Normality but a new normality

Mon 7 – Sun 13 Nov 2022

The week when my holiday ended and normality returned. Meanwhile, the build up to the Qatar World Cup starts. Just shows morally bankrupt FIFA is – they would have no compunction about putting it in Iran or North Korea. And why oh why is David Beckham being an ambassador, does he really need the money? But good news from the American mid-term elections and the liberation of Kherson from the Russian barbarians.

But post-holiday I am determined that some changes are going to come in my life. In particular, I am back at work but I will be finishing my current role at the end of the year and moving my life into a new phase of ‘semi-retirement’. Also, I have learnt to eat less on holiday and I want to take that back into my everyday life in London so that I can lose weight.

Health and Efficiency

Reduced food + drink = weight loss

The big news is that I managed to lose weight whilst on holiday! I have got my weight under 14 stone – you can see the details here – I weighed in last week at 13 stone 13.5 pounds.

How did I achieve this? Primarily because the heat and lack of stress on holiday meant I just didn’t want to eat – I wrote about it in my previous blog here. This is a new normality I want in my London life. I am eating a bit more now I’m back home with darkness, cold, and normal life hassle. But I am determined to not eat as much as I did before going on holiday. It’s about learning to be hungry again.

And I am definitely drinking less alcohol. Still drinking in London – that is my normality and I enjoy it. But not to the extent each day as when I was in Torremolinos.

Key thing on weight loss, as with many things, is to take it step by step.

“Direction is more important than speed”

animation of a fat man running

Gym but carrying an injury?

Went with Philip to his Spanish gym on Monday. Then back to the normality of my London gym on Wednesday. Had planned to also go on Thursday but I felt knackered. Plus I am also carrying some sort of stomach injury. I’m hoping it’s just a pulled or torn muscle; fingers crossed it’s not a hernia. Time will tell if the discomfort disappears through rest and not pushing myself too much. So 2 gym sessions overall.

Back to calculating the value of my annual gym membership: 76 gym sessions since the start of the year divided by the annual membership = £6.50 per session.

Books and Reading

‘Floating Worlds’ by Cecelia Holland

The second big sci-fi classic novel that I could read because I was on holiday. Over 600 pages long and written in 1976. It’s a bit dated but has held up well generally. Many of the assumptions of future life are wonderfully dated such as recordings made on reels of tape and headphones with wires. Plus there are some ubiquitous futurist assumptions such as flying cars and domed cities.

However, it is very reflective of the 70s on two particular counts. Firstly, it dwells enormously on the racial divide in America. Indeed, the centrepiece of this novel is what is basically a mixed race marriage.

Secondly, it is a feminist novel with a heroine at the centre of the novel. Paula Mendoza continues through periods of great adversity often based on bad treatment by the male of the species. But she comes through partly by being a canny political operator.

It’s also fascinating the way the ‘savage’ Styph are influenced by the Klingons in Star Trek. But the way they are more savage in this book than they were on TV heralds the way they were developed as a species in Star Trek – The Next Generation. You do wonder if this book influenced those later TV writers?

Overall, a sci-fi classic even if it’s of its time. It’s a long, epic read perhaps a bit too long. But a great adventure and it races along with its reliance on verbs over adjectives.


Work Life Balance

Goodbye Spain

Monday was the last day of my holiday. And it was as well spent as my whole time away – read about it here. I did the gym in the morning with Philip then spent the afternoon on the hotel roof terrace soaking up the sun. Before my ‘last supper’ as Philip put it and goodbye night drinks. I will definitely miss the outdoor life in the evening whilst the weather is good.

Tuesday was spent pottering and packing. Final days of holidays are weird and far from normality. You are in-between being on holiday and being back to your everyday existence. Lots of coffee and a cheeky glass of wine just before I headed to the airport. Decent flight and tube journey back into London. Perhaps most memorable thing was a woman screaming at the cabin crew that her son had to go to the toilet despite the seat belt sign being on otherwise he would ‘pooh his pants’ – classy.

