Yesterday was the official start of my preparation for Stagey’s stag-do weekend.
The RatRace DirtyWeekend Half-Mucker is 13 miles and 150 obstacles of assault-course mud-running.
It’s on Sat the 11th of May.
I.e. in 12 days.
I think I’ve left sufficient time to prepare(!)
In actual fact, yesterday’s preparation involved
a) driving to Decathlon to get a phone/ipod armband.
b) mapping out a training route on GoogleMaps(tm).
c) watching Jen laugh at me as my chances of completing the challenge became obvious.
However this morning I rose at 6 am and did my first 5-mile run/walk since beating Kebede that other time..
No, I will NOT tell you how long it took me.
But at least I managed it.
Posted by naz on 29 April, 2013
I came across this link from the Cheap Talk blog:
It is the best description and explanation of a differential gear I have seen, a 5 minute video that makes it very intuitive to understand.
Check it out: How a Differential Gear works
Posted by naz on 12 April, 2013
Great food in nine steps!
A description of the process.. read all the way through before having a go because not all the preparation is described chronologically!
We bought a new 2-litre ceramic oven dish for £3 from ASDA after my first pasta bake experiment because I wanted something bigger. This is my second attempt at a pasta bake (notwithstanding the potato/egg combo Ali baked for me years ago)
Step 1. Cook some pasta with salt, I mixed penne and macaroni about 4 big handfuls in total, drain it when cooked and spread most (70%) in the dish, leaving some for a top layer. I didn’t butter the dish or anything.
Step 2. The 3 chicken breasts and the 6 Linda McCartney Rosemary and Red Onion veggie sausages cooked for about 20+ mins in a gas 6 oven with a couple of turns. I then put the sausages on the pasta as a hidden treat (I wanted chorizo originally; chicken and chorizo in a creamy sauce with potatoes and onions is a killer! But the ladies are so picky with food, I ended up at the Co-op looking for ideas and found these non-offensive-to-anybody sausages (on a discount), and they worked brilliantly!!)
Step 3. I then added the pan-fried new/baby potatoes. A whole can, standard 400g or so (Co-op again), fried in butter with half a chopped onion and 2 large cloves of chopped garlic.
Step 4. I shaved about 1/4 of nice extra mature cheddar on top. 250g block, again a bargain from Co-op at £2 Mull of Kintyre
Step 5. The baked and cooked chicken breasts meanwhile were frying away with the other half of chopped onion and two 25g sachets of Creamy Peppercorn sauce from the guys at Schwartz. You’ll need to add some hot water and/or cream. I broke the breasts up into small chunks with the spatula as I stirred, and I also added some chilli for heat. Layer all this on top, but keep some sauce back to dribble on again on the top layer.
Step 6. Open a can of peas with a can-opener, taking care with the sharp edges of the tin that may cut you. Chuck as much as you like on top. I used
Posted by naz on 5 March, 2013
I think I’m finally getting it.
There were distinct stages in my adult cooking life that I imagine might resonate with other people who have lived away from home, as a student or young professional might.
I do think age (maturity) has something to do with it, but I will add that I have personally been influenced to move from Stage 2: Sufficiency to Stage 3: Exploration partly by the constant bombardment from cookery programmes on British telly.
As a young, beardless-and-wispy-mustachioed student I survived on eggs, sausages and chips. Necessity demanded I fuel this internal combustion engine, and therefore by necessity fuel was dumped in.
I then gradually bothered (NOT learnt; I have been cooking since I was a child) to graduate to delicious recipes that would suffice for me; an arsenal that would last a 7-day siege, sufficient to my needs.
But cookery programmes, a genre I used to scorn, have seeped into my conscience. Not, mind you, the stupid reality formats. But travel cookery, starting with the inimitable Keith Floyd, really piqued my curiosity when I saw them presented with a real harmonious view of food-as-culture. I don’t yet claim to know Mediterranean rustic cooking, for example, yet the mention of ‘oregano’ evokes such memories within me of scrambling in the Dolomites that I sense an urge to explore food in this light.
Anyways, my rustic sage and oregano chicken casserole will be ready soon (I get real itchy fingers with oven cooking where I can’t keep poking and fiddling with the dish) so hope you all have a good din din.
Posted by naz on 22 February, 2013
Had an unusual Valentine’s for a grumpy old so-and-so like me! Quite enjoyable..
When we realised that the Italian place we had our first romantic meal at was booked up to the eyeballs for Valentine’s, The Lady suggested a place based entirely on the goodwill of reviewers on TripAdvisor. I had a less-than-vague memory of walking past this place so many times without noticing it, but as part of our “Let’s-Be-Adventurous” scheme we booked a table.
And now we’re glad we did.
We ordered small lamb kofte, a chicken casserole for The Lady and a mixed grill for me, washed down with a nice Anatolian white wine called Cankaya.
The meat was superb, the chicken melting soft in the casserole, the sauces were full of flavour, the rice was nice and fluffy, the floor was strewn with rose petals, the music was identifiably Turkish but mellow and intriguing, and the service prompt but unobtrusive. We were sat down for two lovely hours.
I will definitely be going back to Saray to try some more dishes; and would happily recommend it to anyone. It feels (is) family-run, with the service and attention to detail that entails but without the shortcomings.
