The 0300 number for Scotland in the photo is not a different line to Scottish NHS or Scotland specific test results centre.. still to the UK test and protect centre.. indeed this isn’t a Scotland specific card, it is from the UK government.. so the same service just with a fee for Scotland, because you know..

Called this morning to check a test result for our daughter which should have been sent to use by now.. seems like they have lost her results.. glad I paid for that call..

The bottom of a UK government PCR test receipt care giving two phone lines for additional help.  the first is a free phone number for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.. the second is a charges line for Scotland.


Identifying mushrooms is hard! Picked these whilst out for a walk earlier and have only managed to identify less than half..

Any advice on identification appreciated! I have a couple of books that I am reading through but they obviously can’t capture every known species..

#fungiverse #sporeverse

A wooden tray with 13 different species of mushroom of various sizes, shapes and colours.


After a wee server audit today, I discovered that my funkwhale instance (which I hadn’t forgotten I had) was on a dedicated SBC, even though I rarely use it and every day use apps are squashed onto shared SBCs (which cope very well).. so I’ve chucked a jellyfin server on there, it seems to have improved a bit since I last checked it out..

.. I suspect that once the jellyfin f-droid app is updated to the latest version, and if I can actually sign into my instance with it then it will signal the end of the funkwhale instance. I like funkwhale but I don’t use it much, jellyfin is a better match for me.

Today was definitely my most productive brew day yet, aside from the main task, I cleaned 2 beer lines, kegged previous beer and cleaned fermenter, disassembled | sanitised | reassembled another keg with replacement o rings, descaled the coffee machine and cleaned a seemingly endless supply of dishes coming from the ladies of the house.. oh and managed to quickly draft an overdue short blog post about brew day #17 (today was #21). Then made popcorn and watches ‘Brave’ with my daughter.

Enjoying a beer now whilst cooking dinner.

I made a big vegan lasagne this afternoon and am instantly regretting horsing down 3 portions.. I have 2-3 hours of cleaning and sanitising brewing equipment ahead of me tonight and I am stuffed!

Added cactus comments to my soon™ to be retired website linked to this account. Had spent most of today trying to get it to work with dendrite for my other site, convincing myself I had messes up the appservice install bit then I tried against a synapse backend and it worked immediately.. haven’t enabled guest access so matrix account required.. that website now receives comments via webmentions, activitypub and cactus comments.

Will give me a chance to play about with it until dendrite is a bit more mature and I can switch to it and enable on my personal site.

Very cool idea, but glad synapse had spaces implemented before I played with it.

Having a very, very frustrating issue with one of my servers. A ‘hostname -I’ returns two IP addresses for the host.. one valid, the other.. not.. trying to communicate between servers always seems to announce the invalid IP address so comms fail.. I can’t for the life of me find anywhere that has the incorrect IP address defined/stored so at a loss of how to resolve this

Finally checking out #Bookwyrm it looks good, most difficult aspect of it is trying to remember when I finished reading my books

In our absence from our house last week some s.o.b. has installed a pressure plate or motion sensor or something around our front door steps and linked it directly to the weather system..

Lunch time, I needed to go to my daughter’s new nursery to pick up some paperwork, about a 20 minute walk.. looked out of the window and it was a little bit drizzly.. as soon as sole hit slab it turned immediately into a torrential rainstorm which grew in intensity the further from my front door I reached.. completely drenched.

We’ve finally received an acknowledgement of our applications to move to Japan, it doesn’t give much away but suggests that we might need to have interviews at nonsensical times of the day, because of the time difference and the apparent demi-godesque status of the village (approx 4,000 people) mayor.. and (presumably) his timetable..

.. this has wound me up the wrong way.. you apparently only get an interview if you have been accepted.. we both have jobs and childcare we have to work around.. but the mayor can’t schedule a time that suits us all, for people he wants to move to his village ..really?

So I have wake up at something like 4am after probably 1 hour of sleep for an interview in a language I am far from fluent in (when awake) just to satisfy his fucking ego? Not going to happen..

..either they want us or they don’t and the man with the job of mayor will have to show a little bit of flexibility if he wants us to move to his village.

Oooh it seems that I now have a date for my driving test.. and it’s on a date that I should definitely be able to remember, remember..

.. now fingers crossed they can line up an intensive course and the instructor lends me their car for the test..

As someone who took down the satellite dish and disconnected the TV aerial antenna upon moving in to our house about 7 years ago.. I’m finding the experience of watching terrestrial TV and the channels' catch up apps both infuriating and sickening..

The sheer volume of ads is infuriating and much more than 7 years ago.. the content of a large volume is “Brexit is great” and it’s bloody sickening.. though I am in Grampian TV region so could just be the Tory influence up here.. though my suspicion is that it’s widespread.

I commented a couple of days ago that the only thing I’d miss by moving from pleroma to gotosocial would be markdown support.. then raised a ticket and now by gotosocial has markdown support :)

Having to clear out space in my computer paraphernalia loft for some work next week and it’s brought forward a necessary clear out.. so I’ve collected everything from the collection which is or contains data storage for mass deletion and stumbled across the only iPhone I ever owned (or ever will) .. I forgot how bound to iTunes it was.. plugged it in to charge it via USB and as soon as it had enough power to do so, it demanded to be connected to iTunes.. aye good luck with that..

It took a bit of work today (amongst a hectic day at actual work) and a fair amount of help from tobi, but I can now post to my personal website from Indigenous and have it syndicate to my #GoToSocial account. I still have to test liking, sharing, commenting via this method so not completed this part of the “write” activity quite yet.. good progress though.

From an API interaction perspective writing the “read” activity scripts to integrate likes, shares and comments from others back into my account SHOULD be easier.. but from a logic perspective there is a lot more to work out and I’m starting from scratch as this functionality is provided by on at the moment on my other site.

Earned a beer!

Now that I have GoToSocial up and running (easiest fediverse instance install ever!), I’ll need to work out how to create an OAUTH token via a script and experiment with pulling various kinds of posts to see what payloads I get in response and work out how best to utilise the data.

I’m thinking to either send all data via the existing webmentions infrastructure but that may leave some blind spots, so the other options is to use the data directly and emulate what the existing webmentions process is doing.. I don’t think I want to replace the webmentions endpoint at this point..

Fun times


It’s true what you’ve all been hearing.. I am indeed the very first person to host GoToSocial on ARM64.. Also raised my first bug report.

I’m pretty excited about tinkering with this app, I do believe it will replace my other activitypub accounts at some point enabling me to host fewer instances.

That will require a great deal of work at my end to integrate the API into my site but I’ll get there.

How is it that in many American TV shows and movies, complete strangers,almost always somewhat dangerous looking can walk into the backdoor of a commercial kitchen and slowly, often suspiciously, maneuvre through without any challenge? I’ve worked in several commercial kitchens in Scotland and I’d like to invite you to try that shit here..

.. oh Steven Segal is it? How about we Steven Segal your arse right back oot that fuckin door ya bam!

A surprisingly fun (and easy) task done this lunchtime. I took apart two of my legs to replace the o-rings for the first time. Of course the big test will be to see if I have tightened the connectors enough to contain gas without leaking.. ran out of time on my lunch break so will test post-work.

Intensive driving course tombola initiated.. we better be offered interviews and move to Japan now.. I am very happy as a non-driver and having to get a licence to be accepted on the programme is a little disappointing..

Anyway, details given to a “fast track” website to find me a test and instructor.. let’s hope with the current backlog, I can actually do the needful before next Spring.

Two people I know we’re coincidentally interviewed on consecutive days by JJ Walsh of Japan Times “fame” loosely in relation to sustainability. I enjoyed them but have links to both interviewees but if you are interested in Sake, Japanese craft beer and sustainability perhaps you might also find them interesting..

First up - Andrew Russell (my kouhai and friend) who is a kurabito (Sake brewer) in Hiroshima.

Then Ken Mukai of Mukai Craft Brewing (the chap who I wrote an actual letter to back in December and who kinda mentions me (amongst a few others) though not by name towards the very end of the interview)

Those are videos 275 and 276 of JJ’s interviews, I suspect I’m going to be lost in catching up with the series for quite a while

A day off, with sunshine, beer on tap and house to myself.. a dangerous combination.. and not only because my blue skin burns like touch paper at a glimpse of the sun..

Theory test done, now to leave Glasgow and head home to try and book another theory test for my wife as she didn’t find that elusive compassionate security guard..

Looking for my passport this morning as a backup ID, not that I should need it and I found my wife’s provisional driving licence.. she is staying at my parents house and has her theory driving test at 10am in Stirling.. I’ve sent photos on the slim chance that she finds a compassionate security guard at the test centre.. could happen, I guess.

I missed my early train by about 1 minute but so long as the next train is on time, I’ll make it to my test centre in Glasgow on time.. over to you ScotRail..

Just received a very helpful email from DVLA advising that since new rules around social distancing come in to play from next Monday, there will be more available theory tests, so should I wish to change my test to an earlier time then now is the chance.. my test is at 9am tomorrow morning..

If for whatever reason you are trying to derail my brewing studies, it seems that all you need to do is introduce me to a barrel aged oat stout, aged in a cask from X distillery and accompany it with a dram of the whisky which had previously aged in the same barrel.. Apparently this is my kryptonite.. so do with that what you will but know that I will eventually become resistant to this method of sabotage.. I’m no superman..


Going to take a half day off and try to get my 2nd jab at the mobile vaccination bus today.. been 8 weeks and 1 day since the 1st so good to go.. hopefully there won’t be too massive a queue.. though an indication of significant voluntary uptake would be nice.


As if I don’t have enough to do over the coming months, I’m currently pondering how to integrate gotosocial into my personal static website..

I’d just need to work out how best to display non-photo posts on a notes page, as I already do for webmentions posts.. maybe with a bookmarked posts tab (once implemented in gotosocial) for permanent posts and then photo posts to the photos page..and integrate each post into its own static page for seeing interactions.. basically the same as it is now but with some sort of reverse-syndication script which could be regularly triggered.. I don’t think it would be all that difficult but we’ll see :) ..

wondering also how the app will develop with regards to potentially handling formatted long posts with embedded images or if that’s too much of a pipedream..

My site linked to this account uses for pulling replies etc. but for my other site it would be nice to interact with the API directly just as I already do for syndicating from the site to here..

If I can work it out then maybe I won’t have any really need for a pixelfed instance after all..

Only thing missing from our application to move to Japan were photos.. so quick home haircut, dressed in suit from waist up, photos taken, pasted into application form and after a final proof-read will be sent via email TODAY!

Time to come up with polite reasons for not wanting to establish a craft brewery with the other wannabe brewer in the village who is all about self-marketing and not a bit about communication.. will hopefully be the most complex question in any interview but I have an idea of how to kick that one into the grass.

The wonders of academic marking never cease to amaze me.. just found out that for the my 2nd course which I found tedious beyond compare and exerted minimal effort towards, trying only to grab a passing mark to satisfy the requirements of the postgraduate certificate that I am aiming for, I was awarded another A.. obviously, I’m not going to challenge this but I do wonder about how that happened..


Took me about 10 minutes with laravel this morning to create a user model with elevated permissions, disable registrations and hide edit buttons for non-admin..

.. moved onto what I thought was going to be a much simpler task in creating an edit/update modal..but can I get the modal fields to display the button data- values? Can I fuck, every solution I look at seems pretty much the same as the one I have but it’s not working and I’ve been knocking my head against the wall for hours..

Finished inputting data from my first recipe book into my fledgling beer compendium database.. and am thinking that now might be the time to create a front end before mindlessly entering a seemingly endless amount of data.. thinking that I might checkout laravel for this.

Writing my Japanese resume and getting very frustrated by their templates being designed for graduates with very little experience but getting told I should include all of my jobs which were for longer then three months.. I’ve been working since I was 12.. over 30 years of jobs to fit in a tiny fecking form..

That felt like a much longer wait than it probably was but I received a contact email address for my (new to me) sister who I only recently found out about

Email sent! Hopefully I’ll have not have to wait as long for a reply from her.. excited and apprehensive.. 🍺 time, I think.

Last week we went out for a walk in a wooded park (don’t remember its name) where there was an abundance of wild garlic so we gathered some to bring home.. today for lunch I made it into a pesto and it was delicious! Even my daughter had a second bowl!

a light green bowl containing a pile of penne pasta coated in a green wild garlic pesto and seasoned with white garlic flowers & buds, sea salt, black pepper and nutritious yeast.


Quite the day..

visited friends in Auld Reekie who have a not yet 3 month old baby and was able to coerce him to sleep whilst his folks had their dinner..

slightly earlier we went to a pub for the first time in almost 2 years.. though if they had listened properly when I tried to book, we wouldn’t have as it turns out that they didn’t in fact do food..

being a few hours after her bed time my daughter fell asleep on my chest in the train.. so I had to carry her home for about a mile..I am not a particularly strong guy (to say the least) and you’d be forgiven for wondering if I actually have any shoulders at all.. so had to walk the whole way in a weirdly twisted position to keep her head from falling off.. did it though..

knackered and about to go lie down..

Contact established with an Irish craft brewer in the neighbouring prefecture to our future home (hopefully).. as a “quintessential Celt”* myself, I am delighted.. so that’s two thirds of a joke sorted.. I wonder if there are any English brewers on Shikoku..

  • genetically, I’m Hibernian, genetic signature is S169 which is a sub-group of S145 “the quintessential Celtic marker” according to my DNA report.

I started to compile a spreadsheet of brewing info earlier, relating to ingredients and processes gleamed from the recipe and reference books I own but have quickly realised that this is going to be a lot more useful in a proper DB.. already on 10 internally referenced sheets.. definitely makes more sense to get pgAdmin installed and start building the DB than continue to populate the spreadsheet.. but I can’t seem to stop inputting data.. send help..

My week two yoga observation is very similar to week one’s.. it is never the part of the body that is apparently being worked on that is tired after the session.. just the auxiliary parts.. today was core focussed again and my arms and legs are tired..

this probably speaks more of just how inflexible and weak my body is than the exercise itself.. still, I’m going to presume that progress is slowly being made as the 5-10 minutes of meditation are really starting to be a feature that I look forward to during each lunch break.

It seems that the 2000+ character Japanese essay I wrote for our introductory submission to the local government to get the ball rolling is double the length of the character limit for the supporting essay for the official application.

T’was too difficult to pare back so I’ve written a new more focussed one from scratch and the draft is sitting at 1070 characters.. Will probably be reduced a little by my wife’s editing but I’m somewhat surprised at how small the essay requirement is.. given the application form itself only asks for basics like d.o.b. and contact details.. the only other required supporting document is a CV.

Three weeks after purchasing a phone, charger and delivery fee totalling 425€, I’ve received an invoice from UPS for VAT + charge on a purchase with a matching consignment code to the phone purchase but at a value of 490€.. a) fucking Brexit.. b) eh, wtf? In what world does an item increase in value by 15% just by way of being transitted in a UPS van?

In a sudden flurry of activity, we’ve somehow managed to book theory tests for both my wife and I, on the same day.. in different cities.. have been frequently checking for weeks and hadn’t seen a single appointment..

Transferred the third in a series of single malt and single hop IPA brews to keg today after cold crashing for the first time and abandoning the muslin hop bags.. I’ll have to wait about a week to confirm but seems like third time lucky as the previous two SMaSH beers have lacked any hoppy character.. so my next blog post looks like it might have a happy ending.. maybe.



Notes from brew day #17
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 2-minute read

I like to break up the slight monotony of a series of the same type of brews with a guest beer brew day, where instead of focussing on a technique or ingredient influence, I can just chill out and make a nice beer. For my 17th brew day, I opted for Siren’s Undercurrent Oatmeal Pale Ale as something about the recipe resonated with me and I love oats in a beer. I don’t remember ever sampling this beer before and perhaps if I had, I may have opted for something a little more interesting (for my taste), my attempt at Siren’s Undercurrent was disappointingly underwhelming.

The brew day was pretty straight-forward with the only real difference to my normal routine being a slightly longer boil which, and I may be mistaken here, lends itself to a slightly sweeter finish.

I wasn’t able to get one of the hops (Palisade) so switched it out for Williamette.

I was tired the night before so had decided to clean and sanitise the brewing kit in the morning before the brew, this is always a mistake but sometimes unavoidable and basically always leads to me struggling to get my head in the game. What should have been a very easy brew day turned out to be a series of micro-errors.

  • I had issues with recirculation during the mash stage which led to higher than desired temperatures for part of the process.
  • Once again the poorly designed additional filter around the grainfather inlet valve was swept to the side and rendered useless, leading to a little more grist getting into the wort.
  • The hop spider got blocked and so required intervention post whirlpooling and cooling,
  • And there were a disappointing lack of bubbles when transferred into the fermenter. Even after giving the wort a vigourous shake, the bubbles dissipated quickly leading to what I expected to be a fairly lacklustre fermentation.

I did however, hit close to both original and final gravity targets but the resulting beer lacked a little character and as this was before I replaced the o-rings in my cornelius kegs it was ever so slightly oxidated.

That said, every brew adds to my experience and knowledge and this one was no exception.


Reading a bedtime story to my 3 year old daughter:

Daughter: that picture of a horse has a mouth but horses don’t have mouths

Me: horses do have mouths, that’s how they eat..

D: OK but cows, cows don’t have mouths..

M: cows do have mouths..

D: but pigs don’t have mouths and sheep don’t have mouths

M: they do, both pigs and sheep have mouths

D: oh ok, but fish, they don’t have mouths and they don’t have eyes

M: most fish have both mouths and eyes, in fact most animals have mouths and eyes

D: but cups though, cups don’t have mouths..

M: that’s right cups don’t have mouths, not permanently anyway

D: ok, goodnight, sit outside my room..


7 day beginners yoga course completed.. definitely a challenge but I think I enjoyed it.. will re-run the same programme a few times until I actually feel a little more flexible then maybe try to step it up a bit..

Not life-changing but something which breaks the working day up and isn’t weather dependent.. works for me!

We got a response from the ‘yakuba’ (town officials) and after discussions with both the mayor and deputy mayor, it has been agreed that we can both (my wife and I) apply to the rural cooperation scheme (協力隊).. which is great news. Apparently this essentially means that we have been accepted and the application and subsequent interviews are just tickbox exercises!

I’ll wait until after we’ve officially applied and officially been offered positions before I drop the bombshell on my current employer though.

Woohoo, game on!

Noticed that Kochi prefecture (🤞our future home ) has upgraded its covid-19 alert status to 🚨🚨 red alert 🚨🚨 .. which brings in the following new “rules”:

  1. We request that you don’t go to restaurants or businesses open in the evenings/nights (yes, request.. feel free to go to restaurants or business open in the evenings/nights if this seems inconvenient for you)
  2. Some businesses may be closed, or open for a shorter time during the day (or you know, may not)
  3. We request that you not eat out with anyone except your family (request)
  4. Maybe reconsider whether or not a public event should be held
  5. Prefectural buildings may be closed..

Note that red is not the highest alert that is purple, but even purple doesn’t have any mandatory rules just a few more requests..

🚨🚨 Minor (optional) inconvenience 🚨🚨


Circles ( piqued my interest earlier being a pretty good looking social media app built on the matrix protocol.. but unless I’m missing something, the plan is still to develop a centralised platform (on top of a decentralised, federating protocol).. which I’m far less interested in.. will keep any eye on how it goes but unless it has a decentralised future then it’s probably not for me.

Hmmm just came across an issue with my fairphone 3+… If I have 4g calling enabled all incoming calls are ‘unknown’..only when I revert back to 3g do I see the caller ID.. we’ll, that’s far from useful..

Was meant to be going through to my folks' house today for a “small family” garden party to celebrate my niece’s 18th, nephew’s 20th and dad’s 64th birthdays today.. was told there would be no more than 12 people, split over a couple of gardens.. wasn’t comfortable with this as the max is 8 but given the occasion was reluctantly going to go.. then the number 12 became 21 when counted.. fuck that.. went to Linlithgow Loch instead, just the 3 of us.

Surprised at how accurate the ‘slow cooking’ function on our rice (multi) cooker is.. curry has been cooking for 15 hours and still the veg and lentils are raw..

Just completed my second of a seven day beginner’s yoga course.. Today’s focus was around side and shoulder mobility and was much more painful than yesterday’s session.

The pain being due to the tension in my shoulders and neck rather than the probably pretty light stretching in the course.

I’ll complete all 7 days before concluding if its for me but the warm burn in my shoulder muscles right now isn’t unpleasant.. So, the mind remains open.

Not sure that I really needed to do it, but I have a gitea instance and I have a matrix synapse instance.. so now I have gitea posting updates to a room on my matrix server.. I guess I’ll do the same with my dendrite instance for its relevant domains.. then I suppose I should try to work out if I can install cactus comments app-service on my arm64 SBC..

I just discovered that since I signed up to my next uni course really early, I have access to last year’s course materials.. . 😁

Remembering a time from my youth when sleep was a practice that I was familiar with as opposed to now when it is almost entirely theoretical bordering on mythical..

When our inevitable dystopian future arrives and we separate into tribes based on our covid-19 vaccines.. I’ve been assigned to team AZ.. we’re doomed.


Just updated my pixelfed instance and for the first time in a while, I really like the new additions (and can actually use them, which hasn’t always been the case previously with me having a postgresql DB).

Pronouns on profile page New admin panel for instance settings Custom CSS.. though this might actually be the first site I’ve hosted where I’m not sure that I could make improvements to the look.. nice to have though if I do spot something!

fairphone now mostly configured now, though no doubt I’ll be tweaking things all evening. The default launcher had to go.. using smart launcher for now but when time allows, I’ll look into switching it to something opensource.. I do like it’s categorisation though.. but almost none of the widgets on apps I’ve installed are available with this launcher.. tried KISS too but it wasn’t for me.

Awaiting delivery of my fairphone today via UPS who helpfully say it will be delivered “before the end of the day”.. so of course it turns out to be a multi-delivery day for my wife’s recent purchases ..

Assignment submitted and I’ve registered for my next, infinitely more interesting, course. Message sent to the sister I grew up with regarding the sister I just found out about (they aren’t related) for reassurance and short draft letters in response to yesterday’s revelatory letter typed (will write them rather than print them out).. tomorrow when the new phone arrives, I will grudgingly install signal so that I can send a message whilst withholding my number as I need more information before talking to GP and an address for the aforementioned letters.. feeling pretty wrecked already considering it’s not even lunchtime yet.

Hand-delivered letter arrived today, heard it but didn’t spot the person delivering.. from the wife of my biological dad (estranged since I was one - no interest on my part in changing that).. seems I have an increased chance of prostate cancer and should get checked out.. (my plant-based diet will kick it’s ass if so) and I’ve got a 20 year old half-sister.. feeling a little bit.. rocked..

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Notes from brew days #14, #15 & #16
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 6-minute read

Two out of three ain’t bad..

.. but the third was excellent!

After a semi-successful run of 80/- beers in an attempt to develop the base for my first future commercial beer, I have moved on to the study of hops. In order to best study the contributions of the humulus lupulus I’ve been brewing a small run of SMaSH IPA beers, which are brewed with a single malted barley grain bill and a single hop. I’ve stuck to the same yeast for each of the brews but I did swap to an extra pale ale maris otter malt for the third brew, from very slightly darker pale ale malt.

Again, like in previous brews, due to the length of time it takes for a beer to be brewed and conditioned, along with the frequency of my brew days (approximately every two weeks), I can’t directly apply lessons learned from the previous brew day to the next one. As such, in the case of these three beers, the third beer benefited from lessons learned from the first brew (although the first beer hadn’t yet been carbonated or conditioned by then).

Each of the pretty straight-forward brew days went smoothly but the first two beers were somewhat underwhelming, drinkable but with very muted aroma and flavour profiles. I quickly realised that I had made somewhat of an error of judgement in the first two brews, which I’ll explain in the moment, and made a correction for the third day which was a game changer.

The realisation dawned on me when I was thinking about tea bags, particularly the pyramid bags that my in-laws use to package their tea in. For the first few brews and for several previous brews, I had been using muslin bags to place the hops in for each of the additions, but unlike in the case of a tea bag where there the leaves are loose and there is a lot of space within the bag for them to move around, I had packed the muslin bags pretty tightly, so that they wouldn’t open (I was using very small bags) mid-boil. As a result, I think that there wasn’t enough surface contact with the hop pellets and they weren’t able to properly breakdown and emit their goodnesss in to the wort. On the third brew day I reverted to using a hop spider which allows the hops to move freely but captures (most of) the spent hops (trub) so that they don’t make their way into the fermenter. My suspicions were correct and the third beer was in no way muted.

For each of the brews I used 4kg of maris otter malted barley, pale ale for the first two and extra pale ale for the third. I opted for extra pale ale for a little more of a neutral flavour impact from the grains and to accentuate the hop contribution.

I used White Labs WLP001 California Ale yeast for each of the brews as it is a reasonably neutral yeast with regards to its own flavour impact and is good for light and crisp ales.

In each of the brews I used 100g of the selected hop for the day. 20g at the start of the boil, 40g with 15 minutes left in the boil and another 40g at flameout, once the wort had chilled to 79°C.

Brew day 1: Motueka was the hop of choice and is one that I’ll revisit. I chose this because I have enjoyed a number of New Zealand beers over the past few years and for some reason it is the one hop that stuck in my mind from reading the cans. It is an aroma/flavour hop with low alpha acid content (~7%)which means that it isn’t often used for bittering. According to ‘The Love of Hops’ by Stan Hieronymous (2012), Motueka imparts a citrusy flavour, most notably lemon and lime as well as tropical fruits. My muted version has a sort of dull tropical fruit feel to it but not prevalent enough to identify.

Brew day 2: I chose Challenger for its noted aroma and flavour contributions (wood and green tea according to James Morton (2016)) with an eye on future tea based beers. Again, it is a low alpha acid hop which will likely be important as tea may impart some bitterness, depending on the type and timing of its addition. Stan Heironymus (2012) mentions that this hop was embraced by English brewing company Bass and is noted for its fruity and spicy qualities. As per above, my use of muslin bags has resulted in an underwhelming, muted but drinkable, if not exactly enjoyable beer.

Brew day 3: Citra! A very popular hop for homebrewers and commercial brewers alike, famed for its dual purpose utility, in that whilst it is a reasonably high alpha acid hop (12%) and is therefore great for bittering, it also imparts a very crisp, citrus fruity flavour which in my beer, I perceive as grapefruit*. Mr Heironymus (2012) has the hop as being “rich in passion fruit, lychee, peah, gooseberries, and a laundry list of other unusual (for hops) flavours”. This beer is probably the cleanest, crispest and best brewed beer that I’ve made so far. It isn’t exactly complex but there is zero oxidation and it drinks beautifully. I’m very, very happy with this and will be pouring myself one as soon as today’s SMaSH brew is over (Amarillo).

This was also the first brew which I used my new Plaato valves which prevent an issue that brewers can experience when cold crashing, called suckback, and my first attempt at cold-crashing. The glycol chiller that I have is only capable of chilling down to 4°C and struggles to maintain that, so the temperature fluctuated a bit between 4-6°C. In a commercial brewery, you’d probably be aiming for around or slightly below 0°C but despite this, there was some improvement in haze reduction and final beer clarity. I’m happy with this first experiment.

*Segue: I recently learned that whilst we all have around 1000 olfactory receptors which sit behind our noses and are activated in unique combinations which may invoke memories or pre-conceived flavour profile, before building a flavour perception in our brains. However, we each have only around 360 of these receptors active, and they are not the same 350 receptors for everyone so we genuinely perceive flavour and aroma differently. This is why you can read a wine, beer or whisky (or anything consumable) flavour profile and be entirely bewildered after tasting as to how anyone could have arrived at those descriptors (Heironymus 2012). It isn’t ALWAYS pretentiousness!

I took a break after this mini-series to brew a beer by Siren brewing, which I’ll write about next time, there were an abundance of tiny mistakes, my head was not in the game, and though I’ve yet to taste it, I don’t have high expectations.


Heironymus, S. (2012). For the Love of Hops - The Practical Guide to Aroma, Bitterness and the Culture of Hops. 1st edn. Boulder: Brewers Publication. Morton, J. (2016). BREW. The foolproof guide to making world-class beer at home. 1st edn. London: Quadrile Publishing.

Today is brew day number 16.. can’t quite believe the rate at which I’m ploughing through them this year.. it’s my 8th of the year already.. my 3rd in a series of SMaSH IPA beers, will aim to do 6 of these and see where I am at that point.. though, I am going to make a NEIPA next time just to add a little variety to my draught tipple availability.


I see England’s flirtation with cataclysmic voting is maturing into a steady relationship.. it’s a shame that these local elections aren’t run a week in advance of the national elections in Scotland and Wales..


Almost done with this fecking assignment.. I couldn’t feign enough interest in the subject to try for an A, so any passing grade will be fine.

Tomorrow, I just need to pare it back by 100-200 words and find some diagrams to batter in.. confirm my citations and references are right and get this all done and submitted before the first election results trickle in.

Absolutely not giving up on the pinephone but I had a need for a daily driver phone rather than carrying two* (or forgetting to and missing messages\calls) so today I ordered a fairphone with /e/ (which may be replaced by lineageOS, we shall see)

My recycled lineageOS phone doesn’t get a good (or any) signal in the house so my pinephone currently has the SIM card.. but that’s all that the pinephone is currently used for.. hopefully this will be my last non-linux phone.

If you are in Scotland, registered to vote and haven’t done so by post already then please go out and vote today (please wear your mask and vote safely)! If you can’t make it then you have until 5pm to designate someone to vote on your behalf, just contact your council. Also, if it is not too much to ask please vote for whichever combination of parties you feel will most effectively accelerate our departure from this dysfunctional “union”..

My Japanese wife and I voted a few weeks ago, her first vote, anywhere!


Spent all day researching branding and marketing for my science course final assignment.. not overly interesting but that’s pretty much the de facto position for this particular course..

Still, I should be able to wrap that section up this evening and then return to the packaging stuff tomorrow.. plan is to submit it before it can intrude on my weekend, somewhat regardless of what state it is in.. legible is pretty much my target

Today was my daughter’s 3rd birthday and she pretty much decided it would be a Papa-centric day! Delighted! Every day is a different experience, most are challenging and often frustrating but despite the hardships not one of my 41 earlier years has shone light on the past three.

Watching ‘Rogue One’, yet again and whilst, like many others I’m sure, in the cinema I spotted that planet Wobani is obviously an anagram of Obi Wan.. but I have just realised for the first time (I think) that Eadu is Yoda.. sort of, EUda.. anyway, I guess I’ll spend the rest of the movie analysing plant names.. again..

Apparently, my brother-in-law who will be taking over the family tea farm soon, is going to try growing hops.. which is awesome!

Almost two weeks have passed since we submitted our initial presentation to the local government of the Japanese village we hope to move to next year.. still no feedback.. rural pace, I guess.. still, I’d really like to hear something back soon.. after all it’s not the official application just an overview of our plans and reasons for applying later in the year..

Finally got around to making this awesome curry recipe which was originally shared on Mastodon by

Really smokey which helped restrain the garlic, surprisingly not overly hot but I suspect that is due to only being able to get jalapenos.

A white bowl with white rice and a spinach curry, a wooden spoon and lemon wedge are also visible in the bowl.


I also discovered today that a schooner of a typical beer more than satisfies recommended daily intake of vitamin B12.. so, I might as well turf the supplements that I always forget to take anyway.

Typical range in beer (mg/L): 0.09-0.14 RDI (mg): 0.001-0.003

Source: Boulton, C. (2013). Encyclopedia of Brewing. John Wiley & Sons LTD, p69

Had an impromptu, unscheduled and unexpected brief video chat with the brewer that I wrote a letter to back in December. They were at an event with friend of mine and my brother-in-law so my wife set up a quick intro.. was a little hectic and wasn’t an actual chat by any means.. and they appear to have struggled with my Scottish accent somewhat (lucky that I can speak some Japanese!) but it was good to put voices to faces.. would have been nice to have been given enough time to properly prepare (run some sort of spiked implement through my wild hair and tamed my beard a little).. but hey ho

After waiting for a week since submitting our initial introduction presentation to the village govt. My wife and I were hoping for some feedback but all we’ve received is a request to confirm where my wife’s family record is kept (in the same building as the request came from, albeit likely different departments).. we’re both reading that as a positive sign but are hoping that it is followed by some positive feedback in the next week or so.

..we haven’t yet applied, we were advised that we should do so in November but they requested this initial intro, which possibly we make have gone a shade overboard on..

I’d like to think that as we answered all of the questions we were told we might get in an interview, that there then wouldn’t be a need for an interview but that is definitely wishful thinking.

Either way, hopefully the next week is a bit more progress-forward than the past one.. though given our daughter will be away, I’ll settle for a couple of nights of decent sleep and healthy assignment research progress.

As of tomorrow my daughter is going to stay with her grandparents for a week which aside from a week of jangling nerves papa-side, means that on the day before she returns an early opportunity for brewing has arisen.. one which my wife is eager to be involved in.

However, I have only one fermenter and it’s occupied, and it would be detrimental to the beer it is creating to be ejected early.. so my wife, without any prompting, has suggested in investing in another (will be useful in future brewery for new recipe development).. I’m pegging on a glycol chiller as the frozen irnbru bottle in a chiller box solution is an uphill battle..

Will see if the suggestion is still breathing once she returns from dropping our daughter off at the childminder.. if so, what a surprisingly good start to the day..

2nd assignment mark back for the ‘reflective essay’ which took a little over an hour to write.. inexplicably awarded an A and takes me up to an A for 50% of the course.. will get the final assignment which is worth the final 50% next week which I hope is considerably more interesting than the previous two but I’m doubtful.. I hope it’s not draw a picture in crayon of your favourite packaging.. most of my daughter’s crayons are broken..

Completed and sealed my postal vote for the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections. I don’t recall ever seeing such an enormous number of list parties before (19) , 2 of which have explicitly stated aim on the information sheet to abolish the Scottish Parliament.. aye, would you like your deposit back now or.. ?

I am sitting in front of two beers and 3 glasses.. one for each beer and one for both! The clever brewers at Fierce beer have apparently been brewing beers (for some time now despite me only recently hearing about it) that compliment each other when mixed! These two were explicitly brewed for this purpose whereas I suspect the earlier ones were somewhat of a happy accident.

Big Night In (part 1) is an Imperial Doughnut Pale Ale (9.6% ABV) Big Night In (part 2) is an Imperial Coffee Porter (10.0%)

I think I’ll enjoy them separately first then combine later.. (so I obviously only need one glass..but..).. stupidly excited right now!


I’ve recently received notification that Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival is happening in July. I am massively torn.. I am so not confident about being out in a big group of people, even if we have all been vaccinated. So I thought that maybe I’d book tickets for only my wife and I.. but apparently 3 is the minimal booking number.. why??????

I appear to have been a little too late to the party and misses out on my Fierce Beer 5th anniversary pin badge..

I’m 44 years old, not at all materialistic and still genuinely disappointed by this..

the two beers I have opened have been outstanding but their birdsite account is one of the few I follow and I’m being assaulted by hundreds of photos of people receiving their box with pin badge..

I do have a unique steel logo (as per my profile pic) but the Daves & Do are pretty much my primary inspiration for the direction I want to take my own future brewery in..

so I’m mainly disappointed that I didn’t act on the former investors early access to the pre-order that I had, because I was too focussed on the work to get us to Japan..

ah well, maybe one of my friends will have pre-ordered and be willing to part with the badge.. there may be a craft beer festival ticket in there for them in exchange.

Placed an order yesterday with my favourite brewery up in Aberdeen.. it was dispatched 6 minutes after receipt of order and has arrived already!

Rehearsing my (3.5 A4 page) Japanese script for our initial presentation to the rural initiative scheme, before recording later.. thinking of changing my future plans to an industry that will require much less complex Japanese..

Though the most complex parts aren’t directly related to brewing.. 完全菜食主義 (かんぜんさいしょくしゅぎ - kanzensaishokushugi) and 植物性食品 (しょくぶつせいしょくひん - shokubutsuseishokuhin) for vegan and plant-based goods are quite the mouthful.. (I know I can use ビーガン or ブィーがん - but we’re avoiding repetition apparently)

My throat feels like it has never experienced water before..

Right, that’s my zap instance gone.. now to see if I can get nim-lang to compile on arm64 so that I can host my own nitter instance.. then possibly look at bibliogram, if it isn’t broken.

Just coming to the end of 2.5 hours of cleaning and sanitising brewing equipment for tomorrow and I accidentally snap my only fermenter airlock..

