Alas, my surroundings this week are rather less glamorous than last. Instead of looking out of the window and seeing palm trees, I'm now confronted with clouds and brick walls. If I'm lucky, I might catch a glimpse of the Gherkin. Mmm-hmm, that's right. I'm back from Miami. Returned, once again, to Bethnal Green. Oh, joy.
At any rate, with my semi-self-imposed ban of foreign travel lifted (I say semi, since it was less a ban forced by myself than by my financial situation) I've rediscovered my love for all things foreign. How did I ever forget? God knows. A kind of Stockholm syndrome, I suppose, only minus the easyJet flight to Stockholm. Slough syndrome, perhaps. Or St Ives syndrome (on a good day).
At any rate, after two years of venturing no further than Cornwall, I have suddenly remembered how much I like life outside the UK. The day after returning, I immediately started googling places to go next. This, of course, could be expensive. Clearly, I'm going to have to cut back elsewhere: domestic travel perhaps? By which I mean metropolitan travel, of course. For all my running into work, I still spend a good £100 a month on Tube travel – a particularly bitter pill to swallow since, most of the time, I have little desire to reach where I'm going. It's just a matter of necessity. Or perhaps I could cut back on food? Shopping for one is always a complicated matter: surely I could improve on my current technique?
All this dreaming of foreign travel has left me quite distracted from matters closer to home. Namely, the Virgin London Marathon and my birthday. My marathon fund-raising is, in fact, going rather well: I currently have 91 per cent of my justgiving target (www.justgiving.com/alicerunsthemarathon). Training, however, is proving a little more problematic, largely because my sinuses keep kicking up a fuss. Annoyingly, I meant to push myself to 22 miles this week, but instead have been laid up in bed getting less and less fit by the day. It's not helped by the encroachment of the race itself. Every day there seems to be a new reminder: my Save the Rhino charity T-shirt, my Virgin Active pack. Still, must keep calm.
My birthday, however, is something I was more than happy to be distracted from. It was yesterday, by the way. And, after all my agonising over what to do, I found a perfectly simple solution: reserving a table (for free) at a bar, bypassing the whole cost-of-putting-on-a-party dilemma. Thanks to my sinus infection, I couldn't even spend very much on drinks. It worked well: I may be a year older, but at least I'm not significantly poorer.