Talent spotting, couch surfing and getting the autumn blues…

Standing at the window looking out – as I am wont to do on most slow Fridays – waiting for our old, creaky coffee machine to piddle out water for my cup of tea, G. asks me if I am ‘talent’ spotting.

I do not ask what exactly he means, but there can be no ambivalence here. The coffee machine sits right next to a large window, with a view which although largely taken up by monolithic grey, granite buildings does include enough of the perennially busy street to provide a feast for sore eyes on most days. Unfortunately on this occasion there is no talent to be spotted. It is that nearly dead period just before lunch hours kick in across the city where most serious talent is locked behind desks squirrelling away at work rather than strutting their stuff across the streets. The clear nip in the air also means that what sparse talent there might be is very well covered up, the skimpy summer outfits now replaced by coats and scarves. G. and I moan about the weather – it is predicted to hover between 10 and 14 degrees all weekend with a smattering of showers here and there; hardly the kind of weather to inspire any serious weekend plans. The darned autumn I suppose.

Early on Saturday morning, I drag myself out of bed, plod in my slippers to my kitchen and grab my now regular morning cup of water. All around there is a dense greyness – thick and heavy like a cloak smothering the horizon – which does little to assuage my lethargy.

In the end, I just about make it to the gym – the sense that a rubicon of sorts might be crossed if I don’t make it for a third straight Saturday is the coup de grâce to my vacillation. It is my regular bit of self-flagellation where my keg-bearing, barely-fit self inevitably ends up flanked by delectable, incredibly fit, well-toned women in skimpy outfits seemingly designed to promote their prime assets. As always, these fine specimens of the human species proceed to run at great speeds and for extreme lengths of time whilst I lumber along. In my defence, I am keen to not hurt my knees again – at least that is how I deal with being hopeless at keeping up with these goddesses.

Having flopped about and pretended to run for all of forty minutes, it is home time for some cereal and yoghurt (surely I am not the only one who has a liking for steaming hot oats doused in fat free yoghurt). I run a hot bath and proceed to get my hovel of a room into a slightly more habitable state. An hour later, various items of clothing have been stashed away with the laundry popped into the machine; at which time my conscience is sated enough to allow me go see a movie at the Beach Boulevard. This time it is About Time, the Richard Curtis film about a time traveling bloke who uses his powers to re-jig his countless faux pas in the quest for love, helping his London host become a renowned playwright by helping the lead character remember his previously fluffed lines. It reeks too much of Love Actually to me – there are only so many ways you can juggle a mix of philosophical voiceovers, Bill Nighly, British accents and a sappy  love theme. Not that I mind too much though, given I have re-watched Love Actually every Christmas since 2006 *cringe*

That sets the tone for the rest of the weekend – football manager on my MacBook, re-runs of the Big-Bang Theory and extended BBM sessions with the kid brother are the only things I get up to till it is Sunday morning and church time.

Not bad going.. I think…

Small Change #3 – Get off your couch

From the 52 Small Changes book:

An active mind cannot exist in an inactive body

                                                                                    – General George S. Patton

Last week’s change didn’t exactly go down very well – my fitbit sleep data suggests I didn’t do as well as I thought I would (averaged 6 hours 7 minutes of sleep as against 5 hours 52 minutes the week before); still shy of the 7 hour target. On a slightly more positive note, my water drinking challenge continues apace, thanks to my 600ml mug perched right next to my bed it seems.

This week the challenge is to get more active, something I am already doing a lot of between walking to and from work, church and the shops and going to the gym thrice a week.

For the plan this week, two main things stand out as potential focus areas:

  1. Take an active lunch – not have lunch at my desk this week but go somewhere further than I usually do (loads of different places in Union Square :))
  2. Take the stairs at work rather than the elevator.

Currently listening to: Hope Will Lead Us On – Barlow Girl

5 Tests of Compatibility

From my current read, Ben Young and Dr Sam Adams’ book – The One: A Realistic Guide to Choosing Your Soul Mate.

  1. Is there chemistry? Are you sexually/ physically attracted to your partner?
  2. Is your relationship natural? Do things flow naturally or are you spending a lot more time resolving issues than demonstrating a natural fit?
  3. Would this be a good friend? If the chemistry was removed, is it someone you’d want to be with, whose company you enjoy?
  4. Can you accept his or her personality as is? Could you spend the rest of your life with the person as they are?
  5. Would you want your kids to be like him or her? Could you envision a future in which your children turn out like him or her?

