Sunday, 8 April 2012

Spring has sprung

With the first proper rain for two months forecast for tomorrow, I've declared that spring is here.

The black polythene has come off the beds at the allotment, displacing armies of voles / field mice or some other such rodent that had spent the winter under it.  Next week will see the serious planting start.  I've discovered a great website that lets you plan in detail what you want to grow...the last frost date for your postcode, the number of plants per row, the space between rows, what plants complement other plants, etc.

The raised beds in the garden are now springing into action - the first two rows of salad seem to have survived the recent mild frosts and I may risk some more shortly.  In the greenhouse three potato bags are under way - I calculate the first new potatoes will be ready in late May or early June.  I've just done the first three bags for outside (Rocket for those who are interested in such things - the ones in the greenhouse are respectively Maris Peer, Lady ChristL and Rocket)

I plan to maintain a vegetable growing blog through the summer, regaling you with my triumphs (few) and my disasters (many)!

Monday, 30 January 2012

More BirdPoo than Birdsong

Loved the book, but hated what the Beeb did to Sebastian Faulks' Birdsong.  'Shallow' is the best way to describe Abi Morgan's script, although she'd probably prefer 'pared-down', and I struggle to understand how someone who wrote something as good as 'The Hour', could so totally lose the plot with Birdsong.  This was drama for those you who can't or won't read.

Too many long, lingering looks and soft focus, presumably as a feeble attempt to create atmosphere, and too much of the plot that was missing in action.

Now to the leads.  Eddie Redmayne is clearly flavour of the month right now, but I thought his performance was bizarre.  Whenever you see Shakespeare performed, the acting can be as good as you like, the direction as innovative as a you can imagine, but if the text gets butchered then it's dead in the water, and that was my problem with Redmayne - I just couldn't understand the half of what he was saying.  I was only being partly sarcastic when I complimented the Beeb on giving an opportunity to a lead with a speech defect.  Thank goodness for Sky+ which allowed me use Live Pause to rewind - I kept having to do that.  A word of advice for young Mr Redmayne: give up the ventriloquist impressions, and open your damn mouth - that way the words might come out clearly.  Overall though, we saw too much of Redmayne's mouth which people have variously described as looking as though he had a slug stuck to his top lip, or in one case as being 'pale, sausage-like'.

Clemence Poesy had obviously taken her cue from Redmayne and spent the whole three hours whispering - maybe it was an attempt to convey her vulnerability, but it just made her sound deranged.

I thought Joseph Mawle as Jack Firebrace was excellent, as was Marie Josee Croze as Jeanne - she convinced where Poesy didn't.  It struck me from early on that it was just the sort of drama where Anthony Andrews would be bound to appear, and right on cue he popped up as Colonel Barclay - actually his brand of fey madness worked quite well and if someone had given him a teddy bear and told me his first name was Sebastian then I wouldn't have been surprised.

I watched both parts all the way through, mainly because I couldn't believe that the level of mediocrity could be sustained for such a lengthy period, but it was.  Dire, dire, dire - I'm off to re-read the book.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Andy Murray today

Which is Andy Murray after today's heroic loss?  Is he the plucky Scottish loser, or the noble Brit?

You see, whenever Murray has lost in the past, the London-dominated press has almost always described him as Scottish, but whenever he has won he has been British - odd, isn't it?

Anyway, after today one thing is clear, he isn't a Henmanlike bottler.  Tim, by the way, was almost always British.  Of course, had he ever won anything of note then I'm sure he would have been England's own!

Funny old world.

Friday, 13 January 2012

What was all the fuss about?

I finally lost my Nando's virginity, and on balance wish I hadn't.  It seems to be the restaurant of choice for professional rugby players, and I'm told that some of the overpaid prima donna scumball players also like it, so my daughter and I gave it a go.

The food is - at best - average, and seems to be a mixture of KFC and McDonalds, but at a far higher price.  Their idea of hot sauce isn't too hot at all, and their half chicken is more poussin than a proper bird!  Worst of all though, and I know this makes me sound snobbish, the place was full of loud people who didn't seem to know how to hold a knife or a fork.

Maybe I was unfortunate, because I was in beastly Eastleigh, but the whole thing just didn't seem that clean to me.  Our table had had a cursory wipe with a cloth after an antibacterial spray, but it hadn't been dried so when we sat down the cutlery and napkins immediately became damp.  Overall, I just found it a bit depressing and unpleasant.  Oh, and worst of all...the chips were soggy.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

'Like', it's like really irritating

What is this current obsession with the omniword 'like'?  It's, like, a really good way to make intelligent people sound, like, stupid.  You hear it everywhere, and when you hear some people interviewed it is, like, the most commonly-used word in their, like, vocabulary.

In fact, it's just a habit, and like other unpleasant habits - farting in public, biting your nails, picking your nose and eating your own snot - it can and should be broken.  My recommendation is that every time you hear 'like' misused, you challenge the person and simply ask, "What do you mean - it is that, or is it like that?"  It worked with my daughter when she was in her early teens, and I know others who have successfully adopted the same approach - she may use the omniword outside of the house, but she's smart enough not to use it at home!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Are Winchester people being taken for mugs?

Why are petrol prices so high in Winchester?  There seems to be a remarkable degree of unanimity amongst the petrol stations in the city about what is the right selling price, but if you drive a few miles away, then prices drop sharply.

On the outskirts of Romsey unleaded petrol was 129.9p per litre, in Gosport it was 128.9p, and in and around Southampton it was around 130.9p, but Winchester prices seem to be around 134.9p. 

Has someone been believing the tosh about Winchester being an affluent city, and decided to exploit us?  Had we a local paper that did its job properly then it would be asking some questions.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Why are cyclists so stupid?

Is there something strange that happens when a grown person climbs aboard a bike?  Are they required to leave their brain at home?

Firstly, I'm sure that there are some sensible cyclists, just as there are plenty of bad car and lorry drivers, but there is a difference: in town if you do something stupid in a car you might hit a pavement or bump another car, but if you do daft things on a bike you will probably get seriously hurt or killed.

Driving through Winchester one dark evening last week I only just spotted a cyclist, dressed all in black, on a racing bike with no rear lights.  It was the equivalent of going out on a suicide mission, and when I tooted my horn at him, he gave me the finger.  Had I killed him, I have no doubt it would have been seen as my fault.

A geriatric lady riding her bike down Parchment St in Winchester....the wrong way on a one-way street.  Try that in a car and you'll be in trouble, but if you're a cyclist...

At the traffic lights on North Walls, indicating that I plan to turn left towards River Park, when a cyclist decides to ignore my signals and come up the inside of me - he only just got away with it - had I hit him I've no doubt he'd have thought it was my fault.

Traffic lights seemingly don't apply to cyclists - watch them and you'll find that most simply ignore them.

Cyclists are, more often than not, total muppets on the road.   Fact!