Where Is Your Happy Place? I Am In One Of Mine

Mon 23 – Sun 29 Oct 2023

TLDR

  • Identifying how ‘place’ is important to make us feel good but that is about more than just physicality
  • Details on my first few days back in Torremolinos
  • Updates on mum, Dave, and friends (particularly Philip)

Finding my happy place(s)

Place is both physical and mental

In the past, I taught under-grads at university about Marketing. The heart of this subject is the Marketing Mix / ‘The 4 Ps of Marketing’: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. For my students, the one that always got them confused was Place.

For them, place was just about physical location. And, of course, it is but it is also about so much else. Not just where the product / service is based or where it’s being advertised. But also how it is located in a range of products / services and against competitors. As well as where it sits (or is supposed to sit) in the consumer’s head as part of their decision making process.

Place matters

I think we similarly have a confusion around what place means in our everyday lives and how important it is. Certainly physicality is important and many addicts have to physically leave a place to escape their addiction. I like London where I live though it’s perhaps not the great place I remember it was (has the world changed or have I changed?). However, we all need breaks and I went away in the week just gone.

There are several places I really like such as Torremolinos, Gran Canaria, and Sitges and it is partly the physical nature of them with sunshine and a thriving gay scene. But it’s also the space they fill in my head. I feel happy there. Yes they are popular holiday destinations (and that is their purpose). Plus they have a seedy side.

But they are places that make me feel freer and more relaxed. Just the tonic I need after the difficulties I have been finding with the uncertainty that is surrounding us all generally – read about it here in my previous blog.

Chillin

Torremolinos

Torremolinos is a city situated on the Costa Del Sol with warm weather for most of the year as well as a fun gay scene. I stay at the same hotel with lots of other gay men though it’s amusing how so many of them float about thinking they are God’s gift.

I’m definitely in a nice space in my head when I am here. It’s that thing about knowing a place so you can relax without the tourist curse of continually looking for new great experiences. I miss mum and Dave but I am also my own man out here, doing whatever I want whenever I want.

Arrival

An early start of 4.30 am on Thursday to make sure I got to the airport in time. Neither airport nor plane were that busy though we did experience some interesting turbulence. I like turbulence in that all you can do is just put your faith in the aeroplane itself and the crew. Big issue at Malaga airport in checking our passports – huge snaking queues and it took about an hour to get through.

But then an easy train journey to Torremolinos and met up with my old mate Philip (Phyllis) in the the town square. I have learnt over the years not to go too mad on my first day so after hotel check in, I had a snooze and then we met up again in the evening.

Plane flying

Holiday routine

I soon settled into a nice regular routine:

  • Good sleeps (partly due to the drinking I expect) and switching off my alarm so I wake when I want to
  • Coffees in the morning before up to the top of the hotel to layout in the sun if the weather was good as it was at the weekend
  • Meeting Philip late afternoon then in the evening for a bite to eat before we hit the bars around the gay area of the Nogalera
  • Whether I stayed out late or not was a choice I made on the night depending on the mood I was in but generally getting nicely sozzled each night
Spanish flag

Health and Efficiency

My injury: Physio intervention

Finally, on Monday I had a meeting with a physio about my ongoing ankle / Achilles injury. We met at the same rehab gym I went to with my previous knee problem. A short but useful meeting. He examined my Achilles and confirmed the damaged right one was thicker than the left one.

We went through some exercises to do and he advised me to buy some heel lifts to alleviate discomfort. His overall advice was that I need to exercise the Achilles and it will ache but this is the way it will gradually heal. Appointment to catch-up on how things are going in a month’s time. And as the week progressed, it felt comfortable enough to leave off using the compression bandage so much.

Different gyms but no swim

Before I went away, didn’t have time to go for a swim but I managed to get to my normal London gym twice – Monday and Wednesday mornings. Good sessions avoiding leg exercises completely on Monday but undertaking some on Wednesday morning that the physio suggested would be OK to do.

Then on Friday, Philip got me into his gym in Torremolinos. Gyms are definitely happy places for me and it is good to use one where the equipment and people are different. Indeed, able to use some machines we haven’t got in my London gym and so work parts of my body that aren’t usually tested.

104 gym sessions since the start of 2023 divided by the annual membership = £4.75 per session.

range of dumbells

HIV: All good

Had my regular six month check-up with my HIV consultant on Wed. All good. It’s amazing how manageable HIV is as an illness now with the main issues being the development of other chronic infections which may be linked to having the virus. So I am facing issues around potentially becoming type 2 diabetic and there are the ongoing problems with high cholesterol and my prostate.

