Monday, 27 December 2010

Obligatory snow photos

We're leaving Sweden today, heading back to the UK for the next leg of the Christmas extravaganza. Before heading off I thought I'd upload a few of the photos I've taken here in the last couple of days.

The weather here's been great: lots of snow (42cm as I type), biting cold (pretty much constantly below -10'C) and good spells of blue sky to show it all off. The company has been great too - as ever, we've been looked after fabtastically by Lisbeth and Lasse (tack sa mycket!).

Torpet peeks out of the snow

A few more photos are up on Flickr.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

New Taste Deep Love

Discovered this little gem while tidying up the spare room, a great example of machine translation picked up while I was in China.

New Taste Deep Love: On the sunny afternoon, your face is like an angel's face, your dream is like a pink rose...

For the record it's a pineapple-flavoured snack.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Indispensable Mac software - my list

Just been setting up my Macbook Pro and thought it a good opportunity to make a note of the OS X software I've found myself relying on over the last year or so. Of course there are the multi-platform standards such as Evernote, Firefox (no Chrome man me!), Spotify, Tweetdeck etc, but whilst great those aren't what I want to cover here.

Now is the time, and this is the place, for those little Mac-specific helpers...
  • Growl - the notification system other apps hook into to quietly tell me what's going on
  • Burn - a great freeware DVD burner, it just does the right thing every time with no fuss
  • Caffeine - a killer when presenting or showing off photos, when engaged it stops the screen switching off or the screensaver kicking in
  • AppCleaner - tidies up orphaned files when deleting apps
  • Loginox - just because I want my own customised log-in screen background image :-)
So, Mac users, what am I missing?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Plumbing 101

Ah, the joys of finally owning a house. Just completed my first plumbing job, successfully replacing a leaking pressure reducing valve without flooding anything :-)

Thanks to Ultimate Handyman for showing me how to apply PTFE tape and how a compression fitting works.

Here's the offending item - can you spot the problem?

Monday, 4 October 2010

J&M wedding photos

Went to Jenny & Mattias' wedding in Sweden in early September, and after only a month (!) I've managed to get the best of my photos up on line.

The weekend was fantastic - a beautiful ceremony on the beach at the end of their garden followed by a reception (with much schnapps) in a converted svinhus (literally "pig house", in practice a nice big barn).

Friday, 1 October 2010

Another hard day in Greece

It was all go again today at Villa Constantina. After an early start for breakfast the girls retired back to the villa while the boys headed out in the boat for a spot of snorkeling. We were back in time for lunch, after which things really got going...

Location : Address not available

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Rum and Chocolate

Got up late today, finally ousted by the cleaner. After a morning swim we headed down to the harbour for brunch. Fried eggs and chocolate pie (the latter renowned across the island) knocked us out for a good hour, after which we jumped in our little boat.

We cruised westward in search of a remote beachside taverna, but that turned out to be closed. Instead we snorkeled, spotting a jellyfish and some poisonous underwater caterpillars. After that excitement the wind came up and we bounced and splashed our way back to home base at Vathy. Which is where we are now, enjoying rum & hot chocolates in the evening sun. One of these is pictured, with R&I supporting.

[Trying a new mobile blogging app today, the old one having lost a few posts - grr! So here we go...]

Location : Address not available

Monday, 27 September 2010


Kalimera (just) from Meganissi. What to say - the weather's great, the villa is superb and the view is to die for. Our villa is the pink one on the hill to the left, behind the fishing boat. I'll show you the view we get in a future posting - only one photo per post with this Blogger client...

Off to pick up our boat now, then it's time to explore...

[Added later: OK, this Blogger client got the better of me there, that is in fact the view from our balcony]

Published with Blogger-droid v1.4.8

Sunday, 19 September 2010


I'm catching up on my photo backlog somewhat. First to hit the web are the most recent crop from last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza. I was out there with Jelte for the annual boys' weekend and as well as the racing we managed to catch Lake Como for a little escape from the concrete and graffiti of northern Italy.

The F1 race was good but for action and sheer lunacy it was heavily outclassed by the GP2 races. The drivers are mostly 18 years olds and they really didnt hold back as they hammered into the second chicane (and one another) right in front of us. Having to shoot through a chain link fence didnt seem to spoil the shots to any great extent.

The Monza track is a great place to explore. One of the highlights for me was coming across a section of the old banked oval track curving away through the trees. Built in 1922 and last raced in 1969, it now crumbles quietly as the new track winds round it.

Check out the whole album

Saturday, 31 July 2010

New light

Did a spot of DIY this afternoon, putting up a new light in the front room. It's a big glass and metal sphere and weighs all of 6kg, no trivial matter to fit. Happily I did find some solid ceiling and after an hour it still seems to be hanging in so I'm ready to call it a success!

