May 11

2015 Week Notes 17

London Marathon 2015


  • A spent all of Sunday marshalling at the London Marathon. and I wrote all about it at that link. A very good day and well worht volunteering if you ever get the opportunity.
    London Marathon 2015
  • Another trip to the theatre, this time with Wine Club, to see American Buffalo, by David Mamet, with Damian Lewis, John Goodman and Tom Sturridge. As with my previous visit (to see The Ruling Class), this was a revival of a play, this from 1975. It wasn’t quite as set in its age as the frist one, although it was staged as set in that time. The cast was good, but I think all of us were a little disappointed, with sections of it not keeping our attentions.
  • A last minute decision was made to go somewhere for the Bank Holiday weekend so a trip to Gloucester was booked. traveled there on the Friday – it was only just over 2 hours by train – and then took a trip up to Worcester on the Saturday first. A tour round the cathedral, A Tudor House and the town museum followed. There’s a fuller write up over in this post on the Worcester visit. Worcester cathedral is the burial place of King John, a good place to visit in the 800th anniversary year of Magna Carta.

    Worcester Cathedral


Only 1 book read and no articles saved. Mmm, better do something about that.


Still nothing. I’ll get round to it soon.

May 10

A trip to Worcester

This was the first half of my weekend away, a chance to go and tick two cathedrals off my list. Worcester is only 40mins by train from my base in Gloucester, but trains were only every 2 hours, so I had to make sure I kept to good timings.


I was hoping to take a quick look at the Guildhall, built in 1721, but it was closed for a private function. I only got to see the statues of the Charles 1 and 11 outside.

Worcester Cathedral

A short stroll down the High Street to Worcester Cathedral and it turned out I was just in time for a guided tour. It was a quiet day and there were only 3 of us on it, but we got a good trip around the history of the place. Although weirdly, the tour guide missed out two of the key burials in the building which was surprising given their impact on British history. First of all, Arthur, Prince of Wales was buried there, who died in nearly Ludlow. If he hadn’t there would have been no Henry VIII, no reformation, no Church of England and no Elizabeth 1. It would have been a very different country.

Worcester Cathedral

The second burial was of King John (well, most of him, his heart was buried in Newark where he died). Without him here would be no Magna Carta. I’m pretty sure that the changes associated with that may have come about eventually, but John was the catalyst. Arthur had a very ornate chantry for his burial, but John was placed right there in the chancel in front of the alter.

Worcester Cathedral

Although the foundations are Norman and a lot of the fabric is medieval, the cathedral has been extensive restored and there is a lot of George Gilbert Scott around the place

Worcester Cathedral

Just round the corner from the cathedral, there was the remains of the Royal Worcester Porcelein works, with a shop and a museum but it looks like the rest of the place is being turned into houses.


Heading back into town, I took a Tour around the Tudor House, run by a local community group, with a series of rooms set up to illustrate the house through various ages as it was occupied by a variety of trades such as weavers, tailors and bakers. In the 1800’s, it even had a bowling alley.

Worcester Tudor House

The final visit of the day was to the town museum, which had a lot of interesting displays, including one of Worcestershire Sauce through the ages. I was disappointed there was no history of Worcester display, as I tend to like learning about the towns like that.

Worcester Museum

May 09

2015 Week Notes 16


Thames Towpath 10

  • I had a physio appointment and a fracture clinic appointment, for the consultant to take a look at my finger. She wasn’t too happy and started talking about joint replacements – in, what appeared to me at least, a slighly gleeful as was she discussed a new type of joint she could try. Next appointment made for June, so we’ll see what my progress is by then.
  • Drinks out with the team and with clients. Over some red wine, we discussed running and marathons, leading to 4 of them deciding to sign up to the Brighton marathon next year and nominating me as ‘coach’. they followed through the next day and we now have Tuesday morning running club :-)
  • Went to watch the new Avengers film. I did enjoy it, but still think the first one has the edge. Also, even though I can suspend my belief to go with superheroes with special powers, some of the silly things they did with straightforward physical rules were annoying.
  • I marshalled at my local club run, spending the morning handing out numbers and then clipping off timing chips. A good day


Just the one book read

  • What we can learn about runners from public data. It’s marathon season, it was interesting to read this analysis about runners who post information (often from apps) to public social media channels – with a focus on those who started running in Jan 2014 as their New Year change. Apparently, sales marketing and PR (that would be my profession then) is over indexing amongst runners. And keys to success (ie keeping running)? Maintaining regularity and going out on weekday mornings apparently
  • What the West can learn from Japan’s ‘lost decades’. Continuous growth is supposed to be the key to success. But a look at Japan’s economy takes the stance that not doing that is not that bad.


None, absolutely none. But a pleasant few hours planning training and races for the rest of the year

May 05

2015 Week Notes 15

Marathoners at Arc de Triomphe


A marathon was done. And a very slow trip home was made. Well, Eurostar was fast, my legs weren’t. They didn’t feel too bad, so no need to walk down stair backwards!

My agency ran an event this week,, lots of different views on data. I spoke on the first panel of the day, about readiness of business for the world of big data but couldn’t stay for the rest of the day with workload, but by all accounts, it was very successful and had a lot of great press, including a mention of me on Contagious. It looks like we may be running more

I had a lovely dinner with a friend at Helene Darroze at the Connaught, a lovely 2 star Michelin experience. Write up will follow. But I did love the menu, you had to take a look at the list and decide what you wanted using the game.



3 books read, lots of train travel!

