Pea Fritters!!!!!

This is a bit off topic, but as a southerner in the north, it may actually be the most annoying difference between here and there: (lack of) Pea Fritters!

Everyone likes fish and chips, don’t they? Well.. not everyone likes fish.. I used to prefer a battered sausage (something else that’s hit and miss up here), and when I became a veggie, I swapped the sossies for pea fritters. I love pea fritters. 🙂

Then I moved north, and found out that they don’t exist up here. No-one’s even heard of them! Instead, there is mushy peas in pots, or scallops (battered potato and chips? Ever heard of variety?!) So I did some research, and even Londoners don’t know what they are – they seem to be limited to Hampshire and the counties that border it. Crazy!

So, what are pea fritters? Mushy peas in batter. Those are these:

They’re like an evolved pot of mushy peas. Someone like me must’ve thought “how am i supposed to eat these mushy peas while i’m on the move? I know – I’ll batter em!”

I did find a chippie that sold ‘pea fritters’ in Porthmadog in Wales. I use inverted commas, because they were mass produced, pre-cooked, tiny patties that tasted revolting. Real fritters are apparently made by getting a lump of frozen marrowfat peas, dipping them in batter, and then deep frying them.

I therefore urge anyone who reads this to try a Pea Fritter at least once. You might have to go to Hampshire or Dorset to do it, but it’s worth the trip (there’s lots of other lovely things to do, too). If that seems too much like hard work, then maybe try this recipe. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be as good as a chip shop fritter (Golf ball sized? Should be tennis ball sized!), but it looks like it’ll be pretty close. I’m going to try it myself sometime soon!

Pea Fritters!!!!


Going Retro

People who glance at my blog may have noticed that I’ve gone full on retro with my bikes. The oldest bike I own is from 2004, and that’s been dismantled for storage because I consider it too modern. 😛

To be honest, I’m a bit of a retro nut generally.. I’d much rather have a car from the 70s than my Honda Jazz (the wife’s not averse to this plan – we just can’t afford it). I have a small collection of VFD (vacuum fluorescent display) calculators from the late 70s/early 80s. I’ve still got an old Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64 in the loft. My main buying criteria for my phone was how well it’d adapt to playing emulated 80s computer games (slide out keyboard – pretty good!). My music taste is currently EBM, which is a genre that never really progressed since the 80s..

Other than just being old and funky, retro stuff also carries vague memories of the year of their construction. A 2010 bike is just a bike. A 1981 bike is a bike which carries 1981 with it!

So, today I’ve been looking up exactly what was going on in film and music when my bikes were constructed. I’m not going to list everything – I’m just going to list what’s interesting to me, because it’s my blog and I can do what I like! 🙂

1977 (Carlton Cobra)
I was 3 years old in 1977, so you might be able to forgive me for not remembering this year from my own memory. Presumably some of it must’ve filtered into my brain, affecting my tastes in later life.

Punk and disco were just starting to become popular in 77. I’ve never been a huge fan of punk, so I’ve chosen I Feel Love by Donna Summer, which was released that year. Bob Marley also released Exodus, and Kraftwerk released Trans-Europe Express.

1977 was the year of Star Wars, and I don’t think you can beat that. 🙂

1981 (Raleigh Twenty)
I was 7 in 1981. I had a vague taste in music, but not very well developed. My mum liked the new romantic stuff, however, and it definitely filtered in.  I think I was probably riding a Raleigh Striker at this point!

The New Romantic stuff was just starting to take off in 1981, with Vienna and Fade to Grey both being released that year. Depeche Mode released their first album, Speak & Spell (the only one with Vince Clarke), and Kraftwerk released one of the best albums of all time; Computer World! This was also the year that DAF released Der Musollini.

A really good year for films! Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman II, Escape from New York, Evil Dead, Mad Max 2..

1988 (Reflex ALX89)
I was 14 in 1988, and my musical taste was just starting to form properly, thanks to Cold Cut and Bomb the Bass. I remember one of my friends from school being heavily into hip hop, taking pride in owning lots of albums that were imported or having the ‘Parental Advisory’ stickers on them.

I wasn’t much into hip hop at this point, preferring the slightly more genteel sounds of Bomb the Bass, Stakker, and MARRS/Cold Cut. A super-special mention has to go to The Timelords (aka The KLF), who ripped off Cold Cut to make Doctorin’ The Tardis. This was also the year that the Pixies released Surfer Rosa, which is a phenomenal album.  Despite all that, I’m going to stick up a video of Eighty Eight by Public Relation, which was released that year, but has only recently come to my attention.  It is awesome.


1995 (Saracen Tufftrax)
Poor old Tufftrax.. it’s not been liking all the wet weather, and has been leaking orange water from the dropouts and headset. I really need to do something about that. Anyway, I was 21 in 1995, and I’d just started university. It was a year of heavy drinking and heavy partying, so I don’t really remember much about it. 😛 I do remember lots of nights of watching Chill Out Zone on MTV when I came home.

I was heavily into IDM at this point, and I was buying albums and singles by the shedload. Autechre, Aphex Twin, Seefeel, Black Dog, Spooky, Scanner, Panasonic.. the list goes on and on! I reckon the best album was Vakio by Panasonic.

Some good ones this year.. Twelve Monkeys, Strange Days, The City of Lost Children, and.. er.. Judge Dredd! If you try to blot out the main characters, and concentrate on the scenery, it’s a pretty good film!

n + 0.3

A month or so ago, my son was taken to Reddish Vale Farm by the childminder, and he had such a great time that he kept wanting to be taken back.  “Want to go to the farrrrm.  Want to go on the tractorrrrs”, he would say.  It did sound interesting; lots of animals to see up close, and even feed.  We assumed the tractors were non-functioning proper tractors that the kids could climb on, or something.

