First thoughts on moving my blog from Jekyll & Github Pages to Micro.Blog

Spent a little time looking at how I can get my historical posts and photos migrated to Mb. If I’m going to go all in then it’s important that I can keep everything in one place. This Mb help post shows how it’s possible to upload markdown files, which is good news (since this is how my current blog’s post are stored) along with what front matter is supported in Microblog (which is Hugo behind the scenes). 

Few take aways..

I’m going to lose my tags. This probably isn’t the end of the world as actually most of my tags should probably be categories anyway. Most of my posts have many tags as the original idea was to help identify any relevant posts on any number of topics. Some basic testing shows that if I try and import a post with several tags as-is then it is processed and shown in Mb as one long category (see image below), this is probably because I just use spaces rather than commas to separate tags, which works fine in Jekyll. Nothing major in the blog relies on tags, there’s a few links, particularly the country page of my blog, which directs to a page with all any posts tagged with that country, but I can restructure that and achieve the same result with Categories. So in the below example, I will remove all tags except Finland. I could keep all tags but I will end up with hundreds and hundreds of categories. 

tags after import

Re-tagging/categorising will help clear things up a bit too, although there’s going to be some element of manual work. Hopefully it’ll help me reduce the number of categories I use to keep things simple. 

Another piece of front matter I use is ‘redirect_from’ which I setup because the slugs from my old blog don’t correspond to the Jekyll blog. I can live without these, they're not particularly important. I don’t have any logs from Github pages so I don’t know how much they’re used, but I’m guessing they’re basically not used at all anyway. 

I’ll also lose two custom fields I setup, one called ‘history’ which I used to indicate the date of the activity within a post in addition to the publish date, since the two can differ quite a lot. Along with ‘location’ which I intended to indicate where the post is relevant to. Neither is linked in any way. Location I ended up using quite widely, history isn’t used anywhere at all really. The below post about my trip to Belgrade shows both in action.

belgarde-frontmatter

Another observation is that for images to upload to Mb I need to format them to be absolute URLs, which they are not at present. This should be relatively easy, I just need to run a find and replace for '/assets/' with ‘[andrews.io/assets/'](https://andrews.io/assets/') and we’re good to go. I only use assets for images, so that’s easy. 

Unfortunately many of my posts have the main image as front matter rather than in the body of the post, see below example. This doesn’t see to import right, so I will need to link the first image where this is the case in the body for it to upload properly. 

Another link issue is that there is a fair amount of cross-linking between posts, see the example below. I’m going to need to give this some thought as the uploaded post in Mb takes on a complete new slug format (e.g. micro.andrews.io/2018/11/13/helsinki.html). Keeping these links working isn’t the end of the world, but there is a reason many of them are there. I think I might have to just upload everything, then export a list of these links and go and manually correct them with the correct slugs in Mb. Eventually I’m going to want to move Mb from micro.andrews.io to be andrews.io and so that needs more thinking still. Ugh. 

image-format

Last, I really quite like my Archive format. I would love to be able to have an archive page which lists ‘titled’ posts in a similar way in Mb. I use the Archive a lot to look back and quickly reflect on some of the things I did each year based on the title. Maybe this is possible, it’s a bit beyond my knowledge at present. Perhaps I have a category named ‘Important’ or something that then lists these. 

archive-format

Of course… Design is another topic completely, but one which isn’t at the top of the list. If I can get everything migrated properly I know I can change the design as and when. 

The Confusing world of Baby Milk Formula

Can somebody please tell me what’s going on in the world of baby formula? It is so incredibly confusing. Much like the unnecessary situation of having a hundred different options for clothing detergent the same exists in the world of baby formula. Difference is that a decision on the former results in different smelling jeans and a decision on the later seems to affect the physiological development of a tiny human. 

We were told in our NCT antenatal class that all formulas are basically identical as they must meet common nutritional regulations, established by law. So am I trusting some ancient government regulation on our baby’s upbringing? I understand there’s also all sorts of special rules around them not being something that can be discounted in a shop. But what does that mean?

This document on infantmilkinfo.org shows the volume of different products on the market and the pages here list the composition difference between all of them. Am I supposed to understand this? Does everyone not just want their baby to develop properly? Should I be picking the most expensive or the cheapest? Do we need to try them and see what baby prefers? Is the posh one going to give us a better child once she's all grown up?

We’ve so far opted for Aptamil 1st Powder, because it was the nicest looking tin, but it seems (once we looked into it) that the difference in composition is minuscule between that and the Cow & Gate 1st Powder, both manufactured by Danone. The cost is not, the Aptamil is £11.50 and the Cow & Gate is £8.75, that’s a 30% difference! We’re going through baby milk like you wouldn’t believe and so £2.75 a tin is going to add up pretty fast. Is baby going to be better off if we buy the cheaper one and then bung the £2.75/tin info a Junior ISA? Or is that completely irresponsible?

Then there’s the Aldi option, called Mamia which is £6.79 a tin (for a 100g more). That’s a LOT cheaper. It scores essentially exactly the same on it's nutrition chart as the Danone options but is essentially half the price. Only difference is that the Aldi option doesn’t have 'Linoleic acid’ or 'Alpha-linolenic acid’ and a higher whey to casein ratio - is that what matters?

The whey:casein ratio of the protein element does seem to align with pricing, as below, but protein element is only 1.5g of 100ml of milk, so that difference is surely incredibly marginal. The internet informs me that breast milk is around 60:40.

- Aptamil is 50:50
- Cow & Gate is 60:40
- Aldi Mamia is 70:30

Perhaps the other consideration is environmental, both Aptamil and Aldi list Palm Oil on the ingredients list, but Cow & Gate doesn’t. Maybe let’s not go there..  

The answer is, I don’t know! I think we’re going to use up what we have in the cupboards which is the rest of a tin of Aptamil, then two tins or Cow & Gate (which are on order for delivery tomorrow) and then switch to the Aldi option provided that’s fine after Christmas. The saving is pretty significant and it seems silly to spend money on a more expensive option that is essentially the same.

Hopefully we’re not being irresponsible parents. 

48Hrs of Starlink - Update

Since installing Dishy in the back garden on Friday things have improved really quite a lot. While I was really surprised how quickly we were up and running after installing, there were enough drops and packet loss out of the box for it to be a problem when streaming. After about 12 hours it was possible to see the obstructions visualisation in the App and this showed some slight obstructions to the west, which I think was probably our conservatory. I moved Dishy about a foot and a half to the East and that seems to have solved it, there’s now no warnings of obstructions or any red shown in the visualisation. 

Still a bit baffled that the service actually works just sitting on the ground in our garden, but if there was an optimal direction to point, North would be it! In the long term, it of course wouldn’t be ideal to leave Dishy in the middle of the garden - cutting the grass and people walking in front of it would be a problem. But I’m pleased it is working well and it is helpful to know which direction it homes for if we were to install permanently. 

The packet loss and drops have all but gone away now and the service is super stable. It’s not absolutely perfect, there’s the odd ping that goes astray, but very infrequent. Latency remains about 37ms to 1.1.1.1 or 8.8.8.8 which is good. As with latency, Jitter is obviously a bit of a casualty given the type of service Starlink is and varies between 15ms to 45ms. On my VDSL service Jitter is rarely more than 10ms. In practice and given our use, this is not exactly a big deal. 

Speed is of course the improvement that we notice most, in almost every speed test it exceeds 200Mbps down and 15Mbps up. Sometimes reaching 300Mbps down and 45Mbs up. This is of course really good, especially considering what is actually happening to make that possible. It’s not perfect mind and because of the latency it can take time for a download to reach the highest speed and even then it can be quite variable. Cloudflare Speedtest is good at demonstrating this, it has really useful candlestick graphics. Y’all need to stop using Speediest.net already. 

Would be very interested to understand if there’s any wan-op style black magic voodoo happening to help with the statistics and user-impression of the service. This used to be quite common with older satellite services because of the extreme latency. I don’t really think there is though, you can operate the service without the provided router (just using Dishy) and Dishy doesn’t have any major processing built-in (see teardown). And to do that kind of magic you'd need equipment and both ends. Having worked a lot with SilverPeak a few years back, I would love to have been able to run some optimisation over Starlink to see how much it can improve TCP connections. 

On the LAN-side of Starlink I have connected the ‘AUX’ (which is really just a LAN port) of the Starlink router to my home LAN. This has allowed me to us my Ubiquiti UAP-AC-Pro Wireless APs which provide much better coverage of our house and to connect everything. It’s not possible to configure anything on the Starlink router, but luckily it uses the same IP configuration as my VDSL router, so I simply swapped them out. The AC-Pro APs can’t quite use all of the speed provided by Starlink so I may have to move to WiFi6 at some point. Connected to Ethernet, it’s obviously really good. I used to rely on my ISPs usage monitoring but no such thing exists with Starlink so I’ve thrown my EdgeRouter X in between the Starlink router and the LAN as a managed switch. This reports to LibreNMS which I have had running on a Raspberry Pi for a couple of years, not great, but will do for now. 

Before the 30 days return window is up I think it will probably make sense to try and run dishy from my Dad’s who also lives in High Halstow, just to make sure service will work there when we move. I’m pretty sure it will because it’s possible to order a service, but won’t hurt to try. We still don’t have a move date, which means it’s now likely to be 2022. Mounting dishy on the new house isn’t going to be particularly easy, the back of the house is south facing - sure it’s possible with some creativity. I need to arrange for a local TV/aerial guy to come and install a Sky dish properly anyway, so makes sense to do both at the same time. Of course, need to commit to actually having it in the new house.. VDSL there should be about 60Mbps down which is a big improvement to here… I may see how we go without a broadband connection at all in the new house to begin with, we’d obviously need to commit to a contract. 

That’s all for now… Very happy so far. It really is very impressive and the geek in me is excited at being able to use what is undoubtedly going to be a game-changer for global internet connectivity, especially in remote locations. 

Dadblog - Week 40

Well, we had hoped that by now baby would be with us! Seems it’s not time just yet…. Baby is still doing very well though, getting itself ready for the big day which is getting closer every minute that passes. Victoria is doing fine too and is coping very well, despite baby being really quite big!

Weekend before last we went and did another ultrasound at the hospital, just to check that everything was progressing fine and also did some sessions on the monitor to check heart rate and movement. All very good, baby was very active and kept kicking the monitor! Doing these on a weekend is a much more pleasant experience. We had thought that the monitor and scan were showing signs that things were starting, but seems not.

All being well, baby should arrive with us anytime now, we’re both very ready and excited. As are all of our family and friends! Victoria of course continues to be on maternity leave and I am waiting for the day that I can join her on paternity leave. Work have been very accommodating with everything but not knowing when I’ll be off and when I’ll be back is making things a little tricky. Lots going on and working on building some momentum for some exciting identity access management and enterprise application integration projects in 2022.

In home news, there’s been quite a lot going on… The house is move is progressing well, our solicitor has been busy managing the sale and purchase and so far everyone is playing ball. We have reviewed the documentation from the seller of the High Halstow house and are waiting on the land registry searches - hopefully a simple process since the house is only 20 years old. Our mortgage application has been approved following three lengthy appointments with the provider, we’re now just waiting for the desk-based valuation to come through before we receive our offer. We have been to view the house again with Victoria’s Dad and spent a bit more time checking things out and looking at the garden and garage which we weren’t able to last time. All very good, can’t wait to get moved in!

Back in Upnor we’ve been getting things packed up ready for the move. We had a literal pallet of packing materials delivered a few weeks ago and since then we’ve been working on getting all the boxes built and filled. So far, so good. The rower which has been sitting in the garage for the last few months is now carefully packed back into it’s box ready to move too! Next job is to try and arrange for a removal company to come quote for the move, because we have far too much stuff to move ourselves in a van.

Other big news is the arrival of my MacBook Pro. Very big day! I have started a blog post to share more about it, but essentially it’s the most amazing computer I’ve ever used. It cost a lot of money, but it is everything I had hoped it would be. Very pleased indeed. This is the first blog on the new machine!

Over the weekend we went out and enjoyed the fireworks at Medway Yacht Club with family. It was cold but really good fun. Especially fitting as this was one of the first things we did after we moved back to Upnor. Ready for our next milestone now.

Hurry up, bean!

Getting Ready for the Big Day! (MacBook Pro Arrival)

So the MacBook Pro is still due for delivery tomorrow, tracking hasn’t updated at all over the weekend except to indicate it’s left Tamworth. Not having it arrive this weekend is probably a good thing because it’s allowed me to do some housework on file storage… (which I’ve been putting off for ages).

Since it’s been so long, I’m going to aim for a complete fresh start on the new Mac. Which I know is going to irritate me for a while, but hopefully it won’t take too long to get back to how I like things.

