Sunday, 16 August 2009

Paris - Worth A Revisit

If you're planning a short break in Paris...then take plenty of cash. Rule of thumb might be to work out what you would consider reasonable spend for your type of break, and then double it.

Costs aside, it is undoubtedly a 'must go' location. A mature city beautifully enriched with culture, history, architecture, wines and a strangely attractive and stylish je ne sais quoi ...esprit de la vie, je pense?!

It helps that the 'natives' are generally friendly and respond positively to sincere attempts by invading foreigners to speak the local tongue (no matter how badly). Be a cosmopolitan city you'll find residents do speak English to varying degree of competency, so a hybrid French/English vocab can get you a long way.

Don't expecting good French cuisines at every corner. I've found really good french meals very hard to find in Paris and prices are steep. If your pallet is not too 'silver spooned' you can enjoy a sprawl of the usual Chinese, Mexican or Italian menus and US style grill houses. Regrettably you'll also find a certain well known fast food burger chain has has a foot hold at every main location. For a touch of high class cuisine in an relaxed setting you might consider the former mill and guinguette, now a restaurant - Moulin de la Galette situated to the rear of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre (phot0 top above)

I've visited Paris at least twice before and still find interest in walking along, if not necessarily exploring, the usual city land marks and museums, for example Tour Eiffel, La Louvre, Arc De Triomphe, the Seine and Arc De La Defense; to mention but a few. There are numerous lesser known but equally fascinating points of interest to take in around the city if you wish to avoid teaming crowds.
Getting around is a 'piece of cake'. Paris has an efficient train (RER) and bus service. As a tourist its probably best to purchase one of the travel pass options covering your stay. The pass is cost and time saving and work on most transport routes within Paris.
This year we happened to visit during the start of their annual music festival, and were greeted with free live music of various forms ringing out from similarly themed bars and restaurants around the city.

We'll definitely pay Paris a short visit at the same time next year, perhaps for a short weekend to include a show at the Moulin Rouge and a meal at Moulin de la Galette. After which, its unlikely 'Mr plastic' could take much more.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Michael Buble...Not Just Another Crooner

I am glad I attended Michael Bulbe's concert at London's O2 Arena, accompanied by my 'main squeeze' Marie (not that I'm fortunate to have a minor squeeze!).

In truth I have been a quiet admirer of the 'Buble' for about a year. Owning a couple of his CDs I have developed an appreciation for his jazz vocals.
Of course he's also blessed with good looks, youth, style and fortune (the shit!!); but is that enough to give him all round appeal as an artist?

Even the crooner was quick to jibe that judging from the gender of his fan base, the males in the audience may have come along under duress.
So if you are turned off by 'easy listening jazz chic music' why do I still think Michael Bulbe, is a simply a must see live performer?
It could be his deceptively relaxed style? or his exceptionally talented band?. Then again, the set design and lighting displays were so fantastic, its worth seeing first hand.
While all of these aided in making the 24th July show a memorable event; Buble's personal multi-facet characteristics really stole the show.
On stage that night was not just Buble the singer, but also Buble the comic, the mischievous cheeky boy, the soft-hearted people person, the lad and the playfully foul mouthed, all rolled into one.

More importantly you got the sense this was not an act. As if in response to a call be a well known rapper, this was the "real Michael Buble standing up!". And so he was able to connect with every member of the audience, whether young, old, male or female.
Whatever the preferred musical pallet, we were taken willingly on the lyrical journey from old standards to modern ballads. There was simply nothing else to do but relax and enjoy the ride. It's these unique qualities that makes Michael Bulbe not just another good jazz vocalist, but also a great entertainer.

It's Not Real Life Sim...But It's An Enjoyable Likeness

As a mature man I probably shouldn't publicly admit getting kicks from this newly acquired game. However, I've been laughing at myself all afternoon so I thought I'd share..

Let me start by saying I usually go for the more cerebral strategies simulation games for example Flight Simulators, Civilisation and sport games are my preferences. So 'Sims 2' was a lighthearted departure from my norm.

