Posts Tagged ‘china’

Ken Hom’s Complete Chinese Cookbook

Sunday, June 10th, 2018 | Books, Food

We’ve really enjoyed Ken Hom’s cookbook. We’ve been working our way through the 60-odd recipes we thought looked tasty over the past three or fours months and can now conclusively say that it is a winner.

All of the recipes have been easy to follow. A lot of them start the same way: by chopping up some meat and marinating it in a mixture of sesame oil, rice wine, soy sauce and corn flour. Then typically stir-fried with a variety of other ingredients.

If you’re looking for authentic Chinese food, this isn’t the book for you. The recipes are Westernised, which makes them both easy to cook and very tasty.

Sweet and sour pork.

Chicken and sweetcorn soup. It should have been chicken and spinach soup, but I cooked all of the spinach the day before and had to rely on stereotypes to fill in the blank.

Chicken with sesame seeds.

Braised fish.

Can Team GB beat China in the Olympic medal table?

Friday, August 19th, 2016 | Sport


I remember London 2012. It was magic. We smashed our medal predicts and earned ourselves third in the medals table. It was brilliant. Coming into Rio 2016, this made for a bit of a downer though. Without the home crowd, how could we hope to hold on to our spot as third in the world?

That all seems silly now. We’re smashing our medals target in Brazil as well. In fact, we were predicted to come third with 20 gold medals, just behind China who were predicted to score 22. Both of those targets have now been revised by Gracenote Sports who are now predicting Team GB to finish neck and neck with China.

They are predicting both countries will now finish on 25 gold medals.

Country Britain China
Gold medals so far 22 20
Predicted golds Mo Farah (5,000m)
Nicola Adams (boxing)
Bianca Walkden (taekwando)
Liu Hong (20km walk)
Fu H F/Zhang N (badminton)
Chen Long (badminton)
Qiu Bo (diving)
women’s volleyball
Predicted total 25 25

China took their predicted gold in the badminton so they remain on track for their predicted totals.

Team GB is now exceeding these predictions however. Nick Skelton’s gold in the individual show jumping today was an unexpected result: Britain was not predicted to win any medal in that competition. Joe Joyce, predicted bronze in the boxing, has just won through to the final too.

Of course one defeat for a British athlete expected to win, or one win from a Chinese athlete expected to take silver, could change everything around. It is going to be a nail biting finish.

I’ll keep this page updated as we go, if I can be bothered.

Day 14

19:31 China continue to follow their predictions: Liu Hong wins the women’s 20km walk by just two seconds, while Yin Junhua takes silver in the boxing, also as predicted.

21:56 Lutalo Muhammad was predicted to lose his semi-final taekwondo fight. He won, and so is through into the gold medal match.

22:46 Well blow me down, England have won a penalty shoot-out! Maybe we should play football as Team GB. Our women coming good in the hockey final mean we move two golds ahead of our predicted total.

Overnight We have teams running in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays: bronze predicted in each. China’s other medal hope for today was synchronised swimming, which they hit their silver in.

Day 15

Absolutely heartbreaking for Lutalo Muhammad in the taekwondo final, losing the gold in the very last second. Still, silver is better than his predicted bronze. Our women took bronze in the relay, unfortunately our men could not.

Today, both GB and China are predicted three golds each. We also have Joe Joyce (predicted bronze) in the boxing final and Liam Heath being the fastest qualifier in the K1 final (predicted not to place).

13:08 Liam Heath wins in the 100m kayak! Another unpredicted medal means we are now on 25: giving us three clear over China. We’re four silvers ahead too, so China would need four to catch up. With three predicted goals each for today, that is a tough ask.

15:58 China clean up in the badminton, keeping them on target for 25 with two golds and two more silvers predicted.

16:16 Here is the schedule for our remaining medal hopes today:

18:00 Nicola Adams
01:30 Mo Farah
02:00 Bianca Walkden (if she qualifies, China’s Zheng Shuyin also in contention)

Tom Daley is also fighting for a place in the men’s 10m diving final. He is predicted to make the final and earn a bronze, finishing behind China’s Qiu Bo and Chen Aisen. That starts at 20:30.

