Laughter. Smiles. Happiness. Entertainment. Every weekend, one or two short blogs. Each one around a 2 minute read of thoughts, musings , comments on life in general. If it brings a smile to your face, informs, educates or does all three then I will be happy! Why this blog name? Well, I am very late to the world of blogging. Hope I was worth the wait! Please do like it (if you like it!) , comment, and share via social media. Thanks
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.
When I was at primary school the phrase ‘who do you think you are ?’ was sometimes the retort from my teachers if they felt I had overstepped the mark on terms of individuality, free expression or indeed anything that was considered outside the norm.
That however was back in the 1970’s in Glasgow convent primary school and I am glad to say things have moved along a bit since then.
In the UK and other countries where it has been syndicated people more often associate it the TV documentary where celebrities trace their ancestry and without fail find some surprises…be that good or bad. No shortage of royal ancestry, notorious criminals and actors who thought they were first generation in the industry finding out that six generations back, great, great, great uncle was a star of silent movies. Of course what the programme doesn’t tell you is the hours of arduous research that the programme researchers have to undertake duscarding numerous celebrities who have not so much as a whiff of fame, scandal or notoriety and in fact are descendants of six generations of law abiding solicitors and accountants.
However who we are is not just about what our ancestors did, but where they came from . I was recently given a gift from my children of an ancestry DNA test. I had some strong pre conceived ideas about whst the results would be …on my mother’s side of family, the family tree is well documented and my expectations that this would generate more or less 100% Irish, perhaps with a bit of Spanish. There are people of Spanish origin in Ireland..myth says these descendants of ‘visitors’ grom the Spanish Armada when many ships were wrecked off the Irish coast, but the more factual reality is that several hundred years later there was much maritime trading between Ireland and Spain and an inevitable intertwining of families. And my family reasons for suspecting a Spanish connection…early photographs of my mother as a child indeed show a dark haired, swarthy skinned child that indeed would not look out of place in any Iberian family photo.
My father’s family are Irish immigrants to the UK but with my English/French origin surname, suspected that there would be Norman or Scandinavian origins too.
Anyway my results arrived…and is often the case not quite what I expected…
I am 98.5% Celt (ie Irish), so no surprise on that bit…….. and 1.5% Ashkenazi ….well that really was a surprise!!!
Do I feel different…actually I do. Very proud of my Irish roots (land always have been) but also intrigued by this other, small though it is heritage from an ancient people, who genetically can be traced back to just 300 or so people in the Middle East.
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This might seem a strange title when at the time of going to press, here in the UK and indeed the wider world things are not too rosy.
Coronavirus, although not yet at pandemic level is causing much mayhem and indeed economic distress by scaring the pants off the financial markets.
Weeks of rain has caused considerable flooding in many parts of the UK, and I could go on and on.
But in the words of Monty Python, Always look on the bright side of life.
We currently have some house guests and conversation turned to where was an optimal place to live in London when young and single. For the avoidance of doubt, that ship has sailed for me many years ago but anyway, we had the conversation just in case I became young and single again!
Many years ago I lived in the London/Essex borders and my lengthy and boring commute took me through Stratford in London’s East End. Stratford was a miserable place…poor quality housing, industrial grime of railway yards and general decay as the jobs diminished and nothing came to replace them. Standing on the station platform to change trains was fairly depressing and in reality gave me a guilt complex as I realised this was home for many people, not just a transit point, as it was for me.
But then came the Olympics in 2012. And then more importantly the Olympic legacy.
This area is now one of the best connected in London with new tube stations, a station on the International network with trains to Paris, Brussels and even Disneyland; a world class home for their local football team and a fantastic area of Parkland housing the newly orientated Olympic acquadrome and stadii.
And a very large shopping mall with not just shops but also numerous restaurants, bars and entertainment options. Given the opportunity now, a great place to live at that stage in life.
So what makes me write this, quite simply the fact that not all change is bad , and that generally speaking we overcome the difficulties and move on.
In the same way that we embraces the seasons, we have to embrace the changing world we live in, learn, improve and move on.
One of the interesting “fall outs” from the Coronavirus situation is that Chinese pollution levels have dropped for the first time in years…little comfort for someone impacted financially by not being able to work, but a telling fact all the same.
As Canadian Singer Songwriter Avril Livigne puts it’s……Why does life have to be So Complicated?
I don’t actually mean complex relationship problems, issues relating to world peace or solving scientific mysteries or even working out what does the Colonel use in KFC to give it’s unique flavour?
No, I mean really simple stuff. My father in law is in his eighties and asked if I would call round to help him with his new telephone for the house they have recently downsized to. Ok 20 years too late, but that’s a different story.
Anyway this simple land line telephone is anything but. It seems that there is no such thing as just buying something with the features you need but you have to get a load of other stuff . This land line phone can be paired with his mobile (cell phone) to intercept his calls, it can act as a baby monitor, it can be an intercom and numerous other things he really doesn’t want.
So what’s the big deal…well the big thing is that the phone has a terrifying 40 page instruction manual which he felt he should read, but he got lost at Bluetooth pairing. He was concerned this may be some kind of dating feature his wife (my mother-in-law) may not approve of.
Anyway, I have got him up and running on the features he needs!
So Technology makers…give some thought to the fact that not everyone actually wants everything…they perhaps just want what they want!
Our elder generation in a way just want to enjoy life without unnecessary complexity.
Although we all try to stay young in mind in heart and spirit, for us that same day will come at some time in our life.
Having just looked in the mirror and seen a few grey hairs, perhaps my time is faster approaching than I thought!
