100 Great Things

Bicycles, men, women, some of the 100 great things

  1. Sainsbury ‘Basic’ Tortilla Chips because they are the closest thing to the tortilla chips I used to eat in El Paso Texas and they only cost £0.50 for a big bag.
  2. Reading glasses from the 99p Shop seem to work OK and are great for people who lose their glasses or sit on them. Thank you!
  3. Bicycles. Kirkpatrick MacMillan (1812-78), a Scottish blacksmith is credited with inventing the pedal-driven bicycle so we could get about for free. 
  4. Tooting Bec Lido is the largest fresh water swimming pool in the UK if not Europe. Unheated and open year round, it has become a focal point in the development and popularisation of cold water swimming in the UK.
  5. South London Swimming Club swims at Tooting Bec Lido and ensures the Lido stays open and that the legacy of past generations is preserved for future ones. 
  6. H2Zoom digital recorder is the most incredibly generous piece of recording equipment that for just over £100 enables you to record your sounds and then process with free sound editing software from Audacity.  
  7. Garlic and Tomato Bread at Buona Sera restaurant in Clapham is the lightest, crispiest pizza base topped with a soft tomato and garlic sauce. A sensual delight, bigger than a plate and only £4.00.
  8. The Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park always has interesting contemporary art exhibitions which are free and afterwards you can stroll to the lake for a swim with the swans and a nice cup of coffee in the Lido Cafe. 
  9. Open Mic at the White Lion on Monday nights. Everyone is very generous and the performances cover all genres and range from the sublime to the atrocious, compered by Al ‘The Bass’.
  10. Soundcloud lets you post and share music.  It provides amateurs with a place to showcase their work and network with other musicians.
  11. Moleskine 18 month soft cover diary has that lovely quality feel and if you buy it in January (i.e. 6 months after it is released) you get it cheaper and you have 6 months of pages to use for notes. 
  12. Streatham Hillhas that nice mix of being near the center but by a park, full of interesting people but not too posh. It’s just a very very nice place to hang out.
  13. Guitars. Infinite pleasure and enjoyment and if you have one on the road, someone is bound to come up and ask to play it. They are just wonderful things. And as they say, if you learn three chords you can play any song. 
  14. Wetherspoons pubs have a fantastic selection of beers that are well looked after and cost around half the price of beer in any other pub. What a great gift to the British man with a light wallet. 
  15. Freemind is an open source mind-mapping software. Use it to gather and sort out information and to structure work. Its bloody brilliant and its free. Here’s an introduction: Mind mapping will make you better.
  16. Zen Meditation: a spiritual practice that requires you to just sit and stare at a blank wall. That eschews preaching in favour of personal realisation. Let Ruben Habito explain the Fruits of Zen.
  17. Shepherd’s Pie with peas is just such a lovely comforting dish. 
  18. Green lentils in tomatoe sauce by Nigel Slater is a really simple and delicious recipe; nutritious and so cheap. 
  19. Dogs and dog walkers like Miguel on Tooting Bec Common and Kim in Battersea Park tend to be lovely, caring people with a bunch of canine characters.
  20. Nigel Slater‘s recipes and his attitude to food and cooking which is very down to earth. He likes his bacon butties in a white bread.
  21. Food for Thought is a small restaurant in Covent Garden which has been producing great vegetarian food since the 1970s. The apple crumble recipe using oats with flour is great. 
  22. Making marmalade.  
  23. Red wine, one month it is good for you, the next month not.  
  24. Friendship. 
  25. Children … are not your children they are life’s longing after itself, says Kahlil Gibran.  
  26. Early morning in the summer before everyone is up and about. 
  27. Birds singing before dawn. You know you are going to have to get up soon and wonder if it is worth going to sleep again. But the birds just sing on.
  28. Friday nights cooking and drinking with my friend Nicholas Kirmatzis, the picture framer and philosopher.
  29. Vegetable steamers
  30. Back packs hold the promise of the open road and a much simpler life.
  31. Facebook for putting us in touch with old friend and acquaintances and making us go a little cyber crazy!
  32. Skype for letting us talk to friends on the other side of the world and even see them. 
  33. Records and record players: The Long Player: Our father on vinyl …
  34. Desert Island Discs
  35. Balls and all the games they enable.
  36. Tea and coffee
  37. The Samaritans: Our common humanity is a shared joy and sorrow.
  38. Women (and for women, ‘men’ I guess)
  39. Pencils, preferably sharpened with a knife and with a rubber on the end. Perfect. And the magic of the lead inside the wood.
  40. Penknives
  41. Hitch-hiking teaches you about life and people, connects you with serendipity and gets you from A to B.
  42. TED talks
  43. Irish drinking songs:  Her eyes they shone like diamonds
  44. Irish accents can just talk and delight without saying anything in particular. 
  45. Hot crumpets with melted butter, sprinkled with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper, eaten on a cold winter evening after a long walk in the wind.
  46. Pancakes eaten with lemon and sugar.
  47. Apples stolen from an orchard in the middle of the night and eaten while still chilled by the morning dew.
  48. Crying
  49. Laughing
  50. BBC Late Junction music show for new and exciting sounds from around the world like Knut Reiersrud’s I don’t feel no ways tired (even better with the Alabama Boys – studio version).
  51. The Turning Ceremony as performed by the Whirling Dervishes of West London.
  52. Ken Jones haiku and haibun writer, Zen practitioner and guide.
  53. Football in the park
  54. Kissing
  55. The South Bank with all its free events and buzz.
  56. Richard Deakin’s allotment on Tulse Hill where you can look out over fruit cages and vegetable plots to Canary Wharf and the City of London in the distance.
  57. Oak trees and copper beeches
  58. The Greek islands in 1978
  59.  Walking through and in towns
  60. Sleeping out under the sky
  61. Making coffee and or tea in a saucepan over an open fire in the morning on a beach
  62. The sound of music on the street: Nellie Furtado’s I’m like a bird coming out of a shop in St Martin’s Lane. 
  63. Visiting Netley Abbey on a moonlit night. Climbing over the fence and wandering in the ruins.
  64. Jamming.
  65. Listening to live music in the Neptune pub Whitstable on a Saturday night.
  66. Wizz Jones a great British folk singer and generous guitar teacher. 
  67. University of Southampton
  68. A cafe in Paris, a cup of coffee and cigarette to start the day.
  69. Bidets … just seems like a good idea to wash your bottom rather than wipe with a tissue.
  70. Making love in the afternoon … middle of the night … morning
  71. DADGAD tuning for guitars
  72. Clubs and societies
  73. London where you can experience the whole world without catching a plane
  74. London parks
  75. Buskers
  76. Riding the freight trains across Canada
  77. Charity Shops
  78. BBC Storyville documentaries
  79. Giggling
  80. Holding a baby or small child
  81. Dancing
  82. Street sweepers
  83. Tim Winton author of Dirt Music and other fine books. 
  84. Crosby Stills Nash & Young and Four Way Street 
  85. Sailing off Rhosneigr in Anglesey
  86. Mussels picked from the Estuary at Maltreith and cooked with white wine and garlic.
  87. Fasching in Bavaria
  88. American folk and blues music
  89. Me voy pal Pueblo
  90. The BBC
  91. Climbing trees
  92. Made up games like handball against the cafe wall and garage football in Apperly Bridge
  93. Playing cards
  94. The Wren Church in St James’ Piccadilly and the Alternatives organisation
  95. Le Creuset wrought iron casserole dishes … just dont drop the lid on your foot
  96. Egg and chips in the cafe
  97. Salt’s Mill in Bradford
  98. Oscar the cat who sits on heads and sticks his paw up your nose to wake you up
  99. Skinny dipping (here are some dos and donts)
  100. Shunryu Suzuki  and his book Zen Mind Beginners Mind

