Monthly Archives: November 2011
It all started when I purchased Charlie Browns Christmas Storybook. A staple of Christmas broadcasting since I was a child I couldn’t resist owning this piece of festive history.
The app is brilliantly executed with lots of lovely neat touches and surprises to uncover. I’ve “read” the book (and showed it of to friends and colleagues) many times this week ad there’s still more to discover.
As if this wasn’t enough Snoopys Street Fair was also released this week and it seems to have occupied any down time I’ve had at home or on my commute.
As Charlie Brown you need to set up a street fair to attract the neighbour kids whilst enlisting the help of Snoopy and the gang.
It’s a bit like Command and Conquer but without any of the violence or pressure.
In fact I am not sure why I keep going back to it as it moves at a slow pace and things take a while to progress. When they do it’s all very leisurely an simple too.
Maybe in a world where I seem to be doing everything else at the speed of light, Snoopys Street Fair has become the perfect antidote?
I have spent the last couple of weeks driving Richard mad playing “Magic” by the Sound of Arrows and am now more than happy that their debute album has been released.
“Voyage” is a wonderful mix of synth pop, electro and euro beats. Mixing Empire of the Sun with Tangerine Dream and elements of Ace of Base this truly is an electro synth album for our generation.
It doesn’t try to take itself too seriously and nor should it. The album lyrically is all about wonder and discovery. It seems like the boys had a hell of a trip making the album.
The video to Magic (which I can sadly not embed), is wonderful and dreamy and leads us back to a time of inspiration and innocence.
In a world where we have people camping outside financial instistutes, social media enabling the over throw of governments and rising poverty it’s truly wonderful to hear such a melodic and inspirational collection of songs inspiring us to take stock and to enjoy life for what it is.
Personal highlights include Magic (obivously), Nova and Into the Clouds.
Why not give it a go..?
Over the last couple of years the big high street chains in the UK have gone all out to carve themselves a niche and a voice in the chaos that is Christmas messaging. This years run of campaigns isn’t much different but it would seem that a couple of the ad agencies and the media teams in store have lost their way.
Lets start with the Boots campaign…
I think it’s fair to say that the British public have got used to the overly feminist campaigns and he awful “Here Come the Girls” soundtrack but even though this ad is annoying it does have a sense of humour and doesn’t try to take itself too seriously.
John Lewis continue their high production campaigns following the theme of middle class family life and the need to try to tug at your hearts strings. The first time I saw this ad I wanted to thump the little boy as he comes across as obnoxious and spoilt but this is where this ad wins as there is a lovely twist near the end.
There has been some controversy amongst Smiths fans for the use of the music but I think it works well.
Of the supermarkets the best ad I have seen is from the northern chain Morrisons. They have insisted two well-known British stars and used a quintessentially English location to shoot the ad (Kingston upon Thames). I again like this ad because it has a sense of humour but it also ensures you see the product range whilst wrapping up in a huge festive bow.
Love him or hate him the inclusion of Sir Bruce Forsyth (especially as he’s just received royal honour) is a stroke of genius. Bruce has been on our Christmas TVs for years and this is a nice tie in with the publics perceptions of Christmas. Of course there are lots of woolly hatted children running around trying to be cute and play dumb but let’s face it, most children in this country are dumb and far less eloquent!
Waitrose has taken their licensing with Delia Smith and Heston Blumenthal to new heights with their ad but it comes off as trying too hard and pretentious.
The advert is also far too busy with way too much going on – it’s hard to really take it all in.
I also find it very condescending – “Your favourite teacher”… Delia inviting you to make her Christmas cake from a bog of ready picked ingredients… My grandparents and parents have been making Christmas food for years, they’ve never needed carefully selected and measured ingredients – are people really that lazy/dumb nowadays?
The big shock in the campaigns this year have to be Marks and Spencer. Previous years they have gone for high gloss, high production ads that feature such stars as Andy Williams, George Clooney and Twiggy. They were fun, lively and clearly aimed at the middle of the road, mid-life to elderly customer base.
I don’t know what the media execs at M&S were smoking when they decided to enlist the X Factor contestants to sing!
What you end up with is a mis mash of ideas, a lot of cut shots and loads of people singing whom are out of tune and for most people (especially the M&S customer), you’d have no idea who they are. Does M&S not realise most of their customers are more likely to watch Strictly Come Dancing and not X Factor?
It’s especially sad in a year when the X Factor viewer figures have taken a dip. M&S used to lead and to innovate and this campaign just feels like it’s trying to hard – it also seems to try to emulate John Lewis which is certainly hasn’t done.
And the most original Christmas ad? Well that has to be the Halfords bike ad. All Children receive bikes at some point in their lives at Christmas and Halfords have tapped into this insight wonderfully.
