Tuesday, 8 January 2008

The 'no-diet' diet

Each day in the Independent, there is a free supplement which claims that it is 'the easy way to make 2008 the best year of your life'. We'll see.

The premise is that in order to lose weight permanently, one needs to change one's ingrained habits in all areas. I am not sure that I am very adaptable, but I'll give it a go. There is a different task each day. Today's task is to write something. I suppose that is proof that I have done that.

Monday, 7 January 2008


My Mum is not really improving after her stroke. The doctor today was very downbeat, talking about the possibility of her catching an infection and being unable to cope with that. Yet in fact she when I visited her, she was awake and alert and able to chat away. But I know that she will not be able to return home and that, at best, major changes will have to be made in her life, in my Dad's life and to a degree in my life. We've had a good number of years without major illness, so something like this was inevitable I guess. But it is still hard to see her so helpless when only a few weeks ago we went on a day trip to Loch Ness and she was fine. it certainly makes me think about my priorities and the need to look after myself.

Sunday, 6 January 2008


I like playing golf. I am not obsessive about it. But it is an enjoyable relaxation. I started playing as a youngster in Inverness. I've never been a really good golfer, my handicap remains at 17, but I have my moments.

This weekend, I am up in Scotland to visit my mother in hospital and to assist my dad who is now 91. Suddenly this morning, despite the temperature being barely above freezing, he decided he needed a game of golf. So we had a very pleasant 9 holes at Spey Bay, where my score was a very erratic 4,5,4,3,3,9,5,4,4. A strange way to go round in a respectable 41.

Of more importance, though, was the fact that I can have this game with my elderly father, we can get some fresh air and exercise together, and for a couple of hours at least he can forget about the problems with my Mum's illness.

Thursday, 3 January 2008


A New Year. A new beginning? Or more of the same?

Well I am not going to produce a flurry of resolutions, all likely to be broken within days. I simply want to reflect on, and built upon, things I am doing well. And try to make some improvements in things I don't do so well. I want to improve the balance in my life and realise that there will be moment of stress and moments of happiness, but mostly there will be long moments of just getting on with life.

Yes I need to lost some weight and tone up my rather pudgy body. This will be done through eating more healthily, drinking less alcohol and getting more exercise. It's not rocket-science, it is just common sense. I just need to actually do it.

My Mum has had a stroke and the effect of that on her and on our family will be an important part of the year.

I still need to work, and I need to progress that. In particular, I will need to manage my time better and try to find specific time to relax without using that time to delay those things which I need to do.

I would like to move home this year, but first there is work to be done to my flat to make it saleable. That needs to be completed early in 2008.

But above all, 2008 must be about balance. Time for me, time for others. Time for work, time for play. Moderation, but not inertia.

And since I have just returned from Thailand, I will give myself a Buddhist thought to take with me into 2008 and keep me focused.

'As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life'.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

2007 Retrospective

Okay I am a bit late for retrospectives, but I have been away for 3 weeks. And anyway I am not planning a major detailed review of 2007 - I did that in the blog entry on 12 December.

Last year I said the following -
´I don’t know what the future holds. Outside events may alter my life. Many things I cannot change. Many things I should not change. Many things I must change. I need to exercise judgement in deciding the right category. Of course sometimes I will be sad, depressed and angry. I need to control those emotions as best I can, and move forward just being myself, but a slightly better version of myself than hitherto´.

Did I manage to do that? Well partly I did. I didn't drive myself forward as much as I should have. I didn't manage my time as well as I could have. But I did my best for myself and for others. In the first half of the year we were spending time with Andrew's Dad through his illness. In the last part of the year I was spending time with my Mum through her illness.

In 2007 I travelled quite a lot, I played golf and tennis, I tried to give love and support to Andrew. Of course sometimes I ate too much and sometimes I drank too much. Sometimes I was depressed without reason, sometimes I was having fun.

My concern about the passing of 2007 is not so much what I did or didn't do during that year, but on the fact that life is short and it has just got a year shorter. So it is now the future which is important, not the past.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008


The visit is over, and shortly we will depart for the airport.

My impressions? I guess the country took a few days to grow on me. Or maybe it is that I took a few days to relax into the country. It is a country and people without moral judgements - totally accepting in a calm and friendy way. The beaches are great, the mountains are impressive, the weather is brilliant and the people are so friendly.

It has been a long way to travel, and for that reason I do not expect to be making regular return visits, but certainly I would like to return and to spend more time in those areas where our time was limited.

I could easily spend a week in Koh Samui chilling out. I could spend a week in the north exploring. And I could happily spend some time playing golf here.

And if I say that I an looking forward to getting back to the UK, that is because of issues which need my attention there and not because of any disappointment with Thailand.

The visit was partly a research trip for Amro Holidays and inevitably that meant that hotels has to be visited, people has to be seen and we partly looked at everything in the context of whether it was suitable for Amro clients.

But we have been able to enjoy ourselves as well. My highlight was probably the Wat at Chiang Saen, beautifully peaceful in itself and with an amazing view over the Mekong River to Burma and Laos. And I will remember the friendliness of the people always ready with their 'Sawatdee Kha' or 'Sawatdee Kraap'.

I am really glad we have come here.


Like all big cities, Bangkok is noisy, dusty and difficult to get around. But it is also fascinating and not without its oases of peace.

Inevitably we have done some of the organised excursions which one is rather forced to do for the sake of expediency. This meant that the grandeur of the Royal Palace was muted by the huge number of visitors there and by the fact that at each stop we had a ten minute photo opportunity before we were herded on. No time to stand and stare.

And the trip to the River Kwai suffered in the same way, although nothing could dim the moving experience of visiting the graves of the thousands who gave their lives during the notorious building of the railway during World War 2.

Of course we sampled the nightlife in the Patpong area - an extraordinary mishmash of restaurants, sex clubs and massage parlours. The climax of the Dreamboys show was, well, interesting.

Last night we welcomed in the New Year. We had a meal at Richards, made more interesting by meeting a couple from Finland and Mark, a lovely Australian guy, with whom we had a few further drinks before we moved down to one the bridges to watch the fireworks as 2008 started.

And today we had a trip on the river which showed the city at its best.

I guess anyone who visits Thailand should spend at least a couple of days in Bangkok and I am glad that we have done so.