So little friction (Jun/Jul 22)

  • Ro had been going to swimming lessons for a while. While most of the class was pretty inert, Ro felt her feelings: loving some bits, absolutely wailing through others. During one fit of crying in the sixth lesson the instructor started telling the rest of the class ‘the thing is to ignore the baby crying, because they’ll just learn that if they cry Daddy will come and help them’. I was furious and extremely British about it, and just left with her there and then. Haven’t gone back. 
  • I haven’t got clever ways of putting this: I’m absolutely fine with Rowan learning that if she doesn’t want to do something she doesn’t have to do it.
  • None of this has stopped us just taking her swimming. She bloody loves it. Turns out she just hated shit lessons from shit teachers.
  • I got a whole game of Ash Wastes in. Not as gnarly as the Gorkamorka/Necromunda mash-up Alex wrangled a few months back, but still dumb and techy and cinematic and delightful. Hoping for another game… sometime?
  • We also stayed a few days at Mum’s, working remotely before taking some time off. So nice to watch Ro be around people long enough for the shyness to wear off and just babble away with them.
  • On the way back from Mum’s we spent a few hours at Wisley, in what (at the time) felt like unbearable heat. SPOILERS: it got warmer…
  • Heatwave was rough. We made some changes at home that made things as easy as they could be for us. I left the house for long enough to move the bin (twice, obvs). Completely draining.
  • BUT/AND there was a lockdown-like buzz to it that I actually “enjoyed”. A strange energy about keeping things close and getting through a thing. It’s so ugly to notice those reactions to stressful situations. It doesn’t feel like a proportionate or positive trait.
  • Finally got over to France to see the home Dad moved to mid-pandemic. Farm life seems to suit him. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the resident Little Owl family hunting and calling to one another. And feeding Ro bits of freshly baked croissant.
  • Thor 4 was fine. Fine to bad, maybe. A fun film, but not a good film. I tried reading the second book of Marlon James’ Dark Star trilogy, but the constant threat of sexual violence was too much. I tapped out and finished The Expanse books. Felt sad to leave them behind. I don’t think I ever quite connected to the last three books I did to the first six, but I still enjoyed the span of it all. Starting a comfort re-read of the Blue Ant trilogy now.
  • The Bród summer edition (a Koji Oat Tempeh Bánh mì) was absolutely incredible. Would Bród again.
  • Lots of new feature development at work over the last couple of months, but I’m especially pleased with how quickly we changed the internal overview pages, with so little friction. Changes like that have such a big potential for change rage, but we did enough, quickly, to keep things working nicely.
  • We got a weekend down in St Leonards to wrap up July. An abortive start: Ro was full of cold, and we drove home at midnight on day one. But the following morning we went ‘fuck it, let’s have another go’. All in all a glorious few days. The food especially. Just wonderful. Goat Ledge, Half Man! Half Burger!, Starsky and Hatch, Pizzarelli and Liban Coast were all banging, as was Maggie’s in Hastings. Very high chance we’ll go back next summer. 
  • My back’s in a much-improved place. Very pleased that’s come good. Still got to be vigilant about it and not stress it too much, but it’s nothing like it was a few months ago.

Continuing pay-off (May 22)

  • May remains the best month.
  • My sciatica has reduced a huge amount. My hips and sacrum are still not quite in sync, so I’m not exactly pain-free, but it’s a world away from the distracting pain of March and April.
  • Ann and I went on a couple of trips during our birth week. Family visit down to Mum’s was a treat, introducing Ro to her other great grandma (‘Nanny’) and sharing plenty of giggles.
  • The three of us went for a walk in the woods near Mum, stopping at a bench to feed Ro. She fell asleep as it started drizzling. After ten minutes waiting it out, the tree sheltering us got too saturated and started dripping through. We set off *just* as the rain really kicked in, arriving back at Mum’s soaked through. Ro slept through the whole thing, still feeding.
  • Very lovely memories made at my Grandma’s. She’s not super mobile these days, but that didn’t stop her scooping Ro up and zooming her around the sofa.
  • We also took her out to Whitstable for a couple of nights. First time out to the sea, and the first time in a long while for Ann and I. Gorgeous.
  • Special shout out to Samphire, who made the three of us feel super welcome over a very lovely lunch.
  • The background to all this for Ro was the slow-burn emergence of her first tooth. SHE’S BASICALLY ALL GROWN UP NOW.
  • We discovered that tooth during [Arab Strap voice] the first big weekend of the summer (the four-day weekend isn’t technically May, but spiritually really has been). Trip to Eagle Heights on Wednesday, Ro started tasting solid foods on Thursday, tooth came through Friday. Pretty good going for a bank holiday.
  • Saw a sparrowhawk in the garden again!
  • I did manage some work either side of these adventures, where planning for the summer was in full-effect. Also saw continuing pay-off for the workflow changes I made late March, which was very satisfying.
  • I’m enjoying Drag Race All Stars: All Winners because of the absolute lack of jeopardy. Most of the queens are great, they have a heap of respect for one another, and it’s very very light.

