2018 Ciders #37: Henney’s Dry Cider

This is another cider that I picked up at Sainsbury’s recently.

Henney's Dry Cider
Henney’s Dry Cider.

It’s another cider that is just as dry as the bottle suggests.  It’s got a slightly cheesy taste that reminds me of West Country real ciders, but there’s still something very smooth about it.  Probably a bit too dry to become a regular in my fridge, though.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #87

Day 87 equals Now! #87, which came out on 7th April 2014.

April 2014
This is how the world looked in April 2014…on a slightly overcast day in Salisbury. That hoodie, along with most of my hoodie collection, is far too big for me now and has been relegated to the pyjama drawer.

Into the mid-’10s already!  2014 was my last full year living in Southampton.  Let’s see what the chart sounded like.

Now! That's What I Call Music #87
Track 1: Pharrell Williams – Happy

It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s very joyful and danceable, so I quite like it.

Track 2: Route 94 and Jess Glynne – My Love

Annoying tune, generic track.  Not keen on this one.

Track 3: Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull – I’m A Freak

Good beat, but the tune’s pretty uninspired, and the chorus is really irritating.

Track 4: Avicii – Hey Brother

Another of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Quite like this track.

Track 5: Katy Perry and Juicy J – Dark Horse

Great atmosphere, and it’s got an okay tune.

Track 6: Sam Smith – Money On My Mind

I find this tune pretty irritating, and I’ve never been a fan of Sam Smith’s falsetto vocals.

Track 7: Little Mix – Word Up!

Pointless cover of the Cameo classic, released as the official Sport Relief single for 2014.  While the cover is pointless, the video is great – highlights include Chris Barrie reprising his role from The Brittas Empire and Melanie C showing she can still do those Spice Girl cartwheels.

Track 8: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She Looks So Perfect

Great bit of pop-rock – really like this tune!

Track 9: Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball

Irritating overblown ballad, not a fan.

Track 10: Pixie Lott – Nasty

Great beat, good big band feel –  very danceable.

Track 11: One Direction – Story Of My Life

Boring, slow, cheesy, and too acoustic-y for me.  Everything I dislike.

Track 12: Gary Barlow – Let Me Go

Okay beat, but the tune is dull.

Track 13: Alesso and OneRepublic – If I Lose Myself

Generic tune – nothing exciting going on here.

Track 14: Gorgon City and MNEK – Ready For Your Love

Another very uninspired track, with a dance beat that’s the same as every other dance beat from this decade.

Track 15: The Vamps – Wild Heart

Too cheesy for me, but it’s got quite a good rhythm.

Track 16: Lady Gaga and R Kelly – Do What U Want

The atmosphere’s okay, but again the tune’s not very interesting.

Track 17: Elyar Fox – Do It All Over Again

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

It’s an okay pop song with a good beat, but it’s pretty forgettable.

Track 18: Katy B – Crying For No Reason

This one’s a bit depressing, but the tune is quite pretty.

Track 19: John Legend – All Of Me

It’s very saccharine, but parts of the tune are absolutely beautiful, so I quite like it.

Track 20: A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera – Say Something

Another boring, mood-killing ballad.

Track 21: Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You

And yet another one.

Track 22: Sam Bailey – Skyscraper

The 2013 X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of a Demi Lovato song.  Nothing interesting here.

Track 23: The Chainsmokers – #Selfie

That title is going to look so dated in decades to come.  Mind you, I don’t think anyone makes pop music with the thought that it’s going to be listened to in the future anymore – it’s all a bit disposable these days.  Anyway, this is interspersed throughout with the most annoying spoken word sample ever, which I think is meant to be the point, but it doesn’t make it in any way pleasant to listen to.

Track 24: Pitbull and Kesha – Timber

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pitbull on track 3.

At my Zumba class in Southampton, we used to do a really fun, high energy, line dance-inspired routine to this, which I absolutely loved.  As such, I’ve got a soft spot for this song.

Track 25: DVBBS, Borgeous and Tinie Tempah – Tsunami (Jump)

Great rhythm – happily nodding along right now.

Track 26: Calvin Harris, Alesso and Hurts – Under Control

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Alesso on track 13.

This is another one with a very unmemorable tune.

Track 27: Martin Garrix and Jay Hardway – Wizard

The hook’s okay, but everything that surrounds it is off – it could have created quite a good atmosphere if the track weren’t so messy.

Track 28: Tiësto – Red Lights

Depressingly generic tune.

Track 29: Duke Dumont and Jax Jones – I Got U

I like the steel drums, but otherwise it’s fairly boring.

Track 30: Bastille – Of The Night

Track completely made up of interpolations of Snap’s Rhythm Is A Dancer and Corona’s The Rhythm Of The Night, so I guess it’s sort of a cover.  I love both tracks so I don’t mind – this compilation has had so many boring forgettable tunes on that it’s a relief to hear a tune I like, even if it’s not original.

Track 31: Example – Kids Again

I like the backing track, but again I’m just not enthused by the tune.

Track 32: Little Mix – Move

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Little Mix on track 7.

This one’s a nice solid bit of pop – good stuff.

Track 33: Neon Jungle – Braveheart

Good solid pop tune – this one’s quite danceable.

Track 34: DJ Fresh, Jay Fay and Ms Dynamite – Dibby Dibby Sound

Bit of a Zumba theme to this playlist, because this is one that we danced to in a Zumba class I was attending in Newcastle last year.  I really need to go back to dance class – I fell out of the habit during the move and am a bit too busy at the moment.  Maybe in the autumn.

Anyway, this one’s a bit repetitive to listen to, but it’s got a good beat.

Track 35: Tujamo, Plastik Funk and Sneakbo – Dr Who!

I’m a bit surprised I ignored this one when it was in the charts, because I’m always looking for daft vaguely Doctor Who-related songs to add to that Doctor Who playlist I’m going to create at some point in the future.

It’s a bit tuneless, but it’s got a good beat.  It’d be nice if the lyrics were slightly more relevant to the title.

Track 36: Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne – Thank You

I find the rap a bit awkward.  Good rhythm, though, and the sample of Alicia Myers’ 1981 hit I Wanna Thank You is awesome.

Track 37: Fuse ODG – Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)

Great atmosphere, good tune.  Really like this one.

Track 38: John Newman – Out Of My Head

Too slow for me, and the tune’s pretty depressing.

Track 39: Sub Focus – Turn Back Time

Bit of ’90s-tinged dance – great atmosphere.

Track 40: Matrix & Futurebound and Max Marshall – Control

Good beat, but this is another forgettable tune.

Track 41: Foxes – Let Go For Tonight

I like that piano at the start, and the chorus is epic.

Track 42: Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You

Interesting tune, good beat.  Not a bad track.

Track 43: Le Youth and Dominique Young Unique – Dance With Me

Great beat, and it’s got a welcome ’80s tinge.  Love the No Scrubs interpolation too.  Good stuff.

Track 44: London Grammar – Hey Now

I quite like the backing track, but the tune’s boring and it’s too slow.

Track 45: Vance Joy – Riptide

Endearingly daft lyrics, feelgood tune.  Big fan of this.

Track 46: American Authors – Best Day Of My Life

Good beat, but it’s a bit too twee for me.

Day out at Newcastle Quayside

Like the rest of the UK, we’ve been enjoying glorious weather here in Newcastle for the past fortnight.  Last weekend, we were able to make the most of it; as I mentioned previously, we were celebrating Geth’s birthday a couple of weeks late, and so on Saturday we went into town for some shopping and food, interspersed with a visit to our favourite beer garden seeing as how it was so nice.

Bridges of the Tyne
View of the bridges of the Tyne from the Free Trade Inn beer garden.

We were fairly lucky to get a space in the Free Trade Inn beer garden – it was a hot Saturday afternoon, which is a rarity, and so the people of Newcastle were out in force in the centre of town – but we did manage it, and Geth immediately made a start on the bar snacks.

Free Trade Inn beer garden
Geth with beer and some kind of pasty/samosa/thing? I wasn’t really paying attention.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on with the light in these pictures – I blame the sun.  Clearly my smartphone camera has become accustomed to British weather and can’t cope with bright light!

Free Trade Inn beer garden
Enjoying the heat! Also very pleased with the way my new Punk Masters T-shirt matches my tattoo.

We’d got all our shopping done fairly efficiently, so we were able to enjoy a good few hours in the sun before our restaurant booking.

Pints of beer and cider
I actually like plastic glasses, even if they’re not very solid to hold – they feel like summer to me!

We then headed to Uno’s Trattoria, one of our favourite Italian restaurants in Newcastle, which Geth had selected for his birthday meal.

Geth with birthday meal
Geth had been looking forward to that pork belly for weeks.

The reason Geth chose Uno’s Trattoria is that, for the last year or so, they’ve had pork belly on the menu, which is one of his favourite foods.  Apparently most Italian restaurants don’t cook meat dishes properly (being a vegetarian I’m generally unaware of these things), but this restaurant must be an exception, as the pork belly went down very well.

Pork belly
Just looks like meat to me, but I’m informed it was very special meat!

I, meanwhile, went for my favourite Italian restaurant treat of pizza:

Rocket and parmesan pizza
That rocket and parmesan topping was immense.

We also had dessert – we both went for the white chocolate cheesecake – but we were so keen to get stuck into it that I forgot to take a picture.

A lovely day out overall.  Happily the weather has continued, and it looks like it’ll be similar this weekend – so we’ll need to take it carefully when running the Great North 10k on Sunday!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #86

Day 86 means Now! #86, which brings us to 18th November 2013.

November 2013
This is the way the world looked in November 2013 (actually December). I call this look ‘goth squeezes into too-small clothes and goes to a wedding’. Not a style highlight. Mum looks nice though!

