I can’t tell you where I am this morning. Let’s just say “a waiting room”. Waiting for my eldest daughter. I’ve written off work for the morning to sit here, waiting – I filled in my “out of office”.

She struggles to play a part in “the world” as easily as you or I might. That’s why we’re here. But we’re here – that’s the important thing. We hold on to every inch of progress.

It’s interesting how we all deal with the world, isn’t it. Everybody does it in different ways. Some people focus on themselves, some people focus on others, some people worry about everything they do – about how it will be seen – and others seem to worry about very little. I guess some struggle to figure out any sort of strategy, and that’s how we end up here.

I’m reminded of the Shakespeare quote – about each person playing many parts during their lifetime. We really do. Most of us wear many hats, and choose which one to wear depending on the company, and the situation. If we’re very lucky we know one or two people that don’t require a hat. Hats are exhausting sometimes.

I’m kind of reflective today. I think I know why.

Dooce died. Heather Armstrong.

I saw the breaking news story last night. Back when I was starting out with blogging in the early 2000s, I knew her a little bit. We were all kind of finding our way with this new medium – sharing thoughts, ideas, and stripping back the layers of acting. We were all figuring out what a blog actually was – how much you could share – what stories you could tell.

She had no filter. Her blog was a firehose of truth and honesty. She wrote wonderfully. She never set out to become famous, but she ended up atop the pyramid so many jealous citizen journalists constructed when writing breathlessly about her shared car-crash life.

I wrote recently – that too many people are dying. People I know. People I knew. It brings into focus that you really don’t get another chance at this. An urgency of sorts. A refactoring of that which is important.


While sitting here, various people are wandering past. They all seem kind. Perhaps I just tend to see the kindness in others? Maybe that’s my thing. I don’t tend to subscribe to having any sort of purpose though – and wonder if anybody really does. We’re all kind of making it up as we go along, aren’t we?

There are some posters on the wall in the waiting room – not really motivational posters – more mindfulness. One says “Kindness should become the natural way of life. Not the exception”. While I can agree with that, I also know that the real world is a good deal more complicated than a quote on a poster might have you believe. The counter is obviously “sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind” – which flies in the face of the first quote.

Why is it guidance always takes the form “always do this – unless that happens”? That’s not always then, is it.


Run Like the Wind, Bullseye

Alexa, the curious daemon that lives within an electronic gadget on the bedside table burst into life in her metronomic way once again this morning – filling the room with Ronan and Harriet from Magic FM as they wished everybody a wonderful day before playing the same twenty songs they play every day.

I really need to choose a different radio station, but it’s kind of comfortable. The presenters’ voices, their banter, and the stream of 80s songs are familiar – like a warm blanket of sound. Which doesn’t help much when you’re supposed to be getting out of bed.

I did get up though. And in a fit of stupidity, pulled some running shorts and an old t-shirt on. A few minutes later I found myself wandering out into the morning air rather apprehensively. I haven’t been running in AGES.

It wasn’t actually that bad. For the first kilometre or so I surprised myself – thinking “I can still do this” – but then all the little aches and pains that come with being enormously unfit came back to haunt me. It’s going to take some time.

I did it though. I went for a run. Go me.

By the time lunchtime came around I could have eaten the entire contents of the kitchen cupboards. I didn’t. I’m not allowed – on account of being “on a diet”. It’s not really a diet – it’s just “not eating entire bags of cookies from the supermarket”. Not that I do that, of course. Not THAT often. Ok. No more than once a week. Usually.

The second big change I made today was venturing out onto the green outside the house at lunchtime to sit on a bench with a book and my cup of coffee. I texted a few neighbours, and told them of my daring escapade – wondering if any might join me. Their days sounded much like mine – which explained their absence. I sat and read some more of “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, but spent most of today realising “oh, I’ve already read that bit”. My memory has holes in it like a piece of swiss cheese at the moment.


I’m rather pleased with myself this evening. Small steps (or strides in this case). The route back to fitness is going to take a while, but I know I’ll feel better for it – and intervention was probably required before I develop my own gravity.

In other news, the entire day flew past – filled with a never-ending succession of worky-work things that I’m not going to write about here. It’s amazing how time flies when you’re not having fun.


Thunderbirds are Go

Today has been a good day. A long day, a tiring day, a draining day, but also a good day.

