Every colour and then some

I failed miserably to get Olympic tickets in the ballot earlier this year and kind of thought “oh well, it’ll probably be a bit of a joke anyway, Britain won’t get it right”.

Then I watched the opening ceremony in total shock and awe.

Then it got better and better with some amazing sporting events, really positive press and a ridiculous number of gold medals for TeamGB.

And of course Jessica Ennis is pretty cute (as well as Mo of course)

So I spent the final week of the Olympics thinking, shall I buy tickets to the closing ceremony as there were a few very expensive tickets left. My thought patterns went from Yes, No, Yes, Yes, No, No, No every single day as I kept trying (the completely rubbish) for availability of events.

In the end I could resist no longer and a couple of days before the event I bought the tickets and proceeded to PANIC. What if my seats were accidently allocated to someone else? What if the queue to collect the tickets is so long that I don’t get in in time? (rational huh).

Of course I then proceeded to be very calm and chilled out – well… I got to London on Sunday at 10am and went straight to the ticket desk (no queues at all!) and then mooched around the stadium for SIX HOURS before the gates opened (ignoring a quick trip to Tower Hill to catch the marathon runners). I was at the front of the queue for the park entrance, then the front of the queue for the stadium entrance and managed to get to my seat a good 3 hours before the event started, calm eh!

The seats were amazing and apart from nearly killing myself by falling down 43 flights of stairs by leaning on the LED thingie that lit up behind everyones seat only to find it was held on with a cable tie I tried to remain calm. We were all instructed by the pre-show compere of what was expected of us, dancing, waving, single particular lines of songs etc and then the countdown began.

From then on it was pretty much a sensual overload. I seem to remember some bits – Eric Idle, the John Lennon and Freddie Mercury bits, the Kaisers being awesome, crying a lot and screaming a lot more, the beautiful Damien Hirst flag on the stadium floor, the beautiful phoenix covered in flames. But much of the rest of it was a blur of awesomeness.

Then, I realised that I was IN THE SAME ROOM (ok, admittedly I was sharing this ‘room’ with 85000 other people) as Alessandra Ambrosio! It couldn’t get any better than that… apart from the stunning fireworks at the end. I like to think the fireworks went off when she caught my eye, right?

Movies!

OK so I’m going to bundle all three of these stunning trailers into one post so you can overdose on their beauty…

First up the actual trailer for the Life of Pi movie… one of my favourite books of all time as I’ve mentioned many times before. The trailer is incredibly beautiful… but… is it almost TOO colourful? I did love it but have a slight worry that it’s going to look like CGI (which of course it is) too much. Spoiler warning, it even has the most beautiful scene from the book, the moment when Richard Parker leaves Pi.


Second up we have the 6 minute long trailer of Cloud Atlas, a book I struggled with on the first read, mainly because I was a bit dim when it came to threading all the stories together. However the film looks stunning and reminds me to read the book again before it comes out. Also unsurprisingly features “Jim Broadbent looking confused”…

p.s. This trailer may wall disappear as there seem to be a lot of take-down requests going on at Youtube


Finally if stories are just too much like hard work then Samsara might just be the thing for you. It’s by Ron Fricke, the same guy who filmed the amazingly titled Koyaanisqatsi which is just an amazing visual and audible experience to have on in the background on a big TV. Samsara (which means ‘The ever turning wheel of life’) has taken 5 years to make over 25 countries and is a showcase for all that is amazing about mankind. Also interesting is that it was filmed, yes filmed, on 70mm!

I can’t embed this one so just follow the link

#NOAH

The unbelievably awesome Darren Aronofsky posted a great photo today showing the set of his next film. I really can’t wait to see the completed Ark. It seems almost too easy and cheap to make a comment about the English weather in relation to it though doesn’t it? 

Thirteen

(27th June 2012)…. I’ve been to Thirteen, down a quiet little street in Storrington about 4 times now (I’m the Foursquare mayor, of course) (although like MOST places I get sod all for being the mayor, not even a little hat) and thought it about time I commented on how superb the food is. Tonight I had Mee Grob Goong followed by Phad Kra Pow Neue… do I need to say any more? Well, it’s all very authentic Thai food but it’s served in a very… hmm… English style. By that I mean it’s a typical starter, main course, pudding sort of menu with very well presented food to highlight all the individual flavours rather than being a big pile of mush on your plate like some places.

