Tuesday, 21 October 2014

British Food & Drink reign supreme

British Food & Drink reign supreme

(two of my favourite subjects!)

The latest dining out survey shows that British Food is still then nation’s favourite. The result came from a survey by Travelzoo conducted last month.  While British diners like to think they are adventurous when choosing a dining out destination, the fact remains that there is still genuine affection for British Food.

Bangers and Mash

Olde English Bangers & Mash

with crispy onions & red wine gravy

courtesy of 3663 
Here are the Top 10 cuisines 
as found in the UK Travelzoo Survey, 
published this Autumn.
  1. British
  2. Indian
  3.  Italian
  4.  Chineses
  5. Gastro Pub
  6. Thai
  7. American
  8. Mexican
  9. French
  10. Sushi /Japanese 
Of the British dishes, Fish and Chips is joint first with the traditional Roast Beef, with Bangers and Mash, Cornish Pastie and Meat Pie close seconds.  

Pork is also increasing in popularity, perhaps as it is such great value for money, but lamb has been pretty absent from restaurant menu for four years now, perhaps due to costs?

In the survey, over two thirds of respondents to the survey said they tend to choose a favourite local dining out destination most of the time.  The majority of diners tended to travel less than twenty minutes  to their target restaurant, although in London they usually travel much longer. Younger diners tended to eat out more often than senior citizens.

In the drinks market, beer sales continue to fall while wines, and especially sparkling wines, are growing. They are showing a 20% growth in the lst quarter, largely due to the hot dry summer.  Despite the so called recession, Champagne sales are up 9%. The Wine and Spirits Trade Association says this is due to the alcohol duty freeze in the last budget (when the Chancellor chose to freeze the duty on spirits and cut beer duty).

In 2013, ciders outperformed the beer market and wines and spirits too, with a 4% increase in ‘on trade’ sales.  Premium ciders are now accounting for a third of all sales, well up from 20% the previous year. Fruit ciders show a massive growth accounting for 47% of packaged  product, although apple-products still accounts for 97% of the market.  Specialist or craft ciders are also showing a surge in popularity, accounting for 18% increase, a 28% surge in value.

Alcoholic Ginger Beers too have had a surge in popularity. Flavouring food with ginger beer began around 50BC in India, but was first brewed in Yorkshire in the 1800s. It became very popular all over the English speaking world in the early 1900s in the mid 20th century was common drank mixed with lemonade.

A small Scottish company John Crabbie’s of Edinburgh has been producing alcoholic ginger beer since the early 19th Century, but it was bought out by the Glenmorangie Distillery. When the brand was sold to Halewood  International  in 2007 and they have promoted and marketed Crabbie's very keenly ever since. Crabbie’s now sponsor the Grand National festival.

The latest trend is SPIDERS, which are spirit based ciders. They are still a new phenomenon but there has been quite a buzz about them among younger drinkers. 

The big buzz spider of the summer has been amaretto favoured cider, Alcoholic cider is frequently lauded for its crisp taste, but Orwell’s new amaretto - flavoured cider tops that. The new drink is  described as offering a “refreshing blend of amaretto notes and a fruity hint of cherry paired with a crispy cider apple background.”  I can't disagree with that, it is very pleasant if slightly unusual. Many lady drinkers have made Disaronno (an ameretto flavoured liqueur) very popular as an after dinner drink, taken neat or in coffee,  for the last five years or so. Disaronno has been produced for almost 500 years,  and is "a liqueur of apricot kernel with the pure essence of seventeen herbs and fruits" Orwell's is sold in single-serving 330ml glass bottles and certainly represents a very new flavour innovation in flavoured alcoholic beverages, quite unlike anything else in its category  It is 5.5% ABV and went on sale in June in 330mL bottles.

Younger drinkers do tend to be prepared to experiment and will often have up to ten drinks in their 'try often' category, whereas the older generations are more conservative but still will regularly try up to six categories of drink. That’s a huge difference from the tastes of their parents, who a few years ago would remain loyal to just one or two favourite drinks.

(Some damage may have been done to a few brain cells and my belt in researching these products)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

How does one become a Disc Jockey

How does one become a DJ?

The most common question that every DJ gets asked all the time is, "How to I become a DJ?"  In my case, I have been spinning the 45s for so many years I have a bit of difficulty remembering. Did I get born playing records? Of course not, although as my love of music emerged when i was only about 10 years old it WAS quite some time ago.

