Not all of January, written down 0

Not all of January, written down

A partial diary from the month of January 2018, innit…

1st January 2018

There’s a ring to it, 1st January. It’s a beginning. It’s also a somewhat arbitrary starting point but it’s where we are at. Today is the first day of my no social media experiment. I also intend to avoid the TV and mainstream media sites such as the BBC and the Guardian.

Last night I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone and did a last couple of posts via the web interface. The phone was left downstairs rather than charging by the bed and although the battery was showing 29% I didn’t bother plugging it in.

This morning I am already looking for things to do. I dug out a book and read a couple of pages and am now sat in the TV room writing this. John came in and switched the TV on which somewhat scuppered my no TV rule but he couldn’t find anything he wanted to watch so departed with the remote control, thinking he was helping me out. I thought that Postman Pat the Movie was a perfectly good choice of watching but John didn’t. He will learn. In time he will grow to appreciate such classics.

Breakfast was a very restrained bowl of fruit and fibre.

In my experience it takes a while before boredom spurred activity kicks in. The grate has been cleaned out and the fire lit. The flames are happily dancing away and soon I’ll remove the fireguard. I keep it on during the early stage of lighting as the kindling gives off lots of sparks. An open fire creates lots of dust, I note. The rug in front of it is full of burn marks. An utility space. There is no point in us replacing it.

A heavy base reverberates through the ceiling from John’s bedroom. Joe and Tom are working away on KoeFest in the conservatory.

I’m quite looking forward to taking down the decorations and putting the festive season properly behind us.

Out for a cuppa at the Wig and Mitre with Anne, Han, John and Jenny before she goes off to Thailand for a month. They were almost out of milk. Not enough left for a latte and we got the last for a pot of tea for two. I left my phone at home. It was very noticeable when the others had their noses buried in theirs. Still early days for me.

On the way home it was pointed out that the snooker starts in around 10 days. What would I do then? This is a good question. It remains to be seen. I like watching snooker and it doesn’t stop you doing other things at the same time. It’s an “on in the background” thing.

Log fire flickers

Worker bees busy in the kitchen

Sound of radio

Curtains are drawn

We are in for the night



The great winter photography exhibition

February – a dull month


2nd January 2018

Woke up in the night and kept reaching out to touch my phone. It wasn’t there. It was switched off downstairs in the kitchen. I lay awake for a bit without it and drifted off again. Up and off to the pool before breakfast only to find that it was shut due to a burst pipe. I tried. Nevertheless I’m back on the MyFitnessPal and the Garmin, monitoring activity and intake. January innit.

I did spend a lot of time on the internet yesterday. Not social media. I was researching kitchen butchers blocks/islands. Quite rightly Anne feels that if I’ve spent a thousand pounds on a greenhouse to grow some very expensive tomatoes then her ambition to replace the second kitchen table with a butcher’s trolley is realisable. On one occasion I found myself on mainstream media but this was the gardening section offering advice on which tomatoes to grow so I avoided the news.

I also did a load of travel booking, hotels and trains. The internet is not my gripe. It is unavoidably useful. Some good hotel deals around when I was looking last night. We are stopping at The Trafalgar in London before going to Rome for the rugby at the beginning of February.

The phone is far less useful without Facebook. That isn’t to say I don’t have an use for it but there is a lot less reason to pick it up. The idea of heading out for a coffee or a swim without it is fine but it does mean that I don’t have it in my hand for ad hoc photography. Just shows how much social media is driving the growth in bandwidth – photos and vids get put on Facebook.

The fire is lit and I am working from the front room again this morning. Joe and Tom have purloined my office. Tom is off home this pm so I will get it back after today.

Fire blazing away in the grate again. Had a home made carrot and coriander soup for lunch with a wholemeal bread roll and butter followed by an orange. Shame the pool was shut. My step count today at 1.30pm is only 1,300 out of my target of 8,000. That’s sitting on the sofa in front of the fire for you. Will have to do something about it.

Amazingly there is relaxing music coming through the floor from John’s bedroom. It’s often a loud thud. Maybe he is doing homework. Or meditating…

Been communicating using Messenger today. Sometimes Facebook is handy when you are going somewhere and you want recommendations – restaurants maybe. On this occasion I was able to do this using Messenger because I know someone who went to uni in Newcastle. Ordinarily I’d have just posted the question and see what came back.


Woman on fire in rain – dropped Hannah off at train station and there was this woman with an e-cigarette holder. It was as if she was on fire. Very smokey.

Woman cyclist with new toilet brush in backpack.

3rd January 2018

Still picking the phone up unnecessarily. I’m used to looking at Facebook so much. Suspect this will take some time to go away. There is no reason for me to casually pick the device up. Same in bed. Woke up in the night and reached over for the phone despite the fact that it wasn’t there. I leave it downstairs now.

Overslept somewhat. Finally woke up at 7.45 which left no time for a lie in before going swimming. In fact I was late going to the pool and would have had a shorter swim than planned were it not for the fact that the pool is still closed. The advice is that it reopens tomorrow but you would need to be pretty hardy to take the plunge. Should be back to full temperature on Friday.

Fortunately I have a “body balance” class at 10.30 so won’t be totally devoid of exercise. This is a combination of yoga, tai chi and pilates, or simlar. Will let you know how I get on obvs.

In other news the campervan enquiries are starting to roll in. No firm bookings yet but they will come. Need to get our press launch sorted for 2018. We have news.

Back from Body Balance. Boy is it a tough class. I was sweating buckets and had to remove my glasses as they were steamed up. It’s about core strength, flexibility and balance. Will have to persevere. I have no balance, core strength or flexibility:) Cancelled Friday’s Body Pump class. If I found Body Balance hard then BP will be too much methinks.

Bit of a boring afternoon spent staring at flight options and hotels in Hong Kong and Bangkok. I’m planning a trip for New Year 2018/19. Was intending to fly out to BKK and back from HKG. However I think the flight options are better the other way around. Flying back from HKG gets you in at four in the morning. BKK is a far more civilised 17.25pm arrival with an 11.15am start. That’s a very leisurely lunch and a car picking us up from Heathrow getting us home for around 9.30.

4th January 2018

Awake early again and after a while nodded off again. Seems to be a trend. No phone by the bed so went downstairs early to make the tea only to find that Virgin Media had a problem. Nothing admitted to on their website but we were without connectivity for a good hour or so. I survived.

Spent all day preparing for next year’s tax return. Quite a complicated sitch due to various business interests and the need to sort a big bag of receipts from JoeFest. I have plenty of time to get it done (almost a year) but it informs certain investment decisions so the sooner it’s done the better.

Found that I spend quite a lot of time on the laptop trying to think of reasons for using it. When I was using Facebook all that time would be spent on the site. So still needing to wean myself off computer usage. I’m grasping around for sites to visit – remembering that it isn’t just social media I’m avoiding. It’s mainstream media sites as well.

I did use Twitter this morning – purely to see if the Virgin Media connectivity issue was being reported and to nudge the Virgin Twitter account. Most of my time has been spent researching our big Far East holiday.

Also spent a lot of time watching TV in the evening. This is not normal, or it wasn’t in the weeks running up to Christmas. I spent most of the time out partying. At least it’s keeping me out of the pub. I’ve been able to research the holiday at the same time. Also the greenhouse and the kitchen butcher’s trolley re which we are almost ready to push the button.


5th January 2018

Pool this morning. First time in yonks at yarborough. Half an hour. Only one other person in my lane so that was cool. Omelette and a bit of smoked salmon shared with Anne.

Lunchtime Joe and I met with Pieman to discuss JoeFest catering.

Ordered the butcher’s block island Anne has been after for a year or so. Don’t want to rush these things. It has to be the right one. Solid.

7th january 2018

V pleasant trip to Nuke arstle. Took Joe back. Stayed at the Hilton and had a room with a great view over the Tyne – swing bridge and the Tyne Bridge right in front of us. Out for a curry with Mike Kelly and his daughter Rebecca, Anne, Joe and Charlotte.

This morning we went to Tynemouth. Cold but enjoyable trip around the market and then a takeaway from Longsands chippy. Dropped Joe and Charlotte back in Nuke and headed South.

It’s a week since I last looked at Facebook. Had a near miss when I got home though. Was looking on Tripadvisor at restaurants in Florence, as you do, and followed a link to a restaurant website. Turned out it was a Facebook page. Saw that I had 57 mentions/engagement but refrained from looking. Won’t be going to that restaurant 🙂

We are off to Italy at the beginning of February and staying in London en route on the first of the month. That will coincide with my first day back on social media! If I return 🙂

8th January 2018

Swim first thing but stuck on the settee doing stuff today, apart from a trip to the Lawns from a coffee with Matt Russell. Booked Hong Kong hotel – Mandarin Oriental – figured might as well push the boat out. It’s in keeping with the first class flight out anyway.

Not even thought about Facebook although still need to replace the laptop with something else in my life.


10th January 2018

My hair is beginning to irritate me. This is a bit of a shame really. It isn’t helped by the fact that my specs need tightening a little. I suspect that I’m not going to end up with long hair. I’m going to stick it out until the end of the month anyway until I’m back on Facebook and then maybe i can have a before and after photo shot. Or even a video of it being cut.

I don’t missFacebook much although I do occasionally find myself wondering about something that I’d ordinarily ask the Facebook community about. I also still use the laptop too much. Problem is that is my work tool so I’m sat in front of it for most of the day whatever happens. Also still reaching out in the night as if to pick up the phone. I won’t be getting back into the routine of having the phone by the bed whatever happens and I think I might not reinstall the Android Facebook App and just rely on the laptop/web interface.

Bought today. Paid a lot of dosh. We had but I figured it was best if we bagged the .com. We would regret it downstream if we didn’t. Makes sense. Also had to look twice at Facebook – food vendors’ websites are Facebook pages. It’s so much easier for people to have a Facebook page than their own site. Certainly for simple shopfronts.

11th January 2018

Another swim this morning. another half a kg lost although the pre swim weight showed no loss. Whodathunk a swim would make that difference.

Small birds now starting to use the feeders at the bottom onf the garden.

12th January 2018

05.30 and I’m up and at it. Not really at much. Just downstairs in the TV room writing this. I’ve had enough kip, I think. It’s already Friday. Busy enough day today. Off to Newark to see a glamping equipment vendor for 11am (after my swim) and then various meetings this pm including around to the Smiths to get Nick to endorse the kids Irish citizenship applications. Cake Ball tonight. Not a big fan of balls any more but Nick has a table so we are going. It’s at the Doubletree. Thought about stopping the night. It’s £87. Anne would probably not approve. It’s only a fiver for a taxi home.

It’s almost half way through the month. I’m still not over facebook:) I decided whilst lying in bed this morning, before coming downstairs early, that I will have to start getting on the rowing machine every day, as well as the swim. Something to break up the need to be constantly on the laptop and also to get more exercise.

Back from my swim and another Anne’s vans enquiry in. Bacon with omelette for brekkie and then off to Newark to talk to a glamping equipment vendor.

13th january 2018

What would you do if you had 100% charge on your phone or laptop but knew that once it ran out it was the last ever time you’d be able to use it?

Watched John play hockey v Huddersfield. 1 all draw. Lincoln City drew 2 2 v Notts County.

Had a Tom kerridge style pizza on tortilla base. V good fair play.

Totes knackered after last night’s late late finish. Hot bath and bed by 10.

14th January 2018

Time marches on. The calendar ticks over another day. Breakfast is at 09.50. Omelette and Cumberland sausage given to me by Joe upon his return from visiting Charlotte. Anne is marching off to church, a little earlier today so that she can deliver a few Bailgate Independents en route. No sign of John. He was out with the lads this morning though Finn, who stayed overnight, has already upped and gone home.

I did most of the jobs yesterday. All that is left on the list is to mark out the position on the patio where the greenhouse is going to go (arrives tomorrow) and to write Anne’s sister Sarah’s invitations to her 50th birthday party. Sarah has Downs Syndrome and lives, very happily, in a wonderful hostel near to where she grew up.

Bit achey this morning so I think I’ll give swimming a miss. Chest cold. The beef stew is in the oven. Fingers crossed. My stews tend to be great but I do get the occasional boring one.

Delicious home made tomato soup for lunch. Anne accidentally added too much chilli but it worked for me. Halfa smoked salmon sandwich and half a ham and I’m sorted.

In other news the Masters Snooker has started. Annoys the hell out of me how good these guys are. Anne and I are sat in the front room watching it – the Archers has finished and she’s done her saxophone practice.

In more other news Liverpool beat Man City 4 – 3 at Anfield. Fair play. A v exciting game by all accounts.

Stew turned out very tasty.

15th January 2018

Decline and Fall is a cathedral of words and opinions: sonorous, awe-inspiring and shadowy, with odd and unexpected corners of wit and irony, concealed in well-judged footnotes. For example, in chapter VII on Gordian, he writes:

Twenty-two acknowledged concubines, and a library of 62,000 volumes attested the variety of his inclinations, and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation.

His footnote provides a witty coda: “By each of his concubines, the younger Gordian left three or four children. His literary productions were by no means contemptible.”


Greenhouse arrives today.

In fact it’s just arrived. Also it’s chucking it down with rain. I think I’m looking forward to the day when I can potter in the greenhouse whilst it’s raining outside.

Went for a walk. Just up to the Lindum, around and back past the Eastgate crossroads. My trousers were absolutely soaking.

16th January 2018





Train ticket reservation numbers.


20th January 2018 – Insomnia

In so mnia, in so mn ia?

Is this it? Lying awake in bed at four in the morning looking at the alarm clock, watching it click over.

Thing is I don’t feel tired so why should being awake be a concern? It isn’t really. Here I am now downstairs writing. The Dyson fan heater has been retrieved from the conservatory. Brr it’s cold out there. Here in the TV room it’s toasty.

I’m expecting the time to fly by now that I’m sat at the laptop. It only had 15% battery left so I had to retrieve the power supply from the front room where I had been working yesterday, sat by the fire.

If you knew you only had 15% battery left ever what would you do? It doesn’t give you much time to save the world? Say your online goodbyes? It’s been good knowing you. Remember me…

I’ve noticed that online media has started creeping back into my life. I’ve been choosy. I still avoid Brexit and Trump and anything else that gives off negative vibes. Still burying my head in cotton wool. Not sand. That would get up my nostrils. In my eyes. I only look at nice stuff. Although I do listen to the radio and watch the TV news so I am getting the news, just not every other minute.

This morning I took the lawnmower in to be serviced. Last year it kept misfiring and it is long overdue an overhaul. £90 plus parts! It’s not a particularly cheap mower so I suppose it needs maintaining.

Also in other news John got another unconditional offer of a place at university. Birmingham this time.

The fridge freezer in the garage has packed in. It was second hand in the first place so doesn’t owe us anything. Just a bit of a nuisance having to react and keep the frozen food somewhere. New one arrives tomorrow. Gone for a bigger one. May as well.

21st January 2018

Day 21 with no Facebook. Yesterday I posted an Anne’s Vans post on our Facebook page but that is acceptable. That’s business. Didn’t share it on my timeline. Have to keep the SEO stuff ticking along.

Yesterday we declared the fridge freezer in the garage kaput. Today, at around 09.15 they delivered the new one. Fortunately we had just emptied it in time. They took the old one away but left the new one in its packaging. Notionally to stand for 4 hours but they were supposed to unpack it first. No big deal. Found some mouse droppings in the vicinity of the old one. Unsurprising.

Today is a day that began without a jobs list. Then one of the doors is reported as having come of the shower and also I’ve decided we definitely need a new fireback. Those can be this morning’s tasks.

John didn’t come home last night. At 5am he texted his mum to say he was at Jamie’s. They were out celebrating Finn’s 18th and the fact that John now has two guaranteed places at University. I doubt he will be in a fit state to do anything today.

Anne and I ended up at the West End Tap lst night after  going to the flicks to see The Darkest Hour. V good fair play. I’ve read Churchill’s 2nd world war history numerous times and I might take another look at that period leading up to Dunquerque. Very emotional stuff.

Freezing cold outside. The radiator in the TV room seems to have started working again which is good obvs. Not particularly hot but it does take the edge off the chill.

Paid the last chunk of tax. That’s it for another year.

Tonight/tomorrow morning is an important moment in our 2019 holiday planning as I need to book the return flight from Bangkok. When we got in last night I waited until after midnight to check availability of reward flights. There were two in business class. I have to be on the phone at 6am to stand a chance of getting flights out of Bangkok on 11th January. If nothing comes up tomorrow I’m tempted to secure the HKG seats if they are still available just to have certainty. Could always change later. The return leg from Hong Kong isn’t ideal because the flights are close to midnight and land very early at LHR. Better than nowt.

Can’t fix shower door – the whole thing would need dismantling and putting back together and it still wouldn’t really sort it. Also B&Q didn’t have the firebrick.

Gentle snow. Unfortunately not sticking. Not a day to be abroad. This is one of those bunker down it’s winter days. The snooker is on the TV. Anne is packaging up some parcels to send off. I have a chicken casserole in the oven and the whole chicken has been stuffed and prepared for putting in the oven later. All very domesticated. All is well. In theory I should be out in the back garden with the blower shifting the last of the leaves in anticipation of the visit by the lawn care people in the week. Green Thumb. Greenhouse man comes on Tuesday too. Rather him than me in this weather.

This really is the most miserable time of year.

Just seen and ad whose strapline was “Go Mahoosive with the all inclusive”. You don’t get the feeling that it will have lots of like minded people on the trip. Not like me minded anyway.`

22nd January 2018

07.30 direct train to London for onward journey on Eurostar to Bruxelles. Slightly delayed due to signalling problems between Lincoln and Newark or simlar. Countryside is looking a bit bleak. Limp greens and dull browns.

Thought I might get some work done but this train is too shaky.


Last time I went to Brussels I forgot to take plug adapters. Last time I went to London I forgot my headphones and Oyster card. This time I have my adapters, headphones and Oyster card. This time I’ve forgotten my watch which was left charging in the kitchen. No big deal though. I did without for 30 years…

Indian bloke with very obvious wig sat opposite me.

Lots of water on the ground in France.


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