Mumble and Sons – Step away from the Banjo!

I watched the Brits this week.  Emily was the main driver for this, as One Direction were due to perform.  Her taste in music is weird/eclectic, as she likes some bands that you won’t have (and don’t want to have) heard of, but every now and again she gets drawn to a commercial boy band like me to a buffet.

I’ve watched the Brits for years.  Earlier in my life, I was in a band, and so had more than a passing interest in the business they call music, as I of course assumed it was only a matter of time before I was snorting Vim off of Wendy James’ backside whilst thrusting my recently won Brit up a Gallagher’s nose.

Alas, my lack of fringe, talent and luck prevented that from happening, but still I am interested in what is hip and happening.  I do appreciate that using the phrase hip and happening makes that (and me) an oxymoron.

Now this isn’t a predictable rant centred around me wondering what happened to music, and how they don’t write decent tunes anymore.  Let’s be honest, I grew up in a time when Sigue Sigue Sputnick and Joe Dolce had hits.

However, there is a massive amount of Emperor’s New Clothes going on today.  What I saw on Wednesday was an endless parade of ordinary looking blokes with too much facial hair trotting out what appears to be the same miserable, throaty guff based around some sort of folk or country theme.  In my book if your band contains a banjo, that’s probably one banjo too many.

I know that I’m not supposed to know who these people are.  I’m in my forties for God’s sake.  It isn’t about that.  It is about what appears to be the ability to write anything approaching a decent melody.  Instead there is a reliance on stompy grunge ridden pub music, or dour, moany laments sang by people who can’t even spell diction.

On the odd occasion now that I stumble back to Radio 1, driven away from Radio 2 by Dido’s latest aural enema, I don’t stay very long.  Listening to the resident gimp telling me that their “Big Thing” or “Mahoosive Toon” of the week is so banging just gets depressing when the “song” in question is pretty much always some black guy talking over a sample of a song I didn’t like twenty years ago.

That’s another thing.  Rap Music  – Making the talentless rich since 1980.  How I enjoy seeing these fellas on MTV cribs with their platinum encrusted houses and their baths made of human bone.  I only have to mention the name Professor Green to prove the point entirely.

Sigh.  I’m ranting.  Is this just the inevitable turn of events of me getting old?  Probably, but I can and do like new music.  I am a sucker for a pop tune or a hook.  Something that has been written with the express desire of making me remember it, and more importantly want to.

So the likes of this Ben Howard character, and the God awful Mumford and Sons can take their tweed, bad diction and their angst and do one.  The fact that their record company, via Radio 1, keep telling everyone how good they are, does not mean that they are actually any good.

I know we're crap, but they keep buying our records!!
I know we’re crap, but they keep buying our records!!

I’d rather listen to One Direction to be honest.  Take away the whole boy band hysteria, and whoever has written for them has done some really good classic, catchy pop writing, and it works.  Sure, the latest effort is a crass, car crash like version of a classic song, but they wouldn’t want to waste anything written originally on a charity.  There’s real royalties to be had with stuff that isn’t a cover!!

So with all of that, and Coldplay winning best live act, the Brits for me wasn’t great.  Timberlake was OK.  He can sing, and has that “I’m American” class about him.  Watch and learn Robbie.  I was too stunned by his Singing In the Rain abomination on Saturday night to really make any sort of comment.  Just imagine me slack-jawed and confused starting at the telly.  It was more Freddie Starr than Mercury.  Mind you, I am probably the only person in the world not to be a big fan of him either.

Robbie Williams
Freddie Starr…no, maybe Norman Wisdom!

I’ll probably watch the Brits again next year, when some new unwashed twonk is singing almost in tune as their record label count the money.  The least they can do to make it worth watching is have someone get drunk and dangle their rude bits in Adele’s drink.  That’s what you call Rolling in the Deep!

Till the next time……

Prom Diddly Om!

Well this is odd.  I am looking out at the world at blog time on a Sunday and there is day light.  There is day light and no snow.  It may have been a little early for the flip-flops and mankini, but as I always say, I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly world.

Could it be that we are moving out of the bleak dark depressing claws of winter?  I suspect winter still has something to say on the matter, but I have my fingers crossed.

Moving into the warmer months brings mixed blessings.  On the plus side it means warmth, heating bills I can actually afford, driving to and from work in day light and not having to give Oli a full body bath after every walk.

The biggest downside is that I will have to shed my “winter coat” in order that I can once again fit into a T-shirt or two.  The forgiving nature of those winter layers hides a multitude of sins, and there have been many sins to hide, and as usual I leave the depths of winter at the higher end of the register of my acceptable weight.

