Tag: london

Pride

As the clock ticked down to Friday I have to admit to getting quite excited about the Olympics. I’m a massive sport fan so love the Olympics but there was so much buzz building over the last couple of weeks that the Opening Ceremony was essential viewing.

Could Danny Boyle pull it off? Could Britain pull it off?

Course they could.

From a shaky start the whole show was a success. Visually impressive with some fun along the way and rooted with an immense soundtrack it was an opening made in Britain for Britain. It left almost everyone bursting with pride. As Sir Tim Berners-Lee tweeted, “this is for everyone”. And it was. No matter who you were there was a hook in that ceremony. Some tried to politicise the ceremony and class it as left leaning. Utter nonsense and looking back, all Olympics and sporting events of this size have a political edge. Some critics also said that much of the show would be lost to international audiences but previous opening ceremonies would have been lost on me if it wasn’t for the commentator reading from his or her crib sheet. Danny Boyle and his team crafted a show that galvanised a nation and set the tone for the next two weeks of competition.

A few of my favourite moments below. Ok, lots of my fav moments lifted from the BBC broadcast. Far better photo’s from the ceremony can be found at The Big Picture.

Sir Kenneth Branagh as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In amongst the chaos he stood out.

Forged rings looked incredible

I loved the light reflected in the welders mask

Great arial shot of the rings and the stadium

That’s not really the Queen is it?

It is the Queen!

She can act

Classic Bond

Celebrating the NHS was a masterstroke – nice to see it trend on Twitter too

Bean – unexpected but fun

Jasmine Breinburg – star of the show?

Digital revolution celebrated with Sir Tim Berners-Lee

This is for everyone

Emeli Sande – what a voice

Sir Chris Hoy leads out the Great Britain team

The BBC cuts to the Queen who looks bored (or looks on with pride according to the BBC)

By day the Olympic stadium looks ordinary but at night it comes alive

Sir Steve Redgrave brings in the torch with a guard of honour from the builders of the stadium. Great touch.

The cauldron – great camera shot from underneath

Olympic flame

There’s always fireworks but ours were real

The rings from space

Even during the endless athletes parade while we waited for Chris Roy and the GB team the music was such a breath of fresh air. Switching to David Bowies “We Could Be Heroes” when GB came out gave me goosebumps. If you loved it as much as me then the Isles of Wonder Soundtrack is a no brainer. Thankfully Hey Jude isn’t included!

Sharing the experience on Twitter was great. Initial worries and anticipation turned into tears and joy…until Hey Jude! It also meant that the killjoys out there were ruthlessly outed. Step forward Aidan Burley, Conservative MP for Cannock Chase.

What an arse. Seemingly he was misunderstood and today he’s said it was because there was too much rap music. Looking at the soundtrack there’s hardly any. The guy has form though, last year being demoted due to some nazi quotes. But one idiot can’t spoil it.

To close of with a couple of high points. Danny Boyle’s forward in the official program (and soundtrack) is inspiring.

Danny Boyle’s program forward

A final highlight was Boris the day before the opening. I don’t often agree with him but from time to time he is (comedy) gold. Enjoy.

Togaf

I’ve spent the last week in London on a TOGAF training course. It was an enjoyable course and marks a bit of a change in career direction which I’m looking forward to. Before that though, some thoughts on the course.

The four day course took place in central London, in fact a stones throw from Buckingham Palace in the wonderfully named Stag Place. The venue itself was on the 27th floor which offered fantastic views over London.

Early Morning London

The hotel I stayed in was a wee bit way from the venue, right on Shaftsbury Avenue. If you’ve not been to London before you won’t know the location but it’s right on the edge of Chinatown, Soho and Covent Garden. This meant for great restaurants every night but my room was over looking the street and it just never got quiet. On the first night I hardly got any sleep and picked up some ear plugs so the next three nights were bearable. The room was also quiet small, with a tiny sink in the on suite. The worse thing is that four nights stay cost over £800. Shocking but I guess that’s London rates for you. It was clean and centrally placed – that’s about the best I could say as long as you take some ear plugs!

I have to mention each of the restaurants we visited. All very different and all extremely delicious and all found via Yelp on the iPhone.

The first restaurant was Punjab in Covent Garden. Despite the waiter spilling my beer over the table the meal was excellent and a good start to the week. Just look at that starter above – mmm – lovely.

