Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Starting a new chapter...becoming a software developer

An update.

If you are an avid reader of Gingerbread Smiles or know me in 'real life', you'll know my life story and that I had been working in marketing. I'd been doing that for the past eight years and for a while now I've known that I needed a change. Although I did enjoy what I was doing, what I needed was something new. A new challenge. Something that would play to my strengths.

I'm not going to lie, I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. I had to look around to see what I liked the look of, and what I was really going to enjoy on a daily basis. As I'm a homeowner and someone who likes the luxuries of life - like our holidays to America and going out to eat - I knew that taking too much time out of employment was not really an option. So, unfortunately, a three-year degree was off the table. Don't get me wrong, if that's what I needed to do, we would have found a way.

However, in my searches, I came across a coding bootcamp (Northcoders, located in Leeds) which looked right up my street. I'd learn Javascript, the only main language to run and browsers and servers and the most popular programming language across the world. The course would equip me with the skills to *hopefully* take up a career as a junior software developer.

My first day at Northcoders

Well, I stumbled across this in January this year, and as they say the rest is history. I'm now right in the midst of it, in week five in fact. It's been a fast-paced and exciting few weeks and I can't quite believe we've progressed so quickly and that we've learnt as much as we have. For the first three weeks, we took on the fundamentals. Although we had to undertake a 'pre-course' to ensure we were all on the same level, the fundamentals really delved into the basics and ensured we could all write what we needed and have the building blocks for our next modules.

Polaroid photo on the wall

For the past five weeks, I've been so into the world of coding that I've been going to sleep thinking of solutions to problems we've been working on. But... I love it. I think that is what matters. I have not been dreading any day. I feel so much happier and I've got all my fingers and toes crossed that at the end of this I get to start a career in the tech world.

Show and tell with drinks - Northcoders

As I have plenty of time to waste on the train to and from Leeds every day, and there is only so much Netflix one girl can take, I want to start keeping my blog updated regularly. So I'm looking to do an update on the course after every block and throw a few food blogs in there too. Oh and maybe write about last year's American trip...

Monday, 8 April 2019

Flying to the West Coast - Los Angeles

Following our previous trip to America in 2017, we have quickly become obsessed with America and doing trips where we visit multiple locations. That meant that we had to book up to now go and see what the West Coast had to offer. To be honest, I think I was more excited about this trip than the last because of how amazing the first one was.

For this one, I got back on Skyscanner and scoured the website for great flight prices and times that would fit with the time we could get off from work. Once I'd manipulated our schedule within an inch of its life, we had our final itinerary. This was a big trip as it would be Matt's 30th Birthday when we were out there. First stop L.A, second stop Las Vegas and finishing up in San Francisco. Literally typing that makes me smile and want to desperately go back ASAP. I should add, we had one special item that we had to fit into the schedule and what made finalising our schedule so difficult, we were adamant that we'd make it to UFC 229. If you're into MMA at all, you'll know that this was a massive card for UFC in which Connor McGregor was defeated by the Eagle, Khabib Nurmagomedov. So with the dates boxed in, we awaited our first flight to L.A.

If you've grown up as a 90s child like me, you know that L.A featured in a lot of the TV programmes of our generation. I'm thinking Beverley Hills 90210, The OC and The Hills. We were finally going to step foot in the places that these iconic shows were filmed. For our stay in L.A we got our first Airbnb, and what a precious, amazing and fantastically located one it was. We stayed near West Hollywood, close to Fairfax and Melrose, and we couldn't have picked a better spot. We were right next to The Grove which had some great shops and restaurants as well as a TRADER JOE'S (can you tell I was excited about this) and a Whole Foods.

Our little Airbnb was basically someone's garage that they had converted but it was away from the main house and had lots of privacy. It had a bed and lounge area, a bathroom with a shower and a kitchen area too. Everything you need for a short stay and our host was super nice.

So what did we do whilst we were in L.A?

On the first night we got there, we did exactly as I had planned - went to THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY. If you know me, you know I love food, especially anything faddy that I will have probably seen other American's eating on Youtube. The Cheesecake Factory was definitely one of these places. The food didn't really live up to the hype, but oh wow, the cheesecake certainly did. I got some sort of heavenly smores one and it took me two days to eat because it was so sickly sweet.

