Saturday, February 25, 2006

KGS Class of 71 Reunion

Dilys Shepherd (nee Crumpton) has dropped me a note to say the next class reunion for those of us who left Kenilworth Grammar School in 1971 is likely to be Saturday 9th September 2006 at Warwick University. Further details to follow when I have them.

Two alumni who remain elusive are Linda Scott and Ben Eykyn (aka Richard Eykyn). If anyone knows their whereabouts please drop me a line and I will foward details to Dilys.

The last reunion that I attended was on Saturday 27 October 2001 (see photos).

Friday, February 24, 2006

Southern France: a new World of Wine

Yesterday was another tough night of eating and drinking in pursuance of our corporate mission - "To eat, drink and have a good time". Once again it was wine tasting at the Charteris Wine Society* which Carolyn described as a wine society with a consultancy attached. Simon, the presenter, did well against the "open outcry" style of discussion.

Coteaux du Languedoc, Domaine Clavel, Cascaille 2003 [GBP 6.95]

Lots of comments around light tropical fruits

Viognier, Vin de Pays d'Oc, Domaine Cazel Viel 2004 [GBP 7.99]

More of an "old world" style with 30% new oak barrels

Domaine Alquier Grand Blanc 2003 [GBP 12.95]

Generally felt to be a bit flat and disappointing.

Le Soula Blanc, Vin de Pays des Cotes Catalanes 2002 (Gauby) [GBP 18.00]

This had an extraordinary nose. All around the room aromatic, toasty suggestions were made like fennel, caraway, fresh baked bread. A big favourite with the crowd. I might be tempted to a bottle or two just out of interest but I am not sure it is full VFM

Corbiere, Domaine du Trillol 2001 [GBP 6.25]

Very sweet berry notes and not liked by most - except me

Syrah, Vin de Pays d'Oc, Domaine Cazal Viel 2003 [GBP 7.99]

Conversely this one I did not like as I felt it was lacking fruit but it was much favoured by the others

Domaine de Perdiguier, Vin de Pay des Coteaux d'Ensurune 2000 [GBP 9.95]

Lots of comments like "tarry", "licquorice", "jammy", "cedary"

Cotes du Roussillon Village, Vielles Vignes 2001 (Gauby) [GBP 24.00]

This was the dark one almost at the amarone / port level of intensity. Definitely one for the cheese board

Several memorable quotes from the evening stick in my mind:

"A bargain is something you don't want at a price you can't resist"
"A Dolly Parton of a wine"
and a sensible suggestion
"Drink less, spend more"

After all life *is* too short to drink bad wine.

* See also "Wines from the Veneto" and "New World versus Old"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My cup runneth over

At the start of the year Rosa blogged a recipe for "Hoppin John". As a Brit, I had never heard of such a dish which sent me rushing to Google to find out more about this traditional Southern US dish.

One question I have of Rosa, or anyone else who cares to answer, is why do Americans use Cups in their recipes? What is wrong with weights for solids and measures for liquids? A cup of a solid ingredient seems so imprecise (although I know cooking is an art not a science).

My theory is that in the pioneering days of the wild west the early settlers did not have access to sophisticated European devices like scales and graduated jugs so they made do with the basic kitchenware they had to hand.

Working from US cookbooks causes me a problem. How much is a cup? A typical UK recipe will quote both Imperial and Metric units, the conversion factors for which are well known and precise. As far as I can tell a cup is 8 fluid ounces or 240 ml (rounding a bit, in fact 1 fl oz = 28 ml not 30). So that will do for me.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

On the nature of obsession

And he was alright, the band was all together *

Watching Thumpermonkey at the gig last Friday I was impressed by the level of musicianship. The musicians were well synchronised and the speed of Michael Woodman's fingerwork on the fret spoke eloquently of many thousands of hours of practice in a teenage bedrooms.

A number of years ago I saw a street entertainer at the Edinburgh festival on the slack wire. He used one foot to kick up and catch on his head first a saucer, then a cup and finally a teaspoon. After the second attempt with the teaspoon bounced out he remarked "I have to practice this a thousand times for you to see me do it once!". The third attempt was successful to great applause.

Now if someone washes their hands a hundred time a day, or checks and re-checks the chairs are exactly squared up to the table, or whatever, they are described as Obsessive-Compulsive. If a musician practices the scales, or a particular song, over and over and over and over till they get it right they are a dedicated perfectionist. Hmmm! It is indeed a thin line between genius and madness.

