France 2015

So a while back I had the “great” idea that it would be nice to take the girls down to France for a few days holiday during the summer on my own, no backup for the journey!  It would great to spend some time with Grandpa, Jane and Amelie, and in the course of the travelling between us we would record a few firsts:

  • First time I had spent more than a day (where a day is probably about 6 hours TBH) with any of the kids on my own.
  • First time either of the girls had been on a plane.
  • First time I’d used the hold luggage on a Ryanair flight, would it turn up?

In the end it all worked out pretty well, the first couple of days the weather wasn’t so great but that gave me a chance to upgrade the computer with a new hard drive, max out the RAM and install Windows 7 (old build was XP!) without taking time out of the good weather.  Gradually the weather cleared up and normal service was resumed with time spend in and around the pool and generally take it easy.

We all had a great time and I have to say it was actually surprisingly relaxing, the girls loved their time in the pool and enjoyed playing with Amelie.  I enjoyed spending time at Les Grand Coudrais (as ever) the girls behaved really well, and tried all sorts of food you would never get them to eat at home.

To be honest I should also write more here about it all, but to do that I should’ve probably written it on the way home, or just after getting back – I meant to ;-) (no really I did)

I’m very jealous of the lovely part of France that Dad, Jane and Amelie have made their home and if you’re looking for a great place to stay not too far away then I certainly recommend it, but if you want to go in summer 2016 you better book it quickly!


Have had to recently update my bio for a pitch document, clearly I’m getting better at this sort of thing (until the grammar police catch up with me) as this was my first attempt to make a more relevant, high level summary of my professional life.  I’d hire this guy, would you?

“David has worked with internet related technologies for over 15 years, from small CGI scripts for the BBC to the worlds first package collection service with TNT.  David has worked with various programming languages and database technologies to enable small and large organisations use the internet for business.  Projects have included working with TNT, Acer, Sky, Unilever, GSK, British Airways, Colgate Palmolive, BAT.  Technologies have included PHP, Python, JavaScript, MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB, various Cloud service providers and use of API based services including YouTube, Google Analytics, Twitter and Facebook as well as building mobile applications using PhoneGap.”

2014 by the (lack of) training numbers.

So 2014 wasn’t the best of year for training (following on from a fairly lack lustre 2013 if I’m honest) so how did I do – let’s look at the numbers.

Swim Bike Run
Count 2 1 41
Distance 0.8 km 28.68 km 274.44 km
Time 00:25:00 (h:m:s) 02:16:50 (h:m:s) 36:30:35 (h:m:s)
Elevation Gain 146 m 1,859 m
Avg Speed 1.9 km/h 12.6 km/h 7.5 km/h
Avg Cadence 58 rpm 150 spm
Calories 1,016 25,352
Swim Bike Run
Count 33 11 60
Distance 48.88 km 428.75 km 368.57 km
Time 20:25:21 (h:m:s) 23:28:15 (h:m:s) 37:39:18 (h:m:s)
Elevation Gain 3,022 m 9,903 m
Avg Speed 2.4 km/h 18.3 km/h 9.8 km/h
Avg Cadence 71 rpm 162 spm
Calories 5,019 15,332 30,600
Swim Bike Run
Count 9 14 40
Distance 7.63 km 277.51 km 259.31 km
Time 3:39:37 (h:m:s) 11:33:00 (h:m:s) 28:40:39 (h:m:s)
Elevation Gain 1,393 m 2,131 m
Avg Speed 2.3 km/h 24.0 km/h 9.0 km/h
Avg Cadence 78 rpm 160 spm
Calories 1,776 8,386 22,499
Swim Bike Run
Count 1 83 55
Distance 1500 m 445.97 km 229.58 km
Time 0:37:35 (h:m:s) 27:17:04 (h:m:s) 28:17:46 (h:m:s)
Elevation Gain 2,015m 1,305 m
Avg Speed 2.6 km/h 16.3 km/h 8.1 km/h
Avg Cadence 75 rpm 158 spm
Calories 412 5,020 2,1374

Ok so stupidly I’ve included 2012, when I was “training” for the Escape from Alcatraz just to really show how badly I’m doing, 2013 was a bit of a surprise, it doesn’t feel like I’ve trained since June 2012 when I crossed the finish line in San Francisco, but clearly I did a few bits and pieces.

