Finally, I am recognised for my lack of talent

Last weekend in the UK nature brought us blue skies, a gentle breeze and warmth in the sunshine, so a perfect day to get on and get some work done in the garden.

Planning on being out there the best part of a whole day, I made sure my phone was in my pocket and turned on. I even diligently got my phone out from time to time to make sure I had not missed calls when using my somewhat loud strimmer and even noisier lawn mower.

However unbenown to me, when replacing said phone in my pocket, I actually touched the Facebook icon, opened the app, and then made a post consisting of a stream of random keyboard characters!

Oblivious to this, I carried on working and about an hour later stopped for a cold drink and checked my phone for messages.

An urgent What’s App from my daughter: “Dad, I think your phone has been hacked and someone has been using your Facebook to make some posts, I am sure they are not from you”

You can imagine my panic I quickly checked the posts expecting to find adverts for Russian Mail Order Brides, Investment Opportunities for Nigerian businessman with a surplus $1 million that they need my help with or recommendations for magic potions to improve parts of me to make me even more desirable to the above mentioned mail order bride!

Anyway I was very relieved to find out it was none of the above but just a random post of gibberish like someone’s left over scramble letters!

What did surprise me though was that this pointless post attracted much interest from my friends and got a number of ‘Like’s.

In fact more likes than I would normally get for a post.

It actually quite troubled me as it suggests this far exceeds the quality then of what I more regularly post!

Turned out nice again!

I am not sure if it was nature or nurture that gave me my interest (the unkind would say, my obsession!) with the weather. I suspect a bit of both.Having lived my early years in the West of Scotland you have to get used to it being wet and really any day when it is not wet is deemed ‘a nice day’ and a cause for comments of mild surprise.

Planning outdoor events was therefore always quite a lottery and required close attention to TV weather forecasts, how the sky actually looked and whether cows were lying down in a field or standing up.And the accuracy or efficacy of these might not be in that order ! Weather forecasting was not so good back then.

And just for the record, I think this may be the first time I have used the word efficacy in a blog…I used to work with an accountant who frequently used it…I trust I am doing the word justice!

On the nurture side of things, I have my late and beloved mother to thank as well. She was a GP by profession, but interested in a whole raft of subjects, one of these hobbies being plants and her garden and of course weather plays a big part in that. Way before the days of the internet and the ease of looking at historic weather patterns with a view to deciding when to plant seeds or risk delicate seedlings to the outside world, she was able to look at previous year planners where she had recorded daily weather events and extremes such as snow in May or Frost in June – actually not so extreme for residents of Glasgow in the 1970’s when Global Warming had not yet arrived!

So move on thirty years and my meteorological upbringing has helped define me.

It has also actually made birthday and Christmas presents ideas quite easy for my family.


Weather vanes, anemometers, garden clocks with thermometers, rain gauges etc. have all arrived and been very well received as gifts.Not to mention the books on clouds, forecasting, extremes of weather that are now adorning my bookshelf.

And of course renowned as I am (despaired with…., again might be the more accurate description from those around me) for starting random conversations with all and sundry in supermarkets, trains or country lanes ..what better opener than ‘turned out nice again’ !

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Comments and feedback most welcome…….

Well that grabbed my attention!

I follow quite a few bloggers, and indeed there is no particular connection amongst these other than the posts they write amuse, entertain or educate me.

Occasionally they just confuse me! I am sure I too am guilty of the same on occasion of leading in one direction and sending to another.

I know have quite an esoteric following in the world of dentists, veterinary staff, cooks, travel writers and a whole raft of people whose skills or interests have not been disclosed. I just hope at least some of what I write fills a void in their blog reading life.

So, back to the blogs I read. One I read at the beginning of the week was titled..How to get more Instagram followers without posting photographs. I was slightly puzzled by this as I thought Instagram was about where to show your photographs. I haven’t used Instagram for long but evidently I have been doing the wrong thing by actually publishing photos rather than creating brand ‘me’ and promoting me. This oversight explains why I have about 20 Instagram followers rather than 20,000!

