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beach volleyball – london 2012

22 Aug
 I’m pretty sure everyone is getting a bit sick of the Olympics (and Kate Middleton’s navy blazer and cork wedges – mix it up a bit woman!), but I do think my recent trip to beach volleyball is worth a mention. I was sceptical. As I waited for Ollie outside the entrance, a stream of lairey guys surged past. Maybe 1 in 10 spectators were of the fairer sex. I thought I was in for two hours of being jostled by drunkards straining to get a closer look at bikini-clad asses. 
 
But I was nervous for no reason – this is not like any Olympic event I’ve been too before. This is a party! There is a DJ, a compere, fans are dressed up like Where’s Wally. We are whipped into a frenzy by the compere every time a point is scored, and we even have to cheer for the people who rake the sand. “Let’s hear it for the RAKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRS!!!!”

  There were Dancing Girls between sets.

  David Cameron has been complaining that if he hears ‘We Will Rock You’ one more time he will go insane. I thought he was just being a whinging pom, but you can literally see the sitting room of 10 Downing Street from the stands (on the left of this photo). I could see when he turned the light off, then on, then off again. Poor baby Florence. 

 None of the matches I saw had Team GB playing, so I was interested to see which team the audience would offer their allegiance to. A silly question. Brazil walked out in full body suits, Germany walked out in bikinis. Two seconds later?  “Let’s hear it for GEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRMAAAAANYYYYYY!!”

 

 

 

 
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baking pride

17 Jul

My name’s Ollie and I’m competitive.  Yes I admit it, if there’s a challenge I’m 100% in, and I’m pretty embarrassing to be around.

I wish this competitive streak had an off button, but unfortunately it doesn’t and it also stretches to the work environment. I don’t think it’s by accident I sit on a desk with one other (very placid) person, isolated from the rest of the team.

Now for some unbeknownst reason there seems to be a big group of  home baking ‘fans’ in our office, who take it in turns to conjure up all manner of amazing goods. Ever so recently this group has turned from sweet toothed (and natured) baking friends into hardcore competitors that makes Iron Chef look like a quaint village fete.

As a loose member of this fraternity (read desperate to belong), any opportunity to try and impress them with my baking skills I’ll bloody take it.

So as it was my placid desk friends 40th Birthday, I thought I’d try and bake a rainbow layer cake. I’d seen a few pics about these online recently, and thought if I wanted to be seen as mover and shaker in the office baking circle this might be my chance..

Not the sort of cake you’d bake for anyone with issues about artificial colours (or hyperactivity), but for cutting the cake “wow” factor, its hard to beat.

I think it turned out pretty well – my table mate was pretty ‘proud’ of my efforts and you’ll be pleased to know the baking fraternity are beginning to talk to me a little more…  as too are the LGBT group bizarrely.

 

london 2012 part 1 : ‘transport’ for london

10 Jul

Things that are already annoying us about London 2012.

That the inevitable commuting chaos which is set to ensue is being addressed in the following ways:

  • a poster campaign in the tube suggesting we all find ‘alternative ways to get to work’. this is on a backdrop of a woman pole-vaulting across london. hmm, practical.
  • boris johnson is now being tannoyed over the loudspeaker system at all stations at all times. which makes pre-olympics commuting almost as painful as olympics commuting.

And most importantly, no matter how strategically I have been laying the groundwork, the likelihood of me pulling off the old ‘working from home’ lark is looking slim. A ten minute cycle door to door just won’t cut the mustard!

ola stranger

5 Jul

Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to Secret Screenings – the new(ish) arm of the incredibly popular ‘Secret Cinema’.

For the uninitiated (if there is anyone left out there that hasn’t heard of this great concept), at Secret Cinema you buy a ticket to a film but you don’t know what it is. There’s always a big interactive element to the experience, but you don’t know what it’s going to be and the only thing you know is that it’s going to be pretty special.

The screening last night was of ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ – a documentary about a musical legend from Detroit you’ve never heard of.

With a voice and sound that’s reminiscent of Bob Dylan fused with Nick Drake, yet completely individual, Rodriguez recorded two albums in the late sixties / early seventies which, although a critical success, sold barely any copies. Rodriguez was subsequently dropped by the label and he disappeared.

