Eurovision 2011: The ones to watch.

The Eurovision Song Contest 2011 is just weeks away. The songs are all selected. The acts are preparing and putting the final touches to their songs and stage routines. Who will win? This year the race is open wide. There is no clear favourite, which is a good thing.

Here are five songs that are worth keeping an eye on…. They could do very well.

Denmark: A Friend in London – “New Tomorrow”.

The song has caused some controversy with some people claiming it is too similar to other songs. Then again, in 2011 it’s quite a challenge to create a unique song. This is my favourite song of 2011. A dark horse. (Best bit to watch is after 2:00 – It will look amazing on stage in Germany in May).

France: Amaury Vassili – “Sognu”

France have raised the bar for this contest! This is undoubtedly their best entry since 2002. Paris 2012 is sounding a strong possibility. The song is anthemic! It reminds me of Bolero. Torvel and Dean skating around would not surprise me. Think Bolero/Vangelis and this is what you get.

United Kingdom: Blue – “I Can”

Finally, something to be proud of. The United Kingdom could win Eurovision again. This is the UK’s best chance since winning in 1997. After years of people saying that the UK should send an established act – here we have it. They can sing. They have the image. They have the stage presence and experience. They’ll go down well in Dusseldorf.

Estonia: Getter Jaani – “Rockerfeller Street”

Highly rated on lots of websites. A good bet in this year’s contest. Estonia wouldn’t surprise me by winning. The song really grows on you. It could look great on stage. How it comes across on TV will play a huge part it its success.

Norway: Stella Mwangi – “Haba Haba”

This song is addictive. Once heard it stays in your head, whether you like it or not. Norway could take the crown (but, she’ll have to hit some notes on the night and sway the juries). It doesn’t sound particularly Norweigan… But hey. It does sound more than a little reminiscent of Shakira’s World Cup 2010 anthem “Waka Waka”.

They are the five I’ll be keeping an eye on. Closely followed by Bosnia-Herzegovina, Poland and Hungary. It’s Eurovision and nothing can be discounted.

You may also like reading:

Eurovision: More than one night in May.

Bucks Fizz: 30 years since their victory.


Great Guidebooks: Don’t travel without one.

The start of my collection…

I’m not a fan of bulky travel guides. They may be suitable for travelling by car, but when there are flights involved then it’s far better to have something light and easy that pops in your pocket.

I’m also not a big fan of large fold-out maps – who thought that they would be a great idea. Once unfolded they become a wind trap, they rip easily and are practically impossible to fold back together. I’m no origami expert!

That said, I was chuffed pleased thilled to discover the Everyman May Guides. A guidebook and a map all rolled into one perfect, pocket-sized friend. I love them! I’ve used them on a couple of trips and they pass the tourist test of mine.

Happy traveller here! (Recent trips to Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, Barcelona and Munich).

One of the fold out district maps (Amsterdam).

Each city is divided into districts. Each double page inside looks at one district and lists restaurants, pubs, bars, music venues and shops that are worth a visit. The page then folds out to reveal a small map with that section of the city. Perfect! It folds out – It folds away. The next double page had more of the same. Handy information for the part of the city that you’re actually in.

The guide also contains an overview map (showing the districts – all colour coded) and transport information. It’s all in the book! Everything you need it one little book.

Surely travel is meant to be simple. Sometimes it is better to spend time on trips and holidays enjoying the sights rather than reading through a bulky 700 page guide.

Happy travels everyone!

 You may also like to read some of my travel posts:

My travel map so far (as of Nov ’10)

Booking disaster!

A flight to remember.

Preparation and organisation tips.

Prague: Czech it out and check the John Lennon Wall out too.

….the list goes on and they’re all  –

Why do people feel the need to jump on the bandwagon and use this .com ending as though it’s the funniest thing ever heard? I look on Facebook, Twitter and all over the net and see it more than 10 times a week in updates, statuses, comments etc.

“Just had 17 beers…. I’m”

“Weekend is here –”


My is about all the comments which I find!

Please find something more to put instead…… Please.

Rant over……


The 10 Driving Commandments!

Other drivers never cease to amaze me. How did half the drivers on the road ever pass their test?

I passed my driving test at 17 years of age. I was given driving lessons as a present. “Wonderful, a passage to adulthood and freedom”. 14 years on, I think I’m a pretty decent driver. I’ve had a couple of accidents bumps…. Not all my own fault (but everybody probably says that).

In a recent poll online a massive 90% of drivers said that they were ‘good/very good’ drivers. Astounding – they can’t all be so good. I’ve been out on the roads around Europe and I beg to differ.

So, I’ve decided to compile the 10 Commandments of Driving.

I. Thou shalt use those things known as indicators.

Why do people think that the drivers around them have psychic abilities enabling them to predict the manoeuvres of the driver in front. Use those indicators guys….. Oh, and when I say use them, I mean use them before you start turning. It’s a bit late to flick the lights on when you’re halfway around the corner.

