for tea (that's dinner to you Southern freaks) was delicious but sadly not a pie in the true sense.
Back in Scotland it's all happening here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/7080759.stm
First meeting with a moderator today (though on my own) went okay but unless they're thinking of using Kofi Annan I'm not expecting miracles!!
On another note: The Sandringham Harrier Slaying
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "The bodies of the Hen Harriers have not been found and there is no forensic or ballistic evidence." CPS lawyer Andrew Baxter was quoted as saying "I am satisfied the police investigation has been thorough and there are no other areas of investigation which can be pursued."
Police had originally identified three suspects: Prince Harry, William Van Cutsem and David Clarke, a gamekeeper
Shame the Ginger tosser couldn't have used his firearm skills in Iraq. Don't suppose they'll still be investigating this one in ten years.
No birds were seen today except for the usual scabby town pigeons and no pies have been consumed for days (since the wonderful meat and tattie). I even thought about popping into Greggs but fortunately the queue of chavs outside deterred me.
Well by now I should have got Mourning Dove on my British list, but I haven't. However had I been interested in seeing it I could have offered Kris (billy no mates who comes from Sheffield and always advertisers for lifts on RBA) a lift, been up there Saturday, ticked it and probably back home now writing about how fantastic a bird it was. But by following the rules of the UK 4,000000 calories club and its commander in chief LaRGE Pie Gobbler I can tick it. Why? Because had I gone over the last two days I would have seen it. Also by choosing this option I have also added a carbon neutral tick to my list, number 484 thank you LaRGE.
Windy Corner (though it wasn't)
The evenings dilemma was should I go to the Gym or slob around watching SCD, drink wine and eat bacon butties. The latter won followed by a twelve hour kip, tiring thing that swimming.
Helen has sent me a clip from the Shetland Times advertising an Aberdeen band called Pie Shop.
Seems like another perfectly valid excuse for me to make another visit - not that I need one.
A barrage of solicitors letters, accusing me of just about everything except the holocaust, arrived on the mat this morning. Some birding therapy is much needed.
It would appear that I misunderstood Rob's text. He is in fact behind the bars of the Sumburgh Hotel along with Helen. I expect the hotels profits to plummet during the coming months.
Birthday Pie (Meat and Potato)
Henderson's. Essential Pie condiment (not available outside South Yorkshire)
Tonight I went to a Halloween party in the small village of Whiston. Being a miserable shit I didn't bother getting dressed up for the occasion. There were plenty of adults dressed up, particularly women, but unfortunately being Rotherham it was at times difficult to tell whether any of them were actually wearing masks or not! At 11pm and after several pints of my friend Mr Guinness we wandered home.
According to Mr Fray his toilet apparently empties directly into the POV. This is a great comfort in that despite being some 600 or so miles away I am still contributing to the biodiversity of the POV. What is particularly rewarding is that the near resident Killdeer could be benefitting from all those pie deposits that I made several weeks back. How many birders can boast that a BB rarity might have feasted on their bodily deposits? What I find disturbing though is the fact that some birds could be feeding on the porn filled kleenex deposited from the chalet of Virkie!!!
All pies and no exercise and you'll die, probably
(of sausage roll pie fame) last night, though the resulting wind problem made me glad to be sleeping alone. This would have been the weekends highlight had not my friends on Shetland phoned me at 1:30am (2:30 bst). Not quite sure what state they were in but it was good to hear from them and made me long to be up there even more, only 62 more days.
After lunch and doing my ironing, for two hours, and watching Hollyoaks I finally ventured out for a spot of birding at RVCP. Predictably it was dull but I did at least see the Slav' Grebe this time. With Strictly Come Dancing and a bottle of Rose to look forward to I am concerned that I might be turning gay!! Perhaps some of the cows in those pies had had a few hormones too many!!!
Spent an hour at Catcliffe Flash this morning, probably the longest amount of time I've ever spent there. The reason being that Bethany had requested it (I normally drive straight past on my way to RV) as she wanted to get to grips with duck I.D. and being the kind parent that I am how could I possibly refuse. Highlights were ducks various, which with the aid of the Collins Guide I managed to I.D eventually and a smart male Peregrine which was my first at this site. However as I was getting Beth' back into the car I noticed an unfamiliar Ladybird on one of the rear tyres. Fortunately Beth' had seen these on Newsround and recognised it as the evil Harlequin Ladybird so we splattered it and got in the car. Actually we didn't I photographed and left it alone to wreak havoc on the biodiversity of Catciffe Flash.
*For bread cake see also - Balm Cake, Bread Roll, Cob, Stotty, Teacake etc etc
This of course raises the very important question. Do pasties count as pies? A colleague of mine wasted a whole pound by asking the know all text service AQA "what is the difference between a pie and a pasty." Their eye opening response was as follows "The difference between pasties and pies is that pasties are flatter in construction, whereas pies are round, also the pastry in pasties is thinner. A full British pound well spent Nicky!!!
So what are you opinions on the Pie v Pasties debate?
Right then, it's pie time. First things first, a review of the breakfast pie: this was purchased from Mainlands, so automatically loses 2 points for the lack of heating facilities there. However, I brought it home and used my own microwave, so I'm not sure if that allows it to have its 2 points back? The pie itself was good, but not as spectacular as hoped for, and I would award it 8 out of 10. Definitely not quite up to the standard of lasagne pie or chicken and white sauce pie.
Now two new pies, both of which were purchased from the garage/shop at Brae yesterday. It occurred to me whilst I was there that most of the pies reviewed so far (including the two I am about to review now) are made by Johnson and Wood of Voe, which is just up the road from Brae. Therefore, the Brae garage/shop should be a fine source of new, unusual and plentiful pies.
Exhibit A is a Curry Pie. The ingredients, as you can see, include "bovine meat", which is a little bit vague and perhaps slightly disturbing. The pie was quite average, it wasn't particularly curry-some (if that's a word, which I don't suppose it is), and unfortunately it only warranted 6 out of 10. However, the Brae shop has a microwave, so that's another 2 points. There is also a bonus point available for the Brae shop which I shall explain below.
Exhibit B is a Macaroni Pie. This is without doubt the best pie in the world ever, and looked so good that I took a photo of it undressed as well as in its package. Macaroni cheese on top with a splendid baked bean bonus underneath. Easily 10 out of 10, plus 2 for the microwave. In my opinion, the new King of Pies. And what's more, the Brae shop gets another bonus point as there is a bit of a stunner who works there too - on a par with the Eshaness cafe girl, fine br**sts etc. I didn't know whether to look longingly at the Macaroni Pie or the br**sts. In the end I got completely confused and tried to put the br**sts in the microwave and pay the Macaroni Pie for my shopping.
So that's it for pies at the moment. I will continue exploring. Rob
Thanks Rob. I see six months on Shetland has not made you lose your shallow feelings towards the female form.