From Heatwave to Normal Summer and Queues

Mon 18 – Sun 24 July 2022

In my previous blog (read it here) I talked about ‘The unreality of life during hot weather’. And many of the trends noted there were particularly accentuated on the two super hot days at the start of last week. Monday and Tuesday saw the hottest days ever recorded in the UK (with plenty of summer still to go) and it was bloody hard work. Effectively normality was put on hold and we did the minimum amount we could to get through.

Apart from this heatwave, last week was a fairly quiet summer week (though interesting that we view high 20s degree temperatures as normal and ‘quiet’ now). And a week where queues mattered. The big news about huge delays getting into France from Dover. Down to Brexit and the need to stamp every single bloody passport now. Then on a personal level, a 3 hour queue at hospital for me and Dave to get our Monkeypox vaccinations.

Meanwhile last week, the usual work and non-work days. Plus reading some particularly good books often out in the open at a coffee shop or in the local park. Also time with mum and Dave as well as a couple of catch-up with friends. But no great achievements around art and culture as well as stilted progress on language learning. But, overall, it was an OK week and we got through a couple of very tough days.

‘I am the owner of my actions, heir of my actions; I am born of my actions.’

Buddha

Sustainability / Health and Efficiency

Heatwave and keeping hydrated

As not totally unexpected during summer with climate change happening, the super hot weather on Monday and Tuesday came with various warnings including the need to take a bottle of water with you when travelling. I did this and realised it’s a great idea in general. By having a bottle of water permanently on you whether out and about, ‘in the office’, or at home then it definitely increases your water intake and that must be a good thing.

I definitely changed my behaviour on the super hot days. Indeed, I acted a lot like if I was on holiday (though knowing it’s due to a man-made disaster). I did venture to the gym on Monday but then spent the rest of the day doing nothing more than lying on the sofa wishing it was cooler.

Skipped the gym on Tuesday and focused on walking from Dave’s place to see mum in the early morning cool. Could have done the gym in itself but couldn’t face the tube in the summer super heat (apparently parts of the tube were mid-30s in temperature!). Did knacker me out and I had to have a couple of hours of snooze in the afternoon.

Extinction Rebellion fighting climate change

Gym

So only two gym trips due to the super summer heat last week. Mon and Thurs morning with basically me on my own there on both days. I love adjusting my exercise routine though with some constants around bench press and squats. Indeed, I try to focus on at least one exercise each session for all the main body parts: chest, legs, biceps, triceps, stomach, shoulders, upper back, lower back.

Running total: 46 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = just under £10.75 per session.

I am now a Monkeypox Free Zone

Queues are normal in summer; me and Dave did 3 hours at the hospital queueing to get the Monkeypox vaccine on Sunday morning. Wasn’t planned but Dave pointed out a tweet late on Saturday highlighting that there was a drop-in vaccination clinic at 9-5 on Sunday. The tweet had come from someone who had waited only 10 minutes – lucky him!

Tube delays meant I got to the hospital around 9.15 with the queue out of the hospital and round the block. We snaked through the hospital and I left with my jab around 12.15. Queue was good natured and you can’t go wrong with a bottle of water and a book. It was actually very heartening to see so many gay men doing the right thing and spending their time waiting to help tackle the latest gay men’s health crisis.

Militant homosexuality

My eyes are getting old

Also to the opticians last week for my eye test now due every two years. I can tell my sight is gradually deteriorating due to age. It’s inevitable and I know so many older friends who have had cataracts though thankfully they are easy to treat now (the bigger issue being the time waiting for the operation).

No great shakes, my distance sight is good but getting worse. But I do have to wear reading glasses and they need to increase in strength. So new glasses ordered (with Dave to advise me on which ones) and I collect them in about a week’s time. Absolutely vital for me to be able to keep on reading.

Books and Reading

‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’

I read a lot of books but every so often I read one and it just grabs me – this was one of those. Written by Anthony Doerr who also wrote the very good ‘All the Light We Cannot See’, it’s a long but big, broad, and totally engaging piece of speculative fiction. It would be true to say that I constantly read a bit of it whenever I could it was that of a draw to me.

It reminds me a lot of ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell – one of the books that got me back into reading big time several years ago. Doerr has a series of characters in the past, present, and future whose lives are connected in ways that are not totally obvious. But they are great characters that are developed in difficult situations.

There is also a great twist in that central to the story is a piece of ancient literature that is rediscovered. We know this writing really did exist but it has been lost never to be found as has so much classical writing. A great argument for treasuring stuff from the past and not throwing it away. All those lost writings by the great Greek playwrights like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. 🙁

Parthenon

My two new reading books

A quick trip to the library on Friday to return some books before they became overdue. I do love local libraries. A wonderful facility that we should all use more and fight to keep them – once they are gone, they really are gone forever.

‘Four Thousand Weeks. Time Management for Mortals’ by Oliver Burkeman

This is what I am reading on my kindle as I walk about. It’s another Business / Management / Personal Development book following on from Atomic Habits. I think the basic message is: you can’t do everything, be brave and choose what you are going to do, stop regretting what you gave up. More details once the book is fully read.

