Sep 06

Quarter Notes 2 2023

Teams Line up for anthems at the Cubs v Cardinals MLB game, London Stadium
MLB at the London Stadium
  • For Easter, I headed up to the peaks at Castleton for a few walks.  Mam Tor is well known and very popular.  There were a LOT of people taking advantage of some nice-ish weather along the Great Ridge. The next day I headed to Kinder Scout, up Jacobs Ladder and following the edge around, back to Edale.  Another popular walk that had plenty of people. This contrasted with the following walk, when I headed south of Castle and saw no-body for the majority of the walk. I had 2 further Brecon’s trips this quarter as well
A view up to Mam Tor from the Great Ridge, showing blue skies and plenty of people
Up to Mam Tor
  • At the end of April, it was a Wine Club weekend, down to the Cotswolds for more wine, walking and good food. The group only get together maybe once a year now, (instead of at least weekly) but we make the most of it
Picture of 3 members of Wine club at patio table with tea, water and crisps
Tea Break for Wine Club
  • The following weekend I headed to London with my sister and nephew for the Coronation weekend. We had a wander round the Mall on the Friday to see the crowds, watched the Coronation on TV and visited Greenwich Maritime museum. The final visit was a treat for the nephew – a chess shop where he spent all his birthday money on various chess sets and books.
View of tents set up along the Mall the day before the Coronation
The Mall at the Coronation
  • The final trip of the quarter was back down to London at the end of June, where I was volunteering at the MLB London series, where the Cubs played the Cardinals. I went into he weekend knowing very little about the sport, but left as a fan. As part of the media team, most of the volunteering work was done prior to the games, with a press conference to support post-game only. So during the game, we were basically up in the media stands, answering any questions and being able to watch the game. I really great weekend – and hopefully I’ll get to do it again next year.
Press Conference for the Cubs
Oct 03

A History: Florence Pashley

Florence Pashley, 2nd from Left. 1st from left is her monther-in-law, Jemima Robinson (formerly Hickman)

Florence Pashley was my great-grandmother and was one of the first relatives we started to gather information on way back in the 80’s when all of this research was done by occasional trips to London to the records office (in Islington at that point) and trips to local records.  A slow build-up of information that often left more questions than answers, especially when we could not find the next link in the chain.

As I recall, it started off because granddad was never 100% sure of her surname, or rather the surnames of his maternal grandparents, (he was also not 100% sure of his birthday until he had to get a passport, celebrating it on one day then finding out his birth certificate was another date).  Her surname was known to be Pashley, but other names that were possible were Fletcher or Tolley. So what was happening here?  Our starting point was the birth certificate.

Florence Elizabeth Pashley was born 6 November 1899, to Kate Malia and Samuel Pashley, who was listed as a Curtain Maker. What surprised us was the location of the birth – Wolverhampton Workhouse. What was Kate doing there?  Where was Samuel? And what were they doing in Wolverhampton?

Kate and Samuel were married 18 months earlier, 21 May 1898, in Nottingham. Samuel was listed as as Lacemaker, born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire but now resident at 127 Waterway St, Nottingham.  His father, Frank, was also a Lacemaker and came from a family in the same industry, all from the area around Chesterfield but starting to appear in Nottingham, which had a thriving international lace industry.

Kate was listed as resident at the same address, and her father named as John Malia, a cycle maker. And that is all we know, that is the only record I have managed to find that references John – or at least confirmed as him. I have no birth record for Kate, nor any mother’s name.  From later evidence, there was about 11 years age difference between them, although on the marriage certificate they were listed as Samuel being 28 (correct) and Kate being 21 (about 4 years older than we think she was). If they married for pregnancy reasons, there is no record of another birth around that time, Florence appears to be their first child.

The only route we had to explore was the Pashleys, and we started with the parents marriage certificate (Enoch Pashley married Elizabeth Clayworth,  20 Apr 1861, both were living in Brampton , DBY) and slowly, through message boards and personal genealogical sites connected that line to research that had been done elsewhere. This family is the one that has connected with my oldest known ancestor, the Del Rodes from Sowerby in the 14th century.

The next breakthrough into Florence’s life came with the release of the 1901 census. Here she was  -Florence Pashley, 1 year old, born Wolverhampton and living at 51 Park St, Wolverhampton. But not with Kate and Samuel, instead she is listed as an Adopted Child, living with Sarah Ann and Frederick Fletcher, along with Sarah’s brother, Frederick Tolley. So that’s where the other surnames come from!  Sarah and Frederick were 23 and 26 respectively and had married at the end of 1898.

There was no formal need to register adoptions in England until 1927 ; many were private, found through networks, or even through newspaper ads. Charities were often involved. But in this case, there was a high probability it was Poor Law adoption; where Poor Law Guardians were appointed to take over the parental rights of children who had been deserted, or orphaned or judged unfit to look after them. The Guardians found families for them, often for long term fostering as the guardians were still responsible; this was also known as Boarding out.

There was no record of a Samuel and Kate Pashley in the 1901 census, so my initial guess was that they had died; Samuel first, leading to Kate being in the Workhouse, and then Kate. Entering into a workhouse was generally voluntary because there was no other choice. With no local family, perhaps that was the only place where Kate could get the care needed for childbirth?  The Workhouse provided lodging and food, so may have been a better choice than trying to head back  up to Nottingham for family.  But as time went by, it appears the story was stranger than that.

Let’s take a short side trip to look at the Workhouse

The first workhouse in Wolverhampton was built in 1700; this was closed with the building of the  Wolverhampton Union Workhouse in 1836-38, with space for 750 inmates. (which is about 3% of the population of Woverhampton at the time). Over the next few decades it grew to house around 1000 people, but even so, in 1885, the Guardians were sending people elsewhere as they ran out of room. Workhouses were seen as a solution to some of society’s problems, but created even more. Conditions were bad, children were being exploited through sending them out to work and overcrowding common. Wolverhampton Workhouse was reviewed by The Lancet   as part of their investigation of Workshouse Infirmaries in 1867 (extract here ) This was just after new wards had been opened and the inspectors were quite pleased with the new areas, even if the rest of the place was not the same, with this description of the elderly men’s ward:

Their life is practically one of perpetual confinement, with the sole prospect of being released by death. But, further than the mere confinement, their generally dirty aspect struck us with peculiar pain. We never saw criminal prisoners in such dirty clothes, or with such filthy persons. There are no baths, and, with one exception, the lavatories are insufficient. The fifty inmates of the ward already noticed wash in a kind of sink, and only two towels are given out daily for their use.

