Spring at last becomes Summer

Mon 22 – Sun 28 May 2023

I indicated in my previous blog (read it here) that Spring may have finally started. And the week just gone has confirmed that it really has. No rain at all and gradually warming up as the week progressed. I started in shorts on Tuesday and it’s my intention that I will stay in them for the next few months.

It’s that lovely weather where winter has clearly passed but we don’t have to yet deal with stiflingly hot weather yet. Beautiful bright mornings and sitting outside with a coffee plus a book are some of my utmost favourite things in life. Indeed, looks like our late Spring is shifting into Summer already with June at the end of next week.

Hare at Romeo and Romeo Berlin

I am still struggling with my dodgy throat and husky voice. I am going to have to go to the GP soon if it doesn’t clear up. A thought has crossed my mind, could it be hayfever? I do suffer from that and forget about it until the weather improves. But I don’t think I’ve ever had it like this. The usual case of how to deal with all medical problems – wait and see what happens.

“I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity.”

David Bowie

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run: 5K

In terms of my exercise hierarchy, I would put my time in the gym above my time doing jog-runs. I enjoy both but I suppose I enjoy the gym more and I do that type of exercise more frequently. However, this week I put details on my jog-run first because I had moved into doing a full 5K. Details on the results can be found here.

Jog-run was on Tuesday morning and primarily a few times around Green Park. Spring weather was dry and cool. This was the end of my ‘Couch to 5K’ course and so I could not to be uptight about changing from running to a time to running to a distance. But I was determined to learn from my mistakes and pace myself in terms of each km stretch not going too fast initially.

And the strategy worked; I was so pleased to get a 5K under 34 mins. All km stretches under 7 mins and slow at first but building up to a ‘fast’ final km (6 mins, 20 secs).

Jog-run

Gym: Only two sessions

Bit of a disaster on Wednesday morning when I went to the gym. Turned out it was closed all day for maintenance work. I checked in case the gym was open and I could use that without using the showers or sauna. But it was the whole building closed due to various things including the jacuzzi being refitted and work being done on the fire alarm system.

So just 2 gym sessions last week instead of the 3 planned. Monday and Friday were lovely workouts. I ended up using various different machines and trying out different exercises. An hour and a half on Monday but held myself to just over an hour on Friday.

52 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £9.50 per session.

Dumbells

Family and Friends

Dad: Doing OK

Me and Dave travelled up to the midlands on Thursday to see my dad and his wife. We hadn’t seen them since well before the pandemic. A crowded train there and return; had to tell the people to get out of our reserved seats on the way back.

We were met at the station and a short drive to the former railway station where they now live. It’s in the countryside only really disturbed by the birds and the surprisingly gentle sound of the trains coming past. And the countryside looked magnificent; it’s great with all the rain we’ve had how wonderfully green everything is this Spring.

Dad’s had some major health issues but he seems to be OK and is being well looked after. Thankfully his wife is in decent health and able to keep her eye on him. They’ve got a lovely dog and chickens – we were given some eggs to bring back to London. Had scrambled eggs in the evening, wonderfully yellow and tasty.

Dad’s happy and there is plenty to do to keep him busy, not least on the land around their home as well as simply dealing with medical stuff. He is clearly happy where he is. I suppose it’s another sign of how different we are. As I said to him, I like visiting the countryside but couldn’t live there. Crazy city life for me.

Mum: Dealing with chronic pain

Spent plenty of time with mum as usual last week. She is dealing with increased pain particularly related to arthritis. She saw the GP and has some new medication as well as an appointment to go back to check how she is doing. But it is all about relief rather than cure and there is so little I can do to relieve her pain. I try and encourage her to go out and enjoy the Spring weather but she doesn’t feel up to it. The main thing I feel I can do is simply to be there for her.

pain from back problems

Dave and a collapsed horse

Really nice to go for lunch with Dave on Monday at the Union Jack Club. There is something lovely about having a lazy midweek bar lunch. Really weird thing happened afterwards. I was walking back and across Horseguards. Just outside are the soldiers on horseback. One of the horses just collapsed and the soldier on it came off. Loads of police and soldiers running around ‘Horse Down!’. I left them to it, presumably it’s happened before but it is strange to see a horse just go down like a sack of potatoes.

