Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Rubbish Records I Can Stand: 1

Santana And Rob Thomas: Smooth (BMG, 1999)

Sorry, but I like it.

But then, I have just got in from the pub...

Hello Old Thing, Hello Even Older Thing: 1

Secos & Molhados: Amor (Continental, 1973)
This is a brilliant, brilliant track I've purloined - shamelessly - from this uh-mazing compilation. There's a piece about S&M here that goes some way to explaining their wonderfulness, but, suffice to say, they were a bit like James Brown's band playing the hits of The Pentangle with a recording budget to shame The Beatles and a look that would out-smart Kiss. Does music actually get any better than that? Well, I'm not sure...

The Stained Glass: My Buddy Sin (RCA, 1966)
... But this would come pretty close. The Stained Glass formed in San Jose in 1966 - their first release was a cover of The Beatles' If I Needed Someone, which gives you some idea of where their heads were at (man). Anyway, their second single was this little beauty and there's something about the idea of a group of long-haired Californian teenagers making a record (when making a record wasn't anything like as easy as it is now) that was so obviously and gloriously influenced by English folk and church music (The Stained Glass, clever) that it makes me glad to be alive. Especially on a day as sunny as today. I mean, how where they even aware of this stuff? Anyway, I hoiked the image from eBay, while the track itself comes from this truly lovely compilation.


Monday, July 30, 2007

What KT Did Next...

Sit down, take a deep breath and try to control the thrice-thumping beats of your heart, for this is the new KT Tunstall album. I've just played it. It's nice. I literally like it. But then I literally like her. She's nice (this is the white-hot end of music criticism right here...). Anyway, one of the tracks sounds a bit like someone said, "Hey! KT! Any chance you could write another one just a little bit like Suddenly I See?" But it's good. Nice tunes. I could do this stuff all day!

Remember That's Life?

Well, this guy clearly does. All the fruit pictured has been bought from various farmer's markets in and around Berlin and all of it is 100% natural. This is what we should be eating...


Absolutely Delicious Feta Dip

I had the in-laws round for Sunday lunch yesterday but it didn't go quite according to plan. It started well, with Rob and Scrap off out with a list of things to get and me alone in my own kitchen as happy as could be, cooking on a sunny Sunday morning with the Archers omnibus on.

At 10.30, there's a knock on the door, no, not Noel from across the road after soy sauce, tea bags or pickled ginger, but my mother and father-in-law. Yes, one and a half hours early! I am dressed in a vest and apron with hair like Amy Winehouse. "Have you ever eaten snails?" asks my father-in-law. I turn off the radio and put my shirt on.

Eventually Rob and Scrap return and we're having a nice time but it's getting later and later. We're all really hungry and can't eat any more nuts or crisps but Rob's sister has still not arrived! All my timings are out and I end up with three unexpected hours to to fill with drinks and snacks before I get to serve lunch.

We drag the kitchen table outside and sit in the sunshine and I cut a salami ring into thick slices, open a pack of saltines and whizz this dip up in less than three minutes. It kept them quiet for at least a quarter of an hour and was suprisingly yum.

Serves 4
1 small garlic clove
bunch of fresh mint
150ml Greek yogurt
squeeze of lime juice
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
* 250g block of good feta
slosh of extra virgin olive oil

Place the garlic and most of the mint in a mini chopper and whizz until finely chopped. Add the yogurt and whizz to blend well then season with lime juice and salt.

Pour onto a serving plate and scatter over the chopped lemon. Crumble over the feta then drizzle over some olive oil. Scatter with a little shredded mint, then grind over some back peppper.