This was 30 years before Florence’s birth, but overcrowding did not ease, leading to the development of a new Workhouse in 1900. This is now New Cross Hospital in Woverhampton. But Florence was born in the old, dirty, cramped workhouse and conditions must have been poor.

But, back to Florence. I have no ideas where she was in 1911. I’ve tried all sorts of combinations for the census search, but nothing can be found for Florence or her adopted family.  The next data point I have is her marriage to James Robinson, on Valentines Day 1925. One of the witnesses was an Annie Tolley, who appears to be the wife of her adopted brother; we knew the family stayed connected from granddad’s recollections, but here it was in writing.

James was a Pipe-Moulder, from Brierley Hill. His parents were Charles Robinson and Jemima Hickman.  Charles was listed as a Labourer on the wedding certificate and on the 1911 census, but before then he’d been a brickmaker and by 1939 he was listed as a Steel Worker. Typical of many men in the area, his whole life working was in the heavy industries. Jemima was not a stranger to outside work, she was working as a Claymaker in 1891 at the age of 16 and even after marriage and two children she was listed as a Brick Finisher in the 1901 census.

Both Florence and James were listed as resident at 7 North St, Brierley Hill. Taking a look at Streetview, whatever house they lived in has been demolished, it’s all newer houses or empty land. James has been born in 10 North St in 1900. He’d also end up dying there in 1958, this time at 1 North St.  James had not stayed in North St all the time though; in 1911 his family were in Wordsley and in 1939 James and Florence were living in Church St – which was the road perpendicular to North St! They did not move far at all; I recall visiting Florence in the same road as a child in the 70s

Florence and James had 3 children and by the time James died, they had all married and started their own families.  Florence did not marry again, living alone in Brierley Hill, until her death in 1983. At this point, it was never clear what had happened to her birth parents. 

But I mentioned the story got stranger?  it turns out, Samuel and Kate Pashley had not died but had in fact emigrated!

We haven’t been able to track all the movements, but this is what we know so far

  • in 1890, Samuel H Pashley, a single Lacemaker aged 21, travelled from Liverpool to New York on the Etruria. How long he stayed there we don’t know
  • But his father visited in 1892. A Frank Pashley, 50 years old, a lacemaker from Nottingham, travelled over from Liverpool to New York in the Etruria
  • At some point, he travelled back, as in May 1898, Samuel married Kate at the Registry Office in Nottingham
  • 18 months later, in November 1899, Kate gave birth to Florence in Wolverhampton Workshop
  • Sometime in 1899, Samuel moved to the US, as recorded in his 1910 census results. Although I can’t find a passenger record
  • In June 1900, Samuel Pashley was registered in the US Census, a boarder in Philadephia
  • On 24th Oct 1900, Kate Pashley travelled on her own from Liverpool to Philadelphia
  • A son, Frank Samuel Pashley, was born 20 Mar 1902 in Philadelphia
  • In 1904, Kate and Frank had travelled back to the UK, as there was a record of them entering the US on 24th Oct 1904, to return home having being visting Nottingham

So we know that Samuel had moved back the US in 1899, probably while Kate was pregnant ans was living in Philadelphia. Kate joined him on 1900, leaving Florence behind. This may have been in the workhouse or with the Fletchers. They had another child, Frank, and visited to the family in Nottingham before coming back the the US. Did Kate visit Florence?  Or was the decision made to leave her there without a visit. We will never know.

As far as I can see, that’s the last time they visited the UK, there are no other passenger records seen.  We can track them in the US census, finding them in Newburgh, Orange County, NY in 1910 and they were still there in 1925.  Sometime in the next 5 years, Kate died as Samuel was living with son Frank in the 1930 census, having moved to Beacon.

Frank married Elizabeth Greene sometime before 1925 and moved to Beacon, staying there until his death in 1969. They had one daughter, Jane, in 1923. From lowly beginnings, the family were moving up in the world, with Elizabeth and Jane both being left 1/3rd of a $10k estate, which could be seen as the equivalent of $60k each today. Jane married Henry Rogers in 1943 and died, in New Windsor, in 2003. Through Elizabeth, Jane was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and from the death notice was a fine, church-going member of society. I’ve always wondered if I could have met her and if she had known of the aunt left behind in England after having been born in a workhouse.

May 12

Home testing for Covid-19

Covid test components – bags, vials and swabs

As part of this long lockdown I’ve been tracking my health through the app developed by the Covid Sympton Study I try and go in and record symptons (or lack of them) daily.

During the nearly 2 months I’ve been doing this (I think it’s 2 months, time gets a bit concatenated) I’ve had 2 sets of not quite right; the first in the middle of March with a heavy chest and breathing, the second this last week with itchy, weeping eyes and again a heavy chest. No other symptons apart from those – which could be a chest infection and then later hayfever. I’ve also not been out the house for 6 weeks – so if I am positive now, it’s been a long, slow burn or I’ve caught it off a delivery. (very unlikely)

On Friday, I received an email from the study, asking me to take a test, either because my symptoms have triggered something, or I’m in a control group.

“As you know, we are using data from millions of people to determine who may have COVID-19 based on their symptoms. You’ve recently reported feeling unwell with a particular combination of symptoms. We would like to test you to understand if you have the virus right now. This does not necessarily mean you have COVID-19 as we are also inviting some people we believe do not have the virus.”

