Cowardly calf

and, while we're gustationising, it's been amusing to see the new landlord of the Cow and Calf doing something special for every feast day of the year. St. George's Day they think it's really important to do a themed event...Leap Day it's a free meal for the first couple to use it to propose (like you would) in the pub. Perhaps he's missed the basic lessons of restaurant school. It's not about the free offers and the free publicity. It's about good food, good service and having a good time. Like it used to be at the c n c. And not about the currently abysmal chow and ever worsening service (someone please slap those teenagers who pretend to be interested in bringing food to the table...)

Nouveau Ickley

and while I'm on the food front, it seems that Tubby's is following in Farsyde's footsteps. Up until Andy left to do Treacle Moon, I'd have to say Tubby's was just edging the race for best restaurant in Ickley. It's suffered a bit since he's gone, but the current chef now seems to be stamping his authority on the menu (rather than just doing a greatest hits from past years). Unfortunately, his authority seems to involve the one-trick pony Gavin has been riding at the Farsyde for the past half-decade; fruit with everything. So we get steak with an apricot sauce, red snapper with berry jus, and on and on. The current Tubby menu has nothing that doesn't combine meat and fruit, and neither does Farsyde (leaving aside fish and veggie). What is this fascination with this combination? Were all the chefs dropped in a tray of sweet n'sour when they were kids? Or is it the birth of an Ickley style of eating? Frankly, none of this stuff is exactly El Bulli is it? Still, at least it's not been deep frozen and then warmed through in a microwave. Steps--bringing canteen cooking back to life.

effing Sils-effing-den

Surprised that yorkshiresoul hasn't commented on the Gordon Ramsay prog, given YS's a chef (not to mention a fifth level paladin or thereabouts...) There was a lot of fuss afterwards, principally from people complaining he'd treated Silsden residents badly, and portrayed them as oafs. No comment from me on whether they might be, but personally, I thought he was more than nice to them. Silsden is a 'quaint town' as he described it, almost pretty. But it's not ready for the nouveau revolution. Never mind Heston's latest extravaganza. Ramsay seemed almost sympathetic to the people he was talking too, and I get the feeling this is another case of the meejah complaining rather too much. It was something of a surprise to me that the average resident of Silsden would be happy to pay £8-95 for a pie. Must be more money there than I thought. And, as someone, who likes his food, I have to say how encouraging it was to see Ramsay literally shaking with anger at the state of the kitchen at the end--actually devoured with passion about the possibility of poisoning someone. Does set one to wondering what the kitchens at most places in the dale are like...if food inspectors are as rare as policepersons, we're in for a fine old diarrhetic summer.

Rude bwoi

I forgot my manners... Chatiry mentioned this site, and I haven't returned the favour. Apologies. As librarians go, chatiry is most unintimidating. She also likes books, which, IME is very rare amongst her profession. She also likes ranting...something that you'd never see done on this site. Oh no, not never... (and she could give me some lessons in using typepad, I have NO idea how to find out what search terms people are using to get to this site, or how to put on records, books and other such entertainment...ho hum...)

Snap!

I'm sure many of you know of the existence of this place, but anyway.. Ilkley, South Africa. I used to have a theory that if you went to somewhere similarly named to somewhere else, you could travle between the two. Thus Stamford Bridge would take you from Yorkshire to Chelski. And Leeds, Utah was where the Saints came from, of course. I'll shut up now.

Ilkley property

Selling Houses last night featured Ilkley. In particular, one of those ex-local authority houses on Valley Rd (I think). Horrible it was inside as well...supposedly decorated by an American artist, her work brought to mind Jake Chapman's comment on the British Art Show, like anybody needs another picture of a fucking elephant They claimed at the end that, after the rather clean Mr Winter's ministrations, it sold within weeks. Not true, as it was still on the market three months later. But that's the appalling William Brown for you (the second worst estate agents in town)

Sell-off Pt. 2

And so it's been announced that Bradford Council are going to go ahead with plans to pass management of Ickley's buildings (including the Lido, White Wells, the Winter Gardens) to private companies and then pay that company to ensure their upkeep. The three companies in the frame are Carrillion, Mapeley Accord, and LST. And I've raised problems with all of them before. I am assuming the Council wil be thinking along the following lines in its negotiations... 1) Bradford Council claim that the risk of running the buildings will completely be passed over to the private companies. If it is, this will be a first. The interest for such companies in such deals is that the risk always remains with the public sector. This is why PFIs and PPPs are so profitable. I am assuming Bradford will ensure that all risks, then, remain with the private sector and that there are no get out clauses (acts of god, 'accidental' burnings down of the building, that sort of thing). 2) The point for private companies of being involved in such deals is to make a profit. And how do they do this? By paying minimum wage and squeezing every penny, of course. What guarantees has the Council got regarding the standard of maintenance? Perhaps they should look at the appalling lack of cleanliness, the leaking roofs and other problems in schools and hospitals managed by their favourite three bidders? 3) Carillion was responsible for the first PFI hospital--Dartford and Gravesham. The NAO reported that this hospital was no cheaper and possibly more expensive than a traditional rebuild. I'm assuming the council has carefully checked all the figures, and ensured there's no clause allowing a slip-through of added extras? 4) Which brings me to the question of Capital expenditure--presumably the Council is expecting the private company to pay for this? Has it developed a set scale of what will be required or are we talking purely about revenue maintenance expenditure? It's worth looking at the record of PFIs with regard to Capital expenditure--the majority of NHS Trusts operating PFIs have found themselves paying up to a SIX fold increase in the percentage of income used for capital costs AFTER the creation of the PFI (Dartford and Gravesham trust coming out worst again); I assume the Council isn't expecting the good tax payers of Ickley to shell out? 5) As Addingham Councillor Palmer has pointed out, there is nothing in the agreements to stop the companies involved selling the contracts on to other companies. Which means lower standards and worse problems. In the last six months, there's been a spate of PFI stakes sold to off-shore companies (Barclays Private Equity, Star Capital and others). These funds have no interest other than to make money for their very rich investors, and to cut costs wherever possible, while remaining essentially unaccountable. 6) And then there's the question of whether Bradford Council are even allowed to do this. The assets of Ickley are owned (like the moor) by the people of Ilkley. Perhaps Frazer could comment? Especially on White Wells... Time for independence once more.