On with the party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #86
Track 1: Katy Perry – Roar

It’s nice and feelgood, but I find the tune a bit irritating and the theme too cheesy.

Track 2: OneRepublic – Counting Stars

Gorgeous tune, wonderful rhythm.  Love this one.

Track 3: Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – Talk Dirty

It’s very danceable, with a great beat.  The trumpets are awesome too.

Track 4: Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop

This one is really irritating and a bit depressing.

Track 5: Avicii – Wake Me Up

The first of Avicii’s EDM-bluegrass crossovers.  Great stuff.

Track 6: Storm Queen – Look Right Through [MK Vocal Edit]

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 7: Martin Garrix – Animals

This dance tune, on the other hand, is great!  Love the hook.

Track 8: Ellie Goulding – Burn

One of my favourites from this decade – it’s a stunning tune, and the atmosphere is beautiful.

Track 9: Drake and Majid Jordan – Hold On, We’re Going Home

Quite like the tune on this – there’s something a bit ’80s retro about it.  The video is apparently also set in 1985, although I have to say I never noticed that when watching it at the time!

Track 10: James Arthur – You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You

Moving decades, there’s a slight mid-century tinge to the intro of this rock-edged track.  The theme’s awful, but I quite like the song.

Track 11: Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know?

A very welcome bit of rock in this pop/EDM/hip-hop dominated decade.  Good stuff.

Track 12: Lorde – Royals

I like the theme, but I’m not hugely keen on the tune, and it’s a bit slow for me.

Track 13: Foxes – Youth

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s really boring.

Track 14: Lady Gaga – Applause

Great track – I love the edge on this.  Another epic atmosphere.

Track 15: Bruno Mars – Gorilla

Again, there’s a great atmosphere on this, but it’s a little slow for me.

Track 16: One Direction – Best Song Ever

Horribly cheesy theme, generic tune.

Track 17: Jessie J – It’s My Party

Not a cover of the Lesley Gore song, despite the name.  It’s got a good beat, but the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 18: The Vamps – Can We Dance

It’s a bit of a generic pop-rock track, but I quite like it.

Track 19: Lawson – Juliet

Good atmosphere and slight reggae tinge!  Great to hear an actual interesting track from Lawson.

Track 20: The Wanted – Show Me Love (America)

Saccharine ballad, dull tune, though the chorus is okay.

Track 21: James Blunt – Bonfire Heart

Too acoustic-y for me, and the tune’s not very exciting.

Track 22: Lily Allen – Somewhere Only We Know

Melancholy piano cover of the Keane song, released to soundtrack the John Lewis Christmas advert for 2013.  As I mentioned when reviewing the Keane version on Now! #57, I actually prefer it to the original.

Track 23: Fatboy Slim, Riva Starr and Beardyman – Eat Sleep Rave Repeat [Calvin Harris Remix]

It’s perfectly danceable, but there’s not much of a tune.

Track 24: Calvin Harris and Ayah Marar – Thinking About You

Boring beat, boring tune.  Very generic track.

Track 25: Avicii – You Make Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Avicii on track 5.

This one’s got some interesting instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals is a bit irritating.

Track 26: DJ Fresh, Diplo and Dominique Young Unique – Earthquake

Great beat – I really like this one.

Track 27: Klangkarussell and Will Heard – Sonnentanz (Sun Don’t Shine)

I find this kind of summer chillout electro really depressing.

Track 28: Lana Del Rey and Cedric Gervais – Summertime Sadness

Stunning tune, lovely melancholy theme.  Big fan of this.

Track 29: will.i.am and Leah McFall – Bang Bang

Awesome jazz-inspired track, released for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby.  Really like this one.

Track 30: Ben Pearce – What I Might Do

There’s nothing exciting going on here – it’s very forgettable.

Track 31: Chase & Status and Moko – Count On Me

Very ’90s-tinged, which I appreciate, but the tune’s pretty bland.

Track 32: Tinie Tempah and John Martin – Children Of The Sun

I find the tune on the chorus a bit irritating, but the rap is good.

Track 33: Sean Paul – Other Side Of Love

Nice tune – quite like this one.

Track 34: Conor Maynard – R U Crazy

Great rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 35: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Lifted

Good beat, but the tune is boring.

Track 36: Rizzle Kicks – Lost Generation

Nice eerie atmosphere – good track.

Track 37: Ray Foxx and Rachel K Collier – Boom Boom (Heartbeat)

Nice tune, and the beat’s great once it gets going.

Track 38: John Newman – Cheating

Some interesting instrumentals going on here.

Track 39: Eliza Doolittle – Big When I Was Little

This one is insanely annoying – I actively dislike both the theme and the vocals.

Track 40: The Saturdays – Disco Love

Awesome classic pop feel, and great 20th century retro references throughout, with a highly recommended video to match!  I remember actually being quite spooked by the accuracy of the 1999 scene in the video, as the hair and makeup is so well done it gave me flashbacks.

