That was 2011 Part One

posted on December 21st, 2011 by Anthony

Badger Self portrait

Without making it public, and before it was cool, I set out to make 2011 a year where I got shit done. Whether that was writing more blog posts or riding a 24 hour mountain bike race. For the most part it has been successful.

In 2011 I was actually going to act upon some of the stuff that goes on in my head. Instead of putting it that drawer at the back of my mind labelled “one day”. I’m sure you’ve got one of those too. It was mainly driven by this here website – in both 2010 and 2009 I managed just one single, measly, blog post. That had to change. But why did it have to stop there? There were plenty of things I wanted to do both professionally and for fun. So 2011, was going to be about that. Hopefully!

January

With that new Get Shit Done (GSD) attitude fresh in my mind I nosed on a conversation on Twitter between the esteemed gentlemen Mr Si Jobling (@Si) and Mr Dr Cole Henley (@cole007). They were discussing a nice poster that had been designed around the 2010/11 football fixtures. It was suggested you could probably do that in HTML. I thought I could do that. So, instead of filing it in that “one day” drawer, I did it.

You can read more about the story in it’s own blog post, and you can also marvel at the HTML5 and CSS3 glory of it all. (Things have changed in the Webkit rendering engine which has broken the footer mind.)

Also in January was the splendid little New Adventures in Web Design shindig. You can read my thoughts about the conference and all it wonderfulness in the blog post I wrote about it. It’s one of my favourite posts, mainly because I managed to say what I wanted to say without the usual rambling that comes with my writing.

It seemed to hit the spot with Colly himself giving me this wonderful quote:

Anthony, that is brilliant. That whole review really “gets” it, and I’m considering printing it off and having it mounted and framed in every room. Or at least in the bathroom.

It’s satisfying to know that something I have produced could be hanging in the Collison throne room. Satisfying, and slightly disturbing.

Also as a direct result of that post I can also say that I have graced the front page of a major web conference.

The New Adventure of Web Design site featuring ME! And some other web types ;)

Another thing that happened at NAConf was meeting some lovely new people. Like Paul (@madebymagnolia), Rob (@sanchothefat) and Abid (@craftedpixels). As well as meeting up with old webbie chums. Even that Graham Smith (@gablaxian) ;)

I can’t wait for NAConf 2011.

Also in January – I was firmly in GSD mode – I posted my ‘Vlad’ shot to Dribble which set off a chain events that slowly came to fruition in December (buy the prints!).

It was also about this time of year I got chatting to my brother-in-laws about my long term desire to take part in a 24 hour mountain bike race.

February

So into February. That bloody Jobling fella posted another link that caught my attention. This time pointing a nifty little time/colour app that was done in Flash. With a little help I recreated it to work in HTML, CSS and a nifty bit of JavaScript. I should add that part two probably won’t get written by me, but you can read more about the clever JavaScripty bit at Chris’s blog.

I also blogged about the lack of permanency there is in our industry. I tried not to dwell too much on the slightly depressing notion that none of what I’m dedicating my career too will be around in 5 years time, never mind after I’ve gone.

It was Elodie’s second birthday this month too. We bought a membership to Chester Zoo, it turned out to be a cracking investment.

The scary thing in that come January she’ll be dipping her cute little toes into pre-school!

Oh and our 4th wedding anniversary. So quick.

March

I wrote a piece about search on websites. I hate the tone I wrote it in now, looking back, but the points about people actively deciding not to use the internal search facility of a website is still very valid.

Back at New Adventures I remember having a slightly drunk talk with Rob about how rubbish Liverpool was for web events and the web community in general. Well in March he helped kick start a Liverpool WordPress Interest Group named SWIG. It’s first meeting was scheduled for March – I was very excited.

Of course I never made it to that first meeting.

We decided to redecorate our bedroom. Literally an hour into the stripping off of the wallpaper the estate agent called to arrange a viewing. Cue 36 hours non-stop decorating. I missed SWIG, and the next day the estate agent called again to cancel the viewing.

Absolute bastards.

April

Apparently nothing happened in April. I’m sure it did. I was still very much on for doing the 24 hour mountain bike race. I was waiting for the Cycle to Work scheme thing to open in work. Did I not mention I had no bike at this point?

Oh I did make it to the second SWIG!

May

May was quite a big month, personally if nothing else. I have been suffering from alopecia for quite a while. I had managed to hide it under my long hair for quite a while. In May I decided to stop hiding and shave most of it off.

Badger head

I looked like a slightly odd badger, and didn’t really mind too much. In fact I felt more comfortable with my hair than I had done for a long time. People seem to think I had it like that on purpose. That probably says more about my projected self image than anything else…

I also went to DIBI up in Gateshead. It was great to travel up and hang out with Rob (@sanchothefat). Even he did kick my arse at Worms. It was another good DIBI event, and it’s always a pleasure to spend time in the company of the one and only Mr Phil Sherry (@philsherry). We sat right behind Zeldman. See …

Zeldman and Gavin at DIBI

I still didn’t have a bike.

But I had managed to order one! I had a helmet to wear …

Fetching.

… while I waited the best part of a month for it arrive.

June

I finally got the bike!

The Bike!

Then immediately went  on holiday for two weeks.

As usual we went to Scotland. Waaaay up in Scotland. A tiny little place called Annat in the Torridon area to be exact. Which is about 100 miles north of Fort William. Quite north.

We had an epic journey up split over 2 days. The first part up to Glasgow was easy. The second slightly more … challenging.

We drove up to Fort William with no problems. Then it was decided we do the cracking drive to Malaig, hop on the ferry to Skye, then back on to the mainland via the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh. A cracking plan.

Alas as we got off the ferry and made our way to the bridge some poor soul crashed his motorbike and died on the only road out to the bridge. This meant having to call the crash investigation team. Who were 200 miles away, and had to be helipcoptered in.

We were stranded. For 6 hours.

There are worse places to be stuck.

Being stuck with a view

And we did manage to have some absolutely fabulous fish and chips. But being stuck in a car park with a hyper active 2 year old isn’t the bestest kind of fun.

Once we finally got moving it was past midnight. This is where the fun really started. Getting off Skye was easy. Kyle of Lochalsh is a built up fishing town. The we turned left and we were faced with 42 miles of A road. Now most of you here are thinking “A road? Thats sounds fine!”. This is not an A road in the cosy suburban world, this is a Highland A road. Up there A road generally refers to anything better than dirt track. There are A roads up there that are basically like motorways, with dual carriage ways and everything – even lighting.

The A890 is not one of these.

42 miles of pitch black road, 90% single track with passing places. Two hours of the most intense driving I have ever done. You could see absolutely nothing except the road a few metres ahead and the occasional flash of a deers eyes. We were in the middle of nowhere. We had no idea where we were going, how long it would take, whether we were next to a Loch, or driving on the edge of a cliff.

Looking back it was probably kind of exciting, at the time I was too busy straining every sense to keep on the road.

However waking up in the morning to this made everything seem worthwhile …

View from Annat

Despite being in the middle of nowhere we were staying a 5 minute walk away from Scotland’s Best Hotel 2011. Which also happens to have a top Inn onsite. You can read about our meal there on Claire’s blog.

We’ve kind of fallen in love with the area. We still love the East side and the Cairngorm area, but we’ll definitely be back West siiiide.

On the way home we stopped off for a few days around Falkirk. We visited the wheel, which is beautiful piece of industrial design and engineering.

Falkirk wheel

When we got home we found our hot water cylinder had exploded a little bit.

Nice.

To be continued …