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Hi. You've probably already noticed that this isn't Charlie. (At least I hope so.) I'm Stina Leicht, and I wrote a couple of books published in the United States. Yeah, yeah. We went over that yesterday, I know. So, hopefully we're past the nasty surprise part of this morning's post.* Just so you know what you're in for: I like smart crime fiction, action films, whiskey, mysteries, fantasy, myth, history, books, music, sf, martial arts, horror, silly romantic comedies, feminist politics (we won't be chatting about that) and cars -- old muscle cars to be exact.

Oh, and I swear a bit. Just so you're forewarned.

When I started writing Of Blood and Honey I knew right away I had a lot of homework to do. My main character is a get-away driver. (Among other things.) Luckily, I've friends who are into rally racing. So, a good friend of mine named Sondra took me to a rally track. She asked her good friend the track owner to use her boyfriend's Porsche and show me the basics of rally racing. The track owner drove slowly at first, explaining as he went. Once I was familiar enough with the track and the basics of rally driving, he warned me that things might get scary and then he let loose. Being a bit of an adrenaline addict, I couldn't do anything but laugh. It was the best thing EVER. When we were done Sondra handed me the keys and said, "Have a great time." Me being me, I couldn't bring myself to go over 50mph. I was terrified I'd wreck it, you see. So, I took it around the track a few times and then tried to hand over the keys. Sondra folded her arms across her chest. "Oh, no you don't. I said drive it. I was watching. You didn't drive," she said. "I don't want to see you back here until you fucking drive that thing." I told her that I'd lived in houses that had cost as much as that car. She still wouldn't take the keys back. "Have you seen Jack drive?" She knew I'd seen him slide off the track into the dirt and up a hill sideways at least once. However, I told her it's Jack's car. He can wreck it if he wants to. I can't replace it. She smiled. "Jack loaned that Porsche to his 16 year-old niece last month, Stina. I promise you won't do anything to it she didn't do already." And with that, I drove and subsequently went home with a grin cemented onto my face that didn't dissolve for two whole days. Did I mention that I have amazing friends?

I have to say, I've been a big fan of Charlie's work since my husband handed me a copy of The Atrocity Archives a few years back. I think he's wonderful. (Charlie, that is. I think we can assume that I think my husband is awesome since he recommends fantastic books--among other things.) And I'm trying very hard right now not to feel as if Mo has just handed me her violin and told me to play a scale. I mean, sure. I've been practicing on my own 'violin' for a while but... damn. That said, I'm hoping we have fun this week. Because I really do want to play the shit out of this thing. How often do you get an opportunity like this?

Because the big bads are only asking for it, you know. ;)


*I'm in Texas. It's still morning here. I'll try to get tomorrow's post up at an appropriate time for the U.K. crowd. Ah, time zones. Sorry about that. I'm a bit nervous, see. Although, we can agree to blame the Texas Goth thing and pretend I don't do mornings. Er... something.



This is petrol-head week, right?

Stina, do you drive stick or automatic?


Welcome Stina.

'whiskey'? This blog hopes you like whisky too ... there's even English Whisky these days. (My collection of whiskies of the world includes French, which in an alternate history would be German as it comes from Lorraine.)

As for cars, yes, some of us have an unhealthy penchant for them.

(I was less than a week old when my mother brought me home from hospital. This being in the days before speed limits, she was perfectly sanguine about overtaking the police car which was in her way. And the other car a bit further ahead. It was only when my father got home in his (slower) car that she discovered that it had been a police chase. The local constabulary weren't issued with racing tuned Jaguars.)


Suuuuure. :)

I drive stick--a 10th anniversary addition Miata which (as it turns out) is IDEAL for rally racing. (It was even set up for the track before I got it.) I've only owned one automatic transmission car, and we hated one another.


Hi Stina!

Glad to see you here. I can confirm for readers that haven't tried her books that there are some really good "set pieces" in her two books with her protagonist behind the wheel.


Ha! Go you! Yes, whiskey. (Knappogue Castle is my favorite so far.) I'm not a fan of drinking peat. (I know, this makes me very unpopular in certain circles.) But I do make exceptions. My father's side of the family comes from Lorraine! I didn't know there was a whisky from there. That's too cool.

Love your car story. Your mom sounds fantastic. I <3 Jaguars. A convertable Jag was my first real car crush. I was eleven. Then came MGs. I've always liked roadsters. The muscle cars came later.


Thanks, Paul! I had so much fun writing those. Almost as much fun as I did with the research.


My sister's got an MX-5/Miata, which she's let me drive over at Silverstone. No, not on the track (swizz) but on the roads around it. Sweet, though I couldn't get properly comfortable in it.

