in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #125 — Hillbuster

An unusual week in which I found myself surrounded by people again. We have landscape gardeners working at our house, trying to transform our back garden from a botanical fever dream into something we’d be happy to have people come and visit. We’re hoping it will be lovely to look at as well as easy to maintain, as none of us in the house have very green fingers. I’ve been on tea duty in between meetings, keeping the workpeople well-watered and nourished. So far so good, and they finish up next week.

I was pleased to have quickly recovered from last week’s mammoth bike ride, and hopped back on the turbo trainer from Tuesday onwards. The coming week is going to be a challenge for indoor biking with soaring temperatures here in the south of England, but I’m going to give it a go. Now I’ve got some fitness I’d really like to keep it, as I know that if we do make it away for a short summer break that cycling opportunities may be limited.

Looking back over the week, I seem to have subconsciously stepped back from the UK news, probably for my own sanity. Instead, my worries have been about my colleagues in South Africa as they have seen their country go through the worst riots and looting for many years. People who always have a smile looked genuinely terrified at times, and it felt so helpless to be so far away with very little options for making a difference.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had my second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I am so grateful for the NHS and the seamless process to get the appointments booked and the jabs in my arm. I felt very few side-effects this time, which sounds similar to others that have had the same shot.
  • Saw my lovely youngest boy turn 12 on the day he was released from his COVID-19 self-isolation.
  • Completed a first draft of an internal ‘IT curriculum’ document for the team, listing topic areas and resident experts in each topic within the team. I’ve had lots of very valuable feedback which I will include in the next iteration.
  • Reviewed and agreed the final version of the closure report for our New York office infrastructure project.
  • Reviewed the low-level design and implementation plan for our IT infrastructure in Asia which we hope to deploy in the next few weeks.
  • Agreed with one of our teams to try an experiment with their Kanban board, adding two new card types to distinguish everyday work from project work. A quick informal write-up of what you plan to do and how you will judge its success goes a long way.
  • Took part in our monthly risk management meeting.
  • Met with our head of Operational Risk to get aligned ahead of the next cycle of senior management meetings.
  • Had a lovely random coffee with a colleague in HR I hadn’t spoken to in a very long time.
  • Was pleased to see my colleague in meetings again following his long illness. It’s so great to have him back.
  • Had an excellent end-of-week catch-up with my boss, covering a lot of bases about where we are, where we are heading and more besides.
  • Attended an all-hands meeting about legal developments in one of the countries in which we operate.
  • Joined the Headteacher, Chair of Governors and members of the school senior leadership team for a feedback meeting from our Improvement Partner. It’s always so good to get some external feedback on how things are going.
  • Attended our final school Full Governing Board meeting of the year. I can’t believe that another academic year is behind us already. I felt as though I had to cram the reading in, but by the time the meeting came I was well-prepared.
  • Took my eldest son and three of his friends to Aqua Parcs in Milton Keynes early on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful, fresh day and the complex that they had there made it feel like we were all on holiday. I spent an hour in the shade with my book while they all had fun on the inflatables.
  • Took part in the Hemel Hillbuster on Sunday with my eldest son and my friend Ian, riding a lumpy 100km to raise money for the Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter.

  • Got rid of our old sofas in anticipation of new ones arriving. Manoeuvring heavy furniture around doorways and down the drive was not the optimal activity for a hot Sunday night. One of the couches had done nearly 20 years’ service and had started to come apart in a big way, so we were overdue a refresh.
  • Joined my first Tortoise ThinkIn, on how pop defines the 1980s. It ended up being an hour-long Zoom love fest for all things 80s, and a lot of fun. I didn’t anticipate being on a call with Martyn Ware, Dylan Jones and Sarah Champion but that’s exactly where I found myself. At some point I was brought into the discussion to extol the virtues of Hue and Cry’s Labour Of Love, a song I never get tired of hearing.

  • Enjoyed hearing the Young Knives for the first time, a new Album Club discovery.
  • Loved watching the new three-day event format for the Formula 1 race. It kept the drama going and seemed to be a great success.

Next week: A meeting with Internal Audit, work finishing in the garden, trying to get some sleep during a boiling hot few days and looking forward to a cooler weekend.

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