No predicted medals for Team GB tomorrow. That’s now impossible though as Joe Joyce is through to the men’s boxing final, and therefore guaranteed one. That starts at 19:15.

16:26 It is looking good for Team GB. Here are the remaining predicted medals for Team GB and China:

Gold: Nicola Adams, Mo Farah, Bianca Walkden
Silver: Joe Joyce
Bronze: Tom Daily, women’s 4×400 relay

Gold: Qiu Bo, women’s volleyball
Silver: Chen Aisen, Zheng Shuyin

We’re currently two golds and four silvers ahead. Given the gap in silvers, China can only overtake us by winning more golds, which would mean three. This is the maximum they can win: Qui Bo and Chen Aisen are both in the same diving competition, so they would need to take gold in all three events to overtake us.

Even if that happened, we would only need a single gold to seal the deal.

16:59 Well done Vicky Holland for taking bronze in the women’s triathlon. Bianca Walkden easily through the round of 16. Unfortunately Tom Daley failed to get into the 10m diving final. China finished one and two in that the semi-final.

We can wrap up second place with a gold for Nicola Adams in the boxing. Just over an hour to go for that.

zài jiàn

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 | Friends

Professor Richard Dawkins talks about the anaesthetic of familiarity. We forget the every day wonder, he beauty all around. The same applies to friends. It is great to see someone you have not seen for years. But when they are living in your house in December, and January, and February, they quickly blend into the every day.

Of course, I mostly said that for dramatic effect. It is technically true that Michelle was in my house for those months. But she arrived New Year’s Eve, stayed for two weeks, then went home and then came back for half a week. Not quite the imposition that Alan Partridge would inflict on people.

Turns out that visiting Leeds in January is not a great time to come. Tropical World closed for a month for refurbishment and the Thackray Medical Museum was closed too. Luckily the last visit even fell on a Wendy House, so it was back to old times.

Michelle is now heading off to China to teach English for a few years. Hense the title of this blog post – see you soon!

The good news is that my blog is not blocked in China anymore. What more could you possibly need to read?

In defence of Danny Boyle

Monday, July 30th, 2012 | Distractions, Thoughts

Recently, we witnessed the London 2012 opening ceremony, and what a sight it was to behold. Breathtaking and magical, it was enough even to warm my icy tax payer heart. It’s architect, British film director Danny Boyle, received almost unanimous praise from the media and twitterarti alike.

However, it stuck me that both the TV pundits and media writers the day after, essentially wrote a conclusion that said something along the lines of “it was never going to be as good as Beijing, but Danny managed to do the best second best that we could hope for.”

I take exception to this.

The Olympic opening ceremony that took place four years ago in Beijing was indeed an amazing ceremony. It’s a perfect example of what a totalitarian state can do when it throws enough money and slaves at something to really impress the rest of the world. But that’s all they had. While a big fireworks budget and lots of synchronised dancing is very impressive, it isn’t the only metric.

For example, we don’t recognise War & Peace as one the greatest novel because it’s really, really long. The quality of a novel is defined by the quality of its wordplay, the character of the story and the emotion that it generates. Not that Beijing didn’t have these, but London had them in bucket loads.

London had both. Clearly, we didn’t have grandeur on the scale of Bejijing, but it would ne nieve to say we lacked it entirely. An army of almost ten thousand performers were involved in the opening ceremony. Bejing may have had an amazing spectacle of thousands of drummers – but so did London.

As for character, soon after the ceremony it quickly became apparent how hollow the Beijing opening ceremony had actually been. The firework were pre-recorded and the girl who we thought was singing, was actually just miming while a girl deemed too unattractive sang from behind a curtain. Meanwhile, in London, we trotted out a series of heartwarming choirs, choirs that were actually singing, for real. In their need to achieve perfection, apparently, Beijing dare not compete with that.

We trotted out an endless list of amazing people – Isambard Kingdom Brunel, The Queen, James Bond, Mike Oldfield, Arctic Monkeys, Dizzee Rascal, David Beckham, Tim Berners-Lee, J. K. Rowling, Paul McCartney, Rowan Atkinson, Emeli Sandé and more. Again, Beijing simply couldn’t complete with that.

