BBC Good Food Show 2016

The BBC Good Food Show has been on my to do list for a while, and this year I finally managed to find time to attend the show for a few hours. It’s bad timing really, because I haven’t been cooking or baking as much as I used to, but even so, I’m still keen on seeing what the best of the kitchen world has to offer.

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping the show would have innovation and cool kitchen tools, areas for increasing food knowledge, cooking skills and creating more interesting dishes. Generally, I just wanted a bit of inspiration.


There was the occasional stall that had an interesting gadget on it, but for the most part, there were three types of stall:

  1. eat on the day stands, ie burgers and ice creams and such
  2. test out artisan products, such as cheese or gourmet sausage rolls
  3. extension of physical or online shop, ie the sprawling Lakeland aisles

I wasn’t that hungry when I arrived at the show, and the mixture of competing smells did nothing for my appetite, so the taste tests and lunch stalls weren’t that interesting. And I felt a bit irritated at having to pay an entry fee for what amounts to a Lakeland shop, when I can get to one for free in the high street.

Oddly, for me, the most interesting part was the Lexus stand. Beautiful shiny cars, and a magazine to take home about design. Not really anything to do with food though. The food show was twinned with Gardener’s World, and there were more fascinating stalls in that section than in the Good Food area.

Previous visits to trade shows have seen me come away with bags of leaflets and freebies, that Mr C dismisses as tat. This time, I just had a few booklets, and I picked up a flapjack or two for the journey home. A disappointing experience, but at least another check on my to do list.

On the record – Unicorns and rainbows all the way (Weeks 1 to 4)

I introduced where this 2016 music goal came from already, and here it is – the first set of results are in. The idea in brief is for me to listen to more music, and specifically to understand what albums are all about.

Below you’ll find what I have listened to for the first four weeks of the challenge, with a short note on my feelings afterwards. My picks come first, Mr C’s second, but you’ll get that from the release dates.

Also, please don’t judge me for starting with a country artist – I had to ease myself in gently.

Title Artist Year Notes
Week 1
The First Time Kelsea Ballerini 2015 Perfect country pop, little bit on the sweet side, but not a bad tune on there. Except maybe I wear my pain like stillettos.
A Night at the Opera Queen 1975 Beautifully eclectic mix of grungy rock & roll alongside the more poppy pieces, some country influences and more. Crazy but brilliant.
Week 2
Purpose Justin Bieber 2015 An electro-pop looping journey that has so many Ed Sheeran influences, it’s mad. Felt very defensive too – Sorry, What Do You Mean, I’ll Show You.
Heroes David Bowie 1977 What’s amazing about this album is how you can see the effort and crafting gone in to it. Not all to my taste, but the bizarre mix means there’s got to be something to like.
Week 3
A Head Full of Dreams Coldplay 2015 Very poppy, quite an 80s feel, but really – who are these people and what have they done with Coldplay? It’s almost oppressively optimistic. Unicorns and rainbows all the way.
Straight Outta Compton N.W.A. 1988 Loved this so much more than I thought I would, good beats, angry ranting, and a great sense of camaraderie.
Week 4
White Light The Corrs 2015 Lovely to hear their voices again, bit disappointed that it started out strong but descended into epic easy listening by the end.
Let Go Avril Lavigne 2002 Wonderful pop-rock, teen angst without being depressing, catchy songs and solid lyrics – not so sure of the one where she raps though.

After the first few weeks, I was totally hooked on this whole concept. Who knew albums could be so brilliant and contagious and how can I listen to more and more please?

I quickly discovered that I needed to listen to each one more than once for it to really sink in and take hold, so I’ve endeavoured to listen to each at least twice. A couple of them I’ve wanted to listen to more than that – Kelsea’s album really is a beautiful slice of country pop, whilst Straight Outta Compton also really grabbed me (much to my own surprise). I already listened to it twice over and above the requirements for this challenge.

Two hits out of eight albums, is that a decent strike rate? We’ll have to see how the next batch goes.

Notes for future research:

  • Listen to more of N.W.A. together and apart, and learn more about the East/West Coast hip-hop battle.
  • Find out if Coldplay’s albums in the period in between the last time I listened and this time were as positive, or if this is just a bizarre outlier.
  • Continue to ponder what it must have been like to hear Bohemian Rhapsody at the time in its natural habitat.

On the record

It started like this:

John: Rumours? You ever heard Rumours?
Kayleigh: What?
John: What?! Rumours is one of the best albums in the whole wide world!
Kayleigh: Never even heard of it.
John: Excuse me? You’ve never heard of Rumours? Oh, you’ll love it. I’ll burn you a copy. Tonight. One of my all-time favourite albums.
Kayleigh: Mine’s Now 48.
John: Now 48?!
Kayleigh: They’re all on it, all me faves S-Club 7, Steps, Samantha Mumba, Shaggy! It wasn’t me.
John: No. No, I’m sorry. You can’t have a Now album as your favourite album.
Kayleigh: Why not?
John: Cos you can’t have a compilation.
Kayleigh: I can have what I want, John.

