Jan 21

Half Notes 2023 H2

Right, I’m really not doing a lot of this blogging, am I.  But for my own record, here’s what I got up to in the 2nd half of 2023.

Looking up the snowy slope we're about to climb,, bright blue skies
The view up the slope to Cabane des Vignettes
  • In July, I headed to Arolla in Switzerland with Jagged Globe, for an Alpine Mountaineering Course.  It was excellent, with a lot of new skills learnt and a lot of “fun” toiling up mountains, through snow and across glaciers. 
  • I had more trips to the Brecons, In August and September. Up and down the usual hills, having my usual fun and outdoor experiences.
  • A lot of the training was with the target of the South Coast Challenge (half), which is from Eastbourn to Brighton. Unfortunately my body decided no, with a very bad hip, so I withdrew at the 25k marker. It took a few weeks before I was out again.
  • The biggest news was I took a 3 month sabbatical, before moving on from transitioning away from Strat House.  The market has been very quiet this year, with little of the work I excel at. Very few people were buying our products. We tried a few routes to new business, but no bites were had.  Given this, I took a step back to reassess where I am going – which is to move away from Strat House.  But before jumping into looking for something different, I took 3 months to just have a break.  October was about closing a few things down (I was judging some awards) and setting up the next few months.  November was time for something completely different – helping restore a nuclear bunker in Edinburgh. Then back home for December for Christmas things and more “me-time” – a mis of walking, volunteering, gaming and just chilling, something I have not really had the chance to do for years.
  • The November trip was in 2 parts – the road trip and the stay at the bunker.  With the road trip, I forced myself to be a little less organised than I would normally be and did not have all the hotels booked before I started, thus giving me some flexibility.  I did have a rough plan –  it was all about adding more cathedrals to my visited list, but I had plenty of scope to do other things, having gave myself 5 days to do the journey.  On the way up, I visited Lincoln, Ripon, Wakefield, Newcastle and Durham Cathedrals, plus Edinburgh.  On the way back, it was visits to Carlisle and Chester.  There was definitely a St Cuthbert theme to many of these cathedrals, and I added to it by heading to Lindisfarne Priory on Holy Island before taking a Seal watch tour to the Farne Islands, which is where Cuthbert was a hermit for a while.
  • Other places visited on my trip included a quick stop at the Angel of the North and Bamburgh Castle on the way up to Edinburgh and Gretna Green on the way back.
  • My stay on Edinburgh was at the Barnton Bunker, a WW2 and Cold War installation that over the years had been neglected, vandalised and burnt. The team behind it are slowly restoring it with the help of volunteers and tradesman, with the volunteers doing a lot of the unskilled work, (eg lots of clearing land) but bringing relevant skills if possible.  Many sign up via Workaway.   Another push outside my comfort zone, staying with a mix of people in shared accommodation. I was lucky with my own room – although it was in a caravan with  no water or heating!  The advantage of driving up is I’d brought a lot of comforts, including my own bedding, plus an xbox (the wifi was brilliant)  We were asked to give 20 hours a week, with the rest of the time our own. Many of the team were from other countries, so did a lot of tourist activities; as I’d lived in Scotland for years not so much of that for me, but I did catch up with friends.
  • For one of my days, I headed over to Glasgow for round 2 of the application process for volunteering at the Glasgow World Indoor Athletics champs.  It was far over-subscribed as usual and I did not get one of the 400 slots.  Nor did I get a role at the Paris Olympics/Paralympics; although given the volunteer concern over accommodation that may be a good thing. I am going to be back at the MLB in London this year, as a media team lead, so looking forward to that.
  • In other volunteering opportunities, I’ve joined the “Kinver Environmental” group with the River and Canal Trust. We clearing land, weeding, hedging, litter-picking and all sorts of activities to make the mile or so stretch around Kinver lovely (and accessible). I’ve also joined the village climate committee and will be helping on their website and other things
Sep 06

Quarter Notes 2 2023

Teams Line up for anthems at the Cubs v Cardinals MLB game, London Stadium
MLB at the London Stadium
  • For Easter, I headed up to the peaks at Castleton for a few walks.  Mam Tor is well known and very popular.  There were a LOT of people taking advantage of some nice-ish weather along the Great Ridge. The next day I headed to Kinder Scout, up Jacobs Ladder and following the edge around, back to Edale.  Another popular walk that had plenty of people. This contrasted with the following walk, when I headed south of Castle and saw no-body for the majority of the walk. I had 2 further Brecon’s trips this quarter as well
A view up to Mam Tor from the Great Ridge, showing blue skies and plenty of people
Up to Mam Tor
  • At the end of April, it was a Wine Club weekend, down to the Cotswolds for more wine, walking and good food. The group only get together maybe once a year now, (instead of at least weekly) but we make the most of it
Picture of 3 members of Wine club at patio table with tea, water and crisps
Tea Break for Wine Club
  • The following weekend I headed to London with my sister and nephew for the Coronation weekend. We had a wander round the Mall on the Friday to see the crowds, watched the Coronation on TV and visited Greenwich Maritime museum. The final visit was a treat for the nephew – a chess shop where he spent all his birthday money on various chess sets and books.
View of tents set up along the Mall the day before the Coronation
The Mall at the Coronation
  • The final trip of the quarter was back down to London at the end of June, where I was volunteering at the MLB London series, where the Cubs played the Cardinals. I went into he weekend knowing very little about the sport, but left as a fan. As part of the media team, most of the volunteering work was done prior to the games, with a press conference to support post-game only. So during the game, we were basically up in the media stands, answering any questions and being able to watch the game. I really great weekend – and hopefully I’ll get to do it again next year.
Press Conference for the Cubs
Apr 24

Quarter Notes 1 2023

  • January (and Feb) turned out to be really quiet. Through work, there was a plan for me to head to Dubai for 5-6 weeks, so things were put on hold until that project was sorted.  It never came through (client reorgs meant that it was pulled 3 hours after it was confirmed, that’s what happens when CEOs suddenly depart). So things I was meant to be booking and doing did not happen, as could not risk the having to cancel and losing money)
Selfie of Anne and me on the Shropshire Hills
Out Orienteering
  • One thing I did at the start of month was give some Orienteering a go. A nearby club had laid out a course in the Shropshire Hills (near Church Stretton) and one of the people I was in Nepal with suggested we gave it a go. Some good running around hills, some navigation practice and finishing up with some chocolate at the final checkpoint.
  • With the free weekends, I was walking around Kinver, with the occasional trip out, mainly into various Shropshire Hills. I’m tracking my “summits” on a list and some of these trips are driven by getting another hill.
Me holding up my Winter Run Medal, next to a man in a Polar bear costume
The obligatory polar bear picture
  • It’s another year, another winter run. I now have 10 medals from this series, although not 10 events, as one year they sent out 2 and another it ended up being virtual. My favourite race of the year
  • One thing I have been focusing on is getting out and about in the village, trying various groups. So far I have been to a quiz, to a “learn to sing the Hallelujah chorus in 2 hours” session and a murder mystery evening. I’ve joined a book club and joined in some volunteering efforts, such as clearing vegetation. I’m continuing looking at events and gatherings to widen my local network
Picture of daffodils from a low angle, with church wall behind. One daffodil has fallen flat
Daffodils at the Church
  • Kinver has a daffodil festival, so some of the family came across and we had a wander up to the church to take some photos and eat some cake.
  • I headed across the Outdoor expo again this year; saw some good talks and bought a new pair of leggings from Tyna, a new company to me, with some cracking designs!
Pile of aircraft parts, from 1942 crash. Memorial in the background
Wreckage of a Wellington, crashed in 1942
  • Made my first trip to the Brecons of the year, back to my usual hostel at Talybont. I’m going to be doing some hunting for some aircraft wreckage, as a way of practicing navigation.  Found my first one – although it was a little obvious, being on a path. Future ones will require a little more skill!
Jan 24

