31 December 2009

Cooking with Bruce, summary of recent food

Christmas dinner was pheasant poached in cider, wasn't very impressed with this - pheasant seems kinda flavourless, so won't be eating that again in a hurry.
The Waldoff salad was lovely, but then I've always liked it. It also gives me a use for my hammer, owning a hammer makes me manly, the fact I mainly use it for cracking nuts in no way detracts from my manliness.
Roasting the spuds in goose fat resulted in some feckin' stunning tasting spuds, apparently goose fat is also quite healthy - awesome.

the star of the show was my Christmas pudding, damn I do a good one. Cream and custard set off the pudding nicely. Yup, even I can be traditional.

I've done most of the cooking for tonight, roast vege pasta bake (I made the sauce yesterday before I finished the red wine, see planning...), tiramisu (made this before I drank all the coffee, but no coffee liquer so brandy was involved), and that'll do me thinks. Possibly some salad, but we'll see...

Now watching King of the Zombies from 1941, which is superb. Including a black servant as comic relief, who has soooo stolen this movie. He's hilarious, it's public domain now so should be reasonably easy to find.

Love, B

30 December 2009

Regional News - why bother?

The BBC have, for some reason, a 30 minute news bulletin followed by regional news for 20 minutes (ish) then back to central for weather. Or something like that. I find it hard to follow.
I've never been a huge fan of regional news, it's always struck me as shallow, narrow-minded and a waste of time. I'd much rather have more indepth reporting, or critiquing of international affairs. 
This evening I felt things hit a nadir, admittedly it's the dead news period, but still, this isn't too different from normal. 
An east midlands motorway is being extended and some people trying to restore a canal are up in arms because the motorway will require changes to bridges, which if not done, will mean the canal cannot be restored. All I got from this article was a bunch of old buggers (it's always old buggers) wanting to restore a canal, and grumbling about bridges. No-where in the story was there an explanation as to a) why anyone wants the canal  the restored or b) why the motorway needed extending (becoming a dual-carriage way).

This was an excellent example of crap reporting with no context, and no hook to engage view interest. Why TF bother?

I went back to my book, Charlie Brooker's "The Hell of it All", which seemed somehow apt.


26 December 2009

Boxing Day

Didn't have as much booze as I thought I would. Had a nice relaxing day tho, watching movies, drinking booze, eating food. Ended up watching the mini-series Alice - kinda derivative, if you've seen Kubrick, Gilliam, even the Matrix, you won't be very surprised - but it was mindless, which is all we wanted.

This morning, woke up and read for a bit. A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz was shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker prize, which I'd generally avoid. But I'd been in a literature search the other week and picked up this, Cormac McCarthy's The Road (brilliant, if disturbing reading on a train through the blank snow covered wilderness of the Scottish Borders...) and something else. Anyway, this one is very very funny, and is rocking along at high speed. 

Made brekkie (toast and coffee), did the remaining dishes, cleaned the kitchen and organised recycling, now my feet are up watching the John Carradine classic, Silent Night, Bloody Night. A soft romantic comedy concerning a haunted house and the nutjobs involved with it.  Seems a good example of the slasher flick genre so far, scripting has been, at best, clumsy. Non-sequitors abound which is superb listening. I'm also liking the lack of emotional investment in any of the characters, nice touch !!


A Fraction of the WholeSilent Night Bloody Night

25 December 2009

Xmas Pt4

been awhile since the last blog, have drunk more beer (quite a bit) had dinner (very nice, particuarly the spuds and the waldorf salad), watched some Brideshead Revisted, half a movie (Underground). Sipped some whisky and had a bit of a cigar, too cold to stay outside toolong so came back in.
pudding is cooking its way to lovely hotness as we speak. new james may on soon, probably skipping dr who as i kept missing all the others. i thought i saw there was a new top gear on too, but can't seem to see ot, only a repeat from the other night.
might be time to throw on another movie - thinking about silent night, deadly night or Cyborg.

i think a beer aged in whisky casks will be next, ooohhh or maybe the st peters stout, that'd go well with the pudding. hmmm, decisions.

me x

Xmas Pt3

Things are now happening in the kitchen, pheasants are in the oven for their initial cook, the spuds are being boiled before roasting, I've located ingredients for the salad. Pudding is in the fridge - ready for the final steam. Beer in glass (timmermans Strawberry lambic), cheese on cracker.

Halfwit prince still on in background.


Xmas Pt2

The zombie movie was absolutely superb. Excellent stuff. Sadly we've moved onto pothead and the halfwit prince. So I've moved onto St Peter's Grapefruit beer.

My Xmas pressie to me, with love, cos I've been a very good boy, or at least good to myself, was a decent coffee grinder. This worked in well with beans T posted over in exchange for a DVD - so freshly ground Havana beans. Feckin' A.

Here's a picture of my new baby, and the view out our window.

Love and im liking this beer.


Xmas drinking pt1 - not very pisht post

 The beginning of the day, one champers down and currently watching Flight of the Living Dead aka Zombies on a Plane. The plot, such as it is, is quite easy to follow and should appeal to all drunken bgrade fans. Scripting writing makes pr0n dialogue look like Bennett, and the less said about the acting, the better. For all that, it's fun - and more importantly has zombies, hot babes, guns, and a plane. Not enough nudity to be excellent, so it'll get a very good rating from me. Sadly my booze is now empty and I must away for a refill. Damn scientists killing everyone. But there's a nun, she still got clothes on too, but maybe hot. And a prisoner, and a US air marshall. They have guns. and now metal - oh yeah baby. I liked that fact the hot babes got bitten first.

Food intake update:
2 cups coffee (freshly ground havana beans)
1 glass champagne
2 english muffins with egg, salmon and horseradish

oohhh woohoo the captain got bitten!


ps: in keeping with the 'rules' no editing allowed on these posts so if they dont make sense, blame someone else.
Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane

23 December 2009

\m/ Metal \m/

Nothing to do at work today, no surprise there, mainly filling in time before pub. Mmm beer.
Anyhoo, I'm catching up metal vids I haven't had a chance to watch, the only two that have stood out have been Kataklysm, Behemoth (oohh now that was brutal) and Vader.

Here's Vader, with their snappily titled video:


Meals you're unlikely to have

From todays news : the man who killed and ate the last wild Indochinese tiger has been jailed for 12 years. Pleading self-defence while gathering clams in a wild-life reserve, the prosecutors argued 'you don't need a gun to gather clams'. The only known tiger in the reserve has not been seen since his dinner in 2007.

More info on the tiger itself here.

