Sunday, 20 February 2011

Gig review: White Lies (Thu 17th Feb, Carling Academy, Newcastle)

It's been over a year since I saw White Lies (same venue) performing from their first album Death - which went down a storm

I had high expectations for their second album, bought it for Carl for Christmas (released in Jan11 - so he had to wait) and I also bought him gig tickets for last week (so he had to wait for that and he had to invite me). We've had a couple of listens since getting it, and it continues to impress me after each listen, they've only released a couple of tracks from the new album, so I was wondering how full will it be?  It was sold out.

Their stage was set up with so many lights, up in the rigs, set up at the back of the stage: floodlights, spots, everything - this was going to be a show and a half!

They opened with tracks from To Lose My Life, to warm the crowd and played old favourties mixed with those from the new album, Rituals. 

Fairwell to the Fairground - a song that was written, or made for crowds.  The slow-building "keep on running, keep keep on running, there's not place like home, there's no place like home" gets me everytime.

They finished with 'Bigger than Us' which has already been released from the new album, and the crowd knew it off by heart.

They always seem really genuine, like they've never expected this kind of following, Harry McVeigh always thanks the crowd, sings to the crowd and puts real meaning and feeling in his performance, thumping on his chest for impact.  At the end of the show he leads the band to the front of the stage, and receive their applaud as a band, I've been to so many gigs where the band thank the audience and bugger off.

White Lies are a great band with an intense unique sound, lyrically & musically. 

If you haven't heard them, give them a wizz on youtube, try out Death, Fairwell to the Fairground, Strangers and Bigger Than Us for a start.  Wikipedia describe them as "White Lies' musical style has been described as dark yet uplifting by the media, drawing comparisons to Joy Division, Editors and Interpol."

10 Things I did this week: 8th -14th Feb

  1. Mr Lisa made a curry from the Madhur Jaffrey Ultimate Curry Bible - I'm so glad he got it for Christmas, he's cooked the best curries I've had.
  2. I booked an event to sell my Phoenix Cards at: Cullercoats Community Centre 2nd April 2011.
  3. Have 2 pairs of black knee high boots in my possession, I'm trying to buy a new pair.  I've finally chosen the 'lucky pair' - which are a pair of Dr Martens from Scorpio Shoes - bought online and delivered next day (free delivery & free returns! - bargain)
  4. Borrowed a pair of walking boots from a colleague.  I don't possess a pair of walking boots and need some for my walking holiday in June.  The plan is that I borrow these boots, have a practise for my walking holiday and possibly buy something similar.
  5. Went to a suprise birthday party at Silk Room, Newcastle.  It was pitched as a 'Champagne Bar & Restaurant' - but it was more restaurant than bar.  The food was great, the service a little ropey (a between-course palate cleansing champagne sorbet was forgotten).  However, the birthday girl, Helen, seemed to enjoy herself and Michy had organised birthday cake too.
  6. Met up and had dinner with The Lively Ladies, all 5 of us met up: Catherine, Gillian, Caroline, Sophia and Susan - had a really good catch up and discussed Gillian's birthday cake (I'm building her some beach huts (out of cake)).
  7. Went for a long walk - details recorded on Endomondo here and Endomondo here, stopped at Holywell Dene and watched the birds: blue tits, great tits, coal tits, a dunnock, a robin, and a nuthatch, then further on a long-tailed tit.
  8. Planted more stuff in the greenhouse at home, see my other blog for the lowdown.
  9. Got into work before 8.30am for the first time this year, the sunny early mornings are really helping me get up and out of bed.  My bodyclock seems to wake me before the 6.45am alarm.
  10. Bought a Groupon voucher for a 1hr horse riding lesson (8.50 instead of £18) - I now need to book it in - I'm quite excited!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

10 Things I did this week: 1st Feb - 7th Feb

  1. Baked cakes!!! I haven't baked since Christmas, and said I wouldn't until we'd eaten through the piles of biscuits we were given for Christmas.  This has been achieved by taking them to work, and so on Saturday - I baked chocolate buns with chocolate chunky bits.
  2. We had Matthew for a weekend -yay, that's always fun. I showed him how I can burp and talk at the same time, and before he left he had me counting from 1-10 in various accents. 
  3. Went to Tynemouth tat market; bought 2 glass platters (cake stand & fruit bowl) and £2 bargain material for my next skirt project.
  4. Went to the allotment, and planted my garlic, see my Leg of mutton allotment blog
  5. Is supervising 'operation cupboards' in our dining room - so far so good.
  6. Had confirmation that our offices will definitely be moving across campus.  I've been tasked with overseeing the packing and the jigsaw that is our new office & our desks!
  7. Accepted a commission for a cake.
  8. Made a pie for pie club
  9. Submitted my 'Desert Island Discs' for a work newsletter.
  10. Invented a shower-gel holder for our shower cubicle (one that is mounted high above the showerhead).

