Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Harry Potter Platform

This week I've been travelling up and down Platform 9B at King's Cross, right next to the Platform that takes you to Hogworts. My train ended up at St Neots. Didn't see any wizards.

I Love This Product

If you're into porridge, then I can recommend Jordan's Organic Porridge. Make it in a saucepan and the thick fat oats turn rich and creamy, just like arborio rice. Even when you make it with water. Yum

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Off to Italy

This weekend we're flying to Perugia. We're off to see the farmhouse we've bought in Tuscany, near Arezzo. It's been rebuilt but needs a huge amount of week doing to it.
I guess there's lots of reasons why we bought it:
- to reconnect to my Italian roots
- to be able to spend long holidays in a place of my own and cook to my heart's content
- to become a place where my extended family can get together
- to be able to make my own olive oil
- because Tuscany is heaven on earth
When I was kid my grandad owned a house in Torre del Lago near the Tuscany which he eventually sold. I always hoped that one day I'd have my own place. We've had some architects plans through and this weekend we're going to visualise the layout. Watch this space for progress reports!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What I'm Reading

Am currently reading 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak. It's the story of a young orphan who steals books and her foster family, set in 1939 in Nazi Germany. Death is the story's narrator.

Sounds depressing? Well it's not. It's uplifting, moving and funny. It's been a worldwide bestseller and is also regarded as being suitable for teenagers as well as adults.

Have not reached halfway yet, but am really enjoying it. Recommended.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Goring 10K Run

Today I managed to complete my 4th monthly 10K run. Was a lovely morning for it and there were over a 1000 runners taking part. By far the most popular 10K I've entered. The race itself was pretty tough, with a 1km climb at the beginning and a long hill about half way around. However, the Oxfordshire countryside was very pretty and overall really enjoyed it. Even got a medal.

My time - as ever - was pretty slow, so need to focus on building up some speed. My friend Teresa has lent me her copy of 'Marathon Training For Dummies'. Bedtime reading.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lunch at Canary Wharf

Met up with James, an old University mate of mine near his office in Canary Wharf. Spent most of the lunch moaning about getting older and trying to figure out what had happened to the people we used to know. And yes, we did remember Ricky Gervais. He was the slim guy we used to see in the bar with the New Romantic haircut. He wasn't one of our mates.

I rather like Canary Wharf with its open spaces, views over the river, new buildings and nice bars. Reminded me what a great place London is. In this week's Time Out magazine, there's a great article which lists London's Best 50 Websites which is worth having a look at. I quite like the look of The London Review of Breakfasts. Very useful

Monday, February 18, 2008

Running Events

Amazingly, I'm still managing to run regularly and have got my next 10k run this Sunday. It's the Goring 10K and there's still time to enter if you're keen. This time, we're going to make a day out of it. My running partner Tony and I are dragging our families along with the promise of lunch at a local pub. If you know of anywhere nice, then let me know.

After that, I'm planning to run the Wimbledon 10K on 30th March, where Karen has also promised to enter.

And not forgetting the legendary Dovedale Dash on November 2nd. You get to run through the UK's most beautiful countryside and get soaking wet crossing the river Dove by the stepping stones. I expect everyone with a Derby connection to take part!

I'd Rather Be on Dartmoor

Its half term at the moment and the family are in Devon. I was there for the weekend, but unfortunately I had to come back because of work commitments. Bad planning on my part. Wish I'd taken the week off.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More Views

This time, Plymouth.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Views Over London

Yesterday I was working in an office by the river with some lovely views over London.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The US Presidential Elections

I'm really enjoying the race to become US President, in particular the battle between Obama and Clinton to win the Democratic Party nomination.

I can't pretend to understand the ins and outs of the voting system but from what I've read, they're neck and neck, with Obama appearing to have a bit more momentum at the moment.

This may be a very naive thing to say, but I wonder if they'll do a deal - a bit like Blair and Brown, whereby they agree to work together for the common good of the Party? This could mean the loser becomes the 'running mate' of the winner and eventually, the vice-president.

