Sep 11

Meeting the challenge

Way back in January, I took at look at my ambitions for 2013. One f them, in typical New Year fashion, as a physical change. I’d tried before, and failed, but hoped that by adding another dimension to my tracking would make a difference. And it absolutely did. Using the Fitbit, Myfitnesspal and a long term goal, this year has been one of physical change.

On 8th September 2013 I ran a half marathon in an official time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 18 seconds. If you have known me at any time over the last 20 years, you know that me doing that is a minor miracle! I don’t run. I have never really run and even at my fittest, when I never ran.

Ready #rttb Run to the Beat

But running is the easiest exercise to fit into the day. It’s also the easiest way to meet my step target that the Fitbit sets. So I started, In January, with a Couch to 5k programme, finding it hard to even run for a minute. If I was going to be doing this running, I set a goal, entering the Run to the Beat half marathon, that a friend from work had completed in 2012. My sister also entered – so now the challenge was on.

It’s 9 months later. I’ve tracked 3,464,503 steps on the Fitbit. I’ve tracked 419,289 calories eaten, 573,251 calories used. I’ve lost fifty pounds in weight. And I’ve ran a half-marathon in a not too bad time for my first ever race of that distance.

The targets have been met…now to keep it going! New challenges and goals to set, to keep me focused. have I mentioned I’ve entered the ballot for the London marathon?

Mar 21

2013 Week 10

2 Mar to 8th Mar

After the quiet of last week, this week was a little more exciting.

Reading

Doing

  • Went shopping! Yes, not that much of a strange activity for most, but for me to volunteer to go shopping with friends is very, very unusual. It was all to do with getting out and trying on some new sized clothes, as I appear to have lost about 2 dress sizes so far this year. (well, at least in some stores). Bought one top, but had a great time trying things on, then drinking fizzy stuff, which is the only sensible way to finish off a shopping trip
  • Work dinner at BAFTA, A chance for the senior team to get together and let our hair down a little, even if it was a Monday night. A lovely full service dinner was pulled together plus a few drinks. A few of us even ended up in the Ritz, some place I’ve always wanted to have a cocktail in, even given the slightly large price! I was sensible and went home relatively early, others were not so and ended up not very well the next day!

    Cocktails at the Ritz

The rest of the week was the usual round of work, a bit of gym, and that’s about it! I was saving myself up for the next few buys weeks I think.

Mar 20

2013 Week 9

Sat 23rd Feb – Fri 1 Mar

You’d think i could do this, wouldn’t you. One post a week, that’s all I need. But no, I end up doing other things over the weekend and then at work time and the one post gets left behind until major catch up sessions like this one! So what did I do way back at the end of Feb?

Reading

Not a lot. I have no saved links for this period, so it must have been quiet!

Doing

  • The weekend was spent washing, tidying and sorting things out after a week away. And sorting out all my photos to organise the F1 ones into teams. One of those non-exciting housework weekends.
  • The rest of the week was fairly quiet too. Well, except for being a person down in the team,, so we were covering that work. And I was finalising a slight re-organisation of the team. And I was reviewing the interview results from the previous week, where the first round interviews for my replacement person had been taking place. We decided who to invite back and set them a brief to respond to, concious that by doing so, we probably compromised their next weekend!
  • On the Friday, I went along to ‘An Evening with Joe Saward‘ who’s an F1 journalist. It was set up as a Q&A session where the audience just threw out questions and Joe answered and told stories based on his long experience with the sport. It was interesting how different the crowd was to the other regular F1 event I go to (#badgerbash, more on this later in the year) with the audience being primarily mature men with very few women. I think that’s a result of who the journalist is.

Well, that was a quiet week (outside of work!).

Feb 26

2013 Week 8

A quick follow up to catch up the weeks.

