Friends, a little singing and much laughter

Writing on the train
Writing on the train

I’m back today from a whirlwind tour of three of my closest friends from National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB) days to Manchester, Wokingham and London.

On Thursday I traveled down to Manchester to see my “gr8 m8” Danny Curtis. Dan’s parents very kindly took us out for dinner in the evening: Italian. (The food, not his parents.)

On Friday morning Danny went off to work while I stayed in to watch some DVDs and get some writing done (I’m trying to write another book, you know). In the general absence of suitable-height tables in his house, I found a tallboy (chest of drawers) that was just right to be used as a standing desk. I got about 1,500 words written, which I was pleased about.

On Friday afternoon we drove to Wokingham in Berkshire to stay with Mike and Rachel Jeremiah. How wonderful to see Mike again twice in the same year — I used to live across the road from Mike in 1995 on Camberwell Road, London.

Saturday saw us catch a train into London, amongst some very well-dressed boys and girls heading to Ascot. There we were met by the Revd Jonathan Coore and his youngest son (my godson) who took us to see the parish he is now rector of. This was followed by a drink in a café at the Oxo building on the Thames and a walk back to Waterloo to meet up with another NYCGB contact, Julian, for lunch. Then it was back to Wokingham for an excellent home-made curry beneath an electrical storm.

We left Wokingham at 08:45 this morning and “Emma” (my CoPilot GPS) guided us back to the M4, A404 (trunk road not found!), M40 and M6 to allow me to catch my train from Manchester Piccadilly at 14:16.

At the station I met a friend, Patrick, from Join Me Edinburgh days which was wonderfully random.

As I’d managed to get a really cheap 1st class ticket I rather enjoyed sitting in relative luxury (well, a seat to myself and as much leg-room as I could eat) and get some more writing done, as well as tuck into a new book about how our minds are organised.

All in all, a pretty good few days filled with friends, a little singing and much laughter.

London tube map redesign

Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović
Redesigned London tube map by Jug Cerović

The London tube map first designed in the 1930s by Harry Beck was a piece of design genius. But I really like this redesign by French- Serbian architect Jug Cerović.

Ukip will be pleased, it returns the Circle line to being a circle again!

Not content with the London underground map he has also tackled maps of

While we’re on the topic of tube maps. Here’s a tube map made entirely from HTML and CSS.

NYCGB Alumni concert in London (18 January 2014)

Next weekend I’m going to be singing in a concert in London. (I’m so excited!) It will be the first official meeting of the new National Youth Choirs of Great Britain alumni choir.

The idea is to re-engage with past members of the choir (of which there are well over 1,000), to catch up with one another, make music, and also hopefully raise some money to help existing choir members.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the weekend on @exncygb.

Where: Christ Church, Spitalfields, London
When: Saturday 18 January 2014 at 5.00 pm.

If you’re going to be in London or know someone who would enjoy this informal concert the please email them this flyer: Sing Joyfully—NYCGB Alumni flyer (PDF, 1.02 MB)

Or check out more information, including details of music being sung on the NYCGB concerts and events page.

Sing Joyfully—concert of National Youth Choir of Great Britain alumni, London, 18 January 2014
Sing Joyfully—concert of National Youth Choir of Great Britain alumni, London, 18 January 2014

From London to Inverness

View from my hotel window of the City of London
The view from my hotel window in London last week.

Last week, from Sunday to Friday, I was in London on a course: PHP Programming and MySQL for Web Development with StayAhead Training.

The course was a good introduction to PHP and MySQL, and I was the only person on the course (which you’ll know already if you follow my Twitter feed). I’ll reflect more on the course in the next couple of days once I process my thoughts.

It had been my intention to blog while I was away — I even took my webcam — but the hotel didn’t offer free WiFi, which was annoying, and as it turned out I wasn’t around long enough in the evening to make the £2.00 per hour charge worthwhile, as I was catching up with some lovely friends. Many thanks to Steve and Lisa Lawson, Richard Grocock, Mike Jeremiah, Lindsey Dear and Graham Fairbairn for their company, friendship and laughter-making. I love you all!

Today, though, I’m heading off again. This time north, to the other end of the island, to Inverness to catch up with a couple of friends … before they and we have twins in the next few months.

But I’ll leave you with a photo of my favourite street sign from that London visit:

Little Britain EC1

I sent a text to a couple of friends and family to tell them that I was standing on a street called “Little Britain”. My brother ‘won’ as he was the first to reply with the simple text: “Yeah, I know!” Good man!

Yesterday

Yesterday morning I accompanied Steve and Lisa to the London Social Media Café Musicians meet-up at the St George Hotel between the BBC and All Souls on Langham Place in central London.

The café on the top floor of the (an) hotel has a splendid view of the London cityscape.  Tony Hawks (comedian, not Tony Hawk, skater) was also there, but not to participate in the SMCM meet.

It was an interesting get-together with a few folks (suffering from sleep deprevation) posting stuff on Seesmic.  I didn’t really get involved deeply in many of the conversations as I didn’t really understand either the London scene or the musicians scene in London.  But it was nice to potter on my laptop and get chatting with a couple of folks about singing.

Lunch

Around noon Lisa and I headed off to Covent Garden to meet with Mike Arthur for lunch, before wandering back via Charring Cross Road, Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street to meet up with Steve.  Who then led us down Regent Street, Carnaby Street back onto Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, Coventry Street and Leicester Square … and back to Covent Garden!

Evening

In the evening we geeked out in the kitchen, I cracked on with some CSS editing and watched The IT Crowd on 4OD before turning in for the night.

Today

Today I decamp from Steve and Lisa’s in Herne Hill to East Putney to visit our good friends Dave and Bev Meldrum.