Fun learning activities at home

My super clever girlfriend who has over 18 years experience of teaching reception class children in the UK has been putting together a series of fun learning activities that help with learning phonics.

The activities have certainly helped keep our children entertained over the cold and wet winter weekends.

Take a wander over to The Happy Learner and check them out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On being kind to ourselves

Why do we find it so hard to be kind to ourselves? Especially us who are in charge of our own time.

I am out of shape, probably stressed, and over working.

I am in charge of my own time.

I could decide to take 2 hours of in the morning.

Or shift my day so I take each morning off and do a little in the evening.

A morning bike ride along the coast each day would be a great way to start the day.

Stress and weight reducing.

And yet I don’t.

Spend 30 mins lifting weights in the garage before walking to work.

I know it would be good for me. But I cannot do it.

The biggest reason seems to be a feeling of guilt.

I would feel guilty doing something ‘pleasurable’, while my partner is looking after 3 small children.

And guilt while colleagues are working if I am peddling on my bike.

I’ve started making a small change that have made a big difference. Trying to go into work after 5 hours sleep is painful. If we have a bad night with the children I will catch up on a couple of hours sleep before heading into work.

This sometimes means I am not at the office until midday. But I can get a lot more done when fully rested in 4 hours, than an 8 hour day when I’m shattered.

My next move needs to be exercising in the morning when I’ve had a good nights sleep. Rather than the default of trying to head into work as soon as possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life is full of contradictions

My life is full of me contradicting myself. Depending on the day, I might want this – and tomorrow I might want that.

The problem is it’s not about what breakfast cereal to eat – I wish it were that simple.

Should I focus on a lifestyle business – or shoot for the stars and try and build the next Tesla.

Do I want to be a solo-preneur – or build a fun and well executing team.

One day I want to be a multimillionaire and own houses across the world – tomorrow I want to become a minimalist and figure out what’s the smallest we need each month as a family to get by.

To be fair – all I wanted to do today was to curl up in bed and read my book. May be I should have just done that.

I want to start an adventure such as going on a cycling expedition – whereas in reality I hardly have the energy to get out of bed.

The questions are often “what I want” versus “what I potentially could be doing”. What I’m scared of is wasting my life. Sure a life style business is nice, but what about if I get to the end of my life and I feel I haven’t achieved what could have been?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Website for teaching golf professionals – March Update

As I announced on the last episode of the Britstrapped is back on the go, and this time as a SaaS¬†company to teaching golf professionals. Back when we started the podcast in December 2014 this was my original idea – but I approached it with the wrong tech. While WordPress is great – I realize now it is the wrong platform for offering teaching golf professionals a web site, online calendar, booking system and CRM. Back then I was only going to be offering them the web site too – but setting up and managing 10’s of 100’s of WordPress sites didn’t really float my boat! This time I am building my own templated web site offering using ASP.NET MVC which is where my skill set lies.

As well as the tech learning from the original failed idea, I have spent the last 9 months working on Gareth Johnston Golf’s web site and social profiles. So I have learnt a lot more about the golf teaching business and the way software can help people run their teaching businesses better.

So it feels weird coming back to an idea I kicked into touch 9 or so months ago – but I feel in a much better place to attack it now. I’m also going to post monthly updates here so people can keep track of how things are going…

The targets for this month were:
1, Build a basic admin backend for managing sites
2, Build the CMS around a Bootstrap template
3, Get Alex and Lewis’s sites up and running
4, Get a marketing holding page up

The good news is I managed to get all this done! You can check out Alex and Lewis’s sites here:
Alex Lodge Golf
Lewis Bird Golf

The marketing holding page really is basic ( – but it ticks the box, and gives me something to work on in April.

So April’s goals are:
– get blog functionality on the golfers sites, and on the marketing site
– put together a whitepaper on golf pro’s using a particular social network to generate leads
– get 5 paying customers

5 paying customers is going to be tough ūüôā

Posted in bootstrapping, SaaS | Leave a comment

iPhone 6s plus

Last week I got a new iPhone 6s plus. I didn’t go into the shop with a decision on whether to get the standard 6s or the plus, and went on a whim. Apparently I can return it within 14 days so we’ll see.