(email from Covid 19 sudy)

So here is my experience to date, to compare with the account of a drive in test from Nick

  • Email came in during the evening. Clicked through to Government test site and saw I had options for booking a drive through or to order a test. Trying to find out WHERE the drive through test would be and if I could walk to it failed – there is no real information, so it meant I needed a home test. None available, as not bookable until the morning.
  • Logged on at 8am and home test available. Filled in form, following the instructions in the email to make sure categories were correct. Disconnect 1: Instructions and form fields to complete were not aligned between email and actual form
  • 1230 am Sunday – so 16.5 hours after booking – got an email that test had been despatched and was due that day. It is delivered by Amazon
  • Sunday afternoon – test arrives. I wiped it down; by the time I opened it, it was too late to book a courier. The courier has to be booked BEFORE taking test and you can only book until 4pm
  • Monday, fully read the 12 page booklet, which covers the 5 steps. They have done their best to make something quite complicated simple to follow, but it is still complicated. I would guess there are going to be many wrongly done tests, or wrongly labelled tests. Booked courier. It is collected by eCourier (or Royal Mail)
  • Monday evening; registered test and then took test. You need to do it between 9pm and 7am before the courier. Red the instructions, laid everything out. Slowly followed the instructions and still got one step wrong! (missed a label, managed to get it sorted)
    • wash hands.
    • take swab and swirl it on tonsils (or where tonsils were in my case) for 15 seconds, not touching tongue, teeth or rest of mouth.
    • put same swab up nose about an inch. swirl it for 15 seconds. (get this the right way round throat before nose!)
    • Put swab in vial (and remember to loosen it first, as you can’t put swab down to open it
    • Label (or do this before), but in plastic bag one, put in plastic bag 2 and seal; label again, put it in the packaging box (not the easiest to build), security seal it, put address label on.
  • At this point, i think about the account of the drive through study who needed to do the testing in a car. HOW!! you need room, you need to be able to lay things out. A hard job there.
  • Wait. The courier is due between 8am and 4pm on Tuesday
  • 4:15pm Tuesday. No courier. Follow instructions on email (and instruction booklet) and call the service centre (because there’s a time limit on test liability. Disconnect 2: Service Centre has time for collection until 6pm, unlike email, booklet and courier booking website. Disconnect 3: the service centre can’t do anything and gives me a number to call the courier.
  • Call courier. Wait. Disconnect 4: I shouldn’t call the courier, I need to email. He gives me an email address. A PERSONAL email address. I wonder how many emails poor Charlie is getting. Disconnect 5: You book the courier before the test as there is 48 hours from the swab before expiring (according to the booklet) – so it needs to be TESTED before 48 hours. If you delay the courier to the next day, then unlikely to be tested. Courier companyseems to think 48 hours for collecting.
  • 4:45pm. Courier turns up
  • 4:50 pm I get an email thanking me for ordering my Covid test. Wondering if this is a mistake, or if one of the calls I made just triggered a new order. (and I assume added the wrong order to the daily stats?)

Now I wait for results, which should come by test in the next 2-3 days. It’s a complex series of steps to get right; it’s not an easy test to self-adminster. Having a simpler blood antigen test can’t come soon enough!

May 13

2015 Week Notes 18

Gloucester Cathedral


  • the second day of my weekend was spent in Gloucester, with the Soldiers of Gloucester museum, the cathedral and the British Waterways museum. Here’s the write up of the Gloucester visit
  • Nothing much the rest of the week, except a lot of work

Gloucester Cathedral

Another book read, a quite a few more articles.

  • This is how fast America changes its mind. Interesting look at how legislation can change and how there is a trigger point from when it becomes inevitable, looking at marriage (interracial and same sex), prohibition and ahead to marijuana.
  • How to Survive the Looming Tech Bubble: Ignore the gurus. A call for brand to ignore whatever social media gurus tell you is the next hot thing, as the article argues their history of success is not strong.
  • Our better selves are bold and inclusive. Published before the election, it is a call to rise above the fearmongering that is the spin from politicians and certain media outlets. A call that was not heeded.
  • 26.2 miles and memories by Darren Waters. A write up from a Twitter friend about his experiences in the London Marathon.
  • Your Imaginary relationship with a Celebrity. A look at how people engage with their heroes on social media
  • The Dickonomics of Tinder. How one woman is using Tinder and how the app can move the balance of power in online dating.
  • Test drive of Petrol Car. Satirical review of a petrol car from the Tesla club of Sweden. As all good satire, makes you consider things.
  • What is the exit poll and how does it work brilliant article about the accurate exit poll from the General election. Now we need a good one to explain why all the ongoing polls did not work at all and everyone was expecting a hung parliament – which drove the media agenda – which potentially drove the end result.
  • A teenager’s view on social media. One viewpoint on how this teen and his peers are using social media. He appears not to be able to use Google id he’s never seen a similar article before, but it does give you the attitude of one type of teen. To look further, read danah’s thoughts on the piece which raises the need to remind yourself that one teen is not all teens and different groups use different things.
  • My Apple Watch review after 5 days by Molly Watt. I’ve read a lot of Apple watch reviews but this one is different. As per danah’s complaint that a lot of reaction to articles about social media or gadgets are from your typical tech blog, this one is most definitely not. it’s all about how a woman with Usher Syndrome (so with restricted sight and hearing) uses the watch and how it can help her interpret the world. Again, it shows that you need to look beyond your usual circle. Robert Scoble in his newsletter had this impression

    So, do I recommend you buy it? Only if you can get enough value out of it by saving a few seconds here and there by not being asked to pull your phone out of your purse or pocket. Translation: rich people will probably get enough value. Busy sales people and execs probably will too.

    this review shows there are edgecases now who will get a lot more out of it than rich people and execs.


The first outing of the Tuesday running club was held, 7:30am. The actual session with the group was quite steady, 6 repeats of 5 min run, 1 min walk. Everyone was keen and had been out running on their own – and they have all entered both the Brighton marathon and the Richmond Running Festival half marathon in September as a first target. With additional running to and from the meeting point, I did 4.5 miles

Jan 10

2015 Week Notes 1

Shall we try these week notes again? Let’s see how far into the year we get 🙂


  • Had the final checkup at the eye hospital following the detached retina last year. Discharged from there, although with warnings that because I now have a high probability of cataracts, I need to have regular opticians checkups. At least I can now get some new glasses!
  • I was supposed to go on a treasure hunt this week, but it got cancelled due to work issues, we’re now trying to get it rearranged. There was no easy first week back, we were hard at it, as the big project that I’ve been working towards for the past year finally kicked off. So expecting a lot of hours to be put in!


  • Only 1 article of note this week. Boing Boing’s How image board culture shaped Gamergate. Fascinating read about how a niche culture, where argument is currency, does not translate into mainstream where people don’t always care to argue.
  • Only 3 books finished this week, all fiction, all thrillers.


