Thanks for joining me! But ‘what’s it all about?’ I hear you ask?
This is a somewhat indulgent blog (but aren’t they all), but one that will grow as the idea catches on. Having just retired after 40 years in the Civil Service, the last 28 in London, I have grown to admire the diversity of London for it’s people, architecture and open spaces. This started in my early years in London taking my children around London as part of a charity event sponsored by Cadbury’s: The London Strollerthon, which was a ten mile walk around parts of London not normally seen, and my interest was piqued there and then.
My work in London took me to locations based all across the city: notably Wood Green, Edmonton, Fitzrovia, Sutton, Bloomsbury, St James’s Park, The Strand, Holborn, Aldgate and Whitehall and travelling across London in the quest of improving public services became part of the daily routine. Fascinating to get my head around the intricacies of the tube network and inter-connections with main line rail services and occasional bus routes. The TFL website (in its current guise) and their maps became the ‘go to’ place to work out how to get to my destination. Enhancements with a myriad of mobile apps made it easier, but for me my preference is Google maps and its direction finder.
Travelling around London, you’re limited to only seeing the framed picture of life through a window, fleetingly in some cases as the train and tube (in the open) travels on it’s fixed route, and when walking, normally hurrying to my destination trying to avoid other commuters and sight-seers. The Strollerthon taught me to look up, around, and down and spend time to stop and enjoy the surroundings; sometimes people watching and sometimes the river life that constantly moves. So when thinking about retirement, I still wanted these travelling experiences and then came a light-bulb moment, a return to a childhood passion for photography.
As a teenager, weekends were consumed with taking over the family kitchen covering the windows with black bin liners to create a darkroom. A passion that emerged from mixing my own chemicals and discovering, with excitement, how tone and contrast could be created with different solutions. The art of creating a well composed black and white picture was a combination of timing, lighting, patience, science and having the right lenses, and seeing all that resolve through the end print was a culmination of days if not weeks of effort. Many events drew me away from this obsessive hobby, but the most significant was the advent of digital cameras and then software applications to enhance the picture. In my purist mind set, this wasn’t photography. 40 or so years on, I’ve adapted and adopted digital photography for its simplicity of ‘point, click, print, publish, enhance’ in an instant through a myriad of devices. So the thought of travelling around London taking pictures grew; but nothing new or interesting, or even challenging in doing that so what was my angle?
Having worked for the Government’s Digital Service since it’s birth in 2011, it would have been wrong not to adopt some of its guiding principles in building public services. Things such as: understanding the user needs; user centric design, content design; built it, try it and iterate it, be open and tell people what you’re doing through blogging. For some, this isn’t rocket science, but equally for others this might sound idealistic; however the main principle I’m adopting is trying it through blogging and inviting feedback on what works and how to improve.
So there’s the trinity: Commuting; Photography and make it Digital. So what will I do to make this blog interesting?
- First and foremost I’m doing this for me (user need) as it will bring together three aspects of my work/life from over the past 40 years or so
- Secondly, I’m new to blogging, so that’s a learning experience
- Thirdly, I want to invite feedback, so I can adapt my message on what others want, or learn from other’s experiences
- Fourthly, what makes this different?
…or some might say it’s the start of the line? What am I talking about?
The plan is to travel to every end point destination on the underground, overground, DLR, air line, tram and forthcoming new lines (Elizabeth line and Battersea extension. Once there, get off and explore the surrounding area and meet people to find out about them and their thoughts on where they live (this will be a challenge), take some pics and post them here. There are 72 destination all told.
I’ll probably blog weekly, but will see how that goes; what do you think?
To help me, I invite you to direct me where to go, as I have no pre-planned route, and explain why I should go there, and maybe that could be something to include in the blog.
I’ve no idea how this is going to evolve, but evolve it will. I reckon in a year’s time, I may have reached my final destination, and fully expect this blog to look different to today’s version. Help me achieve that with your thoughts on how to develop this blog. What about a Facebook page? A twitter stream? An Instagram presence?
Oh yeah! One valuable resource I’ve discovered on the TFL site – where the toilets are.
Wish me luck and a bon voyage 🙂