Time for Tea!

I’ve been here so many times before that it’s no longer funny!!  Lying in bed in a Japanese hotel room at 4 am in the morning with my body clock screwed and feeling guilty that there’s email to read and respond to, Skype message threads to review and now, the latest, Whatsapp threads, when email just won’t do!

Finally the silent flashing on my phone becomes too much to bear – who’s the call from, do I need to urgently respond? In any event, it wasn’t urgent but now I’m up so might as well have a peak at those emails!

Hey Siri, what’s the time in England?  Always best to check before I launch into a phone call back home! It’s now 8pm in Blighty and nowadays so easy to put a call in back home or even Facetime!

It was quite different back in 1989 when I first ventured over to Japan.  It was a ‘lonnnnng’ three week trip and in addition to meetings and work, had included much sightseeing from Tokyo to ‘ancient city of Kyoto’ and over to Osaka.  Everything was alien, the transport system, simply getting from A to B, the incredible food, so many different styles from Teriyaki, Teppanyaki, Tempura and sushi and sashimi. I recall sitting in a noodle bar, being instructed how to slurp my noodles in a noisy fashion, to make the cool air pass over the noodle. It made sense but seated amongst the suited ‘salarymen’ of Tokyo, it was kinda weird!

Japan is a contradiction, incredibly modern at times and at the forefront of technology but played out against a traditionalism and a culture of respect and conservatism that would better suit England in the fifties!

I do remember that trying to call home back in the 90’s involved a complicated routine of prepaid phone card numbers and steps to get put through and the line sounded like it really was traveling those 6000 miles!  Nowadays, the iPhone takes care of it and I can hear my dogs barking in the background!

One thing I have learnt is to bring my own tea and some UHT milk. Japanese green tea or orange tea may be fine as an alternative to an after dinner Espresso(!), but when the jetlag is kicking in and there’s a full day ahead, I need a brew!

tea
Essential English Tea!

Okay, my iPhone, iPad and laptop are now all connected to the internet and I have a hot cup of tea in my palmed hands, so let’s dive into some email!!

Lights! Camera! Action!

The resulting video was the result of an initial email enquiry by ITN to me whilst I was up in Lancashire; ‘We want to come down and shoot a piece on SPICE, Special People on ICE and the temporary rink closure’ said the voice down the phone when I called. ‘Great’ I had said, ‘we run every Sunday from 10:30 till 12:15 fifty two weeks a year’

The voice at the other end of the phone listened and then said, ‘We want to come tomorrow around 1pm so we can run it on the evening’s show at 6 pm’!!

The good people of SPICE sprung into action and over the next 18 hours we received texts and emails from parents and volunteers confirming that ‘somehow’ they would be there to support us.

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As the video demonstrates, we indeed had a great turnout from some diehard members and volunteers and we were able to put on a great show, even managing the ‘Hokey Kokey’ as a finale!!

The fun and excitement we had yesterday obscured the reason why we had all hustled to be there.  Our rink is closing in October with the promise of a shiny new refurnished rink but with no temporary provision.

In the eyes of the council, there’s no money to provide anything temporary but where does that leave us, SPICE, the 160 young hockey players of the Slough Jets junior program, the four synchronised skating teams, the elite skaters as well as the good people of Slough, whilst this takes place?

Surely in 2016 we can explore some options, a phased reconstruction, an empty building on the Slough Trading Estate, a temporary rink such as those that spring up round the country during the holiday season?

I can’t but help feel that if our council would only accept my invitation to come down and see SPICE in action, then they would at least understand why we are so passionate about keeping what has taken fourteen years to build, whilst the refurbishment takes place.

So my message to  Slough Borough Council is clear; come down and meet us. Speak to our members and parents and let’s share both sides of the story and develop a plan.

We’re here every Sunday, 52 weeks a year, well that is of course, until the rink shuts in October.

SPICE on ITV

If It Ain’t Broke!!

Every Christmas I have a few days off. During that time, when it may be a bit too cold or wet to go out for a ride on my bike, I turn my attention to my website.

A message in the admin area always catches my attention – please update to the latest version as there are security vulnerabilities, yada, yada yada!!  Okay, so I start tinkering with the back end of the site which incidentally, is created in Drupal.

Now, to be honest, a good friend of mine created it with me sitting at his side nodding that I understood what he was doing – he got me on the Drupal bus! (Thanks Jules!)

This Christmas was no exception. Turkey, mince pies and website tweaking!  This time though, when I say that I broke it, I mean that I really broke it!  Like really really broke it.  ‘Well surely you backed up the database and could execute some Mysql command to get it all back?’ I hear you say?

Well, no and so I ditched it. I decided that there would no more messing about with Drupal and not fully understanding how to tweak the CSS or even run updates in maintenance mode.  I took the plunge and built a new site in WordPress.

I have to say that I’ve been really impressed with the simplicity of WordPress, the tons of useful plugins that are available, and ‘touch wood’ we’re rocking!

You’ll find my new website at http://www.spiceskating.org and I’d be really grateful if you’d check it out and if you like it, please leave a comment.

SPICE website

Next Christmas, I think I’ll put my name down for some overtime!!

What exactly is SOCAL?

So I’m back from Southern California or SOCAL as they call it!

I’ve brought with me a really bad head cold – I couldn’t taste the fantastic curry my wife had prepared and everything sounds like I have my hands over my ears.!

My body clock is screwed. It’s midnight, feels like midday and I’m sitting here, on my Technogym ball, writing this post to you all!

I’m also ten pages into my travelogue of my recent motorbike ride around SOCAL – 600 miles in nearly 3 days and we survived it! Survived what?  Oh, you’re going to need to read my travelogue, if I ever finish it to find out the goss!

So, whats going in on my life at the moment.?

Well, the Slough ice rink in Berkshire is planning to close in nine months time where I spend a lot of my time. There appears to be no provision for a temporary rink whilst the current one is being refurbished. That’s serious bad news and we have to sort this out for all the SPICE members that rely on me to fix things!!  ‘Ricci will make it all right’ said one SPICE member this morning!  No pressure then!

Terry Wogan has just passed away. A real stalwart of radio and of BBC CIN who have supported SPICE for many years. It’s still January 2016 and we’ve already lost DJ ,Ed Stewart,  David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan and Glenn Frey, founder of the Eagles – not a great start to 2016!

If you’re reading this, I’ve managed to work out how to post in my WordPress account.  To those you who are still using Drupal. Move over to WordPress and get your life back!

I’m also assuming that you know what SPICE is. If you don’t, head over to www.spiceskating.org to find out more.

36 years ago, I was in a band that was signed to Rocket Records called Arrogant. As I write, there is a very slim chance that we may reform!

Here’s to February 2016, whatever you may hold instore for us all!

Ricci