2023 in review

· 6 min read

2023 kicked me firmly in the face. The highs were high. The lows were low. I learnt a lot about myself and my perseverance while traversing the unknown. I write these reviews just as much for myself as well as anyone who wants to read them. They’re an excellent opportunity to reflect on the events of a year and how I carry their lessons into the next one.

Travel (continued)

As I opened with last year, travel changes you. And last year was no different. I managed to revisit some locations that mean a lot to me. At the start of the year, I returned to Berlin to celebrate an old friend getting married. Few cities manage to anchor their identity to music like Berlin does, and I enjoyed so much good music throughout the weekend. Later in the year, I made it to Houghton Festival with my good friend Marcus. It’s the best music programming I’ve heard at a festival; every stage had us hooked as we walked around the site. Me and Ailsa also made it to Alexandra Palace to see Four Tet collaborate with Squid Soup. It was an incredible light and spatial audio installation that really inspired me.

I made it back to the venue me and Ailsa got married at five years ago, a somewhat nostalgic trip that reminded us how fortunate we were to tie the knot at such a beautiful place. Italian hospitality never fails.

Last year, I set myself the target of running the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris, which I completed in a time I was thrilled with. My health last year was prioritised more than the previous, and I feel strong and capable in my fitness ability for the first time.

Following the marathon, we went to Bordeaux, which was the perfect end to our trip. We explored the local markets, went to a music festival and generally just caught up with close friends. We couldn’t leave France without heading to Buvette, either.

The Big Project ™

I had a decision to make last year. I’ve been running my consultancy business for 14 years and love every second of it. The challenge with consultancy work is that if you’re craving to get stuck into more significant, longer-term projects, it’s hard to do so when moving between clients. After some discussions with various companies, I landed a CTO role at Glean to help them grow the company and expand on their offering.

I’m six months into that role now, and I have absolutely no regrets about joining the team at Glean. The culture is unique; people genuinely care about each other and support growth and learning like I’ve never experienced at a company before. It’s pretty special, and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

An unexpected journey

Trigger warning: Baby loss.

In January, we found out we were expecting, just as I was about to board a plane to Berlin! We were buzzing as we’d lost a baby towards the end of 2022 as a result of early pregnancy loss. Sadly, at our next scan, we found out we’d lost yet another baby. The six months following this were probably the worst of our lives as we dealt with further complications of the miscarriage. I cannot fault the staff who helped us through this period, but it highlighted underfunding and inefficiencies in getting support when you’re really going through it.

Being a man in this situation leaves you feeling utterly helpless. One day, I’ll try to articulate this in more detail, as I want to provide a resource for others going through it to know they’re not alone. You can support your partner as much as possible as you go through the motions of dealing with a miscarriage, but you lack the ability to deal with any of the physical realities of it. I learnt that my wife has more physical and emotional strength than a large army, and just when I didn’t think my admiration for her couldn’t grow any more, it did.

Everyone’s experience of this situation differs, but you must know that time does heal, and you pick yourself up. You have to face reality, talk to each other about it, and work together to support a whole spectrum of emotions surrounding it. We start this year with our third pregnancy, and our baby is due to land in May! A reminder that the hope eventually pays off. If you are unlucky enough to experience anything like this and want someone to talk to, this is your invitation.

In true comedic style, chaos always comes in twos or threes. As we were going through our loss, we were undergoing a house renovation. Our newly renovated kitchen was leaking due to scaffolding issues, and a worker fell through our bathroom ceiling. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

Learning from running conferences

I had a great year heading to support some fantastic UK-based conferences. They are a chance to see some brilliant speakers and a place to connect with other organisers and learn how we can better help each other. I made it to Pixel Pioneers, WDC and ffconf last year, all of which were excellent. I love seeing different organiser personalities making their way into events, all the lovely little details that show how much they care about their community.

It was another successful year for All Day Hey!, too. Due to the personal challenges I mentioned above, I appreciated the team around me more than ever. Phil, James and Jack all stepped up to support. This, along with detailed documentation of how the day runs and who’s accountable for what means that the conference can now scale and operate without me being deeply involved (not that I’d ever want to step away from it). It’s handy to know, though, with Ailsa’s due date being the day before the conference this year!

And so we enter the year our first child will be born, and we get to meet the little man in a few months! I have many goals and aspirations this year, but growing our family and making the most of that time together is firmly at the top of that list. So let’s be having you, 2024!