‘On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Road Trip’ by Paul Theroux

The ‘proper’ book I am reading. I actually found it on the street – someone had thrown it out. It’s the latest book by the renowned travel writer (and father of Louis Theroux which I didn’t know). The details of his travels in Mexico just before the pandemic. Lots around the migration / border issue which seems to irrationally obsess people in the USA plus the author’s fascination with the Santa Muerte cult. I would love to visit Mexico and it’s unusual for my two concurrent reading books to both be non-fiction.

Macaws in Las Palmas

Family and Friends

Dave and Patrick

My partner coped pretty well with the summer super heat going swimming on both Mon and Tues – amazingly the pool wasn’t that busy. He also went on Thursday, I am so pleased he has gone back to regular swimming. He also continues to regularly use the Boris bikes though it’s not nice hearing about the constant near miss accidents on the road.

Saturday morning, me and Dave met up with our old friend Patrick. It’s nice to meet him regularly and keep a check on how he is. He survived the heat – though I am so glad him and Dave decided not to go to on a summer trip to Portsmouth on Monday as planned. They can do that on a less frenetically hot day in summer.

Mum and the dentist

Spent a fair amount of time simply being with mum last week though it is also sometimes when I am having to work. She is doing OK though she should have been staying with her best friend for the week. Didn’t happen because of the super hot weather but also because her best friend had caught Covid and was still recovering. Hopefully she will still get down to stay a few days this summer.

What she did have to do was go to the dentist last week. I have always taken care of my teeth based on mum’s commitment to this. Indeed, I spent many years in braces and having teeth removed which ensured I have decent teeth now. Skipping on dental costs is a false saving. But mum doesn’t enjoy the dentist and she had a bit of a moan about it as well as the heat in general.

Friends not seen for a long time: Matt and Sarah

Great last week to catch-up with two people I hadn’t seen for years – one fortuitous and one planned.

First, bumped into Matt who I used to play football with when I lived in Brighton. He lives in Hove and was in London for work. We met just after I had left having bloods done at the GP’s – annual check on my PSA level to ensure my prostate problem isn’t cancerous (came back OK). So nice to have a totally unplanned and unexpected catch-up.

Then on Thursday afternoon, I had an arranged zoom with my friend Sarah who I used to know when I worked at Comic Relief and we were involved together in the Tech for Good movement. We reconnected on LinkedIn and had a great chat. Literally haven’t seen each other for at least 3 years and we have both moved on from the jobs we had then.

Summer is a great time to try to catch up with someone you haven’t seen for ages. You can use this as an excuse to have a lovely drink outside. Why not reach out to someone?

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

Phyllis

Had a phone catch-up with him now he is back in Torremolinos. We were actually due to speak at 2.30 on Tuesday but I fell asleep after my long walk and didn’t wake up till about 3.30. We eventually spoke later in the day once he had arrived at the beach. Summer life in Andalucia means trips to the beach in the late afternoon / early evening. A good chat particularly about the new health crisis for gay men – Monkeypox. We also agreed the dates in late Oct and early Nov that I would be visiting.

Art and Culture

Sunday morning, there was a rough plan for me and Dave to get our Monkeypox vaccinations done then pop to Tate Modern for the ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ exhibition. The 3 hour hospital wait put paid to that, we were knackered afterwards so just went for lunch.

Thus not a good week for art and culture. I am still watching and enjoying ‘Love Island’ – definitely one of the hits of the summer for me. Though you do have to be aware of how we as viewers are probably being manipulated. Massive coincidence that the boys have been allowed to bully Tasha and Ekin Su causing a social media outcry. Then apparently spontaneously and without external direction, they realised the error of their ways and made apologies. Hmmm.

Personal Development

I have a plan for this to be ‘a summer of learning’. However, I actually missed a couple of consecutive days on Duolingo last week. Primarily due to the super hot weather – those days threw normal patterns out of the window. But I still plod onwards with my Spanish and German.

One thing I did do was to attend a webinar on No Code on Tuesday evening. However, TBH, it was really a promo for a particular software and didn’t tell me much more than I already knew about No Code in general. I think what I need to do is simply set time aside and play with some of the main No Code software packages to realise what they can do.

“Hope will never be silent.”

Harvey Milk

The Week Ahead

  • Should be able to get to the gym 3 times. I’ve given up on getting a ‘summer body’ – plan to do that each year and realise I’ve left it too late LOL.
  • Keep on with my 2 new reading books – enjoying them both so much
  • Back to the dentist for a session with the hygienist. Should make my teeth a bit more cosmetically pleasing for a while
  • INR test, hopefully it’s OK and I don’t have to go back for the next one for a few weeks
  • Time with mum and Dave plus hopefully keep to a bit of Duolingo everyday. Will I get some Art and Culture? Not sure though Love Island is finishing next week.

And Finally…

Ukraine fights for the rest of Europe

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