Second Quarter Review 2016

Each year for the past few years I’ve been doing a year end review; books I’ve read, films/tv programmes I’ve watched and other things related to work and the allotment. You can read the end of 2015 here, if you’re interested.

This year I’m trying something a little different, and am splitting my year into quarters and trying to do a review at the end of the quarter. It helps me remember stuff more easily, and is more up to the minute than waiting to until December and trying to do the whole year in one go, or at least that’s the theory. The first quarter review is here.

Work

I’ve covered before my change in working arrangements that happen nearly a year ago, and becoming self-employed. If you want to know a little more about what I do now, click the “Home” link above.

This quarter has been quite quiet, and I’ve mostly been working on things for existing clients, closing out their projects, or taking some further forward. It’s quite a dynamic time, and each week “profile raising” finds its way onto my to-do list, as I’m concious of contract end dates, and the need to find more work. It is with a little uncertainty that I close out this quarter and head into the next work wise.

Brexit will pose some rather unique challenges for me, as part of my work is around helping companies and organisations attract / apply for EU funding. I’ll need a plan b, for that part of my work now. I have some ideas, but I also need to spend a little more time thinking about that.

Allotment

This quarter is probably one of the busiest on the plot, and there are plenty of other posts / videos about what I’ve been doing, so I won’t go into it in detail. It has been both a busy and rewarding time though, and my allotment is looking good. As always there are things that I’d do differently if I do them again, things that haven’t worked quite as well as I’d hoped or fallen foul of pests / disease, but that’s just how it is. I’m looking forward now to the time, when we really become self-sufficient for our vegetables again, I seem to be able to stretch the period each year so it becomes longer, and there is less of a gap between one years and the next. I’m hoping to be able to do the same this year, and have some plans (and hopefully some plants) for that.

Books

I’ve hit my GoodReads reading challenge target already, I’m not going to change it, but just keep going and see where I end up. It’s become less important to me to hit the target, but just to be able to take the time to read. In the last quarter there are three books that I’m going to mention here, that particularly stood out for me:

“Raptor” by James Macdonald Lockhart. The author attempts to view every single native bird of prey in the UK, and this is his story of how he went about it and what happened. I’d thoroughly recommend it, particularly if you are native to the UK yourself. It does however tell part of the story of just how persecuted birds of prey have been and continue to be in this country, and therefore how difficult it actually is to still see some of them without the concerted effort that the author goes to.

“The Wild Marsh” by Rick Bass, this is the second of Rick Bass’s books I’ve read this year, and it won’t be the last. I really enjoy his writing, and although this one could be a little self-indulgent at times, it tells the story of a full year in Yaak, where the author has his home. Great writing, and recommended.

“Running To The Mountain” by John Katz I probably read this book at least once every year. It talks to me, and is one of my favourites. I think it’s because it is essentially a book about making decisions and changes in life direction, as well as including the authors dogs. I guess at the moment, with my own life having undergone quite a bit of change in the last year, which hasn’t quite settled down yet, it speaks to me even more.

Film & TV

It’s unusual for us to get to the cinema these days, so most of what we watch is either on DVD or online, and often some months (or occasionally even years) behind when it was in the cinema.

I remember back in 1977 when my dad took me to see Star Wars. I was about 5 years old and it was called Star Wars, not episode IV or anything like that. I can remember that quite vividly even now, and going with him to see The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It kindled that early love of Sci-Fi in me, and also just spending time with my Dad, doing stuff. When the next three films came out, the prequels, I took him to see them. Now “The Force Awakens”, has been released he’s not been in the best of health, and so we didn’t make it to the cinema to see the film, and I didn’t particularly feel like going by myself, so I bought him it for Father’s Day. I had already seen it, as I was given a copy myself and I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next two, and the various spin offs that have been talked about.

I’ve also watched  “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, again well after it was in cinemas, and indeed released on DVD. I like the Marvel films, and although I didn’t think this was as good as some of the others I did enjoy it. It had some good “new” characters, and allowed the existing actors to develop their characters and their relationships a little more. Recommended.

We saw the remake of “Dad’s Army” just a couple of weeks ago, again, one that I missed when it was in the cinema but a film I wanted to see. I was pleasantly surprised with it. The film stayed close enough to the original series to play a good homage to it, but was different enough to be original. I don’t think it could ever really replace the original TV series, as that is ingrained too much, certainly in my psyche, and I suspect many other people’s too, but it was enjoyable and again I would recommend.

TV watching has been a little sparse, I think due to the time of year, so we have not had the thing on all that much, but I have enjoyed watching “Rick Stein’s Long Weekends”, part cookery, part travel. Essentially if you don’t know about it, this is chef Rick Stein going away for a “long weekend” and exploring both the local area, and cuisine he finds there. It seems to be on a break at the moment, as I think there have been five episodes so far, but it’s a ten part series. If memory serves he’s been to (Bologna, Berlin, Reykjavik, Vienna & Bordeaux). Not sure when the other five are likely to be on, but if you get a chance to watch it, I’d recommend it.

Life In General

I’d say this quarter has been slightly harder than the last. I’m conscious that my mind is much more on work than perhaps it should be or more correctly put about where the next job is coming from.

I’d like to be writing more, and I have been to an extent here on the blog, but although it’s read by quite a few people it’s not a massive audience, and I’m thinking about other potential avenues where I might be able to do that more, and who knows, potentially generate a little income from that.

Overall though life is good. I’m still settling in to my new “job” I think, and have more to learn about that, but otherwise I can’t really grumble.

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3 Responses to Second Quarter Review 2016

  1. David says:

    Very nice, Alan. I wish you much success in your endeavours and plans for the future. I know, it isn’t easy leaving the perceived “security” of a full-time job working for a company/corporation. But, really, when to think about it, working at a job where it can be terminated at a drop of a hat by someone sitting in a boardroom somewhere is less secure that what we have working for ourselves. At least, being self employed, you have control over the situation. I feel much more secure over my future, sitting out here in the middle of a field, in my little acreage.

    Looks like you’ve certainly been keeping yourself busy. Keep up the great work!

    (warning: shameless plug ahead) For what ever you have in mind, if you need webspace and need of a CMS, let me know.

    Here’s to a happy and productive summer! Cheers!
    David.

  2. Hi David, It’s funny, but I don’t think I’ve been any busy than normal, I think with the quarterly reviewing rather than annual it just looks that way because I’m better able to remember what went on, which was kind of what I wanted to achieve, so that’s good!

    Although it’s been almost a year since I left the more “corporate” job, I think it’s still taking me time to adjust and remember that work won’t be the same consistent flow that it was before, but I’ll get there no doubt at some point!

    I’m not sure yet how things will plan out, but you were already on my list for webspace and stuff – I do want at some point to move this to a self-hosted blog, but it doesn’t make sense to do that just yet.

    Thanks for reading and for commenting.

    • David says:

      I think your approach to your self employment is correct; I tend to do things in “baby steps” as well. You’ll find your stride, I’m quite sure of it.

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