Well into Year 2 PI

No not the mathematical PI, the PI here means Post-IBM (sorry!). I parted company with IBM UK on January 6th 2015. Its been an interesting 20 months. When I left, I was still very focused on continuing to work. I did a small amount of work as an independent, but actually came to the conclusion i enjoyed NOT working more. So I guess I have moved from semi-retired to COMPLETELY retired.

One of the non-technology options I did a lot of research on was setting up a Gluten Free shop in my local town. I spent a lot of time researching what the major supermarkets offer to see where a niche could be. As it turns out, the supermarkets have broadened their ranges greatly, leaving little space for a small independent shop. Add to that the initial set up costs and it rapidly became non-viable.

I did (earlier this year) pass my motorbike tests and gained my licence. I subsequently  bought a new bike and have been having a lot of fun – earlier in the year I made a ‘road-trip’ to visit a friend on the Dingle Peninsula in SouthWest Ireland, which was fabulous and documented in an earlier post.

I became a grandparent last year and early next year will become a grandparent x 2!  Its a strange feeling.

BREXIT seems to have scuppered our plans to downsize, so we have parked the idea for now and are upgrading our existing house. I did vote to stay, but have to say that given the way the EU seems to be going, I think BREXIT may be the right choice. Nuff said.

So, Summer is definitely over, at least in my part of the UK. Christmas is 3 months away. Where has the year gone? Thanks for reading this short update.

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More than 3 months since my last post? Where did THAT go?

I’m sure as I get older time passes more quickly. I wouldnt have believed that 3 months had passed since my last post on here. What a busy 3 months its been. A short update (there’ll be a longer post later as I catchup post my trip to Exmoor!).

Learning to ride a motorbike – well in hand now. I am about 50% of the way through the process of getting a full motorbike licence in the UK. I passed the first twp stages in February and March, bought a bike and have been clocking up the roadmiles to gain some experience. I’m now ready to move up from the training bike I bought and have a couple of lessons on a bigger bike before I take the two part full licence test (its surprising how quickly I have adapted to the tendency of car drivers to try and kill me when I am out and about).

The Gluten Free Shop – I’ve been doing some research but honestly, with the growth of the availability of Gluten Free products in the mainstream Supermarkets, plus the set up costs means that its unlikley I will open a shop as I had originally envisaged. Its not dead completely,  just looking for a niche!

Technology Consulting – A slow start, but things are developing nicely now with 2 or 3 small projects on the horizon.

Thanks for reading…

Oops almost forgot (prompted by my photo on the header page of my Blog). After an absence of 5 years (for a variety of reasons) I am finally getting back to doing the Lyke Wake Walk. I will be walking overnight Friday 19th/Saturday 20th June. I’ll try and keep anyone thats interested via Twitter (you can find me as @thedirger).

X marks the spot….

Ok, so here’s the picture to support the title 🙂 This was taken around 7am (I think).

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Haven’t been here much lately – since I left my erstwhile employer of getting on for 16 years (IBM) I’ve been a tad busy one way and another. Mysteriously, my wife has a HUGE list of jobs that have suddenly become urgent, plus I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to do in the next phase of my ‘career’. Ok, I’ve boiled it down to 3 things..

  1. Keep my technical hands in by doing the occasional piece of freelance technology consultancy… lots to do here with creating a company, setting up accounts etc, Different and something I have never done before.
  2. FINALLY learn to ride a motorbike. Like many when I was young I spent time flying around a field on a bike that was most likely a deathtrap but we didnt care… (thats in the schedule for February).
  3. Something completely outside my comfort zone. I am exploring the possibility of opening a shop to focus on selling Gluten Free produce. (The Norfolk Gluten Free Company have been amazingly helpful.. if you live in or near Norwich and need to buy GF products you should look them up http://norfolkglutenfree.co.uk/ ).

I now feel fit enough to tackle the Lyke Wake Walk again(see a previous post), so thats in the schedule for mid-summer and then as next years birthday  is a major milestone – I am planning on doing a hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya.

