2 December 2012

Family Travel: A Weekend In Madrid

The Three Musketeers
This post has been prompted by an up coming trip I have with my sisters and nieces in toll. Also as of late I have been reading a lot about people doing solo trips because they cannot get their friends or families to come along or avoiding people tagging along because of disagreements during holidays. In a way this is something I could relate to but over time I have gained a lot of experience in terms of what works for all us. I tend to plan my trips to a 'T' and with travelling with my sisters great to always have someone who is laid back and just throw away the map and just explore the cities without any plans. Like the saying goes, you can choose your friends, but you cant choose your family.

20 November 2012

Candlelight Club: Quantum Leap into the 1920's

A last minute invitation into the secret world of the roaring 20's. Well not so secret now that I am blogging about it.  Those in the know, fear not, as the readers will have to do their own hunting for the secret locations of 1920's revivals.

14 October 2012

Discovering Hong Kong: 5 Travel Tricks & Tips for Travelistas on the Go

Hong Trip Slideshow - More Pictures here

The terminal train announcement at Hong Kong International Airport, peered through Keane who together  with Emeli Sandè and The Script formed the soundtrack to my 10 day visit between Hong Kong and China. Saturday September, 22nd, it was time to head back to London...

Yes, my lovelies! I had finally set foot on the Asian continent, albeit five years late. It took a wedding invitation to get me to sign up for a 16 hour flight. A wedding I very nearly missed thinking it was one month later than the actual date. A frantic shuffling and emails suggesting the cheapest ways to save cost to our client on covering the days I would be off secured my release off my current project for 7 working days, 10 including weekends.

Arriving in Hong Kong  tired but immediately awakened by the beautifully lite skyscrapers as the hotel shuttle bus took me and 3 others from the airport to the Marriott Courtyard. I forced myself to sleep at 6.30pm UK time and 1.30am HK in an attempt to adjust my body clock to Hong Kong time. As the blinds slowly disappeared into the ceiling revealing the prettiest emerald green sea views I have ever laid eyes on, I had woken up in Hong Kong!!! Turbo Jet boats whizzed past transporting travelers to a Macau, container floats lazily passing by over a back drop of the Victoria Harbour. Twenty-one floors above the ground, I must have sat by the window for a while because it was 3pm by the time I dragged my jet-lagged behind out of my hotel room.

9 October 2012

An Explorer's Essentials: "What To Wear Where" Challenge

This is a mini post in response to PhiPhi's "what to wear where" challenge. Considering most of my posts recently have been about my travels so I thought I would post a mini...my packing essentials...

To travel at ease means having to really think about where you are going and what activities you will be getting involved in addition to aiming for little to no dewrinkling(ironing) activity. That will just eat into my exploration time. Comfort for me is an important factor when I travel so if I am doing long haul then I will not be spotting my 5'' heels. I try to think about the weather, different things I might be doing at different times of the day as well as how comfortable and light the items I am carrying are. The last thing I want is to spend time queuing up to check in a massive suitcase. Not me! Online check-in with just cabin case makes the whole process of boarding a plane that much easier. Work also involves a lot of inter-city travelling so I am fastly becoming a pro at travelling and packing light.

28 September 2012

Victoria Harbor Views | Where to Stay in Hong Kong

Still pinching myself at the experience I have had in Kong Kong. My humble aboard for the week in Hong Kong was to be the Marriott Hotel on the main island of Hong Kong. Sitting pretty on the north shore of downtown's bustling area. The Marriott guest services start off from the Airport. I quickly located shuttle desk for my hotel at the arrivals exit gate and checked in for the shuttle bus to the hotel.

1 September 2012

Berlin Weekend | Historical Walks and Talks

Berlin Weekend | Historical Walks and Talks bode museum

Arriving  in Berlin on Friday, August bank holiday weekend on a spare of the moment trip to appease a friend who has been bugging me to visit Germany. Landing at Berlin-Schönefeld Airport, an airport that served as an aircraft plant, manufacturing transportation equipment used in world war II. Now the only airport serving East Berlin. A short walk from the airport is the train station linking to city. I was clearly either tired or the dull weather on my arrival made everything seem dark dingy and just rather uninteresting. I guess this must be the result of long hours at work and recent depressing weather in Peterborough.

18 July 2012

London Olympics: Me And My Oyster On A Journey

Leake Street - London Eye/Waterloo Station

Up until recently "Street Art" was called graffiti and was associated with vandalism. A lot of places have now cleaned up the colourful art that used to be in so many places that I spent time in around London. I hadn't been to the newly acquired Old Vic Tunnels until a few weeks ago. Only a stone's throw from where I used to live. The  Old Vic Tunnels is tucked away behind Waterloo station and as the name says, its entrance is via the tunnel that is Leake Street.

