The nicer half of spring

I think (hope!) we’re done with the winter weather now. I’ve been able to wear spring running clothes for five days in a row without getting cold, and the last two ‘supermarket trip Thursdays’ have been so sunny that the car has been summer levels of hot when we exit the supermarket and I’ve had to take my hoodie off to drive home. The blossom is finally coming out properly too, and should be in full bloom within a week or two. I’m already looking forward to taking lots of pictures.

I’ve spent most of this week planning games and experimenting with code (when not running, working, or doing household chores and admin). I’m in a real game creation place at the moment and am excited about all the things I’m planning to make over the next year or so.

Work has been quite busy for the last few days so I’m looking forward to the weekend.

Blossom

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Michael Land – ‘Scabb Island Overview’

Sunday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Deception’
Harry Nilsson – ‘One’
Lisa Lougheed – ‘Run With Us’

Monday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Marilyn, My Bitterness’

Tuesday

The Crüxshadows – ‘Marilyn, My Bitterness’
Mesh – ‘Let Them Crush Us

Wednesday

Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’
MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’

Thursday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’
Jorge Vera – ‘Tierras Magicas’

Friday

Michael Land – ‘On The Hill’

Spring feeling

Since the snow melted last week, signs of spring have been everywhere, which has really helped my mood. The croci are budding nicely now along the snowdrops on the paths outside, and the supermarkets have finally started to sell daffodils – a month later than usual, but they’re very welcome! It feels warmer outside for running too, meaning I’m gradually starting to shed my winter layers. Last Sunday, I went for my first proper long run since September, and the weather made it really enjoyable. I’m really hopeful that I can get some good long runs done leading up to the point when races start again.

Since the announcement of the UK government’s roadmap for England on Monday, races (and parkruns… and of course non-running events too!) in 2021 finally feel like a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, which is a huge source of hope for me. Scotland is still more up in the air, so I’ll have to wait and see what happens before I know when I can visit home, but on the whole I feel a lot more positive about the whole situation now that I’ve got a bit of certainty. I know the proposed dates aren’t set in stone, but at least they give us an idea of when restrictions will ease.

I’ve felt a bit out of sorts for the last fortnight because I’ve not always felt able to stick to my schedule. However, I’ve done a lot better with it the last couple of days. I think it’s just that I need to tweak it regularly to make sure it always works for me – over the last month I’ve been doing a lot more cross-training (yoga and walking) than I was doing when I first drew up the plan, and so like everything else, that needs to be scheduled in so that it doesn’t take up more time than it needs to.

Bravely Default II arrived in the post today! I’ve been looking forward to this game for over a year and am going to be spending every spare second playing it from this weekend onwards. While still making time for all my scheduled stuff as well, of course!

Croci

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
Duran Duran – ‘Ordinary World’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Arcadia – ‘Election Day’
Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne – ‘Rather Be’

Sunday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
Will Powers – ‘Kissing With Confidence’
Taylor Swift – ‘You Need To Calm Down’
Ed Sheeran and Stormzy – ‘Take Me Back To London’
Lindisfarne – ‘Lady Eleanor’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’

Monday

Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’
Ryo and Chelly – ‘Great Distance’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Levellers – ‘One Way’
John Newman – ‘Love Me Again’

Tuesday

Revo – ‘Horizon Of Light And Shadow’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’
Technotronic – ‘Pump Up The Jam’
Pop Will Eat Itself – ‘Get The Girl! Kill The Baddies!’
Daft Punk- ‘One More Time’

Wednesday

Bloodhound Gang – ‘The Roof Is On Fire’
They Might Be Giants – ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’
Duran Duran – ‘I Believe/All I Need To Know

Thursday

The Beatles – ‘In My Life’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Chaos Shrine’
Robert Allen – ‘Bloxonius’

Friday

Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
5 Seconds Of Summer – ‘She Looks So Perfect’

The long march out of winter

I am really glad it’s February now.

