Category Archives: web design

More Parties, Work Week and Running

Crow Link Coastline

Crow Link Coastline Low Tide

I was wondering when I thought about re-starting this blog whether I would have enough material to do a ‘weekly’ blog post summarising what i’d been up to.  The first two weeks have been busy!

This week started with a trip down to Eastbourne so I could ferry the parents to and from a couple of hospital appointments (to carry on a theme for last week!).  A tough time ahead for them unfortunately.  On the flip side, it meant that I was able to do a lot of work in peace and quiet and managed to crack on with some more J & J Air Systems CompAir and Bambi Air Compressor updates and of course Cater For You.

Whilst I was there, I also managed a couple of runs from their Friston base with the Downs and stunning countryside literally on their doorstep.  My Achilles recuperation is coming along well, I still have a bit of pain in the left one but it is definitely getting there.  Unfortunately, i’m still a long way from playing hockey which I miss dreadfully.  It is now almost two years since the right achilles went (tendinitis) with only a few months of fitness before the left one went in the Over 40’s final.  I’m targeting a return next season when Jamie is eligible to play and pootling around in the 5th XI with him and possibly the odd Over 40’s game this season if we are short (think that will be too soon though). I have been asked to try my hand at umpiring, but I’ve always been appalling when I’ve tried previously.

JJ Air Systems

JJ Air Systems Champion Air Compressors Photography

Once I returned on Wednesday afternoon, it was back to normal and a hectic work schedule.  Thursday was a catch up with J & J to plan some more developments and a quick pop into Cater For You to catch up on the comings and goings.  I’ve a backlog of about 20 products I have to put up on the site ASAP which i’d promised Jason (our fab purchasing manager) I would put on-line the previous week. Fortunately none of the products are Christmas products.  We also had the latest designs for our new site which is an evolution of the current web site but looking absolutely fabulous.  The timings seem to have slipped already which is a bit of a worry as we have the toughest development / integration bit still to come.  I’m still really pissed off about OGL / ProfitPlus API not being developed ready for our project, despite it almost being ready when they demo’d it at the start of September.  Then again, we cannot integrate our new VOIP phone system and they took many months to sort out MyHermes after disputing it was a major carrier! Anyway….

On Friday I had a series of meetings / catch ups with clients which I always enjoy, though you don’t actually manage to do any work! I started the day badly by going out in the rain for a short run and somehow managed to hit a lamp post with my shoulder – I was wearing hi vis so not sure how that happened… (idiot)… First up was the Community Centre where I was too early and hadn’t actually said I was going so went off to CSE where there was a chat about how to finish off their new CSE UK web site.  This has been in progress for way too long and this was to try and get it over the line and operating as was originally intended.  Good to be back at CSE as they have a great Marketing chap working there now meaning I’ve not had to do any work there for many months.  I started working with John in 2001 and he is also my C4U business partner – I thoroughly enjoy working with him.  He also bought me fish and chips for lunch, what’s not to like!

After CSE / Wooburn Green, I popped over to Fastbreak Sports in Chesham where they were having an email order confirmation problem. Turns out it was an issue from me moving one of their domains over to my new hosting company 20i from Fasthosts.  This is proving an immense project trying to migrate over 200 domains and hosting and I’ve not started on the trickier ones yet.  20i has been a revelation of customer service and also price point – I guess things might change as they get larger (I hope not).  Once Fastbreak was sorted, I caught up with someone else in Chesham to talk about moving forward with a brand new business – I’ve registered http://www.tradekitchensuk.com/ and will put some holding information up for them soon to get it propagating.

Once these series of meetings had finished, it was a quick change and off out to the Cater For You Christmas dinner at Taplow House Hotel.  The team has worked tremendously hard again this year, and I know they were all looking forward to being there.  We had partners along again this year and we numbered a total of 28 people, a record.  We’ve added three more people to the team in the last year. The meal was very good, the venue was very impressive, though I didn’t get to mingle as much as I could of done.  My impromptu speech in the bar at Midnight could have been a lot better too!  I did particularly enjoy catching up with a lot of the team, a highlight was with Sue and Partner Steve.  I’ve been working with Sue since 1992, she is an inspiration to me and just a brilliant person as well as pure silk on the phone when chatting to our customers.

Philips Wood Trail Running

Philips Wood Trail Running with Molly

Peppers from the Greenhouse

Peppers from the Greenhouse

Saturday morning was a late start, but I did take Molly out for a 10k jaunt over to Chorleywood and back.  Like my parents, we are very lucky being so close to the stunning Chiltern’s countryside though HS2 is re-starting in earnest at the back of us.  The run was a bit muddy as they’ve been doing tree work in Philips Wood but Molly and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  There are also some sheep on the way which Molly enjoys seeing, fortunately they are well fenced in to keep Molly out. I also attended to the greenhouse where absurdly I still have peppers and chillis growing.  I was hoping to have it all cleaned and empty by now ready for the start of a new growing season in February.

