Living the Dream – 58. Summer Living

Summer living is what we came to Cyprus for. Almost endless sunshine, blue skies and warm weather.

Heat

Having lived here before, I had warned Mags that the height of summer can be uncomfortable. Therefore, we both awaited July and August with a degree of trepidation. The season, has thus far, been mild. There have been some blazing hot, humid days, but not as many as we might expect.

When the heat is on, we have adapted our routines. We rise early, and retire late. We either work or golf in the morning and then rest in the heat of the afternoon. That’s fine, until I look at the impact on my productivity.

Golf

We return from the course between 2 and 3 in the afternoon. I restock the water bottles, get the washing machine working and then collapse, either on a chair or in bed. By the time that I’m functioning again, its dinner and/or social time.

I have found myself playing “social” golf, three times a week – with some competitions on top. That means three or four days per seven, I’m not getting to my businesses or my other projects. That’s too much. I either have to find a way for golf not to wipe out an entire day, or play less. Dang it.

Working

If I am not off to the golf course, then after a swim, I get down to the office bright and early to get some work done. The mornings are highly productive. My energy levels have always been best at the start of the day, and the availability of a home-office means that I can get going very quickly and go straight through to around 1pm. I have another swim, a bite to eat and then a nap.

Epiphany

Writing this post, my inner-voice (Siegfried) has been screaming, “play golf in the afternoon, muppet!” Siegfried has a point.

Most of our playing partners are retired, and play in the mornings. Afternoon golf will likely be just the two of us – from a buggy, but even if I reclaimed one weekday morning, that’s a 50% increase of prime productivity time.

There – even if nobody reads this post, the writing of it has helped me make an improvement to summer living.

Appetite

A welcome impact of the heat is that I am rarely hungry during daylight hours. That’s good for calorie control. Unfortunately, there are few pleasures better than a cold beer on a warm night, and that is definitely not good for calorie control!

Conclusion

Summer living is awesome. I know that any challenges are ones that I am very lucky to have – and now, if I start moving some golf into the afternoon, then I can claim a huge positive impact of writing this blog.

Thank you.

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Living the Dream. 57. Hydration

Hydration eh? How’s that for a snappy title? If you live in a hot climate, hydration takes on an importance that comes as a bit of a surprise.

Golf

I play golf. There are three common ways of getting yourself around a golf course. The first is to rent a golf buggy. A natty little two seater vehicle upon which you buzz from shot to shot, saving yourself the majority of walking about that golf can entail. The second is to use an electric trolley. This takes the strain of your golf bag and clubs, allowing you to walk unencumbered. The third, and oldest method, is to sling your clubs onto your back and walk.

Part of the reason that I play is for exercise, so I prefer the third method. It’s tiring, but I’m happy with that.

Heat

However, in very hot weather, it becomes harder. Heat, humidity, and walking makes for a lot of sweating. Consequently, I need to take on a lot of water. This has two drawbacks. One, I have to carry this water, and frankly, water is heavy. Two, a cycle begins. I sweat more, and drink more. As I continue to sweat, the water carries with it minerals and the like. Apparently, these minerals and salts are vital in allowing your body to rehydrate. So, if you’ve sweated them out, you’re in trouble. Regardless of how much water you take on, you will become dehydrated. Your decision-making process will suffer, you may start hallucinating and even pass out. None of those things is good for your golf, nor indeed your health.

Hydration

Sensible people advise me to hire a buggy during the summer months, but I would rue the lack of walking. I tried a couple of times this week, but I miss the exercise. Therefore, I have rehydration tablets which I drop into some of my water bottles. These contain the mineral and salts that allow my body to make use of the water.

This seems to do the trick – although many people still shake their heads at the sight of me striding to the first tee, golf bag on my back. Of course, that might be my brightly coloured golf-knickers…

Incidentally, a hydration tablet is a fabulous hangover cure…#lifehack

Living the Dream – 51. Back on Track

Everything is back on track.

Returned

Margaret has returned, bringing the elves with her. The house looks tidier, smells nicer and everything is where it should be. Both Spice and I have a spring in our step.

Temporary?

But for how long? One of Margaret’s closest friends is at the bedside of her mother, who will pass away today after a sudden illness. That’s a punch of perspective in the face. Mags is considering whether she should be getting back on a plane. Spice and I have both declared that we’ll manage; with practice, we’re improving.

Review

My ten days of golf, (which was actually eight days, one hiking day and one rest day) were lots of fun. I am fitter, striking the ball better and even managed to avoid rehydrating with beer. Whilst I feel spritely, my trousers are still tighter than I would like; having dealt with the ‘move more’ part of the equation, I now need to face the ‘eat less’ part. Boo.

