A North East Food, Men's Lifestyle and Entertainment Blog

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Porterhouse Butcher and Grill at Fenwick Foodhall

A few months ago I was a little bit sad as I found out that Ko Sai at Fenwick Food Hall was closing down. I loved the little Thai street food place and had been many times, but I need not have worried as it has been replaced by something rather special.
Credit: Porterhouse Butcher and Grill
Porterhouse Butcher and Grill is an amazing little gem in the centre of Newcastle. It's part of Fenwick Foodhall so there is a proper butcher shop where you can get all the quality meat you want (I'll come back the meat in a bit). There is also a Bar and a seated restaurant, The restaurant serves meat straight from the butchers counter and as their website says Porterhouse has a philosophy of "We cook what we sell, we sell what we cook". I love this kind of of ethos from a restaurant and you really get the impression that everyone there is really passionate about the quality of their produce.

Anyway, back to the meat. The butchers counter is fully stocked with all the cuts you could possibly want. We didn't buy anything from the counter this time (we were just there for lunch), but I will definitely be going back next time I'm in town. The menu focuses on a few Steak dishes but also has a wide selection of other mains, small plates and a raw/cured selection. The menu changes on a regular basis so keep checking their website for the latest update.

All of the steak dishes come with a side of fries and and a selection of mustard and bearnaise sauce. The chips were incredible and had a real meaty flavour, I assume there were cooked in beef dripping (it makes all the difference).

All the steaks are cooked medium but you can ask for it to be cooked to your liking (please don't ask for well done, I would be disappointed in you if you did). Mrs Cool loves a bit of meat and she went for the Sirloin Steak.

I love an egg when I have a steak so when I saw the Minute Steak with two Fried Hens Eggs on the menu I knew I had to have it. The Steak was perfection and the eggs had runny yolks (always a must) and mine came served with HP sauce.

I you're a meat lover you have to try this place. The food is amazing and the price isn't too bad either. We had two steak mains with chips and two bottles of Coca-Cola and it came to £46 including tip.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Thursday, 14 September 2017

5 Things that happen when you and your partner both work from home



Working from home can be great, you don't have the rush hour commute to work, you can take a break whenever you want and you choose your office environment such as furniture and decoration. It’s not all sunshine and roses though, especially when both you and your partner use the house as your office. Living and working in close proximity can lead to disagreements from time to time. I’ve compiled a list of the top five things that Mrs Cool and I are most likely to lock horns about:

1. One person is always tasked with making the coffee. 



I’m a recent convert to coffee but I am a bit of a coffee snob and my preferred drink is an Espresso. I enjoy them so much I decided to get myself an Espresso machine a few months ago. Mrs Cool is happy to have instant coffee (although she only likes the expensive kind) but she prefers an Americano. Our machine isn’t hard to use and can easily make an Espresso and an Americano at the same time but it seems to be beyond Mrs Cool as it’s always Muggins here who has to make the coffee.

2. Someone always hogs the office desk 



Mrs Cool started working from home long before I did and it was Sam who decided to get an office desk. However now we both often work from home there can be a bit of a race to get set up at the desk first. I often lose this race and am relegated to the dining table, I think it won't be long until I get my own desk and I have my eye on a few here.

3. You can never decide what music to listen to

Me and Mrs Cool have very contrasting taste in music. Sam likes acts like Girls Aloud, Sia and Rhianna where as I like The Rolling Stones, AC/DC and Oasis. This is one area where I usually get my own way. I have a subscription to Apple Music so can stream all the music I want, I am a nice guy though and I will sometimes let Mrs Cool pick a playlist.

4. The WiFi always gets clogged up

If you both work online you must invest in good home broadband. We used to get frustrated by our WiFi and there is nothing worse than trying to upload a video or blog post when your WiFi signal freezes due to your other half using up all the bandwidth. This is not so much of a problem anymore as we upgraded to Fibre Broadband and most providers will have unlimited packages. I would advise you to get it as it is a godsend. It also helps when work is done for the day and you want to watch the latest season of Narcos on Netflix while the kids are on YouTube or playing on Xbox with their mates. 

