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w/e 2023-05-21

From Essex to London to Herefordshire this week.

When I arrive in London, or any big city (Hereford is not big), I feel like I’m vibrating with the thrill of being around so much happening. Not even big events, just so many people and places and things, and all so varied.

It was brilliant, but after three days I felt drained and it was a relief to get back to the silence and green fields of rural Herefordshire, where I can sit in the garden all day and not see – rarely even hear – another human. I’m very fortunate to be able to experience and enjoy both extremes.

One reason for London being tiring was all the walking. I’m not very good at planning trips. I get excited about going somewhere but then arrive and realise I haven’t planned anything to actually do. So I end up trying to fill the time with long walks between friends, coffee shops, cinemas, second-hand bookshops, etc. Which is great – just being in a city, especially in last week’s surprisingly perfect weather, is enough – but tiring. My devices tell me that over three days I walked 42km (29 miles).

I forget how long it can take to get from A to B in London by public transport, having been spoilt by living within walking distance of so much there. From Holborn to our friend’s house in Clapham (6.5km / 4 miles as the crow flies) was upwards of 45 minutes, whether by walking-and-bus or by several-tubes-and-walking. Walking-and-bus between a pub in Peckham and a second-hand bookshop in Brixton (3km / 2 miles) would have taken longer than the 45 minute walk, allowing for traffic and roadworks. I must remember this when I complain about the 30 minute drive to Hereford or Abergavenny from here (although most of that complaint is about driving, or being a car passenger, rather than the time).

The walking was lovely though. Avoiding main roads, in sunny weather with a gentle breeze, London can feel surprisingly chill, quiet, and relaxed. Strolling past primary schools and pubs, parks and squares, terraces and flats, with little traffic and not too many people.

One reason I was in London was for Interesting which was very good. Having it in the evening worked well – you don’t have lunch breaking up the flow. Every speaker was good in very different ways, fascinating and/or fun. And so many lovely friends to catch up with.

A photo of a wooden stage with Russell gesturing at a big screen on which text reads 'To thine own self be true'. In the foreground is some red and yellow bunting.
Russell with the first rule of Interesting 2023, taken from the slogan painted above the stage

I saw two films in London, both at the Curzon Bloomsbury:

  • Return to Seoul (Davy Chou, 2022). Felt a bit unneccessarily slow at points but good, and a really interesting, not entirely likeable, protagonist.
  • One Fine Morning (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2022). Only OK for a lot of it, but had a couple of great, touching moments. Felt like I really needed to watch something happy afterwards though.

I don’t like big cinemas being cut up into smaller screens but the Renoir, as was, was already cut up, and two of those were very oddly angled. This Curzon feels very swish and the seats were comfy.

§ I recently tried out the macOS/iOS/iPadOS calendar apps Fantastical and BusyCal solely because I wanted to be able to enable/disable one group of calendars with a single click. My life isn’t complicated enough to need any of their other extra, clever features.

Thankfully it turns out the free version of Fantastical gives you one “Calendar Set” so I can switch between that and “All Calendars” and my problem is solved. I thought my choice might be to pay £60/year (Fantastical) or $50 for 18 months of updates (BusyCal) solely for one checkbox.

I’d quite like my to dos to appear in my calendar, rather than a separate app. I use Things, which is great, but those two calendar apps only support Apple’s Reminders or Todoist.

Unfortunately, yet again, I stumbled into the problem that I like my tasks to have two dates: “Date I should start doing this” and “Date this must be completed by” which are usually different (or I only use the first one). But Reminders and Todoist only have a single date per task. Hacking my way around that (e.g. putting the deadline in the task’s title) feels positively barbaric – it’s a date, it should be in a date field – solely to have them appear in my calendar.

I suspect the solution to my actual task question – why aren’t I getting even this minimal number of tasks done? – is that I should organise myself a bit better, slightly more GTD-style, rather than have a single list of tasks that sits in “Today” for week after week.

Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

§ That’s all. Time for some more sunshine – I hope you’re getting some if possible.

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