Monday, 15 September 2014

Emma's Spare Tyre Tummy Award Gets Spicy

Here's one I took earlier while it was still under construction
My dear old Oscar remembers when you could drive your Morris Minor up to the stones at Stonehenge, get out your picnic and lean back against against a priceless megalith. Not even a wandering Chinese neo-pagan clutching a crystal key ring, druid mouse mat or coffee table book of mystic spells broke the calm. These days armies of security guards and scientists would have you hauled away to the visitor centre and make you pay £13.90p to see it from a distance. Ah, such is the advance of Heritage. Sadly, the pressure of modern day tourism would crush the whole place to sand. Beats me why they allow all this valuable stuff to stay outdoors.

Fame at last
Over the week-end I headed for that area of Wiltshire on our tandem. We made it as far as the town of Amesbury which is the home town of the stone circle. We decided to spend our ancient monument money on a trip to the local tandoori restaurant. We were in for a feast of truly pagan lip smacking scrumptiousness. 

While Oscar refitted a mudguard I popped in to make a booking. On arrival my name was on the table on a cute label. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I felt like the  poor girl mistaken for the Honorable Lady Mountshaft in some kind of romance novel.

Romantic lamb balti
Since I had forgotten my specs and couldn't read the menu, I asked the proprietor to make a recommendation. Mr Burhan Uddin, was most helpful and charming. He suggested the lamb shank balti. Oscar had the shaslik chicken tandoori. We shared naan bread and pilau rice, all aided by a very acceptable Australian Merlot house wine. The food was superb.

A feast awaits you
The service was friendly and efficient. The menu is almost a fantasy feast with items such as venison sagwalla, duck tikka massala and lobster pepper fry. Believe me, this is premier league cuisine but without the prices. The restaurant itself is unpretentious but with a comfortable ambiance. I have great pleasure in awarding the full five stars of the Emma spare tyre tummy award to Tandoori Nights of Amesbury, Wiltshire,UK.

If you're coming this way to see the mysterious Stonehenge, get yourself to the town and treat yourself to a  fantastic curry experience. Oscar's theory is that the fourth megalith lines up the yuletide midnight moonbeam with the front entrance. Archaeologists and mystics are working on it. 

Emma Thinx:  When did the prehistoric period begin?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Emma's Spare Tyre Tummy Award goes to Port D'Envaux

There's nothing flash but there's a flood of flavour
Astonishing things still happen in this world. By the number of views on my spare tyre tummy restaurant awards blogs, I am now a serious rival to Michelin. Well - like me they are round,bouncy, have deep flexible grooves and take a lot of wear.

There is a newly opened restaurant in the village of Port d'Envaux, Charente-Maritime. It is called L'Auberge de la Charente and that is exactly what it is. It is the inn by the river. Somehow rivers draw us to them don't they. The flow of time has always swept the salt of sea up to the purifying skies and on to the fall of rain as we spend our mortal lives in the mysteries of saline lust and pure conscience. But what a menu eh?

A chew with a view. 
If I seem a bit poetic that is because I'm recalling the food. Between us we had skate wings and filet de boeuf. There was a starter of salad and a dessert of chocolate sponge. It was less that £20. 

Everything was beautifully cooked and tasted of itself. Yes, of itself because it was top quality produce. The Auberge de la Charente only opened in July and was running a small menu. Believe me - small is beautiful.  Port d'Envaux is not a tourist trap. Most folk in the restaurant and on the nearby river beach are French. Well, except for the eccentric English romantic novelist riding about on a tandem with a poet. 

If I pose with my healthy bike the calories don't count

I am thrilled to give my five star spare tyre award to L'Auberge de la Charente, Rue des Pecheurs, Port D'envaux, 17350, France. The premises allows fine views of the river and has a lovely local ambience. If you're a francophile looking for France, then this is a corner of France looking for you. If you're coming next year start thinking yourself  to walk slow, shrug big, taste long, drink deep and sleep late. Let the river flow on and do the work of time for you. It has far more experience.

Emma Thinx: The wider the menu the more the regret. 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Emma's Spare Tyre Restaurant Award Goes To Blackpool

You raise me up
Oh there's a hint a winta around my follicles. Back in the UK as the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness pisses me right off. While I wait for wealth and fame, the northern winter isn't waiting for me. It's here and drawing me in. The shawl of evening darkness folds around me. If you're a true fish-chip-mushy-pea gobbling Brit there's only one thing to do. Yes - head for Blackpool.  
Gaw Blimey Guv  - Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?

Most of my readers are not in the UK. Very often I am in the warm air, vines and swallows of France. It is just possible that some citizens of the world know little about Blackpool. It is a strange blend of features but if you can imagine Liberace's fast food joint set in the middle of Buffalo Bill's carousel you kinda get the idea. Add to that a massive sandy beach, a tower dans le style d'Eiffel and some wonderful trams and you have our British jewel of the Northern Night. On 29th August, top Brit' comedian Peter Kay threw the switch to turn on the illuminations. Winter be gone! The illuminations are on. 