Yet somehow his albums made it to apartheid era South Africa, where the songs, protest themes and lyrics connected with those that opposed the regime. Unbeknownst to Rodriguez his records sold hundreds of thousands of copies, he inspired a generation of musicians and was literally more famous than the Rolling Stones (he never received a penny for any record sales).

The crazy thing about his huge fame was that no one knew anything about him and legend had it that he committed suicide on stage. This amazing documentary follows two South African fans searching for the Sugar Man and the unbelievable discoveries they made.

All I’ll say is that after we had the pleasure of watching this great film, we were treated to a very very special performance which practically blew everyone in the audience’s mind.


This is one of my favourite songs from Rodriguez – as they say in the doc, one of the saddest, most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear.

Sign up to @secretscreening and @futurecinema on twitter for future events.. And also make sure you go see this doc when it’s released.

we’ll probably get hung for treason..

1 Jun

But we had to share this given the impending Jubilee weekend..

Have fun one and all.

broke or in a bunker? here’s dinner

29 May

It’s an apocalypse.

The riots have started up again and you can’t leave the house (happened to us!).

It’s the end of the month. You haven’t been paid yet and you have a fiver to last until Friday.

If any of the above apply, I have a recipe for you.

This is a very quick, cheap, foolproof and delicious way to make lentils.

Ingredients:

Method:

Put a cup of lentils, the contents of those cans (including the juice) and some spinach (frozen or fresh) into a pan. Add herbs and spices if you like.

Cook for about half an hour.

Et Voila!

This is more than enough for four people, and is fine to tupperware up and have the next day.

 

diamond jubilee strawberry “easecake”

28 May

 

We all do stupid things when we’re young, and for me one of the most idiotic (that I’ll divulge here anyway), was thinking it’d be a good idea to take a job picking strawberries for a month or two, so I could pay to go on a surf trip to France.

Irrespective of having to hunch over plants in ridiculously hot poly-tunnels (it was just my luck that we experienced one of those mythological “Indian Summers”), the worst impact of the job was the self imposed 50m barrier between strawberries and I for the next five years due to eating so many whilst working (and that I associated the taste of strawberries with searing back pain).

Having finally gotten over my ‘issues’, I now fully embrace the strawberry again, especially when they’re in season, taste great and are sold off at the end of the day down the market for 20p a punnet.

Here’s one of those ridiculously quick recipes I nicked from a magazine (I call it a four song recipe.. because fairly obviously that’s how many songs you listen to whilst prepping it) for a very summery dessert. I made this on the weekend and thought it’d be perfect to share prior to the impending Jubilee celebrations.

Strawberry & Lemon “Easecake”

As named by my good friend Laura.. who I think possibly ignored a calling to be a pun writer.

200g strawberries – this is just under a punnet full..
1 tsp caster sugar
4 digestive biscuits
100g cream cheese, easier to whisk if it’s at room temperature.. but unless you’re a wimp you’ll probably manage if it’s straight out the fridge.
2 tbsp icing sugar
125ml double cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 wine glasses

First chop the strawberries into small pieces. Put these into a cereal bowl, sprinkle the caster sugar over them, put a plate on top and give a couple of gentle shakes so they begin to macerate.

Then ideal if you’ve had a rubbish day and need to vent any frustration, put the the biscuits into a freezer bag and smack it with a rolling pin until you have a sandy bag of crumbs…then divide equally into your glasses.

Measure the cream cheese and icing sugar into a bowl and whisk – try and not get icing sugar everywhere as I invariably do.

Then add the cream, lemon juice and vanilla, and whisk gently to combine – it should be a nice smooth consistency – not too runny or stiff.

Now the hard part (and the bit that takes the most time..) divide the cream between each glass, and try not to get any on the sides of the glass.. it’s impossible I swear.

Then finally pop your chopped strawberries in the glasses, and sprinkle with a little chopped mint. Serve and impress friends… bending the truth at this point in regards to how long they took to prep always helps.

I’ve also found that out of a punnet of strawberries you have just enough fruit left over for your glass of the best summer drink going a Sipsmith Summer Cup.