Christmas is still coming despite Tier 4

Mon 14 – Sun 20 Dec 2020

So on Saturday night with immediate effect we basically went back into full lockdown in London and the rest of the world is isolating the UK. 🙁 But it is still the run-up to Christmas which in normal times is a period I love. Usually it would be parties, drinks, meals, secret Santa, and organising the tombola at work. But life is different now with no job and Covid. However, the pre-Christmas period is meant to be different to everyday life and so we should enjoy it as best we can.

Christmas house plant

Indeed, time last week was inevitably taken up with doing some pre-Christmas things like writing a limited number of cards and buying family presents. The little social bubble of me, mum and Dave had booked to go to a restaurant for our Christmas Day meal. Tiers 3 and 4 in the space of a few days put paid to that. However, as a social bubble, we can still do lunch together on Christmas Day. So I’ve also been doing the shopping and prep for that.

Step ladder disguised as a Christmas tree

The knock-on is that a lot of the stuff I would usually be doing has been sidelined by Christmas prep. So no books completed in the week gone nor any big artistic nor cultural experiences. Obviously that has also been curtailed by all the museums and galleries closing from Wed. And the shops shut from Sun morning means Dave and mum ain’t gonna get all the presents I was planning. 🙁

‘You cannot find peace by avoiding life.’

Virginia Woolf

Languages

This remains my main development focus even with the stuff to be done in the run up to Christmas. I’ve continued to manage my daily Duolingo as well as the Busuu Spanish session and Drops German. A day missed on each of the latter two apps but shit happens and you just power on.

On Duolingo I remain particularly fascinated by Russian and German. And have gone back to basics to try to get better acquainted with the alphabets for both of them.

Tech

Haven’t been quite as attentive with my tech skills development. But I have tried to stick to the daily challenge of learning on Free Code Camp – did miss one or two days. 🙁 I’ve been re-familiarising myself with basic HTML and moved onto basic CSS. It won’t make me a developer but hopefully it will help me understand the background better to the tech that I so love.

Have seen another interesting job but the pay is quite low and ‘part-time’ is 4 days per week which is basically full-time. Indeed, it looks like a full-time post but without sufficient funding to be able to offer full-time. 🙁

But I’ve still not seen a job that makes me feel ‘wow, I want that so much!’ How long can I afford to last without working? Suspect Tier 4 is going to make getting work even worse. Oh well, one to probably leave till after Christmas is over.

‘We will either find a way or make one.’

Hannibal

Long purposeful walks

I did a good amount of these last week. Primarily based on walking between mum and Dave’s place twice during the week to get things sorted for Christmas. This burns up lots of calories gently and helps me meet my daily step target.

walking feet

The only negative is that this walk each way takes about an hour and a half. I spent well over six hours in total walking this route. Walking is great but it crowds out other things like time to focus on development and for reading. Another thing that went by the way was that I had time to do only one internet exercise strength session.

Jog-runs and injuries

Not giving up on my beloved jog-runs during the Christmas run-in and it’s good that the weather has been amenable. Mild but plenty of rain. I’m gradually increasing my distance each time and trying not to go too fast. Also lots of stretching before and afterwards. The aim is to be able to do my jog-runs that help me lose weight but without aggravating my knee problems.

First run was last Wed. Managed 2.4 km and a pace that was slightly too fast such that it could aggravate my knee problems. Second run was on Sun morning. Managed to keep my pace slightly slower and increased distance to 2.5 km. Details on jog-runs (and weight) here.

The importance of controlling your breathing

One of the major achievements both times was trying to control my breathing better. Focused on only breathing through my nose not my mouth. That gave me more control over my exercise, made it more rhythmic, and focused my mind. Control of breathing is something I remember the importance of from my days doing yoga.

sexy santa

Weight

No great weight loss again but I do feel very steady at around 13 & a half stones. It’s not like I’m just making that weight, it’s more like I’m firmly established there. Still deliberately trying to eat less and burn up calories through exercise. I’ve been looking at Noom as a possible way to lose more weight but it’s expensive – anybody had experience of using it?

One thing that did focus my mind this week was buying a new belt. Despite my frugal living, it became a necessity as the old one had stopped holding my trousers up LOL. Got a 34-36 inch one which just fits! Next size up is 38-40 inches. 🙁 At least it’s a timely message telling me not to go mad over Christmas.

Mental health

I’m doing OK currently with my head. One of the positives of not having a job is that you don’t have any work issues to worry about. Obviously the flip-side is worrying about money. There is a part of me that is wondering if I will work again. Clearly ridiculous but I suspect it’s what nearly everybody who has been made redundant thinks at sometime. Probably alongside the crap that being made redundant is your personal fault.

