Monday, December 24, 2007
Still working on them, but this is what I've come up with so far:
1. Learn Italian
Am planning to go to Italy a lot in 2008, so want to feel more immersed and at home there. Am also embarrassed that it's not as good as it should be.
2. Lose 1.5 stone in weight
Have lost some weight in 2007, but not enough.
3. Go to more gigs
Am sick of looking in mags and newspapers and saying 'I wish I'd gone to that'
4. Run a 10K run every month
I need a target or I simply won't bother running. Plus think it will help with (2.)
5. Learn to draw
I've always been rubbish, but have have huge admiration for people who can.
Yesterday I ran another 10K run. It started at 9am just outside Epsom and was so cold that bits of ice started to form in your hair when you were standing around. Thanks to the help of my running partner and acting personal trainer, Tony Hayes, I managed to knock 2 min off my personal best. We definitely weren't last which is always my fear.
Next run is at the end of Jan with another in mid Feb.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
....has been Heston Blumenthal's programme on how to cook the perfect Christmas dinner. He's like a mad scientist and tries anything in the search for culinary perfection. I loved the way he added bits of Christmas tree and packets of stuffing to the diet of his geese and tried to incorporate gold myrrh and frankinsense into his starter. Nothing's too big a challenge for him and he's continually trying to push the boundaries. Such a contrast to Nigella's chuck it all together approach to cooking.
I remember hearing him on Dessert Island Discs years ago when I'd never heard of him and even his musical choices were really good.
One of my New Year resolutions is to visit the Fat Duck in Bray.
Friday, December 21, 2007
This week my father-in-law has been staying with us and he's an avid Daily Mail reader. Over breakfast I usually dip into his copy and catch up with their latest views on the world. This week I've been particularly appalled by their treatment of Fabio Capello.
There's huge resentment over the fact that's Italian, earning a lot of money and has brought in his own people. The fact is, there's no English born Premiership manager who's got the credentials for the job. The closest we've got is Steve Coppell, but he's unproven at the highest level.
Capello has got an incredible track record as a coach with the very top clubs. England are fortunate to have a manager of his calibre willing to take on such a tough role. He's got more gravitas than Mourinho. He has a healthy disrespect for player reputation and ego. His English will improve massively over the next few months and If anyone can get the England team performing, then he can.
After the slagging the FA received over their failure land Scolari as the previous England manager the FA deserve credit for landing such a top manager so quickly. Must stop myself reading the Mail in future.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Well, not quite. I'm in the Finnish town of Tampere. However, it is the most northerly place I've ever been to in my life.
I was hoping for icy cold weather and lots of snow. However, its disappointingly mild. It's below freezing but it's not that much colder than London and there's no snow at all. I guess you could blame global warming.
Still, it'll mean that the Ryanair flight should leave OK this evening. Fingers crossed.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I used to run a marketing training course a few years ago, where we used Pimm's as the case study. An issue that always emerged was whether the brand should launch a Winter version.
Well, judging by the posters around London it has! Pimm's No 3 is brandy based. It's designed to be drunk warm when mixed with apple juice and served with slices of orange and apple. Is it a good idea? Will it take off? Or will it simply dilute / damage it's image as the perfect Summer drink?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
All the mags are doing it, so I thought I'd have a go. Here's my favourite albums of the year.
Alison Moyet: The Turn
The Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
Basquiat Strings with Seb Rochford
Cherry Ghost: Thirst For Romance
Dustin O'Halloran: Piano Solos Vol.2
The Good the Bad and the Queen
Green Pitch: Ace of Hearts
Jarvis Cocker: Jarvis
KT Tunstall: Drastic Fantastic
Meg Baird: Dear Companion
Richard Hawley: Lady's Bridge
Tinariwen: Aman Iman
Tunng: Good Arrows
Youssou N'dour: Rokku Mi Rokka
Its been a good year. There's loads more I want to get. And I still haven't downloaded the new Radiohead album yet.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Managed to avoid the rain on Sunday and go skating at Hampton Court. I'm rubbish at it and just about managed to stay on my feet.
Last night, I joined the Ravenstone School Choir for carols at Balham Tube Station who helped put commuters in a Chrismassy mood.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Was delighted that Joe Calzaghe won the Sports Personality of the Year award. Thought he was a complete outsider after being overlooked for so many years.
Great to see that we've recognised one of our few sporting winners. 10 years as world champion. As unbelievable record.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
This year's list of contenders for BBC Sports Personality of the Year contains 8 men and 2 women - Paula Radcliffe and Christine Ohuruogu. Paula has only competed in 1 serious race this year - the New York Marathon, which she won. Christine is still being criticised for the way she missed 3 drugs tests, most recently by Paula Ratcliffe.
