Blog Archive

25 September 2007

The Staff of Life Inn, Mowsley, Lutterworth

Over weekend, we went to “Leicestershire’s best kept secret” for a meal to celebrate Suzy’s brother’s 21st birthday. According to the menu, The Staff of Life Inn has been awarded the title of Best Country Pub of the Year 2007 and has also featured in the Good Pub Guide for the past few years, so we obviously had high expectations...

Originally coming from near Bury in Lancashire, I love black pudding – the best are from Bury Market – and if a restaurant has it on the menu, usually as a starter, I have to order it. However, I also love scallops and sometimes have to choose between the two. So, imagine my joy to find a starter which included both of these; king scallops served on tarragon black pudding with plum and black bean sauce. (I know... putting fruit and meat together is completely wrong, but I’m warming to the idea when it’s in small quantities.) The presentation was impressive and the different tastes and textures went really well together. The scallops were a little bit overcooked for my liking and certainly not as big as the ones I cooked the other week, but overall everything was really tasty.

For main course, I selected the fillet of John Dory from the specials board, served with baby capers, spinach, Italian plum tomatoes and fresh anchovies. We also ordered a bacon and cheese potato gratin side dish. Again, presentation was good and the size of the perfectly cooked John Dory fillet certainly made up for the smaller-than-expected-slightly-overcooked scallops. All washed down with a South African Chenin Blanc from Orange St, I wasn’t really sure whether I would be able to manage a dessert.

After a bit of a breather, I was just about able to manage an individual chocolate orange cheesecake served with burnt orange sauce and a fancy twirly biscuit thing, hand crafted by Linda O’Neill, joint owner of The Staff of Life Inn and apparently a former member of the Irish panel of chefs. Mmmm!

I can’t really comment on value for money because Suzy’s parents treated us, but I seem to remember everything being quite reasonable considering the quality.

Lovely surroundings. Classy interior. Outstanding food. Excellent service.

Highly recommended!

Labels: , ,

20 September 2007

Live Music Roundup featuring Friends of Batman

Back in May, I saw The Maccabees at The Leadmill, supported by Jack Peñate and some other cool band. (I didn’t catch the name; these young bands need to learn how to speak clearly down a mic when they’re on stage.) In July, I saw Black Rebel Motorcycle Club there too. I’ve already posted about seeing Arctic Monkeys supported by Supergrass, The Coral, Amy Winehouse and The Parrots at Lancashire County Cricket Club. A week later, I went to see Sheffield band Little Man Tate perform their South Yorkshire Flood Benefit gig at The Plug in Sheffield – and they were excellent! Later that month, I saw The Kooks play their awesome V Festival warm-up gig at Doncaster Dome, supported by The Holloways and The Rivers.

Who could possibly follow so many fantastic acts? There’s quite simply only one band...

Friends of Batman

Friends of Batman: 27th Sept @ The Grapes, Sheffield

Chris went to see them last year and I was gutted that I couldn’t make it, so when this opportunity of going to their next gig came up, I jumped at the chance, even though it was in York!

The Friends of Batman MySpace profile says they play “ultra violent acoustic” but a review I read said it was “comedy folk”. The band consists of a vocalist/guitarist, a stylophonist, a thereminist and a kazooist. Who are they? Jim (Friend of Batman), Terrys Allgold, Thereman and Kazoo-man, of course!

Anyway, we travelled to York with their alter egos in the Batbus (which is like the Batmobile only with more seats) and watched them perform to a fantastic audience at the last Children for Breakfast at the City Screen Basement Bar. We were treated to a bit of ukulele by Thereman, a rap by MC Terrys Allgold and an original cover of Billy Idol’s classic 80s song about quitting cocaine and taking it up again, White Wedding. It was quite literally one of the most entertaining live sets I’ve ever seen in my life.

Friends of Batman are supporting The Ape-Drape Escape next Thursday, 27th September, 2007 at The Grapes, Sheffield. I suggest you get yourself down there to catch one of their rare appearances! (Check out the flyer for more details.)

