Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Skin by Mo Hayder .

A body is found, it looks like suicide but Detective Inspector Jack Caffery has his doubts. Some things do not add up. Skin is a spooky tale and is the 4th thriller featuring Jack Caffery. Skin was written in 2009 and has 459 pages. You do not need to have read any of the previous Jack Caffery thrillers because each novel is stand-alone. Skin does however carry on from the 3rd thriller called Ritual which I read in May 2009 and also features the specialist Police diver Sergeant Flea Marley. Lurking in the background are also our old friends the Walking Man and the Tokoloshe .

Skin reveals a very good atmosphere of Bristol and the surrounding area, where I lived for 20 years. This novel has a good structure as the story develops. There is plenty of detail, not just Police procedure but autopsies and diving. Not everything is central to the plot but this is a bonus, not a distraction. Who is lurking in the shadows? Why did Lucy die? Who is the killer, what could be their motive and are the many characters linked? Skin has a good pace for your daily read. There is a good tension running throughout this book as you wonder about the title of this novel - skin - a sexual tension that keeps you wondering. You read through the story and begin to feel sorry for the mess that Jack Caffery and Flea Marley are making of things. I will vote this book 4 stars on Book Army because it is a good crime thriller. Skin has a good ending that gives a feeling of relief for the reader. Although both Detective Inspector Jack Caffery and Sergeant Flea Marley had got themselves into a right mess, it all works out okay in the end. Then you feel a warmth for both central characters and want to get a copy of Mo Hayder's next novel called Gone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

All around the bay .

On the 24th March 2010 I wrote on this blog about the new Pont y Werin footbridge at Cardiff Bay, that was due to open for the public on the 8th June...

£4.5m is an awful lot of money for a footbridge. Oh yes, it will be very nice for tourists to stroll across as they enjoy their visit to Cardiff Bay but with increasing obesity among the population I cannot imagine many tourists walking all the way from the Pier Head to Penarth and back. The only legitimate use for this bridge is people in Penarth who want to come across to Cardiff Bay on foot or a bicycle, I suspect those numbers to be very low indeed! Out of interest Barney and I will be walking this super new £4.5m footbridge when it opens to the public. I and the rest of the community have paid for this new footbridge, so I feel obliged to walk it.

...Well, the time has come and I parked our car at the Cardiff Barrage , leaving Gail to read her newspaper whilst Barney and I walked around the bay. We walked around Cardiff Bay counter-clockwise but the walk would have been the very same had we went around clockwise, that is the joy that circular walks have over linear walks.

Barney and I thoroughly enjoyed our walk all around the bay, which took a shade under 90 minutes. What we liked about it was the contrast. The Cardiff Barrage is a wide open and wind-swept dockland area. You can watch boats come in and out through the barrage and the only noise you hear is the birds. Further along you have the tourist attractions of the Wales Millennium Centre and the restaurants around Mermaid Quay. Then we strolled across the Wetlands to the main road bridge to cross the River Taff.

Barney wondered if we were shopping in Morrison's as we walked past the back of the store towards Cardiff International Pool and the Sports Village. And there it was in front of us, £4.5m of footbridge! We did not have to queue to get across and there was only one other person in sight, the time being 10.45 - Pont y Werin footbridge is a very simple and basic looking bridge. It does not look like £4.5m worth of bridge but it will swing up and down to allow tall boats through. Still, it is a nice little short cut and adds more quality to this very pedestrian friendly circular walk around the bay. Then we followed signposts towards the Barrage past some houses and a little park finishing by walking alongside Penarth Marina to the parking area at Cardiff Barrage.

Barney and I enjoyed our walk around the bay with plenty of room for him to run off his lead. The most interesting bits for Barney were across the Wetlands. What I liked most was the contrasts between development, industry, leisure, nature, residential, retail and tourism. It is a walk of contrasts and I just hope that tourists to our great city will get off their fat backsides to walk around the bay. If you want some food and drink, then representing good value for money is the Oystercatcher , along Terra Nova Way, which is the Penarth side of the Pont y Werin footbridge.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Look, I must be sophisticated!

Oh yes, it is printed in The Guardian today...

Food appears key to this renaissance, with sales of real or cask ales booming in pubs where sophisticated consumers are choosing ale in preference to wine with their meal. there you have it, as printed in today's Guardian, I am a "sophisticated consumer"!

