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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Saturday, 31 July 2010

"The Someries" executive lounge - it was my idea!

The SomeriesI've been following London Luton Airport's tweets on Twitter (@LDNLutonAirport) since shortly after they joined the 'social networking revolution' - not least because the airport is the departure point for the main part of my commute to work, so it's good to know if anything untoward is happening there!

A few months back, I saw a tweet saying that Servisair, who look after a lot of Luton Airport's functions, had issued a competition to name their new executive lounge. After a little thought, I decided that the obvious answer would be "Someries", since Someries Castle lies just the other side of the runway, and it gives the name to the scout group to which Chris and Lenni both belong. In fact, I'd not visited it until April 2006, where we sought our first geocache - which I wrote about in an earlier blog entry.

As often with such things, I had forgotten about it - and hadn't really paid much heed to the prize - until I received an email to say that my suggestion was the winning one, and that I'd won a year's access to the lounge (for me and a guest), and an invitation to the naming ceremony.

Yesterday was the naming ceremony. I'd exhanged emails with the marketing office, and we'd come up with rather a nice notion - to bring the children in their Beaver and Scout uniforms with us, to be photographed with the Servisair team, but the airport has strict rules about where children can go, and they weren't allowed 'airside', where the executive lounge is. Coincidentally, Christopher had a barbecue at his new school to attend, so Lenni was looked after by Servisair staff with her 'goodie-bag' (Chris was given one, too, which he very much enjoyed investigating once he returned home!), while Beth and I were taken through airport security - with all the fuss of shoe and belt removal (it really did feel like we were going on holiday, especially since we left the car in the airport car park!)

We then met up with Elliot Renton, the finance director of the airport, and we all chatted for a while as we posed for photographs with a framed poster depicting Someries Castle and the name of the executive lounge. It was all very good-natured, and not at all formal (just how I like it!) and we had a good time. Apparently my idea was unique, among many suggestions of "Lorraine Chase" and "Campari" - I'm not entirely sure a seedy beige television advert is quite the image they'd want to portray, especially in such a luxurious lounge.

After the photos (of which I'll hopefully get a copy, so I'll upload them to the gallery), we walked back to.. whatever the opposite of 'airside' is (groundside?) via a very strange tube thing, that was designed only to let one person through at a time, and, after picking Lenni up, we left for home. It was like the shortest holiday ever!

Now, of course, I'm waiting for an opportunity to make the most of my year's free use of the Someries Executive Lounge at Luton airport - will it be for business or for pleasure, though? I'll be sure to write about my experiences, in either case!

Here are a couple of photos from the naming ceremony...

Elliot Renton and me with the Someries framed poster
Elliot Renton and me with the Someries framed poster

Celebrating with champagne (shame I was driving!)
Celebrating with champagne (shame I was driving!)

Posted by james at 6:41 PM

AudioBoo: Radio reflections at the compost bin boo

It's been an unusual week, and these are my jumbled-up thoughts from the compost bin - radio (or rather audio content creation) is in a very strange place at the moment, and I'm trying to get my head around it. Five minutes certainly isn't long enough to do that, but this is my first go!

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 10:30 AM

Sunday, 25 July 2010

AudioBoo: Musicians at Stockwood Park, Luton

We were having a picnic under the large evergreen tree in Stockwood park, when the strains of some drumming and singing came from the garden caf´┐Ż - it was a charity event (frustratingly, I've forgotten which!) where a group of musicians were playing. A real flavour of Luton's culture.

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 5:20 PM

Thursday, 22 July 2010

AudioBoo: Don't put a three-year-old chid on a garage roof

A strange event on a Thursday afternoon...

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 8:20 PM

Saturday, 17 July 2010

syzygy : that word game!

Syzygy - that word game!It's long been my intention to write a blog post about a game to which I was introduced through the wonders of the internet.

As you're no doubt aware, my Twitter username is 'syzygy' (which basically means alignment of celestial objects) - a name chosen because of its quirkiness, lack of vowels and the use of the letter 'z', and although I am certainly not the only syzygy on the internet, if you type it into Google, my twitter account is fifth entry down (cool!)

I was contacted out of the blue by Lorraine Spiering from www.thatwordgame.com who introduced me to a game called 'syzygy', and asked if I would be interested in trying it.

Word-based games are as popular as they have ever been - especially with the huge take-up of Scrabble on Facebook, and the emergence of similar games like Words With Friends on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and the children are now of an age where their vocabularies are developed enough to be able to enjoy participating - certainly when they're in a competitive mood - so I accepted enthusiastically!

Syzygy is a game very much like this, but with a slightly different take - it's not creating words on a single board, it's about getting rid of letters by making a mini crossword puzzles based on the letters that are in-hand (obviously containing real dictionary words!). Rather than ponderously scoring points, it is a much higher-tempo game, since as soon as a player completes their valid 'crossword puzzle', they shout "draw" and everyone pulls another random letter from the bag, box or pile to create a new crossword puzzle or as an adjunct to an existing one.

As a result, this requires quick thinking and dexterity as much as a strong vocabulary and knowledge of all those sneaky two-letter words on which experienced Scrabble players rely, and I think, if anything, that is the game's only drawback.

I played with Eleanor (who is only seven, bless 'er) a couple of times, and ended up helping her, since I would be able to shuffle my letters around without too much trouble, but she struggled both to keep everything neat and to formulate new arrangements as quickly. To get the best out of this game, I think it requires everyone to be of a fairly similar level, since it could quite easily become rather one-sided and frustrating if one person constantly dominated the play.

Maybe I could bring the game with me for the next 'family get-together' - my brothers and sisters are all of a similar age and ability to me, and we used to enjoy the occasional game of Scrabble that didn't result in rioting - that, I think, will be the true test of this game's success: can it be played without one of us getting injured?

I'll keep you posted... until then, please let me know if you'd like to borrow the game to have a go - it'd be great to get your opinion of it! If you're in the US, you can buy it in stores in various states....

syzygy - that word game on twitter : twitter.com/thatwordgame
syzygy - that word game on Facebook : www.facebook.com/pages/SYZYGY-That-Word-Game/80313361877

Posted by james at 9:08 AM

Sunday, 4 July 2010

audioBoo: "The Story Of Plastic Thing boo"

A brief story by Lenni about 'Plastic Thing' - how a humble plastic bucket handle nearly enabled Beth to return to the house when she was locked out.


An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 3:40 PM

Thursday, 1 July 2010

audioBoo: First Parent Consultation boo

An audio recording from audioboo.fm

Posted by james at 5:20 PM

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