Reading

  • Fitbit talks about tracking and privacy. I’m using a Fitbit and I love it. Just wearing it makes me think about being more active, to climb the stairs instead of the escalator. As mentioned in the article, the ecosystem is great and I hope increased competition does not restrict this.
  • A comment on whether Silicon Valley really is a meritocracy or if that’s just the white male view. The concept of privilege is not going away, nor is the vastly different perceptions of it.
  • Moshi Monsters and why kids love them. Yep, building a new kids property is hard. Moshi pretty much nails it
  • Why Americans are WEIRD. A challenge to the accepted wisdom that people’s behaviours and perceptions are fundamentally the same, based on biology, so using western (and primarily US) people for studies would apply worldwide. this research shows that is not the case and Americans are often one of the most outlying of groups

Doing

  • HOLIDAY! yes my first holiday of the year. Now, most people would not call what I did as a holiday, but I enjoyed it. It was a trip to Barcelona to watch the F1 testing. So every day, travel up to the circuit and sit and watch cars go round for 7 hours. In the freezing cold and occasional rain. Then back to the city for tapas and red wine. A lovely week and one that is planned for next year too!

    2013 Barcelona F1 Testing Day 3

  • Forgot to add this for the last week entry, but I have completed a further 2 stages of the LOOP walk. Over the two weekends, I have travelled from Bexley to West Wickham Common. Three sections done, 21 to go!

    Walk the LOOP 3  -Petts Wood to West Wickham Common

Jan 03

2013: Change, Connect, Challenge

So yesterday, I took a look back on the mixed bag of 2012. But am I going to do something different in the upcoming year, or just let the world drift on as it is and see what happens. As you may guess from the title, the answer to that is no. 2013 HAS to be a year of difference, where work is put in and I don’t just enjoy what life brings.

I’ve decided to think about #themewords for the year. Many of the people I admire have been using this for a few years, whether it’s just the one like Tara Hunt or 3 words, like CC Chapman or Chris Brogan. Thinking of themes and words makes you contemplate the year, what you want to get out of it and clarify your mind. And writing them down, sharing them with the world, makes it more likely that you will follow them through (or so said the psychologist on BBC Breakfast this week 🙂 )

The words are straightforward, but what do they mean for me?

  • Change: Looking back over last year, there are many things that need to change. far easier to say, so my focus has been on methods to drive the change, through small, easily adopted methods. This is not the rip it all up and throw it away kind of changes I am looking at, but ways to take behaviours and techniques from areas of my life that work and apply them to others.
  • Connect: As I said yesterday, my default mode is hermit. I’d rather be home reading than out partying. But that means I am losing connections with family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances. I need to bring that back together and maintain those connections, or reconnect where they have been lost.
  • Challenge: Or this can also be challenges! I need to change what I’m doing. I need to get others to challenge (positively) what I am doing. And I need challenges to motivate me to do things.

Change, Connect, Challenge. The theme and underlying philosophy for what I will do this year, across the focus aspects of my life. But what does that mean in some practical terms?

Physical

Measure, measure and measure again. I’m no stranger to the idea of the quantified self, but the reality has mainly been location check-ins rather than physical measurements. I’m very good at location check-ins, it is a habit that is now ingrained – my 569th check-in at the office this morning definitely proves that. Knowing what I am doing by measuring makes me think more about the actions and allows me to change things. if you don’t know, then there is little you can do to change. When I’ve tracked activities and calories in the past, it works to change things, but the practice stops and then the behaviours drift away. I know that measurement is a key driver for me to permanently changing exercise and eating habits… so to make the bigger changes, I’m going to be focusing on a smaller change of extending my tracking behaviour.

This starts with the purchase of a Fitbit (partly funded by the Christmas voucher I got from work) to track the everyday activity. Add to that Runkeeper (for runs and walks) plus MyFitnessPal (for food/calories) that is giving me enough tracking – and more importantly reminders to phone and email – to keep me focused.

It’s not quite enough though. I’ve switched gyms, so it is now about 2 minutes from work (instead of the 15mins it was before). But more importantly, I have a gym buddy who has also signed up and we will be encouraging each other. That is a big change and should work to keep things going and help change habits.

Relationships

This is all about driving the connections. Picking up the phone more – so simple things like putting in reminders if all I’m only connecting over social media!! Getting out and about more when there are things going on. And I’m trying internet dating; I’ve had mixed reports from colleagues about this, but I may as well give it a go.

