Friday, August 31, 2007

Last Of The Summer Whine

It's official. The wettest summer since 1956. Experts say "floods could return". Heck, anyone could have figured that out. How about a government grant to figure out if other naturally occurring weather patterns could return. Dibs on snow.

Keith Groves, head of forecaster in the Met Office, stated that "this summer has been very wet and very disappointing for most." What he actually means is everyone but because he's a weather forecaster, he can't say anything with certainty. I bet you can't find one person who thought the weather was fantastic.

Anger at the Government for not reacting fast enough, Gordon Brown stated that they were "funding a resilient nationwide network of control centres automatically backing each other up in times of need such as high volumes of calls."

You see, people don't want flood protection. They just want to moan to a switchboard operator when their household goods are floating in their back garden.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Knocked Up

Judd Apatow's career will be cemented with his latest film Knocked Up after writing and directing yet another comedy winner following last years 40 Year Old Virgin.

Knocked Up is a mix of high-brow schmaltz comedy and romantic drama starring Ben, played by Seth Rogen (Donnie Darko, Ron Burgundy) and Alison, played by Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy), who forge a relationship based on Ben knocking her up in a one night stand.

Ben is a stoner slob who lives with four of his loser friends and Alison is an up and coming talent on the E! Entertainment show who lives with her sister and husband. Ben and his buddies head out on the razz and Alison is out with her sister celebrating a promotion from behind to in front of the camera.

The inevitable happens and eight weeks later, Ben is shocked when Alison meets him and reveals that she is pregnant. The film is based up their incompatibility wherein a lot of the laughs come from as they decide to be a couple and establish some sort of relationship for the benefit of the impending baby.

The film works an interesting angle on the romantic comedy genre by not treading previous ground seen in a dozen films of the last few years probably because the main girl is not being pursued because she is, well, knocked up, and the protagonist must woo her in other ways from the norm.

The jokes are plentiful and I was laughing out loud at numerous times as the pace of the film is spot on, mixing comedy and drama to create a film that is both hilarious and sentimental.

I highly recommend going to see this while it's in the cinema.

This film gets 8.3 pregnancy tests out of 10.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bank Holiday Weekend

The bank holiday weekend got off to a great start with a staff BBQ on the roof terrace on Friday lunchtime and despite the lack of sunshine, it was warm enough for everyone to sit outside and enjoy themselves. We agreed that, weather permitting, another BBQ should be held in September but as we edge towards autumn, it's the strength of the sunshine that has to hold up its side of the bargain.

That afternoon was much more enjoyable as the dullness had cleared to leave a blue sky with small fluffy white clouds and a few of us finished up early and sat upstairs with glasses of wine.

Leaving prematurely to make it home in time for the rugby match, we settled in front of the TV to watch Ireland thrash Italy in their first game in Ravenhill since the 1950's. What we witnessed was one the worst Ireland performances in the last few years and they struggled against a far weaker side and stole the game 23-20 in the final minute. If they play like this in the World Cup, it will be disastrous.

Saturday was the second day of the Hilden Brewery beer festival and we all met up in Central Station to make our way towards Lisburn. It was another day that could go either way weather-wise although the prediction was for a decent afternoon. We hopped off at the Hilden stop and followed a small crowd in front of us as they walked the few minutes up the road to the brewery.

Not too many people had arrived yet and we were afforded pick of the seats in the central aisle with a view of the stage. Unlike the Belfast beer festival, there were no flyer's with a list of beer available so we had choose quickly at the bar. As usual at these events, the best way to sample most beers is to purchase halves but also because they end up filling two-thirds of the glass so you get more for your money too.

I was lucky not to get a beer I didn't like and half-way through I choose a cider to refresh the palette and give my taste-buds a change of pace. The first band to take the stage was Catch 23 and they were pretty non-offensive although we had to shout to make ourselves heard which we didn't appreciate. I got the feeling that the crowd would have preferred music over the P.A. system although it may have something to do with a legality about serving beer outside with an event such as live music.

It rained several times but it was light and didn't last long and the sun periodically appeared to boost our moral. Nevertheless, after some time, many beers tasted somewhat similar and it was time to hit the tracks.

