My Fortieth Birthday

I only usually do birthday posts for the boys, but it was a big one for me today! The last few months have been pretty stressful, for various reasons, and plans for the day got changed, not to mention a birthday weekend away being cancelled. But in the end, it was just nice to have a day off work and spend time with family and friends.

After presents and cards with Jen and the boys, we got soaked walking to school. And then got home to a broken washing machine – it had sounded poorly for a while, so at least we already have a new one on order to be delivered later in the week! With the bad luck out of the way, the fun stuff could start – we took the MR2 to meet Partho for breakfast at The Barn At Berryfields. Given the poor weather, I had not been expecting to drive the MR2, but I figured that all of the rain overnight would have washed the salt off the road. It was good to get out with Jen in the MR2, even if it was just a short trip, with the roof up. Breakfast was tasty (as always at Berryfields) and not too big. It was great to catch up with Partho – he had made a card for me with photos spanning our 25 years of friendship, which was a really nice touch.

After breakfast, I packed the van and went to Leamington Spa to ride the new mountain bike trails on Newbold Comyn. It was cold and rainy, and my kit was still wet from yesterday’s even wetter ride, but I was not going to miss out on one of the few things that was able to go to plan. Even if my shopping trip to Leamington was scuppered by a too-good-to-miss Cyber Monday deal last week, and my Clockwork Evo, which I had hoped to ride, still being in bits in the garage. Jen had also hoped to do some shopping in Leamington, but her trip was replaced with a trip to her parent’s house to sort out the half-washed load of washing. I had a short but fun ride on the excellent trails – which were holding up surprisingly well given the recent weather. I can confirm that being forty is no barrier to jumping your bike and having fun in the mud!

By the time I got home and cleaned up, it was time to pick up the boys from school and meet my parents at Hickory’s restaurant for some BBQ food with my mum and dad. Dad convinced me to share the BBQ platter with him (I did not take much convincing) – it has been quite a few years since I last had the platter, so it was good to try the latest version, as it has all of the main things from the menu, which has been subtly updated in the years we have been going there. I will certainly be ordering some of the newer dishes on future visits. We came back home – to our newly refurbished living room(!) for birthday cake. Jen had asked me what I wanted, and I said “Devil’s Food Cake”, but it turned out that my mum has a unique take on Devil’s Food Cake, so Jen asked her to make it instead. It was a lovely cake, Henry also seemed to enjoy it, asking for a second helping. I am very lucky that both my wife and my mum make great cakes!

With the boys in bed, I ended the day with a wee dram of single malt, building the Lego Porsche that Jen bought me and thinking that as birthdays go, this has been a pretty good one!

Henry’s First Day at School

Henry, who still feels like the baby of the family, is starting school today! It is not as big a change as it was for Owen starting in reception, as Henry went to the preschool at school last year and went to holiday club in the classroom he will be in this year. It was nice walking to school and seeing all of Henry’s classmates from nursery, most of whom he had not seen all summer, it was also reassuring that he would have some familiar faces in his class. Henry only went to school for a few hours this afternoon, and I was surprised that parents were bringing the children into the classroom and getting them settled – Owen’s first day was in 2020, during Covid, so we just left him at the door. Having us there seemed to make it worse for Henry, but he soon settled down and was telling the teacher about our recent bike ride at Sherwood Pines, despite us not having ridden at Sherwood Pines for months. Hopefully, this was nerves, rather than mistrust of the teacher! I was quite proud that before we left him, he had already written his name in the writing area.

As with Owen, in addition to the mandatory photo by the front door, I asked Henry some questions, to record how he has changed over the years:

  • Height: 107cm
  • Shoe size: 11K
  • Bike: Frog 48
  • Favourite colour: Blue
  • Favourite food: Spaghetti bolognese
  • Favourite book: The Adventures of Paddington: Hide-and-Seek
  • Favourite thing to watch on TV: Alice’s Wonderland Bakery (an Alice in Wonderland spin-off on Disney+)
  • Best thing we did over the summer holiday: Going to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? He does not want a job, he wants to be a princess.

Owen’s First Day of Year Three

This year Owen and Henry are starting school on different days, so I am doing separate back-to-school posts. Stay tuned for Henry’s tomorrow – in the meantime, Jen and I are taking Henry for a special day out in Birmingham, before he starts school tomorrow.

