Monday, March 31, 2008

More Bad News At Terminal 5

Harrowing times for Singapore Airlines flight attendants as the queue for the toilets reaches Biblical proportions.
Then Serve With A Side Salad And Salsa

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Restaurant Review - Brasserie Blanc, Leeds **

Only two stars ? Perhaps three at a push, but the thing is, on the rare occasions that I get to dine at the restaurants of the big name celebrity chefs, I expect something a bit different, a bit special, something with the Wow factor, and Brasserie Blanc really doesn't have any of these.

The building looks nice, right by the river with an outside dining area for summer, inside the structure of the former warehouse has been nicely preserved. The staff are uniformly smart, polite and attentive, even asking whether she should pour my wine or if I would prefer to do it myself. I like to pour my own wine, and it was nice to be asked.

For starters Mrs YS had guinea fowl rilletes (£6.20), which was excellent, although the presentation of two dollops of rillete and two bits of grilled bread left something to be desired. My deep fried goat's cheese parcel (£6.45) looked better atop its mound of dressed frisee, and tasted very good. Both starters are very pricey, how on earth does a rather small bit of cheese cost more then guinea fowl ?

The main courses were, well, pretty average to be honest. Mrs YS had moules, "Steamed Loch Fyne mussels, white wine and cream" (£12.50 and an absolute rip off) to quote the menu, cream there was none, salt there was a dreadful amount, now my wife likes a lot of salt, but after tasting her mussels she said quite rightly that if anyone else had received the dish they would have sent it back.

I had "Toulouse sausages, smooth mash, onion gravy" (£9.50), ok, two sausages of a decent size and flavour, although I have had better, perched on a small pile of "smooth mash" that was so smooth and wet that it began to dissolve into my "gravy" as I ate. Why the use of quotation marks ? Well, in my recipe book a jus is a thin, water consistency sauce, and a gravy is a rather more substantial beast, water it was, and with it being so thin you couldn't taste the difference between that and the mash.

I ordered a portion of french beans to go with my main course (£3.50, it's lucky I was already sat down). It was obvious that two batches of beans had been prepared and then mixed together, half the beans were almost really good, green and al dente, the other half were graying and soggy.

Brasserie Blanc redeemed itself somewhat with an excellent chocolate and hazlenut delice, really rice and dark, very nicely presented, but again the (vanilla ?) sauce dressing the plate was thin and tasteless, the delice itself though was great.

I had a bottle of red vin de pays for £17 which was good and went well the cheese and sausages.

Overall, the quality of this particular branch of Raymond Blanc's empire is all over the place, service was great, the food on the whole below average, you can spend the same amount in numerous restaurants in Leeds - Wharfedale - Ilkey which do not have big star names on their menu and get a much better meal.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

MySpazz for Night Creatures

Vampire Freaks

Oh well, you can't have too many cute gothettes.....

"When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading"

Henny Youngman
"In wine there is wisdom. In beer there is freedom. In water there is bacteria"

Benjamin Franklin
Not A Restaurant Review - Bar t'at, Ilkley

I can't do restaurant reviews around Ilkley any more because everyone knows who I am now, but......

I've been in to the excellent Bar T'at a few times in the last few weeks, for dining and drinking, and it is really good.

Bar T'at serves the best beers (and bottled beers & lagers & ciders & fruit beers etc), and the best selection of in town. On Tuesday we drank our way through a pint or several of Leeds Pale, Saltaire Blonde, Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin, Old Legover, and, er, well after that the memory becomes a bit fuzzy actually.

We have also eaten there twice in the last week, at the very good value (for Ilkley) Thursday Steak Night, and on Tuesday when there are five specials on the board each priced at a fiver (plus VAT). I had grilled pork steaks with mash, black pudding and cider sauce from the main menu at £10, it was very good and the portion sizes are what we call Yorkshire portions, i.e. you won't be asking for seconds.

The beers are great, the food good and good value, just don't be like the plonker at the bar last week who I overheard asking the staff if they had Carling, no mate, if you want plastic lager, go to a plastic pub.