Track 41: Wilkinson – Afterglow

I find this tune pretty bland and repetitive.

Track 42: Showtek, We Are Loud and Sonny Wilson – Booyah

Another one that’s pretty unmemorable.

Track 43: Dizzee Rascal and will.i.am – Something Really Bad

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had will.i.am on track 29.

Some interesting lines going on here – quite like this track.

Track 44: Ylvis – The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)

Daft novelty song.  Great tune, though.

Phone Box Thursday: City Square, Leeds

We’re still in Leeds town centre, and today we’re looking at a rather handsome row of four red phone boxes in City Square.

Red phone boxes
Red phone boxes, City Square, Leeds, 24th July 2016.

Each of the phone boxes is very well preserved, so clearly Leeds city council have put some work into these ones.

Red phone boxes
The four phone boxes are all in good condition – no smashed windows or graffiti here.

They frame the restaurant building very nicely!

Red phone boxes
Handy if you’re eating at the restaurant, need to make a phone call, and are so much of a 20th century throwback that you don’t have a mobile (I salute your dedication if so!)

Join us again next week for more Leeds phone boxes.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #85

Day 85 takes us to Now! #85, which was released on 22nd July 2013.

July 2013
This is how the world looked in July 2013. Geth and I were on a trip up to Edinburgh when one of those rare-for-Scotland 30°C days arrived, and the one thing I’d not packed was a swimsuit, so all I could do on this beach trip was paddle. Since then, I’ve packed one every time I’ve gone away during the summer, just in case.

I believe this was a good year for summer hits.  Let’s see if I’m remembering correctly.

Now! That's What I Call Music #85
Track 1: Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky

Great feelgood funk track – love this tune.

Track 2: Robin Thicke, TI and Pharrell Williams – Blurred Lines

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve only just had Pharrell Williams on track 1.

This track…urgh.  Infamously and rightly banned by the University of Edinburgh student union, among various other music-playing organisations, because the lyrics are really rapey and gross.  The sad thing is that it would be a really great track if it weren’t for the lyrics, ’cause the tune is great and it’s really danceable.

Track 3: Passenger – Let Her Go

Gorgeous, introspective tune – really like this one.

Track 4: Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

Nice epic atmosphere, great track.

Track 5: Naughty Boy and Sam Smith – La La La

The theme is slightly irritating, but overall it’s an interesting song, which is unusual for an era where most things are really samey.

Track 6: Icona Pop and Charli XCX – I Love It

Great chant-along track – I’ve always really liked this one!

Track 7: John Newman – Love Me Again

Another song that I really like.  The instrumentals are great.

Track 8: Jason Derulo – The Other Side

Forgettable tune, but the chorus is nice and epic.

Track 9: Pink and Lily Allen – True Love

I find this one a bit cheesy and annoying.

Track 10: Taylor Swift – 22

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 11: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna

Every time I run the Great North Run, I find that because it’s the biggest race in the UK and the biggest half marathon in the world – nearly 60,000 runners these days – there’s no shortage of characters to keep me entertained (and believe me, you need that when running along miles and miles of identical-looking motorway).  One guy runs the race with a portable karaoke machine, and last year, when I encountered him, he was doing this song – except he’d changed the lyrics to ‘I can’t sing, I can’t dance, but who cares, I run like Mo Farah‘.  It’s possible you had to be there, but I found it hilarious, and it really got me through the rest of the race.  Thanks for that, portable karaoke guy!

Anyway, it’s another solid pop song.

Track 12: Bruno Mars – Treasure

Bruno Mars still doing his 1980 pastiches – today he’s aping Michael Jackson.  Good stuff.

Track 13: Olly Murs – Dear Darlin’

This one’s a bit of a dull ballad, so I’m not keen.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Heart Attack

Great song with an awesome epic chorus.  Love it.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Come And Get It

Great tune – love the rhythm on this one.

Track 16: PJ & Duncan – Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble

’90s classic, back in the charts to raise money for Childline.  It actually got to number one this time round, probably because Ant & Dec had promised to perform it on Saturday Night Takeaway.  It’s still as enjoyably daft as it was in 1994.

Track 17: Iggy Azalea – Bounce

Good beat, but there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 18: Fuse ODG – Antenna

Love the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 19: Nelly – Hey Porsche

The theme really irritates me, and the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 20: Paramore – Still Into You

Great tune, though the theme is a bit cheesy.

Track 21: Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

I was talking about this one yesterday when reviewing the identically-titled Rita Ora song.  On the whole it’s a bit dull, but it’s got a great chorus.

Track 22: Gabz – Lighters (The One)

Cringeworthy kiddie vocals, appallingly cheesy theme.  Just awful.

Track 23: Rudimental and Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night

Great beat, okay tune, but it’s pretty repetitive.

Track 24: Jessie J, Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal – Wild

Bland tune on the verses, but the chorus is okay.

