Monday, December 18, 2006

Down Unda


Well we're in Australia. I've just joined Katie after a few days solo in Tasmania. She was down for a week, me for ten days. We're now at Her Mum's place in Berrima. She's got a roo in her backyard.

Anyway, there's some very unedited pictures here.

Oh yeah, how about those ashes :) ?

SP

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hackney Cyclists go East

Adam organised a Sunday ride with Hackney Cyclists today. Five of us met @ Stoke Newington Common, then rode down the Lea River to Woolwich, where we were to catch the five minute ferry across the Thames. Due to lack of ferry, we ended up walking across the river, well underneath in the foot tunnel.

From North Woolwich (after I fixed my puncture), we headed further east along the Thames Path, through (beautiful) Erith and other such towns, past the Thames sewerage pumping station (about 9000 times worse than the worst you've smelt at Glastonbury!), then through to Dartford, where we stopped at The Malt Shovel, a great Young's pub for a roast lunch.

Onwards after lunch, and two riders less, we were ferried thru the Dartford tunnel by the Highways Agency, then a nice ride through some Essex countryside and suburbia to Upminster tube, back to Bromley-By-Bow, back up the Lea to Clapton and Adam's place where I fixed my second bloody puncture. From there, a quick jaunt back to Pyrland Road and the beautiful Katie waiting with roast chicken ready to go! All in all, a top day. Nine hours, forty miles, two pints, two punctures, two roasts.

I've got a few photos of the days proceedings right here.

Gone to Gooners

I managed to score three tickets to watch the mighty Arsenal vs Newcastle yesterday at Emirates Stadium (thanks Phil). So myself, Katie & Bobby went to witness the Gooner magic with 60,000 other fans. Unfortunately, as has been the case on more than one occasion this season, the magic was a tad rusty and it finished 1-1. Still, we managed to check out the ground, and Katie saw her first football match. She wants to buy a couple of season passes. They start at £1200.00!

There's a couplea pics here by the way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Four stars in The Guardian for BILLY JOEL????

I know this review's a few months old, but I just remembered it, and being pretty surprised, thought it worth throwing up here. Leopards do change spots, it would seem....

Billy Joel

4 stars NEC, Birmingham

Dave Simpson
Friday July 7, 2006

Guardian

There are some things you'd never expect at a Billy Joel concert: the artist hurling a microphone stand 12ft into the air; a roadie called Chainsaw taking lead vocals on a "religious song" which turns out to be AC/DC's Highway to Hell. However, after years off the road, the Piano Man has obviously decided that the one thing left to conquer is his terminally naff public image.

While many have come for ghastly 1980s hits such as Tell Her About It, Joel virtually ignores them all in favour of early material like Angry Young Man. Back then, he says, he was "always bitching about something", but he still delivers fame-game rants Everybody Loves You Now and New York State of Mind with extraordinary venom. Showcasing the songs with three times more energy than usual presents lyrics about Long Island fishing communities and dagger-laden love songs in a new light. Maybe Joel was documenting Noo Yawk life as effectively as Lou Reed all along.

Between songs, he's hilariously pithy: patting his bald head, beginning to play Rule Britannia only to snort: "Ah, always a cheap trick!"

Perhaps if it hadn't been for the likes of Uptown Girl, Joel would still have been considered a peer of Springsteen. Here, he first sends the song up - adopting the romantic persona "Julio" - then switches to the veiled loathing of Sid Vicious doing My Way. He seems far happier tearing through rockers like You May Be Right and It's Still Rock'n'Roll to Me.

As he leaves, he pours water over himself and tells the cheering hordes: "Don't take any shit from anybody." Pop music has rarely been much weirder. At 57, Billy Joel has become a punk.

Bring it on!


11/2 for a whitewash? Crap eh?

Willyhill are quoting 8/1 for a four one Oz victory!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Simpsons do Army Recruitment

Click here for a clip from The Simpsons.

Quite a good satirisation of the Army recruitment programme (US Style, but I'm sure it holds relevancy...in the UK at least).

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How Microbrew Can Save the World

AlterNet

How Microbrew Can Save the World

By Chris O'Brien, Foreign Policy in Focus
Posted on October 25, 2006
http://www.alternet.org/story/43435/

The world's cup runneth over with living beer traditions. But this vast repository of cultural brewing capital is under attack by global corporations. The top five brewing companies, all of which are American- or European-owned, control 41 percent of the world market. Perversely, economists and politicians calculate the conquest by industrial breweries as economic growth while the value of small-scale traditional brewing goes uncounted. Much will be lost if this global "beerodiversity" is lost to the forces of corporate-led homogenization.

The globalization of beer not only destroys the social, spiritual, and health-related benefits of small-scale home beer production. It also undercuts the vital role that home brewing plays in sustainable development throughout the world. For 10,000 years, brewing has been conducted at home, primarily by women, who were entrusted with safeguarding traditions that strengthen social bonds and build community identity. As an important component of diet, beer was distributed by female household heads according to the values of the community, which moderated consumption to socially acceptable levels. As an inherently small-scale and local endeavor, brewing also has had a low impact on environmental resources, relying on renewable energy sources and requiring little or no packaging or shipping.

