Besides work and parenting, I did manage to do some other things this year. Music has its own page, so here we cover holidays and hobbies.

Cinema trips 3

Lego Batman; Hidden Figures; Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

New niblings 1

Born on their sibling’s birthday!

Board games gained 8

Wordsy, Agricola, Pears, Rummikub Kids, One Zero One, Carcassonne. Skulls, Love Letter. I think Kingdomino or Colt Express were my favourite to play.

Library books taken out 17

The Mirror Empire; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet; The Shining Girls; The Modern World; Fahrenheit 451; The Wilful Princess & the Piebald Prince; One Small Step; Fair Rebel; Annihilation; eight toddler books. Don’t panic, I read lots more, from The Muse to Cold Welcome...

Pub quizzes played 1

Queen’s Arms, Birmingham

Pub quizzes won 1


NT/EH/HES visited 19

Wightwick Manor, Acorn Bank, Doone, Iona Nunnery & Monastery, Dunstaffnage, Linlithgow Palace, Bolsover, Shugborough, Wrest Park, Newhailes, Waverley Abbey, Devil's Punch Bowl, Leith Hill Tower & Place, Hatchlands Park, Runnymede, Stonehenge, Old Sarum


Family reunion, Dufton YHA

My dad is one of nine, so every couple of years we book an entire youth hostel or similar for a family reunion. This year was in Dufton, in that area between the Lake District and the North Pennines. The youth hostel had a lovely treehouse ship, and lovely walks were had by all.


Our holiday with my sister’s family and our parents this year was to the island of Mull, off the coast of Oban.

We stayed in a lovely house near Ulva (view above), and over the week visited Bala^WTobermory, Staffa (Mendelssohn! Puffins!), Calgary Beach, Iona, and more.

Oxenford Gatehouse, Surrey

“Had a lovely weekend with some unseasonably warm and bright weather. Saturday was spent first at Waverley Abbey (wear waterproof shoes! We didn’t) and then gruffalo hunting at Alice Holt (think this was its final weekend), having to continually explain why we didn’t see any real gruffalos, plus brief trip to Devil’s Punch Bowl. Sunday, east to Leith Hill Tower & Place (Tower opens first) and saw the sea! Then aborted trip to Polesden Lacey due to nap time, and to Hatchlands Park for the pianos and treehouse. Off home via Runnymede. Love the key & the building.”

The Wardrobe, Salisbury

“A lovely weekend1 high in the Close. We came here to visit the Terry Pratchett exhibition at Salisbury Museum, which was excellent, as was the rest of the museum. Also on Saturday we visited the market, saw ‘A Sea Symphony’ being rehearsed in the cathedral, and returned later for evensong. On Sunday, we caught the bus to Stonehenge (much changed since our last visit2) and then Old Sarum, both very interesting. Old Sarum has more up&downs for a 2 year old, but the audio guide fascinated her round Stonehenge.

“The view over this desk while writing this is pretty good itself, if somewhat overshadowed by the front.

1 Apart from 4.30am awakenings.

2 Not the stones.”

This year I made a number of performance improvements to my unofficial train times journey planner, including a service worker for offline access, HTTP/2, critical CSS inlining, and minimal JavaScript (dropping jQuery). A results page is now c. 9KB cold, compared to 380KB for the official site. More details

I also used my split ticket site to save lots of money, many times. I’m glad so many have found my site useful over the year.

Slack Away Plus

After work moved from IRC to Slack earlier in the year, one thing I missed was being able to mark myself away and provide a reason at the same time. So I wrote a /gone command that can be used instead of /away to both mark yourself as away and set a status at the same time. For example, when off for lunch, you could enter /gone :bread: Lunchtime and then /gone when you're back.

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