Career

I’m in my 3rd year in this role, with the 4th one heading rapidly towards me. it’s time for a change I think. Not a massive change, but I’m looking to try a few new things this year and have been talking to the management about opportunities. I’m going to be actively looking for speaking opportunities as well, to get back into that and build up a wider reputation. I know I’m good at what I do, I will be looking for occasions to get external recognition for it.

This year, I’m also going to be a mentor. I’ve been informally doing this with a friend over the last few months and now will be adding a formal mentor relationship through a group company initiative. Through a ‘Women’s Leadership Network’, they’re bringing women together across the wider group of IPG companies to support us in our careers. This brings in challenge – part of mentoring is challenging your own expectations and assumptions as well as the mentee’s, so that will be fun.

Experiences

There’s no Olympics this year – so what am I going to do! I’m already working on this. I’m going to be visiting Japan for the F1 and I can’t go all the way there without doing other things as well. I’ve set myself the challenge of completing the London Outer Orbital Path (or LOOP). Another challenge is to visit all of Wren’s churches in London. There’ll be more, I’m sure.

2013 ahead

So that’s it. Again, no resolutions, but this time a different way of documenting my ambitions and about how I frame my thinking for the year. Change. Connect. Challenge. It’s all about that.

Jan 02

2012 Review

How was 2012 for you? For me, it was pretty good – although not so good for some of the people around me who faced their own set of hard challenges.

But taking a look back at what my ambitions for the year were, they were not as successful as they should have been. For some of them, I over achieved…but for others, didn’t really even scratch the surface. I’m not going to go through each point, but going to take a larger view, ready for this year’s ambitions – splitting up my aspects of life into Physical, Relationships, Career and Experiences.

Physical

This started to so well, with consistent training to get myself ready for the Sports Relief 3 Mile run. I gathered the sponsors and prepped the body and ran up and down the Mall for 3 miles. That’s probably the longest I have run since cross-country at school. But then, it stopped. No goal, no driver, so back to bad habits. The occasional gym session, the occasional long walk, but not consistent, so no sustained change made. It’s not as though I don’t know how it all works, just not got the motivation!

Relationships

Reflecting on this over the holidays, it was definitely a poor year. And not just on the dating front (dating, what’s that?). I let family and friend relationships wane at times without putting enough energy into them. Because I was too busy at times doing other things – see the experience section! Also because my default at times is to be hermit like.

Career

A holding year. Carried on as usual, although some team members changed in my direct team, the peer group stayed pretty much the same. On a wider front, there was an occasional TV or press appearance, but again, quiet and low-key.

Experiences

Lots and lots and lots. Mainly Olympics! Think I’ll do another post with a full review of the activities I did get up to this year. I did not get a volunteer role, despite being on the reserve list all the way to the Games but made up for it by buying lots of tickets for Olympics and Paralympics.

The 2012 Ambitions

This is what I said I was going to do over the past year. Some worked, other’s didn’t.

  1. Consistently do exercise. This needs to be built into my daily activity. I’ve reactivated my gym membership – a work benefit – and am getting support through Twitter. This used to be easy…now too many things get in the way.
  2. Do 6 planned walks over the year. There’s a great book about walks around London, with the Capital Ring also looking good. A few more of these to be added this year.
  3. Visit 5 new UK places. I’m running out of close Cathedrals, but still got Bath on the list to do.
  4. Do 5 new experiences. No idea what this will involve. Hopefully it will include volunteering at the Olympics. I’ve had my first interview, just waiting to hear if I get accepted.
  5. Blog more. I’m in my 6th year of blogging and I don’t do nearly enough!
Jan 15

Playing the tourist

I decided to take a day playing tourist around London yesterday, something I do often other places, but rarely around the town i live in. The day started with Westminster Abbey. At £16 entry, it’s not cheap and unlike StPauls there’s no right to re-entry across the year, it’s a one stop deal. It’s expensive and only going to be worth it if you like wondering churches a lot! However, if you take the plunge, I recommend paying the extra £3 for the guided tour. You get over 90 minutes with an expert and get to go in places the other tourists don’t, such as under the rood screen and, prbobaly most interesting, into the shrine area of St Edward the Confessor. My biggest disappointment was that we could not take pictures at all inside the Abbey. You can buy postcards, but that does not work if all my other cathedral collections are digital!

