New year’s resolutions for 2021

Writing new year’s resolutions is something I have been doing since 2007. But for some reason, I took a break in 2020 for some reason. Might be because I got engaged over the christmas last year so it must have slipped my mind.

  1. Learn to drive
  2. Shutdown noise in my life. Unsubscribe to newsletters, slack and text alerts
  3. Learn to bake.
  4. Create weekly meal plans.
  5. Setup my office and use it.
  6. Try to get out of the house for a walk once a day.
  7. Finish planning my wedding

New years resoltions for 2019

It is the time of year, that I make more resolutions for the year. I have been doing this style of blog now for 11 years. I think it one of my faviour things to do, as it keeps me honest about my goals for the year.

  1. Learn to drive 
  2. Expand my pallet 
  3. Finish books that I start 
  4. Rewrite my personal site with react / css grid / different hosting.
  5. Cut of caffeine drinks 
  6. Hit saving goal and save for pension.
  7. Do company admin as I go and don’t let it mount up 
  8. Stop swearing 
  9. Improve IT security of everyone in my life
  10. Setup regular appointments with dentist, barber, opticians and doctor. Make calendar reminders to follow up on these appointments.

Sorry this post is late, it has been sitting in draft since before the next year.

Last years Resolutions revisited 2018

It’s the time of year again to revisit last’s resolutions.

Be better in touching base with people. Send messages, call and take people out for dinner. Make sure you know what is going on in my friends and family’s life.

Failed. With running business and working open source project, I think I have got waste at this. I do do catchups with friends, but I am rubbish at answering texts.

Drink more watch and less soda

Success. The trick to this not buying it and having it in the house.

Learn to drive

Failed. Again, this comes down to limited time. I am going to try and find time this year.

Walk more

Success. Moving house helps with this and going for walks in the Richmond area.

Be more mindful and read up on mindfulness.

Success. I was more mindful this year and I tried to rest more. I think having a place to fix that I want to spend time, really helps with resting at home.

Read about nutrition

Success. I did read a book called The Diet Myth. I also read some interesting

Do more public speaking

Success. I did a talk at WordPress meetup. I put in requests to speak at 4 WordCamps.

Be more humble

Success. This is one, I need to remember and also keep in mind.

Invest money better

Success. Put my money in premium bonds, as they are super flexible.

Take more downtime away from my computers.

Success. Put my money in premium bonds, as they are super flexible.

Not bad this year with only 2 really fails. I have been extremely busy this year, so find time to do lots of these things.

New years resoltions for 2018

It’s the time of the year when I try and focus on what I want to get done with year. I missed doing resolutions last year, as I was travelling. However, I am starting them up again this year.

  1. Be better in touching base with people. Send messages, call and take people out for dinner. Make sure you know what is going on in my friends and family’s life.
  2. Drink more watch and less soda
  3. Learn to drive
  4. Walk more
  5. Be more mindful and read up on mindfulness.
  6. Read about nutrition
  7. Do more public speaking
  8. Be more humble
  9. Invest money better
  10. Take more downtime away from my computers.

Last years Resolutions revisited 2016

I have been doing these new years resolutions post, since 2007. I think it has really become an important part of my life, as it gives me a chance to reflect on goals I have for the next year and reflect goals I did and didn’t manage to archive in the year. These posts are normally published in early January at the same time the new resolutions go up. However, those following this blog and who know me well, know that 2016 was a very different year for me. Half way the year, I decided to quit my job and go travelling. This put a lot of things out of whack in my life as everything went on hold. This list doesn’t really feel like it reflects my goals for 2016 anymore. But for the sake of completion, I will still work my way though the list.

  1. Be an organiser, plan events, meetings and interesting trips 
    I feel like I completed this one. Planning a trip around south america and USA, was really hard. 
  2. Take a trip to a far away country, like America.
    I went around South America, Mexico, USA and Canada on a backpacking trip for 7 months.
  3. Stop stress eating and eat smaller amounts 
    I lost a lot of weight travelling and the amount of food I eat was very controlled. But this is an on going thing. 
  4. Read more to learn things, broaden my mind
    I had a lot time to reading while travelling. 
  5. Learn a new programming language or framework, make a project using framework
    I didn’t have the time to get around to this one.
  6. Watch / listen more none mainstream media, find indie films and new music
    This is one that I didn’t do, as it really didn’t fit into plan for the year.
  7. Commit to 10k steps a day
    I have since bought a fitbit and I using it to track steps.
  8. Create list of things to do with weekend and spare time and do them.
    I didn’t do this one. I don’t really know why. 
  9. Buy a good camera and become a better photographer.
    I bought a Canon 75D and having been taking pictures with it whenever I can.
  10. Take more breaks and have a full lunch break away from my desk.

The best nature tour ever – the salt flat of Uyuni

There is a lot said online about the salt flats of Uyuni, most of which is true. There really is nowhere on earth like the salt flats. The standard tour takes 3 days and 2 nights as there are more things to see than just the salt flats. 