Full story:

http://www.alternet.org/story/43435/

George Galloway, MP's "humble" abode


For Sale on this website. Note his "hero wall" in slide six. The photo of him and Saddam must be the one obscured by the bannister.

Do you think he's moving to the heart of Tower Hamlets to be at one with his constituents?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Vale CBGB's


***Shameless excuse for me to trot out the Strummer shot (photo taken @ Brixton Academy, not CBGB's. But hey, I'm wearing the shirt I bought there. And Joe played there numerous times.)***

CBGB's, the grimy Manhattan bar that saw the birth of the US punk movement closed its doors for the last time yesterday, with gigs by Blondie and Patti Smith. I made it there in 2001, where I caught an acoustic set by They Might Be Giants. Hardly Sonic Youth, the B52's or The Ramones, but I made it!

Here's an article from the New York Times about the last couple of days at 315 the Bowery.

Hoffbrau Hell(es)


Sorry for the delay, but was just waiting for a few more pix. A couple of weeks back, Ivan, Katie & myself trekked to Baden Baden, courtesy of the world's fave airline, Ryanair ("Eire O'Flot"), drove post haste to Munchen and immersed ourselves in the great cultural celebration that is Oktoberfest. Ivan's sworn he won't go again, Katie's now got her handbag back (thank you Franziska), and I don't think I lost anything (apart from the requisite brain cells).

Afternoon one saw us heading with Mine host Axel first to the pub for some schnitzel action, then off to Thersienwiesse for chapter one. Most of the tents were full, so we headed to Kaiffer's beer garden, which was fantatsic, considering it was about 28 degrees. The beer flowed like nectar.

On day two, we gave the fest a break and drove to Berchetsgarten, locale of The Eagle'sNest, former summer house of one A Hitler. Fantastic views and decent beer were had by all. While the history of the place is darker than dark, it's good that something positive has been made of the buildings.

Day three, after a brief stroll around central Munich, we met Max & Birgit at the Hacker Pschorr tent back at Ofest. Max downed a duck, we drank many steins, witnessed and participated in some of the weird and wonderful sideshow attractions, had a glass o schnapps, etc, etc. By the time we said good bye at the main gates, Max had fully transformed into his alter ego, BavariElvis and was serenading usll the way to the exit.

Once Mr & Mrs Detsch had left for the mountains, the full "Aussies on tour" genes started to cut in, and we spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the Hoffbrauhaus. Not much memory of the latter stages, except we lost Katie along the way. Thankfully she had a bit more presence of mind than Scott and Ivan, and managed to get a taxi back to the flat.

Next day we managed to get ourselves outta Munich and back to Baden Baden for a delayed Ryanair special to Stansted, where, of course we were totally buggered about by the ground transport, getting back to Pyrland Road about 11pm.

Pictorial evidence of our trip can be found right here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bushfires in Hobart



There's currently quite a few bushfires burning around Australia. Of most interest to me is the one on the Eastern Shore of Hobart, reasonably close to my parents' place in Lindisfarne. Mark kindly sent me some pics that are doing the rounds. they were taken by Ian Stewart. It seems the fires are mostly under control, with no injuries, and minimal losses to property. In keeping with bonehead tradition, most of the fires seem to be deliberatley lit!

There's a link to more photos here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

John Howard, Red hot drawcard

From a Crikey! reader:

Waking up in Pennsylvania, I turn on CNN
: much of their coverage is about the latest congressional sex scandal involving Republican Rep. Foley of Florida who allegedly sent "inappropriate" emails to young pages in Congress. In a segment on what these teenage helpers actually do in Congress, a young page interviewed by CNN described one of their more menial tasks, remarking "when the Australian Prime Minister spoke to Congress we all had to go in and sit in Congress members seats because only half showed up and they wanted Congress to look full on camera."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

State funerals in the wide brown land...

So Steve Irwin's family knocked one back. Then Brockie slammed into a tree. Of course they had to offer him one. And his family has every right to accept the offer. But, really, a snake handler and a race car driver? Not to mention Kerry Goanna Packer, for services to the Liberal Party and tax lawyers the world over.

To quote the current Wikipedia entry: "In Australia, State Funerals are increasingly offered to persons of general celebrity."

Maybe there should be a tax levied on general plebs' funerals to cover the cost of those of more status?

Fair point, Bill


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Faversham Hop Festival

Ben, Olga, Katie and Scott all took the "Spitfire" Steam Train from Victoria to Faversham in Kent last Saturday for the annual hop festival. Faversham's a pretty and historic place, and home to Kent's last major brewer, Shepherd Neame. Some fin Morris dancing, local ales and much hilarity ensued. There's a bunch of pictures linked here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Germaine's view from afar

'That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a real Aussie larrikin'
Germaine Greer
Tuesday September 5, 2006

Guardian

The world mourns. World-famous wildlife warrior Steve Irwin has died a hero, doing the thing he loved, filming a sequence for a new TV series. He was supposed to have been making a new documentary to have been called Ocean's Deadliest, but, when filming was held up by bad weather, he decided to "go off and shoot a few segments" for his eight-year-old daughter's upcoming TV series, "just stuff on the reef and little animals". His manager John Stainton "just said fine, anything that would keep him moving and keep his adrenaline going". Evidently it's Stainton's job to keep Irwin pumped larger than life, shouting "Crikey!" and punching the air.

