Enjoying a Quiet Week (and a Quiet Easter)

Mon 3 – Sun 9 April 2023

Quiet living in noisy times

‘May you live in interesting times’ is supposedly a Chinese curse. Indeed, I think I prefer the actual Chinese expression ‘Better to be a dog in times of tranquility than a human in times of chaos’. You can read about the debate on the ‘interesting times’ expression here.

And we shouldn’t doubt that these are ‘interesting times’ we are living in. We exist during a period of huge technological change and a growing environmental crisis. Plus it may well be that we are seeing the long-term decline of the world’s liberal democracies and the rise of totalitarianism and anti-science.

In a grim situation like this, it’s actually nice to have quiet periods in life. And that was what last week was for me, a bit of a breathing space. And not least in comparison to the unexpectedly busy week before that – read my blog about it here.

Easter 2023: Reflection and renewal

Last week was also Easter week and it was so nice to have a quiet one where were not rushing about. I’ve always thought of Easter in a spiritual way as a period of reflection; this can be read in my blog for this period last year here. This blog has links to other previous Easter blogs and it is clear that I regularly use this time as a milestone for looking at how my life has changed and progressed.

Also interesting that all my Easters post-pandemic are more quieter and reflective than they were pre-pandemic. In particular, me and Dave used to often go to Berlin. It was great but there is something refreshing about not dealing with travel as well as just having the opportunity to chill at home. Nice to note that Dave took me out for fish and chips on Good Friday lunchtime at his local chippie. Really fun but it was very busy and Dave swears that they mixed up his cod order with my haddock one.

Reflecting and chilling in the quiet

The weather has turned, Spring is coming

Finally some respite from the rain particularly at the weekend. And we moved into some of my favourite weather of the whole year; I actually think Spring is my favourite season because it also signals better to come. Chilly nights and fresh mornings but with some significant sunshine during the day. Lovely to walk around and feel yourself getting warmed by the sun that takes away the chill. Indeed, I’ve started to see some men walking in shorts but it’s a bit too early for that.

Spring - trees in blossom

Health and Efficiency

Gym: Easy on the legs

Decent gym sessions though I was having problems with my knee which meant I took it easy on the leg exercises. I think that I may have worked out one of the machine exercises (hamstring curl) that particularly aggravates my knee. So I will be giving that a miss for the time being. So the main focus of my gym sessions has been upper body.

A decent session on Monday deliberately not over-taxing myself. Followed by a longer one on Wednesday. Gym was quiet the whole week, me thinks that people have gone away for Easter. Though I did another long session on Friday and I had to share the gym with a guy listening to music on his headphones singing along loudly and obliviously.

tunes in darkness

35 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = just over £14 per session.

Jog-run: Took a chance and it turned out well

My troublesome knee had caused me to miss my jog-run on the previous Sunday. And it was still causing me real discomfort at the beginning of the week. It did lessen as the week progressed with not putting too much strain on it. However, I was due to do a jog-run on Thursday but I decided to give it a miss again.

My knee still seemed to be hurting me particularly during Saturday night. But I suspect that’s partly my subconscious simply trying to stop me from doing what I know I need to do. So I did my jog-run on Sunday morning (getting round the obstacle course that is Green Park with preparation ongoing for the London Marathon and the Coronation) and it felt really good. Another 25 min jog-run achieving just under 3.5 km so a slow pace. Next week we move up to 28 mins according to the ‘couch to 5K’ programme.

lady going for jog-run in cold weather

Weight: More good news

Genuinely pleased that I went below the 13 & a half stone mark the previous week though based on being ill and not eating. And in the week just gone, my appetite has not been overwhelming. This is great news meaning that I managed to post another loss: 13 stone, 5 & a half pounds. Brilliant that I have lost about 12 pounds in 6 & a half months – see the weight loss here. I definitely feel less heavy and I am also very hopeful that the decrease in weight will ease my knee problem.

Family and Friends

Mum: Pancake time

Made sure I spent time with mum in the week gone. Two particular things of note. First, on Wednesday afternoon I took her to the local ‘big’ library i.e. not just the small satellite one nearby. Quiet so she was able to browse at her leisure and she picked up 4 new books including one by a favourite author of hers. And we bumped into my cousin who works there.

Then on Saturday, mum made pancakes for me and Dave. This was to make up for her being too ill to do them for Shrove Tuesday. Mum’s pancakes are lovely – wide and thick. And I cannot resist maple syrup despite it being so expensive. Made sure I ate more healthy for the rest of the day so as not to over do my calorie count.

pancake day

Frances and Patrick

With our friend Frances on Tuesday afternoon to catch an exhibition at the Royal Academy – see below. Then on Thursday, me and Dave took out Frances and Patrick for a celebration Easter lunch at the Union Jack Club. This is becoming a bit of an annual event as we also did it last year – read about it here. Busy at the UJC but we had a nice meal; Dave found it hilarious that I chose the cauliflower steak as I fancied something different. Frances told us all about her Passover meal the night before which sounded fascinating.

