Manhattan Island with snapseed work.

Manhattan Island with Snapseed work

I know this sounds like a sponsored advert but I love Snapseed. It’s a great photo app I have on my iPhone. It’s got more controls than Instagram  and is really easy to use. I like it much more than Adobe Photoshop’s app which is great news as I have a real problem with Adobe. In my experience they have the worst customer service I’ve ever encountered and any competition that threatens to break their stranglehold on the market of digital image manipulation is good news. Above is a picture I took through the window of a plane over NYC last week and worked on with Snapseed. Below is the original picture.

Manhattan Island with out snapseed work.

Manhattan Island without Snapseed work

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We are driving from Pitlochry to London to start back to work tomorrow. It’s been a great New Year break or ‘Hogmanay’ as its called in Scotland.

Yesterday the main street of the town was closed to traffic as a large highland dance took place.

Tweedy, blue-rinsed ladies danced with baffled Italian tourists while white haired highlanders in regulation kilts gave novice dancers a crash course in rock-n-reel.

As I ordered a haggis roll, (yep that is haggis in a white bread roll) I met a man who knew my Aunt. She used to be a teacher in small highland schools.

The man and I didn’t spend long reminiscing, he was particularly concerned that he’d seen a number of men with kilts that were ‘too long at the knee’.

He was shocked that people nowadays didn’t know (or worse care) how to wear the kilt. So top tip from Pitlochry pie shop is: when you next put on your kilt to go dancing in the streets you should kneel on the floor and swipe two fingers between the hem of the kilt and the floor before leaving the house.

And the good news is that even if your kilt is a little long, you are still allowed to enjoy yourself. At one point there must have been around three hundred dancers all bouncing, whirling and laughing around the street.

Highland hospitality, culture and community at its very best.

These are the urinals in the men’s toilet at the Hemingway Pub in Victoria Park, near where we live in London. The barman says they are meant to be funny but I can’t see the joke.

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I’ve been majorly neglecting the blog. Amongst my rather ambitious list of New Year resolution’s is to update the blog more. So here goes. These are Silver Birch trees caught in winter sun on the banks of Loch Faskally in the Highlands of Scotland.

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Street art in Broadway Market East London


There is an amazing vibe in London today. The streets are deathly quiet as people stay at home to watch tv, go to parks to watch big screens, or for the lucky few, attend the Olympic venues to witness incredible performances from the British team. As we live in the East End of London, we decided to take our summer holidays over the two Olympic weeks. We spent a small fortune on tickets and crammed the family together in our little flat. I’m so glad we did. It’s been amazing so far and we have a week still to go.

I can just feel the excitement building in london as we head towards the Olympics in less than two weeks. This is Trafalgar Square today with the amazing acrobatic surprisses STREB.

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Flying from Juneau to Haines, Alaska. Writing a poem for Jen, thinking of houses of love and listening to Neil Young’s Harvest.

It’s been over a year since my Dad passed away.  It has been the toughest yet conversely, the most life-affirming year of my life. To read the glowing obituary I wrote about him just a few blogs ago you’d think it was all done and dusted. Not so. I have come to a far more profound understanding of the fundamentals of my life.  The power of the subconscious; the true nature of grief; the importance of respect for others but ultimately, just how lucky I am in my soul mate.

There were times when I certainly questioned my sanity; I know others did. There were times when the despair and the anger were overwhelming. There was never a time when Jen wasn’t beside me, holding, smiling and reassuring. Slowly gradually helping put me back together, stronger, happier; resolved in myself.

Put quite simply, she was my rock and my saviour. I’ve added diamond number seven to her wedding ring as it will be our seventh wedding anniversary tomorrow. We have given each other tickets to Paul Simon’s Graceland concert in Hyde Park. But I’d also like to give her this;  a poem I wrote three weeks ago as I headed to the Alaskan gold fields. We are buying a new house together.