I have enjoyed real ale for over 34 years now and I thought the image of a real ale drinker was a bearded middle-aged man, not a sophisticated consumer. I am a bearded middle-aged man and I certainly enjoy my real ale. There are now so many to choose from, with 78 new micro-breweries opening in the last year bringing the total in the UK to 767. According to the Cask Report, Britain's National Drink, 2010-2011, published today, the real ale market grew by 5% in 2009 to £1.4bn, against a 2% decline in the total UK beer market, which remains dominated by carbonated beers such as lager.

It is nice to read that sales of real ale have increased because there was a worry maybe 20 years ago, that pubs were phasing out real ale in favour of keg beers and lagers. Thankfully drinkers have shown good sense and taste by supporting real ale at the till in both pubs and the supermarkets. It is also nice to consider myself to be a sophisticated bearded middle-aged man.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scary vegetables!

Your sleep is disturbed by midnight noises coming from your garden. You investigate only to find that...

...a 90kg (14st) black bear is attacking your 12-year-old collie. The bear charges towards you and you have to find a weapon to defend yourself and frighten the black bear away. But what household item can you use that will really scare off a bear? It is green and is 30cm long. Your weapon of choice is the courgette. You throw the courgette at the bear from a distance of about a metre, the vegetable hits the bear on the top of its head and the animal flees in fear of this wicked vegetable!

Scary things those courgettes but the story brought a smile to my face.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Invitation to a Beheading .

Over on Brain Drain a blog by K P Jayan, he writes about a novel by Vladimir Nabokov called Invitation to a Beheading . I have not read this book but I do like reading Jayan's blog. K P Jayan has written a lovely blog post about this book, that got me thinking.

Cincinnatus is on death row, awaiting his Beheading...

All he ask is for a few blank sheets and the pen. In confinement, he thus starts writing. But he is not sure if he will be able to complete all that he wanted to say. Even before he was taken to the final destination, all he ask is three more minute to complete what he writing.

...So, as K P Jayan admits, Invitation to a Beheading is is a difficult novel to read. But the bit about writing something before you die and how important it is to you, I can understand and relate to. People like to leave the slate clean when they die and to write something that others can remember them by. Of course it is a very real tension when you do not know just how long you have to live. Then your whole focus shifts from your life to your final prose. Many people write lots of things everyday on blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Some people have a sudden and untimely death, so their final blog, Facebook or Twitter posts just reveal the daily flavour of their personalities and life. It is always sad to read someone's final blog, Facebook or Twitter post after they have died, knowing that was the last time the world could hear their voice. If you know, like Cincinnatus did, that you are on your way out, then it is very important that you and only you write your final chapter. It is also a good way to grieve when other people submit their comments under the deceased person's final blog, Facebook or Twitter post.

If I never meet my daughter Inge before I die, then I hope that she will find this blog on the internet and gain a glimpse of the father she never knew.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The walls have ears! .

What sort of a society have we become? Passengers regularly eavesdrop drivers talking among themselves and then report the drivers in the hope that they will receive a money-off travel voucher. Now things have gone a step further and 6 Veolia workers have been arrested after they were allegedly overheard in the works canteen discussing an attack on the Pope. Police refused to confirm reports that the men were joking, saying they had a duty to investigate. All 6 men aged between 26 and 50, were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism on Friday, and released without charge late on Saturday and early on Sunday.

So, watch what you say in public because the eavesdroppers can get you into trouble. Mind you, not all Veolia depots are the same. At Treforest the staffing levels are so low, I have not found anyone in the portacabin for 2 weeks now to scan and issue my tachograph charts. Each day I go into an empty portacabin with nobody to do my tachographs, say hello to or plot an attack to kill the Pope. Now I know why there is a desk diary, for drivers to leave comments before launching an attack in London.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pope brings London to gridlock .

Thanks a lot to the Metropolitan Police and the Pope for bringing London to gridlock yesterday afternoon. What a disgrace and it pissed a lot of people off. The Police closed loads of roads in central London at the drop of a hat, for the visit of the Pope. It took me 70 minutes to get from Victoria Coach Station to the New Covent Garden Market, a journey that normally takes 10 to 15 minutes. This meant that I lost an hour of my rest break just because of the Pope's visit. Looking at the above webpage I read that...

