the GUIRI's notebook

Tom Jones and six other things I’ve loved this month

Valleys

1 – THE BOOK

Richard Llewellyn’s tale of the change in a small Welsh mining community over his lifetime really struck a chord when I read it this month. Not that I’m from the Valleys, nor to my knowledge were any of my ancestors miners, but something about the descriptions of the scenery, the people and the turn of phrase, drew me in. It was probably not the best thing to read on the Tube, tears streaming down my face at the last line, “How green was my Valley then, and the Valley of them that have gone”.

The film of the book (which won the Oscar for Best Picture over Citizen Kane) paraphrases a few lines that always make me think of home:

“I never met anybody whose talk was better than good food. My mother was always on the run, always the last to start her dinner, and the first to finish. For if my father was the head of our house, my mother was its heart.”

“Someone would strike up a song, and the valley would ring with the sound of many voices. For singing is in my people as sight is in the eye.”

Buy the book here or the film here

2 – THE RESTAURANT

SibaritaIn my quest to sample every Spanish tapas restaurant in London, I am always delighted when a new one pops up and is an unexpected delight. Perhaps not too unexpected in this case, as the Evening Standard’s Grace Dent gave it a rave review a fortnight ago. However, I have my own judgements in tapas, but was not disappointed.

Sibarita on Maiden Lane is the size of someone’s living room and has a very Spanish feel. Thankfully a barrel table came free as I walked in (the only spot unoccupied). There is an impressive wine list and a limited menu, two things that are a boon in my book. I opted for: croquetas, which this week were moreish spinach and béchamel crispy breadcrumbed balls of goodness; sobrasada with crusty bread; and the most beautifully tender lamb chops with creamy alioli. The amiable wait staff convinced me to try the torrija, which was delightful, but I would easily forgo the next time for an extra tapa.

Book a table here

3 – THE VIDEO

I couldn’t stop watching this video by Wired of Ocado’s fully automated distribution warehouse.

4 – THE VIEW

I also can’t stop looking at this photo from a recent trip to Mallorca. I’m loth to reveal the location, but it’s too beautiful not to share. Torrent de Pareis, Sa Calobra, on Mallorca’s west coast just above Port de Sóller.

Sa Calobra

Book a Mallorca hotel here

5 – THE RECIPE

This recipe for sole Veronique from the Hairy Bikers is so simple (with a few twists) but gives the most glorious results. The touch of vermouth makes it one to keep going back to for seconds. I forgo the oven bit and just throw it all in a wide heavy-based pan on the stove and let it simmer away to save time – especially when coming in late from work – and I use whatever fish I have at home.

Get the recipe here

6 – THE PODCAST

Bear with me if you haven’t heard of this, but it’s perhaps the only thing that’s made me make a fool of myself on public transport for the past 18 months. The reason? My Dad Wrote A Porno is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, as three friends read one of their dad’s attempts at a Fifty Shades of Grey novel. It’s terrible – the book that is – which makes for a hilarious listen on your commute. It’s now on its third series and even has a live tour.

Download it here

7 – THE VOICE

Ask anyone I work with (perhaps anyone who knows me) and they’ll tell you I have a slight obsession with Sir Tom Jones. And after years of wanting to, I finally got to see him live in concert in the magnificent Port Adriano in Mallorca. He did not disappoint, performing with power, ease and singing a mix of the old favourites, covers and mellow gospel hits. Just because, here’s a clip from his recent stint on The Voice UK.

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