JL Brazell & Evan Brown on 107.7 fm

“Why do you use your initials and not your first name”? Was the first question I asked JL Brazell when he and Evan Brown (pictured above) were guests on the latest edition of The Chanters Lodge Experience with the Milli Jam Ingredient ft George da Soulchild, (that’s our regular Sunday night radio show airing on Zambezi 107.7 fm Livingstone’s leading local radio station every Sunday at 20.30 hrs). “Because I got too old to fight”! Was his surprising reply. “Huh”? I responded. “My first name’s actually Joy” JL replied. “I see” I said and we moved on!

JL and Evan had been guests at Chanters Lodge for a few days, visiting Zambia to spend time with Jacob Sinangu and his family, which is huge. Why? Jacob has many children at his Heartspring Orphanage in Livingstone which JL, Evan and their church – Church Of Christ – in America have been helping to sponsor – 22 boys and 28 girls at the last count. Our guests updated listeners on the progress of the children at the orphanage and told us that Heartfelt had just started a section for girls, as well as boys, and appealed to listeners for any good second hand clothes for the little girls. Jacob is a graduate of African Christian College in Manzini.

JL told listeners he’d been retired for quite a long time and had just celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary with his dear wife Lorene. Evan is a nurse working in ER at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. “What did your parents think about you coming to Africa”? I asked Evan. “They told me not to get engaged no matter the number of cows on offer”! She replied, laughing. It was Evan’s first visit to Zambia but JL told listeners he’d been to this country 6 times before. He’d originally heard about Chanters Lodge from a friend at Namwianga Mission in Kalomo.

The music on the show was great! We opened with The Wanted’s smash ‘Lightning’ back to back with ‘Mr Wrong’ by Mary J Blige ft Drake. Milimo chose Kay’s ‘Phone’ (‘when your phone’s switched off your heart’s switched off’) as the first of his local track selection and coupled this with Dandy Crazy’s ‘Bed Sheet’. Dandy’s a hot property these days in Zambia following his pre-election smash ‘Donchi Kubeba’. Next up was Bruno Mars with ‘It Will Rain’ coupled with Charley Pride’s ‘Bottom Line’ from his new 2011 album ‘Choices’. (“Isn’t he the one that sang Kwa Liga”? JL asked me in an aside “indeed he is” I replied).

JL told listeners that his favourite type of music was country and western and his favourite artist Willie Nelson, Evan said she loved lots of different kinds of music but her favourite band was Coldplay – she couldn’t wait to get back to the States to buy their latest album. Asked where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing 10 years from now. JL replied predictably “alive, anywhere”! Whilst Evan said she would like to be married with children, living in Africa, and working in health care education. We hope their wishes come true!