But it ain’t gonna be HIV that kills me. And as I am undetectable, there is no way I can infect anyone else. This puts my head in a very good place. Ain’t science wonderful!

virus & retrovirus

Family and Friends

Mum: The electricity went off on the day I left

Mum’s doing OK though she is very happy to stay in the flat and only really goes out if she has to. The flat is her happy place. And if she goes out then she likes someone with her. My break in Spain has been long planned and mum can cope for a short while on her own. There may be a time very soon where she just can’t be left alone at all.

But we did have a ‘bit of fun’ (irony) on the day I arrived in Torremolinos. I got a text to say mum’s flat had a power cut. So I tried to phone her but no answer as the phone runs via the internet which needs electricity. Eventually reached mum via her ’emergency mobile’ which was very low on power.

Yep, no power which also meant no water as that relies on an electric pump. I sorted for Dave to go over though not sure what he could actually do. But then the power was restored – turns out it was off for about 3 hours so thankfully the freezer hadn’t really started to defrost. Shit luck that this all happened whilst I was away but that’s life and, thankfully, it wasn’t too disastrous.

Though it was followed at the weekend by 2 ‘official letters’ that have both left mum annoyed…

Despair

Dave off to Brum

Me and Dave have no problems with having separate holidays as well as some together. The reality is that his good place isn’t necessarily mine and vice versa particularly when we like different things – he really doesn’t get just laying in the sun. So whilst I went off to Spain, he went to see his friends in Birmingham and have some nights out there.

Friends: Patrick and Philip

Friendships are an important part of the good places we make for ourselves. And I am blessed to have great friends. Me and Dave saw Patrick on Tuesday before we both went away. He is doing OK and keeping himself busy meeting up with other people as well.

And, of course, my holiday in Torremolinos wouldn’t be as good as it is without spending time with my friend Phyllis / Philip who is here at the same time as me. We’re not in each other’s pockets and creating space for one another. But it’s great to meet up for coffees and evening drinks particularly as his Spanish is so much better than mine.

Books and Reading

Holidays are a good place for me because it gives me the chance to do a load of reading. And one of the most fun things I do before I go away is to choose the books to be read whilst I am away. I’ve identified about six (both physical and on my kindle) to read whilst I am on the Costa Del Sol. Probably over-optimistic that I will get through them all before I come home but might as well die trying.

Rows and rows of beautiful books

‘The Offing’ by Benjamin Myers

I actually read this before I went away as it’s relatively short. I was also attracted to it because it had very good reviews and I really enjoyed his book ‘Cuddy’ which I read recently. TBH, ‘Cuddy’ is a better book for me. It has a really good place in my head as it is big, challenging, and quite innovative writing. ‘The Offing’ is more standard and I wish Myers would leave off the poetry in general as I can never seem to engage with it.

However, this is a very well written and engaging novel. Though perhaps the story is a bit formulaic. Focused in the north of England just after the end of WWII, it’s a coming of age / review of life story mixed with a romantic tragedy and placed in a setting where nature is all important. All of that should indeed demonstrate that it is a step above so many more standard novels.

Personal Development

Spanish focus

One thing I have learnt over the years is that just by being in a country, you can’t assume that you will only be speaking the native language as much as you want to practice it. Reality is that you probably can’t articulate in anything really other than English. And people often like to practice their English.

So I have been carrying on with Duolingo but concentrating only on Spanish in the run-up to my holiday and whilst away in my happy place of Torremolinos. And taking the chance to learn odd words and phrases as I am able in everyday life.

Art and Culture

Uncanny

Art and culture has a key place in my life. However, no big experiences before I went away and none really whilst I am in Spain. TBH, Torremolinos is a wonderfully hedonistic place rather than a cultural centre. But I have been catching up with episodes of the wonderful podcast ‘Uncanny’.

Especially fitting for Halloween next week. Though I love the way the commentators have to go out of their way to explain the real-life ghost stories without saying the obvious thing that they have been made up or misremembered and embellished.

Classic cyberman

QPR: Farewell Gareth Ainsworth for now

As I predicted, 2 disastrous defeats made the sacking of the manager inevitable. He is a bit of a QPR legend so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets another bite of the cherry in the future – never say never. My football team is not in a good place; the number of red cards indicates an internal cultural problem. Whoever comes next (the safe prediction is Neil Warnock) is going to have their work cut out.

The Week Ahead

  • Gonna try to carry on being in a good place both physically and mentally as my holiday in Torremolinos progresses though weather doesn’t look great
  • Hopefully some more days lying in the sun. And late nights out drinking. Bad weather may mean some days in bed.
  • Will be spending time with Philip though he is away for a large part of next weekend – Billy home alone he he he
  • I’m fighting my way through a heavy biography of the ‘best’ Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Very dense and philosophical so ideal for lying on a sun lounger. Being complemented by an alternative history / fantasy novel.
  • Be interesting to update on the weight situation next week after a full week here

And Finally…

If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit

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