Quarter Notes 4 2022

Dhaulagiri Mountain form the south. Snow covered mountain, with blue sky
Dhaulagiri Mountain
  • A gentle start to the quarter…the Virtual London Marathon 😊  Having spent most of the year training for hills, with the longest distance a half marathon, why shouldn’t I be able to complete the 26.2 miles needed.  Well, it turns out that climbing up mountains with long days on feet does allow you to get round the distance. Not running though.  I started off with a mix of running and walking, then mainly just walking by the end of it. I passed a number of other people doing the same event, which was nice, high fives shared. Being mainly self-supported, I was carrying a pack with water, food and waterproofs. More weight than you would expect for a marathon, but it was part of the training.  Came back via one sister’s where I got a cup of tea and some haribo, the sugar being exactly what I needed. Then met with other sister who did the final five miles with me, ending up walking around the park a few times. That was at least what the app told me – Steve Cram chiming in with congratulations as the mileage ticked hit 26.2. Unfortunately my Garmin was only at 25.3, so that could not stand. I finished off the last bit with a walk to the pub, then a bit more outside the house.
  • Then I headed to Nepal – and full details of the trip can be found in Part 1 – getting to the start, Part 2 – up to Italian Base Camp and Part 3 – over the French Col and home
  • November was fairly quiet, catching up on work and things. At the end of the month, I headed back to the Brecons for more walking. The weather was not good, so stayed lower but got a couple of great walks in the bag.
  • December was quiet at the start, but then sped up. The house in Kinver was so nearly there, after we tried to complete in November, it finally went through on 9th Dec. Luckily I didn’t have to move in straight away, as the flat in Clent was still mine for a few months.  But I did end up camping there a bit before moving just before Christmas.  It’s still not tidied up yet though.
  • I had a couple of London trips, one for the team Xmas lunch, one for business meetings.  With the rail strikes, I missed most of the Xmas lunch as the coach was very delayed, both coming and going. Not trying that again!
  • Christmas was excellent with the family, with the usual dinner at Mom’s.  There was a Christmas day parkrun and a Boxing day walk with the family. 
  • I headed out to Brecon for my traditional New Year’s walking weekend. The weather was terrible, lots of rain and wind, but did manage to get 4 more hills in for the list.  Across the 3 days walks I did 2 Bronze Age hill Forts, a Roman fort, a Roman camp and 2 roman roads.
Selfi on top of a hill - trig marker behind me with a red welsh dragon
Another summit – Pen Y Crug
  • I also captured another cathedral – Brecon. Looking at Flickr, I’ve done 15 in England and Wales, only another 29 to go 🙂
An image looking down the nave of Brecon Cathedral. Arches to each side, the font in the back before a stanined glass window
Brecon Cathedral
Sep 30

Quarter Notes 3 2022

Another episode of the quarter notes, written purely for my benefit so I can remember what I was up to!

A bowler throws to the batter; behind them the Media Stand
T20 Cricket at Lords
  • I started the quarter with another trip to London, this time to go to my first cricket match, a T20 country game at Lords. I’d been invited along by a Twitter Friend to learn about the game as I had never watched it and my placement at the Commonwealth Games was at the Cricket. Excellent time was had a Lords – even if my first impression of the Pavillion was a sea of men in blazers, with the only women being staff members.
  • I added another Michelin restaurant to the list, this time Wild Honey.  An excellent lunch.
Leather Glad men marching at Pride
Pride Parade, London
  • The Saturday was Pride in London, not something I knew when I booked the weekend. So I had a great time making my way slowly back to the hotel along the route of the parade. I was all in black so very, very underdressed for the colourful crowd, but did have a great time (link to pictures)
view down a hill to a river swimming pool, with children and parents all swimming
The Swimming river at Youlgreve
  • Two days later…tested positive for Covid, my first exposure. Luckily I had a mild case, so minimal impact. I’m not sure when I was exposed, possibly in the travel down to London, but it could have been earlier.  The timing was not good – I was due to be house sitting in Youlgreve for a week – back to the Peaks. A few messages later, the house sitting was still on but my plan to do a lot of walking that week was not happening. I did manage some at the weekend, but before that was not leaving the house and exposing people
view from balcony at Chatsworth. Floor is black and white tiles. walls are covered in classic paintings.
Main Gallery at Chatsworth
  •  I took the opportunity to visit Chatsworth, which was absolutely amazing. I loved how they are still collecting art and mixing this up with the older stuff.
A view looking up at Pen Y Fan and Corn Du mountains. Blue skies so you can actually see them.
Corn Du and Pen Y Fan
  • A week later, I was out walking back into the Brecons. I was staying in a different YHA, this one with a lovely direct route up to Pen Y Fan, that was extremely quiet until the last mile or so. So more distance and elevation achieved.
  • A quiet weekend was had before the Commonwealth Games started. Except for the running accident – I  put my foot in a hole and really strained the ankle. Cue a few days with limited mobility but luckily I had crutches at home.  I kept using them for the next 2 weeks at the Games, as lots of pain. Only nearly 3 weeks later did I feel OK going without them and there was still bruising.
View looking down at the playing field at Coventry stadium, with coloured smoke and fireworks
Smoke and Fireworks at the Rugby
  • You can read my Games  experience here . In addition, I had tickets to see the finals of the Rugby 7s in Coventry on the Sunday, which was an excellent event. 
A view of Fan Y Big, Cribyn, Pen Y Fan and Corn Du. Green hills and blue sky
A view of Fan Y Big, Cribyn, Pen Y Fan and Corn Du
  • Headed back to the Brecons in August, deciding to do the Pen Y Fan Horseshoe The original plan was to walk from the YHA Danyenwalt, making a 18m loop. Two things stopped that, the temperatures and my sore ankle. Next plan was to drive closer to a car park, so I was out the hostel by 700 and parked up ready to go at 730. I headed up to the Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion plateau and made my way to Fan Y Big and Cribyn. At this point the ankle was not happy so I bailed out before Pen Y Fan and headed back. It was still 9.5 miles! And one swollen ankle.
Selfie with the Snowdon Peak marker behind me in the mist
On Top of Snowdon. The peak marker is behind me
  • Next weekend was Snowdon. Again I parked down in Nant Peris, staying in the Pen Y Pass Hostel. At least this time the hostel was doing its own food, unlike the first stay in June. Following morning, off to catch the bus, going down to pick up the start of the Watkins trail, for a steady 1000m of ascent. The bus driver was ready to warn his passengers it was a longer walk, but we were all ready for it.  It started off in good weather, but all you could see ahead was the clouds over the summit. Upwards, most of it a fairly straightforward ascent up clear paths. The last 200m or so was more a slight scramble, with no absolute clear path, made worse by low visibility and a high wind, that fortunately was blowing onto the mountain. Finally got to the top, with a gale and cloud cover – also a queue for the summit marker. I did not wait for it, I’d done the training walk and it was now time to travel back down. I headed down the Miners’ track, straight back to the hostel.  My ankle is still sore, but it’s getting better every day.
  • Another weekend, another hiking trip, but this one was a lot more low key. Up to Bollington to meet a past colleague, with a trip along the Gritstone way and a great night out. With a fair bit of wine. One more small walk in the morning before heading back
  • Next weekend – back to the Brecons. This Horseshoe walk was not beating me!  This time managed the full circuit all the way round, including Pen Y Fan
A group of people in hiking gear, listening to group lead talking about Nepal and Hiking
Taking a break
  • The holiday is getting closer and I headed up to Sheffield on a pre-trip weekend with Jagged Globe. This was for all the groups heading out to Nepal, so there were about 45 people there across about 10 trips.  There was only 1 other person from my trip there – turns out she lives about 3 miles from me 😊  The trip has 7 people listed, let’s hope we all make it out there.
  • I went along to the Wolverhampton Mountaineering club for a couple of indoor climbing sessions In September; the intention is to carry on after Nepal, building up skills for next year.
View of a tree, with college in the background, with light and tree reflected in the windows
Catz Quad
  • I went back to college for a Gaudy again – the last one was in 2016.  A very good turn out of people across the years 83-92.  I was in one of the old rooms, which have magically being turned into en-suite rooms – when I was there, only 3rd years had sinks, now it looks like all have a full bathroom squeezed in.
  • The last outing of the quarter was down to London to speak at a conference about the metaverse (or lack of it). I treated myself to a tasting menu at the Ritz – gorgeous meal.  I particularly liked the at-table preparation of the pigeon and sauce!
Aug 11