Peter Kay’s Car Share

Mr C and I have had conversations like this over and over, although it wasn’t until this recent viewing that I realised my favourite album really and truly is a compilation. I’ve never really been an album type of person. I like an eclectic mix of songs, and tend to either like what I hear or don’t, and then stick with the ones I like. Searching out new music has never really been a key part of my enjoyment of the genre.

It was worse when the barrier to getting an album was somewhere around the £13.99 mark. Back in the day, I had a rule that I had to like at least two or three songs off an album before I’d even consider buying it, and even then I’d invariably opt for a Friends DVD instead. So the album thing, it kinda passed me by.

Now, I do agree with Kayleigh that you can have whatever you want as your favourite. But part of me thinks I have been missing out on something. Mr C is a big fan of the album. He tries to explain to me concept albums, collections of work that tell a story, how much it means to an artist for you to listen to their songs in the right order, etc, etc. I’ve mostly ignored him.

Until now.

I want to make the most of my Apple music subscription, I want to listen to more music, and I want to stop Mr C doing that disappointed shake of the head when we talk about albums. Hence, my new Life List adventure, On the Record.

The goal was conceived as thus:  Listen to a new (to me) album every week for a year.

I started listing new albums I wanted to listen to, and Mr C started chiming in with classic albums he thought I should hear.

Very quickly it became clear what the goal was going to become: Listen to two albums a week for a year, one chosen by me (released within the last year or so), and one chosen by Mr C (released any time up to 2010).

Slightly less catchy, but a heck of a lot more interesting. Naturally, I have to record my findings, so look out for some more music based entries coming soon!

Catching up, starting fresh – Life List Review 2014/15

Since I started my Life List project six years ago (six!), I’ve been wrapping up how each year has gone and what I’ve experienced that I probably wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t started such a thing. The last so-called Life List Review, however, was at the end of 2013, and two years have passed since then. I made the silly mistake of taking on some exams and spent the next 24 months with my head in textbooks, papers, mock exams, highlighters, notebooks and more.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t complete a couple of Life List items, but it does mean such things as the Alphabet Adventure weren’t even looked at. It also means that I’ve changed significantly as a person, which in turn resulted in an overhaul of the list itself.

That being said, here’s just a quick wrap up of things to note going into a year where I will (fingers crossed) have a bit more time to indulge in personal goals, rather than professional ones.

  • I finally reached the Film Watch goal of watching 500 movies. The film that took the coveted 500th spot? Well, it was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which was slightly less spectacular than I’d been hoping, but sometimes you just want to watch what you want to watch. 2015 saw a record breaking number of films consumed, thanks to that thing where you study so hard you literally can’t do anything else but sit down with a remote control and some popcorn. The more I watch, the more I learn, the more references I get, the more interconnected the films are, the more I want to watch. Film Watch isn’t ending any time soon, despite being checked off the Life List.
  • I gave up with blogging Doctor Who episodes, because the new Doctor doesn’t do it for me. People seem to love Peter Capaldi’s portrayal, so I have nothing against the guy, it’s just not my cup of tea. Talking of tea, I’ve also abandoned the “try new foods/tea” options because it’s just not on my radar at the moment. Subscribing to HelloFresh in 2014 really helped open my eyes to new foods and new ways of cooking, which was enough to satiate this desire.
  • My trip to the US last year saw me take in a baseball game, and as excited as I was about the sport when I first got back, I have to be honest and say that it’s drifted out of my mind of late. I’m far more interested in tennis these days, and watch as much as possible (mostly of the WTA as that is on BT Sport). It’s another game that delivers more the more you put into it, as there are so many tournaments and names and faces to remember. However, I have already added tennis as one of the ten sports I want to watch live, so will need to branch out again soon.

Recent changes to the Life List have made it more about going places and seeing things, as well as getting more creative. Having been somewhat stifled by the hectic studying schedule, it’s fair to say that when it’s all over (hopefully in 2016), I want to go to ALL the places and do ALL the things. That’s not too big a task, is it?

Puzzle pieces

Many times, I started writing the post about my Life List challenge to complete a puzzle book but the trouble is… well, it’s boring, isn’t it? Who wants to read about someone else trying to do a puzzle? I envisaged glorious photos and regular updates, but to be frank, I couldn’t summon the energy to take any!

I completed the puzzle book (almost) at some point earlier in the year, and have only just found the time to write about it. Here’s a quick video to prove it.

In brief, the facts and figures are that there were 51 puzzles, and I completed 43, half completed 4 and didn’t even attempt 4. I like the logic style puzzles, and enjoyed the fact I found a few of the puzzles I never thought I’d be able to do but actually whizzed through easily. I did not like cryptic crosswords or that weird one where you just have a grid of squares and have to both create the crossword shape and fill it in.

