Instra Rewind: 2020

Crank it up to 11 pictures from my 10-year retrospective. Why not?

I felt there was a little flaw in my ten year of Instagram posts which is being corrected.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Because I decided to choose a picture from each of the calendar years in my ten-year Instagram retrospective, a quirk of my plan is that there really should be a picture from 2020 even though that would make eleven pictures. There are a lot fewer pictures in my feed this year for obvious reasons. Being stuck indoors for much of the year means that I have felt that there are fewer opportunities snap something interesting. I wonder what the numbers are for posts?

Anyway, I decided I should commemorate 2020 regardless. One of the most joyous moments from the year is captured pre-lockdown at the little show lounge at Brasserie Zedell. La Voix interviewed choreographer Arlene Phillips. I’d never seen La Voix before and the evening was fabulously entertaining. This one was, really, an Instagram story so it’s supposed to expire after 24 hours. It did make one of my 2020 Instagram Story highlights because, well it really is. La Voix’s Instagram feed has become a regular source of entertainment during the lockdown but this moment in February, with some original members of Hot Gossip who had been in the audience too, is a joyous moment that could not foretell what was to come just a month later.

And that’s my retrospective. I wonder what the next few years will bring and if they will also be documented on Instragram. One way to find out is to follow.

Insta Rewind: 2017-2019

In the third part of the my epic 10-year time travel adventure, I’m off to California, King’s Landing and the London Palladium.

I’ve really enjoyed looking back at 10 years of my photographs on Instagram. I realise there is a massive amount of sentimentality involved in writing this. On this blog I am, unashamedly, sentimental in December. So, let’s get to number ten …

Thursday, 12 October 2017

There was a team meeting in Palo Alto and everybody travelled for it. We held them, in different locations, each quarter to bring people together to discuss plans for the next 13 weeks or so. I think this was the last time it would have been held in California because most of our team, and our management, moved to London sometime after this. Our immediate team didn’t actually work together that much, each of us distributed over other projects, and so these regular meet-ups were an opportunity to share ideas. There was always a great deal of thought in the planning. I don’t recall what everybody else did on the Thursday night but, from memory, the people in this picture were working on video advertising projects and we, therefore, had our own breakaway group evening. We went bowling at Cloverleaf Family Bowl. I’ve since read it has closed, being unable to survive the 2020 pandemic lockdowns. Back in 2017 it was a lot of fun.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

As the caption on this picture says, I didn’t watch Game of Thrones but I was reliably informed the view of old Dubrovnik was, at least in part, King’s Landing in the series. This was taken on our first day there. We’d stayed at a Gatwick Airport hotel the night before as the flight was 8:30am. The aim was to get a good day looking around Dubrovnik before we got on a boat on the Sunday for a holiday around the Croatian islands. So, we had rented an apartment in the old town, checked-in in the pouring rain, then walked the walls of the old town as the sun came out. I thought this was a great view over the iconic rooftops. Turns out it’s a pretty classic tourist shot. It was a great start to what tuned out to be a beautiful holiday.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

PY first took me to see Shakespears Sister in July 1992; they were one of his favourite bands. He had been waiting from 1983 until early 2019 to hear that Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit would reform and perform again – he was straight-in when tickets went on sale. We had the full meet-and-greet package for their November London Palladium show and it was an unforgettable night. While stood in line for the meet, I remember having no idea what to say, and even now I can’t recall what we talked about. But they were friendly and the fans were thrilled they were back together making for a wonderful atmosphere. The show, which was actually on the Tuesday night, was a triumph. I must have posted these when I got home and clock must have tripped into Wednesday.

And, that’s ten years. It feels odd not to include this year. Maybe tomorrow?

Insta Rewind: 2014-2016

Looking back at my Instagram pictues – this one is all about travel. But where did I go?

