Black Pepper Tofu

Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for Black Pepper Tofu. I made it many years ago and loved it, although it was pretty spicy. Fast forward many years to present day and I’m walking through the middle aisle of Aldi and I spotted some Tofu. I thought I’d give it another go.

Turns out the middle aisle Aldi Tofu was a bit rubbish. It was too soft and just crumbled in the pan. However, a few weeks later I spotted a new “super Firm Organic Tofu” on the shelf and thought “oi oi”

So I bought the chilli’s and shallots, ensured we had enough black pepper, fired up the frying pan and boom….

It was truly a thing of beauty.

The kids mostly pulled their faces, ate a bit and put the rest in the bin.

Jason Howarth described it as “offensive” and “a fucking abomination”

I’ll maybe use less black pepper next time.


We live in a pretty rural area. Our broadband was rubbish and every time the wind blew the connection would go down. So we got rid of that and used a 4G unlimited data SIM. This was a bit better but the DHCP lease time meant the connection would drop for a little while every 3 days and the IP address would change which meant some stuff on my network would need restarting. This was a pain. Things got a bit better when I introduced another 4G SIM but it still wasn’t ideal. The data rates weren’t that great either and Oli would always be moaning about it all being a bit laggy and slow.

One evening, after a little bit of wine, I noticed that Starlink had dropped the price of their kit in the UK. I asked Oli if he’d be willing to pay for half the kit to speed up his connection – he absolutely was – so I finally pulled the trigger on buying Starlink after years of talking about it.

It finally arrived a week after it was supposed to. The road at the end of my lane was shut and so you had to come in from the other end of the bumpy lane. The DHL driver [ the lazy bastard ] just couldn’t be bothered. Three times they “tried to deliver” it. Three times they utterly couldn’t be arsed. In the end I had to redirect it to a shop pickup point thing and go and get it myself. Fucking DHL.

Whilst waiting for the mounting post to arrive so that I could attach it to my garage I just set it up on the roof outside Oli’s window and ran the cable into his PC. We were getting absolutely blistering speeds and latency was much lower. It’s a whole new internet experience

Finally the mounting post came and I could properly integrate Dishy McFlatFace into my home network and have a 4G SIM as a failover in case those sneaky Chinese bastards ever make good on their threats of blowing the Starlink satellites out of space.

Once everything was integrated into the network I ran around various locations in the house to see what speeds I was getting. My office….super fast. My garage…super fast. Oli’s room…super fast. My kitchen…rubbish. This puzzled me for a while but I plugged the AP straight into the switch in my utility room and then it was super fast. This was a relief as I was worried the cable from my garage to the house was bad…this would have been a massive PITA. Instead it was the cable from my utility room to the kitchen. This is still a potential pain in the ass as it goes through a stud wall and into the ceiling. Before I started pulling cables out of walls and putting new ones in I did a network test. The Ethernet tester in the utility room went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 so was all good. The tester on the kitchen end went something bonkers like 1, 2, 6, 3, 5, 4, 7, 8. So all this time the Ethernet cable had been done wrong but it was limping along on 4 wires hence the poor data speeds. I’d never noticed the poor data speeds until Starlink came along with my super fast connection.

I chopped the end off and had another go at wiring it up. My least favourite job in the world is wiring up Cat 6 terminators. Anyway, it worked first time and now my kitchen is super fast too.

Heating oil tank

We used to heat our house with heating oil but I always hated it. It smells, it’s carcinogenic, it’s not environmentally friendly in any way. I finally got rid of it.

This is me getting the last of the oil out and selling it to my neighbour at a very discounted price.

My plan was to sell it on eBay as they’re really quite expensive. However it turns out my tank is single skinned which is really not cool these days. People are still trying to sell them on eBay but nobody is buying so I decided to not bother going down that path.

Out comes the trusty Ryobi jigsaw. I only knackered 2 blades during the entire process. Not bad for me.

All stacked up ready for the tip. It took me three trips to get rid of everything and even though I jet washed the tank inside and out there was still a minging smell of kerosene as I was transporting it. But finally – after 16 years of putting up with my driveway stinking of heating oil it’s all over.

