Weeknotes #015: End of term

What I did in the 51st week of 2020


In other employments and other years, the last week before Xmas has an end of term vibe. Last year on GOV.UK we still had plenty to do, we were prepping for Brexit and building pages and services to help citizens understand what had been announced. This year we are doing that again for the end of transition, but also with a pandemic.

This meant I had a bit of time outside the Accounts team to help scale up our services. There can be times where nearly a third of the UK visits our site in short order. Ensuring services new and old are ready for that takes a bit of work.

I also pitched in with a bit of GOV.UK community work, I am a GDPR nerd and so have joined our Information Management network. I used some nerd skills to help draw together some info.

Finally within my team I worked on a feature that would allow our support staff to pause the entire feature in a hurry. There is always someone on call on GOV.UK, if that person ever finds a reason the feature needs to be paused in a hurry at 2am, it is helpful to have a nicely labelled emergency brake. We will almost certainly never have to use it. However it we do, this should mean it can happen quickly and we can communicate to users what has happened an why things have been a paused.


Pretty slow, I have been honing some more DIY skills. I spend some time this week mixing plaster and filling in big chunks of wall. I did the same with cement and some concrete flooring today.

I find this really reassuring. When we moved in I scratched and dented the walls bringing in boxes and furniture. Part of me thought I had “broken” things. Finding out you can easily fix this stuff makes mistakes seem lower stakes.


I finished the Becky Chambers book. Came away feeling similar to the first, I am looking forward to writing a review.

I also burned through the Song of Achilles which I really enjoyed Madeline Miller is a fantastic writer. I loved reading Circe, I was surprised to find myself enjoying this one even more. The trojan war always seemed so dusty and boring, less so now.

I decided to roll on with historic-ish fiction, and started the sequel to Wolf Hall. I’m not far in. It feels more like a direct continuation of the last one rather than a new book. Which is good.

Listened to

This was a really fun episode. Someone else who listened to this accused me of having a similar disposition to Alex Goldman’s here. This is not untrue.

But I think I am slightly less hopeless right now. There was an advert for Gimlet’s other podcast Resistance at the end. I have heard quite a bit about the show but not had space for a new podcast until recently. I think I will have to change that. Resistance was talking about angry youth taking action. Looking at the climate movement in the UK, I feel there is hope to be found there.

| Huw