Category Archives: travel

12 amazing reasons why In through the Outfield is back and better than ever

Neil InfieldApologies for the rather hyperbolic headline above, but according to social media experts a catchy headline is the number one way of getting visitors to your blog. And as I have been rather neglecting In through the Outfield in recent months, I think it needs a bit of a boost.

In fact according to , Alasdair Inglis from Grow, Your online content must be more like terrible journalism.

Use clever, attention catching headlines

Headlines are probably the single most important aspect of your post. You could write mind-blowing, world changing content but if you don’t write good headlines, no one’s going to click through and read them. Therefore they need to be attractive and intriguing enough to make readers check out your blog.

Here are some great tips to help create better headlines:

  • Go with numbers or numbered lists. There’s a reason why your Facebook feed is choking on articles like “11 sexist cats that look like Ryan Gosling”. Learn from sites like Buzzfeed and maybe one day your content can annoy the whole of the internet, too.
  • Use compelling, emotive adjectives. Whilst this isn’t your high school creative writing class, using more engaging words like: “amazing”, “beautiful”, “inspiring” etc will make your article sound much more interesting.
  • Make your headlines are intriguing, but not too vague. Upworthy do a great job of this, giving you just enough information to whet your appetite, whilst not giving away the payload.
  • Use keyword research. Make sure you know what the most searched terms are for what you’re writing about and make sure that they’re in your headline. If your target audience is searching for “How to write better headlines”, make sure that your blog post headline will show up on their search.

Right – now that we have got that important information out of the way, I can explain why I am back in the blogging saddle after my unplanned sabbatical. I am now commuting to work at the British Library from Eastbourne, which has extended my daily journey to over two hours each way. However this gives me plenty of time for reading, snoozing or even blogging, as I cruise through the beautiful Sussex countryside alongside the South Downs at the mercy of the Southern railway service.

Sunset over Fulking Escarpment

Sunset over Fulking Escarpment in the South Downs National Park, England (© Matt Gibson/Loop Images)

The other factor enabling me to revive my blog is of course technology. I spent many weeks researching the best computer to support my newly extended commute. I looked at getting a bigger and smarter phone than my current almost perfect Motorola Razr I (small in size, long in battery life). The new breed of smart phones are amazing, but unless you have fingers much smaller and more nimble than my clunking great ones, typing anything more than a short note is too painful. And although the recent ones have pocket-stretching sized screens, they are still too small to work on a blog post or effectively surf the web. But the real killer blow, is when you actually use any of their amazing features for more than a few minutes, their battery life disappears to almost nothing.

Next came a choice of tablets, of Apple or Android flavours. They have long battery life, bigger screens and are nice a light and compact to carry around. However, they don’t have keyboards, and as a touch-typer since my teens I can’t stand typing on a screen. It’s a bit like having to ride a moped once you have experienced a proper motorbike – there is just no going back. Admittedly you can buy a keyboard attachments, but the keys are incredibly cramped and obviously an after-thought, rather than designed-in. Also I need to run Word and Powerpoint from time to time, which meant the Microsoft Surface came closest to my rather demanding requirements. However their poor battery life put paid to that.

That left laptops, or Ultrabooks, as the small, thin and powerful ones are now known. However, when not typing or editing presentations I liked the idea of some light entertainment to help pass the time on train. And I have watched fellow commuters struggling to get a good viewing position on their laptops to watch the latest instalment of Game of Thrones. More research led to the new breed of ‘hybrid’ machines, and the appropriately named Yoga series from Lenovo.

I finally settled on the Yoga Pro 2, with its 3,200×1,800-pixel touch screen, claimed nine hour battery life, backlit full size keyboard, and flexible screen.

lenovo-laptop-convertible-yoga-2-pro-orange-front-1

I have already tested out what Lenovo call the Stand mode to view BBC shows downloaded from iPlayer. And it works really well, with the keyboard tucked behind out of the way. I’m not sure how often I would get to use the Tent mode, and I have to admit that it makes a pretty clunky tablet when folded flat. This isn’t helped by Windows 8, which still needs some work to compete with Android as a touch interface.