Plane flying

Normality returns

Back to normality with a return to work on Friday. Strange to think I’ve only got about 6 weeks left – 10 & a half working days. Indeed, I have very much moved into handover mode, starting to do things like deleting files and emails. I will need to hand my laptop back so I need to remove all personal stuff.

Actually it was a nice re-introduction as you should have after time-off. A couple of zoom meetings including recording a mock interview that can be used for internal training purposes. My direct colleague was away so I couldn’t have a proper catch-up. But I spent much of my time dealing with emails. I had been checking them on holiday to keep on top of things. But I needed time to go through them properly and file / delete simply to get to identify priority actions.

Feeling swamped


“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.”

António Guterres, UN Secretary General

COP27 progresses and the last thing we need is normality. The UK is cooler, wetter and darker than Spain. But the temperatures are far above the average for this time of the year. Clearly climate change is having an impact as it was with me being able to sunbathe in Spain in November. At least this weather should keep a dampener on our gas and electricity usage (I haven’t put the heating on yet) so lessening the chances of blackouts as the winter progresses.

It may not be much but we can all take action to try and reduce our consumption. I continue to walk as much as possible – it’s an important part of my weight reduction regime as well. Also, eating less is good for the planet particularly if we all eat less meat.

Close up of nature

Family and Friends

There is something nice about getting back home to catch up with your nearest and dearest. Spoke to my partner Dave everyday on holiday two or three times. But it was still good to return to normality and see him when I got back. He’s fine but very tied up in his work.

Mum was also so pleased to see me and it was good to see her. No real news whilst I’ve been away including no update on the window repair. I phoned the Housing Association again and chased our Housing Officer but nothing is happening – what else can you do?

Cool also to see mine and Dave’s friend Patrick on Saturday. He’s doing fine and putting me to shame with all his preparations for Christmas. Strange how the shops and TV in the UK are already going overboard on Christmas in a way that didn’t seem to be happening in Spain.

Two blue hands shaking

Personal Development

A nice bit of my normality is my daily language learning. I am still managing to do my Duolingo sessions, keeping alive the dream that one day I will be fluent in Spanish. My big hope is that I can put lots more effort into this when I hit my semi-retirement (or pre-retirement?) in January.

Art and Culture

‘Sunset Boulevard’

Off on Sunday night with Dave to a special screening of this brilliant Hollywood classic at the wonderful Garden Cinema in Covent Garden. It was a members’ event to mark the start of their ‘Hollywood on Hollywood’ season. Not necessarily my usual type of movie but it’s always good to try new things and tickets were an absolute bargain at only £5 each. You can read about the film on Wikipedia here.

It is a great movie. Made at the start of the 50s, this B&W classic charts the attempt by a forgotten star of silent cinema (Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond) to make a comeback. William Holden is the writer who accidentally falls in with her plans and he is really hot. Basically it’s the story of how fortune fades and you can’t live on past glories.

Fits very well with my own belief that we have nothing worth thinking and worrying about other than the future.

The Week Ahead

  • I said goodbye to Philip in Spain last Tuesday but he arrived on Thursday in London for a visit. We are having lunch on Tuesday
  • Back to my normal 2 working days and 3 non-work days. Hopefully, I will get to the gym 3 times next week but not pushing it due to my stomach injury.
  • Got to try to keep to my new restricted eating and drinking regime so carrying on with my slow decline in weight
  • Should finish ‘The Lonely Hour’ by Christopher Fowler. And looking forward to starting some new books, always exciting
  • Will continue to try to live as sustainably as possible. If I’ve got time I’m going to take some books to the Exchange. And I will carry on with my daily Duolingo Spanish language lessons.
  • Got to have my pneumonia vaccination on Wed – a recommendation of my HIV consutant
  • Really hope ‘Sunset Boulevard’ is the kickstart to me getting more engaged with art and culture in my life

And Finally…

Death anxiety and climate change

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