Good evening, everybody. How are you mid-heatwave? I hope you are enjoying the warm weather and sunshine, and have suitable plans in place for when it gets even hotter this weekend coming. In fairness, as I write this weekly blog episode, it’s actually raining.
That’s right. It’s chucking it down here in Gloucestershire. We definitely have our own, very wet, climate in these parts. I think the weather follows a weird rule which says that a forecast of anything above 8% chance of rain is in reality a guarantee it’ll be wet. I guess the nursery rhyme about Dr Foster had a point.
Thankfully I had my One Hour Outside much earlier in the day (a wander into Cheltenham for lunch at Giggling Squid – delicious), so I’m not too sad it’s raining. I’m quite happy sitting in my lounge listening to and watching the rain through the open patio door. The ground will be loving it, too, and it should go some way to refilling my empty water butt.
The best thing about this? It smells amazing. There is genuinely something wonderful about rain after several days of hot and dry weather.
Channelling My Inner Ratty
After another very busy week at work, although definitely less chaotic-feeling than it did in June, I did my best to make the most of the sunny weekend. On Saturday morning I got up and out first thing to get some time on the river before the sun got too hot and the river got too crowded.
I had a mission in mind. As a relative newbie to river paddling (my boating experience has been lake/sea based until recently), I’ve no real concept of how far a mile is in a kayak – in terms of time taken or fitness required (or how hungry it’ll make me!). I wanted to find out. I didn’t realise until the weekend that there are paddling routes on OS Maps (did you know this?!), so I picked one that showed 3.5 miles and decided to go and see how that felt.
It took just over 90 minutes all in, including plenty of stops for photos and to watch the wildlife. I know that’s slow, I would say it was intentionally leisurely (as I fully expect to be every time I take my kayak out). But it was handy to get an idea of how far I might be able to go when I’m a little more paddling fit and can do half a day or even a full day out.
My route took me upstream along the River Avon (upstream on the way out so it’s a bit easier on the way back), to an impressive weir with a lock. I sat at that midway point for quite a while, watching a couple of narrowboats navigate up onto the next section of river. And then, of course, I turned around and paddled back.
There were so many dragonflies! I honestly don’t think I’ve seen so many dragonflies in one go as I did on Saturday morning. It was so lovely to be sat in the complete calm and quiet of the river, watching the bright blue insects darting around. I only had my phone, so I didn’t even attempt to get any photos of the speedy things, but know it was beautiful. More paddles like that, please.
I was off the water by 11am, by which time it was getting very warm, the car park at my chosen launch site was rammed, and the river a few metres in either direction was busy with people splashing around. I’m always happy to see people enjoying the outdoors (absolutely the more the merrier!), but it’s no secret that I prefer my own outdoors time to be away from the masses.
When I returned to the launch there was even an ice cream van waiting for me; a perfect morning outside?! Quite possibly.
Kayak Review Coming Soon
A reminder that, as mentioned in episode 107 of my weekly blog series, my kayak was a gift from Aquaplanet. I will be reviewing it properly once I’ve had chance to use it a few more times, but I can already tell you this is a really great bit of water-based kit. Well made, sturdy, easy to inflate and deflate, compact and not too heavy to carry on my own. More on that another day.
My Morning Routine
There are a lot of YouTube videos and blog posts around at the moment sharing the author’s “morning routine”. It’s a weird thing, learning what certain people on the internet do from the moment they wake up in the morning to the time they consider their working day to begin. But for some unknown reason, I find it strangely fascinating.
The main thing that strikes me is just how much time these people have. More than one of the videos I’ve landed on covering this topic have a morning routine that takes three hours. I mean, mine takes two hours from alarm clock to leaving the house, so it’s not the time per se, it’s that they don’t even get up early – both of those had an 8am alarm. And there never seem to be chores involved. It’s another world.
Generally speaking, in the week, I get up around 6.30am. I don’t get up much later than that at the weekend, but on workdays (or adventure days!) it’s thanks to an alarm clock, whereas at other times I get up when I wake up naturally.
I don’t have a shouty alarm or anything like that, my Lumie Bodyclock Active (reviewed in this old post but no longer available – the Bodyclock Shine 300 is similar) wakes me up gently, helped by the sunrise feature on our Phillips Hue bedroom lights, and the radio comes on too, just to make sure.
Kettle On, Pen Out
Once downstairs, I’ll put the kettle on, drink some water, take my vitamins, put away the dishes from the previous night, put a load of laundry in the machine if needed, and make tea. At this time of year, I also head outside to give the garden a decent watering, using the water butt when possible, or resorting to the hosepipe if there’s nothing left in there.
Once the garden and I have had a drink, I will spend ten minutes on my morning pages. Mentioned back in episode 107 of my weekly blog series, morning pages is a type of journaling which asks the individual to spend a few minutes first thing each morning free flow writing. You’re supposed to write anything that comes into your head, using it as a tool to tap into your inner thoughts, allowing you to turn hard-to-describe feelings into sentences.
My practice is not fully as the creator intended; I only fill one page of my A5 notebook. But to be honest, finding ten minutes is a start, and at least this way I am getting some of the benefits of the daily routine.
I’m on day 41 of doing this as part of my morning routine (I only do it when I’m at home), but I am finding it helps me to at least begin my day with a few deep breaths and a clear head.
By around 7am, or there abouts, I’m tip tapping away on my laptop. I’m either stood at the sideboard in the kitchen, or sat in the office, but either way, it’s time to get some computer-based tasks off my list.
