The weather broke into our characteristic Northern blustery drizzle, and I psychologically hunkered down for winter but then it broke back again into another spell of delicious mild sunny autumn gold.

I finished the brickwork on the ‘substation’ and Pev hired a digger and dug out the space for the next greenhouse and levelled off the top area. He inadvertently disturbed a wasp’s nest and got stung on the ear. Ouch. He asked if I had any vinegar to rub on it. I didn’t, but I gave him some Prunella Vulgaris (self-heal) leaves to crush and rub on it, which seemed to help.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my long time ambition of growing native wild plants and selling them. I already have several varieties on the go, and I’ve been buying seeds for others.

I made a simple seed processing device using a scrap cedar bee super. I found a place online that sells different sizes of mesh and I bought a load. I also bought a 12 volt fan for winnowing. I used a wire brush on an electric drill for threshing the rye and barley and it worked fine. I can now separate seed of all sizes. I winnowed the quinoa and mustard seeds which are now added to our kitchen repertoire.

I bought  Sue Stickland’s wonderful Back Garden Seed Saving book and got a copy for Mog when she expressed an interest in seed saving.

mini melon



Honey. Hurray. Honey.

At last, I finally got some. Eighteen 350ml jars!

Phil at the bottom allotment has become our resident bee expert. He’s taken to it hook, line and sinker, even joining the British Beekeeping Association. He lent me his honey spinner, filter and Haynes beekeeping manual. He also came up and had a look at my hives.

One fine day, I decided to bite the bullet and harvest the honey. I made some syrup for winter feed then put on my bee suit and fired up the smoker. It was every bit as terrifying as I anticipated, but by the end of it I was slightly more confident. I learned to move slowly and calmly – it’s almost as if the bees can sense your anxiety – they’re amazing creatures.

The bee escapes hadn’t worked, so the super (the bit with the honey in it) was packed with bees. The first thing that they do when you smoke them is gorge on honey in anticipation of swarming. It’s an instinctive self-preservation reaction to the threat of forest fires. I thought ‘Oh no, I’m going to lose lots’.

I could have just put the top back and give the escapes a bit more time to work, but I was all psyched up to harvest the honey so I just carried on. I took the frames out one by one, carefully brushing off the bees.

Back at home, slicing off the caps and spinning the honey was a messy business. Louise helped me and we got most of it done. We left it overnight to settle and drip out of the wax. In the morning, I poured it into jars. I’d anticipated about 10, so it was quite a surprise to get 18. I washed out the wax in hot water and squeezed it into balls to refine later into beeswax blocks.

Having honey is a significant step in the self-sufficiency process.



Elsewhere, there are slow trickles of tomatoes, chillis and the last of the beans. The butter beans (Greek Gigantes and Czar) have done very well. I’ve even had mini melons.

Of the grains, the rye remains the winner. It consistently grows big heads with four rows of seed which are easy to thresh and winnow. The Red Lammas wheat less so, with fewer seeds that are more difficult to extract. I don’t think I’ll grow it again. The black barley grew very quickly, but even when threshed and winnowed it retains a hard husk, which I don’t know how to remove. I will grow a patch again, just to keep it going because if I ever get chickens it would be an easy-to-grow winter feed. I’ll try quinoa again, even though it’s time consuming extracting the tiny yellow grains.

We’ve had some vandalism at the bottom allotments which is always unsettling – teenagers smashing greenhouse windows. We’re between two of the most challenged areas of town so break-ins and vandalism sadly remain inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

As ever Doubting Dick comes knocking once in a while, asking me wtf I’m doing spending so much time scrabbling about on this clay hill. Nevertheless, it remains a place of peace and healing, and I have to take credit for creating it. Each year it becomes slightly more productive and less labour intensive, which is what permaculture is all about.

Seed processing kit


The other Ranch:

I don’t really like writing about work, but I have to do it in order to sing the praises of the wonderful people who are keeping the NHS afloat.

Nothing much has changed this week. We’re still overwhelmed and short-staffed.

I’m on with Ann Carlin one day. She was my ticket agent for the Salford gig, and she did a splendid job. I’m coordinating in the morning, but later, I hand over to Smithy, then do brief spells in the escalation area and minors. Each time, Carlin is there. In minors I joke ‘Do you come here often?’ ‘Only in mating season.’ She quips. That’s what I’ll miss the most – the wit, the repartee.

One of the things that works magnificently well at our place is the way that we work with Primary Care (= General Practice). For a start we have three very experienced GPs who do weekly Emergency Department shifts with us. Their contribution is invaluable. We also have GPs working in the department and streamers at the front door who direct suitable patients to see the GP.

