A day off work to take Anja to the vets meant a long day out for all of us. Having never ever been ill in her life, Anja has had three fatty cysts slowly growing on her over the last few months. After talking to the vet about it during this time, we recently decided that she should get them taken away before they get any bigger - apparently some dogs are prone to them as they get older, and they always tend to form where Anja has them - up against bone, such as her ribcage and in her armpit. 

After a four hour drive through some remarkably pretty landscapes and about 35 tunnels, we arrived at a very busy surgery. But Anja was perfect - so calm and well-behaved while we waited, i was proud of her :) The operation went very well, the surgeon was lovely and explained everything clearly to a simpleton like me, and then we drove another four hours back. En route, me and Milton stopped for a trip in the mountains while Anja rested in the car.

I wasn't expecting the surgery to be so dramatic, but it actually looks quite invasive. She's got three holes in her that have been sown up, and then deep bruising all around. But has she complained? No. Nothing, doesn't even seem affected at all, she just gets on as if everything is ok, and is as cheerful as ever - although because of the stitches she can't train or swim for ten days, which she doesn't know about yet. 

Best part of the day? Hearing the surgeon say - "...She looks in incredible condition for nine years old...In fact, she looks incredible for any age." She checked the tissue she'd removed and concluded that the lumps were definitely benign. All good. We can breathe again. 

Views from the way back home:

The Honda is sick. After another hard few months, it now needs a new exhaust and a good service i think. Maybe more. While i was watching the bottles fly past me at work, i realised something mildly depressing - for me to pay for 8 hours of labour at the car workshop, i need to work 64 hours at the factory! Life can be expensive. And the funny thing is, it's not like i'm badly paid. I get c.20 Euro/ hour basic pay, with c.29 Euro/ hour overtime pay, which is pretty good for what i do...But it's just that the gap between what someone like me makes and other jobs is huge...and seems to be getting bigger. 

A couple of weeks ago i also got moved/ promoted at work, so that now i'm responsible for the machine that puts the labels on the bottles. There's a million nobs and buttons and things to learn, and they've extended my contract until Christmas. Not exactly sure that i want to stay...but at least now at the very worst, i have a job that will pay my bills and allow me to keep working away on promoting my book. And for now, that sound's like quite a good worst option to have. 

Blue sky is good...but sometimes clouds are better.

 

No running and no biking today. Only swimming. Felt incredible. A was awesome and like a puppy, delighted to be back into the swimming season. M less so, but more confident in the water than last year. We'll make a swimmer of him yet :) the rest of the day was spent trying to write my new advert for the book. Must be soooooo easy to publish traditionally...but maybe a little boring too. For all it's tiring and takes lots of time to self-publish and do all the stuff that goes with it, there's definitely a feeling of learning something along the way. Not that i have much idea what i'm doing. Not yet. But i will.

A new week is about to begin, and i'm excited.

Bottles whizzing around my head and thousands passing me all day on their little conveyer belts means that as soon as i get out the factory, all i want to do is pick up A&M and run and move and breathe. But sore knees and a tired body at the end of a looooong week meant this evening would be a biking day. Warm air and no breeze, the three of us were cruising and enjoying the views today. Friday evening and no need to hurry. Does it get any better than that? 

Remarkable weather and the remarkable year-of-sunshine continues. Two or three years ago we had a less stable year of weather than this, but instead had an incredible temperature range of 58*C on the farm (between the coldest winter temperature of - 31*C and the warmest summer day of +27*C). What seems amazing this year is that for all the great weather we're having in northern Europe, southern Europe is having terrible weather - new snow falling on several mountain passes in the Alps even still now. I guess this is the way it's becoming now. There is no normal. 

Head spinning round extra fast at the moment as i try to turn positive reviews into a positive number of sales. Tricky business the whole thing. If i had limitless time to be on the internet then...yeah, yeah, but i don't so i can't so i'll just shut up. And let's face it, it's always easy to say you'd do well at something when you can't/ don't do it. Anyway, starting with some small adverts in the next week or so, then by the middle of next month i'll be ready to put my Big Plan into action. It involves a marketing/ PR guy and a hugely ambitious presentation from me. Will he go for it? Can i entice him? A&M think the plan is close to genius. They're two clever dogs.