  • 30 miles managed this week, still not quite up to the miles I need to have in my plan but slowly getting there. Not having much luck getting up and going running to work, it’s just too dark!
Jan 04

2015 Ambitions and Challenges

Having thought about this, read the articles, looked at my previous plans, I’ve decided I’m just going to make a list that includes things that are already on progress or has been booked and add more things over the year. So I’ve made a page for this – my Things to Do in 2015 – and will be tracking progress there as well as adding new things. So always open to suggestions!

Oct 03

SMW London – Social across the Shopper Journey

For Social Media Week London, I managed to get to go to a few sessions, fitting them in around the working day. The first one I attended was run by Ogilvy, who presented about using social across a shopper journey – Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty, Advocacy.

Well presented and a good model, it sort of set the scene however for the week – I’m probably not quite the right audience for this week, it looks to be more targeted as the less experienced end of those who work (or would like to work) in social media. I’ve been using a similar model for years! So I only attended a few talks and looked for some new figures and case studies

If you’re interested here are the slides:

Some interesting facts and figures that came out of this session

  • 22% of Facebook fans (of a brand) were ambassadors. But 55% of ambassadors are not Facebook fans. So you need to look outside the obvious and easy places if you want to engage with different types of advocates. Just like it used to be before Facebook
  • As social moves to mobile, we continue to look for easier ways to pay – as form fillign is terrible on the phone. WeChat did a brilliant promotion to get people to add their details, leveraging New Year when Chinese typically send people envelopes of money. 5million joined, 20million envelopes sent. All of them added payment details which can be used for future social purchases
  • Adding a + to a bitly link can provide numbers (if not liked down). This was actually something I didn’t know, so worth going for that!
Aug 08

The Recovery Road

Thought it was time to give an update on where I am with the eye The headline – it’s getting better!

I spent 7 days days doing nothing but lying on my side to keep the gas bubble in the right place, to keep the retina pressed on the back of the eye and give it a chance to heal. I went back to my own place the following week and still spent a lot of time horizontal, but was moving about more and more. A check-up on the Thursday confirmed that everything was healing to plan, although there was a slight concern over the pressure in the eye, so I was given some new drops to use, beta-blockers. I found it slightly strange that eyedrops can impact the breathing, but apparently they can so I was asked numerous times if I suffered from asthma as that was a contra-indication.

The following week I returned to work, but not full time. Staring a a computer all day was not recommended, so I needed to vary my activity. I did short days all week which were still exhausting – most likely a residual effect of the anaesthetic. This week I’m still working shorter days but slowly getting back to normal in energy and the ability to do work.

As of today, 3 weeks after the surgery, I still don’t have full vision, but it is improving everyday. The border between the gas and the liquid is slowly moving down the eye and I can see more and more over it – when I look through the one eye. Using the two, it’s still a very weird experience as it the blocked area just gets in the way!

My next appointment is at the start of September, so I’m hoping by then all the gas will have been absorbed and I’ll have my normal (glasses-enhanced) vision back!

Jul 16

Emergency Surgery

I had a lovely weekend planned. A haircut, lunch at one of my favourite restaurants, the the British 10k race on Sunday. All of that got blown away Friday afternoon when I looked up to find my eye full of floaters, dark strands filling the vision. They settled down, but over the next few hours, a blurred spot started to grow at the edges of my site and the eye now appeared to be filled with dust. Myy first thought was to pop in to the opticians on Saturday morning to see if there was a problem but some internet reading on the NHS site led to articles about retinal detachment and worried me enough to decide to give the 111 service a ring, just to check.

Now, as I’d just got off the train (I did not want to walk the 10mins home if I had to go right out again), the initial conversation was a little silly, The first thing they want to do is find out where you are just in case they need to send an ambulance and Chiswick Station was not in their list, so I offered them a pub name. They eventually found something that matched but seem to have issues without postcodes, which is just sill for a service that is part of an emergency response, you may never know where you may be if you want to call them, We worked our way through the questions – no bleeding, no breathing issues, no migraine, but, after a few minutes on hold as my call taker consulted, i was told to make my way to A&E within an hour and given the address of the nearest. But this was a mistake, as they should have told me to go to the specialist eye A&E at the Western Eye Hospital. When I got to Charing Cross (which is in Hammersmith, no idea why), the receptionists thought i should be elsewhere but said i should be seen anyway. The doctor immediately sent me to the eye place!

Two hours after arriving, I got seen by the doctor who spent a long time staring at the back of my eye and as long on the phone to her boss. I definitely had a retinal tear, she thought I had fluid behind the retina but there was nothing she could do then, so I had to return in the morning where I would be assessed by her boss and a decision made. Just in case, I was to be nil by mouth after 1am.

Saturday morning, 8am, I was back. Pretty much the first to be seen, the next doctor spent slightly less time looking at my eye and decided that i was a surgery candidate. But his boss, the consultant/surgeon, needed to make the final decision. So more hanging around the waiting room for her to arrive. She was already on her way in to do a procedure on a child as an emergency, it looked like i was to be the other on the list. Finally, I was examined by the surgeon and it was all agreed. I needed emergency surgery to fix the tear and get the retina back connected with the eye. Continuing the trend, the most senior spent the least time looking at the eye. The more experience you have, the easier it is to recognise things.

So I was admitted and found a bed and a gown. A few hours later, off to surgery, under a full anaesthetic. The decision was to fix the tear cryogenically and inject a gas bubble into the eye to keep the retina in the right place. From going into the operating theatre to waking up took 2 hours. They’d left me with a patch to protect the eye. I then had a choice to stay overnight, which given I had to be back in for checks in the morning I decided was the best thing to do. I did help that I was in a private room.

Everything was checked as Ok in the morning, so off home I went. But the surgery does not fix it immediately. I have to stay lying down on my left side, keeping the bubble pressed on the right side to keep thee retina flat until the fluid behind it has gone. All I can see is light and dark and large movements, until the gas bubble has been absorbed and the eye starts working again. There is a 90% chance that all will be fine, but still a risk i have lost some sight. We just don’t know until it heals. So 5-7 days lying down, another week off work before I go back for a checkup then still a few months for everything to get back to normal. It’s just one day at a time.

Dec 31

Reviewing 2013

That’s it. The year is done, 2013 is over, 364 and a half days have been experienced. So that means it’s time to look back on my ambitions for 2013 and see if I achieved them! The framework was Change, Connect and Challenge, a way of structuring my thoughts for the year. Practically, I split these into 4 areas – physical, relationships, career, and experiences.


