Friday, August 31, 2007

Marie Antoinette

Saw Marie Antoinette last night and rather enjoyed it. My expectations were pretty low as the reviews I read slated it. True, there wasn't much substance. However, Versailles and the costumes looked fantastic, I liked the 1980s music and Kirsten Dunst is always good to watch.

Not many emotional highs or lows, but good for a relaxed night in.
Gordon Ramsey Advertising Gordon's Gin

Whilst driving home last night I kept seeing lots of Gordon's Gin posters with huge images of Gordon Ramsey.

This is such a literal example of celebrity endorsement. Gordon's featuring Gordon. It would have been one of the first ideas that someone came up with in a brainstorming session. Really poor. Still at least they didn't choose Carol Vorderman.

Watch out for a forthcoming Cadbury's Dairy Milk ad which features a man in a gorilla suit drumming along to a Phil Collin's track. Will cause quite a stir.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back Home

Just arrived back to London after a 4 hour delay with our flight from Cork and headed straight off to the very posh Ashdown Park Hotel in East Sussex for a workshop tomorrow.

Just learnt that Derby were beaten in the Carling Cup by Blackpool on penalties, despite leading twice and despite playing at home. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to beat Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday to get our first win of the season......

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Places to Eat in West Cork

The food in this part of the world is fantastic, particularly the seafood. 2 of the best places to eat are:

O'Callagahan Walshe in Roscarberry
Mary Ann's in Castletownsend

We're off to Mary Ann's tonight which should be great. Our last night out before we all head back to London. Looking forward to our return visit in 2008, when we hope to launch our very own Glandore Triathlon!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Glandore People

One of the great things about Glandore is meeting with old friends, usually around the table of one of its many fine pubs and restaurants.

A Few Highlights of Glandore

The weather has been fantastic so far and we've managed to get out on our friends' boat on a couple of occasions.

The next village along, Union Hall, is hosting The All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championship so we went to have a look.

This is the 7th year in a row that we've come to Glandore over the Bank Holiday Weekend. Every year I've taken a picture of Mae sitting at Hayes' bar down in the village. This is the latest.

Most days, we even managed to have picnics on deserted beaches.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bottom of the Premier League

After the 2-1 home defeat against Birmingham, Derby are now rock - bottom of the Premier League. 3 defeats in a row is not what we hoping for.

We've not played any of the big teams yet, so it's not looking good. We need to pick up points fast to stop us going into freefall. Not sure how we're going to do it with our current players.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

West Cork

Have just arrived for a long weekend in the beautiful coastal village of Glandore in West Cork. The first thing I did was order a pint of Murphys. There is something special about eating / drinking the right thing in the right place. Spaghetti is amazing in Italy. Burgers taste best in America. Pernod is delicious in the south of France.

And of course, there's nothing quite as nice as a pint of Murphys in West Cork.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why Do People Volunteer For This?

On Saturday, 600 people agreed to pose naked on a Swiss glacier on behalf of New York photographer Spencer Tunick to draw attention to global warming. He takes these kind of photos quite regularly and there seems to be no shortage of volunteers. If you are keen, sign up here.

Come to think of it, I'm sure its the kind of thing my wife Karen would love to do.

I'm someone who tries to run regularly, but find it a bit of a struggle, largely due to age, dodgy knees and being overweight. However, I still enjoy running and have worked that there are probably 6 stages I go through during a run which are

1. Anticipation: 'I really should go for a run, but I don't really feel like it' More often then not, this results in a decision not to go for a run for a whole range of spurious reasons.
The answer: get your kit on, don't think too much, just do it

2. Pain: 'Blimey this is hard work' Takes place during the first 5 minutes when you're trying to kick-start your body into action
The answer: a nice long warm-up

3. Pleasure: 'I'm really quite enjoying this'. Midway through. The classic runners high, when you're moving effortlessly

4. Suffering: 'This is really painful'.Getting towards the end of your run and your body is beginning to rebel.

5. Relief: 'Thank God its over. I'm feeling quite pleased with myself now'. You've finally stopped, you begin to recover and are looking forward to a nice hot shower

6. Smugness: 'I've just been for a run. Aren't I virtuous. Must do it regularly' The post run glow when you're looking back on your run.

So what's the answer? How can you make running easier?
I think there are 3 key ways to do this:

1. Set yourself a goal. Book yourself in on a run eg a 10K or half marathon where you'll be forced to train. There's loads to choose from. Check out the Runners World website
2. Find a running partner. This way you'll be able to encourage each other even if you train separately
3. Don't take it too seriously. I think this new Reebok ad has the right attitude.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Center Parcs

Friends of ours invited us to visit them at Center Parcs in Elveden Forest in Suffolk yesterday, which was surprisingly quite enjoyable. The kids really loved it and there were loads of things for them to do.

