So that was 2023…

I feel like I get busier and busier every year. Last year’s main resolution (‘be less busy’) most definitely did not happen!

Business is doing well. I’ve got a couple of important contracts at the moment that are providing me with steady work and will continue to do so in 2024. The day job (my proofreading business) is nicely balanced and provides me with time for all my side hustles and hobbies.

I released six games this year (seven if you count the short demo I put into SeedComp round 1), which equals my record from 2020. However, I wasn’t happy with the final releases of most of those games – they were all rushed due to jam and competition deadlines – and so in 2024 I want to focus on taking my time and making a quality product. As such, I expect I’ll only release two or three games next year.

Running has been an extraordinary journey this year. At the start of the year, I was still really struggling with my ankylosing spondylitis, and after a disastrous half marathon in February, I had to defer my place in Manchester Marathon to 2024. However, I was able to start biologic therapy for the spondylitis in the summer, and the pain has all but disappeared – meaning that I could finally start training properly in a way I’ve never been able to do before. My mileage is up to a baseline of 30 miles a week, and all the extra running has paid off – I’m hitting PBs I could never have dreamt of this time last year. The only thing that I felt was missing in 2023 was my annual attempt at the marathon, and I’m going to make up for that in 2024 with two marathons and an ultra. I feel like I’m finally free to discover what I’m actually capable of in running, and I’m so excited to see what I can do in the marathon.

The extra running has also meant that I’ve finally been able to shift the pandemic pounds and am back down in my ideal weight range! Which means I can run even faster. I’m in a really good place with health and fitness. I still owe a lot to the Town Moor Bench Runners (Benchies), as it means I’m out for a social run with them three times a week and have a really good running routine as a result.

I only visited one new-to-me parkrun this year (Denton Dene, which started in west Newcastle this summer), but I hope to do a few more in 2024! I also completed the fourth year of my daily run streak today – with a half marathon, which feels like such a different thing from what it did at the start of the year. I’ve run every day since 1st January 2020 and have no plans to give up the streak any time soon!

Music-wise I mostly listened to Duran Duran, including their new Hallowe’en album, which I really enjoyed. I also went to see them in May, which was fantastic as ever! My only other gig of the year was seeing Holly Johnson in November. I’m going to start catching up with belated reviews of these gigs soon.

I don’t think I watched any new TV and films this year, with the exception of the annual Strictly series and The Super Mario Bros. Movie (which we bought on BluRay – no cinema visits in 2023). I sometimes semi-watch what Geth puts on the TV in the evenings, but as ever it’s mostly YouTube.

Videogaming was a bit of a wash, as I just didn’t have time with all my other stuff going on (and I’m not the kind of person who can just grab an hour for gaming here and there – I need a whole day). However, I did play and complete Final Fantasy II (largely because Geth wanted to play the Switch version and I didn’t want to be spoilered), played two out of three episodes of the Sea of Thieves / Monkey Island collaboration (I need to find time for the third in the new year), and finally finished Bravely Default II after playing it on and off for over two years. I’m still working on The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles… hoping to get it finished soon!

My successes and failures regarding last year’s New Year Resolutions:

  • House stuff and decluttering 1: wear (or get rid of) (or both) every item in my wardrobe, with possible allowed keepsake exceptions such as my wedding dress. Clothes are the biggest decluttering target for me. Um… well, I’m a lot more aware of what’s in my wardrobe due to my ongoing use of the YourCloset app to log what I’m wearing. I have donated a lot of clothes, but I have so many. I’ll get back to this project with a vengeance in the new year.
  • House stuff and decluttering 2: paint at least one room. A fail. I really did want to, and I still have the paint ready. Hopefully soon.
  • Rollover from last year 1: finish at least one of my longstanding unfinished game projects. I suppose Lucid Night and Marie Waits might count, as they were both originally planned quite a few years ago!
  • Running 1: do better in races than last year. This is a fairly low bar to clear. It was indeed a low bar, but I cleared it in style. I have huge new PBs in the half marathon, 10k and 5k distances.
  • Running 2: run more races than last year. I miss 10ks. Another definite success! In contrast to last year’s four races, I ran eleven this year – including five 10ks.
  • Running 3 and rollover from last year 2: take part in parkrun every possible parkrunday. I’m not intending to travel to any non-parkrun countries so it should be doable if I’m lucky with health and weather. Not quite. But I did do pretty well this year – I only missed three (four if you include Christmas Day, which I never attend).
  • Rollover from last year 3: catch up with Doctor Who. Nope. Too busy! I’m still buying the BluRays, so I’ll catch up with it at some point.
  • Rollover from last year 4 and the most important on the list: prioritise videogaming. I did sometimes, but at other times, other things took priority. This is something that can be a bit dependent on my fluctuating interests.

Resolutions for 2024 tomorrow! They’ll be similar, but I want to make a bit of a fresh start this time round.

Merry Christmas!

I’ve done my best to clear the decks for a good break this Christmas, so I’m trying to do as little as possible. Hope everyone reading has a lovely festive season!

