Monday, 31 May 2010
Friday, 28 May 2010
Launching on 1st June and continuing every Saturday until 14th August, Birmingham’s much loved Bull will be letting shoppers know what he really thinks about people climbing on his back, how it feels to be one of the most visited landmarks in the Midlands, as well as informing visitors what’s happening at the centre.
Every Saturday a live webcam will be streamed straight from the Bull allowing visitors who can’t make it to the centre to hear and see the Bull and chat with other shoppers. The Bull has a sneaky side too so expect plenty of pranks as well throughout the summer.
Louise Hamer-Brown, Marketing Controller at Bullring, commented: “After almost seven years in service we thought it would only be right if we gave the Bull the chance to let off a little steam and finally tell us what he’s thinking. Over the years he’s kept a watchful eye over Bullring and he’s certainly seen some things so we’re excited to hear what he has to say!”
As of 21st June Bullring will also be offering one lucky competition winner a once in a lifetime opportunity to take over the Bull. Between 21st June and 26th July shoppers will be asked to submit their audition videos and recordings to lifefeelsbetter.co.uk/bullseye and tell Bullring why they deserve to become the voice of the Bull for a day.
Louise continued: “This summer we really want to create a buzzing and exciting atmosphere at the centre and Bullseye is just the start of this. We have lots planned, including a full events schedule proving that life truly does feel better at the centre this summer.”
For more information please visit lifefeelsbetter.co.uk/bullseye
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
It’s Geek Pride Day! Yes, it’s true. Today belongs to the nerds. Wikipedia reveals that '[Geek Pride Day] has been celebrated on May 25 since 2006, celebrating the premiere of the first Star Wars movie in 1977.' There’s even a manifesto to accompany the event:
1. The right to be even geekier.
3. The right to not like football or any other sport.
4. The right to associate with other nerds.
5. The right to have few friends (or none at all).
6. The right to have as many geeky friends as you want.
7. The right to be out of style.
8. The right to be overweight and near-sighted.
9. The right to show off your geekiness.
10. The right to take over the world.
2. Try to be nerdier than anyone else.
3. If there is a discussion about something geeky, you must give your opinion.
4. To save and protect all geeky material.
5. Do everything you can to show off geeky stuff as a "museum of geekiness."
6. Don't be a generalized geek. You must specialize in something.
7. Attend every nerdy movie on opening night and buy every geeky book before anyone else.
8. Wait in line on every opening night. If you can go in costume or at least with a related T-shirt, all the better.
10. Try to take over the world!
Oh and it’s also Towel Day, an annual celebration held on the 25th of May in tribute to the author Douglas Adams.
So pick your poison, nerd-boys and girls…today you rule the universe (at last)!!
Friday, 14 May 2010
My physiotherapist suggests that I try playing the piano to stimulate the nerves and build up my muscle strength, so I tried it out on the church organ earlier this week and here is the result. I owe my faithful Youtube subscribers more vids, especially since they have been so supportive and patient over the past few months. It felt very strange because two fingers are numb and my hand started to tingle after a while, so I didn’t practice beforehand, the pieces are largely improvised and everything is recorded in one take…excuses, excuses eh? Enjoy...
Lady Gaga - Poker Face
Dommin - Dark Holiday
Green Day - 21 Guns
Lady Gaga - Telephone
HIM - Join Me In Death
Previously recorded vids – Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, My Chemical Romance’s Cancer and Guns N Roses Sweet Child O Mine – can be found here.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
It all started a few weeks ago. I stepped out of my building at lunchtime to be confronted by two ducks. They were sitting on the grass making a disgruntled quacking sound and watching everyone pass by. Then the next morning I came to work to be confronted by this guy sitting on the wall outside my building:
So I innocently Twittered ‘what’s with all the ducks?’ and had a surprising response. It turns out that a friend has been feeding four ducks in her back garden and another friend has noticed that a feathered family has taken up residency in his communal water feature. Weird, huh?
I left work the next day by the back door in order to avoid the wall sitter by the front entrance. No sooner had I stepped out of the door when I heard a quacking noise by my feet and looked down to see these guys casing the back door. The brown one quacked menacingly at me, I swear it! :) (just check out the stare on the fella on the left….now that’s one dodgy duck….):
Now everywhere I turn there are ducks! And it’s not just a Birmingham based phenomena. I was in Redditch on Saturday morning and there were three sat on a roundabout checking out the cars. And this elderly Bournemouth woman is having hell with a flock that has occupied her fish pond. They’re spreading out and setting up outposts in preparation for the great invasion! They'll be in government soon...banning fishing and discriminating against creatures without webbed feet...mark my words! And they’re breeding fast too - the BBC News reports that a a 'wonder duck' in north Dorset has hatched 21 ducklings!
Yes, they’re cute creatures (and they taste pretty good too) but I reckon these ducks are pure aquatic evil. If they find my lifeless, bloated carcass face-down in the duck pond with my gullet stuffed with dried bread, don’t say I didn’t warn you!
EDIT: Thursday 13th May 2010:
Looks like they've started all-night stake-outs.
EDIT: Wednesday 19th May
My duck invasion spies spotted this fella on the ramparts of Ludlow castle. A look-out, eh? Devious...
