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Updates and upcoming changes!

Its been a while since I posted. it was also a shame I had to start posting again with a rant about a delivery company but there lack of incompetency to deliver simple packages time after time just made my blood boil! Hopefully this makes up for it 🙂

So it has been a while so fair bit of news to share I think 🙂 Finally on my final year of my degree, just 5 modules and a final year project and I will be done with studying for the foreseeable future, given that fact its obviously clear I passed all my exams in june and august. its been a busy summer for me and for STS. I finally got round to going limited as a registered company which has some tax advantages and other benefits Not forgetting a debit card with the company name on it! there’s been lots of work coming in which has been really a blessing to Marie and I.

I’m keeping this fairly short as I’d like to try and do more updates than my once every couple of months routine, so I’ll move on to upcoming changes. there’s only really 2 changes, firstly Marie has been considering blogging about stuff that she is passionate about or just plain wants to talk about, and we thought why not put it all here, because that way this will get more content over time and doesn’t have any extra expense! So soon you will be seeing posts from Marie Somerset, do read and enjoy them because I’m certain there will be some good pearls of wisdom in there.

second change which probably quite a few people now about by now is that Marie and I will be planning to emigrate to Zimbabwe by September 2012. Yes folks that’s less than 11 months away! we had been taking the first 6 months of this year to pray about the long term future and where God is calling us be it Zimbabwe or the UK or anywhere else in the world. God made it pretty clear that Zimbabwe is the place we should be to raise a family and build my business (no Marie isn’t pregnant yet!). There is going to be a lot of challenges ahead for us and some tricky decisions to be made, like do we ship everything or do we sell/get rid of stuff and re-buy new stuff in Zimbabwe? down to what church we should be involved in, we’d quite like to get involved in one of the Harare church plants but that is still to be decided, ultimately we want to do what God wants us to do so we are still open to prayers on that. we really would appreciate your prayers and thoughts over this next period of time while we plan, co-ordinate and ultimately move from the UK to Zimbabwe. Initially the biggest hurdle in our way is that I need to get residency status this December when we travel for Christmas. because Marie was born in Zimbabwe and is a resident herself it should be a straightforward process, however we are not dealing with a straightforward government so we do need specific prayers that the right people see the documentation required and have the grace and wisdom to grant the application

I will leave our news there for now, perhaps next time you might see a post from Marie.

Summer is here… I think!

Wow! haven’t blogged here in a while and thought I should post an update. It’s been pretty pretty hectic for me the last month or 2 with studies, exams and work, I’m not complaining though! It has just meant that some things have taken a back burner while I focus on the priorities in the right order (God, Wife, Study, Work, Other). So roughly in that order :).

ChristChurch has been good, Marie and I got to witness Andy Tilsley being officially “prayed in” as an elder and the general comings and goings of church life, Marie has joined the crèche team to help combat the current and further impending baby boom! and they couldn’t keep me away, am back serving Sundays on the sound team now technically called the tech team (excuse the pun) which encompasses the visuals team also which i think is a brilliant move purely because the 2 teams were quite small on there own and trying to organise social events was rather difficult because normally what ended up happening is 2 guys end up meeting up for a beer (which is not a bad thing!) rather than 5 or 6 people meeting up having a meal and enjoying good fellowship.

Marie has been the usual busy with working for Newfrontiers, carrying on as usual despite all the ongoing staff changes that take place regularly, she is still knitting a woolly green scarf for me for Christmas, hopefully its ready in time although i wont need it because we are going to Zimbabwe for Christmas again, Woohoo!

Studies have finally concluded for the summer, I am still awaiting results and have one exam to do in august – due to the bad organisation of Uni which I have probably mentioned before. i had to spend 4 weeks at uni after my exams attending lectures which apparently had been the plan since the beginning of the academic year but we weren’t informed until mid way through our exam period despite several people including myself asking for clarification several times throughout this year (i think that shows how badly organised the uni is) in fact some were so badly caught out because they had already booked flights home for the summer and couldn’t attend the lectures. gladly though its all done, i cant wait to get this degree over and done with purely because it holds very little relevance to my day to day freelance work, and any content that did is already going out of date, that’s how fast paced the IT industry really is.