Once again, the school holidays have flown by and Owen has gone back to school, starting in year three. Of course, after six weeks of waking up early, he decided to have a lie in this morning. I am sure that moving up to the “Junior” part of the school will be exciting for Owen, as they start to learn more exciting things, such as computer programming, there are also more options for extra curricular activities. I am sure that Owen will also be excited to see his friends again, he did see some at holiday club towards the start of the break but has not seen anyone for a couple of weeks whilst we were on our summer road trip. Towards the end of last term, there was a lot of karate talk between Owen and his friends, so we have started taking Owen to karate lessons. He has only been to a few so far, but seems to be enjoying it.

As usual, in addition to the mandatory photo by the front door, I asked Owen some questions, to record how he has changed over the years:

  • Height: 128cm
  • Shoe size: 13.5K
  • Bike: Orbea MX20 with a Haro Frontside 16 BMX for riding to school and a Vitus Nucleus 24 that he needs to grow a tiny bit more before he can ride it.
  • Favourite colour: Red
  • Favourite food: Pepperoni pizza with olives and pepper
  • Favourite book: The Beano Annual 2023
  • Favourite thing to watch on TV: Ninjago
  • Best thing we did over the summer holiday: Bike ride at Sherwood Pines, completing the red-graded “Outlaw” trail
  • When I grow up I want to be a: Coder

2023 Goals Update

I usually like to check in on my goals for the year at the end of June, but due to the issues with my blog server, I have reviewed them two-thirds through the year, rather than halfway through. You would have thought that would have given me more chance to check off goals, but we will see…

Pass the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam

Done! I cannot be too smug though, as it was a carryover goal from last year. Given how much time this took in the spring, I am not sure why I have committed to doing another certification, AWS Certified Security – Specialty in the Autumn.

Rebuild my Orange Four

Also done! Again, a recycled 2023 goal, but it has been great being back on the Four, especially at the Golfie earlier this week. I have been riding it so much that it needs a service now. The Clockwork Evo is also due a big rebuild – it was a good job I got the Four finished when I did. Fortunately, I now have Maurice, my new-to-me urban bike, for running errands around town, as the Four is too valuable to leave locked up outside shops. Currently, I have a commuter bike in the work stand for Jen, it was a freebie from a friend, but is taking a bit of time to rebuild, as I am not used to a lot of the road bike/SRAM components and everything needs a thorough clean.

Refresh my photography portfolio website

Not yet, but this is a good project for when the weather is rubbish.

Photograph more bike races

Another goal that I have achieved – I photographed the Cannock Chase Winter Classic cross country race in February, which I did not get around to blogging about, and the Racer’s Guild Downhill at Stile Cop in May. I hope to shoot a couple more races in the autumn too. Henry has joined the local cycle speedway club, so I expect that I will also shoot some cycle speedway races.

Take a wildlife photo I am happy with

I am not sure that this photo of a bee on a sunflower in our garden really counts… I have got better at spotting wildlife, both small ones in the garden, like the bee, or bigger ones when out and about, including a couple of herons and a buzzard.

Complete at least three 50km bike rides

This one is going to be a big fail – I have not even done one, nor am I sure when I will do one. I feel like I have been riding more often though, fitting shorter rides into my week. My longest ride of the year so far did not even reach 30km and that was on the 8th January. The Clockwork Evo is a better bet for long rides than the Four, so really should get that back on the trails again and see what I can do before the trails get too muddy again.

Ride 20km with Owen

Another fail, we have done a couple of 17km rides, at Llandegla and Sherwood Pines, but the full 20km has eluded us. It is getting increasingly difficult to get Owen out on the bike, although he enjoys it when we do get out. I am sure that he could do a 20km ride if he wanted to though.

Ride at Bike Park Wales with Owen

The plan was to go to Bike Park Wales in the summer holidays, but by the time I should have booked it, Owen had only done 2 MTB rides and I was not sure that he would have been able to safely ride downhill trails, so I had to give up on that idea. He has asked to go to 417 Bike Park though, which we may do between Christmas and the new year, as he will have a new bike to try out.

Ride at Bwlch Nant yr Arian

Not yet, but still on my radar. Partho and I had a trip planned earlier this month, but the planned full day trip turned into a brief trip to Cannock Chase, then we cancelled as the weather was rubbish

Ride some more of the “10 of the best XC trails in the UK” with Partho

At the start of the year Partho we doing well at getting out for monthly rides together, but life has started to get in the way. The closest I can claim to riding any of the “10 best XC trails in the UK” are riding some of the Glentress Blue trail earlier this week, and a few rides at Cannock Chase, including a full lap myself, and most of a full lap with Partho.

