OK 2022. As usual I re-read 2021 to work out where I was at the start of this year. We had been in our new house for 6 months and we had also spent 6 months uncovering the quirks of baby C’s brain as he had seizures of increasing severity about once a month.
This year I learnt how incredibly challenging the planting conditions in our garden are. It is dominated by a huge beautiful 40ft cedar tree, but underneath is dry shade. I don’t really want to be watering things in the garden. I have enough to do without giving myself the hassle of a load of plants that can only survive with daily attention.
We did have broad beans and sweet peas in spring, tomatoes in summer and dahlias in autumn. The strawberry and raspberry yield was terrible.
With our first spring I spent a lot of time staring at the pond which initially was full of frogs pulsing and rolling around, then there was the frogspawn, and then finally thousands of tadpoles that made the surface of the water shimmer constantly. I hope they’ll be back next year, along with the newts I was very pleased to find.
The house we moved in to was fine, totally livable. But some things needed doing. They are all boring but here’s a list:
- Cavity wall insulation
- Plastering over the artex
- Removal of mold cupboard / replastering of mold wall
- Repainting of main bedroom and hall (where the artex had been)
- Repainting of fascia boards
- Cleaning gutters
- Solar panels
- Curtains for three bedrooms
- Re-covered one conservatory chair cushion
- Bought a bed for our room
There is much more to do. There is not a single room that I am completely happy with, although my office is pretty close.
I’m still employed as a Principal Engineer by the Financial Times. After being tech director for seven months in 2021 I went into last year determined to lean into the bits I missed of the principal engineer role when I returned to it. I ran a book club, started having skip level meetings with my report’s reports and introduced the team to weeknotes for talking about work and team bonding purposes.
- Oversaw the launch of the FT Edit - the first of what I hope will be many products the FT launches to make our writing available at a more affordable price
- Pitched for, set up and oversaw a team of 5 engineers rebuilding a core part of our content pipeline.
- Gave a talk about the journey the apostrophe in Sarah O’Connor’s name goes on from being typed to somebody reading it in a byline.
- Did some other massive Engineering Management jobs that I probably shouldn’t put in a public blog post.
- Was in this video about the raspberry pi which I had forgotten about but was actually pretty neat?
- Spoke on a panel about career progression
Family, life events, some good photos.
C and his dodgy wiring
At the beginning of this year I wrote:
This year we discovered that Baby C has seizures, probably just the kind that young children have. So we’ve spent a lot of time in A&E, and assorted other bits of the local hospitals.
The optimism! It turns out he has something more complicated than febrile seizures. In April he had an enormous one, lasting 40 minutes, that left him temporarily unable to walk. It happened while he was at home but I was working and Lachie came into my office holding him while I was on a work call which I immediately hung up on. In July he had one at nursery and I had to put birkenstocks on and sprint the 300 metres down the road to him. He was on the floor still seizing and next to him was a circle of 15 little water bottles where all his classmates had been enjoying a snack before they were escorted out of the room. All of the women who work there were calmly following their protocols but when I saw them at the end of the day to pick up Edith it was clear some of them were still in shock.
After the April seizure I took six or seven weeks off work. For the first bit it was because he was too sick to be in nursery but then he went back and I realised I was too shattered to be in work. People sent presents and flowers and whatnot and I cried at every single gift.
The weather was just getting pleasant so some of the time I pottered around in the garden. I think I watched a lot of telly? Or did I read a lot? I can’t remember. I did make a small tapestry of a landmark local to Lachie’s parents out of found wool from the same area. How very cottagecore of me.
I called the Employee Assistance number and talked to a nice lady in Blackpool who I wanna say was called Linda? Talking was helpful and eventually I got on a call with her and said “I don’t have anything to talk about this week, shall we call it quits?” and she was happy about that.
Either from the medication, or getting older, or having fewer illnesses (which cause inflammation which cause seizures, the theory goes) C appears to be getting better. Let’s all manifest a zero seizure year for 2023 people.
Bean machine starts school
No idea why I call my eldest “bean machine” but here we are. She doesn’t even really like beans? She started school this year and is very into it which is a relief. I’m fairly nonplussed about all the admin schools think I have time for but there we are.
Another year at the Yorkshire farmhouse with all the family. Thankfully finally we got a holiday where nobody got really sick after last year’s very cursed family holidays. We went directly from that to a week in glorious Broadstairs where I ate ice cream every day and Lachie and I got out for a couple of evening drinks without the kids. Heaven.
Some good weddings
Helen and Chris finally had their covid delayed wedding in a very well heated barn. It was absolutely beautiful and I danced until 1am.
Carrie and Ben had a second wedding (the first being a remote zoom covid wedding) in a fancy house in Hampshire and I was deeply happy to be with my school friends, together, celebrating “Ken and Barry” as Carrie’s dad mistakenly called them in his speech.