July has been hectic.
The weather, from a non-sailing perspective at least, has been awesome. But I confess I'm one of those odd souls who loves the heat. 30°C+ and I'm as happy as a clam, soaking up the sunshine. My wife hates it though, as do, I think, most of her fellow home-grown and raised Brits.
From a sailing point of view, all this high pressure has, for the most part, starved us of any useful wind. It hasn't stopped us sailing, and there has been the odd great moment or two, and some very good racing, but it has, for the most part, been a bit of a drift.
Dad has made the most of it though. We've not had Calstar out since our trip to Cardiff a couple of weeks ago, but he's been regularly going down to Portishead whilst I've been stuck at work, washing and cleaning and oiling and polishing and generally pottering. I expect that when I do finally get back down there she'll be absolutely gleaming.
It's his birthday in a couple of days time.
The Monday after we got back from Cardiff I had a call from my daughter Tash to say she'd tested positive for Covid and was feeling rotten and self-isolating. We half expected a call from Track and Trace to tell us to do the same, as we'd been with her at the open mic night at their pub on the Friday night, but we had neither telephone call nor ping on the vaunted pingdemic NHS app.
I still spent the week working from home, secluded away from everybody anyway, just in case, watching out for symptoms and regularly sticking swabs from a collection of lateral flow test kits down the back of my throat and up my nose to double check everything was definitely still negative.
Having been double vaccinated and, most likely, having already had it, I figured the odds of catching it myself were small. But you can't be too careful. Needless to say, I was and remain just fine.
Actually, I feel like my body is falling apart. My lower back hurts, a lot, and my left shoulder and my elbow are in a lot of pain. But that's just wear and tear. Or, as my wife would put it, self-inflicted.
July 19th was the dawn of the UK's grand experiment billed by some as "freedom day". Whoever coined that term should be put up against a wall and shot. Not that I don't agree that we need to be moving on, so much of our way of life has been put on hold and with the vulnerable half of the nation now fully vaccinated and the other half well on their way, if not now then when?
Which makes me sound like a Tory politician. Which is kinda rich given my own political leanings. And brings more than a little bit of bile to the back of my throat.
So I find myself very conflicted over the whole thing.
But as of the 19th, it feels like the decision now to wear a mask or not wear a mask has become more a badge of tribal allegiance than simply a courtesy to your fellow human beings; and with judgment harsh, vocal and equally vitriolic on both sides of the divide.
It does also mean that we're free to spar again at karate on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, which essentially means that I'm free to get kicked in the head again by friends who are younger, faster and much quicker than me. I'm not sure what kind of a reflection it is on my character that I actually welcome that.
It might also go some way towards explaining why my back and my joints ache so much. It certainly explains the bruising on the instep of my left foot.
And the band is back. As of the beginning of July, we'd had one live gig. It was great, but in a strange, sat at their tables, dancing in their seats kind of way. Since then, we've had four more gigs, three of them in the last week.
I even took Nikki to see a gig. A guy called Frank Turner was performing in Gloucester on the 18th. Outside in the grounds of Llanthony Priory on the edge of the Docks just outside the city centre. Still tentatively "under restrictions" until midnight, everybody was sat out on the grass in the sunshine in their socially distanced, demarcated "plots" of ground. It was a lovely evening. I get to do it so rarely, but I really do love watching other people, especially those superb at their chosen craft, perform.
We'd originally planned to go with my daughter and her fiancé Dan, but Tasha was still in the final days of her isolation, although beginning to feel a bit better, so as we sat out in the warm Sunday evening sun watching Frank perform on the distant stage, we video-called her on WhatApp to let her know we were thinking of her and to give her a glimpse of what she was missing.
So far as our own gigs have gone, we've played a couple of pubs and a couple of private parties, one on the back of a boat cruising up the Bristol Avon on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, and the other on a Saturday night in the hall of the Slimbridge British Legion. It's good to be back. I've really missed it. Although it could explain what's wrong with my left elbow.
And, if I'm brutally honest, I did for the last eighteen months or so, find myself enjoying the novelty of this thing they refer to as "free time" across the evenings and weekends. So much so that I might actually miss it now that it's gone again.
If I ever find the time to pause long enough to remember what it was like.