Monday, 30 December 2013

New Year's Eve

The new year is just around the corner dear readers! That of course means making resolutions you probably won't keep, staying up till well past midnight and having a good time with your friends. Or at least that's what we always tend to do.

I want to make a change to new year. I want to actually keep a resolution, something I've never done before...mainly due to the fact that I've never bothered to ever make a resolution in the first place. But, it starts here. My new year's resolution is to make sure I train up in order to run 10k non-stop. Even saying 10k makes me want to shudder with dread. I'm used to doing 5k's, and seeing as I'm not a club runner and I don't train endlessly, my normal run takes around 25 minutes. It's not bad I guess. At least I can run...that's the main thing.

However, I'm going to need to train especially hard this year because the 10k I'm gearing up for is no ordinary run. It's the Run Balmoral 10k. It's up a hill. Yep. I am indeed planning to go running up a hill most likely enduring weather that's not entirely pleasant. Why? That's a question I've been asking myself a lot recently and you know, I really don't have a decent answer for you. At least I'm going to be raising a bit of money out of the run for charity. Hopefully that will be a goal that I can keep in sight and use to inspire me to run that little bit harder and reach the finish line without suffering some sort of exercise induced collapse. Last year when I took part in the 5k, I managed to raise just over £100 for Cancer Research UK. I want to beat that amount this year.

So, here's to training hard, setting yourself goals, and raising money for good causes. Here's to 2014. Let's hope it's a fantastic year for everyone.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas Food From Around The World

Have you ever wondered what Christmas must be like in other countries? Or at the very least, wondered what people usually eat for Christmas dinner across the other side of the world? probably haven't, but now that I've mentioned it, you must be a little curious. And your curiosity is about to be satisfied. Sit back and get a load of this...

In Argentina the traditional Christmas spread is made up of Vitel Tone - veal smothered in a creamy mayonnaise sauce flavoured with tinned tuna - or in other words this:

Vitel Tone is made by poaching a cut of veal with onions, carrots, celery and parsley (among a few other ingredients) and coating the meat with a tuna mayonnaise sauce made with anchovies and vinegar. Not something seafood haters should ever try. The meat and the sauce are then layered together and set in the fridge to stew for up to five days to allow the flavours to develop.  

A few other key Argentinian Christmas treats are Turron or Nougat, Pan Dulce (panattone), Asado (meaning barbeque) meats such as beef, chicken, calf, lamb or suckling pig, Budin (fruitcake), Matambre (a cut of beef), Lengua (beef tongue), sandwiches de miga, salads and pionono (dough cooked with walnuts or fruits and chantilly cream). 
The Swedes go all out in their Christmas extravaganza - especially in the sausage department. That's actually not as dodgy as it sounds...what I mean is that they have three kinds of sausage on the dinner table: Prinskorv - small hot dog sausages, Flaskkorv - large pork sausages, and Isterband - smoked fresh pork sausage. If that isn't enough meat for you, they also bring out the Kottbullar (Swedish meatballs), Revbensspjall (spare ribs) and Julskinka (Christmas ham). To balance out all this meat, the Swedes lay out the Christmas fish with dishes like Lutfisk - boiled white fish served in a white gravy, Inlagdsill - pickled herring, Janssons frestelse - scalloped potato casserole with anchovies, and Gravad Lax - raw spiced salmon, proving very popular. Again, not a great place to spend Christmas if you don't like fish...or if you're vegetarian for that matter. 

The last country I thought I should add to my Christmas dinner list is Jamaica. I did this mainly because their main dish is curried goat: something which I think puts the traditional turkey to shame...although they do also consume slightly less flamboyant meats like chicken and ham which I think (like the goat) they eat with rice and peas. Their Christmas desert, which is similar to our Christmas cake, is served with a special drink. This drink is called sorrel and countains rum and is usually heavily flavoured with ginger and other spices.  

In my opinion, Christmas dinner sounds best in Jamaica. Admittedly, this is mainly because I can't stand the taste of fish unless it is in finger form, but also because I really do like the sound of curried goat!

