Saturday, 31 March 2012

The British Method (over reacting to nothing)

Everyone thinks the Japanese are weird, and when  I was in Japan I commented on some of the quirks that I came across. Now I am going to treat the UK exactly the same, some bizarre behaviours and downright stupidity that we experience as a nation on an almost weekly basis, usually ending in a load of fuss over nothing.

1. This Oil panic.
A completely pointless incident whereby a load of people caused an oil shortage due to some bad advice from the government and severe lack of common sense. So what happened? The drivers who deliver the oil, and lets be very specific here "threatened" to strike over Easter weekend. Firstly, it was only a threat, secondly they would require seven days notice before any said strike could take place. Ample time to prepare for said event and buy petrol. But this is what happened next:

Cameron/Tories say: Fill up your half full tank now!
Mass panic ensues, queues at petrol stations, demand rises 175%, pumps run dry.
Then this happened: Woman burns herself with Petrol
After, politicians said "we didn't cause a panic" - Yes you did...

And finally after all that the union says it won't strike during easter anyway. Outstanding. The only people I know who were affected by this whole set shenanigans were my friends who actually have to drive places, who didn't panic and then were unable to top up when they actually needed to.

Yes please
Well, sure, I mean this isn't the same thing... oh what the hell its beer!

2. 'PastyGate' and naming every scandal a 'Gate'

Topical item number 2. Everyone got all upset this week over Cameron adding tax to a hot pasty or a cold one. I'm confused but I don't care. Everyone got mad, Cameron claimed to have eaten a pasty where the shop no longer exists. The papers started referring to it as "Pastygate"... because every scandal is now "....gate". It is idiotic and unoriginal and displays how lazy the media is.
Quote of the week for this incident:
"That put the Jaffa Cake into limbo land and that's what the government's done with the pasty. They've put the pasty into limbo land. People aren't going to be happy about that."

3. Man Puts Up Sign Asking Children Be Quiet, Everyone Gets Offended

The killjoy. Almost all sides mentioned in this article are at fault. Firstly the guy getting upset over the noise (during the day I might add) is nonsensical. I would suggest he drinks some more tea and enjoys life a bit. The second person to blame is the article. She apparently speaks for all the parents of the children and the school and states she found it threatening and bullying and goes on to say "I was so upset on behalf of the staff and the children". Thats an awful lot of upset to be for a lot of people over one grumpy old man. To feel threatened/bullied by a sign that says "Please do not scream or shout loudly". Do stop signs also upset her? Slippery floor? A trip with her must be hilariously awkward as she becomes scared at any sign of a polite request.
Perhaps it was the size of the sign? Anyway the whole article probably only became a news story because he happens to have "once been a tv presenter" who I've never heard of, this article should have been called "Grumpy old man inspires hilarious over reactions".

What would she make of this sign?
These aren't even isolated incidents, are news is full of minor incidents that somehow everyone gets upset about. Next time let's all abide by that (non)classic british sentiment "Keep Calm and Carry On"

Or you know just riot for no reason. All this has made me two steps closer to buying a boat. Peace.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Bristol Legacies (or why I love my city)

Well you know I love my city, (hence putting it at top five places to live in a top ten I wrote a while back) anyway here are some things that come from or make Bristol what it is. You might not find these on a more mainstream list.

Herberts Bakery/The Breadstore/Fanstastic Sandwich
Although I grew up at first in Kingsdown I grew up on Herberts bread. My parents with lack of a closer bakery would drive to Herberts and collect bread from here. It is forever ingrained as a mecca of bread production. Whenever I walk past Herberts there is an unmistakeable smell of excellence, an no doubt ask anyone in Montpelier and you'd get the same result. It is probably largely to blame for my bread snobbishness and disdain for supermarket bread. Now living closer to the Breadstore, this has become my bakery of choice. Another outpost of excellence, particuarly great when drinking late on a friday night as you fall out of the nearby pubs you can try your luck with some freshly made produce as they get ready for the Saturday morning rush.To complete the trio of bakery related products we finish with Fantastic Sandwich. Hidden away on a side street of Gloucester Road is a sandwich shop that uses Breadstore bread to create excellent sandwiches and baguettes. It only opens until about 2pm and this is usually because it has ran out of ingredients. My usual sandwich is a Thai Sweet Chilli Crab Baguette but it has a massive range, none of which will disappoint.
Herberts in its Glory

Gloucester Road Pubs
Obviously this has to make an appearance on any list of Bristol's best attributes. Usually it gets thrown in here because of accolades relating to its independent stores and the fact its still a vibrant high street. But for this list I will talk about its pubs. In a space of just over 1 Mile on this stretch of road are at least 15 pubs or drinking establishments. This I know for a fact, on one fateful evening we once pub crawled to all of them. It did not end well. The start of this misadventure is the rather nice Baths Ales pub called the Wellington, which does fancy but nice pub food. Moving down the road we will skip most as they aren't all worth mentioning. Halo is a nice bar/restaurant that offers cosy dining for relatively cheap, it also helps that I use to live above it. Opposite that we have what is basically a student pub that has recently undergone a revamp being re-dubbed "The Cider Press", next to that we have the more upmarket 'Flyer'. Towards the bottom of the road we get to Music Cafe The Prom and next to that the Blue Lagoon. Both make for good afternoon drinking spots especially in the sun. Lastly we have the Prince of Wales which is a proper pub, serving classic ales and Cider with a nice enclosed Garden at the back. It is also known for having a rather large lovable dog from time to time. It does however get a little too crowded almost every day of the week. So there are my favourite locals...