As for automatics, I do drive one at the moment, and have done so for six years now, but every now and then I drive a manual for a bit. Even an hour in a manual has me desperately stamping on a non-existent clutch pedal for quite a while after getting back in my MG. (And it's the ZT, not one of the sports cars.)

(I blame a quarter million miles in a manual before I drove an automatic for the first time. Muscle memory is a bitch to overcome when it's that ingrained.)


Oh yes: G.Rozelieures single malt. Not my favourite to be honest, but an interesting curiosity.

I'm still trying to track down some Swisskey. Yes, Swiss Whiskey.


Did you try it with the top down? I find it helps. My husband (Dane) is 6'5" tall, and he has to drop the top in order to be comfortable. He doesn't drive it much. He knows I twitch whenever he takes out my baby for a spin. Oh, my cars are named by the way. My current MX-5/Miata is called Locksley.

I've done the same when I've driven Dane's car. (It's a beaten up Hyundai four door sedan. Automatic. Nothing special.) I call it Binky, but Dane hates that. :)


Hey, I do live in Texas. I do the best I can, you know?


I hate automatics too.

(Remind me to tell you some time about when I accidentally ended up driving Highway 1 from San Francisco north towards Portland in a Lincoln Town Car. And about the bear and the unicycle we encountered en route ...)

No Miata here; parking in Edinburgh makes Manhattan look user-friendly, so I'm a mostly-obligate pedestrian/bus/taxi user for journeys of less than 5km. Which means I have a very dull-looking Volvo V70 estate (station wagon) for hauling loads and long road trips.

I like that it looks dull. People don't expect dull grey estates to have a six-speed manual transmission and a turbocharged engine ...


You're talking about the contemporary meaning of Rally Racing, on a track, and not the older meaning of a high speed scavenger hunt on wheels. My parents used to do the latter (before I was born, unfortunately), father drove, while mother navigated, and older brother--toddler at the time--slept on the back 'seat' of the MGB. My father is now 71 and still drives like a maniac, and my mother says I drive like an old man, make of that what you will. Also unfortunately, I never learned to drive stick.

And at least with the blog there's no chance of fatal consequences, unlike if you were to play Mo's fiddle. So no worries.


I'm not a fan of drinking peat.

No Laphroaig for you then (one of my father's favorites). Tried it once, that was enough.

Charlie @11: (Remind me to tell you some time about when I accidentally ended up driving Highway 1 from San Francisco north towards Portland in a Lincoln Town Car. And about the bear and the unicycle we encountered en route ...)

Yes, that is a good story.


A bear and a unicycle? Sounds like my neighborhood-only you forgot the giant speaker on the back of the unicycle playing old skool jazz and the lumberjack riding the pink girly bike with the chainsaw in the basket. (Seriously.) That said, I'd totally love to hear that story. It sounds even better. I hear stories with bears in them are at least 20% cooler.

Stealth-badass vehicles are the most fun. Loud, smack-talking cars (cars that try really hard to seem badass) are most often not what they appear. Show-offs just aren't as cool.


Oh, yes. Definitely in the modern sense of rally racing. The cops frown on anything else, really, and I like having a driver's license. Unlike other places, Texas is really hard to get around in without a car. I don't see that as a good thing. That said, your parents sound really interesting. My dad is a mechanical engineer, and we used to work on cars together. Sometimes we watched races-I wanted to be a pit mechanic when I was ten-but mostly we didn't.

"And at least with the blog there's no chance of fatal consequences, unlike if you were to play Mo's fiddle. So no worries."

So very true, thank goodness.


I've a friend who is deeply into Laphroaig. He tried to convince me it was all kinds of goth due to the dead body later found in that particular bog. (At least, I think it was Laphroaig that he told that story about.) Yeah. Drinking peat flavored with dead body even more not my thing. LOL.


I rather liked my old auto transmission Nissan, but only got 30mpg. The manual Golf gives me twice that, partly because its Diesel. However, automatics are brilliant if you do lots of stop start city driving, as I often do (London, average speed 11mph).

Overall though, I don't get excited by cars. Big bikes are a different matter.


Ha HA yahoo Identity still works! Sorry about that but I've recently bought a Nexus 10 tablet ..hows about That Charlie! ..and in order to make it work I had to reset the entire password chain from Router onwards after the Help Desk California! Hows about that then? .. spent half an hour failing to work out why my New Toy wasn't Registering and then suggested that I sent the new Toy back for ..tortuously complicated ..return to sender via their routine return system.

Ah, well it WORKS Now and this is the latest test ..this after downloading the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2012 ..turns out the New Toy will only accept Videos and Films if encoded MPEG 4 and similar such stuff ... I will own that Apple is more customer friendly but - wot the hell .. Nexus !0 is £100 less expensive. And I can receive " Charlies Diary " via its Firefox ap .. and its as I said to someone just lately. of the Mini Ipad Retina No Sale.

