Last year I suggested that 2015 would be the year of "doing something new". For the first time in a while, I think I might have missed that target. I did new things in 2015, for sure, but I never managed to find something new to really focus on. However, I leave 2015 full of ideas so I can just push that plan back another year.
I moved back into more central Edinburgh in the summer, having spent a year in the suburbs and finding a mixture of peaceful and isolating. It's nice being back in the fray and being able to do things, though I've noticed my free time fall away sharply as all of Edinburgh's best distractions now sit on my doorstep.
I still work at the University in the same development role with the Student Systems Partnership, making websites to support the administrative functions of the institution. We've had a busy year with some really worthwhile projects. Whilst our respect in the university grows though, we continue to try and find our place in the development scene. As we've started this year, we will continue to try and push the limitations of our environment whilst declaring consistency and standards-based development.
I went to two conferences this year. At jQuery UK I had the chance to meet professionals from across the country and talk about how we're all approaching the same problems. The talks were all fascinating and consistently well delivered (you can read my write-up of the morning and afternoon sessions), but I think the greatest value came from talking to other delegates and getting a feel for the landscape outside our higher education bubble. I'll be going back to the conference—now renamed Render—this year.
I still continue to help run the quiz in the Dagda Bar every other Tuesday, and think I can now say I've now successfully transitioned from student quizzes to adult ones. The differences are obvious but notable. I've truly been made welcome there.
I went to three weddings this year, and have at least one more lined up for 2016. It's both exciting and terrifying watching people I've shared so many immature experiences with go through such a serious transition. But it's always nice to catch up with everyone. All the best to those couples and the ones who will tie the knot in the coming year.
I've done incredibly well for live music this year, starting with seeing Postmodern Jukebox in The Queen's Hall, a venue now just around the corner from my flat. Also locally, I recently saw the Scottish National Opera's production of Carmen in Festival Theatre. The SNO always put on a good show and they didn't disappoint this year either.
Further afield, I went to see Above and Beyond—one of my favourite bands—in Manchester in April. I met up with Ed and we had a great weekend of drinking, hanging out, and listening to music. Above and Beyond were excellent and the whole evening was super fun. It was the first time in a long time seeing an artist that I've really loved, and seeing someone with such international appeal, and definitely encouraged me to see more live music.
Following Manchester, I went to two music festivals. I volunteered at smaller Eden, which was a very relaxed and chilled out event. Eden had an incredible line-up and I wasn't disappointed by a single set. It also introduced me to a lot of bands that I've since really got into and am on the lookout to see again (Undercover Hippy has already been checked off the "see again" list; The Cat Empire is booked).
Kendal Calling was also great fun; though we weren't as lucky with the weather. Seeing Snoop Dogg in the Lake District was a unique experience and the rest of the line-up was, like Eden, full of great acts. My one misgiving with Kendal Calling was that its size made it difficult to schedule plans since acts I was interested in often conflicted, and the tastes were much more diverse (and not always to my liking).
Like music, I don't think I've ever managed to dedicate a section to "travel" in a previous year-in-review. But in 2015 I've been all over the world and it's totally punctuated the year. I'll list destinations from close-to-far.
I went to the Peebles Hydro hotel with Amy's family to celebrate her grandparents' wedding anniversary. It was a lovely weekend of variously socialising, exercising and dining. Peebles Hydro is a lovely place, and has a real Agatha Christie aesthetic to it.
In June I spent a week in Shetland with my parents and some family friends. We've been to Shetland before (and are going back next year), but it's an awesome place. Great walking, lovely people, and a very special atmosphere. We didn't go to the Northern isles this time so I couldn't continue my search for Britain's Most Northerly Sheep, but I had an excellent time walking the hills and dales (even if my flight was cancelled and I had to ferry back).
In April I spent a long weekend in Barcelona with Amy. I love the culture and atmosphere of Barcelona; it's a beautiful city full of amazing sites and wonderful people. I'm constantly impressed by how keen Spaniards are to let you speak Spanish, no matter how broken it is. As well as seeing some of the top attractions, like the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, we had a lovely time wandering the streets and finding the hidden treasures of the city.
Finally, I went to Mexico and Nicaragua for two weeks in December. I could write books about my time there, it was just incredible. Both are amazing countries steeped in fascinating history and full of diversions. We did so much in those two weeks that, looking back, I can't see how we fit it all in such a short time. I don't want to go too into the trip because I've spent the past two weeks detailing it to everyone I've met and could easily double the size of this post and this late a point. But I will say that if you're considering travelling to Central America then I highly recommend the area as a destination and specifically would recommend Nicaragua as a country that really offers a little bit of everything.
So 2015 has been completely rad. And whilst my dreams of producing something new weren't fulfilled, the music and travel have shown me totally new worlds of excitement. Plans for next year? For the first time since being a kid, I'll be writing up some resolutions to lead me forward in a future blog post.