Power reading and zero emails

Mon 3 – Sun 9 June 2019

Books and Reading

Three good books completed last week – what the joy of reading is all about and a great achievement as I enter the second half of my sabbatical period; it’s all downhill from here. 🙁

‘White Houses’ by Amy Bloom

This was the reading book for the Velvet Page book club which took place on Thurs evening. I had every intention of going but this was also the day Dave and me drove down to the coast to collect mum from her friend’s and bring her back to London. A day with my partner and my mother is enough to tire anyone out. 🙂 So I gave up on the idea of attending the book club.

The book itself I had mixed feelings about. It is a good book about the lesbian relationship between President’s wife Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hicock. It seems to be written looking back at the relationship from 1945 just after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a way, it’s a series of connections between the two women and with some other regular characters.

The main theme is really the difficulties they faced. Eleanor is sewn into a political marriage and gay stuff full stop is frowned upon. Life is a constant struggle of snatched moments together and hiding everything away.

My main criticism is simply that the book doesn’t flow well with all the jumping backwards and forwards. I think a linear story of the relationship between Eleanor and Lorena could have been stronger. Perhaps not as trendy as this writing style though…

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‘The North Water’ by Ian McGuire

A book I read on my kindle and one that came with a lot of acclamation. And I thought it was well worth such praise. It is a brutal story of a nineteenth century whaling ship and its dodgy crew. There’s a gay under-theme though there is nothing loving about it. This is a story of murderous men literally on the edge.

It is very much in your face but a great read that carries you on in horror to find out how everything resolves itself. The ending is perhaps a bit weak but, overall, I would thoroughly recommend this as a gritty and gripping read. Also it’s not too long a book and the journey through it whizzes along.

‘Solar Bones’ by Mike McCormack

I really didn’t expect to get this book finished within the week as I only started it on Thursday. But I really got into it though I didn’t think I would. Indeed, I was partly attracted to it at the library simply by the number of recommendations on its cover. Quite simply it is the recollections of a middle aged man in modern west coast Ireland looking back on the highs and lows of his life.

There’s a lot of common threads to everyone’s life – relationships, life failures, work pressures, health issues, etc. And it’s wonderful how everything is pushed into a short space of time. It is only towards the end of the book that you realise you are reading the recollections of a dying man. And it’s a sad, rapid decline – basically a summary of his life passing before his eyes. I suspect his demise will be similar to my own.


As alluded to above, Thurs it was down to the south coast to collect mum from her friend’s place and then bring her back to London. Dave did the driving, I was the navigator. Managed to miss the correct turn-off as per the previous week which didn’t go down too well.

Mum had a lovely time and her friend was sad to see her go (or that’s what she said…) Decent journey back avoiding rush-hour. 🙂 Mum had gone a wee bit crazy on the shopping front seeing as we had the car to bring everything back. This included 5 new lampshades or lamb shanks as Dave thought I said which he thought was hilarious. That meant 5 lampshades that then had to be put up.

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run and weight

a form of exercise

Delighted I managed to get in two jog-runs again last week. Making this a regular weekly feature has been one of my key sabbatical aims. 6k on Wed morning primarily around Green Park. Bit of a case of ‘dodge the tourist’ (pouring in for Changing the Guard) but a decent time – under 31 mins for the 5K. 🙂 Then on Sunday morning, it was my 10K. If I knew the reason why some jog-runs go brilliantly and others go shit then I could sell it and make a fortune. This was a good one by miles, just over an hour and 3 mins with every kilometre stretch under 7 mins.

Pretty sure there is a symbiotic relationship between my jog-runs and my weight. The more I jog-run, the more it helps me lose weight. The more weight I lose, the easier the jog-runs become. 🙂 Weight is down again though it would be so easy just to slip into eating like a pig – fake hunger is always there. Details on jog-runs and weight are here.

Massage, gym and yoga

woman doing tree pose

Another week of exercise as I try to use my sabbatical to lose weight, improve my body shape, and generally make myself a bit more healthier. Overall, pretty good with varied exercise across the week and something everyday bar Thursday. Really pleased I got myself to the gym three times. 🙂

  • Mon AM: gym
  • Mon PM: paid-for massage at Terence Higgins Trust, the HIV and sexual health charity
  • Tues AM: gym (getting there on the bus was hard as traffic crap due to diversions for the Trump visit)
  • Wed AM: 5K jog-run
  • No exercise on Thurs as we collected mum
  • Fri AM: yoga session in East London (rubbish weather day – cloud and rain, quite cool 🙁 )
  • Sat AM: gym – afterwards great to go to Dave’s place and see our old friends Patrick and Stephen who came over to watch Trooping the Colour
  • Sun AM: 10K jog-run
range of dumbells


Fri morning down to the GP’s to check my blood clotting level. Warfarin is a very annoying drug that requires your INR level to be constantly monitored – below 2.0 and you are prone to clotting, above 3.0 and it’s the risk of internal bleeding. I constantly putting off having the check simply as it is a pain and I live with the risk of taking warfarin for the rest of my life.

Pic of my meds case

Bad news, reading was 1.9. 🙁 So slight adjustment in my warfarin intake and back again in 2 weeks’ time to check the INR reading is higher but not too high. There is definitely a thing about being an ‘expert patient’ as the software said to increase the dosage by an amount I thought would push my next reading over 3.0. I suggested something lower and consultation with the GP led her to confirming my suggestion.

Personal Development

Two big email occurrences: getting to zero…

Big news here was to do with emails – two good zero situations. For the first time ever I managed to get down to zero unread personal emails on Wed. I’m not pretending I will be able to keep it up but there was definitely a good feeling in achieving this at least once in my life. 🙂

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…and being locked out of my work account

The other big thing was that I was shut out of my work email account because I need to create a new password but this can’t be done remotely. So zero access to work emails – my little peeks at what is happening work-wise are over until I return proper in Aug. Thus for 2 months I will really be cut-off from the world of paid work.

The Week Ahead

10 weeks of my 18 week sabbatical are over and next week is the 11th, only 8 weeks left. 🙁 It’s been great though and it’s given me a new perspective on things. For next week:

  • Mum’s birthday so we’ve got a family get-together
  • My intention is to do 2 jog-runs (weather permitting). Also a THT massage and yoga session definitely booked in.
  • Probably just 2 gym sessions as I’ve got a delivery to wait for on one day. I am thinking about going to a new pilates session to try it out.
  • Should get through at least 2 reading books. Currently reading ‘Spaceman of Bohemia’ by Jaroslav Kalfar which is very good.
  • Will try to keep personal emails under control though I think getting to zero daily will be a stretch.
  • Must focus on language learning and coding practice as well as some art and culture

And Finally…

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