I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, and I’d like to think you all know that I hate ever trying to ram something down your throat like I’m one of these social media influencers, BUT, it has to be said, I’ve been keeping it too quiet for too long and now the time has come to shout it from the mountain tops and let everybody tat is reading this right now know… I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’D DO WITHOUT MY FITBIT!
Honestly, I know that sounds weird but here comes the hard sell on this and not for any sponsorship deal or capital payoff but just because I’ve found it so personally life changing. Now, I’m aware that I’m obsessed with statistics, targets, goals and numbers (anybody who remembers me running Facebook event promotions will attest to that) but it really is the most wonderful way of pushing yourself, every single day, towards your own personal fitness or health goals.
I first started wearing one at the start of last December when I was bought one for my birthday by my dear old mum, god love her, and it hasn’t left my wrist for any reason since then except charging or showering. After all this time, the novelty has far from worn off and has in fact grown as I push my own limits further and further and see obvious physical change, whether that be towards weight, stamina or general health. It’s not been easy but then again I wasn’t the most prime candidate for such an evolution as only two years ago I was still smoking twenty a day and drinking far too much. But with the help of my Fitbit I’ve seen a loss in weight of about a stone and a half. I’ve seen my resting heart beat drop from a very reasonable early 70’s to a fit as a fiddle mid to late 50’s. My cardio fitness score is currently 54 which is bordering excellent for a man of my, undisclosed, age. All of it I attribute to the hard work put in attaining goals that are constantly being pushed on me by the item on my wrist. I log my water intake and have managed to habitually destroy my targets every day, whilst also completely restructuring my eating habits. I can log my calorie intake against the amount I’ve burnt off that day to make sure biology is doing its thing properly. It’s pushed me into taking up hobbies like running and cycling, both of which can be tracked and the entire workout broken down piece by piece and, along with everything else, can be analysed on the easy to use app.
I’ve spread the word to friends and told them the benefits, only to see them then go forth and smash the hell out of all their expectations. Which brings me to my next point, the community aspect of it. Just like anything these days you can add friends and become part of a small group, competing to rank the top of the table as far as your weekly and daily step averages are considered. It’s a lot of fun… when you’re winning. When I’m not I get angry and start pacing the house trying to beat them, but that might be another story.
Anyway, the point being, as far as revolutionary inventions and advancements in technology I put the Fitbit, or smart watch of any brand or model depending on what suits you the most, up there with some of the best. Have a think about. Have you always wanted to make that physical change but don;t know where to start? Just look down at your wrist and you’ll have all the answers.
What more could you want on a Friday night than to head over to a great venue in a beautiful city on a warm, sunny evening and catch a gig? Well last night, on the 15th of June, I was lucky enough to partake in exactly that and what’s more is that I was heading out to see a legend of the stage perform live. Gaz Coombes might be better known to some as the lead singer and frontman of the iconic mid 90’s indie band Supergrass, but he’ll also be known to many as a solo performer and incredible song writer. With three solo albums under his belt including his most recent LP release ‘Worlds Strongest Man’ coming out last month, he’s got plenty of material of his own and that’s before looking into the back catalogue he created as part of Supergrass. Either way, the most important thing is that all of his material is consistently credible, well written and special, which of course peaks excitement for catching him live.
The gig was held at The Engine shed in Lincoln, in their smaller room known as the Platform and is used specifically for more intimate events, and was the perfect setting for what Coombes was bringing to the table. Supported by the extremely fun and endlessly talented Piney Gir, the room and its audience were warmed up well as we got to experience the surreal and unique sound of this great American talent.
Coming up next… the main event…
Gaz Coombes took the stage, bringing behind him a presence and aura befitting a legend of the music business, but oddly enough you could feel how down to earth he was and how vulnerable he appeared on stage, alone, no band, in front of a packed room. He addressed the crowd and asked how we all were on multiple occasions before hurtling into one of his spellbinding, beautiful masterpieces. I don’t say that lightly either, they can only be refered to as masterpieces as each track was delivered with a tenderness and beauty that I’ve only few times witnessed before, yet his unique vocals have this aggressive but clear tone that I can’t compare to anyone. At a push he reminds me a lot of Tallest Man On Earth (if you haven’t heard him, go and do yourself a favour).
