I’m still working on my review of 2019. I keep thinking of things to add to it; a task not made easier by the return of the “man flu,” which came back with a real vengeance the day before yesterday. All joking aside, I did at one point feel like it might be actual flu, rather than just a particularly nasty cold, but that would have meant a scolding from Mrs PBT’s, telling me I should have followed her example, and gone for the flu vaccination!
I think it’s a well-known fact that when we slow down, after working flat out for much of the year, our bodies don’t always react as we think they should. So rather than be appreciative of the chance of a rest, our immune systems end up being strangely vulnerable to various infections that might be doing the rounds.
The strange thing is I haven’t actually been anywhere to have succumbed to one of these viruses; unlike the last one that caught hold of me. That happened on the second leg of the flight back from China when, after landing at Doha and waiting to change planes, the cold I’d been incubating since leaving Guangzhou, really started coming out.
At first I’d put the sore throat and blocked sinuses down to the appalling air quality in the city, but once onboard that homebound flight to Gatwick, it was pretty obvious this was something more familiar, and definitely unwanted. Guangzhou (Canton), is a bustling and sprawling metropolis of some 14 million people.
During my time there, I’d made quiet a few journeys on the metro; an amazingly efficient rapid transit system, but a mega-busy one at the same time. There was not one journey where I managed to get a seat, so being in such close proximity, to so many people, it was hardly surprising that I picked up something nasty.
Now as I said earlier, I haven’t been anywhere locally that involved crowds of people. We don’t do the Boxing Day sales, and I haven’t been anywhere by train, so this remains as somewhat of a mystery. The really annoying thing is that yesterday I had to turn down the chance of joining a couple of friends, on a walk which took in three excellent country pubs.
The walk started at the Swan, West Peckham – a long-established brew-pub, which turns out some pretty decent beers, before climbing up the part of the Greensand Ridge, to Dunk’s Green. The 16th Century Kentish Rifleman is the pub there, with beers from Tonbridge, Westerham or Whitstable breweries normally available. Finally, my friends would be walking back to the Two Brewers at Hadlow, for some Harvey’s Old, followed by the bus back to Tonbridge.
Given that night falls early at this time of year, I thought the walk might be pushing it somewhat, but the duo obviously made it back to the final pub in time, as they posted some photos on WhatsApp, showing them approaching Hadlow under the shadow of a blood-red sky.
There’s been a positive side to this enforced layoff, as I’ve been able to catch up on outstanding paperwork and look ahead to the coming year. This means planning excursions and holidays plus further sections long the North Down’s Way.
Being laid up has also given my body a break from the booze, as for the past couple of days the very thought of a glass of beer has been enough to curdle my taste buds. I hadn’t been drinking that much anyway over the Christmas period, despite having accumulated enough beer to float a battleship. A fair amount of this came from family, friends and work colleagues – I guess I must be easy to buy for, but it will all keep, apart from my mini-cask of Larkin’s Porter.
Unfortunately I didn’t quite finish the latter, before being struck down with the dreaded lurgy, but I estimate there’s between one and two pints remaining. I imagine what’s left now, will be very flat and lifeless. I don’t regret buying it, as the beer was superb, especially on days two and three after opening. Then, like all cask products exposed to the air, the beer started to slowly deteriorate as the oxygen did its work.
Tomorrow – New Year’s Day, assuming I’m feeling better, I shall drive us down to Dungeness for fish & chips at the Pilot Inn. It’s a particular favourite of Mrs PBT’s, and with son Matthew not working tomorrow, we can make it a family outing.
After that, it’s back to work on Thursday for more work on the registration – notified body front. It’s only for two days though, as on Monday I’m flying up to Bonnie Scotland, to Dundee in the Kingdom of Fife. I'm travelling with our Business Development Manager, to give a presentation to one of our biggest UK customers. So with three days away from the office it will be another short week.
So all it remains for me to do now, is to wish every one of you, a peaceful, prosperous, happy and above all healthy New Year, and I’ll catch up with you again in 2020.