My Week In Happy: Life gets in the way (in a good way)


IMG_1022Hello! I think this is the longest time I’ve left between blog entries  since I relaunched the in August.

However, this does not mean I’ve been short of things to be happy about.

First up, here’s a write-up I did of the show and tell tea party hosted by Manchester Girl Geeks on Sunday 25th January.

Some great talks on everything from code-breakers to music makers, plus Katie demos her new robot…

Thing two. Thank you to everyone who kindly commented on ‘Can smart cities be kind cities’ – I have many more thoughts on this and will certainly be revisiting this theme very soon.

Thing three. I’m working hard ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 10th February. More of that next week.

Once that done I’m pledging to myself that it will be business as usual for ‘My Week In Happy’. Onwards and upwards!

My Week In Happy: A White Christmas and 25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015


In her fab blog, my friend Lynsey White explains how she uses gratitude lists to help her stay positive – actively searching for three things each day that she feels thankful for.

So, taking a leaf out of Lynsey’s book, I’ve collected my thoughts and put together a list of things I’m grateful for that will sustain me into 2015 and beyond.

To get me in the mood for writing this list I’ve taken inspiration from the cosy cheer offered by Lynsey’s daughter Lucy Lou White in her very own vlog series.

And, with a nod to punk legend Ian Dury, I’m dubbing these my ‘reasons to be cheerful’.

25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015

  2. My loving family
  3. Fantastic friends – old and new
  4. Brilliant and talented colleagues
  5. Work I truly believe in
  6. My wonderful mentees
  7. Wearing beautiful, colourful clothes
  8. Birthdays / any other reasons to celebrate
  9. Cooking delicious and healthy food
  10. Trying out new places to eat
  11. Pokusevski’s deli – my second home
  12. Developing compassion for everyone
  13. A wonderful yoga holiday in Spain (hopefully another in 2015)
  14. Rocking circuits on a Sunday morning
  15. A strong immune system (touching wood)
  16. Great arts scene in Salford and Manchester
  17. Mindfulness exercises
  18. Northern soul dancing
  19. Relaxing and remembering to laugh
  20. 90s dance classics with Robin on Saturday
  21. Being a part of Manchester Girl Geeks
  22. Becoming a Google City Expert
  23. Lovely neighbours
  24. A beautiful, light and airy apartment
  25. Knowing my cat Cosmo lived a happy life

My Week In Happy: Life after love and good people making great things happen

Panorama of Salford Quays facing towards Lowry Arts Centre

Spot the panorama drama.

Life after love

When iconic songstress Cher asks the somewhat rhetorical question, “Do you believe in life after love?”, I sit back for a moment and think, “Yes, Cher. I do”.

It need not be love in the usual pop song romantic sense that I’m thinking of, more of the end of one chapter and the start of another. Yes, I am sad about my cat Cosmo’s passing, but that didn’t stop me getting down the gym first thing on Sunday morning and finding this beautiful tranquil scene that you can see above.

Good people making great things happen

On Friday night I popped down to The Umbrella Cafe in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. Because I was courageous enough to make my very first visit to the cafe by myself it gave me the chance to meet the fabulous trio of women to brought the idea to life Debbie, Michaela and Helen.

The venue has got off to a great start with Lizzie Allan’s Addictive Comedy night proving especially popular.

Manchester Girls Geeks are also doing brilliantly, if you’d like to find out more about us and learn how to create and edit Wikipedia pages we have this great event happening this Sunday (23rd November). You can sign up for the workshops here.

And finally, I don’t really talk about my day job on here that often, but today I attended an excellent conference organised by the Tinder Foundation (nothing to do with the dating app) on making sure no-one is left behind as services increasingly move to digital.

It was so heartwarming to hear about the many different approaches to getting people online and skilled up, but the cherry on the conference cake was when the winner of an iPad Air donated it to another delegate so that they could use it as part of their own digital inclusion project.

