I had my first concert tonight at the Oakland Arena in California. It was a sell out concert and it went down very well. I was surprised at the response. I am now planning my world tour with book signings and special appearances.
There was a small sparrow on our lawn eating ants, worms and insects, when from nowhere, a sparrow hawk flew down and attacked the defenseless bird. The sparrow hawk tore the bird apart and within a few minutes all that was left was a pile of feathers. The hawk mauled on the morsels of meat. It seems so unfair that this poor little bird which was the lowest on the food chain would get attacked by a sparrow hawk. The poor sparrow was probably expecting a small cat to attack it, but not something from above.
We had great fun with one of Craig’s birthday presents, a set of radio controlled Doctor Who Daleks. The set includes two Daleks and a model of Doctor Who. The Dalek who gets hit five times loses the game. Craig was a formidable opponent, the first nine times that he won, he was just lucky. We had the Daleks battling on top of the coffee table, so we also had to contend with avoiding falling off the edge.
Teresa created a wonderful cake. The cake had a toy theme with trains, lego and teddy bears. We couldn’t really face lighting the candles as the poor teddy bear wax candles would have disintegrated in front of us and that would have been really upsetting, so we left the candles intact and just admired the cake. 😀
As all the bears had bought Craig presents for his birthday, there was a large pile of presents. There was presents of various shapes and sizes with all manner of wrapping paper. I particularly liked the Thomas the Tank engine wrapping paper, although sadly the present inside wasn’t a train. There was a vast range of different presents. We had hours of fun playing with all of his presents.
To surprise Craig on his birthday we organised a party. We all got to wear silly hats and had noise makers. As you can see it was a tight squeeze onto the sofa, but we all got on there in the end. We saved up our donut money and all got presents for Craig, so we sat on the sofa quietly waiting for him.
I can drive. Whilst Teresa and Sarah were shopping I took the opportunity to drive around the parking lot. I don’t know what the problem is with driving. It seemed very easy to me. I had a little problem reaching the accelerator and the brake, but with the assistance of a stick and some tape I was able to control it. The car was an automatic which helped, if it had been a manual transmission then I may have had a problem. I would have had to climb down from the wheel, control the clutch and the adjust the gear stick. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that. I didn’t hit a single car, and returned the car back to the spot where they had parked. When they came out they hadn’t even noticed that the car had gone for a spin around the car park.
The Jelly Belly tour was great. We all enjoyed ourselves, bought far too much candy and came away knowing much more about the history of jelly belly, the company and the candy. I would recommend that if you live in the San Francisco bay area that it is certainly worth taking a drive to Fairfield for the tour.
The artwork and portraits made from Jelly Belly jellybeans are on display throughout the tour of the factory. The artwork was originally created by Peter Rochas and the work is now continued by his son. Each piece takes several months to create and uses thousands of jellybeans. I wonder if they are ever tempted to eat the jellybeans?
It was really interesting to find out how they make a jellybean. The first step happens at the “mogul station” where the slurry of the beans are molded from a recipe that includes cornstarch, corn syrup, fruit purees, and other flavourings. The centers are allowed to dry. I didn’t realise how long it takes to make a jellybean. Once they are dry they receive a “sugar shower”.
The next step involves dozens of machines, which look like small cement mixers, stood in long rows. The beans are tumbled in stainless steel barrels as confectioners add syrup and sugar in a two-hour process. I wondered how they know how much to add. After drying, the process is repeated six times. The last engrossing coats each bean with a shiny glaze. Several days later, the beans receive their official Jelly Belly mark, which is applied by a machine that does the job at a rate of 21,000 beans a minute. I don’t think I could even eat that many jelly beans. The jellybeans once ready are packaged by half a dozen multi-jointed robots.
If you ever wondered how all the jelly beans are so perfect, they have a machine which checks to see whether each jellybeans is the correct size. If they are too small, too large or stuck together then they are known as “Belly Flops” and are a packaged in large bags to be sold in the store in the foyer or at the factory outlet store.
When on the Jelly Belly tour you have to wear a hat; the principle reason is for health and safety. They don’t want any hair or fur going into the candy mix. I think it is also helps with identifying those who are on the tour and those who work at Jelly Belly. The hat was small enough so that I was able to wear one, although as I am covered in the fur I wasn’t too sure what I was meant to do for my paws and face.
Whilst in the foyer waiting to go on the tour around the Jelly Belly factory, I looked up and saw the biggest jellybeans that I have ever seen. I am only a small bear, so if I were to eat one of those then it would take me years. I did notice that one is a very dark green and resembles the colour of the jalapeño jelly bean, so that might explain why no one has eaten it already.
