Mark the centennial (and a half) of the London Underground with a visit to one of our favourite blogs which, conveniently, is a tube-tacular trip around 150 of the Underground's finer features.
For our first post of 2013 we're simply going to point you in the direction of a better blog. It is topical too, what with the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, but a matter of hours away at the time of writing.
You'll have seen today's Google doodle, an homage to the iconic, rainbow-tentacled loveliness of the London tube map, and you may have clicked through to learn that tomorrow, 10th January 2013, marks the 150th birthday of our capital's magnificent and maddening subterranean network of stations. You want more though don't you?
If you do want more, firstly, congratulations, you are correct, possessed of a suitably inquiring mind, and a healthily nerdish appetite for sewer trains. You're are also far from on your own.
150greatthingsabouttheunderground.com is a smart, personal and fascinating peek, in blog form, at, at blogger Ian Jones, 150 favourite quirks, landmarks and features hidden in plain sight on and around the stations of the London Underground.
150 Great Things About the Underground is genuinely interesting, enlightening and even funny. Like its subject it is idiosyncratic, odd, charming and merrily unfinished. The blog, set to salute 150 roundels, statues, mosaics, architectural oddities and platform peccadilloes, currently runs, slightly behind schedule endearingly enough, to 76 posts.
You can easily lose an afternoon sifting though the lovingly researched posts and accompanying photographs, as Jones explains the underground's myriad mysteries, and turns his keen, tasteful eye to a variety of gems hidden among the commuting crowds.
Don't take our word for it though, take the opportunity to celebrate a century and a half of this venerable, very British institution, by alighting at, and delighting in, 150 Great Things About the Underground.
A link to Moose Allain's handy beginners' guide to Twitter, the long way round
Twitter can get a bit of a bad, sneerily condescending or fancifully alarmist, rap in the press but, used properly, it's actually a ever-expanding window into a world of whimsy, wit, wisdom, clever stuff, opinion and pictures of dogs in hats.
The internet is massive and overwhelming - you will never be able to eat the whole thing and where would you start - but on Twitter, where you follow people you find interesting or provocative, with whom you share ideals and a sense of humour, or in whose interests and ideals you are interested, you have the best bits of the web (along with good TV, films, books and art etc) thrown into your path.
Yes, if you were so inclined you could use it to annoy celebrities, swear with your shirt off and bully people, and it can be a massive time suck, but it's also fully pumped-up, blood-transfused, red-blood-cell rich, fun.
Give it a go. It's as interactive as you wish it; we can't tell you what Twitter is about or what it is for, the experience can be more or less what you want it to be. You'll totally pick it up, and if you don't know something ask. If anyone takes the piss instead of helping, just block them, unfollow them or, if you're into arguments, give them a verbal pop on the nose right back
There are far fewer dicks than you'd imagine populating the popular micro-blogging site. Many are as nice, warm and generous as former architect turned illustrator and Twitterato Moose Allain.
To prove Twitter is the mild best and not the Wild West, Moose has very kindly, with the help of his followers and friends, corralled some of hints, tips and good-to-know bits of etiquette for Twitter beginners onto this here cut-out-and-keep Storify guide.
Moose sells his illustrations. This means you can buy them. His shop is here, and I've seen his prints for sale at the very lovely uk.fab.com too.
Garnier Invisi-Mineral Dry Protect Anti-Perspirant: Doesn't do anything like what it says on the pressurised tin. Rubbish.
Let’s start with the good points of this product:
• At the time of purchase, it came in under £2, which isn’t too bad for a top brand anti-perspirant. It is now available at around £2.09 from the Superdrug website.
• As promised, it didn’t leave any white marks on clothing.
• The on-off switch was quite useful, especially for travelling. When in off mode, the deodorant is essentially locked, so it is impossible to accidentally spray all of your belongings with anti-perspirant.
Despite these plus points, there is one huge, inescapable flaw with the Garnier Invisi-Mineral Dry Protect Anti-Perspirant spray. It doesn’t actually work. It doesn’t stop you sweating, and the smell of the product seems to combine with perspiration to produce a smell not dissimilar to the odour created when you are already sweating and apply some kind of spray to cover it up. That really is the only way to describe it.
This odour wasn’t particularly strong or noticeable, and other people probably won’t detect it (extensive sniff-test surveys were carried out), but it is not what you want from a deodorant which promises to keep you fresh.
There is another problem with this particular Garnier deodorant. It not only fails to serve its basic purpose – keeping you odour-free – but it also actively prevents you from washing. It wants you to be sweaty.
Perhaps this tester was using it incorrectly (perhaps holding it a bit close to the skin during application on occasion), but the layer of anti-perspirant left on the underarm skin only a few hours after application was a nightmare to get rid of. Garnier promises 48-hour ultra-dry protection with this deodorant, but against what I’m not entirely sure of. Soap and water? You could only get rid of the unpleasant residue with a good scrub, and it took time to realise this. This tester never felt properly clean whilst using this product, which is the opposite of what it’s intended for.
In this reviewer’s opinion, there are far better anti-perspirant sprays and roll-ons available than this, and they are probably a lot cheaper. Avoid this frustrating product and give an own-brand deodorant a try.
