So here we go again, a new year, another review of the year a reflection of what we did, what we learnt and where we enjoyed ourselves. Eleven years in doing this; cathartic in some ways full of nostalgia in others and creating a record for the future to enable that joyful hobby of reminiscing.

Also, I hope a set of recommendations for others too; restaurants, music, books places to go and things to do. As a tradition it has grown and changed, once a work thing, evolved into a music thing and now a life thing!

It’s been a busy year, one that took a strange turn that was unexpected early on, a change that in some ways could have rocked my world but in reality, just created access to new things to learn from and enjoy.

Leaving Boots was an eye opener. Seeing how big corporations make some decisions was upsetting, particularly when you have been so ‘in love’ with the brand, the team and everything that it meant. But the world kept spinning and I feel a better person for where I am now, although I miss what was the most exciting times an old IT person could experience, more on all this later.

For now, pull up a glass of mulled wine or a nice hot Americano and dive into a few reflections on the year that was…

NYC in January was always going to be a wonderful experience and the world’s biggest technology and retail conference was stunning to see. The NRF conference is simply huge, so many amazing things to see and we were even on stage ourselves. Presenting with my friend and colleague from Boots was a lot of fun with lots of people there to hear about our journey to a composable architecture and how we had engaged the Executive team on this journey. Super rewarding to be part of it. On the day before being able to get back to some of my old haunts too, flying solo was nice; Sarabeths, Jeffrey’s and some shopping in Kith, Bape and Saks for the small ones made for a challenge when it came to packing for the return journey. On the last day we got to visit the IBM Research Lab in York Town, not since a visit to MIT more than a decade ago had I seen such amazing cutting-edge technology that, simply put, blew my mind and really was an inspiration for the future.

Seeing eHealth Ireland at the Public Accounts Committee in Dublin was sad but reflective. For three amazing years I chipped away at what needed to be done to bring digital to the forefront of how healthcare is to be delivered, sadly in so many ways for the PAC to still be talking about the plans we drew up so many years ago was a moment full of wishes. In some ways it was good as it made me realise the plan was still the right one it just needs executing more quickly.  

February arrived with the sad passing of Dr. Tim from the CHIME team a very sad moment. Tim had been a mentor, an inspiration, and a solid rock in many years for my own development. I made a promise to myself to try to remember many of the lessons Tim had taught as I went through the year, he was a true gentleman, kind-hearted and always open to sharing, something we all need to emulate as leaders.

We decided to do Valentine’s Day with the small ones out at Tattu in Leeds and it was a remarkable night out. Awesome food, fun and giggles across the table, a wedding proposal on the next table and some famous footballers in the corner. Moments like this cemented for me how much fun it is taking the small ones out to dinners like this, phones away and an amazing menu and wonderful service. They have grown into culinary adventurers in the last couple of years and lots of fun to be with in a place like this.   

I got a bit of ‘stick’ for wanting to arrange a party for my Birthday. It wasn’t a big birthday but at the end of February it felt like a good thing to do to blow away those winter blues. We went for it, at the time a favourite haunt of ours in Wakefield that has now sadly closed was Alberts. A place where we could take over the music, ask people to come as 1974 and have some fun, and it was lots of fun. The soundtrack is still getting played now, have a listen HERE.

A visit to the lakes; Ambleside first and then on to Cartmel and L’Enclume was a journey we had done before, and we enjoyed doing again. Cartmel is straight from a picture postcard every time we go there and L’Enclume was soon to be recognised as one of the top five restaurants in the entire world, it was amazing to eat here for a second time and build the memories of the magic that Simon Rogan and the team can create.

March started with our honeymoon which came around at the very beginning of the month. Barbados, an awesome beach and fun entertainment the standout moments were; Oistins Fish market, Wedding day part two on the beach and The Cliff Restaurant at Appleby.

The night out at the fish market was an assault on the senses; noise, smells and taste all melding together to create a true feeling of Barbados its culture and its amazing people. We were able to put wedding outfits on again and just as a couple experience for a second time being able to have the happiest day of our lives, creating some amazing memories and some cool photos too. Probably the best ‘thing’ was a trip to The Cliff, a random(ish) recommendation from a friend back in the UK who then helped us get a reservation. Our minds were blown by the food, the service, and the views, up there as one of the best places to eat in the entire world I would say.

