The new way, Week nine.

Saturday 16 May 2020 – Walthamstow.
I came back from St Leonards feeling quite relaxed; time out from normality was a very good thing and I hope to do this again in the not too distant future. Having time out from work was wise and I didn’t really think about it while I was off, unusual, but healthy.

These last few weeks has seen good days and not so good days. This is quite normal, but has intensified during lockdown as my usual escape routes are less accessible. I am not motivated to do much, I should be bike riding this morning as I sit here at my work desk typing. There is a lot running round my head, not bad things; songs and music, story ideas I never write down, emails I don’t send. I am not in a negative place; more in a constant state of introspection.

At the start of lockdown I thought this would be a great opportunity to do stuff I do not get time to do, with writing being the main thing I thought of. I feel like I have wasted this opportunity somewhat as I have done very little of that or much else. Though to be fair to myself, I have been busy with work, I write these posts, and we still cook, we still shop, there are things that need to be done. It’s not as if a huge chunk of time was added to the day, and we have had a serious and deadly disease to contend with.

I very much know I am not the only one thinking like this.

Sunday
I didn’t get out of bed till quite late, after 10 I think, though I didn’t sleep particularly well and was quite dozy until the two coffees kicked in; both taken in bed while reading. I finished the Salgado photography book and started an anthology of weird Britain/folk horror stories which arrived at the very start of lockdown. I have been reading too much non-fiction lately due to struggling to find fiction authors who resonate with my ever changing taste.

The weather turned today; yesterday was the end of the golden weather, it is cooler, windier and overcast. Eleanor was back in the garden so I got on the bike and rode down to, and then round, the Olympic Park. I was looking for the start of the Greenway, a walking and cycling path from Stratford to Beckton, almost to the Thames. The Olympic Park is not a bad place to cycle around, there is a lot of space, wide boulevards, paths everywhere and plenty of room for walkers and cyclists to share. Its major issue is a confused layout with so many dead ends, closed roads and fenced off paths. I did many a loop trying to find my way out.

I rode down the Lea towpath, which was not too busy until I get to Hackney Wick, where I ducked on to the streets as it was way too busy for my riding style (impatient).

I love the Wick Woodland, a tiny section of woodland just next to the path, and one that I rarely see anyone in.

It was also a good excuse to explore some of the area as I have rarely cycled here. I found some Real Dill street art.

I crossed over the Lea and had a quick look at Hackney Wick, and could not believe the devastation that has happened in the last five or six years. So many old buildings demolished and so many new flats that no one can afford being built. Hideous. I know the old warehouses are rundown and warehousing is no longer a core function for Hackney Wick now the Lea is no longer transporting goods, but these places were host to artist studios and band rehearsal spaces and were cheap and used and now there are fewer places for people to make art and noise. That makes me sad.

I got stuck trying to find my way out of the maze of Olympic Park, I wanted to ride home via the un-delightful streets of Leyton, which would be less crowded. I came across so many closed roads, it was a bit frustrating. I also saw a train, which was almost exciting.

I was riding for about 90 minutes and was knackered in the afternoon, not good. Fitness is slowly coming back though.

We had a Zoom online games evening with Eleanor’s boys and their partners which was a lot of fun, I even won a round which was highly unexpected.

Monday
Up early enough for a pre-work walk to the park with Eleanor, followed by breakfast and I still started work before 8:30. Sunny out but cold, the temperature has dropped 12 degrees since Saturday, and I was cold for most of the day. Damn spring and its unreliable weather.

The work day was OK, started at the start and ended at the end. I was very tired by the end and looking forward to an early night. Which I had.

The government announced the way out of lockdown today, which seems to be more of the same, just more confusing and more responsibility on individuals to use good old ‘British common sense’, whatever that is. My common sense is totally different to Eleanor’s, maybe she is more British than me?

Tuesday
Almost a repeat of yesterday morning, though I walked random streets alone for 30 minutes before breakfast and work starting. There are more people out this morning, and a lot more wearing masks as they head to the station, I would not travel without one, or travel at all unless I had to!

