Goodbye Cafe India, it’s time to (not) dine…

Sad news, for all of you who love their curry, and live in this fair town of Hartlepool… Cafe India, one of my regular haunts (or one that cropped up regularly on my rotation of Hartlepudlian curry houses anyway) has served up its last onion bhaji.

I noticed it earlier in the week. I work a mere stone’s throw from its location, and I noticed that part of the window looked to be boarded up. The road it was on was not the most elegant road, so I had hoped it may have just been smashed. Imagine the heart-wrenching scene, when I approached closer, and yes, the entire place was boarded up. I have heard via Facebook that it closed due to lack of staff. Maybe this means there’s a chance it’ll reopen if they find someone? I notice their Just-eat page is still active (naturally, you can’t order from it). Maybe it’s just lulling me into a sense of security. Maybe it’ll disappear just as suddenly.

Over the recemnt months, I’ve been less of a customer. Not for any fault of theirs, it’s because, due to ol’ crater-foot, I was barely out of the house for 4 months, and the once regular occurrence of a curry, pretty much disappeared into the ether. Ironically, the last time I was in here was immediately after Hartlepool got relegated to the Bananavanarama league, way back on 6th May…

And, now we don’t have Cafe India, we might not even end up with a Hartlepool United…

#savepoolsday – 20th January.

UPDATE: I had heard that the owner had moved into taxis, but had no confirmation of that, until now – the owner of the Cafe India page has changed it to “Taxi Shahan”. I guess this means it won’t be coming back.

To the ones we’ve lost in 2017…

2017 has seen a lot of change. Normally, I’d do a review of the year, month by month, but seeing as the entire time between August and mid-December was lost to a foot problem, I don’t think there’s much point. Instead I’ll look back at some of the things that were around at the start of the year, but have now been confined to history.

First off, we’ll start off with a sad personal one of mine…

I found it too difficult to post about on here at the time, so I didn’t, but back in the summer, we lost Sam, or Samson go give him his full name. On the 19th July at the ripe old age of 18, he made his final journey “up the coast road”, to join his sister in Doggy Heaven, where she can once again try to mount him, and they can both hide rotting bits of meat under the sofa for the rest of eternity, and he can lie at the top of the stairs leading to the pearly…. dogflaps (?!), and wait for someone to trip over him in the dark. Six months have passed, and I still instinctively pause at the top of the stairs to make sure I’m not going to step on him!

BATCHELOR’S MILD CURRY SAVOURY RICE

I had intended to write a blog post addressing my dismay at the discontinuation of Mild Curry Savoury Rice, to be replaced with “Super Rice”, but I never got round to it. Although the two look very similar, to me, there was a world of difference.

I have been a fan of the Savoury Rice variety for as long as I can remember. In fact, here’s a photo of me, at Sandy Bay, demolishing a bowl of the afore-mentioned rice-based snack…

Judging by the look on my face, you can tell I was enjoying it. Or maybe I just looked that way as a kid, who knows. Anyway, this remained in the very small repertoire of foods I’d actually eat as a kid.It survived with me, throughout my teens, 20s, into my 30s. OK, there’d be times where I wouldn’t have it for months, even years, but at the back of my mind, it’d be there.

Unfortunately, it was a recipe that “Bachelors” tampered with from time to time, making a pouched “microwaveable” version, for example. These didn’t last long, and eventually went back to the dehydrated backet variety.

Fast forward a few years, and I noticed they’d changed the branding. It was now “Mild Curry Super Rice”, and instead of taking 15-20 minutes to cook, it took 5 minutes. Well, I’d be interested to see what it was like. Aaaaaaaaand, I hated it. The newly formed rice was stodgy, the flavouring stuck to the side of the pan and turned black. It was overall, a disappointing mush, and it contained the scourge of all these types of products… dried peas. Every time I see then I just have to ask why they even exist.

It turns out miracles happened, and I found a shop in the town centre that still stocked the “Savoury Rice” variety. It was still the old recipe. Longer cooking times, no dried peas. A tear of happiness rolled down my cheek. This remained the case for a good few months. Both varieties lived their separate lives.

Then, my foot happened, and I was unable to attend the town centre for a couple of months. I went to stock up, only to find… yes, you’ve guessed it… “Mild Curry Super Rice”. I fell to my knees, clutching my head. A part of me had died. A huge part of my culinary life was at an end. I hadn’t been this devastated since Birds Eye discontinued their “Boil In the Bag” curries some time in the mid 2000s.

All is not lost, however. There appears to be another change to the recipe, and dare I say, it’s “acceptable”. The rice isn’t at bad, and the flavour is adequate. If you put those two packets together though, you’ll notice the values in the health thing are different. Changed recipe, or smaller packet? I shall investigate further.

THE APPRENTICE

If, for some reason you haven’t watched it and intend to, then skip this secion as there’ll be spoilers.

Wow, what was that all about? This was by far the worst series I’ve seen it. Normally there’d be some people who you want to see do well, but no, not this year. I hated all of them. And then, that end? Both of them got the bloody money. A grand anti-climax to an utterly depressing 12 weeks of television. After this years’ disappointing show, I’d be interested to see if they completely reshuffle the way the show works, or even abandon it completely. Either way, I’m not sure I’ll bother watching.

