Sunday, 30 January 2011

Of Flights Home and All that Jazz

It's been a really eclectic weekend. I spent a good part of yesterday at a James Caan seminar. I like this guy a lot. He's sincere, passionate and speaks an awful lot of sense. He came across just as dapper as he is on Dragon's Den and a little more camp.

I spent yesterday evening in the intimate surroundings of Ronnie Scott's jazz cafe in Soho in the company of Carleen Andersen. I've never heard such a fine pair of lungs on such a small woman. Wow could she sing. I've not enjoyed a London night out so much in a long time.

I struggled to make it out my bed this morning at 6.30a.m. to get to Heathrow in time for the flight. I managed it early (of course) only to find my flight has been delayed by an hour.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Of Hurray n Hurrah

The Story So Far

Hurray! Hurrah! We went to the Centre of Competitiveness Awards Night last night in Belfast and came away with another trophy. The European Mark of Excellence. Well done the Islanders say I!

We've been lucky enough never to go to an awards evening and come away with nothing and I could see the team as they left thinking "What's Next?"

So what is next? I guess a load of hard work as we enter GB, develop our training centre, improve on our software, our networking and, how shall I say, our office environment and surroundings.

Onwards Islanders!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Of Crimewatch & Baywatch

I curled up on the sofa last night to watch Crimewatch. Accidentally, my hand fell upon the open box of chocolates that I had forgotten to give to the cleaner for Christmas. Naturally, I had to have one, then another and a few after that. To my horror I thought I had finished the box only to discover another layer of chocolates below. I promised myself I could have one or two from there if I swam an extra 10 lengths in the pool this morning as a penance.

I did manage a full 30 lengths today but boy was it boring. I was racing the lady in the lane next to me just to distract me from the monotony. She reminds me of someone I once saw on TV possibly even Baywatch but I can't just place whom. She was holding her own doing breast stroke to my front crawl. She has a very unusual style. She seems to kick from the hips so it's less like a frog but a mermaid kicking. She seems to glide through the water much better than I do. Probably something to do with a lot more training and most importantly of all, no chocolate.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Of random thoughts

I'm a lucky hoofer. I've a great team at Legal-Island at the moment - best there's ever been. We work hard. We play hard. We network. We question. We support each other. We're committed. We're driven and I'm a lucky hoofer.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Of Half a Half Day Event

I was up at the crack of dawn today to get into Belfast in time to chair a breakfast seminar at 8a.m. I thought no-one would show up on account of the early start and the pouring rain but I was wrong 50 times over...

The seminar topic was "Workplace Mediation in Northern Ireland". In the audience was a number of nervous looking lawyers concerned no doubt that the popularisation of mediation could damage their income. But there were other lawyers there too no doubt excited by the idea that mediation could in present no opportunities for them and new business. Is the glass half full or half empty I wondered?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Of Nature's Best and Worst

I head into the week off a mixed weekend. On Saturday night I went to see "I, Elizabeth". This was one and a half hours of one person throwing out line after line. The actress was good but the script was just not entertaining enough for me, my friend and at a guess just about everyone else in the audience.

Yesterday I headed out to the North Antrim Coast and walked along some of the Ulster Way with a couple of friends. The scenery was staggeringly beautiful. We joked that we'd go looking for some brunch and bad service in the local hotel afterwards. We did and we found both. It made me so cross while my friends found it highly amusing. Why is it that the only thing reliable about service to the public nowadays is that it is likely to be plain rude?

More cheering was the sight of a school of dolphins racing along the coast line as we drove back to Belfast. Give me a sea based mammal in preference to a land one any day.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Of Home and at the Office

Morning Metzingen! It seems Brazil and New Zealand are in the mix too now according to Google Analytics not to mention old faithfuls in Warrington and London. It makes me ask am I blogging for myself or for others? Can I use local English, British English or only International?

I woke late this morning to a very misty day outside. It's really cold too. Nature is dressed in a gentle silver white and looks beautiful especially from my lounge balcony.

It doesn't look quite as good as from my office desk but hey ho that's the price you pay for having to work all day....

Friday, 21 January 2011

Of Remote Memories

It's all going very high tech in my house at the moment. I can now listen to pretty much anything I want at any time in any part of the house - and that's without having the Internet at home.

