From Warehouse Project to Takeaway Project…

So, plans since yesterday’s post have changed somewhat considerably. Why? Because, thanks to the lurgy that’s been sweeping the office for the past few weeks, I’m feeling far too rough to make the journey to Manchester for an all-night clubbing extravaganza. This is very disappointing, not least because in cancelling I’ve lost somewhere in the region of £70, but also because the Warehouse Project is something I have wanted to attend since I first heard about it many years ago. I feel instinctively and with a heavy heart that particular ship has now sailed, but in life I guess you win some and you lose some, and as I win far more often than I lose I can’t complain. Still, it rankles that I’ve had to pull out and, in doing so, have turned my reputation on its head from party trooper to party pooper in one fell swoop.

On the plus side I no longer have to concern myself with running out of steam at 2am and spending three hours counting down the minutes to my return train. I have also just ordered an obscene amount of Chinese takeaway and bought a consolatory bottle of Beaujolais, so things could be infinitely worse…

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Ding ding! Round two

After only recently extolling the virtues of good health following a week of lurgy, today I fell victim to another bout. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, it’s some sort of gastric bug that had rendered me in so much pain by the time I arrived at work this morning that I fairly promptly had to turn around and go home again. After a few hours’ sleep the pain has now subsided and whilst I’m feeling far from 100% I’m hopeful that after a good night’s sleep tomorrow I will at least be back on some sort of reasonable form.

But despite two bouts of illness in a week I still feel lucky, because I know this phase shall pass-unlike the situation faced by thousands of people across the country (and indeed the world) who suffer with chronic pain. Can you imagine how horrendous it must be to exist in a permanent state of discomfort or, worse still, excruciating agony? Those of us who are fortunate to be in good health most of the time would do well to count our blessings, because that’s exactly what health is: A blessing. Though it’s easy to do, we should at least try not to take it for granted, because we never know how long it will last.

This photo taken on Maliangan island in Borneo on my Raleigh expedition always makes me laugh. Those of us on the left had all caught a stomach bug, and those on the right were at that point still healthy. By the end of the week only one person had escaped it. At least we kept our sense of humour!

Why walking is the new running

A recent news report claimed two thirds of Britons spend at least 20 hours each day sitting or lying down. For many this won’t come as a surprise, particularly not if you’re a stressed city worker use to shoehorning in lunchtime spin or circuits sessions to counteract your otherwise sedentary lifestyle. But what few perhaps consider where keeping active is concerned is that the options are not confined to either doing nothing or doing frantic short bursts of exercise. There is, in fact, a third way; and that way is walking.

If you read yesterday’s (somewhat’ self-indulgent) blog you’ll be aware I’m currently suffering from the Lurgy (aka the common cold). The worst thing about being poorly, to my mind, is the inability to exercise, and it was as I was mulling this over yesterday afternoon – feeling grumpy after having to cancel my attendance at Wednesday night running club – that it hit me. I may not be well enough to run, but what’s to stop me walking?

And so, instead of taking public transport to the charity networking event I was attending near Waterloo, I walked. It took half an hour and it was lovely. The fresh air cleared my head and I saw a vast array of interesting sights and sounds. I even witnessed four seasons in one day, as the song goes, with alternate sunshine, showers and blustery winds.

When I arrived at the event one of the girls expressed surprise when I said I’d walked. Despite living in London she claimed never to walk anywhere and always to take the tube. My initial reaction to this comment was a feeling of mild disdain-until it dawned on me that I was exactly the same. Whenever I have to get from A to B in London I check the tube map first, with the over ground train line a close second and the bus route a distant third. It rarely occurs to me to leave more time for my journey and walk instead. Why should it? As a Londoner my time is scarce enough.

But then I remembered a date I went on a couple of years ago with a boy who suggested meeting at the South Bank. When I arrived, rather than go for a drink he suggested we go for a walk. At first I found this suggestion somewhat odd – everyone knows a bit of alcohol in the system helps calm first date nerves – but as we walked I began to relax and enjoy the experience. We walked for a long time, sharing observations and chatting about our favourite things. It was both a charming and eye opening experience (and yes, we did have a drink – or three – at the end of the epic walk). The relationship never developed beyond that date, and my pledge to walk more also fell by the wayside – until, that is, yesterday.

Whilst vigorous cardiovascular exercise is if course important – and I say this with the authority of someone who will be doing their second half marathon in September – exercise doesn’t always have to be vigorous. In fact, as I discovered yesterday, it’s far better to walk if you’re feeling under the weather than to do nothing at all.

Often neglected in favour of its more popular sibling, running, walking is a more gentle form of exercise that’s good for the soul. Not only does it provide an opportunity to explore the place in which you live and observe the people in it (people watching has long been a favourite pastime of mine – a trait I get from my mum), it also offers space for quiet self-reflection and – for the more creative types amongst us – a prime opportunity for inspiration to strike.

In short, walking rocks – so why not get off the bus or tube a stop early on your way home this evening and give it a try?

The plight of Rhinopharyngitis

The Common Cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, acute coryza and, my personal favourite, rhinopharyngitis).

Symptoms: Frequent sneezing; throat like sandpaper; obscene amount of snot flowing indiscriminately from nasal region; general fatigue and listlessness, decreased appetite for everything other than tomato soup and chocolate-based foodstuffs.

Incompatible with: Sleeping soundly; going about your daily life, exercising, being cheerful.

Cure: INCURABLE (to put this in context, there’s recently been talk of finding a cure for AIDS, yet the most common illness of them all cannot be conquered? Who are these scientists? And are they serious?).

Did you know that the average adult contracts two to three colds a year, with the average child contracting between six and twelve? Whilst not debilitating, colds have the ability to zap us of our joie de vivre, making even the simplest of tasks seem suddenly unbearably difficult.

It starts with a general feeling of malaise and exhaustion. You’re too tired to go for a run, to cook dinner, to meet friends for a drink. Even the thought of hanging up the washing leaves you drained beyond all reasonable measure.

Then comes the sneezing; huge howlers that catch you unawares on buses and tube trains, prompting all those in the immediate vicinity to turn away in disgust. You wander the streets like a leper, residing in the shadows with mouth covered and a grotty tissue clasped in your sweaty hand.

Your throat is scratchy and no amount of water, wine or hot Ribena (just me?) can quench your thirst. You catch sight of yourself in the mirror and feel certain Caspar the friendly ghost would envy your complexion. Even your hair is lacklustre.

You go about your tasks like an automaton; without enthusiasm. You begin to avoid people, conversation dries up. Your single waking thought revolves around your need to be in bed – alone, and with a box set of your favourite TV programme. You have, in the space of a few short days, become a virtual recluse.

If armies used the common cold virus against their enemies in war it would surely help them secure victory. Imagine a whole squadron of trained killers feeling a bit below par, having to stop every now and then to blow their nose or take some cold and flu tablets. Imagine the gains the opposition could make!

Put simply (and crudely-from the mouth of someone in the throes of one right now), the common cold sucks balls – big, hairy, snot-filled ones.

So there.

I’m going slightly against my picture rule today but thought I’d spare you a picture of my ghostly face and eye bags, and instead post a picture of the common cold itself. Pretty little blighter ain’t it?