Alaskan Sky (For Jen)

Flying through clouds
Sun glint on fiord and peak
Searching for gold again
My father comfortably in me
At last

I feel the great love
Of my life stronger
Than ever
In the lonely sky
Of trust

I fly north
To fly south
Adventure and invent
For a new home
For our hearts

A home for us
A place to be safe
For us
For family
For friends to love

We cross the lucky horizon
together forever
Where the sea meets the sky
At home in our
tremendous
Love

The second series of Gold Rush is now the top show on Friday night in the USA.

It is a fantastic achievement for the mining crews, Discovery and Raw TV. I’m so impressed and seriously proud of how hard everyone’s worked to make such an epic series.

Below is an adbrag running in US newspapers and magazines.

Adbrag for Gold Rush

The first pie I've ever baked

I am sitting on the plane again, heading back to location. On the flight over the North Atlantic, I’ve reviewed two edit scripts, nailed my task list, planned my week (as much as you can on this job) and sorted the overburdened A’s in my Blackberry contacts.

It’s two months since Dad died and I feel now like I’m back in the land of the living. Rest, love and time have no doubt helped me recover but there is also another reason that I’m firing on all cylinders again. For some time, Jen has been evangelising about ‘Getting Things Done‘, a book by David Allen she read that teaches us how to be more productive and less stressed.

For my birthday she bought me a gift that others have said is a strange token of affection. She gave me a day with Curtis from ‘People Who Do‘ who taught her how to ‘get things done’.

As arranged, at precisely 9:30am on Wednesday morning there was a knock on our front door. I greeted the trendily dressed and well groomed Curtis. He carried a small, neat leather school bag. It contained an iPad, and some very thin brown books. In the books were measured words on productivity, beautifully printed by his partner on an antique letterpress. Everything about Curtis looked planned but he appeared to be friendly too. First, he listened to me for possibly longer than he would have liked. At 10:45am he politely suggested it was time to get things done. Over the rest of the day, (with an hour off for lunch) he helped me collect, sort and build a system to deal with the deluge of paper and email that floods our lives.

The basic principle of GTD is that if you don’t have a reliable system of collecting, storing, prioritising and reviewing all the things that assail you then your mind will never be at peace. If you aren’t confident that you can store, retrieve and act on tasks when you need to, you become stressed as the mind tries to keep hold of too much randomly stored and unprioritised actions.

I’ve always been fairly anal, but in the past year especially, it’s been apparent to me that I had to find a new way of working. The three legs to my tripod of work, family/friends and fitness had become skewed. I needed a way of keeping or increasing my productivity at work but also wanted to find time to strengthen the other legs of family and fitness. Curtis held that his system, diligently applied would mend the tripod.

It was both a therapeutic and cathartic experience. When Curtis left at exactly 5:30pm as had been arranged, I was exhausted but exhilarated. It has been only four days since I started the new regime, but I am more in control and more relaxed. Although it does appear that I have shed loads of work, I seem to be able to get through it faster and more effectively.

And so having run out of power on my laptop as I fly over Greenland, I continue my new found efficiency drive by weeding my overblown contacts database on my blackberry. Sorting through the A’s I come across the name, Archie Maynard.

Five weeks ago, just after his funeral I returned to Alaska. An accidental encounter with his contact entry in a jet lag haze was the catalyst for the sudden dreadful realisation that my Dad had actually died. I fell apart.

I’m better now and on a roll but I hesitate as I consider pressing delete. I can never press that button no matter how productive I might be. Why? Because even though he’s not at the other end of the phone, you can never delete your Dad. You just have to pick up the pieces, remember how lucky you are and get on with it.

Makes You Proud

There has been a lot of stuff happened to me since Dad died. After the frenzy of organisation around the time of his death, the funeral and the rush back to work, I was suddenly silenced by grief. Left floundering in a way I have never experienced. I’ll write more about this but the good news is, I am beginning to lift my head and smile at the world again.

Despite the occasion it was good to spend time in my old home town of Greenock in Scotland. The support from friends in the community was an inspiration. It’s a community that has suffered badly from the death of the shipbuilding industry followed by the decline of IBM, the other major employer. It’s a tough town in tough times but nonetheless people were incredibly supportive.

Still, I was reminded just how mad the place can be when a friend sent me this clipping (not sure which newspaper it first appeared in). It perversely made me proud to come from the old toon.

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