I feel like this is a post that I could have written at so many different points over the lifetime of my online presence. I really am terrible at keeping this place up to date.
Well, I’m going to be making a concerted effort throughout The Year Of Our Lord Twenty Twenty Four to change this.
If I can manage at least one post per month, I’ll be a happy bunny. Anything has to be better than leaving it to languish for over four years, right? So, what has been going on in my life since my last post, which was (looks back) on the 4th October, 2019?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way
As more astute timekeepers will be aware, not too long after October 2019 the whole world changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. I was very lucky in that the pandemic itself caused little to no problems for me or my family.
Sure, we all contracted COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic. Jem and the kids got it first, in November 2020. Luckily vaccinations had started by this point (although if I remember correctly, neither of the kids were fully vaccinated at this time) so although Jem was knocked for six for a week, there were no serious ill effects.
Somehow I avoided getting it while it ripped through the rest of the house, but it finally caught up with me in January 2021. The really strange thing is, that I experienced almost no symptoms whatsoever. I had a tiny bit of a headache and a ‘fuzzy head’ and that was it. If I hadn’t taken a test, there is no way I’d have ever considered it as being COVID.
Out with the old, in with the new…
Probably the biggest change that I made in the period since my last post is that I changed jobs!
I’d been working for Source in Shrewsbury for nearly a full 18 years — pretty much my entire professional career, when I decided that it was time for a change. The stresses of being the technical lead for a full service agency, combined with my desire to provide as good a service for our clients as I could, was starting to take its toll on me, with my inability to switch off the main culprit. My mental health was deteriorating, so something had to give.
I applied for a job that I saw online for a senior PHP developer with a well-known company in the WordPress plugin space. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect to get very far in the process (if anywhere at all) just because I figured that spending 18 years in the same job would have meant I was far too rusty. To my eternal surprise, I was selected to undertake a two week trial period (paid, of course) and was then offered the job at the end of that, and I’ve been there ever since.
I’ll write up a separate post later about what it was like to change jobs.
Becoming an international jetsetter…
One of the biggest downsides to my previous job was that I found it very hard to take holidays, a combination of the level of responsibility that I felt towards my clients and their websites, and again my inability to switch off.
Changing to my current job meant that this problem was almost eliminated overnight. Obviously I still have responsibilities, but I have a much bigger team around me that means I have ‘backup’ if I want to take time off.
So I’ve been doing a lot more travelling, both nationally and internationally, than I have done before.
I’ll write up some posts about my travels too, but since COVID hit I’ve been lucky enough to travel to (in no particular order) the Peak District, the Lake District, Loch Lomond, Amsterdam, Prague, Rome (and Vatican City), Reykjavik, Las Vegas, New York, Banff (Canada), Lisbon, Porto, Athens, a holiday resort in Spain that I can’t remember the name of, and as I write this I’m sitting in Terminal 5 at London Heathrow preparing to board a flight to Washington DC.
I’ve never seen so much of the world, and I’m loving it.
Veteran readers of my website (and you’d have to be veterans given how long it’s been since I updated) will remember that I have previously been something of a car addict, changing my cars incredibly frequently.
This has calmed down a little bit in recent years, but I’m still probably changing car more often than I should do.
When I last updated my blog in October 2019, I was driving a Toyota Yaris Hybrid as my daily driver, and I still had the Toyota Celica GT-Four as my ‘fun’ car (and the one that Jem drove more often than not)
I got rid of the Yaris in August 2020, and replaced it with a 2013 BMW M135i – the ‘baby M’ itch that I’d been wanting to scratch ever since the M135i was announced. It was great, it was practical, fast, reasonable looking and it generally never failed to put a smile on my face. I even did a track day in it, my first in years. I should write a post about that.
I got rid of the M135i in July 2022 though, opting to replace it with a 2020 Nissan Leaf e+, returning back to the Electric Vehicle fold. The Leaf gets around 200 miles out of a full charge, a significant upgrade on the previous Leaf that I owned, and is very practical.
I also bought a Porsche Boxster S (987.1) at the start of April 2023, again to scratch another itch that I’d had for a good long while (in this case, to see if Porsches are as good as everyone says they are. Spoiler alert: they are)
I still have the Celica GT-Four, but it now sits in a long-term storage facility undercover as there’s a rust patch developing on the rear wheel arch (again) and I want to make sure I get that sorted properly, so I needed to get it out of the rain.
It’s a dog’s life!
In 2021, Jem and I decided that we were going to take the plunge and add another animal to our menagerie, a dog. We’d been talking about it for a while now, trying to decide whether it was a good idea etc.
Jem isn’t a fan of small dogs and adores larger dogs, particularly Dobermann Pinschers, as she had one when she was a kid. A Dobermann was therefore top of the list, but unfortunately Dobermann puppies were incredulously expensive and trying to find an adult Dobermann that would be OK integrating into a household with four cats and two kids seemed like it would be very tiresome.
So in the end we decided on a Labrador puppy, and in March 2021 we went and collected our new family member from the breeder. Jem wanted to name him Taters (from the famous Lord of the Rings quote), but after much cajoling from me we decided that Sherbet would be a better name.
I tell everyone that asks that it’s because he’s “full of fizz” (which is very true!) but actually, I chose that name because I imagined that he would be like a Sherbet Fountain on the 2 hour journey home. I’d pictured the backseat of my car absolutely covered in urine, with jets of it spraying all over the interior while I struggled to maintain my composure on the A38. Fortunately though, he slept for pretty much the whole journey back and had no accidents at all!
Jem has already written about the experience of raising a puppy on her blog, check it out.
There’s probably all sorts of other stuff that I can write about from the past 4 years, but this post is dragging on quite a bit so I need to draw it to a close. Especially if I’m going to target one post per month, I don’t want to blow my load too early, as it were!
So the question now becomes, will I actually succeed in writing at least one post per month, or will this post sit on the front page of the site for the next 4 years until I decide to do something about it again?