Sunday, 13 January 2013

Belfast Riots

I just want to say thank you to all my friends who have asked if I am OK? If you live in N Ireland, you know it is awful, unnecessary, and killing all the work done to bring peace to this beautiful part of the world. If you don't live here which is most of my friends, the media allows you to focus on the very worst.

It is horrible and spreading, but I live outside of Belfast about 20 miles from the centre and to date about 7 miles from the closest trouble. On Friday when I flew home from London my taxi driver had been affected getting to me and the drive home was very hairy. I was once in my own car in a riot and that was one of the worst times of my life and spent an hour on the phone to a friend who just talked rubbish to me to get me through it.

I don't want to belittle the problem, it is not what we want, it is affecting the economy, no one wants to go shopping in town, more than half of the cruise ships planned to stop in Belfast have cancelled, and I am sure we have lost our place in the top 10 places in the UK to visit. BUT it is not the whole story, N Ireland is beautiful, I love it and normally I am proud to stay I live her.

But thank you all for caring, I do appreciate the messages and emails - I love you all

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Doing her Bit

If you know me at all you know how proud I am of my daughter. I tease her, I laugh at her and if you read some old postings on this blog you can see just how much she makes me giggle.

Yes I am proud of her, she is an officer in the British Army and she got there herself, no pedigree, no silver spoon, no sponsorship, she achieved everything she needed to get there. In a few weeks she has her first posting and will have her first set of soldiers depending on her for leadership, but first, she and her fellow young officers of the Royal Artillery are raising funds for SSAFA, a charity that helps the families of service people.

This challenge is one that Brooke is not only taking part in, but is one of the organisers. It is a tough time for raising money, soon after Movember, Christmas and alongside the January Dryathlon, but dig deep and support them.

Monday, 31 December 2012

Thoughts on 2012 and 2013

I don't blog as much now and was surprised to find my last personal blog was last year's review.

Personally the highlight was Brooke's Commissioning Day at Sandhurst, you will never meet a prouder mum.
  • I learnt what is important, the hard way, when Brooke was involved in an incident the week before her comissioning. God was looking down on her, thankyou.
  • The Diving has taken over, and I have just returned from Egypt where I completed my Advanced Open Water, on my fourth diving trip this year (Gran Canaria, Barbados, Mexico and the Red Sea).
  • I had the best 50th birthday ever and shared the celebrations with Tim Gorman and Pete Sharman along with another 30 of friends in the Rockies.
  • My friends continue to support me (and that physically includes after a very dodgy 80's party in Vegas). 
  • I have made many new friends, many from outside the IT world (that would be the diving again) and hope I can be as good friends to them.
  • I did find the time to visit my best friend in Germany, my 'family' in Guernsey (who also came over for Brooke's Commissioning) and many others. I am blessed.
  • Brooke came home to lay the wreath in our church on Remembrance Sunday, another very proud moment although when I had a chance to fire a large gun under her command on Salisbury Plain she was less proud of me :-)
  • Sometimes still struggle with the mother v friend relationship with Brooke, but every day count my blessings, I never had a good relationship with my mum.
  • My health is good, I put on about half a stone last Christmas and haven't shifted it but you know, just look at how far I have come. I am a new person.
  • The Silver Surfers are still having fun and teaching me.
  • I have spent more time at home this year, the longest period being 9 nights which is top ranking this year for number of consecutive nights in the same bed, (last year home was 3rd at 6 nights).
  • Despite a quieter year (avoided all but 1 trip to Denmark), the imaginary friend is still going strong despite the continuous threat to his life. 
  • Yet again I got to travel the world and indulge my love of teaching. #ILoveMyJob
I am very grateful for the circle of friends who help to lift me up when I get down. Last year I said I was going to try and drag the lows up, unfortunately that didn't happen and the distance between the highs (that were brilliant) and the lows (that sucked) were even greater. As casualties to this was a very good friend, a strained friendship earlier in the year which has now recovered, and far too much time worrying. I especially want to say thank you to those who have given me the physical and virtual hugs to pick myself up.