Sunday, 2 May 2010
Before I comment on the food that was served to us at Purnell’s, I would like to compliment the staff and general ambience of the restaurant. We were greeted by formal but friendly waiting staff who made sure that we were comfortably seated in the lounge with a menu and glass in hand within minutes of entering the restaurant. Head Chef Glynn Purnell clearly understands that a client drinks in the atmosphere as deeply as he drinks his champagne. The interior décor was contemporary without being stark and I was pleased to discover, as I sank into a large leather chair, that comfort was equally as important here as modern, stylish furnishings. Photographs of Birmingham landmarks adorned the walls rather than the typical abstract, arty designs that are reminiscent of fast-food outlets. The staff were attentive, friendly without being suffocating and helpful and informative about each course. We were able to share a joke or two with the waiting staff without fearing that their job would be on the line if they cracked a smile. The lunchtime clientele ranged from suited businessmen on working lunches to groups of elderly women to young couples in jeans and t-shirts. There was a very relaxed atmosphere and although this was my first visit, I felt quite at home.
Lloyd enjoys eating at Michelin star restaurants and he is famously difficult to please, spending hours perusing the wine list for the perfect accompaniment to a meal and dissecting the elements of each dish. So the potential for disaster was at a critical level. We ordered the 8-course ‘The Purnell’s Tour’ taster menu, which was a very brave decision given that my digestive system is the harshest food critic that I know and at least four of the courses would be an absolute no-goer. I have a very sensitive palate and a serious bout of food poisoning a few years ago has left me nervous when eating certain foods that I have not cooked myself.
The Amuse Bouche was a cucumber sorbet with mint oil, toasted rice and ras-el-hanout cream. This worried me at first because I can’t stand cucumber and I am quick to pick it out of salads and sandwiches. But guess what; it was fantastic! In fact it was a shame that it was only a taster portion because I could easily have eaten more. The second course was poached egg yolk in smoked haddock milk foam with cornflakes and curry oil. The addition of cornflakes made me smile and it was good to glimpse a sense of playfulness and humour early on into the menu. Again, I tend to avoid eggs when eating out so I was nervous about this course, but the haddock foam was so instantly addictive and yummy that I cleared my plate within seconds. The royal of goats' cheese and pineapple on sticks also succeeded in changing my mind about goats’ cheese (although as Lloyd pointed out, it was a shame that the Chenin Blanc didn't quite match).
But it was the extraordinary triumph of what I expected to be discordant combinations of flavors that blew me away when tasting many of the courses. The salad of Devonshire crab was a revelation with the sharpness of the accompanying apple, the warming taste of cinnamon in the Carpaccio of beef was inspired, liquorice charcoal was an astonishingly flavorsome compliment to the breast of duck and the spicy tang of coriander, cardamom and Indian lentils with the monkfish masala was amazing.
The bar had been set pretty high by the time that the dessert courses were served. I consider myself to be something of a chocolate connoisseur and consequently I had very high expectations for the warm dark chocolate mousse with mango and rosewater sorbet. And it didn’t disappoint. The cold, juicy sorbet sat inside a warm, chocolate mousse that was pleasingly rich but not too sweet or sickly. The delicate ‘rich cocoa-throat burn’ balance had been perfectly achieved. It was a shame, I thought at the time, to spoil the residual taste of the mousse with the final course: burnt English custard egg surprise with blackberries and blackberry sorbet. I have only tried egg custard once before at a friend’s wedding and hated it, finishing the dessert only out of politeness and vowing never to try it again. It arrived at the table inside a real egg and atop a tall egg cup, which was very aesthetically pleasing for the final course of the afternoon. I quickly realised that, yet again, my food prejudices would be thrown out of the restaurant window when I took my first spoonful of what can only be described as a truly orgasmic dessert. It was absolutely wonderful – a luxurious texture and creamy, moreish taste - and even now I am desperate to return to Purnell’s for another serving. Lloyd informed the waitress that it was the best dessert that he has ever tasted and I, for one, know that is a huge compliment. In fact, when reflecting on the entire menu, Lloyd commented that he has eaten at three star Michelin restaurants where he not been presented with such amazing food. Lunch at Purnell’s, he declared, trumps these other restaurants by a long shot.
The wines and digestifs also measured up to Lloyd’s overly critical palate and his selections are below:
Michel Arnould, Grand Cru Brut
Jordan Estate, Chenin Blanc 2007
Château Cissac, Grand Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel 1989
404.Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, Riesling Icewine, Niagara
Peninsula, Ontario 1998
Taylors, 30 year old Tawny
Chateaux Laubade 1964 Armagnac
I cannot compliment Glynn Purnell and his team enough on our culinary experience at Purnell’s on Friday afternoon. It was a fantastic experience on so many levels; the ambience of the restaurant, the friendliness of the staff, the quality of the wine list and the presentation and sheer gastronomic extravaganza of the food. The taster menu is highly recommended and the portions are just right; large enough to constitute a sizable portion and as filling as a large meal in its entirety, but without the queasy bloatedness that I often feel when finishing a large meal. Perfection. We both left satisfied and elated and desperately planning an excuse to book again in the near future. If I have one criticism it is that my palate has now been irreparably spoiled and I may never eat plain food again!