Photo gallery of the emerging Paget Garden. The garden at the pub had pots of neglected plants. Nurturing them back to health became an idea for a new app game. A fun introduction to AI and other algorithmic technologies.

Introducing the Paget Garden

The Paget garden has been inspired by a book by a local man called James Paget, whose name locally is more associated with the nearby James Paget University NHS Hospitals. Along with his brothers, James Paget listed all the Fauna, Flora and Birds of Great Yarmouth and published as a book in 1834 titled, Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.

Although I have not yet seen a physical copy of this book, which I first discovered mentioned in Sir James Paget: Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies, the pages I have seen were enough to inspire the garden and the forthcoming game.

Dead Plant Resurrection

Before acquiring the keys to the St John’s Head pub to develop into Portal B in February 2020, I noted a large number of seemingly dead plants on the patio.

On seeing these plants, I recalled an old colleague and French Chef, Ginni Debert from my Margate 2011 intervention, who demonstrated how, with water, love and some attention, most plants can recover to their former glory. As a metaphor, this could also be applied to towns’ like Great Yarmouth where, to an outside eye, the town can appear almost lifeless.


So in winter 2020 I began my project, with only a very vague idea of a plan. My first task was to cut back the bamboo in the garden where I live and put aside to dry.

Creating the Lab

Once St John’s Head was secured and I had the keys I began the task of transporting the plants back to my home and creating two lab spaces, at the front and rear of the house, to try and recover the plants. I also bought some tomato plant saps, took some rose cuttings from a neighbour’s garden and a friend provided some beans, courgettes and other seeds.

I have little active experience of gardening so it was as much guessing, sensing and remembering things from what others have said, particularly Ginni’s tips. The only purchase beyond the tomato plants I made was compost from the local Moulton nursery in the nearby town of Acle.

Lockdown Development

During lockdown the lab took more of my time and the plants slowly started to return to life. Neighbours were not convinced by my endeavours, however slowly and steadily they watch the front lab transform over April and May 2020.


In the rear lab area I created a large compost heap from the discarded plant waste, newspaper and food using compostable food bags that the breakfast cereals are packaged in. The hope is that this will be ready mid-autumn to plant a winter crop. This also solved a problem of not being able to take the waste to the local recycling tip, which was closed due to lockdown.

At time of writing, 10 Sept 2020, the compost heap is now less than a third as high and some fine compost is beginning to appear at the base of the heap.

Back of Asda

As well as the Paget writing, the real motivator is the area of flat marshlands just outside Great Yarmouth, directly behind the Asda supermarket. An incredibly beautiful, wild and managed area stretching miles and home to a huge array of plants, fauna, migrating as well as local birds, fish and insects. The constantly changing weather and light makes the back of Asda a magical place.

Summer Bloom

As any beginner to gardening will exclaim, there is real excitement in spring when the first shoots appear and immense pleasure when plants begin to bloom. By June 2020, as lockdown restrictions were slowly lifting and more local people began going about their business, the lab had turned into a proper garden – although all in pots – and people began to notice. Neighbours fell in love with the space, it was a beautiful place to sit despite the increased traffic noise.

Testing Idea

I started testing ideas, like building a bamboo fence and whether it would stay upright in the strong Great Yarmouth winds, find out whether barrels could be converted into plant holders and how to construct bean climbers.

On the Move

With licensed premises again allowed to open, time came to move some of the plants to Portal B, their new home and build the bamboo fence around the car park using the old beer barrels.

Plant Exchange

Inside Portal B there will be a plant exchange to encourage people to grow their own. The first plants in the exchange all come from a single mother money plant, the only plant in the pub that was still thriving when the keys were handed over.

First Crop and More Plants

The first sign of a crop began to show in July and it slowly expanded over August. Colleague Gillian brought some succulents to add to the money plants, and the beans and tomato plants in particular grew fast. Some of these were in old plastic milk bottles to demonstrate that it is possible to use any container. There has been the odd problem, like almost hurricane winds blowing over many of the containers.

