Cocktail Time: Valencian Orange

Summer is here! Warm sunny days, late nights, relaxing by the pool. Paddling pool, that is, as travel is still something out of reach for most of us at the moment. But never fear: Platinum Al is here with the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a balmy evening as you watch the sun go down.

The Valencian Orange cocktail can be a potent concoction, as you can tell from the ingredients. It should, of course, be made with freshly squeezed Valencian oranges, but as that’s a bit impossible at the moment, regular freshly squeeezed will have to do.

Valencian Orange Cocktail

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Sugar
  • Cava
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice

You’ll need a large glass (see the big wine glass in the picture for reference). Add one measure of vodka, one measure of gin, and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Next, pour in a generous amount of Cava. There’s no specified measure for this, so play around with it to your taste. I’d aim for a small glass of wine’s worth for starters. You can play around with all of these measures to get your preferred taste.

Finally, top up with the freshly squeezed orange juice, et voila – one Valencian Orange cocktail.

TIP: The cava and the orange juice both need to be chilled (or ice cold) – as ice cubes will melt and water down the taste.

In the accompanying photo, you’ll notice that the glasses feature a sugared rim. This is really just for appearances. You can recreate this with grenadine and sugar, mixed on a plate – which you then place the rim of the glass into, upside down. Obviously, do this part of the creation before you put the liquid in the glass…

Now you’re free to enjoy this great cocktail. It’s refreshing, fruity and potentially heady, all in one drink. Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Spanish Caravan by The Doors, Gipsy Kings, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Valencia. I stole this recipe from an episode of Travel Man, starring one of my heroes, Richard Ayoade.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #22

Time for another twenty slices of 7 inch vinyl goodness, with Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!

You know what that means: an evening of me playing through a stack of vinyl singles, one after the other, whilst imbibing the booze. It’s more fun than it sounds, honest! There are untold treasures in my pile of records waiting to be rediscovered – plus a few duds that should be consigned to the pop junk pile.

Join me now, on yet another daring voyage into my vinyl collection…

  1. Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al” / “Gumboots”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Hey Lawdy Mama” / “Twisted”
  3. Steppenwolf – “Born to be Wild” / “The Pusher”
  4. Iggy Pop – “Livin’ on the Edge of the Night” / “The Passenger”
  5. C.W. McCall – “Convoy” / “Long Lonesome Road”
  6. Belinda Carlisle – “Do You Feel Like I Feel?” / “Do You Feel Like I Feel? (Dance Mix)”
  7. The Dave Clark Five – “Glad All Over” / “I Know You”
  8. Chris Montez – “Let’s Dance” / Lonnie Mack – “Memphis”
  9. Dion & The Belmonts – “A Teenager in Love” / “I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)”
  10. Hank Williams – “Honky Tonk Blues” / “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” / “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it” / “Baby, We’re Really in Love”
  11. Slade – “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” / “Kill ‘Em at the Hot Club Tonite”
  12. M – “Pop Muzik” / “M Factor”
  13. Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra – “Somethin’ Stupid” / Frank Sinatra – “Call Me”
  14. Kylie Minogue – “What Do I Have to do” / “What Do I Have to do (Instrumental)”
  15. Queen – “You’re My Best Friend” / “’39”
  16. 10cc – “I’m not in Love” / “Good News”
  17. Rod Stewart – “Ain’t Love a Bitch” / “Scarred and Scared”
  18. David Bowie – “Sound and Vision” / “A New Career in a New Town”
  19. Eagles – “Witchy Woman” / “Earlybird”
  20. The Sweet – “Hell Raiser” / “Burning”

Well, I had to own a copy of that Paul Simon classic, right? And the Slade B-side is tantalisingly close to hot tub, though I wouldn’t want Noddy and pals murdering anyone in my Virtual Hot Tub.

A couple of Steppenwolf killers there: look at that Easy Rider style double A side! One of the most underrated bands ever. I was lacking an Iggy single in my collection, hence that purchase – but didn’t realise that “The Passenger” was on the B-side. That’s definitely going in my jukebox, when I get one.