As soon as you approach the tunnel you are immediately bathed in this rainbow effect and a burst of colour that you just don't see around London anymore and rather unusual of it being so central. Leake Street and is fantastic splash of colourful Street Art or Graffiti for the old skool, and is right across from the London Eye.

17 July 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: Afternoon Tea at Kettners

The rituals of afternoon tea date back to the 1800s when Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford scheduled times for tea and snack to keep the hanger pangs at bay. In 2012 the ritual is still as alive as ever, and in one truly elegant surrounding that is Kettners. Tucked away in Romily Street in the heart of theatre land.

Afternoon Tea is one of the most fashionable ways to catch up with friends. On Saturday we set about to do just that, catching up over endless cups of fragrant teas with heavenly scones and sandwiches that would stop any dieter in her tracks. One would normally associate afternoon tea as a ladies thing but Kettners offers an atmosphere of genteel refinement and caters to all. I could have sworn I saw a few raised pinkies over fine china by a few male guests sitting across our table.

8 July 2012

Open The Olympic Games With A Weekend Of Free Music From Around The World

Emirates Cable Cars-  Royal Docks

If you haven't managed to get a ticket to any event at the Olympics, fear not, because help is at hand. If want to see some of the sporting events but not prepared to pay the amount it would cost to send your family for a week in Spain then I may just have some good news for you!

26 June 2012

Windows Cloud Day: Windows Azure Conference

Virtual Machines
Cloud Services
Big Data
Windows Azure opening talks - Scott Guthrie Blog
Nord.js - Mark Rendell
iOS Devices with Azure - Chris Risner
Provision and Customise Azure Virtual Machines - Michael Washam
Social Gaming - Nate Totten
Windows Azure Storage and Service Bus - Scott Klein
Android Device with Azure - Chris Risner
Java Applications with Azure - Satish Nikram
Team Foundation Server use of Azure components - Richard Fennel
Building PHP Applications on Windows Azure - Cory Fowler
Tracks at the presentation 

13 June 2012

The Big Blue: My Mini Guide to Lake Garda

Something curious happened the moment I stepped off the plane. Arriving in Verona on a hot Friday afternoon. In that very moment, it was as if the heat had suddenly melted all my cares away. I was ready to spend 5 days in Italy. With only a GCSE Italian to rely on I was determined to fully immerse myself in the culture.

Anyone that knows me or those that have traveled with me know, that I am a planner, and I will plan the whole trip in detail. From how I will get there to downloading local street maps on my iPhone, getting around; the best, cheapest, quickest ways to see the cities I visit including what not to miss out on. I suppose this is what traditional tourism tells us; seeing the standard city sites like landmarks and artworks as if the only things worth seeing. So this trip to Italy, I decided to do things differently. That of minimal planning. I wanted a more sensory and deeper travel experience, so there was no downloading of any maps or extensive research about the best places to eat, drink or museums around town. I was not going to slavishly follow a travel itinerary to the letter.

28 May 2012

Beginners Photography: Mastering the Basics

Finally, I think summer has arrived. I hope my UK(and those already enjoying the sun around the globe) readers are enjoying the sun before it does a U-turn. The weather has been hot! And I mean HOT!! So hot that I would be surprised if any Londoner told me that they hadn't spotted a host of naked bodies spread across the parks.

The brightening up of the weather has inspired yet more outdoorsy pursuits. Although, this has been difficult lagging around a swollen foot caused by a bike injury. This has surprisingly put me out of both cycling and climbing. Its more painful not being able to do either of these than the actual pain of my swollen foot. I have been left with just admiring pictures of friends who have been out on climbing trips. My sister is so convinced that I had a climbing accident and I am refusing to tell the truth. As if! Sorry to disappoint you sis by this fat knuckle is all due to my hybrid two wheeler. Big foot ain't got nothing on this bad boy right here...I have dragged myself to work though...if I cant climb and I cant cycle I might as well hobble down to Peterborough. This has sadly turned my profile intro into  just a rock-climbing, gadget loving programmer who loves to travel(slower than grannies on zimmer frames mind you).

11 May 2012

Talent Showcase of Geekgirls in the UK

" The future belongs to those who can create networks" - Bookboon

This post is a week over due as I have been a little busy with work. I couldn't post about the recent event at Geekgirl and ThoughtWorks...

...For those that have kids; are you doing enough to show your kids that they can do anything in life without fear or judgement? Or are you raising them to believe that certain jobs should only be fulfilled by a certain gender. I ask this because to a large extent our believes are influenced by parents. This is not a discussion about nurture vs nature, for that read this; 'Who Shaped Our Behavior? Peers or Parents?' 