Dinner with Daisy

Met up with another old mate Daisy on Wednesday night. Daisy is really David – his nickname comes from a time when there were just so many different Davids in my life though this is still true. We had a nice relaxed meal and caught up on life. He’s is considering whether it’s time to move from where he’s lived for most of his life. I think it could be a good thing though it’s a big jump and the issue is where to go?

It’s that thing about sometimes having too much choice in that we want to do something different but are worried about not making the ‘right’ decision. It’s very similar to where I am with my need to go back to work. The world is my oyster and at a certain point I just need to make a choice and go forward trusting that things will turn out well (they always do and, ultimately, we are dead). The risk is of spending all your time at the end of the diving board without every making the jump.

Books and Reading

‘The New Life’ by Tom Crewe

Finished reading this book only published in 2023, alternating between the hard copy and kindle. It’s been getting a good buzz and it’s a very pleasurable read. Set in the late Victorian period, it focuses on men and women living a Bohemian lifestyle and challenging norms around marriage and relationships. Inevitably many of the men involved are married but really gay.

The story is an interpretation of real life events. The main focus is the publishing of a book (‘Sexual Inversion’) with anonymous case studies about gay men and the lives they were living in 1897 – the first medical textbook on this subject. This was at a time when being gay was totally illegal. And also coinciding with the hysteria that followed Oscar Wilde’s trial and conviction.

Oscar Wilde

This is a fairly liberal retelling of events. In the book both authors of the book are alive whereas in real life one had already died well ahead of its publication. And in real life, the two authors never actually met face to face relying instead on correspondence. But there was a trial of a bookseller who was prosecuted for stocking the book. Some wonderful characterisation, I genuinely cared what was happening to people

However this novel is wonderfully evocative of the period. The heavy drapes of Victorian society with the new century approaching and people striving to move forward into the new century. We can under-estimate the liberalism of the late Victorian and Edwardian period (note the Liberal landslide of 1906 and gay leaders such as Walt Whitman and Edward Carpenter). But it was an uphill battle against the nineteenth century society of the old Queen and everything she stood for.

My latest reading books

I’ve got a couple of books on the go. In hard copy, it’s ‘Filthy Animals’ by Brandon Taylor. A collection of inter-connected short stories by this up and coming young black American gay writer. The stories are earthy though these (and his previous book I read) feel like personal memoirs more than fiction.

The other book is ‘The End of the World Running Club’ by Adrian J Walker. I am reading this in hard copy and on kindle so I can catch up with it as I am walking around in the Spring sunshine. It’s a book about Britain after an apocalypse. I am finding post-apocalyptic novels stuck in a bit of a rut. Escapism but all a bit samey. Indeed, the earthy ordinariness of ‘Filthy Animals’ is a refreshing diversion.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Sustainability

Spring makes me feel good but also worries me. It’s the chance to get into shorts and enjoy outdoor living. I always realise the love we all share of long evenings and chilling in green spaces. On a personal level, the good weather plays to my love of not being tied down and following the romance of a nomadic, outdoor lifestyle.

But I also worry about what comes next. Will Summer be bearable or will it be another scorcher? The latter is what is more and more likely with the ongoing climate change. I can start to see that despite the rain we have had, the earth is already beginning to look cracked and parched. The need to try to ensure we don’t have a climate crisis is what drives me to try to live a sustainable lifestyle.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but nobody thinks of changing themselves.”

Leo Tolstoy

Personal Development

Another good week in terms of getting on with my daily language learning. No days missed which makes me very happy. I feel like I am making progress in German and Spanish but I really need to practice it to check that this progress is real.

“Learning is experience. Everything else is just information.”

Albert Einstein

The Week Ahead

  • Spring is here and weather looks good ahead. So I will enjoy it despite my reservations about the climate crisis.
  • The final May Bank Holiday on Monday. Should be able to get to the gym as well as Wednesday and Friday.
  • Postponed my jog-run planned for the Sunday gone due to the disruption likely with Ride London. So 2 jog-runs planned for next week: Tuesday and Sunday mornings.
  • Spending time with mum. We have our (in)famous repair of the kitchen window opening mechanism on Thursday morning – will it happen…?
  • Should finish both of my current reading books
  • Need to arrange a catch-up with Phyllis once he gets back from the USA next week
  • Must try and get some Art and Culture experiences

And Finally…

Be a Zelensky

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