The next day however I read a blog post simply titled ‘Finally a sofa’.

That resonated far more with me, as like so many people, with more time on our hands we have been trying to put them to good use, but need the tools to do that.

Over the last weeks I could have done a blog called ‘Finally hedge clippers, deckchair covering, strimmer wire and printer toner’. All of these very First World requirements and never really the kind of items that would have pleased Robinson Crusoe too much if washed up on his desert island beach. But for me better than a lifeboat, outboard motor with fuel and a map that Robinson hoped for on each tide.

On the subject of ‘how to….?’, in the UK we had a childrens TV programme in the 1970’s (..and I think it returned again in the early 2000’s) called How? It never did anything on how to big up your social media presence….and even if such things had been in existence today, they would not have gone there, but it was great in that it explained how things work and in many cases how to replicate them.

One of my favourites was how toothpaste comes out with stripes!

For the non experts in toothpaste manufacturing, it has dyes positioned in the tube neck that colours the outer edge of the paste just as it exits. The TV programme actually then gave you a toothpaste recipe and then showed you how to unseal a used tube of toothpaste, fill up with your own that would then squirt out stripey toothpaste.

Happy Days

PS …told you this blog was liked by Dentists!!!!

As this is a blog, all comments welcome……..

Seven Brides and Forty winks

It’s July 15th as I write this and it is Saint Swithuns day, unless of course you live in Norway where he gets his big moment of fame on July 2nd instead. No, before you ask, I don’t know why …….

Anyway St Swithum was Bishop of Winchester (England) in about 861 AD and had various claims to fame mostly on restoring churches but somewhat bizarrely he is also reputed to have restored a basket of eggs back to their original form that had been broken when sat on by the builders on one of his restoration projects ! Omelettes evidently were not a big thing back then.

These historical events are however somewhat overshadowed for his posthumous miracle making. It is said that if it rains on Swithuns bridge in Winchester on July 15th , then it will rain for 40 days.

I don’t think there is any time limit on this so don’t plan a house move to Winchester if you want guaranteed summer barbecues every August.

Fortunately, looking at the weather forecast things at least for this year look ok at the moment.

The number Seven is often seen in mythology, story telling and so on as a number of plenty – Seven brides for Seven brothers…indeed that number of weddings throws any father into panic at the cost and mayhem; Seven Deadly Sins – hmmm, perhaps not lets go there; Seven Dwarfs stretches many a pub quiz contestant to name them all, Seven Wonders of the World seems to be an ever changing league table and just when you think you have seen most of them they change and so the task of ticking them off becomes almost unattainable.

It seems too that forty is also number of choice – Forty Winks is deemed a reasonable length of time for a sleep and good old Swithum has opted for forty as a reasonable number for days of rain. Well, thanks Saint S, I am all for replenishing reservoirs but that is just too much!

I really do have a vested interest in it not raining for 40 days. Tomorrow is my birthday (not my fortieth sadly…that ship has already sailed) and I plan for the next few days to have some time off work (that won’t be forty days either) and enjoy walking in the hills , spending time with extended family, drinking wine in the garden and generally having fun…most, but not all of these activities are greatly assisted by a little sunshine!

Happy 15th July to you all (Norwegian’ s respectfully excluded)

Who needs socks?

A few weeks ago,  it was Father’s Day.

Every possible tie that you never wanted

Ok, I am the first to agree that this is an event fabricated by the greetings card industry to sell more cards. It has none of the historic significance of Mother’s Day and according to many a vexed and frustrated mother, every day is Fathers day anyway!

I am however a father, so of course I am happy to have my recognition on that day. But cliche as it is, I genuinely don’t want my children’s hard earned money to be spent on me, and my desire from them is seeing them healthy, happy and fulfilled.