Anyway, pretty much three years after purchasing the book with Princess Kate on the cover (who has had two children in the time it’s taken me to finish), I’m done with it. Phew.

The year of changing tastes – Life List review 2013

It’s the last day of the year, and this is the time when people start making New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t tend to do that anymore, instead working from a broader Life List instead.

When I set about thinking of this annual round-up, I felt a little disappointed about how much (or how little) I’ve achieved this year. Looking back can be useful though, as I hadn’t quite realised I’d been to so many places!

Alphabet Adventure


When 2013 dawned, I was frantically searching for a Q to visit in my alphabetical trip around the United Kingdom. Somehow, I managed to cross six letters off the list this year, with some brilliant visits.

The end of the alphabet is in sight, and I think I have plans for each of the remaining letters. Maybe 2014 will be the year!

Film Watch

We managed to watch the most films ever this year, mostly because by taking on heaps of studying, I had plenty of evenings where I couldn’t think to do anything else but watch moving pictures on the big screen.

Film Watch also has a nice new home, and I’m really excited about how it looks. Keeping it separate from the main blog helps filter out the noise for anyone that isn’t interested in the film nonsense, and also makes it feel just a little bit special.

Some of the highlights this year include Skyfall, Crimson Tide, Pitch Perfect and Star Trek. Meanwhile, more than a year later, I am still not over the horror that was Prometheus.

Doctor Who

Just as in last year’s Life List roundup, I’ve managed to keep up with all the new episodes, but haven’t made much progress on the backlog. I did write about The Girl in the Fireplace but most of my attention was on the new – particularly as we have a brand new Doctor to worry about!

Live sports

One of the highlights of the year was a trip to Eastbourne to see my very first tennis at the Aegon International tournament.



I didn’t plan very well, and only saw a couple of junior players and some doubles matches, and it was hideously windy, but it felt like I learnt a lot about what to do in the future. I definitely want to see more tennis up close.

Big Read

The Big Read Bonanza list didn’t get a huge amount ticked off this year, but I did catch up on a few of the more classic entries that I had been leaving until last. A couple of Charles Dickens novels, The Count of Monte Cristo (which I mostly loved), and harder things like Anna Karenina, they were all reviewed this year.

I’ve been reading just as much as ever, but I suddenly realised that focusing on the list was seeing my digital stack of unread books was towering in a worrying fashion, and probably needed some attention. I’m hoping to switch my attention back to the list again this year.

Other items

The Panorama Party is up and running, but the page needs a bit of work to it. The trouble with panoramas is they are quite big, as photos go, so sharing them well on the web can be tricky. I have been learning what makes a good and bad panorama though, particularly when it comes to landscapes – I took one that mostly seemed to be a field, whilst a view over the Ilfracombe town was much better.

The bread/tea/new foods items have not had very much attention. I’ve gone off fancy teas at the moment, preferring the more standard tea bag and milk combination. Baking has also dropped off my hobby list for now, due to a lack of time, and a lack of inspiration from the Great British Bake Off. And I was never any good at the trying new foods one. Experimental, I am not.

Added items

As recently discussed, I have put the Backstreet Boys concert back on the list and soon it will be happening in the same year, which is pretty scary. I also added something about completing 30 day challenges, because I love the idea but have little in the way of commitment. I got a bit obsessed with walking after my trip to Snowdonia, so added “Walk on each of the UK National Trails” and “Climb a mountain.” What I can’t figure out is why I haven’t put climb a mountain under Grand Ambitions, because I think it counts as one of those!

So looking back, it hasn’t been the worst year in terms of Life List excitement, but I’m ready for 2014 to be just that little bit better.

Puzzle me this

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my ambitions to complete a puzzle book. Not a grand aim, I’ll grant you, and not one I thought it would take me almost twelve months to get back to.

I have, on occasion, sat down to write an update about my adventures through puzzle land, but as it turns out, writing about puzzles isn’t as entertaining as I thought it might be! Then again, actually doing them isn’t as good as I thought it would be either.



There are 51 puzzles in the book I bought, and so far I have completed 29 of them. That’s about 56% complete in twelve months. This could be a new record for the slowest completion of a monthly puzzle book ever!

For anyone that does actually care about these things, I liked the Arroword, I’ve always liked Logic ones, I managed a Codeword I didn’t think I could do, and one called Backwards that I didn’t even understand until I put pencil to paper.

Those I have left are either normal crosswords (there are a lot of these!), cryptic crosswords (which I don’t even…), repeats of ones I have already done, or they are so sparse I have no idea what to do with them. I mean, for example, this one.


If I wanted to stare at a simple grid, I’d have bought a pad of squared paper, right?