Yesterday's latest addition to the household technical toys was a docking station for my Iphone with accompanying amplifier and speakers. This means that whatever I've downloaded onto my Iphone I can now blast out anytime I choose at home. I have ear pieces for my Iphone too which means that I can listen to it even when sharing space with others (the train for example). I have a gadget in the car which means I can fire the Iphone output through the car speakers and it behaves like its a car radio.

The docking station came with its own remote control. This means I now have 6 remote controls about the house but can usually never find the one I really need.

When my gran had her first colour TV (sometime in the 70s I guess) I remember her saying that the the rental company, Granada, asked her if she wanted a remote control with it. She refused emphatically commenting that "If she couldn't be bothered to get off her chair to turn over the T.V channel then she shouldn't be watching T.V"! She spoke a lot of sense my gran. Sometimes.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Of Hard Soap and Hard Lives

It must have been cold last night. The liquid soap in my swimming kit bag I keep in the car had frozen over.
It was bunged in the pool today. I did my statutory 30 lengths then hopped out as quickly as I could.

I can't bear it when you have to dodge other bathers while swimming up and down - as if life isn't hard enough at 7.15 in the morning!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Of Blogging and Blagging about Names

Somebody logged in from the Ivory Coast yesterday to read my blog according to Google analytics. The country is currently paralysed and on the precipis of civil war so I can't but help wonder why anyone has the time to read a blog about a bloke in Antrim trying to make an honest crust. May be it was a Brit in the embassy out there twiddling his thumbs on the Internet whilst awaiting the order to evacuate.

On the subject of far off places I note that Baby Doc Duvalier who landed in Hiaiti last week to save his old country has been arrested and faces charges of embezzlement from when he ruled the place all those years ago. The reports are that he robbed the state coffers of millions if not billions of dollars. This is before you consider his record on human rights atrocities. Give him life say I less a few years for having a name that any president would relish. It even gives "Goodluck Jonathan" in Nigeria a run for his (stolen) money...

Monday, 17 January 2011

Of Rugby Rantings

I've just started reading Clive Woodward's book "Winning" about how he led England to victory in the rugby world cup. It looks promising.

I hated rugby at school. I could never see the point in getting bruised crunched and sometimes punched for the sake of moving a leather bag of air from one end of a bit of grass to the other. Everyone else seemed to get it though. Every time the ball came to me I would kick it as far away from me as possible. Mr Lewis the PE teacher would then bellow at me "Phillips I thought I told you not to kick away the ball all the time?!" "Sorry Sir" I'd reply "I clean forgot again". He'd then bark looking straight at me "Ok scrum down and Phillips you're in at No.8" He was a vindictive little man Mr Lewis...

Of Shipping Your Thoughts

I fell asleep last night listening to the shipping forecast. This was not be design. I had been actively listening to the programme before it which, if I remember rightly, was about the voting in London for the new state of South Sudan when I began to head towards slumber.

There's something rather comforting about listening to a forecast of "Malin Head gale force 10 -Rockall severe weather warning". As you imagine icy waves crashing over the bows of all those fisherman and other poor crittas who have to make a living out of the sea you curl up under your lovely warm duvet by a radiator that will go off when you are asleep and back on an hour before you wake. It's difficult to think that you haven't got life good, possibly really good and you should be grateful for your lot.

Strange what a radio broadcast can mean and to whom. Innit?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Of The Kings Speech

Metzingen Hey?

I went to see The King's Speech last night. It's a great film and portrays so well just how terrifying it must be for people who stutter (and even those who don't but just fear public speaking) to have to speak in front of large audiences.

For poor Kind George IV it must have been especially bad. Radio had just been invented (but broadcasts had to be live) . The war had started and Britain needed a great authority figure and he was on the throne alongside Churchill a master of radio communication and speeches. Bummer Kind George...

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Of funny things going on in the strangest of places

I met a guy in a pub last night. Not by chance. It was pre-arranged. The guy is an inventor. Not the type that you expect to find in a garden shed shortly before there's a huge explosion but an electronics engineer who really knows his stuff.