Irwin was the real Crocodile Dundee, a great Australian, an ambassador for wildlife, a global phenomenon, a superhuman generator of merchandise, books, interactive video-games and action figures. The only creatures he couldn't dominate were parrots. A parrot once did its best to rip his nose off his face. Parrots are a lot smarter than crocodiles.

What seems to have happened on Batt Reef is that Irwin and a cameraman went off in a little dinghy to see what they could find. What they found were stingrays. You can just imagine Irwin yelling: "Just look at these beauties! Crikey! With those barbs a stingray can kill a horse!" (Yes, Steve, but a stingray doesn't want to kill a horse. It eats crustaceans, for God's sake.) All Australian children know about stingrays. We are now being told that only three people have ever been killed by Australian stingrays. One of them must have been the chap who bought it 60 years ago in Brighton Baths where my school used to go on swimming days. Port Philip Bay was famous for stingrays, which are fine as long as you can see them, but they do what most Dasyatidae do, which is bury themselves in the sand or mud with only their eyes sticking out. What you don't want to do with a stingray is stand on it. The lashing response of the tail is automatic; the barb is coated with a bacterial slime as deadly as rotten oyster toxin.

As a Melbourne boy, Irwin should have had a healthy respect for stingrays, which are actually commoner, and bigger, in southern waters than they are near Port Douglas, where he was killed. The film-makers maintain that the ray that took Irwin out was a "bull ray", or Dasyatis brevicaudata, but this is not usually found as far north as Port Douglas. Marine biologist Dr Meredith Peach has been quoted as saying, "It's really quite unusual for divers to be stung unless they are grappling with the animal and, knowing Steve Irwin, perhaps that may have been the case." Not much sympathy there then.

The only time Irwin ever seemed less than entirely lovable to his fans (as distinct from zoologists) was when he went into the Australia Zoo crocodile enclosure with his month-old baby son in one hand and a dead chicken in the other. For a second you didn't know which one he meant to feed to the crocodile. If the crocodile had been less depressed it might have made the decision for him. As the catatonic beast obediently downed its tiny snack, Irwin walked his baby on the grass, not something that paediatricians recommend for rubbery baby legs even when there isn't a stir-crazy carnivore a few feet away. The adoring world was momentarily appalled. They called it child abuse. The whole spectacle was revolting. The crocodile would rather have been anywhere else and the chicken had had a grim life too, but that's entertainment at Australia Zoo.

Irwin's response to the sudden outburst of criticism was bizarre. He believed that he had the crocodile under control. But he could have fallen over, suggested an interviewer. He admitted that was possible, but only if a meteor had hit the earth and caused an earthquake of 6.6 on the Richter scale. That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a "real Aussie larrikin".

What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss. There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress. Every snake badgered by Irwin was at a huge disadvantage, with only a single possible reaction to its terrifying situation, which was to strike. Easy enough to avoid, if you know what's coming. Even my cat knew that much. Those of us who live with snakes, as I do with no fewer than 12 front-fanged venomous snake species in my bit of Queensland rainforest, know that they will get out of our way if we leave them a choice. Some snakes are described as aggressive, but, if you're a snake, unprovoked aggression doesn't make sense. Snakes on a plane only want to get off. But Irwin was an entertainer, a 21st-century version of a lion-tamer, with crocodiles instead of lions.

In 2004, Irwin was accused of illegally encroaching on the space of penguins, seals and humpback whales in Antarctica, where he was filming a documentary called Ice Breaker. An investigation by the Australian Environmental Department resulted in no action being taken, which is not surprising seeing that John Howard, the prime minister, made sure that Irwin was one of the guests invited to a "gala barbecue" for George Bush a few months before. Howard is now Irwin's chief mourner, which is only fair, seeing that Irwin announced that Howard is the greatest leader the world has ever seen.

The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing 10 times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

And, just to balance it all out, here's a little "interview" Private Eye "did" with Germaine a short while ago. Click image for full size version.



Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP Steve Irwin



For some bizarre reason, I found myself watching the tail end of his classic "Croc School" episode while nursing a massive hangover early Sunday afternoon....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Camping in Norfolk

Simon, Holly, Don, Christine, Dani, Rachel, Ben, Olga, Hanes, Katie & Myself went camping near Cromer in North Norfolk over the bank holiday weekend. It's a beautiful area. Combined with not too shabby weather, it was a pretty relaxing time with lots of Morrison's sausages and Carlsberg lager.

We ventured one day to Cley-by-the-sea, and visited a delicious smokehouse, and a scrum delicatessen. Not to mention a pretty cool beer garden.

Campsite management not that pleasant, but not enuf to ruin a perfect weekend.

Got some pics here.

In a new Euroblather feature, we proudly debut the online video. Click play to watch Hanesey eat a steak sando and neck some cider, all from the comfort of your office chair:*

*May disturb the young, the old and/or those of frail heart.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Comedian calls for 'mass lone demonstration'

Alexi Mostrous
Thursday August 24, 2006

Guardian

Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to gather in Parliament Square next Thursday to take part in a unique protest. The subject: absolutely anything. Opponents of war, fur, fees, developing world debt - whatever - will come together for what has been called a "mass lone demonstration" by its organisers.

