I could start off by apologising for not posting earlier and more often but that’s too cliché. Instead, I’ll carry on as normal with another blog post and pretend there hasn’t been a 13 month gap between my last blog post and this one…
The end of a year / beginning of a new one is always a great time to reflect so that’s what this blog post is about. Reflection. As a general rule these days I don’t publish much on this blog or any social platform mainly because I don’t enjoy it. It’s not that I have nothing to say or don’t have time to write. I could make time for it if I really wanted to, but the appetite just isn’t there. I spoke about this in 2012 and 2013. Things haven’t improved since then, they’ve just gotten worse, but thankfully there is more to life and technology than social media.
In 2016 I:
- Moved to Galway
- Ran a 5k in under 30 mins (from a starting point of 38 mins)
- Became a godfather, twice
- Visited a new country (Montenegro)
- Visited lots of Irish centenary sites / attractions
- Designed & built a commercial app for both iOS & Android (using the cordova platform)
- Learned about & worked a lot more with Ruby on Rails
- Made a pizza, bread (and lots of other food) from scratch
Here’s a photo timeline of some stuff that happened in 2016…
Then we have Glasnevin Cemetary – burial place of Michael Collins, Éamon DeValera and others involved in the creation of the Republic of Ireland. 2016 was the centenary year of the 1916 Easter rising that led to the formation of the state as we know it today so it was as good a year as any to visit all of these historic places.
My birthday month. I was treated to dinner in the Pullman Restaurant which is part of the Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway. It’s fine-dining in original train carriages from the Orient Express, overlooking a golf course. The perfect setting for a birthday dinner.
Another impressive structure is this Castle in Tullamore called Charleville Castle. It amazes me that I still come across so many Irish castles and impressive buildings that I’ve never heard about or seen before. It looks like something straight out of a movie set…
Quick stop off in London en-route to Croatia. One of the benefits of working with Londoners is that you get some sightseeing tips. The Sky Garden is one of them. It’s a garden at the top of the ‘walkie talkie’ building. Free entry but you need to prebook a time in advance. In contrast, going up to the top of the Shard costs £25.95 per adult (and it’s £5 more if you don’t prebook)…
London Science Museum. Interesting place to look around and they have lots of technology on display. This little machine here is where the magic happened… this is where the internet as we know it was born…
Moving on to Croatia… I’d been in Dubrovnik before but one place I hadn’t been was Lokrum Island, just a 10 minute ferry ride away. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in Dubrovnik but it’s only accessible by ferry and during daylight. Its only 24/7, permanent residents are families of peacocks. Lots of them…
Further down the Adriatic Coast lies Montenegro. We took a day trip here to two walled, Medieval towns called Budva and Kotor. The walled towns are quite similar and like mini-Dubrovniks but Kotor in particular left an impression as it’s hidden in a valley surrounded by steep mountains and overlooking a large bay.
Rant: I bought a new Mac Mini (cheapest version) and returned it a few days later in disbelief that Apple were selling a woefully slow, under-performing product. I thought it would do for some basic iOS development work and testing in safari but nope. I decided to return it and put the cash towards new Macbook Pro which I knew would be out in a few months time. My thinking was I needed a new laptop for work trips so I’d scrap the idea of a Mac desktop and kill two birds by getting a Macbook Pro. That idea went out the window when I saw the price and specs of the new Macbook Pro… I’ll probably still get one but will try to hold off until they update it or lower the price later this year.
In June, we also stayed in Westport for a wedding and decided to do the Great Western Greenway cycle path – a 42km cycle trail from Achill Island to Westport. You only need to join traffic on a road for about 2km of it. The rest is just a dedicated path for walkers / cyclists with spectacular scenery along the way. This is well worth doing. You can even hire electric bikes if you don’t fancy the idea of cycling 40km or more.
There were of course downsides, one of them being the fact I had a weekend to dismantle all my tech stuff, get it to Galway, visit IKEA in Dublin, assemble IKEA stuff and also organise broadband so that i’d be online on Monday morning.
We also made a point of going to Mizen head – Ireland’s most Southwesterly point. Having been to Malin head the year before (most northerly point on the island), I can safely say Mizen head is more impressive.
Galway is a big county and although I know my way around it fairly well at this stage, there always seems to be so much more exploring to do when you go further west, past the City and out in to Connemara. Keeping the 1916 theme up, we decided to visit Pearses Cottage – the summer residence of Patrick Pearse (leader of 1916 rising). There’s a large, new visitor center being built here that should be open later in 2017. The building / history itself isn’t all that impressive but the area around it is quite scenic.
In October I also ended up being admitted to hospital after blacking out in the gym. After a bunch of tests they found nothing wrong and chalked it down to overexertion. It’s still a bit of a mystery to me as I’d literally been in the gym for 10 minutes, had been cycling for 5 and had eaten / drank as normal before going. No problems since then either. I thought maybe it was because I don’t tend to cycle much but then again I did cycle 40km+ for several hours in the middle of summer (on a hot day) so if cycling or working certain leg muscles was the problem, that should have been the day I ended up in hospital…
The Macnas parade (street peformance company) was well worth seeing and huge crowds turned out for it in Galway.
Unfortunately, the house was vandalised overnight and had its windows smashed in. There’s another theory that the stained glass windows (made of boiled sweets) melted overnight… I guess we’ll never know.