Showing posts from November, 2017

A crowdfunding story

How to crowdfund a restaurant empire 

When award-winning chef Gary Usher was *turned down for a loan to open a second restaurant, he *set up a crowdfunding campaign. Now he's about to launch his fourth restaurant.

All restaurants have a coming-of-age moment, the point at which they survive and thrive, or go down fighting. For Gary Usher’s Sticky Walnut, in a two-up two-down house in Hoole, just outside Chester, that moment came in 2013, about 18 months after they had opened. Usher, like any ambitious young chef *starting out on his own aged 30, had ploughed every penny he had into Sticky Walnut. He had gone back to Chester to open the restaurant – not far from where he had started out working in pubs – after successful stints in London at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce, and running Gordon Ramsay and Angela Hartnett’s kitchen at the York & Albany. He couldn’t afford to fail. Sticky Walnut had started well. He was getting good local reviews, doing healthy evening business and was pa…

The first 50 posts

I have been doing this blog for over ten years now. There are times when I felt like giving up but for some reason or other I never did.

I've been looking at the first 50 posts; from Sept 8th 2007 to Apr 9th 2008 (see all the posts using the Archive in the top left of the blog).

These are the posts that never received a comment:

Have you seen the film Catch Me If You Can?

The Flatmates was a fun way to improve your English.

Halloween doesn't have its origins in the United States.

We'll soon be hearing Last Christmas in the shops again.

A politician claimed the Spanish left €1 Tips for a coffee.

Advice on how to keep your New Year Resolutions.

There are controversial lines in God Save the Queen.

Pancake Day is a fun tradition in the UK.

The (lack of) Rain in Spain was a problem ten years ago too.

There was Rioting (again) in Madrid by football hooligans.

A bit of a gamble made a man wealthy.

We had Round Number One between Zapatero and Rajoy.

Are you one of those who says that "E…

Fewer Brits with pets

Pets in the doghouse as ownership falls
When it comes to the cost of owning a pet, many people in the UK are finding that there's just not enough money in the kitty.

Modern economic pressures mean that fewer households now own a pet. Just 56% now have one, down from 63% five years ago, say retail analysts Mintel.

Because many people cannot affordto buy their own home, more are renting from landlords who don't allow animals.

People are also having a family later in life, and children are big pet fans.

"Shrinking household sizes and the trend of consumers starting their families later in life are all having a negative effect on pet ownership," said Emma Clifford, associate director of food and drink at Mintel.

"Additionally,the shift towards privately rented accommodation continues to putdownwardpressure on pet ownership."

 Ownership of pet fish, including goldfish and tropical fish, has taken the biggest tumble, down from 17% of households in 2012 to 10% th…

Should languages be gender-neutral?

French language watchdogs say 'non' to gender-neutral style 
The Académie Française, France’s ultimate authority on the language, sparks national row after describing inclusive writing as an ‘aberration’ 
The Académie Française, France’s ultimate authority on the French language, is under fierce attack for describing gender-neutral text as an “aberration” that puts the language in “mortal danger”.

The “Immortals”, as the 40 academy members – only five of whom are women – are known, have sparked a national row after declaring that “inclusive writing” has no place in the country’s grammar books, or anywhere else for that matter.

In a statement full of hyperbole, the academy condemned the increasing use of new spellings aimed at making written French less masculine, arguing that it could not see the “desired objective” of the changes.

French grammatical rules give the masculine form of a noun precedence over the female. Women on an all-female board of company directors are called…

Whisky drama

World's most expensive dram of Scotch was a fake
A dram of vintage Scotch bought by a Chinese millionaire in a Swiss hotel bar for £7,600 was a fake, laboratory tests have concluded.

Analysts from Scotland were called in by the Waldhaus Am See hotel in St Moritz after experts questioned the authenticity of the 2cl shot.

It had been poured from an unopened bottle labelled as an 1878 Macallan single malt.

It is believed to be the largest sum ever paid for a poured dram of Scotch.

But analysis found that it was almost certainly not distilled before 1970.

The hotel said it had accepted the findings and reimbursed the customer in full. Zhang Wei, 36, from Beijing - one of China's highest-earning online writers - had paid just under 10,000 Swiss francs (£7,600, $10,050) for the single shot while visiting the hotel's Devil's Place whisky bar in July.

But suspicions about the spirit's provenance surfaced soon after the purchase, when whisky industry experts spotted discre…

It's a fact - "fake news" named Word of the Year

'Fake news' named Collins Dictionary's official Word of the Year for 2017 
Orwellian coinage popularised by US President Donald Trump and his team during the presidential election campaign defines its moment, according to leading lexicographers 
The term “fake news” has been named Collins' Word of the Year 2017.

Usage of the term - which has often been used by US President Donald Trump - has risen by 365% since 2016.

Defined as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”, “fake news” will now be added to the next print edition of Collins Dictionary.

Lexicographers, the people who compile dictionaries, found other politically relevant words had been significant over the last 12 months, including “antifa”, an abbreviation of “anti-fascist”, and “echo chamber”, which refers to those who share their opinions in environments, especially social media, where the only people who hear or read their views will be of a similar dispositi…