Thursday, 30 August 2012

20 Facts About Bacon

1.  More than 2 billion pounds of bacon are produced in the US each year.

2.  Bacon is one of the oldest processed meats in history.  The Chinese began salting pork bellies as early as 1500 BC.

3.  Bacon contains vitamin B1, vitamin B12, zinc and selenium.

4.  In the 16th century, European peasants would proudly display the small amount of bacon they could afford in their windows.

5.  One 200lb pig will produce approximately 20lbs of bacon.

6.  The phrase "bringing home the bacon" comes from the ancient sport of catching a greased pig at country fairs.  The winner kept the pig and "brought home the bacon".

7.  The 'Bacon Explosion' has become one of the most popular (albeit unhealthy) meals in the world.  The recipe?  Bacon wrapped around a filling of spiced sausage and crumbled bacon.

8.  Baconnaise is vegetarian.

9.  Bacon is addictive.  It contains six types of umami which triggers an addictive neurochemical response.

10.  September the 3rd is International Bacon Day.

11.  There is a bust of Kevin Bacon that's made of bacon.

12.  The formula for Bacon Cologne (yes, it exists) was created in 1920 by a Parisian butcher called John Fargginay.

13.  Bacon appeals to males slightly more than females.

14.  Pregnant women should eat bacon.  Choline, which is found in bacon, helps foetal brain development.

15.  People over the age of 34 are responsible for most bacon consumption.

16.  The word 'bacon' dates back to the late 1500s.  In Middle English, 'bacoun' referred to all pork.  During the 17th century, 'bacon' referred only to cured pork.

17.  Saint Anthony the Abbot is the Patron Saint of Bacon. (And epilepsy, amputees, shingles, gravediggers, hermits and lost items.  Busy saint.)

18.  Denmark consumes the most bacon in the world.

19.  There are varieties of bacon flavoured beer, bourbon and vodka.

20.  Bacon is the main reason why you're not a vegetarian.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

What Lies Beneath

It was a beautiful evening in Aberdyfi.  A delicate breeze whispered through the rushes in the warm dunes as Coyote and I made our way down to the deserted shore; the quiet incoming waves washing over our toes as we slowly walked along the tide line.

When I was growing up, my dad, brother and I saw the Dyfi Estuary and local beaches as our playgrounds.  We swam, we body-surfed, we kayaked and we canoed...and no weekend was complete without getting salt in our hair and sand in our shoes!  Coyote was brought up in a city, so I thought it was time to introduce him to the Mid Wales ocean.

We waded out into the water; the initial shock of the chill fading fast...even when it finally froze my boobs through my wetsuit.  (Trust me - that's the moment when you know you're properly soaked!)  We held hands and let the increasing waves buffer us, laughing and smiling as the sun gradually dipped lower in the sky.  It was so tranquil, so relaxing...and then it happened.

The pain shot through my foot like a red-hot poker.  The words that spewed forth from my lips were bluer than the sky.  I'd trodden on some unidentified object that was lurking on the sea bed; something sharp...something evil.  It certainly wasn't a shell - the pain was far too great for that.  I limped to the shore not knowing what I was going to find when I examined my foot...which was by now throbbing relentlessly.  I flopped down on my bodyboard (it's a Gul.  It has a slick bottom.  Mmm...slick bottom...) and lifted my injured extremity, for a moment terrified by what I would see...

A tiny puncture on one of my toes.  I wiped the blood and seawater away as a concerned Coyote looked on, ready to carry me back to the car.  It didn't make sense!  How could such a small injury cause so much pain?  The first thing that came to mind was glass.  Just in case I had some in there, I sucked the wound as hard as I could in an attempt to dislodge anything that might be embedded in my flesh.  Still the pain persisted.  A syringe, perhaps?  I began to make plans to call my GP to have my bloods checked.

Coyote carried all our kit as we walked - well, he walked and I limped - over the golf links to the car park.  

We got back to HQ shortly before the daylight disappeared.  By now, my toe was beginning to swell and grow hard to the touch; the skin paling as blood struggled to flow through.  I picked up my phone...