Are these the best British female personalities on offer in 2007? How sad is that. Is it because female sports performances don't get enough coverage in the media? Or are they simply not up to it? Either way, its disappointing.
Amongst the men, the 2 boxers won't win - Calzaghe and Hatton - despite their huge achievements as boxing is no longer a mainstream sport. Lewis Hamilton will win it by a mile.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
At a workshop last week someone brought along a Nintendo Wii to play with during breaks. I knew about its success, but didn't realise how addictive it was and the breadth of its appeal. Everyone wanted to have a go and really got into it, particularly the tennis.
I definitely want one for Christmas, but it's virtually impossible to find them anywhere - unless anyone knows of a secret supply. 3 of our family have birthdays in January. I guess it'll have to become of our birthday presents.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Forgot to mention this. Went to Lamberts near Balham tube station a couple of weeks ago which was really good. A notch above a typical local restaurant. Quite brave of the owners to try to run something as smart as this in Balham and hope it remains popular.
Recently a Rick Stein-backed restaurant has opened in Balham called Harrisons. The previous restaurant here called the Balham Kitchen was always packed so I'm sure it will do well.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Have just come back from a 2 day trip to Bruges. A lovely town which feels very Chrismassy. The kind of place you see in old fashioned Christmas cards.
Whilst I've been away Derby have sacked and replaced their manager which was a big shock. I thought Billy Davies was irreplacable and owe my friend Rhian a fiver, who bet me that he would get sacked this season. Will Paul Jewell be a good choice? Well, he couldn't do much worse could he. Think Billy will get the Scotland job and can't help feeling that his recent comments helped engineer his dismissal.
Am currently staying a marvellous hotel called the Forbury in Reading. Fabulous decor, very luxurious and quite pricey. Thank goodness I'm not paying. Home at last tomorrow. Hurrah!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Karen and I have just returned from a couple of days in Anghiari. The first we've been ever been away together without the girls.
It's a lovely town and we had a great time. The food in the restaurants was delicious and the people were so nice.
One of the biggest regrets I have is not being fluent in Italian. Will be the top of my list of New Year resolutions.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Have just been for a day trip to Bangkok. Arrived at 7am on Monday morning, had a meeting and flew back the same evening. Saw the road from the hotel to the airport but not a lot more. Temperature was a chilly 32 degress and it was very humid but spent most of my time in air-conditioned buildings and cars.
Managed to eat some really nice Thai food, but got very confused about whether I should be eat eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. Decided to eat whenever food was put in front of me.
Flights were fine in the comfy Thai Air business class and managed to get a bit of kip. Entertainment choice was pretty poor and watched bits of Harry Potter, Hairspray and some BBC repeats.
Nice to be back in chilly, rainy Tooting. I hate to think what my carbon footprint is.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I've spent much of the past 2 days sitting on trains and hanging around French train stations trying to make sense of the French train strike. The December issue of the Word magazine kept me sane. A great read. Never have I appreciated it more. I also discovered on my iPod that I quite liked Paul Weller.
About to go on a long trip to Bangkok tomorrow, just to do a 4 hour meeting. Mad isn't it? Looking forward to reading the November issue which oddly has only just arrived.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I arrived this evening in the town of Dijon, an hour and a half south of Paris via the TGV. Had time for a brief walk around the very pretty town centre. The most interesting place I came across was the Maille Boutique, a posh shop full of fancy esoteric mustards, which includes fresh mustard available on tap.
Was taken out for a fabulous dinner. It's a real gastronomic region and everything we ordered was delicious, including of course the local Burgundy wine. Busy day tomorrow, then back for another evening in Paris meeting up with an old mate.
I know travelling can be a bit a pain, but it is nice being in France.
Monday, November 05, 2007
I've quite enjoyed the this recent ad for the Audi R8. Very confident, relaxed and of course with a great looking car. It's obviously trying to imitate alcohol brands (Guinness, Grolsch, any malt whisky) by trying to make a virtue over slowness and craftsmanship.
In recent years I've really admired the Honda ads, particularly this one, which again focuses on the intricacies of the car.
I still prefer the Honda ad to the Audi one as it's much more original and engaging. In any case, they're both better than that bloody gorilla.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
After my 10km run I decided to take the girls to see Ratatouille at the Streatham Odeon, which is another Pixar classic.
Both the girls really liked it. The animation is very impressive and it was easy for adults to enjoy, particularly if you're a bit of a foodie. However, I did think it was a bit too long and the story lost its way at times. It's definitely worth seeing, but don't think its quite as good as the Incredibles
Today I ran in a 10km race at Nonsuch Park near Cheam. The second of a 3 race series called the Ron Hill Surrey Classic. It's been years since I've ran this distance, but thanks to my running partner Tony, I managed to finish it. It was a pretty serious race with some very quick club runners and amazingly I wasn't last. I think there was 1 other runner behind me.
