Kicking Off

I love my job but sometimes day-dream about what I would be doing if I wasn't earning my living through writing.

As a simple Sussex boy with a love of the outdoors, I reckon being a gardener would suit me well.

Then there's always the recurring fantasy of roving Sussex as an itinerant beer quality tester.

Such a career opportunity did once exist. The Ale Conner was a type of early tax-man whose job it was to test the quality and strength of beer, not by quaffing, but by sitting in a puddle of it!

They travelled from pub to pub clad in sturdy leather britches. Beer was poured on a wooden bench and the Conner sat in it. Depending on how sticky they felt it to be when they stood up, they were able to assess it's alcoholic strength and impose the appropriate duty.

I'm not sure how good I would look in the leather strides, so I guess I'm stuck with writing for the time being.

Speaking of which - congratulations to Rother Council for sending me what has to be one of the most impenetrable and arcane press releases I have received in more than a decade of journalism.

The council, which lists among its stated aims a desire for better communication with the local populace, has apparently gained some sort of esoteric award for Member Development (???)

It proudly boasts: "The Charter for Elected Member Development has been developed by the South East Employers Organisation in partnership with the Improvement and Development Agency and is based on the North West Employers' Charter, building on the experience of their well established and successful regional Member Development Charter which all councils in that region have made a commitment to." - so that's clear then.

Member development - it sounds like something that has come straight out of a Carry On film or offered by a dodgy clinic.

Anyway, members have been developed and everyone at Rother seems quite happy about it.

I enjoy cooking and managed to spend some time in the kitchen this week.

I'm a veggie with a conviction that vegetarian food need not be bland or boring.

Recent experiments have involved spicing up the much maligned nut roast by coming up with an explosive Thai version packed with fresh chillies and ginger, lemongrass, lime, coconut and cashews.

Another success was a nut roast made with wild mushrooms, walnuts and port served up with an onion and red wine gravy and blackberry chutney.

Culinary bargain of the week has to be Sainsbury's wholegrain mustard that is bafflingly priced at 27p for a large jar.

It really is one of the best whole grain mustards I have tasted. Imported from France, it is aromatic and robust and made with cloves, tarragon and ginger. Try spreading it on cheese on toast or mixing with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for an easy salad dressing.

Reading: Against Nature (A'Rebours) by J.K. Huysmans.

Listening to: Dig, Lazarus Dig, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; Eric Dolphy.

Enjoying: primroses, celendines and wood anenomies.

Drinking: Harveys Best Bitter and mint and nettle tea.

Dreaming of: Arsenal overcoming Liverpool on Tuesday to reach the Champion's League semis after almost certainly blowing Premier title hopes on Saturday.