.. I guess tomorrow’s brewday will be on the 8th iteration of tomorrow

After 3 weeks of fermenting and another 3 weeks of conditioning, I’m just sampling my first original recipe 80/- .. It seems to have a very prominent caramel flavour which is a little unexpected, but awesome.. I think the next one (ready in 3 weeks) will be better and more appropriate for my plans but this is surprisingly drinkable.. work needed on the aroma however.. I hope there is still some left in 3 weeks time for comparative reasons..


It’s my daughter’s 3rd birthday soon and when asked what she wants for her birthday she replied, “A cuddly dinosaur”. Over the past week or so, I’ve been reading her books about Nessie in order to steer the direction of traffic to our most famous “dinosaur”, thinking that a) this might be our last year in Scotland and b) it’ll be easier to buy here…

.. I REALLY wish I had taken a moment to search for cuddly Nessie’s before I made this decision.. trying to find a Nessie without a tartan bunnet, kilt and/or bagpipes that even vaguely resembles Nessie and is cuddly is going to be much more of a challenge than finding a cuddly triceratops..

“Thoughts and prayers” to Edinburgh, currently Duke-less, almost certainly against its will and quite possibly unknowingly.. how will my former place of domicile possibly cope? Just as there was a faint bright light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, this horrific tragedy is bestowed upon the auld reekie.. I can only imagine the once proud city is at a complete standstill and simultaneously everyone is rampantly looting whilst they trample over one another to grieve at some popup monarchical shelter..

We had our initial chat with the local government folks this morning about hopefully moving to the village next year under their rural initiative scheme. Though I didn’t say much myself.. seems like I can definitely apply and there were positive vibes.. just need to initially submit an introduction to ourselves and our plans from which it will be ascertained if both of us can apply or just me.

Interesting times lie ahead.

I have a new entry at the very top of my pixelfed wishlist, that just once, a new feature would work on my instance on the day of release… More than once would be great but for the time being just once would be a huge step forward.

Ach balls! I’ve forgotten my dendrite account password and somehow not saved it to my password manager despite presumably setting it via there.. Dendrite has no command line password reset ability from what I can see and nor can I intitiate the password recovery process via either fluffy chat or element web.. the only option is a password reset in app in fluffy chat which requests the existing password..

Woohoo pixelfed instance updated to the latest commits and network timeline enabled!

..and so far it is only populated by the same posts as my home timeline.. two home timelines are better than one, right?

Just got my marks back from the first assignment from this tedious course, for which I applied as minimal effort as I could.. just shy of an A.. had I opened and reviewed the document after upload to the submission software and noticed that some of my figures/diagrams had been omitted, then corrected this then quite possibly it would have stumbled across the line but it’ll do.

Quarter to 80

Notes from brew day #13
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 3-minute read

The last brew of the first quarter of 2021, and the final attempt at an 80 shilling base beer, for now at least.

For my previous brew I used some small quantities of left over grains from the brew before that, and adapted some previously brewed 80/- recipes to create my very first original recipe. However, in order to reduce the number of small volumes of differing grains that I would need to use, I attempted to refine the recipe for this brew.

The last beer is still conditioning so I still don’t as of yet know exactly how it will taste but my gut feeling from sampling and smelling the wort at different stages of fermentation is that it won’t quite manage the level of sweetness that I am looking for in order to compensate for the bitterness when I introduce roasted green tea to the recipe later in the year. In order to try and improve on this as well as refining the recipe I also reduced the mash time by 5 minutes in order to try and retain some (but not a lot) of non-fermentable complex sugars.

As well as the Melanoidin malts which I introduced in the brevious brew, I also added some DRC malt - which is a double roasted crystal malt, it apparently contributes a caramel raisin flavour without the associated bitter astringency of some darker malts. I have a reasonably clear idea of how I want my eventual 80/- x roasted green tea beer to taste and I think the DRC malt will help achieve this, I will probably also introduce some orange rind when I come to experiment with tea, presuming I have a base beer to work with.

Last time I accidentally omitted Sorachi Ace from the recipe and used Magnum, this time I rejigged the hop additions and made First Golding the primary hop with some Sorachi Ace addition at flame-out for the “vanilla, tea and coriander notes” that it allegedly imparts, hopefully with such a late addition, I’ll avoid the intense lemon flavour associated with the hop when used for bittering.

Again as per last brew, no dry hopping, this is ostensibly a malty beer.

My usual yeast (White Labs WLP029 - Edinburgh Ale) was out of stock! So I had to choose between a Dusseldorf Alt or Irish Ale style yeast.. The profile of the latter was closest to the Edinburgh Ale yeast so I opted for that.. and hey, many Scots such as myself have Irish heritage so the beer is still authentic ;) .. actually on that, Williams Bros use Nottingham Ale yeast for their 80/- so..

I will create a recipe template for the site and post the recipe details, stages and notes at a later date.

The original (standard) gravity on this beer after transferring to the fermentation vessel was 1.048.. I’d like it to retain some sweetness and as such I’m not really sure of a target final gravity, I’ll just take what I get really.. I expect the ABV will be around 4.5% but we’ll see.

As mentioned above, I still haven’t tasted my first original recipe beer so trying to refine the recipe is a bit bold.. Only about 4 weeks left until I get to taste it and see if my efforts were worthwhile!

In the past few weeks I’ve been sent a job advert for a head brewer at a nearby-ish brewery, the owner of which is a good friend of one of my close friends, my favourite brewery (which is too far away) advertised a position in their brew house and now they are looking for a manager for their Edinburgh pub!

The first two jobs, I am not yet ready for.. the latter I have the experience and know-how to apply for and it’s sorely tempting but it would sadly derail our future plans.. I must demonstrate patience! Hopefully less than a year left of working in IT.. my time will come.

J K 🇯🇵🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | personal site replied to

I woke up to a very positive email response from Kochi’s first craft brewer!

He had already heard of me from a mutual friend, he has a daughter around the same age as mine, would like us to help one another to learn brewing terminology from each others native language and would be honoured if we became friends.. happy days!

I wrote two emails to Japanese brewers today and had my wife check them before sending. It appears that I missed the corrective comments from the first one before sending and it contains a litany of mistakes (nothing major) and spotted the comments on the second one and corrected before sending..

One of the two emails bounced back.. guess which one..

.. yup, the corrected, perfect one came back as the listed email address seems to be having issues and rejected it.

Oops, I was too busy concentrating on typing emails of introduction to some Japanese brewers that I seem to have missed the last class of the semester on this tedious course.. ah well.

I wish that I had a chance to see some of the six Nations rugby this year, #Scotland seem to have been fantastically well, losing just 2 games (to our Celtic kin) by a small amount of points and finishing above brexitania Snr. (Brexitania jnr. won - and fair play to them).. I have to try and watch next year’s tournament particularly if we will be moving to Japan towards the end of it.

My wife thought it would be a good idea to reach out to her home town’s government regarding our intention to apply for their rural regeneration scheme (it is a good idea) and it seems like we’ll have a video chat at 9am one day next week.. I am already exceptionally nervous, I only speak Japanese when in Japan and need a wind up period to get in to it.. was expecting an interview further down the road but not so soon.. I hope I don’t come across as entirely incompetent.. it’s an information session rather than an interview, I guess, but it feels like there is a lot riding on this meeting.. I hope the people in the village who have been talking to them about me haven’t exaggerated my Japanese level..

My daughter and I are just discovering the delights of “Pul Pul モルカー” on Netflix.. aside from the cuteness overload which my daughter loves, it’s actually really funny.. finally the relentless “Peppa pig” onslaught and weirdness that is “Cocomelon” has a worthy competitor.

Ooh it seems like Deepl has added Japanese to their translator since the last time I checked.

I just used it to translate an article from note and whilst the translation wasn’t perfect, it was very readable and a lot better than anything I remember from my uni days.

I’ll have to get my wife to verify how the English to Japanese translation holds up for one of my blog posts.. and if it’s good enough to use to translate my blog posts for that platform.

Now that my assignment is submitted and my final one isn’t released until 26th of April.. I have time to work on different things and maybe reach out to brewers for hopeful voice post-lockdown brewery visits and to pen (digitally) emails for Japanese brewers to introduce myself (though the initial ones know of me already).. but the first point of order, is a big decision concerning a more pressing question and yes, I think, having given serious consideration, I WILL have a beer with my lunch.

OK, today I will start and finish my 2nd assignment for this tedious course.

I need to write a reflective essay on how the 6 brewing safety courses that I completed could be applied in the mystical realm of whisky packaging and what, if any, further training might be required.

Maximum word count is 1,000 but given the whisky packaging process is seemingly a dark art not covered by any books or journals that I can find, I think 300 words is more likely..

.. now, how do I stretch “I don’t know and I don’t care” out to 300 words.. hmmm

My wife is quite keen on me posting to as there is a Japanese craft beer community there. It’s a a Japanese social media site of sorts, I guess.. a bit of a mixed bag of content and a little daunting..

I found out that it has an API and thought that maybe I could write a script to syndicate to it but it seems the API is pull only.. I think, so no dice..

It’s a lot of things that I have been actively avoiding but realistically for networking purposes I will have to give it a go.. I feel I should write some Japanese as it feels pretty arrogant to me to land on a seemingly monolingual platform and post in another language but my wife assures me that I should post in English anyway.. we’ll see how this develops.. but POSSE’ing to it would be a huge preference if I’m going to stick with it.

Had the first of what I hope is many hilarious ‘trying to raise a bilingual child’ moments earlier today..

We were eating dinner and chatting and my daughter was babbling, and said something to mama along the lines of ” grumpy face?” to which my wife distractedly responded, yes and pointed at me.. then she muttered something along the lines of “意味が分からない” which means “I didn’t understand the meaning”..

My daughter put her hand on my wife’s arm and slowly enunciated, “I said GRUMPY”

It may have been a ‘you had to be there’ moment but I’m still giggling about it..l

Mair 80 Bobbin

Notes from brew day #12
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 4-minute read

What’s this? A brew day blog post on the actual brew day? My, aren’t we organised!

With reference to the title, ‘mair’ is Scots for ‘more’ and colloquially a shilling was called a bob back in the day, with the Scottish beers being often referred to as 70 bob or 80 bob etc.

As a result of having some excess grains and hops from my previous brew , today’s beer will be unique and I guess this was my first attempt to design my own recipe. It wasn’t merely a matter of ordering less grains and swapping in those I had in store, though that was part of it! I actually made some conscious decisions on grain choice with respect to my brew day plan.

My previous 80/- brew day had a 50 minute mash, which if I understand correctly results in a sweeter beer as there is a smaller window for the amylase enzymes to break down complex sugars into mono- or di-saccharides which can be consumed by yeast. The result would be a lower alcohol beer as there is less ethanol converted and due to a higher amount of residual sugars a richer mouthfeel and sweeter beer. At least this is my understanding. However, I want to provide as much nutrition to the yeast as possible, to exhaust it before conditioning and I think the 50 minute mash, or at least my management of it led to an excess in active, hungry yeast in the resultant beer, or at least at the bottom of the keg of said beer.

So, I went with the more familiar 60 minute mash but I still want this beer to be reasonably sweet, for future addition of a slightly bitter adjunct, and as such I opted to include Melanoidin malts, 10% of the grain bill. The blurb on the brewstore website states that if this ratio of aromatic (melanoidin) are added it can add a honey-like flavour to the beer.. Sounds good to me and should hopefully make up for the lower volume of residual sugars in my beer, to some extent.

With regards to the hops I have (Magnum, First Golding and Sorachi Ace), I did a bit of reading about their bittering and flavour profiles and decided to include both Magnum and First Golding.

  • Sorachi Ace if used for bittering can lead to a an intense lemon flavour but for flavouring it can bring vanilla, tea & coriander notes, these both sound great but I mis-remembered and thought that these weren’t all suitable for this beer. I intended to use them towards the end of the boil initially.
  • First Golding is a very commonly used hop for this style of beer, its bittering contribution provides a refreshing crisp finish and when used for flavouring can bring orange, marmalade and soft spices to the beer. Both sound good, I’ve gone with this as my primary bittering hop and added some at the end for flavour.
  • Lastly Magnum, a hop with high alpha acid content which is very popular for bittering IPAs, Pils etc. (In Europe anyway). Though it isn’t used much as a flavouring hop, it apparently can impart subtle spice aromas, like nutmeg and this holds interest to me. As such, I’m going with some Magnum mid-boil so that it’s bittering contribution is there but restrained and some in the last 10 minutes with a hope that it subtly adds a little complexity to the flavour.

On double checking the qualities of the hops, I actually did mean to use some sorachi ace.. oh well, plenty left for next time.

No dry hopping, this is ostensibly a malty beer.

For yeast, mainly due to limited alternative stocks at the brewstore, I’ve gone with WLP029 - Edinburgh Ale. It’s the same yeast used for the previous 80 shilling brews and it makes sense to have some part of each brew to remain uniform.

I will create a recipe template for the site and post the recipe details, stages and notes at a later date.

The original gravity of the beer on transfer to the fermentation vessel was 1.050 which is a bit higher than the other export beers that I’ve brewed which signifies a higher sugar content, so long as the yeast activity is fervent this should result in a slightly stronger beer, I’m hoping for the 5% ABV area which would make my final gravity target around 1.012.. but I’ll be happy with around 1.015ish, I guess. In addition, the beer looked very clear, was a gorgeous colour and smelled great.

It remains to be seen if my experimenting results in a tasty beer, but given this is my first attempt at my own recipe and will be tweaked going forward, so long as it isn’t bad it’s all good!

I am going to have to change beer types soon though as I am running out of 80 shilling based puns for blog titles! Let’s face it, in that regard, I’m never going to top 80 chillin !

Alice Porteresque

Notes from brew day #11
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 4-minute read

I departed from my current series of Scottish export type ales to make another dark beer for my birthday, or rather the brew day was for my birthday the actual beer is still a few weeks away. I opted for one of Brewdog’s recipes which they have open-sourced for several years, all publicly available for free as in pdf format, or on their website or for a small fee as a hardback book. As this is an published and open-sourced recipe and not part of copyrighted recipe book I can actually post the details for a change! Brewdog has a lot of critics, but I’m not one of them, I enjoy a number of their beers and commend their efforts towards sustainability . I am not however associated with Brewdog or in any way a Brewdog fanboi, unless James discovers this page and hey! I’d really love to come and see your brewery!

Another departure I made was that I ordered the ingredients of this brew from The Malt Miller rather than The Brewstore as the recipe calls for specific grains, yeast and hops that were unfortunately not available from my preferred, more local, supplier. I initially tried to find alternatives for each of the grains but it soon became clear that I was moving further and further from replicating the Brewdog version of the beer that I just had to look elsewhere. I was very pleased with the delivery and service from The Malt Miller and my only criticism is that I had to order larger quantities of grains than required as they don’t offer the smaller increments that The Brewstore does, opting for 50g implements rather than 10g. I also had to buy 100g hops packets even if only 5g of hops were required but hey ho, the excess will not go to waste!

On to the Brew day! The full recipe can be found here and the ingredients for a 20L brew were as follows: Malts:

  • 2.63kg of Extra Pale
  • 0.88kg of Munich
  • 0.38kg of Crystal 150
  • 0.31kg of Special W - which I couldn’t find so replaced with Dark Crystal
  • 0.44kg of Carafa Special Type 1
  • 0.38kg of Flaked Oats - Which were unavailable so I used torrified Oats
  • 0.31kg of Torrified Wheat


  • 5g of Magnum at the start (Bitter) - only 5 grams of bittering hops.. presumably this recipe was designed at higher volume and this is a scale down, but maybe not shrug.
  • 25g of First Gold in the middle (Flavour) - had to somewhat guess here, my understanding is that if the hops were added in the middle (30m) they would be roughly 50% bittering and 50% flavour, so I opted for 25 minutes before the end of the boil.
  • 25g of First Gold at the end (Flavour) - It isn’t uncommon to add hops at 0 minutes left but I read that end could mean anywhere from 15 minutes left to 0, so I opted for 5 minutes until end of the boil for this addition.
  • 25g of Sorachi Ace at the end (Flavour) - same as above.


  • Wyeast 1056 - American Ale - This was the first time that I used Wyeast and it was a smack-pack, where you smack the .. pack.. to burst the liquid yeast sachet, introducing it to a solution which activates and nourishes it before pitching into the fermenter. Pretty neat!

Not really much to say about the day itself, it went to plan without any drama, it was very enjoyable and followed by popcorn and movie day with my daughter, a good day all round.

Whilst I haven’t yet transferred the beer from fermenter to keg and therefore don’t have an actual FINAL gravity reading, it has been stable for the past few measurements.. the scores on the board (I do care this time!) are:

Brewdog Alice Porter Original Gravity: 1.053
JK’s Alice Porteresque Original Gravity: 1.053 - booyah!

Brewdog Alice Porter Final Gravity: 1.013
JK’s Alice Porteresque Final(ish) Gravity: 1.012 - やった!

Brewdog Alice Porter ABV: 5.2%
JK’s Alice Porteresque ABV: 5.3%

I’ve no idea how close to the original this is going to be once it has finished its journey but {your deity of choice or not} on a bike I am looking forward to tasting it!

5 brew days in the first quarter of the year (even though the first one was a failure)! Target of 15 beers in 2021 looking very attainable!

Had a taste of the wort before adding yeast and if I’ve done the right thing with the mash, then hopefully some of the sweetness will carry through to the beer.

Had a nice caramel aroma but that is likely to dissipate through fermentation.. probably about 6 weeks before this one is tastes as the style appears to benefit from a longer maturation period..

In my last blog post about my previous brew day (my first original recipe attempt), I did a complete finger in the air guess at what the final gravity of my beer would be, or rather that I wanted it to be so as to hit 5% ABV.. with a starting gravity of 1.050, I said I was “targeting” (yeah, like any part of it was planned or intentional) 1.012 but that I’d be content with 1.015/1.016.. well final scores on the board were…. (….=drumroll) a final gravity of 1.012 and an ABV of 5%, hahaha!

TODO list for this evening:

  • Clean and sanitise keg
  • Clean and sanitise beer line
  • Transfer beer from fermenter to keg
  • Clean and sanitise fermenter
  • Clean and sanitise mash tun
  • Write up brew day plan for tomorrow
  • Stop giggling at the rugby scores


I have never bought an apple product (as far as I recall) but I did own an iPhone 3.. which I won in a podcast raffle.. the host was upgrading his phone and gave it away in a bizarre competition. Entrants had to give a ‘reason’ for consideration, then the names were written on bits of paper and drawn from a food blender.. my name was pulled out and shortly afterwards an English host of a podcast in Tokyo, sent his phone to a Scotsman in Osaka.. I disliked the phone so much that before my exchange year in Japan had finished, I had switched to a Japanese flip-phone.

I guess, I never really shared this before with regards to my future brewing plans. Initially, so that someone didn’t usurp them but that’s very unlikely and given how supportive the fledgling craft beer community in our future prefecture is then I don’t really feel the need to be secretive 😄

I have no plans for world domination, I just want a modest sized brewery selling locally and contributing to the local community.. very directly in respect to the type of beers which I hope to make…

My in-laws are partners in a tea farm near the village (formerly one of the biggest in Western Japan) and my plan is to brew beer using their tea.. not exactly an epoch-defining plan there are plenty of tea-infused beers, but they do tend to largely be IPAs, subtly infused and not usually with green tea.. I want to make flavour-packed beers, subtle is not my game and so I am trying to design beers (even though a mere novice) that can handle different types of green tea in a non-subtle way but are beers first and foremost.. and completely respect the tea being used..

This is why I am brewing 80/- beers at the moment.. partly because they are a Scottish beer style but they traditionally have flavour notes and a sweetness level that I suspect can be ramped up and enhanced by a 焙じ茶 (a roasted green tea).. I have two other styles planned initially using 玄米茶 (green tea toasted with brown rice) and a bitter powdered green tea similar to maccha whose name I don’t recall.. So I’m working on base recipes now and will experiment with adding tea in the 2nd half of the year.


Looks like Ryan is on the verge of finalising bridgy fed compatibility with pleroma and with the imminent changes I’m hopeful that it will work with pixelfed (at least) too. Had to do a bit of detective work with my logs to identify the (hopeful) fix but given the issue has been open since 2017, we’ve made a good bit of progress in the past week or so!

I think I’m going to mirror some indieweb <-> activitypub projects to my Gitea instance and slowly try to learn how they work, how to hack them and eventually properly integrate activitypub into my site (or splice my site onto activitypub).. seems like a chunky project to potter about on over a prolongued period..

.. in the meantime I’ll keep trying to help the active devs of the existing apps increase compatibility

Four of six (AKA 20% of assignment) training courses completed today, will finish the others tomorrow and then I guess I need to find out what the typical whisky packaging process consists of..


The demon who has been possessing my daughter for the past few weeks seemingly decided to take the weekend off and it was fantastic, spirits lifted!

It occurred to me today that I hadn’t had a baked 🥔 for a very long time and set out to fix that..

Baked potato and homemade baked beans, a ginger glazed Scottish flat mushroom and some grilled asparagus.. I am stuffed!

A large baked potato with crispy skin topped with cannelini beans in a tomato sauce, behind are some grilled asparagus spears and a glazed flat mushroom


J K 🇯🇵🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | personal site replied to

Looks like the issues page for both x-ray and aperture are somewhat neglected. Shame, from what I can see they are both somewhat central to much of the indieweb..

I should look at self-hosting some of the endpoints at some point, it still takes a while for posts to make their way through the corridors to my client. There is an algorithm that essentially gives you a score based on post frequency, and as I’m not a frequent poster mine have to sit in a waiting room reading old magazines for a while before being seen.

Been doing a bit of troubleshooting and investigating to help the bridgy fed dev get pleroma compatibility working (next up is pixelfed), primarily to make moving away from pleroma a possibility.. it feels good, progress is being made.

I wonder if I’ll have as much success when I move my focus onto x-ray and how it parses atom/RSS feeds.. indigenous, together etc. are really nice social readers but the way that these feeds are parses leads to a sub-par user experience.

J K 🇯🇵🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | personal site replied to

The next assignment involves completing six industry safety courses and providing the completion certificates alongside a short reflective essay.. 30% just for completing the courses.. OK, sure..

Right, I need to shake off this sleepy head of mine and focus on finishing my assignment.. too distracted by activitypub activities yesterday.

Watched a little bit of a peertube live stream for the first time this evening.. seems like the max resolution was 480px and there was still a lot of buffering and blockiness..

Also watched an owncast stream and I’m definitely more impressed by it, mileage is going to vary depending on streaming hardware etc. And I had some buffering and some low quality patches but when it was good, it was crystal clear.. looking forward to seeing how this processes.

There are a few downsides that I’ll need to consider if I do switch my activitypub identity to my website using bridgy fed, aside from current compatability issues with non-mastodon sites..

I’ll not have the multi-level blocking functionality offered by a fully-fledged activity pub app.. but on the flip side I do control the proxy server so can probably block domains quite easily.. could follow tusky’s lead and Rick roll them..

I won’t be able to follow people from my account.. but can follow their RSS/atom/microformats streams and interact with their public posts..

Only public posts, both reading and writing.. the latter not being an issue but the former is a little disappointing.

I’ll need to do some testing once pleroma compatibility works to check if I can CW posts.. I can with my syndication script.. and I really value that feature.

On the plus side I wouldn’t have to perform software breaking updates and then figure out why shit doesn’t work and my database SBC would be under considerably less stress.

Bridgy fed is just a first step though, at some point I would like to work out how to properly integrate activitypub into my site so that I could have a little more control over it.

Right then, if I’ve fixed my atom feed and added the link to bridgy fed for posts.. nginx rule added.. so long as my beehive -> process works then maybe my site is now activitypubbed.. maybe..

I think I’m going to give a go this morning before I settle into my uni assignment.. if it works, then I should shortly have an activitypub handle for my website.. which would be

.. not sure what if it will replace this account as I think it will be limited to interactions with my posts but we’ll see..

As the latest pleroma update has rendered the Mastodon API instance page (on my instance) non-functional which breaks its connection with which I use to post interactions from here back to my site.. I’m wondering if I can replicate the function with my own infrastructure.. and think it should just be a matter of monitoring my atom feed via beehive and sending the URL to a webmentions endpoint.. sounds theoretically doable.


Ooh the launch time for Firefox on Manjaro phosh beta 6 is down to about 5-6 seconds from 12-15.. still not particularly well adjusted for the small screen, adding add-ons and using menus are somewhat frustrating but a nice speed improvement.


We almost made it..

My daughter is 3 in a few months time and it looked like we were just going to happily drift past the terrible twos phase.. but in the past couple of weeks she has firmly rooted herself in her new found hellborne role and I suspect that’s us for the next decade or two..

.. so close (yes, I know it doesn’t magically vanish when she hits 3).. still.. only 24 minutes until bed time..

Had a pretty productive day of studying, and although most of the material I read is snooze inducing, I read one journal article (out of 20+) which was interesting and I think I’ll follow up post-assignment.

It was around the reuse of spent hops as a post-fermentation fining agent.. I like the idea of being able to reuse an essentially single use ingredient at a later stage in the process to aid with sedimentation/clarification.. especially since I’ve no intention of using collagen from tropical fish bladders in my brewing process..


I’ve been putting off this tedious assignment for too long, it’s due in a little over a week so I best get to it.. Enthusiasm levels are minimal but it has to get done, only aiming to pass, I care not a jot about the result otherwise.. none of the concepts or technologies I have to read and write about will feature in my future brewery but regardless .. where did I put my study head.. it must be around here somewhere.

Seems like for the time being self-hosting of is not doable for me as the appservice doesn’t have an arm64 container.. my preference would be to build/install without any docker involvement at all but all in good time, it’s a new project after all.

Still, my rpi4 is functional again after cloning the goosed microsd card to a new one.

I notice in the latest conflict riddled bunch of updates on my Manjaro pc that pipewire is installed (a replacement for pulseaudio) which begs the question where are the sound related settings in Manjaro?

Stern note to self: researching your impending uni assignments is the priority.. not building a second matrix server and toying about with additional site commenting.. regardless of how cool it looks and how tedious an assignment on filtration is..

Matrix-powered site commenting sounds interesting, might have to take a deeper look at and see if I can make it play nicely with my existing webmentions comments.. or build a dendrite server linked to my personal site.. hmmm..


Updated to Manjaro Phosh Beta 6 on my pinephone today, had been doing updates since beta 4 so missed some of the new stuff. Anbox now functions (after around 3 minutes to launch) and tusky worked reasonably well, but the most important android app for me (Indigenous) couldn’t complete the authentication journey so still not a replacement. I’ll test a few more android apps but I’ll probably not switch over until there are Linux equivalents (scaled) for the apps I use most often.

Haven’t tested since the reinstall but the recent update to the modem wakes the phone from sleep much more quickly when receiving calls, which is great!


The shallow well of 80 shilling puns appears to have run dry.. struggling to come up with a blog title..

Brew day! Watching the boil and waiting for hop addition number 2 and I’ve already drafted the blog post.. WHAAAT? So obviously, all is going well thus far. It’s my first unique recipe, so fingers crossed!


From the mouths of babes..

After a 10km walk today I was standing at the door waiting for our dog to come in, I had a bag of spicy peanuts from Lidl in hand and was looking forward to a beer..

My almost 3 year old daughter launched an inquisitive line of questioning about the bag in my hand, were they for the dog? what were they? etc. Culminating in the (genuine) question, ”Does mama not love Papa’s nuts?”

.. to which, after confirming the question, I merely responded “not as much as she used to”

Thinking about how I pull all of the calculations from a multi-marker GPX file that I might want to display on a webpage..

The file contains start time then multiple track segments with latitude, longitude, elevation, speed and time elements in each.

For total distance I’d need to figure out how to measure between the coordinates and elevations of each consecutive segment (?) and then total each of these.

Duration should be easy, it’s just the difference between the first and last timestamp - though modifications are probably required for pauses.. however those are measured..

Pace, I gather would be duration divided by distance.. my quick calculations on this aren’t exactly the same as the apps, but presumably this is down to number of decimal places being used in the calculations..

Which leaves calories burned.. this will require a constant for my weight but other than that I’ve no idea..

Then output all of that into a yaml file for Hugo to render..

Seems like a big job.. I wonder if there is a Linux command line tool that can do all of this already?

These are the steps I may need to take to avoid google and JavaScript..

Hugo challenge no. 16473829

How to paginate a single page populated by data files?

Probably very easy but ill- or crypitically-documented, as per usual.

80 Chillin

Notes from brew day #10
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 4-minute read

TLDR: This brew day was successful, in that at the end of it wort was transferred to my conical fermenter. As of yet, some weeks later it is not ready for drinking testament to which is that I just suffered a weekend of yeast eating all available mono-saccharides they could find within in my gut.

The grain bill for my tenth foray into homebrewing was taken from Craft Brew by Euan Ferguson and is more or less identical to that of William Bros ’s 80/- recipe included in the book. William Bros are a craft brewery from Alloa , home of my aunt and also a town with a brewing heritage and one that I, for some reason, associate with 80 shilling.

The hops were Goldings 5.2% (the percentage being an indication of alpha acid volumes) and the yeast was White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast (WLP028).

What was notable about this recipe were the lack of volumes for water and wort at the various stages and any indicative suggested method to follow. As such, I crafted a brew day plan based on previous brews and hope that it works out.

In absolute contrast to the previous attempt at this beer, this brew day was almost flawless. After the Grainfather blocked pipe incident that sabotaged my previous brew, I took to the net to find a solution and found that Grainfather themselves had admitted this flaw exists and created a filter basket which sits at the top of the mash tun above the upper filter plate and catches errant grains before they reach the circulation pipe.. at least in theory. In practice, this only works if you are brewing a beer with sufficient enough a grain bill to allow the upper plate to sit high enough for the walls of the new filter basket to sit higher than the height of the circulation pipe inlet at its lowest setting.. this was not the case in this brew and I had to spend 47 of the 50 minutes holding the basket in place, with my fingers millimetres above the 71°C wort being circulated below. It seems to me that a far more useful solution to the issue would have been for the basket to be welded to the removable circulation pipe inlet hence ensuring the basket cannot fall below the height of the inlet itself. As mentioned in the previous blog post, looking into this a bit more to see if I could fashion this solution, instructed me that this needs a brazing specialist and is not really a viable option during lockdown.

Me holding a filter basket in place during the mash

Aside from this, the brew day was good. This was the first brew which I’ve done that mandates a 50 minute mash, previously this has always been at least 60 minutes. The purpose of the shorter mash is presumably to allow for a sweeter wort and resultantly a sweeter beer as the amylase enzymes have less time to breakdown the non-fermentable polysaccharides, so a greater volume of these are transferred to the fermentation vessel and as the yeast cannae eat them, into the beer. As I am trying to work towards a reasonably sweet brown ale for a future recipe idea, I was happy to give this a go.

The nominal O(riginal)G(ravity) target for this beer (it was a bit of a hybrid but taking the gravity targets from the William Bros recipe) was 1.048 S(tandard)G and I hit 1.043 which is a little further from that target than I would normally hit if following the recipe verbatim, but the focus of these series of beers is the impact of the grain on the colour and flavour of the beer so hitting gravity targets is an added bonus, if it happens. The F(inal)G of the William Bros beer was 1.012 with an ABV of 4.2%, the FG of my beer after two weeks in the fermenter was 1.018 which would be disappointingly high if I cared, but I don’t.. honest.. and results in an ABV of 3.9%.

The current status of the beer has been impacted a little by my kegerator finagling (replacing spar and clasp connections with John Guest connections, replacing gas regulator and trying to eliminate the gas leak that I previously found) and so doesn’t seem to have carbonated effectively with the two weeks of conditioning, it’s back on the gas feed and I’m giving it another week or two. I do NOT want to ingest more live yeast from this beer! On the plus side, the aroma is excellent, it has a treacle-like richness to it that I hope is reflected in the final beer, whenever it decides that it is ready!

I am about to keg my latest beer from my eleventh brew day and hope to cold crash it if I can convince my beer fridge to run at close to or below 0°C, I’ll condition it first to try and avoid any oxidation, finger’s crossed that it works!

The Grainfather blue LED panel displaying current temperature whilst it heats the strike water

A close up of some small kernel unmilled oats

A close up of mixed malted barley prior to mash in

Bit of a dreich day for my 2nd lunchtime bike ride.. but I am of rain, I was born in Scotland, dreich is my daily driver, a wee bit of rain and wind won’t stop me… Only my resistant legs can do that! 33 minutes more of this psyching up to go.

Going to give FitoTrack a go today.

What I should be doing and will attempt to start this evening: research for boring assignment due in 3 weeks

What I will try not to get side-tracked by this evening: pre-emptively working out how, or hacking a way to, automatically upload and display gpx files from bike rides to a section of my personal website.. or literally anything else.

Today, for the first time in many years, I took a full hour for a lunch break.. went for a bike ride (also first time in years) and for the next 5 minutes am ignoring the messages sent to me that ignored my “away” status..

Feels good! Though due to my negative fitness levels I suspect the feeling will be short-lived.. regardless, will do the same again tomorrow, and the next day etc.

Learning first hand what it is like to be a fermentation vessel this weekend.. too much live yeast still in the small sample of newest beer that has been fermenting and conditioning for four weeks.. will give it longer and also look into conversion kits for my Cornelius kegs to draw the beer from the top, rather than the bottom and avoid the sediment.. This is a lesson that I could have done without!


When I made the scotch broth soup last weekend, I based it loosely on a recipe I found which seemed to understand what the soup is all about.. I didn’t realise at the time that the recipe site was that of a Scottish vegan.. and only discovered later that he also has recipes for stories and haggis the latter of which I am making tonight.. fingers crossed!


The Friday childminder sent a photo of a questionnaire that she had asked my daughter, mainly about favourites etc. One of the questions was “Who is your best friend?” and even though her answer had changed by the time we asked her a few hours later.. in that moment, her answer was “My Papa”.. that brought some hydration to the old eyes, that did.


My left arm is deserting me.. Trying to slide beer and gas lines in to john guest fittings is not as easy as the videos suggest.. pushing with all my might, albeit at very awkward angles and the pipes in at least 50% of the connections leak CO2 with the slightest of movement.. and I suspect a little without any motion but I can’t hear it.. resting for a while to see if I regain strength in my arm for round 3.. peched!


Swapped out the gas regulator for my kegerator this evening.. hopefully that’ll be the end of the CO2 leaks..


Just sent a long email to another aspiring craft brewer who moved to our (hopefully) future village in rural Japan, last December. He is interning at the new brewery whose brewer I contacted by letter in December.

I can’t help myself, such is my enthusiasm about our future plans that communications about them with potential collaborators become epically long 😆

I offered, licenses permitting, to share research papers that I come across that he might find interesting.. now I need to find out if there is a fallback academic license for reports which don’t explicitly declare theirs..

Photos of today’s cooking efforts

A Scotch broth like soup, maybe the best I’ve made so far (imho)

Chilli, salsa, guacamole (with whole coriander leafs because someone - me - forgot to chop them) and nachos with way too little chilli or cheese (alternative).

all #vegan and all delicious!

close up shot of a brownish soup with various root vegetables, barley, spinach and some fresh parsley Vegan chilli "non" carne, kidney and black beans, vegetables, vegan mince in a brown, spicy sauce with some coriander A yellow, green salsa with specks of red chillies, pretty moist looking. guacamole, a green avocado dish with red chillies, cherry tomatoes, peppers and fresh coriander baked nachos, topped with the vegan chilli, some jalapenos and a miserly portion of grated vegan cheese close up of the nachos, salsa and guacamole from previous photos on a small side plate.


Spent a few hours cooking for pleasure today, it’s a bit of a rarity as I try to compress as much brewing into the year as I can but happy with results so far!

Made a Scotch broth inspired soup to go with the rye bread my wife is baking and a batch of chili non carne for nachos later.. will make guacamole and salsa once the toddler is asleep.. first time cooking with chillies since my daughter started eating the same food as us and am very excited about eating it! All #vegan of course.

Will post some photos later when the remainder of the dish is made and nachos constructed!


Aha! The reason that my outgoing webmention replies, likes etc. were being rejected by telegraph (or x-ray by the looks of things) was due to me inadvertently nesting the target URL in an h-cite element.. oops. Should be fixed now.. I need to follow more indieweb website feeds now. Though I have a strong preference for sites which aren’t entirely about tech topics.


My wife presented me with an early valentine’s day gift today.. the first gift for such an ”occasion" in our almost 11 years together.. Super Smash Bros Ultimate for the switch.. I guess lockdown is really getting to her..

I have just replaced DroneCI with a VERY simple PHP script and added as a webhook to my Gitea repository.. Seems to work and is almost instantaneous instead of from 20 minutes to never..

Will give it a short while live on one site before rolling out to others..

Looking into alternatives to DroneCI for my Hugo & Gitea set up.. it has become unbearably slow and now all of a sudden, the (unchanged) process flow is removing all site CSS if I delete a post..

