Good books, good exercise, good art and mum’s birthday

Mon 10 – Sun 16 June 2019

Books and Reading

Two very strong books read last week.

‘Spaceman of Bohemia’ by Jaroslav Kalfar

Another book I have been meaning to read for ages and finally got round to it. And I got round to giving myself a treat. A beautifully written and mysterious book. I suppose it is sci-fi but in many ways it is more surrealist. You really just have to get on board and enjoy the ride as it twists and turns in unexpected directions.


The story of a Czech man shot into space to investigate a new arrival in the solar system. This soon fades into the background as he meets extra-terrestrial life and other spacemen before he comes back to Earth in an unexpected manner. The book is actually more about a nation reconciling itself with its past and the personal life of the spaceman. Deep fun. 🙂

‘House of Names’ by Colm Toibin

Toibin is an Irish author I love. ‘Brooklyn’ by him is a beautiful book that everyone should read and, unusually, the film is just as good. House of Names is built on ancient Greek mythology but put into a human setting. It’s good but not his most brilliant book. Despite being short it manages to meander without ultimately ending in a great place.

Theatre of Dionysus at the Acropolis in Athens

However, it was lovely to remind myself of the great Greek dramas that this book is based on. It deals with a series of stunning plays by all three of the wonderful Greek tragedians – Aeschylus (old school), Sophocles (middle-age moderate), and Euripides (young gun). I studied ‘Ancient History’ for A-level, perhaps a waste of time but one of the best things I did was become aware of the brilliance of these Greek playwrights.

Health and Efficiency


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Hooray, achieved 2 jog-runs again last week despite it being a very iffy week in terms of weather. 🙂 Monday in particular was dreadful and all about rain. A grey day with a permanent downpour. Totally depressing though I comforted myself that it was good for the plants.

Wed morning came and with the weather decidedly better though with the ongoing threat of showers. I did a 6K run. 5K time was very good at a bit under 31 mins. It felt very smooth and easy which was pleasing. The only problem with these mid-week jog-runs is avoiding the tourists as I run round Green Park. 🙁


Sat morning I did my usual weekly 10K. Felt very good for the first 6 kms with my average kilometre being about 6 mins. But then things slowed and, in particular, the penultimate km stretch (my bete noir) came in at an appalling 7 and a half minutes. Overall, a decent time – under an hour and 4 mins. That really feels like my new ‘normal’ now. I wonder if I can ever get it below an hour? 🙄

Details on jog-run times (and weight) can be found here.


Went for a paid for massage at THT on Mon afternoon. Turned out to be one of the best ones I have ever had. I felt great afterwards. 🙂

man being pummelled

I explained my problem areas (lower back, knees, ankles) and the masseur worked on those plus my glutes (buttocks). The latter felt fantastic. I think these are often avoided as it might be seen as seedy but they are big muscles and affect a lot of the body including legs and lower back.


range of dumbells

Gym session on Mon and Sun mornings. Really great to spend an hour+ working on body parts that I felt needed working on. Indeed, both days did a lot of focus on my legs. Actually found out about a really useful new leg exercise from observing another guy in the gym with me.


Tues morning I tried out a new pilates class and it was well worth it. Freestyle on the mat rather than using the frame. I felt a bit out of it initially as it clearly draws a large and loyal following – strange as it is mid-morning weekday. But it was excellent due to a very good teacher. A nice range of exercises and my muscles felt well stretched; sometimes I even managed to do the proper breathing alongside the exercises. I will definitely be back. 🙂

Yoga, two days off, and a new mattress

I was supposed to have a yoga session on Thurs morning. Unfortunately my tutor had been up all night with food poisoning so we had to cancel. This did free me up to go to my GP to get a renewal on all my non-HIV meds as well as my present for mum’s birthday.

No exercise on Thurs and none on Fri as I had to stay in for a new mattress to be delivered (had the old one for about 12 years – it sags in the middle, something Dave moans about whenever he stays over). Though a long, purposeful walk once the delivery was done. The new mattress is very firm, perhaps too so – ‘unforgiving’ as my brother succinctly put it. I had a bad first night on it but I think that was more to do with my own food poisoning – see below. 🙁


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The good news continues on weight loss coming in Sat morning at 13 stone, 9 and a half pounds. I think I have been helped by a slight upset stomach / food poisoning that lasted for a few days starting on Wed and going into the weekend. Didn’t stop my exercise routine but did make me feel queasy at times and certainly suppressed my appetite.

Though still a way to go with my weight. I bought a pair of shorts in the charity shop on Sat that I thought would fit me. When I tried them on at home, there was no chance. Interesting how we can mis-see ourselves in our mind’s eye. 🙁

Art and Culture

So finally carried out the intention of incorporating more art and culture into my life.

‘The Blue Angel’

Tues afternoon and I decided to do something very different after my pilates session. Carried on from Vauxhall to the BFI at the South Bank. They have a season of Weimar films and so I watched the 2.30 showing of the Marlene Dietrich classic ‘Der Blaue Engel’ made in 1930. If the point of cinema is to take you away from everyday life then this film succeeded brilliantly. Black and white set in the poverty of inter-war Germany. But also a story of romantic obsession and betrayal – we’ve all been there.

Van Gogh at Tate Britain

Hard to believe that the last Van Gogh exhibition in the UK took place in 1947. This one is about the time he spent in London before he moved back to France and started producing art. It was very busy with people but it is one of those exhibitions I feel I could go back to again.

About half the art is produced by Van Gogh. The remainder is the stuff he saw in London by other people that influenced him as well as those who he influenced after his death. The exhibition certainly made me more aware of the genius of Van Gogh and particularly his ability to show both nature and the bleakness of modern life. There is also the under-pinning tragedy of his severe mental health problems and ultimate suicide; a lost artistic genius.

Personal Development

Big successes here in keeping my personal email inbox under control though not hitting a daily zero amount unread and dealt with as previously. As well as doing some Duolingo nearly every day focusing particularly on French, Spanish and German. Unfortunately coding practice is not going well. 🙁

Mum’s Birthday

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Weekend was largely taken up with celebrating my mum’s birthday – it was a big one. Dave collected his mum and brought her to London for our big family meal on Sunday – she is staying over till Tuesday. A nice meal and my mum loved it with all her close family around her. Lots of cake and chocolate which isn’t going to do mum’s weight any good.

The Week Ahead

  • Me and Dave are off for a weekend away to Liverpool. I particularly want to see the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool and the brilliant Walker Gallery. Dave is going to pay homage to Cilla Black.
  • Plan is for gym on Mon, pilates on Tues, yoga on Wed, and a 5K jog-run on Thurs
  • Reading ‘Good Omens’ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett partly to see what the fuss is all about based on the TV series
  • Keep on with success in emails and language learning whilst try to do better at coding practice
  • My brother is planning to put new shelving units up for me which will mean I can better present all my lovely books 🙂
  • INR to be re-checked on Thurs morning, hopefully we are back into a good zone where I am not clotting or internally bleeding 🙂

And Finally…

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