Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve in London

My New Year Resolutions

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.
The Ron Hill Surrey Classic 10K

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

Best Thing on TV So Far This Christmas....

....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

Be Fair to Fabio

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.
We've Got a Wii!

Against all odds, we've managed to buy a Wii for Christmas. This is thanks to a friend who's cousin works at a well known toy shop and managed to put one aside for us. If anyone fancies a game over Christmas, pop round!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Visit to Lapland

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

Crisis Cook Book

My Crisis Cook Book arrived today and its fab with some really interesting, but quite challenging recipes. Only costs £5 from either Amazon or M&S with £3 going to Crisis. Recommended

Click here for more details

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pimm's Winter Cup

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

Review of the Year: Music

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
Amiina: Kurr
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

Christmas is Here

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

The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin

The story of the canoeist who allegedly faked his death reminds me so much of the Reginald Perrin series back in the 1970s.
I loved this series and read all 3 books. Leonard Rossiter was brilliant. There was a great set of characters with lots of fab catch phrases. I wish they'd repeat it. (They probably are somewhere)
Of course, Leonard Rossiter was also famous for these Cinzano ads with Joan Collins. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Well Done Joe

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.
'I think there'll be a public holiday in Derby now'

Great quote from manager Paul Jewell after Steve Howard scored Derby's first away goal of the season at Old Trafford on Saturday. Shame that Man U scored 4.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Female Sports Personalities

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

What I'm Reading

It's been ages since I read a great book. I liked dipping into the Alastair Campbell Diaries, but it was a bit too bulky to lug around with me whilst travelling. I had high hopes of Jake Arnott's 'Johnny Come Home', but didn't think was anyway near as good as 'The Long Firm'.

However, am really enjoying The Magician's Assistant by Anne Pratchett. At first, I wasn't convinced, despite Karen's recommendation. The story of a woman in LA who is mourning the death of her husband - who happened to be gay - didn't sound too promising. However, it's nicely paced with some likeable characters and is very moving.

Maybe I just like magicians. A couple of years ago I remember reading Carter Beats the Devil about the career of a 1920's American magician which was fantastic. Recommended.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Nintendo Wii

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

Star Peformance

Today, Lia took part in the end of year Stagecoach performance of 'Annie'. She was absolutely brilliant.
Balham Restaturants

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

A Trip to Bruges

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

2 Nil Defeat, Not Bad

Nowadays, Derby's success is measured by how many we lose by, not whether we win or not. Today, Chelsea only won 2-0, which is almost like winning. Apparently Steve Howard had a header today. Well done Derby!

Back From Italy

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

Back From Bangkok

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

Thank You The Word Magazine

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.

How Depressing
On arriving back at St Pancras, the first thing I read in 'London Lite' was that Derby were going to sell Giles Barnes to West Ham for £5 million in January. How can we do this? He's my favourite player. I can't suddenly start hating him. How we are going to survive without players of his quality? How we are going to attract new star players if we can't hang on to our home grown talent? I saw people looking at me with pity when they saw my Derby County bobble hat. Maybe I was imagining that bit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New St Pancras
Today I caught the Eurostar to Paris from St Pancras station. My third country visit in one week. I was quite excited about seeing it as it only opened yesterday. I've always had a soft spot for St Pancras. I always used to catch the train here to go back to Derby when I was a student.
The roof and the overall sense of space was really impressive. However, none of the facilities were open. All the smart new shops and coffee bars were boarded up and it all felt a bit cold and empty.
Once you got inside the terminal, the disappointment continued. There was 1 Cafe Nero which had huge queues. And that was it. Also, it seemed really crowded. I'm not sure there's enough seating for everyone.
Fortunately, the train was on time and was really quick. In Paris however, there's a strike going on with very limited transport services. After lots of hanging around and conversations with rude staff I've eventually made it to Dijon. Phew! What a relief. Hope I make it back home tomorrow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

John Barnes

On Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing, John Barnes performed a superb salsa to get top marks from the judges. Under pressure from previous poor showings it was a great comeback.