Right now, I’ve got everything organised as follows…

Where Things Live

Trying to keep this as simple as possible, my current MacBook Pro has 500GB of SSD which at the moment isn’t too much of a problem. It will be at some point soon, because my Photo library consumes 50% of that, baby photos will cause that to climb rapidly! New MacBook Pro has 1TB onboard, which should hopefully, just about cover growth for the next three years. I would have loved to have gone for the 2TB option, but it was an extra £400 😱!!

Local Machine

  • Almost everything now lives in iCloud Drive. That’s Desktop, Documents, Screenshots, Scans, Projects, etc. ‘Optimise Storage’ is off.
  • Apple Photo library is stored locally, and enabled for iCloud.
  • Photos/Images not in the library live in iCloud Drive as files (commonly files I’ve exported from Photo Library anyway)
  • Downloads are stored locally, I don’t back these up and consider them expendable.
  • Don’t really have any Music, the music I do have lives in iCloud as files.
  • Email is stored locally (and with FastMail)
  • Don’t have any movies.

External SSD

I have a 500Gb Samsung T7 SSD, which was a really good investment earlier this year to help migrate from Google Photos. It’s encrypted and now takes care of two things:

  • Large video media, typically videos from my DJI Osmo, Drone, GoPro, etc. Ordered in directories by month so I can try and avoid duplicates. Essentially, everything I don’t want in Photo Library.
  • Old documents/data which I don’t need in my life any more or don’t want to sort out.

GitHub

Of course, Blog (posts, site and images) lives in GitHub, copies of the repo are also on my iPhone (via Working Copy) and Mac. Same for other miscellaneous projects.

Backups

My goal is to follow Backblaze’s 3–2–1 Backup Strategy and have two local copies of everything, one on my machine, another on a separate drive plus another stored off site. Important to remember that iCloud provides synchronisation convenience but is not a backup method. I want to be able to know that if I lose my Mac, I don’t lose anything. And if I were to lose my Mac and my local storage, I don’t lose anything. Same for if the cloud provider looses my stuff.

BackBlaze

Surprise! I use Backblaze. I don’t love it, but actually it works fine for essentially everything I need it to do. With the amount of data I have, I feel that it’s pretty expensive, but it’s worth it for the convenience. I have it setup to back up everything on my Mac, including iCloud Drive data (which needs to be kept local). It excludes certain things, but nothing I consider of value.

With the new Mac, I’ll set the External SSD to backup too, so that’s all that data is off site. I’ve been putting off seeding that drive until I’ve had a tidy-up because it is going to take absolutely ages to upload. I will need to make sure to keep the drive connected as much as possible when at home too, perhaps an iOS shortcut can help remind me. I also plan to subscribe to Extended Version History, hopefully this will help cover me should I forget to connect it one month, although I don’t quite know for sure…

Time Machine

Of course, can’t go wrong with Apple TimeMachine. I have a crappy, slow 1TB disk that I use for backing up. I have a long USB-C cable that goes under my desk because it’s incessant spinning and clicking drives me crazy. This serves as my local backup of everything on my Mac.

What’s missing?

I need to have a secondary local copy of the External SSD. I think the answer to this is to have a slave device that I periodically synchronise from the master. I’ve been holding off because the 500Gb drive is almost full and if I upgrade I want to upgrade as a pair, ideally to 2TB rather than 1TB. I have debated buying the SanDisk Extreme Pro, which has a Read-Write speed of 2000MB Per Second, which is twice as fast as the Samsung T7. The 1TB version is £150, which actually isn’t too bad, the 2TB is obviously more. However, if I do buy a pair, the slave device could be slower since I’d run the sync overnight.. I think I’m going to collect a LOT of video over the next few years once the baby is here.

Alternative and probably a more sensible option is a Synology NAS, but with the spec I want, it’s just shy of £1,000 which is a fair wedge of cash. I would probably go with the DS720+. I expect the The Read-Write speed of a NAS even if it’s tricked out is going to be WAAAY slower than the external drives and that I suspect would really annoy me. Maybe something for when I get sick of external SSDs. It would also need its own Backblaze B2, which adds further cost. Advantage is that it could work with CCTV should we want it for the new house. Another pet-project is to combine the (4!) separate raspberry Pi devices to a set of NUC (or similar) devices and run VMs on a proper hypervisor. The NAS would be ideal for providing shared storage. This is a project for another day…

The local TimeMachine drive needs replacing too. I want to go SSD so I don’t have to listen to the clicking. Perhaps it’ll be faster too, because right now, it’s crazy slow.

I am debating re-signing up to Backblaze with a new account so that I can set my storage location to EU, rather than US. This is only possible at sign up by changing the tiniest most non-obvious option at sign-up. Seriously Backblaze, buy some DCI bandwidth!

Also, I need to do better with random SD-Cards. I have a terrible habit of leaving stuff on them and not knowing if I’ve transferred it off already. Then I end up just dumping everything on my Mac when I need an empty SD-Card.

Dadblog - Week 37

What a difference a few weeks can make…! The HUGE news this month is that we’re moving house!! 😁 It’s all happened very quickly but we’re both very excited and confident we’re making the right decision. We absolutely love living here in Upnor, it’s a very special place for both of us, but we are gradually growing out of our home and need some more room. We’d love to stay but it doesn’t make too much sense to invest much further in our house and for the past few years have longed for somewhere a little bigger. We’ve spent a lot of time and money doing the house up since we moved in, we’ve done all the decorating, fitted new carpet (literally a couple of months ago 🤦‍♂️) made some changes to the garden, etc and with those changes have really made it somewhere that we’re happy to be. Unfortunately doing more work, either extending or rearranging things internally is going to be quite expensive and unlikely to give us the space that we’re going to need in the future. So with that, we committed and listed it! We are very lucky that there was lots of interest and our house sold within a week with several offers, in the end we sold to a lovely couple who are really excited to move to Upnor.

Looking at where to move to, there’s not too many that come on the market in Upnor and there’s even fewer that are the size and type that we’re looking for. We did try and view one in Upnor that was listed recently, but it didn’t work out. Before the pandemic we were planning to move to a new build but have since gone off the idea in favour of somewhere that’s more established, the whole new build thing was REALLY complicated and exhausting. It would however have been great to move somewhere with gigabit fibre.

So we broadened our horizons beyond Upnor and found an amazing place that is exactly what we’re looking for. It’s in High Halstow, a similarly sized village further into the Hoo peninsular. One of the things we’re really spoilt with in Upnor is the quiet; the geography of Upnor’s riverside location means that even though it’s close to Chatham, Strood and their arterial roads, it’s incredibly quiet and peaceful. High Halstow has that same peace and quiet, possibly even more since it’s much more remote. The village has it’s own pre-school and primary school both within a short walk which will fantastic for when baby is a little older. There’s also a small shop (which Upnor lacks!) pub, playing fields, children’s park, church and a nature reserve that’s great for dog walking. Compared to Upnor, the village has a very active community and even it’s own relief charity for those in need.

There’s been a lot of news recently surrounding Medway Council’s Local Plan and the impact that will have for development on the Peninsular and the wider towns. The most recent proposal was withdrawn, although it indicated that most housing development will be focused in Hoo, where it’s designation will be changed to make it a town. There will be development in High Halstow, there already has been some, in fact the Village is expected to almost double in size, but it should for remain a village. The very big news is that the nearby Grain branch line railway, presently only used for commercial transport will re-open for passenger traffic with a new train station constructed for London commuter traffic (which of course, isn’t without controversy). This would in the future help avoid the need to have to drive all the way into Strood to get the train to London.

The house we found in High Halstow is just around the corner from Dad and was built around 2000, it’s detached and a fair size bigger with an additional bedroom upstairs, a small downstairs study, bigger kitchen and separate dining room. The garden is a little bigger, but not too large and isn’t overlooked at all. I’m particularly excited that it has side access, plenty of drive way, a garage and a nice-sized front garden too, all things we don’t have today. The back garden is south facing and the roof is suitable for solar-panels if we were to install them in the future (next door already have). The house isn’t in perfect condition, in fact, it’s probably in worse condition than this house when we bought it..! But what it does have is all the right components and potential to be the house Victoria and I want for our family in the years to come.

Many neighbours with the same style of house have extended both upstairs and downstairs so it should be possible to make the house bigger in the future if we needed. I’m really excited about fully renovating the house, putting in an energy efficient heating system (maybe with a government grant?) opening the back up downstairs and creating a big master bedroom. All possible in time and with the right money.

We’re really pleased that our offer on the house has been accepted, so now we just need to wait, and hope that everything works out as expected. The chain is relatively short, with the same agent acting on all properties. Provided all goes well we’ll be looking at a move date sometime in January, so baby will officially have lived in Upnor (as did yours truly) for a short time. Today we have our mortgage application meeting with Natwest, we’re not stretching our needs too much so it should (fingers crossed) be absolutely fine, although always a bit of a worry! Yesterday we ordered many, many boxes, bubble wrap and cardboard packing material (seriously, how are boxes so expensive?) which are going to arrive today on a pallet. We used a company called Schott Packaging who seemed to be quite reasonable, there are MANY snakes online selling removal boxes for £3/4 per box. We debated going ‘eco’ and using a crate hire service like this, but we’d need to pack and unpack quickly because the crates are rented by the week. We’re going to try and get as much stuff packed away as we can before the move date, even if it ends up sitting in the garage.

In actual baby news, there’s not too much to report, we finished Dad Classes the other week and following that both feel much more comfortable about what’s going to happen. We went to the final scan which was a little different now baby is a bit bigger, they are very healthy and were at the time of the scan were 6lbs and 3oz (2.8Kgs). Victoria and her mum washed all of the baby clothes and get them all ready for when he/she arrives. We spent some more time talking about names and have whittled it down to a respectable short list that I think we’re both happy with. We’re going to wait until baby is here with us before we agree on the perfect name, although both have our favourites.

We have packed the baby bags and they’re in the car ready to go. Victoria has done a good job of inventorying them so we know exactly what we have and where it is. We’ve packed light, but with enough stuff to get us through a day or so quite comfortably. The car seat is safety installed and we’re quite familiar with how it all works. To help manage the baby and the dog being in the car at the same time, we bought Dexter a car crate, basically it’s a boot-liner that goes on one of the back seats. Turns out he absolutely loves it and chooses to sit in it when be bring it into the house. We’ve not yet taken him on a longer journey, but I think it’s probably more comfortable for him and certainly safer too. The sides are high enough that he shouldn’t be able to get to baby when they’re in their car seat which is what we were after (Dexter gets very excited around babies).

Victoria is doing really well, although she reports that the final weeks are gradually becoming more difficult. Baby has been kicking and creating a fuss a lot more recently which we think is probably because he/she is running out of space. Learnt this at Dad School, apparently babies are delivered with their head sideways, so their ears are towards mum’s front and back. In Victoria’s tummy baby is mostly sitting upside down with their spine towards Victoria’s right side. This means that the right side of her tummy is very hard and the left is much more squidgy. We’re both very excited for the big day now, with just two and a bit weeks to go.

I’m still going in to the office a few days a week but from the end of this week am going to try and cut back and work just from home. There’s a lot going on while I try and leave work in a place where I can disconnect for two or three weeks. No more scuba, sailing or being too far apart from now onwards either. There’s no situation where I’m going to miss baby arriving!

Hopefully there will be time for one more DadBlog before the big day. If not, wish us luck!!

Dad classes are over. Here’s how they went… 🤰👨‍🍼

This weekend was the last class of Dad Classes (aka Antenatal Classes) which is both very exciting and very nerve wracking at the same time! We had four lessons, three Saturdays of 4 hours and a 2 hour midweek session. The classes were really, really helpful and in hindsight I don’t quite know how we were contemplating not doing them.

Victoria learnt a few tips and tricks but had spent a lot of time understanding things in advance. For me, I learnt a ton of stuff at every single lesson. I found it very helpful to be in an environment with an experienced tutor but also around other dads and partners who were going through the same thing as us. Everything in pregnancy is very mum-first with the scans having been the only exposure for me of what to expect. The scans are good, but when they’re happening The dad is told to sit quietly in the corner with the nurse only really talking to mum. Midwife appointments are mum-only and at very awkward times.

The classes have allowed me as a future dad, to get to grips on what to expect, what to do and how to help from a professional and others in the same situation. They’re also helped prompt conversations between Victoria and I about topics that may not have come up while we’re focusing on our day to day lives. Such as how we feel about certain things and what’s important to us and what isn’t. It’s definitely brought us closer on our journey and I feel I have a much better understanding of what Victoria is going through beyond just the size of her bump!

