Jan 25

Eating Clean

One of the Facebook groups I belong to is a running one.There are over 13000 members and people post for all sorts of reasons, to report good races, to get motivation to get out there, for general support. One of the common themes is about losing weight, a common reason for why people want to start running. Whenever the topic comes up, you can guarantee one thing, there’ll be a few people who think the answer is one thing only – eating clean!

Now, first of all, they never explain what that means. It most definitely does not mean that you are irradiating everything to remove any possibility of biological contanimation – which it could do :-) The most common definition seems to be this (from Fitness Magazine) – “clean eating is about eating whole foods, or “real” foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.” But this has become a mantra that is being said without any understanding of the question!

One poster this week talked about looking to lose weight and that she needed to belong to Slimmer’s World to help her. Immediately came the call to ‘eat clean’ but a moment perusal of the food suggested would confirm that seems to be a philosophy the company follows. No, it was dismissed as a fad diet and all you needed to do is eat clean. There was no recognition that the peer pressure or support of belonging to a group – even if commercial – provides incentives for people to manage their incentive.

The other assumption is that if only one eats clean, then one would lose weight. I can guarantee that if I did nothing but eat fast food I could eat weight – I just have to eat a lot less calories than I’m using. I wouldn’t necessarily be the healthiest, but I’d be losing weight. And the opposite would also happen, I can eat as clean as I like,but if my portions were huge then I’d be putting weight on. It’s not just about the food you eat, it’s about how much.

Taking up a exercise will not, on its own, lead to weight loss. Eating clean will not, on its own, lead to weight loss. You need to eat less calories than you use in exercise, and have the right balance of food types to be the healthiest you can be. Luckily, I’ve always loved cooking and creating meals from scratch, so I’ve also tended to ‘eat clean’. But now, I just eat slightly less of it.

Jan 24

2015 week notes 3

Activities

  • I had nothing planned for this week (well, I was supposed to be on holiday), so it was a quiet week apart from work and running. So today I went for lunch at La Trompette, a local restaurant, for a little treat.
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Reading

  • Although I seem to be reading 4 books concurrently, I’ve only finished one and that was read just today. The Last Runaway, by Tracy Chevalier would not be my usual choice but is one I need to read for book club. And I’m happy to have done so. It’s a story of a Quaker girl emigrating to Ohio in 1850 and her involvement with runaway slaves. There’s no doubt Chevalier can write and this kept me involved all the way through (hence being able to read in half a day)
  • Of Smell Tests and Sanity Checks. Thoughts by JP Rangaswami on how all senses come into play, even when not expected.
  • Why Japanese don’t use LinkedIn An exploration by James Riney on the cultural reasons why LinkedIn is not used much in Japan. Business and social is far more mixed, so Facebook (or equivalent) is used more – and using LinkedIn is a sort of statement that you are looking for a new job, which would be disloyal to your current employer.

Running

  • I hate winter, even worse, I hate winter and travelling on public transport, where the germs float around and it’s too easy to catch a cold. Couldn’t manage the long run last Sunday, but got into gym on Monday, then run to work Wednesday and Friday, with treadmill and weights Thursday. Got out of the train at Putney and Friday and discovered Wandsworth Park has no lights at all, so progress was slow, hoping I didn’t hit ice or run into a bench!. But early mornings do give you wonderful sunrises.

Sunrise over Battersea Park

Jan 18

Restaurant Review: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Another big one of the list. Heston’s Bray restaurant’s are definitely on my list, but let’s start off with a London one. The Dinner restuarant connected to hotel, like quite a few of the top starred restaurants, this hotel being the Oriental Mandarin near Hyde Park. I wonder if the hotel connection means the chef (or his company) has less investment with the hotel taking a higher risk?

I actually started the experience over the road, at Harvey Nicholls, managing to grab a bar stool for a little glass of house champagne. The plave was full of pre-Christmas shoppers, with shopping bag to person ratio pretty high.

Pre-lunch champagne at Harvey Nichols

In the hotel, I had to ask to find the restaurant, as it’s not well signposted (it’s straight up the 2nd step of steps and then to your left). The welcome was good and I was led through to my table with a view of the park or a window into the kitchen. I was given my choice of view, I chose the park.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Dinner does not have an ever changing menu, depending on what is available, but has a pretty fixed choice that, looking at reviews, seems to rarely change. I’d spent some time thinking about what I was going to eat and decided that I was just going to go with the top recommended food, the signature dishes for starter and dessert. So first up was the Meat Fruit – a liver parfait in a mandarin jelly skin, with toast.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I’ve read that they get through so many of these that there is a form of assembly line to prepare them, so there could be a chance that care gets reduced. I have no idea if that was the case, it tasted great. Rich and smooth with the orange providing the citrus cut through. I was disappointed with the bread though. The menu said toast but it seemed to have been fried, there was a fair bit of fat on it. For me, the rich pate with the oily toast was too much, it went far better with the plain bread.

