Today gave me further evidence that the best part of the day is frequently the first part. I was up and about early, well, quite early. I rarely get up at seven in the morning these days, unless someone - i.e. my daughter - has given me a task to complete, but I was up and running when many of the neighbours’ curtains were still closed.
And it was beautiful - blue sky and sunshine. It was cold, however. One section of my route slopes downhill and was decidedly slithery. And on my way back, walking by this time with a bag of bits and pieces from the Co-op, my feet almost went from under me on the roadway through the industrial park: black ice!
Nonetheless it was a beautiful morning, cheering everyone up. It’s amazing how many people want to comment on how lovely the day is, greeting total strangers just to tell them the totally obvious! Of course, this might be a reaction of surprise, as it s so often dull and gloomy. A bit of blue sky and sunshine puts a smile on people’s faces!
By 11.00, however, the blue sky had disappeared under a bank of grey cloud, which hung around for a good while. Having said that, an hour and a half later the blue sky was fighting back. But I still stand by my belief that the start of the day is often the best part.
Yesterday, of course, gave the lie to that. I went out running in what I have decided to call “snizzle”. If it had been rain I would have called it drizzle. This was the snow equivalent. I see no reason why more northern countries should have the monopoly on words for snow!
The snizzle kept up for a good part of the day. It didn’t stop me getting out and about though.
As I returned from the supermarket on the bus yesterday, in the snizzle, I reflected once again on the difficult job the bus drivers have around here. I often moan about the bus service but the fact remains that the drivers have to negotiate quite narrow roads in some places and these roads are often clogged up with parked cars, especially at the weekend.
There may eventually be a solution to that, one that could happen all on its own. Eva Wiseman, in her column in the Observer, informs me that driving has declined dramatically in the past twenty years. Between 1992 and 1994 just under half of 17- to 20-year olds had licences, but that dropped to 29% by 2014. Even over a wider age range, 21- to 29-year olds, the percentage decreased from 75% to 63%. Are people walking more? That seems unlikely.
I remember when I was teaching in sixth form colleges it was a regular thing that once a student had their 17th birthday they instantly began to have driving lessons and before you could say “traffic congestion” they were taking up space on the college carpark. Apparently that has changed. Maybe the cost of insurance is off-putting. Maybe parents are less willing to share the family car with the adolescents. Who knows?
But maybe there will be a knock-on effect and there will be fewer cars on the road. Or maybe not, since so many of us older drivers will still be around pottering to and fro!
And finally, since I seem to be batting statistics around, here are some statistics I came across about sleep.
1. An afternoon nap increases the brain’s learning capacity by 15-20%.
2. Sleep improves your memory, halting forgetting by 30-50%, relative to staying awake.
3. Not getting enough sleep increases sweet and salty cravings by 30-40%.
So there it is, we need to get enough sleep. Early to be, early to rise and all that sort of thing.