Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Why Salsa Dancing is the Perfect Hobby

Last year I began taking salsa classes. I was shy and overweight. Now I am far less shy and the correct weight- approximately a year after getting into salsa. There has been a steady improvement in my weight, fitness and shyness over the past year.

I have been reading self improvement books and tried cycling more often, but I believe salsa dancing has had the biggest effect. It is the compound effect (I got this from one of the books I read), which is like the snowball effect. The more I socialised, the easier it became. When you go to salsa classes and then salsa socials, you will get asked to dance by strangers. You will soon find it easy to ask others to dance too. Then you can't help but make friends with regulars.

Salsa dancing isn't an extreme exercise, but apparently we should be doing natural movements rather than intensive gym work. This is something else I have learned from a self help book I read this year (Blue Zones). Although my weight loss has been slow, it has been noticeable- which kept me interested in regular attendance at classes.

Besides the two benefits above, salsa has introduced me to the amazing world of Latin music. I have become a big fan of Buena Vista Social Club, The Fania Allstars, Antonio Carlos Jobim and many more Latin artists and bands. I have amassed a rather impressive collection of albums from Cuban jazzy salsa to smooth Brazilian bossanova.

Being a resident of Manchester in the UK, the weather is usually grey skies and regular rain. There is just something about Latin music which makes me feel more upbeat and happy. It is summery music and is ideal to lift my mood. I used to use the best of Madness, but that one CD has been very over played in my car. Now I have 20+ Latin albums to choose from too. All good vibes- making me feel like it is summer and reminding me of the fun I have at salsa classes and socials.

I highly recommend salsa dancing to anyone who wants a new hobby. Especially if you are like me and overweight and/or shy. It is a hobby literally for all ages. I have seen kids dancing to salsa and OAPs. Give it a try and you too may also get a new lease of life. Just look in your local paper or better still find a website listing classes in your area e.g. I typed in Salsa classes Manchester and got a website listing all salsa classes and socials in and around my region. Generally the prices are very fair and the standard is good (in terms of teachers and venues), at least in Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

My New Favorite Filipino Food in London

I used to live in the Philippines for business, now I am in the UK. Filipino cuisine is very much an underrated food (if you get the good stuff) and I love catching up with my favorites like adobo and laing- his one can kill you if not cooked properly: the leaves are poisonous if not cooked long enough, but it tastes great (coconut and green leaves).

Anyway I have a couple of restaurants I like to visit in London but this month a new one opened. They seem to be getting pretty amazing press and I can understand why. The restaurant serves Filipino cuisine with a contemporary twist. It is exciting and delicious. Best of all they have both of my favorite dishes on the menu.

Luzon Restaurant is just doing a "pop up" run for a couple of months, but I am sure they will go ahead with their plans for a full opening next year. Click on the photos below to go through to their website menu page. If you are like me your mouth will also be watering at the descriptions.

Filipino restaurant London
Small selection of the food at LUZON Filipino Restaurant London 
I have been twice so far and will certainly be returning at least once more before they close in Autumn. They change the menu each month so I am waiting for September for my next "feeding".

If you Google them you will see videos of the restaurant, including one of a feature on Filipino TV! I have a feeling filipino cuisine will be the next big thing.

Luzon is located down a pretty non descript alleyway in Russell Square in London. You should use the image and directions on their bookings page at http://www.luzon.co.uk/reservations/ and you can request a booking online which is pretty cool.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Best and Worst Cities to Invest in Property

Property can be a wonderful investment. We only have so much land and if you have a prime location, you can make a killing. McDonalds is often referred to as a real estate company as their restaurants are in such amazing locations. If they were to sell the building and the land they would make a killing most times.

The current Worst Place in the World to Invest in Property is East Asia

China is not somewhere anyone would even consider investing in right now. There are whole cities which have turned into ghost towns. Watch the very good Vice documentary on this below:

Beside China, Thailand is also a place I would not advise you invest in Property. I believe Thailand is where a bubble is about to burst.