5. You can never agree on the right temperature

This one causes the most arguments in our house as me and Mrs Cool are polar opposites when it comes to a comfortable temperature. Mrs Cool is always turning the heating on and is happy to sit in sauna like temperatures and I am always too hot and have been known to have a window open even when there has been snow lying on the ground outside.

Do you work from home with your partner? What do disagree about? 

Well, that’s all for now.

S



*This is a collaborative post.
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Monday, 4 September 2017

Monday Munchies: Death by Chocolate Orange Cake


I like to think of myself as a good cook but I very rarely bake. I make the odd pie now and then but I've never made a cake. With the return of Great British Bake Off, I really like the new series by the way (anything with Noel Fielding is a winner for me), I decided to challenge myself to bake a cake and I roped the kids in to help.

I scoured our many cook books to find some inspiration and settled on Death by Chocolate Cake from Mary Berry's Baking Bible. I didn't follow the recipe exactly as I wanted to put my own spin on it.



Ingredients:

For the Cake:

275g plain flour
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1½ level tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ level tsp baking powder
215g caster sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
3 large eggs, beaten
225ml sunflower oil
225ml milk
1 small capful of orange extract

For the Icing:

225g Terry's chocolate orange
225g Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate
200g unsalted butter

To Finish:

1 Terry's Chocolate Orange, separated into segments



Method:

Start by pre-heating your oven to 160°C (140°C Fan). Grease two 20cm cake tins with butter and line the bottom with greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a mixing bowl and then add the caster sugar. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the golden syrup, milk, oil and eggs then mix until smooth. Mary Berry says to mix with a wooden spoon but that seemed like a right faff. I have a food mixer and it only took a couple of minutes using a silicone creaming beater, it worked a treat and saved a lot of hard work (I'm all about skipping hard work).


Pour the cake mix evenly between the 2 cake tins and bake for 35 minutes or until you can insert a wooden skewer into the centre of the cake and it comes out clean. Turn out the cakes and leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the icing.


Melt the chocolate, Mary Berry says to break the chocolate into pieces and put into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, again I found a shortcut by putting the chunks of chocolate into a Pyrex jug and microwaving it for 20 seconds at a time until it was melted. Once the chunks are all melted add the butter and stir until it's all mixed.


Once the cakes are cool, pour a third of the icing onto the first cake and spread it evenly. Add half the Chocolate Orange segments around the edge to decorate. Place the second cake on top and then pour the remaining icing on top and smooth it over the top and sides with a palette knife (I was a bit rubbish at the sides but it was still ok) then add the remaining Chocolate Orange segments around the edge.


Baking a cake was a lot easier than I was expecting it to be so I think I'll be trying a few more in the future.

Well, that's all for now.

S


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Monday, 24 July 2017

Tapas at home Inspired by La Casa Delicatessen


Let me tell you abut a little place I have fallen in love with. La Casa Delicatessen in the Grainger Market in Newcastle is somewhere I didn't know existed until a couple of months ago. Already it is my favourite place to pick up any Spanish food I'm in the mood for. The guy who works there is great (I should really ask his name next time I'm there), he is so friendly and really passionate about the produce they sell and that sort of service really stands out for me. The first time we went we tried a selection of Manchego that had been cured in various ways. One with beer, one with chilli and one with brandy. All were delicious and we left with a little wedge of the brandy cured Manchego and a small pack of sliced chorizo. We promised ourselves the next time we have tapas night at home (which we do every few months) we would go back and stock up on supplies.

A couple of weeks ago it was time for our next Tapas night, I did make a couple of dishes from scratch just with store cupboard ingredients. I made some quick garlic bread, which is just toasted bread drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with garlic granules (so easy but really tasty). I also made Patatas Bravas by cutting a couple of potatoes into cubes and frying them in olive oil with some rosemary sprigs. The Bravas sauce I make uses passata heated with some chopped garlic, paprika, chilli powder, salt and pepper. Put the potatoes into a bowl and spoon over the sauce and finish with a few teaspoonfuls of Garlic mayo dotted on top. Now onto the produce we got from La Casa.

