Is May the best month of the year?

Sunday 17 – Saturday 23 May

May is a brilliant month. OK it includes my birthday but we’ve also got two bank holidays and the weather is generally good. And then there’s Eurovision plus this week we had the fantastic commitment to equality by Ireland though I do accept that the month has been tempered by a pretty bad general election result.

Guess where I was at the start of my last blog week?
It’s becoming a bit of a regular – I was in Glasgow, a city I really enjoy. I was supposed to be up there for a monitoring event that got moved to two weeks later. There was no chance of a refund on my cheap hotel and flight so I decided to use the trip and arranged alternative meetings. On the previous Sunday after my jog-run, I got a packed Gatwick Express train then another packed flight up to Scotland. Sadly it was sunny when I left London but raining in Scotland. Rain was a theme for my two days there though apparently Monday in London was dreadful as well.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell 
I know the city a bit now so I quickly got the shuttle bus in and checked into my hotel which also busy – was everybody converging on Glasgow for a reason I didn’t know? Out for dinner at the local world buffet; I didn’t feel guilty because I had done my jog-run that morning and since then only eaten a croissant and a packet of crisps (so, overall, a very healthy eating day -not!). Back to my room to watch Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I adored the book and really liked the TV programme – dark and gothic. Down to the bar for a medicinal drink before bed – my manflu was still hanging around and I was going through handkerchiefs at a rate of knots.

Glorious Glasgow
input-666438_1280Scotland is so fascinating at moment. It is very politicised and there is a real feeling that it is different to England as well as an assertive community vibe – people want to do new things and be noticed for this. I think this feeling is strong in Glasgow because it is Scotland’s biggest city with an impressive history and culture i.e. Rennie Mackintosh. The Commonwealth Games did a lot to create a new corporate pride and identity (as with the European City of Culture for Liverpool) and this has been reinforced by the Referendum and General Election where Glasgow voted ‘Yes’ and SNP.

A day of good meetings
I slept OK but realised in Scotland things get darker later and lighter earlier. Awake by 7.30 on Monday and out for a coffee before a day of meetings. My first was with a group of colleagues to talk about potential new project grant bids – hope one comes off as it is exciting and could have a good impact. Then I met up with my old friend Chris to talk tech, politics, and about him being a dad with two young children which has changed his life. Then a meeting with Chris Young and Eleanor of SeeMe to talk about the ‘Walk a (Royal) Mile in My Shoes’ initiative I have featured in a separate post with a video about the mental health awareness-raising walks Chris does around the British Isles, read his blog here

Still ill but back to the office in London with rude Canadians on the tube
Back to the hotel to warm up, I was feeling so cold temperature-wise partly because it is cooler the further North one goes and partly because of my manflu. I didn’t sleep as well as the night before partly linked to staying up late watching a good programme on Channel Four about people on a London night bus – wonderfully strange people some lacking social skills on a big level. I awoke a lot during the night and got up around 6.30. Coffee and then the shuttle back to the airport. Everything was so busy again; a packed flight back to London and we arrived late. Into work on the tube with a particularly obnoxious Canadian tourist family who were speaking very loudly with lots of swearing making it clear they did not care what other travellers might think about this. Strange because I always thought Canadians were supposed to be very polite. I got into work around 2.30 and the main thing was a conference call to follow up on one of yesterday’s conversations about a possible new exciting project.

Wednesday at work, Solaris missed, and mum shocked
Monday and Tuesday were obviously work days last week and Wednesday I was in the office all day with the main thing being getting further info to decide on who we should fund with our new Tech for Good pilot programme. The main thing our shortlisted 13 needed to do was to make a video explaining and presenting their application. On Wednesday night I had considered going to see the original Russian version of the film ‘Solaris’ satellite-67718_1280(not the George Clooney remake) because it is claimed to be such a classic. But it didn’t start until 8.30 and I was knackered so I simply had a night in with mum who was on good form. One of the funniest things being that she had got a new modern murder-mystery book to read but had to stop because the storyline had shocked her, ‘absolutely filthy – it’s like porn’

Chill-out Thursday
My non-office days last week were Thursday and Friday but I felt so so wound up with the busyness of work and still not totally recovered from my manflu so that I was not 100% sure how to relax! Thursday I helped mum with laundry then went off to the gym. I drifted onto Govinda’s for an Indian vegetarian lunch then onto Notting Hill to check out exchanges where I got a couple of secondhand Dr Who DVDs and a selection of 50p books from their chaotic basement using vouchers previously earned by trading in books. Then I walked home across glorious Holland Park listening to Dr Who stories on my ipod and spent the rest of the day with mum including watching the Eurovision second semi..