Track 25: Duke Dumont and A*M*E – Need U (100%)

I find the vocals really irritating on this one.

Track 26: will.i.am and Justin Bieber – #thatPOWER

Very generic electro lines, boring tune.

Track 27: David Guetta, Ne-Yo and Akon – Play Hard

Great rhythm, great bassline, great Better Off Alone sample.  Annoying video, but you can’t have everything.

Track 28: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love

I’ve always found the tune on this one very irritating.

Track 29: Pitbull and Christina Aguilera – Feel This Moment

Annoying, repetitive track, but the Take On Me interpolation is quite fun.

Track 30: Sebastian Ingrosso, Tommy Trash and John Martin – Reload

Boring dance track, very forgettable tune.

Track 31: Armin van Buuren and Trevor Guthrie – This Is What It Feels Like

Fairly bland dance song with an annoying chorus.

Track 32: Chase & Status and Louis Mattrs – Lost And Not Found

Nice atmosphere, but the vocals are really dull.

Track 33: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

Another boring tune, one of those ‘summer chillout’ tracks that were all the rage at the time.

Track 34: Disclosure and Eliza Doolittle – You And Me

Dull and forgettable.

Track 35: Breach – Jack

Very little melody in this – just drum machine, spoken word and fairly tuneless bassline – but at least it’s something different.

Track 36: Wiley, Angel and Tinchy Stryder – Lights On

Bland tune, but at least this one’s actually got a tune.  Very forgettable though.

Track 37: Dizzee Rascal and Robbie Williams – Goin’ Crazy

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Dizzee Rascal on track 24.

Interesting rhythm, but again the tune’s very uninspired.

Track 38: Psy – Gentleman

Follow-up to Gangnam Style that obviously wasn’t anywhere near as memorable as the original.

Track 39: The 1975 – Chocolate

Love this tune – great instrumentals, great lyrics.

Track 40: Union J – Carry You

Saccharine and bland.

Track 41: The Saturdays – Gentleman

A slightly more standard song about a ‘gentleman‘ than Psy’s attempt above.  It’s actually quite edgy for the Saturdays, and I like the retro references in the lyrics.  Good stuff.

Track 42: Charlie Brown – On My Way

Slow ballad, not my thing.

Track 43: Tom Odell – Another Love

Lovely piano at the start, and it’s got a nice atmosphere – quite like this tune.

Track 44: Michael Bublé – It’s A Beautiful Day

Nice and upbeat, but the song’s a bit too cheesy for me.

Recipe Wednesday: all-day breakfast

As I’ve mentioned previously, in the last few weeks of trying to get to my Slimming World target, I tried doing a few SP days.  Since getting to target, I’ve stuck with this habit the day before weigh-in, because I’m still getting to grips with maintaining and the summer has always been my most difficult time SW-wise – there are lots of special events like holidays and festivals going on, afternoons in beer gardens, and cravings for ice cream.

As such, I’ve settled into a pattern of having all-day breakfast for tea on a Wednesday night, because it doesn’t require cheese, which means I can use my Healthy Extra A for milk to go with my bran flakes, which are my additional Healthy Extra B choice on an SP day.

All-day breakfast
All-day breakfast. Nice and light for pre-weigh-in night – well, it is compared to the huge bowls of pasta I usually eat!

If Geth’s eating with me, he often helps out with cooking this one, because he really likes cooking sausages or thinks he’s better at it or something.  You start by frying sausages (I use Linda McCartney regular vegetarian sausages* but obviously if you’re a meat-eater you can use low-syn pork ones) in Fry Light, turning every few minutes.  After about ten minutes, you add sliced mushrooms to the pan, and then when everything’s got about five minutes left to cook, you add the halved tomatoes.  Finally, while the fried food is finishing up, scramble some plain beaten eggs in a non-stick pan.  Dish up and serve with a sprinkling of ground black pepper.

Ratio-wise for SP, I try and match the combined volume of tomatoes and mushrooms to the total volume of eggs in order to stick to the rules.  The sausages are synned rather than ‘S’ or ‘P’ so they don’t count towards either half of the plate.

*I have to use regular Linda McCartney sausages (half a syn each) rather than the rosemary and red onion ones I normally have (which are free), because on SP days you can’t have any free food that’s not ‘S’ or ‘P’.  This seems a bit counterproductive to me, but them’s the rules.  There aren’t any veggie sausages in either the Quorn or Linda McCartney lines that have enough protein to be classed as ‘P’ foods, more’s the pity – Quorn mince and chicken style pieces are both ‘P’, but not the sausages.  Hopefully this will change at some point.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #84

Day 84 equals Now! #84, which came out on 25th March 2013.

March 2013
This is how the world looked in March 2013 – to be precise, how it looked on Six Nations finale night. My unlucky Scotland jersey, as usual, did nothing to prevent Scotland getting the wooden spoon, but what made up for it was being with about six Welsh people on the night that Wales stole the championship from right under England’s nose, hence the giant Welsh flag that we pinned to the wall. You can imagine how well this went down in a Southampton pub.