The set shot by and he had my attention at every turn, before he went off for a short time and eventually returned for an encore of which he played ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ to a huge reaction from the audience. All in all, what a show. The sound was fantastic and the atmosphere in the room enhanced the experience greatly. A perfect Friday night. If you get a chance to catch Gaz Coombes on the rest of his tour, DO IT!
featured image photo credited to Emily Nichol (cheers mate)
I spent a whole afternoon wondering if this was a thing. Does it contradict the whole point of a salad? I mean, that is essentially a lot of cheese. Honestly, I was super concerned about the consequences behind such an idea, but it was not only all worth it in the end, it might even be my greatest creation of all time!
That’s right, you read it correctly, it’s a three cheese salad and it might just be your new favourite meal. Dead quick, mega easy and I’m not going to beat about the bush here, I’m going to dive straight into the nitty-gritty because the weekend is approaching and this could be the perfect Friday night dinner.
Of course your own variations are always welcome but here’s what I chose to create my masterpiece:
1 x bag of mixed Baby leaf salad
One large green Pepper
Half a Red Onion
2 x medium-sized salad Tomatoes
Juice of 1 x Lime
Caeser salad dressing
1 X Mozzarella ball sliced
Half a block of Feta crumbled
Pre-heat your grill and begin by slicing up your vegetables, as thick as you prefer to have them, and throw them into a large oven proof roasting dish. Season with salt & pepper before sliding under the hot grill. Whilst they’re cooking away, begin to arrange your leaves on the plate. This meal serves 2 and with generous helpings so never be afraid to hold back on the leaves, but personally I used the whole bag. Lightly drizzle your dressing over the leaves and scatter your croutons haphazardly. Now it’s time to for the cheese. Start by slicing your halloumi into around eight thick slices and now add to your roasted dish under the grill. Slice your Mozzarella ball and crumble half your block of feta, keeping the rest aside for tomorrow night dinner or a late night snack (I’m joking, that’s too much cheese for anyone). After around fifteen minutes your halloumi will be browning and your veg will be thoroughly grilled so go ahead and add the rest of your cheese. Throw it in, nothing about this is neat and tidy. After only a few minutes you’ll begin to see how the roasting dish under the grill has become a massive cheesy vegetable bake. By this point it’s time to remove from the grill.
Cut down the centre of your dish and use a spatula to remove a large slice of the bake and dump on top of your leaves, creating a stringy, cheesy, veggie mess on top of your salad bed. Then, viola. You’re ready to eat. I cooked two slices of fresh garlic bread to go with it and it worked perfectly so maybe give that a try. Other than that, go forth and have fun, but remember…
It ain’t easy, being cheesy.
What a weekend its been for us so far. Comedy festivals, amazing food, fantastic company, bike rides, garden time and more… plus Sundays barely begun. With all this action you’d certainly need a decent breakfast, and that’s exactly what we aimed for when we FINALLY went to sample the delights at Lincoln’s hottest new venue, The Cosy Club.
This place has been open a while and I’ve actually been in for drinks a couple of times but never for the food. I have tried though, hence the FINALLY on the previous paragraph but due to the popular demand and overwhelmingly impressive start this place has had, across six different attempts to book a meal, I’ve found myself too late. So on this occasion we were waiting outside at opening time (9am on Saturdays), banging down the door, screaming for a taste of what they had to offer.
Now, the venue itself, is incredible. There are no other words. After renovating part of the Lincoln Cornhill quarter as part of a massive redevelopment of the entire area, The Cosy Club stands as its crown jewel. They’ve maintained and kept a lot of the old historical advertisements on the walls and retained vintage feel whilst transforming it into a modern and light space for literally hundreds of people to enjoy at a time. The whole quarters development is proving a massive success and generally speaking it now feels like more of a pleasure to walk through that area, whether on your way into town or over to the train station to head out of Lincoln.