The stunt is designed to subvert the government's widely criticised ban on taking part in protests within a kilometre of parliament without prior police authorisation. Each participant is being encouraged to apply to the police for a "lone protest" licence (one demonstrator holding one placard), in the hope that the constabulary will be overrun by having to grant huge volumes of individual licences. The police cannot refuse an application made at least six days in advance.

The organiser, comedian and political campaigner Mark Thomas, said: "What we hope to achieve is to put a sense of fun and play into protest. We want the police and the politicians to know that these laws preventing us from peaceful protest are ridiculous. The government needs to know that it has passed bad law." But he warned that any protester without a licence could face a £5,000 fine and even prison. "The deadline for applying to the police is today."

The ban was drawn up last year in an unsuccessful attempt to evict Brian Haw from Parliament Square, where he had staged a protest for more than four years. Last year it resulted in the conviction of Maya Evans, 25, for reading out the names of 97 British soldiers who died in Iraq.

Critics have denounced the law, part of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, for undermining free speech and have accused police of inconsistency in its application. "Surely these new security laws were not intended to protect parliamentarians from hearing peaceful protesters," said Doug Jewell, Liberty's campaign coordinator. "Freedom of expression is too precious to be marginalised in this way."

At Charing Cross police station, PC Gary Smith said he was aware of Mr Thomas's plans. "We can't refuse a demonstration but we can impose any conditions we think fit. But until the applications come in I can't comment."

Friday, August 11, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe......

To get back on your bike....



THE DOUBLE BENDY BUS!!!*

*Photographed in mainland Europe, not necessarily coming to London (but don't trust 'em!).

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bomber vs Ironbar


A FEDERAL Liberal backbencher has called Kim Beazley a "fat so and so" after the Labor leader labelled him "weak" for supporting the Government's immigration laws.

Mr Beazley and West Australian Liberal Wilson Tuckey traded verbal insults, their faces within centimetres of each other, as they arrived at Parliament House in Canberra this morning.
The angry exchange came ahead of today's vote on the Government's controversial migration Bill.

Some rebel Liberal backbenchers are threatening to cross the floor and vote with Labor against the changes.

Mr Tuckey was speaking to reporters as Mr Beazley stood by, waiting for his turn to address the media.

"Oh here's Kim," Mr Tuckey said as he spotted Mr Beazley.

"This is not about Liberals, this is about you mob," he said referring to Labor.

Mr Beazley came within centimetres of Mr Tuckey, telling him to "take your tablets".

"Don't you insult me with tablets," Mr Tuckey shot back.

"I'm asking you why you are defying the Australian people on border protection."

Mr Beazley replied with: "Off you go mate, off you go, off you go mate".

Mr Tuckey refused to move saying he was entitled to stand outside the doors of Parliament.

"Now I'm interviewing you, I'm asking you why your entire party is going to kill off legislation that the Australian people want," Mr Tuckey said.

Mr Beazley said Mr Tuckey was supporting "weak sop legislation".

"Why don't you take your weak, worthless self in there with the weak, worthless piece of legislation," the Labor leader said.

Mr Tuckey fired back angrily: "Don't you call me weak ... you fat so and so."

He then left Mr Beazley to make his morning address to reporters.

Labor's industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith later said Mr Tuckey's behaviour showed how worried the Liberals were about today's vote.

"It shows how rattled some government members are with Liberals crossing the floor and Nationals running out of dinner parties," he said.

Mr Smith also said rising petrol prices, interest rates, and its workplace laws, were damaging the Government.

"Skyrocketing fuel prices, interest rate hikes and extreme IR changes are seeing government members fray at the edges," he said.

"I wonder whether this is the type of bully-boy behaviour that sensible Liberals who want to cross the floor on a bad immigration Bill are being subjected to?"

Postscript: Despite three Liberals crossing the floor, and one abstaining from the vote, the legislation passed 62-78. Let's hope the Senate show a bit more moral conviction.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Keeping Cuba Healthy

A rather timely story on BBC2's Newsnight last night regarding healthcare in Cuba, which despite being one of the poorest countries in the world and crippled by US initiated trade sanctions, has one of the highest standard and most effective health systems going. And it's all for free.

All eleven million Cubans have a local doctor and nurse per every six hundred head of population, twenty four hour dental care, and they train doctors from many different countries, including good old Uncle Sam.

One thing that seems to differentiate the revolutionary state's medical service from most others is it's focus on prevention, rather than cure. This is partly due to the fact that trade embargoes severely restrict the import of essential medicines and equipment, etc.

On the positive side of the trade embargo, there's no junk food or McDiets, and you'll more than likely see kids playing outside rather than slothed in front of an X-Box.

As far as hard and fast statistics go, the CIA factbook itself notes that live birthrates are higher in Cuba than the US, and life expectancy is neck and neck. Though expect that second stat to plummet should the US try and institute some "regime change"

Here's hoping Fidel pulls through his current illness and outlasts (at least) one more US President.

You can watch John Harris' report on the BBC site here. It's only twelve minutes long and streaming quality is quick and very good.





