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!

The Madness Of Business Travel

image from my hotel window with a view of the stage in the car park next door you can not see the loud musicIt’s taken hours and hours to get to Sardinia. I’m here for a two hour meeting tomorrow morning before I take the plane home. I am in a reasonably nice hotel but right now I really wish it had a pool as it’s so hot. There’s also some kind of concert that is taking place just outside my hotel window – you can see the stage on this picture. They are rehearsing right now and the walls are shaking. I am hoping that it doesn’t go on into the night.

UPDATE: 21 JULY – By the time I got back from the excellent meal with the customer and some other interesting folks the music had stopped.

The Day F1 Came To London

More pictures from the Formula One event in Regent Street, London

and the crowds arrived at piccadilly cicrusthe big screen on piccadilly

One thing is certain: the crowds arrived. There were thousands of people lining Lower Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street. People were on the roof, balcony or hanging our of a window. People were climbing lamp posts and traffic lights. People perched on almost any structure that didn’t move and on top of many that were plainly unsafe. We waited until almost seven o’clock until the great roar of the F1 race cars was to be heard. Mansell, Button, Montoya, Coulthard and Brundle – to name but a few. The noise, the smell: it was fantastic F1. To be honest I eventually moved to the big screen on Piccadilly as they passed so quickly that you missed a great deal and I wasn’t at the front of a crowd. The atmosphere was pretty good humoured – apart from some lunatics climbing on top of a newspaper sellers wagon – and everybody seemed to enjoy it. After an hour it was, more-or-less, finished but the crowds seemed to hang around central London for a good while. Perhaps, one day, a race really will take place in London.

See also: Formula One Comes To Regent Street
BBC Sport: What price a London GP?
This is London:Eddie supports London Grand Prix