Weeknotes #19

Week commencing Monday, 21 November 2022

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 7/7; Exercise 5/7 and Move 6/7. (86%, getting better).

Life

  • It’s taken me a little longer to get back to this than I had imagined. I decorated, I visited family and I went on holiday. I started a new job. And I have spent a couple of weekends on The Isle of Wight.
  • Has a lovely Thai duck curry at Nay Thai in Surbiton with Angela and Rich and an amusing evening swapping home buying horror stories. I think, like anybody who has ever nought a house in Britain, we all wondered why it’s so hard and takes so long.
  • Drinks for the Thirsty Thursday even were a much quieter evening that I think had been planned but lovely nonetheless. We didn’t get to see the 3D advertising in Piccadilly Circus that Cornelia had want to take a look at.
  • A Friday evening train to Havant allowed us to catch a bus to Hayling Island to meet Jo, Phil, Christine and David. Followed the England v USA World Cup match via family WhatsApp on the way down. It was still on TV when we arrived and it consensus of the pundits matched the view that it was not a good game for England.
  • We had a lovely weekend in a little house overlooking the beach and experiencing winter by the sea. Sadly the little Hayling Island strain wasn’t running because part of the track was flooded.
  • PY and I took a walk along the coast to the ferry point which was, sadly, not running this weekend. Stopped for a glass of wine at the Inn on the Beach with a view of the kite surfers.
  • We discovered that there are some very expensive homes along that part of the coast. Sunday was spent at Gunwharf Quays before taking the train back.

Media

  • The High Performance podcast is something I have been meaning to listen to. A number of recommendations for the Tyson Fury episode resulted in me listening to it. Recommended.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.

Weeknotes #18

Week commencing Monday, 29 August 2022

Symphonic Universe

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 6/7; Exercise 4/7 and Move 5/7. (71%, down again).

Life

  • Lovely to meet Gerry and Paul at the Hampton Court Palace food festival. It was a great way to spend a bank holiday morning. Ended up trying remarkably little of food.
  • To Jo & Phil’s for a barbecue the same evening and considerably more food was consumed: I am not sure how they do it but the barbecue is always perfectly done.
  • The Riverside Studios in Hammersmith was once, albeit prior to the redevelopment, one of the many homes of the BBC’s Doctor Who and Quatermass. We went for ‘evening in a dungeon with a gorgeous male escort’. Or, more accurately, to see Horse Play a comedy about such a situation. I feared it would a bit cringeworthy and, actually, was really amusing.
  • Thursday was my last day in the office: some lovely words were said and there was a great gift. It felt a bit odd leaving the building but we had fun at the drinks.
  • Friday was even odder as I was officially working but had no company equipment. Mainly used webmail to send my goodbyes.
  • A wonderful evening at The English Grill in Victoria with Rashmi. It looks like she will be moving to the US.
  • Saturday night it was off into the Symphonic Universe at the Royal Festival Hall where the London Concert Orchestra played film scores, mainly – but not exclusively – from the Marvel Universe (think Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man and Captain America). It was quite a last minute booking and I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like but it was superb.

Break

I am going to take a break from Weeknotes as I’ve decided to spend some time decorating and visiting family before I start my new job. Hopefully, I will be back doing this at some point.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.


Originally posted at curnow.org and archived at The Wayback Machine.

Weeknotes #17

Week commencing Monday, 22 August 2022

On my way to the office this week

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 7/7; Exercise 6/7 and Move 5/7. (86%, this is OK).

Life

  • After a lovely weekend away it was back to work with an afternoon in the, deserted, office. And some drinks with my bosses. Really nice chat and a lovely note from them the following morning.
  • Tuesday was the evening dubbed by Louise as ‘Social Chit-chatting, innit?’ – a lovely evening in Bill’s Restaurant Soho, followed by an over-priced bottle of Cote du Rhône outside the Ham Yard Hotel. Mainly amusing for the waiter trying to serve our red in a wine cooler bag which was leaking all over the table.
  • Another night out on Thursday. This one included the revelation that is the Pizza Pilgrims: Eight Cheese Pizza with ricotta, fior di latte mozzarella, Grana Padano, gorgonzola, provola, Parmesan and buffalo mozzarella, all baked and topped with a burratina and sweet chilli jam. 1091 kcal calories. Wow. I only ate half.
  • I actually managed to get some events and visits booked for this year’s Open House Festival which I think is a first. Including a tour of a department store.

