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Leeds Festival 2007

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We got back from the Leeds Festival last night. I'll post some photos and comments when I get time - probably back-dated to when things actually happened.

Comments and photos now uploaded.

Aqua restaurant (Gosford Street)

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We've walked past this place lots of time but had been put off by the loud music coming through the front doors. It was much quieter this time so we ventured inside.

The restaurant isn't licenced but they have an extensive range of soft drinks, including freshly made fruit smoothies. We shared a mozarella and balsamic onion garlic bread starter, which was very good with lots of cheese stuffed inside. We then took advantage of their mid-week £4.99 pasta and pizza offer, and had a couple of 12" pizzas (wood fried according to the sign outside) and a penne pasta dish.

At full price, most main courses are around £7 each, which is good value. When the £5 offer is running, they become amazing value for money. An optional 10% service charge is added to the bill, but as the food was great and the service was friendly, we had no objection to paying it. This was in stark contrast to MYO where they added a compulsory service charge and illegally tried to force us to pay it. As a result we decided to never return to MYO but we're certainly going back to Aqua in the future.

They have a website which lists their menu and prices: www.aqua-food-mood.co.uk

Leeds 2007 Photographs

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Here is a selection of photographs from this years Leeds Festival.  

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Highlights of the Leeds Festival 2007

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  • Smashing Pumpkins playing an acoustic version of 1979
  • Nine Inch Nails ending their set with a version of Hurt which borrowed from both their own and the Johnny Cash version.
  • Simon Amstell and Ed Byrne at the Alternative Tent
  • Hypnodog
  • The weather - brilliantly sunny most days with no rain!
  • The milkshake stalls in the main arena - the chocolate hobnob milkshake was great
  • After we'd packed our tent away on the monday, finding a couple of abandoned unopened cases of beer nearby
  • Being allowed campfires - they were banned last time I went, in 2005. It was good to sit around the fire at night, chatting with our neighbours and enjoying a beer or two
  • Gogol Bordello on the main stage. Described as Gypsy Punk, they were good festival material
  • The start of the Red Hot Chili Peppers act when it looked like they were going to be good


  • The end of the Chilis when the singer walked off and the rest of the band jammed an instrumental for ages before leaving. There was no big finale, the concert just fizzled out, leaving people feeling disappointed with a sense of anticlimax.
  • The cost of drink in the main arena - no way were we going to pay £3.20 for a tasteless pint of Carling. Thankfully the 'Wine Bar' had 500ml bottles for £6.50, which wasn't cheap but was more acceptable.
  • The Enemy coming on stage to the tune of Too Much Too Young, pretending they are the new Specials, but the lead singer came across as some sort of moron knob-head who insists on using f**k as every other word.

There were also the now obligatory trouble-makers on the sunday night. Thankfully there was little violence and no actual rioting, but a lot of peoples tents got burned. We acquired a few refugees as neighbours, who managed to salvage a couple of their tents and carried them halfway across the site to safety.

Birmingham Wine Festival

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The Birmingham German Winefest started today, in Victoria Square. There are stalls selling German food and drink, with wines from most parts of the country. Unlike the rubbish sold in most supermarkets, most of this isn't sweet Liebfraumilch but proper stuff, with a wide range of whites (dry to sweet), reds, rose and sparkling wine.

I've never tried a german sparkling wine before so I bought a bottle of medium-dry sparkling reisling. It was sweeter than I am used to (mainly the excellent but very dry Lindaur) but it was impressive stuff. It's a mystery why supermarkets can't sell stuff like this. It was better than most Cava wines.

Perseid Meteor Shower

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I almost forgot about this years Perseid Meteors. It was about 11pm when I remembered. I had to get up early for work in the morning so I couldn't really stay out too late but we went into the back garden for a few minutes, long enough for us to see a couple of bright meteors streak through the sky.

At last: finished the Jigsaw

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We've been working on this jigsaw for about a week now, doing an hour or so each evening. We finally finished it today.

It's a National Geographic jigsaw, showing the ancient city of Petra. The reason it took so long was because most of its 1000 pieces are almost identical looking bits of stone.

jigsaw of the city of petra

Festival of History 2007

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The photos are from the Festival of History, at Kelmarsh Hall. The event takes place over 2 days (today and tomorrow) and celebrates nearly 2000 years of British history, from the Romans to the Second World War. Military events are a large part of the event, but as they make the more spectacular reconstructions, that's no surprise.

The 1st World War air display was almost worth the cost of entry on its own. Other events included Jousting, artillary demonstrations and battle re-enactments.  