Yesterday we had Christmas, a Royal wedding, the Olympics and Nico Rosberg to sum up my first 4 years on Instagram. Let’s dive in to the next few years and see what we can find.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

From late-2012 through the March 2014 I spent some time in Australia. The company that was a start-up in the 2010 picture had grown and been acquired in the years since and one of our largest customers was based in Melbourne, a city I fell in love with over the time I was there. I spent weeks on-site with them – one the nicest organisations I had the pleasure of working with – right up until we turned on the software about 10 days before this picture. I feel blessed to have been able to visit Australia and see some wonderful things: Melbourne, The Great Ocean Road, Sydney for the Opera House and Mardi Gras and The Great Barrier Reef. By this point, I’d completed the project and, deep down, I knew this would be my last visit as I was pretty certain I’d accept a job offer from another company when I got home. Looking back, the caption hints at it. It was my first ever Uber ride, booked from the hotel to the airport, and as I saw a view of the Melbourne skyline behind me, I knew I should take a picture to capture the memory.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

We used up our holiday allowance early in 2015 with a trip to Vietnam (including time in Cambodia and Hong Kong). Hoi An was the third stop on our visit. It’s beautiful and was quite different to Hanoi where we’d started the visit. One of the unexpected finds was a teahouse, in the heart of Hoi An, staffed by speech and hearing impaired people. Nobody really speaks, there are these little blocks and a notepad to communicate your order. It’s a tranquil oasis and, even though there were some memorable assaults on the senses elsewhere on the holiday, the peace and quiet of this teahouse, with a view of the street, really sticks in my mind.

Friday, 22 April 2016

I went to France to give a presentation about native advertising on Facebook. I recall the team arrived fairly late in the day on the Thursday and went straight to the office for a rehearsal and equipment check. I think this was my first big presentation for them, so I was a little nervous. As we were leaving for the evening a group of people were pulling apart a section of the office reception. We went to dinner and thought nothing more of it. The next morning, a car, props and video backdrop had appeared, seemingly from nowhere. After we had finished our presentation and could all relax a little, I got to wear a silly hat while waving in a static car. It was the first video I posted on Instagram. I remember the talk went reasonably well, the lunch in the canteen was excellent but I most remember everybody on the team having a go in this car.

Right, I’m only doing three years this post which is, primarily, a reason for another post tomorrow but also because today was my last day in the office for the year and I’ve already has a glass of wine so I don’t trust myself to sit here and go through any more.

Insta Rewind: 2010-2013

Christmas, a Royal wedding, the Olympics and Nico Rosberg in a single blog post. Really.

Last week I noted that it’s 10 years since I first posted in Instagram and that I was going to spend a little time to find one picture form each year that invoked a memory. Here goes:

Friday, 24th December 2010

2010 was a year of change. I moved jobs and had gone from a company with thousands of employees in the UK based in Victoria to one where there were 2 of us working in Britain for a US adtech start-up. We based ourselves in a small serviced office just-off Tottenham Court Road. We put up some magic whiteboard so we could scrawl on the walls without damaging them. We didn’t hang Christmas decorations because they would also damage a wall we couldn’t afford to pay to fix, so, as PY & I were spending Christmas in London and I worked Christmas Eve in the office alone, I drew a Christmas tree to make it feel more festive.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was to take place the next day at Westminster Abbey. Wedding Day, the Friday, was declared a UK holiday and we’d all have the day off, which made for a nice long bank holiday weekend. While my Dad was working away, we invited my Mum to come to London and be a little closer to the action. She arrived just after 2pm on Thursday afternoon and, after I met her at Euston, we strolled through the city to soak up the pre-wedding atmosphere. I recall walking through Green Park to Buckingham Palace and seeing worldwide TV crews preparing to cover the main event. We walked along The Mall chatting to the crowds already camping out for a front-row view. There were people from all over the world and some of them had Royal family masks. I recall it was a lovely, party-like, atmosphere.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

