Last year around this time I wrote my first blog piece that wasn’t related to work and being a CIO in the healthcare business.

I wrote it on a whim to reflect on all the great things that 2013 had brought, and boy 2013 had been a great year! 2014 has followed in a similar way, perhaps more change than I would have thought this time last year, I certainly did not think I would be sat in Ireland writing this that’s for sure but it has been a great year.

As with last year music remains a huge part of our lives. In 2014 the theme that started in 2013 continued with a much more cheerful outlook to the music that gets played the most. Since 2002 I have tried to create a playlist of my top twenty songs of the year, it used to be traditional for a group of us to ‘share’ these around but technology has moved us on, I am not sure what some people would do with a CD with 20 songs on if I gave it to them nowadays!

So here is my list instead:

  1. Love Sublime – Tensnake
  2. Luna – Bombay Bicycle Club
  3. Lessons – SOHN
  4. Pushing On – Oliver $ and Jimi Jules
  5. Do You Feel The Same? – Hercules and Love Affair
  6. They Told Me It Rained – Jamie T
  7. Walking With Elephants – Ten Walls
  8. Cavalier – James Vincent McMorrow
  9. Bang! – Sandy Rivera
  10. Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
  11. Unmissable – Gorgon City
  12. Doubt – Kele Okereke
  13. New Drop. New York – SBTRKT
  14. Magic – Coldplay
  15. Time – Jungle
  16. Hey Now (Bonobo Remix) – London Grammar
  17. Gimme Something Good – Ryan Adams
  18. First Fires – Bonobo
  19. Desire – Years and Years
  20. Hollow Ponds – Damon Albarn
  21. My Love – Route 94
  22. Crossing Borders – Booka Shade

So, its 22 rather than 20, I just couldn’t get it any lower this year, there has been so much new and different music available, I guess some of that is related to how easy it is to listen to new music and some of it relates to the impact of peoples tastes who you are around? So much of it reminds me now of the sunshine, some of it even comes from a prediction made as a comment on the 2013 version of this blog (Step up Alex T with the wise words on Gorgon City).

Yet again I feel I ‘could have done better’ with the book diary, there have been some gems in there though, both literary wonder and classic beach fodder! My top five books of the year are:

  1. The New Digital Age – Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen
  2. Turning 40 – Mike Gayle
  3. Us – David Nichols
  4. Humans – Matt Haig
  5. The Children Act – Ian McEwan

If I had to pick a top book though it would be Matt Haig’s, an absolutely brilliant ride of a book, half way social commentary, half way sci-fi half way comedy, surely its crying out for the film rights to be snapped up!

Also highly recommended for anyone who wants to try to understand what baseball is all about are two wonderful items; the first is a book simply called Baseball by George Vecsey, it puts the context, rules, excellence and addiction out there and allows you to begin to understand why Baseball is the sport it is, the second item is the film to Million Dollar Arm which is so entertaining and delivers a real insight into how Baseball is played in America, a great way to move on to films.

When it comes to films I still seem to be a wait for the Blue Ray kind of person it would seem, much to the irritation of my other half. So my top five films are all ones I have either seen on Blue Ray or on flights this year:

  1. Lone Survivor
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. The Conjuring
  4. Captain America – Winter Soldier
  5. X-Men – Days of Future Past

So my cinematic taste hasn’t grown up still. Last year I missed Gravity, Captain Phillips, Wolf of Wall Street and Dallas Buyers Club off the list all of which were amazing films but films mean something different to me than music, they seem to be so much more about the immediate gratification whereas I am so much more patient with music and its ability to get under your skin and grow with you. Both Lone Survivor and The Conjuring had me hiding behind my hands and yelling at the screen, for me what a film should do?!

In 2013 we travelled a great deal, when we look back on it now it was only a dint in the travel we did in 2014. For me two weekend breaks we took were something else, to be in Rome for my 40th birthday was extraordinary, wine tasting in a quite wonderful little back-water wine cellar with a small bunch of people was a special experience. The other weekend break was a late trip to Barcelona, a city I have always wanted to visit, and now would go back at the drop of a hat, we were very lucky, we went when it would be a little quieter so we could get around and yet the weather was mostly great. So much to see though, so many wonderful little places to eat and drink truly a great city to enjoy the ‘bar fly’ experience.