The last time I run seriously was at least 12 years ago when I worked on the Buitoni brand and we sponsored the Great North Run Pasta Party in Newcastle. I remember Daley Thompson and a young unknown Kelly Holmes were guests of honour.
The next 10km run I'm entered for is on the 23rd December, so will need to take it easy on the run-up to Christmas. The organiser of the race is based in Belper in Derbyshire. Click here for information on other races.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Every year Halloween seems to get a higher profile. More kids on the street, more commercialisation, more hype.
I was in Paris on the 31st and saw hardly any pumpkins, scarey masks, etc so get the impression that its a UK thing.
When I was a kid, Bonfire Night was the big thing, but it seems to be much less of a big event nowadays, at least in our household.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
And just to prove it, here's a picture I took tonight of the Arc de Triomphe. Was a trip down memory lane for me as I went to see the road I used to live in 1991 - rue Brey - just near here.
This is the 8th year that we've had a reunion of the girls from the Long Yan orphanage who now live in the UK.
The girls are 9 and 10 now and this year we stayed in a lovely old house near Monmouth in South Wales. Highlight of the event was the Talent Show organised by the girls where Lia was the star turn with her song from 'Annie'.
Next year Scotland. Can't wait.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
I know the Rugby World Cup was really gripping, but there were few moments of magic. I can still remember this Gareth Edwards try in 1973 playing for the Barabarians against the All Blacks which is often called the greatest try of all time. Still brings a smile to your face.
After Nigella, I watched the Dragon's Den, which was compelling but in a different way. I know its only television, but the dragons really are awful people. Aggressive, arrogant, incredibly condescending, bullying these poor desperate people, looking for a lifeline. i don't think I've ever seen Duncan Ballantine invest a penny.
However, there is a way to succeed and get your money.
1. Say you've had a poor, tough upbringing. The dragons hate posh people and love an underdog.
2. Know your numbers. If you get lost in your finances, they'll kill you.
3. Flatter the judges. Give them something that's personalised - however tacky - and it will play to their egos.
4. Never ask for too much. They won't risk more than £100 000 on any single investment
5. Be prepared to give up 30-40% of your company.
6. Don't waffle. They can't concentrate for too long.
7. Ask for money at the right time. Show you've sold something already. They won't back an unproven start-up
I hardly ever watch TV, but with Karen and the kids away for half term, I tuned into 'Nigella Express' and came to the conclusion that she's barking mad.
She keeps saying 'if, like me, you find that..etc' as if anyone who's watching has a lifestyle that remotely resembles hers. Catching black cabs to Waitrose, people dropping round and expecting a slap-up meal, a pantry the size of a bedroom. Also the way she tore that chicken apart with her hands was like a horror movie. I'm sure her recipes don't conform to government guidlines on healthy eating. Condensed milk, peanut butter, chocolate and Haagen Dazs ice cream for pudding and she's SO greedy, diving into the fridge at every opportunity.
Having said all that, it's all very entertaining and will try and watch her next week and I do agree with her about tinned pears.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
A lot of people I know are talking about the Radion 4 Show Genius, which is the funniest show around at the moment. It really does highlight the fact that there is little difference between genius and madness.
If you love new ideas, here's a couple of good sources. Idea a day. Where original ideas can be sent to you on a daily basis. Springwise a database of recently launched products and services picked up from different parts of the world.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Tate Modern is a great place to go to on a Friday night. Yesterday, there was a Silent Disco which featured a huge crowd wearing headphones and dancing to their own music. Another example of flashmobbing - spontaneous gatherings of people organised via word of mouth - that I'd read about but never witnessed. It was fun to watch. Didn't join in.
Also saw Shibboleth, the latest exhibit in the Turbine Hall, which is basically a huge crack in the floor. Compared to previous exhibits I thought it might be a bit dull, but it was actually very impressive. Don't understand all the blurb that explains what its all about, but its still worth a look.
There's also a bar with a spectacular view of our wonderful city and a very nice restaurant. Great start to the weekend.
On Thursday evening I went to the Cobden Club in Ladbroke Grove to celebrate the 5th anniversary of The Brand Gym, the brand consultancy run by David Taylor and David Nichols.
The 2 Davids are ex-Added Value colleagues of mine and it was like going back to a school reunion. I was struck by how many talented people had worked there, particularly under the Mark Sherrington, Peter Dart era. A lot of people have now gone on to form their own successful brand-related businesses, such as The Space Doctors and Insight Inside. It was great to catch up with them.
David Taylor is a prolific writer of marketing books. His latest is Called Where's the Sausage. Check out excerpts and details on his blog which is one of my links below.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The Legendary Gina Birch
I first met Gina and her husband Mike a few years ago. Like us, they'd also adopted 2 girls from China and we used to have Mandarin lessons at their kitchen table in Notting Hill.
