The Most Pointless Staycation Ever

A couple of months ago, my employer, who I normally hold in very high regard, advised that staff couldn’t carry holiday over into the new year starting 1st April. Meh.

I still had 5 days left to take. We were in the middle of the worst phase of the covid crisis – everything was still going to be closed no matter when I took the holiday. I wouldn’t be able to go to a pub let alone another country. We’d also just had a sudden stratospheric warming event in early January so the likelihood was spring would start cold, so I wouldn’t even have opportunity to sit outside in my front garden.

Normally a staycation can be quite useful. My life runs on multiple to-do lists, and they tend to gradually get out of control at times…well…most of the time. Until I have some time at home, like a staycation, where I can just concentrate on catching up on all the life admin.

Yet covid means that my main to-do list of regular/semi-regular tasks is cleared most weeks now. The time saved from not commuting means I have time to spend on this during the working week.

The other useful thing about a staycation is not being in the office – 5 whole working days away from the Met line and the office. Yet covid means that I spend 22 hours a day in my bedroom, 1 hour in the kitchen and 1 hour outside walking.

I would not have booked this week off if I had any choice in the matter – it was my best hope for a week when there might have been some warm sunshine. I had planned on a week off in April originally – when I hoped the pubs would be open and the weather would be warm.

I had nothing really to do. All the occasional cleaning tasks like cleaning the fridge that I tend to put off are long completed. I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t sit in the sun. I didn’t even want to bake a cake.

It really was going to be the most pointless staycation ever.

Or was it?


The one thing that I will probably never be on top of, is the amount that I need to learn for my job as a software engineer – or at worst, the amount that I could learn. Thankfully I enjoy both learning and writing code.

So I set out to learn React. Quick snippet for those that don’t know what React is, probably 90% of you. JavaScript is the main front-end web development coding language. I know this well – I’m good at JavaScript though still probably 2-3 years away from expert status. Then there are libraries/frameworks that use JavaScript to make websites even faster (and other good stuff) – but you then have to learn how they work, how they are structured, etc.

Learning JavaScript thoroughly is a beast, learning React on top of that is quite a mission, though I think I can do it in months rather than years. I did actually start learning React 4 years ago, but I didn’t know JavaScript well enough – and then I got my job at Lovespace where I needed to know jQuery (the first popular JavaScript library) – so I brushed up on that, before I then had to learn AngularJS.

Now at M&S, I use pure JavaScript, with Node for the server side – though that is basically JavaScript.

However, soon we will be using React! And I don’t know it. So if I don’t learn it I will go from being really good at my job to being useless. Plus I also need to learn TypeScript, GraphQL and Next, though all smaller missions that learning React. I bet you are tired even reading about what I need to learn.

Yeah I write this…10’s of 1000’s of lines are out there of my code. Scary.

One of the attractions about becoming a software engineer was that it always changes, that I’d always need to learn – of course, the money is rather attractive also. Knowing React probably increases my salary expectations by around £10k – and increases the amount of jobs that I am qualified for by rather a lot – React is very much “the thing”. In theory, with another 2-3 years of experience I could easily command a salary of £80k – if not £100k. M&S ain’t going to like that!

So that is pretty much all I have done. Instead of writing code for M&S, I’ve been learning code so that I can write even better code for M&S in the coming months when the project hopefully starts.

But it wasn’t a holiday

Alas, all this time coding and the brainwork required does mean that it feels like I’ve just had a normal 9-5 week – plus I studied for much of last weekend too.

I really haven’t done anything else. I did cook some ox cheeks in the slow cooker, which were superb. And I watched England vs San Marino. Oh and I spent £440 on an ergonomic office chair. Well, it was money that Ryanair won’t be getting this year.

What I really need is a break from the pandemic – a break from the UK – a break from the flag-shagging morons in charge of this country. Or at least to get away from Harrow from a few days – my bedroom – my prison cell of a bedroom.

I am going to have a Blacklock all-in tonight with a nice bottle of Rioja. And yes, I will be eating with another human being which means breaking rules for only the second time this year. Judge me if you want – but I need a snippet of humanity, a few hours away from my computer, a few hours away from the endless months of solitude. Everyone else has been breaking rules, though they often don’t seem to even admit it to themselves let alone everyone else – some proper hypocritical shite on social media but that’s a discussion for the beer garden in a few week’s time.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back in front of my computer for the rest of the weekend – though I’m going to keep the studying to a minimum. I might even not do any.

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