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……………..

 

Another late arrival

Just as I was a latecomer to the world of blogging, I really am late to the world of Instagram. If I was age 19 or even 29, I would be using Instagram as my means of social media connection with others, photographing every meal, and in short recording my life in images.

As is very evident, age 29 is a distant memory and my use of Instagram is only as a photograph album that I share with family and friends.

Ok, until I realised my privacy settings were, well not so private, I was also sharing my photographs with the world. Not a problem in its own right, but I did seem to encourage ‘connections’ offering me Russian brides (….If only they knew that I am not the route to a passport and a large bank account), Medical Enlargement Clinics offering surgery free treatment presumably to ‘improve my prospects’ with said Russian brides and of course Bitcoin Riches to ensure that myself and new wife Tatanya Yelga Anastasia can live in wealthy bliss back in Vladivostok.

In a way though, it’s more than a photograph album , but a means of me wearing my heart on my sleeve and declaring my love for clouds, sunsets and generally the countryside around us.

But I sense I am not alone…search on #sunsets, #clouds and so on and you will find I am in good company.

Well, maybe just me and three sparrows like these clouds but you know what I mean…

A bit like my blog, my Instagram account is there to be enjoyed by anyone who passes by and drops , but blissfully ignored by the remaining others…..or 99.99999999999999999% of the world’s population as I like to call them.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to comment, share and like.

For the opacarophiles (sunset lovers) just head straight to my Instagram page late.again

Ah…so it is Monday then?

I have deliberately not posted about Corona virus over these past weeks.  Not that I  don’t recognise the huge  impact it is having on people’s  lives  – from not only the obvious health related aspects on family, friends and loved ones,  but the economic and social aspects as well….but there are many posts  on many sites  and I don’t think I can really add to what is being said, other than that  I have the greatest sympathy and concern for anyone suffering from this at the moment.

However one of the impacts of the different lives we are living at the moment is that the days of the week really   blur  and we lose the structure of our normal weeks.   I have also been taking some annual leave from work as well  and this too has helped merge the days.

Anyway, net result is that today is Monday…and I seem to have lost Sunday,  somewhere in the days after Friday and Saturday so the planned Sunday post now is being published on a Monday. 

 So how have I spent today?

Well, mostly tending to a fire!

Despite living in a highly technological world, there seems to be something hardwired into us males  that draws us to making and tending to fires (it also manifests itself  for most men with barbecues,  but that’s a tale for another day!)


I have quite a large garden, and have spent much of my free time over the last two to three weeks trimming trees, shrubs and generally tidying up. Net result… a huge pile of  branches, twigs and general garden waste  that would fill a room!  I have been determined to burn this pile for many days now but each day so far has not been right… too windy, too wet, too wet and windy, too nice (neighbours in garden and windows all open), and so on…..

But today all conditions were perfect,  so a bonfire was called for, and a huge and satisfying blaze ensued. 

Now I really like bonfires…but its really not so much the blazing inferno at the beginning  as  in some ways they just are a sad reminder of the various forest fires we have seen this year. 

But actually its more than just the hunter, gatherer, fire maker urges in me being satisfied. What I really enjoy is  the residual smouldering pile that remains and will burn quietly for hours or sometimes days, occasionally flaring up, but always sending little wisps of smoke.

Now these really do remind me of my childhood and gardening with my parents.

Nothing more evocative than the smell of wood smoke on a spring evening.

Happy days!

I’ve missed you….

