We have an office custom; on or around one's birthday one brings along cakes, pastries, biscuits or even better (depending on the significance of the number) and shares with immediate colleagues & all-and-sundry. I'm no different; this year I bought 1kg of shortbread biscuits and placed then at the allotted, er… place.

3 hours after arrival they've nearly all gone. I got it right. It feels good.

Thanks to those who wished me a happy birthday, even though my rationale for not bringing stuff in on the day sounded a bit lame. At least the Amazon Prime Now explanation went down well (see yesterday's 'Order' post) – as did the biscuits.

Now, those who just take and walk off are bad enough. There's nothing worse though than someone inquiring whose birthday it is, then walking either away or past one's desk. Eating a biscuit!

Ungrateful, ignorant, self-entitled bast[CARRIER LOST]


Right now I feel as if I've melted. I've been drinking wine; half a bottle of a rather nice Merlot. It's a 'Turner Road' or 'Turner's Road' or something, my vision's a bit blurry now too. I must also apologise in advance if this post makes more sense than the usual…

I say it's a 'rather nice' wine but, to be honest, it's not an objective statement based on what other people think, it's simply one I like. Don't get me wrong, I read reviews of red wines, Scottish single malt whiskies, preground coffees for my AeroPress, cars, computers, USB drives, NASs, dog and cat toys, TV stands… and occasionally even buy stuff rather than indulging myself with procrastination.

Other folks' opinions are of course important to me, but I'm my own man. I was my own man even as a boy. Family life is attempting to beat that out of me; resistance is futile…

I spent quite some time choosing mt prefect whisky: a Laphroaig 15-year-old; first tasted on a cruise down the River Nile, now available only as a special edition, far beyond my budget. If I had a big birthday coming up I could perhaps flutter my eyelashes in the hope someone'd buy me one. But even I shudder at that prospect despite my innate sense that' I'd be worth it.

So, this Merlot has achieved something a few hours of productive coding this weekend failed to. A sense of achievement.

No, I don't understand either.


Not exactly a perfect storm of events, not by any means; nevertheless, we ran out of:

  • Cat litter,
  • Dog food,
  • Dog treats,
  • Cat treats,
  • Carpet urine absorber powder,
  • Dog toys even vaguely resembling their initial, as-purchased, state.

It's Ruby Dog's first birthday on Wednesday; a visit to the pet superstore is perhaps in order.

This, though I might refer to it in the store, is not a shopping list.


** Newsflash!! **

Dateline: Right now!

We have a simply great work custom: anyone having a birthday brings in food and shares it with all. Today, 4rthur* (thanks 4nne* for cooking & laying it all out) brought a particularly rich spread, pizzas, cake, pork pies, some, er… tasty things…

I just ate a couple of slices of a Hawaiian pizza.

(pause for effect…)

And again I liked it.

To recap; if you read my recent 'Pineapple' post, you'll see I introduced a foodstuff (pineapple) positioned diametrically opposite to my views on the addition of fruit to savoury meals.

I'm not averse to foodstuffs prepared in challenging ways but pineapple is one of those polarising fruits; tolerable in isolation, downright wrong on a pizza. Or with gammon.**

Or so I thought.

My palate must be changing with age; after all I eschewed the pepperoni pizza, picking up the Hawaiian in preference.

It would appear that 2016 is indeed a year of experimentation, compromise… If only my attitudes to other deeply entrenched beliefs could be moderated in a similar fashion.

Perhaps I need to go around licking stuff – you know, to test if my attitudes can be modified according to taste?

*Names have been changed to protect even the generosity of those wonderful individuals here.

**Gammon with egg FTW!

I haz Laphroaig

This morning I badly needed a decongestant, so the timing of the gift could not have been more appropriate. Purists (and those who abhor the practise, however infrequent, of drinking alcohol before 10am) look away now…

I had it with hot water, maple syrup (the squeezy bottle of honey had solidified due to lack of recent usage,) sugar and a few drops of lemon juice (yup, Jif, from a bright yellow squeezy plastic bottle.)

And it was lovely. Please disregard the fact that I’m currently sat here with Earex drops in both ears to hopefully clear the temporary deafness, and both ears are plugged with toilet paper (there’s no cotton wool in the house.)

