5 things to/I do before 9 o’clock

untitled-500K-24I’m motivated to write this piece because I’ve just come across a similarly motivated blogpost which talks of ‘9 things before 9AM’ (click here). It’s a mix of the mundane (drink more water) and the strange (daily affirmations) with some hard work in between (journals) but I recognise much of my own thinking.

So: here’s my maybe more pragmatic list of five and I’ll dispense with the obvious ‘get out of bed’. And let’s not be too hung up about 9 o’clock as a hard limit. Nine thirty is OK especially if you’re no longer in full time employment, the point is that it’s early enough to leave time in the morning to get something done if that’s what’s needed.

1 give yourself enough time. It’s a philosophy I developed when I was working when I travelled frequently around Europe and worldwide. I had limited time in the places I visited. Generally someone else was managing it and I’d find that I had a program that took over my day. I decided then that I needed to get some anchor points down so that I did not lose control and that’s why I take time with my early morning routine and do the same in the evening. It’s a discipline I’ve shared with the people who’ve worked for me and I’ve found that it gives you a fighting chance of being productive so that you don’t end up at the end of the day wondering whether or not you’ve achieved anything.

2 have breakfast. This should be obvious and most, if not all, nutritionists will tell you that getting the right food inside you at the start of the day is important. But for me it’s not just the food but the ritual as well and eating breakfast and savouring the process gives you a platform of calm which you’re not going to get from grabbing a coffee and eating a muffin as you rush to your first appointment of the day. Nowadays for me its a bowl of fresh fruit, fresh bread and an omelette if I’m lucky. And a coffee, see below.

3 squeeze in a little exercise. It might be just a walk round the block but do something. When I’ve travelled I’ve chosen hotels with pools or gyms or close to parks. These give me the opportunity to take a little exercise before breakfast, you just have to set your alarm a half hour or so earlier. These days now that I don’t travel this exercise is a 10 minute walk into the village to buy my newspaper and fresh bread.

4 read the newspaper. That’s my preference of course, others may prefer to read the news on a tablet or listen to it but it’s good to be abreast of what’s going on and to get the mental exercise that goes with it. I read the paper and listen to the radio so I’m getting a double dose of mental stimulation. You get even more benefit if you can engage with others so no use of earphones please.

5 drink a first cup of coffee. I’m a recent convert to breakfast coffee and appreciate that this might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s undoubtedly a stimulant and it sets me up. One’s enough, there’s little extra to be gained from multiple cups or from one of those extra large cups beloved of some of the coffee shop chains. I used to drink too many cups of instant. Now it’s just a proper breakfast coffee and maybe a couple more during the day. Taste the coffee, don’t just consume it.

That’s it and as I say above let’s not get hung up about 9 o’clock. It’s OK if it’s 0930 and if you’re a wage slave then maybe it’s 0800 or earlier. Just set your alarm in good time so that you can approach the day prepared.

Reflections on 2019

2019-08-29 18.15.18It’s a bit late I know but it’s still important to reflect on a year just gone.

From my personal point of view it’s been dominated by my big op. Actually it wasn’t really that big, ‘just’ an angioplasty to insert a stent into my right coronary artery which only took about 30 minutes, but it did signal a change in my life. I’d never thought before that I might have a life threatening condition and although that’s now been sorted I have had to change my life style if I’m going to make 90. Go to https://wp.me/phtcF-Qr for the full story.

That was at the end of August and by year end my blood pressure was low and stable, I’ve got plenty of energy and I’ve completed a couple of fairly strenuously walks. My weight is down to 65kg which may be good but it does mean that I no longer avoid snacking. And I now follow a healthy diet and have reduced my alcohol consumption by about 30%.

Fortunately the big op left room for lots of other activity during the year. Juni and I enjoyed a week in Sicily in May (https://flic.kr/s/aHsmDjmWNs), five days in Wales just before the op in August (https://flic.kr/s/aHsmGDcsAU) and then four weeks in Indonesia at year end (https://wp.me/phtcF-R7). I also had a few days in Manchester in June when I was invited to a wedding party and used the opportunity to reacquaint myself with a city I’d lived close to in the 90s (https://flic.kr/s/aHsmE8Rkhf).

Along the way we stayed in some super hotels including Gwesty Cymru in Aberystwyth, Brown’s Hotel in Laugharne and Mason Pine in Bandung, Indonesia. We’ve also been fortunate to eat at several excellent restaurants including the St John’s Chop House and the Senate in Cambridge, Sicily in Palermo and Sea Sound in Giardini Naxos, both in Sicily, the Penderyn in Laugharne and Seasoned in Ubud and Cinnamon in Tanjung Benar, both in Bali, Indonesia.

In the country at large the year ended badly. It appeared at sone time that there was sufficient momentum building up which would result in a second Euro referendum. But it was not to be and in December the Tories triumphed at the general election and we head into 2020 looking at a certain Brexit with no idea what form it will take. I fear the worst.

As we head into 2020 prospects are not great. There’s Brexit in prospect, the Corona virus rampant and terrifying bushfires in Australia. Despite my op I’m in good shape but when I was interviewed on BBC Radio Cambridgehire recently I said that I was really worried about what the future holds for my grandchildren.


What’s the point? Five healthy foods to avoid.

fish and chipsI was chatting to one of the excellent nurses who’s helping me with my cardiac rehab. We were talking about diet and in general I find it easy enough to follow a cardiac friendly diet: lots of fruit and veg and no sat fat. I’ve done this single-mindedly for a couple of months now and my cholesterol and all the other blood lipids are at healthy levels. What I was interested in knowing was how often I could wander off piste. ‘For example,’ I said ‘How often can I eat fish and chips’. She didn’t hesitate. “Never’ she replied. Continue reading