Thursday, 28 January 2010

Red Hot Poker Face

Played real live poker with real live people last night for the first time in years. Six of us round at Paul's house, proper green baize with casino-standard chips & cards plus beer & pizza galore, football on in the background and men being men. It was brilliant, not least because I came away with a tidy profit and didn't have to pawn one of the children :)

Hopefully we can do it again soon but for the moment, here's Nick "Crafty Butcher" Hughes, who cleaned out at least two of the others in some tense 'all-in' action, in full-on WSOP mode:

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Thank You For The Days

Just back from a wonderful weekend away; a birthday treat from my excellent wife Solveig (in conjunction with the as-per-usual top-notch babysitting services provided by mum & dad, for which much thanks are due).

Having nipped off early on Friday afternoon and taken the appropriate exit off the M4 (indeed, we had to Turn After Reading*), we headed for the picturesque Goring-on-Thames in which nestles The Miller Of Mansfield, as recommended on Mr & Mrs Smith. Really nice little 'boutique' pub hotel with a fantastic restaurant (do try the shin of beef, it was as melty as it gets) as well as a snug bar with a log fire and a decent selection of gins. We realised when we arrived that we had somehow forgotten how to relax; indeed, it took a while for us to stop wondering where on earth the kids were. But unwind we did and with some walks along the (thin end of the) Thames and a trip up to Bicester on the Saturday, it was a properly brilliant break from the Smoke.

Due to good planning, we also squeezed in an extra treat on the way back, in the form of a visit to Heston Blumenthal's pub in Bray, the Hind's Head (in fact, as we were a bit early, we went looking for the Fat Duck, but somehow never found it!) and what a treat it was. We were tempted by the Sunday roast, but both decided on pies, having been advised by a few people that they were worth the journey. We did start with a Scotch (quail's) egg each, though, and these were splendid - by turns crispy, meaty and perfectly soft:

Hinds Head Scotch EggHinds Head Scotch Egg

For our mains we had Shepherds Pie (with lamb leg, breast and sweetbreads topped with mustard mash) and Spinach & Mushroom Pie (served with a Jerusalem artichoke sauce). They were both outstanding and tasted as good as they look:

Hinds Head Shepherds PieHinds Head Shepherds Pie

Hinds Head Spinach & Mushroom PieHinds Head Spinach & Mushroom Pie

After a full weekend of indulgence, we simply couldn't face dessert, so we'll just have to go back and try the rest of the menu at some point. Right, dear?

Anyway, what a brilliant weekend - almost enough to make me forget that next year is THAT ONE :)

* I'm truly sorry, I really am

Overheard #103

Unsurprisingly, at work, just now:
"Yes, but presumably Edgar Allan Poe never had to try and put a pie chart in his manuscript."

Monday, 25 January 2010


Time for Week 2 of Euphemisms Of The Week already? OK, let it roll.

Recently observed on the web of shame:
  • Eating the prawn spoon
  • Playing ping-pong out the back
  • Hiding in the Wendy house
  • Stealing the lunch-box
  • Buffing the laptop
More to follow...

Thursday, 21 January 2010


...would be to overdo last night's result, but a picture paints a thousand words:

However, as Rowan, a Chelsea fan for whom I have the utmost respect, said (on Twitter):
Get back to me in May and we'll talk
Nuff said.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

At Home With Fourstar

My good friend Alex recently posted the following question over at his blog:

and it led me to think about the nonsense I spout on a semi-daily basis. Now I have distinctly different "at home" and "at work" phrases (as should everyone...) but for the purposes of this exercise, there is one Pharaoh of phrases, an Excalibur of exclamations, the Prince of proclamations, which is:
"Everyone's a winner, petit dejeuner"
Back in the heady days when I used to play sax in a touring soul covers band, we shared the stage with two of the most hilarious guys I have ever met. Tony (trombone) and Shaun (guitar) had known each other for years and had such a natural rapport they could easily have been working the clubs as a double act. They would have the tour bus in stitches at their tales of derring do and natural affinity for the absurd, which lifted the spirits of those humour-sapping drives across, say, for example, to pick somewhere totally at random, Lincolnshire.

However, whenever something went particularly well (which could be anything ranging from a well-paid gig in Dublin to a delicious sausage roll from a Sunderland truckstop), without fail Shaun would exclaim "Everyone's a winner!" always followed closely by Tony's rejoinder of "Petit dejeuner!".

Now quite why a French breakfast should be the epitome of delight for two jobbing musicians from York, I have no idea - and I'm not sure they did either. However, it stuck with me and to this day, when something goes well at work or at home, this is the line I come out with.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Overheard #102

One of our field operatives phoned this one in:
" is it coming out a greeney colour?"
I think we'd rather not know.

Monday, 18 January 2010


As promised, here we go with Week 1.

In no particular order, then, and all genuinely witnessed online by my good (bad?) self online recently:
  • Holding the baby reindeer.
  • Varnishing the banister.
  • Giving potatoes to the Scandinavians.
  • Popping into Waterstones.
  • Startling the hamster.
I'm going to enjoy this...

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Euphemisms Of The Week (coming soon)

As I traverse the internet, stumbling from comments thread to twitter feed to forum post, I find myself inexorably drawn to those random phrases which, taken out of context, force a chuckle of childish delight upon me at the somewhat euphemistic nature of their very existence.

So, gentle reader, for 2010 I will be starting a fresh theme based on a weekly round-up of five of the best on offer out there on the intertubes, as witnessed by my very own eyes/ears.

Now I'll come clean from the off and admit I have a bit of a lengthy backlog, so the first few may contain bits and bobs from the tail end of 2009 - hey, you may even see your choice epithet in lights...

Childish? Silly? Mind like a Welsh railway? Guilty as charged, m'lud. Bring it on...

Friday, 15 January 2010

No More Cotton Wool

I love the idea of this book:

Full of stuff that we and our parents maybe used to try with a healthy disregard for health & safety and/or social services (licking batteries, playing in hailstorms, supergluing two fingers together...) plus the rejuvenation of the seemingly long-lost idea that the best way to find out whether you should be doing something is to try it, once.

And it's got whittling in it...

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Overheard #101

This might be one of my favourites, one end of a telephone call just now:
"Your brother's birthday?"
"Oh, both brothers!"
"What do you mean, semi-identical?"

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Overheard #100

My goodness, we've reached a ton of Overheards in a shade under two years. Which is approximately one a week, by sheer coincidence. Anyway, just now:
"Oh God, I'm so not bothered about Celebrity Big Brother."
"So, who's on it?"