Finishing off and heading to Torremolinos

Mon 25 – Sun 31 Oct 2021

A definite week of two halves. The first half was about finishing everything off in London both for work and sorting the appropriate arrangements to travel. Then the journey to Torremolinos and the start of my well-earned big gay holiday break with lots of books, nice food, drinks, friends, and gentle autumn/winter sun.

Tying up loose ends at work and for travel

I was finishing off stuff right up to the last minute on Wed evening. Work and life generally has been busy (see my previous blog here) and there always seems to be one last email to deal with. I also had to sort my Covid test for 2 days after I return and complete the Spanish equivalent of the Passenger Location Form. Totally understandable but travel has become a real faff with Covid. The idea of just going somewhere and coming back is not without extra bureaucracy these days never mind the silliness of Brexit. I had to wait in line to get my passport stamped on arrival, how fucking archaic can you get?!

Torremolinos

Despite finishing everything on Wed night (including my packing), I didn’t sleep well. Do we ever when we are going away and have an early start the next morning? Up at 6 and from Dave’s to Victoria for a busy train to Gatwick. I like to check in early then spend time chilling. Flight was fine, about 75% full. Everyone wearing masks bar one family who sounded like they were from Essex with one woman in particular refusing to wear one and looking like an older, rougher version of Gemma Collins. Is there anything worse than English exceptionalism?

“You only have to do a few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Warren Buffett

The train from the airport to Torremolinos is one of the best and cheapest connections I have come across anywhere. From the train station to the bar to meet with my old Comic Relief colleague Philip (nee Phyllis) before checking into my hotel. A quick snooze and shower then out for more drinks followed by a huge Indian meal. Finished off the evening with more drinks. Philip went home and I decided to have a relatively early night. Many a time I have been on holiday and gone completely crazy on the first night which is so stupid as I have another 9 nights to go a bit mad.

My fun hotel

I write this blog looking out over the rooftops of Torremolinos and towards the hills. I am on the balcony of my 6th floor room. It’s been 2 years since I have been here. And I am back in my favourite gay hotel which seems to be populated with people from across Europe who all bear a striking resemblance to Rylan. As you can imagine, Grindr and Scruff are both on explosion level.

Good weather

TBH the weather is not scorchio. It’s a mixture of cloud and gentle sunshine. Temperatures are in the low 20s. This is actually my favourite level of heat. I like the sun and I can happily spend time lazing on a beach or by the pool. But I am very fair-skinned and so a pleasant temperature with some nice shade suits me fine. High twenties and above is really too much – though I can admire the men walking around in shorts and little else on very hot days.

sunshine logo

Great to be here for Halloween

I love the creativity that happens around this date – the emphasis people and places put into dressing up is amazing. And Spain is famous for its fiestas. So these combined with decent weather meant a fab party vibe was everywhere on Saturday and Sunday night.The kids especially were hilarious with one young boy dressed as a serial killer and carrying a pretend toy chainsaw. I was reminded of the fun time I had with Dave when we were in Sitges on what happened to be the night of Eurovision. These are the sort of events and times you don’t forget.

Pumpkin head

Should you read work emails on holiday?

Ah that classic old conundrum. I spent Mon and Wed primarily making sure everything was as ship shape as possible before I went away. I particularly wanted to ensure my co-worker wasn’t left any nasty surprises. There is still our 10 week delivery project going on and we will be starting a new 3 week discovery project whilst I am away. Indeed, tuned into an excellent show and tell for the Citizens Advice delivery project on Tues (my day-off) – very impressive what the team is doing.

For me, the answer is yes

But even with this finishing off, there still feels like lots going on and so I have been keeping an eye on my emails whilst away. I could have just put on an out of office and ignored them. But things happen and it’s important to act if action is needed. And I had a couple of emails like that on Friday where only I could action something (giving permission to download a file) or I was able to simply tell the right people I wasn’t around but who they could talk to.

Trying to let work wash over you

I suppose dealing with emails on holiday is another example of my incredibly strong work ethic that regular blog readers will know all about. Plus my belief in creating reciprocity: if you help someone then they will help you. And I have said in blogs before how I don’t believe in the idea of work life balance being simply about a black and white divide between the two spaces. Rather work and non-work life ooze into each other and we have to learn how to deal with that. I am also of the opinion that I would rather spend some time on holiday so that when I come back I know what has been happening and I’m not spending hours wading through emails.

depression or just work?

Books

Next week’s blog is going to feature a lot about books. One of my big strengths is the ability to entertain myself and not become lonely – strange as I am not an only child. I have taken 6 ‘real’ books with me to Torremolinos as well as the almost endless supply available on my kindle. I will be devouring them on a daily basis – that is one of the big aims for this break. So with all the finishing off stuff last week around work and getting ready to travel, I did only manage to get one book finished before I left London though I got another finished just after arriving.

‘The Sand Men’ by Christopher Fowler

Finished this one just before leaving London. As I said in my previous blog, this is a prodigious author who I really like. I think his best books are the Bryant and May detective series. But his standalone books are great as well. Do look at his brilliant blog here. And reflect on the fact that this is someone who is carrying on writing despite his diagnosis of terminal cancer. He is not finishing yet.

‘The Sand Men’ itself is good though does lose its way a bit at the end. A brilliant condemnation of the vacuous nature of life in artificial places such as Dubai. And a querying of who you can really trust. But it turns into a bit of a blockbuster chase and starts to verge into crank global conspiracy theory aka the nuttiness of Q-Anon and the Anti-Vax movement.