Genetics of tigers splits them into 6 distinct groups, well according to this paper anyway. Admittedly these are all subspecies, and whether we even care about that is a whole other question.
Another paper, which lists 5 subspecies, assigned captive tigers to the subspecies, finding a large proportion (52 of 105 examined) were of mixed origin (what would the BNP say). If you've got access to Science Direct it's available here.

This means that it is technically possible to continue 'pure-breeding' the subspecies, but whether it's worth it or not - who knows. Obviously they interbred quite happily, so the question becomes, do we want to enforce speciation on them, along with the corollary of (probably) reduced genetic diversity?


22 December 2009

HE sucked for money

Continuing the occasional series on Higher Education, quote of the day comes from an article discussing the rise of vampire courses in the US HE sector:
“They know more about vampires than they do about religion,” said Richard Androne, professor of English at Albright College in Pennsylvania, who teaches a course called “The Vampyre”.

And this is where Richard Dawkins went wrong, rather than pointing out the perfection of Evolution he should have gone "oohhh look, vampires are cool"...and thus killed religion in one sucking swoop.
It's also an encouraging fact about the US. I think it's evidence of the Obama effect.


A slightly geeky day at work

I had a few things to tidy up this morning, and a big meeting for cunning plan implementation. After lunch I decided to boot back into linux and finally finish the configuration. I'm using Kubuntu 9.10 mainly as I like the prettiness of the KDE desktop. The utilitarian approach of Gnome is good, but I like pretty - I'm a Mac boy damnit.

I'd already set up email, sadly Evolution doesn't have a Exchange 2007 plugin yet. I'm thinking of switching to the KDE mail suite, but it's never really rocked my world, so will continue with Evolution (mail) and Outlook Web Access for calendaring etc. I guess I could look at synching my outlook calendar with gmail which would do what I want better. Hmmm. No hurry as it does synch nicely with the iphone so I'm still getting reminders when I need them.

Got a bit sick of Kopete which is the default KDE instant messenger, so I've installed Pidgin since that's what I was using on the Windows side of the box. I've also edited the display settings so it's crystal clear (better than windows, which is odd), although it continues to want to display on the laptop and the external monitor - guess that's something to look at in the new year.

Using Firefox for the browser, KDE's default one is good, but has a few issues with websites that don't follow HTML coding properly.

The big win? Plugging in my Mac formatted ipod, the system recognising it, and Amarok (the KDE default media player) picking it up and playing tracks off it - no problems at all. The Pidgin plugins for 'now playing' are very simple to plug in, and there's a Last.FM plugin built in by default.

I haven't finished configuring my drive mappings, currently I can see the SMB shares, but only as read-only, and I can't be bothered doing much about that today. I'm sure I fixed that on another box, so will see if I made any useful notes concerning it.

Generally, I'm liking it. It's certainly a lot less clunky than it used to be - not nearly as smooth as MacOS, but certainly more is built-in and just works out of the box than Windows. I think I'll continue to use it more in the new year, if only as it reads the ipod and I can play music and tell people what I'm listening to. Yes, I am that shallow.
Oh and the Skype linux version, technically beta, works well. No problems there either.

I also tidied my desk, and starting reading about Prince2, but then decided fiddling with my linux box was more interesting.

Love, B

21 December 2009

Christmas is a comin'

I did the Xmas shop. I don't like shopping. I don't like people. However with the students gone, Loughborough isn't as busy as it usually is, so oddly it wasn't as bad as normal.

My beer is all ready for next week, most of it is in the fridge - altho in these temperatures, heaven knows why (-4 at night most of this week).

We have, and by we, I mean I, have:
Timmermans Lambicus Bianche
Timmermans Strawberry
Artvelde Grand Cru
Caracola Nostradamus
Rodenbach Grand Cru (oh god yes!)
Trappistes Rochefort 8
St Peters Best Bitter
St Peters Cream Stout
St Peters Grapefruit
Flying Dog Old Scratch Amber Lager
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Tuilibardine 1488 Whisky Ale (no Brewdog available!)

The fridge itself is looking full, and I've had to take out the vodka from the freezer to fit everything in. The Xmas puddings have developed nicely, huzzah!

And the whisky cabinet, although there's three more bottles downstairs, and I see some wine, port and gin in with the whisky as well...

I may put up a full list of the whiskies in due course, but suffice to say I shouldn't be too cold during this xmas period.

Oh and my coffee grinder arrived today, it does have a European connection plug which is annoying, but I can cope with that...


17 December 2009

Whisky review : SMWS

Been awhile since we had a whisky review and I've got a few lying around I haven't reviewed - for my own collection if not yours.
I've got a few SMWS drams to get through, so I'll work my way through them over the next fortnight, I've also got some notes and a 20yo Glengoyne to blog about, so whisky galore... It's also very chilly here (well it did snow today), so whisky will keep my warm and save electricity. See it's a win for everyone. Well ok, me, although if you dropped by I'd be happy to share - except to Mr Upton and his freakin' L and P :p

Background: the SMWS buy casks from distillers that don't fit that distilleries profile, bottle them and sell them to their members without obviously identifying the distillery.

13.43 SMWS Mediavel combat dram
19yo refill butt, ex sherry; 59.2% 1 of 576 bottles

Nose: Glue, Sherry, both quite strong. hint vanilla, quite a subtle nose, rubber.

Body: honey, velvet, christmas cake, sherry, treacle, 

Finish: long, tingly, honey - manuka, 
Rating: 9.5/10

Why yes, I do like this one. Really complex, it changes in the mouth, and the finish rocks on for ages. I'm almost tempted to add a little water as I think a bit more will come out, maybe next time...

Oh, internet work tells me this was a Dalmore - which fits as I've liked other Dalmore's I've tried.


Links for Africa

A couple of links this morning. First up an interesting article by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Bass Communion, solo, etc etc) on albums he thinks could benefit from a surround sound mix. He's quite the uber-surround-mix go-to guy at the moment, his own stuff is superb, and the clarity on the King Crimson reissues is incredible. Red in particular is just magic...

And secondly a free album, but not just any album, one by the indie label 4AD with The Mountain Goats, M.Ward, The National, Camera Obscura etc., yeah bands I 'kinda' like :D

Love and hippiness, B

16 December 2009

Cooking with Bruce : Tomato and tamarind soup with cumin bread

I like hot spicy food, it's an excuse for beer. Mmm beer. So crack open a bottle, peruse the recipe, gather ingredients, open another bottle and cook.
Personally: this is one of the best soups I've ever made. It's based loosely on the Cuisine recipe of the same name, but I've pulled the raita and bumped up the spicing - actually I think I put more chilli in there than I list below. But I'm sure none of you follow recipes anyway...
The bread worked nicely with the soup, it's quite thick bread so soaks up soup nicely.

