Port De Soller Mallorca

Port De Soller Mallorca

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Film Review: A Good Day To Die Hard

image from the IDMB site
Went and saw the latest offering from the DIE HARD franchise on Saturday with the lovely Ishbel, who is a big fan of the movies and indeed of Mr Willis.  Me I can take or leave him although my favourites with him were the TV series Moonlighting and the movies  Hudson Hawk, The Fifth Element, Tears of the Sun and Red - but the whole ensemble cast was outstanding and funny in that last one.

Die Hard, I have been able to take or leave but did really enjoy the one set in New York with Samuel L Jackson and Jeremy Irons although the rest of the cast weren't so good but the interaction between Willis, Jackson and Irons were great, every time.  Even the first DIE HARD movie and I suspect the others too, although can't remember that much about them, was the bullet speed of the dialogue.  It was sharp, it was funny and it was brilliantly delivered.

A Good Day To DIE HARD had, like it's predecessors, lots of Boom and Bang but absolutely little in the way of dialogue and certainly not delivered with bullet speed. Nor did I think it was sharp, or funny and it was most definitely not brilliantly delivered.  It honestly seemed to me as if Mr Willis was a bit tired with the whole thing.

It opens with him in New York honing his firing skills in an underground range and being approached by a scruffy looking cop with the ubiquitous NYPD badge hanging around his neck carrying a file.  The file as it turns out is on Maclean's son who is in a Moscow jail awaiting trial on a murder charge and Maclean feeling sorry for himself as he recalls never being there for his kids, so it's all his fault.  Oh, Oh, first warning shot across the bows here then.  John Maclean feeling sorry and guilt ridden, yeah, we know he is getting older, the scruffy cop calls him grandpa (sic) and this might explain his  guilt, But FFS it's John Maclean there isn't a sorry bone in his body!

And that's another thing, you know if you follow my blogs that I don't swear a lot, not because I don't, swear like a trooper at work and where appropriate and as one of my niece's said to me a while back, Unky Tom, sometimes you just need to use a 'good Fuck' and she's right of course, some situations and dialogue just aren't the same if there isn't a 'good fuck' in there somewhere and there has been plenty of that in the past in the DIE HARD franchise and it wasn't out of place, but the best we got in this was 'Let's go and kill us some bad guys' between Mr Maclean and his wayward CIA operative son! And not a Yipee Ki Aye to be heard anywhere throughout the too long ninety seven minutes the movie was on, even when the baddy was professing his love for westerns while doing his impression of the next person to be voted of from Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing with the Stars....

Oops just given a bit of the plot away, never mind.... Maclean is driven to the airport to go and help his son in Moscow, by his daughter and they are professing their undying love for each other and then he is in the back of a Taxi in a traffic jam in Moscow, outside the courtroom and then it's boom bang a bang for the next 85 minutes with pretty much drivel for dialogue and me wishing Ishbel had left me to my nap......

Apparently we can't wait for his next outing in GI Joe and @JuliaRBarret is bullying me into watching Loopers too, come on ladies 'gies a break will ya'

So from me I give it a 1 out of 5 and
Ishbel gives it a 5 out of 5

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book Review: Force of Nature (Joe Pickett 12) By C.J. Box

Look inside Amazon UK here
Look inside Amazon US here
Well after 4 years, that's me finally caught up with Mr Box's Joe Picket (although I do believe another one is due out shortly)! And what an explosive way to end the current crop,

This was more a Nate Romanowski tail than a Joe Pickett tail.  Over the last 11 books we have come to not know too much about Nate Romanowski as knowing who he is or what he has done would be more dangerous than stepping into an unprotected nuclear waste site, youd get a fatal overdose of contamination and your life expectancy would be reduced to milliseconds rather than years....

Force of Nature changes all of that and those that know Romanowski are dropping like bugs who've just been sprayed with DDT.

Nate's old bosses in Special Operations have decided that having him still on the loose with the knowledge that he has is just too dangerous, for them, and the only way to remove that danger is to kill him and anyone that he may have confided in, whether they know or not.  If they are loosely connected to Nate, they need to die, including the Picketts, all of them.