We met in Lily Johnstons a pub in the middle of Glenavy, NI which is in the middle of nowhere.
He was sat in a darkened corner of the pub. With his quaffed hair and his dark three piece suit he reminded me a little of a character from the Victorian era - perhaps even a distant relative of the Artful Dodger himself. But there was clearly nothing dodgy about this man at all. I found him to be gentle, trustworthy, articulate, highly intelligent and altogether great company.

What I liked most about this man is his approach to life. He genuinely appears to see challenges not obstacles or problems and these motivate him. I don't think I've ever met anyone with such an ability to see solutions so clearly and easily and articulate them so well.

Two stiff soft drinks between us later we parted company with us both saying we were working over the weekend and would continue to work on the idea that now seems to have gripped us both.

Game on boys....?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Of Excuses on the Loose

I shifted some furniture into my house yesterday - or rather a work colleague did. I now have a second sofa in the upstair's lounge and awful lot of gym equipment on the top floor of the house. I've decided to do a bit of gym work at home some mornings now for the local swimming pool is bunged with swimmers even by 7.30a.m.. These are the people who have taken a new year's resolution to get fit. Give it a couple of weeks and they'll be gone I'm sure.

I tried the cross trainer this morning but it was loud and I'm worried my early morning burst of activity to pump-me-up music like "Eye of the Tiger" by Foreigner will wake next door's "wanes". Their Mum has already been on to me about leaving the radio on too loud when I shoot to work early in the morning.

Maybe the solution is to jog to work in the morning listening to music on my iPhone or even the odd radio programme I can now download from the Beeb's website. It'll get me fresh air before work as I run alongside the river and through the woods. I'll be there in double quick time for apparently there's an errant Rottweiler on the loose.

Maybe it just makes more sense to stay in bed the extra hour. Think I might try it...

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Of Mysteries or Should that be Geheimnisse?

According to Google Analytics I have a follower in Nurtingen Germany. Not a casual one off follower (would "Zufallsbekanntschaft" be the right word for such a person? May be, but my German's far too long gone to be sure) but someone who has everyday this year logged in to see what's going on in the world of Barry Phillips online. The thing is I don't know anyone in Southern Germany and I've no friends on holiday there that I'm aware off. I've never visited Nurtingen. Not in my current life form that it is. It's all delightfully curious.
I wonder if the aforementioned person will help me with my curiosity by introducing themselves to me at ? Gehen Sie auf Sie wissen, dass Sie

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Of Home Made Excuses

Last night I had a go at recipe 1 (page 1) of "1,000 Vegetarian Recipes" asparagus soup. I would like to say to it was a resounding success but this would only be partly true.

A willing, brave and game friend volunteered to come round to test it. Shortly before serving it was clear it hadn't quite worked out. The soup hadn't thickened. Said volunteer politely suggested that this was because the flour/butter ratio wasn't quite right. I insisted it was more to do with very unclear recipe instructions.

We decided to change the name of the soup from asparagus to rustic asparagus and onion and had a hit on our hands. Here's to game and creative friends....

Monday, 10 January 2011

Of Grinning Carnivores

I had a great weekend. Friday night cinema. Saturday night dinner with friends. Sunday walking in the Mournes. The whole lot inter-dispersed with a good deal of work in the office and a good deal of DIY at home. Cracking!
My Saturday night friends Fiona and Richard are great hosts and always make me laugh. The latter usually has a few drinks, or "sharpners" as he calls them and a cheeky grin promptly appears that stays no doubt until cancelled out by a hangover the following day. With the grin cometh the gags and usually the poking fun at guests - often me for being a Vegetarian...It's an odd friendship him a huntsman and me an ex saboteur but we always manage to laugh off our differences like it doesn't really matter because I suppose it doesn't.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Of Missing the Full Picture

I went to see 126 hours last night. It was great but gruesome. I've never attended a film in which so people left part way through. I guess some people hadn't realised that they would have to sit through an amateur self amputation performed without anaesthetic with a pen knife. Read the reviews why don't you.

Afterwards I discussed with my cinema partner what we would have done in Aron's situation. We mused what we might have done if we had each got our arm stuck in the same rock. I said the usual gentlemen rule of "Ladies first" would have to apply so she'd have to cut her arm off first and then she could go for help. But I did add that as a true gentlemen I'd offer to cut it off for her. I think she felt that idea needed more work...