For those thinking this is the first line of a romantic monologue, prepare to be (slightly) dissapointed.The object of my affection here is Parkrun. I know I have written about this before here (do click and have a read if you have a minute) and indeed for those for whom even the thought of spending the first 30 minutes or so of their weekend running around a park is not a pleasant prospect, I wholeheartedly apologise.However for the thousands (actually tens of thousands) who do this in the length and breadth of the UK and much beyond, I really have missed your company, friendship and motivation.
I have had a 3 month hiatus (sounds very medical, but I just mean interlude!) for a whole variety of reasons not for discussion now, but culminating in a long abscence.
Anyway last Saturday was great, Spring Like weather, a park starting to wake up from the lashings of winter, and friendly faces not seen for months.So here we are on Friday evening again, it’s not too late for anyone to find their nearest Park run (or equivalent) dig out those trainers and a tee shirt and start the rest of your life .…I’ve yet to meet someone who has not started and been overwhelmed by the camaraderie, friendship and personal improvement that will transpire.
Happy Friday! See you in the morning…..  got to walk the dog? No problem, they are welcome too!
Enjoying this blog? I hope so, please do comment, share and like.

Happy Valentine’s day!

Valentine’s day I know triggers many emotions ranging from hope, disappointment, cynascism, indifference and probably a whole raft of others too.Many of us have probably experienced all or some of these depending on our range of life experience i.e. how old we are!In my early teens a Valentine’s card (or extremely rarely ….cards plural!) would arrive, anonymous of course and then detective work that Agatha Christie would have been proud of then commenced…handwriting analysis, postmarks, even steaming off stamps to look for clues underneath the stamps (none were ever found!) , questioning of likely suspects, interrogation of friends of the suspects and so on.Sometimes when the sender was identified it was a disappointment, at other times perhaps a kindly gesture sent by my sister…or a just an unanswered mystery, decades later.Later in life…….I remember at about age 19 I had a girlfriend who would send me two valentines cards…although both were anonymous, the first card was more her style and I was confidently able to determine it was from her and put it on display and thank her for it. The second was sent as a test…to see if I admitted to her I had received another card! I hasten to add she and I parted company fairly quickly after that….and she probably went on to have a successful career working for a ‘honey trap service’…Yes they do exist, I hadn’t realised until I saw a TV documentary about them a short while ago!Later in life when it’s husband to wife and wife to husband cards, although the mystery goes, it’s still an opportunity to recognise that person is the one you have chosen as life partner.Having said that, in the same way as the Animal Welfare TV advertising of the 1970’s used to remind us that ‘A dog is for life, not for Christmas’ , the same applies here too. Why have a specific day to tell someone you love them? Do it every day..maybe not in words but in gestures, actions or kindness.It’s a bit like my pet hate of New Year resolutions….if you decide you want to make a change or take a new direction, why wait for some fireworks……or a new calendar to arrive before you do it.In the words of Nike….just Do It.Anyway, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s day and happen that it is all you want it to be.

The only way is….

TV viewers of a certain generation in the UK will be familiar with TOWIE. For those not in that demographic, its a reality TV programme, ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ following lives of 20 somethings living and nightclubbing around Romford, a London suburb but actually in the neighbouring county of Essex and holidaying in Magaluf and Benidorm.

Full of stereotypes and predictable storylines of who has cheated on who, and who has had what cosmetic surgery!

Why mention this…well I informed a German colleague that I was going to a family celebration in the county and he said ah yes, I have seen it on satellite TV.

I felt an explanation was required!

TOWIE… So is this a representation of Essex life?To a degree yes but it’s a large county and go to the other end…i.e. the bit not bordering London and you find picturesque villages more akin to John Constable country than dodgy nightclubs!

I am a bit biased..having lived at the London end, but having family connections in some of the more rural parts, that’s where I would always want to be. Even the district names remind you of the deep history of the place .

The Essex seaside towns of Clacton, Frinton and Walton in are in a district called the Tendering Hundred. Why? Hundred was unit of English local government and taxation,an intermediate between a village and shire, which survived into the 19th century. Originally, the term probably referred to a group of 100 hides (units of land required to support one peasant family)

I could write so much more about the good side of the county…but that will take time….

And on the subject of hundreds…my last subscriber was number 100…I was amazed when I had one so to have 100 of you I feel flattered and humbled.