Personal debt is spiralling out of control and a slew of ignorant building projects have left the real estate industry on thin legs. One example is in the capital city of the north of Thailand, Chiang Mai, where 4 luxury malls opened up in a single year. There are only 150,000 living in the city and there were already 2 large malls. At least one of these new developments is doomed to failure with most betting on the extremely quiet Promenada.

If you could find a great value building contractor in Thailand, you may get something back on your investment, but it wouldn't be quick and it would also be fairly unlikely. You would need a good guy on the ground who can source quality imported workers from next door; Mayanmar (Burma). If it was me I would just say don't get involved, at least until the bubble bursts which should be fairly soon.

The Current Best Place in the World to Invest in Property is Dubai and the rest of the United Arab Emirates

The reason why Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi make great investments is because of their location and their recovery from the world financial recession of 2008. Check out Bling Dubai to see how the place is prospering with exotic restaurants, bars and adventures.

The UAE is a travel hub which connects Asia to Europe. Most flights use the 3 airlines for the 3 mentioned states; Emirates for Dubai, Qatar for Qatar and Etihad for Abu Dhabi. All are excellent airlines and Emirates was even voted the very best in 2013.

Dubai suffered its own economic downturn in 2006, two years before the global recession hit. This was actually a positive in terms of todays situation. The real estate market is set to peak mid way through 2015, making now the perfect time to invest.

I would choose Dubai over the others simply because Dubai is the one which has done the most to stand out. Etihad have sponsored Manchester City football club and the football World Cup will be held in Qatar, but they just aren't enough when you think back to what Dubai has achieved.

Dubai's rise came from oil money which began flowing like water in the late 60s. This has help fund the perfect planned city. What was once a dessert is now a bustling metropolis with every modern luxury and then some.
Dubai has gone that little bit farther than anyone else, to break records and astound the world with extravagant building projects. The construction companies in Dubai like F&A Contracting find that they have a constant stream of customers who want exciting projects such as luxury mansions and villas.

The fact that Dubai is now a travel hub means that there is no bubble to burst. It has had it's ups and downs and has survived admirably, thanks to some intelligent governing.

If I was looking for a project to invest in right now it would be a luxury home in Dubai, in fact I just recommended the above company to a friend a week ago.

Trends are hard to predict but I expect prices to rise slightly and then peak approximately mid way through the year. From then on I would expect 3-5 years of steady valuations.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Moving to Manchester and Learning the Slang

Manchester seems to be a region of the UK with lots of slang words and phrases. The most baffling one for me is that they call dinner "tea". Sounds crazy doesn't it?

I will soon be living in Manchester for a while so decided to look up some local terms. The Manchester Evening News had a great page for words and phrases that a "Manc" would use.

I also found the video below at a local school where you can learn English in Manchester. It appears they also address local phrases and words as well as English courses. Check out the video to get a feel for the accent too.

The description of the video sums up the phrases they focus on. Ones that were new to me included "mardy" meaning grumpy, "blinder" meaning great time and the others I knew or kind of half knew.

If you are going to live in Manchester I recommended saving the video and the newspaper link so that you fit in easier. If you can speak like the locals fo you will find communication much easier.

I went to Newcastle once with no research into local phrases and words. It felt like I was almost in another country at times. I had to get some Geordies to explain really basic things for them, which was embarrassing. So this time I am going prepared for Manchester.

If you think any words or phrases have been left out please add them in the comments below. This is probably my last post of the year. I hope everyone had a great Christmas (I still feel bloated) and...

Have a Happy New Year

Monday, 15 December 2014

Should I or Shouldn't I Move to Chiang Mai

I am thinking about dropping everything and going off around the world. I work online mostly and recon as long as I have a decent internet connection, I should be able to do it.

There are these guys calling themselves digital nomads and living in places like Chiang Mai in Thailand semi long term. There are plenty of other hotspots for these guys in Indonesia, Vietnam and outside of Asia.

