This year, I am running the London Marathon for Metro Blind Sports. The charity has been set up to support both Blind and Partially sighted people, to stay active and engage in sporting activities.
Should you be losing your vision, or have had long term sight loss, Sport is something we should not miss out on. It boosts physical fitness, increases confidence and mobility, reduces health risks, and even raises life expectancy.
Wheverever in London you might be, from Greenford to Stratford, from Brent Cross to Bexley, regardless of your skill level or ability, Metro Blind Sports offers plenty for everyone to maintain a good quality of life for individuals who may be otherwise left isolated and at serious health risks.
The charity is mainly run by Blind and Partially Sighted people, offering a full range of sport from Blind Tennis, Football, Cricket, Swimming, Skiing, and a complete range of athletics.
Should you be interested in sponsoring my Marathon run, or if you might be considering volunteering to help at events, please take a look at the Virgin Giving page and/or Metro Blind Sports website. Your support and generosity are indeed much obliged with special thanks.
I will be posting updates of my progress until the actual Marathon day, via Twitter and via the blog. Should you wish to follow my training and fund-raising progress, please take a look at www.tuningpianos.co.uk and visit the blog.
It is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to run for Metro Blind Sports, I hope we will be able to raise some funds for this wonderful, and much appreciated important cause.
It has been quite an eventful winter, both for AMH Pianos as well as for the UK. The Met Office, classifies seasons either based on the Astronomical shifting of the Earth’s axes, or on the meteorological shifting of the temperature patterns. The Astronomical shifts are fairly constant, which therefore, makes the temperature shift based seasons more interesting to study. Having recently seen a Flag of London – yes there is a flag belonging to the City of London, on a very cold and rainy day, I, like my fellow Londoners, could not wait for warmer times, brighter days and sweet sunshine.
According to the Met Office, the end of the Winter is scheduled to be on the 29th of Feb. Now that we have passed Christmas, welcomed 2016 in Conventional, Orthodox and Chinese varieties, and even experienced the full force of love on Valentine’s Day, it is time for outdoor fun, be it picnics in Hyde Park, a trip to Kew Gardens, or even some shopping around Shepherd’s Bush. The longer days also mean more tourists, more running and more outdoor musical events. Yet, one cannot feel a tinge of sadness at the passing of perhaps the season that the UK is designed for.
We celebrate the spring and summer in so many extravagant ways: most of our sports, school holidays, events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, the Proms, or the Notting Hill Carnival,are all geared to appreciate weather that Britain is just not programmed for. Whatever the weather men say, we are still a cold country, where we build snow figures, wear anoraks and carry umbrellas, long for a hot bath, whilst cuddling up in our warm duvets by the fire at night. Any one of these activities is quite easily referred to by our culture as creature comforts. Yet as people, there must be something missing in the bleak mid winter that the woolly jumpers, winter warmers and season of Santa Claus just doesn’t generate the same excitement.
So as I walk with my tuning tools, I would spare one last thought for the wonderful, comfortable winter. I will do that extra yard of warm-up exercise, shield myself from that cold that one last time, and adorn my warm jumper with pride, while sparing a thought to the leap year day, when the seasonal blues end. I say to you oh glorious winter: thanks for the memories, and see you again soon!
Valentine’s Day has been and gone for another year. We gave flowers and exchanged gifts, drank Champagne, ate chocolates, munched strawberries, and even made that someone feel special with our love and affection. Or maybe, we found creative ways to overcome our commercially enhanced sense of loneliness, dreaming of meeting that someone to bring joy and colour in our lives. All said, Valentine’s Day in London is quite an experience, not just for the average consumer, but even for the various service providers across the city and surrounding areas.
Contrary to popular beliefs, the day of love has more on offer than a few cards, trinkets, restaurants and parties. In fact, do you know that a certain WH Smith, started setting up book shops at the various London train stations, with the primary aim of providing single travellers an opportunity to buy a romance novel or two for reading during travel? Most of these shops, still to this day, provide that exact same service across the UK. And expression of love does not have to be all about the money. For this reason, the variety on offer in London is astounding. Be it a quiet walk hand in hand across Hyde Park, a walk around Soho, or perhaps an art exhibition at the Tate Modern, or the V&A Museum, a leisurely stroll around Regents Park, or window shopping in Oxford Street, the various events between Leicester Square and Tottenham Court Road commemorating the Chinese New Year only provide more excuses to enjoy the great outdoors during the love-filled day.
As it turned out, not just the London populus got into the groove this year. A train company, even went as far as replacing its station stops with Valentine’s Day puns: Legally Barnes for Barnes, Rich (in love) mond for Richmond, HounsLove for Hounslow, Cupid Junction for Clapham Junction, and my favourite: Hampton Courting for Hampton Court. Still, London being the metropolitan city it is, a very appropriately love themed Angel ushers in the Flamenco Festival at Sadlers Wells which is only yet more opportunity to express your love all through the week.