I will start this post with some advice for anyone thinking of doing the tour. My advice is simple: research the company you do the tour with and spend a little bit of extra money. When researching we found that most of the companies are just travel agents. This means they do not directly employee the drivers and just subcontract work to local driver. The Bolivian govement only lets Bolivian drivers on the flats. This means a couple of things, firstly it really is a mixed bag of who you will get as a driver. There are stories of rude and even drunk drivers. Secondly, if the car breaks down, that driver is on his own and can’t call for help. We got around these issues by finding a company that was also registered in Bolivia and had offices there. We also paid a little more for an English driver. This meant the driver wasn’t just a local hick, but had some eduction as he spoke our language. 

We were picked up from hostel in San Pedro de Atacama at 7:30 in the morning. From there we drove to the Chilean border and crossed to the Bolivian side. We met our driver Oscar, a very smiley Bolivian man. As we paid for an English guide, it meant we were in the jeep with other English-speakers. The rest of the jeep was three Irish lads who were travelling around. Oscar was extremely car-proud and gave us a massive leacture about not slamming the cars on the jeep. Another very good sign, as this meant he really cared about his jeep and hopefully it wouldn’t break down on the way. The first thing we saw was bubbling geezers. These were pretty amazing and we were only a little bit put off by the fact that a couple of tourist were burnt and killed by them just 3 months previously. 
Secondly we saw a green lagoon. The green colour comes from copper extracts in the water. 

Thirdly, we saw a red lagoon. This had a lot more wildlife, as the red colour of the water came from millions of microorganisms. We call these same microorganisms in the western world sea monkeys. These sea monkeys feed hundreds of flamingo and give them their pink colour. Also surrounding the water there were many wild llama. 

Then we drove back to the refuge for the night. It couldn’t really be called a hostel as it didn’t have electricity and running water. Also at 4200 meter above sea leave, it was amazingly cold and all of us were suffering from altitude sickness. With an extremely early start looming, we tried sleep. The key word being tried, as at that altitude, we all didn’t eat well and had banging headaches. Not to meantion the nearly freezing room with no heating and concrete beds. Needless to say we got little sleep. 

We got up for 6 and after a quick breakfast of cold pancakes, we were off. The second day went much like the first. More lagoons and lots of driving through the desert. It is a weird feeling looking out the window to see sand for miles and miles. Very peaceful and a little worrying as there is on help coming. We ended the second day at a salt hotel. This is, of course, a hotel made of salt. After a reasonable steak dinner and a bottle of wine, we had a decision to make. To get up a 3:30 to see the sunrise or to get up at 6:30 and miss it. After a vote, me and Laura we out numbered and it was decided to miss the sunrise. To be honest, it was much better this way, as we hadn’t slept for days, it meant be were rested for the next day. 

Day 3 started quiet, as we seemed to be the only group that opted to sleep in. This was great for us, as we didn’t see other group for most the rest of the day. Pretty quickly on the first day we got into the salt flats. Nothing can compare for the sheer nothingness. It is just white and white as you can see. Driving in it is relaxing as it is like a white noise machine for your brain. How drivers don’t fall asleep I am not sure. First stop is fish island. A small patch of land in all the salt. Interesting because of all the cactuses. 

The second stop was the big show. The largest patch of clear flats. Truly breath taking. We saw that the touristy thing to do was to make these staged photos, where you use the white of the flats and its strange perspective to play tricks to get silly images. Not feeling like we wanted to miss the full salt flats experience we gave it a go. Here are the results. 

After a lunch at another salt hotel, this one in the middle of the flats, we headed to our final stop. At this point I was getting a little sad. I had really gone to like the people in the jeep. Our driver was a smiley and interesting guy. Also our Irish friends were funny and charming too. 

Final stop was the so-called train cemetery, with a collection of broken 50-60 steam trains, that for reasons unexplained were just leave at uyuni. It makes a pretty sight. 

Final getting to uyuni we said our goodbyes. Honestly, it was one of the highlights of my trip. It was hard at points,  not eating or sleeping, but I think in the end, worth it. 

The sights and sounds of San Pedro de Atacama 

The first thing to say about San Pedro de Atacama, is that it is remote. It took nearly 9 hours to get there from Salta in the north of Chile, much of which was desert and hair-raising winding mountain roads. The experience of this trip was made more interesting by listening to a book called The Road. The true stories of the writer Jack Cerouack, hitchhiking in North America. It is rare when doing a long bus journey to pay any mind to what you see out of the window. But this trip, driving over the Andes and crossing the border, I found myself transfixed by the sights. 

