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

Saturday, 13 July 2013


The curse of the Jules Rimet trophy...

Difficult to believe now. Nearly 50 years ago. 

The news that gripped the media. An expectant sporting nation, ready to host its first global football tournament in a few months time, held its breath. The World Cup had been stolen!
In March 1966, Westminster Central Hall staged an exhibition of rare postage stamps. What the philately is the deal with stamps, anyway? Both my older brothers were into this kind of thing but I couldn’t see the point then and nothing has changed in the intervening years. But I digress...

As part of the exhibition, the original, iconic World Cup trophy (Jules Rimet Trophy to give it its proper name) was to be displayed for the 3 or four days exhibition duration. Preceding the tournament it was kept under tight security at FA HQ in Lancaster Gate. Stanley Gibbons has a lot to answer for! True, the trophy was a major attraction and it was donated to the exhibition on the understanding it would be under constant guard at all times. It seems that no-one told the two uniformed and two plainclothes officers that!
You can guess what happened - in an unguarded moment the display cabinet had been forced open and the trophy taken. It was discovered missing around noon on the Sunday; earlier that morning a Methodist service had taken place in the Hall. No Methodists were suspects, however. The trophy was insured for £30,000; but melted down was worth no more than £3000.

Officers interviewed the guards and two maintenance workers. One of the churchgoers had also noticed a man and gave a different description. The story went public across the world over the next day. Police had begun to look for two potential suspects but the description the newspapers gave did not correspond to the either one of the men the witnesses had seen.

Cue the Flying Squad – no Regan and Carter in those days! The following day Joe Mears, the Chairman of the Football Association and Chelsea FC, received an anonymous 'phone call. The unknown man said that he would receive a parcel at Chelsea Football Club the next day. The parcel was delivered to Mears' home. It contained the removable lining from the top of the trophy and a ransom note that demanded £15,000 in £1 and £5 notes. The letter stated that FA should place a coded ad in the Personals Column of The Evening News. If they would follow the further instructions, they could get the trophy back by Friday. A ransom demand for £15,000! A mysterious clue sent to Joe Mears, chairman at the FA! The thick plottens!
One individual, Edward Betchley was accused of the theft (he claimed to be an intermediary and stated he had been paid £500 for this) and was charged for attempting to blackmail Joe Mears into paying the £15,000 ransom for the return of the nine-inch solid gold statue. Betchley claimed that someone he knew only as "The Pole" had offered him £500 to act as a middleman. Betchley was known to the police as a petty thief and used car dealer (aren’t they the same thing?). He wasn’t prosecuted for the theft but served two years for blackmail and soon after his release died of emphysema.

A week later, Mr Corbett and his Jack Russell* dog, Pickles, were walking in the Beulah Hill area of south east London. Pickles started to sniff and scratch at a parcel that was lying under the hedge of Mr Corbett's house. It was wrapped in an old newspaper, tied with string. When he opened the parcel, Corbett recognized the trophy – it included the winner's names on the plinth – a dead giveaway! He handed the parcel to the police at the Gypsy Hill police station.

Hurrah! My doggy hero! We were right in the Branston, Pickles...and no mistake!

Pickles reward? A grateful nation certainly! Pickles was invited to the celebration banquet after England’s World Cup success and was allowed to lick the plates clean! You couldn’t make this up, could you? Admittedly his owner copped a £6,000 reward and the thief was never caught. Not much of thank you though, was it?
It gets worse, I’m afraid...
Pickles choked to death by snagging his lead on a fallen tree while chasing a cat in 1967.

Pickles – gone but not forgotten...

*The Jack Russell is a breed of dog associated with the Rev John Russell in the 19th century and not the England cricketer of the same name.
Westminster Arms
9 and 10 Storey Gate,
Tel: 0207 222 8520

Saturday, 29 June 2013



It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. A harmless suggestion from an advisor that would help people appreciate the man behind the red briefcase.
But George Osborne's tweeting of a picture of him eating a burger the evening before the comprehensive spending review prompted almost as many headlines as the financial or political details. Hundreds replied, saying it was a publicity stunt, an attempt to project a populist image. But it was the forensic reporting of The Sun which revealed that Osborne's burger was not any old burger but a "poshburger", bought from upmarket chain, Byron.
The paper contrasted the cheapest Byron burger, at £6.75, with the lowest priced MacDonald's at 99p and said Osborne was "ridiculed".
Osborne's attempt to sidestep the issue by claiming that MacDonald's did not deliver only made it worse – Byron does not deliver either and it later emerged that Treasury staff were sent to pick up the burger from Waterloo station.
During his budget speech on Wednesday, Osborne made a joke at the expense of Eric Pickles, the minister for communities and local government, which he described as "the model of lean government".
Is that with fries?
Pickles exacted his revenge on Osborne as he joined the mockery of the chancellor's burger picture. In a photo staged to mimic Osborne's, he replaced the burger and fries on the chancellor's desk with a bowl of salad at his own – and tweeted that he too was pictured "putting finishing touches" to a big speech.
Osborne said that he was new to Twitter. "There I am working late on my speech, and I've got a takeaway hamburger, but it puts you on the front page of The Sun. It's an occupational hazard," he said.
One of Gordon Brown's former advisors, Damian McBride, revealed that Brown had simpler tastes. "Gordon's standard 'finishing touches' evening meal was a Tesco's microwave lasagne. And a Kit Kat."