The best thing Joe can do is stay out of the way, pack up the family and head out of dodge until the smoke clears and the body count can be checked and then to wait and see who survives, although it doesn't look good as Nate explains that the hunter on his tail is even better at hunting and killing people than he is, and we know from past experience that Romanowski is skilled in his craft!

Is everyone we know to be trusted?  People we have known for years, newcomers with seemingly impeccable bona fides, who can be trusted, who can't?  Box mixes it up here for us and we end up trusting some we shouldn't and doubting others who we should have more sense about and then the final showdown, who survives and who doesn't and the biggest question of them all, does Sheriff Maclanahan get re-elected and I can tell you now, Box has left us to stew over that one, the swine.

Book 1 - Open Season √
Book 2 – Savage Run √
Book 3 – Winterkill √
Book 4 – Trophy Hunt √
Book 5 – Out of Range √
Book 6 – In Plain Sight √
Book 7 – Free Fire √
Book 8 – Blood Trail √
Book 9 – Below Zero √
Book 10 – Nowhere to Run √
Book 11 – Cold Wind √
Book 12 – Force of Nature √

Editing for Kindle /iPad: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 396
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Friday, 22 February 2013

Aid, I need Aid!

Much is being said on the internet and the press about Prime Minister Cameron's latest uttering s about maybe taking money out of the overseas aid budget to prop up security instead.

Now I have to say that I have become so disillusioned  with politicians and politics that I have been fairly quiet on that front recently and not even any feel good stories have drawn me out of the stupor that I am in, have there in fact been any feel good stories that I may have missed, thought not!

I even have to confess that I am not up to date with what the latest hulaballoo is all about, as I really can't bring myself to look at in in any great detail!

But, what is annoying me even more and prompting this little return to the fray is the mention of oversees aid, again.  £10 billion is the UK's budget for overseas aid I believe.  Don't get me wrong I am all for helping out those less fortunate than ourselves and we should do it without any strings attached, and hope those we are giving aid to, manage to get their countries together making them a better place for their own people to live in.  We hope the aid we give to the leaders of these countries is going to be put to the most beneficial use, but unfortunately, and all to often, all we end up with, is feed back from news specials about the corruption and the misappropriation of funding in the countries that we give to. Or, as in the case of India and Pakistan who we have giving millions if not billions of pounds to over the years, and who are continually firing shots at each other, while they both spend billions on their nuclear arsenals, and while the majority of their country folk live in abject poverty with no proper road, hospital, school, sanitary or welfare infrastructures.

The same can be said for most if not all of the African countries who also receive aid from us too.  And then over the last couple of days I have heard that we should be proud as again, Prime Minister Cameron has stated his intent that the overseas aid payments will be maintained and that Britain's should be proud as we are the 'ONLY COUNTRY TO CONTINUE TO DO THIS'.

Now this brings me to another point about our own 'Green and Pleasant Land' where aid is also needed in the form of food banks to stop our own unemployed and out of work and low paid folk who are finding it increasingly more difficult to feed and clothe themselves on a daily basis let alone from week to week as we did not so long ago with our weekly trip to the supermarket, stumbling back to our cars with the burden of the overfilled trolley safe in the knowledge that we had enough food and detergent and toilet paper to last us the week before we had to make the return trip.

Now, people in our country are the starving masses, as they are in every other Western democratic country, with the only thing, free to us, for the moment, the air that we breath. Everything else is taxed, food, clothing, fuel and in the UK the poorest in our society are to be hit with the latest Tax invention, The Bedroom Tax.  yes, you read that correctly, the current government, made up of a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are bringing in a Tax system that will take those on low paid or out work and receiving state benefits, with a reduction in the benefits they receive if they have empty bedrooms in their homes!