First trip in a while to the glacier yesterday. Beautiful. Stunning. Invigorating.

 

I was driving back from my brother's house yesterday and it hit me just how much light we have at the moment. It was between 2300 and 0015, but to look at it might have been late afternoon. In photo-terms, it looked exactly like below (and yes, it's a very spectacular drive between his house and where i'm staying. Every time, no matter the weather, it's impossible to forget how lucky we are to have views like this). Anyway, this is pretty much exactly how bright it is at midnight here (seen from the Honda, then a bit later, after midnight, from the ferry): 

 

Midway during the drive, we have to go through Europe's longest tunnel (25km of nothing to see...), and the engineers came up with the idea that they would put three really bright 'caverns' at a quater/halfway/three-quaters of the way through the tunnel, to break up the drive and give the driver's eyes a rest. It's quiet surreal as you're driving along and then suddenly out of nowhere there's this really eerie white-blue light:

 

So anyway, yesterday i'm pottering along through the tunnel and at about 10km in, i decided to check the cycling results (i'm a big big cycling fan) and for a few moments i had the cheek to complain that i wasn't getting a good enough signal to read everything i wanted on my phone...I'm 10 km inside a mountain, holding a little electronic thing in my hand that somehow can be used to call someone on the other side of the world, whilst also surfing the internet and checking emails...and i'm grumbling because the connection is slow. Exactly. It's remarkable how stupid a person can be sometimes. And how clever other people are. Most of the time on most days, i'm surrounded by things that i have no idea how they even work. Imagine if somehow all those clever people could work together and the direction the world could go in instead...

Winter places are now becoming summer places, strangely similar to how they were just a few weeks ago, but not exactly the same, like non-identical twins. Today we ended up taking a trip on my favourite ferry (it's tiny, only takes four or five cars) and a long run/ walk up a great ski touring hill on the other side. All of a sudden summer feels like it's here and the world around us is now stupidly green. The only downside so far of the warmer weather - Milton got his first tick :( Apart from that we're loving the long days and endless evenings. We can work an eight-hour day and still have eight hours of good daylight left to play in. 

Busy day, busy week. Same for the weather too. Bit of everything, like my life at the moment. Highlight of the day: a perfect coffee...almost as good as it smelled. Lowpoint of the day: waking up feeling tired. What's that all about? I'd been in bed for seven hours. Still, now feeling more sprightly after a good first bike training of the year. A&M seem incredibly strong after the winter - gravel and grass tracks are easy compared to snow i guess. 

Views from the past days:

I had a girlfriend once who told me that in the end my bubble would burst and i'd have to live in the real world...she may well be right, but until then, one of the joys of living in a bubble is having times like today when i had an idea of how to market The Spark and attract lots and lots of people to look at it and see if it might be something for them. For most of the day, the idea felt like genius. Pure genius. That's one of the joys of living in your own little world. You can think so, even if only for a while. 

Anyway, i've also decided to come up with my own ways to market/ promote the book, because otherwise i find that if i read up too much about it i get confused or disheartened or think it's pointless because i'll never make it, whereas back in the bubble i believe in my ideas and that's way more fun. That said, they better work. I've worked over 60 hours a week for the last three weeks to pay off some debts, and i'm only just keeping my head above water. It's exciting too though, this whole thing. I surprised myself. Me? 60+ hours a week?  My family are probably more in more shock than i am. I get up at 0440 every week day morning. Really. Maybe that's why i'm rambling. Time to shut up. Slowly slowly slowy i'm going to become a blogger. I'm determined. Learning to blog is much like learning to write a novel. It takes time to 'feel' it and shape it and get it how you want. Except then i could do it in private and now it's out here. 

It had to happen one day. Woke up to find the sun has gone far far away, after being an almost-daily companion for two months. Trip along the fjords resulted in a snow-free run, and this view from the car on the way back:

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