Bar T'at - Market Town Taverns
Work = Chaos

It was a busy day yesterday, and got off to a bad start. Due to a bugger up somewhere in our bookings system, the first party of 12 throught the doors at breakfast time announcedthat they were not in fact staying for their evening meal. I served breakfast and then stripped down the table we had set for them the previous evening.

Golfers continued to pour in, much as the rain had poured down all night. An hour later we got a call asking if we could fit in 16 golfers who couldn't play at another course due to flooding, of course we could, but bugger, I'd just taken the table down. So in the midst of everything we reset the table again.

We served 67 golfers breakfast and a set dinner yesterday, plus looking after the casual golfers and members who had braved the rather cold and damp conditions, and we were all done and cleaned down for 6.30, good effort everyone.

Phil joined the team as Sous Chef this week and he has been a great help, fast and efficient and cooks good food, thanks also to April, Megan and Paula, and to all the rest of the gang who are off on holiday in France / Italy / New Zealand etc., we're all dead jealous.
Earth Hour

I just clicked onto Google and saw this....

Earth Hour

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Anal Beast Sex Makes You Sound Australian ?

"SYDNEY — A New Zealand man has been sentenced to community service after telling police he was raped by a wombat and the experience had made him speak "Australian".

Arthur Ross Cradock, 48, from the South Island town of Motueka, called police on February 11 and told them he was being raped at his home by the wombat and he needed help, The Nelson Mail newspaper reported.

The orchard worker later called back and said: "Apart from speaking Australian now, I'm pretty all right, you know."

Cradock pleaded guilty in the local court to using a phone for a fictitious purpose. He was sentenced to 75 hours community work.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Chris Stringer told the court alcohol played a large role in Cradock's life."

(Thanks to Jeff for sending me this)
Power Of Three

The last three England hat tricks were all bowled by Yorkshire (or ex Yorkshire) bowlers, Gough, Hoggard and Sidebottom.

There must be something in the water, or in the ale they put the water in.
A Win At Last !

Well done the England team ontheir series win (eventually) over New Zealand, who else had a few moments of panic at the end of the last tests though as teenager Southee began to flay our bowlers ? Thankfully Sidebottom stepped in to finish it off.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fight !

Robins are just little feathery balls of bad attitude. During our two days of winter at the weekend I loaded with bird table with heaps of bread, nuts and suet, far more than two Robins could eat in a week, yet instead of just enjoying the free food the two birds spent half the morning battling and chirruping at each other.

The snow did bring a more secretive visitor to the bird table though, a Jay came out of the woods to feast and ate his fill whilst the rabble of Robins rolled around on the floor.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roll Call

Staff for this season....

Phil the Chef

April - Head Waitress / commis
Harry (Has worked twice, now he's broken his leg)
Lucy A
Lucy L
Megan (after working one session, Megan is already the most likely to say / do blogworthy stuff, she's mad)

Robyn & Claire

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Sisters

"Because now Marek you are going to see what we do best."

On the other side of the river the Piwari army jogged past, each warrior clad in a motley collection of hides and skins, here and there a man sported a helm looted from the slaughtered regulars at Jinnsam and Hag'del. Every Piwari carried a hide shield with his javelin strapped to the back of it, on their backs they had slung their short swords and curved hunting knives, they carried no packs, no provisions beyond a skin of water. The Piwari ran into battle.

Marek glanced nervously around the rocky shore.

"Won't they have scouts on this flank ?"

"Not any more," Marjael grinned, there were shreds of flesh between his pointed teeth. He gave a signal and the sisters stood up. Gesel nocked an arrow to her bow string and pulled, as she pulled back Lucel spoke quietly and deftly touched the arrow. Gesel angled the arrow's point high and released, the arrow shot into the sky, and with a whisper it split into two, then four, then eight, like the wind in the trees the arrows divided again and again as they reached their apogee.

The second arrow was already strung, touched and released. This shot was released in a low arc directly at the moving army's flank, it too swarmed and multiplied as the arrows sped across the river. Some of the Piwari were aware of the movement above them, and as the arrows fell into their midst they were caught looking upwards.