Media

  • Listened to Stephanie Hirst as a guest on For Real with Roger Cutsforth. A lovely conversation. I was inspired to listen thanks to a video on a tweet.
  • Another radio legend left his show this week. I guess I’ll soon be listening to Scott Mills now he’s departed Radio 1 for 2. #LoveYouBye
  • We completed Spy City, a series about Cold War spies in Berlin just before the wall was erected. Dominic Cooper, as Fielding Scott, seems to be the perfect British spy. Enjoyable way to pass a few hours but I can’t work out where it will go if there is ever a second series.
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was better than expected. The trouble with a lot of these movies now is the requirement to know the related films. Or at least the sense that, if you don’t know them, you’re missing out. I think this one navigated that quite well. Also, I’d see WandaVision.
  • Finished reading Hungry by Grace Dent. She has a wonderful way of making an almost throwaway comment really funny. The ending was not what I thought. If nothing else, recommended for the advice on dealing with a sommelier.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.


Archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #16

Week commencing Monday, 15 August 2022

Norwich Cathedral

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 6/7; Exercise 5/7 and Move 5/7. (76%, better).

Life

  • I returned the rental car first thing on Monday morning. The Enterprise car hire place is very busy but the staff always seem very friendly. I’m still not sure why a bigger car was cheaper than the last time I rented but I have no complaints. Except petrol is very expensive.
  • We became a car-free household about 11 years ago. In the last year we have rented a car 3 times which is the highest number of rentals in any single year since we gave up our own car, with the exception of the year we moved house when we had a few daily rentals. While I quite enjoy driving and find having a car very handy, especially around Christmas, two days on the motorways last weekend reminded me how much better life without the car is. Except for rail strikes.
  • On Monday night we went to Soho to meet Phil. A lovely evening with an excellent dinner. Initially, we sat outside the restaurant but the rains came. It was a heavy downpour so we moved inside. By the time we left you could be forgiven for not realising it had rained. The whole of South East England was grateful of 30 minutes of rain.
  • Thursday for drinks with the product team. A kind-of leaving do because my boss, Sharon, in on holiday when I actually leave. I think it was both lovely and also, slightly, sad that we hadn’t had these conversations during lockdown. Nice to spend a night with them.
  • On Friday, we took a bus, because a lot of trains were recovering from yesterday’s strike, to Streatham where we met friends and drove to an Airbnb in Norwich. Some of the roads are remarkably straight.
  • Norwich is great. The cathedral is an amazing combination an old church and a new bit added on. But it’s been added on very sympathetically. I sat in the nave and contemplated life for longer than my friends were comfortable with.
  • I also lit a candle. I often do this in churches. I thought, primarily, of my grandparents. It was lovely. And sad. I am not sure what was in my eye.
  • We visited Great Yarmouth (underrated), Cromer (excellent crab lunch) and Cambridge (obviously foreign tourists). I loved them all. It was such a nice way to see East Anglia. And also the Anglia TV building. Can’t quite tell if it’s in use.

Archived at The Wayback Machine.

Weeknotes #15

Week commencing Monday, 8 August 2022

On the party stage with the Dancing Queens.
Whamtastic

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 6/7; Exercise 3/7 and Move 4/7. (62%, going backwards).

