31 August 2009


Probably time for some movie reviews too. Just brief ones since I'm chilling out on a bank holiday monday, which I've decided are good things :D

It's been a busy day, I've sorted out the hot water, installed a washing machine (and now using it), sent a lot of emails, bought some stuff I needed (shirts etc.), listed LPs on ebay, tidied up lots of papers, oh i'm such a domestic goddess.

Now watching Bad Biology, with the opening line of 'i was born with seven clits'. Worth watching a bit longer for that alone.

District 9 : go see it. It's superb. An action movie which is intelligent, and lets the viewer think. Explosions, aliens, racism, apatheid. One of the years best movies.

The soloist : was on the plane on the way over. Jamie Foxx, Robert Downey jnr. So it's worth watching for Downey Jnr, Foxx is as usual horribly overrated. It's pretty generic, reporter (RD Jnr) finds ex-Juilliard musician living on the streets, makes friends, tries to save him. Yawn. Nothing stunning there. Script is a bit better than you'd expect, but over-all it doesn't transcend generic.

Time Travellers Wife: meh, interesting concept, but badly scripted and didn't really hang together. Doesn't help that I think Eric Bana is the worst choice for a leading man, he's got no screen presence - at all. Had I known he was in it, I'd have protested more. Storyline jumps too much without any real hook to hold it together, also felt the director/script writers didn't know who they wanted to focus on, Bana or the wife. Which caused the general confusion within the script. It did start off well tho'. Go see if there's nothing else.

Tokyo Gore Police : oh this was superb. Just go see it. Wonderfully wacky and violent, and funny, and awesome.

Righto, back to chilling out, might go get a beer...mmm badger :)

love, me

Week 1

One week in the green and pleasant land...

Firstly, apologies for the lack of emails etc over the last week, it's been hectic and internet access has been patchy. So here's a long-ish summary of what we've been up to.

flight over was good, excellent food, comfortable chairs, slept a fair amount, did some shopping (booze, cigars, after shave). Had some nice port and blue cheese...

Arrived last Sat and breezed through customs, apparently 2pm on a Sat is quiet time in Heathrow terminal 1. And it's still horribly scungy and involves lots of walking everywhere. Met S and headed to the tube where I discovered my Oyster had about 10 quid left on it so we rocked down and caught the train into Kings Cross/St Pancras (I'm throwing all the names in, not for any trainspottery reasons, but for those of you playing at home can follow along....), where we caught a train to Loughborough.

I was, by this time, rather fragrant. A quick stop in the trains WC led to a superman like clothing change (well t-shirt anyway), and a deep and meaningful exploration of deoderant and aftershave. Huzzah.

Loughborough is, depending on the train one catches, between 80-110 minutes from London. This was the 80 minute version. Caught a taxi to the hotel in Quorn. A lovely wee village about 4 miles out of Loughborough city. After showering and getting changed, I found a pub. With good beer. And the Ashes on. Great start to the week.

Speaking of the Ashes, OMG how much feckin coverage do you need? anyone would think this was the best English team ever (it's not), and that the Aussies were a superb team (they ain't). It went on for days...

Sunday, not much to report, mooched around, went for a walk, relaxed. Found beer.

Monday, headed into Lougborough. This was an experience, and not necessarily a good one. In retrospect it appears Monday may be benefit day, the bus was full of the aged and infirm. Nearest point of comparison would be League of Gentlemen or Village of the Damned. Not pleasant.

Since Monday I've changed my mind, the city is far more city of the teenage mother. Everywhere. Judging by their appearance, this place has a drink problem.

As I was suffering coffee withdrawl by this point, we wandered around but could only find (insert appropriate bad words here), Costa's. Having been scared at that concept, I should say their double-espresso was ok. Not great, but quite drinkable. Wandered around estate agents and made appointments to see places on Tues and Wednesday.

For those of you who pointed out that Loughborough, size-wise, was similar to Palmerston North and then laughed - yeah it is, even feels like it. I'm consoling myself that L'b has better beer, and is near London. Coffee/brunch-wise, we've found nothing. I have a plunger now, but it's not good. I'll be looking at getting beans sent up from Monmouth I think. Will look into that soonish, next time I'm in london, or on the web. Whichever comes first.

Drank more beer.

Tuesday found us wandering around flats. Yawn. Saw four in the morning. First was a moderately dire flat in the student area. Scratch that one. Second looked like owners grandmother had died there and they'd let it out as is. Very very ugly wallpaper, carpet, decorations. Cut that one. Third was nicer, and a strong possibility. Fourth had a lovely wooden floor but absolutely crap access. Scratch that one.

