Featured

My First Blog Post……..ever!

First things first, I’m very new to blogging, so as the last segment in the title to this blog suggests, this will be a work in progress as I learn the ‘art’.

First things first, I’m very new to blogging, so as the last segment in the title to this entire  blog suggests, this will be a work in progress as I learn the ‘art’.

I guess I could start by telling anyone who has landed on this page why I decided to start a blog…..well I guess the truth is i’m quite a social animal and love to talk, so what better  way to chat to a large audience than write it all down and put it out there. As we are all fundamentally flawed human beings there is also an element of catharsis to to writing this blog, so believe me when I tell you I fully intend to write about a huge range of subjects in the following pages, you will get everything from film reviews to my deep dark thoughts one day, and the next could be a one line joke entry, I’m just going to go with how I feel on the day and let nature take its course so there will be the odd rant in there too! I also reserve the right to be wrong now and again in my blog and most likely will be accidentally factually incorrect in some posts that follow this introduction.

I’m not a trained or experienced writer so don’t expect me to follow any common rules of grammer or spelling, but what I write will always be honest and truthful unless I state any posts is a work of fiction.

I guess now would be a good time to tell you a little about myself. My Name is Daniel, I live in Buckinghamshire in the UK. I’m somewhere near the halfway point between 40 and 50, I have 2 children and a wife and we all live together in a cosy cottage, and yes, I do feel blessed. When I’m not working I like running, horror books, cycling, DIY, learning (mainly about myself as a person at the moment), blogging (hmm maybe, we’ll see), cooking amongst other things. In a former life I was chef, now if you know any chefs you may well know that as a trade it never leaves you…go on, ask them, therefore in my mind I’m a chef who now works as a…. well more about that later…..I’m still trying to decide exactly how to format the blog so will be keeping some things back until the right time.

I hope this post was enough to plant a seed in your mind as to what I’m about, and also what some of the following posts will be about, if it sounds like the kind of blog you want to follow then subscribe now, if not, then a simple thanks for reading.

 

People just need to chill out…!

The Rat race, going with the flow or chasing the cash

The Rat race, going with the flow or chasing the cash, call it what you want but I call it both greedy and unhealthy. Sure, money is helpful and certainly necessary but an over reliance or addiction to ‘things’ and money will affect your health. Be it your physical health , mental health or the health of your relationships, they will eventually be affected negatively. Widespread capitalism across the world means that from government level downwards there is a massive pressure to put a monetary value on everything…EVERYTHING! If it moves it can be sold or traded for profit and that sucks!

I’ve reached a point in my life where I dread that my children will grow up and by default develop this habit and i’m determined to do what I can to prevent that happening, as they grow I plan to teach them the importance of happiness, mindfulness and rather than getting a ‘job’ a far better way to look at it would be to earn money by doing something they enjoy and are good at, and with that money enjoy your life , keep some back for emergencies, pay your bills and then donate a sum to charities.

Instead  of ‘buy..sell…buy…sell’, why not ‘help…give away…help…give away’, the constant battle to get ahead of your neighbours and thinking that the higher your bank balance will make you a better or more whole person is killing the human spirit and communities day by day. I heard on our local news the other day that a teenager had battered a 72 year old lady in order to steal her television to sell for £30 so they could take his girlfriend for a drink! What the hell! What stopped this guy asking his parents for that money, or heaven forbid he could have earned it somehow…..why not offer to clean up the yqard of that old lady or washing her bins and windows, the normality of ‘instant results’ meant he had to have it today…now and to do that he harmed another human.

There is so much I want to say about the case above, but family time means that I must end with a few other thoughts. Dont let the ‘rat race’ turn you into a dirty rat! Instead of settling for a dead end job, constantly look that opportunity to earn a living from doing something you love. Spend a few hours a day on mindfulness i.e. relaxing mentally. Regular physical exercise is great for mental health too, try cycling or walking for at least an hour a day. Spena few hours a day with your wife an family, together and one on one. Give to charities, you’ll feel much better for it. lastly combining all these characteristics into a daily routine will make YOU and YOUR immediate family happier and may even help you find your perfect calling, the job you were born to do!