Bountiful Harvest

As with the lab, neighbours to Portal B began to see this strange garden emerging in what was previously just a concrete empty car park space behind an old pub. As August pushed towards September 2020 a bountiful crop began to appear and neighbours became increasingly interested in what was/is growing. The harvest of beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are an ongoing feast and allows for sharing with many who live locally. The courgettes and chilli peppers have not been so bountiful as would be hoped and the snails and slugs feasted on the lettuces and onions all summer. No chemical sprays or pellets are used.


The garden has already proved a great conversation starter and breaks down barriers reasonably quickly. I have had a few opportunities to show some of the plant apps that I want to use to introduce AI and Machine Learning (ML) in particular. On the Patience, Perseverance and Hooks blog post I outline the importance of these slow build ups that allow people to engage at their own pace. Food and nature are great as both are imperative to our survival.

Paget Game

Over autumn 2020 and winter 2021, the intention is to develop a game to accompany the garden. The game blog post will follow soon, in the meantime, more on why this is called the Paget Garden.

John M

This post should be read in conjunction with PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE AND HOOKS, JAMES PAGET AND PAGET GAME (to follow).


Sturzaker, Hugh. (2013), Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies, Great Britain



Sir James Paget Surgeon Extraordinary and his Legacies by Hugh Sturzaker book cover.

The local NHS hospital is named after an inspirational local man, James Paget who was a pioneer of pathology and the inspiration for a game and garden that will begin introducing AI technologies to the people of Great Yarmouth.

James Paget in Brief

The James Paget NHS Hospital Trust is named after a local man to Great Yarmouth.

Sir James Paget became the Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, and is now eponymous with a number of diseases, the most well known of which is Paget’s Disease. Paget had to overcome many obstacles and illnesses throughout his life, as well as financial difficulties, and was always aware of those who were suffering from misfortune. Throughout his early career Paget craved one innovation more than anything else, a microscope, the Machine Learning (ML) equivalent of that period.

Paget Book

From a teenager, James Paget, along with his older brothers began documenting the birds, plants and fauna of his home town and in 1834 published, Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.

Introduction. | Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood.

The introduction states the intention to engage residents and visitors to Great Yarmouth to become aware of their surroundings with “the idea that it might be useful’. They believed ‘persons residing in town’ may engage more fully with the manicipality and local environment if they ‘become aware of the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out”. Fourth Portal has a similar aim, to raise awareness of the opportunities that new technologies can offer in benefiting individuals and towns like Great Yarmouth while attempting to reverse some of the environmental damage we have all caused.

Introducing Algorithms to Great Yarmouth

The Paget brothers book stimulated an exciting way to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Linked Data, Semantic technologies, image recognition and Virtual Reality (VR) to the residents and visitors of Great Yarmouth. In the process, I feel it could fulfil the central aim of the Paget publication that future researchers could complete the Sketch by filling in the gaps. It seems that time has arrived!

Should these purposes be even inadequately fulfilled, its intention will be accomplished, more especially if it excite a spirit of research, by the assistance of which the Sketch may at some future period be filled up.

Page 1 | Introduction

Paget Garden

The idea to create a Paget Garden at the back of Portal B began simmering in late 2019, after reading Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies by Hugh Sturzaker. Sketch of the Natural History of Yarmouth and Its Neighbourhood was touched upon while describing the Great Yarmouth of Paget’s youth. Throughout Sturzaker’s book there are striking similarities to issues Great Yarmouth, and many other towns, are facing today, poverty, absence of adequate education, lack of curiosity and little active engagement or interest in the natural world.

Reading how the Paget brothers had listed everything they found, I decided to create a garden along the same lines using some almost dead plants that I found upon the patio at the back of St John’s Head pub, now Portal B. The garden I began creating, just as the UK went into the first national Covid-19 lockdown, is a good way to engage people who would not go into a pub or have little interest in technology, plants or the environment. In addition, I saw very few plants and kept gardens in Great Yarmouth and I thought it might work as a stimulus to others to grow flowers and food. For more read The Paget Garden and view the gallery.

Point of note: The Sir James Paget book author Hugh Sturzaker is himself a surgeon and was governor of the James Paget Hospital for 8 years from 2005, having previously worked there since 1979.

Plant Apps

My initial idea was fairly simple, use the garden as a way of introducing algorithm based technologies. There are now numerous free plant apps for mobile devices that can be simply downloaded and used by taking a photo of the plant of interest. Usually within seconds the plant can be identified with a reasonable degree of accuracy and wealth of information is provided, from the latin name through to the origins of the species. As the use of these apps widen so the accuracy improves, a process called Machine Learning. They are impressive, and will be a simple way to begin to explain the power of some of these new technologies and hopefully stimulate ideas how these could prove useful in other contexts.

Using the interventionist approach developed with my Platform-7 network, the garden will emerge at a deliberately slow pace, allowing local people to watch plants arrive in pots, grow and change. As hoped, it has already begun to attract neighbours to ask questions with some enjoying the harvest of tomatoes, beans, courgettes and cucumbers. During the conversations about the plants, opportunity to use the plant app arises directing the discussion towards technology.

Paget Game

Along with colleagues from several universities, the Paget garden idea has developed, and now forms a much larger and important element of Portal B. We intend to create an open source game using various technologies to see whether the people of Great Yarmouth and beyond can fill up the Paget Sketch.

We are at the very outset. What we know for sure is that the game will be in the form of an app and open source, meaning anyone with basic coding skills can contribute. The intention is to draw in as many people as possible, by making it as collaborative as possible.

Beyond Coding | Creating Communities

The beauty of the Paget garden is there are numerous avenues to join in, even if a person has no liking or understanding of technology. The project is to inspire curiosity and develop new communities and ideas. Create interest groups and hopefully inspire some ideas that can be commercialised by individuals, for example walks around the town and local marshlands and riverbank.

They were founded on the idea that it might be useful first, by aiding another to the number of local history necessary to a perfect acquaintance with that of the whole [United] kingdom, and with the particular distribution of each species;

[People of Great Yarmouth] be led more diligently to pursue their investigation than hitherto, while those only casually visiting it may be enabled more easily to procure specimens of the several rarities.

EXAMPLE OF PAGE FROM Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood


The Paget garden and Paget game will serve as inspiration. They will allow people coming to Portal B, those passing through and potentially schools and local groups to engage in topics that may not be easily accessible or even considered previously. The programme will link people with people, people to technology, technology to environment, and environment and technology to people and community. It may also inspire some entrepreneurship, but that will be for another blog post.

Slow Time | Knowledge and Wisdom

A further key learning outcome to this programme is stressing how learning is lifelong, and how seemingly unimportant, insignificant or irrelevant knowledge and wisdom may have relevance and importance at some future time.

James Paget recognised this himself, a man whose career and fame did not arrive until quite late in life…

James attended lectures on anatomy and bone given by Mr Randall at the Angel Inn – it was not uncommon for inns to be used as lecture halls and for teaching purposes during this period. He later described this as being equal to anything learned from lectures heard in London during later years. 

During his apprenticeship an outbreak of Asiatic cholera developed in Great Yarmouth. He saw many cases which were unsuccessfully treated using a variety of methods such as bleeding, opium and saltwater injections. He studied the disease intensively and created an orderly volume of abstracts of his readings, a skill he developed from his study of natural history.

Even when knowledge or knowhow is no longer relevant, the discipline of acquiring remains invaluable.

During his later years he wrote of the Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood “The knowledge was useless; the discipline of acquiring it was beyond price”.

Environmental Importance

It is hoped the game will provide some valuable information about the changing natural environment of Great Yarmouth and surrounding marshes. Norfolk, on England’s east coast is particularly susceptible to rising sea levels, storm surges and strong winds. How this has changed the landscape over the past 190 years might prove revealing.

Going Forward

This programme will begin quietly and grow and develop at its own pace, the importance is to start introducing different technologies at a level people are comfortable without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.


Throughout the ages, technological advances share a common theme; how to apply them to everyday use and inspire new innovations and discoveries? Development of the microscope was no different and can be compared to how photographic imaging recognition needed people uploading camera phone photos to gather enough images to learn from.

It has to be said, however, that until the nineteenth century most microscopes were sold as gentleman’s toys rather than instruments for serious scientific experimentation. They were provided with expensive cases, lined with plush velvet and compartmentalised to accommodate various accessories that often went unused. To avoid disappointment the makers often supplied the purchaser with a set of pre-prepared slides.

The College of Optometrists, Early microscopes: The first simple insect viewers, undated.

1793; this was the time of transition from Hunter’s teaching, which for all its greatness was hindered by want of the modern microscope, to the pathology and bacteriology of the present day. Paget’s greatest achievement was that he made pathology dependent, in everything, on the use of the microscope, especially the pathology of tumours.

Wikipedia, accessed 6th Sept 2020.


Introduction to Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood

It is sincerely hope, that the name given to the present work will be interpreted literally- at nothing more than a mere open “sketch” does it aim; nor were the motives which induced its publication any but of the most unpretending description.  They were founded on the idea that it might be useful first, by aiding another to the number of local history necessary to a perfect acquaintance with that of the whole kingdom, and with the particular distribution of each species; and, secondly, that other persons residing in town may, when the number and excellence of the productions of their own neighbourhood are in some measure pointed out, be led more diligently to pursue their investigation than hitherto, while those only casually visiting it maybe enabled more easily to procure specimens of the several rarities.  Should these purposes be even inadequately fulfilled, its intention will be accomplished, more especially if it excite a spirit of research, by the assistance of which the Sketch may at some future period be filled up.

It may be useful at the outset, briefly to describe the characters of the localities in which the species hereafter mentioned occur, as well as to give some general directions respecting the mode in which they may be best be procured.

Related Posts

This post is part of a series of posts to be read together, PAGET GARDEN, PAGET GAME and PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE AND HOOKS.


McCallum, Marilyn. A Biography of Sir James Paget, Paget’s Association, Online. 14th Aug 2020 (

Sturzaker, Hugh. (2013), Sir James Paget : Surgeon Extraordinary and His Legacies, Great Britain

The College of Optometrists, (undated) Early microscopes: The first simple insect viewers, London, Online 6th August 2020, (


James Paget book and traffic sign pointing to wild rose growing randomly on a traffic island, summer 2020.

As an outsider coming into Great Yarmouth, it was essential to find a hook, so linking a local man from the 1800s, James Paget with technology and AI may prove to provide the perfect avenue of engagement. 

For interventions to have any value, it is essential to have Patience, Perseverance and Hooks. Attempting something original, by original meaning new to the audience being engaged, requires patience. It takes time for people to even acknowledge something different, never mind become involved. Perseverance comes with refusing to be deterred or discouraged by those who only see something not working or who are determined to see something not work. However, being dogged and determined is of little value if there are no hooks. By hooks I mean subjects or objects that people can engage and relate to fairly easily, and not in some abstract way.

Finding paths, methods, stories to engage the disengaged or disinterested sits at the heart of the intervention process. In the UK at least, so much is imposed upon communities and individuals. Too often, this imposition comes from a misguided belief from those in power that people are intrinsically disinterested. What is seen as disinterest may as likely be a lack of clear avenue into what is being discussed or proposed. Provide the avenue and often people will overcome scepticism, and often fear, to engage.

Paget Garden and AI

The Paget Garden is such an avenue in Great Yarmouth. Most people locally know James Paget’s name because that is the name of the local general NHS hospital. Beyond the name it’s clear little is known of the man amongst the local community – and this makes for a potential perfect hook! Paget has a fascinating story and connection to the local town, and this can be utilised to draw in the community and create an avenue of engagement with Fourth Portal, Portal B.

As with the name James Paget, a great many local people may have heard the term AI, Machine Learning, even possibly linked data and The Fourth Industrial Revolution, yet few are likely to have an in-depth understanding. So this has presented an opportunity to link these two seemingly unconnected areas, technology and James Paget, together as a fun introduction to both.

James Paget

Along with his brothers, James Paget published Sketch Of The Natural History Of Yarmouth And Its’ Neighbourhood, which listed all the fauna, flora and birds that they discovered around Great Yarmouth before 1834. Paget’s life desire was to access a modern microscope, the AI and Machine Learning of the time and an instrument that would not only seal his name in history but also significantly advance medical science. Paget changed the course of treating cancer, leaving a legacy of conditions named after his name, the most common of which is Paget’s Disease.

Making Connection

Using existing plant apps that identify plants, freely available to download, the Paget garden will encourage visitors to Portal B to begin identifying the different plants in the garden. The intention over time is to create a Portal B open source game app of our own that encourages participants to try and identify the plants and birds from the Paget list of 1834; a little along the lines of Pokemon Go game! In doing so, the ambition is to begin a wider conversation and introduction to AI and other advanced technologies, how they work and how a person can utilise them for their own purposes.

This post should be read in conjunction with JAMES PAGET, PAGET GARDEN and PAGET GAME blog posts to follow.

John M.


Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020

Believe in Yarmouth: Catch the Tide is Gillian Harwood’s personal manifesto to turn the fortunes of Great Yarmouth and assist with the transition into becoming a Fourth Industrial Revolution town.

Gillian Harwood owns the site of Fourth Portal B and is investing in restoring buildings in the town of Great Yarmouth to a high standard, recovering their architectural richness. This manifesto has been a joint effort to encourage other like-minded people to potentially invest to create a blueprint for collaboration and commerce in a post-Covid-19 world full of challenges.

Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020 p1
Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020
Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020
Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020
Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020
Believe In Yarmouth | Catch the Tide August2020

John M


The Fourth Industrial Revolution is very likely to tear up the rulebook and opening the Fourth Portal in an old alehouse may provide a good real world example of how people react when old rules are overturned.

St John’s Head

The Fourth Portal could have opened in any physical space almost anywhere, it is only through circumstance that Portal B has happened to open in an old traditional English Ale House. Fourth Portal is about visualising the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how towns outside the great cities will adapt to the Tsunami of change that is afoot.

St John’s Head Real Ale House, where Portal B has just opened has been a traditional English boozer for at least 30 years and an alehouse going back possibly centuries. Besides flat screen televisions to show the football, little has really changed in the pub since it was renovated in 1960.

Photo of pub 100 years ago on table for plant exchanges

Cask Ale

Even before Coronavirus, the decision was taken not to serve tap beers for the initial period as the equipment and site needs to be completely ripped out. Once Covid-19 caused all pubs to lockdown, ruining billions of pints, it seems incredibly risky to buy cask ales while the threat of another lockdown hangs over all bars. So for this initial period the bar will only be selling bottle beers, mostly sourced from breweries in Norfolk and surrounding counties. Despite the pandemic and providing local ales, not having pump beer has not gone down well with some of the old regulars of the previous publican.

What is an Ale House?

The ale house or pub has gone through numerous reinventions over the years, each time causing disruption to habits, culture and taste. Technology, pandemics, laws, social norms and many other factors have shaped the boozer.

The period 1550–1700 saw the ‘golden age’ of the English alehouse. Although ale had long been consumed as part of a daily diet in England, it had mostly been produced on a domestic scale, and its retail had tended to be sporadic and temporary. In the 16th century, brewing came to be transformed from a domestic activity to a larger commercial trade, and between 1550 and 1700 the number of alehouses in England rose, as did the ratio of alehouses to people. Alehouses become unrivalled places for recreational drinking, sociability, and ‘good fellowship’. But the growing popularity of alehouses prompted mounting concerns, hostility, and attempts at regulation by the state. Concerns about disorderly behaviour loomed large, and many early modern governors feared that alehouses not only promoted drunkenness and intoxication, but also fostered political subversion and sedition among the ‘lower sort’. Thus at the same time as alehouses enjoyed new heights of popularity among ordinary people, they were simultaneously identified by the state as a prime target for regulation and suppression.

Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England (Reviews in History)
How did historic alehouses, taverns and inns evolve into the pubs we see today? (Morning Advertiser)

Pubs have always evolved and adapted to circumstances, some close, some open and new variations appear and disappear. However, ‘traditional’ often has a baked in perception for many people of ‘what a pub is’.

Breaking the Mould

As expected, many of the old customers who have ventured in are disappointed with what they have found, most have been polite and open about not liking the change and only a few have been rude (see the Fourth Portal daily journal here). Although it carries traditional pub label, on many levels it never was that traditional, and has not even been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for a number of years.

Good Beer Guide | Some of Beers Available Today at Portal B

I would claim it is not the traditional English pub or the pump ale that the old regulars are bothered by, it is the disruption to the familiarity that they are used to. Although there is certainly a difference between bottle and draft beers, those who had a bottle still found it very good. Going to a place where everything remains almost unmoved, month in month out, year in year out has a certain comfort but it can also bring stagnation. In nature, although the forest may look the same to the human eye, it is constantly evolving, if it does not adapt to constantly changing conditions it will die. The analogy can also be applied to Great Yarmouth, home to Portal B, if it does not adapt, particularly now as Coronavirus and 4IR collide then it is likely to fall so far behind the world that it will become a ghost town.

Architectural Conformity

The balancing act of Portal B is not to alienate anybody or create confusion, which is why it will be a very slow transformation. Ultimately Portal B remains a pub, meaning it will need to conform to English licensing regulations, even if the space will not really be operating as a bar in the traditional sense. This may cause discomfort to some people and makes explaining difficult. For me personally there has been a palpable sense initially to conform; to run St John’s Head as a pub in the traditional sense, despite clearly stating that it will not really resemble a pub in how it operates.

The Portal B scenario provides a fine example of how we are shaped by the architecture and iconography that surrounds us, which then informs and often dictates our movements and decisions. We normally conform simply because we have no option, if a street is gated we will have to walk around to reach the other side. If a premises looks like a pub then surely it should run like a pub? If a decision is made to climb over the gate then there is a risk of consequences, for example being accused of trespass. If a different type of business is carried out in a traditional setting then there is a pressure to make it sure it is successful, as failure will be blamed upon not following the rules and keeping to tradition. Yet the 2020 pandemic seems virtually immune to human tradition and control and is tearing up the rulebook. Is this the time for society to unshackle itself from the constraints of looking through an iconographic lens and being dictated to by forced traditions?

Representation of Change

The set up of Portal B is to become a physical manifestation of the enormous change that we are all now undergoing. As with the St John’s Head still looking architecturally the same, only cleaner, serving beer and resembling a pub, the Paget garden at the rear, the plant exchange on the pool table and the old Apple Macs dotted about indicate something different. This will be the same as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, people will still shop, eat, travel, connect, meet only the surroundings, methods and communication will be changing whether it is noticed or not. Burying the head in the sand and pinning for a traditional time will do nothing to halt the fundamental change that has already begun.

John M


Bishop, Jennifer. REVIEW, Alehouses and Good Fellowship in Early Modern England, Reviews in History, Online,

Mellows, Phil. (5 March 2019), How did historic alehouses, taverns and inns evolve into the pubs we see today?, Morning Advertiser, Online,


Photo of pub 100 years ago on table for plant exchanges

Eighteen months after setting off on this Haphazard Business journey, stage one has completed with the opening of the first Innovation Hub today and beginning the next chapter, as I document trying to establish this enterprise in a time of Covid-19 and no live events.

Portal B

Named Portal B @ St John’s Head, the site is opening six months later than intended due to issues with the building, hygiene and of course Coronavirus. Using techniques developed through my Platform-7 interventions, I intend to slowly change the space over a period of weeks and months from a traditional old English boozer into a visionary space of the 4IR. How it will look in a few months’ time will be difficult to tell as there remains a mountain of challenges ahead, not least a potential further Covid-19 lockdown.

Haphazard Business Blog

The Haphazard Business blog will now begin to focus on the wider challenges the new venture faces while a daily journal will be kept on the Fourth Portal website documenting the day-to-day experience of developing the hub. Subscribe to the daily journal here.

Mission Impossible – Maybe!

This really might be a Mission Impossible! Even before Coronavirus, the town of Great Yarmouth where the hub is based was in trouble. Following months of lockdown, the town is now in real trouble with many of the main attractions either still closed or greatly restricted. As of writing, Casinos and Nightclubs must remain closed, a big draw for the town. Other attractions have restricted access and some larger chain stores have not reopened, Argos for example.

Although the seafront has seen an influx of holidaymakers this side of town, where Portal B is located, has seen little in returning office workers. A building opposite, which had 800 working throughout the day in February 2020 presently has less than 20 in the offices. All along the North Quay, non-retail businesses are either still closed or working on skeleton staff. Passing trade is minimal, even the normally busy road has only light traffic.


My speciality is creating intriguing live events that draw people in in such a way that they become part of the project I am creating. This has generally worked very successfully over the past ten years, and when I had bars in London for a decade. Now though, indoor live events remain banned and finding insurance cover for outdoor events is proving difficult.

My focus over July 2020 has been to get St John’s Head, the location of Portal B, clean and up to a standard where people can come in and feel comfortable. Now that has been achieved my mind will turn towards how to negotiate the myriad of new rules, which keep on changing, and encourage people to visit. This is going to be no mean task and going to take a lot of creative thinking.

Video | Portal B

This 2-minute video was recorded earlier providing a quick tour of Portal B.

Day One | Portal B

Visiting and Supporting

Portal B @ St John’s Head can be found on the North Quay, Great Yarmouth, NR30 1JB on the Norfolk Coast, with a stunning North Sea beach on one side and the gorgeous rivers Yare and Bure on the other leading out to the Norfolk Broads National Park.

I will welcome you visiting and telling your friends, particularly those in Norfolk or visitors to Norfolk, and any suggestions, presentations or events that you may have. Get in touch here.

Going Forward

This is by far my most challenging undertaking to date, even without Covid-19 it was going to be difficult. I am prepared that this may all peter out, unable to sustain itself or me, never mind anyone else. This acknowledged, I am also pretty resolute and determined, my inner core feels confident doors will open and surprises will be revealed.

Whatever happens. it’s going to be an interesting journey, a journey that many businesses in the UK, and most of the world are now facing. Please leave comments below.

Thanks for following, John M


University College London VR Studio Teaching Suite

The Fourth Portal opens in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk in mid-July 2020, the next stage on this Haphazard.Business journey documenting how an idea becomes reality – read on…

New Website

Fourth Portal

 Hybrid portal spaces imagining life in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Haphazard.Business journey began in April 2019, with the intention to open a new type of hub space that would imagine all aspects of living and working in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Fourth Portal is the result of the journey so far with Portal B at St John’s Head in Great Yarmouth being the first hub to open, slowly transforming an old English pub into a completely new type of space – yet to be fully imagined.

Idea Becomes Reality

When I set out 18-months ago, my only real aim was to make “a new kind of innovation hub for the Fourth Industrial Revolution become reality”. The intention of this blog has been to plot the haphazardness of such a journey, a representation of how all planning, whether to create a business or just planning for the future can be perilous.

Regardless of age or education, everybody has ideas every single day, some are just fleeting, many are to complete mundane tasks – what to cook for dinner? – and occasionally, one or two can be life changing.

Moving from the idea stage to making it a reality is a complex journey, which Haphazard.Business has been seeking to document how every idea is pummelled by numerous factors, some controllable, most not.

Flexibility Not Rigidity

Many great ideas do not become a reality because the initiator is too rigid and attempts to determine rather than nurture and grow the idea organically. A vision emerges as the idea initially forms and that often becomes cemented in the mind, meaning any deviation is not true to the original idea. People can become engrossed in detail without realising the idea itself encompasses a much wider set of values, which has a fluid set of parameters.


Few, if anyone, were seriously imagining Covid-19 would appear at the beginning of 2020 and spread so quickly, impacting every corner of the World. This blog documents how the idea of creating the Haphazard hub – Fourth Portal as it is now named – has been buffeted and impacted by the developing situation, which remains serious as of today, 1 July 2020. It provides some insight into how I have adapted my plans and thought processes, keeping one eye on the overarching goal, creating a hub, without becoming to obsessed in how it will work, what it will look like and why people will visit.

Next Stage

The next stage will be to document the ideas that formed during lockdown in relation to Fourth Portal, how these developed and are evolving, and how they feed into the bigger concept of creating a hub imagining life in the 4IR.

Hope you will soon be able to visit or follow online, see website for social media connections.

John M