Afternoon saw us in Shepshed (hopefully I've put in links here), which is above loughborough (Quorn is below it). One of the places was a converted 19th C. mill - into apartments, really nice airy, clean, dry, warm. And the other was a lovely 17th C cottage which had been nicely renovated. Not a lot of room in the lounge for movies, but awesome kitchen. Filled in application for form the mill one - and to pre-empt the story, have moved in. Moved in seems a bit of a misnomer, given all of my stuff is on a boat. But meh.

Beer to celebrate.

Wednesday: wandering around looking for essentials (bed, frypan, saucepan, some crockery...). Drank beer, cos it was there.

Thursday: headed down to Leicester to continue the shopping expeditions, nothing very exciting down there either. But they do at least have a CD shop. L'b seems to be lacking one. Oh well, online ordering for me then.

Got decidedly pissed off with the British service industry. it appears even I may be more service orientated than them. No really. It's shocking. I stormed out of a bed shop when they said it would take 10-12 days to get it, tried another one and got the same story. I mean WTF? It's a feckin' bed, it's hardly going to be a surprise for a country of 61 million that people will need a bed ! FFS.

Then opening a bank account, HSBC wanted types of ID, yeah ok, then a copy of bill with my physical address. They didn't seem to be able to cope with with "but i never used the physical address, all bills which weren't online went to the pobox". got pissy with them too. I ended with "Well I'll take my salary, XXXXX pounds, and find someone else who wants it". Went to the next bank down the road, told them I was in a grumpy mood thanks to HSBC but that I'd like to open an account. Ten minutes later, all done. Admittedly I can't get a credit card for three months. Oh well.

Drank beer to cheer up.

Friday: sorted out a phone number. It may change unless this one can get internet...looking into that soonish. signed various bits of paper, spent money on bed sheets n pillows. Woohoo, party on. Came down with a cold. Choice. Had good food at the Quorndon Fox, and beer. Drank whisky to clear throat.

Saturday: moved into flat. Stinking headcold. Bought frypan, saucepan, coffee plunger and a shedload of stuff for groceries. For those of you playing at home, go forth and convert UKP 180 ... that does include the s'pan and coffee plunger and stuff tho'. Not sure if I drank beer, suspect I did.

Sunday: threw S onto the train, tidied up papers and stuff in the flat and decided to organise emails to people. And a blog. Had a beer over lunch. Am thinking about cooking dinner soon (it's 7pm) but not hungry. There is beer in the fridge too.

21 August 2009

Islay : The last Regional Whisky tasting

Final whisky tasting, ever. And it's an Islay. How good is that!! The crew arrived, Rich, Maryanne (hello snookums), Jeff and another bloody yank import Anna. Ridiculous, I'm at a whisky tasting with a pom and three yanks.

Daniel and Regional had lined up what promised to be a stunning tasting, so without further ado here's my tasting notes.

Mystery whisky : Lagavulin 16yo Hopefully no-one reading this hasn't already been on the tasting ! The mystery whisky, and no wonder I scored it highly and it came 2= overall. This one has popped up before, and I'm onto my second bottle... Nose: dry, aniseed, soap, apple, bourbon, oxidised metal. Palate: salt, bacon, sherry, smoke, caramel; Finish: long, dry, superb. 9/10.

Bruichladdich lightly peated 2001 46% 23.10.01, bottle 5223 of 24000 Bruichladdich do stupid things with their whiskys, different finishes left right and centre. Some work, some don't. This one didn't. Nose: lime, banana, vanilla, leafy, marmalade, chocolate. Palate: raisins, smoke, dry. Finish: short, pepper. 6/10 Sadly the promise of the nose wasn't delivered on.

Bowmore 25yo 55.8% Duncan Taylor 10.82-12.07 cask 85063 bottle 88/166 Bit of an oddity this one, an old Islay. Nose: coffee, toffee, sherry?, high alc. Palate: alcohol, banana, peat, wood. Finish: sour, medium length. 9/10 I'd certainly drink this again. Frequently. Really interesting whisky again demonstrating that Bowmore age well. It's only really Bowmore and Lagavulin that are doing old Islay whiskys...

