No room at the inn

My week has been very busy, in the way that a lot of my weeks have been very busy during lockdown. Lots of day job work, lots of working on my own creative projects (writing and coding), a bit of running but not as much as is ideal due to a bad hip, quite a lot of strength training to try and fix said hip, and a lot of playtesting and competition-judging other people’s text adventures (the most fun part of my day and a good way to give back to a community that is giving me so much joy at the moment).

I’ve been working really hard recently and it’s been paying off. There have been a few developments in my editing business that I’ll talk about later in the year, I’m starting to get bits and bobs of writing published, and my text adventures are doing well and getting a good reception. I hit RED day 500 this morning – my 500th day running in a row – which is enabling me to feel like I’m still achieving things with my running even though I’m having a bad time of it with my hip and a general lack of energy at the moment.

All of this has been made possible by the pandemic allowing me to sit on my sofa all day long and get things done. I am one of the people for whom lockdown has, on the whole, been beneficial – of course I’ve had my anxious moments like everyone else, as I really don’t deal well with uncertainty, but in general I have been really, really happy having an excuse to stay home. I’ve realised more than ever that I don’t actually like leaving my house, and that it’s okay not to like leaving your house. The real anxiety I have now is adapting to the world going back to normal again. I’ve said for probably a year now that I won’t just be able to jump back into my life as it was pre-pandemic; there were a lot of things I used to do that, I have realised, caused a lot of unnecessary stress. Constantly going out to group activities and classes, gigs and races every week, travelling every other weekend… I can’t go back to all that. My personal return to normality is going to have to be very gradual, and there are a lot of things I probably never will do again.

Learning to say ‘no’, to myself as much as to anyone else, is probably going to be my biggest challenge this year. I’ve found out how important it is to feel in control of my own time. It’s a precious thing, and I’m not going to give it up.

Lego USB stick
Life is starting to fit into place, gradually.

This week’s earworm playlists:


Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Opening Credits Part #1’
Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’*


Patti Smith – ‘Because The Night’
Dee Cooke – ‘Control Room’


Dee Cooke – ‘Outside Building’
Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Sailor Ain’t A Sailor’


Whitesnake – ‘Here I Go Again ’87’


Fisherman’s Friends – ‘Haul Away Joe’


Pet Shop Boys – ‘Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)’
Duran Duran – ‘Tel Aviv’


Michael Land and Clint Bajakian – ‘Crete’
Duran Duran – ‘Save A Prayer’
Talking Heads – ‘Once In A Lifetime’
Ed Sheeran – ‘Lego House’

*RIP Tawny Kitaen.

Finishing off the month

A fairly hectic week this week as I’ve had a lot of things to get finished before the end of the month. My ear is feeling a lot better after finishing my antibiotics course, and my energy has seemingly returned, so I’ve been able to start improving my running speed again.

My main focus this week has been getting the bulk of the work finished for my current Adventuron jam game. I’ve spent this week finishing off the coding and am looking forward to getting stuck into the graphics over the weekend. I’m really excited about getting everything put together and spending a few days working with playtesters before the deadline!

I’ve also been continuing with my long walks and increased-distance runs, which are really nice now that the spring weather has arrived. It means that I’ve pretty much doubled my pace on the LEJOG challenge I’m doing and should be well on track to finish by the end of the year!

There’s been quite a bit of day job work this week too. Business has picked up a bit recently after last year’s slight COVID slump and I’ve got some important plans for going forward that I’m going to start implementing soon.

Finally, I’ve made sure to get some quality downtime with videogames when possible. I’m still really enjoying Bravely Default II and expect it will take me a good couple of months to finish. So many games on the list afterwards that I can’t wait to play…

I would say I’m hoping that next week will be quieter, but there’s a Camp NaNoWriMo month starting and I expect I’ll end up doing something for that! Maybe not with a super high wordcount this time though…

Jesmond Dene
Still enjoying my spring return to Jesmond Dene!

This week’s earworm playlists:


Bucks Fizz – ‘My Camera Never Lies’
Sting – ‘Englishman In New York’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’


Camila Cabello – ‘Liar’
Captain Ska – ‘Liar Liar Ge2017’
Kevin Gillis – ‘Run With Us’


Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Revo – ‘Savalon’


The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’


Revo – ‘Savalon Desert’
Kirsty MacColl – ‘Days’
Lauv and Troye Sivan – ‘I’m So Tired’
Coldplay – ‘Fix You’
The Midnight and Nikki Flores – ‘Because The Night’


Demi Lovato – ‘Heart Attack’
Jason Derulo and 2 Chainz – ‘Talk Dirty’


Sia – ‘Cheap Thrills’
The Proclaimers – ‘Make My Heart Fly’

Is it too early for a midlife crisis?