The things that have been most helpful are - Everything about c-sections (if I didn’t know about how this works and it was needed, I’d be freaking out)

  • How I can help Victoria during labour
  • What to look for during different Labour stages
  • Things to look out for after baby is born
  • How to manage decisions during labour and what we are entitled to have a decision over
  • Everything to do with the placenta/cord 😳
  • Different places when we can have the baby (home vs ward vs ‘birth centre’)

Our tutor, Vicky has been really, really good. She’s been able to present the materials in an easy to consume way whilst keeping us all engaged and collaborating together. I particularly liked the part where the dads had to show the mums how to correctly bath baby!

The sessions have also allowed all of the couples to meet and (hopefully) stay in touch with each other. While we’re all different in our own ways, we’re all in exactly the same place right now. I am really looking forward to our reunion in January once all the babies are born!

If you’re reading this thinking about doing a NCT course, just book it. You won’t regret it.

Next step, baby.

Dadblog - Week 33

Yes, yes, I know it’s been a really long time since the last Dadblog post - sorry about that, it’s been pretty busy. The good news is that I think, we think, we’re almost there with the baby preps - which is a pretty big deal. We’re for sure on the final furlong, the list of jobs is all but ticked, the nursery looks amazing, I have an empty bank account and Victoria has a very large bump (it’s pineapple week)! It’s getting very exciting now and we both can’t wait for baby to be here with us in our home.

The nursery room has seen lots of change, the most significant thing is that the carpet has been replaced, this made a HUGE difference. We had a weird stripy brown coloured carpet in the room before which was just a bit old fashioned and made the room feel very busy. The new carpet is a simple pale cream colour looks great and is really fluffy, neutral and fresh - it smells amazing. I feel like we probably should have swapped the carpet a long time ago as it didn’t really cost all that much and aside from the wait, it didn’t really take very long to install either. We also had the hallway, stairs and landing (HSL if you’re a carpet pro), my office and the lounge done. We’re really happy with all of it, particularly the HSL, which has made it feel like a new home when you walk in the front door. Walking around in the lounge barefoot is really very lovely.

Also in the nursery we have installed the new baby monitor and some shelves. The monitor is a Eufy SpaceView, which seemed to be the highest-rated camera of any and so far, it seems really good. We debated getting the Nanit, but it was very expensive (£300) and you have to pay for a subscription (between £5 and £30), which is a bit crazy. This camera is a closed loop, so it doesn’t have an app, just a simple monitor and camera; apparently an app is also quite inconvenient for a monitor because you want to always keep an eye on it, which is inconvenient when it on your phone. The camera is PTZ with a wide angle lens and a small shelf for wall mounting. The monitor is a simple large LCD display with a few buttons and a kick stand. For some reason, most systems tend to have awful cameras and then a tiny little display screen. This one works really well and we’re properly pleased with it. The only tricky part was that it has been out of stock in the UK since the beginning of the year (well, probably before then) so we haven’t been able to buy it. Fortunately, it was in stock at Amazon in Germany, so we ordered from there and it turned up just fine. We paid about £150 which is quite a lot, but a lot less than a Nanit.

Few other changes in the nursery to finish it off, we installed some shelves above the changing station for books and bits and bobs. The shelves were an absolute ‘mare to install but look good now they’re up. We also put a floor lamp in next to the nursing chair which looks very smart and Dad has made a small oak shelf for next to the chair so that Victoria has somewhere to put her phone, a drink or the bottle. All that’s left is to get the wireless lights to work properly, I need to find a way to define some preset options and to have switches next to the chair and door. We may also get another camera that covers the whole room in addition to just the cot.

The other major investment was the push-chair/buggy/stroller/travel-system/car-seat. Honestly, I didn’t realise this would be as complicated as it was, there are SO MANY options is a little bit crazy. Victoria did all of the heavy lifting in figuring out what is the best one for us and we eventually landed on the Mamas & Papas Ocarro in Onyx which comes with a Cybex Cloud Z lie-flat car seat. I think I’ve talked about this in a previous post, but it all turned up the other week in five (!) enormous boxes. It’s one thing seeing it in the shop and it’s another having it in your house, it seems bigger than I remember, but just about fits in our under-stairs cupboard without being completely collapsed which is good. While we made sure the buggy fitted in the boot of the car, we didn’t check that the car seat would fit properly on the back seat. It does, but even in our relatively roomy Audi A4 the passenger seat needs to be quite far forward. The base for the car seat is pretty snazzy though, it spins around so that it’s easy to clip and seat in and out of the car. I’m sure our mileage with this will vary over time, but all seems good so far.

This weekend is the first lesson of Parent School with NCT. We’re now both members of a special WhatsApp group with all the other future mums and dads which is quite nice. Our tutor is a lady called Vicki Sigston who runs private sessions at thisparentingthing.co.uk. Little apprehensive about it, but sure it’ll be absolutely fine, I’m certain it’ll be helpful to listen and learn. It still seems a bit odd that you’re just expected to know what to do when baby arrives. I feel like there should be some kind of test or certification before you are allowed to be trusted with an actual human child! We’re going full-on and are turning up with cupcakes for everyone.

In other news, Covid restrictions are being relaxed and we’re now both fully vaccinated. Most people are continuing to wear masks indoors or in crowded spaces which seems sensible. The case numbers for Covid are still quite high, but apparently that’s fine so long as people aren’t dying with quite such high frequency. We are both still doing lateral flow tests from time to time and touch-wood neither of us believe we’ve had Covid. It’s now possible to sit at the bar in a pub which was my personal metric for when things are back to normal, this is very pleasing although as I type it’s been four weeks since my last beer. A commitment I made with myself to make sure that I make the most of this special part of our lives - plus I have already drunk enough for both of us this year!

In general news, aside from Covid. The war in Afghanistan is now over, well, the ISAF ground forces have officially left which is quite a monumental piece of history. That exit marked the 20th anniversary since 9/11 which is now a frighteningly long time ago. International travel is beginning to resume, which has been all but halted since the start of the pandemic. Travel to most of the EU has been possible for a couple of months provided people are double jabbed, report their location and complete mandatory travel testing. Travel to the US is expected to resume from November, despite the UK permitting travel for US citizens for many months already. Oh and I suppose this is news, England lost to Italy in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley. Tragic. In the past few days there has been a massive surge in liquid gas prices, which is causing all sorts of chaos, that sits alongside people panic-buying forecourt fuel and an increasing acceptance that we’ll be living with food shortages in supermarkets because of a shortage of lorry drivers (because, surprise! it turns out most of them were from the EU). Perhaps this is the perfect storm for Winter 2021. We’re truly living the Brexit dream.

This may well be the last big post before baby arrives, but I’ll do my best to continue with the Micro Blog in the mean time, perhaps with some running update on Baby Classes.

2021 Belgian GP…

In short, I’m a bit angry and disappointed about it all. Here’s my take… #BelgianGP

The weather was consistent for the whole day and it was far too bad for racing. It wasn’t inconsistent heavy showers it was just a constant medium rain that didn’t let up. Visibility was bad and I assume so bad that the helicopter wouldn’t see anything. The track may have got better in places but it wouldn’t have dried. It seems really odd to me that the F3 and Porsche series all raced in the morning, it was not better for them.

The decision not to abandon the race or let the clock expire was wrong I think. Instead, 75k fans all sat in the wet and cold for hours on end in genuine hope that we’d actually see something, despite knowing that the weather wasn’t going to improve.

To instead take the drivers out (every one was really excited to get going) and to then only perform two absolutely pointless laps under safety car was the real kick in the teeth. Lewis’s words on Instagram were on point. It was a box tick and a real injustice.

I’m glad we saw a podium (especially with two brits!) but it was very different to what it should have been. I’m really pleased for George, he finally got up there but it can’t be how we wanted to achieve it. Watching him and Lewis look at each other on the podium was a moment in history. Getting a wave and a thumbs up from them both was pretty special.

Lots of talk about refunds, we paid €590 each for our weekend ticket plus €160 for camping and €160 each for testing. Of course we accepted the (reasonably unlikely) risk of it not happening and also balanced us not actually even being able to get there because of COVID…. And while it’s not the organisers fault the weather was terrible it’s fair to say I feel a bit out of pocket. At the end of the day, we didn’t see a race. 👎

It is what it is though, we’ve all had a fantastic boys weekend away, we’re broken, tired, hungover and muddy but we’ve got some moments we’ll never forget. It’s been great being able to travel again and meet new people.

We’re halfway to Calais now, keeping our fingers crossed for an earlier ferry! Can’t wait to get home, have a shower and Mrs A, the bump and the doggo. ❤️

Day Skipper - Day 1

We started the morning after sleeping aboard, not the best sleep ever but got just enough. We went through the workings of a life jacket after breakfast, explaining the mechanism and how the automatic firing works. We then spent some time talking about weather information and where it can be sourced, explaining the Almanac, etc. We covered Diesel engine daily maintenance and learned the WOBBLE mnemonic, water, oil, bilge, belt, lecky, exhaust.

I helmed the boat out of the Marina which went okay although the wheel was locked (whoops) which wasn’t ideal and it took me a little while to figure out! We got out fine though, nice and steady with no issue. We then did some mooring practice under power and got a feel for the boat.

Simon the instructor demonstrated how to use engine wash and walk to turn the boat in a close circle. A very neat trick. Every boat will pull to port or starboard in a certain way depending on the propeller type.

We then worked to put the sails up but had some issues with the cars in the mast track, which seemed to get stuck in the just below the top spreaders. We tried a few things to check what the cause could be, we disconnected the halyard and attached a line to make sure it could run free which it did. And then disconnected one of the cars from the sail to see if it was getting caught. We believed that the newly installed rolling Genoa may have resulted in the mast bending back more than before and the track being slightly pinched as a result.

We motored up the Fal river just before the chain ferry and anchored up for lunch. During lunch we oiled the cars of the sail and successfully pulled the main up.

We pulled the anchor up and motored out of the river a little before putting the sails up and doing some light weather sailing. We practiced identifying marks and talked about points of sail. In the mouth of the River we performed a heave-to manoeuvre to stop the boat while in the wind.

We sailed past the lighthouse at the mouth of the Falmouth and sailed back into the river. With the wind fading we furled the Genoa and motorsailed back to where we were for lunch.

Luckily we found a pontoon to moor up to for the night, I was given helm duty for coming alongside the pontoon which seemed to go quite well. We tied up and called it a day.

We had sausage and mash for dinner and spoke to a full-time sailor called Terry on a boat named the Josephine of Exe who had done some transatlantic crossings. Very interesting character who shared a few bottles of red!

Dadblog - Week 22

It’s been all systems go here in Andrews HQ for the last week or so, a break in weekend commitments meant it was time to get the nursery decorating done.

We started by getting the carpet sorted, we’d had a man round for a measure the other week and got a quote back for £2,600 for all of the carpet in the house apart from our bedroom. That was a bit more than we had hoped to spend and certainly more than we wanted to spend after having bought new sofas the other week! The colour and style took a little while for us to figure out, but we got there in the end. We left that quote for a while so that we could think about what to do.

This weekend we thought we’d go to Tapi Carpets by Rochester Airport to get a competitive quote and it all seemed to fit into place, we decided on getting a less expensive carpet in the lounge and found some end pieces for the two upstairs rooms which worked out much cheaper and in all. Tapi were more expensive for Underlay, but all in we spent £2,100 so we saved a fair amount and were quite happy. Upstairs will be installed in a couple of weeks and hallway and lounge should hopefully be the last week of July. Very exciting!

With that done, it was decorating time! We ordered a bunch of stuff from tool station and got to work moving all the furniture and junk out of the room. Having now committed to changing the carpet we cut around the skirting board so that we could paint properly. The colour we picked from B&Q was ‘wild mushroom’, a cream colour and ‘new growth’, a pale, fresh green. We decided to paint the ceiling too since we were going for it!

After a lot of sanding, painting, taping, waiting and staying up late we eventually got everything done. It took a little longer than I thought, but we’re really happy with the result. The green is really nice and suits the new furniture really well. We (I) managed to get quite a lot of paint on the old carpet, so the room doesn’t quite finished but it will do once the new one it is. Victoria did a very good job on the glossing for the skirting and door frames, which makes a big difference too. Decorating, done!

In other baby news, Victoria and I both submitted our respective Maternity and Paternity forms to work. Both accepted, which is very good news. With Colliers I am entitled to two weeks full pay which I’m going to take from the 8th November (the Monday after the due date), and take the rest of my annual leave either before, if baby comes early, or after if baby comes late. That’s the plan, anyway… Victoria’s entitlement is far too complicated for the blog, but basically she gets normal pay for a while, then less pay, then even less pay until she goes back to work. We don’t quite know what is the best approach for going back to work (we’ve not had a baby before!) so we will see how we go… All beginning to get very real now!

