May 28

A History: John Harrison

For around 30 years, I’ve been slowly building up what I know about my family history. Starting from occasional visits to the Family Record office in London with Mom, to look things up and order new records it slowly moved to online research as records were digitised and most of it can now be done from a computer. I say most, but sometimes you do need to get out and dig into local records, especially those of pre 1837, before national registration was implemented.

In this post, I’m going to explore what I know about a single ancestor, my great-great-grandfather John Harrison. Unlike the average celebrity on Who Do You Think You Are, my family are not from exciting places to show on TV, nor do they come from a line of aristocracy or major scandal. Most of them spent their lives in a small area, moving a few streets; they were mainly working class, working in cotton or down the mines. Nevertheless, there’s almost always something of interest!

Without more ado, meet John Harrison.

John Harrison

John was born 19 January 1869, in a place called Bramhall, near Stockport. His mother was Elizabeth Harrison, who’d also been born in Bramhall 20 years earlier. As for his father, I have no idea. There’s no name on the birth certificate. We can speculate what had happened, but John was definitely born ‘out of wedlock’ as the saying goes. The registrar had no obligation to record the father’s name at that time, even if Elizabeth had told him. It could be seen as surprising that she had registered the birth at all, as it was not a legal obligation until 1875, when it became mandatory for parents to register their children. Prior to that, it was the registrar’s responsibility to find out abut births, marriages and deaths. Illegitimacy had also become even more stigmatised since the 1834 Poor Laws, which had removed any need for the father to take responsibility for their children (or rather, removes the need of the parish to do so, who would claim money from the father); by making the mother completely responsible for the child until they were 16, without providing any parish support, the government of the time thought they could reduce all the female sexual immorality that led to these children, because, of course, it was always completely the fault of the women.

This lack of father could be the reason for the family story of John being the son of the local lord, his mother supposedly being in service at the time.

Bramhall

(screenshot from National Library Of Scotland Maps)

As you can see from the map, that could have been Bramall Hall, the home of the Davenports. William Davenport Davenport was resident at the time in question, although he did die in February 1869. But this is unlikely, given the profession of Elizabeth. In the 1861 census, she was listed as a Silk Hand Loom Weaver, (at the age of 13), in 1871, she was still working in the silk trade, as a Card Room Hand. Did she decide to try a different job and is there any truth in the family rumour? We’ll never know.

In the 1871 census, John and Elizabeth were living with her father and stepmother in Bramhall Moor (you can see this labelled pretty clearly in the map), along with her younger sister Maria. Her father was John Harrison (b. 1824 in Cheadle), a silk weaver, and her mother was Mary Williamson, who’d died in 1849. Given the proximity of dates, there is a strong possibility that she had died as a result of Elizabeth’s birth, a fate met at a rate of around 50 per 1000 births. John and Mary had married in 1844 and Elizabeth was their second child. John married again in 1850, a year into his widowhood, and had a further daughter.

In 1872, Elizabeth married Isaac Hallworth, who lived not too far away in Norbury Moor. His father was a Coal Miner, but the children went into the silk trade. Isaac himself was a Hatter at the time of the marriage. Hat making and silk making had been an important industry in the area since the 16th century, as demonstrated by the presence of Hat Works, the UK’s only museum completely devoted to hats, hat making (and the associated silk industry. Elizabeth and Isaac had at least 6 children, almost all of whom went into the hat industry too. They stayed in the area for the next 40 or so years. Elizabeth died in December 1920, at the age of 72, in Watford Hospital. At the time, she was living next door to her son, Allen. Allen had moved to Watford around 1910, to work with British Rail. We can assume that Elizabeth had moved down sometime after Isaac’s death in 1914. She was buried back up near to where she had been born and lived for most of her life, at St Thomas’s in Norbury.

So, back to John. By 1881, the family had moved to London Rd, the main road south in the area. There were 3 children by then, John, Allen and Alice. By 1891, they had moved again, to Arden Grove. John was still living at home, working as a Felt Hatter. the family had grown by another 4 children, all still at schools. Arden Grove was closer into town, near to St Thomas’s Church off Higher Hillgate, but no longer exists on maps.

In Sept 1892, John married Hannah Harwood. Born in Bosden, the daughter of Robert Harwood, a cotton dealer, and Alice Larkin, who was originally from Ireland and one of the very few of my ancestors who weren’t English. Hannah was the youngest of their 6 children, the 4th daughter. At the time of the marriage, she was living with her family at 19 London Road; Robert Harwood was still living there at his death in 1912.

Hannah Harwood

(Hannah in later years)

At some point, they moved into 33 Crosby St, a small, terraced house not too far away. It looks like it’s a typical 2 up 2 down house; you could assume that the bathroom was in the back yard. They were there in the 1901 census and it was listed as the address of the hatter John Harrison in the 1902 and 1907 trade directories.

