Category Archives: Just for Fun

Happy 70th birthday, NHS, and thank you

Thank you for delivering me safely to my parents.
Thanks for all the eye tests and glasses.
Thanks for making sure I had healthy teeth despite my attempts to avoid brushing.
Thanks for looking after my sisters as they gave life to my nieces and nephews.
Thanks especially for nurturing the twins when they entered the world.
Thanks for saving my Dad’s life.
Thanks for helping our family through my Dad’s journey with dementia.
Thanks for saving my life. Twice.
Thank you for safely delivering my two wonderful children into the world.
Thanks for saving the lives of many of my friends, multiple times.

Thank you for doing all this for free.
Thank you for making sure we’re a healthy nation.
Thank you to all the staff for being so committed to doing the very best you can for patients, sometimes under immense pressure, with insufficient resources and inadequate pay. You are all heroes.



I’ve been wanting to get back out on my mountain bike for months. As much as pulling the kids along is great fun(!), there’s nothing quite like shooting through the trees, twists and turns of a good single track. So I made a last-minute decision to go for a ride today, and what a lovely ride it was.

Autumn is coming and there was a low sun pouring through the trees.

After spending some time working in town I walked home the scenic route. Minster Pool was unusually calm and the setting sun provided just the right amount of illumination to show off those first few yellow leaves of autumn.

It’s a beautiful place.

My Travel To-Do List

Having never been much of a traveller, getting a job that means at least two trips per year has led to a big change in my attitude about travelling. In fact, the day I joined the company I was in Lisbon meeting my new team mates!

Since then I’ve been to Park City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Vancouver, New York and Barcelona. It’s given me the thirst for more travel (especially to find good beer!) so I’m making a list of the places I want to visit.

  1. Brussels & Bruges (for the beer, of course)
  2. Florence (for the food)
  3. Japan (because I’m a short-arse)
  4. Seattle (beer again)
  5. Calgary (well, the Rockies, because I want to go stay in a log cabin in the snow!)
  6. Nova Scotia (for the cycling)
  7. Iceland (for the Aurora Borealis)
  8. San Francisco (I’m a techy, what do you expect?!)
  9. New Zealand (probably because of my hobbit feet)

New York, New York

Thanks to how awesome my job is* I recently spent a few days in New York.

It was the first time I’d visited New York and although it was a short trip packed full of meetings I got to see some sights 🙂

Highlights included;

  • My first (I think) propeller plane flight.
  • Seeing Untappd used in a bar was pretty cool, including my check-ins.
  • Drinking Black Ops, a New York beer, in a New York bar. Damn that’s a nice beer.
  • Seeing One World Trade Center and the 911 Memorial.
  • Riding (and trying to figure out!) the New York Subway.
  • Visiting the offices of CBS, Time Inc. (in the week they named Trump person of the year, no less!), News Corporation, New York Times, New York Observer, Interactive One. NYC is the media capital of the world, and experiencing the offices and (in some cases) the newsrooms of these global media companies was impressive.
  • Checking out the amazing (giant) Christmas ‘decorations’ throughout New York.
  • Eating some amazing food.
  • Visiting the Rockerfeller Centre, Times Square, Wall Street and seeing (from a distance, in a taxi) the Statue of Liberty.

My plans to visit New York just over two years ago fell apart, but this short visit has made me want to return again. It’s on the (growing) list!

*you can join me.

The SEO Prayer

Our Google, who art in Mountain View,
hallowed be your Matt Cutts.
Your Googleplex come,
your search results be done,
online, as it is in heaven.
Give us this SEO, and deliver our traffic,
and forgive us our keyword spam,
as we forgive those who spam against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from Bing.
For thine is the internets,
and the links, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

New Orleans

My job is so terrible at times. I had to spend a whole week in New Orleans at the beginning of March. Awful. Just awful.*

We stayed in the Garden District and worked at this lovely place:

We actually got a lot of work done – even working into one of the afternoons we had kept free for doing something fun! It was great to meet more of the team I work every day over the web.

Of course we also sampled the delights of New Orleans, including some great (and some unusual) food and drink.

We ate at The Rum House, Muriel’s, Sushi Brothers, Pho-Noi-Viet, Mojo Coffee House, District, Cafe Du Monde and Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29.

Exploring the Garden District and the French Quarter was a fun experience too. I found myself on the street in the Garden District.

To explore the French Quarter, we boarded the streetcar and for that we needed a JAZZY PASS!

…and the Streetcar was kinda cool.

After the brief ride we saw some sites, including the Mississippi.

One of the best things? Beignets from the world famous Cafe Du Monde. Sugar everywhere.

Oh and then there was street music.

As it happens, we saw one of the guys in that video again – playing for Walter Wolfman Washington at DBA. Quite the experience!

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend spending a few days in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Eat out always, and spend your evenings enjoying the copious bars and their live music.

* may contain sarcasm

Grassmarket Hotel, Edinburgh

A few weeks ago, for a work trip, I spent a couple of nights at the Grassmarket Hotel. It was a bit more interesting than the usual so I wanted to post about it.

Arriving at first, there was no-one to greet me which was a bit disappointing but it seems the bar next door is connected and someone quickly came through to check me in.

The room was small (okay, tiny) but much more interesting that your average.

The wall in my room at Grassmarket Hotel

It’s not everywhere that plasters the wall with Dandy covers, eh? I guess you’d call that quirky. It’s kinda fun, and makes you appreciate the place more than just somewhere to sleep which is nice.

Some extra special attention

They’ve made a nice extra effort to make the whole tea and coffee thing that bit better.

For a start you get mugs, not tiny cups – awesome for that first cuppa in the morning. There’s a proper teapot too, and a nice selection of alternative teas as well as the standard English Breakfast Tea.

There’s a big bottle of water as well and some nice big glasses to drink from instead of making do with funny tasting tap water.

You may have noticed the copy of the Dandy too 🙂 I didn’t read it, but it’s definitely a nice to have.

The bed was big and soft with four great, fluffy pillows that should suit any preference. For someone who struggles to sleep in a new place, I had a really good kip.

While the character of the place may seem to some like trying to hard, I like that it makes you smile a little and puts you at ease in what is a strange place, helping you relax.

If you ever need to go to Edinburgh, I’d suggest you give the Grassmarket Hotel a go.


I stole this idea from Matt.*

It’s been quite the year.

My mini-me had just turned one year old at the start.

I gave up seven years of freelancing to become a salaried employee again, with the fantastic Code For The People, who six months later sold me to Automattic.**

Lots of travelling was had. In August, I took my partner*** and the boy to watch my partner’s brother marry an American girl from Akansas, then I spent my first few days as an Automattician meeting my new colleagues in Lisbon. Right now, I’m in New Orleans meeting with the team again**** 🙂

On a bittersweet note my partner and I separated, but I’m now a father again to a little girl.

This year? Keep my job, buy a house.

* Matt being the new “big boss” (haven’t had one of them in over a decade!) who at only one year older than me is substantially more successful… grrr! 😉

** I’m absolutely not complaining!

*** Now ex.

**** Though today is the last day, so I’m mostly spending my birthday in airports…