A house, a car, a holiday and a very large bar of chocolate

Ask many people and it appears that quite surprisingly, well surprisingly to me anyway, is they have a ready prepared list of what they would buy if they had a substantial lottery or premium bond win.

For readers outside of the UK, I probably need to explain Premium bonds. Quite simply it’s state sponsored gambling where you might be a winner (and that’s a very, big extremely unlikely kind of might) or you will at least not be a loser. Why? You always get your money back when you exit. Even years later. Great Auntie Flo would buy you a one pound (and that’s money, not weight) Premium bond for your Christening and each month it goes in a draw for prizes ranging from 1 million pounds down to 50 pounds. Thirty years later, having not won a million pounds , or even more than 50 pounds very occasionally , you can then “cash in your chips” and get your original pound back. What’s not to like about that?

Unlike poker, you always keep your ‘stake’ with premium bonds

Anyway, people have these lists and often they start with something practical and fiscally prudent such as a house, then an item that is somewhat frivolous and is often a totally impractical car.

And then final item is usually disproportionately small, such as a bar of Cadburys Milk Chocolate or a multi pack of Tunnocks caramel wafers but hey, why not!!

I don’t have such a list, but if I did, my number one item would be a Beach Hut. It sort of gets itself in all three categories of being sort of practical, a bit frivolous and also rather small.

Beach huts are not completely unique to the UK, but they are a very British institution and often found in the more genteel seaside resorts of Aldeburgh, Southwold and Frinton-on-Sea. Beach Huts are in some ways very impractical.

You can’t sleep in them, they have no electricity, no toilet or washing facilities are very hard to insure and stand a high chance of being wasted out to sea, and turned into matchwood to be washed up at Blankenberg, Belgium one stormy January day. Oh , and did I mention they are hard to buy with long waiting lists and are very expensive, a bit like any true love!

And then having finally bought one, you then need a clever name for it. Sea view or Ocean gaze just don’t meet the standard. Creativity with names such as the Dog House, Cat Nap or Vitamin Sea is how you get yourself noticed!

I haven’t quite thought of a name yet for mine , but Late Again does appeal for obvious reasons. ๐Ÿ˜

The best of people

I am not the world’s biggest Instagramer (if that is the correct collective term?) and have probably only 50 or so followers and likewise I follow only 50 or so people. However the more I grow to use it, the more I have concluded that generally you either get polite and positive feedback of what you publish, if it pleases the eye or entertains…and if it is the converse, then you are just politely ignored. At least that is my experience or maybe I have just been lucky?

I understand more now why Instagram has so much more appeal now compared to other social media such as Facebook, Twitter and even Linked In . These sites will produce frenzied reaction if what is presented goes against the view of the reader.

I like sunsets, I would like sunrises too if they could be more aligned with when I have woken up!

Admittedly my Instagram publications are not controversial. Mostly photos of my local area when I am walking, overseas locations when I am traveling for work and animals at any opportunity! The occasional funny message or sign also gets in from time to time.

One thing to point out though…..I am no longer a teenager…that ship sailed decades ago. Had Instagram been around then, perhaps boredom, frustration or incredulity at the numerous photos I would have presented back then as a 14 year old train spotter would have provoked a response from even the most mild mannered reader.

On reflection I really do now ask myself why I spent so many hours, duly adorned in an anorak writing down train numbers. Thankfully it was a short lived hobby and at age 15 I turned my attention to girls.

Again let’s be thankful Instagram didn’t exist then too. My ‘beaus’ of those days may not have been happy for their 1970’s fashion and hairstyles to be preserved forever in the public eye!

To preserve anonymity..just a photo of their jeans

So back to today. Instagram let’s us share our world in images. A picture speaks a 1000 words. Let’s keep them as nice ones.

Geoffrey..the nicest dog in the world

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…..

New tricks for old dog….

You cannot teach an old dog new tricks is a well used idiom in the English language.