On a git commit, it needs to:

  1. git pull to local repository on web server
  2. run a Hugo build command

Simple enough.. I wonder if I can just create a script as a Gitea webhook?

A pretty smooth brew day followed by popcorn and movie and now on to pillow fort construction.. good day!

I’m fairly sure that were I able to watch the #ENGvSCO match I’d have raised the roof with all of my frustrated swearing.. but the first win in Twickenham since I was 6 years old and on my birthday too, nice! Well done lads, maybe practice kicking before the next match though, eh?


I can’t be entirely sure of the accuracy of the claims for .. reasons.. but I hear from multiple, varied sources that prior to 1977 the 6th of February was horrific, a day regularly overcome by dread.. so, you’re welcome! Though I will take no responsibility for your government’s decisions or lack thereof with regards to currently horrific circumstances.


My next brew day is Sunday and for the first time I’ll be kegging a beer on the same day as making the next one! Going to try and focus on reducing potential oxygen uptake during kegging.. thinking of doing a CO2 purge of the keg before pouring and then do a gas release and refill after sealing to push out any stowaway oxygen.


Outrageously exhausting (I am so unfit!) 4 mile round trip to refill my CO2 canister done!

This time I weighed the canister before and after. It weighted 15.5kg empty before the refill and 22.2kg once filled and has a capacity of 6.35kg apparently.. so, yeah.. eh.. definitely not under-filled.. now I’m curious about whether CO2 becomes heavier when it warms up..


A few days ago I popped into the pinephone matrix room, thinking it’d be a good place to search for any queries that come up.. I’ve never seen so active a room! Probably as a result (unless I’m mistaken) of bridging to IRC, discord and telegram.. it’s great to see so much activity and the use of ample bridging but had to drop out.. the chat feed is far too busy for me to follow and I think if I tried to search for something in the room my synapse node would have a panic attack.

In Scotland, there is a social enteprise brewery called Brewgooder, if I recall correctly, they were a established by a collaboration between Brewdog and Josh Littlejohn whose most notable other social enterprise tackles homelessness in very inspirational ways. His company Social Bite employs and trains homeless folks and all profits are put towards ending homelessness, they have built a small village in Edinburgh for homeless and in particular those with drug dependencies which includes free counselling and is a fantastic initiative.. Anyway, side-tracked a bit.. 100% of Brewgooder’s profits are invested in providing infrastructure for the provision of clean water in Africa, largely Malawi it seems, which makes sense as Scotland and Malawi have some sort of long-standing partnership, so easy access.

I’m an avid supporter of these enterprises and am on a path to one day having my own brewery, though very early days, it will be several years before then.. However, once established, I intend to visit breweries in Africa to learn first-hand about Sorghum beers and learn as much as I can about this grain. Then, I’ll grow it and use it to brew a beer which will be a permanent line.. Probably a lager, even though I have previously stated that it is a type of beer I have no interest in brewing, particularly in Japan where the giants of brewing (Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo, Suntory) own the market.. But lager is Japan’s favourite beer and so will likely sell more than my other lines. If, or rather when that happens, 100% of the profits of that beer will be sent to Africa. In fact, any experimental beers using sorgham will be the same. I will need to research much closer to the time the best way to direct the funds to those most needy and will reach out to those more knowledgable than I, but this is my “commitment” as of now. Charity as a social construct seems to be a little rare in Japan but we’ll change that, the Japanese are as kind and charitable as anyone else so I don’t suppose it’ll be a hard sell.

The initial focus of my brewery will be to support local community projects, to promote local artists and to provide a reasonable income for my family and the families of those who to choose to join us. We have no plans of world or even Japan-wide domination so even if our Sorgham-based lager is our most popular line the contribution to Africa is likely to be smaller than that of Brewgooder.. But maybe we can encourage wealthier humanitarians to multiply our efforts.. we’ll see.

The continent of Africa owes nothing to anyone but we all owe everything to her. For the first time in my life I can see a path (other than financially contributing meagre amounts, when I can afford to, to other initiatives) to help tangibly elevate development in Africa,. The so-called “third world” needs us and the “first world” needs a lasting lesson in humility. There is no justification for the struggle for basic amenities that many of us take for granted and squander.. clean water still isn’t a guaranteed commodity in many places ffs! Water! This is the cradle of humanity we’re talking about..

It is obviously very easy to make these statements about a theoretical future company, and the brewery might never happen (it will!) but when we are in a position to do so, we will make a difference! This, should and will be a blog entry and one which will feature in all of our “theoretical” future business ethics statements.


Took a 15.5kg empty gas canister our for a long walk today..

.. Probably should have checked if the refill place opens on a Saturday, before we left.

Trying to set up my pleroma instance to use a scaleway S3 bucket.. Finally got it to read and display media.. But struggling with uploading/posting so far..

Shall be updating my pixelfed instance to v0.10.10 this morning, wonder how many github issues I’ll have to raise as a result ;p


I decided that for my next brew day which is on my birthday weekend to change it up a bit and try a recipe from a major brewer which I have both tasted and enjoyed and as they open source their recipes, that brewer is Brewdog and the beer is Alice Porter.

Normal 80/- focussed service will return afterwards.


As much as I like the automation of my website publishing process, I really don’t think that DroneCI is well suited for arm (or maybe the fault lies with docker and may be rpi specific). The job consists of 3 steps/modules:

  1. Git clone. Takes a few seconds manually but the stage took 3m34s to complete for the job I’m currently waiting on finishing

  2. Hugo build, can see from the output that the build took 2591ms.. Stage took 2m10s

  3. Scp pull.. 45 seconds here.. Though in reality fraction of the time..

It runs on a rasperry pi 4 (2GB) though isn’t the only running service.. However, my similarly specced pine64 devices don’t struggle with the multiple jobs they run.


End of the Beginning

Notes from brew day #9
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 4-minute read

TLDR: This will be a short post as my first brew day of the year was sabotaged by a blocked pipe! However, given that this site is primarily a journal of my brewing experiences and lessons it would be amiss of me to exclude it.

The grain bill for my ninth foray into homebrewing was taken from Craft Brew by Euan Ferguson and is more or less identical to that of William Bros ’s 80/- recipe included in the book. William Bros are a craft brewery from Alloa , home of my aunt and also a town with a brewing heritage and one that I, for some reason, associate with 80 shilling.

The hops were Goldings 5.2% (the percentage being an indication of alpha acid volumes) and the yeast was (unused but would have been) White Labs Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast (WLP028).

What was notable about this recipe were the lack of volumes for water and wort at the various stages and any indicative suggested method to follow. As such, I crafted a brew day plan based on previous brews and hope that it works out.

The brew day was a little less organised than usual but went reasonably smoothly until post-boil when it came time to rapidly cool the wort before transferal into the conical fermenter. The metal circulation pipe on the grainfather got blocked by wayward grains and therefore wasn’t pushing the boiling hot wort through the counterflow chiller, also as the pipe contained boiling hot wort and I don’t have heat resistant gloves, I was unable to try to investigate and fix until the wort cooled to a more reasonable temperature. It took several hours for the wort to cool by which time I had struck the day off as spoiled. If you let wort cool naturally then it massively increases the risk of dimethyl sulfide formation which would have resulted in a very unpleasant beer.

In the heat of frustration, I had decided that after a string of issues with the Grainfather that I was going to immediately replace it. However, once I had naturally cooled down over a period of some hours, I thought better of spending several hundreds of £s for a replacement. As it happens, the grain creep into the pipes is a known issue and after customer feedback to that effect a new filter was created which should help control this. It was £16 so I bought it. This should stop overflow grains getting into the mash pipe and into the wort at the bottom of the mash tun, which should reduce the amount of grains making it into the circulation pipe (though given I had to hold it in place for the duration of the 50 minute mash during brew day #10, I feel perhaps it might have been designed a little better - apparently correcting this flaw will require a brazing specialist so £16 is potentially only the start!).

However, there is an additional point of risk. The inner sleeve\grain basket of the unit has a gap between it and the mash tun (which it needs) and if pouring grains in from a wide receptacle (such as a big soup pot) then there is a risk that some grains will fall between the sleeve and the walls of the mash tun into the wort at the bottom and be sent to the recirculation pipe. The additional filter should catch these during mash though. I have (mid-mash on brew #10) adapted my process to transfer the grains using a small 500ml jug from pot to tun. I also need to order heat-resistant gloves as a back up.

Anyway - as I wrote the draft of this post (as always) I was brewing again, same recipe as above but with a clear pipe, a new tentatively positioned filter, a more organised start and due care during the mash in stage. Fingers crossed!

I wonder how much of a learning curve soldering has.. i have two small stainless steel parts of my brewing equipment which I believe would be more effective if they were bound together.

One slots snugly inside a hole on the other so its just a case of permanently joining them.


Brew day #10 today! A re-run of last week’s 80/- brew based loosely on ‘Williams Bros’ grain bill but timings, hops and yeast chosen from other similar style beer recipes.

Hopefully nothing will sabotage this brew!


Just cooked a simple roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts and mushroom dish based on the recipe at the bottom but I used chestnut mushrooms, had only (a slightly insufficient amount of) fresh flat leaf parsley, added kale and cooked freekeh (for the first time) rather than hard red wheat.

It was very tasty! I love freekeh it turns out, have eaten bulgur wheat many times in then past and freekeh is very similar just a better texture.

One issue was the cooking time.. Converted the fahrenheit oven temperature to celcius and thought this must be too high.. But went with it.. After 30 minutes (15 early) I took the tray out and the sprouts were overcooked and had lost their bite.

Didn’t take pictures but my wife wants me to make it again for lunch tomorrow so will try to remember to take a few snaps.

#Vegan #VeganCooking #WhatVegansEat


Well its official, my name and plans are now known to all of the craft brewers in our future prefecture! (There are only three and one further known future craft brewer).

I need to get to work on my introduction emails in Japanese to the two of those who I’ve not yet contacted!

Hopefully, by the time we move over next year finger’s crossed, I’ll have reached out to all of the brewers on the island of Shikoku and maybe some on Honshu too!

Exciting times ahead, will start sharing my ideas for a prefecture-wide craft brewing association and tie-in with the tourist board sooooon!


Trying out mobian on my pinephone and whilst its a similar experience to manjaro with phosh, one minor thing that is really impressing me is that mobile and wifi signals don’t appear to drop when the phone sleeps.. Which is a big improvement on the manjaro experience.


Export From 2020

Notes from brew day #8
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 5-minute read


For my final brew of 2020 and my first foray into brewing from recipe books as opposed to pre-measured and packaged kits, I opted for a Scottish export style beer, loosely an 80/- (shilling) style. Whilst I knew before I made the choice that I did not have the correct gas for conditioning this beer style - it prefers a CO2-Nitrogen mix and I only have CO2 - I opted for this beer style as a non-complex malty departure from stouts.

As the focus of this and future brews will be on learning the different flavour influences of the ingredients of beer and not so much on process, then I’ll ditch the template I had been using in previous posts for a looser, more flavour focused form.

I suspect that as I’m learning from recipes in copyrighted books, I’ll not be able to share exact details of the recipes but we’ll see how it goes.

..brew time!

The recipe that I followed was “Scottish Export” from BREW by James Morton .

The first challenge of this brew was that I was unable to order the precise ingredients listed in the recipe. So I turned to an online resource, brewing grain substition chart , for suggestions on replacements. A very basic but very handy reference spreadsheet for common grain alternatives.

I swapped out the Maris Otter, which is the base malt and makes up the bulk of the grain bill, for Golden Promise Finest Pale Ale, the Special B malt for Dark Crystal and the Pale Crystal malt for Light Crystal. The additional flavour malts were Amber and Chocolate.

The grain bill was ~4kg and each of the grains were measured in the following percentages of that total:

Grain % of total bill
Golden Promise 85%
Light Crystal 5%
Dark Crystal 5%
Amber 2.5%
Chocolate 2.5%

I had to also source a different hop as the suggested East Kent Goldings was out of stock, I had been assured by the recipe preamble that the hop choice wasn’t overly significant so I opted for Williamette, having never before heard of it (though this is a questionable reason for the choice).

The yeast was White Labs WLP028 - Edinburgh Scottish Ale Yeast.

I also used Irish Moss, for the first time, as a process aid - it to clarify the beer by enhancing the removal of some proteins that can otherwise contribute to haze formation.

As always, all ingredients were sourced from the Brewstore in Edinburgh.

The hope was for a malty, very lightly hopped brown ale which can be adapted and made my own in future brews. As this was the first attempt, I wasn’t expecting perfection just something I can work with as a base for furthering my understanding of the influence of the grains.

The brew day was very straightforward, it was an easy recipe to follow and everything went smoothly.

The beer

The resulting beer is drinkable but not overly enjoyable, it’s a bit reminiscent of how I remember this style of beer tasting in the 80’s but I had hoped for a little more of an exciting tipple (photo to be added once I have CO2 again to pour one).

The biggest disappointment is that there is very little head retention. This cannot be attributed to the non-preferred gas being used for conditioning, head retention is related to proteins and dextrose and it seems there was some deficiency there in the final beer. It is possible that the beer required more conditioning time before being poured, I left it for 2 weeks in a ~5°C kegerator, unfortunately I don’t really have anywhere to properly condition the beer at a stable, ideal temperature of 12°C, still perhaps it could have been conditioned for longer.

It is also possible that the replacement grains that I chose lacked the desirable properties of those in the recipe and that some adjustment might be required in order to protect the foam retention properties of the beer, for example, adding oats or wheat malts, or a greater proportion of crystal malts (though the latter seems unlikely given they already made up ~10% of the grain bill).

However, it is most likely that the addition of Irish Moss removed too much protein from the wort resulting in a poorer head retention. It used half a protofloc tablet for a 20L brew, but it seems like that measure is recommended for a 25L brew and as such this is likely the main culprit.

That said, as a first step in a learning process, I’m happy enough with it, we’ll drink it ;)


Plans for next beer - change up the grain bill and adjust irish moss measurement!

I found the recipe for Williams Bros Brewing Co. 80/- and have modified my grain bill based on it. I haven’t changed the yeast to match theirs, nor am I using the mix of hops that they are using, I will stick to a singular malt with few additions to simplify the process. The grain bill contains oats and malted wheat so hopefully the next beer will retain its foam for longer than the current one.


Plastic bags containing various malted grains, colours ranging from pail beige to dark brown - too much plastic! Golden Promise pale ale malted barley grains in a stainless steel pot Amber malted barley grains in a stainless steel pot Light and dark crystal malted barley grains side by side, light beige on left, dark brown on right, in stainless steel pot A small collection of dried, green Williamette hop pellets in a small, brown bamboo bowl A close up of a hydrometer measuring gravity of a brown beer with some chrome bar taps in the background A very clear brown beer in a sample container with a white kettle and black tiles in the background

First brew day of the year was going well, but cmpletely stopped in its tracks as the grainfather pump has stopped pumping.. Can’t ascertain if its a blockage or yet another technical flaw with this unit but either way, the brew is fucked.. My patience with grainfather is pretty much exhausted.. Going to look for a replacement.


It seems that my suspicions about the gas refill being very under-pressurised was spot on. Empty already after about 4 weeks.. Previous one lasted a year..


An evening of cleaning and sanitising brewing equipment awaits as tomorrow is the first of hopefully many brew days of the year!

Sticking with the same beer style as last time but this one being a blend of a handful of different recipes.. The previous beer is drinkable but not overly enjoyable and lack any sort of head\foam retention.. Drinks a bit like a Scottish export from the 80s.. Hoping this next one will correct some flaws.


Hmm after updating my instance to the latest round of pixelfed commits, my discover page is now entirely populated by posts made by myself..

Not that it was hugely meaningful before the changes, as the trending section was populated with posts that appeared in my timeline but I’m not sure that these new changes fulfil the brief of “discover” for a decentralised/federated app.. How is a user on a small single-(or few)user instance meant to discover anyone if it is local only and they only see their own posts?

I’m sure this is still a work in progress but given the importance of discoverability, particularly to smaller servers, why would anyone want to join anywhere but if their experience will be hamstrung elsewhere?

I can already play through the conversation with friend..

Friend: Oh this is a cool looking site, fairly familiar layout, sure, I’ll give it ago..

Me: I just send you an invite

Friend: eh, is there anyone other than you using this app?

Me: yes, haha, thousands of people

Friend: and I find them how?

Me: well you have to have pre-ordained innate knowledge of their existence, you know from experience with another activitypub app with enhanced discoverability options

Friend: activitywhat?

Me: of course despite my many attempts to get you to move over, this is your first account.. In that case you need to create an account on other instances and check their discover pages for interesting accounts.. But people also post photos from other non-pixelfed sites so if you want to find them you’ll need to sign up to another service, but I can give you an account on my..

Friend: Actually, never mind, thanks anyway..


My new uni course is very different in approach to the last one.. The previous course was comprehensively taught with mountains of relevant paper suggestions. This one is very much a hands off, go teach yourself, kind of course.. Almost no per topic literature suggestions for the first 2.5 hour lecture which was very much just a summary of the 5 slides of “learning materials”.

There will be lots of guest lectures which will hopefully be a little more generous with content, first from a professor of microbiology working at Diageo.

I have just read through the two assignments.. I’ve to create an industry briefing report on a proposal to replace an inefficient filtration process for the first, then complete a number of external safety courses then write a reflective essay for the second. Not riveting but at least researching both will provide useful information for the future.. Even though I intend on brewing unfiltered beers.


First lecture of new semester today, up to 2.5 hours long.. Not sure how likely it will be that I can watch and work every Monday afternoon but we’ll see.

On the plus side, hopefully I’ll find out details about both of the mid-semester assignments today and make a start on researching them.


I emailed a friend who used to be my Japanese tutor (both private then subsequently at uni), best teacher I ever had, to catch up and also offer assistance to her husband who I’d heard through a mutual friend was attempting to encourage the Japanese government to loosen their laws around home-brewing.

.. Turns out that her husband imports brewing equipment from California, where they live, to Japan and additionally has a consultancy which encourages and helps people to set up a brewery in Japan..

How fortuitious! So in return for my offer of help, I now have a return offer to help me set up my brewery when the time comes!


Turns out my HTC One was an M7 rather than an M8.. oops! I’ve now got LineageOS 16 running on it.. and just flashed /e/ to an HTC 10 to check it out too.. found an HTC U Ultra, which I hated, lasted less than a week before I gave it to my wife and ended my run of HTC phones.. might chuck LineageOS on it too.. see if I still hate it.


Installed ‘foliate’ on my pinephone and its currently my favourite app on the device. It is well scaled, responsive and I like how it connects to online catalogues.

Finishes ‘The strange case or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’, though I’m pretty sure I had read it a few years back.. now on to ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ .. then maybe something by a Scottish author which is set in Scotland as opposed to london.


Does anyone have a recommended website in the UK for purchasing second hand/refurbished phones?

This phone will now only charge occasionally, only from the fast power port of a powered usb hub, takes half a day to charger and almost entirely discharges the battery idling overnight..

The pinephone isn’t yet ready for daily use for me, I’m going to attempt once more to put lineageOS on a spare HTC One but failing that, I’m going to have to buy a used phone.

Suggestions or recommendations appreciated.


I stumbled upon a forum post which may have highlighted my desktop freezing during gaming issue.. i say may because it’ll take a fair bit of gameplay to know if it is fixed..

.. bios has RAM speed set to auto which decided to go with 2166MHz.. which is incorrect.. corrected it to 3600MHz and had no freezes at all during a few hours of gameplay, so fingers crossed!


I have a 3 point wishlist for our future home in Japan:

  1. Don’t be so cold as to afflict us with hypothermia
  2. Don’t be so hot as to afflict us with hyperthermia
  3. Don’t creak and echo on every footstep regardless of how we try to manoeuvre during the night.. our current house is an utter cu.. nightmare in this regard.

Point 1 is considerably more likely in rural Japan than point 2


Really finding the dry, recommended reading for my current uni course to be somewhat of a deterrent to studying.. I really need my final mark from my previous course to hopefully kick start my enthusiasm!


Woke up today to hear that a friend in our future home village was speaking to the local government office in relation to the scheme we’ll apply for next year, about an incoming new employee but also enquired our behalf to confirm that the scheme will still be running and available to non-Japanese applicants..

.. as it stands the scheme will be open and whilst our village has never had any foreign applicants other nearby villages have so it is possible.

.. following the meeting, the local government rep. visited my mother-in-law to talk about our application!

.. I also had a reasonably decent sleep for the first time in months..

Pretty good start to the day!


Back to work and uni today.. one of these things is better than the other..

My new course (on filtration and packaging) doesn’t have any prerecorded lecture materials uploaded (last course had all materials live weeks before it started) and it seems that rather than separating lectures and 1 hour live review sessions, we’ll have one almost 3 hour long weekly live session which will presumably be recorded and uploaded afterwards.. This is fine but attending an almost 3 hour session during a working day (and currently also looking after our daughter) is going to be somewhat of a stretch so I hope the uploaded sessions are available quickly. As I’m on the distance learning programme I’m not required to attend the live sessions anyway, but I did last semester and hope to be able to again this semester.

Will have to make some adjustments to my study plan as more time is going to be taken up by lectures etc. and a little less on reading.. still there are lots of guest lecturers so it should be interesting (and is probably why nothing is pre-recorded).

Still awaiting my final mark for semester 1 which I hope is shared soon.


Plans for 2021

The future is calling, there is work to be done!
Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 9-minute read

Back in January 2020, I wrote a blog post about plans for the upcoming year . The other day I was reading through the post and wrote a reflective review of progress made during the past year. This was a pretty satisfying process for me, so I figured that I would do the same for 2021 in the hopes that when I review progress at the end of the year, I’ll be even more satisfied.

The overarching goal for the year is similar to last year, progress towards becoming a brewer and preparation for applying for the Hidaka village kyouryokutai (協力隊) scheme with a view to moving to the village once we’ve wrapped up the house sale and other loose ends here.

During the past year, we’ve been evolving and re-prioritising plans for future projects in Japan should our application be successful and the focus from a career point of view will be in the realm of craft brewing, putting food-related plans on the backburner for future attention. With that in mind and reflecting on the progress made during 2020, the following are my plans & goals for 2021.

Brew more regularly

I managed 7 out of a planned 12 brews during 2020, and many lessons were learned during each brew. Following great advice from a new craft brewer contact in Japan, I will be focussing on brewing more frequently as I need to make the focus shift from learning to beer design. I am hoping to brew a new beer every 3-4 weeks. If I can crank out 15 beers this year, I’ll be delighted.

My final beer of 2020 is currently conditioning in its keg and is a Scottish export (80 shilling) style. I intend to brew a few more similar beers but each time adjusting the balance of grains, in order to further my understanding of the influence of different types of malts. I also want to introduce oats into the recipe because oats are fucking great in beer!

After my brief experiment with brown ales, I am intending on focussing single malt, single hop (SMaSH) brews during which I’ll use the same malt but change up the hops for each brew. I hope to really gain a greater understanding of both the different flavour contributions and bittering qualities of each distinct hop. There are a huge number of hops available so I’ll need to be selective as I aim to have completed this run of beers by around the middle of the year.

After these two experiments, I’ll move on to attempting to design the three beers that I have in mind for my main lines in my future brewery. I don’t expect to be able to master or finalise these designs this year but I hope to produce some tasty, if unpolished, beers of my own design during the second half of the year.

As my new friend explained, there will likely not be the opportunity to brew again in Japan once we move until I either find a job working at a brewery or I establish my own brewery as Japanese homebrewing laws are very restrictive.

Establish brewing network in Japan

In December last year, I wrote an 8 page letter to a brewer in Japan (Ken Mukai of Mukai Craft Brewing ) in order to congratulate him on opening his brewery and to introduce myself as a hopeful future collaborator (and friend!). I was pretty nervous about this if truth be told, but the letter was well received and coincidentally a mutual friend had been talking to Ken about me the day before the letter arrived! In an email response, Ken provided me with some really useful information and advice and key amongst these was the suggestion to reach out to other brewers as well and tell them my story and plans. So, I will!

This is going to be a challenge as I’ll need to really un-rust my Japanese in order to contact the majority of brewers, there are some other non-natives who I’ll be able to more easily communicate with but I need to improve my Japanese anyway and this is a great opportunity to do so!

In addition, there is a new resident of Hidaka village who joined under the same kyouryokutai scheme as I intend to apply to, his business plan is also to create a craft brewery in our small town. Far from considering this as a potential threat to our own plans, I hope to engage with our future neighbour and help in any way that I can to collaborate with and ensure the success of his brewery.

Reaching out to strangers like this is pretty daunting for me but it’s one of the few steps we can take whilst not in Japan to help with our future plans.

Experience breweries in Scotland

Once the covid-19 situation calms down and is hopefully eliminated, I intend also to reach out to some breweries in Scotland with a view to visiting and hopefully witnessing or assisting in a brew. I have a reasonable relationship with my favourite brewer up in the north east of Scotland (no not that one), and though the specifics might need to be negotiated, they are very open to a brewery visit once things calm down.

I also have a friend of a close friend who has his own brewery in East Lothian and who is apparently also very open to a visit and for me to ask any questions I can think of.

I’ve previously visited Stewart Brewing in Loanhead in Edinburgh on one of their craft kitchen brew day experiences, and I believe they have pretty close ties to my university so I may be able to arrange an active site visit there too.

Also, at previous craft beer festivals I’ve briefly spoken with the owner of the Alechemy brewery here in my town and he was pretty open to a visit too, so I’ll need to get in contact with him.

There may be other breweries who I can speak with, such as Barney’s or Pilot in Edinburgh who I’ve had friendly conversations with in the past but this is all dependent on lockdown restrictions being lifted and covid-19 being “under control”.

Continue studying the science of brewing

I have so far completed one semester of my MSc in Brewing & Distilling programme and am very happy with how it went. My next course which is focussed on maturation, barrel aging, filtration and packaging starts on Monday 4th of January and I am excited to get started again.

My second semester course will either be on malting, grains and mashing or yeast and fermentation, I’m not sure which I’ll opt for first as I need to do both but either will be really interesting and these are the two courses that I’m most excited about.

In between semesters, I hope to find time to enhance my understanding of topics I studied in my first course, such as microbial spoilage and cleaning-in-place with a view to researching brewery design to take the first steps in investigating options for my future eco-friendly, sustainable craft brewery.

The year ahead looks really interesting in this sphere, I will only have one course left to complete (as I’m only doing the brewing specific courses for a postgraduate certificate) and likely it will be in the second semester of 2022 with a gap for the first part of the year - which will hopefully enable us to move over to Japan and get settled in.

Get house in order

We couldn’t make any progress here last year and we have to this year in order to hopefully sell our house in 2022. We need to finish the garage conversion to the level that the council will provide a completion certificate, we need to renovate the en suite and give the garden and external brickwork some love. It should all be achievable if the current plague gets the fuck out of town.. but I’ve been burned so many times by contractors so confidence in this area is low.

Groundwork for future brewery

Most of the work required towards our future brewery, can’t really start until we are in Japan. Also, as the intention isn’t to establish the brewery immediately, but rather continue my studies and gain some industry experience, the majority of the groundwork is really just research and clarification into licensing requirements and laws, and understanding the hoops that we need to jump through when the time comes, the more we can line up in advance the better.

At this moment in time, I’m thinking that we may build a taproom before we work on the brewery. The thinking is that a) we’ll need one, b) it will help with networking with other craft brewers if I’m selling their beers, c) will potentially open up collaboration opportunities for exclusive small batch limited edition brews to be sold in our taproom and, d) it exploits my almost two decades of experience in working in pubs in Scotland.

The intention would be to have uniform branding between the taproom and brewery, and so we can do work on reserving web domains, logo design, and as above, reaching out to brewers etc. before moving over.

Obtain a driving license

In order to apply for the kyouryokutai scheme and to move to Japan, I need to have a driving license. I’ve previously taken some lessons but due to the demands of work over-reaching into my life those were put on hold. That was several years ago, so I’ll now need to resit the theory exam as my previous pass has now expired. The intention is to find someone who does intensive lessons for automatic cars and I’ll try to arrange that for the Summer (the season referred to as Summer in the rest of the world, not the 3 days of sunshine during the Scottish year). I’m going for automatic as most cars in Japan are automatic and I’m just not that in to driving.. It’s a necessity for both the application and for future plans as we’ll be living very rurally, but excitement levels aren’t overly high and I’m holding out what hope I have that we’ll be able to buy a second hand electric car when we move over.

Continue to find family time

Finally, as busy a year as I have lined up for 2021, these plans cannot be at the cost of restricting time to spend with my daughter and wife. There are goals that must be achieved in order for our plans to progress on schedule but they will need to be achieved around family time.


2020 Plans Reviewed

Review of plans for was a crazy year
Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 4-minute read

In January last year, I wrote a blog post about my provisional plans for 2020 , this seems as good a time as any to review the plans and assess how well I managed to move towards achieving them.

It probably goes without saying that the global disruptions of this past year have rippled into each of our lives and resultantly some of the plans have been impacted due to situations outwith my control. Also, during the first five months of the year, my wife was working on her MA dissertation, which meant that most of my spare time was dedicated to looking after my daughter, which was great but not conducive to productivity in other realms.

So “excuses” given, let’s review the plans in order of their placement within the previous post:

Japanese Local Government’s Initiative (kyouryokutai programme - 協力隊)

Our plans to apply for this scheme early 2022 have not at this moment changed and feeling around the family is that we have a very good chance of success with our application, however there is one dependency that is going to require a little more social stability and less prominence and threat of covid-19 to achieve. If I’m to apply for this scheme I need a driving license!

Japanese Language Proficiency Tests

I did initially start studying for JLPT N3 at the beginning of last year but this was railroaded by the pandemic and continuous lockdowns slashing my available free time considerably. I’ve re-evaluated the necessity of sitting these tests and as I don’t really intend to work for someone else in a permanent role, I don’t actually think that the proficiency tests are really that necessary. I will have to work on improving my Japanese both spoken and written (typed) and may revisit in the future but for now under current circumstances this is being shelved.

Brew Regularly

My plan for last year was to try and brew a beer each month, so 12 in total, 1 of which had already been brewed (and poured down the drain), I managed a further 6 brews - taking my total at this point to 8 brews over two years. Obviously, this is a little less than I had hoped, but given the circumstances and the tangible improvement in both my brewing knowledge and the quality of the beers, I’m reasonably happy with progress made.

I managed to brew 2 American IPAs, 2 New England IPAs and 4 Imperial Stouts, with the latter darker brews I played around a little with adjuncts, coffee and cacao nibs in this case, which was very rewarding.

Study the Science of Brewing

In this realm, more than any other, great strides were taken! My application to join the MSc Brewing & Distilling (distance learning) programme at Heriot Watt University was successful and I’ve completed my first course, which was Beverage Microbiology and Biochemistry. I’m still awaiting the final marks for this course but my first couple of assignments were well received and very well marked(!) so I have high hopes.

Studying microbiology and biochemistry with no background in science was certainly a steep learning curve, and as I have no aspirations to becoming a scientist, sometimes the content of the course felt a little unnecessary to my particular aims, however other parts were fascinating and really helped boost my understanding of the brewing processes. I still have a lot to learn in this area, and have certain sub-topics that I really want to drill into when time allows, these are: cleaning-in-place, microbial spoilage & strategies to mitigate and eliminate contamination.


I probably cooked just as often in 2020 as in previous years, however, most of the time the main aim was sustenance rather than making time to cook delicious dishes. It did happen, but with constraints on time being what they were the frequency of cooking “sessions” was lower than I’d have liked. I did make some pretty memorable stews with barley over the last few months.. I might have become somewhat of a barley addict..

Get the house in order

Lockdowns, a neighbour who ignored lockdowns from day 1 and had a constant, daily supply of labourers and other craftsmen visiting his house and a general urgency to protect my daughter from this coronavirus strain meant that absolutely no progress was made here.

All in all, considering that circumstances we all had to face, I’m reasonably content with progress towards our plans during 2020. I would have liked to brew more often, I would have liked to have sat and passed JLPT N3 and it would have been great if some work on our house could have been completed. However, I am firmly on my way to becoming a brewer and whilst more focus will be required over this next year to further progress, I’m happy with the steps taken to achieve this goal during the past year.


It’s with great sadness that my EU citizenship forcibly expires tonight, I don’t and won’t cease to be European, it is an integral part of the fabric of my being and I believe that Scotland will choose independence and a return to EU membership when the time comes but, however temporary it will be, it was a decision foisted upon me and fellow Scots by another nation.. and this makes me, amongst other more prominent emotions, sad.

Tomorrow the tory attempts at the systematic disassembly of Scotland will begin (well maybe not tomorrow but whenever the fuck their holidays finish) and they will be ably* assisted by the opposition party.. bring it, public opinion in Scotland is moving in one direction, trying to satisfy a small proportion of our population by denying and subverting democracy will not reverse the direction of travel.

  • pronounced incompetently


The letter that I sent to a new craft brewer in Japan arrived and was gratefully received! I was sent a nice email response with lots of info and some advice, channel of communication is now open!

Our mutual friend apparently was talking to him about me the day before the letter arrived, which is nice!

Going to try and increase the frequency of brews over the next year or so and start designing my own recipes. I’m also going to study brewery design in between semesters in the Summer and reach out to other Japanese brewers to build up my network and if\when it is safe to do so arrange some brewery experience days here before we move.

A busy year lies ahead, but I’m ready for it!

There is an annual Japanese broadcast that we like to watch and my wife found it online, so today we are watching a million fucking adverts with occasional sasuke breaks..

Been playing in the snow with my daughter a fair bit today which has been fun but despite being somewhat Nordic, I really can’t stand the cold!

I’m not great with too much heat either (like Japanese summers) which is less than ideal.

Give me a lukewarm, dreich, rainy, Autumnal day any day.. yes, I am Scottish and also yes, that does describe the vast majority of Scottish days!


My wife was going a bit Marie Kondo today and amongst the boxes of stuff to be thrown out was this wee canon camera.

.. it has now been rescued and granted to my toddler daughter.. it was fascinating to see what she found to be photo-worthy. I’m hoping that this will be something that keeps her entertained and I think that I’ll upload the “best” or favourite from each session to her own account on our pixelfed instance.

silver coloured canon ixy digital compact camera

Thinking again about how to handle email hosting best..

When we move to Japan, I’ll be sorting out a static IP address with the ISP and think that I’ll buy a cheap pine64 SBC for hosting email again..

I think (and I may be wrong) that the issues that I’ve had with microsoft and gmail delivery are down to digitalocean and dodgy reputation on certain IP ranges.. so in the meantime, if tutanota doesn’t live up to expectations then maybe the plan should be to look for an alternate VPS provider with a better reputation.. though how I ascertain that, I’m not sure.

I’m not sure that I fancy bouncing from email host to email host trying to find one I can trust or that offers the features I like..

Will stick with tutanota for a wee while given that I’ve paid for a year and given we hope to move to Japan in a bit over a year then hopefully that’ll be fine to tide us over.. but much preferred the experience (delivery issues aside) of self-hosting.


Patiently waiting for the vegan lasagne, I’ve spent the last several hours making finishing baking.. and simultaneously hoping that THIS time my daughter will try it!

To the Shaft theme tune:

Who is a guy who hates xmas but loves cooking for any occasion? this guy! you’re damn right

Who is a guy who makes pigs in blankets, without pigs but better than just blankets? This guy’s wife! not a guy

(Tune bit which inconveniently splits the lines)

Who is a guy who most likely doesn’t remember the theme tune to Shaft! This guy? you’re almost certainly right!


“Giant sausage roll” - chestnut mushroom and nut roast with cranberry, cinnamon and nutmeg flavours in pastry

“Sprouts n stuff” - sticky, crunchy woodland mushrooms and shallots

“Crunchy spuds” - thyme, rosemary & garlic roasted tatties

“Sausage and bacongine” - vegan sausage wrapped in smokey marinated aubergine slices!

All from the the Bish Bash BOSH! Cookbook

Cooked pastry containing a nut & mushroom filling, brown, shiny and crispy looking Same pastry dish from before but sliced open revealing the nut and mushroom filling Brussel sprouts with stick mushrooms, shallots and covered with a sprinkling of toasted almond flakes A bit plate, one half covered in very crunchy roasted potatoes, the other with vegan sausage and aubergine bacon on cocktail sticks


Just finished watching season 1 of the space western lone wolf and cub.. was a slow burner but I enjoyed it and season 2 appears to be set up for a slightly faster pace.

こじゃんと懐かしい感じがある! Lots of nostalgia here, primarily relating to Star Wars Galaxies.. I love the fact that it shows the everyday non-epic aspects of the galaxy far far away.. which is what the old mmorpg also did..and it brings back good memories of some of my all-time favourite gaming experiences.. somehow rolling a jedi unlock pre-CU (combat upgrade) on my wookiee ranger, training in secret on far flung hostile planets, to avoid bounty boards then having to face off against other players who trained as bounty hunters when my hidden identity was spotted.