Let there be light

It's all completely over the top, brash and ridiculous. I fitted in at once even though no one understood my London/French accent. 

Out of the blue came paradise on a plate
Of course there was only one possible type of dinner. We headed into C'Fresh fish and chips restaurant which is in Lytham Road, just off the Promenade strip. I dined on battered haddock, chips and mushy peas. We drew astonished stares by sharing a bottle of Blossom Hill Merlot but I was a glamorous Romantic novelist out on the town with my hunk.  Pints of beer and mugs of tea seemed more popular. The wine was moderately priced by restaurant standards. The fish was fine white and fresh. The batter and the chips were cooked to order. A charming young lady took our order and politely answered my stupid questions about sales ratios between cod and haddock. So, for excellence in the realm of British traditional cuisine my first UK spare tire tummy award goes to C'Fresh of Blackpool. 

As seen from the Irish Sea
We stayed at the Ramsay hotel on Queen's Promenade. The prices were modest indeed. The room was comfortable and lavishly stocked with tea, coffee, hot chocolate and bottled drinking water. Soaps, shampoos and gels were plentiful. All of these products were top quality branded stuff - no cash and carry junk. We had breakfast of a good choice of cereals and fruit juice as a starter. The full English breakfast was lavish and well cooked. There was also toast. All the spreads and the butter were top quality products. I do not hesitate to give an Emma's spare tire tummy award for English seaside excellence to the Ramsay hotel. The proprietor was a lovely chap called Uttar Tamata who was most welcoming. 
Does my fin look big in this?

While there is light let there be flight
And finally, back to Blackpool.Half of the 360 degree vista is the sea. It's a real bucket and spade beach complete with gulls. All the jingle jangle of cash and the flashing of lights mean nothing to the long term course of Nature. On the sands a child will form a memory of a parent helping to dig a magic castle and will carry it to death as the lights switch off. Such is our season and such is the joy of the resort town. Immortality is not the repetition of mortalities but it will do while there is still power in the switch and a contempt for the darkness. Blackpool, your brash slash of trash panache,your hour defying tower of power, - je t'aime. 

Emma Thinx: Lighten your soul. Bleach your dark roots. 

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Anouncing Emma's Spare Tyre Tummy Restaurant Awards.

First winner of the Emma Calin Spare Tyre Tummy Award
Since my first chew on an edible mollusc, I’d wanted to go to La Rochelle. It even has the word shell built in as a type of subliminal tourist trap for Anglos to get your fruit de mer juices running. I munched succulent moules et frites at the Pass’port cafe which gets my spare tyre tummy award which is as near as I get to being a Michelin star. Top job guys and great staff. 

Flying the flag for France
I've got to give you a true tourist postcard pic of the famous harbour. La Rochelle is a picture waiting to offer itself to a camera lens. There is also some marvelous wall art which I suppose is either a mural or graffiti. 

Oooh - that first taste of juicy molusc.
Which ever banksy of the argument you are on, these artists are enormously talented. Probably no one will ever hear of them and they will join the boulevard buskers in the ranks of the virtual virtuosi in a million tourist albums. Who ever you are - thanks for the show. My special thanks also to the guy who keeps 24 hour surveillance on the car park. I'm sure he was watching me.
Supervised Parking.

Emma Thinks: Let them eat slugs.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Flowery Prose

Sure heats up the deep frying pagan in me. My Phoebus has sent me an earthly orgy of icons to contemplate
I'm at home in St. Savinien sur Charente never far from the Angelus bells of the eponymous eglise. Oooh - I do love a bit of the old Eponomy. I think there might be a publishing platform of the same name. They often invite me to do things. I'm not sure what and I've never gotten round to doing it. 

It's like a landscape painting at every moment of the river
I'm just putting up a few pictures of my beautiful town. The air is heavy with the perfume of flowers. The swallows swoop and swerve back and forth along the surface of the flowing emerald Charente river. After a shower the air is warm and saturated with that deep lust of kisses, wine, fertile musk of passion and the warm plop plop spatter of cow dung. It's a damask bath of purple prose sprinkled with succulent seed laden fruit and wasps. You know - one day I'm gonna stick all this stuff in a saucy novel and send it to Eponomy. 

Alleys of the world - ALLEZ!
Even a stroll to the local boulangerie takes me along an alley like many others. It is all so close to paradise that I get that urge to try out some original sin. The closest I've got so far is nibbling the newly baked bread before I get it home although once I scoffed two of the pains au chocolat. I told the family they'd only had two left. Well, they did when I'd subtracted two. 

Emma Thinx: To flower is mortality. To bloom is mentality.