But then we had to go home…  

The Rewired conference has been a feature in my calendar for many years now. This one was particularly important to me as Boots had taken a big stake in being part of it with key notes from my boss and from me too. The stand was amazing and the way people from across health tech reacted to us being there was awesome. It was perhaps even more of an emotional tug for me as at this point, I knew I would be leaving Boots, when you can see the legacy that you have built in front of your very eyes it can be hard to leave it.

De La Soul being back out both on vinyl and even being able to stream was a lovely moment, those first two albums were such formative moments and reminded me again how much anyone can love Hip-Hop and needs to in 2023!

A trip to Centre Parks in Nottingham with the whole gang was brilliant; Tree top climbing, lots of pool action and fun with the Go-Pro and then on to Annie’s Burger Shack for Mother’s Day dinner, turns out this is still the small one’s favourite restaurant in the entire world.

Being able to let go of some of the ways of the world in 2023 and allow Snoop Dog to entertain us as only he can was a fun moment to think back on. D12 (or maybe D3 and a half now) as support and then the mighty Snoop playing all the hits from a big stage with a somewhat ridiculous set up was as much comedy gold as it was musical genius and when the hits did roll it was brilliant to hear him still have the style necessary to pull them off.

The Wah Wah Records obsession continued to grow and grow, now in place though a ‘deal’ that requires me to remove old less listened to vinyl in order to make way for new purchases. This meant that when I hit a Neil Young and Miles Davies obsession there was a lot of scratching of heads of which pieces of vinyl needed to be traded in, but the best five Neil Young albums played at a beautiful volume can’t be beaten and my jazz appreciation and education continues to work out where it lands for sure.

Leaving Boots caught up with me really quickly. After a wonderful period of time, it was time to move to my new exciting role. It was a day full of sadness though, many people put so much effort in to celebrate what had gone and the promises of staying close always felt real. Taking that Nottingham photo that so many people had before me and leaving the head office for the last time brought a lot of emotion, but onwards to the next challenge was my way of dealing with this.  

April started with a week of fun stuff before beginning the new job. Footgolf in York for the first time with the small ones and a trip to London again with the small ones but me solo adult was absolutely brilliant. Madam Tussauds, Brasserie of Light, shopping here there and everywhere and a super journey there and back. These cemented the end of an era and the beginning of something new in so many ways.

We spotted an Acid Jazz exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley near Leeds and made the trek out to take a look on a Saturday morning. It was so great to see so much of my past culture that I loved there in front of me, magazine covers I had cherished, flyers for gigs I had been to and reviews of albums that had been firm favourites. It made me want to revaluate the scene again and play some of the classics, Jamiroquai, Young Disciples, Urban Species, Corduroy, Mother Earth and Us3 all got a play that evening.

Back to being the new boy in a role was actually exciting at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). I was so warmly welcomed by the team and the induction programme was amazing. Being able to get a hand over from the outgoing CIO was also something of a rarity I was able to enjoy. The sheer size of the organisation still keeps me up at night but the good I can see we can do puts a smile on my face even in those stressful moments and the team around me are brilliant and all up for what is a huge challenge but a wonderfully rewarding one if we can pull it off, and we kind of have to!

After hearing a beautiful record playing at my favourite Wakefield haunt I immediately ordered the vinyl ‘Jazz For The Carriage Trade’ I didn’t want to ask for the one in the record shop this time around as everyone was enjoying this unknown (to me) piece of music, I love it when you hear something new for the first time and it relights your fire for certain types of music, for the next few weeks jazz became this go to thing again which was lovely.

Which is probably a good time to pause the review of the year and drop in the music of the year section, which in reality is what this thing was originally about in so many ways 11 (and more pre-blog and just music lists exchanged) years ago.

It felt like a great year for albums, and as always (and the original reason for this list) my songs of the year can be found on the link HERE. But when it comes to albums the new stuff I have found myself listening to includes; Steve Mason, Folamour, Yazmin Lacey, The National (x2), Go Go Penguin, Roisin Murphy, Alison Goldfrap, Jungle, Kassa Overall, Daisy Jones and the Six, Romy, Norman Sann, Yussef Dayes, Jalen Ngonda, McKinley Dixon, Coast Contra and Marlon Craft to list out just a few. Perhaps the most important record though for me is a mix album by the always amazing Luke Una, his Soul Cultura part two, like the first version is just brilliant.