Saturday evening was a night out I was particularly looking forward to, a few beers with some old Robertswood Dad’s to catch up on a few months. Just very chilled and relaxing in the Merlins Cave Chalfont St Giles.  I think that is my favourite pub at the moment.  Such a shame they’ve closed my old second home the Waggon and Horses in Chalfont St Peter, but it had gone downhill in recent times with some poor landlords and Greene King just wanting to cash in on the property value rather than manage it properly.  The Dumb Bell has had some investment into it over the last year, but I just don’t seem to have the urge to pop in there as much.

Sunday didn’t stop either.  When I finally got out of bed after watching some dispiriting politics programmes about Brexit, I got to work on the garden and clearing up the leaves.  The oak tree has finally shed its last leaf and so I could get to work.  I managed to fill our green bin and four recycling bins with leaves before having to just push them to the edges ready for when the composting has started and the next empty green bin.  I need to do a lot more work on the garden and hope to put a bird friendly new hedge in down one side as soon as spring starts springing.

Next off we’d been invited to Milton’s Cottage for John Milton’s 410th birthday party.  I have been working on their web site on and off since around 2002 through Sarah’s Dad who was Chairman of the Trustees for many years from the 80’s to the 2000’s (I think).  We happened to randomly bump into a few hockey faces too but it was particularly heart warming listening to fond stories of what Philip did for the cottage over many years.  The current trustees though are a world away from that era and have done an astonishing job to secure the future for generations to come.

To round off the week, the road had a festive get together at one of the houses who were overwhelmingly generous with their hospitality.  It is great getting together with everyone, we are very lucky having such a close community in the road and though we were late it was fun catching up with everyone.

I always thought I was fairly busy, and another week recounting what I’ve been up to kind of confirms that!  The week coming up is no different.

Christmas Parties and Work

PET Cake BoxesIt has been another very busy week since the last blog post and the upgrades to our data networking around the house,  On the work front I have been continuing to do some preparation for the new Cater For You web site.  With the help of SellerDeck, I finally managed to extract all of the data out in spreadsheet format to see what needs to be updated.  I thought I / we’d been thorough when adding new products – something that I think differentiates us from our competitors who just put the basics supplied by manufacturers and why we are near the top of the Google rankings… but I was wrong.  So that means I’ve a huge amount of measuring, weighing and photographing to do before February.  Unfortunately OGL who supply our finance system ProfitItplus have been incredibly unhelpful in finishing their API for data exchange, but fortunately we have a fall back option and everything is still on track for February.

We have a number of new products that I’ve been very slowly adding to the site – there is a great range of new PET cake boxes (photo above) ready to go up as soon as I’ve finished preparing the photographs I took last week. It is currently one of our peak times at C4U so I also spent a few hours in the warehouse putting stock away whilst the rest of the team were coping with the landslide of orders.  The seasonality of the business has always struck me as slightly bonkers and impossible to have the right resources available for all areas, but there is not a lot we can do about it.  Only a few more weeks and then it is low season until Easter next year (hence why we do our major projects between now and then!) and all our mince pie boxes are tucked away for another year.

I’ve also been doing a fair amount of work on the new J & J Air Systems web site where we’ve doubled the traffic since its relaunch, along with the enquires. In addition to the CodePath tool I bought for the SellerDeck extraction above, I also renewed my subscription to Screaming Frog SEO tool, I did a blog post on my Chalfont Web Design to cover that. Some good news on this front was that I had a successful ballot application for a ticket to BrightonSEO in April 2019.  Love going there and absorbing the best techniques and what is coming up in the future, it really is insightful.  We still also use the services of a dedicated SEO company for Cater For You for the really technical areas, but there is so much that most web sites can do easily to improve their rankings relatively easily.

Amersham Hospital ParkingI popped into Amersham hospital this week to have a blood test to check up on my Psoriatic Arthritis numbers and was staggered how busy it was and how much it cost.  For the first 30 minutes it is free, but after that it was £3.50 for the next 2 1/2 hours.  I would have preferred to use Chalfont St Peter hospital as it is local and free parking, but unfortunately, a few years ago they scrapped the queuing system and they outsourced the booking of appointments, where the telephone line is open for 3 hours and it is normally engaged.  Surely that outsourcing cost would have been better employed paying the phlebotomist for another hour a day rather than a third party telephone service – it is almost like the local health authority are trying to make it difficult to be used and maybe close it due to under use.  Saying all that, I was lucky to get a space at Amersham, the queue as I left (two 1/2 hours later) was almost back to the main road.

CSE Bowling and Curry night out

So after a busy week, it was a busy weekend.  I was very lucky to be invited by a couple of my customers to Christmas do’s on Friday and Saturday.  The Friday was a pleasant evening out with the CSE Distributors team in High Wycombe bowling and then a great curry in the Chutney.  It has been ages since I went bowling and enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed spending some time with the CSE team too as I’ve not seen them for a while since they employed an excellent full time marketing person.

Saturday evening I was out with the fabulous Trading Depot team who have worked tremendously hard this year to keep up with the growth in the business.  It was a great night out at Windsor Race Course and parties organised by Best Parties Ever with acrobats, good food and decent disco afterwards.  The facilities were top notch, though not sure my Dad dancing was…

Spring Weather

Picnic in the Spring
At last, the freezing cold winter seems to be passing, and spring is springing. A beautiful day on Sunday, so Rebecca decided that we were having a picnic outside – which was an excellent idea – I promise I wasn’t as grumpy as I look in the photo.