I am hoping that spring will deliver me some mojo, as for me to exercise, I need the basics, like a modicum of energy and the desire to leave the house.  These two commodities have been severely lacking of a winter’s evening, but hopefully if I get home in the light, like some sort of overweight plant, I may absorb extra energy from the extended sunlight.  My O Level Biology tells me that is Photosynthesis, which I think is probably also a Genesis album!

Subliminally I may have started my fitness regime yesterday.  We visited the local cinema to watch This is 40.  Now, I know you know me better than to imagine I didn’t indulge in any snackage, however, I did only indulge in one snack.  I impress myself!

The film itself was very enjoyable.

Not a reference to my weight

I was expecting a fairly light gross out comedy, and there are definitely elements of that in the film, but it had much more substance and length than I had anticipated.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t Schindler’s List, but it had a decent story to accompany some real belly laugh moments.

If you do go and watch it stick around for the credits for some very funny out take moments from one particular scene.

It was a late showing, so we were back home late, almost midnight, which is a very late night for the 40 somethings in our house.  Sleep soon followed.

After a resultant lie in, today has only consisted of a little tidying, and a spot of driving with Emily.  My ability to remain calm despite my hatred of being a passenger is developing nicely.  Still, I’ll be glad when she has passed, so that I can then just sit at home and fret about her being out driving by herself!!

Saturday saw Louise and Rebecca out shopping for Rebecca’s prom dress.  Yes, we all know that prom isn’t until July, but apparently this meant we were cutting it fine!  It only took a couple of hours to find “the one”, and I am looking forward to seeing it in a few weeks when we pick it up.  Louise assures me it is lovely, and I will in no way reference the price paid for it….oh bugger!!  Anyway, I’m sure it will be worth it.  I mean Emily wore hers for at least four hours before storing it forever in her wardrobe.  Can someone we know please get married so that she has an opportunity to wear it again!

Why Rebecca couldn’t wear this one I don’t know!!!

So for those also in the hunt for prom stuff, good luck, and I hope you win the lottery too!!

Till the next time…..

Is it August yet?

This blog would be a painful place if it were merely to host an ever-increasing level of moaniness between now and August, about how we aren’t going away.  It is indeed going to be that, but I feel it only right and proper to tell you.

With that disclosure done, we go on.  Oh arse, that just reminds me of Reflections of Earth.

Any excuse for an ROE picture

That is the problem when you have spent every holiday since 1999 in WDW.  To illustrate that point, whilst lay in bed this morning I also calculated that over the past eleven years or so, we have spent about 26 weeks in Florida.  That’s more than half a year!  We are practically residents.  No wonder we are pining for home.

What could be similarly boring in a blog, is blogging about what you blogged about before.  So we’ll do some of that too.

Last week’s blog (the doughnut burger experience) broke a few records in terms of readers.  I was also really pleased to have the Teak Neighbourhood Grill spot it, and retweet it out to their followers and post it on their Facebook page.

How strange must they think we are that some seven or eight months after eating a burger in a bar in Orlando, we get together to recreate it, and then some idiot writes it all down!!

I got all sorts of reactions from all sorts of folks.  People I never knew read my blog got in touch to express delight, revulsion and incredulity in fairly equal measure.  As they say different strokes for different folks and all that.

So onto this week.  As many of you will already be aware, Louise passed her first set of nursing exams this week.  She was, as ever, convinced she wouldn’t, but in the end scored an impressively high mark.  Her current placement is proving to be testing (to put it politely) but hopefully the positive news about her exam will gird her loins enough to get through it, and then enjoy the rest of the course.  After this placement it is one year down, and two to go.

Whether we go to WDW or not any time soon, I am also planning our longer term trips (I am truly talented in this way, and I can have multiple trips percolating all at the same time), once she has qualified.

Not only will she earn more than she does now, but also both the girls will be out of full-time education, and we shall no longer be tied to the extortionate and sadistic mid summer flight prices.  My heart is already leaping at the prospect of securing flights in the quieter periods of the year.

It will be like travelling back in time to when we first started going, and I sometimes do flight searches now for those off-peak times just to see some results come up that don’t start with a 7 or higher!  It is both torture and joy combined.

Enough WDW whining I think.

We are getting used to Louise working shifts, including weekends.  Yesterday it was just the girls and I, so I suppose that more or less made me “in charge”.  We managed OK, and were even able to work the washer and attempt some rudimentary cleaning!

Today has been one of those lazy days, with us not getting out of bed till late morning.  A delicious sausage and egg sandwich to start the day was then followed by, well, not a right lot really.  I took Emily out for more driving, and she is really improving.

