Temperatures over the last few days have been such that it would have been cruel to take the dog for the usual walk immediately after lunch. Instead, I have waited until the evening. Not, mind you, that it has been what one might call cool then. When I arrived home the other evening just before 8.30 the thermometer in the car was still registering 23*. That would be considered a pleasantly warm, summer afternoon temperature. Luckily, the humidity was not high so it still felt just that - pleasantly warm.
An evening stroll up the Waterhall valley was delightful. I was able to spend a few minutes watching the tadpoles in the dew pond while, on the other side, sundry birds came to drink or bathe. There were song thrushes, chaffinches, blackbirds and various others I was unable to identify as I had no binoculars with me. A lone swift was darting about over the pond while a pair of green woodpeckers was busily hunting for ants on the path. I did spot a warbler but not clearly enough to identify which breed. And, of course, overhead were wood pigeons and rooks, while the football pitches hosted crowds of black-headed gulls.
I have not smoked for a little over two years but that pause by the pond would have been a natural time to light up. Strangely enough, I found it very easy to stop smoking back in 2011. I had tried before, but my abstention had never lasted more than six months. I think that this time there was rather more incentive. Having been diagnosed as suffering from lung cancer only to find I wasn't acted as quite a prod. I was also determined not to let down all those health service people who had pulled out all the stops for me before finding that my cancer wasn't.
That said, there have been occasions when I would have liked to pick up the pack and my lighter. It does strike me as odd that these occasions have rarely been at what would in the past have been trigger points. Every smoker and ex-smoker will know about those, the times when one automatically lights a cigarette. Frequently - or even usually - it is out of habit but there are times when a cigarette just complements the moment. Like when enjoying a cup of coffee after a good meal. One of my trigger points was letting the dog off the lead as I entered the local park, or letting her out of the car in Stanmer woods. Or at Waterhall, for that matter.
Two years. Well, a little more than that, more like two years, one month and ten days. Does that mean that I'm not yet an ex-smoker, just a smoker who has not smoked for two years etc? Perhaps we one-time-smokers are like recovering alcoholics. But no, the urge just isn't there now. Well, most of the time it isn't.
While we were looking at pictures of Brighton seafront I should have posted this picture, taken on Palace Pier. You can tell it's an old picture as the West Pier can be seen still standing!