Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Holidays in the overcastness

Some random things from my holiday ...

Buying an old book called 'Seneca on Benefits' (his Stoic reflections on claiming child support and family credit) in the excellent Leakey's in Inverness...

Getting a cake in the Real Food Cafe in Tyndhum, a takeaway with bacon rolls, fish suppers etc but using local ingredients, properly cooked, homemade chips etc. Also a row of birdfeeders attracting many birds from the surrounding woods - better than TV!

Learning a new patience game in Fort William Premier Inn while it rained outside...

Monday, June 4, 2007

Cobra vs Cobra

Having extolled the virtues of Cobra 0.0 so fulsomely, I thought I'd put it to the test by doing a blindfold tasting of the 0.0 and the original, with-alcohol version. The two bottles were chilled to the same temp and poured into identical glasses, marked blue and yellow. My tasting notes were as follows:

Cue Cobra on Cobra action...

Yellow is slightly darker and has a more malty, beery smell.
Both have a mouth-filling quality and a hoppy bite.
Yellow sharper and cleaner, a bit lemony.
Blue has the bostik-glue taste of stronger beers, so I think this is the alco version...

And I was right. They're both equally enjoyable, the 0.0 (not just zero, zero-point-zero...) tastes a bit better perhaps because the alcohol doesn't undercut the taste of the other ingredients.

I'm hoping the 0.0 stuff becomes available in Indian restaurants as I don't always want to drink and don't want to wash down food with pop.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Good King Henry: greens forever

Good King Henry is a fantastic vegetable, unfairly neglected. It's a perennial green. My plant has lasted at least five years so far, yielding plenty of leaves each season. It doesn't get much care and attention but soldiers on anyway. (I do nip off the flowers when I happen to be passing; this seems to stop it from bolting and promote leaf generation.) It tastes a bit like spinach; the leaves are a bit rougher but tender enough when cooked. I doubt I'd enjoy a great steaming pile of it, but a few leaves shredded into one of my frequent chick-pea curries are nice and, no doubt, nutritious.

It has some excellent names, including English Mercury, Goosefoot, Poor Man's Asparagus, Smearwort and Fat Hen.

More alcohol-free quaffing...

A vist to Morrisons unearthed a few more low- and no-alcohol beers, of which I have quaffed mightily. Here's what I thought of them.

This stuff is OK. I spend at evening at a party drinking it, and it's pleasant enough. A bit thin and has a slight tang of... tomato!
[The hostess has just sent me an accusing text with a picture of a Kaliber can lying in their garden - proof that lager lout behaviour is nothing to do with alcohol, but rather some arcane semiotics of the can design exerting subconscious influence...lucky I didn't drink the whole 4-pack or I'd no doubt have removed my shirt, grunted the name of a football team repeatedly, urinated in the garden, and started a fight.]

Ths has 0.5% so is low rather than no. Perhaps because of this I found it to have a better body than some of the others. I would as happily drink this as any mass-market pilsner-style beer.

This on the other hand has NO alc and a good body. I guess this comes out as number one alongside Cobra 0.0, which has a somewhat sweeter taste.

Friday, June 1, 2007

8 random things

Having exposed my eyes to the tagging concept on Topsyturvydom, herewith eight random things about me.

1. I discovered recently that I can only see in two dimensions. I always wondered what people were on about when they talked about depth. So to me there is no difference between 'small' and 'far away'.

2. I'm a quarter Japanese. My grandfather on my dad's side is from Kyoto, but I only met him once, have never been there or been very interested in Japan. I can remember him boarding the Brighton Belle.

3. I once appeared naked before an audience. My friend Ian Smith was peformimg a one-man show comprising a monologue by the Minotaur, at a festival called the Elephant Fair in the West Country somewhere, c1985. This was on an open-air stage, with audiences of around 50-100. At the end, Theseus appears and has three lines to say (all the word 'Yes'). This should have been a lithe, well-muscled dancer called Nick the Nose, wearing a loincloth and brandishing a comedy plastic sword. For some reason Nick hadn't made the event, so I stood in with my non-lithe, poorly muscled body but with the loincloth and sword. After doing this about 4 times for the final show I simply decided to dispense with the loincloth.

4. I have a story in a real book: Brit Pulp. And another one in a semi-pro magazine, and a self-published poetry collection of which only the title remains bearable: Dream Silt Dredger. All this in the 80s/90s.

5. I can't drive, swim, ride a bike, play an instrument, speak a foreign language, sing, dance, play sports, ride horses, ski, knit or tell jokes. In Junior School, we made a simple computer where we each made a card with a hole in it for 'yes' and a sort of U-shape open at the top for 'no' in answer to a series of questions. The teacher would push a knitting needle through the holes and pull out all the cards with the holes/yeses as a basic kind of data retrieval.* The questions were all things like 'Can you swim', 'Are you in the Scouts' and I had to put 'No' for all of them. Barely qualifying as a life-form by mainstream criteria, I can nevertheless cook, do marketing, charm people, love, make people laugh without telling jokes, do crude gardening and DIY and find valuable books in charity shops.

6. I have a tattoo on my left bicep, a skull with the word 'LIVE' underneath it. It cost £10.

7. I've come to distrust personality type tests, though I used to be keen on them. In MBTI I'm INFJ and the 'introvert' bit does make sense to me (probably stemming back to that cardboard computer thing.) I've thought of myself as pretty much every Enneagram type and come to loathe it as a practic/se of pathologising one's own personality. With a gun to my head (a new age gun firing crystals from incense cartridges) I'd say I'm a 5.

8. If I ever get a peerage and need to be, say, Earl of somewhere, I'd want my hometown Portslade...

You might like to think of yourself as tagged for this too (ie write 8 random things about yourself on your own blog or the medium of your choice; condensation on a bus window works well.)

* It sometimes seems that one of these powers our email system at work. (Heroic efforts are being made...)