Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Radio Plug

The promotional boulder we are pushing is slowly starting to move, with an appearance on the Becky Want Show for BBC Radio Manchester. To be honest it wasn't a great interview - although I did look rather good in my new clothes. It was strange though to walk ino a building and see Gordon Burns walking past, followed not long after by Dave Spikey.

There is a definite need to work on my media technique, having spent most of the last year behind a PC and becoming a bit reclusive. I suppose it doesn't help if you dont really watch t.v. either, perhaps I should ask my friend Coleen for some pointers.

Toys and Tales in Bramhall have sold a couple of books and said that the book was read out during storytime and was well received. Of of the parents who bought The Hairy Plug Monster was really enthusiastic and gave a glowing report to the bookstore.

Banks Lane Infant School have invited me to do a reading to the children on Thursday October 8th at 14.30 so it will give me a good chance to read the follow up The Hairy Plug Monster Goes to Town.

It seems that my luck is starting to change again after winning tickets on XFM radio to see " HOCKEY" play live at the Academy, unfortunately it is also Arisha's birthday so it looks like my brother is going to be benefitting from my success as I will be up to my eyeballs in cake mixture.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

buy my book - its ace

My interview with BBC Radio Manchester has been rescheduled for next Tuesday, which should hopefully give me a bit more time to prepare. Since I turned my back on office work and spoon feeding the general public with information, I had let myself slip into a tradesman's look, with unkempt hair and slightly dubious fingernails.

This kind of look, however, does not endear me to Headteachers and Shopkeepers, so I have voluntarily swapped my cut off jeans for proper trousers, and cement crusted t-shirts with curious aroma's for cotton shirts

. In short, I have adopted a salesman kind of look ( only without the American straight white teeth) as I try to sell The Hairy Plug Monster to the shopkeepers of the world.

I think I have made a favourable impression with the staff at Borders, and managed to come to a deal with Woodsmoor Post Office, whereby they will put up an advert for the book inviting people to order it through them, and I just drop them off as and when. Because of the location, its only two minutes out of my life and with the slowly building publicity at Great Moor Infant School they may get a lot of parents coming in to buy it.

The second edition of The Hairy Plug Monster is now listed on Amazon 5.99, with a great review even if there is no picture to go with it. I am still trying to get my head around the vendor side of e-commerce, although given time and a few fulfilled orders I expect I will become a dab hand at it.

In the real world, we are slowly getting more and more stockists, but it all seems agonizingly slow ( even though it has only been week for the 2nd edition) hopefully I will look back on this time with fond memories when I remember having time to write a blog. ( As I will be too busy doing writer "stuff") -

Buy my book !! it's ace.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hairy Plug Monster Himalyan Balsam and Oat Biscuits.

Around about this time of year, scores of well meaning Sunday Warriors put on their wellies and head for the countryside with a single malicious intent.


I have often been tempted to join then, but have always found something else better to do with my time, after all. its not an easy task

Impatiens Glandilifera to give it its proper name, is an aggressive wildflower that is slowly but surely overpowering the indigenous flora.

Helped by it's powerful seed dispersal system that causes the pod to explode when the seeds are ready, launching the seeds over a fairly large distance. Even now, as I approach my forties - I still get the same pleasure when I trigger one of these pods - just as I did when I was a boy.

Attempts at slowing down the spread of Himalayan Balsam seen ineffective and as a former landscaper, the progress that the "Balsam Bashing Hoodies" make is pitiful and even over that last few years, the spread in my "neck of the woods" has been quite alarming.

However, during this year I have become more aware of wild foods that are growing around us and regularly venture out with my daughters to harvest what ever we can find, to take home and sample. When I am unsure, I will get a plant ident from about four separate sources on google so I can find out its properties, and when I am totally satisfied that the plant is edible - I will try some.

Sometimes we get lucky and discover something that is both edible and more importantly, tasty.

One of my favourite web sites had link to a fellow forager who had published a recipe using Himalayan Balsam seeds as a base for a curry..... cool.