( is 2012.  A crisis isn't a crisis if you don't tweet about it...!)

Soon enough I started to get replies.  Suggestions ranged from a shark (I still had my leg so I doubted that was likely) to a shopping trolley - as propounded by Derek Brockway.  I assured him it wasn't a trolley. As it was Aberdyfi, it was more likely to have been a discarded chandelier.  They have champagne on their chips in Aberdyfi. 

Then a reply from Tracey in Pembrokeshire caught my eye.  They know about the sea in Pembrokeshire...

Oh.  Hadn't thought about that.  I've been splashing about in the water for years and never been on the receiving end of a weaver/weever fish spine.  It's something that you always expect to happen to others.  I tweeted her back, asking if they left a small puncture wound and she promptly replied...

I'd only just been for a wee (TMI, sorry!), so Coyote rustled up a bowl of hot water which I promptly immersed my foot in.  The pain immediately started to fade.

The following morning, my toe was still hard to the touch and having circulation problems, but that was just the poison working through.  The main thing was that I could now put weight on my I could enjoy the impending weekend in Scotland with Coyote!

Thank you, Tracey.  You're a star! xxx


Look at it.  Look at it lying there; hiding in the sand, waiting to stick you with its venomous spines so it can laugh at you as you limp away, crying.

Ok, that's not actually what it does...but that's what it feels like when you're unfortunate enough to wind one up!

The lesser weever fish has an enormous gob.  Think Julia Roberts...only bigger and with less lipstick.  It lies in wait for smaller fish to unwittingly swim into range; then it snaps them up and enjoys a sushi feast.  It's not the teeth you have to worry about though.  Oh no.  It's the dorsal fin that sticks up above the sand.

Three black spines protrude from the body, waiting to defend the little fish from bigger, bully fish...and, unfortunately for us, innocent seaside-goers.  

As you've probably gathered, if you've been stung by one, you know about it.  As Tracey said, the best course of treatment is to immerse the wounded limb in hot water - as hot as you can bear without scalding - and leave it there for around 15 minutes.  The more time that passes before treatment, the longer the immersion should be.  The venom is heat-liable, so water over 40°C should do the trick.

Occasionally, the spine may break off and be left in the flesh.  If this is the case, you need to remove it as soon as you can.  Treat it like a splinter...make sure you wince a lot and make hissing noises as you - or someone with good eyesight, a steady hand and some tweezers - removes it for you.  Then clean the wound thoroughly.  I would recommend TCP...but I spilt a tiny drop of it on my study sofa a fortnight ago and the room still smells like a I'd go with Dettol if I were you. 

If the pain doesn't ease within a few hours, or if you think there's another cause for concern (headache, shortness of breath, vomiting, dizzyness, a desire to bury yourself in the sand and attack surfers or an insatiable craving for raw shrimp), get to A&E.  You won't suffer any long-term effects, but they'll be able to ease the symptoms quickly for you.

Heed my tale, folks.  Next time you go to the beach, wear something sensible on your feet.  I suggest thick-soled aqua shoes, trainers...or moon boots. 

Happy splashing!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Hot New Game: BOFahoy!

Do you get bored on long car trips?  Do you easily tire of 'I-Spy' and 'The Numberplate Game'?  We do.  That's why - after months of intense research and design* - we've developed 'BOFahoy'!
*Possibly not exactly the truth.

The rules of the game are simple.  When you're on the road - be it your regular commute to work, a skip to the shops or an epic road trip to the arse-end of nowhere, keep your eyes peeled for BOFmobiles heading towards you.  If it's safe to do so, give the approaching BOFmobile a friendly flash of your headlights and wave at them.  The object of the game is to get them to wave back.  If you're successful, shout "BOFahoy!" and adopt a smug look until the next one comes along.

Most BOFs drive with one hand on the steering wheel and the other poised thoughtfully on his chin, scratching his nethers or eating a bacon sandwich.  That's why this game can be a bit tricky.  Getting a BOF to wave at you if you're not driving a BOFmobile is a bit like getting champagne out of a sprout.

