Saturday, 18 January 2014


Photobombing - what's that all about?

Photobombing is the act of inserting oneself into the field of view of a photograph, often in order to play a practical joke on the photographer or the subjects by intentionally posing in other people's photos, for a later surprise. 
Usually people making funny faces in the background, without the knowledge of the main subjects of the photo. Photobombing has received significant coverage since 2008. In May 2008, the earliest known Urban Dictionary definition of “photobombing” was submitted by user U8IK, which was later highlighted as the Urban Word of the Day the next month. Three days later, the Flickr group Photobombers was launched for people to share their own photobomb exploits online. In the following years, similar definitions for “photobomb” and “photobombers” followed and the same word was featured again as the Urban Word of the Day in 2009 and then 2012.
Photobombing gets global exposure, mainly due to the ease of dissemination afforded by the internet, and the abundance of snapshots by smartphone cameras and other hand-held devices. A number of websites include sections on them, or are entirely devoted to photobombs.

Cock and Hoop
25-27 High Pavement 
Tel: 0115 852 3231

Saturday, 14 December 2013


Antonio De Curtis b: 15/02/1898, known as Totò - nicknamed Il Principe della Risata ("the Prince of Laughter"), was an Italian comedian, film and theatre actor, writer, singer and songwriter. He is widely considered one of the greatest Italian artists of the 20thC. While he first gained his popularity as a comic actor, his dramatic roles, his poetry, and his songs are all deemed to be outstanding; his style and a number of his recurring jokes and gestures have become universally known memes in Italy. Prominent Italian directors and actors that have worked with Totò include Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Marcello Mastroianni. 

As a comic actor, Totò is classified as an heir of the Commedia dell'Arte tradition, and has been compared to such figures as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. He starred in about 100 films; while many of them were low profile, box-office driven productions, they tend to be all appreciated by the critics, at the very least, for Totò's performances.

He learned the art of the guitti, the Neapolitan scriptless comedians, stemming from the tradition of the Commedia dell'Arte, and began developing the trademarks of his style, including a puppet-like, disjointed gesticulation, emphasised facial expressions, and an extreme, sometimes surrealistic, sense of humour, largely based on exaggeration of primitive urges such as hunger and sexual desire. 

Totò died at the age of 69 in April 1967 in Rome, after a series of heart attacks. Even in death he was unique—due to overwhelming popular request there were three funeral services: the first in Rome, a second in his birth city Naples—and a few days later, in a third one by the local Camorra boss, an empty casket was carried along the packed streets of the popular Rione Sanità quarter in the north of Naples where he was born. Totò's birth home has been recently opened to the public as a museum, and his tombstone is frequently visited by fans, some of whom pray to him for help, as if he were a saint.

His comic features figure everywhere in Naples - from restaurant signage to postcards and the scores of souvenir stalls throughout the via Croce B. and San Lorenzo Maggiore areas of the Historic Centre. 

Babette Bar and Birreria
via Raffaele Caravaglios, 27
Fuorigrotta, 80125
Tel: 081 2399212

Thursday, 12 December 2013


Limoncello - what's that all about, then?

Limoncello is the Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in the region around the Gulf of Naples, the Sorrentine Peninsula and the coast of Amalfi. 

Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello St Teresa lemons, also known as Sorrento lemons or Sfusato lemons. This lemon variety is so particularly sweet that locals eat thick slices of the fruit, skin and all, with, perhaps, just a dusting of sugar. To make limoncello, lemon zest, or peels without the pith, are steeped in grain alcohol until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Clarity and viscosity are affected by factors like the relative temperatures of the two liquids. Opaque limoncellos are the result of spontaneous emulsification, otherwise known as the Ouzo Effect, of the sugar syrup and extracted lemon oils. Limoncello imparts a strong lemon flavour without the sourness or bitterness of lemon juice. 

Italy is the world's largest producer of lemons so, naturally, Italians have developed a way to use the plentiful fruit. Citrus trees dot the landscape throughout Italy but along the Amalfi Coast you will find lemon trees growing in abundance.