I went for the Iberica Pork chop next, with smoked cabbage, confit onion, apple, mead and Robert Sauce (i had to look this up – onion, butter, wine, pepper and mustard). The pork was cooked perfectly and the sauces were just right for me. I’m happy the sauce was not too mustardy, it’s never one of my favourites, it needs to be subtle (why do pre-made ham sandwiches almost always have mustard on them?). The smoked cabbage was the best surprise, loved it, especially how it worked with the grilled pork, bringing out the charred flavour.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Finally, the tipsy cake. Pre-ordered at the start, this was just as everyone else says. Lovely pineapple and a bready doughy pudding that swam in the creamy sauce. I could have done with another one!

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

My closed the meal with some port and the ‘free’ course, chocolate ganache (or was it mousse) with a carraway biscuit. I’d been surprised there were no upfront additional courses, but the extra dessert was worth not having that.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Service throughout was excellent. I was addressed by name and the guy in charge of the section came by to chat a fair bit, talking about the restaurant, running, other restaurants and a quick guide to sauce making – my view of the kitchen was right in front of the sauce man with about 20 little saucepans all being managed. When I slipped out, via the bathroom, he even chased my out to say goodbye and check if I had enjoyed it! I never felt that my eating alone was unwelcome, which I have had in other places.

Excellent experience, not as expensive as I expected, mainly because I only had 2 glasses of wine and I’d recommend for special occasions.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

Jan 18

2015 Week Notes 2

Activities

  • A birthday lunch started the week, the buffet brunch at Flesh and Buns is a brilliant value for money deal that they handle very well. A good catch up with Wine Club ;-)
  • Monday was marked by the arrival of new mattress. Considering the previous one was about 20 years old, I was amazed at how much material science had changed the mattress industry. One big question was why are they all now white? My old one had that classic blue stripe on it and there is nothing like that now. Anyway, one week sleeping and a weekend of lie-ins and the new one is definitely a hit.
  • I was supposed to have been flying out to San Francisco on Thursday, but due to work had to cancel. Not that happy, but it’s done. So onwards!
  • But because there was no holiday, I did get to go the the F1 Zoom Auction, which was a lovely evening bidding for photos taken by various F1 personalities. I bought one of them again….

Zoom Auction

Reading

  • A slow week this week, illness and too much work restricted reading time. I did finally read this – You’re 16, a paedophile, You don’t want to hurt anyone, what do you do. A hard and uncomfortable read, illustrating that more support is needed on early prevention, not just punishment.
  • Only 1 book completed, but a classic one. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman, published in 1974, is a reflection on the futility of war (in the context of Vietnam) when the cause is pointless. It considers what happens to the people who would fight an interstellar war when subject to relativity and how they could cope with home that is never the same. Most scifi – especially the visual media – never considers this, assuming somehow that FTL will make relativity irrelevant.

Running

  • A mixed week of running. Sunday was a planned 14m run, with 6-7 miles at marathon pace – so working hard for this stage of training. The Mp went well, but on the cool down, tired, caught my foot and down I went. SPLAT! Glasses bent, cuts on face, pouring blood and a very sore finger. Thanks to the nice man who picked me up and did his best to help me! I ended up jogging the rest of the way home (just over 2 miles) and after the birthday lunch spent the rest of the afternoon at A&E getting x-rayed and sorted out. One dislocated little finger was put back in place and strapped up for the next 4 weeks.
  • Managed another 7 miles on Tuesday, and then another thing in my bad week – a cold. Full aches and pains and then cough, cough, cough. So nothing happenning! It’s 12 weeks to the run, and there are plenty of 12 week training plans, so I’ll keep telling myself it’s still OK, despite the setbacks.

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Jan 10

2015 Week Notes 1

Shall we try these week notes again? Let’s see how far into the year we get :-)

Activities

  • Had the final checkup at the eye hospital following the detached retina last year. Discharged from there, although with warnings that because I now have a high probability of cataracts, I need to have regular opticians checkups. At least I can now get some new glasses!
  • I was supposed to go on a treasure hunt this week, but it got cancelled due to work issues, we’re now trying to get it rearranged. There was no easy first week back, we were hard at it, as the big project that I’ve been working towards for the past year finally kicked off. So expecting a lot of hours to be put in!

Reading

  • Only 1 article of note this week. Boing Boing’s How image board culture shaped Gamergate. Fascinating read about how a niche culture, where argument is currency, does not translate into mainstream where people don’t always care to argue.
  • Only 3 books finished this week, all fiction, all thrillers.

Running

  • 30 miles managed this week, still not quite up to the miles I need to have in my plan but slowly getting there. Not having much luck getting up and going running to work, it’s just too dark!
Jan 04

2015 Ambitions and Challenges

Having thought about this, read the articles, looked at my previous plans, I’ve decided I’m just going to make a list that includes things that are already on progress or has been booked and add more things over the year. So I’ve made a page for this – my Things to Do in 2015 – and will be tracking progress there as well as adding new things. So always open to suggestions!

Jan 01

A review of 2014

Before I look ahead, surely it’s time to take a quick look back, even if just for a reminder for myself. For the first time in a few years, I did not set any new year ambitions for 2014. I’d been made redundant and really, was not in the mood! I was focusing on finding a new role, not thinking beyond that. So I can’t do a review and see if I achieved them. However, they would have been the usual – fitness and expriences. it’s all about that. So what did I get up to? Time to take a look at the photos.

January was a quiet month – it was looking for jobs and going for interviews. But I did take advantage of a sunny day to visit Kew Gardens for the first time in the year. I go there quite a bit, as I have bought membership – definitely worth looking at if you live in the area and want to support plant research (you know, the stuff that may keep us fed as the climate changes)

Kew January 2014

Once I’d got myself sorted, I too advantage of the opportunity to take a long weekend and popped over to Naples, primarily to see Pompeii. Having read reviews about visiting the preserved city in the summer, with the crowds and the heat, I was quite happy to have a dry winter weekend and the place almost to myself.

Pompeii

Pompeii

I got a couple of F1 events in during the early part of the year. First, the Zoom auction, which sells off signed photos from F1 stars to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. There’s another one this January and you can buy some from the online store. I also went along to watch a filming of the Sky F1 show, something I did a couple of times. It’s always fun watching TV being made. Finally, the Not a FOTA Forum, an event run for fans by the ex-Secretary of the FOTA org, who got along some F1 insiders to talk and entertain.

Zoom Auction

the F1 Show

Not A FOTA Forum

Running went well in the first part of the year. I completed a couple of half marathons and then the big one – the London Marathon. I was very happy to get round in 4:30. No entry for me in 2015, but I’ve decided to run the Paris Marathon, so training is full speed ahead for that

London Marathon

The week after the marathon, I got the chance to go skiing, through a friend. Last time I tried skiing was when I worked in Scotland and dry slope lessons were part of the social club activities, but I’d never tried on snow. I think that’ll be my last skiing holiday though. It turns out I don’t do the mix of mountains and skis very well, or rather skis and edges. I’m not afraid of much, but I experienced physical terror on a couple of occasions. I did not like it!

Val d'Isere

June brought a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix, via a few days in New York and then Toronto to see old friends. Loved this trip, good catchups, good food and a great time in Montreal, which has to be one of the best places to hold F1, with the circuit right near the city with plenty of public transport.

Canada GP 2014 Friday

The summer had a few of my regular events. I officiated at the Joint Services Regatta again, went to Kew fete and visited Goodwood and the British GP – it was a bit rainy for the latter, but the sun was out for everything else

JSR 2014

Goodwood 2014

Silverstone Saturday 2014

In July, I ended up in hospital having emergency surgery for a detached retina, followed by 2 weeks bed rest before slowly getting back into things. All my running got put on hold and the autumn plan of 3 half marathons in 3 weeks did not happen, but I did manage to squeeze in a local 10k and half marathon in September,before heading up to Birmingham to run the Great Birmingham run, another half, with my sister. With minimal trianing over the summer, I was quite happy just to get round!

A few local events in the autumn, with the Tall Ships Festival visting Greenwich and the amazing installation Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red at the Tower of London. I went fairly early in the process of building this and it was relatively quiet, but I’m not surprised at the corwds that developed over the weeks, via word of mouth as it was just an amazing site. I bought a poppy too. I managed to get to watch the Lord Mayor’s show for the first time (the problem with living in London is doing London events!). And I won the Army Rowing Club Player of the Year cup, for all my help over the past 19 (?) years

Tall Ships Festival, Greenwich

Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Player of the Year award

The year ended with a bit more F1, with a trip to Abu Dhabi GP (having won tickets at Silverstone) and also a prize trip to take a tour around the Mercedes F1 factory. I always say that if you never enter competitions, you’ll never win, so you always have to take a chance!

Sunday Abu Dhabi 2014

Mercedes F1 Factory Tour

That’s it! A pretty full and fun year. I’m already got my plans for 2015 for holidays, but it’s the bits between them as well that make the year interesting.

Nov 14

Restaurant Review: Hawksmoor

At a slight loose end around Covent Garden, I decided to make a quick lunch stop at the Hawksmoor. Definitely one of my favourite steak restaurants, I don’t get there nearly enough.

