10 August 2008

BBC Proms

BBC Proms advert in the Underground

Every summer, in London, there is the longest festival of classical music in the world, the BBC Proms. It was started more than 100 years ago and has since been moved to the Royal Albert Hall.

The Royal Albert Hall

Because there are so many concerts and because the Royal Albert Hall is so large, it is easy to get to see some n-i-c-e performances at a reasonable price, which is rare in London. Or for even cheaper seats you can stand in the middle of the Hall.

On a Friday evening, we went to listen to some interesting late 19th / early 20th century music by Debussy and Mussorgsky / Ravel's Pictures at an Exhibition. There was also a contemporary piece from the 21st century.

High up in the Royal Albert Hall Because we had cheap seats, we were seated quite high and 雅蓮was a bit dizzy. At the interval we went to seat down in the posher seats lower down. As the Hall was half empty it was easy.

Even though the acoustic in the Royal Albert Hall is not n-i-c-e, for the price, I am not going to complain and we had a pleasant evening that changed from our usual routine and that was n-i-c-e.

05 July 2008

Firefox 3

firefoxLogo A few weeks ago, Mozilla Firefox 3 browser was released. I had played for a while with the Beta versions, but before migrating, I needed to have all my extensions working properly. An that is what is n-i-c-e with Firefox; not that it is an open source browser, not that it is faster and safer than Microsoft Internet Explorer. What is n-i-c-e is that hundreds of extensions are available for it.

Through the use of extensions, I can hide most of the commercials on a web site, I can get Google to give me links to Yahoo! search results, but most important of all, I have an extension, Chinese Perakun, that helps me read Chinese web sites.

ChinesePerakun

There are also spell checkers, bookmark synchronisers, integrated calendar programs, and even a portable version of the browser that will run from a USB stick. I could had many many extensions but then, Firefox loads more slowly so there is a fine balance to find.

Of course, not everything is nice with Firefox. There is a new image rendering library used and that means that image scaling is much smoother now. It would usually be nice but in the case of my web site, where I had made French flags out of 3 pixels, when they are scaled up, they don't look like flags any more... same for the Spanish flag.

flags

Luckily, Firefox can render SVG images which for these flags are very small files, ideal for a web site, and my Union Jack will now look even better.

All in all, I really recommend you give Firefox a spin, it is really n-i-c-e.

Firefox 3

31 May 2008

The Lightbox

When I changed my job, we didn't know where to move. After a chat with my colleagues, about where to stay, we decided on Woking even though we knew no one there.

The Woking Lightbox What attracted us to Woking was that is was a small town where we could have all the facilities we needed within walking distance and it was close to London for 雅蓮's commute. but what I found really n-i-c-e was that there was quite a few cultural places too. A large library, 2 theatres and a soon to be opened museum, the Lightbox.

Gromit at the Lightbox The Lightbox opened with an exhibition about 雅蓮's favourite, Wallace and Gromit whose creators come from not far away. We went there and really enjoyed it together with the permanent exhibition on local Woking history, not to mention the very nice architecture and location next to the canal.

I registered to receive their newsletter by email and found out that they regularly organise little concerts as well. We went there 2 weeks ago and really enjoyed it. The Lightbox is really n-i-c-e and is definitely one of the reasons why we like Woking.

DSCF3488

And it seems that we are not the only ones to like the Lightbox as it has just won The Art Fund Prize for museums and galleries 2008. Congratulation to all the staff and keep up the good work.

18 April 2008

Happy birthday 車車

cheche When we bought our little Ford Ka, (chē chē), it was out of necessity to go to work. I needed to commute to my new job and didn't have much money. A Ford Ka was ideal. Economical to buy and run.

車車 is economical to run

Of course we take 車車 with us on weekends and I try to take care of it during the week. In the end it is quite fuel efficient and it is really worth it.

snow

Sometimes I don't protect it as much as I should but earlier this week, 車車, reached its 100,000 miles mark. I now need to take care of it even more.

zero

I am happy with 車車, it is a really n-i-c-e car and I hope to be able to keep it for quite some time to come.

16 April 2008

NHS

NHS Earlier this month, 雅蓮 was taken to hospital in a bit of an emergency. She thought she had flu but then was diagnosed with a rare kidney condition; even the specialist had only seen one other case like her in his whole career.

It was a worrying time but all the staff at St Peter hospital were really friendly and efficient. She even found a Chinese nurse!

hospital Some people complain about the waiting time in the NHS, 雅蓮 was actually operated on before the planned date, at 21:30, instead of the next morning. This shows dedication from the doctor and the whole medical team. They allowed me to stay pass the visiting time and by then I was locked in the hospital and the guard was friendly and indicated me the way out. A few day later, I saw him again and he asked news from 雅蓮, that was n-i-c-e.

Even though I don't want to repeat it, I have had a very good experience of the NHS and I didn't have to pay anything, except for my taxes, for one week in the hospital and that is n-i-c-e.

I really want to thank all the people who give their best for the NHS. I know it is not all of them, but those I have seen, in Woking or Harlow, are very good, except the medical student who butchered 雅蓮's hand.

13 April 2008

VT 3.1

This weekend is a boomerang virtual competition. That is what I just discovered.

