Published on
Published in
Bexhill-on-Sea, England

2015 in review

I wasn’t going to write about 2015, but reading a few end-of-year reviews has encouraged me to attempt the same, so here goes…

Last year started with some unfinished business, seeing out the remainder of my contract at the Guardian in January. Then, after a month spent with family in Brazil, I was able to start my second stint at freelancing in March. I wrote about some of the tribulations of this endeavour a few months ago; thankfully things have picked up since writing that post.

Maria and Ana sharing a carton of orange juice.
Visiting family in February meant I could spend some quality time with my brother and two nieces, Maria and Ana.

Besides the trip to São Paulo, the year featured plenty of other destinations: Berlin, Bath, Manchester, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges, Prague, Budapest, Paris and Birmingham. Most of my travel was concentrated on cities in Britain or on the Continent; I see no reason why that shouldn’t continue into this year, as well.

As usual, I attended a number of conferences (though few saw me venture outside Brighton): UpFront, Responsive Day Out, Edge, Indie Web Camp, dConstruct and Canvas, finishing up with Ampersand, which was far and away the one I enjoyed most.

I also made a concerted effort to attend events beyond the realm of web design. I heard talks about the history of my local railway station, the design of the Olympic Stadium’s new roof, and collecting graphic art. Cultural highlights included my first West End play (King Charles III), briefly sharing a stage with comedian Tony Law, and perusing the work of William Kentridge and Ai Weiwei. I also crossed a few local attractions off my to-do list, visiting Brooklands Museum, Crystal Palace and Hampton Court. Of the little live sport I saw, both the FIA Formula E ePrix in Battersea Park and the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games were pretty disappointing.

Between all this, I could be found hunched over my laptop in various coffee shops, writing articles for net Magazine, A List Apart, 24 ways and the Pastry Box Project, or preparing for a talk that I gave at Front-end London, CSS Day, and Web Expo.

Oh, and I launched my redesigned website. Finally.

My trips around Europe allowed me to indulge in my love of architecture, notably the Fernsehturm in Berlin, A’DAM (previously Toren Overhoeks) in Amsterdam and the Cube Houses in Rotterdam as well as the stunningly beautiful Belgium city of Bruges.

A small stone-made bridge in Bruges.

So onwards, and on to 2016. Work wise, I’ve identified two improvements that need instigating. Firstly, I need to make better use of any periods of downtime, or better still, be in a position to dictate when they occur. I also want to work on projects that are more creatively rewarding. My ideal project would be 3-6 months long, possibly involve working in Europe, and have a positive social impact. I need to try much harder to seek out work that meets this criteria.

Last year I started working with a personal trainer. While this has seen an improvement in my strength and overall fitness, these gains were offset by a poor diet. I now need to focus on making small but sustainable changes (drinking more water, eating more fruit and veg, planning meals in advance) to fully realise the benefits.

Finally, I’m determined to spend less time in 2016 hunched over my aforementioned laptop writing long form articles or preparing talks, instead writing shorter posts, more often. Hopefully this should mean I can spend more time reviving Bradshaw’s Guide (my somewhat neglected side-project) and pursuing exhibitions and events that take me away from the screen.

Two boats sat on calm water.
Boats sat on still Atlantic waters, just off the coast of Ubatuba, Brazil.