You can go all out and spend a lot of money on steak, but this time I just decided to try out their Express Lunch. 3 Choices of starters and deserts, 5 mains to choose from, it’s a pretty reasonable £24 for 2 courses, £27 for 3. I ended up going with Potted Mackerel followed by the Rib-eye steak.

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The Mackerel was well presented, served in a little glass pot, but was only accompanied by 3 slices of crispbread, which I found was one slice too few, even thought I’d spread the fish lavishly. Unfortunately, the crispbread was too crisp! It shattered into small bits when you tried to spread on the fish mixture. The fish itself was OK, but nothing special. An adequate starter only.

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The steak was 250g, just the right size for lunch and cooked medium as requested. A lovely piece of meat, served just sitting on the plate. I’d chosen buttered greens to go with it, and they were actually dark green instead of white cabbage I’d been provided at a previous restaurant so very happy with that. If I had to choose a last meal, steak and greens would be high on my list! I drank some very nice Moulin de Gassac, Syrah/Carignan to go with the steak.

Hawksmoor also do brilliant cocktails and deserts, so well worth a visit at any time

Hawksmoor Seven Dials on Urbanspoon

Nov 09

The Lord Mayor’s Show

I’ve watched the Lord Mayor’s Show for years on telly, but despite living in London, it’s one of those events that I’ve never watched live. Like Remembrance Sunday, London Marathon, Trooping of the Colour etc. But I’m slowly working my way through them.

The Lord Mayor’s Show is one of the oldest of the big London events in origin, with the website stating it has its origins with King John in 1215, when the elected Mayor of City of London was made to come along to the next door City of Westminster to swear allegiance to the Crown. And so it continued over the centuries, by horseback, boat and now coach and horses, an annual parade of military, guilds and charities.

It was easier than I thought to find a place, wandering up along the Strand about 10:30, I stopped in the first clear place I saw, which happened to be right opposite the entrance to the Royal Courts of Justice, where the Lord Mayor alights to swear his oath – this year it’s Alan Yarrow, the 687th version of the position. It got a lot busier later, but this was about an hour before the front of the procession got there and over 2 hours before the Lord Mayor.

I took a LOT of photos – it was a long parade – and they can all be found on Flickr. But here’s some of my favourites.

Marching along with the Marines. I have NO idea what this guy was doing.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Gog and Magog – the giants take part in every parade

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

A lot of the military units had members in WW1 uniform

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Some of the uniforms were even older – one group were all dressed as soldiers from Waterloo. They even had a French group, with a Napolean.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

I wonder how big the market is for Guild Robes? I’m guessing there are only a couple of makers

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

At the end of the parade were all the horse and carriages, bringing along the officials. So dotted all lover London are these carriages that get brought out may once per year? They were gorgeous!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

The guys in red are Watermen – when the parade was on the Thames, they were the ones that powered it and they are still involved now. The guys in black are Yeoman Warders.

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Trumperters announced the arrival!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

And finally, at the end, the Gold State Coach, carrying the Lord Mayor – and this year, a Magna Carta as well. The coach can normally be found at the Museum of London and it’s well worth a look. Under the weak November sunshine, it looked gorgeous!

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

If you’re in London, it’s well worth a trying to see this parade.

Oct 30

Not all Women?

You’ve probably seen this video. The ‘highlights’ of walking around New York for 10 hours, but not in a good ‘look at all this tourist stuff we visited’

The video troubled me and not just because it seems to be a very narrow selection of choices of the types of men who do interact with her. That could be deliberate, to get more coverage, or it could be as stated, that the majority of comments from white guys were not recorded well. It’s a film by a charity trying to get views and attention, it’s going to do everything it can to get watched and talked about/

It troubles me in two specific ways. The first is my reaction, the not all women reaction. I can empathise with men who use #notallmen in reaction to reports of harassment. it is human nature to want to put things in stories that relate to their own experience, so if it’s never happened to you or people you know, then it is hard to understand. That was my first reaction – in all the time I have lived in New York, doing lots of walking, I never got a commented on at all. So what is different?

You have to move beyond the first reaction, recognise it for what it is and then move to understanding, not explaining and denying. Then ask yourself the question – what can you do to change it.

The second troubling thing is tied into the notallmen reaction. How have we, as a society, for into the situation where good morning is seen as a threat by women or where men can be scared of saying it. Many of the comments on the video are about how can this ALL be harassment when it was lots of general greetings. Because it is perceived as harassment. Because the experience of this woman and many others like her is that the body language, eye contact and tone that go along with the bland comment are threatening. So how can we change both reactions – that men can just demand attention and that women now see that as a threat.

