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.

2011 was a significant year for me. Number one daughter Clare got married to Alex and became Mrs Bradbury. I was self-employed working regularly for Macsa, Spline Gauges and 42 Technology. I was also a business coach working within a government program (Growth Accelerator) run by the St John’s Innovation Centre, from which I took on continuing work with Camlab, and a lecturer on Chartered Institute of Marketing courses at the Cambridge Marketing College. I was a non-executive director and part owner of Labfax and Gransden (the photo above is of me in Kinsale, Ireland on the one business trip I was able to make as a part of my role at Gransden), a non-executive director at Cambridgeshire Community Services, a county councillor at Cambridgeshire County Council and a governor at Impington Village College. I had a pretty full life.

The main events of the world at large are conveniently summarised by the Guardian (click here) and include the dreadful riots in several UK cities following the shooting of Mark Duggan in London and the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ which promised much and ended in bitter disappointment in Libya and Syria. It was also the year that a massive series of earthquakes hit north-east Japan, that US forces killed Osama bin Laden and that Apple’s Steve Jobs and North Korean President Kim Jong-il both died. And, to add a touch of symmetry to my personal year, Prince William married Catherine Middleton.

January: The UK was still readjusting to life after the financial crisis of 2008 and the austerity measures brought in by the coalition government. These squeezed local government finances and the Tories at Cambridgeshire County Council responded with plans to cut services including subsidised bus routes and libraries.

As a county councillor I challenged these and thankfully the libraries in Cottenham and Histon were ‘saved’ and although the weekly 110 ‘freedom’ bus services from Impington to Ely on market days also survived the 3-times a day 106 from Rampton to Ely sadly did not.

February: as a result of my work as an independent business ‘consultant’ and the networking activity that this required of me I became involved with the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE). This involved me fronting up on a Saturday afternoon, giving an occasional lecture and facilitating business development workshops.

In the photo here I’m sandwiched between CUE president Shen Wei and Suzanne Oliver, a patent lawyer with HLBB Shaw.

March: I was in Spain early in the month and then needed to get to Sheffield to attend the Lib Dem spring conference. Flying home and then driving north late on Friday evening didn’t seem too attractive. Far better was a flight to Gatwick and then the train via St Pancras.

That proved to be a much better option once I realised that it was better to buy separate tickets for the different legs of the trip. It gave me a good hour for dinner and I enjoyed first class fish & ships at the St Pancras Grand. Click here for the full story of that journey.

April: we go to Italy most years for a week’s holiday and we generally do a guided tour. This time we just booked a few days in Rome and did it ourselves. I’m not sure we’d repeat the exercise but we still saw lots and ate well.

It was surprisingly cold when we arrived and it took a couple of days of sunshine to warm up. On day 1 of course we took the hop on/hop off bus and spent most of the time at the Vatican. The photo is an easy cliche shot of the dome in St Peter’s Basilica.

May: Once every three years May is the month for InterPack, the big trade fair for the packaging industry held in Dusseldorf. I’d attended in1996 and 1999 when I was with Linx and then in 2002 with Willett. This time I had an interest because of my work with both Macsa and 42 Technology.

Generally you need to have booked well in advance in order to get flights which don’t cost the earth and a hotel sensibly close by but despite booking late I suffered neither. The Villa Ratingen is a short tram ride away and the Italian restaurant was a bonus. Click here for a fuller account of my trip.

June: as a non-executive director at Labfax I visited them once a month for a board meeting. They were (they still are) based in Bridgnorth which is a fascinating town built on a hill and divided into ‘hightown’ and ‘lowtown’ with a funicular railway between the two.

As you approached Bridgnorth from the north there was a wild flower verge on the right with a splendid display of poppies and dog daisies. I usually drove up in the morning so I’d probably been up pretty early so the sight of these would have inspired me for the day.

July: until very recently Juni and I would head into Cambridge every Saturday morning for breakfast at Don Pasquale where we’d meet friends Tony and Christine Halls et al. Sadly Covid interrupted this, Don Pasquale has closed and Christine has died. We haven’t yet evolved into an alternative routine.

Mid-summer of course Cambridge would be pretty busy, local shoppers of course and tourists but not too many students. Plus people visiting for other purposes. Cambridge isn’t short of hen parties, I’ve seen ‘real-life’ Cluedo and there have been urban orienteering events. One day we saw this black and white dance troop. I reckoned they were some sort of alternative Morris dancers but I can find nothing about them via Google.

August: as a part of my continuing program to visit parts of the UK which I know less well I spent a few days in Cardiff. Actually it was my second such trip, the first one had been to Edinburgh in 2010, and the two cities can hardly be more different.

Whereas Edinburgh has the feel of the capital of an albeit small country with many fine buildings and historical references Cardiff reflects its heritage as an industrial centre. However its government building, y Senedd, is impressive.

September: anything else in 2011 pales into insignificance compared with the big event of September, Clare’s wedding to Alex. The day before the big event the sun shone but the next day it was overcast and you knew that it would rain. The only question was when. Fortunately the rains held off until after we’d finished the champagne on the lawn and the requisite photography.

The event provided the opportunity for Juni’s brother Oka and his wife Hermine to visit the UK. In the photogrph Hermine is next to me and then Oka is next to her. Then it’s Clare, one of her bridesmaids Liz, Juni and Alex. Click here for a more compete account of the wedding.

October: early in the month we enjoyed a week in the Languedoc with Travel Editions. OK it was a guided tour with a group of some 40 plus but it worked. We went by train and were based on a nice hotel, albeit a Holiday Inn, in the centre of Montpelier which is a splendid city which you imagine is what Cambridge might be like if it had better weather. It’s got a pedestrianised centre, there’s a tram system and a highly reputed university.

It was a good trip and we saw the cities (Narbonne, Nîmes and Béziers) which tell the story of the impact that the Romans, the visigoths and the muslims from North Africa, and the catholic church had on the region. My favorite memory though is of the Millau Viaduct which is an excellent example of how good design can mitigate the impact of development on the landscape.

November: Remembrance Day is a key date in the year and it’s observed in Histon & Impington as it is in towns and villages across the UK. Later when I was chair of the parish council I got to lay a wreath as a part of the service and I always felt that that was a responsibility which I should discharge with some care and dignity. This year I was merely a part of the congregation at the service.

It was a cold, sunny November day and I took a few photos. Behind the monument you can see the flags of the groups attending and the military representatives lined up on the left. And in the foreground bottom left the gentleman with the light coloured coat is Sqn Ldr David Butler DFC who has sadly died this year. I met him in 2013 when he told me he flew in Lancaster bombers in the war. I think he said that he’d been a rear gunner.

December: the lead-in to Christmas and Cambridge begins to liven up again. There are street decorations, the shops are bustling with offers to tempt the Christmas shopper to spend more than he or she really should and there are occasional carol singers.

The Salvation Army is always out with its band at the end of Petty Cury by the junction with Sydney Street and I generally give them a donation. The Army does good work and I remember the time when it came round the pubs on a Friday evening selling War Cry.

The shot is an ‘artistic’ shot of a tuba with what used to be Fosters Bank (now Lloyds) in reflection and confirming the location. Merry Xmas!

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