h-notes ∈ September 2021

Big changes, but a mercifully simpler time than August.


We had a rare evening out and visited a cocktail bar. We promptly wasted our first drink on the house special cocktail list before reverting to safe standards and asking for Negronis and Sours. We’ll never learn, and neither will cocktail bars apparently.

A box mix up

We get a weekly organic veg-box, but sometimes we don’t eat it all and occasionally we end up with a build up of veg so we skip a week. We did it one week only to find that on our delivery day we had a box delivered. The driver will sometimes knock on the door and I’ll wave to him as I take the boxes in, but he didn’t this week so I couldn’t catch him to ask what was up. While carrying the boxes in I spotted the name label on them and realised they hadn’t missed our skip week, they’d given us someone else’s boxes.

Customer support lines didn’t open until 9:30 though, by which time the driver would be long gone, but I left them out juuust in case they realised their mistake and came back for them. I also tried our local street whatsapp group to see if anyone recognised the name, but no-one did. When 9:30 rolled around I called customer services and because of GDPR a vigorous round of calls ensued:

The driver had clearly just been on autopilot and our skip week coinciding with our neighbours new delivery meant we got the boxes by mistake.

I dropped off the boxes and had a chat with our new neighbours. They joined the whatsapp group that evening and if that had happened sooner, I’d have had a much easier morning; I hate phone calls.

So I guess the moral of the story is, join whatsapp groups quicker!

School → Science Museum → Pizza

R started school this month. We’re lucky in that our nursery was a 5 minute walk in one direction, and our school is a 5 minute walk in the other direction. We even got R into after-school club a couple of days a week. So all in all it’s not been too bad an adjustment: T has changed her hours at work to do 2 long days and 3 short ones to cover the 3pm pick up, while I do drop off everyday and we both do pick up on the after-school club days.

The build-up was fairly stressful as the school wasn’t super forthcoming about things, and the class parents whatsapp group became fairly frantic as the first day approached. R was also very clingy in the weeks running up to it. We eventually twigged it might be anxiety about the change from nursery to school. In attempting to prepare all the kids for school it’s pretty much all nursery was talking about, building it up to a big change in her mind. It is a big change, it is important to talk about it, but we figured maybe we were talking about it too much, so in the final weeks we pulled back and didn’t bring it up quite so often.

On her first day, she was, understandably fine. A bunch of her friends from nursery were going to the same school and most even the same class as her, so it wasn’t a big a change as she expected. Of course, T and I felt it more.

Or we would have, had the first week of school not been a series of 2 hour sessions, expanding to a 3 hour session on the Friday so she could have lunch. There were 6 of these half-days in all and we split the effort: T did the first 3, I did the last 3. I took her to the Science Museum on one of our days1 and we had so much fun in the Wonderlab that which we ended up meeting T after work and having a late (for R, early for us) dinner in a Knightsbridge Pizzeria.

I don’t know if dining out is suddenly more expensive because there’s 3 of us and they didn’t have a kids menu, or if COVID has caused prices to be jacked up, or if this is just what you should expect when eating pizza across the road from Harrods, but we spent £100 on 3 pizzas, a beer, a glass of prosecco, and a scoop of ice-cream. We should have realised that we might be in for a bit of a price shock when the waiter asked us several times if we didn’t want the 2 other scoops, because the price was for 3 scoops of ice-cream, and were we sure we didn’t want them, the price wouldn’t change.

Experimental Gastronomy

I finally followed through on an idea I’d had ever since learning about aquafaba during the heydays of my computation club attendance2. Knowing that you can make meringues from the reserved liquid from chickpeas is exciting enough. Eventually I learned that it’s not something special about chickpeas, and you can use other pulses and beans, but maybe the liquid from them is the most egg-like or takes on the least flavour from the bean.


I wondered.

What if? Aqua-baba.

Could we use reserved liquid from a can of baked beans?

Anyway, jump forward roughly 3 years and I finally tried it this month. I’d hoped that because baked beans have loads of sugar in them you could just whip them up and bake as meringues without adding anything. I also hoped they’d be somewhat savoury.

