Open Thinkering


Weeknote 33/2022

Field full of sunflowers

We’re in Reims, France. It’s been a great week. Today is a milestone birthday for my sister, so happy birthday, Christa!

Tomorrow, we head home through the Eurotunnel. Hopefully it won’t break down this time! So far this week, we’ve been swimming, running, kayaking, and visiting various places — including an underground ‘troglodyte’ farm in the Loire valley.

On Thursday, I went out for a 10km run that turned into an accidental half-marathon. I didn’t bother taking my phone, as I was running a circular route and was measuring the distance on my watch. The trouble, however, was that I took the wrong road out of the nearest town to our Airbnb and ended up going in completely the wrong direction.

I compounded the error by thinking I was north when I was a really south, and so began a series of interactions to try and course-correct back to where Team Belshaw were staying. I had a conversation in broken French with an old woman who I made jump out of her skin when I said ‘Bonjour!’ She and I pored over an old map, and I set off in the correct direction.

I then flagged down a white van and again asked for directions in French. After the guy in the passenger seat gave me very involved directions in French, the younger man in the driver’s seat leaned over and said (in perfect English) “not from round here, then?” 🙄

Eventually, when I was not far from ‘home’ and absolutely knackered after running 21km, I came across a property with two cars outside that had UK numberplates. I knocked on the door, explained the situation, and was given a bottle of water and a lift back to meet up with my family. They were very happy to see me and expressed joy at my return really annoyed that I hadn’t taken my phone.

That afternoon, we went kayaking along the Loire. The river was really low and has been buoyed to ensure that paddles don’t hit the bottom and you don’t get beached! Much to Hannah’s bemusement, the three of us (kids in one kayak, she and I in another) not only were racing, but playing a form of pirates. I’ve hurt my arm, trapping it between my son’s paddle blade and our kayak. No pull-ups for me for a while!

The rest of the time we’ve been playing badminton, table tennis, swimming in the pool, and lounging around reading. Oh, and we all went for a cycle ride on Wednesday where we got caught in a thunderstorm and got absolutely drenched! Fun, though.

I finished How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell which I’d highly recommend for anyone looking to resist the attention economy. I also read Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch which makes me want to revisit a book I wrote eight years ago entitled The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies.

Next week, I’m not returning to work until Thursday. Hannah’s back in Monday, and the kids are at athletics camp for three days, so maybe I’ll be able to get started with a new project (or more likely, so DIY/painting!)

Photo of field of sunflowers taken during cycle ride on Wednesday. They grow them everywhere in Anjou, apparently for animal feed.

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