After the alarm clock went off at 6am this morning I scraped myself out of bed, jumped in the shower, brushed my teeth, pulled yesterday’s clothes on, and wandered downstairs to make a coffee.

Six months after breaking her leg in a freak accident at rugby, this morning I took my youngest daughter across the county for a consultant to look at x-rays and decide if she can start her path towards recovery in earnest. After walking this way and that through a huge hospital in search of the correct department, and after more walking this way and that in search of the x-ray department, we eventually found ourselves sitting in front of the consultant we have been waiting months to see.

My daughter’s leg is “good to go”. It’s healed perfectly. She can now set about building back the muscle she has lost, start running regularly, and throw herself into rugby tackles once more.

I wrote a short note on Facebook – “Thunderbirds are go!”

Guess who will obviously be charged with accompanying her on said running escapades? I don’t actually mind, because I need a good reason to go running anyway.

We arrived home from the hospital early in the afternoon, and I walked straight into a wall of meetings, development work, and more meetings. Not fun.

Something else happened today though. Something that turned a stressful, tiring day into a quite wonderful day. I received word from an old friend – a friend I have not spoken to for some time, but who has never been far from my thoughts. I found myself sitting on the bus early this morning grinning like an idiot – shaking my head at the tricks the universe plays as soon as you take your eyes off it.


The Weekend Arrives

You find me sitting in the study at home with a cup of coffee between my arms while I write this post. The only sound in the room is the clickety-clack of the keyboard.

After a week spent at home recovering from COVID, we walked into town late last night to meet my middle daughter – the one that works at the pub. We had only planned on walking there an back – providing an escort of sorts to shepherd her past the numerous bars and restaurants that empty onto the streets late at night. Upon our arrival the bar staff greeted us with smiles and waves, and offered us a dink “on the house”. I can’t imagine how annoyed the man next to us at the bar must have been.

It probably says something about me that the moment I am offered something for free, I immediately worry how fair that is for others. I don’t like being given preferential treatment.

I had one drink – and this morning I know about it. I guess this is another observation to chalk-up against COVID – that the headache I might have had following several drinks now appears after one drink – or at least until my body gets a chance to recover properly.

I’m trying to stop myself from doing things today. A quiet day. Hopefully.

I can’t let today pass without mentioning an influx of new readers. Quite by chance this week I crossed paths with somebody teaching English as a foreign language, and they recommended my writing to their students. If any of you are reading this – I hope you are both understanding, and enjoying it. I can’t always guarantee I’ll have exciting or interesting content to write about, but knowing there’s an audience out there interested in a different way of life will remind me to record my “normal” – because it almost certainly isn’t theirs.

If there is anything you would like me to write about – perhaps about life in England – just send me a message. My contact details are on the “about” page.


It’s time for me to go make a hot drink, sit down, and try to allow my body to recover a little. Wish me luck!


Day Four

Based on the very unscientific method of counting back to when the aches and temperature first appeared, this is day four of COVID, and my body appears to be staging a remarkable fightback. As long as I sit quietly, the aches and pains appear to be leaving me alone. As soon as I try and do anything, my body starts overheating.

We’ll try to ignore that after everybody left the house this morning I snuck down to make a cup of tea and discovered similar devastation to yesterday. At least it only took me three quarters of an hour to clear up today.

The washing machine is on it’s second load so far. The dishwasher has been emptied and re-filled again (don’t even ask), and the leftover food that had caused a cloud of flies to arrive has been dealt with. Of course now nobody can use the kitchen for a while – until the fly spray dissipates (the windows and door are wide open).

I was hoping to return to work tomorrow, based on feeling quite a bit better last night, but now I’m not so sure. My head is ringing. I’m not sure what causes that – blood pressure probably.


The one where I caught COVID

We went out for dinner last week to celebrate the end of college for my eldest daughter. She seemed a bit under the weather, but soldiered on – then over the weekend I spent a lot of time with my eldest daughter, watching Stranger Things. Somewhere in the middle of that, the pair of us caught COVID.

The rest of the family seem to be ok.

I find it interesting that everybody’s experience of COVID is different. I have aches, chills, a high temperature, a headache, and a cough – although the cough was the last symptom to appear. I’m probably on about day 4, as far as we are aware – although full-on effects only showed up on Saturday.

We suspected either flu, or tonsillitis too – but following a visit to the doctor first thing this morning, my eldest was confirmed with COVID – so no need for me to wonder any more.

