The story of my life one year at a time: 2001

After 2011 I thought I’d go 10 years further back, to 2001, and that wasn’t so easy. The internet was in its infancy, so Google searches don’t appear to be so effective, and my photography had not yet gone digital.

2011 was pretty straight forward for me. I was still a wage slave and had just moved jobs to become Group Marketing Director at Willett International. I had an office in London within walking difference of King’s Cross and also spent a couple of days a week at Willett’s UK base in Corby. Both Clare and Charles were still ‘on the payroll’, Clare was at university in Leeds and Charles was just starting at Sheffield Hallam.

Whatever happened earlier in the year 2001 would end up being defined by 9/11. That dreadful Al Qaeda attack on the World Trade Centre stopped the world momentarily and arguably shaped the world in which we live today. Earlier in the year George Bush was elected president of the USA. In the UK we had a foot and mouth outbreak resulting in thousands of cattle being slaughtered.

9/11 notwithstanding it appears to have been a very simple and straight forward year. Juni and I took just one vacation (see below) although Juni also went to see the Taj Mahal at the time that I was visiting the US in September (see below). I did lots of business travel but clearly it was largely uneventful because my photographic record is so thin.

January: we moved into the new year with a street party. In Pease Way we have by and large known each other and a subset has enjoyed a New Year’s Eve party in which the ladies wear posh frocks and the men behave badly. Sadly I don’t think we have the stamina any more, two have died and another has moved away. Pity.

In the photo left to right: Faye, Sarah, Stan (sadly died) and Diane

March: Berlin is one of the great cities of Europe and its characterised by the many courtyards surrounded by multi-story housing, offices etc. March is not quite springtime but I did enjoy dinner at a table outside a restaurant in one such courtyard (Hof). The air was still and the sky clear; the only sounds were those of the muted conversations of the diners and the clacking of the waiters shoes. Magic.

I was in Berlin to deliver a paper (!) at the annual ‘Inkjet & Thermal Printing’ conference in the Maritime Hotel. I have a copy but I hope it’s an early draft because it’s not very good!

April: when I joined Willett I was able to order the car of my choice (within reason) but until it was delivered I had to make do with a pool car and that was a VW Passat. Not a great car; it got me from A to B but did little for my ego! My car of choice was a Volvo V60. I’d had a C70 at Linx and had been impressed with it but we ‘needed’ a hatchback to enable us to easily take our dog with us. My Volvo was delivered 12 Apr 21 and served me very nicely: you don’t drive a Volvo, it’s more a case of sitting in one and steering it. Volvos are safe, in the marketing lexicon Volvo owns ‘safety’, and comfortable. For some reason mine was a miserable maroon colour, maybe I had to opt for such a colour to get it quickly, but that was my only grumble.

May: it’s sad that we all grow old but it’s said that it’s better than the alternative. In 2001 my mother was 81 and had aged considerably in the early months of the year. Sadly it was time for her to move to a place where she could get a little more extra care and be closer to me, her only son. She moved into Woodlands in Somersham where she was fortunate to have her own bungalow. She was well looked after and she was pleased that the carers, many of whom were quite young, took time to chat with her. My mother’s health continued to deteriorate and she died later in the year.

June: Willett had a regional structure with strong leaders in Europe, North and South America and Asia/Pacific. My global role meant that I had to interact with each of them and that meant time in their territories. Of the four regional leaders the one in the US was the weakest and I visited him for the first time. He had an immediate management team which spent much of its time telling me how unsatisfactory he was.

This visit also coincided with a national sales meeting. I can’t really say I’d fit in easily with this bunch but they were fun to be with.

August: there’s a lot going for a summer holiday in France. The weather’s good and the hospitality sector is geared up to provide good food and sometimes this can be in very pleasant environments. This year we joined John Rickards and his family in rather splendid rented accommodation in the Dordogne. We stayed in a rural property with a swimming pool, enjoyed the local cuisine with its specialties of duck and nut oil, and learnt a little of the history of the regions and its fortified 13th century townships (bastides).

The photo is of the Valentre Bridge in Cahors.