For a business that is predominantly about car maintenance they have managed to highlight the one aspect of their business which will drive up trade at the festive period.
This ad is fun, lively, annoying and to the point. Well done Halfords!
Following the last couple of weekends with house guests, we have decided to have a potter this week and have completed the odd job around the house.
Since buying the house we have been thinking about how to make a focal point in our living room and have toyed with the idea of some art or shelving etc. We are still looking for some art but happened against the insight that you can purchase complete fireplaces. As the house is new there is no such feature and the living room is four plain walls. Free some investigation and a bit of luck we picked up a lovely fire and fireplace set today, we installed this into the living room in no time at all and it really adds character to the room.
We have lots of spot lights in the kitchen and have been looking for something softer. Whilst shopping with my parents in the week I saw a nice upright set which we acquired today and it now takes pride of place in the corner of the kitchen.
The houses in our row all look fairly similar and I installed a topiary hedge at the front and now this is accompanied by our new house sign. The door does have the number on it but it isn’t that clear and ultimately looks like the rest of the front doors in the row. Again we had a look around and Richard and I happened on a web site where you can design your own door plate. It arrived a couple weeks ago and this was our opportunity to install it. We’re both very pleased with the door plate and think that it’s the right size and helps our house stand out from the others.
So that’s a quiet Saturday for us! I was planning on capturing footage for Britain in a Day but things have taken over and the day has flown by.
We are snuggled up on the sofa, our new door sign advertising our whereabouts, the lamp warmly illuminating the kitchen and snuggled in front of our new fireplace
On Friday I picked my parents up from Paddington station and brought them up to Colchester for their first visit to our new home.
First impressions were great and it seems that they were genuinely impressed with the house.
Sadly whilst they visited the weather was quite poor but that didn’t stop us getting out and about.
We spent a day at the local designer village, braved the blustery conditions on the pier and sea front in Southwold (before stopping for a very nice lunch). I’ve showed them around Colchester and Dedham too.
It sounds busy but there was plenty of occasion to relax and take it easy. Especially as mum tires out quickly due to her heart condition.
I think this is the longest I have spent with them in a couple years and even though there was the inevitable spat between mum and I, I feel it went really well.
Typically we were up and out really early to get back into London and I am sure mum and dad were the first on the train at Paddington!
I am sad to see them go but happy they have made it up to us and are pleased with our new home.
Mum made great use of my iPad too (solitaire!) and as you can see I may make commuters of them yet
Whether the weather is fair or poor it’s always nice to take a walk along the pier to catch some fresh air.
The view of Southwold is lovely and the whole pier has been designed in unison.
There are a number of cafe’s, trinket shops, a quirky arcade and the Water Aid clock which has a fun twist every half hour.
This is how piers should be.
We found ourselves in Southwold one sunny Sunday and whilst we were enjoying our seaside stroll we decided a spot of lunch was in order.
There are many places to eat in Southwold But the Crown caught our eye.
We had the Sunday menu which was a set menu and set price. The interior of the Crown is definelty shabby chique although I am not sure this is was they are intending. To be blunt it’s a little grubby inside but it is an old building.
The food we ordered was tasty but my beef roast was a little too pink for me. There was not much meat though as I was given a single slice. The rest of the veg etc was cooked brilliantly and the Yorkshire pudding was tasty and crisp. I must admit that I wasn’t pleased that the “horseradish cream” wasn’t an option and was plonked on the top of my meal. Not being a fan of horseradish this didn’t please me as I couldn’t avoid it. I know I could have sent it back but I feel once a meal is delivered it’s too late.
The staff were fairly attentive and the ambience of the place was nice but I think it’s a little pricey for what it is and the meal could have been better given the price.
We visited about 3 weeks ago and I am afraid to say I only remember the main course which indicates the starter/sweet failed to leave an impression.
Not the best place to dine in Southwold but I guess not the worst either.
We popped in for an impromptu Sunday Lunch with my parents and managed to find a table for four.
The set menu of two or three courses offered plenty of choice.
The staff were very friendly and very attentive.
For start we all had the soup which was flavoursome, home-made and accompanied by some wonderful salt crusted home-made bread.
For mains my mother and I had the pork loin which was cooked in a wonderfully fruity sauce and served with a medley of crisp potatoes, vegetables and crackling. My other half and my father enjoyed the beer battered cod and chips which they both managed to polish off with some gusto.
My dad and I were too full for dessert but my partner and mother enjoyed the Bread and Butter pudding which was caramelised (ala Creme Brûlée) and served with a vintage marmalade ice cream.
This was a lovely meal, great price and everything served was very tasty and served at the right temperature. The staff were very friendly and I will definitely be going back there the next time we visit Southwold.