Walking the Correct Route?

Happy National Walking Month May 2024 ! Regular readers will know that I love walking. It’s both good for my physical and mental health. But I think there is a wider dimension to this. We also walk through life. And I am wondering if I am walking down the right path(s) as many of us do.

In lots of ways we don’t have much choice where we walk. ‘Follow your dreams’ is a wonderful mantra but it is rarely a real option. We go through life accumulating commitments that we can’t just drop and do as we want. I am lucky, I’ve chosen to not have kids or even pets. But I do have a partner and currently also have the responsibility of looking after my mum.

So I’m on my journey whether I like it or not. But there are questions I am asking myself about this walk. Should I be worrying more about my career? I’ve put it on hold while I look after mum but will I be able to revive it again in the future? Am I doing enough to combat climate change? Overall, life is short and I wonder if I am making the most of it.

Reflecting and chilling in the quiet

Dave’s mum: Finishing our time up north

The week began with me and Dave up north seeing his mum for her birthday – you can read more about it in my previous blog here. Lots of pleasant eating out, seeing wider family, and shopping. Unfortunately it’s also one of those areas where you can’t exist without a car. Walking and public transport are only used if there is no other option. And the result is that cars dominate with many people overweight because of lack of exercise. This saddens me.

A decent journey back on the M1 – we decided not to bring back any custard tarts as they would only make us fatter. Although it looked horrendous going north with traffic at a standstill to the extent of people getting out to wander around. Dave was knackered after the driving but happy with the new curtains we bought up north for his redecorated bedroom.

My mum: Mission get her walking

Mum’s doing just about OK though she’s having a lot of pain and discomfort that I can do very little to remedy. We did go out to get her Covid vaccination on Thurs morning. The nearest place to get it done was somewhere mum could have walked to in the past. But now there was no hope of that and so we had to get Uber there and back.

I really want to get mum out walking as it is about the only exercise she can do. And I had some hope we could visit the local shops on Friday afternoon. But it was not to be. Mum didn’t feel well enough and it was raining (again).

However, I am not going to give up and I was rewarded with us walking together on Saturday morning there and back to the post office. Small progress but I am going to take any opportunity. Especially as we had a bad day on Sunday when she felt really ill and just wanted to sleep.

Old friends: Brian and Dom

Great to meet-up with two of my oldest mates. Not least as we’ve been on the walk through life together. Always good to keep contact with people you care about to check they are doing OK, to share your thoughts, and to give yourself ideas / inspiration.

Met Brian for a coffee on Friday after the gym. Then Dom on Sunday evening as he got off the train from Brighton. It was actually a very intense weekend so great just to have a drink and a chat with the latter. I admire both these friends. Brian for the passion he has in his work. Dom for his zeal to do things and travel to places.

outside a street cafe at night

Gym and no swim

The long trip back from the north cut into my week. To the point that I only managed to get to the gym twice. And no time for a swim not least as the day I could have gone, there weren’t really any slots available that suited me. But the gym was great as ever.

Part of my personal journey at the moment is about regularly getting to the gym. I know this won’t last forever. For many possible reasons but the most likeliest is that my body will give up. I have suffered various injuries and managed to work around those. But one day it just won’t be possible and perhaps all I will be able to do for exercise then is just walking.

42 gym sessions since the start of 2024 divided by the annual membership = £13 per session.

Weight: Better than expected

A slight increase but nothing too awful. Indeed, I had worried with all the eating when we saw Dave’s mum that I would have put on a serious amount. Still don’t feel 100% in control of my eating habits. I’m great in the morning, often not needing anything too major. But then as the day progresses, I get more and more hungry that often gets a bit out of control in the evening particularly with my craving for sugar and carbs.

Carbs

‘Swan Song’ by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott and the Velvet Page Book Club

A book that centres on Truman Capote’s falling out with his group of female friends (the Swans) in the mid-1970s after he revealed all their personal secrets in a magazine article. Though the book broadens out as it progresses not only to cover Capote’s disturbed childhood but also the mid-sixties peak of his fame and his later decline.

A good meeting of the Velvet Page on Thursday night and very different feelings about this book. At least two of the group loved it. Others, including myself, liked the book but had problems with it being centred on such a group that is so hard to like. No doubt that Capote was a cultural phenomenon but he was also a self-centred, egotistical addict. And his swans are a group of mega-rich women who spend most of their time lunching and having affairs.

It is fascinating how many books and movies there are about Capote. He is a figure that dominated the 1960s and was probably the only open gay man that most people saw on their TV. No doubt he played up his campness. But without Capote there would have been no Quentin Crisp, Leigh Bowery, Boy George, Julian Clary, or Alan Carr. You can read more about his life here.

‘Water’ by John Boyne

Boyne is an excellent contemporary Irish writer. He’s got a great back catalogue and this is his most recent novel. In many ways, it’s a novella because it is relatively short and an engagingly easy book to read. Although the subject matter is not easy.

A woman flees Dublin to live on a sparingly populated island off the west coast of Ireland. It’s a classic story of someone almost sleepwalking through life until everything is blown apart by an unexpected event. There’s lots of guilt and self-recrimination – we are left trying to work out if any of it is justified.

Very much a novel of modern Ireland. I visited Dublin in the 1980s. It was a grim place dominated by the old boys network and the Catholic church. Both abortion and being gay were illegal. Thankfully it has changed in so many ways. But there is a lot to look back on including horrendous treatment of young women and sexual abuse. It is interesting how authors like Boyne are leading the way in analysing the world that has gone and what has replaced it.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Am I doing enough?

I walk the path of trying to tackle global heating but am I doing enough? Reducing my consumption, eating little red meat, not having a car or kids but could I do more? The world is undergoing serious change due to humanity’s stupidity and greed.

Me and Dave bought new geraniums and have planted them out on my window ledge. It’s that thing about creating a little bit of nature wherever you can. But I do wonder if I will feel guilty in the future as things deteriorate and I think of what else I could have done. At least Sadiq Khan won the London mayoral election and ULEZ is safe. Hopefully there will be more action on cars; interesting that it wasn’t the vote loser the media was claiming.

Nature in bloom: beautiful tulips

My language journey

I continue to do my daily Duolingo and I love walking through Spanish and German, building the basic foundations that will help me better communicate in these languages. But it is just foundation. I know that you can’t learn to communicate in a language well until you engage with people who speak it on a regular basis. Not sure when I will next be in Germany but should be back in Spain during the autumn.

progress being made

QPR: The joy of a happy ending

The final games of the season in the Championship and QPR finish with a decent win 2-1 away against Coventry. Neither had anything to play for so pleasing that we won. We ended 18th in the table, very decent considering where we were with relegation a very real possibility.

All down to our new manager who basically got the same team he inherited playing with a bit of self-belief. I talked previously about my worries that he may be poached. But as one friend told me, getting a team from 23rd to 18th doesn’t necessarily mean people will be knocking down the door to get at him.

Be happy and grateful about nice things

  • Eurovision week ! Semis on Tues and Thurs with the final next Sat – the same day that the new series of Dr Who starts. Don’t think the UK will do well. Croatia is one of the favourites and it is good.
  • Aim is my usual three mornings at the gym (including Bank Holiday Monday). And I really want to get to the pool for a few lengths.
  • Plenty of time to be spent with mum. Hopefully the improving weather will encourage her to get out for little walks. Though if it’s raining she ain’t gonna go out.
  • Two books on the go. Main one is the fantasy novel ‘The Adventures of Amina of al-Sirafi’ by Shannon Chakraborty, I’m reading it as I walk around. But I’m also reading a novella by one of my favourite sci-fi writers, Robert Silverberg.

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