Usual April 1st Post

Two years in and I’m still not saying that I have retired…or that I haven’t retired. However I always celebrate the day I finished my last job with a massive breakfast

It was all a bit too much though…

Two hash browns [ carbs ] and half a slice of toast [ carbs ] left behind

In what can only be described as “probably not my best idea” I decided to remove a no longer used drain thingy with my car. I tried digging it out but it was taking ages and I got bored so I came up with the cunning plan above. You may be wondering why I put a brick inside the rope. Well my genius thoughts were that it would distribute the load onto the plastic drain thingy so that the rope didn’t just cut through it. Again, not my best idea as it instantly became a projectile heading straight for my car.

The plastic drain thing clattered into my car but these Porsches are made of tough stuff. No damage occurred thankfully.


A long long time ago Bill built us some cabinets and bookcases in the “wooden floor room”. They covered one wall of the room either side of the chimney breast and extended over the doorway to the the “carpet room”. After the extension was complete we had a whole other wall doing nothing in the wooden floor room since we have moved a doorway. Given that we also had a whole load of books in storage because we couldn’t fit them on the shelves I decided a new set of matching bookcases were in order…and I would build them myself.

The cynical amongst you will view this an excuse to buy a new Ryobi electric plane. It’s a thing of beauty.

Anyway…the base. Some left over 6×2 that was used as my roof beams in my front shed formed a sturdy base for the cases to sit atop.

My initial plan was to cover the 3.6m wall with three equally sized bookcases of 1.2m each. This meant that the light switch would have been inside one of the bookcases which I thought would have been kinda cool. Emma and Amelia disagreed so I let them have their way. The problem is that I’d already made a 1.2m bookcase.

1.2m bookcase. In the future I wouldn’t build it on the floor. I’d get the frame up against the wall and fit the shelves whilst it’s vertical. Also, at this point I didn’t have any right angle braces…I do now
My “can’t be bothered painting where the bookcase will be” plan worked out perfectly.

The upshot of building it on the floor raised it’s head when I realised the base it was on wasn’t quite level. It doesn’t seem like a massive problem until you put a large bookcase on there and then everything is thrown out. I put some spacers underneath the base and redid the shelves so that they were level. It’s all still a tiny bit wonky but this is typical of one of my projects.

When I built the next bookcase I thought I’d have the shelves not lining up. So the whole thing looked a bit asymmetrical but having taken a look at them afterwards, and following feedback from Emma and Amelia, I decided to abandon that idea and keep the bookcases level.


Annoyingly I didn’t get a picture of my shelves when they were asymmetrical, but it just looked wrong. Looks miles better above. I also extended the top shelf over the “discovered doorway” that had been bricked up for who knows how long! I then had to build some padding onto the top of the existing shelves so that my shelf above the doorway would wrap around the corner and join up neatly with the existing shelves.

Prime, undercoat and then paint. Underway
You can see the padding above the old shelves on the left. I’ll have to just put a small piece of fascia on the front and you’ll never notice.
The finished piece.

In case you’re wondering why I needed to buy a new electric plane it was for the skirting board you can see underneath the shelves. I had the wood yard cut the 7inch lambs tongue skirting down to 6inch. However because the floor/base is slightly bowed I needed to shave a couple of mm of the skirting. Probably could have done it by hand over a few hours…or buy a new bit of kit and have it done in a few minutes.


Probably would have been cheaper and quicker to buy them from Ikea. Possibly would have ended with a better finish without gaps here and there, but they wouldn’t have tied in with my existing bookcases and this blog would be “bought some bookshelves from Ikea and put them up in a couple of hours…here they are” – which would be a rubbish blog post.

New Shed

As part of the deal with the property developers building houses around us I was promised a concrete slab. I initially started out asking for a 5x5m slab or smaller. But in the end I thought a 6x6m slab would be more useful for a workshop. So I pegged out roughly where I wanted it.

This puts it towards the end of my garden but with an area behind it for fires, compost heaps, general garden stuff.

Then the builders came along with their digger.

At this point I was confused why it was so deep
A good solid base
Rebar, naturally

Finally the day came and they poured the concrete. Proper bunch of perfectionists, they did a much better job than I ever could have – but then again they’re builders rather than…well, whatever I am. They had levels and machines they looked through to make sure it was the correct height and everything.

Now I just need to buy some bits of wood and build a workshop.

