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……………..


And the winner is….

In the UK things have been somewhat hot over the past few days both politically and meteorologically. For those that live here or indeed follow international affairs it won’t have escaped your notice that we have just had a new Prime Minister elected . I use the word elected loosely as only a very small percentage of the population, about 0.1% get to vote on this . If this intrigues you , read more here.

Anyway with all this argy bargy going on and tv full of what may or may not happen next, Global Warming (or just cycles of nature..as both believers and non believers read my blog) has sent us the mother of all heatwaves this week.

Put these two together and you get a very hot and bothered nation.

So, imagine my delight to see that you.gov, one of our leading polling agencies, normally telling us what will happen in the next election or what people think about government policy or the state of the railways have put out a survey today…………… on ice lollies.

So how uncontroversial is that! Evidently not. A twitter furore has evolved and even challenges are now being made on what constitutes a lolly!

And for the record, why no mention of White Chocolate Magnum? Surely one of the world’s greatest inventions after the internal combustion engine, the internet and latte machiatto ?

Not for girls…

York is one of my favourite historical cities and yes, I am slightly biased having worked in the city for 5 years and lived in a nearby village for 10.

Residents of the UK will remember the politically incorrect strapline on adverts for chocolate Yorkie bars..suggesting that this bar in a very masculine blue wrapper was for macho male truck drivers.

There was then a limited edition pink wrapped bar..I can’t remember the strapline for that one..it might have been ‘only for girls.’..so not too much extra effort then for that one from the ad agency!

Things have thankfully moved on a bit since then, although York as a city (hence the product name) still does have a continued history of chocolate and confectionary making, albeit on a much smaller scale. At one time it boasted major production sites for two big names Rowntrees (now part of Nestle) makers of said Yorkie bars, polo mints, Kit Kats etc. and Terry’s (now part of Kraft) famous for the Chocolate orange and Terry’s All Gold.

York also has a great railway heritage having been one of the main train making cities from the steam era through diesel and then electric. It is home to the UK’s national railway museum home of the Flying Scotsman and literally hundreds of other exhibits. Somewhat amazingly this museum is free and is a magnet for rail enthusiasts and tourists alike.

My former employer in York was strongly engaged in the community and we would periodically visit primary schools to talk to children about the world of work and thoughts of future careers. Doing a Q and A with the class we were visiting I asked..’.so who has a Mum or Dad who works in the chocolate factory?’ ..response just one raised hand from a class of 30 . I tried again… who has a Mum or Dad that works on the railway?’ ‘ This time zero hands! A sign of the times. I am told Kit Kat production is at record levels from the York factory, but so is automation. Had I asked these questions in the 70’s or 80’s I would probably have covered the parental occupations of at least half the class. So what do people in York work at now…well the city has diversified with finance, and academia being two big employers. But the real big one is tourism.

Not only does York have it’s Minster (Cathedral), it’s Medieval streets and Roman walls

..it now also has Harry Potter! Many of the movies were in part filmed here and that is drawing the crowds.

The Shambles one of York’s ancient narrow and twisted streets has at the last count four Harry Potter shops!

Diversification but perhaps not as anybody had planned it.

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