8th January 2017

2016 – A year in Amsterdam (..Well almost)

2016 is over so its about time for one of those reflection type posts where I go over some of the things I did in 2016 and have a little look forward to the things I am excited about in 2017.

New Job, New Country, New Flat

2016 started off in London (not Amsterdam – yes the title was misleading) with me slowly working around my friends letting them know I was emigrating. This didn’t go well with some of my closest friends – they claimed I ruined NYE…Sorry about that. It wasn’t a surprise for the peoples at work though as they pretty much figured it out before we left for Christmas.

February saw me pack up my stuff and drive to the Netherlands where I moved in with a retired American Attorney (Lawyer – for British readers) who was getting a divorce. She had caught weil’s disease 20 years ago and was forced to give up her career so she moved to the Netherlands via Greece. She ‘suffers’ with electromagnetic sensitivity (AKA the WIFI gives me headaches – the scientific community are still out on this one) which meant turning of the internet at night.  She also had 2 diabetic cats in case things ever got boring. She was a nice person and the room was warm n dry which is what I needed.

I left London, I also left corporate life behind too and took up a junior role at Your Majesty (heres the Press Release) – a small agency you might not have heard about (we are working on that) – working on large projects with McDonalds Netherlands, Samsung Smartthings and adidas to name a few. Since day one its been abit of a rollercoaster ride where I’m usually well out of my depth, which is a good thing apparently. But it hasn’t been easy – theres been multiple times where I’ve simply wanted to find a quiet corner and cry.

That being said, I have grown enormously on all aspects of my technological skillset. This has only been possible thanks to the help of my close colleague (and senior developer) Hugo. This guy endures 4000 silly questions daily and managed not to shout n scream when I destroyed the Volkshotel site while fiddling with Git. He is in the process of teaching me to being more pragmatic with the code I write and way I approach problems. In return he gets the odd digestive biscuit, my undying gratitude and maybe a mention in my memoirs.

Amsterdam is stunningly beautiful when the sun shines

YMala

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Your Majesty yearly outing. This year it was Malaga. We had a whale of a time. I somehow got roped into driving – I was one of the few people in the office with a driving licence. No one died. We had this huge mansion in the hills just outside of Malaga and the weather was brilliant. When we weren’t in or around the pool, we were out exploring the city, sea kayaking at the beach or singing the night way (Karaoke content is not safe for the internet I’m afraid). It was a great little holiday.

Meetups & Conferences

2016 was a good year for meetups and conferences. I was a little sad to leave behind the London Web Performance meetup which I loved and the people I had met there but I quickly dived into the dutch meetup scene. In May I went to Codemotion [Cod Emotion], a 2 day conference held over in the Kromhouthal to see a wide range of talks from Microservices to failing at devops. In June the YM dev team went to the Progressive Web App Developer summit that was held in Amsterdam for a day of interesting talks by many of the Google team on the newest web technologies. In October I returned to the Re:develop 2016 conference, held for the first time in the BIC.

Nights Out

I’ve had quire a few great nights in Amsterdam this year. Two stand out nights were Midsummer and Museumnacht. In the middle of June we celebrated Midsummer at Hotel Casa (one of our clients). In involved making a reef out of flowers and wearing it for the duration of the night – as you can see, mine turned into a monster, requiring scaffolding to remain on my head. We spent the evening being wined and dined on the company account which is pretty dangerous. Once the festivities finished a few of us slipped off to Bitterzout where we partied the night way to the some sick hip hop beats.

Museumnacht is a night where all of the museums in Amsterdam stay open extra late and each throw little parties. Buy a wristband and you’re invited to all of them. Theres a massive array of things to go n see but you can also use it as an excuse to casually wonder around the museums with a beer, similar you’d normally do in the daytime. We started at the Van Gough museum, then then headed over to Foam (a photography museum/exhibit), going via the modern art museum (which was really weird). Later in the night we made our way to Hortus, which was hosting a chocolate themed party with chocolate beer, chocolate mojito’s and apparently chocolate food. Sadly, by the time we arrived, most of the chocolate things were gone but I did manage to grab a chocolate covered cricket. Abit chewy. We ended the night at Nemo, a place full of science experiences (and usually kids too) but tonight full of tipsy adults trying to make a bubble bigger than them. It was a fun night.

Kayaking

Before I moved to the Netherlands I decided I would take up Kayaking properly having done in once or twice during my childhood. With all of the water, kayaking is the best way of experiencing Amsterdam and the Netherlands. I enrolled at my local club, did the beginners course and I was hooked. It started off with every Saturday, which quickly grew to be Wednesday and Saturdays before being Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer. It culminated in a 63km round trip for a camping weekend on an island near Vinkeveen. It was a great weekend, the weather was stunning, I had an ice lolly in my kayak and we saw some stunning scenery. I was totally exhausted by the time I got back not having enough energy to go for a swim. I’m hoping to better this in 2017.

KVZeeburg September camping trip – Heres the route we took, spread over 2 days

Plans for 2017

In 2017 I am going to continue to kayak. Now I’ve got my KVA I can kayak on my own and plan to take full advantage of this during the summer months. I’d also like to start to compete this year in the run up to the dutch championships in September. I want to continue to push myself and become a better programmer, adding more structure to my code, building confidence and creating more side projects to showcase my skillset.

I am also hosting the DigitalOcean Amsterdam meetup. I’ve got January through March events planned already and will be looking to run monthly meetups throughout the year. This is a little out of my comfort zone but I’ve been amazed by the willingness of people to talk so it should be fun to organise.

I’d also like to see more of Amsterdam and the Netherlands.