My Christmas break was not the relaxed, creative break I’d planned though I got to spend lots of time with people I love. Lots of snow and visitors. Then at New Year, exhausted, I crashed and have only just re-surfaced. So my 2010 favourites list is a little late…

Favourite Album (and live gig): the talented Natalie Merchant album, “Leave Your Sleep“, selected by NPR as one of the best Folk Albums of 2010 – and her live performance of tracks from this album at L’Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium in March, 2010.  Heavily researched, years in the making – she takes beautiful 19th century poetry and traditional songs and turns them into something quite beautiful and extraordinary; setting each track to a different kind of music (traditional English folk, bluegrass, reggae, Chinese…) with wonderful results. Her live performance  added stories, dance, humour and a slide-show to a packed house.

Favourite Book : “Strength in What Remains” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tracy Kidder. The inspiring true story of Deo who escaped from the genocide in Burundi to the mean streets of NYC and became a doctor, returning to Burundi to set up a clinic.

Favourite Film : Los Caminos de la Memoria, a prize-winning documentary, by the Spanish director Penafuerte, about “the disappeared” of the Franco era. Recent excavations of mass graves in Spain reveal the silence and fear still present in many places damaged by the civil war – and the deep sorrow of so many who do not know where their relatives are buried. I lived in Spain three years after Franco died and remember the pain and the fear. This film touched me profoundly.  

Favourite Event: the European Summit for Global Transformation in Amsterdam. My favourite event of the year for the third year in a row. An extraordinary meeting of ordinary people making the extraordinary happen around the world. Social Entrepreneurs and Change-Makers supporting each other – just simply wonderful !

Favourite Theatre: “Woven in the Fabric“, a “promenade play” based on the lives of Martha Crossley, founder of Dean Clough Mill, and Lavena Saltonstall, the West Yorkshire suffragette, and performed around historic sites in Halifax between the Square Chapel and the 900 year old Minster.  Finishing with an audience participation rag-rug making session and then tea and biscuits in the Minster. History from a womens perspective comes alive ! With the added and strange bonus of discovering one day later that I am a descendent of Martha Crossley…

Favourite Festival: MintFest – an international street arts festival in the English Lake District. A weekend of jaw-dropping, free entertainment across the streets and parks of Kendal, Cumbria. Absolutely magical !

Favourite Travels: Impossible to choose between Lago Maggiore, Italy, Helsinki, Finland and Sonoma, California.

On a business trip in December, I had a few days to glimpse the beauty of the Italian Lake District

Lago Maggiore: dawn from my hotel window

 and, on another business trip in September, I had a brief glimpse of the exciting and creative dynamic  in the design district of Helsinki, Finland.