So there you have it, new technology combined with an something of an epically long commute (nothing compared to these hardy Scots) are the keys to getting this blog back on its feet again.

Going the whole Hog from San Diego to Las Vegas

300px-Harley-Davidson.svgAfter my ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to the top of Kilimanjaro with my son, friends asked what my next adventure would be. My reply was ‘I have no plans’.

However, the annual SLA conference in San Diego at the beginning of June provided an opportunity to revisit an adventure from my youth. Aged 18, during my gap year between school and university,  I flew to the Philadelphia, bought a Suzuki GS750 motorbike and rode over ten thousand miles around the United States and Canada. Although it was certainly a big journey, the confidence that youth brings, meant I was not in awe of the scale of the undertaking. Each morning I just got on the bike and headed on towards the next suitable camp-site for the night with my ‘one-man’ tent. It was all about the journey and encounters made on the way, rather than any particular destination.

Suzuki_1976_GS750_450

Suzuki GS750 circa 1976

Thirty five years on I decided to make sure I had the ‘right’ bike for the trip. Which meant hiring a Harley Davidson Road King for the two long days of riding from San Diego to Las Vegas and back. In my younger biker days, Harleys or Hogs as they are affectionately known to their fans, were something of a joke in the UK. They were infamous for their unreliable low power ‘agricultural’ engines, their inability to lean around even the mildest of bend without something hitting the road, or even more worrying, the ability to stop when required.

But driving through Death Valley in the heat of the day, on the Suzuki 750 all those years ago, gave me a new appreciation of the benefits of a solid slow cruiser that would run all day at 60mph with the engine ticking over a lazy pace.

I snuck away from the final session of the excellent 2013 SLA conference, and headed up to the offices of Eagle Rider located in Old Town San Diego. It was at this point the scale of the undertaking began to dawn on me. On first sight the bike was even bigger than I was expecting. Sparkling in the bright sun from its many chromed surfaces, it was simply enormous. Weighing in at 385kg and packing a 1700cc V-twin air-cooled engine it looked too heavy to hold upright, let alone ride the 450 miles to Vegas. Before the trip I had joked to friends how different this bike would be compared to my pocket rocket Kawasaki KR-1S safely tucked away in my garden shed at home.

The Road King was literally three times heavier, and seven times bigger in the engine department.

my_Kawasaki_KR-1S

Little…

my_Harley_Davidson_Road_King

… and large

And the harsh reality of this monster Harley was unnerving to say the least. This wasn’t helped by finding out that the local riders’ idea of a crash helmet barely covered the top of my head. After a somewhat cursory introduction by Andy from Eagle Rider, who does this many times a day, I was ready to hit the road.

Literally hitting the road and ending up in hospital was precisely what I sat there worrying about for a few minutes. Until Andy popped his head out of the office and asked if I was ok. My response was a falsely confident wave and a reluctant prod with my thumb on the starter button. The engine cranked into life and settled into a chug-chug burble. I stomped it into first gear and wobbled out of the parking lot into the San Diego evening rush hour.

Half an hour later I was back at my hotel dripping with sweat and cursing this unrideable dinosaur of a bike. As I struggled to park without dropping it in the street, Laura (my conference mentee) appeared from nowhere and said hello. I spent the next five minutes lambasting the bike’s failings as well as my inability to ride it properly. Her considered response was that it ‘looked cool’.
After an unsettled night and a ‘last’ breakfast with my fellow conference attending Brits, it was time to set off. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the look of trepidation in my eyes.
Setting_off

The first major challenge was filling up the tank with ‘gas’. The option to pay with cash didn’t work so I tried using my credit card. That didn’t work either, as I didn’t have the required US zip code. I popped into the kiosk to ask for help and learned that you have to pay cash in advance. After filing up, the cashier pointed the way to Interstate 8 East to take me out of town to begin my trip.

The first half-hour of riding was spent working out in my head how I would explain to my friends why I had taken the bike the straight back to Eagle Rider. The next half-hour had me contemplating a half-day riding round the beautiful windy roads of the exotically named Volcan Mountains Wilderness Preserve. Certainly the sights of birds of prey circulating above, plus what I think was a Coyote with a fresh kill in its mouth, distracted me from the challenge of getting the bike round the next tight bend in the road.

Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve

By the next half-hour I was starting to consider the possibility a slightly longer journey. And after a break for a desperately needed drink at the Miner’s Diner in tiny Julian CA, I  finally decided to keep going and see how far I could get before dark. The unexpected gift of a large piece of scrumptious home-made apple pie (shades of Twin Peaks) certainly helped cheer my mood.

butler-motorcycle-maps-logoFortunately, thanks to a suggestion at the conference by fellow librarian biker Jill Strand, I was now in possession of a Butler Motorcycle map of Southern California. This showed all the best (windiest and traffic free) roads in the area, and I used it to plot a scenic route towards Las Vegas. Early on I learned two important things about Californian roads. One, they are very poorly signposted, with an assumption you have satellite navigation, or are a local and know where you are going. I lost count of the number of times I had to stop and ask for directions. Two, when the warning sign on the approach to a corner says 10mph it means 10mph (for me on the Road King anyway). The first couple of times I used my UK tactic of adding 10mph going into the corner, and nearly didn’t make it around the bend at all. After a couple more heart-stopping moments I followed the signs advice religiously.

The scenery on the way up through Warner Springs and on to Hemet was stunningly beautiful. Alternating from wild scrubland to horse ranch prairies with exotic names such as Sycamore Canyon Stables and Paradise Valley Ranch. The next challenge was finding my way through Hemet and on to the San Bernardino National Forest. After many miles of almost deserted highways, the road gradually became urbanised and busy with traffic. Once again there were no signs other than for the individual streets I was crossing. At a set of traffic lights I asked a likely looking pick-up truck driver for help. He said ‘just keep going straight forward’, so I did. Five miles later the buildings and traffic began to lessen, and then I was back out on my own again in the wild country.

This time the road climbed up into the quaint Cherry Valley and back down into Yucaipa. It was time for more fuel before heading up into the mountains again in search of Big Bear Lake. Despite being a city of over 50,000 people, it took me ages to find a working gas station. Finally I found a shiny new one with the owner on-hand inspecting his pride and joy. Unfortunately for me I was a week too early, and I left the forecourt with his repeated refrain ringing in my ears, ‘come back next week, when we are open’.

After locating what seemed to be the only functioning gas station in town, I asked for directions again with my trusty map to hand. Sadly the woman on the till only knew the way to the nearest  interstate and nothing more. I could see where the mountains were beyond the edge of town, so headed in that direction. After a confident start the dual carriageway turned into a single highway, and then rather abruptly it ended somewhat like the photo below.

Pavement Ends

I struggled to turn the bike around and once again I searched for a likely looking local to ask for directions. This time I struck gold and was given clear instructions which worked. However, I experienced the same slightly odd phenomenon of the road gradually becoming less urban, and then quite suddenly I was out on my own again.

This time the road wound its way steeply up towards Onyx Peak at nearly 9,000 feet high. The air cooled noticeably and there was a delicious scent of mountain pine. The regular signs warning of rock-falls helped me concentrate on the road ahead though. It was around this time I became aware of the particular style of acknowledgement from other Harley riders. Back the UK about half the bike coming the other way will give a nod or a cursory wave. But in the US it is more a stretched out arm with a couple of fingers pointed. All done in the most casual style to ensure ‘coolness’ is maintained. Needless to say there is a video explaining it all in detail on YouTube.

As I wound my way down the mountain to Big Bear Lake, I wondered if the name was still pertinent. I it probably was, so decided not to stop and investigate the size of the furry inhabitants.

Next stop was the gas station in Big Bear, which had no gas, (I could see a pattern starting to  emerge). But it did have ‘rest rooms’ and desperately needed water to combat the dehydrating heat. Another tip of ‘just keep on this road’ took me out of town and up into spectacular views east towards the desert and somewhere over the horizon Las Vegas itself.

First views of the California desert looking West - - June 2013

Some more 10mph corners led down to dusty scrubland plains dotted with occasional houses. Cars were now down to less than one a mile, so I hoped the bike wouldn’t leave me stranded here, or that I would veer onto the sandy edge of the road and crash. With the sun setting in the west I cranked up the big lumpy engine and headed north towards Barstow and Interstate 15.

