Members 77. Routines

To borrow from gender: (What could possibly go wrong with this analogy?) I present as an extrovert, but identify as an introvert. For months, I have been secure in the mountain hideaway, sallying forth weekly to the supermarket and pharmacy. Sure, I’ve had a lot to do, but my destiny has been in my own hands. I have been responsible for everything in my world, my authority absolute.

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Living the Dream 85. – A new normal?

Update

In my little bubble, much is happening.

I watch, incredulous, the events in the US. I wrote earlier in the week, how I felt. I hope this is a watershed.

The Patient

Mrs L battles on with her back, slowly climbing the steep slope of recovery. Our thanks for all the good wishes from readers.

The Virus

Covid-19. Cyprus continues to progress through a relaxation-in-stages. The beaches are open, bars and restaurants too. Malls open on Monday, along with the airports. (Certain countries only.)

Touch wood, we have got away very lightly. As of the 4th of June, the figures are,

958 people infected. (794 per million of population)
17 deaths (14 per million of population)

For comparison, Italy’s infection rate is 3,867 per million and death rate 556 per million.

The Transition

Mags getting better, lockdown getting easier: I’m off to the golf course. This has brought me face to face with a whole new set of awkwardness.

My friend said,

“I’ll pick you up.”

“Ummm…I’d rather not.” I mumbled.

“We’re allowed two in a car, now.”

“Sure, but, no thanks.”

I’m still of a social distancing mindset. I understand the desire for normality to return, but in my view, the virus has not changed, there is no cure, and still no vaccine.

I look forward to seeing my friends on the golf course, in the bar, and at the restaurant. I’ll laugh, wave and give a hearty “What-ho!”. I don’t think I’ll be touching or getting overly close to anyone.

The new normal

How long will I feel like that? I don’t know. I’m nervous about bringing the virus home, but I’m also scared of passing it on outside. To me, maintaining social distancing is a low price to pay for keeping the virus on the back foot.

I’m fascinated to see how this will unfold. I’ve already heard from friends, uneasy about mutual acquaintances mingling in large groups.

Will we refrain from touching now? No more handshakes, no more cheek kisses?

Gesundheid!

I imagine that we will all become gradually more relaxed as time goes by, but what happens when someone sneezes? Or is reported to be “in bed with a cold”?

We need to rewrite the entire etiquette.

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Going Solo 20. Balance

Balance is important. I sometimes get the impression that people perceive Going Solo as a way of filling every waking hour with work.

Loving Mondays

For me, it’s the opposite. I want to choose how I spend my time, entirely. How do you feel about Monday mornings? I love mine. Absolutely adore them. In fact, I love Monday from start to finish. Usually, people hear this and it confirms their first impression that I am completely nuts. Nobody sane likes Mondays. The weekend is over. Fun stuff has stopped, it’s time to work again. So, why do I love that?

Why?

Simple. I don’t do it. I wake up on Monday morning and go play golf. That’s how I get away from the “back to work” feeling. I don’t go back to work. Initially, my intention was to play golf, then get going into the work-day. Doesn’t work. Why? Two reasons.

1. How I begin my day dictates my mode. I find it difficult to switch from golf to any type of creative work.
2. Fatigue. It’s hot here. I walk the golf course. When I have finished, I want a cold drink, something to eat and a nap. In that order.

Planning

Therefore, I have adjusted my Monday routine. I golf, come home with Mags (she golfs on a Monday too), have lunch and then a nap. I wake, swim and then do an hour or two’s work. Nothing too heavy, mostly planning, catching up – mapping out my week. Then, Mags, Spice and I get in the car and go out for supper and a quiz night with friends.

That’s why I love Mondays. By making most of it a leisure day, but still including some work, it allows me to break into the week gently. I don’t feel guilty about it, because I do plenty of work outside of office hours. For example I record 1857 from 8pm on a Wednesday evening and often work at the weekends.

Balance

Part of Going Solo is being able to choose when I work and to integrate my work with the rest of my life.

Work to live, don’t live to work.

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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.