I have so many pictures of 2012. The Olympics came to the city and for two months there was an incredible buzz everywhere in London. When reviewing my feed I thought it might be hardest to select an image from 2012 but this jumped out. As 2012 progressed, I’d taken a few pictures of the Trafalgar Square countdown but every time I saw that clock the Olympic events still felt a long way from happening. My morning commute was a train to Waterloo and walk across the Thames, up Charing Cross Road to the office. This was the morning I saw the first of the signs that would guide visitors to Olympic events: they’d put it up at Waterloo and on my way to work I snapped a picture. And it was the first time I’d really seen the Olympic pink in such a huge block. Suddenly it all started to feel quite real and, therefore, exciting. In many ways this was the beginning of the amazing summer.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Every year, for about ten years, I went to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Each year, bar the year I only went for the day, I was on a campsite opposite the circuit. Except, for 2013, when we paid a stupid amount of money to stay in a Snoozebox (a kind of prefabricated, portable hotel) that was erected – almost on the circuit – for the event weekend. That year we were grateful for the shower, power and shelter at this point of the weekend when it was still very wet (I recall the race itself was dry). Seeing F1 live is different to watching on television: the smell of rubber at the start and the noise of the engines which can not be conveyed in a broadcast. First practice, on the Friday morning, is always one of the best experiences for the pure joy of seeing – and hearing – the cars on the track for the first time. I spent years trying to perfect a picture of an F1 car at speed. I am not sure I ever succeeded but on a wet Friday morning, a Mercedes turns the corner at Luffield, and I thought the picture worth posting. Nico Rosberg went on to win (I think this is Nico but the picture is a little blurry).

So, my ten year review is taking longer than I imagined, the next three will be tomorrow (I hope).

It’s Burbn*

It was a suburban snowy view: housing, parked cars and the occasional bare tree branch. It was also the first picture I posted to Instagram.

It was Saturday 18th December, 2010. I don’t remember what time I woke. I do know that I’d been to see Lady Ga Ga at the O2 arena the night before – so I don’t imagine I got up that early (I don’t have many specific memories of the concert except that she played the piano at one point and I remember that, whatever the song was, it was incredible).

A blanket of snow greeted people that morning in Earlsfield. At some point before lunch I looked out the window, snapped a picture of an undisturbed car park outside the house where we lived then. The cars had a couple of inches of snow covering their windows – still to be swept away. I was heading to the Southbank for a Christmas meet-up and I wanted a picture of the white carpet before it was disturbed by feet. It was a suburban snowy view: housing, parked cars and the occasional bare tree branch. It was also the first picture I posted to Instagram.

I’ve always liked Instagram. The filters were ideal in an age of early mobile camera technology when most pictures were really not that good. But, somehow, it’s just become an interesting snapshot of ten years. Back in 2004 I wrote something about the pictures taken on a mobile phone presenting a different perspective on your life when compared to those taken on a camera. In the intervening years the phone has become the camera but my Instagram timeline reminds me of the early mobile camera rolls: a collection of pictures taken in a moment when, perhaps, once upon a time, I would never have pulled out a camera.

The world has moved on. For me the intervening ten years have been full of wonderful people and places and a lot of them have been recorded on Instagram. Instagram has changed from being a place to post classic square pictures: it’s added video, it’s got stories and reels and now it has added shopping too (big-up the Instagram PMM team working on this). But the feed is still here and all ten years are recorded.

Next week (because I think there is some effort involved here), I intend to try and pick one picture from each year to sum up that year as seen via the Instagram lens. It’s pure sentimentality but if you can’t be a little sentimental in December then when can you be?

Footnotes

* According to their Wikipedia entry, Instagram was orginally a mobile check-in app called Burbn. My unwavering – continuing – loyalty to Foursquare would have meant I’d never have used that.

My 15 for 2015

It’s become something of a tradition for me to take a nostalgic look back at the year just gone based on some of the photographs I have taken. The earliest example that remains online is from 2004. You can read about some of the thoughts behind that on 2012 and 2013s summaries. Ten years later, 2014 was represented as a short video summary of Instagram photos which I’m not sure does that year justice. [Skip the words and jump to the pictures]

For 2015 I could have, once again, relied on the automatic curations from Facebook or the Best 9 on Instagram but, instead, I decided to go back and manually collect 15 photos which sum-up 2015 for me.