Broken Car

Once again my car has broken down. This time on the way to visit Herr Howarth. It was the coldest day of the year thus far and everything was going wrong on the motorways. My windscreen washers ran out of fluid so I stopped at the services to buy more but they’d sold out due to everyone running out. I ended up just buying a bottle of water and dumping that into my washers…which immediately froze and was simply cock all use. After refilling my washers with ice the car absolutely did not want to start. Finally it kicked in and the engine started but it freaked me out so much that I didn’t want to stop anywhere again until I got to the relative safety of Jason’s house.

Due to my windscreen being incredibly difficult to see through and my sat-nav being an utter bitch and trying to take me to Jason’s via the toll road I missed the A500 exit from the M6. Then my car started chugging when idling which is always a bad sign. Then it properly stopped on the toll road with a massive puff of smoke out of the exhaust and I rolled onto the hard shoulder.

This is where the fun properly began. I have AA cover via my Nationwide account. So I called the AA. Twenty minutes later they didn’t pick up the phone. So I dropped that call and phoned Paul who was coming down the M6 behind me. I arranged for him to rendezvous with me to try and work out what to do. Having arranged the meeting with Paul I got back onto the phone to the AA. Twenty five minutes later they hadn’t answered so I hung up and spoke with Paul to talk him into my exact location. Paul eventually arrived and I hung up an unanswered call to the AA for a third time. Wankers. In the end I just abandoned my car on the hard shoulder and jumped into Paul’s nice warm car and we went to the pub for lunch.

Fast forward many hours and I eventually managed to get through to the AA. I told them to pick up my car and tow it back to my house. They were absolutely adamant they couldn’t tow my car unless I was there. I was thirty miles away…and drunk. So that wasn’t happening. In the end I properly lost my shit with them, the AA person hung up on me and I went to bed convinced the police were going to impound my car.

I awoke the next day and my first thought, the very first thing that entered my head was where’s my car now. How am I going to get home! To cut a very long story a little shorter I won’t go into the range anxiety that Paul and I suffered due to him not being able to charge his car overnight. But we eventually made it back to my car. I hopped over the fence to the motorway and ran down the embankment to my car armed with a Lithium Ion battery charger pack hoping to kick start my car. Amazingly 24hrs after abandoning it at the side of the motorway it was still there. The hazard lights were still going and everything. I was hooking up the battery booster just as the police turned up. Literally 3 minutes had passed between me getting to the car and the cops turning up wanting to impound it! Because I was there they didn’t impound it and after 40 minutes on the phone the AA answered the call [ again wankers! ] and arranged someone to come and rescue me. However, the AA weren’t going to tow me home. They arranged for a 3rd party recovery company to come and get me and tow me to the nearest services where at some point in the distant future another truck would come and get me. In a massive piece of good fortune the recovery company had a car due for pickup up North so it made sense for them to take me home and get the other car.

After four hours waiting on a freezing hard shoulder this was an epic sight

I was still thinking that the problem was the battery so I got the car dropped off at my local garage with the intention of them replacing the battery. However, because it was so close to Christmas everything was just crazy. It was Christmas eve before they took a look at it. Declared it wasn’t the battery and was probably something much more serious, possibly requiring a new engine! Which as one can imagine was a shit bit of news. Very fortunately Paul is friends with a mechanic who he overheard discussing a Porsche Cayenne issue with another friend that was exhibiting all the same symptoms as mine. Paul sweet talked the mechanic [ Alan ] into taking a look at my car and so in that lull between xmas and new year Paul came over and towed my car off the garage forecourt

It was properly cold as we were sorting all this out

As I write this it’s now over a month since I last drove my car and our current working theory is that an injector failed. Hopefully this is the case…it’ll be the third injector that has failed in two years which is a bit annoying but at least I’ll be back on the road. I’ll drive it for a few months and then treat myself to an EV of some description for my birthday,

However, the message I want you to take from this blog post is that the AA are a proper bunch of wankers. Absolute cunts. Fuck the AA.

Fresh Ravioli

We had a bit of a dinner party. I made fresh ravioli from home made pasta and had a fancy serrated pasta cutter [ borrowed from the neighbours ] and everything.

Turned out alright

It was a while ago that I made them but I made three different varieties. One definitely had prawns in, one had chorizo and red pesto and one had some sort of mushroom and creme fraiche filling. They all could have done with more filling and I also forgot to drizzle olive oil over them at the end.

Emma made a Salmon en croute which was divine.