Death

skulls in wall

I’m a firm believer in us all facing up to the fact that our lives are finite and death is inevitable. Thus life is to be enjoyed and death not to be feared. Difficult times are as much a part of our existence as better times and they must not distract us. I found a very good article last week which I would recommend to help you think about what is inevitable ‘You’re Going to Die, Here’s How to Deal With It.’

There’s a good bit about the need to downsize before you die. I’m not planning on dying anytime soon but perhaps it is time I started offloading some of the physical stuff I have. If I can sell it then it will be income and ultimately you can’t take it with you. 🙂

‘It is not what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable.’

Moliere

Reading and books

As stated earlier, no books completed last week very much due to Christmas prep. But I’m still reading two good ones. ‘False Values’ – wonderful and silly magical crime escapism. ‘Shuggie Bain’ – very well-written and keeps just the right side of poverty porn.

A great library visit

Did manage to get a visit to the library midweek before the unexpected Tier 4 shutdown. They have building works so only a limited selection of books. But I found 6 recently published books I have on my wish-list. Think the lockdown and the building works have been putting off other people from visiting the library and taking books out. 🙂

A room full of books

The mums

Both the mums continue to be OK. This is the worry for all of us regarding older parents, relatives, and friends. Dave’s mum is coping with the idea of Christmas not being spent with me and Dave. My mum is relatively happy though will miss seeing her grandchildren at Christmas. Thankfully she got her hair done and made a trip to the library before we went into Tier 4.

Dave

My partner is still OK as well. I wrote in my previous blog about how he loves Christmas and has transformed his flat into Santa’s Grotto (read it here). Last week he moved onto doing some Christmas cooking. Doesn’t always work out unfortunately and Dave is also a very messy cook. Mum’s face was hilarious when I told her Dave was considering cooking us all something for Christmas dessert.

Irene and Phyllis

Two phonecalls with friends arranged for last week. First was with my brilliant former colleague Irene. Unfortunately cancelled at the last minute as she had got a cancellation for a medical appointment. Lucky she did get it with Tier 4’s arrival. Second was with Phyllis in Spain. Lockdown is easing there and he is looking into his planned move to Torremolinos.

Culture from the Saatchi Gallery graduate show

Brian and Pete

One of the good things about Christmas is that you hear from friends you haven’t heard from for ages. Absolutely brilliant to hear last week from two other great old friends. First, got a long email from Brian who lives in Denmark. So good to hear from him though he’s working through some major health issues. And then I got a What’s App from my old school mate Pete. Really looking forward to meeting up with him soon.

Frugal living

I really am being a bit stingy for Christmas this year. Simply as I can’t afford it the way I have before. This means sending significantly less cards and I can’t be as generous with family presents as in previous years. 🙁 Not sending cards has given me the excuse to send messages to friends explaining I won’t be sending this year. Social media is so important in how it can bring us together. 🙂

Charity shop

Nice check-in with my favourite charity shop during the week. Dropped off some bits but didn’t buy anything. Nice to talk to the people who work and volunteer there that I know very well. Sad to think they are now shutdown till God knows when.

Plants

I’m still struggling with some of my plants. Trying to work out which ones need water and which ones should be left well alone. Particular problems with my succulents – I’m realising they take real skill to be cared for properly. Looks like Dave has done a rescue on my Christmas cactus from several years ago. It’s carried on growing but is not looking as healhty as it has been.

The importance of planting trees

Film: ‘Seeds’

One of my main cultural things last week was watching this queer film. Set in the high crime city of Cuernavaca in Mexico, it’s is the story of a young boy whose mother is shot dead. He is forced to live with his wealthy but cold grandmother and her daughter with learning difficulties. The boy craves contact with his absent father and makes a bad relationship with his grandmother’s gardener who is part of a gang. Not original nor groundbreaking but helps with my Spanish. 🙂

Culture: Strictly

Thank God we managed to still have one of the Christmas highlights. I have issues with Strictly but it has been one of the things to get us through. Not sure Bill Bailey should have won (HRVY for my money is a much better dancer). My favourite thing about Strictly is always the Charleston. I love that dance; how can anyone watch it and not feel happy?

The Week Ahead

  • Christmas Day will be a quiet affair – me, Dave, and my mum in our social bubble to eat a modest Christmas dinner
  • Will be carrying on with all the things I love over Christmas: language and tech learning, jog-runs, and reading.
  • Might try to do 3 short jog-runs over the coming week and hopefully not aggravate my knees…
  • Should finish my two current books and start two new ones 🙂
  • A catch-up with Phyllis to hear all about his new flat in Torremolinos. Christ I can’t wait to go on holiday again…
  • Must watch some more films

And Finally…

Brexit - the gift that never stops giving

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