Mijael roared, Marek shrank back from the spectre that now stood before him. The daemon's hair sparked and the flesh of his face rippled as the bloodhunger ran through him, blood dripped from his hands as the bone blades pushed out from under the skin, the daemon crouched for a moment, then ran at the river.

The two waves of arrows hit the tribesmen, hundreds of barbed, yard long shafts plunged into them breaking through skin and bone, puncturing limbs and heads, bellies and chests. The first many of the Piwari knew of the attack was when the man in front of them was pierced, or when they themselves were drilled through. Shouts of pain, fear and confusion arose. The lateral flight of arrows slammed into the men running aong the river banks edge, men were thrown from their feet by the impact, dozens died instantly, dozens more were fearfully wounded.

Even above the sudden chaos on the riverbank, the scream of the approaching daemon could be heard, at the shout of a shaman the shattered left flank reformed, the tribesmen flipped their shields over and drove the javelin points into the earth locking the shields together, then they pulled their knives from their scabbards and held. Mijael was a dark steak across the surface of the river, he hit the locked shields with an noise like cannon fire and drove like a ball from cannon straight through the line leaving brkoen men and shields in his wake.

Shaman were trying to make sense of this sudden attack on their flank, the army was already disrupted, the men ahead having had no orders to stand and fight were running on, behind the engagement men were coming to a standstill, unable to see in the darkness what was happening. A troop of Piwari vaulted the undamaged shield wall and ran into the river, men further behind stepped back to gain some throwing room and readied their javelins.

Apelu raised her right hand, tendrils of glowing mist tralied from it, in the water the Piwari battle shouts turned to horror. Tentacles of water rose up and twisted about the men, pinning their arms and crushing them, the war shouts were silenced as bones cracked and shattered and men vomited blood and innards into the waters.

On the bank the tribesmen loosed a volley of javelins, Marek felt his legs crumble beneath him, as he sank to the soil Chatter stepped past him, her spicy scent deepened and became almost animal like, she pushed her hands in front of her, the tattoos writing and burning with orange fire, hot sparks fell in her wake. As the javelins neared Marek and his companions they were pushed aside to plunge harmlessly into the earth. Tiny cuts bleeding flames appeared on the back of Chatter's hands.

Apelu drew her hands down with a pumping motion and the soil on the opposite bank exploded, tree roots rammed upwards showering soil and men were impaled and pushed into the air writhing in their extremis. Further back in the army's ranks the clamour of Mijael's assault continued.

With a third movement of her hands Apelu caused the trees on the far bank to explode, bullets of wood cut down a circular swathe of men around each tree, the men stnding closest were almost flensed by the assault, instantly stripped to the bone by the ferocity of the explosion, the glade had become a butchers pit.

"He's coming back," shouted Chatter and pointed to her right. Gesel swung left and directed her next flight of arrows against the milling rear of the advancing army. Mijael appeared, ducking and weaving between the sword thrusts of two Piwari he flicked out a bone blade and cut one open from throat to groin, then wheeling and spinning he drove a backhanded blow into the leg of another that drove his knee backwards, the man crumpled with a wail of pain. The Daemon hit the water with a concussion, and again, two paces and he was across and sliding as Chatter quickley raised her shield to allow him in.

Mijael was a creature seemingly made from gore, blood soaked every inch of him and gobbets of shredded flesh dripped from him to the ground. Marek shuddered both at the vision before him and the increasing hail of javelins drawing lines across Chatter's shield, her hands were wreathed in fire but her face was pale and drawn with pain.

"Time to run," said the daemon. Gesel nocked another arrow, Lucel spoke and touched it and it was loosed, Marek cried out as they were drawn into the arrows path, again losing form as they swept through the night sky. They landed with a crash, rolling and tumbling. Mijael gained his feet and glared at Lucel, his eyes glowing behind hi blood mask.

"I can't help, I'm exhausted," she bent down and placed her hand over the feathers of the arrow stuck into the ground. "This is all I have, if we can't make it this time we're walking."

