It’s been a while. The last post on this site was literally two years ago and was a rundown of my 2020. It’s been a bit weird since, hasn’t it? I mean, the world got weirder. Stuff keeps happening. Such is time.
At the end of 2020 I moved out of the engineering team at Logikcull and took my first management role, running the small but effective design team. Through my whole career I’ve operated in a hybrid development/design position - at first because that’s just what we did, and then later as a bridge in the gap between ‘full stack’ engineers and pure designers. Switching fully into design, having the knowledge and skills of an engineer was definitely an advantage. It meant I was able to drive the team effectively. I found the management side of the role difficult. Being a small team, I wanted to focus my efforts more on the creating side and less on the management/admin side, and it always felt like I was running uphill, looking after the interests of those above and below in the organisation and it was hard.
It was a stressful two years in that regard but the experience I gained will prove to be invaluable. Ultimately though I missed the doing. I missed creating and more importantly for me, I missed creating in code. I’ve always considered what I do at the front-end of the front-end to be ‘design in code’. Art not science. Design engineering. So I started bringing more of that back into my work stream and a change in the organisation has meant I’ve been able to go back to doing that full time. All of a sudden I’m building again and solving problems fast and with near immediate results. I’m much happier.
I love to get about and over the last two years as the world has been opening back up, I’ve had the opportunity to do that more. I’m no great explorer — I’m not backpacking along the Silk Road or anything. For me, any new place will do. It’s all about the experience and making your own adventures. We’ve had a few proper holidays and short breaks in the UK and into Europe as a family or as a couple (my son is 17 now so sometimes stays home - it’s nice to get breaks on our own). I’ve been snowboarding in Austria with some friends, and work has afforded me the opportunity to visit the US more - most recently North Carolina and Denver, and shortly I’ll be heading to Miami.
It’s the act of travel that gets me though. Even on a small scale - just leaving home to visit a different city for a night or two; camping in a farmer’s field to see a gig in a town hall in rural Lincolnshire; getting the train to Manchester to see some friends perform. There’s opportunity for adventure at every turn.
It’s easier when I travel solo because it’s easier to see that adventure. If a flight is delayed or a last train is missed - that means a new adventure has begun. That’s not so easy to sell when you’re having to consider more than just your own playful mind.
Lots to talk about here from the last two years. It’s been pretty brilliant. Since the beginning of the first COVID lockdown I’ve been running a regular (weekly and latterly fortnightly) online open mic night, bringing in musicians and performers as well as audience members from across the globe. This little club that spontaneously formed has been a port in stormy waters for me and its members through some trying times. Performers from Lockdown Open Mic have gone on to release numerous singles and achieved great things in their subsequent music careers, and will continue to. I’m very proud of what we achieved there and proud of what every single member achieved. (Check out Alex Victoria, Chelle Millar & David Turley, Rob Modus)
As I type this, Lockdown Open Mic approaches its third anniversary and we’re finally going to draw a line under it. It’s served it’s purpose and the time has come. It’s a bittersweet moment.
My own musical life has been bonkers. When things started opening up again, I started frequenting real-life open mic nights. I started gigging in pubs on Friday and Saturday nights, performing Sweet Caroline to drunken singalongs. I wrote a whole bunch of songs, met a producer and started recording my album.
The first single from that album, The Things I Think was released in December 2022. It’s an Americana sad song about heartbreak and longing. If I can leave you crying, I’ll leave you happy.
The reception to that first single has been amazing. It’s had numerous radio spins, including being named Single of the Week on BBC Introducing (York and North Yorkshire). It’s not a Grammy, but for a self-published debut single, I’m very proud of what it’s achieving. There’s more singles ready to release in the new year and the album will be out in the Summer.
A mixed bag really. Tremendous highs and personal achievements, but some lows too. My mental health took a battering for a number of reasons, as I’m sure did so many other people’s, and my physical fitness has taken a bash as a result, which is kind of a viscious cycle. I feel like I’m getting on top of at least one of those things though, having had a bit of therapy. I’ve got the tools in my belt now to keep my keel more even.
Oh, and I was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal condition and had two surgeries for that that didn’t really work. I always forget about that. It’s just something that’s there now and I deal with it. It’s uncomfortable to painful but doesn’t deter my desire for adventure, so I can deal.
Back to Design Engineering in my career, learning new tech and being more useful. Releasing and performing more music. Travelling and adventuring more. Taking every opportunity.
And blogging I suppose. Let’s start using personal sites more. Even if it’s just for cathartic self reflection like this. I’ve updated this site and it’s a work in progress. Maybe I’ll write about that soon.