This has always been my mantra, but true to form, over the years I have been generously lavished with cards, chocolate, handkerchiefs and socks.  

The great thing about gift socks is you get ones that you just wouldn’t buy yourself – really brightly coloured ones,  one with  boastful statements of ‘Worlds best’ Dad/Uncle/Boss  etc. and occasionally ones made with strange materials such as  recycled car tyres,  Mongolian grass cuttings and so on  that all have amazing properties to make your feet look and feel 20 years younger….so don’t ever gift them to a 19 year old! 

This year, the newly returned but temporarily resident offspring observed my bountifulness in both the hankies and socks department and went a little ‘off piste’.    I had jokingly remarked  that I always felt somewhat guilty when they had to take a walk from our house, into the garden  and then beyond the end of the garden to our allotment*  just to locate  me  to inquire  if I wanted a cup of tea. Or indeed any other sustenance  to assist me in my  weeding,  strimming  or whatever…and then  a few minutes later have to  then make another journey to deliver it,  only for me to then say  I was coming back indoors anyway.    * I think allotments are a very British things, so for  the non UK residents what is an allotment? … in the strict sense of the word  its a small plot of land often maybe only  about 300 square feet (30 sq m) ,  rented at a nominal  rent from your local council enabling flat and apartment dwellers  to grow fruit and vegetables. 

The term  is also  more loosely expanded in my case as we live on the edge of country side and this plot is really just an extension of our garden  where I grow   strawberries and gooseberries, 99% of which get eaten by squirrels,  peas that seagulls seem to eat before we get to them,  and various other fruit and vegetables  for the local insect , animal  and bird residents to feast on.  We are allowed to keep a few lettuces for ourselves though as reward for all this work! 

Anyway…back to the  aforementioned situation ……..So ingenuity was applied to the problem  and for fathers day they presented me with  a pair of walkie talkies to enable communication from garden to home and on various outdoor activities. I have had some good presents in my lifetime…but this one really tops the list.  So why not call..yes we do have good mobile phone reception, but nobody would ever think to phone someone maybe just 100 metres away would they?

This was just such a great idea and practical and useful as well as fun!   

Just one downside…next week I have a birthday,  not just any birthday but a significant one.  It ends in a zero..but thankfully just one of these,  not two.  So the bar has been set very high  and my expectations  and imagination are running riot now with wild ideas of what may be next to delight me. 

Perhaps we are back on socks then……………..

 

Just livin’ the dream

I used to work for a well known European airline, and I was there in the boom times. It was good!

We were all busy people rushing from room to room, in meetings , conference calls and so on. Whenever we were asked by visiting suppliers, partners and so on about how life was , the phrase bounced back to them was, ‘yes, just great , just livin’ the dream”.

And in reality this was true – we were busy , well paid people in a burgeoning economy and things looked good. Having said that, I am never really sure what that phrase, ‘living the dream really means’.

Then fast forward some years, and aviation is a different place, but then so is the whole of transportation, leisure industry, car manufacturing and a whole host of others.

However lets not dwell on that…much is written already, by those far more eloquent and informed than me.

But back to ‘living the dream’. I must admit I am actually quite fascinated by dreams…and the many explanations of why we have them and what they mean. Mine are normally quite staid affairs and usually just involve me being late…I am actually a very punctual person by nature so its perhaps just a bit of daytime real life fears translated into night-time reality.

Until now that is……recently I have just had two very, very strange dreams . One of them in a way doesn’t make a good story to recount in detail as it featured only people that I know or knew…but actually a very strange and bizarre mixture of old friends, old locations , present day family and events none of which are in reality ever connected with each other geographically or chronologically or in any way but with the assistance of my brain had then been beautifully woven together into an elaborate story, a set of emotions, connections, strange timelines and distorted geographies that had this been featured in a film, would have had the critics complaining that the script writer had no sense of reality or worse still was making use of narcotics or had suffered a severe bump on the head.