That was late 1963; there was very little music on the radio and maybe I was lucky as my family were pretty poor and we didn't have a television, but night times were spent huddling around my Mum's old Bush listening to Radio Luxembourg. One Saturday morning I went to the Locarno Ballroom in Hull with a friend, where they hd a two hour disc session for kids - I was hooked. It became a major part of my life for the next few years, and eventually I got chance to do a guest DJ spot by one of the DJs, and would help hims sort his records out etc.  By the time I was 12 or so I found that there were all kinds of strange radio stations popping on and off the dial - pirate radio ships, which played my beloved pop and soul music all the time, unlike the BBC which was pretty turgid and boring at the time.

Within a few years I was involved in that world of watery wireless too, but in March 1968 I began playing the records at a local club.  The first one was a tiny little place in Hull called MUSIC BOX. I remember at the time thinking that there was NOTHING more satisfying than someone coming up and saying they enjoyed the music you were playing.  (I don't think I had discovered girls yet, far too busy with the music!)

I had also become quite keen on the technical aspects of audio and music, but especially of radio engineering. I decided that radio and music had to be my future career, though I had no idea how. Radio was simply the BBC, hundreds of miles away from Yorkshire. The pirate radio ships had been put off the air - who could I combine the two? The local college had a large marine radio section, but there were no such thing as grants, so I had to find a job to "work my way" thru college and support myself. Working as a DJ in clubs was THE obvious solution. I had lots of training courtesy of some of the best showmen in the business, in particular other DJs on the Mecca circuit; we were trained and encouraged to be showmen. I even worked on the fairground for a thrilling week, spinning the records on the waltzer, and extolling the girls to scream if they wanted to go faster. I still love to wander the fairground  fifty years later and reminisce about those days but its my only DJ gig to which I would NOT want to ever return!

What I was getting was the hands-on experience of actually DOING the work of a DJ, and the technical knowledge of how a programme was assembled, what was possible, and how to make it sounds as though you knew what you were doing. Later, I was offered my first proper radio gig on Radio Caroline, hosting the breakfast show. I got that simply because I had those important essential ingredients - expertise with equipment, and showmanship, or rather just raw enthusiasm.

And that's the key - get the experience and have more than a modicum of enthusiasm.

The DJ world is much more competitive now and DJs are expected to have many more skills such as mixing, scratching and Beat Matching, none of which were even possible with the primitive equipment we had in the 60s. To get the skills is important and one source I would recommend is the course run by How to DJ Fast.  
You can go from being a beginner to mixing like a pro, impressing your friends and packing the dance floor in just two weeks!
Click that link to take a look, and you could be DJing yourself REALLY SOON. All the instruction is done by video, so you can work so the course work in the comfort of your own home. There's a money back guarantee, and you could start in the next ten minutes, wherever you are, no matter what the time is. 

Getting a break into radio is now so much easier nope that there are around 600 radio stations in the UK alone, although few of them want real DJs these days at all. I will look at how to get a break into radio in a future blog; I'm going to to try and talk someone else to write that article if I can!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Breakfast at Leonardo's, Hull's best restaurant?

Breakfast at Leonardo's

One thing I love every day is my breakfast. They say that breakfast is the best meal of the day - well just try telling that to the top restaurants. Most opt them cannot be bothered to open up early enough for breakfasts. One example is The Pie Shop, which is one of the best the best steak pie shops in Hull  ut doesn't open up until 11 am (and they close at 4pm!) Delicious pies, and they use red wine to marinade the steak, two prime locations, but what part-timers these guys are (I do hope you're reading this Matt!)
Many a time we wandered in Hullhungry and cold, whipped by weather,  in search of a delicious pie . . .
My nutritionally minded friends will all advise you to eat a hearty breakfast, and who am I to disagree with them! Now, speaking of being in Hull, forget BreakFast at Tiffany's, try Breakfast at Leonardo's on Prinny Dock Side in Hull. They open at 9am for one of the best breakfasts you will find in Hull City Centre. 