16.13: The Pope arrives at Lambeth. Just under 25 minutes from Wimbledon. Record time I would suggest from that part of the world to central London.

...yes, well okay for him and his Police escort, whilst everyone else is stuck in gridlock.

Returning back to Cardiff, passengers were right pissed off by the delays caused by the Pope's visit and the closed roads. We are not just talking about wasted time and the congestion. Passengers who were delayed by the gridlock had missed their original departure. Accordingly these passengers then had to purchase a new ticket at around £25 a throw - that certainly hurts. They would not want to convert to Catholicism after being robbed of time and money by the Pope.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I agree with Terry Sanderson.

Pope Benedict said "Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live."

His pronouncements brought immediate condemnation from humanists and secularists, and some other religious groups. Terry Sanderson, the president of the National Secular Society, said the pope had hardly waited to get off the plane before attacking secularism.

He added: "The British people have embraced a secular identity of their own free will, perhaps as a reaction to the ultra-conservatism of this recent papacy and the extremism that has been manifested by some forms of Islam. The secular identity of the British people is not something to criticise, but to celebrate."

...I agree with Terry Sanderson on this one, Britain should celebrate our secularism. Just look at the horrors of sectarianism throughout the world, where believers claim that their god is better than another god. Thankfully most of Britain has moved on from this narrow-minded, bigoted religious stance to become a multi-cultural, yet very secular nation.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No surprise here, then.

The obesity epidemic has nothing to do with modern sedentary lifestyles and is entirely down to eating too much, a leading academic has claimed. Despite appearances, overall physical activity levels have remained constant for the last quarter of a century during which time weight levels have rocketed, Professor John Speakman said. He claimed that the average man burned 1380 calories per day in the 1980s and continues to do so today. The average woman has burned 950 calories a day during the same period. What has changed is that calorie intake has increased by at least a third to on average 3,500 calories a day, he said.

This article in the Daily Telegraph has so far generated 14 reader comments. It is no surprise to me, the 14 commentators or the general public at large, that if you eat too much, then you will put on weight. If you keep eating too much over time, then you will become obese. Obese people can make many excuses, my wife Gail included. Trouble is my Mam and Dad read the Daily Telegraph and they will have read this article and commented between themselves. I wonder if they will mention it when we see them next Tuesday?

Sorry Gail but the jury is not out on this one. We know just how much you eat and your dress size demonstrates this. John Speakman has spoken out as an academic by saying just what everyone else has believed for years. If you eat too much then the pounds will simply pile on. And yes, if I drink too much beer, then my belly will grow past my 36" waist.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Charlemange Pursuit by Steve Berry .

Ex-agent Cotton Malone wants to know what really happened to his father, officially lost at sea when his submarine went down in the north Atlantic. But when he uses his government contacts to obtain the submarine's sealed file, Malone finds he is not the only person looking for answers.

The Charlemagne Pursuit was written in 2008 and has 589 pages plus another 6 pages of Writer's Note at the end. I found this book a frustrating read with poor entertainment value. I vote this novel 2 stars on Book Army because it is a poor conspiracy tale. I did not like Steve's writing style which has the annoying habit of leaving unfinished business at the end of each chapter. I did not like the sloppy structure within this book. As this conspiracy slowly unfolds, Steve only explains little bits at a time, making this story a slow drag as all the characters know the history of their own part but take forever and a day to reveal them to the reader. I did not develop an empathy for any character in this book. There were too many killings throughout this story. Anyone falls out of favour and they get bumped off, no questions asked. The Charlemagne Pursuit fails as a conspiracy. The story lacks realism and is quite a childish fantasy. I took nothing away from this novel and I shall not be reading another of Steve's books. This book is not a thriller and with the exception of yet more unnecessary killings, the ending is okay. There is no real depth or twists to this story, just a case of who can you trust? The book cover states "A Cotton Malone Thriller" - well, no thanks, not another even though on page 589 this story ends...

