Over to Blogger.com. The new address is http://eatyourcarots.blogspot.com/.
Over to Blogger.com. The new address is http://eatyourcarots.blogspot.com/.
We went to Saltburn today, once again ignoring the BBC's best attempts to keep us indoors with their flaky weather forecasts. Saltburn (or Saltburn-By-The-Sea, to give it its full title) is on the coast of Cleveland, and is the home of the North East's only surviving pier. In fact, it was recently (yesterday, as it happens) voted Pier Of The Year!
It's great fun, you can play for hours even if you don't actually make the things into covers. It's amazing how many come up looking quite genuine - maybe this is how artists come up with album names & covers.
Incidentally the first time I tried it Wiki came up with "The Clash" as my band name and "London's Burning" as the title. Half of that sentence is a lie.
Type your first name into Google followed by the word needs (so "steven needs") and write down the top 10 things that google says you need.
Google Translate - what a wonderful tool that could be. If only it could be trusted...
According to Google Translate the English equivalent of
So which word in that sentence is the word for English? français perhaps? I thought that must surely mean "French".
It doesn't just cock that up in French translation either. I tried Dutch and hey presto:
How bizarre. There is a button on the translate page that lets you "suggest a better translation". Needless to say I've posted my suggestions.
I wonder how that all works? Rather than actually translating text does it look up what people consider to be the best translation of something? That could be interesting if enough people suggest that a better translation of a pretty common phrase be something totally totally meaningless or amusing.
Suggestions on a postcard.
It was our 23rd anniversary today. That's half my life now, but it doesn't seem like it. In many ways it seems like only yesterday, and that must be an indication of just how happy we've been. Happy events (great holidays, good movies, any time off work for any reason) just seem to fly by and that's what's happened here. And besides, I don't actually feel old enough to have been married that long!
We went to The Golden Lion in Osmotherley for lunch. It was fabulous. A proper country pub, with low ceilings, uneven floors and a real fire, in a village that still has hens wandering around it (above)!
It's a well known food pub, and the vegetarian choices are very good. I started with a goat's cheese and Mediterranean vegetable terrine, which was delicious, chalky-dry but flavoursome and tangy, followed by a vegetable risotto that was so rich and creamy I could feel my arteries thickening with each mouthful! Wife had Tomato Soup followed by Vegetable Shepherd's Pie topped with Goat's Cheese Mash (below).
This was to exactly the recipe that she makes her own to (one of Delia's, FYI) and this one was every bit as tasty as her own. It seemed strange to not be having it two days running (the one wife makes is so huge it does us two meals!).
We topped the day off with a walk around the village, tea (cup of) in the tea shop there and then home to watch Iron Man on DVD with the cat curled up on our laps.
A lovely day!
What a pathetic load of twaddle all of the furore about the Strictly Come Dancing "voting fiasco" is. For instance The Daily Mail says "Strictly outraged: All three couples make the final after scoring bungle leaves Tom in certain dance-off". Scoring bungle? Where was the bungle? It was just scoring, and how it worked out can hardly be declared "a bungle". Couples have tied for position before, and the points system adopted in the case of tied positions is pretty standard. Bad luck that this left Tom adrift and facing a certain dance off, but the dance off is where he deserved to be anyway.
I can't believe that people actually bothered emailing in with comments such as "I'll never watch the show again". Why? What actually happened to make you feel that way? The worst dancer came bottom of the leader board? For Gods sake grow up. Perhaps we could have done away with however many weeks of dancing and just had the public vote once for "who's your favourite celebrity" and let that be that. John Sargent wins and Tom comes second. Yawn.
I watch the show for what it is - a dancing competition, and if the best dancer doesn't win then that's a complete travesty. Whoever votes for just "their favourite", irrespective of how good they are, are somewhat missing the point. Lisa was hopeless to start with, but now she's superb. Rachel has set more record scores in this show than anyone ever has. Tom is good, but he's the worst of the three. Simple fact. But let's all email and phone and complain when it looks like he might go out. Oh, and then when he's reprieved, lets all complain about that too.
Come on. No one died; no kittens were harmed; it's all just entertainment.
This is our favourite "Winter Warmer" soup - though it's more of a meal in a bowl than a soup.
It's carrots, leek, mushrooms, smoked tofu, peas and sweetcorn - lots of sweetcorn, the majority of which is liquidised. Adapted from a recipe for Smoked Cod Chowder the Smoked Tofu works beautifully well in it.
Poor Charley Cat just won't go out of the house at the moment. He seems to have been scared out of his wits by all the fireworks of recent days, even though there seem to have been less of them than usual this year. He seems to have gotten into his own mind when it's safe and when it's not safe to go out. He'll pop out during daylight hours, though during our working week that's not an option for him, but he won't go out at night until after 1am. I've even tried taking him out and standing with him, to show that it's safe, but he just makes a dash back to the door and up to bed. Or rather under it. During daylight he sleeps on our bed, at night he goes under it, like he's hiding from the bangs and the flashes.
I'm sure he'll be back to normal after a few more days without bangs and flashes, though there are always some idiots who continue setting off fireworks well after Guy Fawkes night.
We went to Flatbread today. Basically Flatbread is a cafe in Newcastle that is themed around, you guessed it, flatbread! The dishes that you order come in bowls with no knife or fork (just a serving spoon) and the idea is that you just eat them with your fingers and/or the bread.
The dishes themselves come from around the world but are all dishes that are suited to the theme of being eaten with flatbread. Familiar favourites such as Hummus are there, along with other dips (both hot and cold) and curry-style dishes too - they even do soups though I'm not sure how you eat those! Dishes are in sections of £3, £5 and £7 and you can pick as many from each section as you want. Those in the £3 section are all cold dips.