Normally the dreams I have if remembered at all just evaporate a day or so later once I have shared (or bored!) my friends and family with…”you’ll never guess, I had the most weird dream last night”. But this one is still slightly haunting me some days later as I really puzzle over the most bizarre links of people and events. I am very tempted to share some of the detail but perhaps I’ll keep it in case I ever consider screenwriting of weird movies as an alternate career.

The other dream that followed just one night later was actually much simpler in content. In this dream, I decided to photograph a police vehice and was promptly arrested. I hasten to add that I live in a country where that does not happen, and in fact you would need to steal the police vehicle for such a reaction to follow! In the dream I had bizarrely decided to photograph it because it had some unusual decals on the side…a bit like you might see on a Plumbers van, it advertised the location on the side, and seeing British Transport Police, Kirkcaldy , and yet I seemed to be in London, not Fife , Scotland at the time. It then appeared I decided to photograph this for my friend who lived in Kirkcaldy and show him a visiting police vehicle of his locale, doing a visit to London. Yes, I know this is all so weird, but its a dream don’t forget!

The dream then took on a more bizarre twist, that once I was handcuffed, the very amiable policemen decided that I was just a pleasant but misguided photographer, deleted the photo from my phone, but took pity on me and decided it still would be nice for my friend to see this, so promptly ripped the decals off the van and presented to me as a parting gift after un locking me. None of this makes any sense..other than that I do have a friend who lives in Kirkcaldy!

If anybody can explain any or all of this…please do let me know.

Since then dreams have returned to non-memorable trivia…just a few more missed trains and meetings.

Maybe I eat too much cheese?

Enjoying this blog, or just confused by the content?

Don’t worry, normal content will return soon after a relaxed and good sleep.

Seattle, London or Glasgow?

We seem to live in a world of measurement and accolades and we all are constantly asked by friends, families, surveys and even in job interviews to list our top three’s.

Top three skills, top three achievements are likely questions from a poor quality job interviewer struggling for questions to ask.

Tell me your three favourite places is a sure fire way for well travelled friends to trump your Scarborough , Skegness and Southend with their Malibou, Mauritius and Miami.

As a child, I remember ‘occasional visitor Auntie’ s and Uncle’s’ who would on various visits to our home would repeatedly ask me to list my top three subjects at school. Perhaps in the hope that one day one I would stun them and the assembled family with my answers and reel off English, Mathematics Religious studies rather than the usual respone of ‘er, dunno…let me think, woodwork ‘.

I also once had a slightly scary girlfriend who asked me to rank the top three meals that she cooked me. As her repertoire was actually extremely limited, and in reality really only consisted of about three dishes, thus was a challenging question.

It was a test of my diplomatic skills (that could probably have secured me a peace keeping role at the United Nations had I wanted it) , as really none of the said items were really likely to be on anybody’s list! Her cooking skills evidently had yet to peak at that tender age of 21. She did however have encyclopedic knowledge of the Bay City rollers…the 1970’s answer to Take That or Boyzone!

Much more recently in life in a random conversation with a stranger on a train, I was asked for my top 3 films. We were obviously generationally divided as my top 3 drew a blank from my fellow traveller and the look he gave me suggested that he thought I had just made up at least some of the names. Likewise when it was his turn, I tried to nod knowingly but I think my face said it all and I too drew a blank on his.

However as I have a wide demographic reading this blog, I will take the risk and share it here.

In reverse order…number 3 is Sleepless in Seattle , in second place Gregory’s Girl and in first place Sliding Doors. In some ways all very different films with their locations of trendy Seattle, 1980’s Glasgow and a Notting Hill ‘esqe’ London backdrop for Sliding Doors. But in some ways they are all similar films in their ‘feel good, people are kind, and life can be good to you’ kind of sentiment.

I know everyone wants to get different things from films…to be excited, to be scared, to be amazed, to be inspired and so on…..so from these three, probably not a tick in these boxes then….but to watch the final credits and feel positive about people, these truly are winners.

