Ever under-estimated the power of a simple cold?

Mon 8 – Sun 14 April 2019

Week 2 of my sabbatical down – only 16 more to go 🙁 It’s still great and I feel so relaxed with no work to do. My paid work is not awful by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s so nice to have no pressure weighing down. And to be focusing on what I want to do with my precious time.

Knocked for six – colds, pains, and bad backs

spreading disease

The main feature of last week was that it was defined by a simple cold. Dave had a bad one the previous week and I picked that up from him. Tuesday I felt a bit coldy and this got worse as the day progressed. Not helped by pulling a muscle or pinching a nerve in my left leg – really painful and hard to walk. Gave up in the evening and went to bed early.

teddy is ill

Woke up on Wed feeling pretty washed out. I was supposed to go back to the gym but just spent the day therapeutically slobbering about. Indeed, this ‘cold’ overshadowed the whole of last week with me soldiering through but generally feeling dehydrated and slightly fucked.

Weirdly it also really aggravated my psoriasis which flared up from just being dry skin to weeping and bleeding. 🙁

Sad to say that mum has also been wiped out by a bad back. To the extent that she had to cancel her long-planned trip to stay with her friend. The one me and Dave were going to drive her down to.

Books and Reading

3 books read last week – ahead of the target of 2 🙂

‘Blood Relatives’ by Stevan Alcock

This contemporary gay novel is the book we were discussing at the last Velvet Page book club I missed because of my pilates intro-course. So I didn’t have to read it but I am bloody glad I did. What an excellent piece of writing. It’s the story of a young man growing up in West Yorkshire at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper. I remember it well as I grew up and I was based in London. But it’s also the story of someone finding out they are gay, first love, first sex, etc. Perhaps slightly too soft-focus and fairy story-like but very good and definitely worth a read.

‘Vile Bodies’ by Evelyn Waugh

Decided to reread this classic from 1930 written. I actually forgot I had read it until I started thinking bits of it felt really familiar… And then when I came to put it on my list of books read on this website, it was already there – doh!

It’s fairly dated focusing on the beautiful people and British society of the inter-war period. But how much more real than the pictures of Pierre Bonnard that I spoke about last week and done at the same time. A quite surreal novel and I think we all under-estimate how influential surrealism was in the first half of the twentieth century. Some still funny bits (a character called Fanny Throbbing) and a very poignant ending. Not an easy read at all but a piece of social history worth visiting.

‘Places in the Darkness’ by Chris Brookmyre

This is a sci-fi thriller written by a prodigious American author. I’ve never read any of his stuff before (neither sci-fi nor contemporary thrillers) and the book left me with mixed feelings. It’s well-written and clever – but perhaps too clever, it certainly lost me at times. And was the story really that original? I tasted overtones of Total Recall, Blade Runner and various other popular sci-fi movies. Indeed, it felt a bit like a very competent author writing a well-constructed book to ring all the right bells and be popular with a sci-fi audience. Good but I’m not sure I will bother with any more of his stuff.

Health and Efficiency

Good news about my weight

Weight scales

No jog-run because me and Dave were away for the weekend. Perhaps for the best as it would not have been a good idea with my cold. But the really good news is that my healthy eating / reduced calorie intake is having an effect and I am down to 14 stone exactly. 🙂

Yoga and pilates

I did get a yoga session, done on Monday morning before the cold hit. And then I soldiered through my illness to do my pilates session on Thursday evening. Glad I did make the effort as only 5 out of 8 people had turned up.

The return of the gym

I also decided I had to go back to my old gym on Thursday now it was reopened. Same old equipment though reconditioned and some has gone completely because there is less space in the new gym. Indeed, generally a lot more cramped together. And very underground with no windows. Only one other guy there which meant it worked in terms of space.

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But the whole gym-sauna has been changed and the old building layout completely gone. So I’ve lost the old, spacious gym but gained a state of the art sauna including a really nice spa/ jacuzzi to unwind in. Really nice to see Jason and Mark again who run the show.