When I got home I watched the news for a bit of something more cheerful to take to sleep with me. I found it. English cricket fans - over the moon at their victory over the Aussies. Many were declaring this week to be the greatest of their lives - including one guy standing there in front of his family (suggesting, I summised, that it topped his wedding and birth of two kids...) Excuse me but isn't all that has happened here that one nation (that, incidentally, invented cricket) has beaten just one other team representing a country with a population almost three times smaller than England's over one test match. Or am I missing something?

Friday, 7 January 2011

Of friends in high places

Why are people so cruel to me? And friends too? Just when I was getting over my post holiday blues a mucker from Warrington sends me a load of photos from the holiday. And now I have to get over the holiday all over again!

I came into work Monday of this having devised a very specific formula to get over the post holiday blues. It is :

* Keep yourself really busy - avail of this duty by doing lots of fiddly DIY jobs you should have done ages ago
* Listen to The Jam's "Going Underground" in the car going to work to really pump up your mood
* Think of a friend or just someone you know or who you've heard of who has not been so lucky recently and tell yourself you've no right to feel miserable just because a good time is no longer continuing for you.
* Return home from work in the car listening to Squeeze's "Up the junction" for a happy tune about a person really down on his luck

Come on pump it up!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Of raining cats and dogs

My neighbour ventured out last night in the rain to come round with a confession. She told me, rather guiltily, that when I was away not only did she give plumbers access to my house to fix my burst pipes but she also availed of the opportunity to access my bin outside and deposit in it her dead cat. We both giggled. This was the same dead cat that was smelling a little in the boot of her car as she drove me to the airport the week before. She explained that she was waiting for the ground to thaw so she could bury it. She didn't explain why it went in my bin and not hers. I suppose she felt she had to take her off somewhere rather than end up in with the mix of Christmas wrapping paper and left overs.

I watched her depart up the road with her dog Isla. Isla is herself getting on a bit and I couldn't help but wonder whose bin she was destined for.

Funny folks my neighbours.....

Of Holding Tight & Here We Go

It's our first day back today after a really long break. It'll will be great to see everyone but there's so much to get on with that I think we'll hardly have time to wish each other Happy New Year before we all have to sit down to the porridge.

On the agenda this week we have a brain storming today objective settings Thursday before performance reviews next week with lots of one-to-one meetings sprinkled in between.

Why can't we ever do graduallllly in this company. I guess we never will. Hold tight here we go..

Monday, 3 January 2011

Of 2hours and 127 days

It seems I've done something in the last week that I don't normally do and wonder why others do it and some religiously. That's read a book of a film that everyone is going to see. I can never see the point in taking several hours to read a book when you've just seen the film in two. Granted, the book and the film may not be the same but you know how the story starts and finishes and a good bit of the in between too. So why bother?
In my defence I read "127 days - between a rock and a hard place" before I went to see the film. In fact, I've still to see the film. It's released on Wednesday and a friend of mine and I have already arranged to go and see it. It's about a guy who goes climbing in the Grand Canyon in the USA and gets his arm stuck underneath a bolder. After much struggling he realises the only way out is to cut his arm off. It's a superb read this book and it's full of great learning points. What I enjoyed from it most however was a quote not from the author, Aron Ralston but one lifted directly from Mark Twight. It reads as follows :

"Eventually I sickened of people, myself included, who didn't think enough of themselves to make something of themselves - people who did only what they had to do and never what they could have done. I learned from them the infected loneliness that comes at the end of every misspent day. I knew I could do better".

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Of New Year New Resolutions

Hah! So 2nd of January and time to declare a few New Year's Resolution. For 2011 these are as follows :

* Exercise more - at least 4 times a week
* Learn to cook 12 dishes of a standard they will do for entertaining
* Read 12 books in the year each one completely different from the last (NB last year I read 12 business related books and I feel hung out to dry from all the business advice)
* Drop in at least one really good holiday for 2011
* Continue to decorate/improve the house
* Learn some Spanish for when my friends from Venezuela visit in April
* Take myself off somewhere nice every Sunday, hiking etc.
* Surround myself by positive people
* Continue my memory training : beat my PB of 3 minutes 30 seconds
* Make better use of technology and time between meetings and travelling etc