Prime Minister Cameron came to power with the war cry of 'our big society' the idea I think was to make us all be inclusive and to think not only about ourselves but our neighbours and our towns and villages and districts and ultimately our country.  That everything that we do should be done on the basis that it will not only improve our own lives, but everyone else's lives by the help and the sacrifices and the tightening of our belts; And the Government would do their part too!  This was a policy that every one should adhere to, government, councils and businesses.  But it seems to me that penalising people for having empty bedrooms is not a moral or just way to go about it, as it was our Governments who created the problem in the first place.

The bedroom tax is, I fear, designed to push people out of their homes, homes that they may have lived in all of their lives so that those homes can be given to people with families, regardless if your sons and daughters and grandchildren visit you on a regular basis.  When you are forced to downsize you are effectively being told that you are now no longer allowed to have family visits.  There are even cases where couples who might have two bedrooms but one of the parties is sick and or disabled.  This may mean that they can't sleep together in the same bed in the same room.  But the rules say that if they are married or in a common law relationship  THEY MUST SHARE THE SAME ROOM, and therefore one room is technically free and therefore if they are on benefits, as they are likely to be as one is unable to work and the other is a carer, then they will receive a cut in their benefits!

Since the 1980's when the Tories introduced the 'right to buy' scheme where council tenants were actively encouraged to buy their own homes from the council, at below market prices, and with councils NOT ALLOWED to reinvest the shortfall in monies raised by building replacement stock, a policy that the Labour did not change when they were in power for 10 + years, the number of council houses available to the public has shrunk to the dwindling numbers that we have today, and as families have grown up, children have had families of their own, there has been insufficient housing stock built in the public sector to meet the needs of the unemployed and low paid, so family members who are on benefits now, must pay a price for the inadequacies of our Governments who continue to mismanage and govern badly on our behalf -  So much for an inclusive and caring society.

The other battle cry of the politicians is the attack on those people on long term benefits in that they have been conditioned into receiving these benefits and because generations of the same families have never worked, their children and their children's children are therefore also conditioned into not working but to sticking their hands out to receive the 'free' benefits that those of us who work must pay for through taxation.  So coming back full circle to overseas aid my questions are:

Are there countries out there that receive overseas development aid from the UK and other countries who are conditioned into receiving this aid?
Is the aid given to these countries being misappropriated by corrupt local politicians?
Is the aid being provided, the wrong aid?

Let's quickly look at the last question there.  It's that time of year again in the UK for RED NOSE DAY where we are encouraged to donate to charities to help out the poor in third world countries.  So, the millions that they raise, added to the already £10 billion that we pay for through taxation means that third world countries are certainly getting a lot of money each year, just like benefit recipients do, and they need do nothing at all to receive their 'reward' except live in abject poverty with starvation, drought and who knows what else thrown in for bad measure!

But there is one other constant, and it has been a constant for as long as I can remember seeing these images on the TV screen and even when I have been to Africa, and it is this.

You have large cities, and let's take Mombasa and Nairobi. Cities of gleaming steel, concrete and glass in the centre but surrounded, like a doughnut with shanty towns with little or no sanitation or clean water supplies. No power lines, no sewerage or water pipes, no metalled roads, nothing, nada; no infrastructure that allows a country to grow and develop, yet we continue to give hand over fist and investing in schemes that maybe help a few thousand instead of tens or hundreds of thousands? It is madness, yet we keep doing it, Why?

Why not, instead of giving these countries millions of pounds in cash each each year do we not just say enough is enough and every developed country who does try and help, instead just send their Army Corps of Engineers with all their equipment and we build proper roads, with sewerage runs, with the plants that go with them, Water pipes, electric pylons and metalled roads.  We can then give them prefabricated houses that can be built along these metalled road routes and get the people of the slums they are living in with the infrastructure in place.  Surely this would be better than continually pouring our money into an abyss of apathy and greed feeding local politicians and their corrupt regimes?

I only ask this as I seem to be unable to understand it all, maybe I'm just thick!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

A Wandering Cloud

Cirrus clouds. (Picture taken by Marylin Warner)
Caught up with some blog posts during my lunch break today.  As usual in the office a bit fed up but as usual after reading a few of my twitter friends posts I was in a better mood.

Marylin Warner over at 'Things I want to tell my Mother' wrote another inspiring post entitled 'The Way to Love Anything', calling on a past conversation and painting session with her mother, on cloud formations as the theme.  Marylin's Mom suffers from Dementia and her blog is her weekly letter to her Mom reminding her of the life she enjoyed as a mother and friend and teacher. Marylin's post, inspired me to this little bit of nonsense

cirriform, cumuliform and convective
rolling and rippling in the sky above
Nina, Pinta, and the Santa Maria rolling, rippling and stumbling in the seas around us
clouds in heaven painting our imagination and being, sometimes, our inspiration
Ships in the sea of a bygone era slowly bringing to us men of inspiration

Well that’s the best I can come up with, but as usual your posts seem to bring out something in me and make me do what I usually avoid,......

Marylin liked it, so I thought I would share 

You can read Marylin's post here

Sunday, 17 February 2013


(c) wikipedia


As I was lying in bed pondering the problems of the world, I rapidly realized that I don't really give a rat's ring. It's the tortoise life for me soon!

1. If walking is good for your health, the postman would be immortal.
2. A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, and still it is fat.
3. A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years.
4. A tortoise doesn't run and does nothing, yet it lives for 450 years.
And you tell me to exercise? I don't think so. I'm retired. Go around me.

Some Senior Thoughts
God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.
Now that I'm older here's what I've discovered: 

1. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.
2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and all-bran.
3. I finally got my head together, and now my body is falling apart.
4. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
5. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.
6. If all is not lost, where is it?
7. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.
8. Some days, you're the pigeon; some days you're the statue.
9. I wish the buck stopped here; I could use a few.
10. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.
11. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.
12. It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
13. The only time the world beats a path to your door is when you're in the bathroom.
14. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees.
15. When I'm finally holding all the cards, why does everyone want to play chess?
16. Its not hard to meet expenses . . . they're everywhere.
17. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
18. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter... I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I'm hereafter.
19. Funny, I don't remember being absent-minded.

Via Tony Watkins

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Chicken Breast with Olive and Caper Tapenade

A simple quick tasty recipe that anyone can make:

Chicken breast with an Olive, Capers, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Garlic Tapenade rub.

First lets assemble the ingredients:

Decent sized chicken breasts
Pomodoro or Plum tomatoes
About 10 to 12 olives
Tablespoon of capers
Tablespoon of sun dried tomatoes
Herbs of choice (optional)
Salt and pepper per your liking
Extra virgin olive oil
Ciabatta Bread slices for grilling

Turn the oven on to heat up now 200 degrees, and whatever your equivalent is in gas or other......

The Tapenade can of course be made in larger quantities and kept in the fridge for a few days and used on other dishes or to brush on toasted Ciabatta, your choice.

Chop the olives, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and capers and put into pestle bowl and add, if using your chopped herbs and crush down adding about a tablespoon of EV Olive Oil.

You can keep grinding away until you get it as smooth or as chunky as you like  adding salt and pepper to taste.

Once at the consistency for your tastes, set aside.

Take your chicken breasts and slice along the top of the breast

Place the chicken in a decent sized dish and rub the Tapenade into each breast getting it into the cuts on the breasts, add the pomodoro or plum tomatoes  and cover with foil.

Cook for 20 - 25 minutes remove the foil;
and leave for another 5 -10 minutes until the Tapenade   begins to just colour, remove from oven.

As you remove the foil, slice some Ciabatta and drizzle one side with olive oil and place under the hot grill, olive side up to grill - don't let it burn

You can also spread some of the Tapenade over the grilled bread

Plate up and Serve and Enjoy

Total Prep and cooking time is about 40 - 45 mins so, get cooking 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Book Review: Cold Wind by C.J. Box

Look Inside Amazon UK here
Look Inside Amazon US here
Oh my goodness! Just when you think that after 10 previous books with the same characters, the author cannot surely surprise you any more - he goes ahead and does so with horrendous consequences for the cast of players....

