From Brighton to Berlin with work in between

Mon 19 – Sun 25 Feb 2018

Last week began with me waking up in Brighton and ended falling asleep in Berlin. But I’m not on my sabbatical and so work is still happening – indeed it was busy in the midst of this.


My favourite charity shop

After seeing my old chaps on Sunday, me and Dave stayed over. Monday morning, I got up early to work on my blog and visit my favourite charity shop (the Sussex Beacon one in St James Street) particularly to look at their stock of secondhand gay books. Meanwhile Dave went off to the flea market to pick up a ‘beautiful’ commemorative mug he had asked them to put aside for his overnight consideration. Not my cup of tea at all but then it keeps him quiet. 11.30 train back to London. A good time seeing Bob, Brian and Rob – all of which can be read about in last week’s blog.

The challenge of being LGBT and getting old

Older LGBT representationBrian is very ill and confused, I’m going to have to call him regularly and also try to get down to see him a bit more frequently. He’s the classic example of how things can be difficult for old people with no family or family who don’t want to keep in touch with them.

This is going to be a real issue for the LGBT community as we get older and we need to think now about how we are going to deal with it. Otherwise we are going to end up as a group of isolated and lonely vulnerable old people ripe for exploitation.


A long weekend in Berlin, starting on Thurs and ending the following Tues. This is the last remnant of my cancelled sabbatical. Basically me and Dave were going to do an extended period in Berlin and this was the starting point.

So rather than being the launch pad, it was now simply a long weekend. But a very welcome one as we like Berlin and know it well. Indeed our time there was very relaxing and a welcome break from being busy at work.

Travel to a very cold Berlin

Nollendorfplatz stationEarly start, up at 6.30am. Perfectly decent flight from Heathrow to Tegel and then we used Uber to travel to our hotel. We’ve stayed before though it is one too expensive at popular times of the year. I had forgotten how the hotel is fantastically located in the heart of the gay area around Nollendorfplatz. Really cold in Berlin in February (no shit Sherlock); some days during daylight it did not get over zero so minus temperatures both day and night. It always fell well into minus figures during the night.

A couple of shocks to our usual routine

Laptop and a coffee

First, our favourite coffee shop (Romeo und Romeo) was closed due to a fire. But there were coffee shops to replace it and it will reopen.

Second, Dave’s favourite chicken & chips shop was also shut for renovation. It’s the place he always goes after a night out. Everything else was open though the whole place was a lot sleepier than at Easter, Pride or Folsom – and better for it.


Tired man asleepAny ideas I had of wild partying soon went because I realised I just wanted to chill whilst the cold made moving around at night bloody hard work.

So days of pottering around coffee places, shops and bars. Many trips to the nearby Brezel cafe for great coffee, cakes and wifi. And drinks at the hotel bar, Prinznecht or even The Bull if you fancied dipping into this crazy 24 hour party pub described on line as ‘particular’ though I think they meant ‘peculiar’. πŸ™‚ We inevitably spent some time wandering along Kurfurstendam.

I love Europe

Berlin generally was quite sleepy though still a big city with lots happening. Sunday was particularly strange with all the shops shut like in the awful England I remember in my childhood. And fascinating how many people were around from other nations. Lots of Italians and Spaniards – why would you want to escape from the warmth? But also French and Portuguese, I loved the whole European mix. This for me is the brilliance of the EU, people partying together rather than fighting. Also lots of Brits though sometime they could be a pretty dull and provincial bunch.

Eating out

Food is one of my great pleasures (which primarily explains why I’m fat) and this was great in Berlin especially as we know some nice restaurants now and have realised the importance of reserving tables for the evening.

Thurs night we went to our favourite Italian in the gay village where a hen party was taking place. Great fun though the bride looked like she was going to throw up at any moment. Fri it was Elephant – another fun and gay restaurant serving traditional German food especially various types of schnitzel. Sat was Zsa Zsa Burgers – bustling fun and a wonderful menu of different burgers. Sun was Feinberg’s for lunch, a Jewish restaurant actually very similar to much Middle Eastern cuisine and then Sissi in the evening – Autrian (basically German) cuisine.