The Sun Inn
136 Westgate
North Yorkshire
YO18 8BB
Tel: 01751 473661


Sunday, 16 June 2013


Coffee giant Starbucks has paid £5m in UK corporation tax - its first such tax payment since 2009 - the company has announced.

A company spokeswoman said it had listened to its customers and would pay another £5m later this year. That's a lot of coffee beans!

The move follows pressure from politicians and campaigners, and an agreement by world leaders last week to clamp down on corporate tax avoidance.

Starbucks has only reported taxable profit once in 15 years in the UK. It announced late last year it would pay more corporation tax after a public outcry and an investigation by MPs.
"We listened to our customers in December and so decided to forgo certain deductions which would make us liable to pay £10m in corporation tax this year and a further £10m in 2014." a Starbucks spokeswoman said.
Starbucks reportedly paid just £8.6m in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years and nothing in the last four years - despite sales of £400m last year.

As part of its tax affairs, the firm transferred some money to a Dutch sister company in royalty payments, bought coffee beans from Switzerland and paid high interest rates to borrow from other parts of the business.
During an investigation into corporate tax avoidance, the company's global chief financial officer told a committee of MPs last year that the tax deal struck with Dutch authorities was "an attractive reason" for basing operations there.

 The Public Accounts Committee of MPs said last year it "found it difficult to believe" Starbucks "was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK". So stick that in your skinny latte frappuccino - with or without sprinkles!
What is the attraction of coffee houses anyway? People wandering around with cartons  of - I don't know what - trying to find somewhere to sit and proclaming - "Oh, look - there's Tarquin over there! He must be back from his holiday in the Maldives! Such fun!" What is wrong with the British pub where the architect can rub shoulders with the artisan and class distinction and accidents of birth remain firmly outside the door!
And here's another thing - why do people who go to these places have their professional status emblazoned on the back of their garments? One young lady last week - as I was passing a Costabucks - had the word "BARISTA" displayed on the reverse of her rather dull shirt. I thought - not only is it vulgar to tell everyone your business - so you're employed within the legal profession - get you missus! - but your spelling is appalling to boot! You don't see Buzz Aldrin in a coffee house with "Retired Astronaut" on his back or Sean Connery and "Deluded Scottish Nationalist" displayed for all to see...Very sad! 


Fellows, Morton and Clayton
54 Canal St
Tel: 0115 950 6795


Friday, 7 June 2013


I visited the Scarborough Tourist Information Centre  earlier this morning and must confess to being more than disappointed in the response to an enquiry that had been bothering me for some time.

"Do you have information on the number of tourists of sino-japonica origin who visited the twin resorts of Scarborough and Bridlington in the first quarter of last year?"
It would seem the TIC at Scarborough do not maintain any information at their centre  to answer my request and, in fact they informed me, they do not carry any information on tourists at all! Which beggars the question - what is the point of a Tourist Information Centre - when it provides no information on tourists? Plain stupid!  
Ahh - cricket... There is something deeply satisfying - in late spring sunshine - to hear the thwack of hardened cork on willow! Summer is just around the corner and maybe the world isn't such a bad place after all. On several occasions I have tried to explain the laws of cricket to my colonial friends across the Atlantic - it's not easy, is it? And to be honest it is a difficult sport to describe and put in context. Then again American Football - what's all that about? A 60min game that lasts three hours - the two halves are separated by a halftime period, and the first and third quarters are also followed by a short confusing is that?  

North Riding Brew Pub
161-163 North Marine Road
North Yorkshire
YO12 7HU

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Sunday, 19 May 2013


Dr James Richardson Spensley (17 May 1867 – 10 November 1915) was an English doctor, footballer, manager, scout leader and medic from Stoke Newington, London. He is considered to be one of the "Fathers of Italian football" due to his association with Genoa CFC (Cricket and Football Club) and his contribution to the modern day version of the game in Italy.
Richardson Spensley arrived in Genoa in 1896, initially for the purpose of attending to English sailors on the coal ships. He joined Genoa Cricket and Athletics Club; a cricket and athletics club formed by British expatriates. He opened the footballing section for the club on 10 April 1897 and was installed as its first ever manager. This was innovative at the time as the modern day footballing scene in Italy was in its fledgling stages: if not for Edoardo Bosio founding clubs further north in Turin (4), there would have been no football at all in Italy at the time of  Richardson Spensley's arrival. Spensley organised the first ever football match between Genoa and F.B.C. Torinese (a club that is now  extinct ).
Richardson Spensley participated as a player-manager for Genoa in the inaugral Italian Football Championship (which he initiated) during 1898 which his club won. The following season he switched position from defender to goalkeeper, playing on until 1906.

Including the first title, Genoa won the Italian league six times while Richardson Spensley was at the club. After retiring from playing when he was almost 40 years old, he stayed on in the management role for one more year, before returning to England.

While living in England he had known Robert Baden-Powell who founded the Scout Movement, from whom he had received an autographed copy of Scouting for Boys. Along with a Genovese man named Mario Mazza, they founded the first Italian scouting movement called Federazione Italiana dello Scautismo in 1910.

During WWI, he worked in the medical field putting his scouting abilities to use as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was injured on the battle field while tending to the wounds of an enemy combatant in an act of selfless compassion. He died at Mainz, Germany in hospital not long afterwards. His grave was discovered at Niederzwehren Cemetery in Kassel by two Genoese students in 1990.
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