The most memorable moment of his footballing career was this incredible goal for England against Brazil when he just a young lad. Although he played many more times for England and became a Liverpool player I never felt he fulfilled his potential. He never scored a goal of similar quality and hardly ever showed the same pace and power. Was he lazy? Was he burdened with too much expectation following this goal? Or was he simply not that good?

National Joke
West Ham beat Derby 5-0 at Pride Park. We're bottom of the league. We haven't scored for nine hours. Our goal difference is minus 26. Can it get any worse? Well, our next game is against Chelsea. I can't imagine what the score's going to be, plus we've games against Man U, Liverpool and Blackburn very soon.
Whenever I wear my Derby jacket in London people look at me with pity. We've now been labelled the worst team in the history of the Premiership.
Is there any hope? Well, there's always hope. We've been promised money to spend in January. Plus, there are other poor teams in the Premier League. But Billy Davies will need to perform another miracle. Best bet. Prepare for the Championship.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Smoking and Snogging

Have been hanging around a lot of French railways stations over the past couple of days and have noticed a lot of this going on. I guess it's what makes France famous and why this song became so popular.

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

Sexy Car Adverts

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.
Ron Hill Run Official Results

The results are here. I finished 253rd out of 259! Not very impressive. Will look to smash my personal best at the next leg on 23rd Dec.

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
The Ron Hill Surrey Classic Series

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

My Next Training Event

If anyone is interested in learning how to plan and facilitate creative workshops, my next event is on 11th January. Click here for more details.
Halloween is Bigger then Bonfire Night

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

Is This Genius?
I recently read about this new invention called the Shewee - a portable urinating device for women, described on their website as:
"a moulded plastic funnel that provides women with a simple, private and hygienic method of urinating without removing clothes whilst standing AND sitting."
What a bizarre idea. Nowadays, women drink beer, get pissed regularly, run big businesses, enjoy watching rugby. Now they're trying to wee standing up. Is nothing sacred?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm in Paris

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.

I've not been back since I left to returned to London and it hasn't changed much. Ate at my old local restaurant and the food was still great.

I always remembered that French advertising used to consist of a naked woman holding the product as seductively as possible. Even today, when Orangina decide to feature cartoon animals, they try to make them as sexy as possible.
Long Fu Girls Reunion 2007

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

Posh Hotel

Spent the day at The Hempel a very exclusive boutique hotel near Paddington. Very nice but a bit too cool and minimal for me. White walls, white flooring and staff wearing black.

Apparently Posh Spice was staying there. Didn't see her though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Remember This?

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.
The Dragon's Den

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
Nigella is Mad

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

We Should Have Won
No, I'm not referring to the rugby. It was the Derby's inability to beat Fulham on Saturday. Still, we kept a clean sheet and are no longer bottom of the league.
Craven Cottage is a nice ground to visit. It has a lot of character, there's a view over the river, it's small enough to be close to the pitch and there's a big away fans section. As ever, the Derby away fans were loud and passionate. One day the team may reward us with a goal.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Great Ideas

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

Smiths of Smithfield

This is a great place to meet for breakfast. Was there this morning and had a really nice bacon sarnie.
The Brown Dog

Went to a really, really nice gastropub called the Brown Dog in an area of Barnes known as 'little Chelsea'. Small place, fabulous food, not too pricey and a cute logo. Recommended

Poor Steve McClaren

Never thought I'd say this, but I feel a bit sorry for Steve McClaren. I don't think he's a great manager, but after the defeat against Russia, everyone - including of course the Sun - are calling for him to go.

He'd started to make some brave decisions. Picking Heskey and Barry and dropping Lampard. England were starting to play as a team. However his players have badly let him down. He showed loyalty to Robinson - who yet again made a basic error. His captain, Gerrard misses a really easy chance.

Despite what the pundits say, English players are NOT world class and we've been kidding ourselves for decades. They occasionally have a good game, but where would the top clubs be without the foreign players? Nowhere. Even Sven, who was ridiculed as an England manager, has transformed Man City largely through overseas talent.

