Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Harry Potter poll

I've just found out that Blogger now allows you to post polls on your blog (for all I know, this facility has existed for months, but I've only just discovered it, so bear with me and my excitement).

I love stats and couldn't resist putting together a little poll. I chose Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as I'm in the process of reading the book at the moment.

So go on, click away and let us know if you're a Harry Potter fan or not.

Mmmmm smoothies

I made this just now and was reminded of how scrumptious it is. I thought I'd share it with you, as it's really easy to make and is great for breakfast.

Banana, lemon, honey and yogurt smoothie

2 large bananas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
300 ml low fat natural yogurt
300 ml milk
Lemon and banana slices and/or springs of fresh mins leaves to garnish

Step 1
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve. That's it :-)

Step 2 (optional)
Pour into glasses and garnish with lemon slices, banana slices and fresh mint leaves, if used.

And for those of you who had breakfast several hours ago and are already thinking of their mid-morning snack, here's another one of my faves.

Strawberry slush with mango and lime

1 ripe mango or 1 cup frozen or canned mango pieces
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
6 large strawberries
6 ice cubes
sparkling water
honey or sugar, to taste

Step 1
Blend the mango, then add the lime zest and juice, and the strawberries. Blend some more.

Step 2
Add the ice cubes and blend to a froth. Add enough sparkling water to make the mixture to the consistency you prefer.

Step 3
Add honey or sugar. Serve and enjoy!

BSG vs. Star Trek

I first read this post in Sarah's blog and laughed so much I asked her if I could re-publish it in mine, as many of my friends are into Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek or both. I hope you like it as much as I did.

My comments are in purple.

In the latest of our household Trek vs. Galactica debates, I questioned why there are no hot guys on Star Trek. Each Trek has at least one hot female character, but the male characters? Not so much. The B-Star G has Apollo, Helo, and Anders [Tinsie fans herself furiously at this point]. The three of them are solidly in the realm of superhotness. And then? The "lesser" characters like Baltar, the Chief, and Gaeta aren't terribly hard on the eyes either. Clearly humanity is going to make it, having managed to save all the hot people when the Cylons nuked civilization. (Which raises one of my major beefs with the Cylons, actually: How come all the female Cylon models are smoking, while the males are all "ehhh"? Six: hot [more furious fanning]. Boomer: hot. Three: hot. Cavil: old. Doral: balding [Poor man's Kevin Spacey]. Simon: could be hot if we saw him longer than 3 seconds. Leoben: the Leobens are the best-looking male Cylon model, but they've got that hot-in-a-creepy-way thing going on.)

Perhaps if Star Trek introduced Hot Off-Duty Tank Tops like BSG, we'd know whether anyone had a good body under their yicky 80's spandex. Alas, spandex seems to be the clothing for all occasions. The Trek may be uber-popular scifi, but it doesn't have a history of doing much for its female viewers.

I rank the various Star Treks in terms of guy hotness:

*** no ranking *** Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Now, this is the Trek it's been the longest since I've seen. Therefore I'm not going to pass judgment at this time. I will say, though, that I've gone through the main characters to refresh my memory, and no one jumps out at me as hot. Bashir is cute [awww I do like Alexander Siddig], but not my type. Eventually I will Netflix these and determine at that time if anyone surprises, and jumps out at me as hot.

4. Star Trek: The Next Generation. I think the following conversation sums this one up:
Mike: But didn't you think Picard was totally attractive? [Picard?!!]
Me: Eeeeeew! [Eeeeeew indeed]
Mike: I mean, because of the power, and the voice. You didn't find him attractive?
Me: Eeeeew he's old! But I think I did have a mini-crush on Riker when I was a kid, and a girl-crush on Counselor Troi. [Counselor Troi was a hottie, I'll give you that]
Mike: Ew, Riker?
So, yeah, not a lot of hotties on TNG. Everyone's stubbornly average. And Riker doesn't do it for me anymore. Sorry, TNG. I like you, but you're Not Hot.

3. Star Trek: Enterprise. We've watched through Season 2 of Enterprise on Netflix, and this was what prompted the whole discussion. They don't wear spandex on Enterprise, which can only be counted as a good thing. The guys have T'Pol [female Spock?], who is always having to be wiped down in the weird decontamination gel room. Plus Hoshi is also cute. But for the girls? Archer: average. Malcolm: average. Travis: I thought he was cute when he got his own episode, but he always has that "gee whiz!" expression on his face, which is Not Hot. Trip: He seems to get laid the most, and from his decon gel scenes has a pretty good body (which is under a jumpsuit all the time!), but I'd rank him "cute but not hot." Plus his southern hick accent is off-putting to me.

2. Star Trek: The Original Series. This series features Captain Kirk as the ultimate space pimp. The Shatner at that age is pretty good-looking [oh yes!] But no one else is cute. So I guess this Trek is getting its rating purely for the Space Pimp Factor.

1. Star Trek: Voyager. Clearly the winner. I watch Voyager on SpikeTV every afternoon, and therefore consider myself qualified to declare it the Hottest Trek. Tom Paris is a total cutie [not bad, but he's no Jamie Bamber]. Chakotay? Hot. In an older man with bad-ass facial tattoo kind of way. I don't know, am I alone out there with this one? Whatever. Chakotay is hot. Ensign Kim is not entirely uncute, either. Congratulations, Star Trek: Voyager, and thank you!

