A highlight of the Code Enigma year is our Away Week. It provides a valuable opportunity for us, a fully remote company, to actually get together in person: it's a chance for us to take stock, to celebrate our successes and to look forward with renewed purpose, vigour and determination!
We also drink a fair bit of wine...
We last got together in Tuscany, Italy in July 2019 in the beautiful surroundings of the Villa Fabbroni... little did we know as we hugged and waved our fond-courtyard-farewells that it would be four long years before we'd be able to get together again but finally, this year, we did just that. This time we chose to meet in Flaux, the beautiful village in Southern France where Greg and Kuki live. It proved to be the perfect location as friends, Cecille and Laurent own and run the Chambres d'hôtes Restaurant located right in the village centre, which provided the ideal base for us to eat, socialise and relax in the evenings.
All of the team except Dioni and our super Systems Administrator, Nick were able to make it to Flaux in person... not wanting to leave Nick out, we "dialled" him in via Google Meet and found a suitable highchair on which to perch the laptop... come on Nick, open wide... just one more spoonful of peas!
Making a return appearance this time was Dan, he hadn't been able to make the most recent Away Weeks, so it was extra special to see him again! It was also the first Away Week experience for Matty, Phil and Sunil, colleagues who had joined Code Enigma since the last time we met together! A particular thank you goes to Sunil for introducing my youngest daughter to the Twenty Questions game which we played for a good portion of the 16 hour journey home!
We were joined one sunny afternoon on the terrace by Nicolas, a freelancer who has done so much valuable worked with Code Enigma over the years... he likes to ride his bicycle crazy-long distances and had been on a tour in the area. It was lovely for him to take a few hours out of his day to come and meet us all in person and all our suspicious were confirmed: he's a super-lovely chap!
It was also very nice to see David and his dog, Roy... David started working with Code Enigma in 2020 and thoroughly delighted all of our support customers with his attention to detail and high quality of work. He recently decided to take up an opportunity with the French government and as he lives in Montpellier, very close to Flaux, it was just a short drive for him to join us for an afternoon and evening! David is a larger than life character and we shall miss his always-happy demeanour and smile! Bon voyage, David!
The final guest making an appearance this year was Pascal, who, in typical previous Away Week fashion, did his level best to drain the reserves of red wine... he failed in his valiant endeavour but it was great to catch up with him and hear about his adventures since leaving Code Enigma.
We tend to structure our away week days with sessions in the morning and activities in the afternoon... typically we use one morning to cover ISO training, which is a particular highlight (as Matty has everyone on the edge of their seat with his presentation) but our usual state of the nation slot, because we hadn't been together in person for so long, was given over to an informal round-the-room sharing session... it was particularly heart-warming to palpably feel the genuine sense of comradery expressed by everyone present. On another morning, we split into operations, systems and development teams for more focused sessions on the specific areas of the business we work in.
Some of the activities involved eating... actually, we did a lot of eating... on one such occasion, we visited an exceptionally good restaurant in Nîmes called Le Caboulot de la Sérendipité where the food delighted us all!
During the same outing we visited the Arena of Nîmes, which was built shortly after the Colosseum of Rome. It was an incredibly hot day and whilst looking down from the highest tier of the terraces, the heat seemed to intensify in the bowl-shaped structure. It was sobering to imagine the place filled with 24,000 spectators gathered to watch what was, back then, considered entertainment.
The only sad thing about the away week was how quickly it was over... I'm sure we'll all look back on it with fondness and will continue to build on the strong relationships we already had, but were deepened during our wonderful time together in Flaux.