Gesel snatched the arrow up and placed it against her bow string, she drew the bow to its fullest extent and let the arrow loose, it soared away into the black sky and they were dragged violently into its wake.
Written Off

So the car has been declared a write off after last week's accident. My Vauxhall had just passed its MOT at a fairly small cost, and was running really well.

So now I have no car, and I'm going to get a cheque for around two and a half grand for my Astra, for absolutely no fault of my own I'm going to have to dig deep into my bank account to get a car of similar quality to the one I had.

It just doesn't seem at all fair.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Big Business Are All Bastards......

......And You're Going To Pay

There was a shock announcement in the news yesterday when Goodwin Whitman III, the president of Staber Albatross Holdings said this......

"Folks, we're really sorry for all the titanic muck-ups we have made with economy and we understand that this is going to hurt the average worker much more than it is going to affect billionaire bankers like myself. A number of us 'fat cats' have therefore decided that this year, in view of the pending financial crisis, we won't take enormous wage rises and share disbursements, instead we will use our vast fortunes to save tens of thousands of low paid workers from losing their homes."

That's wonderful isn't it ? Of course it's an absolute fantasy, the super rich are addicted to money and are driven to get as much as they can and keep it all for themselves.

There was a story in the papers yesterday about a man called Joe Lewis. Lewis has invested about £490 million in a bank called Bear Stearns, the bank has promptly dropped like a stone and his holdings are now thought to be worth 'only' £22m. I'm not exactly crying for this bloke, he is still thought to have a personal fortune in excess of £2.5 billion.

Our entire financial system doesn't seem right to me, we have people who are in effect gamblers, gamblers who play with the money of millions of people without their knowledge or permission, people who 'play' the stock markets, people who find the gaps in between money to make money, betting on the movements of currencies, stocks, shares and bonds to amass fortunes.

to some degree unfortunately, the whole great financial system is a facade. The system relies on consumer confidence to keep it afloat, and without that confidence the system is revealed to be a paper house, liable to blow down in the first breeze of doubt. We can see at this very moment those winds of change sending the world markets into turmoil.

I bet most of you are like me, either you have a job, like myself, where you actually manufacture something and turn raw materials into finished products, or you offer a direct service and get paid in return for your skills and knowledge. I'm going to be working just as hard this week and next as I was last week and the week before, yet, due to the actions of numerous idiot money gamblers, I'm going to end up paying more for my mortgage, and my savings and pension are going to be worth less. Millions upon millions like myself will be in the same situation, we will all be working hard, and we will all be a bit, or a lot, poorer.

I wonder how many of the big financial barons will get into serious trouble, and by trouble I mean will they be poring over their bank statement and worrying whether they can meet the next months mortgage payment, or whether they might have to sell the family car and get the bus to work, or whether they might have to try and get a part time evening job to make ends meet ? Or course they won't, they might have to trade in the mega yacht for a slightly smaller version, or sell one of their private islands or vast estates.

The problems with gamblers is that, well, they're gamblers. See those sad blokes loitering outside the bookies before opening time ? Gamblers. They look a bit shifty and shady, a touch of five o clock shadow at 1030 in the morning, they've got a copy of this morning's Racing Post and it's already well tatty and well read and once they've placed their first bet they'll be into the tap room for the first pint of the day. You wouldn't go to these blokes for financial advice would you ? And yet they run the world, of course they're dressed in sharp suits and they drink Lafitte in The Ivy and not Best Bitter in the Dog & Gun, but they are gamblers none the less.

Now the gamblers have lost the bet, and we're all going to pay, bastards.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Excellent, the Unthank girls can clog dance as well.
A man and his wife go to their honeymoon hotel for their 25th anniversary. As the couple reflected on that magical evening 25 years ago, the wife asked the husband, "When you first saw my naked body in front of you, what was going through your mind?"

The husband replied, "All I wanted to do was to fuck your brains out, and suck your tits dry."

Then, as the wife undressed, she asked, "What are you thinking now?"

He replied, "It looks as if I did a pretty good job."

(Thanks to the boys in Vallenbrosa)
Easter Is Coming, Time For Miracles

Easter on Wiki
Central Heating for Kids ?