Swapping Nottingham for London as my regular haunt came with a bonus, the many places I had on my list of restaurants I promised myself would get a dusting down, the first one was Portena in Borough Market, in essence a stall on the edge of the market but offering the most amazing Spanish snacks and lovely glasses of red wine, sitting there watching how, on a sunny evening, Borough just ebbs and flows with people there to enjoy themselves is a very lovely feeling and one I would seek to repeat a few times over the summer.

May arrived at pace and we had an evening booked as part of Christmas with the Harlem Globetrotters after dinner at the new Ivy Asia in Leeds. The Globetrotters were so entertaining but actually the best part was running from the event at Leeds arena back to the car home, the small ones bouncing their new basketballs and us all laughing and giggling all the way, one of those forever moments for all of us.  

Sat Bains Restaurant in Nottingham is one of the best in the UK, the rooms are stunning, and the service is exceptional. One of our wedding presents and my leaving present from Boots was a fabulous night there which we simply had to share with two of our best friends which made it even more special. Best course though, a trip out to the green house to make your own pizzas and drink a brewed locally larger was just a brilliant touch.

The Hot Topics CIO100 at Abbey Road Studios and Computer Weekly awards were brilliant, they landed so close to each other it felt a bit embarrassing to talk about them too much, but it really is such a lovely experience when peers put you in for these awards because of what you do. My view is and always will be this stuff is about sharing and learning from each other and that is what matters the most. Being in Abbey Road for the event though and spending time with old healthcare buddies made for a great evening.

My first time at the Leeds Digital Ball was wonderful. To attend as my wife’s plus one as well was a really lovely experience and spending time with so many old friends and colleagues was fun. Reminiscing about the difficulties of the past, the success we made of those difficult times and indeed promising again to reconnect with some brilliant people to share some ideas for how we make more of the future was great and all for a super cause too.

A big day out had been on the cards since December last year, the venue chosen was The Owl in Leeds, a phenomenal restaurant experience six of us there having so much fun and spending quality time together in the sunshine dressed up and looking awesome. Experiences with the friends that you love are so important as you build life in the way you want it to be and doing something as special as a day out where everyone just laughs and smiles is a great way of knowing that there is a reason why you work so hard so much of the time.

Seeing Barnsley get to the play offs had joy and sadness to it. Joy in the team getting there and the performance on the day too but sadness in the last-minute happenings and missing out on what could have been a glorious return up the football leagues. It did make me promise myself that I would be sure to get to more games though the following season.

I’m a show off and I know it. I love being on a stage and talking about stuff, hoping it lands well and makes sense and June gave me a great opportunity to do this. I was asked to deliver the KLAS Analysis Summit keynote in Portugal closing a brilliant event that has a great history. The venue had a wow factor, so many faces from past that I have the upmost respect for and a lovely baby blue suit to make me feel like I could do it. The reaction was amazing and my own self confidence after a bumpy few weeks was restored too which was lovely.

At the same time the Computer Weekly 50 most influential digital leaders were published, being part of that list, like the HotTopics 100 just a few weeks earlier was lovely and gave me a bit of a platform to talk again about how we simply must start to support each other more and more in these amazing digital transformation roles we have.

Ibiza was designed to be different this year as by request the small ones wanted to come and see what all the fuss was about. You know you have done well when on the last day one of them pretty much said they were not going home! We managed to squeeze in; Pikes, Mambo, Ibiza Town on the roof, shopping at Pacha just me and the oldest one which was brilliant. We made it to some ‘new to us’ places too which is the beauty of going anywhere with our friends as they are as obsessed with finding the little thing that is different as we are; so new to our White Isle list is Cappuccino Grand Café in San Antonio and Bambuddha in the hills somewhere which was just surreal if truth be known. On this visit as with previous visits though I realised that Pikes is actually a tiny bit of heaven on earth, just saying!  

DL100 Awards was held in Leeds this year and I had the absolute honour of being asked to give the after-dinner speech, focusing on people and how we need to support each other as we strive for a professionalised industry that is respected and delivers for customers, patients and citizens, whilst at the same time trying to be entertaining was a challenge but I really loved it I have to say and being able to present the apprentice of the year award was so special too.