I really can't say too much without giving spoilers but it turns out that the meanest person in the sequence of 10 novels is finally revealed in the closing pages of this book and one should probably not have been surprised at the revelations.  

Gruesome death, land grabs, family pulled apart, potential million dollar bribes in the form of promises, politics, wind energy and the power grids to nowhere, it's all here as well as the usual family battles between parents and daughters with familial ties put under even more strain and stress than usual, who would have thought that possible, but it is.

Nate Romaowski's world is ripped apart as we begin to finally find out more about his shady past and why he is so secretive and this marks new beginnings,  I suspect,  for more violence and retribution in future books.

Box just gets more convoluted in his writing and in bringing in unexpected twists and turns that throws the reader of the track until he is ready to reveal the truth.  A truth that Joe, as usual stumbles upon as he fits together all the pieces, pieces that for once he cannot reveal to ANYONE 

Book 1 - Open Season √
Book 2 – Savage Run √
Book 3 – Winterkill √
Book 4 – Trophy Hunt √
Book 5 – Out of Range √
Book 6 – In Plain Sight √
Book 7 – Free Fire √
Book 8 – Blood Trail √
Book 9 – Below Zero √
Book 10 – Nowhere to Run √
Book 11 – Cold Wind √
Book 12 – Force of Nature

Editing for Kindle /iPad: 4 out of 5*
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 400 in print I believe but no page numbers on devices*
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Guest Blogger: Shannon Ing - My First Concert

Daddy lifting me up
last night I went to my very first  concert with Daddy, Mummy and Mollie.  Mollie has been concerts before but she is 9 and I am only 6, 

We went to Birmingham the second biggest city in Britain and had to drive for hours before we got there and we were going to stay in a hotel after the concert.

we went to see Rita Ora it was my first one and there was lots of people there and some men in bright jackets let mummy and daddy put mollie and me on stairs so we could see the stage

Rita Ora

Me, Mollie and Daddy

Rita Ora

Me and Mollie

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Book Review: Nowhere To Run by C.J. Box

Look inside here Amazon UK
Look inside here Amazon US

What can I say about C.J. Box and Joe Picket that I haven't said before? Nowhere to Run is No 10 in the Joe Picket series and it totally knocks your boots off.  We have watched Joe Picket change over the years from an honest upstanding game warden who would rather cut off his right arm than break the law to become an honest upstanding game warden who has had to kill people in the line of duty.  He has become hardened and with that hardening comes conflicts of conscience as he struggles with doing the right thing as opposed to up-holding the law that he has sworn to do.

Joe is still in the wilderness, literally, after his last outing, but his banishment from his re-extended family to Baggs, was about to be over with his reassignment to Twelve Sleep County and home.

All he needed to do was set out and complete one final check of the district around Baggs on horseback, to investigate the case of the missing and butchered elk, or, he could have just finished some paperwork……

Part of me was mouthing, ‘do the paperwork Joe, go home to Marybeth and the girls…’ but then I knew that was impractical and it wouldn’t make for compelling reading.  So, Joe riding Buddy with Blue Roanie trailing with his equipment sets off into the Sierra Madre of Southern Wyoming and as usual all hell breaks loose.

Joe Pickett is one stubborn man.  If he come across someone hunting or fishing it doesn’t matter to him as long as they have the correct permits and they have those permits on them, if they don’t, they get a ticket, end off, no discussion.

Maybe if Joe hadn’t been so stubborn when he came across a strange looking guy in the mountains who was fishing in a cirque, and after telling himself that the guy was strange and ‘threatening’ and if he wasn’t so stubborn, he might just have kept riding on bye, telling the guy to get a permit as soon as he got back to town…

But Joe was stubborn and sworn to uphold the law and he just couldn’t let it go….

Joe loses everything, his horses, his gear, his guns and his dignity and only barely manages to escape with his life after discovering that there was not one ‘strange and threatening’ guy, but two, identical twins and they don’t want no government man interfering in their simple way of life.