Yes, your children will really get up and glow with a bowl of warm and nutritious raw ducks blood soup.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Album Review : Cruel Sister***** & The Bairns***** - Rachel Unthank and the Winterset

The Bairns was released last year, Cruel Sister (the debut album) in 2005.

I do like a bit of folk inbetween my usual diet of thundering guitars and singers screaming in apparent extremis.

Rachel Unthank's voice is bewitching, defiantly British and with the lovely flat vowel sounds of Northumbria, with sister Becky, Niopha Keegan and pianist Belinda O'Hooley she creates a mesmeric, enticing and scintillating sound.

There is are some wonderful songs on both albums, I love the wry humour of 'On A Monday Morning' on Cruel Sister, a sorrowful paen to the joys of the weekend, you can't help but smile as Rachel croons "If only the sun was a party giver, if only someone else could have me liver". On The Bairns the band describe humour of the blackest kind in 'Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk' as the song's protagonist bemoans her lot in life, she's married a man for his money, but he's a drunk and a wife beater.

On both albums Belinda O'Hooley's work at the piano is restrained and balanced, it provides a counterpoint as the Unthank sisters weave their voices together, Niopha Keegan's fiddle work provides a similar supporting role, never obtrusive, always part of the whole. I'm in love with these albums because of the girl's voices, all of the songs are driven by the vocals, the various other instruments provide some depth and roundness but all the way though it is the glorious, slightly breathy, vocals that make the songs into something truly special.

It is widely said that Fairport Convention's 'Liege & Lief' was the most important folk album of it's generation, if that is so then both of the Winterset's releases are its equal, possibly with Cruel Sister containing a larger body of strong songs.

I can't say that these albums will make you love folk music if you don't already, I'm quite picky in the folk field myself, there are an awful lot of acts currently performing who are dull and formulaic and who do not not seek to add anything new to the genre. The Winterset do push at the accepted boundaries though, from quickies lasting less than sixty seconds to eight minute epics they show restless invention and creation.

Some songs are what anyone would pin down as 'folk', 'The Greathem Calling On Song' for example, sounds as folksy as anything, but it is also a wonderful, quirky, oddball little tale of entertainers plying their trade, it also features some of the male members of the Unthank clan providing supporting vocals. Other songs like 'Raven Girl' for example, an up tempo accapella piece which is alomst pop-ish in it's approach, shows off the girls breadth of songwriting and performing ability.

If you fancy something a little different, then go out and buy both of these albums, you shouldn't be dissapointed, they are packed with talent and magic and beauty, voices to enchant and beguile, songs of charm, wit, life and loss, two absolute gems from an inspired and original group, listen and fall in love.

N.B. I don't have then ecyclopaedic knowledge of folk that I have of obscure metal bands, I am informed that most of the songs on these two albums are interpretations of old folk songs, but the music is none the worse for that.
Animated Music Avatar

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Car Safety Review : Ford Ka vs. Vauxhall Astra

For the purposes of our crash test, we had the Vauxhall driven by Yorkshiresoul in his normal ambling manner, i.e. about 40 mph in a 60 zone, the Ford Ka was driven (badly) by Miss X. The resulting impact shredded the passenger side tyre and mangled the front wheel and wheel arch on the Vauxhall, and dented the passenger door deeply enough for the speaker inside to pop out of its mounting, all four panels on the Vauzhall's passenger side were badly scratched and dented.

The Ford Ka though, well it sort of dissolved. The impact removed pretty much everything attached to the front end of the car, lights, bumper, number plate, trim, and left the reminaing metal work and bonnet in an askew and tangled mess.

In our unnoficial test, we rate the Vauxhall Astra as being safer than the Ford Ka, which is apparently built from styrofoam.

Of course all cars would be safer if people actually looked before pulling out of side roads.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I Have Been Examined

For the RIPH Level 3 that is, it was all going quite well until the clutch of questions about specific legal powers of EHA Officers, and then I just had to guess.

Not much different from exams when I was 16 then.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This Is Your Brain Calling.... is 2 am and you're going to be awake for the rest of the night.