In non-baby news, England are doing really rather very well in the Euro 2020 championship. Last week we beat Germany 2-0 and over the weekend we beat Ukraine 4-0. This Wednesday is the semi-final against Denmark and if we succeed there then it’s the final on Sunday. Both games are at home with a very strong England crowd, so if it were to happen, there’s never been a better chance.

In F1 it’s been an interesting mixed bag for British fans, Lewis hasn’t been on his usual form with a dominant Max now on a 4-week winning streak, taking his first grand-slam this weekend at Austria. Lando Norris is doing very well indeed though and got himself a podium and his best result this season at Austria.

With travel restrictions beginning to be relaxed, this weekend we committed to a boys trip to Spa-Francorchamps to watch the race in late August. By then we should all be double vaccinated which will hopefully mean we’re all good to go. I am beyond excited and absolutely can’t wait to get there, so pleased to be able to see a race again, and the last of this generation too! The plan is to take the motorhome, catch the ferry and stay on one of the campsites at the circuit. We’ve got great tickets on the start-finish straight so should have a fantastic view….!!

Next week we’re off to Dorset for a few days and then to Cornwall to spend some time with Family. This will most likely be the last Cornwall trip without baby, so it’ll be quite special. Really looking forward to just relaxing and having a nice time. It’ll likely be the last trip to Cornwall for a while too it’ll be difficult to drive that far with the baby in the first year.

Dadblog - Week 20

Not quite sure how, but an entire month has passed since the last blog post. Well, I do know how, because we’ve been really busy doing things and having a lovely time, but it still seems to have gone very quickly! I may have to recap and fill in some of the details on this at a later date, because there is really rather a lot to cover - but I’ll do my best and try to focus on Dad Blog topics.

We’re now on week 20 and well, the bean is showing! Pregnancy clothes are requirement rather a nicety but both Victoria and the bean are doing really well. The weather has been amazing for most of the past month and gradually getting warmer and warmer, last week was great, hottest of the year so far and the paddling pool was out!

The todo list has been going really well and we’ve ticked most of the major boxes… We’ve booked baby classes with NCT on the advice of a few people with in-person(!) sessions scheduled for September. Not sure we would have booked these if it weren’t for the advice of others but as the weeks have gone by I’ve found myself looking forward to them more and more. Aside from my dad book and conversations with others, there really isn’t any way to know what to do when the baby comes, so I’m looking forward to being told what to do! It’s a step outside of our comfort zone too, which is probably a good thing. Hopefully it’ll also be a good way of getting to know other people who are going through the same experience as us, I think there is a catch up with the group after the baby is born too, which will be interesting.

We have found the pram! Sorry, the ‘travel system’. We decided on the Mamas & Papas Occaro which comes with all sorts of accessories including a lie-flat swivelling car seat which seems quite snazzy. We visited the shop at Lakeside and made sure that everything fits in the boot, which it does, although there isn’t too much room for very much else. It’s in a dark navy material with a gold/bronze (Onyx?) colour metal which seems nice. Appears to be a very sturdy push chair which is big enough without being too big. After a bit of hassle we got a £150 gift voucher too, which was good. It gets delivered in early September, so just in time for baby classes!

The furniture for the nursery is all sorted too, Victoria spotted a bargain online for the Mamas & Papas Keswick furniture 2nd hand from somebody not too far away. After checking it, it was basically brand new and perfect for us. So we got a right steal for that and saved the environment too! We had to stick it on Dad’s trailer to get it home after negotiating the stairs in the house we had to remove it from - bit of a ‘mare, but all fine. Setting it up at home it looks great, the cot/crib converts to a small toddler-sized bed when necessary, so we should last us a little while. Oh, and extra bonus, the bed that was in this room, which we bought brand new before lock down we managed to sell for a few hundred quid, so that helped.

Elsewhere in the house we’ve been getting things ready. I replaced our shower door with one that folds so that it’s easy to reach into the bath without the door being in the way. We should have done this a long time ago, it is so much better compared to the old door. Wasn’t cheap, £200 is a lot for a lump of glass, but it’s working great.

We also decided to treat ourselves to some new sofas (on the same day as buying the pram!), complete impulse purchase but long story short, Harvey’s at Lakeside were having a liquidation. There was a fabric suite with electric recline, basically exactly what we had been thinking of buying. We paid for them (after taking a load of cash out, because they insisted on a part-cash payment) and some random bloke who seemed to be working for Harvey’s turned up with them the next day (who we also paid in cash). Very odd, but a total steal.

Last house upgrade was installing a Nest thermostat. We’d been toying about getting one for probably about four years and every winter we manage without and by the time we’re sick of not being able to control the heating remotely, it’s spring again. This year we said sod it and had the heating bloke come round with it and set it up. Don’t know how we lived without this before now, absolute game changer. I setup Homebridge on the RaspberryPi and nest is all hooked up with Apple Home too, very good bit of software.

The biggest news for this blog is that we have just today been and done our 20-week scan. This was the first time I’ve been to the hospital with Victoria for anything to do with the baby, so quite a big deal. We visited Medway Hospital in the afternoon, there we put on our masks and had our temperature taken as we went in, at reception I showed my negative covid test and we then sat in the waiting room which had perspex dividers between every chair. A very odd experience! We were called up by the Sonographer/Doctor who took us to one of the ultasound rooms and got strait to the job of jelly’ing up Victoria’s bump!

It was all a bit less fancy than the setup in Maidstone, but perfectly fine. The baby has grown a LOT since I last saw, we could see their spine, feet, fingers, eyes and even the chambers of the heart pumping away. They took measurements of lots of things, to make sure that the baby is growing properly. We saw that baby had it’s thumb in it’s mouth which was very cute indeed! This is the scan where we could have chosen to know the sex and we needed to look away at times so we wouldn’t try and work it out. We were in the room for about 20 minutes of so and at the end Victoria was able to take a short video with the baby’s heartbeat. Very excited, we’re officially half way…!!

Dadblog - Week 15

It’s been a busy few weeks since the announcement post and I’m pleased to say that Operation Bean is moving forward at full throttle. The biggest news since is that the bean is now ‘showing’ which I understand to be the politically correct terminology, which is very exciting indeed. We have drawn up a baby checklist with the help of our book and ordered them based on urgency.

First on the list was to tidy the loft space and make sure everything is sorted out. We don’t really have that much stuff, but since we’re not moving in the next 6 months but do expect to move in the next few years it’ll mean we will be moving as a family. Sorting out the loft wasn’t the most fun job ever as I was a bit hungover from celebrating my boss’s birthday in London the night before. I soldiered on and we chucked out a lot of junk, took a bunch of stuff to the charity shop and Victoria did an excellent job getting everything organised properly. We just need to take the junk that’s rubbish to the tip, which at present needs to be booked online many days in advance. This is really rather annoying as just turning up at the tip with stuff was in the pre-COVID world, much, much easier, I doubt we’ll ever see a return to that way of operating.

We’ve also been clothes shopping now that the shops are back open again, an odd experience because there are fewer shops open in Bluewater than there were before lockdown. Not that I would really know, but apparently there really aren’t many clothes shops that sell maternity clothes anymore. I’m sure that I remember the bigger shops all having a section, certainly Marks & Spencer who despite having an absolutely enormous shop don’t have any. There was a few in Next and some in Primark. Victoria got a few bits but found more success online as seems to be the way now. I got myself some new trousers as to not feel left out, not from the maternity section.

We spent some more time thinking about the buggy (aka Travel System) and have begun to narrow down our choice a little. We’ve decided to spend some of our savings on the buggy as it feels like quite a special thing. The number of options available and considerations for which is best is really quite outstanding, but I think we’re getting close, once we’ve found the one we will probably keep an eye on deals and prices since we have a little while yet. As I type this there is a not completely unrealistic concern of a third lockdown, some parts of the UK have been forced into localised lockdowns again, despite national cases being low and vaccinations continuing (I’m still waiting).

On the house front we made a few changes, today I moved my office back to the previous configuration, with my desk now on the wall nearest the hallway. I was finding that I was getting a sore right shoulder which I think is caused by me twisting because I have the wall and window on my right side. We’ll see if this makes any difference, it’s less of an ideal layout but if it helps then great. Having my whiteboard above my desk so far seems to be a winner, I can no longer escape my to-do list. Victoria has been working on sorting out the guest bedroom which will become the nursery, we will need to put most of her craft things into the office so will need some more storage.

The other house change is the need for us to replace the shower screen in the bathroom. We currently have a single pane screen which works great but is kind of restrictive when you need to access the taps while not actually in the bath. It’s not too much of a problem when we use the bath to wash the dog because we can reach around and then position the screen over the bath, blocking the taps, but this is really not ideal for when there’s a baby in the bath! I managed to find a screen online that’s the same length but folds in the middle, which should hopefully mean the outer flap can swing over the bath and give us access to the taps. It was a bit of purchase at £200 odd quid, but not really one we could avoid.

Next week we’re off to Cornwall to see family, it properly feels like we haven’t been in absolute ages so can’t wait to get down. The first stop is Charlestown, with dinner planned in one of my favourite restaurants, The Longstore before heading back to the Tamar Valley with another dinner planned in the gorgeous Ship Inn, Noss Mayo. Later in the week Victoria and I are off for a postponed birthday dinner in Thackeray’s in Tunbridge Wells, a very special restaurant. Then it’s three days of sailing in the Medway Keelboat Regatta, which I absolutely can’t wait for! If that wasn’t enough, the first weekend it’s the return of the Monaco Grand Prix which was cancelled last year. Certainly set to be a fun-packed week. Let’s hope Boris holds firm with relaxing the rules or we’re going to be in big trouble!

Dadblog out.

Race 3 - 2021 Spring Series

A quiet, sporty and wet race this week. It was going well right from the start, we had plenty of beer as we boarded Astral with both Andy and I bringing beer, in addition to a big crate of Stella already on board. We slipped the berth for the 9am lock and were joined with Elite Sailing’s Spirit and Lightning. Lock out took a little while and with low tide approaching we only had half a meter below the keel. The three boats in Class 1 were already in the river, where we had around 11 knots of SW wind, much more than last week. We were racing course 26, with the other boats racing course 38 (rounding the wreck and back). Small drama as we got going, while hoisting the main a snagged reefing line tore the sail cover - not ideal. The start was otherwise sensible and calm, despite being surrounded by cadets in Toppers and Optomists!

We made good progress off the line and along short reach, for a while we even overtook ‘The Works’, a Projection 762 in Class 1. They closely hugged our starboard aft until we passed round Hoo Island into Gillingham Reach where they then got away from us very quickly! We watched the other boats disappear into the distance from here, as they put up their big sails. We were having a gentle sail, passing Folly point then running down to our first mark, 23. Then on to mark 15, passing Kingsnorth Power Station and it’s jetties. Easing round into another run we put the genoa out on the pole, doing about 7 knots we passed Kethole Reach and the West Bulwark mark.

I didn’t know until recently that the West and East Bulwark marks are named for the wreck that lies here. The explosion of HMS Bulwark was a very significant naval incident, 741 men lost their lives in 1914, the single biggest loss of life in naval history at the time. This was later exceeded by the much more known, explosion of HMS Vanguard while at anchor in Scapa Flow in 1917.

Rounding west Bulwark we briefly tacked back upriver to round mark 16. It was clear to us here that the weather was coming in! We got geared up as it came over the horizon. The wind picked up significantly, we were showing 24 knots and as the rain hit everything got a bit hairy. Getting round 16 was a relief and as the same weather pushed us back downriver towards West Bulwark for a second time we furled some genoa to keep things under control!

Heading out to the furthest mark, Stangate Spit we put in a mainsail reef anticipating the need to tack back in reasonable wind. We saw the Elite Sailing boats around here, practising man overboard drills. Gybing round Stangate Spit we still had a good amount of wind and were making an easy 7 knots over ground. Heading home we were tacking all the way, with no course marks left to significantly alter our journey. As we did the weather came back once more, although we’d barely dried of from last time!

Mark 22 provided us with a little entertainment, despite only keeping a small amount of shore between us and the mark we got stuck on the mud! If it hadn’t been on the course we probably would have avoided it, but we didn’t have too much choise. Luckily the tide was coming in so we weren’t there too long, a few gusts of wind and close-hauled sails got us going again. As we made our last tack into Gillingham reach we could see the Class 1 boats steaming back into sight. We had a sensible amount of wind to take us over the line, expertly skippered by yours truly.

A fantastic race today, where enough was going on to not need any competition! The few beers went down very nicely, as did the coffee and walnut cake. Afraid there won’t be a race report next week, we’re off to Cornwall. Expect more from the Regatta the weekend following.

