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.