I don’t usually say that. I normally find February to be a fairly dismal month – there’s still no end in sight to the cold winter weather, and by now I’m a lot more fed up of it than I was at the start of January. It’s also still a long time before anything exciting or fun will happen in the year. Race season normally starts in March at the earliest, Easter break usually isn’t till April, and it’s generally May before the weather gets properly nice and Geth and I start going on all our small summer mini-breaks.

Of course, this year is different in many ways. All the races and gigs and trips we’ve got booked for the spring and summer – all holdovers from the cancelled year that was 2020 – are still up in the air. As ever with this pandemic, massive amounts of conflicting information and predictions are flying around, and it’s just not possible to make plans. I’ll be delighted if things are normal enough by the summer that I can sit or stand at a concert with thousands of other people, but I can’t see it happening. Races might be a different matter, as it’s easier to make them COVID-secure, but I still don’t see the ones I’ve got booked for late spring going ahead.

Then there’s the weather. What kept me fairly cheerful through lockdown 1 last spring – other than the novelty of it – was the fact that we were having the most glorious spring we’d had for years, and every day I was able to go out and run in the warm sunshine, with beautiful cherry-blossom trees everywhere I went. Lockdown 3, in contrast, has been BLEAK. The weather has been constant ice, snow and sleet, meaning that I’ve had to alternate between tedious treadmill runs and grim, slippery, wet runs outside (neither of which are conducive to speed training in the slightest).

As such, while I don’t expect things to change much in February – the weather, certainly, is showing no signs of becoming less awful – it does mean that we’re one month closer to warmer weather, and hopefully looser restrictions, even if things won’t quite return to normal this year in the way that we would like.

On a day-to-day basis, things are trucking on. I’ve had a fairly steady trickle of day job work over the last couple of weeks, and having my new daily schedule has meant that I’ve also been able to fit in a decent amount of time on my own projects. I’ve also been enjoying my evening downtime and making a lot of progress in my videogames. I’m nearly finished with Bravely Second, which should mean I’ll have a couple of weeks’ break from the series to make some more progress on Final Fantasy I before Bravely Default II comes out (already pre-ordered!). Following BDII I may then spend a bit of time playing non-JRPGs as there are quite a lot on my to-play list. I did this last summer (many happy hours spent on the armchair in the living room playing adventure games on the big screen) and am keen to repeat the experience.

There’s also another Adventuron jam coming up this month, so that will doubtless be a fun project for my spare hours!

On the whole, I’m not short of ways to spend my time. I just wish this particular chapter of life didn’t feel so endless at the moment.

Snowdrops
My favourite snowdrops have appeared in their usual place along my run route. I first noticed them when Geth and I had to move house during the Beast from the East three years ago, and since then I’ve always seen them as a reminder that winter won’t last forever.

This week’s earworm playlists:

Saturday

Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’

Sunday

The Bangles – ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’

Monday

Revo – ‘Fighting To The End’
The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar – ‘Pray For Me’
Chuck Berry – ‘You Never Can Tell’
Ed Sheeran – ‘Don’t’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’

Tuesday

Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Nintendo 3DS eShop – ‘Main Theme’
Soft Cell – ‘Say Hello Wave Goodbye’
Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Three Little Birds’

Wednesday

Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Three Little Birds’
Queen – ‘Flash’
Sebastian Gampl and Tommy Reeve – ‘Under Control’ 

Thursday

Yuzo Koshiro – ‘Labyrinth I: Emerald Grove’
Bob Marley & The Wailers – ‘Three Little Birds’
Beyoncé – ‘If I Were A Boy’
Elton John – ‘Step Into Christmas’
Men Without Hats – ‘Safety Dance’
Blondie – ‘One Way Or Another’

Friday

The Bangles – ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’ 

Quiet days

I ran about five miles this morning…

…and squashed my bug for my online game in the process. I’ve since been getting on with a bit of admin – I’ve had a few clients contact me about day job work next week but there’s nothing for the rest of this week as of yet, so I’m using the time to catch up with other things.

I started a new videogame yesterday and am hoping to be able to make a bit of time for it tonight as well!

