It’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of this time of year. Yes lovely autumn colours and let’s get the snuggly jumpers out, but given it was was only a few weeks ago I was rocking shorts, sunglasses, and a t-shirt, I’m still in a state of shock. Where did the light go?
After working on Monday, I spent most of this week fighting off a cold in rainy Scotland at a pretty average Airbnb near Dundee. Our first choice one in Dumfries & Galloway wasn’t available, which makes me sad because I think we’d have had a better time.
It wasn’t terrible, but I didn’t sleep very well, there wasn’t loads to do that didn’t involve driving somewhere, and food prices in rural Scotland are insane. Still, we managed to entertain the kids at Glamis Castle (the setting for Macbeth), the V&A Dundee, and by visiting St Andrews. The latter was interesting despite, rather than because of, its connection to golf and royalty.
We returned on Friday night to watch my son play an exhibition match at the Newcastle Eagles arena before the pros played against Plymouth. Good stuff.
Next week, I’ll mostly be counting down the clock until Christmas working on various client projects and making remarks about how the nights are drawing in. No, I won’t be celebrating Halloween.
Are you sure we’re not supposed to hibernate until the springtime?
Photo of autumnal leaves taken near our Airbnb. If I’d taken it two seconds earlier I’d have captured lots of geese flying past overhead…
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.
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.
I’m composing this in the car as Hannah drives us all back home from Edinburgh airport. It feels like I’ve been driving for a significant chunk of the week in Croatia, and on the other side of the road. Note to self: never buy a Suzuki Vitara.
We flew back from Dubrovnik this morning, a wonderful city in which we didn’t spend enough time. Team Belshaw was based near Podgora in lovely, secluded location. The views, and in particular the sunsets, were spectacular. The only downside was that most things worth doing were in and around Split which necessitated an almost-daily pilgrimage of an hour and a half.
In addition to the driving was the Bora wind which blew hard for about 12 hours on two days. We also experienced an earthquake on our last night! All of that aside, we had a great time. There was enough sunshine to enjoy the (heated) outdoor pool, and having a table tennis table is always fun.
One of the highlights for me was unexpectedly being able to snag tickets to Hadjuk Split‘s football match against their main rivals, Dinamo Zagreb. The stadium, the atmosphere, and the policing(!) is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the UK. The hosts, Hadjuk Split won 1-0 and at one point we could barely see the pitch due to the number of flares being set off. Crazy.
I managed to go for a couple of 5k runs along the seafront while we were away. We travelled to the island of Hvar along narrow roads with precipitous drops. I read an entire non-fiction book on the flight back. My son and I went to an interactive communist history museum. Lots to unpack in the coming days.
Despite adding a few posts to Thought Shrapnel while away, and tomorrow being the last Sunday of April, I’m actually going to send out the next issue of the monthly newsletter on May 1st. (I also wrote a post here about unauditible algorithms.)
I’m back to work on Monday and want to make the most of the remnants of my third and final week off. I’ll have some catching up to do and need to get my head back in the game. I’m presenting at the Learning Technologies conference in a couple of weeks so I need to start preparing for that. It’s been great having long enough off (and having awesome enough colleagues) to fully unwind!