Switching to winter mode

Now the clocks have gone back and it’s dark by half past five (and going to be dark by half four before long), we’ve had to make a few changes around here. Gone is the whole ‘finish work, head out with the dogs’ thing. Because if you work for yourself and get to set your own hours, you might as well acknowledge the changing seasons and adapt accordingly. Yup, it’s time to switch to winter mode.

The premise behind winter mode is simple. When I’m working at my desk, it makes very little difference whether it’s light or dark outside. But when I’m running through knee-deep mud on the North Somerset levels or careering around trees on a wooded hillside, with one or more Labradors in hot pursuit, it’s significantly easier to avoid embarrassment – or injury – if I can actually see where I’m going.

This isn’t to say, of course, that I don’t like running in the dark. Because I do. In fact, putting on my head torch and heading out for a run in the pitch black is actually quite fun. Especially if I get to practice my night navigation skills. And provided I’m not in a hurry.

But it’s probably not something I need to do every day. Especially when Ozzy, my younger Labrador, with whom I usually go running, is herself pitch black. And especially stealthy.

(Here’s a photo of my local church, Holy Trinity, in the light of the setting sun, by the way.)

And so, now we’ve switched to winter mode, our afternoons look a little different. Because we stop work at about 3pm and, if it’s a running day (as most days are), Ozzy and I head out for a four-mile-or-so run around the local countryside. We then come home, pick up Molly (my older Labrador) and go for another walk-with-a-bit-of-running as a pack. If it’s not a running day, we just all go for a nice long walk.

If things go to plan, we’re back home, fed (the dogs at least) and showered (usually all of us) by 5pm, at which point we go back to work for another couple of hours (of couple of nice, almost-entirely-uninterrupted hours, I’d add) until it’s time to call it a day and start thinking about my dinner. Natalie usually arrives home around 7pm, too, so things work out well all round.

Things don’t, of course, always go entirely to plan. It takes us all a bit of time to get used to the new rhythm, for example. The dogs haven’t quite got out of the habit of coming to wake us up at the old 6.30am, which of course is now 5.30am and not really when I want to get up. And they currently get a bit confused when we get back from our run/walk and I return to my desk. But this’ll pass in a few days and we’ll all settle into the new regime.

There’s also the snag that, by the time I get back from a forty minute run in the mud and rain, followed by another hour’s walk, I don’t always feel like going back to work. So I look at it as an opportunity to demonstrate my resilience and resolve. Or I look at my to-do list and realise that I don’t actually have much choice in the matter. Or (and I’ll say it before you do), I get myself a nice cup of tea and write a blog post or read a (work-related) book. Because this is winter mode. And adapting to the changing seasons is what winter mode is all about.

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