What I didn't know at the time was that Gina was - and still is - an extremely influential figure in the music industry. She founded the all-female band The Raincoats in the late 1970s producing a series of critically acclaimed albums. Today she has a successful solo career as a performer and music video director.
Last night we saw her perform at the Bush Hall in Hammersmith with her own videos as a backdrop and she was fantastic. Great songs, brilliant music, amazing voice. She's a really unassuming, modest person but when she's on stage holding a guitar she's transformed into this charismatic performer with such power and confidence.
No wonder she's held in such high esteem and if you can a chance to see her, you should.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Well - I got the England prediction right. There's nothing sweeter than beating Australia at a sporting event. I know most of the world complains about English arrogance, but before the game the Australians were completely disrepectful and were guilty of breaking the most important rule of sport - underestimating your opponent. They're not saying much now and they've got 4 years to think about it.
Lewis Hamilton blew it, but it ain't over yet. I guess its great that it all comes down to a winner takes all last race.
Derby - still winless away from home and still to score a goal. Fortunately we're surrounded by other teams in a similar situation and there's a long way to go. However, we've done nothing so far to suggest we shouldn't be relegation favourites.
And yes - I did complete the 80km road race. A really enjoyable day out.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Q1. Will England beat Australia in the Rugby World Cup?
Ans: Yes, think we're getting a bit of momentum, plus Jonny and Jason are back.
Q2. Will Lewis Hamilton become world champion this weekend?
Ans: Yes, I think he'll finish ahead of Alonso
Q3. Will Derby beat Reading on Sunday?
Ans: Think we may get a draw, but our recent away record's not good.
Q4. WIll I complete the Ride of the Falling Leaves on Sunday? 50 miles.
Ans: Weather will be good, but am worried about the hills. Hope so...
Yesterday, was a perfect Autumn day. Warm, sunny, still with a bit of a chill in the air. Shorts weather. In the morning I cycled to school to drop Mae off. I had a couple of conference calls in the morning and caught up with my work. I then played Karen at tennis at her local club. In the afternoon I managed to do pick up Mae again, nip to the supermarket and do a bit more work. In the evening I cooked dinner for friends (roast chicken and polenta).
These were exactly the kind of days I was imagining when I started to work for myself: time to see the family/friends, fitting in a bit of sport whilst still doing a good chunk of productive work.
In 2008 I must do more of this.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Monday, October 01, 2007
Sunday, September 30, 2007
On my last day in New York I had 2 hours free before my flight. The traffic was at a standstill due to roadblocks. Bill Clinton was in the hotel next door. Decided to be brave and get the subway downtown.
I was a bit worried about this, largely because I remembered how scarey it looked in the film 'The Warriors'. Anyway, it wasn't.
Airconditioned, cheap and efficient. Much better than the Northern Line. Had a quick wander around Union Square and flew back to Dublin then eventually to London.
Back home now. Managed to say hello to the family, go for a 40 mile cycle ride around Richmond and see Derby draw 1-1 on Match of the Day. Off to Budapest for the next 3 days.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Just back from a really lovely early morning run around Central Park. Even at 7am it was really hot and humid. There were hundreds of people running, cycling and walking dogs. All ages. All shapes and sizes. Most of them overtook me.
On the way back I saw dozens of policemen on a street corner. They were holding sheets of paper so I imagine that they were extras in a film that is being shot today. I wonder if they have a spare uniform? Maybe I can ask to join in.
Have got one last workshop today, tonight I'll fly straight to Dublin for another meeting and finally, finally I'll be back to Tooting. I love New York, but am so looking forward to getting back home.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
This picture was taken at 7am this morning looking down 7th Avenue. Managed to find a classic American Diner for a huge breakfast. Temperatures rose to 25 degrees today. Didn't get much time to see very much as I was meetings all day.
Is really tempting to buy stuff as everything is so cheap compared to the UK. Will do my best to resist.
Its 1.30am. I've just arrived in New York and am staying in the Michelangelo Hotel which appears to be modelled on a poshTuscan villa. Quite a coincidence in that I stayed near Caprese the town where Michelangelo was born in Tuscany only last Wednesday.
Will be here for 3 days before I fly straight to Dublin for a meeting. Its always exciting being in New York. Not sure how much time I'll have to look around but will try. Flew with Virgin Atlantic in Upper Class which was great. I love the Virgin Lounge in terminal 3 at Heathrow. Could spend all day in there.
Saw Hot Fuzz which is in many ways the perfect airline movie. Non-demanding, funny and very English, which along with pie and mash for supper made for a very pleasant journey. Must try and get some kip. Have got an 8.00 am meeting tomorrow. Plus, want to find time for a huge breakfast in a New York Diner and watch the commuters. Always a highlight.