Turns out I start a blog much faster when I don't need to build it. I had a template for this in jigsaw, then a full blown Laravel blog, but always wanted something done in my way.
Eventually realised I have too many other projects far more interesting than building a blog so would never get round to it, and time is probably better spent writing posts on a blog that exists, than slowly building a blog no one ever sees.
Thus the lesson for the day is the old classic: "When it's not important, don't build it yourself"
One quick custom hashnode design and I'm up and running.