Life

  • Saturday was hot and we spent it at a family party. The Wham-inspired ‘Choose Life’ outfits seemed to work. There was a performance with (almost) two of ABBA.
  • The drive north took longer than expected. Is getting middle-Lane range a thing?
  • Monday night was another night of music. Saw Luke Bayer perform at a Piano bar near the Barbican. More good music but he had a, self-admitted, tendency for sadder songs.
  • Related: Monday nights are probably not for Nespresso Martinis.
  • Inspired by reading the Agile Comms Handbook a few weeks ago, I finally got round to reading a book recommended by our Chief Product Officer. The book, Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters from the makers of Basecamp, is an insight into how the Basecamp team builds products. It would be quite nice to work in six week cycles, shipping useful things and without the relentless burden of backlogs, sprint meetings (I really can’t bring myself to say ceremonies) and QA shenanigans.
  • As a lover of train travel and regular user of the network I did not have the best week with Britain’s railways. To be fair, my interactions with the UK’s coach network was not any better. Before I get into the frustrations I should say that my first trip on the Elizabeth Line, albeit just one stop, was really good. Everything does feel really big compared the The Tube.
  • Avanti West Coast’s Delay Repay service required me to create another account with them but I had to use the same email address that I use for the account required to book tickets with them in the first place we. It’s not customer friendly at all and a recipe for problems next time I come to book a ticket.
  • But, the delay repay form did allow me to take a picture of the tickets (that need the refund) with my phone and upload that.
  • Next, the required ‘confirmation code’ (without which the form can’t be submitted) is not the code that appears on my booking receipt labelled, “Confirmation” followed by some numbers. You need the ‘collection reference’. Go figure.
  • Then, Avanti West Coast’s entirely separate complaint form won’t allow the picture of the tickets that need the refund that I just took with my phone, and successfully attached to the delay repay request, to be uploaded via the complaint form. They require a different file format. And a smaller size.
  • Monday morning I needed a step-free train route to Victoria. I’m lucky that I have a choice of routes. According to various websites and route planners, lifts were out of action at Wimbledon, Clapham Junction and Vauxhall. But no indication of which lift and if I would need them. Took a gamble and went via Clapham. One of the lifts I needed was, indeed, out of service.
  • But it’s not just trains. Wikipedia helpfully says that Victoria Green Line Coach Station should not be confused with the nearby Transport for London owned Victoria Coach Station but, if I hadn’t looked it up, all the signs point to the TFL one. Some of the staff at the Green Line Coach Station seemed a bit confused about which operators served the stops. It didn’t help alleviate travel stress.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.

Archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #14

Week commencing Monday, 1 August 2022

Bananarama on stage
Bananarama launch the Masquerade album

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 6/7; Exercise 5/7 and Move 6/7. (81%, let’s say, no change).

Life

  • Bananarama had a small gig to launch their new album, Masquerade, described as Bananarama’s best album since their 1987 hits-packed, career-high Wow!. I went on Thursday. Wonderful evening. More bouncing. A bit too much wine and an expensive Uber home.
  • Disappointingly, my blood donation appointment was cancelled again. This means I have still never given blood in spite of trying for a year. Undeterred, I rebooked.
  • Agreed to upgrade the motor on an electric awning in Spain. That’ll cost but, maybe, we’ll see the benefit at some point.
  • On Tuesday, I spoke to the volunteer team. I have been unable attend any of the uniform hand-out days so it will be left at the pod when I get to the location on Saturday.
  • On Friday, an email said the pod wouldn’t be there as it’s not ready. Ooops.
  • On Saturday, the pod was there but the uniform wasn’t. Still, a lovely day in the sunshine helping people around Westminster. There was a protest in the middle of Parliament Square but that didn’t disturb. Was asked a question about services at Westminster Abbey, the answer to which is that to attend a service you should go via the Great West Door.
  • Mum and Dad arrived Sunday evening, late, after a cancelled train. They’d bought Avanti First Class to celebrate Dad’s birthday but, although they got a seat they go no service. Mum was very disappointed.
  • It turns out, Miso aubergines are delicious.
  • My Amazon Prime Try Before You Buy items came through. I’m glad a did it. I ordered two pairs of shorts but the pair I was less likely to order fitted if I couldn’t try first, better. A little win.
  • Amazon announced it was going to buy iRobot, makers of the Roomba vacuum. The robots will take over the world.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.


Archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #13

Week commencing Monday, 25 July 2022

Commonwealth Games cycling at Lee Valley VeloPark

Quantified Self

  • This week: Stand 6/7; Exercise 7/7 and Move 5/7. (86%, getting better).