I didn’t mind being thirty-five. Not at all.

I was still coasting along with an ‘age doesn’t matter’ attitude, and generally feeling like I was still young and pretty much at the start of my life and there was still plenty of time to achieve all my planned achievements.

Being thirty-six feels different, and I’m not sure why.

Perhaps it’s just that multiple things have hit me in a slightly alarming way recently. First of all, I did a fairly major accounting exercise for my business in January and realised that I can’t just blame the recent slump in takings on COVID-19 (though of course the pandemic has been a factor): it started way before that. I’ve known for some time now that my editing business is not viable by itself as my long-term career. I either need to build up something else on the side (I hoped writing would play this role, but I’m still not making any money from my writing projects) or retrain so that I can move full-time into something else. I had two academic options planned out for retraining at the beginning of 2020, but the pandemic put them on hold. If life had continued as normal, I would have been a lot further ahead with those options right now, and so I really feel at the moment as though I’m paused (not by choice) in my career, and that a considerable amount of time is being wasted while I wait for the world to restart. I’m sure lots of other people are in a similar position.

Secondly, I’ve been struggling with the loud, insistent tick of the biological clock in recent weeks. I have always known that motherhood would not be right for me or my life, and so I have never planned (and still do not plan) to have children. Still, however logical and sound my 1,001 reasons for staying childfree are, there are times when I feel them drowning under the weight of worries like ‘thirty-six is VERY close to forty; you are running out of time to change your mind’ and ‘who is going to inherit your legacy, your family heirlooms and your videogame collection?’ and ‘don’t you WANT to experience this unconditional love that everyone talks about?’ and ‘your husband is a few years older than you and you are bad at maintaining friendships due to your introversion; you will quite likely spend the last few years of your life alone and unloved’. I will stick to my plan because I know it’s the right thing to do, but the feelings are hard sometimes.

Accepting the things you can’t change is the sensible and obvious thing to do in life. It’s also really hard work. There are a lot of things I wish were different – a lot of things that I was sure I would have managed to achieve by now – and I constantly feel like I’ve let my past younger self down, and that I’m also letting my future older self down by continuing to fail to achieve stuff (or stuff that was on the ‘list’ anyway… I know there’s a lot of unplanned stuff I can be proud of from over the last few years!), and generally being a bit mediocre.

But the life I have now is the life I have now, and I’m not superhuman (even though the mind demons tell me that I COULD be if I just tried a bit harder), and I know I’m doing my best at the moment, and the fact that I didn’t do my best in the past is something that can’t be changed.

Thirty-six is still not sitting right with me, and I’m not sure when it will. But I can’t go backwards, so here we are.

This week has been quite busy and difficult at work, which hasn’t helped. I’m hoping to be able to squeeze in an extra afternoon off on Monday to make it a bit of a long weekend, but we’ll have to see what happens over the next few days.

I’m very nearly at the end of Bravely Second and should finish it over the weekend. I’ve then got the demo of the newly-announced Switch game Project Triangle Strategy to enjoy before Bravely Default II arrives next week!

Running has been short and gentle this week as I’ve been resting a hip/glute twinge. However, my comfortable run speed has increased over the last couple of days, which usually indicates that my legs are up for a nice fast 5k at the weekend. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. I’m also hoping to do a long run on Sunday (maybe eight to ten miles?), though the pace for that will be very sedate indeed as I’ve not done anything over six miles for months and months.

Crossing my fingers for a really quiet week next week! I’ve got various coding things I want to get finished/started, so hopefully I’ll have good news on that front next Friday.

