Holidays – what is their purpose?

Mon 1 – Sun 7 Nov 2021

Unfortunately, holidays are not normal days. Indeed, that is the point of them. I think they are there to give us a total break from our daily routine. They provide escape and a view of what the alternative can be like. As such, they are a chance to have a think about life in a wider context. And sometimes to make a discovery that we can take forward when we return to normality.

Every day can be a fresh start

For me, this holiday has made me realise how small scale I see things. How I get bogged down in day to day mundanity. Looking at work emails but not answering them reinforced that – it’s often best to let things sort themselves out rather than get involved. Life is actually about having adventures and not getting caught in quagmires. And everyday we have that chance to do things differently. To learn from our mistakes and take a different course.

Now this doesn’t always means big, audacious changes necessarily. Rather that we can learn lessons and make small changes in our course. And such small changes on a daily basis will inevitably add up into big changes. This isn’t always about physical changes either. Sometimes it’s emotional adjustments or even alternations in how we think.

Change is constant…

This all builds on last week’s blog (read it here), where I made the discovery of books that I had recorded I had read but had no memory of them. This demonstrates the transience of things and that you just need to enjoy things when they happen. And I bundled it with the Heraclitus quotation that ‘There is nothing permanent except change.’

…and time is short

I have also been inspired by the biography of black revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture. He achieved much in his life which was partly down to the fact that he realised the time we have is short and action is everything. Time is fleeting and we need to accept things then act on them on a daily basis.

‘There is no time to lose’

Toussaint Louverture

Torremolinos

Important to dwell on the deeper philosophical things I take from my holidays. But also good to consider the little things that make them so enjoyable. I have had quite a lazy holiday. In that my main things were reading, drinking coffee and alcohol, eating, walking, and chatting. But life is there to be lived and it is not about just ticking things off the list.

Halloween and All Saints Day

I can’t emphasise how great it was to be around for Halloween weekend. Torremolinos was buzzing with just about everyone dressed up to go out and have fun. And the day after was a bank holiday – All Saints Day, the Christian answer to Halloween. Again busy around town especially in the evening. People taking advantage that even on the Costa Del Sol winter is just around the corner. Indeed, weather has generally been pleasant with sun and cloud but also with a fair bit of wind and the evenings getting cold.

The pure chill of last week

The rest of my holiday was far more chilled than the initial euphoria of the first few days. Funny how in my previous blog I stated it was important that I didn’t go crazy in the initial period like I often do. And I thought I had toned it down. But I realise now the first days were quite frenetic and drink orientated with late night’s out especially on the previous Friday night with my mate Jamie before he went to Gran Can.

Definitely something nice about being in a place on holiday whilst everyone else is getting on with their normal life. The kids have been at school and people at work whilst I have been walking (particularly along the beachfront at Carihuela), reading and drinking coffee or even alcohol during the middle of the day perhaps even to be followed by a naughty little afternoon snooze.

Wine

And great fun to eat our every night wherever I wanted (as I am on my own) particularly either Indian or pizza though I did got to a crazy German restaurant for schnitzel a couple of nights. The latter reminded me of being with Dave in Berlin. Then finishing off my evenings sitting outside for wine and whisky. Great to people watch including some sexy men to look at. But being a gay place there were also plenty of sights to see as well as pretentious twats who think they are the dog’s bollocks.

tom of finland

Family and Friends

Missing Dave and mum

So great to have time away and realise that I can have a different life if I want it. But I also missed my family and Dave. Kept in touch with mum who is fine and she had her Covid booster (‘there was a long queue’). And Dave has been fine including a carbon-contributing long weekend break in Berlin – hmmm. Though he is now getting to the busy time of year with the freelance work he does.

Philip

Good to spend time together but we also know each other well enough to give space. We often caught up but other times I did my own thing. Like eating most nights on my own as he is a vegetarian and likes more healthy food. And sometimes we met for a late night drink but other times he wasn’t in the mood. Particularly at the start of last week when he was suffering after the busy weekend. Visited his lovely flat and took advantage to get my washing done though.

Books

I promised in my previous blog that I would do lots of reading and that is indeed what I have been doing. Though bit of a shock to start reading one book and realise I had already read it but had not recorded it on my website. So skipped that. Also, had not planned it but all my reading has been very historically oriented. With several pieces of historical fiction and a brilliant biography.

‘The Bear Pit’ by S.G. MacLean

First book completed last week. It’s the fourth in the series of the ‘adventures’ of Damian Seeker. The fictional head bodyguard of Oliver Cromwell and all round secret service agent ensuring the safety of the Interregnum regime. All fictional but some great adventures particularly to tackle the machinations of various groups plotting the return of the monarchy. The sad thing being that ultimately we know that is what happened.

‘Treason’s Harbour’ by Patrick O’Brian

Literally, O’Brian is the godfather of historical fiction. Slowly I am making my way through each book in the Aubrey-Maturin series. He’s a bit old-fashioned these days with his focus on the early British empire and naval themes. But his attention to detail and understanding of the period is staggering. He also creates two wonderful characters in Captain Aubrery (ship’s captain) and Dr Stephen Maturin (ship’s doctor and secret agent) that are developed more in every book.