Life

  • Wednesday 27th: Happy Birthday Dad!
  • Also 27th: Ten years ago was the opening of the 2012 Olympics. I considered blogging something because I still have wonderful memories of that time. But, ultimately, I am not sure I had anything new to say. I did check in with the Little Lego Athletes who joined me at some of the events back then. And Diamond Geezer summed it all up nicely.
  • On Sunday, we did do the Olympic Park legacy trail that’s been created to celebrate the passing of 10 years. Basically a series of photo stops on a 7km walk around the park. You don’t need to do the stops to appreciate that the route takes in most of the main sites (at least, the ones that still exist). The Olympic Rings photo-point can barely see the Olympic Rings. The photo collection is here. It nearly became a blog but I thought better of that too.
  • It’s fitting the UK is hosting another multi-sport competition this month. Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games Opening ceremony was brilliant. I am in awe of the creative people who imagine mechanical bulls, cars forming the shape of a union flag and can mix it all together with a message of inclusiveness and hope.
  • I also have tons of admiration and respect for what British sporting hero Tom Daley has done with his public voice. Using the Commonwealth Games to remind tell 1 billion people that in 35 out of the 56 Commonwealth nations homosexuality is considered a crime was superb.
  • These messages seem so at odds with the narrative coming out of the Conservative leadership contest it makes me wonder if it’s possible to live on two different timelines – or in two different countries – at the same moment.
  • On Sunday morning we went to the Lee Valley VeloPark for our own experience of Commonwealth Games action. The cycling centre is an outpost of Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games and it’s not in Birmingham (so quite handy for us). And it had tickets when we looked on Thursday. And the cycling was really interesting but the crash towards the end of the session was horrible.
  • Pre-digital nobody messed with your carefully crafted compilation tapes and CDs or your curated photo albums, diaries and scrapbooks. The digital providers of today’s equivalent definitely will. It must be somebody’s law that this is inevitable. This month’s example, Instagram who are off in pursuit of the (apparently, more engaged) youth on TikTok.
  • Chris Stevens, who created an online country music stream that became a UK country music radio phenomenon and my morning listen, presented his final breakfast show on Friday. What a thing to have achieved. When the breakfast show changes it can be a disorienting to a listener’s routine. I’ve said that before and I hope my routine is not thrown out too much on Monday morning.
  • And, in what seemed like a very swift end, Vanessa almost simultaneously announced she’s leaving Radio 2 and the BBC London breakfast show (almost immediately). I don’t listen to speech radio anymore but she’s one of the UK’s best talk radio hosts. Her Radio 2 departure announcement is wonderfully worded. And hand-written.
  • I am tempted to add a ‘Media’ section to my weeknotes. It’s inspired by Martha Edwards’ retrospective-style weeknotes. I’m recording my idea here so I can come back to it in a few weeks.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.


Archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #12

Week commencing Monday, 18 July 2022

Two chimneys from Battersea Power Station
The redeveloped Battersea Power Station
  • I’d like to start recording my weekly exercise goals here. I use the Apple Watch and will measure completed rings. This week: Stand 5/7; Exercise 3/7 and Move 1/7. Only 43%. Not good.
  • The heatwave arrived at the start of the week. My team had planned to work in the office on Monday. As some people ended up being out of London and would not have attended anyway, the rest of us took TFL’s advice and stayed at home.
  • The outside thermometer at my house did record over 40 degrees Celsius on Monday – and more on Tuesday – but that was in the direct sun and I don’t think that recording is accurate. Meanwhile, military officials said the runway at the country’s largest air base ‘melted’.
  • Turns out, from watching one of the Slack channels at work that quite a few people have Netatmo.
  • According to The Week, “Numerous studies have linked hot weather to reduced cognitive function leading to decreased productivity [and] errors of judgement.” Let’s hope all the decisions I made at work still stand!
  • There were wildfires in the UK which is not a phrase I think I’ve heard here before.
  • I finished Giles Turnbull’s The Agile Comms Handbook. My takeaway is to continue to write more. I think the more you write – here and elsewhere – the easier it is. But also that I want to adopt some of the strategies at work: maybe too late for this job but not for the next. Also, the first draft is always bad. Recommended if you care about communicating your work.
  • We walked to New Malden to find panko breadcrumbs. I’m pleased we were successful finding them as they are really useful to have around. Is it a bit lazy to have them in the cupboard?
  • Sunday to the Battersea Power Station complex. Since we were last there they have removed lots of hoardings and you can now walked all around the Power Station. It’s very impressive. We visited the shell of the building in 2006 and it would be fascinating to see it’s new life.
  • We were there to see a performance in the world premiere run of A-Typical Rainbow. It’s a play by autistic writer JJ Green. The theatre blurb says the play asks: “could a kinder, more joyful world lie at the end of the rainbow?” It was very good.
  • I do not subscribe to the view that the public has any kind of right, just because it’s mid-term, to view the internal machinations of the Conservative Party’s leadership contest. The candidates have not behaved as one would expect Leaders to behave. And now we likely have months of mud slinging between the remaining two. I feel like this and I am now a news-avoider. I wonder if people who actually watch the news feel this is good?