I reasoned I would be able to cope riding in the dark on the brightly lit motorway. This turned out to be a bit optimistic as the road wasn’t lit. But the sheer volume of traffic including great big Peterbilt and Kenworth eighteen-wheelers showed the way ahead. Once I hit the interstate I managed to work out how to get the cruise control working, and at last was able to give my right-hand some much needed rest. As by this time my fingers were starting to go numb from the engine vibrations. Much like at home in the UK, the 70mph speed limit meant 80mph in practice. And although the bike would definitely have gone faster with a quoted top speed of 110mph, I didn’t feel safe over 75 or so. This meant I was battered by a constant flow of big rigs cruising past with blasts of turbulence in their wake. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, powerful gusts of wind coming across from the desert were buffeting me. So I was in constant fear of getting blown off the bike. The bike itself remained unruffled and brushed off every eddy and gust with barely a reaction. Finally the great weight and plodding engine started to make sense.

The Mad Greek Cafe

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Famous Greeks

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I needed one more fill-up to make it to Vegas, so stopped in Baker just short of the Nevada border. Even in the dark I could see there wasn’t much to the town apart from gas stations and fast food joints. A recommendation from the petrol pump attendant sent me down to the Mad Greek which was much like the ubiquitous American burger joint, but with a Greek twist. I ordered a large coffee and ate a self-destructing burger while admiring their odd list of famous Greeks (plus honorary Greeks such as Winston Churchill), whilst contemplating my remaining 100 miles.

Powered by the coffee and with cruise control set to 70mph, I made it on to Primm, a very poor substitute for Las Vegas (smaller and tackier) just over the state border. As I piled on the miles I began to detect a glow in the distant sky, which I hoped would be the lights of my destination. Soon I could see a beam of light pointing skyward from what turned out to be the Luxor hotel. Gradually the familiar sights of Las Vegas came into view and I turned off the interstate for a cruise up and down the famous Vegas strip.

Having been down to the Stratosphere Tower and back I decided to chance my arm on getting a cheap room at the source of the beam of light which had guided me in to town. It was midnight by now, but the streets were still busy with traffic and drunken pedestrians, with a surprising number of them UK Northerners. A little gentle negotiating with the friendly receptionist from Chicago resulted in a $40 room (plus taxes of course), plus the $20 drinks voucher for spending in the hotel bars. A desperately needed shower and change had me back out on the streets by 1am, once I had used up my drinks voucher on a Mai Tai cocktail. Things were a bit quieter now with families with really quite young children in tow making their way back to their rooms.

Some of these children looked as young as eight and needless to say looked as tired as I felt. I manage to make it half-way along the strip, gawping at the bold architectural statements lining the road, each one more outrageous than the next. Despite the bright neon lights and in some cases pyrotechnics competing for my attention, it was the balletic splendour of the Bellagio Fountains that made the biggest impression. Sadly the Harley Davidson café was closed so I wasn’t able to ask about the incongruous Harley hedges growing outside. I couldn’t resist stopping to chat to a group of friendly Vegas bikers lined up next the road. We briefly compared notes on the various Harley models now that I was an ‘expert’ on the Road King after one day of riding.

Just a few yards from home I bumped into a man holding a sign (a common sight in America)  offering ten minutes of reflexology for ten dollars. As a fan of its restorative qualities I couldn’t resist, and was led to a dark and sweaty room populated by a pack of drunken northerner Brits spending their last dollars on this treat. I resisted my therapists attempts to extend my treatment in exchange for another $10, and headed back to the Luxor for some desperately needed sleep.

luxor-las-vegas

I was now starting to worry about meeting my 5pm deadline for returning the bike the following day, so left the curtains open to let the sun help wake me up. I neglected to check what time the sun rises Nevada in June so was woken at 6am by the bright morning light. I couldn’t get back to sleep properly so packed away and prepared to set off back to San Diego. First stop was the gas station across from the hotel, where I noticed a group of Volvo cars all with laptops on the front seat. As a Volvo owner myself I quizzed one of the drivers and discovered they were company men from Sweden testing out secret new features on the cars. I wondered what they thought of life on the desert roads around Las Vegas.

alien-fresh-jerky-bakerI decided the only safe way to get back in time was to stick to interstate 15 all the way across towards Los Angeles and then down to San Diego. A stop for fuel back in Baker in the heat of the early morning had me tempted by the Alien Beef Jerky store, but I had no additional room on board the bike.
Next stop was Victorville where I refuelled my body with a large coffee and small burger from local favourite fast food chain the In-N-Out Burger. A California based alternative take on the ubiquitous burger restaurant where the burgers are cooked to order, and the staff are paid more than the state minimum.