See out Brooklyn (Apr 22)

  • Felt like we (Ann, Rowan and I) hit a bit of a routine in April. I know that’s fleeting with babies, but home has a pretty normal pattern these days.
  • This pattern means I’m in bed extremely early and awake extremely early, but getting a decent whack of sleep most nights.
  • We managed a few trips into town with friends and family through the month, as well as a trip down to Mum’s over the bank holiday. These all, in the moment, feel like massive milestones. And then they’re just in the rear-view and the next one looms.
  • Rowan’s more and more Rowan. I don’t know how else to describe it.
  • My back pain has shifted into sciatica (which supports my osteopath’s theory that I actually slipped a disc back in March, albeit not particularly badly). I have regular treatment and exercises… and also constant, distracting pain. It should pass, if I keep up the treatment and exercises. I just need to keep an eye on when things cross a line into ‘It should have passed by now’.
  • At Juno, some delightful, tactical work through the month. I shifted gears into doing workflow development alongside investigating with Etienne and Tristan what to do to unstick work for our lawyers. I got quite a kick out of seeing the impact of that, doubly so because it had a tangible impact on our revenue.
  • Still ploughing on through The Expanse novels. Still enjoying not having to picture much new stuff. I don’t know why folks turn their noses up at watching the adaptations before going to the source material – when it works it’s joyous.
  • After a lacklustre first episode, I am enjoying Derry Girls swansong.
  • I will see out Brooklyn Nine Nine. It is what it is.

Burn through (Feb/Mar 22)

  • Back to work. Most weeks have had a new, relatively tightly-scoped project to burn through. I enjoy that kind of work, but/and it also makes stepping back and looking forward tricky.
  • When I’m in I’m on, so there are days I find coming out of the office and into home whiplash-inducing.
  • It’s been amazing to get other kinds of interactions in though, after a few months of just being baby-minded. In the first week I felt like a thirsty plant guzzling water. To get time to do something you know you’re good at – in the midst of months of guessing around a baby’s needs – is a heady feeling.
  • Ro remains amazing. She’s giggled a few times and that has been exquisite.
  • Weird to be able to notice the difference between types of giggle already. But yeah, the few full belly chuckles she’s given are such a contrast to the squealbarklaugh she blurts out.
  • Ro’s first cold was deeply miserable. I got it too, and we were super-fortunate that it bounced off of Ann. That it coincided with our first holiday as a three was a big shame.
  • BUTbut but. Two nights away! Just us! A family! It was brilliant. Awful but brilliant. We watched a barn owl hunting under a rising full moon. I lit AND KEPT LIT a log fire.
  • After a few months of strapping Ro up to me for stomps in the morning, my back gave out at the start of March. Agony for a few days. Osteo appointments, regular exercises and a sit/stand desk have moved things on a long way, but it’s not fully better. And slings and baby carriers are out of bounds for at least another month.
  • That’s maybe the first thing to hit me as a ‘Dad failing’. I’ve struggled to even hoik Ro out of the crib at times, and I’ve felt like an ass for not giving my back the attention it straight-up demanded over the last 15 years.
  • Picked up therapy again, because it’s been an intense few months years. The back was the final straw.
  • I read a book! A whole book! First of the Expanse series. Essentially using the fact I loved the show as a crutch: I didn’t have to work so hard to picture anything.
  • Loved the second series of Starstruck. Though – a bit like Fleabag’s second – I found the uncertainty around how long the series took place over to be a bit of a lurch.
  • Still persisting with Great British Menu. The good weeks are great, the slow weeks are endless.
  • Some shows survive binging better than pausing. The second series of Bridgerton was great when we burned through the first five episodes over a lazy Sunday, but the stop/start viewing since has killed it.
  • Joe Pera Talks With You was a joy.

