Mon 13th – Sun 19th Nov 2017
The main thing about last week was my holiday to Torremolinos. First big time out of London since Folsom Berlin in Sept. Nis is back from maternity leave and Tech for Good 2018 is launched such that I didn’t have to worry about taking a break. If my sabbatical goes ahead, then the theme is all about finding places nearby in Southern Europe where I could be a digital nomad for winter and leave cold and grey London. I know Gran Canaria and me + Dave have booked to go to Athens in February. Andalucia in southern Spain is on my list as is also Lisbon and Tel Aviv. So I decided to have a mini-break in Torremolinos. Just outside Malaga, it is easy to get to with a decent winter climate and a nice gay scene.
Easy flight & hotel check in
Out on Wed morning on a flight busy with rich pensioners chasing the sun (I’m not quite there yet). A wonderfully easy journey from the aeropuerto to Torremolinos by train. About 20 mins and only 1.90 Euros compared to £32 for the Gatwick Express. I was not sure where my hotel was but I could see it as soon as I got out of the station. Receptionist was slightly surly noting I had only booked the room and nothing else including breakfast. Had to pay for a safe and free wi-fi was only available in the ground floor lobby – hmmm 🙁 Room was perfectly decent if a mite old-fashioned. Very much a hotel for elderly Germans and Scandinavians.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) November 18, 2017
Torremolinos really is Spanish for Blackpool
Torremolinos (and perhaps the whole brilliant Costa Del Sol) is fundamentally like Blackpool but with decent weather and more classy. People go there from across Spain and Europe for a holiday. And there’s a fair sprinkling of people who have moved there permanently and seem to spend their lives drinking alcohol, smoking and making their skin look more like leather. It’s a place to relax, chill and not take life too seriously. The weather for my whole week there was beautiful. Sunny (around 20 degrees) during the day though cool in the shade and positively cold at night. I did manage to wear my shorts during the day a couple of times though most Spaniards walked about in quilted jackets, scarves and hats.
Food was good as well. There’s a surprising amount of Indian restaurants which is great because I love a nice curry. But I also came across an excellent ‘gay’ restaurant (La Kanela), brilliant home-cooked German food at Britta’s Casita, and even a lovely little French creperie. And tons of nice little coffee shops often with very nice cakes on offer to accompany.
Out on my first afternoon for a wander around the gay area. It’s small and similar to the shopping centre feel of the Yumbo in Gran Can. Found a nice little bar called Vanilla (oh the irony) which was full of semi-alcoholic ex-pats many of them gay. Fun atmosphere and this really became my basecamp for the whole week. Every night I was there sipping my drink and reading my book. The gay scene itself really only came alive on Fri and Sat night. And then only after midnight. I did try out the Apolo Sauna on Sun afternoon which is highly recommended – reasonable, clean, and spacious. Think there were some people there from the main gay club Querell still partying.
In a previous blogs, I have talked about the recuperating power of sleep. This kicked in on the holiday. Most days I had a disco nap in the afternoon – glasses of wine during the day help this process. This set me up for a nice evening. I also switched my alarm off so I was able to luxuriate in bed as long as I wanted each morning. Lots of waking up during the night but lovely to roll over and just sleep because I had no reason to get up.
Indeed the whole holiday was a brilliant balance of time on my own to chill and just do whatever I wanted to do. But interspersed with meet-ups with friends who I had not seen for a while.
Gordon & David
Thurs it was over to see mine and Dave’s mates David & Gordon. Very simple train journey to Fuengirola where they picked me up. Then up to the top of the hills above where they live to look down on the coast. Their house itself is beautiful including a pool. Off to the very pleasant town of Mijas to look round including the shrine to the Virgin Mary and the donkeys pulling their little carriages. An excellent tapas lunch before back to Torremolinos.
Phyllis aka Philip
Then on Sat, I met up with my old work colleague Philip who has retired to nearby Torrox. He’s a laugh and we know each other very well. Met for lunch then checked out his hotel (Natursun) which was very nice and realised it was very near the main gay club (Querell) slightly outside of the centre of town. Coffee and wine before disco naps then met up again for more drinks and a nice curry. We both struggle with late nights and around midnight the gay area still wasn’t up to full speed. I called it a night and he decided to head back to his hotel but ‘popped’ into Querell staying till 5.30am! A whisky in the hotel bar (I love the weirdness of hotel bars) and then crashed.
