Archive for July, 2007

Ironside – cyanide?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Raymond Burr was considered by some to be a TV genius.  Robert T. Ironside was super-attorney, Perry Mason’s succesor (in his acting career).  Personally I much preferred cigar slugging Columbo.

Talking of American trash, I’ve had to add a new category for this post which shows how much wine I drink from the world’s only remaining super-power.  I have had bad experiences of US wine in the past, perhaps based on the cheap end of the Gallo range, so I didn’t have high hopes from this one:

Fetch my wheelchair fella, oh no that’s Ironside stupid!  Ironstone next to a bag of salad (for some reason)

Ironstone Vineyards 2004 Chardonnay/Viognier  from California retails at about £7 a bottle. Surely £6 of that must be shipping costs and £1 duty (or is that vice versa) so exactly how much is spent on the wine?

I was astounded by the quality.  Uncle Sam, I apologise, even if you are bald (and especially if you are listening in via spyware or remote listening device).  A gorgeous smell of gooseberries led to flavours of pear slices in yoghurt.  Fresh fruit salad and natural yoghurt is such a great breakfast starter (as long as it’s followed by bacon and poached eggs).  Much superior to taking a cyanide pill.

Vila do Grove, Puerto Banús

Monday, July 30th, 2007

It’s taken me ages to get round to posting much about the lads’ trip at the end of June 07.  You remember I left you while we were eating lunch on the first day.  Well a man of my stature (weight that is) needs to eat at least twice a day so the evening found us at Vila do Grove, just behind the Hotel Andalusia Plaza.

It looks better than this at night…for some reason!


English Wine? Stop laughing!

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Where is the sense of individual responsibility in society these days?  My parents and grand-parents all lived through at least one world war, enduring hardship and shortage.  When something went wrong in their lives, their first reaction was to set about putting it right using their own endeavours.  I am not saying that governments and corporations should be absolved of negligence, nor that they should not take sensible precautions to increase safety for us all, but the balance of responsibility has shifted too far.  Matt Rudd writing in The Sunday Times agrees.  In a simple day out with his wife and toddler he counted a whopping 289 warnings/instructions.

If parents can’t be trusted to educate their kids to the point that they understand that coffee “may be hot”, or that smooth floors “may be slippery when wet” then the world has lost something.  In today’s litigious society (it starts in America, quickly migrates to Ireland, and lands in the UK shortly afterwards) the first thought when we have an accident is “who can I sue?  How much money can I make?”  So the inevitable result is a world full of nannying warning signs that guide us, cajole us, restrict us, instruct us but rarely inform us.

The warning on my bottle of Bacchus 2006, however, was clear and stark, “Made in England”.

Bacchus next to a bowl of fruit….for some reason


Zucchini – The final frontier

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Loose end on a Friday night in Batley, West Yorkshire?  Why not try the world famous Frontier Club?  Many a famous name has played the place – even the Grumbleweeds!

Nothing on the particular Friday I was there, so decided to try the restaurant next door – Zucchini.  I heard it is run by the same people as the excellent but smoky (well, used to be before 1 July 07 English smoking ban) Dolce Vita in Birstall, so we expected great things.

I won’t be going back.  The staff were surly, the wine was too warm and the food was average.


Spam spam spam spam

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Mmmmm…. couple too many glasses last night.  Could really do with a spam fritter this morning to soak up the excess alcohol.

Talking of which, I use the Akismet spam filter which is generally superb but just recently it’s been picking up comments that are clearly not spam.  I only noticed while idling through the comments section.  Sorry if any of your comments got caught and not published.

I also decided to publish two comments promoting the sale of lawn mowers.  This was entirely relevant to the article and not only amused me but impressed me.  Online marketing techniques are getting ever more sophisticated!

My carbon stomp to Live Earth

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

I was invited to Live Earth.  What a dilemma.  All tickets cost £55.  I went free.  Should I make a charitable donation to some worthy cause?  Which cause exactly?  I mean this was not a charity event, it was about awareness, man.  Quite a hippy concept really, but played out in the hard commercial word of the new millennium.  Some of the messages from the various entertainers who participated were more genuine than others but I have to admit to laughing.  It’s not very rock and roll having some pop idol jumping on stage and telling us all not to leave our TVs on standby, before launching into some familiar guitar riff.

There were also doubts about the CO2 created by the event itself.  I travelled public transport all the way, only to see the Black Eyed Peas being helicoptered in to Wembley for Al Gore’s denouement.

All in all though, a fantastic day out.  It’s not often you get to see such a high class line up.  Here’s the pictures:

Firstly my (somewhat feeble) attempt at a panoramic view of Wembley.

Live Earth Pano


St Alban needs a Sunday lunch menu

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

When we arrived at St Alban for Sunday lunch there were only three other tables occupied!  This despite the day being the biggest sporting day in the UK calendar – men’s final at Wimbledon, Tour de France starting at Trafalgar Square (just round the corner) that morning, British Grand Prix at Northampton (Silverstone), and me dancing at Live Earth the night before (and that is a rare occasion).  This despite the fact that St Alban had telephoned us the day before to push our booking back from 2:0pm to 2:15pm – hmmmm.

Hang on, where are all the celebs???


Fortnum & Mason flights of fancy

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

The wine bar in the lower ground floor of F & M Foodhall on Piccadilly is so cool, and I’m not talking about the ambient temperature.  Staffed by a range of nationalities with a variety of experiences in wine.  Our Polish waiter, Artur Zarzycki “vaz early on hiz vine joornee” but seemed to know plenty despite his claimed one year of experience.  And he almost knew how to operate a camera!

Average camera-work but great wine (for some reason)

Queuing outside F & M on a Sunday at midday (the bloody shop opened late by about 2 minutes 30 seconds), because we had an hour to kill before our reservation at St Alban (more anon).  So, as all the restaurants and cafes in F & M were being refurbished, we dashed down to the wine bar “1707” where, for £23.90 (inc. service) we got to try a fantastic range of wines.  Who says the posh shops are expensive?


2000 Château Citran and new shoes

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I am a big fan of Oliver Sweeney.  No, he is not a pop star, nor an artist, but a shoemaker.  Think of him as the Paul Smith of shoes.  Designs for the guy who still thinks he is younger than he is, but appreciates quality without the stuffiness of “city” attire.  They are fun shoes but they are not cheap.  The killer feature is that unlike most shoes you may buy (albeit at less than half the price Oliver charges), his shoes actually fit first time and you don’t need to break them in.  Only one pair of Ollies have I ever suffered blisters from.  Compare that to Barker’s, Church’s, Grenson’s, Cheaney or other leading (and expensive) brands that can take weeks to break in.  So why can’t winemakers in Bordeaux make wines that one can drink straight away?  Where is the Oliver Sweeney of the Bordelais?


Bemused by new Wembley

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

I was asked by one of the sponsors of “new” Wembley “do you want to come and see Muse?”  My total dumbfounded silence made them re-phrase the question – “I’ve got a box at Wembley to see some band you’ve never heard of, do you want to come?”  “YES PLEEEEEEEASE!”

OK so I am too old to have heard of Muse – you can laugh but at least I remember Led Zeppelin – I still have most of their albums (on vinyl of course) and I saw Spinal Tap at Live Earth – rock on!

I thought you might be interested in the pics.

Be mused….be very mused

Muse?  Imagine the bastard son of Radiohead and Suede and (if you are a Gen Xer like me) you will see what I mean.