I’d attempted to write more on this, but everything I typed just turned into a long, rambling post about nothing, so I’ll just leave with wishing you all the best for the last day of 2017, and if you have a birthday in 2018, then have a happy return.

See you in 2018!

Nottingham! It’s in Nottinghamshire! (Part 1)

So, the world and his dog can’t have failed to notice I’ve been out of Hartlepoolland for a few days. I wasn’t meant to be going until a couple of weeks ago, as Daddykins was meant to be going, but he dropped out at the last moment. There was a group of us who attended, 15 in all – members of the club I attend on a Tuesday night (when I’m not at Employment Palace).

I got a taxi at 8AM, picking Chris up on the way (he’s also one of the 15 members), dropping us off at the bus stop outside of the college at about 8:10. The coach wasn’t due until 8:30.

At approximately 8:45, the coach finally turned up. We boarded, and headed off around the North East, picking up other eager tourists ready for the trip. As soon as the last one got one board, the driver finally introduced himself via the microphone. After the formalities were dealt with, he said something like “So, you’re off to Nottingham… may I ask… why?”

I can’t remember his name, but he shall, from now on, he known as “Happy Harry”. Considering we were only technically there for a night and a full day, it wasn’t exactly heartwarming to have a bus driven by a cynic…

He announced there would be a stop-off in Derby. I won’t bore you with the details of the journey there (or how Chris almost got charged £89 for a bottle of drink, two sausage rolls and a copy of Viz), as most of it was spent, drifting out of consciousness whilst chuckling at the articles in Chris’s afore-mentioned adult comic.

So, we approached Derby. Imagine the scene, as we head along the road, only to be faced with red traffic lights, and a bloke peering out of his flat, stark bollock naked. I don’t think he quite planned to be waved at by a group of “tourists” laughing their heads off. Of course, he backed away pretty sheepishly after this. Classy, Derby. Very classy.

Of course, Happy Harry then managed to take a wrong turning, meaning we got to see more of the centre of Derby than we needed to. He then dropped us off at what appeared to be a random bus stop, and said he would pick us up there. You want to know how random the bus stop was? Here you go… Linkage

Hardly suitable for buses, never mind coaches. It’s pointing at the Babington Arms, which is a pub, just in case you’re thick and didn’t realise it from that link. Either way, it would appear that not only did we have a cynic driving the bus, it was a cynic with no sense of direction. Joy.

It was a Wetherspoons, so you know what to expect. It was also the place where the first photo of me got taken, shamelessly stolen from Facebook…

After two hours we were all ready to go and get set up at the hotel. Happy Harry had other ideas, as we arrived in Nottingham, circled the hotel, and then went in completely the wrong direction to find the entrance. His apology once again, came over the coach tannoy system… “What a bloody stupid place to put a hotel”…

After what seemed like an eternity sorting out the keycards, we made our way up to the hotel room. Thanks to some name juggling, according to their system I was called Barry. It shall stay this way for the entire time I was there.

Upon first impression, the room was excellent. 7th floor, two double beds. It even had two bathrooms which means two toilets. Therefore, any outfall caused by excessive vindaloo consumption could be kept to a bare minimum. Bonus. I recorded another stupid “wish You Were Here” style video, but it needs editing badly. The view wasn’t the best. A call centre (complete with Aspect telephones) to the left, a car park to the centre, and other modern buildings to the right…

5937551019_4e1801c2c7_o

After dumping the bags, and getting a bit of a cleanup, we headed off looking for a bite to eat. Close friends and relatives will know that I scoured Google Maps to see if there was an indian nearby. Not one, not two. Not even four. there were SIX within spitting distance of the hotel. Unfortunately, most were expensive, and were shut. We were inspecting the menu of one of the couple of open ones, a place called “Chutney”. One of the waiters came out and thrust a 20% voucher into my paw. This was looking tempting. Actually, I lie. With that little piece of paper in my hand, my mind was already made up…

We went there!

It was exceptional. Food was great, staff were friendly and yeah, the discount stuck. Happy days.

The same, however, can’t be said for the hotel bar. The Blackpool trip featured entertainment in a root big enough to be used as a conference centre. Fair enough, it wasn’t top notch entertainment, but it kept us sane, and the beer was acceptable for hotel standards.

That was Blackpool. This hotel’s night facilities consisted of a tiny room, Entertainment came in the form of (wait for it) 6 games of bingo, should you choose to pay for it. If you didn’t, you just had to sit there and drink your “free bar”. That is, if you like watered down beer. I had a bit of toothache, and was on a full stomach, so I thought it was just me who thought it was as weak as kittens. Thankfully it wasn’t.

Disappointed with the free bar, we headed out into the city, eventually settling in the Roebuck Inn. It seemed pretty quiet, and that name “Wetherspoons” cropped up again. I introduced Chris to Jaegerbombs, which he didn’t enjoy. He introduced me to something stunning. Don’t ask me what they call it. It was apple juice and some newly available cinnamon liqueur. I DID enjoy this. I have no idea how he found it, but he knows of my love for apple and cinnamon. Therefore, the two combined in some kind of alcoholic beverage was out of this world. Towards the end of the night I remember having a good crack on with the bar staff. It was this place that made me really begin to like Nottingham.

Day 2 was only a sleep away…