Granada, Spain and Gibraltar

A recent trip to Granada, Spain filled me with joy after an absolutely stunning guided tour around the Alhambra. I also found a little gem of a steak restaurant called Apo restaurante on Plaza de San Lázaro 15. The trip finished with a road trip over to Gibraltar and Seville. The views of Africa from the top of the Gibraltar rock where breathtaking. The guided tour also provided an opportunity to get close to photography the Barbary macaque monkeys. Seville has plenty of sights to take in with my favourites being the Cathedral of Saint Mary and the Plaza de España. I have shared a few more photos that are available on 500px.

Barbary macaque monkeys, Gibraltar

You can browse my published portfolio over at 500px. Be sure to share your feedback.

Pike Place Market, Seattle

I’m spending more time with one of my favourite hobbies again – photography. You can browse my published portfolio over at 500px. Be sure to share your feedback.

This photo was taken shortly before I slipped and broke my ankle, leg and wrist in the incredible snow that fell in Seattle. I have this as an A0 print on the wall to remind me of this incredible trip along with my scars. The touch of the scars and pain from the injurys takes me back to my favourite place. I have shared a few more photos that are available on 500px.

Picture of the snow in Seattle, Feb 2019.
A snowy Pike Place Market, Seattle, Feb 2019 – before my accident.
See more of my photography over at

You can browse my published portfolio over at 500px. Be sure to share your feedback.

Discover what’s inside my man bag…

Ok, it’s time for me to confess that I like a man bag or two. I really appreciate a stylish and high-quality bag and have to admit I have a few. I don’t buy them at a rate like my partner does (along with her shoes) but when that time arises, I take a trip to France! Join me in this post to discover my various bags and what’s in them bag – inspired by one of my favourite blogs Lifehacker.

Inspired many years ago by the various stories of ‘Featured Bags’ from Lifehacker and ‘What’s in our bags’, I’ve always wanted to write one of these posts for myself at the right time – that time is now!

As a SharePoint Consultant who is often on the road, it is important for me to have various pieces of technology & equipment and those other ‘things’ with me for when the need arises. Equally as important as having the right things with me at the right time is having a bag that is high quality, elegant in design, durable and comfortable to carry around. Let me share with you my collection of bags…

The bag collection

I have two French laptop bags, an overnight bag and a Crumpler Good Boy 13″ sling bag. My favourite is the smaller, more recent laptop bag. I received this for Christmas from my girlfriend (thank you, thank you, thank you) along with the overnight bag. They’re both from the same town in France where I brought my first laptop bag a year or so ago.

My favourite bag (Francinel 13" laptop bag)
My favourite bag (Francinel 13″ laptop bag)
The workhorse (Katana 15" laptop bag)
The workhorse (Katana 15″ laptop bag)
The sleeper (David Jones overnight bag)
The sleeper (David Jones overnight bag)
Undercover (Crumpler 13" Good Boy sling bag)
Undercover (Crumpler 13″ Good Boy sling bag)

Where do they come from? Well, the Crumpler I brought in the Crumpler store on the Strand, London a few years back. The other bags…I cannot say. It’ll give away my secrets – I can say though that they came from France!

What’s inside my bag?

Lots of people have asked me what I carry in my bag…here is your chance and theirs, to see what’s inside my bag (on a typical day):


  1. A good book to read – at present I’m reading “The man who knew too much” (Alan Turing) by David Leavitt
  2. My favourite watch!
  3. A strong umbrella
  4. Oakley Sunglasses
  5. Cacoon Grid-it organiser
  6. Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
  7. Beats Headphones
  8. iPhone 5 (this may become a Lumia soon)
  9. MacBook Air 13″ (although I’m sure this might change to something less Apple-based like a Surface Pro 3 soon)
  10. Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
  11. Huawei 4G Mi-Fi
  12. Leatherman Titanium
  13. Powerbank (RavPower Deluxe)
  14. Western Digital Pocket drive and various flash drives (all but one encrypted mind!)
  15. Various adapters (USB to Ethernet, Miniport to VGA etc)
  16. Logitech R700 presentation remote
  17. Laptop lock cable (for the bag, not the laptop)
  18. Moleskin notebook
  19. Bluetooth speaker with microphone – great for conference calls
  20. Pens. Pens. Pens. Particularly my Parker fountain pen and a really good whiteboard marker.
  21. Welfare stuff like tissues, hand cleaner, wet wipes and some Nurofen!
  22. Envelope to stash receipts
  23. Peter Rabbit and Paddington Bear – when I travel I like to take pictures of these two in front of recognisable and special places to send to my daughter.

