Tuesday, 12 January 2010

2010 - So Far So Challenging

Location: Home
Mood: Not sure yet
Reading: Still getting through all the books I've mentioned.
Listening to: Buildings & Mountains
Playing: Bayonetta

It's not been the smoothest of rides so far this year. We've had broken heating, a frozen water pump, a rodent infestation, snow, ice, injuries - and barely time to draw breath before Sister and 2 youngest sons returned for another visit. They're always welcome, of course, but putting your feet up hasn't been a feature of the new year.

Fisher slipped on ice the other day and bashed her wrist nastily. It's fine, but sore, and she can't use it. Poor lamb. Didn't stop her from going for a run, naturally, but I don't think it did the wrist any favours.

So - yesterday we took a trip into Edinburgh to see if Sister couldn't get the tiles for her new house chosen and ordered. We dropped her off at the tile shop and took Wrecker and Tertius to Dynamic Earth for some educational fun. Unfortunately, it turned out DE was shut (be nice if that was prominently mentioned on the website) so we went to the Museum of Scotland instead. This had the bonus of being free, and there was plenty to entertain Wrecker for an hour and a half. We were supposed to be meeting up with Blarney for dim sum, but she couldn't get on the bus. According to herself, you can only take one buggy per bus and she waited for 2 buses - each of which had a buggy on them already so she couldn't get on.

I don't get this. It's a nonsense! If you fold up a buggy, how much room does it take up? Although, come to think of it, Blarney's buggy is vast and I'm not sure it can be folded very easily, so it must be an issue of space and safety. Still, it seems very harsh to make a woman with a baby miss the bus because you won't let more than one buggy on. She was most cross, and I felt the full force of her wrath when I dared ask after the wellfare of her car. It's got a flat battery, apparently, and has done since before Christmas. Hey ho. Nitten doesn't seem to be the paradise we all expected.

So that was disappointing - but we had a good lunch at Saigon Saigon anyway. Love dim sum, me - and so does Wrecker. He filled his 4 year old (to the day) face with 4 custard bao, as well as noodle soup, deep fried squid, and sundry other Chinese goodies. I don't think I've ever seen him eat so much. Tertius, at the princely age of 1, was pretty impressive on the gluttony front, too. Definitely my kin.

After lunch we all went back to the tile shop to see if we could help Sister choose. It transpired she had shedloads still to do, so I offered to drive the boys home, leaving Fisher with Sister to offer design input and catch the train when they were done. This agreed, I set off.

Unfortunately, it was only when pulling into the drive that I realised ... I'd left the house keys with Fisher. I called Epona to see if she had a spare key. She didn't. So I smashed the summer room window ... and discovered the inner door to the house was also locked. There was no hope for it. I had to take the cold, cross boys to Epona's and wait it out. Luckily it was only about an hour and a half before Sister and Fisher returned to let us in, and Epona was great - played snap with Wrecker, and provided a basket of wood off-cuts for them to play with. Thus did we while away the time. But I was supposed to be cooking slow roast pork for everyone - including neighbours - that night, and there was precious little time left to slow roast anything.

However, the evening did end well. I whacked the pork in the oven as soon as I got in the house, and Epona and Shah agreed to make it a late supper. They arrived at around 9.30pm, so the pork had 3 hours before we ate it, and if it wasn't as good as it was at New Year, it was very tasty all the same. If we hadn't had enough blimmin' Chinese food at lunch, we served it with rice, and steamed broccoli & pak choi with oyster sauce.

I've been getting a few hits from foodies, so I'm going to start listing recipes. Here's my recipe for Chinese slow roast pork shoulder:
  • Mix together: 125ml each of soy sauce and dry sherry, 70ml water, 2 spring onions (chopped), 2 crushed cloves of garlic, some grated ginger (about an inch?).
  • Rub a pork shoulder with Chinese 5 spice and place it in a covered, close-fitting roasting dish.
  • Pour the liquid around the pork, put the lid on, and place in the oven at 150 degrees C (that's 300F).
  • Cook for 4-5 hours.
I didn't have 4-5 hours, so I actually whacked the heat up to 220C for 20 minutes to give it a start, then down to 150C for the rest of the time. It wasn't as tender as at New Year, when I gave it the full amount of time, but it was still flavoursome and juicy.

I've decided I'm also going to include a quick review of the things I'm reading/listening to/playing. So:

The Republic Tigers (link at top) are ... well, ok so far. I've not listened to them very much yet, so the jury's still out. They're quite MOR, despite considering themselves experimental indie. I find their music pleasant, rolling along in the background type stuff. They remind me of a Scottish band called Dogs Die in Hot Cars, only much more serious minded and lacking a sense of humour. It's the same mix of pop, tune-based music with electronica thrown in for good measure. I like it - I'm just not sure I like it enough to give it my full attention. The Nerve is a cracker, though, and I'll rate the album - Keep Color - at 6.5/10. A pleasing, if unexciting, buy.

Bayonetta is, I'm afraid, one of those games that drives me nuts. It's all about button-mashing sequences, over the top blood, puerile masculine sexual fantasy (to a ridiculous, pretty offensive degree in this case) and fighting, fighting, fighting. Don't get me wrong, I'm the first person to complain if there aren't enough battles in a game, but the best games, for me, have a good mix of battling, puzzles and story. Take God of War, for example - a fantastically beautiful game with a clever story, an interesting anti-hero, a good variety of moves and weapons, and excellent satisfaction on completion. Bayonetta, alas, doesn't have half GoW's charisma. The heroine is preposterous, the battles repetitive and all too frequent, the action moves too fast for appreciation, there are too many things to think about at once ... No, I'm just not a fan. I daresay this has a lot to do with the fact I'm just not very good at button mashing, but surely a game should have a bit more substance than endless battles? As for the sexual aspect - I like foxy women heroes, and appreciate a witch who uses her clothes as part of her spells, thereby showing considerable flesh - but touching herself inappropriately is a bit much. The whole leg-spreading thing is tiresome, too. I'll give the game 5/10.

That's it for now. Oh - one bit of exciting news is that Janus has been offered a job in Sheffield. This is great news! Badger has a job in Manchester, so it means they can both move down south together and not be apart. We'll miss her loads, but I can't wait to visit and explore a new city. It's the end of an era, and the start of something brand new. Hurrah.


Anonymous said...

give the tigers some time. you will not regret it

Seshat said...

I think you're right - I can see them as a band that will grow on me. They're already another half point up in my estimation.