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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Food and drink

Tuesday April 15 2014

I love this, from AndrewZ at Samizdata, commenting on this piece by Natalie Solent, which quotes a couple of particularly demented pieces of writing in the Guardian, about cupcake fascism (this phrase should never be forgotten) and about the horrors of tourism.  (Natalie has been agreeably busy at Samizdata of late.)

Says AZ:

The online edition of any newspaper that isn’t behind a paywall relies on advertising to generate income and this depends on maximising the number of page views. The simplest way to do that is to publish outrageous and provocative opinions that will attract links from elsewhere and start a blazing row among the regular commenters. The great liberal newspaper of old is now little more than a group blog that trolls its own readers for advertising revenue.

No link from here to the original pieces, about cupcake fascism or tourism.  Oh no.  BmdotCOM is not falling into that trap.

Now that I have read the rest of them, I can report that all the comments at Samizdata on this posting are pretty good and worth a look.

Friday April 11 2014

So I made my way to the Opening Do of LLFF14 earlier this evening, at a bar near Kings Cross Station.  On my way, the light was so good I just had to take some photos.  Not many, but those I did take came out very nicely.  These three were my favourites.  The first is me looking back along Pentonville Road at St Pancras Station.  To think they were once going to knock this down.  The second is just a random piece of domestic architecture.  And the third I took because it looked like it had some rather good cushion type things, such as I might want to buy if I ever get around to making myself a sofa:

image image image

The Do itself was great, until eventually the noise of everyone shouting at each other became more than I could take.  As I said to someone, I couldn’t even hear myself talk.  Not hearing others was bad enough, but when I couldn’t even hear the sound of my own voice, well, there went one of my deepest pleasures in life.  So I left.  That wasn’t a problem.  The main business of LLFF takes place during the day, on Saturday and Sunday, and I will of course return.

On my way from the bar back to Kings Cross tube, I got very lost, despite having my Smartphone with me, with its invaluable map app.  And that was when I noticed something very odd and different about this part of London, compared to where I live.  No helpful signposts, telling you where the nearest tube is, or where Kings Cross or St Pancras Stations are.  I’m guessing because this is a part of town where tourists tend not to go, and most people there just know all that sort of stuff already.  Apart from me.

Tuesday April 08 2014

On Sunday morning, just before attempting to visit a friend, I discovered that I did not have my wallet in its usual pocket.  Frantic search around my home, nothing.  Must have left it somewhere on Saturday.  But where?  Frantic expedition to the supermarket in Lower Marsh, which I visited on Saturday evening.  No.  Nothing.  Start walking back home.  Then remember, was in Marie’s Cafe, Lower Marsh, after being in supermarket.  It has to be there.  But, it’s Sunday.  Will Marie’s Cafe in Lower Marsh be open?  Go back past supermarket to Marie’s Cafe.  Shut.  Only when I go back to Marie’s Cafe yesterday do I discover that they have it.  All is present and correct.  Debit card, money, other crap.

Thank you Marie’s Cafe:

image

So, basically, I am back to where I was on Saturday night.  But, feel ludicrously happy for all the rest of Monday.  And am happy still.

To quote myself, after an earlier episode of a similar sort:

The ridiculousness of the pleasure I now feel is that all I did was correct a stupid mistake, with much fuss and bother and dust up my nose.

This time around, the dust up the nose was only metaphorical.  That time it was literal, because that previous piece of error correction was error correction that involved a vacuum cleaner.

But pleasure is what I feel, and I am going now to continue to enjoy it.

Same again.

Marie’s Cafe has for some time now been my favourite eating out place in London.  Used to be the West End Kitchen in Panton Street.  Mainly it’s the food, and what it costs.  But there is also the fact that all the classical CD places in the West End have vanished and only Gramex, also in Lower Marsh, remains.

I see that the latest review at the other end of that link say that Marie’s Cafe is “overrated and overcrowded”.  Which is hardly her fault.  Personally, what I especially like is that there is a table for one right near the front door that is almost never in use, and I have started sitting there whatever the scrimmage state elsewhere.

Tuesday April 01 2014

Two photos of signs, taken on the south side of the river between Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge, about a fortnight ago.

On the left, some of the verbiage on this statue.  My reason for showing it here is simply that I think this writing photographs so very well:

image image

And on the right, snapped moments later, another sign, on the side of a coffee stall.  It must be a very old joke indeed, but I was encountering it for the first time.

In general, signs make very good photos, I think.

