A quiet Wednesday

A midweek-length run today…

…and a fairly good afternoon of admin before I headed off to ukulele class this evening. We learnt (-ish) a new song, so I’ve got lots to practise over the half term break.

It’s weigh-in tomorrow, and I’ve had another good week, so fingers crossed…

Keeping warm, 1985
Winter layers in 1985! I wasn’t quite as wrapped up as this today, but it wouldn’t have been a bad idea – it’s really nippy out there at the moment.

Del Amitri – ‘Nothing Ever Happens’
Frankie Miller – ‘Caledonia’
Sacre – ‘The London Marathon’
Carl Orff – ‘Gassenhauer’
Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
The Midnight – ‘Collateral’
Justin Bieber – ‘Love Yourself’

Open day

After this morning’s run…

…I spent the afternoon at the Newcastle University Postgraduate Open Day in order to find out about doing a Masters in creative writing. It was odd sitting in lecture halls and listening to talks. Other than the odd occasion when I’ve sat in on Geth’s evening lectures, I haven’t been in lecture halls since I graduated in 2008!

It was a really interesting afternoon though. I spoke to a few students who are currently doing the course, went on a tour of the facilities, and attended a couple of general talks on studying at Newcastle and funding sources. I went away with a huge amount of bumpf to read and a lot of things to look into over the next few days!

I then headed to ukulele class, which was as fab as ever. Really enjoying the songs we’re doing this term.

It’ll be another busy day tomorrow, as I need to catch up with day job work in between going to weigh-in and the gig that Geth and I are attending in the evening.

Tote bag
I also got a free tote bag to carry all my open day bumpf in. I don’t really need any more of these, but I always appreciate a nice goodie bag!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Vangelis – ‘Chariots Of Fire’
Stinx – ‘Why Do You Keep On Running Boy’*
Del Amitri – ‘Nothing Ever Happens’

*For the uninitiated (i.e. those who weren’t living in Scotland around the turn of the millennium), this was a parody of Britney Spears’ ‘…Baby One More Time’ that featured in a legendary HEBS (Health Education Board for Scotland) advert from 2000, aimed at discouraging teenagers from smoking. The advert was renowned as being absolutely genius (I did a day of work experience at the BBC during this period and they were all raving about it), and I sang the song in the school corridors every breaktime with my pals for about three months solid.

Didn’t discourage me from smoking, though.

Worth a watch if you’ve never seen it, if only for some prime nostalgia:

Running over the hump day

I had a REALLY good run this morning. Midweek middling distance, which is four miles at the moment, and I felt I was able to get a bit of speed up in the second half. Lovely mild morning for it too – really hoping we don’t revert to ice and snow during February and March.

It’s weigh-in eve so I’m making slow cooker curry (with neeps rather than tatties as Geth and I tend towards SP (low carb) meals on Tuesdays and Wednesdays). The house smells lovely as a result!

Slightly sleepy after my run, so while I am looking forward to ukulele class tonight, I’m also looking forward to getting home afterwards and curling up with some YouTube and videogames.

Slow cooker curry
Not an OOTD: curry in the early stages of slow cooking. I promise you it smells better than it looks 😀

Today’s earworm playlist:

Revo – ‘Ship Upon The Open Skies’
Russ Abbot – ‘Atmosphere’
Lady Gaga – ‘Always Remember Us This Way’

The best workplace

While my job isn’t perfect (freelancing can be a bit stressful in terms of workload or lack of it), I always feel very lucky to be able to work from home. No time wasted commuting, a comfy work area that I create myself, and if I get an urgent email from a client first thing in the morning needing something back within the next half hour, I can shuffle downstairs in my pyjamas and get it done straight away before I get ready for the day. It really is the best setup for me.

(It’s probably the preferred setup for most people, which is why Geth works from home too whenever he doesn’t have any classes or meetings, as is the case today. It’s nice having the company, and I’ve learnt over the years to tune out the fact that he thinks out loud 🙂 )

Today has been another good productive day of running, day job work and admin. Looking forward to the same tomorrow, just with a longer midweek run and a bonus ukulele class.