  • A look at why Millennials are moving away from traditional banks by the co-founder of LinkedIn Max Levchin. An interesting take, although it does not make it clear what they are after, just something different. I don’t have issues with my bank, so maybe this is just a US perspective.
  • Running

    i ran a marathon, I think that’s enough. I also did a full write up.

May 04

2015 Week Notes 14

This was a pretty quiet week.


A relatively quiet week, with a lot of work to get in to the 3 days in the office. On Thursday, I went along to a London launch party by Datasift, a company I’d watch Nik Halstead grow for years out of the early London start up scene. The party was held in canary Wharf, which had a wonderful view

Sunset over the city

It was wonderful to meat up with so many people from those days, many of whom I’d not caught up for years. I ended up going to dinner at the end of the night with Nik, Suzanna and a few others, which was a great. definitely not an early night, but didn’t need it to be as the only thing planned on the Friday was a trip to Paris.


It was a smooth trip over, then I dropped the bags and made my way to the expo to pick up my number. And that was it for the Friday, apart from starting the carb load. On the Saturday, I took a trip to Notre Dame to take a wander around that cathedral to add to the list. Magnificent building. Then back to hotel again for more leg resting.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame


Only the 2 booked, one of the Outlander series and also the new book by Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove Summer. The latter is one of the authors I buy the physical book instead of the digial version. And I managed to make it last 2 days :-)


Nothing happening – it’s all about saving the legs

Apr 29

Marshalling at the London Marathon

London Marathon 2015

Last April I entered the Paris Marathon as my target for the year, but I still put my name down for the London ballot, just in case. I didn’t get in, but as a result of finally joining a running club I get did get an option to marshal the race. Having being very grateful to people who have marshalled the races I’ve run, I thought it was time to give something back.

London Marathon 2015

The day started early, with a group of us meeting at 7am at the Tube station to make our way to Shadwell for our briefing. West 4 Harriers have for years being part of the team that marshall on the Highway, which is from Tower Bridge mile 12.5 to Limehouse (mile 14) and the reverse route miles (21.5-23, or near enough). it’s a great piece of course as we get to see the runners twice.

London Marathon 2015

Briefing done, we spread out onto the course for 9am and then our job was waiting. Not too long, as we had a series of elite racers come by. The wheelchairs, the IPC championships, then the women elite and finally the men elite, who were followed by the trickle, stream and then flood of the masses.

London Marathon 2015

We were there for safety, to answer crowed questions and most importantly for the runners. We started off with a security role, keeping an eye out for left bags and then an eye out for anyone who may decide that jumping out in front of the elites would be a good idea. Luckily, nothing like that happened on my section, although the section along did have to call in the police after a woman had left her suitcase next to the course as she went to the toilet (there were long queues, she was gone a while).

London Marathon 2015

Later, it was all about supporting runners. On the way out, most runners were going along fine. On the way back, the effort was beginning to take its toll. Last year, with the heat, there were apparently a lot of collapses in the area that needed support. This year, I had to deal only with one person who had a very heavy fall and knocked the wind out of her. She did get up and carry on, hope she finished.

London Marathon 2015

So as it was quiet, I had the chance to take a lot of photos (you can find them all on Flickr) and chat with a BBC spotter, who was set up to spot celebrities (and great fancy dress) for the camera that was about 200 years up the road. So celebrity spotting and cheering was the rest of my day. Along with freezing as it was very cold – I ended up having to dance a lot to the music just to keep warm.

London Marathon 2015

This was the first marathon I’ve watched end to end and the difference from start to finish is huge. I think London, with its large emphasis on charity places and fundraising, may be slightly unusual on the people it attracts – it has a 7 hour cutoff time but there appeared to be a lot of people running who would not make that.

London Marathon 2015

As time went on, the stream reduced back to a trickle as the slower pens got to the 13 mile mark. The the sweepers came by, the car that told everyone that the course was closed, that they had to move to the pavement. Followed by the street cleaners, the rubbish collectors and the course demantlers. I felt for the people who were being overtaken at that point – at what point would they decide to stop if they are overtaken by course closed at 13 miles? People who had taken on the challenge but had probably not realised what that meant!

London Marathon 2015
As the runners went back the other way, the sweepers turned up again. This was at 22 miles, you’d got a mixture of people who had obviously suffered an injury or had hit the wall. it was all walking and at this point the stare of death had set in. I’ve been the, I know it. It’s one step at a time, just pushing forward to the finish, knowing about but not having the energy to acknowledge the comments. this is the point I made sure I was loud and encouraging, this is the point it is needed. 4 miles out, I would assume that everyone who was passed by the sweeper would keep going to the finish, I hope they got a medal! I aslo saw a lot of family and friends joined them at this point, just to keep the march going.

Overall, a great day, well worth it. Would I do it again next year? Only if I’m not running!

London Marathon 2015

Apr 18

2015 Week Notes 13

Head of the River Race 2015


  • After an early wake up to watch the F1, headed to the river to watch the men’s Head of the river race. The weather was a little rough and cold but the race went ahead. Caught up with friends from the Army rowing.
    Head of the River Race 2015
  • Had dinner with friend at Hawksmoor, definitely my favourite steak house. We went to the Knightsbridge branch, which I’d never been too. Raw sliced sea bass, huge steak and this ‘Ambassador’s Reception’ dessert :-). Monday’s are bring your own wine night, for just £5 corkage.
    Hawksmoor: a tribute to the Ambassador
  • Visited the parents for Easter Weekend, which had one day working, one day visiting Tatton Court up towards Manchester, a couple of meals out and all the family around for Sunday dinner. A really good weekend!
    Tatton Court

    Tatton Court

3 books read this week, the advantage of some train travel. Still working through Outlander. No articles recorded!