This was me in November.

This is me on Nov 2011 (I actually can’t find one from 2012)

I said that I was going to change physically, that I was going to get thinner and fitter and healthier. But I’ve said that in previous years too, what made this one different? The external pressures were the same, the internal monologue was the same, but this time, the INFORMATION I had was different and that changed the internal motivation. I could see far more about where I was and where I was going. As predicted, the FITBIT was the trigger. Not just counting inputs, but being able to assess output and then understand the balance between them made the difference in my brain. Every step counted, every piece of food weighed and assessed – and manage the gap.

The second element was finding exercise that was easy to add to my life. And that was not the gym, although I have used that a lot, but it was running. There was a random challenge from Juliet on a night out, about running a half marathon in September stuck on my mind and the following morning, I took a look at the site and entries had literally just opened. So I entered the Run to the Beat half. Which meant I had to train, had to have a programme, had to have more structure than a few gym classes a week. My sister also entered, which meant I now had a remote competitor to challenge on training too.

So I ran. I entered shorter races, I found out about parkrun and along the way, I put my name down for the London Marathon, (as of course, you never get in first time), as that had been a random fantasy every April as I watched people run.

I lost 4 stone (for non-Uk people, that’s 56lbs0. I ran my half marathon, and another 2 weeks later and then I found out that I HAD got into the marathon, so training continues…this journey is only just beginning!

My training miles



Better, but still work to be done on this. Internet dating was a failure, did not do that at all well. But did better at getting out and seeing people


The plans and development that were being discussed at the beginning of the year never came to fruition, opportunities changed and flexed. I spoke at a couple of conferences, about social media and preserving brand voice, had a number of articles published (through employer PR team) and was on TV a few times, again talking social media. So not as much as I wanted, but still, in the main, a good year. There will be major changes coming up though, but more on that when looking at 2014.


The LOOP: I completed the bottom half of this, from Erith to Hatton Cross, but then put it on hold as I could not fit it in with the running training. I plan to complete in 2014.

Christopher Wren Churches: I did almost all of them in one mad day in December.

Japan: the trip to Japan was a major success! The race was brilliant, the country was amazing and I had a brilliant time! Just read the daily blog posts

What else?

  • I went to Barcelona to watch F1 Testing
  • I took trips to see cathedrals to York and Arundel
  • I had a go at learning to surf.
  • I was in the audience for the BAFTA TV awards.
  • I went to conferences: TEDx Houses of Parliament, Over the Air at Bletchley Park and Playful 2013
  • I went to Silverstone for the F1, Goodwood for the cars and Henley for the rowing
  • I ran around the Olympic Park for 5 miles and finished the run in the Olympic stadium
  • I got to drive the Jaguar F-Type for a weekend

All in all, a good year!

Nov 18

2013 – Week 46



  • It was a fairly quiet week. Had a small birthday celebration with a friend, where much wine was consumed and the world put to rights!
  • Went along to a book launch, for Adrian Hon and A History of the Future in 100 Objects. The book is great, inspired byt the BBC/British Museum series of a History of the World in 100 Objects. What could be the defining objects in the future?
    Future in 100 Objects
  • Watched the Scullers Head. A lovely day for it, blue skies and little wind.
    Scullers Head 2013


  • 4.85m at 10:40min/mile. Steady lunch time job where dodging the tourists is still an essential technique
  • Used treadmill for intervals. 1.75m @ 8:49m 1m @8.34
  • A run to work, with 7.19m at 10:47min/mile
  • A steady recovery run at 3m at 12:02 min/mile
  • The Richmond Old Deer Park 10k race. Ran to a plan, which was to stay under 9:10 miles, pushed on in the last half to get a new PB by 3 mins with 56:26 min/mile. Then ran the 4miles home very slowly 😉
    Old Deer Park 10k. Waiting
  • Predicted Marathon Time. The 10k race gives me a predicted time of 4:24:46, which is 7mins faster than previously.
Nov 06

2013 – Week 44

Week 44, the last week of October as the year slowly slips away



  • Friends and I had one of our irregular Chinese Buffet dinners. Best described as cheap and cheerful from a food perspective, you always know what you are getting as the menu does not change. It’s always good to catch up with friends and hear all the gossip
  • Went for a mid-life checkup. Or rather another trip to the doctors to take all the bloods. Just getting the usual things checked through.
  • Took a trip up to Milton Keynes to see another friend for Saturday lunch and a walk along the canal (a short one!). More gossip, more talk about what’s good and bad at work, more talk about cars.


  • 4.14m (10:24min/m). Run into work, this time from Sloane Square, what you have to do when the trains aren’t running!
  • 4.86 (10:15min/m). Lunchtime run around the bridges.
  • 7.29m (10:37min/mile). This was actually 2 runs. First of all, slow jog to Richmond along the river to get to Park Run. then fast 5k for park Run. the aim of the morning was to see if I could beat my PB after running to the event. And I did! By a whole 12secs, with 27:54. So next time I run it with fresh legs, expect to be faster than that.
  • 9.3m (12:30min/mile). Long slow run to finish the week. Legs were tired after the efforts of the day before.
  • Predicted Marathon Time. I use McMillan Running to predict race times and plan training paces. Using Saturday’s 5k pace, it gives me a predicted time of 4:31:51, which is 12mins faster than my time predicted from my half marathon.
May 21

OMG..they changed Flickr!

If you want to protest against the Flickr changes, it appears the best way to do so is to KEEP PAYING THE SUBSCRIPTION!

Somewhere in Yahoo!, there’s a spreadsheet. On it, there’s a financial model for Flickr. Bought by Yahoo all those years ago, left in a corner with only the occasional bit of love, Flickr was one of the originals, one of the few where you could pay for a service. But it was never really upgraded. Until now.

Now, someone has tweaked the model, looked at the projected lines and decided something. They’ve decided the subscription service is costing them money. That it is not worth keeping it. BUT, they must have concluded..BUT…if we can just get some MORE people putting MORE photos on there we should make MORE money from displaying ads against those photos to MORE people (and with less people who are Pros, that gives us MORE people). But they couldn’t get more people using the free service. They couldn’t attract all the new generation used to Facebook and Instagram and all these places where they weren’t restricted to the last 200 photos only and where it was more about the person than the photo.

