My world stood still for a bit


Mon 30 July – Sun 5 Aug 2018

Drama around mum

The heat continues (it’s affecting mum’s TV which is upsetting her) but the main thing about last week was an ‘adventure’ on Thurs evening which made my world stand still for a little bit. I came back from Brighton after the scattering of Brian’s ashes (more below). Off the train and for coffee with Dave. I was supposed to go to the Velvet Page book club but felt knacked. Phoned mum to check-in on her – no answer, just ringing and then the request to leave a message.

mental healthThis went on for a couple of hours as I tried every 15 mins. My brother phoned to ask if I had spoken to mum as he couldn’t reach her either. So I dashed back to the flat on the tube with horrible images in my head of what I might find and how life could change.

She was fine thank goodness. My brother had also headed over to check all was OK. He was especially delicate following the death of his dog. Basically her phone had no ringtone even though it sounded to anyone phoning in that all was OK. I phoned BT and waited to speak to an advisor – yep there was a fault on the phone. Turns out the builders renovating our estate had cut through the phone wires (dicks). All was repaired on Fri but for a moment on the tube I really felt like time was moving very slowly and the world was changing. Will happen one day though.

Reflections on a quiet week

Brighton: Brian and David

Scattering Brian’s ashes

brighton pierThurs daytime to Brighton for the scattering of Brian’s ashes. Down early and checked out my favourite charity shop buying books that I then had to carry around all day. πŸ™ Coffee chills before meeting Brian’s cousin and her husband.

We walked with the official person to the Garden of Remembrance and there Brian’s ashes were scattered. They were in a stainless steel container that looked a bit like a very large tea urn. And the ashes came out of the bottom. There was quite a lot, whether they are all Brian’s – God only knows. It did make me realise how finite everything is. From dust and back to dust. Train back to London and the drama around mum unfolded.

Brian’s friend David – an inspiration

Sat afternoon I went to the hospital to see Brian’s long-term friend David. He also has lung cancer. πŸ™ He had his left lung completely removed. A dangerous operation not least because it is near his heart but also because he is in his 80s. He did smoke. Please if you smoke, STOP!

I was in awe of how well he looked. A 3 hour op and he was in a lot of pain (the surgeons had to break his ribs) plus on morphine. But 48 hours after the op he was awake, sitting up, and very lucid. Not sure I would be so good. A great example of the wonder of modern medicine and the resilience of the human spirit.

I walked along the busy and warm South Bank to meet up with Dave afterwards and we went for a nice meal at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo – a place for veterans. Then back for an early night.

motivational picture

Health and Efficiency


lady running in cold weatherOut early Sat morn but it was still warm. OK time of just over 1Β  hour, 5 mins, 30 secs. Best thing that no single km took over 7 mins. Bad thing was the heat and disruption to my normal route caused by the police closing off part of it.

When my gym closes, I’m thinking about a 10k each week plus a 5k mid-week and some long purposeful walks in-between.


Eddie HallHoped to do 3 times as it’s closing for 2 months but just twice: Tues & Sun mornings. Tues a lot of cardio but Sun I stuck to straight forward weights as I won’t be doing them for a while.

Or that’s what I thought. Turns out gym will be closing now on Sun 12th so I should be able to get in a couple of workouts this week coming. πŸ™‚ I particularly love going to the gym early on a Sun morning and having a coffee whilst the rest of the city is asleep.

Personal Development

The usual suspects

Coffee computer pen+paperOK on Duolingo and coding practice apps. 2 bad nights – Thurs & Fri. Both of those I was tired (my end of the week weariness) and didn’t do them before I went to sleep. Emails sort of under control but not at their best. Oh well, keep on keeping on. πŸ™‚

My sabbatical

recruiting sergeantI’ve had a brainwave about my sabbatical due to happen April-July 2019. I had been wracking my brain on a purposeful way to spend the time particularly travel abroad. But what if I just do nothing? I have always studied or worked and never had time when I am doing zilch. How nice just to take off 4 months and see what happens…

Sept breaks

Aug I’m not taking any time off work not least because loads of others are off with holidays and personal stuff (my line manager has to go to Australia due to the death of her mother-in-law πŸ™ ). I’m going to be around to fill gaps and support my colleagues. But I am having some time off in Sept. Me and Dave are going to Folsom in Berlin early Sept and then late Sept/early Oct I have booked myself a little break in Sitges. Dave doesn’t really like Sitges so I am going on my own.