A Family Affair

The Chanters Lodge Experience – our weekly Sunday night radio show broadcasting at 20.30 hrs on Zambezi 107.7 fm, Livingstone’s leading local radio station – was very much a family affair last Sunday! Why? Well two of the guests were Chanters – Mike (standing) and Alexandra (right) in the photo above – they were accompanied by their friend Cleo Kashimba. We had a lot of fun on the show! Mike, Alex and Cleo have been staying at Chanters in Livingstone for a few days – visiting after a long time away.
Mike, who raps under the name of ‘Liquid Danger’ told listeners that he’s still trying to make his way on the music scene in Lusaka and has recorded about 10 tracks with FlyBy Studios. He hopes to be able to release his first album soon, meanwhile he manages to perform shows in Lusaka most weekends. We featured one of his tracks called ‘Ngwila Mic’. When I asked what the words meant (it’s performed mostly in vernacular) the assembled company, including Milli Jam and George da Soulchild, co-hosts of the show, all looked at each other and smirked saying very little! Just imagine! I had to……..
“How did you meet these people“? Milli Jam asked Cleo. “I met Mike at FlyBy Studios in Lusaka” she replied “and Alexandra cos she’s Mike’s sister”. “Are you also a musician”? Milli Jam wanted to know. Cleo replied that she was and that she had recorded three songs in her one and a half years on the Lusaka music scene. We dropped one of her tracks ‘Manzi Na Pompey’ and all agreed that she has a great voice (and looks for that matter). She told listeners that she would like to go back to school soon to study law, while still furthering her musical career. “Are you married”? Milli Jam predictably wanted to know. Cleo giggled. “In a relationship”? He persisted. “It’s complicated”! She replied. “Facebook status” said Milli Jam.
Milli Jam asked Alex how long she’d been back in Zambia and what she was doing and she told listeners she’d been home since July and that she was on something of a gap year, having completed the South African equivalent of Grade 12 in 2010. She hoped to study journalism in the future with a view to working in the media and/or fashion. “Did you know Alex has also recorded a track”? Mike asked. We didn’t, Alex explained that the song was performed in Zulu (translated as ‘Lose Your Mind’), in which she was fluent.
The music on the show was good. We played ‘Princess of China’ by Coldplay ft Rihanna, back to back with Akon’s ‘Conspiracy’ at the top of the show. After Mike and Cleo’s tracks Milimo featured ‘You’re The Boss’ a great number from Rick Ross featuring Nicki Minaj coupled with ‘Loving You No More’ by Dirty Money featuring Drake. Our oldie of the week was Westlife’s ‘Flying Without Wings’ – an easy track for listeners to guess who the performing artists were. We ask this question every week and the first listener to text us the right answer wins a dinner for two with drinks at Chanters lodge. The prize was quickly won.
The show was interrupted by Charles Chulu, Station Manager of Zambezi fm (wearing a Man U shirt and a sad look 1-6) who proceeded, to my surprise, to present me with a framed certificate from the station for the ‘Most Innovative Contribution Award’. Nice – one assumes the cash will follow behind!! Seriously I was touched and grateful.
Alex told listeners her favourite musicians at the moment were Nicki Minaj, Adele and Corinne Bailey Rae, Mike was into Lil Wayne. Cleo opted for Rihanna and a local artist Mampi.

The guys had not had much time for activities while they’d been in Livingstone but they had featured on Muja Blaze’s show on Zambezi fm the previous day, and were lined up to play at Zambezi Sun the following day. They’d also done some clubbing. The three hoped to be able to take a walk with lions and cheetah’s before returning to Lusaka. Asked about where they would like to be and what they would like to be doing ten years from now, Cleo said ‘settled and successful around the world’, Mike ‘still on top and rich’ while Alex replied ‘married with two children, working, successful and independent’. Nice!


The English Countryside

My sister Ruth Binney’ new book Amazing and Extraordinary Facts – The English Countryside is newly published and gets a great review in the Dorset Echo. Here’s what the paper says:

“There is a certain fly that lays its eggs in cowpats. Nothing unusual about that, you might think – see a field of cows and you will find a plague of flies – but this particular insect manages to lay its eggs in the dung while it is actually en route from the cow to the ground.

It is split-second timing that’s hard to beat and just one of the many wonders of Britain’s natural world. A collection of fascinating facts about our landscape and the creatures and plants that inhabit it have been compiled in Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: The English Countryside, which is the ninth book published by best-selling Dorset author Ruth Binney.

From ‘snake stones’ and chalk figures to the ecology of cowpats and the malign reputation of the hedgehog and much more besides, the book is a delightful tome to dip in to at bedtime and an informative companion on country walks. “It has been such fun to put together and I am really thrilled with the book,” said Ruth, who lives in the shadow of the village church in West Stafford, near Dorchester.

“The only trouble was that every time I thought of an example of something, it was in Dorset but I wanted to be more even-handed so I deliberately looked further afield. “I started writing down the facts that I knew were amazing and extraordinary, but my main aim was to turn the book into a detective story so as well as finding things out, people could use it to help them interpret the landscape.”

Ruth grew up with a deep love of and fascination for the countryside, which stemmed from the walks her mother would take her on as a child when the family lived near Tiverton in Devon. She went on to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge and moved to London where she worked as an editor for Readers’ Digest. She is now happily settled in Dorset, a county she loves.