“He who is tired of London, is tired of Life.” – Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities.
Have you got a story about love in the capital? Did you meet that someone this Feb. 14th? If not, then how did you seek out relief from the hearts and flowers vibe? Why not discuss in the comments? And from AMH Pianos have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and a lovely rest of 2016 ahead.
On one of my regular Piano Tuning gigs, I passed through the barriers at what is now known as Kings Cross International. Nothing much unusual about this journey, since I use the station routinely.
However, in my day-to-day coverage across London, it does not even occur to me that close to the Disabled Access Point, our favourite friends Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione had boarded the Hogwarts Express. From the station’s interior, right along Euston Road, the magnificent Victorian infrustructure has many sights to admire, and includes plenty of locations where the various films have been shot. This is also the location where J.K. Rowling’s parents had first met.
Strangers walked past me, carrying goodies and even wearing hoodies, from the Harry Potter Shop, and I did wonder, if only for a moment, as to what it might have been like servicing instruments in the magic kingdom. No people! I am not talking about Harry Potter World, which you can actually get to from Kings Cross on the train. I meant all the places where the film locations exist, such as the real Diagon Alley near Temple, or the iconic Craven Street: the street that inspired Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (Cannon Street, or even the walk from the Lambeth Bridge to the Westminster Underground. Bringing the gift of music to so many, even for a brief moment, seemed full of mystery and intrigue, and who knew that London allows you so many chances to even go on a little treasure hunt without putting your hand in your pocket.
Now that the day of the London Marathon is approaching, it occurs to me, whether or not, I might be able to do a treasure run, whereby I could enjoy a popular trail whilst getting fit and ready at the same time. Where should I start? I mean, what would be the safest, most interesting route from, say Greenwich, which ends at the famous Sherlock Holmes Pub? Please let me know your ideas in the comments.
Training for the upcoming London Marathon is not easy! In spite of having already run a considerable amount, just packing in the miles, as any experienced runner would tell you, is simply not enough. There is a range of factors requiring constant ongoing attention; overall fitness, diet, rest and sleep and even the right kind of shoes and sensible clothing depending on the weather. Then again, did I forget to mention AMH Pianos, and the wide area that we cover on a fulltime basis?
Yes it is a gruelling often draining regime from start to finish, literally. Even a standard practice run, lasting a few miles, is able to burn up thousands of calories – thousands more than normal. So why do it? Why should one such as myself pay good money and spend months, training for an event that was first commemorated to honour the sacrifice of a lone Greek soldier who ran a distance of 26 miles to inform the Athenians about an impending Persian attack close to the port city of Marathon? Why endure physical hardship when, at the same time, tuning and moving pianos presents me with physical exertion in the first place?
With over 36, 000 runners participating each year, everyone has their own reason. Some do it for charity whilst others take it upon themselves to prove to their peers and loved ones their own unique abilities. Even more astonishingly, a sizeable group of people do it for a living, hoping to emulate national and international milestones. My sole reason: Metro Blind Sport, a charity of usually understated importance that is battling on perhaps a vital issue blighting the disabled community as a whole: physical fitness. Many people may or may not realise that a blind or partially sighted person may be limited in their overall mobility, which in turn affects their social wellbeing, quality of life and even mental health. Exposing myself and other blind and partially sighted people to a world of physical fitness and adaptive sports is the sole aim of this small London based charity.
As promised I will continue to keep my readers posted on the progress of my training, meanwhile I would appeal to my readers to please donate generously to this wonderful
The New Year has been and gone; fireworks, after-parties, New Year’s resolutions and good wishes all around. In fact, we have probably broken our New Year’s resolutions long ago, and cheery Christmas music and tinsel have long been replaced by the usual chart toppers; the lights are now off amid what many people may describe as the most challenging month of the year. Sounds familiar? No, not quite yet.
Living in London, the Metropolitan capital of the World, is not even close to a dull affair. Just listen beneath the surface and you will notice that celebrations carry on and on. I feel extremely delighted about the fact that, no matter where I am in the City, the Christmas and New Year theme carries on throughout the month of January, meaning that there is a party to attend only a short train ride away.
When most of us are finished with the 12 days of Christmas the following day heralds the arrival of the Armenian, and Greek Orthodox Christmas, followed by the New Year’s celebration around the 14th of January. Fortunately therefore, the large Greek and Armenian communities in London pull out all the stops, culminating in extremely creative, melodic sounds coupled with some of the most iconic rhythms on the planet. You just need to listen.