My starter was “Crispy noodles coated in chilli tamarind dressing.  Served with seared king prawn, bean sprouts and spring onion” which didn’t seem like much when it came out but was really filling and spicy without being hot. The main course though – “Stir fried beef fillet with chilli, garlic, dark soy and holy basil, accompanied with fried egg and cucumber” was even better even though Holy Basil sounds like someone in a Monty Python movie. It was a really rich, deep dish with an amazing balance between light flavours of the vegetables and cucumber and the beef and sauces.

It’s not a cheap place – dinner tonight was around £70 for starters and main courses with three glasses of wine, but it’s really worth it for a proper taste of Thai food.

I always like asking friends “if you could only eat one cultures food for rest of your life what’d it be?”…   and tonight reassured me that my choice of Thai is the correct one!

Eating out in West Sussex

So, I already have an article about great places to eat out in the Chichester area, but now I live slightly further away I thought I’d cast my culinary net a bit wider and comment on where else I love in West Sussex…

  • Three favourites so far are The Fountain – Ashurst, White’s Bar & Kitchen in Steyning and The Swan Inn – Fittleworth. All are owned by the same family and have really interesting menus of traditional British food very well done. The burger (even though I’ve banned myself from eating a single burger in 2012 which means I’ve eaten one nearly every damned week) in The Fountain is awesome.
  • Thirteen in Storrington is a fantastic Thai restaurant down a quiet side street. The food oozes authentic flavours and is so rich and interesting. It’s not particularly cheap but you’ll be blown away by the freshness and quality.
  • The Duke of Cumberland Arms in Henley (near Midhurst) is amazingly good and has a fantastic option for Sunday lunch – but you’ll need to book way in advance!
  • Also worth a trip is The White Horse – Storrington in the town itself, excellent staff and a nice Sunday lunch. The only thing lacking is a bit of atmosphere which is common with many restaurants in small hotels, they just always feel a little too quiet. I had the garlic soup last time I visited which was so amazing – but I couldn’t go within 50ft of anyone for 4 days afterwards. Small price to pay if you ask me.
  • The Chardonnay Restaurant – Storrington – yes, it really is called that. I am not sure if I should recommend this place as although the food was excellent it was like dining in an old peoples home. The menus were plastic coated and you were given both olives and wait for it… bombay mix as you waited for your table. Olives and Bombay mix are always a favourite combination of mine, like beef stew and ice cream or wood shavings on toast. The food was good though and huge portions. I’m really torn as to whether I recommend it or not!
  • The Pass – Lower Beeding at South Lodge Hotel received a well earned Michelin star last year, the restaurant takes special care over the provenance of the food it serves which is always a great touch. It was the first time I’d dined in restaurant inside a kitchen and it was great fun (although when you book you have to make sure you get a table near the action as there are a couple of tables with terrible views). You can even get closer to the action and go and see them prepare your meal itself. It must be *murder* for the staff though knowing they are under constant scrutiny from customers – no shouting or swearing allowed!
  • I couldn’t find a website for The White Lion in Thakeham but it’s tucked away down a pretty street and is a very traditional, busy local pub that serves great food. The menu is really extensive with lots of specials and they also do some *huge* kobe steak burgers. Not that I’ve had one of course, cof. The only slight issue is the mushroom farm nearby which is pretty intense! Lovely food and service though.
  • Vintage Rose – Storrington cafe in Storrington does fantastic sandwiches and cakes if you’re after something lighter. A huge menu and the crayfish tail with rocket sandwiches are excellent
  • The Crabtree Public House – Lower Beeding – I’ve just written about this one in the post below, but to recap it serves excellent local food and you can really tell from the menu what is seasonal at the moment. Prices are reasonable as well!
  • Restaurant Tristan – Horsham If you fancy incredibly well presented food with real imagination and though in the flavours AND happen to be in the Horsham area then I don’t think you can do much better than this great, tiny restaurant. The staff are very friendly as well and they do a fantastic Eggs Benedict if you pop in for breakfast.
  • Jamie’s Italian – Brighton I think it’s probably impossible to be disappointed here unless you were expecting a quiet, romantic destination (last time I went there were about 7 prams in the lobby! eww kids). The menu has loads of interesting choices and the food is prepared really quickly even when it’s heaving in here. My personal favourite is the flash grilled feathered steak although the Bolognese is pretty awesome.
  • Food for Friends – Brighton However, if you don’t fancy the hectic and somewhat “TV Chef” aspect of Jamies then I really recommend Food for Friends. It’s a great place to take somebody who thinks they don’t like vegetarian food as I am sure the awesomely inventive menu will convert them. Everything here is also not going to add any inches to your waistline, you can almost feel the healthiness in the food. It’s not a preachy hand-knitted-sandals type of place though and their food has a really international flavour, especially from the middle east.

