2015: Yet another year in review

Sometimes it seems that these ‘year in review’ posts are the only contents in my blog; a once a year tradition to justify the continued existence of my blog, domain name, and hosting. I get the feeling these are more for my benefit than anyone else, so forgive me if they become ever more narcissistic.

I usually start writing these posts on the train home after Christmas; a journey that is usually more protracted than the train journey out! The fact is, this is often the only time that I have to catch my breath and think about what I have been up to the past year. I think the fact that I find little to no time to compose blog posts any other time; is a good sign of a busy and exciting lifestyle… or perhaps just that the daily grind of London commuting drains me of the will to write.

Home is where the heart is

Although I purchased my flat last year, I was not able to move in until early this year. I absolutely hate moving house, for me it really is one of the most stressful and nerve shredding experiences. The run up to my moving date was wrought with anxiety and  stress, not help by the fact that:

Sky broadband disconnected me 10 days early

Just a side note on this: seriously, you call up a company to tell them that you’ll be moving out, and they say “no problem, but your contract runs to the ends of the month so we won’t disconnect the line until then” (1 week after moving out); you expect to have no issues. Well Sky, much like the rest of Murdoch’s bullshit empire, like to talk nonsense and take the piss! Instead of honouring this statement, they initiated the cut-off process summarily, leaving me without internet. My complaints yielded nothing but empty apologies and explanations as to why they could not fix their mistake. One to avoid, don’t be tempted by their ads and special offers.

Anyway, I digress! After using my mobile to tether the internet for a week and a half, I moved in on January 24th.

The flat is far from finished; I have big dreams for the kitchen, bathroom, and garden; but such dreams are not cheap. They will all come in due time. I did, however, spend almost a month in the loft, scraping out the antiquated, paper mulch insulation and replacing it with modern glass wool, which British Gas then topped up for free.

So finished it might not be, but it is at least very cozy and warm.

Summer swinging back-to-back

What would my summer be without swing dancing?  I had little time off work during the start of the the year, so instead I used the bulk of my leave during the summer. I returned to the azure, clear waters of Halkidiki in northern Greece for my second time at Swing ‘n Swim dance festival. I knew less people there this time around but that simply meant I met more new friends. This time around I did not leave the country right after the festival, instead spending two days in Thessaloniki; an interesting place, though watch out for the wild dogs!

When I did leave Greece, I did not head home, I went to Como for another week of swing dancing by the waters of Italy’s great lakes. It was good to be back, although by the end my dancing was subordinate to my gelato eating.

After two whole weeks back-to-back I was shattered, but I regret nothing and would do it all again.

September swing wedding

Two very dear friends of mine got married in September this year. I met them both swing dancing several years ago, and was honoured to be invited to their wedding; where the happy couple performed a phenomenal first dance which turned into a “snow ball” dance with the brides maids, myself and the other swing dancing guests.

Congratulations to Matt and Jenna Joan Haggar!

Time for a change (again)

Once again I found it time to push the envelope with my career; I was perfectly happy where I was, the people, the work, and the office were all great… especially the office with its 31st floor view of London. I will miss that view, but one cannot arrest ones career for the sake of a beautiful vista.

Currently, if you work in IT in London (or possibly elsewhere too) you will be familiar with the feverish and constant solicitations from recruiters; phone calls, emails, LinkedIn messages and invites almost daily. I usually look over these with disinterest if at all, however, one such email caught my attention, and let me to a new job at Reed Elsevier at the end of November.

Cars, swans, and soldiers

I never thought that I would enjoy the ballet, but it turns out I really do. I went to see Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man (not strictly a ballet itself, but based on a ballet version of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen) at the Sadler Wells Theatre. It was a very contemporary interpretation, but thoroughly enjoyable.

I also went to see two classic ballets; Swan Lake at the English National Opera, and The Nutcracker at The Royal Opera House. Both were fantastic, though the latter was my favourite; I found the story and settings a little more interesting. I love the whole experience of going to an opera house, the dancing, and the music too. I’m sure I will attend some more next year.

Czech please!

I couldn’t leave it at just two swing dance festivals for the year. So, rather short notice, a good friend and I signed up for the weekend workshops for Prague Swing Xmas.

I had never visited the Czech Republic before, though I had heard great things about it. I was not disappointed; the classes were great, the venue for the parties was decadent, and the dancers were all lovely. Oh and the beer was wonderful and also cheap!

Lets party like its 1926

Sound familiar? Well the venue was different, though the theme was much the same as last year. A 1920’s band playing to a crowd wearing pencil dresses with tassels, headbands with feathers, tuxedos, and bow ties.

This year we were at the Booking Office at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. The band played a little fast for some of us Lindy Hoppers, though the experienced Balboa dancers didn’t seem to mind. Either way, it was a lovely atmosphere, and a great way to end the year.

About Matt

Cloud Systems Engineer at Reed Elsevier; cloud computing advocate, rock climber, swing dancer, amateur photographer, professional idiot....
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