I can't imagine that in terms of idealogy Obama and Clinton would be very far apart, plus I feel that as a combination they would be unstoppable and have much broader appeal than McCain. I'd love to see that happen.
In Amsterdam

Am staying at a Holiday Inn in an Amsterdam suburb on a big main road. I was hoping that I'd be in a downtown location, so I could go for a wander around the famous canals.

However, don't feel like getting into a cab, so will stay put. Anyway, have got work to do and want to get some rest. Am loving my book, so looking forward to diving into it. O the glamour of business travel. Will miss Valentine's Day for the second year running. Not great planning.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I Can't Face Match of The Day

Its on at the moment. But I know what'll happen. Derby will lose again. Paul Jewell will applaud the effort but lament the fact we were punished for making the basic errors ' that you just can't afford to make in this league'. The opposition manager will make some respectul remark that Pride Park is never an easy place to come to - when they know that it is really and being grateful for 3 points - which they expected to get.

Lineker will be smirking as he used to play for Tottenham and supports Leicester and Lawrenson will be bored as there's no Liverpool game. The only consolation is that Newcastle were even worse so Shearer will be pissed off.

Think I'll cheer myself up by listening to some Radiohead.

What I'm Reading

Am loving Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Am less than halfway through, but am looking forward to picking it again at the next opportunity. It's written through the journals of a central character whose life spans the 20th century, interweaving historical events and famous faces.

He's such a good storyteller. I loved Restless, his last book and this is equally enjoyable. I'd been scratching around for ages looking for a decent book to read. Finally picked up this which has been on our bookshelf for ages. Recommended.
Friday Night in Covent Garden

From St Pancras I went straight to a workshop in a venue just off Long Acre. It was a beautiful day, the weekend was upon us and so everyone was in good mood. I decided to finish the class early so everyone could grab some late afternoon sun down the pub. Made me very popular.

Met up with my old mate Cath from Nestle days. Decided that 1988 was a great year for brand management talent and helped fuel Nestle's golden period of marketing: the Gold Blend couple, The Casa Buitioni Club, Crosse and Blackwell Baked Beans. Its been downhill ever since.

Covent Garden was packed. The nice weather has brought everyone out. Plus I reckoned people have abandoned their 4 week period of abstinence. Had a great meal in Thai Pot. Even got a black cab home. I was still on expenses, after all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Trip to France

Have been in France for the past couple of days visiting both Dijon and Paris. Am getting to like the new St Pancras Eurostar terminal. There's more facilities and it seemed less crowded. Apparently the station's champagne bar is a nice place to meet for a drink. And they've got heated seats.

Yesterday, of course, there was a strike. This time, the taxi drivers. Had to walk to my hotel from Dijon station, which fortunately wasn't very far. I even saw the England game in full which was repeated on French tv. Really pleased for Capello. He's made a great start. He's got the players playing for their places and has really set the right tone. I wonder what the tabloids are saying about him now?

Apparently The French are not very impressed with Sarkozy after his whirlwind marriage to Carla Bruni and his popularity ratings have fallen dramatically. I rather like him and think he's just the kind of leader France needs.
Enjoyed a good catch up with an old mate in Paris tonight before I get the very early Eurostar back tomorrow. Unless of course, there's another strike,

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Becoming a Global Iconic Brand

The first thing Derby need to do is to buy a player from South East Asia. Whenever I go there, I'm amazed how up to date people are on the Premier League and they all follow an English team. Apparently in Thailand games are shown live, very late at night, and bars are packed. It causes a lot of family trouble, with wives upset at their husbands regularly being out all Saturday night.

On my last trip I was working with a guy from Hong Kong who was in his early 30s. He knew all about Derby's recent performances and the history of the club. 'I used to love Archie Gemmill' he told me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spot the Difference

Derby's new midfield hero Robbie Savage and Prince Charming from Shrek