I’ve run the gamut, A to Z. Three cheers and dammit, C’est la vie. I got through all of last year, and I’m here. – “I’m Still Here”, Follies, Sondheim.

Twenty years ago I saw in the Millennium, at home recovering from flu. My daughter was a toddler, I had no money, and was just beginning my career in web design. I had no idea what building websites would lead to, or what the web would look like 20 years on.

Given my status as an early bird, I’m fairly unlikely to still be awake at midnight in the UK to see in 2020. In fact I’ll probably be having my breakfast as the East Coast of the USA are celebrating, before heading out to do two New Year’s Day parkruns. So here is my 2019 roundup.

2019 by the numbers

Tripit tells me I have traveled 202,092 km to 53 cities in 13 countries. I was on the road for 171 days in total. I’ve traveled fewer miles though been away from home longer than last year as I’ve been trying to combine trips where possible, rather than fly back and forth. None of this was vacation, but conference and W3C related travel.

Strava has logged 818 miles run, 1501 cycled, and 36 hours of swimming.

Notist reminds me I spoke or gave a workshop 30 times.


My Notist Profile lists all of my past and upcoming speaking engagements, other than in-house workshops or talks. Many of these pages linked below contain video, resources, and links to the hundreds of code examples I create to go along with my talks and workshops.


I’m incapable of having a thought without turning it into a 2,000 word essay, I’m happy with the collection of words I’ve created in the past year. Some of them seem to have been useful to other people. I try and keep the work page on this site relatively up to date with things I have published. Here are some of them:


I have been writing for MDN throughout the year, documenting CSS Layout, updating the Learn CSS section of the site, and trying to keep the Browser Compat Data for CSS up to date. MDN is such an important resource for the web community, it has been a privilege to be able to direct so many of my words there.

Get Ready For CSS Grid Layout, 2nd edition

Also this year I updated my little guide to grid layout – Get Ready For CSS Grid Layout. The first edition was published long before grid shipped in browsers, so it seemed fitting that this update was published just as subgrid was becoming a possibility.

CSS and the W3C

I have just come to the end of my first full year as the representative for Fronteers at the W3C. This has meant attending Advisory Committee meetings in addition to the CSS Working Group. I’m not a fan of meetings in general, however I have enjoyed discovering more about how the W3C works, and I will be continuing as the representative for Fronteers in 2020.

You can find out a little bit about that work in the video of my talk at Fronteers Conference this year.

One of the ways I’ve been involving Fronteers members in the work of the CSS WG has been in running spec reading workshops. A group of us get together and read through a spec. In addition to helping attendees understand how to read a spec, these workshops have led to actual changes in the specifications. Having new eyes on a spec can really help to clarify it, and to identify places where new diagrams or information would be useful.


I am co-editor of the Multiple-column Layout spec, and we read through the Editor’s Draft in the first workshop I ran for Fronteers. This resulted in a number of edits, which are now part of the Working Draft I published on the 15th October. my next move is to return to working on the test suite, as I would love to get multicol back to CR status soon.

Smashing Magazine

I published a review of 2019 from a Smashing perspective over at Smashing Magazine today. It’s been a good year. We have published an article almost every working day, the conference team have brought four wonderful conferences to life, and we’ve published two books and a print magazine. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the plans we have been making come to life in 2020.

CSS Layout News

I have continued to post CSS Layout News each week throughout 2019. There are almost 11,000 subscribers and I have a whole year of sponsorship slots to fill if you would like to help pay for the ever-increasing costs of sending the thing!


Our application for public speakers continues to grow steadily. A lot of people seem to really like it, some have even paid for pro accounts. The topics page is always interesting to me, as there are huge collections of materials on many different topics, with more video than I ever imagined being included – here is design for example.

Running and Triathlon

I’ve had a really good year for sport in 2019. I started working with a new coach in the middle of the year. I’m highly motivated and also used to correcting myself due to my background as a dancer, I also travel far too much to have regular in-person appointments with a coach, so I opted for remote coaching. I found Laura Henry and Team MPI via the Women in Triathlon Facebook Group, and she has managed my hectic schedule and the challenges I face due to my mangled arm amazingly well.

I don’t need encouraging to work out, what I needed was someone to help me work smarter, to make progress despite traveling so much, and to stop running myself into the ground and bouncing from injury to injury. That is what Laura has given me, and I’m heading into 2020 with fewer niggles, less stress over what I should be doing, and some nice successes to build on.

In 2020 I tackled a 70.3 (half-ironman distance) triathlon for the first time. I made two attempts at the course, the first I had to DNF half way through the bike leg when my entire right arm locked up into my shoulder leaving me without safe control of my bike. I have significantly reduced range of movement and nerve damage in my right arm due to an accident in 2013; the cold swim (with less than perfect technique) was ultimately what took me out of the race. I worked on my swim, and the other parts of the race, and in August managed to complete the same course. It wasn’t fast or pretty – but for someone who has learned to cycle and swim as an adult, and with a disability which causes problems in both of those disciplines, it was a huge achievement. I can’t wait to do it again in 2020, and rather than just get round, have the confidence to race it and improve my time.

I also traveled with my bike to Chicago, when there for An Event Apart, and did the Chicago Triathlon. It ended up being a duathlon as the lake wasn’t safe to swim in. However the biggest challenge of that trip was putting my bike back together in the hotel room!

In September I did the Berlin Marathon, which I had to defer in 2018 due to a flu virus. It was dreadful weather and I’d not done as many long runs as I would have liked due to IT Band niggles and being in the middle of fairly intense travel, but I had great fun. I did encounter the worst portaloo I have ever seen however, while waiting at the start. Drew and I both have places for Berlin next year, in addition to Manchester Marathon in the spring. I’m hoping to be able to improve my times in 2020.

I’ve also had fun doing local races and parkruns while traveling, along with encouraging conference runners out at all of the Smashing Conferences.


I’ve not got much further with my PPL. The weather in Bristol, and the lack of aircraft availability at my flying school worked to make it almost impossible to fly when I was home. I’ve decided to go finish my license abroad – probably in Florida. Due to the next item in this round-up I put that idea on hold until 2020, but I am really looking forward to re-starting my training.

I bought a house

While writing out my goals for 2019 I wrote in my planner buy a house. We’ve never owned a house. I was young and worked in theatre when my daughter was born, by the time I was earning enough money to make buying even possible, I was funding her dance school and college. That’s not a decision I regret – training and education are far more valuable than material things – however having to ask permission to hang a picture in my rented house was getting a bit tiresome. I am also aware aged 44, that having the security of property is probably a good thing.

I wrote buy a house in my planner, and a detailed set of steps that would get us there, and we just celebrated Christmas in our new home. Rather boringly, the way I got us here was by the somewhat passé method of working very hard and very long hours. I wish I had some magic beans that achieved these things with a 40 hour workweek, but it’s never worked out that way for me! I know that when I want something, it’s probably going to involve my nose meeting the grindstone – whether that’s work, sport, study or anything else. I feel I’m fortunate to be in a position to do work that is interesting to me, and that I am in good health and able to do it.

The Rachel of the year 2000 had very few opportunities as a young mum, with a theatre background and no education. The fact that working hard at this web thing has enabled me to put my daughter through school, and finally get us onto the housing ladder is amazing. Even more so is the fact that the things I have worked on have been useful to the people who come to tell me about how my books, articles or talks have helped them get started with this web thing.

On to 2020. Happy New year!

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