Did Abbey Clancy deserve to win Strictly?

21.12.13 – the big news of the day – Abbey Clancy, one time model, WAG and significant other to Peter Crouch ( such an appropriate name, don’t you think as he is so tall, that is what he must do most of the time), came out triumphant in the 2013 Strictly Come Dancing.

I haven’t watched any of the series but I have to say that the final tonight was thoroughly enjoyable – some amazing dance routines not completely spoiled by the ever wooden Bruce Forsyth. If you haven’t seen the show, a second/third rate celebrity is paired with a professional dancer and over the course of the series they dance a selection of dances such as the jive or charleston. It’s a simple format that often includes a ‘fall guy’.

This year, the final was made up of three female celebrities, all vying to be top cat. Abbey was good but overall I felt that Natalie Gumede was the better performer on the night, although it was close.

After the show, I did offer to do some of the moves with my wife – there was one where the dancer threw their head into the groin of their partner before flipping over. For some reason, the wife wasn’t up for it!

Great family entertainment that helps to build the Christmas feeling. All we need now is snow and there are rumours flying around that we may get it early next week. Fingers crossed!

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Out with the old….

20.12.13 – today has been a significant day for me. After driving leased vehicles for the last 16 years, I’ve finally handed them back, closed out the contracts and bought myself a couple of older, practical cars that will get me, in reasonable comfort from A to B.

Why is this significant?

Well, it’s the latest step in my journey to simplify my life. I’ve always enjoyed driving nice cars and saw them more as a symbol of my success. In recent years, I suppose as I’ve got older, I’ve come to realise that such status symbols are meaningless and realised what really matters. As such, for the last 2 years, I’ve been systematically removing things from my life that cause stress, and are now approaching my ideal state – to be able to live in the ‘now’ as opposed to worrying about tomorrow.

Life isn’t about the things that you have. Life is about the experiences that you have and the people that you share these experiences with. It’s taken me a few years to get there, but I’m there now and it feels great.

One of my passions is travel and I have spent part of this evening laying outline plans for 2014. Really looking forward to going back to Venice in February – the Carnivale will be on – we were there earlier this year and it was awesome.

Later in the year, we are planning a tour of France, staying in gites and visiting a number of the amazing regions during our three week vacation. Just been looking at likely places to visit, and will now start to look into specific gites and boutique hotels. I really enjoy the process of putting such tours together – definitely something to complete during the festive break, I think.

I’ve had better days….

19.12.13. It’s safe to say that I’ve had better days than today!

I found out that the interim role that I’ve been undertaking has been advertised, not for a permanent replacement (which was expected) but for a more senior interim person – feels like I’ve been given a kick in the balls, if I’m honest! Especially considering that I then had to spend the day in a management meeting with a team that presumably knew about the plans but didn’t say anything.

It’s not unexpected, the challenge I suppose of coming from the wrong side of the fence – in this case from the company that has recently been acquired! Nonetheless, it certainly put a dampener on the festivities leading up to Christmas.

Onwards and upwards!

After yesterday’s storms, woke up this morning to clear blue skies – what a contrast. Went out for an early morning walk on the banks of the Thames and took some amazing photographs (even if I say so myself). I really enjoy photography and have commenced a diploma course to really get to understand what it takes to create consistently great photos. Didn’t appreciate just how complicated it all was before starting the course, but certainly getting to grips with it all now.

I’m probably more suited to landscapes that portraits at the moment but I’m just in the process of ordering proper backdrops and lighting kit so watch out the fashion world, I’m gearing up….

As my daughter informed me earlier, only six more sleeps until Santa arrives. Need a good day tomorrow to clear up a lot of things so that I can concentrate over the weekend on getting all my presents sorted and wrapped – nothing like being on the last minute.

Any ideas for the wife who has everything?

Here we go again…

18.12.13. So, it’s a bit windy and a little wet and Britain comes to a standstill!

Ok, so I may have underplayed it a little, but nevertheless, why is it that we simply do not understand how to handle weather that doesn’t fit the norm?

Oh, bloody hell, just heard the forecast for Friday and they’re saying that we might have snow! Best rush out to the shops and stock up on my daily essentials because you know what it will be like when we get a flurry of the white stuff – it must call for emergency measures.

Because of the weather, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time today on trains – not the best use of time, especially when you consider that Virgin Trains seem to do everything in their power to reduce the 3G signals so for most of the time, I’ve been sat without any connection.

I’ve just caught myself moaning about a lack of connection. Blimey – thinking back just a few years the whole concept of the being ‘always connected’ was a pipe-dream. It is amazing what technology has enabled to do isn’t it and how it has changed the way that we live our lives.

I’m a bit of a gadget man myself – I don’t need to own the gadgets – I’m more interested in understanding what they can do and how they can help me in my day to day life.

Augmented reality is going to make a much bigger impact on 2014 I think and become much more mainstream – consider how we can support people from afar by making better use of this technology – I’ve seen examples of how we can show people to, for instance wire a plug or undertake a specific activity on a production line. Take a look at this Ted Talk, where Matt Mills demonstrates how AR is being used today and how the medium will undoubtedly develop in 2014 and beyond.

Winter vomiting virus hits home…

17.12.13. My youngest daughter woke up early this morning, announcing the arrival of the winter vomiting virus in our household. All day long, she has been feeling and then being sick. I feel so sorry for her, especially as she was forced to miss the Christingle at the village church, where she was to take a lead role.