On Sunday we went along to the Mela Festival in Botanic Park which is a celebration of ethnic minorities with a heavy influence of Indian culture. After making our way in, I was looking forward to checking out the stalls thinking there would be food and other interesting items to buy and take home with me. Boy was I sorely disappointed. High end disappointment stalls came in the forms of a Western Union, PSNI and one in particular advising what you could and couldn't put in your suitcase when going abroad. Another lackluster stall offered Tarot and Palm reading and a billion recalled Chinese toys looked like a safer bet.

An announcement came from the stage that the procession to the stage was about to start and around a dozen people playing instruments and dressed as performers made their way through the crowd to the stage where organisers talked about what a great day this would be and Martin McGuinness made a speech about inclusiveness and made a pun about the sash he was wearing. As the next speaker took over, I made my way to find some lunch. Again, I was disappointed. Despite there being several Indian food stalls, all they seemed to offer was basic offering of pakoras and spring rolls and such like. I was expecting unusual dishes to peak punters interest in foreign cuisine, not 2am Saturday night food.

The other stalls were selling Japanese food and another two offered western food such as burgers and crepes. I was no longer hungry so I bought some noodles and a salmon rice cake. As soon as had eaten them, I left. If you're looking for culinary inspiration, check out the Gourmet Garden in Botanic on 15/16 September.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Gamespot #56

Within A Deep Forest

This is a nifty little game that you can download to play at your own convenience.

Deep Forest is a platform game for featuring challenging gameplay, beautiful music, an evil doctor, and a deep forest.

Who needs anything else?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Northern Ireland 3-1 Liechtenstein

There were nerves for me at the start of this match because an easy victory is never taken for granted when Northern Ireland have a home match against a statistically inferior side. Our first dismal loss against Iceland reinforces this but luckily such fears evaporated quickly as we set a fantastic pace in the opening minutes.

Once again it was Healy's seemingly magic touch that put us ahead with a fantastic headed finish from Gillespie's cross although you wouldn't have noticed this from Jackie Fullerton's continuous monotonous voice - do people really appreciate his dulcet tones or are they too scared of a public backlash by criticising him?

Any fear of losing composure and allowing an equaliser were soon dismissed as the squad kept their ground and after a few great chances, were rewarded with another cracking Healy goal from 20 yards out.

In the second half, Northern Ireland started strongly again and thoughts of a hat trick were put on ice as Lafferty stepped up and scored with a good strike from 10 yards which was great to see and will hopefully add to his determination to do it again in a more difficult match.

There were several near misses and ruined opportunities in the later stages and Northern Ireland began to lose domination of the game. A loose defense allowed Liechtenstein to score a late goal in what should have been a clean sheet for Taylor.

Overall this is a good result for Northern Ireland and Nigel Worthington's first match as manager proved that the crowd and team are behind Sanchez' departure and looking to the future as they now sit second in the league table with their next match against Latvia.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Walk In The Park

Another beautiful day this morning and the walk through the park took a slight down-turn as I avoided the occasional broken bottles from last nights Tennants Vital gig although there was more dog droppings than glass. Hefty fines for both I think. Then again, who's there to enforce it? Should we pay for park wardens to cycle around the park all day following dog owners? I love the idea. "No bag madam? That's another £10 for that. Here you go, watch your fingers."

I took a longer detour home yesterday further up the Ormeau Road and the traffic was bumper to bumper. The Hatfield was heaving and there was hustle and bustle as I made my way through the throng. You always seem to get a different crowd at festival type gigs - I think a slightly younger crowd who normally don't go to regular gigs.

I could hear the music from the front of the house so I'm glad my living room is in the rear. At least tonight I can drown it out with the Northern Ireland vs Liechtenstein game. It should be an interesting match because we often screw games up when we're playing teams even worse than we are (Iceland) and with a new managers first game and an almost make-or-break qualification match, the heat is on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Swiiming Pool

Lou and I first watched this film in an open air theatre in Rotterdam. These are a great idea for a summer evenings anywhere and it's a shame it isn't done over here because I'm sure they would prove popular. However, they might not work for two reasons. First is the weather and our summer climate - can you guarantee it to be dry/warm enough to sit outside when it gets dark? Secondly is yobbish behaviour. If you can't sit through an ordinary screening without talking, what would it be like outside with mobile phones? Torture. But I digress.

