As a long time commuter, I know it’s easy to dwell on the negatives of commuting: the cost, the time, the delays, the horror of being rammed next to a stranger closer than you get to most relatives… I will openly admit that the one thing I really wish I could change about my job is my commute. But…it’s not all bad. Since returning from Maternity Leave I’ve reached a new level of commute-appreciation. So next time you feel anger at having to spend in excess of an hour / day on a train for half your salary, bear these things in mind:
Whilst it might seem as though I have sufficient time since I am on maternity leave, in fact these days I struggle to get much done on some days. Looking after a small person is time-consuming on a good day; Throw in a bout of illness or a bad temper and even grabbing a drink can be tough. I doubt as a mother I am alone in sometimes finding it hard to get time for myself. There is always something that needs doing and coupled with the guilt complex most mothers have, it generally means that children, partner and housework all come before personal time.
But I have also come to learn that it’s important to have a bit of time to myself else I risk getting physically or mentally run-down. Whilst my pesky guilt-complex will kick in the moment I decided to kick-back on the sofa with a cup of tea once H has finally gone down for a nap, I fight to ignore it. Because if I don’t have 20 mins of rest then I risk not having the energy or tolerance for childcare as the day progresses.
So for anyone out there in a similar position who isn’t very good at taking time for their self, here are my suggestions of great ways to take a break:
On Friday I finished reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton – hurrah! It was a really good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it so the “hurrah” isn’t because the material was in any way a challenge to read. The “hurrah” is because I started that book about the second or third week after H was born, so it has taken me three months to finish. That’s right, three months.
As a commuter I was a big reader. From my years on the train, commuters loosely fall in the following categories:
I was very much in the ‘Reader’ category and I would get through a 2 – 3 books a month. Then on maternity leave I was getting through a book in a week or less. Of course, I’m often only capable of reading in short bursts (a commuter quickly learns how to immerse themselves in their book for just 5 stops on the tube!) but I still read plenty. Then H arrived.
In the early weeks I was just too tired to really read. Then as the weeks progressed I really tried to read more rather than just popping on the telly. But after a broken nights sleep, I am typically weary in the morning and popping the telly on was just easier. Then, from there, I would just get drawn in to day time TV.
So a few weeks ago I really tried to face in to this. Now, whilst I might watch some TV whilst I eat my breakfast, the moment that H goes up for her first morning nap, about 8:30 – 9am, the TV is turned off (except for exercising) and music goes on. This has the added benefit that H gets to listen to more music rather than being exposed to too much telly.
For my next book though I am going to go for something a little shorter and easier to read. Hopefully then I’ll build-up a reading habit again!
I have been a bit slack at working on my Spanish over the last, erm, few years. It’s something which I know I can call on if I need to but, frankly, it has got a bit more rusty than I am happy about. I feel very fortunate to be able to speak a second language to a level of moderate fluency and always feel guilty for not given it the attention I feel it deserves.
Before Christmas I pulled one of my unread Spanish novels off my shelf with the genuine intentions of reading it. Sadly all I have done is read the title numerous times (it’s called ‘Nunca Olvides Que Te Quiero‘ if you are interested (‘Never Forget That I Love You’)). So, tonight I have decided I am going to break in to it and tackle at the very least page 1! Anything is a start and I know I will pick-up the pace once I start. I am just hoping that by sharing this, it guilts me in to seeing it through. ¡Verémos!
I was reading an article by Lucy Mangan in Stylist yesterday about e-readers and, well, her general distain for them. Now, I shall not reply the article in detail, but she makes a couple of points which made my ponder over my own relationship with my Kindle:
If I am honest, these are both valid points and things I have mused over myself. Taking the second point first (just to be a bit ‘zany’), my Kindle has broken. When it broke, I was in the middle of a book. At the time, my response was ‘Argh’, followed by some moments of rage and general grumpiness. But, that said, I reported the problem to Amazon, they gave me lots of support and, when it was clear the problem was not to be fixed, they sent me a new one within 3 working days. In the interim, I went back to a standard book and also caught-up on my rowing magazine. Ultimately, I survived the ordeal! Charging doesn’t even warrant it’s own paragraph – the power consumption on a proper e-reader is so low that when you get a low battery warning, you still have a good few hours of reading before it dies.
So, the more crucial issue she raised, that you do not get attached to e-books. I whole-heartedly disagree with this. I do admit, I miss seeing the cover of a book, but having an e-reader has stopped me from picking my books based on the picture on the front which, lets face it, we have all done. Now I read the synopsis and the user reviews. I build an entire catalogues of books ready for my literary consumption. I take chances on new authors. Then, when I read, I get engrossed if the story is worthy of it. This is no different to when I read the print versions. No, I cannot look across my bookshelves and recall the happy memories, but I can flick through my Kindle and get the same thing from the titles. When I am reading a book, my Kindle becomes that book; when I recently read ‘The Hunger Games’ (see my review on Revado), I looked at my Kindle and all I could think was that I wanted to read the next bit – the emotion was exactly the same as my pre-Kindle days.