I had planned to go throwing for the first time this year this weekend so my first session was a competition. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to contact the other guys in South England so I was on my own in Woking.


View Larger Map

fieldI arrived on the ground at 18:15 BST. It had been raining most of the day and the ground was quite wet. I decided to hurry to avoid an other shower and also because the wind had died down.

As soon as my boomerang came back in my general direction, I decided to start accuracy. As I hadn't marked any circle, I did 2 throws marking the first one and then measured my distance and repeated 5 times. My final score was not too bad for a start: 48.

Then, on to Trick Catch, I had practiced quite a lot last year so I hoped I wouldn't be too bad. As soon as I did a clean one hand catch, my warm up was finished and I started the real thing. I should have warmed up a bit more as I dropped most of them. I however managed the foot catch but then was all wet for the rest of the VT. clothes In doubling, as I hadn't check the tuning of my pair, I used my accuracy boom without any intention of catching it. It seems it came back much closer than during accuracy and I didn't catch the other rang either, except for a hackey. In total 25 points, a PB!

Then it was time for the first round of FC. On the second throw, I managed to catch my favourite FC so I started. After not throwing for 4-5 months, it was a bit too fast for me and I only managed 4 catches with a lot of running. For the second run, I wanted to take my endurance boom but I had doubts about its range and as I didn't have any spotter, I went for my Ice Runner which unfortunately goes well beyond 20m. All of last year I had problems with its tuning, but having spent 4 months stuck under my sofa seems to have fixed this. I got 35" , a PB again and it may even be 34" as I started the watch, then threw and at the end stopped the watch.

myStuff As the Ice Runner had served me so well, I took it for Endurance. After 10 catches, my watch showed me 1 min. Unfortunately, looking at the time made me lose my concentration and I dropped once. Still at 20 catches, I was at 2'10" but then I only got to 30 catches at 4'53". This was mainly due to the sun which was on the horizon and in the wrong place now. I had taken my umbrella but didn't think about the sun glasses . I concentrated for my last throw but missed anyway. So 30 catches.

sun

By now it was 18:45 BST, time to go home. I am looking forward to the next VT on 20th of June. Hopefully this time with other throwers as it is really n-i-c-e.

booms

Update:
Now it is Monday morning, I have muscle ache in my right arm. That is not n-i-c-e.

Update:
The results are in and I am 14th. Not bad but I had good conditions which is not the case of all throwers.

14 March 2008

Flying like the pioneers

As part of my current job, I have to try radars on airplanes. This usually involves a trip to Coventry airport fitting the radar to a plane and flying it around.

A DC-3 testing a radar

800px-Avro.anson.arp Nothing n-i-c-e here, but in Coventry airport, they have a company, Classic Flight that specialises in flying old airplanes. In the hangars you can see many older aircrafts.

G-FIND At the moment, we are only flying a Cessna with a radar at the bottom. There is a big hole in the aircraft to fit the radar and it gets very very cold. It can get quite bumpy sometimes as well.

Croix du Sud watch by LIPAll of this makes me admire the pilots who went and conquer the unknown in their unreliable airplanes.  I told this to my parents and my Dad gave me a LIP watch "La Croix du Sud", an homage to Mermoz who opened many routes to and through South-America.

Latecoère 300 - Croix du Sud "La Croix du Sud" was used to carry mail across the South Atlantic Ocean and Mermoz was the first person to do this crossing. He also opened a route across the Andes using airplanes that could not fly as high as those mountains but pilots used updrafts. Not without risking their lives.

Even though my new watch is not a very expensive watch it is very n-i-c-e and it has a lot of history associated to it. I spent quite a long time reading since X-mas. Especially since my sister gave me a magazine about Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, an other pilot and a journalist and writer, best known for Le Petit Prince, with a short but very filled life.

watchAndmag

It is just n-i-c-e to read about those pioneers of aviation and fill a little bit like them.

Mermoz and Couzinet

If you are piloting airplanes and feel like sharing stories, don't hesitate. And if you fly above the UK be very scared, I installed the radars that keep airplanes from colliding! But I am n-i-c-e.

18 February 2008

La Brioche Dorée

I have quite a few n-i-c-e posts to write soon but today, I decided to open a new category, the not n-i-c-e category.

Last Saturday, we were in London and around tea time, we decided to try a new French bakery we hadn't try yet. So we went to Brioche Dorée on Piccadilly.

OK, it nearly 18:00 so they had sold out nearly everything, they still had some dry King's cake from last month - when will they stop advertising it? I also took a hot chocolate.

The service was done by girls would didn't care about their customers, the place was cramped and the chocolate was just Cadbury powder mixed with hot water, that means awful to french guys like me.

So I won't go back ever again and I recommend you avoid it as well.

I hope I will not have to use the not n-i-c-e category too often, but keep me informed of your bad experiences.

21 January 2008

A new beginning

For a little while my girlfriend, (Yǎ Lién), has been posting on her blog. Somehow, to keep posting, she has had to find things to post about. This makes our life more enjoyable as we have to find new things to do to keep her readership entertained.

In this blog, I will try to write about things that I am doing and that I find enjoyable in the hope that other people may share this with me or give me some tips to enjoy other related things.

I now have to start to think about things to enjoy.

Hope to see you around soon with new things that have the n-i-c-e factor.

Arnaud