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Sunday, 7 November 2010


I know you think I've sold out, but that isn't true. I suspect I am learning, finally, to stay stumm occasionally! However, this last week deserves a blog post

This blog post can be read at

Sunday: 600 miles to drive in 2 days.....Having negotiated a mainly closed motorway network on Sunday (and no, you can't send the kids back to school/college over Skype - I have tried), I finished my cross-national double zig, (Cumbria-Leeds-W Mids-Wales/Shrops) with a big zag to Lincs.

My first big surprise was a sign saying "Rutland". So, Dave et al, *that's* where you are!! I've now moved my personal Watford Gap so that Lincs and Peterborough are on the same side of it. Rutland Telecom - be warned. Arrive at South Witham Broadband late at night. Which other ISP will put you up when you are stranded on their doorstep?! I suspect most would have told me to sleep in the car....

Monday am: Met with Tref from Timico. For lunch. We ate pigeon.

Monday pm: Drove into the deepest flattest wilds of Lincs. Much of the rest cannot yet be told, but suffice to say, I learnt more about fibre laying by a community than you may want to hear. Sadly, however, you will shortly be able to read about it #3 in the JFDI Community Broadband series. (Like the others - NOT available from Amazon, buy it from Lulu).

Was gutted to find the bubble car museum highlighted on my endurance rally map had moved. But, not to be deterred, I tracked down the owner, and now have a new pin in the map. (If you don't know, my kids' book character has a bubble car and I have an unhealthy fascination for them - James Caan now knows! And I am 1/4 Manx so what better fit for the Peel car?).

Monday night: Turns out this is a very small world. Invite a local rally driver I met on the Lombard for a pint and find he knows the fibre folk I am with from waaaaay back when - when fibre was made by Tuaregs and only in blue. (Oh, was that Paris-Dakar fibre, not the Lombard?).

Get told a cracking story about a consultancy employed to advise on dark fibre. "We've just realised we don't know what it looks like".....

Tuesday: Meeting with fibre training company about the conference in June and the new book. (I lie because really what I wanted to see was the fibre training courses and the blowing demo. Sneakily sign up for a course and now have to be in't Midlands for 8 weeks masquerading as someone who works for an overcome telco who has suddenly realised they laid off all the wrong people not that long ago).

Surprise meeting in a driveway: Long conversation, out of the blue (bloody Tuaregs and sand getting in the way again!), about disaster relief and fibre. In the middle of nowhere. Brain goes into overdrive......Watch this space.

Afternoon: Get informed that sometimes my blog posts don't make sense. Have re-read the above and think they were lying.

Tuesday night: get home and within less than 5 mins out of car get calls from Canada and USA. About fibre. Am beginning to think I should try to carve a career out of this....

Wednesday: Discover am ill

Thursday: Day off, prone and exhausted. Or as you lot think, another day not answering phone when you ring.

Friday: Watch Big Society meeting online. Finally devour enough painkillers to be able to be present - John Popham's video footage was right. This was one event that was too good to miss. Kidnap two of the attendees and force them to stay at my house. And wait for news that @cyberdoyle has won the £10k video prize from digitalrevolutions. When we finally learn she lost to a PROFESSIONAL photographer in the amateur category, Sheffield becomes a no go zone. Possibly for ever. 10km of fibre needed now to connect her community vs a flash camera for a man who earns his living looking through a lens. Not impressed.

Saturday: Rory's broadband day. You want links? #gab10 on Twitter. The rest you must find alone.....Hover between groundhog day (about 8 years ago) and a feeling of elation. I think BDUK can make the right scenario occur IF Cumbria County Council don't relive Project Access (my biggest fear). Ups and downs. Pick Cyberdoyle up from the station, and spend the rest of the day watching her hand out fibre to strangers. "It's a sharp" LOL. CD on form and wasted in the audience. She should have been on stage. Ditto Barry Forde, whose Powerpoint I will hopefully put up here in the next day or two.

Prior to event, we move into pub with our pet BBC sound recordist - Radio Lentil interviewer extraordinaire, Mark Holdstock - and make our own version of the Archers. Obviously, called The Reivers. Collar landlord, landlady, passing strangers (who become friends (@talkaboutlocal) to read lines, and then Rory Stewart MP walks in the pub and agrees to feature in it! Radio Lentil hits a new high - the edit should be available in the next few days. Scripts for future episodes are welcome.

Had a momentary burst of pride when Gt Asby was cited as a model community broadband network in the event - I know the history! Fast, Faster, EdenFaster - today, six years ago, was when we got the funding. (Another day I was at a broadband conference instead of remembering the kids' birthday but some of you may remember filling a Pringles tin antenna in Hawes to make up for it!)

OK, we weren't right with all we did way back then with Edenfaster, but we put two networks in place that still exist and are now breaking the ground for everyone else, and not just in Eden, Cumbria. Indirectly, we set off more than just a few others. Pat ought to get some glory and recognition; I was very pleased to hear some tales of GAB installs that were about his hard work, but in the wider world, the ground we/he broke then is often unknown.

Sunday: going to get an engine for my very poorly car. Stay on the road a while longer - no buses, trains to speak of that would have made last week even vaguely possible. See my parents. Post the kids' presents. Enjoy autumn. Ignore broadband for a whole day.

The last paragraph probably won't come true, but the rest happened, and far more!


Cyberdoyle said...

I hope Sunday happened. Or I hope you slept. I don't know how you do it all and I really hope you feel better soon. None of this would have happened without you. You are the single reason all of us are reiving now. Been trying to ring you all day but no answer. I really hope you have had a good day... either a new engine or a sleep.
tek care. I know there is a better chance of you getting this message if I put it on as a comment rather than on chat or an E. And don't worry about me getting my fibre, I will get it another way. Where there's a will there is always a way.

Louise Kidney tweeting as @loulouk said...

You are now in my 'amazing women I must somehow try and emulate in some way at some point in my life' list which grows ever longer by the day thanks to events like Saturday. That you've inspired so many other people is no surprise at all, you're another force of nature, relentless and fantastic.

Get well soon hon. No one will benefit from a felled over knackered lady.