One of my goals for 2023, and in fact 2022, was to pass the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam. I am pleased to say that, after a lot of studying, I have achieved that!
For those that do not know, AWS is Amazon Web Services – Amazon’s cloud computing platform, which essentially makes all of the tools that Amazon have developed to run their online store available to other organisations from Apple down to individual developers/bloggers, like me. I have been using AWS to run this blog, and a few of my other sites for a few years. I have also been using it a lot at work, as we are an AWS Partner. The AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification is the next level up from the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner qualification I achieved in 2020.
After a few goes at studying for the exam around work, and some disappointing results in mock exams, I joined an AWS instructor led accelerator program -an intensive five week course covering the content and exam strategy. I ended up taking a bit more than the five weeks to cover the content, but felt that it really helped. Unlike last time, where I took the exam remotely at home, I went in to the local test centre in Coventry, which was a lot less stressful than than taking the exam at home. It was also an excuse to get out on the bike, and treat myself to a celebratory ice cream afterwards!
As a family, one of our goals for 2023 was to get out for more family trips in the van. The first main trip we had planned was to Cruise to the Prom at Weston-super-Mare, mostly because it gave us a date in the calendar for a weekend at the seaside, but also because the event ticket was cheaper than paying to park for the day near the beach. As the event started early, we decided to make a weekend of it – staying in a hotel, rather than the van though.
After loading up the van we drove down to Cheddar Gorge – somewhere Jen and I had briefly stopped at ten years ago. We decided to do the clifftop walk, which started with the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder. Starting this way meant that we had to pay almost £20, which seemed steeper than the steps, given that most of the walk was on public rights of way! At the top of the steps, there was a tower – which meant another 48 steps to climb. The view from the top of the tower was good, but as we carried further along, and up, the cliff top path the views got even more spectacular (click on the panorama above so see the full image). The plan had been to walk to the “Pinnacles” section, but the boys seemed to be coping well, so Jen suggested that we did the full 5km loop back along the other side of the gorge and back to the village, rather than retracing our steps.
After the Pinnacles section, the trail was a lot quieter, but also rockier, but we took our time and made it down to the road at the top of the gorge. It was only the last few metres where we were able to actually see the road, as the top of the gorge is that far above the road. This was roughly the halfway point of the walk, we had to cross the road and walk back to the village on the north side of the gorge. The trail on this side seemed a bit easier, but only slightly. Owen picked up a big stick to help him over the rocks, although I think it was more for effect. On the way back, we also saw some of the goats that have been introduced to help with biodiversity. When we got back to the village, we treated ourselves to ice creams at Holly House tea rooms.
We drove up through the gorge, to get the alternative view of where we had walked, then carried on to Burnham-On-Sea, where we bought fish and chips and ate them on the beach and had a walk along the prom, before checking in to our hotel for the night.
In the morning we got up and out of the hotel fairly early to join the VWs and cruise to Weston-super-Mare. We arrived just after the gates of the garden centre we were meeting at opened, and there were a few other VWs in the car park, mainly Transporters like ours. What I had not expected was that VWs of all shapes and sizes, but mainly Transporters, would be flooding into the car park for the next hour. There were hundreds of them! However, when hundreds of cars, and vans, try to leave a car park at the same time it causes a bit of a jam, and being one of the earlier arrivals it took us a long time to get out as the car park emptied row by row. Then it was just a case of following the long line of VWs to the Beach Lawns in Weston-super-Mare.
When we had parked up we took a quick look through the fields of VWs – even more than had been in the convoy, but mainly used the show as a base to explore Weston-super-Mare. I had only ever driven through the town and along the promenade, and Jen and the boys had never been at all. After a late breakfast, I believe our first of the year eaten outside, we took a stroll down the promenade, stopping at the Grand Pier to play on the arcades, before continuing down to the Marine Lake – a nice tidal pool and beach at the north end of the town. We then walked back to the van stopping en-route for ice creams – it had been another day with a lot of walking! After wandering back through the VW show, we picked up our beach stuff from the van, crossed the road onto the beach and let the boys have some time playing in the sand.
After the beach we went back to the now emptying show as I had two things I wanted to do before leaving. I had finished building Henry a new bike (a hand-me-down from Owen) and wanted him to give it a test ride before he took it to school, for “Wheelie Day” a few days later. I also wanted to test out the awning, and awning rail, I had bought for the van. However, after getting the awning out of its bag and connected to the rail on the van, it became obvious that it was a bit too windy for an awning, so confirming that all the required pieces were there, we put it back in the bag to use on a less windy day.
Then there was just the small matter of the drive back up to Coventry. Henry said he needed to have a wee, then fell asleep straight away, so we decided to have a McPitstop at Cribbs Causeway. After which, the boys both stayed away all the way home – surprising after such a busy weekend! Cruise To The Prom is an annual event, and one that I hope we can go to again in the future, albeit maybe without joining the organised convoy to the event. The VW show added another element to a day out at the seaside and Weston-super-Mare was nicer than we expected. This is good news for Owen, as he will be going back there in a few weeks for a school trip!