Monday, 14 April 2014

Jekyll Vs Hyde FC

Hyde FC, bottom of the conference table. Not just bottom but adrift by 23 points from the next team and 36 away from Chester, were unlucky not to get something from this game. Much to the dismay of the Chester fans the referee, who was slightly older than my last haircut, didn't help matters with a truly woeful performance.

Chester with 25 mins or so to play were 3-0 to the good. Granted some of the goals were slightly fortuitous (the second was just so funny), but 3-0 up and to be then hanging on desperately and so badly was scary, like watching a horror movie from behind a cushion.

Bodies all over the pitch, the referee losing control and stopping the game. We think because he wasn't sure what to do! The red card was going to come and of course it didn't help matters and encouraged the Hyde team to keep trying. They scored from two free kicks taken virtually from the same spot.

However all in all it was certainly entertaining but I've never enjoyed Horror as genre and although comedy does have its place I'd prefer it not to be on the pitch. Four games to play and nightmares all the way.......

More importantly on a crisp sunny, threatening rain, day the Stadia version of Holland's Peppered Steak was the pie of choice and didn't let us down. Premiership taste and style unlike the football !

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Pies with the Black Stuff: Holland's & Guinness®

Holland's Steak & Guinness® Top Crust Pie

Armed with baggy trousers and an empty belly we headed for The Albert Square Chop House in Manchester  for pie sampling courtesy of Holland's Pies. It was introduced and guided by the knowledgeable pie maker, author and chef Mr Tom Bridges. As ever his insight was informative and interesting. Our previous encounter with Mr Bridges inspired us to make our own !!

Mr Tom Bridges -  Chef, Author and Pie Master
The original invite, we presumed, was with some belated reference to St Patricks day but no, this was to do with the new collaboration with the manufacturers of the black stuff itself, Guinness® !!! The black stuff being in the Pie, most excellent.

Six varieties were provided and tasted, the stand out of which for me was the Holland's Steak and Guinness® Pudding. I mention this as puddings of this type have not been a big favourite before. This is not to say that the others weren't nice, they were, as many comments below will testify to, but this surprised and changed my taste buds.

Holland's Steak & Guinness® Pudding
In full we tasted Hollands Steak and Guiness® Pie. Not yet available but absolutely delicious with deep dark tasty gravy and beef to melt in your mouth. 
Hollands Steak & Guinness® Pudding - Another from the new collaboration with Guinness® and perhaps for me a surprising favourite on the night. I have not been previously a great fan of Puddings but this was gorgeous with a moist pastry that suited the contents perfectly. 

Steak and Guinness® Top Crust Pie. A meal in itself with carrots mushroom and beef soaked in Guinness .....

The Limited Edition Heroes Pie was next and this has been produced in  recognition of the start of the great war and in doing so harks back to ingredients and the style of the day. I found it bordering on the spicy
 and very eatable !!

Another surprise for me was the Pub Classics Chicken and Ham Pie. Not my favourite meat to have in a pie but this with its creamy sauce and encrusted Thyme made for a taste bud tremor.

Again from the Pub Classic range the newly released Peppered Steak. This is different from the stadia version or other versions we have tried from Hollands and although the last to taste it was a leader amongst Pies. The added pepper encrusting on the top gives that extra hit which makes this a top pie and we would give it the Hilda accolade of "I didn't know cow could taste so nice" 

A big thank you to the Hollands team, Guinness®, Tom Bridges and the Albert Square Chop House staff for an excellent evening. 

Mike Peters, Live Rooms - Chester

Eyes of the Hurricane, The Mighty Mike Peters, Live Rooms Chester

Our second visit to see the mighty Mike Peters in as many weeks on the Declaration tour. This time it was our first visit to the newly revamped and named Live RoomsWhich meant we could go to the gig, have a drink and walk home, a rare pleasure.

Our experience tonight was great. For watching bands the venue will be pretty good. Liked the upstairs balcony area for respite and a different view. Didn't like the bar prices and the quality of the liquid served. It was a tad overpriced and pretty poor quality even by plastic glass gig standards. However it is something they can improve upon and all others aspects of the revitalised venue was great. Look forward to going again soon and have bought tickets to do just that.

As it was the same tour the format and the set list were going to be pretty much the same but straight from the get go Mr Peters mixed it up a bit and by way of introduction encouraged people to shout out requests. Which they duly did and he duly responded straight away. 

