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Hello 2022 👋

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    James Acres
Oscar, our new Cocker Spaniel ❤️
Oscar, our new Cocker Spaniel ❤️

Hi 👋 this is my first post in a while, so here's an update on what's been happening and what's to come.

The majority of the life goals I set for 2020 did not go to plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has restricted the past couple of years - the developer goals however were a success as I gave even more focus to work which has been busy throughout the pandemic.

Thankfully life in the UK at the start of 2022 is a lot more normal as we are helped by vaccines and milder variants, so 🤞 for a more "normal" year. I've just had a nice Christmas which I could actually spend with Mum and Dad this year, and saw my Sister and Nephew in the Summer without having to worry about what tier we were in and staying outside.. plus went to a best friend's wedding!.. so things are getting back to normal.

🐶 Dog walks

Stephen and I have a Cocker Spaniel Puppy ❤️! We welcomed Oscar home in August 2021. He has basically taken over our lives, and changed our routines, it's hard work but he's amazing. We now have walkies before work. It has been tough with early mornings and some sleepless nights at the start and trying to balance this with other parts of life. It's good to get out and about early as part of a daily routine instead of getting out of bed and straight onto work or attempting a "fake commute".

So this is a goal for 2022 - lots of dog walks and games! Plus dog friendly pub trips (after dry January!) and... UK trips, like we did to Peak District and Whitby last year, but with Oscar too.

🏡 House

What started with a leaking tap and a few cracked tiles led to us designing an entirely new Bathroom! Replacing our only bathroom in the house in a pandemic was a bit tricky, but thankfully we were also in a "bubble" with Adrian, Stephen's brother which made the whole thing more bearable and fun as we cooked for each other weekly and could visit each others houses for a change of scenary.

Bathroom Timelapse
Bathroom Timelapse

For a lot of 2020 we were allowed to exercise outside in our "bubble" only, so Stephen and I did various walks and cycling, and drinking beers and gin with shaved heads in our homemade pub garden - now painted white with lights and a pub bench. Our bedroom also got decorated with a bit of added sound insulation.

New garden benches and lights
New garden benches and lights

The main room left to upgrade is the lounge and dining room, we'll tackle this once Oscar is grown up and won't eat the new sofas.

👨‍💻 Personal Projects

In September 2021 I closed down my Bubbly Clouds web hosting and domain business. Costs were increasing rapidly from cPanel and WHMCS, along with a decrease in clients. I am now running a new Ubuntu nginx server at Linode hosting my own sites including this one. My next plan is to work on other side projects under the Bubbly Clouds name. The goal of these projects will be to learn new technologies while solving problems for fun. I am currently in the backend team at work, but plan on learning Svelte outside of work to dip back into full stack alongside Typescript and Node.js on the backend.

👨‍💻 Work

I have now been at RoosterMoney (now part of the NatWest Group) for 3 years. We started the year back in 2020 by Go Karting in London, then the pandemic hit. Thankfully we were already remote first, so covid working patterns were mainly only affected by lack of in person all hands. Since November 2021 we're now back in person again, this time with NatWest support 🚀.

Recently I have been doing a lot of work architecting and integrating the latest native app auth standards with OAuth2 OIDC. In the backend engineering team we have rolled out infrastructure as code with AWS using CDK, and automated our deployment workflows with Github actions. We have supported the launch of many great new product features, including reward pots and creating custom pots.

Auth and Security is something I am continuing to specialise in alongside the backend of payments and subscriptions. In addition to technical implementation I have goals to continue to be proactive in researching, specifying and documenting solutions and lead with gravitas as we continue to grow the team.

🏃‍♂️ Running and 🚴‍♂️ Cycling

I am restarting running, at least once a week. I've also been continuing to enjoy virtual cycling on Zwift throughout the pandemic and plan on continuing to do this once or twice a week, and getting out and about with friends when the weather is nice.

🎮 Gaming

I've been out of the gaming loop for a while, I was previously a big Halo fan on Xbox 360 and Xbox, and this is dragging me back thanks to Master Chief Collection bringing all the classic Halo games to PC... and now Xbox Cloud streaming of Halo Infinite. It is mind blowing being able to play the latest games in Google Chome on a Mac rather than needing to purchase a new Xbox or upgrade the Windows Desktop PC, thanks to Xbox CloudGoogle Stadia and a FTTP connection.

🎼 Music, Comedy and Shows

It has been a while since I last played Clarinet and created music, so I'd like to start this again. It would also be good to start attending events again, although having a puppy makes this a bit more tricky than before.

Before the pandemic Stephen and I saw The Big Moon at The Fleece in Bristol, then the pandemic hit and we've not been to any gigs since our Soccer Mommy gig was cancelled. Also pre-pandemic, we saw The Book of Mormon at Bristol Hippodrome.

Literally the weekend prior to lockdown in March 2020, I was with friends going to a comedy show at The Hen and Chicken where jokes were made about a virus from China, meanwhile spit flew towards us in the front row of a packed room. Fast forward to summer 2021, this time seeing comedy was now via a socially disanced outdoor comedy garden event at The Downs (Simon Amstell, Dara O'brien, Stephen K Amos, Tom Allen), where we had to sit in squares in our bubbles 2 metres apart which were painted on the grass - I actually enjoyed this and was just as good as being in a tent for the usual comedy garden.


2020 and 2021 flew by with all their weirdness, and things have been busy with new puppy, new bathroom and being busy with work. For 2022 I'm scheduling in quite a few things above and look forward to a good year!