17 April 2012

Is the economic crisis breeding self doubters?

How often do you doubt yourself? Has your self doubt increased as the economy attempts to sink deeper than the Titanic?

Having recently engaged in conversations with various people regarding job security, even those that do have jobs seem to feel as if they are living on the edge. Long gone are the days when companies seemed loyal to long serving employees. It seems redundancy packages are a thing of the past when companies are looking to cut costs in addition to costs saved from lay-offs.

3 April 2012

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step...

This post has come about because I have a colleague currently going through some pretty tough personal changes. As much as we all try not to have our personal issues not affect our work lives you can certainly tell when someone has a lot on their head and they are facing difficulty in dealing with the commitment to attend to both work and personal life . So this post is really for him and anyone out there going through some changes. I wanted to share some tools that help me.

29 March 2012

Climbing the cliff edges of Portland

Blacknor Beach

As I watched my bare feet take turns hitting the sand and edging closer and closer to the water, not long before my eyes closed as I relaxed and took a deep breath while small waves of icy cold water made my feet disappear into the pebbly beaches of Portland. This just about made up for the long drive from London to Dorset on a Friday night the night before.

20 March 2012

400 Miles in 6 days! London - Peterborough - Peak District - London

Another busy week, with a little climbing activity thrown in. After a few late nights at work and the fact that I do treasure my weekends, especially now, that I am working in a different city to the one that I reside in.
With the weather improving I am eager to get outdoors and enjoy nature as God intended. I hope that line doesn’t conjure up some interesting visuals but that could just be my “creative” imagination. In my last post I mentioned that I cancelled a lead climbing course which was meant to be during the week but because I am now working in Peterborough I couldn’t get into London in time to do it. So I re-scheduled it for the weekend course which was held in the Peak District last Saturday. So I decided to drive from London to Peterborough for work and Friday evening leave Peterborough for the Peak District. That’s about 400miles in 6 days!

7 March 2012

Happy International Women's Day - IWD 2012

7 Billion and Counting: Dreams, Ideas & Actions to Change the World

Happy International Women’s Day!!!  Today marks the 101st Anniversary for a globally celebrated event , celebrating the remarkable achievements women before us have made. Also recognising the many contributions and precedents women around the world are making.

6 March 2012

Hotel Bookings: Working Away From Home

Not bad for a last minute booking...

Hmmm...Where does one start? With a little time on my hands before I check into my hotel I thought I would get a post in. Coming to you live(sort of) from the Marriott in Peterborough where things took on a rather interesting turn. I am homesless(or hotel-room-less)! So rewind back to yesterday. I got confirmation that I would be joining a technical infrastructure project and needed to be in Peterborough on Tuesday morning. I booked my train ticket online and that went through just fine. I booked my hotel room at the Marriott Hotel or so I thought. Oblivious to all of this we spent the day on-boarding for the project as well as all the other crazy good stuff that happens when you join a new project. Left the client site to check in at the hotel, and guess what? No booking! “Madam, would the booking have been made in another name?” Oh I don’t know, try James! That’s my other name -  only on weekends though. The hotel clerk proceeds to check both systems and what’d you know?! Zilch! Nada! Nope!

2 March 2012

Leap Year at the Circus!

Circus Reception

Dinner at the circus! Well not exactly, the restaurant is called Circus. The plan was for a girly dinner with a twist and boy was it a twist! Arriving at Circus you would think it was shut as you are greeted by brown metal doors that don't give any insight as to what you about to let yourself in for. 

24 February 2012

Prince's Trust Charity: Wild UK Challenge

As part of my NY resolutions to do more community volunteering and challenge myself, I have signed up for the Wild UK challenge. I have set up a new page to keep track of this event but please please help me raise funds by sponsoring me.

Please click here or click the Wild UK button above for more details.

Many Thanks

Please don't forget to “like” me on Facebook if you haven’t done so already! Thanks for your support!


19 February 2012

Rock Climbing Addiction

There are only three real sports: bull-fighting, car racing and [rock] climbing. All the others are mere games.” -Ernest Hemingway

With the beautiful weather upon us this weekend, I thought getting out there before the snow or rain returns was a wise idea. Weird that I ended up being indoors most of Saturday morning to early afternoon. Not lounging might I add. If you hadn't figured out what I was doing from the title of this post, I had one of the best indoor climbing sessions yesterday.

14 February 2012

Windows Phone 7 Application Development - Sink or Swim.

