Take one easy-listening songstress, mix with a chilled-out French jazz vibe and blend in a unique ancient venue and surely you’ve got the perfect recipe for summer concert success?
I had high hopes as I made my way through the winding streets of Vienne to see Norah Jones headline the town’s renowned annual jazz festival. Despite tickets priced at a punchy €45, the event was a sell-out, with touts lining the route to the venue: Europe’s largest Roman amphitheatre.
Those in the know had clearly arrived early to secure a seat, while the rest of the 3,000-strong crowd – my party included – clambered up the narrow steps to a high-altitude area or simply perched precariously on the crumbling walls. But as the sun set behind the stage and the more well-prepared members of the audience tucked into their cheese and wine picnics, it became clear that the real star of this show was the venue.
Norah’s innocuous strumming and dulcet tones were little more than background in the cavernous semi-circular amphitheatre. Even her most adoring fans must admit that she seemed somewhat dwarfed by the occasion – and her rudimentary French didn’t help engage the crowd.
Although her big hits – Come Away With Me and Don’t Know Why – were pleasingly familiar highlights, she was never going to emerge completely victorious. Norah lives to perform another day, but it was Vienne’s spectacular amphitheatre that held us enthralled.
The Toastabag 500 from Lakeland gets tried and toasted, Hollywood-style.
If you’ve seen the 2004 blockbuster The Bourne Supremacy, you’ll already know that the easiest way to create a timed explosion at short notice is to disconnect a mains gas pipe and shove a rolled-up magazine into a toaster.
This gives you just enough time to scarper before the smouldering copy of Country Life blows your enemy’s gaffe sky-high. Neat.
Now, although I haven’t had cause to set off incendiary devices in kitchens recently, I have had the urge to make a deliciously toasted cheese sandwich. So it was with some trepidation – and memories of Matt Damon’s kitchen-based bomb-making – that I read the instructions on my new Toastabag 500: “Just prepare a sandwich as normal, put it in the bag and then pop the bag into the toaster.”
How could this be? Could I really stuff a small plastic bag into a hot toaster? Surely it would be a matter of seconds before I was engulfed in acrid smoke and left to watch in vain as my iroko worktops were reduced to a pile of charcoal.
With a steely nerve that would have impressed Agent Bourne himself, I slid my limp cheese sandwich inside the Toastabag, dropped it into the slot and shoved down the button.
Lo and behold – minutes later a perfectly formed cheese toastie popped up. Such is the miracle of the toastabag – and all without the need for an unsightly Breville contraption or a special agent in a flame-retardant pinny.