Monday, 28 February 2011

Food food food

On Saturday, Pete and I went to see his Uncle and Aunty in Oakham.  We had a good day looking round the posh shops and she fed us and fed us.  We had biscuits and cake with the first of around 12 cups of tea.  Fish for lunch followed by blackberry crumble.  Pete then had more cake.  We watched England play France at the rugby (a great game that was incredibly physical) and then sandwiches and locally made pork pie!

Any excuse to include a picture of a fit rugby player - here is Danny Care who played on Saturday:

On Sunday I went for a run to try and burn some of the food off.  My knee still is not quite right and makes some crunchy squelching sounds after a run.  Anyway, I am slowly building up some stamina - but it's early days.  My aim is to run a 10k race in late May.  

Also on Sunday, we had a huge meal at Pete's Mum's house. I'm feeling very fat now.

Don't forget, in a few days time '5 on the fifth' will be live on the net. Take 5 photographs on the days leading up to the 5th - publish those on your own blog and then add the link to my blog so that others can see your images. You can either take 5 random pictures or follow this months theme which is: LINES

If all goes to plan, you will not have to add a comment to include a link to your blog - watch this space for instructions! 

Friday, 25 February 2011

Five on the fifth - refreshed

In a few days time, the refreshed '5 on the fifth' will be launched. The idea is still the same - you take 5 photographs on the days leading up to the 5th; publish those on your own blog and then add the link to my blog so that others can see your images. 

You can either take 5 random pictures or follow this months theme which is: LINES

If all goes to plan, you will not have to add a comment to include a link to your blog - watch this space for instructions! The refresh will feature some nice new logos that I have designed, along with a refreshed look to my blog overall.

The main branding (that you can steal if you wish) will be: 

This logo will be the Facebook link:

And this is the alternative 'clean' logo:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Suits you Sir

On the BBC News site last week, there was an article asking if suits are on the way out as the "uniform" of choice in British businesses.  In the company I work for, suits are obligatory and I don't see that changing. Women get off lightly of course - though they may say that it's actually more difficult for them and a suit is an easy choice.

I used to work for the UK subsidiary of a German financial company (as did another fine blogger that you may read).  They took the approach that, unless you were seeing a client, you didn't need to wear a suit and even then it wasn't required.  So I wore smart trousers and a shirt and only ever put a tie on if a company representative was visiting me.

When we visited the sales conferences in Germany, I was surprised and pleased to see the CEO stand before the 3000 people in jeans and a polo top.  No British CEO would do such a thing.  German business has a refreshing and modern approach it seems.

Up to that time I had always worn a suit at work.  In fact, it had been a company rule at most of the companies I had worked for. I always felt it was stupidly old fashioned and only the British now seem to be clinging to this tradition.

Sadly the UK operation was closed with the client bank and advisers sold to a firm that has a very different agenda. I was there nearly 5 years and despite it being over 3 years since it all ended, I still miss the atmosphere, the freedom and the opportunities it gave me (such as foreign travel).  Life moves on... my career stalled. Could be worse.

Today I am seeing clients and will wear my suit, my uniform - it's the company rule. Wouldn't it be highly original for a national company to break with tradition and allow simple smart clothes?  No chance!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

App your service part 2

Further to last weeks posting, here are some more apps from the Sunday Times Top 500 list of recommended iPhone and Android apps. This supplement was part two in the two part series.

Again, these are all free and for the iPhone:

- Shazam... a long time fave of mine. The app recognises songs from the radio etc. Blows my mind!
- Beatwave... easy way to make music.
- Lightsaber Unleashed... turn your iPhone into a Star Wars lightsaber!
- IMDB... the massive movie database.
- Sky Mobile... you can actually add a programme to your record list from a remote location.
- Stick Cricket... silly fun game.
- Adidas Micoach... tracks exercise using GPS and provides audio feedback.
- Dulux... You take a photo and the app finds the shade of paint closest to that colour!
- Time Out things to do... the "must have" app for any Londoner.

Monday, 21 February 2011

More blurb

A while back I mentioned that I pull together the best photographs from each year into a photobook.  My printer of choice is (having tried a couple of others).  They have actually brought their prices down in recent years and if you search the net, you can usually find a voucher code for free postage.

I left it a while before finishing it off, but have just received the 2010 'holidays and events' through the post - a mere 200 pages!  I kept the design very clean this year with the book title made up of letters and numbers from various photographs - every single one from 2010. Now that wasn't easy!

This is actually the second photobook for 2010 as I produced one after the holiday in the USA.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

2011 Dieux Du Stade Calendar

It's remiss of me not to have selected a couple of shots from this years Dieux Du Stade calendar that is in our bedroom.  By the way, it's seems that trimmed pubes are the 'in thing' for guys - gay or straight.

