Using Apple Pencil and GoodNotes app

A quiet time to doodle with the Apple Pencil and the GoodNotes app brought this result. I'm happy with that; not only with the ease of writing, pen and paper styles but also the export facility. It took only a few moments to paste the finished map into this blog post.

Ambition and ability

For the past while when reading books I've been making notes and sometimes even marking the pages. The first time I did this apart from texts studied at school was on the advice of an author who said it was his habit and since I was reading his book at the time thought there was a good place to start. Reading apps on my tablet device make mark-up very straightforward and because the highlighting is easy to remove doesn't leave the physical damage that marginal notes and underlines do.

From time to time I revisit books and its nice to come across hand written notecards drawing attention to interesting anecdotes or quotes.  That happened earlier today when I came across an interesting observation by acting veteran, June Brown who plays Dot Cotton in the BBC's Eastenders.

June recalls in her autobiography, Before the year Dot, advice given on acting by Sir Laurence Olivier at the New Vic. The advice which she says that she has never forgotten was:  "We must be careful not to let our ambition outgrow our ability."  p165

Good advice that.
I can think of some very able people who lacked that spark of ambition, and sadly other people whose ambition flattered their ability. It seems to me that the two go hand in hand.

Ambition and ability.  What do you think?

Before the year Dot -the autobiography (2013) Brown, June. Simon and Schuster. London

Just a minute

Ever hurried back to the car park but not fast enough to avoid the charge for an extra hour?  Me too and I've noticed from previous tickets that this has been happening quite often. Just a minute! I thought, time to quicken that pace and get there sixty seconds earlier next time. And if it looks as if the extra hour charge is unavoidable then rather than paying for an empty space I let the car sit on for a while and take time out, parking myself somewhere nice for a tea or coffee and some light reading.
Now that's just the ticket.

Locked out and in. Honest.

Upcoming post on my recent experience of being locked out of a house but locked in its backyard.....
And some thoughts on why locks only serve to keep honest people out.

Wellbeing: Take 5

I came across this little fold-up advice leaflet and thought that its 5 key points were worth sharing.  Produced by the Public Health Agency, the five steps to wellbeing that it recommends are:

1. Give
2. Be active
3. Take notice
4. Keep learning and
5. Connect.

Each of the steps has an associated symbol and explanatory comment. And they make sense.

Take 5 minutes and check out an online version of the leaflet and other mental health related material at the links below.  I'm glad I did as there is plenty of stuff to think about both for ones own health and for others.

The next step is to build the 5 steps into daily habits so that they become second nature. This is where the discreet portability of the fold-up is useful. Slipped into a purse, wallet or pocket it can prompt us to action each time we notice it.

Follow up
Read online version of the 5 Steps leaflet here and see other health related advice at

Books for Cooks

It only took a second to go back twenty years.

There I was settling down with March 2016's Observer Food Monthly and a little blurb on the cover of the magazine caught my eye.  It read, The Food Lover's Ultimate Book Shop (it also serves lunch).  

Could it be? 
In that instant I knew what my ultimate food lover's bookshop would be but could it be the same one?  A quick scan to page 52 confirmed that it was indeed Books for Cooks a place that to my shame I had last visited in the mid-nineties when my professional life took me occasionally from Belfast to London and more exactly, Notting Hill Gate.  It was at a meeting that a colleague hearing of my interest in culinary matters suggested I visit this unique bookshop at Blenheim Crescent.  I had time; I did; and immediately fell in love with the place. That was twenty years ago!
In my memory its shelves were (of course) packed with cookery books but what I remember was how special the place was, how different and how welcoming.  I recall whiling away a pleasant time on an old sofa browsing recipes.  I also remember a small but busy kitchen with a cookbook on a stand opened at the recipe which was being served that day.  That's the deal you see, it's a niche bookshop that practises what it sells and does a recipe a day from its thousands of books.

What a great idea!
I couldn't leave that day without buying a book and having read Tim Lott's piece in the Food Monthly I was transported back and easily remembered the book that I bought.  Yes, I was able to go straight to my bookshelf and locate it.  Among the hundreds we have at home it was the first one I picked out. How among all of our books could I be so sure that this was the one bought at Books for Cooks?

