Tag Archives: review

Death in Paradise – Review

I don’t know if you are all familiar with Death in Paradise – if you aren’t I’m afraid this might not be the post for you.

It’s average. The setting, a Caribbean Island, is outstanding, the cast is strong and they work well together, and the lead actors have all been good. Some of the plots have been as good as anything you will find anywhere, others have been weak. Last night’s, I felt, was weak, far-fetched and was on shaky ground ballistically. In these days we have all been trained by  CSI we all expect good science.

The plots are also formulaic, with a set-up, a moment where the Inspector has a revelation, and  gathering of suspects for a Christie style denouement. Unfortunately they often fail to develop character in the suspects and I’m not really bothered who did it, or if there are consequences.

That’s not to say I don’t like the series, I do. It’s pleasant and easy to watch, the plots are mostly acceptable and there are plenty of secondary stories to keep me pleasantly involved.

Regarding the main actors – the Detective Inspectors from London – they have all been slightly quirky and have all been played by decent actors. I like Ben Miller and I like Kris Marshall, and they both played the part well. I was a little concerned over Ardal O’Hanlon as he was a bigger name than the other two, and could well have overpowered it, but he didn’t. I had no worries with Ralf Little coming in because he’s done some good stuff over the years. And I was wrong.

I have no problem with Ralf Little as an actor, and from what I’ve seen and read think he seems like a good bloke, but he has been saddled with such an unbelievable and dislikeable character that it isn’t working for me. And as the formulaic quirky DI begins to creak the whole nature of the programme starts to fail.

This, of course, is just my opinion. I’m not a drama critic, and I set out to write a blog post about medallions, so have been side-tracked again. Did anyone else see it, and if you did, what did you think?

Sorry about the photos – it’s the best I can do, as photos of the Caribbean aren’t really a feature of my work.

Banknote from Suriname

Banknote from Suriname

Breakfast at Sainsbury’s (Scone Chronicles XXVII)

I’m going to have to up my work rate after what I said in the last post. This is therefore going to be the first of two posts today.

We have not had a good time at Sainsbury’s at Arnold recently. Twice before Christmas we went in and ordered Beef Baguettes. The first time we tried, we were told there there were no baguettes. I pointed out that they had a shop full of baguettes. It seems that they aren’t allowed to use them.

The second time it was a lack of beef that interfered with the plan. We had festive toasties instead, which allegedly contained turkey and stuffing, but tasted of cotton wool and ketchup.

When we found that the place was crowded at 11.30 I nearly didn’t bother stopping, but I’d promised Julia a day out, which, in my view, means that she doesn’t have to make breakfast.

The cafe was full, many of the tables for four being monopolised by a solitary coffin dodger who was on first name terms with the staff. Say what you like about quality of a service (and I will cover that fully in a later paragraph) , they know how to treat the elderly and I may well move in when I’m a few years older.

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Tea – note the cup for a milk jug

i got a table for two while Julia ordered the food. It needed clearing and wiping down. So did many of the others. A member of kitchen staff emerged at one point, cleared the pots off one table, left the crumbs and went back into the kitchen, never to be seen again.

One lady went as far as to get the table wiping equipment from the staff and wipe her own table down, also wiping the table for a lady in a wheelchair. To be fair, we are supposed to take our own pots away, and it must add more work when people are too lazy, or too arrogant, to clear the table after eating. On the other hand the staff should keep the place clean – I’m paying enough and should have a clean place to eat.

When Julia arrived with the tea I noted the milk was in a coffee cup, rather than a receptacle designed for pouring milk. Again, we paid enough for them to provide a small jug.

It’s just minor details, but it’s annoying that people can’t get the simple things right. For an echo of these thoughts seethis post, though I note there are one or two typos in it – sorry for that.

The food arrived quite quickly, and a member of staff took it on a tour of the cafe before finding us, so we were never in danger of burning our mouths.

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Big Breakfast – Sainsbury’s, Arnold

The breakfast report –

Portion size – good

Sausages – excellent and herby

Hash Browns – crispy and delicious

Beans – average, after all opening a can and heating beans is not a skilled job

Mushroom – excellent

Toast – average, another unskilled job that is difficult to do badly

Eggs – borderline – a hint of snottiness to the white means they were slightly undercooked

Bacon – this could take some time. There is a division of opinion on whether bacon should be crispy or pink and juicy. I favour pink and juicy myself but if the cook does it crispy I’ll eat that too. However, I’m not aware that there is a school of thought that says bacon should be cooked until hard, tied in a knot and basted with grease before being dumped on the plate. If there is such a school of thought I can recommend the cook at Sainbury’s in Arnold.

The bacon actually looks quite nice in the photo. But trust me, it wasn’t. And it was salty too.

So, despite the lack of cleanliness, mediocre efficiency and patchy breakfast, how was it?

Pretty good, to be honest. The good bits of the breakfast were very good, the staff are always friendly and cheerful, even if they do get behind with the cleaning and, judgingh by the way they get on with their regular ancient customers, they are providing a valuable community service.

I suspect the staff are great and the management is poor.

Would I recommend it despite my sarcasm and criticism?

Yes, though its constant failings with cleaning and detail are a bit wearing. On a good day it’s probably the best local breakfast, but the good days are, at the moment, in a minority.

Breakfast Review – Sainsbury’s

This review relates to breakfast at Sainsbury’s Arnold store, just outside Nottingham. As luck would have it, they also had a decent cook on today and we had a good, enjoyable meal. If a proper reviewer had been on the job, you would probably have had a photograph too. But I didn’t take my camera and I left my phone in the car.

