EDitorial ± 30-Sep-2010

Good Old Mr Tesco

Thursday, I said, is the capitalized Big Day. That'll be when they have it in. They sent me an email saying so. Mr Tesco, who looks after us and feeds us, wouldn't lie to us, would he?

The Boy, being a boy, when he sets his little mind on an object of desire, can think of little else. Not a Nerf gun this time, though he's keeping a beady eye on YouTube reviews, but a particular Wii game -- Mini Ninjas. Not a new game, either, but one he had previously, completed in a week, and which we then flogged on eBay. Did OK out of it and got most of his money back.

Now he's dead set on buying it again. Amazon would take too long, Argos don't stock it and we were outbid (by 20p) on eBay. Resourceful Dad shopped around and found it for a good price on Tesco Direct. What with free delivery to store, could order it on Tuesday and pick it up "after 4pm" on Thursday. Fine, said The Boy, though that's still a long time to wait.

Penultimate day of the working week and we've got oodles, bags and plenty of time. Dad's cooking so tea's running a bit late, then Dad insists on (a) stoking the dishwasher, (b) checking that we have the order number, (c) going to the loo and (d) making Wifey a cuppa. Way too dark and miserable to insist on two wheels, so father and son board the family motor around 7:45pm, wipers on.

Up past newly opened Suffolk One (don't call it the Swiss) and into a parking spot outside the Copdock Tescopolis. We jog in out of the drizzle and stride purposefully over to the desk: pick up your Tesco Direct order here, it says. Quite a few tills, nobody around. Let's give it a minute, I say, and somebody's bound to turn up. Nobody does.

Behind the desk is a sign: open from 8am to 8pm. My phone says it's 20:03. Not a problem, I reassure The Boy, we'll sort it out at Customer Services instead. Over we go. Sorry, she says, we don't have the right key for the Direct stuff. You know they're open from 8am tomorrow? Stony silence in the Ninja-less car all the way back home.

EDitorial ± 27-Sep-2010

TT1011, Week 3

Unwisely, perhaps, Andy C. had given Andy W. some hope with the news that that tonight's opposition finished third-bottom in last year's division 3. Coupled with a weekend practice, surely he'd be in with a good chance of a point?

That was before we discovered that none of last season's players would be facing us. New year, new team, old blood. In had come cranky Geoff, very quick given his advancing years, spinny double-barrel Chris (1) and ex-premier Chris (2). Saw a bit of Chris v. Chris in the warm-up and they looked a bit handy. Not gonna be Andy W's night, again.

  • Andy C. upset Chris (1) by winning a five-ender on an edge, then sneaked a determined five-end victory against Chris (2) before nearly but not quite coming unstuck against Geoff
  • Andy W. played some good stuff and went to deuce with Chris (1)
  • Ed beat Geoff in 3, Chris (1) in 4 and scraped past Chris (2) in 5

Which leaves Andy -- C, not W. -- clinging on to his 100%% record, and the other Andy -- W., not C. -- yet to get off the mark. Not sure when, but he will do it.

NB Deep blue table tonight. Good temperature, unlike our last visit a few years back. Plus they were good enough to make us a cuppa halfway through, bless 'em.

EDitorial ± 24-Sep-2010

Felixstowe Light Lunches: East Coast Quilting

Reports of a new coffee shop stroke tea room stroke caff are always received with great interest by the Light Lunch First XI, even more so when it's sited in such well-trodden places like The 'Bridge or The 'Stowe. We're still getting to grips with The 'Swich, truth be told. So when Andy sighted potential unpatronised premises, we flew there like twitchers to a red backed shrike.

First up, let's nail the location. We took the Trimley turn off the A14 then headed left, along the neverending High Road, in the general direction of Felixstowe. Somewhere up here on the left, remarked the driver, as we passed The Blue Cross on the right. Prayers answered, we were given a sign: it said TEA ROOM NOW OPEN. I thought this was Trimley St Mary but it isn't, it's Walton, apparently.

That chalkboard sign was propped up against a shop, East Coast Quilting. Wot? Another unholy melange like Tea & Antiques? Tables are through the back, said the nice lady: go through and I'll get you a menu. Sashay past the silks and thread our way past the reels, and here's two tables. Quality tablecloth, better than we're used to.