The first four of the pictures were taken on holiday in Vietnam, Cambodia and Hong Kong. The time spent on board a boat on Halong Bay (including an amazing Kayak experience) and the silent tea shop in Hội An were some of the most tranquil moment of the year; the Hindu/Buddhist temples in Cambodia were an awe inspiring sight that will stay with me for a long time.

Lord Hill’s Column, outside Shrewsbury’s Shirehall is, apparently, the tallest Doric column in England. When I lived in Shropshire the statue was, effectively, at the end of my street. On a visit earlier in the year it was a pleasant surprise to find it open for viewing as part of the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo (interesting to note that the last stone was laid on 18 June 1816, the first anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo). There are some fantatsic views of Shrewsbury from the top.

I had a business trip to New York in the first half of the year and got to view that city from on high too: the sunset from the top of The Empire State Building was pretty impressive.

Another highlight of the year was taking advantage of the hidden London tours and going in the opposite direction – underground – to the disused Jubilee Line station at Charing Cross. In November 1999 the Jubilee platforms at Charing Cross were closed to the public when the line’s extension to Waterloo was opened. However, the escalators and platforms still exist behind some blue hoardings; the lines maintained for operational reasons if not for commuting. The platforms are also used for film & television representations of the modern underground (Spooks and the Bond film Skyfall filmed there, for example). In June I went on a tour and it was really fascinating to see how the platforms looked and to peek behind the scenes of a working Tube station. Although I’ve not uploaded as many pictures to Flickr this year, there is a set of the pictures taken underground.

The summer also meant another pilgrimage to Silverstone for the British race of the 2015 Formula One season. Lewis winning both that race and the season. Jenson, featured in the picture, coming somewhat lower down the rankings.

In 2012 I didn’t volunteer as one of the Olympic Games Makers nor as one of Boris’ London Ambassadors. It’s something that looked like fun and subsequently I did volunteer at the Ride London event. However, 2015 was the first year that the Ambassadors scheme (branded Team London) finally sought new recruits. I signed up, went through the training, and had a really great time at Parliament Square. I’d swotted-up on a little of the history of the area but mainly got to point people in the direction of Churchill’s War Rooms. Thankfully, the bright blue Team London jacket came in helpful during the rain that seemed to accompany all of my shifts.

Later in the summer I donned overalls that might not be out of place behind the wheel of an F1 car to become part of Secret Cinema’s Empire Strikes Back experience (I think I was supposed to be some kind of rebel fighter). The imagination, thought and level of detail that went into the event was spectacular. There’s a great summary video on You Tube. I’m already booked for their 2016 show with no idea what the film will be.

Towards the end of the year the Rugby World Cup came to the UK. I saw New Zealand play twice: against Namibia at the Olympic Stadium (they won 58-14) and in a great final at Twickenham where they beat Australia 34-17. Fortunately, we were sat behind the goal where most of the points were scored. The Olympic Stadium also played host to The Race of Champions which, according to the event’s own site, “brings together some of the world’s best drivers for a unique head-to-head race in identical cars to see who really is the fastest of them all”. Sebastian Vettel was crowned champion.

I’m often asked what my favourite dining experience has been. I’ve written before about Duck and Waffle which was excellent but, for some reason, never about the Fat Duck. I thought I’d try and record the best of 2015: the very enjoyable Not Afternoon Tea at the Oxo Tower could have been the highlight had it not been for a visit to Restaurant Story. Here, on the site of a former public toilet, is an amazing restaurant where each course of the set menu comes with its own little story. An entire afternoon of food pleasure.

At the end of the year I visited Liverpool for an amazing Duran Duran concert and to sing karaoke at a family party. No videos of my performance will be allowed on the internet. Duran Duran was really an exceptional gig with just the right mix of classics and newer material. The office Christmas party also featured a live band; I was introduced to the music of Jungle which, in spite of the modern sounds, seemed to have 80s inspired synth roots and would site nicely next to Duran’s material.

50 – 05

It’s that time of year again. I get to look back at last year based on the photographs stored on my mobile ‘phone camera. This year I had the Treo 600 and a Nokia 6230 to use but I didn’t seem to be a prolific as last year as I could only really find 50 pictures to sum up the year.

