Pogo’s birthday week

Sunday 7 – Saturday 13 December

Two big things last week – first the sudden realisation that Christmas is very soon. Why does it always feel like the decorations (and advertising) appear too early then suddenly it’s like ‘OMG, Christmas next week!’ Second, it was Pogo’s (my partner, proper name – Dave) birthday on Friday. Not a special age, just another one in his early fifties. He hates the fact that his birthday is so near Christmas. I sometimes call it ‘birthday-Christmas’ to which he always points out that there is no such word. Could be worse, one of my work colleague’s birthday is 24th December; that really is bad news. Pogo’s mum always says he was the best present she ever got however I think she was only used to a tangerine and a piece of coal.

Dave’s birthday treat was a trip to York – a city he loves. It is a nice place to visit and plenty to see and do though I find it a bit twee. I prefer my cities bigger, more anonymous, earthier, and not so friendly – LOL. We travelled up on Thursday (after I had done a gym session in the morning and paid a visit to my favourite bookshop near Kings Cross, Gay’s The Word). Journey was problem free and Dave managed to deal with the fact he wasn’t travelling first class. Hotel was also fine but weather was quite chilly with sleety rain on our first night. On Thursday evening Dave explored the Christmas market whilst I had a coffee. We then ate at a fabulous Italian restaurant called Piccolino. It was big and busy with lots of Christmas meals but well organised and the food was delicious. It was so good that we went there again the next night. On Friday during the day we chilled around the city. After visiting the Jorvik Viking Centre which is great fun, the rest of the day was spent primarily with me having coffee and either going on the internet or reading whilst Dave did one of his favourite things – shopping for Christmas cards and presents. He ended up buying a couple of bags of stuff while I did end up leaving with more books than I had arrived with which is nothing unusual. We also got a nice old Boots print from a charity shop. We had a lay-in on Saturday morning (I was a bit sozzled on Friday night) and coffee before a pretty easy journey back though with ridiculous amounts of luggage around – students from Durham coming home for Christmas (so much luggage came on at Durham that the train got delayed arriving in York by 10 minutes).

‘In the office’ work days last week were Tuesday and Wednesday – Friday was leave. Tuesday was spent catching up on paperwork including doing a briefing paper for the Chief Exec. I also had an excellent meeting with my lovely colleague Nissa on where we go in the future around funding tech projects. In the afternoon we had our annual Christmas Fayre where work colleagues who make stuff can sell it. Great fun including a stall from an external enterprise we fund for women recovering from addiction who make jewellery to sell. As always at these type of events (like the church Xmas Fayre the previous weekend), I ended up buying loads of knick knacks. Wednesday I had agreed to work late being involved with a reception for staff from British Airways who fundraise for us – and they raise a very impressive amount. I have done this before and it is great fun. So the morning I went to the gym then on in the afternoon to the New Horizon Youth Centre – a service for young people aged 16-21 who are street homeless (see WotW). The BA staff who came on the visit were really nice and got fully involved with the activities that the young people were involved in. I had to go off to Old Street to meet a colleague Joe to talk about our exit strategy for the Innovation Labs website before dashing back to Vauxhall for the actual reception. We had Rowena Jaber talking about the work she does at the WISH Centre we fund (see WotW). This project supports young women who self-harm, many of whom are sexually abused such as the young woman being groomed by a man in prison – apparently a DJ who Rowena labelled as DJ Knob. Angela Rippon also spoke about when she lived with a family in a Kenya slum and that was moving. Work oozed into Thursday morning as I had to rush into the office to collect some papers I had forgotten to pick up the previous night after the reception. And then before the gym and travel to York, I had to connect remotely to read through and score about a half dozen grant applications.

A little bit of social action last week. Monday afternoon and evening I spent with mum who is fine apart from moaning about the cold weather. Tuesday night I met up with my old friend David (aka Daisy) who I have known for many decades. We had a good catch up over a nice spicy curry. One of our topics of conversation was our joint fried Peter, a man in his seventies who neither of us seem able to contact any more. I’ve sent a Christmas card pleading with him to call me.

I am still dealing with the shock of the weight loss recommended by my hospital consultant. A friend has suggested a diet and exercise sheet but he’s a serious athlete so I suspect it is going to be something pretty Spartan. He lives abroad and we are meeting after Christmas when he visits the UK. With my new aim of getting to the gym more regularly, I went on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Also on Monday I had a session with Sara concentrating on cycling and kettle bells. On Sunday I did an all body work-out. Monday, I caught up on the bits not touched by Sara’s workout. Then on Wednesday I concentrated on legs and Thursday on my core in particular though also doing parts of the upper body on both days. I did lots of walking as well this week (around York, etc) and some parts of my body had that lovely post-workout ache. On Saturday I travelled back with Dave from York so my jog-run, which is more of jog these days, was transferred to Sunday so it will be in next week’s blog.

I achieved little on DuoLingo last week (though did sign up to ‘Stupid Things DuoLingo Says’ on Twitter) and on digital next to nothing. In terms of my reading, I finished Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller which really is a pretty amazing book for his first one. As an author, he reminds me a lot of David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, etc not the comedian) which a big compliment. I moved onto the modern classic Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’ which was supplied to me and highly recommended by my great work colleague Vic. Written in 1951 but quite timeless dealing with issues of being in love with someone else whilst they are in a relationship as seen from all sides (I have been in each of those three roles myself – who hasn’t?) and the human relationship to God including some clever playing with the ‘if you do this then I’ll do that’ card. GG also wrote the wonderful ‘Travels with my Aunt’. I moved onto the highly regarded ‘The Silver Hearted’ by David McConnell – still too early to say how I feel about it though it is one of those books based in an unknown place.

Websites of the Weekhttp://nhyouthcentre.org.uk/

And finally, I love Wikipedia. It’s a fantastic resource that shows the potential digital offers. I would recommend everyone thinks about making a small donation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page Also worth looking at the outfit that runs Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation

No Wonker of the Week because I’m feeling in a good mood. Some good news from Virgin Trains who have featured as a previous wonker. I have received an £8 rail voucher (so not an actual refund) for the money I paid towards a truly appalling internet connection along with a very nice apology letter.

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