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here. If the original source above no longer works, these should.


Originally posted at curnow.org and archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #11

It’s getting hotter.

Week commencing Monday, 11 July 2022

  • I decided that I must not get too frustrated with myself when my weeknotes are published late. The important thing is the habit. But I will backdate the post so that they appear in the right week. This week, though, I am on track.
  • At lunch on Tuesday I went and sat outside. It was much hotter outside than inside and I came in after a short while. In the end the fan came on for the afternoon.
  • It’s been a week of heat and it looks like it will continue into next week. This was great news for Mum and Dad’s party on Saturday: although the room used for the event was a conservatory and did get quite warm. As we were near the canal, there was some very pleasant outdoor space and it was nice for people to be able to sit outside.
  • The party was wonderful. Lots of family got together to celebrate Mum & Dad’s milestone birthdays. The choir that Dad sings in performed and I gave a speech that turned out quite well in the end. We don’t get both sides of the family together that much anymore so this was a real treat.
  • I never know how to put together the kind of speech needed at these family events. Fortunately, PY kicked it off with a draft a 10 days ago. In the end we changed quite a bit but it’s so useful to have something to get started. I was quite worried about nerves getting the better of me as, unlike work presentations, there’s an expectation that it would be amusing. Thankfully, people laughed in all the right places.
  • When is a ‘story’ a ‘task’? Just one of the questions raised at work this week. I was quite glad that I only worked a 4-day week.
  • On Thursday afternoon I picked up a rental car and we drove to Shropshire ahead of the aforementioned party. It was a small Renault Clio but was quite lovely to drive with a nice big screen to utilise CarPlay so I had music and maps with no issues. I’ve rented more cars in the last couple of years than we have done in years. I’m going to check the spreadsheet but I am sure it’ll still be a lot cheaper than owning one.
  • Friday I pottered around Mum & Dad’s house and spent some time with my niece and nephew in a skate park. Afterwards, we drove to the location of the big party. We also had dinner together, which was lovely, but PY and I did not get there in time to see the pool and spa. We managed to rectify that before we left on Sunday afternoon.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.


Originally posted at curnow.org and archived at The Wayback Machine

Weeknotes #10

I’ve been telling people I bounced for the entire day.

Week commencing Monday, 4 July 2022

  • First week back at Tai Chi after a couple of weeks and it was lovely. Practice was outside and, somehow, that makes it feel much more relaxed.
  • I took a quiz thing at work to discover how comfortable I am with digital transformation: “When it comes to digital, you’re interested in what technology can do, while remaining keen to make sure it doesn’t take over your life. You’ll generally be a quick adopter with an open mindset, but will strip away anything that doesn’t add value in those early phases of adoption”. Seems like a reasonable position to me.
  • The UK Government kind of imploded this week. Law and policy commentator, David Allen Green, had a fascinating piece on the constitutional consequences if Boris Johnson refuses to resign?. Basically, get the Queen on the phone.
  • In a fast moving week in British politics, almost by the time I’d read the article Boris has resigned.
  • But, most depressingly of all was was the video circulating on Twitter of Andrea Jenkyn, the new Education Minister, greeting the public with the finger. What’s happened to the people who run the country that they have such contempt for the rest of us who they are supposed to work for?
  • Mainly, however this week will be remembered for Bananarama at Kew The Music. It’s not the first concert I have been to post-pandemic but it’s the one where I just felt non-stop joy. I’ve been telling people I bounced for the entire day.
  • Just before Bananarama started performing, PY inflated some blow-up bananas. I thought lots of people would have them. They didn’t. I was a bit sheepish waving them around. And then other people started enjoying them and having their photos with them. And it was even more joyous. And I ran towards the stage and waved them some more.
  • Also, happy birthday James. Sunday’s birthday dinner was a lot of fun too.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #9

