I think of myself as a lifelong learner.

This often comes as a surprise, given that I failed a bunch of O-levels, had to retake my A-levels and failed my first degree. Twice.

I got better as I got older though, and have a Masters Degree in European Studies. Notionally that includes AS-level German, but I wouldn’t put it to the test. Also, a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Communications.

Professionally I’m a Chartered PR Practitioner and a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (it’s a lot easier just to say ‘Chartered Librarian’, though not strictly true).

Web sites

I’ve been writing web content (and building websites, often from scratch) since 1994. Sometimes by hand, but these days more usually with a content management system or WordPress. In my spare time I’ve built sites for places I’ve been volunteering with (Huddersfield Air Cadets and the late, lamented Leeds Carnegie Ladies FC).

Baked Beauties

Image: Baked Beauties website.
Baked Beauties site home page.

This is a small, home-based baking company run by my sister and a friend of hers. I host and built their web site – it was revised at the end of 2016 and now uses a free, responsive, mobile-friendly template which I adapted for their needs.

They can then add new cakes as and when. Jetpack from WordPress is also installed to help with social sharing and related posts (cakes).

Don’t tell her I said so, but she’s quite talented in the cake-baking department.

Random things with Google Maps

Image: Google map of rail stations
Zoomed-in detail for Marsden Rail Station.

When I was working on the Rail North / franchising stuff, I couldn’t quite visualise the extent of the two franchises, so I plotted the stations on a Google Map.

Then I decided to do it ‘properly’, and pulled together lots of freely-available data into one MySQL database. One table holds the station information, a second holds patronage data for the last decade or so, and a third holds the political data. A .php file joins them together to produce a .kml file, which I zip up into a .kmz file and upload to my web space.

That allows me to keep my hand in with Excel, php, MySQL and Google Maps.

Leisure time

Yes, I do go out once in a while, and sometimes I enjoy myself. It largely depends on who I’m with.

Family tree

I’ve been doing research into my family tree since 2004. This used to involve spending a (Satur)day looking up births, marriages and deaths in the India Office collection held in the Asia, Africa and Oriental Collection Reading Room at The British Library at St Pancras, but now ‘just’ involves searching the on-line database.

Other, other things

I’m a Leeds United fan – 15 seasons as a season ticket holder, up to the year that we escaped from the Third Division and got priced out. Also a follower of Borussia Dortmund and the former Leeds United / Leeds Carnegie Ladies players.

I’ll listen to anything once, but not so keen on modern stuff. Anything from last century is fine, which probably explains why I listen to BBC Radio 2 so much. You can’t beat a bit of Trevor Nelson or Clare Teal. And Nemone’s Electric Ladyland on BBC 6 Music, just to be different.

I love cooking. Or trying to cook. It’s very relaxing and therapeutic (see also the Radio 2 listening and James May The Reassembler). But, cooking for one is difficult unless you halve the recipes, then freeze half of what you cook. I used to bake as well, which meant I have lots of goodies to share at work or with family and friends. I don’t bake these days owing to now being a Type II diabetic (and not having any work colleagues to test my baking on).

Never got the hang of omelettes though. I’ll never be as good a baker as my sister and I’ll never be as good a cook as my friend Christina Soong, aka The Hungry Australian, but that won’t stop me.

Drink? If you insist. The best alcoholic drink invented is the Zombie. Light rum, dark rum, golden rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and ice. The worst alcoholic drink is anything with spiced rum and coconut. Or any foodstuff with coconut.

And I do a bit of writing, which is also very therapeutic (but not always as relaxing). Go have a look.