It’s that most wonderful time of year again, Christmas is done, and for the last three years I have looked forward to writing down the fun stuff that has added a bit of magic to everyday of the year.

It has been a year of exploration; I guess it was always going to be, moving to a new country, a new job and a whole new set of experiences for us to consider as the both us started falling in love with our new home. Stan Lee in Spiderman  has Uncle Ben consider power, responsibility and change, this year I corrupted the quote for my own purposes,

“With great responsibility has to come great fun, or else the responsibility will breed contempt and commitment will be harder to maintain.”

At the time it felt better than work hard, play hard and a little less American management school as well!

In late January I set out into town with a couple of new friends, they wanted to show me my new town from a different perspective. The first Dublin wander was underway, a trip to great places to enjoy company, a pint and some fun, something that Dublin is famous for. This takes me to my first list of the 2015 review, my top five favourite places to eat drink and be merry in Dublin:

  • P. Macs – A cosy craft beer-house lit by candles, heated to perfection (You will know what I mean if you visit) and with a choice of beers unrivalled in the city, not to mention games and nostalgic crisp flavours!
  • Fallon and Byrne Cellar – Great fish stew and a wonderful choice of wine. Being recommended a wine at 11:30 that the staff described as a good ‘breakfast wine’ created a moment in history for me and a couple of friends in May.
  • O’Donoghue’s – My first visit here on a Sunday lunch time was in February, to me this felt like I was stepping straight into a film about Dublin, the band played on and the Guinness was spectacular.
  • Pichet – French style to perfection in Dublin city centre, relaxed and yet so elegant.
  • 37 Dawson’s Street – This places has become our go to venue, quirky, friendly, fun, warm, great music (always appreciative of the time of day) and simply put a great experience!

There could be so many more on the list though as we really have enjoyed exploring the city with every visitor that has come to Ireland, and there have been plenty in our first year, additional mentions have to go to Fade Street roof (if the sun is shining), The Long Hall (for authenticity), Whitefriar Grill (for something so very different) and I would be ostracised by the boys that visited in May if I didn’t mention the Temple Bar (for sheer staying power!).

As with years going back to 2002 I have collated my songs of the year, and again when I spend the time looking at how different my taste changes I am quite taken a back. In 2002 my top songs were rather miserable in theme, certainly dark and almost beat free. And yet here I am writing,

‘Disco music can be cool again,’

…who would have thought that would be possible in 2015! On one of my brothers visits he asked, ‘what’s with all the disco music?’ It made me realise that suddenly a take on 70s disco had made it back on to my iPOD. And this became one of the musical revelations this year for me that if you mix some decent old disco with a house beat then you can hear something quite cool. Think Glitterbox in sunny Ibiza or the very talented Dimitri from Paris or the Todd Terje edits on the Masters of the Universe mixes or Tensnake or Booka Shade or Sandy Rivera or Joey Negro the list could go on and on! All awesome shape throwing fun, whilst cooking dinner in the kitchen, I am over 40 after all!

So my top twenty songs of the year are:

  1. Johanna – Geoff Zanelli and Mark Ronson (Featuring Miles Kane)
  2. How Deep Is Your Love – Calvin Harris and the Disciples
  3. Touch – Bearcubs
  4. Diamonds – Josef Salavat
  5. Holding On – Julio Bashmore (Featuring Sam Dew)
  6. Her Mercy – Glen Hansard
  7. Coming Home – Leon Bridges
  8. Full Circle – George Fitzgerald (Featuring Boxed In)
  9. Liquid Spirit (Claptone Remix) – Gregory Porter
  10. Weathered – Jack Garratt
  11. Fall Like A Feather – Dan Owen
  12. From The Dark – Maya Jane Coles (Featuring Moggli)
  13. Highway 101 – Groove Armada
  14. Shake It Off – Ryan Adams
  15. Wasn’t Expecting That – Jamie Lawson
  16. New Day – Rudimental (Featuring Bobby Womack)
  17. Dancing In The Dark – Hot Chip
  18. Smile – Etienne de Crecy (Featuring Alex Gopher)
  19. London – Benjamin Clementine
  20. Rescue – Deetron (Featuring George Maple)
  21. Lean On – Major Lazer (Featuring Mo and DJ Snake)
  22. S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

So yet again I have to go over the allocated twenty songs (29 exist on the actual playlist)and I am quite struck in building the list this year by the influence of living in Ireland, more ‘pop’ music than ever before which I put down to listening to more commercial radio than I think I have ever before and a resurgence for the male singer songwriter for me, which again is so prevalent in Ireland through the story telling in the delivery of songs. One thing I do still thoroughly enjoy though is the excitement to hear new music, getting ready for Field Day, Forbidden Fruit and other big festivals and gigs is all part of the tradition of new music for me. In last year’s review I moved from simply listing my top ten gigs to top events which was a reflection I thought on growing older, well I’m still growing older so here are my events:

Weddings – Two of my closest friends made honest ladies of their partners, both weddings reaffirmed to me the importance of friendship. To be in a room full of people who mean so much to a couple, to have been chosen to share in that was quite a wonderful part of 2015. It didn’t matter if it was acting out scenes from Reservoir Dogs walking up the road or throwing shapes to a live version of Uptown Funk being with the best friends you could ask for was what mattered most.

Field Day – A sunshine day again, as always one of the first on to the field but with chance to get to know the site and play the village mentality games. Field Day, probably the best one day festival there is! Catching Jack Garratt, Jungle, Todd Terje and the Olsens and the Farnborough Concert Band were highlights as was catching up with a long lost friend for fun and silliness.