Serrano Ham


Charcuterie is a big favourite in our house and for me cured ham is King. The Charcuterie selection at La Casa is vast and there is everything from Lomo Ham, Cecina Smoked Beef and Iberico Ham. We went for the Serrano Ham and weren't disappointed, the meaty slices were perfect, just enough fat to enhance the flavour and very moreish (why do we always buy too little?)

Chorizo


As I said Charcuterie is a big deal to us and Mrs. Cool's preference is Chorizo. There are numerous options available from slices of Chorizo to whole sausages. We went for these little links which I fried in olive oil. The Chorizo was to die for and the oil was great for dipping the garlic bread into.

Manchego Cured in Brandy


The Cheese, My God! The Cheese. Where do I begin with this cheese? This cheese is what brought us back to La Casa and it will be brining us back again. I can honestly say this is the best cheese I have EVER had. Not only is the flavour on the Manchego great but the subtle brandy taste really elevates it to something exquisite. This stuff is like crack, once you have a taste you want more and more and more. I really need to have some more right now. I'm having withdrawls.

Wine


You can't have Meat and Cheese without having Wine, It's the Law! The wine selection is huge and we went for this lovely Rioja. I'm not usually a fan of Rioja but as it was a Spanish tapas night we couldn't really have a Sancerre or a Merlot. It was outstanding and really went perfectly with all our dishes.

It amazes me that this little nook in the Grainger Market is so packed full of amazing produce, I can't sing the praises of La Casa highly enough, I really love this place and hope you will to. If you would like to find out more you can visit their website here and you can follow them on Twitter here.

Well, that's all for now

S

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Thursday, 20 July 2017

How one DIY job turned into a room makeover

I like to think I'm pretty good at DIY, nothing too adventurous but if there is a little job to be done I'm all over it. A while ago our toilet was damaged and we needed a new one, I decided replacing the toilet was too much for me so hired someone else to do it. However, after the new toilet was in it left a gap in the flooring around the toilet as the new one was a different shape to the old one. EASY! I thought, it's only lino. I can pick up a little bit of lino that matches and patch it up. But this one small job turned into a much bigger job, which then turned into several jobs, which then snowballed into a makeover of the whole room.


When I got to the local DIY Superstore there was a lino that matched ours, Huzzah! I thought this will be a doddle, however I had brought Mrs. Cool with me (that was my first mistake) and she noticed another lino with a wood design that she liked better than ours. If i'm honest I didn't like our old lino, it was already down when we moved in and had probably been there for years so I agreed that instead of patching up the old lino I would rip out a the old one and lay down the nice new one.


We also had a little damage to the bath panel so as we were looking around we decided to get a new bath panel. Oh! well, while I'm on I might as well re-do the sealant around the bath as it was a bit discoloured (what am I doing giving myself more work). On the way home Mrs Cool chirps up saying the towels, bath mat and shower curtain we have won't match the new floor. Great! more expenditure, We headed to another couple of shops to look at accessories. As well as the already agreed upon towels and bath mat etc we also ended up getting new storage baskets, a mirror, a candle, bin, toilet brush and a bath tidy! It was at this point that I realised Mrs. Cool was actually Carole Smillie and I had wandered into an episode of Changing Rooms.

Luckily (or unluckily however you want to look at it) our bathroom is quite small so the lino was surprisingly easy to change over, the old one came up really easily and I was able to use that as a rough template to cut the new one to size. I laid the new one down and used a stanley knife to cut it to fit around the fixtures. The bath panel was the hardest part, this as due to the shape of the bathroom I needed to cut a small section off the panel so that it would fit. But this was an excuse to get a new hack saw (all boys love using a saw right?).


Using white spirit I was able to remove the old sealant, I may have used too much white spirit as the fumes were a bit strong, I would suggest keeping the door and window open if you're planning on doing this to avoid getting lightheaded. Putting the new sealant down was a bit messy but I had the foresight to wear disposable rubber gloves so my hands didn't get covered.


That was all the big jobs done and all that was left was to put the accessories in place. The whole job only took a few hours (not including the time spent shopping for all the stuff, that took longer) and it only cost around £300 (including getting the new toilet fitted) which I think was bit of a bargain. I'm very happy with the finished room and more importantly Mrs. Cool was really pleased with how this project worked out.