Until next time……

Books can change your life

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, needs to read more books, especially the paper variety…

 

It doesn’t matter what genre of book you enjoy reading, or whether you prefer digital content or traditional paper books, they have the power to change and shape your life and thus reading should be encouraged from an early age.

I can very much remember the first ‘proper’ book I ever read, and the effect it had on me, that book was ‘Rats’ by the late King of UK horror, James Herbert, he showed me a genre of book totally different to anything I had ever seen previously, I was 14 at the time and my strict father and religious mother would have had quite a lot to say about me reading such a book at that age had they found out! Here is the story of how that book came into my possession….

I was a very shy and confused teenager at 14, I had no idea of what I wanted to do with my life and no idea about life in general. I hated talking to people as I wrongly assumed that they were judging me, I guess these things are normal for a teenager to feel but I was unaware of that fact at the time, as a result I had few friends and was kind of a recluse who hated going outdoors anywhere, so when my father came home one day and announced that him and I were to be taking a week away together and worse we would be sharing a twin room I was horrified. With his job and my attitude my father and I hardly spent much time together at all, my stomach dropped even further during the 3 hour drive to rural Wales and I have no words to describe the feeling when we pulled up at the bed and breakfast cottage, it was my idea of hell, nothing to do but country side and roses around the door etc.

During the stay I amused myself at the bottom of the cottages gardens after discovering a small wooded spinney with a river just behind it, I think I became a master stone spinner during that holiday, managing at least 6 bounces off the water per stone per throw.

One evening after a days moping around the lake and the grounds I was coming back from the shower when before dinner I noticed a door ajar to what looked like a well stocked office library, I went in for a closer look…..

… The point I realised I may get busted for entering an ‘off limits to guests’ area was the clearing of a throat behind me, not wanting to get into any serious trouble I grabbed the closest book I could and began to do the best Impression I could manage of someone studying it. The book I grabbed and sunk down with was called Rats by the great UK horror writer, James Herbert.

All these years later, I can still remember the feeling excitement as I read the first few pages of that book, it’s a feeling I still get with some books even to this day. Incidentally, going back to getting caught in the guest house owners private office turned out to be a non event as the cleared throat was from a guest heading to the showers themselves. I’m very ashamed to say that I took Mr Herberts publication with me without telling anyone when we left after the holiday as I hadn’t finished reading it, it had that much of an effect on me and I new there was no way I would be able to get a copy anywhere by myself, and there was no way I could ask my parents to get me one.

I remember that as soon as I finished the book I immediately re-read it a second time and enjoyed it even more, it still makes the hairs on my neck stand up to this day. I just love the settings (being a UK resident myself), I love the characters, the style of writing and the scares lol.

Thank goodness JH wrote a trilogy of that series, and a very little known 4th publication in a comic book style. So you have The Rats, Lair, Domain and The City. Of course there is many other titles available from JH and they follow the same style of writing, though in my opinion he went from gory horror to a more fantasy horror as he matured.

Maybe if you want a good scary read go find a battered copy of one of his books and enjoy the read.

Customer complaints, my top 5.

All customer complaints must be taken seriously and handled professionally , but…

Now let me say right at the top that I always handle customer complaints seriously and professionally, as a chef meals were replaced with no questions asked or free drinks were given, but that does not stop one filing them under the category “What the hell just happened”!?

I worked in many restaurant and banquesting estalishments and god knows how many tens or hundreds of thousands of meals I have served to happy customers, but coming down to a simple percentage of those there were customer complaints and demands for recompense, usually in the form of food or alcohol, here are my top 5 genuine complaints…..

