- James Acres
2017 was a year where lots of things came together for me, including launching this new blog. I now live with my boyfriend in Somerset, South West of England - which is ideal for saving for the future while enjoying the fresh air, beautiful countryside and a more relaxed pace of life.
Similar to last year, I have been working part remote in the South West to focus, and commuting back across to the busier South East once a week. Being in the office allows me to lead a team of developers and get involved with face-to-face product strategy meetings. It also allows me to see family and friends in my hometown at the same time. So I get the best of both worlds.
I've also been working on projects outside of work, including running my Bubbly Clouds business as a sole trader, and doing Eurovision and Music data projects.
Month by month
The year started with a January trip back down towards Southampton to Brockenhurst, New Forest. We went cycling and walking through the icy cold forest, regularly jumping over giant frozen puddles, each gate we went through or climbed over felt like proceeding to the next level of the game.
In February I had three trips back down to Southampton University. I was doing ECS careers fairs and presenting talks to Computer Scientists about what sort of things we've been working on at Lumina to see who would like to join our team. At the same time I was working on our new Applicant Tracker for a large hotels chain. Stephen and I also had nice trips out in Bristol to see Moonlight, and a nice Thali curry.
March and April was preparing for and then moving house from Bristol to Taunton. I also managed to fit in some BBQs in Bristol before moving as it was hotter than expected, and once moving we explored the countryside now on our doorstep. At work we had a planning meeting for our new Product Framework in Bristol, and I was integrating with a third party applicant tracker with a company in Canada.
In May I was settling into our new house which included doing a bit of gardening and planting new flowers. Stephen got a new bike and passed his driving test this month too! So we started to explore the new area more. I also continued this planning for our summer projects over in Exeter with another of our remote developers, visiting Exeter by the River Exe and is always a nice trip and great to work somewhere different.
June is when things started to feel like summer, Stephen got a new car. I got a new table and chairs for the garden, where we had many BBQs and beers in the sun. I grabbed street food at Bristol harbour and went to Bristol Comedy Festival with Mark which is a yearly stand up comedy event with comedians you usually see on TV panel shows etc. At work we had our summer interns start which meant a lot of my time was spent introducing them to the projects we had planned over the past few months. We also did a work social at go ape, it was actually a really fun challenge despite having a fear of heights. Plus, time to relax in pub gardens.
July summer continued... there were loads of trips out and about in the country side. One day Stephen and I spontaneously booked a Friday off which looked like the hottest day of the year so far - this was probably the best decision the whole year, we went to Minehead and had a great day sunbathing on the beach. Also in July, a trip to London for a uni reunion with Mark, Sam, Matt for some bowling (I got several strikes and won!).
In August I continued exploring the Quantocks and Blackdowns with Stephen, thanks to his new Yaris. We also had a quick trip to Spain for a few days in the sun, although this was a little too quick for our liking and involved night time flights which wasn't ideal - but the lesson has been learnt for the future.
September started with a Lumina team social at an escape room to say bye to those who joined us for the summer, and hello to those joining us full time. This was an interesting time as we'd just had three successful summer projects and were now starting over again in some ways with more new people, so this was quite a challenge. I also spent most weekends catching up with friends and experimenting in the kitchen.
In October I took a day off and cycled from Taunton to Tiverton, plus went bowling and started playing badminton again - so it was quite an active month. I was also on stage with Lumina (out of my comfort zone again!) presenting my microservices and Identity Access Management strategy to partners, in addition to unveiling new apps and integrations with my team.
November, it turns out, is carnival and firework time in the South West with loads going on the whole month. I also started doing Park Run - it's tricky getting up 9am Saturday morning, but it's a great start to the weekend. November is also Birthday month for me, hello cocktails!
December - Stephen and I went to Dunster on the Steam Train at the start of the month to visit their Christmas by Candlelight event. This was like entering a filmset, it was very festive and like another world. We also cooked Christmas dinner for 8 with Stephen's family. At the end of the month it was nice to have some time off work and celebrate Christmas in Wokingham with my sister Steph and her boyfriend, plus Mum, Dad and Grandparents.
Overall it was a nice year which has left me feeling content. I balanced leading a super busy team at work, with lots of cooking and getting out and about in the countryside in the sun. I also kept in contact with the majority of friends at the same time with plenty of pub trips and curries.
I have found writing down my thoughts in blogs and journals to be enjoyable so far, so hopefully I'll be posting some more techy and personal things here soon.