Swimming Pool is the story of a murder mystery novelist Sarah Morton, who is a famous author of a series of inspector novels. Tired of life in London and seeking inspiration for a new novel in a different direction, she accepts an offer from her publisher to stay at his home in in the south of France.

She is an isolated snobbishly conceited English woman who lives alone with her father and one gets the impression she leads a dull existence and lives through her novels and takes the offer of a break in France for some exciting stimuli to give her life a jump start.

It is the off-season in the small town of Luberon, and the slow pace and unhurried lifestyle is working well for her until late one night, when her publishers brash French daughter Julie unexpectedly arrives. Sarah's English reserve is juxtaposed by Julie's reckless, sexual energy and her multiple-partnered lifestyle.

The film is an examination of two peoples lifestyles and the way in which they operate around other people and themselves. Beneath this festers a simmering erotic tension and the film is marked with a heavy use of sex and nakedness.

Swimming Pool is a serious film that is both engrossing and entertaining and well worth tracking down.

I would give this film 8.3 chateaus out of 10.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Throwing Away Old Memories

The weekend was largely spent lounging around, boxing things up, watching films and playing computer games. It's getting close to crunch time and you have to make 3 decisions about your personal belongings:

1. Take it with you to New Zealand in October;
2. Box it up for shipping at a later date;
3. Throw it away.

It's really a question of "Do I use this?" and if the answer is no, then it goes. As you may imagine, most things that are being binned are those bits and bobs that have been sitting in a cupboard or drawer for the last six months and haven't seen the light of day.

Having sorted through all my things, I realised that I haven't got a lot of personal ob-jets d'art to take with me, not including my CD and book collection. I think 90% of what I take with me will be clothes. I suppose that's a good result - it means a fresh start and a chance to re-acquire things to throw away in another predetermined point in time.

As we near the second part to the summer aka 'September', I'm hoping for a dry run this Saturday and Sunday as there's a beer festival at the Hilden brewery in Lisburn all weekend. Rain is good for many things but would it hurt to have two measly days of dry weather on the trot?

Thus I remained in the house for most of the weekend bar an umbrella equipped trip to the store on Saturday for provisions and the weekly shop yesterday. I must say, this supermarket trip could have been noted as Best Ever due to the fact that we arrived before 12.30pm and the registers don't operate until 1pm. This means that the place was dead, you could shop in peace and quiet and a shop assistant directed you to a free checkout counter as first shopper of the day. Fantastic.

I trust you had a better weekend than myself as the highlight seems to be that trip to the supermarket! *sigh*

See you tomorrow and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mr Brooks

If this film hadn't received a good score on IMDB, I would have dismissed it because I'm not a huge fan of Kevin Costner. However, I'm glad that I did because Mr Brooks is a delightfully dark suspense thriller and Costner manages to convince the audience that he is the calm faced but secretly sinsister serial killer Mr Brooks.

William Hurt plays a fantastic role as Mr Brooks alter-ego who appears more as an imaginary friend although he is more devilish and lacks much of Brooks skin-deep compassion and edges him on to commit his crimes.
These slight differences cause the two to converse and argue in front of each other alongside dialogue that takes place between Mr Brooks and other actors unaware of this psychotic side, but it is for the audiences benefit as the parley takes part purely in his head.

Demi Moore plays a detective who wont rest until she brings the serial killer to justice and, because of her own stature, has a sub-plot of her own to contend with.

The film is propelled on a bedrock of both great plot and character development which intertwines to keep the audience on their toes and keeps us guessing what will ultimately happen and I was happily surprised when I was wrong in my summation.

A combination of excellent script-writing, acting and direction make this film well worth renting.

I would give this movie 8.1 waterworlds out of 10


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Culinary Nightmares

Continuing the theme of cookery programmes instructing you how to make glorious food you can never get your hands on, this weeks Jamie Oliver's was no exception. He was showing us how to make a ricotta-filled courgette flower. According to his channel 4 website:

"The flowers are very hard to obtain, so by growing your own you have access to these gems during the growing season."

This culinary nonsense drives me up the wall. It actually makes me want to petition channel 4 to let them give me my own show called "Supermarket Cooking" where everything for the recipe can be found in any major retailer and all butchers, grocers and independent food store is off-limits.