The more I read up on this the more I think I want to do it. Especially with the January to March grey skies of the UK coming up. On the other hand there is the dangerous smokey season in Chiang Mai at this time. Hmmm, we shall see.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Cool Home Office Furniture

So I gave up my job last month as you may or may not know, in order to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Working from home has always been a dream of mine and it is now time to get things in order. Planning out a comfortable home office was top of my to do list. Here are the ideas I have come up with so far…


This desk is perfect for me. It has the modern yet retro style with clean curves. This should help to free space in your mind if you manage to avoid clutter. At least that is what I am thinking. I’m not sure where to find this one but this is the style I am after.


I originally started looking at more attractive seating for my desk. Then I realised that to increase productivity you need to go ergonomic. This ugly looking creating is very well rated and should be conductive to long writing sessions. It is on sale at the moment from Office Furniture Online for just £129, which is far cheaper than many similar chairs.

Lounge Chair

Regular breaks are essential and a comfortable place to take 5 is going to hep me recharge my batteries. This chair is stylish and comes with it’s own foot rest. I can just see myself relaxing with a book, meditating or dosing off in this thing. This costs £139.99 from Fabulous Furniture.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Xmas Gifts for Holidays and Sports

I have been getting into fitness recently so thought it would be a good idea to merge sport and travel in my Xmas gift ideas post.  Below you should find a gift or two for loved ones this holiday season.

Xmas Gift For Skiers

Part of my new getting in shape lifestyle has been about learning to ski. I have been to an indoor slope for lessons and my coach recommended the Sweetspot Ski Trainer to me too. It is an inexpensive little gadget that you use at home. Basically just attach it to your boots and then practice skiing.

The Sweetspot is quite big news at the moment in skiing circles because it really does mimic the feeling of skiing on snow. Anyway I own a pair and have been using it to prepare for my winter ski holiday in Switzerland. I haven’t done the real thing yet but skiing felt much easier and more natural at the indoor slope after a short time using the Sweetspot. Check out the video below for more information:

Xmas Gift for Gadget Lovers

I have been a bit of a gadget geek this year, reading and watching reviews of phones and tablets. When it comes to phones the HTC One was the top choice earlier in the year. Then the iPhone 5s came out and now looks to be the number 1 choice.

But my Xmas gift idea for gadget lovers has to be the new iPad Air. I haven’t bought one yet but it looks spectacular. The standard iPads were always too big and heavy for me so I have been using the Mini version. I was planning on getting the new Retina Mini but the reduction in weight and size of the full sized iPad has convinced me to move up to the larger size.

It isn’t cheap, especially if you want more than the basic 16 GB of memory, but it is a fantastic device with amazing reviews from everyone who has one so far. The size and weight will make it a joy to use when on holiday.

Xmas Travel Stocking Fillers

Here is a list of items which can be bought as small gifts:

- Quick drying, small packing travel towels. These can be found very cheaply on eBay or get a brand name for better quality.

- Power banks are small battery charging devices which most travellers will find very useful for recharging phones and tablets.  Prices vary but look for one with a large capacity and slim size.

- Other phone and tablet accessories. There are thousands of extras you can buy for devices now. Find out what your recipient owns then get on Amazon and find them a useful accessory. I am a big fan of rubber protective cases for travel. A good pair of earphones or lightweight headphones would also make a good gift. Owners of large tablets may appreciate a bluetooth keyboard. Portable bluetooth speakers are also a great idea.

Christmas Gift for Women who don't need anything sporty

OK, so I asked my wife this year what equipment she needed. None was the reply. I went through all our hobbies and sports and just didn't get a single hint. Sometimes you just have to stick to the classics, so I used my go-to company for very nice perfume and ordered some which I hope is to her liking, the last two from Jizan Perfumes were excellent.

Jizan Perfumes
Jizan Perfumes are an international fragrance retailer with impressive prices