Back to topic on Main ..Dell PC .. computer by means of a decent Clicky KeyBoard in the latest incarnation of the IBM Model M which I have a spare made in Scotland original of as bought on e bay.I just cant regard the Tablet as being anything other than a handy portable toyish Thingy.

It is a Wonder to me that Charlie ..Otherwise Known as his Code Designation of Our Genial Host .. didn't pattern a Laundry Files Story after that expert Driver knew that I'd get their eventually didn't you? ..Quiller the creation of "Adam Hall" aka Elleston Trevor.

" The Spy Who Came in From the Dojo " ...The man doing the fighting is Quiller. Quiller's opponent, an expert in a deadly amalgam of the martial arts, as is Quiller, is about to meet his demise. The place is England's clandestine installation at Norfolk. It's a training ground for the short-lived "shadow executives" who work for an outfit called the Bureau. You won't find the Bureau listed in the London telephone directory. But if you talk about it loudly enough, you'll win a visit from a high-ranking official of the British government. Politely but very firmly, he'll tell you to shut up. And he'll inform you that the Bureau doesn't exist. Who? Quiller? Never heard of the gentleman. Quiller is a British secret agent with the mind of a chess master, the skills of a commando and all the patience of a cornered cheetah. He's the hero of a long-running series of novels, a BBC television series and a major motion picture (The Quiller Memorandum, 1967). Quiller is the brainchild—and in some ways the alter ego—of British expatriate novelist Elleston Trevor. Both creator and creation are martial artists, expert drivers and "bloody-minded" individualists."

In one of the Quiller novels Hall had his agent counter his kidnappers by driving his car off of a dock and into the sea you would of course.


These days, in general, automatics get better fuel economy due to shifting gears faster than a human. This despite the torque converter still eating some of the energy.

Between improved automatic transmissions, CVTs, and SMGs, I'm wondering how long the clutch pedal will be in generally-available vehicles...


Golfs are nice looking cars. I don't know much about them, though. However, a friend of mine had a Jetta that she let me drive. Wow, that was a sexy stealth car. I've been to London twice. (My parents lived in Leeds for a while.) Loved London. (The art museums!) But I do understand it is very much not a car city. One of my BFFs has a flat in London. Seriously, I don't know how you cope when you have to shop for big things. Rachel had to remodel the bathroom when she first moved into her flat. That sounded like an ordeal and a half.

Alas, I know nothing of bikes. (You mean motorbikes, right?) But my friend, Fred, owns one and repairs them.


This is so very true. It makes me a little sad, I admit. My grandfather worked for Chevrolet back in the day. He used to say, "You drive a standard transmission. An automatic transmission drives you." I wonder what he'd think of the new automatic transmissions?


You can walk across central London and past most major Touristy stuff in half an hour at a Brisk pace.You can get into central London in half a hour via train from Reading ..though oddly enough it takes at least half as long again to get to Tourist Land from South Ealing, that is in -west - London itself. Its a funny old world. Its a wonder to me that Londoners bother with motor cars ..and yet they Do. It's a status thing I think.


Considering Northern Ireland seems full of rally drivers of the latter type, it's a pity Stina didn't get to experience it. To give a flavour of the generally accepted insanity, I've spoken to an ex-Tyrone rally head who said he'd "grown up and got scared" too much to get involved in the rally scene where he was currently living - in Kenya, where a spare axle is standard equipment.

And I've run across (though they were out of it that day, so I haven't tried it) Indian whisky.


The only shopping I do with a car in London is to the supermarket. Everywhere else I use public transport - it's quicker and cheaper than finding a parking space almost anywhere near any worthwhile shops. Big stuff gets delivered and small and medium go in a backpack. As for bikes, the one I really like is the "new" (old) Suzi 1200:

Unfortunately my biking days are over :-(


I'm not much of a petrol-head - I've owned a Citroen Diane, a Honda C50, a Riley Elf plus half shares in a Morris Minor and a Vauxhall Chevette. I think I've just listed the four worst mass market cars ever, and one of the worst bikes. Oh, almost forgot I had a 1/3 share of a Norton Commando but we never got it working.

I did get a Volvo over 120 mph on the B6318 where it's built on top of Hadrian's Wall, while my friends gave advice like "No" and "Idiot". And I've ripped the bottom out of a 1942 Willys Jeep on a tree stump, but I don't generally drive.

In the places I've lived, a car is an expensive hindrance, I like towns where one can walk everywhere.

Laphroiag is the only Scotch I like.

as for Goths, I'm comforted by the fact that I can always dye my hair black and move to Whitby, do covers of Nephilim numbers in pub gigs. That's my Plan B.


