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Easter bank holiday

This Easter bank holiday has been a bit of a quiet one. It always throws many of us off because we have both Friday, and Monday off which is a rarity. We tend to panic because we think we have to go back to work. We double check what we’re supposed to do, and then some of us go back to bed. While others will get up because it’s a thing of habit.

Most of the day is spent wondering what we should be doing. Especially if one doesn’t have anything planned. We’re creatures of habit, and often when things change, we either panic or feel lost. Often, I feel lost, and I feel guilty when I’m not staying busy. However, this bank holiday weekend was different. I stayed calm, and didn’t feel guilty about not staying busy. I played some games, ate some vegan takeaway, and read more of my book.

My wife also had a similar experience. She is often keeping herself busy with work and her side-hustle. However, her side-hustle has been quiet which has allowed her to give herself some much needed “me” time. I’m proud of her, and I’m glad she was able to take some time off without feeling guilty.

Bank holiday weekends are great for a little reset and “me” time. A double bank holiday can work absolute wonders for the mind, body and soul. We both needed this, and I hope everyone else enjoying this bank holiday feels similar.

The one time I felt like Batman

This is a story I haven’t told many people but I feel I need to get it out there now. My wife and I go to a beer fest in St Austell called “Celtic Beer Fest” at St Austell Brewery. We went for about 2 years, and the third year we decided to bring my mother-in-law.

We all had a great time, and the live bands were awesome. I remember playing a random game of rock, paper, scissors in the toilets while waiting, and I used the 🤟 hand for rock. Everyone, including myself was confused but we had a great laugh about it. It was pretty hilarious.

After lots of beers, and enjoying the music, we decided to head home. We took the train there so we headed back to the station. While waiting, we were talking to each other, and I noticed this drunk elderly guy. He was walking toward the edge of the platform and went to turn around. As he turned around, he lost his balance and fell backward onto the tracks.

We all saw, and tried to get him to move toward the platform. However, he was in shock and complete disarray. He was sat there for a good five minutes just looking around and not doing anything.

This is when I decided to take action!

I looked both ways to make sure there were no trains coming. The adrenaline and booze rushing through my veins! I jump down and help him get back up onto his feet. Then, I help him toward the platform and push him back up. The surrounding people help to pull him up, and once he got back up on the platform, they helped to get me back up.

I felt like a real-world superhero, and to this day, I still do. Batman is my true hero because he has no super powers and save people. At the time, I was wearing a batman hoody, and I really felt my inner Batman come out.

After the incident, I had to give a statement alongside my mother-in-law and wife. We were all in shock and surprise but the train came shortly after and the night was over. A part of me was hoping it would be in the local newspaper or on the internet somewhere but unfortunately, it wasn’t. C’est la vie.

A war on ants

As the days get warmer, and we stop fighting seasonal affective disorder (SAD). There’s a new battle that begins, and it’s not a battle with our own selves or emotions but a battle with nature. Ants.

Ants are lovely and helpful insect except when they’re taking over your kitchen and scuttle around the floors and sides. My wife and I have tried everything from putting powder and traps outside to making the kitchen spotless. So far, none of this works, and we’re not sure how or if we won it this time last year.

We keep going through the same motions of pulling out the cooker and washing machine to clean up anything that fell down. We also make sure there are no filthy dishes left on the side or food in our kitchen food caddy. However, they still want to come in and raid our kitchen.

The Roman Empire

Casey Neistat covers this beautifully in his YouTube video titled “A war on ants”. (Yes, I did still his title. Please don’t sue me! 🙈)

Basically, he says that no matter how many you kill and how often you think you’ve won the battle, you haven’t. They’ll keep coming back for more, and you are literally fighting a losing battle. He brings out a book on Rome to (I assume) find out how they were beaten so he could use the same techniques to beat the ants in his home.

His situation is a lot worse than mine. However, the process is very similar. Pin down the ant’s nest, cover it in powder and hope it kills all of them. If it doesn’t, then that probably wasn’t the nest, or there’s another nest elsewhere, and no, they have bred out of control.

Last year, we also had the issue of them coming into the front room from outside. I remember working from home and feeling them walking on my feet and legs. I would look down and see these black insects crawling all over me. I’d brush them off, look around to see where they’re coming from and not being able to figure it out. They were always so dispersed that I didn’t know where they came from. I poured some powder on the outside wall near the place I sit. Did it work? Did it heck!

False sense of security

You think you’ve won the battle as they start to drop down in numbers, but you definitely haven’t won the war. They go back to their nest and hibernate until it gets warm again. This time next year, we’ll be going through the same motion, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Lay more traps, get more ant dust, and pray to whoever you believe they’ll disappear soon. 🙏

Goodbye March, Hello sweet April 2021

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What happened in March?

