Monthly Archives: July 2012

Five.. Multicoloured.. Rings!

I’ve quite surprised myself with my engagement levels for the Olympics.  Of course, it’s still an over-corporated-over-spent thing but I did enjoy the opening ceremony for the most part, particularly the Queen with James Bond and the surreal sight of an army of Mary Poppinses taking on a giant Lord Voldemort.  Rowan Atkinson was amusing too – perhaps most of all the ridiculous over-reaction of the Daily Mail and certain Tory MPs.

Given the choice I’d probably have ignored much of the events, although having said that there’s not a lot of choice given the dearth of options on telly anyway, plus an other half who is quite intent on watching anything and everything on offer of the games.  And that’s proven a good thing – I was watching some gymnastics of all things today – and it was great, the British mens team secured a bronze, well, it was nearly a silver but for a Japanese appeal.

Irrespective of that disappointment, this is the first time we’ve seen a British medal in gymnastics for one hundred years.  Wow.  What a tremendous achievement.  Local lass Rebecca Adlington brought home a bronze too in the 400m freestyle, whilst an amazing road cycle race was almost won by Lizzie Armitstead who quite literally settled for some silver lining after a heroic race (I’ll never understand why more of ’em don’t just blast away from the peloton though!).  Somehow I’ve conspired to watch all of these events, without really planning to, so maybe I’m good luck!

It’s been fun watching the Judo too – an activity I used to actively participate in some twenty odd years ago (wow, that long!).  I remember then thinking that ‘proper’ competitive Judo seemed to lose some of the artform – you rarely see the kind of elegant and flawlessly executed throws or holds you’d get at local grading level (at least, not in my head – maybe I’m flattering myself!).  Watching athletes competing in front of a home crowd does make you think what might have been had the lures of life tempt a 13-14 year old me away from training.

I probably wasn’t that good though, so I’m not going to worry too much about it!  It has been fun evoking memories though (and discovering that I would’ve almost certainly encountered one of my friends at my old Judo Club back in the day as he was there around the same time!).  I just had a rummage on Facebook to see if any old photos had been snuck on by Mum, but it seems not.  Might have to have a rummage in the folks’ photo albums next time I see them!

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The steaks are high in Nottingham’s newest eatery..

Marco himself sadly wasn’t present – but I imagine he’ll approve of his newest venture!

I was lucky enough to be invited to try out Marco Pierre White’s new restaurant which is opening next week in Nottingham’s Alea Casino.  Located in the old Co-op department store, I’ve many happy memories of legging it up and down the massive staircase in the centre of that old shop – one of my earliest memories is going there in order to buy a magnifying glass for my Grandad.  Funny what odd memories stick in your head, isn’t it?

Anyway, I digress – you can’t access the big old grand staircase from the casino anyway!  Alea is my favourite casino in Nottingham anyway, because it has a little more of a luxurious feel to it compared to the other more functional offerings, the restaurant replaces the old one and you can glimpse it through the bar from the main casino area – but access it behind the reception desk so it is ostensibly separate from the casino itself.

Upon arrival the decor is elegant but not over-the-top, and not dramatically out of kilter with the wider casino, which is kind of important.  Mood lighting, a soft-seated area and a relatively modest number of tables.  There were four of us dining, two of us arrived early – so we were invited to sit in a very comfortable waiting area and order drinks.  Disappointingly (but understandable – this is a ‘trial’ period, after all) there was none of the brilliantly named ‘Monty Pythons Holy Gr’Ale‘ available, so I had to make do with a more generic beer – but that was okay!

Once we’d all arrived we were shown to our table and attended to very well by the waiting team – as a not-regular-fine-diner I’ve often found over-obsequiousness can be deeply uncomfortable.  Not so here, our principal waiter was quick to build an easy rapport with us.  After some bread and olives we chose starters – ranging from £6.50-£9.50 this isn’t a ridiculously premium priced endeavour (although you could easily spend a fortune!).

Two opted for a potage of mussels, I had eggs benedict and another had smoked salmon – the mussels in particular was a substantial portion and looked and smelled delicious.  I love eggs benedict and wasn’t disappointed by the quality or quantity of mine – lovely stuff, I’ve never quite got smoked salmon but the chap who ordered it seemed to enjoy it!  We by this point had switched to drinking a rather nice Shiraz.