In between Brighton and Berlin, last week I had a little solid chunk of every day working so different from my normal day-on day-off routine. Last week I did Mon afternoon on my return from Brighton followed by all day Tues and Wed before I went to Berlin on Thurs. Lots going on at work with details of some of the stuff below. Other more mundane but important things including setting next year’s budgets as our financial year ends 31st July.

Sport Relief is coming

Work is particularly busy because it is now the run-up to Sport Relief, our annual fundraising event (each year we alternate between Red Nose Day and Sport Relief). Everyone is so keen to get things right and there is lots going on. We use the money to fund some amazing work in the UK and internationally so please do think about how you might get involved and raise money.

Come to the Science Museum on the evening of Wed 28th

On Wed 28th Feb I am volunteering at the late opening of the Science Museum as there is a Sport Relief focus. Sounds good fun if you fancy coming along.

Red Shed interviews

Doing assessmentsTues was interviews for the person to oversee our Social Investment and Innovation fund (Red Shed) reporting to me. We had six excellent candidates who I am confident could all manage the fund successfully. That made choosing very difficult.

I interviewed with my job-share Dilhani and we left it till the next day to make our final decision on two to be invited back for second interview. But I really can’t emphasise how blessed we were to interview 6 bloody good people.

Dilhani, Dan & Nick

Wed was largely about catching up with Dilhani before I go away as she will be on leave by the time I return. She has booked to do a 2 week yoga retreat in Spain that will help with her ambition to also be a yoga teacher. It’s hilarious that we both booked stuff because we thought we would be on sabbatical or made redundant and now we are still working and all these trips away are great but really distracting when work is so busy.

Also caught up with Dan Sutch of CAST and Nick Stanhope of Shift on Wed. With both it was great to test some social investment ideas with them.

Collective Global Accelerator

I attended the day last year when people on this accelerator presented what they are trying to achieve. It’s an accelerator for people around the world setting up companies and charities to do good and deliver social benefit with many (but not all) using tech. This year, I was delighted to be asked to be involved in the selection of the next accelerator intake. Probably unwise in that I’ve got so much on but great to read about such fascinating ventures. So another thing I did in Berlin was read through the shortlisted organisations for the accelerator and score them. More details about this accelerator can be foundΒ here

Health and Efficiency

Male body artBasically nothing to report. πŸ™ No time last week to do any gym or other exercise. Some walking around Berlin and I am checking (partly through the Sport Relief app) that I am doing my 10,000 steps each day. It is easy to over eat in Berlin with wonderful cakes plus hearty German food. But the fact that the weekend was so chilled made me less hungry and I was quite moderate in my food intake. Though there was a bit of alcohol such as afternoon glasses of wine. πŸ™‚

Personal Development

ChillinMy intention of using Duolingo whilst away went to pot. However I was surrounded by the German language and pieces of it kept coming back to me. I can often guess what people are saying though everyone speaks English in Berlin.

No coding practice either. But one thing I did do was to keep on top of my emails. I spent time doing this in Berlin and it made me feel the weekend was useful as well as ensuring that I didn’t feel under pressure for my return.

Books and Reading

‘Deadly Election’ by Lindsey Davis

I discovered Lindsey Davis several years ago and really like her writing. She writes historical novels all of which are very well written and strongly researched. I particularly fell in love with her series of books detailing the adventures of Roman private investigator Marcus Didius Falco. His adventures finished a while ago and it felt like she was hanging up her pen. But then she started a whole new series centred on his adopted daughter Albia who is following in his footsteps. A great adventure following a murder during the election of Rome’s aediles. Excellent reading and highly recommended.

The Week Ahead

  • Finishing our lovely break in Berlin on Tues and flying back to the UK
  • Work all day Wed and Fri including my volunteering stint at the Science Museum on Wed night
  • Velvet Page Book Club on Thurs and hopefully I will have read the book in time. There is something else also happening that night I have been invited to (at the Science Museum!) but I think I will have to miss it.
  • I can’t see a jog-run happening next week because of the cold weather so hopefully 3 gym visits
  • I am going to start doing Duolingo more regularly when I get back to London (and some coding practice…)
  • And I am definitely going to keep up the good work and stay on top of my emails even if weekends seem to be the key time to make sure this happens

And Finally…

We all failed this young man πŸ™

If you need inspiration

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