Cumin Bread
250ml of black coffee
75gm flour
2t fresh ground black pepper
2t cumin seeds
1t cumin ground
whisk and heat until thick and just boiling. 
Dump into mixing bowl and allow to cool, add:
1t dry instant yeast
1t salt
250-300gm flour
And mix to a smooth dough.
Cover, leave 10 mins, then knead on an oiled surface, repeat twice more and leave for 30 mins.
Dump into baking tin and leave to rise for 45mins, bake for 40mins at 200C (fan).

Tomato and Tamarind Soup
Dump into saucepan:
200gm tin tomatoes (ish)
about the same of chopped fresh tomatoes
3 cloves chopped garlic
5cm knob ginger, chopped
1T tamarind paste (or 1T dried, soaked in hot water and mashed up)
1.5T brown sugar
2t tumeric
1/2t salt
1t ground pepper
1t ish of chilli paste or fresh
900ml vege stock
Bring to boil, then simmer for 10 mins.

Fry some cumin seeds (1-2t) and mustard seeds (1t) until fragrant, then mix in more chilli. 

Mix the seeds through the soup, add a dollop of unsweetened yoghurt to the middle of it, serve.

Love, B

11 December 2009

The bells, the bells !!!

I had a look at my Last.FM page the other day and noticed I've passed the 40,000 track plays since I joined on the 3 October 2006. So it seemed reasonable to have a look at my play habits (no, not like that...).

Firstly, I do listen to most of my music via iTunes so unlike the Chicken, my Last.FM is a pretty accurate reflection of my listening habits. I am that sad that if I'm listening to vinyl and I've got the album on CD, I'll spin the ipod as well to keep things up to date. If anyone says OCD I will flounce, dramatically!

The top5 artists since I began scrobbling will come as no surprise to anyone:

  1. Marillion
  2. Tom Waits
  3. Porcupine Tree
  4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  5. Pineapple Thief
Actually I'm quite pleased the Thief got in there - certainly the band with the fewest number of albums in that top5. 

Apparently I've listened to 1410 different artists. That's quite a few. I blame compilation albums, and in particular my love of obscure funk albums. Yes, you heard me right, I love funk. 

The top5 albums is interesting and reflects what has been released since I joined Last.Fm rather than what my top5 albums actually are (Marillion : Afraid of Sunlight will always top this list, followed by Beethoven's or Schubert's 9th symphonies).
  1. Muse - Black Holes and Revelations
  2. Mew - And the glass handed kites  (ok, I utterly love this album, it's beautiful bonkers)
  3. Marillion - Happiness is the Road : Essence
  4. Marillion - Happiness is the Road : the Hard Shoulder
  5. The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
Nice to see the Weakerthans popping up tho, I am very partial to that album - fans of the 'Hip or earlier Snow Patrol should check them out.

Top5 tracks are not a massive surprise.
  1. Marillion - Afraid of Sunlight
  2. Marillion - King
  3. Porcupine Tree - Arriving Somewhere but not here
  4. Muse - Supermassive Black Hole
  5. Muse - Map of the Problemmatique
I did rather thrash Black Holes by Muse when it came out, but the top3 seem reasonable. 

I like that at numbers 20/21 of my favourite artists are Phoenix Foundation and Sam Flynn Scott. Heh, it's like there's a bias there :)

There ya go, a very rough n dirty breakdown of my listening habits. Should there be demand I can do a more indepth critique of it all, complete with what I'd say were my favourites as compared to Last.FM's perspective.


10 December 2009

Sometimes background reading is fun

I realise most of you don't read the Times Higher Education supplement, which is why I'm providing a service here. I do skim it to try and keep a vague grasp on the HE sector, and if for no other reason that some of their deliberately provocative articles are interesting.

then there are the updates. 


The week in higher education
10 December 2009
Scientists investigating the effects of pornography were stumped when they failed to find any 20-year-old men who had not already been exposed to X-rated material. The researchers, at the University of Montreal, hit a dead end when they put out a call for "porn virgins", it was reported on 2 December. Simon Louis Lajeunesse, who led the study, said: "We started our research seeking men in their twenties who had never consumed pornography. We couldn't find any." Despite the setback, the study went ahead, finding that single young men view pornography for an average of 40 minutes three times a week. Those in relationships watched it for an average of 20 minutes 1.7 times a week.

Love, B

9 December 2009

How one week can be improved by not being at work

Two days of work, followed by many days of drink and music. Yep i could get used to that.

Headed up north (or The North as the signs say) to Glasgow to see the wonderful PsychoChicken. Things started well at a pub, improved immeasurably at the next pub, and peaked at the chickens favourite, the Bon. I've been there a few times, and it's a great pub - although having bottles of Bowmore Black and White (or was it the Gold?) there could be a bad move. The Bowmore Black is around £2000, so I'm unlikely to get a bottle anytime soon.

But the reason we were meeting was to see Marillion on their Less is More tour. In all honesty, I don't like the album. I find it bland. The concept was to record an acoustic (ish) album where songs were stripped down or rearranged. What emerged was a disappointing album with arrangements that showed little originality or were unnecessarily complex. There's a strong element of 'sameness' through each of the tracks, and many end up sounding like the Beatles. I keep falling asleep during it, or can't remember when it's finished what I listened to - not a good sign. So it's fair to say I was heading up to see the Chicken, drink beer, and taste some whisky. Good thing I viewed it that way. The venue was crap, we were lucky to get a view of the band, but apparently most of the audience couldn't see them - for which the band, to their credit, have apologised and offered a free recording of the gig.
Music wise, the first half was the album, and live the songs don't really improve much. Atmosphere was ruined a bit by talking, but if you can't see the band...
Second half was a little better, a little more plugged in and a couple of stunning Rother's solos.
Certainly the worst performance I've seen by the band, and I wouldn't recommend catching this tour.
But the company and the beer was excellent.

Next evening we had the tragically hip one of the bands I've been into for sometime - and it seemed churlish not to head along since they, and I, were in the same city. The hip were well known as a college indie band during the 80s/90s, think Violent Femmes (ish) although being Canadian, there's more quirky to them than many of the US bands. A more contemporary Canadian group would be the Weakerthans, who I also like, again intelligent witty lyrics with good music. the venue was much better, The Garage, and we appeared to be surrounded by most of the Canadians currently domiciled in Scotland. More maple leaf flags than you could throw pancakes at. But by god did that band go off. Ok, by band, I mean the singer - the rest of them just stand there. But his stage presence is superb, and this was one of the gigs of the year. If you get the chance to see them, take it. Small complaint that the vocals got lost a bit, but the atmosphere more than made up for it.