So the business objectives were set:

  • get rid of these pesky kids pros, who want to pay money for a decent service. They cost us in processing the money, in providing customer service support, for maintaining additional code to not service them ads
  • Encourage more people to put more photos up on the service, grabbing the younger demographic by making the site look ‘cool’ and more like the photo services they are all using without restrictions.

So change they did. A redesign to make it look more like other services and that they know the old pros will HATE. And a clear message to everyone to stop paying us money and go to the free service. Because given the messaging and the changes in account, that’s surely what they want us all to do!

The message in the email:

As a Pro Member, your subscription remains the same. You’ll enjoy unlimited space for your photos and videos, detailed stats and an ad-free experience. However, you can switch to a Free account before August 20, 2013

The message on the screen:

Flickr doing its best to make you go away

Flickr doing its best to make you go away

there are changes to the accounts. You can no longer buy a Pro-account (although the people who have them get to keep them as long as they keep paying). You can buy an ‘ad free’ account at double the current cost. Mashable has a good summary of the changes in Flickr account types:

Type Free Old Pro New Subscription
Cost Nothing $44.95 for two years if you have it set up already $49.99 for 1 year
Storage 1 TB Unlimited. Although different sections say different things 1 TB
Image Upload size 200MB 50MB 200MB
Video upload size 1GB 500MB 1GB
Ads? Yes No No
Stats No Yes No
Replacing images No Yes No
Archive Hi Res No Yes No

Those are the changes – some make the free account a better option – but buying a subscription does not seem worth it.

The biggest outcry has been about the redesign. On my Twitter feed, it was mixed. Searching for immediate reactions last night showed a mainly positive reaction to the designs first impact, but reading the comments on the Flickr forum is about 99.5% negative. The people commenting here are the old pros, the ones that have been around a while. They typically don’t react well to change, but this is bigger than usual and the anger is far more than usual.

I also don’t like the redesign – I liked the clean nature of the old version. But what I hate most is how half-cocked it is. It’s a ‘Minimally Viable BIG redesign’. They’ve changed the home page to be a photostream. They’ve changed your profile page with header image and photo stream.. But everything else they’ve just slapped on a header and left it. it’s as though they were told they HAD to have it ready for yesterday and just get it out there. So it’s not been thought through. Now they have the home page looking the right to attract the new people who are used to more recent photo services, but it’s creaky and slow and seems to fail at times. My guess it we’ll get more changes as they role it out to the other parts. But in the meantime, it’s doing its job. Attracting new people, putting off the longer-term users.

Whenever there’s been a major change, there have people who have protested by leaving the service, stopping their subscription. However, given what appears to be a major push in focus, it seems the best way to protest is to KEEP paying them money as a Pro account, stay ad free and prevent them serving ads to you.

May 17

2013 Week 11

Mar 9th through to Mar 15th

Behind, behind, behind. I do so much typing at work I get home and I do nothing but read. Input vs output. What is best. So what was I reading?


  • Social Media Sustainability Index – a look at how big companies are using their social media presence to communicate their sustainability credentials. The challenge is how you communicate a complex and intertwined set of initiatives using platforms that are, by the nature, usually a place for short attention spans
  • Engagement Rate – a metric you can count on.. An argument from Social Bakers, one of the leading social metrics companies, about how their Engagement Metric is one you should consider. The word engagement is used extensively and different people use different meanings but a RATIO is far more useful than the raw numbers from Facebook
  • The difference between strategy and tactics. by Jeremiah Owyang. For many a difficult thing to get. As I’m currently looking for a new strategist, a pertinent question.
  • Why the Comms Agency Model is Ripe for disruption by Drew Benvie. Perfectly placed as Drew launched his new agency, but valid questions to ask
  • The science of Junk Food Lovely long read in the NYT on how junk food takes a lot of science to get right.


Feb 11

2013 Week 6

Where’s it going. the diary clicks forward day by day and the year creeps forward. Week 6, that’s over 10% gone already.


  • A Primer on the US TV business. A great rundown on all the different players in the US TV market. Even if you don’t agree, what they are doing impacts the rest of the world.
  • Miller Lite, NASCAR and Brad Keselowski – how a off-hand tweet from a car led to a focus on social media for the brand and increased access for the fans.
  • Hashtags and the Superbowl. Did Twitter win the Superbowl marketing, or was it just the hashtags, which are multiplatform
  • Richard III confirmed! . The Channel 4 TV programme was depressingly light on the science, preferring to focus on the ‘personal journey’ of Philippa Langley and not painting her in the most flattering light. The Leicester Uni site fills on some of the gaps. The forums of the Richard III society also make interesting reading.
  • Microsoft Research India are running a very interesting experiment in India, using mobile to understand social platform usage, collaboration and organising processes in a country with minimal internet access
  • Applebee’s Social Media Meltdown. I have no idea what went wrong at Applebee’s, (I’m guessing they’ll blame an intern at some point), but they fundamentally forgot a few basic rules about social media and getting into pointless arguments!
  • Something that totally rings true to me – Social Media influencers are not really on Facebook. Yes, they’ll have accounts, but they’re active in ‘long-form’ as well as status updates. The article mentions how ‘brand marketers are using comScore/Nielsen to identify influencers’ which doesn’t work for niches. We do a lot of audits and detailed searches, with a few weeks of monitoring before we produce influencer lists. not as simple as going to a single ‘list’ but we make sure we understand who are are talking to.
  • Why Moshi Monsters works. Liking this look back on the Moshi Mosnter success


  • I went to see Old Times at the theatre, with Kristin Scott Thomas, Rufus Sewell and Lia Williams, Having not read up on the play before hand, just noting that there was a mystery about the interpretation, spent a lot of the time trying to work out the premise. I decided they were ghosts, in some way, but that’s not one of the ‘official’ explantions.
  • Visited the ‘London Gin Club‘ for the first time, with some colleagues. There was disappointment that there was only 1 martini on the menu, as it’s basically a Gin and Tonic bar. We tried one of their taster flights. Good gin, interesting venue, needed one more person working as service was slow.
  • Thursday night was spent at the IPG Inter-Agency quiz night. 9 rounds (there was supposed to be 10, but they couldn’t get the music to work), of all sorts of love/Valentine’s related questions. Including the final round which was all about naming positions from the Kama Sutra. Some issues over questions being wrong (due to poor search ability), but a good fun evening. Even better – we WON! Well, we got second, but we still WON…tickets to see Maroon 5 at the O2. 🙂
  • Finally, did section 2 of the LOOP – Bexley to Petts Wood. Pictures are on Flickr

Walk the LOOP 2 - Bexley to Petts Wood

Feb 03

2013 Week 5

So that’s one month down, 11 to go. January, the month of resolutions and changes; a month of waiting for payday as Christmas and a usual early December payday take their toll. How was it for you?


