Making my first hat – Part 1

Last month I had an idea of making my own hats, and here’s how far I’ve got so far. I tried making a hat block with an old hat and some expandable foam like in the video in my last hat post, but it didn’t work out. The foam pushed the hat shape out and I ended up with a sphere shaped foam ball.

Not deterred I hit eBay to see if there were any suitable hat blocks in my size. Luckily there was one and using my Snip software I bagged it for just £26, bargain! I then set out to get some supplies including a fur felt hood, leather sweatband, lining and ribbon, all of which came to less than £30.

Hat 1

Process of making my hat

Because I don’t have access to an expensive steamer I decided to use a large pot and upside down sieve to steam the felt hood ready for stretching, see pic below.

Hat 2

After the felt has been steamed it’s time to stretch it over the hat block. This is relatively easy as the felt is supple after being steamed and the felt is held in place with a piece on string at the base.

Hat 3

I will leave this to fully dry (at least 24 hours) then iron the brim out so that it’s flat and can be cut to size.

I will be posting my full process so keep an eye out for future parts.

Wedding plans are in full swing!

As you will know if you read this blog regularly, I popped the big question to Jane a few months ago and we’re getting married next summer. We’ve been visiting venues and scouring the internet for ideas, but when you utter the word ‘Wedding’ prices seem to skyrocket.

We went to a stately home near where we live at the weekend to enquire about hiring one of their fields for our wedding party. The woman was really nice and gave us a short tour before telling us that it would be £5,500 to hire the field! It gets worse, some of the venues that we’ve looked at are quoting £10,000 – £13,000 just for the wedding party.

Seen as prices are a bit on the extreme side we have been thinking about getting married abroad and in particular Las Vegas. I know it sounds a bit corny, but if we get married in Vegas we can then fly out to LA or San Francisco for our honeymoon and the prices (including flights and hotels) are looking a lot more affordable.

There are still a lot of options to look at before we decide completely, but I think a wedding in a different country would be a great idea.


Vegas Baby! (Maybe)

Do you take UK food abroad?

I came across a funny news article earlier saying that 62% of Brits take UK food with them when they go abroad. I’ve never taken any food abroad with me because I like to eat foreign cuisine, but I do have a friend that takes HP sauce with him on his travels because he loves it so much.

The top five foods that Brits take on holidays were; baked beans, chocolate, bread, sweets and condiments. I can maybe see the chocolate and condiment ones because it does vary depending where you go and people do have their favourites, but I can’t understand the others. Baked Beans taste the same wherever you are, you can buy sweets anywhere and bread will go off really quickly in a hot country not to mention the fact that it will get crushed in your luggage.

All this talk of holidays reminds me that we should start looking to see where we want to go this year. Wherever it is you can count on me eating only the freshest foreign cuisine.

Heinz BeanzPicture: Michael

Video games consoles – which ones did you own?

I came across a video today on TIME Magazines technology website (I’ll post it below) about the history of video game consoles and boy does it make me feel old.

Having been an avid gamer for the best part of 25 years I remember my first games console, the Atari 2600 which was given to me by my cousin when he didn’t play it anymore. I had 3 games with it, Space Invaders, Pac-Man and The Smurfs and played it most nights (after I’d done my homework of course).

The first console that was actually bought for me was the Sega Mega Drive and I loved that thing. Sonic, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, oh the memories. I was however gutted when I saw my friends Super Nintendo and saw Mario for the first time.

I then owned a Sega Game Gear as I liked to game on the move and partly because I wanted to show off to my brother as he had a Gameboy. I also owned the original Sony PlayStation, which for me really pushed the graphics to the next level and actually took a disc instead of a cartridge.

From there I’ve been Microsoft all the way owning the original Xbox, Xbox 360 and now the Xbox One. It’s amazing how for the technology has come over the years, but it does make me feel old.

Here is the video:


What games consoles did you own?

Would I suit a handlebar moustache? Time to find out

I’ve been in pursuit of a facial hair style that suits me for many years, I’ve tried a full beard, a goatee and even the horseshoe, but now it’s time to really go for it and try out the handlebar moustache.

I’ve been growing my moustache for the best part of a month, as I’ve read that the best way of growing one is to not trim it at all, and now it’s time to start styling it.

I received my Bounders Moustache Wax and Kent Moustache Comb in the post this morning and quickly hid it in my desk drawer so no-one at work saw, I’ll try out some styles over the weekend and if it doesn’t work out I’ll deny any knowledge of it and delete this post, lol :-)

Wish me luck!

Can I pull it off?

Can I pull it off?

Making my own hats?

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few months, you’ll know that I have been adding to my hat collection, much to the dissatisfaction of my fiancée Jane. I’ve already added three hats to my collection this year and have been told that I can’t get any more unless it’s essential (i.e. wedding related as we’re getting married next summer).

I’ve always been interested in making my own hats, but hat blocks are really expensive and I’d have a really hard time convincing Jane that I needed one, but after some internet searching I came across a video on how to make your own hat block from an old hat and some expanding foam.