Just the one short 5miles today, leg wrapped up. Went well.

Apr 18

2015 Weeks Notes 12

Catching up on weeknotes!

Olympic Park


  • Went to watch The Ruling Class at the Trafalgar Theatre, with James McAvoy. A revival of a 1968 play by Peter Barnes, I really enjoyed it, even though it was a definite result of the time it was written. What is better, a hippy (insane) duke or a ‘cured’ one who exhibits all the conservatism of the hang and flog em variety of aristocracy? Also. what is better to view, McAvoy shirtless or McAvoy in tails?
  • Took a walk around the Olympic Park. Not the best of days, but it was nice to be back there and see how it’s slowly being developed. I was over that side of town to stay for the evening as I was out at birthday party.
    Olympic Park
  • Went to the aforesaid birthday party, which was a lovely sit down meal by the team behind Grub London in the view Tube overlooking Olympic Park. Chilled almond soup and leg of lamb made for a lovely dinner. I’d also treated myself to a hotel for the night near to the venue (so I could get up early in the morning to watch the F1!)


  • Just a couple of books read this week, they’re long ones. I’ve started the Outlander series (as seen on Amazon, and they’re pretty easy reading.
  • Top Things I learnt from TED, bu Bill Gross. Interesting bits of information and links to interesting talks.
  • A Richter Scale of Outages by Matt Webb. A thought piece on how different net/web services can be scaled


I managed a 17 miler this week, slow and steady over Richmond Park, I tried out my run/walk method to see how that could be done for Paris and was happy that if the leg injury settled, then I would be able to make it round.

Apr 13

Running the Paris Marathon

I ran the Paris marathon on Sunday. Running it was a very. very silly idea but I still went ahead and did it. Last year, London was my first marathon. I had no idea what to expect, I did all the training I could despite suffering an injury, I pushed through and finished the marathon to plan, in the target time. It was hard and I was not mentally prepared for those last 6miles but I liked it enough to try again.

When I entered Paris last April, the intention was I would train regularly during the summer to build up the base fitness and improve my speed before starting the formal training plan. But that was before I ended up with a detached retina and not being able to do anything for a couple of months. So I started off with the plan, at lower level then I wanted and it was all going well until a fall, a broken finger, another operation under general anaesthetic, colds, chest infections, and a shin splint that meant it was hard to walk at times, never mind run! Seven weeks ago, if I could have, i would have deferred the entry but you can’t do that with Paris. Furthermore, my travel and hotel were paid for, so i was going anyway. In the last 6 weeks, I have only run about 50miles, with some other aerobic training built in. Nowhere near enough when I was supposed to be running 50m a week! I was not sure I was going to run until a few days before and even then, I still had the option not to. I had amended my plan. Instead of 4 hours, my original target a year ago, I wanted to get under 5:40, the published cutoff time. I researched run-walk plans and was prepared – if I decided to run. I’d run to each km marker and then walk for 60 seconds.


I arrived in Paris on Friday, dropped my stuff at my hotel and headed right to the expo to get my number. It was surprisingly quick through the process. Hand in the medical form, get my convocation stamped, move to the next section and swap that for my number. then make my way through all the stalls. I did end up buying a souvenir tshirt and cap, but didn’t do much shopping for other things.

Notre Dame

Saturday, i decided to spend a could of hours wandering around Notre Dame (to add to my cathedrals visited collection) before a quick pasta lunch and then an afternoon napping and eating carbs, before more pasta in the evening. A long, lazy day eating carbs sounds fun; the lazing was, but not the ongoing ingestion of noting for bread, pasta, fruit juice and sugar!

Notre Dame

Sunday morning, it was time to race. I’d spent the week watching the weather and my worst fears were realised. It was going to be a ‘hot’ and sunny day. Hot is relative, but 20c is more than warm enough. An early breakfast before getting ready to be out for 7:30. Made my way to the Metro station for the direct journey to the start area, then a quick dash back to pick up my watch. yes, despite making a list, I still forgot to put on my Garmin! Second attempt to get on a train worked and off I went> Most people got off at the Arc de Triomphe stop but I stayed on an extra couple of stops to get to the end of the finish straight and an easy stroll to the baggage drop off. A final loo stop, a check I’d remembered everything (it turned out I hadn’t. more later) and then no queue to drop the bag off. More strolling up to the start, through the chaos around the Arc de Triomphe where not all traffic is stopped and the runners play frogger.


Because I knew I was nowhere near my predicted pace, I decided to drop back a pen or two, but they would not let me. I was only allowed into my original starting pen. Once in there, I settled at the back and waited, not oo long, only about 25 mins before we were ready to move. We slowly made our way down the pen, moving through the queues for the loos (hint, if you’re in a back pen and need a last minutes put stop, wander on down once they release you as there are loos with no queues).

They started on time and I headed off, keeping well to the side and trying to stay out of the way as everyone started to stream past me. It was straight down the Champs Elysee, wide and plenty of room. The first km marker came quickly and my first walk break. After the wide part, the roads narrowed, made even more narrow by crowds creeping in.There was very little control of this and in some parts it made for some vary slow running. There was also minimal control of people crossing the course and I saw plenty of near missed and the odd collision, as people just strolled across, with bikes or small children. There was often little time to react of this, which made the running risky at times!

