I was thinking the other day, that now that our house has finished being renovated that for me the work has just begun. I did a bit of walk around the house and started to put together a list of things that had to be done. Very overwhelming! As I put the list together, I kept thinking about the TV show (one of my favorites) ‘My Name is Earl’, and his karma list that he put together to right the wrongs that he had done in his life. Although my list doesn’t really go into the whole karma thing, I thought it might be a good way to present all of the things that I have to do around the house, and for each thing I do, I’ll blog about it…

Here is my list!

Please note, due to finances and time required to complete some of these items this list is in no particular order:

  • Remove old shed
  • Build new shed
  • Connect all down pipes to storm water
  • Wire in surround speakers in the ceiling
  • Build the side fence (left side)
  • Build the side fence (right side)
  • Put in a new exposed aggregate driveway
  • Walkway over heating unit
  • Level the backyard
  • Build new front fence
  • Install ag drains (to extend around new part of house)
  • Install new storm water drains (to extend to the new part of the house as required)
  • Fill in pits to provide levels for storm water drainage
  • Paint the roof
  • Dig out the concrete in the back yard
  • Install new letter box
  • Build cot – flat pack I think
  • Install new path in the front
  • Pave the side of the house (narrow side)
  • Create a new front garden
  • Plant trees front and back
  • Do something with the awful nature strip tree!
  • Install a new clothes line
  • Render and paint the boundary wall (the neighbours shed is on the boundary)
  • Clean the gutters (ongoing)
  • Plant new grass
  • Extend height of back fence – sorry Flo
  • Install new curtains in M’s room
  • Build attic in the ceiling/roof space for storage
  • Build furniture – very exciting
  • Make a train table for model trains – its a boy thing!
  • Fix L’s sunglasses
  • Install floorboard pads on the bottom of the furniture
  • Fix things that break… This could be anything, from hair straighteners to chairs and tables, to plumbing items and really anything ‘the wife’ tells me to.

So as you can see I have quite a bit on my plate, to my good friends it’s been nice knowing you, if you need me I will be in the garden or the shed and doing stuff around the house.

Hi there again,

Thanks Coolio for your comment, I too look forward to tasting your wares when I am next in Brisbane, I think it will be in June, in time for a nice glass of port and a romeo and juliet on the deck… hmmm! We men are very simple creatures aren’t we!

I have been looking around for some tips about port and how to get different tastes in the barrel. I came across a good website from another fellow port drinker,so have a look at his link and you might get some ideas. Port link
I think all in all it’s trial and error, but there are several people who will tell you different techniques about how to start a port barrel. Some people say to put brandy in the barrel for a few days prior to adding any port, others will tell you to just rinse the barrel with water and then put the port in.

The thing to remember I guess is that you should plan to have this item of furniture in your house for a long time and you will probably be able to try a few things along the way without it affecting the longevity of the barrel. Mix in some brandy occasionally, some sherry maybe, and some different types of port.

I personally, the novice that I am, have just put about 4 bottles of tawny port about 150ml of french brandy and half a bottle of sherry, and now having waited a couple of days, I am happy to report that it is really tasting good.

Have fun in your trials and let me know how you go!

Port barrel preparation

Posted by: Owen in Post 30 1 Comment »

Last year my wonderful wife bought me a fantastic gift, a thing that I have always wanted but never really been in a place permanent enough to warrant something of this stature, elegance and style… I don’t know whether you have ever read a description about a port barrel like that before, but that’s how much I treasure it.

With any new thing, it is good to gain an understanding of how it should work and sometimes if you’re lucky you might get some instructions, most of which I never read but I hear they are a good read… However when it came to my port barrel, I wanted to know how to ensure that it doesn’t leak and how to be able to appreciate this for many years to come.

Having just moved into our newly renovated house and having still a few unopened boxes around the place, I was impatient to get my port barrel off and running and so I was looking around for the instructions and when I thought that they could not be found, I hopped onto the next place that has all the information you need – the internet and Google! however, it seems that there isn’t a lot of information about port barrels on the net and so I thought that now having found my instructions I would share you what these instructions say so that if you are ever googling port barrel preparation, you could come and visit my blog on the way.

