Senates and Helmets

October 27, 2015 at 20:49 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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australia in stackhatsI don’t write about bicycle helmets much any more. I probably should, as they make for good click-bait, getting lots of hits on my blog. But to be honest, I’m rather bored with the whole thing. After spending years debating, scrutinising, reading and analysing research and commentary about them, it’s just so obvious they helmet laws are a complete disaster in every respect, and bicycle helmets in general are a drag on a healthy cycling culture that I can’t really be bothered arguing any more.

However, a senate inquiry has been set up to look at the issue of the ‘Nanny State’, and one of the specific terms of reference is bicycle helmets. So I found the energy to put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard) to make a submission.

There are lots of other submissions too, and most of them seem to be about bicycle helmets, despite the terms of reference including other topics such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Apparently we love debating bicycle helmets almost as much as we love forcing people to wear them.

Some of the submissions are predictable; one-dimensional perspectives from the medical fraternity somehow claiming that repealing the helmet law would cost millions  as every cyclist in Australia instantly falls victim to incapacitating brain injury. Yawn. I’ve dealt with all this before.

Lots of them are more interesting. Quite a few from people saying they cycle less or not at all because of helmet laws. Which is interesting, as according to many helmet zealot ‘academics’ these people do not exist. Many well researched and argued submissions pointing out the flaws in the helmet law. And a lot of refreshingly short ones, which basically say ‘please repeal the helmet law as it is rubbish’. Hurrah for them.

Anyway, if you are interested in my lengthy discourse on the topic, it is here. Be warned, though, it’s very boring. You’d be better off riding your bike.

Choc Banana Tim Tam

October 20, 2015 at 14:56 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam choc banana packetExciting news! Another new Tim Tam is here! Goodness, the innovation department at Arnott’s must really be working overtime at the moment. This new line is exclusive to Coles; I suppose to balance the Three Bean Tim Tam that was exclusive to Woolies.

The packaging is a slightly disconcerting yellow colour. I don’t know why it should be disconcerting; bananas are yellow after all. Yet somehow it is, to me at least. I have to say though, I did like the little banana shape behind the ‘New’ flash. Subtle one for the biscuit packet nerds out there. Which, of course, I am NOT. No sir, not me. Ahem.

So what are they like? My very initial instinct was to be worried by the whole concept of banana flavour. I mean, banana flavour never actually tastes of bananas, does it? But then I caught myself. This is Arnott’s we are talking about. They can confound expectation.

When you open the packet, they do smell quite strongly of sort of banana. And when you eat them, they also taste quite strongly of sort of banana. Actually, they taste quite a lot like banana syrup. Not that I’ve ever had banana syrup, to be honest, but I was reliably informed by those who had that this is what it tasted like. This was considered to be a Good Thing, as banana syrup is a delicious sort of grown-up thing, as opposed to banana lollies, which are a kind of revolting kids thing.

I actually thought they were OK. Not my favourite ever, but not at all bad. Not too sweet, banana flavour was quite good, chocolate as always impeccable.

There is one thing you probably need to know about these, though, and that is that they repeat on you. ‘Repeat on you’. Goodness, what a buttoned-up English person I can be. What I mean is that if you eat most of a packet of Banana Tim Tams in one go (which is what I did), you’ll be doing huge banana-flavoured belches for the next 3-4 hours. So be warned.

I’m going to give these a five out of ten.

The Secret River – Kate Grenville

October 13, 2015 at 21:06 | Posted in books | Leave a comment
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The Secret River starts in 1780s Lsecret riverondon. William Thornhill, a small boy, born in the squalid slums of London, get a chance to create a life for himself as a waterman, ferrying people across the Thames. Then, when things go wrong for him, he, his wife and their son are sentenced to be transported to Australia.

Arriving in Sydney in the early days of the colony, Thornhill sets out to rebuild his life, eventually claiming land and settling on the banks of the Hawesbury river.

Of course, the settlers come into contact with, and conflict with, the Aboriginal people of the area. There is horrific violence and brutality, but also attempts at reconciliation and peace. The moral choices are often ambiguous, and the novel paints a vivid portrait of early colonialism.

It’s a gripping read, often uncomfortable, and certainly gives an insightful perspective into the struggles between the white settlers and the Aborigines – and ultimately how the ‘blacks’ were brutally subjugated.

I’ve read a fair bit of Australian history since moving here some years ago, but this novel really puts that history into human terms. There is a risk in reading it as history though, in that Thornhill is very unusual in terms of his liberal, tolerant outlook. This paints a rather romanticised picture of white settlement (although Grenville does not shy away from the uglier side of colonial attitudes in other characters). But that said, I still recommend this book to all seeking both a great novel, and also an insight into how Australia was colonised by Europeans.

Arnott’s Savoy

October 6, 2015 at 13:02 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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savoy box arnottsSavoy. When I hear that word, I immediately think of the posh hotel in London, probably because I used to live there. (London, that is, not the Savoy).

When Google hears the word Savoy, it thinks of a cultural region in France. I’m not exactly sure what a ‘cultural region’ is, but I sense there are not many of them in Sydney.

When those oh-so-uncultured Sydneysiders see a pack of Savoy, though, I sense they think ‘Jatz’. Because, you see, they bear an uncanny resemblance to the Jatz biscuit. Even the packet is identical, right down to the piece of cheese.

Actually, they are not quite identical. The Savoy pack has the biscuits every so slightly lighter in colour, like they have been over-exposed; perhaps printed at an inferior print-shop.

But what of the Savoy biscuit? It is the same as the Jatz?

Well, dear readers, I can reveal that they are not the same. Not quite. You see, it’s one of those regional things, a bit like the Ginger Nut. Savoys hail from Victoria, where they were baked by Brockhoff. Arnott’s merged with Brockhoff back in the 1960s, but kept the Savoy recipe and name. For this reason, you’ll find mostly Savoys in Victoria, and Jatz in NSW.

savoy biscuitI guess it’s now all in the past, but I do suspect some sort of 1960s shenanigans with all this. Which came first, the Savoy or the Jatz? Well, my extensive research indicates it was the Savoy. Which I think means Arnott’s must have blatantly tried to copy them when they created the Jatz. I mean, look, even the packet looks the same! Even Aldi wouldn’t be so bold. Perhaps they had to buy Brockhoff simply to close off any possible litigation by the former.

Anyway, enough of all that ancient history. What do they taste like? Well, rather like the Jatz, I suppose. They are a tiny bit crunchier, with a bit more ‘snap’, and yes, they are a bit paler in colour. So that pack artwork is quite correct.

They are also a bit saltier, and a bit less sweet. Indeed, checking the ingredients, we find more salt in the Savoy, and more sugar in the Jatz. Holding to the general rule that anything white and crystalline is probably going to kill you, albeit after you’ve enjoyed the experience it offers, both salt and sugar come with some caveats.

According to this learned Professor, salt is going to lead to heart attack and stroke, whilst according to this learned Doctor, sugar is going to lead to liver disease and diabetes. So I guess you could take your pick from those, and choose the Savoy or the Jatz accordingly. Or just take the ‘everything in moderation’ approach, and have some of each. That’s what I do, including doing the ‘moderation’ bit in strict moderation.

So if you usually eat Jatz, try some Savoys for a change. And if you’re a Savoy habitual, branch out with a Jatz. That way, we can all stay healthy, and also support the multitude of almost-the-same-but-different product lines that Arnott’s do so well.

I’m going to give them an eight out of ten, making it an honourable draw with the Jatz.

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