Pacing and immersing myself in work, exercise, and culture

Mon 19 – Sun 25 Aug 2019

Work-Life Balance

Pacing myself with time away

I have survived another week back at work, my 3rd after the sabbatical. I am still pacing myself but I can feel things falling back into bad patterns. Previously I talked about long meetings and there were more of those last week. Seriously, we spend far too much time in long meetings. And I’m starting to get hung up and stressed over work stuff again, thinking about it in my non-work time.

Steve Jobs quotation

So what is the remedy? I’ve certainly been enjoying the long bank-holiday weekend. But on a wider scale, when I started back I deliberately planned in a series of breaks. Berlin in Sept, Torremolinos in Nov, and Gran Canaria in Jan. All for decent lengths of time so no quick in and out weekend breaks. Thus I am working on pacing myself now till mid-Sept when me and Dave are off to Folsom Berlin.

Berlin calling and the BA screw-up

Being off work and immersing myself in Berlin should revitalise me for the next leg of the work journey – get me through to Torre. 🙂 Though annoying that we got told by BA on Fri night our flight to Berlin was cancelled due to the pilots’ strike. Then, 24 hours later after we had booked a replacement, they informed us they had made a mistake and our flight was still flying. 🙁

Work itself

An interesting enough time in itself at work last week. My own appraisal went very well though need to agree objectives for the future. Also did another member of my team’s appraisal. It is interesting (and sad) how people downplay their achievements. Then you get someone like Boris Johnson who lies and bigs himself up despite really achieving very little. Perhaps it’s a public school thing – kids educated in this way have so much confidence though that may also be because most of them come from rich families.

Also some great (short) catch-ups with colleagues – things are happening! Remember my motto: done is better than perfect, action is everything. One long 3 hour meeting which was hard work but with a good outcome.

Nissa and Tech for Good

Handheld video

Fri had a catch-up with my old colleague Nissa to find out how life is as a freelancer. It was also good to catch-up on the ‘Tech for Good‘ world. My new work takes me from this. But I still believe charities need to endorse digital. I can’t say tech will definitely save us (what will?) but it is certainly part of the answer.

Health and Efficiency


Jogging - a large part of success is pacing yourself evenly

Two jog-runs achieved last week which is good as I think I will only get one done in the coming week. First was a 5K on Tuesday. Really good time coming in a bit under 30 mins. Which meant that the pace for every km stretch was under 6 mins. My pacing was beautiful and I felt relaxed. 🙂

Sat morning and it was my weekly 10K. Normally I try to rest the day before but I had a busy Friday that started with a quick gym trip and finished with a THT massage. I think massage before sport may actually be a bit counter-intuitive in that the after-effect is over-worked muscles. 🙁

Anyway, a decent enough time of 1 hour, 2 mins, 40 seconds. One of my top 5 fastest ever but I was spoilt by the result of the previous week where I was just over 1 hour and 1 minute. My bete noire returned in the shape of the penultimate km (8-9 mark) where I came in with a significantly slower time of just under 7 mins for the km (overall pace per km was around 6 mins and 16 seconds).

Details on all jog-runs (and intermittent weigh-ins are here).


dumbells in the gym

Big success last week with 4 gym sessions: mornings of Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sun. In part I was jolted into action by a documentary on BBC with Reggie Yates looking at body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) in men. Ones who become obsessed and spend too long in the gym plus use steroids.

No-one would condone this and it is an addiction. But I feel there is no danger of me falling into it (I know about addiction). However, it made me realise that if I want body improvement then I do need to get to the gym as regularly as possible. Often but not to excess is good for most things in life. And I really enjoy just being in the gym in a way that some other people just don’t get. Perhaps it’s the same as people who like being at the swimming pool – that bores me.


man being pummelled

Massage at THT on Fri afternoon which was good but may have actually slowed up my jog-run as detailed above. Perhaps I need to schedule a massage for after I’ve done my jog-run though not sure many masseurs operate at 10am in the morning.

…and a walk in the East End

Monday morning was supposed to be a yoga session. My tutor had warned that he was trying to get an early GP appointment. He didn’t know till the day but he ended up with one at 9.40. So our session got rescheduled. I was over in Bromley-by-Bow near his studio when we changed plans.

So I ended up walking through Bow to get to a station further along the District Line and to let the rush hour die down. It was a very interesting, stimulating and totally unexpected walk through a distinctive and historical locality. And it was good for me not to feel wound up by a change of plan that was nobody’s fault.

Art and Culture

Friday I was a real culture vulture. After a quick gym session, met Dave and we did a tour of the main exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert Museum (one of my favourites in London). Then I popped into a gallery in the afternoon before meeting up with my old work colleague Nissa.