Getting off the bus, a wave of dry heat hit me. Atacama is a desert town and that can be seen in every part, from the dry air, sand-covered roads and dormant volcanos that hover over the town. After walking only 10 minutes, which felt like 45 in the heat, we found b&b. However after getting onto the property, we were unable to find anyone. There were guarddogs barking and old paint cans, but no owner. We began to panic. I rapped loudly on the second and smaller buildings door, hoping for dear life that someone was there. There was and we got in. 
What is there to say about the town itself.? The streets are lined with canals with running water on every street. Other than that, everything is gear towards tourism. Shops are either selling food, alpacker jumpers or tours. We booked our tours and returned to the b&b. 

The first tour was called the lunar valley. Famous and most popular of all tours in the area. It is only a half day tour and started later; it was the first stop to the mars valley, named so because it looks like the surface of mars. It looks extremely dry and is also known to the locals as Death Valley. However, there is an underground lake running under either it. Second stop, we climbed a sand dune. This was hard work as at altitude every step tires you out. From the top, you get an amazing view. 

The final stop on this tour is to the Luna valley. They time it so that you get there slightly before sunset. The most amazing thing about it was to see the colours change when sun went down. There weirdest was seeing a random guy walking around in a Spider-Man outfit. 

On the second day the second tour met us at our b&b at 6:30 in the morning. Both pretty grumpy about being up so early, we were bundled into the back of a van full of Italians. It was a full day tour. We saw amazing rock formations and brightly coloured altiplano lakes. By lunch, we saw the salt flats. These were not the famous one from uyuni but the third largest in the world salt flats. In the flats, there are some areas of water, in which can be found a small collection of flamingos. That was the final stop of the day. we got back to town and enjoy a very nice pizza in an adobe hut and listened to local music. 

The third tour was to the geysers. The van picked us up at 4:30am this time and we were off. The van was freezing as this area can get down to -10 degrees. We were not prepared for this weather as all our clothes were shorts and summer things. Tired and cold we got to the geysers. They are the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere and the water plumes are made bigger by the low temperatures of the morning. The rest of the day is a little bit of a blur, as we were so tired. More amazing wild life like llamas. We got back to the town and slept. After two days with less than 9 hours of sleep, we were spent. 

After a very long nap, we went into town and made our preparations for the uyuni flat flats tour. This is full three days, we needed a lot of food, water and warm clothes. 

Many people miss out Atacama on their tours of South America, I think this is a massive mistake. I strongly recommend it. 

The seven-coloured mountain

Salta in the north of Argentina is really a nothing-town. We tried to find something interesting about the town, but after looking for days, we really didn’t find anything. So in somewhat desperation, we booked the 7 coloured mountain tour. We were picked up early in the morning and were driven for nearly two hours. The 7 coloured mountain is located very close to the border to Bolivia. The colours come from the fact that this whole area used to be seabed and the different colours came from layers of minerals. 

Next to the seven-coloured mountain is a pretty interesting market town, but I am very glad we were just passing through. I am sure that people staying in this tiny town must have gone mad. 

The next stop was was ruins of a civilisation that was over 1000 years old. They were only killed off as they refused to joined the Incan empire and they Incas brought their full force down on them. Still extremely interesting and the cactai really give the place an interesting look. 

Next we had lunch in a old town, with a church that dates back until the colonial times. 

The final stop of the day was a hill, that overlooks some amazing mountains and a cemetery. The cemetery is extremely interesting, as it is a riot of colour. People in Latin America feel like the dead are still a part of their lives. For that reason the cemeteries are a celebration of life. To get to the hill you have to climb up a very sandy and dangous hill. Laura got about half way and decided she didn’t want to die. However, I went ahead as I really wanted to beat the hill. I got to the top and didn’t think I how I would get down. The rocks were not firm under ground, so for safety I ended up climbing down on all 4s. Not exactly glamorous. 

8 Days in Buenos Aires

I arrived into Argentina by boat, which I personally is the best way to arrive into any country. Even Buenos Aires is a city by the sea, it fact is not one that defines it like so many coastal cities. In fact the whole time I was in BA, I kind of forgot that it was by the coast. The city’s use of the water seems only related to the port to come and shipping of goods. There is no real nice beachs on anything like that.

BA is a beautiful city, there is no denying that. In the early 1900s when things were good, the rich built the city up and look many influences for the french and italian immigrants flocking to BA. But with a mix of different influences, building built at different times, it is hard not to feel it is bit of a mess.  A pretty mess but a mess al the same.

Plaza de mayo where we were staying is one of the most important streets in BA, it all end the congress buildings to the other is the pink house, which is the seat of power for the country. For that reason it is a very polictal feel about it and we saw many protests and polictal graffiti.

Doing a number of walking tours while were there we also learn some fo the history of Argentina. So of the recent history was a specially upsetting. We learnt about Mothers of avenue de mayo, the Falklands war and the dictorship that lead up to both of them. These events are a scare on the heart of Argentina. It is important for us all to know about these events so that we can make sure that they never happen again.

This all being said, I enjoyed my time in BA. There are lots of great bars, night life and restrauants. But I felt like I burnt money every second I was there. If you want to enjoy the city, which your credit card, you will need it.