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Life

The Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner

I woke the first time with a start at 5am. I know this, because I looked at the clock before falling back asleep. I woke the second time at 8am, remembered I am on holiday, but also remembered about going running. One little voice said “but the bed is so comfy!”, while another little voice said “you’ll get enormously fat”. I’m turning into Gollum.

After scraping myself out of bed, I knocked on my teenage daughters bedroom doors, and enquired if they might be running with me.

Five minutes later, I left the house. Alone.

I didn’t really have a plan, and set off in the general direction of town – listening to my breathing, and not really feeling like running at all, but I was already out, and running, so thought it a bit stupid to stop. I would only have myself to answer to anyway.

While running along one of the suburban roads down by the river, a woman in her fifties (I’m guessing) ran past on the opposite footpath. She was hunched over, and running seemed like an enormous struggle for her, but she was doing it. She reminded me that I really have no excuses.

After looping back through town, I passed several people completely ignoring the one-way signs on the pavements (a very low effort way of safeguarding people from the virus). I’m not quite sure what level of stupidity and/or laziness is needed to ignore social distancing signage.

By the time I got home my other half had already left for work, and none of my daughters had yet surfaced. I busied myself with hanging washing out, filling the washing machine with the first of many loads, and clearing the kitchen and lounge of wreckage from the night before.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever know how our house so reliably destroys itself every evening. I’m pretty sure the missing mass in the universe is directly linked to pens people have “borrowed” from me, and unwashed tea spoons.

My eldest daughter surprised me mid-morning with a number of questions about bullet journaling. I’ve been writing in a bullet journal for the last two or three years – keeping a record of the things I do each day. I think she’s finally coming around to the whole “rapid logging” thing – where you DON’T make each page into a ridiculous faux arts and crafts production, and you just write down the things you have done, or the things you want to do.

I pointed her at the Ryder Carroll book on the bookshelf, which she studiously ignored.

Late this afternoon I let my middle daughter attempt to “air traffic control” me in the simulator. With her at one end of the house, and me at the other, she watched a radar screen, and barked instructions to direct me through a number of circuits of an airfield in southern England. I realised we might have a problem after the second time she told me to turn in the opposite direction than she meant. Somehow I don’t think air traffic controllers are ever heard saying “left, no, the other left”, “my bad”, or “you can do if you want”.

Anyway. One day of holiday used up. Very little achieved. Must try harder to do something of consequence tomorrow. Maybe a long walk. We’ll see.

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Life

Fourteen Days

I have the next two weeks off work. Ten working days. Fourteen days in all. It all seems a bit giddy at the moment, although I’m mindful of a conversation with my brother-in-law earlier today, who has just had two weeks off – “I looked forward to it for ages, and then before you know it, it’s gone, and you realise you have to go back to work in the morning”.

I’m going running first thing tomorrow. I was supposed to go today, and woke up in time – but then fell asleep, and then the bed seemed warm, and comfy, and… well I just didn’t get up. It’s funny – while laying there, gazing at the ceiling, I quietly became annoyed with myself. I could have been up, out, running, doing chores, clearing the decks, and whatever else – instead I daydreamed, and did nothing – for nearly an hour.

Maybe I should give myself a pass from time to time. It’s incredibly rare that I sit and do nothing. I’m starting to realise that this whole slow-down on the blog can mostly be explained by the world slowing down during lockdown. Suddenly there was no reason to be running here, there and everywhere to get this done, that done, and the other done. Slowing down made me realise that I didn’t HAVE to do all the things I had been doing – and that included emptying my head into the blog each day.

Of course I substituted blogging for something else. Something tremendously useless in the grand scheme of things – I learned to fly a Boeing 737, and an Airbus A320 in a study-level simulator. If I’m ever sat near the flight deck of a commercial airliner in the future, and a member of the cabin crew runs down the cabin looking panic stricken, I can put my hand up. “Yes, I can fly a pretend one of these – I’ve logged several tens of hours, and not crashed one yet – but there was that time I nearly froze all the pretend passengers to death after forgetting to route warm air into the cabin…”

I can even re-programme the damn route into the flight computer. Yes, I’m THAT guy.