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Psoriasis Update

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It's been almost a year since I wrote about starting on a psoriasis-friendly diet. It hasn't completely eradicated it but is seems to have helped a bit.

I did a bit more reading on-line and found various lists of suspect foods, which often included:

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Aubergines
  • Potatoes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

There were also some foods which were recommended, such as dried fruits or oily fish.

An awful lot of this information seems to have originally come from an American psychic called Edgar Cayce who, according to an article in Fortean Times magazine, would often go into a trance and diagnose illnesses or suggest cures. His suggestions have been repeated over the years and regularly features in advice on reducing the symptoms of psoriasis. Normally I'd be sceptical but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it has some effect.

I initially stopped eating tomatoes and drinking red wine. I also started taking probiotic and omega-3/fish-oil supplements daily. As the psoriasis was mainly on my scalp I'd been keeping my hair short, but recently started having it cut even shorter (only no. 8 on the hair clippers but that's still shorter than I like it).

With all that going on it's hard to tell what has had the greatest effect but it has definitely got slightly better. It hasn't gone away but it isn't as thick on my scalp and areas of 'normal' skin have started to appear by my hairline. Cutting out the various prohibited foods helped but didn't stop it so I've returned to eating them but only in moderation. I've since started drinking squash drinks with red berries in, and having small amounts of tomatoes about every other week, and probably a bottle of red wine once per month. Other foods such as aubergines and potatoes are easier to avoid (I always have rice or pasta instead of chips).

I've been drinking green tea for a number of years, but increased my consumption because of anecdotal evidence of it being useful. This has since been confirmed by researchers. Sadly, I've not noticed any improvement through drinking it.

The psoriasis comes and goes in cycles - I'm not sure whether the waxing and waning is anything to do with diet. The weather may have some effect - ultra-violet light is known to help. I keep my hair short to let more light get to my scalp. As long as I don't let it get too thick, it doesn't cause many problems.

Psyche: 2005-2007

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Psyche was already a year old when we got him, in august last year. He was a larger than average Roborovski - at the time, he was the size of a smallish Winter White hamster. As he got older, he seemed to shrink - it's fairly common for them to get quite skinny as they age. It wasn't a lack of food - we would often see him eating. The last time I saw him was last night and he was nibbling at a dog biscuit.

He was very active and quick, although we did notice he was getting a bit unsteady and would slide rather than walk down the ramps in the cage. We knew he was old and didn't have long left, but it was still a surprise when we found him dead this morning. He'd been looking old and frail for a couple of months but he didn't seem ill.

We hope that Redrum is ok on his own, now he no longer has his 'Uncle Stinky'. Poor old Psyche, aka Stinky-Pinks, aka Mr Pinky, aka Mr Pinklestein. We're slowly running out of 'little old man' hamsters. We've still got Reggie, who is ancient at 26 months and has been looking like a little old man for most of his life.

A middlep-aged Psyche in a wheel Psyche, being nosey as the camera

Psyche and Redrum
Psyche (on the left) and Redrum (on the right)

Incident at International

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Due to a Security Alert, this train will not be stopping at Birmingham International

No explanation was given. Our train had stopped just short of the station before the announcement was made. When we got to New Street, I noticed that the next train to International had been cancelled. There was also an announcement saying that the next train to London Euston (which normally stops at International) would not be stopping there.

I don't know what happened there - I hope it was nothing serious, just something like accidentally unattended luggage.

Update: 09:15
The National Rail Enquiries web site has the following announcement: Train services on all routes via Birmingham International are being disrupted due to a security alert. Birmingham International is currently evacuated and train services are currently unable to call at this station

Update: 10:20
Found this:

BIRMINGHAM International train station has been evacuated this morning following reports of a suspect package.

British Transport Police ordered the station's operator Virgin Trains to close the building at 8.48am.
No trains are stopping at the station, although they are still able to pass through.

A spokesperson for British Transport Police said: "We can confirm that Birmingham International railway station is currently evacuated.

"Officers are at the scene following reports of a suspicious item and a person is helping us with our enquiries.

"Trains are continuing to operate through the station."

There was also news about this on the BBC website.

Simpsons: The Movie

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I want to eat at the Zesty Fork restaurant. I've seen the advert for it a dozen or more times. It's there every time a newspaper or magazine reviews or discusses the film.

The sign is only on screen for a fraction of a second - one of many "blink and you'll miss it" jokes in the film.

The writers probably worked hard coming up with some scenes or clever in-jokes. Unfortunately for them, the bit most people will remember is Homer holding the pig up to the ceiling, singing Spider-pig Spider-pig, does whatever a Spider-pig does....
The Zesty Fork Restaurant, near Springfield