50 shakes of pain: Windward's no nonsense Simply Caribbean hot sauce wants to hurt you real nice.
Walking round Alexandra Park for Moss Side's annual Caribbean Carnival of Manchester, our keen reviewer's eye noticed that all the food stalls, each offering various jerked meats, curried goat and kicking out irresistible olfactory invitations to hungry punters, seemed to carry one staple, go-to hot sauce: Windward West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce.
This saucy ubiquity among purveyors of Caribbean cuisine, which we took to be evidence of authenticity, was a bit of a bonus for us, having just picked up a bottle of Windward's finest, on impulse, from the shelves of a friendly neighbourhood pound shop.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce is available for a reasonable price then, at the likes of Poundland and at wholesalers. We picked ours up for under £1 (around 79p, we think), for which you get a handsome glass bottle and 230g of fiery goodness.
Previously we've griped that hot sauces, while tasting good, haven't fulfilled their primary MO. We have no complaints about the spiciness of this one.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce kicks really hard and really quickly, getting right up among your business the moment it reaches your palette. It is a hot, intense and tingly burn, with an almost acrid flavour of chilli spices. With 40% of the contents of the bottle coming from red habanero chilli puree, this sauce does not mess around.
Get past the imposing burn (which hangs around, tempting you back for another hit, as good chilli sauce should) and there is a certain gloopy sweetness and a light fruitiness to be discovered. This will come later though, initially your taste buds will be suffused, panicking, by the combination of raw habanero spice and onion/garlic intensifiers.
It's good, but it is not friendly. A drop or two deployed while cooking dishes adds instant heat, but get too liberal or bullish with it and your dinner will end up feeling like a challenge from Man v. Food or Heat Seekers. It is wicked on sandwiches too, if you're flagging and you need a lunchtime revivifier.
Windward Hot Pepper Sauce is a no frills, all thrills hot sauce for the chilli purist. It does not back down and makes few concessions to flavour and palatability – no mango or lime here – but it does batter you with a giggly, immediate rush of habanero heat. We like it; it seems to hate us.
Housebites comes to Manchester: sick of stuffing in slices of pizza and cramming in curries on a weekend? No, neither are we, but it's very nice to have a fancier, healthier option.
Posh takeaway service housebites (housebites.com) has been delivering to the hungry doors of our nation's glorious capital for a little while now. Celebrity fans, so the press goes, inlcude Lily Rose Cooper (formerly Lily Allen) and paid-up national treasure Stephen Fry.
Until recently however, if you were lucky enough to live outside of London you'd have to make do with the traditionally greasy and MSG soaked likes of a pizza or a Chinese takeaway.
Now, housebites is expanding its operation and is active in a couple of other big cities, including Manchester, baiting new punters with great offers of up to 50% off your first order. We love food and thrift, so of course we took advantage.
Housebites works thus:
Head to housebites.com, and pop your postcode into the appropriate box.
Housebites will bring up a list of all the local chefs cooking and delivering in your area that day, with a detailed menu for each.
Housebites quality check any chefs who want to sell through their site to make sure they are up to scratch. In practice this means you get experienced local chefs - some restaurateurs, some caterers - whipping up a limited number of dishes of various styles and cost, and delivering within a limited range of their base.
Have a look at which dishes you fancy and add whichever you want to try to your basket. There is usually a selection of mains, sides and desserts on offer from each chef.
When do you usually eat? Choose your delivery slot from a selection of 30 minute windows. If the slot is not available it will be greyed out.
Order before 3pm and you may get an early bird 10% discount. You can even order days in advance if you're that organised (and you should get the early order discount in this case too). Pay and wait for your order to arrive.
In our experience the quality is, as promised, a cut above regular takeaways and offers variety beyond the usual. Fancy authentic Spanish tapas at home, or the sort of modern European cuisine you'd get at a decent restaurant? That's the housebites MO.
- Housebites chef David Rodriguez
When the food arrives, it has clearly been cooked with care. We ordered (twice) from David Rodriguez, who is one of only two housebites chefs which deliver to our area, and felt that the food was akin to something we'd have spent hours cooking ourselves. Value-mongers should note that the portions are more than filling.
Rich, slow-cooked dishes, with an authenticity which we'd struggle to replicate at home, David's food was both hearty and refined. And instead of getting home from work, banging about for ages in the kitchen and eating at half past nine, we could relax and eat good food at a sensible time.
We're not sure if this happens across the board, but our housebites experience had a cheering personal touch. David brings the food to your house himself, talks you through the dishes and is generally very charming.
It helps that he has kindly bunged in an extra slice of cheesecake with each of our two orders.
There are plenty of incentives to use housebites, and to recommend it to your friends. Use your early bird discount to get money off, or look for a voucher code in your local paper, on Facebook or twitter for first time orders.
If you're an existing member you can build up a discount of 40% by tweeting, posting to Facebook or recommending friends via e-mail. They'll get 25% off their first order and you'll keep the price of your order extra-reasonable.
In truth, depending who you order with, the prices are very fair anyway. Our order has come in at under £20 for two people eating 3 courses, both times.
If you're in the catchment area check out housebites now. We thoroughly recommend it. If you're not in a serviced area yet, you soon will be. Housebites is a great idea waiting to take off across the whole country.