Destiny! Destiny!

There is no escape for me!


Anyway, I caved and bought a next-gen console (in addition to the Wii-U -.-). Usually, I need a critical mass of games I really want before I’ll splurge on a console, and I never got there with the PS3. So far, though, must haves on the PS4 for me are Shadows of Mordor, No Man’s Sky, The Evil Within, Alien Isolation, Silent Hills, The Last of Us Remastered and, of course, Destiny.

So, I’m about a week in and I’m in love with the game. I can see where the next-gen-ness comes from. Not just the graphics (although ultra-pretty, ultra-smooth-framerate and huuuuuge draw distance is nice) but in the AI. The enemies are just fecking sneaky. The game itself is all kinds of awesome and is constantly surprising me with just how huge it is. It’s ticking all the right boxes for me, especially in the “if you can see it you can go there” stakes.

So, in short, very happy. Currently running a warlock at level 14 and getting more engrossed every day.

Share Button

Spicy Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker / crockpot

So, you have a 3kg lump of boneless pork shoulder in your fridge and you want to do something awesome with it. Here’s what to do. Combine the following.

  • 50g/2oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp smoked hot paprika
  • 3 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp dry mustard powder

Rub about 50% of this into the pork, getting it into all the nooks and crannies. I usually remove the skin and untie the pork first, just to make sure I get as much of the rub on as I possibly can.

Dump it in a big bowl and cover with tinfoil then put in the fridge to marinade. A couple of hours will do, but if you can do overnight that’s even better – particularly as you’re going to be doing it in a slow cooker.

Once you’re marinaded, put a couple of roughly chopped onions, some garlic cloves and about 150ml of boiling water in the bottom of the slow cooker and set it on high.

Rub the rest of the marinade into the pork, stick it in the slow cooker, put the lid on and leave it alone for 8 hours.

After the 8 hours are up, lift out the pork (you may need a spoon to do it :)) and put it on a chopping board. Cover with foil and leave for half an hour to rest.

Use a couple of forks to pull the pork.



Share Button

Still think the BBC is impartial?

So, at a presentation for the international media yesterday, Nick Robinson of the BBC asked Alex Salmond a question. Not only was it answered comprehensively, but it must have made some slightly uncomfortable listening for Mr Robinson. Here’s what happened.

As state broadcaster, the BBC obviously had to cover this. Here’s what they broadcast.




Share Button

Sometimes you need a smile

It’s been a while since I posted anything. I think social media is largely killing the blogs of people like me who generally don’t have much to say :) But I found this picture and it made me smile, so I’m gonna put it here in the hope that it makes you smile too.



Happy Life

Share Button

A New World

So, with the demise of my previous Dwarf Fortress due to an unexpected flooding and all the carp-related issues that brings, it’s time to generate a new world to try out all the shiny new weirdnesses that 0.40 brings. Here’s the world in question. Wish me luck – I’m going to have “fun”.

The New World.png

Share Button


So, fell off the internet last night, for the first time since 1997. This was thanks to the company hosting the domain screwing up the renewal process by, well, not renewing :-/ As their tech support department are only around during UK office hours, this resulted in the domain vanishing until lunchtime today.

This affected everything – not just the website. So if anyone has emailed and got a bounce back – well, try again and it’ll work :)

Share Button

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

We’ve all stopped talking about Pete Seeger, now that the loss isn’t quite so keenly felt. But you’re not forgotten, Pete. You’ll never be forgotten.



Share Button

West Highland Way

So, I’m doing the West Highland Way in July. I’ll be posting updates here as cell coverage / wifi availability allows. Really looking forward to it – a bit of isolation and hard graft is something I sorely need right now.

Share Button

Darling Molly Gray

A simple but lovely tune, playing in open G tuning on a Shackleton banjo.


Share Button

Two new banjos: Part 1 – The Shackleton

Okay, so I got a bit carried away – I have received both a Shackleton banjo and a Barry Sholder fretless gourd banjo in the last week and they’re both, frankly, stunning and very different in character.

I’m going to split my musings over two posts because each instrument is exceptional in its own way and deserves a post of its own as a result. This is, of course, nothing to do with me trying to get my head (and fingers) around playing a fretless :)

First off – the Shackleton. I pre-ordered one of these way back in July 2013, before there was so much as a design concept in place. For quite a few reasons.

Firstly, I’d heard the “Islander Ash Leaf” banjo which the company behind the Shackleton (originally Banjos Direct, now the Great British Banjo Company) had commissioned previously and – well – better musical minds than mine were blown by it :)

Secondly, I’m a big fan of Shackleton the explorer – along with Christopher Lee, he’s one of my idols.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, the vision of what these guys were doing blew me away. Despite the economic climate, despite the ready availability of mass-produced (take that to mean what you will) banjos from the far east, they were going to design and manufacture a British banjo on a large scale, using as many British parts as possible, and at a price point to rival the ‘Big Boys’. What they were planning was nothing less than re-vitalising an industry that hasn’t been seen in Britain for sixty years.

A few weeks after my speculative preorder, the company launched a kickstarter campaign to help fund the project – which quickly met 160% of its original target, resulting in over 150 advance orders.

Then a few months later the first Shackletons began rolling off the benches of a very hard-worked team of luthiers – a banjo which, with the exception of a Remo head and Grover tuners (and a couple of minor bits), is made entirely in Britain. The neck, carved from a single quarter-sawn block of Appalachian rock maple, is turned and hand finished in Britain. The pot – a multi-ply arrangement, finished in birds eye maple and hand made by Premier Percussion – features a rather nice bearing edge instead of a tone-ring. Even the stainless steel brackets and tension hoop are made in Norfolk. I’m not going to wax lyrical about the peg head – save to say I like it a bit :)

Yeah yeah yeah, you’re saying – get on with it. How does it sound?

Like something three times the price, that’s how. Listen:




The Shackleton itself is surprising light, coming in at around 2Kg. It still manages to have the depth of tone of a much heavier instrument (not sure how they’ve managed that) and the sensitivity and sustain is just incredible.  Every aspect of the instrument reeks of quality and precision – it’s easy to say ‘hand-made in Britain’, but when you actually open the box and take out a work of art which is assembled and set up to such exacting standards – well, I reckon the banjoneers at the GBBC are going to be very very busy from now on, and I reckon that Sir Ernest Shackleton would be proud. After all, in his own words, “Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn if unless it achieve results.”

It’s customary, at this point, for me to find a negative to balance my glowing review. Sorry folks. I have no negatives to give you. Yes, it’s a little more expensive than some of the ‘looky-likey’ banjos (Deering Goodtime, I’m looking at you). But that’s because, bluntly, it’s a better instrument. There are no compromises here. The last time I was banjo-shopping I played pretty much everything I could find that cost less than £1,000 and the Shackleton trumps all of them.

At the same time, though, there’s no complexity. There’s no money wasted on pretty pearl inlays, Scruggs tuners, armrests or anything like that. The instrument, with it’s relatively few tension brackets (and, really, with modern mylar heads, there’s no need to wreathe your banjo pot in bolts any more), has a spartan elegant look. You’re paying for tone and playability, not an inlaid dragon on the fretboard. And I love the headstock :) Have I mentioned that already?

So – there we have it. If you’re looking for either a first time banjo or an upgrade without going into four figures, this is the one to get.

Share Button
Return top

Random Fact

Two wrongs don't make a right, but two Wrights did once make an aeroplane. Unless you're talking integer maths where two wrongs DO actually make a right. Also, three lefts make a right.