Oh and to pass the test, it must be ‘Yes’, 100%…

London, Again


I first moot the idea of meeting up with Tee casually one Saturday evening, between getting a snapshot of her calendar for the next few months – it is chock full with work and travel – and getting tips for scaling back on my coffee drinking, after which it turns out that there are no airports in her corner of the world. That puts the downer on any inclinations to jump on a flight on my part – I famously never travel anywhere I’ll have to sit still for more than 8 hours – until she mentions she might be in London sometime over the next few weeks. It turns out I only get four days notice, and I barely have time to sort out fights and holidays, hop on a flight and appear in London.

She is someone I’ve wanted to meet in person for a while. Since we were introduced, we’ve restricted ourselves to a telephone conversation now and again, and the odd picture swap on WhatsApp – hardly enough to get a sense for what makes her tick or if indeed she just be might the future Mrs S. 🙂

I end up not getting a holiday approved, eventually settling for a quick 36 hour round trip – up to London at mid day on Saturday and back into the ‘Deen for 8pm on sunday night. That leaves me just enough time to get to the gym on Saturday morning, grab my weekly groceries, shower and catch the 727 to the airport at Dyce for my 1.25pm flight.

In the end, my Saturday morning does not work like a well oiled machine. The gym opens 15 minutes late, ASDA’s slightly more full than I recall for a Saturday morning, and I end up back home for just past 11.45am. By the time I have showered, and tossed a pair of jeans and a change of clothes in my bag, it is nearly 12.10pm; too late to catch the 727 so I high tail it to the taxi rank on Union Street and grab a cab, thanks to whose dexterity and quick thinking, I end up at the airport and clear security five minutes before the boarding announcement is made.

By the time I arrive in London, to much wetter, chillier weather than the last time, all that is on my mind is to find my way to the obscure hotel I have booked in Central London and some food. It takes me the better part of an hour and thirty minutes to reach the hotel via the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters and the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus.  Food ends up being Nandos, thankfully spotted as I made my way thanks to Google Maps via a few backstreets to the hotel. Intermittent text messages between myself and Tee end up being the inspiration to soldier on amidst all my tribulations.

 As I always do on these trips, I make a pitstop at the Dominion Theatre for Hillsong, fortuitously they have a guest speaker on the day, Dr Mal Fletcher on the subject of Being a Marketplace Transformer and how Christians need to engage and transform it rather than ignore it for our bubbles. It is a fitting start to what turns out to be a great day about town.

Tee turns out to be way more gorgeous than her pictures suggest, and we have enough of shared interests to have a wide ranging conversation about anything and everything; so much so that over per-peri chicken and coke zero we talk for so long it is nearly 5pm by the time I reluctantly pull away for the wild race to Heathrow.

Three train changes later, I make it through security at Heathrow, barely in time again; thankful for a delayed flight than ever before, and giddy at just how great an evening I have had.. Somewhere in my heart, my inner romantic hopes that I may have just met theOne 🙂

Small Change #2 – Get Your ZZZs

From the 52 Small Changes book:

Sleep is the best meditation

– Dalai Lama

Last week’s small change went fairly well – bar the odd day on which one coffee just didn’t sort me out. By the end of the week, I was reaching instinctively for my 600ml bottle of water to kick start my day, before anything else. The slightly harder challenge was staying off the cokes, which I did for the most part except for two days – along with a green leaf salad for Wednesday for lunch and on Friday afternoon during my monthly catch up with O. at Nandos. All told there has been noticeable improvement in the quantity of water (and green tea) I drink, which can’t be such a bad thing.

Sleep has never been my forte. For as long as I can remember, I have been a terrible sleeper. My fitbit data only buttresses that fact, which makes the timing of small change #2 particularly apt.


The Plan

  1. Buy blackout blinds for my room to eliminate outside sources of light
  2. Stream smooth jazz music primarily to create a sleepy ambience as sleep time draws near
  3. Adjust my sleep schedule – I currently wake up around about 5am regardless of when I go to bed. The idea is to try to go to bed by 10pm at the latest.
  4. Drink a cup of decaffeinated herbal tea to ease off into sleep.

Currently listening to: Forward Motion – Thousand Foot Krutch