London in Jan

Next was lunch at Asia De Cuba, in the St Martin’s Hotel. It’s not somewhere I’d normally go, but they were cooking at A Taste of Christmas and pushing their fixed price lunch – very good food, lovely surroundings.

Coconut Explosion

The National Gallery was next, to spend some time in my favourite room. If I was only ever allowed to see one gallery room again, it would be this one, Room 34. It has Whistlejacket by Stubbs dominating and is full of masterpieces from Turner, Gainsborough and Constable. A wonderful place. I also went to stare at the Ambassadors for a while.

The Ambassadors

Then across to the Savoy hotel for a cocktail. It’s one of those things on my list of ‘you must do this’. Great cocktail, gorgeous surroundings, brilliant staff and obscene prices. I’ve done it, but won’t be rushing to do it again – unless i win lots on the lottery. Then I’d buy a glass of their cheapest champagne (£17) and their most expensive (£162) and and see if I can taste the difference!

Final event of the day was my first trip to the National Theatre, to see A Comedy of Errors with Lenny Henry. I loved this, an engaging production in a modern setting. Shakespeare can be difficult to follow (I’d read up on the plot before hand, just in case) but all the players really brought the story to life. I really need to go to the theatre more, given I live in a city which has loads of productions. This is the first show I’ve seen for years.

In summary, a brilliant – if expensive – tourist day. I need to plan more!

A Comedy of Errors

Jan 02

Past and Future 2012

Time to look back and look forward again. So how did I get on with my ambitions for the last year?

So here are the 2011 ambitions.

1. Lose 1 stone. Again, not a huge target, but it’s achievable with minimal changes. I’ve got the iphone apps all set up, with Shapeup for food tracking and Runmeter for walking/running tracking and I’m writing up my exercise plans.

  • It worked…for a while. The training was happening, the food was being tracked and then it all stopped. I got a cold and a chest infection and was not able to do anything much for nearly 2 months…then I never picked it up again. I need a support structure to keep the motivation going.

2. Do 6 planned walks over the year. Last year, I did 3 group walks, which I found a good way to get some exercise and meet new people and just get out and about!. So I’m going to double that number, through a few walking groups in the areas.

  • I just about managed this. Petworth, Kinver, Canterbury to Whitstable, Boston, Cheddar Gorge, Brean Down and Southampton. Not all of them were long, but they were out and about.

3. Visit 5 new UK places. Another repeat, but just carrying on with the theme of cathedrals. I’m thinking at least Canterbury, Bath and Chichester..we’ll see about the others.

  • I did more foreign cathedrals than UK ones, but I managed the new UK places. Canterbury, Whitstable, Southampton, Petworth and Chichester.

4. Do 5 new experiences. The first is getting set up, a driving experience at Silverstone. I’m looking at Burlesque dancing classes, cooking classes and a few others, but open to suggestions!

  • I did the driving experience, in fact I ended up with 3 different varieties of them this year. Single seater around Silverstone, driving Mercedes on skid pans and being a passenger in a dragster and race car in Abu Dhabi. I went to Goodwood Revival and spent an afternoon with VIP treatment in the Paddock Club at the German GP. I went to a pop festival and a classical conference; cycled along the Santa Monica beach in LA and had a cooking lesson. I went to 4 GPs, explored Prague and Istanbul. I camped – 3 times! A great year for doing things 🙂

So how about 2012. What are my ambitions for this coming year. Well, first of all, I’m repeating last years. Why not, they make a good base for the year.

1. Consistently do exercise. This needs to be built into my daily activity. I’ve reactivated my gym membership – a work benefit – and am getting support through Twitter. This used to be easy…now too many things get in the way.