Anyway.

Tomorrow morning I’m getting up bright and early, and going for a run around town. My eldest daughter has indicated she would like to come too. I’m not banking on it. I told her I will knock on the door in the morning, but if she doesn’t emerge in her running kit by 8am, tough luck. Yes, I’ve become THAT Dad too.

Maybe I should blog my way through the fourteen day staycation. It will give me something to do – to distract me – to occupy my mind.

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Life

Stupid Like That

After scraping myself out of bed this morning I knocked on Miss 15’s bedroom door, and quietly enquired if she might be running. No answer. I then wandered down to Miss 19’s room, knocked on the door, and repeated the enquiry – with similar results.

Running alone again.

After finding a pair of running shorts from the washing line, and pulling yesterday evening’s t-shirt back on, I wandered out into the road – wondering if my recently broken toe would continue complaining as much as it had since getting up. I switched on STRAVA – an idiotic mobile app that keeps me accountable to myself – and set off.

I knew it was going to be warm. I don’t think I really registered quite how warm. After only a few minutes, I could feel beads of sweat rolling down my neck.

After perhaps a kilometre, approaching the high street, I had a decision to make – either be sensible and turn back across town – taking the safe option and not doing any mischief to myself – or keep running in a straight line and double the length of the loop – taking it out to five kilometres. I kept going straight on.

At the half-way mark, an argument of sorts was forming in my own head – between the rational me, and the idealistic me. I was calling myself an idiot for doing this running business at all. The stubborn me had also turned up to stoke the argument, and was busy telling the others not to dare let him give up and start walking.

I ran all the way back through town.

During the last kilometre I could swear all sorts of aches and pains appeared – I imagine warning lights were going off all over the place in front of the idiots arguing in my head.

I made it. Of course I made it – because I’m stupid like that. I ran 5K, and can get that particular monkey off my back. It was probably a bit stupid, jumping from week 5 of “Couch to 5K” straight to week 10, but then I had already run the first half twice in a row with my daughters.

I get the day off tomorrow. I’m guessing I’ll do it all again on Sunday though – because like I said – I’m stupid like that.

Categories
Life

Not Much of Anything

You find me sitting in the dark of the junk room, trying to switch off at the end of the day. I’m listening to a Carly Simon album, and typing into a minimalist online editor. I sometimes find it difficult to switch off – it’s difficult to stop thinking.

It doesn’t help that with a few days of work left until my vacation, I’m buried in thousands of lines of source code for a new project at work. I need to get it to a “good place” before downing tools on Friday – and I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to happen at the moment.

Of course I’m not really going on a vacation – I’m not going anywhere – it’s more a “staycation”. I’ll promise to read books, watch movies, and lots of other things – and I’ll do none of it. I will go running though, and I will go for long walks. Long walks help with the thoughts.

I must remember to take a notebook on the long walks. I often think of things to write about while out on my own, but almost always misplace the idea before reaching a keyboard.

I often solve computer programming problems while in the bathroom. How does that even work ?

In other news, I made it out for another run this morning. I went on my own, and just ran around town – a couple of miles. I’m still worried about the broken toe and don’t want to push it too much. I tell myself that, but in reality I’ve lost quite a bit of fitness while sitting on my arse for the last month. To be honest I’m stunned I can still run any sort of distance.

Anyway.

It’s getting late. Time to go brush my teeth, and sit in bed scrolling rubbish on a tablet instead of reading the book I purposely took upstairs to read.

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Life

Running Very Carefully

After a month keeping off a very broken toe, I finally got out running again this evening – although perhaps “running” is an exaggeration – more of a gentle jog. I jumped back into the Couch to 5K plan with my daughters, who have advanced all of 1 week since I last ran with them a month ago. The stunning lack of will-power in teenagers astounds me.

I’m so pleased my foot was alright. Strangely, walking hurts more than running. I can finally continue on the path to getting fit once again – and given that I now work from home, it’s become quite a bit more important than it was to at least do something each day.