“It is so beautiful and I love it because it is so varied,” she said. “You have the coast and the fields, landscapes and wood – it’s all here.” Amazing and Extraordinary Facts is a treasure trove of informative and quirky titbits.
“I think the book is a really lovely mix of history and archaeology, folk lore and natural history and they are all things that appeal to me,” said Ruth.

Some parts of it are popular on a grand scale while other nuggets of information may be common knowledge to a few people who, like Ruth, have a deep understanding of rural life and landscape. “Learning where names come from is always popular,” she said. “There is a village near Dorchester called Troytown and the word ‘troy’ means a turf maze. I don’t know where it comes from – maybe it is religious and people walked round mazes as an aid to meditation. Today, of course, we have maize mazes, which are great fun.

“A lot of people are also interested in lost villages. We have Tyneham here in Dorset, of course, but there is also a place near Sheffield where a river was dammed to make a reservoir and a village was flooded. In the summer when the water levels drop, you can see the remains of the village. “There are also lots of stories of well-dressing, such as we do in Upwey.”

The effects of people’s presence on the landscape are inescapable. There are the barrows that undulate along the horizon, the standing stones and henges, such as Stonehenge and Avebury, ancient hedges that criss-cross the landscape and the flint tools regularly unearthed while gardening and ploughing. Their origins all make fascinating reading.

We continue to mark the land, not just with new roads and developments, but also through conservation practises such as the building of beetle banks on arable land, which offer a safe haven for insects and attract the creatures that feed upon them. Aspects of the natural world make up a large part of Ruth’s book, which is packed with wildlife lore concerning all sorts of creatures.

“The woolly pig is a popular one,” said Ruth. “It was apparently a fierce pig and may have had its origins in a pig that had a curly coat. “Pigs have always been a large part of human culture. In the old days everybody had a pig and in Celtic times they were worshipped, which is the complete antithesis of the unclean animal of legend. “There are also the big cats, of course. I haven’t seen one but I know people whose word I trust who have seen them.”

Big cats make an appearance in Ruth’s book, where she writes ‘since 2005 there have been more than 500 eyewitness accounts, some backed up with convincing photographs of animals dubbed by Natural England as ‘exotic, non-native and unidentified’, of which 38 were big cats.’ However, she does add a warning coda: ‘Everything is not always as it seems. One animal seen in Norfolk and alleged to be a big cat actually turned out on closer investigation to be a big badger’.

Badgers themselves, ancient, secretive and lumbering, are given space under the heading ‘nature’s gravediggers’. Folklore has it that they bury their own dead and that their ‘funeral parties’ make ‘wailing noises akin to human weeping’. Unfortunately, most of us only get to see badgers that have been killed on our roads, their fatal fascination with Tarmac due to the fact that they instinctively follow ancient tracks that are now criss-crossed with carriageways.

“The book has been really good fun to work on,” said Ruth. “There was so much stuff I had to choose from I could have just gone on and on. “I think that even if you do know a lot about the countryside, the book will add to your enjoyment and you will get more out of your walks. “I hope people will see the book as a way of helping them interpret the countryside and draw their attention to things that they might not otherwise notice. Hopefully it will show them how important it is to preserve it.”

• Amazing and Extraordinary Facts: The English Countryside is published by David and Charles and costs £9.99.


Penny Black Restaurant, Chelsea, London

Loved this from my son Jan, Head Chef, in the latest newsletter from The Penny Black. Jan is pictured with his wife Jo on Livingstone Island during a visit to Zambia. He writes:

What a start to the life of The Penny Black Restaurant! We have lost count as to how many Beef Wellingtons have been served and the countless number of chocolate fondants that have been eaten! Our first private hire event for doctors from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital went spectacularly well and we are looking forward to working with future clients.

Spring is now upon us and that means plentiful new ingredients.

