Went for a short family walk that turned into a respectable 6k.Went for a short family walk on the Wiltshire Downs that turned into a respectable 6k. Wildflowers and birds and a big sky. Skylark, whitethroat, blackcap, yellow hammer, corn bunting and willow warbler.

Took this photo from a long barrow. And according to the map, crossed a Roman road. History beneath our feet.

Have been looking at new bikes. I don’t need one. And frankly, finding one I’d want at the moment is not that easy.

My son and I have been cycling more of late. He is on a bigger bike now and is far more capable so that opens up many new possibilities.

I bought my bike secondhand some years ago. It’s a mish-mash of components, some good, some not so good. The previous owner used it as a kind of mobile graveyard for components no longer needed when upgrading his other bikes. A mongrel bike of indeterminate provenance.

But it’s fine. I actually like it.

I was recently listening to a podcast that touched on consumerism amongst other things. The challenge was posed to ask yourself this question when considering making a purchase ; what problem does this solve?

This got me thinking. We have had lots of discussions as a family over the past year or so about waste, plastic, recycling and the environment. Along with many others, it has made us think more about how we spend our money and the impact on the world that can have.

So, back to the question; what problem would a new bike solve?

Erm, well, it would have a more up to date frame and geometry. Better shocks. Better brakes.

Yes, but what problem would that solve?

It would go better…?

What? What does that mean? My existing bike ‘goes’ just fine.

Face it, my bike does the job. Does it pretty well in fact. Ok, it could benefit from better brakes. And yes, it does have a problem changing up from one particular gear. But surely that doesn’t justify a new bike.

And to flip the earlier question on it’s head; what problem would buying a new bike create? I would need to sell my current one or it would just sit around taking up space.

So, I’ve talked myself out of buying a new one. Which is ok. It makes me feel more invested in the one I have – I want to spend time keeping it maintained and in good order.

I will index the gears and see if I can sort the problem out with the gear change. I will keep it oiled and such on a more regular basis.

I will see if I can improve the action of the brakes. No, hang on a minute – I’ve tried that before. And it didn’t work. They really aren’t that great. Be honest. A set of new brakes is no where near the cost of a new bike. Wouldn’t that be a happy compromise?

I could live with that.

Blogging for me is a way to process thoughts. This is mostly an in-out system. Stuff happens, I think about it, I write.

Not everything ends up on the blog. Many sentences jotted down go no further. But things that need working out in more depth will probably end up as a post.

For the last week though, I’ve been in a log-jam. Too much to process.

Statues, protests, police violence, BLM, climate change, coronavirus, those that have, those that don’t, will a relation need cancer treatment, no school until September, how will we manage that, how are my elderly parents really doing, what kind of world is my son growing up in, the van needs a service, I’d like more sleep.

I have enjoyed listening to the rain this week. And the blackbirds singing afterwards.

Last year, I was voraciously reading forum posts and articles relating to mental illness. It was the early days after my wake up call and I was trying to learn as much as I could. From time to time I would come across someone voicing the question ‘Where do I end and my mental illness begin?’

It was reassuring to see others express this as it reflected what was going through my mind.

What is this thing in my head, messing with my mind?

I was experiencing a sense of horror; I was not clear which parts were me and which parts were the illness. It was overwhelming.

Considering the question of ends and beginnings further, I began to ask was this even the right question? It presupposes that there is a defined border between our true selves and mental illness. I think it is helpful to recognise what behaviours or thought processes can be attributed to a mental illness. And some people recommend treating your illness as almost a separate entity. Even naming it.

Unsurprisingly though, as time has moved on I have begun to view the relationship between me and the illness as much more complex. Sometimes it is really obvious that a thought or action comes from the illness. But often it is not until much later that I realise what has been behind some thought process or other. Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTs are one of the things you learn about when researching mental health issues and as the name suggests these happen without you even realising. (They are also called Negative Automatic Thoughts but NATs is not so much fun as ANTs).

Probably due to living with social anxiety disorder for so many years, I have become adept at avoiding situations that I deem threatening, but presenting myself and others with reasons why I can’t do a thing that are totally unrelated to anxiety. A form of denial that I often don’t recognise until later.

So I do think the question is valid, it’s just that it is not always quite so binary but something more nuanced. Learning to discern what is rational and what is not takes a long time. And that’s just part of learning to live with and overcome mental illness.

Flexibits have removed the annoying pop-up prompts to sign up for the premium version of Fantastical on iOS. It is now much more pleasant to use again. The natural language input is just brilliant and being able to use actions in Drafts for setting up events makes for a really useful workflow.

I am still yet to be convinced that the premium version is worth it, much as I would like to have access to Fantastical on the Mac. Scheduling is something I have to spend time doing quite a lot of, so maybe it would be worth it…

Switching my WordPress theme to SemPress recently, I didn’t realise it lacked a search function. The previous theme did and it was handy to have as I have trouble remembering when I wrote something.

So a bit of fiddling to do with the website this weekend.