I enjoyed the Digital Evolution conference so much and met so many kind and good people that I thought it was time I put together a little gallery.

My Week In Happy: Friends, food and folding


As I (may have) mentioned in last week’s This Week In Happy my actual birthday fell this week i.e. since the last update.

It’s been a busy week, hence the delay in going to print with this edition.


It was my birthday! Here’s a nice picture of my birthday morning haul.

Presents! Thanks everyone :)

Presents! Thanks everyone 🙂

Once in the office, my a-may-zing colleagues Karen, Flavia and Kathryn had loaded my desk with more pressies and cards. My last two birthdays have been fairly low key and I really appreciated all the fuss – especially when I was presented with a huge chocolate birthday cake and a chorus of ‘happy birthday’ in the office kitchen.

And just to milk my birthday celebration a little more we (me, Karen, Flavia, Kathryn) headed into town to Italian ‘tapas’ place San Carlo Cicchetti – where I ate a lot of tomatoes and couldn’t finish my dessert!

I feel truly blessed to have such kind, clever and funny friends and colleagues.


In last week’s This Week In Happy: The many gifts of girl geeks I described the satisfaction I get from being part of this volunteer group that exists to offer women and girls a place to develop their interest in science and / or technology.

As part of Manchester Science Festival, Manchester Girl Geeks are taking part in a global effort to build the ‘MegaMenger‘ – a cube-based fractal using over a million business cards which “may be the largest fractal ever built”.

Inset names here

The ‘Menger Girls’ get folding – ably assisted by @Frimkron and @aPaulTaylor

Katie Steckles, the chair of Manchester Girl Geeks donned her ‘Think Maths‘ hat and hosted the pre-folding event with Sam Headleand at MOSI where the scale of the task in hand soon became apparent.

With 15 volunteer folders, fuelled by cake and caffeine, we just about completed 13 out of a hoped for 20 of the the ‘Level 1’ fractals we were aiming for.

Want to know how much folding is involved in building a Menger Sponge? Katie has made this ace tutorial explaining exactly how to fold your own Menger fractal.

We also started putting together some ideas a Menger folding playlist, which will grow in the build up to Manchester Science Festival. So far we’ve only come with Living In A Box by Living In A Box, and anything by Ben Folds Five.

Please do get in touch with any suggestions for additions to the playlist in the Comments section below.

My Week In Happy: The many gifts of girl geeks


I want to spend some time talking about one particular thing that makes me happy so the diary entries for this week will be briefer than usual.

When I started off writing this I was inspired by the small gifts my friend Angie (@angieokchan) often presents me with. As a graphic designer, Angie always finds a novel way to package anything from a homegrown chilli to some ticket money.

I first met Angie through my involvement with Manchester Girl Geeks – a group of volunteers that puts on and supports events that provide a friendly place for women and girls to find out more about science and technology.

Angie designs a lot of the Manchester Girl Geeks (MGG) branding and publicity materials and also came up with a fantastic illustrated instruction sheet for our soft electronics workshop.

Manchester Girl Geeks

As I looked back over my entries on the MGG blog and the numerous photographs that I’ve taken at our events it made me realise that I was not only grateful for Angie for her generosity but Manchester Girl Geeks in general.

We are all volunteers but put our heart and soul into creating an supporting events that will reach more and more women and girls.

This degree of dedication was demonstrated recently when our chair Katie (@stecks) hosted a Sunday afternoon ‘Show & Tell’ event minus the use of her vocal chords (due to a cold), even giving her own talk on binary nail varnish!

So I would like to celebrate the commitment and hard work of the wonderful women I’ve met through Manchester Girl Geeks:

Other stuff that happened this week

Thursday night saw the launch of Manchester Science Festival at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) where former Happy Mondays’ dancer Bez made a surprise appearance and I got to pick the brain of a (very charming) academic involved in an upcoming sexology project.

My dear friends Erinma and Caroline then whisked me off for a pre-birthday curry.