Our Easter trip to the states was quite a surprise too, both of us on a proper road trip taking in Boston, Princeton, Philadelphia, New York and Washington DC in ten days meant we got to experience so much of east coast USA. We were able to live out our West Wing fantasies at Foggy Bottom as well as see the quite extraordinary experience that is the NYC Easter bonnet parade, never have I seen so much effort go into the creation of a hat!

The most important trips though have to be the Ireland trips this year, arriving in August to be interviewed for what would become my dream job was quite a scary trip but one that re-affirmed that we both wanted it, house hunting Kirsty and Phil style was a couple of fun days too and got us to where we wanted to be for the next chapter in our lives.

The last list of ‘things’ for 2014 is the events, last year it was the gigs and theatre trips, this year it has to stretch to be the events a little more, I thought last year it was because I am getting too old for the gigs, and I still think this is probably the case, but also its becoming just as much fun to go to the speaking events and be part of these as it is to dance the night away at a gig:

  1. Moscow in March to speak at an international event on Business Intelligence was a great experience, particularly having never done the translated live thing before and seeing Red Square and the landmarks of Moscow up close and personal was quite the marvel.
  2. London in April at the House of Lords to celebrate the birthday of the Pharmacopoeia, meeting many of the Lords and Ladies, Professors and Doctors who make it possible to have a single point of reference for all clinical research, and to share that with a couple of colleagues was great fun.
  3. Barbarossa at the Cockpit as part of Live at Leeds 2014, one of the last acts on and someone we had seen before but to see him in such a small venue so close made you realise how unique his voice and music are and to share it with a friend who hadn’t been to that kind of thing before was great.
  4. Ocean Beach in Ibiza was to be a dream come true, a day out to enjoy the beats of Sandy Rivera, some sunshine and a Strawberry Daiquiri makes me smile from ear to ear even if the rain did change the atmosphere a little. I will always hear one song playing so perfectly as a memory of that great day!
  5. Tour De France in Yorkshire was probably an experience for a great many people this year. A big group of us camped at the official starting point, got to see royalty, and the Beckhams and lots and lots of bikes. To then ride some of that road a few hours after they had gone is something you can never take away.
  6. The Hill Valley Secret Cinema experience was a little fraught with technical hitches with our initial performance being cancelled, however when we did get there it was something that dreams are made of, being part of an iconic film set, able to be part of the film as you watch it and see Biff chase Marty around the town square really is a memory no one will forget anytime soon. Added to this was the ability to stand with a few thousand people and pay respects to the late great Robin Williams also made it that bit more special, ringing out the, to me, iconic words, ‘O captain! My captain!’ will hold a memory for me forever.
  7. Pharcyde live in Leeds, sometimes it’s the silly little things that shine through a year though. A gig with a bunch of friends, a spare room to stay in and a few beers to enjoy, made this gig stand out so very much, the fact that 20 years on the band are nearly as energetic still on stage and clearly there for the fun of it didn’t hurt either!
  8. The opportunity to be at the Roundhouse for the UK Healthcare IT award ceremony was great, we didn’t win but it was still a great few hours and again gave me the opportunity with a great many colleagues to pay respects to a great influencer on health care IT, Dr. Rick Jones from Leeds who passed away this year.
  9. A family trip to Cyprus to have the Moores gang together for a whole week and celebrate a big birthday of my father-in-law was an event rather than a trip, everything from mountain climbing to see the old monastery to cooking Pizza in the outside wood oven to an amazing fish super on the harbour made for a great visit, being able to dip in the pool and play Lego with my nieces made it all the more special.
  10. Bonobo at the Alexandra Palace is last on the list but what an amazing event, the venue, the band, the sound all came together to make it the best gig of the year!

So, that’s it, the end of 2014, and the leap into 2015! With several friends getting married in 2015, holidays in the calendar already, camping in Northumberland and the family traditions of Ibiza and Field Day to look forward to already I can’t wait to sit here and reflect on 2015 in twelve months’ time.

Thanks for reading….

Happy New Year!