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Life

A Week Without Words

I’m struggling to remember the last time this blog saw my absence for as many consecutive days. I would love to say “I’ve been busy having all manner of adventures in order to regale you with them”, but that wouldn’t be true at all. For the last week I’ve been existing. Getting up. Working. Making meals. Washing clothes. Doing chores. It’s difficult to make daily life sound exciting when so many have been enduring a similar existence for the last year and a half.

I haven’t been running since last Monday – a mystery pain appeared in my right knee just before the morning run – I probably shouldn’t have run on it, but I did. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I’ve been paying for it ever since. I’m hoping I’ll be ok to run again next week – just taking it slowly. It’s frustrating, after just getting back into the “Couch to 5K” programme.

I’m wondering about getting out on the bike to strengthen my knees. For the last twenty years I have cycled to work – but since the pandemic hit, the office closed, I’ve worked from home, and I have got on the bike only a handful of times. I have no idea how much muscle mass I’ve lost.

In other news, I’ve joined a damn fool weight loss challenge with my middle daughter. Granted, I’m a little overweight – let’s call it “padding” – but not a lot. She has more to lose so will (hopefully) lose more than me, allowing her to crow endlessly about it – which will of course be a good thing. I’ve set her the goal of losing a number of pounds, and getting fit before the end of the summer. I’ve also said I’ll do exercises with her in the week (bang goes my lunchtime noodling around on the internet). I imagine we’ll be dancing around in the garden doing jumping jacks or whatever the hell else she wants to attempt to kill me with.

Before you jump down my throat about encouraging my daughter to lose weight or get fit, and cancel me for being a toxic lunatic – there is a motive. She is in the middle of a two year college course, and on a path to a career in the uniformed services (police, etc). She has knocked it out of the park during the first year – earning distinctions through the academic part of the course. Next year the focus will change to the physical – so turning up in great shape will give her a HUGE head start. It will also of course help her with playing and refereeing rugby matches (yes, she does both).

In other news, I’ve been painting a shed. Or rather, a Wendy House. I’m not sure if “Wendy House” is an international term. In the UK, if you have a play house in your garden (a small shed), it is called a “Wendy House”, after the house made by the lost boys for Wendy to live in, in the book of Peter Pan by J M Barrie. We have a Wendy House that was given to us when the children were young – that became a “Pirate Hideout” for several years, before eventually becoming a garden store. Anyway. I started painting it today. Grey. A flat colour to make it fall into the background of the garden.

We’ve also been digging a pond in the garden. Before children we had a wildlife pond at the end of the garden with numerous fish, frogs, dragonflies, and whatever else living in it – it had to go when the children were small for obvious reasons. They’re grown up now – and digging a massive hold in the garden doesn’t cost very much – so it’s back. At the moment the only things in it are some worms that fell in, and a few pond skaters that have discovered it. Over the coming weeks – as we can afford it, or as people donate plants to us – we are planting the area around the pond. Once it’s established we’ll fill it with fish, and then setup the machine gun posts to shoot Herons on-sight.

Anyway.

It’s getting late. I’m going to go eat cereals, and watch rubbish television for a bit. My other half is curled up on sofa – she had her second Covid shot yesterday – the side effects have arrived today. Not as bad as the first time, but still making her feel a bit rubbish.

P.s. I’m furloughed Monday through Wednesday for the next few weeks. Expect blog posts.

Categories
Life

Visitors, French Cafe Playlists, and a Week of Running Ahead

The sun is setting on a busy day. I’m sitting in the junk room, trying to gather my thoughts while sipping a cup of black coffee, and listening to a “Paris Café” playlist on Spotify. I’ve just pulled on a zipped hoodie – combating the after-effects of having caught the sun earlier in the day.

My in-laws visited today. My brother-in-law brought power-tools to help construct a raffia fence along the edge of the garden. My mother-in-law accompanied him to oversee operations, and to watch the tennis at Roland Garros with me (or at least, when I wasn’t cutting the grass, washing up, or washing up some more). We bonded over running injuries today – I showed her the lump on my achilles tendon, and she showed me her ankle – which apparently hurt, but looked fine. Thankfully my rugby playing daughters were not present, or it might have turned into a pop-up meeting of hypochondriacs anonymous.

While writing this, a Frenchman is expertly playing an accordian in quite the most wistful manner you might ever imagine. He has given way to a crooner singing about some disaster of the heart or other – I can’t understand a word of it, so can only imagine the subject of his anguish. Perhaps his girlfriend didn’t share her peanut M&Ms with him? (I would have been distraught too)

Anyway.