Quarter Notes 2 2022

Selfie of me, with trig marker behind me
Me on Wolfescote Hill
  • I started April with a trip to the Peaks. It was supposed to be a walking weekend with my Wine Club weekend, but covid intervened. I ended up visiting on my own for a few walks.
  • The rest of April was very quiet, little done. I carried on with fitness, getting progressively fiter and stronger. I have a weekly session with the PT for strength training and the rest of the time is mainly spent on walking and running, getting in as much elevation as possible
  • At the end of the month, I made a trip down to London for a conference.  I was on one panel and moderated another
Carrots in various form on a black dish
Carrot Dish at the Restaurant Home
  • The following week I headed up to Leeds for another conference, this just listening. It was supposed to be on “the metaverse” (which does not exist) but had morphed to general digital marketing stuff. So not quite what I expected.  Whilst there, I added another fine dining experience, at HOME. I had the tasting menu; there were a few outstanding courses, but in general, was a bit underwhelmed by this.
Image through a pair of iron railing gates of a house
Birks House
  • Whilst I was in the area, I took the opportunity of visit a number of locations associated with my ancestors. A few churches and also Birks House, where John Harpin died after falling on his own sword.
  • The next 2 weekends were spent in the Peak District. The first at Eyam, the second a replay of the Wine Club weekend.   Lots of walking, talking and not quite as much wine as we would have had in the earlier years.
Very bad selfie with only half a face showing; me on the cobbled street of the Royal mile with runners heading down the hill
On the royal mile
  • My Weekends away continued with a trip up to Edinburgh, to take part in the delayed Edinburgh Half Marathon. I’d originally booked it do the full in 2020, but dropped down a level given my current fitness levels.
  • Next I headed to Snowdon for the long Jubilee weekend. For this, I’d booked a guide and we did scrambling and skills weekend. We did not make it to the top of Snowdon but that was never the plan – there’s another weekend for that.
  • June then got busy – I actually got on a plane again. First of all to Amsterdam, for a conference about the Metaverse (which does not exist 😊) and then to Cannes with the work team for the Festival of Creativity. That was a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. We have some work from it, which is excellent, as well as a great list of new contacts.  I also managed to get a great hill walk in at the end of the week, heading up to Grasse and the mountains behind the town.
taken from hotel upper floor, a view of the Cannes beach and bay
A view of the Cannes
Aug 11

Quarter Notes 1 2022

I missed 2 years, but then again, so did a lot of the world.  Now back to usual service of boring blogging.

The big news is I sold the London flat and moved back up to the Midlands, which meant buying a car. Still not bought a new place but working on it

Crouching at the summit marker on Pen Y Fan, 886m high
At top of Pen Y Fan

I started the year with a trip to The Brecons. My trip to Nepal has been postponed twice and is now on for October 2022. But lockdowns and covid messed with my head and I let all the fitness go. So I have employed a personal trainer and making the most of being closer to Wales to get some hills in. The first weekend continues my tradition of going away for New Years, with a trip to Crickhowell for some cold, wet hill walking.

Indoor ice walls, with people holding ropes and climbing the walls
Ice climbing

In February, I finally did my Winter Mountaineering Course. This was cancelled ion 2019 at the last moment – I was actually in Glasgow ready to get on a bus up to Fort William.  Then I was fit, now I was not. I should have delayed, but still made sure I went up, did the skills and made the most of the walking I could get it, even if did not do all the hills with the course.  I also got a great day doing indoor climbing.

people in running gear on the closed roads of London
Winterrun 2022

Immediately after that week, I headed to London for a weekend tourism.  I went to the Theatre to see James McAvoy in Cyrano de Bergerac and then took part on the London Winter Run 10k, maintaining my streak of competing in all these races.  I finished off the weekend with a Sunday lunch at Rules, the “oldest restaurant in London”

selfie with me in a wooly hat with a hill ridge behind me
On a hill top,

At the beginning of March, I was back in Wales, the first of a number of weekends booked at hostels in great walking areas.  This one was at Danywenalt, in the Brecons

Myself and sister stanning in front of the Wolves football pitch with medals after our 10k run
We have our medals
  • The final trip of the quarter was down to the South Coast, to meet up with a work colleague for a few days actually working together.
  • And wrapped everything up with the Wolverhampton 10k, run with my sister.
Apr 07

Quarter Notes 4 2019

Hah. blogging – what’s that?  I see more daily notes happening in these time of lockdowns..so finally documenting what I did in the last quarter of 2019, when the future was rosy, seems a good idea. Remember those times!

View of sea cliffs and sea, with climbers in the back ground
South coast cliffs
  • Bournemouth Half Marathon: I’d originally signed up to the do the full, but with a summer training for a mountain, I decided that switching to the half would be better. A lovely event, although with a route that was a lot of back and forth – and going through the finish line multiple times was a bit weird (weirder for the  full runners I think). I did a coastal walk on the Saturday to get my hill work in.
Two runners heading towards finish with ferris wheel in background.
Runners at Bournmouth Running Festival
  • Pre-Trip weekend: As part of the prep for my trip to Aconcagua, there was a weekend up in Sheffield with Jagged Globe in preparation. Members of all 3 of their expeditions were there, to get an advice and information about the trip. We also did a couple of walks in the peaks to get some time in the hills.  An excellent weekend, although unfortunately I picked up what appeared to be a stress facture that plagued me for the next few months. It didn’t finally clear up until Feb (so I didn’t do the remaining races of the year)
The team lined up with their alpacas
The team and the alpacas
  • Company Meeting:  we had a 2 day company meeting down on the Isle of Wight. All was looking good in our future plans (hah, no one expected a global pandemic). And then we went and walked alpacas
  • Hansard: An actual theatre trip, this time to the national, to see Hansard. This was a 2 parter with Lindsay Duncan and Alex Jennings. Set in the late 80s, a fascinating reminder of the political (and social) attitudes of the time, many (though not all) have moved forward. This kept me focused for the full (interval-less) 90 minutes of the play. Although left with the feeling that white, public school educated men are still in charge and still screwing things up
Mom and Dad posing at their wedding aniversary
Mom and Dad at their wedding anniversary party
  • Mom and Dad Wedding anniversary: the big surprise!. We’d (my sisters and I) had been working on this for at least 6 months.  I’d devised a reason to visit (as I wouldn’t be there for Christmas, I’d come up now for dinner) and the surprise was set. We had organised to have a meal out and wouldn’t give all the details, turns out Mom though we’d set up a small meal with rest of family. She hadn’t realised we’d set up an afternoon tea party with friends and family from the last 50+ years. There were tears of surprise and lots of fun
  • Trip Prep: most of the other ‘events’ in this quarter were about prepping for the Aconcagua trip. Doctors’ visits for vaccinations (Rabies is a very expensive set of injections! Well, expensive for the UK), buying the final bits of kit, getting prescription sunglasses for the mountain). Got all of these fitted in between regular visits to Germany.
  • Aconcagua:  finally, the trip I’d been working for all year. There’ll be a write up at some point, but in general, an excellent trip
Orange and white tent set up at edge of cliff with more tents on plateau below. Mountains in the distance
My tent at camp 3

And that’s it for the year. The business travel has tended to mean my activities are reduced from years before, but the business gives me far more opportunities for expeditions and travel, even if the smaller weekly and weekend events are curtailed.