The Crabtree – West Sussex

Another great recommendation (19th June 2012) in the Horsham sort-of-area of West Sussex. The Crabtree is a lovely pub and restaurant serving very fresh locally sourced food. I recently tried their six course “Taste of Sussex” menu which had some great highlights like a sorbet served in a glass of local sparkling wine and a great pork based main course (which was really large considering it was a 6 course menu) with the brilliantly named ‘Wobblegate Apple Jelly’. The only item that I felt could have been improved was the cheese course which was only two very similar hard cheeses. The entire thing was very well priced at £35 – and they have many other great items on their menu. As it’s so close to the excellent South Lodge hotel I’d definitely recommend it if you fancied a change from the great hotel restaurants.

9 months gestation…

Is gestation the right word? Well let’s go with it and see what happens shall we? My feeble point was that I’ve had an almost boring BMW 530D (the D is for boohoo Diesel) for 9 months now as a form of repentence or maybe a demonstration of financial responsibility or something. Which means I’m allowed to get a proper car at last. And here he is… yes he is a he and not a she, although he is very much in touch with his feminine side and has been caught reading the utterly rubbish Fifty Shades of Grey

(Click on image for making-biggerer)

Books…

As the previous post touched on my favourite books, I ought to admit my slightly disturbed recent reading…

It started off very well with the excellent Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic – which although it happened just around 100 years ago seems like a completely alien story of bravery, toughness and the epitomy of the British Stiff Upper Lip. How these guys endured (I nicked that from the title ya know) the unbelievable cold weather, wearing woolen outfits, eating crap food and having to row across the most incredible seas on the planet, I have no idea at all. Throughout the book I was thinking “ok so I’m guessing only a couple of them ever made it back to tell the story”, the fact that they all made it is just ridiculous.

However, since then it’s gone a bit downhill to say the least. I read the latest Irvine Welsh book Skagboys, which is set before the fantastic Trainspotting (which I read in one sitting on a flight to Sydney). It covers the early days of all the major characters of Sick Boy, Rents, the lovable Spud and the terrifying Begsbie… if you’re of a sensitive nature – and I hope you are – then I’d never recommend reading this book. I felt queasy and dirty after reading each chapter but that didn’t stop it from being hilarious and brilliant as well as horrifying in equal measures. If you’ve ever been tempted to try hard drugs then they ought to make you read this book first.

So, after reading Skagboys I had to of course re-read Trainspotting to put me in a light and cheery mood. I have no idea how I managed it but that somehow led me on to Crash by J.G. Ballard… yep! I am only around a third through it, or as my Kindle would say something like “32828 out of 2892484 through it” and it’s the literary equivalent of watching a car crash, or those videos on Youtube where idiots try to skateboard off the top of houses. I have no idea what’s going on, I’ve got no idea whether there is even a story, but it’s very compelling and fascinating. I just hope that there aren’t too many people really like this in the world, it’s just too messed up to imagine.

Suffice to say when I’ve finished the book I shall be investing in the entire Disney back catalogue to flush my dirty mind out.

Just imagine if they nailed this movie…

It’s still in my top three books of all time but I could never imagine it being made into a live action film, I was always thinking of it more as a Tintin type experience (p.s. Tintin was awesome!)… but just imagine how good it would be if they got it right, especially the moment when Richard arrives on land and just bounds away into the jungle.

Just in case the video gets deleted, it was the first footage from Life of Pi by Ang Lee.

 

 

Colossal Etsy…

Having a design/sculpture/art/crafts day today which led me to two great sites I’ve not been to before. Firstly, This Is Colossal, which is a blog of beautiful art and sculpture creations which are beyond anything mankind can create, I’m sure everything on it is made by space aliens. Secondly, Etsy, which is a much better alternative to searching for custom art and sculptures than my normal haunt (eBay). Everything here seems to be amazingly cheap as well! My favourite find is… MultiColoured 3D Butterfly (which I bought).

On thisiscolossal, I really liked Abby Diamond’s art that you can see at this website. It really reminded me very much of a beautiful hummingbird picture that I bought recently from Art Republic