Friday, July 28, 2006

Lifes a beach

We'll I'm back in the UK and straight back into work. I had an uneventful flight back although I had a pretty bad headache for the first 9 hours. Managed to catch 'Max and Paddy' on the inflight TV. I'm not a huge Peter Kay fan but this was so funny. It helped pass the time. Abi met me at the airport, which was a lovely surprise. She got up just before 4am to get there on time. I was a little late getting through as I left my iPod on the plane and didn't realise until I was about to go through customs.

Abi and I have booked next years holiday and I'm getting excited even though it's 7 months away. We've decided to go somewhere neither of us have been before, Thailand and China :-) We plan to start off on the beach somewhere in southern Thailand and then fly to Hong Kong for a few days before returning home.

The hotel in Hong Kong is going to be pretty easy to sort out. I've ordered the Lonely Planet guide to HK and that should give us plenty of ideas on where to stay and what to see. It's the Thai hotel that's going to take some time to find. We want something relaxing, good food, great beach location and not too big or impersonal. I generally use travel and review sites on the web. My personal favorite is Trip Advisor. Great for getting an idea on whats available in the area and personal reviews. Although I sometimes wonder how impartial it is and who actually writes all the reviews. My favorite place so far is the Sarojin hotel in Phuket. I've emailed the hotel asking about rates and seeing if I can negotiate. March is the start of the off season so perhaps they'll be a little flexible. It doesn't hurt to ask. The place only has 56 room and although secluded isn't that far from a town.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Long way from home...:-)

Right, many thanks for the emails and comments (well the two or three that I received). It's nice to know some people are watching. My dad thought the site was updated once?!?!?!?! My sister and I have tried to explain the blogging concept to him but technology is not something he keeps up to date with. I'm sure I've seen him using an Abacus at some point and he types with one finger (I use five!!!!) :-)

Yestedays random image was tooo easy, it was an arm. It came from this guys
web site. Check out the other body parts on there. I like the bum :-) I'm going to try again with another image and get you guy's googling. The person is the photo below is very famous. Well when I say famous, only in particular circles. Here are a few clues that should give it away.

  • A founding father of the most important style of music to ever come out of the US
  • His songs have been covered by many many bands, amongst them are the Stones, Cream and Clapton
  • He has influenced so many artists including the 'Red Hot Chili Peppers', 'Fleetwood Mac' & the 'White Stripes'
  • He died in a fight over a woman (thats so cool!!!)
  • It's claimed he sold his soul to the devil at a Crossroads
  • He wrote 29 songs, but some people think he wrote 30. Noone knows what that last song is.
  • He is a member of Club 27

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Talking to myself

It appears that I'm the only person that reads this. :-( I'm really dissapointed.

Random Image of the Day

There is a prize to the first person who can guess what this is. Remember I'm going through duty free on Thursday, just think what you could win? A bottle of booze, a fridge magnet, a small stuffed Koala or some pick and mix. Emails to the usual place please. If no-one wins or the answers are really lame then I plan to splash out and get myself another gadget.

So whats new then? We'll the ongoing saga with the handover to our new Indian development team continues. The existing team is doing nothing and whole process is about as transparent as a reinforced steel door!!!!. My experience of remote outsourced teams is pretty poor to date. The words lazy and dissinterested spring to mind. I'm told everything has been documented, but as far as I'm aware nobody has put pen to paper, or fingers to a keyboard. "We should have had the basic processes well-thought-out, documented and understood by everyone before the team went offshore." Hmmmmmm watch this space.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Permanent Shade of Roachford

The weekend has finally arrived and I've managed to free myself from the shackles of work. Had a great start on Friday night. One of the project services team was leaving and I got invited along for drinks and dinner. Started at a bar in North Sydney then went down to a restaurant on the shore. Great views of the bridge and the Opera house and the food wasn't too bad either. It was a nice evening and a good start to the weekend.

I spent Saturday visiting the Maritime Museum and the Power House Museum with a colleague from work, his wife and his 10 year old son. Both great museums and a nice place to spend a very wet and windy Saturday. We then went to a noodle house for lunch. Once we’d finished I went for a stroll round the harbour, grabbed a ‘White Chocolate Mocha’ from Starbucks (it’s as nice as it sounds). I watch a band warming up for a free concert tonight. There was a great Italian singer would I have liked to hear but it was pouring down this evening so I stayed in (Billy no mates)!!!