*This dip hinges on the quality of the feta. Sainsbury's own label is bad but Total is good. Best of all is one from the Greek grocer on Lordship Lane or my favourite, Cruson on Camberwell Church Street.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

That Fête-full Day

Because we're sophisticated, tuned-in and artistic, while also remaining urban, edgy and on-point, we went to the Village Fête at the V&A yesterday. Oh yes. And it wasn't just because our route would (sort of) take us past that great bakery (Ayres) in Nunhead just as they were whipping the old sausage rolls out of the oven. Anyway, it was great (as were they) and the following things happened:

1. I saw a Stay Calm And Keep Going civil information poster from WWII in the V&A shop. I desired it a lot, but walked out without buying it (so, I can defer pleasure after all...).
2. We headed straight to The John Madejski Garden to sit for one of Nadine Faye James' Typewriter Portraits. That's it above. I think it's kind of brilliant, to be honest. Mind you, it should be for six quid...
3. Scrap climbed into Poke's amazing I'd Like To Teach The World To Burp machine to be filmed making a massive burp noise into a microphone. I thought it was hilarious, but then, I would, wouldn't I?
4. We then had a crack as Fibre Design's Quick Sculpt Queen Vic. I don't think we'll win, to be honest :(
5. After a bit more wandering about, we headed for Priestman Goode's Float Your Boat, where some lovely chaps helped Scrap make a boat from - hello! - recycled stuff. Said boat didn't actually work that well - not as good as my ivory-sculpted, petrol-powered one, anyhow - but he liked it. Enough to grab it, strip completely and join the rest of the boat-pushing littl'uns thrashing around in the ornate pool.

See you there next year, right?

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I've always been a bit of an archivist, always trying to capture and document a moment in time. Maybe it's because my parents came to England from Italy before I was born with no heirlooms and took very few photgraphs as we all grew up and perhaps I'm trying to make up for it. So, our house is stuffed with scrapbooks and photo albums of pictures of my dinner and people I met only once along with notes on days out, tickets and programmes. It's lucky then that I, the archivist who loves to log everything, happened to marry a nostaligist who loves nothing more than to pull out an album or two from the collection and reminisce about the good old days.

Ten years ago, I started the Polaroid dairies. I took one photo every day and stuck it in a small album with the date and a note. I never missed a day and over the course of the year ended up with eight albums. At the beginning of the second album is a picture of Robert so the diaries also chart out first year together when we lived at my old flat. I have a similar photo album charting the first few months of Fabio's life, how much he weighed, how much milk he drank etc. I'm glad for these things more and more as time passes and I guess that blogging is just a continuation of the same.

I dug the polaroid diaries out this morning and on this very day 10 years ago, Ian and Jo moved into the flat they'd just bought in our block. Ian is from Derby and Jo Gordon is a famous knitwear designer now (she was clearly brilliant even then). We moved to East Dulwich and soon after, they moved to a big house in the road I covet in Dulwich Village.

Anyway, it was an interesting year 1997 and my diaries have recorded a lot. I didn't drive, I look 2 stone lighter and 15 years younger, I spent a lot of time in pubs, in clubs and on care-free holidays (Paris, Carribbean & Australia in one year!) and had a lot more money to fritter on massages and lipstick than I do now. Princess Diana died and Tony Blair became Prime Mininster and Robet and I met. What do you remember of 1997?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 19

Bud Shank: I Am The Walrus (World Pacific, 1968)
This little gem has been purloined wholesale from the very, very wonderful Funky16 Corners' Beatles covers mix. I played this in the office and someone suggested it sounded like something you might hear down in the bowels of the Northern Line. But I sort of like that about it. Anyway, there is so much to enjoy - get over there now and get yourself the full album of niceness. Uh-may-zing.

Stars: My Favourite Book (City Slang, 2007)
I can tell you almost nothing about Stars that will improve your enjoyment of this song. They are from Montreal, are beloved of American indie-nerds and this album has, apparently, already leaked on-line (yow!), so I feel this much better about posting this track. Anyhoo, this song's lovely. Really nice vocal and all that stuff. We were talking about Stars this morning and came to the conclusion that - as in most bands - when the clever bloke shuts up and lets the pretty lady sing another one things start to improve rapidly...