Anyway, back to the food. As I said, this was first meal of a very busy day so we weren’t playing around here. After being kindly offered both a gluten-free and vegan menu, both of which I inspected closely and found to be varied, well thought out and diverse in flavours and approaches, I looked over to the standard menu and decided there was only one way to know the quality of the place, so opted for the Cosy Club Breakfast. Now if you’re going to put your name on it, it needs to be great… and it was. Pretty much business as usual, but the coffee was good and again, options for soy or almond milk were offered, the portion was reasonable, not too small so as to have you feel cheated out of your money, but not too big so as to leave you lethargic and full at the beginning of your weekend. All the main stars were there, sausage, bacon, fried egg, hash brown, baked beans, tomato, mushroom and sourdough toast, but it all felt fresh, clean and nutritionally rich. My dining partner opted for a slightly lighter “Cosy Eggs” which consisted of a poached egg on toast with salmon and hollandaise sauce, neatly garnished and spectacularly presented.
The whole thing was well thought out, attention to detail always on point and the staff were friendly, inviting and helpful at all times. The menu and the bar are for everyone, I can;t imagine anybody walking away disappointed and I honestly couldn’t recommend it more and especially at a time such as now. With an ailing high street and closure after closure of retail business or restaurant/bar, don’t let this go, keep this alive. Because it would seem to me that if you give them your business, The Cosy Club are happy to help with anything you want.
It’s no wonder that book clubs are such a time-tested institution, as I think we all have in common, the desire to let the world know when we’ve just finished a book, and especially when it was a truly great read. Well, lucky me, as Thinking Green gives me that exact platform to do so and I’ve got one hell of a read to share with you.
I find nowadays that I much prefer to read books on psychology or humanity, non fiction with a real opportunity to learn installed within the pages. When digging through book stores last year with my girlfriend I picked up from off the shelf ‘Emotional Agility’ and she was keen to point out that she thought it’d be a good one for me to read. Point taken, thanks. So I did and I looked forward to getting stuck in. In no time at all I was immersed fully into the ideas, the examples and the practical guidance offered by Susan David, a psychologist and consultant that has innovated and pioneered new and interesting ways to consider your emotional state and how to maintain it, manage it and direct it towards creating a better you. Now, with that said, my first great take away from the book was the down to earth nature of the writing. A lot of books or writings on this kind of subject come off preachy and some come from a far too personal/unrelatable position, but ‘Emotional Agility’ does not. No patronization, no judgement, no pressure. In fact, I found most of the book reassuring, as I found myself agreeing with the points and acknowledging that I already practiced emotional agility, perhaps not very well, but I certainly had the foundations down. It was calming and comforting to find that there is still room for emotion of all ranges and it is acceptable and natural to feel things such as anger, sadness and jealousy and that the false positivity that many people today plaster all over their social media aesthetic is not only wrong but damaging. Your emotions are all important but the issue is how you connect with them and use them based on your values and morality. It is about finding your own personal direction and making sure that you allow your emotions to work with you instead of against you.
Some things I did realise whilst reading was that I’m not so agile (my girlfriend was right then) and actually I set myself these unrealistic and destructive targets and goals due to the way I want to present my self and my work ethic, and that actually listening to myself and doing what may benefit me mentally, physically, emotionally is actually the right way to go. I also found it interesting how much I took away from the book on raising children. I agreed fully with all points made on interacting with kids and will hold on to this information for when the time comes.
I heavily recommend ‘Emotional Agility’ to anyone and will be keeping it in mind from this day, going forward. Maybe you should too.
Man, some days are just a good day to get excited and celebrate music, and today sounds like one of those days. Reason being, I got my first sneak peek at the new album by Blues royalty, Buddy Guy and it came in the form of ‘Blue No More’ which also features the talents of James Bay. Bay, who just released his new album ‘Electric Light’ joins possibly the last great blues icon, who since the passing of B.B King, we’ve all been praying for and watching closely in hope of preserving the last true star of the blues movement. However, the praying might have been a little premature as Buddy Guy is back and sounding, literally better than ever. With 65 years in the business, a plethora of records in his discography and at 81 years old, it’s nothing short of a miracle of science but I swear, Buddy Guy may never have sounded this good. His brand new album ‘The Blues Is Alive & Well’ is available on the 15th of June and is stacked with fifteen tracks, ranging from blues standards to unbelievable collaborations. The title might just be the most perfect and poignant album name of 2018.