So I don’t infringe any copyright rules – I wish to first provide you with the source of my information – the instructions come from the ‘Cooper Import Company’ they are importers of hand crafted wine barrels and they are located in 23 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford, Victoria Australia.

This is suitable for the storage of Port or Spirits, but unsuitable for red or white wine which has not been fortified.

This is based on brand new barrels that have not been used.

Preparing the Barrel

  • When you buy a barrel it has often been sitting on the shelf for some time and the oak may have dried out considerably, to give the timber some hydration, fill it with water.
  • If the barrel leaks, leave the water in it for the oak to ‘take up’ moisture and stop the leaking.
  • Empty the barrel and let it drain completely
  • Pour into the barrel a quarter of a bottle of Old Tawny Port, roll it around several times and empty it out
  • Fill it with the Port you have selected or blended to be kept in the barrel
  • If the barrel still leaks empty the Port out, refill it with water and leave until the leaking stops. In most instances this will not be necessary.
  • Remember that patience is necessary at this stage, and is the key to successfully preparing the barrel.
  • Never immerse the barrel in water as this will turn it black

So there you have it, pretty simple isn’t it. I don’t know what really happens after that but mine has water sitting into it as I am writing this and I will be getting some Tawny for it tomorrow. Let the years roll on. I have heard that that after a while of putting port into the barrel that it gets a film on the inside of the barrel and assists the new ports that are added over time to have better flavours, even not particularly good ports can improve after being in a matured port barrel.

On the instruction sheet that I was given with the port barrel it has named a couple of port blends that can be used and I dont mind sharing them:

Dry – Fairly alcoholic style

  • Three and a half bottles of Tawny port
  • One bottle of Fino Sherry (very dry)
  • One bottle of St. Agnes Brandy (375ml)

Sweeter, less alcoholic style

  • Four bottles of Tawny port
  • Half a bottle of Fino Sherry (very dry)
  • One bottle of St. Agnes Brandy (175ml)

Please note:

  • The blend can be sized up or down depending on taste and the volume of the barrel which does not have to be full
  • The blend will take time to marry in and provide a smooth drinking port. Some evaporation of the contents should be encouraged, as this hastens the marrying in process.
  • You should also try other blends such as specialised liqueurs, spirits and other suitable liquors.

I think it is just trial and error and time that will put your barrel in good stead. Enjoy your journey. Let me know how you go.

I wish to thank the person who placed a comment on my blog about the flat pack furniture entry. The person made the comment that people are buying IKEA or flat pack furniture because it is cheap and able to be thrown away after a few years of use. The reader made the comment that this has an impact on the resources and the energy used to make the furniture, and that they would prefer ‘proper’ timber to be used to make furniture that lasts for years.

With the comments made, I do agree in part, yes it is difficult living in a throw-away society where things are cheap and not as valued as they ‘used to be’. With this perspective, I would like to point out that generally, furniture made for the market and the likes of IKEA are from plantation timbers and pulped timber products which have been planted specifically for the use in timber products. These trees grow very fast and the WHOLE tree is used in the manufacture of the timber product. This form of timber manufacture does also create a lot of jobs, from growers, to truck drivers, to yard persons, to dock and port workers, to timber manufacturers to retail employees etc etc.

On the other hand, hard wood timbers used for ‘proper’ furniture that lasts a long time, often comes from non-renewable sources, where the tree is cut down and only a portion of the tree can be used and the rest is wasted. These trees are very old and take years to grow back IF there is a replanting regime in place. I am happy to say that I think timber growers are becoming more responsible these days and when they knock over trees for use, they are planting 1 – 10 trees in its place which should assist us to have enough timber for future generations.

Having a keen interest in timber and timber products I think it is good that we have options like flat pack furniture that come from renewable sources and are easy to produce, but we also have the option for good solid (hard wood) timber. Keeping in mind that hard wood timber products are extremely expensive and out of reach for many families.
So thanks to the person who spent the time to not only read my blog but to leave a comment, I hope you come back and read this response too. Timber is a great product and can be enjoyed in many forms.