2. Do 6 planned walks over the year. There’s a great book about walks around London, with the Capital Ring also looking good. A few more of thise to be added this year.

3. Visit 5 new UK places. I’m running out of close Cathedrals, but still got Bath on the list to do.

4. Do 5 new experiences. No idea what this will involve. Hopefully it will include volunteering at the Olympics. I’ve had my first interview, just waiting to hear if I get accepeted.

5. Blog more. I’m in my 6th year of blogging and I don’t do nearly enough!

That’s all. I know it’s more of the same, but they work for me.

Jun 02

Motorsport at the Palace

I like F1, a fandom that has crept up on me over the last few years, but my experience of in-person car events has been limited to work related trips, the Paris Motor Show (which was far more shiney than any tech show) and a McLaren F1 test day at Silverstone (the benefit of working for a sponsor at the time).

However, this past weekend, there was an opportunity to change that, with Motorsport at the Palace, a sprint event being held for the first time in Crystal Palace for the first time in 10 years. It’s a timed event, run over a short course open to cars of all kinds, from a 107 year old Humber through to this year’s Tesla, an all electric car. The crowd in general skewed older than the average tech event I’d usually go to, but perhaps with a similar gender ratio. There were a lot more families though, many of them Dads passing on their passion. I had a great time, so looking forward to my next trip to something similar.

The Humber, built in 1903. Definitely a case of sitting ‘on’ the car.

Crystal Palace Sprint Racing

The Tesla, 2010. Many, many comments overhead in the crowd about this, mostly astonishment at its acceleration without any noise at all, except wheel spin.

Crystal Palace Sprint Racing

May 11

A Media Circus

With all the political shenanigans, I thought I’d wander down to Westminster to take a look at the media circus and see what was going on. All the news groups have mini studios set up and lots of politicians, ex-politicians and other commenters were coming and going. I was busy just taking in the atmosphere and grabbing the odd photo.

Loving this one of Alastair Campbell who got grabbed by a bunch of Glaswegian schoolgirls for a photo op.

Westminster Media

Then two old political adversaries, Tony Benn and Douglas Hurd, called in to do a round of interviews.

Westminster Media

Jan 04

New Year’s Ambitions

This year, I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions, but am stating some ambitions for the year. I’m only starting with 2, although more may be added later.

1. Be able to run 5k. It’s been a long time since I could do this comfortably, so the ambition is to get back into shape to be able to make this target. It involves eating better and doing more exercise, but it is all tied into a achievable goal instead of more nebulous aims of ‘exercising more’ or ‘eating less’.

2. To visit 10 new cities this year. Some of these are already planned in, I’m planning to see Melbourne and Adelaide in my trip to Australia so will count these. Following on from last year’s cathedral trips, I’m planning on going to Canterbury and Ely. Everything else is up in the air, so any suggestions would be welcome. The only condition is they need to be low cost to get to by public transport (or a cheap flight) and be doable in a day or 2 at a weekend.

How about you, are you doing resolutions this year?

Oct 12

Guardian Gagged

According to the Guardian they have been prevented from reporting on a story concerning a question that is going to be asked in Parliament this week. They say:

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

According to Guido Fawkes at Order-Order, this falls foul of the 1689 Bill of Rights. According to Wikipedia, the right is:

Freedom of speech and debates; or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.

As the Guardian says:

The right to report parliament was the subject of many struggles in the 18th century, with the MP and journalist John Wilkes fighting every authority – up to the king – over the right to keep the public informed. After Wilkes’s battle, wrote the historian Robert Hargreaves, “it gradually became accepted that the public had a constitutional right to know what their elected representatives were up to”.

Accordingly, the UK Parliament site shows what appears to be the question in question.

ref(292409)
Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura.

Yes, a gagging order really works when the government website publishes the story, It just makes me want to know what else the Guardian know

Update: Here’s the Minton Report (pdf) that Carter-Ruck don’t appear to like people seeing. It’s on Wikileaks

Jul 29

Telegraph Visit

Telegraph Visit

Last night, I went along to The Telegraph to take part in a focus group, about various aspects of the paper. A completely mixed group discussed values, requirements, possibilities and likes and dislikes (yes, I’m being vague, they’re doing research and it’s polite not to mention what on) It was a surprisingly fun 90 minutes as we all got a chance to express what we thought of the paper. Then we had a quick tour of the newsroom which gave me an insight into what happens.

