Category: Life

Life is not just about the home. Important experiences happen anywhere and everywhere.

Light-up Spinning Top in the Dark

Something about these toys appeals to me. The Kid got a few so I snapped some pictures, expecting a blurry mess. And that’s what I got, but in a good way! I love how the projected red light looks in the longer exposure photos.


I love how ice looks when it forms on something smooth and flat like glass. If I didn’t have to scrape it all off in a hurry to get to work I’d stare at it for at least two minutes. What? It’s freezing out there…

Working with Covid-19

I don’t appear to have had Covid-19, this post is more about working with it in the world, not working whilst ill!

Bit of a rambling post, I’m adding to it between jobs so forgive any abrupt topic shifts.

Schools are closed, but students still need to learn. As tech support for a school, enabling this has been… Well, easy to be honest. We’re a Google school so the shift for our students (and those teachers that bothered to learn it…) has been relatively simple. But there’s more to a school than enabling teachers to provide material and help to students. The challenges arose (and continue to become apparent) with all the other departments that enable teachers to do their jobs; wellbeing, admin, safeguarding, leadership, the list goes on.

For us in tech support, the whole team has been busy providing support for the schools in the local area. We’re avoiding going on-site wherever possible, though this is not always avoidable. Remote support is not something we had prepared for, either. We’ve been using Chrome Remote Desktop to get on to other user devices who are also at home, but as nobody has local admin and Chrome Remote Desktop won’t pass through UAC prompts we’ve been unable to fix a small subset of issues. Something to correct moving forward for sure – a remote assistance like product (something along the lines of GoToAssist or LogMeIn) would be swell, but it’s a bit late to deploy it now.

We had to roll out laptops to our non-teaching staff, but unfortunately with limited devices available many staff simply don’t have the ability to do much work that can’t be done on a phone. Many people who said they have devices at home didn’t account for the fact that their two-point-four kids and partner would also be needing it. We didn’t take this in to account either and are paying for it now.

Some students also don’t have devices, however the DfE is offering devices to those most vulnerable. We’ll see how that goes, I can’t imagine there’s a stock of millions of laptops stored in a warehouse somewhere, but something is better than nothing!

I’ve wanted to work from home for a long time and have biased towards tools that can be used from anywhere. Rolling these out to a wider user base has certainly highlighted issues in our processes and changes we can make in the future, however for now we’re… doing pretty well, actually.

The impact on education won’t be felt for a long time, but there are already some interesting developments.

Some staff are arguing for the use of what are effectively spying tools to check up on both staff and students. Thankfully, this is being outright rejected by senior staff in our school. Others are demanding a lot of their teams, forgetting that some of them have kids and/or elderly and vulnerable relatives and neighbours to look after. This is having a direct impact on the teaching and learning – some staff are just exhausted. I’m getting emails from staff late at night and very early in the morning. Students are also submitting work at unhealthy hours.

I love working from home. Much more productive, fewer interruptions lead to better quality of work faster. It’s great. But for some it’s clear their home-life does not facilitate it well.

I’m hoping once the pandemic is over, we keep what we’ve learned and don’t just rush right back in to how life was before. I’m not sure I can survive a full-time office job anymore….

Is it a bird? Yes

This poor lil’ tweeter flew into our kitchen window!


We have a cat so quickly plucked the little bird off the floor and put him up on a bird table. After a short rest it flew off, happy as can be.

As I was carrying it to the bird table it snuggled right into my hand and wouldn’t get off. Must have liked the warmth. Cute!

Baby ProTip #4713

Little baby gotta take medicine? Aww, poor thing 🙁 Odds are you’ll be given a syringe which, whilst it works, is a bit of a pain to work with when it comes to delivering the liquid to the child.

Instead, measure out the dosage using the syringe then squirt it into an upsidedown clean bottle teat for the baby to drink from! No need to attach the bottle, just carry the teat over – careful to not spill any – and let the baby suck it from there. Make sure it’s a low flow teat, or it’ll come out on it’s own as you take it to your baby.


We had a kid! Spawned a child process!

Having a child is a very strange experience. Being the father I have it pretty easy physically, though mentally and emotionally it’s quite… unique. It’ll take a while to fully digest this mental gear-change and I don’t think I could write about it accurately enough to do it justice, so I won’t attempt to just yet.

Like with most things, theory only gets you so far. You need to experience it to fully appreciate it, and appreciate it I now do.

I expect every birth is different at some level, whether it’s the process itself or the attitudes and reactions of the individuals involved (including family, friends, as well as – and in some ways most importantly – the medical staff, more on this below) but there’s one thing which I suspect is consistent across all births.

Shit me is it tiring.

He was born at the end of May, and I’ve only had the energy to post one small update here since then. In fact, this article has been written in short bursts since the previous one went up because it has been tricky to find the energy to post here whilst we’ve been home (apologies if it reads somewhat awkwardly.) There’s always something to be done, not including the remaining renovation work we still need to do. Being in hospital though? That is an entirely different beast.

We ended up being in the hospital ward for nearly a week. I was lucky enough to be able to escape once or twice a day (to feed the cat, or take receipt of our poorly timed new sofa delivery) but my Significant Other spent every minute inside a single small room. That look on recently rescued miners faces when they see daylight for the first time in months? I bet it was a bit like that for her when we finally left.