And still to come: Editors, Ash, The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs

Labels: ,

6 September 2007

iPod touch is phat. iPod nano is fat.

I have to say that the iPod touch is one shiny new sexy gadget I’m going to have to try my hardest to resist. I got my 8GB second generation iPod nano less than a year ago and I’m really happy with it, so I can’t really justify spending £199 on another 8GB player. (I guess I’ll just have to spend £269 on the 16GB version instead...)

But that’s not what I wanted to rant about. This is what I wanted to rant about: iPod touch’s fat little brother...

iPod nano fatty

My iPod nano looks slim and sexy, but the screen is tiny and it can’t play video. Apple understandably had to do something about that, so they made this one a bit wider and shorter. And now it looks like the little fatty of the family!

So, with a bit of photoshopping, I given that fat little iPod nano a quick tummy tuck by moving the Click Wheel. People don’t need to see the Click Wheel in order to use it, so why not make the device smaller by moving it to the back? (There might need to be an option to flip the functionality of the Click Wheel though, as it should probably work the opposite way around with it being on the back, but some people inevitably wouldn’t be able to get the hang of it.)

iPod nano mockup (front)
iPod nano mockup (back)

Now doesn’t that look better? I’m no electronics expert, so I don’t know how difficult this would have been to put in to production, but Apple have proved in the past that virtually anything is possible when it comes to them cramming advanced technology into slick designs. I realise there are probably some issues with the physical size of batteries and memory chips, but they could probably have worked around that by making it a bit deeper.

Update: 7 September 2007 (13:46)
Thanks to the iFixit gang, we can see that it probably is just the battery size that would be a problem. If only I had a few hundred quid spare to buy a couple of these to tinker with... [via Gizmodo]

This design would be a neat first step towards the interface in Apple’s patent for Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devicesbrought to our attention by Unwired View earlier this year – which consists of an active touchpanel covering the entire reverse side of the iPod that can be used to control the device.

What do you think? Would you buy a fatso iPod nano? Would you buy one of these? Would you like to buy me a 16GB iPod touch?

[Original images from Apple.]

Labels: , ,

4 September 2007

Scallops and Steak on the Stone

As you may remember, I mentioned last month that I got a SteakStones set for my birthday. We used it a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been a little lazy with my blog posting lately. Anyway, better late than never, here are some pictures to get your taste buds going.

We decided to make the most of the stone and use it to cook both our starter and main course. In hindsight, this isn’t really recommended as you have to clean your stone in between and then reheat it in the oven really. But for a one off, the extra hassle was definitely worth it!

King Scallops in Chilli, Coriander and Lime

King Scallops in Chilli, Coriander and Lime

For starter, I placed six trimmed king scallops in a bowl containing one chopped red chilli, a bunch of freshly chopped coriander and the juice of one lime, and put them in the fridge for about an hour. After transferring the stone to the table and placing the scallops on the stone, I had to slice them in half so that they could cook evenly as they were quite deep ones. Once cooked, I served them on a bed of pak choi which I’d roughly chopped and fried in butter for a few seconds.

Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Noodles

Sirloin Steak with Mushrooms and Noodles

For main course, I pretty much followed the basic recipe for Oriental Sirloin Steak with Noodles from the SteakStones website. I added a sliced chilli and a couple of sliced spring onions to some rice stick noodles which I’d drizzled with a bit of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil. We’d got one of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference exotic mushroom selections containing Yellow Oyster, Hon Shimeji and Shiitake varities and fried those in a little butter and olive oil for a minute or two. For dipping sauces, I prepared a bit of Thai sweet chilli sauce, wasabi and soy sauce. Finally, we cooked two Taste the Difference trimmed sirloin steaks on the stone.

After all that, I would say that SteakStones are an excellent way to cook the perfect steak. I like my steaks rare, so it’s ideal because there’s virtually no way to over cook it. If you prefer your steaks well done, you’d probably need to slice your steak and cook each piece individually though.