We were also celebrating as Rebecca had achieved a level 2 swimming certificate and moved up a class and James was very pleased to have spent a second week at Junior hockey training – Rebecca also went before swimming and enjoyed it.

As you can see, I completed the move of my greenhouse to a sunnier spot on the decking, though Sarah has ‘mentioned’ that it now blocks the view of the field from the kitchen but it is ready for spring planting (though I should have started already). I’ve also completely dug over the veg patch ready – I think I’m way ahead of schedule for once. The lawn is going to be scarified next weekend. Unfortunately the carrots I planted before Christmas received some extra close attention from R & J and are half the number now…

Still playing hockey, though frustratingly I haven’t scored for a couple of weeks, any my groin injury is getting worse – just two games left to the end of the season thank goodness.

Work has been extremely busy, but at least I’ve found a new warehouse – twice the size of the current one and higher. Web design has also been very busy especially as I’m still learning how to bespoke Actinic V9 with CSS. Launched a couple of new web sites too as well as maintaining existing customers. Things aren’t helped by the fact I’m going to have to move all my customers blog’s to a new blogging system as blogger.com is stopping FTP – I’ve moved one already to a blog spot but that isn’t the best solution for SEO and smooth integration on one web site.

Two Parties, The Beach all in all excellent

I had an excellent weekend last weekend. I played snooker with martin and charlie on the friday night – and I won which was even better. Then straight down to Eastbourne on Saturday morning for Harry’s birthday party at 11 – not so great I think i was caught with a mobile camera on the A23 just past Gatwick.

The party was great and we stayed there until Sunday lunchtime – we also went to the beach which R & J love doing – though it was bitingly cold.

Eastbourne Beach

Then back for Eve’s party on Sunday afternoon – they were pretty tired by the end of that though as can be seen here where they are content to look after Anna. It wasn’t the best nights sleep ever though either.

Eve's Party

The week has flown by – i’ve been covering Cater For You this week – its been enjoyable though getting back involved in the day to day business again – and its so much busier than this time last year. But i’ve been balancing that with my other work as well – did over 12 hours yesterday. The largest amount of work I can talk about is I’ve almost completed a brand new section on CK Tools on the CSE Buy online web site. I think that’ll be a rather good seller – i fancy some of the kit myself!

Still feel ok today – but next week i guess i’ll be paying!!

I’ve had loads of web site enquiries recently as well which has been a bit odd – they tend to come in flurrys though.

Playing hockey again this weekend – though not particularly looking forward to it – High Wycombe – and i’ve a hacking cough still – had it for three weeks. Might also be playing on the Sunday as well…. maybe.

Open Spaces, Car radio, weekend

Went to my last open spaces meeting on Monday. I’m still a bit disappointed I haven’t enough time to carry on as I do enjoy it. At the meeting we talked about the haywardens being asked to mow the St Joseph’s grounds (at a commercial rate), the play equipment and the fact that a group of parents want to try and do something about the Gold Hill play area (they were taken aback apparently when told the cost of new equipment!).

Sarah’s Dad is doing well at the moment. He had his operation on Monday and was brought round yesterday and was in good spirits last night – Sarah has been going up each night to London to visit him – so we are all very pleased about that.

I bought a new car stereo last week as I haven’t been able to receive FM since I bought the car – and it has a DAB radio in it. Its the first time I’ve heard one – and I was looking forward to the constant crackle free quality of DAB radio. Obviously I haven’t read the manual yet, but all it does if flick between DAB and FM if the signal isn’t strong enough – and it is really annoying. At least I can sort of listen to the radio now anyway.

Rebecca and James are doing very well at the moment. James is now able to walk severeal steps at a time – last night we watched him walk half way across the play room – with open mouths!! It is his birthday this Easter Weekend so that will be good – though obviously the family get together will have to be postponed for a couple of months. I am sure as well that when he is asking for sarah he is saying mumma, and dadda for me – before I just thought it was conincidence but this morning he said it differently each time he went to one of us… Rebecca’s conversation is now very good. She has a few spots on her at the moment and we were wondering if she has chicken pox but there doesn’t seem to be enough. Anyway, we are looking forward to spending a long weekend with them this weekend – no plans as yet though my knees are both on their way down after a bad end to last week and start to this..

Here is James taking his life in his hands playing with Popeye:

The Google update has happened as predicted – though it doesn’t appear to have fed through to the .uk results yet – and my web sites have done pretty well – Cater For You is back at number one for just about every search term again – a busy summer coming up. We’ve just increased the warehouse space to cope as well and looking to take another person on.

Fasthosts floored by Telewest cable cut | The Register

Ah ha, this will be why Fasthosts went down yesterday then. One of my customers said they were down the previous sunday as well.

I didn’t also know they had been bought out by a German company. I hope they don’t go the same way as most of the other bought out Internet companies eg Demon etc