One of us (not me) had the foresight to ring ahead, so we were pre-warned (unlike the Moon & Sixpence) about the lack of savouries. Sorry, no scones today, either. Never fear, slice of be-Tupperware-d Vic sponge and two for tea, please. Stupendous patchwork to admire on the wall during brewing-up time.

Quick chat revealed that people can travel quite a way to fulfil their quilt quota, and those folk are often gagging for a cuppa when they arrive, hence the minimal set-up. Good tea, good cake. Then over the road for takeaway goodies from The Bread Basket to be greedily consumed at a cheekily borrowed table outside The Half Moon.

If it was a car -- Singer Vogue.
If they were passing by -- Susan Sarandon.

EDitorial ± 22-Sep-2010


Gets to a certain time, late evening, and assuming it's a school day, all's quiet in the house. Apart from l'il ol' me in the kitchen, sprung to life with domestic obligations: load the dishwasher scientifically, refill the rinse aid, (a) locate and (b) unload lunchboxes, plonk down some wet food for the cat (ah!), lock the back door. All while catching a bit of Five Live or The Bugle or Kermode or The Word podcast.

Chores chored, what's my reward? Hot cuppa, dur, with a choccy digestive, or kids' unfinished Rocky, or piece of toast. Or maybe a Fluff sandwich?

And there was fluff
I never thought there could be so much fluff
There was handfuls of the stuff
— Wreckless Eric, 33s & 45s

Not dusty mitey spiderwebby fluff. That'd be horrid. No, being me, this is marshmallow fluff, naturally enough. Sis had brought me back a jar from the US a while back, then a friend presented me with the same from, I think, Harrods food hall -- posh fluff.

Blurb recommends having it on "toast, scones or teacakes as part of a balanced breakfast." P'raps with a big bowl of Special K on the side? Since my body's a temple, I'm hugely relieved that there's "no artificial preservatives", and I make sure to only spread it on Kingsmill 50/50 for that whole grain goodness. Such a snack is roughly equivalent to chopped-up banana in low-fat yoghurt with a sprinkling of blueberries. Or so I tell myself.

Won't be long now until the likes of Jamie or Hugh pick up on it and start telling the world (or a group of American schoolkids) about this new superfood. Unless Delia gets there first, and there's a seasonal run on the stuff. Fluff -- it's all good. Not half.

EDitorial ± 21-Sep-2010

TT1011, Week 2

Week two and the bottom division is proving to be no cakewalk: yep, we lost.

I'd agreed to meet up with PC Andy for a pre-match warm-up, and warm up we certainly did on probably the warmest day for a month or more. I gave him some Yoda-style advice -- be the ball -- and he hit some good shots. Would like to think that he went into the match feeling that he could win a game or two.

Sadly, the Sith Lords of the Manor Club stubbed out that fragile lightsaber of hope. Father and daughter last week, father and son this week:

  • much-improved Martin took an end off both Rene and Ed, and restricted Andy to 4 points over 3 ends,
  • tricky Winsley got the better of a tough game with Rene but finished runner-up to Ed in a equally tough and sweaty game,
  • and Michael maintained his 100% record

Gritty five-ended doubles finally went to Rene & Ed though wasn't enough for the draw.

EDitorial ± 17-Sep-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Bourne Bridge

Got wheels again this week -- not any wheels but the fiery hot wheels of a Nissan monster truck. Vroom, though not v. much room 'cos of Andy's detritus. Suggest we retrace our route from January's hike to Holbrook: over t' big bridge, down t' hill but this time left at t' roundabout.

Barely within the borough boundary, based on the old Bourne Bridge is a bastion of the all-day breakfast known as Tony's On The Bridge. Saunter by on the sabbath and it's shut, a standalone be-tarped structure. Drive by Monday to Saturday, anytime from 7am, and they're feeding the faces of truckers, builders and chandlers from here to Harwich.

There's lay-by parking if you're lucky, which we are, and seating if you're staying. Most business is evidently takeaway. Baguette or burger? Former for him (bacon + sausage + egg), latter for me (skip the sausage). Plus a cold cherry Coke to sip while seated admiring the view once occupied by the Cliff Quay power station. His baguette befits his vehicle, while my burger is another fine example of a manwich (see also Wimpy). Burger, bacon, egg, onions and ketchup, oh my. Reminds me that on hols we passed a fast food place called Hamburgers & Good Times.