Kilchoman New Spirit optic ppm50 61% 29/11/06-16/12/08 sherry cask 334/06 A couple of years ago Nick and I tasted the 1 month old new spirit from Kilchoman, the newest distillery on Islay. This is the 2 year old new spirit (whisky has to be aged for 3 years before it can be termed whisky). We loved the 1 month year old, finding it incredibly complex and interesting, although it polarised people - some loving it, others finding it too overpowering. There's more complexity in this one, and by god has the potential been realised. The 3 yo whisky has just been released, and I will be getting some.
Nose: salt, bacon, smoke, rubber, high alcohol. Palate: fizzy, smokey, peaty perfection. Finish: massive, chilli, smoke 10/10 Came 2=

Port Charlotte 7 (Bruichladdich) bottled 2008 bottle 12460 or 24000 61% I loved the PC6, and Nick and I had done extensive comparative work the weekend before on the PC6 and 7. The changes between the two years are huge, there are similarities between them, but the PC7 reveals a whole different flavour collection to the PC6. Nose: salt, bacon, chedder, metallic. Palate: tangy, lovely, caramel, dark chocolate, chilli. Finish: pepper, massive, sweet. 10/10 Came 1st.

Ardbeg Supernova 58.9% Stellar limited release 100pm Ardbeg trying to show off and do something ridiculous. A 100ppm whisky? never heard of before...BTW: Daniel explained the phenol ppm is measured before the distillation process Nose: soft, salty, antiseptic, lime, lightish. Palate: salt, sweet. Finish: med-long, dry, sour. 8/10. It's good, but a lot lighter than I expected. I wouldn't complain if I had a bottle, but the other three are better.

Bruichladdich Octomore 5yo edition 01.1 63.5% ppm131 100ppm? pah nothing, let's do 131ppm. That's real phenol ! Nose: grass, stale ash, high alc, antiseptic and vomit (yeah I know, but in a good way...). Palate: very light, sweet, honey. Finish: med-short, but big - if that makes sense. 7/10
So the two supposed stars, the octomore and the supernova, weren't the winners. Good, but not great whisky. The PC7, Lagavulin and Kilchoman were all stunning whisky.

What a final tasting tho'. I'd like to thank Blair S and Daniel - Blair for making me come along, and Daniel for guiding my addiction to the good stuff. As I'm sure you're all aware, I will be tasting more and hunting it out, but I doubt I'll find anything as good as the Regional Wines tastings. And I'll miss our usual whisky imbibing crew...

Love, B

18 August 2009

I'd like this at my farewell on Friday

From a thesis I'm editing:

The women sang regulated laments and dirges during the ...(relevant detail removed) feast, as well as tearing their cheeks, baring their breasts, and cutting their hair to express grief

15 August 2009

Food degustation and whisky

Whisky and Food

Regional Wines and Cafe Bastille teamed up for a Degustation de Whisky evening last Monday. Our usual troup decided that this was a bit of us and headed down. Since this wasn't a pure tasting, I didn't make any notes ... and for the first time in a very long time I gave up on the vegetarianism thing.

Here's the menu with a few comments.

Palate refreshing was by Te Waihou water and Belhaven 'Twisted Thistle' IPA. Not a bad combination there.

Crab mousselline; Cedar-smoked salmon; Scallop with Bayonne ham beurre blanc

Milford 18yo; Glenmorangie original; Ardbeg Blasda

Very delicate entree's with quite light whisky's to match. The Milford, as you'd expect is rubbish, and the other two weren't much better. The Blasda at least had some flavour. Food was lovely, particularly the scallops. But I'm biased like that.

Wild rabbit loin with saffron fondant and cigar jus

Glenmorangie Lasanta; Ardbeg Uigeadail

Very rich dish, others loved the Lasanta, but it didn't work for me. I thought the Uigeadail worked well with the cigar jus, both are quite strong, but the salt of the Ardbeg brought out the smoke of the jus.

Truffle and Cognac venison sausage with Chantarelle jus and barberries

Ardbeg Supernova

Our first taste of the legend, and matching it with the strong gamey venison was a winner. Actually, perfect is a better word. Of all the things I really miss, it's good quality sausages that make me pine for meat :)

Candied citrus tart and white chocolate and rhubard crumble

Glenmorangie Nector d'Or

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban

Light citrus whisky's that worked nicely with the food. Neither jumped out for me, but they definitely enhanced the food.

Finish : Ardbeg Lord of the Isles; Glenmorangie Signet

Avoid the Signet, it's pretty boring. But the Ardbeg is damn good. Not worth the price they charge for it, but still a very good whisky.

Had a really good time, good company, excellent food, good whisky. And we kept getting more whisky's poured after we'd finished. Damn! And I really like Belhaven, so no down sides to this at all !!!


12 August 2009

The shifting sand solidifies slowly but surely

This blog comes to you from Deluxe. Home away from home for years.