Let’s see what the hits were that spring.

Now! That's What I Call Music #84
Track 1: One Direction – One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)

Pointless cover mash-up of Blondie’s One Way Or Another and the Undertones’ Teenage Kicks.  This was the Comic Relief single for 2013, so I guess charity fundraising is the excuse for ruining both of these classic songs.

Track 2: will.i.am and Britney Spears – Scream And Shout

I really like this danceable track, especially the well-done callback to Gimme More.

Track 3: Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble

I quite like this tune, and it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 4: Pink and Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason

Great song – love the way the duet works here.

Track 5: Rihanna – Diamonds

Another pretty tune.  Very nice.

Track 6: Bastille – Pompeii

Epic and anthemic – love this one.

Track 7: James Arthur – Impossible

The annual inclusion of the most recent X Factor winner, this year doing a pointless cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, which was not a great song to begin with.

Track 8: Olly Murs and Flo Rida – Troublemaker

I quite like this jaunty track – it’s got a great singalong chorus.

Track 9: Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven

This is from my favourite Bruno Mars era, when he started doing all these pastiches of artists that were big circa 1980.  This song sounds like it should have been released by the Police.

Track 10: Kesha – Die Young

Nice beat, but the tune’s pretty forgettable.

Track 11: Bridgit Mendler – Ready Or Not

Irritating vocals, boring tune, and the chorus has a poorly-done interpolation of the Delfonics ’60s song (which was already done much better by the Fugees).  Nothing impressive here.

Track 12: Little Mix – DNA

Great epic atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit weak.

Track 13: The Saturdays and Sean Paul – What About Us

Another bland, forgettable song.

Track 14: Girls Aloud – Something New

Love this one!  Girls Aloud sort of came to a natural finish at the end of the ’00s, and so this special tenth anniversary track is really the only thing they’ve done as a group this decade.  Better one cracker than lots of poor tracks, though, and this song is great.

Track 15: Nicole Scherzinger – Boomerang

Good rhythm, but this is another uninspired tune.

Track 16: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Latch

I appreciate that it’s a bit different from most stuff that was in the charts at the time, but it’s not my kind of thing – the tune is generic and I’m not into this kind of chillout/trance stuff.

Track 17: Rita Ora – Radioactive

I usually get this one confused with the identically-titled Imagine Dragons song that came out around the same time.  This one’s probably my less-preferred (though there’s not much in it – the Imagine Dragons song is pretty dull too), because the tune’s very bland, but it does have a good electro backing track.

Track 18: Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

I quite like the instrumentals, but the tune on the vocals annoys me.

Track 19: Christina Perri – A Thousand Years

Boring ballad off the Twilight soundtrack, but at least she doesn’t sound quite as horribly off-key as she does in Jar Of Hearts.

Track 20: Emeli Sandé – Clown

I find the theme a bit awkward, and it’s too slow for me.

Track 21: Gabrielle Aplin – The Power Of Love

This was one of the first of the big ‘Christmas advert’ hits that have been a feature of Christmas music this decade.  Take a classic song, record a slow, melancholy, piano-based cover with female vocals, slap it over the top of an expensive John Lewis Christmas advert, debut the advert during an X Factor ad break in early November, job done.  Christmas classic guaranteed.

Of course, this was already a Christmas classic, and has been ever since Frankie Goes To Hollywood released the original in 1984.  Gabrielle Aplin’s version is very pretty, but it doesn’t have the pure emotional power of the Frankie version – Holly Johnson’s performance of the second verse is capable of moving me to tears when I’m in the right place, and Aplin just can’t compare.  Still, it is enjoyable, even if July is really not when I want to be hearing Christmas songs.

Track 22: Avicii and Nicky Romero – I Could Be The One

I love this dance track – obviously it’s got a great beat, but there’s also something very wistful about the vocals.  I actually can’t think of anyone who was better than Avicii (RIP) at emotion-inducing EDM.

Track 23: Bingo Players and Far East Movement – Get Up (Rattle)

Daft tune, but it’s a good head-nodder.

Track 24: Pitbull and TJR – Don’t Stop The Party

Messy and irritating.

Track 25: Calvin Harris and Tinie Tempah – Drinking From The Bottle

Good beat, and I really like Tinie Tempah’s rap on this one.

Track 26: Dizzee Rascal – Bassline Junkie

Daft theme, but I find it very funny.  Good stuff.

Track 27: Wiley, Chipmunk and Dayo Olatunji – Reload

Boring tune, and there’s too much going on with the track.

Track 28: Rudimental, John Newman and Alex Clare – Not Giving In

Slow and dull intro, and the tune’s very irritating.

Track 29: Conor Maynard and Wiley – Animal

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Wiley on track 27.

The rap’s very bland, as is the tune, and the whole thing’s just a bit repetitive.