I'd also have handy hints for viewers:

"You can get this from your butcher but I recommend buying it straight from the shelf in Sainsbury's. They do 3 for 2 - does your butcher?"

"Don't forget to add to the carbon footprint by buying your packaged peppers from Egypt or Israel - you could grow your own but seriously, why bother when it's easier to nip to your local Tesco?"

I'd also have no irritating catchphrases. How often does one man need to say "delish"? It makes you want to grab the frying pan behind his head and commit first degree murder.

It's pretty simple what people want. A show with good food with ingredients that are easily available in any store; a meal that takes 20-30 minutes to make and doesn't cost any more than your normal meals.

Is this too much to ask?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One To Try At Home. Not.

I'm quite used to watching cooking programmes where they make it look easy and when you come to reproducing them at home, you run into a few difficulties. Chef's will sometimes inform you to use a special ingredient but that another product will suffice. It's understood that depending who you are and where you live these ingredients might be easily to obtain, but if you're in a small town or a remote village, chances are, these ingredients are not to hand but using a suggested other is not a problem.

Another problem is skill level and time required. Using the magic of television, a 3 hour recipe can be condensed into a 2 minute montage, leading the unsuspecting viewer that this can be easily accomplished in a suitable time frame. Many parents seem to complain that they use ready meals and frozen food because they take less time to prepare in their busy lives. Any amateur cook knows this is absolute piffle. Tasty, nutritious and great looking meals can easily be made from scratch in a small time-frame of 20/30 minutes.

However, as much as I admire and enjoy watching the new Heston Blumenthol show, hardly any of his recipes can easily be made at home. I recall reading a small weekly section that ran in the Sunday Times last year which published a selection of his recipes each week. He had a method of making chips that took 3 days. Who in their right mind has the time and inclination to spend this amount of time making chips for themselves? It amuses me that a delightful meal can take hours to create and mere minutes to scoff but that's the nature of cooking and eating. You'd need the patience of a saint and the time of someone on benefits to spend half a week making chips.

In his recent show, he told us how to make the perfect steak salad and even the gem lettuce had to sit in ice for nearly half an hour. The beef had to be a certain type (corn fed) and matured for four weeks. If I walked into my butchers and asked for a months old cow he'd suspect I was from the Health Inspectorate and firmly deny any of his produce was that old. The meat itself has to be cooked at 50C for 24 hours and you'll need your common kitchen blow-torch to seal the meat beforehand. Simple.

One feels this show is merely showing off and explaining to the viewer why his food costs so much at his 3 star Michelin, 2004 World's Best restaurant that he drops at the start of each show, rather than inform the viewer how to reproduce the fine cuisine he tells us we can make at home.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Enemies of Reason

Last night I sat down to watch the new Richard Dawkins series entitled 'The Enemies of Reason' where he explores people's illogical belief in the use and practice of primitive religious values such as superstition, astrology and new age mysticism.

Whilst the content itself proved nothing new to me (as the above values are of course a sham), I was intrigued that so many people hold these pseudo-sciences in such high regard.

The interviews are a joy to watch as they are cringe worthy for the believer of his or her craft as Dawkin's simple technique of reason and logic leave them unable to answer his question or are shown to be talking a load of rubbish.

He is concerned that despite the scientific revolution and subsequent overwhelming evidence dismissing these primitive values, recent books promoting such beliefs outsell scientific texts by three to one.

However, these sciences will never solve serious scientific questions and push the boundaries of proper scientic research and I don't believe that serious scientists will start using crystals in labratory experiments - the idea is simply preposterous.

The real danger is general public opinion being swayed by this nonsense so that they might hinder real work being carried out. The real danger is that these pseudo sciences are taught in schools implanting ridiculous notions in children's heads.

These shows are important in highlighting the dangers of allowing erroneous scientific values a foot in the door because they might end up letting a dangerous stranger into your house.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I had been looking forward to watching Sunshine for quite some time and missed it when it was in the cinema. It is directed by Danny Boyle [Trainspotting, 28 Days Later] from a screenplay by Alex Garland [The Beach], who also collaborated on 28 Days Later, so I had high hopes for this film.

Sunshine is set in 2057. The Sun, for some unexplained reason, is failing and Earth has entered an ice age. A spacecraft, the Icarus II, is launched which carries a massive thermonuclear bomb which must travel to the sun and drop it onto the surface in order to re-ignite the core.