This first set was different to Islington and one of the highlights for me was the version of "Deeside" which given the location was obviously well received. The lines "A little bit of love, a little bit of hope, a little bit of strength, some fuel for the fire" was particular poignant and apt tonight, for the two of us attending. 

Other songs which stood out were "Walk Forever" and "Blaze of Glory" which made us ponder on the past, the present and look forward to the future with our "Heads held up High". A great night all in all and for a variety of reasons one of the best gigs we've ever been to!!! A big thanks to MP, The MPO, Live Rooms and Jules who we chatted to at the end.

Georgio and Jules, Live Rooms Chester

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Fontenot Effect

The Fontenot Effect takes hold ........Lets Swamp and Roll
Recently had the great pleasure to combine attending the Lymestone Brewery 20/20 festival in Stone and celebrate a friends birthday. Quite apart from the vast array of interesting and delicious brews on offer we got to listen, dance, strut, boogie, stomp, holler and make merry to the best Cajun Zydeco sounds east or west of the Trent.

Musical entertainment for the night was provided by the wonderful Elvis Fontenot and the Sugar Bees. It is our second, welcome, opportunity to enjoy the energy and enthusiasm that they infect the audience with.

They basically set up on a stage amidst the huge metal vats of brewing nectar and played two sets. The first set was a great start and even saw the birthday boy trip the light fandango with a solo performance.

However the second set saw them get into their stride and seduce the audience away from the beer to work it off on the dance floor. It is difficult not to want to get up and start jigging about like a demented electrified marionette when the Fontenots get into their stride.

I didn't keep track of their set list because I was too busy enjoying the night but can vaguely recall Sweet Zydeco Music, Hot Tamale Baby, Dirty Old Dog, Dance Dance Dnace, All day Long, Whiskey or God, Bosso....amongst many others. Check out their album "Three", released April 1st last year and well worth a purchase.

Here we go one last time 
Must give special mention to Lilleys Crazy Goat cider which, after a nice Plum Porter to start the evening with, I didn't stray from. I was having such a good time I forgot to try out the PIES that were on offer.....disaster. Special mention to Lymestone Brewery staff who were excellent (before and during the event) and the friendly Fontenots, who gave a special mention to our birthday boy, when playing their superb version of the Tom Wait song " I don't wanna grow up" which was the icing on the cake. 

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Capital Day

Just a shadow of the man you could be....
Last day of our trip to London saw some cracking weather and the last two standing enjoying the glorious weather with a stroll around the many sights that the capital has to offer. What a fantastic place London is, hideously expensive to us country bumpkins but great nonetheless. 

Watching the world go by and enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes with no itinerary to adhere to was just simply great. 

Wandered at our leisure where the wind and the crowds took us (usually away from the crowds after a short while!). As ever enjoyed the Soutbank and strolling up Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and all the other small side streets and gardens  discovering new places to eat and drink!

After buying a day ticket for the mole highway we actually walked everywhere finally ending up back at Euston to meet up with some visiting Warrington Wolves fans for a libation before heading home tired and very happy. Happy birthday Baggers a fantastic weekend, can't wait to do it again!!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Pie n Mash

Beef, Bacon & Red Wine Pie
After a trip to the Emirates and a pretty awful time on the tube, sustenance was required on our recent London jaunt. We stepped out of the Mole highway at the delightful Tower Hill. With it's views of the Tower, Thames and Shard it was welcome change to the armpits of the sweaty on the life sucking Mole highway.

After a brief period chillin and catching up with messages it was decided to alter plans. Repairing to a nearby public hostelry for a libation was  a very wise and welcome decision. We chose the Minories Pub only a minutes walk away. Finding Peroni on draught was a welcome start to our respite. Comfy seating with plenty of room, no overbearing music and sport on the huge TVs meant we settled in quite quickly.

Further discussion of the day led us to decide to stop and eat, as there seemed to be a reasonable choice which included PIE. After much debate, discussion and consideration all of us went for the Beef, Bacon & Red Wine Pie pictured above. Encased in shortcrust pastry it came with buttery mash, some green stuff and a serving of gravy to cover everything with.

Some comments were noted about the dryness of the pastry in part and the fullness of the pie content but overall I think the consensus of opinion was that this pie hit the spot. The meat and gravy content was tasty, the mash wasn't school lumpy and overall we would definitely repeat the choice given the opportunity.