Oct 08

Quarter Notes 3 2019

Summer is a memory, the leaves are falling and it’s time for quarter notes number 3 of the year.  So what have I been up to?

Henley regatta - dressed up crowds facing the river
  • First up in this quarter was Henley Regatta.  I went on both the Friday and the Sunday this year, catching up with a friend from New Zealand and various army rowing connections.   The weather was excellent, the rowing was great and a really good time was had. 
  • An actual social event with friends! It was a supposed to be a follow up to the earlier walk around Richmond, but with a BBQ at Juliet’s house instead of a pub lunch.  But this time, the others declined to do the walking bit, so I got my training in around Box Hill before joining them for wine and grilled stuff.
  • Quite a few training and running events this quarter. There was a 5k around the Olympic park, a couple of half marathons, an ultra, another 25 walk. There were 3 days along the North Downs Way and plenty of trips to Box Hill.   It is all adding up.  I also had another trip to Chamonix, for an ultra running and yoga retreat. 
  • I had a follow-up MRI scan for the research group I’m part of.  They’d not found any “sinister” issues in the first scan (and that is a terrible word to use in a report!). There will be second follow-up n 6 months time
Jul 14

Quarter Notes 2 2019

Isn’t this year going quickly?  That’s what it feels like – I quite like the theory that years go quicker as you grow older, because they become a smaller fraction of your life.  So, what have I been up to?  Honestly, not a lot.  training, working. But not much else.

Canal in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam canals
  • First up was https://blog.bibrik.com/archives/2019/04/race_report_-_manchester_marathon_2019.htmlManchester Marathon.  And then later on the month was London Marathon. You can read the full reports of those in my earlier posts.
  • Still doing half my time (not quite, but that’s what it feels like) in Germany, so mid-week activities are quite reduced.  Although this quarter, I had a couple of trip to Amsterdam instead, which was a nice change. A couple of meals with friends in the quarter, but not that many.
Yellow Irises bordering a pond, Isabella Plantation.
Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park
  • I tried something a bit different in May, spending a week in the Lake District on a “work from home” week. 
  • Moving into June, I started to up my weekend walking as part of the training plan. My first outing was with a friend to Box Hill, just to get into the groove.  it was definitely a light walk, with me walking ahead on the hills and then back to her, but it was fun to have someone to chat with rather than my usual head down and push approach.   
  • I did a couple of sessions volunteering at #parkrun – but did not manage to actually run a parkrun this quarter except for 1 session at Easter, when I visited family for Easter.
  • I went to a social evening at the London Mountaineering Club, where there was a talk about Aconcagua. Planning on joining this group, to get some walking partners, hopefully.
  • Finally, at the end of the Month, I head to Yestival.

And that was it. Now I feel like I’m missing out!!!

Jul 01

Operation Fitter Rachel – Month 2

Say Yes More sign
SAY YES MORE sign at Yestival

Definitely not the best of months.  A number of routine changes through me off my plan..something I need to work through, as I can’t have that happening again.

The Numbers

  • 30 recorded activities (+1).  9 walks, 14 runs, 6 strength sessions
  • 27 hours of activity (-1)
  • 63 miles (-7)

The month started well, with a local run and then a trip down to Box Hill, with a friend, to get to know the place and do some initial walks.  This was kept slow as my friend was not that fit, but it game me a chance to check out some hills for later use

View from Box Hill over Dorking
View from Box Hill

The next week was a Germany week. I tested out my ability to do routines in hotel rooms – so yes to that, but only managed one small run. Back to Box Hill the end of the week, to find some more hills.  I’m happy now with the options I have, if this is going to be my usual place.

Stag facing me, large antlers, in Richmond Park
A stag in Richmond Park

The following week was also Germany, and this was far better for getting out for sessions.  I had a good session with Trainer, then a hotel strength session, instead of going to the beer festival! I also went for a run with colleagues there, something I’m going to try and do everytime I visit. A run home from park run then a longer run round Richmond Park finished off the week.

View from Beacon Hill, with green fields and blue skies
View from Beacon Hill

The next 2 weeks were where it all went wrong.  I had some days in a clients office in London – and I’d forgotten how tiring the commute is!  Then I sent the week in Amsterdam and had meetings and meals out, so did not manage to put in the time I needed for sessions.  This is all a mental battle, I do have the time available, but my brain plays tricks with me and I end up not doing anything – even though I have kit with me.  This is what I need to focus on for this month – hitting all the planned sessions. I did manage to get out to the Chilterns for a different walk route. Nice to go, but Box Hill wins for closeness.

The last weekend in June, I went to Yestival, so again, no longer walks done.  However, I was inspired by lots of great talks, including one by Jo Bradshaw, about her challenge to do the 7 Summits.  I chatted with her about Aconcagua and it reinforced the need to get the training done…unlike Kili or EBC, you can’t get by with just general fitness.

Trainer sessions seem to be going well, the weights are slowly going up and then I’m taking some of exercises and adding them to my sessions at home.

So mixed month, with some things to think about.  My official 6 months plan started on 24th June, so I am slightly ahead of that, but this month has shown that it can easily slip away if I don’t keep on top of it.

Apr 13

QuarterNotes 1 2019

Weeknotes, monthnotes, annual reviews. I’ve tried them all, depending on how bloggy I feel.  With its restoration, it’s time to try another favour of diary, so it’s time for QuarterNotes!

But! But! What have I actually done this quarter?  Not as much as I could have, I think. As has been my usual, I spent what felt like about half my time at clients in Germany, being in the UK every other week.

  • I finally got to go see Hamilton.  I’d being keeping an eye on the tickets for a while, tried the last minute lottery on occasion and was prepared to buy one of the expensive tickets if I could get one in my preferred row (the one with the extra legroom). In the end, another opportunity came up, a not so expensive ticket in the very front row.  So £75 only, plenty of leg room and really good views of most of the action.  You could see the stage and all the action, just not the footwork.  Excellent show, and much of the music still sticks in my head – especially as it is actually all available on YouTube.  My only disappointment was that it was a downbeat ending, which left you a little flat on leaving
A view from the stage from the front row of Hamilton, empty s it's before the show starts
My front row view
  • Another Michelin restaurant, my first for a while, I took in The Goring after my Hamilton visit.  I had to try the traditional Eggs Drumkilbo, (reportedly the Queen Mother’s favourite)
Glass bowl, with eggs, black caviar, aspic jelly and green leaves of herbs.
Start at the Goring
  • Back to Sheffield the second trip in 4 weeks after my New Year walking trip. this time it was the pre-trip weekend for my Kili trip.  Information about kit, the trip, a walk up in the Peaks and most importantly, a chance to meet all but 3 of my fellow adventurers. 
Sheer cliffs, a quarry in the Peak District. Blue sly and brown grass
Peak District Quarry
  • Another trip round London for the Winter Run 10k. Definitely my favourite race, this was my 5th time running it.
Me next to a Polar bear - a person in a polar bear outfit, after the Winter Run
  • A quick pop over to Barcelona for the F1 testing.  I missed last year, due to uncertainty about jobs, but took the chance this year to go over for a day, spending it in Red Bull hospitality. A most excellent day, I love just being able to watch cars all day, without it being a race.  The following day was spent in the city, having lunch down in the harbour.
Me, next to Max Verstappen, standing in front of a Red Bull back drop
  • The first trip to Kew this year was also accomplished. Taking advantage of a work from home day, with a quiet sunny afternoon available, I walked along the river to spend a couple of hours in the gardens.  I love having membership, it allows you to take advantage of spare hours like this.
Pyramid glasshouses in Kew Gardens. In front there is a sea of golden daffodils

An that’s it really for the first 3months of the year.   One theatre trip, one restaurant. A couple of trips abroad that weren’t work. And a few miles spent running and walking, as always.

