This is the first of a series of unashamedly self-indulgent posts, looking back at my working year through 2014. It was the year that my work as a self-employed digital publishing consultant really took off, and I’ve done so much this year that I actually need to take stock of what actually happened over the year. Plus, I can share some great photos.
I have never travelled as far – or as often – as I did in 2014. One single trip – to Hong King – probably beat my previous biggest year for travel in one fell swoop. I have, without quite noticing it, become a jet-setting consultant and trainer, and I’ve been really enjoying it. My work has taken me all over the world, and I’ve even roamed a little for pleasure, too.
There are downsides, of course: jet-lag ate me alive in Hong Kong, for example, and that trip cost me nearly a week away from my daughter. But, all in all, it’s been a hugely positive experience. For various reasons 2015 is likely to be less traveled, so it feels right to memorialise a busy year.
Here’s where I went, when and why…
1. February: New York (work)
The first of two trips to New York, where I flew in on the back of a storm, and flew out before another blizzard hit. Two days in New York is great fun, the people I was training were lovely – but a six hour red eye flight, surrounded by gaseous teenagers, is no way to get a good night’s sleep.
2. April: Back to NYC (work)
A few months later, I was back for the second half of the same training course. By then, spring had firmly taken hold of New York, and I was able to enjoy some lovely artisanal coffee in the sun. There were plans for another couple of trips to New York later in the year, but they were eventually abandoned – a shame. I’d really like to spend some more time in the city in the none-too-distant future. These couple of tasters really gave me an appetite for more.
3. May: Berlin for NEXT (work)
This was such a joyful trip. I love Berlin, a city (as my colleague Martin Recke says) without a business model. But it’s also a city having a world of fun trying to figure one out. My reason for being there was to attend NEXT, a conference I’ve worked for since early 2012. I love the gig – it’s an under-appreciated conference, whose team are superb at genuinely bringing you the future, rather than an examination of what’s happening now which most tech conferences do. I’ll certainly be back at NEXT in 2015, but there’s a chance I won’t be returning to Berlin during the year – and that makes me sad. It’s the city I’ve visited most in the past three years, and I’ve fallen a little bit in love with it.
4. June: Hong Kong (work)
Almost exactly three years after I failed to get on a long haul flight, due to an extreme fear of flying, I strapped myself happily into a metal tube, had a nice meal, a glass of red wine, and slept deeply for the majority of the 13 hour flight. So far, so good. However, I’d made a mistake in not pushing hard enough for an extra day to acclimatise to the time difference. The combination of the massive jet lag, and the rampant humidity of the city – it felt rather like being slapped in the face with a fish-scented sauna every time I stepped outside – made this the hardest trip I took this year. Still, it was compensated for by an especially lovely bunch of trainees, who I loved working with. The afternoon we shot video together was one of my working highlights this year.
5. August: La Belle France (pleasure)
Just over a week at my brother’s place in France, not terribly far from Poitiers. A week when I didn’t have to cook, barely worked, and indulged in swims and long walks in the woods. It took me a long way to recovering from the major wobble I’d gone through earlier in the year. (More on that later in the week…)
6. August: The Cotswolds (pleasure)
Another week’s holiday in August, this time with my wife’s half of the family. Lakes, walks, and mediocre food. But Hazel had a huge amount of fun, and so did I, so I can’t really complain. All in all, I took half the month off, which was probably one of the best decisions I took all year.
7. December: Paris in the winter (work)
Rounding out the year was my annual pilgrimage to LeWeb. It’s been nine years on the trot now, and I’ve come to really enjoy Paris in that time. It’s a city that rises above the worst things levelled at it – the disdain and hostility of its residents – while not quite living up to the most positive things people claim – the whole “city of romance” business. The real city is so much more interesting than either of those extremes.