So, in summary, I’m afraid Lucy, I disagree with you. Of course everyone is entitled to their views (although I do think one should try something before completely writing it off) but I am a fan of an e-reader. There are numerous disadvantages (like the fact my library is now tied to Amazon), but the advantages are just too great and after one-too-many train journeys where I have finished my book before reaching Finsbury Park and then sat there bored, I am converted. It also makes the books that do deserve a physical presence on my shelf that bit more special!
It has been some time since I blogged for the simple reason that whilst I have had so much going on in my head, I have not actually known what to say when I sat down to type. I think it must be a typical human condition that sometimes your head can overthink. It isn’t helped when often a lot of what you are thinking about cannot really be blogged, or isn’t really an interesting blogging topic. I have been suffering from this a lot recently and this week has been the pinnacle.
Fortunately, I have remembered a wonderful trick for clearing your head in these situations – reading a really good book. It sounds so simple but it is often something forgotten because reading often signifies the need for brain power. Also, it can prove challenging to find the ‘right’ book. I am very fortunate that I have found the right book to suit my mood this time: ‘When God Was a Rabbit’ by Sarah Winman. It is a wonderful book with the right balance of joy and sadness, reflection and observation. It will be finished by bedtime!
I’m not even 30 yet but I can no longer handle nights out at all! We met our sisters in town last night for dinner and drinks. By 10:30pm, I was yawning away. Albeit i had been awake since 6:45 because of rowing, but still, we had enjoyed a few cocktails which usually wake one up with the sugar and alcohol content! Anyway, we were in bed by 12:30am (we stayed at some special hotel for Sam’s work it town!) but I have felt most worn today. Although, I haven’t head the usual headache I had most of last week so pros / cons. We vegetabled this afternoon watching Avatar (I do love that film) and the I started putting together the wedding photo albums, until I got bored. With that another weekend has drawn to a close though. But we have a four day week this week! Exciting! I am going to have a bath shortly to relax before the week. Time to try out having a bath whilst reading a Kindle. I hope it all goes well – I really want to read my book though so I will be giving it a try!
Goodness, it’s been over a week since my last blog! After a period of diligent entries I have slipped back in to bad habits. Truth be told, I was going to were last night but sorting out my finances took longer than I thought (it always does) and I needed to have a shower. It has been an eventful week though following from a good day at 8s head. I think I mentioned ny eclair in the last entry so we won’t relive that! So, what has happened since las time…
On Monday last week, I finally found out the outcome of my promotion board ‘candidacy’ – as of 1 Aptil I am being promoted to Principal Programmer! I’m very pleased because I have worked so hard to get where I am. Anyway, on Tuesday I then sat down to do my first 2k of the season and I managed 7:53.4 which is only about 0.5 of a secon off my 2k PB! Good times. I also started reading the Spanish book M&D got me from Fuertaventure – ‘La Trata’ by John Grisham. Also bought an iPhone Spanish dictionary for on-the-go translation – it’s very handy! Then yesterday it was sunny and warm so i spent hours in the garden and have tidied the shed. Hope this week is a good one too!
I am such a simple person; the smallest and simplest things can put me in a good mood. Currently these small things are
1. The new, free, “To Do” list app for my iPhone which allows me to categorise my to-dos in to 3 genres, apply priorities and give completion dates.
2. The fact I checked off all of my To-Dos which had a completion date of last night.
3. That I still have over 20 mins of train journey left in which to read my book (The Book Thief by Markus Zusak).
There are some books which I could just read again and again and again. I Don’t know if everyone has this ( I feel they must) but there are just some books which I just really connect with, for different reasons; the kind of books I pull off the shelf when I need something to really suit my mood. The list is actually quite short, but varied. I shall elaborate below:
1. The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger): this has to come top because it us truely my favourite book! I have read it 4 times in the last 3 years (3 in English, 1 in Spanish!) and it is always tempting me to pick it up whenever I see it on the shelf. Whilst the overall context is a bit bizarre, the book is generally about the relationship between two people-joy, pain, success, loss. The ‘human-ness’ of the story is really apparent and I find the characters so easy to relate to. It is almost like going back to friends!
2. The Harry Potter books (J K Rowling): (in pref order: 4/6/7, 3, 1/2, 5) yes, they were originally written for kids BUT they aren’t written in a childish style and do have an adult sub-text which makes them so easy to read and really enjoyable. Unlike many series of books, I can read these all back to back (usually skipping 5 because it’s a bit long!) without getting bored. Perhaps it’s because they remind me of being kid, perhaps it’s because they are an easy form if escapism. Whatever, I love them!
3. Blood Over Water (David & James Livingston): it would be wrong for a rowing book to not appear in my list! This one always attracts me because it combines the love/hate obsession of rowing with a very personal story of a relationship between two brothers (and their friends and family). The stories of their training and how they push themselves always motivate me to train harder and push harder. However, the tale of their relationship serve as a reminder to me not to get too carried away.