Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hola, me llamo James

I've been studying Spanish for over a year now and last night I went to an 'intercambio', or language exchange, night for the first time.

Half-term week meant that there was no class this week so a girl from the class persuaded me to go with her to the London Spanish Meetup.  I also managed to get SB to come along.  She's a linguist of the highest order so I knew she'd be unable to resist an opportunity to speak one of the languages she speaks.

I bought a beer, wrote out my name badge and once the formalities were over made my way around the room chatting to people in speed-date style 3-minute segments.  There were people from the UK, Spain, South America, all over, all chatting away in whatever languae they wanted to practice. 

The evening was a lot of fun and it's a shame I'll only be able to go to meetups when I don't have a Spanish class but I'm definitely going to go again.  There is another event on Thursday nights at Club Espeng that I'm going to try as well.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Local News for Local People

Most local councils publish a council tax funded newspaper or magazine that they use for shameless self-promotion.

Living in LBHF I receive my weekly copy of the council paper H&F News.  Lovingly dubbed Pravda by locals, the paper has been designed to look like a publication totally independent from the council and has even been criticised by Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley.

For as long as I can remember no free and independent alternative has been available to LBHF residents.  However this all changed in January when the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle became a freesheet.

I was genuinely pleased that residents were, at last, going to be able to read a publication that reported local news instead of articles written by an organisation patting itself firmly on the back!

The first freesheet edition of the Chronicle was published on 15th January and was an enjoyable and informative read.  Friday 22nd January soon came round and the next edition duly arrived.  That sadly was the last edition to make it way through my letterbox because the last two editions haven't turned up.

Hopefully that isn't it for independent news in the borough and this week it'll be third time lucky...

UPDATE - After the short walk from work in W14 to the Bush what did I find waiting for me, yep, this week's paper.  Joy ;)

Monday, February 08, 2010

El Lunes

Weekend over :(

I clocked 23:12 in the parkrun on Saturday, my slowest time yet.  Oh well!  I'll put it down to having to weave my way through the swelled ranks of participants for the first coulpe of kilometres!

Down at GP the Bees won 4-0.  After a bright start, our on loan Polish wonder keeper got a hand on a Simeon Jackson shot and pushed it onto the post after a couple of minutes, Gillingahm showed why they are yet to win away from home in any competition this season.

A brace apiece from Charlie MacDonald and Miles Weston secured the Bees' biggest win of the season.  Conceeding two penalties and attempting suicidal back passes are never a good idea when you've only managed 3 away draws!  Wycombe up next at GP on Saturday, I'm sure Bees fans everywhere are already wishing away the working week :)

Away from football, I finally upgraded to a pro flickr account last night.  Not wanting to waste any time, I set a rather hefty upload going and it was still working away this morning!  I've given my internet connection a rest while I'm at work so I'll resume when I get home later tonight.  I've had three positive comments so far which is nice.

My on-line presence is growing!  Absolute geek!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Run Rabbit Run

Phew, run over!

There are loads of free timed runs dotted around the country.  They start at 9am every Saturday morning.  Sadly there aren't any in Northern Ireland just yet but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

The Richmond Park event is the nearest to me but it's still around five and a half miles away!  I always cycle there which takes about half an hour.  It's not too bad a journey and by the time I arrive at the park I'm awake and nicely warmed up.

It was my first parkrun of the year, my last was on 5th December, and there were well over 200 people lined up at the start, the biggest field I've seen.  People of all ages and abilities take part and it's good to see the numbers increasing  As always a big shout out must go out to the volunteers who give up their Saturday morning lie-ins week in week out.

At the finish the timer beeps you through and you get given a token, I was 72 this week.  I don't time myself so I'll have to wait for the website to update with the results.  My time will most likely be somewhere between 22:30 and 23 minutes I imagine, I run at a pretty steady pace.

SB did the run this week too, her fourth in total but first since October.  Hopefully she'll be joining me on the two wheeled schlep from W12 more regularly!

To give her credit, she found out about Parkrun.  Her first run was last Setptember, in Richmond's 100th event and  I was roped in to joining her the week after.  We're both slowly making our way towards the 50 run club!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bees v Gillingham

Brentford will try to secure their second League double of the season at GP tomorrow.

