Jan. 4th, 2008

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In The Tummy Trilogy, the humorist Calvin Trillin complains that whenever he comes to town to give readings, his hosts always take him to the "Casa de la Maison House" for the best French food in <insert Midwestern town here>, but he really wants to go to the place where they went with their buddies when they got back from Vietnam. My motivations for avoiding the Casa de la Maison House are even more compelling: no way would my boss ever sign off on the expense claim.

Anyhow, there's no point in my reviewing posh restaurants -- you don't need me to tell you that the Fat Duck will put a big stupid grin on your face, or that Anthony's in Leeds has fabulous food but less atmosphere than Mars, or that if you're after the platonic ideal of "dinner with friends" then you should leave your cave and proceed directly to Chez Bruce. But what about if you're on a budget? Where can you eat and still plausibly claim the bill on expenses afterwards? Herewith my personal lone-traveller-with-limited-expense-account awards...

Best Restaurant Award )

Overworked But Useful Idea Award )

Not That Kind of Indian Award )

Home From Home Award )

Billy No-Mates Award )

Pub Heaven Award )

Gastro Desert Award )

Surprising Breakfast Award )

Wildly Eccentric Breakfast Award )

Got any city-centre recommendations for me to try in 2008? Of course you have! Go on, post a comment...
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Some while ago, in a comment, I mentioned to [livejournal.com profile] juggzy that I'd written a program that used M*cr*s*ft Live Earth to generate random walks on a real map. It's great for photography practice: "go for this walk, and take five photos as near as you can to each of the stops". In a moment of unwarranted enthusiasm, I even promised to supply the code, but then I looked at the code, and, er, well.

Anyway, I rediscovered the application over Christmas. After I'd thrown it away and started again from scratch, I had a web page that could generate random walks, beer-glass walks and even themed walks (of which pub-crawls would be the canonical example, but you could do church-crawls or even Dixons-crawls if you really wanted to).

The user interface is appalling, and I make no claims for the code, other than "if you think that's bad, you should have seen version one", but it seems to more or less work. Try it out for yourself. Oh, and if it auto-generates you a suicidal walk: say "down the M4, across a minefield and then over a cliff", I disclaim all responsibility.

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