The Market Porter

Suitably refreshed we then headed out for a bimble across and along the River Thames stopping occasionally for some much needed refreshment  in some delightful spots, the Market Porter being a memorable one. 

Although I would definitely recommend avoiding the Brown Cow beer mmmmmm On this particular evening the  weather was very kind, almost balmy and made strolling around very enjoyable. London at night lit up looked fantastic and as a backdrop would be hard to beat.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Gooners Day

The continuing birthday celebration of Bilbo Baggins led our happy band to the Emirates stadium in North London to watch the Gooners take on the mighty blues of Everton in the 6th Round of the FA Cup.

An early kick off (12:45pm) saw us up and out promptly from the hotel on a sunny glorious day in London. This seemed to put most people in a good mood. The stadium is magnificent even if the result was not so good!!! Plenty of room and great facilities it is massive step up from some the pits we've been to in the past. 

Depite the fact that three of our party are blues and the odd one out is a red (Liverpool kind), we still had a good time, in with the Arsenal faithful. One criticism though of the ground was that they ran out of Pies which is unforgivable !!!!!

Declaration 2014

In celebration of a special birthday, a gathering of cestrians was convened in sunny London to attend the Mike Peters, "Declaration" 2014 tour. The venue was the 02 Academy Islington and the tour is supporting the just released Declaration album, which celebrates the 30th anniversary of the original release by revisiting it with new versions and ideas.

The evening consisted of two sets, with the first being a meander through the extensive back catalogue of the Alarm and Mike Peters. This is a blistering start to what promises to be a great evening. For one of the hardest working men in rock and roll, Mr Peters voice is a little ropey to start off with but quickly gets up to speed with some help from the audience. Each of the songs is punctuated with chat which is interesting, funny and not too long.  of this section my personal favourites were hearing Breathe and Across The Border.

After a short break for 10 mins the second set starts and is devoted to playing the original Declaration album track list in it's entirety.  However there is a noticeable departure in the style, arrangements and lyrics of how these songs are played. Some are as good as and some are even better than the original. I suppose that will be down to individual choice but my absolutely favourite of the new interpretations is Shout To the Devil  the backing riff  of which had been banging around in my head since I heard the new album.

The whole of evening was enhanced by the use of three mics for the vocals,  a drum, mandolin, a variety of harmonicas, loops, samples sounds (?) and ONE excellent guitar. It gave the performance a little breadth and power without having a full band. The crowd were fairly lively and it was great to see Eddie Macdonald/Gaz Top enjoying the gig as well from the side.

I have had the pleasure and good fortune to hear Mr Peters live in various disguises for nearly 30 years as the Alarm, MP & Poets, DMW, Coloursound, with BIG C, and on his own in all sorts of settings. Of his solo performances this was a stand out one. After finishing with a rousing version of Blaze Of Glory  he went off before returning to finish with some cracking encores as you can see from the set list below.

The venue was sold out but not uncomfortable and Mr Peters was in tip top form marching on to a level most could only aspire to. Thanks to Mr P and all the MPO team for an absolutely cracking night.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Everton 3, Swansea 1, Pie 2

An excellent afternoon watching the Toffees overcome the Swans in the FA Cup on a sunny but cold day at Goodison. The match was preceded by a minutes silence for the late Sir Tom Finney. A laboured performance overall by Everton which started incredibly well, with new loan signing Lancia Delta (Lacina Traore), scoring with a deft back heeled flick in under 4 mins.

Swansea equalised fairly soon after that and it became difficult for Everton from then on. Silly errors and giving the ball away cheaply followed until the second half introduction of Osman and Naismith whose presence led to two more goals to win in a less then convincing style.

To celebrate, a belated lunch was taken with Steak Pukka Pie from a local chippy and excellent it was, easily outperforming Swansea by a long way. Bring on the Gooners.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Year of the Horse

Happy New Year ! by Idreamofpies
Happy New Year !, a photo by Idreamofpies on Flickr.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Liverpool with parades, dragons, wibbly worms, firecrackers, smiles, fortune cookies, dad dancing and some food !! An excellent time at the Chinatown festivities. Lots of people , music, colour, rides sights and sounds on a weather blessed day, brilliant.

Food was a bit of a scrum and a bit pricey compared to our last visit but we did find a new place for coffee and cake in town ...nosh and coffee. Bit of a shop for the ladies but not too demanding, before home and a cascade of chocolate mmmmm. No pie was consumed but we still had a ggod time.