Race 2 - 2021 Spring Series

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With the first race of the shortened 2021 Keelboat Spring Series abandoned due to lack of wind, this was the first real race. A 10am start with five boats, fewer than usual with many still on the hard due to COVID mixing things up. There were five boats racing, two in class 3 ‘white sails’ and three in IRC, class 1. With so few boats a start from the club line was announced, with both classes to start simultaneously. Class 1 were racing course 20, in Class 3 we were running course 15. On Upnor Reach there was reasonable wind, but three faster boats jostling for a good start meant that we struggled to get away well. We were squeezed on the line by Reefer forcing us into the main part of the river.

Our only class competitor, Muskrat Ramble got away calmly, hugging the club shore away from the rising tide. With that advantage, they took and held the lead for the rest of the race. As all boats headed towards Short Reach the IRC fleet stayed in the main channel, initialling struggling for speed until bearing away past Hoo Ness. We made some ground once we passed mark 31 but were forced into a tack at Hoo Ness to avoid getting stuck. The SSW wind picked up in Gillingham reach and put us in a healthy broad reach past mark 25 (Folly), leaving it to port. We watched the rest of the fleet take off, with us tailing Muskrat where we ran through Pinup pulling in to a beam reach through Long Reach to mark 15 and 16, leaving them both to starboard.

Heading back up river we left mark 18 to starboard, passing MYC 4 to port before heading home. An easy close-hauled sail back toward to club with some good speed in places. There were plenty of small craft out by now, with the club’s new Musto Skiff fleet and plenty of cruisers heading out to Stangate Creek and Queenborough. We were chased by Mercury but who despite being on a much longer course caught us as we passed Upnor Line with their Asymmetrical showing the difference a big sail can make! We weren’t bothered, we had beers in-hand and smiles on our faces.

The cadet Topper and Laser fleets surrounded us as we finished with an easy cruise past the line. The wind picked up a lot as we waited for the lock, which had been closed since we left for a 10k running event. The tide was full by now so we were in the marina before we knew it.

With us back earlier than expected I went up the mast to fix a guide line between the fixed rigging and the radome, which had come off in the race before last. In lighter winds the guide line makes a big difference in helping the genoa shift from either tack, it caught several times today. I took the opportunity to clean the bottom of the spreaders which were green with algae! We had a few beers and packed up. Home in time for the grand prix!

Despite the excitement, we managed to get a short video crossing the line. Will try to get some more in future, it’s trickier than it seems!

Baby Andrews

Really pleased to share that Victoria and I are expecting our first baby! We are unbelievably excited and cannot wait to become a mum and dad (to more than just our fur baby 🐶). We found out in March of this year, just as the COVID lockdown restrictions began to be eased in the UK. We shared the news with family and friends on our birthday, an already very special day that is now even more special. The timing has been perfect and with restrictions changing we can’t wait to spend time seeing people in real life, hugging, going shopping for baby things and enjoying the summer with our bump!

Baby Andrews is due in early November and we’ve just entered our second trimester, where baby is about the size of a peach. We have had a couple of scans so far, the first we visited Window to the Womb in Maidstone just ahead of our birthday, they were fantastic and it really was amazing to see baby on the screen. The second scan, known as the dating Scan Victoria visited Medway Hospital, unfortunately Medway Hospital don’t yet allow parters to visit but Victoria took a great video on our new camera, baby was already much bigger in just a few weeks. So far everything seems to be going really well, although Victoria has gone off tea which means I have to make my own!

Looking forward to sharing more about on our journey this year, Victoria bought be a great book which recommends I consider writing a Dad Blog so be prepared for more posts and photos soon!

Travel Optimism for 2021

It’s a gorgeous sunny day outside today, which means all I can think about is summer. Since last year was a non-starter I desperately want to get back out into the world and do some travelling. I really do hope that there will be some opportunity to do so and am quietly praying that it will all be fine.

The past few weeks I’ve been thinking about a route and some of the things I’d like to see and do. The #TrainToTurkey trip in 2019 was fantastic and while I wouldn’t change much, there were a few lessons we learnt to apply to the next trip:

Know what to do It’s fair to say that we weren’t adequately prepared with ideas of what to do or where to go in certain cities, particularly Sofia and Ankara and as a result we ended up wandering without much of a clue. In Ankara we weren’t able to get an internet connection and that really hampered things, we ended up in some pretty strange bars, wandered around an abandoned theme park and along a motorway before finding something interesting and a bar that was showing the Formula 1. That and in some places we weren’t staying long enough to have time to figure things out, Sofia was an example of that. This issue is mostly solved with prep beforehand, we just didn’t really do much.

Duration We did get the duration for most places just right, staying less than a day in most cities with a little more time in the places we knew we wanted to spend time (Belgrade and Istanbul). This does against the general advice of most Interrail travel blogs to basically spend WAY less time travelling but we were probably more time-restricted than most on this kind of trip and actually didn’t feel the need to spend that long in places. We were on a bit of a mission though, rather than a holiday.

Distance We need to dial the distance back for future trips. Travelling from Penzance to Ankara was a really freaking long way, it was great but now that we’ve done that I would instead fly in and fly out allowing more time for the relevant journey or destination. in 2019 we basically ‘gunned it’ to Munich and the first part of the trip didn’t add much in the scheme of things. That said, if conserving annual leave from work weren’t an issue then I would absolutely travel on rails for the whole thing, doing a big loop would be pretty amazing.

Pack lighter This is always a top tip but I took heed and packed pretty damn light. I took the same bag I use to commute, I wore the same shoes, shorts and shirt for basically the whole trip and smelt like a foot when I got home. Foolishly though I packed a pair of jeans that I didn’t wear at all until the last day and carried around my $2,000 MacBook which I refused to let out of my sight - this was stupid. On days where we were back to back on sleeper trains this meant we carried everything in the day which was really quite shit. Slimming packing back even further and only taking things that are replaceable would have made a big difference for comfort and freedom. An iPhone, headphones, charger, toothbrush, passport and the clothes I’m wearing is all I’m taking next time.

Keep and eye on the time We very, very nearly missed the flight out of Kiev on the way home. While it all would have been fine, it would have been painfully expensive and soured the last day. We didn’t build much contingency into the schedule so a failure early on would too have totally screwed us until we got to a ‘checkpoint’ where we did have contingency. The delayed train situation from Cologne to Munich very nearly knocked the dominoes over but thankfully we get back on track.

Actually visit the country It’s bugged me a lot since we got back that we completely sailed through Slovenia and didn’t spend any time there, same with Zagreb to a degree. If the goal is to visit the country, spending the day there is kind of the minimum that I think I’m going to consider fair. I’ve noted where I’ve been in a country/state but only been in the airport, I think I’ll note something similar for when I have been there but haven’t been there.

Blog better I was lazy with this. I should have taken more photos and journalised everything I could. The blogs I did get out were pretty much me just thinking back and I know I’ve missed certain things that are interesting. Using Squarespace was the most frustrating thing and that has changed in my new setup and I would probably just publish straight to Microblog more frequently to capture things.

For the 2021 trip, as with #TrainToTurkey, the goal is to visit new countries and to get some time on the tracks. There are three clear candidates for trips when looking at what’s left for me tick off, and if I’m going to see all of Europe making all of these happen is really the fastest way to do so: * The Balkan states (Bosnia - Greece) * Central Europe (Poland travelling south to Hungary, possibly on to Moldova via Romania) * Nordic region (Norway, Sweden, Aland Islands, possibly travelling to Latvia too)

The Balkan States

It feels like the this is an ‘advanced’ level trip. Trains don’t operate in certain countries and where they do the connections aren’t ideal for a Northwest to Southeast route. To make it possible, it’s going to involve road transport and patience. I think we’d need to be more flexible in scheduling, prepared to operate in full backpacker mode and allocate more time. That said, these are some of the more ‘unchartered’ countries in Europe and I would love to get the opportunity to visit and blog about them - one of the best parts of #TrainToTurkey was visiting cities and countries that were off the normal tourist trail. This option certainly presents the best ‘haul’ for ticking countries off the list too, there’s at least six and potentially the opportunity to cross off some of the more obscure territories based on the Century Club list. Avoiding COVID restrictions would be tricky here and not being able to enter a particular country could completely scupper the trip, so presents a big risk.

Central Europe

This would certainly be a little easier than the Balkans but still present a bit of a challenge. There’s great train connections across the board and pricing should be reasonable for ticketing. There’s night trains that could work for a number of routes and in 2019 these proved to be fantastic for keeping hotel costs down and proving an effective method for keeping on the move but visiting places during the day. There would be plenty to see with food, drink and accommodation all pretty inexpensive too. The route could be planned pretty well up front, I think something like Gdansk > Warsaw > Katowice > Bratislava > Budapest would work well. It could also be possible to include a cross-Romania trip into Moldova to make things interesting although looks as though the train on this route has been cancelled for the time being.

Nordic Region

This is the one I’m leaning to most although would certainly prove to be the most expensive. As with the other two options it would prove a little too time consuming to travel from the UK via train to start the trip so it would make sense to fly in to Stavanger or Bergen. That said a UK start would allow for the Harwich to Hook ferry which is on my unpublished list of things to do. I would expect that these counties to have a reasonable grip on the COVID situation or at least a well published policy as to whether a trip is possible or not. Food, drink and accommodation would be expensive, travel costs too would be high but there may be options to control that with a Eurail pass. I think a West to East route is the obvious approach but that doesn’t lend itself too well to night trains, although that’s probably not too much of an issue as there wouldn’t be took much ‘rail time’. North/South travel does provide sleeper options but would likely eat into trip time. There’s a lot to do, The Flam railway in Norway, visiting the famous [Vasa](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasa_(ship) in Stockholm and it might event be possible to align the trip with the Tall Ships Races which visits the Aland Islands in July. In addition to visiting Norway, Sweden and Aland I would love to get to spend some more time in Finland. I absolutely loved being in Helsinki during 2019 and want to see more of the country. Could be possible to extend the trip by travelling from Helsinki to Riga by ferry or St Petersburg by train - both would present a great ‘final stop’.

Still seems too early to be making plans though, I’m typing this out very optimistically while under national lockdown rules. If it does look like international travel is off the cards for the summer then the opportunity would be to put in some UK travel instead, there’s a lot of domestic railway that I’ve not travelled on and a whole heap of cities I’ve yet to see. A week with an all UK Rover ticket could prove to be a lot of fun. Potentially a good chance to visit Northern Ireland too, which always seems to get bumped to the bottom of the list!

Let’s see how we go, I’m confident that something will be possible. Might start piecing together an itinerary or two.

Blogging with Jekyll

Moving my blog to use Jekyll and GitHub Pages was a really good move, it’s a great setup and it makes me happy that my precious blog is stored locally, is super simple but hosted properly too. It used to really stress me out that I might one day lose everything. The fact that it has version control as a result is a bonus too.

I have some frustrations with the setup, but some of these applied even when I was shelling out for Squarespace:

  1. Managing images for upload. This is a pain, I have to first find the images I want in Apple Photos, I then have to export them from Apple Photos, although granted some of this process works quite well because I can resize them, set them to be jpeg and add to the correct directory. Annoyingly though while I have the option to name based on album name Apple adds “1 of 1” rather than just “1” so I have to go and rename them, i remove the spaces here anyway. I don’t like having any EXIF data in the photos so I then have to run exiftool from terminal to strip everything. Not the worst process, but not the simplest. Perhaps some of this could be improved with Automator or another tool. The other frustrating part is that I have essentially just fixed the image size, which isn’t really ideal for web hosting. I’d rather publish the full resolution image and some other function figure out the optimum size/scale to deliver in the browser.

  2. Posting. I’m using Atom, which is a pretty good app. I have two frustrations with it, the first is that I can’t put posts into folders within the “_posts” folder because it breaks Jekyll, the result is that I have an enormous long list of posts in the left pane of Atom. Maybe this is something that can be changed in Jekyll’s code. The second is that I want to be able to just post, I don’t want to have to stage, commit, and push. I want one button. Maybe there is a way to be ignorant of Git’s process or even a simple script that I run that does those three things. The answer here is probably just to use a CMS tool like Forestry or Siteleaf, it’s just a little frustrating that they are both web apps rather than a local Mac app.

  3. Image Galleries. I have lots of pictures on the blog but I can’t see any of these unless I actually read the post where they are shared. I want a page that automatically updates with my most recent images, formatted in a consistent way (much like gallery of Micro.blog) which link back to the post where the image was shared. I’d also love a way to share photos in albums on a page, where a particular trip has lots of pictures and perhaps I didn’t add all the pictures into the post. I think this plugin by ggreer should do what I’m thinking, but I need to invest some time in making it work right.

In short, why can’t everything just work the way I want for my very specific use case?