Professionally it has been a very mixed year:
  • For a while Fujitsu was a challenge as they went through a period of major change and I as one small individual struggled to find my place.
  • The last three months were great I had a fantastic Fujitsu time at Oracle Open World, in Japan and Munich and of course closer to home.
  • UKOUG continued it's change and although I achieved my ambition for re-election I stepped down as President in August which has been a very difficult transition.
  • I continue on the UKOUG Council and led the 2012 Conference Committee and hope to lead the 2013 Apps Conference and foster a vibrant Fusion Community. I am also responsible for Public Sector and Ireland were we continue to grow.
  • I did get to introduce Martin Corry on stage which was cool, love Rugby.
  • I did as intended step down from the Product Development Commitee at the IOUC but it hasn't really developed and I am very sad about that. 
  • I have perfected the 'jazz hands' to go with my signature statement 'I'm not technical', thank you to all in the ACE program for the coaching.
And what do I want from 2013?
  • Sort out those lows!
  • Writing a book as therapy - need to really get on with it!
  • Rescue Diver (and the lots of diving that goes with it).
  • Get fitter, the diving is tiring and what would help is being fit (and / or Nitrox!) 
  • I haven't succumbed to the Internet Dating but will probably give it a go. 
  • Wish my ex and I could be friends,we still share a daughter and should be able to celebrate her achievements together.
  • Get used to Brooke being overseas, she is posted to Germany in February.
  • Visit more friends.
  • Speak in Africa, perhaps we can get an ACE tour sorted.
  • Decide which speaking I can and can't do, so many more considerations now, Budget, Fujitsu and Vacation time and of course which ones I can add diving to. Cary commented on last year's post it was about commitment and I so agree with him.
  • Blog more here, first up needs to be about the diving (did I mention I am hooked?)

Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Thoughts on 2011 and hopes for 2012

More personal this posting

Professionally 2011 has been great:
  • I have a new boss in Fujitsu who sees the value I bring, and enables me to do what I do best.
  • UKOUG has changed and I am President of a great community with a great future.
  • I continue to speak around the UK and the world on Fusion Apps, with help from the ACE Program and the UX Advocates Program.
The friends I have made around the world have given me great highs, but towards the end of the year I also had a number of lows. I get quite lonely, which maybe because I rarely spend time at home, but also because my darling daughter of whom I am so proud graduated from university and is now at Sandhurst as an army officer, and really has flown the nest now. I love travel and love my job and I love my house, but I do need to decide what I want to do in the future.

So my wishes for 2012
  • Iron out the highs and lows (or rather drag the lows up)
  • Have the best 50th birthday ever (which I will because I am celebrating in Colorado with 42 of my best friends
  • See my daughter graduate from Sandhurst
  • Continue to enjoy my job
  • Get re-elected to UKOUG Council and stay on as President
  • Make more friends and stay friends with the ones I have now
  • Visit my best friend in Munster, Germany
  • Step down from the Product Development Committee IOUC and help someone else take over
  • Do more diving, and defiantly before the liveaboard I am doing in August
  • Find someone special would be nice but not sure I am ready for online dating

Friday, 30 September 2011

so Proud

Today my daughter is 23. I am so proud of her, 6 years ago she spent a week with the army for work experience. She came home and said she wanted to be an army officer.

That was the start of a long journey, the familiarisation visits to different areas to decide what part of the army, the tests, and finally the selection board, but 18 months later she was accepted and given a Place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. She had 6 years to take up her place the intention being that she could go to university.

Government cuts meant the gap year the army offered her was cancelled, and later once she started officer cadets there were more cuts. Other people would have given up, but not her, she wanted this and no one else was going to stop her.