‘Luster’ by Raven Leilani

This was the other book I finished last week just after I arrived. It’s a highly acclaimed first novel by a young black woman. And it’s a weird contemporary story about a menage a trois where the young poor black female lover of the man in a liberal white straight couple moves in with them and befriends the black girl they are fostering.

It does demonstrate some of the major fissures in modern America particularly around race, wealth inequality, guns, and lack of access to universal healthcare. It’s brief but intense and sometimes it seemed to jump around. So a flawed masterpiece that I think could have happily been longer and more detailed. But I do think this author could use this as a launchpad for writing a real modern classic in the future.

The importance of books

Does it matter that you forget books you’ve already read?

Did have a slight shock during the week. I was flicking through my filofax (yep still got one) on the plane looking at pages I haven’t viewed for ages. I came across some listings of books that I haven’t added to the page on my website Books I have read And I realised I could not remember reading some of these books at all.

Slightly depressing as there were some very significant books that I was looking forward to reading. Does this matter that I can’t remember them? Probably not. It’s just another sign that we shouldn’t hold onto things. That whatever we hoard is ultimately pointless as we can’t take anything with us. Rather we should enjoy things as they happen and realise the transience of everything. This does loop back into my thoughts around sustainability that I have been exploring in recent blogs.

“There is nothing permanent except change.”

Heraclitus

What am I currently reading?

Three books on the go at this moment in time:

  • ‘Black Spartacus. The epic life of Toussaint Louverture’ by Sudhir Hazareesingh. Still getting through this beautifully researched biography of the life of this black revolutionary leader.
  • ‘The Bear Pit’ by S.G. MacLean. Great historical thriller and the 4th installment of the The Seeker series.
  • ‘Doctor Who Short Trips: Monsters’ – the ninth in the series of short stories from Big Finish
Rows and rows of beautiful books

Family and Friends

Mum and Dave

Didn’t get as much time with mum as I would have liked before I went away simply because I was so tied up with finishing off work stuff. Plus getting stuff ready for going away – Euros, sorting laundry, packing my bag, hair cut, etc. Sort of the same with Dave. But I will be keeping in contact with them both whilst away. Reassuring to know that mum will be getting her Covid booster whilst I am on holiday and my brother will be keeping his eye on her. Dave is also going away for a few days. We enjoy being together but we also benefit from having our own time to do stuff.

Philip

As stated, met Philip on the first day several times after arriving. And then we have met on each subsequent day. He’s not as keen on eating out as I am so I will probably dine alone most nights with a good book for company. This makes me very happy. But suspect we will be meeting every night for drinks.

Jamie

Meanwhile, knew I had to catch up with this mate who now lives in Benalmadena. We first met in 2019 when we were both solo travellers and staying in the same Torremolinos hotel. He was talking about moving to Spain and actually did it (so many talk and never do – perhaps me amongst them).

But the ironic thing is that he was going out to Gran Canaria on Sunday for his autumn / winter break. Still we managed to catch up for drinks and dinner on Saturday night. Plus I was able to introduce him to Philip as they had never met. I did get very pissed that night and it was weird to say goodbye to Philip and walk with Jamie to the bus-stop to wait with him for his night bus when Philip reappeared having decided he wasn’t going to go clubbing and instead just to go home.

Gran Canaria The Dunes

Health

Eating sort of under control

Decided not to check my weight before I went. There are scales in my hotel room but they’re not working and that’s not a bad thing. I can tell that I am eating less on holiday which reinforces my belief that over-eating is largely related to ‘normal’ everyday life stress. Perhaps the weather as well – hot weather makes me want to eat less because it’s not about keeping warm. I am particularly happy to skip eating especially in the morning though I do like a nice evening meal and this is where I am possibly still over-eating.

Drinking is not

But I am drinking a lot and that can put on weight. It’s so easy to slip into the habit of sipping glasses of rose wine through the day. And then going out for cocktails in the night time. Yes I pace it with coffee, diet coke, and water but I like having a drink – it signals holiday to me. It’s like releasing the pressure valve. I did drink a lot on my first night and Friday but it has calmed down since then. But it is still way above ‘normal’.

Insects love me

I am dealing with the fact that flying Spanish insects seem to love me. Sure it must be to do with my fat pale juicy body and I keep forgetting to apply insect repellent. Indeed, the new routine made me forget to take my meds completely one night – doh! So I have some very annoying, itchy insect bites especially one of the back on my hand. I’ve also realised that flies seem to love my psoriasis when I am wearing my shorts. And I think it might be spreading which is a bit depressing.

“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.”

Serena Williams

The Week Ahead

  • Suppose the theme of ‘finishing off’ will continue in that I will be finishing off my holiday. Tuesday is the mid-point, after that I will be closer to the day of returning to London than the day of arrival on holiday.
  • I am going to carry on with my relaxed life. Yes I will check work emails but not get involved in anything. And I will carry on ploughing my way through the books I have brought with me. Often that will be whilst I am sipping a glass of wine.
  • Will I go outside Torremolinos? I don’t know. I have thought about going to Malaga particularly to get some art and culture. However, if the weather stays decent then I may just spend my time chilling around town. I like going to new places but there is also something very nice about immersing yourself in one place. It’s about ceasing to just tick things off the list and get to know your favourite places really well.
  • Jamie is in Gran Can till next Sunday but I’ve still got Phyllis. We will see each other everyday which is great. But I will also have my own time. I had thought about joining his gym temporarily but part of me just wants to relax.
  • Regular calls to mum and Dave to check they are both OK. Do miss them.
  • Attendance to daily physio exercises for my knee, and my daily personal development around languages and coding has slipped with being on holiday. But as I get into a holiday routine after the initial euphoria so I am incorporating them back into my daily existence.

And Finally…

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