Mrs. Cool did a little video tour of the new bathroom and you can see it here.



The problem I now have is that the bathroom is now putting the rest of our house to shame. We have plans to redesign our living room and we've already bought some a new coffee table and TV stand as well as some new art but we have more to do in the next few months.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Monday, 10 July 2017

Game of Thrones: Top 10* Episodes (*actually 11 episodes)


The TV Phenomenon of recent years has been Game of Thrones. The HBO series based on the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin has had viewers on the edge of their seats and critics running out of superlatives to describe how good it is. Even if you're not a fan of the fantasy genre you’ll still get drawn into the intrigue and betrayal that occurs in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. But, who am I kidding, everyone is a fan of Game of Thrones, right? I’ve been watching since it started and after a few seasons I managed to get Mrs Cool to watch too (which was a great excuse to watch the whole thing again). Here are my top 11 episodes (I couldn't narrow it down to just 10) from the 1st 6 seasons if you haven’t seen these yet do not continue as what follows contains a LOT of spoilers!

11 - Dance of Dragons - Season 5 Episode 9

There are two reasons why this makes it into the top 11, two unforgettable scenes. The 1st is a scene where Stannis Baratheon sacrifices his only child to the Lord of Light. This is one of the most shocking scenes in all of Game of Thrones and it gets uncomfortable to watch as the child Princess is dragged from her room and tied to a stake and then the Red Woman, Melisandre, lights the flames. The Princess Shireen’s screams as her father watches on are truly horrific. The 2nd scene is the final scene where Daenerys Targaryen has opened an arena to host bloody death matches when a revolution breaks out with masked assassins all over the arena killing as many people as they can and while Daario Naharis, Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm and even Tyrion Lannister try to save the Queen (Mrs. Cool mentioned that the thing she likes about Tyrion is that he is ready to fight when he has to). All looks doomed as they are trapped and surrounded on the arena floor when a screech echoes above the arena as, Drogon, one of Daenerys’ dragons returns to save the day and the Mother of Dragons leaves in impressive fashion on the back of Drogon.

10 - Two Sword - Season 4 Episode 1

This episode introduces one of my favourite characters, Oberyn Martell, he has come to Kings Landing for Joffrey’s wedding (but is really seeking revenge for the murder of his sister and niece and nephew). However the main reason why I like this episode is it’s when Arya Stark shows how much of a badass she is. Arya is with ‘The Hound’ Sandor Clegane and they find an Inn where some Lannister soldiers (one of which Arya recognises as Polliver the man who killed her friend and took her sword). They go into the inn and all starts well as they have a drink but then when The Hound insults the King all hell breaks loose. The Hound kills several of the soldiers but its is Arya who incapacitates Polliver before coldly reciting what he said when he killed her friend before taking her sword back and stabbing him through the throat. 

9 - Baelor - Season 1 Episode 9

Ned Stark is in jail accused of treachery and his son Robb Stark is heading south with an army of Northmen to depose the King. Robb needs to make a strategic crossing of the Trident River and in doing so sets in motion events that will eventually lead to the Red Wedding (see the Rains of Castamere below). Now before Game of Thrones started all the promotional hype and build up was around Sean Bean playing Ned Stark but here before the first season has even finished one of the main characters (and arguably the star of the show) is beheaded. This sets the tone for the entire series that no one is safe.

8 - The Laws of Gods and Men - Season 4 Episode 6

Tyrion Lannister is one of my favourite characters and this is a great Tyrion episode. He is on trial for the assassination of King Joffrey. Everyone is trying to stitch him up from his sister Cersei to Maester Pycell. Tyrions brother Jamie is the only one looking out for him and makes a deal with their father to spare Tyrions life but realises too late that this whole trial is a plot by Tywin to get Jamie to resume his role as Heir to the Lannister fortune. However when Tyrion is betrayed by the woman he loved, Shae, he gives a brilliant enraged speech to the court and demands a trial by combat, denying his father a victory in the process.

