Monday, 31 December 2007

A Seriously Cool Phone

Barley is using the iPhone to watch Sydney's New Year's fireworks on the internet.....

The iPhone is truly astonishing! It's probably the most sophisticated piece of electronic kit ever made. Not only is it slim, sleek and gorgeous to look at, but it handles perfectly and has the most amazing bright and clear touch-screen. Innovative touches abound, such as all one's SMS conversations with any individual being shown colour-coded on a single screen, with a similar scrolling screen for voice-mail messages. It makes my now defunct N95 seem like a stone-age tool, apart from the slightly slower-speed 2G internet, acquired as the result of lower US internet technology standards.

It was a cinch to set up and was working within 15 minutes of getting it out of the box (which was itself delivered the morning after being ordered from the Apple website). It syncs seamlessly with Outlook and one's contacts are shown in full, not in a cut-down version as in the N95. It's a revelation - and I'm sure I have only discovered half of what it can do!

Favourite Arias

Inessa Galante singing the Caccini Ave Maria.

Click on the heading to hear a recording taken with my camera from the new Phillips Home Theatre system

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas in Seville

Those from northern climes take great joy from seeing the sun in winter: Sevilla is beautiful, with skies as bright as Australia and laden orange trees lining every street. The hotel is a wonderful old relic, once the finest in Spain and now a 'Westin'. Superbly ornate public areas and spacious bedrooms and bathrooms but the poor waiters now bring you 'American coffee' when you ask for 'cafĂ© con leche' and there's a Starbucks right outside the gates (and two more within 200 yards of the cathedral…..).

The cathedral's a magnificent Gothic creation which started life as a mosque like Agia Sofia; the largest cathedral in Christendom (note that St Peter's is a 'basilica'), so huge that 'Notre Dame could walk the nave with her head bowed'. The reredos is the largest of any in the world. Nevertheless, midnight mass on Christmas Eve was a disappointment - too many priests and too few carols.

We spent many hours walking the city and gardens and loved the Alcazar Palace (thanks, Ian) of King Pedro the Cruel and his mistress Maria de Padilla who built it in the 1360's.

We didn't spot a single Don Juan aspirant despite expecting to defend Kei's honour… and couldn't stomach a bullfight and had Japanese food on Christmas Day to avoid a nine-course spread in the hotel. There is a separately owned Japanese restaurant - Kaede - in the hotel garden beside the swimming pool - a nice touch. Another welcome idea was a Martini-themed pavilion on the terrace outside the bar in which smoking was allowed and where 'le tout Sevilla' gatherered for tea and drinks in the afternoons. There we had the best Manhattans we had ever tasted and proper 'pan con tomate' - toasted bread rubbed with tomato.

Click on the heading to see what the girls descended to on Christmas Day...

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The London Eye

The London Eye, the old GLC Building, Westminster Bridge and St Thomas' - near to sunset on a clear winter's evening

Seeing this reminded me of trips on the Eye.

London Eye

Click the heading to see more photos of the Eye

Saturday, 8 December 2007

The Highway Code in 100 Words

Drive on the left. Make sure you can see and be seen. Keep a constant look out all around. Be aware of signs and regulations and why they are there. Be predictable. Recognise and anticipate danger and keep clear space from it. Always ensure that you can stop within the distance that you know is clear. Develop your skills. Give courtesy, co-operation and space to others. Don’t obstruct them. Never take risks, drive unfit or compete with others. Safety is paramount and far more important than priority. Take personal responsibility for your safety and the safety of those nearby.

This is so sensible that everyone should have a copy. Paul Smith is also a sane voice on the subject of speed and speed cameras. To see his website, click the heading

Christmas Scenes in London