Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tweed: Sun Protection Factor 1000?

Mario's cafe - West Street

The photo above shows the long established Mario's Cosy Cafe at no. 115 West Street. The cafe has been on the site for as long as I can recall, and is a regular stop - off point for locals; Alongside the T-Bone Cafe in Fraser Road, this is one of the premier greasy spoons in the area, and something that Erith can most definitely proudly boast - we have some top notch traditional transport cafes.

The blisteringly hot weather has continued this week; I don't let this affect my dress however. The tweed jacket and steel toecapped boots look continues unchanged; in fact I have found that tweed has an extremely high sun protection factor. I have managed to avoid all sun exposure by ensuring all exposed skin surfaces have been fully covered. I burn very easily and don't find sun creams to be much help; they are smelly and greasy to boot. I certainly do not hold with the fad for exposing oneself to the elements as so many of the local hoi polloi undertake with reckless abandon.

The News Shopper is reporting that the popular and long established Picardy pre school in Picardy Road, Belvedere is closing after fifty years of caring for the areas' children. I attended the place myself, and have happy memories, though in my day the place was extremely scruffy. Nowadays the hall is modern, light and airy with excellent facilities in top condition. The sudden closure decision has caused consternation in Upper Belvedere, with many parents up in arms over the apparently arbitary closure decision made by the vicar of the church that owns the hall. Some have written to the News Shopper to voice their disgust - you can read more about the situation by clicking here.

Mentioning Belvedere, the village where I grew up, reminds me of the somewhat divided nature of the place - there is almost an invisible wall halfway up Picardy Road (often incorrectly referred to as Picardy Hill). People at the top of the hill are mostly middle class and relatively prosperous, whilst those at the bottom of the hill are predominantly working class. Historically the area had factories and housing located around Belvedere railway station, whilst the factory and land owners lived in the more pleasant surroundings in Upper Belvedere. Not that much has changed in the last 150 years, with the exception that most working people now commute into London, rather than work locally. An old local joke: " What is the difference between people from Lower Belvedere and Upper Belvedere?" The answer is "In Upper Belvedere, the people get out of the bath to have a wee". Quite.

Bongo sent me the following video, which I have now posted onto YouTube with his permission. He's at work with a BBC film crew on a small sailing vessel, accompanied by some rather frightened looking children. The sea is a bit lumpy - it looks like about a force 6 wind blowing, by the look of the wave sizes. Bongo looks supremely unconcerned - old sea dog and Radio Caroline veteran that he is. The kids on the other hand look like they would rather be anywhere than on the ship. I will no doubt hear the full story from him in due course.

Last week, Shirley showed me how to cook a traditional Ghanaian staple meal; here is the recipe:

Ghanaian egg stew – recipe.


Three large free range eggs
One large onion, roughly chopped.
Five cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
Teaspoon of chilli powder
Two small Maggi stock cubes
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Vegetable oil
One small Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper.


Use a large pan or wok, add a generous quantity of vegetable or sunflower oil, and heat until sizzling; add the chopped onion and fry until it starts to soften. Add the chopped garlic and cook until the onion / garlic mixture turns golden. Add the mixed herbs and chilli powder and cook through.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and a small dash of water, the crumbled Maggi stock cubes and the Scotch Bonnet chilli (just halve it and add it to the gravy – it should gradually melt into the mixture).  Allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes over a medium heat until all the ingredients are cooked through, then break the three large free range eggs into the mixture in the pan. Allow them to begin frying / poaching for a minute or so, to allow them to have some texture and shape before breaking them up with the spatula – the egg yolk will then thicken the sauce and it should have a red / orange colouration when ready.

Serve immediately with boiled basmati or long grain rice, and a green salad.

You can tone down the level of chilli to suit a more delicate palate if you so wish. Do let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I will moderate and publish it within 24 hours. I am still fighting an ongoing battle with the spammers, unfortunately.

Next week is the 2010 Chap Olympiad; it will be held on Saturday 17th July from 12 noon until 11pm at Bedford Square in Bloomsbury, London. "As the Sixth annual Chap Olympiad looms, athletes are outdoing each other in being seen not to make the slightest effort to get into physical shape. The Chap Olympiad is the tournament that pits the world’s puniest fops against each other, rewarding them for panache, savoir-faire and winsome smiles rather than sporting prowess. Training, such as it is, involves lengthy sessions stretched out on a chaise longue, dreaming up schemes of skulduggery that will outwit one’s opponents. Others choose to put in the hours at the local hostelry, deliberately mixing their drinks in order to boost their tolerance for the various alcoholic disciplines. On Saturday 17th July the tweedy weeds will gather in Bloomsbury’s Bedford Square Gardens, London WC1, with the opening ceremony taking place at one pm sharp. Once the Olympic pipe has been safely cradled in the Olympic pipe rack, the afternoon’s unsporting activities will continue in the usual manner, with events such as Martini Knockout Relay, Three-trousered Limbo and Umbrella Jousting. Those wishing to participate in events may also register on July 17th at Bedford Square Gardens. Please be advised that, during the Games themselves, anyone testing negative for alcohol content in the bloodstream will be disqualified, and sent to the emergency gin tent for urgent retonification".

The Chap Olympiad even has its' own song - click here for the Chap Olympiad ditty.

The Blackwall tunnel is closed at weekends for maintenance work at present. It would appear that Transport for London and the Mayor's Office have made a tremendous hash of the whole project. Fellow local Blogger Darryl Chamberlain has written an open letter to Boris Johnson about the whole sorry situation. You can read all about it on Darryl's blog 853 here.

New Apple iMac setup 2

The Maggot Sandwich nearly did not happen this week; it has been a major case of "Physician, heal thyself" today. My Apple iMac 24" decided to get extremely temperamental on me, and crashed four times in a row within a space of less than twenty minutes. Bearing in mind Apple Macs are normally the most placid and reliable of computers, I realised that something serious was up. Cutting a long story short, I have had to use the OS X installation DVD to repair the partition table and access permissions on the boot hard disk. This is not exactly guru level stuff, but playing about with the Macs' boot records is stuff to make even the most hard core of geeks take pause. I have no idea why the table became corrupted; OS X is one of the most stable and robust versions of Unix, and that is saying something. I will keep tabs on the machine for the next few days to see how it behaves. Still, in seven years of owning Macs, it is the first technical issue I have encountered - somewhat of a better record than anything Windows related in my experience.

The ending video this week is actually something I stumbled upon and ended up sending a link to a few people earlier. Since this weeks entry has been somewhat food dominated, I thought we would end with more of the same. It is a recipe for what looks like a very tasty version of Chicken Vindaloo (one of my all time favourite dishes) from a woman called Titli Nahaan. She's a good cook, but utterly, ineffably bonkers. She really is as mad as a spoon - if you doubt me, watch this and learn. Comments below, as always.

1 comment:

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