Hasta la victoria siempre!

George: "I've always been a scrubber"

Boy George ordered to sweep up litter in dirtiest New York streets

Oliver Burkeman in New York

Tuesday August 1, 2006

Guardian

The litter-clogged streets of New York's Chinatown, Little Italy and Lower East Side should be marginally cleaner by the end of the month, thanks to the personal efforts of Boy George. The singer, sentenced to community service after the discovery of cocaine at his Manhattan apartment, had originally hoped to fulfil his obligations with an Aids fundraising concert before resigning himself to what his lawyer last month predicted would be "raking leaves in Central Park".

But instead the former Culture Club frontman will be required to show up a week on Monday to receive a shovel, broom, gloves and plastic bags from the New York department of sanitation's district three offices.

The district includes some of the most heavily touristed parts of the city, along with fish markets and day-long commercial deliveries, exacerbated by stifling heat which is expected to reach 40C (104F) later this week.

Work often begins as early as 7am to spare litterpicking crews the worst of the afternoon heat, sanitation department spokesman Vito Turso said.

Boy George, whose real name is George Alan O'Dowd, struck the deal after falsely reporting a break-in at his apartment in lower Manhattan, an incident he has said he cannot explain. Police found no sign of a burglary, but did find 13 bags of cocaine. Drug charges were dropped in exchange for community service, a $1,000 fine, and the singer's agreement to undergo drug treatment in London.

At the time of his sentencing, Boy George argued that "it would have been more useful to make 30 grand with a concert, rather than be prancing around in a park". But he joked that he would tolerate the street cleaning, because he had "always been a scrubber". He has promised to show up in "something loud".

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

James Ride 2006


We had a ride on July 11 for James thru Islington, Newington Green and Stokey. It was nice to take it at a bit of an easier pace than the last couple of years.

We finished up at The Shakespeare in Allen Road. There's some pix from Dave's camera on my smugmug page here.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Vale the tree





A huge branch of the 50ft gum tree that graced Mum & Dad's house in Lindisfarne came down last week. It blocked the road the house is on and damaged Dad's car. The council were on the job quick smart, and in true Tassie spirit, they chainsawed the old bugger down, and its now a pile of woodchips. Not bound for Japan to be made into toilet paper, mind you, (Sorry, Gunn's, you missed that one), but the local garden centre to be used for mulch. Dad took some pix of the operation, which can be found here.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Oh I do love to be beside the seaside......


The Company Shed in West Mersea, Essex is an old Oyster shed on the harbour which has been turned into a seafood house. Pretty basic is the way to describe it...you turn up with your own bread, booze and condiments (NO salad though), get your name on the blackboard if the place is humming. It usually takes about an hour to get a table, during which time you can go and have a sly one at the sailing club up the road (they had a very hoppy local on tap, as well as Adnams).

Once you take your table in the shed, you are able to choose from the limited, but delicious menu. We had a seafood platter for six (whole prawns, prawn meat, cockles, smoked mackrel, fresh salmon, whole crab, tiger prawns, mussels) @ £8.50 a head, plus a dozen local oysters, a couple of pints of prawns and a lobster. All in all, it was £75.00..an absolute bargain. We bought a couple of bottles of plonk, some thousand island dressing, some tabasco and a few bread rolls. There was so much in our tums afterwards, we doggy bagged about a pint and a half of prawns. Twelve thumbs up from the A-Team Party!

Atter the seafood extravaganza, we waddled back to the van and on to West Mersea Beach. It was about four pm, and the temperature must have been in the low thirties. Lookingt forward to running down the golden sands into some beautiful blue water, we were somewhat surprised to find the tide was out, revealing a two hundred metre strip of mud, oyster shells and pebbles, leading to some distinctly shallow (but warm) water. It was quite refreshing really, but didn't stop most of the party pining for the likes of Thirroul, Narrabeen or Wineglass. Steve, however, was quite happy in a socks and sandals kinda way. Katie ruined her new Birkenstocks in the mud.

As usual, the requisite snaps can be found right here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The new Gooner's


I went for a ride around Emirates Stadium this afternoon while the first match was being played (Dennis Bergkamp testimonial vs Ajax) . You don't seem to be able to hear the crowd at our place any more, but maybe that will change when the season gets into full swing.

There's no bike racks, and the buses aren't being parked underneath the stadium as per the original plans, as the club says they're "terrorist threats". Yeah right, what you gonna do about it, Islington Council? Probably nuthin.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Blessed be the stray lambs



Katie & Hanesey had an audience with the big guy recently. I don't think it helped the situation. They're still gonna fry.

For this and some more random photos around Limey in the baking summer, click right here.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Thirsty new Commodore


GM-H have just unveiled their new Commodore to a slathering Australian press. Apparently it's the "most powerful ever". Of course, most powerful ever inevitably means heaviest drinker. Holden's spindoctor in chief has pooh poohed the inevitable criticism of such a move thus:

".....Holden executives, meanwhile, seemed oblivious to petrol prices. The first three cars on display were V8s and the company quickly rattled off power figures for their V6 and V8 engines, the most powerful ever in a Holden.

"A car is a massive emotional statement," said Holden's executive director of sales and marketing, Alan Batey. "The difference [in the cost of petrol] is two beers a week."...."