I have a lovely recipe for a rump of lamb with warm new potato salad and sprouting broccoli which you should have a go at when you have a few moments spare!

– Marinate the rump in sliced onion, garlic and a few thinly chopped rosemary leaves for a few hours.

– Boil the new potatoes in plenty of salted water and whilst boiling, mix together cider vinegar, rapeseed oil, English mustard and chopped mint to make a dressing.

– Once the potatoes are cooked, toss the still warm potatoes through this dressing. Remove the lamb from the marinade, sear it in a pan on all sides, then put it in the oven at about 1900C for 12 minutes for rare and up to 16 minutes for medium.

– Blanch the sprouting broccoli in boiling water for a minute and a half, drain and add a knob of butter and a sprinkling of salt.

Thanks Jan!


Chilli Pickle, Brighton

Our vacations in UK are usually spent, for the most part in Brighton, where my son Ed is based – a fair amount of eating out is usually involved! So, this piece on HotelChatter caught my eye – the name too – chilli pickle happens to be brilliantly made in Zambia by Rivonia and was the subject of a previous blog post. Can’t wait to try the restaurant next time we’re in Brighton.

“The ever-burgeoning London hotel scene may have most of our attention at the moment, but we’re far from immune to the charms of Brighton, especially with the news that one of our favorite fun hotels there, myhotel Brighton, has just opened a restaurant devoted to one of our favorite foods: curry.

Not just any restaurant, either – it’s the new site for The Chilli Pickle, which won the prize for most innovative restaurant at last year’s British Curry Awards, and received two AA rosettes and a Michelin BiB Gourmand thing too. The restaurant got all its plaudits (and rave TripAdvisor reviews) in its old location in Meetings House Lane but it’s now upped sticks to the hotel, and opened its doors Monday.

It’s owned by the same team and will have the same menu as before, as well as introducing some new dishes from a recent trip to India.

Prices are really reasonable, too: vegetable dishes from £3.50, mains from £6.95 and thalis for £9.95 for lunch and from £12.95 for dinner. The one to go for? The new Mutton Laal Mans – pieces of mutton in hot red chilli gravy from Rajasthan, courtesy of their latest trip.


Vivien Eva Chanter 1914-2007

Today is the 4th anniversary of my mother’s death at the ripe old age of 93. She passed away peacefully in Dorchester, England on 19th March 2007 and is still sadly missed by the whole family.

My parents lived most of their married lives in Devon and loved walking and rambling – the photo shows my late mother on one such occasion.


Dinner at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

A long, long time ago I did my bar training at the Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge. It is of course now known as the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park (above) and is home to Dinner Heston Blumenthal’s latest restaurant. So, this piece in Hotel Chatter obviously caught my attention – more especially as my son Jan is the newly appointed Head Chef at The Penny Black restaurant in Fulham Road London, opening next week. We certainly hope his advance bookings are as good as Heston’s!

Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant Dinner has already been named “best new restaurant in the world” by restaurant critic Giles Coren in The Times. London’s most eagerly awaited restaurant located in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park only opened its doors last week but it’s already fully booked until the end of May.

Not surprising as the reviewers and bloggers have wasted no time gushing over the medieval menu which features Meat Fruit – a chicken liver dish shaped like a plastic mandarin, Powdered Duck, Spiced Pigeon and Tipsy Cake, a “spit-roast pineapple” (ooh-err). To see the full menu, head over to the restaurant’s website. Yes, a lot of it sounds pretty gross, but then, so did most of his molecular gastronomy stuff that we tried at the Fat Duck (his flagship restaurant in Bray, Berkshire), and it was nothing less than amazeballs. Plus, there’s always chips for those who like to play it safe.

The Telegraph’s critic rated it 10/10, Londonist agreed with Coren, Time Out gave it four out of five stars, and even the Guardian thought the food was worth paying for.