‘Blue No More’ is the blues at its utmost and boats a down tempo, smooth swagger, dripping with cool and benefiting from the interesting contrast in vocal styles of both Guy and Bay. It serves as a wonderful introduction to this brand new album, his 34th throughout his career and his 17th solo, and it leaves you wanting more, which is ideal promotion for an upcoming record release. Will we be hearing it on Radio 1? Probably not. Can we expect Buddy Guy being interviewed on Nick Grimshaw’s breakfast show? Nah, I wouldn’t hold your breath. But despite its commercial and mainstream limitations, I know for damn sure that this is the most excited I’ve been for an album this year and will be anxiously anticipating my first full run through of the album on the 15th of next month.
Whilst digging a little further, the album gets even more exciting as it features guest appearances by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and also a brilliant version of ‘Nine Below Zero’ which I know famously to be one of the best tracks Sonny Boy Williamson used to perform. That, and ‘Blue No More’ are both available for download as is the album on pre-order, so don’t waste any time. It feels odd to get so joyous about new blues releases in 2018, but that’s music I suppose. Always throwing surprises our way. The album is called ‘The Blues Is Alive & Well’ and I believe you might be right there Buddy…
So after writing a piece a few weeks ago that centred around being more eco in the home in which I shared a few tips and ideas from my own house that can make your home life a little more natural and a little less toxic, I received a message from a friend. This particular friend has been working hard recently building her brand, Carma health in which she also promotes, suggests and advocates natural, ethical and healthy products ranging from skin care to nutrition and more. A large part of her campaign is centred around the company Arbonne who specialise in botanically sourced cosmetics and pride themselves on producing natural, pure and safe products that aim to provide personal care and wellness products that improve your skin, body and mind. Knowing that I’d be interested in hearing about Arbonne and its many benefits my friend Caroline put me on the track to learning a little more about them and I can’t help but myself becoming more and more impressed the further I dive into their catalogue of products. The company holds a very high regard for their integrity and proudly promote a wealth of different products that all help to improve the physical and mental condition of those that use them. Not only that but their unique social marketing strategy means that word of mouth and inter personal networking are their highest means of exposure, spreading the message by means just as organic as their produce.
Finding a company as engrossed in celebrating the natural, ethical and purity side of cosmetics is very exciting and strengthens the change the world is seeing as more and more people open their eyes to the damage we’ve all previously caused not only to the planet, but to ourselves as well. So check out Arbonne, and go ahead and keep your eyes open for some awesome events and opportunities to get discounts and to learn more about them. This is a company worth celebrating, and there really isn’t that many, so jump on board.
So this mostly certainly a review, but a recommendation or a suggestion as it’s something I’ve been enjoying recently, and I think you might to. ‘Why Not Now?’ is an episodic podcast brought to you and presented by author, investor, public speaker and all round success story, Amy Jo Martin, who has dedicated a show to that extremely important and permanently valid question… why not now? It questions procrastination and celebrates those leaps of faith that lead people towards their dreams or the path to achievement. It’s a much easier question to ask than to carry out and in this scary world of ups and downs it is very easy to find complacency through comfortability, but the beauty of this podcast is that Amy and her chosen guest really dig in and break down the steps to achieving your goals and the thought process behind going after what it is you really want.
The podcast is presented in such a clean, clear, concise fashion that it becomes so easy to follow and genuinely inspires you to chase some dreams as the clarity of approach feels more like a guideline for following, and if there’s anything you need in acting upon your goals and desires, it’s a helpful hint of direction. The guests are varied and each story as interesting as the last. The featured guests vary from other podcasters to CEO’s, to athletes and more, with each struggle, journey and ascent to the top being unique yet equally inspiring. The podcast is also a handy, almost bitesize 40+ minutes long, making it easy to binge and get through plenty of content in one day. I listen to a lot of podcasts and I’ve known some to clock in at five hours, so it’s always nice to be able to get an episode finished in one sitting without interruption, plus it’s easy to invest in even if you don’t know the guest that week.
