On springtime

Весна — время планов и предположений.
— Tolstoy L (1877) Анна Каренина, Part II, Ch. XIII.
Spring - time for plans and assumptions.
— Tolstoy L (1877) Anna Karenina, Part II, Ch. XIII

The above quote is the original Russian and then the literal translation, but it's often translated in the English versions of Anna Karenina as "Spring is the time of plans and projects" (translated by Garnet, C (1917)), which is much more romanticised and precisely how I feel right now. I don't know if I have chloroplasts or something but the moment the clocks change and the light mornings and evenings start, I feel so very much more energised - personally and professionally.

The Easter long weekend was very early this year and having a Friday and Monday off work is always welcome. Friday I read in bed almost all day and dozed off a lot. I am re-re-reading A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin - I read the first book (A Game of Thrones (1996)) in the 1990s and I decided to read them all again from the very beginning about 18 months ago, and whizzed through the first few books but A Feast for Crows (2005) bored me to tears as much this time around as it did 13 years ago - I ended up abandoning it for nearly a year but I'm now well into A Dance With Dragons (2011) - the paperback edition is split into two books - Part I: Dreams and Dust and Part II: After the Feast - and I'm near the end of the first one. As there's 12-18 months to go before the 8th and final season of Game of Thrones the HBO series, 6 months before we get Outlander season 4 and I have no idea what I am going to do with myself! 

Saturday I found myself up early (I get out of bed at noon at weekends normally), with a load of laundry on and the dishwasher on and started making plans to cook a proper, proper meal etc. I spent most of the rest of the day cooking (lamb shanks in milk; fennel, spinach and lemon gratin and potatoes en papillote, if you're interested) and pottering - middle-age seems to be well set in! 

Sunday was much the same, if a bit more reading and a bit more lazyness and then Monday was an odd mix of yet more cooking (pork tenderloin wrapped in herbs; gratin dauphinoise and a huge lemon/lime/orange/satsuma/white grapefruit/pink grapefruit/ruby grapefruit meringue pie)...and some work!

I've had the stirring of some ideas for the last few months. We've published like crazy in the last 18 months, and just looking at my MacBook Pro right now, I have 8 journal manuscripts in preparation plus 3 book chapters, and we have 3 under review at present too. The upshot of this is that ideas for the next set of grant applications have been condensing and I've finally managed to put pen to paper (I write longhand then type it up, I am of the old school...) and whilst I have about 225 undergraduate coursework scripts to mark and a lot to fit into the next few weeks, it feels good.

I've recently changed my main form of pain control a little bit - I'm still using 25 mcg Fentanyl per hour by a transdermal patch but to save the NHS money, I've been switched from Durogesic that I have used for 18 months to Matrifen, and I have to say, the latter have been giving me better control. I'm getting less of a "dip" every 3 days when the patches need changing so it feels like they are delivering the drug a bit more evenly. That alone has made a big difference. I have some major whole-body joint bracing on the way from my orthotics team - hopefully it will arrive in April, and my next round of Botulinum injections is in one month...and I have physiotherapy from the long-suffering James tomorrow. Bless him, I swear at him and call him names when he hurts me but he has been my physio for 6 years now and I would be struggling to do my job at all without him.

So all in all, I feel good about the coming months and let's hope 2018 is the year of the grant! It has been 4 years since the last major one.