Sale of the Century

The time-waster that was buying my old flat pulled out of the deal yesterday. Apparently he doesn't have any faith in the London housing market. That's reassuring isn't it. Perhaps he could have decided that before he visited a thousand times, drew up lots of plans and made an offer which we then accepted. Anyway: gorgeous, 3 double-bedroom, purpose-built, red-brick mansion flat for sale in sunny Camberwell!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Shrek 3

When it clouded over again this afternoon, me and Scrap flipped a coin and cinema beat swimming (hooray!). We did a deal on him getting his own popcorn provided he stayed in his seat for the whole film. He stuck to the bargain but made up for it by jumping and cheering every time the bionic gingerbread man came on and shouting out stuff in the quieter bits (mostly "why that bad man do that!?" and "watch out!!" but also "that stinky baby did a boff!!" ) at the top of his voice....
Anyway, it is a very enjoyable film, everyone laughed all the way through, Justin Timberlake very competently voices our young hero Arthur, good triumphs over bad and there are cute baby ogres at the end. Lovely!

Cowboy Dinner

We eat a lot of pork and a lot of beans in Landcroft House. Probably because I keep a bag of dried beans in the cupboard and some ribs in the freezer at all times and I get fed up of going shopping. When the fridge is empty and I can’t face a trawl round Sainsbury’s, this is often what turns up on the table for tea.

Serves 4
300g dried black (or other) beans, soaked overnight
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red chillies finely chopped
500g pork ribs
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 kallo organic stock cube
few fresh herb sprigs, eg rosemary, thyme, oregano
1 tbsp vinegar, any will do

Drain the beans and place in pan with cold water. Bring to the boil and bubble rapidly for 15 minutes.

Meanwhille, heat the oil in flameproof casserole and cook the onion garlic and chillies for 10 minutes until softened and golden. Preheat the oven to 140C.

Drain the beans and add to the pan along with the ribs and paprika. Cover with water, add the stock cube and herbs, cover with a lid. Place in the oven for as many hours as you can, but at least 3. Season with salt, pepper and vinegar. I serve with greens on the side.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 18

Jerry Reed: When I Found You (Capitol, 1956)

Jerry Reed is a huge star in the States, huge enough to have some unbearably awful fansites, anyway, but means nothing here. No great loss to us, but this track - recorded when he was just 19 - is rather good. I pulled it from this new compilation that's chock full mid-50s country artists struggling - or not, as is the case here - to come to terms with the rapid rise of rock and roll. Jerry sounds like he's having a great time, and the song's broad blues swing just gives the whole thing an extra bounce. And it's all over in less than two and a half minutes - always a plus point in my book.

Scout Niblett: Comfort You (Too Pure, 2007)

Scout Niblett isn't really called Scout Niblett at all. She's called Emma and she grew up in Nottingham, though she's now resident in America, probably somewhere fashionable like Portland (though I just imagined that, it might not be true). Anyway, old Scouty can be a bit too difficult for my liking - but this is really nice. It's taken from her new album, This Fool Can Die Now which isn't out til October, so it doesn't exist on the internet yet. However, it was produced by Steve Albini and this track is a duet with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, so it's Indie Rock Snob Heaven over here. But never mind all that, this is a great song and I shouldn't be so quick to judge people with odd names (as that idiot Mordechai Magoo said to me recently).


Monday, July 23, 2007

The Company Shed

Landcroft House had a proper, old-fashioned day out yesterday that went like this:

1. We got up early (no change there).
2. Made it to Dulwich College Farmer's Market for 9am to see Charlie's Mum and buy some of her delicious pasta sauce.
3. Not quite believing how good the weather is, we thrashed down the A12 - in the little car and everything - to Mersea.
4. Because we wanted to have lunch in The Company Shed.
5. As did half of the rest of the country. And who could blame them? The sun was shining, the wind was blowing gently, and £8.50 for a Seafood Platter seemed like the best deal in town (trans: village).
6. We also had some pickles that were "alright" and some milky oysters.
7. Oh, and some delicious salmon pate.

Afterwards we wandered out to the water and lay in the sand for a while. It was truly wonderful. When we got home, Silvana dug out our Old Green Book which is like a paper and actual hard-copy picture of this blog that Silvana (and, to a lesser extent, I) did a few years ago. It's full of receipts and menus and photos and maps and tickets and descriptions of meals we ate. In it is this little gem where someone about 300 years younger than me - wearing Nike! For shame! - stands looking thin and dark haired outside the aforementioned Essex-coast-based crab-shack.