It's a funny old world. At a time when most countries are doing that little bit more to conserve what's left of our natural resources, good old Holden releases the dinosaur burner of dinosaur burners......I guess an electrically powered version's out of the question.....



Thursday, June 29, 2006

Der Roadtrip




Hi All, Katie, Aidan and I got back from Germany on Tuesday at 4.45am after leaving Cologne at 8.30 the night before, where we watched the Socceroos' World Cup dream evaporate with a dodgy last minute dive from the Italians. Enuf said.

The trip itself was fantatsic. We did 1800 miles (2100 Km) in 12 days. Because I'm at work, and this is all taking a bit too much time, here's an extract from Simon's blog summary of the trip:

.....We met up with the crew in Munich where a friend of Scott's owns a flat. So we had our own pad and spent a few days drinking giant 1L beers, eating loads of pig and hanging out. The fan fest near the Olympic Stadium for the big game with Brazil was loads of fun, and the Brazilians were gracious in victory. Lots of fun, those guys.

The following day we had a swim in the English Garden which has this amazing fast-flowing river. You jump in and in seconds you're carried downstream. Very exciting and the water is freezing, so just what we needed on a hot day.

We did a day trip out to Fussen, home of the classic fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein which was every bit as fabulous as you'd expect. Being stinking hot, we then had a swim in Germany's deepest lake. Very refreshing.

Next was Stuttgart where we also hooked up with John and Anne. They, lucky buggers, had tickets to the game against Croatia. We weren't so lucky and had to make do with the fan fest. Still, what an exciting game! We were all hoarse for the next few days from all our screaming. Amazing stuff!

Next stop was Heidelberg, camping on a cable water skiing lake. Nice place and nice swimming. Then Trier, an old town on the Moselle, camping in a nice little place. Scott even swam in the river. Brave man!

We meandered along the Moselle and camped in another place further downstream. It's a gorgeous river.

Finally we ended up in Cologne. Sadly Australia was robbed at the match, which we watched in a little bar near the giant cathedral. Here we parted ways with Scott, Katie and Aidan. They're back in London now and we hopped the train to Hamburg...........

Anyhow, there's shedloads of photos. For a reasonably abbreviated version, click here. To view the whole damn lot, click here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In Stuttgart

Hey there, we´re all in Stuttgart waiting for the mighty Socceroos' third qualifier against Croatia. We went to the Fan Zone in the town square last night, whch was excellent. There was a bit of a Croatian\Australian fan standoff on the Town Hall steps after the game. I reckon it will be reasonably tense there tonight......The great thing about this World CupĆ¼ thingo is that they´re not trying to rip you off, eg beer and food is generally about the same price and quality as it is everywhere else. Stuttgart beer is obviously not as good as the mighty Bavarain Helles und Weisen, but at €4 for half a litre, we're still not complaining. Weather has been bloody hot..have been swimming just about every day, from the rivulet that streams theru the English Garden in Munich to beautiful Alpine Lakes near the Austrian border, to a place we found yesterday called "Autobahn See", which was basically a quarry used for the autobahn that was now a lake.....
Anyway, just dropped into this webcafe to check mail and get a bit on the blog. Forgot my disc of photos, so that will have to come at a later post.
Great times being had by all,

Auf weidersen.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

OZZZZZZZZZZZZZZIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE!



The Cahill Expressway runs rampant. Drunken revelry ensues. Bring on Brazil! We're on the road on Thursday night. Hopefully I'll drop a post or two from the fatherland.

Prost!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Voxpop: Braz




Edition 1 -SAT 10 JUN 2006, Page B02
THE OTHER SIDE
By GENEVIEVE READ

With Mid-Winter Festival co-ordinator Andrew Brassington.
What are you most passionate about?
Physical theatre and, in particular, circus. It crosses a boundary that's called The Fourth Wall, so you can use people from the public in your show.
What can't you live without?
Coffee. It's part of my life. A nice latte or flat white is a habitual thing in the morning.
What song always gets you dancing?
Burn Hollywood Burn by Left Field. It was my first fire-twirling song. I love the bass.
What are you reading?
An Iain Pears book, The Last Judgement. It's a crime fiction set in Rome about the Italian police squad.
Favourite film?
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The visual effects and physical movement are fantastic and all woven in together with a love story -- well, a romance that cannot be.
Favourite patch of Tasmania?
The Western Arthurs. There's an amazing walk you can do there. Just the sheer ruggedness . . .
What's your biggest indulgence?
Costumes. As a performer you use many costumes and it's fantastic. I can't do without my sequined trousers.
What do you always get enough of?
Renovating -- too much! I want it over with. It's been going on for two years.
What do you never leave home without?
It's a boring one, I'm afraid: my mobile phone. Oh, my juggling balls are always in the back of the car, too.
Favourite trashy TV show?
West Wing. It's semi-trashy. I like the power movement of the people and it has a very clever script.
What do you eat when no one is watching you?
Egg-and-bacon rolls. I'm at home renovating, so no one is around to watch!
One word other people might use to describe you?
Energetic. I've just always had that buzz for life and lots of energy.
What dish do you make best?
Rendang curry, beef. Asian food is just fantastic. I love really hot food.
Most romantic thing you've ever done?
New flowers in the house and cooking dinner.
Any unfulfilled ambition?
To travel to South America.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie-The first match


For those of you in London, and with **ahem** flexible working arrangements, there will be a bit of an Aussie Posse watching the Socceroos' first World Cup encounter sionce 1974 upstairs at The Nellie Dean, Cnr Carlisle & Dean Streets in Soho. 2pm KO. Cya there!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

"It's not our fault he's short."