The only problem was that we only had one stone, so it meant we had to share and practically eat each course in two parts. Of course, that’ll soon be resolved when we buy another one...

Labels: ,

Evidence of GDrive in Google Apps

Rumors of an online storage solution from Google have been circulating for years. These rumors became stronger in July last year when references to Platypus and GDrive were accidentally made available on the domain. A few months later, Google’s internal Platypus client was leaked and people started to question whether GDrive would ever be made available publicly – especially when it was suggested recently that the GDrive release may have been delayed or canceled.

Earlier today, I stumbled across some more evidence which may further support rumors that GDrive will be made available publicly, possibly as part of Google Apps, though it could just mean that Google uses GDrive internally as part of Google Apps.

Anyone familiar with my previous Google-digging will know that I try to keep track of Google service names used by both Google Accounts and Google Apps. By changing query string parameters on various pages, it’s possible to get a glimpse into what Google might be working on. Many of the service code names I’ve discovered in the past have been released several months or years later, while others are still unreleased or remain to be a complete mystery.

What I discovered today was that Google Apps accounts allow you to change the query string parameter on the page where you can disable services. By changing the “service” parameter, I was given the option to disable GDrive on my account (even though it wasn’t currently enabled):

For anyone with their own Google Apps domain, you can try the following URL after replacing “” with your own domain and signing in:

(Note: This also works for YouTube – service=youtube – and Google Video – service=videoonline – even though those services aren’t readily available to Google Apps accounts.)

In May this year, after being redirected from and prompted to sign in to a service called WWW10, I asked on my blog, “What is Google WWW10?” Upon further inspection, visiting tries to set the following cookie in the 302 response header:

PlatypusData=EXPIRED;Path=/;Expires=Mon, 01-Jan-1990 00:00:00 GMT

So what does this mean exactly? I guess it means that the mysterious WWW10 service is likely to be GDrive or Platypus and that it’s possibly going to be available to Google Apps users. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Google uses Google Apps themselves, so it’s also possible that GDrive is only enabled for the Google Apps account and is only meant to be used internally.

Of course, it could also mean that we’re one more step closer to GDrive being released to everyone...

Update: It seems that no longer tries to set this cookie or redirect to the WWW10 login page. Is Google trying to hide something? [Thanks Luka!]

Update 2: And now Google has disabled the “DisableService” page for all services that you can’t yet add to your Google Apps account – which includes ah, cf, fensi, jotspot, sitemaps, videoonline, voice, www10 and youtube. The “DisableService” page does, however, still appear for the other services even if you have not yet added them to your account.

Labels: ,

3 September 2007

Jotspot Coming to Google Apps as Google Wiki?

Since acquiring Jotspot last October, Google has been busy working on integrating the wiki service into its infrastructure.

In April this year, Jotspot’s help and support pages moved to Google and a few months later Dave Girouard mentioned that JotSpot would be added to Google Apps.

Martin Porcheron, a regular Google Blogoscoped forum member, noticed yesterday that “jotspot” is now a Google Apps service code name. Furthermore, anyone with a domain hosted with Google Apps who isn’t using custom logos will see a “Google Wiki” logo when trying to login to the service. (The login page currently returns a “Service not available” message which is normal for services that haven’t yet been activated in your Google Apps account.) A link to “” is also shown. This address doesn’t currently resolve but it could suggest that Jotspot may have been moved to use the same underlying technology as Google Page Creator.

Google Operating System expects Google’s version of Jotspot – which will probably be re-branded as Google Wiki – to be officially announced at the Office 2.0 Conference in San Francisco next week. Also, as Google OS adds, “This conference seems the perfect place for launching the much-anticipated presentation app.”

[Thanks Martin and Ionut!]

Update: The login page now returns a “Bad Request” message, although the Google Wiki logo is still available for now. It is, however, still possible to view the DisableService page if you sign in to your own Google Apps domain.

Update 2: The “DisableService” page has now been disabled.

Labels: ,