I've been listening to my iPod quite a lot while I've been travelling. To be able to have your entire music collection with you is amazing. Who would have thought that would ever be possible. If you haven't got one I urge you to go out and buy one. I can pick up the 60gb (able to hold 15,000 songs) video iPod for £60 off UK retail price if anyone is interested. I might just get one anyway, I can always e-bay it.

So what have I been listening to? Andrew Roachford is my singer of choice at the moment. I
know Sarah and Abi will remember him from the late 80's. Cuddly Toy? Family Man?!! His first cassette (just before CD’s arrived) was very raw, rock, pop music but over the past 17 years he's just got better and better and better. More soulful and if I can quote from an Amazon review of his latest CD 'Word of Mouth; 'This is a recording to treasure by one of the UK's most talented yet shamefully ignored artists.' . That is soooo true. If anyone would like some samples of his music let me know and I’ll be happy to pass some on. I’m keeping an eye on his website because I have to see him live. If I had to recommend 5 of his songs to listen to I’d suggest the following

The Way I Feel – ‘Feel’
Kathleen – ‘Roachford’
River of Love – ‘Word of Mouth’ (click on this for a sample)
Tomorrow – ‘Word of Mouth’ (click on this for a sample)
This Generation – Permanent Shade of Blue

Most people tend to listen to music when they're doing something. Reading, driving, walking. People don't really just listen to music, it's just something in the background. Try listening to the lyrics and attempt to understand what the artist is trying to get across. I'm not talking about the spice girls here but something a little deeper than that.

Work is really annoying me at the moment. Our outsourcing plan isn't going to plan :-) Oh well s**t happens and I'm really not that bothered. Right, that’s it for the moment. More music advice and travel info to come

Rob x

Say goodbye to bitterness thats living in your heart
If you can live with no regrets then you'd be free at last

Monday, July 10, 2006

Gateway to Australia

Right, I'm back in Sydney after spending the past week in Perth. A shorter flight than the outbound trip. Only 4 hours, it's either downhill or the winds behind us.
It seems slightly strange coming back to Sydney. It feels like home but not quite, if you know what I mean. The same surroundings, the same hotel, the same awful trip to work. Sydney is a wonderful city, but frustrating at the same time. Abi and I agree we would never want to live here but it will always be a special place for us.
When I checked in and got to my room I found some presents waiting for me. It seems that I'm now a 'Hotel VIP' :-) Another card to add to my collection. I got two silver (I think) luggage tags, a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit and 20% discount in the hotels bars and restaurants. Excellent and it hasn't cost me a penny!!!!
I had a bit of a lie-in Sunday and then walked to the main shopping area (Pitt Street) and found myself in the RipCurl shop (surfing gear). I bought a few t-shirts before heading of to Myer (department store) and having a look round. Then it was in to David Jones (another department store). One thing the Aussies have kept are the Victorian Arcades. There are loads of them over here. I'd have to say that the most impressive Victorian building is the Queen Victoria Building, QVB. It's a lovely arcade and has obviously been restored at some point. A great place to visit.
I rounded of my afternoon with a walk round Darling Harbour, grabbed a coffee in Starbucks, sat on the harbour wall for a while and started to read my new book. I've just finished the Googlewhack Adventure and bought 'Adventure Capitalist'. It's about a retired investment banker who decides to drive around the world in a customised Mercede's soft top. That should be pretty easy when you've got plenty of money, but trying to drive through 30 conflicts should prove interesting.
I'm off to the Rocks tonight for a few beers and dinner. It's supposed to be the oldest part of Sydney settled when the first fleet arrived in 1788(?). Now a tourist destination. Right..The latest news is that they want me to stay until next Thursday. Looks like I have plenty more work to do and I'd rather do it down here than have to do late night tele-conferences. So I've got another weekend in the city. I'm going to have to think of something different to do. If anyone has some suggestions please let me know.
Not a very interesting blog, but it's nice to be able to share my thoughts with all of you.
How do you make tomorrow better than today
If you always live your life stuck in yesterday

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

'''Googlewhacked'''