What didn’t help our stress levels was the two occurences of building work that went on in that week at the hospital. One was right outside our window, the view from which was simply of a different wing of the hospital across a 20m gap between the buildings, so not exactly a picturesque vista. We had to keep this window open too as it was at least 34C in that room at best. They were running cable or something, and heavy tools were out in use for two days.

The heat in the ward was almost unbearable. I know they keep it warm in there (to keep the little babies nice and snug!) but this was over the top.

It turned out the aircon was broken. This was the cause of the second set of building work. About a dozen intimidating big burly blokes climbing ladders in hallways and going into the suspended ceiling with drills and hammers taking apart metal ducting (loudly) to try and get the ward down to a decent temperature. Having all these workmen patrolling and working, covering everything in ceiling tile dust, couldn’t have been a calming factor for any of the women or babies in there. I felt bad for those unlucky enough to be in a shared room, though (typically) those women get to leave after a day or so at most.

After three days of this chaos they did get everything up and running. Unfortunately this was achieved the evening before we left, so we didn’t really get to appreciate it.

I hinted above that the medical staff’s reaction and behaviour to you is an important element in your perception of the experience. Special and unfortunate mention here for them: they, generally, sucked.

The saying “There are always some bad eggs” is an understatement of such proportions that it gets flipped on its head. We were pleasantly surprised when we spoke with someone who seemed to give a fuck, let alone show compassion. I have a great deal of respect for NHS staff and don’t blame them for being jaded or stressed. They are underappreciated, overworked and many roles are underpaid. But those who show this disinterest would probably do everyone a favour if they moved on to something else. It might kick the government up the ass a bit if everyone on the NHS staff started looking after themselves instead of taking the amount of shit they deal with daily on the chin. Unfortunately, the sick and injured will suffer. Rock, meet hard place.

I know it’s not as simple as that and voting for change is the best way forward. The ward we were on is fairly renown for being not that great once everything goes off-script (as the birth of our child tore up the script then set fire to it, this applies to us) but it’s difficult to fondly remember any part of the birth or the following week. And this sucks.

We’ve got a healthy baby now, though, and that’s awesome. But it doesn’t make the experience okay. There will forever be a bad taste in our mouths when we remember this in the coming years, but for the sake of our sanity, our happiness, and the small human being we now find ourselves responsible for, we have to move on as best as we can.

I expect that as time moves on and he grows (oh, that reminds me: they told us the wrong weight at birth. I don’t know how they got that wrong) I will find myself with more time for this site, and I will no doubt have more thoughts on fatherhood and being a parent in general. I’ve also got renewed focus on some technology stuff now that the home renovation isn’t exhausting us to quite the same level. I’m eager to write up some stuff on that front, too!

Onwards and upwards!

ps. Star Trek Picard looks amazing.

Hello, world!

Hi there.


Hey. Been a while!

Spotted enemy number 1 the other day. The cat got into a fight a few months ago and we have finally identified the attacker.

We spotted this cat teetering on the edge of attacking our cat in our back garden a little while ago, but it was dark and we couldn’t clearly make him (or her) out. As soon as it saw us it ran (ineffectively being chased by our own cat – thanks for the assist but you wouldn’t have done anything if we hadn’t been there I bet!)

We’ve finally spotted him/her peering into our property in the daytime:

Evil incarnate

Didn’t manage to get any closer than this before the cat bolted.

I hope this cat and our own can become pals, but I expect it won’t happen. Our cat is too much of a pushover. Poor boy 😀


I am not good at anything food related. I love food and am a willing assistant in the kitchen, but if I’m in charge of the salad, I’ll burn it.

Enter my partner. She isn’t a professional cook, but her food equals and exceeds that of the nicest restaraunts I have ever been to.

We’re both eager to spend less money and are always reviewing our purchases. One regular slice of our expenditure cake that we are actually very happy with is our food. We regularly buy individual food components and build a meal from them, rather than buying something pre-made and ready to cook. There are exceptions to this, though. For example, we don’t buy the ingredients to make bread (…yet) we just buy damn bread. It’s cheaper to buy it than make it in our case anyway. There are other instances of this, where it’s easier and/or cheaper to buy pre-made than make from scratch. Often, these pre-made things become one ingredient in a bigger meal, the rest being home made (and even home grown in some cases!) and quite often the leftovers of the meal or ingredients form part of the meal for the next day. For example, slow-cook a whole chicken, use the breasts/legs in a meal then use the rest of the meat on a delicious pizza, with the carcass being used to make a delicious soup!

Homemade(-ish) Chicken & Sweetcorn pizza

We’ve found ourselves with quite the collection of go-to meals. Meals that we can recreate easily and cheaply that taste great and are healthy. Well, healthier than the store-bought versions anyway. And yes, occasionally we’ll have chicken a few days in a row, but when it tastes as good as it does, you really don’t care.

We should probably share these recipies… Rather than having 100% home made food, which quite frankly is more effort than we’re willing to put in right now, perhaps we should publish our homemade-ish food recipies with the focus on taste, money, health and simplicity. I’ve found it can be difficult to get all four of those into the same meal, and sometimes we don’t (just check out that pizza above) but we try.

As we grow more food in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to experiement more and come up with some even tastier, healthier, cheaper and simpler meals. If we do, we’ll post them here.

New Year, New Life

2019 is going to be a very interesting year!