Gillingham are in town in what is bound to be another feisty affair following on from the 1-0 Bees win at The Priestfield on Boxing Day where once again both teams finished with 10 men.

Last season the game at Gillingham finished 1-1 and ten a side and in the post-match fall-out, Andy Scott was accused by Gills manager Mark Stimpson of telling tales to the FA in order to get Garry Richards retrospectively banned.  Since then AS has offered his hand to Stimpson after the final whistle but has been rebuffed.

Anyway, it all adds a bit of spice to the game and with the away allocation being sold-out, there should be a decent atmosphere inside Griffin Park tomorrow.

The loan signings we've madel over the past couple of weeks have created a realy positive feeling amongst the fans and three more points tomorrow will have people starting to believe that a push for the play-offs isn't beyond us.

After a difficult start to life back in League One I'm happy to see us sitting 10th in the table, and three points tomorrow will edge us closer to the magic 52 points touted as the total we need for survival.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Should I Flickr The Switch?

I bought a Canon SLR back in August 2008 and since then I've taken a shed load of photos!

For fear of losing them I bought a 1TB external hard drive but all that happens now is I go away, take loads of photos, and then file them away!  I never get to look at them and neither does anyone else.

This is where flickr comes in. 

I've had a free flickr account for a little while but all I've uploaded are a few photos of Battersea Power Station that I took on an open day back in 2008.  For the past couple of weeks I've been toying with the idea of upgrading to a pro account.  There are a lot of benefits, not least that with a free account you can only see your latest 200 uploads in your photostream.

I suppose what I'm really asking is whether the $24.95, around sixteen quid, annual fee is worth it.  A question that I can only answer myself!

flickr list the main benifits of a pro account as being:

- Unlimited photo uploads (20MB per photo)
- Unlimited video uploads (90 seconds max, 500MB per video)
- Unlimited storage
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Archiving of high-resolution original images
- The ability to replace a photo
- Post any of your photos or videos in up to 60 group pools
- Ad-free browsing and sharing
- View count and referrer statistics

The items in bold are the ones that I think I'll benefit from, so four out of nine.  Looking at the four, they do hold a lot more value than say the ad-free browsing or view counts so it looks like I'm a prime update candate.

Time to stop the jibber jabber and just get a pro account I say.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Crap In A Bag!

Why do dog owners, who are considerate enough to clean up after their dog has had a poo on the pavement, think that it is OK to leave the bag by the curb or a wall?

I was walking back to the Bush at lunchtime to make my sarnies because, unsurprisingly I didn’t feel like making them when I got back from Spain this morning, and yet again I saw this flawed logic in action.

These bags of crap are all over the Borough and I just don’t get it!

Reus, Paris, Londres

El fin de las semana pasada fui a Catalunya con (or maybe that should be 'amb') mi novia.

An early flight (7am!!) on Friday from Gatwick meant we were on the N148 to Victoria at 3.20am to catch the 4am train to one of the many airports that have attached themselves to London!

SB met a girl from Reus while she was at Uni and I get to reap the benefits with a lovely trip to the Autonomous Community of Catalunya :)

We buzzed around Barcelona using our finely tuned city-break whistle stop tour on Friday morning and afternoon before catching the RENFE along the coast to our base for the weekend, Mireia's flat :)

We had a couple of CaƱas before a lovely meal in a restaurant called Vinatxo. In Catalan an 'x' makes a 'sh' sound. Just in case you were wondering!

We were pretty bushwhacked after the early start, actually Thursday jut didn't end, so we strolled home and went to bed at about 1am. No crazy fiesta for us.

On Saturday we were chauffeured along the cost to the Ebro Delta, or if you're feeling brave, Delta del Ebro. We took a boat trip out to the mouth of the river, passing by the fields that provide Spain with the essential paella ingredient, rice. We made our way back to Reus via one of the Deltadelebre transbordadors (not my video!!!) and the seaside town of Cambrils, before going for a lovely meal at Mireia's parents' house.

On Sunday we followed the Ruta Modernista around Reus city centre before heading to Tarragona. After a stroll around this old Roman city and some lunch we were dropped of at Tarragona station to start the journey home :(

The hectic weekend came to a close after a final journey on the 295 at 2am this morning took us from Clapham Junction back to W12. Head hit the pillow at 3am. Zzzzzzzzz.