Spiky ball
It’s been a spiky ball kind of week, trying to ease the seized-up muscles in my right hip 🙁

This week’s earworm playlists:


Backstreet Boys – ‘As Long As You Love Me’
The Drifters – ‘Under The Boardwalk’
Will Powers – ‘Kissing With Confidence’


Revo – ‘Sylvan Tranquility’
Ray Charles – ‘Hit The Road, Jack’


Joe Hisaishi – ‘Kokoro No Kakera’ and Cody Wise – ‘It’s My Birthday’
The Black Eyed Peas – ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’
Duran Duran – ‘Five Years’


Canned Heat – ‘On The Road Again’
Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip – ‘I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper’
The Power Station – ‘Some Like It Hot’
Taylor Swift – ’22’


Judy Garland and Lucille Bremer – ‘Meet Me In St Louis’
Tom Lehrer – ‘Christmas Carol’


Ewan MacColl – ‘Dirty Old Town’
Fontella Bass – ‘Rescue Me’
Coldplay – ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’
The Wonder Stuff – ‘A Wish Away’


Mike Hewer – ‘Snowman Party’
Queen – ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’

Last few days of Christmas, and a bit of blog admin

I’ll mostly be doing photo posts this week as I’ll be busy with putting the Christmas decorations away and getting back to work. From next Monday onwards the blog will be back on schedule, though it’ll be a different schedule from what it has been over the last year! With the pandemic continuing to rumble on, life is a bit too quiet for daily diary posts, and so I’ll be doing weekly life updates on Fridays instead. The rest of the week will be dedicated to ramblings about my various hobbies, which remain over-numerous.

I’m excited about a slight change of direction as there are lots of things I want to write about in more detail. More info about this next week (as I haven’t quite finalised everything yet!).

Colourful leggings
The leggings I wore for my birthday yesterday. 2020 was the year of colourful trousers and I do not imagine that will change for 2021!

Today’s earworm playlist:

Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’

Three years blogging… and a reflection on some accidental New Year Resolutions

For years, I didn’t start new habits at New Year – or if I did, they never stuck for very long. However, for the last four years in a row, I have chosen something to focus on every year and have stuck with it. My life is a lot better as a result, and so I’m hoping I’ll be able to stick to my main 2021 goal too.

At the start of 2017, I started going to Slimming World. The accountability of the group setting enabled me to lose the five stone that I’d been trying to lose for nearly a decade, and though I’ve not managed to stay at target during the pandemic, I only have a stone to lose again this next year (which is a lot easier than five!). Life at a healthy weight is immeasurably more physically comfortable and something that I will never take for granted. Once Christmas eating is done, I’ll be back on the light meals again – I’m following a calorie-based approach rather than SW now, but I’ll always be thankful for the motivation it gave me.

At the start of 2018, I started this blog. It was always my aim to blog every day and so sometimes, especially during the empty year of 2020, blogging has felt like a bit of a chore. However, the habit of getting my words out into the world has given me confidence to do so in other ways, such as reading at poetry nights and publishing text adventure games. I love having the blog as it just feels so much more ‘mine’ than social media pages.

At the start of 2019, I got sober. I’ve mentioned this before but I feel so, so incredibly grateful that I managed to do this (and get the first difficult year of sobriety out of the way) *before* the pandemic hit – I really believe that things would have gone nowhere good if I’d still been drinking in 2020. It’s still not easy, but life is so much more stable than it was two years ago, and that has been so important over the last few months.

And at the start of 2020, after four and a half years of more sporadic running, I started a daily run streak. The start of a new decade seemed like a good time to do it, and I just wanted to see how long I could keep it up. Again, this was incredibly well-timed in terms of the pandemic, as I discussed yesterday. Whatever life throws at me, and however long it takes for races to come back, I’ll always have my run streak to keep me motivated.

On to 2021, then, and this year the main focus will be to get my house in order (literally). I already made a good start by spending a few weeks in November/December sorting out all the junk that I’d been hoarding upstairs since we moved in, but there’s a lot more to do, and a lot of daily habits that I need to instil. One of the major negative factors for my mental health is that I constantly feel that my house is dirty and untidy, and so I can never fully relax. Making time for my house projects this year, and keeping on top of the upkeep, will hopefully allow me to feel a lot better.

On a personal level, I’m feeling quite hopeful today. Not for 2021 as a whole, but for one day at a time, which is how I’ve managed all my other big life changes over the last few years.

I’m excited about tomorrow.

Lancashire hotpot
Another day, another New Year recipe I made myself for the first time. Lancashire hotpot is all about the crust, and it came out just right.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Deacon Blue – ‘Queen Of The New Year’
Tears For Fears – ‘Shout’
Abba – ‘Happy New Year’
Traditional – ‘The Blaydon Races’
Beach Boys – ‘Sloop John B’

Lights up

The usual mile today… but I don’t have a vlog to post because I’m only doing them weekly on Sundays now!

I also finished my NaNoWriMo project. It’s been a bit unfocused and piecemeal this year, but at least I managed my 50,000 words and developed some good ideas about what I’m going to write in 2021.

