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Hello!

Welcome to my blog, where I write about all manner of things... 

At the moment I am finding it quite difficult to concentrate on writing (things going on) and the blog in particular, hence the rise of this more snippety kind of post... ***

I finally, after a couple of years of intent, joined the Thali Cafe's tiffin club. And it is bloody marvellous. The food was plentiful (fish curry, spicy dhal, tasty rice and a weird little veggie salad thingy) and incredibly more-ish and more than enough for two people. Delicious and inexpensive when you consider refills are only £6-7.50, depending upon the type of meal chosen. Joining the Tiffin Club itself is only £22.50, and this includes your first meal (and gives you ownership of a very pretty set of metal tiffin pots too).

The Thali Cafe can be found in Totterdown, Clifton, Montpelier and Easton. The atmosphere is invariably relaxed and the food amazingly good value.

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Having joined Thea Gilmore's Angels in the Abattoir project last year (and finding it worth every penny of the £52 it cost me) I have also joined Liz William's short story experiment, in which, depending upon the level of commitment chosen, she will send you from 4 to 12 short stories over the year, for the princely sum of £18 to £50. Subscriptions run for two years (from what I can work out) and are limited in number.

I have received the first three short stories and will be reading over the next week. More on this when I have done so.

Thea Gilmore's approach is very much an experiment in direct contact with her fans, and the 'package' is designed to add value over and above the simple purchase of a cd or iTunes download. Liz Williams' effort is much more of a direct sales approach, with the limited number of subscriptions adding rarity 'value' whilst keeping the overhead of managing these at a reasonable level (both artists take the time to be personal in their approach, as much as they can be).

I do wonder whether there will come a time, if this model explodes, where we will see eBay auctions for virtual, authentic and rare 'subscription certificates' to well known authors, musicians and artists. Interesting...

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Breakfast this morning has been the remnants of yesterday's bag of Jelly Babies. No, I'm not proud of myself at all.

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A number of things have arisen of late where I have had to think about fatherhood and the idea of having children (no, I am not about to have a child nor am I planning to); I am still pretty much convinced that my choice is the right one so far.

Okay, the significant change there is the so far bit. I am well aware that things change, and having pontificated at length on the flexibility of change and life choice off-line, I realise that just because a decision or choice is the way it is now, doesn't mean it cannot change in the future. Life has a nasty (or blessed) habit of throwing a curve ball and when it does you have to re-evaluate your choices based on the situation and principles at hand, rather than stubbornly adhering to a possibly outdated and less self-aware decision.

I spent yesterday with my mum, brother, sister-in-law and the two nephews (and small jug). It was bedlam. I can see and understand that having children and raising them is no mean feat, but gods, I don't know it. And I am quite happy with that shallowness of knowledge, to some extent.

My hat off to those of you who have done and are doing it. 'tis a brave and crazy thing you do, and best of luck with it.

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I am quite particular and opinionated about books, and a brief conversation with Emily last night highlighted this. I love reading and I love books. I love people's writing but I can be a bit snotty about the quality of writing and storytelling contained within a book (this in no way contradicts my occasional penchant for horribly written pulp fiction, okay, it does).

I do not like the Brontes, the Austens and I dropped GCSE English Literature like a hot stone after reading the first couple of pages of Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd. Heathen as it may be, I just don't like these classics and making me read them will only get me as grumpy as the time I was made to read Dan Brown.

On the flip side I do love the ancient classics; Aristophanes and Ovid and Euripides are great, and Fagle's translations of the Homeric epics the Odysseus and the Iliad are just fantastic. Moving forward through time, Dumas' the Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers are true classics, as is, indisputably, Cervante's Don Quixote. Of course there are non-European epics/classics I like as well, such as Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en and the massive and intimidating Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata (although to be perfectly honest I only really ever watched the latter on television).

I just have a real blind spot when it comes to Hardy, Austen et al (and this goes for worthy Russians such as Dostoyevsky and Chekov). Perhaps time will change my mind.

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Mini-recommendations:

Sustrans is a cycling charity set up to promote cycling in the UK and they have been instrumental in the massive growth in the National Cycle Network. They do lots of good stuff at all levels of the community and if you are into cycling in any way you should consider joining. They also have some great helmets in their shop (ahem).

I have just recently picked up a copy of Dario Mitidieri's Children of Bombay. The pictures are stunning, heartbreaking, emotive, brutal and observationally astute. The photography is superb. Go and find it.

The universe. I really like it. Despite all it's odd bits; dark matter (confusing), exploding suns, life, incomprehensibility and unimaginable vastness and minute complexity, it has it's good points too. Just look around, you'll see examples of both. Love it.

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