  • it’s a hub and spoke mechanism, with the editors meeting taking place in the centre. the closer you are to the centre the more ‘important’ you are in making editorial decisions.
  • The working environment looked great but they seem to cram a lot of people in. When we walked through, it was extremely quiet but I’m guessing noise can get loud when busy
  • Despite all the technology present, there was still a layout board with a bunch of papers and a scalpel sitting there.
  • The news and information input is large – as in huge screens. They have screens showing all the major news channels, the website and a updating list showing the most visited pages on the website, to generate soem healthy competition
  • They have what looks to be Twitterfall running continuously on a big screen, with an eye on the trending topics.
  • I loved the reference library; I want one
Apr 16

A weekend trip

The other week, at a dinner, I volunteered for what sounded like it could be an interesting trip, taking 2 launches (small, motor driven boats) from Putney up to Wallingford. can’t be too hard, we though.

The deal was that some friends were coming down river over 3.5 days, coaching a couple of women’s 8s and they needed to get the launches back up river, whilst the rowing boats and crews were bussed back. Sounded a good idea, in the diary and ready to go.

Now I’ve started doing a little detailed planning and it’s a little more epic than I though. It’s 80miles, through 25 locks, with a speed limit of just under 5 miles an hour for the majority of the way. It looks like it’s 9.5 hours on Saturday to get to our desired stopping place (although we may have to stop short and camp) and at least 12 hours on Sunday. That’s a LOT of time to be sitting in a small boat.

Practically planning, food and clothes are easy. Bathroom breaks are easy – there’s public toilets at most of the locks. The difficulty is the electronics, or rather the phones. I had planned on tweeting and videoing and picturing my trip, but as the N95 battery lasts less than a day and I’m not guaranteed the ability to charge up the phone, it looks like I need to buy a spare or not bother, which is annoying.

Anyway, if you’re out and about the Thames over the weekend and see two launches being driven at the speed limit, give a wave. I’m not going to have time to stop, but I can always wave back.

Thames Map (screenshot from National Trails site)

Thames Map (screenshot from National Trails site)

Image from National Trail

Nov 24

Survivors – What would you do

Survivors, a re-imaging of the 70’s series devised by Terry Nation, started last night on the BBC and there was a minor Twitter flurry of discussion about it. There’s been mixed reaction to the episode, including these from Jason, and from Savage Popcorn.

One common question that popped up is what would you do in that situation, how would you rebuild. Well, the odds are that you, or me, or most of everyone would be dead anyway. The show said something like 90% infection, which would still leave 6million in the UK alive, but the impression was there were a lot more dead than that. Even if you weren’t killed in the first infection, you’re going to have to be lucky and good to escape ongoing death from disease, cold or starvation in the first year or so.

The first episode ended with our group of heroes finally meeting and wondering what to do next – only one of them had done any thinking and collecting of goods to get to the next stage. The rest seemed woefully inadequate in their outlook. But, if, by some chance, you did survive, would you have any idea of what you would have to do? I thought I’d throw up some thoughts – and these have been done with no research, just mulling around what would need to be put in place. I’m pretty sure if I looked, I could find a whole bunch of websites giving me the information I needed. One assumption is that there is enough stuff around to survive the first month or so. Canned food, bottled water and transport with available fuel, to get to somewhere. This is about longer term thinking.

  • Key things are shelter, water, food and sanitation. You’ll need a place to live, which has its own water supply – a well or a spring – and has arable land to grow food. Ideally, it should be defensible; law and order won’t be around and humans tend to fight a lot, especially over resources. A septic system would be a advantage.
  • Ideally, you’d want to be away from any nuclear plants and from prevailing winds that could bring radiation. I’m not sure how safe these plants are with no electricity, no water and no manning, but some may go boom.
  • You’ve found your farm, castle or where ever it is. (I fancy Windsor Castle actually, but probably a little too close to major population centres for the start, so it would be smelly and potentially disease prone in the beginning.) Now you need to start stocking it. First of all, work out where to get fuel, stock up some tanks so you have transport as long as possible. Go and raid supermarkets and get enough food (tinned, dried) for at least a year.
  • Find a library/book store and grab lots of practical books for the things below. Also writing things and lots of paper, so you can start recording the new history.
  • Hope the farmer had a shotgun and rifle, if not, go find some. You won’t be the only one, you’ll probably have to defend your place and you can go hunting.
  • Tools – axes, knives, carpentry, farming, scissors. As much as you can
  • Find some generators. You’ll need to have the option as you build up for the longer term
  • Clothes and linen- stock up with tough stuff, it’s going to have to last. Store a lot for future use – including material. You’re going to have to learn to weave at some point but t may have a lower priority than starting the food supply.
  • Growing things. Find agricultural suppliers and get everything you can – seed, fertiliser, pesticides.
  • Animals – sheep for wool, cows for milk, meat and leather, pigs for meat, chickens for eggs and meat. Rabbits, guinea pigs and all the small stuff could be good.
  • Farming. you may have a tractor and enough fuel for one year, but longer term I’d be looking for a plough and some horses. You should probably grab some horses for transport as well, along with some bikes
  • Medicine. It’s not going to last, but grab what you can. Antibiotics, diarrhoea medicine, painkillers, antiseptics. (Stock up on soap as well). Iodine tablets may be useful as well

Now, you have to learn how to use all these things, how to farm, how to metalsmith, how to manage sanitation. A bit of medicine.

What have I missed, what else would you add to the list to gather and control in the first year?

Aug 05

A Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival

It’s the Great British Beer Festival this week at Earl’s Court, a huge cavern of a place that is full of beer and beer drinkers. As part of their ongoing campaign to widen the appeal of beer CAMRA are running some free tours, a Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival. They’re curated by Melissa Cole, who’s an independent beer journalist and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Tonight was their first run of the tour, a group of about 12 of us were the guinea pigs for this attempt to spread the word about beer to a different audience.

My first impressions of the place were not exactly brilliant. In one corner, there was a huge group of what I assume were Cornishmen singing their national songs. Elsewhere, there were a lot of stereotypes, beer bellies and silly ‘real ale’ t-shirts that on the surface did not make this a friendly place. But first looks were deceiving and as we wandered round, we got nothing but good humour and support.

Melissa had put together a list of 40 beers to take a look at, however the tour only covered 5 of them, in 1/3 pints, to ensure we were all drinking responsibly. Here’s what we tried.

  • Wells and Young; Youngs Waggledance.. a honeyed sweet ale that was a great start. For me, it only had a very slight honey smell.
  • Copper Dragon; Golden Pippen Ale. Lovely and fruity, with lemony overtones.
  • Dark Star Expresso. Wow. a stout porter with a strong hit of coffee. As one of the party said, you could drink this for breakfast. It would go great with something like Chille Mole. But I could only drink the one at any sitting I think
  • Fuller’s Discovery.. This was a reallyy refreshing, designed to act as a bridge between lager and ales.
  • Iceni Raspberry Wheat. the first taste of this is very, very tart, but overall, it slips down a treat. I’d love this with cheese.

I liked all of them, only a small tasting, bt it’s given me new things to try. Thanks for CAMRA for organising this.

GIrl Guide To Great British Beer Festival

Apr 22

Barcelona Trip

Last weekend, a friend suggested a trip to Barcelona for a long weekend – some of his friends owned a boat in the harbour there so we could have somewhere to sleep.

Barcelona Apr 08

The boats somewhere in the middle there. Easyjet flights were booked and so I set off for 4 days in Barcelona. I’d visited the city back in 2002, so knew a little about it. I basically spent time wandering around, on foot and on the Tourist buses, taking photos and taking it easy.

