EDitorial ± 30-Apr-2012

TT1112, Week 1

Big, big game tonight. Up in Manchester, not here. Down at Martlesham was a game between Defiants -- already crowned Div 3 champions, yay, and Bright Stars -- already pinned to the bottom. That's some dead rubber. This particular fixture should have been played in the very first week. Hey-ho.

No matter, we've pongs to ping. Thanks to dad Neil and son Ed for making the effort to form 2/3 of a team and provide some opposition for our rusty selves, it being nearly three weeks since our last game. In brief:

  • both points for Ed, the senior putting the junior in his place before sweating to beat a very useful Neil 3-1
  • both points for efficient Kennedy, not dropping a game
  • single for Andy, going down 3-1 to Neil

Customary doubles for Ed and Kennedy. Won first two ends, cruising at 7-2 up in the 3rd before throwing it away, Ed junior playing a super crosscourt winner to take a deserved point and so double their tally. And that's it for another season: 23 points clear and top of the league!

EDitorial ± 26-Apr-2012

Ipswich Lunches: Coffee Moment

Attempting to tick off all light lunch locations in a large town like Ipswich is akin to playing Whack-A-Mole on Felixstowe Pier. Origo? Gone. The Orangery? Gone too. Oggy Oggy? Gone gone gone. That was just the Os.

So it was no great surprise when the unfortunately named Munch bit off more than it could chew. When your neighbour is the really rather good Caffe Basso, you're going to struggle. Boys against men. Sprung up in its place is the singularly named Coffee Moment. What have we here?

Inside by the window sits Andy at the single table. The sparsely furnished interior has a drinks cabinet, a shelf of snacks and a plethora of Polish sauces. On the counter are cards offering translation services. Brompton Boy is already tucking into his unspecified wrap. I'll try one of the odder choices on the menu: meat dumpling, please. Sorry, we don't have today. OK, a panini. No, awaiting delivery. (Feels like we're back in the early days of Honey & Harvey.) Sausage? Yes. I'll bring over.

Within a few minutes, my deli-style sausage arrives with a handful of onion rings and four cucumber and tomato slices. Presented on a paper plate, the plastic knife doesn't last the distance. It's all a bit weird, though the meat itself packs some taste. Straight onto a pre-packed dessert of a very light cherry cheesecake -- nice -- and an OK coffee of the type "latte macchiato". We were there for nearly an hour and nobody else entered or left in that time. Possibly this is a pop-up Polish eatery. I give it until July.

If it was a car -- FSO Polonez Atu.
If they were passing by -- Liev Schreiber.

EDitorial ± 23-Apr-2012

Graham Coxon, Cambridge

One day Martin Scorcese may make a four hour film about Graham Coxon. After all, Marty did that epic about George Harrison, didn't he? Despite his contributions to the Fab Four, poor old George always found himself just to the left of the limelight that was thrust upon Lennon & McCartney. They were the front men who wrote the songs and sang the songs.

Now consider Graham Coxon whose left foot can be glimpsed in the shadows thrown by the spotlight that follows Damon Albarn's every step. Damon's the front man who writes the songs and sings the songs. Not content with Blur, our Damon goes on to form Gorillaz -- huge -- then The Good, The Bad And The Queen -- less so -- before becoming hooked on world music, writing an opera, etc. It's a litany of successful side projects.

Graham Coxon's side projects, by contrast, comprise a host of solo albums. He's probably got the best part of around 70 or 80 tracks to choose from tonight at the Cambridge Junction. On stage, his backing band includes Snake, a guitarist, Bubba, a big-haired drummer, and Brian, another guitarist. At least that's what I imagine their names to be. Plus he's fallen for the whole Human League vibe and employed a pair of girlies on keyboard and assorted percussion.

He starts well with some songs from Love Travels, though he almost seems keen to throw them away, get them over with, dispose of them quickly. Then we're into the new stuff from A&E and the going gets a little murkier and slightly proggy. Those snappy three minute affairs have transmogrified into six minute partitions of sound.

I'm not sure that he ever really wins over the crowd. Inter-track chatting is kept to a minimum of mumbles. Playing new material is never gonna be easy. Strikes me that our Graham is not the natural frontman. He'd look great just to the left of a charismatic singer, we know that. On his own, things become indulgent, unstructured, lacking focus.