It has an excellent premise and in the initial stages the film unfolds showcasing the personalities and tasks each crew-member has been assigned, with the added pressures of the job due to the fact that eight people have been sharing the same space for years as they make their slow journey to the sun.

However, half-way through, it veers off on a tangent and becomes plain silly. The genre changes from space drama to action/thriller but essential ingredients to keep the viewer interested are missing and you begin to care less and less about the characters.

Despite fantastic visuals, the onscreen action is lacklustre and about two-thirds of the way in, the whole thing becomes very messy, the plot turns completely ridiculous and by the time the credits rolled, I'd given up entirely.

It's a real shame because Sunshine should have been a great film if it had stuck to a realistic plot and not dabbled in sequences you would find in trashy action flicks reducing the goodwill built up in the first half only to have it thrown back in your face at the end.

I would give this film 4.1 solar flares out of 10


Friday, August 10, 2007

Chris & Eva's Wedding: Part IV

I awoke on Sunday morning and gave myself a three second countdown for the hangover to kick in but the beautiful thing was that there was nothing there, the bare minimum of cobwebs. Nothing a shower couldn't fix.

Once again I had the fry for breakfast and myself, David and Peter sat and discussed a wide range of topics over coffee and toast while Lou got in an extra forty winks.

The sun was out and Pembrokeshire was looking beautiful. We decided to meet up with Andrew and Sarah and take a walk along the coast. The beaches were few and far between in this area but there was a beautiful artificial harbour, a small inlet with steep sides and turquoise water with small boats and canoes. Perfect for swimming if we had the time.

After a brief stop for ice-cream, we headed back to St David's for lunch with Andrew and Sarah whilst David and Peter set off on a long hike. I think we got the better end of the deal though for as soon as we reached the pub, it started to rain heavily.

The strange thing about the place we had lunch was that it was run by children. I counted five or six working the tables, bar and running errands and not one of them was over 18, some clearly not even teenagers. It was like a scene from an old Disney film where the parents are laid up and the children go to work lest the evil man take away their parents home.

One hearty lunch later and we said goodbye to everyone as they were London-bound and we were staying for another night. I made arrangements to meet Chris and Eva for dinner and then went for a nap.

Forty winks later and the rain had gone but the sun was still on partial vacation. Lou and I had a few pints at the Farmers Arms and met Chris and Eva at the Grove for dinner. Chris was tired and Eva was somewhere beyond, in a realm of walking sleep. We had a beautiful meal of asparagus with bacon wrapped chicken in a cream sauce washed down with a tasty white wine.

Eager to let them get home to bed as they had several things to do before they could touch head to pillow, we said goodbye and went back to the Farmers for a nightcap. The sky was clear and the heaters were on and we sat outside and talked about what a great weekend it was before heading back to sleep ourselves.

We were up and ready to make the long trip back to Belfast on a bright and warm Monday morning. Our first task seemed easy enough. Catch a bus from St David's to Haverfordwest. It's a small town, it shouldn't be a problem. Wrong.

We asked several people who didn't seem to have a clue and then we finally got directions from a girl who worked in a shop. We stood for five minutes at the bus stop only to see our bus swing around the corner and drive past us on the opposite side of the road. We were furious as much as we were panicked because this could mean missing our flight.

I walked up the road and enquired to a policeman who stated quite simply where it was and indeed, there it was. The next bus wasn't for another hour and if we missed that we were done for. Twenty minutes later I saw a taxi making its way down the street and I waved it over. It was £35 to Haverfordwest but what choice did we have?

A short while later we made the station and realised that if we had caught the next bus, we still would have made the next train. Cue 10 minutes of misery as we goaded ourselves and cursed the air around us. The main thing I rectified myself with was that we didn't know we could have made the next bus and that there was nothing that could be done about it now so resigned myself to relax and await the 1.25pm train to Cardiff.

It arrived on time and we got two nice seats at the front of a carriage. Lou popped on her earphones and slept while I set up my DS and watched Evan Almighty. This is one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time and for a comedy it's low on laughs and by low, I mean devoid of humour. It's an extremely friendly family film and couldn't offend anyone - and what's the point in that? I read in the Guardian later that day that it was being recommended by American churches for their flock so if that's anything to go by, you'll know it's a film to avoid.

