The holiday period: plan for the future and get over illness

Mon 23 – Sun 29 Dec 2019

The obvious tradition is to plan on New Year’s Eve or Day for the year ahead. But that’s too simplistic and those resolutions are rarely kept. For me, I prefer to use the wider Christmas-New Year holiday period to plan ahead.

The build up to Christmas is great with everybody so chilled. But then I find the holidays themselves a bit of a let down. As someone who loves the buzz of the city, being stuck indoors with nothing to do but watch TV or be with the family drives me slightly crazy. That’s when my brain starts whirring and I plan my cunning strategy for the months ahead.

Perhaps I will become a go-go dancer after all

Male body art

Last year was a bit momentous with my wonderful sabbatical, the loss of a stone in weight, and the gym reopening. Nobody significant in my life died – hooray! 🙂 Clearly there were bad things particularly the political situation. But then we are living through the long-term decline of the United Kingdom. 🙁 The key thing now is simply to observe but look after yourself and plan so that you can help those who matter as you are able. 🙂

Christmas Day

when only bed can help

Main event was my brother turning up very ill to take mum to his girlfriend’s place outside London. Coughing and retching everywhere, not a pretty sight. Poor sod ended up in hospital on Christmas night though discharged the next day – severe chest infection but they thought it might be to do with his heart. 🙁 So clear he shouldn’t have travelled and just stayed in bed. Turned out I caught his infection and so did mum. 🙁

happy child cosmonauts

I did two massive walks on Christmas Day. Olympia to Waterloo then all the way back again. Lots of tourists about – why would anyone want to come to London on Christmas Day, nothing happens? Had lunch out with Dave and his mum – my mother-in-law. Perfectly OK and what we do every year. Sort of thing to do without thinking about it. Home alone on Christmas night as mum was stranded at brother’s girlfriend’s and I watched completely OTT soaps.

Books and Reading

As per my plan for the holiday period, I have continued reading the published books of Ali Smith’s ‘seasons’ collection which I started last week by re-reading ‘Autumn’.

‘Winter’ by Ali Smith

silver pines against the night sky

The second installment of a collection that reflects bleakly on the UK after the Brexit referendum. Young people without hope and old fixated on the past. But beautifully written and the wonderful creation of engaging characters in what is a short book.

Not really a follow on from ‘Autumn’ but you can see how the collection is progressing with ‘Summer’ out in 2020. Times are bleak but with glimpses of light.

‘Spring’ by Ali Smith

Spring - trees in blossom

The bleakness of the life of migrants and refugees is a major thread through this collection and in this particular book. The harshness of Brits to such people is partly reflected by the fact this country has never been occupied or its people forced to flee en masse.

Though, of course, there are the British immigrants abroad who insist on being called expats. Be interesting if they are all forced to come back with No Deal on 31 Dec 2020. Could happen that English are migrants and refugees in the future, if that happens then let us hope the rest of the world can forgive us.

Health and Efficiency

Christmas illness and the power of sleep

One of the things we don’t plan for (but probably should as our bodies collapse after a year of hassle) is to be ill during the holiday period. As highlighted earlier, my brother was very ill and he infected me with his coughing – airborne infection 🙁 . I felt especially rough on Boxing Day with shivers and diarrhoea. Managed to briefly see my belle mere (French for mother-in-law) before she went back to Scunthorpe. But main thing was having a big afternoon sleep being up briefly then going back to bed for the night around 8pm.

Sleeping men

I am a great believer in the therapeutic power of sleep. When ill, just give yourself and your body over to oblivion. Thus early nights and afternoon snoozes though not Fri afternoon as I was at work 🙁 . By the weekend my illness had become more about a temperature and tender glands.

Gym

Inevitably my usual gym plan was screwed by the holiday period. Managed to make the gym 3 times: mornings of Mon, Fri and Sat. Tues morning would have been nice but had to go into work 🙁 . All good sessions though the ones on Fri and Sat were focused on non-heavy weights and gentle exercise to help with the recovery process from being ill.

Jog-run

teddy is ill

Put off from till Sun morning with the aim of being less ill. Worked in that I did my usual 10K but not a brilliant time and my glands hurt afterwards. 🙁 Time only very slightly slower than the week before. But the 4th consecutive week of a slower time. 🙁 An amazingly fast 1st km (5.30 mins!) was wasted with others coming in around 6.30 mins. All times here.

Work Life Balance

Pacing yourself to survive work

One of my big skills is the ability to pace myself at work. To avoid burn-out and feel crushed by it all which sadly is a common feeling we all have at some point. Indeed, I have done 10 years at my current employer which is a stretch of loyalty almost unheard of these days. I do it by pacing myself.

Enjoying the graveyard shift

Paperless office

For the holiday period, I was on the graveyard shift. Basically the senior person in the office just in case of an emergency. Unnecessary really as we are not a frontline service. Totally different when I worked in hospital management which needs to function 24/7 with emergencies all the time.

But happy to cooperate as I would rather work during this quiet time and take time off when it is busier. Obviously my colleagues with kids need the Christmas holiday period off to be with their family. Paced myself at work doing lots of tidying up both in the ‘real world’ and electronically especially deleting emails. 🙂

The plan for January

January and February are the worst time of the year for me. The Christmas-New Year holiday period is gone and Easter is a long way away. Theoretically the days are getting longer but everything still feels dark, grey and cold – possibly also wet or even snow and ice. People are down and ill. Ideally my plan would be to just fuck off to the sun for these 2 months but that is not realistic.

So working till the middle of the month then me and Dave are off to Gran Can. This holiday in the sun will last until the end of Jan. Back to work as normal in Feb but it is the shortest month, thank God. We are not guaranteed hot sun in Gran Can as it is their winter as well. But there should be some light and warmth although the days are actually quite short as well.

Art and Culture

Martin’s Close

Christmas is one of those times I feel most like going to a gallery or museum but they all seem to be closed for the holiday period. 🙁 Lots of reading but also some good TV. Two particular highlights were on Christmas Eve. Didn’t plan to stay up late but Mark Gatiss’ interpretation of an M.R. James ghost story was on, ‘Martin’s Close’ starring Peter Capaldi. I love a good ghost story and it was great.

Turn of the Screw

Horror story

This was followed by a BBC adaptation of the brilliant ‘Turn of the Screw’. This version was set in the 1920s and with stars from Downton as well as the brilliant Sue Johnston – who I still think of as Sheila Grant from ‘Brookside’. It had the sinister atmosphere of Henry James’ novella. Is there really a haunting or is it in the warped and sexually frustrated mind of the governess?

Soaps plus Gavin and Stacey

The soaps were great as ever at Christmas. Completely OTT with Coronation St having a gunman shooting people in the local version of Winter Wonderland. Eastenders was really grim with a betrayal, a murder, and a pregnant woman thrown out on the streets. And I did see ‘Gavin and Stacey’ which was wonderful TV. Understated humour and a brilliant ending. Amazing how some characters don’t seem to have aged at all in 10 years.

The Week (Year) Ahead:

  • Time to start putting my plans into action 🙂 It’s always great to have a chance to start again
  • Gonna shake off this bloody infection and be well 🙂
  • In work 4 half days. Continuing tidying up and start reaching out to people for meetings. I think I’ve spent too long being office-based.
  • Gym 4 or even 5 times next week. And the 10K jog-run at the weekend.
  • Will finish the Velvet Page book this week (Dancer from the Dance – a 1970s gay classic) and attend the book club on Thurs night
  • Gotta get back to language learning via the apps – really fell off over the holiday period 🙁

And Finally…

Happy New Year!

It's not Trump, it's Putin

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