This shot was taken from directly underneath - how's that for confidence :-)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Farnborough Air Show

Went to Farnborough at the weekend. It was the first air show I'd been to for about 25 years and it brought back great memories of going to British Aerospace open days as a kid. It was great to see that so little had changed - kids were still collecting photos of planes, everyone loved the Red Arrows and there were those free pop-out paper hats that you don't seem to get anywhere else at all. Even the planes were mostly the same ones as in the 80's :-)

The Red ArrowsHighlights for me included the Red Arrows (of course!), the incredible quietness of the double decker A380 and the phenomenal manoeuvrability of the F16 (of Top Gun fame). The Avro Vulcan wasn't flying the day we were there (brake failure) but it was great to see it sitting on the ground.

It was clearly a golden opportunity and I couldn't help myself: there are a few photos up on Flickr.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Grade zero (and more poppies)

I re-applied the summer cut this evening and went one closer than normal to see how a zero would look. Pretty good I thought, but I've been told I'm not allowed to do it again - ho hum. I got the better half to record it for posterity so you can let me know what you think...


Looking back at the previous post reminded me that the poppies are still going over here. They've found a second wind and are just as good as they were a few weeks ago. This is clearly the last hurrah though, as there aren't many unflowered heads left in the field. With the grass grown up long around them they are looking great right now though.


The poppies seem to have been a bit of a hit. Not once but twice since I posted them I've been contacted on Flickr asking exactly where the field is and whether the poppies are still in bloom (flora_london having gone so far as to register with Flickr just to contact me!). It's nice to be able to act as a tour guide for the North Downs once in a while :-)

Sunday, 20 June 2010


A big field of poppies has bloomed round the corner from our place. According to the locals this is a pretty rare occurrence. I took advantage of the light summer evenings to get out and take a good look after work one day last week.

I packed a good selection of my lenses (20mm, 85mm, 105mm macro and 70-300mm) and managed to get some good shots with each and every one of them. As usual the 20mm was awesome (see the shot above for example) but the real revelation for me was the 85mm f1.4. I hadn't used this baby for a while as its kinda heavy to cart about and as a result I'd forgotten quite how good it is at isolating detail and smoothing out backgrounds. The love affair is well and truly rekindled now :-)

Want to see some more? Check out the set on Flickr.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

UOoGB save the day!

Had a pretty awful (though admittedly to a fair extent self inflicted) day at work today, but it was all saved by the brilliance of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britian. Even seeing them in Aldershot (urg!) didnt diminish the sheer awesomeness of their "ironic covers".

Ukulele courtesy of T..Jones

My favourite, I think, was a cover of Bowie's Life on Mars that segues beautifully into My Way and a few other classics. You'll find it, as they pointed out, on YouTube - someone has pirated the whole of their back catalog. Other great stuff up there, if you're in the mood, includes a superb lounge cover of Wuthering Heights and a great take on Teenage Dirtbag from last year's BBC Proms. Go on, no-one can resist the power of the ukulele!

Now if anyone wants to buy me their live DVD from the Proms...

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Crewing the Kursk

In a break from the norm I spent this evening at the Young Vic, having great fun helping out behind the scenes on their production of Kursk. To be specific I was deputy cloakroom operative under Lisa's watchful eye :-)

The Young Vic is a not-for-profit theatre who plow their excess cash into working with local schools. They have a great team of paid staff but Kursk needs more ushing than the average play so they emailed local businesses asking for volunteers to help out. In return for running the cloakroom I got to see behind the scenes and watch the play for free. Not a bad deal at all, especially when you consider that the team are great fun to work with.

The production itself was excellent. The audience all stand, spread throughout the submarine stage, the cast moving amongst them. Over 90 minutes we follow the crew on their voyage and learn the fate of the Kursk. They do a brilliant job of evoking daily life beneath the waves and sketching out the gap between professionalism when on the job and larking about when not.

All in all a very good play, and all the better for watching it as a part of the team. I'm lined up to help again in a couple of weeks and can't wait!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Tokyo stories

Earlier in January I was out in Tokyo for a week, chairing some of Symbian's council meetings and presenting at the Japan Forum. Amidst all the work I did find time to get out and about with my camera and I've just uploaded the best of my efforts to Flickr.

The bulk of these were shot from the top of the Mori Tower (part of the Roppongi Hills complex), either from the glassed-in observation deck (complete with curtained off areas that minimise reflections for photographers) or from the Sky Walk that loops around the roof-top helipad.

The Helipad

I've tried a fair few of the view points in Tokyo and the Mori Tower tops the list of the public areas for me. It's still beaten by the view from the Park Hotel though, where on a clear winter afternoon you can see the sun set behind Mt Fuji with the Tokyo Tower lit up brightly in the foreground - so long as you get a room with a Tower view.