So 2014 – the cycling is a line as it covers a lot of commuting on a Boris Bike, perhaps not the best training, but better than nothing and certainly better than the underground, and I would imagine the average cost of my gym visits was in the region of £50 a visit! (if not more)

And on to 2015, well I start the new year working from home for a few months which should give me some training time, been to the gym once already, which is a positive start, in fact since finishing work I’ve done 3 gym sessions, which is probably more than the last 6 months.

Target weight is considerably lower than the 92.1 Kg I was this morning, ideally back under 80 Kg but that will require a major effort. So I’ve sort of set my major goals, now to work out the smaller goals that get me there

Next stop 40….

….so today I’m 39


No really sure how that happened, just seemed to creep on my, celebrating it in the usual way by working.  Have received a couple of amazing things, one of which is a voucher to the Ginstitute which I’m really excited about doing, will have to find a couple of other people who are interested in going along at the same time, shouldn’t be too hard!

The other is a bottle of “Bathtub Gin” (there is clearly a theme here) which is a gin I haven’t had so that’s pretty exciting.

So there is a realisation that I’m probably the least fit I’ve ever been, maybe time for some introspection and some kind of change, I certainly don’t want to write a similar post to this next year (with the title OMG I’m 40 and fat(ter))

But first there is gin to be drunk…. (and then a midlife crisis to be planned)

Support Local?

So when we first moved into our current property we decided it would be a good idea to get the bathroom redone.  We got 3 different companies / builders and decorators to quote for the work but feeling the first flush of escaping from London (or some other madness I still can’t really explain) I thought it would be a good idea to go with the local company.  Support local I thought, the money goes back into the local economy and of course the companies reputation will be important so we’ll get better work.


Total disaster from start to finish took more than twice as long, a few leaks on the way and the stupid notion from the guy that we would want to fill the bath using the shower rather than having taps fitted.  I refused to pay the final invoice and never had a response back to my detailed break down as to why I wasn’t paying.  I later heard that the guy who “ran” the company left the area and trades somewhere else, clearly ran out of people to fleece.

First forward to last year and we have a leak again, no problem I think I have insurance that will cover this.  Well it sort of does, except it’s not the policy of Natwest home insurance to make good with a room, just sort out the areas that are damaged either by the leak, or in the repair of the leak.  So if I hadn’t insisted they would’ve replaced the tiles and boxing around the shower but were under no obligation to replace any other tiles in the bathroom to match in with the repair work.  Oh and within 6 months we had mould back on the walls and ceiling.

Yesterday as part of the preparation to (hopefully) sell the house we had a couple of Polish guys around to do some painting and make the place look better, and to sort out the mould in the bathroom.  I dug out the paint that had been used and pretty much at the same time as the Polish guy started chatting to his mate in fast Polish I noticed the problem.  The bathroom had been repainted by the Natwest approved contractor in ordinary paint, not bathroom / kitchen paint, just a bog standard tin of Dulux.  Explains the mould and the streaky effect.

So that’s twice that British companies have let me down in the space of 5 years on a single, simple job of making a bathroom nice for a couple and their young family to use.

No wonder some industries are so frightened of Polish tradesman, they are cheaper, faster and so far proving to be a lot better.  In half a day they have repainted the bedroom (walls and ceiling) done a first coat on the bathroom walls and ceiling, re-painted the inside of the window frame in one of the bedrooms and sanded down both sides of the front door in preparation of painting that, just two guys.  No wonder my local estate agent recommended them and is also using them to redo his entire house.

Oh and they are mad ;-)

Day 19

Another day, another language looked at, I must be the master of Hello World by now.

