I am very happy!
As Jim suggested, I did the thermometer thingy today. This was already being discussed over on coffeegeek. So, to avoid repetition, what I did and the results I achieved are over there. https://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espre ... ods/333927
for that thread.
To say I'm happy with results is an understatement. As you will see from my previous posts, I was getting somewhat disheartened! To be honest, even though I know I'm a beginner at this and there is very likely room for improvement, I had the nagging feeling that my technique wasn't really the culprit. I am methodical to the point of obsession! Technique is driven home for very good reasons-it is crucial. I want you to realise I am firmly aware of that! However, my suspicions about the importance of the ability to monitor temperature on machines like Miss Silvia were confirmed today. I now feel strongly that this should NOT be overshadowed by technique.
It's been said many times that without good technique one isn't going to be able to make a good coffee even on upmarket machines. And, of course, this would be even more noticeable on Silvia etc. However, conversely, I just cannot see how the greatest Barista in the world is going to be able to pull consistently great shots on the Silvias of this world flying blind without temp monitoring. I realise the previous statement may well show up my inexperience of such matters. If it does, I'm not too disappointed-because if technique can bring another quantum leap like the one I experienced today then as my own technique improves I can be looking forward to consistently great shots with a good few God shots thrown in! But, even with my inexperience, I just can't see how anybody could argue the point about just how important monitoring temp is.
So, to wrap up the early findings of this particular fledgling. Yes, never forget technique-it's very, very important. But instead of being secondary, my feeling is that on machines like Silvia it's equally important to monitor temp. There are two Gods-technique AND temperature! Thanks everyone for your help on this-what a great place these forums are.