EDitorial ± 10-Jun-2013
Timberland Style Pram Boots. *BNWT* (Please L@@K At Pics)
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Item location: Park Lane, London W1
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EDitorial ± 30-May-2013
Hay Hay Hay
I go in for these things. These things being the occasional short story competition. Only those short stories are getting shorter and shorter what with the rise of "flash fiction", micro-tales of 1000 words or less. Sometimes a lot less indeed.
Towards the end of April I saw mention online of a contest being run by the New Welsh Review, a literary magazine over in that there Wales. They said:
NWR welcomes entries of microfiction stories (under 100 words) for its new competition to be judged by Cynan Jones.
NWR is excited to announce a new microfiction competition, Flash In the Pen, which encourages authors to turn their minds to writing a story of 100 words. The competition is to help celebrate the forthcoming 100th edition of NWR, which will be published this summer on 25th May. Closing dates for entries is 10 May 2013.
Now, imagine being invited to the Hay-on-Wye book festival to collect your prize: wouldn't that be something? Dream on.
As per the tardy norm, I left it late, hacking away at my tale on the night itself to get it down to that pesky 100 word limit. Which, I then saw, was also meant to include the title. Not wishing to prune my title, which I liked, that was another three words to chop out. Anyway, I did it -- well done, me -- and went to bed.
A week or so later, working from home, my mobile went off. Is that Ed? Hi, it's the New Welsh Review here. I'm delighted to tell you you've won 3rd prize in our Flash In The Pen writing competition. Would you like to come to our NWR100 launch party at Hay-on-Wye to collect your prize?
So, it turns out that Hay is not somewhere in the Cotswolds, as I thought, but over the border (just) in Wales. Nonetheless, myself and G. drove over there on Tuesday 28th May and, despite the generally atrocious wet weather, enjoyed a lovely reception in The Summer House. There were nibbly bites, sparkly drinks and Welsh spoken. Hey, that's Simon Armitage! Kudos, by the way, to Roz Goddard who won with her "Dressing" story: go read the judge's notes if you fancy.
EDitorial ± 16-May-2013
Ipswich Lunches: Shelley's, Suffolk New College
Going all the way back to the late 70s, I well remember a TV series with the name Malice Aforethought. Telling the tale of a doctor who may have poisoned his wife and his subsequent undoing, it starred a bright young actor called Hywel Bennett. Later that year he'd become almost a household name as the job-dodging character Shelley. Which brings us to...
...the swish new Suffolk New College in downtown Ipswich. Since they do a large amount of catering training, it makes sense to have a realistic setting in which to serve their food: that's Shelley's, open during term time only. Ever-alert Andy had spotted this on their website:
Help to support our Level 2 Patisserie and Confectionery students by joining us for afternoon tea. Booking required.
We're there for shortly after 3pm, having both tried our best to ignore lunch. Shown to our table in the first floor restaurant, we're politely offered tea or coffee while we peruse the menu. Mistakenly, I'm assuming that we'll have to choose. Not so. Here's our three-tiered pile of goodness. Let's work from the bottom up.
- coronation chicken sandwiches
- pepper & chorizo tarts
- caramelised onion & cream cheese savouries
- roast red peppers & halloumi sandwiches
Easily dealt with. Couple of tantalising bites each. No problem. On to the middle layer:
- chilli & cheese scones
- classic fruit scones served with strawberries & cream
Has to be the savoury scone first, and it's a treat, esp. when taken with some of the chilli jam on offer. Very fine indeed. At this point, Andy declines the fruit scone and goes off-piste to the Pimms jelly, while I soldier on. Fruit scone is mighty fine too, what with the butter and jam and cream. Phew. Top layer to finish us off:
- macaroons with vanilla cream
- berry bavarois & Pimms jelly
- lemon drizzle loaves
- brandy snaps filled with creme chantilly
Eyes are starting to roll at this point and further hot beverages (endless refills thereof) are called for. We're doing our best to help teach these kids how it is dealing with real cafe customers. Those macaroons, as crushingly colourful as they are, present a challenge. I'm struggling with just the thought of that mini lemon drizzle.
One of the trainees then presents everyone in the room -- about 6-8 tables -- with a goody box of spare macaroons. Any other day, I'd bite his hand off. This is Arlingtons all over again but without the cleansing clarity of the cycle ride home. Highly recommended and will fill you up for days.
EDitorial ± 9-May-2013
Light Lunches: Trinity's Cafe, Saxmundham
Out past the farmcafe, way beyond Friday Street and, er, hit a right before you hit Yoxford. Think petrol grows on trees? This'll be our first run of several to the "popular market town" (gotta love a town council website) of Saxmundham. It's got the lot, you know, if by "the lot" we mean a Waitrose and a station. That, mes amis, is a killer combo.
Sitting plum on Market Place next to the rather fine Old Bank House is Trinity's At No. 14, at one time known as the Corner House Cafe. Sun's out -- hoorah -- though we're not, deciding on a wind-free table in the bright and friendly interior. Wherever you sit, there's the strangest feeling that Al Pacino is watching you. Hoo-hah.