“Quality varies” (Jan 22)

  • Bullet notes, in the style of Alice, probably the best way to get back in the swing of writing
  • January has shown that I can now only start books, never really read them. This didn’t stop me buying eight of them, of which I got about forty pages into Smiley’s People.
  • Those pages were quite good
  • Ro was diagnosed with tongue tie at the top of the month, treated for it a week or so later. The aftercare was brutal on us all – feeding every three hours, which came at the cost of sleep (30mins at a time, tops). She’s now re-learning to use her tongue, a concept totally wild to me. She’s doing well for it, and Ann’s in a way better place.
  • Calm TV has been the name of the game while we get Ro to sleep in the nights. Gone Fishing has gone through about three rewatches, with different chunks of each episode actually going watched each time through. Something about the locations, the humour and the glimpses of sincerity just hit the spot.
  • There are a few walking shows on iPlayer too, mixing drone and handheld 360 footage, that are a very lovely pace to settle her to. Quality varies depending on walker, but I really enjoyed the Jim Moir journey to Dungeness.
  • We kicked off The Crown too, which I’d avoided because I figured it’d be a bit Downton. I was pleasantly surprised, the first couple of series were really engaging. But after the cast regenerated for series 3 I’ve found it a bit of a slog.
  • Sorry to see The Expanse come to a close. Another show where the quality flew all over the place, but I grew to love it all the same. I’m casting around for shows with a similar vibe (less the sci-fi so much as the broad ensemble).
  • Back at work tomorrow. It’s been nine weeks since I was last in, so I’m fascinated to find out what’s changed.

2021 yearnotes

Wrote this a few weeks ago, but only just noticed I hadn’t hit publish. Put it down to sleep deprivation…

Rowan

In December we were joined by Rowan.

The hidden subplot for 2020 was that we’d been trying to have a baby. It was pretty emotional, given that a couple of times we thought we were on the way.

In spring 2021, after a little bit of treatment at Dulwich Women’s Centre, Ann got pregnant. It was a relatively smooth pregnancy until the final stretch (as I now understand many are). That resulted in us going in for an induction. Six very long days and nights later we left hospital with Rowan. (Shout out to Chrissy and Kieron, MVPs who got us where we needed to be and kept us sane).

Our treatment in hospital was great. Since birth, the combined force of COVID, cuts and raw ineptitude have left us in a somewhat ropey condition. If you see Ann or I in person this year, be gentle. The last seven weeks have been brutal. But Rowan is a wonder.

It’s way too soon to say who Rowan’s going to be, but I can tell you that she’s started smiling and babbling to us. But that’s a 2022 story.

Sheringham

We got away for a few trips, and the best break was up to the north Norfolk coast. 100% a new ‘family’ destination for us.

Work

I’ve been on parental leave at Juno since Ann went in for her induction. I’m finding not being in the team very weird: so much of the rhythm of life since the start of the pandemic has been shaped by work. I miss them.

Plus, it was another intense year. The government’s stamp duty incentives put weird pressure on the market, and led to a bunch of parallel crunches on resources. That was compounded through the year as the single March deadline became two. We steered a pretty good course through it all, blending tactical product decisions with pragmatic operational ones.

The internal services have taken huge leaps forward over the last twelve months, and the gains we were making on completion times and inbound contact around the time I left were awesome. I spent a lot of time hiring, which remains an area of weakness for me, but we got a few more great folks on board.

I’ll return to a larger team, who’ll have had a couple of months adjusting to a new working rhythm under Swells’ direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what that means for me. It feels a bit like starting a new job.

Hobby

2021 year saw me paint both my best single model and my most hurried collection. Doing 30mins a day held until October, when baby prep took over.

In all I painted up my mausoleum terrain, most of the Cursed City box (hastily), a Marine, The Red Gobbo, a Nighthaunt warband for Warcry, my Ash Wastes vehicles, a couple of new crew for my Cawdor warband, and the 1999 model Aenur, Sword of Twilight, which I put a lot of attention into. 50-60 models, all told.

I also got to play a few games of ‘Ash Wastes’, a game Alex kitbashed from the rules of Necromunda and Gorkamorka. It was delightful, messy, and ugly to photograph.

Little chance of getting back on the wagon in 2022, but if I can paint up the Warcry warband Ann got me for Christmas I’ll be happy.

Things and stuff

Honestly, I’d usually write something about stuff I enjoyed that wasn’t a holiday or a baby, but I can’t actually remember any of it. I need to keep monthnotes again.

