Quick cider reviews

As I’ve been gluten-free since late 2014, I’ve had to stop drinking most types of beer. Instead, I’ve sampled a variety of other drinks. The easiest thing to buy in a bar or pub is cider, as most don’t stock gluten-free beer, which has meant I’ve also had a lot of cider given to me as gifts. I don’t drink at home very often, so today I thought I’d sample everything I’ve got to see what I do and don’t like. I’m blogging about it as otherwise I’ll forget what I thought of the drinks!

Anyway, here goes.

(NOTE: in case any of these aren’t gluten-free, I’ll add a disclaimer here. Check before you drink!)

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Happy New Year! – and how to make sensible resolutions

Happy New Year!

The beginning of a fresh new year prompts some of us to consider setting resolutions for the year ahead. Problem is, these resolutions can be unrealistic, and won’t last beyond the first few weeks of the year.

I find that it’s better to set objectives at various points through the year – not just at the start of the year. In the past I’ve had the view that resolutions are a waste of time – but as someone who’s fascinated by numbers and dates (a topic for another day if ever there was one), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a buzz out of starting something new on January 1st.

Below are a few tips to help with setting decent resolutions that you’ll hopefully stick to.

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Visiting Brighton – and moving back to London

Today, we spent a few hours in Brighton. It was a bit foggy, but the fog lifted within an hour or so.


We’ve lived in Haywards Heath for just over 3 years. It’s a 15-20 minute train journey from Brighton. In early January, we’re moving to London.

The ongoing problems with Southern Rail have made commuting a nightmare. It seems that poor service is the norm, but the last eight months have been particularly painful. I can’t see an end in sight. It’s a shame, as we like living here, and we stood a chance of being able to afford to buy a house – the reason we moved here in the first place. I guess it’s just as well that hasn’t happened yet, as it’s a lot easier to move when you’re renting.

While I’m looking forward to the move, not least because my commute will be shorter, it feels like we’ve been forced into it somewhat. I’ve been fortunate to work for companies who are very accepting of the travel issues – but it’s down to me to determine if living here is worth the commuting woes. Sadly, it just doesn’t stack up anymore.

At this stage, I can’t see how any commute into London on a Southern-operated train is reliable. So, we’re moving.

As the house move is imminent, today seemed like a good opportunity to visit Brighton while it’s still practically on our doorstep.

Maybe someday, we’ll be back. For now, it’s farewell to Haywards Heath, and hello to Richmond (again).

Happy 2017!

A Southern Rail nightmare: my story

After a particularly bad day on the trains, I felt compelled to share my story and ongoing woes with Southern Rail.

Generally speaking, I’m one of the luckier commuters. Whenever there’s trouble on my route, I usually miss it. Sometimes an issue affects a train that’s one or two timetable slots after mine – or mine is the last good train for a while. Sometimes I can get a different train with minimal disruption to my commute. Very occasionally, train problems occur on a night when I’m out with a friend – so when it’s time to go home, things are nowhere near as bad as they were during the evening rush hour.

However, every problem has a knock-on effect – even if I’m often lucky with how things line up. Delays add up. And I’m already choosing my trains purely based on which ones I expect will cause the least amount of pain – rather than the ones that would get me to and from work for my normal working hours.

First, let me tell you about my typical daily commute.

Continue reading “A Southern Rail nightmare: my story”

A week of back trouble

A few weeks ago, I woke up and felt a slight twinge in my back. It felt awkward and very slightly painful, but I put it down to sleeping “a bit funny” as it wasn’t all that bad.

Over the next couple of weeks, the pain didn’t go away. It stayed pretty much the same, never fully rearing its painful head (or back), but somehow, perpetually, just “there”.

Last Monday, it got a bit worse. I phoned the doctor in the afternoon – they said to phone back in the morning. On Tuesday I started noticing quite a bit of pain if I turned, stood up, or sat down a bit too quickly. I arranged an appointment with the doctor that afternoon.

The doctor suggested it was most likely muscular pain, and recommended taking ibuprofen three times a day for the next two weeks. Tuesday night was rough – I woke up at 3:30am in a lot of pain. As I’d taken the first painkillers at 6:30pm the night before, they’d probably worn off by this point.

I stayed home on Wednesday and Thursday, attempting to work from home – although it was tough. I could hardly move without being in pain. I came up with an idea for a makeshift standing desk – basically a small table on my regular desk. Luckily the table wasn’t too heavy, but I had to be careful lifting it. That got me through Wednesday. After that, I had a bit more luck sitting at my desk. I’d previously booked a day off on Friday, so was able to rest that day then through this weekend.

For those of us lucky enough to not deal with pain or physical difficulties on a daily basis, I quickly realised how much we do each day that uses your back. Things become a lot more difficult due to back pain or an injury. Showering, getting dressed, going up or down the stairs were all particularly tricky. Putting on socks – normally such a simple task – became something of a mission impossible.

I also noticed just how much we rely on computers. As I usually spend a lot of time talking to people in the office or on the phone, being at home is not ideal. I was able to schedule in a couple of phone calls while I was at home, but for the most part I was communicating via email and Skype IM. Cue lots of typing – and while the makeshift standing desk helped, I soon got backache from standing up for too long.

Thankfully, I’m mostly better now, but I’ll need to be more careful in future. Monday is my first commute in nearly a week – I’ll see how that goes…

12 Facebook pages I follow

There are so many sites , it’s hard to keep up with them all. But I like to know what’s going on – so which are the sites I try to keep up with for tech news, business tips and a bit of general interest?

(I use Facebook as my main news reader, which works better if you try my Facebook News Feed guide.)

  1. Ars Technica
  2. Re/code
  3. WIRED
  4. Inc. Magazine
  5. Kissmetrics
  6. The Register
  7. The Next Web
  8. VentureBeat
  9. Mashable – Tech
  10. Lifehacker
  11. NiemanLab
  12. Search Engine Land