Friday March 28 2014

I will, I am now sure (although I actually promise nothing), be writing more in connection with the talk that Christian Michel has just given at my home, but as of right now, I am too tired to do it anything like justice.  All I will say about it now is that it was superb. (Read his sales pitch for the talk in this earlier posting here.)

But two bits of trivia about the evening occur to me to mention, both so trivial that I don’t have to have all my wits about me to mention them.

First, I made a particular resolution not just to provide satisfactory snacks to my guests but to actually open the packets of the snacks and putting the snacks in plates.  In the past, I have found myself burdened, once my guests have departed, with unopened packets of party food.  My surmise is that this is not because nobody wanted to eat any of these snacks.  No, the problem is that people don’t like to open food packets, because that feels, and worse, may appear greedy.  It’s like they want to eat all of them.  Or maybe, that they are reluctant to open a new packet when they only want one of them.  But, faced with a plate of biscuits or a big bowl of crisps, they will not hesitate to partake, if so inclined.  It’s a little thing, but this worked well, I think.

And second, as usual, the exactly right number of people showed up.  How do they know to do this?  Last time around I was afraid that there would be too many.  This time, for various reasons involving several semi-regulars happening to have other things on such as wedding anniversaries, I feared there might be too few.  In the event, the number of attenders, both last time and this time was pretty much identical and just right.  It always is.  A Samizdata commenter, commenting on something I wrote there about this odd phenomenon, said that there is an explanation of it in this book, which I’m pretty sure I already possess.  I must track it down.  With luck, this posting will remind me to do this instead of forgetting about it.

Wednesday March 05 2014

That at any rate is the date that all the workers working on it have given me, when I asked them:

image image

Although, I suspect that the word “local” is supermarketese for “half as expensive again as you would like”.  Fair enough, their gaff their rules.  And it all helps.  Even if the only consequences are that the other local late-night stores drop their prices by a few pennies and keep their milk a bit colder, well, every little helps.

But then again, see the picture on the left where it says “Great OFFERS” three times over.  So, maybe the downward price pressure radiating from this new place will be quite substantial.

I also think it’s a very smart move to feature the opening time very prominently on the front.  No matter how often I am told which shop stays open until when, I forget, and 6am-11pm every day is nice and easy.

The shops that are being replaced by this Morrisons are (a) a Jessops camera shop, and (b) a remainder bookshop.  Both replaced by the internet, presumably.  But, if you are caught short for sugar or coffee or cheap wine at 10.30pm, the internet doesn’t do it.

Friday February 21 2014

When I saw this camel, this afternoon, in Station Approach Road, on my way to meet someone in Waterloo Station, I was baffled.  I photoed it, but I was baffled:

image image image

But now, through the magic that is the www, I can tell you that this camel is to be found round the back of a pub in Lower Marsh, called the Camel & Artichoke.  I walk past this pub a lot, on my way to Gramex, in Lower Marsh, but had never really registered that its name involved a camel, or that when I saw the camel, I was round the back of this pub.

Blog and learn.  Photograph and learn.

Sunday February 09 2014

Yes, it’s another posting about photographing London’s Big Things from a high up place.

On July 27th of last year, I found myself at the top of Kings College, London, and a week later I posted a few of the photos I managed to take from that vantage point.

Many of the photos I took looked like this:

image

In other words, general, semi-panoramic views, just hoovering up whatever was there to be seen, to be looked at in more detail later.

But after taking that photo, I realised that this view included what looked like another very promising vantage point:

image

When I got home, I did some googling, and found out that this place must be the Radio Bar at the top of the ME Hotel.  The ME Hotel is at the westerly spike of the Aldwych semi-circle, so to speak.

Here is another good picture of this place, and of the kind of views that may be had from it.

So, I had a go at visiting this soon after finding this out, in August, but there was a queue, and I am not good with queues.  Queues mean waiting in the queue, and also mean that when you finally get there, there will be lots of people in the way of my photographing, and worse, that they may be in a hurry to get rid of you (especially if you are a photographers), rather than glad to see you.  So, I decided to try it again when the weather was nice, but colder.

And recently, on January 25th, I did this.  Me being me, I took lots of views, and lots of views with fellow digital photographers taking shots of the views:

image image imageimage image image

I also cranked up the zoom, and took lots of views like this:

image image imageimage image image

This Radio Bar is one of the very best places I know of to look out over London.