And then there are the new electric cars to consider as well - the ones with full torque from 0 RPM and basically a single gear. Combine that with a very powerful engine and very low centre of gravity and you have a ride that old time gearheads only dreamed about.

Can't wait until they launch the new electric-only version of Formula 1.

There must be a tie-back to the topic now - how would you use an electric car (such as a Tesla Model S or similar) in a book nowadays without it looking too much as a product placement?


how would you use an electric car (such as a Tesla Model S or similar) in a book nowadays without it looking too much as a product placement? please, don't talk abut "product placement" it's just brainwashing advertisement (I did't use the F word, but I mean it!) I stopped watching James Bond movies when he began drinking vodka (and not the best one!) Hey, Charlie, what about going to Big company saying "Hi! I'm a best seller writer and I wondered if I could do a little "product placement" for you, yes, here's my soul, where do I sign with my blood?"


"I stopped watching James Bond movies when he began drinking vodka..." Then you missed the best modern Bond quote on that topic, when asked whether he wanted his drink shaken or stirred.


Hi, Stina! You should remind everyone what the speed limits here in Texas are. There's talk of opening highway 6 up to 75 mph near where I live. That's 120 in kilometers per hour. Just driving on the road can be quite exciting and fulfill one's need for speed in my part of Texas... Although we do have to look elsewhere for curves and changes in grade that aren't also freeway onramps.


Hi Stina

I'm not much of a petrolhead, to put it mildly, heading towards my late 30s without having ever learned to drive. But I have borrowed a friend's 2-stroke kart once, and there's nothing like doing 90+mph an inch or two off the ground. Being all of about 9.5st with an underdeveloped sense of self-preservation, I was pretty quick in it too.

As to rallying, I can't decide whether this: is primarily a display of unearthly skill or psychopathic disregard for the wellbeing of one's fellow humans. Or perhaps both.


I used to reckon that from (our then) home in Ealing to Royston was 2 hours by train, with Kings Cross as the half way point.

Which was why I usually drove, that being about an hour instead.

That's why I, when I was a Londoner, had a car. I imagine a few other people were similar. My wife for one — she also ended up in jobs outside London.

(I now live in Royston, so the station at Royston is now the half way point and I no longer burn 20 litres of petrol a day.)


The Indian Amrut I'm drinking is, in my opinion, a nicer whisky than the French one I mentioned.

(I note that of the 10 different countries I have, 8 spell it 'whisky', whereas the US and Irish spell it with the 'whiskey'.)

In addition, I've also tried Swedish Whisky, and Nepalese Whisky. The latter was fiercer than the Amrut, as is probably appropriate when drinking it with a plate of raw minced lamb.

(Monty's Of Katmandu, the Dublin branch, sell that dish. I don't know whether any of the Ealing branches do.)


Ahem: the UK motorway speed limit is 70mph, but in general you get 10% leeway plus 1mph before they ticket you -- I.e. 78mph.

Notwithstanding this, in the mid-80’s I was once front seat passenger in a car that did the length of the M1 from London to Leeds -- 201 miles -- in 1 hour 56 minutes. (Including 20 miles of contraflow road works.) The car in question bore an eerie resemblance to an unmarked Police Rover SD1 ...


I think it was Iain Banks who had a character posit that 85 was the ideal speed, but that 90 would get you in trouble.

The fastest I've been on a British road was riding pillion behind a Police Constable doing 135 mph. He was off duty at the time, but never mind, we were still in his patch.

I've also seen what are effectively 80 mph traffic jams on British motorways.

Driving on the German autobahns is an interesting experience, or was before the traffic became so heavy. There was an interesting point at about 110 mph where I found you could bounce between the inside and outside lanes, dropping into gaps in the slower traffic as the fast stuff passed you. You quickly got into the habit of checking the rear view mirror every few seconds looking out for the much faster BMWs and stuff coming up behind.

A number of European national speed limits are 130 kph. And some are only 120 kph, which can be embarrassing if you manage to cross that country border post to border post at a carefully averaged 125 ...


Well, then Texas has more in common wi the rest of the world (or at least Europe) than I thought. (I don't do much international travel, and had never paid attention to speed limits as I generally take public transit when out of town.) Decent portions of the US still have a 55 mph/88 kph speed limit on freeways, and there are some places I can think of that have 45 mph/72kph or lower speed limits on freeways.


The Scottish and the Irish produced whisk(e)y before spelling was invented. All others take their cue from who introduced them to it - or which version their distillers are attempting to imitate. (",)

I must give both Monty's and Amrut a proper go, then. I've been passed it many, many, many times, but never been in. Have you tried Penderyn, the Welsh whisky?


There's now Japanese Whisky as well.