Headed back home on the friday, then Mr S popped up on Saturday - or rather we met up in Leicester for the Pineapple Thief. This was at a small venue the Musician which we both liked. The support band, Left Below were really good, kind of a mix between Isis, Oceansize and Jakob - so yeah, I liked them :) And the Thief? It's the second time I've seen them, and I cannot believe how tight they are live. And how good they are. It really is a crime this band are not better known, although to an extent they have themselves to blame as their gigging up to a year or two ago could be counted on one hand, but with a bit of label support behind them they are turning up to play live. Music-wise, fans of Elbow, Coldplay, Keane, ie. the British navel gazer fan-brigade, should check them out.
The new songs, which they played three, were a reasonable continuation of where they've been headed. The first sounded very much like Everything Must Go era Manic Street Preachers. The other two were more pineapple thief-ish, but sounded great.

the evening was rounded off with some reasonably good food - high chilli content, but certainly better than crud I've here in Lboro.

Huzzah to music! Whisky review likely to follow at some point soon.


30 November 2009

Musings from the damp island

It's been an eventful time with my harddrive deciding to develop issues, nothing drastic and I'd done a recent backup, so I don't think I've lost anything. I had a couple of files I'd edited, but couldn't recover the new version of, but meh I'll cope. So I replaced it with a bigger faster one, and damnit, getting to the harddrive in a MacBook Pro is a nightmare. But I managed it, and did a clean install of everything before moving stuff from the old one with a a SATA<-> USB adapter. Yes, much excitement all round.

The big thing last week was that I grabbed a minion and we moved the other half of the couch upstairs, so we've now got a fully functional couch which does couch things. I celebrated this over the weekend by watching three games of rugby, drinking some beer and eating food. And then WWE Survivor series on Sunday, awesome.

I am not thrilled with living in a country where the number 1 selling album is Susan Boyle. I dreamed a dream? FFS, let's hope she gets what happened to the last guy who wittered (twittered?) on about dreams.
Too soon? Hope not.
But in this countries defense, there are some good things. Ok the TV is largely crap, but curling up with a very nice paneer curry, a 2007 Gamay from Park Estate to watch Antiques Roadshow and Top Gear is a good thing.

Off to see Marillion, Tragically Hip and Pineapple Thief this week, and I'm only at work for two days - huzzah. Might manage to fit some beer and scotch in there too.


29 November 2009

Cooking with Bruce : Christmas Pudding

Since there has been some demand for this, I've put on the coffee, watching WWE Survivor Series, and have codified my Xmas Pud recipe.

Note the second bottle of stout is essential, and should be drunk so the left-over from the mix stout can be drunk.

Bruce’s Christmas Pudding

250gm sultanas
250gm currants
250gm raisins
150gm mixed peel
50gm almonds
50gm other nuts lying around
250ml stout
150gm glace cherries chopped
100gm chopped dates
juice of a lemon
juice and peel of a lemon
1/2c brandy
1/2c port
1 small apple peeled and chopped

Open second can of stout, pour into glass, drink.
Mix all and leave overnight in the fridge, or longer if you’re lazy (I am).

Mix together and add to fruit:
300gm brown sugar (or demarara if available)
200gm unsalted butter

3 eggs (beaten)

200gm suet
200gm self raising flour
120gm breadcrumbs
1t cinnamon
1t nutmeg
1t mixed spice

Mix. Add to well greased bowls and steam for about 4-5 hours until the colour goes dark. Makes 2 medium and 1 small puddings.

Love and puddings, B

24 November 2009


first email I read this morning was this, huzzah for misdirected emails!

1.       Working Bee/ Replacement of electrical wiring: The wiring for the irrigation system has now arrived. Roy would like a working bee for next Monday (30th November) at 10.00 am to replace the current wiring. We need at least 12 people with spades/shovels to dig the sand out of the ditches so that the new wiring can be laid. A notice is on the white board at the Club but it would also be appreciated if each of you can notify any members you see who might be available on that Monday. Thanks for your support.

2.       Greens usage:   Roy has advised the Club of an incident lately which is of concern. On Sunday (22/11) the greens were closed due to excessive dampness of the greens. The status of all the greens on the availability board was changed to CLOSED.  When the greens’ staff returned on the afternoon of the 22nd someone had changed the status to open and it was obvious that B green had been used. This is unacceptable and detrimental to good management of the greens. Members are requested to respect the guidelines laid down by the Greens’ Staff so that we may continue to play on greens that are up there with the best in the state.

Those damn bowlers, flipping status boards!! It's armageddon!! Ooohhh maybe some def lep this mornign...

love, B

21 November 2009


Huzzah the blackness, sitting in an English pub with 30+ English supporters, 2 kiwis, and a rather intense test match - not helped by Dan's decision to make life more equal by missing kicks...damn you bloody socialist!
Thought it was a good test match, tense - it was marred by too many mistakes - by both teams. I thought the English did a good job when they kept it in tight - their forward pack certainly stood up for this match. But the problem with teams playing NZ is the sheer speed of their counter attack. They don't need a 5 minute buildup to score, they need broken play and 30s. The brilliance of Richies pass earned him man of the match, and that's ignoring what a blinder he had for the rest of the match.
Unfortunately the English backline wasn't getting the best ball, and didn't seem very organised when they were on attack - but they were attacking which I guess is a step forward.

So we headed home for the Scotland v Aussie game - I was supporting the Scottish out of a sense of blind optimism and love of the spirit. Crickey, what a test. The Scottish defence was superb, an excellent example of dedication and focus - their team doesn't seem to have 'stars' (in the Dan or Richie sense), but as a team, that was an almost perfect example of teamplay. Aussie had, what 70% of ball? maybe more, and yet they couldn't get through. A dour attacking team Scotland maybe, but they were focussed, and throughly deserved that win. Bloody tense last 5 minutes tho. Was this the rebirth of Scottish rugby? It would be nice to think so...

me x

20 November 2009

Music for mornings

I was catching up on my steel mill viewings via youtube this morning, and decided I liked this song the bestest (option 2 was Fear Factory : Bite the hand that feeds).
So today, you get Danzig. I should really get some...

19 November 2009

Cooking with Bruce

Continuing the occasional series of Cooking with Bruce, this time more Italian. I like Italian for the simplicity, speed, and focus on a limited number of ingredients - to emphasise the flavours from each of them.

Tues night I'd gone for an over the top Macaroni cheese, like utterly over the top. Cream, buffalo mozzarella, more cheese, some more cheese, superb. Although I felt a little, well ok a lot, bloated by the end of it.