Art and Culture

‘Spain and the Hispanic World’

This is the exhibition I went to with Frances on Tuesday and it was far from quiet being the final week before it closed. Sub-titled ‘Treasures from the Hispanic Society Museum & Library’, it is a selection of the brilliant collection from this institution based in New York and assembled by Archer M Huntington (1870-1955).

Have no illusion, there are some stunning works by Velazquez, El Greco, and Goya. But I was particularly impressed by the beautifully made and decorated bowls that were about 4,500 years old. And it was wonderful to see the Arab / Muslim influence on Spanish design in the medieval and early modern periods.

However, it’s Spanish art and so from the sixteenth century onwards it is massively influenced by Catholicism. And this means art that is extremely dogmatic and over-bearing. There are only so many religious people you can see dressed in black, stories of saints, and Virgin Marys.

And it is really unfortunate that there is no art from the indigenous communities of colonial Spanish America. Almost reinforcing the contemporary view that their cultures were of negligible value compared to that of Spanish Latin America. So you are left with some fascinating colonial art that is influenced by indigenous cultures but also signifying a denial of it.

Illness - death heads

Fun TV but our favourites are out

I’m not a massive TV watcher apart from Emmerdale and Coronation Street. But there is some good TV at the moment. Dave loves the interior design competition fronted by Alan Carr. Frankly I think most interior design is a load of wank (‘let’s put fur on the walls!’). The real heroes are the craftspeople who have to make real the silly ideas of the interior designers.

And me and Dave love ‘Race Around the World’ with the five teams racing across Canada. It’s definitely a great free advertisement for the Canadian tourist authority. But the sad thing on both these programmes was that mine and Dave’s favourite contestants were knocked out. Peter (Irish eye candy) as well as the brothers on ‘Race’ – one gay and one autistic but very funny together.

Books and Reading

Chinese sci-fi: ‘Waste Tide’ by Chen Quifan

There is nothing better than quiet time reading a book. This is the one I finished the week gone. It’s a piece of contemporary Chinese science fiction. It’s definitely not a quiet book in itself with so much going on. It’s set in the near future in a place in China where they take toxic electronic waste from across the world and recycle it.

It’s a world full of greedy and horrible people: multinationals, local warlords, corrupt police and politicians. Even the eco-terrorists are a bit dubious. Indeed, there is perhaps only once nice character in the book. And everyone has prosthetics and implants as well as digital addictions. But local people’s lives are also dominated by superstitious beliefs.

The plot veers a bit and I think sometimes the jerkiness is based on the translation. But it’s a fascinating read looking at a depressingly plausible future and giving a window into life in modern China.

various cybermen

Sustainability and Personal Development

The value of a quiet week is that you can focus on things that make life nice like friends and reading. But I have also been able to give time to my quest to help the world and help myself.

Sustainability

Still focused on trying not to buy stuff and to offload the things I have that I don’t use these days. Indeed, I came across a great Islamic saying in the book I’ve been reading on my kindle ‘What is History Now?’: ‘Live in this world as though you are a stranger, a traveller’. And the best way to travel is to travel light.

Dave also took this on last week by starting to tidy up his balconies. It’s great that they have got a bit overgrown. But it’s often better to have less and put your focus on these rather than having everything stretched. Hasn’t put the birds off who are still a delight to watch coming to his balcony. Particularly the blue tits though are noisy and have a really annoying habit of spraying seed around that then has to be swept up.

Close up of a blue tit

Personal Development

Another good week in terms of getting my language learning done but perhaps not as good as other recent weeks. Duolingo lessons completed whilst at the gym resting between reps; it’s a great habit I’ve gotten into. But I do need to make sure that I don’t overlook doing lessons on non-gym days. Focus has been on Spanish over French and German. The latter two I really want to get to grips with but it’s that thing about not spreading yourself too thinly.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

The Week Ahead

  • Easter Bank Holiday Monday should be a quiet one for me (poor Dave has to work). The amazing thing is that this is the first of 4 bank holiday Mondays before the end of May with May Day, the Coronation, and the Spring Bank Holiday to come.
  • Planned gym visits on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Need to think about whether to go for 2 jog-runs or just keep to one, will depend a lot on how my knee goes.
  • Time with mum and must set up times to meet some friends particularly Emma, Irene, and Fang Fang
  • Should finish reading my current Kindle book and start a couple more
  • Be good if I can do more Duolingo than last week
  • QPR are a complete embarrassment. We lost 2-0 (at home!) to Preston on Good Friday. It’s a team in a spiral of decline and I’m more than 50% sure now that we will be relegated. If we do then hopefully our Director of Football Les Ferdinand will go as he’s bloody useless and has been around too long.

And Finally…

America's mad idolisation of guns and its war on women

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