The benefits of joining the back of the queue

cafe-nero-heathrow

The thing about Heathrow Terminal 3 is that – like any airport – all people want to do is be somewhere else.

Cafe Nero is one of the better options for passing some time. It has six tills split between two halves, which gives you a split second to choose the queue of shortest wait. I choose right, on this side of the cafe I am soon disconcerted by the lack of clarity. Is it just one queue for three tills or is it three separate queues? There is a corridor of uncertainty, with a long queue on the right, but a tempting shorter queue on the left.

The only choice is to join the longest queue. But that creates a subtle fear that someone could come from behind and join the half-formed queues in front. If I deny myself a shortcut, I need to deny others too!

So I perform an act of self-interest and civic duty all at once. I queue at a diagonal to move the queue away from the right flank – right into the middle where it should be by the natural law of things. Then I nervously wait, using my psychic energy to secretly discourage people from sneaking through on the flanks.

The tension is palpable, heightened by the fact all the queues in front seem to grind to a halt. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the queue on the other side of the cafe is speeding through. For a split second, I contemplate jumping ship and moving to the other side. I would probably get served quicker, but I’m too invested in my own queue  – which, if not moving very quickly, is at least bringing a little order into the chaos of Heathrow.  Even the people in front seem to be shifting a little to the centre, as if there is an unconscious recognition for the proper, invisible line of our queue. The centre ground is holding. A very small victory in life’s battleground.

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Peace Run in Oxford 2018

The Peace Run at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University- where I studied 1995-99.

Recently the Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run came to Oxford. I helped as a local co-ordinator to arrange a few meetings. I also cycled with the runners around Oxford.

One of the great things about the Peace Run is that you have to expect the unexpected. Even the best-laid plans need to be flexible. When you are on the run, you soon realise you are very much living in the moment. Continue Reading →

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Benefits of cold showers

Since my cycling has come to a virtual standstill, I have been looking for alternative physical challenges.

This is a blast from the past. I used to work at a private tutorial college in Oxford. The millionaire owner was a real miser so would turn off the heating during the middle of the day to save money. I once bought an electric heater and that got confiscated (that’s another blog itself) Here I am wrapped up to stay warm.

As a means to an end (recover from injury) I have been trying different exercises – Egoscue, Pilates, Tibetan Rites, physiotherapy e.t.c.

They haven’t succeeded in doing anything for the injury, but they have become useful in their own right. The ‘means’ has become the ‘end’. Some movement/exercise is much better than none.

I was speaking to a friend from the Sri Chinmoy Centre and he mentioned that, recently while on the Peace Run, they met the “Ice Man” – Vim Hof, who recommends cold showers, breathing exercises and meditation as a way to improve your health and gain immunisation against the cold.

I was intrigued because at 190cm – 61kg I’m a good heat diffuser. I get so cold it has become partly a mental expectation that I will be cold. I’m not trying to run a marathon in the Arctic in shorts and t-shirt like Vim Hof – just staying a little warmer meditating outside at Aspiration-Ground in New York would be fine.

Anyway, cold showers remind me a little of hill climb intervals – you never look forward to them, they hurt during the event, but after you get a great euphoria and sense of satisfaction. I thought I would be unable to tolerate cold showers at all, but after a week, my tolerance has already improved quite a bit. It’s quite an interesting experience.

I wrote more on my cycling blog – “What to do when you can’t cycle

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Eid in New York

Eid in New York

I was in New York in August. Opposite my breakfast diner, the police closed off a street so Muslim worshippers could celebrate Eid on the road. There probably wasn’t enough room inside the small mosque.

It was an interesting sight. These tough redneck, NYPD officers and a hundred Muslims praying in the street. That’s America for you.

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Mid August Flowers

Mid August

Border mid August.

Rudbeckia Goldstrum – a very well behaved perennial.

Phlox – sweet scent.

A dry border – mostly silvers and lavenders.

grass

Grass blowing in the wind gives a new dimension.

Grass.

More Rudbeckia

Red flowers

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EP  Evening Primrose

Garden in the sun.

Courgette plant

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Orchids that flower themselves to death

There are some kinds of orchids that can ‘flower themselves to death.’ – they put all their energy into producing flowers, then eventually they run out of energy and die.

The leaves of this orchid indicate neglect – lack of water, food, humidity and proper conditions. Yet, there is a profusion of beautiful blooms.

I bought this from a market stall in Leeds 18 months ago. It has been flowering almost continuously ever since. Despite my parents not looking after it properly in my absence, it keeps going. It’s actually doing better than some of the orchids I properly look after in Oxford.

Some plants are very different – unless they are given exactly the conditions they require, they won’t flower.

But, an orchid will survive just about everything except over-watering.

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Lotus flower in bloom

lotus bloom

I have had this lotus plant in my pond for over a year. This is the first lotus bloom – but it is well worth the wait. It is a near perfect flower, with great dignity.

The pond only gets an hour or two of sun in the height of summer because of the shade from trees. Lotus plants really need full sun, so I was pleased to get at least one. It only opens from around 11.30 to 1pm when the sun hits the pond. Continue Reading →

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