Mar 15

2018 Review

I’ve not blogged for nearly a year..how many noticed?  Very few I say, but this is still for me rather than others.  I did eventually fix both my sites, no idea why things worked this time instead of when I have previously tried things…but work it did.

So what did I do in 2018?  Change and challenges is the best overview I think.

We’ll start with the stats!

The stats

  • Swarm checkins: 944 (+101)
  • Countries visited: 5 (-)  (Germany, Spain, Bhutan, Nepal, Austria (just for lunch))
  • Michelin Meals: 2 (-4)
  • Miles run: 62 (- 28)
  • Races completed: 2 (-)
  • Miles walked: 570 (+391)
  • Cathedrals visited: 2 (+1) (Bamberg, Vienna)
  • Movies seen at cinema: 6 (-)
  • Theatre visits: 0 (-2)

There appeared to be a lack of cultural activities.  With training for a long distance walk and then much of my time took up travelling to work abroad, there was less time to get out and do things around town. Something to do more of in 2019.


The first event of note was my first Escape Room, with my German colleagues.  I ended up on the winning team, even if we finished it with only a couple of minutes to spare. 

The only other highlight was a weekend camping out with Adventure Queens.    This is a Facebook group, with the aim of connecting and encouraging women who want to get out and do things.  From doing their first night in a tent to walking around the world, it is a very supportive group, ready to offer support, encouragement, ideas and congratulations to all who post.

Tents in a field, surrounded by trees
Camping out in Guildford


The month started off with one of my regular runs – The Winter Run.  This is my 4th time taking part.  With my overall lack of running miles, wasn’t expecting much, but I did have a great run/walk race.  About a mile in I complemented a fellow runner on her leggings and ended up going round the course with her and getting her to the finish (she’d been about to give up)

I went to The Story conference in the middle of the month – see the previous blog posts for my write up of that day.

This year’s challenge was another attempt at a 100km ultra walk.  After pulling out last year before the event, due to injury, I decided to have another go, so I seriously started my training this month. These walks were usually on my own, but I did get out for a few miles with Wine Club.  As the years go by, we have turned to more than just drinking wine 😊

Four women grinning in the woods
Walking in Surrey woods


This month I made the biggest change.  I stopped working for a company and started my own with a former colleague. In the same area (digital and marketing strategy), but smaller and more targeted.  This took me a long time to make the step (it’s quite scary) but looking back, it was a good thing to do. Year 1 has been great, we’ll see how we go in year 2.

Th first Michelin meal of the year was at Celeste at the Lanesborough. An amazing room and fantastic meal

White plate, with cabbage, stuffed with mince.
Stuffed cabbage at Celeste

More walking this month, with an outing onto the South Downs.  From Arundel, myself and 2 other women from Adventrue Queens headed west to the Gumbar Bothy for a nights camping, before carrying on to Chichester.

Stone barn, with wooden benches in front of it
Gumbar Bothy

The main reason for this was to try out my new rucksack and tent – which I’d bought in preparation for my “holiday” at the end of the month.  It was holiday only in being away from home – I spent a week walking around the Isle of Wight.  In the end, only 2 days camping due to the rain and mud, but a successful perambulation of the island. A total of 73 miles covered across the week.

The Needles, from hill above. Whote chalk pillars in the sea
The Needles
The cliffs on the South of the Isle of Wight Green hills, red stone cliffs. cloud over the sea
sea cliffs


At the end of my week of walking, it was time to start the new “job”.  So instead of going into the office every day, I started to work from home. Initially difficult, I have slowly worked out how to do this, even without a study to work from (the ironing board acts as my desk).

Walk training carried on, along with volunteering at 2 races.  A small one to start with, my running club’s race and then the London Marathon again. Fewer photos this time, but I quite like my Mo Farah picture

Mo Farah, in orange top and blue shorts, running the London marathon in April 2018
Mo Farah


Lots of walking done this month.  Final weeks of training before the main event in the last weekend – walking 100km from London to Brighton.  This was done with Action Challenge, who had great organisation across the event

Me standing in front of a big Finisheer sign, holding my medal
A happy finisher

I’d decided to split this across the 2 days, with camping overnight.  Just over 36 miles on day 1 and 29 on day 2.  Waking up and getting day done was not too bad, it was however far worse on the day after, very hard to walk and feet in agony!  But I did it, in a final walking time of 30 hours, with an elapsed time of about 36 hours.  

When training for this, you only really go up to about 30 miles max – or at least the plan I followed did.  The rest of it is all mental struggle, to just keep pushing onwards.  (although the ability to NOT get blisters is an essential skill)


I managed to remember to get tickets for Trooping the Colour this year. Not the main event, but the one of the 2 rehearsals. An excellent event, definitely something you should go to

A carriage pulle dby two grey horses, making its way across Horse Guards parade in front of a line of red jacketed soldiers
Trooping the Colour
Solidiers on horseback, in a balck jacket with gold frogging
Artillery and guns and horses

Another Wine Club event…this time we headed to Manchester for an attempt at Go Ape.  We generally managed it, except for one obstacle which caused a fair bit of trouble. A very silly afternoon – and at least the rain waited until we had finished.

Four women wearing climbing harneses in the woods
ready to go at Go Ape

One final mini outing was to Kew – I don’t use my membership nearly enough, but I enjoy it when I can

An aisle of trees


A little busier this month.  My ‘regular’ trip to the British Grand Prix for a day in hospitality was made slightly even more sporty by staying to watch England in the football World Cup on telly.  I did a second GP this month, with a trip to the German event.  As I was in Germany for that week, I drove to Hockenheim and camped.

 Parade of cars along Silverstone circuit
Cars at Silverstone

An old school friend was visiting London, so we met up and then joined in with the anti-Trump march for a few hours. The Trump baby balloon that could be found in Westminster Square was something special!

A Baby Trump balloon, orange and snarling
Baby trump

But a sad end to the month as my remaining granddad died. He’d had a fall and had been in hospital; he’d recovered from that but it was too much for his body.

My sister and I, with Granddad, in the 19702.
Sarah and me with Granddad in the 1970s


A fun day at the Running Club sports day. Some serious races and some fun ones, especially the fancy dress.  

3 runners dressed in fancy dress standing on running track
Fancy Dress race

Plus my first geekcon, a trip to Nine Worlds. For some reason, I took no photos here, even of the excellent cos play that was evident 


I spent a lot of this month on Germany, so had a weekend trip out to Bamberg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamberg  which is a World Heritage site.  Fascinating medieval town.

A gate in Bamberg. Tower standing guard at the end of a bridge
Bamberg Gates

And another weekend sent me back to Garmisch and Zugspitze.  This time I took the cable car up and then walked all the way down. A total of 15.6 miles, all downhill, a few scrambles but basically walking. A good day, but my legs suffered the next one!