The main courses here are not vegetarian friendly.  I had an ulterior motive given by other half doesn’t eat meat, and the waiter explained a couple of the starters could be upped to main course proportions – so it could be an option.  For us carnivores, though, it was a bounty of choice with five fish options, four cuts of steak, five grilled/roasted meats or three pies.  Given the place describes itself as a steakhouse (and we weren’t paying!) it seemed rude not to go for the steak.

Main courses range from £10 for ham, egg and chips through to £28 for an 8oz fillet or 16oz t-bone steak.  The steaks come complete with chips and a confit tomato.  Side orders of vegetables, salad and sauce come at £3 extra each.  Our table had three fillet steaks medium rare and I had the t-bone rare – I was really tempted to be brave and go for ‘blue’ but I bottled it!  We ordered four side-orders to share – creamed spinach, onion rings, green beans & shallots and roquette and parmesan salad.

The steaks were delicious, the triple-cooked chips lovely, I never thought a tomato could be as interesting as it was – and each of the side dishes were great too – very impressive.  The onion rings in particular were strangely sweet, lovely and MASSIVE.  Despite the temptation being very strong to go for the cheese board (£8) I went for a more conventional dessert of bitter chocolate mousse – which was great!  Elsewhere on the table we had two Cambridge Burnt Creams (a huge shallow creme brulee to all intents and purposes) and the most elegant looking sherry trifle I’ve ever seen!  At £6 each, pretty reasonable I thought.

Coffee to finish, and we were all really rather pleased – a very filling and satisfying evening.  I’d recommend checking out the restaurant from next week as it opens – although call ahead if you’re a veggie and see if you can’t arrange something rather than having to have a bigger version of a starter (although there are five meat-free options in the Hors D’Oeuvres list).  Highly recommended – and whilst if you go for the bad-ass steak options you could eat here without breaking the bank too, and some of the non-steak options looked delicious!

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You’ve got it all, but it’s still not enough..

I haven’t really taken any ‘before and after’ pictures, but here’s a recentish image of a svelter me with a charming show-home ornament.

There seems to be three recurring themes running through the blog at the moment, and it seems likely I’ll touch on all three of them.

First up is a check-in with project fatty.  I seem to have plateaued in weight having lost two and a half stone – the reaction I’ve had from folk I’ve not seen much in the transition period has been astounding.  I guess seeing myself daily lessens the impact.  I’ve dropped down from sixteen and half stone to fourteen, and seem to have been hovering at that weight for a while, I must admit though that a combination of laziness and other plans has cut down my exercise in the last couple of weeks – although my diet remains sensible.

So next up I probably need to think about is varying the exercise I do a bit – I tend to focus on football and walking, which somewhat neglects my upper body.  A friend of mine also just alerted me to this scary looking event which the more I think about it, the more tempted I am to give it a bash – although December is probably not the optimal month for having folk running through a mud bath!

The next recurring theme is my switch to Giffgaff from O2.  After a considerably tricky start I’ve been pretty impressed – the transfer of my number went flawlessly and the service since then has been absolutely fine.  I’m basically treating the period from now until when the new iPhone comes out as a trial.  The only pitfall I didn’t foresee was the lack of tethering support on the cheaper deals (understandably, I guess), but to be frank – I don’t use it that much anyway, so I’m not really that bothered.

Finally on the recurring theme front, I’ve booked tickets to see The Levellers in Lincoln and then Nottingham, and am planning an overnight stay in Lincoln, so that should be good!  I’m still absolutely hammering Static on the Airwaves (which hit 36 in the Album Charts this week) and loving it – I’ve plumped for Mutiny as my favourite track, which is inspired by the story of Jesse Robert Short, a Corporal from the Northumberland Fusiliers who was shot as a mutineer at the barbaric Étaples ‘refresher’ training camp in 1917 (he had been wounded having spent two years at the front).

With another song on the album covering the rather grim event of the Raft of the Medusa, it’s been an educational as well as enjoyable experience getting to grips with their latest album.  Here’s Mutiny with a fan-made accompaniment of imagery… it’s lovely, harrowing and brilliant all at once.

I must plan some more exploring then I could’ve had a clean sweep of topics in one post!

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