Pleased to say I survived Whamageddon for the first time ever! This was largely due to a noble act by Geth at parkrun on Saturday morning – someone was playing the song on the start line, he recognised it and dragged me away before I could hear it (his hearing is a lot better than mine), sacrificing himself to Whamhalla in the process. In future years I’ll be taking myself out of the game by playing the song in the early hours of 1st December – the last few days have been a bit unexpectedly stressful! I did really enjoy playing the video on YouTube at 2am this morning though!

A lovely early run with my headtorch this morning to start the day, and soon we’ll be having breakfast and presents with the family.


parkrundays: Pendle #426 and Town Moor #604

A quick parkrunday catchup.

Last week I was at Pendle again while visiting the in-laws. The course was muddier than usual but I was pleased to improve on my September course PB, taking off another 54 seconds with a 28:42. Up until August 2023, 28:42 was my all-time parkrun PB, set in 2018 in much more amenable conditions at Town Moor, and so to equal that on the toughest parkrun course I do semi-regularly was pretty special. I was really pleased with that.

Working hard for it! Photo from Pendle parkrun Facebook page.

Today I returned to Town Moor, scene of my new all-time PB a fortnight ago. The conditions were not good at all – 45 mph winds on the Moor – and so I didn’t expect to get anywhere near that time. But somehow I managed 26:10 – so another 13 seconds off the PB! Can’t believe it!

Next week I’ll be visiting a parkrun I haven’t done for nearly four years! Looking forward to it…

Phone Box Thursday: Wells Road, Malvern Wells

Still in the Malvern area this week!

Red phone box
Red phone box, Wells Road, Malvern Wells, 18th September 2023.

(Coordinates 52°07’79.3″N, 2°33’23.8″W.)

This one is an information point and book exchange. It looks very well stocked and used!

Anne also sent me a link to this lovely Christmassy phone box image (links to Facebook). Nice to have a Christmas phone box picture!

More from the Malvern area next week.

parkrundays: Jesmond Dene #129, Jesmond Dene #130, Leazes #131, Jesmond Dene #132, Jesmond Dene #133, Jesmond Dene #134 and Town Moor #602

That was quite a nice series of event numbers until Town Moor! I believe Leazes and Jesmond Dene are no longer in sync due to cancellations, but they’ll likely be similar in event number for a while yet.

I’ve got two months’ worth of parkrundays to catch up with as I haven’t had time to blog lately. I’ll try and keep it short-ish!

On the 14th of October I tailwalked around Jesmond Dene. Quite a fast field and if it hadn’t been for the parkwalkers I would probably have had to run!

I couldn’t parkrun on 21st October due to Storm Babet 🙁 I had a volunteer slot booked at Jesmond Dene but it was cancelled and we had a train to catch, and it was a bit too tight for me to get to any other run.

I was back at Jesmond Dene on 28th October. I managed my first ever Jesmond Dene sub-30 – 29:37! (And in Hallowe’en getup, too!)

I headed to Leazes on the 4th of November to try and get an all-time PB. I managed it – 26:24, which was 8 seconds faster than my previous best at Denton Dene in September.

Leazes parkrun
Trying to warm up post-parkrun! Photo from the Leazes parkrun Facebook page.

Back at Jesmond Dene on 11th November. I was feeling slightly under the weather so I took it easy for 32:07.

Another run round the Dene on the 18th of November… but this time I gave it a go again and got my second fastest course time (29:44).

And back again on the 25th – this time for another big course PB, despite having an asthma attack on the way up the hill! (Need to remember to take my inhaler before parkrun.) New course PB 28:41!

This resulted in the very strange situation where my Jesmond Dene PB was 1 second faster than my Town Moor PB (28:42, set back in September 2018 – this was my all-time PB for nearly five years before I managed to break it at Agnew this August).

I wasn’t having that, so I resolved to do something about it at Town Moor the following week!

Unfortunately, the following week (2nd December), Town Moor was off. Along with pretty much the entirety of north-east England. 34 out of 36 parkruns in the region cancelled, leaving only Cotsford Fields and Marshall Drive as the two hardy coastal survivors down in Teesside. Much as I hate to miss parkrun, I wasn’t driving down there in the deep snow, so my next adventure would have to wait.

On the 9th of December, I headed to Town Moor, a week later than planned. No pacers unfortunately (they’re only in service on the first weekend of the month) and I wimped out of dressing for a PB attempt due to the cold, but I got a good start and I was overtaking friends who I knew were going for 26:45ish, so I thought I was probably on for a good time if I could just keep going.

I managed 26:23. A new all-time PB by 1 second, just beating my time at Leazes from a few weeks ago! And in tougher conditions on a tougher course 🙂

I have three more parkruns to do in 2023 (as I’m skipping the Christmas Day one for family time) – a course PB attempt this coming weekend, a let’s-see-what-happens on the 23rd, and then a maybe-just-maybe on a fast course on the 30th… so the year isn’t quite done yet. I’ll try and be a bit more prompt with my blog updates for those!

Phone Box Thursday: The Swan Inn, Hanley Swan

An uprooted phone box today!

Red phone box
Red phone box, The Swan Inn, Hanley Swan, 18th September 2023.

(Coordinates 52°08’44.6″N, 2°27’42.4″W.)

This phone box has been fairly recently re-rooted. It doesn’t appear in the Street View image from November 2021, so it must be a relatively new acquisition on the part of the Swan Inn. Wonder where it was originally?

It’s pretty empty, but it does look nice!