Sunday, July 04, 2010

Skinny fries and Late Red.

Danson Festival 2010  970

Today was the second and final day of the Danson Festival 2010. The event was held in Danson Park, next to the extremely picturesque lake; it was huge, very well organised and attended. The hot weather helped too. One of my contacts informed me that Bexley Council outsource the organisation and operation of the event to the company that manages the Glastonbury Festival. Okay, Glastonbury is a hundred - fold larger and more complex an event, but the Danson Festival was slick and professionally run, with a heavy, if low key Police presence. I only saw one brief unpleasant incident, where two greasy looking chavettes threatened a man with two small dogs with their own huge and vicious Pitbull crossbreed monstrosity. I reported it to a passing officer, and their very efficient communication and control system swung into operation, and officers were zeroed in on the low - lives for immediate action. Other than that minor wrinkle, a good time seemed to be had by all.

Danson Festival 2010  969

On Friday, Shirley and I were sitting in the newly refurbished “Ship and Trades” pub at the river front at the Chatham Maritime development. The pub, owned by Shepherd Neame has been open for a while; it was converted from the Royal navy dockyard offices about ten years ago. The place has always had a slightly industrial look and feel, with high ceilings and exposed pipework and trunking. Some visitors have complained that the place consequently has little atmosphere. Since last time we visited the place, it has undergone a sympathetic makeover, with new soft furnishings and plenty of dark wood. It now feels a lot more homely, and by the number of customers yesterday lunchtime, the locals certainly seem to like the changes. We sat in an alcove, which in its' former life was one of the managers' offices, as the original black, cast iron fireplace is still visible. It was a blisteringly hot day, making me feel very uncomfortable whilst outside; fortunately the Ship and Trades has a very efficient air conditioning system and it was blissfully cool within. We went to eat – and here was the real rub. I had an excellent piece of sustainably grown Alaskan cod in a very light and crisp beer batter made with Spitfire ale. It was the best piece of fish I have eaten for many years – a real revelation, and worthy of a high end restaurant. The sticking point were the chips. They weren't what I class as chips at all, they were American skinny fries. Before any of my American readers complain, I don't have anything against skinny French fries – it is the context that I have issue with. Fish and chips is a quintessential British dish, alongside curry and roast dinner. British chips are chunky, macho things served with vinegar and tomato ketchup and best eaten out of paper. Skinny fries are best at home with a decent cheeseburger and spicy relish. The cross pollination of culinary genres simply does not work in my opinion. Shirley agreed, to the extent she did not nick any of my fries – something unheard of until now. She stuck to her prawn bruschetta and salad. I was expecting her fingers to come creeping across the table to do a quick raid on the fried potato comestibles, but it never happened, and I ended up leaving quite a pile of them – something I almost never do.

Incidentally, with all of my talk of Shepherd Neame, Britain's oldest brewer have now made their excellent Late Red ale available all year round. Originally it was only available in October and November as their autumn seasonal ale. I wrote to the head brewer, and I had a very positive response to the suggestion I made, requesting it be brewed throughout the year; I guess that I was not alone, and the company has acquiesced to our request. Chalk up one to the consumer!

Does anyone know whatever happened to Vinyl Weld? As a kid, my Dad used it to repair rips and scuff in vinyl furniture on a number of occasions. The 70's were most definitely the heyday for the plastic pseudo leather substitute material. I need to source a bottle of the miracle liquid that would melt and set vinyl, in the process repairing splits and tears. Why, you ask? I have a chair in my study back at Pewty Acres. The chair is an old orthopaedic one my dad had following an operation on his spine back in the 1980's. It is a supremely comfortable work chair, ensuring I sit correctly in front of either my work laptop, or my adjacent Apple iMac. It has had a small crack in the vinyl on the left arm for years, small enough for me to ignore, it. Now time, and many bum impressions on the seat have caused a crack / tear to appear and I now need to take some restorative action. It is either fix the damage with Vinyl Weld, or get the chair professionally re - upholstered.

Incidentally, my Blogger profile has recently hit the three thousand views point. People must be disproportionally interested in either me, or the piffle I spout each and every Sunday afternoon. I have no  idea why, but I am extremely grateful nevertheless.

Below is a short clip from a new BBC2 comedy series called Rev. It is about a small time country vicar who moves to take over a run down parish in the deprived East End of London. Ian is none too pleased that his nick name is used as the title of the show - he's been known as the reV (note the spelling) for well over twenty years, and I suspect he regards the show as a bit of an upstart. Nevertheless it is an entertaining and fresh look at organised religion, and light years away from the safe and somewhat saccarine world of the Vicar of Dibley. Actress Olivia Coleman plays the vicars' wife. You may recall I mentioned her a while back in one of her other comedy roles - that of psychopathic secretary and member of the Polish resistance, Minka from the outstanding BBC Radio 4 comedy "Hut 33".

I see that the town of Salou on the Costa Dourada in Spain has banned men from appearing shirtless, and  women from wearing bikinis on anywhere but the beach. This bye law is mainly aimed at the feckless Brit tourists who have exported their slovenly and repulsive behaviour from the UK.  You can read about the story here. I just wish that the same kind of law would be passed here in the UK; I cannot abide seeing the number of skinny, tattooed and sunburned chavs that parade around the place semi naked. It is distasteful and inconsiderate of others to say the least. 

If you watched the first episode of the new series of Top Gear on BBC 2 last Sunday evening, you will have seen the footage of the destruction of the old "Reasonably priced car". Something that I scooped on the Maggot Sandwich back on the 4th of April. The car was placed at the base of two giant chimneys in Northfleet when they were blown up by local construction and demolition experts Erith Construction. They have their headquarters building in what was the old Erith Job Centre - an excellent piece of recycling in itself. Erith Construction were one of the first small to medium sized enterprises (ooh - that's work talk for you) to employ cloud based computing. They moved their entire workforce from using the expensive and difficult to support Microsoft Office over to the web based Google Documents for Enterprise; Google regard the company as somewhat of a reference site now. A good or a bad thing? You decide.

The main video clip this week is a bit of a gem if you have even a passing interest in aircraft. The footage was shot in West Wales last year during a joint US / UK airforce exercise. Plane spotters have found a spot at the mouth of a deep valley, and the planes, including F15's, F16's, Tornados, Eurofighter Typhoons, and even a C-130 Hercules transport plane come shooting down for them to photograph. I get the feeling that the military pilots knew full well that the air anoraks were there, and put on a bit of a performance for their benefit. It is all pretty impressive stuff. See what you think and don't forget to leave a comment below.

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