When you are tired of London..

…you are just knackered

I am not #weeknoting anymore — honest. This is more akin to a holiday blogpost — minus the holiday.

I have been in London for 12 nights basically. The longest I have ever stayed in the city — in fact I think 4 nights was the previous record. As I sit here writing this I am pretty much totally wiped out but it has been a really successful and enjoyable couple of weeks and I just wanted to capture that.

I was in London for a new project at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. We are doing an Alpha there (which I have opinions on) and I have a kind of strange role where I needed to be on site for the first couple of weeks to make sure things got off on the right foot and then I essentially have an advisory/knowledge transfer role with the client and our team with a day or two a week on site. It is a great team we have landed there — the core of which had worked together before and a number had worked directly with me as well — I was determined to select a team that I would have wanted working for me if I was still on the other side of the table. The team had great chemistry from day zero — strong ways of working, inquisitive, passionate and empathetic with the client. It has really been a great way to spend a couple of weeks* and time really flew by — I got to implement a bunch of processes I had been toying with for a while as I knew this was a team who would react well and it has been lovely to be working so closely with a civil service team again.

*the one downside is that the office is a high security space which means we are ‘escorted’ all day, every day. This is sub-optimal. Even if our escort is a totally great guy. I really need to get myself security vetted!

There are a bunch of great people I know (or know of) at MHCLG building their new Digital Services — I just keep spotting people. I could try and name them all here but then I’d forget someone and feel bad! It is an exciting place to be at the moment doing this sort of thing for sure.

Thanks to the power of Twitter recommendations I stayed at the Qbic hotel in Whitechapel. I loved this place. I rarely stay in nice hotels for work. All those years as a public servant means I am more accustomed to Travelodge than Hotel du Vin but this was a really great, slightly quirky place with well designed rooms (power next to the bed, labels on the lights, proper high speed internet) with a nice bar/restaurant and lovely staff. It is across the road from Aldgate East tube so it was easy to get to Westminster — albeit a little crushed!

The location also meant there were great places for food nearby. I heartily recommend www.mypixxa.com (best pizza I’ve had away from NYC and the staff were all these cool, young Italians which felt a bit more authentic than usual!) and Bentobab (the Korean Fried Chicken was spectacular!)

Also it was close enough to all the East London graffiti spots that I got 100+ pics on Sunday without really having to wander too far!

Saturday was Govcamp. Loads of people have already written eloquently about it and the two sessions I attended (Jenny Vass and Lizzi Standing’s #weeknotes session and Dan Barrett’s working in the open session). The whole thing was amazing. I spoke to soooooo any people. Many of whom hadn’t been there for years. Many of whom I’d never met in person. My stickers seemed to be a hit. The Notbinary notebooks definitely were. I missed seeing Steph Gray and Dave Briggs there — and Jeremy Gould. I got choked up when Amanda spoke about David Pearson — a wonderful, eccentric, supportive guy who is a huge loss. He once came to Bristol on an evening just to take photos at an event I was doing with Lily Dart and Ann Kempster. So generous with his time.

Can’t think of a day where I have had so many great chats and then still felt like I missed seeing so many people.

I’m very proud Notbinary sponsored it. The community means a huge amount to me and I’m glad I’m in a position to give back to it now.

I’m also really pleased we supported Kevin Lewis and crew with their You Got This conference — I’d have loved to have attended both but the clash was a bit of a ‘mare. Next year.

What else was good? Got to go for dinner with Laura Dewis. Popped into ODIHQ and saw Leigh Dodds, Peter Wells, Jeni Tennison, Alex and others. Had beers/food with Sean Tubbs twice. Had a Service Design in Gov talk planning session with Jenny Vass (still need to do that starter deck — sorry!). Had a really good meeting at the Shard again about our plans for the bit of Notbinary I help run. Got a ticket to One Team Gov Global in Canada in May(!) so am going to get myself a ticket to the Code for America Summit next week and plan my Busman’s Holiday.

Other things happened.

Watched season two of the Punisher. The first half of it is very good but it loses its way. Watched first episode of the new Star Trek. Still undecided a season in. Started reading Lab Rats by Dan Lyons. Suspect I’ll be recommending it a lot. Didn’t go to the cinema as local one was 16 quid!!

I liked Whitechapel and the work so much I found myself researching the cost of renting a flat in East London.

Unheard of.

Thank you to everybody I have seen over these last two weeks. I am going for a lay down now.

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