Week commencing Monday, 27 June 2022

  • I keep reading that writing is good for you. Even though my last attempt at weeknotes lasted only 8 entries I continue to read other people’s notes; although not always at the point they were written. Alice Bartlett inspired me this time around. Let’s see how long it lasts.
  • After a week of staying in the house, Monday I tested negative for COVID and had full plans to head to the office on Tuesday. The next day, before heading out, I tested positive again and stayed at home. A little bit frustrating. All clear by Thursday.
  • I made it into the office on Thursday. Later in the day the Pride network had drinks. It was nice to socialise in the building again.
  • On Friday it was announced that Steve Wright is leaving his afternoon show on BBC Radio 2. One commenter quoted that it’s not often changes to radio station line-ups make the evening news.

Not often a radio show changing presenter makes the main evening news! Includes a Wogan House doorstep with the Big Show host himself! pic.twitter.com/rJHhG6Fj09— Stuart Clarkson (@stuartclarkson) July 1, 2022

  • Nobody in that BBC piece talked about the period from 1993 to 1999 when Steve didn’t present the afternoon show. My memory recalls that, for a while, he had a networked commercial radio show before coming back to the BBC. I can’t remember if the company I worked for distributed it or not. The UK Radio groups of Facebook were full of split opinions, which I guess is only natural after somebody has been doing a popular thing for 40 or so years.
  • On Friday evening I headed into town for drinks with a colleague and was reasonably surprised how early some of the places along the Southbank closed. That seems to have changed in the post-lockdown reopening.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Elsewhere: World Radio Day

The Elsewhere category on this site seems to be home for things I have posted on Facebook; and this is no exception. In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly agreed that World Radio Day was a real International Day and, thus, February 13 became WRD. My little contribution to the spirit of the days was posted on Facebook (and a version on Instagram because, if you don’t do all the social media channels, what’s the point?)

Apparently, we are almost at the end of #worldradioday.

When I was younger all I ever cared about was the magic of radio. It was my private world: in my childhood bedroom there was a whole universe created by the Piccadilly presenters and it was all in my head. When I was ten years old, visiting the original Piccadilly studios in central in Manchester was so important in my life I called it ‘my happiest memory’.

Although many people thought it was, it was never about being on the radio but it was all about the world radio created for those who listened and how that world was put together.

For a small part of my life I was lucky enough to be part of the magic: in the late 80s if you called The BBC in Shropshire you may have spoken to me or in the early 90s, if you listened to the Network Chart Show, I often pressed some buttons to make sure it got to your local radio station (or at least I was there in case the satellite that sent it to you ever fell out of the sky: it never did). If you ever heard a Shoe Express ad, chances are I spent all night getting that 30s of audio to your local station (and if, like me, you heard a version, or two, for every town in Britain you’ll guess why shoes are not my thing).

But, most importantly for me, the people who made that magic pointed my career in the direction it’s taken and, although there are too many to mention, I will forever be grateful to them all.

So, thank you radio: we may be listening to audio in ways we never imagined but there’s still some magic in the voices that come out of the ether. Tomorrow morning, why not ‘turn up the feel good’ with ‘more of the songs you love’ that are probably ‘the biggest hits and the biggest throwbacks’ on the ‘UK’s No.1 Hit Music Station’ or, my current choice, ‘The UK’s Country Station’.

Tune in and rip the knob off!

Originally posted on Facebook

Let’s hang out in the blogosphere

On January 2nd this year, Matt Mullenweg encouraged people to get blogging,

Write for a single person. Share something cool you found. Summarize your year. Set a blogging goal with reminders. Get a Gutenberg-native theme and play around with building richer posts. Start a nom de plume. Answer daily prompts on Day One. Forget the metaverse, let’s hang out in the blogosphere. Get your own domain!