Previous guests include Mark Cuban, Morgan Spurlock, Billy Corgan, Jessica Alba, Kim Motley, Daniel Bryan and even Amy Jo Martin herself. So go and check it out, subscribe on iTunes to receive each new episode to your device of choice and see what you can unlock in your own mind through the stories and advice of some truly inspirational people. Hey you’ve been looking to find a new podcast haven’t you? Why not now?
It seems these days, and not a moment too soon, that people’s ideas and perceptions surrounding the environment and the condition of the planet are changing and more people are becoming conscious of the large impact we’ve had on planet Earth in the past couple of hundred years. Industry boomed and mass production of energy, materials and consumer items became readily available but all without any concern for the lasting impact it’d have. Fortunately the potential problems have been, and are still being, vocalised heavily and the message has been sent by many an influential expert on the matter, such as David Attenborough on his latest series of Blue Planet.
There’s a long way to go before we really get it figured out as a race, but a sturdy base has been built already for a human race that considers energy-saving alternatives, ethical means of farming or product testing, natural and non-toxic produce choices etc etc etc. So here, I’m going to share with you five really simple suggestions for a more natural, more ethical, more green home, take a look:
Original Source shower gel
You’ve all heard of it, you’ve maybe even used it as a novelty before so you can talk with your friends about the tingling sensation it has on your… anyway, point being that all their shower gels are vegan, all natural and even the bottles in which they come are recyclable. They’ve got tons of awesome flavours, each one derived from a natural, and of course original, source. I don’t use anything else and haven’t done for years. That’s how I became a one time tribe super fan… true story.
If you haven’t heard of Method or used their products then you’re missing out in a big way. Cleaning products have never been so cool as they also explore creative and interesting scents whilst remaining entirely environmentally friendly. They pride themselves on being forward thinkers, always considering the past, present and future in every aspect of their work. Their products are all non-toxic, all packaging is biodegradable or recyclable, it’s all animal friendly and they consciously operate with systems that continue to be efficient and without impact to the environment. Surely a company who appear to be more concerned with climate change than profit is worth your attention, support and money?
In 2018 I would assume this is something you’re already doing, and if not then you better pay attention, because even the meanest most ignorant form of evil would appreciate the energy savings here as far as it relates to their electricity bill. Of course we’re all aware of the advancements in technology that have been made over the past thirty few decades and LED lighting is one that’s leading the way in energy-saving power solutions. Commercially it has been embraced for a long time, and I’d even expect the lamp-post outside your house is an LED fitting. The differences in power usage are massive and a standard 60 watt GLS lamp that you’ve no doubt got in your living room lighting pendant can now be fitted with a 5.5 watt equivalent. That’s a difference of 54.5 watts and the saving will be reflected in your bill too. Save the planet, and save some money. Good deal right? Not to mention the fact they can last for years and most will have a warranty of three years or more, stopping you from having to replace your light bulbs so often. Does it get any better?
Bulldog face wash
Yet another great cosmetic product as Bulldog provide an incredible range of face washes moisturisers, beard washes and more. It may be one for the men only but that just means you lads have got to get your act together since you’ve got so much opportunity. All natural and all made from an incredible array of ingredients. It’s vegan, it’s not tested on animals and it contains no chemicals or alcohols that’ll dry you out.
Bobble water containers
Well the first four have been easy, affordable and have made an unreal amount of sense, so we better cap it off with a fifth to match the rest. Bobble are just one of many great companies championing the re-useable over the disposable and along with their wonderful filter design, the first bottle you buy could be the only bottle you buy. The filters last months and can be easily replaced or recharged by boiling the coal filter in water. Imagine all the bottles of water you buy from the shop, or fizzy drinks you continually guzzle becoming a thing of the past as you efficiently use your own water bottle on a daily basis, enjoying filtered fresh water and working towards your daily water intake goals, but you only had to pay once. Mine goes everywhere with me and will be doing for a long time to come.
