The Sound, Isle of Man

A Windy Day at The Sound

New York, New York – finally – over four years of talking about it we finally got round to going to New York. Here’s just a few pics from the trip.

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If anyone tells you change is good, don’t believe them. Change is hard!

Having never been a morning person I’ve for some reason decided to try it… at the same time as getting fit and eating healthier. I’ve managed to trick myself into a few early mornings over the past couple of weeks by organising nothing more than croissants and coffee but this morning I finally managed to get round to what I was meant to be doing with my early starts – some exercise. Might go back to coffee and croissants I think.

A few photos from my run from Whitebridge to Groudle Beach and back this morning. It was actually really nice once I was out and before my lack of fitness kicked in, after which it was a bit torturous but got to start somewhere!

Numbers for Thursday bike club quickly depleted this evening so ended up being a solo ride out. I was pretty happy with this as wanted to push it and get some hills in and it’s far less embarrassing to crash and burn with no-one watching if it came to that.

I knew I wanted to head up through Baldwin past Injebreck to tackle the hill up to Druidale but hadn’t thought much past that. I struggled a fair bit to start and found it tough going particularly when I hit the climb. I kept to my target of not using the easy cog on the front the whole route – not easy on the hills but felt good once I got to the top. I was puffing a fair bit by Druidale but decided to carry on round the road and keep going rather than head down to St Lukes. St Lukes route is about 17 miles and really wanted to keep above 20 miles if I could so stuck to the Mountain Road as far as Windy Corner before taking the green lane here. Never been down here so this was a bit of an adventure. Didn’t push too hard down here as didn’t know the track and being on my own didn’t fancy a literal crash and burn out in the wilds. After the climb up Baldhoon Road I was debating taking a left to Laxey but at last minute decided to make tracks back to Douglas. The next short climb told me this was probably the right choice!

Isle of Man Mountain Bike Ride Elevation

Right home was good, felt tired but legs kept going. Managed to pick up a puncture coming down the back lane to Liverpool Arms – going over a short drop I felt the back wheel come down on sharp stone and by the bottom of the lane the wheel was pretty spongy. It hadn’t fully deflated so just banged in enough air to get me home.

I was pretty pleased to get the route finished in just over 2 hours and squeezed in just over 20 miles. Along way to go before I’m ready for the Manx End 2 End but happy with today’s ride nonetheless.

Thursday was decided on so Thursday it was… despite the weather! OK, on leaving the house it wasn’t too bad but 30 minutes in and it had started to rain, an hour and a half in and it was torrential. The route back from Peel was in about 2 inches more water than the route out.

Feet were frozen, waterproof socks were waterlogged and summer shorts weighed three times what they did when I left the house. Nelly took cramp on arriving at our half way point in Peel and somehow managed to keep it together all the way back. Apart from a brief yelp coming over the footbridge in Union Mills as his left calf finally gave in.

Great to get in over 20miles, usually struggle or feel it more than I did today as this seems to be my demon distance but despite the weather felt OK. Looking forward to keeping the training going now with only 9 weeks until the Manx End 2 End.

After reading Al’s awesome news at the weekend that he’s qualified to compete for Team GB at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Auckland (I know it was posted on 30th May but I’m just catching up with my blogs!) I felt well and truly ashamed of my recent run of excuses not to go out and get fit. (Well done Al, amazing job!) These were always followed by days of moping and whinging at how unfit I am and how I’d like to get fit without actually doing anything about it. I have thought about what it would be like to be fit – I imagined myself going climbing, tackling the odd UK event, completing the Manx End 2 End in under 5 hours – it looks good and easy in my head! It’s going out there and finding out just how unfit I am I struggle with.

So today after 4 excuses including going to Tesco, watching Spain vs Italy at 4.15, Mum not returning my call and I can’t think what to do I jumped on my bike and got a few miles in. I decided not to push it too far and just stick to one of the shorter routes from the house – keep it simple and all that. Having said that I challenged myself to stick in the top cog on the front all the way round despite a few nasty hills along the way which I did.

The route up around Baldwin is a beautiful ride although with my head between my knees and sweat running over my eyes I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. It’s easy terrain the whole way with 95% of the route on road and the remaining 5% on farm track but the route has a good few ups and downs in it to keep it interesting.

Mountain Bike Ride Elevation - Baldwin Isle of Man

I’ve done this route and a slightly shorter version a few times in the past and on getting home I was made up that I beat my time from last April on the shorter course so at least a little victory and hopefully something to keep me motivated to keep the training going.

It’s not ground breaking but a step in the right direction and with the End 2 End looming in September it really isn’t too early to get started.

I read a great post today by Susan Wojcicki (Google Employee #16) discussing the eight pillars of innovation. This article gave a great insight into a brand that has grown to a global workforce of over 33,000 in around 16 years, overtaking apple, Disney and McDonalds in the Interbrand top 100 Brands. In fact, only 3 companies sit ahead of them – Coca Cola, IBM and Microsoft. I couldn’t help but think, ‘why aren’t more companies adopting this open style of business?’

Beyond the eight pillars of innovation outlined by Susan it is clear that there are a few basics, without which none of what has been achieved would be possible. Lessons that any business can learn from and put in place.

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Hire great people – This has to be the crux of it. Google has great people. People they can trust, people who are great at what they do and who are driven to do better, to make things better inside and outside the company. And Google rewards these people with trust and a certain amount of freedom.