And great to have a workout though I’m trying to recall the various exercises to do, the breathing, and the stretching.

Personal Development

I think I can say I got some language learning done each day even with the cold. Though the goal of doing coding practice everyday did go a bit to the wall simply with the illness and feeling so exhausted some days that I just crashed out. I’m keeping on top of emails which is cool. 🙂


Selfridges Birmingham

Me and Dave really like Birmingham. Not too far from London but a quite different place. A lot more urban and earthy than London with real industry still there. But also a very mixed place and a generally quite young city. There are also nice art galleries, good restaurants, and a fun gay scene with a great mixture of camp, dance, chill, and sleaze. 🙂

Our slightly crazy hotel

We always try to stay in the same hotel. Not necessarily the cheapest but well-situated between the gay quarter and China Town as well as attracting a young and lively crowd. It’s a chain and we know the rooms well. So well that it feels like home! And I love hanging out in the frenetic bar by the hotel entrance. A great place for me to read, have a glass of wine, and watch the various groups of sexy people coming and going.

Brum people are sexy…

We spent a lot of time focused around the shopping centre. It’s busy and a great place to have coffee and people-watch. Birmingham people are very fashionable and have their own look. Male and female both seem concerned to look good and sexy. Though the city does feel more corporate now than in the past – like Brighton. With some of the more gungey and chaotic places gone which is a shame. The risk is that everywhere looks the same.

…but it’s only Primark guys 🙁

One of the big things was the new 5 storey Primark. Loads of people walking round with Primark bags. Hey guys, it’s only Primark – nothing much to see there: throw-away clothes ruining the planet, relatively cheap because they are made by people in developing countries paid a pittance. We’re better than this. 🙁

Fun food

Food in Brum is great with lots of cheap eats. Friday and Sunday nights, it was into China Town. Cafe Soya is one of my favourite eating places simply because they can do such amazing things with soya, tastes just like meat but it ain’t. 🙂 Only sad thing was big branch had closed and only smaller one left. Saturday night we went to a busy and slightly crazy Greek restaurant (Santorini) with excellent food and friendly staff that brought back fond memories of being in Athens.

Out and about limited by my cold

Our stay was dominated by my wretched cold and a general state of unwellness and dehydration. This meant some of the more mad night-time going out I had planned went to the wall. But we did some stuff during the days beyond just sipping wine or coffee and people watching. 🙂

Art and Culture

With the cold and other stuff, no time last week to create any art though I have some ideas in my head. And all my cultural stuff was linked to our Birmingham visit.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Saturday we went to the local museum and art gallery which really is very good. The Edwardian tea room is great fun and we had a look round some of the Leonardo drawings on loan from the Royal Collection as well as a very good exhibition about sweet but sickly art.

Barber Institute of Fine Art

Sunday me and Dave walked from the city centre to the University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston to visit this art gallery. A long walk and Dave moaned as per usual but through a pleasant area with la-di-da houses he likes looking at.

And what a brilliant gallery – well worth the walk. It’s an amazing collection of art through the ages. Nearly all the great Western painters are represented and these are not second-rate pictures but beautiful pieces of art in their own right. Plus it’s not at all busy so plenty of time and space to appreciate everything. There’s also an interesting story as to how this collection was amassed as the dates of purchase are shown. Nearly all of them are roughly between the 1930s and 60s including during WW2 – who was selling and buying art during the war?

The Week Ahead

  • Easter next week – one of my favourite times of the year as it signals that summer is very nearby 🙂
  • Try to get back to doing daily stuff around learning languages and practising coding
  • Hopefully, cold permitting, I will have a full exercise week: pilates, yoga, massage, gym and a jog-run.  
  • Hopefully get through another couple of books
  • More general chilling, enjoying myself, and being happy 🙂

And Finally…

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