From the initial terror I felt sat in the passenger seat, I am now relatively relaxed when she is driving.  Her overall control of the car is fine, and she can in fact actually drive now.  The real work to do is around how to park, reverse and generally manoeuvre the thing at slow speed in small spaces.

Whether it is the heart wrenching fear and angst of their first day at nursery, their terrifying start at secondary school or them handling half a ton of metal at high-speed, they are just one long set of woe, worry and mietheration.  The trick is recognising that this is all part of that often quoted Circle of Life, and trying to enjoy the ride, rather than shouting out STOP as she brings the car to halt seven inches short of that lamp-post as she parks the car up back at home.  It is also important to recognise and appreciate that they are worth it too.

I’ll try harder next time, but I’m not that hopeful.

I shall leave you with a new picture of Oli, taken by Emily.  For no other reason than I love it….

What are you stairing at?
What are you stairing at?

Till the next time….

If Mohammed can’t go to the mountain, make calorific food.

Staring down the barrel of our first non WDW year since sometime around 2001, the pain is becoming unbearable.  So much so that on Friday afternoon in a quiet moment at work, I glanced back through the photos on my phone, and eventually came to the ones taken last August in Florida.

I felt the urge to tweet a photo of the now infamous Donut Burger from the Teak Neighbourhood  Grill, stating how much I missed it.  A retweet from Emily and a brief Twitter conversation with the sister-in-law led us to a Saturday night based around re-creating the dish here in the UK.

So between us we procured the required ingredients, and I kicked off the cooking.

A good start
A good start

In terms of ingredients, I suppose I should list what you might need, but to be honest it is fairly obvious.  Anyway, we had ten diners and used –

  • Two dozen glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
  • Twelve good quality beef burgers
  • Some maple cured bacon
  • Cheese
  • Chilli Fries (made by sister-in-law)
  • A selection of mustards, ketchup, BBQ sauce and mayo to suit all tastes

The burgers said to fry them, so I did.

Fry my pretties
Fry my pretties

With the bacon under the grill, as soon as stuff was ready I started to plate up.  Before I did I quickly melted the cheese on top of each burger.  Plating up is a bit messy, as the sugar glaze stuff gets everywhere!!

I had been afraid that the finished article would bear no resemblance to the real deal over in Florida, but I was pretty chuffed to be honest.  To be fair, it isn’t the most technical of dishes!

Tower of Power
Tower of Power
Glazed goodness
Glazed goodness

Amongst the diners present, only Emily and I had actually eaten the real thing back in August, so I had no idea what sort of reaction there would be.  Our other guests had been to Teak during their recent Florida trip just after Christmas, but had different dishes.  My brother had tried (and failed) to polish off the Heart A-Teak.

Be afraid!

I needn’t have worried.  Everyone seemed to lap it up!!

Oh Brother!
Oh Brother!

That expression is I think a mix of disbelief and joy!!

Meat - good, burger - good, bacon - good!  It's good!!
Meat – good, doughnut – good, bacon – good! It’s good!!

Rebecca and her boyfriend Tom were equally impressed.  Tom is a fitness freak so I wasn’t sure how he’d react, but he wolfed it down.  That burger, along with the chocolate cake and custard to follow rid him of his ugly six-pack in one go!

Don't interrupt my burger
Don’t interrupt my burger

Emily’s aversion to photos knows no end, similarly her love for this dish.

Too late
Too late

Nephew Jack had necked the lot by the time I had got to him.  I took that as a good sign.

My Precious!!!
My Precious!!!

Niece Sarah was also won over!!

By this time plates were becoming clean and I had spent enough time snapping and I needed to eat my own!!

That didn’t take long, and with a choice of New York Cheesecake or Hot Fudge Chocolate Cake for “afters” everyone was soon suitably immobile, tired and I think happy.

Full of food and topped up with wine and beer we discussed how we should open an American inspired restaurant, with dishes like these, the obligatory eating challenge, and an old-fashioned traditional ice cream and American soda bar.

We had loads of great ideas, and between us probably enough knowledge and business sense.  Alas, we lack the couple of hundred grand to get it going so instead we had another beer and finished off the wine.

So, in an attempt to fight off the lack of America blues I have managed to replicate that “none of my clothes fit” fear for my next day at work by consuming a ridonculous amount of calories.  We also have no money, so we can almost pretend that we’ve just got back from Florida.  Can’t we?

A couple of tweets and Facebook posts of said burgers drew a wide range of comments.  All I will say is that those expressing revulsion, concern or sheer horror… all things in life, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

If any of you are heading to Florida soon, give the Teak a try, and tell them I sent you.  Whether you have or indeed like the Donut burger, you’ll have a good time anyway.

Not that I’m missing the place at all…..

Till the next time…..