Reading that reminded me that I haven’t written on curnow.org for some time. I used to ‘summarise my year’ pretty regularly – albeit in different ways – on here. In 2021 I tried the weeknotes format but it didn’t really work for me. In December 2020 I posted a 10 Year Instagram retrospective and, earlier that year, looked back on the handful of tweets I posted in 2019.

I wrote 2018’s Annual Report at the start of 2019 and took a moment to look back on my 2017 Reading Challenge the year before. Previous annual(ish) reviews were photography based, the last one of those was My 15 for 2015 posted at the end of December 2015.

In the spirit of ‘hanging out in the blogosphere’ and because I have previous writing to point to, on January 4th this year I gave myself 27 days to compose something to summarise 2021. Clearly, I missed my own deadline but these are the words I’ve put together since then.

2021

2021 was an odd year. Like many others I began the year back in a London COVID-19 lockdown dreaming of freedom in spring. I took part in a virtual escape room in March which was fun but not as much as the real thing. And nowhere near as fun as the summer of normality which followed a few months later.

I got my first vaccine shot in the early part of the year but it took until April 15th to be able to go out and see people. I met some friends for an outside meal. I have two memories of that evening: that it was fun to be able to talk to people across a table but it was cold. I bought a jacket with an in-built, battery-powered, heating element to get me through that – and a couple of similar – evenings.

This year I continued a trend from the first months of lockdown in 2020: going on local history walks. On one of them, we tried to find the site of the Craig Telescope but I am not convinced we ever did.

The year opened up from June and I was able to get to the Isle of Wight for a holiday and there was a family trip to The Lake District. Later in the summer I got to see AFC Wimbledon’s new Plough Lane stadium which was fun and I hope to see a few more games this year. By the time the weather was getting colder again there was a trip on the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William which was wonderful but my overriding memory is of rain.

All the socials

I didn’t really tweet much in 2021. I think I was trying to avoid doom-scrolling about the pandemic. I appear to have enjoyed The Masked Singer last year (as I am in this year). I also noted that I, finally, killed off a couple of experiments I had been running for ten years on local tweeting. The local engagement was fun but it was time-consuming and when I moved house I gave up and a couple of accounts just became automatic re-tweeters. I don’t think it’s a good use of Twitter. I had always planned to write more about those experiments but I think their time has been and gone. Still, it was a fun side project for several years but I am glad it’s been put to sleep.

I ended 2021 tweeting about Stretchy Pants which is a much more relevant topic for this time of year.

On Instagram there were 16 grid pictures vs 104 stories. So I guess the story format wins. Yet again the algorithm chose my Top Nine but I got to pick my story highlights.

If I had to pick my favourite photographs, I’m not sure what I would pick, but I do like these three night shots; although my favourite photo didn’t get to Instagram.

I tried quite hard to complete a full year’s photo journal with Blipfoto. It’s an excellent and, I think, unknown photo sharing site that I briefly used many years ago but came back to during the pandemic. I started 2021 strongly but my continuous burst really ended in September. I’m not sure what killed it off but I am back trying again in 2022.

As a result of working at home I probably listened to more music than I have done in previous years. Last.fm says there were 9,456 scrobbles. Contemporary country music is the genre I am listening to most at the moment. It’s interesting to see what the various services say about my top artists:

  • Last FM says Miranda Lambert was my top artist of 2021 while Famous Friends, Chris Young & Kane Brown, was my top track. They also say that 59% of my listening was new tracks which I found surprising.
  • On Spotify, I apparently played more Luke Combs while If I Didn’t Love You was the most played 3 and a half minutes.
  • Apple Music agrees that Famous Friends is my most played song but makes it way too hard to figure out who my most played artist was for me to bother with for this post.

My 2021 Media Diet only included three films. I can’t choose between them because they were all perfectly passable ways to spend a couple of hours. So, in the order that I saw them (with a short review):

  1. In the Heights (Good, but I preferred the stage show)
  2. Free Guy (Good, but felt a bit familiar)
  3. No Time To Die (Good, but some of the action scenes went on for too long)

Of the films watched on a TV screen I am finding it hard to pick a favourite. Perhaps honourable mentions for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Wonder Woman, My Octopus Teacher and Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary.