I usually did a fair amount of stunning and blinding whilst healing and force running until safety, but I remember one encounter that lasted over an hour, had to involve very fluid tactics, a mix of charging and retreating but I was nowhere near a safe house or town.. I eventually emerged victorious but what an intense battle it was.. sadly never to be repeated ..

..anyway, the thing I find strange about The Mandalorian is that not a soul seems to be aware of Yoda or his species.. its seemingly set only 5 years after return of the jedi.. it seems unlikely that no-one would be aware of him. It’s not like these characters are moisture farmers or spice runners..bounty hunters and ex-imperial soldiers would know about or at least heard of Yoda, surely.. the main character hadn’t even heard of the jedi.. wtf?


Decided to switch from self-hosting email to tutanota - too many emails rejected by microsoft and going to gmail spam folders..

Set up my domain and then realised they don’t support +tags .. going to be a busy day tomorrow..


Was added to next semester’s course today which starts on 11th of January and am already working my way through the ‘useful reading’.. it’s definitely going to be a practically useful course, probably less science-y than the previous and not as tedious as I initially thought.


The base of my coffee mug still carries some vestiges of warmth from its first fill.. is it too early for a refill? (It already contained 2 extra large cups of strong coffee as adjudicated by the coffee machine - though I’m not clear on its criteria)

I suspect that work will be somewhat lacking in activity today and need to feel like the hands of the clock are actually moving.. not 100% sure that a caffeine induced headache will help but open to giving it a go.

Last night my daughter told her mum, “it’s OK, I’m a big girl, night night” enabling mum to leave the bedroom before she fell asleep. After months of coaching by papa, this was a breakthrough moment.

When she woke up this morning, I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her for being a brave girl as she recounted the story.

.. then spent 35 minutes trying to convince her to eat some breakfast to no avail!



Compared to the last four brews of reasonably high alcohol imperial stouts this brew is going much, much faster.. already at the boil stage about 2.5 hours earlier than on my last (and best) brew day.

It’s a slightly smaller batch ~20L vs ~23L but the biggest difference is the grain bill, only 4kg compared to around 10kg for the stouts.


So, yesterday I wrote and posted an 8 page letter (A5 I think, one-sided, no fecking lines!) to a couple that I’ve never met before but who I suspect have heard a little about me.

They are both second (I think) American-Japanese, are both ex-teachers (he a high school science teacher and she an elementary school teacher) who moved to a village in Japan which is reasonably close to our future home, where they established a craft brewery and tap room which both opened in November.

We have a mutual friend who had recently offered to introduce me to them, though I tool this step (with coaxing from my wife) before that opportunity arose.

It was a pretty bold letter (and gesture, I guess), congratulating them on their achievements, giving a fairly comprehensive overview of my own similar dreams and my steps thus far taken to achieve them. and nonchalantly canvassing them for a job for “industry experience” when we move over.

It is also the first letter I have written to anyone (a few hand-delivered letters to ex-girlfriends in my youth aside) .. and I’m 43..

Whilst I expect that the gesture will be well received, I can’t shake the feeling that they won’t quite have shaken off their former lives and I’m going to get my letter back, with disappointed comments about my poor handwriting!


Very simple brew tomorrow and notes written up in advance.. I thought maybe reading over the recipe and instructions might take a little longer.. I guess I really do need to go and clean the kit now.

handwritten brew day preparation notes in small notepad with recipe book open in background.


Need to go and re-clean and sanitise my brewing equipment for tomorrow’s brew day but my daughter wanted to play on our bed before going to her own and now my muscles are “thanking” me for my impromptu workout earlier today so I seem to be temporarily incapable of moving from my bed..

..thankfully the desire for beer will overcome the fatigue at some point and lead me to the right place for the tasks at hand.

PSA for home brewers (potable drink rather than code..) in West Lothian (though it is entirely possible I am the only one of this group of people who was unaware)..

If you use gas for conditioning and draft pour, and have been buying canisters and top ups from brewstore in Edinburgh.. then you might be best served contacting the supplier directly (Lothian Supply Co.) as they are MUCH cheaper! Just cost me £5 for a CO2 refill of a ~6kg canister which had I initially purchased it would have saved me £50..

The brewstore are excellent and will continue to be my first stop shop for raw materials, pipework and cleaning products etc. but no longer for gas!


Heading out to get my CO2 canister filled shortly (going to walk with it on a trolley rather than sit with a taxi counter rapidly rising during the transaction).. called them and apparently it’ll cost £5 for the refill.. that’s less than 20% of what I expected.. nice, I don’t even mind the 1 and a bit hour round trip in the rain for that.. draft beer is back on tap tonight!


Right then, daughter dressed and prepped for childminder, dog fed, cooker and extractor fan panels cleaned, washing machine filters cleaned and on a self-clean cycle, dishwasher & filters cleaned, coffee machine cleaned and descaled, the only squeaky door in the house which just happens to be my daughter’s and the bane of my early-hours-of-the-morning-when-I-should-be-sleeping life desqueaked, giant pile of cardboard boxes flattened and recycling organised..

.. must be about time to pick my daughter up.. wtf its not even 11am yet?!?! This coffee was a mistake, I need a nap!

End of the Imperial March

Notes from brew day #6 & #7
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 8-minute read

Wow, 5 months have passed since my last homebrew journal entry and it was written on the day of the first of today’s summarised brews. The seventh of my brews was back in late September just after I started my PgDip Brewing and Distilling course , much writing about beer has happened since then but all academically and not on this site, though I am happy to report that things are progressing well in that area and for anyone interested I have links to my assignments on my bookmarks page .

Anyway, let’s crack on, shall we?

In the same vein as my previous post I’ve decided to bundle both brews together as they were using the same base recipe with minor adjustments to adjuncts. As you might expect with a series of brews that are essentially the same, improvements were notable in each subsequent brew and the last one, in which I had assistance from my wife, zero mistakes were made.. not a typo!

As I’ll be covering two brews I’m going to condense my normal layout a little and skim over parts which went well for both brews. Both brew days went smoothly but in the area of gravity measuring a discovery was made in the latter brew which proved to be a valuable learning experience.

The Beer Kit

The beer kit for both of these brews was this Imperial Stout 23L All Grain Beer Kit (pictured above) from Edinburgh based brew store .

The kit contained a pre-ground bag of grains (unspecified) and 2 vacuum-packed foil wrapped packs of hop pellets (namely hop A and hop B).

The yeast for both brews was a dried yeast (Mangrove Jack&rsquo;s M44 West Coast Ale Yeast ).

Mangrove Jack’s M44 West Coast Ale Yeast sachet

Additionally on brew day #6, I tweaked to volumes of the adjuncts from the previous brew to try to produce a more chocolate-y stout so I used 150g of cocoa nibs and 100g of coffee beans. On the next brew day, I reduced this to 120g of cocoa nibs and dropped the coffee altogether.

The ingredients were accompanied by some general brewing tips and as always the …

Brew Day Sheet

This very handy two page guide split the brew into its composite stages and provided target temperatures, gravity readings and volumes as well as space for recording timings and measurements throughout the day. It was very useful and despite my occasional flapping it kept me pretty much on track. The composite parts of the sheet will be incorporated below in the stage sections.

Stage 0 - Prep!

No issues here on either day so, moving on!

Stage 1 - Striking & Mashing

This stage went very well on both days, though on brew day #6 I accidentally brought the temperature down to 66°C for the mash, but recovered to 68°C and maintained the temperature for the hour. During both brew days I took more time to constantly, gently, mix and move the grain bill around whilst the temperature was reducing from the strike temp. of 76°C, than I had previously. In earlier brews I was concentrating on getting the temperature down quickly and less focussed on loosening the grains and breaking up clumps, this led to a more vigorous approach which it seems might have been somewhat counterproductive.

Lovingly stirring the grain during mash in

As noted previously my grainfather is definitely struggling a little with consistency when heating and maintaining heat, it is a candidate for replacement when time and funds are more ample.

Stage 2 - Lautering & Sparging

Again, I followed a similar procedure on both days which was to gently coax the water from the grains during lautering, breaking up the grain bed gently so that the wort could flow a bit more easily. When it came to sparging, I was a little bit more aggressive with the breaking up of the grain bed, allowing the rinse water to pass through somewhat quicker than before. Compared to brew day #5 this process completed almost 2 hours earlier!

Stage 3 - Boiling

On both of these brews, and in comparison to previous brews, there was a much more generous protein build up at the start of the boiling stage. It took about 6 minutes to break it up and this I believe is a good sign and is a direct result of the tweaking of my mashing method.

Stage 4 - Hop Additions

The schedule for this both brews was:

  • 36g of hop B at 60 minutes (start of boil)
  • 36g of hop A at 25 minutes (35 minutes into the boil)

In addition for the second of the brews:

  • 150g/120g of cocoa nibs at 5 minutes (55 minutes into the boil)
  • 100g of coffee beans at end of fermentation for 24 hours for brew #6.

Cocoa nibs in a bowl

Cafepod SW18 daily grind whole coffee bean label

No whirlpools again, this is a future experiment because its an invite to chaos with the false-bottom in my grainfather.

Stage 5 - Cooling

No notes were taken with regards to cooling and I have no adverse memories of this part of the process, so I gather all went well.

Stage 6 - Fermenting

As a result of learning more about yeast on my microbiology course, I had developed a deeper understanding of the requirements for a good fermentation by the time I did my 7th brew, I have a deeper still understanding now but it remains to be seen how that plays out in future brews! As such for brew #7, I was intent in increasing the available oxygen for the yeast for the initial phase of fermentation, and the conical fermenter is a little too heavy to lift and shake.. So after transferring the wort from height (normal procedure), and through a sieve (ineffective), I experimented with using an electric whisk (sanitised of course) and this definitely greatly increased the surface oxygen and produced the amount of frothy bubbles that I was looking for.

For reference the following were my volume and gravity targets and final gravity (FG) results:

  • Desired Volume: 23L
  • Actual Volume (day #6): 23L
  • Actual Volume (day #7): 18L is what I have written in my notebook.. but that can’t be right!
  • Desired OG: 1.083
  • Actual OG (#6): 1.081
  • Actual OG (#7): 1.083
  • Desired FG: 1.016
  • Actual FG (#6): 1.041
  • Actual FG (#7): 1.041
  • Actual FG (#7 with a device I can actually use): 1.022
  • Desired ABV: 8.9%
  • Actual ABV: ~5.25% (but really ????)
  • Actual ABV: ~5.51% (but really ~8%)

As previously suspected, I am not using the refractometer that I have used to measure every one of my brews, correctly. It seems to measure higher gravities reasonably well but doesn’t fall below 1.040, which isn’t ideal since every single final gravity target is lower than that by some margin. Having received advice from a few mutuals on mastodon, it seems like it needs to be calibrated with purified water and maintained at 20°C +/- 0.5°C and needs to be regularly recalibrated.. Thankfully, I had a hydrometer lying around which requires no calibration and which gave me much more promising results. It does require a sacrifice of more beer for measuring but for some degree of accuracy that’s fine with me. Also as a result, I don’t really know how close to previous targets I hit but.. onwards!

Stage 7: Kegging & Carbonising

During the transferring of beer to keg on brew day #7, I took multiple samples at different stages to measure with the refractometer as mentioned above, this was really to rule out a niggle that maybe at different stages of the transfer there would be different trub concentrations that perhaps were affecting the gravity reading of previous samples taken from the tap at the bottom of the conical fermenter.. it didn’t really seem to make much difference but a worthwhile exercise nonetheless.

Photo of the stout being transferred to keg

Stage 8: Drinking

Both beers were delicious, the first was a novice attempt to come close enough to Fierce Beer&rsquo;s Mouse Mousse chocolate stout and I don’t think I was overly far away but perhaps the coffee inclusion detracted from the comparison a little. The beer didn’t really taste much like an imperial stout, which tends to confer an oily quality and strong alcohol flavour, it was instead a very easy to drink and pleasant, if not slightly thick, chocolate stout with a subtle coffee aftertaste. It was a glorious success and did not last long in this stout loving household.

The latter beer was my greatest triumph yet, not only because finally I acquired an accurate reading of the final gravity but it is (not was, more on that shortly) indisputably an imperial stout! By lowering the cocoa nibs volume, the strong chocolate flavour of the previous beer was lessened but still a little more than subtle and it is very much my favourite beer so far. Unfortunately, after pouring some of it, I noticed that I was out of CO2 and had to immediately stop pouring lest I decompress the keg.

Due to lockdowns, my access to the shop where I bought the gas canister is essentially outlawed and so I’ve been without gas for over a month.. I have just a few days ago discovered that the shop is actually supplied by a company in my town and that they would be happy to top the canister up if I can swing by their warehouse! I’ve had conversations with a local taxi company explaining that they’d be transporting a pressurised gas canister and we’re good to go. I just need to clarify cost of top up and how long the process will take (whilst the taxi meter ticks) and then hopefully this week I’ll be able to continue pouring my best beer yet!

Next up will be my first foray away from kit beers as I try a Scottish export type style from a recipe book. I chose the recipe due to its process simplicity and low volume of hops so that I could play around with different grains over the next few brews and see how I can tweak it into something delicious.

Applied the latest unstable manjaro-arm updates to my #pinephone and on reboot am asked to enter my root password for maintenance despite a software keyboard not being available.. somewhat of an oversight for a phone OS there it seems..


Submitting my assignment early has meant the timely return of Papa and daughter’s popcorn and movie Sunday (AKA nooch sofa) after an absence of one entire weekend!

It’s good to be back!

I have one 500 word assignment section to write this morning before reviewing the whole thing and trying to crowbar some figures and\or tables in wherever I can.. too me in this format they are somewhat unnecessary but it seems like the course organiser might be expecting them so will do what I can.. then a slightly early submission followed bu 4 days off..

.. i really hope my brewstore order arrives in time to fit a brew day in there.


Final assignment (draft) for this course is now ~83% written* so I think it is time to put my feet up and sup an oatmeal stout of Polish origin.

  • For the avoidance of doubt the remaining 17% isn’t an interpretive dance number or beat poetry, it will also be written.. just not tonight

So I am off Mon-Thurs next week (though assignment due at midday on Monday so I guess just 3.5 days) .. in an ideal world, even under these circumstances I’d be able to brew a beer, get a CO2 top up, submit an A-rated assignment, work on my websites, cook some delicious, freezable, vegan food.. and relax a bit..

.. but I don’t seem to have had an order acknowledgement yet for my brewing ingredients delivery (ordered 2 days ago).. so chances are I’ll spend the entire time fretting about whether or not the delivery will arrive in time and aside from submitting a less good assignment (due to being distracted), I’ll get pretty much nothing else done..

Woke up this morning to see a bunch of #pixelfed commits, one of which appears to fix a minor ui bug that had been niggling me for a long time.

Dan of sup fame, also pointed me towards an included easter egg.. an old instagram-esque profile ui.. which generates a header (presumably from most recent uploads) that captures my profile pretty much perfectly..

content warning on link: contains photos of alcohol and food


For my first recipe based homebrew I’m going for a Scottish Export type beer.. ordering each of the ingredients is far more fun than ordering a premade mystery box!


Just realised that I have 4 days off next week whilst my daughter is still in childcare. That would be ideal if only I could get my hands on a CO2 top up, then I could do some brewing.. or at least if I thought that I could acquire some before the end of fermentation (keg only, could buy a bunch of bottles but nah)..

Looked at the BOC website and they would deliver to my door (unlikely to be in time), though unlikely they would pick up a non-BOC canister.. also they want to charge rent on a canister.. a monthly fee just to have their canister at home.. wtf?

I’ve found a company in this town who do hospitality industry gas supplies, I wonder if they are feeling charitable..


Very productive day of research today, getting some sleep definitely helps! Though I still have some vestiges of the cold remaining, I’m definitely on track to hand in a good final assignment submission this weekend.

I also drafted a ..”letter” that I’m going to.. I believe the word is “write” and involves rare materials such as paper and an ink receptacle.. to a chap in a nearby(ish) village to our future home who opened a brewery last month and a tap room this month.. just to congratulate him on living the dream and to introduce myself as a potential future collaborator.. I am not sure if I’ve ever actually written a letter (to be “posted”) to anyone in my adult life.. but I don’t have an email address for the chap and whilst I have means to attain it.. a letter will hopefully kickstart our relationship in a positive light.


My mother-in-law shared this link on the family LINE chat (日本語):

The gist: Some experiments were carried out at Nara prefectural medical university (probably not the correct name in English) in which over-the-counter bottled tea were introduced to laboratory samples of covid-19.

After 1 minute 99% of viral activity was ceased and after 10 minutes 99.9% though effectiveness apparently varied between tea type, black tea being the most effective.

This hasn’t yet been tested in humans, however the professor mentioned in the article (Yano, I think), states that the catechins* within tea are already known to be effective in slowing (?) the flu virus and as such are expected to be somewhat effective against covid-19.

  • Catechins are “a type of natural phenol and antioxidant” (wikipedia)

I’ve no idea whether or not this is effective, or whether the introduction of cow juice impacts any apparent effectiveness but I found it interesting nonetheless.

My in-laws are tea farmers.


Now that I’ve tweaked my personal website homepage to a quarter of its former size, I should probably get some studying done.. I made one typo in a URL in a post and then spent 2 hours fiddling with the site..


For anyone interested in how kōji is used in the production of saké, here is my poster on the topic .

It is somewhat wordy for a poster and not a gleaming example of topnotch graphical design, and I was marked down for this, but I like words.. so…

Special thanks go to my friend ‘on the inside’ and 後輩, Andrew Russell who works at Imada Shuzō saké brewery (今田酒造) in Akitsu (安芸津), Hiroshima and who owns the Origin Sake blog .


Assignment 2 mark received, will give me a nice boost to crack on with my final assignment tomorrow after a lost day today.. Fell slightly short of the high bar set with my first assignment but not by as much as expected..

I only need a D or 40% for each course as I only intending on getting the PgCert rather than continuing to PgDip or MSc but on track to do a fair amount better than that.. Going to try and shake that high bar a bit..


This morning I have mainly been Zotero-ing!

Despite continuing sleep deprivation, I’m feeling much more positive about this assignment than I was yesterday. Its structure sits well with me, I can breakdown a topic that I have limited enthusiasm for in to smaller chunks some of which are reasonably interesting..

The 1500 word component of the assignment can logically be broken down to 5 x 300 word sections and one of those will be about genetic modification of yeast with genes from basil and mint to provide hoppy qualities to beer without the instability attributed to hops.. I’ve only read the abstract on this one so far, so not sure if it focusses entirely on flavour or whether they can also provide the important anti-bacterial properties of hops too.. but my curiosity is engaged.


“Thundersnaw”: Scottish variant of “thundersnow” - a meteorological event when a thunderstorm coincides with snowfall, followed by hours of torrential rain..

The last part of that description can be appended to mostly anything to give a Scottish variant..

So today my daughter made her very first 雪だるま⛄ and is now learning about transience..


Managed a whopping 4 hours of sleep last night, up from about 2 from the night before and 0 for the previous 4 nights.. I guess I’m going to be rippling with energy today! Which is just as well as my fin assignment for my course is releases today and I’ll have 10 days to get it done..

I’m thinking it’ll be 1-2 essays and a handful of shorter questions.. fun times!

Just manages to whittle down the size of my homepage from about 450KB to around 85KB just by tweaking the remote font calls and downloading & cleaving the forkawesome woff2 and css files to contain only what I use.. also properly scaling profile and footer images.. could minify the css for another 5KB but given hugo doesn’t want to apply minification during processing it isn’t really worth it.

I need to go through and properly scale a whole lot of images for other pages but not a bad start.


The latest pixelfed commits seem to have fixed pixelfed <-> pixelfed federation!

Also with the exception of direct message images in the direction of pixelfed -> pleroma (which I’ve raised a ticket for), federation looks to be in a healthier state than before.

No remote avatars yet but happy to see more regular updates!


Just signed up to the manjaro forum to ask a question about the pinephone experience and was surprised to find this under preferences..

.. my desktop OS is .. manjaro..

Screenshot of recently used devices listing my device as a windows computer.

It’s the Scottish Beer Awards tonight and already my favourite brewery has won gold & silver awards for best porter with two of my favourite beers: Cafe Racer (gold) and Dirty Sanchez (second)!


I just refreshed my #pixelfed feed and got an “oops, something has gone wrong”.. then logged out and back in to find everything gone.. all follows etc. about 200 photos.. I still have my admin rights..

The few other accounts on the instance seem to be unaffected..

I’ve made no changes over the past few days since updating to latest code..



In order to get non-local replies to work correctly I need to work out how to query my local mastodon\pleroma api to return the local version of the remote reply.

I can see that there is a url value in the local version that links to the remote version but the app replies to the remote version.. but the reverse is not true.. so need additional logic in my syndication code to connect the trail and reply to local rather than remote version (as my site is only authorises to post to my instance)

Will hopefully not take long…

Not sure what just happened with posting a bunch of my old blog posts there.. weird!

No, you accidentally deleted netplan from an ubuntu server and are fervently trying to find just one of your suddenly covert usb sticks..

Hmm as per the software manager advice, I tapped the “reboot and update” button on my pinephone.. about an hour ago and it’s still doing one or the other..

.. have I accidentally deployed windows to it?

manjaro boot screen with perpetually spinning activity circle.


Changed my syndication code to only use tags as content warnings if I flag the post as sensitive.. testing with and without the toggle (2/2)


Changed my syndication code to only use tags as content warnings if I flag the post as sensitive.. testing with and without the toggle (1/2)


It seems like one of those ‘ineffectual coffee and lack of ability to focus on microbial gene cloning lecture’ sort of mornings, again!

  • Normal status syndication? ✔️
  • Content warnings? ✔️
  • Photo uploads? ✔️
  • Captions? ✔️

That was needlessly difficult but I can now directly syndicate with the api so can, at some undefined future point, look into other api options like post scope or polls (unlikely).. or in some even further point in the future can possibly extend to syndication to pixelfed..

back of a black manjaro community edition pinephone. white pinephone box in background.


Implemented the working syndication code to the old endpoint.. text works.. attachments not yet..


Hello #indieweb folks..

Could any of you advise on syndication of media to the mastodon api from your sites?

I’ve moved from skpy/micropub-endpoint to dg01d/nanopub and so am directly syndicating rather than posting everything via bridgy.. however, I’m struggling with media posts - I’ve amended nanopub to do what I think it should do in this regard, which is to post the media to /api/v1/media (or v2) endpoint and collate an array of returned ids which can then be used in the subsequent /api/v1/statuses post..

Despite my amendments the status posts (sans media) still work, but despite the fact I can successfully, manually curl a post request which should match that which is being constructed in nanopub, I am receiving a 400 response when I do so.. and hence no json response containing the id keys that I need for the status post which is also returning a 400 response as a result..

If any of you have a php-ish way to handle this, can you offer any guidance? I’d happily opt for another micropub endpoint but I have limited time for hacking and I’m not overly familiar with go, rust etc.

OK, so I’ve some work to do to figure out and hack the nanopub micropub endpoint..

Syndication works! Content Warnings work! Image attachments to photo posts don’t syndicate to the mastodon api (but that seems obvious from the code) - I need to figure out how to add this.. Need to reformat frontmatter, particularly around images so that I am displaying captions as alt tags. Need to change how bookmarks and interactions are stored.. but I should get more reply context which will be nice.. Need to fix my automation to not trigger DroidCI when the server triggers a git commit.. only when I do from my pc..

Not sure when I’ll find time for any of this but once done it should be a marked improvement..

At some point I’m going to have to look into moving from hugo to some other static site generator, probably 11ty.. tired of every update breaking something else on my site..

Then I get to work out how to incorporate the micropub endpoint into the 11ty flow..

.. but first, since hugo won’t now build my site with my bridgy/syndication workaround, I’ll try and bolt syndication functionality into the existing micropub endpoint.. any effort to re-implement it on hugo is just going to break in the next update anyway..

I have a sneaking suspicion that my final assignment for this course be on microbial spoilage given the enormous ‘further reading’ list accompanying this week’s lecture videos..

Won’t find out until 4th of December.. but that’s the direction of travel I reckon…

By far the most frustrating thing about manjaro phosh on the pinephone is its constant dropping of the wifi connection and prompts to reconnect.. makes software updates an epic adventure..

I’m now on my 12th or so attempt and only 3rd which has successfully downloaded the repository databases.. and looking like its going to fail again.. download speeds are also pathetic, normally less than 100KiB/s

Haven’t had the same issue with other phosh implementations or with other interfaces..

… Yup, failed again.. lucky no. 13?

Discovered scale-to-fit via the manjaro pinephone forum.. now have Dino for xmpp and evolution for mail looking good.. still considering CLI email app as a full fledged email app is a bit _busy_on a wee screen even with proper scaling.

Thinking about trying a terminal-based\CLI email client on my pinephone.. I probably haven’t used one since the 90s though so not entirely sure where to start.. though I’ve seen mutt mentioned a number of times here.. any recommendations?

They might not all work well with the form factor but I’ve plenty of time to experiment before it replaces my daily driver anyway.

.. wondering what else I can replace with CLI alternatives.

I just received my mark and “feedback” for my first postgraduate assignment and I exceeded my expectations by some way..

I was worried as I’ve never written a science-y report (I got a B in higher physics in 1993 and didn’t study since..) but feeling much less apprehensive now.. though I’m not going to rest on my haunches, it’s going to take considerable effort to achieve anything close to this again.

I was planning to upload my assignments to my website (unless humiliating failures) for anyone interested in the topic so am glad the first one is presentable.

Assignment complete and the SD card has arrived to install the pinephone multi-distro image.. 13 different distros on one card, sounds like frustra.. eh fun!

Assignment 2, a poster about koji, done and dusted and shortly to be submitted (5 days early!).. don’t think I’ll be making any plans for a career in graphic design but it’ll do.

Oh no.. DB server has crashed 3 times already today.. I have daily backups so that’s not a concern but lacking somewhere to punt it to for now..

Working away on my poster assignment today and casually noticed that the font size that I was using is WAY smaller (24) than the requested size (32) .. got a bit of a layout challenge on my hands now.. and I’ve not yet finished with the text.. much editing going to be required on this one I think.. it’s a microbiology poster so I’m making the references section so small that microscopy might be required to read it..

After a bit more time playing about with the pinephone (manjaro beta 2 with phosh), I’ve a few more observations:

  • Lack of Japanese rendering in firefox is problematic for me
  • Anbox is not great, fuzzy graphically and due to conflicts with the phosh keyboard, somewhat unusable.. but not overly concerned as I’d be happy using web apps for many web based sites..
  • However, there isn’t currently a way to create web apps with firefox that I can see..
  • I haven’t yet worked out how to add shortcuts to the “desktop” so apps live in the drawer and the main unlocked screen is an unobstructed view of my daughter.. which is lovely but I would like to be able to launch favoured apps from there too.
  • Geary seems to be the only graphical email client scaled for the phone, but it lacks functions that I deem necessary.. such as plain-text enforcement on incoming emails.
  • The OS crashes pretty frequently and as previously mentioned is pretty slow for launching apps etc. The experience is pretty clunky but there is much potential!
  • The list of apps in the default repositories is pretty small, many of those there are not yet scaled for the phone so the number of usable apps is currently small.
  • I miss auto-rotate!

I’m looking forward to checking out other OSes once I get my next uni assignment submitted.


I noticed the other day that my CO2 canister is empty.. I’m unable to get a refill because I:

a) don’t drive so can’t get to the store for a refill, b) cannot share a car with anyone not of my household, so can’t get to the store for a refill, c) cannot travel from this area (tier 3 lockdown) to Edinburgh (tier 3 lockdown), so can’t get to the store for a refill.

I can’t risk spoiling my kegged beer by pouring it and decompressing the gas that is already in there..

.. so I guess what I’m saying is can the US presidential election please involve zero drama, ZERO as I don’t have any accessible beer..

Watching a movie from 1995 (which is excellent) which I was certain I had seen before, but I hadn’t.. and now I can’t remember the name of the film that I confused it for and can’t see it on either of the A list actors movie lists.. though I am certain one of them was in it.. this is going to haunt me..

Jealous? Me? No, no, no.. I am really happy for all of the pinephone pre-orderers in North America whose devices are in transit.. really.. and I’m more than happy to wait for the EU batch because I totally understand why our deliveries are later.. totally. Jealous pfffff…

If I were to replace pleroma with epicyon (big IF at this stage as I haven’t even installed it yet), I’d need to work out how to replace in my indieweb process flow..

Currently, when I post a note, photo or blog post to my site the URL of the new post is sent to the api and it maps microformats2 elements to their mastodon API equivalents and posts on my behalf to my pleroma account (via a custom OATH app that I had to create).

Direct replies and interactions are sent by to my webmentions endpoint (and any other webmention capable sites mentioned) and a separate tool on my server outputs that to a json file and triggers a hugo site rebuild..

So, I would need to implement a method for posting to epicyon on my behalf (without an API) and then, monitor the post for interactions, convert into microformats2 compliant json messages and fire them off to my webmentions endpoint..

So.. has anyone with far more of a clue about this already created the solution that I would need?


After being initially excited and impressed with the new Freetube, recent experiences have been inundated with Local API errors and videos failing to load. It has become barely usable again.

Now that Session is on f-droid, I’m having a closer look and wondering how resource heavy a service node might be to host..

Might be a preferable option for those folks I coerced onto my xmpp server.. uniform multi-platform app.. looks user-friendly enough.. hmm.

The issue between zap and mastodon 3.2.1 has been quickly resolved so can focus on ascertaining if it could be a replacement for pleroma at some point.

Observations so far:

  • Looks more like FB than twitter (not in any way important for me but preferable for family/friends who heavily favour the former over the latter).
  • Less jargon-y than before.
  • Focus on security, privacy and controls to protect against abuse
  • Plug n' play apps allowing user to tailor experience (to a degree)
  • Circles (or Access Control Lists)
  • Multiple channels (identities) to one account
  • Different channel types: social media or group
  • Nice new activity indicator
  • Individual permissions applicable per connection
  • Stream loading can be pretty slow (last refresh took around 10 seconds) - possibly due to the ARM64 device its hosted on though doubtful given its single user following only about 26 accounts and the SBC has 4GB RAM and 6 cores, and according to grafana is non-plussed
  • Haven’t worked out yet if there is a way to apply content warnings to outgoing posts.. there are tools to do so for incoming based on a number of criteria (though it doesn’t appear to work for me either yet)
  • Documentation is sparse, not sure of API details for encouraging the dev to hook up for webmentions


  • Haven’t checked out photos/galleries so not pre-emptively judging
  • Has file share\DAV capabilities - no opinion yet
  • Calendar & Events - if there is future compatability with Mobilizon then this could be good.. and maybe if I ever encourage family to join then it’ll be a great feature.. currently no opinion
  • Diaspora connectivity

Shipping of the manjaro CE batch of pinephones seems to have started! Meanwhile, purism are buying time with their “fund your app” scheme.. hopefully, I get enough of a positive buzz from my pinephone (hopefully sent soon) that I can cancel my Librem 5 pre-order and claim back the roughly half a million dollars (in today’s money) that it cost me a few years ago..

Set up a new zap instance last night on a URL that I don’t believe I used in previous installs.. and STILL mastodon isn’t federating with it.. all other platforms appear to be..

Also, the zap codeberg page doesn’t have issues enabled… Eh?

Alright, assignment 1 submitted a few days early.. next assignment is due in 3 weeks time and is a one page poster explaining the use of Koji in the production of alcoholic beverages, which should be interesting.

Might be an advantageous time to reach out to my friend who works in a Sake brewery in Japan.. already added his website as my first reference (it is sadly tracker heavy though)

First assignment of my new part-time student life pretty much done! I’ll proof-read tomorrow for typos and the like and might add in one more diagram but pretty much there.

I also found out how to do a word count (using paragraph styles) in LibreOffice writer that enables a count that excludes references, headers, footers, diagrams and tables.. but sadly not citations.. regardless, word count near enough perfect.. according to turnitin, it’s only 8% plagiarised.. at least I guess that’s what the 8% means.. so that’s presumably OK too..

I suppose all that’s left to be done today is to relax and drink beer.. ah well, if I must!

Lack of sleep and constant work interruptions made today a little less productive than hoped with regards to assignment writing..

.. however a few small glasses of my latest home-brewed imperial stout helped with clarity around essay structure. Re-planned the layout and I think I’ve a better chance of staying within acceptable word counts whilst still covering everything I want..

Wish LibreOffice Writer had word count exceptions (fuck-tonnes of citations)..

I’ve been doing a fair amount of research reading for my first postgraduate assignment over the past week or so and will hopefully start to write it up today. It is due at 12pm on Monday so I’ve a little over 6 days to write it, which should, I think, be plenty.. though adapting to an impersonal, science-y way of writing might take a bit of time.

During the reading phase I installed and have been using Zotero , a FOSS reference management tool with LibreOffice integration and though I’m still probably only scratching the surface of what the app is capable of I am quite impressed, I can see this tool being very helpful over the next few years of study.

In other news, my daughter woke me at around 3am (she needed a drink of water and felt that I should wake up, get out of bed, come through to her room and hand her the water bottle that was on her bedframe, within arms reach, then stay with her until she fell back asleep..rather than reach for it herself) and it took me over 90 minutes to get back to “sleep”.. and now my coffee appears to be malfunctioning..

After 17 days in the fermenter (much longer than I normally leave it), I’ve transferred my latest imperial stout into a keg.

In order to try and nail whether my ‘too much yeast in sample’ theory on preciously misses final gravity targets was correct, I took samples at start, ~25%, ~50% and ~75% of the way through the transfer for refractometer measures and an additional hydrometer sample at ~75%.

Somewhat frustratingly the refractometer result was the same for all 4 samples and around the same high level of previous brews (around 1.042 specific gravity)..

.. however the hydrometer returnes 1.022 a mere 0.006 above my final target!

One of these devices requires tuning (by a clueless me) and the other is likely accurate!

So the estimated ABV on the brewsheet is 8.9% (though the brewer’s friend calculator corrects that to 8.8%) and I have hit 8.01%!

I shall celebrate in a few weeks once it has carbonated!

shot of hydrometer resting at 1.02SG in a beaker of imperial stout


Just been advised that the scheme I want to apply for in a couple of years time to move to rural Japan has a prominent ‘word of mouth’ element for selecting and approving candidates.. which will give my success hopes a fairly substantial boost!

Also start date wouldn’t need to be start of April but rather when all loose ends are tied up and we are able to move over, so (if successful) won’t have to rush through shipping stuff over to Japan and selling our house.

My excitement levels have been temporarily buffed!

Very briefly checked out the new freetube and after importing my (small) subscription list there were zero errors about being unable to fetch subscriptions! That’s already a major improvement on the previous version.

Hopefully it will hold up to a more thorough checkout when time allows.. will be so much easier than using an invidious instance directly as I am now.

Assigned 45 minutes for the (15 minute - my pace) walk to GP with daughter for her 30 month check, only to get a call when we were halfway there cancelling..

.. re-routed to the big supermarket and walked every aisle filling a basket before realising I’d left wallet at home..

.. still I guess the 90 minute walk did me some intangible good..

Learning about cellular chemistry this week and already (just finished watching lecture video 1 of 2) it is considerably more interesting than the previous section on cellular structure.

Last week was a breakdown of the names and high level functional overview of the component parts of cells from different groups and whilst undoubtedly important, was incredibly difficult to read about whilst trying to maintain even a minimal level of consciousness.

On the flip side, learning about carbohydrates, saccharides, linked carbon chains and rings etc. is actually helping me wake up this morning..

I feel like I may be naturally aligning more to the biochemistry elements of the programme over the microbiology elements.. or at least these elements are making more sense at this early stage.

I now remember why I was so eager to move from using hugo static site generator to plume for my blog.. seems like a recent update has broken building my site .. again.. didn’t notice until now as the majority of my posts (like this) are through an indieweb client and the publishing process is automated and was working fine until 6 days ago apparently..

Had a very good but tiring day today and as a result went to bed early and was asleep a little before 10pm.

.. woke at around 12:20am to a scream. Literally leapt out of bed and ran to my daughter’s room to find she had fallen out of her bed. Lifted her up, gave her a drink of water and a cuddle and stayed with her for a wee while until she’d fallen back asleep.. I was back in bed around 12:40am..

.. it seems that in all its jaded wisdom, my brain has decided that despite being exhausted, I’m only being permitted the 2.5 hours of sleep that I’ve already had.. great!

I’m sure I can somehow learn cellular chemistry, with no energy or concentration later today..

