Dear readers, it’s been a while

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Hello to anyone that visits my blog post, whether it’s your first time or your 100th. You all mean the so much to me, and I appreciate you taking the time to read any of my posts.

What’s happened in the last 5 months?

A lot has happened since my last blog post since it was posted 5 months ago.

We’ve had COVID-19 which is still in progress. We’ve had the black lives matter movement which I’m really in support of. And a lot of personal things have happened too.

What are my personal changes?

It’s now been over a year since I started contracting and my contract with the University of Exeter has been extended multiple times. This has given me a lot of confidence within myself and my coding has improved because of this.

My goal for creating 12 YouTube videos has unfortunately fallen behind as I haven’t created a single video this year. One a month should have been doable, but I’ve had so much on my mind that it’s taken a backseat.

I’ve cleared my £7k of credit card debt and I’m now working on clearing my wife’s £8k. Technically it’s both our debt, it’s just on her cards rather than mine because we’ve been switching between our cards to get 0% balances and now we don’t have an interest rate, we can focus without worry. Our overall debt at the beginning of this year was around £17k so we’ve more than halved it which is a great feeling.

COVID-19 has been a blessing for me and I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Working from home has been going really well and I’m saving a lot on petrol. I hope that when this eases, I’ll be able to work from home on a permanent basis. However, I’m well aware that others are struggling right now, the government has failed us and haven’t been supporting those that need it most which is a huge shame.

What are my thoughts on the rest of the world?

All key workers are struggling mentally and they will need a huge break if and when it’s possible for them. The campaigns to raise money for them has been tremendous and really restored some faith in humanity. However, a lot more needs to be done in order to support them further and the government should be held responsible for making this happen.

Now for the black lives matter campaign, most protests started out peaceful which has been fantastic to hear. That is until the police stepped in and brutally pushed protestors back, sprayed them in the face for no reason and even shot people with rubber bullets. There are times where it seemed necessary, but 99% of the time, it was complete police brutality.

I believe this is what also led to most riots, if we didn’t have this brutality, most people wouldn’t have been pushed to riot. Donald Trump has been a tragic president who still believes he’s some sort of God. He constantly spews the same rhetoric and it’s quite frankly getting boring. I wish he would just step down, but we know this won’t happen, so America needs to vote for change.

Similar things are happening in the UK where Boris is this bumbling idiot that keeps flip-flopping on his plans and his words. He’s a racist which we desperately need to vote out and we need to campaign for change.

Let’s hope that things can change and that we can end 2020 better than when we started. We’re all desperate to see our families and get back to some sort of normality. I believe that change for the better is happening. However, it’s still too slow and we need to speed things up and add pressure where we can.

Closing thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this, please feel free to follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page. I hope to speak to you again soon.

Website migrated from VuePress to Gridsome posting from Forestry

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Yesterday, I published my new website which has been created with Gridsome. I had to reformat my blog posts and add tags to each of them. I have 156 posts, so this was not an easy task, to say the least.

Now I’m writing my first blog post using Forestry, and with any luck, it will post to my repository and deploy to my site with no issues. That’s if I’ve set up the formatting correctly and everything else that comes with it.

I now have a newsletter which you can subscribe to using the form at the bottom of this post. Signing up is easy and it will make sure you never miss an update. However, if you’re more of an RSS person, then I have that too.

There are a few more things I would like to add to my website such as comments that aren’t by Disqus, social card metadata and an auto-generated sitemap. I should probably create a roadmap on my GH repository for you to keep an eye on.

That’s pretty much it for this one, and if you like the new update please let me know on my Twitter page.

Join the discussion here.

This month has been weird for me…

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This month has been so weird for me. I walked into my workplace on the first of May to find out I’m being made redundant. Alongside a few colleagues due to targets not being hit. It didn’t shock me, and I wasn’t upset by this. I understood the company was hitting a rocky patch. However, I didn’t expect this to happen, especially at the time it did.

In fact, the funny thing is… I was actually looking for a new job a few weeks prior because I felt it was time to move on.