So there you have it. Just a handful of money-saving, planet saving, healthy, ethical, naturally fun ideas for you and the home. Let me know if you try any of them out or even if you’re a fan already. Keep it green guys…
So here’s nothing more than a massive moan, and whats worse is, it’s a moan about moaning. But seriously, its time to address something as it just seems to be getting ridiculous. The past couple of days have seen a landslide of claims on social media that certain things are offensive, even racist, and the way in which the world points out displeasure and the rest of the planet then has to follow these brand new rules is just crazy, especially when the subject matter is just pathetic.
It’s been an ongoing debate, or war, for some time now and a lot of the time it boils down to political leanings. The right likes to point at screaming left-wing activists and call them ‘Snowflakes’ for their constant complaining and ability to find offence in anything, however the left appear to be out there fighting injustice and giving a voice to the voiceless and fighting for the rights of all. As someone who really doesn;t lean politically in either direction, I prefer policies and results over exclusive clubs and adversarialism. From this stand point, in the middle, it’s easy to see what a cartoon society has become as people label themselves and adorn the uniform of whichever side they choose whilst leaving no room for logic, definition or individual basis. Social media, as always, has a huge hand in this also as everybody now has a voice, normally an ill-informed and attention seeking one, but a voice nonetheless and when it’s so easy to have your voice heard nowadays, any gripe or complaint can be heard and spread around the world in minutes. It seems to have become a competition as to who can be more offended, more victimized or more oppressed and from where I’m stood it’s nothing more than ridiculous and disrespectful to the millions of people around the world who’s lives are affected by things like racism, misogyny, violence etc.
Let’s have a look at some of the examples from the past few days, that are my motivation for this gross proclamation of despair.
How about the Eurovision song contest winner, Netta? Israel’s representative stole the show with frankly a shite song, as were the rest of them and some chicken impressions but that’s Eurovision right? That isn’t the problem though. Oh god no, the problem is that she was dressed in a Kimono and there was evidence of traditional Chinese memorabilia/decoration in the background. This is what’s being described as cultural appropriation and is apparently extremely offensive. The backlash came the day after when internet idiots had really had a chance to think some shit up that they could complain about.
What about the fact, the word Gammon is now racist? That’s right, the cured cut of pork from the hind leg of a pig that families all over the world enjoy for dinner now and again, depending on your diet choices. It’s now racist because apparently the term Gammon has been used to describe a particular type of right-wing voter, the average Brexit supporter and in medical terms, an overweight white bloke who’s cholesterol is high as hell. Oh dear, and we all thought the left were a bunch of hippies that loved Jeremy Corbyn and veganism, but no it turns out they’re as evil as to call somebody a pork product. Now, this does point out the massive hypocrisy of the left who always claim to be about tolerance and love and peace and a fair share for all, unless of course you don;t agree with them and then you’re a lamb chop, but is it racist? No of course it isn’t. I’d be almost certain that there isn;t a single person on the planet who’s been personally offended by the term. It’s all hypothetical nonsense to keep social media alive with political debate.
Also, Rita Ora had to make a big apology as she released her brand new single ‘Girls’. That’s right, an apology for a pop song. When there are bands like Pig Destroyer and Cradle of Filth on planet earth I immediately wonder what the hell could Rita have done. Well it turns out the subject matter of the song is to do with drunken romantic flings with your female friends. No different really to Katy Perry’s break out track ‘I Kissed A Girl’ (it’s even in the name of that one). But of course that was ten years ago when people had better things to do. On inspection, the song doesn;t have an offensive moment in it other than the fact the lyrics are crap. It’s a typical modern pop song where an artist has to bring in all of their friends to feature on the track because name value means money of course. It features Cardi B who seems to be the hottest name in music at the minute, for some reason, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX who’s just useless anyway. The songs terrible, I can’t believe it takes four top talents to create that below average dross, BUT that’s not the problem. Mass offence was taken by people in the LGBTQ+ community as it stereotypes and marginalises same-sex relationships but I just don’t see it. As an artist, Rita Ora should be able to project and express however she feels and if it isn’t for you then don;t buy the track. If ou don;t like the product, don’t purchase, it’s easy. But instead she was made to make a public statement and apology, essentially standing trial once again to the world that’s offended by everything.
