Shooting for the moon

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech to a joint session of Congress that set the United States, and the World on a course to the moon: it was daring, ambitious, geez Louise – many thought it was downright crazy – but there it was, in black and white:

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.
John F. Kennedy

2978 days later, on the 20 July 1969 Neil A. Armstrong became the first human to step foot on another world: our world came to a stop, staring upwards collectively, our worldview permanently changed. 

Today we tend to look back and see both these events in the context of the past, seen through the success of the final achievement. But when JFK made that speech we’d barely mastered orbiting the earth – the longest American space flight up to that date was 15 minutes, the jet engine was only 20 years old – hell, a time before powered flight was even possible, was still in living memory: to say we’d step foot on another, ostensibly unknown, world wasn’t just ambitious, it was something else, something this very event gave us a word for.

This was a moonshot.

Now defined in your dictionaries as “an extremely ambitious and innovative project.” I believe Moonshots are critical to every person and business, it’s healthy to set huge goals: because it’s the huge and ambitious goals that challenge you to innovate, it’s all too easy to bumble through project after project making progress on individual jobs that pay bills but ultimately don’t add value to your overall offering. 

It’s here that having moonshot goals allows you to put skill learning, the jobs and people you work with, and your planning processes in focus: moonshots help shake out the pointless, the energy sapping, and the avenues which on quick inspection may look promising, but with the clarity of that broad picture quickly become obvious dead ends.

Moonshot goals help you define what is important, they allow you context to create genuine granular plans faster and more efficiently than you would otherwise have, because you have that end goal to place your immediate plans within – and that’s frequently where I know my short term planning can fail. There’s often so much going on I don’t know where to start; but with a larger goal to work toward you can create streams of activity which give immediate definition and purpose to everything you do, making your work focussed, efficient and engaged.

Not all took JFK seriously, many mocked his ambition, and it’s almost certain that if you set yourself moonshot goals that you’ll find people that either don’t understand their value, or through lack of vision simply mock you. The former will eventually see your progress and will often enjoy your enthusiasm and journey, the latter you can’t help – and painful as that can sometimes be – you’ll often find that if they’re willing to mock your big dreams, they’re also just as happy to impart negative energy and cynicism to your daily life as well; and seriously who needs those people in their lives? Not me.

It’s no great secret that I’ve always been ambitious, and thanks to parents and a partner that allowed me the space to dream and explore the things I wanted to do I’ve been privileged to have led a life guided by the mindset that if I put my shoulder to the door I will be able to open it.

As a result I’ve done some pretty cool stuff over the years: from broadcast presentation to running a political war room, and from organizing festivals to setting up design agencies, fashion labels and much more, it’s been a blast! But the track of my ambition was rudely derailed by the political situation here in the UK – The B word, for it shall not be mentioned here, made me reassess my goals and painfully made me realize that many of the things I’d planned for long term might not be possible here anymore.

So the last few months I’ve been back to the drawing board: and approaching 40 next year, I now have myself a new set of goals for the decade to come: emigrating half way across the world, striking out with a new business that carries my name, building a home for my family, and studio and workshop that will finally allow me to fully explore all of the avenues that my creativity wants to – and crucially to finally take all the projects that I have the skills and the time to do, but have always left simmering on the back of the hob: from radio stations to podcasts, blogs, a collection of my photography, and more: I have my big goals set for the next 15 years: they’re crazy goals, but I know I have the skills, talent, enthusiasm and support to make these happen.

They are my moonshot. Find yours.

Photo Credit: NASA Archive Public Domain
Photo Location: Sea of Tranquility, The Moon
0.655878 23.471664

To find hope, clear out the toxicity

I began this version of my website as a blank canvas with a post about hope and the future, and a few months later I’ve still felt no need to trawl my huge archive of materials going back to before the Millennium for a few reasons, the first being that they’re in the past – and that past – although instrumental in shaping where I am today is just that, the past: if I want to write about the past, I will – but I’ll do so with context, and second because I’ve been pruning: not my archive – but my digital life.

I’ve never shied away from trying out different social platforms, from mainstream to the thoroughly obscure I’ve tried a lot of them: some haven’t held my attention, others shuttered themselves, some evolved into services that didn’t interest me and others became a daily part of my life: facebook, twitter, tumblr, flickr, instagram, vsco, soundcloud, mixcloud – they’re all services that I dip in and out of during the week for differing reasons – but what are they really giving me back?

For some it’s a creative outlet, others it’s contact with friends, but by sitting down and actually assessing them I started to realize that far from them all offering something positive, many were injecting negativity into my day, and although I recognized this on some level, it wasn’t until I really gave it some proper thought that it became clear how some were downright toxic.