I remember getting very into Blue Weekend by Wolf Alice, soaking up the sounds of Max Richter in Crystal Palace, and binge-watching Gone fishing with Ro over Christmas. Everything else is a bit of a blur.

What’s next

I have very little sense of what’s in store this year: my daughter is an agent of chaos and the covid of it all could still tumble the year a bunch of directions.

I’m… excited? Well, no, I’m honestly too tired to be excited. But I’m feeling very open to 2022, which is all I could ask for right now.

2020 Yearnotes

A bit late, but given 2020 seems to be more a state of mind that’s fine.

Lockdowns at home

Well, I reckon I covered some of this back in November, but if I was going to be locked down anywhere it’d be the home Ann and I have. It’s been good to us. We have regular visits from a woodpecker and a pair of sparrowhawks now, and my study’s working out a treat.

woodpecker on the feeder

Obviously there’s been a lot of homecooking, the range of which has been delightful. Greenfeast got a lot of play, as have all the Meera Sodha books. Supplemented that with orders from 161, our local. They’ve been consistently better than every mealkit or takeaway we’ve had through the year. So good.

I’m gutted I haven’t been able to welcome family into it much though. My Grandad died in the summer, my Gran had a hip operation go wrong, my Dad moved to France. This year in particular I’d have liked to have been around family much more.

Wells Park

Not the major trip to New Zealand we’d expected at the start of the year, but it’s been beautiful watching the local park change through the seasons.

Work

A tough year and a good year. (Generalising wildly…) Spring and early-summer was about tactical product development – work designed to make sure everything stayed stable while we used furlough and kept an eye on what the housing market was going to do. Late summer/autumn we started working on some longer-term projects, developing a solid set of features we can now double down on. “Moving the line of automation forwards” in Swells words.

We’re starting 2021 in a strong position, and given the context of 2020 that absolutely humbles me. I work with very, very good people.

My own habits and patterns have gone through a few changes. Working from home has suited me. I can typically play through more complicated bits of work faster than I used to in an office. Having the privilege of a dedicated office has been essential. If I’d been kitchen-tabling it I think I have done what Giles did and hired some space for typing.

The last month or so I’ve tried to make sure a greater proportion of my time is spent checking in on projects. I’m trying to make sure I have the capacity to steer and input, rather than filling my working hours with small bits of workflow development. The completer/finisher in me definitely gets more satisfaction from making those small changes and shipping them. But it’s not the work I need to be doing. I don’t know how that’ll develop over 2021, trying to actively listen to that though.

Mid-Lockdown 1, we bought a subscription to Spill after a tip from one of the conveyancers. I’ve used it. The sessions I had late summer were pretty essential for helping arrest a burnout cycle I’d entered. I’m proud I work somewhere where mental health support is available.

I’ve worked a few jobs now where the mental health chat has been good, but the expectation is still that folks will suck it up and work through burnout. That doesn’t feel true of Juno. It’s still hard work, and some of that work is still stressful, but I feel okay about asking for help or admitting I’ve reached a limit. (That doesn’t mean I do so quite as quickly as I should… but that’s on me)

Time in front of screens

Yeah… watched a lot of telly this year. Not loads else to do. I went through the Zoom quiz faze, had a patch of having news tabs open a lot, perma-muted a lot of WhatsApp groups… basically checked off a lot of ‘new normal’ bingo.

A lot of comfort rewatching: Taskmaster, The West Wing, Parks & Rec, Poirot. Ann’s now taking me through Schitt’s Creek. Not doing the monthnotes has meant I’m drawing a blank on whatever new things I picked up. I’m dipping back into The Expanse and The Manadalorian. I bugged out of Normal People. Doubled down on Spring/Autumnwatch. I think Chris Packham’s opening monologue from Springwatch had an outsized impact on how I was feeling at the time. That and Daniel Kitson’s lockdown piece. Both of those landed with a thump.

Very few films. Most are much too long. Enjoyed The Vast of Night though, and the usual set of Christmas movies.

My sister’s been teaching extremely chill online yoga classes twice a week since early lockdown 1. That and the oblig Yoga with Adrienne have become a fixture. I feel really good for it. I feel… less inflexible? Not ‘fluid’ or ‘supple’ or anything so graceful. But I don’t have the pain or stiffness I had at the top of the year with it.

Reading’s been all over the place. I raced through Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, a few things the size of To Be Taught, If Fortunate then hit a midsummer wall. A few hobby-related books, none of which had much quality to speak of (not always a given).