We arrived in the train station with only an hour to go before our plane took off and we would be stranded in Cardiff with nowhere to stay. We jumped into a taxi and was told it would cost £30 to take us to the airport. "No way pal" I offered. "That's the cost" came the reply. "Absolutely not. No deal". Plane to catch or not, I was not paying that amount. "OK, OK, I'll do it for £25". I said that was a joke and was half-way out of the door before he reneged and accepted £20 for the job. Bloody charlatan.

Our car journey to the airport was like taking a Sunday drive with a revolving cast from a retirement village. Lou and I sat in the back in silence, furious that if this jerk made us miss our flight there would be consequences.

At 4.30pm we ran into the airport and up to the desk. We made it. There was not another soul to be found and we were greeted with a knowing smile that another few minutes and we would have not made it. Big sigh of relief in between panting for breath after running through the car park.

We made our way to the departure gate and had a few minutes to wait. I went and bought a paper and we sat down opposite this strange overweight sweaty fellow, lying down over three seats making odd noises and sleeping. I assumed he was drunk and thought nothing more of the matter just glad I would be home in a short while.

Boarding complete and the usual air crash instructions later, we took off over a sunny, hazy Cardiff bound for Belfast. Twenty-odd minutes later there was a disturbance in the seats. Air hostesses came down the gantry and surrounded a passenger. I overheard sounds of "heart attack" and "fetch the oxygen" and there was a buzz as canisters and breathing apparatus were brought forward. A few minutes later there was an announcement asking if any passengers on board were doctors. No one raised their hands.

Who was this mystery passenger? You guessed it. The sweaty stranger from the departure lounge. I wonder how he managed to get on the plane in the first place looking so obviously deranged.

Five minutes later it was announced that we would be turning back and the aeroplane engaged in a steep hard left bank taking us 180 degrees back towards Cardiff. Damn it.

I thought the whole episode very strange indeed because we were half way to our destination so why not just continue on our way? Needless to say, I was not consulted on our turnaround and we landed for the second time in four days on the same runway. An ambulance was called for and airport medics boarded the flight. We had to deboard for ten minutes whilst they removed the passenger who it turned out had some kind of diabetic or epileptic fit.

I couldn't believe it but it took over twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive and if it was anything more serious, who knows what could have happened to him.

An hours delay later and we were back in the skies. What a time. We had enough happen to us that day by itself never mind the drama that was packed into a that long weekend to last a long while.

If you're interested in photographs, see my Facebook account.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Chris & Eva's Wedding: Part III

I was up earlier than normal for a quick breakfast and groom duties and first on the agenda was picking up button holes from Maggie's and taking them along with my suit to the Grove for a costume change.

It was a muggy morning and even warmer inside and after wiping sweat from my brow, slipped into the wedding gear and adorned myself with bling in the form of pocket watch and diamond cuff-links.

After a few quick photographs outside, Philip and I drove to his hotel and made our way down with Chris to the cathedral. He seemed more nervous yesterday than now so we took that to be a good thing. There was quite a crowd outside and we made our way into the cool confines of pews and statues awaiting for the time to take up our positions.

It was great to have such a view from a best mans perspective and it was an honour for me to be standing there and witness their marriage from up close. On the previous day when we ran through a mock version with the Dean, there were cracks of smiles seconds away from fits of giggles but today there were only beaming smiles and loving glances.

The ceremony went very well and I was glad I was right at the front because my singing is, as you all may know, appalling. There were two hymns and the first was sang to the theme of Unclef**ker in South Park, the second I cannot recall.

After leading the bridesmaids around to the private section of the cathedral and witnessing the signing, we returned to the main section and walked down the aisle and out the front into what seemed like paparazzi as tourists began snapping away. No doubt I will end up in many random strangers holiday snaps.

After Chris and Eva drove away in their 1920's automobile we followed in a coach to the marquee in a field around 10 miles away. Once inside, I drank many Pimms and Bucks Fizz to calm my nerves as we approached the time for speeches.

Luckily we had dinner first and it was the finest spread I've seen yet at any wedding I've been to. Huge hams and turkeys alongside other buffet food which I would have had seconds of but I was saving myself for the pig and cow spit later in the evening.