Identifying the toxic

Now toxicity comes in many formats: and I think it’s important that people realize this: twitter is probably the best example – sure it has some very negative people on it, it has polarized extremists, topic obsessives and people who you can’t always even be sure if they are real people, but it’s not simply the users – twitter is an attention thief.

The app assaults you with notifications throughout the day, forcing the news cycle, political agendas, petty fights and people with opinions you simply shouldn’t care about into you life, and it does so in such a way that you can’t easily fight it, it is monopolizing your hands as you pick up your phone and it is flooding your brain with reward chemicals for interacting with it.

Twitter attempts to package this in it’s marketing as interacting with a ‘global conversation’; but you don’t have conversations in real life like you do on twitter: if you’re having a conversation with someone you’ve chosen to interact with and suddenly 40 other people are jeering and interjecting, that’s not a conversation – that’s a prelude to a bar fight: and unsurprisingly that’s often how even benign conversations on social media end up playing out and you end up doing nothing but defending your rights to hold an opinion in your own social space: that is the very definition of a toxic environment.

So I made some changes

I knew I couldn’t continue living my digital life in such a negative place: the seemingly endless onslaught of notifications and any topic of interest rapidly spiraling toward a shouting match had to stop. So I started from scratch on twitter: this time with no notifications, screening carefully who I follow, and who I allow to follow me as well as maintaining a healthy block list of people and topics that I consider to be negative, and that’s not been easy – the urge to just shout into the void about the world is a strong one, but I know it’s not a healthy one.

Surprisingly also, honing the healthy topic list that I follow and tweet about has been much harder than you’d have thought: beyond politics there are many other areas – gaming and certain sports in particular – that have been all but taken over by an angry breed of obsessives who seem to have nothing else to do but tweet almost psychotically at anyone that disagrees with their world view 18 hours a day. Even for topics that you wouldn’t think could possibly illicit such craziness (such as Disney park fans) there have been a selection of toxic people that I’ve had to weed out and remove from my orbit who simply couldn’t maintain levels of positivity, decency and politeness.

Once I’d started with Twitter, undoubtedly, the worst offender – I found it very easy to become attuned to finding the positive, and it didn’t take long to find myself reaching for the deactivate and delete buttons as I shut down services that weren’t bringing me any level of positive interaction, and even I was surprised myself, to find flickr making that axe. Others while spared the axe have been excessively pruned: instagram in particular took the most aggressive edge of my social media purging, with thousands of accounts unfollowed, aggregators and the previously interesting people who had succumbed to the lure of branding themselves as ‘influencers’ who seem to now to simply recycle the same content endlessly were also sent packing.

And you know what? It’s really made a difference. I now find with notifications turned off that when I’m logging into my new twitter, or my instagram I’m finding a list of notifications that actually mean something to me, they’re comments and long form messages from friends known and new, they’re positive interactions, shared exciting content, useful critiques, and mentorship from people that have something they want to give back.

If you’re anything like me – you’re probably looking at your list of socials and thinking that it’s a mammoth task to prune: and you’re right – no way to sugar coat this – it was: it took me over a month, and I’m still at it, but let me tell you it’s made such a huge difference to the way I look at my digital life – and that newfound positivity has overflowed into my daily life, I’m happier, more optimistic and generally feel less overwhelmed by a world I’d never fully consented to, encroaching on every minute of my private life; so go try it today because this is a change that has to start with you.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2018  
Photo Location: St.Martins Lane, London, WC2
51°30’41.9″N 0°07’37.6″W

Fall begins

The first beginnings of fall have started to make themselves known; we’ve already had some chilly nights, some beautiful moon and star-scapes even over the city and the rustle of the first leaves starting to fall and die on the sidewalks turning the concrete orange and brown; but it’s been the pretty spectacular sunsets over the last few days that have really made this first week of September particularly magical.

These are all shot on Nikon with Sigma glass.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.
51°29’57.0″N 0°06’02.3″W

The right tool for the job

Believe me when I say, having the right tool for a job can make the difference between getting the job right and making an utter mess of it which you immediately regret: not just financially but in time and materials wasted – because there is almost nothing as frustrating as realizing you could have done a job better or finished it five times quicker because you were using the wrong tool.

Now tools come in all shapes and sizes as a maker; many are specific to particular specialisms, others are tools you find yourself reaching out for again and again just because they’re so damn useful – my advice with tools has always been if you know you need one –  buy the best you can afford, and very few shop brands come as close in build quality or consistency of finish as Makita.