Mandatory Leave

The COVID situation last year meant that we really didn’t get to go away as much as we usually would have and as a result I had lots of annual leave left. Colliers permitted the carry-over of five days leave to 2021 on the condition it is taken before the end of March. With the current national lockdown we aren’t going to be using those days to go away. So, I plucked a week out of thin air and booked it off…

It’s actually been quite refreshing to have a week off with no rush to do anything in particular or with a set agenda. I can’t say I love it, I much prefer the hustle and bustle of a full calendar, but that’s not an option. In my week off I have managed to get quite a few things done that needed to be done.

In the house I put up some new blinds in the conservatory. When we moved in there were some vertical blinds installed which were not great, so we took them down. We have lived with no blinds for a while now, but it’s a bit annoying having to close the lounge curtains when it gets dark outside. The new blinds were only cheap, £25 quid each from Dunelm and do the job, the all needed to be adjusted to the right width which took about an hour and a half per blind since they were “not adjustable”. I also had to install some spacer blocks so that they didn’t catch on the window handles. After having installed them I am really quite happy with them, certainly £100 happy, it feels a bit warmer in the conservatory and the neighbours can no longer see me rowing either. We installed “party mode” for the conservatory too, with 10 meters of cheap LED lights which I ran around the inside edge between the window and the roof. I was surprised, the lights are actually really fun, although I have no idea what the neighbours must think - from the outside it looks a bit like a shady nightclub. They will be really good for parties when we’re all allowed to see each other again.

With that all done I also had a bit of a digital cleanse. I have been using Google Apps/G-Suite since about 2012, I moved from the personal Gmail service to GSuite because it enabled me to use my own domain name. This was great for a while, it gave me a few different capabilities and everything played well, I could have any number of email aliases and victoria had an account too. More recently, it’s become a bit of a pain.. Aside from having to pay for it every month, it has grown into a very enterprise-focused platform rather than a bit of a workaround that let me use my own domain name. Since moving from Google/Android to Apple/iOS I have also slowly realised that Google isn’t the right cloud for all my things to live, while things work they just don’t integrate as well. Photos was the big one, the Apple Photos app is just better if you’re in the ecosystem. Mail, Document Storage and Calendars were less important, they all worked but not quite as well as things could work. This week I have been chipping away at getting my precious data out of Google closing G-Suite.

Moving email was relatively easy, I signed us up for Fastmail and shifted the domain/s over. I debated moving all the email data out of Google and into Fastmail but in the end just moved everything to a local mailbox on my Mac. There it’s backed up it’s not just taking up cloud storage and it’s going to be a hell of a job to filter genuine email from marketing spam. One of the benefits of the COVID situation is that I have no reservations or emails that I might need while I’m out and about, so that’s kind of convenient to have a fresh start. To get mail working I changed the default mail app on devices and deleted all the email that was left in Google. The setup process from Fastmail is really good, it sets up the profile and does everything for you.

Calendars was pretty easy too, we have two shared calendars in Google, one for Events and another for Birthdays & Anniversaries. These I simply exported, added to the native mac app and merged. Apple has a calendar for anyone in a ‘Family’ already, and I just added another for the birthdays calendar and shared. Again, just , I had to adjust the default calendar app on devices too. I really like the native calendar app, I probably should have synchronised Google with it a while back, but hey! I know that if you add a birthday into Contacts it also adds it to the calendar, but these aren’t shared so we’d have to both manage everything.

Getting documents out of Google was a bit more tricky. It seems that when you initiate Google Takeout and instruct the export of everything in Google Drive it includes all of my photos too, as Google used to present these as a folder (and still do, although it doesn’t update). The folder isn’t displayed as something that you can unselect but selecting everything else seems to exclude it. Downloading the takeout files is a complete PITA on my internet connection, the files just seem to timeout and fail but once they are down it’s fine. Helpfully Google converts files from their format into Microsoft and those files that I used to use frequently still seem to work. I haven’t yet deleted all of these and am particularly curious if it will let you delete the Google Photos folder, once I have everything backed up I will be deleting everything here.

The one Google service I completely overlooked was YouTube which I will still need to use. I don’t have many YouTube videos but I do have some, erasing them from the internet would be a little frustrating. What I managed to do in the end was to move my channel to a new brand channel called ‘Laurence Andrews YouTube’. This moved all of my videos and subscriptions into a separate channel but retained comments/likes and permalinks. I then created a new personal google account (google@andrews.io) and added this new account as an owner of the new brand channel. This seems to have worked quite nicely, I am signed out of my G-Suite account and still have access to all my content and surprisingly still have my subscriptions too. The final thing to do is to make the new personal google account the primary owner of the new brand channel, this can only be done once it’s been an owner for 7 days, which seems to be a safeguard Google have implemented. Of course, I will still need to have a google account, but there’s not much I can do about that and at the end of the day, it’s going to be difficult to live without YouTube! Here’s a link to moving channels

Moving Photos has been a whole thing, I have shared a blog about the process I used to export from Google and ingest into Apple. Fair to say that this was one of the most painful things I’ve done in a long time. Good news is that I am almost there, Apple now has essentially all of my pictures and once I go through the few that are remaining it’ll all be in one place. This makes me very happy. I look forward to some product improvements with Apple Photos, it’s absolutely better but it’s crying out for better integration into the “Family” functions within Apple. I can share Albums with Victoria but I can’t make that the default for most things, which I’d prefer. The lack of Folder management for Shared albums is annoying too. Another function that would be really helpful is to store a full copy of my library on an external drive but an iCloud optimised library on my local storage. This isn’t a problem yet, but will be if the album grows much more. Certainly a consideration when buying a new mac too, as the internal storage needs to be able to manage the full library.

Aside from the Google shift I have signed up to Backblaze in addition to managing TimeMachine for backups. I’ve been putting this off because of the cost, I have so many subscriptions to services I just couldn’t justify another one but with Google about to go away and save £17 a month (1TB storage + 2 G Suite licences) it makes sense to sign up and cover ourselves. Backblaze has been doing it’s thing on both mine and Victoria’s computers for the last three days, our piddly 6Mbps upload is frustrating for things like this. Still, I think we should almost be there by this time next week. To help it along I spent a good while going through my mac and deleting a load of stuff that I don’t need any more (I have a crazy amount of screenshots and screen recordings stored) and got rid of all the one time applications I installed and no longer need - including Chrome! I did the same on my iPhone too, no more Google things there any more.

All in all, a busy week or so but happy that there is some order in my digital life. :) Now, back to work.

2020 - The Year of Prove

A double entendre for proving things in the literal sense and metaphorically in the baking sense, allowing things to rest and rise. The years prior have been a flurry of activity and excitement with travel, marriage, a puppy and job changes - it’s been fantastic and exhilarating, but we both felt the need for a year of calm, to “rest in position” (as my boss would say) allowing us to focus on ourselves and prepare for what may come in the future.

The News

It’s hard to talk about 2020 without talking about the virus, it turned people’s day to day lives into something which belongs in a thriller movie rather than in our reality. Never would I have considered that something like this would happen on this scale, it is truly frightening. The concept of the government imposing a ‘national stay home’ order alone is completely mind-boggling. We are incredibly grateful and lucky that so far we have survived without much of an impact but as we welcome the new year under ‘Tier 4 lockdown’ rules we are very aware that it is not over yet. There certainly seems to be light at the end of the tunnel and with the vaccine now being rolled out, hopefully, we’ll be back to normal at least by this time next year. For now, we’re planning to continue to hunker down and hibernate. If there’s one thing I will take away from 2020 it’s to never take for granted the simple pleasures of drinking a beer at a bar, hugging friends or sharing dinner with family around a table.

The other big news story of the year is Brexit, which continues to make the headlines most days, as it has done since 2015/2016. I voted to remain in the referendum and am unchanged in that view, I haven’t yet had a discussion with a Brexit voter that hasn’t ultimately ended up with them talking about immigration or a some nonsense about how “they control our laws”. Regardless, the UK is now out of the customs union and free trade area too, as of the 31st December 2020 officially not part of the EU. If I were to travel to France tomorrow (we can’t right now, because of the coronavirus restrictions), my passport would be stamped. I could stay in most countries in the EU for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period. Over the last six years, I’ve probably travelled from the UK to the EU about 60 times. Since passports last for 10 years, even if I continue to travel at the same rate, my papers are going to be pretty well-inked…

Either way, I’m glad that Brexit has reached some conclusion, frankly, I’m sick of talking and reading about it all. I’m hopeful that regardless, the change will bring some prosperity to our country - it is what it is, so let’s get on with it. Oh and I really, REALLY hope that we get rid of those damn cookie popup warnings.

Theme

The pandemic has helped us considerably in achieving the goals of the theme - for the most part, we have had no choice but to rest in position. We couldn’t go out, we couldn’t go on holiday (well, we did just before the pandemic) nor could we at the drop of a hat jump on a plane somewhere. Working from home provided the ability to really focus on ourselves, our health, wellbeing and our finances. Through it all, I can’t recall a year where I have felt closer or happier than to be with Victoria - we’ve certainly never spent as much time together as we have this year! It’s been strange, but despite it all, we’ve remained strong and had some wonderful times.

With the theme in place, our personal news this year was quiet. We stayed in our routines and didn’t shake anything up. We had a brief blip early in the year where we put our house on the market and put a deposit on a new home in Chattenden. After some deliberation, while we were in New York for Valentines Day, we agreed to stick with the theme and reverse that decision. The house was all possible financially but we opted to focus our energy in line with the theme. We are happy that we made the right call and are content where we are, for now, we don’t need more room but do expect to move in the future. Instead, we invested in improving our home, we did some work in the garden, decorated the office and the second bedroom, installed network cabling, Sky TV (for Formula 1) and even got a new fridge for the kitchen. We also finished paying off the boiler which we had replaced last year which broke just before our wedding. We’re happy in our home and with everything that’s been going on this year are glad that we stayed put.

Diet

One major aspect of 2020 was that I continued to eat a vegetarian diet. I switched in November 2019 and while it was a little difficult to get started, have really enjoyed it. I don’t miss eating meat and switching diet has helped a lot in improving cooking and healthy eating. There have been a bunch of benefits, it’s cleaner, easier, cheaper, better for the environment, healthier and reduces my impact of mistreatment/slaughter of animals. Not having to clean up smelly meat juice from the chopping board and sink is honestly a reason enough to switch.

Before anyone jumps up and calls me out, I put my hands up in that I’m not a die-hard, I won’t insist on having my roast potatoes cooked separately if whoever is cooking them happens to be using animal fat, I will eat parmesan cheese (the food of gods), I have at some point eaten sweets made with gelatine, had the odd prawn cracker and not too long ago discovered that the posh Bisto gravy isn’t vegetarian, but the normal one is - whoops! I think that finding a balance is what’s important and what makes the difference, being overly pedantic is not.

For the record, I’m not vegan and for now, have no ambition to be. Eggs are delicious and I don’t understand how people would ever want to live in a world without cheese. Yes, I realise that the link to animal welfare, etc but again it’s all about balance. I have plenty of leather shoes and I’m not going to throw those out anytime soon either. Perhaps in time my opinion will change, we’ll see.

Booze

Another change this year was alcohol. Unprompted, I stopped drinking for four months of the year, from mid-July to mid-November. This was hard and fast, there was no balance and it needed to be that way. I read a book, Allen Carr - Stop Drinking Now. It worked (seriously, it’s an amazing book) and stopping was actually a lot easier than I thought, it was still a thing on my mind, but it wasn’t a hardship. Those four months were while we were out of lockdown, we went to Cornwall, we had friends over, so it wasn’t just us sitting at home. I had no fixed target when I stopped, but wanted to ‘prove’ that I could, in line with the theme. I stayed away from the alcohol-free beers and instead switched to fruit juices, sparkling water and some fancy-pants cordials (Ginger cordial is amazing).

I noticed some changes when I stopped. Most of all, how much money I spend on Alcohol, which was actually really rather shocking (see graph). I slept WAY better - like I couldn’t believe how much better I was sleeping and I felt generally more energised and ‘able’ to go and do some exercise. I even got back into an exercise regime and spent a lot of time on a rowing machine at the gym.

Ultimately, not drinking ever again isn’t for me and so I made a decision, which I slept on, to drink again. I really, REALLY craved red wine and it was torture cooking without a bottle open. In moderation, Alcohol is really rather lovely, I enjoy it and while it’s certainly not good for you, in balance, I don’t think it’s particularly harmful. Of course it’s different for different people but I can say with certainty that I have never been angry or aggressive through drinking and I’m old enough now to know when I’ve had too many, those days are behind me!

