Last Sunday I ran the fifth Ealing Half Marathon in London. It was my first time running the Ealing marathon, which only started after I moved away from Ealing to São Paulo.
I had been training all over the place in September and my travel schedule was a bit crazy just before the race. Leading up to September 25th (race day) I was training in Serra Negra (São Paulo), São Paulo itself, Oxford, Montreal, New York City, and London. Even though I had quite a few flights this month, I still managed to get up and go out for a run each day. One day when I was travelling from Oxford to Montreal that meant taking a run at 5am in Oxford then catching a 7am train to the airport and being in Montreal by 5pm that same evening.
The Ealing race was really well organised. The race day team were excellent and there was no stress collecting my race number or dropping my bag off at the start. The weather was perfect too. It had been raining early in the morning, but had cleared up for the race start at 9am. It was a little chilly, but dry, so it was perfect for a long race.
I started the race intending to aim for a 1:45 time, but I found myself soon following the 1:40 pacers and finding that the pace was OK. I decided to stick with them as I was not having any trouble. There are a few long gentle hills in the race, but the pacers were excellent. Not only did they let us know when the hills would end, they got the crowd excited as we passed by.
Once I was 3-4km from the end and I knew that I could finish even if I put in more effort, I started running faster than the pacers. Eventually I completed the race in 1:38:21, which is my best half marathon time.
It’s a great location and a great race and really well organised. I know that I live far away, but as the 2017 race is on my birthday I might have to find an excuse to be back in London for that one!
If you Google “Ealing Tweetup” thousands of results pop up. That’s because this event is still one of the biggest social media focused events in London, even though it has retained a strong community-focused non-commercial spirit.
I kicked it off back in 2009, but I’ve been living outside the UK for over 4 years now so it’s fantastic to see that the event is still regularly running in Ealing. Michael Greer is now looking after it with the Ealing Hour team and from what I can see online it is still a great event.
I’m leaving Brazil tomorrow and after a quick stop in New York I will be in London by Saturday. I’m going to be at the next tweetup, which is on Tuesday September 8th at The Forester in Ealing. Tickets are free and I’d love to say hello in London.
Click here to register for the event and please say hello on Twitter before the event. I’m @markhillary on Twitter, Periscope, and Instagram 🙂
The video below is from December 2010 outside the Kings Arms pub in Ealing, west London. I was leaving London for São Paulo, but I had about a week left between leaving my home near the pub and leaving the country – so I lived in the pub for those final few days in England.
I’ve stayed there again on a couple of visits back to London and I’m happy to say that I’ll be there for the duration of the London Olympic games in July and August… I have my flights booked and three weeks living in the pub.
What could be better than London in the summer, with the Olympics going on, and home being a London W5 boozer?
I had visited Brazil a few times before I moved here to live, so I was aware that they take security pretty seriously. Supermarkets and banks have armed guards, apartment blocks are surrounded by impenetrable steel cages, and all the police are armed – even the humblest traffic cop.
But when I moved into my house, a few things struck me as unusual. Every window has steel bars – like a jail – and both the front and back doors are protected by big steel bars too.
When I moved in, it was unnerving and unusual. My front door in Muswell Hill opened onto the street, my front door in Ealing was not facing the street, but there was nothing to stop anyone walking up to the door. The open spaces at the front of houses, gardens for example, just don’t really exist here. If a house or apartment black has a garden then it is behind bars so only the residents can possibly access it.
Walking down a main street late at night is also strange. Every shop, bar or restaurant will have steel shutters. I know there are some shops in London that pull shutters down at night, but not every single shop. It’s quite normal to walk past shops late at night where only a pane of glass stands between you and their stock.
This sense of security makes me think of when I have visited Luxembourg. The head of state lives in a palace in the city centre that any member of the public can approach. You can walk up and have a look through the window. They don’t feel any need to erect barriers.
Quite a contrast to the average apartment-dweller in Brazil who only feels safe living inside a cage.
But, with the riots in London and across the UK over the past week, will this fear of the unknown and underclass pervade society so bars go up and steel shutters become essential?
I hope not, but I’m expecting the worst.
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Tagged apartment, armed, bar, brasil, brazil, ealing, freedom, gun, house, iron, luxembourg, muswell hill, police, riot, sao paulo, security, shutter, steel
Back in December I said farewell to all my possessions at my home in Ealing. A truck came to collect box after box of stuff. I wasn’t bothering to ship anything big to Brazil – no furniture and I gave away a dozen or so big boxes of books. It was just books, clothes, my drums, and a few other things.
It cost me about £1,500 to ship 27 boxes to Brazil.
I thought that was the end of it. Surely that money covers the cost of shipping and any taxes… that’s what I thought.
I found out that the port in Brazil holds the boxes and they need to be checked by the police, customs, and the port authority. All these various agencies have paperwork that has to be completed individually. Eventually, once I realised that it was going to be weeks of chasing paper, we appointed a ‘fixer’ at the port – authorised to handle all the paperwork on our behalf.
The fixer alone was another £400. But it really was weeks of effort completing the paperwork – the boxes left Ealing on December 14th. They were only just opened and checked by the police today. they got a green light so I can now arrange to go and collect them all.
Unfortunately, the port charges rent for the space used by the boxes while all the paperwork is processed. It seems like a scam because you can’t avoid the paperwork, so whatever the port wants to charge, you have to pay.
So with the rent, the fees for the various agencies, and the fixer fee, it was another £1,500 for me to go and collect the boxes at this end…
If I had known that shipping some books and clothes would cost me £3,000 I could have sold everything in London and added that money to the £3,000 saved and gone to the shops in Brazil!
I wrote on my Computer Weekly blog here about the handover of the Ealing Tweetup to Hayden and all the other regulars at the event. It’s been a lot of fun putting these events together and seeing how the event has grown over time – it’s a shame to say goodbye, but I’m sure it’s going to continue growing because the event has a great amount of momentum behind it now.
When I could see the event getting bigger I thought about how it could easily be sponsored. Getting some free food and drinks would make it more attractive to the regulars and would help to start bringing in a bigger audience.
Of course, getting corporate sponsorship is a double-edged sword. It’s great to get free drinks, but it can be hard to keep something like a Tweetup as an informal gathering once companies start pumping money into the event. They want to know who is attending, what company attendees are from, what position they hold, and especially whether there are any people from the media in attendance – being close to the BBC and Sky in west London that’s been quite a common occurrence anyway.
But I don’t think we ever let the sponsorship take over the tweetup. People have been directed together, go and have a chat to so-and-so, but there has never been a formal name-list, name badges, list of attendees. It’s never been that kind of event and I hope it stays that way, even if it means buying a pint in future.
I’m really grateful to the companies that have sponsored the Tweetup – namely 1e and Xerox. They have all realised that to go ‘too corporate’ would ruin their involvement in the event and instead of people feeling genuine gratitude at their help in pulling together something interesting, there would have been a negative reaction at any over-controlling nature.
I hope future sponsors of this, and similar events, can also see the value in getting positive mentions online and building relationships with the blogging community. Good luck for the future tweetups in Ealing!
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Tagged 1e, band, BBC, bible, biblecode sundays, celtic, code, concert, corporate, ealing, ealingtu, gig, irish, music, sponsor, tweetup, xerox