View from summit of Zugspitze. Blue skies and peaks of mountains sticking through clouds
Looking down
Zugsmoitze mountain, a stony path heading down into the valley
More down

I took the opportunity of having a day with no meetings to fly back from Germany the long way round, via Vienna.  I booked flights with a long lay over and nipped into the city to see the cathedral and to have lunch

Vienna cathedral Whote and brown tiled floor, long columns
Vienna Cathedral


This was a month of seconds.  My second Michelin meal of the year was at Bibendum  Another superb room and great meal. And the following weekend I ran my second race, the Royal Parks half, on a day that started wet but eventually dried out.

A sweetbread on a white place, with black and white dolups of puree and sauce

The next weekend was spent at Yestival, a festival dedicated to adventures and challenges.  Lots of ideas shared about adventures as well as lots of practical advice about planning, fund raising and executing them

A sign saying "say yes more", white lights against the darkness

At the end of the month, Charlotte, my cousin, had finally decided to get married.  A vey different experience, as it was a Greek Orthodox service and party, but it was good fun

Bride and groom in front of priest. Behind alter are gold icons of saints
A marriage day


A month of holidays – which I’ll write up separately. But first a visit to Bhutan (via a day in Nepal) with the parents.   And then a week in Tenerife on my own, with time spent walking the mountains

A red and white monastery on the side of a mountain in Bhutan
Tigers Nest Monestary
Mountains and blue skies
Volcanic mountains


I finished the year in the same way I finished last year, with a few days away walking. This time I went to the Peak District for a couple of days walking up hills, along with a day on a navigation course.  Dome good learnings, even if the weather was wet and windy.

A Green public footpath sign on the Moors
Peakk District sign
Mar 01

2017 Review Part 2

The second part of my 2017 Review – basically just for my records.

Mountain Tops

Mountain Tops


July started off with me doing something completely different. I headed off to Switzerland for a Beginner’s Mountaineering Course! So taxi, plane, train and finally bus took me to the small village of Les Haudere’s in the south of Switzerland. There, I met up with my fellow course mates – 2 guys, one around my age who’s been slowly getting into climbing/mountaineering and one young, just still in his teens, guy who was looking for something fun to do before heading off on further travels to Asia. We also met with our course instructor who fulfilled the stereotype of blonde, slightly scruffy, mountain guy (who would have obviously preferred to do some proper climbing then deal with beginners)

Mountain Hut

Mountain Hut

Over the next few days we:

  • learnt how to use crampons on ice; travelling up to a glacier and stomping around, climbing up and down slopes and ice faces
  • Went hiking up the mountain, stayed in a mountain hut before heading out early to get to the top of a mountain across another glacier, learning how to move roped together
  • Did a little climbing and abseiling
  • Did a lot more hiking

I was not well enough to do the last mountain trek with the group – I was coughing too much; given they were a lot faster then me in the hiking, I decided to stay behind and do some solo trekking, which was great fun.

Glacier trekking

Glacier trekking

I flew straight to Germany from Switzerland to start my first week with adidas, just getting my head round what would be needed. The first weekend I flew back, as I had tickets to the London Paratheletics World champs, to see with my sister and niece.

London Stadium

London Stadium

Para Athletics Champs

Para Athletics Champs

A quick turnaround, switching over clothes, before heading back to work. The first week I was in a hotel, now I moved into an AirBNB apartment for the next three weeks. This was my second AirBNB; it definitely proved useful during my stays in Germany, in one case I was in the same flat for 2 months, which just makes working in a different country far easier when you have a solid home base.


Time for the World Athletics Champs! I flew back and started the next day with my shifts, picking up the new kit first thing in the morning before starting my session. I’ve written all about that in another post.

Spa F1

Spa F1

Then back to work in Germany before heading up to the Belgium Grand Prix. This was a test of my driving! I’d got the use of a hire car in Germany, which was a challenge given how long it had been since I’d driven, but I soon got into the swing of most things (the give way to cars from the right in towns/villages was hard though!). But although this was over 300 miles, it was motorway all the way, so pretty easy to drive. And with a small hire car, there was no temptation to drive too fast and out of my skill zone 🙂

Sofia and Andy came to the GP too and we met at the campsite. Yes, we camped. About 20min walk from the circuit, it was a relatively exclusive campsite run by a British company, Pillow camping. We were provided with a 2 unit tent, which was more than enough room for the 3 of us (we ended up sleeping 1 in each ‘bedroom’ and one out in the main part). This was my 3rd time at this race. it was Sofia and my first live race back in 2010, when we went with a tour company, stayed in a hotel in Germany and coached it back and forth. The second time was a competition win with Shell and we had a brilliant VIP trip, again coaching it back and forth. This last time was far less glam, out in tents. I quite enjoyed it; I’m pretty sure Sofia and Andy will never camp again. 🙂




Such a quiet month! It was work only for the most of the month, staying in the quiet village of Herzogenaurach. Only one weekend of fun, flying back to the UK for the inaugural Wine Club weekend. We were off to the country, 2 converted railway carriages in fields in Oxfordshire, wood-powered hot tub included. It started with a down note, with one of the group being told just before she left that her role had been made redundant. But we made the most of the weekend, cooking over open fires, walking and visiting famous gin pubs, which have whole cupboards of gin. The instructions were to just go in, open bottles, smell the gin and decide which ones we want a drink made from.

Country chalets

Country chalets

An amazing weekend, only abut 40 hours in the countryside, but great for resetting the brain.

Hot tub

Hot tub


I was supposed to be back in London this month, but changes in plans meant I was still staying in Germany, coming back for one week for a few meetings.

Rock formations

Rock formations

I took advantage of being in Germany for a final month by heading off for a visit to the south, to Garmisch Partenkirchen. A fairly straightforward journey on paper, train via Munich, but it was made rather nerve wracking by late running trains. getting to Munich I had to run for the next train, making it with about 20 seconds to spare. It was still late when I got to my hotel – the restaurant had decided to close and there was nothing to be had, they couldn’t even whip up some bread and cheese for me – not a good start.

I’ve written all about my weekend in this post.

As the month drew to a close, the question remained was I going to be leaving, or staying on at adidas. After some discussion, I decided to stay on, but with a change of terms. I couldn’t do the full time in Germany – I had no desire to leave my flat on its own for any more time, nor did they need me full time. So we agreed that I could cut down my work days (to 3 days a week) and alternate between London and Herzo.


The month started with lunch with Caroline and a trip to the National Gallery – where we played ‘hunt the arse’ around the museum. Plenty of fun to be had 🙂 Other fun events including a leaving party for my ex-boss (it wasn’t fun because she was leaving, it was just fun), a trip to St John’s Museum, drinks with friends I hadn’t seen for years and drinks for the launch of the Zombies! Run game. Which is a very mad board game that I’m really bad at. Also visited cinema for first time in ages, this time to see Thor Ragnorok.

One thing I did do this month was go and get a National Archives reader ticket – the plan is to go and dig into a few documents that could be associated with my family history.

I few more interviews happened; including which I would have loved..but the recruiting person had completely failed to properly understand the role and the requirements. It was not possible to do it full time starting the next week given I was working already on a contract I’d just signed. It was associated with the Olympics, so was time sensitive. They even called a couple of times to see if things had changed. Unfortunately, no…the one that got away.

I ended the month the same way it started – out with Caroline. We headed to Winter Wonderland to have a go on roller coasters, drinking gluhwein and hot dogs and having a very good time.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland


Ooh, finally another Michelin restaurant started this month. Not a new one, but a return to my local, Hedone. More cinima visits as well, to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi (enjoyable but annoying at times, too many silly decisions) and The Greatest Showman which was cheesy but lots of fun and I left the cinema grinning.

It being December, there were Christmas get togethers. I made it to the running club party for the first time, even if my fancy dress was pretty poor. There were Christmas dinners with various friend groups, including Wine Club (we’re still generally far to sensible) and then to end the year, time to head to visit the family for the usual visit, plus a trip to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens for the Christmas lights.