In the four months I was off I realised that our society absolutely has a drinking problem. That problem is fuelled by the self-regulating industry and the governmental lack of desire to address the societal problems caused by alcohol. The price of alcohol in supermarkets is outrageous and why alcohol is still being advertised so freely absolutely baffles me. Earlier in the year I was completely caught in Verdant Brewing’s Scarcity-style marketing and sales tactics. I fooled myself into thinking it was a hobby, that their cans were ‘art’ when really I was just buying overpriced beer which often I didn’t really enjoy drinking. I hope that there will be change in the years to come, people shouldn’t be mothered by regulation but the cost between a beer in a pub and a beer in a supermarket shouldn’t be so disparate, accessibility needs to be reduced and risks better publicised.

Fitness

Fitness was a bit of a mixed bag, but certainly an improvement on 2019. I got off to a great start in the new year, did some RunThrough events, was going to Parkrun (got a new PB!), ran my first 10k, was hitting the gym, it was great. Unfortunately, as soon as the pandemic hit I basically stopped. I did some bits and pieces here and there, going to the gym once it opened back up and got out running again as the weather improved. In the summer I did very little but was spurred on as I took my booze-break and did exceptionally well in the gym on the rowing machine mixing that with outdoor running, it felt great. I added in some resistance and weight exercises using Fitbod to keep up with a near-daily morning gym routine. As the 2nd lockdown neared I basically stopped exercising completely, with the statistics in Medway getting worse, even though the gym was open I stopped going. The gyms eventually closed and remain so for now. As the year drew towards a close Victoria and I started using Apple Fitness+ and I have ordered a rowing machine for home which arrives this week (Eeek!).

Health

From a general health perspective, we certainly ate better, with the vegetarian diet we had more money to spend on fresh food. We shopped a lot at M&S, during the pandemic it was a lot easier to park, they initially did a good job of limiting the number of people in the store, the fresh produce is great, there’s limited choice (so we didn’t derail on our list much) and having good food made us happy when there was little else to do. That said, M&S is super expensive, but despite it our weekly shop was not far off being comparable to 2019 given that we weren’t buying meat or wasting money in Pret. We got ourselves into a good groove most weeks using a meal plan or at least cooking meals based on what was in the fridge with nice lunches too.

As the second pandemic hit, going to M&S became more of an inconvenience, they were letting a lot more people in the store and parking was back to normal as other shops were open for ‘click and collect’ so the appeal wore off. We tried Bluewater M&S, which was much quieter, but it’s a little far and honestly there’s too much choice. We’ve since binned M&S entirely and either shop at Asda (closest) or Tesco Online. We’ve been avoiding Asda where possible as that too is frighteningly busy with everything that’s going on. Tesco Online is good, but getting a delivery slot is difficult, and then there is an item limit which makes it a bit annoying to get everything for a week! We did join Costco again and have been maybe 3 times, Costco is amazing, not necessarily the cheapest but it’s much more convenient to buy staples in bulk so that we don’t have to buy washing up liquid, toilet rolls or chopped tomatoes every single week.

Aside from food, I had an operation on my ear earlier in the year. Since birth, I’ve had a Pre Auricular Sinus in my right ear. It’s never really bothered me much, but it was beginning to get a little troublesome. After a consultation I with a fantastic Doctor I had it removed while under a general anaesthetic at the very new, One Welbeck Hospital. The operation was much less shit compared to having my wisdom teeth removed although the process was a little more odd. My ear has been great ever since and I feel silly for not getting on with it and having had it removed sooner.

As the year progressed I had developed some problems with my back, which you can read about in the Micro.Blog, basically waking up in the morning with a bad back (like, really bad). We bought a new mattress, a standing desk, a super-duper chair, tried a posture corrector, tried sleeping in a different bed, nothing made any difference. In the end, I went to the doctor and he gave me some tablets that are working wonders. He suspects that it could be Ankylosing Spondylitis, I had my first MRI in December to figure out what is going on. My hope is that it’s exercise related and that once I get back into a routine it’ll all go away. We’ll see.

Scuba

Not the busiest year for scuba diving, that’s for certain! It’s been tricky getting out to dive, for several reasons but to be honest, with everything going on it’s just not been much of a priority. I did get some dive time in, a dive out of Eastbourne later in the year was fantastic and I did some inland dives at St Andrews too. Southern Scuba’s Buckland lake closed and Tony and Janine moved into St Andrews. I helped them get their website and email up and running. They are doing really well so far, it’s great to see them operating a bigger dive centre. 2021 is going to be a huge year for Southern Scuba and I think St Andrews will be a big success because of them.

Sailing

In the sailing world, we got out on the boat a few times and attempted to compete in the autumn series. Unfortunately, that was cut short by Lockdown 2. I managed to complete my Day Skipper Theory all remotely via Zoom during Lockdown 1, which I was very happy with. Victoria and I joined Medway Yacht Club and were able to visit the bar a total of two times. I passed my RYA SRC course, and now have a small piece of paper permitting me to operate a VHF radio. I debated doing my practical for Day Skipper but it wouldn’t have worked out too well with everything that was going on and frankly, I don’t need the piece of paper right now anyway. In the November sales I got some incredibly discounted sailing clothes, including some Helly Hansen Agir trousers. I also splashed out a bit and bought myself a pair of Dubarry boots too (which I adore). Best of all though was getting to sail a 1902 Bristol Channel Cutter in St Austel Bay. This was one of the most special moments of the year for sure, it was absolutely amazing.

Travel

Ha! Yeah, we didn’t do much of that. Well, before everything kicked off we were lucky to be able to visit New York again. We got a great deal from British Airways, £1,050 for return flights and five nights in the Midtown Hilton. It was a great little holiday, we visited Staten Island, the Met, went up WTC1, drank a lot of beer, ate a lot of food and spent some time in Brooklyn too. We even managed to get a Valentines night booking at Hillstone after I sniped their booking system at just the right time. It was really nice to be able to visit New York having now been there a few times, the pressure was off to ‘do all the things’ and so we took it easy and just had a great time. Looking forward to being able to spend more time in the US in 2021 (fingers crossed).

Luckily, we had no other travel plans for 2020 and so weren’t let down when everyone’s summer holidays were cancelled, we just made do at home and lived to the theme.

Blogging

As usual, I still didn’t blog quite as much as I would like to, despite having literally all the time in the world. To try and address that I have started using Micro.Blog to improve the accessibility of sharing photos, thoughts and updates. I’ve really been enjoying it actually, I love that I can share right from my iPhone without much effort, it posts directly to a sensible web page and even sends it to twitter. I’m not limited to 280-characters either, when I exceed that it wraps it all up automatically in a tweet with a link. There will still be a place for the main blog for posts like this but together with Micro.Blog it all seems to be working well for now. I need to improve on the categorisation of posts in Micro.Blog, but I’ve seen that done, so will have a tinker.

Since there were quite a few things I didn’t blog about, I’m going to publish some snippets of 2020 via Micro.Blog over the next days/weeks and will link them here with some photos.

What a year! Roll on 2021.

George James Haymon - Prior to WW1

George James Haymon is my great-great-grandfather - he’s my mum’s, mum’s, father’s father. Until recently I didn’t know too much about him, but my late grandmother shared with me some of his documents and what she had been told of his life. We are very lucky to have these documents, they’ve survived many years and while not in perfect condition it’s incredible to hold an object that he once held and to read the writing that he once wrote. This series of posts is a dedication to him and a collection of the facts (and questions!) that I have been able to gather bout his life and military career.

George was born in Riverhead, Sevenoaks to Amos and Eliza Haymon (née Coorke) in early 1889. At the time of his birth his father was 42 and his mother was 36. He was the born into a relatively poor, working class, growing family. He had four older siblings, Alice who was a servant in a nearby house and three brothers, William, Harry and Stephen. George was baptised in Otford, near Sevenoaks on the 3rd of July 1889, not far from where his mother was born.

His mother and father, Amos and Eliza went on to have several more children, giving George another sister, Sarah and two more brothers, Edward and Albert. As of 1901 the family had moved to 72 Colebrook Road, a small home in the parish of Southborough, north of Tonbridge Wells in what is now known as High Brooms. The village was relatively new, built to house those those working at the brickworks, which was established in 1885 and a major employer. George and his siblings went to school nearby in what is now known as St Matthew’s Primary School.

At age 12, George would have been old enough to remember the death of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria and the ascension and coronation of King Edward VII. A significant event in Britain, marking the end of the Victoria era and the dawn of the new century under a new monarch.

After finishing school George became a labourer, possibly at the brickworks or alongside his father. After turning 18, George opted to enlist in the Army, likely supported by his elder brother, Harry who was in the Royal West Kent Regiment and posted at Maidstone. The army was at the time in a state of reform, as Britain adapted following the Second Boer War. George enlisted to the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Private (9857) in Chichester just before Christmas 1907. As a new recruit he went through his 49 days of enlistment drill training but saw no active service.

In December of 1907 George changed regiment, leaving the Royal Sussex Regiment with a note of “Good Character” and attested to the Coldstream Guards for 3 years full service and 9 years in reserve, just before his 19th birthday. The Coldstream Guards is a prestigious regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Troops and is stationed in London. Coming from a relatively poor family, serving in this way for his new king must have been an incredible honour. George was assigned service number 7574 and was given his ‘soldiers small book’. He would have been transferred to Wellington Barracks for his service.

Shortly after Christmas that year, George’s Father, Amos died aged 61. It’s likely that George wouldn’t have been at home when he died but his death is reflected in his small book, where his father’s name is crossed out. Later that year George received a Certification of Third Class Eduction as part of his Military Eduction while part of the Guards. Not a lot is know about his time in the service, I’ve unfortunately been unable to find his service documents, although they should exist. It’s most likely that at some point he would have participated in ceremonial duties and even seen the new King.

After he completed his three years service he returned home and became a painter. His family had moved to a new address, 51 in the same street, Colebrook Road. On the 4th February 1911 George married Mary Louise Baker at Tonbridge Registry Office. Mary was living in Walworth, London so it’s very likely that they met while George was stationed in London. They were joined at their wedding by George’s eldest brother, William and mother, Eliza.

Later that year the newly wed couple would have read about the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in June, the last coronation to be attended by the ‘old’ European powers. Mary gave birth to their first son, Amos George on the 29th July 1911, very fitting that he should bear the name of his late grandfather. They remained at home in High Brooms, with George’s mother who was working as a Hawker (Trader).

Between 1911 and 1914 the couple would move to 46 Southview Road in High Brooms, just around the corner from George’s mother and brothers. They would have two more boys, Albert William on the 23rd March 1913 and John Edward on the 28th May 1914. Shortly after the birth of George’s third son, on the 4th August, 1914 everything changes. While George is still serving as a reserve solider, Britain declares war on Germany.

References

  • 1891 Census (via Ancestry), where the Haymon family are living in Marden, Kent
  • 1901 Census (via Ancestry), where the Haymon family are living in High Brooms, Kent
  • 1901 Census (via Ancestry), where Harry Haymon is stationed at Maidstone Barracks
  • 1911 Census (via Ancestry), where the Haymon family are living in High Brooms, Kent
  • England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 (via Ancestry)
  • George’s Soldier’s Small Book (in possession), dated 20th December 1907
  • George’s Third Class Education Certificate (in possession), dated 15th May 1908
  • George’s Certificate of Marriage (in possession), dated 4th February 1911
  • WO96 Document, detailing George’s attestation for Royal Sussex Regiment (via Find My Past), dated 19th November 1906

Software, etc

I saw someone else do one of these posts recently and thought it was a really good idea, so here’s me ripping off that idea… 😈 This post is basically a list of technology-related services/software that I pay for, some of them are fantastic some of them are less good.

You Need a Budget

I don’t know how I would live without this software, in fact, I do know - with less money. YNAB is a personal budgeting app, it tracks where you want to spend your money and helps drive a mindset away from ‘paycheque-to-paycheque’ living (Where you determine if you can afford something based on the money in your account). It is different from most ‘money management’ tools because it’s primary purpose is budgeting, not reporting- although the reporting is fantastic. Victoria and I have saved more money and paid off more debt that I could ever have believed possible. If you don’t feel like you have a tight handle on your money, get YNAB going, it’ll save you and don’t be put off at the price, it’ll pay for itself over and over again. YNAB is $83.99 a year (I don’t know why they don’t do localised pricing…🙄). Here’s my referral link

Sync for YNAB

By default YNAB doesn’t support automatic import of transactions from UK debit/credit accounts. This solves that by using Truelayer or other systems to get data out of these accounts and in to YNAB. As a couple, we have a lot of transactions, manually entering these into YNAB constantly is a pain in the ass, this solves that and everything works beautifully. If you’re new to YNAB, you’re best off manually entering to start with as you should be checking you have money in your budget before you commit to the transaction. Once you know your budgets well, you can let the automation take over. I signed up early in the launch of the service and pay £2.49 a month, which is very reasonable.

