Waiting for the gig to start

We went to a number of shows this year, and I decided to make a list for my future reference

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That's 53 separate days on which we've gone to see something, and only 6 of those weren't live entertainment of some form. Some performers we saw a lot (Mitch Benn, for example - he was at all but one of those Distraction Club events, and he was also in HHGTTG as well as that solo gig). We also bought quite a number of CDs of music from performers, or after having seen them. A good number were cases where we didn't really know what we were going to see - the Bad Shepherds for example, but also many of the acts at the Distraction Club and of course, we buy the Folk Festival tickets before we know what acts will be on.

(Edited for cut, and to add reflection)

Saving time for the NSA: where I have been this year

It's that time again:

List the places where you spent a night away from home this year, marking places where you spent two or more non-consecutive nights with an asterisk.

Home is Royston, England

Cambridge, England
Strasbourg. Alsace
St Louis, Alsace (actually visiting Basel in Switzerland, but the hotel's a lot cheaper 50 metres over the border)
Bradford, England
Bosham, England
Bristol, England
Nottingham, England
Top deck of G-XLEC
Sai Ying Pun (西營盤), Hong Kong
Top deck of G-XLEB
Broughton (Hants), England (anticipated)

This is the first year since 1995 that we've not visited Ireland. We also failed to reach Scotland or Wales. On the other hand, we entered HK (and got the requisite entries in our passports) three times, but since that involved two day trips from HK into other countries (for values of 'other countries' that includes having to pass immigration both ways, and having different currencies), we don't get the asterisk on HK.

We came close to getting the same plane outbound and back, at which point I would have claimed one for that.

Countries entered (asterisk for ones not previously visited, plus sign for multiple entries):

England +
France +
Switzerland +
Germany +
Macao SAR *
China *

Oddly, I strongly suspect that to be the first time that I've failed to sleep in the majority of countries I've visited in a year, for though we do often manage to pass through countries (France, Belgium and Luxembourg) on the way elsewhere, we also tend to stay in more.

A quick cuppa

There is a drink. It is made by injecting high pressure steam through finely ground coffee to cause the coffee to be quickly 'squeezed' from the grounds, and it's made on purpose just for you: there's no batch production.

Or, in other words, it is expressly expressed from the grounds, and expressly for you.

What a wonderful collision of three different meanings of a word. It's understandable that the originators decided to call it 'express coffee'. Except that, they being Italian and the letter 'x' not being in the Italian alphabet[1], that became 'espresso'.

So the Italian word for it is 'espresso'.

The French, however, call it 'expresso', since they have the letter 'x' in their alphabet, as do the Spanish (who call it 'expreso' - note the non-doubled 's').

(I have seen someone mocking French company Carte Noire for calling their drink 'expresso'. This is one of those cases where the ignorance is not where the mocker thought it was.)

We English usually borrow culinary words from the French rather than from the Italians, with the honourable exceptions of pizza and pasta where even the French use the Italian words. So we have courgettes rather than zucchinis. And as we have the letter 'x' (and the word 'express'), it makes more sense for us to use the French spelling than the Italian.

I note that Americans have much less of a tendency to use French sources in the kitchen — they have zucchinis and cilantro. So it's not invalid for them to use a different term in this case, one that differs in a single letter.

Me, I'm going to be perfectly happy to see either 'espresso' or 'expresso'. Both are correct in my eyes.

[1] The 26-letter western alphabet is often termed the 'Roman Alphabet'. The actual alphabet according to Italians is 21 letters: J, K, W, X and Y not being proper members, and the Romans[2] had 23 letters (missing J, U and W).

[2] Well, not all Romans at all periods, since as an example the current Romans are Italians and have 21 as previously stated.

Brotherly update

Further to this post, sister now has a new house. She's had to pay cash because her last relationship left her with a trashed credit rating (as well as a very sour taste in her mouth) as a result of her being injudicious in trusting her fellow financially. However, with her inheritance and with a few thousand loaned to her by bellinghwoman and me, she's managed to scrape together enough money and get herself a semi, in Bosham near Chichester.

She's going to be paying us back in what she doesn't have to spend on rent.

We may decide to drop in on her on the 24th. Hey, it's not far from the house-warming we're going to already. Only the next door county, and if we're having to go south of the river anyway ...


As sesquipedality has mentioned, Costa Coffee have been doing a promotion to their loyalty card customers - a Tassimo T40 coffee machine for £30.

This TAS4000GB is a machine going for £110 - 120 at various sites such as Argos. It's not quite as nice as my T65 which includes the Brita water filter as well, but it's pretty close. And that £30 doesn't account for the £20 off voucher code you get if you register the machine with the Tassimo website.

So, my sister will be getting one of these as a house warming present, together with a bunch of Kenco Crema pods, (and I'll take that code).

Hey, me, cheap?

(She's been lusting over mine for a while now.)

She just needs (a) to get a windfall of quite a lot of money, and (b) find somewhere to buy that's not too extortionate in the Chichester/Bosham area. Part (a) is a week or two away

The prodigal returns

When we don't see one of the cats of the evening, we don't particularly worry. They'll usually be there for breakfast.

Occasionally, they're not there for that either.

The last time we'd actually seen Toro was on Saturday, though I was pretty sure that he'd burrowed under the duvet early Sunday morning. But we didn't see him on Sunday. Or on Monday.

By yesterday (Tuesday) evening, we were round the neighbours asking them to check their sheds for him, but we were definitely worried. I was coming to terms with the likelihood that we'd not see him again.

Four-bloody-a.m. this morning, I hear a demanding yowl. It doesn't sound like Sake who has a slightly different note. I got out of bed in the darkness and headed downstairs to the conservatory where the noise seemed to be coming from. I turned on the light, to see Sake in the doorway. Oh, no, not a false alarm. And then behind the cat tower, there's another cat.

Yes, it is Toro, and he's decided to wander along home to see if there's any food, and if not, why not.

I will admit to the cardinal sin of rousing bellinghwoman at 04:00 to show her that he was back. He was dutifully appreciative of the attention and snuggled under the covers for a while before later wandering off downstairs to be fed.

Of course he was gone by the time I roused this morning to the sound of a neighbour knocking on the front door to tell us she'd seen him for the first time in a few days.
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Food and drink

Last night, we had an ox-cheek pie (with a herby shortcrust pastry top). I like ox cheek - it's a very cheap cut that cooks up really well given enough hours gentle cooking time.

To drink, we had a bottle of Grant Burge's Filsell Old Vine Shiraz 2000, from the Barossa Valley

Damn, I wish we had a few more bottles of that. I haven't a clue where I got it, but the back label was right is saying that it would benefit from careful cellaring. Online guides indicate it peaked a year or two ago, and that I'd have to pay £30 a bottle to replace it. But I may be tempted to get a newer vintage.

Mopping up spilt blood

It's somewhat ironic.

Saturday saw higher temperatures, with the snow beginning to thaw off. The late evening saw heavy rain, which washed away the last of the snow.

So of course it's on Sunday morning that we got a knock on the door: an elderly man had managed to slip and fall over on the pavement two doors down, and the knock on the door was a passer-by asking for help.

(We were in, whereas the inhabitants of the nearer houses weren't.)

It was an old man from the other end of our street. He was a bit shaken, and bleeding from his forehead. But he was conscious and decently coherent for someone aged 87. Some of his neighbours turned up, and we made him comfortable with blanket and cushion while waiting for an ambulance to come (we wanted him checked out, in case of concussion etc.).

And then we used some of the rest of the tissues to mop up the small red pool on the ground.