It's Christmas Eve, and as tradition dictates, I'm tidying my office and generally giving myself a few minutes peace before the excitement of a family Christmas.
I'm not sure how often I've managed it in writing, but I like to look back over the year as it comes to an end document some of the highs and lows. It's easy to get bogged down in the detail of the everyday, and forget to look at the bigger picture. And that's especially true of this year, as it's been a particularly busy one.
- Back in January Esgrid and I were working hard on a replacement for Welcome to Whitby (an online booking system I built years ago). It's not quite finished yet as we had to turn our attention to client work, but it's not far off - we hope to launch the new site in January 2020
- Through the spring I worked on a number of projects for local businesses - https://lawnsgatecamping.com/ stands out as a particular highlight, as well as https://healthhubclinics.co.uk...
- In April I attended FrontendNE in Newcastle, which was really good https://jackbarber.co.uk/blog/...
- Through April and into May I picked up a project for CJS (more on this below), and also did some work for my brother's company https://www.spicule.co.uk/ which turned into a longer-term marketing and SEO job through the rest of the year
- Starting in May and completed later in the summer I also built a couple of smaller sites, https://premieredgesharpening.... and https://staywhitby.com/ which I really enjoyed working on
- Through June and July I build an online store for a jewellery business, https://pearlandbeads.com/
- From August onwards a lot of my time was taken up with CJS - which finally went live in December https://www.countryside-jobs.c...
- In September I started working with Saltburn Folk Festival https://saltburnfolkfestival.c... building a bespoke ticket system as a Perch app alongside a website to advertise the festival itself
- In October and November I built https://drinknab.com/ and was working with Makersmith on a remote control system for a piece of agricultural machinery Gareth has been designing and building - I hope to share more about this project soon
- December saw Esgrid and I wrapping up CJS and then me hastily tying up all the loose ends in time for Christmas!
All the Usual...
As well as the above, 2019 saw me take on work for a few other agencies, as a Perch Developer, working behind the scenes to support pre-existing sites, add new functionality and in some cases build new sites from other people's designs. I continue to support hosting clients, looking after the day to day running of their websites and email accounts. As part of this I've started migrating clients to a new hosting platform which is faster and offers a bit more control. I'll be moving all my clients to this new system in 2020.
This year was busy! A quick rundown of all the stuff that happened personally:
- In January we prepared to have our loft converted into a bedroom
- In February and March the work was completed, with plenty of late-night decorating sessions to keep up with the builders who worked really hard and did a great job!
- In March Megan and I managed a couple of days away in Manchester at an A29 conference and visiting friends
- Through April, May and June not a lot happened - but we home educate our children, and I'm currently undertaking a part-time theology course, so we're always busy
- At the end of June Megan and I saw Bill Bailey in Leeds which was a great night out
- In July we went to Keswick on holiday, our car's brakes failed and we crashed (not badly) on the A66 - stress!
- In August we visited family on the south coast
- In September we attended a friend's wedding in Norfolk
- And since then I've been absolutely up to my eyeballs in work, and Megan with running the home - it's been a hectic few weeks and we're in need of a rest this Christmas time
Looking ahead to next year, here are a few headlines:
- We're going to Spain in January (9th - 19th) - we haven't made the most of not having to stick to normal school holidays so we're heading south for some winter sun, I cannot wait!
- I'll be launching my new online booking system sometime in January/February
- I've already got a lot of work booked in to take me up to the end of March... lots to do!
- Other than that, we'll wait and see what happens
This Christmas Eve marks the 10th year of my self-employment. I finished work on 24th December 2009 and became self-employed from that moment onwards. It has not been easy, and I'll always be thankful to those who have supported me behind the scenes (particularly Megan), and to all my customers who have trusted me with their projects over the years. It's been a privilege to work for so many small businesses and help people get to grips with running a website and promoting their business or organisation online. I want to especially thank David Laver and Phil Prudom who, when I finished university in 2007, gave me a job which provided the foundation for all that has come since then.
However you spend your Christmas, I hope you get chance to switch off, relax and unwind - I know I need to!
For me, the wonder of Christmas is that God chose to make himself known to us in his Son, Jesus. Jesus is the one who brings peace, in a world which (if 2019 is anything to go by), is intent on pursuing political, environmental and economic turmoil. That's what Christmas is about - God, reaching down into the mess of this world and offering us peace.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.