I’m coming to the eventual conclusion that I’m doing something wrong when taking a wort sample to measure gravity (mid & post fermentation).. yesterday’s check was much higher than I wanted, the same as for most of my previous brews and the same as 3 days earlier despite airlock activity suggesting that fermentation is still active.

My theory is that I’m not running enough wort through when I take a yeast dump and as such the wort that I’m measuring contains a fair amount of yeast still.. This might explain why the beer two brews ago felt like a strong beer despite my gravity readings suggesting otherwise.

My original gravity has been close to target (this time bang on) for each brew.. despite attempts to increase aeration considerably this time around I’m still miles from the expected final gravity - I’m sure I’m doing something wrong with the sampling and current gravity is actually lower than I’m reading.

Will run more wort off during tomorrow’s yeast dump and maybe when fermentation appears to be finished I’ll take a sample from the top of the keg post-transfer.

Only my 7th brew, many lessons still to be learned.

Finally watched ‘The Social Dilemma’* it seems like it could be pretty effective if introduced to open-minded eyes (probably more so to open-minded minds attached to open-eyed eyes), but may sadly be a victim of the same issue that it warns about.

It seems like it has made an impact on my wife and has moved her from tentatively teetering on the fence to deleting her FB account (soon).. going to help her create a website again to assist.

I’ve been singing from this songsheet for several years now so it was nice to see industry “heavy-weights” humming the same tune.

  • I know both are accepted spelling(s) but I feel so uncomfortable not typing dilemna.

Day 2 fermentation sounds more active than previous brews, a lot more rapid bubbling in the airlock! I have a good feeling about this, I’m expecting progress with regards to closing in on the elusive Final Gravity target but will it be enough to satisfy my ‘exit’ criteria?

Delaying yeast dump 1 until tomorrow, then I’ll get the first glimpse of how it’s going.. fingers crossed that its 1.030 or lower (previous best at end of fermentation is 1.041 with this beer).

Today’s brew was (potentially) my best yet, which in all fairness is what you would expect in an iterative learning process.

I made some adjustments to make some of the processes more efficient but unlike earlier attempts they were a direct result of previous lessons learned.

This brew was perhaps my last before the lessons of my brewing & distilling programme settle in so it was personally important for me to use my previous message experiences and adjust accordingly before the bedrock of understanding the scientific processes was formed.

My original gravity target was 1.083, according to my hydrometer I hit about 1.0823 and my refractometer 1.083.. the latter may require tuning.. but if you’ll permit a slightly emotion fed response ‘ya fuckin dancer’

The big test however is the final gravity, the target is 1.016 and my last 3 brews of this same beer haven’t breached 1.041.. so whilst I’m happy with today’s brew and I did my best to oxygenate the shit out of the wort.. I’ll not be satisfies unless the FG is lower than 1.020

I don’t know what these numbers mean either, other than a measure of sugar to water density.

Another very smooth brew day is approaching the final quarter.. decided on a distinct lautering/sparging process separation today and shortened the latter process considerably.. will have to wait and see if this decision impacts my original gravity figure.

Slowly approaching boil, about an hour ahead of my last brew.. and 3 ahead of the brew previous to that.

Equipment all re-cleaned and re-sanitised in preparation for brew day #7 tomorrow!

If all goes well then I’m hoping this will be the last brew where I use a grain kit and will move on to actual recipes and ordering specific grains, hops & yeast.

The only criteria I have to satisfy is to hit or be very close to my final gravity target.. if I can do that then the brew will have gone well. In order to achieve that I’ll be utilising some kitchen implements (sieve and whisk) to try and increase the oxygenation of the wort before pitching the yeast.

First brew with my wife assisting, should be fun.

Six years on and Stanley Odd’s ‘Son I voted yes’ still manages to extract tears..

Back in early 2019 I pre-ordered a Librem 5 which I’m STILL fecking waiting for.. I suspect that when the pine64 site is back up, I could pre-order the manjaro pinephone and play about with it for a while before the librem 5 sees the light of day if it ever does..

Then, if the pinephone is close enough to usable as a daily driver then I’ll go through the undoubtedly tricky process of requesting a refund for the Librem 5 (bought it through a company which I’ve since had to close down).

I have multiple pine64 devices which I’ve always been very impressed by, hence buying more. I have one other purism device.. and I am less impressed by it (hardware clock resets to 1970 if battery dies, wifi receiver is poor compared to other devices, pureOS maps back to a different key layout every so often)..

Pine64 are awesome at community updates etc. Purism are woeful at this and only send occasional marketing emails that pretend to be updates..

Quick test photo post to see if alt text is working on this site for indigenous posts and to see if sends the alt through the mastodon api

close up of can of fuego sour beer from fierce beer. orange text on black can.

Note to self (specifically my pen wielding right hand): a yeast cell is an eukaryotic cell (microbiology) and not in fact an eurocratic cell (politics)

Spent an outrageous amount of time getting image alt text to work on my ‘other’ website when posting using indigenous.. got there in the end but a frustrating day with zero studying.. I’ll make up for that tomorrow..

Then I’ll need to do the same for this site and test if really does send alt test to the mastodon api..

Been on the to do list for a while and glad to have made progress, accessibility is important.. plus unlike adding content warning capabilities to a client, it is something I can actually action.

Still no food photos via this site until I can CW them.

I’m so tired that every time my daughter says mama tonight my brain is incapable of applying its normal bohemian rhapsody muting filter..

First savoury cooking session with my daughter today, made guacamole and she was very attentive throughout the whole process.

She even helped with prep for the three bean chilli.

Happy papa!

Almost certainly not a good place to rest a monitor but adding this to my setup today (after initial manjaro & pulseaudio fuckwittery) was a real boon to studying!

Alt not yet added, will fix!

My first course relating to the microbiology and biochemistry of brewing starts “gently” next week!

I already know what my two assignments will be and am excited to get started.. tomorrow!

Ooh a free webinar about the Scottish Brewing Archive Association.. that sounds interesting, where do I sign…

“To join this webinar please download Zoom”

OK, bye now..

Had to install MS Teams on my linux desktop today.. and request to join a few Linkedin groups.. not feeling good about either of these activities but I ain’t building a windows pc just for study purposes and it was either Linkedin, google or facebook.. since I am being pushed down a MS path by the university, it’s the lesser evil..

I’m otherwise pretty excited about getting started though, had an induction session today and am now a member of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling which is nice.. if not pricey.

Productive day but more administration than studying unfortunately.

Only a few weeks until my first PgDip course begins. From Monday, I’ll be getting back into the swing of studying by reading and understanding the pre-reading book suggested by the university to prepare me for my first microbiology course!

I’ve not studied science since higher Physics which was in 5th year of high school some 28 years ago.. and I’m playing a little bit loose with the definition of study here..

Challenging but fascinating times await!

My mum arrived earlier just as somehow, my clan had just been deposed of the kingdom of Alba by the Norse with seemingly no eligibility to rule.. with me next in line to be King of a nation I’ve helped shape for about 120 years..

I did the irl son thing for a few hours and simultaneously filled an A5 sheet of paper with a plan to get our kingdom back.. Now before I sleep tonight progress will be made!!!

Been lamenting a few minor omissions from Crusader Kings II whilst working out mechanics of III etc. Enjoying it greatly but in the previous incarnation of the game I was never thrown a curve ball like this.. Now hooked! #CrusaderKingsIII


I was really looking forward to installing and playing Crusader Kings III this morning..

.. Now I’m really looking forward to installing and playing Crusader Kings III at 7pm this evening..

Damn these obnoxious release times!

Managed to get flash-player to work with brave on manjaro just in time to join my first uni 30 minute webinar on the 30th minute.. Thankfully it over-ran slightly so was able to parse useful information together and am now enrolled and registered for my first course!

Home from the short trip away, have had about 1 hour of sleep since my daughter woke me at 6:50 on Thursday morning.. several more hours left before I can crawl into bed..

Tick and tock seem to be distancing too..

Day 1 of my anxiety riddled few days at a caravan park with my parents, their motorhome, my wife, daughter and 3 dogs.

Put the foot down before arrival that we would not be visiting the onsite restaurant and bar under any conditions.. otherwise been keeping to ourselves and I almost felt sort of relaxed a few times..

.. I’m to sleep in the awning.. with midges so I’m sure tomorrow won’t be unnecessarily awkward.

Some very close friends visited the house today. It was great to see them but difficult and sort of awkward, situationally, hopefully not lasting.

I had really hoped that our physical distancing exempt 2 year old might share goodbye hugs where we could not but sadly tiredness hit her just before they left.

Feeling awful, whilst we all did the right thing and all knew and adhered to the restrictions, we’d never normally part like this.

Both groups have suffered loss over the past few months (neither covid-related but during lockdown) and ordinarily today would have been a hugfest..

I know in the grand scheme of things this is minor and something we’re all experiencing, but it sucked, I couldn’t even share a beer I made with one of my closest friends.

As I grow older, there is one thing that is becoming increasingly clear..

I appear incapable of typing fingers crossed on a phone without an apostrophe inappropriately injecting itself into the fray!

(Of course I managed this time but after I hit send my phone will likely detonate in 10 seconds)

Indigenous update noe in f-droid so I can now update my static sites, pleroma and pixelfed accounts all from the one app!

Not as fully featured as other more ‘mature’ fediverse apps but nice for timeline browsing etc.

OK, had a decent night’s sleep, the gout is only a minor niggle today and have a 13,192 word masters degree dissertation on “Chinese and Japanese language teachers' attitudes towards inclusion in a Scottish university” to proofread for my wife!

Large coffee consumed, glass of water at hand and a full keg of delicious stout on tap waiting for me at the end. Let’s do this!

Had a visit from a chap offering a free boiler and insulation (floor and ceiling) survey and potential replacement again for free..

Arranged a survey towards the end of the month to give me time to try and ascertain the legitimacy of the company and scheme..

Got the ring of “too good to be true” around it.. but I hope to be pleasantly surprised.

What a pleasant change to walk into my office and not be immediately tackled to the ground by a wall of heat emanating from my pc.

Another update to element ( in f-droid that doesn’t bring inline previews.. guess I’ll not be uninstalling ( yet..

Tired of melting in my office, the ineffective and LOUD fans and modern games grinding to a halt, I’ve ordered the parts to build a new gaming pc..

Switching from Nvidia to AMD for GPU which will be my first AMD graphics card.. exciting..

In addition to hopefully integrating brewing related podcasts and audio books into a regular routine, I think I need to also integrate regular exercise.. and given my lack of free time outside of my working day, I think I’ll give the 7 minute workout another go..

Found an app on f-droid, called Seven (or Sieben) which nicely takes care of the rep counters!

Re-investigation into the 7 minute workout: ~2 minutes Building of enthusiasm towards starting: ~38 minutes and rising..

I never really got into podcasts (pre-this morning I was subscribed to one) and I’ve never listened to an audiobook.. but I am thinking that in lieu of lectures for my upcoming pgdip course, I should try to see if either or both would be a good fit to enhance my studies.

So, I’ve subscribed to a couple of brewing podcasts via funkwhale and am thinking of buying ‘BEER, by Charles Bamforth’ via .. I have the book in paper form within an arm’s reach but it isn’t at the top of my study related reading list for now.


Potentially still another day or two of fermenting for my latest brew but I am again very far from hitting the final gravity targets..

Having a read into it, and a few sites suggest that I need more wort aeration when transferring the cooled wort into the fermenter.. i think next time I’ll try splashing it through a sanitised hop spider and the maybe vigorously stir/whisk it..

I do already try to aerate the wort but seemingly not well enough!


I’ve started saving recipes using nextcloud cookbook, which is great (for websites who use the recipe schema) but still under development.

I also recently discovered there is an android app for this available via f-droid which is awesome.. except for me it currently only displays one recipe.. less good.

I’ve raised an issue in the apps codeberg repository:

So, hopefully soon, I’ll be able to browse more recipes and keep adding to the collection.

I have my first webinar on distance learning with my new university towards the end of August, signed up and relieved to see they aren’t using zoom!

..but adobe connect, really? Firejail to run brave after failing to connect with the windows client (installed using wine)

I also found out that Indigenous, the app I’m using to post this is multi-account.. not that it was hidden, I just hadn’t noticed.

Going to try and hack my micropub endpoint this evening to accept alt text for images so that I can use that feature in Indigenous.

I just did my first yeast dump on current brew and pretty much no dead yeast so far.. sounds pretty active!

Hopefully this is a sign of good progess.. gravity dropped from 1.080 to 1.059 so far with the final gravity target being around 1.016 (I think)

Fingers crossed! It already tastes great!


Not Black & White

Notes from brew day #4 & #5
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 9-minute read

Subtitle: A little less stout*

As I sit waiting for the mash stage of my 6th brew to complete, I figured this was as good a time as any to post the belated summary of my previous two brews.

I’ve decided to bundle them together as both brews were using the same base recipe and whilst one was a pretty smooth ride, the other was a catastrophe of errors!

As I’ll be covering two brews I’m going to condense my normal layout a little and skip over parts which went OK for both brews.

First though, a small bit of background on these two brew days.. Brew day number 4 was on a Friday, a day which is traditionally reasonably quite for my job and thus, I figured a day where I could fit in a brew whilst also working.. That Friday was not a normal Friday, that Friday demonstrated the clairvoyance and devilry that my colleagues apparently possess.. just as every single stage deadline approached, I was called, pinged or otherwise engaged to carry out some work. Stage transitions were rushed, wort was spilled and walls were decorated in partially formed stout.. It was a terrible idea and a disaster of a day!

Brew day 5 was an entirely different beast, having learned from stupidity, it was scheduled for a quiet Sunday. Every stage was carefully considered, measured and executed and bar introducing the 2nd hop 5 minutes early and not having fine mesh hop bags available, the day was a resounding success!

The Beer Kit

The beer kit for both of these brews was this Imperial Stout 23L All Grain Beer Kit (pictured above) from Edinburgh based brew store .

The kit contained a pre-ground bag of grains (unspecified) and 2 vacuum-packed foil wrapped packs of hop pellets (namely hop A and hop B).

The yeast differed between brews, one brew day #4 I used a liquid yeast (White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast ) and on brew day #5 a dried yeast (Mangrove Jack&rsquo;s M44 West Coast Ale Yeast ). Though, to what end this contributed to differences in the beer, I am still too inexperienced to ascertain.

White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast sachet Mangrove Jack’s M44 West Coast Ale Yeast sachet

Additionally on brew day #5, I added a couple of adjuncts, 100g of cocoa nibs and 100g of coffee beans.

The ingredients were accompanied by some general brewing tips and as always the …

Brew Day Sheet

This very handy two page guide split the brew into its composite stages and provided target temperatures, gravity readings and volumes as well as space for recording timings and measurements throughout the day. It was very useful and despite my occasional flapping it kept me pretty much on track. The composite parts of the sheet will be incorporated below in the stage sections.

Stage 0 - Prep!

No isues here on either day so, moving on!

Stage 1 - Striking & Mashing

On brew day #4, I started poorly and continued in a similar but more frantic vein.. First mistake, aside from scheduling a brew on a work day, was that I had pushed the pipework too far down into the heated grain was unable to retrieve it, resulting in grains being able to bypass the false floors and potentially block the filer in the brewing unit.

On brew day #5 there seemed to be some sort of blockage in the circulation pipe and it wasn’t circulating as much as I’d have liked, but I managed to fix this on the fly with only a momentary drop in mash temperature.

Photo of the mashed grain

Otherwise, the striking and mashing stages went OK for both brews, though I noted yet again that my grainfather is definitely struggling a little with consistency when heating and maintaining heat.

Stage 2 - Lautering & Sparging

DISASTER ZONE! For day #4, I was very, very flustered by this point and was trying to rush the sparging stage. In order to try and get the sparge water to drain more quickly, I was attempting to stir and break up the grain cake, however the metal bar supporting the insert containing the grains and water was not designed for additional weight, the force that I was applying was too much for it and it kept disconnecting from the unit and as a result wort and grains were propelled around the room, primarily up the wall and over a frustrated amateur brewer! I was certain at this stage that any hopes of making a drinkable beer were ruined.

Photo of the sparged grain

No issues experienced here on day #5, I made no attempts to rush the process, though I did very gently stir the grain on occasion when I couldn’t hear water passing through. It took almost 4 hours! No mess though!

Stage 3 - Boiling

Nothing to see here.

Stage 4 - Hop Additions

The schedule for this both brews was:

  • 36g of hop B at 60 minutes (start of boil)
  • 36g of hop A at 25 minutes (35 minutes into the boil)

In addition for the second of the brews:

  • 100g of cocoa nibs at 5 minutes (55 minutes into the boil)
  • 100g of coffee beans at end of fermentation for 24 hours.

Post boil on brew day #4, I attempted a whirlpool but the additional false bottom within the unit was rising every time I got some sort of pace going.. conclusion, no more whirlpooling attempts with this set up.

Stage 5 - Cooling

This is where the grainfather’s flaws come into play, whilst trying to rapidly cool the wort and transfer to the fermenter, it’s heating unit kicked in and started super-heating the wort. The fermenter is thankfully temperature controlled and was able to cool the wort back down to the target range before I added the yeast.

This happened on both days but I was more mentally equipped to deal with it on the second of the brew days. Added a lot more time to the process though!

Stage 6 - Fermenting

My experiences with previous brews led me to purchase a cheap cooling system for my fermenter, involving an ice box and pipes which pump cooled water through the sleeve of the fermenter. As such despite the wort hitting the fermenter at a higher temperature than desired on both of these brews, I was able to cool it down in the fermenter before pitching the yeast.

Not much otherwise to report here from a process perspective, the only difference between both stout brews was that after arriving at a consistent final gravity reading for the second of the brews, I added 100g of coffee beans which had been briefly rinsed with boiling water into the fermenter, and then let it steep for 24 hours.

Despite the calamity of the first of these days, the gravity figures were surprisingly similar which you might think would mean a similar alcohol by volume figure.. that doesn’t appear to have been the case, although the estimate is pretty much the same the drinking experience suggests that the second beer was considerably closer to the target than the first. The impact of the booze after drinking was definitely more obvious with the latter beer.

For reference the following were my volume and gravity targets and final gravity (FG) results:

  • Desired Volume: 23L
  • Actual Volume (day #4): 23L
  • Actual Volume (day #5): 22L
  • Desired OG: 1.083
  • Actual OG (#4): 1.070
  • Actual OG (#5): 1.069
  • Desired FG: 1.016
  • Actual FG (#4): 1.040
  • Actual FG (#5): 1.044
  • Desired ABV: 8.9%
  • Actual ABV: ~4%
  • Actual ABV: ~3.5%

This leads me to believe that I have a little bit more to learn about how to use my hydrometer. The first stout might have been around 4% the second was not, it was definitely much stronger. I have a fairly high resistance to alcohol (not a brag) and I was decidedly tipsy after just 3 schooners of it, 3 similar sized 5% beers have little noticeable impact normally. Yes, this is circumstantial but I’m calling the 2nd beer as hitting its ABV targets regardless of the evidence suggesting otherwise! This screams user error to me!

Stage 7: Kegging & Carbonising

Not much to mention here, I’m reasonably well versed in this process now and didn’t experience much worth reporting, except disappointingly off-target figures, but as noted above, I suspect I am somehow recording these inaccurately.

Photo of the stout being transferred to keg

Stage 8: Drinking

The first beer turned out to be surprisingly passable, it wasn’t a clean tasting beer, it had a bit of funkiness, probably due to the comedy of errors surrounding it’s inception, but it was assuredly drinkable regardless. It was a homebrew though, no doubts about that, it would be returned at a bar and replacement sought.

It seems though that perhaps stouts, in our house anyway, have a larger buffer for success than IPAs do.

The second beer was OUTSTANDING! It was exactly what I wanted it to be, it’s an imperial stout so not really designed for ease of drink, it’s thick and oily, carries a punch in flavour and alcohol volume but is rounded off with very subtle hints of coffee and cocoa. This wasn’t just passable, it was wonderful! As I sit here, now at the boiling stage of my current brew, I can only hope that I am able to replicate this level of beer for my 3rd imperial stout in a row!

Photo of my first or perhaps second Imperial Stout

Imperial stout number three is so far going well, and is basically the same as from brew day #5 but with 50% more cocoa nibs. They are only in the mix for about 5 minutes so not much time to make an impact so we’ll see how that goes.


  • A little less stout came to me one evening in the 90s as I sat in the Bell’s bar in Aberdeen for happy hour with a good friend. The bar was quiet, and to entertain ourselves we were re-branding the drinks we could see at the bar or marketing them with new slogans. One of my funny at the time creations was Guinness Lite with the slogan ‘A little less stout’. Whilst we went on to get fairly inebriated that one always stuck with me.. then some time later when I took my girlfriend (now wife) to Dublin to propose, we visited the Guinness storehouse and I discovered that at some point (possibly the 70s based on the font and graphical stylings) that Guinness in fact did have a beer called Guinness Lite, though I have no idea if they ever used the slogan ‘A little less stout’.

Having a very relaxing and “so far so good” brew day #6 today!

Have drafted my blog post covering the previous two brews and will hopefully edit and post tonight, maybe tomorrow.

I might be starting to get the hang of this!

It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel, mainly just cookbooks and books about brewing or politics.. so this afternoon I figured that if I got back into the swing of things, it’d aid my upcoming studies..

So, I just devoured a 400+ page book, ‘In a House of Lies’ by Ian Rankin..

It was pretty good, eyes are a shade tired though!

It seems like every time #pixelfed eeks closer to a v1 release and that (comparatively) boring polish stage where notifications are fixed, remote profile avatars are loaded.. discover pages correctly calculate posts (including individual images from albums/multi-image posts), discover federates..see more replies link is a link and not just underlined text.. a properly developed and documented api..

… a flurry of new features that subjectively should be post v1.0 are rapidly advertised..

.. or the MicroUI is teased (yet again)

Mr Dan S Up.. I love your project and support your work, I frequently contribute (via feedback and issues raised) and I get that introducing new features is much more exciting than the grind of functional fixes.. but 1.0 isn’t going to arrive unless the fundamentals all work as they should (across platform, DB flavour etc.)

Maybe you could concentrate in competing with instagram on a feature basis when you a solid, reasonably bug free and perhaps a slightly feature-lesser form

Raised an issue ( to introduce a microformats property that could translate to content warnings if syndicating to #fediverse sites.

Hopefully, a bit down the road it can be implemented as I’m currently apprehensive to post things like photos of food to my site because I know that when syndicated to my pleroma account they wouldn’t currently be collapsed.

Being able to flag sensitive content at source and have it reflected as such at the destination would, I think, be a nice addition.

Just configured and enabled ekster as my endpoint which should, I hope be quicker than aperture.. however it seems that the initial posts that it pulled from the various feeds have vanished..

Testing, yet again.

Took a few minutes this morning before starting work to troubleshoot the issue I was having with instagram import on my pixelfed instance .. and I got it working.. so 137 new old photos uploaded.. very glad they are unlisted during this process!

Almost all of the photos are alcohol or vegan food\cooking related with a few stray snaps of early parenthood and a dug.

Spotted another directory with even older instagram photos from 2010-2012 but without the json files so not sure if I will manually import those or not.. I might cherry-pick some.

Last week I raised a couple of tickets with the dev, one of which related to truncation length for fediverse using the mastodon api but with larger character allowances than the default 500.

Ticket here:

In my case its for pleroma which has an additional max_toot_chars field and on my instance this is set to the default of 5000 characters.. I think perhaps misskey uses this field too..

Anyway, this post serves as a test of the implementation sitting as it does at 541 characters.

I just raised a couple of feature request tickets for

The first is to check a page for a specific element and if extant pass on as a content warning to the mastodon api.

The second is to read the server’s character count limit at the time of connecting an account and using it as a basis for truncation rather than apply a 500 character limit across the board.

I’m not sure how doable these are but seem reasonably simple and would be handy.

OK, I think I’m reasonably happy with my site now..

I finally found out how to deal with hyphens in frontmatter in hugo (the documentation of which is a lesson in frustration).. Now to see when I hit post if reverting my micropub endpoint hacks have broken anything..

I’m now using a webmentions hook to deliver interactions to the site.. though, I want to fiddle a bit with nginx to move some of the php files to a non-public directory..

I’ve given the html a semantic overhaul which will hopefully make it reasonably accessible though there will be more work to do there (particularly around captions and alt tags for images).

In this vein I also removed all floats (I think) and am using grid and flex for layout. Have dropped a bunch of excess html and css too..

Have hidden my switch to 日本語 button until such time as I actually have a reasonable amount of Japanese or bilingual content.

Still a work in progress but much further down the line than previously.


Giving hooks a go for dealing with mentions as I seem to have lost some with the current process.


Test 10 Test 11 Test 12 Test 13 Test 14 Test 15 Test 16 Test 17 Test 18 Test 19 Test 20 Test 21 Test 22 Test 23 test post

Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5 Test 6 Test 7 Test 8 Test 9 Test 10 Test 11 Test 12 Test 13 Test 14 Test 15 Test 16 Test 17 Test 18 Test 19 Test 20 Test 21 Test 22 Test 23

Basic webmentions interaction display functionality added to my site.. this post is for testing interactions and my (hourly) build for picking up these interactions .. though potentially they may appear sooner

The script to pull latest webmebtions runs every 15 minutes..


I wonder what I should use #beehive for now that I am using for syndication to pleroma..

So it seems that I can feed plain text only from RSS into the mastodon api using the rssbee and mastodonbee on #beehive but more work will be needed to convert special characters and images seem undoable via this method..

I would really prefer to not dive into the api documentation and develop my own solution.. not sure I have that level of free time on my hands.

Whilst playing with my daughter in the garden last week, I tried to get her to stay still for a photo.. I thought I’d failed and gave up.. a few days later I noticed I’d captured this.. accidentally the best picture ever!

Alt not yet added, will fix!

Now that my trial has expired I gather this test post won’t appear on my pleroma feed?

Short-term IndieWeb TODO list:

  • Display webmention comments and other interactions on site
  • Read up on how to receive reply-context to enhance the previous step
  • Check rendered source code and tidy up html and microformats tags
  • Add more microformats tags for the gamut of interactions available and add some basic CSS for each

But first, just a little RimWorld..


Didn’t pull rss changes to the webmentions side repository for hugo to build feed correctly.. this time?

Updated RSS template so hopefully this test post will link back to the webpage.. not that there is much to see there yet rss polling time test

Posted from indigenous -> my site -> -> pleroma at 21:16..

Another cross-post test, apologies to anyone who is actually seeing these contentless updates.. if anyone is.

A second attempt at posting via indigenous to my site to to pleroma…

Very quick test post from indigenous to my site to to pleroma?

Bated breath..

I just discovered that the hugo drone plugin has an option to publish future dates posts.. enabled.. let’s see if the delay has gone!

Fiddled around with h-card stuff again.. hoping that as a result I get some more data in interactions..

Time shall tell….

OK, basic formatting of indieweb responses implemented but not much data in the responses.. was hoping for author h-card stuff etc.

Maybe I’ve misformatted something given I’m the author.. will play about more tomorrow.

I think that I might have finally cracked the micropub endpoint in relation notes and photo posts!

As picked up my webmention when I sent it a specific webpage rather than the root of my website (via curl).. This is another quick test to see if will now post to pleroma now that I told aperture to monitor the specific webpage..


Spent a fair amount of time manually backtracking a misconfigured sed which deleted all instances of the letter s followed by another character from all of my blog posts.. fun times!

I may have missed some typos but I think I caught most of them and did a little work on formatting my articles and notes pages, not sure if they count as h-feeds as of yet but they will get there.

Moved the hidden anchor to hopefully a more useful location so, here goes nothing..


My first webmentions post made it through pipes but I missed the anchor tag to post to pleroma so here goes another attempt!


Today, I spent .. well most of the day tweaking my website in order to get it to send webmentions by following this excellent guide:

IndieWebify Your Hugo Website by Amit Gawande

Whether or not it has worked will shortly be seen with the publishing of this very short post.

I have not as of yet set up a micropub endpoint so responses (should this work) will not be currently published to my site but I should, I believe, be able to see them via Together and the Indigenous android app.

Fingers crossed!…


Hoppy Days!

Heriot-Watt University PgDip course acceptance
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 3-minute read

As stated in my founding post for this beer focussed blog, I have future plans to one day establish a modest craft brewery of my own in rural Japan. In order to help achieve those goals I tentatively applied for the MSc Brewing and Distilling By Distance Learning course run by Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

Learning to brew beer through practice and experimentation is all well and good but I really wanted to understand the science behind the brewing in order to be be prepared to tackle future challenges and ideally preferred to do so in a structured manner, so this course seemed perfect for my needs.

Unfortunately, the soft requirement for entry into the course is an undergraduate degree in science or engineering and my degree in Japanese language and culture fits neither bill so I was apprehensive that I may not be considered. I therefore lined up some former lecturers to provide references if required and penned a passionate accompanying statement ensuring the university that faith in me would not be misplaced.

Offer letter from Heriot-Watt University

Fortunately, the soft requirement was indeed soft and without any request for references I have been offered an unconditional acceptance into the programme, which I have confirmed! WOOHOOO!!!!! If we’re honest, this is probably more to do with harsh financial challenges facing our universities than it was to do with my passionate plea but either way, come September 2020 I shall commence studying in the programme which I think makes my dreams to open my own brewery far more attainable.

Whilst, this is an MSc course, every new student is enrolled in the postgraduate diploma course and opts in to the dissertation for MSc at a later date, should they wish to pursue this. I do not currently have plans to complete the MSc, nor even the PgDip but rather intend to exit after completing 6 courses and attaining a postgraduate certificate (on completion of 4).

My reasoning is that I’m attaining industry knowledge which will then be applied in practice to my own company, as such I am not so inspired to study the courses relating to academic writing and research. This could however change and the course offers me the flexibility to make tho choices further down the road.

Offer details from Heriot-Watt University

In recognising that I don’t have a science background the offer also included a book recommendation for me to prepare for the start of the course, which shall be studied intently during the coming months.

I am very excited to start, a little daunted by the idea of studying a postgraduate science programme but ready to face the challenges and rise to them!

Of Sugar Munchers and Chilly Gas

Post-brew discoveries #1
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 4-minute read

As I settled down to read over the brew sheet for my impending Imperial Stout brew and after over 2 hours of cleaning and sanitising kit, I made a discovery.. I did not have enough yeast for the next day’s brew and had no means of acquiring more in time. So I hugged the windows in this mobile network black spot we call home in order to latch on to a signal to advise my scheduled brew buddy of the postponement.


Purepitch Yeast Packet Front

When buying the beer kits I have been using to learn brewing, I had noted that for certain kits I could choose dry yeast or liquid yeast. I had previously read in slightly out-dated brewing books that liquid yeast is superior to dry yeast and so I have, for the last few orders, been opting for liquid. As it turns out, in doing so I’ve unknowingly been brewing with insufficient volumes of yeast!

Nowadays, due to improvements in the science dry yeast is apparently pretty close to liquid yeast in terms of quality but one advantage to liquid yeast is it enables you to create a yeast starter. This is currently too advanced a process for me to include but in essence you create a low gravity wort using dried malt extract and pitch the yeast into this a day or two before, which enables you activate and grow the yeast cultures so that you have sufficient volumes to pitch into higher gravity worts. Still with me? (who am I kidding, I’m the only one reading!). This is also advisable if your yeast is a bit older.

Purepitch Yeast Packet Back

As a result of the previous paragraph, when you order liquid yeast in the kit, you are only sent by default one sachet. If you don’t make a yeast starter then this is likely to be insufficient, and you have the option of ordering more. If only I had realised this at the time of ordering I’d have an exciting stout in the fermenter.. and my last beer would be much better!

This may go a large part of the way to explaining why I missed my final gravity reading in the last brew.

So today, I’ll order the extra two sachets of liquid yeast required to munch on high gravity stout wort and then I’ll buy dried yeast going forward until I’m ready to advance to yeast starters.

Force Carbonation

As I opted to skip the bottling phase for the time being and keg my beers, I have been trying to follow steps with regards to properly carbonating the beer post-fermentation. Carbonating using CO2 rather than brewing sugars is referred to as force carbonation (not force carbonisation as I keep calling it) and the trick is knowing what PSI or volume of gas to introduce to the keg for how long.

Han Solo Force CarbonisationForce Carbonation NOT Force Carbonisation

Everyone seems to have their own method and so for the beers I have made up to now I had opted to follow a generic instruction from the manufacturer of my brewing kit, Grainfather. Their instructions are simple to follow:

  • 30 PSI for 2 days
  • 10-12 PSI for 1 day
  • 8-10 PSI and refrigerate for 4 hours

They are simple to follow but haven’t really worked for me, in each case the resultant beer was a little too flat. My experiments thus far in correcting this have been disappointing, for my NEIPA I cranked the PSI up for too long, resulting in a massively over-carbonated beer, I’ve been able to eek it down again but there is a lasting bitterness in the beer as a result.

I’ve been looking in to this and possibly the issue is that I’ve not been considering temperature as a variable. When I pressurise my kegs, I do so inside the kegerator (for that is where the gas outlets live) and this is maintained at a temperature of 4°C whereas the instructions above seem to infer that the keg is only refrigerated for the final age.

My meanderings led to further discoveries, namely gas carbonation charts and gas carbonation calculators because I, of course, and not re-inventing the wheel here.. many brewers precede me and careful web searching could have saved me a bit of effort.

Different beer types have different recommended gas volumes and working out how to deliver this volume at my working temperature can be attained using either the charts or the calculators (the latter being quicker, easier and more likely to be my way forward).. so from here on in I’ll be using this calculator from Brewer’s Friend, a website which I suspect I’ll be visiting often.

Chinook What I Made

Notes from brew day #3
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 10-minute read

After the abject failure of my previous brew determination was high. Mistakes would not be made, at least not with regards to the most important stage of the process, sanitisation!

This was my first brew day with assistance, in the form of my dad, and having someone to “teach” really helped my focus throughout the day, not only were there considerably less mistakes there were also notable improvements throughout the steps compared to previous attempts.


In my summary of brew day ichi-ban I described in detail (my understanding) of the steps involved so I’ll not go into as much detail this time but will attempt to follow the me structure.

The Beer Kit

19L New England IPA

The New England IPA 19L All Grain Beer Kit was the same beer kit that I had used in the previous disastrous brew however due to issues with online payment I had to vistt the brew store to pick up, and the hops that were included in this kit were different from the previous kit. I’m a novice so I didn’t question this at the time but at various times during the brew I considered that perhaps I had been given the wrong hops.

Grain bill for brew 3

In the kit this time was a bag of mixed grains, 200 grams of Chinook hops as well as a sachet of White Labs WLP066 London Fog Ale Yeast (liquid).

As previously ingredients were accompanied by some general brewing tips and the …

Brew Day Sheet

This very handy two page guide split the brew into its composite stages and provided target temperatures, gravity readings and volumes as well as space for recording timings and measurements throughout the day. It was very useful and despite my occasional flapping it kept me pretty much on track. The composite parts of the sheet will be incorporated below in the stage sections.

This was actually missing from the kit on this occasion but I had the previous brew’s sheet and I noted all of the important steps and numbers in a notebook.

Stage 0 - Prep!

Not only did I clean and sanitise EVERYTHING immediately after the last brew, on the night before this one, I went through the whole process again! This time however, on the advice of a retired chemist on the fediverse I noted every measurement and each step down.

Brewday 3 - Notes

In addition to directly address the issue that wrecked my last beer, I bought accurate measuring devices in the form of a glass pipette set which enabled me to measure exactly 2ml of the ‘no rinse’ sanitiser in with 1 litre of water for the spray bottle.

Brewday 3 - Pipettes

I also endeavoured to spray less enthusiastically, or rather less intensely.. enthusiasm levels were high regardless of the somewhat tedious task at hand. The extra focus on preparation definitely provided a solid foundation for the next day’s activities!

Stage 1 - Striking & Mashing

Another lesson learned from the previous brew was to heat the strike water as soon as I rolled out of bed, this meant that by the time the brew started the water was already at the correct temperature.. enabling me to spend just short of an extra hour with my daughter before I started in earnest.

Previously, I had noted that the thermometer probe wasn’t secure and had slipped out during the last brew.. this was firmly taped to the unit this time and didn’t budge through the whole day.

With the mash, we actually actively mashed and stirred the grain in for the entire duration of the water dropping from 76°C to 66°C.. this was tough work, I’m not entirely sure how long it took but my dad and I took turns, and in actively working the mash for the whole time we not only reduced the cool down time considerably but also released more sugars into the wort than previously.

This stage was absolutely nailed, a marked improvement on previous attempts, and the benefits of having a brew buddy became very apparent, very quickly.