* Lady Stardust by David Bowie

Friday, February 17, 2006

There's a rat in mi kitchen

what am I gonna do? is the track that has been on repeat in the mental jukebox this week*. Well not actually in my kitchen but in the dustbin (US: trash can) where it had been for a week or so. I've no idea how it got in but the plastic sides were so smooth that it couldn't get out again. By the time I found it, it was an ex-rat, it had squeaked its last. So I bagged it up with the other domestic rubbish and it is now gone but the song remains...

* Rat in mi kitchen by UB40

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You never can tell

Saturday night was another family outing, this time with Mum&Dad, Ian&Sarah and an Australian couple, friends of Ian's now living in London. We went to see George Bernard Shaw's "You Never Can Tell" at The Garrick.

Most enjoyable, more laugh-out-louds than I was expecting and some biting comments of the battle of the sexes. I do not know what impact it had when it first came out but 100 years on a number of the lines were s-o-o non-PC they caused a collective sharp intake of breath from the audience. I suspect deliberately provocative on GBS's part.

A fine ensemble cast with the old veteran Edward Fox providing ham so thick it should be on the Deli counter at Waitrose.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Thumpermonkey Gig Review

Friday night started of with supper at Quaglino's and a tour of the Three Emperors exhibition at the Royal academy. Some stunningly beautiful art and artifacts. Then for a drastic switch of culture from ancient to modern it was off to the Thumpermonkey gig at Storm in Leicester Square.

Thumpermonkey features Michael Hutchinson (the nephew formerly known as Ben) on bass, Michael Woodman on guitar and David Croshaw on drums. Family and friends were there to show support and pack out the venue. Michael H. definitely looked the part, v. cool and definitely into being a rock'n'roll star.

They did a half hour set which was good and loud. The music reminded me a little of Marilyn Manson but features plenty of changes of rhythm and tempo. I caught my food tapping at one point so 'old-fogey-ism' hasn't yet fully set in <G>. At the end of the set I bought the CD which has given me a better chance to appreciate the music. The volume of a live gig makes the ribcage vibrate and the ear hum afterwards so one gets more of the atmosphere than the subtleties of the composition.

Oh, and hello to the redhead to said she occasionally reads the blog.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Slitter, Shoggle and Snook

Saturday's Doric hilarity was triggered by using a new word I learned from May when the Scottish contingent were down just before Christmas, slitter: to eat or drink messily. I remarked that we had had to go via the cottage to change my clothes because I had slittered down my pullover and Effie almost fell off her chair laughing.

Scottish vernacular has some very useful words that are either far more evocative or seem to fit a concept more neatly than any English word. My favourites, noting Mary's Ayrshire variant spellings, are:

• shoggle: To sway, move unsteadily, to rock, wobble, swing. As is "Went for a shuggle on the Clockwork Orange" [Took a bumpy ride on the Glasgow Metro]
• snoke: To sniff, smell, scent out, as a dog, snuff, poke with the nose. As in "When we let Cleo out of the cat basket she has a good snook round"
• pouk: To pluck, twitch, tug, pull sharply. As in "That cat of yours has put a pook in my jumper"

Definitions courtesy of the Dictionary of the Scots Language.

See previous posts: [Laldy], [Shove yer Granny], [Sark].

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Third cousins

Although this could have been titled "Home but not alone 3" [2] [1] or "Spend time with your family 2" [1]. Mary went up to Scotland to spend time with her mum which turned into a weekend of baby-sitting the wee 'uns so that George&Sandra could spend a child-free weekend in Dundee.

At Mary's prompting, it has to be gratefully acknowledged, I went and likewise spent the weekend with my Mum (and Dad, of course) which was much appreciated by Mum. Down to Farnham for Friday night and a meal at the local Italian.

Then Saturday we drove down to Winton near Bournemouth to visit my father's second cousins Ken&Effie (Euphemia) who I had not seen since our wedding in '93. Several hours were spent amusing them with my grasp of Doric (the dialect of Lowland Scots spoken in the north-east of Scotland) thanks to my having married an Ayrshire lass.

Then a quiet Saturday in just chatting and spending "quality time" with the Ageds. And a good thing too. As they get older I am ever more conscious of spending time with them while I still can. So another win for New Year's Resolution #4.