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.


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.


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 CafĂ©” 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)


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.


After Effects

After receiving the first COVID vaccine injection on Sunday evening, the side effects began mid-morning on Monday. Throughout Monday, my body began to slowly seize up. The famous “aches and pains” friends and neighbours had talked about.

I didn’t think much about it until lunchtime, when I decided to walk to the corner shop and get supplies of energy drink and chocolate to see me through the next couple of days. It turns out you don’t tend to notice your body seizing up while you’re sitting still. Half-way to the corner shop, I began wondering if it had been such a good idea.

Eating two days supply of chocolate in one afternoon was definitely a good idea.

A little after lunch the headache began to arrive, and convinced me to down tools for the day. It wasn’t a bad headache, so I didn’t bother taking anything – I just took myself off to bed, and slept.

Here’s the odd thing I’ve noticed about my physiology – I don’t like coffee when I’m sick. It’s the strangest thing. I made myself a cup of tea before going to bed yesterday afternoon, and made another after dinner in the evening. Oh – that’s another strange thing – I can pretty much defeat any sense of “not being hungry” when I’m sick – and eat because I know I should to at least give myself fuel to fight whatever is coursing around my body.

So that’s how I fell asleep just after dinner last night – with a body filled with chocolate, energy drinks, risotto, and several cups of tea.

At about 4am this morning I woke up with really quite an impressive headache. A proper headache. I stared at the ceiling for a little while before deciding that paracetamol was better than bravery, and stumbled off down the stairs in search of the magical tablets.

When the alarm clock went off at 7am, the headache had gone, along with all of the aches and pains. It would appear that my body had successfully gone to war during the night.

So. I’m out of the woods. Ready to fight another day. All those other similar words.

And I’m still drinking tea.


Partly Vaccinated

I received my first COVID vaccination shot today. My age group became available to apply last week – I left it a few hours before looking at the website, then booked the appointments. The nearest dispensing station was about ten minutes walk from home, which made the choice largely academic. I received the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

If I get side-effects, they will appear within 12 hours. Fingers crossed I don’t get clobbered too hard by them – I’ve got a busy week ahead planned with work (I suppose plans can be changed though). My other half was knocked out for about three days.

My return to work tomorrow follows a week off. It has felt a little like limbo.

Fingers crossed I don’t wake up in the middle of the night shivering.


No Hair, Don’t Care

I got the clippers out this evening and cut all my hair off again. It was approaching “toilet brush” levels of sticky-uppiness, so I thought I should do something about it. Given that it’s been raining for the last twenty eight years, I stripped off to the waist, and leaned through the shower door to complete the job – running the clippers endlessly through my hair in the blind hope of cutting it somewhere near evenly.

My other half told me it looked ok. I don’t know if to trust her or not. Thinking about it, my youngest daughter didn’t explode in laughter, so it must be somewhere near sensible.

After cutting my hair, I clippered my eyebrows too. It turns out eyebrows are a pretty good indicator of actually how old somebody really is. There’s some sort of genetic switch in men that turns eyebrows from “fairly neat and tidy” into “wild and ridiculous” at some point between 40 and 50 years old.

Most people have no idea I’m nearly 48. They see the skinhead idiot in selfies and somehow think I’m 10 years younger. I imagine if they spent any time with me, they would realise this level of cynicism can only be formed over many decades.


I appear to have gotten away with the whole caffeine detox/headache thing. My head has been clear all day – and I’ve been nowhere near as tired as yesterday. Perhaps I’m genetically pre-disposed to be able to deal with dropping things out of my diet without my brain having a melt-down about it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book waiting to be read.


The Struggle is Real

I stopped drinking coffee yesterday morning (or the night before, in the interests of accuracy). I’ve had a headache all day – which I suppose is somewhat predictable after drinking coffee like a funnel for the last twenty something years.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. I’ve stopped drinking coffee before. For some reason whenever I’m sick I revert to tea. I can’t remember being sick since about eighteen months ago. The autumn before COVID launched itself across the world I was sick as a dog for about two months.


On reflection, today wasn’t the best day to not have coffee nearby. I got thrown in at the deep end with work – assigned to work on something that I had little or no knowledge of. An entire technology platform that I’ve somehow missed or avoided for the last couple of years. Not any more.

I wrote a long-ass post over at Medium about detoxing from caffeine. I ended up writing down a horrifying list of some of the things that have caffeine in them. In the end, I just ended up wondering how many 500g bars of dairy milk add up to the same as cup of coffee. I could totally chug chunks of chocolate instead of coffee. Straight swap. Sure, I would have no teeth, a fat gut, and be covered in spots, but I would be happy.

I’m sure I’ll cheer up by tomorrow.


Tuesday Lunchtime

I had been entertaining the idea of escaping at lunchtime, and going for a walk. A few miles out in the fresh air on my own with a podcast in my ears. The weather has other ideas – it has rained pretty consistently all morning. We are forecast snow next weekend.

I have half an hour of my lunch break left. Half an hour to fall down an internet rabbit hole and get nothing done. Spotify is busing playing “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” from a random playlist chosen to fill the silence.

I switched out the theme of my blog before work started this morning – simplifying it enormously. I’m not sure why. I have a suspicion that most people live in the WordPress or Tumblr interfaces, or email subsciptions anyway – they don’t venture to the web to look at much any more.

Writing over at Medium has kind of dried up for the moment. Probably a good thing, because writing when you have nothing to write about is death to creativity and inspiration. I have no doubt I could churn out cookie cutter articles like many citizen journalists seem to, and make a tidy living from it – I’m not sure I would be able to live with myself though. I would rather tell personal stories than parrot manufactured idiocy.

I’m drinking too much coffee at the moment. I imagine boredom has a lot to do with it. Perhaps I’ll get some ginger tea, and substitute out coffee for a few weeks. While thinking about health, I weighed myself this morning. I’m up three pounds from where I was a couple of months ago. I wonder how quickly I can drop it again? Watch this space.


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.


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.