Stage 2 - Lautering & Sparging

According to the brew sheet for this NEIPA recipe, approximately 8-10 litres of 76°C water should be rinsed or sparged through the spent grains in order to hit a pre-boil wort volume of 25 litres.. I needed 12L which was the same as last time.

It could be that there are improvements that could be made to this part of the process so I’ll maybe agitate the grain a bit more during this process to release more sugars and move the sparge water through, I suspect that of the 12L poured in a fair amount was still sitting within the grain cake.

Stage 3 - Boiling

Somewhat excitingly (likely to a very limited audience only) there was some proper protein build up as the wort hit the boiling point. I had experienced this during a trip to the Stewart Brewing Craft Beer Kitchen with friends a few years previous and was a little confused as to why it hadn’t happened on my earlier brews.. but it seems that our increased activity during the mash stage was the reason. What nice, natural, confirmatory feedback on our enhanced efforts!

With the confidence that the thermometer probe was securely attached and accurately measuring temperature, after breaking up the protein with a paddle, the rest of the boil went very smoothly.

We filled the time reading brewing books and chatting about my future brewing plans in Japan. As my dad was driving later in the day we weren’t drinking.. my next brew buddy is a non-driver!

Brewday 3 - Books

Stage 4 - Hop Additions

There was an initial 50g of the Chinook hops as a 10 minute (from end of boil) addition, then the hop stand which involves lowering the temperature post-boil to 70-80°C, adding in another 50g of the hops and holding the hot wort at that temperature for 30-45 minutes, we went for 40 minutes at 76°C since 76 appears to be a special number.

So far the hop stand seems to be a specific step for this style of beer and must contribute to the hazy or rather juicy look of the final beer.

Brewday 3 - Chinook Hops Label

Whilst we were reading in the previous stage, I had spotted a note attached to a recipe from BrewDog&rsquo;s DIY DOG 2017 which stated that they get the be results when dry -hopping for 5 days (rather than 4 recommended elsewhere) at 14°C. It wasn’t overly clear if they meant specifically with the recipe the note was attached to or as a general rule of thumb but with my newly acquired chiller, I gave it a go.

Hop schedule for this brew was:

  • 50g of hops at 10 minutes (50 minutes into boil)
  • 50g of hops post-boil in a hop stand
  • 100g of dry hops post-fermentation for 5 days at 14°C

Stage 5 - Cooling

Post-brew it occurred to me that I missed a step which could logically fit in this age, I briefly mentioned it in my first brew post and will remember to do it next time.

The whirlpooling stage is primarily meant to separate trub (errant hops or grains which managed to escape the grain basket post-sparge) from the wort by dragging them down to the bottom of the .. boiling vessel.. but also the act of a 5 minute (yup!) whirlpool will also cool the wort a little, albeit slower than the cooling coil that comes with the Grainfather.

We cooled the wort to 18°C and transferred into the fermenter at a higher elevation than previously in order to increase the oxygen in the wort for the hungry yeast.

Stage 6 - Fermenting

The target original gravity (OG) for this beer is 1.063 which on my previous disastrous brew I hit on the nose, this time though I missed it by a little, landing on 1.059.. There was about an extra litre of of pre-boil wort and it seems that this was extra sparge water resulting in a very slightly weaker final wort.

Brewday 3 - Hydrometer for measuring wort gravity

The fermentation of this beer was the most active (noisiest) so far.. even into day 8 there was still the occasional bubble through the airlock. However, as previously experienced the active yeast increased the temperature of the wort in the fermenter, and it occurred to me finally that I had forgotten to buy a cooling system, so I ordered an inexpensive one and took immediate action whilst awaiting its delivery.

On noticing the temperature creeping up to almost 23°C, my wife and I carefully moved the fermenter on to a worktop in the utility room, opened the window to a Scottish winter and watched the temperature drop. The fermenter has a heating element so whenever it drops below the target temperature it slowly recovers.. so whilst there were a few periods where the temperature was slightly below 18°C, they were brief and the heat never exceeded 20°C for the remainder of the fermentation window.

During the fermentation, I noted that the yeast dump deposits were a bit smaller than previously but this made sense because the yeast was .. expiring.. at a slower rate. Where the fermenter previously went dormant after 4 days it stretched out twice as long this time before fermentation seemed to be done.

Again though, my final gravity (FG) reading was higher than the target and this time I’m not sure why. It was closer to the FG this time (1.026) than last time (1.033) so some progress is being made. Perhaps I need to look into the pH levels of the water or perhaps it will improve upon the introduction of a 5 minute whirlpool.. This is a challenge I feel will take a bit of time to understand.

As a result of missing both OG and FG targets my final ABV (according to the Brewer&rsquo;s Friend Calculator ) is 4.33% had I hit my OG this would have been 4.86%.

For reference the following were my volume and gravity targets and final gravity (FG) results:

  • Desired Volume: 19L
  • Actual Volume: 19L
  • Desired OG: 1.063
  • Actual OG: 1.059
  • Desired FG: 1.013
  • Actual FG: 1.026
  • Desired ABV: 6.6%
  • Actual ABV: 4.3%

Stage 7: Kegging & Carbonising

I force-carbonated the beer for 2 days at 30PSI, brought it down to 12PSI for another 24 hours, hooked it up to the tap and lowered the pressure to 10PSI. However, as I had noticed on my first brew this resulted in a slightly under-carbonated beer so I cranked up the PSI to 30 for another 24 hours.

Stage 8: Drinking

Vindication you taste awesome! OK, dialling it down a bit.. this is a tasty beer, I would be happy if I ordered this in a pub and would enjoy every last drop. I wouldn’t necessarily rush back to order it again though but that’s an issue of personal taste..

I like my NEIPAs to be almost fruit juice like, certain hops give off more fruity qualities that I think are better suited to a NEIPA than others. Chinook has some of those qualities it seems but also some resin-y qualities, this is fine, Fierce Beer make a very nice juicy beer which is quite resin-y (Late Shift ) but it just isn’t my personal preference.

Brewday 3 - NEIPA

As an exercise in brewing this was a fantastic experience and my confidence and enthusiasm has been restored.

Will I drink this beer? Of course, with pride and I’ll make it again, but next time I’ll use El Dorado hops and see if they taste like I think they would taste without the accidental inclusion of sanitising chemicals.

For the next brew, I have a friend joining me and whilst we enjoy this NEIPA, we’ll be having a crack at an Imperial Stout.. arguably my favourite type of beer!

Why Pixelfed?

Why I host a Pixelfed instance
Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 5-minute read

Since December 2018 I have hosted a Pixelfed server, intended for family and friend use but in actuality currently only used by myself and very occasionally my wife.

The reason that I’ve not applied a @dansup level of marketing to encourage my circle to move over to the platform yet is due to a few bugs and polish items that I am awaiting, but as we are edging closer to a version 1 release, I thought this might be a good time to jot down my thoughts on the application. Primarily intended for the audience that the instance is targeted towards.

I have previously written about the fediverse and why I have left facebook, google etc. so if you need a primer then that’s the place to go first.

What is Pixelfed?

Pixelfed - A free and ethical photo sharing platform.

Pixelfed is, in a nutshell, a free and open-source instagram replacement. It allows you to upload photos and short videos, create albums, collections and ephemeral stories and enables sharing and interaction across the fediverse.

Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica etc. users can follow a Pixelfed account and interact with the posts and account owner from the safety and comfort of their own hidey-hole.

Further information can be found at .

Why use Pixelfed?

I’ve been asked this question a couple of times by folks already using federated social media. Their reasoning is usually that the other application such as Mastodon and Pleroma not only allow you to upload media but also to have media only tabs so why have another account on a photo & video only site?

This is a fair question and I sometimes upload photos to my pleroma account rather than Pixelfed.

However, most of the applications that I host are provided on the basis of the use cases of family and friends. In my circles instagram is very popular and pixelfed is pretty close functionally to instagram, getting closer by the day and improving on the concept too.

Pixelfed Collection - Craft Beer

I do also use Pixelfed though and there are unique aspects of it that I like such as the organisational functions such as the ability to create collections or hashtags discovery groups.

Pixelfed Discover Page

I like that Pixelfed processes the photos on upload (massively decreasing storage space for me) and I like, though rarely use the photo editing functions such as cropping and filters.

I don’t think I ever used stories, if it was even called that on instagram, but I can understand why others might find it fun, interesting or useful.

An upcoming feature named circles which will enable you to create groups of friends/followers who you can share photos or video with and no-one else will see them. This sounds good, whether or not I’ll personally use it in practice remains to be seen.

Scopes enable you to manage the visibility of your posts, either:

  • public - visible by everyone via a public timeline
  • unlisted - will appear on publicly profile page but only followers can see in their timelines
  • followers only - can only be seen by followers even on profile
  • circles - SOON™

This enables me to have a private account for photos of my daughter which are only visible to people I personally approve - family and friends only. This is a common feature across fediverse applications.

Pixelfed visibility scopes

Embedding! You can now embed photos and profiles into other blogs or web pages, which is nice!

I like the developer(s). This is generally common for most of the open source apps that I use, the developers are generally very open to feedback and are excited that people are using their application. Marketing mogul and time-illusionary @dansup is no exception! I have had many interactions with him over the past 15 months or so, and whether it be a unique issue I was experiencing during initial set up, a feature suggestion or a bug report the interactions are always gratefully received and pleasantly handled, and wherever possible bugs are fixed as quickly as they are reported. This interaction means a great deal to me, it re-affirms my decision to leave faceless corporations in favour of people-oriented open source developers.

Wish list

As mentioned above, I have been waiting for the application to be in a more polished ate before trying to onboard family and friends and whilst I feel we are nearly there I have small list of outstanding tasks or features that I’m looking forward to being addressed:

  • A federated timeline or federated discover page - I think that the discover page will only really bask in it’s glory when it allows discovery of accounts and media from other Pixelfed instances.
  • Remote account avatars - Currently avatars for accounts from other remote instances are not pulled, it’s a minor thing but it makes the application feel unfinished (which it is of course!)
  • Fixing the bug I raised eons ago ;) - #1359
  • Notifications for all interactions - Currently notifications are limited and don’t include comments.
  • Ability to choose photo order when uploading multiples
  • Webfinger support - a bit jargon-y but makes searching for other accounts more user-friendly. Added since post
  • Instagram and Pixelfed imports - The ability to import media from instagram or other Pixelfed accounts. It’s coming, I’m patient.
  • Pixelfed app - There are a number of apps on your chosen phone OS and I like them, but I think having an official Pixelfed app will help bring people onboard.. most folk are used to an app per site which seems pretty inefficient to me but for this reason a Pixelfed app will be really help shift folk over to the platform. This is also in progress.

This list used to be a lot bigger and I’m sure it won’t be long before it shrinks again.

Pixelfed is a fantastic application and I look forward to encouraging tho close to me to join.

Pixelfed on Mastodon

2020 Provisional Plans

Big plans for a busy year
Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 6-minute read

On our return from our most recent trip to visit my wife’s family in Japan I posted on my pleroma account about my ambitious plans for 2020 in order to hopefully facilitate a move to rural Japan as early as Spring 2022.

This article is an attempt to flesh the out a little and to have somewhere that I can more easily refer to for updates, amendments etc. So in no particular order:

Japanese Government’s Rural Initiative (not correct name but will update and write about in greater detail in the future)

This is a scheme aimed at encouraging more families to move from the big Japanese cities to rural locations, with a focus on encouraging retraining, community involvement and company creation. Each town government has its own requirements and the can change on an annual basis.

Successful applicants have up to three years to make a life in the town and contribute to the local economy, during which time the government will subsidise rent, home refurbishments and pay a regular, sufficient wage. After three years then you are on your own so to speak but by then hopefully you have established an income of your own.

A brief look into the scheme would suggest that so long as I have a driver’s license by the time of application and am capable of participating in an interview, then I should qualify. I already have a litany of ideas the biggest of which is to have my own craft beer brewery however, it is a mid-to-long term plan and hopefully some of my more immediately implementable ideas will impress the government officials when the time comes.

Japanese Language Proficiency Tests

Initial plan is to sit and pass JLPT N3 - which I should already be able to do, but the intention is to study for it properly in order to establish a study pattern for the more challenging N2 exam which I hope to sit in 2021.

If I’m to get back to a level where I can participate in a Japanese interview for the above scheme then the JLPT exams will help to focus me and fill the large gaps in vocabulary that have appeared since I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Japanese in 2011 - not that I was particularly good with the language back then, I was more interested in Japanese feudal history.. regardless, N3 this year, N2 next.

Brew regularly

Starting next week, I’ll be trying to brew a different beer each month and attempting to study the science of brewing so that by the time we move to Japan I have a solid knowledge-base from which to reach out for potential brewery internships as brewing beer at home is kind of illegal in Japan (unless under 1% ABV).

I am still a beginner and my second brew was somewhat of a failure. I hope to improve my understanding of the basics, tighten my quality control process and become very familiar with the different grains, malts, hops and yeasts over the next few years. I’ll initially probably be focusing largely on IPAs but before we move to Japan I want to experiment with dark and sour beers. I’ll endevour to record everything in my blog and as my Japanese improves, add translations where relevant or interesting to build towards a profile which can be understood by potential future employers.

Study the science of brewing

Hand in hand with the brewing plans, I hope to find some online courses or books from which I can learn more about molecular biology etc. I want to be in a potion where I understand protein chains, yeast storage and quality, water quality etc. This knowledge will be very important when the time comes to establish a brewery but also before then it will enhance my ability to design beers based on more than a hunch about tasty flavour combinations.

I recently re-visited the Heriot Watt University MSc Brewing & Distilling course page and discovered that it may be possible for me to study towards a Postgraduate Certificate online which if an application was successful would enable me to study exactly the content that I will need to for a career in brewing. I have contacted HW admissions and if I get a positive response to my multiple questions then I think I’ll apply for this course which would begin in September this year. Fingers crossed!

Depending on work-load and progress with this, I may also reach out to some Scottish craft brewers to see if there are any prospects for short-term internship or shadowing to set in place for next year.


I already do a fair amount of cooking at home and when time allows like to spend 4-6 hours in the kitchen making delicious #vegan food. However, as my future in Japan will revolve around both drink and food and in all cases vegan varieties of them all, I need to up my game and focus on mastering some fundamentals from which potential menus in potential cafes or food trucks might be devised.

I’ve previously worked in the kitchens of hotels and pubs in a variety of roles and several of the roles involved cooking for the public so I’m not completely unfamiliar with the requirements, but if I’m to be a lone vegan cook in our wee village in rural Japan, then I’ll need to really understand dashi options, umami and cooking with the local ingredients I’ll have at hand. Fun!!

Get the house in order

Literally! We’ve had an unfinished garage conversion for several years now! The building contractor who was hired to do the work upped sticks and ran away when the council returned a list of issues. Since then it has fluctuated in importance and several attempts to enlist the help of other contractors to finish the job have failed. We need to get this fixed once and for all or selling the house in a few years time is going to be somewhat of a challenge.


Undoubtedly there will be more plans made, developed and or abandoned as the year progresses, but I hope to write about as much of it as possible, particularly where it relates to potentially interesting information uncovered as we learn more about the process and challenges of moving (back) to Japan.

Next year: driving license, JLPT N2, studying for Japanese beer proficiency tests (yes, really), strengthening of pretty much everything above.

Crying Tears of Hazy Gold

Notes from brew day #2
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 10-minute read

Enthusiasm for my second brew day was very high, expectations were moderate and preparation was good (or so I thought). Enthusiasm for writing this blog post after the disappointing conclusion to the brew day was somewhat minimal, but at the me time I am a new brewer and I need to record failures as well as success if I am to learn from my mistakes!

TL:DR this brew failed and resulted in all of the beer being poured down the drain!

In my summary of brew day ichi-ban I described in detail (my understanding) of the steps involved so I’ll not go into as much detail this time but will attempt to follow the me structure.

The Beer Kit

19L New England IPA

I had hoped to use the me beer kit consistently for the first three or four brews but I also wanted to step up from 11L to a 19L brew and the previous beer kit was not in stock for this volume, so I opted for New England IPA 19L All Grain Beer Kit , once again from Edinburgh bad brew store . I knew off the bat that making a NEIPA is a more involved process but I was up for the challenge.

In the box this time was a slightly damaged bag of mixed grains, some of which were clearly oats and as I hold the opinion that any beer is made better by the inclusion of oats, I was pretty happy with that!

Grain bill for brew 2

In contrast to the previous brew I also knew which hops I was using! 200 grams of the excitingly named El Dorado hop as well as a sachet of White Labs WLP066 London Fog Ale Yeast (liquid).

200g Vacuum-packed bag of El Dorado dried hops

As previously ingredients were accompanied by some general brewing tips and the …

Brew Day Sheet

This very handy two page guide split the brew into its composite stages and provided target temperatures, gravity readings and volumes as well as space for recording timings and measurements throughout the day. It was very useful and despite my occasional flapping it kept me pretty much on track. The composite parts of the sheet will be incorporated below in the stage sections.

Stage 0 - Prep!

I almost feel like I should address this section last but as I’ve already shared the disappointing conclusion to the brew day, I’ll grudgingly explain the one major mistake of the day which added an unplanned heat to the drinking of the final product.. think less of habanero and more that acid vat from robocop.

As I had previously extolled as the most important factor of the entire brewing process, I cleaned EVERYTHING and sanitised EVERYTHING so that no stray bacteria would contaminate my beer at any age of the process.

Shiny interior of the Grainfather mash tun Look how shiny it is!

The issue wasn’t with cleaning, everything was as clean as it needed to be. The issue wasn’t that I forgot to sanitise anything, absolutely everything that had any contact whatsoever with the ingredients and the wort at each age of the process was sanitised. So what was the problem?

Over-sanitisation, or rather insufficient attention to detail when mixing the sanitiser with water resulting in the wrong ratios and a much more potent solution than I should have been spraying on absolutely everything.

The sanitiser bottle comes with a 10ml measuring, eh neck section.. which is the amount to be mixed with 5L of warm water. My spray bottle holds only a volume of 1L so I eyeballed 2ml .. because obviously there is such a huge margin of error that this was a class A idea.

I have had some sound advice from a friend on the fediverse who previously worked in pharma, which I shall be following henceforth! Namely, record everything in detail to which I’ll also be incorporating proper measuring implements.

Let’s leave this disappointment behind and move on to the actual brew day, shall we?

Stage 1 - Striking & Mashing

The temperatures involved in the striking and mashing ages mirrored that in my previous brew though obviously the water volumes increased for the larger grain bill and thus the heating process took a lot longer.

Note to self: Start heating the water as soon as you get out of bed!

This should have been a straight-forward, stress-free age and a simple repeat of la time, however I discovered my first issue with the Grainfather brewing unit, and that is that the thermometer probe does not snap or lock into place. Due to this, the probe actually slid out a little and the temperature readings as a result were not accurate. When I noticed and pushed the probe back in, the accurate reading was higher by several degrees than it should have been.. and by this point I had already mashed in·

Lid off of the grainfather to try and reduce the mash temperature more quickly

So the strike water was too hot and it took longer to cool to mash temperature, which elongated the process and would have impacted on the gravity and potentially the taste of the beer had it not been already, unwittingly destroyed by this point. I tilted off the lid from the Grainfather which would normally be sitting atop the unit, in order to try and facilitate the cooldown process.

Otherwise, the grain bill was well mixed and mashed and despite this minor setback I was excited to plod on.

Stage 2 - Lautering & Sparging

According to the brew sheet for this NEIPA recipe, approximately 8-10 litres of 76°C water should be rinsed or sparged through the spent grains in order to hit a pre-boil wort volume of 25 litres.. I needed 12L to hit about 24L thanks to the increased evaporation in the previous stage. This would presumably have very slightly weakened the wort but not by enough to be concerned.

An off-the-cuff amendment to bring the brew day back on track, morale was still high!

Stage 3 - Boiling

By this age of the brew things have been a bit more hands off for a while, and I was really starting to feel the impact of my scheduled brew buddy cancelling on me, again, for the second time. The whole process was much longer than the previous, smaller brew and extended by the thermometer issue. I was at home and could have attempted to alleviate my encroaching boredom but as I’m still learning the basics, I didn’t want to become too distracted and make more mistakes.. So the isolation started to set in around now.

.. the boiling stage is pretty tedious to write about.. wort boiled for 60 minutes, next!

Stage 4 - Hop Additions

This was the stage I was looking forward to the most, aside from drinking this gloriously hazy, juicy New England IPA that I was crafting. A new process to test and learn!

There was an initial 50g of the El Dorado hops as a 10 minute (from end of boil) addition, then the hop stand which involves lowering the temperature post-boil to 70-80°C, adding in another 50g of the hops and holding the hot wort at that temperature for 30-45 minutes.

It took about 15 minutes to reach the temperature range and add the hops.. I appear to not have recorded the temperature nor time I maintained the wort at the temperature.. but it was within both target ranges.. I’ll do better with the recording next time.

As it turns out this is the only added complexity in this NEIPA brew as opposed to the previous US IPA brew and it would have been nice to enjoy the beer and mull over the influence of this new process.. hindsight!

It did make for an even longer brew, that’s for sure.

El Dorado Hops!

Hop schedule for this brew was:

  • 50g of hops at 10 minutes (50 minutes into boil)
  • 50g of hops post-boil in a hop and
  • 100g of dry hops post-fermentation for 4 days

Stage 5 - Cooling

During my first brew, I over-chilled the wort and introduced the yeast at too low a temperature potentially killing off some yeast from the get go, I was not going to make the same mistake again.

This time, I very carefully cooled the wort to 18°C before transferring the wort from the brew unit to the fermenter and only pitched the yeast once the temperature had been maintained for a little while.

Stage 6 - Fermenting

Just prior to pitching the yeast into the fermenter I took a sample for original gravity (OG) measurement, my target hydrometer reading was 1.063 and my measurement read 1.063, through the tiredness I felt vindicated that perhaps my amendments had fixed everything and in just two short weeks I’d be swimming in glorious, juicy beer..

I had issues with hitting my gravity target on my first brew and one of the reasons I think was that I didn’t try to oxygenate the wort on it’s journey into the fermenter, so I tried to do so this time and next time I’ll try a little harder to do so..

The liquid yeast and hitting the target temperatures before pitching definitely appeared to make big improvements, this time the fermenter bubbled much more rapidly, aggressively and for several days longer than before. So much so that it naturally increased the temperature in the fermenter to higher than the preferred range.. I adjusted the temperature regulator accordingly.

It was during the 10 days of fermentation that I started to suspect something had gone awry. Every 2-3 days I would take a yeast dump (much more carefully this time!) and a sample to measure progress. I also tasted the samples.. for educational purposes, you understand.. and immediately was concerned that this beer was hotter than anticipated. I did however already have a cold and a sore throat so I wasn’t absolutely sure if my suspicions were on point. So I continued.

Again though, my final gravity (FG) reading was higher than the target and this time I suspect it’s a combination of the higher strike and mash temperatures leading to a longer mash process as well as despite my attempts, under-oxygenating the wort when transferring into the fermenter. It possibly wasn’t aided by excessive sanitisation liquid contaminating everything.

I’m still learning, I’m still learning, I’m still learning.

For reference the following were my volume and gravity targets and final gravity (FG) results:

  • Desired Volume: 19L
  • Actual Volume: ~19.5L
  • Desired OG: 1.063
  • Actual OG: 1.063 - NOT A TYPO!!
  • Desired FG: 1.013
  • Actual FG: 1.033 - Also not a typo.
  • Desired ABV: 6.6%
  • Actual ABV: ~4% again.. probably.. I guess

Stage 7: Kegging & Carboning

I had identified and resolved the minor CO2 leak from my gas cylinder and honestly, this might have been the smoothest part of the whole process.

I force-carbonated the beer for 2 days at 30PSI, brought it down to 12PSI for another 24 hours, hooked it up to the tap and lowered the pressure to 10PSI. I left it for a couple of days more before pouring as I was pretty ill and also pretty busy.

Stage 8: Drinking

So, was it all worth it in the end? sob gulp sob

My heart was already seeking consolation from my ankles by the time I came to pour the beer. On a positive, it looked gorgeous, it smelled fresh and lightly hoppy and the head was bubbly, stubborn and inviting.

However, I had to check my neck immediately after drinking to ensure it hadn’t burned through my throat and poured on to my chest.

Without any further ado, I unhooked the keg and poured all 19L of the “beer” down the sink. Gutted! The brew day was about 8 hours long and it was really hard to keep up concentration levels for that stretch of time.

For the next brew, which of course there will be on our return from Japan in January, I hope to try the same beer again and correct the one major and few minor mistakes. I will have a brewing buddy this time, a real one and not just the kindly souls from Estonia and Finland!

Beers from Estonia and Finland

And So It Begins

Notes from brew day #1
Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 11-minute read

The much anticipated first brew day in what I hope to be many subsequent and incrementally improved brew days finally culminating in a career in the #craftbeer industry, has come and gone. This shall be a summary of the events as well as the mistakes I believe that I made along the way and thoughts on how to fix them for my next brew day.

The Beer Kit

US IPA 11L All Grain Beer Kit

For the first handful of brews I am trying to understand the methods and get used to the equipment that I’ll be using for the next few years of home brewing and so I have opted to buy all-grain beer kits in an effort to focus on process. The beer kit for brew numero uno was this US IPA 11L All Grain Beer Kit from Edinburgh based brew store .

The kit contained a pre-ground bag of grains (unspecified), 2 vacuum-packed foil wrapped packs of hop pellets (namely hop A and hop B) and one sachet of Mangrove Jack’s M44 West Coast Ale Yeast.

The ingredients were accompanied by some general brewing tips and the …

Brew Day Sheet

This very handy two page guide split the brew into its composite stages and provided target temperatures, gravity readings and volumes as well as space for recording timings and measurements throughout the day. It was very useful and despite my occasional flapping it kept me pretty much on track. The composite parts of the sheet will be incorporated below in the stage sections.

Stage 0 - Prep!

This was added to this post as an afterthought but it is far to important to be so. Not only did I have to finish setting up my brewing equipment and hooking up gas etc. to my kegerator.. I had to CLEAN EVERYTHING and SANITISE EVERYTHING! Not doing so can lead to the beer being infected and being undrinkable at best.

I’ve worked for many, many years in bars and kitchens, I’m an avid cook and I have drilled myself during this time into always maintaining a clean and organseid work area (only in the kitchen!) so this wasn’t a stretch. I also found it very relaxing and quite nostalgic to be cleaning beer lines etc. again after all this time.

There was little risk of me not doing this stage well, but it would be remiss of me not to mention it all the me.

AWP Cleaner and Sanitiser which I used to clean everything!

Always thoroughly clean and sanitise your food/drink preparation and equipment.. anything that comes in contact with the beer or ingredients during the brew day must be clean and sanitary.

Chemsan no rinse sanitiser - because it’s handy to have spray bottle even though everything was already technically sanitised

Stage 1 - Striking & Mashing

In a nutshell the mash is the introduction of the grain bill to the hot strike water and steeping at an ideal temperature for a set period of time. The process activates enzymes which breaks down the starches in the grains into sugars which are then dissolved into the hot water to create wort.

The first part of this stage is measuring the volume of strike water (12L) and getting it up to ideal temperature, in this case 76°C. Whilst there really isn’t much room for error here, I did heat the strike water in an electric urn rather than in the mash tun.. it may have been quicker the other way around.. we shall see next time.

I then slowly introduced the grain bill into the water, stirring as I wanted to ensure that any grain clumps are broken down and then once the porridge-y concoction as in place, we reduce the temperature to 66°C to steep the grains for an hour. The temperature of the mash influences the body of the beer, lighter and drier beers are mashed at slightly lower temperatures than full bodied beers. This beer is middle of the road, a medium bodied beer.

So far, so good!

Stage 2 - Lautering & Sparging

Lautering is a term used for the removal of the spent grains from the mash tun, leaving only wort behind which in larger volume brewing is transferred to a separate boiling unit. My grainfather acts as both a mash tun and a boiler so I guess my beer is only partially lautered??

Several of the snippets of wisdom come second hand from this book: Brew by James Morton

The next process is the exquisitely named sparge! This step in my generously named ‘brew kitchen’ involves lifting the inner chamber of the grainfather and pouring 4-6 litres of 76°C water slowly through the spent grains so that all of the remaining sugars are rinsed off and into the wort below.

My target wort volume after sparging was 15L and I’m relieved to report that I hit the target on the nose.

Two stages down and though there may be some efficiency gains for next brew, no actual beer affecting mistakes yet!

Stage 3 - Boiling

In layman’s terms, this method involves raising the wort to boiling temperature and maintaining that for a period of time, in this case 60 minutes.


Stage 4 - Hop Additions

This is where it can get a little tricky because the hops have different functions or rather add different qualities to the beer depending on when they are added. Hops add flavour, bitterness and aroma, I guess technically bitterness is a subset of flavour but it’s my blog and after buying the kit and brewing it.. my beer so :P

Hops added at the start of the boil are bittering hops and when added later in the boil or even post-fermentation this is for flavour depth (as in not bitter notes) and aroma.

The schedule for this brew was:

  • 10g of hop A and 10g of hop B at 60 minutes (start of boil)
  • 10g of hop A and 10g of hop B at 7 minutes (53 minutes into the boil)
  • 10g of hop A and 10g of hop B - Dry hop 4 days. The hops are added to the fermenter (secondary if you have one) once the beer has fermented and left to steep for 4 days.

I had noted from various books and online videos that a very important process when adding hops is called whirlpooling and involves using your stirring implement of choice (sanitised of course) and creating a whirlpool in the wort for about 30 seconds, this allows the hops to disperse more evenly into the beer (or something like that, I need to revisit the theory).. and this was the step where I met my first challenge.

Due to me opting for a small batch, I didn’t have a lot of liquid to work with and struggled to create a proper whirlpool without hitting the false bottom inside the grainfather and potentially dislodging filters etc. The same challenge awaited me with the dry hopping stage.

So lesson 1, make larger volumes of beer! There are probably other ways to have overcome this challenge but too late for that now!

Stage 5 - Cooling

During this stage we rapidly cool the wort from boiling to a target temperature of 18-23°C for transferring into the fermenter. In my case using the grainfather this is done by pumping the boiling wort through a counter flow wort cooler which is a coil that ts atop the unit and attaches to a cold water outlet of your choice, the cold water is contained within the cooler and the hot wort is pumped through the coils, reducing in temperature with each circuit. Conveniently the hot wort sanitises the cooler as it goes through the first run as that would be a nightmare to have to sanitise otherwise.

Grainfather wort cooling coil

I had a few issues here due to buying a cheap garden hose to connect my only compatible tap to the cooling unit a number of metres away.. there were leaks and containing them wasn’t fun.. but only water was sprayed about so no big deal.

As I have no thermometer unit in order to gauge the temperature of the wort as it flows through I also over-chilled the wort at this age, reducing the temperature to about 14°C. Which was the temperature that I transferred the wort into the fermenter.

Stage 6 - Fermenting

The temperature was too low, but I have a temperature controlled conical fermenter so I set the temperature to 20°C and I took my sample to record the original gravity (OG) reading from my hydrometer. However due to the leaks and missed target temperature I got slightly flustered and instead of waiting until the wort had hit the preferred temperature I pitched the yeast too early (at about 15°C).. This mistake inevitably impacted the beer.

Wort trickling into the fermenter

Once the wort was transferred and yeast pitched, I sealed the unit and added the airlock. Before long the yeast that hadn’t needlesy died of hypothermia started munching on the sugars creating alcohol and causing the airlock to gently bubble reasonably frequently. The sound of the yeast ‘farting’ was a source of entertainment for a couple of days.

The wort is left to ferment and turn into beer over the next 7-10 days, or whenever two identical gravity readings are taken over the space of two consecutive days. Every 2-3 days I needed to perform a yeast dump, which is to slowly .. dump dead yeast from a valve at the bottom of the fermenter.. I wish I had paid more attention to the word slowly before engaging in this process.

7 days passed and I had very static gravity readings, not anywhere near target but consistent.. in fact I had them after 4 days but didn’t want to give up hope so waited the week. Hops were added, a failed attempt at whirlpooling occurred and the fermenter was re-sealed for 4 days.

So, to summarise my mistakes in this stage:

  1. Over-cooled the wort - recoverable, but…
  2. Pitched the yeast before the wort recovered to a target temperature - killing some yeast and leading to a higher final gravity and lower ABV beer.
  3. Rapidly dumped yeast, losing a fair amount of wort in the process.

Lessons learned: Breathe and take your time.

For reference the following were my volume and gravity targets and final gravity (FG) results:

  • Desired Volume: 11L
  • Actual Volume: ~11L (woohoo!)
  • Desired OG: 1.061
  • Actual OG: 1.059 - That seems pretty close to me
  • Desired FG: 1.012
  • Actual FG: 1.027 - Ah FFG! Missed by a whack but I think it’s explained by the mistakes I made.
  • Desired ABV: 6.5%
  • Actual ABV: ~4%

Stage 7: Kegging & Carbonising

After 4 days of hops steeping in the fermented beer it was time to transfer this nectar into one or many receptacles.. I opted for a keg because it’s simpler albeit more expensive. I also, as a bartender of almost two decades, really, REALLY wanted to have draft beer on tap at home.

Panic set in a little here as I had read so many different carbonation methods, some ‘natural’ ones involving the introduction of brewing sugar and storing at room temperature for weeks and some rapid ‘forced’ carbonisation using CO2 at high pressures in order to produce carbonated beer on tap within 4 hours. I am by nature a very patient man but I forgot to buy sugar so.. I opted to carbonate the beer using CO2.

The option I eventually settled on actually came from the grainfather manual and involved pressuring a keg at 30PSI for 2 days in the fridge, reducing this to 10-12 PSI for 1 day in the fridge, then reducing this to 8-10PSI and hooking the beer outlet pipe up to the tap.. then after 4 hours.. DRINK!!

So I followed the instructions and sampled the beer after the suggested duration.. it poured like a dream! The head retention was phenomenal.. but sadly the beer itself was a shade flat. It occurred to me pretty swiftly that this was due to the lower volume of beer in the keg.. so I disconnected, upped the PSI to 30 again for another day, reduced to 10-12 PSI for half a day then hooked the beer up.. BINGO!

However, I have noticed that I do have a very slight CO2 leak. I think I know why, I don’t think the keg is sealed as well as it could be. I’m going to try and focus on this a bit more with the next brew but honestly, I think it will take some practice before the leakage is eliminated.

Stage 8: Drinking

So, was it all worth it in the end? Hell to the yes!

It’s a baby beer!

I have never drank this particular beer before and so I don’t have a direct comparison.. It is however, despite its flaws, drinkable and even quite enjoyable! Even more so after a few days of settling.

There are improvements that I think could be made and reached primarily by resolving the mistakes above but also I could have used irish moss to clarify the beer if the haziness was of concern (it wasn’t) and this will be a consideration going forward.

My next brew day is tomorrow and all of my equipment has already been cleaned, I will sanitise as I go. Whilst I had hoped to use the same beer kit in a larger volume the brew store didn’t have it, so I’ve gone with their limited addition NEIPA (New England IPA) which I am very much looking forward to.

The journey continues!

Note: The image at the top of the post is a photo of a selection of beers from Fierce Brewing in my beer fridge. They are one of a number of breweries who have inspired me to this point.

Tasting Notes - Op & Top

Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 1-minute read
Name (名前) Brewery (醸造所) Country (国) Type (種類) ABV % (アルコール度数) IBU (アイビーユー) 
Op & Top Brouwerij De Molen Netherlands English Bitter 4.5 38

This was the first of a short-lived effort at cataloging my tasting notes using paper and pencil. It was also my first attempt at recording my thoughts about the pour, nose and taste of beer. I’m hoping that with more experience, I’ll be a shade more creative going forwards!


Disclaimer: I’m not an artist and there will be some shockingly poor logo sketches in this series! I just wanted to mention this before someone else did!

Brewshido - A beer journal - Intro

Blog: Brewshido
Categories: 3-minute read

Some time ago, I made the decision that at some future point in my life I want to be a craft beer brewer. For reasons this has not yet transpired but the dream still remains and recent plans to relocate to rural Japan in 4 years time provide potential opportunity for the wheels to be put in motion.


My only experience thus far of brewing was when a few years ago, a friend invited myself and a few others to the Stewart Brewing Craft Beer Kitchen where under the guidance of a resident brewer we had a fairly decent go at making a milk stout. The day in the brew kitchen was excellent and really encouraged me to learn more about the process.