Crosby St

Crosby St from Google Streetmap. From the outside, it won’t have changed that much, probably just new doors and windows. John would definitely not had the 4 wheelie bins though.

From 1893 through to 1909, they had 9 children. I only know about 8 so far, but the 1911 census identified that the 9th had died at some point. From what I have discovered so far, all of the children lived and died in the same area around Hazel Grove, Stockport, except for Fred who at some point moved to Blackpool, or at least died there.

  • Leonard, b 1893. became a Hairdressed
  • Sydney b. 1897,
  • John, b. 1899. My great, great grandfather
  • Lizzie b. 1903
  • Lily b. 1905
  • Fred Harwood b. 1906
  • William b. 1908
  • Norah, b. 1909

In the 1911 census, the whole family were loving at 97 London Rd. They’ve moved slightly south, closer to Bramhall again. The house was also the business address of Leonard Harrison, hairdresser, as listed in the 1910 Kelly’s Directory. As far as I know, John and Hannah then lived there for the rest of their life. They were listed there in the 1939 Register and it was their home at the time of their deaths. That’s over 40 years in the same house. Again, it looks like a typical 2 up and 2 down, which makes you wonder how they lived there with 8 children! 97 is the right hand half of the Bridal Shop in the picture below.

London Rd

Screen cap from Google Street View.

And here’s how it looked in 1945

London Rd 1945

From Stockport Council records

The next reference I have for John is in the 1939 Register, where he is listed as a retired hatter foreman; he’s living with Hannah, and with 2 daughters, Lizzy and Lily, who are both ‘Tissue Paper Cap Makers’, I think another aspect of the hatter trade.

Finally, we get to his death, in the local Shaw Heath hospital, which focused on the care of the elderly. On the 29 Aug 1953, he died to the age of 84. The informant was Leonard, his son, who lived not too far away in Gordon Avenue. He’d been born during the reign of Victoria and died at the start of Elizabeth’s reign, his 6th monarch. He’d lived through 23 different tenancies of Prime Minister (although only 14 different people). He’d seen the invention of flight, radio and the television, although the odds of him actually owning a telly are low, or indeed, having been on an aeroplane. He’d seen 2 World Wars; at least 1 son fought in WW1 (and survived). Had he ever been outside of the few square miles from where he was born? Is it reasonable to assume that he’d traveled to Watford to see his mother in the time she was there?

Hannah survived for only another year, dying at home, still at 97 London Rd, early the following year. According to the obituary, it was still Leonard’s hairdressing shop after 40 years. She was buried in Norbury church.

Jan 01

2015 Weeknotes 33-34

17 – 30 Aug

Being on holiday stops you blogging, who knew!:-) Anyway, I will catch up, but I’m doing it monthly for the rest of the year.

Doing:

  • Belgian GP

    The main event was my prize trip to the Belgium Formula 1 GP, that I had won earlier in the summer from Shell. I’ve already written this up, for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the race.

  • I was out with both some F1 friends and Wine Club for dinner during the week. One of those was slightly more boozier than the other, I’ll leave you to work out which was which!
  • There was a lot of fun and games with the Gas Board/National Grid/whatever they’re called. They are slowly replacing all the gas pipes in the area, which includes the pipes into the home. Which means you need to be in for them to come and change the pipes. One complication is that the pipes to the upstairs’ neighbour go through my house, so we both need to be in to have the replacement. But he hadn’t got the message, so the replaced mine. We then spent the next 10 days trying to arrange a time we were both in and the fitters were available to do the final bit of pipework.
  • the last Disc World

    I bought the last of the Disc World novels. And then let it sit there for a few days, because once I started, it would be finished quickly, and then there would be no more. And that made me sad.

  • I went to the Notting Hill Carnival, or at least the Sunday version! I’ve never braved the full on Monday show, just the slightly quieter Sundays. It was good fun. The Full photo set is on Flickr.

    Notting Hill Carnival

    Notting Hill Carnival

Reading

  • 4 Myths about the Calais Migrants Debunked. On Mashable. One little story at least trying to put some facts in place and drown out the Daily Fail rhetoric.
  • The Coddling of the American Mind. I’ve been reading a fair bit about this. It is scary how debate and intellectual challenge is being pushed out in the name of political correctness. Yes, the white male view point has been the predominate one in western culture, yes, there is more opportunity for more people to have different viewpoints and the cultural norm to change, but that does not mean that debate should be stopped because it may ‘trigger’ people. People always playing the victim is not culturally healthy. Believing that a viewpoint is not valid or ‘less’ because of the person saying it (rather than the idea or viewpoint being challengeable) is not culturally healthy. This attitude and campus atmosphere will take a long time to change and pass.
  • So, Yalla Bye. On the Foreign Office. A fascinating account from a diplomat leaving his station in Lebanon.
  • Move over Turing. An experiment looking at how good AI is at recognising images.
  • I stopped counting! 1 definite, with the last of the Terry Pratchett books. I downloaded 7 Kindle books in this time and guess what, 2 were actually non-fiction!
  • The Time In Between by Nancy Tucker. A memoir of a teenage girl’s experience with anorexia.
  • The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett. A autobiography of an F1 mechanic.
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 32