Thistles
Some thistles from one of my walks last week. It’d be nice to do some walking in a non-urban setting soon.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Katy Perry – ‘Roar’
Rizzle Kicks – ‘Down With The Trumpets’
Pinkfong – ‘Baby Shark’

Absorbing hours

Just a mile again today…

…for the same reason as yesterday, but also because I wanted to get going with my game creation stuff. I’m still working on my graphics and they’re taking aaaaages ’cause I want to get them right! It’s a really relaxing thing to do though.

Same again tomorrow, with a bit of added housework (boring, but needs to be done).

Flower
More flowers from the back garden!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Michael Land – ‘Edward van Helgen’
Duran Duran – ‘What Happens Tomorrow’
Michael Land – ‘Monkey Island Main Theme’
Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’

An active bank holiday

A recovery mile this morning…

…but given that today I also did a RingFit Adventure level, a YouTube yoga session, and a long bank holiday walk, I feel I’ve been quite active, really!

I also spent a couple of hours enjoying the sunshine in the back garden, keeping Geth company while he was doing his tree-hacking. The trees are growing quite quickly at the moment, but Geth is doing a good job of keeping them trimmed back. The grass in both gardens is a bit parched, though, so we need to get a sprinkler attachment for the hose next time I take the car for a spin to B&Q!

After all of that, I’ve not had time for much else today. Will get back to the coding tomorrow.

Plant in garden
I know very little about plants and so I’ve no idea what this thing is called, but the flowers on it are very pretty.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alvin & The Chipmunks – ‘We’re The Chipmunks’
Henry Mancini – ‘The Pink Panther Theme’
Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’
Tyler Lyle – ‘Lost And Found’ [The Midnight Remix]
RingFit Adventure – ‘Warmup Theme’
Sesame Street – ‘Sesame Street Theme’
Duran Duran – ‘White Lines’

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Michael Land – ‘Monkey Island Main Theme’

More miles

I did a long run this morning…

…because I’d woken up too late to do it yesterday. Back to regular long run Sunday this coming weekend I hope!

I had a fairly good weekend, though a bit busier than I would have liked due to things not getting done during the week. I’m going to try extra hard to get everything done properly this week so that I can have a properly chilled weekend again.

Today has just been running and editing, and I expect tomorrow will be similar, if a little less tough on the legs!

Bluebells
Bluebells are to May what cherry-blossom is to April.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Traditional – ‘Bonnie Ship The Diamond’
Steve Kirk – ‘KSCUM 198.7 FM’

Two metres, please

I managed a slightly longer run this morning…

…and felt so much better for it! My shoulder pain seems to have subsided for now, although I will be putting it to the test with a bit more yoga later today. I’m hoping to get out for some longer runs over the weekend as well.

It’s a bit busy inside my head at the moment, and I feel like my creative ideas are not keeping their two metres of social distance apart from each other (or, you know, two centimetres, or whatever the correct scale is for inside your brain). I’m not working on as many creative projects as I usually am – I’m having a few months’ break from prose fiction writing in order to refresh (and it’s probably working because I miss my characters BADLY); I’m not writing as much poetry as usual due to poetry night having gone virtual like everything else (although I did enjoy writing my short verse today for the group poem we’re doing this month!); my adventure game creation process is currently in a drawing-bad-graphics phase rather than a writing-interactive-fiction phase; and I’m not actively seeking out writing competitions and submission requests and the like because it was starting to stress me out by the end of last year.

It’s good to take a semi-break, especially in the current circumstances (many writers have blogged more eloquently than me about the fact that a pandemic does not actually make for an efficient writing period, despite all the additional free time, because the ever-present sense of dread is something of a distraction). However, I’ve always found that if I don’t get my ideas out, they rattle around in my brain, and at the moment there are a lot of them in there.

I think I just need a couple of days to write freeform and see what happens. Maybe next week, if work is still quiet.