As in all of Italy, growing and producing agricultural-based products follows strict guidelines to ensure integrity of the end product. Methods of cultivation are region specific and the lemons from the Sorrentine Peninsula and the island of Capri follow the rules for the Limone di Sorrento IGP (Protected Geographic Indication) resulting in, most arguably, the best limoncello. It has only been in the last century that limoncello has been commercially produced.

Bar del Carmine
Piazza Tasso (Torquato), 38, 80067
Tel +39 081 8072889

Monday, 2 December 2013


Christmas is coming! My mum used to love this time of the year - for as she used to say it was the only time she got to strangle a turkey!
Ever wondered how to prepare your Christmas turkey? Here is all the stuff you need in this infographic...

A Visual Guide to Roasting Your First Turkey

by Column Five Media.

Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Bell Inn
18 Angel Row

Friday, 15 November 2013


Saturday night TV...
There was a time that the schedule for Saturday night telly (1976) had a peak viewing audience of 20m+, engrossed by the entertainment on BBC1, starting as always with the football results at 5pm on Grandstand and then straight through to the wee hours with: 
Tom and Jerry,
The Basil Brush Show, Boom! Boom!
Doctor Who,
The Generation Game, Good game, good game!
The Duchess of Duke Street,
The Two Ronnies,
Starsky and Hutch, (Can never remember which one was which?)
Match of the Day (pre-Gary Lineker!) and

All in one night!
ITV didn't get a look in...
And who can forget the 1977 Christmas Morecambe and Wise Show  that attracted 28.5m viewers?
Nearly 40yrs on what have we got now? On ITV you have wannabee karoake singers, telling us their journey with more tears, sobbing and emoting you can shake a stick at. People who frankly I've never heard of eating all manner of Australian hemipterans and bugs - supposedly in the name of entertainment. Why bring the bug-eaters back, anyway? And if you're really unlucky there's Piers Morgan! Cue the open window of a second floor flat and one moment of pain, perhaps?  
At least the BBC have tried to go back to the golden age of 1970s TV with SCD - with Sir Brucie!

The 4th Saltburn Beer Festival
Saltburn Arts and Community Centre
Albion Terrace
North Yorkshire TS12 1JW
Tel: 01287 624997


Friday, 18 October 2013


The Great British Bake Off - what's that all about? Over 6m viewers are tuning into the BBC2 weekly bakefest...

The GBBO semi-finals were an emotional and teary affair, with only Mel and Sue's mini operettas and a Hollywood Handshake (a rare thing) to temper the heightened emotions in the baker's tent.
As the bun fight began, everyone's eyes were on habitually under-confident student baker Ruby Tandoh, and the programmes's judge Paul Hollywood (he's a Scouse baker for Heaven's sake!) - who have both been teased on social media this week for their apparent flirting on the show. Quite right too - this isn't Take Me Out

But as the competition went on it became clear that this time, Ruby's concern that her baking wasn't up to much may have had some truth to it and no amount of pouting could convince Hollywood and his co-judge Halle Berry to let her off lightly this time. I blame hand temperature - can't be easy keepng your hands cold during all that baking!
She was in luck, though. Despite her canapės not being as full or as domed as Paul would have liked, her classic French pudding Charlotte Royale (I think she was in my class at school?) resembling 'gooey brains' and her Opera Cake full of 'issues', Ruby narrowly managed to avoid the elbow.

Co-judge Halle Berry

Instead, lovely Welsh baker - and military wife - Beca was sent packing, after Paul and co-judge Halle Berry found her synthetic banana-flavoured opera cake lacked musicality. The Scouse baker harshly scoffed: “It’s not banana, it’s artificial banana. And it’s a gravelly banana. It’s quite grainy” (whatever that means?) Viewers' response was divided, with many claiming that keeping Ruby (3x Star Baker) in the competition was the wrong decision after the Charlotte Royale dėbâcle. In another highlight of the show, style-over-substance baker Frances finally shed her epithet, as her flavours earned her nothing less than a Hollywood handshake.