He takes an age to come back onstage for the obligatory encore. Is he coming back at all? Finally, he's here to play what the crowd want to hear -- Freaking Out. Then he blows it by not stopping there. Perversely, he finishes with a slower MOR-type song, almost like Snowy White. I look around. I don't get it. Perhaps that's for the hardcore fans. But I'm nonplussed.

I dare say he'll be great when Blur play Hyde Park later this year. Tonight, not for me.

EDitorial ± 17-Apr-2012


Mostly dried out from our fun day out, it's off to deepest Essex for a quiz night. Beth's off to India -- bless -- so the cool college kids are running some fundraising events to help an orphanage over there. Or something like that. First up is a fantastic homemade veggy curry, then we're off. Us four adults are replaying our roles from some years back. Tonight, though, we're aided, if that's the word, by Eldest child of each married couple. Here goes nothing for Beth's Bombay Mix.

Selected questions we did well on:

  • who provided the voice of Doc Hudson in the film Cars?
  • which is the only member country of the EU beginning with "M"?
  • what's the common name for buddleia?
  • in which year did the London Eye open?
  • which two letters are worth eight points in Scrabble?
  • who played Inspector Clouseau in the recent Pink Panther remakes?
  • how many US states begin with the letter "I"?
  • who's the current leading scorer in the Premiership?

Selected questions we did less well on:

  • the London 2012 Olympic games are which Olympiad number?
  • in which year was the Great Train Robbery?
  • which Grand Prix finishing place nets 10 points?
  • how many states are in India?
  • which US state is divided by the Great Lakes?
  • what's the national flower of India?
  • which piece of sporting equipment should measure 65-68mm and weigh 56-59g?

No, we didn't win or even finish top three. Think we were top ten, which was half-decent given the 120 people or so in the room. Fun night out, quizmaster did very well, and the food was excellent. Special mention to Ella for knowing the correct term for an electrical charge. Hint: it starts with "C" and ends with "B".

EDitorial ± 15-Apr-2012

Light Lunches: Barn Cafe, Alder Carr Farm

[presenting a guest review by Margaret Broom: hi, Mum!]

The Barn Cafe is part of Alder Carr Farm just outside Needham Market. It is housed in a partly beamed barn set in a very pleasant courtyard with little shops surrounding it and has seating for quite a few customers, a main area and another which is more compact. There are also tables and chairs in the courtyard itself for warmer weather, where plants are also on display for sale, so it all makes for a nice setting.

I had heard that they have jacket potatoes, but on perusing the menu on the wall outside, there was no mention of these and we went back into the farm shop initially. Having another recce, we returned and went into the cafe this time and they are chalked up on a board inside, but they also offer soup and sandwiches if you are after a light lunch. We had Brie and bacon and chicken and herb mayo jackets which turned out to be very nice with salad.

This place is not cheap but reading the comments notebook left thoughtfully on the table, it seems everybody liked the food. Tea to accompany, English for me and Earl Grey for Earl Broom which cost exactly the same, contradicting the price on the menu as Earl Grey is invariably dearer. Newspapers are available to while away the wait.

The lady who served us was very polite and friendly and although we had no cake, of which there were several lovely looking ones, we gave the thumbs-up to the Barn Cafe.

Website: Barn Cafe, Alder Carr Farm

EDitorial ± 12-Apr-2012

Out On A Port Lympne

Seated at the front of the safari vehicle at Port Lympne zoo -- oops, "Wild Animal Experience" -- all was fine with the world. We'd made good time into Kent, looked into a short break in one of the under construction Elephant Lodges, and were more than ready to see some wildlife in the raw/roar.

Five minutes after the truck pulled away, it began to rain. No problem: there's a tarpaulin roof. See those giraffe legs through the trees? There's some Przewalski's horses in the distance. That black rhino's grumpy. Turning a corner, a pool of water splashed over those with window seats. Soggy legs. We'll dry out.

Vehicle stops, everybody out. We trudge through the drizzle into the Discovery Zone in search of an indoor cafe. Ah, all seating is outside. Meerkats are nowhere to be seen. At least it's warm and dry (if crowded) in the reptile house. We practice our parseltongue and hope that the glass holds on the tarantula & cockroach cases. Back out into the chill to queue for the next ex-army DUKW.

When it turns up, it's out with the tissues to wipe the wooden slats. Great views both out to the coast and of a nearby ostrich. Is that the sun coming out? No. No, it's not, as we're disgorged into the Carnivore Territory, which is when the hail starts. Quick, kids, run for that cafe! We're super fortunate to grab a table and chairs for the six of us. Parents join queue to fetch jacket pots and chips for all. Outside, there's ice building up on the metal furniture. Nevermind, we're snug enough in here.

