Sunday, 24 April 2011

2012 Olympics

I have written here before about the coming Olympics, in particular the site of the main Olympic Park which is just 3 miles from my home. The current Big News around the Games is that although there are 460 days to go until the opening ceremony there are only two days left in which to apply for tickets. Yes, the application process closes this Tuesday evening. Full details of all sports, the venues, ticket prices, and conditions are all here.

It is not any easy website to navigate, or perhaps I should say that its bound to be complex with over 40 sports, held in 33 different venues, spread over 17 days. They have been divided up into timed sessions, 650 of them, and you apply for tickets for a particular session. However, the excellent London blogger Diamond Geezer has written a page of very helpful tips about the ticketing process. I’d urge you to take a look here before you proceed.

Much press comment has focussed on the prices of the tickets – and yes, it really is £1,500 for a single top-price ticket to the closing ceremony; but there are bottom-price tickets at £20.12, and as Diamond Geezer says You barely have any chance at all of getting one. But where's the harm in applying? It won't break the bank, and if you're not successful it won't cost you a thing. Think of it as playing the lottery, with no stake up front. Somebody's got to win, and it could be you”

London's Olympic Stadium - 24th April 2011

There are some events you can watch for free: Cycle road racing and time trials, through London and out into Surrey; the two Marathons; the Road Walk; part of the Triathlon in Hyde Park. There are also plenty of sports where you can apply for tickets to some of the early rounds at just £20. If you want to see superstars such as Usain Bolt, you’ll have to pay a bit more, and accept that your chances of getting a ticket will be low. My guess is that the same will apply for the sports where Brits have a good chance of gold, and where we have our own superstars, such as in the track cycling and swimming.

As well as applying for tickets to events in the main stadium and park, I’m also planning trips to some events outside London: the rowing at Eton Dorney, Mountain Biking at Hadleigh Farm in Essex, and the Canoeing at the newly completed White Water Centre in Hertfordshire. This opened to the public for the first time this very weekend, the first Olympic venue to open.

Gold medal winners at the Beijing Olympics 2008 cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Jamie Staff

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Damp Yellow Pages

Yes, it's remarkable, Yellow Pages still exist in paper form.

This pile of 60 copies was delivered to our front door last week - and sat in the rain for two days until they were thrown in the compactor. I'm amazed that they are still produced, as most people surely find a plumber/mechanic/solicitor or whatever via Google or some other such search engine. In fact, you might even use their own search facility.

I wonder how long they will continue to convince all their small businesses and tradesmen that it is worthwhile to pay to be listed in a paper directory.

Pay your tax

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Charity advertising

Isn't it the case that the simplest advertising is so often the most effective? This certainly works really well. The Kids Company is a charity that works with young ex-offenders and disadvantaged children through inner-city schools in London. You can read more about their work here. Double-click on the photograph to see it better.

Monday, 4 April 2011


It is the 4th of April, and Ella is 9 months old. What can I say.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Oddbins RIP

I am sorry to see that Oddbins is in difficulty. It seems it is another victim of a time in which consumers have less money to spend, and when we do, we shop in different ways. Over the last few years I have done my wine buying online, with rival chain Majestic. I've been very satisfied, with a good range, sensible prices, and most importantly for me, they deliver, something Oddbins didn’t offer.

There is a nostalgic comment by Guardian wine critic Fiona Beckett today under the headline “A sparkling chain that lost its fizz”.

And there is a lovely piece here, where former Oddbins employee Phil White reflects fondly on his time with the firm: "Hic Transit Gloria: Oddbins - a love poem"