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October 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by se71.
We've been looking at automatic coffee machines for some time, and last weekend a rather good salesperson at John Lewis persuaded the purchase of this Magimix Nespresso one.

It came accompanied by a small milk heater, so that you can make espresso and also fancy capuccino or pretty much any other coffee you like. It's even ideal for making hot chocolate and the milk heater has a little whisk inside that foams everything up nicely too.

I've never actually been much of a fan of espresso - usually I want to sip my coffee for a while, and I never take milk, but the rest of the family wanted this, so we got it.

And today, I actually found an excellent use of our new machine for me. I have about five minutes usually in the morning between being fully dressed ready for work, and leaving the house. As a black coffee drinker, that just isn't enough time. But, as a Nespresso drinker, I was able to prepare everything and have a shot of morning caffeine in less than three of those precious pre-dawn minutes. It comes out hot, but not boiling, so can be knocked back in a couple of gulps. Excellent rocket fuel before I hurtle down the road on my bike to the station.

Posted by se71 at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2007

Three Men In A Boat - Jerome K. Jerome


I picked this up in my local bookshop. It was prominently displayed at the front of the store, and I asked if it was a series and if they had any others. Unfortunately they didn't know about any series.

You'll notice the price, only £2. This is perfect for an old copyright free book. This edition is also very thin and light, just right for commuting.

It's also, so far, very good.

Update: Just found it here and checked, and it says there it was published in 1994. So what's it doing still for sale. Weird.


Now I've finished reading it, and wonder why it took me so long to ever get round to it. I found it a charming book, full of amusing insights into human character. It's really very funny in places, and I wouldn't be surprised if P.G. Woodhouse's Bertie Wooster character wasn't in some way indepted to the three men here.

Three very priviledged young men decide to take a couple of weeks off work (though their work seems more like a pasttime than an actual necessity) and boat up the river Thames from Kingston. As they pass through the historic towns, the narrator, J., gives some brief descriptions of the places, and also some amusing anecdotes he happens to think of. They pass through some places I know very well, and even come to a pub that was my local for many years, the Stag in Datchet.

Nothing much really happens, but the enjoyment is in the journey, and the alternative picture of 19th century England given is a pleasant antidote if you've been overdoing the Dickens a bit.

Posted by se71 at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)

The Riches

The Riches


A new drama from the US, a sort of cross between Desperate Housewives and The Sopranos, this one is most notable for it's interesting casting. Hugh Laurie and Ian McShane have been waving the flag for Britain recently in 'House and 'Deadwood', convincing the native population in the US apparently that they aren't upper class twits, or sleazy antiques dealers, but true born and bred yanks. So now the powers that be in TV have taken what would have been until very recently the most unlikely Eddie Izzard and given him a chance to pretend he is a gypsy from America's deep south. The accent is all over the place in my opinion, maybe he'll grow into it. Maybe no one will care as long a he keeps throwing in the funny one-liners. The beard is maybe a mistake, and he needs to get some trousers cut to the correct length as the material clumping at his ankles make him look a bit small in the long shots. He is, as always though, very watchable and you want him to be in every single scene.

As his partner in crime and on screen wife is yet another Brit, the implausably named Minnie Driver. This casting isn't quite so hard to believe, as many people think she is American already having seen her in films like "Gross Point Blank" and the massive "Good Will Hunting". Some attractive actresses seem to think their looks are a drawback, and choose roles against type to prove how talented they are. Helena Bonham Carter turned her back on costume dramas and went as far as dressing as a monkey to disguise herself. Driver hasn't gone that far here, but as she emerges from prison at the start of this episode, with her stringy hair, drawn expression, and throaty gutteral southern drawl, she does a very good job of coming over as the lowlife she is portraying. I anticipate much more make-up and expensive clothes later in the series to make the most of the contrast that is obviously being set up.

As to the plot itself, the premise actually has a lot of promise. We have a family of travellers who make their living moving from town to town in a campervan stealing and swindling. There is a big community of these people, but all is not well with inter family feuds coming to a head when they try to force Izzard's daughter into an arranged marriage. The family flee, and when fate throws an opportunity into their laps, Izzard sees it as a chance at a fresh start as a normal family living the American dream.

I can see the family's new life, pretending to be people that aren't, and under constant threat from being discovered both by their new friends, and by the gypsy families, as being one which has a huge potential for drama, and for comedy. I hope they let some of Izzard's ad-libs though; I've read that he did quite a bit and that they had to cut a lot of it out, so maybe the DVD extras will be worth watching. I think the first episode was good, but was obviously trying to pack a lot of back story in for the future and suffered a little for that. I really hope the potential it has is realised in weeks to come.

Appallingly late update, apologies. I watched another three or four episodes, but kept forgetting it was on, and eventually gave up. If you are forcing yourself to watch a program, then something is wrong. I think it was the complete unbelievability of the plot. This plot could have worked, but the writing was bad, and didn't do enough to convince us that, in particular, Izzard's character could wing it as a lawyer. Driver's character was just a whining waste of space. And those accents, terrible. How it got renewed for a second season I'll never know.

Posted by se71 at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)