My work permit has been approved and I've got the job offer in writing, so it's been a productive day. All of my gear gets picked up tomorrow morning - which means I'm in Northland writing more freekin' papers for other people while burly men collect my boxes. I mean really, documentation I can understand, but papers? WTF?! It's all my own fault as my doco was always up to date :(

So what does this mean? The permit is on it's way back to NZ (it's been in Canberra, along with my PhD certificate and passport), and should take 5-7 days to get here. That means I should be winging my way to the Midlands late next week (Thurs/Fri I guess).

Woo and hoo, although a large amount of 'WTF' and 'yikes' to that as well.

Off to a whisky tasting tonight, Islay's. Including the Ardbeg Supernova, Bruichladdich PC7, and the Octomore. Salty goodness. Err, not sure I meant that the way it came out...

Love, B

9 August 2009

Covers that improve the original

There's many examples of songs where the cover is much better than the original. There are, of course, idiots out there who reckon anyone covering Tom improves the song, these people should be shot. Some covers of Cohen are better, or at least different.

But this example of Steve Wilson and Abba is good. Abba overproduced, Steve pulled it back.
Abba "The Day Before you Came"

Love, B

3 August 2009

In which plans become thigh-high leather boots

Soooo, to clarify the plans alluded to recently. I handed in my resignation a couple of weeks ago, as I'd had been job hunting for sometime, and decided I need to shake things up a little.

This went down well at work.
Coming as it did as a surprise to all aside from my manager and a couple of my minions :)

It wasn't quite as spur of the moment as it sounds, I had had a couple of interviews and had three lined up for last week.
This could have gone badly, a whisky tasting then an interview at 4am on Thurs morning, and another interview Fri morning 130am. In a strange twist, I gave up the highland whisky tasting, on the plus side the two best were ones I either had (Glenfarclas 105) or have tasted (Aberlough A'bunagh - ignore spelling, it's early morning).
The 4am Thursday (Oxford) went well - it was supposed to be a skype interview but my cablemodem connection died 5 mins before it started (thanks TelstraClear - actually it's the only problem I've had with them, so I'm not complaining), so turned into a phone interview.
The 130am Friday morning (Loughborough) went really well - had a technical interview for 30 mins first, then they rang me back at 230am and said I was through to the formal interview which was another 30 mins.
Friday at work was a bit surreal, severe sleep deprivation caused a number of stream of consciousness emails to my team. As they know me, they managed to cope OK with that. I had a job offer in my email on Saturday from Loughborough, which was great as it was the one I wanted. huzzah!

So in the spirit of a boys-own adventure tale (Captain Blood, King Solomon's Mines, but not so much Brokeback Mountain) I'm off to the UK. And as every good adventure tale requires a femme fatale, there's a woman involved (see, I said it wasn't like Brokeback) so everyone say hi to Sharla...she's convinced I'm heading over there for her, so the rest of you, don't mention Marillion... :D

In an uncomfortable twist, I've moved back to live with my parents. So far (well ok, since 1pm yesterday) we're coping OK, and I'm out each night this week, then to ChCh to see dickhead and the little princess.

More to follow at some point.

Me xxx

2 August 2009

Antikythera update

Many of you will know of my interest in the Antikythera device, the lunar/planetary device from ancient Greece. It's seriously cool, and predates anything similar by 1000 years.

So there's been some more research published suggesting its even older than originally thought. Bugger a Bovine!!! That's impressive. Even more cool, and yes I am gushing a bit here, is the video of how the thing works !

Choice. Back to beer now.

Oohh a science blog!


Ok, so I've been neglecting the blog a bit recently - that will explained in a post or two later this evening. But in the meantime, a beer review.
Moa 5 hop Winter Ale, I figured it's winter, I like beer, I like hops, and I like the Moa beers I've had. And so a bottle came home with me.
Moa bottle condition their beers, which is never a bad thing. So how does their ale stack up? Nose is hoppy, citrus, cut grass - the usual hop aromas. Apparently the beer will age well, although not in my house...Taste: ale, but not a typical English ale (as suggested by the website), there's too much flavour in there - I suspect it's the Hallertau hops? It's more similar to the wackness the American's brewing at Renaissance are doing. There's a strong hint of the burnt caramel in the aftertaste, and I'm getting a strong cheese flavour. Having said that, I did have some 'pungent' blue this avo', so that maybe cutting in. But it's also not an unusual flavour for a yeasty, hopped ale. so maybe? Strong creamy flavour as the glass warms up - more typical of an ale. As I've drunk more, I don't think it's a blue cheese flavour either.

Overall: superb beer. Go buy some, it's a limited edition. Think of a more complex Epic Ale, less hops more intrigue.