I have the week off work. The possibilities of how to spend the coming days are many, but I fear procrastination may defeat almost all of them. It’s not that I’ll waste my time off – I’ll find all manner of interesting things to do – I just won’t get around to many of the things I should perhaps have been doing. It’s interesting how the most mundane rabbit holes become increasingly interesting when faced with doing anything productive instead.

The one thing I will do during the week is run.

As mentioned a few days ago, I’ve re-started the “Couch to 5K” programme – partly to support a good friend, and partly to avoid my backside establishing it’s own gravitational force. I’m hoping that “Park Run” will be back up and running in the autumn – it will give me something to aim for – and something to do each weekend. If you’ve not heard of it, it’s a pretty common international movement where parks organise 5K runs for all abilities – usually on a Saturday morning. You register on the park run website, get a barcode, and off you go. You can of course buy all manner of “official” merchandise – such as wristbands or waterbottles – or just print out the barcode and tuck it in your sock. Lots of people do.

I guess the attraction of doing an organised run is both to run in a group – where you get swept along by the crowd – and to have medical people on-site, should anything unfortunate happen – you know, like the town finding out you have no running talent. I’m pretty sure the town know I have no running talent, having seen me trudging the streets over the last few years – that’s not the point of running though.

There’s probably really good research on the huge release of endorphins after running. It’s hard to explain – you often feel like absolute garbage during a longer run – especially if pushing out to a longer distance – but afterwards a huge wave of euphoria sweeps through you. Body chemistry is an amazing thing.

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Life

All Quiet on the Western Front

It’s been a remarkably quiet week in the Beckett household. I suppose the one stand-out achievement of the week has been gaining sight of the bottom of the clothes basket. It took two determined days of running the washing machine non-stop, but at least now I know there is an end to the clothes washing nightmare. I also know that the end does not last.

I’ve had the week off work. While not washing dishes, clothes, or putting things away behind people, I’ve been doing an awful lot of nothing at all. It turns out that while you’re locked down, there’s not much you can do to amuse yourself.

In the middle of the week my youngest daughter roped me into recording a workout with her for a school project. Five minutes of madness taking part in all manner of activities that could be completed in our living room. I learned a number of gravity assisted exercises, and wanted to die a few minutes later. Who knew that working from home for a year would make me quite so unfit?

I’m supposed to go for a run in the morning, but it’s below freezing tonight, and it’s due to snow tomorrow. I imagine the footpaths will be turned into ice rinks. I just checked the weather forecast – the snow isn’t due until 8am, so maybe we’ll be able to run before it arrives.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go and raid the cupboards for something to eat. I’ll probably end up eating cereal for supper – it’s my “go to” late night snack.

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Life

Another 5K around town

Following my youngest daughter signing up for the “Couch to 5K” programme through school, she has to complete the training runs each week, and her sisters promised to help her with it. We’re at week three, and I’ve already run with her twice after they no-showed on her.

Tonight we ran around town in the dark after I finished work – completing the week three run according to the programme, and then effectively doubling it. She was tired at the end, but then she’s starting from a position far ahead of her sisters. It says something that she was up and ready to run before breakfast this morning, and all she could get from her sisters was grunts from their bedroom doors.

Tomorrow she has to organise and run a workout session – and film it. Apparently I may end up as a ginea pig for that too – given that I have a few days off work. If our wonderful next door neighbour looks over the fence tomorrow, she’ll see me throwing kettle bells around, skipping, and collapsing in a heap somewhere.

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Life

Running on Sunday Morning

I went for a run around town with my youngest daughter this morning. She was supposed to be running with her sisters, but neither of them got out of bed. At 8am she appeared in the bedroom doorway, asking if I might go with her instead. My other half smiled at me.

She’s starting a “Couch to 5k” course with her school, and has been doing the official training programme with her sisters. Here’s the thing though – she’s far fitter than them. I proved it this morning – rather than do any of the interval training she has been doing, we just went out on a long slow jog – to see what she was really capable of.

She did three and a half kilometres. A few more weeks of the interval training, and I think she’ll get to five kilometres easily. As we passed a footpath that leads back towards home, I handed her my front door key and carried on to extend my distance a little – running for another three kilometres or so.

I love running early on a morning, before the rest of the world has emerged. This morning the streets were almost deserted, save for one or two people walking dogs, or out running themselves. I always say hello when passing fellow runners – they usually respond with a smile – occasionally they take no notice, and carry on frowning their way down the road. Grumpy buggers.

After getting home and having a shower I set about helping my daughter eat the remaining crumpets from the fridge – I bought them earlier in the week, during my first visit to the supermarket in about a month. I imagine I’ll be returning to town in a bit to get some more groceries. I’m not entirely sure I want to brave the cold again.

