Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Sandwich review: SuperValu Chicken & Bacon Club

The official description for this sandwich is:
Chicken breast in mayonnaise with sweetcure bacon, Cheddar cheese, vine ripened tomato, lettuce & a chipotle salsa mayonnaise on malted brown bread.
The poorly-spelt SuperValu is Budgen's own brand range of, well, almost everything.  None of it is very good (only marginally better than the spelling) and I'm afraid to say that this sandwich follows suit.    As a Club sandwich, it is packed full of multitudinous ingredients - the description makes it all sound very sophisticated, with its sweetcure bacon and vine ripened tomato and chipotle salsa mayonnaise - yet you barely notice their presence at all; that's not to say that it tastes bad - it's just so, so bland!

There's not a whole lot else to say on this topic, I'm afraid.  "Bland" pretty much sums up the whole experience of this sandwich - it is lacking in flavour, the packaging is boring, and nothing about it interested or excited me in the slightest.

This is a sandwich concept which has already been done fifty times better, by fifty other companies - so no, I would not buy this sandwich again.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sandwich review: deli2go Triple BLT

The official description for this sandwich is:
Bacon, curly lettuce and tomato with mayonnaise on malted wheatgrain bread.
I enjoyed this sandwich.  The deli2go range is sold in Shell garages, and on the whole, I have found them to be surprisingly good, for petrol station fayre.

The ingredients are all there, although the bacon is possibly slightly bland.  On the front of the packet, it is described as "smokey" - I'd like to see a bit more of the smokey flavour in the bacon, if I'm honest.  I'm pleased to see that the mayonnaise has been kept to an appropriate level, though - I have spoken before about the dangers of over-mayonnaising a sandwich, but luckily we don't have that problem here.

The aspect of this sandwich with which I was most impressed, though, was the excellent forethought exhibited by the makers in placing the tomatoes right in the middle.  Cushioned by the bacon, to one side, and the lettuce and mayonnaise to the other, the tomatoes are kept well enough away from the bread - tomatoes left too close to the bread will it soggy and damp, causing the whole sandwich to disintegrate all too easily.  This has not been allowed to happen here, and for that I am very grateful.

My main criticism of this sandwich is not actually to do with the sandwich itself, but with the packaging.  Aside from the minor issues with the bacon, which I have already mentioned (it could do with being a little more flavourful) it is the packaging which has impressed me the least...

This is a triple sandwich - that means it's 50% as big again as a normal sandwich.  The cardboard packet in which it is served, however, is not 50% bigger than normal sandwich packet; at best, it is about 25% bigger.  This means, of course, that the sandwich is squeezed into the packet so tightly that it's quite difficult to grasp any one of the three individual pieces - with the pressure of being packed into such a small space, the three pieces of the sandwich have almost become fused together, and are actually rather hard to separate.

In spite of these problems with the packaging, and the resulting issues involving actually getting into the sandwich to eat it, I would buy this sandwich again.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Some observations from England vs. Poland

After an unremarkable game of football this evening, here are a few comments, questions, and general remarks...

The mohican is back for real, in English football - for (I think) the first time David Beckham in 2001/02 - with Ashley Cole, Tom Cleverley and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all sporting those strange kind of mini-mohican hairstyles that don't really announce themselves until you're right close up, instead giving the appearance, from afar, that one's head is slightly triangular.

On the topic (kind-of) of Ashley Cole, why does his shirt still say "A. Cole" on the back, now that he's the only player named Cole in the squad?

The referee was dressed as an England player.  I thought it was traditional for the referee to wear a colour different from either team?  For some reason, the referee was wearing the same blue colours as all the England team - I'm surprised they didn't start passing to him!

If it comes to that, why were England playing in blue?  What does the colour blue have to do with England?

The Polish midfielder Obraniak rather sounds like he could be a mad Irish scientist - Professor O'Brainiac.  Just a thought.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

#F1 - Vettel's no Legend (yet)

So, another race victory for Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel in Korea this week, and another seemingly impressive statistic to go with it.  Last week in Japan, we were gleefully informed that Vettel had equalled Juan Manuel Fangio's record of race wins, and this week he equalled Jim Clark.

So Vettel's a true great of Formula 1, then - just like Fangio, Clark, and others?  Well, no - not really.

I'm not saying he doesn't have the potential to be, or that he won't be.  He's still very young, at only twenty-five years old, and already has an impressive portfolio, so it's clear that he has a bright future in the sport.

In my opinion, however, equalling or surpassing previous records of race wins is a fairly meaningless statistic...  Much as I'm a sucker for a bit of classic F1 history, what relevance does a comparison with Fangio's or Clark's era have, when the sport has changed so much since then?

In simple terms, there are more races these days.  So yes, of course the modern-day F1 driver (providing he's good, which Vettel unquestionably is) will eventually win more races - purely because there are so many more races available to be won.

In 1951 (when Fangio won his first World Championship), there were eight races on the calendar.  By 1963 (when Jim Clark took the first of his two World Championships), only two races had been added to the calendar, making ten in total.  This year, we have already had sixteen, with another four still to come - twenty races in total, which is two-and-a-half times the number Fangio raced in 1951.