10 Aug – 16 Aug

Hacklands

Doing

  • I had a catch up with former colleagues, as we gatecrashed the leaving drinks of another former colleague from my previous agency. Fun was had, lots of chat and gossip, lots of drink.
  • I decided that going camping for the weekend was a great idea! Well, not just camping, but to a hacking event called ‘Hacklands‘, organised by Helen Keegan and friends. A wonderful weekend, with data talks, photography lessons and lots of music.

    Hacklands

    Hacklands

Reading

  • Worked my way through 4 books.
  • How Uber is changing life for Women in Saudi Arabia. I can’t even begin to explain my issues with how the religious rules mean women are treated in somewhere like Saudi, and I have dislike for Uber in that it most definitely is not ‘sharing economy’ but is an excellent example of how companies can make money out of ‘zero hours contracts’ (I know they’re not really that, but they’re definitely not employees with benefits), but what is happening here is where things can come together and improve things.
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 31

3 Aug – 9 Aug

Doing

  • Dinner at Marcus at Wine Club. Another Michelin restaurant, although one I’d eaten at before. They were having a dinner offer, the lunch menu at lunch prices, so we got together for some chat and food and wine.

    Lunch at Marcus

  • More vaccinations on saturday, final round of them, before I headed into town for the Shell V-Power Hunt, which I’ve written about. I was very happy to win this :-)

    Shell The Hunt London

Reading

  • Two book read this week. still just the fiction. Sometime soon, i may read a none fiction!
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 30

27 July – 2 Aug

Harbour

Doing

  • some weeks I get really busy, most weeks I do little. This is another of the latter, must be because of summer! I did travel down to Southampton way on Tuesday for an away day of working, with a gorgeous view of Hamble harbour.
  • The weather turned stormy this week. Not only down on the south coast, but in London. But stormy skies and sun peaking through make great pictures

    Evening Skies

  • Had a weekend lunch at Michael Nadra, an excellent local restaurant that does not get enough credit.

    Michael Nadra

  • On Sunday, I wandered down the road to see the Prudential Road race rush past. As Chiswick Bridge is pretty close to the start of the race, everyone was still bunched together.

    Prudential Classic Bike Ride

Reading

  • Had a massive reading binge, got through 5 books. Weekends, commuting and up to late in the evening! Yes, I read too much…
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 29

20 July – 26 July

Even when nothing happened…I’m going to FINISH these for the year :-)

Doing

  • The pitch meeting I was working on was on the Tuesday of this week, so another night in the hotel just over the road from work, ready to be in the office at 7 for last minute prep.
  • Once that was over, Thursday was the Office Summer Party, which was held just over the road in Piano Works. This appeared to e a hit, mainly because there was no travel, no theme, no need to dress up in fancy dress, it was just go over the road, have lots of food and drink and have a singalong and dance to the house band, who took your requests and played them on the pianos. Sometimes, agency office parties get too complicated! But there were no photos taken by me (which is probably good…)
  • Finished the week watching the F1 in a bar with a friend. Slightly too much wine was drunk

Reading

  • Two books, again some more sci-fi award winners. Started on the Bujold Vorkosigan book series, so that’s about 16 to read.
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 28

13 July – 19 July

Doing

  • bah. nothing. absolutely nothing. Working hard on a pitch, staying over at work. On occasion, it’s just easier to get a bed in short walking distance from office rather than traveling to and from home, if you finish after 10 and back in for 7ish! Work at the weekend.
  • Getting some travel vaccinations. I had tetanus, typhoid, diptheria, polio, with hep A and Hep b later in the month. The first 4 make your arm hurt for the next day. the Hep A/B is really painful for abut 30mins and then is fine. Have decided not to do malaria after a discussion of the risks of my travel vs risks of the prophylactics.

Reading

  • despite all the work, I appeared to have made my way through 3 books. Well, I bought 3 this week,
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 27

Doing

  • A relatively quiet week, with 2 running club events. First of all was the AGM, which wasintereting to listen to all the things that happens in the club. Secondly was Sports Day – a group of us got together to do some sports – egg and spoon race, long jump, shot put and the dressing up 400m. (ie run round the track putting on clothes evey 100m). A lot of good fun!

