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!
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If all else fails, read the instructions ……

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!

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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.

Will you join me for lunch?

In the uk, the concept of having lunch in terms of a sit down meal is a dying tradition in the workplace.Yes, people will go and meet friends at lunchtime for food and drink but this is not what I mean. The concepts of colleagues stopping work and having food together with each other is a fast declining activity. The pressures of work whether generated by a true over burdening workload or an individual need to measure their importance and wave a flag of ‘ no time for lunch’ as a badge of honour are more and more the norm. Services such as Deliveroo and Uber eats have fuelled the lunch at your desk trend to an all time high.But none of this is good – at one time 70% of us used to meet our future life partners at work…ok some of this from water cooler liaisons, but often from a chat in the staff canteen where Brian from Accounts gets to make small talk with Julie from Dispatch.From a personal space point of view, in an open plan office do you really want fumes from your colleagues Miso soup wafting across your desk. And nothing is more soul destroying (from every aspect) than watching your neighbour splosh through their curried vegetable pot noodle as they flick through Facebook on their phone aimlessly.So what is the alternative? I have just returned from working most of the week in my company’s German HQ, stopping for lunch and going with your colleagues (and visitors) to the staff canteen is the norm not an exception. And not always there, sometimes to a small cafe/restaurant and sometimes to fast food truck/caravan. But akways some unwritten golden rules, we talk to each other, and ideally not on work matters and most definitely no use of phones.Everyone is a winner…social interaction, a true break from work…and actually some nice simple, wholesome food!

Share if you dare

I travel fairly regularly by long distance train in the UK.

Previously I have always booked the ‘quiet coach’ where theoretically people are not supposed to have mobile phone conversations or talk loudly to each other.

Unfortunately the compliance levels are not so good and there are two camps. The first is very, very loud business people who decide to phone their PA, or colleagues or family and are the most indignant when it is pointed out to them (by me!) that they are in the quiet coach. Often they will remark, still very loudly to their caller …’I seem to be in the quiet coach ‘ as though

some alien Tele transportation process had unwillingly deposited them there, very much against their will. And of course that these rules are surely for other people, not important people such as them.

The other offenders are middle aged ladies on train journeys to visit family and I am far more forgiving of them as despite all the signage, they might not be familiar with the process.

So I grit my teeth as their call starts..”is that you dear?…Can you hear me?…I am on the train?…Yes it’s on time and I’ll see you at Kings Cross Station…” So conversation over I think? No chance…..they carry on “oh, I think I am in the quiet coach (Yes…you damm well ARE!!)…so I can’t talk for long” . There then ensues a 20 minute conversation covering all family medical, romantic and miscellaneous issues…probably negating the purpose of the visit at all!

Quite why they think the quiet coach is like the express lane at the supermarket as long as you have 10 conversation items or less!, you can use it.

So I have given up on the quiet coach..but I have decided what is now needed is a non-chatting coach. Not so much that others having conversations, conversations on the phone or face to face with consenting adults is an issue, it’s fine but don’t forget Abigail *, it’s people talking uninvited to me who are the problem! [ *Abigail was a fellow passenger on a train some weeks ago who had such an impact she featured in a blog post just dedicated to her.]

There is a time for sharing your work story, challenges or quest for information- but it’s not on my train. On a train journey earlier this month week an IT guru used all three hours of the journey and barely drew breath talking techno speak to me that would have put Bill Gates in the corner.

Barely a week later I then have a match-making mother sizing me up as a partner for her daughter…despite all the references I made to my wife, children, general contentment with my lot…she was undetered. On reflection perhaps I should have made it very clear I was not from a Polygamous sect… and able to add a another wife to my portfolio in case that was what she was holding out for.

And then, only two days later, the icing on the cake from another woman of a similar age….an interrogation…..although she told me she was a retired teacher from Devon…I am convinced she is ex KGB. She was relentless in her task…the more monosylabic my answers the more questions kept coming. Where do you live?, where have you been?, where did you stay?, are you married?, are you in a polygamous sect? (actually no, she didn’t ask that), when will you get home?, how did you get to the station?…no stone was left unturned, no aspect of my life was not investigated!

So come on train companies of the UK..non chatting coaches please. It will be called the Ask me to Share if you Dare coach!

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Nothing on telly…

‘There’s nothing on telly’ was often the lament when I was a 1970’s teenager. TV back then in the UK was fairly limited…it had taken until 1967 for the UK to get to have have a 3rd TV channel (BBC2).

And not being a nation that rushes things, we had to wait 26 more years until 1993 for Channel 4 to arrive.

These days there really is everything on TV…reality TV has not only gone deep into the world of music with the X Factor and The Voice; Dancing has gone global and of course dating! Things taking quite a big leap from Blind Date to Love Island and even Naked Attraction.

If you don’t live in the UK you may not be familiar with all of these programmes, but they are mostly now fairly globalised!

