Sunday, 30 September 2018

Out and about in Manchester! And self-monitoring!

Yesterday was swallowed up by a visit to Manchester. I went mainly to have my hair done but also had a list of things I planned to do, nothing urgent but stuff that I might as well do while I was there. Then, not long after I arrived in Manchester, my daughter contacted me to say that she was also on Manchester and did I fancy meeting up?

So after I left the hairdresser’s I went and found her and we wandered around looking at this and that.   And drinking coffee in Pret, about which establishment more later. And suddenly it was the end of the afternoon! And I had achieved none of my this and that objectives on the list of “things I might do in Manchester”.

My daughter and her partner and the small child were off to get something to eat. I could have joined them but it would have been rather mean to leave Phil to eat alone again.

So we parted company, despite protests from the small child who is at that stage when she thinks ALL her people should be at her beck and call ALL the time. I hoped I might catch a train to Greenfield, in which case I would phone to suggest that Phil should set iff walking and meet me half way. That would give him some exercise and me some company as I walked.

Good plan but the only problem was that there was no train.

On to Plan B: tram to Oldham and then bus. Another good plan and partially successful. Unfortunately there was no direct bus to Delph for about 40 minutes after I arrived there. In 10 minutes, however, according to the timetable, there was a bus to Uppermill, from where I could walk home. Once again, I could phone Phil and request some company on my walk.

This plan was also scuppered, as the bus to Uppermill failed to show up until a few minutes before the bus to Delph was due, which was clearly the faster option.

Obviously I should have left Manchester sooner and caught an earlier bus to Delph. Or I should have stayed iin Manchester a little longer and achieved some of my this and that objectives on the list of “things I might do in Manchester” and still arrived in Oldham in time for the bus I eventually caught. Still, I had some interesting chats with equally frustrated travellers at the bus stop.

It’s just a good job that I don’t have to pay for my travel around Greater Manchester!

Finally home again, I caught up with some bits of Saturday’s newspaper as we ate. I found this article    about insomnia by Zoe Williams. Last in her list of hints on things worth doing to improve your sleep was this:

“And keeping a sleep diary. It’s stupid, really, but when I look at a load of numbers - the Fitbit app logs REM, light sleep, deep sleep and wakefulness, then makes them into a graph – I feel as though I’m in charge. Because it’s the powerlessness that gets you in the end .”

I know how she feels. I don’t really suffer from full-blown insomnia but I am a notoriously light sleeper and confess that I check my Fitbit sleep record every day, especially when I have woken at six and not really gone back to sleep. It is curiously reassuring, despite the fact that my Fitbit tells me I have been in light sleep. But what does IT know?

Only a limited amount as it turns out and you can play “Fool a Fitbit”. If I use the exercise bike, the Fitbit might well register my heart rate but that’s all. The rowing machine, however, fools it into thinking I have covered quite a distance. Just that little to and fro motion is enough to convince it that I have been moving along.

By the way, I have just received an email from Fitbit, congratulating me on achieving my Great Barrier Reef badge, which apparently signifies that since I have been wearing the Fitbit I have walked 2,574 kilometres - the length of the Great Barrier Reef! There you go!

On one occasion I walked a fair distance pushing the small person, our smallest grandchild, in her buggy. According to my Fitbit I had been for a bike ride. On the one hand, what does it really know? But on the other hand, there remains this question: how did it know there were even wheels involved?

And finally, today I read that Prêt à Manger (probably trade marked as Pret a Manger without the written accents but, hey, I’m a linguist and think that words in titles should be used correctly) is about to open a new veggie branch on Deansgate in Manchester. I think that makes it the fourth such branch in the UK? Manchester is clearly the new London!

Quite why vegetarians need a special branch of their own, however, escapes me. Why can’t Pret just extend the veggie range in their perfectly good premises on Cross Street in Manchester?

My other reaction to the news is that I hope they label everything correctly. I know people who have severe: allergic reactions and they need stuff to be clear. Careless labelling has had tragic consequences!

Having said that, I hope they do well. My eldest granddaughter and I have been Pret fans for quite a long time now.

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