It is big – and I kind of wanted it as a mini tablet. The amount of phone calls I make are minimal, so if I can find something that helps me do text, whatsapp, email, reading and other web/work stuff then great if it can make a phone call too.

A couple of things I have noticed:

1, It is too big to text one handed. Not that I want to drive when I text. I absolutely hate anyone who uses their phone while they drive.

2, It is often too big for my pocket. This means I do not carry it around the house with me as much. If it is not with me, I don’t find myself wastefully checking Facebook just for the sake of it.

3, It is too big to take running. You would look like a plonker running down the road with this attached to your arm!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Drawing a simple line graph with 2 lines : R Programming


In our last post we read in the historical share information about a company, in this post I want to plot the daily share volume amounts against a line indicating the average volume.


> df <- read.csv(‘tesco.txt’)
> str(df)  #look at the structure of the dataframe

If you look at the data type of you will see it is an int. We want to convert this to a proper datetime. I had a few issues with this, and it seems to be as it has been read in as an int when you try to convert it, it thinks it is a milliseconds value. I got around this by first converting the int to a char

>¬†df$ = as.Date(as.character(df$, “%Y%m%d”) #convert to date
> df$X.Avg <- mean(df$X.vol.) #create a new column and store the average volume
>¬†plot(df$,df$X.vol, type=”l”) #draw a line graph, l is for line
>¬†lines(df$,df$X.Avg, col=”red”)


It would be nice to get the axis names sorted out, and the formatting of the numbers.



Posted in Data Science, R Programming | Leave a comment

Reading text files and getting a column’s average value : R Programming


Before doing anything interesting in R, we need to have some data to play with. I want to read in a list of End of Day prices for a company, and working out the average volume of that share traded.

This solution is going to require an account on to get access to the historical close prices of a share.


I’ve downloaded the close prices for Tesco and placed them in /users/nick/rdata
This is the code to read in the text file and calculate the average volume of shares traded:

> setwd(‘/users/nick/rdata’) ¬†# set the working directory
> df <- read.csv(‘tesco.txt’)
> mean(df$X.vol)
[1] 22283443


Posted in Data Science, R Programming | Leave a comment

Learning R Programming : The Tutorials

I’ve been trying to learn the programming language R for a couple of months now, and while following the course has been good – it is only by doing real (useful) tasks that I feel I can move my knowledge forward enough to be ready to tackle some machine learning competitions on Kaggle.

Back in the day, when transitioning over from VB6 to, a really useful book that helped me along was Karl Moores Visual Basic.Net : The Tutorials (I even wrote an Amazon review for it Рit really must have been good!!!)

My plan is to develop something like this as a set of blog posts, where each posts outlines a problem – with the solution after. I have no doubt that some of the solutions will be suboptimal – but that’s where I hope the interweb will come in handy and help me improve my knowledge.

Lets see how it goes. Here are the topics covered to far.

Reading in a text file and getting the average of a column

Drawing a simple line graph with 2 lines

Posted in Data Science, R Programming | Leave a comment

3 Good Books – new side project

I’m trying to increase my luck surface¬†area at the moment by putting a few side projects out there and seeing what sticks. The thing that motivates me is usage, progress, and improvement. Most of the projects I consider these days rely on natural search traffic from Google and it has become very hard to predict which sites and content you will be able to get traction with. There is nothing more miserable than working on a site for a long period of time with¬†nothing you try moving things forward and getting more visitors.

3 Good Books is one of these side projects. I’ve started a number of projects around books before – but they were more home run type projects – all or nothing. As this is a side project – it can move along over a long period of time. It also scratches my own itch – getting good book recommendations from peers. I am fed up of getting crappy book recommendations from Amazon – and this is an example of machine learning being annoying. Just because I bought a single book on juicing – and then gave up on juicing after 2 attempts to use and clean the juicing machine – doesn’t mean I want to be recommended juicing books forever more.

I have already got a few good book recommendations through that I have purchased that Amazon hasn’t recommended me before – so for that the side project is a win already.

Posted in Books, seo | Leave a comment

Campervan First Trip

We bought a campervan on Saturday, got the camping equipment on Sunday, and set off on Monday!
We spent about a week viewing new and used campervans, and with the help of the members of the VW California Club – quickly made a decision to buy on Saturday. I will write up more later about our decision to get a VW Campervan soon.