Whisky does strange things to some people; one of my friends started stroking me in awe just after I'd been temping at the Broxburn bottling plant of some major whisly produce and had helped bottle something that was a century or so old.

As for cars it has been more fun here in central Scotland recently. I skidded last week on some ice on a backroad, fortunately there wasn't any other traffic and I stopped before hitting the hedge.

On the motorway speed limit, I heard from a policeman that motorway cops didn't really bother you if you were doing 80 or so, it's more the 90 to 100 that they will. Certainly appears that way from my experience and what i've heard since.

No feminist politics? Awwww. I'm sure they would increase the hit count...


I haven't read a lot of spy fiction. (Just two Ian Fleming James Bond novels and Charlie's take on it. I enjoyed Charlie's book more, actually.) Interesting. I've seen all the James Bond films, and I'm more a fan of the recent (Daniel Craig) version. I really like Dame Judi Dench as M.


I had to settle for YouTube videos of European rally races, I'm afraid. :)


I liked public transport in London. It was fun. We don't have it much here, and what we do have kind of sucks.

Nice bike.


Ha! I suspect I'm living plan B--except my hair is blue, purple and black, I don't sing and well... Texas. I've been to Whitby, though. It was lovely.


Well, I certainly couldn't do it in either of the series I'm writing now. The Fey and the Fallen is set in the 1970s and the second series is set in a late 1700s era world. So, no electric cars.

Although, I do like them. The only problem is, I live near a blind school. Electric cars are noiseless. This makes them very dangerous to blind pedestrians.


True. the speedlimit on I-35 (outside of Austin where I live) is 80mph. That's the fastest we get around here.

Although, on the track we got up to well over 100. (I wasn't driving. I'm not that good.)


WOW. My guess is that he was trusting they'd get out of the way. Just. WOW.


I was informed that if it's Irish it's 'whiskey' and scotch is 'whisky.' It's totally possible I have incorrect information. I leave it up to you all. :)



I seem to be saying that a lot today. :)


"Hit" is probably a very appropriate word. Heh.


"My guess is that he was trusting they'd get out of the way"

And they were trusting he was skilled enough not to mow them down like the bunch of lemmings they resemble. Of course, this isn't always true as vast numbers of YouTube videos attest:


The Welsh one in the tall slim bottles? Yes, that's in the collection.

Monty's is a sort of chain. The story I heard is that there was an original branch in Ealing (maybe the one on the Broadway). Every few years, there'd be a falling out between the owners and the chefs, and the latter would go off elsewhere and start their own restaurant. Which they'd call Monty's. And use the same Paris Metro typeface logo for. Eventually one got as far as Dublin (it's in Temple Bar, on Eustace St. IIRC), but the rest are in the Ealing area.

It could on the other hand be sons or cousins starting their own branches. In my opinion they're all good, but the Dublin one is the best.

The minced raw lamb and Nepalese Whisky may be only available in the Dublin one. I have been sat beside Patrick Nielsen Hayden when he ordered it (so he can attest to its existence), but I have since ordered it myself.


Yes, and while the UK spelling seems to predominate, US makers seem to have adopted the Irish spelling. As so often, the Canadians seem to use the usual UK spelling rather than the one that the US uses.

(Though I do note that apparently one of the new English distilleries is using the 'whiskey' spelling. Hah! They probably maintain that they're Cornish rather than English. Or maybe they want to advertise as 'the only Whiskey Distiller in England'.)


It isn't just pure electrics that are dangerous, nor only blind pedestrians at risk. I drive a Honda Civic hybrid, and at low speeds, have come up behind or next to pedestrians (sighted, as far as I know) on several occasions without attracting any attention at all.

I love my car, and I like that it is quiet even when the gas engine is running, but there are times when I feel I have to choose between being too quiet or too loud (beep the horn? yell out the window?).


The talk here today seems to be pretty much about cars and booze. Good topics to be sure, but what about the books? Stina, I just bought both of your books over at Baen Ebooks. (All the standard ebook formats and no DRM!) Anticipating good reading I am.

"Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." -- Bertrand Russell


What about the books? Well, being set in NI in the 70s severely puts me off. The endless nightly news, friends who were soldiers there, being close enough to hear the bombs going off in London. Even today that thick Ian Paisley accent gives me a sick deja vu. That's before we get to the dewy eyed hyphenated Americans waxing lyrical over "the auld country" despite never having been there while funnelling money to the terrorists. Sorry, but I'm a bit phobic about that time and place.


Feeling a bit churlish and prejudgemental today, are we? I suppose we all have our hot buttons.


So, my conclusion out of this is that cool people have been to Leeds. Charlie, Stina, Tolkien... Of course I just point this out because I studied there myself too, though I have no other coolness attributes :-)


My only recollection of Leeds was a party I once attended at the university. Got horribly drunk, spewed up in the snow outside, lay on someones floor with the room spinning and stayed that way all night. Possibly. I think I was with my girlfriend at the time.