Barcelona Apr 08

The weather was not brilliant – one really good day, 2 days with rain, but it was a great break; i got a little bit of a tan and a few mosquito bites. One thing that was fascinating was the marina culture – there’s a lot of British people with boats there, many living their on a long-term basis, others popping back and forth from the UK. They hang around together on the boats and in the bars, not with the locals.

I love this city and have only covered a small amount. Got a whole lot more to do the next time I go 😉

Mar 05

Studying Again

I’m feeling the itch to do some studying again, so looking at the OU for courses. So far, I’m liking this lot:

Pretty sure that does not make a named degree, nor even a degree in total, but it looks a fun lot. FOr most, I need to wait til next year to start, but it’s good to plan.

Feb 08

Chiswick Wifi

I’m now back in my flat in London, stuff from the US delivered and slowly sorting through the admin. Currently I have no web access from the flat, so I need to sort that out. For almost all ISPs I need a BT phone line, so got that sorted but it’s going to take 11 days for them to transfer an existing line to my name. No lines, nothing to physically do, just change a name on a database. That’s bad, bad service. So I can’t get web until then, which means I’m going to be living in cafes and friendly people’s places until then. I have access to mail via the phone and that’s getting changed to T-Mobile which gives me access to all of their hotspots as well.

Meanwhile here’s a review of the places I’ve tried that offer free wifi in Chiswick- and will try,as I will update the post with different places.

The Breakfast Club – OK, not in Chiswick, but the first place I tried as I’d been using it when I was commuting to London for interviews. Good food, gorgeous smoothies and a relaxed atmosphere to grab a seat and work away. There’s enough power points dotted around, but get there away from the rush at breakfast or lunch in order to find a place as overall it’s a bit small. Open 8-6.

Shackology. This is new since I was last here (they’ve taken over what used to be a pub) and is a brabar/cafe/brasserie. Open 9am-11pm, it offers good food and drink, with liver music in the weekends. Interestingly, one part is advertised as a buggy-free zone, so you can get away from the yummy mummies that abound in the area. Friendly staff, who made sure I got connected (you need to ask for the password) and didn’t seem to mind me hanging around. There were not that many power points around though that I could see (I used one behind a sofa), so may be short term use only

Sam’s Brasserie. At first glance, this was not as friendly. All the power points were covered up and I was not too sure of the waiter’s reaction to getting out the computer. But first appearances are deceptive; there’s a few others sitting around using the network now (who appear to be regulars) and they just came along and uncovered the power points, so now I’m all plugged in. To use the system you have to give them email and phone number so they can send you RM stuff. Food wise, the place is pretty good.

The question of course with using these places is what’s the bargain you make. How much do you have to spend, what’s the rate per hour? For myself, I tend to say up to 2 hours is a couple cups of coffee. If over that, then food is included in what I pay for, especially when I want to return!

Jan 02

Some 2008 Plans

Not really resolutions as they cover more than that, but here’s some of the things I want to do.

Work

First up, find some new work. I know what I want to do – deliver transmedia experiences – but finding the right place could be a challenge.

Money

Sort out the long term stuff. I need to do a little bit of planning and bring together all the bits and pieces. Plus some boring stuff like a will and all of that.

Travel

I’ve only got one bit of travel planned so far this year, and that’s conference based. I’ve not been on a ‘holiday’ since I went to Barbados, so I want to go somewhere to laze around and do scuba diving for a couple of weeks.

Conferences

I’m off to SXSW, where I have a panel. Reboot and Gnomedex could also be on the agenda. I’d like to do at least one other speaking event this year.

Health

I have to get the gym. Preferably to classes. So looking for a gym buddy in London for when I’m back down there.

Technology

I need to buy me a new TV. I had a Sharp Aquos in the US and quite liked that, but I’ll see what is in the shops at an affordable price once got the money together. I need to get a voltage transformer for the XBox and work my way through my games. I’m working through the Orange Box at the moment which will probably keep me occupied for a few months.

Blogging

Behind the Buzz is going quite well, with traffic steadily increasing. I’ve got a few other blog possibilities, so we’ll see whether they pan out.

I think that is it for this planning session.