Beautiful Courgette Carbonara

Thanks to my friend Kate who gave me this recipe, after she cooked it for me a few years ago.

Serves 4


  • 6 medium courgettes (cut lengthways, then into quarters, remove the middles (the seedy bit) and then into 3.5cm batons (same length as penne pasta).
  • 500g penne pasta
  • 4 eggs
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 heaped tbsp grated parmesan
  • 12 thick slices of streaky bacon (chopped into pieces) or lardons
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Small bunch thyme chopped
  • Get the pasta water boiling & cook the pasta.


  • Make up a sauce of egg yolks, cream, 1tbsp parmesan, seasonings & leave for now.
  • Put your pasta on to cook as you would normally
  • In a big frying pan: heat the oil, add the bacon/lardons, courgettes, a good pinch of black pepper and thyme and cook until the courgettes start to colour golden.
  • When draining the pasta keep some of the pasta water aside (1/2 pint max).
  • Working quickly:
    • Remove the frying pan from the heat,
    • Add the cooked pasta and the sauce plus a ladle of the pasta water (if it's looking too thick you might need to add another ladle (or half-ladle).
    • Stir well until the heat from the pan has cooked the sauce through thoroughly and the sauce is creamy and glossy.
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the parmesan and serve.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

10 Things I did this week: 24th January -31st January 2011

  1. Wore a skirt for work (on a couple of occasions)
  2. Finished my ball of wool & bought another one
  3. Managed 2 quiz-teams: RamJam-1 came 10th and RamJam-A came 2nd.
  4. Visited my family (1st time since Christmas) and played Brio and Dolls with my niece Brook.
  5. Took receipt of a new dining table & 8 chairs, send the sideboard back because it was damaged.
  6. Took my old dining table & chairs to my sister, spent Friday night at hers.  Her cat scared the hell out of me, grabbing me through the sofa (she was at the back & poked her paw thorough to me sat on the sofa).
  7. Had a lovely lunch in Bettys with my mum & sister.
  8. Visited my grandma & great auntie Hazel
  9. Caught up with my bestest friends, Claire, Lynne, Kerry, Kath, Hayley and went to a School Reunion for people in my school year & year above/below - from age of 11 (organised via Facebook), unfortunately of the 40-odd who confirmed, only about 16 turned up.  Which was a shame.
  10. Coming to realise that I'm better off not drinking when I'm out.  I can't find a drink that I can handle without getting a really bad hangover, and pubs don't serve nice red wine or nice white wine.  So I'm better off just drinking soft drinks.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

PieClub: Leek & Ham Pie

  • 3-4 leeks
  • big knob of butter
  • salt & pepper
  • cooked ham joint (roughly chopped)
  • pastry (ready made)
    • Or 250g plain flour, pinch salt, 62g butter, 63g lard in a blender, blitz until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add cold water (a tbsp at a time) & blitz on/off until it forms a lump of dough. Put into clingfilm & chill for 30mins. It will freeze for upto 3months.
This recipe will do a 7-8inch pie dish

Set the oven to 180-190°C

  1. Chop 3-4 leeks into rounds (1cm across), put in a frying pan with butter, salt & pepper & gently sweat (low heat) for ages. The leeks should go so soft the layers of rings should fall out of them when you push them with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add the roughly chopped ham (I've used the end of a roasted ham joint).
  3. Add about 1/2pint stock (veg or chicken), bring to the boil and the simmer (uncovered).
  4. Remove pan from heat, taste, season (if necessary) and add125ml (approx) single/double cream, stir well, return to heat & warm gently for another 5mins & switch off.

Whichever pastry you choose you need 2 thirds for the base and 1 third for the lid. 
  1. Grease the pie dish well (you don't want to loose the bottom of your pie when you're serving it up).
  2. Roll out pastry & lay in the pie dish, gently push into place & trim excess.
Put it all together:
  1. Beat an egg in a dish.
  2. Pour the leek & ham filling into the pie dish.
  3. Roll out the pastry lid.
  4. Before you put the lid on, use the beaten egg to moisten the top lip of the pie (the pastry base) so that when you drop the lid on, it will stick to the base.
  5. Add the lid & press around the lid with your fingertips - to secure the seal. Next trim the excess pastry.
  6. You can create a more secure join by pressing the back of a fork around the edge.
  7. Put 2 holes in the top for steam to escape.
  8. Paint the entire pie with egg & cook for 25-30mins.

Welcome to PieClub.
The first rule of PieClub is that we do not talk about PieClub. 
The second rule of PieClub is that we do not talk about PieClub.