This week will be my 25th Blog post which I guess is cause for some kind of celebration.

You would imagine, that being the case, that I have prepared something very special in which to commemorate this auspicious occasion. 

Well, I haven’t.  


I’m travelling with my husband again this week, back at an Ibis, not even an Ibis Styles, just a boring old Ibis. Same old, same old. 

The plus point is that it allows me to concentrate on my writing whilst sat in my bland, featureless hotel room with literally zero distractions, the downside is that whilst sat in my bland, featureless hotel room with literally zero distractions, inevitably I actively make distractions, like launching Google for the sole purpose of checking a fact or looking up synonyms for a word and then an hour later, after looking at holidays on Kuoni, checking out local weekends away and wandering onto Facebook for no other reason than to mindlessly scroll through the same posts that I saw that morning, I eventually return to my almost blank Word document!

 This is my view……


 Magnificent isn’t it!

 Whilst sat here in my fifth-floor hotel room, I have every intention of periodically partaking of some exercise. At least, leaving the room every hour or so and going up and down the stairs several times since I have forgotten to bring my gym kit on this occasion.

I counted them this morning, the stairs that is, on my way back from breakfast; 110 steps, 135 if you include the steps it takes along the corridor to get to our room.

The trouble is, if I may be so blunt, physical exercise sucks doesn’t it?  I did it out of guilt after my breakfast. I could have taken the lift but it seemed rather lazy after two huge vats of coffee, three small slices of fruit bread, a slab of nut cake and a madeleine, topped off with two bowls of fruit salad and yoghurt with candied fruit sprinkles and red berry puree….get in my belly!

So I took the stairs and was considerably out of breath by the time I reached my room.  I blamed the overdose of caffeine, of course, but I think it is more likely to be a general lack of overall fitness. Hardly surprising really, I normally beat a well-trodden path from my lounge to the kitchen, the bathroom or the bedroom and back again, but very little else apart from the occasional hotel gym splurge.

The second time I did it, about an hour later, I did it twice, all the way down then all the way up, then back down and then back up, all just for the pure hell of it.

Approximately 500 steps in total.  If I am to do the recommended 10,000 steps per day, I will need to complete that another nineteen times today!

It doesn’t help that the only footwear I brought with me were my four-inch wedge-heeled Tommy Hilfiger boots. No problem coming up the stairs but going down was a bit wobbly.  In the interests of personal safety, I might have to abandon the fitness regime this time until such time that I have more sensible foot attire.

Personally, I think this 10,000 steps a day lark is overrated! I mean, who really does the equivalent to 6km in the process of their average day? That’s just absurd.

 Anyway the exciting news this week is that, after scouring Netflix and coming up short on films that we both wanted to watch, we finally made the rather enormous and concerted decision to start watching Downton Abbey.

Yes, that is correct, some seven years after it first aired on British television and now two years after it’s world-dominating run concluded, we are now watching our first few episodes and I confess, we have become instantly hooked upon it, the truly wonderful Lady Violet Crawley the Dowager Countess, poor Mr Bates, nasty, nasty, nasty O’Brien and THAT Thomas the sneaky, treacherous little bastard! Ahhhhh, all these emotions that you have all, no doubt, already experienced quite some time ago.

Any spoilers or news that we may have previously seen in passing about the show are long since forgotten and now we can enjoy all six seasons (52 glorious episodes) for the very first time and completely at our leisure, none of this having to wait a week for the next episode, we can watch however many we can make time for.

I personally am very excited about this as not only do I adore Dame Maggie Smith and love a lavish period drama but also it means that until we run out of Downton Abbey to watch, we will not have to undertake the daily, painful process of searching through Netflix and trying to find something that we are both sufficiently interested in, sometimes the search itself can take almost an hour after which we decide it is far too late to start watching a film at this ungodly hour, normally about half past nine, so the idea of just being able to get into bed and immediately click on the next episode without all the fiff and the faff of finding something is pure and utter, idle luxury beyond words. Hopefully, it will see us through until Season 2 of The Crown is available, due to start airing on Netflix in December 2017. Excited much!

 After various distractions and also working concurrently on another piece of writing, it is now several hours since I started this (four to be precise!) so I have just made the concerted effort to leave the room and do some stair-exercise or Stexercise as I’m going to refer to it from now on!
This time I left my boots in my room and after stealthily sneaking along the corridor in just my sock-clad feet (well, when I say JUST, I did naturally have clothes on as well), I made it undetected to the top of the stairs.