There’s just something about getting stuff done in the morning before I start work or head out for a mini adventure that makes a massive difference to my enjoyment of the rest of the day, so I give myself an hour to get through some adminny bits. It might be emails, blog drafting, trip planning, appointment making, or a variety of other must-do tasks. Oh, and some social media, there’s always a bit of twitter and instagram in there, too!
The key thing is I’ve normally decided which tasks I will tackle the day before, thanks to my use of the Microsoft To Do app, as featured in my Currently Loving post back in July 2020. Being productive right after my first cup of tea is very much thanks to preparation – I’m ready to switch on and get going.
Of course, I will also make and drink a second cup of tea during this time, I generally drink my only caffeine of the day pre-9am.
Squatting and Washing
I actually start getting properly ready for the day at around 8am. You know, the whole showering and getting dressed thing. Apparently this is part of being an adult. And to be honest, it’s the thing that most people leave out of their morning routine blogs and vlogs, but they must do it.
Within this bit, I also squeeze in 50 squats. I don’t know when or why I started that, I think I listened to a podcast about habit stacking and they suggested squatting while you brushed your teeth, and for some weird reason that idea stuck – and so did the habit. That’s right, I knock out 50 deep squats in the two minutes it takes to clean my teeth in the morning. Clean teeth and worked thighs!
This only works because I have an electric toothbrush, I’ve tried when I’m away from home and using a manual brush, and I just can’t do both that and squat at the same time! At least when I’m at home, I give my thighs and core a bit of a wake up before jumping in the shower.
The whole washing and dressing portion of my morning routine, including making the bed (I always make the bed, it makes it feel much nicer at the other end of the day), really doesn’t take me long. I spend longer on those laptop tasks, in all honesty.
If I’m working in the office, I’ll be out of the door just after 8.30am (at the latest), so this morning routine weekly blog episode isn’t going to turn into a get ready with me or anything like that! It helps that I don’t have many outfits to choose from, that my hair dries perfectly fine without applying heat, and my makeup of choice is some green cream and concealer.
Creatures of Habit
Before I run out of the door, I will get the now finished laundry on the line, set the dishwasher going if it needs it, and fill a flask with (decaffeinated) tea. It’s a pretty full two-hours from waking up to leaving the house, but it’s one that seems to work for me. Most days, anyway.
Other things come and go. For example, most Monday mornings I’ll do very little computer admin so I can go and do a small top-up shop at the local supermarket, getting a walk in to start my week and making sure we have what we need to fill our bellies for a few days. And most Friday mornings I will strip the bed so I can put fresh sheets on at the end of the working day.
What was meant to be a comment on morning routines has ended up with me sharing mine in quite some detail and length – I think I’ll end up subtitling this weekly blog episode as “morning routine” so you know it’s coming! It turns out I actually have quite a set routine. We are creatures of habit, after all.
Go on then, how does the first two hours of my day compare to yours? What are the things you try and do each day?
In the Mail
Before I finish up this weekly blog post I want to share two lovely deliveries I’ve had this week. Both gifted, these aren’t reviews (yet) as the stuff is new, but I wanted to include both in this weekly blog episode.
I feel oh so comfortable this evening sat in my new loungewear outfit from my friends at Isobaa. I think I can call them my friends now, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them for quite a while – earlier this year I reviewed their super warm merino puffy coat, and I’m wearing my slippers as I write this post.
My latest package included a pair of their Women’s Merino 260 Lounge Cuffed Joggers (in the petrol colour), and the Women’s Merino 260 Lounge Sweatshirt (in smoke). Both these items are made from Isobaa’s superfine 260gm loop back Merino, and are designed to wear to stretch, recover and relax post adventure.
It really does feel luxurious having a sweat-set in such a fine material. So far, I’ve worn mine around the house (every day since they arrived), but I also intend to use these as my cold-weather pyjamas when that season comes around again.
As you know, merino wool is warm when it’s cold, breathable when it’s warm, quick drying, naturally odour resistant, and sustainable – it’s a great material all round, and Isobaa make some really fantastic wardrobe staples from it.
This pair of sunscreens arrived just in time for the current heatwave. Made by Ringana, an Austrian skincare brand with vegan and reef-friendly formulations, FRESH sunscreen is designed to protect the skin from UV light, blue light and infra-red light.
I’ve got the facial sunscreen (SPF15), which has a slight pink tinge. It is quite liquid but not runny (does that even make sense?!), smells neutral, applies easily, and has a slight matt finish. Importantly, it sits well underneath my daily-wear green cream, and so far, at least, hasn’t made my terrible skin any worse.
I also have the sunscreen balm (SPF20), which is a waterproof sunscreen which uses zinc oxide to protect from UV rays. Much thicker than the facial version, this is harder to spread around the body, but it still soaks in quickly. And it certainly prevented burning this weekend, including when I was out kayaking on Saturday morning.
I’m no skin or sun specialist, but so far I think these are really lovely products – it’s nice to have an opportunity to try something new like this. When getting the links for these products for my weekly blog I noticed they do a tinted moisturiser, which I might treat myself to sometime. Have you tried anything from this brand? Let me know.
I’ve written another essay and it’s getting late (it stopped raining, but the sky does look like it’s about to explode again), so I’ll end this episode of my weekly blog series here. Do drop me a line in the comments below, or come over to twitter and say hello over there. And I’ll see you sometime next week for more insights into the my weird life!
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