Category Archives: Travel

Bye to the Saint, Ivanhoe and 007

Roger Moore died earlier today. He’s not someone I have thought very much about in recent years, but when I was a child and teenager he was right up there with the best.

Most people refer to him as James Bond, but his 007 days were almost a bit late for me. I’d liked Ivanhoe, and I’d loved The Saint, and sort of enjoyed The Persuaders. But that’s quite a bit of screen entertainment from one man, and enough to cover many of my early years.

Roger was a good 007; I think it’s mainly that I was never big on Bond.

But almost nine years ago when Roger appeared in Cheltenham, there was no question but we had to go to his event. He’d just turned 80 at the time, and had a book out, I believe, which is why he appeared at a book festival.

He showed his age, which I suppose is unavoidable, but his acting skills carried him through. The one thing that surprised me was his dislike of Hjördis Niven. Well, no. More that he didn’t mind airing it publicly.

Roger Moore

Goodbye to this handsome man who gave us so many screen adventures!

Regular

I read an article, probably in the Guardian, on eating the same thing – in the same place – all the time. I believe it was seen as odd.

Now, most of us tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, with little concern for nutritional variety or boredom. We just do. And if you’re the type to eat breakfast out, then that is the meal where variation is not required. You can pop into the same café every day of your life if you want to.

And can afford to, obviously. I’d say that having the money to pay for meals out in restaurants all the time is what matters. Not going to the same restaurant every time, nor ordering the same dish. Or not having to order, because staff bring it without being asked.

I don’t have the money, and I like being at home. But I can see the attraction in being a regular somewhere.

In fact, I used to be a regular in an Italian restaurant in London many years ago. Not every day, as I didn’t live there. But every time I was in London I ate there; sometimes several times a day. Once I discovered this place and realised I felt comfortable there and that the food was just right, and affordable, it became my home from home.

I believe this is what we need. We don’t want to trawl round looking at new places every time. I made ‘friends’ with the staff, and got acquainted with many of the other regular diners, some of whom ate out every day because they had no cooking facilities where they lived, often in rented rooms. It’s no different from drinking in your local [pub].

‘My’ restaurant is no more. It was housed in a narrow in-fill between larger properties, and the time came when land in London became so valuable that it had to go, and it has been replaced by a run of dreadful shops. I miss it every time I walk past, and if it was still in business, I’d eat there every time I’m in London.

Hindsight

Watched a couple of random episodes of NCIS on this eve of September 11th, fifteen years on. The Resident IT Consultant is away for a few days, which is why I indulged myself. He is back in Moscow, which is where he was that fateful day in 2001 as well.

Russian station

It was a strange feeling, having him there, his brother near Boston, the rest of us somewhere in the middle, and all watching the same thing developing.

But that’s not what I wanted to say here. One of the episodes was Broken Arrow, the one where DiNozzo Sr assists the team in solving the crime, by staying at his favourite Washington hotel, running up a vast bill, having hitched a lift from Geneva on someone’s private plane. (Most likely one of the ones Daughter sees from her kitchen window.)

And then as we’ve got all sweet at the end and Jr and Sr finally see eye to eye, we have the older DiNozzo declining a taxi to the airport, because he just ran into Donald Trump in the lobby and has begged a lift home.

Six years ago that was amusing. Now, not so much. And I hope that whatever happens in real life won’t mean a repeat of that day fifteen years ago, just because someone was unable to do the right thing.

Music en route

The bad thing about the Edinburgh festival season during August is that travelling turns into a nightmare. I find myself choosing not to go to events at times or days of the week when I suspect travelling will undo any good the event might offer.

So yesterday my trusted photographer and I picked a train earlier than we had to, just so we could go on the King’s Cross train, with four or five times as many coaches as the local one. It was even worth waiting for it as it ran late, just not to get squashed on the little train.

As the Resident IT Consultant dropped us off it was mayhem by the station entrance. There was an interview being conducted on the pavement, complete with BBC camera and everything. Loads of people wearing t-shirts or hoodies with Stirling Orchestra on the back, and an unusual number of double basses for a railway station. Even in August.

I remembered reading something in the local paper about the orchestra; they had been chosen for something special. My photographer googled as we waited and could tell me they were going to London to take part in All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge, a ‘four-part series, which will celebrate the breadth and quality of amateur orchestral playing across the UK, will follow five orchestras as they compete for a place in the Grand Final. It will begin on BBC Four at the end of August, with the final episode to be broadcast on BBC Two.’

That’s pretty good, and I’m sufficiently pleased for them that I didn’t even mind the squeeze on the train. The double basses and the stools, etc, got stowed elsewhere, and it was only the smaller instruments that were all over the place, along with the BBC crew’s junk, carefully blocking the Edinburgh exit door…

Now, if they could only have whipped out their instruments and serenaded us as we went!

From cake to Cecil

The whole thing began with cake, but I forget quite how we ended up on the subject of homemade versus bought cake, and the effect of certain television programmes. But when we really should have been tidying books, we got lost in odd – and old – memories, much to the surprise and interest of Daughter.