Is there any upside? Well, we may well get Jose Morinho back as England manager. Now that would be interesting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

We Eat Too Much and We Drink Too Much

According to a report out today, not only are we overweight, but we're becoming a nation of alcoholics. What's most shocking is that its the middle classes who are most guilty, apparently knocking back far too much New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Chilean Merlot. So its not just the young Friday night binge drinkers or the working class beer drinkers - everyone's at it. How shocking.

So what's going to happen? My guess is - more regulation. Higher prices via taxation, more restrictive advertising, health warnings on wine bottles. In fact our whole lives are going to become more and more regulated as the Government decides that the British people can't be trusted to look after themselves. My predictions:

- parents will be fined if their children are overweight
- children will be sent home if their lunch boxes are not up to scratch
- late night pub licenses will be revoked
- we will have to pay for treatment on the NHS if the illness is 'self inflicted'

Are the British people able to self-regulate? Not sure....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Walk in Richmond Park

Who'd have thought it would have been warm enough for a picnic in mid-October? What a lovely day.
Lessons From the England Rugby Team

1. Being able to handle pressure is more important than individual talent.
2. It's about how good you are, not how old you are
3. Play to your strengths, don't dwell on your weaknesses
4. Never stop believing in yourself.
5. Stick together during a crisis
6. Learn from your defeats

It's been a fairtale for the players. Especially for Jonny who has been crocked for the past 4 years and Jason Robinson who thought his career was over. I don't care who we play in the final. We'd feel more confident against Argentina, but imagine how motivating it would be to try and avenge the 36-0 defeat v South Africa. Now that would really be a miracle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Friday Night at Tate Modern

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.

The Brand Gym Birthday Party

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

Gordon Brown's in Trouble

Driving in the car today I heard Gordon Brown being duffed up by David Cameron on Prime Minister's Question Time. He came across as defensive, hesitant and frankly a bit dull. I was always confident that he'd make a good PM but now I'm not so sure.
The worst thing was, the trouble was of all of his own making. If Alastair Campbell was still around, I bet it wouldn't have happened.
I bet Tony Blair's having a little smile to himself...

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

Two Out of Four Ain't Bad

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

This Weekend's Sporting Predictions

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...

Friday's Should Always Be Like This

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

American vs British Sports Commentary

American sports commentators bore me to tears. They're obsessed with statistics: yardage gained, % pass completions, etc, etc. Its so dull and uninvolving. Compare this to the British commentator who generally tries to conjure up the emotions of the game - as if you're in the stadium itself.

My favourite piece of footie commentary was by Barry Davies, describing the goal scored by Francis Lee for Derby against his old club Man City.

'Interesting, very interesting. Just look at his face'

Click here to listen to this and other great bits of sports commentary compiled by Radio 5 Live

Monday, October 01, 2007

Have been in Budapest for 2 days now and have seen nothing of the city. The workshop I'm involved in goes on until quite late, so there's no real time to get out and about. It's a real shame as Budapest is a very nice place with lots to see. Its certainly popular with the coachloads of Japanesese tourists who always seem to be gathered in the hotel reception Thank goodness I've got my iPod and the BBC website to keep me sane. Must check out the latest episode of the Archers.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Last Day in New York

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

Central Park

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

5th Avenue

I had a bit of spare time today in between meetings so I went for a walk up 5th Avenue towards Central Park. The traffic is at a standstill at the moment because the President is visiting.

Managed to resist buying anything, but simply had to have a look in the Apple store. Managed to get my hands on the iPhone to see what all the fuss was about and I thought it was fantastic. Sleek, easy to use, full of really cool stuff. No wonder its taking the world by storm. Also love the new Nano and the latest touch screen iPod models.

Apple always seem to get it right and people were queueing out the door to buy stuff. With $2 to £1 at the moment it took enormous willpower to walk out empty handed. However, there's always tomorrow morning...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hot in the City

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.

New York, New York

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.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Photos From The Game