Campervan at Woolacombe

Campervan at Woolacombe

I knew we would be nervous about getting out there and doing the first trip, so we just wanted to get it done. Sophie’s parents and family were holidaying down in Devon this week so we thought we could head over there and potientially meet up with them. We only planned on staying away for 2 nights as we thought this would be a good test to see what other equipment and camping stuff we would need.

Leaving things to the last minute as we usually do we didn’t have a lot of campsite options that had space with electric hookup. But we found one and booked it on Monday morning just before we set off.

As we were driving down the hill to Woolacombe and our campsite we saw a couple of fire engines and soon realized that the campsite that we were staying at was on fire! The main facilities building that housed the reception, bar, swimming pool and sauna had caught fire! Thankfully nobody was hurt, and after a couple of hours at the beach and a fish n chips supper we headed back and were allowed in.

The reception was moved to a bungalow near the site entrance, and although they had no record of our booking they slotted us in. All credit to them for continuing to run and sort things out after such a stressful event!

Unfortunately the fire had knocked out a lot of the electrics in the park and so our hook up point wasn’t working. That was the assumption anyway – or there was something wrong with it in the van! Either way, we had to use the leisure battery to cool the fridge and turned it off once it got cold. It stayed cold enough during the night which was the main concern.

The weather started to take a turn for the worse once we were allowed into the park. Really windy, and heavy showers. I’d read some tips on the VW California Club forums about pointing the van so the lowest point of the raised roof was in the direction of wind and this seemed to work. While we still did get moved a bit by large gusts – it was nothing compared to the battering people in tents were getting. It was certainly a good test for the van, and I think we can now be safe in the knowledge that it can take most of the bad wind and rain conditions the UK can throw at it.

bad weather at Woolacombe

bad weather at Woolacombe

Sleeping arrangements worked out great. Isabel slept in the boot – which she thought was a great adventure, and Sophie and I slept in the roof. With Sophie being 3 months pregnant I’m not sure how much longer she will be able to get up on the top bunk – but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Isabel in her boot bed!

Isabel in her boot bed!

The campsite was Europa Park and it was ok, but with the swimming pool closed and the weather looking like heavy showers and windy we decided to pack up and head over to meet Sophies family near Westward Ho! It took about 15 minutes to pack everything away apart from the roof which I waited until Sophie came back to lower so she could check the material wasn’t getting snagged in the roof mechanism from the outside.

We met up with the Calienda’s and gave the tour of the van which we have done a few times. It is good fun showing them all the storage, gadgets and clever things that are packed in. Sophies dad has a Mazda Bongo campervan, but I reckon we might see him in a VW soon!
After hanging out at a windy and cold beach for a few hours as the kids hunted for fish and crabs in the rock pools we set off again. We didn’t want to head back to Woolacombe as that was going away from home – so we set off either with the aim of finding a campsite close by or just driving back to Reading. A few miles the other side of Bideford we came across Riverside Caravan and Camping Park¬†and they had space for us that night. The site had a small river flowing through it and 3 fishing lakes which would be great for any anglers out there.

This campsite was really nice with gravel parking areas for the hookup spots. We plugged in and the electric hookup was all working which was great so we could leave the fridge on overnight. It was a relief to know the hookup worked as it should. The Riverside campsite had a restaurant and bar on site so we ate there that night as the shop didn’t have much food for us to cook and we didn’t really fancy getting the stove and stuff unpacked.

South Molton Riverside Caravan and Camping Park

South Molton Riverside Caravan and Camping Park

The only meal we really had in the van during this first trip was the breakfast before we set off for home on Wednesday morning. Shreddies and milk was enjoyed by all. Isabel thought it was great fun eating her breakfast outside on a picnic bench. It is funny how odd little quircks bring smilies to toddlers faces.

We learnt a ton of things from this 2 night trip. Immediate things we need to buy:
– drive away awning – will give us so much more space
– CO monitor – don’t feel comfortable hooking up the gas until we have one

We have a few things coming up such as baby scans which mean we won’t be able to get away for a couple of weeks so we should get the awning sorted by then.

Posted in Campervan | Leave a comment