Tomorrow he'd rest. Sunday was always a light day. Stores were closed. Maybe he'd drive north and visit with Henrik Thorvaldsen. He hadn't seen his friend in three weeks. But maybe not. Thorvaldsen would want to know where he'd been, and what had happened, and he wasn't ready to relive it.
For now, he'd sleep.
Malone awoke and cleared the dream from his mind. The bedside clock read 2:34 a.m. Lights were still on throughout the apartment. He'd been sleeping for three hours.
But something had roused him. A sound. Part of the dream he'd been having, yet not.
He heard it again.
Three squeaks in quick succession.
His building was seventeenth century, completely remodeled a few months ago after being firebombed. Afterward, the new wooden risers from the second to the third floor always announced themselves in a precise order, like keys on a piano.
Which meant someone was there.
He reached beneath the bed and found the rucksack he always kept ready - a habit from his Magellan Billet days. Inside, his right hand gripped the Beretta automatic, a round already chambered.
He crept from the bedroom.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quote of the day .

And my quote of the day goes to Lady Gaga...

Referring to her outfit – and wearing her best poker face – Lady Gaga joked: "I never thought I'd be asking Cher to hold my meat purse."

So there has been a lot of comment over the internet and in the media about Lady Gaga's meat dress. It has certainly stimulated debate...

I think it looks gross and may reduce her record sales. You can't tell people what to eat but wearing meat flesh as a dress is rubbing it in for the vegetarians. What will Lady Gaga be wearing for her next awards ceremony? What are the odds on a fish dress? That would put her outfits on a different scale to other artists.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Barefoot in London .

On the 4th August 2010 Thursday's child wrote in her blog about walking barefoot in London...

...Only option ive got is to take off my sandals and walk barefoot, the broken ones beyond fixing. So its back down the grimy stair well and ive got to brave the front line, shoeless, i must look like a right dick, walking through south east london with no shoes pushing a pram, with a long bright dress, and black hijab, people are looking at me and i have to go and catch the bus to Old Kent Road, i have to say about 10 times to people looking at me like WTF? "my sandal broke" and they're like having a 'smirky smile' back and saying "oh". On the 21 bus, i inspect my foot bottom, i think the soles of my feet are like an inch thick with dirt, worse than the picture at the top i just found.

...Well, that got Stephen thinking. You often see people walking around London barefoot. There are many reasons for this, for some people it is a lifestyle choice . For other people it can be a fashion statement or a protest against companies who do not allow entry to barefoot customers. Then there are the healthy lifestyle people who go barefoot because that is how our species evolved. When you think about it, they have a point when you consider evolution and how your foot works.

There is no need to invest £7.50 for a book called The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons to Kick Off Your Shoes by Daniel Howell. All you need to do is take off your shoes and give it a go! Walking barefoot is different and can be quite a thrill. Your feet and senses will feel very fresh and awake.

Of course, walking barefoot in London is also rather sexy. Looking at the feet hunter blog you will find many pictures that show just how sexy and attractive barefoot girls can be...

So why no give it a try? What have you got to loose?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Steady as she goes!!!!

Okay, we are all a bit nervous today with it being the anniversary of 9/11. There are many threats in our cities and sometimes things just go up in smoke. I am not a fan of the bendy-bus and this was not an act of terrorism. A bendy-bus caught fire in London Victoria Bus Station last Saturday morning and Camera Nijnja has put his video on You Tube. London Mayor Boris Johnson has ordered the phasing out of bendy-buses, which have a reputation for catching fire.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Fox & Hounds at Llancarfan .

Yesterday was our 19th wedding anniversary and we chose to celebrate with friends and family by going out for a meal. Gail is a big fan of British food and wanted something British, after the recent string of visits to foreign restaurants. Both sisters-in-law, Diane and Maggie like British food, so they were happy to come along and let John and David know the event was happening! We were also joined by Faye and David who are long standing friends and were at our wedding 19 years ago. The 8 of us sat down with David, Diane and Gail sitting next to each other on the same side. It would have been obvious to anyone that they were brother and two sisters, no need for a DNA check!

The Fox & Hounds at Llancarfan is in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is between Bonvilston and Barry down some country lanes. Llancarfan is a tiny village in the back of beyond. This was the village pub but times have changed with lots of pubs going bankrupt. The Fox & Hounds can get no passing trade because it is not on a classified road, you have to want to go there. So the Fox & Hounds must rely on the quality of it's food and tourists wanting accommodation in a secluded rural spot.