Work has really ramped up the last month or so, I’ve had the chance to meet and even work with some great teams like (new web infrastructure), Rackspace (got to see the Rackspace mini and got a goody bag) and have met the awesome GoSquared team and WooThemes just the other week, its keeping me busy which i like and importantly its earning money, I’m actually quite thankful to God for all the work as I had to replace my laptop a few weeks ago (the old one couldn’t take the load i was throwing at it) which cost a seriously painful amount of money which if it wasn’t for the work i wouldn’t have been able to buy.

Other than that, not much has changed, still busy busy busy, off to see my dad and Karen for the weekend next weekend which should be good as we will probably get to go to the village church too so that should be an experience for Marie (its not Newfrontiers!), the weather here has been pretty miserable the last few days but we got a couple of thunder storms that Marie and I both enjoy watching.

76 Days :)

its 76 days until our wedding day, thats just over 2 months or just under 11 weeks, either way time does not wait for anyone! And i cant wait either!, we have just been to our second week of marriage prep and i have to say i am finding it remarkably helpful, Ross & Joy have experience and advice from there 30+ years of marriage that we would neccesarily be able to access as openly and honestly in any other setting except perhaps one to one, its humbling to see a couple so open and honest about some of there past challenges and issues and how they dealt with them, its refreshing and only helps for when we might have those same or similar issues.

this week involved a little bit about looking at some wedding vows and what they mean to us, we were given a few different versions, and i have to say we found something pretty much on the money of what we want to have at our wedding – not going to reveal them here so its extra special on the wedding day and we still haven’t tweaked them for us.

Life in general has been ebbing and flowing this week, had some work through this week but i cant say i was specifically busy, my uni lectures hit that “Mind Bending” stage which is good, i shall no longer be bored in the lecture! for my freelancing i got Marie to help me with Proofing the copy on my work website ( and i am glad to say it now makes sense and is grammatically correct – i wish i could say the same about this blog!

we have looked at a few houses and flats now while hunting for our new home together for the new year, pleased to say we put an offer in on a place and it was accepted, so hopefully the relevant credit checks and paperwork go smoothly and we can pick up the keys from the landlady or agent in early december just before we fly to Zimbabwe for Christmas and the Wedding! pictures of all of the above to follow in due course)

next week is a little bit more of the same at the moment, although uni coursework is out so i should really get on with that (shouldn’t take too long) Running Front of House Sound at church tomorrow which will be good fun, will try not to put too much delay on lead vox (echo to non technical people!)

Freelancing and University

well today is the day! 2 changes in my life happened today 🙂 well to be honest they have both been a gradual transition really but hey 🙂

i go back to University as a “full time” student today i say full time with a lot of emphasis because this term until december i am actually only at university 2 half days a week. i had been part time previously so already had some credit hence not so busy this term and the story behind why i went full time is a long and stressful one, to summarise it. My uni is just poorly organised and they care about businesses more than there students so part timers often get overlooked easily, i was one of the unlucky.

my second change is that i am now a full time freelancer! i was previously working full time for Newfrontiers and ChristChurch London and doing bits and bobs in spare time as it allowed, but no more! My job title is probably still to be decided but i like the idea of Freelance IT Consultant. my main skills and areas are particularly hosting management, web hosting, server setup and management and other troubleshooting or optimisation. as i gain more time and skills i will definitely add web development into that list also, if your interested in that head over to my freelance site: and have a look around or email me on [email protected] – i know my freelance site is in dire need of an overhaul, its somethink i plan to do now that i have more time.

with these new changes come some great opportunities that i cant yet talk about yet and it presents challenges mostly financial. i am praying that God blesses my freelance work and provides me with lots of clients so that i can work hard and earn the money needed to keep me financially stable. i am praying that the right opportunities come through and that i can have the wisdom to discern which ones to go for, which ones to pass up (probably not many!) and how to take things like brushing my web design/development skills back up to speed (lots of reading to be done no doubt).

hopefully with the new changes and new beginnings i will also have time to blog a little more too!