    W4 Harriers Sports Day

    W4 Harriers Sports Day

  • Just 3 books read, carrying on with my scifi award winners list.

Reading

Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 26

28 June – 5 July

Doing

  • Had a second day at the Formula E at Battersea Park. Overall, this was a great event, helped by reasonable weather (even if there were some showers). But I ended up watching the races from a deckchair in front of a big screen instead of watching the track as in general, views were pretty bad and there were no track screens. Battersea is not necessarily a spectator track – although the off track space and events were excellent. I’m not sure I’d go watch it again next year if at Battersea, even though I like watching the aces on TV.

    Formula E at Battersea

    Formula E at Battersea

  • I had dinner at Lima, a great Peruvian restaurant. Braised Octopus was a superb dish.

    Lima Restaurant

  • On Saturday, I headed up to the British GP. I’d managed to pick up a last minute ticket for qualyfying day when the circuit had a sale, so got a good deal for some hospitality at Stowe Corner Drivers’ Lounge. Very nice, but not as good as Silverstone Six he year before, which had both a better view and a better experience. Last year, you were sitting on a table, with serving set up as a buffet. This year, high stools, no where near as comfortable and a lot of the food was taken around on trays, so you were lucky to get some things. The main difference was that the Drivers Lounge did have a host and did interviews with various drivers, so you did get some inside information.

    Silverstone Qualifying 2015

    Silverstone Qualifying 2015

  • I only attended the circuit for qualifying. On the Sunday I headed down towards Southampton to watch the race with friends and a BBQ. A nice small gathering, with great food :-)

    BBQ

Reading

  • It seems to be award season, so I’ve been downloading a few winners/books of winners, including Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This story, primarily about an AI, is unusual in that the AI itself cannot/does not bother to recognise gender. So everyone is a she, regardless. You could assume that everyone encountered is female, but they’re not and there is definitely some cognitive dissonance produced when you realise some are male.
Aug 25

Race Day at the Belgian GP with Shell Motorsports

Belgian GP Race Day

Our final day at the track! Surprisingly the trip in on the morning was pretty much the same as on the previous days. We hit traffic at the same place and got to the track around 10 again. Before we left, our instructions for the end of the day were made plain – bags to be labelled with where they were going (airport or train), and everyone to leave as soon as the race finished! It was a long trip back to our departure points.

All clear on that, I made my way to the grandstand for the GP2 race, and got to see Alexander Rossi claim his first win of the season. Rossi is a driver I’d seen speak a few times, as when he was with Caterham, he’d turn up at quite a few fan events; it was great to see him on the podium.

Belgian GP Race Day

Back into the Shell suite and time to get into place for the Kimi chat. The room was full; the suite and the GP is used as a B2E/B2B event and they were in full swing in awarding prizes for great work across their forecourts in Europe. But as the time for the appearance got closer, the room moved from comfortably sat in seats to ‘how close can i get to the stage’ mode. There were lots of phones in the air recording Raikkonen’s brief interview; it was unfortunate that after stopping in Q2 and a gearbox penalty means he was going to start from 16th; he was not in the most chatty of moods before the crowd but even so, lots of pictures and videos were taken.

Belgian GP Race Day

Now time for waiting, we had 2 hours before the race start. Which meant lunch and a chance to take a look at the vintage cars that we lined up next to our venue all ready for the drivers parade.

Belgian GP Race Day

The grandstands were full for the race, well, almost. Some people had decided to stay indoors and watch on the big screen in comfortable sofas (and bar and food close by). But Sofia and I want to watch the cars so up we went for the 43 laps. The crowd in the grandstand were definitely partisan for Ferrari, being mainly (all?) Shell employees and guests, and were cheering all the moves being made. Or groaning when Vettel’s tyre went on the last but one lap. I think Grosjean would still have taken the place, but it was not a good way for that to happen.

Belgian GP Race Day

The chequered flag flew, Hamilton won and then we were out of there. Straight off the grandstand and outside the gates before the champagne was spraying. Onto our minibus to take 8 of the group onto Brussels train station. Well, that was the plan, it appears the police and road closures had other ideas, sending us south for 45 mins before letting us get on the motorway, where we promptly turned north, 15mins later going back past the track with a view across to the pitstraight grandstands. At that point, the phone said 2 hours to go; we would have made it but there was traffic and traffic and even more traffic. the minutes skipped by (every single one of them accompanied by a high pitched beep beep beep as there was an alarm they could not turn off) and our ETA was getting further and further away. One last burst of traffic and that was it, no chance of making the train now. Our friendly hosts had actually made it to the station before us – they were not subject to the bus detour – so we’d been in touch and they were busy re-arranging the arrangements. By the time got there (7:59, 7 mins after train departure, we were SO close), tickets were being sorted for the following morning and hotel almost re-organised – we were lucky enough to get the last set of rooms in the station hotel. Time for one last meal together before the early starts the next day. From hotel to work took me 2.5 hours – some of my colleagues have longer commutes than that!

