My own personal code retreat

My blog has been rather quiet lately with my intention of putting one or two posts per week falling completely short – if you’ve been following my fubuMVC series you will have noticed it hasn’t gone anywhere lately (but I plan to pick it up again very soon).

The reason is simply that times have been tough lately – I had my contract terminated (and the London market is very, very quiet for work at the moment) and at this same time, sadly my father died.

Coping with the contract and work search is fairly easy, the nature of contracting sometimes means that I may be out of work in quiet periods. However coping with the death of my father has been a challenge.

Losing someone close is hard, much harder than I ever anticipated. A constant that has been there for your entire life is suddenly removed and it has been very difficult - from assisting with the arrangement of the funeral, to giving a speech in front of his loved ones it has certainly been a strain. All the while I’ve been ensuring that my two older children (of three) feel that although we are all sad (and it’s OK to be sad), their life continues to be valued and has continued support.
The hardest part has been just simply waking up in a positive frame of mind – I’ve found it almost impossible at times.

What all of this has done for me is to make me question what is truly important, whether everything I do has value and what can I do to ensure any regrets I have can move my life in positive directions.
Having time off has thankfully given me valuable and quality time with my family and my new daughter – travelling to London and back every day for a total of four hours certainly wasn’t conducive to this in the past.

One of the things I’ve obviously therefore questioned is what I do for a living – should I continue to develop? do I really love it that much that I should be from my family for a large proportion of the week? what do I want to do going forward?

After some reflection I can say that I do like being a developer. There is something about this profession that does enable you to push and find real value in yourself and in what you do. I love using C# and consider myself an expert in the language, something that I am very proud of especially because it is entirely self taught.
My father used to help me program adventure games into our ZX Spectrum when I was in my very early years and although I never studied computers or programming at university its not by chance that my work life moved from a humble dry cleaners and morphed into learning a fantastic language and development platform – it’s something that I obviously always wanted to do.

From this reflection, I also have the desire to make the name of this blog ring true – “being new”. I do always ensure that I learn new things and I want to truly continue to find personal improvement, but this time push more and find it outside of my comfort zone.

With that I’m doing my own personal code retreat to tie in with the Global day of code retreat that happens this Saturday 3rd December 2011.
I’m planning to start some programming again by trying different ways to do the Conway Game of life and see what I can learn. I obviously won’t be doing the pair programming bit and losing what seems to be the essential value from the code retreat, but I do plan to try and push myself and learn some new things.

I want to share anything valuable on this blog, and am surprisingly a bit nervous about putting myself out there or committing to a new series of posts - but if it doesn’t go anywhere I’m sure anyone reading this will forgive me.

I want to also take this opportunity to say thank you to my wife who has been very supportive and has had to put up with the private fall out and general disagreeable side of my personality while I’m away from the kids and everyone else. I just hope I’m as loving and supportive of her when she needs me most.


  1. Anonymous November 29, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Sorry to hear about your loss Justin - keep blogging I do enjoy reading your articles all the way from Australia. All the best of you and your family. Chris McKelt :)

  2. Justin Davies December 2, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Thank you very much for your kind words Chris. Great to hear my articles are enjoyable!
    All the best for you and yours in Australia too, hope life is good.

  3. Neil Mosafi December 15, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Sorry for your loss mate. Good luck with everything. See you soon!