Hobby

Progress on the hobby front has been fitful. I went through a sharp boom/bust cycle a few times, making pockets of progress on things. At the start of lockdown 1 I worked on an old Gorkamorka model – one I’d owned as a kid but never painted – which was super-satisfying.

In September I realised I needed to change up the hobby pattern. I now do around 30mins painting every weekday. It’s sharpened my focus on what I can accomplish, and massively curbed my spending (I used to try and buy my way out of painting lulls, leading to a backlog of unpainted models I was never likely to get around to). That’s resulted in a fully-painted Escher Gang for Necromunda.

I’m now working on a converted gang for a one-off campaign my gaming group might run post-lockdown. Really fun extending my kitbashing skills for it, and it’s nice seeing a few people’s work come together remotely, despite the everything.

What’s next

I was extremely fortunate to have the 2020 I had. 2021 is starting on hard mode though: Lockdown 3 doesn’t seem like it’ll be a short one; colleagues are isolating with COVID; friends are struggling with money – especially the freelancers; family are starting to be vaccinated… but it’ll be a long while before I can see most of them. I don’t know when I’ll feel like I’m in a new year, but I definitely don’t feel like it’s started yet.

Typing in the garden

I’ve just made mince pies, which is as good a reason as any to publish a blog post.

 A really nice mince pie

Back in February, Ann and I had a weekend in Oslo – first holiday of the year. We spent most of it in the hotel room, watching NRK’s (delayed) live broadcast of the ferry around Svalbard, as well as catching up with our friends on the fjord. It was extremely chill, and very lovely. We came back from it saying ‘We should do more of this at home’.

Reader, you will not believe what happened next.

It’s 230ish days since the start of lockdown one. Both of us have been working from home for the duration. It’s been about as good a version of [gestures at everything] as we could have wished for, on the whole.

(Using italics there because Ann got COVID. She is okay, but being ‘okay’ has taken a lot of effort and healing)

Home has been *excellent* though. We moved about 18 months ago, and were pretty much settled by Christmas. We have a lovely little garden, which we’re slowly making ours, the rooms are pretty roomy, and we both have an office.

I’m typing this in the garden, likely one of the last chances to do so this year. There are two parakeets squabbling over the bird feeder, sparrows flitting around the bushes, and a robin scrounging for… nope. One of the neighbourhood cats has just vaulted the fence.

I told Alice we were “Springwatch-curious, pre-lockdown”. We’ve gone in hard since.

Our garden list includes goldfinches, goldcrests, blue/coal/great/long-tailed tits, loads of pigeons, starlings, blackbirds, wagtails, wrens, a nuthatch, magpies, jays, crows, a semi-regular greater spotted woodpecker, a sparrowhawk (it was like a thunderbolt – completely amazing) and a probable kestrel (definitely hunting, smaller than the sparrowhawk, chased off by magpies).

We’ve invested in candles – that’s been a thing – and made changes/fixed things in fits and starts. I have felt very protected here. I also regret not getting more people over when we had a shot at that in the summer. But… it’s been such a good space for us that thinking about inviting people into that space is hard.

(I’m typing this, in part, so there’s muscle memory for “2020 in review” blog post in a couple of months. Whatever rhythm I expected to have with writing this year, the year had its own ideas.)

2019 Yearnotes

I always like Nat’s yearnotes and every year I mean to write some. So I have.

Home

Ann and I bought our house in April. It was almost instantly an adorable home. There wasn’t much we had to do to the place and, to be honest, massive home improvement isn’t on the horizon. We got bird feeders up within days of moving in, curtains soon after, and it’s been a wonderful, comforting base through Winterval.

I have also cooked, so much. Three books in particular have taken a hammering: Flavour, Fresh India and East. At Christmas I “got Ann” both volumes of Greenfeast, so I’m excited to see what bubbles out of that. Probably the simplest, luxe-looking stuff.

Basically, I spent a lot more if the year nesting than I expected. Fewer weekends away than past years, fewer jaunts beyond the commute-route. That has been a warm and welcome thing, I absolutely love that we’ve found a place where that feels right. And/also in 2020 I’d like to venture a bit wider again. Bought myself a new walking jacket a few days ago as a promise of time outside.

Culture

Nesting made for a TV-heavy year. And, looking back through the ‘stuff I liked’ posts, a few jump out as making a mark: Chernobyl, Russian Doll, Atlanta, Succession, Watchmen. Nothing that hasn’t been on every end-of year list.