The first water break arrived and it was time to grab a bottle, half of which went over my head – it was warm!! I also made sure I took advantage of the cooling stations, grabbing a handful of water out a bowl and running through the spray from the firemen’s hoses. The kms (and miles) kept ticking over. At mile 10 I grabbed a quick loo break, ignoring the state of the loo. There were plenty of men nipping to the side fro a break at many points where the course was quiet

So far so good, but i could feel the tiredness creeping up. At half way, I was on pretty much the same pace I’d run my last half in, passing through it in just over .5 hours. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I’d been drinking regularly and taking my gels to plan, so it was just plane old lack of miles in the legs rather that fluid or fuel I think. By mile 18 I was taking 90 second breaks, then I hit the drinks stalls at about mile 20/km 30. Paris don’t provide gels or isotonic drink (except for one stand) but they do provide oranges or bananas and lots of people take advantage of them, throwing the peel all over the ground. This stand was on a slight slope and I could have done with spikes to keep my grip – traction was definitely an issue! This was the start of me starting to walk for longer and also the start of my right hip starting to cramp up, interestingly more so when I was walking rather than running. for the next few miles, I was doing shorter runs and longer walks. But I was not going to stop. It was only 2 park runs to do, then only the 1 park run. that was only 3 laps round my local park. But the legs at this point had done enough. They didn’t like running and the hip hurt when I walked. I switched to run 1min, walk 1min, or rather count of 60, again and again. The final mile though was walked, or rather limped, even down the finish straight. I’d done more than enough, all I wanted to do was finish.

Eventua;y, I got there. Through the markers and just keep walking. Get finishers tShirt, get water, get some oranges and pick up my medal. I was very silly to try and run Paris marathon but I finished it, in 5:38, so just under my target time. I would never, ever advise someone to do the same with such little training. It hurts!


Oh, the final things I forgot? To vaseline my upper arms, so I’m in extreme pain now from chafing and bleeding there. Always remember to slather on the vaseline! It worked on my feet, no blisters there. And surprisingly, despite legs being sore, i can still walk down stairs normally.

I liked the Paris marathon, but not as much as London. Paris is huge – they had 41k finishers. Much of the course is past some of the greatest sites that Paris has to offer, but some is still through boring woods, including eh last section which has nothing on the end of London. There is much made of the crowd who watch, but although they were heavy at times, I did not think there was the same consistency as London. Overall, the organisation was good, he start, finish and information provided. The only area I had concerns with was what appeared to be lack of marshalls. There were large stretches with what appeared to be no cover, which, given the temperatures, could have lead to delays getting treatment

Mar 21

2015 Week Notes 11


  • I won, via Twitter, a place at a wine tasting at Sam’s Brasserie. Well, I won 2 places but getting people to come out to Chiswick at the last minutes is not always easy! It was a superb evening, with the hosts taking us through a range of pairs of wines, comparing old and new world styles. We tried champagne, 2 red pairs, 2 white pair and a dessert wine pair. (if you’re counting, that’s a lot of wine even in tasting serving!). I had a great evening, sharing a table between a couple of old friends (althogh not convinced their driving to a wine tasting was a good idea, even if most of the wine ended up in the spittoon) and a couple on their first date – I was asked my opinion on the fellow, gave a positive review :-). Fully recommend going to one of these evenings if you get the chance.

    Wine tasting

  • There was a quiz at work on Thursday, with a St Patrick’s day theme. My team did not win, but I did get a couple of good points by guessing the thing from the 1st 3 words of a clue – ‘Founded in 1759’. Yes, working for Diageo/Guinness does give you some information
  • Friday was a disappointment, London was completely overcast and there was no eclipse visble. Instead, just watched the TV feed.
  • Went out for dinner Friday, another one off my Michelin list. This was the one-star Quilon, an Indian restaurant near Victoria. Liked most of the meal – review to follow.
    Quilon: Poppadoms
  • Reading

    • only the 2 books read this week (although I may finish another before the end of the day)
    • Harry Potter and the 12 year Boyhood. Interesting read about the practicalities of filming over a long period of time. Boyhood was a single film produced over the 12 years as the cast aged. The Harry Potter series had the difficulty of filming 8 films with the same cast. There are good questions raised about points when the child stars of the Harry Potter films may have sensibly been replaced but for a variety of reasons, they stuck with the same crew all the way through.
    • These Urban farmers want to feed the whole neighbourhood. There’s a lot of talk about a sharing economy, but a lot of the companies covered when discussing this are definitely not into sharing, they’re into making profits. so Uber, where anyone can apply to drive, is all about maximising the margins for the company using minimally paid, zero-contract like workers. This initiative is a sharing economy. A piece of land granted by the city, a group of people who work to cultivate the fruit and vegetables and a mission to get people involved.
    • Geena Davis is still locked and loaded A look at Geena Davis and her various initiatives to make people notice gender imbalance in films and tv.


    Training this week was a mixture of cross-training on the bike and just the one run attempted. Leg is still not right, but I’m pushing on with my run-walk training. It’s 3 weeks to go until Paris, 3 weeks to make a decision.

Mar 21

Restaurant Review: Opera Tavern

This was picked for an evening of chat with a friend from work, the thought being that a mix of shared tapas would be a great thing to have with a glass or two of wine.

Opera Tavern

The first thing to notice on approaching the Opera Tavern were the protesters outside the door. They were objecting the presence of fois gras on the menu, something I failed to notice at all but on later review they serve do serve pork and fois gras burger as part of their bar menu. In this case, we were eating in the main dining room upstairs and not sure it was on our menu.

