Posts Tagged michael grimes

A whole lotta cheese

Well the great cheese Birthday party for Sas and I happened and what a fab night it was.  Many thanks to everyone who came and to Pete Ashton for taking a great set of photos whilst there. Even more thanks to those who brought some cheese to share – I know I asked you to, but I was truly flabbergasted by the amount of cheese that ended up on the big dining room table-come-cheeseboard.

Just some of the cheese at the party

Just some of the cheese at the party

There was cheese of all shapes and sizes – from Midge?s Dairylea triangles to Michael Grimes’ gorgeous Gruyere, from soft to hard, from yellow to blue. As the night drew on and people started leaving I made them take big blocks of cheese home with them, party-bag style, but despite this party-host Carl still ended up with a fridge full to bursting with cheese, which we have been trying to gobble our way through since.

The Gruyere from Michael Grimes was well flavoursome

The Gruyere from Michael Grimes was well flavoursome

Every meal was either cheese based or garnished with a heavy sprinkling of grated cheese. Snacktimes consisted of cheese and crackers. Breaking point came when Carl suggested a night-time snack of cheese on toast. I put the bread under the grill and took out the last piece of leftover Birthday party cheese – an unopened block of strange looking yellow-greeney-blue stuff. As I started slicing it, the cheese just seemed to crumble up. Thinking ?sod it, it needs using up anyhow? I put the whole lot onto the four slices of toast.

Lots of very smelly cheese on toast

Lots of very smelly cheese on toast

I was of the opinion that more is more with cheese but it seems I was wrong – this cheese tasted and smelled like fungal feet and my overly generous helpings did the toast no favours. We only got about halfway through our first slice before chucking the rest away. I never thought I?d be glad to see the back of a fridge full of cheese, but I?m very thankful that was the last of it.

Some of our preserves and pickles

Some of our preserves and pickles

Now Carl and I now find ourselves facing a new challenge – although all of the cheese has gone there?s still plenty of pickles, preserves and other cheese accompaniments people kindly brought along to the party. Thankfully these have a much later use-by date than the cheese did, so there?s no need to gorge on them, but I?m enjoying snacking on pickled gherkins and onions, and starting the day with some gorgeous Raspberry Preserve with Amaretto on my morning crumpets (thanks Nikki Pugh). Nom.


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853's post 'Sorry RSS readers ? blame thieving MyVillage idiots' was pumped straight into

853's post 'Sorry RSS readers...' was pumped straight into

Today I picked up on the above post from 853 blog’s manager Darryl, apologising to his readers for altering his RSS feed and blaming ‘thieving myvillage idiots’:

…unfortunately I?ve had to bring this into place because of abuse of the RSS feed by the MyVillage network of sites, whose rubbish Greenwich site has been pulling in content from 853 to help it attract readers and advertisers under the banner of ?local news?.

William Perrin commented that material (including photographs) had been reused by myvillage from his website without his consent.  A vague bell rang in my head about a myvillage Birmingham, so I searched and lo and behold, there was content (again including photographs) taken from the RSS feed of Digbeth is Good. A quick scan showed me content from Birmingham it’s Not Shit and Created in Birmingham was on there too.

Twitter _ Michael Grimes_

I tweeted my annoyance and quite an interesting discussion ensued, which is in this Storify.  Some creators of the content myvillage uses (like me) were quite annoyed and others such as Michael Grimes felt it might be a fair use of the RSS feeds we’d published.

Twitter _ Stuart Harrison_

Whatever the rights and the wrongs of the argument, myvillage’s creator Roifield Brown’s approach has meant that whilst building what aspires to be a profit-making website he’s angered a lot of the creators of the content he relies upon to populate it – not a good start for a business.  As Stuart Harrison commented there is a better way:

Twitter _ Stuart Harrison_

I emailed Roifield Brown today asking him to remove the Digbeth is Good feed from myvillage, this is the response I received:

Hi Nicky, sorry for the upset that using the first 200 characters from you blog has caused. We have now deleted the feed from publishing on MyVillage. Your blog is an extremely good one and one that I personally read from time to time being a Brummie.