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Life

The Santa “Fun” Run

After sliding out of bed a little after 7am this morning, I wandered downstairs and dressed myself as Santa. Father Christmas. Saint Nicholas. Only a very low budget version – with a wonderful red suit that might rip in half if you bend over too quickly.

Ten minutes later two very sleepy daughters joined me in the kitchen and began dressing as mini-Santas to accompany me on a mad-cap escapade around town. Normally at this time of year you might find several thousand Santas running an organised route to raise money for charity – this morning it was just us.

I took a bit of a risk in wearing nothing but underwear and a t-shirt under the Santa suit. After the ass-ripping antics of last year, my other half questioned the choice. I grinned and shrugged. I didn’t figure on continual rain turning the already thin material into tissue paper en-route.

Along the way we received cheers from construction workers, beeps from delivery vans, and waves from people on foot. It was almost enough to keep my middle daughter running. Let’s just say she’s never going to find running easy – partly because of her build, but mostly because she gives up so easily. I’ve never known anybody with so little will power.

My youngest daughter ran the entire route at a canter – often doubling back with me and encouraging her sister. She also ran a final lap around the green where we live with me – making sure we covered 5K. Neighbours waved from windows as we passed.

So – it is done – the Santa Fun Run is completed for another year.

Good riddance.

Now where are the three ghosts that were foretold?

Categories
Life

Running and Writing

I’m supposed to get up at 8am tomorrow morning and run around town in a Santa suit, accompanied by my younger daughters. I’m not quite sure how they’re going to do it given that they have not taken part in any activities you might describe as helping their fitness for weeks.

I’m starting to wonder if this is what growing up is all about – getting up and doing things you don’t really want to do, because somebody asked you to. It’s a bloody stupid idea really – running around dressed as Santa. I imagine it will give a few people a laugh around town.

If I wasn’t running (read:walking) with my daughters I imagine I would be home within half an hour – I can’t see us getting home inside an hour.

I was going to have a night off from writing tonight, but then something clicked in my head, and I spent the last two hours churning out another post for the other blog. It’s been cross posted to Medium, where I’m slowly but surely making money now. Let’s hope I don’t run out of things to write about any time soon.

It turns out it’s quite difficult to write after two glasses of wine. I’m wondering how Hemingway did it – I’m beginning to suspect the stories of drunken excess are lies.

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Life

I ran this morning

I ran this morning. After suggesting to Miss 16 that I could accompany her, I got up at 7am, pulled my shorts and shoes on, and was ready to go within minutes. I called up the stairs after her, and heard a murmur.

“I don’t want to go”

After quite some cajoling, and trying not to completely and utterly lose my shit with her, she got up, got dressed, and joined me outside.

I am continually amazed at how easily teenagers give up at anything that requires any will power, determination, effort, or hard work. It was SUCH hard work – trying to encourage her throughout the second half of the (shortened) route we eventually completed. I’m trying to talk her equally unfit sisters to run with her instead of me – because my encouragement is eventually seen as “going on”.

Anyway.

It’s nearly midnight again. How does that keep happening?

I started the day sitting in the lounge today – opposite my youngest daughter, who is doing schoolwork via Microsoft Teams for the remainder of term. She lasted an hour before vanishing off through the house. At lunchtime I switched back to sitting in the junk room on my own – given that it made very little difference which room I should sit in on my own.

This wasn’t a very exciting post, was it. Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Categories
Life

Running on my Own

At dinner yesterday evening, my middle daughter put all sorts of plans in place to go running several times a week before college. I suggested I could go with her at perhaps 6:30am each morning – she suggested 6am. I rolled my eyes, and agreed.

After setting my alarm last night, and waking up at 6am, I rolled out of bed, pulled on some running shorts, and wandered over to her bedroom doorway. No response. I went downstairs, downed a glass of water, found my running shoes and coat, and got ready. Twenty minutes later, I made a final call. Still no answer.
I left the house at 6:30am on my own.

The last few runs have only been a couple of kilometres. I took it slowly (or so I thought), and headed out across town on the route that adds up to a little of five kilometres – listening to podcasts along the way. I shook my head at the coincidences that happen to me when out running – I think Chaos mathematicians would describe me as a “strange attractor”. I can be in the middle of nowhere, and not have seen a car for ages – but as soon as I need to set foot in the road, to pass a construction site, for example – cars will appear from all directions, at the precise point where the road is at it’s narrowest. It happened four times in five hundred yards this morning – the final instance nearly getting me run over.

I’m trying desperately to turn running into a habit. At the moment it’s still a victory of sorts for the “what you need to be doing” part of my brain over the “what you would like to be doing” part. I would like to have still been in bed. I did it though. Five and a half kilometres, with no “cheating” (no walking). Of course now I’ll be tired all day, but that’s a small price to pay in the good fight against having a backside the size of pluto.