7 - The Mountain and the Viper - Season 4 Episode 8

A lot happens in this episode but the reason why it features on this list is down to the last 10 minutes. As the culmination of Tyrions trial ends with the trial by combat between ‘The Mountain’ Gregor Clagane and ‘The Viper’ Oberyn Martell. This is probably the best one on one fight in all of Game of Thrones and it leads to without a doubt the most gruesome death in the whole series.

6 - The Lion and The Rose - Season 4 Episode 2

For the most part Game of Thrones seems to be series of horrific events where the worst people imaginable get their own way, but every now and then you get an episode like this. For all of seasons 1, 2 and 3 Joffrey Baratheon has been an evil,  sadistic, nasty piece of shit and at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell he finally gets his comeuppance. Drinking poisoned wine he suffers a slow agonising death.

5 - Blackwater - Season 2 Episode 9 

This is another great episode for Tyrion Lannister, Kings Landing is under siege, Stannis Baratheon’s fleet is approaching, but Tyrion has a plan. He sends a single ship loaded with Wildfire into the heart of Stannis’ fleet and sets off a spectacular explosion that decimates the fleet. Stannis' forces still attack the city and as Joffrey retreats to his chambers it is down to a rousing speech from Tyrion to motivate the soldiers. In the end his victory is stolen by his father who brings the Tyrell army to repel the last of Stannis’ troops.

4 - Hardhome - Season 5 Episode 8

There is a lot going on, Tyrion is trying to persuade Daenerys not to kill him, Arya is still training with Jaqen H’ghar and Cersei is in jail. But this episode is all about Jon Snow, north of the wall trying to form an alliance with the wildlings at Hardhome. Then they are attacked by the White Walkers and an army of the dead. The battle that ensues shows just how powerful the White Walkers are and especially their leader the Night King.

3 - The Watchers on the Wall - Season 4 Episode 9

This is just about the most epic piece of television ever made. Mance Rayder's Wildling army attack Castle Black from north and south of The Wall and the Nights Watch must defend it. Jon Snow steps up to lead the Nights Watch when no one else seems capable, He is reunited with his true love Ygritte only for her to die in his arms after being shot with an arrow. The scale of this episode easily rivals most blockbuster movies and the action is incredible. This is as close to TV perfection as you can get.

2 - The Winds of Winter - Season 6 Episode 10

The good guys seem to be getting what they want in the episode. Arya Stark gets revenge on Walder Frey, Tyrion Lannister is named hand of the Queen, Daenerys Targaryen and her army sets sail with her dragons headed for Westeros and Jon Snow's true lineage is revealed and he is named King in the North. But Cersei is the real winner, she arranges the murders of Grand Maester Pycell and Lancel Lanniser. She misses her trial and blows up the Great Sept of Baelor so she can get rid of Margaery Tyrell, The High Sparrow and anyone who wanted to see her fall. Her only remaining child (the King Tommen does kill himself however, but Cersei is unltimately named Queen. It plays out like the final act of The Godfather when Michael Corleone kills all of his enemies and becomes Godfather.

1 - The Rains of Castamere - Season 3 Episode 9


The Red Wedding - what more can I say. When you watch this episode for the first time it's like a punch to the gut. Robb Stark tries to make piece for breaking his oath to Walder Frey but is betrayed and slaughtered along with his men, his mother, his wife and unborn child during a bloodbath that seems to go on forever. When I first watched this episode I sat in silence for a few minutes after it finished so I could process what I had just seen. The most shocking episode in the entire series.

There's not long until the new season starts and I can hardly wait. Do you agree with my list? Are there any episodes you would've included in the top 11?

Valar Morghulis

S




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Monday, 3 July 2017

Little Turtle Smoothie


A few weeks ago we went to Turtle Bay, which is a Caribbean restaurant in Newcastle. We have been a few times and you can read Mrs. Cool's review here (including their new children's menu). The food here is incredible (I highly recommend the Bajan Beef Cheek Curry). When we went this time Harry noticed on the kid's menu there was a recipe for a smoothie that he wanted to try at home so I thought I'd share it with you.