I've just got over another bout of insomnia, 10 nights I think with by far the worst night coming on Friday after doing a double shift to cope with the Annual Dinner here at IGC.

Normally when I'm suffering from insomnia I just lie in bed in a strange fugue state, not asleep but not quite fully awake either. My mind begins to race, thoughts and ideas and then re-plays of recent events (mostly banal and everyday events ) churn over and over and over. It feels like being awake but dreaming at the same time, I don't seem to have proper control of my thoughts and they crowd my mind with their pointless and constant repetition.

On Friday I gave up and got out of bed at about 5am after having had only an hour's sleep. I paced around the house a bit, unable to concentrate on anything, and then because we were going walking with the boys I drove off to Grimwith and walked the route we were going to do, and then walked a bit more. I did the walk with the gang and returned home exhausted, but I slept the sleep of the dead on Saturday night.

The insomnia seems to have broken now, that seems to be it, one good night's sleep and it goes again for weeks or maybe months.
New-ish Music, 10 Good Songs To Look Out For

1) Dig !!! Lazarus Dig !!! - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!!)

2) The Greatham Calling On Song - Rachel Unthank and the Winterset (Cruel Sister)

3) Blackjack - Airbourne (Runnin' Free)

4) She Is The New Thing - The Horrors (Strange House)

5) Casino Bay - Ginger (Market Harbour)

6) Redneck - Lamb Of God (Sacrament)

7) Who's Got A Match - Biffy Clyro (Puzzle)

8) A New Begining - La Ventura (A New Begining)

9) Trophy - Bat For Lashes (Fur And Gold)

10) Ramble Down - Stonerier (Three Legs Of Trouble)
Wot ? No More Kobold Hordes ?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Cat Eats Book ? Cat Must Die

More cat based stupidity at I Can Has

(Thanks to Lucy)
Album Review : Runnin' Wild - Airbourne****

A quick question, and then the review is nearly done.

Do you like AC/DC ?

If you answered yes, then you're really going to like Airbourne because Joel O'Keeffe's metal outfit are AC/DC reborn. They play exuberant riff heavy songs with old school titles like "Stand Up For Rock And Roll" and "Cheap Wine And Cheaper Women", they play them really well and they sound like they're having a hell of a good time doing it.

If you answered no, oh come on, what's not to like about AC/DC ?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Creator of Dungeons & Dragons Fails His Saving Throw

Gary Gygax dies
Sculpture At Crown Point, Bury

Shall we take the boys on a walk to see this some time ?
System Of A Down - Spiders

I love this video, it's a real shame that SOAD won't be making any more music.
You Spin Me Right Round Like A Record Baby

Have you ever wondered if such and such a famous person is alive or not ?

Well now you can find out

(Thanks to Chez)
Mary Had A Little Lamb

Mary had a little lamb
Its fleece was white and wispy.
Then it caught Foot and Mouth Disease
And now it's black and crispy.

(Thanks to Chez)
Walking, Saturday 8th March

A slight change of plans to accomodate some of the boys, we'll meet up at Grimwith car park at 11.30am and do a flat hike around the reservoir and save Whernside for the next time.

Monday, March 03, 2008

3 Peaks In Three Weeks ?

The boys sound keen to have another go so let's go for Whernside this Saturday the 8th. Meet up will be in Chapel-le-Dale, I don't think there's a car park so we'll just have to make do, meet for 10.30am, don't forget to bring lunch / hats / complete change of clothes for the boys.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Walking Yorkshire - Pen-Y-Ghent

There it is, it went in and out of view a bit as the clouds and rain swept across the summit, but the six of us stayed mostly dry on the walk.

Patrick, Joshua, Wosser, Stephen and Joseph (and Toby the dog) on the summit having a quick bite to eat before venturing back out into the powerful winds on the ridge path to the summit. It was windy, very windy indeed.

Have we put the boys off hiking for life ?

Or are we setting our sights on Whernside in a couple of weeks time ?
Arooga !!!

Bryony Brown, just for a change, a picture posted with the model's permission, there's a first for Yorkshiresoul. Bryony is a rather stunning local lass, you see, all the best things come from Yorkshire.