New year, fresh start

I don’t entirely believe in fresh starts at the beginning of the year – time is a continuum. But it’s a good marker for making plans and reflecting, all the same.

Last year I had a resolution to average 40 active minutes per day, measured on a weekly basis. Except for when I was ill I managed this very well until the point where we got a dog. 2021 was very much the year of dog. The decision to get one, the waiting for the litter, watching the progress as the puppies grew, and then BAM, dog owners.

It’s been more work than I ever anticipated. I’ve become a bore with little else to talk about. But she’s making decent progress and life is starting to settle down again. Our main challenges are getting her to walk well on the lead, and stopping her from barking at everything. We’re slowly working through her food intolerances and figuring out what’s good for her and what isn’t. She’s a handful, but a worthwhile one.

The year petered out on a low. We’ve not done much since the start of the pandemic. We did get a break away this year in Great Yarmouth where my mum was living, but that was a little odd. We’ve done it semi regularly for years, this was the first time with a dog, and probably the last time as a whole as my mum lost her husband this year and will be moving back to the midlands, so the family won’t converge near her for holidays.

We had a plan to visit Jonny’s family in December which was damaged somewhat by the terrible news late in the year that Jonny’s grandad, Wilf, was hospitalised, followed by his demise. The break became overshadowed by the funeral that turned out to coincide with our booked time. I’d booked time off work for this and made it a long block to take me through December and into the new year. At the funeral (or so I believe) I contracted covid which dampened the restful period over Christmas. As I recovered, Jonny succumbed. I’m on track to be healthy again as we return to work. The poor dog hasn’t had a walk in weeks, we’re exercising her by making her run for individual bits of kibble and giving her the odd outing to the garden. As soon as I get a clear LFT I’ll be walking her – technically I could already but I’m trying to be more responsible than that.

On the work side I had good news this year. I did well in reviews and self assessment and secured a pay rise, shortly followed by successfully applying for a promotion. I have an odd mix of imposter syndrome and self confidence vying for my attention, along with intentions to upskill that rarely see fruition because of how busy I am.

There are obstacles in the way but another plan on a backburner is a move back to the midlands (Jonny keeps reminding me that for him it’s not “back”, he never lived there). I’d like to be closer to family and hobbies and potentially to friends. London is not massive but traversing it is difficult and I think it’s not where we want to be any more. The obstacles look like they may well go away, so we’re hopeful, although the stress of a house move is not entirely welcome.

With the ongoing pandemic, uncertainty over where we’ll live when, and the continuation of dog training, it’s hard to focus on goals that might be manageable. I’d like to get fitter and slimmer in the coming months, but the first aim is to shake the covid fully and then figure out where I stand. January often looks dark and gloomy, I’m glad the days are lengthening and looking forward to getting out a bit.

I’m not firming up any solid goals related to it, but I’d like to record a bit more here for accountability and to be able to look back in days to come. Once upon a time, before we were even forced to do everything remotely, LiveJournal was a lot like a social life. It meant that through socialising I effectively had a written record of my life. I’d like to recapture that written record, though I think the social side of things is scattered across Facebook, Twitter and Discord, or simply lost.

A new chapter

People keep on asking if I’m excited to be starting a new job tomorrow. Oddly, I don’t think I am.

I am keen to do well, to make a difference, to learn, and to be recognised for achievements, but it’s not translating into excitement right now. I am starting to find myself very slightly nervous, though, which I think is healthy.

It’s been a good summer. You don’t recognise, when you’re a child, what the gift of six weeks of holiday in the summer actually mean – not until it’s gone. This year, since I had a packed August full of days off, when I found a new job I asked if I might start in September rather than mid July, and I have had two months of glorious freedom, watching my savings shrink throughout.

I didn’t do everything I wanted to this summer. I never took skating lessons or sailed a dinghy across our nearby lake. But I went to the theatre a few times, I took some photographs I’m pleased with and I generally relaxed. I had planned to bone up on javascript and get more familiar with newer technology for the job, but I’ve eventually foregone that in favour of having a stress free time. Likewise I didn’t blog on the topic of work, coding, testing and websites. But that’s ok.

It all ends tomorrow and my primary regret is out of my control – for the last week I’ve been ill with a horrible cough which I’m going to be taking to the office on my first day. I’d normally take time out until fully recovered, but I’m nearly there and failing to turn up on your first day can’t be a good start.

So, I’m packing a work bag (brand new, like a Back to School weekend!), checking out my route, and wondering who I’ll meet and how it will go. One of these days I’ll let you know, too.

Leaving the BBC

I joined the BBC in 2006 after a spell of unemployment. I was nervous initially, wondering whether I’d fit in, or meet the expectations of my new colleagues, and whether my skills were strong enough. I settled in quickly though, and set to work crafting elaborate templates for editorial staff to use to produce flat HTML. After moving from a company that used an Oracle back end and embedded Perl in the web pages (in a similar way to how PHP first started embedding code), I was a bit surprised to be crafting XML as the most dynamic part of the pages we created.

One day (ha!) I’ll write up some of the many things I did in my time at the beeb, but the relevant part here is that after a long time as a dev I wasn’t finding any route forwards, and I was working at a location I hated because of the commute it imposed. Only after we moved back out of Broadcast Centre and back to the centre of London, did I recognise how much of an impact it had been having on my work life balance and mental health.

I switched roles along the way and found a voice as a respected tester who was quickly promoted to be a senior and a lead. I’ve enjoyed being part of the “leadership” of iPlayer Radio on the web, but there are many changes afoot, the most personally impactful being a relocation back to W12. As soon as that was announced I started looking for an alternative, as I’d told myself “never again” and I like to keep my promises. Especially when they’re to me!

Although I looked at both dev and test positions, it was a development role where I found success and I’m heading to GDS in the autumn. I always said that people who finish one job on Friday and start a new one on Monday are doing it wrong. I had some holidays booked for August, and my notice period expires in July, so I’m taking a summer to have fun before knuckling down – although I do want to spend a bit of time brushing up my out of date javascript.

I wrote a big handover document before I left the BBC, and I am planning to turn some of that into blog posts in the near future, so hopefully that will be of interest. Meanwhile, though, I’m doing super fun things like discovering a wasp nest in the garden and getting stung.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong…