Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beer, Books and CDs

As I mention in my profile I like to read, listen to music and drink beer, although not precisely all at the same time. I find there is too much potential for spillage if I do not pay attention to the drinking bit. I do tend to listen to my MP3 player when cycling - I know that there are people who frown upon such a dangerous thing to do. However I would imagine that many of those no-sayers are motorists who frankly are trying to off-load their responsibility for scaring cyclists off the road. It is a form of risk compensation by proxy. They implicitly believe that cyclists need to do anything and everything so that they can carry on driving their lethal machines without any guilt. Of course they must be allowed to listen to the radio and CDs in the car and woe betide the suggestion that they should not be allowed to hold hands-free telephone conversations. Mind you I do find that there are quite a few motorists who don't bother with the hands-free bit when having a phone conversation whilst driving.

I think that many motorists just do not realise how noisy and unpleasant the roads can be (for pedestrians and cyclists), as they sit in their air-conditioned, sound-insulated boxes. Even when listening to music it is pretty difficult not to hear a car whizz by, inches away. Just a couple of days ago several major accidents in the region caused a lot of traffic to be re-routed along some lesser roads. So what was normally quite a pleasant cycle ride became anything but. I turned off as soon as possible but not before an articulated lorry passed me with around 6 inches to spare. I am not sure if he/she saw my gesticulations in his mirrors but I was both really shocked and angry that he was willing to gamble with my life. We all get annoyed when delayed in traffic and I know that lorry drivers have restrictions on the hours they can drive in a day, but still none of that excuses murder - which in my mind is what it would be.

So time to lighten up a bit and to review some of most recent CDs. I am still of the old school and prefer to buy a CD and then rip it rather than buy music through a download service. I have used iTunes and Amazon but I like to certainty that if my computer crashes I can still play my CD - though I almost never do play CDs. I listen through an Amp which has an Ethernet connection or my desktop when in the house.

My tastes are fairly eclectic, code for disorganised. I have recently bought Far - Regina Spektor, It's Blitz - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lungs - Florence and the Machine and Horehound - The Dead Weather. Once again Regina Spektor delivers a great album, some might think her kooky, but for me she had a wonderful voice, way with words and tunes. This sounded fantastic when listening and cycling the purity of her voice through earphones was superb- 5/5 Current favourite track - Dance Anthem of the 80's

Next up is Horehound from The Death Weather - yet another of Jack White's bands. This took a little time to grow on me - and it was not one of the longest albums, but powerful performances none the less. - 4/4

I've been waiting for Florence and the Machine album for a while - in fact before it had a title - a great first album, quite a range of tracks, which I like - 4/5

last but not least - It's Blitz from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs was better than I had expected. It was a CD that I found myself playing over and over - a lively CD - again good for cycling - not quite in the league of heavy metal which I think best goes with cycling but very good all the same. - 4/5


I am not really a great fan of Crime Fiction, I find it too formulaic. They are like Crossword puzzles for readers - throwing out clues along the way to invite the reader to solve them as a result I think that they miss out on the development of the story and the humanity within the story. I am not sure why I bought this one - it popped up on Amazon I think - in the end I bought it because it can be interesting to read foreign authors and to see if how that foreignness comes though. My brother lived in Sweden for quite a few years as well so as Stieg Larsson is Swedish and this is set in Sweden that was reason enough to overcome my Crime Thriller prejudice. I also like stories that develop over several books - these two books are part of a trilogy - the third is yet to be published.

Well all I can say is that this had story and humanity as well as being a Crime Thriller. I found myself constantly picking the book up to read some more - was really pleased that I had bought two of the three in the series so my reading was not interrupted . I will not say what happens - that's for the reader, but the second book ends on a "cliff" and I almost ordered the third book twice fortunately Amazon flagged up to let me know I had already pre-ordered the third at the same time as the first two. Roll on October.


As to beer - one of my favourite local watering holes is the Dyke's End at Reach. the food is excellent and I often find myself wanting several of the specials - they also have their own (draft) beer and there is nothing more delightful than sitting in their garden on a Summer lunchtime in the sun drinking beer and eating delicious food. Which brings me onto this beer - I find flavoured beers can be a bit pretentious but this stuff does what it says, a lovely summer beer with a lovely aroma and not too strong!


I've probably mentioned this one before, but I like Morland's Speckled Hen - I even had the glass to go with it - but after numerous cycles in the dish washer the glass gave up the ghost. Well they have a slightly darker, raisiny version called "Old Crafty Hen", quite strong but an excellent flavour.


As I sit here I am hoping that it is not going to rain it was sunny earlier but now I am thinking of a quick spin on my bike the clouds are darkening. (And no I have not had any beer.I did have a bit of a twinge in my back which for me is a sure sign of not enough cycling - that's my excuse anyway. Cycling on a properly set up bike is good for my back.

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