It took forever, but I did get what I classified as stiff peaks3 and so, into the oven they went:

And behold my glorious meringues:

The ensuing twitter discussion gave me hope that I really did need to add sugar, there wasn’t going to be enough to maintain the meringue structure from the bean juice. So I’ll try again, probably in 2024.4

That’s so 2019

At work we’ve hired another EM and two of our TLs decided to take the leap and try out EM-ing too. Now there’s a few of us we decided to spend some time together to work out what we’ll try to do as a team of EMs instead of a handful of individuals doing the same job. Given it was our first time together as a team, we decided to take the opportunity to do it in-person, and so, I commuted to the office for 3 days for the first time since all this began.

Can’t say I missed commuting - I was exhausted by Friday.

I would say I missed the serendipitous conversations you have in the office kitchen; bumping into people you don’t normally work with and having a little chat is a nice way to stay connected to the whole company, and find out what else is going on. I missed going for lunch with folks and trying something different each day5. In terms of how useful it was to be in the office to do my actual job? Not at all. I mostly have 1-to-1s with people, and your 2019 interior decorated office with metal floors, glass walls, open plan desk arrangements, and large breakout areas with tiny tables just isn’t conducive to a private chat in-person, or when the other half of the meeting is remote. I enjoyed having some actual face-to-face time with people, but I shan’t be hurrying back to the office any time soon. Well, not until we redesign the office space to have soft furnishings to deaden the sound and significantly more small meeting rooms.

Let’s all go to the circus

We took R to see Zippo’s Circus again and she was as mesmerised by it as she was the previous year. Me less so because it turns out they tour essentially the same show every year. It’s not bad at all, and the performers are extremely talented, but what was amazing last year, was “oh, I know what happens” this year. It’s odd that when going to see a band, what you want is the same songs you know and love, but any other form of entertainment feels somewhat cheapened if you get the exact same (good!) show as you did last time.

It is, also, confusingly low-key sexy, in a somewhat British sea-side fashion. Obviously most of the performers are athletic and young and wearing skin tight clothes, but it’s more than that: two of the acts rely on a lady losing her clothes and revealing skimpy undergarments for their punchlines.

But, R loved it, so I imagine we’ll go again next year (and the year after and…).


7 times! That’s nearly twice a week! I’m really happy to have finally managed to get back into a groove with working from home and running. Ironically, given my struggles to work out how to run more while working from home, the one week I didn’t manage twice a week was the one where I visited the office.

I’ve pretty much given up on low-heart rate running. I don’t think I was running enough for it to make a difference, so I wasn’t getting the expected “slow down to go faster” payoff and I was definitely getting frustrated by it. I didn’t think I particularly cared about pace or speed or times, but it turns out I do, a bit, against myself. It’s possible this was part of my difficulty in fitting running into my life during lockdown - I just wasn’t enjoying it. That said, once I’ve gotten back into a decent rhythm of running, I might try again, but for now I’m just being a bit more careful about my heart rate.

One of the runs I did this month was to take part in the 2021 Triffic Trail 10k up in Trent Park. I’ve done this run three times now in 2018, 2019, and now 2021. Got slower each time, which is, I’m sure, not how this is supposed to work. I had expected to hit about an hour, but I managed to get over the line in 55:59, which is pretty good I think given my fitness level.

It’s a good race, not least because it comes with a great goodie bag at the end. There’s no medal, but you get a bag full of snacks, which is what I want at the end of a race. It’s also, unusually for a London race, almost entirely run on woodland paths, so despite some hills, it’s easy on your feet. A hard recommend for anyone curious. It’s usually run at the end of June so it was nice to do it at the start of Autumn and see the trails in a different light (and also not be super hot in the final sprint finish across an open field).

It was really nice doing an organised race again7. I know that having a goal for all this running is useful having previously fallen right off my schedule in the weeks after a big run. I’m definitely going to sign up to more races as motivation to get me through winter runs and on into 2022. I like the ethos of the runthrough events, but so many of their runs are on short courses and I hate doing laps. Perhaps 2022 will be the year I finally sign up to a full-marathon (I’ve been saying this for at least 5 years though, so I won’t cross my fingers).


2 books. I started reading “I’m a joke and so are you” by Robin Ince, but have really struggled with it. Not because it’s bad, but more because I got to the chapter on Imposter Syndrome at roughly the same time some work stuff triggered my own worries about being caught out as a fraud. So I just slid off it. I should start something else instead and return to it when I’m in a more confident frame of mind, but I’m fairly stubborn about finishing what I start when I start it, and I am enjoying it so I don’t want to give up.