The Jelly Belly company is a large international company, so when it comes to advertising they sponsor everything from sporting events and teams, through to creating special promotional items. We got to see two motorbikes in the foyer of Jelly Belly promoting their new Sport Brand. We got to try some of the Jelly Belly Sport Brand later, they are designed for athletes as they have additional ingredients which give you a boost of vitamins and electrolytes. They did recommend not to give them to children.
The entrance of Jelly Belly is lined with portraits of presidents and famous people made entirely from jellybeans. In 1976 the first eight Jelly Belly flavours were created; very cherry, lemon, cream soda, tangerine, green apple, root beer, grape and licorice. They became the favourite candy of President Ronald Reagan who made them a staple in the Oval Office and on Air Force One. His passion for jelly beans inspired Blueberry flavour, which was cooked up so that he could served red, white and blue beans at inaugural parties. When it came to creating a portraits of famous people from jellybeans, the first one created was that of Ronald Reagan. Over the next few years many more have been created including one of the governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jelly Belly hasn’t always been creating jellybeans. Since the early 1900s the Goelitz family has been making “buttercream” candies, including Candy Corn. These candies carried the family through the Great Depression and two world wars. Today, the great-grandsons of Gustav Goelitz, the fourth generation, are still carrying on the tradition of making candy. They not only make jellybeans and Candy Corn, but chocolate covered raisins, Harry Potter jelly beans, JBs, and gummy candy. They even make sugar free jellybeans. Whilst we were visiting, we were able to sample jelly beans for the movie “The Ant Bully” which included grass flavour. 😛
One of the best tours in the US is the tour of the Jelly Belly factory. The Jelly Belly factory is located in Fairfield, CA and not only produces jelly beans, but gummi bears, chocolate covered raisins and candy corn. The tour is also FREE and at the end you get to sample some of the amazing flavours that they produce.
This dog belongs to Sarah and his name is Caine. He is a Boston Terrier which is breed very similar to the French Bulldog in Europe. He is quite old, is the alpha dog and is very friendly. As he still has teeth he does like to chew on things, so when we gave him a chewy ball there was no way of getting it away from him. The only chance to get it away from him was his blind spot, if you sneaked up from behind then he wouldn’t notice you grabbing the ball. Sarah was able to eventually get the ball away from him.
In the over excitement of showing friends everything that she had got, our friend Heather locked our keys in the trunk of our rental car. Thankfully this wasn’t much of a problem as the car was a rental from Avis and we had full coverage for any emergency. We called the emergency telephone number and before not too long someone came to get the car open. We weren’t too sure how they would get the keys from the trunk, but he started to pry the driver window open with what looked like a small pump. When he had a sufficient gap he inserted a thin metal rod and attempted to prod the trunk release button, eventually he hit the button, the car alarm went off and the trunk released. We got the keys, turned the alarm off and Heather’s embarrassment subsided.
We had icecream and hot chocolate at Ghirardellis in San Francisco. If you ever get the opportunity to go to San Francisco then it is certainly worth a visit to try one of their hot fudge sundaes or an ice cream soda. Their ice cream is exquisite and amazing. Ghirardellis reminds me of a traditional ice cream parlour as depicted in movies. It is worth a visit even if it is freezing cold outside, as you could always have a hot chocolate.
This is a picture of one of the guard towers at Alcatraz. I can imagine with that many prisoners on the island that they would spend hours in the tower looking over the bay and at the prison which they over looked. The wind was very strong whilst we were visiting which took the temperature down several degrees. It would be very cold in the winter with the breeze through the bay.
I could not believe the number of seagulls that we saw on Alcatraz. I got to the point where I was looking at a pair and thought that they had to be plastic because they weren’t blinking and were standing perfectly still, and then without any notice they few off to the water. I suppose with Alcatraz being an island they are surrounded by water which must be plentiful with small fish.
It is a necessity for Alcatraz island to have a lighthouse due to the location in the bay. The lighthouse is still functioning. If the island didn’t have a lighthouse then any of the large cargo vessels or cruise ships which navigate the bay might veer straight into the island. The lighthouse is also an important part of the skyline of the island. The tshirts all feature the lighthouse in some way.
The wind on Alcatraz was very strong. We were standing directly next to the main prison building and the wind felt like it was gale force. I was having problems standing up straight and thought I was going to fly away. If I had a kite then I would have flown away and would have next been seen in the east bay.
Teresa’s dog is named Star. We had to leave Star in America whilst we got the garden fences repaired and waited for her paperwork to come through for the PETS programme, so that we may bring her home. There was a time where you could only bring a pet into the country if they stayed in quarantine for six months, now there are a number of countries who are allowed to run tests for rabies, if the results are negative after six months then the pet can travel immediately under the PETS programme. It won’t be too much longer until Star can travel. We’re not too sure how she will cope with the journey, but she will be welcomed on her arrival.