What a lovely spot.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Never could resist a forage me: mushroom hunting, nut gathering, or nipping the tender shoots from samphire growing in the salt marshes on Mersea Island. We were there today for lunch at The Company Shed and before leaving stopped off at The East Mersea Nurseries and Pick Your Own. I know it's not quite foraging but there is something really enjoyable about snipping food straight from the plant. Anyway, it was a bit disappointing - even though we're well into strawberry season, most of the berries were still green, and the majority of runners still small - just the lack of sunshine I suppose. Still, we picked carefully and came back with berries, beans, flowers and some wet garlic, potatoes and tomatoes from the shop. I think they taste better than any supermarket produce but I might just be imagining it.

Runner Beans With Chilli-Herb Butter
Very nice with roast chicken and potoatoes. Make the butter first: in a small food processor, whizz together a small garlic clove, grated rind of 1 orange, 1 chopped and seeded red chilli and a handful of parsley leaves until finely chopped. Beat in 100g room temperature butter and a handful of snipped chives and some ground black pepper. Chill. Cut the runner beans into 12cm lengths then slice lengthways. Cook in lightly salted boiling water for 3 - 6 mins depending on how you like them. Drain and toss with some of the chilli herb butter.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Records I Can't Stand: 12

10cc: I'm Not In Love (Mercury, 1975)

"It's just a silly phase I'm going through..."

Download it, listen to it all the way through then tell me what you think.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Elizabeth Street, SW1

For years now, Charlotte Street has been my favourite London street for eating and drinking. It's lined on either side with great places: Rasa, Passione, Roka, The Charlotte Street Hotel, Fino etc etc. But for shopping as well as eating, Elizabeth Street has become my new favourite.

The other day, I was meeting a friend in Oliveto, a low-key Sardinian place that I'd heard did great pasta and pizza. She was late when I called her from our table and I could tell she'd only just got into a cab. I ordered a coke, ate the whole bread basket, read my book and studied the menu. The waiter was clearing away the table next to me when I mentioned to him that I'd never eaten a sea urchin before (it appears twice on the menu once raw as a starter and once with pasta) he looked at me and said, "Just a moment please" in a very, very strong Italian accent and walked off. I thought he might be struggling a bit with my Derby accent and had gone to ask someone else to see to me when he came back a few minutes later with a piece of hot bruschetta and a little dish with a raw sea urchin in it! How's that for service!

He told me how in Italy he loves to eat them straight from the sea and something about only harvesting them when there's a full moon. Actually I found the urchin a bit full-on and more than a little slimy, but I loved his passion for them and obviously I had to eat it all because he'd given it me specially. Anyway, eventually my friend showed up and I chose a glass of rosé and Malloredus Sardi, a pasta dish with sausages - it was amazing. My pasta was homemade, every little single piece rolled by hand and not only that but the sausages were homemade too. And all for just £11. Great service, great food, good wine, good prices. We were both delighted!

Then my friend noticed that we were directly across the road from The Chocolate Society so we ran over and had spectacular chocolate ice cream (with a piece of hokey pokey chocolate and an espresso) for pudding. On the four minute walk to Sloane Square we stopped at surely the best food shops and clothing boutiques London has to offer: Poilane, Ben de Lisi, Jeroboams, Baker & Spice

Elizabeth Street, then. If you are female and have a spare hour or two, you need to take a walk down there very, very soon indeed...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

What The World's Been Waiting For

Is this the greatest idea of all time? Or is it this?

North London: Not As Nice As South London Then

Slovo: The One (Brixtown, 2007)
We thought it might be nice to go and have an ice-cream at the wonderful Marine Ices in Chalk Farm last night. Silvana's mum's here, so she was baby-sitting and we were free... It didn't take long to scoot up across town and we were soon pulling in a quiet side-street just by The Enterprise. We wandered up - past the bloke whose drug-dealer dog was emptying it's bowels outside a Chinese takeaway - and nipped inside MA for some fantastic ice cream. I recommend the hazlenut and the Italian toffee. And the hot chocolate sauce was amazing.

