Apr 16

A weekend trip

The other week, at a dinner, I volunteered for what sounded like it could be an interesting trip, taking 2 launches (small, motor driven boats) from Putney up to Wallingford. can’t be too hard, we though.

The deal was that some friends were coming down river over 3.5 days, coaching a couple of women’s 8s and they needed to get the launches back up river, whilst the rowing boats and crews were bussed back. Sounded a good idea, in the diary and ready to go.

Now I’ve started doing a little detailed planning and it’s a little more epic than I though. It’s 80miles, through 25 locks, with a speed limit of just under 5 miles an hour for the majority of the way. It looks like it’s 9.5 hours on Saturday to get to our desired stopping place (although we may have to stop short and camp) and at least 12 hours on Sunday. That’s a LOT of time to be sitting in a small boat.

Practically planning, food and clothes are easy. Bathroom breaks are easy – there’s public toilets at most of the locks. The difficulty is the electronics, or rather the phones. I had planned on tweeting and videoing and picturing my trip, but as the N95 battery lasts less than a day and I’m not guaranteed the ability to charge up the phone, it looks like I need to buy a spare or not bother, which is annoying.

Anyway, if you’re out and about the Thames over the weekend and see two launches being driven at the speed limit, give a wave. I’m not going to have time to stop, but I can always wave back.

Thames Map (screenshot from National Trails site)

Thames Map (screenshot from National Trails site)

Image from National Trail

Apr 13

Amazon Fail

Update: this becomes even more confusing.

A cataloguing error, a lack of response from Amazon followed by confusing messages and a lot of jumping to conclusions (including me) led to a social media storm that can only damage the reputation of the brand. As BL says, you need to think about how you monitor your brand all the time, not just 9-5 Mon-Fri; although Amazon did appear to be responsive over the weekend even if the answers were not fully clear.

According to Amazon, they’ve been having a ‘glitch’ over the weekend that has stripped the sales ranking form a number of books, thereby reducing the likelihood of the books appearing in searches, so impacting sales.

The only problem with this is that the glitch appears to affect gay/lesbian/sex titles only and even then the impact is inconsistent, which is unexpected if there was a logic behind it. Playboy and Girls Gone Wild is not adult under the glitch, but literature with a gay themes is, even when there’s no sex written about. Apparently, before they called it a glitch, they had called it a policy according to the email received by Mark Probst

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

If you’re on Twitter, or have been reading feeds over the weekend, you’ll have seen this. It appears that the power of public opinion, published all over the web has forced Amazon to update a policy to a glitch and then to fix it. But is it enough to rescue their reputation or the new meaning of Amazon Rank

Apr 03

Guardian Word of Mouth Chocolate Tasting


Last night, the Guardian Word of Mouth blog ran a chocolate tasting and they really did deliver. There was a room full of pieces of chocolate Easter Eggs for us to enjoy, ranging from supermarket basic types all the way up to gourmet organic chocolate. As well as bowls and bowls of choc, there was the opportunity to try some port or Courvoisier. or some Gonzalez Byass exclusive sherry or even to get a demonstration of chocolate making. It was a brilliant evening, ably organised by Suse and everyone looked liked they were enjoying themselves as they ate their way to a chocolate haze.

Writing this up, there’s definitely on improvement they could make – a list of brands to take away so I could remember what I liked! BUt I have some recollection. My favourite from the eggs was the Daylesford Organic dark chocolate. The chocolate truffles from Paul A Young, both the Guinness and the basil were brilliant for my favourite taste overall was the ‘raw’ chocolate from Mayan Magic, who gave a demonstration of making your own (coming to Selfridges next week)

Chocsaway on Twitter

Chocsaway on Twitter

Update: here’s some more posts about the event

Eternally Neurotic