While China does have a long and noble history, we were really able to shine in celebrating our recent accomplishments (recent being the past few hundred years). Whether it be providing a shining beacon of socialist utopia as the world looks to the NHS as the model for universal free healthcare or a mega mix of the last fifty years of music, gently reminding everyone that the only people even in the same league as us when it comes to producing internationally acclaimed an enjoyed music is the United States, the ceremony reminded us all that Britain is both a cultural and social world leader. With a civil liberties record the likes of China, Beijing couldn’t complete.

Nor could it compete when we celebrated the two greatest turning points in modern society – the industrial revolution, that brought our economy from primary industries to secondary industries, and the creation of the world wide web, that took our economy from secondary industries to tertiary industries. Both owe their origins to Britain, allowing us to casually at the end of a house party scene, drop in “oh, btw, here is the guy who fundamentally changed how the world communicates.”

All that while respecting our own citizens Human Rights. And mostly[1] respecting other people’s as well.

So don’t be so quick to judge the London 2012 opening ceremony as the best we could do as an inevitable runner-up to Beijing. In so many ways, it was Beijing, that was hopelessly unable to complete with London.



2008 Olympics part II

Friday, August 29th, 2008 | Events, Religion & Politics, Sport

Having said all that, I didn’t watch a lot of the Olympics mainly because it just annoyed me. We seem to have been a bit too happy, smiley, everything is fine with China. Let’s review a few of the news stories that came out during the games.

The fireworks were pre-recorded.

Nobody turned up so they rounded up groups of students to make the stadiums look full.

To construct the new venues they bulldozed people’s houses with compensation.

People’s families suffered due to the people being involved in the games being taken away to camps so they couldn’t look after their families.

The fancy trains that said “made in China” on them were actually made by a company in Canada – who were ordered to de-badge them and put “made in China” on them in an attempt to stop people associating said term with crap quality. When in fact, of course, it is, hence why they went to Canada for their trains.

They spent a third of their GDP on the games, rather than feed their people.

They decided the young girl who was singing was too ugly so they hid her behind a curtain and put a better-looking girl out there miming.

They managed to perform the closing ceremony without using any amplification on the drums.

They had people carrying “nothing to see here” boards on standby as seen when the Hungarian weightlifter bent his arm back.

Their no doubt equal and fair selection process for the hundreds of people dancing in the stadium somehow presented any overweight or even slightly imperfect people from appearing.

Finally, the coordinator for the ending ceremony of the Olympic games said the western world couldn’t do amazing ceremonies like China did because…

  • We respect human rights
  • We have no dicipline and stop every 15 minutes for coffee breaks
  • We only work 4 and a half days a week
  • We aren’t willing to suffer enough
  • However he does complement North Korea on their ability to stage such performances.

Did I miss anything?

2008 Olympics

Friday, August 29th, 2008 | Events, Religion & Politics, Sport

There are a few things I want to talk about here. We need rather well I thought. Russia beat us to 3rd place in end but but 4th for Britain is really good, after all if there is one thing we are good at it is losing at sports.

Anyway, syncronised diving. It’s not a real sport is it? I mean seriously, you’r just jumping into a pool at the same time. It’s not big and it’s not clever. It’s very good to do at some kind of swimming club with 7 year old kids but an olympic sport? Of course not.

Also, London 2012, how are we supposed to follow this? Well anyway it’s irrelevant as we’re not even going to try. There is already talk of how we are going to hold a more “intimate” games, which basically just means less impressive.

And what was our closing ceremony about? It did have some rather nice features but it was spoilt for me by the fact that the big red bus we had, turned up on time. I don’t really feel that sums up British culture. Oh and the commentator accidentally called Leona Lewis a “superstar.” Finally, in case we hadn’t lost all self respect we ended it with “here’s David Beckham, he’s not going to say anything we’re just showing off.”

Finally, I just want to be clear that the man we sent to represent us in front of the rest of the world – was Boris Johnson. Kept him away from Britain for a while I guess. It’s good to see I’m not the only person who actually uses my jacket pockets.

Good stuff.