I appreciate that not every post, is for everyone but I sincerely hope that in my 100 plus posts to date, there has been someting that at some point has amused or informed you….or perhaps just made you glad you don’ t live in the UK!

With my heartfelt thanks for hopefully enjoying what I write…….

Bookshops, log fires and trains

A few weeks ago, we had a quick visit to Northumberland for the weekend. From where we live in Yorkshire, it’s only a couple of hours drive away and to use that well used cliche, it is a hidden gem!

Castles, deserted beaches with seals , lighthouses and unspoilt towns all just a couple of hours away.

Our first stop was at the town of Alnwick…in summer very popular with visitors to it’s castle (the location of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies) and also the renowned Alnwick Gardens.

But our winter visit was focused on a warm and cosy tea shop for lunch, then some Christmas shopping in the town centre which has a great array of independent shops rather than the ubiquitous array of vape shops, tattooists and charity shops that seem to abound on many UK High streets. Alnwick also has the most wonderful second hand bookshop, Barton Books in the towns old railway station. It is huge and has a stock of over 200,000 books…that’s a lot of books!

It is wonderfully eclectic in style with a model railway above the bookshelves, several eating places in former waiting rooms complete with log fires and is very dog friendly.

What’s not to like?

A short post I know, and no earth shattering revelations of science, politics or general knowledge , nothing of great amusement to be repeated to your friends…but sometimes in life, its the simple things that are the best and this was one of those weekends!

I hope you enjoy these posts ….please do comment and share. Meantime I wish you a good weekend…..

Fishtanks, Maccaroni cheese and Christmas Trees

Let me explain……

Yesterday we bought our Christmas Tree. We are fortunate that we have a National Trust site near us (for those from outside the UK and not familiar with it read more here about what this is click here ) and in spring and summer they do plant sales, but in winter just for a few weeks, Christmas trees.

They sell amazing trees, from sustainable forests and all proceeds get fed back into the trust. Our tree smells wonderful and evocative of Christmas celebrations over the years.

Sadly I do always suffer a bit of environmental guilt having this amazing tree in my house that has been felled for no reason other than to adorn our house. Not withstanding the fact that in reality it only ever came into existence for this very purpose and in its early life it has been busy absorbing co2 and helping the planet.

However what struck me as strange in a way in that as much as I am so delighted to have a tree in my house, I have a fairly general disdain for house or office indoor plants. Not so much the kind of things you see in various botanical gardens that bring amazing experiences to us, but the plants you find in the average house and even more so planters with miserable greenery found in offices.

A few jobs ago I was responsible to run a small HQ of a well known hotel brand. Like many contact centres or corporate buildings it had office plants fitted around the building.

I was so convinced they were almost invisible to people, I removed some of them and then a few days later asked if anyone noticed anything different or changed!

Surprise, surprise – nobody noticed they were gone at all. And these plants had a cost – we paid an external contractor to come in to tidy them, trim them and water them.

The irony as well is that I do love plants and like design and display features in buildings…but somehow for me …in the same way that I like pasta and like cheese…but nothing will ever make me like Maccaroni Cheese! , the same goes for house plants.

Anyway it struck me that this was a easy cost saving but should be replaced with something better …but what? So we got fish. Huge cylindrical glass tanks with goldfish.

Well not surprisingly the fish were a big hit and soon I was inundated with internal requests to swap the plants throughout the building so that each area had its own fish tank!

I probably won’t be remembered for much in my 5 years as Director of Operations…but my fish tank legacy lives on!

Time for an embrace…..