I have loved Baseball since a trip to Boston many moons ago got me watching it on TV whilst over there. Being able to head to London with a great friend and see the Cubs Vs the Cardinals was an awesome day out. Getting dinner at Brasserie of Light before-hand and then hitting some lovely bars afterwards made it feel super special and something that I hope becomes an annual trip, I know the medium one wants to hit the American Football too in 2024 which I think is a great idea. Superb opportunity for London to host these things, however UK infrastructure needs to get much better if this can become a regular thing. Kings Cross was closed we knew that on the way home but to get to St. Pancras and see that the heat had melted the electricity lines here too was a bit of a bummer as back at home in Yorkshire we were having a Glastonbury party with all the gang around, we made it after several train changes and squashing into trains that felt a bit scary on such a hot day.  

The smallest one’s birthday party has traditionally been a great event, almost always beautiful weather with it being in July with lots of friends and family there to celebrate. This year was no exception although a bit different in that the small ones had their own party first at Capri at the Vine and then back to our house for dancing in rain like I have never ever seen. So much silliness and fun in the name of a 12th birthday!

I mentioned already that my plan for being in London was to get a lot more food tries on my list, Maison Francois, Trullo, Little Social, Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch, Mantecca and Alex Dilling at Hotel Café Royal sometimes on my own and often with friends who found themselves in London were great new tries for the summer. Two highlights; Mantecca sat at the chefs’ counter on my own and Alex Dilling for the sheer opulence of eating with an old friend on a Tuesday night, such an amazing meal.

The first of the summer holidays arrived, with I think a fanfare we should be proud of as we had been planning and gearing up for this for a year at least. Turkey is a place I had been to before and thoroughly enjoyed, this trip with friends and lots of kids was always going to be special and it lived up to the expectations we all had. Awesome food, lots of fun bartering in the market and an awesome day out in a boat to the Blue Lagoon and seeing some of old Turkey. But I guess the best part was simply being with so many lovely people and watching our mini adults really be just that. An awesome time had by all.

One thing that was sad whilst in Turkey was to see Rhodes and other Greek islands really suffering through blazing fires. Whilst I can’t say I am an environmental warrior at all I can say that it is really quite clear that the impact of climate change is so stark and obvious that we simply have to do something to stop this destruction of these beautiful places, so sad. I need to be better at doing my bit and seeing this destruction made me really think again what is it I can do.

Talking of sad, the passing of Sinead O’Connor should also be remembered, a person so fragile for so long that I think we should all describe her as ‘see through’. Yet the music industry and society itself never did enough to protect her or help her. Mental health is a huge issue, the more fragile the person the more impactful it can be, we must find new ways to support people and stop this horrible disease from having the impacts it clearly does.

Back in the UK after the holiday we were able to go to dinner at The Gourmet Dining Room in Doncaster which had been in the diary for an age, two lovely new friends told us about this experience, effectively an amazing supper club in the kitchen of a wonderful chef, such a great experience and such a great way to spend more time with new friends too.

August and the start of the football season is always exciting, admittedly it can lose its shine quickly but the first home game (as I had promised to myself at the end of the play-offs) for me this year was a smasher, winning 7-0 on the first day of the season was a delight, one that saw us without our voices and a bit giddy when we got home but revitalised in the knowledge of how much fun you can have at the football, and for me in particular at Oakwell where so many memories lurk. As the season has gone on though that performance has not yet repeated…

Just like last year we always planned to do two holidays with the small ones in the school holidays giving us time to create experiences and memories and this year we had hatched a plan to go to London, Paris, and Barcelona all via train. With almost flawless execution we had an amazing time; highlights in Paris were the long walk down the left bank and feeling very much part of Paris in little café’s, an early morning visit around the Louvre buildings taking photos and an amazing surprise. My brother in-law asking his wonderful girlfriend to marry him in front of the Sacre Coure on Mont Marte with the Eifel Tower in the background, just lovely.

The train to Barcelona comes with a very special recommendation. Firstly, its very comfortable and you are well looked after for the six and a half hours. The Paris station is Gare de Lyon with the very famous Le Train Bleu restaurant there, absolutely stunning. The journey itself takes you through the Pyrenees, passing castles, Fleurie vineyards and lakes with flocks of Pink Flamingos on them, stunning, once in Barcelona you are immediately in the thick of it too.

Time in Barcelona with four people who had never seen it before was brilliant, the architecture, food and the variety that the city holds really as always is inspirational. I flip flop between Dublin (on a sunny day) and Barcelona on an average day as my two favourite cities to be in ever.