The month of January also happens to be Black History Month. It is not only a time to remember, and make amends for, our shameful collective past, but also a time for musical education. Be it Caribbean Calypso, African Polyrhythms, various inclinations of Jazz and Soul, there is great music beyond the UK Top 40. Again, you just need to keep your ear out whilst walking the streets of our beautiful capital.
Finally towards the end of the month, we gather together to welcome in the Chinese New Year. This ancient rich culture has played an important role in astrology, ancient mythology, and of course, fascinating music with a completely different perspective to the West. This New Year’s Celebrations are truly a spectacle – one of increasing importance due to the cultural and socio-economic empowerment of China, along with a growing Chinese diaspora.
With so much going on, I do wonder why anybody, especially in London would have a reason to feel depressed just yet. There are great food, fabulous costumes and a colourful vibe on display, all with the opportunity to gain cultural insight and education. One just needs to get involved in the amazing London community and there will be plenty of events at which to give and receive the best wishes for the New Year. Last but not least, wherever you may be reading this, have a great 2016 from AMH Pianos.
I am always fascinated by, and deeply interested in the history of places which I carry out my work of tuning pianos, restoration and repairs, and piano removals. I like to imagine what it might have been like back in time, as London which we know today developed from small villages or even a collection of properties. This is my favourite whistle stop historical account of Lewisham, a vibrant and important borough of London.
Lewisham began its humble Saxon beginnings as Oleofsa’s village. In 862 Lewisham was referred to as LIofshema Mearc, then as Lieuesham in 918 and as Levesham in the Doomsday Book In 1086. Abraham Colfe, Vicar of Lewisham (1610-1657), founded a grammar school, a primary school, and six almshouses for the inhabitants of Lewisham.
In 1816 Lewisham was described as a rural village on the banks of the Ravensbourne that could only be reached by a long coach ride. It’s hard to imagine anyone trying to cover the distance in a day without what TFL has provided us in terms of transportation these days.
In 1828 the Riverdale Mill was built and is the only one of the Ravensbourne mills still surviving today. The Riverdale Mill was initially a leather mill and then became a corn mill in the 18th century. The first railway through Lewisham, the North Kent Line to Dartford, opened in 1849 and the present Lewisham station opened in 1857. In 1897 the Lewisham Clock tower was built to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
The Lewisham Street Market started in 1906 Lewisham town centre was devastated by a flying bomb in 1944, but recovered by the 1950’s. In 1977 the Lewisham Shopping Centre was built and in 1994 the High Street in the town centre was pedestrianised allowing a traffic-free street market and an open space.
Lewisham’s rich history has fed into the vibrant diverse town centre that it is today. The area is bordered by Catford, Deptford, Greenwich and Hither Green. It is a busy shopping district with a good mix of chain and independent stores and Lewisham Shopping Centre, which is one of the biggest in South East London, and Lewisham Market. The market is open seven days a week with the Monday to Saturday market selling mainly fruit, vegetables, fresh cut flowers and a small range of non-perishable goods. The Sunday market is a general market selling non-perishable goods with up to 60 stalls. There is also an annual programme of themed markets, which include, French, Polish, International and a market made up of local traders.
On Lee High Road there is an eclectic mix of independent shops which include an Italian barbers, an accordion shop, a Polish shop and fancy dress shop. At the Ladywell end of Lewisham High Street a pet store, a selection of beauty and hair dressing businesses and a wide selection of specialist food stores can be found.
Lewisham Borough’s famous residents, past and present include Danny Baker (Broadcaster), Kate Bush (singer/song-writer), James Callaghan (Labour Prime Minister), Sir James Clark-Ross (polar explorer), Big Jim Connell (socialist), Ernest Dowson (poet), Alfred Titch Freeman (cricketer), Gabrielle (singer/song-writer), Sir Isaac Hayward (politician), Glenda Jackson MP (politician & actress), David Jones (painter & poet), Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (TV presenter), Spike Milligan (comedian & writer), Mica Paris (singer/song-writer), Sybil Pheonix MBE (community worker), Terry Waite (Archbishop’s Envoy), Max Wall (comedian) and Ian Wright (footballer), just to name a few. That seems to be a fairly illustrious, star studded list if I say so myself.
I really enjoy travelling throughout this part of the city, and sometimes wonder in hundreds of years time, how will people be living, and will there be pianos to tune.
Meanwhile, if you would like some attention for your piano here in 2015, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
It has been quite a journey for me, both personally and professionally, ever since I set up AMH Pianos. With my work gaining constant coverage across London, I have been profoundly affected by the multi-cultural surroundings, which seems to exhibit novel creative and social dimensions not found in Bristol and the West Country. I feel as if the vibes of the capital have moved me; shaped my ways of thinking as well as my perspective in life. I do wonder, what might have been, had I not made the bold move of taking the world on my own terms, in new surroundings. Certainly, whatever has become of me in the last few years, has been a substantial improvement.
