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Sunday, March 04, 2018

Highlights Of 2017

Yeah I know, the reflective period for 2017 is long over.  But I started writing this during said reflective period (in my head, anyway), so I'm going to finish it.

I normally do some kind of look-back at the year, more for my own purposes than anyone else's amusement.

You could call it a transition year, but I guess you could call many years for most people a transition year.  Though at the beginning of 2017 I was unemployed.  Quite happy about it at the beginning but it soon started to grate on me - I didn't mind too much being sat at home all day, I kept myself busy, I studied and I made as much progress with my portfolio as possible.

Towards the end of unemployment, I had had enough of the highs and lows, the hopes being dashed - and fucking recruitment consultants...of the bullshitting variety - I know there are good ones too, but the good ones weren't interested in someone with minimal experience.

And I finished the year as an accomplished junior web developer - exactly what I had been working towards in recent years.

Nothing really went wrong this year, thankfully.  No funerals, no job losses, no major health issues - hell I even had a date.  Though it was a year of relative financial struggle, which really limited what I could do.  My annual salary was still lower than the peak in 2010, and in terms of available spending money I had around 60% of what I had when I lived in Bracknell.  And still do as I write this - lets not pretend anything has changed!

Maybe struggle is too strong a word - limitation would be a better description.  I lost count of the amount of times I had to turn things down or had to curtail my enjoyment when out.  It isn't a complaint - I knew what I was going into when I decided to change career.

So, here are my top 12 moments of 2017 (I couldn't get it down to 10):

12. Seeing Martin A - It seems unfair to pick a meet-up with one friend over any other, but most of my very good friends are far more accessible than my wonderful weirdo over in Dubai.  It was just a Wednesday night, I was tired and had just a few cans of beer in my hand - but it was just so good to see him, for the first time in two years.  I wish I could see more of my friends that have moved away, but alas, same old story - I never have enough money.

11. Kew Gardens - A Christmas present for my closest friend, I think we went in May,  perhaps April, the weather was pleasant, warm enough for wearing a t-shirt, and we simply had a very nice day strolling around Kew Gardens.  Simple, effective, pleasant - with some pretty excellent cake.


10. Bratislava - I was unemployed and didn't really feel like going on holiday, I was having a bit of a miserable time - yet I had booked it just before I lost my job, so there was no turning back.  We tried to do it as cheap as possible, yet there wasn't a hell of a lot to do in Bratislava at a constant -4'C in the depths of January, but go into pubs and drink cheap beer.  It won't go down as one of my favourite places but it certainly had a charm to it.


9. Sevilla - I wanted one last spell in the sun before winter arrived, and decided that a trip to Sevilla at the beginning of November was probably the only way I was going to manage this - in the beautiful sunshine and 25'C temperatures, it has to be said that I fully appreciated.  My first proper solo holiday - I sure would have enjoyed it more with other people but I enjoyed my little break, and will happily go on holiday by myself again.  Maybe next time try to find a way to either meet locals, or other solo travellers.  There must be an app?  Besides Tinder?


8. Relegation - It may seem strange to pick such a dire outcome as a highlight, and I guess has much to do with who I am as a person and where I am from, that I can pick the positives of camaraderie from what was a dreadful outcome.  Football wouldn't be something that I would choose to get into now, but I still enjoy it and find the whole story fascinating - the ups and downs of my football club, Hull City AFC, I think perfectly show the emotions of the game.  3 of us Hull types headed to Crystal Palace one Sunday morning, knowing a defeat would relegate us, and a victory wouldn't even guarantee what was an unlikely survival.  The atmosphere between the fans was electric and the usual nutcases were doing their throwing beer everywhere thing which is so classy yet so watchable in a "visiting a council estate for viewing purposes" kind of way.  And after about 3 minutes, we were 1-0 down.  2-0 at half-time and everyone was resigned.  We lost 4-0 in the end, I think, yet there was a feeling of togetherness in defeat, which I kind of enjoy.  We topped this off with the most miserable roast dinner of the year, but later had a beer elsewhere with the most amazingly hot Portuguese woman serving us and flashing her cleavage at us.

7. Oblix - I had to put a roast dinner on the list.  And though not the best roast dinner in itself, the whole experience was exceptional.  Being up The Shard, with 3 top people for company, those views, the amazing service, the beautiful wine, the sumptuous meat.  I spent nearly as much in there as I did in 3 days in Sevilla, but hell, it was a damn fine experience.


6. Klimt - When my holiday accomplice and new-found mate, Dave, suggested going to see a Gustav Klimt exhibition in Milan on our last day, I wasn't convinced but I thought I should go along with the idea, for I wanted him to come to a big outdoor rave two days later.  Well, my eyes were opened to a new world, and I had a new favourite artist.  Plus - boobs.


5. Taking friends to Hull - 10 years ago I would not have dared take any friends to Hull.  5 years ago it was still a joke of an idea.  Then in 2017, Hull became the UK's City Of Culture, and finally, for the first time in my life I could be rightly proud of my home city.  The change to Hull is remarkable, the city centre has been vastly cleaned and spruced up, and there are many more events going on than used to be the case.  But more importantly, it has a sense of pride for the first time in decades - you can feel it walking around the city.  Hull - it isn't shit any more.  And yes, my two ace friends really enjoyed it.


4. Zurich Street Parade - This was just immense fun.  30 trucks going around the lake in Zurich, with hundreds of thousands of people dancing to an fairly broad spectrum of dance music, though more often techno.  It was not only a cacophony of different sounds but there was just so much to see, and so much entertainment.  The music was good - from minimal, to house, to bloody hardstyle - which was suitably hilarious.  Culminating in a visit to a church for shelter, an inability to walk and a game of ice bowling in the hotel corridor.  I would love to go again.


3. Being offered the job - I think I had been interviewed for the first time about 3-4 weeks earlier, and had pretty much given up any expectation on this one, but then I had a second interview with the MD, and continued to wait.  It still took a while to hear anything but finally I received a call offering me the job.  I couldn't believe it!i  And just 30 minutes before I discovered a track that I had been trying to ID for a few months too.  The job has, of course, changed my life totally - though very challenging at times, it is what I dreamed of and I couldn't have asked for any more.

2. Walking In Mountains - With a belly full of free breakfast and a fair hangover, the three of us set off to go walking to see what we could find in the remote town of Tirana in Italy.  No real plan but we headed upstream, well, up and alongside a river with various warning signs not to go anywhere near it.  It was a gentle incline upwards, surrounded by mountains and eventually developing rainclouds.  The scenery was stunning, I felt so at peace and disconnected to my usual world.  And the beer upon arrival at a cafe, just before it started raining heavily, was joyful.


1. The Bernina Express - You can tell I'm getting old, not only when I nearly forgot to write about my favourite moment of the year, but also the fact that my favourite moment of the year was a train journey.  Yes a train journey.  For some reason I had my heart set on going through the Swiss mountains on a train (the random country generator told me to).  It was every bit as stunning as I expected, the vodka flowed, the mountains passed - shamed it pissed down with rain, but I got to see a glacier and even a few snowflakes - in August.