Yesterday was time to harvest. As quite a lot of the seed pods were ripe, Arisha gently bent the stem while I put a plastic bag over the flower head and collected quite a lot of seeds with relative ease. It wasn't long before it seemed like we had enough and went home.

The seeds looked like those tiny licorice IMPS they used to sell and when eaten raw, bore a really strong resemblance to a walnut in taste. After I had seperated the seeds from the rest of the pods I had about 200g of seeds which I then toasted in a dry frying pan.

They stayed on my kitchen top for a day, until late Sunday night, when I decided to experiment, and think I invented The Hairy Plug Monster Balsam and Oat Biscuit.

The whole process was quite lax, and the measurements are vague, but here goes:

Cream some butter with some sugar, then mix in some oats and plain flour with a pinch of salt.

Add the Balsam seeds and conbine the mixture into a firm ball.

Allow to rest in the fridge, before rolling out on a clean surface and cutting into small biscuits.

Bake in the oven at 200 for 15 minutes, turn the biscuits over and bake for another 5 minutes

Remove biscuits from the oven and allow to cool.

That is all you need to do - the result is a "hob-nobbishly" biscuit with a distinct nutty taste rather similar to seseme or sunflower seeds... ( if you cannot make head nor tail of my recipe, substitute it for a general biscuit one )

At a rough guess I probably used about 1000 seeds, so if everybody makes one batch of biscuits, it will take care of the balsam problem. More importanly though, the seeds will more than likely have the same nutritional properties as other seeds and it seems scandalous to destroy this free source of protein, instead of harvesting it and inhibiting the spread.

Balsam Bashing doesn't seem to work, but I think that if more people knew about the other properties then there may be a chance to protect the countryside, whilst at the same time make use of this invasive but tasty plant.

I would be interested to know what ideas other people come up with, I think that there is probably another two weeks before the season will finish, so I am going out again to harvest more seeds and come up with even more recipes.

One final note though, because at the end of the day Himalayan Balsam is invasive, please be careful where you discard the green waste. It is not advisable to put it in a compost bin.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Awesome, simply awesome - you should see the new edition of The Hairy Plug Monster Today was a rather hectic affair, we took delivery of 5000 copies of the second edition run of The Hairy Plug Monster and they look awesome. I cant praise the printers Stephens and George enough, who have produced a world class product. Without trying to sound too much like an "ebayer" I would recommend them to anyone who has aspirations to bring out a book. in fact anyone who needs any largescale printing done.

We have a larger format, better font and the finish on the front cover is to die for. Toys and Tales in Bramhall have become the first official stockist of the HPM and hopefully the first of many. Two more copies were dropped off at Pownall Green and Banks Lane Infant schools today, together with a covering letter about how I was a former pupil and how I would like to thank them for the time I spent there with a copy of my book....

Pownall Green especially, owe me one because when I was 11 together with a girl called Susan Champion, we won the Stockport Book Quiz and with it a copy of Hans Christian Anderson tales for myself and 200.00 worth of books for the school. In hindsight it probably ranks as one of my greatest academic achievements.

The hard work starts tomorrow in earnest with a new career change as a book promoter, to be honest I am slightly overawed with the whole thing. It would be nice to just write the buggers and let someone more capable than me do the silver tongue selling, but then it wouldn't be my publishing company.

I need to get hold of a list of book shops and schools and write to them one by one, extolling the virtues of the HPM and its rightful place in modern literature... Its just a question of getting the message out there,

On the plus side, I have managed to track down a really good friend who I have not seen since I left school, and while I have been flirting with the dregs of society (as well as being a good family man) she has got her head down and is now someone big at the beeb. So apart from renewing an old friendship, she might have some proper advice I can follow, rather than the badly written tutorials from other peoples blogs.

In fact considering I went to a state school, almost all the people I grew up around have gone on to be leaders in their own right with one thing and another. For instance one girl captained the England Hockey Team whilst another is on t.v. everyday advertising a phone company ( she was in my drama group as well - so I like to think that she may have got a little bit of her talent from me....not) - even my first love went on to be the hirer and firer at THE bake bean company.