I was starting to get fed up of the persistent heat, humidity and increasing volumes of traffic on the interstate, and decided to head for what I hoped would be a cooler route along the Pacific coast. The bikers map showed a gold standard road winding over the Santa Anna Mountains to the ocean and Interstate 5 the Pacific Highway. I managed to find the turn-off despite a severe lack of signage, but soon got lost in the back streets of Perris. Once again I asked a likely looking local in a pick-up truck ‘which way to the Pacific?’ His response was (cue the hillbilly accent), ‘the Pacific? … I don’t know!’ Considering it was just twenty or thirty miles away through the hills, I was not impressed. I tried again with a younger version, and this time was pointed in the right direction with the warning that it was ‘dangerous up there in the hills’. Apart from the risk of not making it around one of the tight bends, I couldn’t see what he was worried about. But it seems many of the locals never stray far from the main highways.

However, it was slow going on this beautifully scenic and windy route up through Caspers Regional Park, and I began to worry again about missing my deadline. After more minimalist road signage, I managed to find the Pacific Highway and headed south in heavy traffic. Fortunately I was right about the temperate and revelled in the cool ocean breeze. It took thirty miles before I encountered a sign telling me how far I had left to San Diego. It was 53 miles and I had an hour and half to make it. I began to relax and allowed myself a quick stop at Aliso Creek viewpoint, which also happened to be a naval helicopter training site. So I spent five minutes being buzzed by Huey helicopters and having my photo taken.

Finally made it to the Pacific Ocean - June 2013

With just ten miles to go, I rode into the worst traffic jam I had encountered on the entire trip. The cars were trickling along at five miles an hour, and soon my stress levels were up, as I wondered if the staff would stay on and wait for me after 5pm. Just as I was starting to panic, the sign for San Diego Old Town appeared and I left the motorway jam behind me. Luckily I recognised the tram depot from my taxi ride out the previous day, so was able to quickly home in on the Eagle Rider depot where Andy was waiting for me. I looked at the clock and discovered I had arrived back with just ten minutes to spare. I think Andy was almost as surprised as me that the bike had come through unscathed. Sadly I  I couldn’t say the same about my numb wrist and badly aching bum.

I have put my photos and a couple of phone-camera videos onto my Flickr pages here: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?vps=2&hl=en&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=215151578118423657741.0004df1af06c3db2b2548

And for the geographers I have saved my routes onto Google maps:

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?vps=2&hl=en&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=215151578118423657741.0004df1af06c3db2b2548

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?vps=3&hl=en&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=215151578118423657741.0004df1b44f0aa0a3864d

Success Story – Rachel Kolsky and Go London Tours

Rachel_KolskyI have known Rachel Kolsky for many years prior to my starting here in the British Library Business & IP Centre.

So it was great to be in a position to be help with her growing business Go London Tours. As a prize-winning Blue Badge guide, Rachel certainly didn’t need any tips from me on how to give tours. However, marketing (as is so often the case) was not her strong point, so we worked on reaching a wider audience.

One of the best ways to demonstrate your expertise and passion to the world, is to publish a book. And this is just what Rachel has done, along with co-author Roslyn Rawson. Jewish London is already on its third print-run, with great reviews on Amazon. I am hoping as a consequence tourists will start flooding onto Rachel’s website and book onto her tours.

I have read Jewish London, and endorse those positive comments. It is clearly laid out with a great  many colour photos of the sights. It includes several walking tours of different parts of the city  showing off their Jewish heritage, and discovering hidden gems. Rachel’s enthusiasm shines through the text and makes you want to take a look. And I love the way she always includes suggestions for places to eat on route. In my view there is nothing worse than exploring on an empty stomach.

