Review of Rare Restaurant in Norwich, Norfolk, UK

One week ago, it being my girlfriend’s birthday, I decided we had to visit Rare.

Rare is a grill and stakehouse restaurant in Norwich, Norfolk. It is essentially a restaurant within a hotel, being located inside the Georgian House Hotel at the top of Unthank Road not far from the city centre.

Inside there is a very small reception. To your right a bar area for relaxing which we did not visit. To the right, a larger seating area with branded chairs and modern wallpaper. As you walk though, the kitchen is to your right. Keep walking and you’ll soon reach the end of the room with a door to the rest of the hotel.

There is no specific dress code but smart casual appeared common. The odd suit was also present. The staff dressed in conservative black with aprons and were professional and courteous at all times. Menus (available on their web site) appeared quickly enough revealing pricing in line with expectations given it is somewhat higher class without being out of reach of friends gatherings.

We skipped the starters which were priced around £4-£9. She chose the Salmon while I went for the Sirloin. Food did take a while to arrive, slices of still warm French Stick break with butter and sauce kept us going together with a couple of J2Os.

Main course was actually rather nice, served on modern sturdy plates with good quality cutlery. The taste and general quality of the food came across as high, justifying the list prices. We finished on Sticky Toffee Pudding (her) and warm chocolate fudge cake (me).

Overall we liked the place, the total bill coming to £50 including tip. They use a portable card machine so cash is not necessary.

Normal Bloke’s Identity Stolen

A colleague of mine recently received an email from his bank (genuine for once) thanking him for updating his card password.

Which he felt was strange because he hadn’t.

He called his bank and the automated line told him his balance was over GBP2,000. He then got through to a human who said it was under GBP200. The alarm was raised when the extra charges appeared to be on his card paying some financial institution my colleague had never heard of.

Anyway, the plot thickens.

A few days later this colleague of mine starts to realise how little postal mail he’s had. Not just him, the rest of the household too. So he spots the postman in the street and enquires.

“Yeah, well you were in the post office the other day getting it stopped, weren’t you?”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Oh shit,” The postman said as he got out his mobile and dialled the office to raise the alarm.

Apparently someone had just turned up to the local branch and ordered a hold on the mail to his address. The post office quite rightly has informed the police.

Amazingly, the next day my colleague gets some post. But it’s a little strange, because it’s some newsletter from the local church and, well, they don’t send out stuff to him. Conclusion? His identity has been stolen and the fraudster is collecting any new bank cards, replacing the genuine mail with fakes.

Now the next part of this is somewhat more personal. A week or two ago I booked tickets online to see the new Batman film but I couldn’t remember my Visa card password. So I clicked the forgotten password and was prompted for my date of birth and card expiry date, easy enough to remember/find out. Then I needed to set a new password.

And that was it. No security checks. No email to confirm the action by clicking the link within, no phone call to confirm intent, nothing.

Hardly any wonder people are now complaining that this lackluster security measure is being forced upon them.

Karcher K294MD Pressure Washer

Decided the car really needs a clean. As does my girlfriend’s. The good old bucket and sponge may be cheap and cheerful but fun it is not.

And so after reviewing various resources about pressure washers, went to Argos and brought home a Karcher K294M Delux unit, feeling £99.99 poorer as a result.

I assembled the machine yesterday afternoon and discovered two screws that no only required a start type driver bit but also an extension that they fit deep within the pastic mould.

One further problem. The British weather wasn’t “Sunny with occassional showers” it was in fact “heavy cloud with frequent showers” and as a result I couldn’t test the bloody thing. I returned to it this afternoon to fit the screws properly only to find one had gone walkies. Still I at least managed to power it on and use the variable power lance. Seems to work OK.

One problem I did spot was that our outside tap, despite it being connected to the mains supply, only gave me almost eight litres per minute. This model requires eight litres per minute so hopefully the motor won’t burn out prematurely, but the K380 model I was considering turns out to need ten litres per minute. Make sure you time how long it takes to fill a ten litre bucket with water FROM THE HOSE as a sensible test before you buy of of these things!

And the cars STILL need washing…

The car in front is a Nissan

No, it is not a Toyota, despite what their marketing materials may claim.

I made an observation late that week. I am often driving along single carriageway roads to and from work. The UK’s road speed limit for such out of town roads is usually 60mph. Often, I am in a queue of vehicles traveling at less than this speed. Why am I “held up”?

It seems common that the car in front of everyone, with only the open road ahead of itself, is a Nissan Micra. What is it about their drivers I wonder? I refuse to believe Nissan manufacturer their cars with an automatic “drive slower than conditions allow” computer on board. I wonder whether they are statistically less likely to be involved in a road traffic crash of some nature?