September: I was in Las Vegas for the first time to attend a trade show (PackExpo). Because of jet lag I was waking early and getting into the gym at 0600 or soon thereafter. On day 2 I looked at the TV screen and at first glance I thought it was screening a disaster movie as I watched a plane fly into the side of one of the World Trade Centre’s twin towers. Then I clicked into the commentary and heard that it was the second tower which was being targeted and being shown live on national TV. I went along to the trade show later that day and you’ve never encountered such a downbeat event, US business loves a trade show and generally they’re full of spirit but not on this day.

Thereafter travel was ‘disrupted’ with all flights being immediately grounded. To their credit the Las Vegas hotels allowed guests to extend their stays at the discount rates they’d got for the trade show and then came the challenge of getting out. Las Vegas quickly ran out of hire cars and then people started buying new cars just to get away. I got a flight on the Friday morning to Dallas, but it was a long wait to check in, and then a flight back to the UK on Saturday.

October: the Crown and Punchbowl in Waterbeach is one of my regular eateries. I remember first visiting in the late 90s and now it’s a part of the Huntsbridge group and generally serves excellent food. It has gone though some ownership changes and its fortunes have gone up and down as a result. A group of us from Pease Way enjoyed a disfunctional meal there and it must have been one of its down periods. The menu wasn’t all available and the supply of drinks became increasingly limited as the evening went on.

The story of my life, one year at a time: 2011

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to build a story of my life one year at a time so I decided to make it just a little easy by starting with 2011. It’s ‘easy’ because it’s only ten years ago, because I’ve got a pretty good digital photography record and because my working notes seem pretty comprehensive. I can probably complement these with my credit card account and by reference to Juni’s diary in which she records our meals. Plus of course for context there is the Internet and the power of Google et al.

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Photo of the month: May 2021

It’s been a good month for photography with several candidates for PotM. Then when I’d chosen this one I was in two minds whether or not to post the version with a few, very minor, post processing adjustments. In the end I’ve decided to go for it. Click here for a copy of the plain unvarnished version

This is a photo of good friend Stuart Lothian who’s just been shopping at Michael’s fruit and veg ‘stall’ on Park Lane and it’s confirmation yet again that it’s always carrying your with camera with you.

The photo was taken with my Sony a7 III, 1/100th at f5.6 and ISO 100. The zoom was set at 170mm. As mentioned above there’s been a little light post-processing and a square crop.

Five great upgrades

I’m fortunate but I’ve also got to apologise. I’m fortunate in that I’ve enjoyed lots of interesting business travel often in business or even first class. At one time I had three gold cards: with BA, KLM and SAS which meant that even when I was travelling economy I still got to avoid the long economy class check-in queues and was able to use the business class lounges.

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Photo of the month: April 2021

Two PotM posts in a row rather suggests I haven’t been doing much writing recently. I’ll blame that on the election and promise to improve now that’s behind us.

This is a photo, one of the first, taken with my new camera, that’s a Sony Alpha 7 III. It was taken with an exposure of 1/2000th at f1.8 and ISO 100 with a 50mm lens.

I took it low down so needed to crop it to bring it back to vertical but there’s been no other post processing. How could you improve those colours?

Photo of the month: March 2021

I was stuck without a DSLR for a couple of weeks as I was trading up. That meant I resorted to my perfectly good Sony WX-350 compact.

This is a photo of Ros Hathorn who’s standing as the Lib Dem candidate in the county council elections to replace me. She’s an excellent candidate and will make an excellent councillor. We needed a shot of her in Orchard Park with visible context so here she is in Unwin Square in front of Tesco.

As I said it was taken with my Sony WX-350. 1/100th at f5.0 and a focal length of 12.05mm and ISO80. I confess to a little light work in Photshop to add a tad of blur to the background

Photo of the month: February 2021

It’s not a usual shot for me, more for artistic merit than a part of the story of my life, but it seems to work. Camera held low down, shallow depth of field frosty morning.

This photo was taken with my Sony A77 II DSLR, 1/80th at f2.8 and ISO100 using my 50mm prime. There’s been no post processing except to give it a ‘non-standard’ horizontal crop