Tidy my office

Well it must have been tidy at some point, as I treated myself to a new keyboard and desk mat. It has got messy again though.

Tidy my garage

With all the ongoing projects this has not happened, nor have the 3 extra bikes to squeeze in to the garage. Although a tidy garage may help with the projects, so I should probably crack on with this…

MR2 jobs

The poor MR2 has been a bit neglected this year, at the bear minimum it needs a good wash.

Van upgrades

The van interior was insulated and carpeted earlier in the year. I also fitted a Loaded Bikes rail with fork mounts in the back, which makes transporting bikes easier. I also bought an awning. We have had some good roat trips, but other than testing the awning with the boys at Mallory Park, we have not had any day trips to set up the van and have a barbeque or picnic.

Monthly blog posts

Given that my blog was officle of the best part of two months, this is obviously a big fail!

Flagged emails

I had been making good progress on getting through my flagged emails, but currently I am on 595 (up from 536 at the start of the year), but my excuse for that is that I am on holiday from work and have recently been flagging a lot of emails to deal with on my return to work.

Get my weight down to 85kg

I think this is going to be a tough ask, I think I will be happy to get under 90kg by the end of the year! The trend of the year is downwards, but my last weigh in was before setting off on holiday and eating out a lot…

Life just generally seems to be busier this year, especially as the boys are getting more into their own things. Later bed times for the boys, and often having to work/study in the evenings after collecting the boys from school are reducing available free time, so next year I may need to slim down my goals accordingly.

AWS Certified Developer – Associate

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!

Henry’s Easter Holiday 2023

After each of Henry’s school holidays, his nursery asks us to send in some photos of what he has been up to over the holidays. As I have already collated the photos, I like to also share them on my blog – this time Henry helped to choose them!

On Easter morning, the boys hunted for eggs in the garden – Henry particularly liked this photo.

Later in the day we went for a big family lunch at Jen’s parents, Henry was very excited to push his baby cousin along when we went for a post lunch stroll.

It would not be one of these posts without a photo from the woods at the top of our road – we go there a lot. On this particular walk, Henry an I saw a buzzard!

Bonus baby photo

In addition to the holiday photos, this time we were also asked to send in a baby photo – Henry chose this one from when he was only a few days old. It looks to me like he is plotting something…

Henry’s February Half-Term Holiday 2023

At the end each term, Henry’s nursery set him (us) homework, to share a few photographs of what he has been up to over the holiday. Owen also had this homework when he was at nursery, but I did not think to share the photos on my blog. As it is a nice recap, I have decided to share them.

This picture is from our family ride at Hicks Lodge – Henry did so well riding the blue trail.

Photo: Bob Craik

The boys stayed with my mum and dad in the Cotswolds, and took a trip to Cogges historic farm.

On the way back (sort of!) from collecting the boys from my parents house we called in at 417 Bike Park for Henry’s first visit to “the barn of dreams”.

Photo: Jennifer Craik

Whilst I was photographing the Cannock Chase Winter Classic mountain bike race, Jen and the boys rode their bikes up to the playground at the local park.

Llandegla with Owen

Owen and I were meant to go for a long ride at Sherwood Pines today, as Owen’s goal for 2023 was to better his previous longest ride (16km). We had decided that Sherwood Pines would be the sweet spot of fun, but without too many hills. However, plans changed, and I needed to collect a Facebook Marketplace purchase from near Stafford, which is in the opposite direction for us, we could have gone to Cannock Chase, but fancied somewhere new for Owen, so we decided to continue northwest to Llandegla. After a long drive we arrived at Llandegla around lunch time, so had a quick ride around the skills area, green trail and pump track before getting lunch at their excellent cafe – bacon sandwich for Owen and a burger for me.

Photo: Owen Craik

The real fun started after lunch – we headed back up the climb past the skills area, and where we had turned off for the green trail. As Llandegla starts with a long climb, we took it easy with plenty of stops, to admire the view and take photos, such as the one above that Owen took on my iPhone. A highlight was when we were able to watch a forester machine chopping down trees and cutting the logs to size – the impressiveness of the machine was only surpassed by the obvious skill of the operator, stacking the logs by size as they went. Each giant tree took no more than a couple of minutes to cut, process and stack. What really struck me on the climb was how different everything looked from my last visit in 2019, it is a working forest, so some areas of trees had been felled, and in others, the trees had grown loads, it gave the ride a completely different feel.

