A late autumn day, and despite the bright sun, the temperature is only a few degrees above freezing. A day for full winter cycling kit. Belgian style merino hat, long bib tights, windstopper jacket. It's a Monday and I've got a few hours free. Plodding along the quiet back roads that zig-zag across this part of Northamptonshire. Single track in places. Almost car free, except for some farm traffic.
I'm not going far, just looping through local villages. They are places I know well, but usually by car and as always you see a different place on the bike. The hills seem steeper (of course) and the red-brown fields on the other side of the hedgerows look heavy. Waterlogged and uninviting.
The rain gets heavier. It's time to head for home, luckily I'm not more than a few miles away from a warm shower and hot drink. I get my head down, peddling in the small ring, almost home.
The house is over 100 years old, a simple working cottage that has been battered, fixed up and repaired throughout it’s life (with varying amounts of competence and success). And now it’s our turn, taking back the layers of one of the rooms to the horse hair plaster. A week in a room. Sanding, filling, fixing and painting. Hands cracked and sore with paint under my nails. It’s not finished. It never is, but it’s more finished than it was before. Incremental changes.
An increasingly digital world means that change is often accelerated and effort is mental, an ever more complex brain teaser of optimisation and Moore’s Law style improvements. The physical efforts and calluses from my week of ‘home work’ are difficult in a different way. The rewards slower.