In summary, a wonderful weekend. The team from Shell (and their agency) made sure we had a great time, ensured we had a few different experiences and made sure we learnt about Shell V-Power and the science that goes behind it with some conversations with some fascinating people who make the products. All of this at a classic F1 venue with plenty of time to watch the cars. Thank you very much!

(and below..the video from the event)

Posted in f1
Aug 22

Saturday at the Belgian GP with Shell Motorsports

It’s supposed to rain at Spa. A day at the track without full waterproofs in the bag is pushing your luck, you’re bound to get wet. Except, it seems, in 2015. So far, sun. And even more sun. It is very, very warm, so much so that I left the coat and brolly behind today and had no issues. The covered grandstand today was for shade rather than dryness.

Belgian GP Day 2

It’s hard to gather together 25 people, so we set off on the Saturday morning a wee bit later than advertised and hit the expected traffic. But overall, only about 1:15 in travel – I wonder what the race day traffic will be like? On arrival, I dashed out to go and meet Mike at Status Grand Prix for a chat and a quick look at the garage. The GP3 qualifying was taking place at the time, so also got to see the cars coming down the pitlane…if only any of my photos had worked!!! It was good to catch up and chat about the various financial challenges of F1 vs the Gp2/GP3 scene; I’d previously met Mike when he worked for Virgin/Marussia so he knows the issues there.

Belgian GP Day 2

Next up, back to the Shell suite where the Shell Motorsports team had arranged for James Allen to come and chat with the group. This time, I managed to make the chat instead of missing it to watch cars. The questions and answers ranged from Pirelli tyres to Honda engines to FOM social media. It also took in whether or not the sport was ‘good’ now vs in the past (or do all fans look to the past with rose-tinted spectacles, no appreciating what we have now) and with James assessment of the best and worst drivers on the current grid (Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel for the former, with Verstappen getting an honourable mention).

Belgian GP Day 2

Time now for FP3, a last chance to assess the cars before qualifying. Lunch was followed by the chance to take part in a pitstop challenge, the first one of these I’ve done. I was on the gun and it took a few goes before I worked out how to take the gun off and not leave the wheel nut on the wheel! But the team got it together and we managed a respectable 2.8 seconds on one of our attempts.

Belgian GP Day 2

We also got the chance for another chat with a fuel scientist, in their public facing lab (which was actually the one they use for Le Mans) and went into more depth about the oils they use.

Belgian GP Day 2

Time now for qualifying, which went, in the main as expected. Although Ferrari did not have a good day, with Raikkonen stopping on track and Vettel only managing ninth. We’ll see how they do in the race. Thankfully. for my fantasy league results, HAM got pole. All I need now is for VET to make up 7 places!

Belgian GP Day 2

Back to Shell suite for a meet up with István Kapitány, the EVP retail for Shell (ie the man who had to say yes to spend all the money on the competition/promotion I won). A nice guy all round who seemed very happy to see some very happy competition winners!

Final car event of the day was the GP2 race; due to the red flag we had to leave before it was finished however. I think that is the one big difference between doing this myself (when I’d be early and late to watch all the sessions) and being part of a party that has time deadlines. Twitter then becomes the friend to watch via text commentary :-)

Belgian GP Day 2

The journey back to the hotel was via another detour, but we made it in time for our lovely meal out. The Shell team have been brilliant at making sure we are fed, watered and entertained! Tomorrow, race day. It looks like HAM, ROS at least for the Podium, not sure who else will make it though, Spa is a great track to bring the surprises. The first of which is the lack of rain forecast!

(the following picture was taken on the way back to the hotel after the meal. I have NO IDEA what they’re trying to say in this ‘art’}

Belgian GP Day 2

Posted in f1
Aug 22

A trip to the Belgian GP, day 1

In the previous post, you’ll have read that I managed to win a lovely VIP trip to the Belgian GP, through a competition organised by Shell Motorsports. Finally, after a few email exchanges, that the day arrived and we were off to SPA.

Sofia and I were travelling by Eurostar, as were a number of others, both competition winners and journalists/bloggers. From Brussels train station, 7 of us piled into a cab for the hour’s trip to Maastricht, for our hotel. This in itself was about an hour from Spa – as the track is in the middle of the Ardennes forest, there is not exactly a lot of accommodation around and many people camp, or do a long trip to the track everyday.