With views that touch the clouds and include Tower Bridge, the Shard, London Bridge, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Somerset House, Southbank, London Eye, Houses of Parliament, and the theatre district of Covent Garden, the rooftop bar at the ME London raises the bar on the enjoyment of social life whilst having a drink in the lounge.

Boastful but fair, although I think I marginally prefer, for the way it is laid out, One New Change.  But the views from this new place are an order of magnitude better.

On January 25th, I purchased not just the one over-priced (actually a blazing bargain, given what I was really buying) drink, but, after I had finished taking snaps, another.

I returned to the ME Radio Bar just over a week ago, but … later.

Friday February 07 2014

This was one of many pictures I took this afternoon, following a most agreeable and tasty lunch at the Windmill, courtesy of Michael Jennings:

image

A classic church dwarfed by modernity.  And off the top of the picture there is more modernity that I did not include, a lot of it being what used to be called the NatWest Tower, or Tower Something Numerical, as it’s now called.  It took me a while to hunt down this particular church, but I finally found it.

In the foreground, Blackfriars Station, the one on the bridge.

Sunday January 12 2014

On November 24th, which by my calculations is around seven weeks ago, I did a posting entitled Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50.

Today, also in Sainsbury’s, I found that my pleasure was not diminished:

image

I was just coming to the very final end of the stash I had purchased on November 24th, since which date, Nescafe Gold Blend has been stuck at £4.50.  Until today.

Small pleasures.  Including the pleasure of having bought exactly the correct amount, to tide me over until the next price reduction.

Friday January 03 2014

Occasionally I visit my two favourite electronic toy stores, Maplin’s and PC World, both in Tottenham Court Road, much of the reason they are both favourites being that I can visit both in one easy go, by walking down Tottenham Court Road from Warren Street, which is an easy ride from my nearest tube, Pimlico.

On my latest visit to PC World, I spied a 3D printer, looking rather forlorn and ignored, under a big sign saying SALE:

image

Around its base, you can just about make out various pointless florescent yellowy-green objects – semi-fish sculptures, very untrustworthy receptacles, ugly and uncomfortable bodily adornments, replacement chess pieces, and the like.  These objects come out badly in a photo of my sort because of their flourescence, which changes them, from regular objects with shapes and shadows into feeble and rather shadowless (and hence also rather shapeless) light bulbs.

As you can probably just about make out, for the privilege of owning this absurd device, you are asked to part with £1,195, although my bet is that a near offer might well suffice.

The domestic 3D printer, as I foresaw (that’s a Samizdata piece posted a year and a half ago), has so far been a classic dog-that-hasn’t-barked.  Will it ever?  That will require a killer app - objects easily and repeated made with a domestic 3D printer for a few pennies, not easily obtainable by just buying them, … and for the life of me I cannot think of such an object.  Ornamental food is my best shot.  Something hot, or maybe cold, which makes it hard to buy, even locally.  No doubt someone will think of something, and then 3D printing will erupt into popular affection and derision the way it hasn’t at all so far.

As Samizdata commenter Shirley Knott said:

I, for one, expect to be taken by surprise.

Me too.

Domestic printers were different, even when at their most primitive, e.g done with mechanised typewriting with ribbons or with little alphabet balls – or with big ugly dots.  Bits of paper, different every time but in the same format, saying different things each time but with the same black gunk every time, well, that’s a very useful process to have on tap.  A relentless supply of flourescent semi-fish, forget it.

Nevertheless, as other Samizdata commenters make very clear, 3D printing is already a huge contributor to the regular manufacturing economy, just as computers were, long before they also went domestic.

Someone should, as stated in the piece at the other end of the link, apply (better) 3D printing to this, and I bet someone is doing this, even as I blog.

I just googled (images) 3d printing architectural modelling.  Wow.

Saturday December 28 2013

For about one second this posting appeared here.  But then I realised it could just as well go there.  So, there it went.

Friday December 06 2013

One of the jobs of random blogs like this one is recommend such things as restaurants.  This is one of those postings.  If you read no further, just know that I recently dined at La Porte des Indes, and I liked it.  It’s just a short walk away from Selfridges in Oxford Street, where a friend had been working.  Address: 32 Bryanston Street.

So, to the details of why I liked it.  One: the food was very tasty.  Always a good start.  And while we were waiting, they gave us little plastic cups of soup, also very tasty.

However, although I like the way tasty food tastes, I now unable to consume very much food all at once.  Perhaps I am lucky, because being unable to eat too much, I am not becoming as fat as I might otherwise become, what with so much of the food I do eat being junk.