We had the special £15 three course evening dinner. The food is British and at the top end of the market. This is not freezer-to-fryer food that comes in on one lorry from a distribution hub. They do not offer regular pub fare but food where an awful lot of thought has gone into the menu. This is special chef food where every dish has an added extra, something you will never find in the major restaurant chains.

My starter was a salad with fresh beetroot and 3 different cheeses. This was refreshingly different for a starter and I would have it again. My main course was the lamb pie which was gorgeous and full of flavour. My desert was passion fruit panna cotta which was like a blancmange . You don't get deserts like that in your nearest branch of Brains! I think the quality of food on offer for your £15 is good value and everyone was happy with what they had. They had a real ale that I have never heard of before. It was Holden's XB a 4.1% alcohol by volume straw coloured real ale. I really liked this beer and I wondered where it had come from. It tasted similar to beers from Devon and Somerset. A quick check on the internet revealed it's most unlikely origin, Dudley in the West Midlands!

So that was a lovely celebration of our 19th wedding anniversary and a great time was had by all at the Fox & Hounds, Llancarfan.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What's it with the ties?

Nat West have rented some large billboard sites on major routes going into London. This advertising campaign features large photographs of alleged bank workers who are there to help you. There are 2 men and 2 women, each looking rather young. This advertisement is supposed to drum up business but it would put me off.

Each staff member is sporting the company uniform. Staff should be friendly and approachable. What do we have here? The 2 men wear the company tie and the 2 women some sort of cravat. This does not make the staff look professional but gives the impression that these young staff members are talking up their experience and the job by wearing a tie or cravat. The public are not fooled, wearing a tie does not get the job done, it just makes the staff member look a plonker! These characters do not look human, they look like tailors dummies.

This corporate image is not friendly but rather stand-offish. Do Nat West think that if their staff show a little neck it will get the customer running to another bank? I think Nat West have got it wrong with their neck tie and cravat company image. I would rather staff look normal, like the guy next door rather than a catalogue model. Customers like normal people to deal with, not dressed up dummies. Think again Nat West, neck ties and cravats belong in a museum, not on the High Street.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Solving mysteries .

Over on Do You Write Under Your Own Name? - Martin Edwards, a British crime writer made a post on his blog about readers solving mysteries...

The world of mystery readers divides into two broad categories – those who like to try to solve the mystery themselves, before the solution is revealed, and those who simply enjoy the story and make no serious effort to work out what is going on. Many people I know, including some crime writers, are in the latter camp, but I’m firmly in the former group.

...this blog post has so far generated comments from 9 readers of Martin's blog. So, which camp will I put myself in?

I view a mystery novel as a product of entertainment. I trust that the author has done a professional job and has produced a book that not only entertains me but broadens my mind and teaches me something new. I like to get taken away with a book and feel that I have undertaken a life changing journey. The author should be my guide on this journey through the world created by that author. I want to join this new world and bowl along with it. I have paid for the book and I feel the author should take me along, teaching me as I work through the chapters. So, put me in the "latter camp" of readers, who simply just want to enjoy the whole story. If I really wanted to solve puzzles then I would have purchased one of the many puzzle magazines available from newsagents.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The view from the cab window .

A WOMAN driver performed a sex act on herself while overtaking lorries on the M6. Miranda Chapman, 43, pulled down her trousers and knickers to pleasure herself. Trucker Jonathan Kitchen looked out of his cab and saw her naked below the waist as she slowly overtook his HGV in her Peugeot 307. He was so shocked by the sight that he called police. A patrol pulled Chapman over a few miles further along the motorway.

There are further reports of this incident in the Cumberland News and the Westmorland Gazette .

Much fun about this incident has been posted on the Truck Driver's Forum including ...

I had similar coming up the A42 not long ago... I noticed a car 'sitting' very close to the back of the trailer. I thought about 'feathering' my hand-brake but I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of completing accident forms should the car have hit me. Anyway, the car decides to overtake very slowly. Once it is level with the front of the tractor unit I look down. There's a bloke driving and a woman asleep on the passenger seat. She's in her mid-50s, wearing a crop top and nothing below, bearing a 'shaven haven' for all to see. I had a good perv (well... you have to, don't you?) and then lent on the horn. Scared the bejesus out of the pair of them, the car swerved away nearly hitting the armco! PMSL!