This I know to be a very quiet area, in truth I have never before seen anyone else on the stairs, in fact, there is something stuck on the ceiling at Floor 4 that has been there for at least the whole of this year on our many previous visits to this establishment. It could be chewing gum, it could be a French-fry or even a slug that has strayed far from home and has long since given up on life, whatever this unrecognisable object is, it has remained clinging to the ceiling and so far unnoticed and unmolested by any housekeeping staff and therefore I can only assume that perhaps the stairs are used for emergencies only, except for my Stexercise, of course.


What am I?  


Anyway, confident that I would not be interrupted or face the embarrassment of meeting another hotel guest, I started and I have to admit, it was soooooooo much easier in socks. I felt like Zola Budd.

I sprinted down the 11 half-flights of stairs (five-floors) and then sprinted back up on my first attempt , I then walked back down to give me time to regain my breath and jogged back up the second time, on my third repetition, I walked down and walked back up and on my fourth repetition, I walked down and walked very slowly back up, this time I also introduced some upper arm exercises as I clung to the bannisters and pulled myself up.

Safely back in my room I had a coughing fit and drank a bottle of water.

The fourth time….nah, I’m only joking, not only would it be very boring for me to recount every occasion but, in reality, there wasn’t a fourth time! 

So that was another 880 steps, 440 descending and 440 ascending.

I’m still a very long way off the daily target of 10,000 steps but hopefully, by the end of the week, I will have achieved it. I mean, that’s only two thousand a day over five days, right? Kidding I am!

Apparently, according to my husband, I am constantly cycling in my sleep, so I figure that I probably do get enough exercise each day as quite often we are in bed for an average of 11 hours. That, right there is a shitload of cycling every day, in reality, I should be fitter than Lance Armstrong at the peak of his career.

I’ve just had a memory spring to mind, a situation from some years back. When I was gainfully employed in a large company, it is quite common that your work colleagues will often undertake some form of gruelling physical activity for sponsorship for some charity or benefit.  I remember one day a chap from another department came in looking for sponsorship for his Cross Channel Swim. I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. Living not a million miles from Dover it is, of course, the recognised point from which to commence said cross-channel swim and it is certainly no easy feat.

 At twenty-one miles in a straight line across choppy English channel, it is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The tide will often add miles to your overall total distance in your repeated efforts to stay on course.

The current world record for swimming the fastest English Channel crossing was set by the then 24-year-old, Australian long-distance swimmer Trent Grimsey on the 8 September 2012. He achieved his swim in 6 hours and 55 minutes.  

Before him, David Walliams the English comedian, completed the cross-channel swim with a none too shabby time of 10 hours and 32 minutes in 2006.

Even those who do not attempt a significantly impressive overall time or even complete the swim are to be thoroughly applauded for this massive challenge.

So, yes, I was pretty awe-struck that this unassuming, affable guy from another department was attempting such an accomplishment.

 I was, therefore, somewhat less impressed after the weeks and weeks of emails drumming up sponsorship and getting everyone on board, that it became apparent that his cross-channel swim would take place in the local swimming baths and not only that but it would not even be completed in a single day!

Instead, he was to swim the equivalent of 21 miles in a standard swimming pool measuring 25 metres in length, during his lunch hours and at weekends, basically whenever he had some free time over the course of the next several weeks!

That’s a bit like asking for sponsorship for ‘running a marathon’ and then doing it at the rate of several hundred metres a day or signing up for a ‘spinning’ class at your local gym for several weeks and then claiming that you have completed the ‘Tour de France’. Eventually, you will have covered the total distance, but you have to admit, it’s not quite the same, is it?

If I made a reservation at a restaurant for myself and my husband to enjoy a four-course meal, I wouldn’t expect to arrive and be served one course and then be asked to return the next day and the two subsequent days in which to partake of the other three courses.

Don’t get me wrong anyone actively doing something that they enjoy or, by complete contrast, something that they ultimately detest or find particularly challenging that in turn raises money for a good cause is to be thoroughly commended but please, let us not diminish other people’s staggering and truly astonishing achievements and lessen the impact of any such accomplishment by effectively suggesting that everyone is capable of achieving them too.    

A few lengths each lunch hour at your local pool cannot be compared in the slightest to the stunning accomplishment and the very real peril of an actual cross-channel swim.  

 Just as:

“One swallow doth not a summer make” Aristotle

 “1400 lengths doth not a cross-channel swim make”

 Yeah, I’m not sure that one is going to catch on quite as successfully.  

Or as my best friend would simply say

“What a load of old wank!”

Thanks for tuning in to my 25th Blog post and for any of you who are newbies, please do subscribe so that you can be certain to be notified of the next twenty-five.  No spam, no junk, just one weekly message notifying you of my very latest efforts to keep you all entertained.

 The Virtual Recluse

 P.S. Wishing a very Happy albeit somewhat belated Birthday to my old pal Mo. Hope this made you chuckle…mwah xx














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