Gillard kicked out again

June 1, 2006 - 5:04PM

The Sydney Morning Herald

Labor frontbencher Julia Gillard has been ordered out of parliament for the second day in a row.

Ms Gillard was one of four opposition MPs turfed out of the House of Representatives for an hour in an acrimonious Question Time.

Speaker David Hawker will also review the videotape of proceedings to determine whether two Labor frontbenchers deliberately stood up to block camera shots of Prime Minister John Howard as he answered questions.

Ms Gillard was ejected for an hour for heckling as Health Minister Tony Abbott added to an answer about the government's plans to sell Medibank Private.

It came a day after she was thrown out for 24 hours for calling Mr Abbott a snivelling grub - and then apologising to grubs.


"The member for Lalor has been warned and continues to interject. The member for Lalor will remove herself under standing order 94a," Mr Hawker said.

Earlier, opposition industrial relations spokesman Stephen Smith, environment spokesman Anthony Albanese and backbencher Julia Irwin were kicked out for heckling Mr Howard - prompting Opposition Leader Kim Beazley to rise to his feet.

"I seek leave to make a personal explanation while there's still an opposition member left in this place," he said.

Mr Howard was heckled as he was answering a question about comments by Fair Pay Commission head Ian Harper that his commission might have to cut the minimum wage if the economy went into recession.

Mr Howard ignored Professor Harper's comments, choosing instead to read out a series of 13-year-old quotes from Mr Beazley.

During the answer, Mr Albanese and Mr Smith each stood with their backs to Mr Howard and began talking to members of the backbench.

After Mr Smith was evicted, Labor's treasury spokesman Wayne Swan also stood up, turned around and began talking to MPs sitting behind him.

Mr Abbott and Treasurer Peter Costello accused the trio of deliberately trying to block the fixed camera shots of Mr Howard.

"Mr Speaker, it was fairly obvious during the course of Question Time today that a number of opposition members, in particular the member for Grayndler, the member for Swan (sic) and the member for Lilley, were standing during prime ministerial answers in ways which were clearly designed to block the camera shot of the prime minister while he was giving answers," Mr Abbott said.

"I'd be grateful if you could review the footage and consider whether this is the kind of conduct which raises the dignity of the House."

Mr Hawker said he would look into the matter.

Labor frontbencher Lindsay Tanner was warned for interjecting: "It's not our fault he's short."

The opposition began Question Time complaining about Mr Hawker's impartiality after he ruled the first question of the day out of order.

Mr Beazley had asked Mr Howard about comments by Liberal MP Cameron Thompson criticising the prime minister over his role in the failed merger of the Liberals and Nationals in Queensland.

Mr Hawker ruled that questions about internal party matters were out of order.

AAP

Development at what cost?


Went on a ride this afternoon around Dalston, Hackney and London Fields, taking photos of streetscapes and buildings that could (and some that definetley will, or have already) be threatened with demolition. London is by nature a constantly evolving city, but there really needs to be a bit of sensitivity with re-development, especially with the current craze of whacking up blocks of "luxury apartments" everybloodywhere. Rant over. Pictures here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Ritual hillside chase takes its toll


Lee Glendinning
Tuesday May 30, 2006

Guardian

They come out of it with bruises, dislocations, the odd fracture and always cuts and grazes. But thousands of people chose to spend yesterday watching people diving for cover from a flying cheese, or somersaulting down after it on a Gloucestershire hillside.

Since the cheese rolling competition incarnation - thought to lie in a heathen festival celebrating the return of spring - it has been one of the ultimate displays of danger over logic. Competitors throw themselves down Cooper's Hill, near Brockworth, Gloucestershire (which has a 1:2 gradient) to chase a Double Gloucester cheese down a 200-metre slope.

Spectators, including the 3,000 who turned up in the turbulent weather yesterday, are far from immune to injury, and the number of the audience hurt this year almost equalled those injured in the competition. A mountain rescue team from Search and Rescue Assistants in Disasters, backed up by volunteers from St John's ambulance, treated 25 people for injuries. Two were taken to hospital.

Jim Jones, the charity's operations training manager, said 12 spectators and 13 competitors were hurt."It was a reasonable year, not too bad," he said."We usually average around 30-40 people who need treatment. The most serious injuries this year appear to be a dislocated finger and a possible fractured ankle."

Organisers said that the wet conditions had cut the number of injuries, because people slipped down rather than tumbling head over heels.

The winners take home a 3.6kg (8lb) cheese.

Jason Crowther, 24, from Wales, who won his race for the second successive year, said: "I have no real tactic; I ran and hoped for the best. I'm going to take my cheese to the pub and have a party."