Speaking to student newspaper The Tab earlier this week, Ruby denied any chemistry between herself and the Scouse baker (glad to hear it), but admitted he's not as harsh off camera. She said: "He has to play the bad cop on screen, but off screen he’s lovely."
Ruby and Frances join psychologist Kimberley (who clearly did not enjoy Paul's 'constructive criticism' at this stage in the proceedings) for the show's final. Rolling pins at dawn...

Dr Phil's Real Ale House
10 Pilkington Buildings
Roman Road




Friday, 6 September 2013


1. Everbody knows one! A Drama Queen! - that is someone who turns something unimportant into a major deal; who blows things way out of proportion whenever the chance is given. Someone who angsts about the littlest things, the most unlikely possibilities, and then freaks out about the most ridiculously insignficant matters.
Anyone who so much as gives a Drama Queen the time of day is in for an endless session of hearing any meaningless issue or piece of crap - and if you truly value your sanity then avoid these psychic vampires like the plague or you'll never have a minute's peace. And why do they do it?
Well they:-
a) Want to seek attention.
b) Have some emotional dynsfunction and personality disorder and it's their duty to make life harder for everyone around them.
c) Just simply can't get over it.

These people need to realise that nobody cares about their episodes, tantrums or what they have to say - life is hard enough without all the added dramatics on top. You may feel you need to stir up stuff between other people in an effort to be the centre of attention, but we don't need it.
Making a mountain out of a molehill is an idiom referring to over-reactive, histrionic behaviour where a person makes too much of a minor issue. It seems to have come into existence in the 16thC. The idiom is a metaphor for the common behaviour of responding disproportionately to something - usually an adverse circumstance. One who "makes a mountain out of a molehill" is said to be greatly exaggerating the severity of the situation. In cognitive psychology, this form of distortion is called magnification. The term is also used to refer to one who has dwelt on a situation that has long passed and is therefore no longer significant.
2. Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive emotions and attention-seeking, including inappropriately seductive behaviour and an excessive need for approval, usually beginning in early adulthood. People affected by HPD are lively, dramatic, vivacious, enthusiastic, and flirtatious. HPD affects 4x as many women as men. It has a prevalence of 2–3% in the general population, and 10–15% in inpatient and outpatient mental health institutions.

HPD lies in the dramatic cluster of personality disorders. People with HPD have a high need for attention, make loud and inappropriate appearances, exaggerate their behaviours and emotions, and crave stimulation. They may exhibit sexually provocative, inappropriate behaviour, express strong emotions with an impressionistic style, and can be easily influenced by others. Associated features include egocentrism, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, and persistent manipulative behaviour to achieve their own needs.
Lloyds No.1 Bar
1 Carlton Street
Tel: 0115 988 1660

Friday, 30 August 2013


Parmos... What is the attraction with this foodstuff on Teesside? For those that don't know - and you are the lucky ones - a parmo is a congealed assembly of chicken fillet and cheese sauce with golden breadcrumbs glowing in an oily coat - in fact so much oil you risk a US military invasion right there on your plate! Sounds disgusting? Tastes worse!
Parmos are the first thing that come to mind when people think of Middlesbrough - that and Middlesbrough FC, the Transporter Bridge, Smoggies and unpaid hospital staff...
From whence does this calorific culinary creation come? Well you might ask, so here is everything you never wanted to know about Teesside’s beloved parmo.
You won’t hear many Teessiders ask the question - where does the parmo come from? - for having grown up with parmos, the flattened meat dish is more ingrained on their psyche. But for the uninitiated, the parmo offers a new(ish) experience.
Like chicken? Like cheese? Then you’ll be a suitable victim for the deep-fried deliciousness of the parmo. Traditionally, the parmo consists of a flattened chicken breast, pork or veal - which has had the crap beaten out of it - and which is then dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and deep-fried. It’s next covered in a béchamel sauce and finally topped with cheese, typically cheddar cheese, which is then melted under the grill.
To many outsiders, it seems like a strange delicacy for a northern town to own. But after all, it was most probably an outsider who originally brought it to Middlesbrough. Like many of the best inventions, the exact origins of the parmo have been the subject of many a debate. It is closely linked to the Parmigiana from Italy, which involves covering meat or aubergine in cheese and tomato.
One story goes that it was created by former soldier Nicos Harris in 1958, at The American Grill restaurant he owned on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough. Other claims go to various restaurateurs around the town. After all, what better publicity in Boro than to have invented Teesside’s most famous dish?
Dishes, of course, always change as people look to put their own stamp on them and the parmo is no exception. These days you’re far more likely to find cheddar on top rather than the traditional Parmesan formaggio.
But you’re far better off getting the real deal from Boro town centre after a night out. It’ll usually come with some chips riding shotgun on a side plate and of course a bit of salad with garlic sauce – which is tossed on the pavement outside the takeaway, called a parmo house, in the traditional manner.
And there is the annual Parmo World Championships, of course. And rather like baseball's world series, it’s not exactly a global affair, with few entries coming from other continents. Or even counties, for that matter. In fact the entrants may be limited to those far-flung areas of the globe such as Billingham...or South Bank. The annual competition took place earlier this week as part of  Stockton-on-Tees' Summer Fair.