I never usually get nervous but my left left was bouncing up and down a little and my table said I had become very quiet. I had that horrible feeling in my stomach and I was a little twitchy which came and went as first Mike and then Chris spoke.

Mike is a lifelong friend of Maggie's and has led an interesting life as he went hitchhiking in his teens some years ago to Afghanistan and I'm sure has a lot of brilliant stories in between. It's a pity I only had a brief time to talk to him but it was his field we held the party in and he's a cool guy to know.

When Chris finished his speech, I stood up and thanked everybody for coming and then launched into mine with assistance from the cards. Once I started talking and getting a few laughs I began to relax a little and my last joke received a huge round of applause which I was stunned and delighted at. It went down well and I was still shaking for a few minutes afterwards but now it was out of the way I sat down and enjoyed Andy's speech and the rest of the night.

Tables were cleared and the Ceili band set up in the corner whilst we attempted to play a game of Frisbee outside but it was far too windy and we retreated back inside to the warmth of the marquee.

Having ceilied before I was looking forward to it rather than bricking it and expecting my usual keenness to be replaced by inept movements and I didn't let my fans down as in once relatively complex dance I ran across the dance floor and hooked up with the wrong women. Still, it's great fun and every wedding should have it.

Ceili led the way to pig spit and pig spit led the way to DJ and dance floor mayhem and we danced the night away until the small hours.

It was a fantastic day and everyone had a great time.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Chris & Eva's Wedding: Part II

Rising later than usual on Friday morning we were greeted with a decent fry, more toast than you could want for and lots of black coffee to wake us up. Today was not a day for lounging as there was still so much to arrange for the big day.

After meeting at Maggie's house we jumped in the car and made our way to the marquee to set up tables and arrange chairs. The weather outside was pretty miserable - light rain, grey skies and a strong wind whipping the flaps and making the chandeliers swing slowly from the ceiling.

We set up the tables and arranged the chairs until the layout was acceptable for the groom and as we had worked so hard we decided on a pub lunch to satisfy ourselves.

A short drive took us to Porthgain, which has an old slate quarry situated above a small port making it quite a picturesque coastal village.

Unfortunately after trying our luck at The Shed restaurant - which was far too expensive, humid and more importantly lacked anything on the menu we wanted - and trying the pub which was packed, we made our way back towards home and found an excellent pub on the corner of a road which had an excellent seafood menu alongside the usual fare which more than satisfied our needs.

By this time we needed to make our way back to St Davids for the wedding rehearsal and we made good time thanks to Chris's Alan Prost driving.

After quick introductions to a few people we hadn't met including the Dean who would conduct the service, we took our positions and it wasn't long before our business at the cathedral was concluded but unfortunately there was no time to relax as another major chore was about to be undertaken.

Glasses had been hired but unfortunately they required cleaning. I pictured spending the rest of the afternoon hand washing hundreds of champagne flutes, wine glasses and watching my sanity slowly slip away. Fortunately a friends father owned a restaurant with an industrial washing machine and after learning how to use it, Chris and I set to work and an hour later we were ready to bring them to the marquee.

The above tasks included many other minor ones and we were working against time as we were booked into a restaurant at 8 o'clock that night and none of us wanted to miss out on fine eating and the chance of relaxation.

If this was a movie, it would have been a race against time, action thriller and after being dropped off at the bed and breakfast with fifteen minutes to spare, I had only time to quickly deodorise myself, throw on some fresh clothes and head right back out the door again.

However, I was not to be disappointed. At Cwtch, I had a fantastic starter of finely sliced medium rare beef with beetroot compote and creme fraiche which was simply Divine. I could have eaten five times the amount and still wanted more. For my main I had delicious Slow Roasted Pork Belly with black pudding and forgoing a pudding, a light and refreshing White Russian. If you're ever in St Davids, I recommend making a booking.

Afterwards we met up with most of the Rees clan at the Grove bar and after a couple of drinks and chatting to people, it was time to hit the hay and despite the errand running, it was an enjoyable but exhausting afternoon which was more than made up for by a superb meal and drinks with friends.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chris & Eva's Wedding: Part I

After packing our suitcases and double-checking everything, we left them by the door, ordered a taxi and went to bed. It was only 11 O'clock but BMI had changed our flights from the afternoon to the ungodly travelling time of early morning and the alarm was set for 5.40am.