Regular readers will know how much I adore the lovely Belinda Carlisle. That single is a picture disc, with a bonus photo and frame (see pic) – not bad for a 50p charity shop purchase. On the other hand, I’ve never rated Kylie (I much prefer her sister, phwooar!) – but that tune’s not bad.

With some legendary country and pop – not to mention awesome tunes from Queen, Bowie and Sweet – that’s a pretty damn fine playlist. “Convoy” was one of my earliest favourite songs, by the way.

I’ll be back soon with another Singles Night – stay tuned!

Hawarden Limerick

Several years ago, I wrote some poetry on a course I attended. Nothing serious, just having a bash. I’ve posted some of them before. This time, I thought I would share with you a limerick, which I hope will both amuse and entertain. And don’t worry, this composition is family friendly.

As a note of explanation, the village of Hawarden is situated near where I live, in North Wales. The name is pronounced “harden”, to rhyme with “garden”. It’s a nice place. Here is my poetic tribute:

 

Hawarden Limerick

There was an old man from Hawarden

Who had a monkey in his back garden

The monkey, so rude

Played with his food

And he never once said pardon.

 

I thank you.

 

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #21

I promised you lucky readers more Singles Night fun soon – and here you go. Another twenty 7″ vinyl singles, played one after the other, to create this sensational playlist.

Pour yourself a drink and join me, as we delve into the deep recesses of my thus far unplayed record collection for a night of rock’n’roll mayhem. Prepare to have your socks well and truly rocked…

  1. Chris Cornell – “Patience” / “Nothing Compares ” U”
  2. Sweet Apple – “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change)” / “Dead Moon (Demo Version)”
  3. ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All” / “Elaine”
  4. The Knack – “My Sharona” / “Let Me Out”
  5. Free – “Wishing Well” / “Let Me Show You”
  6. Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back in Town” / “Emerald”
  7. Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me” / “Clock Strikes Ten”
  8. The Who – “5.15” / “Water”
  9. Bachman Turner Overdrive – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” / “Free Wheelin'”
  10. The Beach Boys – “Break Away” / “Celebrate the News”
  11. Stakker – “Humanoid” / “Humanoid (Part 2)”
  12. Flying Lizards – “Money” / “TV”
  13. Faith No More – “Anne’s Song” / “Greed”
  14. Hi Tek 3 ft. Ya Kid K – “Spin That Wheel (Turtles Get Real) 7″ Pizza Mix” / “7” Pizza Dub Mix”
  15. Phil Collins – “In the Air Tonight” / “The Roof is Leaking”
  16. Forrest – “Rock the Boat” / “Loving You”
  17. Stan Ridgway – “Camouflage” / “Rio Greyhound”
  18. Ella Fitzgerald – “Desafinado” / “Stardust (Bossa Nova)”
  19. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Green River” / “Commotion”
  20. Python Lee Jackson – “In a Broken Dream” / “Boogie Woogie Joe”

Boom! What a great collection. My favourite Who song, Thin Lizzy’s best (?), BTO and Free. That Knack song is, of course, a classic – as is the Cheap Trick track. All were from a record fair (remember those?) if I recall correctly.

That Faith No More song is their very worst, by an otherwise spectacular band. I’m no Phil Collins fan really, but that track is pretty good, admit it. Throw in Flying Lizards and The Beach Boys and you’ve got a helluva playlist. And if you don’t love “Camouflage” there must be something wrong with you.

The Chris Cornell was a Record Store Day special which I picked up from VOD records in Mold. Great shop who also organised the record fair I mentioned above. Check them out here.

Till next time – keep rockin’!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #20

Here we go with the first Singles Night of 2021! The Virtual Hot Tub is ecstatic with anticipation for the return of these playlists.

What’s it all about? Well, I’m glad you asked. The singles in question are 45rpm vinyl singles, which I have accumulated over time from various sources. The plan: listen to the records, side A then side B, one after the other without skipping any in the pile. Whilst drinking booze.