If I get through this week without any secondary injuries showing up, I’m going to start extending the distance out while I’m off work over the next few weeks. It’s tempting to set goals already, but I really should just see how it goes – see how it feels each day.

Smiling like an idiot this evening.

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Life

Surprises on Sunday

It’s Sunday morning (or rather, what’s left of Sunday morning). We are heading out in an hour or so to a surprise destination with the kids. The local rugby club has started serving a barbecue at weekends, with socially distant tables, and an outdoor bar. You have to book tickets in advance, and we have a family ticket!

Somehow we have managed to keep the nature of the surprise a secret from the kids – I’m not entirely sure how, because they are usually pretty relentless when any sort of secret involved.

So what’s been going on for the last few days?

We went out yesterday to a Natural Trust property called “Hughenden Manor” – the home once upon a time of Benjamin Disreali – the prime minister during Queen Victoria’s reign. There are several options for walks around the grounds – we chose the longest option, which added up to about five miles through fields, woods, and riversides. For the most part we saw nobody throughout the afternoon – until we reached a riverbank near the end, and discovered a sizeable group of covidiots.

You can tell covidiots from a mile off – they visit places, but can’t be bothered to walk any distance, so congregate at the closest point to the entrance – happily infecting each other. We kept a very wide berth from them. While wandering past, not quite believing what we were seeing, I saw two teenage boys under an old oak tree by the riverbank. While everybody else enjoyed the sunshine, the river, nature, fresh air, and their own ignorance, the two teenagers hid under a tree in the dark with a bluetooth speaker, trying to record TikTok videos of each other.

I wonder what the TikTok generation will do when it gets banned? Move on to the next thing I suppose.

The rest of this week has been consumed with work – a major project is kicking off. I’ll only be involved for the next few days though – I have two weeks leave booked. I found myself  in the crazy situation of not having taken any leave all year, and found myself with 24 days to use up in three months. I booked the last two weeks of July off as project managers were trying to schedule me, and still find myself with a number of days left, and no easy way of using them up. I’m allowed to carry ten days into next year, but that still leaves almost a week. I’m going to be furious if I lose them – particularly as I’ve essentially worked straight through the COVID19 period – while many co-workers were furloughed.

Anyway.

I better go get ready for the surprise outing.

Categories
Life

Ends and Beginnings

I visited the office yesterday – for the first time in four months. A flying visit to empty my desk, and collect a monitor and an office chair. The company I work for is finally following the example set by the likes of Automattic, and doing away with the office entirely – at least for the moment.

The convergence of ubiquitous fast internet connections, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Corona Virus opened everybody’s eyes to the realisation that we were able to carry on operating very much normally while working from home. I imagine the focus of the management naturally turned to the office, and the question  “why do we have an office?”.

I now have a much better chair in the junk room at home.

I imagine in time the company may end up hiring somewhere more suited to meetings – and we will perhaps gather every few months – mostly to remember what we all look like. While in lockdown I have been the instigator of several “Zoom Quizzes” – open to all staff, and their families. The next quiz happens in a couple of weeks time. After we all emerge from lockdown, I imagine the quizzes might turn into group meals – picking local bars or restaurants to catch up with each other.

It seems strange to think I’m not working in an office any more. I’ve been sitting at a desk most weekdays for the last twenty five years. I suppose I still will – just not in an office. There are already murmurings at home about finally decorating the junk room. If I have to sit here all day every day, it would be nice if it was a little more habitable.

I better turn running and cycling into a much more regular thing too – if I’m not cycling to work and back every day, my backside will develop its own gravity.

In other news, my middle daughter has started studying to become an air traffic controller. It’s surprised all of us. Since discovering the entire damn fool escapade while accompanying me on a virtual flight on the simulator, something switched on in the depths of her brain. She has already enrolled on a training course, and is studying books. Before long, I’ll contact London Centre, and be greeted with my daughter’s bossy voice, instructing me to “maintain flight level two hundred”, and to “put the kettle on Dad”.