On Saturday I celebrated my birthday early at a new club night ‘NQ Working Men’s Club’ held at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter.

Top Northern Soul Dance School teacher Tobin Lochrie (@TobinLochrie) made it a super night out with dance classes, a raffle and 80s musical bingo. He even got the crowd singing happy birthday to me and gave me the honour of drawing the winning raffles tickets (I’ve never seen a woman move so fast to collect her prize of diet Spam!).

On Sunday I managed to make to TEDxSalford with my good friend Lord Toby Mildon (@tobymildon). It was great to see talks by:

  • Kate Russell (BBC Click presenter, on crowdfunding)
  • Jack Andraka (inventor of early detection kit for pancreatic cancer)
  • Jack Sim (founder of the World Toilet Organization)
  • Lucy Hawking (writes stories for children about astrophysics and astronomy) and
  • Professor Bruce Hood (cognitive scientist and father of the killer cardigan stunt)

Bonus gallery


My Week in Happy: A harvest of happiness


At the heart of this blog is the belief that we can take responsibility for our own happiness. This does not mean we can necessarily control how we feel, rather that the things we choose do and the people we choose to interact with have a powerful effect on how we feel about ourselves and others. As I ask in this earlier blog:

Why wait for someone else to set the scene when you can run the show yourself?

I’m going to keep details of this week’s activities brief as the theme I want to explore is how our own positivity can be reflected back to us by the actions of others.


Was thrilled that the Safer Internet Day project I worked on earlier this year was nominated for a BBC Production Award for collaboration across the corporation.


Jacqueline Jossa (EastEnders’ Lauren) did us a nice film about webcam hacking

We didn’t win in our category, that honour went very deservingly to D-Day at 70 coverage across TV, radio and online. BBC Production pulled out all the stops to make the nominees and winners of awards feel that their contributions and output felt really celebrated, with famous telly faces presenting each award.

I have to say that, for me, Nicholas Parsons stole the show with his sharp wit and midnight blue moccasins.


Last week I wrote about Lou Cordwell’s talk (Lou is founder of Manchester digital agency magneticNorth) at the @SheSaysMCR event.

I got chatting to her afterwards and was chuffed when she said she’d heard of I was even more chuffed when she invited me to the magneticNorth screening of Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets at The Deaf Institute.

I’ve always been a fan of Jarvis Cocker so I was delighted to watch this cute film about Pulp’s last gig in their home town of Sheffield.

I also ran into fellow BBC-er, executive product manager, Lucie McLean (@luciemclean) and had a great chat about projects we were working on and online safety for children.


I was delighted when an invitation to the launch party for Manchester Science Festival at MOSI was wafted under my nose.

I’m really excited about what’s lined up for this year – regarding Robin Ince’s gig last week as a bit of a pre-warm-up. This year there’s a bumper crop of events and activities across several sites covering everything from 3D printing to ‘Weather & Climate DIY’.

I was also lucky enough to get some cut-price tickets for me and my friend @angieokchan to see ‘Not I, Footfalls, and Rockaby’. This is a Samuel Beckett trilogy performed by very talent actor Lisa Dwan while the audience are plunged into complete darkness.

The result was an intense and powerful experience. In the first play, the audience can only make out a small glowing spot of light hovering several feet above the stage. Only by looking closely was able to see that this illuminated Dwan’s mouth as she ranted through a stream of consciousness that it seemed impossible that one person could sustain.


It’s great when Manchester Girl Geeks get together – literally anything can happen. Our ‘Show & Tell’ session at ThoughtWorks sparked a number of planned and impromptu talks on everything from mathematics to cosmetics. Girl Geeks chair Katie (@stecks) heroically hosted the event and gave a presentation minus her voice.

I’d also like to give a special mention to Gemma Hill (@Gem_Hill) who gave an extremely enthusiastic and energetic talk about her new project to create an open source ‘choose your own adventure’ game. I’m really interested to see how it develops.