Fortunately, a number of my meetings had been rescheduled so I was able to stay home with her. Don’t you find that these unexpected opportunities are a godsend – I was able to catch up on so many small things that I’ve been putting off, managed to move a few really important projects forward as well as take the opportunity over lunch to read a number of my favourite blogs.

Every time that I do so, I think to myself that I should do it more often – I always pick up on something that is oh so relevant. And today has been no different. I really enjoy Seth Godin and Kevin Roberts. Today, I got introduced to Lewis Howes who issues a weekly podcast – this week is an interview with the worlds No.1 Poker player. An interesting perspective on life.

After such a busy day, sat back with a lovely glass of Merlot, watched a film and then caught up with Homeland – not too sure whether this series is as good as previous ones – they have maybe pushed the franchise to the limit.

So another day comes to an end – I’m sleeping in the guest bed as my daughter wanted to sleep with mummy!

Nite nite.

Far too busy to work…

16.12.13. Back in the office today after a week and a half travelling working away. What should have been a catch up day rapidly deteriorated into a day where things started to happen that created lots of other things to do, so by the end of the day, the to do list had growth significantly, without much evidence of anything having been completed.

I’m sure you’ve had one of these days, when you just can’t get focused on anything because of other ‘crap’ – so frustrating.

Earlier in the evening, I at last got the chance to upload a new theme on this wordpress blog. What do you think about the design? Does it help you to become engaged? I’d really appreciate your views.

Lots of research on Innovation tomorrow, so that should be fun.

What a day…

15/12/13 – well that will go down in history!

Funny saying that. Don’t all days go down in history? But you know what I mean.

The day that the world said goodbye to Nelson Mandela, the biggest change agent the world has ever seen in my opinion. The day that Andy Murray won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (does he have a personality?), the day Peter O’Toole dies and the day that Liverpool put 5 past Spurs at the Lane.

What a day!

My day was a little more routine, although having said that we did celebrate Christmas with my parents as they are flying off on holiday next Friday, so we had all the family round. Lovely dinner, some good laughs and a chill out this evening.

Overall, an event filled weekend.

Thinking about what my recommendation is today, and I don’t think it can be anything else but the book ‘A Long Walk to Freedom‘ – truly inspirational.

Peter Pan

14/12/13. Peter Pan in Blackpool!

Who would have thought it would be so good? But I have to say that the whole show, all 3 hours of it was simply brilliant – a panto in the true sense. The theatre, the Blackpool Grand, has such a traditional feel, you appear to have been transported back in history – I’m sure it would have been exactly the same 50/60 years ago.

The cast, not big names but nonetheless gave an amazing performance, full of laughter and like all good pantos, littered with one liners that work at both adult and child levels. So much more authentic than the drivel that you get on things like the xFactor, which has culminated tonight with the choice of the final 2 – some young lad from Glasgow – “he’s only 16, you know” and some old battle axe from god know where.

Can’t wait for the final tomorrow – I think not!

Later in the day, had a few drinks with some good friends and the banter got round to The Trip, a great series with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon visiting a series of Northern restaurants – if you haven’t seen it, you need to. By all accounts, a second series is due out soon.

The weekend is upon us…

13/12/13. Friday the 13th. So far, nothing spooky has happened but you never know, I may get lucky tonight!

Now that would be spooky!

The penultimate weekend before Christmas and we are getting all geared up. Panto tomorrow and then a Christmas Dinner on Sunday with my folks who always go on holiday over Christmas and New Year. Panto should be fun. We’ve been going for many years with the same group of kids who all met at nursery. Not too sure how many more years the tradition will last but hey ho, let’s make the most of it whilst we can. “Oh no you won’t” I hear you shout…..

Funny old day, travelling again for a relatively short meeting, but one that was much more insightful than many. I’m sure that Virgin trains restrict the 3G signals on their trains to encourage you to buy their wifi – I simply couldn’t get a signal today so unable to take advantage of the 4 hours on the train.

I did catch up on some reading though, which is always useful, as well as listened to some music. The track that sums up the day is Ho Hey by The Lumineers. Great song.

What do you think?

Towards a simple life….

12/12/13 – We are fast approaching that time of the year when all hell breaks loose and families are thrown together for a feast of jollity. No wonder the divorce rate goes up. Expectations are set way to high, fuelled by the media promoted vision of the great family Christmas.

I think it’s all gone way too far and I’m striving to go back to a simpler world, where the important things matter. Not how many presents you’ve got, or whether your presents are more expensive than mine. No, a simpler existence where we celebrate the time together, think about the good times and look ahead to the many good times ahead. Oh and watch the Queen!

I’ve started this move to a simpler life today actually, by moving on a couple of lease cars. The cars were lovely, but expensive and in reality were more about the image that they portrayed than anything else. I’ve replaced them with a couple of older vehicles that will do what I need them to do, in comfort and will over the course of the next few years, lose very little in value.

I sense that this desire for a simpler life is becoming more relevant these days, or is it just that I’ve reached an age when it suddenly hits you that the ‘things’ don’t matter – it’s the experiences that really count.

So, I turned off the PC, sat down and watched a great film with my daughter snuggled up on the couch – it was great! The feeling and the film. Interestingly, the film was all about the realisation that you become what you become through experiences and not the things have you have. There is a great line in the film – the number of gold medals that you win does not make the man. By the way, the film – Cool Runnings. I’ve watched it many times and it’s still funny, still a great story and still inspirational.