I failed to notice something else as well, walking in and managing to knock the booking computer off its little shelf. Luckily it survived, enabling us to be easily checked in and led to table.

We started off with a plate of padron peppers and another of mixed charcuterie. The peppers where well grilled with just the right amount of salt; the meat had a good mix of sausages and ham. We were also served with great bread and brilliant peppery olive oil.

I’m not very good at taking photos when dining with someone, so that is the only one from the evening. But we ate more, lots more! We had the confit of pork belly with rosemary and canelloni beans. The pork was very moreish, especially the thin crispy slice of crackling and the beans made a pleasant contrast with the hint of heb coming through. The lamb was good, so were the cod croquettes. My favourite was the grilled prawns, served with garlic, something that is so hard to get just right and these were served just right – nearly as good as the ones I had in Spain a few weeks ago.

We had a great night, with good wine and the food cooked well. It still suffered from one of the downfalls of tapas places, which is how t easily share the dishes when you have to chop all the bits up evening. I always think they should serve single bites of things, making it easier to share.

The prices are good but like all tapas, can add up. But i think if you were popped in downstairs to the bar, for the Spanish tradition of a glass and a small nibble, both the portions and prices work well.

Opera Tavern on Urbanspoon

Mar 21

2015 Week Notes 10


  • Drinks with friend from work, where we decided we needed to get out of the office and go and have a good chat about none office things! We ended up going to Opera Tavern for some of their tapas and a good evening was had. We even managed to be home at a reasonable time.
  • Thursday was night out with wine club. We were trying to eat at Bubbledogs but there was a 90min wait so we retired to the Charlotte St Hotelfor some celebratory champagne for an engagement. The hotel were nice enough to send out a little cake to share. Another night I returned home at a reasonably decent hour, before they got to the food.
    Engagement congratulations
  • And the reason for an early leavetaking? The F1 started for the year, with the Australian GP. A 1am start for practice meant I needed to get some sleep, as the next 2 days with 4 session to watch in the middle of the night takes some effort!
  • Another trip to the fracture clinic this week, with more xrays to check healing. The finger has now been freed from being tied to the one next to it and the focus now on is getting some movement, as its bending capability is quite restricted. I got given some silly putty to use to practice my squeezing on. Next sugeon appointment in 6 weeks, next physio in 2 weeks.
  • Saturday was another evening out, meeting up with Suw who was over from the US. A great evening of chat and catching up!


  • No none fiction books again (I’ll get there eventually) but just the 3 other books.
  • Customer Service in a social media age A story in the Independent about how social media, especially Twitter, has changed how companies need to think about customer service. Not just the crisis management moment, but the day by day grind and complaints that come their way,
  • Everything is problematic Fascinating piece about being an activist, how it narrows your thinking and your attitudes and how the author matured out if it. Is activism a youth phenomenon, as the brain is wired to be that passionate and focused on things before maturity brings a wider and more pragmatic outlook?


A quiet week for most of it, just doing some cross training. On Saturday, ran the Thames Meander half marathon, which went from Kingston to Kew and back. It’s the first of 3 of these events, which are a joint half and full marathon (the full one runs to Putney and back). I’ve entered the full series as targets for the year. A well organised event, along the river towpath, so nice and flat. I went into it not knowing if I’d be able to finish, but kept it slow and steady and got to the end eventually. My slowest half yet, but given my fitness state, happy with it.


Mar 08

2015 Week Notes 9

We’re officially into spring (well, according to the meteorologists) and the days are getting longer, with more daylight to do things. I just need to do more things.


  • I took a trip round Key Gardens on Sunday, taking advantage of a sunny day to go look at crocuses, orchids and the Palm House
    Kew Mar 1 2015

    Kew Mar 1 2015

    Kew Mar 1 2015

  • The only outing in the week was to the running Club social night, where they awarded a couple of prizes for the Winter training handicap.
  • I finished the week doing another section of the London LOOP, a 13m section from Moor Park to Elstree. It was a gorgeous day, the sun was out and it was really trying to be warm. A good day for a long walk.
    Walk the LOOP - Moor Park to Elstree

    Walk the LOOP - Moor Park to Elstree


    • I’ve read 3 fantasy books this week, with my ongoing books still ongoing. I can read this genre very quickly, everything else takes a lot longer.
    • What Millennials want from work It’s too easy to assign what you know about Millennials in your country, o at least the stereotype of them, to all members of that age group. Here’s some global research that delves a little deeper.
    • How Brands must be social. If you’ve been working seriously in social media for any length of time, nothing in this list will surprise you. But it’s still worth stating as so many people don’t understand.
    • The new Nostalgia trend: it’s all in the reference. When information moves so fast a trend is over before it has chance to take real root into culture, one way to have trends is to use things that are heavily embedded.
    • The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings this is the paper behind a piece in the New York Times and many other newspapers. Can a series of increasingly intimate and revelatory questions can increase your chances of falling in love. The answer is yes.


    Nothing. Just some cross training. After the half marathon, a spot on the leg flared up and left me in pain for the week. Icing, anti-inflamatories and no running was the diagnosis. The long walk on Saturday was a test of it and so far it’s not too bad, but still tender. Will try some treadmill running tomorrow.

    The odds of me running the Paris marathon are now very low. I an re-adjusting the plan and considering a run-walk approach, which is still going to be a hard slog given the lack of miles in the legs. Everything is paid for so I’m going anyway and will keep plugging away at the training and see how it goes.