I love Makita tools. They’re solid, feel good in the hand and resist wear like no other brand, and I’ve been using these since my earliest days in commercial radio when I was just as likely to be found in a crawlspace, or a racks room, as I was learning my craft in the studio itself.

These local stations were hands on – everyone worked to keep the station on air – and it was in those rack rooms and in studio crawl spaces I learnt (often the hard way) that you should always pick the tool that’s going to get the job done right, first time, and the byword for that level of efficacy was Makita.

That’s where I come to this: my latest buy to help in the total rebuild of my current workspace – the Makita 39 piece screwdriver bit set, which I have to say is classically Makita: everything from the bits to the sculpted hex ratchet are made in metal, the bits are color coded for easy loading showing you at a glance if you’re picking up a Torx, Philips, Pozi, Square, Slotted or Hex bit and the case is fully indexed: meaning every component has it’s own defined tight fitting slot to ensure you’re never faced with a jumble of components when you open it.

And the case – well this is where I love Makita even more, because I’m a sucker for a well made container, and this one is no exception, you could pitch this like a baseball and it’d bounce intact, solid injection molded plastics with rubber bump stops and a strong clasp means this small box of tricks is going to look and work as nicely in ten years time as it does today – and when you’re buying tools, isn’t that exactly what you want?

The importance of inspiration

I don’t take many days off – I don’t mean like sick days, or weekends though, I mean days out of my studio where I clear my head of what’s going on in the shop and instead broaden my creative horizons: I know I’m bad at this, I know it’s something I should do more of, and yes – I know that not only do I have the time to do this, but I must actually do this thing for my own personal well-being.

Simply put, you can’t create in isolation – it’s not healthy for your soul, it’s not healthy for your work and it’s not healthy for your skillsets: because while you’re stuck in your own bubble you’re ignorant of new trends, methods and ways of working.

So today, inspired somewhat by having recently read and then obsessively re-read and re-listened to Adam Savage’s amazing new book Every Tool’s A Hammer, I decided to engage with other creatives, and hopefully learn or be inspired by the work of the masterful Stanley Kubrick.

Now I have been a Kubrick fan for as long as I can remember – he’s up there in my top three with Guillermo del Toro and Quentin Tarantino of directors who capture light and life with a level of obsessiveness that appeals to my own creative passions – so I consider it a huge honor to be able to lift the veil on the processes of his work, and I knew that I just had to spend the afternoon absorbed in the Kubrick Exhibition at the Design Museum in Kensington.

Boy oh boy, if you’re a Kubrick fan, or a fan of film generally, this is an exhibition you shouldn’t miss, I spent all afternoon gushing over meticulously constructed props, endless reams of hand-written production notes, insane lenses and edit rigs that brought his ideas to life and of course the thousands of archive photos of productions.

I cannot recommend this exhibit enough, which runs until the 17 September here in London, go do yourself a favor, set your creativity alight right now.

An antidote to Monday

We’ve all been there, Monday evening, Monday blues: crashing into the house after work and ordering trash or worse raiding the freezer for a meal that’s lazy to cook, but deeply dissatisfying to eat.

Well do that no more: my Mac and Cheese is the antidote to Mondays. It’s rich, unctuous and guaranteed to make you feel better about the world and with just 15 minutes of prep and then 30 lazy minutes in the oven there’s still endless amounts of Monday evening left to catch up with your Netflix guilty pleasures.


Perfect Mac & Cheese 

The prep for this meal is split into two parts, both can be done at the same time – so first put a pan of water on to boil and set your oven to 350°f or 180°c, and butter a deep baking dish. Once your pan and your oven are both at temperature add a little salt to the water and tip your pasta into the pan.

You’ll need to give the pan a quick stir every couple of minutes, but otherwise it can be left to its own devices. Cook till you’re a minute shy of al dente – the brand of macaroni I use says it’s ready in 8 minutes so I cook it for 7 – drain once your time is up and then return to the cooking pan coating the pasta with olive oil where it can be set aside until you’re finished with the rest of your prep work.

Now while your pasta is cooking, grate your cheeses and find a good deep chefs pan, add the butter and flour to that pan until you have a nice smooth roux (where flour and butter have combined), then add your milk and cream gradually whisking as you go until the mixture starts to bubble, at this point add salt and pepper to taste and tumble in the Gruyere and the Cheddar, keep whisking till it’s smooth and entirely combined and then add your cooked pasta, stir well before pouring the whole mixture into your greased baking dish.