Best part of an hour later, we haven't moved and the rain doth persist. Seems like most folk have opted to hitch a lift back to Basecamp. Not us. We've paid our money and we're dang well gonna take the Primate Trail on foot. Five minutes later, drenched and depressed, a robust family discussion ensues. Sheltering under the Palace Of The Apes, a park car stops to ask if we need rescuing. No, we're fine, it'll pass, etc.

There's a full ten minutes of sunlight shortly afterwards while we watch a binturong, aka bear cat, eat lunch. We even do another circuit to catch the red pandas, though they too are laying low. Quite a sight to see a southern cheetah go from 0-60 in an attempt to catch a nearby rabbit. When we finally leave, the gift shop's shut and ours is one of the only remaining cars. Our clothes are steaming as we shed layers for the return journey. Love those family days out.

EDitorial ± 10-Apr-2012

TT1112, Week 19

Penultimate game of the season and look-see: with two games in hand and twelve points ahead, us BT Defiants have already won the division. Big yay for Andy, Ed, Kennedy and Steve! Tonight's game against Manor Club should have been the showdown between the 1st and 2nd place teams. Alas, star man Michael has been out injured for the last few weeks having been bitten by a dog. YCMIU.

Still, dad Winsley and son Martin are here to make a game of it. After all, this is the single team to have beaten the Defiants this season. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, it wasn't their night. In brief:

  • both points for Ed, going to 9-9 in the 5th end before edging past Winsley
  • both points for Kennedy, losing just one end to Winsley
  • and, most impressively, both points for Steve, beating Winsley 3-2

Plus an easy-ish doubles win for Ed and Kennedy gave us the full 10-0. If there'd been someone thinking ahead, we could have paraded the division 3 trophy around the room prior to the match.

EDitorial ± 3-Apr-2012

TT1112, Week 26

Out on a rainy A12 to Holton St Mary. Just about found that gap in the hedge before the light completely faded. Here's our old friends Ken, Rupert and, new face, Denise. Alas, no sign of Mick, out injured, who's only lost one all season. As they say, you've got to play the person in front of you. In brief:

  • maximum for Ed, somehow, coming back from 2-1 down to topple canny Ken
  • maximum for Andy, somehow, scraping past tough matches with Ken and Denise
  • brace for Kennedy, pipped by crafty Ken in the fifth end

Straightforward doubles win for Ed and Andy. Big mention for Denise and her food-related non-swearing, including:

  • rhubarb!
  • doughnut!
  • nuts!
  • sausages and bananas!

And she was good enough to make us a mid-game cuppa. Happy with that 9-1 win.

EDitorial ± 1-Apr-2012

Ipswich: Bacon Town

IPSWICH -- April 1st, 2012 -- The campaign starts today to turn Ipswich into a Bacon Town. For far too long we have been in hock to Norwich and Cambridge while Ipswich remains a small fry. Now we have the cure: let's turn up the grill and proclaim our fine Baconian heritage:

  • Going back to the mid 1600s, the town was represented in parliament by the Bacon brothers, Nathaniel (see blue plaque) and Francis. Then, in the 1680s, came Sir Nicholas Bacon. The present incumbent -- Blinky Ben MP, miniature person -- fully endorses our crusade: see photo.
  • Just as the middle ages drew to a close, our town's most famous son, Thomas Wolsey, was born. His father, Robert, was in the meat trade, hence Shakespeare's reference to the Cardinal as "this butcher's cur". Henry VIII gave Wolsey free range to control his affairs.
  • Although now called the "Ipswich Chord", the streaky railway line to the north of Hadleigh Road was previously named the "Bacon Curve". This was entirely due to its proximity to the old Harris bacon factory on that site. Older readers may also remember Bacon Curve as the infamous local prog rock group who were due to support Led Zep at the St Matthews Baths Halls in 1971.

Other bodies lending their backing include the Big Local Trust, known as BLT, and the Essex Pig Company at Jimmy's Farm.

An invitation to the grand lunch of Bacon Town has already gone out to an A-list star who was born in Ipswich in the early 1960s. Anyone who has seen his performances as Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films will vouch that Ralph Fiennes is the original Ipswich ham. Come back, Ralph, and bring home the bacon!