Guess what?
There inside was a postcard from the shop and a little bookmark in the shape of a rolling pin.  The book I bought was Great British Chefs by Kit Chapman Vol 2. 
The selection has biopics of many now household names including Belfast's own Paul Rankin. It was published in 1995 and being new then provides a chronological coordinate for my visit.

Tim Lott's article has brought me right up to date and I am definitely heading back to the shop on my next visit to London.  I am also recommending friends who live there to check it out for themselves. 

I think it's still a brilliant idea, I wonder what they're cooking today.

Over to you
For more on Books for Cooks visit this article in the Guardian.
Do you have a collection of cookery books? Do you just read them or do you follow the recipes?

Segwaying the Titanic slipway

Loved it !
Having seen them several times on holidays, I knew a little about Segways but still wondered how they kept upright.

The apparent defying of gravity has got to do with an onboard gyroscope and while to an onlooker it is obvious that it works, it takes only a few minutes on the machine for that to be confirmed and to feel at ease.  We had booked the "experience" with Segway NI and presented ourselves at the Titanic Quarter for a 90 minute tour.

Before starting off we had a short but obligatory safety briefing from our instructor and guide, Kyle.

After some practice at moving, turning and stopping, Kyle led us along a cycle lane to the first stop on our tour at the SS Nomadic brought to Belfast from Paris where it had served as a floating restaurant close to the Eiffel Tower.  Then it was over to Titanic Belfast where he pointed out the arrangement of seats around the building that spelt out the ship's final distress signal in Morse code.

On next to the Slipways and Plaza and many interesting facts and things to see including a panel of inch-thick steel, weighing several tons, set on blocks but kept in place by its own weight. The ship was made up of thousands of these riveted together and it seems to defy logic that something of that size and density could float in the first place.  There wasn't too much time to think about the physics of that though as a very large tarmaced area was just the place to put the Segway through its paces.  Kyle adjusted something inside each of our machines which made them a lot more responsive and faster.  Yes, we could lean forward and get it up to its max speed of just under 13 miles per hour!

We did! It was exhilarating. He gave us plenty of time to make use of all that space and get as much experience as we could.  It was then that I gained the experience of falling off.

We had been warned about turning sharply but the tarmac had been paint-marked in several places - X marks the spot so to speak - and it seemed a great idea to travel full speed and stop exactly on the spot.  That turned out not to be as big a challenge as initially thought so what about doing it backwards while turning?
Not to be recommended - but no harm done other than to pride.

Off again, down a long stretch of road, still in the cycle lane, to the Northern Ireland Science Park where we had a look at HMS Caroline , under wraps prior to its reopening as a museum.  Kyle pointed out that a lot of the timber being used for its decks had come from impounded wood.  We manoeuvred our machines around the Pump House close to the fitting out dock and then we parked up our Segways for a warming cuppa inside.

Replenished ourselves it was time for the home run back to base and we travelled
that road with confidence. The time had passed all too quickly and we enjoyed our first experience enormously.
We returned our machines and while taking our farewells Kyle explained that they offered an off-road "experience" near Craigavon - where there would be hills and mud and mess. Really ?
Charge up those batteries, we'll be seeing you soon !

Over to you:
Have you tried this yourself? What's your experience?
Maybe you'd like to know a little more about how the machine works? Then check out more at Segway Personal Transporter PT

Poems on the Underground

Travelling on the London Underground recently I picked up this leaflet. Glad I did.... it is a collection of 30 poems from among the 500 which the Foreword says have featured on the Tube since 1986.

Poems in the Underground started 30 years ago when a group of friends, writers and poets, with the support of the London Underground had the idea of sharing favourite pieces of poetry with colleague commuters.  The programme has since been adopted over the years by many cities around the world.

Some of my old school favourites are among these thirty: Shelley's Ozymandias, Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 and Keats's Endymion and of course some new to me.

Poems on the Underground has been published by Penguin Books in different versions, a hardcover and an e-book in 2012 and a paperback in 2015.  Check out this link to Penguin for more information.

I wonder if some of your favourites are in there and what for you is the poetry pearl in your oyster.