Time

I love playing golf, and it is a great way of getting exercise that is appropriate for a round middle-aged man. But, my, it takes a long time. Let me explain.

  1. Commute. The course is 25 minutes drive away. So, if I’m due on the tee at 0800, I leave the house at 0700. This will require me to getup at 0530 / 0600 to get Spice exercised and fed.
  2. A round takes anything between 3.5 and 5 hours. Usually 4 to 4.5. So, I’m coming off the course around 1230.
  3. It’s traditional to raise a glass with your flight, and I’ll take the opportunity to order some lunch too. That’ll take me to 1330 / 1400.
  4. Half an hour home. 1430 / 1500.
  5. Play with Spice, get a wash on and have a swim and shower. Hang the washing out to dry. 1530 / 1600.

At this point, I’m ten hours into my day and pretty tired. A nap looks much more attractive than any work.

Add in dinner and some TV, my day is done. I need to get back on track with work.

Balance

So – much though I love playing golf, there is no way in the world that I can sustain playing every day or close to it. “Poor you”, I hear you think. You’re right, this is not a first world problem, it’s a privileged, entitled, complete non-problem.

It has taught me that a “leisure-only” lifestyle does not appeal to me. I missed working, I missed “margin”, by which I mean, time that is not assigned to anything specific.

There we are. Pushing fifty, and I’ve worked out that life requires balance. Better late than never, I suppose. Time to get back on track.

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Writer’s Block

The Situation

Whether writer’s block is a thing or not, is beyond my pay grade. I do know that I haven’t done any writing for a week or more.

Why not?

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Book? What book?

Book

It’s been quiet on the book front this week. By quiet, I mean that I have been writing for the blog, for Nero’s Notes and for the jobby-job. Not one word has been written on Sean.

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Done not perfect

I’m on a roll with golf. So, I’m going to draw another parallel.

The first time I played a whole round of golf, I was not very good. I had fun, hit a decent shot or two, but the round was a long way from a masterpiece. Why would it be for heaven’s sake? It was my first attempt. However, I had proved that I could complete a round, and even keep score. I had shown signs of potential.

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Living the Dream – 42. Golf in the sun

Golf in the sun

Both Mrs L and I play golf. Annoyingly, her swing is much better than mine, but I don’t tell her that and I don’t think that she reads the blog, so keep it to yourself. The opportunity to play a lot of golf in the sun was a definite incentive to make a life here in Cyprus.

Choice

There are four golf courses easily accessible to us and we tried all of them before settling on Secret Valley Golf Club as our choice. We can walk the course, which is important to us. Contrary to some people’s belief, golf is exercise; it’s essentially a long walk, punctuated by swings of a club. You can remove much of the walking by hiring a buggy that you drive around the course, but neither of us enjoys that mode of play.

Membership

Of all the courses, this one felt the most like a members club, one where we might make friends. A golf club is as much a social hub as a sporting one and we are drawing on the collective experience of our fellow members. I’m getting a great deal of advice where to buy a lemon tree, for example. Best Doctor? Dentist? Hairdresser? Information like this is invaluable and readily available in the bar. Despite feeling like a members club, Secret Valley is not. It’s a proprietary club. It was built as the anchor for a development of villas, targeted at retirees and holiday makers. When the financial crisis hit, most of the development was postponed indefinitely, and the property now belongs to a Bank, presumably repossessed. From time to time, buggy convoys of suits are toured around the course; potential buyers, I suspect.

United Nations

We have been surprised by the breadth of nationalities represented in the membership. In a recent competition, I found myself playing alongside a Swede. A Russian and a Cypriot. It sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it? The United Nations of Golf.

Living the Dream

Of all of the aspects of #livingthedream, golf is one element that has gone superbly. Mrs L’s handicap is tumbling, she is part of two fun groups and enjoying herself immensely. I’m getting to play both with her for fun and in competitions alone and feel comfortable with the majority of the members. I have even represented the club in a match.

Happy Days.

Golfing Gods

Regular readers know that I play golf. Living here, it’s a great excuse to be out in the sun, breathing fresh air and burning some calories.

Of late, I have not been striking the ball well, nor putting well. The strongest part of my game has definitely been the drinking of beer in the club house.

Background

At Secret Valley Golf Resort, where I play, there are regular competitions, and these competitions are drawn – that is to say, you don’t get to pick with whom you play. Such is the traditional way. As a new member, this helps me meet new people. Five hours on the course provides plenty of opportunity to get to know someone. On the flip side, I am inevitably more nervous playing with people I don’t know. Still, I have entered a few competitions now, and know a few more faces. Most members know me by sight, (Plus-twos and bright stockings probably help with that), and as a result, I’m more comfortable.

