Tea out

I’m hard to please. Let’s just get that out in the open. But I’m also quite happy with the simple things in life. Like that hot milk I’m going to tell you about. It was better than the ‘fancy’ afternoon tea in the Glasgow hotel I went to last week.

And I don’t object to overbaked ‘kladdkaka’ as long as the people selling it calls it chocolate cake, which is what it is. For it to be ‘kladd’ anything, you will have had nerves of steel and removed the cake from the oven when it still looks like dark brown soup. I’m afraid I recently wrote to the very attractive Oxford restaurant where we had a really enjoyable Easter lunch and shared my tip of sitting in front of the oven as the cake cooks. That way you are less likely to end up with the oxymoron that is dry kladdkaka.

I’ve not heard back!

The very same day, I had been treated to an unexpected elevenses in a Danish style café – Ole & Steen – also in Oxford. Not being very hungry – which is so not like me – I chose a plain (hah) kransekage. It was small, but larger than the ones I’m used to. It was divine! I am plotting ways to return and have another one. I mean, what’s seven hours on the train if you can eat such perfection?

Unlike the afternoon tea at the hotel in central Glasgow, that I will leave nameless. I liked the hotel and where it was. I enjoyed my long chat with Pippi who was over in Scotland again. The tea was cheap, at around £12. But oh, what dreadful sandwiches! Nice enough scone, but not the jam. The little cakes tasted better than they looked, but then I had low expectations. The tea was on the strong and cold side.

Having said all this, I would go back. It was a convenient and nice place to meet.

In Berlin last month Daughter and I struggled to find suitable words – in German – to get across our wish for black tea, that we wished to un-black with milk. Cold milk, please. The first afternoon brought green tea with no milk until Daughter popped back inside and asked. She returned to our pavement table bearing a jug of beautifully warmed milk! After pondering the possibilities, I poured some hot milk into my green tea. It was seriously weird, but almost OK when taken with cake.

And it had us in paroxysms of laughter when we thought about it afterwards.

By now you will have worked out I am a nightmare guest for tea, so I give you the new café in Stirling’s King Street; Loving Food. Had a gorgeous scone there the other day. One of the best I’ve had.

I also reckon it will be easier for me to go to again, unlike Ole & Steen…

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Washing and watching

Understandably Daughter and I don’t talk NCIS as much as we did. What with it having been something of a wash-out and that. She watches it sooner than I do, though. ‘I do the washing up and watch at the same time,’ she explained.

Now me, I can’t do that, however bad. It’s strictly one thing at a time. So for weeks on end this spring NCIS was kept in recorded format. Kept. Not watched. Until we suddenly did, as I felt some catching up might be warranted. The Resident IT Consultant didn’t mind as much as I’d thought he would, and when we’d caught up the other day, he expressed an interest in watching some more. I told him there was no more.

We watched Big Bang Theory instead.

But it gives me a little hope that the last two episodes won’t be washing-up material. The last couple were just about enjoyable, meaning that both the writing and the directing were OK-ish. Even the acting. And now everyone knows Gibbs’s dark secret.

Will that bother them? Or is there to be no cliffhanger this May? Can they fashion one out of nothing, or will they dig up some old stuff? I mean, one can actually go off for the summer break with not a single cliff in sight.

Because there is a season 17 coming… While Gibbs will be a mere 61, Mark Harmon is going to reach 68, and he ought to be retired. As an agent, if not an actor.

Following more money

It’s been good to be back with the people of Bedrag/Follow the Money. If by good you mean that it’s good stuff to watch, not that it feels good. It feels dreadful. There is very little – is there anything? – that stands for promise.

Well, hair is good. I’m glad to see Nicky grew some during his time in Spain. He might be an ‘unpleasant little shit’ but hair helps, for those who have it. He’s lonely, but he has family, and sort of friends.

Alf, on the other hand, is lonely in such an awful way that you feel Wallander was all happiness and sunshine. I thought it was bad seeing him sleepless and alone at ‘home’ but seeing him try to build an IKEA wardrobe? With the drawer refusing to work…

Bedrag 3

I understand that for UK viewers it looks interestingly bleak and Danish, and presumably suitably different from their own lives. But I see only some place where I might have lived, not even managing to swear at a misbehaving drawer.

Don’t quite remember how things were left at the end of the second season. Were Nicky and Alf the only people left standing? Did the others quietly sign themselves out?

Anna at the bank, who understandably wants some action after 25 uneventful years at her desk, is awful, but at the same time you find yourself rooting for her. Wanting her money laundering to go well.