Track 30: Disclosure and AlunaGeorge – White Noise

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Disclosure on track 16.

This one takes ages to get going.  The electro hook’s okay, but the vocals are super bland.

Track 31: Devlin and Diane Birch – Rewind

Another very forgettable song.  Also, part of the melody on the chorus rips off Heart’s Alone, which has been an irritating theme in recent Now! compilations.

Track 32: Lawson – Standing In The Dark

A little more upbeat than previous Lawson tracks, but it’s still a very bland, saccharine song.

Track 33: Biffy Clyro – Black Chandelier

I saw Biffy Clyro once.  It was the worst gig I’ve ever been to.  Not because of Biffy Clyro, I hasten to add – they were fine to listen to, although the heavier stuff they were playing as the second support band in 2003 wasn’t really my thing.  The main act was Linkin Park, who were okay (and I am glad I got to see them given sad future events), but the SECC in Glasgow had done this thing (I don’t know if it was by band request or what) where they barriered off a huge semicircle around the stage and only let about fifteen people into it, leaving the remaining hundreds of gig-goers to squash uncomfortably round the outside of the barrier and completely ruining the atmosphere.  The only person onstage who seemed to be on the audience’s side was Ian Watkins of Lostprophets, the main support band, and I don’t really want to give him credit seeing as how he turned out to be a sex offender.

Anyway, I never went back to the SECC again.  Barrowlands all the way if it was a Glasgow gig, even if I did lose a lot of brain cells and earrings over the years through being booted in the head by crowdsurfers.

I think what I’m trying to say is that this song’s a lot more interesting than the stuff Biffy were doing back in 2003.  I quite like the vocal hook at the start, and the chorus is great.

Track 34: Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)

There’s a nice atmospheric chant-along bit on this one – quite like the track.

Track 35: McFly – Love Is Easy

Twee and irritating.  I should note that Geth appreciated the It’s A Wonderful Life sample though.

Track 36: Ben Howard – Only Love

I find this tune pretty annoying.

Track 37: The Lumineers – Ho Hey

It’s a bit twee, but it’s quite a nice, jaunty song.

Track 38: One Direction – Little Things

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had One Direction on track 1.

This one is an irritating saccharine ballad with an irritating black and white video where One Direction sit around and play acoustic guitars in an attempt to look like serious musicians.  The song was apparently written by Ed Sheeran, which will surprise no one.

It was also number one on Geth’s and my wedding day, which is far from ideal.

Track 39: Pink – Try

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Pink on track 4.

This one is a gorgeous tune though – really like it.

Track 40: Gabrielle Aplin – Please Don’t Say You Love Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Gabrielle Aplin on track 21.

The only thing this song achieves is proving that she should have been a one-hit wonder.  Dull and uninspired.

Track 41: Fleetwood Mac – Everywhere

1987 classic, back in the charts due to a mobile phone advert.  Not complaining here at all – I’m very partial to Fleetwood Mac, and this is one of my favourites.

Track 42: Ellie Goulding – Explosions

Not keen on that choral bit at the start, and on the whole it’s too slow for me and I don’t find the tune interesting enough.

Track 43: The Justice Collective – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).

Charity cover of the ’60s classic to raise funds for Hillsborough victims’ charities, and the Christmas number one for 2012.  Some good voice-spotting to be done here.

2018 Ciders #36: Old Mout Berries and Cherries

I believe this is a new flavour of Old Mout – it’s certainly not one I’ve had before.

Old Mout Berries and Cherries
Old Mout Berries and Cherries.

This is a lovely fruit cider with that typical perfect Old Mout level of sweetness.  It’s also divinely brambly (brambles = blackberries if you’re not Scottish), which gives it one of the best tastes of any new cider I’ve tried this year.  It’s not quite up there with Kiwi and Lime, but it’s definitely a strong contender for my second favourite Old Mout flavour, which is impressive after just one bottle.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #83

Day 83 equals Now! #83, which brings us to 19th November 2012 – just four days before mine and Geth’s wedding.

November 2012
This is the way the world looked in November 2012. Not every day looks like your wedding day – to put it mildly – but on that day the world looked very good indeed, and so did we.

I am proud to report that we played absolutely none of the following songs at our wedding disco.  Not even Gangnam Style.

Now! That's What I Call Music #83
Track 1: Psy – Gangnam Style

It’s still hilarious nearly six years later, and very danceable, even if you’re not inclined to do the comedy dance that goes with the song.

Track 2: Robbie Williams – Candy

Nice feelgood tune that gave Robbie Williams an unexpected number one later in his career.  Good song.

Track 3: Swedish House Mafia and John Martin – Don’t You Worry Child

The theme is pretty cheesy, and the tune is a bit bland.

Track 4: Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Great folk-pop track with an awesome singalong chorus – really like this one.

Track 5: The Wanted – I Found You

Good danceable track, but the tune’s a bit bland.