Anyway for the first time in a long time it was Java.  It’s in use where I’m working at the moment (along with some technologies I’m more familiar with) but following my mantra of “learning is fun” it was time to grab a copy of Spring Tool Suite (STS) install, and then find a Spring Hello World tutorial.

One train journey home and the box is ticked, now to try and find some more interesting tutorials to get a fuller flavour of Spring and why people (who like Java) seem to like it and rate it.  Certainly since I last tinkered with java having a more integrated tool like STS makes my life a lot easier.  From nothing to Spring based Hello World in a 10 minute train is quite nice.  In the past I think I’d got bored with playing with Tomcat and trying to get it working at this point ;-)

Day 11

Yep if I don’t keep this up I’ll lose count.

Today started off well with me playing with D3.js on the train on the way in, and also finding out that my RoR code that I have in Github had passed its tests in Travis-CI – ok so it had also passed the tests on my laptop but it had taken me a couple of steps to get the right YML file to make it work in Travis.  Thanks to this article on Stack Overflow I found the magic was to do with the Rake DB Migrate task (I was on the right track which was nice)

My .travis.yml file is now like this:

language: ruby
- 1.9.3
- DB=sqlite
- RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:migrate --trace
- bundle exec rake db:test:prepare
- bundle exec rspec spec/
bundler_args: --binstubs=./bundler_stubs

Which made things work, now every time I push my code to Github it will be grabbed and tested by Travis, overkill for a sample app with a known outcome, but good practice.

The down part was getting into the office I was working today and losing one of the rubber earbuds from my earphones, as I type this I’m listening to music in half stereo (not mono) and being subjected to the noise of my fellow commuters.

Once in to the office du jour it was down to some data and SQL checking, not too much of an issue except this was SQL including some lovely CTE queries that I hadn’t looked at in over 3 months, took a while to get going with it, and there were some changes to make (of course) with the client “helping” me write my code. Still managed to validate the results from the queries and client is happy and of course a happy client is what we all want.

So heading back home and more D3.js awesomeness. (and writing a blog post)

Day 9

Ok so I think it’s day 9, have lost track already what with the daily commute and working like I have a real job again.  Its been a crazy start to the year with people asking me about work from days gone by and just little bits and pieces coming in on an almost daily basis.  I’m not complaining, still massively fired up for 2013 and with the life changes expected to happen in H1 I need to be!

Weekends are no less relaxing with the joy of house hunting, we’re moving area, so first off we need to find an area of the country we like, the criteria is pretty stringent and important to us, personally I’m hoping that this will be our final area move for some time, and wherever we end up (Kent?) we are there for a while and can try and put down some real roots in the local community and make the house a real home.

Day 7

So a week back in the work mindset, well a week commuting on the trains so far this year anyway, and it is probably some kind of record, but I’m still enjoying it all, enjoying work, enjoying creating and crafting solutions, learning every day and I *know* I’m doing good work.  Using a lot of skills as well….

So far this year:

  • Cisco (sort of) L3 Switch config work
  • HP Switch config
  • VBA for Excel
  • MS SQL Server 2k8
  • JavaScript for Google Apps
  • Node.js
  • PHP (Expression Engine)
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Agile development using SCRUM

Early days of course, but I’m mainly doing it with a smile, so the mental side is going well, now to work on the physical side and get fit.

Day 4

So first full work week of the year, 5 days work in 5 days (maybe) as opposed to last weeks 5 days work in 2 ish days.

Good start to the day bumping into Andy on the Donkey into town this morning, took us both a while to work out each other was there mainly as we were both fully engaged with working on our respective laptops, oddly in two years of travelling into town by train, it’s only the second time I’ve bumped into someone I know and that happened in the last 3 weeks.  Odd.

Of course it did mean that my aim of continuing to work through the RoR Tutorial went out the window but it was good to have a catch up after we originally met at Full Frontal and found out after several drinks that we live about three miles away, another instance of small world.