今までにビールを作ったことが一度だけあります。その時は友達と一緒にStewart Brewing Craft Beer Kitchen(スチュワート・ブルーイング・クラフトビール・キッチン)でビール醸造者からミルクスタウトの作り方を学びました。それはとても面白い経験だったので、ビールの作り方についてもっと学ぶように励まされました。

As it stands, in a room which was formerly a garage but hasn’t quite finished it’s conversion into anything resembling suitable, sits a Grainfather All Grain Brewing System along with a conical fermenter, a large urn and various other brewing paraphernalia. All as of yet, still boxed and awaiting their inaugural run. I have a few other pieces to “invest” in before I’m ready to start brewing but the main barrier has been the unfinished room.. which will hopefully be finished soon.


I’ve been a member of the Beer52 craft beer club since a month after its inception (I think) and have sampled many craft beers from around the planet and each month I learn a little more. I initially started a paper journal, just recording the hop choices and tasting notes for the beers I was getting delivered, however that soon became tiresome and primarily delayed the drinking of the beer so I stopped. I still have a lot of learning to do and am hoping that recording my drinking and eventually brewing experiences will help me in this process.


Some reading materials

So, the purpose of this blog will be primarily self-education and note-taking but I hope that it provides some interesting reading for fellow enthusiastsuasts who like myself don’t necessarily have all the jargon knowledge of more seasoned professionals.


I’m categorising this journal under brewshido.. Bushido is the Japanese term for “way of the warrior” and I previously had a blog called bushidodreams (which can be found on this site).. so I’m coining the term brewshido to mean the way of the brewer.

I acknowledge that neither my brewing nor my Japanese language knowledge are of a sufficient level to warrant the brashness of coining a new word in my second language but it is what it is!


Defunct Blogs - A Memorandum

Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 4-minute read

Bushido Dreams

A logo I made in my parent’s house, whilst incredibly bored awaiting my year in Okayama to begin.

Bushido Dreams Logo

Bushido Dreams was my first real blog, the first which actually attracted readers (albeit in small numbers) from all around the world.

I started it in advance of moving to Japan for the exchange year of my Japanese undergraduate degree. I was a mature student, starting the degree at 30 years old and it gave me a chance to write a little about my experiences, practice some Japanese and as it turns out gain the attention of an amateur photographer in Okayama who would offer me a loan of the camera I had hoped to buy before the trip! (which I lost along with an iPhone I had won, one drunken day in Yoyogi park in Tokyo).

Unfortunately due to a database corruption I lost a lot of the blog posts (including ALL of the Japanese ones) and what remains has been imported into this site from the soon to be retired

Kilted Scot

When the .scot TLD went live I went a little crazy and booked a handful of domains, primarily for my own future use but also with a thought that maybe, just maybe someone might be interested in purchasing one from me.. it almost happened too with a domain I’m also about to give up ( when I was approached by a craft brewery in the Borders of Scotland.. I was keen to do a deal, maybe for a case of beer or something like that.. but I never heard back from them..

Anyway, I decided that seemed fitting for the home of my journal recording my experience of learning Gaelic (or Gàidhlig) and so started an unfortunately short-lived and infrequently updated blog. Sadly, after a very interesting first year of night classes the second year moved to a day of the week which was at the time impossible for me to attend and as such, the blog ceased to be.

Kilted Scot Logo

I only managed 16 blog posts (actually a couple more that I didn’t think needed importing to here) but this turned out to be a really good educational tool for me, I re-realised that an important process in language learning is regurgitation of what you’ve learned and whilst I wasn’t able to speak to anyone at home or in my social circles in Gàidhlig, the blog gave me a way of committing what I’d learned to memory.

Farewell - you served me well.

Sovereign Scot

This was another .scot domain that I booked early without any real notion of how to use it.. but then my political awakening happened in around 2011 when the SNP were elected by majority, breaking the system and we knew an independence referendum was on the cards.

Sovereign Scot Logo

In the build up to the independence referendum an abundance of excellent digital resources popped up in order to inform the populace on our choices, however due largely to disparagement from the “Scottish” media many of the sources were deemed untrustworthy through the eyes of an unsure and confused majority. I had briefly thought that in my social circles (which were already largely YES confirmed or heavily leaning) that I might be able to help some NO-leaning or undecided friends to vote YES if I researched and presented my research in my words on a blog, intended purely for the audience of my own social circles.

As it transpires, I spent most of my time researching and not enough time presenting and when I did share or post on Facebook, it seemed (surprisingly) that no-one was seeing or acknowledging my posts.. (I suspected foul play at a very early stage - fucking algorithms!).. A mixture of lack of spare time, rescusitating Bushido Dreams and creating Kilted Scot, a concern about over-sharing of my blog to folks outwith my social circle and a lack of confidence in myself, that I was presenting something that hadn’t been said more succinctly than others.. all contributed to the site never really being populated or published.. but for posterity, I’ve imported those posts to this blog.

The lights were never switched on for

Going Forward

I intend to transfer this blog into a self-hosted federated blogging site at some point in the future, when I’m happy with the progress and suitability of the available options. In the meantime I hope to semi-frequently compose new posts covering a wider range of topics than the three blogs above. There is a fairly good chance given our desire to move to rural Japan in the future that the ethos of Bushido Dreams will spill into nipponalba, but otherwise I’ll likely post about all manner of diverse topics and hope some of you will find them interesting!

The Fediverse

Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 6-minute read

Back in April last year I posted a long update on facebook describing my rookie understanding of distributed and federated networks and my opinions on the options that I had tried at the time. Of course, chances are no-one actually saw the post due to Facebook’s algorithms but there we are, the original post has been reproduced here .

Since then I’ve built and destroyed multiple instances of various flavours of federated social media:

In addition I’ve built a nextcloud server and an xmpp server, as well as self-hosting all of my email accounts.

There are other types of federated services such as Prismo and GetTogether that I haven’t even had a chance to properly explore and I am perpetually on the lookout for a federated photo album application which can replace my koken photo website (even briefly considered writing it myself!).

Why bother doing any of this, when most of the services are already provided by Google, Facebook or Twitter?


I am done with being harvested for marketing data or for national election\referenda manipulation.. I don’t want an algorithm to decide what content (that has been shared with me) I am or am not permitted to see.. I am sick and tired of opening an app on my phone and being presented with ads for products and services that the app should not know are suitable (or not) for me.. and I don’t want my daughter and any future kids to be no more than a cog in a data machine, inadvertently being harvested by corrupt mega corporations for profit or indeed, worse.

As such, I’ve decided to provide alternative services for those of my family and close friends who wish to use them as privacy focussed, decentralised alternatives. It may well be that they have little to no interest and that’s fine, but should they be curious or change their mind then I have their back - and if they don’t trust me with their data more than they do Facebook then, I will happily help them set up their own self-hosted services.

So why have I chosen the services I am currently hosting?

  1. They are privacy and security focused by default and being self-hosted, hardened where possible by myself.
  2. They are federated services built on the ActivityPub protocol. This means that the different sites speak the same language and therefore can communicate with each other despite providing different services. So a pleroma user can follow a friendica user or a mastodon user, a pixelfed user or a writefreely user etc.
  3. They are distributed services. Rather than being in one global corporations' data centre(s) the network is comprised of thousands of smaller, often self-hosted installations. This makes them less vulnerable to attacks, and much harder to censor.
  4. They are open-source applications. The source code is available for anyone to verify it, report bugs/flaws and strengthen the application on a community basis.
  5. They can be self-hosted, which means I am in complete control of my content.
  6. They are free - though buying the developers, moderators, hosts and contributors a coffee would be appreciated.
  7. There are no ads, no algorithms and complete transparency.

The services which I currently host

  1. Pleroma - this is my main social media site, it is a micro-blogging site (think twitter) with several front end options. It is light enough to run on a raspberry pi on a home network (mine now runs on a RockPro64 from Pine64 alongside my matrix and xmpp servers). The devs are very approachable and are very active.
  2. Pixelfed - an instagram replacement, it is still under development though basically functional, the next beta update (due very soon) should bring a lot more functionality and the following update will bring instagram & tumblr import functionality. I wrote a bit more about why I like pixelfed here .
  3. Matrix - It can provide audio, video and text chat as well as conferencing.. rooms can be bridged to other services such as RSS feeds, IRC etc. It could be a replacement for WhatsApp, LINE and Telegram but has a little more work to do for multi-user encryption.
  4. XMPP - A simple enough FB messenger replacement, a chat service with file sharing capabilities, fully end-to-end encrypted.
  5. Nextcloud - this is a home cloud system with a huge amount of customisation and applications including text, audio, video chat, social media (via ActivityPub ), distributed filesharing and collaboration, phone tracking, email client, phone backups, rss reader, calendar, audio player etc. This is just for us in our house but potentially in the future I may re-create a shared talk/social media nextcloud server with limited storage quotas.
  6. Funkwhale - a music site soon to be podcast capable. I host my music collection here privately so that I can lien remotely (replaces spotify for me). It can be used to host and share creative commons music but I’m a novice in finding CC music (that I like) so I haven’t yet explored this.

The website has a lot more information about different alternatives to centralised srvices, written in plain, non-techy language, however here are some of the main alternatives (disclaimer: in various states of active development)

Good Guys Wank
pleroma, mastodon, zap, friendica, diaspora facebook, twitter
pixelfed instagram
peertube youtube
writefreely, plume medium, blogger
nextcloud dropbox, google drive, onedrive, box
xmpp, matrix messenger, whatsapp, LINE, telegram

I recently saw a post via pleroma:

Friend: Are you OK? You haven’t posted on Instagram in ages

Me: I quit FB, Instagram, and Twitter.

Friend: Why’d you quit the internet?

Me: Actually I’ve rejoined the Internet.

This about sums it up for me, I’ve left the data harvesting silos but I’ve re-joined the internet.

One common observation of those on “the fediverse” is that everyone is much friendlier.. that’s because we’re not being manipulated, our timelines are not manufactured and we’re able to have genuine discourse with humans free of corporate interference. There are still asshats and bots but you have the ability to curate your own timeline and have the support of an admin who cares about his instance who will assist if required.. and if you don’t feel that your admin has your back.. then you can just move to another instance or make your own.

As a side note: I have also replaced Google’s android on my phone with LineageOS without any google services and have deleted my google, facebook (including whatsapp & instagram) and twitter accounts. In April, I’ll hopefully take delivery of a Purism Librem 5 phone which is built on a security and privacy focused linux distribution and not android at all.

Edited (February 5, 2020) to update currently hosted apps and mention I’m ill waiting for the fucking Librem 5 phone..

Edited (April 23, 2020) to update currently hosted apps and mention that Purism are on rocky ground, if I don’t get some sort of update about my Librem 5 phone soon then I’ll be requesting a refund and opting for a PinePhone.

Distributed or Federated Social Network

Blog: Whitabootery
Categories: 2-minute read

EDIT: This was written in the early-ish days of my federated social network exploration and posted to facebook, some of the opinions are out of date and a newer, related articled can be found here .

These are decentralised, open source, social networks which are interoperable (they all talk to one another). There is no advertising, no data-mining, no central ownership, but also no censorship. The don’t insist you sign up with your full name and indeed recommend you not doing so.

There are a number of different networks available with the most popular currently being Mastodon, Diaspora*, Hubzilla, Friendica etc. Each flavour offers slightly different services\functions such as chat, RSS feeds, photo albums, interactions with other social networks etc.

However, they are not owned by corporations and as such are generally not as feature-rich as those centralised, closed-source social networks such as facebook, google+ and twitter etc.

Each has a learning curve though not unsurmountable, I’d imagine pretty easy to overcome if you join one of the bigger population public servers. I’ve set up my own server so it was a slightly more complex process for me.

I tried diaspora*, friendica and briefly mastodon..

I loved the simplicity of diaspora* but it lacked some functionality that I was looking for (such as photo albums).

Mastodon is very twitter like and the server that I joined was overwhelmingly full of Japanese anime otaku so it wasn’t a great experience. So I don’t have much info to share on that one.

So I have settled (I think) on Friendica, it has an integrated RSS feed so I can see news articles etc. that I was accustomed to seeing in FB. It can integrate with other non-federated social networks. You can have multiple profiles, so for example a work profile and one for more personal relationships. I’ve integrated a FB like chat. The bigger public servers will have these features and more.

Friendica also has the greatest connectivity to other networks with in the two entities that are the federation and the fediverse (free network link below)

More info:

A quick guide to the free network

Popular public sites for diaspora*, friendica and mastodon:




Freagair - Lesson 2 (Term 3)

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 4-minute read

Hàlo! Wow, I haven’t updated this blog since November last year! Apologies to anyone who visits but life got in the way as it so often does.

Anyhow, I am still studying Gàidhlig and whilst my attendance for term 2 was unfortunately only about 40-50% I’m still holding my own :)

At this stage there is a similar pattern to my Gaelic studying experience as there was (is) to my Japanese experience and in both I think that patchy attendance is most likely the cause.. that is that I am managing to understand the grammar concepts, I can read and write (obviously with many dictionary references) and I’m slowly getting my tongue around some of the pronunciation.. but my comprehension of spoken Gaelic is still very weak.

Hopefully I’ll manage a sustained run of attendance to classes this term and start to improve upon this (2/2 so far!).

So, I thought I’d share my homework for this week whilst I work on it. We are learning about past tense and present tense verb conjugation/construction and in class we answered the following Ceistean with positive responses, the homework is to construct the negative responses to the questions.

I missed the class in term two where this was discussed and as such don’t have explanatory handout so will have to actually work through this one on my tenuous understanding of the grammar rules.

Ceistean “yes” “no” Question
A bheil thu tinn? Tha mi tinn. Chan eil mi tinn. Are you ill?
A bheil thu a’ dol don chèilidh? Tha mi a’ dol don chèilidh. Chan eil mi a’ dol don chèilidh. Are you going to the ceilidh?
An robh thu aig a’ bhùth an-dè? Bha mi aig a’ bhùth an-dè. Cha robh aig a’ bhùth an-dè. Were you at the shop yesterday?
An robh thu aig a’ cheilidh a-raoir? Bha mi aig a’ cheilidh a-raoir. Cha robh aig a’ cheilidh a-raoir. Were you at the ceilidh last night?
Am bi thu a’ tighinn an seo tric? Bidh mi a’ tighinn an seo tric? Cha bhi mi a’ tighinn an seo tric? Do you come here often?
An e saor a th’annad? ‘Se saor a th’annam. Chan e saor a th’annam. Are you a joiner?
An e poileas a th’annad? ‘Se poileas a th’annam. Chan e poileas a th’annam. Are you a police officer?
An toil leat cofaidh? ‘S toil leam cofaidh. Cha toil leam cofaidh. Do you like coffee?
An toil leat iasg? ‘S toil leam iasg. Cha toil leam iasg. Do you like fish?
An do dh’ òl thu an tì? Dh’ òl mi an tì. Cha do dh’ ol mi an tì. Did you drink the tea?
An do dh’ ith thu an fheòil? Dh’ ith mi an fheòil. Cha do dh’ ith mi an fheòil. Did you eat the meat?
An do chuir thu ort do chòta? Chuiridh mi orm mo chòta. Cha do chuiridh mi orm mo chòta. Did wear your coat?
An ith thu iasg? Ithidh mi iasg. Chan ithidh mi iasg. Will you eat fish?
An suidh thu ri taobh Iain? Suidhidh mi ri taobh Iain. Cha suidhidh mi ri taobh Iain. Will you sit beside Iain?
An dèan thu cofaidh?* Ni mi cofaidh. Cha dèan mi cofaidh. Will you make coffee?
An do rinn thu cèic?* Rinn mi cèic. Cha d’ rinn mi cèic. Did you make cake?
An toil leat snàmh? ‘S toil leam snàmh. Cha toil leam sn’amh Do you like swimming?

* dèan is one of ten irregular verbs in Gaelic and doesn’t follow the regular conjugation rules, in this case the past tense form of dèan is rinn and the future tense positive form ni.

Questions in Gaelic appear to frequently be about coffee and cake (possibly more reflective of our tutor) and as I don’t like, make or eat either my, conversations tend to be somewhat shorter than the rest of the classes :).

TTIP – MP response to NHS Bill request

Blog: Sovereign Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

I contacted my constituency MP, Mark Lazarowicz to ask him to participate in the NHS Bill debate and vote today and to vote in favour of the bill, as detailed here.

I received a very prompt reply from Mr Lazarowicz, which was as follows:

Thank you for writing to me regarding the NHS (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill which will be debated in the House of Commons on 21 November. I will be there to support and vote for the Bill.

Along with my Labour colleagues, I am a strong defender of our NHS and this Bill if passed will provide important protections against its privatisation. This aspect of the Bill will not apply directly to Scotland, as the Scottish Parliament and Government have full powers over the NHS in Scotland, but I certainly do not want the NHS to be privatised anywhere else in the UK either.

The Bill also provides important protections against the proposed EU-USA trade treaty (TTIP) leading to the NHS anywhere in the UK being forced to allow private health companies to bid and take over NHS activities. For that reason also I believe the Bill is important and will have my support.

More generally, I can tell you that Labour’s view is that the EU should not agree to the TTIP treaty unless it specifically excludes public health services and other vital public services.

I hope this will reassure as to my position on this issue, and I am grateful to you for taking the time to send me your views.


Mark Lazarowicz

MP for Edinburgh North and Leith

The first point of interest is that Mr Lazarowicz will indeed be attending to support and vote for the Bill, which is good news, I hope he is in the majority of attendees.

The second paragraph is interesting and I am certainly aware that many within Labour do indeed support the NHS, but it is also worth pointing out that some of the words read hollow when it was New Labour who started the NHS privatisation ball rolling .

Mr Lazarowicz also mentions that the aspect of the bill relating to protections against its privatisation will not apply directly to Scotland and this is indeed true. However, it would have indirect implications on Scotland as currently the Scottish Government’s block grant (Barnett consequentials) from Westminister is calculated using the Barnett Formula which is directly linked to spending on public services in England, so the more the NHS is privatised, the less the Barnett consequentials become as a direct consequence.

I am warmed by Mr Lazarowicz’s third paragraph and it reflects the viewpoint that I was hoping for and though I hesitate to unconditionally accept that the position described in paragraph four is an accurate reflection of his party, if this is indeed the case then I am glad to see they have managed to dig up a shred of integrity from somewhere.

I am reassured Mark and I thank you for your response!

TTIP – MP request to vote for NHS exemption

Blog: Sovereign Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a bilateral trade treaty which is being negotiated currently between the US and EU. The purpose is to allow America access to the EU single market and allow American companies to compete for private contracts whilst also enabling American companies to sue EU member country governments.

As Lee Williams explained it in The Independent, “TTIP is about reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business, things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations.”

This is not a good situation, however it is made exponentially worse by the current lack of exemption for privatised or part-privatised services such as the NHS. So far as I understand it, each member state has the right to one veto, that they can use to remove a fundamental service from the grasp of big American commerce. In our case, there is pressure on the UK government to remove the NHS from the agreement which despite the wishes of the Conservative party to sell it of bit by bit has resulted in a bill being put to the vote today.

Whilst the NHS in Scotland is and has always been independent of the NHS in England, the rules of TTIP apply at member state level and so there would be no exemption for the Scottish NHS should this bill not pass. That means that regardless of how much the people and ministers of Scotland treasure a ‘free at the point of need’ NHS, contracts would legally have to be put up to tender to private companies. If this didn’t happen then these companies could sue the Scottish or UK governments for substantial vats of cash.

As such, I have sent another email (typed up by the lovely people at 38 Degrees ) to my local MP, Mark Lazarowicz (Scottish Labour) asking him to vote in favour of the NHS Bill.

Here is the text that I sent him:

Dear Mark Lazarowicz (cc Iain McGill)

I’m writing to ask you to go to Friday’s debate on the NHS, and vote in favour of the National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.

Please can you tell me whether you plan to attend the debate, and how you’ll vote?

As my MP, I’d like you to support this Bill because I think this is a vital opportunity to protect the NHS from privatisation. By scrapping the worst parts of the Health and Social Care Act, it would make sure that our health service puts patients’ needs before profit. It’d also protect the NHS from the threat of the dangerous TTIP trade deal.

Where the other candidates in my constituency have been announced, I’ve copied them into this email. The NHS is an important election issue for me, and I’d like to understand where each candidate stands.

I look forward to hearing from you

I will post his response in a follow up

Full Lee Williams Article

え ず い Exploring Tosa-ben 4

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

Following on from Tosa-ben Card Game (龍馬・土佐弁かるた) I thought it may be interesting for some people if I were to do a series of short posts relating to the vocabulary that I learn from the game.

Even if not, I’m learning that maintaining a Gaelic blog is helping me learn the language so hopefully this will help me with Tosa-ben.

Fourth in the series is えずい which is pronounced ezui, the meaning is ‘cruel, awful or atrocious’.

The common Japanese equivalent for えずい in normal use is probably ひどい(hidoi) but the example on the card uses むごたらしい(mugotarashii) which conveys a meaning more like ‘incredibly brutal, gory or gruesome’.

The example sentence on the card is:


えずいことよのー  __はんぺいた__は  __とうごく__の__あ__げ__く せっぷく__の__ごさた__じゃと

ezui koto yono- hanpeita wa tougoku no ageku seppuku no gosata ja to

共通語:むごたらしいね (武市)半平太は 投獄された挙げ句に 切腹を申しつけられたそうだ

むごたらしいね (たけち)__はんぺいた__は __とうごく__された__あ__げ__く__に __せっぷく__を__もう__しつけられたそうだ

common Japanese: mugotarashii ne (Takechi)Hanpeita wa tougokusareta agekuni seppuku wo moushitsukerareta sou da

Now for the part of the post which is likely to go through various transformations as I’m corrected by my はちきん(hachikin) wife or family and friends from Kochi!

English : It’s gruesome, its seems that at the end of his imprisonment Takechi Hanpeita was instructed to commit seppuku (suicide by disemboweling).

*Takechi Hanpeita was a major proponent of 大政奉還 (たいせいほうかんtaisei houkan) and associate of Sakamoto Ryoma, he wished for the Tosa domain to be a major player in returning control of the country to the Emperor. Whilst later playing that major role, the feudal lord Yamauchi Yōdō imprisoned Hanpeita and eventually instructed him to commit suicide, though this may seem cruel, to Samurai it was a way of dying with honour.

So, now to the rest of the sentence and a look at other Tosa-ben (if any) at play in this example.

  • よのー (yo no-)– I’ve not seen this form before but it seems to be loosely equivalent to ね but perhaps with a little additional emphasis.
  • じゃと (ja to) – only the じゃ is strictly Tosa-ben and it is the Tosa form of the copula です (desu) the と indicates that the action (seppuku) was the result of instruction.

Tha mi trang gach latha! – Notes on Lesson 8

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 5-minute read

This was a tough week, I missed a lot having been absent from class for a fortnight but even for those who had been in attendance previously this was a tough week.

In this week’s notes I am going to type out the reading for our homework assignment in whole and will underline points of interest for discussion afterwards.

If you’ve read my previous posts you will probably understand the reaction of shock and awe that I experienced when I opened the document, with my handy abaìr! dictionary in tow though I went to work translating it.

I made a number of mistakes but I’ll try and explain why as I go along. I’m not going to provide a translation for the whole piece (because I’m a bit evil) as no-one wants to read a blog post of that length!

Is mise Ann agus tha mi à Leodhas ach a’fuireach ann am Musselburgh. Tha flat ùr agam an sin agus tha e bun os cionn an drasda! Rugadh agus thogadh mi ann an Garrabost ann an Leodhas. Cha robh ach timcheall air fichead taigh ann nuair a bha mi òg.

Bha mi a’fuireach ann an taigh criot comhla rì m’athair, mo mhàthair, agus dithis pheathraichean. ‘Se Alison agus Doreen a th’orra. Tha iadsan a’fuireach ann an Leodhas fhathast, agus tha Alison a’fuireach ann an Garrabost fhathast! Tha iad posda agus tha nighean aig Doreen agus dithis nighean aig Alison – chan eil balaich idir anns an teaghlach – tha dithis nighean agamsa cuideachd!

Nuair a bha mi seachd deug bha mi a’dol gu Obar Dheathain gu an Oiltigh… ach, obh, obh ‘s beag orm Obar Dheathain!! Bha mi a’dol dhachaidh an dèidh trì seachdainean!

Aig ochd deug bha mi a’dol gu Glaschu agus ‘s mòr orm Glaschu! Tha mo nighean, Rebecca a nis a’fuireach ann an Glaschu!

Tha m’athair a nis ceithir fichead ‘sa còig agus mo mhàthair tri fichead ‘sa còig deug. Bidh iad trang gach latha agus tha iad gu math! Bidh mi a’dol gu Leodhas anns an Dubhlachd airson ceilidh air an teaghlach!

Nueair a bha mo chlann nighean òg bha iad toilichte ann an Leodhas ag obair air an criot comhla rì m’athair!

Tha aon nighean agam a’fuireach ann am Musselburgh agus an nighean eile ann an Glaschu!

This is the story of Ann’s family and there are a few tricky phrases in there if you haven’t heard them explained or had any context supplied.

For example, when I tried to translate ‘s beag orm and ‘s mòr orm all I knew was that beag means ‘small’ and mòr means ‘big’ so since they were in relation to places (Aberdeen and Glasgow) I figured that they would perhaps relate to either the size of the city or the duration of time there.. so I guessed at either ‘Aberdeen is too small’ or ‘I stayed in Aberdeen briefly’ and the opposite for Glasgow.

I was mistaken, though in fairness I wasn’t far off. As it happens ‘s beag orm is a colloqualism meaning ‘I hate it’ and conversely ‘s mòr orm means ‘I love it’ so Ann hates Aberdeen and loves Glasgow. Not sure what there is to hate about Aberdeen but then I only lived there for seven years not the three weeks that Ann managed :P.

Another clause I found interesting and I think would have struggled to translate if I wasn’t Scottish is chan eil ach which means (in this context) ‘There wasn’t but (20 houses when I lived there)’ this is perhaps seldom used nowadays but is a standard Scottish turn of phrase.

Otherwise the rest of the underlined words are just new vocabulary:

Gàidhlig English
an sin / ann there
an drasda now (with immediacy as in ‘right now, this moment’)
a nis now (more general, as in ‘these days’)
nuair when
_fhathast*_ still
comhla rì along with
_‘se … a th’orra**_ Their names are ..
trang gach latha lit: ‘busy every day’
Dubhlachd December (lit: The Black Month)
eile other

* We learned before that to ask someone their name you would say Cò thusa? which literally means ‘who are you?’ however there is an alternate way which means ‘what is your name?’ and this is dè an t-ainm a th’ort? The response to this question is ‘se <name> (an t-ainm) a tha orm (abbreviated to a th’orm). The form of orm is changed dependant on the personal pronoun, so in this case th’orra is used for ‘they’.

** I find the pronunciation of this word fairly amusing, it is a good example of how complicated Gaelic spelling can be compared to its pronunciation, though often the reverse is true too. Fhathast is basically pronounced ‘haast’ as the ‘f’ isn’t pronounced when lenited and ‘th’ is also not pronounced mid-word.

We also touched upon dithis again which is the counter for two people and just like it’s relative (two) it’s a fickle creature. Dithis means ‘twosome’ which is a noun and therefore when followed by a second noun (as it always would be) the second noun doesn’t take a plural. This is due to the second noun taking the genitive case and reverting back to the singular form. That’s what I wrote down, I do not claim to understand it!

Finally, when talking about a dead person in Gaelic, much like other languages such as Japanese you generally aren’t as direct as referring to them as dead. Rather you tend to say they are not alive, chan eil iad beò. Alternatively, if you are prone to religion you might use caochail which means expired (specifically relating to people). If you are talking about animals or plants you would use marbh.

Dè an t-ainm a th-ort? – Lesson 8

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 4-minute read

As I was being a good citizen and attending jury duty in high court and that case being of a mentally and emotionally draining nature, I missed week’s 6 and 7 and as such we’re jumping straight into week 8 and all of the joyful complexities that it contained!

This week’s lesson was focussed around a homework piece which the class had discussed during the previous week’s lesson and been utterly confused. I was sent the piece to attempt as homework however, without any of the context they had discussed and boy did I make a lot of mistakes!

I’ll discuss the homework in my follow up notes article and it as it related to family and counters for people I’ll write about that here. I presume that this was the content of much of week 7 and possibly even week 6 anyway so it will bridge the lesson gap somewhat for me.

An teaghlach – The Family

The crux of the lesson was on the use of different possessive pronouns and how they change the reference to members of a family, but first a vocabulary list of said family members:

Gàidhlig English
Màthair Mother
Màthair-chèile Mother-in-law
Athair Father
Athair-cèile Father-in-law
Bràthair / Braithrean Brother / Brothers
Brathair-cèile Brother-in-law
Piuthar / Peathraichean Sister / Sisters
Piuthar-chèile Sister-in-law
Seanmhair Grandmother
Seanair Grandfather
Antaidh Auntie
Uncail Uncle
Mac Son
Balach / Gille / Balaich Boy / Boy / Boys
Caileag Girl
Pàisde Child
Leanabh Baby
Nighean / Clann Nighean Daughter / Daughters
Bantrach Widow / Widower

Note that with regards to the in-laws, male family members don’t lenite cèile but female family members do lenite chèile.

This is relatively simple, well pronunciation aside at least.

Next we’ll look at the different personal pronouns:

Gàidhlig English
mo my
do your
a his
a her
ar our
ur your (pl)
an their

Immediately you should spot an issue, the pronouns for both his and her are the same! However, possessive pronouns mo (my) do (your) and a (his) are followed by lenition. All others are not, thus allowing us to distinguish between a masculine and a feminine pronoun.

Gàidhlig English
mo mhàthair my mother
do mhàthair your mother
a mhàthair his mother
a màthair her mother

In the case of Athair (father) the pronoun is abbreviated as the word starts with a vowel so mo athair becomes m’athair, do athair becomes d’athair etc. In order to avoid confusion between his and her father, her father becomes a h-àthair.

Next, let’s look at counters for people (only applied to people) which cover between two and ten people, I believe that any greater then you just use the normal number (happy to be corrected!).

Gàidhlig English
Dithis Two
Triùir Three
Ceathrar Four
Còignear Five
Sianar Six
Seachdnar Seven
Ochdnar Eight
Naoinear Naoi
Deichnear Ten

Finally, we looked over numbers again by way of a rest!

As mentioned before, Gaels count in units of twenty which isn’t overly tricky but tired minds find even the simplest tasks difficult so again this was a point of confusion.

On top of the numbers we previously heard we learned ceud (hundred), mìle (thousand) and millean (million), the first two being very familiar from the phrase ceud mìle fàilte meaning ‘a hundred thousand welcomes.’

We were told that you can either say numbers following an English style of just reading out the number as you see it.. so one hundred and fifty eight could be read as ceud dà fichead ‘sa ochd deug (one hundred two twenties and eighteen) or full-fat Gaelic which would be seachd fichead ‘sa ochd deug.

Reading years was slightly different as you read the first part as hundreds and the second as it is, so 1919 would be naoi deug ceud ‘sa naoi deug although that looks far simpler than the extensive discussion that was had around it in class.

As always, we finished with a song though thankfully we didn’t have to sing along as I would have objected to doing so. It was a Gaelic salm (psalm) and I would have been silent on the grounds of atheism.

However, unbeknownst to me this is a famous style of singing in Gaelic and would have been .. difficult.. for us to replicate.

This style of singing has a presenter sing the lyrics then the rest of the choir jump in to repeat, using whatever tune they fancy.

I’ll apologise now as it just sounds like a bunch of drunks trying to sing along at karaoke in an echo chamber as far as I’m concerned but each to their own :).

Salm 72

Tha eagal orm bho am fiaclair! – Notes on Lesson 5

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 2-minute read

Just for a matter of record, the title of this post tha eagal orm bho am fiaclair! means (hopefully) I am afraid of the dentist!.. I’m not but growing up on Lewis my tutor was as the dentist in question was a mobile dentist and he liked a drink.. so the later in the day you got to him, the more tipples he would have had and the scarier the experience became! :)

This won’t be a sizeable post as the majority of what we covered in lesson 5 was directly related to time and is covered in the full lesson post but there were a few vocabulary and grammar points that I noted during the class.

The Gaelic word for ‘and’ is agus as we all know, but once you start studying the language you’ll notice lots of abbreviations and in this case when you see ‘s in a sentence it is the shortened form for agus.

We’ve seen before when describing what we did that verbs, or more accurately verbal nouns, such as ag’ ol (to drink) or a’ sgrìobhadh (to write) are preceded by ag’ or a’ which unsurprisingly has an associated rule which thankfully in this case is very simple: if the verbal noun starts with a vowel you use ag’ and if it starts with a consonant you use a’.

Other than those few grammar points, we learned some more vocabulary:

Gàidhlig English
air as .. back ..
air as gu .. back to ..
ag aontachadh le .. agreeing with/at one with ..
crosda bad(ly behaved) or cross
bun sgoil primary school
ard sgoil high school
aig at
fiaclair dentist
tha eagal orm i’m afraid
tha eagal orm bho .. i’m afraid of ..

That’s all folks, short and sweet this week. Even shorter and sweeter for the next two weeks as I missed those classes due to jury duty!

Block Fracking in Scotland Response 5

Blog: Sovereign Scot
Categories: 4-minute read

My fifth reply from an MSP on the FoE Scotland Please support the call to block fracking in Scotland email comes from Scottish Conservative’s Gavin Brown.

Thank you for your recent email regarding fracking.

The Scottish Conservatives are dedicated to achieving a balanced energy mix to meet the country’s needs and we believe unconventional gas extraction has a significant role to play in this.

Whereas ten years ago the UK was a net exporter of gas, today it has to import 10 billion cubic metres per year. Our shale gas reserves could drive down domestic and industrial gas prices and help the country to be less at the mercy of volatile foreign markets and often unstable foreign governments.

I note that the UK government’s recent consultation generated a substantial degree of opposition, but the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) public opinion tracker provides a more accurate gauge of views with only 24% fully opposing fracking and half neither supporting nor opposing it as of August 2014.

The SNP Government’s recent criticism of Westminster’s approach to fracking and their call for additional powers to Scotland is no more than political posturing. Planning is already under the Scottish Government’s control and so fracking can only go ahead with their agreement. The licensing regime for unconventional gas extraction is, and will remain, rigorous requiring input from the DECC, Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), planning authorities and in some instances the Coal Authority.

I am aware of some local homeowners’ concerns about fracking under or near to their properties, in particular the proposed right to drill to depths of 300 metres under private land without negotiating a right of access has been contentious. However, gas, water and electricity companies already have similar rights and there is no evidence of any harm that would be caused by fracking if properly regulated.

Safety is a top priority for the Government and it is worth noting that the UK has over 50 years of experience in regulating the onshore oil and gas industry. This experience is critical in avoiding risks such as the contamination of water supplies.

Overall, I am confident that fracking will continue to be conducted safely, responsibly and with local interests in mind. I believe it will benefit the country in terms of energy security, economic growth and jobs creation.

Kind regards


So, a heartfelt reply from a the Tory MSP or a cut and paste standard response which is identical in content to Block Fracking in Scotland Response 3? The latter, of course the latter. It would however be hypocritical of me to make an issue of this as I did fill out a web form on the FoE Scotland website which sent the same standard text to each of the MPs and MSPs in my constituency.

It seems that the Conservatives think that local homeowners’ concerns relating to the drilling under their homes can be rested by the knowledge that gas, water and electricity companies already have their pipes and cables about 300m under the ground, so what’s the problem?

Might it be something to do with the compound of toxic chemicals to be pumped at high pressure into rocks beneath the houses (in order to crack the rocks to release gas)?

Might it be something to do with the risk of tremors and subsistence from cracking these rocks and therefore deteriorating the integrity of the ground below the houses?

Might it be the risk of contamination of not only the ground under these homes but the water supply which occupies the similar space below the homes?

It is however a matter of fact that SNP do control planning and therefore can halt any fracking in this country, however this is a devolved power which could easily be rolled back and what we need is a wholesalechange of attitude towards fracking. I would however implore any of the new SNP members to put pressure on your party to knock this on the head before the drills start whirring.

Anti-fracking response: 1 Pro-fracking responses: 4 sigh

Timcheal air dà uair dheug ‘n oidhche – Lesson 5

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

It has been a frenetic month and due to several disruptive weeks in court as a juror I not only missed some classes but also fell behind with blog updates. So somewhat tardily this is my round up of week 5’s lesson and you’ll notice some familiar shades from week 4’s post as we re-visited time, again.

It turns out that time and numbers in general are a bit of a head-scratcher for the wide-eyed beginner Gaelic student and due to considerable confusion during the previous week’s class (which I missed) we focussed largely on both topics again this week. (Note: I’m writing this 3 weeks after the class, so apologies if this merely adds to the confusion!).