When we started using extracts from blogs last year we emailed the blog owners to ask if this was alright by them. In some cases we did not get a response and we used their blogs. In hindsight this was a mistake, which we will completely correct in the first two weeks of Jan by completing an audit of all rss feeds used. We will ask again if the 200 word characters limit is acceptable before the link back to the article source, if there is a negative answer or no answer we will not use that blog.

Sorry again Nicky.

Rest assured your blog content will not be appearing on any of our sites from here on.

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All work and no play….

Well, it’s been a good long, while, hasn’t it?  I’m not going to do the cliched apologising for the prolonged silence, most people know I’ve been a busy bee.  In early August I left my job with ACE dance and music to join Will Perrin’s talk about local team and spread the hyperlocal love.  And things have been a wonderful whirlwind since then.

But all work and no play makes me really rather dull.  So that’s probably what this blog will start to become – more of a personal place of play.

And I’m going to start off with a game played with Nikki Pugh on her birthday recently.  Nikki decided she wanted to play the game rather than make it for her special day, and who were we to argue?  So after Libby Heighway and Michael Grimes had finished with Nikki in the Nature Centre, they packed her off to me at the graveyard in St Mary’s Church, Moseley.

She found me there waiting with a piece of cake.  It was only after she’d eaten it I told her it wasn’t her cake, but that of the cake-loving ghosts.  So poor Nikki had to find said ghosts going by the clues below and play them a message from their mean Cake Angel.

Can you spot the gravestones of the ghosts in the slideshow?

  1. I rode into heaven on my trusty steed.
  2. Too young to lay anchor, I swam aweigh to sleep with the fishes.
  3. I survived my sister to die on Turkish soil, caught up in the Drama of Dardanelles
  4. John and Jane have flown into heaven, their family’s legacy is yellow and sweet.
  5. So many of us, we caught Bounder’s bus to heaven.

Luckily, Nikki managed to find them all in time to get to The Fighting Cocks and enjoy a cake that did belong to her, a grand Michael Grimes creation of chocolate, jelly babies and liquorish all-sorts.

I got all the gravestone-name gathering with Ben Whitehouse, when we were thinking about a possible Moseley Barcamp thing that didn’t happen.  But it was a great day, mulling over the encryptions and thinking about the stories behind them, and it gave me some inspiration eventually!

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Big City Talk

Before Christmas Birmingham City Council released the Big City Plan, a lengthy consultation document about how Birmingham should be developed over the next twenty years.  The document was also put onto the Big City Plan website for members of the public to comment on.

But there were more than a few problems with it.  The document was not only massive but written in impenetrable management speak, it made me glaze over after a couple  sentences – hardly writings that would capture peoples’ imaginations and motivate responses.  It as also full of unexpanded acronyms and references to other key documents that weren’t explained.  It had weird ‘options’ at the end of each chapter that seemed to be mutually exclusive, ‘pick one’ choices but apparently weren’t.

The Big City Plan’s website initially gave the impression that all comments posted would be  published, but they seemed to think better of that later on, so only a few selected comments were published.  This meant that people had no idea if their comments were being listened to and, more importantly, that no conversation around the document could take place – no-one could react to a point another respondent had made and have a discussion that others could join in with.

The way the consultation was conducted bred a fair bit of cynicism.  I often heard people saying they felt their opinions didn’t matter, that ‘decisions have already been made’.  Some felt it was more of a PR exercise than a genuine consultation and incidents such as missing the promised consultation bus didn’t help. People I spoke to felt alienated rather than engaged – a comment on Digbeth is Good calling it a ‘pointless “consultation” scam’ spoke volumes.  I really don’t believe that was the intention, but I can understand why people felt like that given the flawed way in which things were executed.