At the top of the climb (519 metres above sea level, having started at around 350 metres above sea level) we treated ourselves to Creme Eggs – we had earned them! However they were quite hard to eat, as although it was sunny, it was a cold day and they had gone hard in my bag. Then we dropped in to the “Rollercoaster” traverse, which is shared with the main red-graded trail, before turning off down “True Blue”, what was already one of my favourite bits of trail anywhere was further improved by being lined with “Christmas trees”, Owen said it felt like we were in a video! It is safe to say that he also enjoyed this section of trail!

I felt a bit guilty after the next few sections of trail, as I had forgotten that there were more climbs, after the long initial climb – I always get caught out by this when visiting Llandegla, but Owen coped really well. As we made our way back to the van it felt like we were climbing more than descending, but as we were drinking our hot chocolates at the cafe after our ride, Owen told me that it was one of his favourite days on the bike ever! I was so proud of how he had ridden, not only on the climbs, but also on the fairly rocky downhill sections, which could not have been east on 20” wheels. As a bonus, it was also his first 18km ride, even though we had not set out for him to do his longest ride, and despite the climbing, he smashed his 2023 cycling goal!


Happy New Year!

2023 did not get off to a good start for me – being woken up by Henry before 8:00, then getting punched in the eye for not being his favourite parent – it was Jen’s turn to have a lie-in, which Henry did not appreciate. After that Hen went back to bed in a sulk to wait for Jen to get up.

Once again, Jen and I saw it the new year at home, but this year Owen managed to stay up for midnight with us! Owen and I have been working our way through the Star Wars movies, so watched Return of the Jedi – I was impressed at how he was able to stay awake and pay attention to such a long film. The film got us most of the way to midnight, and although Owen wanted to go to bed just before the clock struck twelve, we managed to keep him up to see in the new year and watch the fireworks on TV.

After the initial commotion, we had a quiet morning at home, even managing to get a few jobs done around the house and garden. After lunch we drove to Leamington Spa, to meet my parents. We parked at Newbold Comyn, and walked into town, via Jephson Gardens. Then my dad treated us to ice creams. After walking back to Newbold Comyn, the boys had a roll around the skatepark. Owen said that he had had a “lovely walk and a lovely ice cream”, which pretty much summed up our afternoon. We also had a quick peek at the new mountain bike trails under construction. The trails looked good and are one of the things I am most excited about this year – great trails within a thirty minute drive means that Owen and I will have a new regular riding spot.

We have not got much planned for the year – we had been thinking about a road trip to France, but with the new Entry/Exit System for the EU looking like it will cause chaos at the channel crossing, so we will wait and see how that pans out. We have got a few shorter trips pencilled in – Lego Land, a VW Show in Weston-super-Mare and hopefully a visit to my brother’s house in Kent. But before all that, we have a new sofa arriving next week! Something that I am not looking forward to quite so much is turning 40 in December!

As in previous years, I have set myself some goals for the year ahead:

Pass the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam

A recycled goal from 2022 – as although I did a lot of studying I did not take the exam. I need to pass the exam in the next few months, as my AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification from 2020 will lapse. And I promised myself a Fuji X100V when I passed – I have already bought it…

Rebuild my Orange Four

Another recycled goal from 2022, although I do not know if it is still a rebuild, given that the frame was replaced under warranty, so I am technically building up a new bike. Fortunately, I am most of the way there! I am waiting for my Four to be built up to ride the new red-graded trail at the Forest of Dean.

Once the Four is back on the trails, the Clockwork Evo is probably due a thorough service, after hard year in 2022.

Refresh my photography portfolio website

I have been using a Bootswatch theme on my homepage, which still needs a backend refresh, and I would like to carry that theme over to my photography portfolio website, which is hosted on Adobe Portfolio to tie them together. I could also do with updating the images, to include some more recent ones.

Photograph more bike races

Photographing the British Downhill Series mountain bike race was one of my highlights of 2022, and I would like to do some more this year.

Take a wildlife photo I am happy with

This was a failed goal in 2021, and one that has been in the back of mind since. My plan is to borrow a long lens from Fuji and spend the day at a nature reserve.

Complete at least three 50km bike rides

Rather than setting myself a year long cycling goal, I have decided to switch things up and target some longer rides. My longest ride to date is 48km, so 50km is achievable, but multiple rides should make it more of a challenge. I have got a few ideas for routes and hopefully my friend Partho will accompany me for some of the rides.