Traveling so much though did at times offer chances to catch up on TV and Films, so now feels like a good time to pause the review and capture my top TV and films of the year. In no particular order; Queens Gambit, Wu Tang S3, You S4, White Lotus S1 and S2, Daisy Jones and the Six, Knives Out, Terminal List, Succession S3, The Drop Out, The Diplomat, The Gold, The Witcher S3, Night Agent, Boston Strangler, Snowfall, Bodies, Tale Of Us, Hijack, Idol, From, Silo, Leave The World Behind, No One Will Save You. All for me real moments in entertainment that were not to be missed. Fascinating when I look back on previous lists how my taste is changing and evolving again though, there was a time when the list was full of super hero and Sci-Fi stuff and so much more is landing in there now. If I had to pick one top tip though it would be Daisy Jones and the Six, so wonderful.

The rest of August was back to work with a bang and some time for just me and my loved one doing some stuff together we don’t always get chance to. A trip to Leeds latest culinary delight Six by Nico for their themed meal based on story telling was really brilliant, such a clever idea.

We are lucky to have a house that can accommodate lots of friends too as we became hosts to two weekends of fun and games with some of our best ever friends enjoying sunshine, cooking and being silly from dawn to dusk. What is always brilliant about these times is the ageless nature, the small ones and the oldest ones all having fun together is something I love looking around and seeing.

September saw us able to get to a brilliant day just the two of us, one we had been looking forward to for ages and ages. Restaurant Home in Leeds has been on my hot list for such a long time, even before it relocated, and boy it did not disappoint. We had such a lovely pre-drink as well in the square listening to Minnie Riperton edits and then eating some of the best food I have ever had, and all feeling very decadent doing it on a Sunday lunch. As much as I love the Owl and Ox Club and Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds this place has shot straight to the top of my list.  

Since joining DWP the talk of summer school in Cambridge had been quite a loud conversation and one that had been exciting. As the date came around, I found myself feeling like a very privileged student for a few days, staying at Kings, teaching from the stage, learning from the seats and getting to visit the Churchill archives. One of the biggest pieces of learning for me in joining my new role was seeing the cohorts from across the UK come together to solve problems for our organisation regardless of where they worked or what they did, real diversity in action was what kept striking me as I heard so many answers to so many questions from so many different perspectives.

It’s not often we manage to get a boys night out in our little town but we did on a warm night in September. Curry and then falling into Elliot’s bar for the first time. This place is quite special with specific nights for bands and nights for vinyl only DJs too, lots of fun singing along to the band and planning when we could make it back to visit with our other halves too. Elliot’s, Amaia, Robatary, Qubana, Iris, Tet and Kraft and so many more little independent places in Wakefield make up such a great back drop for a night out, highly recommended.

So, Saltie Girl as a dinner venue was a discovery mid-year that became a must return to as the year went on. It’s hard to find a restaurant in London that caters for sitting at the bar and having a quick meal as much as it offers a nice place to relax with friends, for me Saltie Girls does this, a tin of fish and nice breads or a full three course inventive meal, doesn’t matter they get it right every time and the service is exceptional and the wine list is brilliant. In September, I made it there twice introducing friends to a super place in a great London location.

We had been looking forward to seeing The National for a few months, and then the week before they dropped their second album of the year which was just as good as the first. Kids and dog happy elsewhere gave us the chance to have a whole day out in town and a night at a gig, proper grown-up behaviour.  We chose a new place to try for food, Easy Cheesy in the Corn Exchange in Leeds, wine, and cheese what’s not to love. A bit of wandering and shopping and then up to the arena for the gig, The National were just awesome, so big in sound and emotion they played a set list of perfection, well balanced between new and old songs with Terrible Love and Mr. November in the encore too.

As we went into October the weather started to change and I seemed to be away so much more, not always great but it does mean ticking off some more restaurants Kiln in London, Dishoom in Manchester, Humble Grape and Fallow and Gymkhana in London all got a visit and often with my better half too. One-word reviews; Kiln was spicey, Dishoom was exceptional service, Humble Grape was fun, Fallow was an experience and Gymkhana was a huge meal!

On the subject of restaurants, we got to go back to the Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds, a Christmas present that had been a long time in coming was redeemed and a brilliant time was had by all four of us. It has been such an invention over the years and a place that has marked some important moments in life for us, whilst it’s sad to hear that it is now going to close it is exciting to think what it will transform into and how everything from the space to the team there will be made a new and what that will be like, can’t wait to see this.