Monday, 4 August 2014

FALLEN FOR #ROCK - get a BUZZ on the #Beach this #summer with Nicky Wells new #Romance plus #Giveaway #SWAG

Today I would like to introduce you to a guest author and her brand new racy romance, please give a big hand to the charismatic writer and radio star.... 

Uber-Rock-Chick Nicky Wells.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky's brand new 'Rock Star Romance' Fallen For Rock has just been published, my review is below and here's the blurb:

‘A thrilling and delicious story of love and self-discovery woven around a broken romance that will make you turn page after page and cheer to the end.’

Love, life, loyalties. Nothing stays the same when Emily gets drawn into the world of rock.

Glossy and sophisticated professional high-flyer Emily has no time for nonsense such as the rock music her ex-boyfriend Nate adored so much. Yet when she unexpectedly comes into possession of VIP tickets—access all areas—for new rock band phenomenon, MonX, she can’t resist the temptation.

The fateful gig turns into more than one night, and Emily finds herself strangely drawn to this new and unfamiliar glittery world. However, only weeks later, MonX and her own universe fall apart with devastating consequences for all. When MonX lead singer Mike appeals for her help, she reluctantly embraces a new opportunity. But she soon discovers that while she may be a rock chick after all, a groupie she is not… Or is she?

Just exactly where do her loyalties lie? And what direction will her life take now that she’s left behind everything she treasured?

Warning! Fallen For Rock contains some explicit content and strong language that may not be suitable for readers under eighteen years of age.

My Review for Fallen For Rock

This is a sexy book. Putting sex in a story is easy. Making it sexy is talent. When a buttoned up ambitious girl who's already made it in her own world tumbles into the wild world of rock, her buttons quickly unravel. Without giving away the story, Emily manages to fall for two men and get away with it. In the meantime she indulges in the ultimate fantasy of stepping out of her old stable privileged life. It's not supposed to be for ever but everything is for ever when the beasts of lust and love break free. There are prices to be paid and choices to be made. She has the most fantastic sex of her life and loses all her previous status. Some would say this was a fair exchange but she doesn't take it lying down and fights back. This is hard core rock star romance but also an uplifting story of a woman finding her true self through whatever life throws at her.  Another top read from Nicky Wells.

Find a copy here:

Fallen for Rock SWAG Giveaway!

To celebrate the launch of Fallen for Rock and to spread some joy, Nicky is kindly giving away the following items:

One Large Signed Poster of “Fallen for Rock
Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Swag (Postcards and Bookmarks)
Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock SWAG SPECIAL” including 2 bookmarks, 2 postcards and 2 guitar picks
Five Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Guitar Picks (two picks per set)
One Set of “The Complete Nicky Wells Swag” (signed): Bookmarks and postcards for Sophie's Turn, Sophie's Run, Sophie's Encore, Spirits of Christmas and Fallen for Rock
One Audio CD: Bon Jovi "Greatest Hits" (2010)

One Amazon Gift Certificate for £5/$7 or equivalent

About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places. 

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Chinese Lantern

And here I am in France. The great cycle race ended in Paris on Sunday and like so many cycling fans and half the population of France a void has opened before me.  

This year has been one of the most remarkable ever. The two main favourites crashed out in the early stages. The eventual winner was Vincenzo Nibali, a somewhat enigmatic Italian. His top position on the Parisian podium was completely eclipsed by the greater victories of two French riders in second and third places. A French commentator interviewing the champion asked: "Well done for your win of course, but you have to concede you had the strongest team. I imagine you are very proud to have ridden with so many fabulous French riders..."

The diplomatic champion acknowledged their triumph. The studio anchor man told the Nation "We are not chauvinists! We are patriots!"

Chinese Lantern Ji Cheng
For now French cycling is on a high. I'm hoping more young folk will be pulling on their Lycra, shaving their legs and turning away from the cigarettes. Also, Chapeau to the guys who won second and third places -Jean Christophe Peraud and Thibault Pinot. To me they all are heroes and champions particularly the Chinese rider Ji Cheng who was the last guy home. Although technically the red lantern at the back of the field, he was a visible player, often in breakaways. He was a marvel and a credit to China. From my pinnacle of fame as a romantic novelist clinging on in invisibility at the back of the book-bashing peleton, I salute you. 

In my day job as an audio editor and producer I have also been immersed in the Tour de France. I have just completed an audiobook narrated by Oscar Sparrow entitled The Tour de France - The Inside Story. Written by Les Woodland, a consummate writer of the polished professional journalistic school, it reflects his own passion for cycling and shares the inside track on those great men who gave birth to the Tour and those who then sustained its legend. It is a fascinating nine-hour account filled with human flavour, foibles and falibility. We did a video clip to show our own way of working on such a project. It's a great read and an even better listen.

If you want to get a free download of this insight into cycling (worth $19.95/£14.95), whether you're a fan or not, in exchange for an honest review, leave a message below and I'll send you your own code for Audible...

Emma Thinx: The French do have a a word for chauvinism