Track 6: Calvin Harris and Florence Welch – Sweet Nothing

Another boring tune – not keen on this one.

Track 7: Maroon 5 – One More Night

Great reggae-tinged beat – this one’s a great head-nodder.

Track 8: Wiley, Skepta, JME and Dayo Olatunji – Can You Hear Me? (Ayayaya)

Love those steel drums at the start – good tune, great rhythm.

Track 9: Flo Rida – I Cry

I quite like the tune on this one – despite the title, it’s quite feelgood.

Track 10: Ne-Yo – Let Me Love You (Until You Learn To Love Yourself)

Irritating tune, even more irritating theme.

Track 11: Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen – Good Time

Another annoying tune, and the theme is really cheesy.

Track 12: Katy Perry – Wide Awake

Again, a very bland tune.

Track 13: Pink – Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Great beat, and I love the instrumentals.

Track 14: Little Mix – Wings

Good solid pop track – very danceable.

Track 15: Stooshe – Waterfalls

Uninspired cover of the TLC classic.  What’s kind of irritating is that the surviving members of TLC show up in the video.

Track 16: JLS – Hottest Girl In The World

Good beat, but in general I find this track a bit messy and jarring.

Track 17: Nicki Minaj – Pound The Alarm

Another very danceable track, another fairly forgettable tune.

Track 18: Redlight – Lost In Your Love

Dull, repetitive tune, and the messy beat gives me a headache.

Track 19: Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)

Boring, bland track – not enough melody for me.

Track 20: Cheryl – Under The Sun

It’s got quite a nice retro tinge, but the tune’s fairly forgettable.

Track 21: Wiley and Dayo Olatunji – Heatwave

Double repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had both Wiley and Dayo Olatunji on track 8.

Great rhythm, but the vocals are repetitive and irritating (and it’s never clear whether the lyric is ‘body‘ or ‘party‘).

Track 22: Sam & The Womp – Bom Bom

Daft track that’s a lot of fun.  Happily chair-dancing right now.

Track 23: Labrinth and Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful

I know the grammar of that title looks horrible – it’s actually because they’re using ‘beautiful’ as a noun rather than misspelling ‘you’re’.  Still wrong, but not a your/you’re fail.  ‘Beneath Your Beauty’ is what they actually mean.

Anyway, the song’s a slow, saccharine ballad, and I’m not keen on those.

Track 24: The Script and will.i.am – Hall Of Fame

Collaboration cooked up between will.i.am and Script singer Danny O’Donoghue, who were both coaches on The Voice at the time.  It’s a bit awkward and poor.

Track 25: Florence & The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name) [Calvin Harris Remix]

Not technically a repeated artist alert, but this is the second collaboration between Florence Welch and Calvin Harris on this Now! compilation.

This tune is epic and gorgeous.  Lovely stuff.

Track 26: David Guetta and Sia – She Wolf (Falling To Pieces)

Boring, forgettable tune, and I don’t find any of the hooks very interesting.

Track 27: Calvin Harris and Example – We’ll Be Coming Back

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Calvin Harris on track 6, and sort of on track 25.

Nice atmosphere though, and the tune’s quite pretty.

Track 28: Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen

I find this one pretty dull.

Track 29: Naughty Boy and Emeli Sandé – Wonder

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Emeli Sandé on track 23.

Not keen on this tune – I find it a bit twee.

Track 30: Conor Maynard and Ne-Yo – Turn Around

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ne-Yo on track 10.

This one’s another boring, uninspired tune.

Track 31: One Direction – Live While We’re Young

Extremely bland tune – very forgettable.

Track 32: Chris Brown – Don’t Wake Me Up

Irritating spoken word bit at the start, dull saccharine vocals.  Not a fan.

Track 33: Amelia Lily – You Bring Me Joy

Another dull, forgettable song.

Track 34: Fun – Some Nights

Good tune – there’s something a bit folk-rock about this one.

Track 35: Example – Say Nothing

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Example on track 27.

This is another bland, uninspired tune.

Track 36: Lawson – Taking Over Me

Too cheesy for me.

Track 37: Karmin – Brokenhearted

Yet another forgettable song.

Track 38: Trey Songz – Simply Amazing

Again, this one’s far too saccharine for my liking.

Track 39: Simple Plan and Sean Paul – Summer Paradise

Nice jaunty track, though it’s a bit cheesy.

Track 40: Angel – Wonderful

This tune’s okay, and there are some interesting instrumentals going on too.

Track 41: Devlin and Ed Sheeran – Watchtower

The chorus samples/covers Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower, and there’s also a bit of the guitar riff from the Jimi Hendrix version.  Other than that, it’s mainly a rap, which I’m not keen on.

Track 42: Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait

I find this tune really dull, and a bit depressing.

Track 43: Elbow – One Day Like This

2008 hit that was back in the charts for 2012 – I can’t remember why.  Classic tune though, and that repeated anthemic hook at the end is epic.