Where does it end? What’s right to say anymore, what can we wear, shit, I don;t even know if eating pork is ok now! The point is, it’s ridiculous. The power to ignore, or move on, or consider context or approach has all gone missing. The feelings of the person next to you is making each individuals feelings a mine field of what’s right or wrong. We’re told to express ourselves. but how? We’re told to talk about our problems, but you can’t. There’s always somebody ready to fight your words or actions in the name of their own preferences. What’s worse is, as I said earlier, the real issues in the world are getting pushed aside for social media fads and extreme outrage. In fact it tars social issues with a brush that leaves you leaving bored and despondent. Why should anyone stand up for their fellow-man and support their lifestyle when the requirements are so fucking stupid. Anyway, that’s just something to think about…. cue the offended readers. Sorry in advance.
It’s been literally six months and one day since I last reviewed a full album, and for those of you that followed the expansive works of Mojo20, you may even remember it was Taylor Swift’s ‘Reputation‘ that was last dissected (you won’t remember, I didn’t) and of course, I thought it was a load of self-indulgent crap. HOWEVER, after all this time it’s certainly a great opportunity to jump back in as social media has spent all of today venting and sharing opinions on the long-awaited sixth studio album by Sheffield indie rock gods, Arctic Monkeys. The oddly named ‘Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino’ dropped this morning but was already the object of scrutiny due to its obscure title and strange track listing. Not only that but bootleg digital versions were making the rounds the other day and people were, well, unsure about what to make of it. Of course though, being whiter than white here at Thinking Green I awaited its official release and ran out to pick up a physical copy of the new record… and here’s what I thought.
Now, the vast majority of opinion I’ve seen today on Twitter and all that has been negative. I can see why, but certainly wouldn’t agree. There are no huge indie bangers, the tempo has decreased and it does sound oh so very different to what we’re used to from them. “Which is what?” I hear you ask. Great question. Well I honestly wouldn’t know how to answer that because Arctic Monkeys have consistently evolved and expanded their sound and style since the very beginning. I honestly can’t name one of their other albums that sounds like another. “So why is it such a surprise that the trend has continued?” Again I don’t know but frankly the music sounds more mature, the songwriting suits a 32-year-old Alex Turner, just like ‘When The Sun Goes Down suited a 20-year-old Alex Turner. It’s about evolution, it’s about transcending expectation and documenting your art now, not retrospectively, not from a memory, I mean can you really see Turner, in his LA mansion, entertaining the likes of Richard Hawley, Nick Cave and John Cooper Clarke but writing music about his budget trainers that he recently bought off the market in Sheff? Of course not, he isn’t there anymore. He’s far removed from the lifestyle he once celebrated and invited us all into, that to stay in the same place artistically would seem disingenuous and cringy. “But it’s nothing like ‘AM’ or ‘Whatever People Say I Am..”, no you’re quite right, in fact it’s more akin to lounge music, in fact scrap that, elevator music, but it’s the coolest elevator in the worlds largest skinny jean factory I could ever imagine, or maybe a hotel… or a casino, and truthfully those albums still exist and are still fantastic but this is something else, a different beast entirely and should survive on its own merit, without comparison. Looking at the new album, it is an odd one and perhaps for the first time, there isn’t a stand out track. It’s a brilliant album, full of interesting, dark, wandering songs that centre mainly around the lyrical acrobatics Alex Turner is so proficient in. He’s a poet, a modern-day Northern, British Dylan and it’s clear that this albums main weapon of choice is his song writing. I have also seen some publications call this “the closest thing to an Alex Turner solo album we’ve got” which not only discredits his solo album for ‘Submarine’ the soundtrack, but also plays down the skills of the rest of the band. It’s possibly their funkiest work to date which just could not happen without a tight and talented rhythm section. It’s subtle, sexy, jazzy and a little brooding and I personally find that more intriguing than any three chord indie rock record I’ve ever come across. It is different, it really is, and as I said, I understand the uproar, but if you stop to take this album in for what it is and was intended to be, it really is superb.