I have been using Flickr more and more this year. I find it’s the best place to store and share photographs. You can see more of these pictures (and comment on them) in the Flick feed for mobcam 2005.

Again, they’re very raw but they do show me what I did in 2005: Spain, winning the Olympic bid party, Formula 1 and more work travel including Egypt. I enjoyed it all.

Aliens Eat London Commuters

It stunned me that I could walk onto a platform on the Northern Line at Charing Cross station and find it deserted.

rush hour
rush hour

I posted this picture over a Flickr tonight as it stunned me that I could walk onto a platform on the Northern Line at Charing Cross station and find it deserted. All the best movies had alien invaders clearing the streets while our lonesome hero wandered the empty streets and echoing buildings. It was very strange indeed and a great relief when somebody else made it to the platform and stood waiting the few minutes for the next train. I’ve spent the day in central London training some customers on our software products and so have been on my feet all day, talking. I find it quite hard to be engaging for six hours of so and do find it very disconcerting when I can see the participants interest wane. I imagine it’s a great relief for all that we make it to the end of the day. I was glad to head of for a meal with friends – which is why I was taking the train!

Leaf On The Path

Colours on the pathway.

Leaf on the pathI mentioned on Wednesday how much I love autumn and this great photo kind of sums up why. It’s from Flickr and it captures both the colours that I love and the sense of change that brings excitement. Oddly, the as the leaves die and fall I get a much greater sense of comfort that I do with the blossoming in spring. I shall leave you with this as the end of my week is proving so busy. [Leaf on the path]

And I must point it out again for yesterday’s On This Day made me laugh!

Routematser Bye Bye

A great London icon.

Routematser Bye ByeRoutemasters are a fantastic icon of London and I will miss them when they are gone. Yesterday, as I sat explaining their value to a group of visiting Americans, I watched as the crowds on Piccadilly boarded them anywhere on the street. Smart and efficient.. Then I watched a bendy-bus block most of Piccadilly Circus. Somebody thinks it’s progress. [Routematser Bye Bye]

Shrewsbury Abbey at Flickr

I didn’t want this site to become a site full of my photographs but I couldn’t resist posting another one from my weekend back in Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury AbbeyI didn’t want this site to become a site full of my photographs but I couldn’t resist posting another one from my weekend back in Shrewsbury. This picture isn’t as good but it’s of Shrewsbury Abbey – at the bottom of Abbey Foregate just before you reach the English Bridge. I passed this place every day on my way into college as I was growing up and it’s a sight that always makes me think of being a teenager. [Shrewsbury Abbey]
Sadly, I could only find one other picture of Shrewsbury at Flickr and that turns out to be a different Shrewsbury!

Lord Hill’s Mighty Tower

Lord Hill's Mighty TowerI love the colours on this picture. Although it was taken early in the morning (at least, early for a Sunday) the colours are fantastic. And what’s more it’s been taken with my Treo’s mobile camera which isn’t the greatest camera in the world. According to Shropshire Online, “Lord Hill’s Column, outside Shirehall, is one of Shrewsbury’s striking landmarks. The tallest Doric column in the world, it commemorates the First Viscount Lord Hill, who lived from 1772 to 1842.” [Lord Hill’s Mighty Tower]

Trees On Piccadilly

A mobile-phone captured photograph of the trees on Piccadilly in central London.

flickr image of trees on piccadilly in LondonA word about the image I posted to Flickr on Monday. I am starting to see autumn colours everywhere and I love it. There’s a breeze in the air which, I swear, smells of autumn.

Weekend In Britain’s Smallest County

A weekend away with friends and a visit to Rutland Water.

image of a log on the shoreline at Rutland Water This weekend we’ve had an enjoyable weekend with some friends who live near Rutland Water which, according to Anglian Water, is one of the “largest man-made reservoirs in Europe and is located in Rutland, England’s smallest county. Set in 3,100 acres of countryside, it has a 25-mile circular track for walking and cycling”. Earlier today it was a little cloudy so I didn’t really get any great pictures but, nonetheless, it’s a place I want to head back to.