Everything we do at work is looking to the future – helping companies grow, predicting trends, seeing where technology is evolving – implementing AI!

But sometimes it’s lovely to just take a minute and look back. I’ve had to look back at some old projects this week, some of which feel like a lifetime ago (pretty much anything before Covid feels a world away, doesn’t it?) but then this photo of Winscombe just landed in my inbox – and that really does go back a long way!

I’m estimating the picture is 100 years old, but please anyone tell me anything you know more precisely. I’m not really up to speed on Gentlemens clothing of the 19th and 20th Centuries! You can see the corner of our office on the far right (the upstairs of the white building). We moved to Winscombe, North Somerset (just between Weston-super-Mare and Cheddar, in the Mendips AONB) about 10 years ago from Bristol (we’re called 18a because we began life at 18a Gloucester Road, in Bristol).

(It’s unheard of for me to post a picture I don’t know the origins of / don’t have written confirmation I can use, but this was sent around in a local email thread for the purposes of sharing.)

The first thing that struck me about the shops was that they’re all people’s names over the door – whether they’re selling books and seamstress services, stationery or (what looks like) automotive repairs, they’re all based on a person’s name. A man’s name at that, which would also probably be different now a days if we all used our names for business. The next thing I thought was that I’m surprised such a big stationery shop was needed in a village – especially one which would have been a lot smaller then. But, in a time before phones and computers when the only way to communicate with family and friends further away would have been to write to them (well, other than telegraphs or carrier pigeons, probably), everyone would have needed a lot more writing materials. We did once make an ecommerce website for a start up called “The Lost Art of Letterwriting” – a lovely name for a stationery shop aimed at getting people to remember the love for putting pen to paper.

After seeing this photo today, I took a corresponding one of the same scene this afternoon. That block is now occupied by a lovely gift shop and wine shop, along with a funeral directors – so all still small businesses. The big shop on the corner is a COOP, but was still a big shop in the old photo by the looks of it. The garden just before COOP is now a library. A major thing you notice is how many cars there are in the street now!

I find looking back comforting, it can ground you when time seems to be speeding past and you don’t know what day it is in a frantic week of work! Last week we were on holiday in an old farmhouse in Crickhowell and I found myself imaginging people walking into the farm yard and up to the front door when the house was first built, and what their lives would have been like. I would NOT have liked the long walk into town (and I like walking) to get groceries – it would have taken so long! I would have been growing and baking everything possible. I wonder if people were physically much fitter than today, from having to move and carry so much more – and not just stand to a desk (or sit) for 7 hours a day.

If you get chance today, think back – even if it’s beyond your living memory – to give your mind a break from the fast paced world of today.