With so many more opportunities to win races in the modern era, is it any wonder that successful drivers rack them up so quickly?

A better measure of these things, in my opinion, would be the overall percentage of wins.  This allows us to take into account the wildly different amount of races contested by drivers from different eras, and tells a rather different story...

Despite only having participated in fifty-two F1 races throughout his entire career, Fangio leads the board with twenty-four wins, giving him a win percentage of 46.14% - a full 7% ahead of second-place man and rival to Fangio, Alberto Ascari, who won 39.39% of races in his F1 career, making Fangio the only man ever to have won over 40% of his races.  (Apart from anything else, this just goes to prove what a tough sport Formula 1 really is, as even the very greatest in the sport's history always lose more races than they win.  No one has ever won over 50% of their career races.)  Jim Clark is next in third, with 34.25%.

Other legendary F1 names predictably make an appearance in the Top 10 - including Michael Schumacher, and Jackie Stewart.  Sebastian Vettel is currently in 8th place, with 25.77%.

Of course, this is still not entirely conclusive.  More has changed in Formula 1 over the years than just the amount of races in a season.  Comparisons across so many years will always be shady guidelines, and little more.

Is Vettel a legend of Formula 1?  No, not yet.

Will he be, one day?  Quite possibly, yes.

Monday, 8 October 2012

A quick tip for young drivers

Removing the manufacturer's standard branding and insignia from the rear of your minuscule hatchback (Peugot 106, or similar) does not make it in any way a cooler, or sportier, car.

Always remember that.

#F1 - Grosjean until proven innocent?!

Poor old Romain Grosjean - he just cannot get a break!

This weekend, the young French driver was under fire again, for yet another collision on the first lap - this time, a tangle with Mark Webber into the first corner at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.  And of course, out came the detractors, endlessly repeating that tired old statistic of "eight first-lap crashes this year" and calling for all kinds of fierce and terrible retribution...  During his post-race interview, Webber claimed that Grosjean should have another ban from the sport, while former F1 driver and Sky Sports pundit Johnny Herbert believes that Lotus should sack Grosjean.

I've already debunked the "eight crashes this year" thing, explaining a few weeks ago how this is a false figure when not all of those crashes were Grosjean's fault, so I shan't go into that now.

I don't condone Grosjean's first-corner driving at Suzuka, even though I'm still not entirely convinced by his culpability - from some views it appears to be Grosjean's fault, but other camera angles make it look like Webber cuts across the front of Grosjean a little sharply.

I'm pleased to see not all commentators are jumping on the Grosjean-bashing bandwagon.  The BBC's technical analyst Gary Anderson wrote in his column that the pressure of having to prove that he wouldn't crash got to Grosjean, and caused the incident, while Sky's Martin Brundle Tweeted that Grosjean deserves his seat in F1 next year:

But none of that is the point, really.

What concerns me is that Grosjean cannot get a fair trial any more.

People assume he is going to crash - because he's Romain Grosjean, and that's what he does.  And when he is involved in an incident, people assume it's his fault.  And then he gets given a harsher penalty than other drivers would receive for the same transgression.

In my view, that's not justice - or discipline.  That's a witch-hunt.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

#MOTD - Big club bias on the BBC

As a Norwich City fan, I cannot agree with the BBC's Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker that it has been "a brilliant start to the Premier League season".  Still searching for our first Premier League win of the season, we (Norwich) have been very poor at time, while at other times just unfortunate.  However, at no point have we actually ceased to exist...

Why, then, was there no mention of Norwich in last night's Match Of The Day?

The Chelsea/Norwich game was the first to be featured on Match Of The Day last night.  They showed clips of all the highlights, and then interviews with both managers.  And then Lineker, along with Alan Shearer and Martin Keown, gave us their analysis of the game - or rather, their analysis of Chelsea.  Not a word about Norwich was there to be heard in the analysis.

Yes, Chelsea beat us 4-1 (and fair play to them - they're a great team, and likely to be challenging for the title this year) but we weren't exactly invisible in the game.  In fact, it was Norwich's Grant Holt who opened the scoring in the game.  Is that not even worth a mention?!

The one-sided analysis consisted of the three presenters fawning over Chelsea's performance: "oh, look at Chelsea's fluid style.  Aren't they so special?  They're like Britain's answer to Barcelona!"  (A less surprising comparison than you may think, given how many Spanish or Brazilian players feature in Chelsea's first team squad.)

The analysis is meant to give us the experts' opinion on all the pivotal moments of the game - not give us the chance to listen people waxing lyrical about one of the teams, while the other team gets totally ignored.  I'm not bitter about Chelsea winning the game (I'm disappointed, yes - but not bitter) and don't resent the Match Of The Day analysis showing their goals, and discussing their style of play - as I've already said, they are definitely title contenders this year, so they deserve the plaudits they received last night.  I just feel that there may have things which Norwich players did that deserved a mention too: Holt's goal, in particular, and some very impressive saves by John Ruddy too.

Personally, I enjoy watching football, but I'm getting a bit tired of the bias towards the so-called "big clubs" on the BBC; it takes two teams to make an exciting game of football, and I believe an experts' analysis should be impartial.