Welcome to my roundup of all I’ve been getting up to and loving from 25th Feb to 3rd MarchRead More
And like that, it’s all over…
We’ve made it to December folks. Congratulations!
Time has absolutely whipped past over the last 12 months and I’m sat here now wondering where it all went and what did I do with it?
2018 has been interesting year. I’ve undergone a fair bit of upheaval in my personal life and also faced a few professional challenges. It’s been a learning experience though and I’ve certainly come out the other side equipped with an improved skillset and the knowledge that I can adapt to change in all areas of life!
My highlights from 2018:
A new roommate
In January we were joined by a very grumpy and demanding old lady called Winnie, who loves nothing more than curling up on the sofa. We are very alike actually…
Lots of food…
As usual, most of my yearly highlights revolve around food and drink consumed in venues familiar and foreign. The beginning of the year was mostly spent sampling York’s thriving food scene, with repeat visits made to consume the excellent street food at Spark York and Brew York.
The really heavy stuff came in Paris though, where I gladly gained some serious weight in the name of sampling every bakery the 11th Arrondissement has to offer. This is not a joke, I had at least 2 pastries a day for two weeks and regret nothing.
The following month this excess was walked off in Slovenia and Venice, despite the fact we also indulged in hearty Alpine dishes and gorgeous Venetian street food.
Summer in Paris
As I mention above, in July I spent two full weeks in Paris due to Des’s work. Before you get too jealous, I will mention that we stayed in a 1 star hotel with no air-conditioning during the hottest summer on record. This certainly made things… memorable….
Alongside profusely sweating and eating croissants, I spent the first week of our trip working remotely at my usual day job. This actually worked really well, especially as Paris has so many pay by the hour co-working spaces. I quickly settled into a good rhythm of working at one venue in the morning, then stopping for lunch and walking to the next spot for the afternoon.
I spent my second week in the city of lights as a tourist, exploring all the sights one would expect! My real highlight of the trip involved taking the train out to Versailles, somewhere I have wanted to visit for years. I had a fantastic day walking around the chateau and then out past the main lakes, stopping occasionally under a tree to escape the heat for a while.
Attending Turing Festival in Edinburgh
Having been to Turing Festival in 2017, I had high expectations for this two day tech conference in Edinburgh. The event comprises of 20 hours of content from over 40 expert speakers who cover topics focused on the areas of Product, Culture, Growth, Engineering, Marketing and Strategy. Basically all the ingredients you need to run a successful technology company!
To be honest, whilst there wasn’t a bad talk during the whole 2 days, I personally found the Growth and Culture tracks to be the most engaging and really rated the following sessions (you can subscribe on the Turing Festival website to see the full videos):
Rebecca Moore (Director of Growth, Skyscanner) - Self-Disrupt for Growth
Des Traynor (Chief Strategy Officer, Intercom) - What We’ve Learned From Scaling to 0-25k+ Paying Customers
Kirsty Lynagh (Chief People Officer, Nucleus) - Architect and Anthropologist: the two roles needed in your team to win in the workplace in the future
Rand Fishkin (founder, SparkToro/Moz) - Why Nine Out of Ten Marketing Launches Suck (and how to be the one that doesn't)
Late-Summer trip to Slovenia and Venice
After returning from Paris in a state of sunburn and exhaustion, I managed to enjoy a few weeks at home before heading off on my next adventure with Des and a couple of friends.
Loaded with supplies and lots of hot-weather clothing, we embarked upon a triple-destination trip through Slovenia and Italy, ultimately ending in Venice.
It was an amazing 9 days, filled with swimming, mountaineering, lots of food and many historical sites!
Finding my Fitness Community
I have been going to the gym regularly for just over 6 years now, with most of that time spent doing solo workouts.
2018 was the year where I discovered training with other people and it has dramatically improved both my motivation and results. (I currently work out at Compello Fitness, a box gym based in York.)
For the past year I have been doing a weekly mix of HIIT style classes and semi-private personal training - 1 personal trainer per 4 people, which is a lot of fun!
Alongside meeting a bunch of awesome people and making new friends, I’ve also found that the variety of workouts has finally managed to pushed me off the fitness plateau I reached in 2017.
This year I’ve lost several % points off my body fat, taken off inches across my body and also increased my strength and cardiovascular endurance dramatically. Most importantly, I’ve learnt to ignore the scale (I weigh more than I have done in 7 years, a fact which no longer terrifies me!)
Speaking at Dot York
After attending DotYork in 2017, it was an honour to be chosen to speak at it in 2018!