...So, what is my view on this incident? Well, I think that the truck driver Jonathan Kitchen is a sad old character. He should have simply turned a blind-eye for Miranda was not doing any harm and had full control of her vehicle. I think his phone call to the police was not justified and was bordering on wasting police time. You would think that catching a glimpse of Miranda in action would have brightened up his day, it would do for most other professional drivers. Driving along at night on country roads it is quite common to catch in your headlights women in lay-bys having a pee. It always pleases me to see the unexpected display of naked buttocks caught in action as I drive past. I am sure I am not alone in this, so keep your fingers on the action girls and brighten up our work days and nights!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Speaking the language .

Language is a wonderful living thing, that changes and can be quite local. It is so easy to forget that for people speaking English as a second language, some of our euphemisms can be bewildering. Imagine you are in a hospital and you tell the nurse that you want to spend a penny. Your bladder is full and where does the nurse take you? The foreign nurse thinks about what you have asked for and takes you to the hospital shop. It makes complete sense to the immigrant nurse, you want to spend a penny, therefore you need a shop! There are other misunderstandings for you to smile at if you click the link. Thankfully a training course has been set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King's Lynn NHS trust to help their Portuguese staff understand the Norfolk locals.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A taste of Lebanon.

Tomorrow is my 52nd birthday and it will be a normal day at work for me. To celebrate my birthday I went out for a meal last night with my wife Gail and our friends Faye and David. Choosing where to go for a meal with friends or family is always a matter of discussion and negotiation, so that everybody is happy with the choice of restaurant. The exception to this convention is birthdays, when only the person whose birthday it is has a say in the venue. Nobody has a right of veto and only the birthday person can decide where to go.

So, where did I decide to have my birthday meal? Readers of this blog will know that I have an interest in the conflicts taking place in the Middle East. I enjoy reading the reports from Robert Fisk in the Independent newspaper and have read 2 of his books. Robert Fisk has lived in Beirut, Lebanon for over 30 years now and he writes with such addictive passion. Now, I cannot go to Lebanon for a birthday treat but I can certainly sample the food. Robert Fisk is an English journalist whom I admire and as he has lived in Lebanon for over 30 years, he must like the food! Readers of this blog will know how much I enjoy Arab food on holiday, so I chose a Lebanese restaurant here in Cardiff for my birthday meal. Sadly, both sisters-in-law decided not to come to my birthday meal, simply because I had chosen a Lebanese restaurant. Their partners were not consulted and Diane and Maggie simply said they would not come because they did not like my choice. Well, shame on them for being so ignorant, they missed a really good meal. Gail had to come because she is my wife, Faye and David go with us on foreign holidays and have a very open attitude to food - they like all food and will give every dish a try.

I chose the Mina Lebanese Restaurant at 43 Crwys Road in the Cathays district of Cardiff. For my starters I had Falafel - a Vegetarian traditional eastern snack made of chickpeas and broadbeans and flavoured with exotic spices, shaped in to balls and deep fried with our special sauce. This was very tasty and reminded me of foreign holidays in North Africa.

For my main course I had Kubbabil Sayniyeh - a most popular Lebanese dish. Two flat layer of baked minced lamb and cracked wheat shell, filled with seasoned minced lamb and pine nuts, served with our mint sauce, rice and salad. This dish was out of this world, it was simply gorgeous. This is the very taste that I was looking for and gave me the joy that I get from eating Arab food. This dish is beautiful and I cannot fault it. I cannot think of another dish that beats it. Now I know why Robert Fisk has lived in Lebanon for over 30 years. With food of this quality and taste, I would not want to come back to boring, bland British food. On the strength of this meal, I would happily book a holiday to Lebanon tomorrow. The Kubbabil Sayniyeh gets full marks from me!

In keeping with the Lebanese menu, I drank a Lebanese beer called Almaza . Faye and I enjoyed this beer and we could drink it until the cows came home!

So, I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday meal and I would recommend the Mina Lebanese Restaurant to everyone. Whatever thoughts you may have about the conflicts in the Middle East, put them aside and simply enjoy the food. The Lebanese certainly know how to cook a delicious meal and the portions at the Mina Lebanese Restaurant are large, so they had 4 very happy customers last night!

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