Belgian GP

Once at the hotel, checked in, we got the all important timetable – and tickets! The precious tickets, 3 days grandstand and access to the Shell Hospitality Suite at the bottom of Eau Rouge. But before we would do any of that, our first treat of the weekend, dinner with the Ferrari reserve driver, Estaban Gutierrez. There was no time in his schedule to get all the way out to us, so we were bundled into a coach and heading to Spa, to a small place called Roannay just by the track. It is apparently the place where Bernie Ecclestone stays, which is why it must be one of the very few rural hotels with a helipad out the back.

Belgian GP

Our guest arrived, only a little late, and the photocall was done. Then dinner, and Estaban joined a couple of the tables for a chat, along with some of the Shell fuel experts to chat about how they develop the fuel for the teams.

Belgian GP

As with all aspects of a Formula 1 team, the development of fuels is a continuous battle, always looking for ways to eek out more power and more efficiency. This year alone, they have managed to find an extra 5HP through development. I asked our Shell expert if the fuel and the engine were co-developed, if they had ever suggested an engine tweek because of a fuel improvement. The answer, surprisingly was yes, it can happen that way and when it does, all improvements are considered. As expected, we also spent quite a bit of time chatting about Shell V-Power and how the race team fuel development has inputted into the road car fuel. Another interesting fact about that is that V-Power is now often used for racing cars themselves (club racing etc) as it works as well as the specialist fuel but is a lot cheaper! The dinner over, we headed back, one last drink taken in the lovely warm evening in the square.

Friday dawned bright and sunny. Yes, sunny,, hot, completely weird weather for Spa which is traditionally a bit wet. Back on the coach and we were finally headed to the circuit. Quite a few people in the group had never been to Spa (in fact for some, this was their first race) and it was great to see their reaction when they turned the corner to see Eau Rouge for the first time. Our home for the weekend was the Shell Hospitality Suite which is at the bottom of the Eau Rouge hill. Just up from it is our grandstand – which provides us with a glorious view!

Belgian GP

Before I got the chance to sit there for a while. we were first up for a whistlestop paddock visit to take a look at the Shell touring laboratory. We learnt about the fuel checking, taking samples every single time it moves containers and continuously checking them for consistency. Anything out of the ordinary, something as simple as contamination from a glove, can mean that the fuel no longer matches the reference sample and is therefor ‘illegal’. On the Helix oil side, checks are run that allow early signs of engine trouble to be detected. Anything strange in those samples can mean that a bit of the engine may be starting to break down – and the oil analysis can pick things up before anyone else.

Belgian GP

We also got to see Maldonaldo back in the paddock after his FP1 crash! Unfortunately, no garage tour though. :-(

Belgian GP

Belgian GP

The rest of my day was mainly spent watching cars. Which means I missed the visit from David Croft from Sky who came down to chat with the group – I was watching GP2. I did get to listen to Marc Gene at the end of the day though, when the group was invited to ask him questions about his career, the cars and how Shell helps them. He’s the one that mentioned the improvement that can be seen this year in the fuel and how it does get noticed in the car; he also chatted about how the whole system is getting more efficient, with fuell use now down to about 2.5 litres a lap (average over tracks) whereas before the recent changes, it was about 3ltrs.

Belgian GP

First day done…back to hotel for dinner and chat. Two more days to go.

Posted in f1
Aug 09

The Hunt by Shell Motorsport

Shell The Hunt London

It was a lovely day in London yesterday. It was made even better by Shell who ran an event – follow the clues, find the Ferrari, answer a question and see if you’re quick enough to get there first and win a trip to the Belgian GP. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I was fast enough and I did win :-)

Shell are a long term sponsor of motorsport, with their partnership with Ferrari being one of the more longstanding ones in Formula 1. They also sponsor the Belgian GP, so they tend to do a lot of hospitality at the race, I heard the number of 800 people who would be guests over the weekend. And 1 of them will be me this year, along with the other winner of the day, our friends plus the winners of the other events.

The competition started off with having to register for the event, they then invited 70 people to the actual hunt, starting off on the Southbank. A surprising number of people did not turn up for this – i reckon there was only about 30, so the odds improved immediately. This is always an issue when running promotions like this, getting the people to actually enter and take part – but if you don#t take part, then you have no chance. As i looked around at the people gathered, I was trying to assess my chances. At this point, we had no idea what the form of the treasure hunt would take. Would we need to jum on and off tubes? How hard would the questions be? Just what were the rules going to be. I was expected to have to do some running – I came prepped with trainers – but not sure how much. There were definitely some speedy looking people standing around, I was not expecting to be able to win a footrace.

The briefing went through the rules. We were going to get the clues via DM, we had to make our way to each of the checkpoints, take a selfie, with the info, and tweet them, in the right order. At the end, we’d find a Ferrari California T and if we answered a question right, the prize was a VIP trip to the Belgian GP. The prize was only for the first 2 people to make it though, both to win a pair of tickets. It was clear that we could take whatever form of transport we wanted to get to all the locations.