Out in the community, our Ageing and Complex Medicine colleagues do magnificent work with care homes.

I therefore have to stand in 100% solidarity with my GP colleagues over their latest unhelpful bashing by Sajid Javid and the moron press. After my last rant, I resolved to try and stop using swear words but I really can’t help myself. This vile odious prick knows NOTHING about health care. He was chairman of Deutche Bank FFS before becoming a politician. His appointment is nothing more than a career-hop up the ladder for him. Get the fucker out. Now.

Be a rainbow in someone else's cloud


The biggest scapegoats during the pandemic are care home workers. They were completely fucked over when Prickcock discharged hundreds of infected patients from hospitals back to care homes. Many of them got sick and died as a result and hundreds of residents died. Some people refer to it as euthanasia and the use of Midazolam has come under scrutiny.

Care home workers were also fucked over by completely pointless vaccine passports. Care work is gruelling and poorly paid and workers are an easy target because they have few rights due to the ad hoc nature of the work. Many care homes are now closing due to the govt’s vile fuckery, resulting in even more pressures on Emergency Departments.

The next big scapegoat group is GP’s and I share their outrage at the foul billiard-ball-headed buffoon’s suggestion that they get more locums. There are no locums pricktard. They’ve either already fucked-off or are already working. No one has worked harder than GPs during this shit show so leave them alone. The reason that there aren’t appointments is that they’re over-stretched, under-funded and on the edge of being completely fucked and burned out, just like the rest of front-line staff.

Gig and me chez nous - vive la lion d'or


Talking of outrage, I have to hold my hand up and once again confess to to being a hot-headed gobshite.

If something is blatantly wrong, like it was at the old place with all that awful bullying, then inevitably, out of a hundred people, only one will speak up and it’s always me. A few times someone has said to me ‘You said what everyone else was thinking’.

When I left, I was on cloud nine. I was doing enough locums to survive and enjoying life to the full. NOTHING would ever possess me to take a Good Job, Proper Job again.

What happened next is documented in the book so I’m not going to repeat it. There was only one reason, or should I say person for going back.

The same gracious wise, witty person is the one who diplomatically points out that I can come across as a complete arse in some of my rants (although he doesn’t use that expression obvs).

I’m talking specifically about the car parking incident. He points out that our 45 quid a month parking fee was waived during the pandemic. I got that bit wrong – I thought we’d starting paying it again. I never ever look at my wage slips. He also points out that the people running car parks are just ordinary low-paid people doing their best. Fair enough. I’ve always stood up for the under-dog and hate to think that I can come across as dissing them.

I have to reiterate that I’ve never worked at a finer more well-organised hospital.

Insects adoring the ivy


When I was fighting the bullies at the old place, Louise pointed out that if I wasn’t careful, I’d end up completely on my own. That’s when I wrote Letter Writer and Mr Perfect. Letter Writer documents my challenge to the status quo:

Hippocratic dance, I never stood a chance.
Hippocritic farce, lying and stealing while people are dying.
Histrionic ponce, I told you once,
Writing all those letters will get you into trouble.
Blow, blow, blow whistle-blow.

Mr Perfect says:

Kicking down every bridge.
Pissing on all the chips.
Throwing all those sticks and stones.
Heading for an empty home and Oh Mr perfect, can’t you see,
That your kind of perfection can never, never be.

My most self-reflective oeuvre to date is STOP, which goes:

Oh your fuckwit fancies and your crappy little dreams
And your twatty temper tantrums and your impossible demands
And your stomping and a stamping and acting like a dick
Being a c*nt.

I admit that when I make a major decision, I have a self-destructive knack of pissing on my chips and burning my bridges. That’s the way it is. I can’t undo it.

Shadz points out that I have a unique skill-set that I should be passing on and he’s right, so I’m not done yet.

I chair my last consultants’ meeting on Friday. Superficially, it’s thoroughly convivial and goes smoothly. Underneath, I’m emotionally exhausted and I fall asleep as soon as I get home.

Digging out


In pandemic land, I have to point out that I know loads of double-vaccinated people who are completely well. I’m also hearing of lots of adverse events which aren’t reported in the mainstream and I’ve never known of a medical intervention with so many. Most of Scandinavia has restricted or banned the Moderna vaccine.

The AIDS epidemic led to lots of research on the human immune system. In particular, I remember a story of a man who, despite being very sexually active never caught HIV. The research on his immune system led to invaluable advances. I wish we’d done the same with C19, but sadly the value of natural immunity has been largely ignored by the medical profession.

