The Millau Bridge And Montpellier

June 2, 2013


ViaducdeMillau

The Millau Viaduct

Recently I took a short break to the south-west of France, flying Bristol to Beziers. The benefit of small airports, apart from cheap flights, is that you’re both on and off very quickly!

We planned to take a look at the famous Millau Bridge (more precisely a viaduct) but didn’t have time for it in the end. From Wikipedia:

The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed road-bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. Designed by the French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux, in collaboration with architect Norman Robert Foster, it is the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with one pier’s summit at 343 metres (1,125 ft) — slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower and only 38 m (125 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building. It was formally dedicated on 14 December 2004 and opened to traffic two days later.

However flying out of Beziers, we glanced down and even then it was pretty hard to miss – incredibly impressive!

On one of the days we went to Montpellier, which we’d heard good reports of and were quite surprised at both it’s size and differing styles. Some interesting facts and figures are:

Montpellier is one of the French people’s three favourite cities for its attractive living and working conditions. Over the past 20 years, Montpellier has grown to become France’s 8th largest city. Montpellier is also the city with the highest demographic growth in France, with 43% of the population under 30 years old. Today, the Montpellier agglomeration area has a population of 420,000. According to Insee forecasts this could grow by an additional 300,000 people by 2030.

The city has two large and quite separate parts. The old town has myriad streets like this, with many bars and small restaurants

2013-05-25 Montpellier 1

And major historical buildings like the Opera House (below)

2013-05-25 Montpellier 2

And the new part, which, in sharp contrast, has views like this

2013-05-25 Montpellier 5

2013-05-25 Montpellier 4

Quite an unusual mixture of styles. There’s a good tram system so it’s easy to go from one part to the other (there’s quite a distance between them).

I’d like to go back there again and explore further as Montpellier really caught my imagination (cheap direct flights are readily available).

Picture credit: Millau Viaduct.


The Business Show, London, 6-7 June 2013

May 31, 2013

The 29th Business Show will be held at ExCeL (London Docklands) over 6-7 June 2013. Free tickets are available here.

The show will feature seminars/speakers, workshops and speed networking opportunities together with some special events such as the Angels Den and The Boardroom.

They advertise a very wide range of speakers, including James Caan, Felicity McCarthy (Facebook) and Levi Roots, so it sounds like there should be something for everyone.

I went to a previous Show (the 26th, held in November 2010, writeup here) and was quite impressed. In particular, I enjoyed (and felt quite inspired by) the talks of James Caan, who will also be speaking at the coming show, and Penny Power.

Here’s their advice on speed-networking opportunities:

The Pitch?

Can you comprehensively describe your business and intentions in just one minute? It’s harder than it sounds, which is why it must be perfect. Pitch perfect. Don’t waste anyone’s time, including your own.

Here are our top tips for speed networking:

  • Be genuine, don’t exaggerate or embellish.
  • Be concise, don’t digress or waffle
  • Know your goals, what you want to say and achieve
  • Know your business, what it can offer, what it needs
  • Understand and convey why your business is special
  • Have confidence – you’ll be recognised as a strong resource
  • Bring an abundance of quality business cards
  • Follow up! Schedule time in your diary to return calls and catch up with fellow networkers. If you don’t, it’ll be a waste of everyone’s time.

The Great British Business Show – November 2012

October 15, 2012

I attended a similar Business Show in November last year and it was rather good. I’ve attended quite a few of these types of events in the past and I thought I’d become rather jaded but it was definitely worth the visit. It’s also free (just register).

22-23 November 2012, Olympia, London – full details here.

Rather usefully, they give a checklist:

We understand that when you’re running a business, time is money. That’s why we recommend that you carefully plan your time at The Great British Business Show, to ensure you get the most out of the event.

With more than 200 exhibitors and over 140 seminars – and a series of live events to participate in over the event’s two days – The Great British Business Show 2011 will be the UK’s largest event for growing businesses.

This checklist, as well as the glossy showguide that will be sent out to all pre-registered ticket holders prior to the event, should help you with your planning and preparations – so that you don’t miss out on anything that could potentially help you propel your business forward.

Between now and the show, you need to think about which options for expanding your business that you’d most like to explore, so you can prioritise them at the event. However, keep in mind that the perfect strategy for your business’ growth could be something that you’ve not yet thought of – so make sure you keep an open mind at The Great British Business Show!

If you’re thinking of giving a pitch these tips might also be handy – it’s surprising how many people ignore/forget them :-(


Tiny Desk Concerts

July 21, 2012

Tiny Desk Concerts: intimate performances, recorded live at the desk of All Songs Considered with host Bob Boilen. A clever and simple idea!

Lots of them and all very good.

Two recent examples:


Being Phony

June 23, 2012

“If you’re phony, they will feel it in the farthest row of the arena. You have to really care. And you have to make yourself care time and time again.” – Tom Petty (musician)

Picture credit: here.


Remember To Have Some Fun!

June 1, 2012

It’s a long weekend in the UK, starting tomorrow, due to The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

If you’re not quite in holiday mood, watching this video of Conan O’Brien’s Commencement Speech at Harvard should change all that!

Quite excellent :-)

I’ll go now, to make bigger mistakes and to embarrass this fine institution even more. But let me leave you with one last thought: If you can laugh at yourself loud and hard every time you fall, people will think you’re drunk.

Picture credit: here.


It’s World Towel Day!

May 25, 2012

Watching BBC Breakfast this morning, I was surprised to find out that it’s World Towel Day today – May 25th! It celebrates the life and work of the author Douglas Adams (best known as the creator of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

To give a flavour of the towel theme:

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Here are some nice quotes of Douglas Adams including

Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.

The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks.

The cast of the BBC radio show has reunited and will be touring the UK during June and July 2012 – I saw a excerpt, it looks really good, so catch it if you can!

Picture credit: here.


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