Family at Clent

Family at Clent

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas lights

Birmingham Botanical Gardens Christmas lights

December also bought to a close a ‘mission’ I’d been slowly completing over the last few years. I walked the last section of the London LOOP, from Harold’s Wood to Purfleet, bringing myself back to the opposite side of the Thames from where it all started. I need to work out which one to do next, which will probably be a lot harder to organise. The great thing about the LOOP is the ease in which it was possible to do it in day trips from home, with all the sections arranged around transport hubs. Few other walks I’ve seen have that same arrangement.

I closed out the year with a last minute decision not to spend New Year’s Eve as usual, on my sofa watching the fireworks. I headed down to Arundel for some walking in the area. The pub I was staying at was running a murder mystery evening and I was persuaded to join in – they would assign me to a friendly table so I could be in a team. An excellent night was had, made even better when we won 🙂



So that was 2017. Some interesting moments, some quite times when working away. Some major life changes happening and there are more of these to come

Feb 27

2017 Review Part 1

As I’ve not being doing weeknotes or even month notes in 2017, I’m going to go with a Year Note. A record for me to remember – rather than any one else to be amused by :-). A aide memoire to what I was doing and where I went, based on combination of calendar, Swarm Checkins and photos taken. It was not that exciting a year for activities; well, compared to my usual.

We can start off with my checkin history for an overview.. I’m pretty good at making sure I log in to everywhere I go, especially if it is not the usual train station or office. You can still (just about) pull out the history from Swarm and map it. So here we have it. UK, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Belgium. This is the first year since my digital records begin that I have not been out of Europe; in every year since 2005 I’ve done some form of long-haul travel. There are reasons, as you will see, but hopefully I’ll change that in 2018.

The stats

Swarm checkins: 843
Countries visited: 5 (Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Belgium)
Michelin Meals: 6
Miles run: 89.89
Races completed: 2
Miles walked: 188.2
Cathedrals visited: 1
Movies seen at cinema: 6
Theatre visits: 2


January is normally a quiet month and this year was no exception. Very little happened; I went to work, I had a massage and went to the pub occasionally. The only unusual activity was my volunteer assessment. Oh, and the Women’s March

In autumn 2016, I’d applied to be a volunteer at the 2017 World Athletics Championships that were taking place in London. January was the time for my assessment, a set of group exercises and an interview with the team. They’d taken over the Crystal building in Docklands and were working their way through 10000 or so interviews. It would be 4 months before I heard anything, a lot of waiting.

Women's March in London

Women’s March in London


Zoom Auction

Zoom Auction

February was a little more interesting. First weekend, I was off to the ZOOM auction again, something I’d gone to for the last few years. F1 related, it’s a good time to have a little fun, meet up with people I know through F1 twitter and get dressed up. A good evening was had, with lots of laughs. The next day was one of my irregular Michelin meals, at Tamarind. Neither of these were good prep for the final event of the weekend, the London Winter 10k, a great 10k through closed roads in the centre of London. Well, the lack of training wasn’t good prep either, but I made it through the event and claimed my hug with the polar bear.

Winter Run 10k

Winter Run 10k

The year’s walking kicked off the following weekend, with the first Wine Club walk – something that was to be repeated later in the year. Time to wrap up and face the winter elements.

Wine Club Walk

Wine Club Walk

For the rest of the week I headed to Munich for work. Two full days of workshops but ending with a long weekend to explore the city (one cathedral added to the collection) and cross off another Michelin meal, at Les Deux.



The final outing of the month was to fit in more walking, up in Hertfordshire. I was delivering a souvenir to a former colleague of mine who had left it in the same Kathmandu hotel I was staying in. I’d carried it back to the UK and was finally handing it over. So a long Saturday walk before meeting up and spending the evening in the pub he now owns.


I had the first cinema outing of the year, watching Logan. A bleak end to that cycle of X-men movies. Then – holiday time! A short trip over to Barcelona for the F1 testing, another annual tradition that has been going for the last few years. The first day was spent in Barcelona before heading up to the circuit hotel. So another Michelin meal arranged and enjoyed, at Restaurant Angle. Superb tasting menu, I especially liked the wine pairings, which includes things like beer and sherry 🙂

Angle Restaurant, Barcelona

Angle Restaurant, Barcelona

I made the most of the week. Just before I’d left, I’d been informed my role was at risk – which means I was going to be made redundant. There was nothing I could do about this when I was away, but it was full steam ahead on my return. The process was followed, the meetings were had throughout the month but the inevitable conclusion was reached. I was off. Sort of. Not quite. For a variety of reasons I asked to work my notice, and this was allowed (we’d just kicked off a 3 month project that I was running). There was a high probability at that point that additional revenue would be found and the role could be saved..so let’s see what would happen.

F1 in Spain

F1 in Spain

I finally got in a section of the London LOOP (Gordon Hill to Chigwell), a walk that I’d been slowly nibbling away at since 2014. The walks this year were all leading up to an event – the London to Brighton challenge – so i was getting in as much as I could, and if I could use them to nail some other plans so much the better.

Walk the Loop

Walk the Loop


Meetings with recruiters continued through April and I was now starting the interview process for some roles. The first weekend outing as another section of the London LOOP (Chigwell to Harold Wood). Another walk the following day to take in the scenes along the river in preparation for the Boat Race, which was taking place that afternoon. Combining walking with other activities is always a good way to motivate me (rather than just seeing it as ‘training’) so another weekend I walked most of the way into town for brunch with friends. For Easter I visited the family and did some canal exploring to get in the miles. And during my work trip this month, I made sure I had time to walk around the city to places instead of taking taxis.

Putney at Boat Race time

Putney at Boat Race time

The family visit this month was fun as we finally got Mom to sign up for parkrun and we made it a family outing, with Mom, sister, her daughter and myself all giving it a go at the local event. And later on the usual visit to the Balti 🙂

I also went to one of my rare theatre visits this month, to see David Tennant in Don Juan of Soho, a really enjoyable, fun, play. Plus an interesting ‘experience bar’, called The Bletchley, where you get to dress up in uniform and solve codes using pretend enigma machines to get cocktails.

Bletchley Bar

Bletchley Bar

After this, another work trip – 5 days in Portugal for a data conference. for the weekend, I took part in a ‘hackathon’ with a team of data scientists from the office, then joined in the conference later. A small opportunity for one afternoon in the sun, but the rest was definitely work.



The final event of the month was the Hackney Half marathon (using a run walk strategy throughout). Nowhere near as hot as the previous year (thankfully, far less casualties seen) another great event. Although it’s now been taken over by Virgin, so some things did not feel as local as previous episodes. Given what happened next, not sure it was the best thing to do, in hindsight.


I like May. Often the best weather of the year (dry, pleasant, not too warm), it’s also my birthday month, although i rarely do anything to celebrate.

We start with a trip to the cinema (Guardians of the Galaxy – it does seem I mainly visit for the big blockbusters).

Another LOOP walk was planned for the first weekend. But disaster! I managed about 3 miles before having to stop and return home. The half had obviously damaged something and walking was extremely painful – there was no way to continue. Would I be able to make the London to Brighton? Physio arranged, massage and accupuncture organised, but it was not sorted in time. I thought about attempting the long walk..but decided that it may not be the best options. I was borderline fit anyway, which added to the reasoning. So postponed it to 2018. I’ve learnt the lesson though, no races in the training period for the long walk!