Lots to look foward to (and corresponding posts for anyone that wants to follow). Thanks for reading.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. What a year it was – thanks to all the readers, followers and commenters.. if you thought 2014 was fun.. all the indications are in the Armitage Household that 2015 is going to be one HECK of a year.. I hope you can stick with me… Happy New Year

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 670 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

So – the Journey continues

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Well, here I am, 3 weeks into my journey to Nirvana (well ok.. Gluten Free!). Apologies for the somewhat tenuous link to the car, but lets face it.. it looks like a fun car to drive! Anyway, I digress…

I’ve seen a Dietitian, who told me a couple of things that I didnt know and must confess I wouldn’t have even thought of. I need to check any medicine I buy or is prescribed for me, as it’s possible some do contain Gluten. I also didnt know that tea/coffee inhibits the bodies ability to ingest Iron – much better to drink orange juice. I also learnt that I need to keep my Calcium intake up(apparently a lot of the Gluten free foods are fortified with additional calcium) to avoid brittle bones.

I am today venturing out to eat for the first time.I decided I would do some prep ahead of my visit to my local steak-house chain restaraunt (who shall remain nameless). I dropped a note to them to see if they indicate which of their menu options are Gluten Free (I’m going to use GF from now on). Apparently (according to their customer service) they couldnt possibly put all the allergen information onto their menus(so I guess 3% of the UK population isnt significant enough?). Anyway, they DID send me a breakdown by menu option of the nutritional and allergen content of their selections.

This made me understand why they are loathe to put information about the GF status of their dishes. Pretty much everything (with a few exceptions) either contains Gluten or is produced in factories where cross-contamination cannot be ruled out. i did manage to find a small number of things I can have, but i need to be very explicit about what I order. Oh and they dont have a GF menu.. I have suggested they may want to think about it?  I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks for reading… sorry this turned into a bit of a rant…

Cephalonia Musings!

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The photo is the Melisanni undeground lake, in Sami, Cephalonia, from where I’ve recently returned after a short visit (one week). So.. Cephalonia, where to start? Its a beautiful place, very un-developed (hardly any cars on the roads apart from the small cars favoured by tourists and lorries carrying the produce to and from the various inter-island ferries).

The airport. Very small and woefully unable to cope with more than one inbound tourist flight at a time. The luggage carousel sounded like it was about to give up the ghost at any time. While the family were fighting their way through the crowds of tourist waiting to claim their bags, I went off to sort out the hire car. We’d decided to hire a villa for this our first Greek Island adventure(the brochure said it was essential – it wasnt wrong).

We struggled for a while getting our bearings before we eventually found the villa courtesy of a very kind shop owner who took pity on me when I called in the second time trying to sort out directions and actually led us to it in his car!

Once you get used to the roads they’re fine, but a bit of a shock to someone used to the well-manicured roads of the United Kingdom! The island is very hilly (lots of practice for your clutch control and hill starts!), the roads have lots of ‘interesting’ hairpins and are typically roads which are just about passable by 2 cars simultaneously. Their is one main road which circumnavigates the island and also crosses the mountainous interior. Lorries and coaches tend to come around corners sitting in the centre of the road which made for a few close-shaves. The roads are generally very clear(we didnt see our first traffic ‘jam’ until we went to the island capital, Argostoli and event then it was only a queue of a dozen or so cars) and once you get used to quirks very enjoyable to drive as the scenery is typically spectacular.

Roundabouts (or rotaries for those of you in the US) are in short supply – I only encountered 3 on the whole island along the single piece of dual-carriageway in the run into Argostoli. BUT.. one good piece of information I was given is that its the traffic coming ONTO the roundabout that has priority(the opposite of the UK and other places). It didnt cause any major problems though.

There are lots of monasteries and churches, beautiful beaches and fantastic scenery. The pace of life is so much slower – very relaxing. Not the place for someone that likes to keep very active on holiday as their arent many options  – there are a couple of horse-riding stables – the one my daughter used was very good. Their are also a couple of official attractions – The Melissani Underground lake(pictured) and the Drogararti Cave (not too deep), but fascinating.

Apparently the weather was pretty typical for the time of year, i.e. HOT (typically 30 degrees + although we did hit 40 degrees C on a couple of occasions), quite intense sunshine, especially between noon and 3 or 4pm (time for siesta!), and their was an every present breeeze. The beaches were great and the water very clear and full of fish.

This blog post has been a bit like our outings, wandering from here to there and somehow managing to find our way back to the start.

Cephalonia – an excellent first visit and I am sure it wont be the last. I plan to go back and relax some more.