Kiratiana Freelon has kindly given me permission to reproduce part of an interview Rachel gave to kiratianatravels, and which appears in full in Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Multicultural London.

If you had to describe Jewish London in one sentence, what would you say?

Jewish London offers tourists, as well as residents, a wealth of experiences: cultural, religious, artistic and gastronomic.

How did you first develop your signature Jewish Tour of Brick Lane? When did you start? About how many people have you taken on the tour over the years?

My first public tour of the Jewish East End was in September 2000, the year I earned my first guiding qualification.

However, the Jewish East End remains the classic tour. You can begin at the edge of the city or you can, as I now prefer, start within the Jewish East End at Aldgate and weave your way in and around Brick Lane. That way, you uncover the stories of the Jewish community for whom this area was once their home and workplace.

The tour continues to develop as more stories come to light and my groups share their family experiences with me. What was once a street of houses is now a filled with tailors and banana ripeners, furriers and synagogue caretakers. Their memories, together with the ever changing nature of Brick Lane, is what makes this a continuing fascination for me. I never tire of leading the Jewish East End tours in Brick Lane.

Literally thousands of people, whether Londoners or tourists, whether on foot or in vehicles, have been on my tours, and here’s hoping there will be many more.

The Jewish East End was larger than many imagine, and many groups, once they have rediscovered Brick Lane, want to explore further. I have devised a series of Jewish East End tours that cover areas such as Whitechapel, Mile End, and Stepney, or specific themes such as Radicals & Revolutionaries and Women of Worth.

Why did you finally decided to write the book?

Roslyn, my co-author, and I love travelling. Wherever we are in the world, we seek out Jewish heritage, synagogues, and try and meet members of the local communities. Amazingly, there was no guidebook to Jewish London. Despite a growing interest in London’s Jewish heritage, vibrant cultural centres, literature festivals, music and dance, no guidebook existed to ensure visitors and residents have all the information they need in one easy-to-read format.

Roslyn and I volunteer at Jewish Book Week and, two years ago, after one of our shifts, she asked me if I had ever thought of writing a book based on the tours I lead around London.  Roslyn’s knowledge of the Jewish community, particularly the synagogues and food, matched my knowledge of the history of Jewish London. iI seemed that we must write the book!

The book covers both walking tours around key areas of Jewish interest, but also includes features about historic cemeteries, Jewish art and artists, important Jewish personalities such as Disraeli and the Rothschilds, areas off the beaten track, and suggested days out. Holocaust memorials are all listed, and museums and Judaica are profiled. Several sites are relatively unknown, so we hope the book will encourage greater number of visitors.

Jewish_London_cover

Will falling forward get me to the top of Kilimanjaro?

KilimanjaroWith just a few days to go before my big trip (hopefully) to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, I have been told about a revolutionary new way of walking.

Apparently all I have to do is ‘fall forward’. and I will be at the top without even realising it. This ‘new’ technique is called Chi Walking (with a Chi Running offshoot).

What I find interesting about this idea, is how even the most basic of human activities can be re-invented and turned into  a commercial product or service.

As one of the videos explains, when we are children we run by leaning forward, but by the time we are adults we have unlearned the natural way to move.

loiclemeur.com-how-do-you-like-my-new-five-fingers-shoesSo you can now buy a range of books, ‘five-finger’ shoes, or join classes to re-learn from the experts how to walk or run properly.

I am aware than many runners do get injuries from their activities, especially road running, but my scepticism is still high on whether this whole thing is some kind of Snake oil charm. Try watching this video of Master Stephen Hwa’s Tai Chi Walk Lesson, and see what you think.

However, I am prepared to try pretty much anything reasonable that might aid my path to top of the highest mountain in Africa, so will try it for a while.

Although my climb was not planned to raise money for charity (more to prove I’m not quite over the hill yet), quite a few people have asked if they can sponsor me. justgiving_logo_detailSo I have created a JustGiving page with a choice of charities to donate to if you would like to contribute.