Most of today, though, was spent getting a start on the Christmas decorations. I never usually get them out until the 1st of December, but this year I fancied having them ready to go for when the clock ticked over.

Tomorrow I’m going to have another blitz on the house upstairs. I’d like to get a few more things cleared away this week before I put any decorations up upstairs – it always feels a bit depressing putting decorations up in a cluttered room.

Christmas tree 2020
All ready for December.

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Weeknd – ‘Blinding Lights’
Band Aid – ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

Trying to wind down

The usual daily route today…

…which I’ve accepted is just going to be most days for the rest of the year. I need a break from longer runs for a few more weeks so that I can come back refreshed in January and start building up again.

I spent another afternoon catching up with admin and writing and am now looking forward to a quiet weekend! Back on Monday with another update.

November 2019
November last year. It was the fifth year in a row that I’d somehow ended up in London at some point during the month of November; this year, obviously, I will not be maintaining my streak. I’m hopeful that the marathon will be able to go ahead next October but I don’t see myself having any reason to visit until then.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Eddy Grant – ‘Electric Avenue’


Just a mile (point two) today…

…and I can’t say I’m that enthused about my well-worn route at the moment, but it’s nice to get out for some fresh air every morning.

Not being able to plan things is getting to me a bit at the moment. Obviously Christmas is the most immediate example, but I also feel a bit empty due to sitting here in my house with a giant stack of rescheduled gig tickets and race entries for next year and not knowing whether they’re actually going to happen or if they’ll all be postponed… again. I know people are making a lot of positive noises about vaccines but I’m finding it hard to believe that it will be possible for life to get back to normal next year. The whole situation just feels endless right now.

I’m trying to find small positives day to day, and I’ve got no shortage of hobbies and distractions. It’s just getting a bit hard now that it’s been so long.

I had a really busy afternoon today with day job work and writing. Looking forward to a slightly more relaxed day tomorrow!

Scented candle
‘Tis the season for scented candles. I’m on my last one, though, so I need to pick up some more.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Lady Gaga – ‘The Edge Of Glory’
Walk The Moon – ‘Shut Up And Dance’

Focusing on today

Longest run in a few weeks today!

I’m feeling a bit better about my running, but am going to continue to take it easy until I feel fully recovered.

The rest of the day was a combination of writing and day job work, as well as a bit more work on the house. I’ve been enjoying listening to music again too, so am going to do a bit more of that this evening.

Trying to take things one day at a time at the moment, though the temptation is strong to tie myself in knots thinking about every Christmas contingency. It may be that we don’t know what we’re doing until a few days beforehand, so I need to avoid thinking about it. It’s a shame because the run-up and the excitement is my favourite time of the year, but I just have to hope we can all salvage something when the time comes.

Another busy day tomorrow.

Music has been a nice thing to get back into over the last few days.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Duran Duran – ‘Rio’
Ludwig Göransson – ‘The Mandalorian [Main Theme]’
Walk The Moon – ‘Shut Up And Dance’
Traditional – ‘Carol Of The Bells’
Elton John – ‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’

Never enough projects!

Just a mile this morning…

…as I had a busy day ahead. Run went well though as I’m feeling a bit less fatigued!

I spent most of the afternoon writing and doing day job work, but I’m also trying to spend 30 minutes a day working on the house at the moment. Housework and de-hoarding have taken a real back seat this year (mainly because we haven’t had many visitors, who are usually my main motivation for trying to get the house to look nice!), and I’ve tried various strategies, but none of them have really stuck. One of the ones that didn’t work for me did have a maxim that has stayed in my mind, however: why is it that only visitors deserve to see your house at its best? Keeping on top of the house is really hard for me because there are so many other things that take priority. But I’d like to be more comfortable in my home (especially as I spend 99% of my time in it these days!), and so I’m starting again with yet another online method, despite the many other projects I’m juggling at the present time.

I’ve had a few days off videogaming as there are too many other things going on at the moment. I’m going to carve out some time for it tomorrow evening, though, as it’s absolutely the most relaxing thing I can do for myself.

Christmas loungewear
One more pair of Christmas trousers from the weekend! These are loungewear rather than leggings and they are the comfiest.

Today’s earworm playlist:

Judy Garland – ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
Panjabi MC – ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’
Ludwig Göransson – ‘The Mandalorian [Main Theme]’
Duran Duran – ‘Friends Of Mine’