It was my madeira cake – back in 1982 – which led us to my old friend No Filmstar. It was he who admired my cake so much he reckoned it had to be an M&S cake. For some reason Daughter required more information, and slowly, step by step, we arrived at the sculptor Cecil Thomas.

At first I couldn’t remember his name, but the Resident IT Consultant knew we’d looked him up before, in a past where there was no Google. But with the few facts we had, Daughter eventually found him and his impressive work and reputation.

Having known so little back then, it was interesting learning more. I met No Filmstar soon after Thomas’s death in 1976, and whereas he was mentioned now and again, I never knew any real facts. No Filmstar was one of the somewhat strange individuals hanging out in Queensway, back in the day when the young witch began witching.

So we moved sideways from the sculptor to the other people, including Dulcie and Mrs MacLean, and I remembered more about Mrs Hop and Cyril with the guinea pigs, and the old couple with the dog, and I realised what an odd life these people had, eating out every night, because they hadn’t the means to cook where they lived (most likely just a room). It seemed a bit glamorous then, but now I feel mostly sorry for them.

It’s the idea of being so ‘posh’ that you don’t go to work – other than charitably – but live ‘frugally’ off an inheritance, which inevitably dwindles as you go, that seems strange.

As always, I wish I could get the photos out, but I stuffed them all in a box when we moved, so can’t easily find individual ones, and the last letter I received in connection with these people I threw out a couple of months ago…

Except, Dulcie the 1st, who was eventually replaced by her niece Dulcie the 2nd, recently caused Bookwitch to receive a contact email from someone who could turn into Dulcie the 3rd, if her name wasn’t something else.

And I know none of this makes sense. I’m merely reminiscing. There was a Russian spy – whose name I forget – in there too.

Trekking

OK, so it’s reasonably acceptable to be a Trekkie, isn’t it? I mean, it’s more than being a fan of a television show, and has escalated to an obsession within the hearts of, well, quite a few fans. We know this.

While the cat’s away – i.e. while the Resident IT Consultant treks round a few Swiss mountains – I have been mainlining NCIS. It’s not that he doesn’t watch or like it. But he doesn’t obsess, or feel the need to watch an episode again. And again. (Train videos are something else, obviously.) He has the same restraint I have regarding NCIS: Los Angeles. I like it and don’t object to the odd repeat, but there is no craving. And I wouldn’t dream of watching a Good Wife episode again. I think…

So what am I? Is there a good word for an NCIS obsession? Trekkie is such a marvellous term.

Ziva, DiNozzo and Gibbs

I feel it calms me down, watching an old episode. Or six, or twelve. And I suspect you can’t have this kind of relationship with lots of shows. More than one, maybe. But it’s like favourite food; you don’t even need to stop and consider what you’re about to eat/watch. You just do.

And I’d like a term for it.

But while most people will know Star Trek, even if they never watch, I have a sneaking suspicion that despite NCIS being the number one in America, it’s still not a household show title.

Cole and Gibbs

And by adding another sentence here I was able to add another picture… Obsessed? Moi?

Gibbs

(Photos © CBS)

Old fogeys at Fästningsterrassen

They don’t want old fogeys like me and GP Cousin at Fästningsterrassen in Varberg. And to be perfectly honest, we don’t want them there either.

I like new edgy architecture as much as the next person, and unlike GP Cousin, I thought the new, rusty metal lift looked pretty good. I suspect Hamlet himself would have liked it, had he seen what’s been done to his castle.

What’s more, now that I’ve visited, I can – almost – see how you could achieve most of what the new management want, while keeping the fogeys mostly satisfied as well. Or at least not making them wish they’d died before seeing the ruins of this cultural heritage.

Because that’s really the point; ruining a traditional setting that ought to have been protected by law. I don’t mind poncy new restaurants wanting to fleece their customers by charging twice as much for food and drink than it warrants, or doing so in newly designed premises. If I feel like being fleeced, I can totally see myself going some place like that.

What I object to is that they were allowed near one of the most beautiful places on the Swedish west coast, that they were allowed to strip it down completely, and then that they didn’t even get a decent design job done in the ruins. So far, there is no paving down where people expect to sit. It’s been two years since the old place closed, and heavy diggers sitting around is not the look you want when fleecing.

The toilets… Yes, a definite improvement on the old portaloo behind the stage. But if that architect had thought a little, there could have been space made for the toilet paper dispenser and the waste bin and the customer. You know, without the need to hold your breath and cross your arms in front of you.

I admit, the prawn sandwich was as great as always. Great in size, and great for flavour. Great in price, as well, obviously. The cake was bought in, and not local. It seemed identical to what you find in many other overpriced cafés. Fogeys notice this kind of thing, whereas I suspect the preferred beautiful young customers wouldn’t have a clue and couldn’t care less.

Friendly service, even towards old fogeys. I might visit once a year, for the view, and for the prawns. And I wish them well. I’d hate for my beloved Fästnings-terrass to have been ruined for no good reason.