Trying to look at things in a new way (BDblog: Sun 9 – Sat 15 Aug 2015)

download (34)Last week I had a good session with my life coach Kerr who I have been seeing every few months for several years now. This has given me good long-term overview on my personal development and the session on Friday made me think more about the things that are important in my life. So a change in the way I present my blog – less linear (daily) stuff and more updates on the areas of my life I want to make progress in.

Heath and efficiency

Key landmark the week just gone, I returned to the gym. Two sessions – the previous Sunday and Friday. I was really nervous going back, it felt like going for the first time, but all went well. A session of 45 and 35 minutes respectively concentrating largely on legs and core but with some exercises using the barbell approved by my physio that did not put pressure on my wrist.

Long purposeful walks also continued though not to the extent of previous weeks:
Sunday: Victoria to Oxford Circus and around Pimlico
Monday: Holland Park to Olympia
Tuesday: Vauxhall to Victoria
Thursday: around Birmingham
Friday: Victoria to Oxford Circus

download (33)I had my first session with the physio looking at the problems in my achilles / calves especially the left one. The physio (Sunil) reckons it is tendinopathy and will improve by putting load onto the achilles / calves as they are pushed up but I must avoid reverse stretching – that is based on dropping the heel. And he’s keen I get back to jogging but not yet.

Slight setback on weight that went back up to 13-5, a pound gained. However, as was pointed out by someone, not worth getting too depressed about as this was before I had a poo!

Digital and innovation

So development in this area over the last week has been primarily work related. I have been working with colleagues to set up three ‘hack days’, the idea being we get people with experience of a key area alongside digital experts so together they can come up with new tech solutions to problems. Hack days used to be seen as the answer to everything but have become a bit tainted recently not being the geese that lay golden eggs after all. So, to see if it makes a difference, I have set money aside to fund some initiatives that come out of these days with small start-up grants. Current areas we will be working in are likely to be financial exclusion, sustaining recovery, and domestic violence. Also met with a colleague from another agency which is working around a specific social issue by developing a new dashboard to be used by various people to collect common data and back this up with an app to be used by direct service users – interesting. Key aim is to prove what interventions really deal with problems especially on a longitudinal basis of several years.

ru0tYu7K_400x400Wednesday off to Stoke to meet up with Ben and Jonathan alongside Kathy from fellow funder Nominet Trust  to talk about the Stoke Wavemaker project – a new digital exploration centre for young people in the model of a fab lab/ hack space / maker space etc. Great vision and enthusiasm that should lead to an iconic space being created but in the meantime, to get things going, they are going to set up in a temporary space to recruit staff and volunteers plus test out models of engaging young people with digital. A great example of agile development in practice – learning by doing.

Me and Ben off together on Wednesday afternoon to meet Imandeep (Immy) Kaur at Birmingham Impact Hub Amazing leadership by Immy. Primarily through her drive, £65,000 was raised via crowdfunding to open this new centre; she is the proof that crowdfunding can work. The Walker Building on 58 Oxford St is a beautiful space for people to meet and work. Immy told us of her vision that people create stuff as much as possible (including the furniture in the Hub) and that nothing is temporary – everything is built and created to be used permanently such that people put a higher value on things and don’t waste them (and thus don’t waste money). She also related the importance of such ventures linking into local pride but connecting to other Hubs and similar places on a global level.


building-572490__180So last week saw me in Stoke on Wednesday and travelling down to Birmingham to stay over as on Thursday there was a day for the abstinence-based recovery community projects I oversee the funding of. A day for them to come together and say what they had achieved over their first year of funding. The money for this comes from Russell Brand’s Give It Up fund and the four recovery community projects are doing amazing things. We met at the new Recovery Central building managed by the Birmingham charity Changes-UK. They presented their volunteering scheme, Nelson Trust presented about their new bistro Hub in Gloucester, SCT talked about their extra support for people in recovery, and Clean and Sober Living told us about their efforts in County Durham to establish housing units and a county-wide education programme. Such fantastic inspirational energy and commitment in one room.

Very busy train back to London (loads of orthodox Jewish families, not sure why?) with my boss. Interesting to reflect that it was dry in Birmingham though overcast whilst London and the south of England had torrential rain.

Linked to the abstinence-based recovery theme, on Monday I went to Bury St Edmunds (where I have never been before) to visit another great initiative – Focus 12 Many celebrities have received treatment here (such as Russell, Davina and Boy George) and it was wonderfully empowering as ever to meet people currently trying to achieve recovery. The only blot was seeing a rather unpleasant altercation on the local train where a scuzzy young guy was trying to avoid paying his fare and got into an argument with the small female guard, basically verbally abusing her. We passengers would have stepped in if any physical abuse had started but she got him off the train (rightly not listening to his nonsense about missing picking up his baby daughter – all very Jeremy Kyle) and then she informed us all that this was a regular occurrence with this particular person; amazing that he can’t realise she knows his routine.

Dave, family and friends

Thankfully Dave came back safely to the UK on Tuesday and we had the evening together before spending the weekend at his place. With mum on Monday night and the big news being that she had received an orthopaedic hospital appointment. Surgery on her knee looks likely and I am already concerned about what could be a potentially difficult recuperation in our block of flats with no lift.

9198969233_2bac97d775_bNo big friend meet-ups last week though great to see Dom Ruffy from the Amy Winehouse Foundation at the Birmingham meeting; he has been so supportive to the work being done to create abstinence-based recovery communities but is also a really nice bloke and good to spend time with. There was some very bad news this week about my mate James who has lived with cancer for about 3 years now. It looks like bad news and recovery won’t happen. I was left genuinely upset and not really knowing what to say – he is a friend I always thought would be around.


A poor performance last week – only a few sessions on DuoLingo and no films watched. Although I did take some little opportunities that came along to practice my Spanish particular and did that by watching some short films on and practicing around song lyrics and poetry set out in the Javier Cercas book (see below).


Previous Sunday I was still on my own as Dave was abroad for work so I attended the Pimlico car boot after my gym session. Secondhand books obtained (though Dave is currently referring to my books as an infestation in his flat) as well as a couple of DVDs and some t-shirts – plus a rugby shirt for Dave. I also picked up some secondhand books at Gay’s the Word when I visited there on wet Friday before seeing my life coach Kerr. Good to catch up with GTW’s owner Jimmy.

Several early nights during the week to listen to the radio and catch up on reading which always makes me happy. I finished the sci-fi (but is it really?) book ‘Sarah Canary’. A very good but mysterious and strange book. I then did something unusual in that I read a basically non-fiction book. I am a great fiction reader but I also like Spanish writers (unfortunately I can’t read them in their native language yet) and I read ‘Soldiers of Salamis’ by Javier Cercas, the story of his journalistic discovery of a Spanish civil war event and then the story itself parts of which may or may not be true. Very good anBlueMarble-2001-2002d a refresher before I went back to sci-fi with ‘The Long Mars’ by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – two great writers. A wonderfully imaginative book about man’s exploration of other dimensions; good on its own but the third in the ‘Long Earth’ series and I am starting to appreciate the series as a whole above just the books themselves as individual works.

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