Bear Pro

A long time ago I used to use Evernote, well, everyone did, at the time it was fantastic. But the thing with taking notes is that you either want to do it quickly (and not open up a whole massive application), or you want to brainstorm and think (and don’t want to be distracted) and Evernote wasn’t very good for either of those things. When I switched to using an iPhone and Mac on a daily basis one of the first things I did was move to Bear. It’s simple, clean, well designed and supports all of my devices. I can search, store things in markdown, tag and even stack tags. It’s perfect, I love it and I hope it doesn’t change.

Todoist

I have a love hate relationship with Todoist. When I’m really busy and managing lots of things at the same time, Todoist is an absolute saviour, I can figure out what I need to do first before I just do the thing I want to do. However, when I’m less busy I don’t get the value from having to manage Todoist and find it easier to just use a notepad. Great software though and very happy to pay for it, even if I don’t necessarily use it all the time. There’s no question that it’s the best todo list application available.

Micro.blog

This is the newest contender to the list. I recently discovered micro.blog which is basically a middle ground between a full-on blog post (such as this) and a tweet. My blog is hosted on Github Pages and I normally use Atom to publish posts, which is fine, but it’s only really possible to do so from my Mac and to do so take a little while. Micro.blog allows me to quickly post quick thoughts and images using an App on my phone or Mac without all the hassle of Atom, I’ve not tested it when travelling yet, but my hope is that it’ll work really well. Plus, although it’s separate to my blog, I can keep access to the content and even have micro.blog send it to a GitHub repo. Oh, and it’ll post everything to twitter automatically - easy. I have subscribed (but not yet started paying), it’s $5 a month which seems very fair.

1Password

Switched from Dashlane a year or so ago after being suckered in by Dashlane’s product design. In the time I was a subscriber I felt like there was zero product development while Lastpass and 1Password were jumping ahead. The interaction Dashlane has (had?) with the autocomplete in a browser was VERY annoying, to the extent that I simply didn’t use the browser extensions. Moving to 1Password was a great decision, the product just works better. I ran both side by side for almost a year while I moved everything over (which was a complete PITA). I especially love the 2FA integration with 1Password, although I believe Dashlane has that too now. 1Password basically does everything I could ask of a password manager and it works very well via the browser extension, doing a good job of knowing what thing I want (new password, password update, etc) at the right time. We have a family account, so we can share certain passwords, etc, it costs $71.82 a year.

Toothfairy

This is just a cute little app, it helps connect/disconnect bluetooth devices quickly on Mac. Saves time going into the bluetooth menu and also shows a customisable items on the task bar with battery status. I use it mostly to determine whether my AirPods are connected to my Macbook. It does work with Big Sur, but I van’t confess to having used it quite as much as I did on Catalina. No idea how much I paid, not a lot.

Gemini2

This is an absolutely genius app. You can point Gemini2 at a directory and it will find duplicated or similar files, simple. This is particularly useful for folders of photographs which contain lots of similar photographs - I have a terrible habit of taking a bunch of pictures of the same thing and this helps contain my ever expanding photo library. I recently moved all of my photos from Google to Apple and I ran Gemini2 over all of the photos I moved. I can’t quite remember how much storage I saved, but it was pretty considerable, and of course I have a cleaner photo library too. The website looks shady AF, but the software is the real deal.

DayOne

I desperately want to routinely journal, but really struggle to do so. I’ve used DayOne on and off for a number of years now but still don’t have a LOT of content in there, but I do have some. I absolutely love being able to read back on old journal entries and see what I was doing on that particular day. The real value with DayOne is that the journals are obviously private and so unlike a blog you can share thoughts and feelings in a way that you wouldn’t in a public blog post. Those thoughts and feelings are REALLY amazing to read back after time has passed, they capture a level of detail that you will have forgotten about. I pay for DayOne, it’s really expensive, but even if I capture a few fleeting thoughts here and there, it’s worth it.

Amazon Web Services

A long time ago I used to do all my backups to AWS using some funky desktop tool, now I’m sensible and let the app developers interact directly with AWS. I still have a few other bits and pieced in AWS, but not a lot. I use Route 53 for hosting my public DNS zone files, I do so because I prefer that they’re separate from the registrar and I’d hope that they are relatively safe in AWS. I also host some static content using S3, mostly images, PDFs. Together this costs next to nothing, although Route53 isn’t the cheapest.

Google Workspace

Want to use a custom domain for all your google services? You need Google Apps, also known as G Suite and now known as Workspace. This made sense a while back, for a small fee you got a bunch of controls and benefits. It’s now morphed into a fully fledged thing and it’s becoming more and more of a pain to look after. I plan on migrating everything out of Google, (I’ve already extricated photos) and instead using iCloud and Fastmail. Very much on the roadmap, a job for another day.

Moving from Google Photos to Apple Photos

A while back I moved all my photos from Google Photos to Apple Photos. It was a massive pain, because Google Takeout doesn’t give you your photos in a very sensible way. If you have custom albums, photos are exported in the ‘date’ directories and then also exported in the ‘custom’ album directories - so you either need to ignore the custom albums or check for duplicates. Also, some files will retain their exif data (date/time, GPS, etc) but not all, those that don’t google will have moved it to a .json file of the same name - which Apple doesn’t read. I also found a bunch of files that where the exif data was just broken but could be repaired.

Here’s a very simple overview of the steps that I took, to get my pictures into Apple. I’ve omitted some of the obvious steps, so engage brain before following this. All commands were run on my mac, locally - If you’re using Apple photos and you’re not on a Mac, you’re going to have a bad time.

The first step is of course to actually get your data out of Google, you can ask for it in whatever size files you want. I picked 10Gb and so over a period of time downloaded each one. If you have a lot of photos/videos in Google then you’re going to need to manage your storage on your mac carefully. Ideally, you want to run these commands and manage the import of files while they are located on the on-board SSD storage (unless you have a fast SSD external drive), running these commands while the files are on a slow disk drive will take a long-ass-time, but is certainly possible.

Once you’ve got your files downloaded and stored, extract everything. I found storing in folders by year worked best so I could manage the import in batches. Go ahead and do some folder house keeping to get that ready. If you see there are folders with friendly album names my experience shows that the files in here will also be in the dated folders too, so worry about the dated folders for the time being. You can always check back later and make sure you’ve got everything.

When you’re ready to tackle your first batch, you can optionally choose to get rid of any edited images and duplicates. I had very few edited images, and those that I did have, weren’t edited very well or were an artefact of Google’s self-editing processes.

Delete all edited images to reduce duplicates.

The below command is quite aggressive, it’ll delete anything with ‘edited’ in the name. Once that’s complete I use a software package called Gemini2 to check for duplicated files in the directory, this is a fantastic tool and not only does it check for exact duplicates it also checks for similar pictures. You can review these or delete them, I was aggressive and just deleted anything that was similar. It’s best to run Gemini2 now, as you can run it against a specific directory, once you’ve imported to Apple Photos you can only run it against your whole library. If you run it now, you’re also going to avoid Apple uploading potential duplicates to iCloud.

find ./ -name “*edited*” -type f -delete

You can then run the Gemini2 app against your directory.

List number of file types per extension

This command will simply list the number of files and file types in each directory. If you have a lot of movie files, you can optionally move these elsewhere to speed up processing and help manage disk space - I did this, because I had tons of crappy videos. Take a note of the this output for later, it’s helpful to just keep tabs on how many files you’re processing.

find . -type f | perl -ne 'print $1 if m/\.([^.\/]+)$/' | sort | uniq -c | sort -n

Check which files are missing data or are damaged

This command which you should run in the directory of your files will recursively check through the directory and add a line in a CSV with the date/time fields from the exif data of the image (not from the json) and the filename. It’s set to ignore the DS_Store and json files so that they don’t show up in the CSV. You could instead specify the image file types, although I found I had a bunch of random file types which were all images.

exiftool -DateTimeOriginal --ext json --ext DS_Store -r -csv ./ > out.csv

Once you’ve done that you can read the CSV and see how many files are broken and how many have got the right information. I found that about 10% of my images were broken.

Filter Broken Images

I used the sort functions in Excel to list only those files which didn’t have date/time populated. I then copied the list of course files and stored in a text file called missing. You can create the file using Vi or Nano (as below) and then simply paste from Excel and save. I stored this file in the root of the batch’s director alongside the CSV file (which you don’t need to save).

vi missing.txt

Prepare for Json shenanigans

The objective here is to repopulate the missing data for the broken files by extracting it from the file’s json file. Not every file will have a json file, but most should. First we need to get a list of the json files. The below command duplicates the file we just created.

cp missing.txt missingjson.txt

Once that’s done you can open the new file in Vi and using a snazzy command you can append .json to each line in the file.

vi missingjson.txt

Run this once you’re in Vi:

%s/$/.json/

Separate broken and non-broken files.

We’ll create a new directory called broken and move all of the files which we’ve identified as broken to it. Once done, we’ll also move all of the json files too. You’re going to see some errors here because not all of the files will have an associated json file. You can make a note if you want. Some files may have trailing spaces and they won’t move, so you can move these manually.

mkdir broken/
cat missing.txt | xargs -I % mv % broken/
cat missingjson.txt | xargs -I % mv % broken/

Now that we’ve done that we have a folder full of files that look like they’re missing data. We can then begin to repair the data or fix it using the below commands.

Repair the exif data in the files

This command is designed to fix corruption in exif data. You can read about it here, point 20b. We’re going to run this against all the files in the ‘broken’ directory. You’re going to see some errors here but I saw good success in it fixing exif for a number of files.

exiftool -all= -tagsfromfile @ -all:all -unsafe -icc_profile ./broken/

Fix GPS and Date

If that didn’t work, hopefully we can restore from the json file. This command will read the file’s json file and then restore to the files exif. It will overwrite the files when it does this. There are lots of fields in the json, I was only interested in data/time and GPS coordinates.

exiftool -r -d %s -tagsfromfile '%d/%F.json' '-GPSAltitude<GeoDataAltitude' '-GPSLatitude<GeoDataLatitude' '-GPSLatitudeRef<GeoDataLatitude' '-GPSLongitude<GeoDataLongitude' '-GPSLongitudeRef<GeoDataLongitude' '-DateTimeOriginal<PhotoTakenTimeTimestamp' -overwrite_original broken/

This won’t work for all files. But we’ve done our best at this point.

Check back over if you need.

You can use the earlier command to see how many files you’ve fixed the date for if you want, although you may be able to gauge from the CLI.

Import to Apple Photos

When I importing into Photos import all pictures directly into an album (e.g. year_imported), this allow you to create a separate smart album filter against your specific import batch. Once you’ve imported you can use a smart album to see any photos which have a captured date before or after my selected year. If you don’t import to an album, it’s not possible to filter on ‘recently imported’ in the same way (date added variable is limited to the last 1 day, so you can’t differentiate multiple imports on the same day)

Once done, you can select all images/videos with incorrect date and manually set the date to something within that year (e.g. 1/1/year) to avoid photos showing up in completely the wrong place. You can do this in apple by selecting all photos.

Repeat for each batch

This is a long winded process and is almost certainly not the most efficient way of doing this, but it seemed to work for me. Apologies if I haven’t attributed anyone for the commands, I did this about 9 months ago and wrote this based on the notes I took at the time. I do however remember trying to piece things together and certainly didn’t find a comprehensive guide on this.

If this helped, send me a tweet ✌️

Seven Time World Champion

The best Formula 1 season in history? It’s certainly up there and there’s no doubt in my mind that it has been the most memorable. It doesn’t feel like very long ago that the sport was thrown into turmoil when the opening race in Melbourne was dramatically cancelled just before it was due to start. Somehow, F1 organisers managed to pull together a 17-race season that while lacked the ‘flyaway’ circuits instead featured classic tracks such as Imola, Portimão and the Nürburgring.

Lewis has been dominant this season, winning ten of the fourteen races so far and matching and then exceeding the most wins in history. His win here at Turkey was earned, he started sixth after a disruptive, wet Saturday session but knuckled down on a wet and slippery Sunday to take 1st place and with it, his 7th world title - a record many believed unattainable.

There’s no question now that Hamilton is the greatest of all time and he’s far from done yet. Which begs the question, why has he not yet been knighted?

He know's he's lost it...

There’s no doubt that we’re living in a time where history is being written. Since the results of the 2020 US Presidential election were announced Trump has insisted that he is the rightful winner, despite, err… Democracy.

After days of victory claiming and tweeting nonsense he slipped up with this gem:

Before later reassuring his following that didn’t concede:

This saga is as entertaining and frightening as I hoped it would be. I absolutely love that Twitter have added the dispute tags to his tweets. Can’t wait to see what happens next, I hope they make a Netflix documentary out of it.