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5 things I learnt from my sabbatical

During this year’s VIP GM, I did a 4 minute “flash talk”. It was about my sabbatical. A lot of the talks were thought-provoking and educational. But not this one.

But, there are takeaways.

Here it is, presented in a blog format, with added pictures and content.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

During my sabbatical I started going to a weekly badminton group. An over 50’s group, to be more precise.

It’s during the day, on a weekday, which should have given me a clue as to the kind of people who went. Let’s just say, I brought the average age down quite a bit when I joined. Most people are retired. But good God, they’re good.

One lady, quite old, stands, head down and, well, she doesn’t move much. You can easily beat here by hitting the shuttlecock anywhere on the court not too close to her. But, get it anywhere in her area and…

I’ve never know anyone knock a shuttlecock over a net where, once it’s over, it moves at a right angle downwards. She’s a demon.

Lisbon is NOT mainly flat

I’ve been to Lisbon 3 times with work and I thought it was time to take the family, as I love the city so much.

I warned them about it being steep. They said they’d be fine and enjoyed hills. They weren’t and they didn’t.

Lisbon – Mostly Flat

I now know, when swimming, what a slow lane is for

I took up swimming too.

There are 3 lanes – slow, medium and fast. You swim in tight circles. My fast stroke is front crawl but it’s pretty splashy, so for the sake of those swimming past me, I thought I’d stick to breast stroke. So, I booked for the slow lane.

Anyway, it appears the slow lane is for people who don’t actually want to swim. It’s for people who like to stop suddenly so that they can chat to someone coming the opposite way.

I changed to the medium lane after that.

People really hate cyclists. But often they have good reason.

Drivers. Pedestrians. Dogs. They all hate cyclists.

I took up cycling and I’ve since had a lot of accidents (badly gashed my knee and damaged my bike the day before I left for Lisbon). Cyclists and dog owners don’t seem to care much about cycle lanes, shall we say.

One pedestrian took such a dislike to my nicely pointing out that he was walking in the middle of the cycle lane that he threatened me and ran after me too. After that I bought a camera for my helmet.

Drivers are maniacs too – thankfully no accidents with them yet, but a lot of near missed. The camera is great because I can easily upload evidence to the local Police.

But, you know, I don’t blame car drivers for hating cyclists, as most cyclists are a law to themselves. Red light? Pah. Correct lane usage? Not for me. Sometimes I feel I’m the only cyclist left that actually follows the rules of the road. And you’re not going to be respected by drivers if you don’t follow the same rules that they have to.

Oh, and I learnt that a good quality bicycle bell is vital.

Learning to drum from a book is not recommended

I bought some electronic drums a few years back and attempted to learn how to play from a book that I bought. I was frustrated at progress so, during my sabbatical, started taking lessons.

Within a couple of 30 minute lessons I’d advanced further than I had over the previous couple of years with that book.


The tl;dr of all of the above is that whatever you make of your sabbatical, it’s a great learning opportunity. Whether you want it to be or not.

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