We washed it all down with a freshly pressed juice of Apple, Celery, Cucumber, Orange Juice & Spirulina (yes, blue/green algae, though I'm not certain it's the same stuff that makes lakes unsafe to swim in!). It's the green glass at the back of the picture above and whilst unusual it was not as disgusting as it may sound, thanks mainly to the other ingredients!
Desert (below) was a tasty treat. Forget cheeseboard, here they do chocolate board! A bit of a misnomer since it comes in a bowl and not on a board, but I forgive them. Hight quality hand-made chocolate comes in shards, along with some white chocolate coated fruit slices and a bowl of creme fraiche and fruit puree to dip it in. It was totally delicious to me, a chocoholic, and totally delicious but very sickly to wife, who doesn't quite have my chocability. Oh, we also had spiced banana and rum cake too, so perhaps that helps explain the feeling of sickness!
Desert was washed down by a lovely cup of coffee, served in a cup with no handles that you have to lift to your mouth (using the very clever insulated section) with two hands. It all feels very "nomadic".
Service was brisk, efficient and friendly and wait times were minimal. Because of the menu and the dining style it's the kind of place where you can just decide to add another dish as you are eating, if you feel up to it, until such point as you have eaten your fill. Four dishes, two breads and two deserts between us was more than enough for us.
They also do lunch time specials which looked good value at £5 for a wrap and a soup, and a "Bedou Feast" which is a £7, a £5 and a £3 dish, along with a bread, for £15. This really just saves you the price of the bread (£1.75).
Flatbread is on High Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne, which is the first right turning off Northumberland Street (the main shopping street) as you walk past the fire station towards the Tyne Bridge. You can't miss it.
Flatbread 10/10, a superb dining experience.
AJ had his first Halloween party today - a case of been there, done that, got the T-Shirt Bib.
He hasn't half grown since the last time I posted some pictures of him, some 5 months ago. It really is true that they grow up quickly, so quickly in fact that we daren't go more than a few days without seeing him for fear that he'll have got married and moved abroad since last we saw him!
Naturally all the usual suspects were at the party...
... and naturally there were scary cakes to eat. It was all too exciting for AJ and he was fast asleep before the night was very old.
I had a life changing experience the other night - Vegetarian "Fish Fingers". I've tried vegetarian fish products before and they were terrible, but these were lovely. As far as my memory serves me, they tasted as good as the real thing. So now those long lost childhood favourite treats, Fish Finger Sandwiches, are back on the menu.
I bought mine from ASDA but they don't have any more in now, so I bought some more direct from the manufacturer via their online shop. Delivered within 48 hours they came in an insulated box with a couple of ice packs to keep them cool.
The manufacturer, Redwood Foods, do a whole host of "cheating" products including Pepperami! I'll have to try a few more things from their range.
We had visitors this weekend - our friends Helga & Walter from Belgium. I first met them seven years ago in York and then a little while later in Belgium, having first made contact vis the travel site VirtualTourist. They're a lovely couple and we all get along very well. I couldn't believe that it had been 6 years since we last saw them - it just shows how time flies.
They've just been over to The Lakes for a week of touring on their motorbike, though unfortunately the weather was unkind to them. A couple of weeks earlier they'd been to Santorini, and as we had also just returned from Greece it seemed only natural to go to Kaminaki, my favourite Greek restaurant that's outside of Greece!
The restaurant lived up to its usual high standards and all of the food was first rate. It was a little inconvenient that they brought everything at once rather than in the starters/mains way that we'd asked for it, but I'll forgive them this as everything else was so good. It was quite fun trying to balance little plates here and there and make a bit more room for the other dish that just arrived...
It was a pity that Walter was feeling a bit unwell, the result perhaps of some "pie" that he had eaten a day or so earlier, so he wasn't able to enjoy the meal to its fullest. They insisted on paying too, for which we thank them once again.
The next day they set off for home, via the Yorkshire coast. I wonder when and where we'll meet again - who knows, it may be in Greece one year.
OK, OK, I know I haven't written a thing about my recent (amazing) trip to the Cyclades, but as a post-script to that visit I've got a new favourite website. It's a bit geeky perhaps, and not of general interest to many, but it is an amazing piece of work and shows just what can be done with the Google Maps API.
The site is MarineTraffic.com and it uses Google Maps to show the locations of ships. Primarily at the moment it's limited to Europe, more particularly the Med and more particularly the Aegean. But that's perfect for me! It does cover areas beyond the Aegean to an extent, and even shows ships on the Rhine at Dusseldorf, Duisberg etc.
It's pretty extensive and you can click on a ship to find out more information about it (destination, ETA, vessel specs & photos, trace of where it's been) and you can upload your own photos if you have some (and I have some!).
I could play on it all day, watching to see where our favourite ferries - Blue Star Superferry II, Naxos, Paros and Ithaki; Hellenic Seaways High Speed 3; ANES Simi II and Aegli; King Saron and a host of others we've come to know and love.
It's a bit processor intensive mind, especially when zoomed out just due to the number of ships it has to draw!
Have a look, at least once.
Usually when you go away on holiday the mantra of the three things you have to remember is "passport, tickets, money". Not for us this year. Thanks to those uselessly inefficient wallies at Kosmar we don't have to worry about tickets this year, as they've forgotten to send us any. Instead we have to join yet another queue at the airport to pick up our tickets there, before joining the queue to check in. Bleary-eyed at 3am, joining more queues than I really ought to is not something I relish.
SIL & BILG took delivery of their new baby boy today. Weighing in at 5lb 5oz he turned up a couple of weeks early, and yet still managed to have us all waiting. SIL went into hospital on Wednesday and not much happened at all until this morning and then suddenly it was all over. A beautiful baby boy, Alexander John.
Congratulations to them both from all of us.