Shhhhhhh! If you sit quietly you can almost hear me sigh in relief to a nicely paced start of the week. Last week was very long and gruelling involving a lot of late nights in the office trying to finish off a project which had a tight schedule.

Ok, so let’s start from the beginning. I did a short course on Windows Phone 7 development at the end of last year and I when I got back to work after the Christmas holidays I was immediately informed of an upcoming project on WP7. You can imagine my excitement as I have been really keen to join such a project to the point where each time I sent an email to scheduling about upcoming projects the email had such a line “…if there are any WP7 projects please please please let me know”. I also made a point to join WP7 projects alongside those scheduled for me. Volunteering to test or adding small features nothing major but a great platform to learn from.

Finally got onto this project and boy was it at the deep end! Be careful what you wish folks because you just might get it. The project had a rather tight schedule and involved a lot of Sprints(Agile Methodology). These sprints made getting work done a bit of a task as some of the designs were still being changed as I was coding. In a way the tight schedule and the fact that I was given something totally new made the project even more challenging and in doing so I had to force myself to quickly grasp some of the ideas about object oriented programming concepts in relation to WP7 that I have been contending with for a while. With the deadline looming I called in some reinforcement to help me out as there was no leeway on the deadline. I had a WP7 Pro come to my rescue. I learned a lot more in a week than I would have in a month by collaborating with Mr WP7 Pro. Just because I was working with a Pro does not mean the Bee is now a Pro, although I am working on that. I learned so much as well as things that made the process easier such as getting the flow of pages before dwelling down into the data binding of the project and a lot of other WP7 specifics that the device emulator can and cannot do. The project was handed off on Friday for testing to another team so just about made the deadline.

4 February 2012

The Power of Self-Compassion: be kind to be more effective

A trying a week had me re-evaluate some of the challenges or projects I would like to take on this year. Having had a rather busy January, I am starting to wonder if I may have set myself unachievable goals. Although achievable, but unachievable in the sense that I may have taken on way more than I will be able to complete this year or that I will complete all of them but have left no room to actually reflect,  which I think is important. One of the biggest obstacles we all come against is ourselves and I have found that over the years I have found myself demanding a ridiculous level of perfection and just really being hard on myself which in turn can be counterproductive.

I used to keep journals a long time ago and a couple of months ago I happened to look through some of my books from university and came across one of my journals from my teens. I read through private thoughts and recalling just how keen I was to study away from London and the all amazing things I was going to do with freedom from prying family eyes. In reading some of the pages I realized that journaling offered a bit more than blogging does, in that because they are private so you can be as honest and cheesy as the moment calls for and talk about any and everything without censoring your written thoughts.

One of the reason I wanted to get back into writing (blogging rather) is that writing is said to “help make emotional transitions and help us process information about circumstances we find ourselves in”. With this in mind, blogging also offers the opportunity to keep track of one’s development as well the ability to be able to easily look through some of the milestones and the process of your journey in reaching your destination; that of the goals or life circumstance you go through. Reading through some of the journal entries brought back memories of a girl that always used to get lost in the clouds. I am a bit of a day dreamer. It was almost like watching a movie of snapshots into my life at different points in my teens into adulthood.

31 January 2012

The Outdoors Show - Climbing Techniques, bargain hunting and more

To mark the last post of January, I will finish January off with my review of the outdoors show at the Excel London. I went to the outdoors show on the 15th January but couldn’t open some of the pictures I took as the files got corrupted. This is possibly due to the fact that I have been speaking rather disparagingly about my Samsung camera so maybe this is to teach me a lesson about being loyal to my gadgets.

Traversing the wall

I had a couple of sessions booked with the DMM stand at the show but in the end I only did one as my poor fingers were sore after a technique masterclass I did with Libby Peter. I did pass on my other booked sessions to my friend. The masterclass session started off with a chat with Libby asking the group what we wanted out of the session so as to tailor it to our needs. I mentioned that I wanted to get advice on getting the balance between keeping the body close to the wall and efficient use of energy by keeping arms straight when moving to different holds. There were three other people I climb with who were also booked on the session.

Libby Peter
Starting off with traversing from one side of the wall to the other to get warmed up while Libby looked on. After a couple of minutes she gave tips on how to efficiently conserve energy by keeping the body low, close to the wall and aiming to keep the arms straight. At which point she gave a demo of what she meant. Watching her climb slowly with such grace from one foot hold to the next made it look so easy but trying it out was off course a totally different story.