Brother & Bones

I realise I said I would be doing a few things on the blog which I happen to not have actually done. It's really not the best work ethic I've got going on with the Guide, but I'm afraid to say that this year school work takes priority. And when I say work, I mean work. I should probably be doing school stuff right now in fact, but I figured that a little blog post might help chill me out a bit.

So, as promised, here is the long awaited Brother & Bones interview. The reason it's taken me so long to get this up on the blog is mainly due to the fact that the phone line was so bad while I was interviewing the lead singer (Rich Thomas) that half of my questions now don't have answers. I tried getting in contact with the band again via email, but I've had no luck. I'm going to put this down to them being busy on tour...

I was pretty nervous about interviewing Rich at the start, though I really needn't have been. What I should have been worrying about was how long it would actually take to get the interview done and dusted. It took three attempts before I managed to get all my questions answered. Why? Well, the first time I phoned, the tour manager had been left in the dark about the whole interview arrangement so I was asked to call back later. When I did call back, the phone line was so bad I ended up rescheduling in the hope that the signal would be better once the band had reached Dundee (where they were to be performing that evening). Unfortunately, as I later realised, it wasn't actually the signal that was mucking up the sound quality of the phone. All the crackling and cutting out was down to the fact that my house phone is a bit of a diva when it comes to loudspeaker.

That said, I did have a lot of fun doing the whole interview and I got some pretty good stuff out of it. So, without further ado, here it is:

When I saw your gig in Manchester, you were playing in quite a small venue, but you’ve played for large festivals too. Do you find you have to change the way you perform for festivals as opposed to smaller venues?

Rich Thomas
“Yes. On small stages in small venues, in terms of space, you don’t have the same kind of freedom as you would at a big festival. Just by definition it’s different. We have to find a way for our music to come across as best it can. In a small venue you can’t have the guys playing on their drums as loud as they possibly can, but on a big festival stage, you have that freedom and you can get away with it. In a small venue you’ve got to allow room – in terms of volume – for other stuff to come through. As long as we don’t have to compromise on delivering our songs the way they should be played, that’s fine. Obviously every band has to be able to play smaller venues and we love both for different reasons.” 

Do you find yourself missing family and friends when you’re on tour?

“Yeah, I suppose it’s a bit of a double edged sword in that way. We have people we’re missing back home like girlfriends and family but the fact that the band is pretty much a family makes up for that. That sounded cheesy, but it makes sense. You’re going to be working away from home a lot of the time, like most musicians do, so you need that. We do get to be at home, but we go on the road as well, and that’s just the way it is. It’s the lifestyle we chose and we chose it for a reason – because we love music. It’s not for everyone and people’s ideas of being on the road are probably slightly different to the reality. It’s hard work. We do a lot of driving and lugging gear around and eating a lot of shit food. We’re quite used to staying up until 2 in the morning and then getting up and 10. That’s our lifestyle. A lot of people couldn’t handle that and having to perform every night.”

How did you guys meet?

(couldn’t make out much of this)

“I met Rob ages ago in Cornwall. We’ve just played music together forever really. We all met through the London music scene and we started jamming and it just worked out.”

What influences your music?

(same with this one)

“That’s quite a broad question really, but in general, from my point of view, it’s kind of hard not to be influenced by everything and every day. That sounds pretty cheesy as well. I grew up listening to a lot of older music – my mum used to listen to Motown stuff. I’m used to my family sitting down together and playing guitars, so that’s my background.  We all love a bit of modern music as well, but it’s a collective thing.”

Are you working on any new material?

“We’ve got loads of new ideas and I’ve been writing some stuff on my own as well. There are loads of ideas floating around but none are 100% finished. I just need to get a few loose ends tied up and show them to the band and hopefully some of it will end up on the new album.There’s loads and loads of ideas, I just need to make sense of it all. I find it a lot harder to write lyrics than I do music. I’ve got a lot of ideas for melodies and for some of them everything is there but the lyrics.”