2017 was...

Our first month in our new Home, Bagend, Dunham Massey Winter Walk, building a server rack in a wardrobe, miniature railways, the Year of Intelligence at The Blue Room, Manchester Futurists, Lake District holiday featuring teething, ballpools, playpens, The Lodore Falls recce (for a 2018 wedding) and Penrith castle, Robyn's first curry, artificial grass on the balcony, a muddy farm, neon kids disco, Sheffield BBQ, car breakdowns, Daddy Daughter MOSI trip, compering a 360 video panel with guests from The Economist, Guardian and RT...

From left: Colin Warhurst, Hugo Ward, Francesca Panetta, Ed Chizhikov

...creating Robyn's animal themed bedroom, a Conway Wedding, Robyn's first birthday featuring first Toys R Us trip, first Scooter, Chester Zoo with Meerkats, Giraffes, Lions, Elephants and a Tigers, and moving into the big cot in her own room, Blue Room Away Day (Part One of Two... Still waiting for Part Two!), Springer's Garden Party, a new fridge, meeting the neighbour's dog, sandpits and fountains at Stanley Park, Treknology Presentation at work, new living room cabinet, Devon Holiday 1 of 2 featuring, Full English, Banana Ice Creams, Dinosaurs, Mos Eisley Cantina Jazz Music, Rory the Tiger, invading the bandstand, Robyn's first shoes, twinning, Bicton Park, realising Jungle Fun is no more, feeding Deer at Country Life Museum, Exeter Burritos, Sandy the Dog, surprise babysitters for Week 2 (arranged by me) so that Hazel & I could spend our anniversary on the River Exe Cafe, French Steak on the English Riveria in Torquay, returning from all of that to the first ever Blue Room Conference in London, Sci-Fi exhibition at the Barbican, the Garden Renovation begins in July, Tatton Park Flower Show, BBC UHD Trial goes live, the most epic wedding album in the world is finally finished and delivered, Sea Life Centre annual membership (we have been only once!), Robyn begins guitar lessons, Scottage Pye, a Sri-Mancan Wedding, Edinburgh Television Festival with Blue Room Live, including POD Guitar Effects, and sitting in to watch the Marvel Studios TV panel, Daddy Daughter Farm Trip, representing the BBC Blue Room at IFA 2017 in Berlin with Agent Hand featuring all the tech plus Ironing Boards, Murphy's Bar, Monbijou Park, Ampellman Bar, Beer Tastings, rainy photography at the Berlin wall and then re-capping all of the IFA Technology Insights on behalf of the BBC's Technology Podcast 2LO (on iTunes and everything) and also writing our now internationally famous BBC Blue Room Technology Insight Report for IFA 2017, mid-England tour in Evesham and Worcester complete with Rainbows, pianos in the street, so many Cathedrals, ending up in a DPP report about Live Streaming as an 'expert' on the subject (!), then Devon Part Two with a different set of parents, which meant reuniting with Sandy the Dog, the Deers at the Country Life and extra treats such as photos on the beach at sundown, finally having my first major eBay sale and ridding the house of some junk, a trip to Blackpool Zoo and the horrendously busy streets for the later illuminations, the final completion of the Garden in October, Robyn's first Transformer (she picked Optimus Prime as a Dinosaur - so proud!), red skies over Salford, VR cubing in Swansea with the Blue Room (whose castles are not apparently as good as Edinburgh's), Heaton Park Autumn ramblings, BBC North lost the Man who Could, and I lost a friend, Daddy's Don Marco birthday treat, Daddy's GrubMCR birthday treat, and Daddy's House party Birthday treat, being substituted into a BBC D&E think-tank dedicated to all things Story-Telling, saying farewell to my Scooter, meeting Iggle Piggle, Daisy, Postman Pat, and Peppa Pig at the Children's Global Media Summit for another Blue Room gig, meeting Tim Peake at the Blue Room  and having a decent chat about VR training, the Santa Claus Train, BBC Blue Planet II goes live in UHD-HDR HLG, Chester Zoo lantern walk, The Last Jedi, a new (small, uncomplicated) point and shoot camcorder purely for family-memory purposes and not "film-making", and I think I may have finally learned just how to solve a complete Rubik's cube.

All of that, and I notice there is no film-making here whatsoever. And I don't mind. This was the year that I realised half of the reason I am not actively pursuing films at the moment is because the day job at the BBC Blue Room actively ticks so many of the boxes that film-making does. I was happiest making films whenever I was solving technical challenges. New cameras, new locations, new setups, new software. The day job is all about new technology, and so it is no wonder that I fulfilled in some parts by what I do 9-5, or just exhausted creatively by the time I get home.

My best 2017 self.
The other half of the reason is of course because Hazel and I are in "build-phase" - we are raising our child and fixing up our new home. Those are creative and exhaustive pursuits, all with their own rewards. The list of this year's adventures pretty much reflects that by being composed of days outs, DIY and meetings with all kinds of creatures great and small.

Will 2018 hold a return to film form? Well, the quickest way to kill an idea is to talk about it, and I never use this annual review to try and predict the future. But writing now, I'd like to have something under my belt by this time next year - and I can't keep hiding behind the edit of my own wedding video and Honeymoon adventure (still a work in progress!) But yes, I need to do something in 2018.

2017 was about getting things done - with a lot of help
The above is a list of all the good things, mostly, and I don't ever want to start listing all the not so good things at the end of each year. But it has to be said this year was trying in oh so many ways. Getting older starts to mean losing people. I have lost friends metaphorically to time and distance, I have let others go for my own sanity and safety, and I have lost some in the very real sense. Friends and loved ones of mine have also lost people this year. It makes you feel powerless, as you cannot do anything to help, only offer your support honestly and a tall times, if the offer wants to be taken up. The realities of growing up and growing older hit hard this year. Real hard.

I'm not going to say much else other than that we need to look out for each other's mental health as well as physical. Even today, at the last minute of 2017, I'm feeling the recent scrapes and scars from an exhausting list of demands, emergencies on top of the normal day to day duties of being Dad, Husband and some sort of Creative Teccy person, and the extra pressures I cannot seemingly help but add to my own mental to do list. I need to CHILL. We all go through a lot behind close doors - lets look out for each other.

Last year I was using the analogy of the USS Ziggatron finally breaking orbit, the idea of my family/crew escaping the shackles of everything and everyone holding us back. We were finally out there, reaping the benefits of all of our hard work and sacrifice - this year was the reality of actually breaking orbit and going it alone. Keeping the metaphor alive, this is the year where we realised that at times when the ship has left orbit, parts break down, you can be a long way from help, and you have to make sure you rely on each other rather than turning inwards. It has been a year of improvisation, shifting priorities, masterplans thrown out in minutes for back of a napkin short term shortcuts, all set against a backdrop of real world horrendous news and politics. Fortunately, our larger support network of Family (a support 'fleet'? I am pushing the metaphor now...) really had our backs this year. Our larger Family is amazing.

Like many, it would be easy to look back negatively on 2017 and to simply pat ourselves on the back and to say we Survived. But that is way, way too downbeat an attitude to take forward about 2017 - and so I am choosing to look back on it as a year of Family, getting Shit done (almost too much on the to-do pile, but there it is), and as a year of Firsts.

Many of Robyn's First's came this year - steps, sentences, experiences. She has made this year magical, and we are seeing the year out with a fully developed bag of curiosity, mischief, laughter, intelligence, joy and magic that is our daughter, Robyn-Hope.

So have that 2017. Family. Getting Shit Done. Firsts. Have that in Spades.

Roll on 2018 - the Year of the Slingshot Manoeuvre.

Distraction Free Writing. More please.