I went to theatre five times but two visits were to see things I’d seen before. I saw Declan Bennett twice; once in his one man show, Boy Out of the City and once in Carousel at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in August. Both were excellent.

I did write about my failure to meet my GoodReads Reading Challenge as an end of year post to Blipfoto. I read two books, 767 pages and listened to five audiobooks. I’m pretty disappointed with that and I aim to do better this year.

This year, I started listening to the Strangerville story-telling podcast. There are over a hundred episodes to catch-up on. It’s really great.

Out and about

Swarm, by Foursquare, doesn’t give me stats anymore about the number of check-ins. I’m guessing it’s way down because of the pandemic but I’d be interested in comparisons with previous years if anybody knows of simple tools to query my data let me know. On the other hand Google tells me that the total amount of travel in 2021 was equivalent to 19% around the world. I find that quite a surprisingly high number (or, perhaps, my sense of the distance around the world is skewed). Mind you Google says I walked a total of 783 miles this year while Apple thinks that was 1008 miles. The lesson here might be to not trust the trackers.

The pandemic has changed the ways a lot of us have been working. In November we tried an experiment and spent a month working from an Airbnb on the Isle of Wight to see how well that would work (turned out pretty well, really). I hope to do that again this year.

Weeknotes #8

Week commencing Monday, 17 May 2021

  • I had to visit a hospital at the beginning of the week. It was nothing major but it was very controlled and unlike any other time I have had the need to be an outpatient: arrive, alone, no more than five minutes in advance, for example. As a result it seemed remarkably efficient. It would be nice if this kind of thing is retained as we move into a post-pandemic world.
  • I got caught in a torrential downpour on the walk back from the hospital. I was equal distance between two bus stops and, by the time I had sheltered from the enormous hailstones and arrived at the next stop, the sun was out. I decided to walk home in order to dry my clothes. This is very strange weather for May.
  • Helping PY’s company move offices on Saturday necessitated travel in central London. As I was on the edge of The City, it wasn’t overly busy but it is definitely noticeable that people are out and about again.
  • After the office move we had out first restaurant meal that was inside since December last year. It felt remarkably normal. The place was well ventilated and people were reasonably separated so we didn’t have any concerns.
  • Being out of the house meant I had a couple of deliveries diverted to a local pick-up point which was the first time I’d had need to do that since lockdown began. But one item was delivered to the doorstep, and subsequently stolen. It’s all on camera so can be reported. However, it did occur to me that the move away from everybody being home all the time is going to change the way deliveries work for the second time in eighteen months: few retailers have solved the problem of the last few metres of the delivery chain when they find nobody in.
  • Being out of the house also meant that we did not watch any of the Eurovision Song Contest performances from Rotterdam. We were back in time for the results. Disappointing for the UK. Congratulations to Italy (who last won in 1990). The main question on Sunday seemed to be did he, or didn’t he?

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.

Weeknotes #7

Week commencing Monday, 10 May 2021

Personal

  • The interesting, interconnected world in which we live has been highlighted for me on my quest to buy a new jar of Marmite. Don’t judge me for my love of the yeasty spread. Apparently, our inability to buy beer in pubs had an impact on yeast supplies to Unilever which, in turn, had an impact on the amount of Marmite that can be produced. I found a big pot on Amazon which saved the day but, please, as the local pub opens go and buy some beer!
  • I finished Dolly Parton’s America podcast. I fear some people may be put off by the title. Sure, Dolly is the thread that connects all the episodes but it deals with so many big issues for today. Give it a listen. My favourite Dolly line, “I don’t know that I believe in reincarnation. And I didn’t believe in it when I lived before”.
  • I went to the gym 3 times. Rather pleased that I managed that.
  • Walked around part of central London on Sunday which was most enjoyable. Took a picture of Tower Bridge with the clouds that I thought was quite good.

Archive

To save the links getting lost in the future I checked the Internet Archive to see what they had saved for the posts linked here.