Anyway, twenty minutes later, full of dairy-based good vibes, we pushed past the drunk students outside the pubs and headed back to the car, only to discover that some tremendous fellow had smashed the passenger window and rifled around inside nicking not only Ken, but all his kit too. So, thanks for that.

We've left the front door open, we've left cards, phones and a purse on the front seat, we've left windows open, back doors open, keys in the door, we've left The Scrap out overnight to punish him for having curly hair (we haven't really), yet nothing has ever happened on Landcroft Road. Not sensible, but nothing. Not ever. But you take one trip to NW1... *shakes head sadly*

BTW: Slovo appear to be really good (as long as you like ancient Massive Attack records). And their record label appears to favour a local South London town *cries*.

Stay on the right side of the river!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is That Strictly Necessary?

I think you might as well write off the rest of the day. This chap over here has compiled a site featuring the greatest, oddest, most eye-popping LP covers evah. This one on the right is among the tamest. This one might just be the greatest record ever made. This chap looks familiar (great name too).

Which makes me wonder what really is history's greatest record cover do you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Great Britain

As I get older I'm becoming a bit pro-Royal. It's not that I'm interested in any of them particularly but I really love that we in Britain have a Royal Family. We're a small, modern country turning out brilliant comedy, music, fashion etc etc and yet at the same time we have these ancient, meaningless traditions. Earls, Duchesses, Princes, Dames and Lords. And best of all, we have knights. Knights! Like it's 1532 or something! Odd little Island this, isn't it?

New Music Tuesday

I opened my post and this was in it. Literally, hurray! King Creosote's last album was an absolute doozy. And this 4 Track sampler would appear to suggest that:

1. It was a rather decent warm up
2. Old KC has quite a lot - well, at least four - great new songs in him
3. There was a budget you could feel between your fingers
4. You've No Clue Do You is The Hit Single in waiting
5 Spysticks will be next year's Festival Anthem
6 Home In A Sentence ("Hold onto her / Stay focussed / Keep her in your sights / Don't stray out of her eyes") might sound impossibly romantic, but it's actually a right little bastid...
7 Nooks sounds the precisely the sort of piano and violin croon-a-long you'd like to enjoy in a convivial Anstruther pub.

A full copy of the album should be here tomorrow...

Literally hurray, again.

Rescued From The Bargain Bins Of History: 2

The Last Poets: Oh My People (Cellulloid, 1984)

I don't know if you ever went through one of those stages in your life where all you wanted to do was score yourself some important records. Well, I did. In fact, I spent years doing it. And, if it's I Predict A Griot, pre-hip hop verbal dynamism you're after (and, hey!, who isn't?), then it doesn't get much more weighty than The Last Poets. By the time they made this one in 1984 the band had split into two camps. This is not, generally speaking, a good sign, though it does mean I got this for pennies from that huge charity shop that used to be on Shepherds Bush Green, rather than pay the inflated prices for their earlier (more consistent) stuff. Anyway, much of this record is a bit ropey (I would recommend you avoid the proto-rap abomination, Get Movin as if the life of your loved ones depended on it), but Oh My People is great: a pulpit-levelling call to (no) arms slung, with street-military precision, over a bass line bubblier, and more vivacious, than a pink shower-capped Bubbles Rothermere whacking back cava by the shaving-mug full in a fast-running foam bath. On ice. And drugs. Oh yes...


Monday, July 16, 2007

Ham & Leek Pie

I made this today for tea tonight, I know it's July and I should be making salads but I wanted some comfort food, alright!
This is very straightforward but just delicious - leave the cheese in cubes rather than melt it into the sauce, that way you get little pockets of molten cheese throughout the pie. Serve with soft mash.

Serves 4
3 eggs
large knob of butter
3 leeks, sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely grated or crushed
few sprigs of thyme
300g piece smoked ham, torn into bite-sized pieces
800ml chilled white sauce (home made or shop bought bechamel or fresh cheese sauce will do)
200g good Cheddar, diced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g frozen peas
small bunch chives, snipped
1/2 x 500g pack shortcrust pastry
1 beaten egg, to glaze

Simmer the eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes, then cool, shell and quarter.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and add the garlic, leek and thyme and cook for 10 minutes or so until softened.