Student finance shenanigans

just an update on my student life, will get to why the title in a mo. this year i was doing whats called the Professional Pathway (PP) scheme with Uni which meant i did a uni equivalent of a modern apprenticeship – work 4 days study 1 etc. i have to admit initially it was a great thing but it came with its own challenges the biggest of which was time management and particularly with the switch between, work and studies and back again.

one of my biggest problems this year was that because my job involves a lot of first line support there would quite often be urgent issues coming in on a tuesday which was my day when i attended lectures, Tuesday being the offices busiest day never helped either. this often left me the dilemna of do i focus on fixing the work issues or switch off and focus on the lecture material. i have to admit here i let work take the priority more than not, in some situations it was entirely approriate but other times it really could have waited until later that day or the following day, i have been lucky that it didn’t affect me too much

my second issue for which is one of the primary reasons why i am not going to do PP next year (i will be returning back into full time studies in october) was that PP students were still expected to meet the same deadlines as full time students, i raised this issue several times with no resolution but to put it into perspective so that it doesnt sound like a small thing, full time students in second year this year were only attending university 3 days out of 5 a week, this mean if we just rule out a day at uni as busy and only take week days into consideration full time students had 2 free days a week in which they could do personal studies and coursework (now i will admit that i would likely have spent it working part time to combat some of the student loans etc and many students do) a PP student on the other hand spends 1 day at university attending lectures and the other 4 days working by basic maths it works out that full time students have 2 days per week extra time in which to do the work set, when you set the same deadlines that full time students found hard to meet then you can understand how much harder it is for PP students.

this wasnt the main reason i decided to return to full time studies though, the other was that i felt the organisation of the PP course was utterly shambolic, there were times when i asked for help and got nothing, there were several times where said i was unable to do something or meet a deadline due to work related changes meaning i couldnt do my original project proposal and effectively had to start again (1 week before the first deadline was due) i got nothing but an ok, submit an extenuating circumstances form and let us know when you had a proposal, the lecturer ignored my question asking about other alternatives if i couldnt find a new project proposal, let alone my questions about the further deadlines. as a result i was basically ignored, missed the deadlines and was as good as screwed. this was all at a time when i wasnt motivated about uni which did not help at all so it ended up that i will fail the main module from this term. the options for me were to quit uni altogether (i dont want to give up again) repeat the year (if this year was anything to go by it wouldnt solve the problem) or go back into fulltime education, the choice was a logical one to make.

so that leads me on to the post title, because i wont be working fulltime (i may only have odd freelance work and i have to support myself) i need to apply for student loans, went through the process fine no bother and get to the end and am told i can have the maintenance loan but not the tuition fees loan (approx £3300 for 2010/2011) upon querying it i have since found out that students only get full support for the years of there degree plus an extra year (to account for repeats), this shouldnt be a problem for me because my degree was a 3 year one and i had only just completed my second year (it was part time so i have to effectively restart the second year to do the missed modules) so i should be on my 3rd year of support out of a max of 4, i have since been told that they took my first attempt at uni into account as well so i have technically already studied for 3 years. no problems i should get the 4th year of support….

not exactly, the 4th year is always reserved for the final year of studies. which leaves me in a sticky situation and begs the question that i am sure many people who have gotten into similar situations as myself have no doubt asked. if the fees loan is reseved for the final year so i cant get the loan for this current years studies, how do they expect me to even reach my final year?

so at this moment in time i have no idea how things are going to turn out. Student Finance have clear rules and will not deviate from them. i have to work out how to effectively come up with £3000 to pay for uni tuition fees to get through this year, i have savings but if i used that i would be clearing them out and would have no saftey buffer if things really did hit the fan (besides i was saving that money for future rainy days/buying a house deposit/getting married? – ok being presumptous on that one but a man can plan cant he?). i am praying that i get most of my deposit back from the old flat so that i can at least have a safety margin again of something, and i am praying that i get a lot of freelance work that i can do in my spare time to help fund things

i have to admit that i am pretty annoyed at this although in reality its just the rules of the situation so i have nothing to be annoyed about except myself, i am just pretty annoyed that the rules werent clear in the first place. but oh well life moves on, i can only pray that God reveals the correct solution to the problem because he has already made it clear that it is the right path to be on so i am quietly confident that it will all come good.

wow long post, but glad to get it off my chest.