Welcome to my personal page where I talk about my interests and hobbies ! Feel free to visit my other page to check out my Web Development projects and see my very interesting Blog !

Learning

I've become an avid reader in recent years. Especially since getting a retina iPad. I am training my self up to become a Web Developer. I also read a lot of self help books, on NLP and CBT/ Life coaching. The most recent books I am reading are HTML5 'The Definitive Reference' , Unlimited Power and 'Photoshop Elements for Photographers' . I have been totally converted since getting the iPad, so much so that I find paper books positively uncomfortable to read !
It was initially the boredom of working out in the Gym that drove me to find something worth while to listen to. I have a great collection of Anthony Robbins tapes and I think I've almost listened to pretty much all his stuff at least twice ! I highly recommend this, especially good whilst working out. Why would you not feed you mind as you shape your abs ? Sure beats the mindless pop tunes and TV ads. at the gym I go to any way. The programs I have listened to include 'Personal Power' , 'Time of your Life' and most recently 'Get the Edge' The great thing about the audio format of course is that it takes no extra time on my behalf, I am listening whilst doing something I would have been doing any way. Keeping my mind alert and focussed on learning .
I am trying more and more to focus on putting knowledge into action. I've started making web sites using the Coda development environment. I am also in the process of going through and finishing up the samples and examples found in all the books I have read !

Training

I'm lucky to live near the New Forest and I regularly cycle around its roads and cycle paths. Since getting back into cycling in 2005 I have ridden many thousands of miles. I have planned 3 set routes which take in the best parts of the Forest. There is a 30 mile road route that I do on my racing bike and a 30 or 50 mile routes for the mountain bike. I like to do the same route each time since it helps me keep track of my fitness levels and well, basically it's the most scenic !
In March 2012 I became the proud owner of a brand new Concept 2 Model D rowing machine ( or ergometer if you like) . This is the best way to get a full body workout whilst watching TV ( headphones optional). Concept have an online forum and you can record and upload your workouts. You can even compete or just row along with other people in real time on the internet ! I tend to just treat it as a fat burning machine, but I do have plans and goals to improve my rowing. I have rowed over 2million meters !
As well as being right next to the New Forest, New Milton has the benefit of a great coast line which is just 15 minutes or so run from my front door. When the sun is shining I like nothing better than to pop my trainers on and go for a run along the beach. It can involve getting wet or muddy feet on occasion if the tide is all the way in or there winds are very strong. This does kind of add to the excitement I guess. I recently add an extra little run up aa hill to my normal route. This enable me to get my heart rate up, and also I get a great view out towards Christchurch Harbour and also back along the beach I have just run alon. I love it ! Sometimes I do also go running in the forest. My normal route takes me about 90 minutes, through open moor land and Oak forest and along the cycle tracks.
Last but not least is the New Milton Gym ! I go here to do resistance training and work out on the cardio equipment. It's nice to workout with people who you know and who have been going there for years. The people there are very friendly and the facilities are excellent . This year the whole centre is inline for a major revamp, including an extension to the Gym and a new Sauna. Really quite exciting times for New Milton Recreation Centre !
When I get the chance and the weather looks nice ( seemingly a rare occurrence) I like to head off to the Lake District. I have a /lot/ of gear and for me part of the fun of it is packing my Ford Focus to the brim with camping gear. I have a fridge, cooker, batteries, lights, tables chairs etc etc. The camp site I normally go to has a great campers kitchen where I can while away the evenings surfing the net, reviewing my photos or enjoying a beer or two and chatting with other campers. I have almost climbed all the Wainwrights now in fact. I have long been planning to head a little further up north to start on the Munro's, but there is just something about the Lakes that keeps drawing me back there. It is nearer for a start and you get such an amazing choice of hills to choose from !

Toys

I'm not sure if this qualifies me as a true "petrol head" but I do own an MX5 and a Motorbike ! Truth be told the motorbike was more of a way of getting to work past all the traffic. I do love the MX5 though, it reminds me of a time when driving was exciting and fun. It also gives me another way to enjoy the beautiful New Forest. It may not be a 'true sports car' or even as fast as a TD hatchback, but it's very exhilarating and always puts a grin on my face !

I have owned home cinema equipment since before I left my parents house ( much to every ones annoyance no doubt !) What I had back then was a HIFI VCR, a 29" Sony Trinitron and a Yamaha Passive surround sound decoder. Today my equipment is a little better ! I have a 42" plasma, with a Bluray player and a Yamaha sound system capable of decoding uncompressed HD audio over HDMI. I've even got a set of top not B&W speakers including 2x500W active Sub Woofers. The last time I tried these out to any thing like their full capacity, my next door neighbour almost broke my door down ! ( I hadn't realised she had recently moved in to an empty house!)

Creativity

Having had lessons as a teenager, I have recently started learning Piano again. I am quite satisfied to take is slowly, so long as I am progressing and enjoying it that's fine by me ! I've bought a Roland F120 Digital Piano. It is simply light years ahead of what I was trying to learn on back in the 80's As far as someone at my level of skill is concerned this baby might just as well be a real £ 10,000 grand Piano. The best thing of course is that it doesn't need tuning ( and fits in my office quite nicely and has a headphone socket !) Logic Pro I also decided to take the plunge and teach myself Logic Pro on the Mac. I've read most of the manual, but I have to admit I am more into it as a technical/ intellectual level at the moment. Having grown up using Atari ST's and being fascinated by MIDI and computer Music. I am amazed at the level of sophistication available, in what is essentially a consumer priced App. (£140 I think it was... ) You get virtual synths, score editing, mixing, DSP effects etc etc...The equivalents products for other platforms cost thousands . I will no doubt rely on Logic to fulfil my musical ambitions LOL although I am practicing on the piano at least a bit most days too and my keyboard skills are improving. It's worth having although perhaps I should probably have played around with Garage band a little more first !

I've been interested in photography for some while. I must admit in richer times, buying expensive Nikon kit became a bit of an obsession ! I have made good use of my D300 though and it has lasted very well. I like the high quality pictures it creates and they look great on my big screens. Having a DSL certainly does open up a lot of creative options. Both in terms of access to settings and speed of operation. I also like to play with making videos. I have a HD camcorder and often play the role of chief family cameraman ! I can often be found wondering around the New Forest on a sunny day looking for a good shot. I love to photograph the changing seasons and the horses and wildlife. I also would not feel complete in the hills of the Lake District with out my camera !

I have been using Photoshop Elements on and off for a few years and recently I have been reading a book to 'fill in the gaps' of my knowledge. Truth be told it's one of the few remaining Paper books I have bought and part of the reason for reading it was that I was enjoying the two weeks of british Summertime in the garden ! PSE is a truly awesome product really and it pays to spend some time getting to know it. I use it to create web graphics as well as to enhance my photos.