Although the situation was rubbish, the timing couldn’t have gone any better. During the meeting, I was told I’d be required to go home and not come back until the next meeting. I just picked up my things and left for home.

Once home. I started calling all my recruitment agents and letting them know my situation has changed, and need to find something asap.

That evening, I had a phone interview with the University of Exeter which went really well. So well, in fact, they offered me a job the next day.

Talk about moving fast…

I decided to accept the position which was, in fact, a contract web development position. With an initial 3-month contract with the possibility to be extended to 6 months. My agent said “Great, now you’ll just need to set up an LTD company”.

Wait. What?

I had absolutely no idea how to set up an LTD company, but I’ve always been tempted by contracting positions. I asked some friends, spoke to an accountant company who advised the direction through using an Umbrella Company and setting up my own company.

If I set up my own company, my take-home money is more. If I skip this company all together I would take a big risk, but have an even higher take-home. Call me greedy, but I decided to go alone. Of course, I’m not completely alone, I have connections, friends and family who have their own businesses and companies.

I can get their advice whenever I needed.Within a day, I managed to set up my company “Michael Brooks Developments LTD” and confirm with my agent that I would like to move forward. At first, my wife wasn’t happy with this idea, she felt like we would get ourselves into more shit and pay more taxes. However, we found out this wasn’t the case and we’ll actually be better off as long as I don’t fuck it up.

I’ve got business insurance, a laptop with needed dongles and software all sorted. PAYE and my company name and number are all done. I was ready to rock my new contract position.

Saying farewell

A week later, I went back to my old workplace to discuss what happens next. They could offer me some positions and give me redundancy pay. I notified them that I won’t be accepting any roles and I will be moving into contracting. They congratulated me and advised I hand in my notice.

This way, I would get 1-month pay and have my remaining redundancy pay which is an even bigger win. They let me go upstairs and say goodbye to all my colleagues. I was sad to say goodbye, but it felt right. There were no hardships, I got on with everyone there and I knew it was a business decision that they wouldn’t have taken lightly.

What’s happening now?

I’m now into my third week with the University of Exeter and things are going great. My work so far has been highly praised and we’re currently on target for project completion. My only concerns are getting paid and paying taxes at the correct times, but I’m sure my accountant will help me work all that out when the time comes.

Michael’s mental health story — Wellbean blog

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I’m happy to announce that my mental health story has been published on WellBean’s blog. If you would like to give it a read, then please head over to the link below. Thank you for taking your time to read it.

I invited people to share their mental health stories on my blog to help people who are suffering understand that they are not alone. 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental health condition so by sharing our stories we can contribute to a wider discussion and help break down the unhelpful stereotypes. Michael Brooks, […]

via Michael’s mental health story — Wellbean blog

Saying goodbye to February and Hello to March 2019

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Today is our final day in February, and although it’s our shortest month, it definitely feels like our longest. I’ve managed to retain my internet connections and make many more. This month I managed to hit 3,000 followers which is a nice achievement.

Alien Ant Farm and POD live

My wife, sister-in-law and I went to see Alien And Farm and POD last night which was fantastic. We only recognised two AAF songs, but they were great performers. They interacted with the crowd and teased their Michael Jackson’s cover of Smooth Criminal. They basically started shouting “Eddy… Eddy… Eddy are you okay? Are you okay Eddy” mentioned they would play a cover and asked if that was okay, and then proceeded with a different cover song. They then played another one of their songs before going straight into Smooth Criminal.

Then we have POD, I knew all bar one song. POD had amazing energy and sang their songs superbly. Then, they told us that everyone in Plymouth could hear our screaming, to which the crowd booed (due to Plymouth/Exeter rivalry). They had no idea why the crowd hated the mention of Plymouth, but found it funny and carried on. They even brought the mic to one of the audience who shouted “green army” which everyone started booing too. POD found it hilarious.

Pet Sitting got busy

My wife’s pet sitting business became very busy this month, to a point where I had to take time off work in order to help her out. I was happy to do this, and it was a nice change looking after lots of dogs. However, I wouldn’t be able to do this all the time myself, and I’m proud of Tiff for doing what she loves.