Finally, add your topping – In a small dish combine panko bread crumbs with smoked paprika, parmesan and a little melted butter: then simply tumble that across the top of your pasta, and that’s it – your work is over: into the oven it goes and 30 minutes later you’ll be demolishing it and coming back for seconds I almost guarantee.

Serves 4. Or makes a great meal for 2 with guaranteed leftovers


Going the extra Mile 

This is a dish that you can play with to your hearts content, so experiment – you can add almost anything to a Mac & Cheese to suit your tastes, crispy bacon, roasted cauliflower, deeply aromatic chorizo, cayenne pepper, roasted peppers, garlic, little cheese bombs of blue cheese, or a layer maybe of stringy buffalo mozzarella, and I wouldn’t be forgiven if I didn’t mention how Mac and Cheese is a gateway to cholula. So make it your way and your life will be better for it.

Ingredients: 

  • 8oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups extra mature cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • cup all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumb
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 1 Dash La Chinita smoked paprika (more for less flavorsome brands)
  • To taste salt & pepper

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

All day lazy curry

Recipes for curry can often be super involved – and that is great when you want to spend the day in the kitchen – but as much as that is appealing work and home life don’t always allow that, so this is the antidote to days when you want the melting warmth of a filling curry, but want to put your feet up with a good book instead; I give you my all day lazy crockpot butter chicken.


Crockpot Butter Chicken 

The prep work for this meal is a ten minute job, cut up the chicken into bite size pieces or drain the chickpeas if you’re making the veggie option, finely dice your small onion and add all the ingredients directly to the slow cooker pot except the cream and spinach, stir to combine and coat all the ingredients and then turn your crockpot on.

I cook mine stirring briefly every hour or so for six to eight hours on low, if you want to eat a little quicker you can cook on high for four hours; but I think the flavors are that bit more aromatic if you take the slow road.

In the last 30 minutes of cooking add your cream and spinach, stir thoroughly and serve with a bread and rice of your choosing: I’ve used pilau and basmati and both are good, and this goes really well with a fluffy naan or crunchy wedges of a baguette.

Serves 4. Or makes a great meal for 2 with guaranteed leftovers

Ingredients: 

  • 1lb chicken breasts or thighs or chickpeas if you’d prefer vegetarian
  • 1 small onion
  • 1½ Cups Coconut Milk
  • 3oz tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ghee (or butter)
  • tbsp minced lazy garlic
  • ½ tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, you can leave this out if you like)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups spinach

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

A hearty tray bake for fall

If like me you’re in love with fall you’ll totally get the desire to shut away the world on the darkening evenings and have something really hearty to warm your body & soul.

Now I just happen to believe that there are few things which do that better than a huge plate of winter vegetables, and after I found these beautiful heritage carrots at Borough Market I was inspired to find something to do with them, this is the result of that experiment.

Heritage carrots, Kent farm potatoes and some stock veggies


Hearty Sausage & Veg tray bake 

The lazy among you will be glad to hear that although the list of ingredients for this dish looks fairly long, the prep work is reassuringly short: I’d say confidently that even the most hesitant cook could get this all together in under fifteen minutes – I certainly wasn’t hurrying and had finished all the prep work in ten minutes or so.

I start by preheating my oven to 350°f or 180°c – I cook using a convection oven, so if you’re not make sure you set your oven appropriately higher, somewhere around the 390°f or 200°c range.

Get your vegetables together, if you’re using large carrots you’ll need to chop them into smaller chunks, same with the parsnip into chunks or batons, just so they cook evenly. Mince the garlic, and top and tail your onion before cutting it into quarters and finally cut the potatoes into halves – they should be a comfortable fork full in size.

Now I use a large metal bowl for this, the reason for which I shall reveal shortly, if you have one – use it – if not you’ll just have a little more washing up to do after. Toss all the veg in the bowl and coat with the thyme. oregano, salt and pepper so they’re evenly covered, then tumble them out into a deep baking tray. Then throw your sausages into that same bowl to coat them in the remaining herbs and seasoning, once they’re evenly coated with what remains place them on top of the veg in the center of the tray.

I used pork and apple sausages in natural skins for this dish, but any good quality sausage will do so experiment! Make sure your broth is ready to go – I use two jellied capsules of vegetable and beef stock combined with water in a two cup cup to make my broth, they don’t need to be separate, just make them together.

Now, here’s the reason I used a metal bowl, you need to melted butter for your roux. I gave my bowl the quickest blast of heat from the hob to melt the butter before I tumbled in the flour whisking it into a roux (which if you’re not sure is just a combined ball of flour and butter), once that’s combined keep whisking as you add your broth, it will combine and start to thicken and become smooth – as soon as it does pour into the tray being careful not to get it on the sausages so they brown properly, make sure the liquid is distributed evenly throughout the pan and once done you’re ready for the oven.

I cooked mine for 55 minutes turning the sausages after 25 minutes, check the thickest potato with a knife to make sure they’re all done (they should be!) and demolish with big chunks of bread and a nice wine, I guarantee this is a meal you’ll return to for seconds.

Serves 2 very hungry people or add 2 extra sausages to serve 4.

Ingredients: 

  • 6 butchers sausages
  • 1.5lb small potatoes
  • 2 large carrots or equivalent volume of smaller carrots
  • 1 large parsnip
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2½ tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup vegetable broth

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

Super fast – Super filling Fettuccine

I am a huge fan of pasta: it doesn’t matter what type it is, creamy, filled, coated, baked, I’m sold, but I’m also an enormous fan of a meal that can be put together really quickly.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m more than happy to spend all day in the kitchen watching a meal come together over hours – but there are nights when you just want to eat immediately – so this Fettuccine dish is an instant win for me, combining deeply satisfying creamy pasta with an ability to be eating it in just 15 minutes flat.


One Pot Sun Dried Tomato Fettuccine 

First cut up the tomatoes in small even pieces, then mince the garlic; that’s all your prep work done –  no really I’m serious, you’re done – how good is that?

Set the tomatoes aside, and sauté the garlic over a low to medium heat in a deep chefs pan for a minute or two until its softening, being careful not to let it brown or it’ll be bitter.

Once it’s soft add the chicken broth, tomatoes, milk and pasta to the pan with quite a lot of fresh cracked black pepper – I’ll probably add twenty or so turns of the pepper mill to this as I bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it’s bubbling reduce the heat and cover stirring every couple of minutes to make sure that the pasta is fully submerged and isn’t sticking.

The brand of fettuccine I buy is usually approaching ready in about 7 minutes, at which point I remove the lid, add the parmesan and stir thoroughly for another minute or two on the heat to allow it to properly thicken, once all that sauce is adhering to the pasta you’re ready – serve and demolish immediately with additional parmesan and a few sprigs of basil to finish.

Serves 2 very hungry people, or 4

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 8 oz fettuccine
  • 12 pieces sun dried tomatoes
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2019
Photo Location: At Home, Bankside, London, England.

A new green deal

The environment has been an issue my whole life, from elementary school through high school it was instilled in us that we had to not only look after, but heal our planet. Looking after our world is not a new idea – hell, I’ve been wandering the planet now for almost 40 years now –  so I think we can definitely say climate change, and environmental responsibility is not something that has suddenly arrived that people are struggling to get their heads around.

And while many of us are doing our best to live with a light footprint on the world, we’ve been told by governments and NGOs alike for years that it is up to us to make the difference; but the reality of the world in 2019 is that individual responsibility will only take us so far. The biggest changes need to come from legislation aimed at the largest dirtiest corporate polluters.

the message needs to be clear: go green or go out of business altogether.

The dirty businesses – which are so frequently also heavily subsidized by government – have for too long been given a pass to pollute with impunity: and that’s hardly a surprise when so often between government and heavy industry a revolving door has operated where the people that make our laws walk directly into jobs where profit is reliant on polluting.

That must stop.

So it’s with joy in my heart that I’ve cheered on so many environmental campaigners these last few weeks bringing our cities to a pollution free standstill with polite civil disobedience aimed directly at the dirty business and their political enablers who have failed our planet over the last 40 years. Direct action has a great track record for affecting change and I sincerely hope that the concern and anger at our politicians track records’ on the environment continues to grow.

I believe that we’re dangerously close to a catastrophic tipping point, but I also believe in humanity, I believe that we can change the world – but it’ll need more than just personal change.

So the next time you’re sorting your recycling, or reducing your plastic usage, or fitting a low flow meter for your water, also take 10 minutes out to write to your elected representative: and don’t just stop there – call out businesses that have poor environmental records – use your buying power to say no – organize at work to demand your own companies are ethical and green, and ensure that any person that denies climate change, or passes the buck when they have responsibility finds their opportunities for advancement or publicity massively curtailed.

We can and will make it clear that if we can make the effort personally, then they should to – the message needs to be clear: go green or go out of business altogether.

Photo Credit: Neil A. Evans © 2018
Photo Location: Südlicher Randweg, Möhnesee, Nordrhein-Westfälischen. Deutschland.
51°29’03.1″N 8°03’23.6″E