Dr Phil's Real Ale House
10 Pilkington Buildings
Roman Road


Friday, 16 August 2013


They're everywhere - and chances are you will hear one before actually catching sight of it. Early in the morning - before the traffic builds up - you are never far away from one of Rome's most quintessential sounds - which is the gentle splash and gurgle of water. Rome certainly has a love affair for its fontane and it's believed that there is a fountain in the capital city for almost every day of the year...  that's not including the many nasoni (literally meaning 'big noses' because of the shape of their spout - and which are the more modest public fountains). Rome’s water system was one of the wonders of the world, and to a certain extent, it still is. 
In fact, you can find over 2000 nasoni (public fountains) in Rome. While many don’t realise it, these fountains contain clean water that is perfectly safe to drink. The exact same water that comes out of the taps of Rome’s houses, so if you’re touring the Eternal City on a hot summer’s day there is no reason to buy bottled water just stop off at a fountain! The first nasone was created in 1874 - and initially only 20 of these fountains could be found in the city.
Fontana delle Api (Fountain of the Bees) -
at Piazza Barberini - built in 1644

All the decorative fountains have been rebuilt over the centuries as have the three aqueducts* that source them, and the Roman water system uses both gravity and mechanical pumps. Water is recycled and water from different aqueducts is sometimes mixed before it reaches the fountains and performs for the spectators. Every piazza has its fontana - and they can be monumental in design and display. Features include nymphs, tritons, dolphins, Roman Gods - the list goes on. No other city has the sight and sound of cascading water as its backdrop.
*Acqua Vergine, Acqua Paola and the Acqua Felice.


Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fà
Via di Benedetta 25 - zona Trastevere
00153 ROME
Tel: +39 06 6456 2046




Saturday, 3 August 2013


"Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity" - Capt. James T Kirk - captain of the starship USS Enterprise (b 2233 - d 2287).

Fracking - what's all that about?

Hydraulic fracturing is the fracturing of rock by a pressurised liquid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally - certain veins or dykes are examples. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, commonly known as fracking, is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures (typically less than 1mm), along which fluids such as gas, petroleum and brine water may migrate to the well. The radial distance of influence of the process from the well bore is typically 150yds. Hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, then small grains of proppant (sand or aluminium oxide) hold these fractures open once the rock achieves equilibrium. The technique is very common in wells for shale gas, tight gas, tight oil, and coal seam gas and hard rock wells. The first experimental use of fracking was in 1947, and the first commercially successful applications were in 1949. As of 2010, it was estimated that 60% of all new oil and gas wells worldwide were being hydraulically fractured. Opponents of fracking point to potential environmental impacts, including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flow-back, and the health effects of these.
For these reasons fracking has come under international scrutiny, with some countries suspending or banning it altogether. Last week in a Lords' discussion on fracking, Baron Howell of Guildford said "there are large, uninhabited and desolate areas, certainly in parts of the north-east, where there is plenty of room for fracking, well away from anybody’s residence, and where it could be conducted without any threat to the rural environment". After much adverse reaction he apologised, and said he was thinking of drilling off the Lancashire coast, not the north-east - (it's a mistake anyone could make!). He went on to say he wanted the derricks in "unloved places that are not environmentally sensitive" - Bolton* comes to mind.
Seemingly what he meant was there was plenty of land for fracking without it impacting on highly populated areas. What he said came out as an insult to the residents and good people of one of the most breathtakingly beautiful parts of our country. Two days of uproar and one apology later, Baron Howell of Guilford compounded the blunder by explaining his “stupid error” was saying the North-east when he meant the North-west.
What a Silly Billy! - as Baron Howell's political opponent Denis Healey would say... Stupid fracker in my opinion! 
*Bolton, in Lancashire, was spared the heavy bombing that many similar industrial areas of Britain were subjected to during WWII. However Punch Street and Ardwick Street received bombing hits in an air raid in October 1941 - where almost £30 of damage was caused.