II. Thou shalt not sit in the middle lane.

Why, oh why? This is the most annoying habit. The United Kingdom is the place to visit if you want to see the commandment being broken. British drivers are awful when it comes to motorway driving. It’s not uncommon to see the inside and outside lanes empty as drivers queue behind each other in the middle. Why?

III. Thou shalt not use the mobile while driving.

Texting and phoning whilst driving really gets to me. How many times do we have to sit and wait at traffic lights for the driver in front who is so self-absorbed in what they’re doing with the mobile rather than driving. Ban them! Ban them!

IV. Thou shalt not pick one’s nose whilst driving.

Please see previous post about this subject.

V. Thou shalt not take 2 hours to get in and out of a parking space wide enough for a bus to fit in.

Some people think that their car is clearly a lot bigger than it actually is.

VI. Thou shalt not worship chav* idols.

Fluffy dice are out! Dangly bunnies, kittens and dream catchers were never in. Nodding dogs on the back shelf – say no more……. (* chav = see full description here).

VII. Thou shalt not perform ‘acts’ whilst driving.

By this I think I have re-captured your attention. Let’s just say, you should not be doing anything you wouldn’t want your mother to know about whilst the vehicle is in motion.

VIII. Thou shalt not weave in and out of other cars.

Driving is not a skill connected with tapestry work, but some drivers think that by zooming across all lanes, in and out and side to side that they are saving time. It rarely works.

IX. Thou shalt not display signs with absolutely no purpose.

These signs (and they’re everywhere) don’t make logical  or meaningful sense to me. What are the possible reasons? To make drivers drive better around you? Shouldn’t we all be doing that anyway? Then there is the argument that when they are in a crash the first on the scene can attend to the baby. This idea is flawed considering half the cars I see don’t have a child or baby in them. So instead of only using the sign when they need too, they leave it up constantly to cause un-due concern in cases of an emergency.

X. Thou shalt not drive as though our cars are connected. Keep your distance!

This happens all the time in The Netherlands. I cannot bear it. Some drivers stop their car so close that I’m convinced that they’re trying to read something on the back of my car. Keep back!

Feel free to pass this on to any drivers that you can think of that could do with a little reminder.

Happy driving people!

Invisible: I was not.

Long summers. Playing outside until the street lights came on or until it was too dark to see across the garden. Building dens. Climbing on the garden shed, even though it was banned. I loved my childhood. I had the best times with my brother, Nigel and my two neighbours Becky and Ben.

Becky was my partner in crime. We lived two doors away from one another and did everything together. Becky was 18 months younger than me, but was no wallflower. We laughed together – squabbled together -fell out – made up, but had the time of our lives. I’m smiling now, thinking back to the fun of the 1980s.

It was after the hurricane of 1989 that the fences in the back garden were blown down. 8 fence panels all ripped out over night. The next morning we looked out to see pieces of fence all strewn across the garden. It took quite a while to clear up. I was about 10 years old and keen to help as much as possible (I think). Maybe I’m looking back with those rose-tinted glasses.

My neighbours has one son, a lot older than we were. We were always peeking through the fence to see what was happening on the other side. It was all very exciting as a child. But, when he got a girlfriend the spying continued. We’re stand and giggle. Once the fence was down though we would wave then run and hide. It was more fun than it sounds.

On one afternoon, we’d played games, cycled, been to the park and back. A great day! We returned to my back garden and noticed the teenage neighbour with his girlfriend in the room. We giggled about it. Kissing was something to laugh at still. (Eeewgh – the thought of kissing…..) We crept towards the house, keeping ourselves well hidden. A brick wall divided the patio areas at the rear of the houses and so we tried to get as close to the window to have a really good look.

Feeling brave I got onto my knees and crept on the ground until I was right underneath next door’s window. I’d have a great view from here. I felt invisible. (I clearly thought, being ten years old, that my actions were on par with James Bond)….. I slowly, very slowly began to stand up…… I inched towards the window sill…. A few more centimetres and I would peek in through the window……

I froze! Stunned silent! My eyes locked onto the eyes of my neighbour. The mother! She stood in the room about 10 centimetres away from the glass on the inside. She knew! Her face was stern. I swallowed. Caught out!

Clearly the moral to this story is. Don’t peep on your neighbours. Don’t think you’re better at sneaking around than you really are. Prepare for a good telling off by the mum if you do get caught.

Ah – memories!!! (It wasn’t my idea…. Does that count?)

Slicing through London’s skyline.

London’s skyline is set for a new landmark. The Shard of Glass in Southwark is a striking piece of architecture. Cutting into the sky like a piece of glass it will reach a height of 1,017 ft (310 m). Due for completion in 2012, the Shard will become the tallest building in the European Union and the 45th tallest building in the world.

Photo from Wikipedia (Artist Impression)

Known as the Shard London Bridge, Shard of Glass, 32 London Bridge or simply The Shard – no matter what the name it is known by, the building will stay in the memory of everyone!

It has been designed with various triangular shapes connected and will be covered in glass from the base to the very tip. For the brave visitors out there, there will be an open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor (right at the top).

I know where I’ll be visiting next year! What a vision.

Three superimposed images showing how the Shar...

Image via Wikipedia