Gently stir together the leeks, ham, sauce, cheese, mustard, peas, chives and finally the eggs. Season generously.

Preheat the oven to 190C/ Gas 5. Tip the mixture into a pie dish the roll and the pastry and use to top the filling. Brush with beaten egg and bake for 30 - 40 minutes until dark golden.

Rescued From The Bargain Bins Of History: 1

The Tribe: Here Comes The Sun (Pickwick, 1971)

Ten odd years ago I used to buy a lot of records, mainly from car boots sales, charity shops and the bargain bins of Record & Tape Exchange in Shepherds Bush. I had very, very little money to spare, so I never dropped more than about 50p a pop. That financial discipline meant I had to really put the hours in (time wasn't a problem then) to find stuff to sample and DJ with. Often, I just ended up with nothing, but sometimes I got an absolute killer. Whenever I got something good I'd take it round to Ronnie's house off Brook Green - Jonny Trunk worked in the antiques shop at the end of the road - and we'd try to do something with it. Then I'd leave it there and we'd go to the pub.

Well, yesterday it was Ronnie's birthday. He had a party at his house (a different house, some miles away). All these records of mine were upstairs. Stuff I'd not seen for, at least, ten years. I went straight up to his studio and pulled about 50 LPs off the smart black shelves and the cover of every one I found made me beam.

I remember getting this in a Scope shop on the Goldhawk Road, it cost about 20p. It's a cash-in to exploit George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh fans. It's been done so quickly and cheaply that they're called The Tribes on the back cover. Stealing from charities is not the most altruistic idea ever, but these were simpler times. What this record taught me is:

1. Here Comes The Sun is a really good song.
2. It's clearly really hard to play. The guy (I love the way he sings, "Here come the sun...") trying to pull off this solo version only just manages to keep it together.

These two fare somewhat better...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

David's Barbecued Rump

It thundered down again this afternoon, luckily just after we'd eaten our lovely barbecue lunch. It's St Swithin's Day today and tradition says if it thunders on St Swithin's there will follow 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Great!

Serves 8
1.5 kg rump or sirloin steak
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar

Take the steak out of the fridge at least 2 hours before barbecuing. Massage in the thyme, juniper, mustard and oil and leave to marinate. Rub in the viinegar 20 minutes before cooking.

Cook over medium coal for 8 minutes on each side then rest for 20 minutes before carving

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Cheese and Pigs

An early appointment had us trotting through Marylebone at 9am. Just off the High Street is Moxon St where two of London's best food shops sit side-by-side. First we popped into La Fromagerie where Rob and Scrap sat at a pew scoffing pastries, frothy coffee and pressed apple juice while I stood in the sealed-off Cheese Room sniffing it all in and finally picking a lovely, smokey scamorza and loaf of rosemary bread to take to our friend's party tonight.

Just next door is the equally brilliant Ginger Pig. Again we went in opposite directions as soon as we got into the shop with those two going straight to the deli side and coming back with a very large pork pie and a big hot sausage roll from the cabinet. I meanwhile, stared at the handsome joints and the sausages and wondered if I could fit a cooking opportunity into this weekend (no chance, we're staying with friends tonight and tomorrow) and eventually bought a pair of smoked hocks for just £1.50 each (as they're smoked, they'll last a least a week in the fridge). "Simmer one with some greens" said the butcher "and serve it with creamy mash". I think that's exactly what I'll do.
Recipe to follow soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This Record Is Quite Nice, Actually

Nancy Elizabeth: The Remote Past (The Leaf Label, 2007)

I only realised that this was on The Leaf Label when I was finding out what the track was called. Then I felt a bit odd as I (sort of) used to work for them (and even released a couple of records through them). However, this was all a long time ago. Anyway, Nancy Elizabeth's record is an intriguingly odd mix of folk and classical ambience (no! come back!). I like this track with its guitar and harp and zithers and what have you best of all because there's no raucous bits in it. I can't abide raucous bits. Nice one, Tony...