Next year's event will be on Monday, May 28, 2007. For details check out www.cheese-rolling.co.uk

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

End of an era in Soho










Norman calls last orders for the barred of Soho

By Christopher Howse

(Filed: 23/05/2006)

The strangely coveted title of London's Rudest Landlord is today open to competitors, as its long-time holder, Norman Balon, tenant of the Coach and Horses, Soho, tucks the sale price of the pub into his locally made suit and takes the Underground home to Golders Green.

Mr Balon, 79, has told more people to drink up and leave than Jeffrey Bernard drank large vodka-ice-and-sodas at his barside during the decades he wrote Low Life, his celebrated Spectator column. Quite a few, then.

Mr Balon outside the Coach and Horses on his final day

Last night, the pub nevertheless overflowed, like a badly pulled pint, with well-wishers. Richard Ingrams made a two-sentence speech: "The only man grumpier than me. I salute you." Dame Beryl Bainbridge cheered. Spencer Bright, biographer of both Boy George and Norman Balon, looked sad.

The pub is to be run by a consortium, with a restaurant reached by stairs where the gents is now.

This is the pub behind Michael Heath's extraordinary cartoon strip The Regulars in Private Eye, which once had one Regular saying to another: "I'm sorry I was rude last night. You see, I was sober."

Yesterday Michael Heath said: "I don't remember Norman being rude. In fact I don't remember anything from those years."

Actually, by classic Soho standards of breathtaking, stiletto rudeness, Norman Balon was measured. American tourists, enquiring after sandwiches, might, though, be puzzled to be told to leave now and not come back.

It was a defence mechanism against bores. The Coach, as everyone called it, was a pub for talking, since Mr Balon would tolerate no jukebox, among other things. But Jeffrey Bernard did not "hold court" there.

He had to compete in conversation with, among others, the unshameable Daniel Farson; Tom Baker, popping in from a voice-over; Conan Nicholas, the man who invented cat-racing; or with David Wright, the poet, who was profoundly deaf. It was he who, one morning after a particularly acrimonious shouting match, said, "Well, it seemed very quiet to me."

For the last three of four decades, Italians and shoplifters drank at the Greek Street or "shallow" end, and serious drinkers and talkers at the Romilly Street or "deep" end.

Generations from St Martin's School of Art filled in the gaps to suffocation point, including the girl who inspired Jarvis Cocker's song Common People, whom he can't remember, though she was very memorable.

Norman Balon was really invented by Richard Ingrams, when editor of Private Eye, from which William Rushton and Peter Cook and the rest came over the road for lunch each day.

Norman soon figured as "Monty Balon, the genial meinhost" in the magazine. For 40 years, Private Eye has held its fortnightly lunches for informants and prominent people in a chill room upstairs once described as "a National Health side-ward decorated from Army surplus stores".

In turn, Mr Balon invented Jeffrey Bernard, who used the pub as an office and had a supply of Senior Service cigarettes kept for him in the cupboard by the stairs.

Norman and Jeffrey probably loved each other, if Jeffrey ever loved anyone. They certainly had rows. "You're barred, and don't come back." But he did.

Immortality came in 1989 with Keith Waterhouse's play Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell, a sell-out with Peter O'Toole in title role and the pub interior as the set. Mr Balon would refer to it as "My play".

Norman Balon, who had "Norman's" painted on the side of the pub, which no one ever called it, wasn't actually born in the Coach and Horses, but he was bred there.

His father took on the tenancy on Feb 3, 1943, a noisy time in London. Norman, just turned 16, left school to help. They sheltered in the cellar during air raids.

The top-floor room where young Norman slept was in recent years used as a studio, first by Richard Ingrams's son, Fred, then by the successful painter Rupert Shrive.

Painters always drank in the pub: Francis Bacon sometimes, Lucian Freud generously, Frank Auerbach intently in conversation with Bruce Bernard, a writer about painting.

A small Maltese house-painter called Jojo would fill up on whisky before climbing a four-storey ladder with a sack of cement on his shoulder. Damien Hirst, when he drank, dropped in of a morning for a scale of the shark.

A low point came after Mr Balon's divorce. He sat scratching his wife's name off hundreds of matchboxes printed "Norman Balon, London's Rudest Landord, with the Most Charming Wife --." Since 1985 his life has been cheered by Grazia Weiner, a small, surprisingly vocal opera-lover from Venice.

Norman Balon used to work from 8am till midnight. He went seven years without a holiday.

He opened 365 days a year and at Christmas lunchtime presented regulars with a mug bearing a drawing by Michael Heath of him saying: "You're barred."

=============================================

The (printable) sayings of Norman Balon

(Filed: 23/05/2006)

1 Here's your money. F**** off.

2 The beer is meant to be cloudy. I suggest you go elsewhere.

3 You're barred. You're too boring to be in my pub.

4 Spoof is not a game of skill eligible to be played in a pub, and if you don't like it you can p*** off.

5 I don't care whether you're a man or a woman, you can go now.

6 Out! Out! Out!

7 You're so ugly you're upsetting the customers.

8 Can't you see, you idiot, that

I'm on the telephone - to an MP trying to find the Private Eye lunch.

9 I am not obliged to give a reason, I don't want you in my pub.

10 And don't come back.