4th October 2020
The purpose of our relocation to Galicia was to change the way we lived. We were tired of the suburban, office-bound life, and we wanted a radical change of pace. The dream became reality, and now we keep a few animals, have the space to grow our own vegetables and fruit, and we spend more of our free time creatively. My partner, who is a freelance copy editor and proof reader, works from home, often six days a week, while I am officially retired from my previous careers, and self-employed part-time as an English language teacher.
Thirty-five years of full-time employment, much of it in the commercial, corporate and academic environments, ingrained some habits that have been difficult for me to erase. I slip too easily into the need to be perpetually occupied, in order, somehow, to justify to myself how much I value this chance at a new life. I am still learning to pace myself; to set a gentler pace. I remind myself that it is OK to do nothing; to just sit, read, or watch a favourite movie on a rainy afternoon. After lunch today, I took a couple of hours to myself to sip tea, order spices online, and watch Youtube channels about chicken care!
Gardening, cooking and writing are my main occupations now that the house renovations are completed. Changes to tourism regulations by the Xunta forced us to decide not to host B&B guests to supplement our income. Applying for a pensione license may be something that we do in the future. But not now. For now, we are content to just enjoy the house we spent two years and a shed-load of money restoring.
Routine is important in the garden. I simply have to spend at least a couple of hours each day on weeding, maintaining, planting and planning, or there will be nothing to harvest, and nothing to cook. The cooking routine is a no-brainer. We both like to eat well, and I have missed the buzz of a professional kitchen since I hung up my white jacket in 2005, so I usually prepare dinner first thing in the morning, bake a cake, and knock out a few jars of preserves or pickles before lunch, and plan meals based on seasonal produce and what’s in the freezer. Now that we have taken on three chickens, their daily care is in my “in-tray.”
A rigid writing routine eludes me. I used to write late into the night, but now that I go to bed early and rise before dawn, that just doesn’t work for me anymore. So, I sought some inspiration from a few famous authors, and I discovered that their routines were as different as their literary styles. One of my favourites, Ernest Hemingway, wrote every day at first light: “There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.” This could work for me. I am a morning person. I flag after lunch, so the Spanish tradition of siesta suits me beautifully. Between the hours of three and five o’clock, I try to snooze on the couch with my best buddy, my Chihuahua, Raphael. He approves of the new routine.
Kurt Vonnegut started his working day with sit ups and push ups, to motivate him to write. As we say in Australia: “Yeah, nah…” Simone de Beauvoir’s approach was a little more French: “I first have tea and then, at about ten o’clock, I get under way and work until one. At five o’clock I go back to work and continue until nine.” Now we are talking.
Hunter S. Thompson’s approach to his art was as unique as his style: he would rise at three in the afternoon, start his day with Scotch and cigarettes, progress to cocaine between the hours of four and six, then switch to cannabis before enjoying a long “lunch”, which mostly consisted of Heineken lager. A few post prandial Magaritas, chased with more cold beer and more cocaine, helped him to while away the hours until ten, when he would drop some LSD, then eventually start to write at around midnight. I don’t think that would suit me, or the dog.
I reverted to type, and created a splendid spreadsheet attached to my online diary, to track my activities each day. The first day I opened it I “triggered” myself and had to go and sit outside in the sun for a while to regain perspective. Henceforth, I am playing it all by ear. Guided by the rising and setting of the sun, the weather, and my own agenda, I will get around to writing the definitive English novel, and a fascinating auto-biographical recipe book. Mañana.