Open Thinkering


Tag: holiday

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.

Weeknote 16/2022

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!

Weeknote 15/2022

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! This has been the second of my three weeks off work this April. I’m also planning to take three weeks in August, as well as all of December off.

As planned, I mostly spent this week recovering from walking Hadrian’s Wall and doing DIY. I’m not sure if it’s because I walked it so quickly or because I’m getting older (or both) but it pretty much took me a full week from last Thursday to recover.

I’ve painted the decking, stained the fence, drilled and screwed things, listed stuff on eBay, and have generally been on-hand while Hannah worked and the kids were off school. I had visions of playing a lot of video games, but that didn’t really materialise. Two things I did do, though, were to install Asahi Linux on my Mac Mini M1 and to read the excellent novel Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead. My favourite highlights are here.

Team Belshaw is currently in Croatia after an early-morning flight on Saturday morning. We drove up the coast from Dubrovnik to a little place near Makarska. The photo at the top of the post was last night’s sunset. The view over the Adriatic Sea is magnificent.

The Bora wind started blowing last night and is just easing off now a bit. It’s due to return, though, later in the week. In the meantime we’re planning to explore Split and the Dalmatian coast, do a lot of reading, eat lots of good food, and generally (as my teenage son would say) ‘vibe’.