An Uair – The Time

We went over time in my last lesson post so I’ll try to avoid any repetition, however I left off wondering how to tell the time when it was x amount of minutes past or to the hour (rather than half past, quarter to etc.) and I can give some examples of this now:

Gàidhlig English
còig uairean ‘sa mhadainn 5.00am
leth-uair an deidh sia 6:30pm
cairteal an deidh dhà ‘sa mhadainn 2:15am
cairteal gu aon uair ‘sa mhadainn 12:45am
cairteal an deidh trì uairean feasgar 3:15pm
aon uair deug ‘san oidhche 11:00pm
cairteal gu còig uairean ‘sa mhadainn 4:45am
trì mionadean an deidh còig ‘sa mhadainn 5:03am
fichead ‘sa dà mhionaid an deidh dà uair feasgar 2:22pm
deich mionaidean an deidh naoi ‘san oidhche 9:10pm
ceithir mionaidean deug an deidh ochd ‘sa mhadainn 8:14am

Sìmplidh, no? The main cause of confusion is down to the number two and the rules surrounding it in Gaelic. I’ll try to explain as best I can!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post is considered as one unit rather, it refers to a couple and therefore it doesn’t take a plural.

Additionally, if is followed by a vowel then it becomes the lenited dhà this is because vowels cannot be lenited.

There is apparently nothing that likes more than to lenite the following word but in the case of words starting with ‘sg’, ‘sm’, ‘sp’ or ‘st’ these cannot be lenited. Everything else is fair game it seems.

Another confusion is that if there is a noun following a ‘teen then the word order becomes curious. The noun in these cases would go between the defining number and the ‘teen itself, for example, dà mhoinaid dheug is 12 minutes (2 minute teen) and note the double lenition.. dagnammed !

Just like in English the word for ‘hour’ or ‘o’clock’ can be dropped except when it’s eleven or twelve o’clock, then uair must be included.

Got all that, seems relatively straight forward now that its written down, doesn’t it?

Additional notes relating to time is that ‘past’ or ‘after’ is an deidh and ‘to’ or ‘before’ is gu. The ‘sa and ‘san seen prior to mhadainn and oidhche are abbreviations of anns a’ and anns an both meaning ‘in the’.

If being specific about time is a little too complex (and it is!) then you can use either timchael air .. which means ‘approximately’ or faisg air.. which means ‘close to’ followed by the approximate time.

Time may seem like a simple topic but it took our class two weeks to sort of get our heads around it, partially of course as counting in Gaelic is new to us, partially because this is all new vocabulary but largely because for such a simple process there are several gotchas involved that completely undermine your confidence just when you think you have it nailed.

So for some light relief! This week’s song is Fear A’ Bhàta (The Boatman) which is a beautiful song with a eerily familiar tune which I can’t quite place. Enjoy!

Hirome Ichiba, Kōchi

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

Part market, part food-court, part-izakaya and a whole lot of awesome, this is Hirome Ichiba!

Situated close to the castle in downtown Kōchi lies one of my favourite spots in the city and perhaps even the country. Hirome Ichiba is an ecclectic mix of clothes and souvenir shops, fresh produce stalls, restaurants and drinking holes brought together to create one open plan house of fun!

The long wooden benches and tables make for a very welcoming and open environment and as a result if you visit you’ll end up meeting and conversing with a wide range of locals and travellers all out to have a good time and drink with strangers.

The last time we were at Hirome Ichiba was the day after our Japanese wedding and the atmosphere was excellent. We met up with friends and family for lunch and most of us ended up staying until closing time. We met a range of characters from an elderly local grandmother who greeted us with mild sexual assault before buying us souvenirs, a couple of friends who travelled to Kōchi just to visit Hirome Ichiba and a group of middle-aged golf enthusiasts who regaled me of tales of their trips to Scotland and their appreciation of our whisky!

On my few visits, amongst other dishes, I’ve eaten chicken sashimi, katsuo no tataki (of course), karaage, chanbara-kai (sword-fighting shellfish), whale and very reluctantly, Natto. I also had my first (and last) frozen headed Kirin beer there and have enjoyed several local sakes.

If you are planning on visiting Japan, then there are many reasons to visit Shikoku and Kōchi in particular, but Hirome Ichiba for me is one of the top reasons to visit, particularly if you time the visit to coincide with the Yosakoi festival.

A wee bit more info on Hirome Ichiba by ex-pat Kōchi resident Nate Hill can be found here .

Hirome Ichiba activity

Hirome Ichiba whale sake jug and cup

Hirome Ichiba chanbarakai

Hirome Ichiba kirin poster

Hirome Ichiba activity

Hirome Ichiba activity

うどみゆー – Exploring Tosa-ben 3

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 3-minute read

Following on from Tosa-ben Card Game (龍馬・土佐弁かるた) I thought it may be interesting for some people if I were to do a series of short posts relating to the vocabulary that I learn from the game.

Even if not, I’m learning that maintaining a Gaelic blog is helping me learn the language so hopefully this will help me with Tosa-ben.

Third in the series is うどみゆー which is pronounced udomiyuu, the meaning is ‘to be in uproar’ or ‘to be in a state of disturbance’. The ゆー at the end indicates that this is present tense progressive form so the meaning would be ‘is currently in a state of uproar/disturbance’.

The common Japanese equivalent for うどみゆー is 大騒ぎしている (__おおさわ__ぎしている – ohsawagi shiteiru).

The example sentence on the card is:

うどみゆーぜよ 国中が 龍馬がなぐれたとゆー 「大政奉還」で

うどみゆーぜよ __きにちゅう__が __りょうま__がなぐれたとゆー 「たいせいほうかん」で

udomiyuu zeyo kunichuu ga Ryouma ga nagureta to yuu “taisei houkan” de

共通語:大騒ぎしているよ 日本中が 龍馬が苦労したという 「大政奉還」で

__おおさわぎ__しているよ __にほんちゅう__が __りょうま__が__くろう__したという 「たいせいほうかん」で

common Japanese: ohsawagi shiteiru yo nihonchuu ga Ryouma ga kurou shita to iu “taisei houkan” de

Now for the part of the post which is likely to go through various transformations as I’m corrected by my はちきん(hachikin) wife or family and friends from Kochi!

English : Throughout the country people are talking about how Ryōma succeeded through the struggle to bring about “taisei houkan”.

*大政奉還 (たいせいほうかんtaisei houkan) was the restoration of power to the Emperor (from the military leaders who ruled Japan for hundreds of years until this point in time). Ryōma Sakamoto was the integral figure in effectively ending Tokugawa (the reigning military family) rule, unifying a newly self-aware Japan and opening Japan up to outside influence. Sadly, he was assassinated before his efforts finally came to fruition.

This card was pretty tricky for me to translate hence the clunky sentence in English.. If you can translate it more cleanly then please leave your suggestion below in the comments section.

So, now to the rest of the sentence and a look at other Tosa-ben (if any) at play in this example.

  • ぜよ (ze yo)– though I suspect this may be shared with other dialects, ぜよ is the Tosa-ben alternative to ですよ which is an emphasised copula, with ぜ being the copula and よ providing the emphasis.
  • とゆー (to yuu) – this is just a different pronunciation of the standard という which in this context means ‘to say’.
  • 国中 (kunichuu) – again I don’t believe that this is Tosa-ben but it is more likely to have been used at the period of time that the card and example represents as Japan wasn’t so much of a singular, unified entity at the time and most likely (in my humble opinion) it would have referred to the Tosa han (territory) rather than Japan itself.
  • なぐれた – this is the past potential form of なぐる which I’m told is old Tosa-ben and must be roughly equivalent to 苦労する which means ‘to succeed through a struggle’.. sort of 🙂

いらばかしよった – Exploring Tosa-ben 2

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

Following on from Tosa-ben Card Game (龍馬・土佐弁かるた) I thought it may be interesting for some people if I were to do a series of short posts relating to the vocabulary that I learn from the game.

Even if not, I’m learning that maintaining a Gaelic blog is helping me learn the language so hopefully this will help me with Tosa-ben.

Second in the series is いらばかしよった which is pronounced irabakashiyotta*, the meaning is ‘to show off’ or ‘to flaunt’ though this is in past tense progressive form so the meaning would be ‘was showing off’ or ‘was flaunting’.

  • the っ signifies a short pause in the pronunciation generally protrayed in English for pronunciation purposes as a double consonant.

よった (yotta) is the past tense of the Tosa-ben ゆう (yuu) which is one of two present tense continuous forms (the other is ちゅう (shichuu)), this differs from common Japanese where there is only one present tense continuous form and that is ~ている (~teiru).

The first ゆう represents present progressive tense, for example I am doing my homework now (not finished) would be おらは宿題しゆう (おらはしゅくだいしゆうora wa shukudai shiyuu).

Whereas ちゅう expresses perfect tense for example, I have already done my homework would be おらは宿題しちゅう (おらはしゅくだいしちゅうora wa shukudai shichuu). The past tense for ちゅう is ちょた.

Some verbs cannot be connected with ゆう but more information on this can be found on the Tosa Wave Blog.

The common Japanese equivalent for いらばかしよった is 見せびらかしていたよ (みせびらかしていたよmisebirakashiteita yo).

The example sentence on the card is:

いらばかしよった 龍馬さんが 晋作に もろーた 短筒を

いらばかしよった __りょうま__さんが __しんさく__に もろーた __たんづつ__を

irabakashiyotta Ryouma(Sakamoto)-san ga shinsaku ni morouta tandzutsu wo

共通語:見せびらかしていたよ 龍馬さんが (高杉)晋作に もらった拳銃を

__み__せびらかしていたよ __りょうま__さんが (たかすぎ)__しんさく__に もらった__けんじゅう__を

common Japanese: misebirakashiteita yo Ryouma(Sakamoto)-san ga Shinsaku(Takasugi) ni moratta kenshuu wo

Now for the part of the post which is likely to go through various transformations as I’m corrected by my はちきん (hachikin) wife or family and friends from Kochi!

English : Ryouma (Sakamoto) was showing off the handgun he received from Shinsaku (Takasugi)

The rest of the sentence is pretty easy to explore this time as it is basically consists of peoples’ names (Ryouma Sakamoto and Shinsaku Takasugi) and alternative vocabulary for a pistol/handgun.

  • もろーた would appear to just be Tosa dialect’s pronunciation of もらった which means to ‘receive’.

Leabhar-latha – Homework for Lesson 4

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 2-minute read

Whilst there will be no notes for last week’s class (due to me being absent) the tutor was kind enough to send me the homework task.

So this week I have to keep a diary in Gaelic for a week with at least two sentences in past tense.

Here goes! Hold on to your hats! With my beginner’s knowledge of Gaelic and my insomnia-ridden, work-driven dull week this promises to be a roller-coaster of a journey. Most likely a roller-coaster which is closed for maintenance.


Bha mi ag obair gu trang aig an taigh. Bha mi a’sgriobhadh am blog mu a’ Iapan. Chan robh mi anns an sgoil-Gàidhlig ‘san amnoch. Bha mi glè sgìth!

I worked hard from home. I wrote a blog post about Japan. I didn’t go to my Gaelic class in the evening. I was VERY tired.


Bha mi ag obair aig an taigh. Bha mi a’ sgrìobhadh am blog a’ Gàidhlig.

I worked from home. I wrote a Gaelic blog post.


Bha mi a’ snàmh anns a’ mhadainn. Bha mi anns an taigh-bìdh seapanais feasgar. Bha dinneir agus leanntan glè bhlasta. Bha mi toilichte.

I went swimming in the morning. In the evening I went to a Japanese restaurant. Dinner and beers were delicious. I was happy.

Là na Sàbaid

Bha mi a’ ceannach. Cheannaich mi bolgain (no bolganan), càl, feòil agus uinneanan. Bha mi ag obraich air làrach-lìn feasgar.

I went shopping. I bought lighbulbs (or (alternative plural) lightbulbs, cabbage, meat and onions. I worked on a website in the evening.


Bha mi ag obair aig an taigh (Tha mi obraich air do cheann fhéin). Chan robh mi cadal. Bha mi glè sgìth!

I worked from home (I am self-employed). I didn’t sleep. I was very tired.


Bha mi ag obair aig an taigh o leth uair as dèidh ceithir anns a’ mhadainn. Bha mi seachd sgìth.

I worked from home from half past four in the morning. I was extremely tired.


Cha robh mi ag obair. Bha mi a’ snàmh anns a’ mhadainn.

I wasn’t working. I went swimming in the morning.

There we go, as promised all of the excitement of a completely immobile roller coaster.

Kanazawa (金沢) 2006

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

On our travels around Japan in 2006, my friends and I decided to go somewhere which wasn’t in the usual Tōkyō -> Kyōto -> Kobe -> Ōsaka first time visitor path and somewhat randomly decided on Kanazawa.

In a previous incarnation, this blog had some of my photos from that trip with the disclaimer that somewhat foolishly when I backed them up to my ipod at the time I didn’t click the full-size backup option and as a result my only extant photos from that time are poor quality and very small.

However, one of my travel partners from the trip has just recently shared his photos with me and given me permission to upload them here!

Kanazawa (金沢) means “marsh of gold” which relates to an ancient legend of the peasant Imohori Togoro, whilst digging for potatoes, Togoro discovered flakes of gold and this new found fortune lead to 100 years of peasant rule of the city.

Kanazawa is home to one of the top three (Japanese tourist trade loves its lists) most beautiful Japanese gardens called Kenrokuen, another of which is Korakuen located in Okayama where I lived for a year as an exchange student (in the city, not the garden). The third is Kairakuen in Mito which I have not as of yet visited.

Kanazawa is also home to a samurai area and a geisha area, we visited the former and it was pretty cool.

Without a doubt my highlight of the trip to Kanazawa was sharing a hotel with athletes\performers from the Japanese Wrestling Association! Sitting in a lobby waiting for friends to arrive, surrounded by very muscular but relatively short angry looking Japanese men, reading newspapers and sipping tea was priceless.

Dè an uair a tha e? – Lesson 4

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

Unfortunately, I missed this week’s Gaelic class so this post will be a little shorter than the previous weeks’ efforts.

Nevertheless my tutor advised that “We did lots of revision on past and future tense…and started ‘the time’!”, so that’s what we are going to do!

An Uair – The Time

As well as the two A4 sides of class notes, I’l refer to Scottish Gaelic in Twelve Weeks to pad things out a little bit.

To ask what time it is you say dè an uair a tha e? where e has previously been used as the personal pronoun ‘he’ in this case it refers to ‘it’, I suspect that will not always be the case in this devious language and that i will be used in the case of feminine nouns. We shall see.

To say ‘it is ..’ therefore is simply ‘tha e ..‘ followed by one of the following:

Gàidhlig English
uair one o’clock
dà uair two o’clock
trì uairean three o’clock
ceithir uairean four o’clock
còig uairean five o’clock
sia uairean six o’clock
seachd uairean seven o’clock
ochd uairean eight o’clock
naoi uairean nine o’clock
dech uairean ten o’clock
aon uair deug eleven o’clock
dà uair dheug twelve o’clock

Note that aon (one) isn’t used for one o’clock but is for eleven o’clock, apparently in Cape Breton Gaelic it can be used in the former case.

Also 3-10 o’clock uses the plural form of uair which is uairean and also though I’m not sure why deug from eleven o’clock is lenited to become dheug in twelve o’clock.

Just like in English the time clause can be modified to include further information such as in the morning, half past etc.

Useful vocabulary:

Gàidhlig English
leth-uair half an hour
cairteal quarter
an dèidh after/past
‘sa mhadainn in the morning
‘san oidhche at night
feasgar (in the) evening


Gàidhlig English
tha e leth-uair as dèidh sia it is half past six
tha e aon uair deug anns a’ mhadainn it is eleven o’clock in the morning
aig cairteal gu còic feasgar at quarter to five in the evening

Note that when quarter/half past/to are used the word for o’clock is dropped, just like in English. At this stage I’m unsure how the time would be modified by say 5 minutes or 23 minutes etc. More examples of how to say time in Gaelic (as well as all of the Celtic languages) can be found on this Omniglot page .

A`cunntadh – Counting

Other than time and revision on tenses, I’m not sure what else was covered in class but let’s have a look at numbers. We’ve previously looked at 1-10 and 11-19.. so let’s look at 20+.

Gàidhlig English
fichead twenty
fichead `s a h-aon twenty one
fichead ‘s a dhà twenty two
fichead ‘s a trì twenty three
fichead ‘s a deich thirty
fichead ‘s a h-aon deug thirty one
fichead ‘s a dhà dheug thirty two
dà fichead forty
dà fichead ‘s a h-aon forty one
dà fichead ‘s a deich fifty

Interesting, no? So numbers are counted in sets of twenty, and that set of twenty is in itself modified to bring the next set, which means in order to even say the correct number you need to be reasonably numerate.

Deug translates into ‘teen’ and it seems like it is always lenited when following dhà (two). Also aon is lenited from twenty-one upwards apparently. I would suspect due to their non-inclusion in the list that numbers 3-9 are never lenited.

Finally, as always we have the weekly song, Màiri Ruadh A’dannsa an Nochd by Arthur Cormack.

The title translates to Red-haired Mairi will be dancing tonight. It’s quite upbeat but there is only one version on youtube to share here and the accoustics aren’t great, sorry!

Koto (箏) & Clàrsach

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 1-minute read

As part of the entertainment for our Scottish wedding mk II, we hired the koto (箏) player & harpist, Mio Shapley. Mio-san provided the music for guests arriving, for my bride walking down the aisle and for post-ceremony refreshments and her music was beautiful!

Whilst the day itself was a celebration of Scottish-ness I wanted to lace the events with Japanese influences and Mio-san’s performance added to a fantastic atmosphere.

As well as being a very talented harpist and pianist, Mio-san also performs the tea ceremony for events and indeed the first time I saw her was in 2009 at Japanese cultural day at The University of Edinburgh where she performed the tea ceremony and then later in the evening performed with the koto. More information is available on the Mio Shapley website and if you are planning a wedding (not necessarily with Japanese threads) I heartily recommend that you check out the site.

Photos by the wonderful Karolina Kotkiewicz .

あっぽろけ – Exploring Tosa-ben 1

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

Following on from Tosa-ben Card Game (龍馬・土佐弁かるた) I thought it may be interesting for some people if I were to do a series of short posts relating to the vocabulary that I learn from the game.

Even if not, I’m learning that maintaining a Gaelic blog is helping me learn the language so hopefully this will help me with Tosa-ben.

First up is あっぽろけ which is pronounced apporoke**, the meaning is ‘to be surprised’ though the card game uses it to mean ‘very surprised’ as their common Japanese equivalent is 大変驚いた (__たいへんおどろいた__ – *taihen odoroita*).

** the っ signifies a short pause in the pronunciation generally protrayed in English for pronunciation purposes as a double consonant.

The example sentence on the card is:

あっぽろけ シケでおらんなった万次郎が 海の向こうから もんてきた

あっぽろけ シケおらんなった__まんじろう__が __うみ__の__む__こうから もんてきた

apporoke shike orannatta manjirou ga umi no mukou kara montekita

共通語:大変驚いた 暴風雨でいなくなった万次郎が 外国から 帰ってきた

__たいへんおどろ__いた __ぼうふうう__でいなくなた__まんじろう__が __がいこく__から __かえ__ってきた

taihen odoroita boufuuu de inakunatta manjirou ga gaikoku kara kaettekita

Now for the part of the post which is likely to go through various transformations as I’m corrected by my はちきん (hachikin) wife or family and friends from Kochi!

English : (John) Manjiro was very surprised that the storm had disappeared when he returned from overseas.

Regardless of whether that is an accurate translation into English or not I’m curious as to which of the other components of the Tosa-ben sentence are actually Tosa-ben and which are just common slang.

  • おらんなった would appear to be Tosa-ben as おらん means ‘doesn’t exist’ or ‘isn’t there’ hence why I translated おらんなった as ‘had disappeared’.
  • シケ comes up on google translate as ‘storm’ so it’s clearly not Tosa-ben.
  • 海の向こう seems to be pretty standard Japanese but possibly in a form more commonly used in Kochi than 外国? It certainly is closer to ‘overseas’ and more pleasing than 外国’s literal translation as ‘outside country’, more commonly ‘foreign country’ or ‘abroad’.
  • もんてきた feels Tosa-ben-like (土佐弁ぽい) and after a wee internet search I found it on this list of Tosa-ben words so that’ll be a tick.

Mo chreach sa thainig! – Notes on Lesson 3

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 4-minute read

One of the reasons I am enjoying these Gaelic lessons so much is the wealth of information that is presented by our tutor throughout the classes, sometimes explanations of vocabulary background and sometimes related amusing stories. This week had plenty of both!

Firstly, a wee colloquialism that I missed from last week’s lesson which is idir, idir, idir which translates to ‘at all, at all, at all’ and should always be said in full, triplicate form. This is apparently appended to the end of a negative mood sentence as emphasis, such as chan eil mi toilichte idir, idir, idir – I am not happy, at all, at all, at all!

On a similar theme this week we learned Obh, obh! and mo chreach sa thanaig!Obh, obh apparently doesn’t really translate into English but I’d say it may be representative of a mix between ‘meh’ and ‘grrrr!’ but it should normally precede a clause that explains its use such as mo chreach sa thanaig! which literally translates to ‘my destruction has arrived’ or more naturally ‘Good God!’. I like this :D

If wet isn’t accurate or descriptive enough for you, as often it isn’t in Scotland then you can precede fluich with bog which literally means ‘bogging’ as in ‘bogging wet’ or ‘soaking wet’.

As well as the grammar points which I went over in Càite Bheil Thu A’ Fuireach? – Lesson 3 we learned to count from 11-19 and the days of the week.

Numbers (constructed by pre-10 number with 10 appended):

Gàidhlig English
aon deug eleven
dhà dheug twelve
tri deug thirteen
caihir deug fourteen
còig deug fifteen
sia deug sixteen
seachd deug seventeen
ochd deug eighteen
naoi deug nineteen

With regards to the days, each of them carries some meaning, some more interesting than others.

  • Diluan – Monday – from the French for the day Lundi
  • Dimàirt – Tuesday – again from the French Mardi
  • Diciadin – Wednesday – means Day of the1st fast – traditionaly Gaels would fast twice a week, apparently
  • Diardoain – Thursday – meaning the day between two fasts!
  • Dihaoine – Friday – the Day of the 2nd fast
  • Disathairne – Saturday – referring to Saturn
  • Didòmhnaich – Sunday – meaning God’s Day which was generally used by Catholics, OR
  • Là na Sàbaid – Sunday – meaning the Sabbath which was generally used by Protestants

The second Sunday option is apparently more commonly used but either works.

Finally, a little bit about Murdo MacFarlane the writer of this week’s song. Murdo hails from Lewis, as does our tutor and he was well known around the island, in particular her father knew him pretty well. Murdo apparently was a great songwriter but a miserable man :)

Our tutor’s father was a bus driver and drove a school bus into Stornoway every morning and every morning, dressed in a blue boiler suit, Murdo MacFarlane would jump onto the school bus into Stornoway so that he wouldn’t have to pay the far on a normal bus!

This week’s song Cànan nan Gàidheal was written as a lament of the foreseeable death of the Gaelic language as all Murdo saw in front of him was the decline of the language. Thankfully, efforts have been made to keep Gaelic alive and the number of people in my class alone are testament to the success of these efforts.

As I mentioned in the main post, I like this song, the lyrics really speak to me and sum up why I felt the need to learn the language of my predecessors.

Lyrics in English:

nor the sharp, withering East wind

nor rain and Westerly storms

but the plague that came from the South

to blight blossom, leaf, stalk and root

of the language of my people and race

Chorus (after each verse)

Come to us, come with me to the West

and hear the language of heroes

Come to us, come with me to the West

and hear the language of the Gael

If a kilted man would be seen in the glen

certainly Gaelic was his language

then they tore his roots from the land

and replaced Gaelic with the language of the Lowlander

and the Highlands, once the cradle of the brave

is now a land of foreign majors and colonels

Bring out the golden candlesticks

and set up the white wax candles

light them in the room of mourning

hold a wake for the ancient tongue of the Gael

That is what the enemy once said

but the language of the Gael lives on

Though it fled for its life from the glens

and can no longer be heard in the Dùn

from MacKay country far in the North

down to Drumochter of cattle

But in the Western Isles

It is still the first language of the people

Càite Bheil Thu A’ Fuireach? – Lesson 3

Blog: Kilted Scot
Categories: 4-minute read

Week three and the pace slowed a little whilst the lesson focused on revision of the previous two weeks. That is not to say however that we don’t have new grammar concepts and vocabulary to go over, we do indeed.

The first new grammar concept we learned was in response to the question Càite bheil thu a’ fuireach? which means where are you living? (as opposed to Cò às a tha thu? – where are you from?)

The response to this question varies depending on the structure and/or spelling of the location of residence and there are three variations:

  1. If the location is proceeded by a definite article such as The States (united and of America) which is Na Stàitean then the location is preceded by annsTha mi a’ fuireach anns Na Stàitean.
  2. If the place name begins with B, F, M or P and there is no definite article such as Barra which is Barraigh then the location preceded by ann amTha mi a’ fuireach ann am Barraigh.
  3. If the place name begins with any other letter other than B, F, M or P and there is no definite article such as Edinburgh which is Dùn Eideann then the location is preceded by ann anTha mi a’ fuireach ann an Dùn Eideann.

Simple (simplidh), right?

By way of a wee non-recorded pronunciation guide:

  • anns – like ounce but swap the ce for an s.. ouns
  • ann – same as above but without the s
  • am – you think you have this one don’t you? it’s pronounced im like Tim without the Tennents
  • an – in like in without adding or subtracting any letters or sounds.

Next up, TENSES!

This isn’t as difficult as you might think, Gaelic is actually pretty logical in some regards (not its spelling to pronunciation mapping) and there are really just two tenses, PAST and FUTURE/HABITUAL.

I think I understood that right anyway, present tense is only really represented by the verb ‘to be/do’ and isn’t in itself really a tense.. yup, that sounds wrong but I am fairly certain that is what I was told. The tutor definitely said only two tenses even though there are apparently three. If you know different or can confirm this then please do comment below.

In any case, there are two NEW tenses.


Sentence structure is as before but with different questions words, positive and negative responses to what we’ve learned so far.


Gàidhlig English
An robh mi? Was I?
An robh thu? Were you?
An robh e? Was he?
An robh i? Was she?
An robh sinn? Were we?
An robh sibh? Were you?
An robh iad? Were they?

The positive response to An robh? is BhaBha mi, bha thu, bha iad etc.

The negative response to An robh? is Chan robhChan robh mi, chan robh thu, chan robh iad etc.


Gàidhlig English
An robh thu ag’ol uisge beatha a raoir? Were you drinking whisky last night?
An robh e trang an dè? Was he busy yesterday?
An robh cat aice? Did she have a cat?


This tense not only represents what will happen in the future but also an activity that is carried out regularly.

Once again, sentence structure is as before but with different questions words, positive and negative responses to what we’ve learned so far.


Gàidhlig **English **
Am bi mi? Will I be?
Am bi thu? Will you be?
Am bi e? Will he be?
Am bi i? Will she be?
Am bi sinn? Will we be?
Am bi sibh? Will you be?
Am bi iad? Will they be?

The positive response to Am bi? is BidhBidh mi, bidh thu, bidh iad etc.

The negative response to Am bi? is Chan bhiChan bhi mi, chan bhi thu, chan bhi iad etc.


Gàidhlig English
Am bi thu ag’ol uisge beatha a nochd? Will you be drinking whisky tonight?
Am bi e trang a màireach? Will he be busy tomorrow?
Am bi cat aice? Will she have a cat?

Yes, I do like whisky, why do you ask?

Of course, no lesson would be complete without our weekly song and this time I actually really like it, much better pace than the previous two. Cànan Nan Gàidheal – The language of the Gael written by Murdo MacFarlane from Lewis.

The Scots Who Shaped Japan: No. 1 – Rita Taketsuru

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 7-minute read

There are many links and similarities between Scotland and Japan, besides my nuptials as a Scot to a Japanese woman, and there were a great many Scots who helped shape modern Japan. Quite often however, these Scots are considerably more well known in Japan than they are back home in Scotland.

I present this series in no particular order, the fact that Jessie Roberta Cowan is not because I deem her to have had the greatest influence on Japan, she is first because currently there is a daily NHK (Japan’s national broadcaster) morning drama about her life, called Ma-san (マッサン), which was Rita’s pet name for her husband. I haven’t had a chance to see the drama yet but my wife apparently cries every time she watches it.

Jessie was more commonly referred to as Rita and her married name is Taketsuru. Rita is referred to as the mother of Japanese whisky being co-founder of the Nikka Whisky distillery along with her husband Masataka who is also known as the father of Japanese whisky. The creation of Nikka was truly a partnership as without Rita’s connections which she had built up teaching English, Masataka would never have found the financing to build his own distillery.

I was going to research and write my own story of Rita’s life as I may well do for future posts in this series, however I found an article on The Japan Times called The Rita Taketsuru Fan Club which I’ve plagiarised parts of instead! The following excerpts are from a story by Jon Mitchell it is a very well written piece and I heartily recommend reading the full article.

Their meeting in Scotland:

“Born in Scotland in 1896, Rita Cowan’s early days had been a model of middle-class gentility consisting of home governesses, piano lessons and a liberal-arts education in English, French and music.

In her 20s, though, two events rent her life asunder — during World War I, her fiance was killed in Damascus, and then, in 1918, her father died of a heart attack.

In the following months, the Cowans’ finances dwindled until, in 1919, they realized they needed to act fast if they wanted to keep the bailiffs from their family home in the town of Kirkintilloch some 12 km northeast of central Glasgow. So it was then they decided to take in a lodger.

The man they chose was 25-year-old Masataka Taketsuru. The Hiroshima native had recently been sent to Scotland by the managers of the drinks company for which he worked. Many decades earlier, Japanese manufacturers had cracked the secrets of European beer and brandy, but one skill still eluded them — the art of making whisky. They’d tried to emulate its taste with spices, herbs and honey, but all to no avail.

Masataka’s mission was to uncover its recipe in the homeland of Scotch whisky itself. At the University of Glasgow, he took courses in organic chemistry, and he also traveled to distilleries all over the country to take apprenticeships in the production of whisky.”

Rita and Masataka were married in Calton Registry Office in 1920 and they moved to to Campbeltown, where Mastaka learned the intricacies of the whisky industry at Hazelburn distillery.

In 1923 they moved to Japan:

“The nation in which the newlyweds found themselves was very different from the one her husband had departed just two years before. The Japanese economy was mired in deep recession and Masataka’s managers were more interested in turning a quick profit with cheaply- flavored spirits than the complex process of making bona fide Scotch whisky.

Disillusioned with their change of heart, Masataka resigned from the company. Rita was unfazed by their sudden financial instability and she supported both of them by pursuing that time-honored profession for foreigners in Japan — teaching English to children and housewives.

While these were undoubtedly difficult times for the Taketsurus, photographs show the pair totally at ease with one another and themselves. Rita clutches a parasol and leans against her husband while Masataka grins confidently at the camera — they appear to be a thoroughly modern couple, thoroughly in love.

By 1923, word had spread of Masataka’s research trip to Scotland and he was hired by Shinjiro Torii (the founder of the Suntory group) to help build a whisky distillery in Yamazaki, Kyoto Prefecture. Rita was happy that her husband would finally have an opportunity to put his hard-earned skills into practice, and for the next six years she taught English while also honing her own Japanese abilities.

Masataka’s time in Kyoto was not as harmonious as his wife’s. He quarreled constantly with Torii over the fineries of whisky production, and these clashes reached a peak in 1929 when Masataka was demoted to the position of manager of a beer factory in Yokohama. He quit — and, once again, found himself out of work.”

On the creation of Nikka after unsuccessful periods working for profit-driven bosses:

Following the disappointment of Yamazaki, it struck Masataka that there was only one way for him to make whisky the way he wanted — he would have to establish his own company.

Without Rita’s connections, he would never have been able to realize this dream. Since 1924, she’d been teaching English to the wife of Shotaro Kaga — the founder of a successful securities company. When Kaga heard of Masataka’s plans, he and two other investors agreed to back the project, and the creation of Masataka’s company, Dai Nihon Kaju (later shortened to “Nikka”).

Upon learning where he was planning to build his distillery, the investors almost changed their minds. But Masataka insisted that there was only one place in Japan with ready access to the barley, peat, coal and water that were vital for Scotch whisky production. That place was Yoichi, a town located in the country’s most inhospitable and underdeveloped island, Hokkaido.”

The distillery turned its first profit in 1940 and Rita continued to play a major part in the success of the distillery until her death in 1961.

The World War II years were difficult for Rita, she was suspected of being a spy by neighbours and their home was subject to raids by Japanese officials. The war years on the other hand were the making of the distillery, there was an embargo placed on imports of Scotch whisky and this brought a wider customer base to the relatively fledgling industry in Japan and Nikka benefited greatly. Nowadays, Nikka whisky is the third most popular whisky brand in Japan.


“Masataka outlived his wife by 18 years, and today the two are interred together on a hillside near the distillery. Walking through the town, I’m delighted to discover that the woman who’d once been ostracized as a potential enemy of the state has since left her indelible mark on the landscape — Yoichi’s main thoroughfare is named “Rita Road” and a kindergarten she helped to establish still bears her name.

After 15 minutes, I arrive at the Taketsurus’ grave. The gray lozenge of stone is lit pink by the setting sun, some fireflies flare brightly and the air smells of freshly-mown grass. In the valley below, I spot the red rooftop of the distillery.

In the years since his death, Masataka’s genius at Scotch whisky production has finally been recognized: In 2007, a bottle of “Taketsuru” was voted the world’s best blended malt; followed in 2008 by 20-year-old “Yoichi” winning the best single malt in the world award.”

Though they never had children of their own, the Takesturu’s adopted Masataka’s nephew Takeshi. In 2002, Takeshi visited Scotland to celebrate the first bottling of the Japanese whisky by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (of which I am a current member) and whilst he was here he established the Takeshi Tsukuru prize at The University of Glasgow, where his father had previously studied. The prize is awarded to the student showing the best performance in the work placement element of the Chemistry Department’s MSci course.

More info about Rita & Masataka:

Cormorant fishing (鵜飼)

Blog: Bushido Dreams
Categories: 2-minute read

Cormorant fishing (鵜飼) is a traditional method of fishing which has been around for over 1300 years and the event is protected by the Japanese government (and praised by Charlie Chaplin).

There are still 13 cities in Japan where they still fish in this style and in 2009 within my first few weeks of my exchange year I was invited to Uji (宇治市) and taken on a surprise trip to view this ancient art.

The fishing technique involves a master fisherman (鵜匠) (in this case they were all women as they have nimbler fingers) who controls around 10-12 cormorants by a leashed snare which is placed over their gullets. This snare allows the cormorants to swallow any small fish that they catch but stops them from swallowing larger fish. The snare is more like a ring than a noose and doesn’t choke the birds, in fact fishing cormorant are very well looked after and can live up to 15 years which when compared to wild cormorants that generally live only a few years is quite impressive.

The skill of the ushou (fisherman or cormorant controller) lies in constantly adjusting the leashes so that they don’t become tangled.

The activity is carried out at night with a burning pine torch elevated over the water being the only light. The torch attracts fish closer to the surface and enables the cormorants to see and swoop for them.

If you would like more information on cormorant fishing then check out this Glendale Community College blog .

Block Fracking in Scotland Response 4

Blog: Sovereign Scot
Categories: 3-minute read

My fourth reply from an MSP on the FoE Scotland Please support the call to block fracking in Scotland email comes from Scottish Green’s Alison Johnstone.

Many thanks for writing to me about the serious issue of fracking and unconventional gas.

I share the widespread concern that the UK Government’s enthusiasm for onshore drilling will see people across Scotland forced to live with unconventional fossil fuel developments and risks damaging health and the local environment. The opening up of new fossil fuel reserves through fracking is also completely incompatible with our efforts to tackle climate change.

I am happy to support calls for a ban, and have done so since 2012 when I lodged a motion calling for a moratorium on all types of unconventional gas extraction until a full independent environmental assessment has been undertaken on their effect on both the local environment and Scotland’s climate change targets. As a member of the Parliament’s Energy committee I have repeatedly raised the issue. I narrowly lost out on my proposals for a 2km buffer zone between drilling and communities but efforts in committee and from hundreds of campaigners have led to a more cautious approach to fracking in Scotland’s planning policy. In April this year I led a debate in the Scottish Parliament on unconventional gas again calling for a ban – you can read what I said here. The SNP government however did not support our calls.

Of recent concern is the Coalition Government’s plan to remove peoples’ rights to be notified about and object to fracking under their land – despite 99% of respondents to their consultation opposing such moves. The issue here isn’t just fracking it