Sunday, March 31, 2019


Popped over to the tap-yard after a visit to the climbing wall yesterday, tried a new beer called "Sabrage" so named because it uses a new hop from America called "Sabro" which imparts a delicious citrus and sherbert aroma. The guys at Siren decided to showcase the hop in a Brut IPA style beer, so ultra-dry and refreshing, hiding its 6% ABV almost completely. A hit I reckon, very good beer indeed!

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Here comes Summer!

Lovely sunshine at lunchtime today, went for my daily stroll and found a bunch of street food vendors had set up shop around the little green by my offices, starting to feel like Summer is on its way at last.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


J&M on the ball as usual. This cartoon puts me in mind of the recent outcry regarding the serious outbreaks of Measles that have been occurring in various cities around the world recently. Only this week the state of New York has declared a state of emergency as numbers of cases of this potentially life-threatening disease have increased alarmingly, particularly in young children. Un-vaccinated children are now barred from public places (although how you know seems challenging!) When you scratch deeper into this story you quickly find that the majority of cases have been coming from a community of ultra-orthodox Jews who for whatever reason haven't been vaccinating their children and who now put them at risk of death or life-changing side effects from this rampant virus. I suppose it's easy to apply confirmation bias to questions like this when you've been told your whole life that believing things against all evidence is actually a "virtue" and not just gullible and irresponsible as it so blatantly is to the rest of us; an unintended consequence of this kind of life-style and, as if often the case, one that mostly harms the uneducated and the innocent.

Mid-week Mirth

Saw this, made me smile...

Monday, March 25, 2019

Sugar and spice

As mentioned in my previous post, spent a pleasant hour at the Siren Tap-yard over in Finchampstead on Saturday afternoon after an exhausting couple of hours of climbing wall fun. Tried a new beer (see picture above) called "Enrichment" which is a collaboration between Siren and Dutch brewery, Brouwerij Kees based in Zealand. It's an IPA but is non-traditionally made with Belgian yeast which imparts a very spicy note along with some fruity esters (just like Belgian beer has) It was good but I was looking forward to more new-world hop flavours, probably a 3.5/5 on rate-beer. I also succumbed to buying a little curry from the street food vendor that was there (they have a different one every Saturday afternoon) it was a lentil curry with rice, okra and coconut milk (see picture below), just the job to regenerate arm muscles that had been completely shredded by hanging from little hand-holds for infeasible periods of time.

The beer I chose to accompany this little parcel of goodies was another collaboration involving Brouwerij Kees called "Mosaic Hop Explosion", unsurprisingly it was loaded with Mosaic hops and came out much sweeter and more malty than the previous one with a lovely grapefruit core, such is the rich tapestry of flavorsome craft beers available these days.

Climbing for beer

I got a text from a mate on Saturday morning asking if I'd like to go climbing at a new local climbing centre. I was a bit surprised that a facility like had managed to open in my home town without me even realizing, and delighted to find out that it was only walking distance (2 km) from my front door! I took my Son with me and my friend took his two teenage boys. We had a good couple of hours messing around on the various bouldering problems and tricky overhangs before the majority of our arm muscles started failing and we'd removed most of the skin on our fingers. Afterwards we shot over to the Siren tap-yard for a cheeky beer in the spring sunshine, it was glorious, we even sat outside! Thinking of doing the same next weekend, this could become a "thing"..

Religions and Cults

Not a new one for this blog but still true.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Smirk

Looks like the tea-break chit-chat I overhear at most board meetings I've ever been to...

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mid-week Mirth

The brilliant J&M pointing out that intolerance isn't something that should be automatically respected by everyone, especially when it's based on nothing more than an unfalsifiable delusion or the interpretation of an ancient story-book.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Recent wine discoveries

Couple of new wines tried recently. On the left a splendid example of a lush red from the Ribera Del Duero in Spain (Bodegas Fuentenarro), everything you could hope for at a reasonable price point of around £15, sweet dark fruits and a slight liquorice bite on the finish. On the right something from the South West of France (Chateau du Cedre, Heritage du Cedre), and a region not often visited by English consumers, Cahors, which is situated roughly half way between Toulouse and Limoges. The predominant grape in this area is perhaps more famous when it comes from South America (Argentina & Chile), it's called Malbec but it's spiritual heartland is central France. This example was around £12 and is a lovely specimen, rounded and fruity with nice balance, will probably age well and would give any new-world Gaucho Malbec a run for it's money IMO.


Been to plenty of "strategy" meetings like this... In my experience, most so called "leaders" seem to have no clue what the word even means, let alone how to formulate one, the desire to focus on the tactical and short-term proves overwhelming in most situations.

Sunday, March 17, 2019


New beer for a Saturday evening from one of my favourite breweries of the moment, Gipsy Hill in London. It's a pale ale done in a New England IPA style, i.e. loads of late hop additions and a healthy degree of "murk" as per the picture. Called "Swamper", I'm guessing because of the hazy appearance of the beer it come in at only 3.5% ABV but with a taste and body suggesting a lot more. Very good effort indeed!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Smirk

A great example of a picture that paints a thousand words, the English language in all it's ambiguous, context sensitive, quirky glory. Believe me writing computer software to understand all this is difficult in the extreme, people that harp on about "AI" being the biggest existential risk to Humanity are talking out of their LARGE BOTTOMS... :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


J&M pointing out how our ever changing cultural perspective on what's moral and what's not is one of the most obvious demonstrations that all scripture is man-made. It's a shame that some people still insist on basing their ethics atop the ramblings of medieval goat-herders.