Watching Deadwood for the first time was terrific. I’d love to go back to that sometime soon. It felt like a Punchdrunk production. I got a similar feeling re-reading The Luminaries: intimate and thoughtful portraits of people caught up in a gnarly whodunnit.

Three films stand out. Into the Spider-verse and Knives Out I adored for being fun, confident films made by people who seemed to genuinely enjoy their work. Avengers: Endgame I found to be a cathartic closing off of that whole world. I certainly don’t feel like I’ll be rushing to see more of the Marvel movies, or chasing down the TV shows.

Work

I still work at Juno, and I still really like my job. I’m really happy to be able to say that. The work is stimulating, I enjoy wrangling a working product, and I work with great people. It is also very hard work.

This year my responsibilities expanded pretty dramatically. I’m part of the management team, I line manage a few people, I help plan and run the product. There are parts of that I’ve come to be pretty good at – I have a solid sense of what a thing should do and how to scramble at a problem. I’m less stable on business development, and I need to double down on some of the people management things I came to late in the year.

I do want to think a bit about the difference between ‘things I have learned to do’ vs ‘things I have learned to do at Juno‘. Those questions plagued me after leaving my last job(s), so I’d like to give them space to breathe in a workplace I’m happy in. To that end, I want to find time to write critically/thoughtfully about my work. Might not publish it on here, but it’d be nice to carve that thinking time out.

Hobby

A really good year for gaming and painting. I picked up two painting trophies, played a full league of Warcry and got a couple of tournaments in too.

I have found a nice focus to be in smaller-scale stuff. I have been super-proud of single miniatures and warbands, much less enthused by army painting or batch-painting. I feel the same about the games themselves: playing badly for three hours is not fun. Playing punchy skirmish games through in 45 minutes is hugely entertaining – even when I lose.

I’ve closed out the year with my best-painted model to date – Da Red Gobbo, above – and a bit of a promise for taking on only small-scale things next year. That feels like a good, sustainable energy to take into 2020.

North Coast 500

Sassetta and Iceland were lovely family holidays, and I got out to Oslo to teach a couple of times. But the trip of the year was probably Scotland. A week on the road around the top of the country felt wide and open and adventurous. I’d love another trip like that, so we’re going to plan one in New Zealand.

In summary

I had a good time in 2019. I’d like to do more of it in 2020, but better and different.

Stuff I liked in December

Finishing a re-read of all the Discworld books

I’ve had a slow-burn re-read of the Discworld books on the go for the last three years. That wrapped up after the collectors library release of Snuff and Raising Steam. It’s been a treat. As I wrote in March, the Witches books come out on top – Lancre and the Chalk are wonderful spaces to get lost in.

What I loved: character, adventure, magic. The world itself, which in one of upheaval and progress (not the entropy of a lot of fantasy/sci-fi). A central theme of the books is ‘the death of wonder’, and he’s great at showing the gentle, persistent struggle required to keep it alive.

What I didn’t love: the politics of the Disc doesn’t evolve much over thirty+ years of writing. Women are always being ‘remarkable’, wives usually dote and support as a priority, Ankh-Morpork is always ‘a melting pot’. In individual books, the references are small and throwaway. At the rate of one a month, it’s a much less flattering picture of the author.

These things gave Pratchett space to show a city full of folks who are one bad night away from being raging bigots. I get the sense that he had a lot of hope for people, but absolutely no faith in populations.

Warcry league at Bad Moon Cafe

It’s been great fun actually running a whole gaming campaign through to completion, and Bad Moon remains a terrific gaming venue. I’m excited to do another season in 2020.

Let It Snow

Of all the slightly-shit Christmas telly I watched this year, this was my favourite. Much better than it needed to be.

Maraoke

A great bit of video of Ann and I doing ‘Free from Desire’ by Gala sums up the night for me. Lots of fun, lots of dancing, stacks of singing. Start of a great Christmas.

Kermit doing ‘Once in a Lifetime’

Christmas

Christmas was great this year. We hosted two family events in the run-up and it was just the two of us on the day. Very chill, mostly pyjamas, no fuss (although I bumped into an old GDS colleague on a trip to the pub, because London). I cooked an incredible nut-roast, drank my body weight in prosecco, and that night we took a stroll through the unlocked park by the house. It was perfect.

A woodpecker on our bird feeders

Like spotting a celebrity in a corner shop. Not a Hollywood star, but definitely someone who’d won a BAFTA.

Leatherhead to Box Hill