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Goodnight Vienna

29th October 2006 • Dave

It is almost a week since I arrived in Vienna. And in that time I have played two games of chess with my father. Won one and lost one. I have now cycled 82KM. And providing my legs do not fall off first, reaching the 100KM mark before I return to the UK tomorrow evening is not beyond the realm of possibility.

I have insufficient vocabulary to describe the performance at the Vienna State Opera which I attended last Tuesday evening. mesmerizing, emotional, breathtaking, are all words which come to mind. The sheer logistical effort required to bring together orchestral music, vocals, theatre, visual art and in some cases ballet is in itself extraordinary. This was a spectacular way to loose my opera virginity! And while the operatunity is here I will be trying to get a ticket for Carmon this evening.

As 2006 is Mozart’s 250th anniversary it was quite fitting that on Wednesday I visited the Vienna Concert House to hear selections of the classical composer’s work. The star attraction was Simon Rattle’s girlfriend (her name escapes me) who performed a couple of numbers from Figaro. Mozart does not really do it for me baby. So the highlight for me was the hugely energetic House of the Devil by Boccherini?

On Thursday we witnessed a curious interpretation of the poems of William Blake. Klettenheimers is a small café run by a couple who not only make the sandwiches and tend the bar, but also stage the performances. The poems were set to music, with each song followed by contemporary monologs from larger than life characters all performed by our hostess.

On Friday I spent several hours exploring the Vienna House of Music. As well as the expected exhibitions of artifacts commemorating the greats of classical music who spent time in Vienna, the likes of: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert, Marla etc. The House of Music features a number of interactive attractions not least of which is the virtual orchestra displayed on a large screen. Visitors are invited to take up the batten and attempt to conduct this unruly mass. The virtual orchestra have absolutely no compunction about downing their instruments and complaining loudly if they do not think you are up to the task. This happened to me half way through a Radetski march before a precocious little girl showed up to show everyone how it should be done!

Friday evening my father and I spend at Jazzland where the 17 piece Stanton Big Band had an enthusiastic audience clapping and cheering long into the night.

Saturday we visited an elderly relative in Eisenstadt which is a small Austrian town near the
Austro-Hungarian border. Apparently the Eisenstadt soccer team have lost 12 out of their first 13 games this season!

It is now Sunday afternoon and I am back in Vienna. This time tomorrow I will be about to start my journey back to Worcester and work on Tuesday morning.

Very many thanks to everyone in Austria who have made my stay an enjoyable one. Vienna has so much to offer culturally and a week is barely enough time to scratch the surface. I have appreciated the break from work, and am now ready to return home.

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24th October 2006 • Dave

My Austrian Airlines flight from Heathrow landed in Vienna around fifteen minutes after six on Monday evening and by twenty-five to seven I was aboard a train heading into the city centre. Fourty-eight hours earlier Austrian Airlines was subjected to a fake bomb threat by a drunk German man who managed to force a Frankfurt bound service to return to the Austrian capital. However, all was quiet in Vienna on Monday evening.

This morning I ate porridge, managed 15KM on an exercise bike, spent an hour playing piano, read some news, and enjoyed some space to think.

All being well, this evening I hope to attend my first full-on opera! I do not claim to be a connoisseur of the art form, but the chance to attend a performance of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Vienna State Opera is a fantastic opportunity not to be missed!

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On Holiday

23rd October 2006 • Dave

Thirsday was my Thirtieth birthday. Rather predictably I celebrated with liberal helpings of beer and curry. Rather unpredictably a colleague turned up half way through my night out and presented yours truly with a chocolate birthday cake with the numbers three and zero depicted in candles. It has been a long time since anyone went to so much trouble for my birthday, and for a moment there I was lost for words!

On Saturday I took the train via Reading and Guilford to Epsom. Out of curiosity on Sunday we took lunch at the newly reopened Rising Sun now part of the ever expanding Wells and Young empire. The new incumbents have a tough task ahead of them if they are hoping to win over any of the former regulars. And in spite of the excellent food, whatever Youngs do, for some of us who recall the old Riser, the new Rising Sun is simply n “ordinary” pub, run by ordinary people selling ordinary beer.

