Cracked it!

This morning I finally made the perfect espresso. I had set the grinder too fine.

espresso cup


The perfect espresso

Taste is subjective, but there is in most people’s minds a quality to coffee that can be agreed upon. Strength might be quantified on supermarket packets, but that only tells half the story. Flavour is key. Flavour without strength is disappointing, whereas strength without flavour does not tick the essential box for drinkability.

The smooth flavour has been achieved with my new coffee maker, but the espresso lacks the intensity of strength that I crave as a hardened caffeine addict. I will try just using M&S Italian Roast when I next have to refill the grinder.

Don’t get me wrong, I am drinking at least two cups at home these days before I head off to work. The lack of kick might be sensible if I want to remain calm on the highway, but I will not rest easy until the results are optimised…there is a perfect espresso within my grasp and I’ve got to have it!

Food Bank

The season of excess fast approaches. Most families will gather around the telly to fill their faces with chocolates, crisps, peanuts, vol au vents and crudités. On those same television sets will appear ads from charities with their Christmas appeals.

How much will we spend on presents, food and booze this Christmas? Plenty is the average spend, but how big are our charitable donations? Small to zero would be my guess. Certainly based on my own woeful track record.

food bank

A colleague at work has organised a collection for a local food bank. This seemed like a very easy way to do some good, so I have made my contribution. Maybe I should consider spreading the love a bit further afield. Refugees will be  shivering this winter and the usual agencies will be urging us to dig deep to provide food and clothing for them.

Espresso or Nespresso?

I have bought myself an early Christmas present. A bean-to-cup coffee maker.

coffee maker

I’m impressed with the coffee it delivers accompanied by whirring noises and a preliminary cleaning rinse.I had heard that the Nespresso machines make good coffee, but there’s something about buying your own beans, selecting how fine you want them ground and making your own cappuccino with your own choice of milk. Choices that you don’t get if you use capsules.

The new toy comes apart very easily to keep it clean and recycle the compressed coffee discs. There’s even an Eco button to switch off automatically when not in use.

To accompany the good coffee I have bought ready made pastry that rolls out cinnamon swirls and pain au chocolat.

Literature and Mental Health

I like a MOOC. One of the courses I dipped into examined the effects of literature on mental health. People benefited from reading or listening to the written word to ease their troubles.

A researcher at Warwick University asked if I would be willing to read a poem a day for ten days. Of course, I agreed. Daily emails bring me that day’s poem. I merely have to read it. No feedback required so far, and I have reached Day Six. Yesterday’s poem was by R.S. Thomas, a Welshman mocked for his English accent, who wrote beautifully succinct poems.

I read one of his poems at an open mic night on St David’s day a few years ago. He and his wife lived in austere circumstances in their senior years, and he had the craggy features of a man who has experienced much in life. My own pudgy visage displays no such character, but then I have a painting in the attic to do my suffering for me.

One of the daily poems was by Thomas Hardy and had a man and a woman in a carriage in the rain. A romantic poem speculating what might have happened if the rain had lasted a bit longer. I favour brevity and have yet to finish Larkin’s poem that runs into seven or eight verses. I vaguely remember it in any case.

I’m not sure how or if my mental health has been affected by the readings. Reading has always been a calming activity for me, even the newspaper can draw me into the thoughts of others and let me lose myself in their words.


£4 is a small price to pay for a wide range of things…a pint of beer, a really good sandwich, a bicycle inner tube, a one day bus pass, a Sunday paper or some socks. I chose to lavish my pounds on boosting a facebook post.

This was not some weird, egotistical adjunct to my blogging activities, but another crack at marketing my website

Tailoring my promotion to reach the inhabitants of English speaking nations over 18 years old, I hope to attract some interest from the type of people who are not short of £37.50 for some top notch proofreading. 24 hours should do it, and not break the bank.