6.50am: I get out of bed and have a cup of black tea. Then I’ll do half an hour of cycling on my Peloton bike, or some general core and weights exercise in the living room while watching the news. Before the pandemic, I cycled to work every day and that was the main exercise I did, and I never went to the gym. Now that I work from home more, I’ve had to modify my exercise habits. After my shower, I meditate for 20 minutes in my home office, with the door closed, and then I start work.
11.30am: I have my first food of the day. Yoghurt kefir, defrosted blueberries with mixed nuts and seeds, accompanied by a black coffee. I carry on working, but I get up to move every half hour- even though I’ve recently learned it should be every 20 minutes – even if just for a minute or two. I’ll stretch or just stand up. I’ll run down the stairs, get myself another black coffee, and then run back up to my office.
2pm: If I’m at home, I might manage to squeeze in lunch around now. The only kind of bread I really eat these days is bread I’ve made myself, a combination of rye and sourdough with lots of nuts and things in it which my wife [Veronique Bataille, a dermatology consultant] doesn’t like. I’ll also have some leftover homemade soup – not broth – but something hearty which I call “an Italian mix”, a name I give it just to disguise the fact I don’t really know what’s in it.
It tends to be any veg we have lying around. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, a bit of cabbage, lentils, spinach. When I’m working in the hospital, I’ll exist on fruit and mixed nuts throughout the day instead of the supermarket tuna sandwich, crisps and orange juice. I used to have while at hospital, which was bad for me.
5pm: I meditate again for 20 minutes. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was 18, and it helps me focus and also relax. I have good meditation sessions and bad ones, I’m not floating into the cosmos every time, but it’s a way for me to try to get some time to myself, however busy things get.
6.30pm: I’ll finish work and have a glass of red wine, or sometimes I’ll have a small beer. I have a fridge full of kombucha, which I find has a similarly relaxing effect. Or I might have a low alcohol beer. I’ll start preparing dinner – I do this about 60 per cent of the week, as my wife tends to come home later than I do and she doesn’t work at home as much.
My wife is French-Belgian so it’s taken some time to wean her off cream, butter, meat and chips. We eat the same meals, and three nights a week have Riverford meal boxes which I started using when I became mainly vegetarian, as I found they widened my vegetable repertoire.
We tend to eat plant-based, spicy dinners like a cauliflower, spinach curry, with fried red onions and turmeric, mustard seeds, cumin, garam masala. I mix in some kefir, and sprinkle some fresh coriander over the top. We never really go to the supermarket these days, we buy fruit and veg we need from local shops.
8.30pm: I travel a lot so when I’m home I enjoy relaxing on the sofa and watching a film or a TV series. We’re on Happy Valley at the moment. Going out for dinner is a big pleasure, and we have lots of good, reasonably priced places near us in Islington. At the weekends, to relax, we’ll often take the bikes on the train and do trips outside of London. In the summer I do lots of swimming in the sea, although I’ve not done cold-water swimming as my hands tend to turn blue when they’re cold.
10pm: I get into bed and put my phone on “do not disturb” mode and put it down on the floor, and I won’t look at it again until tomorrow. I read for half an hour. If I’m working on my own book, I’ll likely read fiction to take my mind off work. I fall asleep easily, but as I get older I find I’m waking up earlier, which is annoying.
There’s no perfect way to live, and as we age, inevitably things change. I don’t want to present myself as having the perfect routine, because it doesn’t always work. If I come back from a work trip from Canada and have dreadful jet lag, that wipes out all my efforts. Life intervenes in all sorts of ways, but I try to remember the importance of a combination of sleep, relaxation, exercise and food that is good for me.