I’ve been largely off the grid for a couple of weeks, with only a few chances to check emails and the blog. My travels took me up to Queensland for a family holiday, followed by a week with friends on the Sunshine Coast. The final part was a weekend in Tamworth with friends, and back to Sydney. Going away has always been a chore, with lots of preparation needed to cover publicaton dates – deadlines never stop. It’s easier now, of course, with less work, but a chore nonetheless. My old laptop gets a dusting-off and loaded with current work just in case something goes wrong, which it rarely does, but I take no chances as I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law.
Holiday time with different people can throw up chances to learn about their crossword-solving habits or perhaps their complete indifference on the subject. One person I stayed with religiously bought the Australian and solved the quick crossword, presenting me with a rare opportunity to regularly solve the Times cryptic. A bit like upping the exercise rate at the gym, for me solving the Times requires a few days to find another level, then it’s generally plain sailing. I’m still thwarted by the UK-centric answers and wordplay terms, which hasn’t changed despite worldwide syndication, but overall it’s an enjoyable solve with neatly-written clues. Solving unaided reminded me of pre-internet days where I chipped away and eventually got most of each crossword out. There’s a certain satisfaction in solving this way.
My first day back, I headed out for my regular walk which takes me beyond my quiet suburb to one that has some major roads running through it. Just five minutes of exposure to Sydney peak-hour traffic took me straight out of holiday mode into the rat-race and made me think that change is necessary. What that will be, only time will tell.