Last night I went for simplicity, a fettucine and ricotta dish. It was derived from this, but due to my usual cooking style this is what it actually was:
Fettucine - although I didn't quite cook it for long enough which I spanked myself over later

Cook three shallots in about 2T olive oil with chilli and medium heat until nice and soft, dump in some pinenuts to soften them, throw in 200gm (or however much you've got) ricotta, salt, pepper, squeeze juice from half a lemon. Throw in cooked fettucine, serve with parmesan.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Me x

14 November 2009

I'm trying to fit in

I'm watching the England v Brazil match (football / soccer).

Sadly for the 22 men on the pitch, they failed to hold my attention as much as Steve Hackett's new album "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth". Which is a little unfair to Steve, as it is a brilliant album. A goal in the football happened about 50mins into the game. That's been about it.
I can see why you'd drink while watching it, there's very little else to do.

I'll keep trying, but I think my football watching days are few and far between - FA Cup finals, and World Cup's is about it I suspect. The Brazilian fans are good to look at, although the camera men aren't as good as the cricket ones. They seem to think the viewers want to watch the match. Pah.

I've moved onto Pendragon's Concerto Maximo (disk 1), which is fun and rocky - and a good reminder of how much fun they were live at Summer's End. But the football has a better chance against them.
This match appears to be a friendly as there's an absence of too many hollywood's. Hmmm maybe I should investigate dinner instead.


13 November 2009

Justin, Journey and Rick

I'm sure at some point this weekend I'll blog more about the UK, it's about time since I've been in the job for a few months...

I was wandering in this morning to the sweet sounds of Justin Timberlake (yes I like him, piss off), and through apathy couldn't be bothered scrolling too far so went for Journey. Ahhh my god it's crap, but such feel good crap. Lyrically, makes prog look good. Well kinda. Ok I gave up after 5 songs, as that's about my limit from the Best-Of, and I wouldn't buy any other album. But fun!!!
So fun in fact, here's a video:

So where does Rick fit into this, and which Rick? Well I do rather like both obvious choices, Wakeman and Astley, so this news item has now done the rounds in the office.

Love, B

10 November 2009

Old Tom

this one is pure unabashed old school reminiscing. We loved this skit as kids, and I was reminded of it the other day when our contractors mentioned they wanted to start a Help page for student PCs - their manager said he was going to call it after their head tech - Tom.
So R and J, bring back the memories...

Ahhh brilliant stuff!

6 November 2009

OMG like free rugby!

hunting around for a what pub would show the NZ v Wales match, I found that rugby - like test match rugger - is free on BBC here. Feckin' A !!

So I'm off tomorrow to stock up on food n booze and then settling in for the Wales match, and then the Aussie v England one. Both with alt commentary.


and go Wellington, kick those sick one eyed bastards,

Love, B

5 November 2009

Whisky: Kilchoman and SMWS

Kilchoman 3yo

Colour: light, straw
Nose: salt, hint of lemon, linament
palate: aniseed, honey, thick (really thick!), sweet, salty aftertaste
finish: medium, salt heat builds near the end and stays, altho kinda empty.

It's a shame this is 46%. Is it a callous attempt to cash in on the hype by bottling more at a lower percentage? I'm wondering if it is, this whisky promises masses and generally delivers, but as a purist I'm left wondering what they've knocked out by diluting. The 2yo and the 1month old new spirits were divine. This is good, but not superb, having said that, it grows on the palate and the honey flavours really come through the more you taste. It is imminently drinkable, and at 35 pounds, a bargain. I think the 16yo lagavulin is better - maybe - but this is certainly better than the BL Rocks. Of the lower percentage Islay's I've had.

SMWS 122.18
I recently joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and as part of their joining pack you receive four small (100ml) bottles. I've just opened the first one, 122.18 Oranges in a coal cellar, a 16yo 57.1% cask.

colour: light gold
Nose: vanilla, salt, citrus
Palate: odd, very odd. Manuka honey, sweet - toffee flavour, quite treacly texture as well.
Finish: warm and lingering, more of the manuka honey, medium length, but some pepper becomes evident later on.

A beautifully balanced whisky, even tho the nose doesn't fit the palate or finish. It's complex, yet reasonably light to drink. Region, hmm I'd guess Highland/Speyside, although it's a bit light for a Highland?  I'd give this one a 10. Honestly, it's superb.
A bit of google work (well ok, it's bookmarked) says this was from Croftengea, the Loch Lomond distillery. Which is a Highland malt. Mmm interesting, and very very tasty. Sadly no more bottles left at the SMWS.

SMWS 28.19

Colour: very pale
Nose: vanilla, very sweet, honey?
Palate: sweet and salty, unripe grapes, heather
Finish: salt increases, strong, and very long, peppery hints increase.

It's no-where near as complex as the one above, and by taste I'd suggest there's a strong coastal aspect. I'm not sure it's an Islay, possibly a bit further up? I only say that cos of the honey flavours.
Not as fascinating as the other, so I'm giving it a 8/10.
So what is it? Ooohhh a Laphroaig, so yes to an Islay, but quite different to other Laphroaig's I've had - and that's the honey.

Love, B

Reasons to still be in science

Articles such as this one:
Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time
Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang, Libiao Zhang

Who knew eh?

2 November 2009

Twitter - saviour or sinner?

Twitter was launched with very little idea what it was, what it hoped to become, or indeed how to use it. The concept of sending 140 character updates to friends, relatives, stalkers etc., was generally derided as 'something for the young'. In the same way text speak is derided by people who don't text.

This didn't stop Twitter. And one of the selling points was that anyone could sign up to receive your tweets, absolute strangers could hear what you had for breakfast, and why the dog decided to rub mud into your best jersey. Or, if you believe the nay-sayers, why XXX was like a total bitch on Saturday and you'll like never talk to her again.

Twitter began to get more interesting during the Iranian elections, and subsequent protests over the legitimacy of them. The mass protests and information from the left-wing bodies was co-ordinated and disseminated using twitter, proving mass information could be delivered quickly and cheaply. The other advantage was the ability of Twitter to 'tag' similar information, so that even if some users were shut down, others could continue the message.
All well and good, and indeed a good example of grass roots democracy.
Not so good was watching US senators tweeting during debates. I think, if I were American, I'd like my elected representatives to be paying a little more attention to what I'd elected them to do.

