It’s amazing what you find when you’re not looking

This document dates from Dec 98/Jan 99 when we took a New Year’s break in Malaysia. We flew after Xmas, stayed for a few nights in Kuala Lumpur and then went to Penang for the New Year. We stayed in the Penang Mutiara beach resort, I know because the document was written on the back of an item of hotel stationery.

It’s clearly a set of New Year’s resolutions and I must have had ambitions to come up with a list of 10. I fell short but nonetheless 8 is a good number. Nowadays I’d suggest that even 8 is too many, I generally find long lists to be self defeating and lists of 3-5 I reckon are manageable.

I wrote this list over 20 years ago. How would it change if I wrote a similar list today?

1 no biting nails

It’s always good  to start with a positive. I no longer bite my nails. I don’t know exactly when I stopped but it’s been some years now.

2 midweek exercise

I guess back then I worked all week and only exercised at weekends. I no longer have such a constraint of course but I do exercise and, sadly, I keep note of the exercise which I take. This happened before my cardiac event  and I find it useful to aim for exercise 3 or 4 times a week, I generally don’t exercise on successive days any more. In recent years I’ve hit about 130 times in the year which is a little less than this. Of course the numbers are depressed by periods when I’ve been away on holiday or when I’ve been under the weather. However a goal of 150 times in the year should be possible.

3 Thursday night is Juni night

The idea back then must have been that I make the effort to take Juni out at least once a week and that’s a perennial intention. Nowadays of course I’m free most of the week and we should go out in the daytime mid week and not wait until Sundays when it’s generally busy. To be fair we have been working our way through the local National Trust properties this year and we need to continue now that the weather’s getting warmer.

4 take over the garden

I’m not really sure what this means. I’ve always been an aspirational gardener but have never got round to it. After injuring my back cutting the lawn the first time at Pease Way I’ve contracted that out ever since. Now that I’ve got more time I continue to resolve to do more. We had tomatoes and chillies, plenty of pot plants and four hanging baskets  last year and I aim to emulate it this year.

5 read a serious chapter a night

I’ve always read a lot but tended to buy more books, especially non fiction, than I’ve read. This time last year when I stopped being a county councillor I had more time on my hands and I established a routine of reading non fiction with my afternoon tea and that’s proving successful. Night times though is just for fiction and although I generally enjoy what I read I’ve had a couple of books recently that have taxed my patience.

6 regular working hours

In the late 90s I was working for Linx Printing Technologies as its Sales & Marketing Director. It was a full time job and gave me opportunities to travel worldwide. I enjoyed it but although I often lectured people working for me on the importance of maintaining a good work/life balance I guess I didn’t always practice what I preached. Later it was to become a problem when my council, county and parish, council work intruded. But now it’s all over and there is no excuse. Regular hours for me involve no early starts and no meetings that go on for ever.

7 less alcohol

Well yes but I don’t know what that meant for me back then when I was in my mid 50s. The subject came up again after my cardiac event. How much do you drink they said. I told them I largely just drink wine and must have mumbled ‘two bottles a week’. The lady advising me obviously thought I said or meant two glasses a week so said cheerfully that that was fine. Being an honest chap I corrected her and she then referred me to the government guidance of 14 units per week. Problem is what’s a unit? There’s mixed guidance even on the NHS web-site including six 175ml glasses and 10 ‘small’ (125ml?) glasses. I guess I’m not too far from the former but agree that could usefully drink a little less. In my defence I would point out that I rarely drink at lunchtimes and only very occasionally do I drink when I’m not having a meal; I’m not in the habit of going to the pub.

8 more patience with C&C

C&C would of course be Clare and Charles and like most fathers I wish I’d spent more time with them (see 6 above) and been more patient but what’s done is done. I guess neither has done what I expected them to do but they’ve both come out all right. Clare is married with three children and lives in Yorkshire. Charles is a policeman and keeps the peace in Western Australia. I enjoy my visits to both of them.

If I were to issue a similar list much would be the same but I’d have to add:

9 be careful about my diet

After my cardiac event I know that if I have a high cholesterol level I run the risk of a blocked artery and the heart attack that goes with it. There’s two ways of keeping cholesterol down. One is taking a statin which I now do and the other it to reduce my intake of saturated fat. That’s easy enough to do, just keep an eagle eye on the nutrition information on food packaging and otherwise avoid cheese, cakes & biscuits, fried foods (including fish & chips) and anything cooked in butter.

10 make new goals

It will be easy for me to slip into a retirement rut of just living on a day to day basis with no purpose or direction. At the moment I am doing a little work for two companies but that won’t go on for ever so what should I do next? I’m not into learning a new language or a musical instrument although I have been sharpening my photography skills. At lease this gives me one goal: to exhibit in Cambridge Open Studios.

I’ve just checked the COS website, it’s £60 to join and there’s a window for joining at the end of the year. Then it’s £150 to participate in the Open Studios event and you have to register for that in January. So that looks like the basis of a time plan.

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