Whoops! It has been a bit of time since I last wrote anything on this site. Eighteen months to be precise. The reason being that it was taking too long each week to prepare a letter, and it was holding me back on other projects I desperately wanted to work on, more of which later!
My initial thoughts were to let the site slowly fade away, but the visitors still kept coming courtesy of Google. I also continued to receive occasional emails with comments and suggestions. During this time there was also a sense of guilt about an abandoned project which combined with the loss of my online voice has prompted a rethink and indeed a relaunch!
As writing a weekly blog was too time consuming, I have decided to make it a monthly letter. Also, it will be a slightly more personal account of my life, but there will still be snippets about English life and also the recipes that proved so popular.
After making the decision to resurrect the site my next step was to give it a makeover. Now, you know how it is when you look at something that you have done in the past and it is rather impressive. There is a nagging doubt that maybe you could not do it again and that your powers may be on the wane. Well, this was not one of those occasions! It looked a complete mess and a major overhaul was needed.
I seemed to have been involved in some sort of personal crusade to see how many different colours and fonts I could squeeze into one page. Also borders and right angles! I loved borders around my squares and rectangles, and then encasing them in a larger rectangle with another border. And to show off my border and right angle skills I choose nice bright contrasting colours.
Well I have done what I can to eradicate the majority of my sins, although a few of the more stubborn ones still linger for the time being.
So let me introduce you to some of the other changes. Firstly I have removed the podcasts and webcasts, as they were frankly embarrassing. The logo has been cleaned up, I have also added some rather jolly graphics and labels which I think look rather smart. I have kept the weather and currency as they were a lot of work and are plodding on nicely.
I have redone the links to my sites and added all the new ones I have written. Finally, just for a bit of gloating I have put graphs of my visitor statistics.
I recently had a month assignment to write a site for Eastbourne Aquarium And Reptile Centre. To accomplish this I set up camp every afternoon in the basement amongst the tanks. As there was little space a bit of improvisation was needed which came in the form of a foldaway picnic table and a half-busted laptop.
As you can see it was rather cosy and after working for many years in plush London offices I can honestly say it is my favourite workplace.
My "desk buddies" included a stingray in a tank above my head and a large enclosure with boa constrictors and a Burmese python. All of whom I would trust more than some of my previous work colleagues. I also discovered that the basement had previously been used as a morgue, which added a bit more gothic splendour.
There is one thing that I have been coy about in these last few years, and that is my age. Unfortunately the secret is now out. On the 17th of February of this year I hit my half-century. I started my innings two months before Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space and in the same year that Ken became Barbie's boyfriend.
As with any age milestone, it was not something that I was looking forward to. Anyway I have dusted myself down and apart from the odd knock and bruise I think I haven't worn too badly and there is plenty more of the game to be played yet!
My little adventure all started after a conversation in a pub last spring landed me with some free seeds. Always with an eye for a bargain I thought I'd give it a go and engage in a spot of gardening. I commandeered a couple of small borders and set to work. The soil was really bad as combined with natural clay the house was built on what used to be a builder's yard and is strewn with concrete and rubble. I dug the two borders and sieved all the soil adding a good volume of peat.
After this rather public activity my main concern was that my efforts yielded at least one viable plant and a vegetable. I planted out the small cherry tomato plants that had been growing on the kitchen window sill and staked them with some small lengths of bamboo. I reasoned small fruit = small plant. Wrong!
As you can see I became somewhat a victim of my own success and towards the end of summer the more I chopped the tomato plants back the more they kept coming. The frost finally did for them at which point they were about eight feet high and a local talking point. That's me at the back and if you look closely you can see one of my dogs peeking through the undergrowth.
The chillies I planted were much better behaved and produced me a bumper crop. I have already bought seeds for this year, so the adventure will continue. But one thing is for certain I am going to keep a close eye on the tomato plants!
That's the end of this letter and I had really good fun writing it. So rest assured that I'll be back in a month's time!
I hope you have a good month!