I remain vehemently opposed to the vaccination of children with a compound that has no long-term safety data whatsoever.

In AIDS, it took a long time to correlate the incidence of rare infections and cancers such as Pneumocystis pneumonia and Kaposi’s sarcoma with depleted CD4 cells. I’m starting to hear stories of a similar phenomenon in double vaccinated people relating to CD8 cells. For example cases of Molluscum Contagiosum in adults, which is a benign viral skin infection normally only infecting children. There’s no research that I can find so I hope it’s not true.

In surreal land, there are tussles between the Knobs with Knowledge, Dicks who dare and The Wankers who won’t. Watching Slobber and Porky is like a never-ending mushroom trip. Thank goodness for the Buddhists reminding us that nothing is permanent.

Red perillo


At home, my wife and bird are having one of their little art sessions. Louise is painting some slightly grotesque looking figures and Tricia is painting a bright yellow background. Louise still won’t allow me to share her artwork. ‘I don’t want anyone else seeing it’.

With their blonde bobs, they look like sisters and remind me of infants at a school art class. I think of wearing my All my favourite birds are gingers teeshirt to wind them up. The innocence ends though when they open their mouths – especially Louise’s coruscatingly hilarious political incorrectness. We hear of an individual whose head is inappropriately sized for their body and much worse.

I read Tricia the paragraph that I wrote for Judith and there are tears. We hug each other.

She points out that we can’t chose our families but we chose our friends. She and Judith were best of friends and she’s particularly hard hit. 

Gig brings a couple of her cool Dutch friends over. They’re interested in my record label and want to see where we record our records. They buy a few and I take them up to the ranch. They explain that it’s exciting for them, because every where’s flat in Holland. 



Rock & Roll:

… has taken a surprising pleasant turn. I’ve accidentally become a folk-twat and it’s not as bad as I thought.

The Monday of my new beginning was surreptitiously my birthday. I had the choice of slobbing in my chair and getting pissed or going out. There was zilch on offer from the fam, but Shadz had invited me to Bacup Folk Club, which is located at Rosemount Working Men’s club in Stacksteads. People get up and do three songs each.

I hate playing on my own, but I decided that it was time to push myself out of my comfort zone. I rehearsed 3 songs and despite my shaking nerves, I got through them. Shadz had kindly given me a lift so I could chill afterwards. I played my Gretsch through our home-made 5 watt valve amp and it sounded great. A couple of other guitarists played through the amp and liked it.

Over the next week, I played three more times at folk nights and open-mic nights, doing twelve of my songs in total (apart from two rockabilly covers at The Golden Lion with Tyler on a snare drum and cymbal). I’m nowhere near repeating myself.

The final time was back at Bacup Football Club, where this time it was acoustic only. People sit round in a circle and take turns. Gaz came and played the semi-acoustic Hofner Verithin. Previously, to do that would have been punishment for a serious crime for someone like me, but I got through it and a couple of people said that my voice projected well. Encouraging stuff.

Each time, Shadz gave me a lift, so it turned into a splendid birthday week. Thanks Shadz. On the first night, I was dead shy, but I soon got talking to people and got a lot of nice comments and encouragement and met some great folk. There are a lot of fellow musos, mavericks and questioners amongst them and everyone is made to feel welcome. On the strength of my performances, I got invited to play at a couple of festivals and I’ve already got a few gigs lined up. Tyler, bless him has played drums with us for the last 3 gigs, but we can’t expect him to do it for ever – he has his own bands, so once again Gaz and I are drummerless. We might see how we get on as a 2-piece.

Rosemount WMC crochet action


I love Rossendale. After Notsensibles split, I went out with Alice Nutter and through her, I met a whole bunch of Rossendale people and I hung out there for a few years. I like all the secret little back roads. Tom (Winstanley) and I became best of friends and we played in a two-piece band, doing lots of gigs, transported in my old Morris Minor van, which he was insured to drive. We went to the last Stonehenge free festival in it.

One of the many Rossendale Phils (Gleave) comes over and has a look at the ranch. He agrees that we could never have a proper festival as such, but we could have a gathering ‘with entertainment’. He has a wealth of experience in the organising of festivals, stages, etc.

On Saturday night, Sam and I got invited to Rose’s party in Waterfoot – she’s one of our new muso friends, a great singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.

The highlight of it all was the second night at the Rosemount. It’s also crochet club and Sharon Doolin and three other girls were quietly crocheting using balls of brightly coloured wool. One of them, Sarah, is a splendid singer with an unusual deep voice so every time it was her turn, she put down her crochet and picked up her guitar. I just found it so sweet and quaint.

Onwards and upwards.