After several months of hard work, May brought opportunities for restoration and recreation. I rolled off the stressful project onto a new one, as well as taking a couple of holidays: hiking the end of the Coast-to-Coast trail, and spending a week in a tiny village in Sweden. I also had a number of visitors to the valley, which was lovely.
Sweden was the highlight of my month. I arrived in the country a few hours after rolling off the project. There was a sense of relief to being away from England, with Manchester airport feeling like a metaphor for where our country is at. After a night in an airport hotel I took a series of buses to Uddebo, a tiny village of 250-400 people. I spent my time there reading and swimming in the river Assman. While the trip definitely had a pagan/Midsommar vibe, all the people I met were lovely and I can’t wait to go back.
I walked 487,475 steps during the month, an average of 15,725 per day. My total was boosted by a few days walking the final stages of the Coast-to-Coast trail. This is an incredibly sociable route, with some very well good food and accommodation stops. The Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge was probably one of the best pubs I’ve ever visited. I’ve also written up some of the Pennine Way hikes I did in April: Hebden Bridge to Ponden, Ponden to Gargrave and my grim hike from Gargrave to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Despite all the walking I did in May, I put on 2½ pounds, so I guess I need to pay a little more attention to my diet.
Between work and holidays, my writing has been a little scrappy, but I’ve also had the chance to do some more strategic thinking, and have a new zine of short stories almost ready to go. The big challenge is producing a good-looking cover, but I am hoping to have something to on etsy in June. Once that is done then I will be returning to the South Downs Way stories. ChatGPT and creative writing continues to be an interesting area, and I’ve written up some of my research into this. I’ve also published a much-delayed post on Why ARGs never worked.
If my writing has been chaotic, my reading has been even worse, not helped by the Kindle – I have about a dozen e-books in various states of completion, and probably need to abandon some of the slower-moving ones. The Jeremy Deller book Art is Magic was a highlight, and Nick Harkaway’s Titanium Noir was good, light riverside reading. Francis Wheen’s Strange Days Indeed was a second hand bookshop find, and provided an interesting view on how very strange the 70s were. One thing that stuck out in particular was how the current political situation is relatively stable compared to the depths Britain plumbed in the 70s.
Succession came to a close, although I’ve not really enjoyed the 4th season – I think I preferred watching Logan Roy torment the siblings to the actual succession drama. I completed From Season 1, still unsure where that is headed, and also finished The Last of Us. I managed to go about 8 weeks without watching a movie then crammed three in the Bank Holiday with Sooxanne: In the Earth, Old and a rewatch of time-loop sci-fi drama Edge of Tomorrow. I still haven’t managed to get into Yellowjackets Season 2.
I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts this month. Pop Could Never Save Us continues to be awesome. Despite being dropped by NPR, the Louder than a Riot team managed a great second season, including a fantastic episode about ilovemakonnen’s experience as a queer rapper. There was also a great emergency podcast on the coronation by the Indelicates, Cat Vincent and Rob Rider Hill.
I continue to feel uncertain about social media. Towards the end of the month, I had my Instagram account shut down because their automated systems thought I was a bot. The account wasn’t particularly precious to me, but almost losing it in such a high-handed way is frustrating. Mastodon seems great but doesn’t have the scale of community that Twitter does.
As I mentioned above, I rolled off the stressful work project. One downside to this was leaving a team that I loved working with (another is that I quickly stopped having work dreams and my nightmares are back to their old subjects). The new project has needed a little preparation, and I’ve enjoyed reading about Domain Driven Design and team topologies.
- I actually went to a gig, seeing Talvin Singh at the Trades Club, with support from Mayshe Mayshe.
- A lack of decent decaff in Sweden means I have started drinking caffeine again, which means I will have to go through the withdrawal at some point.
- I’ve long been signed up to El Sandifer’s patreon, and was delighted that she had her first professional comics publication in 2000AD this month.
- I failed to click with Department of Truth when I first read it, but I am now hooked. It’s a very strange comic about conspiracy theory, with some fantastic art.
- Ava and I went to the Ley-hunter’s annual gathering, held this year run Todmorden.