Which leads us on to the price. Dinner at Dinner isn’t cheap, but it’s not half as bad as we feared. Starters run from £12.50 and most main courses are around the £30 mark. Desserts are from £8, and sides are a ridiculously cheap £4. The wine’s not horrific, either: from £35 a bottle. As we said, not a night out for when the budget’s tight, but the prices are in line with other posh London restaurants. And by way of comparison, the famed 13 course tasting menu at the Fat Duck costs £160 per head.

But there’s an amazing deal if you can’t splash out on dinner: a three course set lunch for just £28. Yup, £28. Available Monday to Friday, 12-2.30pm. There are two choices for each course: lemon salad or “ragoo of pigs’ ears” to start, cured salmon or roast quail for your main, and chocolate wine or orange buttered loaf for dessert.

You need to plan ahead, though. According to the website, Dinner is now booked up until the end of May, and they’ll be opening up reservations for June on 1 March. If you need to get in before then, you can apply to be on the waiting list or, if desperation calls, you can buy other people’s rezzies on eBay. When we checked, the highest price was £62 although one sold last week for just short of £100.


Weather in Wiltshire

My sister Ruth (above) was on BBC Radio 4 in UK on Saturday talking about the weather, the subject of her latest book. Here’s what ‘Open Country‘ was all about!

“As a nation, we are obsessed with the weather. Studies have shown that over half of us talk about the weather at least once day and check the forecast regularly before making plans and heading out. We despair when it rains, we swoon in the sun, we can’t bear the sight of clouds in the sky, yet we hate the thought of hosepipe bans and appear to be spectacularly unprepared for extreme weather events, even when expected or forecast. The weather certainly seems to matter to most of us, but is extremely important to some those whose livelihoods and way of life can depend on the forecast. And for centuries, we’ve tried to predict the weather by looking at the sky above us and the landscape around us – the different ways in which plants, animals and the countryside around us can give us clues about what is coming and reflects what has been.

For this week’s Open Country, Helen Mark is in Wiltshire to find out about the ways in which the weather gets under our skin and impacts on our lives and on the landscape around us. Helen hears from meteorologist, Liz Bentley, about how her own obsession with the weather led to her setting up the Weather Club, an organisation for like minded souls who appreciate the weather for all its wonders. Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society explains how our lives would be immeasurably poorer without the clouds in the sky above us. Wiltshire farmer, Stephen Horton, has been collecting rainfall data for the last 25 years, having taken over from his father who did the same for 25 years before him and Helen also hears from National Trust Conservation Advisor about how Wiltshire has coped with the extreme weather conditions seen earlier this winter and how traditional seasons can actually help our flora and fauna.

Helen is joined by Ruth Binney, author of Wise Words and Country Ways to put to the test some of those centuries old countryside theories and sayings that we have used to predict the weather we get. Finally astrologer, David Rowan, explains how how astrology and the ancient wonder of Stonehenge have been used to predict the weather and the changing seasons.”

Great stuff Ruth!


Penny Black Restaurant, Chelsea, London.

As you may have seen earlier in the week, my son Jan-Martijn has recently been appointed Head Chef at Penny Black Restaurant in Fulham Road, Chelsea. Opening is scheduled for the 3rd week in February, so you can imagine the hectic pace of his life at the moment. The photo of Chef doing dangerous things at Victoria Falls was taken some years back! I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the menu and I’ve chosen the following to tickle your taste buds!

London Particular
As I haven’t a clue what it is!

Mussels & Cockles, Cider & Mustard Broth, Carrots, Kohlrabi & Cress
It reminded me of Sweet Molly Malone as she walked the streets broad and narrow – and the dish sounds thoroughly exotic

Pigs Head Terrine, Pear Chutney, Toast Brawn sounding favourite and I love pears – and chutney for that matter!

Ginger Pig Sausages & Mashed Potatoes

Roast Lemon Chicken, Bread Sauce & Vegetables
A firm favourite, especially the Bread Sauce

Pigeon Pie, Bacon and Red Cabbage
Something I’ve never eaten but sounds very ‘London’

Chocolate & Rum Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream
Just this thanks very much!

Made your mouth water? I bet it has!

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