Someone pointed out this week that it has been two months since the longest day which puts us at the same length of day now as we had in April. That really does put into perspective that we are moving into that depressing period that marks the end of summer. And for me there are two other personal things that say the same thing. Firstly I bought my Filofax diary pages for next year as I am starting to get dates and events for 31st Dec+ and, secondly,the arrival of the August Bank Holiday. It is now that I start to get a bit low knowing that summer is over, and we have the cold and darkness to look forward to. Need to point out to myself that it’s not over yet and there can be some good things about darkness and cold… To perk myself up, I have booked leave at work for my upcoming trips to Berlin, Madrid and Gran Canaria.
The main event of the week just gone was my 48 hour visit to Newcastle. As usual this was linked to work, again seeing one of the abstinence-based recovery community projects we are funding. I am privileged to keep meeting inspirational people and as before I met with some recovery leaders and some people in recovery. One of the latter pointed out that it is not just being abstinent but building something around you that replaces the need for drugs and alcohol. The guys in recovery will be working with a great community organisation Cornforth Partnership (see my websites of the week) to create a recovery community covering County Durham. I realised as well that in many ways these people are making better progress than me as I still cannot totally let go of alcohol even though I am now totally abstinent from recreational drugs. I feel alcohol was ‘never a problem’ and I can control it – perhaps this is a bridge I am going to have to cross one day.
I travelled up to the North East on Wednesday morning. I had an idea to do the gym beforehand but my train was at 11.30 so instead I just concentrated on the exercise provided by the walk from Victoria to King’s Cross. A good journey up though I had some work tasks to do and this was made frustratingly slow by the difficulty in transfering data via the East Coast train’s wifi. I stayed at Sleeperz which is a modern and clean chain of hotels I would recommend. I then caught up with Gospelware a digital company doing good work (see websites of the week). I chilled around Newcastle before dinner with my boss as she was coming with me to the recovery community project the next day. It was actually a very nice meal as I have a lot of time for my boss – she’s not perfect, none of us are. But she cares passionately about the work we do and is one of those managers who will fight for her staff. We went to Ottoman, a lovely and popular Turkish restaurant by the train station. Later I went out on my own for a drink at The Eagle which was ok – a classic midweek ‘men’s’ gay pub.
The next day before we went on the project visit I checked out Newcastle’s charity shops buying a couple of books (the follow on from my current reading book plus Patrick Gale’s latest) and a couple of t-shirts. After meeting the inspirational project, my boss went back down to London but I returned to Newcastle. I find travelling exhilirating but exhausting and so I rested for another night in Newcastle then got a cheap train the next day. The only problem being this was a very early train (leaving Newcastle at 5.25am) so I was up at 4.45am. My rationale being that I am good with early starts. It was still difficult to sleep – I kept waking to check the time and had dreams of missing trains,planes, etc. But all went well, I caught the train and it was a good journey though I did flake later the same day.
The rest of last week was pretty ordinary – which sometimes can be a wonderful (the curse of living in interesting times…). Monday was my non-work chill day (though inevitably I was often on the internet dealing with work stuff) and included lots of coffee and reading though I did manage to get into an argument on Twitter with a troll from the Cyclists’ Liberation Front based on me complaining about a cyclist going the wrong way up two one way streets. My twitter respondent’s position seemed to be that cyclists were more important than cars and pedestrians. I do love the way conversations on Twitter can be created (much more so than on Facebook where it really does feel too self-contained) but many people on Twitter often take extreme positions and it is pointless to think anybody is going to be convinced to change their mind. Indeed the main battle seems to be for who has the last word – tiresome. Monday night was blessed double Coronation Street which I watched with mum who is OK though her usual sceptical and critical self. Tuesday was a normal work day but I kept to the work-life balance thing by arriving at 8 and leaving at 4.30. I also took time off for lunch linked to our monthly ‘No Al Desko’ policy where no-one is supposed to stay at their desk through lunch – a very good policy. A lot of my energy was taken up with feeding back on submissions and we had one of our nice short team meetings. Part of my leaving before 5 was to meet an external colleague after work but she failed to turn up. I presume she forgot and I am not sure whether to re-arrange.
After my return from Newcastle on Friday (I was in Kings Cross by 8.45am), the rest of the day was weird as my whole body clock was messed up. I walked to the gym and did a series of not too taxing exercises. I was then starving so I had a big pasta lunch. My idea had been to keep going and have an early night. I planned to see the film ‘Wakolda’ in the afternoon. However it would have cost £12.95 as the cinema’s weekday afternoon discount did not include Friday afternoons. That was too expensive and shows why so few people go to the cinema now. So I went back to Dave’s and crashed out for a two and half hours’s snooze till he came in from work. He is in a good mood especially after having volunteered at the Tower of London to plant poppies. For our evening meal we had fish and chip shop chips which I ate with a lovely selection of sauces plus bread and butter. Double Coronation Street was followed by an early night.
Yesterday (I am writing this blog on Sunday 24th Aug listening to Tottenham vs QPR with my beloved Rangers 4-0 down), I did my weekly jog-run (details below) then had an industrious day of shaving (which I try to do only twice per week as it bores me), taking stuff to the charity shop, putting away the laundry and sorting out a new bag of laundry to be done, and sorting the books to go on my new shelves fitted by my brother last week. Dave went for a swim then we met for dinner. Went to Ed’s Easy Diner – great peanut butter malt but the rest of the meal was disappointing. Back to watch the new Dr Who – I like Peter Capaldi, it’s great to have an older Doctor again and I feel ultimately it will be shown that Matt Smith was one of the worst Doctors. I’m also getting into Celebrity Big Brother.
So the everydayness of the week gone apart, how have I done on my long-term goals? In terms of reading, I finished Christopher Fowler’s ‘Full Dark House’ which was well-written and entertaining though not very original. I decided to read Evelyn Waugh’s ‘Decline and Fall’ but then realised I had already read it. But it is a very good book, quite dated though with a great series of bizarre adventures for the main character Paul Pennyfeather. And there is something nice about reading a book you have read before, discovering new things about it, and enjoying it all over again. I have made no progress on my time management book. It is telling me some good stuff but is actually quite dull.
In terms of fitness: I saw Sara my trainer on Monday and we had a good kettlebells session including single arm swings. Nothing then until my ‘refresher’ gym session after my return from Newcastle on Friday. I did my run yesterday (Saturday) and covered a good distance but I was a bit below speed which I think was due to a combination of a big dinner the night before and my ongoing messed up body clock; I feel I know how top athletes feel now when they have to fly round the world to compete.
Unfortunately, on digital and languages again no real progress apart from loading some videos to this website – a lovely mixture of new (Katy Perry, One Republic) and old (Thomas Dolby, Teardrop Explodes, Simple Minds).
Wonker of the week:
I was going to make this the vile piece of humanity that cut off head of James Foley – I feel ashamed that such a monster is British. But he really is beyond the pale and is actually pure evil; I hope he is blown to pieces or shot very soon. So wonkers of the week go to Malky Mackay, Iain Moody, and the League Managers’ Association for their deeply offensive ‘banter’ and then the pathetic defence of it. Banter seems to always be used now when people say something offensive but then claim they did not mean it.