One way to judge a year is to look back at all the photos one has taken during that year. Our 2014 album is full of wonderful locations and stories, which is surprising as it has been one of the busiest years ever.

The year kicked off with me saying farewell to CMA/S&P Capital IQ and the CDS markets. After 7 years I had achieved all I could and needed a new challenge. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go far, as in the same building and also part of McGraw Hill Financials was Platts.

With the new role came a lot of new challenges as well as some travel, and my first business trips to Singapore, Houston and Atlanta. The first trip was for two weeks in Singapore, where my new colleagues filled my brain with commodities and oil knowledge and filled my stomach with good local food. 😉

Next up was a week in Houston to meet the team and to see how they worked in relation to Singapore and London. Our team interacts with a lot of people at Platts and I had to get to know how they worked. Of course, there was a lot of eating as well. I could see a lot of similarities between Singapore and the Houston office. 🙂

I had one day to myself in Houston and so visited the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC).  Texas is known for big things, and the Saturn V AS-512 was an incredible sight.  The rocket was huge and basic looking. It was housed in a massive hangar. Some clever minds put this bad boy together and got the man into space. My photo below does not do the rocket justice.


The Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 118,000 kilograms (260,000 lb).


At Easter, we visited Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It was an amazing short break. The island is dominated by the still active El Teide volcano, which has created a rugged and mountainous landscape, with black sandy beaches. We stayed in the South of the island at the Sandos resort called ‘San Blas’. Despite the weather being mild and mostly overcast we still managed to return to England with a tan.


In May we traded in our 7-year-old Skoda for a brand new Nissan Qashqai 1.5DCi Tekna. Click the link and read all about it.

In June we watched Nascar racing at Brands Hatch race track in Kent. The weather was perfect. There were hundreds of cars on display and the racing was excellent.

Summer in July was truly here so we decided to go camping. We picked Bedgeberry forest for our first camping trip and had to book a few weeks in advance, which meant we had no control over the weather and typically the afternoon that we arrived was drizzling.

Camping M&J2

Fortunately, it cleared up during the night and the rest of the weekend was lovely and hot. We also went Go Ape, which is located high up in the trees and visited the 320-acre Pinetum, which contains over 12,000 trees and shrubs (including 1,800 different species) from across five continents, many of them rare and endangered.


July was also F1 at Silverstone. Jo was there to capture the moments and was treated to a wonderful display by the Red Arrows and got to see the F1 parade and some close racing by Alonso and Vettel.

July was turning out to be a busy month. My birthday present was a visit to the Shard to admire the amazing views from the highest building in England.

The Shard 3

In September we sailed the Thames on a Dutch tall ship as part of the Royal Greenwich Tall Ship festival. We boarded at Woolwich Arsenal and sailed all the way up to Tower Bridge before turning back and pausing at Greenwich to watch a firework display before heading back to Woolwich Arsenal.

It was a lovely summers evening with a full moon. If you were in London that night you must have seen the car being carried by helicopter. Apparently, it was for some new jaguar advert.

The highlight of our year though was our ten-day road trip through France, Belgium, Germany and Austria.  The main goal was to go and watch the Red Bull Air Race in Spielberg Austria for the two-day event and then to visit Salzburg, the home of Mozart.  It took us 2 days to drive +- 950 miles. We stopped over in Wiesbaden in Germany for one night with a friend of ours and stayed in a hotel in Obdach, Austria the following night.

We got to Spielberg on a Saturday morning and checked into our campsite, which was perfectly located in a large field right next to the Red Bull Ring track. Yes, we camped as there were no hotels available for this weekend.  We pitched our tent amongst the hundreds of camper vans.

It was late October and probably not the best time to camp especially since the campsite and tracks were right in the mountains. In fact, there was snow in the mountains. It was freezing cold once the sun went down. The first night was the worst because we didn’t know what to expect. We also were not allowed an open fire, which meant we couldn’t warm up beside it. I found getting drunk solved the problem, just a few beers, a cigar and a couple of small bottles of Jagermeister did the trick (jokes it didn’t help).

red bull - freezing cold cigar and beer

The racing was incredible. We had wonderful grandstand seats with a view of the entire track. This was the last race of the year. There were three contenders going into this race and any one of them could take the title. The favourite was the Austrian (go figure) and the second favourite was a British pilot called Nigel Lamb. He was our pick because he was older and er’ British :-). He didn’t disappoint, but check out the photos below. Who do you think won?

No, not the Austrian with his aeroplane surrounded by photographers, instead the yellow Breitling belonging to Nigel Lamb. Neither pilot was at their best on the day and came in 2nd and 4th, but it was enough to give Nigel the championship, which was excellent and made the long drive and freezing cold nights worth it.

So that was our year. There was more, but it would take ages to write about it. We need to upload some more photos into our gallery.

Soon 2015 will begin and we will start all over again.
Here are some upcoming events for the Bowen family.

  • Trips to the US and Singapore.
  • Holiday to South Africa to see the other Bowen and Wilkinson’s World.
  • Driving experience at Thruxton.
  • Holiday in Cannes, France.
  • Camping in the summer time.

Happy New Year!



Mike is an Android man, researcher of all things good and bad, likes all wheeled sports, loves gadgets, enjoys all music, into home automation, likes Samsung, voted Brexit, enjoys talk radio, has a Brompton electric bike, drives a Tesla Model 3, is a hard worker, a passionate self-educator, crazy about drones, a gambler, blogger for over 20 years, enjoys gardening, Microsoft over Apple, an investor in stocks and cryptocurrency, a homeowner, a futurist, married for life, has family all over the world, a cat man do, loves beer, travel & life.

1 Response

  1. Looks like you are living la dolce vita! Great stuff. May 2015 bring you even more adventures and experiences. We look forward to seeing you both.

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