She did a volunteer stint in a school in the Dominican Republic where we sponsor children in their medical centre. She had a place to start a nursing degree 6 months later, but very soon after arriving at the school decided nursing was not for her. I love the fact she was brave enough to say so.

After discussing with the army she found a degree that suited her interests, in outdoor activity management. The degree itself was very business focused, the running of the industry and the educational value of outdoor pursuits. Her first year was difficult, not the course she loved that, but the university itself was in a fantastic location but not really a university setting and she felt she was missing out on university life. Worse was that she was unable to be an Officer Cadet as it was too far from her designated base. Again she didn't give up, and moved universities, but first she took time out.

The course required a placement in the industry, not very much a few hundred hours, but she wanted to do something more worthwhile. She found, applied for and was successful in getting a place on an internship with the Australian Outward Bound organization. 9 months but she loved it, learnt a lot about herself and the industry and gained qualifications in many activities. I remember the day she rang to tell me she was abseiling, and how nervous she was. "why?" i asked, "you have done it before" ; "yes but this time I am tying the knots" she laughed.

All too soon and she was back, and within 6 days had celebrated her 21st and started at a new university for year 2, another brave move. She joined the cadets with enthusiasm and over the next two years added sailing and running to long list of achievements. She took part in many adventures including army biathlons and Cowes week. She finished her degree and even going to university was nothing neither me or her dad had ever done.

This summer she had her final tests with the army and there was a little health wobble that threatened to scupper everything. She was devastated and had to wait two weeks for a follow up during which she was marching with the army in Nijmegen. But the medical went OK everything was cleared and the big career was back on.

Then one of my proudest moments, taking her to Sandhurst. She was so excited and so nervous. It is a years training, it is hard, relentless but she will be great at it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Miss You Mum

I finally created a photo book of my mum and dad, just this week almost a year since she died. It was a humbling experience looking back at what they did for us, and the memories it invoked.

My dad always smiled and my mum had a sense of fun in her photos I would never have articulated, perhaps they had more in common than I thought.

I am not going to regret anything, life is too short but I want to say I love them and hope they are as proud as me as I am of them.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

One Big Step For Me

I have just passed my PADI Open Water, which now allows me to dive with my friends. No big deal thousands of people take and pass this every week, but for me it was a big deal, because I am a complete coward and a dedicated worrier.

The reason for taking up diving is very personal and covered in another blog, but the story of the course can be shared. Once I decided I wanted to do it, I talked to my many friends, and yes there are lots but four were very special in me actually going through with it.

D is a diving instructor in his spare time, and he talked to me a lot about what was involved. I trust him 100% and would so loved him to have been my instructor, but he lives in Chicago and I am in the UK, so logistically not very practical. But I did want him to be part of it, and in February this year when I was staying with D and his family, he took me for a Discover Diving session in his local pool. Where I got the opportunity to try it. I was very excited, and couldn't wait to get into the water, but as soon as I started breathing underwater, i wanted to come back to the surface, breath deeply and then try again. Would another instructor be as patient as D? He put up with my panic but not long later I was in the deep end, playing with water toys and the breathing was natural.

That weekend D and more of my friends were going diving in some mines, previously I would have been content to go along and watch but now I had tried it, I wanted to be in with them, and not being qualified that would not be possible, so I stayed away.

A really close friend L dives a lot, and in the UK, and she kept telling me I could do it. She tells me every weekend how much fun it is. I think she took up diving when she started seeing her boyfriend, many years ago to spend more time with him. She is always encouraging me.

One of my best friends M, dives whenever he can, and has a love for ice diving, I am not sure that is high on my list, but agian he is very supportive and when I told him this was my challenge he promised we will all go diving together one day. Now I really look forward to that.

The final friend I want to menton is S, he set himself the same challenge this year but for a completly different reason. He knows how I felt about it, and just a few weeks ago when we met up he told me all about the experience he had doing his Open Water in Hawaii.

My intention was not to tell D and M, they are very special friends and I wanted it to be a surprise for them