I’ve looked into the supplies I’d need to create a hat and it’s relatively cheap, leather hat bands and ribbon are only a couple of pound each and the felt (as long as it’s wool and not real fur) is around £5. I’d have to learn how to sew a bit better than I can at the moment, but when I re-sewed my suit buttons back on I did a solid job.

Might have to get some supplies together and see how it turn out, check out the video below if you want to make your own hat block and want to make your own hat:



Pancake Day – how do you have yours?

It’s Pancake Day and although I shouldn’t really be eating sweet things until I get back into my fitness plan I’m sure Jane will be cooking up some lovely pancakes when I get home from work.

I like to have a little sugar and Golden Syrup on my pancakes, but Jane goes all out having mixed fruit and vanilla ice cream with hers.

I read a Pancake Day article earlier on that said that the UK will consume 52 million eggs today, some 22 million more than a normal day, so if you’re having pancakes tonight how do you have yours?

If you’re stuck for a pancake recipe, then check out Delia’s below:

Pancake Recipe

Ingredients (makes 6 pancakes)

  • 55g/2oz plain flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 eggs
  • 100ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 40ml/3fl oz water
  • 25g/2oz butter

Pancake Day

Picture: TiggerT

World Wide Web is 25 years old, Happy Birthday!

If you are like me you never give it a second thought you just fire up your computer, laptop or tablet and look up something on the “net” and bingo there is all the information that you need in the blink of an eye, well it is if you have superfast broadband!

I caught a headline in my newspaper that the World Wide Web is now twenty five years old and first saw the light of day in an organisation in Switzerland called CERN, which is the European Organization for Nuclear Research and were a certain Mr Tim Berners-Lee was a computer programmer. Apparently he was concerned that data was being lost between computers and although a form of internet had been in existence for a number of years allowing data to be sent between connected machines, it seems that it sometimes lost the valuable items.

You can imagine the frustration of scientists and researchers when after weeks of work or seeing the result of a complex experiment, it had already been resolved by a scientist many years previously. So our friend Mr Berners-Lee set about trying to do something about it.

Well as we all know he succeeded and it is something we now take for granted, but of course it was not always a free to all item. In the early days, as I seem to recall, you had to buy a browser and Netscape comes to mind. However it was not long before war broke out in the shape of Microsoft who had Internet Explorer free with Windows. Now of course it is all about which you prefer, Firefox came along in the early 2000’s and of course Google is now king of the playground. Competition is good I believe, because browsers have improved beyond recognition as websites also become richer in features and photographs. Happy birthday WWW, and thanks for what you have given us.

Things we take for granted – barcodes

When you think about it barcodes hold the retail sector together and would not be as big as it is without them. Barcode labels are literally on everything from the packet of crisps at your local newsagent to the iPad at the Apple Store, so what’s so great about barcodes?

The barcode was originally devised as a way to keep track of inventory for grocery stores and to help at the checkout phase. It became so popular that it quickly spread into all aspects of the retail sector.

A manufacturer pays an annual fee to the Uniform Code Council to join the UPC barcode system, in return they will receive a unique six-digit manufacturer identification number. This number will feature on every product that the manufacturer produces.

The next five digits denote the actual product, this is also unique and a different number will be issued to every package size and every repackaging of the product.

The last digit in a barcode is called the check digit. The scanner uses this to make sure that the number has been scanned correctly.

No pricing information is held on a barcode, it is instead kept on a shops central point of sake computer; this means that the price can be changed if it is being reduced or going into a sale.

Since barcodes were introduced it has changed the retail sector remarkably, it not only makes it quicker for us when we are at the checkout, but also allows the store to be more efficient by ordering new stock when they are running out.

Barcodes may be taken for granted most of the time, but with many things that make our life better they quietly and unassumingly do their job.


England receive favourable draw for Euro 2016 qualification

After being drawn in what many people are calling the group of death for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there wasn’t anything for England fans to be happy about until the Euro 2016 draw yesterday.

England will be favourites to qualify out of Group E when the games kick off this autumn. England’s hardest opponents have to be Switzerland, who have also qualified for the World Cup this year, although the rest of the teams Slovenia, Estonia, San Marino and Lithuania are not expected to pose a decent challenge.

Republic of Ireland and Scotland have been drawn in the same group alongside Germany and Poland, where as Wales will have a tough task of getting out of their group being drawn against Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Northern Ireland also have a tough group, with Greece, Hungary and Romania among their opponents.

Here is a run-down of all the home nations Euro 2016 qualification groups:

Group B:

Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel, Cyprus, Wales, Andorra.

Group D:

Germany, Poland, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Gibraltar, Georgia.

Group E:

Switzerland, England, Slovenia, San Marino, Estonia, Lituania.

Group F:

Romania, Greece, Hungary, Finland, Northern Island, Faroe Islands.

Euro 2016