Back to reality with a thud

Greece was great - sunny and hot - just perfect for lounging by the pool or swimming in the sea.

England, on the other hand, is just as miserable and wet as I left it. At least Harry Potter is keeping me company.

I can hear the rain outside. It's been pouring down all evening. I wish I was sailing round the Med on a pirate ship instead. Is there a spell for this kind of thing, I wonder?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Greenwich à la française

After the end of the race, we entertained ourselves by pretending we were in France. A number of stalls were set up selling pastries, cakes, bread, sausages, cheese, crepes and olives, as well as Tour de France memorabilia. They were all hugely popular with the punters, who liked nothing more than being able to buy food that's fresh and tasty (something not always possible in London) without having to shell out for a Eurostar ticket. There were several French people around and many that weren't French but did their best to look the part, sporting stripy T-shirts and carrying their baguettes with real pizzazz. The atmosphere had a certain je ne sais quoi that you don't see in Greenwich on a regular Sunday.

I hovered around the stalls taking photos and couldn't help but notice that the pains au chocolat were the first go. I didn't have any, but can report that the boules de campagne and the pains aux raisins were really yummy!

Tick tock one day to go!

I've just watched the trailer for the new Harry Potter firm, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is being released in the UK tomorrow. It looks really good, much more exciting than the previous films, and I can't wait!

You can watch the trailer here.

Any more Harry Potter fans out there?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Fifteen minutes before the tour was due to depart Greenwich for Canterbury, I joined the crowds patiently waiting to cheer the cyclists on. The event was much more popular than I thought it'd be - I had to walk for a good 10 minutes along the route before I could find a little gap to squeeze in without having to climb on anything, stand on one foot or crouch.

At 11 AM on the dot, a colourful pack of 189 riders zooooooooomed past in no more than 10 seconds. They were followed by the distinctive team cars with spare bikes on their roofs, and a selection of cyclists who (I'm told) aren't competing, but simply follow the tour for fun.

The whole thing was over in just a few minutes and I think the crowd were stunned. The main event for which Londoners line the streets is the London marathon, and that goes on for hours on end. We weren't quite prepared for the speed of cycling, and standing so close to the start line certainly didn't help.

Oh well, I'll know to go further away next time!

Click here for more photos from Stage One.

Greenwich en Fête and the red giraffes

Curiosity got the better of me on Sunday morning (good job I'm not a cat) and I headed for Greenwich, where the first stage of the Tour de France would depart from. Having stood around the streets of London for a few hours the day before, I felt I'd seen enough men in lycra to last me another few years, by which time the Tour de France might return to London anyway. Then I thought, perhaps it won't, or perhaps next time it will be pouring with rain or freezing cold, so I'd better enjoy it now when the weather's glorious - a minor miracle, as we've not had two days as lovely as last weekend for over a month.

What I didn't know (and would have sped up the decision process no end if I had known) was that Greenwich was attempting to inject some real Tour de France flavour into the day by hosting Greenwich en Fête, an event with street performers and an open-air picnic with a French twist. As I got out of the train station, I came face-to-face with this:

No, we'd not been taken over by funny-shaped aliens. The red giraffes are the trademark of street-theatre group Compagnie Off, which combines circus and opera to create stunning street performances. This one is an animal operetta aptly named Les Girafes.

The performance certainly is spectacular, but what's most impressive is that the giant giraffes and the revolving stand are all manually operated by the troupe. Quite literally, they were pulling the strings that made it all happen.

I know I often complain that my job sucks, but there is worse out there. I mean, really, would you like to be them? I know I wouldn't.

Particularly when I saw what happens if a giraffe topples over. Thankfully, I don't think anyone was hurt, but what a bump that must have been!

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Since I'm still in Tour de France mode, how about a French-style breakfast? You can't beat café crème served with croissants - unless it's served with croissants, pains au chocolate, freshly squeezed orange juice, yoghurt, fresh bread and Bon Maman jam :-)

Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Allez allez!

For the first time in its 104-year history, the Tour de France came to London this weekend. Luckily enough, the wet and miserable weather of the last couple of weeks appears to have eased off, so the 500,000 people that filled the streets to watch the prologue this morning were able to enjoy some beautiful (and much-awaited) sunshine. Thank God for that, as it could so easily have been a washout.

For the dedicated sun-seekers, it was possible to watch the race from the comfort of a lounger, as there were big screens dotted around London's parks.

This being a major world event, and the anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, there was a lot of police around - both British and the French Gendarmerie, who looked quite impressive arriving en masse at Whitehall.

First, the sponsors' floats and random cyclists went through London.

Then the prologue (individual time trial) started at 3 pm. It was almost impossible to take decent pictures as the cyclists were literally wizzing past, competing for the top place and the maillot jaune - the leader's yellow jersey, which was won by Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland. You can see more photos here.

I wish I had a flat right on the route of the prologue, as this guy does. It's much more civilised than standing around on the sidelines.

Stage 1 will take place tomorrow with a 203km sprint & climb between Greenwich and Canterbury. Allez allez and good luck to all!