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Archive for the category “Food”

Busy Busy

I slacked off from writing posts last week – primarily just because I was ridiculously busy, and didn’t get round to it.

The week before had already been daftly busy, including travel to Newcastle for a couple of days, and then social and busy bits on both weekend days.

I can’t even remember now what I did on the Monday – I know I was out, I just can’t recall where/why. That can’t be a good sign.

Then Tuesday evening I was seeing The The at the Royal Albert Hall, and on Wednesday evening seeing them at Brixton Academy, as I may have mentioned before (on more than one occasion)  Both nights were great, but on neither occasion was I home before 1am, nor in bed before 3am. And also working during the day.

Thursday was no better, although at least it was more local, by going to the local Geek Night for a bundle of presentations and connections.

And then Friday was supposed to be quieter, “just popping out” for food at a local event, that then meeting friends and chatting, meaning I didn’t actually leave ’til gone 11pm.

Saturday was a day in London, starting with cocktails and lunch at one of my favourite places, The Alchemist in Bevis Marks (near the base of the Gherkin) followed by a play called “Sancho – An Act of Remembrance” at Wilton’s Theatre.

And today was another food event in Milton Keynes, and this evening I’ve finally stopped and been able to relax a bit.

So. That’s my reasons for not updating over the last week.   I think it’s a pretty good list, but other opinions may differ. 🙂

 

Toronto

So, where was I last week?  To cut a long story short, Toronto.

Basically, last year I got really lucky.  CocaCola had a summer holiday promotion where the label of each Coke product was printed with a design and a code. And as I drink a lot of it, I thought “What the hell”, and kept entering codes from them.

And I won.

At the time, they were saying that you could claim the holiday at the destination on the winning label – and in my case the winning label was for Dublin. I really wasn’t overly bothered – I’ve been to Dublin, after all. But I got to the point of thinking “Sod it, might as well claim, at least it’s a break”, and then when I spoke to them they said “Which destination on the list did you want?”.  So I went back to the list, and saw that Toronto was on there, which has always been on my list.  And that’s what I did.

The prize was actually for up to four people, and included flights, half-board hotel, and transfers between the two. All told, quite a significant contribution.  I only went with one friend in the end, with a room each, so it was all good.

The run-up to the break had been fraught – it’s where a lot of the “You had one job” post came from – but the break itself went well. (It turned out that the agency in question had made fuck-ups in every single aspect of the booking, although I’d caught all but one in the run-up to the holiday, and the last one finally bit us in Toronto, where the agency had booked the transfer to the wrong hotel – same brand, different location, a $100 taxi ride apart)

All of those fuck-ups are being dealt with, and have been referred back to both the agency and to CocaCola as well, so it should be entertaining to see what crap hits the fan from that.

Anyway, the week itself was great. We had a hotel right in downtown Toronto, which meant that everything was easily available, and during the week, we covered pretty much everything we wanted to in the city. It’s a very walkable city, and we covered about 70 miles all told during the week. As well as the classic touristy stuff (CN Tower, driving to Niagara Falls etc.) we got to do culturey stuff including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and also visiting most of the local districts and regions within the city. It’s been busy, but not hyper-busy.

We got back yesterday, having been awake from 6am Toronto time, flying back at 18:30 Toronto time, arriving at Heathrow at 06:30 BST, and I then beasted my way through ’til gone 10pm on Sunday before admitting defeat. Hopefully that should enable me to reset my body-clock somewhat.

It’s been well worth it though, and all told I reckon it’s pretty much balanced out a bundle of the money I’ve given to CocaCola over the years…

Sugar Tax

On Friday, the UK introduced a “Sugar Tax” on sweet drinks, purportedly to help reduce childhood obesity. Will it work? Personally, I doubt it.

There’s a few reasons – first and foremost, that a lot of manufacturers have already chosen to reduce the sugar levels in their drinks to put them into lower rates for the sugar tax.

Connected to that, diet and zero-calorie versions of most of those drinks have been available for years. If people haven’t chosen to swap by now, will paying 10p extra make them change? Probably not.  There’s not even a really visible price difference – at least two of the shop chains I use regularly have upped the price on all the drinks, not just the sugary ones, which also defeats the object.  If there were a visible difference ( “I can buy 500ml of the sugary one for £1.50, or the diet one for £1.35, so I’ll save money”) then it might work, but without that, I don’t see that there’s a real driver to force the change.

Alongside that, I *personally* have a problem with government telling me how to be healthy, and attempting to enforce that. I have the same issue when it comes to smoking, the way government encourages people to stop smoking, while also getting massive amounts of income from the tax and duty on cigarettes. (This also applies for alcohol, telling people to drink less while getting the income from the tax and duty, and so on and so on)

I also suspect that there’s a lot more damage done by the ‘invisibly’ sweet drinks – the bizarre creamy milky super-sweet concoctions from Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa et al – which now seem to be far more prevalent than sweet fizzy drinks.   I suspect there’s a lot more of the obesity blame that can be laid on the coffee culture now than can be laid at the soft-drinks industry.  I’m not even sure that the coffee chains are being hit by the sugar tax – I haven’t seen any mention of it being on anything except the soft-drinks industry.