Ingredients:

1 medium sized banana
2 pineapple rings
100ml of pineapple or apple juice
5 ice cubes
1 tsp honey

Method:

These ingredients will make 1 smoothie and it is so easy to make. Just chop the banana and pineapple rings into chunks. put all of the ingredients into a blender and blitz for around 45 seconds until smooth.


My kids loved making this themselves, although, if you have younger kids you should maybe chop the fruit yourselves. We made enough for everyone and everyone loved it.


If you're looking to make a more grown up drink all you need to do is add a likl tickle of Rum when you blitz it up.

Well, that's all for now.

S

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Monday Munchies: Sushi Arancini


A few weeks ago I posted about using Sushi ingredients to give your BBQ Japanese Zing. Well I had some ingredients left over so decided to try and come up with something to use them. I had plenty rice and panko breadcrumbs as well as loads of sauces so decided to make Sushi Arancini with Teriyaki and Soy dipping sauces.

How to make Sushi Arancini

Ingredients:

Sushi rice
Enough Panko breadcrumbs to coat however many rice balls make
1 beaten Egg
Plain flour
Vegetable oil
Rice vinegar
Sugar
Salt
soy sauce

(You will also need a deep fat fryer)

Method:

1 - Wash the rice 3 or 4 times in cold water. drain the rice in a sieve and then add to a saucepan with 330 ml of water and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 mins with a lid on and the turn the heat off and leave for 30 mins.

2 - Once the rice has cooled mix the rice vinegar, sugar and salt and the fold this into the rice. The rice should be sticky by now but I still found it hard to form into balls so in the end I used a Nigiri mould. 

3 - Fill the fryer with vegetable oil and turn on the the required temp, leave it to heat up (but don't leave it unattended).
 In separate bowls put the flour, a beaten egg and the Panko breadcrumbs.

4 - Coat the rice first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Once the oil is hot enough put 2 or 3 rice balls in the oil and fry for a few minutes (occasionally turning them) until the  bread crumbs are golden. Remove from the oil and leave for a few mins on some kitchen roll.


How to make Sushi Arancini

I made far too much rice so I also knocked up some Maki rolls (as I also had some Nori sheets in my cupboard). I just marinaded some chicken mini fillets in Teriyaki sauce and then fried them. Spread some rice on the Nori sheet, add the chicken on top and roll up the sheet. Cut into 2cm segments. The dipping sauces I had were Teriyaki sauce and Soy sauce.


Find out how to make sushi at home with the kids here and don't forget to follow Big Stevie Cool on Instagram for lots of foodie pics. 


Follow Big Stevie Cool on Instagram here



Well, that's all for now.

S


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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Rockliffe Hall: A Spa day from a man's perspective

I like to think that I'm a pretty chilled out dude. But every now and then even I need time to relax and recently Mrs. Cool told me we were having a day at Rockliffe Hall, a five star luxury hotel, spa and golf course in Darlington, County Durham. Spa days are not what most blokes think of when looking for something to do to relax but I love them. Having three kids aged 10 and under there times when I just need some quiet time and a spa day if perfect for that.


We arrived at around 10am and I was immediately impressed by the grounds, we headed to reception and checked in. We were taken to the dining area as brunch was served before we went to the spa. I was expecting the brunch to be a buffet or continental style but boy was I wrong. The menu is extensive, with sausage or bacon sandwiches, full english and various egg dishes as well as a selection of pastries. I went for the Eggs Benedict (my favourite) and Mrs Cool had a Bacon Sandwich and we shared some Croissant and Pain aux Raisin and all were delicious.


When we were finished our Brunch we headed to the locker rooms to get changed. You enter the Spa from the locker room into the Pool. The Pool is a decent size and has several loungers around the edge, you can have complimentary water (and flavoured water, the choice on the day were were there was ginger and honey) there is also a bar here where you can buy other drinks.


I swam a few lengths of the pool while Mrs. Cool perused the latest copy of Cosmopolitan and then we decided to take advantage of the Garden as it was an unexpectedly sunny day. We sipped our water and I had a leaf through GQ (and obviously wanted to buy everything that was out of my price range) and then we had a dip in the hot tub.