Damn it, we’ve run out of space and still so many great things to talk about. What would you add to this list … or subtract.

Mind Mapping Will Make You Better

If you feel overwhelmed when it comes to organising yourself, organising work, and particularly when it comes to organising information, then mind-mapping may be for you. And specifically, an open-source programme called FreeMind.

This blog is about FreeMind and how it can destress you and make you more effective in your work.

The biggest challenge facing most of us today, is coping with information and our tendency to multitask. It reaches a point where the brain ‘hangs’  like a computer with too many programmes running’. The result can be:

  • Stress that leads to more stress and an inability to cope;
  • Written work that is confused and jumbled;
  • Plans and proposals that lack a logical progression;
  • And a linear way of thinking that stifles creativity.

So we need to free up the mind with FreeMind. This is a free open source software for creating mind and concept maps. It lets you generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas. And its also a great aid to studying (note taking) and organising information.

I like FreeMind because it lets you clear the mind and that gives you back control. You manage information more efficiently to produce coherent and compelling written materials. You can build and re-engineer your projects and proposals until they are perfectly structured. It enables a more fluid way of thinking and capturing thought because it uses pathways just like the brain. Finally it lets you create the BIG PICTURE and share it with colleagues.

Or does it?

With FreeMind you can print your maps and export them as jpegs and PDFs, but you can’t export them into Microsoft Office.  If you want to export to presentation or word-processing you will need OpenOffice.org 3 . This is as another open-source solution which is free download and use. it works just like Microsoft Office.

  • Leading office software suite
  • Works on all common computers
  • International open standard format
  • Read and write files from other common office software packages.

Download, and use completely free of charge for any purpose, here.