It’ll be interesting to see the results – although of course the government will always claim it to have been a massive success, even when it’s a clusterfuck of monumental proportions – but I really don’t expect to see it have any positive effects on reducing obesity, whether in children or adults.

Burns’ Night

Last night, as you may or may not know (or care) was Burns’ Night in the UK.  For the first time, I went out for it, going to one of my favourite Scottish places in London, Mac and Wild, who had a special Burns’ Night menu for a fairly respectable price.

Being Scots themselves, the owners had made sure the entire thing was really good – the food was (as usual) great, and so was the atmosphere, with a live piper playing at the entrance (and for the toasting of the Haggis) as well as pipe-based music in the restaurant. In short, it couldn’t have been much more Scottish if they’d tried.

I’d never done a Burns’ Night properly before, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire thing. I’ve even got a copy of the whole “toasting of the Haggis” process and poem now, which makes for interesting reading…

Overall, I can see me booking myself in for another one next year – although it’s still undecided whether I’ll try somewhere else, or stick with the Mac and Wild I already know…

Weekend Of Idiocy

The weekend just gone was the one that had been noted as being a completely daft one, even by my standards. It involved a lot of mileage, a fair amount of walking, and a piss-poor amount of sleep.

Saturday had been “planned” for a while, with a full day in London – starting off with the festive version of the Taste festival at Tobacco Dock. I’d got in early (as usual) and walked down to Tobacoo Dock, getting there in plenty of time.

Also as usual, the organisation of Festive Taste was… kinda flawed. The tickets said it started at 12-noon, the email from the ticket people said “Ooops, sorry, we meant 11.30“. Except it actually opened at 11. Genius.    And once we were in, it turned out that none of the food places were actually starting until at least 11.15, and in some cases nothing was ready ’til 12.  Not good – but standard.   The Festive version also appears to be far more focused on booze than on food, which (for me) is annoying, but there we go. It was still worth going, but I was out within 90 minutes.

In the evening I was at the theatre, seeing Stockard Channing in Apologia. It’s an interesting play, and I really enjoyed it – there may be more thoughts later, I’m not sure yet – and then headed home, getting back at around half one.  Which would’ve been OK, except that…

On the Sunday I was on the road by 7.30, heading up to Middlesbrough to see friends, and then on to Durham in the late afternoon to see the Lumiere festival, one of my favourite events. Again, I’ll probably write more about it later on – for now though, The Guardian has great pictures of a lot of it here.

A great day, but a long one – and then drove home, getting back about half two on Monday morning. It would’ve been earlier, but it turns out that the M1 was closed (and hadn’t been announced anywhere when I was driving up) for two whole junctions, and the diversion that was in place added a good forty minutes to the drive. Which was a pain, but there we go.

And even that would all have been sensible (ish. Kinda) if it weren’t for the fact I was also on-site in the other office on Monday morning, so I was in Chesham by 8am…

I really am an idiot.

New Year

Normally, I don’t celebrate New Year – I couldn’t give a shit about midnight, Auld Lang Syne, fireworks and so on. Entirely not my thing.

However, over the last few years, I’ve been going out for meals on New Year’s Eve, and being back home (or, more usually, still driving home on beautifully clear and empty roads) by midnight.

This year though, it’s all a bit underwhelming – even the offering at Helene Darroze (where I went last year) is disappointing, as there’s very little change from what I had last year. There’s nowhere else that’s massively grabbing me as a “want to try” (or at least nowhere that’s currently released their menu)  so for now, I’m really not sure what I’m going to be doing.

Mind you, right now I’m actually quite OK with that, of actually doing sod-all for New Year.

2016/17 – What Happened ?

So, a year ago I listed the following as the plans for 2016/17

  1. Continue rebuilding the finances, and keep boosting the savings
  2. Exercise, improve health, lose weight
  3. Complete September’s walking marathon – ideally in under seven hours. (My target is more ambitious than that, but I’ll be happy with 7 hours)
  4. Write more. (And ideally complete/publish some)
  5. Do more of the ideas around my own business
  6. Get out less.  Ideally, some kind of middle-ground between being ultra-quiet/sensible, and the idiocy of the last year
  7. Look more at some political ideas, and see how that goes. (This one’s the random ‘maybe’ one, I don’t know if anything will happen with it or not)

How did it go?

  1. Finances : Yeah, not bad.  Not at the totals I wanted to be at (which is a familiar theme) but I did what I wanted to, so I’m happy with that one
  2. Health : Less so. I haven’t gained any weight, but nor have I lost much. Good intentions have been undermined by an utter failure on Number 6, and life getting in the way of things
  3. Walking Marathon : Failed utterly, as I’ve wittered about at length.  But I’m already signed up for the 2018 one…
  4. Write more : Failed utterly. There are ideas, but as with Health, I’ve been abysmal at doing less, so yeah. Bugger.
  5. Own Business : Kinda. I’ve written out more of the plans, got some ideas in code, and been looking at other stuff. But actually done? Nope.
  6. Get Out Less : Also an utter failure.  I’ve been out loads, and in many ways have kept even busier than I did in 2015/16 – less Michelin-starred restaurants, but more things
  7. Politics : Looked at the ideas, but in the current political climate of Brexit and so on, getting involved on that score strikes me as…. less than wise.

So what’s on the list for 2017/18? Well, we’ll cover that tomorrow…

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