The 2nd week in Cambridge started with working on the OKFN Open Data Census, for which I’m the lead editor of the country census. Met-up with Mark Wainwright (CKAN team) and a Thursday morning conference call to discuss the Census in general, and the upcoming workshop I’ll facilitate in Geneva next month at the OKCon.

In the afternoon I went for a coffee with Elmine at Hot Numbers, where I brought my blog back online. It had been compromised last June, and abused to send spam. So took it off-line then, but that was shortly before our summer vacation. Now moved it to a new server environment and brought it back.
After that scoped out an internal project for The Green Land (let’s call it Triangulate) that will help us spot Open Data opportunities for our clients.

Friday we went into London, starting with a visit to the Design Museum. They had a floor dedicated to ‘making’ including a full FabLab set-up on which they were training non-techie staff to use the machines. Inspiring to see Making highlighted in a way that was fresh to me, and “holding questions“. After lunch walked down Portobello Road in Notting Hill, having a drink at the Duke of Wellington. For dinner we returned to 32 Great Queen Street, where we had dinner with Ivo last year during the Olympic Games. There I tasted the best goat cheese ever, Cardo.

Design Museum Design Museum
“The Future Is/Was Here” at Design Museum (making machines on the left)

The weekend we took it slow. Viv McWaters returned from Norway and joined us in Cambridge. Enjoyed the garden, smoking a cigar, and cleaning up my Things (GTD tool).

Monday was a working day with conference calls and taking a closer look at possible projects in the fall. Also booked an apartment and tickets for upcoming trip to Geneva. For the first time this stay in Cambridge picked up the guitar.

Notting Hill Untitled
On Portobello Road, and at King’s Cross Station

As almost every day the day started bright and sunny Tuesday, but this time it stayed that way right until the evening. Did some dreary error-searching in my 2012 books, in preparation for the tax-filings, due September 1st. Then lunch in town, great calamari, and returned to work on my ‘radar’ project (Let’s call it ‘Monopulse’, to keep track of the themes I am interested in, in a more automated fashion)

Towards evening Viv, Elmine and I went to nearby Ely, to attend a reading event with author Neil Gaiman, who recently published “The Ocean at the end of the lane”. To my surprise over 800 people were there for the event. And according to the local land lady of a pub had been queueing since 5pm (2.5 hours before the scheduled start). Luckily it took place in Ely Cathedral (oldest parts from 11th century), which is so massive it probably can take all inhabitants of Ely with room to spare. It did mean we could hardly see the author from the last rows (I had number 774, should have queued earlier to get a better spot!)

Ely Ely
Ely Cathedral, Neil Gaiman

The last day of this 2nd week was spend doing admin in the morning, after which we spent the rest of the day with Meg and her two daughters.
Meg picked us up from Letchworth “Garden City”, a designed city from 1904, by the Arts and Crafts movement. They thought it would inspire creativity, but it doesn’t seem to have succeeded as it has become a very suburban town. It does boast the UK’s first roundabout, from 1909 or so (after which it apparently went viral).

We also visited Bedford, a calm city on the river Ouse. We picked up the girls there, and strolled through the park, wandered through the local museum, had some refreshments at a pub. Pleasant, uneventful, and therefore with plenty of space just to chat and talk. Bedford is also the place of the UK ‘zeppelins’. Their first very large blimp (R101), on its first big voyage to India, crashed in France. Why on earth, like the Germans, they used the highly combustable hydrogen, I cannot imagine. Helium might have worked much better.

P1050546 Untitled
UK’s first roundabout, airship hangars at Bedford

The second week zipped by. And already it seems, with under 2 weeks remaining, as if we’re almost leaving again (at least I start to feel the pressure to cram in some more meetings with people we haven’t succeeded in meeting up with.) At the same it will also be good to work from home again, as we basically have not been in our regular home rhythm for 8 weeks or so. I guess that’s a good sign, that traveling also makes you long for your own place, with your familiar routines.

4 reactions on “A month in Cambridge – Week 2

  1. It sure sounds like you are having a wonderful, creative and growthful time. Taking oneself out of the usual context often works wonders in terms of refreshing the mind and spirit.


  2. Well, yes, it is fun to be here. At the same time it is also very mundane and “you always take yourself with you” of course. It’s the balancing act between those two that I find intriguing. Last year, with the month in Copenhagen, I think upfront I had expected it to be more a ‘peak experience’, but it isn’t naturally. Also as only hindsight shows me what were eye-openers and patterns that stood out. But the change of place does jolt your rhythms and assumptions (which I don’t always perceive as a positive in the moment), and thus new exposures and it does create the space to pay attention to things normally drowned in regular work (For instance it’s easier here to make time for work related tasks that are more long term oriented, whereas at home I would probably dive full into the work things demanding my attention in the here and now).

    All in all it is a bit like the designed garden city mentioned in the posting: You cannot design experiences from a let’s say ‘romantic’ notion of how creative and reflective it will be. Letchworth has I suspect always been the slightly boring suburbia it now is. Nice but not all that stimulating. What you can do is expose yourself and see what comes of it. I am sure you have made similar experiences on your many extended walks through many cities.

    I might turn our ‘a month in a different city’ observations into an e-book at some point.

  3. Wow, 50 (!) years ago I stayed 3 weeks with a family in Bedford, with the Ouse in the backyard.

Comments are closed.