Berlin is probably off – damned coronavirus :(

Sun 8 – Sat 14 March 2020

A couple of big themes to last week. Most prominent has been the ongoing coronavirus situation. And in particular whether me and Dave can go on our long planned week away to Berlin? The other has been Sport Relief – the big fundraiser linked to the work I do.


We booked a week away in Berlin about 2 months ago. A nice break to take place just before the busy period that is Easter. A nice chance to enjoy Berlin when it is relatively quiet and not too full of tourists. And we managed to get a cheap booking in a very la-di-da hotel we’ve often wished we could stay in. But now – fuckity-upity! 🙁

Brandenburg Gateway in Berlin

Flights are still going to Germany but a lot of public spaces are closed down. For example, the big dance club Berghain. Is there any point in being somewhere ‘on holiday’ where you can’t go to bars, clubs, museums, restaurants, and have to sit a metre apart in coffee shops? There is also the risk of getting stuck if travel to and from Germany is restricted, especially unattractive if that means we are just quarantined in a hotel with nothing do to. Might as well be quarantined at home. 🙁

Work-Life Balance

Sport Relief

Work has been focused on Sport Relief for a while. My colleagues have been doing some sterling in-house fundraising: sweepstakes, bake-offs (Dave contributed an excellent banana bread loaf), sponsored runs, etc. Having a clear focus to what you are doing, often something very practical, is a good way to be invigorated by work. I ran a sweepstake but my big thing was sorting out a collection rota for Friday at two train stations.

On Fri morning itself I led a group of 4 people and we collected nearly £442 shaking buckets at Charing Cross station. Really great as Fridays are quiet days generally (it’s the de facto WAH (work at home) day) and even more quiet with people WAH due to the virus. We arrived at 7am and finished at 10am.

I then headed up to Paddington to join 3 other colleagues. Unfortunately they had to leave soon after so I stayed on my own. Called it quits about 2.45pm. We raised nearly £167 there. 🙂

Why I enjoy fundraising

I actually do enjoy fundraising whereas lots of people don’t. For me, it’s the fun of just being slightly audacious and taking risks – if you don’t ask you don’t get. 🙂 It’s also great to connect up with donors and have a real, albeit sometimes brief, relationship. Believing in your work and raising money for it that involves real communication with other people definitely makes a job more worthwhile. 🙂

Coronavirus impact

To write about work-life balance and ignore the coronavirus impact at the moment would be a dereliction of duty. So many of us are being forced to WAH. Wisely at my workplace we are having a drill next week where the office is closed for one day and we have to WAH to test how it goes.

Old fashioned view of video conference

WAH at least one day each week is a great way to pace yourself at work and deal with day-to-day work related hassles. But enforced long-term WAH due to the coronavirus may be quite trying. Just like having to cancel a potentially brilliant holiday in Berlin. 🙁

Health and Efficiency

A slightly weird week regarding my usual exercise routine. No jog-run as the one I would normally do on Sat has been moved to Sun so it will be in next week’s blog. 🙂 And no yoga on Fri as I was out collecting money for Sport Relief. Indeed, Sat became a relaxing ‘do nothing’ day with lots of recuperating sleep as my legs ached after standing for so long (about 9 hours) on Fri.


I am determined to get to the gym before the coronavirus crisis means it might have to shut. 3 sessions last week: Mon, Tues, and Thurs. All good ones with focus on different body parts plus not spending more than 60 mins in total there. 🙂


One treat I did give myself last week (partly to deal with the depression from thinking about Berlin not going ahead) was to have massage. Not one of my great THT ones but a more expensive private one. Through work we are enrolled in a health insurance scheme and are allowed to claim for one therapeutic massage each year. So a treat to myself. 🙂


A one hour deep-tissue / sports massage which meant the masseur went in quite tough on the parts of my body I asked him to focus on: legs and lower back. Also included some upper back, I think all massage includes upper back. Felt my muscles had been very thoroughly worked afterwards. 🙂

Family and Friends

Mum – coronavirus worries 🙁

This bloody virus is causing real concerns about our mums for me and Dave. Indeed, he went up to see his for a couple of days last week. She has a great circle of friends and loads of local support. But he wanted to take a chance to see her possibly before we all go into quarantine.

I have been staying at Dave’s a couple of nights each week simply to reduce my mum’s exposure to potential infection if I stay with her. Indeed, I don’t hug or kiss her at the moment and I’m encouraging her not to go out too much. The worry will be if I do fall ill. If it’s with her then I might infect her. If it’s at Dave’s then she would not be at risk but she would be on her own and could still fall sick alone. 🙁

Swing It

Really great to see my old Brighton friend Rob, affectionately known as Swing It, last Sun. 🙂 Perhaps the last bit of normality for a while. Me, him and Dave had lunch together and then just me and Rob went down to Tate Britain to visit the two pay-to-view exhibitions. A lovely afternoon spent catching up about his new flat in Hove, his holidays in Spain, and how things are going at his work. 🙂

Art and Culture

Aubrey Beardsley

So this was the first exhibition we viewed using my Tate membership. Very busy and I was amazed to find that Beardsley only lived for 25 years and was only artistically active for 6 years. An exhibition with many of his amazing works including some of his famous erotica which apparently he had wanted destroyed on his death. And his influence was massive not least on the development of Art Nouveau and 1960s/70s design. What a talent and a tragic loss, what might have been if he had lived… 🙁

British Baroque

The second exhibition was far quieter. But also felt more like a traditional art exhibition. Indeed, the word I would use to describe it is ‘sumptuous’. Art from the Stuart court 1660 (Restoration of Charles II when England showed it is tied to the apron strings of royalty) until 1715 (the end of the Stuarts and accession of George I). A period of huge change: Restoration, Glorious Revolution, Wars, Political Struggle, Union with Scotland, and the accession of the Germanic House of Hanover.

The art is grand, over the top, heavily ladened with symbolism, and weighted for propaganda purposes. The sort of exhibition to float around and not think about the sad, hard lives of real people at the time.

Books and Reading

Only one book read last week but reading will get me through this coronavirus crisis. Indeed, being quarantined with loads of reading books is sort of attractive. 🙂 Don’t forget a list of the books I have read can be found here.

‘The King’s Evil’ by Andrew Taylor

3rd in the series of the adventures of effectively a civil servant employed to sort out problems for King Charles II. All a bit silly but beautifully written and very evocative of the restoration period. It reminds me immensely of similar early modern crime series by CJ Sansom and SJ Parris. Lots of intrigue and a mixed up love interest – fun reading that’s not totally mindless. 🙂

The Week Ahead

  • Gonna have to make a decision about Berlin. I think we will leave it till the evening before but I’m now 90% sure we won’t be going to my beloved Berlin. 🙁 If we don’t go then I will cancel the leave days I have taken from work and just work ‘normally’.
  • Even if Berlin doesn’t happen, my working week is going to be a bit different. The trial WAH day on Tues is one where I am working all day. I am leading a discussion with another team in the morning – presume we will be doing it online. And at an external catch-up in the afternoon.
  • Aim is at least 3 gym sessions and community yoga on Fri if we don’t go to Berlin. Plus at least one 10K jog-run (bit of a spoiler as I’m writing this blog on Sun after having done the 10K – it wasn’t a good one 🙁 ).
  • Me and Dave were due to meet our friend Stuart for dinner last Mon but he was ill so it might happen this Mon evening
  • Gotta keep on going with the coronavirus and hopefully mum (and everyone else I love) will be OK
  • Currently reading a difficult but intriguing book – ‘Seven Surrenders’, the second in the Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer

And Finally…

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