Oct 24

Restaurant Review: Great Queen Street

Restaurant: Great Queen St, 32 Great Queen St, Holborn

I decided to pop into here one wet Monday evening on the way back from work. I thought it’d be quiet. I was wrong! They managed to squeeze me into a small table, right by the bar and I watched as the rest of the restaurant quickly filled up. It may not be that buys every Monday, as there was a large party taking up half the restaurant, but I did get the feeling that it is never quiet. It’s not quite a gastropub, more like a restaurant with a very large bar.

Partridge at Great Queen St

I just decided to have the one course, partridge, with new season cannelloni beans and a bit of water cress garnish. I’d paired this with the side dish of ‘greens’, although I was disappointed that this was white cabbage. Very nicely done white cabbage, but I was in the mood for something a bit more dark green to go with the richness of the bird. Maybe some chard.

There was a small wait for the partridge, which they had warned me about. The bird had to be roasted! The main dish was tasty, cooked well, lying on top of the beans and tomato sauce. It was also a fun dish to eat – the finger bowl provided giving permission to pick up the bits to get the last remnants of the meat off the bones.

The menu appears to change regularly, with a definite season vibe to it. The wine list is all Old World, mainly French, although quite small – or should that be select and exclusive? What that means is that the wines by the glass/carafe are also limited in choice, but I did enjoy the Poivre d’Ane Syrah/Grenache blend.

Overall, a lovely place to have a meal and I get the feeling it would be easy to spend a fun evening with friends here.

Great Queen Street on Urbanspoon

Oct 12

A New bathroom is delivered

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have seen my daily photos charting the renovation of my bathroom over the last few weeks. Finally it’s done!!! After 2 weeks of having to shower at work, it’s over and I get my own bathroom back.

I’m pretty sure that the bathroom was original, with the suite installed when the flat was built back in the 50s. The council added central heating since then – running the pipes in front of the bath, but everything else has stayed the same. This is why you have a toilet cistern that may contain asbestos and a cast iron waste pipe on a very weird angle that means the toilet needs to be raised up a few inches off the floor. But in generally, it works, so no need for me to change it, up until this year.

Now it’s done and I’m happy, especially with the increase in storage so I can hide everything away. :-) It was installed through London Bathrooms, a small local firm. Very happy with their work and with the excellent finish. I gave the owner (Rufus Landricombe) instructions and he recommended the suite and fixtures/fittings; I’m not someone who wants to spend ages on details of this! And the fitter was extremely tidy, leaving it all packed away at the end of each day. I would definitely recommend them.

What it looks like now

Bathroom Day 11

Bathroom Day 11

Bathroom Day 11

What it looked like

Bathroom Day 0

Bathroom Day 0

Oct 09

SMW:Wimbledon and IBM

Another session from Social Media Week London, this one social media, Wimbledon and their partnership with IBM.

Alex Willis (Wimbledon)

In 2011 the Wimbledon team set out a 3 year plan to improve their digital experience. At the time they had started to engage on social, with 300k FB fans and 150k Twitter followers. They had 2 websites (one for all year round and one for the championships), and used radio and video; they had an app same as site. But their channels were not connected.

Their 3 year plan was about:

  • Extending reach
  • Ensuring everything on brand
  • Extend channels and apps

Their position is “to be the next best thing to being there”

  • Some numbers: 1.7m downloads of mobile app, 400k on iPad. These both provide a personalised experience. They have a ‘live at Wimbledon TV channel online/apps/YouTube. They had 1.3m streams – 58% of this on the .com. 17.1m visit website; 4.5m social audience. The .com is 80% of the digital audience – on desktop. (Wimbledon audience very different to CPG trends for example – so at work?, content needs the real estate?)
  • The have developed a clear tone of voice: Tradition, heritage, prestige, pinnacle, English. A slightly bumbly English gentleman. They look to be relevant, useful, unique.
  • During the Championships, they have 1 person per platform, to make sure they make the best of the each platform and to ensure the different roles are clear. (this is temp only, rest of year it is just Alex)
  • They have far higher outbound activity and earned conversations than the other grand slams. They have extra freedom as they are not limited by commercial constraints, they don’t promote sponsors and they can stay true to the brand.
  • They have started to focus on content partners for the different platforms. They worked with Grabyo for video; with specific player interviews and Q&A. Partnering with players who then shared on own accounts; they did some quirky stuff with them as well in videos. . They ran different promotions per platform, eg a Queue Selfie on Twitter, #MyWimbledon on Google+, Live video channel on YouTube. They had a Facebook photobooth in the players lounge, but it did not get any traction. They tried a Murray Digigraph, tweet and get a response from Murray.
  • They have experimented a lot with Video headlines on YouTube, they can be a lot more informal then their same video on their own site. They also did a content partnership with YouTubers and got Tom Daley involved in a partnership.
    New in 2014 was Hill vs World. Which was an in-ground activation, something they are trying to do more. They asked questions on the screen and compared answers with those not there.
  • They have tested out foreign language, so 3 Chinese feeds on Weibo, geotargeted Japanese content on Facebook
  • They have had very good growth – without paid media. FB1.6m to 2.4m; Instagram 100k to 200k; Twitter 700k to 1.18m; G+ to 1.2m. YT 15m views in the 2 wks, a 61% growth. Facebook ORGANIC reach of 12.7m on 6th July.

