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*I’ve been listening to Placebo on repeat, the Meds album, another charity shop find of John’s.

So we completed #NoSextember successfully. I told all my work colleagues about giving up sugar and caffeine, and actually told a couple of them about the no sex aspect. It’s the most open and natural place I’ve worked, emotional and expressive. People regularly say ‘I love you’ to me and to the whole team. Eyes fill with tears of empathy when someone shares a sad story. Hugs are freely given. It’s a strange and wonderful work office, hence I felt able to share.

One person said, ‘In all the religions there is fasting. And by stripping away all these things, you begin to find out who you are. Who am I without my morning coffee, who am I without this show on Netflix I always watch?’

For me, always an outsider, to have some of the individual/unusual things I do, be understood… well it is very gratifying.

So without caffeine in the morning or during the day, you find out how you really feel, and if you are tired, if you need to go to bed earlier. I was in bed by ten, sometimes half past nine. Also without morning caffeine and guarana (natural caffeine) my anxiety was much better.

On occasion I actually felt as if I could just get up and go to work, without the usual worrying and fretting and wandering maze of thoughts and mini existential crises that accompany my mornings. Also my OCD was better; one day I even left a light on! (a sin on a boat)

I’d already experienced a biscuit sugar spike and crash; this month I experienced one from eating white bread. Avoiding sugar in sweet snacks increased my sensitivity to it in bread. It made me think how many people are lurching from sugar spike to sugar crash, exhaustion to caffeine buzz, all day, every day, without even noticing.

So it was nice to notice awareness increasing, which after all is the primary purpose of all this, not (only) a health thing per se.

We’ve been living the life of continuous cruisers, moving every two weeks. We said goodbye to the swans of Kings Langley, my first swan friends since my dearly beloved in Northamptonshire. The Kings Langley swans were very pushy, not only tapping to get us to come out like swans do, but continuing to tap on the boat with their beaks while I was right there! At the next place the swans were different, younger (paler beaks) not as forceful.

There were birds I had never seen before, like a cross between a moorhen and a mallard, black with blue and red, matching the big rusty boat opposite. Each evening a woman in the house nearby fed a group of almost-grown goslings, again a variety I had never seen before, a milky orange colour, whilst mum, hardly any bigger than them, watched from atop the rusty boat. ‘I love it here,’ I said. ‘You say that every place,’ John said.

The boat next door had a giant cactus or aloe vera plant outside the back door. One day they were gone. ‘We never even got to meet them,’ I said. ‘That’s the way it is,’ John said.

I’ve started swimming again, three times a week, primarily for the showers before and afterwards but also hopefully the beginning of a long road back to some kind of physical fitness, that like many seekers, I have neglected on the spiritual path.

I fill up a 2 litre bottle of drinking water at work and bring it home each evening. John fills up the 5 litre bottles either at work or right now at the water point which is not too far away, and we put it through the freestanding water filter just to be sure. Soon we will pass the water point and fill the tank up.

Electricity has been manageable; John bought a little USB smoothie maker- the USB chargers are a different circuit and so far always work, as do the lights. The Nutribullet- which has to go into the normal plugs on a different circuit- runs out after a while, and the hairdryer is a complete dead loss. I give it a blast at the swimming pool but the only time I have shiny silky properly dried hair is once a month when we stay at John’s mum’s.

Getting rid of rubbish in public bins discreetly is another challenge…

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