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Please share………..

Dressed for radio?

When I was twenty something, a good friend of mine, a housemate at the time, encouraged me to be a bit more altruistic in life.

They were actually sounds words of advice, and even though she and I lost touch , (and as non stalker in the world of Facebook, I have no idea where she is or what she is doing …but hopefully not a ten year stretch in one of ‘her majesty’s hotels’ for fraud or embezzlement) . Actually, I very much doubt it, her generosity and love towards her fellow humans always put her in a good direction in life.

In the UK, we often refer to prisons as Her Majesty’s Hotels!

I am sure she has gone on to do great things and motivate many others. Thank you Julia.

My friend was a planet saver, volunteer, befriender and the all round good person that many of us hopefully aspire to be but trip up at early stages and often give up. From her, I actually got sound and simple advice….do things for others that you are good at as you will have a much greater chance of longevity and success than trying to be something that you are not.

My interest, and potential future career at the time was in radio/sound recording and although a ‘sliding doors ‘ moment took me in a different career direction, but that move was to come in later years.

As indeed will come later a blog post on my sliding doors moment!

So armed with my ‘expertise’ in sound recording I volunteered at the local Talking Newspaper for the blind. Every week, we would have some ‘professional’ readers come to our little studio, and they would grandly and eloquently read articles from the local paper. This would be recorded, edited and then using fast copy machines, we had to make a 100 or so copies onto tape cassettes, and put them in special mail packets addressed for each visually impaired recipient.

It wasn’t a highly skilled task, but I was happy to do it, I really enjoyed the company of my fellow ‘technical’ volunteers and the artistic panache of readers.

The readers were very much of a higher standing than us, the backroom people.

The location of this branch of the Talking Newspaper was in leafy and affluent Guildford in Surrey with its grand houses , and in that area, some were the size of small castles! So our professional readers were mainly made up of retired professionals in broadcast, stage or public speaking who were plentiful in this rather well heeled area.

I was particularly in awe of one of them..a retired BBC radio newsreader from the era of when they read the radio news wearing full dinner dress. He didn’t arrive quite so attired for our recording, but he still had that aura about him. One of his sons is now a well known UK TV and film actor and whenever I see him, I always think with fondness of his Dad.

Well life moves on , and I have done a few other voluntary things since then including a spell as a hospital radio presenter…but my dress style never quite matched that of my original mentor!

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And then there were three…

People seem to like things in threes. People expect a third bit of bad luck after two disasters befall them. I am really not sure if I subscribe to that way of living myself, and would actually be more than content with just two bits of misfortune!

Footballers always want another goal after their first two so they can get a hat-trick if they get a third. And for those who are not followers of football (soccer) or possibly, polo or handball…the term may not mean anything to you.

This really weird term originated in cricket when a cricketer, Mr Stephenson won 3 wickets in a row and the crowd were so pleased with him, they took a collection for him and he bought a hat with the proceeds. Quite why he bought a hat rather than just a large round of drinks, history does not seem to say.

Get involved in any wager, and for the losing participant, if things aren’t going well, then a plea of ‘best of three’ is often called for in the hope of grasping success from the jaws of failure.

And so on….

Anyway for me at the moment, I too have things happening in threes….

I have my own game of three parts going on at the moment just to indeed endorse that everything happens in three’s.

As I am reasonably tech savvy, by some co-incidence I have been requested by 3 completely independent individuals at this one time to help them migrate to a new internet solution.

What could possibly go wrong?

The first one went like clockwork, actually like Swiss clockwork!..router arrived on time, line enabled and all working like a dream.

The second has been the biggest fiasco ever and 10 days on still no connection, formal complaints raised and hours of my life gone…on hold to a contact centre!

The third one, well the jury is still out…maybe will be ok?