Tiff and I started our “March for March” pretty strong, but we lost motivation after a couple of unfortunate weeks. Not a lot happened after that, if I’m honest. I have been hard at work with blog posts, started 100 posts in 100 days challenge, and working hard on my weekly newsletter.

What I’m looking forward to

The days are starting to get lighter. We’ve now entered British Summer Time (GMT+1), and things are looking more positive. Lockdown is easing, and we’ll soon be able to visit friends, families and other people. We can now visit 5 other people outside, which is a great start.

I look forward to seeing my mum and going out to restaurants. The weather is getting better, and the days are warmer. The outset is starting to look much more positive, and I can’t wait to see what April holds.

Last months blog posts

What’s in store for April

We don’t have any plans for April, maybe as things start easing, we can start to make plans.

What are your plans for this month? Have you got anything you’re really excited about? Let me know in the comments below. 🔽

Roasting unroasted coffee beans – Continued…

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Yesterday, I attempted to roast some unroasted coffee beans that I accidentally purchased. I also received a coffee roaster from Amazon and attempted a fourth roast. Here’s how the whole process went, and my thoughts on the final attempt.

Fourth roasting attempt (here we go!)

The machine we purchased is a little standalone device that can sit on your kitchen side. You can set a temperature from 0C to 240. When you switch it on, the arms start rotating to help give the beans a more even roast. For those that are interested in what temperature I used during this roast, I put it at 200C. I want to try another batch at 160C and see how that goes because I felt like 200C was roasting them too quickly.

There’s a lot of steam coming off because the beans are wet. You need to remember to open a window or two and turn on an extractor fan if you have one. I was mesmerised by the beans spinning around and slowly changing colour. However, I kept feeling light-headed because the beans are letting of CO2 as they roast. This is another reason why you should open windows and use an extractor fan. Breathing in all the CO2 can cause you to become light head and possibly make you faint. BE CAREFUL!

Getting rid of the thin shells (or paper bits)

Once you have finished roasting, this will leave you with some beautifully roasted beans and these tiny shells. The little shell bits are thin and can blow in the wind. A friend on Twitter showed me how he roasts his beans, and in his video, he has his process for getting rid of them.

He takes two bowls and puts all the beans in one of the bowls. He will then go outside and pour the beans from one bowl to another. I tried his technique, and despite losing a couple of beans, it worked out really well. I had two batches that I needed to do this process. However, I left the second batch on the side, and my wife came up with another technique.

She places the beans inside a colander and keeps shaking them around until all the shells move through the holes. It seems like a better process since there’s less chance of losing any beans in the process.

Finishing up

Today, I had two brews using the coffee I roasted on the roasting machine. It’s a smooth medium blend with caramel notes. There was no raw taste which means the beans were definitely fully roasted, unlike the batch from yesterday. The grind is also a lot darker than yesterday’s batch.

Final verdict

They taste a lot better, and they’re very smooth. I’ll be keeping this little roasting machine, and I’ll experiment with different temperatures and lengths of time until I get a roast I’m 100% happy with. As my roasting experience improves, I will keep updating the blog with more posts for anyone who might be interested in following along.

It’s funny how this started off as a happy accident because I accidentally purchased unroasted beans from Rave. Rave are also a great company who sell roasted and unroasted beans. I just happened to click on unroasted and forgot to read the description. 🤦‍♂️

If you enjoy reading this article, please feel free to follow me on WordPress, my newsletter, or Twitter. I look forward to seeing you here tomorrow.

Roasted coffee beans

Roasting unroasted coffee beans

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On Monday, I ordered some coffee beans from Rave Coffee. To my surprise, they were green and unroasted. When purchasing these beans, I had no idea what I ordered, which isn’t like me when I’m buying coffee beans.

First roasting attempt

Yesterday morning, I decided to try and roast a batch in my oven. I set my oven to 200C and kept a close eye on them. I read that you need to listen out for a popping sound to signify a light roast. A second popping sound means it’s now a dark roast.

However, this didn’t go to plan, and I couldn’t hear any popping sounds. It might have been because of the oven fan or because I was feeding my cats, and there was a lot of noise. Also, it might have been because of the fact they weren’t in there long enough. The whole situation wasn’t perfect, and I was playing a big guessing game.

Some beans looked very dark, while others seemed very light and possibly under-roasted. I thought that overall, it would have been okay, but it wasn’t. I had my second coffee using this batch of roasted beans, and it was pale and tasted like the beans weren’t fully roasted.