Having followed Joe’s exploits over the years you feel so helpless at seeing him so powerless and hating the brothers for what they are doing to him.  You find yourself fearing that Marybeth and the girls are going to be left to cope on their own and we have finally reached the end of the trail with Joe Pickett, Wyoming Game Warden, who after all these years can still barely hit the side of a tree with his Glock handgun; cursing at him for never getting better with it, relying on the spray of his shotgun, which he has lost…

The brothers are the archetypical anti-heroes, nasty and mean without one redeeming feature and you find yourself despising them throughout but , Mr Box has one or two surprises left in store for us and as you quickly turn the pages trying to keep up with the pace of the story as it unfolds over 10 days in late summer, you find that your sympathies are stretched to breaking point, and may well shift., as the climax explodes on to the pages in the most unexpected of ways ….. You will not be disappointed.

Nowhere to Run, has all the usual suspects coming in and out Nate Romanowski, who finds his loyalties tested. Governor Rulon who is giving Joe back his life but as usual, Joe’s honesty and integrity finds the Governor wishing that he could find an even remoter out post to lose Joe in. and FBI Special Agent Coon finds his cohunes.  Marybeth is in trouble with the girls growing up; Sheridan is now 18, sheesh I remember when she was just a baby, it seems like yesterday and Lucy and the newly reunited April Keeley back into the family wasn’t exactly the bed of roses everyone thought it was going to be and of course Missy Alden, ne Van Bruen, nee, nee, nee, Marybeth’s mother who kept trading up for richer and more powerful husbands is here too annoying every one.  Box also throws in some humour too, to lighten the mood from time to time. Dave Farkus ‘Shut up Dave’ doesn’t get tired, although if I was one of the 4 men in black I would probably have shot him after the first stupid sentence out of his mouth, but then I suppose I wouldn’t have laughed every time he appeared and that’s why Mr Box writes and I don’t ….

Book 1 - Open Season √
Book 2 – Savage Run √
Book 3 – Winterkill √
Book 4 – Trophy Hunt √
Book 5 – Out of Range √
Book 6 – In Plain Sight √
Book 7 – Free Fire √
Book 8 – Blood Trail √
Book 9 – Below Zero √
Book 10 – Nowhere to Run √
Book 11 – Cold Wind
Book 12 – Force of Nature

Editing for Kindle /iPad: 5 out of 5
Reading Enjoyment: 5 out of 5
Page length on kindle /iPad: 368 Book ends on iPad on page 357 & then as usual 1st chptr of next book
Plot: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Seared Plaice with Spicy Butter Beans

Saw this on the telly, so thought I would give it a try,

You'll need a couple of good size plaice fillets, I asked the chap on the fish counter just to de-skin them for me to save time, they are always happy to accommodate.

Also to save time I used tin butter beans too, cuts down on the cooking time (and the scum - never like scum when cooking)


1/2 a red onion sliced and diced
1 red chilli almost de-seeded (the recipe on the telly called for de-seeded- but this is my version)
Rind of half a lemon
1 garlic glove crushed
4 teaspons of grated ginger
Sprig of Thyme
3  Table spoons of chopped Dill
2 tins of butter beans
1 or two tablespoons of creme fraiche
400 ml of chicken stock

Prepare your herbs 

Cook your butter beans with a sprig or two of Thyme and I drain and wash the tinned butter beans and  cook them in the chicken stock 

Just before the butter beans are cooked, add the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic to a good sized pan with a couple of table spoons of vegetable oil and cook gently for a couple of minutes.  Don't let the onions garlic brown. 

Add the butter beans and the stock to the pan and stir to combine the beans with the herbs. Add two table spoons of the chopped dill to the pan and stir.

Add the creme fraiche and stir and allow to gently cook through 

 Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to a non stick pan and add the plaice fillets.  As yo can see I cut the fillets down to more manageable sizes, and sear on one side for two minutes.  Use a pallet knife to turn over and squeeze the juice from a half a lemon on top, remove from heat after 1 minute

Spoon the butter beans and sauce onto a plate and serve the plaice fillets on top sprinkle with more chopped dill


Don't forget to clean the hob afterwards 

original recipe; BBC Saturday kitchen