The second night was at Patara – a great Thai restaurant. The mains were great but again my starter was a real highlight (picture above). Third night was at La Perla – a mexican pub/restaurant that did messy but tasty food with massive portions.

By Thursday I was stuffed what with the big meals at night and the great lunches on the course. We went into Taro which was a busy Japanese restaurant. I swore I wasn’t going to eat much but I did – just look at the sushi – fantastic! My weight will undoubtedly pay for this. It’s a shame that the view and food was let down by the heat in the room. Warm first thing, by lunchtime it was getting too hot but it just couldn’t be cooled. By mid afternoon, especially after no sleep, it was hard to stay awake. Dry subject, little sleep and a really warm room.

One nice part of the week was the distance between hotel and course. Far enough away that the walk was meaningful but not far enough away to force us onto the underground. That was only used on arrival and it was a pain due to closure of circle line – our train was swamped with people and it was so damn hot. While walking around I was surprised by how many Boris Bikes were in use. Looks like a popular scheme and one thats easy to use.

As for the course itself, it was good but TOGAF is a fairly dry subject – have I said that already? The best parts of the course were the group exercises although our team was helped by having a powerpoint and sales guru on the team – not my area of expertise! Our team even one the prize – a pen each. Easily pleased.

All thats left to do now is to do the exam in the next few weeks and I should then be TOGAF certified. Eh? Enterprise architecture is the path I’m starting to follow which will be heavily influenced by TOGAF. A long way to go and much work to do but I look to have a pretty interesting couple of years ahead of me. There’s a lot to sort!

London Calling

While down in Peterborough over New Year visiting Shakeel instead of the usual spend on gadgets and playing of games we took a trip down to London, booking the London Eye and taking advantage of a cold but sunny winters day. It was also a chance to get some photography done – we were tourists for the day!

Sir John Betjeman statue at St. PancrasFirst stop was St Pancras station which has been newly redeveloped. It really is quite magnificent. There’s something about glass roofs that I really like. There’s also a nice mix of old and new architecture and the restoration is pretty faultless. I guess we were lucky as when we were there the station was very quiet so we got to take our photo’s without too much hassle. Full set can be viewed on Flickr.

Capsules at the London EyeAfter some pictures around Westminster it was on to the London Eye. After lot’s of queueing we finally got on, although we did manage to ‘jump’ about half of the queue which was nice – it was too cold to feel embarrassed. The hazy winters sun started to clear as we ascended and we got quite a lot of good pictures. The view in the summer must look amazing on a clear day. What was strange was there was no real sense of motion – it moved so slowly that you didn’t feel it at all. The full set of photos can be seen here. One shot I really wanted to get was a panoramic – stitching together lots of photo’s to get a wrap around view of London. It didn’t quite work out due to the low sun and the ever changing perspective but the result isn’t too bad as long as you don’t look to close – it’s also pretty wide at 18702 x 1614 pixels!

After that it was a walk around Horse Guards parade, St James’s park and Buckingham Palace. All very nice but by this time I was getting extremely cold. I really should have wrapped up a bit better than I did. It was a great day though and really enjoyable. It took quite a while to get the photo’s sorted and uploaded. I initially took over 600 photo’s but ended up with 140 published on Flickr. I also used Lightroom for the first time and I’m now hooked. So much more control over the image than in iPhoto. Just a shame that iPhoto 09 is coming with really nice albums and iPhone syncing. If only iPhoto worked like Picasa and managed photo’s in there own locations without having to suck/copy them into iPhoto’s library. I hate duplication.

Panoramic London from the Eye

Couple of things I need to remember when taking a photo. I don’t spend enough time watching where I’m taking a photo from. Lot’s of photo’s were slightly off centre from what I wanted to or were from a bad angle just because I didn’t think the photo through. I also need to work on not shaking as much – even with image stabilisation switched on I had a couple of disappointing photo’s. My favourite photo from the day though is the one below of Shakeel in the London Eye capsule. Just captures him really well. His full set of photo’s from London are also up at Flickr – he took some really great shots, even some of the ones without me in the picture are good. Hopefully this is the start of a lot more photo’s this year as is something I really enjoy doing.

Shakeel at The London Eye

Bombing

Tragic. Appalling. On the face of it so easy to do as well. Plenty of news and proper content elsewhere – visit Binary Bonsai for links to good news sources. While the mobile network was down in London and news reports sketchy, blogs were the most up to date and quickest way of finding out what was happening, and from my point of view conveyed the fear that had gripped people far better than any other news site.

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