Georgia Browns
22 Dovecot Street
TS18 1LH
Tel: 01740 656264

13/09/2013 - we have updated the blog post to include this infographic - Fracking explained.

by Philipp Dettmer.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


Now I like classical music and I love cricket! Listening to Test Match Special (TMS) - Aggers, Blowers, Boycs and all - is truly one of the sounds of an English summer - especially with this weather...
And tuning into Katherine Jenkins - Sunday evenings on Classic FM - will invariably see me reaching for the knob. But classical music and cricket together?
England narrowly won the First Test against Australia (14 runs) despite the absence of their greatest cheerleader, Billy The Trumpet Cooper. Billy, an orchestra professional, was banned by the ground authorities in Nottingham, due to a long-standing ban on musical instruments. And Lord's – the headquarters of cricket – announced that it will permit no music at all in the Second Test, which started the day before yesterday, except for the two national anthems at start of play.

How do they expect cricketers and fans to get in the groove without music to cheer them on?

General Ground Regulations - from Lord's website
It’s very sad – one of the great things about cricket in the Caribbean, for example, is the music you get in the crowd. It adds atmosphere and far from distracting the players, probably inspires and encourages them. Shame on Lord's and Trent Bridge. In fact, music has never been allowed at Lord’s! I’d rather listen to Billy playing his trumpet than the mindless junk many cricket (and rugby) venues play through their loudspeaker systems when there is the slightest pause in the games. It’s as though they think nobody can tolerate a moment’s silence!
Billy at the WACA
Billy is truly the embodiment of English eccentricity. He belongs to a boisterous ragtag band of sports fans called the Barmy Army. They're considered "barmy" for very good reason: These people follow England's national cricket team - and spending their hard-earned to boot - everywhere.

They travel all over the world, sitting through rain and sweltering sunshine, watching games that can last up to five days, cheering and chanting lustily, even when defeat is certain - in fact, sometimes inevitable.

As his nickname suggests, Billy Cooper is a fine trumpeter. Ten years or so ago, Billy started showing up for cricket matches with his instrument. 

His heartfelt renderings from within the crowd of the Blackadder theme, "YMCA" and — when England are about to lose — "The Last Post" — soon made him famous. Billy's trumpet became one of the signature sounds of the English summer, along with the whack of croquet mallets, whining lawn mowers and Jonathan Agnew on TMS.
But no Billy at Lord's? - it sucks!

The Butter Cross
Market Place
NG13 8AP
Tel: 01949 863100


Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Soaring temperatures are expected to reach over 30ºC this weekend but grumpy Britons have taken to Twitter to complain about the hot weather...


The social media site has been flooded with comments criticising the July heatwave, complaining that it is ‘not British’ or ‘natural’ to have such a hot summer.

Temperatures are set to rise even further this weekend, angering a number of Britons who were unprepared for the heatwave - which is the longest since 2006.
Others moaned that it was stopping them from enjoying their summer activities such as shopping, or was even ruining their holiday plans.
Many took to Twitter to complain that the 'unacceptable' heat was stopping them from sleeping at night.
Men and women alike also complained that the sticky heat and humidity was ruining their hair.

The Market
95 New Square
S40 1AH
 Tel: (01246) 273641