There you have it…my bags and what’s in them.

Some light reading after the SharePoint Conference

I’ve managed to pickup some reading materials while in America that are going to keep me busy for some weeks.

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Administration

First up was a book (Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Administration) I picked up at the AvePoint during a book signing during the SharePoint Conference.

Two of the Authors Randy Williams and Chris Givens kindly signed it for me – it was really great to meet these two authors after many years of reading their books.

Authors Randy Williams and Chris Givens at AvePoint book signing.
Authors Randy Williams and Chris Givens at AvePoint book signing.

Alcatraz 1259

Second up was a book (Alcatraz 1259) from Alcatraz Island signed by the author Willam G. Baker himself who happened to be there just after finishing his parole aged 81. He is one of the last living cons who served in US Penitentiary Alcatraz and shares his account of life there in the book.

Alcatraz 1259 author William G. Baker during book signing.
Alcatraz 1259 author William G. Baker during book signing.

I hadn’t appreciated the history of the Island, the Penitentiary or the prisoners and guards up until the audio tour. Up until this point I had just seen it as a prison in America that featured in the movie The Rock but the Island has a fascinating past – one that I am looking forward to learning more and more about.

I’ve struggled to put Bill’s account of life on the Island down since we brought it – once done I’m going to find a guards account of life on the Island among others.

MCSA Windows Server 2012 exams

During the SharePoint Conference, I took the opportunity to update my Microsoft Certifications – more about that another day.

To complete the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in SharePoint I have to pass 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412 also making me a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) in Windows Server 2012.

MCSA Windows Server 2012 reading
MCSA Windows Server 2012 reading

Happy reading I guess.

The bike ride of a lifetime

I’ve just come back from the most incredible bike ride ever!

While on holiday in Majorca, I was lucky enough to receive an invitation from my chairman (he lives out there) kindly invited me to join him for a bike ride. He has been cycling for 8 months or so now cycling every day if he can and is very fit and healthy.

My bike for the ride
My bike for the ride

There were many tough parts to this ride and it started with me using a mountain bike with rather wide wheels! Bryan was riding a beautiful Scott and we passed scores of pro cyclists and teams riding some very very expensive bikes!

Then there was the heat, which was around the 25ºC mark. A temperature that I rarely experience when cycling back home in the UK. Lastly, there were the mountains (or hills, it’s open for debate) that began as steady inclines and worsened to 10% gradients. We finished the ride with a soul-destroying 15% gradient, although by this point it seemed as if I was sprinting along rather than the snail’s pace at which I started out at.

I just want to point out at this point, that I consider myself to be a keen, fit cyclist and really love to sprint whenever I have an opportunity. I can tell you there was no spiriting on this ride! I had that feeling I wasn’t going to make it up some of these climbs – they were tough but I pushed on!

After the climb and mastered control of those wobbly legs as you inevitably now have, you are able to reap the reward of the most impressive, stunning views at the peak. But better than the views at the peak where the seemingly never-ending descents…I cannot recall ever cycling so fast, for so long! The lack of speed of the climb, combined with the very hot temperature and the increased heart rate you can imagine this doesn’t paint a pretty picture but the net result is what goes up must come down and I certainly cooled off with the air I passed through as I descended. On one descent my speed registered 37mph!

Lunch in the sun in Port d'Andratx
Lunch in the sun in Port d’Andratx

We stopped for a bite to eat in a gorgeous fishing village called Port d’Andratx, which Catherine and I had previously visited and is one of our favourite places from the holiday. After a sandwich and coffee in the sunshine and an opportunity to catch a breath, we continued on with the ride.

The bikes having a rest
The bikes having a rest

As we set out on the last leg of the ride, I had images of us cycling the reverse of our earlier climbs however we returned on a different route that was a little more forgiving for a cyclist like me, who is used to the flat!

After completing the ride I reviewed the stats from my iPhone App I had running (Cyclemeter) and smiled happily when I saw that I had climbed a total of 550 metres or 1,804 feet.

Will I do it again? Absolutely positively yes I will! Thank you so much Bryan.

With Bryan before our bike ride
With Bryan before our bike ride