Category Archives: home improvements

Food, Food – – –

Jack will still post as Wendy takes a break – –

I’m not sure when I got interested in cooking – maybe around when Wendy and I got married.


Growing up in a Northern European country meant food was just fuel to keep you going. So it wasn’t until I first traveled to Southern Europe with my band that I really discovered what a meal could be, the varieties of food to be savored and dinner as a social gathering.


I had already, though, discovered curries as Indian restaurants multiplied throughout Scotland.


All of that got me interested in discovering discovering new dishes and re-discovering old ones.


Some of the old ones –


  • Fish n’ Chips – The secret is to fry in lard and to fry the chips three times at ever increasing temperatures.
  • Steak pie – boil the steak for a long time and put Bisto in the gravy.
  • Steak bridie – same as the steak pie.
  • Sausage rolls – the secret is to make your own sausage filling and use real breadcrumbs.
  • Shepherd’s pie – try to get fresh peas.


Some of the new ones –


  • I discovered how Indian restaurants make a big batch of basic curry sauce and I do that all the time now.
  • Finding by trial and error the different roasting times for vegetables.
  • Baking fish in foil.
  • Experimenting with overnight marinades, particularly for chicken tikka.
  • Using an outdoors charcoal grill.


Wendy is the baker, and her specialties are cookies, breads and desserts.


Just some of the things we get up to during lock-down!




Filed under between books, Big Stone Gap, home improvements, Life reflections, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch

Revolutionary Thoughts – – –

Jack easily makes it in time again – –

I really don’t want to write anything about Covid 19 so last week I wrote about my wee parlor guitar. This week it’s about a different and equally beloved piece of musical equipment –


Many years ago I had a hankering for a wind-up gramophone (phonograph over here). So Wendy announced before one Christmas that we were going on a trip. She had done some research and found a gentleman who collected and sold ‘old technology’. He lived in a big old mansion house south of Edinburgh and he welcomed us graciously when we arrived.

The basement area was a warren of passages and side rooms that were probably originally cold storage for food etc. Each room had a different kind of ‘stuff’ – radios, TVs (including mechanical Baird Televisors), Medical equipment, telephones, scientific instruments – and on and on!

Eventually we reached the room with gramophones. Everything from old cylinder machines to 1960s Dancettes.

I had already gathered a fair collection of old 78 rpm records, everything from old Scottish traditional performers to Glenn Miller. But I wanted the kind of machine they were intended to be played on.

We chose a lovely old HMV machine and agreed a price. The gentleman then insisted on giving us a free box of needles too (I still have most of them).

For any readers not familiar with these machines – the turntable is driven by a powerful spring which is wound tight by the handle on the side. The needle picks up the sound vibrations and a diaphragm makes them audible, then feeds the sound to a horn. In my gramophone the horn is built in and opens behind two doors on the front. The doors are, effectively, the volume control. There are two levers beside the turntable, one controls the speed of rotation and the other is a brake which turns the rotation off or on. There’s no electricity involved at all.

The great thing is that my old 78s sound exactly as they should.

I often wonder about the previous owners, what they played on it and whether it had pride of place in their houses – I like to think it did, just like here!


Filed under between books, crafting, folklore and ethnography, home improvements, Life reflections, Scotland, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch