So, it turns out that I am still not even managing to post on WEEKLY basis…

It’s been a busy week…

What with the car drama – my alternator died and on it’s way to Hell it cooked my battery – and getting ready to go to Belgium, not to mention the second week of “Sprint 0” at work I’ve not really felt as though my feet touched the floor…

I would write more, but I have to get some template tuning done before I leave early to pick up the car from the dealership in Reading – they love me there now based on how much money I’ve spent on the car in the last four months…  I think that early next year if all is well with finances that I might have to trade the Civic in against something a little younger, preferably something still under warranty…

TTFN


Another week…

So, it turns out that I did not manage to write anything here last week at all!

What did I get up to, I hear you ask? Oh hold on a minute, I can barely hear you there at the back my one reader 😉

Anyway, the week was a busy one; is there any other kind I have begun to wonder to myself..?

The week got off to a running start with many, many meetings at work, a trend that continued for most of the week, one way or another… We (in my team at the BBC) spent last week in the last round of planning for the next release phase, i.e. to get ready to do the work I was hired for, and as such, what with the Beeb having adopted SCRUM methodology there were certain processes to go through in order to make sure that all of the features we are going to approach in this release were storied, prioritised and scored. It may sound like a painful process, but by the time the end of the week came I felt as though we had a REAL sense of what we were going to do, how much work it was all going to be and that there was a real sense of scope and expectation. I have to say, without coming off all “SCRUM-evangelist” I hope, that it feels like a good way of working so far.

Friday was a little bit of a blip, a blip that ate into Thursday as well… Friday was the first public / out-of-team demo for the product that I am working on, and my colleague Mike and I had to scramble to get the thing ready. As with anything prepared in snatched moments and without a clear plan, something went not-quite-according-to-plan, but the overall reception was good and the people who matter – our project owner, his boss, and our project architect were all perfectly happy. More to the point, people from other teams were really supportive, and in the end all the wait-and-hurry-up was worth it.

I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings with Lee-Anne, and we had a lovely time.. I’m consciously not going into minute detail for two reasons; I am not deluded into thinking that you all want to know what we cooked together, or what we talked about, but also because I am enjoying it being “just for us” a little bit too…

On Thursday evening I went, with Lee-Anne to see an old friend of hers in a pub off Tottenham Court Road and I think it went well; I really enjoyed meeting him and the others that he brought along. We spent the better part of the evening putting the world to rights(tm) and then headed back to Sevenoaks to crash out before the last schoolday of the week.

Friday was a “girls’ night out” for Lee-Anne, seeing some good friends that she’s not had a chance to catch up with for a while now, so I made my own plans, and we caught up again on Saturday afternoon evening, as I made my way over to Sevenoaks with Suzie (the Secteur – my bike). Saturday evening we went out to the movies to see Inception. No comment for now (as I am formulating my ideas for a longer post on the subject), beyond: AWESOME!

Sunday Lee-Anne had some more studying / writing to do for her OU course, so I made myself useful doing the shopping (on Suzie) and then going out for a nice long ride through the Kent Countryside. The hills around where she lives are still pretty f’ing tough, but I am getting better at dealing with them, which is a good sign I think.

And so it was Monday again before we knew it, and I was up early to get Suzie on the train to London before the cut-off for full-size bikes and in work for eight 🙂

More to follow – this week should be better for blogging…


Bikes, boxes, bags and bookends…

So I’m back at work; please may I have a second weekend to get over the first one..?

It was lovely to see Mum and Dad, to see Chorley and the ‘Ole Homestead, but this weekend was by no means a relaxing diversion.

It started with a wrong turn…  I came off the train in Wigan, running a little late but filled with a willingness to live up to my stated plan and ride home, and it was all going terribly well, until I got lost in Wigan.  In the end I did about an extra 4 or five miles (I’m not sure exactly how much more I did), so that by the time I finally arrived home at around 2300h I was tired and annoyed.  Also, before I attempt to ride from Wigan to Chorley in the dark again, I need to buy some lights that are actually good at lighting my way, rather than just making my presence felt as a road-user.  The lights that I have at the moment are definitely not designed for unlit streets.

Saturday morning saw an early start, a quick breakfast and then the task of rationalising my belongings began.  There is no delicate way to put this; I __had__ a lot of shit in my room at Mum and Dad’s…  Old magazines (I kept a couple of “important” ones), course notes from my A-Levels and Uni courses, and a metric-fuck-tonne of VHS tapes.  We hope that the local charity shops will take the commercial / pre-recorded VHS, but all my “home-made” tapes went in the recycling at the municipal refuse / recycling centre; well all of them apart from my recordings of “Karaoke” and “Cold Lazarus”, Dennis Potter’s last works, which were produced jointly by the BBC and Channel 4 in the early 90’s, as I don’t think that I can replace them with a “bought” version.  Anyway, by the time we went out riding (bikes) with Carey, a serious start had been made and a large pile of stuff to take to the tip had developed.

The bike ride was lovely – we did 16.25 miles through the Lancashire countryside, mostly down quiet lanes, and it only felt like about 10! At the very end we stopped in Astley Park (which is very near to my parents’ home) and visited the new tea shop there, which has gone considerably more up-market than the one I remembered!

Post-ride there was more sorting, discarding and general reminiscing, until we called it a day to have dinner and spend some time just sitting about, chatting and wotnot.

Sunday morning was more of the same, though kippers fro breakfast made for a bit of an ‘event feel’ to the morning.  By the time 1500h rolled around we had got to the point where my entire bedroom was sorted and all of the stuff therein was neatly organised into areas of the room so that once the sale goes through they can box my stuff for move / storage / whatever without any confusion if I can’t make it up to Chorley.  Dad and I made a couple more trips to the refuse / recycling centre, on one occasion posting what felt like years worth of magazines into the paper recycling; once we were done there was a big chunk of work done and one more thing off Mum and Dad’s minds.

The prospect of Mum and Dad divesting themselves of the home we’ve had as a family for 25 years is a weird one…  I clearly see the logic of the choice, and the rational part of my head is completely on board with the plan, but there is no escaping that a small part of me is quite sad about the closing of this chapter of our family’s story.  Friends of mine that have visited Broughton House will know what I mean when I say that the house is a singular and unusual building, and that uniqueness is one thing that I will miss, but far more important than that are the memories of the house being full of family and friends, life and laughter.  In the end all things must end, and I am ok with that, but I would like to think that I will have a couple more chances to visit the place before we finally wave it goodbye.

We had a quick dinner and then Dad took me and my bike back to Wigan, so that I could catch my train and head back South.  Annoyingly I needed to change at Crewe which meant a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with the bike, but once I was installed on the Crewe to Euston train I had the chance to relax and catch up on my tech reading, using iBooks on my iPhone – a setup I can recommend despite my expectations to find it disappointing.  On arrival in Euston I had to ride across Central London to Paddington, and I ended up on a local stopper (slow train) that got me back to Reading just before 2300h.

After a swift ride home and a quick call with Lee-Anne I collapsed into bed, and was out like a light shortly after (I assume) – as I said at the beginning, I need another weekend to get over this one 😉


The Odyssey Continues…

So, work finished and I was back on the bike between White City and Euston…  First of all, I have realised that Notting Hill has the word “hill” in its name for a reason!  Still, the ride went well until I made a miscalculation at Marylebone High Street and had to dismount and cross Euston Road on foot.  This was the beginning of the end of footloose and fancy-free riding; the Euston underpass is not a venue for cycling or cyclists…  Anyway, after a short walk into the station and a couple of false starts with a couple of Fast Ticket(tm) machines I was on the train, bike stowed in the rear baggage compartment, and so here I am blogging away furiously in order to kill time while the queue at the buffet goes down… 😉

In two and a half short hours I will be back on the bike heading to Chorley from Wigan – I’m really looking forward to that part of the journey; after all I hate trains!

See y’all on the flipside…


Cycle Odyssey…

And so the grand journey begins…

This morning I was up at just after 0600h to jump on the bike and ride to Sevenoaks Station.  A sleepy Lee-Anne bade me goodbye, and sent me off with a kiss and I was on my way.  In the last couple of weeks I have got a lot better at climbing, mostly by doing a few long(ish) rides around the country lanes to the south of Seal, but the route to Sevenoaks Station from Seal is very hilly and the addition of my big bag made the three uphill sections a real challenge.  Still I arrived in time to board a train before the cycle restrictions kicked in, and was treated to a very crowded train to Charing Cross.

From there I rode part of my old route from Southwark to Paddington, through Admiralty Arch and onto the Mall cycle path, and thence up Constitution Hill, under the Wellington Arch and into Hyde Park, up the East cycle path and then onto Bayswater Road heading west towards Shepherds Bush.  The Shepherds Bush roundabout was not as scary as I remember, and apart from an absent minded bin lorry driver I had no more trouble until I was on the home stretch heading up Wood Lane, when a car driver nearly turned left into me after effecting an emergency stop to allow someone travelling in the other direction to turn in before them!  Still, defensive riding was my friend once more and I arrived on “The Network” (the piazza between BBC White City, BBC Media Centre and BBC Broadcast Centre) for 0800h, leaving me plenty of time to buy shower gel, shower and breakfast before starting work on time at 0900h without feeling rushed at all…  The BBC is deserted at 0800h, and it was a lovely tranquil five minutes that I spent sitting, sipping a smoothie from Crushh and zoning out looking at the water feature outside BBC Broadcast Centre, where I work.

Work is going well.  I’ve started to really get my head around the “way of doing things” that the BBC is using on its new(er) stack and I’m looking forward to the planning meeting for the next sprint, which I am attending on Monday and have been encouraged to prepare Developer Stories for.

Once today’s working time is over, it’s back on the bike to ride to Euston, where I will pick up my tickets and then board the train for Wigan (with the bike in a free, reserved bike space), and on arrival back in the North West I will make my way back to Mum and Dad’s in Chorley by bike, essentially closing the day’s travels.

