Published: Tuesday June 23, 2015.

I went away, then came back

Hi there, Internet.

How are you?

Even though it’s past 9pm as I type this, there’s still daylight outside in north Cornwall. It’s almost July, a few days after midsummer, and the second half of the year is about a week away.

I went on vacation a week or so ago. According to my passport, the last time I went on a proper holiday was June 2009. The most recent stamp was from Russia, and I remember the lady who stamped it was wearing some natty lipstick to fight the man from her cubicle. I learned 5 phrases of Russian for that day in St Petersburg, all of which were to get through passport control and politely decline local tat merchants bearing wares. I saw two souvenir sellers with handguns that day, too.

Last week, I was in Santander, one of the coastal towns in Cantabria, northern Spain. I was a foot passenger on a ferry, packed light, learned far more than five phrases, and had a thoroughly lovely time. Food was top notch, my travel companion was equally pleasant, and Jagermeister was the cheapest I’ve ever seen. I will be back, I’m sure of it.

There’s a fairly standard pattern with me and non-work travelling:

Some time passes. Then:

You see, I’m so out of the habit that it’s a real chore. I literally had to force myself to book somewhere to visit in order to reset a clock. I will admit that a short break was always the best idea in case my housemate and I bust each other’s brains more than normal and we had to come home to avoid a voluntary manslaughter charge down the line.

We actually got on pretty well. We have similar ideals about what travel should involve, and nobody died. Both of us has moments of being insufferable, but then that’s par for the course in Cornwall, so nothing new. Our cases were deliberately light, which meant all the difference when we went down the wrong road in Santander and walked a mile extra than we should’ve done in the early afternoon sun.

One of the (many) things I thought about in the 4-day trip was working hours. I am often asked what I do, and I roll out a not-very-well-rehearsed diatribe about being on a computer for many hours a day, and doing lots of Internet consultancy, and fixing computers, and blah. First impressions are important, of course, and this explanation could improve. I see myself as being at my desk for many hours a day, but that’s not important to anyone but me.

This got me chewing on why I’m at my desk for so long each day. I do a bunch of things, and the world keeps turning. I’ve crept back into bad habits over the last 6 months and I want to turn that around. I’m going to try something out from July 1st and see what impact it has on my day. Briefly:

…which looks like this:

And then, my work gets packed away until morning.

Time creep is so, so easy in my job. I can squeeze another thing into the to-do list and get it done, but it’ll cost me 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there. I hate (yes, it’s a strong word) what a desk has done to me. I don’t move around enough. I don’t read enough away from the screen. I don’t have much fun, and I want to fix that.

I’ve had a cold since I got back from Santander, likely because of the onslaught of germs from the travel. I don’t get exposed to much in the way of illness because of my environment. I don’t, sadly, have many stories to share from north Cornwall this year because I’m not good at getting out and enjoying the sunshine. Screens are horribly enticing.

This all sounds familiar, ‘cos it is. It still needs to be fixed. I can do better. I will do better. I’m going to do more things that make stories, and tell you about them.

I even know where to start.

Next time: I’ll tell you about how I spent a chunk of last Friday in the back of an ambulance with two absolutely delightful paramedics.