No Christmas markets this year!

That’s not surprising and probably a good thing too. What with Covid-19 most if not all Christmas markets that I have visited in the past years have been cancelled for 2020. 

On this day ten years ago I was in central Birmingham for a meeting. When I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Christmas Market, it looked so much nicer than anything I had seen before.

After my meeting and before I headed home on the train I had a good look round. They had a wonderful range of stalls selling toys, Christmas ornaments and a range of delicious looking food.

If I recall I didn’t actually buy anything, but had been sorely tempted.

Shaun the Sheep (and friends)

One of the things we missed this year (not that it happens every year) was doing a statue trail.

Back in 2015 we did the Shaun in the City trail across Bristol, the wider area and finished off seeing them all at Covent Garden. We managed to see 62 out of the 70.

In 2018 we did the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail which as well as Shaun the Sheep and Gromit, also had Wallace getting in on the act as well. This time we did manage to capture all 67 sculptures.

So it was quite nice on a visit to the Mall at Cribbs Causeway to see a few sculptures in the Gromit Unleased shop.

There was the vanilla Shaun the Sheep.

There were a few Chinese inspired sculptures as well, including Kansashi

Then we had Year of the Gromit.

Also Shanghai Shaun.

I quite enjoyed seeing Caractacus Paws again, which was one of my favourite Gromit from the Gromit Unleashed 2, though Bristol’s Own was probably my actual top sculpture.

The other Gromit there as The Sea of Hope.

Though not a Gromit or a Shaun, I did quite enjoy seeing the huge Morph as well.

Down at the beach

During my government sanctioned exercise we cycled down to the seafront in Weston-super-Mare. Compared to the a previous visit,  back in the middle of April, it was much busier, but to be honest pretty much deserted.

There were a few people like us doing our exercise, walking, cycling, running. The odd dog walker as well.

In addition there were people kit surfing in the sea.

The council closed all their seafront car parks in an additional move to dissuade casual visitors and at the time of writing they are still closed. So in the end the place is deserted with only a few people exercising.

Just to note that I am following government advice during this national emergency and the photograph was taken during my government sanctioned exercise.

Zoom Backgrounds of Weston-super-Mare

So if you are looking for some backgrounds for your Zoom and Teams calls, then here are some lovely pictures of the beach and pier at Weston-super-Mare that I have taken over the years.

Right click the images to download the images for your personal use only.

Deserted Weston-super-Mare

During my government sanctioned one form of exercise per day we cycled down to the seafront in Weston-super-Mare.

The seafront was deserted. I have seen it empty like this in winter, but not in spring with the sun shining.

There were a few people like us doing our exercise, walking, cycling, running. The odd dog walker as well.

All the attractions, cafes, restaurants and bars were closed.

They could be open for takeaway, but after the kerfuffle before the lockdown with huge queues at the Victorian Cafe and the fish and chip places, the owners made the responsible decision to not open any more and stay closed.

The council closed all their seafront car parks in an additional move to dissuade casual visitors. So in the end the place is deserted with only a few people exercising.

Just to note that I am following government advice during this national emergency and these photographs were taken during my government sanctioned one form of exercise per day.

My top ten tweets of 2019

GWR HSTLast year I posted my top ten tweets for 2018 and I did the same in 2017 and 2016 which was interesting to see which tweets of mine were popular.

The top tweet back in 2016 was this one for #WednesdayWisdom

Whilst top tweet for 2017 was this one from the 2017 ALT Conference and it was my sketchnote of Bonnie Stewart’s keynote on openness.

The top tweet back in 2018 was this one about the newly revamped WHSmith at Bristol Temple Meads complete with storage cage!

So in 2019, my tenth most popular tweet was this one about my son appearing on BBC Points West whilst working at Bristol Temple Meads as a GWR Apprentice.

In ninth place was a nostalgic tweet about a steam train visiting Weston-super-Mare ten years ago in July.

I did tweet a lot about the past this year, and will do less of it next year.

At number eight was a tweet about the phrase “digital detox” which gets bandied about a lot when people feel they need to take a break from services such as Twitter. If you feel you need to take a break, you probably do, but is it necessary to tell everyone about it?

Seventh was about about an incident at Oxford Circus. The tweet was picked up by some news outlets and my photo appeared on a news website.

The sixth tweet was about WHSmith in Bristol being covered in plastic last February.

I did find this reply amusing….

The reason was less worrying, it was because they were putting the Post Office into WHSmith.

The tweet at number five was one about  great women in edtech from March for International Women’s Day.

Fourth was another nostalgic tweet about the #140conf Twitter Conference  I attended in 2009 and was on a panel session with some great people.

And now the top three, with the third tweet was an early morning tweet celebrating that GWR were now using old HSTs as commuter trains, so we had more seats and faster trains.

At number two was a tweet about the revamped WHSmith in Weston-super-Mare.

So the most popular tweet of 2019 was this one about keeping the old Twitter.

So what does this tell us? Very little.

Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2019

Bristol HarboursideOver the last twelve months I have posted 68 blog posts to the blog. This is less than in 2018 when I published 89 posts. However most of the 89 posts in 2018 were from the Gromit Unleashed 2 trail across Bristol. I did post 24 televisual advent calendar posts in 2019 so this boosted the total.

Most of the top ten posts are nostalgic posts about Bristol in the 1990s…

There are in reverse order starting off with the tenth most popular post on the blog.

Remembering the Bristol Temple Way Flyover

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Five

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Six

Changes at the railway station

“the cafe on tv at weston super mare is it real”

Cinematic Advent Calendar #05 – Leon

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Four

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s Part Three

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s

Bristol Harbourside in the 1990s

Cabot Circus Christmas Changes

On my way to do a pick up from the Vue Cinema, I took a photograph of the festive Cabot Circus.

Cabot Circus Christmas

Searching Flickr I found this similar images from December 2012.

Cabots Circus by David X Mitchell via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Its interesting to see the differences. Cafe Rouge has gone and has been replaced by Five Guys. I noticed recently that Giraffe had closed and the unit was now a Slim Chickens. On the ground floor was was SoHo (which has moved around the corner) is now a Tortilla and a Typo. In 2012 Patisserie Valerie was still open, today it’s closed and boarded up.

What did you want to be when you grow up?

I found this BBC article interesting about a report from the OECD.

By the age of seven, children are already facing limits on their future aspirations in work, according to a report from the OECD international economics think tank.

It got me thinking about my own aspirations and career plans when I was younger.

If I remember correctly at the age of seven I think I wanted to be a postman!

Royal Mail Van

At secondary school I went through a range of ideas, including being a BBC camera operator, an architect and working in a bank. I even ran our school bank for a couple of years.

Midland Bank

Then doing work experience at my local Midland Bank certainly put me off working in a bank!

When I was in my teens I wanted to work in the city in London. As a result I did Economics at A Level. Then I watched ITV’s Capital City and decided not to!

Just doing a Google search on the series I now see it had a young Jason Isaacs in the cast.

Jason Isaacs

I thought Capital City was broadcast in the mid 1980s, but according to the Wikipedia page it was actually broadcast in 1989. Shows how time plays tricks with your memories, as I always thought Capital City was one of the reasons I studied Economics, which wasn’t true, as I chose my A Level choices in 1985, a good four years before I saw the series. Now thinking that the series probably had a negative impact on my career choices.

At University I studied Economics, however my career plans were somewhat skewed by doing charity fundraising. So was not going to attempt to work in London.

I left university without a clear career plan. What about you? What did you want to do when you were seven?