But there is a way in which I am often unlucky, which is when I am dining out.  Often, I just can’t manage to eat all that I am paying for.

So it is that a service I especially value is when I am allowed to take my leftovers away with me.  A restaurant willing to package up all my delicious but indigestible leftovers will now have a special place in my heart, and stomach.

La Portes Des Indes was not cheap, when I and a friend dined there about a fortnight ago.  But I still remember the delicious taste of the chicken, the pain of realising that my stomach would not be able to do it justice, and the small translucent plastic carton they used to put my spare chicken in, so that I could eat it later.  I’ve had bags made available in such circumstances before, but never a plastic carton.

I paid about twice what I usually want to pay when dining out, but I also dined twice over, once in the restaurant, and then again back home, the next day.

The place looks great as well.  The outside is unprepossessing, like a fast food joint at the bottom of an office block.  But when you step inside, it’s like you’ve entered the restaurant equivalent of the Tardis.  It’s really big.  It used to be a dance hall, so they said.  And the décor has been preserved from that era and added to, rather than stripped out and replaced with modernistic dreariness.  Plus, the ambient noise was not too loud and we could hear each other talk without any shouting.  Crucial, for me.  I often leave things early for this one reason.

Recommended.

Sunday November 24 2013

Indeed:

image

It is interesting how the prices of basic supermarket products now seems to fluctuate rather more than they used to.  My last stash of Gold Blend also cost £3 a go, for two.  Today, I bought three of these packets.  For the last few weeks it went up to £4.50, and I held off, waiting in hope of a price drop again.  Today, I was nearly out and would have to buy some, no matter what the price.  But, glory be, it was down to £3 again.

Could these fluctuations be a consequence of containers?  Is it that containers have made supplies of things like branded coffee less continuous, more prone to famine or feast?  And are we now enjoying a capitalist version of what happened under communism, in which suddenly a rumour would fly around Moscow saying that a consignment of meat had arrived, and immediately the queues would form.  With us, the news that Gold Blend is on offer at Sainsburys flies around on our mobile phones, or in this case is featured on my blog, at which point it’s first come first served.

Or is it merely that logistics geniuses, armed with super-computer-networks, are now able to do sums about the precise prices they need to charge at any particular moment for any particular thing, in order to make maximum use of scarce warehouse and store space?  If you get my meaning.

Or maybe it’s a bit of both?

Michael Jennings presumably knows the answer to these questions, because Michael Jennings (see the first two of these comments) knows everything .

Thursday November 21 2013

Time for an I-told-you-so moment.

I told the Australians not to rouse the kitten:

Darren Lehman may have made a bit of a mistake, when he called Broad a cheat for not walking when Broad was clearly out and should have been given out, and said that Australian crowds should have a go at Broad in the Ashes series this winter in Australia.  Lehman was only joking, but it was a joke he may regret.

But they went ahead and roused the kitten anyway.  Here is George Dobell reporting on Day One of the Ashes:

Rubbished, ridiculed and reduced - the front page of one Australian tabloid dubbed Broad a “smug pommy cheat” on the morning of the game - England, and Broad in particular, arrived with abuse ringing in their ears.

Broad, it was claimed by an Australian media stoked by their national coach, was little more than a medium-pacer whose disregard for the rules shamed him, while England’s batsmen were running scared of Australia’s pace attack.

But instead of wilting in the cauldron of the “Gabbatoir”, Broad appeared to revel in the occasion. Indeed, he even admitted he found himself whistling along as a large section of the crowd chanted “Broad is a w*****.”

This may be no surprise to the England camp. As part of their exhaustive preparation process - a process that was ridiculed at the start of the tour when sections of the Australian media were leaked details of England’s nutrition plans - England’s players were analysed by a psychologist and Broad was one of three who, in his words, “thrive properly on getting abuse”.

“It’s me, KP and Matt Prior,” Broad said. “So they picked good men to go at.

“It was good fun out there. I think I coped with it okay. It’s all good banter. Fans like to come, have a beer with their mates and sing along. I’m pleased my mum wasn’t here, but to be honest I was singing along at one stage. It gets in your head and you find yourself whistling it at the end of your mark. I’d braced myself to expect it and actually it was good fun. I enjoyed it.”

Australia 273-8.  Broad, so far: 20 overs 3 maidens 65 runs 5 wickets, including the first four, and including the one truly class act in the Oz top six, Clarke.