Between personal and professional

exploring work life balance



Nova Huta – Urban dream or realist reality?

20140726_155818Seldom do I go anywhere without noticing comparisons or otherwise to where I live or places I know. I’ve always had this fascination about how places come to be and how they change or adapt. I suppose it comes from my liking of geography at school which lead me to study land use.

This year’s summer hols were no different. We went to Zakopane in south Poland and spent some time in and around Kraków. I tend to share photos of my travels when I’m out and about, hoping others might find what I share interesting or useful in some way; my way of attempting to make the world a smaller place perhaps.

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A river runs through it


That’s the title of a 1992 film based on a 1976 book by Norman Maclean about family life in early 20th century Montana. The book and film are presented from the view of older brother Norman who goes on one last fly fishing trip with his troubled younger brother Paul; the river being the focus to engage in an attempt to help him get his life on track.  Continue reading “A river runs through it”

Hoping for a conversation, but never mind

cropped-20140516_0805132.jpgEarlier this year I attended Urbanized; the second film in the #cityseriesleeds set of films. The aim, other than showing films in a great little cinema in Hyde Park, Leeds, is to encourage discussion and debate under the #cityseriesleeds tag and on various forums about how Leeds is and how it could be.

Both films so far have touched on the design and development of cities across the world. The discussion following Urbanized focussed on community engagement processes of various design projects shown in the film.

Someone suggested trying to get everyone’s views in any consultation just won’t help and that some consultation is just seen as ticking the box. A point also made, as shown in the film, was that smaller and different ways of getting people’s views might give planners, architects, designers and those elected and responsible for setting direction a gut feel so they can lead the project forward but based on their experience and mandate.

A few folk talked about how they thought timely communication at different stages of any engagement is crucial. Someone suggested that consultations/discussions are usually hijacked by the ‘usual suspects’ who shout loudest and are likely to put others and the little voices off contributing.

Time always catches up with things just when they are getting interesting but those present were asked to continue the discussion online. This post is part of that discussion.

Continue reading “Hoping for a conversation, but never mind”

Not quite anywhere, but somewhere liveable for #cityseriesleeds

St Matthews

I recently saw the letter sent to people living on the route of the upcoming Tour de France informing what will happen on July 5 and in the run up. A fair few cyclists will make their way from central Leeds, up Scott Hall Road (welcome to Yorkshire!), along Harrogate Road, to the north of Moortown Corner, across the outer Ring Road and on to Harewood.

The letter mentioned the cyclists would visit Chapel Allerton and Moortown. So I checked the route and if anyone sat outside Sunshine Bakery or The Queen’s Arms in Chapel A sees Chris Froome ride by on July 5, then summat will most definitely be up with t’tour. It doesn’t go through what I would call Chapel Allerton. Maybe others would agree.

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Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be….


The title of this post is taken from a TV series that ran for nearly 20 years. Called Stars In Their Eyes, it involved members of the public, sometimes celebrities, impersonating famous people from the music industry. At the beginning of each impersonation you got to see the person going about their own life and giving clues about who they were going to be. Just before their transformation into the pop star, they would introduce themselves by saying the words, “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be [insert pop star’s name].”

I’ve no desires to be a pop star or impersonate others but this week has been helpful in better understanding the need to define the difference between me as Phil from Moortown and as Phil from the council.

Continue reading “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be….”

Seeing things differently

2013-08-28 16.32.37

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to travel to Australia. Something happened there that really made me think about how I sometimes view things.

It was late in the afternoon and the sun was just starting to sink. We’d been doing the sights in Sydney and decided to have a drink in one of the quayside bars. The tables had sun shades and we chose a table; part inside and part out as it was cooling down. I’d picked a seat partly in shade but which would be in the sun shortly.

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