Moving flat

After booking it, I remembered it may be at the same time that me and mum move to the new flat on our redeveloped estate. However it might be before or after that. Oh well, what I have done I have done and everything can’t be put on hold ‘just in case’. I know mum is worried about the move but it will be OK.


Reduce, reuse, recycle (in that order)

recycling symbol

The heat = global warming and climate change. Meanwhile we continue to consume as though there are no consequences and do a bit of recycling to make ourselves feel better. Though so much of it will never be recycled but instead go to landfill. Remember the 3 steps to sustainability in this priority order: reduce, reuse, recycle.

Reduce meat intake

Fruit and vegSo I’m trying little things to help the planet. I keep on using my recycle cup. One of the big things is that I have tried to considerably cut down on eating meat.

Eating less of it or none at all reduces the amount of wild land given over to raising animals who in turn consume a lot and produce methane. It’s a small sacrifice and some vegan/vegetarian food is really nice.

What can be done in the office?

We’ve also agreed at work that I am going to produce a paper around practical steps we can take to promote sustainable living. We are constrained by not owning the building. And we already do stuff like having recycle bins plus using recycled paper. So a lot of my proposals will be around reinforcing behaviour such as encouraging people to turn off their screens at night. But also some practical things like banning single-use plastic. Should be interesting.

Innovation and Creativity

The guilt of having time to do stuff

Not a manically busy week at work. Which makes me feel a bit guilty. Crazy, to have time to do stuff in the office rather than doing it in my own time and I feel something is wrong. There is a dangerous new norm in working life that anything more than fire-fighting and dealing with crises shows that you aren’t really that busy. πŸ™

Fun to have a little birthday celebration for Jen last Mon with her vegan cakes. πŸ™‚ Prep work as well for the project hack event next week to decide 20 international projects that are possibles for appeal films. Sorting out processes for social investments because they aren’t the same as grants. And leadership team meetings to sort stuff out.

Good meetings with externals

  • Mon morning, me and my colleague Mary who oversees our mental health work met withΒ Emma Thomas the new CEO at Young Minds and her fundraising colleague Diane. Great to hear about the way the org is moving and give an update on where we are.
  • Mon afternoon, me and Jen representing Red Shed met with Ed Gillespie from Global Goals Accelerator. A really interesting guy who runs a successful business and invests in interesting start-ups. He is focusing on start-ups from across the world who can help deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
  • Fri morning, met with Rachel Smith – UK Executive Director of GlobalGiving. This is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform and we have worked with them including around supporting some of our other grantees to develop their fundraising ability.

Books and Reading

‘Sputnik Sweetheart’ by Haruki Murakami

Famous Japanese authorWe read this for the Velvet Page book club on Thurs. Unfortunately I didn’t make it due to having to check mum was OK. I read the book and liked it. But I generally like Murakami, finding his books dreamlike. They are not always very accessible and this one definitely wasn’t.

Cat stretching and relaxingI suspect friends at Velvet Page won’t have liked it. A real shame if they didn’t because I think he has written better books. My favourite is ‘Kafka by the Shore’ which is quite whimsical. I do like his fascination with cats.

‘Transit’ by Rachel Cusk

This is an author I am pretty sure I have read before and enjoyed. She is certainly very much an up and coming British writer. And the reviews for this book were excellent. I feel like the little boy pointing out the emperor is naked as I didn’t really gel with it. Yes these are a collection of clever and well written stories. But they are very much based on modern middle class angst and it feels more like a journal rather than a novel. We get absolutely no insight into the main character. Indeed I am left feeling like the author hasn’t written a story rather she has just given us some sketches of her daily existence.

The Week Ahead:

  • I really fancy a nice, quiet week after the drama around mum, Brian and David last week.
  • My brother and his son are staying with mum as my nephew is on summer holidays and helping his dad out with business. I’ll make myself scarce to avoid the crush and stay at Dave’s.
  • Main thing at work next week is the hack event on Thurs afternoon to identify international projects for filming.
  • 2 farewell gym sessions and a 10k jog-run
  • I really fancy getting to the cinema but there are also some good art exhibitions I would like to visit.
  • Hopefully will get through a couple of books (currently reading a Lindsey Davis’ Roman thriller) and listen to some Dr Who.

And Finally…

Part of the value of doing a regular blog is to be able to look back and see where you were at a moment in the past. Guess what? I posted the pic below in my blog exactly one year ago and it is sadly more pertinent than ever. πŸ™

Putin and Trump in each other's arms


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