Surviving and thriving going back to work

Mon 5 – Sun 11 Aug 2019

Back to work with a slight sense of dread

Last week was when I went back to work after my 4 month sabbatical ended. I cannot deny that there was a slight sense of dread on Sunday evening. A bit like the evening before going back to school after the end of the summer holidays. But I was also very reconciled to what had to happen.

Was not going back an option?

On a very basic level I had to go back because I needed the money having started to dip into my savings to fund myself during the sabbatical. And, after last week was over, I had gained a week’s worth of wages to help pay off my credit card bill. 🙂

But I don’t hate what I do, nowhere near it. Indeed, I still believe in a just world free from poverty as well as the need for a strong charitable sector that is leading us all towards a better place. Though my sabbatical taught me that I must not fear not having work. That I don’t need work to give me fulfilment in life. I can get that simply by being who I am.

My new system to cope

But I think I have built a system that is at least going to see me through the next few months. I am not working mornings (apart from working all day on Wed) so though I am back to work, I am also able to keep up my diet/exercise schedule. No eating from around 8pm until lunchtime the next day and some sort of exercise to distract me.

And my little dose of work each day should enable me to find it stimulating whilst not getting too tired out. Plus still being able to do other things I want to such as reading and exercise. Indeed, I coped really well with going back to work last week – I felt very chilled and paced. Though Wednesday as a full day was really hard and I felt knacked at the end of it.

Actually it was alright

The future - next exit

The experience of going back to work was not bad at all. I can’t pretend that I would love not to be working full stop. But there is still about a decade and a half before I retire so what else am I going to do between now and then? I haven’t identified any job I would rather be doing. Though I will also have to leave it at some point.

My wonderful work colleagues

What was great was to go back to work and see all my colleagues. They are a really nice bunch of people and everyone was so keen to know what I had been up to – lost 10 pounds in weight, new exercise regime, lots of reading, some trips out. At our weekly departmental stand-up everyone gave me a clap (presumably simply for coming back LOL) – it was very touching.

Health and Efficiency

Exercise nearly every day last week which is what I wanted to achieve. And my weight is staying at around 13 stone & a half stones. Several people when I went back to work mentioned that they could see I had lost weight. 🙂

Gym (and car-boot)

dumbells in the gym

First gym session of the week was on Monday, just before I went back to the office. Focus was on an all-over body workout. All went well and I was ‘stimulated’ by a Twitter argument whilst working out. Arguing definitely gets my testosterone flowing.

tom of finland

Friday should have been gym again but it was closed due to a power outage. 🙁 A bit of a fore-runner to the widescale power outage that caused many transport problems later the same day. So a long, purposeful work from Oxford Circus to Vauxhall. Sunday saw my second gym session of the week. And it was another all over work-out concentrating on all 8 main body parts. As it was a nice day, this was followed by a trip to the Pimlico car-boot sale – I love a good car-boot or market.

Jog-runs – best 10K time for over 2 years 🙂

lady running in cold weather

A couple of jog-runs last week. 5K on Tuesday morning. All good and I didn’t run more than 5K as my left achilles is starting to ache again (an old injury). Advice is to only slowly increase distance so as not to aggravate injuries.

Dissected achilles

Then on Sat, a 10K. Again I just did the 10K, not carrying on jogging after I had stopped the stopwatch so as not to aggravate my achilles. Actually, a really great time of slightly over one hour and a minute & a half. My best 10K time for +2 years and with a strong blustery wind to contend with! 🙂 Other good aspects: a 5K under 30 mins and all 1 km stretches under 7 mins, some even under 6 mins. My bete noire is my penultimate km 8-9 stretch and I need to work on that (6.44 mins this time).

All jog-run times (as well as a history of my weight gain and loss) can be viewed here.


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is yoga-pxhere.jpeg

A nice session on Thurs by the canal side as our usual park venue was shut for a festival. Only problem is I got bitten by insects on my legs. 🙁 My yoga teacher was supposed to be going away to Honduras next Tuesday so we were thinking about squeezing in a session on Mon.

However his trip was cancelled at the weekend. Thus, I’m skipping yoga next week to fit in with other commitments including work ones – ah the joy of back to work…

Books and Reading

Finished a number of books last week. This does show I can still go back to work and balance out doing lots of lovely reading. Don’t forget all the books I have read are listed here.