I have just polished off a mixed grill while waiting to board my flight from Heathrow to Vienna where I will be spending the next week or so visiting my father. Looking forward to relaxing, reading, and maybe the odd game of chess.

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If you have a Thinkpad chekc your Battery

18th October 2006 • Dave

If you read the tech news lately you would have had to be living under a rock not to know that Dell were recently forced to recall a large quantity of laptop batteries following safety concerns. The bad news from Dell was followed by Toshiba making a similar recall around a month ago. Now, you can add my beloved Thinkpads to the list. The link above takes you to a page where a free utility can be downloaded which will check your battery to see if it is one of those being recalled. Both my Thinkpads checkout fine. So I’m not going to get blown up just yet!

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The Eve of 30!

18th October 2006 • Dave

Today is the last day of my twenties. I had dinner with a couple of colleagues this evening. And yay I managed to make it back in time for the Tesco delivery van who were bringing cakes for my birthday tomorrow. Also Liverpool managed to win away against Bordeaux this evening in the European Champions League! Bordeaux has a special resonance for me as I attended the Scotland v Norway fixture during the 1998 World cup with my then girlfriend and family. Oh and Preston are now ten games unbeaten, and there’s a miserable Leeds fan from the West Midlands on the radio. So all is right with the world.

Ten years ago I was being bored at College and pretty much hating it. Today I have a flat, job, more prospects etc. Since becoming twenty in 1996 I have: met the leader of a political party, been to a soccer world cup, witnessed a total solar eclipse, been to Proms concerts at the royal Albert Hall, celebrated a millennium on the banks of the river Thames in London, been engaged, won an award for voluntary work, got stranded on a boat in the middle of the night, jumped out of a plane, stood on the top of Table Mountain in South Africa, played roulette in Vegas, circumnavigated the globe, been to the Edinburgh Fringe, well you get the idea … These were the highlights.

Not sure how I feel about being on the eve of 30. In the great scheme of things 30 is still relatively young. But at the same time I have to recognise that it may be about time I grew up, started saving, drink less, quit smoking, exercise more. Ah well I am going on holiday next week to Austria, so I will probably defer these resolutions until I return.

In the next ten years who knows what will happen. I would like to think that my thirties will be as stimulating as my twenties. And you never know I may find love? Whatever
that is? And would it not be marvellous to buy a house? Read and travel more? So still plenty to do.

Anyway, I have been very lucky thus far. Sincere thanks to the people who make me smile, you know who you are.

I am in Surrey at the weekend with a probable expedition into London, and I fly to Austria on Monday. Hope to do a bit of Podcasting next week, not done any of that in a while.

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Save the Ouch Podcast

9th October 2006 • Dave

I wrote about the Ouch Podcast several months ago. It would seem that the trial period has come to an end. But fans of the show would like it to continue. And why the hell not?

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After September comes Rock Tober

7th October 2006 • Dave

October is already shaping up to be a pretty busy month. I returned from my mammoth trip around the United States last week, and finally made it back to Worcester on Sunday. We have new projects to keep me busy at work, and I am away next weekend doing the Preston thing. Toward the end of the month I will be taking some holiday, and I fly to Vienna Austria on the 23rd to spend some time with my father. Somewhere amongst all of that, I guess I should celebrate my 30th birthday.

It feels like a long time since I spent any time in my flat. With lots of washing and reading to catch up on, this weekend I intend spending some time home alone for a change.

I was browsing this weekend’s TV listings and came across Escape from Alcatraz on BBC One on Saturday evening. I have obviously seen this Clint Eastwood classic several times. Although now that I have actually visited the rock in person, I will be interested to see if the 1979 thriller is any more powerful.

On balance it is good to be back to the land of rain and flat beer and Michael Parkinson. Well at least for a week or two!

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