download (3)Eurovision heaven 
Hopefully it did not pass your attention that last week was Eurovision week; one of the best description I ever heard is that this is the gay equivalent of the World Cup. And indeed I know several friends who always go off to the final wherever in Europe it is taking place. Unfortunately I missed most of the first semi-final on Tuesday evening because I was at my WordPress User Group London. However I did see all of the second semi on Thursday because I was in for the evening with mum. She would rather have watched the British Soap Awards but thankfully spent most of the time talking on the phone to one of her friends and my brother. M1And then the wonderful final on Saturday. I had a great evening watching it lying on Dave’s sofa with a glass of wine. I’ve posted the winning Swedish song by Mans Zelmerlow which I think is a classic and I was so pleased Russia didn’t win. A nice peace song (oh the irony!) but I am pretty sure Eurovision 2016 in Moscow would have been as propagandic as the Olympics in Berlin in 1936. I can imagine the wholesome, family-orientated programme that would have been served up. And how gorgeous is Mans…?

INR Friday then doing nothing
Friday I went down first thing to get my INR checked. This measures the level of clotting in my blood and I am supposed to have it done regularly as I am on warfarin. But it’s a drag and I last had a check done in December (I should have had it re-done in March). Derek the phlebotomist did the check and he’s a good bloke. 2.8 which is fine if a wee bit high. Onto the gym for primarily a cardio session. Lunch at a cheap Chinese (with a very complaining tourist on the next table) and then back to Dave’s to spend the afternoon relaxing especially with my latest very enjoyable reading book ‘The Siege’ followed by an early night after the soaps.

Magical Saturday 
CFmW0nPW0AAaWF8I felt like I wanted to do my jog-run so I got up around 7 and went out for a coffee and to get my leg muscles moving. As you can see on my separate jog-run page, it was a good one. No escaping that Saturday was a wonderful day because of the fantastic Irish referendum result and Eurovision. Dave went off to the Chelsea Flower Show whilst I did a tour of charity shops in Pimlico and Chelsea picking up books and wrestling outfit that unfortunately did not fit. I met Dave outside Chelsea just in case he needed my help to carry the plants he had bought as has happened before. He only bought a couple of clematis so home for Eurovision whilst Dave went out to XXL to see Ben Cohen. Bit of bad news late on in the evening – mum phoned to say my brother had to go to A+E, turns out he has a serious skin infection on his leg that is affecting his whole body.

Exercise and health
It was an excellent week exercise-wise even though my manflu took ages to shift (and is still there a bit). Two jog-runs in one week achieved. The first on the previous Sunday morning and the other on Saturday morning just gone. I wasn’t really sure about the former because of my manflu but it turned out well. Then the Saturday jog-run was also a success – I am now running to a distance and extending it each week. Gym on Thursday and Friday though I left off the rowing machine on Thursday and concentrated on weights then vice versa the next day. Rowing machine and weights in a single session just felt too much. Friday I concentrated on doing up to 20 reps with lighter weights so it really was a cardio workout. Weight done midweek and the usual 13-7.

Digital development
global_433116124The main thing around this was the monthly meeting of the WordPress User Group London I attended on Tuesday evening at the Westminster Hub based in New Zealand House in central London. I missed the last one because I was going on holiday early the next day and that really disappointed me – it is always a useful place to pick up tips. The slides of each meeting are available but that doesn’t pick up the conversation and helpful hints that happen spontaneously. The session last week was on web accessibility and setting up a blog, these provided food for thought rather than hard creativeness but it was also good to chat to some of the old regulars though there were also a lot of new people.

Books
Two books dominated last week. The first was ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton. This has been very popular and I particularly went for it because I saw it in Gay’s the Word, I had no idea there was a gay sub-plot. It’s a very well written first novel and I particularly enjoyed it as a historical drama but, to be frank, there was too much going on in the plot over a quite short period of time and I really wasn’t sure that the fantasy under-pinning worked well. Overall, very engaging but it would have been better as a more straight-forward piece of historical fiction. Then onto ‘The Siege’ by Arturo Perez-Reverte which really feels quite wonderful. I hope this last to the end of the book and my aim is to write about it as a separate blog during the coming week.

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