So, when the weather was nice, and we all woke up early enough, we went to the farm.  It opens a bit late in the morning, so we went for a walk around the pond at Reddish Vale Country Park first.  While we walked around, he kept asking if he could go on the tractors..

11am came, and we went into the farm.  The first barn had chicken chicks, guinea pigs, lambs, rabbits, and birds.  Ace stuff! He was only half interested, though – he was more interested in getting to the tractors!  Let’s get the ruddy tractors out of the way, I thought, and I let him show me the way.  Round a corner, past a bouncy castle, aaand.. oh dear!


They weren’t real tractors – they were pedal tractors!

It had cost me nearly a tenner to get in, and the only thing he wanted to see were a load of plastic pedal tractors.  gaaaah!

He was rubbish at pedalling (a tricky concept for a 2 year old), and preferred to push himself around with his legs, as it was faster and less annoying for him.  He got the hang of steering, though, and as he pushed himself about, I wondered if such a thing would be worth buying.

We’ve bought him stuff with wheels before.  He had a three-wheeled bug thing that his grandparents had bought him, but the wheels were too small to be of any use on carpet or grass, and when he was outside he preferred to walk, so it never got used.  A while later we bought him a 4 wheeled scooter (one of the ones where you can remove wheels as the kid gets better at scooting), but it was still rubbish on grass or carpet.  He took it out on the pavement a few times, but scooting was so slow for him that he preferred walking.  He’s an impatient sort.  😛  The tractors didn’t look like they’d be much good on grass either.

A couple of weeks went by, and I came across the solution. There was a thread on BikeRadar about cycling with children.  It was initially about quite old children on bikes, and the fun of going on a family ride, but then the subject of the best way of training children came up, and someone mentioned balance bikes as being the best way to train a child for proper cycling, because they don’t get kids used to stabilizers.

I’d never heard of balance bikes before, so I did a bit of searching.  They’re bikes, but they don’t have pedals.  The idea is that the kid uses it like a bike-shaped scooter, sitting on the saddle and pushing along with their feet.  Eventually, they start experimenting with raising their feet, and they get used to balancing before pedalling.

He likes pushing along with his feet, and he likes to copy his parents (except if his parents are eating salad vegetables), so it seemed like something he might get into.  I didn’t want to spend much moolah, just in case it got ignored, so I bought the cheapest balance bike I could find, which just so happened to also be the coolest-looking balance bike I could find; a Chicco Red Bullet for just under 30 squids.


It’s not the most advanced bit of engineering that I’ve ever come across..  the tyres are solid rubber, the wheels are plastic, there’s no bearings in the steering, and I’ve got a feeling that there’s no bearings in the wheels, either (stops him going too fast, I suppose).  It’s supposed to be for children aged 3 to 5, but my son is 2.5 and he already needs the saddle to be higher than the ‘do not raise above this point’ line on the seat post.  He is tall for his age, but I don’t think he’s as tall as a 5 year old!  I guess they expect kids to waddle about like those weird guys I see on tiny BMXes, or on MTBs with the seats as low as they’ll go.  I’m not sure how that’s going to help him balance.  :s

Now, every time he’s in the back garden, he wants to get the bike out!  He likes to push himself, and he especially likes to be pushed along.  He’s not quite got the hang of dismounting (frankly, neither have I!), but he’s getting the hang of steering it himself, and he can push himself along quite quickly.  The only thing holding him back at the moment is the size of the garden, so the next time the weather’s nice, and we haven’t got a ton of chores to do, we’ll see how he gets on at the park.

Now I just need to get the wife into cycling.  I’m not sure she’s quite as open minded as my son.  😐

Not the best xmas ever

UPDATE: For people searching for Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis blogs, I’ve got a dedicated PSC blog called Pesky PSC (which doesn’t seem to have gotten to Google yet). Go have a look!

Well, it didn’t take long for my blog to hit a snag!  My last post was over a month ago, mainly because I haven’t done anything bikey in 2 months.

The reason for the lack of cycling isn’t laziness, or even the weather – it’s due to a medical condition that I’ve been cultivating since the start of the year.  It’s still being diagnosed, but the doctor’s currently think that I’ve got Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis – inflamation and damage of the bile ducts that connect the liver to other stuff. The overall effect of this is that my liver is slowly being killed by my own immune system, and I’ll probably need a liver transplant in a few years time.  The more direct effect is that when my immune system fights something, it also fights my liver, which leads to cholangitis..

Imagine the worst hangover you’ve ever had..  the pounding headache, the nausea, the bloodshot eyes, lack of apetite, photosensitivity, the feeling of still being a bit inebriated.. now add liver/spleen/gall bladder pain, eyelids that feel like sandpaper to your eyes, and skin the colour of custard. Now imagine that lasting for a week.  Remember that the lack of apetite stops you eating, so you’re also suffering from malnutrition, and your breath stinks of ketones because you’ve been burning your own fat reserves!

That’s how I spent my Christmas..

I’m still recovering from it, even now.  My skin’s almost back to normal colour, and my innards have stopped hurting, but still I can’t stomach most types of food, so I’m living off of fruit and pot noodles (not sure why i can eat those!).  I ate through 5kg of body fat over the past 2 weeks, but it seems that that was my insulation layer, as I’m now really feeling the cold.  I haven’t got the energy to cycle 7 miles anymore.  I barely managed the walk into work without getting wibbly legs!

But I will recover (until the next one), and I’ll be quite glad to be back on the bike, I can tell you!  Trains are such an undignified method of transport!