Perhaps that’s the charm? We watch Bedrag and turn into thieves, the lot of us, with some gratuitous bad language and violence on top. It’s anything but relaxing.

To LA or not to LA, that is the question

I’m feeling the pressure here, guys. Every Monday without fail, my stats explode. People clearly want to read my thoughts on the latest episode of NCIS: Los Angeles. And I rarely deliver. At least not with such speed.

To be perfectly open with you, I have the last six episodes just sitting here, waiting for my attention. I can’t decide if I’m going to watch, or if now is the time to give up. The whole show has gone silly.

Perhaps that is what my readers want confirmed? Or are we supposed to celebrate together, delirious with happiness over Deeks and Kensi getting married? Yes, I know they are. Social media has been all over this wedding.

It’s hard to decide. Or rather, I wonder if or when I will regret stopping. But I think back to NCIS: New Orleans. I carried on until Christmas. That’s the first Christmas. Then I stopped, half-heartedly believing I might start again if I grew bored. I haven’t yet. And I discovered recently that they are on season five, or some such impossible number!

Sam, Deeks, Kensi and Callen

I have invested a lot in LA. They grew on me. I carried on because the characters became my friends. I carried on when it became really far too silly. They rallied a little, and were temporarily better than big brother NCIS. And more recently they were not.

Not in the slightest. It’s become such an embarrassment I wonder the actors don’t refuse to work.

I’m being harsh, I know. But really, this is letting the fans down. It really is.

When I look at the piled up episodes, I feel no curiosity, which is usually how one gives in and starts again.

Roger Whittaker is 83!

       Happy 83rd Birthday, Roger!

Roger Whittaker in Hanover 2007

The photo is from Hannover 2007. It’s hard to believe that’s twelve years ago.

Yeah, baby

Do CBS scriptwriters not know the facts of life? The birds and the bees, and stuff like that?

In this week’s Bull Marissa’s husband – whom I can’t take to, no matter what – has opened her mail. He has found she has had her eggs frozen and wants to know if she wants a baby.

I can find no sensible reason for the frozen eggs, but never mind that for the time being. But when he reckons they might try for a baby, Marissa says they can’t. He has to go and artificially inseminate her frozen eggs!

But they have all the equipment they need, right there, in the marital bed!

It’s as with Palmer and Mrs Palmer in NCIS. They were going to start married life giving a home to a needy child, so instead of making their own baby, they enter into a contract with a surrogate mother.

Something’s wrong here.

The Hate U Give

Recently I have been mentioning Angie Thomas a bit over on Bookwitch. Before Saturday’s EIBF event with her, I wanted to read her books, and ended up reading the second one and watching the film of the first book on DVD. I thought this would be efficient use of my time. One problem now is that I liked the film so much that I might need to read the book too.

Having read On the Come Up, I felt that The Hate U Give exactly mirrored Angie’s writing. I almost sat there nodding my head in agreement with everything, as though I was reading the book. Knowing how most films are not exactly like the novels they are based on, I should probably treat the film with a little pinch of salt. And then read the book.

The Hate U Give

A refreshingly black film, I was aware that I don’t know much at all. I’ve no experience of the lives the characters lead, and it was often hard to hear what they were saying. But that’s me, not them. Just as fans of the books like the fact that the characters speak like them, that goes for the film as well.

The Carter family live in a poor, black neighbourhood, but ambition for their children means that all three are sent to the mostly white school further away. As the main character Starr says, she’s another person when she’s at school. She has to be. And Starr does it so well that none of her friends have an inkling what her real life is like.

Starr is with a childhood friend when he is shot and killed by the police. Her whole life changes. She doesn’t know what to do or whose advice she should take, but eventually she realises she needs to stand up for her friend and do ‘the right thing.’

It’s a bleak situation, handled very well. As Angie said, she needs triumph to balance the trauma, so it’s not all negative. But to stay true to what so many black people face every day, this feels like a hopeless situation. You shouldn’t have to spend every day in fear of what the police will do if they ‘notice’ you. Except this is reality for millions in America.

THE HATE U GIVE

Starr’s family are not perfect, but they work together. Her dad has been in jail, and her mum is another strong mother, just like Bri’s in On the Come Up. There are friends, neighbours, an uncle, even the local crooks.

I rather wish they had not made Starr’s white boyfriend* look like a Republican senator-to-be, but other than that this film was pretty perfect. It’s certainly an eye-opener. The question is whether those who need to see it, will.

(Photo © Erika Doss)

*I understand that the original actor was dropped because he made racist remarks. That proves how necessary books and films like this one are.