I know you can’t always expect all three to be perfect…ask Goldilocks that when she did porridge sampling at the three bears house, but even so, this just getting an internet connection, not putting a man on the moon, neurosurgery or writing a best selling novel.

Having said all of that, we do now take our telecoms in the home and all that it gives us totally for granted.

As a child in the 60’s I remember phone calls outside of my local area being treated as one off and expensive events. You had to ring the operator and tell them you wanted to make a trunk call to London for example (we lived in Glasgow). The operator in Glasgow would have to liaise with the London operator and join everything up and then call you back!

I can’t really recall the actual changeover some years later to what was then called STD calling (self dialled trunk calls) but thinking about it, it must have been a real revolution. And don’t forget this was still in the days of telegrams and businesses using telex…or even phoneboxes!

For anyone under the age of 50, you will probably now need to ask best friend google to explain these…..

A few of my favourite things…

Fans of ‘The Sound of Music’, prepare to be disappointed now.

This is not a blog about ‘brown paper packages tied up with string’, ‘raindrops on roses’, or ‘kittens with whiskers’ – for those who haven’t seen the movie or know the song, come on now, you know the routine  just Google    ‘Sound of Music, Favourite things’, rather than me write a lengthy explanation about 1965 films and how the lyrics just stick in your head.

You might also start a whole new pastime  of going to the cinema dressed as a nun.  I am told this is what the true aficionados do. 

And just for  clarity, this also  isn’t a blog about favourite places either…although Salzburg, where the film is set is really beautiful and worth visiting when the ‘situation’ we are in allows it.  Famous for Mozart but has a whole lot more to offer too.

What I am actually writing about is three favourite blogs. I read a lot of blogs for entertainment, information and education but a lot of these are one off visits. There are a few I read regularly and look forward to and  these are three of them that I look forward to and enjoy. .

In no particular order…..Kerry

Keeping up with Kerry.   I started reading this really as a Travel Blog. Kerry is Emirates Cabin Crew and somewhat unusually in my experience, she  really embraces the opportunities she has visiting an array of destinations across the Emirates  destination network. Her writing style is relaxed and informative and in fact probably hides the determined efforts she has made to research in advance where to go, what to see and do in a limited amount of time on a layover.  I can honestly say I have learnt a lot from this blog, even about places I have already visited  and thought I knew well. Understandably at the present time she has not been able to blog about recently visited places for a while but has done a few on working for Emirates, life in Dubai and some detailed ones on hair, make up and cabin crew personal grooming!  Ok, the latter aren’t for me, but never say no to any new knowledge. These days you just do not know what questions may come up in a Zoom on line quiz night. Also as  I also work in aviation  I of course enjoy the more generic ‘life with Emirates’ ones  and also those about Dubai…again a place I have travelled to many times and also pleased to learn more.

Next is Saturday Saunter .   Kev lives in Glasgow but writes as much about  Edinburgh as well as larger neighbour Glasgow. He also features his beloved football team and intersperses it with literary recommendations, some moral philosophy and his views on life in general. It’s a very much ‘say it is, how it is’  kind of blog..in a way written from the heart and like a diary.  I grew up in Glasgow and have a real affinity with many of the places mentioned, but equally there are so many mentions of places and things I either wasn’t aware of or didn’t know the full history that once again, I find more places being added to my must visit list.

Finally, Steven Liddel’s blog….  Steven  is a historian, but also a Tour Guide.  Not just any Tour Guide  but really fascinating walking Tours of London and other UK locations where you will  enjoy hidden secrets and be educated and informed at the same time.  Naturally Steven is unable to blog about current tours,  but he shares in his most eloquent style some  realistic and raw descriptions of his current life in these challenged circumstances  and also  what is now in his more constrained locality.  I think I first found this blog looking for an article about hidden and disused tube stations.  For someone who lived in London for over 10 years,  I am intrigued about what is hidden  and known from all but a few . 

Three very different blogs…I commend them all!