Mar 06

Zomato and Urbanspoon changes

A few weeks ago, I had an email from one of the community managers for Zomato, who had recently bought Urbanspoon. They were looking to have a quick catch up to talk to me about the take over and discuss what it could mean to me, as a blogger. I wouldn’t call myself a food blogger as I’m don’t have a full time food blog, but I do have my Michelin list ambition this year! I’d been using Urbanspoon as a link to my blogs for the reviews, as if I’m going to write them, let’s at least link to a review site.

On looking at Zomato – a review and restaurant start-up that has come out of India – my initial concern was that they want to keep all the content to themselves and you could not just post a review on your own site and have the review site pull an extract. My other concern was over their T&Cs for content ownership, which were not as clear. Urbanspoons start with

You own all content you submit to the Services, including but not limited to profile information, reviews, images, messages, and any other materials

Which is a lot more friendly than Zomato’s first line

By submitting Your Content you hereby irrevocably grant us a perpetual, world-wide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable license and right to use Your Content

Now, the licence terms are pretty much the same when you read them, it was just the tone was more friendly on Urbanspoon. But Zomato do have a far more community feel and opush to have events and boards around the food community. So, what was their community manager like? Very nice, enthusiastic about here role and very keen to listen to concerns and also suggestions for improvements.

We talked about blog linking and it seems that that will still be allowed in the future combined site (that should be coming along pretty soon). We also talked about some of the things I’d like to see or suggestions I had

  • The ability to look for bookings across a curated list. I have my Michelin list, I’d like to be able to plug that in and then when I have a slot available, the app to show me which of these restaurants have a table on the right day and time. Great for when I’m looking for where to go next.
  • Legend status. Urbanspoon has review ranking lists but often the people on there have only posted a couple and it was quite a while ago, or even they used to be a prolific reviewer but have now stopped. We discussed how you could maintain the listing of that person but not include them in the current list, where you may be looking for reviews from people that are active now. So could you have a ‘legends’ list, recognising past contributions but also allowing more recent reviewers to show on the lists?

A good chat, a good initiative by Zomato, I just wait now for the changes to happen and see what they bring.

Mar 06

Restaurant Review: Antidote

I went for a Saturday lunch at Antidote, a restaurant that has some great reviews but appears to be little known! Tucked away off Newburgh St in Soho, it is supported by the team at Hedone, one of my favourite Chiswick restaurants.

I went with the lunchtime tasting menu, which brought 4 courses plus a couple of in-between snacks. First of all was curd and celery, where you had a salty unami taste balanced with the crispiness of the vegetable and some toasted grains for extra punch. I like the curd, but was disappointed with the celery. I’d read that this was often served with cucumber which would have been a better contrast I think, for me the celery taste just did not go.


Pan fired mackerel, fennel and monks beard. The monks beard added nothing to the dish for me but the fennel, finely sliced, served cold with a lemon dressing was a gorgeous contrast to the extremely well cooked mackerel. The fish was the right texture and somehow the skin was extra crispy and added a crunch. The 3 elements, the fish flesh, the crispy skin and the sharper fennel flavour worked wonderfully.


Next was cod, artichoke, cavelli nero and smoked anchovy. Another wonder fish dish and this time all the ingredients worked well together. The greens surprised me – they’d been dried baked and served crispy (there’s definitely a crispy theme running through this meal). The anchovy added a subtle salty flavour to the sauce; the artichoke bought a little more solidness that was a good contrast.


The meat course was Scottish Venison, salt baked turnip and mead. It was served with a green sauce that the waitress did not know what was in it (and never got back to me about it) but it reminded me of a nettle sauce I’ve had before. It brought a freshness to the dish to complement the venison and rosemary dressing. The turnip spagetti was amaxing. tasted like they’d been baked in butter, a guilty way to eat them, but the presentation worked well.


A quick surprise course next, almond ice-cream and a yoghurt foam, with a strong lemon kick worked well as a palette cleanser.


Finally, 3 way chocolate – solid slices, chocolate sauce, a ganache, marscapone ice-cream, peanut butter sponge (not enough peanut taste) and coffee meringue slices which were, surprisingly given that amount of chocolate, the best part of the dish.


Really enjoyed the lunch and recommend popping along.

Antidote Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Mar 03

2015 Week Notes 8


  • Lots of work in the first part of the week, with a Book Club evening on the Tuesday for a good chat and a glass of wine.
  • The second half of the week was spent in Spain, watching formula 1 testing. I stayed in a town near to the circuit instead of in Barcelona this year, but despite it being a cheap hotel and easy to get to the circuit, I think that in future I my consider going back to Barcelona. I like the food experience too much! All my photos can be found here: day 1 and day 2

    Barcelana Test 3 Day 2

    Barcelana Test 3 Day 2

    Barcelana Test 3 Day 2

  • Normally I’d stay for all the days of the test, but because of the last minute booking I had things to do at the weekend. So flew home Friday to be ready for the half-marathon on Saturday.


  • I did not save many articles this week. I did read 3 books though, 3 fantasy books.
  • I also managed to mistime the reading of the book club book, for some reason, I thought it was the following week. We were reading The Lie by Helen Dunsmore. Although the reviews from the book club cloud was not too complimentary, so I proably won’t be reading it


  • I started the week well, with a good run around Richmond Park.
  • The week itself did not bring any runs – not able to run before work and then a few days holiday
  • finished the week with a half marathon. This was at Dorney, running round the lake, a race I did last year. Although this year, with the lack of training, was slower. I deliberately ran at a slower pace. So overall time was 12mins slower than last year, but overall, happy with how the plan was executed.