Chris Thomas (IBM)

Their requirements were frequent data updates (every 5 mins); the ability to identify trends and themes; be part of the conversation; demo the power of social media to their clients; provide easy to use visualisations; fully automated; offend nobody (so heavy filtering and management). Their social media hub at Wimbledon was in public view and was used for client entertainment.

Tech wise they provided Watson Content analytics, which is NL analysis. The IBM emerging tech services provided apps; the IBM research/Customer Experience labs identified influencers. It was all hosted in the Soft Layer (cloud). It was all presented through a very, very nice dashboard.

The dashboard allowed you to dig, slice and dice in may ways. Volume of conversations, trending topics, sentiment. Eg on 3 July sentiment dipped negatively, all because Sharapova commented about Tendulka. (#Wimbledon mentioned stayed positive). They could did down to show what was being said, they could then amend and change topics to keep focus on the tennis.

They measured influencers across the day/topics and this allowed them to understand the conversations and connect with it. They measure (and this seemed to be on Twitter only):

  • Engagement – responses
  • Activty – number of posts
  • Authority – who RT etc
  • Timeliness – how quick were responses
  • Followers – numbers

In summary, their key learnings were to integrate the digital and social strategies, you need a consistent brand experience and you need to organise yourself to listen and act. You need to have the right people in place who understand the digital world.

Some responses to audience questions

  • An audience question was about the bottom line and Wimbledon are in the slightly unusual position that it does not matter for them, there is no objective to make money from the digital. But it does open up opportunities as they are using the metrics to identify new territories to focus on based on interest, allows them to focus.
  • They have started a process to engage with the other grand slams to co-ordinate some activity across the year.
    For IBM it is a showcase for new business to show what they can do with partners
  • Wimbledon continuously look to innovate (and are planning next year). They tried a Fantasy format this year.
  • They are starting to use their historic archives to keep engagement going all year.
Oct 07

Sushi Tetsu

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Less then 5 minutes walk from where I work is a tiny little sushi place called Sushi Tetsu. I’ve walked past it plenty of times and always meant to book. When I finally got round to looking it up, it turned out that it was almost impossible to get into. It has 7 seats only and opens for booking only 2 days a month, when you apparently have to be very, very stubborn and keep redialing until you get through. Or? Or, you can try to keep an eye on cancellations on Twitter and have the number on speed dial. Which is what I did and was lucky enough to pick up a single place for a Friday evening.

They ask you to pre-book if you want the Omakase, which is basically a tasting menu with special sashimi, more fish sashimi, nigiri, a hand roll and a desert of a sweet omelette. That’s what I chose, so when I got settled in my place all I had to choose was the sake. Then I just watched the chef Toru prepare the food for us all round the bar and chatted occasionally with his wife Harumi about travel, tv, food bloggers and other restaurants. (she recommended Hedone!). Because of the setting, I only ended up taking the one photo, the rest of the time I just enjoyed watching a master at work. Everything was done with care, in a ballet of prep as Toru kept all 7 of us supplied with a steady supply through our various meals.

From the first taste of the edemame beans, all the way through the courses, I loved this sushi. A huge mixture of tastes and textures, many I’d never tried before. I loved the seared marinated mackerel. The seaweed marinated turbot was just sublime. The snow crab was sweet and the the seared scallop just perfect.

Hopefully, I’ll get lucky again with the phone another day and get another chance to experience the show.

Sushi Tetsu on Urbanspoon

Oct 05

Hedone again

So Andy Hayler, a great food blogger (who is from Chiswick too), pointed out that there are 992 foodblogs writing about London, or at least 992 who have signed up for Urbanspoon’s blog list. I don’t pretend to be a regular food blogger but I do LOVE eating out..and taking photos of the food, so I thought I’d join the list :-)

The last time I booked for Hedone, I ended up being unconscious on the operating table having my retina re-attached at the time I was supposed to be eating. So this time, not that I’m superstitious or anything :-) I didn’t book too much in advance just rung up an hour before to get a ‘bar stool’, which I normally where I end up sitting. I chose the 7 course menu, with accompanying wine. I didn’t take photos of everything, but I did take some notes! This is my 4th time eating here, the last time was in February. Even with only a few visits, the maitre’d still remembered me – last time I was there I was reading the Naples guidebook and she came overto ask how my trip had been. For someone who is really bad at faces…this is extremely impressive!

