Open Thinkering


Tag: holiday

Weeknote 30/2021

Our Devon holiday home

I’m composing this in the WordPress mobile app as my wife and I share the drive back home. We’re also stopping off overnight and splitting the journey into two, as seven or eight hours in the car is not conducive to harmonious Team Belshaw relationships!

Some holiday weeks seem to go really quickly and you’re back to work before you know it. Thankfully, this week hasn’t been like that, and we’ve had a proper break. We needed a period of decompression after my mothers in-law’s funeral last Friday and this week has certainly given us that.

The weather in Devon hasn’t been as hot and dry as in previous years, but that’s no bad thing. It’s given us an excuse to watch plenty of the Olympics on TV in the mornings and then go out and about in the afternoons. I’m not too comfortable in heat above 25C anyway.

One of the highlights of this week for me was hiring bikes on Monday and cycling along the River Exe from Exeter to Starcross. Both our kids are good on two wheels, and during that trio our youngest learned to ride with no hands. Unfortunately, on the return leg, a bee stung my son quite badly on the chest, and my daughter steered herself into a hedge full of nettles while looking up at a plane.

We spent a large chunk of the rest of the week at my sister-in-law’s house; their kids are only slightly younger than our two. It’s always good to hang out with them.

Other than that, I’ve been minimally checking (but not replying to) emails, and I deleted the Slack app from my phone completely. Some people seem to live for work and seem not to know what to do when away from it. That was me about a decade ago, but no more. As I saw someone say on social media recently, you may be able to get anything you want if you work hard, but what if your goal is not to work hard?

Either way, I feel pretty refreshed and relaxed heading back to work next week. It’ll be a quiet-ish August on the work front anyway, as I need to be on-hand to take the kids to their various sports camps.

One thing I’ve definitely realised this week is that its time to lose those pandemic pounds. I’m still relatively fit, but running and other exercise is harder than it needs to be at the moment. I’ve ordered some sample packs from Genesis Foods as they’re a small UK-based company committed to environmental sustainability and sharing profits with their staff. Let’s hope their product tastes good!

Weeknote 22/2021

black and white photo of sea fret coming inland over fields and trees

I’m sitting writing this, one beer in, listening to Despite a couple of work meetings yesterday morning, I’ve been on holiday all week ⁠— including three nights away last Bank Holiday weekend. My stress levels are low enough that I’ve stopped taking L-Theanine. I’m not sure if this is a permanent thing, or whether I’m just experimenting with what I feel like when I’m not on it.

If you asked me, I’d say that I’ve been taking L-Theanine “for about 18 months” but, given that I reference it in this post from January 2018, I guess it’s more like “at least 3.5 years”. This is something you can buy over-the-counter (or, my case, from Amazon) so we’re talking a mild, but nevertheless noticeable, effect. It’s found naturally in cups of tea, which makes me wonder if there’s a correlation between that fact and my maternal grandmother being effectively a walking tea strainer while she was alive. I’ve never seen someone drink so many cups of tea in one day.

It’s quite discombobulating to realise that it’s now June 2021. To me, it feels like the year has just started. Yet here we are. My son’s school moves all the kids up a year after this half-term, so he’ll be officially in Year 10 and starting his GCSEs. It doesn’t feel that long ago since I was doing mine, so this, and the fact that he’s now the same waist size as me, is a bit of a shock to the system. Yes, I’m (getting) old.

There’s not much to report on the work front other than the aforementioned meetings. I wasn’t really planning to have this week completely off, but it just made sense to do so given that my wife starts her new NHS Digital contract next week, the kids are off, things are a bit quieter, and colleagues are away (or taking things easier).

I’ve taken the opportunity to write here and also post a bunch of things on Thought Shrapnel. I’ve hooked up the RSS feed of the latter to both Twitter and Mastodon, so you can subscribe for updates. Alternatively, you could sign up for the monthly roundup email. I’m not sure if I should say “you’re welcome” or “apologies in advance”…

The things I’ve written here are:

As ever, I’ve been merrily (well, perhaps not merrily) posting away at Despite what you might have read or watched elsewhere, the world is still completely shafted. I recommend you watch all 24 minutes of this video if you’re in any doubt:

Next week, I’m back to work. Hannah and I will be in the brave new world of both working remotely but on different projects. This is likely to be, as the young people say, ‘a thing’ from now on, so we’re changing a weird half-room / half-landing in our loft conversion to an office for her.

Laura will still be away, so I’ll be heading up most of the new and existing client work. We’ve just got a small continuation contract with Catalyst to support some charities embed their innovation work, so I’ll need to schedule some of that in. In general, I’m happy to keep things ticking over during the summer, as it’s the first time Hannah’s worked full time since before our eldest was born, and (as a former teacher) the first time she’s worked over the school summer holidays. I might need to be on-hand a bit more over the coming months!

Header photo is my poor attempt at an arty photo of the sea fret coming in near St Abbs while we were on holiday last weekend. Interestingly, the fishing village features in ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (the highest grossing film of all time) as New Asgard.

Weeknote 21/2021

Chickens seen through a mesh fence with a coop signed 'Chicken Run'

I’m composing this weeknote from our holiday home just over the border into Scotland. Prices are as eye-wateringly expensive as you’d imagine during a Bank Holiday weekend when overseas travel is severely curtailed.

Nevertheless, it’s important for Team Belshaw to get away somewhere, given how much time we’ve spent in our house during the pandemic. I may have painted my home office mental health green, but that only goes so far…

This week, I have managed to take it easier than most and indeed managed to clock up a mere 13 hours of work. A few Catalyst meetings, some internal co-op stuff, and a smattering of client work has taken a back seat to exercise, reading, and a wonderful shopping trip to Newcastle with Hannah, my wife, on Wednesday.

That trip was the kind of thing that was so normal pre-pandemic but this week felt so liberating. Just buying a pair of trainers in person, sitting in a coffee shop, and browsing things in a 3D space registered high on my novelty meter.

The other thing I did on Wednesday was to go for my second Covid jab, after getting a text message invitation a few days earlier. They’ve brought forward the second doses due to the new variants popping up, so I had my second 10 weeks (rather than 12 weeks) after the first. Apparently, they’re planning to shorten that to eight weeks soon.

Given I took it a bit easier on the work from this week, I ended up writing more, updating as usual along with publishing two posts here:

Having a bit more time on my hands made me want to share some of the articles and blog posts I’ve been reading with a bit of commentary. After a brief experiment with Pocket, which I use for saving articles to read later, I decided that the natural place to do this is, of course, Thought Shrapnel.

I’ll not list these every week, but here’s what I’ve shared there in the last few days:

Next week, I’m spending most days chilling out with my family, especially as Hannah starts a user research contract with NHS Digital the week after.

Photo of some curious chickens near where we’re staying.