The Bathers gig in London, 16 October 2016

Chris Thomson playing keyboards

It's been a while since I have been to an music concert, a gig, as opposed to seeing music in a pub. I think the last one was Coldplay at Crystal Palace, which took hours to painfully get out of. I also remember a dodgy Simply Red one as well, but best forgotten.

You probably haven't heard of The Bathers, as not many have given that they are often quoted as the Scottish band that is one of Scotland's best kept secret and never got the recognition they deserved. Did you know the singer Chris Thomson also teamed up with two of the Commotions, of the Lloyd Cole fame, and produced an epic album called Fortuny under the name of Bloomsday?

He first came to the fore as the singer of a band called Friends Again, from which members also popped up in Love and Money, and Texas. It was when I was 16-18 at school in the 6th form that I first heard the band's music. It followed me as one of the soundtracks of adulthood, along with the music of David Sylvian, and coincidentally the keyboard player Paul McGeehan has released an album called Starless that name checks David Sylvian in its sleeve notes. The maturity of the Bathers' music followed me into middle age.

Anyway, come October 2016, on a Sunday night in Islington London, I am at the Lexington Pub, which has such a relatively small concert space, to see the Bathers. We were even stood next to Chris Thomson's brother-in-law, who had never seen him sing.

It was a lovely gig, from a very appreciative crowd that ended on two separate encores. They played the old Friends Again track of Honey At The Core for me, and then they came back on to play Girlfriend for Angela. We were both happy and had a great weekend.

Website: The Bathers Official

Twitter: The Bathers Official

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Southbourne Food Assembly

I’ve been using the Southbourne Food Assembly on and off for a couple of months now and have been enjoying the food that has been on sale.

It’s a pretty straightforward concept but I wanted to acknowledge the effort of the organiser, Lyndsey Fisher-Cooke, who set it up, gets local suppliers involved and rounds up the goods in many cases - no mean task in terms of time and energy. You order online during the week and then go along to a local venue to collect your goods on the appointed day, and also have the opportunity to meet with the suppliers that may be there.

Like with anything, it takes effort to gather the momentum of getting both consumers and suppliers on board and then for them to regularly take part so it can live on.

It works for me as I can order a few niche products that I can't readily get on the local high street and at a time that I can make it, as Saturdays I can be away or busy to shop. Needless to say that I do shop local and spend enough money on the high street to negate calls that I am not supporting the local businesses by using this venture.

Read more: Southbourne Food Assembly

Rum tasting at work..., after work...

If you somehow have a strange inclination to read my blog then you might think I do nothing apart from eat and drink all the time. Well, I do work and I thought I would treat the team to one of the things I have been into lately and thus mix rum tasting with work. Well, after work to be precise.

I asked Peter Holland from the Floating Rum Shack if this was something he could do for me and he kindly said yes. If you want to do the same for work or otherwise, then contact him through his website or through Twitter @FloatingRumShac.

I won't go into the gory details as that is a trade secret but suffice to say we got a bit squiffy and the team had their eyes well and truly opened to the world wide range of rums.

You can see the expanse of rums that he brought along that night and my personal favourites I have showcased.

Don't tell Peter but after he left we were mixing up Cachaca and ginger beer because we were thirsty as anything after all that pure spirits.

Bodega in Christchurch


Bodega, a brand new wine bar in Christchurch opened very recently and we've finally been across for a lovely leisurely afternoon sampling a few wines.

It's located on Wick Lane, just a couple of doors from the pub, slightly away from the madding crowd. Not a huge place, but it has a banquette down one side, tables down the other, plus some armchairs and a central long trestle fashioned between two large barrels.

Oh the wines are lovely and go very nicely with a sharing board of cheese and meats.

We had a little session on the Saturday afternoon with some wine and then the Vilarnau Rose Cava, which I would recommend, unless you like overly dry and sharp rose or sickly sweet. This was rounded and so easy to drink. Finished off with a lager before ending up in the Saxon Bear for a real ale.

Christchurch is definitely looking up with these two new beauties, where relaxed drink and conversation is the order of the day and not the thumping music and hustle and bustle.

Do I sound old? Yes, but I'd rather spend my money in places where it's a bit more relaxed and comfortable.

Website: Bodega Wine Bar and Wine Merchant

Action Against Hunger: charity takeover of the Larder House

I've been eating and drinking at the Larder House many many times, but this Friday I got to be part of the kitchen team. This was part of a charity event on behalf of Action Against Hunger. The restaurant invited members of the public and regulars to man the kitchen and front of house, cooking and serving the diners for the evening.

There were one or two actual members of staff on hand to make sure we were safe and nothing would go badly wrong, but in the most part we did all the heating and plating up of the dishes. It was a fantastic experience to be there and a big thank you to Chef Paul for his patience and assistance, and I have to say that Sue Quinn and Peter Foggin did enormously well when it came to using the wood fired oven and managing the pass to get the food sent out as quickly as possible.

Mei Parsons was on the starters and I was on desserts. I think both of us counted ourselves lucky that we were on those stations. I have to say that all I have to do was stick stuff on a plate and the only bit of intricate work was piping the cream. It wasn't until the very last one of the night that I got it down nicely whilst the others looked more like twirrly dog's doo doo.

After service we sat in the back and they held an auction of various prices. By the reckoning the day after, it looked like more than £3000 was raised.

Well done to the people that gave their time to take part and run the restaurant, to the Larder House team in helping, and finally to the customers that came and donated on the night.