Mar 01

2015 Week Notes 7


  • It was a pretty quiet week, the only night out was a leaving do for a oolleague at work
  • I had 2 hospital appointments this week, one with the hand physio and one with the consultant, where had an xray to check how things are going. You can see that there is just the one nail in there. things seem to be going well.

    Finger Xray

  • Went for a good meal at Antidote, just for a Saturday lunch. Pretty good restaurant just off Carnaby St, where one of my favourite chefs from Hedone acts as consultant, which you can tell from the food.



Just the one run, a parkrun with a few miles there and back. Still trying to fix legs and make sure there is time to get out but not working well. I am going to have to change my training plan.

Feb 15

Restaurant Review: Hakkasan Mayfair

A last minute decision to see what was available led me to an early dinner at Hakkasan Mayfair on Friday night. I’ve previously eaten at the Hanway Place venue a few years ago, had a great time with friends with brilliant food and so was looking forward to this. I hadn’t quite realised just how many versions there are of this ‘modern Cantonese’ chain, there are 12 other restaurants around the world but it appears only the 2 London ones have Michelin stars. As an aside, I’d love to be able to add a list onto Opentable so that i could just search to see what had space at the time I was after, would make the booking so much easier!

The early time meant I could take advantage of the ‘Taste of Hakkasan’ menu, which is served at lunch and 6-7 at evenings. At £35 it’s pretty good value for 3 courses, whereas the going fully al a carte could soon add up – for example going for Peking duck with Hakkasan special reserve ‘Qiandao’ caviar will cost you £215! It does like that’s shareable for 2, so who’s up for that? :-)

Mixed dimsum

The set menu started with dim sum – a choice of vegetarian or not. A spicy salad – the spice was in the dressing – provided the first chop stick challenge (you need to ask for other cutlery if you want it, it’s not offered). Picking up microgreens takes focus and concentration and if you’re not careful, they go everywhere! A variety of steamed dimsum next (I looked up the names…). The green crab and chive dumpling, a prawn har gau and a scallop and prawn shumai. This chopstick challenge was about the large size, picking up the whole and eating without dropping. the final element was a venison puff, my favourite, rich, gooey venison in puff pastry type coating. Gorgeous. overall a good starter.

Peking style duck with chilli, leek, onion

I chose the stir-fry Peking style duck with dried chilli, baby leeks and onions. All the mains came with pak choi and Jasmine rice. Of course, i’m wondering what the difference is between Peking duck and Peking style duck. I’m also still wondering if I should have eaten the strange next of dried noodles this dish was served on. I left them, although some of the sauce-soaked ones made their way into eating bowl. A very nice dish, with a good balance of sauce, meat and alliums. The rice was just about the right serving size, not leaving me with the guilt of having to leave some as I’ve had in some places, where you just get a huge bowl.

Tarte tatin

The final dish was Apple Tarte tatin, with blackberry, almond crumble and vanilla icecream. A huge pile of rich apple on a sliver of puff pastry was gorgeous. Loved it. Was my favourite part of the meal, along with the venison puff.

And that last sentiment is an indication of what I felt about this meal and the risk of going for set, fixed price menus (that aren’t the tasting menus). You may not get their best, most innovative cooking. As I said, I’ve been to the Hanway Place version and loved it, the dishes we had were excellent. There was nothing at all wrong with any of the dishes I was served today, the ingredients appeared to be class, the taste was excellent but it didn’t give me anything different. That’s why I’m wanting to work my way through the Michelin starred restaurants, to get great food that leaves me surprised and delighted. This I felt I could have got in any good regular Chinese restaurant. My expectations were too high I think.

I would recommend the place but I suggest you go for the more al a carte dishes instead of the regular set menu. I’m going to visit Hanway Place again and will be doing that, trying one of the tasting menus. Also, although the place was full of couples, it’s definitely not an intimate date place, the lighting is dark and the music was loud. The service too was fairly efficient, with all staff doing their job quickly, with no chat at all, unlike at last week’s Texture.

Hakkasan on Urbanspoon

Feb 15

Twitter: Verification or Validation

There’s no doubt there is a lot of harassment on Twitter. The pseudonymous nature of the open platform creates an environment where random bullying can be become the norm, especially in certain spheres. This isn’t the fault of Twitter, the reasons go far deeper into society than one platform, but it is a mirror into the worst human behaviour.

Although Twitter does not demand ‘real’ names (like Facebook), it does offer Verification, which is seen as confirmation that the person behind the account is who you may think it is. It’s for people who attract impersonators, celebrities in various fields, whether sport, entertainment or even, given the original core base of Twitter, technology.

In the last week Jason Calacanis published an article about how Verification could solve harassment overnight. He believes that by allowing people to pay a small fee for verification, you create a ‘real people’ Twitter, people who had verified their identity. Along with a little blue tick, you would then get an option to only be able to see other verified people or, stay open to all but you would have to confirm that you know the consequences:

“By selecting ‘Show me everyone’ you are going to see accounts that are anonymously published that we have no way of tracking. These accounts can include fun content like anonymous parodying of celebrities or political accounts that publish anonymously for fear of being prosecuted. However, anonymous content can also include very offensive humor, nudity, political incorrectness, graphic images, and worse. By clicking this you are agreeing to, essentially, seeing an R-rated (and sometimes X-rated) film. No judgements either way.”

Now, Nik Butler has some very good comments – this option is not available to everyone nor is it the right option.

Let us set aside the reality that identity theft, credit fraud and and poor financial security systems will inevitably cause the end subscriber of a credit card to see some level of abuse to their credit let us look at what the other implications are.

