At the end of last term, I think I was about as tired as I have been. I'd had a crazy few months of work, plus a big change for me and P as he started his new job in Leeds, and with training on top of all this, I was just about at the end of my tether by mid-December. But thankfully, in the middle of summer, foreseeing this very moment, we had booked a 10-day Christmas trip to Lanzarote for some proper R&R, and on 16th December, off we flew with a case full of swimming kit and a Kindle full of books and by that evening, we were sipping a G&T and watching the sunset in the delightful resort of Playa Blanca.
We soon slipped into a deeply pleasurable routine. We picked the resort for its quietness - it's basically populated by elderly Germans and young couples with small babies, with a couple of small sandy beaches, low levels of wind compared to some other parts of the island and plenty of cafes to while away the hours of almost constant sunshine, with temperature staying consistently between 20-25 degrees throughout. And then there is the swimming:
Every morning, I would swim back and forth along this route for two or three hours a day - a one-mile round trip in gloriously benign waters, completely protected from the various boat / ferry / jet-ski / powerboat traffic which is kept further off-shore by an intermittent buoy-line. The water is clear, relatively calm and teeming with fish, and although my forays back and forth between the bays attracted a certain amount of curious pointing from the promenade that connects the two beaches, I was left splendidly alone to swim to my heart's content. It was hardly hard training - I rarely mustered anything more dramatic than a sedate paddle, and the conditions were so benign that it barely counts as sea swimming. But still, it got some miles in my shoulders and left me intoxicated with the pleasure of it all.
And then we sat around and read, and I gobbled up book after book after book, ranging from biographies of George Mallory and of Robert Scott, a history of TB, fiction (Rose Tremain, Hilary Mantel, Pat Barker), a book about the strategic incarceration of troublesome family members in lunatic asylums in the 19th century, and ethnographies of mushrooming, women who collect porcelain dolls, and prostitution (that's three different studies, by the way, not one complicated and unlikely one).
The end result is that on Boxing Day, having enjoyed our traditional Christmas dinner the day before of beans on toast (we don't really 'do' Christmas...), we reluctantly made our way back to the UK, replete with swimming and reading, and utterly rested. Not the most exciting of holidays by many standards (although we did have a fabulous day out visiting volcanoes and volcanic caves), but SO appreciated.
Term is about to start and I expect everything will start to gallop out of control again shortly, but I feel like a different person compared to a month ago. I've got an exciting swimming year ahead, but I'm in good shape and feeling pretty optimistic about it all at the moment. Oh....and there's a book to write, which is exciting and terrifying in fairly equal proportions.
Let the year begin...