I was travelling on a suburban train in Germany early on Thursday evening. It normally looks just like this.Without really paying much attention to my fellow passengers initially…….. then I looked up and saw that in my carriage was a Franciscan monk, a nun, Darth Vader, two policemen, a pilot, a selection of fairies, an elf and some more people whose ‘uniform of occupation’ baffled me but I assumed they worked in ‘entertainment’ of some shape or form. I was slightly troubled by the monk swigging from a beer bottle and the nun applying more make up. Being one of only one or two ‘normally’ attired individuals, somewhat ironically I felt out of place and the object of attention rather than them!Yes, its carnival time in Germany…only really celebrated in a few cities such as Cologne (yes, they really do it big time!!!!) and nearby Dusseldorf where although the celebrations are big, they don’t quite match near neighbour along the Rhine. You really don’t go out that day to have fun unless you are suitably attired in fancy dress.I am a very regular traveler in Germany for both work reasons and also socially with having family there, but I realised this was the first time I have been there for Carnival weekend.Ok, its not quite the Mardi Gras of Rio but Germans do know how to have fun and use the opportunities that avail themselves. In the same way that Oktoberfest starts in September and not October, celebrations of Carnival start way in advance of the last day prior to Lent starting.In the Uk we too do something that day, but in a very low key way.For those not familiar with UK customs, on this same day we have Pancake Tuesday (also called Shrove Tuesday – Shrove derives from the old English word Shrive which is to obtain absolution for ones sin, hence the tradition to be Shriven before the start of Lent)Anyway, yes, we eat pancakes. For the vast majority of the population, it is the one and only day of the year when we will have a pancake. I can hear the horror now from our US and Canadian cousins who have these as a regular part of breakfast fayre and from our French cousins , likewise ‘desolee’ that a Crepe never passes our lips from one end of the year to the next.So why eat pancakes then – the tradition being that eggs, flour, fat and sugar were being used up before the fasting that took place in Lent.Oh and being the UK, some further traditions have evolved such as races with people tossing pancakes in frying pans as they run….well, why not?Happy Pancake day to everybody!Enjoying this blog or bemused by this blog? Please subscribe and share on Social Media.Please also feel free to comment if you feel so inclined.As is very evident, this blog has no particular theme other than thoughts or observations what would otherwise only get shared with ‘captive’ listeners such as the supermarket cashier, or my more polite and tolerant family and friends.
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.
For those not of a religious nature and in fact those without a specific knowledge of 14th century saints, the name St Pancras means nothing, other than it being a somewhat magnificent London Railway Terminus.For those who may want to know more, St Pancras became a saint due to his martyrdom and rebellion against the Romans in defence of the Christian faith. He is not really a top ten rated saint compared to Animal loving St Francis, travel insurance expert St Christopher, snake repelling St Patrick and many others who get regular top billing both in the church and popular literature and films. Anyway if a St Pancras question comes up at quiz night, you will be the hero of your team now. St Pancras station however really is out there making a name for itself. This magnificent building which has a gothic cathedral like appearance from the outside was constructed in the 1860’s and was in good use for the first 100 years of its life but fell into gradual decline from the 1960’s and was nearly derelict by the 1970’s with only a small number of departures to the Midlands of England with most other services having been moved for various reasons to other stations nearby such as next door neighbour modernist Kings Cross,and near neighbours St Marylebone and Euston.Then a stroke of luck…the newly created international services of Eurostar to Paris and Brussels needed a larger terminus; the newly created high speed domestic trains to the Kent coast likewise, and also some other commuter services needed a station that could accomdate increased train lengths introduced due to traffic growth.That’s just the background and the ‘raison d’etre’ for the stations rebirth.And what a transformation….light, sculptures, classy shops, restaurants and champagne bars truly have brought the romance back to train travel.The full story of this transformation is worth a read…well documented on Wikipedia. For those not looking for the detail….just try to visit it if ever you are in London. You really won’t be disappointed.
Travelling back to Yorkshire from a family event in Essex last Sunday was not a rushed journey, so we took the opportunity to stop off at Cambridge. Cambridge is probably just over 2 and 1/2 hours drive from our home when the traffic is being kind, but we never really go there, so making an en-route stop was a sensible and long overdue idea.
I lived in London for 10 years and although I saw and did a lot when I lived there, as a (regular) visitor now, I probably make many more purposeful visits to see things now far more than I ever did when I lived there.
And actually, Scotland is an even more valid case… I lived there for 18 years but really saw none of it other than Glasgow
where I lived and its very near neighbour Edinburgh.
Now Glasgow and Edinburgh are great places and I commend them both to everyone , but there is of course so much more to the country.
I really have a lot of catching up to do there in Scotland……..
Meanwhile back in Cambridge…. it was a relatively short visit this time but with already reaffirmed intentions to visit more.
We parked just by Kings College on the other side of the Cam, and walked in to the city and with unseasonably sunny and mild weather, Cambridge looked good on that Sunday afternoon.
Whether it the buildings, the punts on the Cam
or fantastic open air market, or just the historic bookshops, there is plenty to please the eye.
Later in the week I was chatting to my hair dresser and as you will have read in a previous blog Do you want conditioner these are not conversations as you would expect that include the three standard hairdresser questions * , but we talk about everything and in fact I had been asked ….where is the most amazing place I have visited….now to be fair, that conversation was really more linked to exotic places that my current and previous employers have dispatched me to, to go and drink coffee, or attend a meeting! …and the answer by the way was I think Mauritius…. but I think if I had been asked for a UK town, Cambridge would certainly have got in my top ten!
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Thanks for taking the time to read.
The three questions are : Have you been to work today?, Are you going out tonight?, Got any holidays booked?
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 ofEnglish 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…….