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Life

Lunchtime Thoughts

It’s Monday lunchtime, and you find me sitting in the junk room at home. I’ve been here on weekdays since the middle of March. Nearly four months now. The only places I have visited in town during that time have been the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I’ve been on a few long walks (even with a broken toe), which we have dubbed “mental health walks”.

This weekend we visited a national trust property called “Basildon Park”, and wandered around the grounds of the estate for a few hours. We took a picnic, and met my in-laws there. While walking, we viewed any and all strangers with suspicion.

Work has slowed down ever-so-slightly this week. Owing to shortened working hours, and various co-workers being furloughed, I’ve found my days pretty full. Busy is good though. Busy stops you looking at the world around you too much and being horrified at the ignorance, division, and idiocy going on seemingly everywhere.

I’ve quickly learned that it’s best not to have balanced opinions about anything at the moment – there’s a strong sense from the most vocal on social media platforms that if you’re not with them, you are against them – there is no middle ground. Facts, opinions, truth, and lies have been stirred into a toxic stew that is fashioned into whatever narrative people wish to subscribe to or promote. It doesn’t help that “defence of self” is such a strong instinct in the wilfully ignorant.

Anyway.

I’m listening to the “Mellow Morning” playlist on Spotify, complete with adverts every few minutes. Music has been one of the huge benefits of working from home – filling the room with an endless stream of songs and stories. I tent to pick playlists completely at random – and rarely know the names of any of the bands, artists, or tracks. If one of the kids were to walk in and ask after a track (which they will not, because it’s Dad music), I typically wouldn’t be able to tell them.

Time for another coffee perhaps.

p.s. I cut all my hair off again.

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Life

Has it really been a week ?

Has it really been a week since the last blog post? You would think the absence of pretty much anything from me over the last few days would mean an impending avalanche of thoughts, ideas, stories, and idiocy. The truth? I’m coming up blank.

I’m back working full-time now, although still working from home. I’m just taking a bit of a break to write this. It’s funny – as my world slowly returns to normal, I’m starting to realise how much we used to cram into each day – before the whole lockdown thing started. Every day was a sprint, filled with chaos and mayhem. I’m not sure I want to go back to that world now.

I finally got around to booking some holiday yesterday. Although I have been incredibly fortunate to carry on working throughout the pandemic, I looked at the calendar and realised I had only taken a few days off since the start of the year. Even though we’re not going anywhere or doing anything, it will be good to spend some time at home with the kids – to go on walks together, and maybe even start running again.

My foot is slowly healing. If you haven’t read previous posts, I managed to break a toe on my left foot a few weeks ago. There really isn’t anything you can do for broken toes, other than tape them up, and be careful. I’m now into the third week of it healing, and can walk on it without too much pain. I think another couple of weeks and I can try running on it.

I’m still losing weight. I know! I’m as surprised as anybody else. I suppose the main motivation is how annoyed I will be if I gain any weight. For the last month I have dropped one or two pounds every week – purely by not eating snacks between meals, and making sure meals are not ridiculous. According to the NHS body mass index calculator online (which I just looked at), I’m at the high end of the healthy weight range – I need to lose about another 14 pounds. Hopefully by the time my vacation starts, I’ll be getting close to that.

I drank a glass of wine the night before last – the first in several months. Oh my word – it went straight to my head. I actually wondered after drinking it if it’s really worth it – alcohol. There were things I wanted to get on with (I drank it with dinner), and was conscious it was affecting me.

I’m still playing with the aircraft simulator. I did a flight last night with my Dad and his group of friends – taking off from the mountains of Switzerland, and landing at London City airport. It was fun. I still need to study air traffic control procedures (hence the annoyance about wine having an effect), but I’m getting there slowly. My other half thinks the entire escapade is entirely pointless, and feigns a comical level of indifference if I ever mention anything to do with it. She’s probably right, but it keeps me out of mischief.

Oh – just remembered – the Eurovision movie.

We finally got around to watching the Eurovision movie earlier in the week – a day after everybody else went mad about it. We absolutely loved everything about it. I don’t want to go on and on about it, because you can go watch it yourself if you haven’t already – I will submit that I’ve been listening to the soundtrack album on Spotify all week though 🙂