Burger lovingly consumed and lips licked like J. Wellington Wimpy, there's still a sweet spot left to fill. Today's cakes are all gone, sadly. I'll have a Twirl, please: at which point the fella behind the counter does a 360, narf. With a milky coffee, of course. A minute later the microwave pings and there's my hot beverage. Wouldn't get that up the road at the poshy-washy Suffolk Food Hall. Tony's, a place where men -- and me and Andy -- can eat like men.

If it was a car -- Austin Champ.
If they were passing by -- David Myers and Simon King.

EDitorial ± 14-Sep-2010

TT1011, Week 1

Grotty weather, town gridlocked thanks to ITFC's home game v. QPR, and the BT Defiants droids are being deployed up at the dome using the Eco Warrior's monster truck. No guest Indian player (hi Anshul, hello Arvind), at least not at the moment, and Grenvyle's leaving it late to return his registration form. Which leaves lifers Ed and Andy, Rene the German and PC Andy. Fab four? Prefab four? Time will tell.

Our premier match in the (ahem) bottom league is against a newly formed Britannia team comprising:

  • father -- not played competitively since the 11 point rule came in,
  • daughter -- recently moved back to the area,
  • and other bloke -- last played in the league 30 years ago

Harking back to our triumphant 2007/08 season in the pits of division 3, we got off to a fine 9-1 start. Not quite so good this time, but an 8-2 victory was more than acceptable. All three of us beat the fellas; only one of us was man enough to conquer the nifty backhand of the lady. Not Rene. Not Ed. Tip o' the tricorn to Cap'n Andy. And congrats to Rene and Andy for landing a five-end doubles too.

EDitorial ± 13-Sep-2010

Harvest At Jimmy's

Another weekend, another Suffolk festival. And no, I didn't lose any children under my care this time. Well, their mother was a bit concerned briefly, but I always knew they'd turn up.

Day ticket for Harvest At Jimmy's, local home of our local celebrity pig farmer, him off the telly. It ran for the first time last year and now it's back, with more cookery and more music. Missed the Hairy Bikers and Scouting For Girls on Saturday, and it's fingers crossed for good weather on Sunday.

Short trip to Wherstead in the heavily loaded 7-seater, briefly in a queue, and we're in. Fiver to park your naughty carbon-emitting vehicle though there's a free apple for every passenger. Sun's spotlighting local boy Ed Sheeran as he finishes his well-received set. Going one-up on Latitude, there are large individual letters spelling out HARVEST, each one a-top its own hay bale thus forming seven separate and non-confusable meeting points. Clever.

Touring the catering stands, River Cottage is here (but no Hugh) as is a Jamie Oliver concession (Jamie Does Elsewhere), plus loads more. Burrito for me, please, with chicken, rice, guacamole, black beans, cheese, etc. Nom. While I'm waiting on wifey's freshly made fusilli and king prawns, scruffy fella walks past with all eyes on him. That'll be new father Jimmy Doherty.

Music-wise, Kate Rusby is splendid (despite the rain shower) and splendidly down-to-earth, Jo Whiley spins some discs and gets the crown jumping, and The Hoosiers are pop-tastic. Bloomin' 'eck, sun's gone and temperature is going down faster than a rare breed burger. Thank goodness for Newton Faulkner to warm the cockles. Not someone who's been on my radar before, but the man's a star. Fantastic show with strings, video effects, a dancing alien and a phenomenal version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Top man, top day out. Though mighty glad to get back in the car and stick the heater up to 11.

EDitorial ± 9-Sep-2010

Neil Innes, Ipswich

There was once a most peculiar show on BBC2 called The Innes Book Of Records (see clip). It featured the eponymous Mr Innes in a series of pop videos, kind of, with a wide variety of musical styles. He might be dressed as Chaplin, or a suave concert pianist, or with a Peter Gabriel flower mask. One clip would end, another would begin, then half an hour was up and that was it. Most odd. I thought it was great.