Books and Reading
A week of good, solid reading achieved. That for me is one of the main points of a holiday.
‘Marvel 1602’ by Neil Gaiman
I have a soft spot for graphic novels. Although I have never really been into comics. There is a real skill in constructing a good graphic novel combining effective illustration, well structured dialogue, and a coherent plot. This is a novel by the brilliant writer of many great fantasy novels. It brings together a whole host of superheroes (some I know and some I don’t) then places them in history just as Elizabeth I dies and James I comes to the throne of England. Obviously it is more than just simple history but a fun piece of fantasy writing. Pure escapism and what is wrong with that?
‘Making Money’ by Terry Pratchett
I should say Sir Terry. I don’t agree with the honours system particularly when it rewards crap politicians simply for staying alive or unpleasant businessmen like James Dyson who actually does little for the UK economy. But Terry’s knighthood was well deserved as he was a genius who gave pleasure to millions. Its amazing that he produced so many brilliant books particularly in the Discworld series. So sad that he has been taken from us by dementia.
This is a really good adventure with some familiar characters such as ‘tyrant’ Lord Vetinari and Sir Moist Lipwig who we met previously when he turned around the City of Ankh-Morpock’s Post Office. Here he turns his attention to its dodgy banking system. Perhaps not one of the best Discworld novels as sometimes it feels a bit clunky, plot-wise rather than in reference to Golems (in-joke :)). But his writing is so clever and the whole novel bubbles with wonderful but perceptive silliness.
‘Treachery’ by S J Parris
The ongoing adventures of the real-life Italian heretic monk Giordano Bruno, though with a lot of artistic licence. He travels to Plymouth and gets mixed up with a murder on a ship overseen by Sir Francis Drake. It’s hilarious the way so much historical fiction has to bring in a famous person. This is a wonderfully contrived book. But it is also brilliantly written – very engaging and you feel totally involved in the time period. Don’t take it too seriously and it is a very good read. Though sobering to note that in real-life after Giordano left England he was caught by the Inquisition and burnt at the stake.
Dr Who Audio Adventures
‘The Brood of Erys’ (sixth Doctor + Flip)
A nice adventure featuring Colin Baker and Flip, a companion we never met on the TV and who only exists in the audio adventures. Basically she’s a lovable young woman who you could definitely call street savvy. In the spirit of Ace, Rose and Donna. The Tardis takes the pair to an adventure featuring a living moon and his children. It does feel like a sort of cobbled together story with lots of different things going on. And some stuff is definitely borrowed from other audio and TV adventures. But as a self-contained adventure it works and brings out the best in this much maligned incarnation of the Doctor.
Tech for Good
Only one day in the office last week and that was Tuesday – a very busy day. An 8.15 meeting with one of our UK Tech & HIV projects. Followed by a meeting with two young entrepreneurs looking at how to improve the grant-making systems we use. A good catch-up with Nissa covering Tech for Good 2018 (you can find out more and apply here) plus some future thinking. A catch-up with my colleague Matt who is working remotely.
Then a meeting after lunch with Rosie and Sian from Toynbee Hall to review the e-learning platform for their Digital Money Mentors scheme that I have been funding the development of. Obvious work bureaucracy to deal with such as emails and finished off with a catch-up call with a consultant impressed by what I said in the article in Third Sector about funders needing to be more innovative.
Health and Efficiency
Not a week to focus on this. I did manage to get a gym session in on Mon morning. And my phone is set to record how many steps I take each day. So I focused on trying to achieve 10,000 daily which was fairly doable with my simple wanderings around Torremolinos. Bigger problem was almost certainly my not particularly healthy diet and the sharply increased intake of alcohol.
Again not a week for great strides forward bar having time simply to relax and chill as well as getting to know a new place. Nothing on DuoLingo though I hope being surrounded by Spanish may have done some good. And no coding practice. Just about kept on top of emails with sneaky little looks at both personal and work accounts here and there.
The Week Ahead
- Couple more days in Torremolinos and back to London on Tues
- Office on Wed primarily to catch up on emails I suspect plus a ‘funders who tech’ meeting
- Thurs, an event on digital accessibility which should be interesting. Citizen Beta meet-up in the evening but I might be too knacked.
- Gym at least once. Plus also a jog-run and perhaps a yoga session?
- Back to Duolingo and some coding practice
- Talk with Dave about time away next year
- Finish a couple more books and listen to some more Dr Who adventures
- Lunch with our great friends Patrick and Stephen on Sun