Well here I am in Perth, miles from anywhere and a long way from home. Here are some fast facts about the state
  • 5,386 KM2
  • 1.4 million people
  • 5 hours flying time from Sydney
  • 18 hours flying time from London (unless you can't fly direct and then it's 28 hours!!!)
  • In Australia and not Scotland
  • Having problems with water
  • Not as many traffic problems as Sydney
  • ...and still not in Scotland
Work is going well, but nothing exciting to report. I get up, have breakfast, go to work, come back, have a beer and go to bed. Tonight was a little different as I waited 30 minutes for a blody taxi to turn up!!!!!! Grrrrrrrr!!!!! I've been staying at the Hilton Hotel downtown and that's the last Hilton I ever stay at. They are awful. It's like every Hilton was updated in the mid 1980's and never touched since. It may be because those lay-a-bout Hilton sisters are spending the family loot on tacky clothes and silly dogs. Anyway, I'm moving to the Hyatt tonight, it's cheaper, a better hotel and doesn't smell like an old sock (well I hope it doesn't).
I'm leaving for Sydney on Saturday and coming back home on the 15th. I'm glad I'm down here now England have been knocked out of the World Cup. The rubbish written in the papers wouldn't be worth reading. I heard Germany got knocked out last night and I'm hoping too that France will win. Although I'm a Spurs supporter I love watching Henry and Vierra play together, and Ziddane!!!!! I know he's getting past it but what a star.
On another note I've been reading Dave Gormans Googlewhack adventure. A great book about meeting people he Googlewhacked. What is a Googlewhack I hear you say? Well, it's searching for two words on google.com and only getting one hit. Sounds easy I hear you say!!! Well just go ahead and try, but remember to follow the rules on the website. In the book he meets some very strange people in some very odd places. He then ask's them to find two more Googlewhacks and meets those people...and so on...!!! He wrote another book entitled 'Meeting Dave Gorman' where he attempts to meet 54 people with the same name. Have a look at his web site. Each of his adventures starts as a bet. It's just so interesting to see where he's going to end up and who he'll meet.
All this got me thinking last night. Life is about experiences, the places you go and the people you meet. How you interact with other people and how lives change. A bit like 'Sliding Doors'.......The thought that popped into my mind was 'Do Something', I want to be the guy that other people read about (and not because I'm arrested for shop lifting in Tesco's). So that got me thinking some more and as Baldrick would say 'I have a cunning plan, more cunning than a cunning fox that has studdied cunning for several years'...more will be revealed later :-)
I've updated my links (on the right hand side of the screen). Have a look at the online clock, it's very odd but very watchable. (I can hear you say 'Here's a man with too much time on his hands!!!).

Monday, July 03, 2006

A not so frequent virgin

We'll here I am in sunny Australia on a cold and windy Monday night!!!!! It's mid winter and the temperature hit 23 degree's today. That's not too shabby. However, I'm not in Sydney but Perth, Western Australia. My travel plans were changed at the last minute (Wednesday night to be exact). That's not too much of a problem but when they tell you at the last minute and you can't get a direct flight it can be a pain in the backside. I had to fly to Sydney then change planes and fly back across the country to Perth. What should have been an 18 hour direct flight turned into a 29 hour ordeal!!!!!

I flew Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for the first time. I thought it would make a change from BA. You get a free transfer to the airport, private check-in (they drive right up to the check in and take your bags from the car) and more frequent flier points. There is also the added attraction of the upper class suite. However, they weren't off to a great start when the limo arrived half an hour late and the flight was delayed by 40 minutes. Still once we were underway they made up the time.

Virgin prides itself on being 'trendy' and different from it's competitors. Arriving in the Upper Class cabin I could see that they had made an effort. The cubicle-like partitions divide the cabin into individual suites, the seats themselves face
inward in herringbone pattern. Stools in every suite allow for colleagues to join your for a drink or dinner. So it would be nice if I was traveling with Abster. The seats don't recline into a flat bed like BA. You have to stand up and press a button to make the seat come forward and down onto the stool. You are then left with a completely flat bed. It's a pain to have to get up and convert it but you end up with a much more comfortable bed. They were different and the suites were wider and longer. When you are my size you need all the space you can get. We did however get issued with sleep suits (not quite in the 'romper' fashion!) but it meant that my clothes weren't crushed for the entire flight and I managed to disembark looking quite 'crease free' and smelling a little less like I'd slept in my clothes - as I hadn't!

The In Flight Entertainment (IFE for us frequent fliers) is pretty good. Rather than have a limited number of films and having to wait for them to come on they have introduced a real time system. You can pick the movies you want to watch, pause it, fast forward through the boring bits or stop it and choose another. The selection was pretty poor and they didn't have any classic movies like BA.

They have a small bar at one end of the cabin. Not that big but it's a nice to be able to sit around and chat to other passengers, have a beer or two and eat some snacks. However, I would
suggest you don't sit to close to the bar as it can get a little noisy at times. It's not too bad but I like a bit of peace and quiet when trying to sleep.

All in all I would fly Virgin again but will probably stick to BA. They have a better route network, a good partner program and I've got too many frequent flier miles to bother changing.
That's about it for now. More about my trip later on!!!