Despite 9 hours of sleep, I’m reluctant to get up.
I have just an hour before an online Project Management exam.
Even though it’s a non work day for Andrew, he’s up, making us coffee and bowling delicious vegan overnight oats that he’d prepared. He talks me through the exam and timelines - when I need to log on, when he will head out, the fact that he’ll keep the house quiet. Incredibly supportive. We both know though that the accumulation of qualifications means a lot of great opportunities for us. Often we talk about retiring early and revisit the plans of how we’ll get there. It’s not that we want to retire, it’s that we want to live as ferociously every day as we do on our downtime.
“Go on” he reminds “good luck” as I run upstairs with my breakfast to read back over my pages of scrawl. My Baby Giraffe, the girl I clocked in 2007 walking through a client office and said “I want to be her friend,” she gave me all of her beautifully bound flash cards for the same set of exams. With her notes sitting beside my notes I smile as I sip lions man infused coffee, the universe is pretty damn good at throwing incredibly different souls together.
There are a few technical glitches, I feel like an idiot for having exams in my bedroom. The monitor says “oh, you’re in a bedroom, can I see under the bed and covers?” It’s not seedy, it’s just that it’s such a weird situation. My energy is focused on smashing my test, so I don’t explain that the rest of my house is currently a building site.
Sure enough, I pass with 90%. I message my business partners.
I have a long list of payments to make so quickly finish my domestic admin. Andrew returns from a MTB XC trail, he’s distressed. Apparently a neighbourhood cat had deficated just outside the back gate and he cycled cat excrement down his new Marmot jacket. So we dealt with that.
My girlfriends message about a beer festival next month. I message back with details. I clock to write a letter of gratitude to the both of them for everything that they have experienced with me and taught me about life.
After a quick avocado on sourdough Andrew and I change to shop. I wear jeans, Toms, a blanket scarf and a black All Saints biker jacket which Cici has kindly allowed me to borrow. Well, you know the deal with sisters, she was okay with me pilfering it.
Anyway, we get in the car and drive the 15, 20minutes to Bicester Village, a designer outlet village which we would frequent in our Henley days.
We’re there to find some new shirts for Andrew.
I tell myself that “I don’t need anything.”
Sure enough, I’m allured into shops. In particular Churches shoes entice me. I chat to the store assistants over Brogues. But then, I have my oxblood, my blue suede, my black, and of course many a velvet slipper already. I also remind myself that nowadays I’m not into leather. In my mind I decide to spend an hour this evening polishing my old investment pieces - you know, that I already have.
We drop into a Northface store. I feel gross as I say out loud to Andrew “what we do need are ski trousers after I accidentally charity shopped our Arcteryx, Scott and Eiders”. The words fall out and as they do I cringe. That giant mistake will live with me forever, as will the fact that thus far I have blown the engines of three cars. It’s like one of those things you pull out at frivolous parties, funny little anecdotes about incompetence. Instead of saying controversial things like “I’m trying to build a business which promotes and celebrates people, creating real bottom up societal change.” Or by saying “I love the taste of meat, but we’re royally messing up the planet and I don’t want to be a part of that, which is why I’m chomping on another effing side salad.” Those kind of statements rock old organisations and immediately your voice becomes background noise. To make true change, I play the long game, being self deprecating at times to lower the barriers and sustain deeper conversation - turning the topic instead to the audience. Decisions are far more sustained when people come to their own.
“Use our card” I whisper as we pay for a major sale pair of trousers for him.
Then, we drop into a few stores to find a duvet for Papa Murf, we left the spare set of bedding in Keswick and he’s due down in a few days time.
I iMessage a photograph to a nearest and dearest about to move from India to Singapore. He and I loved shopping together, we would dress immaculately with our expensive time pieces and peruse expensive shops together. Then, as we left he’d say things like “see, we’ve just earned £5,000 by not buy that Tag”. I chuckle to myself and send a rude slur to accompany the image.
Andrew and I pop into a Tag Heuer shop. He wouldn’t wear a Tag watch, but he tells me he would wear a Patek Philippe. I tell him there’s no investment opportunity in a PP - it’s not a piece you would part with. The ladies watches look a Constellation rip off.
We drop into another watch shop. There’s a beautiful means chronograph which reminds me of the Junghans piece we have. Then I wonder about this industry.
The Seamaster which belonged to my great great grandfathers sister - the first female Optometrist in Europe. It’s grubby, it’s used, it would cost the equivalent of a few mortgage repayments to have it reconditioned. It has history though, it is a piece which screams of a badass female who paved the way for so many to follow - a voice which instigated societal change. Not now, but soon, instead of dropping cash on a newly mined piece, I’ll recondition hers. As we return to the car I let it out “It’s everything, the mines that we passed on the Zim border, that kind of life, that exploitation, for metal.” I continue on my rampage, on my soapbox.
As we approach the car we note the low pressure on a front tyre.
We stop at the fuel station and repressure the tyres. My dad car is front wheel drive and I’ve got about 3k of miles left before I need to replace them. I ask Siri “Remind me tomorrow to book tyres on the drive in three weeks time.”
Home we change quickly then head out to walk. It’s a favourite spot. We follow a deer down the track with the pups on lead. It’s beyond magical. We wind our way through an ancient woodland. Aura rolls in excrement and Apollo slices his paw. There’s blood and faeces everywhere which definitely means time to get home.
I read the minutes from my business partners meeting today and start calling around. I’m so happy to catch up with them. It’s been over two weeks and I’ve missed them all. With sincere gratitude I thank them for what they have done to build us. In turn they return the praise, in particular for my development today. We have some tough conversations over the space of two hours. Andrew passes me a beer.
Our gorgeous Bachelor of a buddy arrives to pick him up “come join us” he tells me. I can’t tonight, my todo list is long for the business. That’s what instagram fails to portray, the hard work isn’t pretty.
I have a list of actions to work through, then I plan on catching up with some gratitude cards. Tonight’s recipient is going to be a tough one.