But moving on, also now with every conceivable pastime from baking to sowing is having a competitive series making stars out of the boy or girl next door who can run up a dress or create a culinary masterpiece better than the pro’s.

Anyway, for anybody in the least bit concerned that the TV programme makers may have run out of ideas …fear not…. Tonight I saw a trailer for the latest reality show to hit our screens in the UK… Model Railways with teams vying with each other every week to create a railway layout with features such as dams, volcanos or mountains….or whatever the judges want the challenges to be!

Now no disrespect to people with such a hobby…but my limited experience of meeting such people is that they are unlikely to attract fame, adoration or even stalking from fans.

But we live in changing times…the ‘anorak’ might just be about to have its day!

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Healthy looks and the hunt for the perfect partner

For my generation, as spotty, gawky, awkward adolescents eager to charm the unnatainable crush at school (Anne-Marie, for the record its taken 40+ years for me to get over you….) our parents, aunties, big sisters etc. always came out with helpful suggestions to try to counter our insecurities.

We would be told ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, or “looks don’t last”, or the old chestnut..”well its the inner beauty that counts”.

Actually all totally true, but all totally pointless to a lovestruck 13 year old….

Anyway, I recently wrote a blog titled Looking for love, eat more fruit about how striving for a healthy diet will help you find love. After a quick read (click on the link) it will be evident to you that I was referencing opportunities to meet people rather than the nutrition in itself!

Anyway, a reader however has kindly taken me to task on this and pointed out that some recent research has identified that people with rosier or yellower skin are subconsciously determined to be more attractive – it seems that these colours denote a diet high in fruit or protein and therefore meaning you are a healthier and more desireable mate!

So it seems eating more fruit IS the answer.

Looks like I should have listened to my parents and not shunned the apple for a packet of crisps!

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Your call is not important to us…..Abigail

Phone conversations are generally between two people, ok there are exceptions and conference calls can be joined by the many, generally willing participants. Having said that my dog used to be part of many a conference call when I work at home and I never remember him agreeing to participate !

Anyway the general principle being that the participants are intended.

It seems though that when on a train, it’s a different rule book.

I now know far more than I ever wanted to know about a certain persons love life. In fact really all I don’t know is that persons name. She looked like an Abigail so that’s what I am going to call her. Abigail was a fellow passenger on my journey from Yorkshire to London a night or so ago. It was actually a very quiet carriage and Abigail is not. I think also technology was fighting against Abigail and it appears Mark was on his balcony.

We don’t know who Mark is but we knew for sure he was not in a contact centre wearing a headset sorting out Abigails car insurance.

I am not sure if Mark was on a balcony in Verona, New York, London or perhaps just Stoke-on-Trent but in any case he has a problem with wind…meteorological not gastro-intestinal as far as I could gather and that was impacting on Abigail being heard…or so he says! So it was a loud conversation. It seems Mark has been a bit cool this last day or so (..and this is romance cool, not meteorology cool). Still following all this….good.

Anyway a lot of detail was shared on this and a lot more. Even the name of a UK celebrity came into the conversation as part of this menage-a-beaucoup….but in the interests of not being sued I won’t mention his name.

It’s about a 2 hour journey and sadly Abigail had a well charged phone and a lot to take Mark to task on. You never listen to me she said…well forgive me but I think he has been listening for close on 2 hours now, or abseiled off the balcony…not sure she would have noticed. Never have I been so relieved for the tunnels just outside London.

Anyway here we are a day later and hopefully they are together with Mark being warmer and Abigail being listened to.

And here I am on the train next to a group of marketing people on an ‘away day’ . So far my recorded score in buzzword bingo is 93..come back Mark and Abigail please…..

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Looking for love? …then eat more fruit

In the 1960’s and 1970’s in Britain there was a well used ‘to the point’ advertising strapline of eat more fruit adorning any self respecting greengrocers shop and delivery van. I imagine some civil servant back in the day from the Department of Health had hastily drafted a memo with this suggestion for the well being of the country and hey presto,job done. These days it would require the services of a top marketing company, some focus groups and a campaign project team on a few ‘away days’ to come up with the same…for a mere 1000 times the cost of the 1960′ version.

However put this thought (and strapline) just to the side for one moment……..

A friend of mine has just confided in me her despair with on line dating. Despite signing up with two well known services, she is not happy with the quality. She keeps being sent frogs but not princes. It seems that although it’s accepted you have to kiss a few frogs before you meet your prince, she is not impressed by the ratio of 23 to zero.

Working on the basis of ‘maybe it’s me’ that is wrong, she went on an eat well, look healthy, feel good regime and signed up to daily fruit & veg boxes from a local deli.

Well, it has worked, but not in the way you might think. The deli employs a selection of strapping young men to deliver and for my friend, she has never had so many princes ringing her door bell as of late. No quality issues there and the cost of the fruit and veg works out cheaper than the dating website.

And I can inform you at least one date has transpired…and not of the edible kind of a Moroccan palm tree!