There will, no doubt, be more to follow on my experiences of the rest of this train+bike extravaganza as the weekend progresses, and you never know, I might find something else to blog about as well…

TTFN


Wednesday night in Kent…

I am happy, and it’s so the little things…

I’m here, sorting out airline tickets, registering my online banking and listening to Pink Floyd with Lee-Anne while she makes a birthday card for a friend and we are just talking and talking and talking…

I can only hope that this is a mere taste of what’s to come, and yet I can honestly say that hope doesn’t really come into it.

I feel free to be myself, authentic and unedited with this passionate, intelligent, engaging woman; so much so that an evening in can be (and is) as precious as nights like last night, out in London with friends, or last Saturday afternoon, cycling through the Kent countryside together.

Anyway, now to bed – tomorrow another early uphill sprint (the hills around here are something else!), a day at the Beeb and then another quiet evening just the two of us before a weekend of parents for me and party for her…

Night all; lekke slaap 😉


Wednesday in White City

So, it’s Wednesday morning, and once again I am in White City; the Beeb is a lovely place to work so far 😉

The people are friendly; I’ve been incapable of remembering my cable to charge my iPhone, but a very friendly chap that sits behind me has been helping me out on that front – I must start remembering or I imagine his friendliness will run out. The whole place has a very campus feel about it – there are coffee shops and leafy outdoor spaces, even a small Tesco and three canteens (though I have only visited the largest of these).

The work is interesting too, and from this morning I actually have access to the codebase, properly, for the first time; I am looking forward to getting my teeth into the project. It’s great to be back in an environment where TDD / Unit Testing and other forms of process are intrinsic to the working of the team I am in – in fact the development policy across the whole organisation is now pretty much in the SCRUM way as far as I can tell, with SCRUM boards marking out a kind of curtain wall around the open-plan dev space.

There are even (apparently good) showers here, so my cycle-based odyssey that will begin in Sevenoaks and end in Chorley on Friday (with a couple of train journeys in there as well, I’m not that fit yet) will not lead to a sudden cessation in friendly relations with my colleagues.

Last night Lee-Anne and I had dinner with Chi and Mogs, in Spitalfields, and rather like my meeting Lee-Anne’s best friend on Sunday last, it all went rather well as far as I can tell. The conversation and cocktails flowed as we gloried in Canteen’s excellent Post-British Cuisine and two of my oldest friends got to know this fabulous woman who it is hard to believe has only really been in my life for just shy of eight weeks.

As intimated above, I am off to Chorley, to my childhood home, to spend the weekend with Mum and Dad and to assist in their ongoing campaign of emptying the house for sale by boxing up and sorting through my assorted posessions. It is the end of an era, and I’d be lying if I said that I was not at all saddened by the idea of our family giving up the home that I have known for 25 years, and that has played host to parties, anniversaries and more quotidien but no less important moments for not only the four of us, but also family and friends. Broughton House has long been a bustling place, filled with friends of mine and Ed’s, not to mention my parents’, and I will be personally sad to give up my perfectly laid out room, comprised of shelves ad precious little else, but all things must end; change is an inexorable force in life and one can only fight it for so long.

Anyway, enough musing on that – back to the accounts! (so to speak)…


So it has been a while…

I have been more than a little remiss… What can I say, life has been a little bit busy, exciting and thoroughly enthralling over the last few weeks; where to begin?

The first thing that came into my life that was new and is now __still__ exciting was the beginning of my new relationship with Lee-Anne. This Friday it will be eight weeks since she and I met up to have a couple of drinks in Jubilee Gardens, by the London Eye on the South Bank. I was unsure as to whether or not this was a “date”, half expecting to be introduced to a handful of her other friends as her new ‘friend’, but she arrived alone, and I was suddenly very glad that I had not invited various others from my work. By the end of the evening we knew that something was “going on”, and it was actually only a week later (well eight days later) when we changed our Facebook Statuses to “In a relationship”, after a magical night in London that I will describe simply as a fantastic and auspicious beginning.

Of course as one thing starts to go right one should expect something else to go a little awry… I was made redundant from Rivermuse (the company I was working for) in early July and suddenly I was thrown into a mixture of confusion and relief, as the fact of my “five year plan” being pulled away from me began to sank in. Still, after taking some time to think and explore my options I made the decision to return to contracting, and so I embarked upon setting up a limited company and finding an accountant. Clearly I was also pursuing contract jobs and juggling calls with recruiters, but all of that whirlwind has now ended today with the start of my new contract position at the BBC.

I am hoping to pay a little more attention to this blog from now on, but forgive me if my intentions don’t match up to the reality…

While I think of it, I shared a Tube carriage with Jeremy Paxman on my way back from work this evening; he was very nice, but then I didn’t “fanboi” all over him, I just smiled and said “hello”… I was desperate to engage him in conversation, but I was rather aware of how pleased he seemed to be that I wasn’t doing that, and so I restrained myself.

Anyway – ttfn!