Ride 20km with Owen

This is more Owen’s goal, as he wants to beat his longest ride to date, which stands at 16km. I have no doubt that Owen will be able to beat this – I just need to find the right route. He rode 15km, on some of the toughest trails he has ever ridden at Coed y Brenin last year, but I do not want to make it too hard (hilly) or boring (riding along a straight/flat disused railway) for him. So I am thinking a return visit to Sherwood Pines may be in order – Owen has ridden the 14km blue-graded “Adventure Trail” there, so I am sure we could add in some loops of their red-graded trail to bring it up to 20km easily.

Ride at Bike Park Wales with Owen

Bike Park Wales is the biggest bike park in the UK, but well set up for kids. Owen and I have watched a few videos from there, and the trails look fun. Annoyingly we have missed the last few Little Rippers MTB group rides there. After our North Wales trip last year, I thought that a South Wales trip, with a possibly making a weekend of it with a return visit to Dare Valley Country Park to ride the main trails, as it looked like a good set up when we called in on the way to Bluestone in 2021.

Ride at Bwlch Nant yr Arian

Bwlch Nant yr Arian in Mid Wales has some great looking trails, and is also known for their daily Red Kite feeding – which is enough of an excuse for me to go for a ride. And may help with my wildlife photography goal. It also seems like somewhere that might be worth visiting with Jen and the boys as part of a Mid Wales trip.

Ride some more of the “10 of the best XC trails in the UK” with Partho

My best friend Partho shared an article with me called “10 of the best XC trails in the UK“. I have ridden a couple of the trails, and parts of a few more, but we have decided to try to ride a few more together.

Tidy my office

I spend most days working in my office, and other than what can be seen by my webcam, it is a complete tip. I still have my old iMac set up on my desk – it did not even get switched on last year, so I need to clear it down and get rid of it. I also need to move the artwork I hung on the dining room wall when I had my desk there a few years ago. As an incentive, I am going to treat myself to a mechanical keyboard when it is done, as I have been using the same keyboard at home since 2008.

Tidy my garage

As above, my garage is also a bit of a mess, with bike parts all over the place and not enough room to work on my MR2 Roadster.

MR2 jobs

This year marks ten years since I bought my MR2 Roadster, for the most part it has been cheap motoring, and very reliable, but I have neglected those little jobs that will prolong it’s life, things like cleaning the drain holes. The wheels could also do with a thorough clean and a good coat of wax. However, I’ll need to get the garage tidied first… There are also a few blemishes on the paintwork that I would like to get

Van upgrades

It is hard to believe that I bought my van three years ago – my plan had been to run it for a year to see how I got on with it, then make the interior a bit nicer, with carpet and insulation etc. The van has proved itself, and fits into our family life perfectly, so the interior upgrades are well overdue. It could also do with new tyres, possibly on bigger wheens, and I would also like to fit an awning rail to the side, so we can have some shelter when we park up. Family days out in the van are something that we want to do more of as a family.

Monthly blog posts

I feel like I have not been blogging as much as I would like the last few years, so in 2023 I plan to post at least once a month. Even if they end up being shorter posts, just sharing a photo and a few words.

Flagged emails

I currently have 536 flagged emails in my inbox, spanning the last ten years. At somepoint I have thought that there is something I need to do as a result of these emails, but either have not done, or at least have not subsequently unflagged the email. I am going to try to get this down to a list of tasks I genuinely need to do. I will attack it from both the top of the list, and the ten year old tasks at the bottom of the list, which I hope were not too urgent…

Get my weight down to 85kg

I have had this as a goal for many years, but never seem to make much progress on it, despite feeling like I am making more sensible choices when it comes to food. I am going to try to get a decent midweek bike ride in every week this year – working from home gives me the flexibility to take a long lunchbreak, so I am going to try to use that for bike rides, to hopefully help towards this goal.

Based on all these goals, it looks like 2023 is going to be a busy year for me, which should hopefully give me plenty to post about on here! Given my poor success rate last year, I have set up a document to keep track of them.

A Look Back at 2022

The main thing for me in 2022 was my new job as a software engineer in the technology industry – after fourteen years in the. automotive industry. I started my new role right at the end of 2021, but it was in the new year that I got a chance to get my teeth into it. My new team are great and have helped me find my feet. A year on, I have learned loads, more than I expected, even little things, for example I recently noticed that I was subconciously using the command line for git commands. I have also realised how much more there is still to learn, but the constant learning is one of the things I enjoy the most. The main thing is that I look forward to work every day!