5) “This beef is not beef…”
…..Errrm yes it Madam, this complaint came via a waitress bringing a plate of steak and sauce back to the kitchen. I mean what on earth are you suposed to say when someone blindsides you like that? Do you offer a replacement meal only to have it returned 10 minutes later with the same comment? Do you sent the waitress out or go out yourself to ask what they think it is in that case? Nope, you zip up your mouth and offer an alternative of prime lamb or fish that you have on the menu that day.

4) “Thisbeef  burger tastes too meaty….”
Another classic in at number 4! Another complaint that there really is no response to, just what can you say, ” Its a Beef burger sir, the dish is 75% beef, its going to have a meaty twang!?” Nope, as above, smile in the knowledge that you would easily win this argument should you stoop so low, and offer an alternative.

3) “This ice cream is too frozen….”
Common sense obviously evaded this customer for a few hours as he broadcast this loudly in front of a full resaturant, most likely he thought it would make him look ‘cool’ in front of his friends after a few too many glasses of wine or beer. More smiling as the offending frozen treat is removed and a free glass of wine placed in front of the customer.

2) “These chips are all different colours…..”
Ah, the delusional customer who’s idea of fine dining is taking their friends for a meal to a restaurant that is so Avant garde and experimental that they actually pay a single chef to individually cook chips one by one for thier customers and if they slightly differ in shade of golden brown from the previously cooked one they are discarded as impure and not fit for purpose. Errr nope, if that is the type of food you want I suggest a different establishment that will happily charge you five times what you have just paid for you and your wifes entire food and drinks bill for the one steak and frites your moaning about.

1)”My soup is too hot…”
A classic at number one, with the exception of cold soups, Gazpacho for example, any right minded individual expects Soup to be served hot…right? Well not this customer who made it to no.1 not just for misunderstanding what soup is, he actually picked his bowl and roll up and strode uninvited into the kitchen to bang his bowl down on the counter and shout to anyone who would listen that his “damn soup” was overheated. Luckily for the customer (since there were a few chefs who worked at that place that  would happily have inserted a sharp object into an orifice of this chap without a second thought) he was quickly escorted back to his table and suitably embarrassed family before any reply could be offered to him. Again, what do you do? A pro smiles and offers to replace his soup for a cooler bowl  and wipes the original from the bill or offers  a drink for the disgruntled customer to sip as they wait for their party to finish up that course.

As you learn in the food service sector “There’s nowt as funny as folk”

I hope you enjoyed these, more inane ramblings to come soon!

Running and me.

another subject that will probably crop up a lot in future blog posts will be my running hobby…

So another subject that will probably crop up a lot in future blog posts will be my running hobby. I’m never going to be a world record holder, nor have I reached full marathon distance…. Yet.

I came quite late to the running party, not starting till my early 40s but what I can say is that both physically and mentally it certainly helps me. Before I ran I was fairly uptight a lot and used to get stressed about work and other things, but nowadays I can handle things much better. The freedom I feel while outdoors and either road or cross country running is just soooo relaxing and invigorating, and it’s a great way to lose weight and get the heart pumping.

I began running on a treadmill at a local gym by chance one day and enjoyed it so much I downloaded and followed the ‘couch to 5k’ program, aka C25k, which is a 8 week long program to gradually build up from zero to being able to run 5k (3.1 miles) non stop, I finished this at the gym. However I soon became bored of the same old scenery indoors and a few weeks after finishing C25k I ventured out onto the road. I quickly discovered that road running is vastly different to treadmill running, one also has other factors such as the wind, hills and inclines on almost every road, road running also has the advantage that 20 minutes on the road is the equivalent of a longer treadmill run in terms of the calories burned.

Road and cross country running does require a little more outlay of cash with a good pair of trainers being a necessity if you’re looking to go a longer distance, also needed is a way to carry phone and water with you, such as a good hydration belt or a shower proof jacket with pockets. If you want to run at night or on darker evenings you will need a head torch, both to see and be seen, safety first guys n girls!

