Saturday, March 31

Saracens Vs Harlequins

So I'm not really an authentic Rugby fan really. I don't know how the game is played, not fully anyway, and I'll be damned if I can name any teams or players. But still when you get offered free tickets to watch a league match in Wembley you don't really turn them down too quickly. I was sure it'd be a decent Saturday out.

And apart from the cold it wasn't too bad at all. This was my first time back at Wembley since an Oasis gig I attended over a decade ago, way before the rebuild, so it was nice to see what they had done with the place. I was duly impressed, particularly as we got a decent view of the pitch despite sitting in the heavens.

The rugby itself was quite fun too. I decided to back the home team, The Saracens, and I must say that I kinda got into the whole thing by the end of it and was a even a little gutted when they lost. Oh well. But live sport is fun regardless of how passionate you are about those playing.

A nice little bonus was being part of a world record - the largest ever attendance for a club rugby match apparently. They even took one of those HD images of the crowd - you can check that out here.

So yes, a pretty decent day out; I might even have more than a minimal interest in the sport now.

Monday, March 26

Food: Jom Makan Click for more info

Well isn't this a little gem? Halal Malaysian food, clean, intimate (although perhaps only because it was a little dead) and brilliant service (on many levels if you know what I mean).

It was cheap too, with our satay starters, mains and drink all totalling a very reasonable £15 per head excluding service. We even accidentally ordered an extra dish, which actually came in handy seeing as how excellent the food was.

Anyway I'm gushing a little now. Much recommended.

Sunday, March 18

Blo' Norton Click for more info

It's amazing how easy it is to get away. This particular group of friends and I did it a (pretty unbelievable) three years ago in The Cotswolds and have been gagging to do the same again at some point despite making the usual promises of making it a yearly tradition. It's not like there's a scarcity of places to visit, after all.

This time around we went for a little village in Norfolk called Blo' Norton. Exotic and distant as it sounds, it was actually less than two hours away so was literally an even quicker win that we could have hoped for.

We were staying in the Blo' Norton Hall Barns, which is exactly that - a barn, except done up Grand Designs style. It was pretty impressive with its large glass front wall, large through lounge taking up the whole of the bottom floor and numerous mod-cons. And as has become a regular occurrence in these places, it even had a bunk bed. Woo!

And to be honest that's all I really have to say about Blo' Norton. Between the weather and the location there wasn't really much to do except relax, unwind and doss; yes there is the village and nearby town of Diss to explore and other activities like horse riding and the clay pigeon shooting we spent an hour doing, but I think our best times were had on the sofas exchanging banter and debating various time-wasting topics. Oh and of course a trip like this wouldn't be complete without some poo-talking late night poker action. I'm telling you: if you want to see what a girl is really like, teach her poker.

As much as it makes me cringe, this was as much a modern retreat as it sounds. But you know what? I had so much fun I don't really care - if anything I feel like we missed out for taking so long to arrange the second outing. Till next year, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 14

Indexed Click for more info

Hear, hear, Indexed. Hear, hear.

Thursday, March 8

Book: Small Island, Andrea Levy Click for more info

Now this is more like it. A book that is such a pleasure to read that you really don't want it to end. And if I'm getting ahead of myself it's only because I loved this book so much.

The story is essentially about the immigration to England of a married Jamaican couple during postwar Britain and the landlady who receives them. This sounds simple enough but the real power of the book comes from how multi-dimensional it is, as it covers first party accounts from multiple characters, and then that over a number of different periods in and out of the war.

It sounds complicated, but it's all done so expertly that it easily flows like a more linear book recounted by a single person. Levy's talent therefore is that of an actor, the ability to single-handedly recreate multiple characters (including dialect, personality and some amazing characterisation) in multiple times and situations in a single book. That's something that's pretty impressive actually.

The story itself is a prop to the characters, but still manages to be funny, informative, poignant and tragic. I don't know much about Jamaica now let alone during the war, so I pretty much lapped it all up out of curiosity.

Small Island is a lovely book, a brilliant read and an example of how all books should be written. I can't recommend it enough.

Saturday, March 3

Book: Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins Click for more info

So now that I've completed the trilogy (and that in the less romantic environment of the London Underground) I suppose I can give a final idea of what I thought of the series as a whole. It's not pretty, so if you're a fan you may want to look away now.

Mockingjay, and indeed the whole trilogy, comes from that current breed of populist books that are manufactured, manipulative and marketed to pull in as many quick readers as possible. It's rather cheap in that sense, but effective for it - the length perfectly balanced to stop you from giving up on it altogether. On that point I really don't understand why it had to be split into three, unless it was purely to sell more books. A lot of it is laboured and deliberately stretched, with pretty arbitrary cliffhangers marking the end of each chapter.

It doesn't take much investment to take some enjoyment from it I suppose, and I really didn't care much about any of it toward the end.

As an example of good literature I really can't recommend it, but hey, maybe the upcoming film will be better?

Friday, March 2

Food: Cabana Click for more info

Brazilian BBQ eh? Well, looks like Wahaca to me. Anyway what drew us to this place was its halal listing in the Westfield directory - turns out it's only the chicken that is Muslim friendly but that's more than enough for us.

The food is standard south American (which will probably offend more people than I wanted to), but the real gimmick here is the rolling open order you have on the BBQ. Think Yo Sushi but with meat and you'll get what I mean. A sure fire way to rack up a hefty bill.

Still we did eat well and it didn't cost too much in the end. I forget the exact amount, but it wasn't prohibitive especially since we got a drink each too. So, Cabana is recommended if you want something different in both food and experience; just make sure you keep an eye on your wallets as you do.