Visiting Norham to see my parents is always fun, Spital Beach, Coldingham bay, Berwick Upon Tweed were all on the cards. Doing it with my better halves’ parents too, staying in a brilliant Air BnB and traveling up in the new car all added to the adventure, its sad to go home as its so far it always worries me the distance, we put between visits, but we do make the most of it when we are there.  

And before we knew it, we were in November and off to Barcelona again. Oh, Barcelona you never cease to amaze me as a city and November seems to be the time when I get to see you the most. The Gartner conference has at times in my past been the highlight of the learning year, this was my fifth visit in the last decade and again it was really inspirational, the keynote from Suneel Gupta had quite an impact on me and got me thinking a lot about how we learn.

Celebrating our first anniversary was brilliant too, firstly an anniversary dinner at the Star Inn the location of the most amazing day 12 months prior, one of the smallest ones declaring his steak was the best he had eaten in the world and the waitress who looked after us remembering our party with a lovely smile made the day so special. Disappearing just like 12 months prior to York was a nice parallel, this time we got to add a gig and some Christmas preparation too. Ben Folds playing in York was great, another US musician (like the National) able to put together a near perfect set list for us.

Anyone who has followed the blog knows each year I have a books to read target, it’s been, ‘can I read 12 in a year’ and I have failed for a few years, this year I made it through; so recommendations for you are:  

  • Me – Elton John
  • To Pimp A Butterfly – Sequoia Maner
  • The Terminal List – Jack Carr
  • A Visible Man – Edward Enninful
  • No – Percival Everett
  • Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Three Of Us – Ore Agbaje-Williams
  • Go Ahead in The Rain (Notes to A Tribe Called Quest) – Hanif Abdurraqib
  • Falling – TJ Newman
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow – Gabrielle Zevin
  • River Man, A Very British Masterpiece – Jochen Markhorst
  • Surrender – Bono

I think the secret to hitting the target has been to mix up the types of books more, I have spent too long trying to force the issue of reading to improve who I am and what I did and to some degree lost some of the love of reading for the entertainment of it, I found that this year and have loved it. The highlight though must be Zevin’s Tomorrow book, absolutely amazing.

Before we knew it, we were in December. A little grown ups holiday to Las Vegas was brilliant to do as the weather turned a bit in the UK. Seeing it all done up for Christmas, seeing the awesome shows there and the Sphere and eating at Hells Kitchen, STK and Yardbird were brilliant highlights, but in reality, just having some down time away from it all made a difference at this time of the year too.

We managed to get a nice, relaxed birthday for my love and really eased into the Christmas festivities which felt nice after a hectic few weeks. The plans still went well for the actual holiday period with a house full of friends and family for Boxing Day and lots of beaming faces from the small ones at the plans ahead for 2024 on Christmas day itself.

That gap inbetween Christmas and New Year was an odd one in some ways this year, more to do with where the dates fell but the best part of it was spending the evening with the family Thomas, its just so awe inspiring to see how four small ones can build this wonderful relationship around the friendship of the adults in the ‘team’ and I love to see it happen so easily no matter whether out ina lovely Greek restaurant or playing games late into the night.

I guess that rounds off the year then… tradition with this blog is to also say thank you to a few people who have made it so special, what is brilliant and maybe brings with it a bit of stability is that so many of the people I thanked last year are the same this year… being the new boy in a new organisation means I have leaned heavily on a few people, they know who they are and they have helped me so much so a big thanks to that team. Family and our tight (but extended unit) that includes the Ramsdens, Duffy’s and Thomas’s as well as the extended Thornton family have been there all year and made laughter so easy to occur.

The two most important people though continue to grow and grow Milly as a young adult that sees good in everything and is becoming so self-assured it blows my mind and Ethan who gets more and more adventurous in his outlook to the world, who entertains us with his shenanigans and generally invented the wry smile! These two are what we are now here for in so many ways…

I say these are what we are here for, and I guess that’s when I get to thank the love of my (l)wife as she is the reason WE exist, she goes about everything knowing she will get there and yet somehow manages to support making all this stuff happen. What a year has gone for her and what a year ahead we have too.

And another tradition from my end of year blog, the hunt for a quote that sets up the year ahead,

Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.

Oprah Winfrey

By learning from the years gone by I (and we) found a new way to stand, we go into 2024 knowing that anything is possible and we are definitely not going to ‘just’ stand still.

Welcome 2024, shine bright on us and give us your best!