Here is a selection of my favourites from the 24 images:

Friday, 18 February 2011

Triplets of Belleville

If you are the UK and close to a branch of FOPP I urge you to spend £3 and buy The Triplets of Belleville (also known as Belleville Rendezvous).

It's a criminally low sum for such a fun and impressive movie. It's a brilliant animation with virtually no script, but it will pull at your heart strings, make you laugh and stun you with some wonderful images. The music is memorable too. I rate it 9/10.

When her grandson is kidnapped during the Tour de France, Madame Souza and her beloved pooch Bruno team up with the Belleville Sisters--an aged song-and-dance team from the days of Fred Astaire--to rescue him.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

City boy

Yesterday I was in London for a couple of meetings. I visited our offices at 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin) where my employer has just taken on another floor. As I am officially based at home and the local(ish) office is closing soon, my business cards now have this prestigious address - which is rather cool. I can use the office when I want as well, although I probably won't.

After work I met Pete for a Turkish meal. A bargain, but lovely meal where I ate too much. On leaving the Gherkin earlier, I walked past Heron Tower, an almost finished building in The City, and saw some guys hanging on the side cleaning or possibly checking the new windows. I had to take an iPhone photo and if I zoom in on the guys and crop a bit, doesn't it look like a piano?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Tomorrow people

When I was very young, there was a children's programme on ITV called The Tomorrow People.  The start used to scare me - particularly the hand (at 21 seconds).  Considering we are talking 35+ years ago (oh God!), I can still remember it perfectly and was thinking about it the other day.  *shudder*

Monday, 14 February 2011

App your service part 1

In yesterdays Sunday Times, they had a list of 500 recommended iPhone and Android apps. This supplement was part one in a two part series.

There were some excellent inclusions, some I which I already knew and some great new ones - all of these are free for the iPhone:

- Tweetdeck... Link Twitter, Facebook and more under one roof.
- Sky Sports Live Football Scores... It does what it says on the tin really.
- Redlaser... Allows you to take a photo of a barcode and then the system will show how much the item is online.
- Wikitude... Using the GPS, the system checks out lots of sites to find local information.
- Dragon dictator... You talk and the app converts to text. I may write the next blog entry using it.
- Evernote... A personal fave of mine. A place to store ideas and sync with laptop, iPhone etc so that you can always access the information.
- Gun Bros... Addictive shoot 'em up game.

There were some weird apps too, such as an app to tell you which mushrooms are safe to eat. I was a little surprised to see gay hookup app Grindr on the list.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

I got wood

We spent the day yesterday in the muddy garden. We have increased the size of the vegetable plot and had 4 pieces of 3 metre wood lengths delivered to make a frame around it. We had to treat the wood and then put it in place.

Having done all that and also moved a load of earth, we bought some stupidly heavy bags of slate to put in front of the frame. We will put some alpine plants in there I think.

I still ache. I am just not used to this manual work.

The strange thing however, is that the spirit level tells me that the front piece is level, yet my eyes tell me that it's not level. Is it an optical illusion?  Our gnome will find a new place to live - he is 2.5 feet high and naked from the waist down... of course.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


In the news yesterday it was announced that some old ZX Spectrum games are coming to the iphone.  One is the classic Jet Set Willy - a brilliant game from 1984, the sequel to the equally fantastic Manic Miner.

Kids today wont appreciate the amazing feeling of controlling a computer in those early days of the 1980's.  I loved that time and I truly loved my 16k Spectrum (which I increased to 48k by purchasing the memory chips required).  Modern machines are impressive in so many ways, but back then it was so very new and exciting.

Today, the skills of programming are more like film making. In 1983 the programmers had to contend with limited speed (the Spectrum ran at 3.5mhz compared to my Macbook which runs at 2400mhz!), poor graphics and most importantly, memory size.  If you send a small text email today, that will probably be larger in memory size than the Spectrum had in total.

The geeks of the time made some outstandingly addictive and complex games using a tiny amount of memory.  Some favourites included: Jetpac (a 16k game!), Valhalla, Football Manager, Elite (possibly then best ever game) and Dark Star.

I know that I am getting nostalgic, but I think it's OK to do that once in a while. The home computing age has to thank a lot of people and one is Sir Clive Sinclair - a genius and a bit mad too, some would say... the C5 was probably the proof.

Thursday, 10 February 2011


Pete and I watched the first episode of Bedlam last night on Sky Living.  It stars the multi-talented Will Young (sexually unsure nerd) and a fit looking Theo James (can see ghosts) who looks great with short hair.  It's a horror series about an ex-mental asylum with twenty-somethings.