I’ve run in a few organised events over the last year, my favourite distance to challenge myself is a half marathon, 2hrs non stop running with like minded people is perfect, plenty of banter too, before, during and after. Hopefully I will be able to run further soon. Maybe I’ll see you down the road sometime?

That’s all time will allow me to write today. I’ll be back again soon.

So why the strange Blog title I hear you ask?

You may be asking why I named the blog “Accidents, Incidents Leaks and Smells?”
The answer is a story in itself and here it is…..

You may be asking why I named the blog “Accidents, Incidents Leaks and Smells”?

The answer is a story in itself and here it is…..

Some years ago I was cheffing in a large banqueting centre, it was one job I had that lasted nearly 10 years and I very much enjoyed it. Almost all other jobs I had had in the first 10 years of my career after college lasted roughly 18 months each before I bailed. The staff at this banqueting centre were a fairly mixed bunch but everyone seemed to ignore their differences in background and age and mostly everyone got along very well. I would say I made a few friends for life there, we had some great times both during work on shift and on social occasions after work, there will surely be some more stories about those days on this blog at a later date.

As with a great deal of catering establishments this one was run from a fairly small kitchen considering that we could (and often did) serve 3 courses and coffee to up to 400 people in one go. There were usually 3 chefs and one ‘washer upper’ (aka Kitchen Porter, KP or ‘suds guy’) on shift in the kitchen during a service (lunch service or dinner service etc for those uninitiated). Due to the size of the kitchen and amount of customers, the equipment was hammered, it was always treated very well but very heavily worked, the ovens, stoves, pots and pans and dishwasher were often used non stop for 18 hours a day, 7 days a week during a busy month and believe me when I tell you that stuff got broken, plates were smashed, cutlery bent, entire 40l saucepans were just lost or stolen (M.I.A as we used to say), we would go to the pan store for them and they would be gone!

Together with the range of ovens and stoves down the centre of the kitchen, along the back wall was the dishwasher, probably the hardest working piece of equipment in the kitchen which meant it took a lot of looking after. This thing was a giant, it measured about 4 metres in length and was 6 foot tall by 4 foot wide and was fully automated. All one had to do was load a large plastic tray with dirty plates, pans, cutlery or whatever you wanted washing, then push the tray  along some rails into the opening and the machine would pull the tray in and begin the cleaning cycle. Internally there were 4 sections to the machine which the tray would be pulled through. The first section would pre rinse the tray, hot water would spray at high pressure across everything, blasting the large pieces of food and grease from them, onwards the tray would then move to the second section which would spray hot soapy water onto the items in the tray, both from above and below, this part of the process took about 2 or 3 minutes which is ample time to clean the hardiest of dried on food with such hot, forceful, soapy water. Next the tray was pulled to the rinsing section which cleaned all the soap off, then finally as the tray exited the machine there was a hot air jet that dried everything off ready to be stacked back on the racking, this endless cycle of trays took about 6 minutes each from start to finish and could easily continue for 8 or 9 hours a day, day in and day out. As a result of this heavy workload the machine used to break down fairly regularly, and, during one busy hot summer it was going through a bad spell, it must have broken down in various ways 5 or 6 times in 3 weeks, everything from leaks, blockages in pipes to the water jets failing and shooting soapy bubbles out of the front of the machine and across the kitchen!

By chance I had some holiday booked during that summer which was just at the tail end of the machines month long rebellion. On my return from whichever spanish resort I had been to I was settling back into things one lunchtime session when the regular washer upper appeared, I shouted across the kitchen to ask how the dishwasher had been behaving while I was away, he thought for a split second and replied as nonchanantly as you like “Hmmm, yea, no accidents, incidents, leaks or smells….” , I told him right away “that is going to be the title of my autobiography!”. It was just such a perfect sentence to describe a lot of aspects of the catering industry. Since my autobiography has thus far failed to appear I decided to name the blog with that moniker instead.

Hope you enjoyed! More to come soon.