In a break with tradition, something was arranged for birthday – a picnic at Kew with the Wine Club girls. That was a lot of fun, the weather was OK, the company was great and we were sensible. This was followed on the Sunday by a pub watch of the Spanish GP with friends. Where we were less sensible with the wine. But that was fine, the Monday was the birthday added work holiday, so a lie in before heading into town for another Michelin meal to celebrate the completion of another solar circulation. More drinks on Tuesday, with a friend on a quick visit from the US. Wow, 3 out of 4 days out and about with friends. That’ll do, will need the rest of the week to hibernate 🙂

I’ve started interviewing a bit more now, in fact one day I had 3 different sessions. Slowly getting into the groove. One of the challenges will be finding the right fit, as I’m not a typical creative planner. (given my background in project management then definitely not the usual type of brain)

For the Bank Holiday, there’s no longer a long distance walk. Instead more time in Kew Gardens (on a hot day, I pack up for the afternoon, take a picnic and spend the time reading a book.)


Trooping the Colour! I’ve lived in London for years, and have never been to see this. I was too late to get tickets for the event but…for the 2 weekends before the main event there are rehearsals. You can get tickets for these, but it’s also easy enough to do what I do and just go and stand on the Mall to watch the parade. No Royals, so the crowds are smaller. A great view of the pageantry. Maybe next year I’ll try to get a rehearsal ticket.

Trooping the Colour

Trooping the Colour

One cinema and one theatre trip. Cinema was Wonder Woman, theatre was Hamlet, with Andrew Scott. I’d never seen Hamlet performed, or studied the play, so I have no idea how this compares with other productions, but I really, really enjoyed it and it kept me captivated through the long run time.

Interviews continued this month, but so did the no’s. I was making it down to the last couple, but not the final step. However, an opportunity arose to continue, through current company, with a secondment with adidas, based in their German office working on digital marketing processes. Three months in Germany and then one month back in the London office to get back into the swing of interviews. Why not, a great company to work for, let’s give it a go.

Finally, after months of waiting, I got the response back from the Athletics World Champs…I was in! Admittedly last minute, for a team that had only been decided on at the end, but I was going to be a Mascot Escort, looking after and supporting the mascot activities. Training took place at the end of the month, both general and specific and it looked like it was going to be a lot of fun.

Part 2 to follow shortly!

Jan 01

2015 Weeknotes 33-34

17 – 30 Aug

Being on holiday stops you blogging, who knew!:-) Anyway, I will catch up, but I’m doing it monthly for the rest of the year.


  • Belgian GP

    The main event was my prize trip to the Belgium Formula 1 GP, that I had won earlier in the summer from Shell. I’ve already written this up, for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the race.

  • I was out with both some F1 friends and Wine Club for dinner during the week. One of those was slightly more boozier than the other, I’ll leave you to work out which was which!
  • There was a lot of fun and games with the Gas Board/National Grid/whatever they’re called. They are slowly replacing all the gas pipes in the area, which includes the pipes into the home. Which means you need to be in for them to come and change the pipes. One complication is that the pipes to the upstairs’ neighbour go through my house, so we both need to be in to have the replacement. But he hadn’t got the message, so the replaced mine. We then spent the next 10 days trying to arrange a time we were both in and the fitters were available to do the final bit of pipework.
  • the last Disc World

    I bought the last of the Disc World novels. And then let it sit there for a few days, because once I started, it would be finished quickly, and then there would be no more. And that made me sad.

  • I went to the Notting Hill Carnival, or at least the Sunday version! I’ve never braved the full on Monday show, just the slightly quieter Sundays. It was good fun. The Full photo set is on Flickr.

    Notting Hill Carnival

    Notting Hill Carnival


  • 4 Myths about the Calais Migrants Debunked. On Mashable. One little story at least trying to put some facts in place and drown out the Daily Fail rhetoric.
  • The Coddling of the American Mind. I’ve been reading a fair bit about this. It is scary how debate and intellectual challenge is being pushed out in the name of political correctness. Yes, the white male view point has been the predominate one in western culture, yes, there is more opportunity for more people to have different viewpoints and the cultural norm to change, but that does not mean that debate should be stopped because it may ‘trigger’ people. People always playing the victim is not culturally healthy. Believing that a viewpoint is not valid or ‘less’ because of the person saying it (rather than the idea or viewpoint being challengeable) is not culturally healthy. This attitude and campus atmosphere will take a long time to change and pass.
  • So, Yalla Bye. On the Foreign Office. A fascinating account from a diplomat leaving his station in Lebanon.
  • Move over Turing. An experiment looking at how good AI is at recognising images.
  • I stopped counting! 1 definite, with the last of the Terry Pratchett books. I downloaded 7 Kindle books in this time and guess what, 2 were actually non-fiction!
  • The Time In Between by Nancy Tucker. A memoir of a teenage girl’s experience with anorexia.
  • The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett. A autobiography of an F1 mechanic.
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 32

10 Aug – 16 Aug



  • I had a catch up with former colleagues, as we gatecrashed the leaving drinks of another former colleague from my previous agency. Fun was had, lots of chat and gossip, lots of drink.
  • I decided that going camping for the weekend was a great idea! Well, not just camping, but to a hacking event called ‘Hacklands‘, organised by Helen Keegan and friends. A wonderful weekend, with data talks, photography lessons and lots of music.




  • Worked my way through 4 books.
  • How Uber is changing life for Women in Saudi Arabia. I can’t even begin to explain my issues with how the religious rules mean women are treated in somewhere like Saudi, and I have dislike for Uber in that it most definitely is not ‘sharing economy’ but is an excellent example of how companies can make money out of ‘zero hours contracts’ (I know they’re not really that, but they’re definitely not employees with benefits), but what is happening here is where things can come together and improve things.
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 31

3 Aug – 9 Aug


  • Dinner at Marcus at Wine Club. Another Michelin restaurant, although one I’d eaten at before. They were having a dinner offer, the lunch menu at lunch prices, so we got together for some chat and food and wine.

    Lunch at Marcus

  • More vaccinations on saturday, final round of them, before I headed into town for the Shell V-Power Hunt, which I’ve written about. I was very happy to win this 🙂

    Shell The Hunt London


  • Two book read this week. still just the fiction. Sometime soon, i may read a none fiction!
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 30

27 July – 2 Aug



  • some weeks I get really busy, most weeks I do little. This is another of the latter, must be because of summer! I did travel down to Southampton way on Tuesday for an away day of working, with a gorgeous view of Hamble harbour.
  • The weather turned stormy this week. Not only down on the south coast, but in London. But stormy skies and sun peaking through make great pictures

    Evening Skies

  • Had a weekend lunch at Michael Nadra, an excellent local restaurant that does not get enough credit.

    Michael Nadra

  • On Sunday, I wandered down the road to see the Prudential Road race rush past. As Chiswick Bridge is pretty close to the start of the race, everyone was still bunched together.

    Prudential Classic Bike Ride


  • Had a massive reading binge, got through 5 books. Weekends, commuting and up to late in the evening! Yes, I read too much…
Sep 06

2015 Week Notes 29

20 July – 26 July

Even when nothing happened…I’m going to FINISH these for the year 🙂


  • The pitch meeting I was working on was on the Tuesday of this week, so another night in the hotel just over the road from work, ready to be in the office at 7 for last minute prep.
  • Once that was over, Thursday was the Office Summer Party, which was held just over the road in Piano Works. This appeared to e a hit, mainly because there was no travel, no theme, no need to dress up in fancy dress, it was just go over the road, have lots of food and drink and have a singalong and dance to the house band, who took your requests and played them on the pianos. Sometimes, agency office parties get too complicated! But there were no photos taken by me (which is probably good…)
  • Finished the week watching the F1 in a bar with a friend. Slightly too much wine was drunk


  • Two books, again some more sci-fi award winners. Started on the Bujold Vorkosigan book series, so that’s about 16 to read.