Not sure I could spend a week there, but would be good for a long weekend. Our girls are already asking us for a return visit.
Spurs 4 Derby 0
Derby were the victims of a good old fashioned hammering at White Hart Lane last Saturday. We were completely outplayed and were lucky to only lose by 4 given that we were 3 down within the first quarter of an hour.

It was no fun being a Derby fan at the game as the Spurs fans abused us and our team gave us nothing to shout about. Disappointingly, there were quite a few empty seats amongst the Derby fans, which, along with our dire performance meant that little noise was generated.

The gulf in class between the Premier League and the Championship was plain to see and no wonder Billy Davies is looking to strengthen the squad in every area. I know Derby fans love Steve Howard, but I'm not convinved he has the quality we need in this league. I hope I'm wrong.

This is the third time I've taken Mae to a Derby game and we've lost all of them. Its very hard to convince her not to support Chelsea. Still - there's always the next match. Let's hope we can raise our game against Birmingham next Saturday.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Elvis Lives!

I'm sure we all know that Elvis died 30 years ago today. I can still remember one of the lads at my dad's ice cream factory crying his eyes out when he found out.

Heard this very funny story about how a cheesemaker in Peterborough spotted the face of Elvis in the veins of a Stilton she was making. Can you see it? I think I can.

Sports Personalities

I'm a big sports fan, but have come to the conclusion, that what makes sport fascinating is not really the competition or the game itself, but the human stories that underpin it. Its only when you get to know and understoood the people behind the sport that is becomes really interesting. Its what makes sport worth talking about, what keeps it so compelling.

I think we admire sports people because:

- they have an incredible raw physical talent, which make them almost super-human
- to become an elite athlete they have to sacrifice huge amounts in pursuit of their goal

- the line between success and failure is incredibly thin and most don't succeed
- their careers are short and intense

For example, I used to think that Formula 1 was incredibly boring until Lewis Hamilton emerged. Would golf have any interest without Tiger Woods? Can Wilkinson ever become great again? Will Sven prove everyone wrong? Will Roy Keane remain invincible? And of course can Derby's players rise to the challenge of being promoted?

That's why I've got no interest in American sport. I'm sure basketball / baseball are OK, but I don't haven't any connection with the human stories that underpin it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Going Abroad?

If you're still planning on going abroad for your holiday, its good if you can speak some of the local lingo to help avoid misunderstanding. As illustrated in this very funny Berlitz ad.
Norwegian Wood

This is the third novel I've read by Haruki Murakami and once again its excellent. Its all about growing up as a 19 year old in Japan in 1969 and focuses on 3 central character. This was his one of his early novels and was apparently a huge hit in Japan when it first came out.

The storyline in slow and meandering, but I love the way he writes: the gentle pace, the attention to detail, the characters, the feeling of being in Japan. Recommended.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Songs of the Summer

When children like a song they play it and along to it non-stop, without ever getting sick of it. Last year I probably heard Lily Allen's 'Smile' and 'Alfie' about a hundred times.

This year's big Summer hits in the Franco London household are:

Umbrella - Rihanna
Merry Happy - Kate Nash
Ruby - Kaiser Chiefs (aka 'Ruby, Ruby, Ruby')

Rihanna is currently the favourite. Appropriate given today's weather.

Saw Babel last night and loved it. Consists of 4 intertwined stories in very different settings . Great performances from everyone - even Brad Pitt was OK. Very moving and thought provoking. A bit like 'Crash' in its structure, but much better.

Long - 2 and a half hours - but worth it. Highly recommended.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Football's Back

And Derby are in the Premier League. Still hard to believe, but its true. Got off to a good start with a 2-2 draw yesterday and for the first time in years was able to see them on Match of the Day.

Will no doubt be an emotional rollercoaster this season - as ever. Am looking forward to seeing them for their first London away game at White Hart Lane next Saturday. Fingers crossed.
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

One of the joys of living in London is that you visit things like the Summer Exhibition which is a really diverse exhibition of work from known and unknown artists, many of which are for sale.

This year, its great.We went today and really enjoyed it. There's lots of inspiring work, its easy to get around, and there are huge dinosaur sculptures in the courtyard. Something for everyone. Definitely worth a visit.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Holiday in Italy

Just back from a fabulous 2 week holiday in Italy. We spent the first week on the Tuscany - Umbria border between Anghiari and Sansepolcro. Brought back lots of memories as I used to visit the Buitoni factory in Sansepolcro many years ago when I worked on the brand.

Stayed in a lovely house and went to lots of great restaurants including Castello di Sorci, one of my favourites.

Had another trip down memory lane in week 2 when we stayed near Pisa. Went to Torre del Lago, where we used to go when I was a kid, Viareggio and of course the Leaning Tower.

What was amazing was that everything seemed pretty much the same, even though I hadn't been back for a long time - the food the beaches, the ice cream, the towns
Really enjoyable.

One day I'd love to have my own house in Italy and spend the whole of the Summer there.