Now, one downside from someone who’s seen the effects and ridden the consequences is that one of indie musics biggest names and sheer royalty of a genre thats flag isn’t flying so hard anymore, is doing nothing to maintain, preserve or aid the rock n roll that they championed so heavily on their previous album. Transmission indie night (hosted formerly by Mojo20) came to an end due to an ailing scene and poorly represented genre of music that ruled the world in the nineties and mid 2000’s. Arctic Monkeys appear to have left it behind too, just as much as I did. But hey, the album opens with the line “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes…” and so did I. I don’t anymore, and I guess these guys don’t either…
The weathers finally looking like it might improve and along with great weather comes great food and summer recipes, and here’s another of my favourites. I even remembered to take a picture of the finished product, unlike last time. So get involved and have a go at this dead easy favourite of mine, Hunters Chicken.
So we started basic last time with home made beef burgers and to be honest, it isn’t getting much more difficult here, but the best thing about Hunters Chicken is that there’s so many interchangable components and it does, ultimately, all come down to your personal preference. This relates mainly to the cheese and the BBQ sauce because as we know, there’s tons of variations and we all like something different, in fact I’ll change it up almost everytime I make it, with the method being pretty much the same but with the main characters of the performance altering dependant on mood. On this occassion, we’ll look at what I did last night, and if you don’t mind me saying so, it might be the best combination I’ve ever come up with.
Here’s the ingredients you’ll need ready, all kitchen essentials, nothing too exotic for this one, but the one absolute must is that all the meat is locally sourced and bought from our brilliant butchers just around the corner:
1 Tbsp of Olive oil
2 Large chicken breasts
Salt & Pepper
1 medium sized Sweet potato
4 Rashers of Back bacon
2 slices of Mexican chilli cheese
1/2 a cup of Garden peas
So as previously mentioned, your choice of cheese is completely optional but I always find sliced, whether pre-sliced or from a block, to be much easier to work with than grated in this instance. It saves mess and waste and generally makes the finishing touches that bit easier. As for the BBQ sauce, we’ve opted for Guinness BBQ as a nod back to our recent trip to Dublin, but also because it’s absolutely gorgeous. Of course, there’s some incredible BBQ sauces out there nowadays and the market is stacked with great quality names so take your pick. You could even make your own, but that’s a recipe for another day entirely. Anyway, now you’ve got your ingredients sorted, let’s get on with it…
Start by heating your Olive oil in a reasonably sized frying pan and once hot, throw in your chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper and cook on both sides for a few minutes each until both sides begin to brown slightly. This gets things going and speeds up the process. Whilst frying, chop your sweet potato into wedges around 1cm thick. Arrange your wedges on a baking tray and sprinkle lightly with some smokey paprika before popping in the oven at 180 degrees centigrade. No further oil necessary as the sweet potato will cook into a soft, yet dry wedge, minus the grease. Now the ovens hot and the wedges are in, remove the chicken from the frying pan and transfer into a deep roasting dish (so as to avoid chicken juice spillages), cover with foil and pop into the oven beside the wedges. Throw your peas into a small pan with boiling water and leave to do their thing until it’s time.
Cook for half an hour, checking periodically, and when happy that the chickens cooked well remove and wrap two rashers of bacon around each chicken breast. Be careful on this bit, the chicken will be hot. Once wrapped, throw them back into the oven for another five minutes and pop your peas on to boil. When the five minutes is up and the bacon has begun to cook nicely, it’s time for the sauce and the cheese to join in. Pour over a generous amount of BBQ sauce onto each breast and then cover with the cheese slice. Then decoratively add a little more BBQ sauce as a topping before returning the chicken to the oven for the final time. By this point the sweet potato will be cooked and the peas boiled, ready for dishing up whilst the cheese melts over the chicken. Once your sides are dished up, it’s time for the chicken to come out and join them on the plate and then hey presto… dinner time.
As usual, choose your drink carefully, and of course responsibly, but on this occassion, one of my favourites by Brewdog is perfect for the job. Low alcohol, light and refreshing. Jobs a memory. Have a go and let me know what you think, plus keep in touch as things are about to get hotter and a little more complicated.