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Trust great people to do great things – Without giving great people trust and freedom you’d end up with an unmotivated bitter group group of people defending their positions and looking for ways to ‘play it safe’. No good for innovation! Google knows that if they allow engineers 20% free time to work on whatever they want they’ll see the benefit. How different is this to the clock in clock out mentality that still exists in many firms.

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Set the course – Although Google gives people free time and freedom to explore ideas and create new products they ensure this contributes to the overall success and direction of the company by having a clear mission. Alright, maybe sometimes mission statements and values can be seen as cheesy but perhaps that’s when they’re miss-used. Often these are just words on a page to tick a box or appease shareholders and staff rather than being a culture ingrained in the DNA of the company. Google’s mission is clear ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.’

These are by no means the only elements that make Google stand out but they are three re-occurring themes from standout start up businesses. From Google to Patagonia37signals, to Zappos, corporate culture based on the three themes above have been intrinsic elements to their success. I see so many businesses, and have worked in businesses where the culture was just to get through the day. Where input wasn’t valued, everything had to be signed off and staff did what they had to and left as soon as they could. It didn’t have to be this way!

There will be great people in every organisation waiting to be given the opportunity to do more. Waiting to be heard, wanting to do things better than they are already. Is your business culture stopping these people from making your company even better?

I’ve always liked taking photographs and experimenting with different cameras and techniques. Flickr has become my main photo site although I do stick the odd one or two up on this blog too.

Flickr shows which of your photos is the most popular by views, favourites or comments but also has an algorithm to give you your most interesting photos. So here are my top 10 interesting photos as calculated by Flickr.

#1 Gorse and Heather

Gorse and Heather

This is the colour of the Manx countryside in late summer. This photo was taken between the Chasms and The Sound just off the coastal footpath.

#2 Water Wheel in Groudle Glen

Water Wheel in Groudle Glen

A lovely water wheel maintained in Groudle Glen, Isle of Man in Autumn.

#3 A moody Port Erin Bay

A moody Port Erin Bay

This is an old photo I took from the footpath out towards Bradda Glen from Spaldrick. It was late evening as the sun was going down (I know this because I don’t do early mornings!).

#4 Moss on a Manx stone wall

Moss on a Manx stone wall

A typical Manx stone wall in the South Barrule plantation covered in Moss.

#5 Sulby Reservoir Mist

Sulby Reservoir Mist

This is a photo from a summers day up at Sulby Reservoir. The mist was just in over the water and creeping into the nearby plantation.

#6 Cregneash Window

Cregneash window

Thatched Cottage Window at the working museum at Cregneash. I think this is the carpenters house judging by the old plane in the window.

#7 Healthy Strawberry Plants

Healthy Strawberry plants

This is the first year Don and I have tried our hand at Gardening. We’ve got a whole range of plants including spring onions, daffodils, hyacinths, Sweet Woodruff, Clematis, Winter Jasmine and others I cant’s remember. Really enjoying it!!

#8 Isle of Man Mountain Road

Isle of Man Mountain Road

View from Hailwood Heights southwards on the Isle of Man TT Circuit. Beautiful Manx day with the sun in your eyes all the way home!

#9 On Top of the World

On top of the world

Standing on top of the world in the Isle of Man.

#10 Balladoole Viking Burial

Balladoole Viking Burial

This is an old Viking Burial Site on the Isle of Man. It’s on a small mound that gives views over the surrounding land for miles. It’s pretty near the coast and a stones throw from the old quarry. A beautiful historic site.

Hat Tip to Alistair Humphreys and Tom’s Bike Trip for the idea.

Decided against going for a run tonight and opted instead for a night walk up Snaefell. This was Izzy’s first big off-road walk and I wasn’t sure she’d make it but she showed me up, even on the steeper last section. It was pretty nippy up on top. I tried to get a couple long exposure shots with the camera on the summit but with the dog running round didn’t have the chance to sit and play with this for long.

After a flask of coffee and a couple of snaps we headed on down and Izzy showed herself as a true downhiller. I had fully expected to carry her down but she was loving it. It was a bit icy in places with some of the puddles have a thin layer of ice and the rocks’ frosty surfaces glistening in the headlight.

The walk has taken its toll on Izzy now though and she’s out for the count. Hopefully a quieter day for Don with the little monster tomorrow!

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Today is a great day. Today is a happy day. Today my new trainers arrived.

I always hear “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get the same results.” but when it comes to trainers I’m perfectly happy with the same results.

Nothing makes me happier than navy and white Adidas Classics. When one pair start to look a little tired I get a new pair. I’ve tried other trainers but they just don’t do it for me. They always stand out and I feel like I’m looking at somebody else’s feet. They’re either too narrow, too bright, too dull, too wide or too long. Adidas classics are just right.

Here they are – Third Generation Adidas Classics. (Middle pair are Gazelles as I couldn’t find Sambas at the time!)

third generation adidas classics

They smell good too!

Adidas Smell Good

And they look good from where I’m standing:

From Where I'm standing

They also came at a discount thanks to Sports Direct on Amazon. When they arrived they also came with a free gift from Sports Direct but I won’t tell you what it was as that might spoil the surprise.

Sports Direct Mug Free Gift

But despite their newness, nice smell and great view from where I’m standing the dog still prefers the oldest pair.

Top Dogs

Here’s a little tribute to all the Adidas Classics I’ve known before, to those who’ve stood below me and those who’ve made my view that little bit better.

My Adidas Story

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