It seems that the series will show Theo James shirtless as much as possible.  It works for me!

You may find it interesting to note that the word bedlam, meaning uproar and confusion, is derived from Bethlam Royal Hospital in southeast London.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

5 on the fifth extra

A late late addition to the last '5 on the fifth' (reflections). This building has been vandalised with every single window smashed - is this theme 'no-chance-of-reflections'?

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The good:

I read this weekend that audiences are applauding at the end of The King's Speech in cinemas.  I've not seen the film yet, but I hear it's good.  Who would have thought that a movie about an over privileged stammerer who have such an effect.  I have only ever been to one film where the appreciative audience clapped at the end - that was in a small cinema in the Barbican Centre for The Simpsons Movie.  A deserved reaction I think.

The bad:

Bad guys are everywhere in a new series on a new channel - Boardwalk Empire on Sky Atlantic.  The first episode was directed by Martin Scorsese and was the most expensive pilot produced for television. I have seen two episodes and it looks good so far, but all programmes like this will be compared to The Sopranos which was brilliant. Sky have launched this channel based on HBO programming and it seems pretty slick so far.  The next season of Madmen will be on Sky Atlantic instead of BBC4, which is a shame as adverts just don't suit some programmes.

And the ugly:

Pete noticed today that Enrique Iglesias has released a new song and it is was on the front page of iTunes.  I own nothing by him, so why would I comment?  Well, the song I saw is called "Tonight I'm f***ing you".  We played a clip and you hear the line "Tonight I'm fucking you".  I find this pathetic. Enrique must have an ego that is out of control to want to do this.  Everybody uses the F word - that's not the issue here. The song is distasteful on so many levels - the swear word was obviously crowbarred into the song for publicity and it sounds like "I don't give a damn about you, tonight I am getting a shag" - just read the lyrics.  I assume there could be some Rohypnol involved so he can get his end away? Enrique should be ashamed of himself.  The radio version is called "Tonight I'm loving you" and the lyrics make far more sense that way.

Monday, 7 February 2011


Today at work, the new corporate branding will officially be announced to the world (sorry, it's not branding, it's a visual identity). At our national conference last month, we had a great presentation by our Marketing Director who told us that "it's the people in the business that make our brand" and that the "logo is not the brand" - then went on to present our new logo!  In fact, it's more of a refresh of the existing design - evolution rather than revolution you could say.

With all of this in mind, I have been considering how best to move "5 on the fifth" forward.  Next month, there will be a new look to the posting and at the same time I will promote the monthly fun challenge wherever I can (I need your help too!).  It's great to have a regular band of followers and seeing their interesting contributions - but the 21st month should somehow be different . I suspect that a refresh and some promotion is needed to boost numbers.

In the longer term, I want to start a separate site that allows people to upload photos, link to blogs and Flickr with the usual monthly theme and special one-off events. I say this, but have no clue how to do any of this of course!

So watch this space!  Any comments or suggestions are very welcome.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Five on the fifth #20

Welcome to 5 on the fifth, a monthly posting that benefits from audience participation. You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment here with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and I will update the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog, so that your visitors get to see the other contributions. You can take 5 random pictures or follow my suggested theme - this month it is: Reflections.  

You can join the
 5 on the fifth Facebook page 

My own pictures are below the links of those who kindly contributed:

Biki, Alaska
Stan, New Hampshire

This month I have opted for 5 quite varied images and styles around the theme of reflections:

1. Wine and lights
2. The funerals of these people will have had people reflecting on their own life.
3. Toaster
4. Marlow's bridge
5. In the mirror

Friday, 4 February 2011

February Movie Update

Here are the films that Pete and I have received from and watched on TV and DVD over the past few months (sorry for the delay in posting this) in reverse order, with my ratings out of ten from my movie list on IMDB.

50 First Dates 6

A good few funny lines, but I just don't like Adam Sandler.

Inception 7
Could well be uprated after a second viewing - I just wasn't convinced that it was as good as some people say.

Paris, Texas 7

Classic film that I found a bit long.

Catfish 8
I really liked this film. My mini review here.

Eric and Ernie 8
TV 'movie' about 2 of Britain's favourite comedians. Great stuff.

Gainsbourg 6
One truly weird film about the French musician and artist. It did show that he was far more talented than just "Je t'aime, moi non plus"

Toast 7
Another TV movie in the Christmas schedules.  Some gay stuff and lots of food.

Spirited Away 7
An incredibly odd Japanese animation - but enjoyable.  You have to see it - then tell me what the hell was going on!