Winter trees
Not an OOTD: besides, winter trees are nicer to look at from the comfort of home.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Monty Norman – ‘James Bond Theme’
Hiroki Morishita – ‘Duty’
Rei Kondoh – ‘Storm Clouds’
The Midnight – ‘Kick Drums And Red Wine’
Sidney Samson and Wizard Sleeve – ‘Riverside (Let’s Go)’
Vera van Heeringen – ‘Riverside House’

The right boxes

I’ve been finding for the last few years that my necessity to log everything and have it all neatly filed away, as well as my propensity towards daily streaks in order to build habits, has become more and more all-consuming, to the point where life admin takes up an alarming chunk of my day. It gets quite stressful when I find myself falling behind on any of these things, and so it becomes necessary at this time of year to look at all the stuff I’ve got going on and have a bit of a cull. That’s tomorrow’s job… because in order to reorganise the to-do list I have to do the admin of catching up with the to-do list first! It makes sense inside my head. Honestly.

I had a really good midweek run this morning. I remember this time last year I was really struggling with the longer runs in the early part of marathon training, but this time round I’m actually finding that I’m quite impatient to increase the mileage! I think it’s because I’ve had a bit of a mental shift as a result of doing my gentle mile on rest days – it’s keeping me enthused without burning me out, and it means that I’m not dreading runs or putting them off till later in the week (because if I have to go out and run at least one mile anyway, then I might as well do the extra ones I have scheduled!).

Ukulele class tonight, so have been practising this afternoon. Some good tunes so far this term.

Plastic folders
Not an OOTD: my ukulele papers are all in order for the first time since last May. It’s really nice to have everything in the right boxes… it just takes a lot of work and upkeep!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘What Happens Tomorrow’
Tomohito Nishiura – ‘Puzzles’
Tinchy Stryder and N-Dubz – ‘Number 1’
Britney Spears – ‘Oops!… I Did It Again’
Lady Gaga – ‘Always Remember Us This Way’

Stepping out

I had a good weather window for my run this morning – no ice, no rain – so the only annoyance en route were the endless roadworks at the nearby roundabout, which have circled back round to the point where they get in the way of my mile route again! It got stormy again this afternoon, so I’m glad I got some fresh air while it was still dry.

Have spent the rest of the day editing for clients and catching up with admin. Another quiet evening in tonight before my midweek run and ukulele class tomorrow.

Birthday gifts
Not an OOTD: also nice to receive a belated birthday present in the post today. No note to say whom it’s from but I have my suspicions!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Lady Gaga – ‘Always Remember Us This Way’
Cast of Mary Poppins – ‘Chim Chim Cheree’
B*Witched – ‘Blame It On The Weatherman’


Geth has been working from home today, so we’ve got back into our home workplace groove, with lots of synthwave in the background but no other distractions. I did my first midweek run of the marathon training plan this morning, and then spent the afternoon editing for a client. I’m off to ukulele class this evening!

When I get back I’ll be finishing off my nails (had to take off my New Year polish and cut them short this afternoon so that they don’t get in the way of ukulele-playing), chilling out with some videogames, and hoping that four days back on plan has been enough for an okay-ish result at Slimming World weigh-in tomorrow morning.

Nail varnish
Not quite an OOTD: nail colours ready to be put on later tonight.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Harry Styles – ‘Lights Up’
Monty Python – ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’
Spice Girls – ‘Spice Up Your Life’

Approaching normality

It’s nice to have ‘normal’ days again now Christmas is over. After my run this morning, I got a chunk of housework done, then a bit of day job work, then a couple of hours videogaming.

It’ll be another fairly busy day tomorrow, not least because ukulele class is starting again! I’m excited to see what songs we’ll be learning this term.

Energy gels
Not an OOTD: Geth has bought these energy gels for us to try out in our long race training. I had one this morning and they’re sickly sickly sweet haha! Going to have another go on my long run on Sunday now that I know I don’t hate the taste.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Unflinchable Courage’
Teletubbies – ‘Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh’
Japan – ‘I Second That Emotion’
Sidney Samson and Wizard Sleeve – ‘Riverside (Let’s Go)’
Robbie Williams – ‘Rudolph’
The Carpenters – ‘Close To You’

New Year’s Resolutions 2019: the outcome

So, on the 1st of January 2019, I wrote a post about all my resolutions for the year. Let’s see how those turned out…

February 2019
Some winter snow in February.

1. Finish sorting out the house contents.

Uh… not a good start to the list. I don’t think I got anything done in this area. It’s now a resolution for 2020, and apparently one that I need to prioritise.