The toast is done the way you want it (topped with eggs, bacon and smoked salmon please!). Great choice of beverages and terrific service as usual, plus all the papers you can read. If you ask really nicely the boss Guy will even sing you a song, or if you tell him how nice the background music is he will knock a quid off your breakfast! Seriously, a very nice leisurely way to do breakfast. You can even call ahead and book a table at Leonardo's  the number is 01482 228475 and  if you need to know more, then they also have a web site with the menu  and you can find that at www.leonardoshull.co.uk. Or why now make a note of the postcode  in your phone then you can get your Google map app show you the way there -  HU1 2JX

If you really don't know where it is, just wander out of the Princes Quay shopping centre and as you look out of the huge windows towards the old town, its right in front of you, on the corner of Posterngate and Pirnce's Dock Street, on the opposite corner to Sugar Mill. You can sit outside and dine al fresco if you don't want to hear the singing!  
Actually, the music at Leonardo's is really good - some fabulous sounds on the background music system that you won't hear everywhere else in Hull, plus there's live music early every Wednesday evening. Every couple of weeks you will see and hear WOODSMOKE. (great acoustic blues due of two great musicians, Matt and James, who REALLY know their music). 
These two very accomplished musicians do an interesting mixture of acoustic folk, country and blues and have been playing at Leonardo's for a couple of years now.
ANDY CORNFOOT is another good local singer-guitarist who you can see at Leonardo's about once a month. A big Beatles fan, he can also do Dylan,m numbers and lots more up to date stuff too. Leonardo's also have a very interesting four piece band, MOODY SKIES, which has a great female bass player, TWO female vocalists and another guitarist. 

Live Music usually happens from about 6:30 to 9pm and thats every Wednesday - at Leonardo's.  

Sunny afternoons you can sit in the glass panelled enclosure outside on the quayside and just admire the architecture of the Princes Quay and maybe reminisce of what the quayside was like when it was covered with railway wagons, sheds and boats. 

Leonardo's has a bit of a split personality - its officially called The Quayside, but the menus and most signs and the regulars all call it Leonardo's. (Some very old people use its original name, the Royal Oak!)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Stage Hypnosis - and David Knight's show

I just got a note from David Knight, Master Hypnotist, about his next big comedy hypnosis show.  It's on Yorkshire Day (1st August, and we have nothing on that evening so shall go). Appropriately enough it's right here in Yorkshire, at Northallertion. We've heard that their Forum Theatre is a lovely venue so am looking forward to seeing that for the first time.

Stage Hypnosis has long been a favourite form of entertainment of mine and my wife. Some stage hypnotists we have seen perform dozens of times, but the amazing thing is, that although they often run the same routine, getting their subjects to perform the same tricks, every performance is unique. Every hypnosis subject reacts differently and it is THEY who are the real stars of the show.

Years ago when I worked in cabaret we often worked with the same act for a week's engagement. A week's work in most clubs was Sunday to Saturday, though some mega stars at the big clubs like Batley would be just for two or three nights. The usual acts that I  worked with over many years would be people like the Barron Knights, the Grumbleweeds, Showaddywaddy, Jimmy James & the Vagabonds, the Flirtations, Brotherhood of Man, Clodagh Rodgers and so on. These are all excellent performers, who had several hits, but who had honed their skills over many years playing the club circuits. If you're doing your act several hundred times a year, you get pretty proficient! No matter how good any act is, you only really want to see them a few times, and normally by the end of Tuesday I had seen most acts quite enough, so would wander off, usually to another club, while they did their set - there are many times I've been caught out by them shortening their set, and have not been back at the stage in time.   
Paul McKenna

One kind of act I always watched all the way through however were the Stage Hypnotists.  There were about a dozen really good ones back in the 1970s -  Edwin Heath, Billy Raveen, Bob Cassidy, Jimmy Grippo, Barry Sinclair, Lord Payne, Robert Halpern and then much later, my former Radio Caroline shipmate Paul McKenna. His tours played to up to 6,000 people at one show, and he hosted several successful TV shows in the USA and the UK. 

The one thing all hypnotists have in common is that their stage shows depend on the audience. How the subjects react to the hypnotist's suggestions makes all the difference to how successful the show will be. 

Cabaret Clubs have almost disappeared now. Theatres have taken the place of the old club, where you could see a show, get a decent meal, waitress service of  drinks to your table and then a dance later on. A complete night out. Its such a shame that cabaret isn't available anywhere near so widely now as it was a generation ago. The artists and the public are all much poorer for it, and not to mention the poor club owners too! Although I doubt they will get little sympathy - club owners were probably the best paid businessmen of my generation.