Only much later did I discover that:

  • the two main men in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band were Viv Stanshall and ... Neil Innes
  • the chief minstrel in Monty Python & The Holy Grail is ... Neil Innes
  • the two main men in the Rutles were Eric Idle and ... Neil Innes
  • the protest singer from The Secret Policeman's Ball is ... Neil Innes

Seemed that he's been everywhere -- including a Ukulele Orchestra concert in 2007 -- and is now doing a "four night residency" at McGinty's in dear old Ipswich. As the great man says, "not quite the Hollywood Bowl."

Warming up the audience, he begins with a brief I'm The Urban Spaceman, or, as he calls it, "a medley of hit". He talked us through the early days of the Bonzos, buying penny 78s with awful titles like "I'm Going To Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight", and did a French accented hum-along version of Love Is Getting Deeper, complete with dodgy moustache. Took me back fully 30 years to The Innes Book Of Records. Marvellous evening with fine support from The rocking B.Goodes and the girly Ladybird & The Larks.

EDitorial ± 8-Sep-2010

Ipswich Lunches: Cafe Moda

Had agreed that we'd hook up by BHS to lock bikes, then skirt near JaCey's and into the Buttermarket. Didn't work out. I was early. There, I've said it. Appointed time came and went, then the Motorola piped up its tinny Ms Pacman theme and Andy's text said: meet you there. Alrighty.

Opposite the nondescript Cafe Giardino is the home of one of the infamous Nine Caffs. Not that Allders exists anymore; that'll be TJ Hughes these days. But tucked away on the ground floor of "the big discount department store" is a petite oasis of goodness called Cafe Moda.

Expectations weren't great faced with a bunch of prepack sarnies and baguettes, though last week we'd have killed for such edibles. Slightly fresher should be the panini: tuna, please, plus a Latitude lemon ice tea (nice). Still waiting for Andy, got chatting with an old dear at the next table. I normally come out with my son or daughter, she said, but they're both on holiday. I was a Land Girl, you know. I used to build Spitfires (she showed me a badge on her coat). I was one of nine children.

And here's Andy in his hi-vis, carrying his fold-up boneshaker. And here's my panini, presented with some well-dressed salady bits. And here's the elderly lady, again: I like to get out of the house. I use the free bus. Some little boy looked at me the other day and asked why aren't you paying? I used to go dancing in the town centre. She likes to chat, which is fine by us, and we touched on local landmarks like Sarony's and Arlington's.

I escape briefly and return to the counter to order what Andy's just finished, a mahoosively impressive jam and cream scone. Ooh, and a double espresso with some foamy milk would be super, thanks. When I get back, the lady is talking about how she met Churchill at the airplane factory. She used to be a Land Girl, you know. Couldn't get a word in edgeways with Andy.

If it was a car -- Messerschmitt KR200.
If they were passing by -- Robert Hardy.

EDitorial ± 3-Sep-2010

Light Lunches: Moon & Sixpence

Sun's out, not long until Crackerjack and the pair of us are reduced to the state of poor pedallers. Upside, no motor equals no emissions. Downside, our operational range is severely compromised. Sometimes a great notion: how's about, I propose, a trip to M&S?

No, not that M&S, home of tiresome queues and tasty chilli, but the Moon & Sixpence. Retracing our steps from three-cubed months ago, it's straight on past Waldringfield Golf Club, up and down one or two inclines, and here it is, a stone's throw from the middle of nowhere. Stay in a holiday home, bring your caravan or throw up a tent, choice is yours.

There was talk on their website of a restaurant, bar and shop. Ah, said the lady in the shop, restaurant isn't open until 6pm, so no hot food, I'm afraid. Not to worry. We'll settle for a sandwich. Oh, she continued, there aren't any. Frozen food: yes. VHS videos to borrow: yes. Washing powder: yes. Ready to eat savoury food: not as such. At which point, we gave serious consideration to buying a packet of bacon and a loaf of bread. So, a low point in the long history of light lunches with a minimalist (a) packet of Walker's and (b) strawberry Yazoo.

Still, good for the spirit to sit out in the sunshine eating crisps while imagining an all-day breakfast mega-bap from the golf club down the road. Quick circuit of the lake afore a pleasant ride back through the woods to emerge near Martlesham Community Hall. Then into Tesco for coffee and cake. Sometimes you've got to know when you're beaten.

If it was a car -- Mooveo P608.
If they were passing by -- Roger Sloman.