Saturday last was the monthly medal. I was scheduled to play with three gentlemen, only one of whom I had played with before.

For context, my handicap is 13. So, par for the course is 71, add the 13 and on a good day, I should complete the course in 84 shots.

Golfing Gods

Something happened. I hit a good drive on the first hole, pitched close, and holed a putt for a birdie three. Starting with a birdie usual foreshadows disaster, but hey, anything is possible. The Golfing Gods were smiling upon me. As I stood on the 8th tee, I was one over gross par, so several shots better than my handicap.

Disaster struck. I pulled my drive, and watched as it crossed the boundary of the penalty area and disappeared under a bush.

I took a penalty drop at the point the ball crossed the line. The ball was quite severely above the level of my feet (which promotes a hook), and the flag is 152 yards away. This hole had the potential to be a disaster and to sink the round. I have, in the past, from a similar lie, hooked the shot, losing a second ball, having to take an additional penalty and running up a big number. Still, I know what the risk is, so I adjust my grip, my aim, and focus on hitting a smooth 7 iron.

I hit a good one. Smooth, the right shape and in the right direction. A playing partner, from a good vantage point called out:

“Shot! Oh. That’s close… Wait! …It’s in!”

When it’s your day, it’s your day. A potential disaster had become a birdie 3. Moving my score to gross par. For good measure, I added a birdie on the 9th meaning that at the turn, I was under the card. By some measure, the best scoring nine holes I have ever played.

On the back nine, I was nervous, and however hard I tried to play one shot at a time, the score kept echoing in my mind. I was dropping shots thorough a lack of commitment. Ultimately, I did pull myself together and finished the round on 77 shots. 7 shots better than a good day.

Result

April Medal winner. A tumbler, a voucher for a meal for two in a local restaurant and a whole 6 euro for my 2 on the 4th. My handicap index is cut from 14.7 to 12.6, meaning next medal I’ll be getting 11 shots rather than 13.

Most important of all, a rekindled belief that I can play golf, that I can become a single figure handicapper. This belief buoys me along, puts a smile on my face and will almost certainly last only until the next time I play.

Every golfer knows, the game will reassert its dominance over me at the very next opportunity. Whatever happened, will un-happen.

The beer game will stay strong though.

Writing Secret

I wrote last week about the depths I plumb to avoid actually moving the book forward. I immediately set to work rectifying that, and edited the first couple of scenes of the novel.

Hurrah!

 

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Living the Dream -37. Distraction

If you have been following along, then you know that the dream did not begin as we had hoped. There has been a period of recovery and re-thinking, for both of us. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, life happens. However, distraction becomes a habit, and like most habits, it can be tough to break.

Distraction

I have allowed myself to become victim to distraction. Don’t get me wrong, I have been busy, too busy in fact. I have been focused on the wrong things. Let me explain.

We are building a new life, in a new country. We are in the extremely privileged position of being able to choose this course. Mags and I were not forced to come here, nor are we forced to stay. It’s our choice.

Distraction made me forget that. The most important thing that I need to be doing is focusing on “why” we are here, rather than “how’ we are here. We came here for the amazing climate (and one wet winter is weather, not climate) and the opportunity to craft a lifestyle that was healthy and relaxed. Let me use health as an example.

Healthy Living

  1. Fruit and vegetables are incredible here. I love them. Yet I seem to be eating more chips (French fries) and biscuits (cookies).
  2. Beer here is frankly, not great. Gassy and tasteless. Water is lovely. Yet I’m drinking more beer, and less water.
  3. I love to walk. Cyprus winter is perfect walking weather. Yet I have barely walked at all.
  4. Swimming. Sure, the pool is cold, (comparatively) but once I stopped my morning swim, in October, I have stopped entirely.
  5. An office downstairs meant that I could corral work into intentional time slots and close the day down, yet I find myself working in the kitchen, in the living room, everywhere.
  6. Golf. I have a membership that allows me to play as often as I wish. A beautiful course, and wonderful conditions. Yet I play less than I did in the UK.

Lesson

First conclusion is that I need to have a serious word with myself. However, what’s interesting is how easy it was to lose sight of why I’m here, what I’m trying to achieve. Yes, we have been presented with more challenges than we envisaged. Yes, I have achieved some good things, but what I haven’t been doing is focusing on building the life that we want.

A lesson learned.

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