2. Write 500,000 words in 2019…

I absolutely smashed this one, writing approximately 875,000 words in 2019.

3. …and edit and pitch all the words I’ve already written.

I pitched my 2011 middle grade/young adult novel to twenty more agents, and none of them bit, though a couple did say they liked it. I also submitted poetry and short stories to a lot of magazines and competitions – again there was no success there. I just have to keep trying in 2020. I’ve already identified the novel project I’m going to be pitching this next year, and it should be in a submittable state by the spring.

4. Take weekends off.

Hahaha! Well, I’ve been slightly more successful than usual in not doing day job work at weekends, but only slightly. Writing and admin is another story – the to-do list just slips and slips and slips throughout the week and it’s never all done by Friday. I’m not really sure if this is something that can ever be changed.

5. Buy fewer clothes.

I was pretty successful in this area! I only bought stuff I actually needed (well, maybe the Duran Duran t-shirts weren’t exactly necessary, but they’re very nice). I don’t even feel the need to go out to every single vintage fair anymore.

6. Run a marathon.

Done and dusted! Of course, circumstances conspired to ensure that I’ll be doing it a second time in 2020…

7. Perform some of my poetry in public.

I was convinced that this one wouldn’t happen, but it did – eight times! I don’t even feel nervous about doing it anymore, which would have seemed totally impossible to me this time last year.

8. Get sober.

I got sober on the 5th of January 2019, and so I am very nearly at my one-year anniversary. While I’m very proud of myself for getting this far, I recognise that sobriety is a lifelong process, and so I can’t get complacent about it or think that the work is done. I’ll continue to utilise the great online and offline support communities that I’ve found, and to take more care of my own mental health.

9. Get back into the habit of music practice.

Rather optimistically, I thought I’d be able to make a multi-instrumentalist of myself in 2019. I’ve only really had time for my ukulele, but I’m really pleased with how it’s gone. I’ve done three terms of classes at the Sage Gateshead, moving from the absolute beginner to the beginner to the intermediate class, and with the intermediate class I really feel that I’ve found my level. Looking forward to class starting again next week! I also love that I can just find tabs online and teach myself new songs.

10. Actually play some videogames.

This didn’t really happen until about September, but I have been able to get some decent videogaming time in during the last few months of the year. It’s something I love, and I have lots of new ones to play, so hopefully there’ll be even more of this in 2020!

Plus some unexpected bonus achievements…

The first unexpected thing I did this year was buying my car in May and properly getting back into driving again! I’d been meaning to buy a car for years, but I’d been hugely procrastinating about it because it seemed so complicated and I’d always been such a nervous driver before. Having a calmer temperament now that I’m sober has really helped with my driving, and I feel much more confident about it now that I’m getting so much practice in.

The second was starting to learn to code in the autumn. It had always been something I was interested in, due to my twin loves of retro stuff and videogames, but it was only this year that I finally got into it thanks to some of the ’80s Twitter accounts I follow discussing the Adventuron system (for creating illustrated ’80s-style text adventure games) in August. I was able to take part in a couple of game jams in the autumn and improve my game development skills, and I even wrote an Adventuron game for NaNoWriMo (or half of one, anyway – I’ll be finishing it in the first part of 2020, along with a few other games I have ideas for). I also started learning to program in BASIC in preparation for getting the BBC Micro up and running again. I have a lot more coding goals for the next year, but I’ll discuss those in detail in my New Year Resolutions 2020 post tomorrow!

Gradually getting back to normal

I sort of don’t want to say I’m feeling better, because every time I do, I feel like I’m jinxing myself for another setback… but I have felt a lot better so far today, and I’ve managed to get a lot of stuff done without making myself feel ill again, so I’m feeling hopeful.

I had a bit of day job work to do during the day, and have also managed to get in some ukulele practice. Christmas decorations are very nearly finished as well!

I’m out and about again the next couple of days, so I’m really hoping I’ve recovered enough not to make myself unwell again.

Christmas mug
Not an OOTD: the Christmas mugs are out. Hot drinks are very welcome in my current state!

Today’s earworm playlist:

David Essex – ‘A Winter’s Tale’
The Justice Collective – ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’
Kuana Torres Kahele, James Ford Murphy and Napua Greig-Nakasone – ‘Someone To Lava’
Pretenders – ‘2000 Miles’
Sam Bailey – ‘Skyscraper’