Gran Canaria again

Mon 24 – Sun 30 April 2017

Gran Canaria

Plane flying

We arrived in my beloved Gran Canaria on Wednesday as part of my 50th birthday celebrations. Here are the main points so far:

  • A later flight than normal which meant basically that we spent the whole of Wednesday preparing then travelling. Kind of nice in the sense that it prolonged the excitement about what was to come.
  • Lovely chilling at the airport just looking forward to the flight taking off.
  • Back to our favourite hotel (adults only!) We got a room on the ground floor which we have never had before. So it is easy for getting to and from everything (pool, breakfast room, etc) plus we could see our loungers by the pool from our balcony.
  • Lots of lounging by the pool though on Thurs and Fri there was a fair amount of cloud. Weather on Sat was glorious and I ended up looking red like a lobster despite putting loads of sun tan lotion on. Unseasonable showers on Thurs, Fri and Sat – short but intense and tropical-like.
  • Out for meals to Bei Lelo, a German restaurant that we love. Amazing that some of the waiters have been there for years and we’ve seen them age. And they may have noticed we have aged as well. We also went to semi-posh Barbados restaurant one night and indulged in crepe suzettes flambeed at our table.
  • No big nights out until Saturday when I ended staying up and around the Yumbo until about 1.30am. I was quite sozzled. Generally though me and Dave haven’t been going mad and are in bed by midnight. Loving my Irish coffees to finish the night. One night I tried one with brandy which was horrible.
  • Unfortunately my favourite little coffee shop / bar (L’Italiano) is closed for their holidays (Cerrado por vacaciones) though one bar owner I chatted to said he did not know if they would be re-opening. Found a nice new fancy little coffee shop in the Yumbo Centre but not quite so good as L’Italiano particularly location-wise.
  • Sunday I felt slightly worse for wear after the night before and so we went for a long walk along the beach and then back through the Dunes. The latter is wonderful making you feel like you are in the Sahara apart from the wandering gay men.
  • Listening to Spanish (and German) though I have let slip my aim to do some DuoLingo everyday.
  • First time I have seen a cockroach in Gran Canaria – on a ledge in the Yumbo Centre (I saw one in Tenerife previously).

Gran Canaria Hotel Neptuno

German restaurant

Yumbo Centre at night

Tech for Good

Only one day in the office last week and that was Tuesday. I had deliberately kept it clear in order to deal with anything that needed sorting before going away. Some interesting things happening. A phone catch-up around the possibility of running a small Tech for Good programme in Northern Ireland. Also news that our pilot crowdfunding programme is going ahead – great but all the details need sorting now. And a catch-up with my boss before I left.

Keeping on top of emails

Lots of emails as always. I have a holiday plan to keep on top of emails both work and personal. I am checking work ones but only answering those that are urgent. My primary aim is simply to lurk in the background and keep an eye on what is happening. With my personal account, I continue one of my favourite things of following interesting leads via various e-bulletins then sharing these on social media for others and so I know where they are if I want to go back to them in the future.

Tech4Good for Africa Award – nominations close 8 May

One last week to go when nominations can be made for our new Tech4Good for Africa Award. Details here and please spread the word. Deadline to apply is 8 May.

tech matters for Africa

Brighton

Bob

Mon started in Brighton as I had stayed over to see my old chaps, the ones I keep an eye on now they are both vulnerable. Left the hotel and made my way to see Bob at his nursing home. Weather was OK though a bit cooler than I would have liked. But we still went out as he has the opportunity to get out so rarely. Made sure he was warm and down to the coffee shop where we sit and watch the world go by. He’s getting a hearing aid which hopefully will make communication easier. I think he really needs a better wheelchair as well.

Brian

Onwards to see Brian for lunch. Though I popped into my favourite charity shop first to have a quick look around and buy some retro gay books (or in the new marketing speak ‘pre-owned’). Me and Brian went to our usual cafe after the previous time’s excursion to a pizza/pasta place. He was OK though very concerned about his beloved dog who had gone in for a biopsy on something on his leg. The dog is 12 so relatively old and costing Brian a fortune in vet’s bills. Brian has agreed he won’t have another one though I wouldn’t be surprised if he does not keep to that. Train back to London and went to see mum and brother before my hols began.

brighton pier

Health and efficiency

Thanks to everyone for their support

No gym, no weight, no jog-run, no swim – nada! No time.