A wonderfully gung-ho novel initially set in Malta with tales of espionage and double-dealing. But also with swashbuckling military expeditions to the Red Sea and North Africa. Maturin has purchased a diving bell and this goes with him to help his intellectual explorations of new natural worlds.

You can read more about this incredibly talented (though personally flawed) author here.

‘Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint Louverture’ by Sudhir Hazareesingh

I have finally finished this long and scholarly biography of the great black revolutionary leader. I have been reading it on my kindle for a while and it took the holidays to be able to give it the focus it needed. Wonderfully referenced as any good historical factual book should be.

Louverture has been written about a lot and there are many perspectives on him. He really was the first leader of a successful revolt by black slaves. And he set the foundations for the creation of the modern state of Haiti. Its poverty and failure over the last two centuries can very much be laid at the racism and imperialism that dogged it after becoming one of the first post-colonial nations.

He was inspirational, driven, a brilliant strategist and statesman. But he could also be contradictory, demagogic, and dictatorial. He believed in a multi-racial Haiti and one with a role for black, white, and mixed race people. Plus he believed in the liberty principles of the French Revolution. But he participated and sometimes supported the slave economy as well as being a firm believer in retaining a connection to France – an independent state was not his first wish.

A fascinating figure and you can find out more about him here.

Toussaint Louverture from wikimedia

Health

I have no idea what has happened with my weight as I have no means to weigh myself. This is good news. Might not be so much when I get back to Blighty and find out I have piled on the pounds. But for now it feels quite liberating. Have definitely tried to eat less and have had lots of lovely walks particularly along the seafront at Carihuela which runs between Torremolinos and Benalmadena. The narrow shopping streets almost feel like you are in North Africa.

Mentioned in my previous blog about how insects loved to bit me and the result was that I developed an allergic type reaction on my hands. As per my psoriasis, moisturising it made it better. But I took the advice of my friend Phyllis and went to the pharmacy (‘Billy, this is the advantage of having a friend who is a hyperchondriac’). Got some cortisone cream and it got better instantly.

I love modern medicine

It has saved my life several times and, in terms of the meds, it keeps me alive on a daily basis. The meds I take to stop me getting blood clots, having a heart attack or stroke, and keeping the HIV under control. It makes me so angry when you get anti-vax half-wits who are literally putting people’s lives at stake by challenging the safety of life-saving vaccines or advocate some half-baked ‘natural’ remedy like homeopathy to treat syphillis.

pills

Sauna

There is a great gay sauna in Torremolinos – Apolo Sauna with entrance only 9 Euros. Took a walk along to it on Wed afternoon. It was surprisingly busy and some wore masks which seemed really weird in a sauna. This was the first time I had been in a sauna for nearly 18 months. It was great to get steaming hot, sit in the jacuzzi, and generally feel sparkling clean. Made me realise how much I have missed saunas and spas.

“Life is 10 percent what you make it, and 90 percent how you take it.”

Irving Berlin

Sustainability

One of the things I always do on holiday is to check out the local charity shops. They are not as prevalent in Spain (or Europe generally) as in the UK. And are often run by English ‘ex-pat’ (migrant) volunteers. I don’t go mad but do buy some stuff to support them and their cause.

Last week I bought a long sleeve top in a very chaotic church shop. And 5 books for 3 Euros in an environmental charity shop. This included the next two books in the Aubrey and Maturin series. The shop had a fantastic china parrot which Dave didn’t need but would love. But I couldn’t be sure I would be able to carry it back to the UK without it getting damaged.

Personal Development

My daily language learning went down. Strange how on holiday it seemed to be hard to find time to do this. But my Spanish must have benefited simply by my immersion in a Spanish speaking country. Basically no coding practice done. And I even found it hard on some days to find time to do the exercises for my dodgy knee. But then as I started out on this blog, holidays are about freedom.

The Week Ahead

  • Monday and my lovely holidays are all over. Plane back and £40 Covid test on Tues morning then INR in the afternoon. Latter may not be good after a week of such high alcohol intake. Though will be good to see Dave and mum again.
  • Back to work on Wed with an event about climate change to coincide with COP. Then a big face to face away day on Thurs with the delivery team at Citizens Advice. I am only being paid for 2 days next week (the other day is leave) so I really should not be doing any work on Friday – not sure it will work out like that as I have a couple of meetings to do.
  • Will carry on with my reading. Currently another piece of historical (medieval) fiction, a modern thriller about a gay policeman, and a collection of Dr Who short stories.
  • Do need to weight myself and get back to healthy eating, attempted weight loss, and controlled alcohol intake. I must sort out an exercise plan as well.
  • Actually looking forward to checking my indoor and outdoor plants are OK. Though not looking forward to English weather.
  • Got to return to good normality in terms of my daily language learning, dipping into coding practice, and making sure I do my physio exercises.

And Finally…

Torremolinos graffiti

Graffiti seen on my Torremolinos holidays

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