Posted by naz on 16 February, 2013
This thought has often struck me.. here, I’ll let the author of “Aid and other dirty business” Giles Bolton say it
For reasons of affordability rather than fashion, many if not most Africans now dress in cast-off Western clothing. Travelling round cities and countryside in Africa can be a surreal experience as you spot adults and children advertising obscure corporate conferences, dishwashing powder and stag weekends. (page 224)
It’s an engrossing book with a number of surprises about the AID business. I’ll give one example without spoiling the book entirely for any prospective reader..
America is the largest financier of food aid in Africa, for which it deserves huge credit…
…Yet starvation generally occurs not because there is an absence of food – traders can always buy it from other countries if there is demand – but because people can no longer grow or pay for it…
…Most American food aid, however, comes from America. Not only is it a lot more expensive, it’s an awfully long way away,…it take on average, five months to deliver…
…There are a number of winners from the American food-aid system. First are the few large agribusinesses allowed to bid for the contracts to provide several million tons of food aid each year…Then there are the US shipping firms who are guaranteed by law to get to transport at least 75 per cent of the food. This is rather a blessing for them as they’re not very competitive internationally, carrying only 3 per cent of America’s non-food-aid imports and exports. (page 204)
It carries on in this vein.
Very readable and highly enlightening, although I found the way he used anecdotes of his life in Africa to illustrate problems with the aid business rather poor.
Posted by naz on 14 January, 2013
Just finishing this book by Edward Luce. The full title is ‘In Spite Of The Gods: The strange rise of modern India’ and it is by some distance the best book about India’s recent history (from Independence in 1947 to 2006, when the book was published) that I’ve ever read.
Personally, I find most books written about India by non-Indians fall into one of the two categories: 1) the “Oh, Mystic-India, oh-so-spiritual” hippy kind and 2) the “India-must-do-better, filth-and-poverty” proscriptive kind.
To a half-Indian who grew up in India, both seem quite patronising if not downright condescending, even though they may make some genuine points.
The books Indians write about themselves are often no better; you find a puzzling disconnect with the real world beyond their borders, and an overblown estimation of their own worth that seems to stem from their belief in Ancient India’s achievements (similar to modern Greeks, I find).
Edward Luce’s book stands apart from these. He is clearly an India-phile, but doesn’t restrain from criticism where due. Scathing in parts, cajoling in others, he wants to see India do well, and he really seems to know his stuff. As well as having amassed an amazing number of interviews with top leaders, he has also put in a substantial amount of travelling and sight-seeing in the 5 years he spent in India.
The chapters of the book are arranged in an order that seems incoherent at first glance, judging solely by the titles. But in fact they knit together so well in the telling of the story of India. There is quite a lot of emphasis on the economics; it is a “big picture” book, which is not surprising given Mr. Luce’s background as a Financial Times’s Bureau Chief of South Asia at the time of writing.
A must-read for anyone trying to get a grip on the history, politics and economics of modern India.
Posted by naz on 7 November, 2012
Just listened to an old compilation of metal ballads that I threw together circa 2001 A.D.
The playlist that Young Naz chose as appropriate for a ‘Metal Ballads’ cd is this:
1. Pink Floyd – Time
2. Testament – Return To Serenity
3. Metallica – To Live Is To Die
4. Deep Purple – When A Blind Man Cries
5. Rainbow – I Surrender
6. Ozzy Osbourne – So Tired
7. Ozzy Osbourne – Tonight
8. Megadeth – A Tout Le Monde
9. Whitesnake – Is This Love
10. Dio – Don’t Talk To Strangers
11. Bruce Dickenson – Chemical Wedding
12. Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell
Say what you like, I still enjoyed those songs!
Posted by naz on 18 October, 2012
Finally getting the chance to upload this little post about a film I saw at The Cornerhouse the other day (Sat the 6th of Oct) with the Film Meetup Group, although there was very little of the ‘group’ about them.
‘Untouchable’ (French: Intouchables) is a film about the relationship that develops between a French billionaire wheelchair-bound quadriplegic and a Senegalese from the Parisian projects who becomes his handyman, and later, friend.
The billionaire’s role is played by Francois Cluzet, and the handyman’s by Omar Sy. Both bring something special to the role; it is the genuine warmth and delightful interplay between the two characters that really makes this film work, because the script itself doesn’t wander too far from the predictable. Described as a comedy, I found it was much more than that, a truly multi-dimensional film. Would I recommend you see it? Go now.
One thing that bothered me was learning that the original person on whom the Senegalese character is based (since this is a true-life story) is actually Algerian; did the producers think a Senegalese would play better to the audiences than an Algerian? And is that judgement reflective of current French attitudes? Or is there simply a dearth of talented Algerian actors in France?
Posted by naz on 17 October, 2012
I’ve seen the film ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ described as a “romantic sci-fi drama”. That displays an astounding ignorance about what sci-fi (SCIENCE-fiction) means: “A man with a GENETIC condition that causes him to SUDDENLY DISAPPEAR into the near future or past…” is not a premise based on any remotely plausible concept of science and therefore is not a sci-fi story.
What it is, is a ‘Deus ex machina’ cop-out tool used by an incompetent thinker. To be fair, if the author didn’t call it sci-fi themselves, then it’s not their fault. I guess it’s more likely the lazy book reviewers that are to blame.
Leave the science out of it, call it plain and simple fiction. Mentioning ‘genes’ or ‘time-travel’ does not make it sci-fi.
Posted by naz on 23 August, 2012