Of course, no game is complete without a scoring system!  It's pretty straight-forward - allow me to illustrate:

Not really menacing enough to warrant more than a point, both the Freelander and the Freelander 2 are baby BOFmobiles.  Usually seen parked across two spaces in the middle of a town; or parked opposite an ice cream parlour in Tywyn with a toy pig on the dashboard. 

Gnarly old crates that are owned by wannabe BOFs.  Usually missing several bits of trim from the doors; they're normally found at the head of long lines of traffic - holding everyone up as they tow rickety horse boxes through the countryside.

Low on chrome, high on obnoxiousness.  These can be found parked on double yellows with their hazard lights on (BOFs know hazard lights as 'Park Anywhere' lights) and are often spotted riding the bumpers of old ladies in Metros.  Also found repeatedly driving around town looking for the nearest Harrods, Waitrose or Selfridges. 

Chrome.  Tinted windows.  So much bling that you can see them from Uranus.  Think 'Common BOFmobile' but with added arrogance.  FOBOFmobiles are often found where nobody should be; like driving along private beaches with their speedboats in tow.  Also frequently seen parked in golf clubs or outside extortionately expensive harbour pubs.  Like salmon in reverse, they head downstream to Pembrokeshire to breed.

*Twitches.  Breaks out in a rash and vomits.*
(Extra 100 points if it's a snot green colour)

So there you have it!  A game for all ages; but it requires patience and nerves of steel.  Go on, have a go!  We've been playing for months now and are nursing a measly 20% success rate.  Can you do better?  Let us know...

(Remember, don't be disheartened if you don't get a wave.  Just bask in the knowledge that the non-waving BOF will be wondering who the hell you were for the rest of the day.)

*Meep Meep!*


We've added two new point-scoring vehicles to the mix to spice things up a bit:

Often spotted harassing innocents as they trundle along the backbone of Wales, these big buggers can really boost your score.  Based in Pembrokeshire (spiritual home of the BOF), these egregious wtankers are frequently seen forcing cyclists into puddles and putting the fear of god into drivers at roundabouts.  We're not entirely sure what they carry...but having given it careful thought, we've decided it's probably bacon purée.

(This obviously excludes the Cayenne; because it's ugly and smells of wee.)
Picture the scene: It's raining, so the BOF really doesn't want to take his BOFmobile out, does he?  Hell no!  The rain water might dull the chrome!  So he turns to his standby car - the Porsche.  Just a little run-around for rainy days and weekends, you understand.  Also ideal for trips to the stables because, let's face it, who wants to get horse shit on £400 Range Rover tyres?  Exactly.  Said Porsche probably has a private registration and hay on the passenger seat.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Royal Welsh Show 2012

It had been decades since Coyote and I had been to the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in Llanelwedd.  Always up for a bit of fun and some new sights, we decided that we'd head over there this year and see what was on offer!

The fun started when we got on the shuttle bus.  In a previous life, Coyote was a PSV/PCV it was quite amusing to see him glaring down the gangway, shooting daggers into the back of the driver's head. "Someone doesn't know his gears..."  I think I did a pretty good job of not sniggering.  Much.

After a short, sweaty hop to the show-ground, we got off the bus and followed the signs to the ticket booths.  £42 lighter we stepped into the throngs making their way from stall to stall in the scorching sunlight.  We had no idea where to start.

"Map?" Coyote suggested.
"Bloody good idea," I agreed.  Off we set on a hunt for a map of the at least we could figure out where the loos were.
     Eventually we found a stall that had programmes and maps.  For £3 a piece.  We guffawed and toddled off.  There wasn't anything in particular that we wanted to see, so we figured that we might as well just amble around in various directions to see what we would stumble across.

There were sheep.  Lots of sheep...

And Roy Nobles...

And horses...

And Jason Mohammads.

There were also tractors, cows, goats, more tractors, sunburnt people, more cows, drunk people, more tractors and a man who looked suspiciously like Billy Connolly.  It wasn't him though...his beard wasn't purple and he wasn't singing about his wellies. 