My summary on what I saw:

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (V&A)

Dave will kill me because he adores this exhibition. But I just saw a load of posh, old frocks. It’s a beautifully presented show and a 95% female attendance. But Dior only produced dresses for about 10 years before his death in 1957 and there are lots of other House of Dior designers thrown in such as Yves Saint Laurent and John Galliano. Nice but ultimately just frocks (that sound you can hear is Dave hitting me).

Mary Quant (V&A)

More frocks though more modern. A nice piece bringing back memories of British fashion in the 60s. But it is part of a trend at the V&A of putting on baby boomer clickbait exhibitions. Some are good like David Bowie whereas others are crap such as Pink Floyd. Museums and galleries shouldn’t just court popularity by running shows for older people to reminisce about their youth.

Food: Bigger than the Plate (V&A)

A very quixotic exhibition all about the food chain. From what to do with human waste through processing and delivering to consuming. Not as dull as it sounds and with a strong emphasis on recycling. Though the clear thing to help the world is simply to consume less. Very arty and intriguing but didn’t totally work for me simply because of the sheer diversity of things it was trying to communicate.

Dark Matter (Science Gallery London) and Guy’s Chapel

Science Gallery London is part of Kings College London on the ‘Guy’s Hospital’ complex. A similar exhibition to ‘Food’ in that it is addressing a complex subject but with a variety of mechanisms especially art. It’s all about the search for dark matter which fills the universe in a greater quantity than matter (i.e. what we can see). Really intriguing and shows how limited our knowledge is no matter how clever we think we are.

‘The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land, to add something to the extent and the solidity of our possessions.’

Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), biologist

Nice to pop into Guy’s Chapel opposite afterwards and experience the silence in such a busy part of London. Also where Thomas Guy is buried who founded the hospital in the 18th century.

Closer to Heaven

Tues night me and Dave were at the Above the Stag theatre in Vauxhall. We were there to see a revival of the 2001 musical – music by the Pet Shop Boys and words by Jonathan Harvey. A very mixed bag. The show was delayed by 30 minutes due to one of the main actresses being taken ill and the stand-in being prepared. The replacement was very good at singing but had to work through the whole performance with script to hand.

The set was pretty minimal (the venue itself is under a railway arch and is quite bunker-like) though with decent light boxes. The lead actor and actress were both great. Unfortunately the whole performance was marred by a pretty dire sound system with the recorded PSB synths blaring out to drown the voices of the live singers.

Me and Dave seriously thought about leaving at the break but stuck with it. This gave me a good overview of the whole thing. I went away and downloaded the soundtrack from the original performance. Clearly more polished and it actually sounded like a decent PSB album. So I think we were largely let down by the venue this time – sad to say.

Books and Reading

‘Licks of love’ by John Updike

In last week’s blog, I highlighted how I had read the novella ‘Rabbit Remembered’ that finished the cycle by Updike on the life of Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom. Reading these 4 novels was one of the highlights of my sabbatical. The novella was included in this book of short stories – the novella actually takes up half of the book. Actually a pretty decent book overall.

Tired man asleep

The stories have clear themes: the mid-west, families, ageing, death, sexual liaisons. 2 very good stories: one about a child’s concern for his father and the other a son inheriting cats left behind by his deceased ‘cat lady’ mother. There’s even a sort of gay story.

‘Rosewater’ by Tade Thompson


A glorious bit of afrofuturism. The first book in a new trilogy and winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The story of an alien that lands in Nigeria and a city develops around it. At the same time, some humans develop psychic powers that enable them to inter-act with human minds and aliens. Sophisticated sci-fi but also giving some glances into everyday life in Africa.

The Week Ahead

  • Going to enjoy bank holiday Monday, the last public holiday before Xmas and really a marker of the end of summer. Won’t be going to the Notting Hill Carnival but just enjoying every minute of a non-work day.
  • Tues morning is all about health with an INR check followed by a trip to the hospital to get more bloods done plus collect my next 6 months’ supply of anti-retrovirals.
  • A short working week with not many meetings but quite a bit of paperwork to get done.
  • Plan is gym on Mon, Thurs, and Sun. 10K jog-run on Sat. And the rescheduled yoga session on Fri – wonder if we can do it outside?
  • I think I will finish the 2 books I am currently reading and, hopefully, start another 2. I like reading at least 2 books at once.
  • Don’t think I will get any culture visits next week – no time 🙁
  • I’m keeping on top of work and personal emails plus doing language learning on the apps nearly every day. But, unfortunately, trying to improve my coding skills has gone to the wall 🙁

And Finally…

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