What’s happening in March?

I don’t really have much planned for March, Tiff has more pet sitting and I’m hoping we can watch Captain Marvel. I did spot Papa Roach live in Lemon Grove, but their tickets are too costly for us this time around. Hopefully, we can see them another time. I will be keeping my head down to create my new eBook which comes out at the end of March.

Spending time with your loved ones

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After two weeks of not really seeing each other, I’m thankful that I can spend some time with my wife. She’s been very busy pet sitting, and I’ve been helping her where I can. Due to this, we have had some time away. Although it’s nice to spend some time apart, it’s also nice to spend quality time together.

This is also the same for my friends and family. Due to moving away and work commitments, it can be hard to find the time. However, we should be using our free time to share it with others, because we don’t know what could happen in the future. This enables us to let go of our worries and share our happiness with those closest.

What a write off

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Today has been pretty stressful to say the least. Having some guy shout at me through his car window really got to be. It shouldn’t have and most things usually go over my head, but this got me. It was probably the fact that my day already wasn’t going well and this was the nail in the coffin which sent me over the edge.

Then to top it all off, my washing machine is causing my fuse box to switch off. This probably means it needs replacing. Which sucks for two reasons. Firstly, I can no longer wash any more clothes and secondly, I have to find a new one.

Tomorrow is another day and I’ll be using it to find a replacement washer. I hope my readers have had a better day, and I hope you also have a lovely weekend. We just need to stay strong and keep smiling because better days will come.

Valentine’s Day – 2019

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Today is Valentine’s Day which means couples will be spending time together. Maybe they’ll spoil each, or maybe they’ll chill with some Netflix. However they spend Valentine’s, it can be a wonderful day.

For others, however, today can just add to their depression or anxiety because they feel they’re alone or not with anyone.

We should send our love to those who may feel left out. No one should feel vulnerable or alone because of some celebration or holiday. Today, I will be spending time with my wife, but I will be sending my love out to those that are suffering today. I ask that my readers do the same.

The vegan challenge

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For the past three weeks, I’ve been a vegan. It’s something that brings in lots of new challenges, and the experience can be very gratifying and rewarding. There’s a lot of foods out there which are obviously not suitable for vegans, such as; meat, eggs, dairy and even honey. However, some things aren’t so obvious like; bread, pasta, sweets and biscuits. Most things have a “suitable for vegan” logo, some are “suitable for vegetarian” while others don’t have either.

No label on the product

The products that don’t contain a logo can be tricky at times. You’ll look at the ingredients and see nothing that contains animal products, yet you’re left wondering why there’s no logo. There will be a notice towards the bottom that will say “May contain…” and list milk, or something similar. I will usually just assume that it means it’s okay, yet other vegans may place it back on the shelf. I don’t consider myself a strict vegan either, I will still eat meat if it’s offered. Because if I say no then it gets chucked away, and that’s just not sustainable. That’s the reason I chose to be vegan in the first place.

Suitable for vegetarian, but is it suitable for vegans?

Another one is “suitable for vegetarians”. What usually makes it not suitable for vegans is because it contains dairy or honey. If that isn’t listed and no other animal products are listed, then I will safely assume it’s for vegans.

Meal planning

Making my own vegan meals is another challenge. How do I plan for the week? If I make my set meals, will there be enough? I usually look at 3 – 4 meals that feed 2 – 4 people and purchase all the ingredients for them. I will then go out and purchase everything on my list. Then in an evening, I will cook my dinner and make sure there’s enough for my lunch the next day. This cycle carries on until the weekend where I tend not to have lunch and back to shopping on Sunday.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to learn more about what I eat and my routines, then please let me know in the comments below.

Pet Sitting these beautiful girly Dalmatians

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I have spent this weekend helping my wife looking after 3 dalmatians and 1 lab. They are a handful, but they can also behave very well. They woke me up many times during my sleep because they were either begging for a wee or food. It makes me want to have my own dog, but I know it would never be fair on them due to both of us working full-time. Anyway, here are some video snippets of these girls in action.