Over all the session was brilliant and I picked up a lot from just watching her and trying out some of the techniques she was showing us. Like many things, climbing is one of those things that you have to put in the time and practice in order to improve technique and gain body strength. Sometimes I find that on a climbing route I tire quickly because I am either rushing the climbing or straining the grip on the hold because my arms are slightly bent. One technique I picked up from the session was to rest into the wall that is, making a few moves then resting by leaning into the wall. This allows you to rest your hands enough to allow you to climb for longer than you might otherwise do by rushing into a climbing route.

                                                        Bike show at the Animal Stand.

The session was meant to be for an hour but it went over a little which we totally didn’t mind nor did we even realise as we were too engrossed in the fun of climbing. Overall I am even more excited to do more technique sessions both for lead climbing and techniques. Some of the sessions I do at the Reach Climbing Wall means that I can climb with different people so this still gives me the opportunity to learn from some of the experienced climbers in the climbing group. Sometimes I get stuck on a route and end up screaming at the belayer at the bottom to give me a hint on how to make my next move to the next hold and if all else fails I do a rainbow climb just to get over the hard move. A climb that involves a minor cheat or using holds from another route just to get over a hard section is what I call a rainbow climb as you will mix the colours of holds you use rather than stick to the one grade or route you started with.

As you can see some of the pictures that I managed to save are slightly dark, hence why my Samsung needs to be replaced by a younger and newer model. I can’t complain too much though as its saved me well even when my iPhone camera died on me. Other than my techniques course I managed to blow some cash on some climbing goodies and try out the world’s longest indoor zipline at the Go Ape stand.  I also came away with some Red Chilli shoes, DMM slings, screw gates, nut key. I didn't spend as much as I thought I would as I still came back with half the amount I took with me. Again, no complains with that one!
Longest Indoor Zip Line
Hope your NY resolutions are still going strong. As I am currently learning how to develop for the Windows Phone 7 don’t be surprised if my next few posts in February are about programming.

Please don't forget to “like” me on Facebook if you haven’t done so already! Thanks for your support!


29 January 2012

The Year of the Invisible Dragon

A rather busy week was finished off with another round of New Year celebrations. Yes you read it right, Chinese New Year celebration that is. In London! I was totally geared up for the Chinese festivities and expected dragon parades, Chinese dances and the whole nine yards. What I did get was nowhere near a yard let alone nine. The opening ceremony  was at Trafalgar Square and kicked off with fire crackers at the bottom of Nelson’s column.  There were stage performers with Boris schedule to address the crowd. After waiting for a while in the cold my friends and I decided to move on to China Town to hunt for a missing dragon.

26 January 2012

MTV Presents Emeli Sandé at KOKO Camden

Arriving at KOKO on a cold Wednesday evening thinking that I was just “fashionably late” enough to go straight into the venue as the show was set to start at 7pm but instead made to wait in the cold for nearly an hour while a queue formed outside. Out of my Mary Poppins purse came my gloves and if it was going to rain or snow I had a miniature umbrella, some snow shoes and a plough! Just kidding! Let’s just say I was preparing for a little waiting. KOKO London, a very decadent venue with art deco style interior gives the whole place an edgy but glamorous feel to it. 

17 January 2012

ReachOut! First Mentoring Session...

My mentoring session kicked off on Monday evening after attending the mentoring training the previous week. It was quite interesting being back in a school full of lively and energetic teens.  Arriving straight off a busy Black Wall Tunnel I let go of all that traffic craziness when I was introduced to my mentee who offered his little hand for me to shake. The hour was spent with us trying to get through a piece of work on the role of Language and how language evolves whilst also trying to get my mentee to concentrate on the work. He reminded me of my nephew whose energy levels could match that of the Duracell bunny.

11 January 2012

Victoria Falls Bungee Jump Accident: Reason for goal reassessment?

Test your flight skills: Bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge 
So with the recent headline of a bungee jump gone wrong on the Zambezi means that some 2012 goals may need rejigging. An Australian girl miraculously survived a bungee jump after the bungee cord snapped sending her straight into a crocodile infested Zambezi River. The interview and video of the fall can be found on the BBC News site.

5 January 2012

Paralysis by Analysis

I thought I would share my mini success on the climbing front. In my first post I mentioned that I would like to start doing more 5+ and 6a climbing grades. My first climb in 2012 was this evening and I think I got off to a great start! I managed to do 3x 5+ routes and 6a route even though the 6a involved a minor cheat where I stepped on a different colour hold. The main point is that I managed to get to the top without giving up.

Reach Climbing Wall - Woolwich London

1 January 2012

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to my Blog! I have been wanting to start a blog for a while and I thought what better way to christen the New Year than to start a blog. To borrow from a British expression “Start as you mean to go on,” Which basically means that you should begin new ventures by acting and sounding like you were already a success.