But the point of this blog are two recent incidents of twittersphere. One, the breaking down of the injunction from Trafigura on reporting their rather dodgy behaviour when 'disposing' of dangerous chemicals. The Guardian was blocked from reporting who put the injunction in, what the gag was about, who asked the question - everything relevant to the topic. Tweeters found out the info by looking through reports, and disseminated all the info - and Private Eye published it. This proves to be an excellent demonstration of how democracy should work, as the injunction was not in the public interest.
The other example is the Daily Mail's column about Stephen Gately by Jan Moir (summary here), where she managed to piss off a large number of people. This number was increased by tweets and indeed a focus to 'trend' her as one of the days most tweeted topics. Which was successful, leading to many more complaints including threats and publishing her home address.
Not such a great example of democracy.

I find both these examples concerning. Although on the surface the first one is a good example of democracy in action, both of them are, in essence, rapid mobs. People do not stop to consider things, and will generally follow like sheep if (A) says 'this is bad, tell everyone' then most people if they have some form of interest/relationship with (A) will do what they say. This rapidly leads to mob action and the more people, the more inclusive, the more they feel 'righteous'. That's not democracy, that's gang thinking. Or to keep it local, football hooligan mentality.
I have no idea what can be done to solve this, and it's not simply a case of asking people to think before they tweet, or getting those with hundreds of followers to consider implications. As that just won't work. People when annoyed won't think - but that sets off chain reactions.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm very concerned at the uncontrolled power of twitter.


31 October 2009

An odd day ending well

Been unpacking most of the day, then groceries so starvation was avoided. This included som large bottles of lager for Halloween horror DVD viewing.
Mmm beer n drunkeness, lesbian vampire hunters (love that movie), cloverfield (load of crap avoid at all costs), and now Friday 13th part 1. I have suspiria for later to add both prog n class to the proceedings. This has been tricky with drink n iPhone so I'm off for vodka :)

love b

20 October 2009

Things wot I have learned

My time here hasn't all been music and work, no sirree bob, I've like learnt stuff.
Here's part 1 of a probably occasional series on the Locals.

Beer teaches me things
While proggin' it down in the forest of dean, the beer at the venue was Freeminer. I just drank it and thought, odd name. Following a visit to the museum all was revealed. Once you'd done a year and a day underground in the Forest of Dean, you'd be granted the right to have a personal plot. I've even found it on wiki, and more importantly the FreeMiner brewery history. The website also explains why there are sheep all over the place roaming free-range, another 'right' of the foresters. Fascinating stuff! Oh and you should check out their range of beers, I might get some for the names alone...

Mi duck
Old people here say stuff and end with 'mi duck', or rather as it sounds 'me duck'. actually with the absence of teeth on many of them, it's hard to say WTF they are saying. I asked around the office and no-one knew why, they just said 'its what they say around here'. According to wiki, it's thought to derive from Anglo Saxon 'Duka' meaning My Duke.

I thought there was something else, but meh, it's gone now.

Love, B

18 October 2009

I'm not sure how to describe this video

Other than it's beautiful. And odd.
Musically: Arcade Fire? Anathema? Maybe Waits?

When ads don't work

Watching Meshuggah - Bleed on youtube and an ad to buy Seasick Steve's new album pops up.

16 October 2009

This could be a fun game

Run into a department store, scream I've won the lottery and will cover $500 for everyone! 

Then disappear while a riot starts as customers 'want their free stuff'.

Ahhh America, bless.

love, me.

14 October 2009

Summers End, Prog it, Prog it real good

The Chicken emailed sometime ago and said, let's prog it at the Summers End festival. Seeing that Steve Hackett and Pallas were playing, I said yes. And promptly forgot (mostly) about it all.
I did get around to booking a car and the Summers End Prog Bus to get us from the B and B (also booked) to the venue and back again. This showed remarkable organisation, which I can largely blame on the Chicken who provided links... He also said we'd be wearing capes, I just said yes as it seemed easier and being prog, it made sense.
Getting to the Forest of Dean  was a bit of a mission, and I now officially hate googlemaps directions. They make life very very difficult, and altho working nicely for most of the journey, then decided B roads were where its at. Consequently it took 3.5-4 hours to get there, and just over 2 to get back (where we ditched google and used an old fashioned paper thing called a 'map' bound in a 'book'). Annoyingly the pub next door to the B and B, and the pub down the road were both closed, not opening to 630 on a Friday night seemed wrong, very wrong. While wandering around for food, we met up with PsychoChicken and Al who probably needs a nickname, and I suspect Terry will do for now.

We found another pub which was open and commenced beering. Mmm beer.

Steve Hackett I'm a recent convert to Hackett era Genesis, 'twas the remasters that dun it. As such I didn't have any of SH's back catalogue so went into the gig pretty open. And he blew me away. I think most people know he can play guitar, but may be unaware of how diverse he is. Everything from hardcore prog, classical, avante-garde jazz, even metal. This gig totally sold me on Hackett. He's stunning, and his support band were brilliant - totally in tune with where-ever he went. The one over-riding aspect of all his music is tune, he understands that prog only works with a good tune (as does all music, but particularly if you're heading over the 5 min mark!). I bought the Tokyo Tapes - a gig in, surprisingly, Tokyo, from a few years ago. And on the strength of the track from the new album we heard, I'll be getting that too.
I think S enjoyed bits of it, and if you weren't a fan it was certainly diverse enough to find something you liked. PsychoChicken, Terry and I thought it was fantastic. PC had been waiting for quite a few years to see SH...
Beer was consumed. Then some whisky, worlds ills were fixed. Great night !

Bright and early we found ourselves in Lydney, walked the main street, walked back again. Found a pub. Mmm beer.
First up were Godsticks from Wales. I'd picked up their EP some months ago as it was a) cheap and b) good. Seemed very nervous, but settled down and seemed to be having a great time on stage. Really funny self-deprecating line in humour too - after one song crashed and burned, they told the audience not to clap. Fun times, good band, and definitely one to watch. Review that got me to buy the EP is here. Thoroughly enjoyed this gig.
Quantum Fatay were a very professional sounding band from Belgium. PC described them as a focussed Ozric Tentacles, which seems as good a description as any. I got a fair amount of Goblin from them as well, although a bit harder than both the Ozric's and Goblin. Thoroughly enjoyed the gig, but decided I had enough of that style so didn't buy any. Would go again if they were touring - and the vibe was great, the band were having fun on stage whcih came through in the music.
Parallel or 90 Degrees are a band I'd heard the 2CD best of thanks to PC and the inter-hemisphere CD shipping co-op. Andy Tillson is the main bod behind the band, although Po90 had been put on hold for a few years while his other interests, including Tangent, were developed. I'd already picked up the new album (Jitters) which was for sale at the venue, so was looking forward to seeing them live. Unfortunately they weren't very good. Tillson's voice was annoying, although it sounds quite different on the albums. Odd. He's also not very organised on stage and I found him quite distracting between songs. Having said that, the music was superb if you discounted his voice. Quite political lyrics, which generally I think don't work too well - and in places Po90's feel quite forced. Hard to say what they sound like, I think a generic musical-prog/genesis is the best description - good tunes, and can get quite heavy in places. Worth checking out a CD.

