So as my work colleagues would say, I am on holiday again. Back to Gran Canaria on Thursday and to the usual hotel me and Dave go to. He couldn’t come because of work commitments (the fool) so I’ve gone on my own but I’m not going to have a crazy one; it’s about rest, recuperation, sun and reading. More details on Gran Can later but first an update on my visit to my very ill friend and my latest digital potterings.
Visiting my very ill friend
Last blog week started with difficulty as I went down to see my friend who is very ill with cancer. He lives in the countryside and, of course, the trains were a nightmare because of weekend engineering works. To Victoria to get a 9.30am train – very chaotic as basically one line working so one train going everywhere including Gatwick and Brighton. Journey took about 2 hours where it should have taken about an hour. Coming back was slightly better being only an hour and a half. I did use the journey productively doing lots of reading including assessments for work that needed signing off.
My mate looks so ill though as with meeting all ill people, the initial shock subsides as you stay with them and realise they are still the same person you know. He is going through a very hard time and is in lots of pain. Also he is quite confused about things. Indeed it was a bit like going back in time to my twenties when so many people I knew had AIDS. One of the blessings is that he has a very committed and patient partner. My friend is also eating better than he has and we had a shared lunch. They actually eat quite healthily and their home-made celeriac soup was really tasty.
Promised to try and get back to see them before Christmas though things on including a work trip to Scotland plus I also need to get to Brighton to see the old chaps who I missed visiting in November.
As per usual most of my digital achievements were connected to work. Did some remote working on Monday to ensure I could get everything done before I went away and office days were Tuesday and Wednesday. Although I did pop into work on Monday afternoon for a meeting with Dr Clive Grace the new Chair of the brilliant Nominet Trust http://www.nominettrust.org.uk – probably the key social tech funder in the UK. I deliberately just went in and out of the office without putting on my computer. Good meeting and a great organisation to be working with.
Should have gone to the Word Press User Group London on Tuesday night but felt exhausted after work and needed to pack my bag for going away. Regreted it afterwards with good write ups on social media; main topics had been ‘speed dating’ to share info about each other and our sites followed by a session on plug-ins. Also last one being run by the brilliant Eugene and his colleagues at Wholegrain Digital – many thanks guys and best wishes for the future.
Exciting news that my new colleague Sharron has started at work and she will be taking on some of my non-digital commitments so I can concentrate on digital. Strangely we know each other as we worked together on Millennium Volunteers about 18 years ago. Sad to lose projects I still feel a lot for though I may end up getting them back after our re-shuffle has completed plus sometimes you need to lose stuff to be able to move forward.
Meeting about social investment on Tuesday with Big Society Capital http://www.bigsocietycapital.com Basically this is the idea that not-for-profits such as charities and social enterprises can access different forms of funding alongside the traditional sources of grants and donations. So things like interest-free or low interest loans as well as social impact bonds. Largely about organisations being able to get capital to scale up products and services (usually income generating ones) without deconverting from being not-for-profit i.e. though offering shares in themselves or taking money off venture capitalists in a commercial arrangement.
Had a meeting to catch up about research we have been part-funding with a think tank looking at the current overall state of digital in not-for-profit sector generally. Their main finding is the need to do some work that rises above just organisational development but isn’t too big – primarily looking at sub-sectors to identify what is on offer and how users engage / want to engage so that there can be development of a more joined-up digital offering.
I also had a couple of very useufl catch ups with a colleague at the great tech outfit Red Ninja in Liverpool http://www.redninja.co.uk and also with a colleague who has moved from working at FACT in Liverpool http://www.fact.co.uk to BOM Birmingham Open Media http://www.bom.org.uk; I love being able to do e-introductions and encourage the development of networks.
Ongoing but very useful conference calls with a big tech partner about our very exciting digital development day in December – participants and agenda agreed plus grant application form and guidance sent out so participants can start working on project ideas in advance.
Final work thing is not digital but still stimulating. I have been reading the interim evaluation report on our work in supporting abstinence-based recovery communities. End of year one with another year to go but already good stuff identified on the key outcomes that come for people in recovery by being linked to these communities and generally about the importance of creating communities to assist people in maintaining their recovery from addiction.
So the bit you are all waiting for. An early morning flight on Thursday morning – 7.30am. That meant I was in bed on Wednesday night by 9.30pm and up on Thursday morning at 4.45am! Slept OK though woke at least once to check my watch. Stayed at Dave’s so could walk to Victoria and got the 5.15am Gatwick Express. Online check-in and a fully automated bag drop – no human involvement which was a bit scary but all worked fine. Four hour journey but left and arrived on time. It went really fast and, as usual, I spent most of the time reading. And a big shout out for the very good EasyJet in-flight magazine which was future-focused looking forward to the next 20 years to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary. Can’t imagine a world now without airlines like EasyJet, RyanAir, Jet2, etc.
Great connection at Las Palmas airport with Hoppa (formerly ResortHoppa) – highly recommended http://www.hoppa.com Then nice, easy check-in at mine and Dave’s regular hotel – Neptuno. 24 degrees when I arrived and people lying out by the pool. Took it easy with the Gran Canaria sun as many days to go yet and had a wander aroung the crazy but wonderful Yumbo centre. It never changes and I love it, the way various nationalities and experiences all collide together to create a total fun zone. Snooze and pooter catch up before showering for an evening out of a meal and drinks. Little surprise before I went out was a knock my door, it was the hotel delivering a basket of fruit and a bottle of wine.
Holiday quickly shifted into its usual pattern. I wake around 7.30 (an hour later than I normally do at home) and put my towel on a lounger by the pool. Then a light breakfast and a day lying out in the sun with lots of sun tan lotion and water – it’s really hot here. Couple of walks during the day over to the Yumbo to have coffee and chill at my favourite little coffee shop. Reading all day and after the sun has gone down it’s back to my room to do some pooter pottering. I have started back on DuoLingo though am more trying to rely on being immersed in Spain and listening to conversations around me.
Evenings have their own routine usually starting with a glass of wine then I go for dinner. Thursday night ate in the Yumbo – normal holiday meal of prawns cooked in garlic oil and then pork escalpe cordon bleu (cheese & ham). Friday ate outside the Yumbo at an Indian I am not normally allowed to go to because Dave does not like spicy food. Nice but bit too much like eating in UK (though I was eating al fresco in November). Saturday again outside the Yumbo to eat at an Icelandic restaurant – a bit bonkers. Then each night food followed by wine or a cocktail and watching the crazy passing trade in Yumbo. Finished off with Irish coffee and sleep in my room with the balcony door open so I am be able to listen to the soothing sounds of people enjoying themselves – first night someone was playing a harmonica.