In which I have a week off

Or nine days, as I like to think of it, because if I was away somewhere, the weekends would be part of the holiday. But mine is a genuine staycation, in my little house, with my kittens. I am spoilt. I will be going away overnight mid-week, gasp, but kipping on my sister’s sofa so I can go to Blackwell’s doesn’t really count.

I haven’t had real time off since March, and then I spent the week watching all the Marvel movies in chronological order. Time well spent indeed, but I do not have an equivalent goal for this week. It’s not that suddenly I became all achievey, but I’m not good with unstructured time. I need balance.

I’m thinking that a target of translating 150 lines of Medea would be good. That doesn’t sound a lot, but that’s about 8 hours at my painfully slow rate, plus goal of at least dimly understanding not only what the translation is but why it’s that. There is only so much time I can focus on Greek before it dissolves into squiggles on a page. I’ve put all my work kit in the loft and my Greek books are on my desk, so every time I walk past I think ‘That play won’t translate itself.’

But today, it turned out that I had to sit on the sofa for most of the day and read a Jack Reacher. This is because just as I was thinking I might move, Belle sat on me. And there she stayed, for hours. And hours. Fortunately the sofa is near the Reacher and O’Brian shelves. At intervals, we’d both move, and then we’d re-settle. Who am I to argue with a cat? I know my place.

In which I am back

Again. I know, more comebacks than someone who has had a lot of comebacks. Don’t ask me, that would be pop culture.

First things first, the cats are flourishing. They are 10 years’ old next week, but obviously they are my tiny kittens and always will be. I’m still working from home, and Belle spends most of her days on my desk, to the point where she’s there by 8.30am because she knows the routine. She is a regular participant in Webex calls, usually flashing her tail across the screen. Charlie is still international cat of mystery, but he’s started sleeping on the armchair in the study. My background noise is Scala radio and kitten snores, and I cannot think of a better one.

Anyone who thinks I’m giving that up to go back to working from an office is fucking deluded.

Still in lockdown, and still fine with it. Yeah, I know that the country has opened up but that’s just dumb given the way that the Delta variant is ripping across the land, so I’m ignoring it. Bozo Johnson can fuck right off, and when he gets there, he can fuck off even further. No, my language has not improved in the intervening year since I last posted.

What has changed? Erm… Greek! Abandoned the idea of doing A-Level, but I kept working through the syllabus for a bit. Did loads of Plato and realised I’d forgotten all non-philosophical Greek, so did unseens and comprehensions for a few months. But now, my tutor and I have agreed that we’ll work through the whole of Medea. I’m about 95 lines in and I love it so much. Translation is magic. Jason, what a bastard, eh? Although Medea is Greek female character least likely to be novelised as part of the current boom in re-writing Greek myth from the female perspective. My vote goes for a novel about Helen, because I think she gets a rough deal. The Trojan War isn’t really her fault, it’s Aphrodite who gave her to Paris as a prize and kicked the whole thing off. Stick that in your agency pitch.

I started working out with a personal trainer in January, over Zoom and once a week. It’s been very effective, not to mention painful and exhausting and far more hard work than I would ever do on my own. Which is entirely the point.

Oh, and I’m blonde again for the first time in roughly 111 years. I liked being grey but then I got bored. I went champagne blonde at Christmas and then couldn’t get a hair cut or colour for 6 months. I had to make the dark roots a feature because there was no hiding them.

WandaVision, Falcon & Winter Soldier and Loki. I am firmly locked in to Disney+ for these. I’m even seeing Black Widow at the cinema. Well, drive-in, which is the ideal cinematic experience, given that it combines the big screen with no other people near you. It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to get us there but thank you Nightflix.

The rest is much the same. I read, I eat biscuits, I sit on the sofa for hours at the time. Musing. All right, dozing. Whatever.

Summer dreams

Not so much ripped at the seams as the months went by in a blur and I have autumn/winter dreams instead. How is it nearly back to school time? I didn’t even buy a new pencil case yet.

Lockdown has eased, so that’s exciting if you want to get out to Wetherspoons for a pint of plague beer. I don’t, so mostly what it means for me is Sainsbury’s are delivering again. Win. No more clicking and collecting. But, I’ve got my Sainsbury’s need down to monthly, I think, basically by buying stuff from a bunch of different places instead.

Partly, that’s because I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of plastic I buy. So:

Toiletries  – From &Keep, everything I’ve had has been great and none of it has come in plastic packaging. So far, I’ve had soaps, shampoo bars, conditioner bars, body lotion, almond oil, non-cotton buds, and bathroom cleaner in a refillable glass bottle.

Milk etc – From Milk & More, as it turns out that a milkwoman delivers to this area. So now my milk is on the doorstep by 6.30am, in glass pint bottles, like ye olden dayes. Along with juice, smoothies, cheese, bread and washing up liquid in a refillable glass bottle. It’s a great service, and they deliver a few times a week.

Deodorant – From Wild, which is a subscription service. You get the reusable, non-plastic container and the first deodorant stick, and then refills turn up whenever they turn up. It works. I walked 20,000 steps today and did a 30 min HIIT workout, so I’m pretty confident it can stand up to my regular daily activity of typing.

Would I be putting all this effort in if I had to trek round various shops? Hell to the no. But what I realised is that when you are in the house for everything to be delivered to you, there is no inconvenience.

I’m also still getting my fruit and veg from the local fruit and veg stand, and for the last couple of weeks I’ve walked there. It’s about 12000 steps round trip, however far that is. Last week I walked through the fields and braved the cows with calves. This week, I risked the road, which isn’t great simply because it’s twisty-turny and you have to pay constant attention to being positioned so that vehicles can see you. But either way it’s doable, and exercise as a byproduct of doing something else useful is my favourite way to make it happen.

I’m trying to figure out if I can get rid of my car, and walk, taxi or hire cars instead. As long as I’m not commuting, this makes total sense, because I barely go out and if I want a car a couple of weekends a month, then hiring one is still cheaper than owning. If I lived in a more urban area, it would be a no brainer but here it requires more thinking about. There’s no local car hire, no Zip car, so every trip would demand a certain amount of logistical planning. But owning even my shitty car demands about £4k a year and I could put that money to much better use.

Like, for example, Forest Christmas! Which is booked for November and if we’re all in another flavour of lockdown again, well, I’ll get a refund. Unbelievably, my employer is still paying out bonuses this year and on that hinges my plan for Other Christmas, which is to fuck off to the Maldives. This may well be a total fantasy and I’ll end up splurging my entire bonus on a medium sized bar of Cadbury’s Whole Nut (the back up plan) but my goodness, I like the idea. I’m not normally a beach person but for once, there’s something about spending a week in a country with predictably good weather, turquoise seas and white sands that is incredibly alluring. I’ll know this week, and I won’t be disappointed either way ‘cos I’m always happy with free money.