RPWL are a band I've tried to like. I have their second album, I've listened to a lot of them on Franz's radio show. Everyone else seems to think I'd like them - rock based prog. But they leave me cold. Having said that, I wanted to hear them live as that often makes a difference, and as the secondary headliner for the day we figured they'd have a good crowd and stage show. They did, but I was still left cold. Their music seems to have little in the way of tune to it, and they are taking themselves far too seriously. One aspect of prog is that it has inherent silliness - whcih the other bands on Sat all understood. RPWL are all technically gifted musicians, but unlike, say, Dream Theatre, they don't know how to hold the tune. The rest of the crowd seemed keen, but our merry band of prog crusaders got bored four tracks in and headed back to the pub.

Scottish proggers Pallas have been around for years, one of the 80s neo-prog crowd. I got hooked on last years 'Dreams of Men' which was an excellent album, full of riffs, good lyrics, tunes, good musicianship, and the vocalist is pretty damn good - if pixie like to the large guitarists. My first chance to see them live, and damn they were good. Big slap to the head for their soundman who mixed everything upto 11, annoying asthe festivals soundguy had been doing a great job. Great to hear some of my favourite tracks live including GhostDancers, and some preview tracks from the forthcoming album. Well worth their headlining position.

We'd decided not so much booze on Sunday, but that didnt stop us suggesting we'd have some in the afternoon. Mmm beer.
First up were I/O Earth who were musically good, and seemed more like a jazz band playing prog. Not a million miles apart those genres anyway. It was interesting hearing a sax in a prog band, but the female vocals didn't do much for me. Apparently she was covering for the normal lead singer who was off somewhere - had a good voice, but nothing incredible. I got a bit bored during their set and decided not to buy anything. I'll keep an eye out for new stuff from them, as it was excellent in places. I'm not a huge fan of female fronted bands - I've ranted before about lady-metal...also too many guitar solos
Mr So and So I'd heard their original, or at least an early, album - produced by Steve Rothery. And hadn't thought much of it, so never bought it. Apparently they split up and have recently reformed. Not sure why they bothered. Basically they play southern rock but make it unnecessarily complicated. If I want southern rock, I've got plenty of it and played well, if I want complicated music, I've got plenty of that too. File under could do better.
Also Eden, the band of one of the event organisers. Good musicians, although the singer (and organiser!) was flat for most of the gig which detracted hugely. Lyrically the usual slightly dire middle of the road prog stuff. A few FFS moments, suggesting they were worse than some in the weekend. Not going to buy anything, and probably won't keep track of them. Although slightly better than RPWL :D

Karnataka, I owe an apology to HippyDave here. As I've said I don't like female fronted rock bands much, so tend to diss the entire genre. Dave's mentioned a few times I should give Karnataka a shot, and I've ignored him. PC felt the same as me, but heard some stuff of theirs and thought it was good, so the trinity and hanger-on S turned up for the gig. Wow. Blew me away, great musicianship, great singing, kinda folk-prog? err how does one describe them. Definitely buying the new album when it's out. Their lead singer liked our capes too.

To Cape or not to cape, that is the prog.
We'd decided that the capes should be revealed for the final show on Sunday. Crickey they were superb capes - top marks to our cape maker ! Gold lamee, fully lined, stiff collar - wonderful stuff.

They caused a stir.

One point we'd all noticed was an absence of interaction between the fans, we were used to marillion conventions where everyone chats. this lot tended to look like the sad ass loser kids you'd beat up at school. Not entirely tongue in cheek, but you could see some of this lot either blowing up schools or falling into prog - and their parents beside themselves at option (2).

Our capes got them talking, strangers came up and spoke to us. All asking 'why'. Thanks to Terry and PC we had an answer: there's not enough capes in prog these days. Bring back the cape. As mentioned the singer for Karnataka enjoyed them, as did their guitarist, Clive Nolan seemed to smile when staring at us from stage, as did Nick Barratt - and the other organiser of the festival thought they looked good. So all in all, result.

Pendragon headlined Sunday night. They've had great reviews of the new album 'Pure' and on the strength of those I'd got PC to pick me up a copy, although I'd only had a chance to listen to it once. Live they were brilliant, certainly knew how work the audience - helped as their fans appear to be utter nutjobs. Charles Manson might have suggested they hold back a bit. Very loud, very rock, and very enjoyable. Good use of images/movies as back projection. Nick's voice was pretty crappy as he had a cold, but it worked. And his guitaring was excellent, it's not as dominant as some bands, making this more enjoyable than some prog bands who go sing, guitar, drum, sing - repeat. Live, the band are much heavier than on the album, which sounds great, and its unfortunate the album isn't as heavy sounding. Clive on the keys seemed quite restrained, bored even, guess thats why he has all the cheesy other prog groups (he's the cause of Arena...). Great rock with a prog tinge. I'd definitely recommend checking out Pure if you like rock, actually if you liked the last GnR album (Chinese Democracy) I can see Pure going down quite well. Even S said she liked it.

Sadly we had to skip the encores as we had a long drive ahead (it was 11pm !), but it looks like I'll be spending some money on Pendragon too. Damnit.
Lovely area around Lydney and the Forest of Dean too, we went to a museum of the area on Sunday morning after brekkie and before proggie, very quiet, green, tranquil and pretty (the area, not the prog). Well worth visiting, and the beer in this area of the world is superb.

Really enjoyed the bands and the festival, the three (and occasional 4) of us had a great time. Much beer, much hilarity - well it is prog, and I think we'll be onboard for next year. Although our outfits need to be bigger, better, more prog - since our feeling is, everyone will be wearing capes next year.
Discussions with DH and the LP have suggested a disco-prog fusion maybe the way to go...

Prog out bruvva's, me xx

7 October 2009

Movies: Invention of Lying

I promise this will be a shorter post.

The new Ricky Gervais movie, now I'm not a big fan to start with. Didn't like the office much, found Extras ok, and think his stand-up is mildly irritating. Not a good start for going to the movie, but hey nothing else on and the reviews I'd seen had mostly been positive.
Yeah not so much. I found it a one-trick-pony, interesting premise, kinda funny start, then tails off as the sinking feeling of oh god we've only got this one punchline and another 90 mins to fill starts to kick in.
There are some excellent scenes, the pizza boxes doubling as Moses' tablets, and that the entirety of christian religion being based on a bunch of lies to make people feel good was funny and well done. Interestingly the religious bods haven't complained about this, given how blatant it is in the movie I'd have expected a few more howls of protest.