Laphroaig is a fantastic drink. It takes time. It’s best approached along a long and winding path. I confess I worked my way up through a lot of the blended Scotches, through the easy-on-the-palate single malts, and thought Talisker was the pinnacle of Scots’ liquid refreshment achievement, until I found Laphroaig. I’m not a drinker, it took a *serious* amount of time.

Incidentally, my previous Scottish pinnacle, ‘Irn Bru’ has now, though marginally, been beaten into third place.

The best summary I’ve heard of Laphroaig so far from a drinker of blended whiskies: “Ugh, it tastes like medicine!” *Medicine?* That works for me, and has in the past been an often-used excuse reason for getting the glass out. Forget Cask Strength and other marketing ploys designed to extract the unwary buyer’s money… The best Laphroaig by a long distance was the 15-year-old, now sadly not marketed.

I was introduced to it (thanks ‘Bob’ the builder) on a cruise down the Nile. Transported in so many ways to a more relaxed world (for society’s elite of course) and broad as the following statement is, I really cannot think of any combination of 2 things that, when combined, are more redolent of the luxury I imagine existed in the bygone age visitors to Egypt expect to encounter.


A potentially contentious post follows.

If you’ve been buying (or have been bought) Heinz Tomato Ketchup all your life, then let me tell you, you’re doing life wrong.

Try Tesco Tomato Ketchup instead. It tastes more tomato-ey, less vinegary, it’s got a better texture than its frankly artificial-tasting competitor and, the best bit, it’s approaching half the price!

Which? Magazine’s blind taste tests (login required to read the full article) and my discerning palate can’t be wrong.

Go on, give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen?


This post was inspired by a comment from @neilco on the social network:

"I’m pondering a world where cake is the currency. My dad had this to say about both money and cake: once it’s gone it’s gone.

Just imagine a delicious, frosted, edible currency."

My daughters have an uneasy relationship with cake. The lure, allure, whatever you wish to call the experience, of cake is strong and yet its execution in my household is weak. Before you think this is going nowhere, let me explain.

Cakes are bought, put on plates, cut into manageable portions, put on smaller plates and distributed according to the size of the family member to receive them. Number 2 daughter gets the smallest portion, number 1 the next larger, my wife gets the next-up in size and I, being head of the household and biggest, get the biggest. However, the distribution of sizes isn’t at all as straightforward as this outline implies.

Daughter 2 is still relatively clumsy so the floor gets some, she eats some, she sees something interesting on the TV, all is lost. Daughter 1 is also relatively clumsy, the TV plays a big part in her life too. So, the unconsumed cake, where still edible, usually goes to the head of the household. Me. (My wife is health- and weight-conscious.)

Now, Daughter 2 loves to share. It’s at the very core of her being. A slight issue is the concept of sharing is somewhat unconventionally applied in her world. I get my slice of cake, it’s lovely and moist and identical in all-but size to Daughter 2′s. She looks over want WANTS mine. There’s nothing in-your-face confrontational about the process of her taking over, it’s seamless. One minute it’s all mine, the next I’m feeding her bite-sized portions…

You’d think that would be the end of it. Nope, not by a long way. Because I try to be the best dad I can (let’s not go there) I feel the need to reciprocate the largesse dispensed by my 2 daughters. Ice cream or a trip to ‘The Cupboard’ is allowed. It’s only fair. And when it’s all over, am I owed a debt of gratitude? Maybe, but I’m unlikely to ever collect.

‘The Cupboard’, by the way, is where we keep the snacks, not some instrument of discipline similar to a mediaeval iron maiden. No, ‘The Cupboard’ is a simple cupboard with shelves, situated at ground level with deliciously-edible contents available to all-comers, incidentally a strategy being re-examined as this very post is written.

Eventually I finish my cake, dreaming of simpler times – a single example being once when our 5 cats sat in a perfect semi-circle whilst I fed them the meat from an otherwise excellent triple pack of supermarket sandwiches.

In summary, quantitative easing seems a clumsy instrument compared to the arrival of even a single cake at Turner Towers.