Lemon Curd

I do like lemon curd, especially in tarts or on toast. Waitrose have a very good soft set lemon curd recipe that you make in the microwave. Otherwise, you can, of course, always rely on Delia.

If you're not in the mood to make it yourself then I highly recommend Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Lemon Curd. One 325g jar and one 375g pack of ready-rolled (roll it out a bit thinner) shortcrust will make 12 tarts. My tip is to keep the oven low so the pastry gets crisp and the curd doesn't get hot enough to bubble up over the edge of the pastry and make the tarts stick to the tin.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Girls Wot Blog

I would like to thank Mel for nominating me to wear the pink badge. I'm very delighted to still be classed as a girl. I am passing the badge on to lovely Nunhead Mum of One.

By the way we're just in from a night out at The Palmerston for our friend Dom's birthday. Very nice meal (including perfect steak and chips) but not quite as good as the champions of Lordship Lane, Franklins.

Records I Can't Stand: 11

Suzanne Vega: Marlene On The Wall (A&M, 1985)

We were getting ready to leave Cornbury at teatime on Sunday when Suzanne Vega came on stage. She was very good and absolutely everyone was loving her. Except me. I can't stand her songs, hate them all, but especially this one.
I grabbed Scrap and ran for the exit, fast as I could.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Scrap With Chick

Hello Old Thing, Hello New Thing: 17

The Five Keys: Too Late Baby (Capitol, 1951)
Oh yes, it's time for some 56 year old Virginian-based vocal smasheroos! What do I like about this? Well, there's the absolutely sublime intro that is half church house and half ale-house, there's the way Maryland Pierce - what a name - seems to burst in just half a bar too early and the way every instrument and voice on the recording seems to be caught between wanting to be hushed and held back and reserved and, clearly, wanting to just let rip and make a racket. I wish more people would sound this professionally untogether. Lots more wonderful Five Keys stuff here. Oh, and why is there six of them?

Arthur & Yu: 1000 Words (Memphis Industries, 2007)
Arthur and Yu are, in fact, Seattle folk-pop bods Grant Olsen and Sonya Westcott (that's Grant with the beard - I think). Anyway, we've been playing their record a lot and some of it really works for me and some of it doesn't but, this is great (if you like the idea of The Velvet Underground playing Visions Of Johanna.) Personally, I really respond to that idea but, y'know, I may be own my own out here...


Blends Reunited

The Will It Blend? series on You Tube are, on the whole, a bit great. But this iPhone edition takes geek baiting and the (literal) deconstruction of consumer greed to a whole new level...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Pleasant Weekend In The Country

I had visions of Cornbury being a rain-lashed nightmare featuring a distinctly unhappy wife and spud-biter. In actual fact - it was lovely pretty much from beginning to end. It was full of nice people. Charlbury Pre School had cooked up a load of hogs that they knocked out in soft white baps at £3 a pop. Some nice pop groups played. Of course, the thing about taking a three year old to a festival is that you're there two hours before anyone plays and you leave two hours before the headliner's on, but I can tell you this much:

1 The Waterboys were fantastic.
2 Echo & The Bunnymen were amazing - David Cameron was the talk of the site the next morning after being spotted frugging energetically to the demi-Gods of Cosmic Scouse.

3 The Proclaimers have never written a bad song. Even if you're listening to their ouvre when your child (that's him being a dragon) has slipped out of your sight and you're holding increasingly frantic conversations with security officials they still sound good (btw, a very nice lady called Sara found him and delivered him to the Information tent - they were both crying).

4 If you complain about having a bad time in Swindon, the lady at the Swindon Travelodge will give you a bottle of wine.
5 It's easy to have a bad day if any of it involves going anywhere near Swindon.
6 Having funfairs and children's theatre and the like at festivals is a really good idea.
7 Being outside for two days is good for the mind.
8 The Feeling are a bit good, innit?
9 Did I mention the hog roast?

Next year I would camp and just bring Silvana and The Scrap up for a day trip. And I'd have him attached to me with unbreakable metal chains.