The Apple
Affectionately known (by me) as 'The Cider Boat'. It is a boat that specialises in Cider. What else do I need to tell you? All you need to know has already been covered; "Cider" and "Boat", nuff' said.

Smerins Anti-Social Club
One of my favourite local bands, always smash it. BBC Music describes them as a '9 piece funk-dub-spacerock band from Bristol' which I guess is pretty apt, I'd throw in some Ska/swing too though. They don't play that often but when they do it is a treat not to be missed. Here is a small clip of them playing at Womad:

They also do a version of the Dr Who theme dubbed up (which can be heard in this clip aswell). Check it here. Some other amazing local bands to check out include Goan Dogs(happen to be friends of mine) they play something called "Desert Rock", Dr Meaker, a live dnb/dubstep outfit and plenty more to check out. The point here is that Bristol has some of the best music around and there never is a shortage of talent. It continuously gets this praise and as I know nothing of music thats me for now.

St Andrews Park
You may have noticed by now how Gloucester road centric these places mostly are. This is because it is the best place in Bristol. When summer comes round the best place to be in, is the park. Despite the bad side of the hordes of retard crusties doing stupid amounts of Noz it is a splendid place to spend the afternoon having BBQs and drinking beer in the sun.
St Andrew Park in the sun
Quirky Venues
Time to branch out an head further afield than my local territory of Glos Road. First up we have The Cube. The Cube is a local, independent volunteer run cinema which also occasionally has small gigs. It mostly screens small, independent or foreign films. It also has a bar which sells organic brews which is an added plus. Next up we have The Lanes, this is retro 50s themed bowling alley/bar/club. Exactly what it sounds like, get drunk and go bowling. This has led to some hilarious incidents that I'm pretty sure Katie doesn't want me to repeat on the internet. Either way it is a pretty cool venue. Moving on we have another boat, Thekla. Quite the Bristol institution I like it because it is a boat. It is bar and club that is a docked near to King Street and the Apple. Although there are numerous more venues an places to mention, I will finish this section with my favourite cafe, which isn't exactly quirky, though the seats made of tyres use to be... yes it's Boston Tea Party on Park Street. The white hot chocolate is my staple beverage and the HUGE sandwiches are pretty good for a lunch as well. The upstairs is too crowded for my liking but the garden is spacious and enclosed. Honourable mentions go to The Cider House, The Corrie Tap, Lloyds Amphitheatre(for views, gigs and skating) Motion(cause everyone whose been says it's amazing and I really want to go and yet still haven't made it) and of course Ashton Court.
Thekla on the Left

Lloyds in Winter
Places I go regularly to eat or places that I go not so often but are amazing. Once again we may get a Glos Road theme but I also go further afield for food. My favourite Italian is Rocco's, located next to the new Sainsburys it is a tiny family run restaurant with a proper atmosphere, good food and service. It is in my mind exactly what a small restaurant should feel like; slightly cramped but warm and welcoming. My next restaurant up is Tai Pan. Practically across the road from Rocco's for the first half of my Thai time I preferred the food here, the Pad Thai is excellent and the Prawn Crackers are also fantastic. The next winner is the Lal Jomi in Redland. My favourite curry house by a mile, always order too much food and never disappointed. A proper curry experience. Next up we have a place I've only been once but it was amazing. This is Culinaria on Chandos road. It is only open 3 days a week and serves incredible food. Might not be the biggest portions (thats not the kind of food) but everything else makes up for that. Honourable mention time, Casa Mexicana, Zero Degrees(for its bizarre and sometimes not good pizzas but redeemed by the Mussels) and Water Sky (best chinese food around).
Everything Else
Other things that are fantastic to do are walk around the docks at any time. You can see in some of my photos how great it looks in the sun and at night. The harbourside festival takes advantage of this too. Another highlight I like in Bristol is the amount of (good) Graffiti. This can be hard to find or very obvious, for instance the famous Banksys etc. Clifton Suspension Bridge is off course a Bristol Icon, viewing this from the Cumberland Basin and around is one of my favourite sights, either on the train or from the causeway as I return from adventures in the South West. Just over the bridge we have Ashton Court which has already been briefly mentioned, a great day trip for a picnic or the newly relocated Brisfest.  One could go to bath, but bath is boring so don't bother. Head the other way to Somerset for some nice country pubs, farmers, the Mendips and Cider.
Dat Bridge

Well that's the end, no doubt I've missed off a load of awesome things but you go find them yourself.