But I did want to do a call-out. My previous week’s blog around depression seemed to have meaning for many people. It’s amazing how large the number is of us dealing with depression and anxiety; individuals who you wouldn’t think it affected. The problem being that it is invisible. So if you had an all-over rash then everyone would know you are ill (like the time I started my HIV meds but that is another story). But with depression there is nothing to see. It really is horribly fascinating how many of us walk the tightrope of good-bad mental health. And a big thank you to everyone who reached out to me. I have some brilliant, caring friends.

The power of removing yourself physically

The depression is better this week, well it would be as I’m on holiday. But seriously, one of the key things for me in dealing with depression is physically changing where I am. Leaving Brighton in large part dealt with my breakdown. And small breaks from London help me. Especially when it is to warmer places. But I still like to keep control particularly through the use of tech and remote working. It’s about staying in control in order to not feel overwhelmed.

Books and reading

‘Rebels and Traitors’ by Lindsey Davis

Lindsay is an author I really like. She has written a whole collection of novels around the adventures of a Roman private investigator Marcus Didius Falco. This is an unusual novel for her being a one-off about the English Civil War of the 1640s. It is an absolute epic that sprawls over 700 pages. The concentration is on a handful of realistic and likeable characters whose lives cross at certain points. It’s also a very good potted history of the civil war and its aftermath. Indeed, the salutary message is really the need to avoid such conflicts at all costs because of the enduring human damage they cause – death, mindless violence, murder of civilians, PTSD. Still very relevant today when one thinks of conflicts such as those in the Balkans or Syria.

Painting depicting beheading of Charles I

‘The Revenant’ by Michael Punke

This is one of those books I have been meaning to read for ages. I never got round to seeing the film, being put off by its length.  The book itself is OK (though I love the author’s surname). In many ways, an old-fashioned Western adventure filled with hard-bitten trappers and fundamentally nasty Indians. Perfectly decent though also a bit OTT the way the hero survives again and again and again. The grizzly attack is quite straight-forward, not like the apparent rape contained in the movie. The big surprise for me was finding out at the end of the book that it is based on a true story and most of the characters really existed. Perhaps I dismiss too lightly the ability of humans to endure terrible situations?

Dr Who audio Adventures

‘Love and War’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy and companion Ace)

An adventure based on one of the Virgin New Adventure books that came out in (and held the line during) the interregnum between the TV series with Sylvester McCoy ending (Michael Grade hated Dr Who) and the resurrection with the wonderful Christopher Eccleston (sexy as). I have not read the book but this audio adventure is quite hard work. Indeed I had to listen to it twice. It struck me that perhaps stuff from the book had been left out or glossed over as this adventure zooms around with limited explanation in order to fit its time slot. Main take-aways are that Ace falls in love and Professor Benny Summerfield has her first meeting with the Doctor. She goes on to being a companion plus whole adventures of her own have developed on audio and in print.

Looking ahead

So good stuff for next week:

  • Two more days of holiday then a long day of travelling back on Wednesday. We probably won’t be home till 2am in the morning.
  • A meeting in work on Thursday morning, if I make it, about the projects assessed for our TechVsAbuse grants
  • A big consultation event on Friday morning followed by meetings with interesting people in the afternoon
  • I will continue to keep on top of emails without getting involved
  • Family birthday meal at the weekend
  • Doing a jog-run at the weekend, weather permitting. Might limit myself to a 5K so I am eased back gently.
  • Gym session on the other weekend day.
  • Duolingo/languages every day and some coding learning
  • Hopefully another couple of books read and the Velvet Page book club on Thurs evening though again depending on how knacked I am
  • Listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures

And finally… Fantastic news that my job-share Nissa had a lovely little baby boy!

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