I’ve been surprised about how busy I’ve been since starting this blog. I don’t know why exactly, but, besides getting on with clearing my project backlog, I’ve found myself cleaning and organising practically every room in the house (very unlike me) and starting to do things like baking again (much to the detriment of my husband’s waistline…). I am wondering if finally doing what I’ve wanted to do for years is giving me a new lease on life? Or, perhaps, it could be the nervous-excitement of publicly sharing my blog for the first time and being afraid of running out of motivation, enthusiasm or, worse, things to write about… either way, it seems to be having somewhat of the desired affect!
Of the past four welding classes, I’ve unfortunately missed three. The first week I had a farewell event at work, the second week I wasn’t well, last Wednesday I was back again which was great, but I’ve been off again this week as I had a rather embarrassing and spectacular fall last Saturday outside Big W.
To admit the full story: we recently bought some proper roasted coffee beans from our local fruit/ veg/ deli shop so we could make a decent brew for our usual Saturday morning walk around the botanical gardens at Lake Wendouree. We have a coffee plunger at home, however, it was decided during the walk, that the coffee wasn’t hot enough (first world problems, I know) and a solution was needed. Most weeks after walking the dog, we take the furry fella for a wash at the local PETstock store (much easier than manoeuvring him into the bath at home, trying to keep him in there as he slips and slides on the enamel – even when there is a rubber mat – looking unhappy and occasionally attempting to get out before he’s been properly washed, and then spending 10 or 15 minutes afterwards wiping fur off the walls after he’s had a good shake!) So, I got it into my head that during the 20 minutes or so it would take for my husband to take the dog into the store, visit the bunny rabbits (compulsory on both the way in and the way out) and give him a bath, I would zip off and buy a stovetop coffee percolator.
Having just been walking at the lake through wet grass, sand, mud and swan poop, I was wearing my walking boots, which I love (pictured). I’ve had them about 5 years now and they’ve been one of the best practical shoe purchases I’ve ever made (besides my steel capped work boots, of course) and even came with me to the UK in 2012 when we went back briefly to visit my mother in law. Their one flaw is that they have hooks for securing the laces around the ankles which is great for putting them on quickly and firmly, but not so great when the lace from your opposite shoe gets caught mid-stride and you end up falling face first in the the dirt! Given that I’d had them at least 5 years and had been tripped up a handful of times in this way, you would think I’d have done something about this… not so, I’m afraid.
So, somewhat cognisant of this boot failing, I dashed off to the Good Guys on my mission. Unfortunately, their range was more electrically focused, so I popped around the corner to Big W, but the one they had wasn’t quite the right size. I decided that I had just enough time to try one more shop and shot off to the kitchen store in the Bridge Mall. Voila! I struck gold. Not only did they have what I wanted, but, they had four different brands so I got to choose. So, I bought a middle of the road 6 cup stainless steel Bodum percolator (pictured) which didn’t break the bank… plus I got a couple of free espresso glasses as a bonus. Happy days!
Feeling pretty chuffed with my purchase and the speediness in which it had been executed, I hurried back to the car. In a moment of spontaneous levity – forgetting the hazard of my shoelaces – I sprung from one side of the footpath, cutting the corner of a handicap space, with the intention of landing sprightly on the adjacent path (sparing myself perhaps an additional two or three steps) and carrying merrily on my way. Instead, I landed – in descending order – on my knuckles, followed by my shopping bag (think: espresso glasses! – one of which sadly broke), left knee, chin and left side of my head. Not good. An older fellow who saw the whole fiasco unfold, kindly came to my aid asking if I “was okay, love?” to which I think I may have responded firstly with an unintentional expletive (which, apparently, is proven to increase pain tolerance) and then thanked him for his concern. Anyway, so therein is the tale of why I’ve missed my welding class again this week… and why one should never rush!
Back to welding, a quick update on last week’s class: I completed the ‘corner fillet welds’ task on 6mm steel plates and moved onto ‘open square butt welds’. This new exercise involved learning to use a pneumatic angle grinder (eek!) to create roughly 70 degree angles on which to weld (pictured). My first task, however, was to successfully wedge some orange foam earplugs into my slightly-on-the-small-side ear canals. I then had fun wresting a pair of goggles with impossibly short elastic (i.e. broken) over the top of my glasses which, of course, immediately steamed up in response to the effort. Humph.
All sorted, I was now permitted to enter the grinding room, which contained three grinders in all, two pneumatic and one electric, all in their own designated areas. After the steel plates were secured in the vice, I had to adopt what felt like an almost cricket-like stance – right elbow high, left hand guided by the right – to achieve the correct angle and grind the edge back without nicking the vice (pictured)… which has clearly received quite a bit of love over the years by novices such as myself! It was hot and sweaty work but I left the room with the satisfaction of knowing that I could now grind a 6mm steel edge down to 2mm reasonably quickly and with a certain amount of accuracy. The welding part of the activity didn’t go as well as the grinding, but, such is the nature of learning!
Moving on, as mentioned, over the last few weeks I’ve gone a bit mad in the baking department. It all started with a rather crumbly flapjack that tasted great but unfortunately didn’t travel well, which was a bit annoying as it was meant to be my breakfast for the train but was more like granola. The following week, I attempted it again, however, they turned out even worse because I got a bit enthusiastic with the nuts and seeds after I’d already measured everything out. Duh. Anyway, this disappointment led me to pancakes and then back to trusty cake recipes, so I can’t be too sad about it.
My favourite cake (or dessert?) is pear and almond tart – more specifically – the one I used to get at the Pizza Express restaurant chain in the UK (along with lots of other yummy pizza and pasta dishes – just love that place). Given that we’ve had some pears hanging around and my penchant for pear-y goodness, I’ve recently been experimenting with pear recipes. So, over the past few weeks I’ve made: upside down pear and ginger cake which was delish, Italian pear and chocolate breakfast cake (undeniably my favourite – it has the word ‘breakfast’ in it’s name! Pictured), Italian berry and chocolate breakfast cake (a experimental variant of the former as we’d run out of pears and the only thing I could find was tinned berries), and finally, last week, good old fashion chocolate brownies which were amazing. But the Italian pear and chocolate breakfast cake still wins in my stakes… because it has pears… and chocolate… and can legally be eaten for breakfast 🙂