Shell Motorsport The Hunt London

The clues were delivered, the countdown happened and we were off!!! I went off at a steady jog, first stop the Imax. quite a few in front in me but as I got close, for some reason quite a few seemed to be going the wrong way, I stuck to my plan and got the first image. Next stop, Somerset House. Up to Waterloo Bridge, taking the decision to run instead of catch bus or cab at this point. Found the next checkpoint on the Strand, repeat the selfie taking and then switch transport mode.

Shell The Hunt London

Living in London and knowing this particular area well, I knew it was a bit of distance to the next 2 checkpoints, time to take a cab! Not quite sure what the cab driver made of me out of breath..but he got to the Millennium Bridge as fast as he could for check point 3. Then another cab, luckily there was one right there. As I got next to the City Hall, I saw two people running ahead of me, so I jumped out the cab and dashed after them!. I had no idea if I was any where near the front but I kept going to see the Ferrari finally set out on the grass, with people waving checquered flags and the car surrounded by security.

Shell The Hunt London

A quick check that I’d done all the tweets then time to try and answer the final question. We’d been told to read all the checkpoints trivia, but the answer turned out not to be there, but right in front of me! It took my 3 tweets to actually get the right answer and all the time I was waiting for them to call another name to go with Jon, who was there first and had already got his prize. But yes, mine was the name they called out next and I HAD WON!!! WOOT!!!

Shell The Hunt London

I had so much adrenaline that I was still shaking 15mins later. We had to do a number of retakes but the film, as us winners had beaten the camera team to the final checkpoint, so we did a few more run ins and car openings. Then it was off to the pub where the Shell team had got food ad drink awaiting – plus everyone got fuel vouchers as well.

The was a final little bonus – a ride in the Ferrari. First time in a Ferrari – and it’s not often i get to sit in a car that cost more than my flat did!

Ferrari across Tower Bridge

Posted in f1
Jul 12

2015 Week Notes 25

21-27 June

JSR 2015

Doing

  • A birthday party at the beginning of the week, for both a friend and her company – she’s busy trying to set up Wisher, a gifting app.
  • I only had 2 days in the office this week; on Wednesday, I went to Marcus for lunch, another one on my Michelin list, this one a 2 stars. Gorgeous food.
    Lunch at Marcus
  • Marcus was quite accommodating when I turned up carrying a huge backpack…after lunch I headed to Reading for the evneing, to camp out prior to the Joint Service Regatta on the Thursday, where the Army, Navy and Air Force rowing crews compete every year.
    JSR 2015
  • Back home for the Friday, getting caught up on admin, including getting my first round of vaccinations for my holiday. Arms filled with tetanus, typhoid, polio and diptheria.
  • Had a lovely lunch at a local pub on the river, The White Hart at Barnes. I’m always a sucker for smoked salmon and pickled cucumber, definitely one of my favourite dishes.
    Lunch at the White Hart
  • And the final event of the week was Day 1 of the Formula E race. More on that at next report.
    Formula E at Battersea

Reading

Running

  • Just the one Sunday run this week, the rest of it got a little busy.
Jul 12

2015 Week Notes 24

14-20 June

Amba Mile

Doing

  • The Amba City Mile race, a chance to see how fast I can run a mile. The answer is – not very fast. There wa a good group from my running club there and they put up a strong showing.
  • The rest of the week was very quiet, although a lot was spent hanging around with colleagues. A project we were working on got moved, so we went from long, long work weeks to suddenly having very little to do. So in the nice weather, it was time for the pub.

Reading

  • One book, another one on the theme of closed societies, this one set on a generation ship, The Forever Watch by David Ramirez. this one kept me guessing all the way to the end, with a final twist to surprise you.
  • >What is Code by Paul Ford. A brilliant article exploring what exactly is code, approaching the question from many different levels

Running

  • Just the mile race this week, although with about 6 miles additional running before and after the race.
Jul 12

2015 Week Notes 23

7-13 June

Dorney Colour Run
Doing

  • On Sunday, I went and ran my first Colour Run, at Dorney, which was complicated by various blowup obstacles. I’ve never done one of these runs..they definitely seem to be targeted at the younger set, with lots of groups of teens having a lot of fun rolling round in powder. I went as part of a team and we had a fun run, dodging the colour and tackling the obstacles whilst keeping a steady run all round.