The meal started off with a couple of little bites that were not on the list. There was a little cherry meringue, with fois gras and raw button mushroom slices. Loved the cherry and fois gras combination, the button mushrooms provided an earthy flavour that did not quite gel. Then a tiny cone with mini tuna nicoise salad. That was tasty. The first listed starter was poached oyster with granny smith foam and a violet. This seems to be a standard here. Didn’t take a photo this time, but here’s one I made earlier.

Birthday dinner at Hedone

Next up was a cucumber medley – cucumber flan, cucumber sauce and a cucumber granita. Hedone used to serve a unami flan and they seemed to have used this as a base and added the cucumber to it. The sauce carried the pure essence of cucumber and was gorgeous! Next, another staple of the restaurant, which was sweet onion and pear. I could have eaten a lot more of these

Hedone pear and onion

On paper, the liquid parmesan ravioli, with onion foam, bits of smoked ham and more sweet onion, was potentially my least favourite, as I don’t really like parmesan, I have no idea how they have liquid cheese that does not burn the tongue! But it worked extremely well,the cheese flavour modified well by the onion. The plate was scraped clean!

Hedone - parmesan ravioli

The ‘main’ now: venison, beets, radish (and a little more onion). Just great ingredients served lovingly, nothing too clever here.

Hedone - venison

Then the first of the deserts was a trio of lemon with figs. Lemon sorbet, cream and jelly (or syrup or something). I’d watched all the figs being cut up earlier in the afternoon and seen the care that went into making sure that everyone was perfect. The whole combination was great.

Figs and lemon at Hedone

Finally, another standard, the chcocolate and raspberry desert. The sharp raspberry powder just set of the chocolate perfectly.

Hedone Raspberry desert

All in all, I love this place, would go far more often if I could!

Hedone on Urbanspoon

Oct 03

SMW London – Social across the Shopper Journey

For Social Media Week London, I managed to get to go to a few sessions, fitting them in around the working day. The first one I attended was run by Ogilvy, who presented about using social across a shopper journey – Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty, Advocacy.

Well presented and a good model, it sort of set the scene however for the week – I’m probably not quite the right audience for this week, it looks to be more targeted as the less experienced end of those who work (or would like to work) in social media. I’ve been using a similar model for years! So I only attended a few talks and looked for some new figures and case studies

If you’re interested here are the slides:

Some interesting facts and figures that came out of this session

  • 22% of Facebook fans (of a brand) were ambassadors. But 55% of ambassadors are not Facebook fans. So you need to look outside the obvious and easy places if you want to engage with different types of advocates. Just like it used to be before Facebook
  • As social moves to mobile, we continue to look for easier ways to pay – as form fillign is terrible on the phone. WeChat did a brilliant promotion to get people to add their details, leveraging New Year when Chinese typically send people envelopes of money. 5million joined, 20million envelopes sent. All of them added payment details which can be used for future social purchases
  • Adding a + to a bitly link can provide numbers (if not liked down). This was actually something I didn’t know, so worth going for that!
Aug 08

The Recovery Road

Thought it was time to give an update on where I am with the eye The headline – it’s getting better!

I spent 7 days days doing nothing but lying on my side to keep the gas bubble in the right place, to keep the retina pressed on the back of the eye and give it a chance to heal. I went back to my own place the following week and still spent a lot of time horizontal, but was moving about more and more. A check-up on the Thursday confirmed that everything was healing to plan, although there was a slight concern over the pressure in the eye, so I was given some new drops to use, beta-blockers. I found it slightly strange that eyedrops can impact the breathing, but apparently they can so I was asked numerous times if I suffered from asthma as that was a contra-indication.

The following week I returned to work, but not full time. Staring a a computer all day was not recommended, so I needed to vary my activity. I did short days all week which were still exhausting – most likely a residual effect of the anaesthetic. This week I’m still working shorter days but slowly getting back to normal in energy and the ability to do work.

As of today, 3 weeks after the surgery, I still don’t have full vision, but it is improving everyday. The border between the gas and the liquid is slowly moving down the eye and I can see more and more over it – when I look through the one eye. Using the two, it’s still a very weird experience as it the blocked area just gets in the way!

My next appointment is at the start of September, so I’m hoping by then all the gas will have been absorbed and I’ll have my normal (glasses-enhanced) vision back!

Jul 16

Emergency Surgery

I had a lovely weekend planned. A haircut, lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, the the British 10k race on Sunday. All of that got blown away Friday afternoon when I looked up to find my eye full of floaters, dark strands filling the vision. They settled down, but over the next few hours, a blurred spot started to grow at the edges of my site and the eye now appeared to be filled with dust. Myy first thought was to pop in to the opticians on Saturday morning to see if there was a problem but some internet reading on the NHS site led to articles about retinal detachment and worried me enough to decide to give the 111 service a ring, just to check.