Hmm, things I remember about Leeds: Spanish restaurant called La Dorada, pretty authentic and run by Spaniards (pretty near my place, which was convenient me being a Spaniard too). Dar Bar, a really exceptional Indian place. Some of the cafes where they had argiles/sheeshas/hookahs, I wonder what's been of those after the smoking ban. A few takeaway places that didn't suck, and some which produced soggy dough and called it pizza. Hmm, did I really spend that much of my brain eating while I lived there? :-)

I remember a friend of mine lived together at a uni flat and used to get a lot of random teasing by this guy because we'd buy the cheapest mushrooms, for instance, but good tea and drinks. Once, though, we bought the supermarket-branded vodka. Never again!


Actually, Dirk is probably speaking for everyone in the mainland UK who is old enough to remember that era. Hint: the Troubles killed more people than 9/11, in a much smaller country -- including quite a few people on the UK mainland.


Time zones are an irrelevance. Charlie's little piece of the web has a wide audience so posting in the UK morning is not important. I am sure that somewhere in the world it is morning for someone in the audience out there.

I live in NZ and I get up with so little time to make it to work that I only ever read stuff in the evenings.


Cars & Whisky! Oh dearie, dearie me! Right.
Whiskies _ I'm a "Highland & Island" freak as regards Scotch ... Laphroig, Bunnahabain, Port Ellen, Ardbeg, Jura, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Coal Ila, Lagavulin, Springbank, Longrow, Talisker, etc ..... The only Irish I'll touch is Bushmills, preferably the single, of course..... Don't like the Speysides - too sweet & oily for my preferences. Well, I'm no racing driver, my tastes in vehicles are resticted to machines made in Solihull, by what was, once, the Starley bicycle company, a.k.a. a Land-Rover, large, green, and what is this "road" thing that you speak of? We've juust had a very light sprinkling of snow, even in London, & watching the drivers of other vahicles can be amusing, povided they don't block the roads, because they are incompetent. Like Charlie's Volvo, the other advantage of an L-R is that "packing" consists of just throwing everything into the back, since it is (nominally) an 11-seater. Oh, & being able to see so much more of the road & the scenery, since when driving, my head height is above that when Im standing up on the road.


Muscle cars eh - So you'd understand "427 Hemi or 440 6-pack" with no further explanation?

To expand on others' point about the inter-continental nature of the regular postership (is that a word?) Most of us live in one of Australasia (mostly in Australia or New Zealand, hi ANZACs!), North America, or Western Europe, or at least in those timezones.


Er Greg, the first 8 of the 11 you've listed are Islay malts.

More generally, with what you've listed, I'd suggest trying the new distillery on Lewis, and if you haven't already, Oban and Scapa.


There's now Japanese Whisky as well.

And indeed American too, now that prohibition is over.

(The Yamazaki distillery has been in production since 1924 - a time when the US was undergoing one of its periodic fits of insanity, that time about alcohol. I'm quite fond of the Yamazaki 12 year old.)


Definitely Temple Bar, can't swear to Eustace St. I'm ...unused to the idea the best restaurant of any kind whatsoever is in Dublin, but I'll take your word for it.

Penderyn's... well, it's a good first effort. I may have compared my first taste of it to Paddy. The sherry cask is much nicer. Some of the Japanese whiskies are astounding; Yamazaki does seem to be best of the bunch going on what I've had so far.

And on the idea electric cars are noiseless, see here.


I just looked and it's number 28 on Eustace Street. As to it being the best, I'm sorry to have to disappoint you, but in our opinion it was the best branch when we last made a comparison.

We left Ealing about 10 years ago, so it's a little unfair to assert that it's still the best Monty's. Particularly since I note that there's now one in Rathgar.


Whaddaya mean, "disappoint"? I can walk to 28 Eustace St. ",)


Please pardon my terminology: I seem to have forgotten Bushmills in there, which is of the UK but not of Great Britain. They have the usual Irish spelling, and I count them as an Irish whiskey rather than a specifically Northern Irish one.


There's been a Bushmills longer than there's been a UK; I think you're safe calling it an Irish whiskey. (",)


It did come with one or two personal peculiarities. One was having dinner in the Officers Mess at Millbank (military hospital) and then sitting round with the others who sang Irish rebel songs to some guy playing his guitar. More bizarrely I was hitchhiking to London one time and got a lift from an IRA man who had just got out of prison. He bought me a drink in Soho, although I didn't have the heart to tell him my place in the scheme of things. Interesting insights though.


paws4thot @ 62 Yes, I'm quite aware of that & apart from the Port Ellen, (now closed & I think I've drunk all mine, boo-hoo!) I think I've got bottles of all of those & Oban & Scapa & Highland Park ......