Master Hypnotist David Knight
Stage Hypnotists are still in firm demand however, as usually their standards of entertainment are so good.  Its nice to see that this is a stage craft that is still being taught. One of the businesses' most respected and experienced hypnotists is DAVID KNIGHT.  He has been one of the UK's leading hypnotists for over 25 years now and in that time has  performed in over 5000 stage shows and hypnotised over 50,000 volunteers.  

His training course has all you need to become a stage hypnotist and perform your very own hypnotic stage show. The course is complete and even includes stage hypnosis music. It also includes four stage hypnotist training DVDs. David’s package offers all you need to become a  professional Stage Hypnotist.he is offering courses in becoming a fully licensed Stage Hypnotist.

If you would like to find out more, check out THIS PAGE.  And please, if you do become a Stage 
Hypnotist yourself, let me know and I guarantee that I shall come and see one of your shows! 

If you want to see David Knight's Stage Hypnosis show on 1st August click this LINK for a special 50% discount on tickets pre-ordered by email.  If there are any left "on the night' its £20 per head on the door, but it's likely to be a sell out. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Current update on work

I can't believe its now six months since I last posted a Blog. The main problem is, I keep losing the passwords.  Google makes it VERY difficult to get in. Nightmare, and there is alwys something else to do that is easier to get into.  All the help and advice gurus say that we must NEVER use the same password twice, so I was faced with storing up a few hundred passwords for all the software, memberships and other pages I do actually NEED to access on a regular basis. 

Anyway, I think I have the solution now so shall give this another try.

I'm up to my ears with work right now. Several projects in hand:

  • A new radio station we are in the middle of settling up, and it involves a ship !
  • two new books, one of them with the full story of the MV Communicator
       (Laser 558, Laser Hot Hits,
         Holland FM, Veronica HitRadio, Q Radio
    and The Superstation)
  • a web based business - TalentPages UK
  • and a couple of other small projects. 
If only each day was twice as long!  Fortunately I'm only just over half way through my life, but I had promised myself I would have all these operational by Christmas, and its midsummer already.   New s of each of the projects will appear on this blog as soon as we are able to give details. Alternatively you might find details on the web sites below, but a lot of our work involves third parties, some of which are publicly quoted companies, so we are not able to release news which they can't, due to Stock Exchange restrictions. Please bear with me, and don't bombard me with questions that I can't answer without breaching Client Confidentiality.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Saturdays are for Music

Saturdays are for my favourite music radio
I try to have a routine where I spend my Saturdays with great music - it takes me back to when i first got into music, aged about 10 and looked forward to spending Saturdays at the under age Disc Club, or whatever they called it, at the Locarno Ballroom in Hull.  Saturday was also the only day that I got to hear much daytime radio in the 60s, which is when it really happened !

Most Saturdays now I have a couple of radios going and listen to all kinds of stuff. My days starts with Louise Davies on Radio Seagull, a progressive rock station from a ship in Holland. Then maybe a bit of Radio 10, and Radio 192 - a tribute station in the style of Radio Veronica that is run by what it calls de oude medewerkers (old staff or colleagues).

Radio 192  runs old charts, jingles and have some of the best of the old DJs. Adje Bowman is the king, and there is even an hour of Joost de Draaijer, my dear old friend for many years now.  Most of their output on Saturday afternoons is a lengthy programme, called Zaterdag Middag Gebeurtenis - which translates as the Saturday Afternoon Happening. Right up my street! One of the shows majors on what I call NED-POP; it's crammed with the Dutch beat bands of the 1960s.
After a few hours of that I swap to the BBC local in Leeds, which has a guy called John Kane playing some excellent Northern Soul and a sprinkling of Motown. This is just the stuff I played in numerous clubs and similar venues in the 1960s (and in the noughts in the Triton Ballroom!). 
John spins some excellent stuff, that usually sends me running to the library to dig out tracks.  I believe the programme is also available on BBC Sheffield in the south of this illustrious county of Yorkshire, but not on BBC Radio Humberside, which is a bit more of the sort of station that John Reith wanted the BBC to remain forever: Lots of talk about religion and Rugby League, which quite a few in Hull think are one and the same thing! With a couple of notable exceptions, Radio Humberside is not what you would call 'hip'. 