    Dorney Colour Run

  • Had a work event on Tuesday, a few drinks to celebrate the finish of the AAR Fitness Challenge. This was 10 weeks where groups of 4 all wore pedometers and attempted to get the most steps. As a team, we did not do brilliantly, but we had a lot of fun trying.
  • Thursday was another night out, where the founder of Tsu, Sebastian Sobczak hosted a few London tech bloggers. It was a good night and learnt a lot about this interesting social network where you get rearded for sharing content. It’s a platform that is growing steadily and getting traction.

Reading

  • Managed to get through 3 books this week; the 2 sequels to the Connolly book from last week and Dark Eden by Chris Beckett, as fascinating look at a society on a planet, descended from a crashed ship, where the energy is thermal rather than light.
  • Love this site from National Library of Scotland – old maps aligned to new google maps. You can just keep moving around and seeing how things changed over the last 100+ years.

Running

  • Just the 2 runs this week, seems to be about my average at the moment, really need to get back on it. So the Colour Run at Dorney and a quick river loop. So only about 6 miles in total.
Jul 12

2015 week Notes 22

31 May – 6 June

Chiswick Food Fair

Doing

  • Lots and lots of work, so noting happening during the week. On the saturday, I popped along to the Chiswick Food Fair, one of the events taking place in the first ever Chiswick food festival – Eat Chiswick.

Reading

  • Just 1 book read, back to the fantasy, this time from Harry Connolly

Running

  • Just a couple of runs this week, one of them with the work running group, the other a 10k river bridge loop, just keeping the miles ticking over.
Jul 12

2015 Week Notes 21

24-30 May

London 10k

Doing

  • Sunday was a day in town, meeting up with a friend for lunch and to watch the Monaco GP in the pub. A great day, with just a little too much wine :-)
  • The fun the day before did not help that much on Monday, when I ook part in the Bupa London 10k. A superbly organised race around the closed streets of London, with 2 short of 12000 runners taking part. It was great to be on the same course as people like Jo Pavey. And it was good to be out racing with so many people anywy, I get a real kick out of mass events like this, even if I know that I can run/race at smaller events for far less, it’s just fun watching everyone try so hard at these types of events.

    London 10k

  • the rest of the week was work, lots of work, with some hard prep for various meetings, so much so I ended up staying in town one night, for the first time using HotelTonight, which is a pretty good app for last minutes stays.

Reading

Runnning

  • This was quite a good week for running. As well as the 10k, got a midweek run to work in and Park Run on the Saturday.
Jul 12

2015 Week Notes 20

17-23 May

Doing

  • Nothing, absolutely nothing. Dairy says nothing, photos says nothing. This was a very quiet week. A week filled with lots of work and then lots of housework.

Reading

  • Only the one book read. Finishing off the Outlander Series. Not sure I want to see it on TV, but will keep an eye out for it.

Running

  • Just the one run, a little 5k on the Saturday.
May 31

2015 Week Notes 19

10-16th May 2015

Doing

  • I started the week running Hackney Half Marathon. A closed road course in its second year, it has had a lot of publicity locally. There were some organisational issues in the 1st year, but it looks like they had definitely learnt from them, as I found the organisation of the day of a very high quality. Great runner village, great course and good support around Hackney all lead to me having a great day. I as really happy having a steady half run, with no walk breaks and feeling in control all way round.

    Hackney Half

  • On Monday, my parents came down for a few days visit, partly to see me for my birthday. I took the Monday off and we went to Greenwich for the afternoon, spending much of it wandering round the Greenwich Observatory. Lots of good science there and a chance for me to see one of of my favourite pieces – the Harrison Clocks.

    Greenwich

    Greenwich

  • On Wednesday, I was invited to a Zomato blogger evening that took place in the Andaz Hotel. An excellent evening in 3 of their venues – write up to follow!

    Zomato Blogger Visit: Andaz Hotel

  • The final activity of the week was a trip to the cinema to see Avengers:Age of Ultron. Overall, a good film, a lot of fun, but Stark is becoming a cliche and they seem to ignore some basic physics (yes, silly statement in a superhero movie, but I still think the ending was just ridiculous..I’m pretty sure to do real damage a hunk of rock would need to be far, far higher.). As it was a nice day, after a good lunch at the Duke, I came home via a stroll round Key Gardens and a couple of hours watching cricket on Kew Green, just a lovely relaxed day.

    Kew Gardens

    Kew Cricket

Reading

  • Just the one book finished, I’m reading longer ones at the moment and they are taking time.
  • Marketing Crack – Kicking the Habit an article about capitalism and one of the things that I never understand, how the requirements (often legal) to maximise shareholder value leads to short term, thinking and behaviours that are often antagonistic to long term survival in a changing world.

Running

  • the Hackney Half Marathon on the Sunday
  • Only 1 other run this week, Tuesday morning run club, a full team made their way out for the early start.
  • The rest of the week was a right off, a head cold moved into the chest, taking me out for a week with coughing