I'm reminded of something that another rally driver from the same era, Michele Mouton, said of the crowds "If you want to be competitive, you have to pretend they are not people. They are trees, and of course, you don't want to hit the trees, but..."


James - had to respond to two of your comments. I am a confirmed Laphroaig drinker - when I can afford it, but admit - it is an acquired taste.

Up here in the often frozen North with our gazzilions of battered and ragged roads, THE THING is the high speed scavenger hunt or Road Rallying. Finns, Estonians and Nordic types in general are very good at this as it's how they have to drive most of the time.

Here on Saaremaa we have a major event on the tour in October. Come and have a look some year.


I've made raw minced lamb as an appetizer for parties here on Saaremaa. I get fresh organic lamb from a local farmer and hand mince it. Served with chopped onions, pickles and/or raw egg - organic of course. We drink vodka with the dish.


I have to agree here. I was just getting off a bus less than half a kilometre away when the Baltic Exchange bomb went off. It was one of the weirdest and most unsettling experiences I've ever had - more so even than the earthquake I sat through on Crete.


I have experienced an earthquake once in Japan, relatively small, in Hokkaido. It woke me up and I remember wondering what was happening with the huge trucks going past the house before going back to sleep. The last quake I experienced was here in the UK. Sudden rushing wind sound and everything started swaying.


Know what you mean I was at the TUC on 9/11 to see Tony Blair amongst other things.

And there was a lot of nervous looks at the sky and black jokes about hearing a plane as we where standing in the obvious target should Al-Quaida wanted to go after TB - the speech had been very widely published.

I also accidentally left my bag unatended in the hall and had to sneak back worrying that the SB would think it was a bomb.


"Muscle cars eh - So you'd understand "427 Hemi or 440 6-pack" with no further explanation?"

Yes, I do. I used to own a '67 Mustang. (more of a Franken-stang really-you'll understand why shortly.) It had a 289 v8 4.7 L engine and a '66 rear valance. That engine wasn't available until 1968. ;) The 1969 429 Cobra Jet with a Shaker scoop is my ideal car.


I don't know if I got around to thanking you or not, but thank you!


oh, i suspect you do. you're here aren't you?


Charlie, that's extremely understandable.


Good to know! Thanks so much for telling me. :)


"The only Irish I'll touch is Bushmills, preferably the single, of course....."

I do love Bushmills. :)


My usual tastes (for European roads anyway) run more to small block cars too, so I'd be thinking 60s Mustang, 70 and a half Camaro or similar age Corvette.

It's just that there's something about the Superbird, preferably in Petty Blue.


Mustangs? What's with this Urban Fantasy women writers liking Mustangs? Catie Murphy's Walker Papers has heroine Jo Walker loving her purple Mustang. It even ends up on the cover picture of one of the novels.


Dodge Challenger, that's the one for me.

I can never forgive Tarantino for smashing up so many 1970 Challengers making the sub-par movie Deathproof.

(actually when I come to think of it if I could only choose one classic car to save for history, it'd be the Mk 2 Land Rover - either the SWB one, the extended "shooting brake" version, or the barking mad "Cuthbertson" tracked Land Rover.)


There's a Landy round here so short and so high I'd almost swear its ground clearance is higher than its wheel base is long. Whether it ever goes off road is another question - I've not noticed any mud on it, but the owner might just give it a rinse down afterwards.


@Strummist - Is the "shooting brake" you mean the Tickford one with the coachbuilt body, or a 109" 'station wagon' 10 seater?

@Bellinghman - One guy here has a 90 with raising blocks and big sand tyres. On a calm day it can be heard coming from about quarter of a mile off due to the tyre noise!


I did mean the 109, but after a quick google, I'm changing my vote to the Tickford.

@Bellinghman - some of the ones with custom transmission etc look like they could jump their own height vertically! And yes, too many people who never go offroad.

At the folk festival I sometimes work at we use swb series 2's as runabouts, they are a hell of a lot of fun, and essential for hauling stuck cars out of a muddy field.

There's a new festival at Portmeirion - I hope they use Mini Mokes. I don't suppose the budget runs to Lotus Sevens.


Oh the Moke! First vehicle I ever drove. We had one and I used to drive it round the fields for the experience, age 14.

(I actually took my test about 10 years later)


Para 4 - Also, Mokes can seat 4, maybe 5 at a pinch, and 7s are strictly 2 seaters.


"feminist politics (we won't be chatting about that)"

Why not? Questions of sex and gender and the politics surrounding them are important themes in almost all of Charlie's books. And those themes are visited here frequently.

