Day 5: Edward Snowden and crab racing

A heavy mist enveloped Aberdovey until lunchtime (or was it cloud? – we are currently located up a very steep hill) – so the morning was spent doing something I’ve been looking forward to for ages: reading books. Editing words on a computer screen all day means the last thing I want to do at night is read more words. But now…

The Snowden Files
I spy… Edward Snowden

The Snowden Files by Luke Harding was a birthday gift a year ago. As a former journalist, I was fascinated as much by how the scoop played out as much as the content of the story. The Citizenfour documentary delivered Snowden’s story in real-time, with the actual source and the actual journalists up there on screen. It offered an unprecendented insight into the state of the world’s cybersecurity and surveillance, but also what it’s like to be the journalists given the biggest story of their career. You should see it if you haven’t already. The book is filling out some of the gaps and has me equally gripped. (I also have a cybersecurity course lined up.)

“Help me!”

A world away from espionage, we found ourselves caught up in crab racing this afternoon. I had no idea this was a thing. Continue reading “Day 5: Edward Snowden and crab racing”

Day 3: I do like Mondays

Monday has always been manic on the work front but I wake up on day three of sabbatical leave with an empty day ahead and a bright idea. My dreaming brain has obviously been stewing over recent conversations, especially mentoring for girls and young teens, and helping them sort their heads out. I’ve also been thinking about how I coped when things fell apart, as they did in 2001 and 2008, and what got me through. And these two things have somehow come together to form an idea that scales beyond a school talk. Even better, it won’t cost too much. Just a bit of research, copywriting and design is all that is required. I’ll say no more for now.

That was just the start of a day full of positive signs and feeling kind of exhilarated that I can now act on my ideas rather than filing them away for some future time for action.

Continue reading “Day 3: I do like Mondays”

Day 2: Is it a sabbatical if it’s the weekend?

Day two of my sabbatical was partly spent wielding an axe in order to get some knobbly tree and rose roots out of the ground. Heavy physical work and I’m very much enjoying being a tank girl not a microserf. Also, I moved rubble from A to B.

As it’s a Sunday I still feel as if I have a week of work ahead of me so I guess it hasn’t sunk in yet that my life has radically changed.

(In other news, I seem to have volunteered to test out my sister’s yoga lessons. She is in her second year of training and needs a putz willing volunteer to practise on. Have also reconnected with a few people through comments and responses so it’s Saul Goodman.)

Day 1: End of an era – so what comes next?

Getting off the treadmill.
Getting off the treadmill.

After coming to the end, yesterday, of the longest freelance booking I’ve ever had (seven and a quarter years to be precise), I had a vague idea that I might blog every day for 30 days. Just to document, y’know, the end of an era and a major change of life. And because that’s what a blogger/diarist/writer does.

It’s a bit like being thrown off the merry-go-round – although not at full speed as this has been coming since February – but there is a very definite stop. And after such a long ride I’m not quite ready to get back on another carousel just yet.

In fact there are a few things that have been on hold since 2009, and since getting my notice I’ve spent the summer putting together some plans.

There’s a list (isn’t there always?) on Workflowy that is now up to at least a hundred items long. Some are obvious (oh how I have missed my travels); some enforced (time to get fit and undo some of the damage caused by my sedentary job); some are random challenges or things I want to learn (be a cool backwards skater, learn 2000 words of Indonesian); and some are about giving back (becoming a mentor, trainer, speaker,  or perhaps just a better friend). Continue reading “Day 1: End of an era – so what comes next?”

Microadventure #3: Bodyboarding weekend in Cornwall

Tl;dr: unfit middle-aged Brummie woman with lifelong surfing obsession fulfils dream by not standing up on board.
fiona cullinan bodyboarding

The challenge has always been to surf. It’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember fuelled by seeing early skateboarding films in the ’70s. Then came movies such as Big Wednesday, The Endless Summer, Blue Crush, Lords of Dogtown and the oh-so-quotable Point Break. I even read books: Andrew Martin’s cult classic Walking on Water was particularly inspiring as (like Keanu in PB) a fellow journalist gets the ultimate assignment – he’ll be paid to go surfing, in Hawaii, for The Times. ‘Awesome.’

Continue reading “Microadventure #3: Bodyboarding weekend in Cornwall”

Harkive – how I listened to music on 19 July 2016

I’ve been meaning to do the annual Harkive project and this year I’ll finally got around to it, albeit a couple of days late. Here is it:

I work from home. I generally wait for a bit of editing work to come in that I can do ‘with my eyes shut’, which allows me to have my ears open. Around 10.30am a piece on Brexit (the 50th this week) comes in and, to take the pain away, I flip on the mini amplifier that sits amid a bookshelf of comics in the home office. I like its little neon-blue glow – and its ironic surreptitiousness, given the racket it can make.

ampNext step I alt-click on my laptop’s sound icon. This brings up a drop-down menu of where I want the music to play. Thanks to the husband (family tech support) we can play music via wifi in most rooms of the house. I click on ‘Office’ and then open Spotify.

Continue reading “Harkive – how I listened to music on 19 July 2016”

Microadventure #2: Nordic walking in the woods at night

‘There’s no snow, you know!’ OK, so walking with ski poles across the pedestrian crossing in suburban Birmingham may draw a few gags but needs must. I want to get fitter and this seemed a perfect way to take my daily 10k step walks up a level even if I did look a bit silly.

It’s not just walking with poles, though. I needed to book a lesson to learn the basic technique. Nordic walking involves ticking off a number of skills before you can join a group walk, and so, in the same way that people join ski school, I booked an hour’s one-to-one lesson with Hazel Jonas of Nordic Walk Now.

Continue reading “Microadventure #2: Nordic walking in the woods at night”

Microadventure #1: Alone in Kings Heath park at night

IMG_6900My heart was practically tachycardic as I entered the blackness. They (if they were there) could easily see me nipping off-path and slipping between the large conifers edging the park into the expanse of darkness beyond. I was banking on no one of cruel intention waiting for me there. All I wanted to do was to be able to see the full moon undiluted by surburbia’s glow.

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So that was 2015!


sunflowersThis Christmas break has been a feverish, fog-brained, sinus-filled and jelly-legged two weeks, due to the most fluey of cold viruses (but not the actual flu because when you’ve had the flu, you know!). And so, the Christmas alcohol remains to be drunk, I’ve dropped three lbs and our post-Christmas walking holiday has been postponed. But I have a history of broken festivities so I’ll just add 2015 to that list. When you work from home, the winter office viruses find you just in time for the holidays and are all like: ‘Wayhay! Fresh meat!’

Continue reading “So that was 2015!”