It does drag, it's not very funny and if you have to watch it I'd suggest DVD. 5/10. At most. And only cos i've just had lunch and am feeling relaxed.


6 October 2009

The British Service Industry

This has been coming for some time. I need to rant. I need to rant about the British service industry. Or rather, I need to rant about how the British need a service industry.
I can't say I didn't expect problems, I'd been warned, and over the years I've experienced it. But, the problems keep coming and coming and coming…

Before the problems, there have been some highlights. Curry's delivered the washing machine the next day - and that was a bank holiday. Go them. I've been back and bought other things from them, and am likely to again based on that. HMV and Amazon have always been good, but then in many ways, they are significantly different being international and dependent (largely) on internet based business.
RicherSounds, wehre I got the TV and stereo were also great. Nice service, good equipment, and quick delivery. Result.

Banks: HSBC are cocks. Continually changing the position of the goal posts, we need this, we need that - I provide them, they want more. The concept of a postal address differing from the home address appears an anathema to them. So in the end I said I'd take my salary, told them what it was, and find somewhere that did want it.
Opened to Abbey with 'I'm very pissed off at the moment, having been given the run around at HSBC, are you going to do the same?'. Took 10 minutes to sort out an account.

Phone and Internet. Now this is where the anger is likely to explode. I ring Virgin and say I want cable as their website had spat the dummy at the credit history check. So we go through all of the steps over the phone, eventually finding that this place is too new. That warrants repeating, too new. Apparently Virgin cabled before this place was converted, and Virgin no-longer do cabling.
Now that I could almost accept. So I said fine, hook me up with a phone line (which I didn't want) and internet. So we go through the same stuff. Eventually they decide my credit rating is poor so they can't do it.
End of story.
I questioned this, pointing out quite reasonably that having not being in the country I couldn't really have a credit history, and surely if the bank and a tenancy agency (more about them later), were ok, surely a cheap internet company could cope too. No, there was no way they could do anything at all.

Fine. Next up was Sky. Went through the website, also crashed at the credit check, so I rang them (twice) and ended up with the same result (twice). Sorry can't do anything, at all, as you don't have a credit history.

Now, for those of you playing at home it's worth pointing out that there are only three companies here who can set up the phone (afaik), BT, Sky and Virgin. Although there are innumerable internet providers.
So although I didn't want to deal with BT, I didn't have a lot of options - so went through the internet options, and voila, failed that too. So rang them, got cut off. Rang back, went through questions, no I really don't want your TV package - well it doesn't show rugby, yes I know it shows classic rugby, but I really don't want that - credit check - failed. Sorry.
Oh for fucks sake.
Ring back the next day, get a different guy who, before we get to the credit check section, wants me to be ringing from the flat so they can tell what the phone number is. I point out that the reason I'm ringing is to get a phone line. The irony escapes him.
In an effort to be helpful (bear in mind, this is me - helpful is not an adjective I like), I wander down to our phone people at work, explain my problem - to much hilarity (as I also received in my office), but grabbed a phone from them. So I tried to ring BT, I could dial 8 of the 10 numbers (0800 800 150), but after the '1' it would cut to some annoying bitch saying 'i'm sorry this call cannot be connected, please check your number'. You're sorry? How the fuck do you think I feel !

So I ring them back today, I warned my officemates I'd be ringing BT and if I started going postal, to leave quickly. Bravely they hung around, I'd like to think it was for support, but suspect it was more for amusement.
I got someone else (ahhh call centres), who pushed through the credit check, said, nah seems ok, and set stuff up. Said he could trace the number and see the line was active, so that was ok - and that I should have a phone line by the 17th, and internet by the 22nd. I'm doubtful of both, but hope springs eternal.

The Lesson? Well apparently BT need to be convinced that you really want a phone line, that they aren't providing a service, rather they have something you need, and therefore you should be pathetically grateful if they deign to give it to you. I have no idea how the other companies survive.

Beds: I've already mentioned that one - two feckin' weeks to deliver a mattress? Figure they have a huge supply over easter, forgetting everyone who is anyone, sleeps on hay …
However it was delivered this morning, and it feels nice. Very nice. Certainly a huge improvement over the aired (or optimistically titled futon for grandiose designs, if blatant lies).

At least the bed base people said it would take six weeks, cos they are making it from scratch.

What else? Oh yeah tenancy, the letting agents were nice and friendly, although hardly efficient. Just received the inventory today or fittings and noted damage to the flat, two weeks after moving in. Must check that tomorrow night. They subcontract out their credit check. I filled in the app and specifically noted in the section titled 'special notes', please bear in mind the time difference if you are ringing NZ. They didn't. I've put a complaint in about that, but doubt I'll hear anything back.

Power: letting agents did ring through the initial readings, which I've just found out from the inventory they've finally sent. Had a good chat to a guy over doing readings for someone else - he was swearing about his companies inability to get things done. Funny times.
Having said that, it was reasonably easy to set up over the phone and internet, so we'll see how that goes. It's bound to end badly…
Water: I posted something off to them last week, haven't heard back. Don't care much. Got too many other idiots to deal with.

I did have a lovely dinner (spinach, feta, olive pies) washed down by some Old Speckled Hen, and listening to Queen doing blues, while lying on a nice new mattress.

More later me thinks...

Returning some days later. The phone wasn't connected, although I'd presumed it was, and the internet therefore is not well. Daily phone calls have occurred which have meant I have identified the main phone plug in the house (weirdly in the spare bedroom), and undone the face plate to try the test socket. Still nothing. I appear to have reached resigned, and given up hope that phone or internet will ever reach here. Tomorrow mornings phone call will update BT on my continuing 'fault', and I think I'll try to contact their Service Manager. That could be funny. As I'm well aware I can parrot the same lines he will, and therefore should be able to cut him off in mid-flow. That's likely to cheer me up.

In the end I couldn’t get thru to their SM, I suspect they don’t have one. I got a technician out, who arrived a day early said it was fixed and closed the call. So I went home all excited to find no internet and no phone. Rang back, tech came out again, same result.
Rang BT again and said I want the tech to ring my door bell so I can show him how he hasn’t fixed the problem. He came out said oh it’s a ghost line (which ironically I’d mentioned in my earlier conversations with their answer desk), and fixed it within 20 mins.
So now I have internet. And a phone.

Orange: we seem to have sorted out our respective differences involving internet settings and charging based on free sites. Their network settings on the website are wrong – which they admitted – and I’ve had a refund.

I suspect the next blog will be shorter, and hopefully more positive.