That parenthetical jumped out at me. Maybe it is just the part of your interests that you are least interesting in discussing or maybe it was a tongue-in-cheek way of highlighting a subject that you most certainly would be talking about, but without knowing more of your background it read as an attempt to downplay something that might be unpopular or threatening as you tip-toe into unknown waters. If that's the case, the feeling that feminist politics has to be mentioned with trepidation is in itself an argument for why you should talk about it.


I had no idea that vintage Mustangs were a trend for Urban Fantasy writers. Ha! Me? I blame my ex-boyfriend, Troy, for the 429 Cobra Jet obsession. He has a Cobra Jet (dropped into a 1971 Buick Riviera) and he took me out in it once. I fell in love with the engine on the spot. Vintage Mustangs are more readily available these days than a lot of other muscle cars.


"I can never forgive Tarantino for smashing up so many 1970 Challengers making the sub-par movie Deathproof."

LOL! I thought I was the only one who winced when they smash up a vintage muscle car on screen! You should've seen the faces I made while watching "Gone In 60 Seconds." What? Of course I watched that movie. It was research.


"Whether it ever goes off road is another question - I've not noticed any mud on it, but the owner might just give it a rinse down afterwards."

There are a ba-zillion of those around here. (People with giant SUVs that never see dirt or off-road.) They're really funny to watch when the roads ice over. They seem to get it into their heads that 4 Wheel Drive = invincible. That said, the biggest problem is that they're a big danger to everyone (including themselves) due to that attitude.


"Maybe it is just the part of your interests that you are least interesting in discussing or maybe it was a tongue-in-cheek way of highlighting a subject that you most certainly would be talking about, but without knowing more of your background it read as an attempt to downplay something that might be unpopular or threatening as you tip-toe into unknown waters."

Guilty as charged. I was concerned about making a mess of things. You see, like a lot of writers my base personality is shy. I work very hard to overcome it, but I do tend to tip-toe a bit in social situations among people I don't know.

"If that's the case, the feeling that feminist politics has to be mentioned with trepidation is in itself an argument for why you should talk about it."

I really love that. Thanks. Since we've already hit the Unavoidable Big Bad Topic of Doom(tm) on day two, well... I suspect we'll be just fine should I wander in that direction. (I do enjoy discussing gender politics and psychology.) Just understand that I live in Texas. Texas isn't exactly a hot bed of feminism. (Mind you, I live in the only very liberal city in Texas. I'm not completely mad.) Gods, do I ever miss Ann Richards.


One thing is very interesting about modern movies set decades ago is that back then its seems every car was spotless. Apparently nobody drove dirty cars with dents in them before about 1980.


And while we're on the subject of whiskies from unexpected places, I give you ... Adnam's Spirit of Broadside, which isn't.

Isn't a whisky, that is. It looks like one, true, but it's calling itself an 'eau de vie de biere', or a 'bierbrand'.

(That is it's only had 12 months in cask, and British law requires a minimum of 3 years for a whisky may be one reason for that. It also has hops in it, something a whisky doesn't.)

It's smoother and more coloured than the English Whisky Company's vaguely comparable product (grain spirit), but it does have an unexpected beery nose, properly reminiscent of Adnam's Broadside beer.


"Apparently nobody drove dirty cars with dents in them before about 1980."

LOL! Nice one.


Goes all petrolhead for a moment:

426 Hemi, not 427. The 427 was the side-oiler, made by Ford where the Hemi was a Chrysler engine.

Dave Robinson


Thanks for the clarification. :)


Well, that's correct, but I mentioned the Lewis distillery; they released a 2YO as "Spirit of Lewis" to get some cashflow whilst the Single Malt is still maturing.

99 - Since Charlie's on hols, I doubt anyone will object that much about some petrolhead chat, esp given that Stina and Moderator Alan (and his alter ego) are petrolheads as well. Can I claim a "Scottish and these are nearly a exotic as Ferraris and Porsches to me" on 1 CI?

"Can I claim a "Scottish and these are nearly a exotic as Ferraris and Porsches to me" on 1 CI?"

You certainly get a hall pass* from me.

  • Do teachers give 'hall passes' in school where you come from? They're officially issued by teachers to grant students permission to be outside the classroom during class hours--or were when I was a kid. But then we didn't have metal detecters and cops on school grounds. Although, we did have the school shootings. Ahem.**

** Don't get me started on making education scary and the school as prison thing.


Para 3 - We didn't have (or need) such a system back in the 1970s, but American culture is ubiquitous enough that most people will understand you. What we did have a pass system for was the school office could give us a pass giving us official permission to go into town during school hours. These would normally only be issued for dental or medical visits.



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This page contains a single entry by Stina Leicht published on December 5, 2012 4:54 PM.

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