Let’s see how I got on this time…

  1. The Temptations – “Psychedelic Shack” / “That’s the Way Love Is”
  2. Queen – “Killer Queen” / “Flick of the Wrist”
  3. Buzzcocks – “I Don’t Mind” / “Autonomy”
  4. The Clash – “Bankrobber” / “Rockers Galore… UK Tour”
  5. The Clash – “Complete Control” / “City of the Dead”
  6. The Damned – “History of the World Part 1” / “I Believe the Impossible” / “Sugar & Spite”
  7. Skids – “Sweet Suburbia” / “Open Sound”
  8. The Beach Boys – “Mona” / “Rock and Roll Music” / “Sail on Sailor” / “Marcella”
  9. ABBA – “Head Over Heels” / “The Visitors”
  10. Bananarama – “Cheers Then” / “Girl About Town”
  11. The Belle Stars – “Sign of the Times” / “Madness”
  12. Chicory Tip – “Son of My Father” / “Pride Comes Before a Fall”
  13. John Farnham – “You’re the Voice” / “Going, Going, Gone”
  14. Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour” / “Don’t Know Why I Love You”
  15. Bardo – “One Step Further” / “Lady of the Night”
  16. The Motors – “Love and Loneliness” / “Time for Make-Up”
  17. Hot Chocolate – “So You Win Again” / “A Part of Being with You”
  18. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” / “Screw You”
  19. Blondie – “The Tide is High” / “Susie and Jeffrey”
  20. Slade – “We’ll Bring the House Down” / “Hold on to Your Hats”

Twenty – count ’em – twenty great tracks. Well, mostly. A solid offering from the world of punk rock in that collection, with the Buzzcocks, Clash, Damned and Skids singles all being salvaged from a local charity shop. Lucky day.

I had a great night spinning these discs, there are some really awesome records to add to the collection there. Time for more soon. Stay tuned!

The Best of 2020

Well, that was a mad old year, wasn’t it? 2020 was more like a bizarre disaster movie than the regular fun ride that we’re used to. A pandemic made hermits of us all; working from home became the new normal for many and travel and events ceased to exist. A year from hell for most of us, though it’s far from over yet.

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, we’ve aimed to soldier on and bring you the very best in blogging entertainment. Be it music, skateboards, toys or tat, whatever nonsense I could investigate was delivered with all the expected wit and style.

As is customary at this time, let’s take a look back at the top ten most popular blog posts of last year. Calling it “The Best of 2020” seems somewhat incongruous, but let’s roll with it for traditions sake.

10. Haiku – Autumn

An encouraging response to my creative writing, I was very surprised to see that this poetry piece in the Japanese Haiku style was my tenth most-read post of the year. Encore?

9. Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

There was a distinct lack of live music in 2020 (Obviously), but quite a few album reviews for my old pals at Ever Metal. This review of Swedish doom metal band Firebreather’s album was the most read at the Virtual Hot Tub.

8. Halloween Horror Fest 2020

The first of my annual horror movie reviews of 2020, this one featured the Hammer version of Dracula.

7. The Best of 2019

I’m not sure if last years top 10 blogs appearing here is a good thing or not? Either way, 2019’s round up of the most popular blogs was a winner.

6. STYLE: Safari Jacket

2020 saw the materialisation of the long-promised STYLE section at the Virtual Hot Tub. This first blog, concerning the wonderful Safari jacket, got us off to a great start.

5. Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

A feature about some of my favourite skate art, as created by the super talented Liane Plant for Death skateboards. Awesome stuff.

4. SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

More skateboard based action, with a playlist of songs from my skating youth in the late 80’s. Full of stone-cold classics, these songs still inspire my sessions today.

3. Death Star Playset

I love my vintage Death Star playset. Setting it up with original Star Wars figures for some blog photos was a lot of fun, it’s great to see it was popular!

2. 1980s Skateboard Style

More skateboarding, and another successful entry for the STYLE section! It’s me, dressed in old skate clothes from the late 80s that still fit (or did, before lockdown).

…And what will be the most popular, widely read blog of 2020? Drum roll, please:

  1. Kantouni Village Sausage and Tzatziki

Yes, the most popular was this food blog, which benefitted from a genuine traditional recipe, and an idea to recreate a Greek holiday vibe with ingredients from the local supermarket.