  • Article from the New York times on quiet coaches. Totally agree with this, that it is a last bastion of quiet. And people just don’t get it!
  • In this Forbes article, transmedia storytelling is “a larger universe of characters and settings that keep the fantasy consistent across multiple forms of media, including comic books, websites and videogames” and the work includes spendign a year writing the story behind the 30 second ad that is Coke’s Happiness Factory in order to spin it out. Nice work, but that’s transmedia storytelling is probably not the description that most practitioners would use!
  • Unilever continue to push on the sustainability front, making it far more a core part of their business rather than a thing they say. I’ve been in talks by Unilever about using social to drive recruitment – and sustainability was front and centre in their talk, so they include it everywhere. Marketing Week reports on their second phase as they start using brands in their Sustain Ability Challenge
  • I’ve seen The Hacker’s Diet getting a lot of recommendations for being a no-nonsense guide to working out the best way of dieting. I’m working my way through this and it’s pretty good.
  • We spend a lot of time explaining to clients why various Facebook posts behave the way they do…and then Facebook change the algorithm and we have to change again. This article on Edgerank changes by Thomas Baekdal is one of the more interesting I’ve seen
  • This is more of a list of things to read rather than something I’ve read yet. But a list of 102 Best Non-Fiction articles of 2012, compiled by Conor Friedersdorf is great.


  • I took the plunge and bought some new running shoes, going to a specialist shop and getting my gait assessed on a treadmill with video. Picked up a nice light pair of Brooks trainers and so far they’ve been great. My exercise programme hit a small snag at the start of the week, with a cold grabbing hold of me, but back onto it by the end. The results for month 1 have been great. My running is coming along, my diet changes have been pretty strightforward and I’ve lost 12 lbs in that time. Expecting month 2 to be slower on losses, but will continue to consolidate habit changes.
  • I was a last minute addition to a work ‘outing’, at the European Sponsorship Awards. The work with UPS over the Olympics had been nominated for both the Business to Business and the Business to Employee categories and we ended up taking home a highly recommended for the B2B work.
  • Final outing to the week was to catch up with an ex-team member, with all the rest of the team. I’d still not fully recovered from the cold so did not stay long, but brilliant to catch-up with Mona
Jan 27

2013 Week 4


  • A list of the 33 most creative women in advertising. (Why 33, no idea!). I’ve worked with one (Colleen DeCourcy) and have loved the work of the others. Women make up only 3% of creative directors in this male-dominated industry, but there are slow moves to change this
  • The US PGA enforcing bans on reporters using social media on the course – at a time when they are expanding their usage. Confusing messages for fans of a sport
  • Coke’s view of mobile. Some great learning here. Somethings I’m continuously saying to the teams at work – everything has to be considered mobile first, you can’t use the can’t use it standalone and you have to think integrated, both within a single campaign and across all your campaigns. that is, don’t build an app for every new campaign, think how you will fit them all together over the months and years.
  • Thinking about Twitter competitions and best practice for running them. Some helpful legal guidelines came up about running promotions.


  • Work wise, the week was fairly quiet. We had training for the new format in reviews and I started to prepare stuff. We had some feedback on a pitch and need to do some more stuff. (keeping it deliberately vague). I got involved in a quick turnaround project that needs some designs/content for early next week. Keeping my fingers crossed for that one!
  • We had a visit from the group CEO, who was recently appointed. He’s making his way round the various offices to see what the different companies do. Of course, this meant a quick tidy up all the office! But we didn’t do any decorating 🙂
  • Gym attendance was good this week – 4 sessions done. Had a second go at Pilates and decided that I like it and will keep going. Also had my first go at spin, but that won’t be continuing, as my legs don’t suit the pedals, it locks my feet in the wrong position, causing pain! To continue with training, I went and got some proper running shoes as well, which should minimise issues
  • Dinner out with friend this week at J Sheekey. A great meal – and we’re committed to dining out more often as part of our 2013 changes
Jan 10

Paul and the Mont Ventoux

In September 2012, my bother-in-law Paul flew out with 2 friends to tackle the challenge of Mont Ventoux – climbing the mountain 3 times on 3 different routes in 1 day. The night they arrived, off out for a ride, he got knocked off his bike by a truck. He was airlifted off out, with a blood-clot on the brain that left him in a coma for 3 days. Worse, it completely destroyed his shoulder – even after operations, nerve transplants and reconstructive surgery, he still has no use of the arm.

But he’s not letting that stop him finish his challenge. He’s planning to go back in July this year and complete it. He’s got a support for the arm and is currently tackling the problem of safely connecting the arm to the handlebars, so is looking for advice for that and he’s started back into training!

Article in this week’s Express and Star (not online for some reason)

Oct 19

Playful: Siobhan Reddy and Making New Things

Makes console games for a living. Talking about making new things. The trials and tribulations. Why do we make new things? How do we choose what we like and where does that come from. Our taste develops though life. Things that were big when younger may not be stuff you like now. But they helped form you. We make games because we get inspired, we want people to experience what we have made and be touched them. Every game made by someone who has set out a creative goal at some point.

At Molecule, we make creative games. That is our mission. But where did it come from. Not a focus test; not from predicting trends. It came from the people and their likes and needs. Little Big Planet, made because when younger the designer made things – he wanted to create things where people can create. When you make something from that personal place you can make something that can have a lot more impact, be unique. We make things because we have to.