Before we've even seen the menu, there are multiple thumbs aloft for free WiFi and today's Times and a feathering of local flyers for Folk East, Alternative Aldeburgh, Orford Ness, etc. Specials this Thursday include a tasty sounding spicy lentil soup. Not quite up to that, I'll take a large hummus bap with caramelised onion: yum. Look at me with my veggie shoes. I may have imagined that they were offering an Ian Dury tribute delicacy, the Saxmundham long sausage roll. That could be the chickpeas talking.
Back for a jolt, Andy -- today's chauffeur -- steals my thunder by ordering a flat white. Which leaves me with a half-decent Americano with HMOTS. That little biccy can wait until mid-afternoon 'cos I gots me a wodge of goody flapjack to digest. And in an encouraging sign of maturity, Andy disses the lemon drizzle and goes for the fruit and seed bar instead. Treat yourself down at Trinity's and watch the world go by.
EDitorial ± 3-May-2013
Thomas Dolby, The Invisible Lighthouse
(review published on InSuffolk.com)
There's a full house at Aldeburgh Cinema to welcome Thomas Dolby as he launches their weekend of Sounds & Silents, "a festival of film and live music". This is the world premiere of Dolby's film, The Invisible Lighthouse, exploring his lifelong fascination with Orford Ness.
His handmade film, a work in progress, is part documentary and part Boy's Own adventure. With live synths and narration, Dolby wonders aloud on the reliability of his childhood memories growing up near Snape Maltings.
Now, working in his beachfront recording studio - a renovated lifeboat - he learns that the Ness lighthouse, visible in the distance, is due to close. At the wheel of his small motorboat and dressed in period Lost Airman garb, Dolby navigates the marshes and makes land on the MOD-owned Ness.
EDitorial ± 26-Apr-2013
Ipswich Lunches: Just Eat, Hospital
All credit to the lad Andy. He's been busying himself creating a Googlemap of cafes still to visit. That'll be dead handy. While it would be super to visit Sizewell's Tea Hut or Stratford St Mary's Hall Farm Cafe, that would require not only an ultra extended lunch break but also an automobile. Today, we have the bicycles. What's nearby that we've not done?
Twenty minutes later we're locking our 2x2 wheels to the stacks of racks off Heath Road. Last week was M&S, this week it's A&E. Andy confidently leads the way past WH Smith and a Costa -- there's a thing you see -- then 90 degrees right and straight on until you're in need of a glucose drip. Three years back the two of us did Cafe Tempo, since renamed; this time it's the turn of Just Eat at the Courtyard Restaurant and Coffee Lounge, or JEatCRaCL for short.
Quite hungry, what with the cycling and the walking. What we have here is an old-style department store restaurant with pre-served portions of lasagne, battered cod, etc. Or some pre-packed sandwiches. Everything's pre something. Not a lot grabbing me, I ask what the hot filling to accompany the baked potato: serving lady points at a big ol' tub of baked beans. Guess that'll do. Serve yourself, extracting spud from mini oven, cutting, adding butter and ladling them pulses. On the plus-side, there's some free greenery to lessen the orangeness. On the doubleplus-side, jacket plus beans with a 600ml Pepsi set me back less than £3. More than reasonable.
Pay the cashier then take tray through to, wow, a rather nice open room with space to spare. Even a go-faster purple stripe around the wall. There's Andy tucking in to his jam pudding with custard like the ex-GPO employee he is. He's skipped savoury, the minx. Some of the punters obviously work here while others, bless 'em, are visiting. As you'd expect, it's an odd atmosphere.
Best part of the experience is to come. As well as a cheapo vending machine, JEatCRaCL includes a mini Starbucks franchise. They can't offer me any chai tea, sadly, but the latte is hot and strong. Those pre-sliced cake portions aren't doing it for me, then I spy various produce from north of the border Tunnock's. Not sure which of wafer or teacake or snowball to have so let's take the lot. Yum. Very much in keeping with the spirit of Aneurin Bevan.
EDitorial ± 25-Apr-2013
TT1213, Week 4
Turning out tonight are Levi Strauss Matt, Mitre James, and, in a change from last week, Marcus Evans Ben. Game started late -- wrong turn for Kennedy and Ed en route -- and didn't get any earlier as we went on. In brief:
- 0/3 for Ed, on the wrong end of multiple deuces and underperforming
- 0/3 for Steve, making Ben and Matt work hard for five-end games
- 3/3 for Kennedy -- star of the night, digging in hard to pip Matt and James in more five-enders
Way past 11pm before the doubles started. Steve generously opted to score leaving Ed and Kennedy to battle James and Matt. Another five-ender, of course, match completing sometime around 11:30pm with E&K emerging victorious for a change. A few more doubles wins and we wouldn't be staring relegation in the face. Been a tough season.