Work was similar to yesterday, the day started, it finished and was OK in between, I knocked a few things off the list, not a bad day to be fair to it.

For the first time in a few weeks I made a cake, a very basic banana cake, that was quite nice, it looked and tasted good and we ate it in less than 2 hours. Our oven is definitely under cooking things, hopefully not a sign we need to replace another appliance.

Wednesday
Eleanor joined me for the pre-breakfast walk this morning and we walked past the art shop on Hoe St so Eleanor could look at a painting she is interested in. I took a photo of the pub. Wistful. Some days I just feel like getting up, going to the kitchen for a bottle of wine and returning to be with a book, no glass required.

The work day passed and I don’t really recall much of any interest happening, though it was an OK day.

In the evening two directors of the residents association for the block my flat in St Leonards is in and I had a brief board meeting, I am acting chair. We were supposed to have a full board meeting just as the covid outbreak started and this is the first catch up we have had since January. We agreed to have a full board meeting at the end of the month. There is a lot to be done and I am keen to get things under way as soon as we can now that contractors are back working. It was good chatting with some people I haven’t spoken to in a while, and making some plans for the near future. It does mean I have more work to do…

Thursday
I was lazy and tired and didn’t walk, but I did 10 hours of work which was stupid.

In the evening I started cancelling the accommodation I had booked for our holiday in three weeks. We were going to fly to Oslo in Norway and then train back to London, overnighting in Gothenberg, Copenhagen, Lubeck and Hannover, before meeting a group of friends in Amsterdam for a birthday weekend. We were really looking forward to it and I was very disappointed to have to cancel. Luckily I had not booked the trains and most of the accommodation had free cancellation, so there was not a huge financial loss, but there was an emotional cost. When will our (my) next holiday be? Can I fly to NZ for Christmas? No-one knows.

This may partially explain my less than positive outlook this week as I have been gearing up to the task.

Friday
I was awake stupidly early again, though feeling pretty good, not as groggy as previous days, and I had a couple of wines last night. Maybe more wine is the secret? I didn’t have the motivation to walk again, but it was a nice morning, no wind for a change so I took a couple of photos in the garden before work.

I had plans for the work day, though barely managed one of them, still it wasn’t a bad day, and good to finish a five day week on high. There were some issues in the evening, not mine to resolve, but I was on the Teams thread, and knew that I would be online in the morning to see what I could do to prevent them happening again.

We watched the final three episodes of Devs. Best TV programme in a long time, cannot believe that some critics disliked it, I thought it was fabulous.

Saturday
No work meant a proper lie in. I still woke at stupid o’clock but dozed till 9:00 then had coffee in bed with the socials till close to 10 when I did some work for a couple of hours.

I have realised, and it has taken most of the last 57 years to work this out, that I do most of my thinking when I wake. That dreamy state half way between full sleep and full awake is when I process the stuff in my head. Dream thought and reality blur, mostly in a good way, this is where ideas come from. It is not an instant process, some things mull for days before disappearing completely or a conclusion is reached. Often I am very uncommunicative first thing; my brain needs to switch from consulting with itself to consulting with other people. By other people I mean Eleanor as it is so rare I see other people first thing, she must think I am quite rude some mornings.

I went for a walk for an hour late in the afternoon, buying some beer, fruit and bread, I found an anarchy sign on my walk, I have not seen a fresh one of these for ages.

When I got home I found Eleanor talking to her sister in New York while simultaneously watching football on the telly. I cracked a beer and joined in the TV watching after her call. Football, wow, what a thing to have back, admittedly it was German football, not UK football, but it was great having a sniff of Saturday afternoon normality. The German Bundesliga started today, with games being played in empty stadiums. It was weird, but it was football!

After I cooked, and we ate, a pretty good tofu, chickpea and spinach curry we had another Skype enabled chat with friends while watching more Fear the Walking Dead, the first three episodes of series four, I like the new characters more than the original…

As I write this on Sunday morning I discovered I have achieved something. Almost 18 months after the exhibition I held we have finally hung a print in the front room. I have been meaning to do this for months. Well done me!