Open Thinkering


Tag: Weeknotes

Weeknote 34/2023

Screenshot of Sniper Elite 5

Famously, but apocryphally, Hemingway advised to “write drunk, edit sober”. My best writing flows from writing while angry, and editing while calm. Right now, I’ve had three hours sleep, just given both barrels to the builders who left the generator on at the site near our house. The words are flowing.

This week I’ve been back to work after three weeks off. I’m still in some pain from my ribs, caused by coming off a mountain bike three weeks ago. Getting old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (especially when your ribs might be cracked). I had one day off ibuprofen on Thursday and was miserable. My exercise regime is all over the place.

As expected, I haven’t been very busy at work. It’s still summer, and this week is Bank Holiday weekend. So things will pick up next week. It’s been good to catch up with Laura, though, and get my head back into some projects. We’re experimenting with a newsletter via LinkedIn called WAO Weekly, because that’s where most of the work-related chat is these days.

Talking of newsletters, an issue of the Thought Shrapnel roundup that I used to do monthly is going out tomorrow. I make no apologies for the fact that there hasn’t been one since January, and instead direct you to the insights of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who stated, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.”

Our son got his GCSE results this week, and then went back into school to get his grade breakdowns. Given the pandemic and the fact that he was so ill during the first few days of exams he almost didn’t go in for them, he’s done well. The grade breakdowns showed that in many subjects he was only a couple of marks away from the next grade up. He’s planning to study A Levels in the Sixth Form of the school he’s at, and is still firming up his final choices.

Meanwhile, our daughter has been ordering her kit for Sunderland ETC, which she’ll start next month. We had to take her to a physio as the injury to her toe which she sustained made her over-compensate when walking, which affected her knee. She’ll be OK.

After test driving several EVs last weekend, we thought we were going to apply to lease a Skoda Enyaq iV. However, a subsequent conversation led us back to the Polestar 2. I realised that the test car had literally all of the options, including the dual motor which takes the car from 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds. The single-motor version, which we’d be getting, is still quick, but not quite so ‘lurchy’. I’ve also found out how you can make the ride less firm, which might help with my wife feeling a bit car sick.

Last time I applied for a business lease, I was turned down. I ascribed this to the fact that while doing so, our shortest-serving Prime Minister was doing her best to tank the UK economy. If I don’t get approved this time, I can only think it’s down to the way that I pay myself through my business (mostly through dividends).

After a year of running it, and with domain renewal time approaching, I considered shutting down It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea, it’s just that after an initial flurry, it hasn’t had quite the traction of people posting that I’d hoped for.

Thankfully, as I explained in this post, I’ve managed to hand over ownership to the most active user on the site. He’s pleased about it, and so am I. Win/win.

It’s Bank Holiday weekend in England this weekend. I took Friday off to do some life admin. What we really need to do during the gloriously-sunny weather is to find somewhere to live. As I explained last week, we’re still selling our house, but we currently have nowhere to go.

Next week, I’ll be ramping up work through the WAO and doing some business development to help keep us gainfully employed over the coming months.

Screenshot from Sniper Elite 5, which I’ve played a lot this week.

Weeknote 13/2023

Hoop tied onto football goalposts in top right-hand corner

This was my last week at work for three weeks. Just as I did in 2022, this year I’m taking three weeks off in April, August, and December, as well as a few days here and there. I find that it’s only in the third week away from work that I can truly unwind.

Unwinding is different to relaxing. I’m not really someone who find pleasure in long periods of relaxation, if I’m perfectly honest. Life is short and I need things to do. So I’ll be spending my time on holiday with Team Belshaw in Scotland, doing DIY, and walking at least half of The Pennine Way. I’ve swapped running for walking 20,000+ steps each day in preparation for the latter. In fact, I’m just back from a walk with the rest of Team Belshaw which encompassed some of the best of Northumberland (mud! beaches! ice cream!)

Talking of exercise, Morpeth Riverside Leisure Centre, which I’ve been to ever since moving here nine years ago, closed on Wednesday. That is because the new leisure centre (also next to the river, just a bit further round!) opens next Wednesday. I’m not sure why they had to have a week inbetween, and they haven’t informed us of a refund. But you can have a look around the new place for yourself (no, it’s not a parody! I like their enthusiasm).

Also on the exercise front, our kids haven’t had any football matches this weekend, nor have they any scheduled for next weekend. As a result, I was up on the field at the top of the hill helping my daughter with various skills. The photo above shows the high-tech solution I came up with to practice getting it in ‘top bins‘. My son has been a little unwell and so hasn’t been playing sport or training this week.

Blog posts continued tumbling out of me this week:

I also finished the resource for Catalyst on Open Working. On the same topic, Anne published a post rounding up the work we did via CAST for Sport England. Adam Freeman-Pask, who is Head of Digital Innovation for Sport England also published a post heavily influenced by the programme. That’s the end of that project, which we started back in May last year.

We’re replacing this work on our roster with three smallish projects for the Member Learning group of We’ll be turning the MVP of the CoTech Digital Candle service into something a bit more fully-featured. In addition, we’re creating an email-based course (see others) on the basis of worker co-ops, as well as doing some user research to see what kind of support existing network members would like.

In addition, I worked on other client projects for Greenpeace, Participate, and the Wellbeing Economy Alliance. That involved doing a whole range of things from to figuring out badge pathways, installing and configuring a wiki, booking flights to Badge Summit, and writing more of a digital strategy. I had some interesting conversations including about Navigatr, drafted another email course (on ‘Reframing Recognition’), did some invoicing, and submitted a proposal for ePIC 2023 in December.

Next week I’m on holiday and walking around a lot.

Weeknote 03/2023

Windmill next to a canal

I’ve spent most of this week in the Netherlands with my WAO colleagues. We stayed in an American-style villa north of Amsterdam, complete with jacuzzi, ping pong table, and trampoline! Instead of client work we worked on things like the journey we’ve been on since being founded in 2016, how we can have a more consistent approach to projects, and contributor pathways.

A big part of meeting up together, though, was just to be in the same place for the first time in three years. Due to the pandemic, it was the first time Anne, our intern-turned-cooperator had met John and Bryan IRL. So Laura taught us all different types of poker (for peanut M&Ms), we played video games, went out for dinner, as well as going to an awesome ‘new school arcade hall’ called TonTon Club. Some of us also managed to sneak in a run.

Back at the ranch, it was another birthday celebration which we celebrated in Newcastle-upon-Tyne at Lane 7 and I Scream For Pizza. Everyone had a great time, and Hannah won bowling for the first time in Team Belshaw history. Our daughter played in a football match where she scored a hat-trick and was awarded player of the match. The Boy has a game today.

Weekly timeline showing Garmin 'body battery' score

What’s been interesting to me this week is being able to see (with data!) the impact that increased alcohol consumption, less protein, and later bedtimes has had on my body. While I had a great time, routines are important to feel well-rested — as you can see on the Garmin ‘Body Battery’ chart above!

Next week will be back to client work. Part of our time away was to kind-of-formalise having a Project Lead and a ‘Context Understudy’ for each client. We couldn’t really think of a name other than something like ‘Skills Provider’ for other roles, but I’m sure the naming and approach will evolve. For me, it means that while I’ll probably still be involved in some way with each of the seven projects we’ve got on at the moment, I don’t have to keep the context for all of them in my head 😅

Photo of windmill near Heerhugowaard