As travel wasn’t happening this year for most of us, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Greek recipe blog came out on top. It was written as an ode to holidays and Mediterranean sunshine, something that wasn’t a possibility for many last year. I hope you found some nostalgic comfort from this post.

Usually my annual Top 10 has featured a load of comic con events – or similar – at the top of the list. Those events didn’t happen this year, so the Top 10 has a very different flavour. Who knows what 2021 will bring us?

Whatever the strange pan-dimensional cross flux of crazy brings us next, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog. Please remember to pop by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub as soon as you can!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #19

Hit singles! All time classic songs! Novelty throw-away rubbish! From the cool to the crap, it’s all to be found at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub on a Singles Night.

You see, what I do is, listen to a pile of old 7 inch singles that have been languishing in my “not played yet” pile. They could have come from anywhere: genuine gems that I’ve tracked down; record fair lucky finds; or – more likely – junk I find in charity shops.

Pour yourself a drink and check this list out. Do you own any of these on vinyl? What are your favourites? What should be consigned to a fiery pit and melted down?

  1. Kim Wilde – “You Came” / “Stone”
  2. Louis Armstrong – “All the Time in the World” / “Pretty Little MIssy”
  3. The Hollies – “The Air That I Breathe” / “No More Riders”
  4. Duran Duran – “The Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
  5. Bananarama – “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” / “Push!”
  6. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” / “Heroes and Villains”
  7. Justin Hayward – “Forever Autumn” / “The Fighting Machine”
  8. The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star” / “Kid Dynamo”
  9. ABBA – “Angeleyes” / “Voulez-Vous”
  10. The Creatures – “Miss the Girl” / “Hot Springs in the Snow”
  11. Blondie – “Rapture” / “Walk Like Me”
  12. Bobby Patrick Band – “Dallas Theme” / “The Waltons Theme”
  13. The Beatles – “The Ballad of John and Yoko” / “Old Brown Shoe”
  14. Goombay Dance Band – “Seven Tears” / “Mama Coco”
  15. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” / “Wandering Stranger”
  16. Donna Summer – “Dim All the Lights” / “There Will Always Be a You”
  17. Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to…” / “Brilliance”
  18. Allan Sherman – “Mexican Hat Dance” / “Won’t You Come Home Disraeli?”
  19. Earth, Wind and Fire – “Let’s Groove” / “Let’s Groove (Instrumental)”
  20. Pointer Sisters – “I’m so Excited” / “What a Surprise”

Some classics indeed. Another great night of a couple of small drinkies and spinning wax: I recommend it to anyone.

Haiku – Autumn

It’s not all crazy fun and games here at the Virtual Hot Tub. No sir. Sometimes, I like to exercise my intellectual side, provide warm nourishment for my creativity. It’s a good balance to the exciting rock’n’roll existence I lead most days.

So here I present a Haiku I wrote a while back, on a course, which is appropriate for this time of year. Enjoy.

Autumn

Leaves fall from the trees

The children return to school

The nights grow darker

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #18

 

Join me once again, relaxing in the waters of the Virtual Hot Tub, for Singles Night.  No,  this is not a dating event: rather, it’s just me, spinning a stack of – as yet – unplayed 7 inch vinyl.  Combined with reasonably heavy drinking.

You see, there’s a load of 45 rpm records that I own and need to play.  So I play ’em, one after the other, side a then B.  No skipping discs allowed.

Here’s the playlist from the latest evening of tunes:

  1. Hawkwind – “Silver Machine” / “Seven By Seven”
  2. Diana Ross – “My Old Piano” / “Where Did We Go Wrong”
  3. Slade – “My Friend Stan” / “My Town”
  4. Paul Paray & Detroit Symphony Orchestra – ” The Ride of the Valkyries” / “Lohengrin (Prelude to Act I)”
  5. Barry White – “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up” / “Standing in the Shadows of Love”
  6. Tracey Ullman – “Breakaway” / “Dancing in the Dark”
  7. Toto Coelo – “I Eat Cannibals Part 1” / “I Eat Cannibals Part 2”
  8. Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain” / “Anticipation”
  9. The Beach Boys – “Lady Lynda” / “Full Sail”
  10. The Cars – “Drive” / “Stranger Eyes”
  11. Duran Duran – “My Own Way” / “Like an Angel”
  12. Sinitta – “So Macho!” / “Cruising”
  13. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Private Eyes” / “Tell Me What You Want”
  14. Cockney Rebel – “Mr Soft” / “Such a Dream”
  15. Paul Hardcastle – “The Wizard (Part 1)” / “The Wizard (Part 2)”
  16. Roxy Music – “Dance Away” / “Cry Cry Cry”
  17. Robert Palmer – “Some Guys Have All the Luck” / “Too Good to be True”
  18. Emerson Lake & Palmer – “Fanfare for the Common Man” / “Brain Salad Surgery”
  19. Bangles – “Eternal Flame” / “What I Meant to Say”
  20. Kim Wilde & Junior – “Another Step (Closer to You)” / “Hold Back”
  21. Mud – “Tiger Feet” / “Mr Bagatelle”
  22. Status Quo – “Something ‘Bout You Baby I Like” / “Enough is Enough”
  23. Sister Sledge – “Lost in Music” / “Thinking of You”
  24. Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip – “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper” / “Do, Do, Do”

BOOM!  There you go – a right random collection of singles, varying from the classic to the down right cheesy.  Kicking off with the amazing Hawkwind track “Silver Machine”, as sung by my old mate Lemmy – I picked that up at a record fair ‘cos I had to have it in my collection.

I loved The Cars and Roxy songs, sheer class.  Plus you’ve got a harem of some of my favourite pop ladies with Kim Wilde, Susanna Hoffs and Sinitta all present and correct.  By the way, the Sarah Brightman song was a favourite of mine when I was 5 years old, thanks to the rip-off Star Wars noises etc!

And what can I say about “Ride of the Valkyries” on 7 inch vinyl?  Only “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

See you soon for another Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub!

STYLE: the Safari Jacket

STYLE.  Some of us have it, some of us don’t.  Some of us get it, some of us won’t.  Whether you’re born with STYLE or whether you’re working hard to acquire it, Platinum Al is here to help.  In this long-promised, much anticipated, new ongoing feature, I will share with you the secrets of STYLE.

Buckle up, compadre – this is gonna be a wild ride…

In this first STYLE instalment, let’s take a look at a classic male garment that’s sadly no longer seen as regularly as it should be.  Once an absolute essential for everyone from International Playboy to game show host, this forgotten wardrobe requirement is overdue a reappraisal.

The Safari Jacket: easily identified by the pockets – usually four; accompanied by epaulets and often a belt.  These features were originally military in design, with the aim being to hold supplies.  Lightweight and comfy, yet also practical and smart, it offers the ideal jacket for the adventurer in warmer weather.

The greatest exponent of this style is the late Sir Roger Moore.  As secret agent James Bond, 007, Moore was seen in numerous films not just in the de rigueur dinner suit but also several different Safari suits.  When you factor in his appearances in The Saint and The Persuaders, we have one of the legendary purveyors of this look.  No one is more stylish than Bond!

Roger Moore was my inspiration for adopting the Safari jacket, but let’s not forget many other stars who wore these garments.  Christopher Lee; Clark Gable; Clint Eastwood; Francis Ford Coppola; Richard Attenborough; Sid James and others in Carry On Up The Jungle.

Though the jacket is inherently macho in its Hemingway bravado, we’re not celebrating the hunter with this look so much as paying homage to those heroes of 70s and 80s film and TV.

My personal collection of Safari jackets, seen here, include beige numbers (short and long sleeved versions) and light blue.

I often team these jackets up with a light shirt – Hawaiian for that extra Tiki vibe – though plain works fine.  As these photos attest, I have even gone bare chested underneath said garment in warmer climes (not something I would recommend style wise).  Alternatively, try adding a cravat for that final touch of class.

The Safari jacket: whether it’s cocktails or action – this is the summer jacket for you.