‘The Binding’ by Bridget Collins

Probably my favourite of the 4 books. I read this because someone at the Velvet Page book club recommended it. Indeed, until she spoke so warmly of it I was not aware of it having a queer aspect. Though it has received rave reviews generally. It is a very clever book; people’s transgressions can be removed by binding – they forget them so long as they are stored in a book, normally locked away forever.

The author writes lots of YA (Young Adult) books and occasionally this book slipped into that, becoming a bit simplified. However, it also has some very clever and dramatic twists I was not expecting that stop it from being simply a saccharine love story. There’s a few lose ends, several happy coincidences, and I’m not sure all the timings work. But it is a clever fantasy book without any dragons, dwarves, goblins, or giants.

‘ Madonna of Bolton’ by Matt Cain

Madonna in B&W

This was the book I started to read for the last Velvet Page book club meeting. But I realised I really couldn’t attend the meeting with the author present as I didn’t like this novel. It is quite cheesey. The story of a gay guy growing up in the 80s in Bolton, going to Cambridge then living in London and ultimately finding love. The whole story is connected to his love of Madonna – each chapter is titled with and linked to a Madonna song.

LGBT rainbow flag

You must suspect that this is the author’s life albeit with a few changes. And, to be fair, it is not as bad as I originally thought. It does bring together in a simple linear fashion, the key components of any gay man’s life who grew up in the 80s.

But it’s not brilliantly written, needs more dialogue, and to be a bit more subtle. There really is every cliche here though perhaps being gay is a cliche – school, coming out, first gay pub, first STD, failed relationships, etc.

‘Vienna Tales’, edited by Helen Constantine

Streets of Vienna

There is a series of books by Oxford University Press featuring stories about European cities and this is part of that series. I don’t know Vienna and have never visited though I want to go. Indeed it is claimed to be one of the most livable cities in the world. But it still felt strange reading about somewhere I didn’t know but clearly those who wrote the stories did very well.

The stories come from the 19th and 20th centuries and some are better than others. Indeed, some are quite obscure. And if definitely helps to have a grip of the history of the Austrian capital. Centre of power and a cosmopolitan melting pot in the 19th century. Followed by decline and splintering in the 20th before it has started to find itself in latter years though not without trauma i.e. dealing with refugees and the rise of ‘respectable’ neo-fascists.

‘Everything Under’ by Daisy Johnson

An interesting one I picked up at the library. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018. It is a clever and multi-layered story of a woman brought up by a mentally ill mother who seeks to re-find her in later life as well as a young man who came into their lives for a while. Sounds complex and it gets even more complicated with various characters and stories.

Indeed, it’s bloody hard work and I am not sure it’s a 100% worth the effort. I actually think the book could benefit from being a bit more linear; the different strands being thrown at you get confusing. Overall, the author has tried to combine fashions for nature-related literature, cracked family life, and autopsies of people’s mental health. But I am left feeling that she may have tried too hard. And I think there are better authors in this vein like Nicola Barker, Hilary Mantel, and Pat Barker.


One of the highlights of last week was seeing my old mate David from Brighton. We had a fling over 15 years ago and have stayed friends since primarily via social media. His life is far more exciting than mine as he now lives in Taiwan and has married a Taiwanese man. David and his husband are in the UK for a ceremony primarily for his family next weekend in Leicester.

He’s a fascinating guy so it was great to catch up on Friday before work and share our experiences of life now. Later that day he had to meet his Taiwanese relatives. Though that night it turned out that he had been let down by the company he had booked accommodation with. 🙁 They only had 2 nights in London though and then they were all travelling up to be with David’s family.

The Week Ahead

  • Now I’m back to work, it’s important that I make the situation work for me and not let it dominate my existence. Big thing will be sticking to my hours. I’ve agreed to go in a bit earlier for a meeting on Mon (and I will leave earlier that day) but I’ve said I can’t do a morning meeting on Thurs.
  • Plan for exercise is 5K jog-run on Tues, 10K jog-run on Sat, and 3 gym sessions on Mon, Thurs and Sun. Yoga session for Mon was cancelled as my tutor isn’t going to Honduras.
  • Got an idea to do a museum or gallery visit on Fri morning. I fancy seeing the Natalia Goncharova at Tate Modern (finishes 8 Sept).
  • Gonna be reading 2 or 3 new books simultaneously to give me some intellectual stimulation
  • I’m doing well on keeping my personal and work emails under control – it must continue. As must some language learning each day

And Finally…

The negative force that is nationalism

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