My Experiences as a Contractor

Having become a contractor around two years ago, i thought i would summmarise my experiences up to now and outline the pros and cons of being a London web developer contractor, compared to a permanent.

It has been a mixed bag so far, and takes some getting used to in terms of the cash flow inconsistencies which comes from being a contractor. I have had a good mixture of contracts already, ranging from one to two week gigs, through to my time at British Medical Journal, which eventually ran on for 14 months.

Having worked as a permanent web designer and then developer for a total of around 12/13 years, i had met many contractors and also seen permanent colleagues make the switch too. My impressions were that it would bring more money and freedom, and so far that has been the case.

Paystream Contractor Accountants Logo

I have hired Paystream to handle all of my accounts, leaving me to concentrate entirely on my work. This has proven a geat decision, and i would recommend it to any IT contractor starting out on this path. There is always the option to do your books yourself at a later date, if you wish to, but the time it would take me to learn these skills does not make sense for the amount it would save me in accountancy costs.

Ruby off to Gothenburg

Ruby has been keen for another break recently but i am unable to go with her, as it is time to line up another contract asap. Ruby feels most comfortable in Northern European countries when travelling by herself. As such, Gothenburg is her destination for next week.

I’ll be honest, as much as i truly love Scandanavia, as shown in our trip to Norway, i know very little about Gothenburg. The city has appeared in some of my Nordic Noir, and i gathered from that is that it’s a major port city.

Ruby finds Sweden, Denmark and Norway as places that she can confidently visit by herself, knowing that the locals speak English better than some parts of London, and also have a society wih low crime and strong education. I adore the model of the Scandinavian countries too, but tend to prefer to spend my time off in hot locations that differentiate themselves from the UK. With more time, i would love to travel by train around Denmark and Sweden, and hope to do that at some point.

Ruby has no experience of Italy up to now, and has heard bad stories from fellow Chinese on her national social media feeds. Her impressions up to now seem to divide the north and south of Europe but i am hoping to open her mind to Italy in coming years, as it has always been my favourite European country.

Having said that, it is always going to be easier for someone used to British life to visit North European countries as there is a real similarity in culture, history and general day-to-day life.

Weekend in Norfolk

It has been a fairly tiring week but my mood is up again as the weekend draws close. I will pop to see Mum and Dad in Norfolk for the weekend and this break seems to be perfect timing. With only a few days left of my current contract, next week will be interesting and i am looking forward to some fresh, new work coming in.

Mum has had her garden done up recently and i am looking forward to seeing that in all it’s glory. This is an important place for her so i am pleased that her feedback on the work has been really positive. The garden should also now be much safer for her and Dad to bumble about in, where as before there were some precarious spots around the top fish pond.

Dad has recently become quite a keen cook and will be knocking up a roast dinner this weekend, which has always previously been Mum’s territory. He has been using several recipe books of TV chefs, and it seems that he enjoys planning his next feast.

Jamie Oliver's Chorizo Soup

I have not done much cooking myself recently, except for a Chorizo Soup to use up some of the leftover vegetables from our Abel and Cole delivery.

Ruby will remain in London to work this weekend having taken time off for our recent trip to Tenerife. Hopefully we might be able to do another trip soon, so long as i can find a good cheap deal somewhere warm. I tend to search on HolidayPirates.com for deals, they always seem to have something interesting available.

Moving Blog Content from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

I recently re-started blogging after disbanding my old website several years ago. Whilst travelling around China it made sense to record my experiences in a WordPress.com blog. After coming home i didn’t feel that i really had much to talk about anymore and eventually took the site down.

I managed to drop all of that old content into this new blog through a combination of WordPress importer plugin (RSS) and using Archive.org to find other old posts that were not in the various export files that i managed to dig off my old harddrive. This combination worked well as there were only about 80 posts or so to move across and most images were links to my Flickr account, so were still working fine.

One issue that i did run into was that after trying out several different import plugins, my admin area started to run incredibly slowly and so i would advise anyone to de-activate and delete these plugins as soon as they have completed their content migration.

Teida Mountain, National Park & Masca Tenerife Day Trip

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This day trip from Sandos San Blas was a tiring journey through winding roads, with Ruby asleep for much of her time on the stuffy coach.

Teida mountain was the highlight of the day and produced breathtaking views, as expected. The environment in this area resembled something like Mars, or perhaps a North American national park with rock formations caused by previous volcanic explosions.

Rock formations in Tenerife

The other mountainous areas on this trip were in the north of Tenerife, where the weather is more changeable and rain brings greener vegetation. The guide compared the region to Machu Picchu, though I haven’t been there yet so can’t compare the two.

Mountains around Tenerife

It was great to finally get up close to the mountain having seen it from various angles during the holiday. From La Gomera it was most beautiful and we also had a great view of it from our hotel. It’s size ensures that it can be seen from almost any part of the island.

Masca was a small village in the depths of mountainous Tenerife and an incredible location, with exotic vegetation, much wildlife and winding roads making this a key destination in the trip. It is only recently that this place could be visited by anything else other than Donkey.

La Gomera Day-Trip from Tenerife

We took a 50 minute ferry from Tenerife to La Gomera for our second excursion and I was a little apprehensive having been sick two days earlier when on our search for dolphins and whales. The ferry was much larger and therefore i was not hanging over the side this time! A comfortable trip indeed, also very popular with long queues and also passport checks, which surprised me.

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We were first pickup for this trip, so it was an early start at 7.35 going through to 7 at night when we arrived back at the hotel. There were not so many on our own tour because this excursion is available around 5 days a week, whereas some of the sold out ones occurred just once or twice a week.

La Gomera was much less developed than the likes of Lanzarote and Tenerife with few hotels and attractions, sticking to more traditional industries such as agriculture. This was part of the island’s charm.

The strangest aspect of the island had to be the old language which is still being taught in schools right across the island. Whistles form the words of a sentence and it is the sort of thing i might expect to find in the amazon rainforest rather than a European island.

Talking of rainforests, the island of La Gomera has a slightly different climate to nearby Tenerife and as such there are some African plants growing here that you will not find on any of the other islands.

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