After we ate, I obviously insisted we went to Trader Joe's. I watch too many American's on Youtube and they always go to Trader Joe's and talk about the amazing stuff they get here, so I really really wanted to go. It was everything I dreamed of and more and I did not get to spend enough time there. We picked up some cereal and on another trip there I got some funky Mexican salsa (that I then had to pack three times over as we went between locations - clearly a great idea...).

The next day we went hiking up to the Griffith Observatory so we could pretend to be in Charlies Angels 2 (or maybe not). It was a short hike but it gave your amazing views of the city and you could even see the Hollywood sign - probably the closest we got to it all trip.

The next day was pretty cool as we decided to spend our morning in Beverley Hills (you bet the Weezer song was in my head whilst we were there) and we spent an extortionate amount of money on candles and fitness gear. We also got attacked by a GIANT bug whilst eating our lunch which was pretty horrific.

However, after this, we took an Uber to Hollywood Boulevard to see Jimmy Kimmel Live! If you are going to L.A and want something free and totally unique to do, I definitely recommend trying to get tickets to a TV show filming like this. I realised we could do this a week or so before and was lucky enough to get tickets to the one we wanted in which we saw RYAN FREAKING GOSLING and Dana White (UFC President - very apt for our trip). There aren't many people allowed in for each taping so you feel so close to the guests. It's definitely a great experience.

Then on our final day in L.A, we decided it was time to head to the beach. Get the real West Coast experience. We got an Uber to Santa Monica, which I might add was super easy, and then we had a good old wander. Took in the pier, the beach and the shops. Had taco's on National Taco Day on the seafront and then took ourselves on a walk down the coast to Venice Beach. We kind of which we hadn't as it made us feel quite on edge. I wouldn't recommend it really, if I did it again, I'd stay in Santa Monica.

Overall our trip to L.A was so incredible, made better by our fantastic Airbnb and the use of Ubers - they are a must in America. As I'm having such a great time reliving this trip, I will be looking to write up the other two destinations on our trip, Las Vegas and San Francisco - and maybe a couple of hints and tips posts. Hope you enjoyed the read!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

When in Atlanta, Georgia - Travelling in America

Atlanta Georgia Travel Walking Dead Skyline

It’s over a year now since we stepped foot in Atlanta. A place we weren’t planning on going but stumbled across it in a bid to go to another Southern destination. Thinking back now, I actually can’t remember what made our minds up about visiting but it was another great stop on our trip to America last year.

Atlanta is a big place and it’s not really your typical tourist location like New York or New Orleans but it does have some good places to visit and interesting things to see.

We’d booked tickets to go to an NFL game whilst in Atlanta and this was certainly a highlight. I didn’t know what to expect going into it as I had heard the games were long and to be honest I didn’t really get what was going on most of the time. The day before the game we wandered to the Mercedes Benz Stadium where the Falcons play and it was epic. First of all, it was enormous, second it was all new and modern and third it was just a breathtaking place to be. It definitely got me excited for the game.

The next day the stadium was packed. Floods of people arrived in red Atlanta jerseys and blue Miami Dolphins jerseys. It was a fantastic atmosphere. The opening of the game had us hyped for the next three hours with cheerleaders, music, video and pyrotechnics. There was always something going on throughout the time we were there to keep the audience engaged and when Atlanta scored, it was very exciting. Just a shame it was a low scoring game and at the end, the Dolphins took the win!

Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game
Atlanta Falcolns NFL Mercedes Benz Stadium Football Game

A gem of a find we came across whilst wandering around Atlanta was Ponce City Market. Here there were lots of shops and places to eat as well as on the top floor rides and carnival games. We had a look in the daytime and decided to come back on the night to really experience all it had to offer.

What was great about PCM was that you put money on a special card that you could top up whilst you were there and then whatever you wanted to eat, drink or do, you just swiped this card. We had some drinks, played lots of games and won cuddly toys and had a go on the different rides as well as a game of crazy golf. This was all against a stunning backdrop of Atlanta at night.

Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Ponce City Market Atlanta Georgia America The Roof Travel
Atlanta Halloween House Decorations, Georgia America
Atlanta Georgia Centennial Olympic Park America

These were the two highlights of our time in Atlanta although we did also visit Centennial Olympic Park, visited the World of Coca-Cola (wouldn’t recommend) and got to see lots of houses dressed up for Halloween! If you are stopping by Atlanta for a few days, I’d definitely make sure it’s when Atlanta are playing at home and get yourself to Ponce City Market.
© gingerbread smiles.

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