Once – One of my all-time favourite films came to Dublin as a stage show, and totally by accident we went on the night that the mighty Glen Hansard was there. The encore of the show saw him jump on stage and for what would turn out to be the third time we would see Glen perform The Auld Triangle. An embarrassing note for me on the night was to be star struck in the bar of the very lovely Olympian, not (just) at seeing Glen in the bar but at seeing the Love/Hate star Susan O’Loughlin, I did apologise via twitter the next day though! Phew!

Barcelona – A spare day alone in Barcelona on a trip, what better way to spend the lunch time than to head to Bodega 1900. In the El Raval district Bodega is one of the Adria Brothers Barcelona restaurants (the most famous is Tickets, literally across the road). I sat in beautiful sunshine and had the most exquisite tapas known to man, the Spherical Olive in particular will stay with me forever.

Greenhouse lunch – A reservation just for two to try out a new place for Saturday lunch, we were blown away, the service, the taste and the art of what was served, but mostly the company, proving time after time in Ireland that some of the best things to do are done in twos.

Powerscourt – On a recommendation we took the car to this quite amazing Wicklow County place, as you step through the main entrance the views simply blow you away, having returned in sunshine and grey days I can safely say the magic doesn’t decrease but there is always something special about the first visit.

Poolbeg Lighthouse – A cold and windy day so we decided to walk out to sea! Well not quite but taking the camera we walked the concrete path to Poolbeg Lighthouse in the middle of Dublin Bay. The Poolbeg towers have become almost a talisman of being in Dublin for us, I see them every day to and from work so to be the other side of them looking back to beautiful Dublin really put a different perspective on the landscape.

Aqua lunch – Another recommendation from so many people, it had to be followed up. A lovely coastal train ride round to Howth and wander down the peer and then the second best Oysters I have ever eaten, the first will never be beaten!

Ed Sheeran – As I said in the music review part of this blog, pop music has had a resurgence in my life in 2015. Getting old or commercial radio are to blame, and yet Ed Sheeran has always been part of my iPod library since his debut performance on Wayfaring Stranger on Jools Holland all those years ago. So to grab four tickets for the Crooke Park gig was exciting, I was worried for the chap beforehand, over eighty thousand people in a stadium to see a solo artist. I needn’t have worried, he was awesome, engaging and played his heart and soul out from start to finish, and there was Glen Hansard again and that Auld Triangle! To share it with new friends from Ireland also made it extra special too.

Forbidden Fruit – Ibiza ended up rained out this year, which was perhaps a reflection of our first Ireland festival too. We arrived in sunshine, we explored the site in sunshine, then the heavens opened for a good couple of hours. And yet that disco/house mix mentioned earlier kicked in and Booka Shade blew away the clouds and Tensnake promoted a dance routin from me that ended up on Facebook. A great (wet) day that we can’t wait to repeat!

Maybe it’s moving to a new place or trying to do too many things but books have shrunk in my life in 2015, and that is a huge regret. I guess we read so much for work and staying on top of social media when you have moved away seems suddenly more important, however I am going to fix that in 2016. So my top five books for 2015 are probably not going to be any kind of revelation to anyone else but;

  1. Ghosts in the Wires – Kevin Mitnick
  2. The Buried Giant – Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Head Of State – Andrew Marr
  4. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  5. The Wolf in CIO’s Clothing – Tina Nunno

I enjoyed each of them and they are I think quite an eclectic mix that’s for sure.

I have explained before in previous reviews of the year that the experience of a film in our house is not the big cinema style so much, not sure why but it has not become something we do. This then results in my favourite films of the year being six months behind the rest of the world, top films though this year have to include Boyhood for the sheer cleverness of commitment to such a huge project and Birdman for something a bit different where the film actually does happen. Being able to watch those two films in the same year that I was persuaded to watch Locke and The Rover, both films that on paper looked great and yet very little happened, particularly Locke, which looked good from start to finish, but is clear proof that looking good isn’t enough for a film, particularly at home on the ‘small’ screen.

The war/conflict film still continues to be a huge draw for me with 71 and Fury and The Monument Men and American Sniper all entertaining from start to finish. Whilst I have loved all of the Marvel films to date I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy Ant-Man and then by 15 minutes in I was completely hooked, smashing stuff. So my top ten films of the year are:

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. Antman
  4. 71
  5. American Sniper
  6. The Theory of Everything
  7. Interstellar
  8. Selma
  9. Imitation Game

I’m going to save a spot on here for Star Wars, how can it not be in the top ten films!

The year review for me has always been about the social and cultural part of life, an indulgence I look forward to allowing myself on this blog site.

However the year has been such an exciting one from a work point of view forgive me two reflections that stand up as milestones for me. Firstly sharing a front page on an internet news outlet headline with Kim Kardashian and her Emojis was pretty cool in December, if not a little odd. There it was a photo of me and the next news panel was Kim and her new Emojis, enough to really make you check that the world was still spinning in the same direction!

And then the other was as much about the discovery as it was about the achievement, for Huffington Post to put me in the top social CIOs in the world was a fun honour, to find out via a retweet that mentioned me did place social media and twitter in particular in my mind as a giant leap forward for how we engage as leaders in technology, a part of my role I have thoroughly enjoyed this year.

So another year comes to an end, what will next year bring, I’m already looking forward to the Sunday Times list of artists to watch in 2016. With LCD Soundsystem releasing a Christmas song there is always a set of crossed fingers for some new stuff by them and a possible tour so I can tick them off my bucket list, although I think I may simply being hopeful.

Happy new year folks, here’s to the next one, slainte!