in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #273 — Under construction

A rainy morning in New York City.
A rainy morning in New York City.

New York City was the destination for my first overseas business trip this year. Of all the places that we regularly visit, New York is my favourite. Having lived there for a year in my early 20s and visited many times since, it feels like home away from home. It’s relatively safe, so despite not having access to my bike or indoor trainer I usually manage to get some exercise by running around Central Park in the morning and going for a wander in the evening. This was a rainy week, so I crammed my running into the first two days of my trip. Not having run for a while, I found myself walking like John Wayne for the rest of my visit, struggling to descend any staircase that put itself in my path.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park in the morning.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park in the morning.

Business travel stopped being exciting some time ago, but the opportunity to be in the same place as people that I usually work with remotely is golden. Going on a trip forces me to squash all of my weekend jobs into one day before I leave and to do the same thing when I return. The journey to New York was a very long day — literally five hours longer than usual. Despite following Mark Horstman’s advice on how to pack (using the plastic wrappers that dry cleaning is returned in to put shirts into), inevitably I have to spend an hour or so re-ironing everything once I arrive.

The main purpose of my visit was to see the work being done to build out a floor for our new office as well as to meet the myriad of people working on the project across a number of different organisations. I’ve spent 25 years working in Technology but this year find myself running a number of real estate and facilities projects. This is part of the fun of being in a small team.

Under construction.
Under construction.

A highlight of this trip was meeting up with two old friends from Ride 999 who have recently moved to the city. It was nine years ago this month that we rode from London to Milan; it was fun to reminisce and catch up with what they’re doing now. We had drinks and shared food at Dutch Fred’s, discovering the most incredible alcohol-free IPA.

Ride 999 mini reunion!
Ride 999 mini reunion!

The journey home from New York is only six and a half hours, which always feels too short for travelling overnight. Between the half hour to get airborne and the need to be sitting upright an hour before landing there’s really only an opportunity to grab five hours sleep. (If there was an option, I’d definitely choose a slower plane.) A big sleep on Saturday night helped me to reset but going to bed on Sunday was difficult as I lay there wide awake.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had the regular programme and project meetings. In our team, most of my colleagues are based in the UK/Africa timezones so I had to rearrange a few meetings to be able to attend them from five hours behind. Each day became a burst of online meetings in the morning followed by local in-person meetings in the afternoon — a pattern that is quite normal for people in our New York office.
  • Reviewed the furniture choices for the new office.
  • Utilised a portable conference speaker that we took on site for our weekly office build-out meeting. It worked fantastically well.
  • Met with the landlord for the new office in person for the first time.
  • Reviewed the technical specs for the technology, audio/visual and security build-out of the office.
  • Wrote up and sent the minutes from last week’s programme Steering Committee meeting.
  • Enjoyed some great things to eat. Bill’s Bar and Burger does exactly what it says (with superb service), Abitino’s pizza by the slice was excellent (and cheap), Il Gattopardo was a treat, The Little Beet was a saviour for healthy fast food, Pasta Corner had perfect handmade pasta and Café Luce left me full for most of the next day.
Beyond Meat burger at Bill’s Bar and Burger.
Beyond Meat burger at Bill’s Bar and Burger.
  • Took advantage of being downtown for a meeting to visit the Strand Bookstore. I think it’s one of my favourite places in the world.
  • Watched my eldest son compete in a 4x400m relay at Eton athletics track.
Post-race photo.
Post-race photo.
  • Was delighted to come home to a completely finished kitchen. We’re so pleased with it.
  • Missed the Interesting conference as I was away. I’m also missing RideLondon at the weekend. Perhaps I need to stop buying tickets to things.
  • Got back on the bike on Sunday morning after a big sleep, doing a two-hour turbo ride. I could still feel twinges in my legs from my runs on Monday and Tuesday.
  • Had some terrible news from a close friend and wished there was something I could do to help.



  • Being away without my usual indoor cycling and commuting routines meant that I fell behind on all of my listening. I’ve got some catching up to do.


  • Thought that ABBA: Against The Odds was much better than the blurb that was posted on iPlayer. It covers their whole career, not just their Eurovision Song Contest entry fifty years ago. Well worth a watch.


  • Started reading Mapping the Roads by Mike Parker, which explores the history of road maps in the UK. It’s a lovely thing, with lavish illustrations alongside the written history.

Next week: Turning my attention back to my other major projects, with an Album Club to round out the weekend.

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