Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jazz on a Winter's Night

Got this fantastic little book from Foyle's . Wanted something Jazz-related and also wanted a book on Christmas tunes. So instead of spending more on both , bought this one which was well worth its £10.95.

Since getting this piano, have been playing the same old boring tunes so thought this would be a good way to get back into the groove for the season. Difficulty from Grade 5 and above - not too simple and not too hard as well (though if you're not used to syncopations and chromatics, its quite tricky for mediocre sight-reading skills like mine) so the accompanying CD is a real help (and a bargain as well considering the price) The quality of the arrangement is top class - apparently Nikki Iles is an educationist, academic, as well as a performer.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Last trip before the year ends. Thanks to Rina for organizing this - her invite was a booster to launch my lazy ass out of the country. Budapest was one of my 'unexplored items checklist' and knowing myself, I'd never make it a trip on my own. So here I am sitting in Terminal 1 waiting for my flight out with my salami baguette and bottle of water which costs me 4 Euro - still cheap by other airport standards. Hungary was like that - cheap and cheerful. The apartment was unbelievabl at 11 pounds a night - plasma tv, bathroom, kitchenette anda all.

The highlight of the trip was the baths - had a relaxing soak in Szechenyi baths not far from the city centre . Yesterday night, I had a grand reunion with my former Hungarian housemates, Szilvia and Zoltan who brought us out on an express tour of Budapest and even tried to pay for our meal. The Hungarians in general are very polite and willing to help you if you ask and Szilvia and Zoltan are the epitome of this. Thank you Szilvie and Zolie for your kind hospitality!

With map in hand, we had our own random walking tour even though the skies were gray - walking along the banks of the Danube (Duna) river, Budapest's past glory and grandeur is still evident - the great Royal Palace overlooking the banks, the majestic Parliament Building opposite, the boulevard avenue leading to Herosz (Hero's square). This is a quiet city with wide pavements and roads - wondered if it was because of the weekend and everyone was home or it just me too used to London's manic rush. Most of the shops especially the side streets were closed.

Anyway my salami is almost finished now and I've got 1 h 45 mins before my flight departs. Time to finish my book......

I lost my darn book! On the transit bus before boarding the flight

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Third Space

Awhile ago Lena invited me to The Third Space for a triathlon match. I'd wondered why a gym would be called 'The Third Space' (?) but apparently it's a term not related to outer space but one that's so popular its been coined by some business and coffeeshops.

The First Place - our home

The 2nd Place - our work

The 3rd Place - places we go to find our sense of self

I guess the idea is to categorize the 3 places that we spend most of our time in - and I guess if that's it, then my 3rd space would be the gym.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

London Jazz Festival 2011

Thank God I live in London - where Jazz music is still loved and great musicians still come to play.

Went to see McCoy Tyner, jazz piano man of the legendary John Coltrane Quartet. A 73-year old elderly gentleman who walked real slow to the piano, sat down real slow and spoke really soft. But when he started playing, wow, it was rip-roaring trippin and the Barbican hall was under a spell. The other masters driving us on this ride were Gerald Cannon bass; Eric Kamau Gravatt's replacement (?) drums, Chris Potter saxophone and Jose James vocals.

Starting to appreciate jazz which if imagine myself playing would be like a runner holding hands with other runners in a circle and trying to run forward. Feels like you have to keep going forward and try hard not to trip and if you do, everyone else trips or pick you up while you're down.

Also enjoyed the 7 man Oliver Nelson band opener, Blues and The Abstract Truth ( James Pearson piano; Sam Burgess bass; Byron Wallen trumpet; Nathaniel Facey, Alex Garnett, Jean Toussaint saxophone; Shane Forbes drums)

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Harvest

This was some while ago when the tomatoes ripened on the vines and other edible miscellany popped out from the window-sill garden.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Autumn Runs 2011

Last couple of runs this year:

Blenheim Palace Run - 2nd of October 2011

Lovely 21km course which got a bit hilly mid-course and towards the end. Joined Noris, Alden and Rina for this one. I was a bit rubbish as I haven't run in ages (2:27:59) This was 17 mins more than my last half marathon a year ago. The weather was strangely warm for October which helped to prevent any muscular cramping and injury. Had a walk-around the ancestral home of Winston Churchill post-run which was nice.

Royal Parks Half Marathon 2011 on the 9th October 2011

This is my 2nd attempt at the Royal Parks. The Royal Parks is known for its great organization and atmosphere and as I'd enjoyed myself so much last year, I signed-up again this year. The organizers have implemented a ballot for the first time due to the overwhelming response previous years. Fantastic t-shirt again (bright lime-green charcoal shirt) which was a plus. The bag-drop was slow again as last years but Khoi and I weren't fussed and started later than the 10am gun time. Was faster this week (compared to Blenheim) at 2:20:26 but still slower than last year's (2:09:47). Last of the runs this year.

Farewell Topnotch

Had a surprise the other day when Karlos(spin instructor) asked me which gym I'd be going to next to which my response was 'eh?' Apparently the gym was closing down in 3 weeks due to Network Rail terminating the lease which I had no idea of because the letter was sent to my old address. Was a bit clueless as to where I'd be going next as I've been with Topnotch for 3 years now - being the first gym I've joined in London because of the Shard project which was just down the road.

Have to admit it's not perfect but the price was reasonable for its facilities (48pm)- classes, spin room, DJ-disco exercise room, weights, sauna, swimming pool. Lately I've significantly reduced my gym frequency routine in a week (2x max) due to work being far away and home not a walking distance either. However I've grown accustomed to the people i.e. gym members and instructors who know me by name and face.

For the track record in 3 years, they've cancelled a couple of classes without notice and didn't open at 6.30 am once(because Adam, one of the staff overslept). Looking back at it, these occurences out of a 365 x 3 day record didn't seem so bad. The manager doesn't respond to emails though.

The spin, bodypump and bodycombat class instructors are good and I've never found their classes boring due to the fact that they are fitness practitioners who genuinely like what they do and transmit that energy in the class. I've gone through 2 of them being pregnant and instructing throughout their pregnancy.

So it was pretty nostalgic to do the classes one last time with the same people and instructors which you've done for the last 3 years. A feeling not unlike leaving school and saying goodbye to your friends and teachers for the last time.