It’s time for my annual post… just over a year since my last one. And wow, what a year and a bit it has been. I thought with the pandemic I’d have written more, but oddly enough as the lockdowns have gone on I feel like I have less spare time than I did beforehand, hence why this blog nor Clouds@LHR has been updated for over a year and 15 days. Recently on a walk with my girlfriend (hereby referred to as Char) we were talking about “old things” (as much as things are old in your mid-twenties); the TV series we used to watch from Playdays to Come Outside, Cat’s Eyes and El Nombre. I excitedly told her about the first computers we had, an IBM Aptiva with Windows 98SE which featured many fantastic MS Paint renditions that have ~sadly~ been lost to time, and how I at a young age discovered Lotus Notes and printed 13 pages of the letter h (??? 🤯) repeated in purple. When it was cheaper to buy ink, rather than a whole new printer. Good times, good times…

I remember starting every work day writing Clouds@LHR quickly, firing off the latest updates. My “first” re:invent covering it with Clouds@LHR and I never caught up, which was a real shame. I’ve [got plans][clouds_at_lhr_gh] to partially automate it but they’re still plans, rather than concrete code…

So what has happened since my last meaningful Clouds@LHR?

I saw Hamilton in London with Char and some friends which was incredible. To sing a whole show?? I was amazed by that as well as the story. The next day I dragged Char to the Bank of England museum which she found more interesting than she’d admit (how often do you get to hold a whole gold bar?). Then whilst sat in a Pret-a-Manger (oddly enough we actually struggled to find one after BoE, even though there were four within five minutes of our hotel) I received some hurried texts from a friend that our troll group had been exposed; a campaign between 10 of us to tease and prank-back another friend had been exposed. It wasn’t until 4 hours later on the train that I was finally able to read the hundred odd (and growing…) messages in Slack and thus discovered we’d been truly rumbled. That campaign however led to a great group forming which I count my lucky stars to be a part of every day for the laughs we’ve shared and the wonderous things I’ve learned.

The first weeks of lockdown were very tough, but they had some excitement about them. I was gutted I couldn’t see Char properly any more (as we still live at home albeit quite literally around the corner) but we were very fortunate to be able to FaceTime easily. I remember buying the first barbell set the night the gym’s were announced to close, where I looked at one set and refreshed it five minutes later to see it out of stock. The excitement wasn’t a joyous excitement, it was one of a new journey where I had no idea what the next day to week would hold. I was fortunate to have a decent home working environment already from the days I’d previously homeworked and didn’t have to share it with the rest of the house. I bought networked cameras and upgraded my home network (there’s an ubiqiuti post that’s been in draft for ooh, 9 months at least) so Char could still see our pet rabbits. Turns out not commmuting to the office and paying for coffees every day has a nice positive effect on the bank balance. From there, it was bleak at times and blurry yet we pushed through and found our way, from virtual date nights to watching Masterclasses and making pasta at home, to being allowed to * gasp * hold hands in the summer! We were extremely fortunate to have such good weather, and I think that’s what has made Lockdown III the hardest yet.

Lockdown 2 came and thankfully we’d had the lounge plastered already so we could crack on with getting paint on the walls. Not being able to do many things probably helped here, as the only thing we could do was paint… We still didn’t have a sofa and were picking out what LVT floors we wanted. December rolled around and I picked up 12 sheets of 9mm plywood, because whatever floor was going down it needed plywood on it. Chiseling up 30 year old hearth tiles and then drilling down into concrete for screws was a Saturday morning I’d be happy not to repeat again… over 900 screws later (in Lockdown III) and then the lounge was covered in Plywood, with the LVT sat in the hallway ready to go down. It wasn’t until the week before the sofa was delivered (almost 2 months later than expected) that the glue and tiles actually went down. For a first job, we did pretty good. Within a week (still working full time) the lounge was covered and the day after we finished the sofa arrived. We’d had no sofa from October through to mid-January, and it still feels just as good as the first time I sat/reclined/immediately napped.

Lockdown III, with the soaring statistics (the sad ones first, then the happy ones with the vaccination numbers), has been the hardest yet. Last week my graphics card of seven years died, the first computer build I did. I’d joined the Met Office September 2nd 2013, and ordered my computer parts a few days before Christmas 2013. My GeForce 780 Ti lasted me all the way through the kitchen being remodelled, a dodgy powersupply taking out motherboard, CPU, and a stick of RAM, to the lounge-diner being redecorated. It’s the absolute epitome of first-world-problems, but I spent around £400 on a top-end graphics card then and to spend £700 or more on an equivalent-top-tier card now that I probably won’t get another seven years out of feels like a waste of money, notwithstanding the incredible price hikes and (un)availability of the latest generations. Even the previous generations are ludicrously expensive and only slightly-more available. The nostalgia of playing CS:GO, Battlefield 3, 4, GTA V at 144Hz on my first gaming PC will always be a fond memory. Never got in to being a content creator on the side like I wanted to, but with the way the past 365 days have been, who knows what the next 365 hold. Do I miss gaming? Yes, but not as much as I would have if it was in the first lockdown. I feel like I’ve adjusted and broadened my horizons; from trying new cooking to making more cocktails to actually reading—although not actually finishing a book—and more. I realised it had been a year since I’d been to London for Hamilton, three since my lip was cut open, and all the things I’ve mentioned and more that bring me a smile.

I’m forever grateful to have my family, my beautiful girlfriend, an incredible group of friends and acquaintances, beloved pets, great health and to live in a city that has fared relatively well, in such a weird (and at-times wonderful) time. It’s a cliche but I’m a very fortunate bean, and I remember that every single day.

Now that this blog is written, I’ve completed my goal of writing a blog post more than once every two years. Next step, can I do two blog posts within two weeks?