After a lot of wandering and wondering, we found ourselves in the shade of some trees at the back of a building elevated above the main show ring.  I trained my lens on the horses and then something at the corner of my eye caught my attention.  A man and a woman were sat above a building directly opposite us.  She was chain-smoking and he was eating something.  She looked like Ivor the Engine and he looked like a newsreader...but I couldn't be sure.  If he was a newsreader, then where did he find the time to train? He must've trained...because never in my life have I seen someone put away so many olives in such a short space of time.  It was deeply impressive. 

By now we were thirsty and starting to turn crispy in the sunshine.  Being Welsh, you see, we're simply not used to such weather.  We're more used to going everywhere in full waterproofs, carrying roll-up kayaks in case of emergency.  After a brief confab ("Home?"  "There's beer there."  "Home it is.") we left the show-ground and caught the shuttle bus back to the car park.  N18, if you're interested...which we know you aren't...but it's the only actual fact you're going to get from this post so I thought I'd share it in the name of blogging integrity.

Coyote then shone.  The car park was full to the brim.  If I'd been on my own, I would still have been trying to find my car as the sun dipped behind the hills...but he made a beeline for Monty.  I was impressed.  More impressed than I was by the day's earlier display of jaw-dropping olive-scoffing prowess.  I was so impressed, in fact, that I made a mental note not to poke his sunburnt bits.

We left Llanelwedd feeling tired but happy.  It had been an experience...but not one we'll repeat.  It could've done with more local produce for sale, more interactive displays, a cinema, a jacuzzi, a squash court...just kidding!  Cheaper bottled water and a free map would've been a start, mind.  

*Meep Sheep!*

Samuel and Sybil: Vehicle Identification

It takes 11 hours to travel by car from Mid Wales to Inverness.  It also takes 11 hours to travel by car from Inverness to Mid Wales.  It's one of the many mysterious synchronicities of life that we simply have to accept.

We're sure that you'll agree when we say that 11 hours is a fecking long time to be on the road.  When you've eaten all the sandwiches and crisps; when you've drunk all the Coke and coffee (this happened by the time we reached Newtown), you start groping for 'I-Spy' subjects...

"I spy with my little eye...something beginning with W."







"I give up."


"There's no bloody windsock here!"

"There was one about 10 miles back..."

You get the idea.  So it'll come as no surprise when we tell you that Samuel and Sybil didn't take too easily to being cooped up in the car.  Even though they shared the driving, they were like two kids; bickering and fidgeting - paying no attention when we told them to pipe down.  When they were in the back, we had to stop on numerous occasions to give them a proper telling-off, but within 15 minutes of being back on the road, they were at it again.  Samuel even mooned at a passing coach of WI women.  It made their day.

One interesting development came of it, though.  We discovered that Sybil has a fixation with buses.  Not only that...but she seems to have a pathological problem with vehicle identification.  All the time spent travelling to and from Scotland gave Samuel the perfect opportunity to try and educate her somewhat.  Bless his heart, he really did try...

WARNING:  Contains language that makes Gordon Ramsay sound like Mary Whitehouse.  Not suitable for sprogs.  Do not expose to direct sunlight.  Do not eat.


The BOFmobile Beough

We've been to Eire, England, Northern Ireland (by mistake) and explored pretty much every nook and cranny of Wales...but we've never seen as many BOFmobiles as we did when we recently wound up in Scotland.

It seemed that every bend revealed tinted windows; that every roundabout flashed chrome and that every mile of monotonous motorway bombarded us with the whiff of bacon.  It got difficult.  Very difficult.

Eventually, we started to lose our tenuous grips on what's left of our diluted sanities.  Instead of merely wincing when a BOFmobile trundled past, we began to make noises.  Strange noises.  Noises that somehow seemed apt for the 'hunting, tooting, fithing' ilk.

We've dubbed this curious reaction 'The BOFmobile Beough'.  Might be an idea to turn your volume down a tad.

WARNING:  Contains a naughty word.  Not suitable for mini people or machine-washing.