Adjacent to the Pool is a hydro pool which has several massage stations and water jets, there was also a foot spa here where you can alternate soaking your feet in hot and cold water. Mrs. Cool enjoyed the Tepidarium which was a hot room with heated tile beds for you to lie on. Next was my favourite part of the day, at either side of the foot spa is the Igloo and the Sauna. The idea is to alternate between the two, we went into the Igloo first and it was as cold as you would expect, there is an ice fountain where you rub ice all over your body and then you head over to the sauna for 10 minutes and then repeat the process 2 more times. Alternating between hot and cold was very invigorating, Mrs. Cool doesn't really like the cold but I loved this part of the day. Next up was a steam room called the Caldarium and then we went back to the sauna one for time before it was time to leave.

After getting changed and collecting my things I was amazed by a handy little gadget in the locker room for drying your trunks. I just popped my wet trunks in the machine held down the lid and minute later my trunks were dry and ready to go straight in my bag. I love a little bit of tech.

Well, That's all for now.

S

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Wonder Woman: A Review


I have long been a defender of the DC Cinematic Universe. I argued here that Batman Vs Superman was both the 3rd best Batman movie and the 3rd best Superman movie. I also stated here that although Suicide Squad wasn't going to win any awards, it was still the type of fun, stupid movie that you need every now and then. But it looked like I was alone in my praise for the DC franchise. That was until a raven haired Amazon from the Island of Themyscira stepped onto the scene in Wonder Woman. It's been a hit at the box office and critics and fans have agreed this film is a real winner (which DC have needed after the negative response to the last two films).


Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is Diana, Princess of Themyscira, The film starts with Diana as a young girl living a blissful life on Thmyscira but dreaming of being a warrior like her mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and aunt Antiope (Robin Wright). Her mother doesn't want her to train to be a warrior but her aunt secretly trains her anyway, eventually becoming the greatest warrior of all. But she's never faced a real enemy before so how can she really be a warrior? Well that all changes when a plane crashes into the sea. She rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), he is followed by German bad guys who proceed to storm the beach of Themyscira but are eventually defeated by Diana and the Amazons. Steve then explains (while being interrogated with a magic lasso thing) that he is a spy and that the whole world is at war so Diana decides to go back with him as she believes that Ares, The god of war, has returned and it is the Amazons sole purpose to defeat Ares.

Steve has nicked notebook of secret naughty shit from more German bad guys and needs to get it back to London. The main antagonists are Dr. Maru (with the supervillain nickname Dr. Poison) and General Ludendorff a German Officer who is working with Dr. Poison. If I'm honest the baddies are a bit of a let down in the film. They are pretty generic (although Dr. Poison does have a gnarly disfigured face/mask thing going on) their plan is to release a new type of mustard gas, like I said pretty generic.

Back in London Steve and Diana head to British Intelligence to drop of the notebook and they meet Sir Patrick Morgan (David Thewlis) who comes across as a pacifist and is trying to broker an armistice. They also meet up with Steve's secretary Etta (who I only just realised is played by Lucy Davis while I write this), Etta provides some comic relief as she tries to get Diana to fit in with the London dress code. They soon recruit some more help with Charlie (Ewan Bremner) who is a sharpshooter, The Chief (Eugene Brave Rock) is a smuggler and Sameer (Said Taghmaoui) is a conman/actor who also provides some lighter moments. The group head into German occupied Belgium to stop the baddies.

Diana is convinced that Ludendorff is Ares and is determined to confront him. While Steve wants to stop Dr. Poison and destroy the gas. The final act does lose it's way a bit and there is a twist that I saw coming a mile away but Mrs. Cool and the kids weren't expecting. The final battle is impressive and Wonder Woman will obviously play a pivotal role in Justice League.


As a Dad of a little girl I'm so happy that there are starting to be some female role models in film for her to look up to and feel empowered by, but it's not just for girls me and the boys both really enjoyed the film too, I'm looking forward to the future of DC. With more superheroines like Captain Marvel, The Wasp and Batgirl appearing as main characters or in their own movies over the next few years female characters are set to get a strong push for the first time ever and this is what we've needed for a long time.

Well, that's all for now.

S



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