I’m looking forward to the weekend (such as it is) now. Geth and I will be doing the parkrun quiz tomorrow morning and taking a trip to the now-reopened B&Q on Sunday in order to get more gravel for the garden and stretch the car’s wheels (I’ve not turned on the engine since we returned from Inverness last month, and I know it needs to be done every now and then). I’ll be doing a couple of scenic runs and not thinking about the parallel universe and my parallel self’s trip to London. And, of course, I’ll be playing a lot of videogames.

As I mentioned last weekend, I won’t be doing diary posts tomorrow or Sunday – I’ll be sharing my running vlogs, though, and I’ve got a couple of review posts that will be going up. I’ll be back on Monday to update you all on my continued lockdown adventures 🙂

Cherry blossom
Today’s run was another sunny adventure with bright blue skies and beautiful blossom everywhere. This spring has been so good to us weather-wise.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Toto – ‘Africa’
Pulp – ‘Common People’
Survivor – ‘Eye Of The Tiger’
Timecop1983 and Primo – ‘My DeLorean’
Yasunori Mitsuda – ‘Elysium, In The Blue Sky’
Chaka Khan – ‘Ain’t Nobody’

Technical difficulties

I went for a slower recovery run today…

…because I did a longer run yesterday, and am planning to do another one tomorrow, so I needed a sort-of ‘rest’ day today. It was really sunny, and the blossom round here is beautiful at the moment, so I stopped to take a lot of pictures.

I’ve spent most of today updating my gaming PC and trying to set up the SteamLink Hardware that my friend Sharpy got me as a birthday gift a few years back. We’ve just about got it working but not quite – we need an extra keyboard and mouse so that the PC doesn’t get disgruntled about its lack of input controls while we’re using the peripherals for the SteamLink box. Geth has ordered a set to be delivered tomorrow (he is extremely keen to play XCOM 2 on the big TV screen), so fingers crossed it should all be running smoothly by tomorrow evening.

A blog admin note: I’m going to be trying something different this week. I’ll be doing my usual diary posts on Monday to Friday (along with my usual Phone Box Thursday post), but for next weekend’s posts, I’m going to catch up with some of the review posts I’ve been meaning to do for months, post a couple of links to my running videos over the weekend, and then do a big diary update on the Monday. This serves a twofold purpose: it enables me to get my main weekend posts done in advance; and it means that I can finally start doing my review posts again (I’ve only really had the time to do one post per day recently, which is why my reviews haven’t been getting done). I’m looking forward to getting some posts out about gigs and parkruns and races again!

I’ll be videogaming as usual this evening, though obviously not on the SteamLink box just yet.

Dark blossom
The ‘second’ blossom tree in our garden (the one that blossoms later, with darker blossom) is doing really nicely now.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Cast of The Little Mermaid – ‘Daughters Of Triton’
Kylie Minogue – ‘I Should Be So Lucky’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Mako Reactor’
Nobuo Uematsu – ‘Let The Battles Begin!’

Making the most of time

Just a mile today…

…because I wanted to get home quickly and get on with today’s projects. I’ve done a whole separate post about my current adventures in creating game graphics, which is my main focus this week. It’s a lot of fun but also takes a long time!

I find that my hobbies have sort of expanded to fill my current additional free time, and am starting to worry that once this lockdown is over, I’ll go back to feeling like I never have enough time for the things I love doing. One thing that I definitely need to do (and this has been a bit of a theme recently) is learn to let go of the things in life that I’m not enjoying but instead just doing out of obligation.

Tomorrow should be a really good day – I’ll be doing my special run for RED day 100, then a bit of day job work, and then Easter weekend can begin. It’ll be a fairly unusual Easter weekend given the circumstances, but I’m still looking forward to a few days relaxing and the occasional bit of chocolate.

Spring flowers
Today’s bit of garden progress: more spring flowers have appeared. Due to the current situation, I’m appreciating our garden a lot more than usual!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Takeru Kanazaki – ‘Fódlan Winds (Thunder)’
Glenn Miller – ‘In The Mood’
Adam & The Ants – ‘Prince Charming’
Cast of The Jungle Book – ‘I Wanna Be Like You (The Monkey Song)’
Michael Land – ‘The Swamp’