What is Chi?
http://www.chiwalking.com/what-is-chiwalking/what-is-chi/

Master George Xu, our T’ai Chi teacher, asks us to focus on our dantien, our center and to allow all movement to  come from that place. The energy moves from the center into the body and into the  limbs to create movement. Why? Because Chi is stronger than muscles, and movement that comes from Chi is more deeply powerful.

More powerful than muscles? In the West, muscles are almost akin to a god the way we worship them and what they represent. Covers of magazines and TV commercials extol rock hard abs and buns of steel. What is stronger than rock and steel?

In T’ai Chi we quickly learn that muscles are no match for the power of Chi. Like the flow of water that created the Grand Canyon the power of Chi takes you much further and faster than vulnerable muscles whose duration is very short lived.

Your dantien is the best home for your Chi and the best place for you to focus your energy so that you can come from a balanced, whole place in yourself. Your dantien is just below your navel and a few inches in toward your spine. In Chi Running, Chi Walking and Chi Living we encourage all movement, all action, all choices to come from this center, that deep place in yourself that is home to your greatest potential and power.

The re-branding of Beachy Head

logo_beachy_headThe biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, in England’s newest National Park, came on the final day of walking.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine Ale, and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale, produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap pub, the Tiger Inn, sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement home.

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well known feature. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally a jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. Beachy Head suicide spot.

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved.

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see at Beachy Head.org.uk, it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

While there, I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. And it will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. However, given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor highlights, but, the designers have decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

Beachy Head Map 3Beach Head Map 1

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

 

Beach Head logo

 

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

 

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

 

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

 

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

 

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

 

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

 

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

 

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

 

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

Beach Head logo

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

 

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

Escape the City is one year old

Having worked for 16 years in the City of London for an investment firm, I can relate strongly to Escape the City.

I also used to manage a colleague, who left my team to successfully fulfil his dream of creating an alternative therapy business in New Zealand (Sacred Moves ~ Yoga, 5Rhythms Dance and Massage Therapies).

Escape the City was set up by Dom Jackman and Rob Symington who found their own way out and wanted to help others (our story).

We are on a mission to liberate talented people from unfulfilling corporate jobs.

We are assembling a community of corporate professionals who want to escape the corporate mainstream and do something different with their lives and their careers.

Our objective is to build and maintain a platform that connects these ambitious and talented people with exciting career changes, innovative business start-ups and epic adventures.

We know that there is more to life than doing work that doesn’t matter to you. We want to help people to find ways of spending their working lives doing exciting and fulfilling work.

Escape the City is now a year old and has 26,550  subscribers to their weekly escape opportunities email, and over 4,500 followers on Facebook.

Below is a clip from their new video with my favourite escape story.

EscapetheCity

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Londoners pedaling into a greener future

Thanks to yet another failed journey into work, courtesy of my First Capital Connect Thameslink ‘service’, I ended up walking from Holborn to The British Library this morning (Severe delays on First Capital Connect’s Thameslink route).

This the first time I have walked this route (along the delightful Lamb’s Conduit Street) for a year or so. Immediately I was struck by the number of bicycles parked along the pavement attached to a variety of secure street furniture, including of course Anthony Lau’s Cyclehoops. Even more impressive was the number and variety of bikes on the road. As well as the range of cyclists. I saw young men on speedy racing bikes and retired folk on the amazing Brompton folding bikes.

And all this before the rather delayed‎ introduction of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme for London. I wonder if Londoners will take to the idea with the same enthusiasm as the Parisians who love their Vélib’ scheme.

Airport Havens for frequent flyers

AirportHavens_logoAs a regular traveller to the United States I often spend many hours waiting for connecting flights at hub airports. My record to date was seven hours in Huston.

But now thanks to Springwise I have discovered AiportHavens, where I can find (thanks to fellow travellers) a nice quiet spot for a some work, a read or even a nap, away from the hustle and bustle.

However, it may not quite be up to the standard required for setting up permanent residence as exemplified by Mehran Karimi Nasseri an Iranian refugee, who lived in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport from 8 August 1988 until July 2006. Merhan Karimi Nasseri at Charles de Gaulle airport, France, since 1988.

AirportHavens