Now, as I’d just got off the train (I did not want to walk the 10mins home if I had to go right out again), the initial conversation was a little silly, The first thing they want to do is find out where you are just in case they need to send an ambulance and Chiswick Station was not in their list, so I offered them a pub name. They eventually found something that matched but seem to have issues without postcodes, which is just sill for a service that is part of an emergency response, you may never know where you may be if you want to call them, We worked our way through the questions – no bleeding, no breathing issues, no migraine, but, after a few minutes on hold as my call taker consulted, i was told to make my way to A&E within an hour and given the address of the nearest. But this was a mistake, as they should have told me to go to the specialist eye A&E at the Western Eye Hospital. When I got to Charing Cross (which is in Hammersmith, no idea why), the receptionists thought i should be elsewhere but said i should be seen anyway. The doctor immediately sent me to the eye place!

Two hours after arriving, I got seen by the doctor who spent a long time staring at the back of my eye and as long on the phone to her boss. I definitely had a retinal tear, she thought I had fluid behind the retina but there was nothing she could do then, so I had to return in the morning where I would be assessed by her boss and a decision made. Just in case, I was to be nil by mouth after 1am.

Saturday morning, 8am, I was back. Pretty much the first to be seen, the next doctor spent slightly less time looking at my eye and decided that i was a surgery candidate. But his boss, the consultant/surgeon, needed to make the final decision. So more hanging around the waiting room for her to arrive. She was already on her way in to do a procedure on a child as an emergency, it looked like i was to be the other on the list. Finally, I was examined by the surgeon and it was all agreed. I needed emergency surgery to fix the tear and get the retina back connected with the eye. Continuing the trend, the most senior spent the least time looking at the eye. The more experience you have, the easier it is to recognise things.

So I was admitted and found a bed and a gown. A few hours later, off to surgery, under a full anaesthetic. The decision was to fix the tear cryogenically and inject a gas bubble into the eye to keep the retina in the right place. From going into the operating theatre to waking up took 2 hours. They’d left me with a patch to protect the eye. I then had a choice to stay overnight, which given I had to be back in for checks in the morning I decided was the best thing to do. I did help that I was in a private room.

Everything was checked as Ok in the morning, so off home I went. But the surgery does not fix it immediately. I have to stay lying down on my left side, keeping the bubble pressed on the right side to keep thee retina flat until the fluid behind it has gone. All I can see is light and dark and large movements, until the gas bubble has been absorbed and the eye starts working again. There is a 90% chance that all will be fine, but still a risk i have lost some sight. We just don’t know until it heals. So 5-7 days lying down, another week off work before I go back for a checkup then still a few months for everything to get back to normal. It’s just one day at a time.

Jun 15

An F1 Pit Lane walk

Canada is one of the few F1 circuits that offer access on the Thursday before the race meet starts. You don’t even need to have a race ticket to access the track. So off we went to hang around the pitlane for 3 hours – along with a lot of other people! But it was not that crowded, the circuit had done this plenty of times before and had the organisation sorted. A queue, a bus to the pitlane and then the chance to queue up for driver autographs or just walk up and down the garages.

Neither of us wanted to get autographs – the queue was long, you never knew who you would get and neither of us tend to collect them – so we just went straight to the cars, taking lots and lots of photos. We also saw quite a few drivers heading out for their track walk.

Back into town and a bit of tourism – the Notre Dame Basilica. Built by the Francophone community, it’s completely different to the churches I usually visit, with the English reformation stripping out all the decoration back to the raw stone. I prefer the unadorned grandeur, but I can see the reasoning behind the decoration.

Montreal June 5 2014

We ended the day with a trip to Crescent St, which is blocked off and turned into a F1 party street, with lots of sponsor stalls and events. This is supported by the official sponsors; a few blocks over on Peel St seems to be slightly more unofficial, with non-sponsors getting into the act. Both a fun places to wander around! We bumped into a few F1 fans we knew from Twitter and ended up with a few drinks.

Jun 15

On the train to Montreal

Wednesday was another travel day. I met up with Sofia at the train station and we jumped on the 5 hour trip to Montreal. Definitely not as much beautiful countryside as out last train trip (Prague to Budapest) but pleasant enough. The plane trip itself would have been cheaper (we went business), but when you add on costs to get to and from airports, the time for that, the time waiting, the train was a far more pleasant and convenient experience, when you add in the large seats and the free drinks and meal.

The rest of the day was basically eating, a few drinks and a lot of lazing around! The hotel was to the north of the town centre, near the Village and the Latin Quarter, with a high level of students and good, cheap places to eat. The row of pink balls all along this section of the street gave an indication that this was the ‘Gay Villiage’ – or that could be just because that is what it was called on Google maps!