Whilst work has been good in 2022, I did not have such a good year on the bike. After a decent start, I injured my knee at the end of May and had to take it easy for a few months. Then I had bike issues, and some sort of flu type illness at the end of the year that took me out for a few weeks. I did manage to fit in some good rides when I was healthy enough, 417 Bike Park and Coed y Brenin (both with Owen) being particular highlights. For the first time since 2016, all of my riding was on a hardtail, as my full suspension bike (Orange Four) has been undergoing a very slow rebuild.

Being off the bike gave me plenty of time for photography. Over the Easter weekend I borrowed an X100V fixed lens camera from Fuji, and loved shooting with it. Predictably, I eneded up buying one! It has been great for taking out and about with me, on bike ride, when I go to the office and on family trips out. One of my favourite days of the year was when I photographed a round of the British Downhill Series mountain bike competion – I had not realised how much I missed sports photography.

We had some good trips away, our main holiday was to stay in our friend’s cottage in Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast, it was great to explore a new part of the country and make memories with the boys. Jen and I even managed to get away for a few days without the boys – we went to North Devon, one of our favourite places in the world, but upgraded our usual accomodation, staying in the Saunton Sands Hotel, which we have driven past many times over the years. For me, the cherry on the cake was taking the MR2, and detouring via one of my favourite roads, the A39 over Exmoor.

Owen and I have had some great bike rides together this year, his skill and strength on the bike are such that we can do decent rides together, on the sort of trails that I ride. When it is just the two of us his behaviour is really good too. As well as mountain biking Owen has been very much into computer games this year, especially Super Mario based games. One of Jen’s friends lent him a Nintendo Wii, so he has been trying some older console games in addition to his iPad. I have also tried to channel this enthusiasm into coding, he is already confident with Scratch and we have also been experimenting with JavaScript – he is mostly copying what I write, but he is starting to understand the general programming concepts, like declaring variables and referencing them later in the code, so you only need to change the value once. He has uploaded his take on Space Invaders to his website – not bad for a six year old! He is now at an age where we can do things together that we both want to do, from going to a mountain bike festival together to working our way through the Stars Wars movies.

Henry has grown up so much this year, the main change is that he started at the preschool at Owen’s school, because he is going to school with Owen every day and wearing his uniform it is hard to remember that he is still only three! I am so proud of how he has settled in to the new routine. However my proudest moment was when he learned to ride his pedal bike. Henry did not get the same opportunities to ride his bike as Owen, due to the pandemic, and not having the undivided attention that Owen had as a three year old, so it is good to have him riding with us.

At the start of the year, I set myself some goals. I posted a halftime update in June, but here are the final results:

Get settled at my new job

Pass – This was my main goal for 2022, and I am happy to say that I love my job and am glad that I changed industries. A few weeks ago a colleague was surprised when I told him I had been with the company less than twelve months, he said it felt like I had been a part of the team for years.

Pass the AWS Certified Developer Associate exam

Fail – I did a lot of studying for the exam, and even booked it, but had to cancel after a particularly poor showing on a mock exam. My studying has been in fits and starts, as I have prioritised learning skills that are used day to day on projects at work.

Redo my homepage

Fail – Although I have rebuilt my webpage using NextJS, and set up a staging site on AWS Amplify I decided I should not publish it without setting up the infrastructure as code. No, it is not needed for what is essentially a simple website, but I feel like if I am doing something I should do it properly. I have done most of the hard work though, so the website should be published early in 2023.

Rebuild my Orange Four

Fail – The strip down took longer than I would have liked, then when I sent the frame back to Orange for a respray, a new frame was sent back as a warranty replacement. It is currently half-built in the work stand. Progress also took a step backwards when I broke the rear hub on my hardtail, and to keep myself riding I had to take the freshly built rear wheel from the Four. I have got the bits to build up another rear wheel, and once that is done progress should be quicker.

Ride 2,022km

Fail – 2022 was a rubbish year for cycling, I rode less than 1,400km. I hurt my knee at the start of the summer, then again later in the summer because I did not let it heal enough. Then in the autumn, when my knee had recovered, I had bike issues and to top it all I barely rode in December due to a flu-like illness.

Get my weight down to 85kg

Massive fail – Again! Looking at the data from my Withings Scales Amazon affliate link, the damage was done at the start of the year, when I was able to ride my bike most.

Whilst this looks like a list of failures, my main goal, by some margin, was getting settled in my new job, which I achieved. The other goals can wait for 2023! I felt like I lived more in the momet in 2022, which has been a good thing, but maybe also why I did not manage to post this before the end of 2022…