Saturday, January 24, 2015

Back on the beaches

DSC01024 (1300x974)As anticipated, my five challenges have consumed the month of January, every hour and every day.  Progress is apparent, but I have to admit that I’m starting to get tired.  I can tell when there is more energy than thought going into my actions, when the day’s worries too easily lap over into the night’s dreams. I recognize the wary sensitivity and easy umbrage.

A break is overdue: I haven’t taken even an afternoon ramble along the beach in nearly a month.  Rightly, then, I purposefully turned my back on work and drove out to West Cliffs.

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It was a cold and windy day along the Bournemouth shore, although beautifully sunny and clear.  The Needles and Alum Bay, distant Isle of Wight, gleamed chalk-white on the horizon. 

It’s nice to have the summer crowds gone, the beaches empty. Contemplative peace and quiet.

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As only locals would, people slept in the sun and ate ice cream as though it were July while wryly smothered in January parka’s and hoods.   Bundled couples in matching colours swayed and laughed, holding hands and squinting into the wind.   A few families carried on summer-life-as-usual in beach huts, studiously oblivious to winter.

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Bournemouth is building a new gateway to the Pier, reconnecting the river to the sea, adding decorative lighting and pavilions.  Promenade cafĂ©’s are being torn down and re-erected, though the concept pictures look exactly like the demolished buildings.  The Oceanarium is adding a Penguin Pond, appropriately.

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The zipline was doing a lot of business, firing riders at the beach from the pier’s tower every few minutes.

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No fishermen or surfers, swimmers or bar-b-q’s today – everyone was walking determinedly, stoically, keeping warm. 

It was all quite ordinary, quite delightful for a mile’s walk.  Worry diminished and fell away; optimism returned.

I need to remember to make more time for time off.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday miscellany

IMG_20141228_094224‘time on the road means time to read, to think, to reflect.  Especially in winter, I’m not out wandering the streets in search of art and culture, but am more likely indoors stroking my Nexus through newspapers, books, magazines, and blogs. 

So, a selection of what’s recently caught my eye.

DSC00955 - CopyCan you fall in love in 36 questions? I’ve always believed in love, but also know that I can’t choose who loves me nor can I create romantic feelings in another.  But Dr. Arthur Aron found in experiments dating to the 70s that progressive discovery through guided conversation turns the trick.  A NYT reporter re-discovered the research and applied it.  But, on trying it out, I found the questions more disquieting than revealing.  I needed some time to reflect on most of them, and even the simple ones (Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?) felt layered.  I much prefer the 10-day challenge.


IMG_20150120_133940I know that I’m thinking deep thoughts when the predictive text can’t anticipate what I’m going to type next.  A sentence like

I trust entirely in the evident demonstration of realities not yet beheld, close to defining psychosis,  for behind both faith and delusion lies unshakable belief.  (McClean)

is beyond the reach of  SwiftKey’s statistics. 


DSC00984My, you’re looking robust, my landlady greeted me.  Brit-speak for “We’ve gained a few over Christmas, haven’t we?”.  I’m well short of 2012’s weight, well over 2013’s dramatic lows, but would like to get back to a moderate twelve stone even. Not a big stretch, but it means getting back on the horse with regular exercise and healthy eating.  I’m getting back to the Leisure Centre daily and experimenting with lighter dinners: some fresh vegetarian soups and steamed Pak Choi/salmon dishes have come out quite nicely. 



There was a lovely essay about the varieties of grieving in the NYTimes this month.  Increasingly, people I know are suffering losses as the years advance, and its important to remember that everyone has their own story and need to work through things on their own terms.


DSC00473 (1300x974)The Eagles Airie 3324 is a comfortable bar and club on the Eastside from Seattle: member only, guests welcome.  The whole concept of an FOE social club is a bit of an anachronism: common in my grandfather’s generation when service clubs like Kiwanis and Rotary united businessmen like Toastmasters or the Chamber of Commerce do today.  I dropped in for beer and burger: it was like an alternate future waiting for me if my businesses failed.  Older folks, football jackets, local gossip, and familiar faces, bonded in a clubhouse.  I don’t think that I could ever put everything aside and simply become that. 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rushing about, still

WP_20150120_006Would you like a sleep suit?  The question was baffling.

A onesie?  Worse.

A glass of champagne? I nodded, gratefully.

‘minus the accessory, yes.

I had made a late reservation to a Board meeting in Jacksonville, and Virgin tucked me into Upper Class.  The menu promised a flight of Mojitos (rum, vodka, gin, champagne, and seltzer variations), WP_20150120_003beef wellington, Romanian wines, and a lie-flat sleeper.  Since the movies were limited, I enjoyed the rare peace to eat well, read quietly, and sleep comfortably.

I considered Instagram-ing the experience, but I’m still trying to sort out the best was to use it. Websites that teach Instagram best-practices suggest to have a distinctive point of view or theme and not to over—share.  So, how best to visually describe my unique expat-entrepreneur experience?  A sequential narrative, or a moment; people or places?  What is recognizable and compelling? Is it travel-blogging or something more?

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The jet stream is unusually strong this year, so westerly flights are slow, easterly returns fast.  Layovers in Atlanta in crowded desultory lounges are dispiriting (although the terrace in International is wonderful).  It was nice  to finally arrive in Florida after 22 travel hours: Palms and birds, golf courses and open-air restaurants, warm alternatives to cold Poole.  This is part of why one joins a Board.

WP_20150119_001Our two days of working sessions brainstormed a few new strategies and resolved a lot of issues.  There was good wine and tall tales to cap each day’s work.

There was a lot to be done in England a well so I embraced the jet lag, getting up around 4 am for five hours work before the executive sessions began.  Calls to the US from the UK have a distinctive ring and everyone could tell that I was out of position.  But email and phone conferences work the same is if I was home, and nobody could really complain about how I spent my own weekend.

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I’ve read that international airline pilots get three days off for every four that they fly.  It should be the same for me: two days in the US and back to Europe is brutal (although w.wezen reminds me to say Things are a bit difficult at present, instead).  It was satisfying to have my new residency on entry, the Border greeting seemed a tad warmer than usual.

OnesieMy only regret is not saying ‘Yes to the onesie when it was offered.  Apparently they have a lot of utility after the flight, even if some think they are a bit scratchy.

Thank you, Richard, and next time for sure. ‘just don’t call them ‘pyjamas’ any more.