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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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!

Voles, holes, bats and hedgehogs

Today, June 1st, is the first day of meteorological summer for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. I am assuming there are other measures of when summer starts, although don’t ask me what they are! I imagine it may be related to the retail world and start when the shops want to sell new school uniforms . So a little guidance towards parents reminding them that their little darling will soon be in need of yet another uniform for the new school year in September!

As I child I used to really enjoy my long summer holiday and hated seeing TV adverts by about week two of that break promoting back to school!

But school and school holidays are a long time ago for me now…

For now I just embrace the seasons! Here in the UK we are experiencing a bit of a heatwave and have just had our driest May on record.

This evening’s sunset over my local reservoir

Now as I mentioned a few weeks ago in this blog, I am avoiding writing specifically on the subject of Covid 19 and the personal impact of it. I do realise many people are impacted but much has already been said and I don’t feel I can add to this.

However one of the side effects of our different way of living is the change to our environment and our human perspective on it and each and everyday I see the impact of this.

Many more of us seem to be embracing nature and finding a new appreciation for what is around us. Some of this is just having our eyes open to what is already there. But there are also scientifically proven reductions in pollution, increased opportunities for wildlife to prosper and present themselves to us at closer quarters than normal.

The humble garden vole has now made a significant comeback in our area to the extent that part of our garden is now criss crossed with numerous moles tunnels closely resembling the Spaghetti Junction motorway interchange in Birmingham. Hedgehogs too are having a good season due to reduced road traffic, but are actually suffering now from water shortages. My last gardening job of the day this evening was to create a semi submerged hedgehog drinking vessel, suitable for hedgehog access but not one it can drown in!

And finally bats…maybe not everyone’s favourite animal…although really it’s just a flying mouse that helpfully eats lots of insects. The bats seem to be thriving too and not needing any human intervention.

Life at the moment is hard and very challenging for many, but for those who can embrace it, nature is giving us all a bit more love at the moment, we just need to open our eyes to what is out there.