Second roasting attempt

For my second roasting attempt, I decided to use a large frying pan on a hob and see how it would fair. It seems to have worked a lot better than placing them in the oven. I used a smaller batch, and it seemed to cook through without burning.

Third roasting attempt

I still had beans leftover from the second batch, so I tried to put them in the oven again at a lower temperature of 150C. The outside looked a lot better, and the beans maintained an even roast. However, I still don’t think it quite got to the middle enough, and they still smell undercooked which is unfortunate.

Fourth roasting attempt

Today, I will attempt a fourth roast but using a coffee roasting machine purchased from Amazon. We’ll see how it goes, and I’ll keep you updated on the process. Hopefully, I will maintain a better, more equal roast, but we’ll see.

Conclusion

So far, I haven’t done very well when it comes to roasting beans. However, I’m keeping a positive attitude, and I’m hopeful the next batch will fair a lot better. I’ll write another post to show how my process went with the fourth and fifth batches.

If you enjoy reading this article, please feel free to follow me on WordPress, my newsletter, or Twitter. I look forward to seeing you here tomorrow.

Image for "Personal challenge". This image has a stack of perfectly balanced rocks in the foreground. In the background there's a waterfall surrounded by green grass.

Personal Challenge: 100 Posts in 100 Days

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I watched Noah Kagan’s “The law of 100”, aka “How to stick to your goals and routines. It got me thinking that I should give myself a personal challenge. Create 100 blog posts in 100 days consecutively.

I have already created three blog posts in a row (this will be the fourth), so I’m off to a good start before I’ve fully started my challenge. However, I will start it from this post, so I should have a 103 streak on WordPress. (For those that don’t know, WordPress give you streaks and achievements to keep you motivated).

I did something similar a few years ago where I tried to create a post every day of the year. Unfortunately, after around three months, things happened, and I stopped my stream of posts. I believe this time will be different since 100 posts are definitely more achievable. Also, it means that I will be pushing the total amount of posts to over 300, which is apparently a milestone to reach. I read it on a WordPress ebook that says websites with over 300 blog posts are somewhat favoured in the algorithms. I have no idea how true this is since no one knows how search engines truly work.

If you want to join in, then please feel to post away. It has to be at least 1 post a day, and you need to make it to 100 days. Let’s go!

From today, UK lockdown is easing

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In the UK, we can now meet up to five other people, which is a good start. I personally don’t have five-plus friends nearby, so I’m not worried about breaking the law. 😂

However, it does mean the start of lockdown easing, and it’s one step closer to gyms finally opening up. I can’t wait to step back into my CrossFit gym and get back to being fit and healthy. It also means I get to socialise with similar people.

Hopefully, things won’t get to a point where we have to go back into another lockdown, and we can eventually see family members in their homes. I’m dying to see my mum, and she is heading straight down as soon as she can. Fingers crossed, they can keep things flowing at a steady pace, and we can get most of the country vaccinated more quickly.

What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on the government easing lockdown? Do you think it’s too soon? Too quick? Or not quick enough?

WordPress Stories

WordPress Stories are now public!

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WordPress stories are now public, and I have already posted a couple. I’m still not 100% sure what the plan is. It seems to make it easier to create concise posts with little substance.

They say it’s best for recipes or a bunch of swipe cards. I guess on that merit, I’m not fully utilising the feature, and I might try to build out a story as a swipe card story and see how that goes. Maybe a story version of my Getting started with Twitter Spaces blog post could be helpful. 🤔

My last post was asking people their thoughts on WordPress stories. However, it got 0 responses. That’s slightly unfortunate, but I would still love to ask my readers the question…

What are your thoughts on WordPress Stories?

You don’t have to answer, but I would love to know. If you enjoyed this post, please follow me or subscribe to my weekly newsletter below.

ALTERN8Devon reaches their 1 year live stream anniversary

ALTERN8Devon are my kind of people. They DJ rock and metal music at pubs and clubs in Devon. I first heard these guys DJ at The Cavern and John Gandy’s in Exeter during New Years 2019/2020. They were awesome, and my wife and I had a great evening.

We wanted to see them again but 2020 was a shitshow. This time last year they decided to start streaming their DJ sets live at 9pm a few times a week. I’ve popped in when I can and always enjoy the chat between them and the viewers. They put on a great show, choose great music and take requests from their listeners.

Overall, they are quality and deserve a larger audience. If you’re into rock and/or metal and looking to join a group of likeminded people then I recommend you check them out. They stream at 9pm GMT (soon to be GMT+1). I really hope they keep going with the streams, and they gather a larger support group.

Check them out and give them a follow!