If you own a Nissan Micra, do me a favour. Please examine your rear view mirror at an increased frequency and note that when you have more than three vehicles apparently sitting under your bumper, you should take a look at increasing speed to nearer the limit (where conditions allow, sensibly). Thanks!

Spying on your neighbour

Can this really be legal?

Today I heard of the case where someone had planted a small microphone in their side of a hedge, wired to speakers inside their house, for the purposes of listing to everything their neighbours say in their back garden.

Obviously, upon discovering the listening device, the neighbours being bugged called in the police who allegedly stated that the size of the microphone was so small they were powerless to stop it. I understand the bugged are now forced to avoid their back garden when conversing.

I am led to believe that the apparent bugging is one weapon designed to make the neighbour’s life hell and force them to move out. The source who tells me this says the bug owner has successfully forced one householder out of their house and into the old people’s retirement home across the road.

I have no idea why this person or these people are doing what they are alleged to have done. I am told they want to clear out the locals they personally dislike. I suspect there is a great deal more to this.

But the principal remains that a person should be able to enjoy conversing on their own land without fear of being permanently bugged. Surely such an instance falls foul of our (UK) privacy, harassment or even telecommunications laws?

Terraços Do Vau

It’s now nearly one month since we visited Portugal and I thought high time I ought to write my notes on it. Photographs will follow once I’ve whittled the several hundred down to a more manageable number.

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I’ll start with our hotel which is located about 0.5km inland from the beach. You you need to walk up a short road which has hardly any traffic on it and no markings to reach the main building. At the front it is the bar which in turn overlooks the patio and small pool area. Reception is just inside the doors and manned by very friendly staff with excellent English.

At this point, a quick tip: Give yourself five minutes to read the small folder to the side of reception. Useful native phrases for communication with your apartment maid held within alongside various other snippets of essential information.

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The lock on our door needed encouragement to open, but once inside we were impressed by the three-star standards. A small lounge with a TV (remote did not work) and four native channels. A double bed (as requested) which wasn’t brilliant but certainly not to be complained about plus bedroom air conditioning. The kitchen had all the essentials plus washing machine, fridge freezer and even a dish washer. A gas powered oven with hobs and fume extractor is also included. Overall it was very, very clean, airy and pleasant.

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There are some caveats.

You need the electronic key fob inserted to power your lights and washing machine. This saves on power included in your bill. This also means that to wash your clothes you need to be in your apartment at all times which can take a while to finish.

Lastly the kettle. It is not electric so you must boil it on a gas hob. Do not expect anything less than five minutes before it begins to whistle.

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The apartment has a balcony although we only got the sunlight directly after 1900 hours. Even so, towels dried with each after only one hour. A linen horse was also supplied albeit slightly rusty and again our clothes had no trouble drying in the evening / overnight. The Portugese sun even after 1900 is pretty warm! The maids will replace your towels every few days so don’t worry too much about hygiene.

The pool was tried only once but it was clean and refreshing. Some pool toys (inflatable beds) were seen although we did not know if they were supplied or privately owned. The facilities are not large enough for things like diving boards. There are limited plastic sun beds to be found poolside.

The bar deserves a good review. The staff are very friendly and again have excellent English. Food and drink are available and hours are very flexible provided there are sufficient people to make it worthwhile. Apparently they’ll cook you a pizza at 0200 if there are people around to spend the money.

The hotel is exclusive to the Thompson group. As a result you will only likely be joined by other British tourists. Many are young families. This did not present any problems for us but we did like to go out each day. Depending on the day you arrive you’ll receive a welcome talk from (in our case Tony) the senior representative giving tips and recommending the local excursions. The talk is well worth it, although we ended up spending a small fortune on the excursions ourselves!

There were few noise problems overnight. But beware the area is prone to wild dogs between dusk and dawn (the coolest hours). One night we heard dogs barking in the early hours. Five minutes by foot down the road you’ll find two supermarkets. Well what the Portugese call supermarkets will British call corner shops. The smallest of the two is immediately to your right over the road. The larger is one minute further to your right.

Incidentally at the crossroads is where you are picked up for excursions. Beware if you pick the boat trip – you might be packed in the back of a old Land Rover which requires a suspension overhaul.

Scientist: “We can live to be 1,000 years old”

The BBC have published an article by Cambridge University scientist Dr. Aubrey de Grey who claims that someone aged 60 years old today could live to be 1,000 years old.

Of course, many have claimed such science fiction will turn to fact in the past, but this guy appears genuinely convinced. And since he leads some of the work in this field, he seems qualified.

He states many of the hurdles have solutions already in the works, and that in the next ten years we should have the medical advances necessary to keep someone going and going and…

Anyway, if you can draw your eyes away from the beard, the fascinatingly uncomplicated article can be found over on BBC News.