The Birmingham blogging community felt that something needed to be done to enable a better understanding of the Big City Plan and an open discussion around it.  A few of them knocked their heads together at the Christmas Birmingham Social Media Cafe and it began to take the shape of Big City Talk – a blog with all the sections as individual posts with a plain English translation alongside.  All comments (within reason) were published so people could discuss other people’s responses and ideas.

When I heard about Big City Talk I thought it made perfect sense and offered to help out.  So, along with Jon Bounds, Nick BoothJulia Gilbert and Michael Grimes I got started on translating sections of the writing into plain English text.  I kept my translations pretty much local, working on the Digbeth, Eastside and Highgate chapters.

It was horrible, slow work, I don’t mind saying.  Not just translating the words into plain English, something I’d never done before, but also trying to work out what they were meant to be saying in the first place.  I’ll never forget me and Michael Grimes, who listened to my cries of woe and helped me out with the Digbeth section, spending half an hour trying to translate one sentance.  It took a phone call to Jon Bounds to finally get there.  I was incredibly relieved when it was all finished.

I was even happier to hear that the work hadn’t been in vain.  Big City Talk collected 274 comments, all of which will be fed into the Big City Plan.  Debra Davies, Birmingham City Council’s PR Director, thanked us for going the extra 9 yards and was pleased at the level of input and discussion.

Here’s related posts from the others involved in Big City Talk:

Jon Bounds has written about the whole process in a series of 4 posts:

Michael Grimes talked about exactly why it needed doing.

Nick Booth talks about how it’s a perfect example of Brummies using social media to make a positive difference.


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7 things you may not know about me

Bruce Lawson chain-lettered Michael Grimes (aka Citizensheep), who in turn chain-lettered me into blogging about the 7 things you may not know about me.  So here we are – the good, the bad and the ugly:

  1. When no-one else is around I talk to myself. Out loud.  I have full-blown conversations with myself about things that are on my mind.  I’ve done this for as long as I can remember.  Of course, sometimes I’ll think I’m home alone when I’m actually not, which has led to some embarrassing situations.
  2. As I’m drifting off to sleep, I can hear a soft babble of voices, like I’m in a train station and can hear lots of conversations without being able to make out what people are saying.  I’ve had this for as long as I can remember.  I read a letter from a woman who had the same thing to psychic problem-solver Ruth The Truth, who told her it was ghosts trying to talk to her.  Ever since then I’ve fallen asleep with Radio 4 on.  I don’t like the idea of falling asleep to the dulcet tones of dead people.
  3. After a bad experience aged 19 to up until about two years ago, I had an overwhelming, all-consuming phobia of the dentist.  I had to go through therapy with the fantastic Beyond Fear to get it sorted out.  I can never thank Andrew Solecki enough for getting me to join a dentist after a twelve-year gap.  Amazingly, my teeth were fine.
  4. I love mind-numblingly rubbish telly.  I watch Hollyoaks, endless Friends repeats and all manner of reality telly shows.  It’s my crack, and probably the reason for my celebrity crush on Charlie Brooker.  I feel he’s the only one who would understand.
  5. I think starting blogging is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  Someone once said to me, “with your blog you’ve discovered your art form.”  I understand why some may scoff at the idea of a blogging being an art form, but I don’t care.  I feel like I’m expressing myself and being creative in a way I’ve not managed to before.  I don’t care if this sounds pretentious, I bloody love it.
  6. My current dream is to do a lone, lengthy road-trip around Ireland.  Armed with a blog, obviously.  If I won the lottery you wouldn’t see me for dust.
  7. I didn’t talk until I was three.  My parents thought there was something seriously wrong with me and took me to all sorts of specialists, until one of them concluded I was just plain lazy.  One of my earliest memories is of going to see one of these specialists and having to name plastic farmyard animals laid out on the table.  Maybe that’s the reason for Item 1 – I’m making up for lost time.

Okay, so that’s me.  It seems I have to pass the buck now.  I choose Antonio Gould, Ed Russell, Karen Strunks, Snow Blind, Ben Whitehouse, Midge Diabolik and Daniel Davies.  Have fun!

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