24. How will I spend my down time?

back drop to first farewell

back drop to first farewell

Time is racing on. We have had a few conversations with friends culminating in the incredible statement of“Well if we don’t see you again before you go….” Can it really be that close? Yes! Combined with the number of tasks we still have to complete before departure, our time available for socialising is reducing rapidly: most Sundays will involve an early start for a series of carboot sales to divest ourselves of the remaining ‘stuff’ which hopefully someone else might find useful or desirable and even raise a little pocket of funds in the process. So we will struggle to have late Saturday nights if we need to rise at 4-5am on Sunday! I have found one sale which starts at 12 midday – yippee!!

with my niece in Barcelona

with my niece in Barcelona

Whilst we are starting to say goodbyes to the only really miss-able feature of our current lives it still doesn’t seem quite real. Our initial adventure will be 5 months in total and despite best attempts at more frequency, I am well aware that there are periods when we don’t see some our friends for that length of time whilst we are still at home. This week we have met up with some friends who are also holidaying in the Scottish Highlands. We have both driven over an hour to meet at a pub in Killin for lunch – a very long lunch – but only live 10-15mins apart at home. I met my niece in Barcelona a few years ago when she was staying Seville. We only live an hour apart at home! So maybe the time lapse wont be as much of a wrench as I first thought.

I find that our routines and hectic lives at home can make socialising something which has to be worked at despite the obvious pleasure and enjoyment. Slobbing in front of the TV- not having to get showered and changed, think about engaging conversation, listening to other people’s entertaining and amusing repartee – is so much easier even if it is less enjoyable and fulfilling. Is it pure laziness?

Watching TV or films is uni-directional, if that, in terms of our participation. We see and listen, we do not have to process, analyse and produce a response unless we chose to. TV, in all its manifestations, is definitely the opiate of the masse of the 21st Century. It is so easy to get drawn into various series – soaps or otherwise. We can live vicariously through fictional characters or real participants so who needs to go and obtain a real life; more ‘friends’ are just a click away on social media. We can observe and comment on the antics of friends of friends – people we’ve never even met – so why would we want to shift from the comfort of the sofa, except to go to the gym to burn off some calories which is not happening naturally in this sedentary life full of labour-saving/calorie conserving devices. Even better, let’s watch programmes about food and baking, encouraging us to consume more calories. The whole process seems somewhat illogical.

I am a TV addict though. It will be a significant wrench for me to not watch any programmes for 5 months (bar the occasional film). Skyplus has been fatal, I never miss an episode of anything therefore become more engrossed in the plots and characters of numerous shows. I record programmes with which I wouldn’t necessarily bother but if they are recommended by someone somewhere I give it a go because I can. Releasing the memory on the skybox becomes another chore – I need to watch some TV because the memory is almost full.

I do enjoy a number of programmes, none of them are the conventional soaps but what were The Sopranos, Friday Night Lights, Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville and The Good Wife if not forms of soap opera? Is it significant that they’re all American? Thursday nights were my guilty secret when I could watch the latter 2 back to back just using the recording to skip through the adverts. I may be a late adopter but I’ve also just started watching the re-run of Game of Thrones, initially to find out what all the hype was about but have been sucked in already. There is no way I’ll be up to date before we leave, I’ll need to learn to walk away (or read the books, although they do not entice me as it is not my usual genre of choice). I will even resist the temptation to start watching new seasons of previously enjoyed programmes starting this autumn, Homeland wont be the same without Brody anyway – he’s British, does that reveal some patriotism?

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beats shopping in Asda

I have never been interested in cooking, gardening, house makeovers, reality programmes of any sort but am now one of the 7.85 million people who has picked up this season of the Great British Bake Off. My excuse is that if all our guests are watching these programmes we may need to up our game, particularly in terms of presentation as their expectations may be commensurate with those standards. So I’m only watching for professional purposes in the hope of gleaning some tips and ideas – honestly.

Freedom from the lure of the screen will be quite a relief but will also cut me off from a major source of popular culture. I wonder if I’ll still be able to obtain the Sunday Times in resort, even if it is a few days late? I hope so, it really isn’t the same to read it on-line (and I’ll need the paper to start the fires). I think I’ll need to be weaned gradually so thank goodness for watch again services as well otherwise how will I know how the contestants faired in the Strictly final? Just knowing the outcome wont be sufficient – I think, but it does remain to be seen. Perhaps I’ll be able to tap the guests for weekly updates.

Sept 2014

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