Toy Story 3 8
Fantastic.  The best trilogy in movie history?

Juno 7*

Music and Lyrics 6
Silly but a few laughs.

Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope 6
It's strange, but it's really amateur in places.  Good memories, but just not as good as I recall - far too many silly coincidences.

Eclipse 5
No story, awful acting. 5 points, just for the shirtless lads.

The Illusionist 5

Heiko** 1

My Name Is Love** 6

Postmortem** 6

Protect Me from What I Want** 7
Lovely gay short with the stunning Elliot Tittensor.

Steam** 4

Trevor** 6

Vandalen** 4

Leaving 7

* viewed before

** gay short film

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The gay questionnaire (repeat post + updated)

Name: Stephen
Country: United Kingdom
Age: 40
How old were you when you first realised you were gay? I think I've always known I was gay and really fancied a couple of guys my age on TV (and at school) when I was about 12. That was a defining moment for me.
Do you have more gay friends or straight friends? Straight. I don't tend to categorise people and would question why anyone would.
Biggest turn on? Porn
Biggest turn off? Fat people
Ever been harassed due to your orientation? No, but I may have been lucky so far.
Have you ever been surprised at the reaction of people who know you are gay? Yes - a few guys I used to work with had no issues at all and I thought they might have. In fact, they were very supportive.
What is the worst gay stereotype? Camp guys who think they are being original. I think much of it could be an act.
Are you a stereotype? No I am not. I don't tick many gay boxes at all.
Ever been to a pride rally? No, but might go one day.
Do you go to gay bars? Rarely - in fact, I can't remember the last time.
How old were you when you first told someone you were gay? About 21 - but wish I done it earlier.
Did you plan it? If so, how? I was drunk and it just sort of happened. I said "I like guys"
What made you choose that person to tell? I trusted him and NEEDED to tell someone.
How did you feel? Felt like a weight lifted off my shoulder.
Have you ever been snubbed by someone after coming out to them? Yes. An ex-work colleague was very uncomfortable and avoided me from that moment. Sad ****er.

Have you come out to your family? Yes - but way too late. They couldn't have cared less - much to my surprise!
Why did you come out at that point? I had had enough of telling lies and it was getting me down. Also, 2 guys I knew had just come out and their experience helped.
Are you out at work? Not my current place of work, but have been in previous jobs.
If not, why not? I made a decision not to come out and i
n hindsight, this decision was a mistake as again, I am lying to people I like. Not sure I could tell them now.
If you’ve been outed unwillingly, who did it? It's happened, but I didn't mind - it can be useful actually.
What does being out mean to you? Not having to lie about pretty much everything.

What advice would you give someone wanting to come out? Do it as young as you can. Do it face to face if possible, but use email, letter or whatever if you have to.
If you could do it all again, would you do it any differently? If so, how? I would have come out
about age 17/18 and this would have made me far more confident, I have no doubt.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


In 2009 I posted about celebrities wrecking their looks with plastic surgery.  We have a new lead in the "league of mindless operations"... Colonel Gaddafi.  You know him; the non-democratic leader formally known as a terrorist.  I still cant quite believe that the west is giving him any respect given his past evil deeds. Anyway, enjoy this freaky image.

Dont forget - the next '5 on the fifth' is only a few days away... details HERE and you can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page HERE.  Tell your friends!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

So faro, so good

I have some great news, well for us anyway... we have booked our summer holiday!

We have spent HOURS searching for somewhere suitable, preferably without kids and somewhere 'nice'.  But where?!   The problem I had was that I would find a hotel that looked great and then looked at the Tripadvisor reviews.  Even hotels that come out with a 4.5 out of 5 still have the odd terrible personal review and that put me off!  So I now ignore such people as they are probably moaners anyway.

We also had specific dates in mind and also wanted to fly from an airport nearby if possible.  We also wanted 10 days - agreeing that sometimes a week is not enough but 2 weeks is a little too long in one place. We considered a cruise, cottage in France, Crete (which I know from experience is beautiful), Malta (never been) and Majorca, Barcelona (which I love) and many other places.  Yes, Egypt and Tunisia have some great deals (sorry, that was tasteless) - but we decided on Portugal, a place I have never been too.  Should be great.

When booking online, the cheeky holiday company add money for food on the flight and booking seats - I hate that.  So I Googled for a voucher code, found one in seconds and got £50 off the holiday (which was already discounted) and that paid for the extras.

Dont forget - the next '5 on the fifth' is only a few days away.  Details HERE and you can join the 5 on the fifth Facebook page HERE.  Tell your friends!