The year ahead

My review of 2018 was nothing more than an abridged Instagram post.

I will give 2019 a little more space, if only to get back into the swing of blogging after the winter break. Think football rather than any anti-christian rhetoric for the choice of words, there.

2018 involved some upheaval. New jobs for A. and me. We had intended to try and move house, but things ran away from us. So let’s start there:

New beginnings

We moved in to our house in the autumn before LLK was born. The thought of climbing the stairs in a back to back terrace with babe in arms was too much. Aligned with A. coming home and saying she had found somewhere perfect for us, meant a new start. That was 10 years ago. Now our family has outgrown another home and it is time to move again.

We want to stay local – to the schools, the restaurants and bars and to The Corner Shop™. So whilst it is a big move, it should be easily contained. Now all we need to do is clear out the spare room, paint the patches (again) and try to work out how to move the 160kg pizza oven for when we go.

Measuring success

I lost a fair bit of weight last year – nearly a stone. Put half of that back on with working away and eating out most nights. Then lost half of it once more through dehydration on New Year’s Day.

My Fitbit rating – average to good – was good before I started the new job and average by the time I woke with another pre-christmas hangover. It’s back closer to good after a week off with the kids. Which is either down to their love or the fact I spent 10 nights straight in my own bed. I had assumed the dip was down to the booze and the late nights of life up in Newcastle. There have been plenty of those over the past week. It may just be a sense of relaxed comfort of being around the family that has balanced things out.

Work it baby

This is a big year in terms of creating a space (name?) for myself both in terms of the organisation I work for and sector I work in.

We (my team) will be going through a series of Government Digital Services (GDS) Assessments in order to get our service out in to live, semi-live or Your Names Not Down kind of live (Alpha, Beta etc). In order to do this we need to carry on the great work we did in the run up to Christmas. Not losing the momentum we gained as we grew as a team.

In terms of digital and healthcare – this space I am in – a lot of focus is being targeted on the work that needs to happen by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This is great for our organisation. Much has been said for the out of date systems, processes and working practices that desperately need to change, but are hampered often by a lack of time, money or skills. We can definitely help.

However, we also need to be aware that there is a lot of uncertainty both in terms of Brexit and the future of the current government. That, and the backlash that often follows any announcements that systems in the NHS need to change. The minute the SoS announces a proclamation, a wave of “but what about the people?” barrage of tweets quickly follow. The problem is, they are not wrong. Working in this sector has always been a positive challenge, let’s hope 2019 brings a new level of reward when facing down/up to those challenges.

A piece of me

I got a great deal from working with a mentor last year. Whilst I tried to provide my services as one myself, for whatever reason it never quite clicked. Which is fine. Someone shouldn’t work with a person if the fit isn’t right. So in 2019 I will keep offering my knowledge and experience up – with the added benefit of working through GDS assessments and agile deliveries – and see if there are any takers. Let me know if you are reading this and it is of interest to you (I am tall, dark and weathered through years in the public sector, IT delivery and being the non-technical person in the delivery team).

In a similar vein, the company I work for provides two days “leave” a year to be used for charitable causes. Having had a direct debit go out to charity in one way or another since my student days (current charity is Water Aid). Matched with A. and me sponsoring friends throughout the year, I feel like my time could provide more than a few coins in a shaken bucket. I just need to find the right cause – food, community, children etc – that I can really get involved in, possibly long-term. That way I can complement it with my own time and effort beyond fulfilling an opportunity provided by work.

Unwavering support

I love bread, adore pasta and no matter how much I thrashed and wailed on New Year’s Day, I still want booze in my life.

I also feel the same about social media. No matter how dark and bitter some quarters have become over the last couple of years.

Which is why I want to do more to give back to the people I follow. Think about the authors that you follow but never buy their books. The restaurants, bars or drinks producers you like but never darken their doors. Why is that? Do we simply get satisfaction from an image rather than the bounty captured in that shot? Man (women, children or however else you may identify – fat, balding, IT bloke here) can not live on pixels alone.

I want to go to supper clubs (Muff Dining in London seems to be calling out to me), read more than 140chs of a user’s output and drink some of the finest booze I can buy without wincing at the price. I want to give back to the enjoyment I get from following people, rather than reacting to the negativity that gets RTd in to my timeline.

Culture, culture, culture

2019 will be the year of reading books in a dressing gown in my hotel room, going to the opera, nailing sourdough and making my own butter – because I wasn’t a big enough wanker in 2018.


Year on year, the main challenge was to be published in print somewhere. I now feel that ship has sailed. In 2019 I want to do things that I haven’t done before. I want to run my own supper club – though I may restrict the audience to a smattering of people who I can get pissed when it all goes wrong. To produced a podcast – I mean, everyone else has one – even if it is just one. To run an event of some kind where the focus is less on making money and more about making memories. Yes, I know, that does sound as sick inducing in my head as it may read – but come on, this is my year of planning.

I should also add something in here like Couch to 5K (never doing a parkrun), swimming the length of the Aire/Tyne or some other fitness pursuit. With a gammy knee and a love of sitting on my arse, I’ll just leave it as “I’ll do something, alright”.

A plateful

Less meat, more veg, more fish, smaller portions – applying the same approach to what the kids eat. Though a good pastry is a must as well.

Surprise Surprise

I have left the family, till last, intentionally.

I want to give them the very best of me. Not an afterthought or a tick box. Not just a promise to stare at my phone less. I want to surprise them, to enrich their lives and to be the right person they need at the right time – even the wrong time. This won’t always be a public thing. I have started to limit that a bit.

Working away has impacted me quite a lot more than I thought it would, so I want to find ways to manage that – both the time away and together – so that they all get the very best from me. It shouldn’t be too hard.


I think approaches like this should be started any day, not just because Janus has opened the door to a new year. So take some of this with the pinch of salt you may apply to the rest of the nonsense you read on the internet. Not all of it, mind.

Peace and love, as Ringo might say. Hope to see more of you as the year gets underway.

Chris Written by:

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