I’m not really a fan of the current Sainsbury’s set up as the coffee set-up slows things down and, as a tea drinker, I don’t see why I should stand in a queue for 10 or 15 minutes as people are served, at great length, with coffee. In the good old days, when British establishments served a choice of tea or instant coffee I didn’t mind coffee drinker,s but now I have to stand round while they decide on which of the eight coffees to have I find them quite irritating.

However, today there was no queue, and we soon ordered (two Big Breakfasts and two teas) and sat down at one of the few remaining tables. It was filthy – covered in rings from cups, with a selection of crumbs and some horrible sticky patches with fluff in them.

Breakfast arrived swiftly and was excellently cooked and presented. This is not always the case.

The fried egg looked good, the sausages and bacon were both excellent (for taste and presentation). The hash brown was particularly good today, the toast was also good and so were the beans. Even the half tomato was reasonable, though a half tomato always looks a bit miserly to me.

So, that’s it. When the system is working well it is capable of producing an excellent breakfast. To be fair, it isn’t always as quick, well cooked and nicely presented as this – the last few visits here have included crusty beans and congealed eggs that seem to have been flung randomly at the plate.

In terms of a star rating – if the tables had been clean today’s breakfast would have been 5 stars. On an average day, with a queue and a breakfast that’s been flung at the plate it’s probably a 4 – good but could be better.

At £11.40 it’s not as good as the Little Chef Olympic Breakfast, but it’s almost half the price.

I’m going to try to persuade Julia to make breakfast reviews a regular feature of the blog. Wish me luck!

 

 

Desert Island Blogs

Based on Desert Island Discs – I will be selecting 8 blogs to read on a desert island plus a book and luxury item.

Opening music.

First off, johnknifton.com. Eclectic is a good word for this blog which can cover a vast range of subjects over a space of days – slavery, bombers in WW2, true crime, Nottingham history, executions, Nottingham High School, football, birds and Nazis all feature. I’ve just spent most of the day catching up with his last few posts and following various avenues of research suggested by the reading. Some of these posts open up a whole new world, make sure you have the time to take it all in.

This is one for when you want to sit down and ponder the ways of the world, to the sound of the lapping waves as you drink from your coconut and sit under an umbrella made from palm fronds. (I’m assuming this is going to be a proper tropical island rather than an island off the west coast of Scotland).

Next, Ramblings by derrickjknight. He looks like an amiable sort when you see his picture, all twinkling eyes and avuncular whiskers, but when the time is right he can be merciless in dealing with things that displease him, which are generally things that displease me too.

As a setter of crosswords he’s quite capable of slipping the odd pun, so you need to keep your wits about you when reading.

With an excellent garden and an endless supply of nutritious meals provided by the admirable Head Gardener he would be the blog to turn to when I wanted to think of home.

Number three, and the final selection for today – Tootlepedal, of Tootlepedal’s Blog. From the Scottish borders he posts a huge selection of bird, bee, butterfly and flower photographs and still finds time to cycle immense distances, sing, cook, eat treacle scones, visit family and take (more) pictures of landscapes, livestock, churches and bridges. I’ve had to miss a few things out as there isn’t room. Yes, he’s that busy.

Something I’ve noticed about his blogs is that it’s nearly always sunny, and his garden seems to be weeks ahead of ours despite being further north. I’m starting to think this is some sort of Blandings Castle effect. Have you ever noticed that it’s always summer at Blandings?

I keep my eyes open bit so far I’ve seen no sign of a pig in the garden.

This would be the motivational reading for the island – you can’t read about Tootlepedal’s day without feeling inspired to do more work.

That’s it for now, there will be three more next time and two more plus the luxury items in the last one. Don’t worry if you haven’t been included so far, there’s time yet…

Biblioperigrination – new word for an old problem

I learned a valuable lesson about book reviews recently. That lesson is do not promise reviews on books you haven’t read yet. The photograph shows The Normans and their Myth, which is quite interesting but not riveting, so I haven’t actually finished it.

Same goes for taking care of books you’ve promised reviews on, as I’ve mislaid 50 ways to make you Home and Garden Greener. It’s easily done when you have piles of books everywhere. I suppose I could review it from memory, but I can’t really remember it that well – I’ve read so many books on this subject.

Reviewing a book from memory, particularly with my memory, could be a dangerous occupation.

The problem is that books seem to have a secret life of their own and are much more mobile than you think. I’m going to see if there is a Japanese word for that. If decided on the word for this phenomenon – biblioperigrination. According to Google there is no mention of this, so I claim to have invented the word. As it’s now going to be in my title and I’m putting in a bid to have it recorded as the first known use. I may write to Susie Dent about it.

I’m going to do The Elements of Murder next. I’ve read it, and I can see it from here, so there shouldn’t be any problems with that. I just need to make sure I’m reading fast enough to keep up with myself.

With that in mind, I won’t tell you what’s next, though I will tell you I’ve just had V. S. Naipaul’s  A Turn in he South delivered. It has been recommended by arlingwoman and I’m looking forward to reading it.

We’re going out now as I’m going to treat Julia to a cream tea. We breakfasted late on scrambled eggs, mushrooms and brown toast, so the cream tea will be a late lunch, which makes me feel better about eating it whilst on a diet. There’s no eating between meals, but if we have it as a meal it’s not a problem.