Naturally at this time of day the roads are devoid of traffic and we made excellent time to Europa and actually made an earlier bus to the airport, allowing time for a leisurely breakfast in one of several horrible restaurants.

We chose to have the 'Belfast Bap' with bacon, egg and sausage which was completely misleading to both natives and tourists of the country. As we all know, a Belfast Bap looks like this. Our bap looked like your average Joe. I'm well aware of airport policy with regards to overcharging for normal portions of food but this is outright deceict.

Our flight left on time and we arrived in Cardiff a mere 50 minutes later where Chris picked us up and it was off to pick up the suits for groom, best men, ushers and shushers. I must admit that the suits were fantastic and were blinged up with silver pocketwatch and diamond cufflinks - very dapper. Unfortunately we had parked in a multi-storey half a mile away and we had to carry them through the crowded city centre streets and my arms were ready to fall off when we reached the car.

Following a short pit-stop at Chris and Eva's for coffee whilst the groom packed his own belongings, we took off for St Davids, stopping at Haverfordwest to pick up Pimms for post-wedding reception drinks.

Several hours later Lou and I were dropped off at Amber Cottage, our Bed & Breakfast, to check in and relax. It was a delightful renovated house ran by a very friendly landlady who insisted on us having a cooked breakfast the following morning and who was I to disagree?

After chilling out for a few hours we met up at Maggie's (Eva's Mum) house for dinner and it was a beautiful evening spent in the garden with good food, friends and white wine. We then made our way across the road to the Farmer's Arms where we took over a table in the beer garden and got nicely drunk on cava and tequilla.

Not bad for our first night.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Wedding Bells

Adventures In Sigh-Fi will return on Tuesday with a full update and photographs from St Davids of Chris and Eva's wedding.

So far stag photographs are on Chris's Facebook account so if you're not friends with Chris, you'll have to satisfy yourself with these fine pictures of me firing a shotgun and cupping Chris's man-boob!

Have a great weekend whatever you're up to!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Breach is based on the true story of Eric O'Neill, a smart, bordering on cocky, FBI operative working under Robert Hanssen, an agent convicted of spying for the Soviet Union for 15 years.

O'Neill, played fantastically by Ryan Phillippe, is a junior FBI employee conducting surveillance work on counter terrorism hoping his extra-curricular reports will earn him promotion to agent status. He is summoned to headquarters and given a special assignment to monitor Robert Hanssen, a senior agent, played by Chris Cooper, whom he is instructed to befriend, study and report back on.

As O'Neill gets deeper into his role, Hanssen, an over-zealous Catholic, takes a personal interest in O'Neill and his young wife who are inactive Catholics, to become active church goers which does nothing but cause grief to their marital life as work and home becomes blurred and uncomfortable for her as O'Neill can tell her nothing about his case.

Breach is fine example of the drama/thriller genre and moves along at just the right pace to pull the viewer in and reveal more and more of the plot at just the right moments right up until the final scene. The screenplay and dialogue are sharp and the acting all around is superb. Certainly worth checking out at the cinema.

I would give this film 8.1 spies who loved me out of 10


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I learnt of this film through word of mouth that it was a brilliant thriller loosely based on the Hitchcock classic Rear Window and was eager to track it down. When I had looked it up on IMDB to double-check its high quality standing I wasn't let down by it's 7.8 score and all of these factors allowed me to sit through the first 20 minutes of the film feeling that the slow start would be a warm up to the action.

Sadly I was let down and after the first section had set a theme of imposing tragedy, it suddenly turned into a teenage drama.

Our central character Kale, who is living under house arrest, begins to suspect that his neighbour is a serial killer but as he is confined to within 100 yards of his living room, there is not much he can do but watch the unfolding drama and clue his friends into his world in order to bring his neighbour to justice.

There's a good plot in there somewhere dying to get out but there is so many genres fighting for position in what should have been a relatively straight forward film and not a family drama cum teen slasher flick because when the dial is finally turned to action/thriller, I had switched off.

How the film currently stands at 7.3 on IMDB I cannot imagine. If I had to sum up this film in a genre, it's stupid.

I would give this film 4.1 "why does that guy always play the bad guy" out of 10.


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