With my birthday on the horizon, I reminisce about my own personal development. Ever since my relocation to Hammersmith in West London, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many unique, interesting individuals, from all walks of life. I not only am tasked with looking after their pianos, they are also my friends. Being in the capital, my offerings related to piano removals and full scale general repairs have allowed me exposure to an even greater array of instruments, in different surroundings. Constant exposure to all makes and models has ensured that I am able to provide a better tuning service with the passage of time.
In addition to what I know best, I have also learned the use of social media and have even gained quite a fan following. Blogging, training for the London Marathon, and being exposed to the arts, has without a doubt, filled in many of the building blocks that nowhere else in the country could. However, in the grand scheme of things, all this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
The greatest accomplishment for me, I feel, has been my personal development on the people skills front. Each time one of my customers provide me with praise and thanks, appreciating what I have done, I feel so much taller, yet humbled. For a new place to be favourable, it is not the environment or infrastructure, but rather the people who make up the community. Being blessed to be part of a cosmopolitan, multifaceted and creative mix, I come away each day learning not just something new, but often something so out of the box. This daily phenomena is sufficient to keep me grounded, since whenever I feel like I have learnt a great deal, I also find myself thinking that I have really not learnt anything at all. Still however, there is a long way to go before world domination.
It is 2015, and everyone now has ready access to the web. Service providers, therefore, should be very intent on fostering good relations with their customers, suppliers and distributors. This is because these days, news not only travels fast, it travels instantly, and remains in the public view forever! Whenever you are looking to work with someone new, you have to ensure that their goals and your expectations are on the same page so that you can avoid disappointments later.
To gauge a service provider you could look into what they think about social media. GooglePlus is a social platform where individuals and businesses get together because of their shared interests in various trends. The platform also provides past customers to provide reviews about a product or service they have recently received. Sites like Facebook and Twitter, provide individuals to talk about their thoughts and feelings about any subject in real time. Additionally, Linkedin is perhaps the most effective way that you can read your service provider’s CV.
The more engaged a service provider is on social media, the more easily accessible they are. Such presence also makes for good accountability and honest, transparent communication. In addition, as a customer, your queries get answered readily, and you can even get a more personalized experience. Whenever you see service providers who are keen on establishing contact with their clients it shows that they seek to work together with them to provide efficient value for money; it shows their devotion since they are taking time off to post about progress and have dialogues with a human being. This digital evolution has made it possible to eliminate the traditional model of customers just being another number. The benefits of embracing technology are mutual for the service provider and user.
Real time feedback, leading to substantial improvement, is what leads to great service in a fast paced modern world, where ratings are now everything. Sites such as Yell and Thomson Local, once merely a directory listing, have now evolved to also describe the user experience of others, to help you make a more informed choice.
With a recent survey suggesting that as much as 93% of the people now trust online reviews, I find it shocking to know that so many of my contemporaries are still not online. In fact, they refuse to get digitally acquainted, in spite being told of the benefits and competitive advantage of doing so. When such people are called on to provide a trade/service, you may find that a lack of digital understanding will probably manifest into a lack of appreciation of today’s lifestyles and the resulting considerations, such as punctuality, communication and flexibility that makes all the difference these days.
It is always worth your while to research your service providers so that you can know just what they are like. Learn what they believe in so that you can be sure that you are reading from the same script during interaction, which may require repetition. On that subject, please feel free to read our testimonials, and if possible, please write us a review.
I have thought about a really interesting mindset; let me try to explain. When I finished moving to London, and set up AMH Pianos, I found that people would call me, and ask if I am a Local Piano Tuner!
I have to ask them, "What actually makes a Local Piano Tuner?". I am Based in Hammersmith, and my working area is all across London – please check my Areas Covered Page to find out where I serve.
I think the Idea of a Local service is very undefined, and near impossible to actually qualify, for example:
Is there some kind of an invisible, “local area distinction”?! And if so, could someone please explain to a new London resident like me what these are, and why? I am aware of so many people with their crash pads in London, working in London during the week, and getting away for the weekend.
I am also aware of Piano Tuners, who don’t live in the city, but come and work in London for a couple of days, and then head back home, which happens to be outside the Greater London boundaries.
Can there be such a thing as a London wide Local Piano Tuning Service?
I believe that in the 21st century, we are all living in a "Global Village". Still however, if you were to operate more than five miles from one's home in London, you may not be considered local anymore.
I wonder, how far is the average commute in the City, and are these people looked at as being non Local at their place of work?
Scratching head trying to work out what the answer really is!! My own personal view is that to be truly considered local, anywhere, the key is to develop close ties with the area, community and activities within that area. Least of all, this would begain you respect from the people for your efforts
Please call on us: AMH Pianos- Local London wide Piano Related Services.