If we are at home later in the evening (we do stop in sometimes!) the radio goes over to BBC Radio Sheffield where another good friend, Diana Luke enters her 'Diana Luke Loves the 60s'  mode for three hours. The strip invariably includes lots of RnB (the old style RnB - not 'lazy rap' crap)  as well as quite a bit of heavy rock too, so long as its from the 60s.

Diana has developed an interesting "instant feedback" relationship with a hard core of listeners, who even meet up and visit the studios. (I've not been on one of these jaunts yet, but I'm sure I shall one fine day!). The music is mainly chosen by the listeners, who first of all select a featured artist, and then after midnight every track is a listener 'free choice'. Diana's show has several features - a Beat the Intro, Cryptic Clue, with entries possible on text, email or a Facebook page, but the best are when she's joined by her partner Tim Hollingworth.  

Freelance photographer and film cameraman Tim selects three rare old tunes, including an instrumental, and astounds Diana and her listeners with some little known facets about, what are always cracking pieces of our music heritage.  There is also a rather surreal feature where Diana and Tim each hum a sixties hit and the listeners have to guess what it is. Well, Tim usually gorgets any melody at all, which makes it nigh on impossible. Most weeks Tim's tune is guessed by a solitary listener and you can almost hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth  all over Yorkshire as listeners cary out in unison "That was never any thing like . . ." 

Stylish music centre from Scandinavia

A music centre with style

In almost everyone's pocket these days is a smart phone - phone is a bit of a misnomer as it is far far more than just a phone, the limited conversation aid from which the device has grown.

Ive had mobile phones in my pocket since around 1987 (it was made by Excel, and replaced the huge 'brick',  a Motorola 8500 which cost us £1725 and is still in the garage somewhere, often brought out to amuse young children).  But about ten years before that I was pretty such in love with a huge Rigonda 'radiogram' which I had bought - when you pressed a pre-set button, two little motors inside whirred away, dragging the tuning ropes along the dial and (hopefully) to the station you were seeking. A magic eye to check it, and the most amazingly light and precise turntable - it was a work of art.

Or so I thought, until I saw this amazing Scandinavia style radio-gram with tape recorder AND TV on an American radio engineers chat site recently. Just look at those sleek lines, with dramatic plunging . . . . its just superb, and through I'd share it with you.
Now thats what I call a radiogram!

(If anyone has one they want rid of I would love to find room for it in my office!)

Friday, 10 January 2014

Calm Seas and tidal floods

Calm Seas ?

Radio Caroline on a calm sea. 

There has been a fair bit of excitement in the media the last few weeks about heavy seas, where these have been pounding the sea walls and coastline in general around the south and west of England.

Here in East Yorkshire we are no strangers to this sort of violence from Mother Nature - every year Yorkshire loses acres and acres of lamed to the North Sea between Flamborough and Spurn point as the mainly clay cliffs are undermined by buffeting waves, particularly in North Easterlies, and huge chunks of cliff end up in the sea. Often these cliffs have roads, homes, caravans etc on top, and unless these are taken away in time they too end up in the sea.

We also get our fair share of flooding too - a depression (area of low pressure) coming down the North Sea, if coinciding with a spring tide and even worse with the wind piling it up, can add a huge 'surge' onto the tide. As this travels down the North Sea, the area it has available to it gets ever narrower, and as it then travels up inlets like the River Humber, it can really pile up very high  There was 15 feet on top of some tides in December - at the height of this the main road through Hull was closed as it got covered, as did thousands of homes and businesses on both sides of the Humber.

NOTE  The BBC completely ignored this disastrous event and saturated its output with interviews with odd people who once met Nelson Mandela, who had died that evening. They even cancelled regular programmes on BBC 1 TV, and replace it with the output of BBC News, which was "wall to wall" Mandela stories.

The printed press are often no better and very prone to inaccuracy, using various descriptions of wind, waves and other weather items.   There is a well thought out and meaningful 'Beaufort Scale' for wind, where the sind force , numbered 1 to 12 describes accurately what the wind speed is.  The Met office describe this much better than I can HERE 
The BBC and newspapers often report Force 12 gales,  Storm force 6 - all utter nonsense - is it a gale (if so what force is it really?) or is it a storm. You just can't tell from our media weather folk,. many of whom seem to be not only unqualified but not having any understanding of what users might want to know it for!

It s a beautiful feeling sailing on very calm seas, when it is just like a mirror. I hope your next sailing is over such waters.