My daughter has many words of wisdom, but one of my favourites of hers is ’embrace the seasons’. We all too quickly lament the ending of summer, or the onset of winter but as sure as night follows day, the seasons will arrive and we need to accept what they bring. I think with her tuition I have been taught to love each season for what it brings and enjoy a new calendar page always.For those of us in the Northern hemisphere, we are in autumn now (I appreciate I have some southern hemisphere readers who for them, ‘autumn was just so last year darling…’ ) I also have some North America ‘cousins’ reading this who of course use the term fall, rather than autumn. Anyway, having got those disclaimers out of the way it is autumn in the UK and to be honest it has been wet. Not just a little wet but depressingly downpouringly wet for a lot of it so far. In fact yesterday we had several days of rain in just one hour alone. So I have to say I really have struggled to embrace autumn…I couldn’t manage a hug, just a little soggy peck on the cheek kind of kiss, that you give your dreaded and scary great auntie Flo when you are a child …and you are instructed to kiss great Auntie Flo as she arrives on a bi annual visit. If you as children, didn’t have relatives like this making an occasional state visit to your home, then all I can say is you have been incredibly lucky.Today, however autumn was here in full glory….blue skies, falling leaves and nature showing all the tell tale signs of…”its time for me to rest a little, and move in to the next phase of what I do so now here are some wonderfully coloured leaves and here is some food I have prepared to keep the birds fed over winter”.In a village I lived in some years ago, they had a church social club called the Autumn club – it was for senior citizens and had the usual array of activites for mind, body and soul. I was always struck by the positivity of that name of club for those moving into the autumn of their life .Thankfully, I have got some time time to go before I join that group, but meantime I plan to keep embracing seasons as they come along…. for sure they have their challenges and whether it the cold of winter or heat of summer …these can be issue for those in poor physical health (..or indeed financial health) but in general each season gives us opportunity to enjoy nature and the traditions that abound within our calendar.Enjoying this blog…I hope so? Its only ever intended as a quick read for you and an outlet for me to share my random thoughts.Please click like …if you like it, and comment it you want to say anything good or bad…I can take it! If you think others would enjoy this, please do share on your social media platforms. Thanks for reading……..

You may be recycling more than you think…

My early memories of recycling as a child in the UK in the not very environmentally focussed 1970’s were confined to old newspapers collected by the scouts to raise their funds,

returnable lemonade bottles returned by myself to raise my funds

and my parents ever growing compost heap to raise the local methane levels.

Fast forward over the next few decades and then there thankfully was more awareness and opportunities culminating in the increasingly normalised approach we have today.

Yes, in most residential districts (but it does surprisingly vary in scope even from municipality to municipality in the UK), you will find an array of recepticles outside houses on ‘recycling collection day’ for glass, paper, cardboard, tins, some plastics and garden waste.

That’s all good stuff and how it should be…but what really encourages me now are the other activities. We are turning old and unused industrial units into homes, old railway lines into bridleways, footpaths and cycle tracks and this is not just in the countryside ….you don’t get more city centre than the Hi Line in New York where an old railway line has created a fantastic inner city walkway, garden and general leisure space.

Its not just about ‘practical re-use of items’ or a breaking down to raw materials when things are too old to fulfil their original purpose. Sometimes the new life can be as an art form. Even old London tube trains can become an artistic canvas!

Not to be outdone, with ideas for new uses for old things, easyJet the low cost airline have an old bus literally attached to the front of their HQ building to create more meeting space.

And on the subject of airlines…how about this as a ‘feature’ for your hotel entrance…

But the best and simplest of all are the charity shops that fill our high streets….old clothes, old books, old music are all recycled to new owners with some money made for a needy cause along the way and delighted new owners buying at low prices. And it really is a win, win. Often these shops are staffed by volunteers and they will be from a wide sphere…retirees wanting to give back to the community, others who find it an opportunity to engage in a lower stress environment than the conventional workplace would allow and actually a whole raft of other reasons.

So remember when you give to or buy from a charity shop, the benefits are spread widely.

Giving, buying, sharing…it’s all about showing some love for the world and treating it with dignity.

Enjoying this blog…please ‘like’ if you do genuinely like it and comment in any way you feel you want to.

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