The first thing I did was inform work. I’m now figuring out how best to hide myself away from the rest of the family for the week.

Now I just fear what will happen to the house. After getting up this morning I spent an hour clearing the kitchen up before learning what was wrong with me, during which time I had pulled a load of glassware out of the dishwasher that would have been destroyed by it.

I put a load of washing in the machine too. Somehow the kids think dumping dirty clothes in the bathroom is the same as washing them.

We won’t mention that I also emptied the kitchen bin, which was overflowing onto the floor, and the gap alongside it, which apparently had an invisible “cardboard recycling centre” sign above it. Oh – and then there was the three trips outside with recycling, because there’s another invisible sign next to the kitchen sink.

If I sound pissed off, it’s because I am.


Running and Quizzes

After work yesterday evening I pulled on my running shoes and went for a run around town. It seemed like a good idea at the time – but I had completely forgotten that the junk room / study where I sit for most of the day is on the cold side of the house. I knew I had made a mistake minutes into the run, when the air might well have been made from treacle.

Let’s just say it’s a bit humid at the moment. And hot. While running, I started to wonder if my body might complain about what I was putting it through – and could feel my chest tightening after a few minutes. After perhaps 10 minutes running, I gave in and walked for a while.

It’s perhaps no surprise that as I started to struggle, an ambulance and a fast response car passed me. My suspicions of starring in my own version of The Truman Show are as large as ever.

Later in the evening we trooped off down to the pub to meet friends for a pub quiz. Getting to the pub in time for the quiz was something of a challenge (for all of us), but once there we managed to forget about everything for a while and just have fun.

When it got to the “scoring the rounds” part of the quiz, we became aware of a very, very serious table with two men sat at it. Every quiz has one of those tables doesn’t it. Men of a certain age, obviously single, no sense of humour, and this is probably their entire world. Think Benedict Cumberbatch in Starter for Ten.

We weren’t really there for the quiz – it was an excuse. We were there to spend time with friends. Late in the evening – after returning home – I messaged the group chat that had resulted in the night out – and remarked how lucky we are to have such good friends.

There’s an old saying, isn’t there – about being so busy you forget to live. I’m often guilty of that.


Running and Haircuts

I began “Week 5” of the “Couch to 5K” running programme this morning – three five minute runs, with three minute walks in-between. I could really have done with an extra half hour in bed, but (thankfully) I’m pretty good at guilting myself into carrying on with the various idiot escapades I get involved in.

After getting back from the run I started clearing the kitchen around Miss 18, who was making eggy bread (french toast for the food snobs reading this). After finishing with the frying pan she threw it in the sink – which melted the washing up bowl. Genius move. When she asks about the smell of burning plastic the next time she uses the frying pan, I’ll remind her.

I just cut my hair. I’ve been cutting it myself ever since we went into lockdown – or rather, mostly cutting it – my eldest daughter typically tidies up the back for me (it’s kind of hard to see the back of your own head).

There’s an old saying about idle hands and the devil’s work, isn’t there – which would probably apply if I believed in any of that nonsense. I always find it interesting that people “of faith” tend to frame anything they would prefer others didn’t do in terms that suggest some form of supernatural retribution.

Along with countless others, I’ve been watching the news this week, and trying to process what’s going on. I’m not going to mansplain any of it – I just wanted to express my frustration with the world in general sometimes. We never learn. The same patterns repeat, endlessly.


Running Again

I went running first thing this morning – back to the “Couch to 5K” programme after a few days off after my right knee started to hurt. Fingers crossed if I just go slow at this whole running thing, my body will stop complaining.

It’s funny – for years my natural jogging pace has been about six minutes per kilometre – so about thirty minutes for five kilometres. Even though the sessions at the moment are pretty much “run, walk, run, walk”, the running part of them is coming out at exactly that pace again – and with seconds difference between each run. I seem to have an unexpectedly accurate metronome inside my body.

I do need to lose weight to make it easier though – I could do with losing about twenty five pounds. I’ve cut out most snacks, but I need to do more. Maybe some cardio on the days I’m not running would help?

Half the reason I’m running is because sitting down all day, every day, has started to cause my ankles to swell up. Being active stops that happening. My other half forgot her lunch today, which provided an unexpected lunchtime walk across town – not very far, but something at least. I suppose running around doing chores throughout the day helps too.


I was just taking a break from work for a few minutes. I better get on.