Last year, we moved away from LBP, and started to make a new game with a second team. Called Tearaway. It’s a delivery adventure through a papercraft world. It encourages you to interact. And can build in the real world too. (Due out next year)

Learnt 3 things on the journey. When doing something new need to have personality and conviction. The project was not financially driven. It was creative. It was a personal thing to let one of the team create own world. There were many rabbit holes in the development. Took wrong turns. Too big, or did not work well etc. Started off with ideas they loved. Added to them, kept adding. Lost way slightly and therefore lost some confidence. They could have listened to lots of advice and different opinions. But they decided to strip back all of the noise, take it back to the original stuff that got them excited. They focused on the pure game design. It sounds simple, but it is so easy to get pushed off path and go down the safe route.

Second was about Finding the Jam. This was about how they behaved. In early stages, a development team acts like a band. They jam together. Tey need everyone to bring their passion and skills and share with everyone. You need to create an environment where that can happen. You need the right people – and remove the wrong ones. Bands having tension and this can be positive. Try not to freak out when there is tension, that is normal. They had all worked together, but it was a new structure with a different goal. YOu need to make sure that people are not attacked, but flipside to tension is creativity. Hardest moments as team were the moments before we stripped down the design. We now still argue, but it’s working through problems etc. Now it is all happening. Finding the jam was a journey.

Third was the Beautiful Abyss. she loves jumping into the creative abyss, starting something new. You need curiosity and excitement to do it, as you never know if it will work it or not. You need to have faith and believe what is being created will be great. There will people and companies who don’t take risks, how can you be the one who takes the risks. You need to back talented and creative people and find ways to let their creativity and personalities shine through. Main learning…We Just Have To! Don’t be afraid of audiences, of trying things.

Oct 04

SMWLDN: Social approach to engaging current and prospective employees

My second session at Social Media Week London was organised by Unilever and took a look at their work in using a social to employee engagement. There were 4 separate sections to this; a look at employee feedback mechanisms, recruitment, graduate recruitment and flexible working. Each was presented by a different set.

A social approach to employee surveys – Michael Silverman

  • Usually, providing feedback is boring. there’s too many numbers, not enough open questions. It’s a corporate black hole – where does the information go?
  • To activate the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – which is sort of what employee feedback is – then 4 conditions need to be met. Diversity. Independence. Decentralisation. Aggregation. Surveys are by their nature anti-social. This Unilever project looked at making feedback social. they used a consultancy called Silverman (run by an ex-Unilever employee)
  • When it comes to social media, with reviews etc, linear lists have problems. There is information overload, there’s high diversity, and ratings are primitive. There are linguistic techniques to extract meaning but this information is more powerful when you add structured data.
  • The projects worked to build models to allow visualisation of opinions and attitudes, mapping users by opinions about how close they were. They allowed users to rate others answers, to allow a consensus to appear. Some of the studies were anonymous, others had identified people.
  • In another project, they looked at organisational network analysis, based on social network analysis. What were the clusters of relationships. Did this inform opinions and attitudes. (they used Socilyzer). This brought together attitudinal and relationship data
  • Finally, the Social Media Garden (pdf) project to crowd-source research into barriers that prevent the organisational adoption of social media
  • The slides from the event

Looking at adoption of social media Natalie Nahai, Web Psycholgist

  • Social media satisfies the human need to connection and communications. Measuring usage can provide a measure of intimacy and influencer of relationships. More many, social media can be a key to self-esteem. In organisations, it can engender a sense of belonging; it can reflect the org culture
  • 56% of youth would refuse to work if access to social media was banned. 24% make access to social media a condition of accepting a job
  • The risks are known – controllability, the need for transparency and accountability, how it can result in power shifts.
  • To get adoption in a organisation, there needs to be a motivation, it needs to be interesting. You need to think about cultural cahnge, about reward and engagement and how it can be intrinsic to the job.
  • The Slides

In general, the quick interlude was all about social tools and happiness/games (eg see this presentation by Jane McGonigal)

Talent Acquisition. Paul Maxin. Global Resourcing Director

  • the recruiting landscape is changing. With social media, everyone is is a recruiter.. There are changes in experience, in services offered.
  • Recruitment in Unilever links back to their business objectives. Double the revenue. Halve the carbon footprint (sustainability). They don’t have a separate digital and strategy to help drive this, it’s all connected.
  • The recruitment process impacts the business. 53% of those with a bad recruitment experience are less inclined to buy good from the organisation. For a company like Unilever, that’s a lot of products that could be impacted. 75% will share their bad experience with friends (and influence them)
  • The recruitment world has moved. from Broadcast to Conversation. From Attract to Nurturing. From Corporate to Human. From Formal to Frictionless. From Careers Site to an Ecosystem.
  • You need to leverage the right channels. They have evolved to an engagement-based approach. They have 260k followers on LinkedIn, 90k on Facebook.
  • Facebook (Unilever Careers)is one page – used for all countries. They use country specific apps (Buddy Media) and have consistent content.
  • Linked In. They are building in specific calls to action, getting employees to activate as well.
  • They use lots and lots of data analysis to improve engagement.
  • The slides

A look at Graduate recruitment Klazien van Vliet

  • There is a lot of competition for Graduates amongst FMCG companies . How do Unilever differentiate?
  • They have big brands, sustainability, global reach. So do their competitors. So Unilever think their differentiator is the people and the work environment. But this is difficult to bring to life in advertising; this is where social media helps.
  • They use to help this. Glassdoor approached them, with information about all the searches that are being done around Unilever., how it followed patterns looking at them and competitors. They decided to work with glassdoor around branded content, about working in the company. Added testimonials, videos etc. Most important was the reviews around the company.
  • In return, they get lots of data about what people are looking at, how they behave on the site. It’s not a volume driver, but it is a self-assessment tool. It helps people see if they really do want to work with Unilever and acts as a initial screener.
  • The slides

How social media can help with Agile Working – Jacobina Plummer

  • You used to need to be at work in order to do work. Now there is maximum flexibility, minimal constraints. You can work anytime, anywhere.
  • Agile working is critical for Unilever as it enables their global operating framework; supports the sustainability agenda; provides cost savings; helps them a #1 workplace
  • They looked at practices, workplaces and technology, They made sure their focus was on growth rather than cutting costs.
  • To support agile working, they use external Twitter – eg for snow days etc. They use internal Yammer and they have a collaboration space. It allows better collation, faster decision making; work arbitrage and a greater cultural understanding and diversity.
  • The slides

There is a video of the whole event made available from Unilver