A big thank you to everyone here and on BCUK who sent me birthday wishes last week. I was working in Bristol all week so was unable to respond at the time.

I had a splendid birthday, despite working. R & M, the other members of my team gave me gifts and cards on the day, a friend had sent a card to the hotel I was staying in, and I had phone calls and emails during the day.

We celebrated, in a restrained manner, here http://www.goldbrickhouse.co.uk/. The food and wine were excellent.

The day before M had asked me how I felt about turning 50, and , although, I ‘d been thinking about it myself, the question came as a bit of a surprise. In some ways it’s just another day, after all I was working, away from home and family, with no time to relax; but it’s an opportunity to reflect, because as a society we like to mark round numbers (my sister called it my “golden” one when we spoke at the weekend.

When I turned 40 I was in a relationship going nowhere and pretty unhappy about it. In fact turning 40 and realising we were coming up to 10 years together made me think a lot about what I wanted – and five months later I got out.

I was very over-weight and unhealthy.

I hated the job I was doing. I had been involved in a big systems implementation and when all the consultants and temps left, I was left holding the baby. I wasn’t allowed to return to my “real job” and had to provide system support and development; it was soul-destroying and making me ill.

Turning 50: I’m in a great relationship and happy in my work (as much as I can be with our workload. The old body needs a bit of work on it, though. Having lost a lot of weight and become a gym-bunny in my 40th year, my 44th year brought knee-trouble and the reduction in mobility means I’ve put back on more than is reasonable.

The future: My boss retires in three weeks so there will be changes at work, and my Mam’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s means that on the family-front life will be tricky. On the personal front; those pounds have got to disappear, although this time round I’m not planning to take up residence at my local gym!