Plain sight..

It's the oldest bait and switch trick in the book. Convince one set of people who have a grievance that the cause of that grievance is another set of people or (if you can arrange it) a minority group, best still, a minority group from somewhere else! If you can pull that one off you can orchestrate something as fucking moronic as Brexit, and yet all the time the real villains are right under our noses, hiding in plain sight..

Viva Italia!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Causes of Autism

Not a very clear image, but, finally we get the truth, Jenny McCarthy causes Autism...

Hunting Mode

Love this clip, an owl switching to "hunting mode" - nature is a wonderful (and scary) thing...

Facing up to reality

J&M pointing out one of the more obvious contradictions of Christianity. Any sacrifice where you don't actually give something up isn't much of a sacrifice at all! Luckily there's absolutely no evidence for any of it being factually true, never has been, never will be. We're left only with man-made wish thinking and the most obvious fact, i.e. that no one wants to die, and yet we all will, we are scared of dying and find it very difficult (or impossible) to contemplate our own non-existence - when Human Beings are able to face up to that reality everything in the world starts to look more sane.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Challenging Week

It’s been a seriously challenging week for me, I suspect one I will remember for the rest of my life.

My Father was diagnosed with cancer last Summer and since then has been undergoing chemo-therapy and radio-therapy at the Royal Surrey Hospital. It’s been a tough few months for him and our family, many ups and downs, twists and turns but on balance we’ve witnessed a gradual decline in his health and fitness since then. Unfortunately, the cancer spread from its original (fairly insignificant) source to many parts of his body and characteristically proved incredibly difficult to eradicate once distributed. Ironically his treatment completely nailed the original tumor, but, his un-corrupted DNA was not the winner in this battle, genetic luck was not on his side and the mutated cells had already metastasized into the lymphatic system, organs and bones, and started destroying other critical parts of his body. My dad was a very tough man, he gritted his teeth and hung on, and hung on, enduring much pain and discomfort, his fortitude was admirable but eventually it was too much. On Wednesday morning the disease finally overwhelmed him, he died just as the Sun rose above the South Downs, bursting through the windows of sleepy Surrey villages including his own, it was the last thing his senses registered, aged 75 years.

It still feels strange. I can’t quite believe my Dad isn’t here anymore. No longer available for questions about feeding roses or advice about leaking roofs, diagnosing mechanical breakdowns or views regarding the preferable vintages of a particular French wine. He’s no longer going to call me at the most inconvenient moments to talk him through the configuration of yet another mysteriously stubborn printer, wireless router or “smart” television or grill me about how my own Son is getting on at school. I’m going to miss him in many ways, as all of us will, he had a big personality, a big heart and has left an even bigger hole in all our lives.

His life was amazing, I am immensely jealous of it. I wouldn’t say he was a man who trod lightly on our planet, but, from very humble beginnings he achieved much in his all too brief spell in the light. He visited 4 out of the 5 continents, lived on 3 of those for extended periods of time and had traveled to more countries than most people ever do in a lifetime before he was 35. He worked in the petrochemical business for many years climbing the greasy corporate pole from pipe-fitter thru engineer up to project manager and engineering director, overseeing capital projects to build vast processing plants and manufacturing facilities in some wonderfully out of the way places. His knowledge of how to find a decent meal and a beer in pretty much every country and city that you’d ever imagine going to (and some that you wouldn’t) was encyclopedic.

He was the ultimate “fixer”, someone who seemed to be able to communicate in any language, culture and situation, make friends and get a result whenever and whatever the requirement was, hotel room, hot meal, last seat on the bus or on one occasion a pair of Women’s tights in the middle of the Moroccan desert (to substitute for a broken fan belt!) In the twilight of his career he switched to civil engineering and worked for the big electricity companies building power-stations, again, this took him (and Mum) to far flung places, they lived in Singapore for a few years and traveled extensively around South-East Asia. I remember visiting for a holiday back in 1998 and marveling how well they had adapted to life in that part of the world, he was equally at home playing snooker in the “British Club” in Singapore as he was chowing down with Bangladeshi construction gangs on remote building sites in the South China Sea, and probably far happier doing the latter.

He was also a great story-teller, always possessing a rich tapestry of tales to tell over dinner; tales that got richer and richer with each telling and each glass of red wine. I remember with great fondness the tale of the frozen fish-fingers in Hyderabad or pissing on scorpions in the Western Desert or diving on a wrecked WW2 bomber in Cumbria among many others. Even remembering these tales now I’m slightly terror-struck with the thought that from this point onward their resolution will only diminish, perhaps I should try and write them down before they’re gone forever.

I have to be honest, I’m not looking forward to his funeral much, in my experience funerals are usually sad and full of regret, tearful affairs that seem to slow down time and extrude the pain even further. Perhaps they're necessary, a kind of bad-tasting medicine that aids the healing, I'd like to believe that, but many I've attended seemed slightly self-indulgent on the part of the living, maybe that's the point of them too. That said though, I am looking forward to the party afterwards! It’s going to be wonderful catching up with his old colleagues and friends from across the decades, people I can only vaguely recall from my childhood and yet shared many pivotal moments with. Perhaps we will recount some of his great tales together, tales from the halcyon days of his life, living and working in far-flung jungles, deserts or cities. I'm hoping that we'll be able to enjoy a good belly-laugh together, bookend a stunning life and raise a toast to memories of happier times.

Whatever we do, he's going to be sorely missed.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Friday Smirk

This one caused me to have a respectful titter this week...

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Pancake day