In case you aren’t from up North, Dot York is a digital conference based in, you guessed it, my fair city of York. The event is focused on bringing engaging ideas and content to a mostly tech/design/digital audience. The themes for 2018 were wide ranging and ambitious: Survival, Money, Freedom and Identity
My talk was scheduled for the Survival session and focused on my work in the ethical business space. I wanted to use my allotted time to explore the big question of how do we make decisions at work that have a positive impact?
Contained within this question there are a number of sub-questions that I also felt merited discussion:
Who, or what, gets to decide what is good and bad in this context? (i.e. is this prescribed by top-down by an authority beyond individuals, who makes the rules?)
Can we actually make a difference, is it worth even trying? (e.g. is it too late to save the planet and late-stage industrial societies from ecological, social or political collapse).
The whole day was an awesome experience and despite my (probably very obvious) nerves I felt I did a decent job of providing an engaging and thought provoking talk to the audience. You can be the judge of that yourself though, as videos will be online shortly.
Watching my sister on the big screen!
My incredibly talented sister, Catrin, is the lead singer in London based indie band Another Sky.
2018 has been a seriously good year - they have been played on Radio 1, appeared on Late Night With Jools Holland (jealous? Moi? YES! ha) and also played on the main stage at Citadel Festival in London.
Not wanting to give up the chance of guest-list tickets and a day out in one of my favourite cities, I decided to head down South and watch the band in action alongside a couple of other favourite artists of mine (Dermot Kennedy, Tame Impala and CHVRCHES to name a few).
There’s something pretty surreal about seeing your former nemesis and playmate 20ft high on a big screen in front of a massive crowd. She rocked it!
I honestly feel like I have just been let loose on the world as a fully formed adult - school and sixth form is a recent memory in my mind, despite being over 10 years ago now.
I used to be scared of getting old and the responsibility that age brings, but with every year that has gone by since my early twenties I feel like life is getting better and freer. I am currently in the best shape I have ever been and feel genuinely satisfied with my lot in life (not that there isn’t room for ambition or growth!).
Bring on 2019.
# Chapter 1
I wake up and everything smells like woodsmoke. My hair, the bedding, my fingertips. It's acridly sweet, as we're burning last year's pine at the moment. Soon we will be at the end of our dry stock and will be forced to use even smokier substitutes. We didn't prepare well enough for this winter, but all calculations suggest we will still survive by some margin, even if we stink of sap laden smoke for the rest of our days.
My body feels heavy and hard this morning. Last night's rain and wind kept me awake enough to ensure every limb is tired out from twisting and turning. Nonetheless the noises from outside firmly mark daybreak and the start of this day. I inch stiffly down the ladder from my bed, which is raised safely above the floor on a double mattress sized platform. Mat built this early on to keep us away from rats, bodies aloft in the rising warm air.
The noises are getting louder, muffled scraping and shuffling with the occasional squark. My fingers are slow to respond as a I pull on the mud encrusted boots by the door, perhaps indicating the first signs of arthritis. There's nothing to be done about this though, I push the thought out of my mind and focus on the task at hand.
Stiff again, the damn door pushes back against me. Warped through moisture and sticking tightly to its frame. Again, nothing to be done here and now, I resign myself to fighting against it until the spring. Perhaps the boys will be back to help out. Perhaps I won't even be here. It's hard to know anything for certain, especially as the news from the South rarely reaches our hidden valley at the moment.
A short sharp shove and the cool air floods in, wrapping itself around every corner of my body, jolting me fully into the waking world. I can hear the movements outside clearly now, it sounds like they are fighting, again. I walk out onto the wooden platform which juts abruptly over the water.
Home is behind me, an unusual structure that only just now finally looks part of my landscape, blended in by years of moss growth and hard weather. The lake stretches out to the front beyond. Our position here is a blessing, Mat used to remind me daily. Especially during the really bad years when trade had ceased and we were fully self reliant.
I try not to think about the past as the spectre of hunger creeps nauseatingly into my stomach, as it does most Winter mornings.
The chickens have reached a fever pitch by now. I'm slightly late, which has prompted a round of in-fighting and squabbling over the pecking order. I can already see Jeremy standing on the raised bar in the middle of the cage, keeping her mild and meek followers in their place as she strides above them, every so often dishing out a well placed jab. I admire and hate this particular animal in equal measure. Violence is the only thing that seems to keep her peace.
This is my sixteenth post in my attempt to write something on this blog everyday in October. Find my previous post from the 15th here.
You don’t become bored of a place
You simply stop looking for something new
Keep your eyes open
Open up your eyes
This is my fifteenth post in my attempt to write something on this blog everyday in October. Find my previous post from the 14th here.
It doesn’t matter who is wrong
Or who is right
On a sinking ship