1. You don’t have a credit card if you are under the legal age to access one. We are not just talking pre teens here but teenagers who in some countries are legally old enough to vote or be in military service but cant get credit until they pass a birthday milestone.
2. You may not have a credit card if you have experienced previous financial difficulties resulting in .. bad credit. Does having Bad credit mean your words are equally likely to be bad ?
3. Not every country has the same credit and financial service as the other. Should we avoid hearing the voice of a citizen because their country is deemed a poor credit position?

Jason believes that people will sign up for this and they will turn on the ‘see verified only’ option and by doing this, it’s going to stop harassment. But there’s no explanation of why, just that people verified, harassment stops, Twitter makes money. But that’s not how people behave and just turning off who you can see does not stop it.

  • Real people bully too. It may not be as hate filled (and illegal when threatening or inciting violence) but it can be bullying and verification won’t stop this. This type of behaviour does not get the headlines, but it exists, subtly.
  • Just because you can’t see it, does not mean it does not happen. For someone like Jason, male, white, financially comfortable, he undoubtably does get trolled on Twitter, but it’s unlikely to be as vicious as that received by many other groups. For those groups, it may actually be useful to know that someone is on their way to try and kill you (or at least saying they are). You can inform the police and get out of the way. Not seeing the harassment may be better for peace of mind, but not necessarily for safety. Brianna Wu’s account of her harassment shows there is a reason to know when someone is coming to get you!

Twitter allows more flexibility than Facebook over an account. Which is why I can own 3 accounts for completely different reasons. Which is why Terence Eden can create a Choose Your Own Adventure story. That is a good thing. It’s also a weakness as banned accounts can quickly be recreated and bullying continues. Will choosing to restrict access remove that flexibility and the ability for real segmentation of use?

There is another consideration for rolling out verification wider – which is what is verification for?. William Shatner got into an interesting debate on the platform about verification, pointing out that a social media manager/reporter is not the sort of person he would expect to be verified, calling this person a ‘nobody’. His term may have been derogatory, but his meaning was clear. If verification is about making sure that the person on the account is the real celebrity/athlete/star and is subject to impersonation,s so you should only believe the verified account, then awarding it to someone for ‘being good at his job’ makes a mockery of the system.

I think that we do go down this route, we need to introduce another grouping – a validated group. To me, this is just the equivalent of Flickr Pro. Make the person a subscriber and provide them additional services for that money. You tie them to a real identity, and you should be able to have multiple accounts tied to this identity, and in return, more services are offered. The ability only to see the restricted view, or not to see ads or, in my case, not to have any of the recent improvements such as name rather than twitter handle, conversations and the continuous injection of what twitter thinks I should be seeing rather than what i want to see. I’d pay for Twitter classic! :-)

But have no doubt, offering this will not stop the bullying and threats. That is not an easy problem to change. it requires a lot of actions across many parties to change the direction on the social media mob and pile on culture. People to stand up and challenge it. Twitter to make it easier to report and control. Law enforcement to have the will, time and money to pursue. Education to discuss. Parents to discuss. It’s not going to be easy and I think it’ll get worse before it gets better.

Feb 15

2015 Week Notes 6


  • Two sets of drinks out this week. The first was with my current team, a post meeting big group drinks. It’s good to connect with the team I’m going to be working with for the next 10 months or so in a more social setting. The second is with my old team, a good catch up to see where everyone’s careers have got too and what else they are up to.
  • A trip to get my dressing changed on my finger. It’s the first time I’d seen it post operations and they’d definitely just peeled the finger open like an orange. The picture is over on Flickr.
  • A last minute dinner at Hakkasan Mayfair, another one of the Michelin list. Took advantage of their ‘pre-theatre’ offer for early dinner. The place was packed even at that time.
  • Peking style duck with chilli, leek, onion


  • STILL no book finished. At least I didn’t start another though, Still only the 4 on the go.
  • The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia. Why even experts in their field can’t get things on the site. It ‘s looking like wikipedia is getting to the point it needs to take a step back and take a good look at its policies, I’m reading too many things like this.
  • How to fix a bank in 100 days I’ll be honest, never really had too many issues with my bank, but I don’t use them for much – I have a current, savings and mortgage account. There service has been great whenever I’ve needed it. But with all the horror stories I read, I think that’s quite lucky. it’s also on the personal level, as the bigger picture of banks is horrendous, when i someone going to have to face responsibility for the recession? I do like this focus on how banks need to change, because they do. Although I have a feeling that if mine did, I probably wouldn’t like it that much.
  • William Shatner: My problem with verified accounts. Just a little reading about how Shatner thinks about verified accounts. I see his point, that they should have a strong reason associated with impersonation, not just for doing a job.
  • 64 Ways to think about a news home pageHow many different ways can a cross-expertise group come up with about how a news page can be presented.
  • the 10 most innovative companies in advertising in 2015. A string mix of agencies and brands. I find adding the agencies strange, as their clients are the ones who say yes. There may be far more innovative agencies out there but working with clients who say no
  • I’m Brianna Wu and I’m risking my life standing up to Gamergate. Read it. Read about the hatred that exists out there and why calling it out when you can is important.
  • How a Great American Theatrical Family produced the 19th centuries most notorious assassin. Extract from a history of John Wilkes Booth


  • I managed 1 run at the end of the week. That’s it. Work and had pain all got in the way. Not good at all. Well, mind is more important, I could have squeezed more in, but having to get myself back in the mood!