After using the easy tutorial to familiarise myself with equally easy controls, I created a character based loosely on me. Sad I know, but I'm sure I'm not the only gamer to fantasize in this I?!. Next I set it up in a nice home. Spent most of it's start-up cash on home improvements, furnishing and other comforts and secured it a job in the medical profession, a stark contrast from my retial management profession, but I felt it was the best career choice available to my Sim at that stage of the game.

That was the easy every moment of my Sims' life had to be controlled. Like a film director I spent hours instructing the Sim on every action; such as when and what to eat, wash, what to wear, visit the 'loo', watch TV, listen to music, when who and how to entertain, get dressed, go to work, read the paper, study, exercises, pay bills, when to go to bed or get up, who to interact with and what type of things to say. All in an attempt to develop my Sim's happiness, health, wealth, and relationships.

So how did I do in the end?...well to cut a long story short, My Sim married the girl, eventually, and when I finally figured how to get them 'at it like rabbits', she died?!. Now I wish I could claim the love making was just so good. However, as the 'angel of death appeared on screen to take her corpse away, I studied her vitals and noted I was so intent (and honestly amused) on the prospect of the two Sims 'making out' (not just once but twice); that I hadn't realised the poor girl was starving to death!!.

Bet the girls are thinking "..that's just so typical of a guy"

Needless to say both my Sim and I are devastated. But that's the great thing about computer games...its only a simulation, so unlike real life, you always get an opportunity to do better next time.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A evening with George Benson

The date was Wednesday 2nd July 2008. The location - Royal Albert Hall, London; and the occasion - only the long awaited nostalgic concert of one of my early jazz heroes George Benson.

I had purchased two tickets for my girlfriend and I to see the show. Unfortunately Marie was caught in a car accident a few weeks before so I had the company of one of her work colleagues instead (Also a fan).

For about 2 hours he treated the audience to his familiar feet tapping disco, pop, jazz and ballad numbers, some more recent, and others anthems hailing as far back as the 70s (yes I'm old enough to remember that era). Old favourites included "Give Me The Night", "Turn Your Love Around", "In Your Eyes", "The Masquerade" and "Lady Love Me" to mention but a few.

The atmosphere in the theatre was electric. You had to stand up in order to see over the heads of people in front dancing on the spot, clapping hands, whooping or singing along to the music. Supported by a quintet backing group of successful soloist, which included Stanley Banks from GBs original 1976 Breezin Album.

It was truly an excellent show, a brilliant reminder of why many consider him to be the father of main stream popular jazz.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Dwain Chambers Out of the Olympics

There's quite a lot of media coverage on Dwain Chambers battle to get his BOA Olympic ban overturned. However I can not bring myself to feel empathy for his situation.

Here is a man, who has admitted to taking a cocktail of performance enhancing drugs. He did this knowing the potential risks but obviously felt at the time the benefits were greater and the risk of being caught low. He was wrong on both counts!
While we may debate the fairness or not of a 'life ban', it can not be denied that all UK sports professionals sign up to and work under the same bye law. To cry "injustice" now seems as though Mr Chambers is attempting to have the 'best of both worlds'. Another idiom that comes to mind is 'you reap what you sow'.

Friday, 18 July 2008

The New Commitment

So...It's Friday 18th July and months since I registered with Google Blogger, but what the hell have I done with it?!. That's a rhetorical questions since its plain to see the answer is "not much".

But today I'm making a new commitment, something I can manage and build upon over time. That commitment is to post at least one blog each week for the next 3 months. That's right, by the end of October there will be at least 12 of my hopefully mildly interest, sometimes radical and occasionally dry witted cogitations. God help you !!.

Favourite Artists

Unusual Weather

Unusual Weather
Could it be the hands of god??

Li Wei Photographic Illusions

Li Wei Photographic Illusions
Thank you for flying with EasyJet...

Hugh Masekela In Concert

Hugh Masekela In Concert
Barbican, London, Sat 19 May 2007