What is your morning routine?
My son, Zac, and I are nomads, which means the routine varies according to where we are and what we are doing. We recently trekked to Everest Base Camp, and I’m trying to keep my flat stomach and tight buns, so the routine currently includes situps and pushups, when I remember.
I also get very bad tempered if I can’t have a coffee or three, and I’ve recently slipped back into smoking, so cigarettes are sadly vital.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Situps and pushups?! Ha. We’re on day three. Coffee and cigarettes? Over twenty years now. God I’m old.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
Well, when my son was in school and we lived in London, we would get up at about 8:00am, get dressed and have breakfast — cornflakes and juice for him and coffee and cigarettes for me, then leave to walk round the corner at about 8:45am. Now we really don’t have one. Pretty much the only thing we always do — and Zac does without any prompting — is brush our teeth.
What time do you go to sleep?
That varies widely, but it’s rarely before midnight and rarely after 3:00am, unless I’m having an unusually large night out. One of the things I do for living is review bars, and that can make for a very late night.
I’m also on Asia time and most of the people I work with are in the US or the UK, not to mention the audience for my blog, so it helps to be up late. Or very early, I guess, but I’m not a morning person.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes. I always set an alarm on my phone, usually, and delusionally, for 8:00am. And, unless we have a bus or a train or a plane to catch, or friends to meet for breakfast, I’ll normally hit the snooze button half-hourly for an hour or so.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
We’re nomadic, so what I eat really depends on my mood. I’ll typically just have coffee in the mornings and then have a big brunch type meal once I’m sentient. Recently that’s been vegetarian thalis, porridge and Nepal style hash browns with eggs in Nepal, fry-ups after we got back from Everest Base Camp to the world of bacon, and more fry-ups when we were staying in a place in Beijing that offered them.
Quite often we’ll get enormous quantities of food to share and Zac will eat most of it — he’s heading into his teens and needs his calories — while I kind of graze on the leftovers. In the Himalayas, because we were walking every day, I did eat a proper breakfast — a bowl of porridge, normally.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
I’m trying to do one set of 25 crunches, leg lifts, press ups and lunges. Let’s see how long that lasts.
Do you see to email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I’m a slave to my MacBook.
The first thing I do once I’ve got my coffee and had my cigarette is log into email, social media and my blog to respond to comments, tend to my social media accounts, and massage paying clients over email.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning, either for calls/messages or social media and news?
Rarely. We don’t have a smartphone, because I value time offline, so Skype is how I talk to most friends and family. That said, my Skype number routes through to my local mobile (I always try and have a local phone), so I do look at my phone once I’ve switched off the alarm.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
It varies so widely. The toughest one is getting my son out of bed. He’s twelve and, left to himself, he’d stay up until 6:00am and then snooze until about 2:00pm.
I’m a liberal parent but not that bloody liberal.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Coffee. I’d like to say I value fine java, but to be honest a weak instant with fake milk (no sugar) is absolutely fine by me.
If I’m carrying coffee with me, or we’re in an apartment, it will be as soon as I wake up. Otherwise, I throw on some clothes and go out and find coffee.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
We travel pretty constantly, although we do have bases from time to time — we’re headed to Harbin right now to find a flat there — and so we do adapt.
We eat pretty much everything — so I’ll have noodle soup for breakfast in parts of Asia, or curry in other parts of Asia, or cereal in the UK, and Zac eats everything from pancakes to curry to fry-ups for breakfast. The only constant is coffee. Even in tea-drinking cultures I MUST HAZ COFFEE.
What do you do if you fail to follow your routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
The only time I can think of that I failed to have coffee in the morning was when we were horseback trekking in northern China and camping in the snow. I was snarly, bad-tempered and in full caffeine withdrawal.
The only time I wouldn’t brush my teeth in the morning would be if I was actually ill. Exercise does slip by the wayside. But, you know, that happens. And, obviously, Zac gets up eventually.