I am not sure if it exists in other languages but it probably translates quite well as compared with more confusing expressions such as ‘this is the exception that proves the rule’ , or even more confusingly ‘pardon my French’ uttered when people are indeed not speaking French, but speaking English, but with words you wouldn’t want your mother to hear!

The etymological origins of this are quite interesting in that way, way back some French was used in England and occasionally in error people would intersperse English with some random French phrases and then realise their error and apologise for it.

It is true that it takes longer for an old dog to learn new things, but it is not impossible, and the same for us humans. At one time there was almost an acceptance of once beyond a certain age, you really don’t do new things or make changes other than really radical things such as changing the day you go to Aldi from a Monday to a Tuesday!

If you think I am joking, I am aware of elderly couple who recently took this dramatic move and it was such a big thing they felt it merited being broadcast to all interested parties via a Whats App group message and then the services of a family member who happens to be trained counselor to assist them through their trauma!

But it seems we are as a nation and a generation getting better at doing new stuff.

Running clubs have new members joining in there 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in part helped by the popularity of Parkrun – if you are not familiar with the concept of Parkrun….Google it.

TV cookery programmes such as Masterchef and Bake off have inspired countless thousand to be more adventurous in (or even just find…) the kitchen.

And then there are the thousands or indeed tens of thousands of people writing – whether they are novelists or just simple bloggers…more than ever thoughts and ideas are being translated into the written word.

The opportunities to do new things are endless…ok, some of them are very expensive and costs and time exclude these for many people.

For me I would love to learn to fly and really hope that one day circumstance will allow this but that certainly is on the ‘one day, but not now list’, but meantime for all of us the chances to learn and enjoy unmeasurable new things are boundless and very accessible.

So, Carpe diem !

….and one day you will remember this blog as your starting point for learning Latin !

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A few of my favourite things…?

A subjective question and of course answered in song by Maria in the classic movie, The Sound of Music.

There was no Google back then to answer this question (assuming she had been asked such a question, or had just decided to tell people her favourite things anyway!)

If there had been such electronic guidance, the answers might have been more noble or momentous… like the wheel, the internal combustion engine, the internet, penicillin rather than Brown paper parcels tied up with string etc.

Meanwhile back in the more materialistic non Von Trapp family world………….

for me white chocolate magnums have to be right up there at the top of the list, beating anything with marzipan by a mere whisker and pushing smart phone taxi apps which have been a game changer for me, just into 3rd place.

Yes, I know a big focus on food here but the said ice creams are totally a perfect blend of two loves in my life…vanilla ice cream and white chocolate (with all due respect to my human and doggie loves) and marzipan has always played a big part in my life (ditto with due respect to my wife, children, friends and dogs).

And what even took me down this alley of thoughts? On the subject of dogs, it seems that they too can now enter this world of ice cream admiration!

So why taxi apps such as Uber or Lyft…?

I travel a lot internationally in my job and have had my fair few moments of challenging taxi journeys (especially one lost taxi in Athens…yes it really was, click to read the story!) so anything to ease that is good!

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I’ll send you a postcard…

At one time sending a postcard was an integral part of the holiday routine.

Smart phones and instant messaging have played a big part in the demise of this activity. Nowadays entire holidays are captured on Instagram and Facebook with intermittent updates also available by text, e-mail or Instant messaging .

It was therefore quite a surprise earlier in the week to have an actual postcard drop through the letterbox. It seems postcards are now specialised enough to be designed for a target audience………….In our house however we don’t do things ‘half measure’ and actually as well as having our in laws dogs whilst they travelled, we took a third dog into our care for some of that time as well. Dogs of this size come rain or shine need and enjoy a lot of exercise.…and yes, for those of you reading this who live in this part of the uk (Yorkshire) will be very aware that some of the last few days have been somewhat wet! Don’t be fooled by these photos I took a week or so back at the start of their visit……Anyway back to the subject of postcards.I am hoping the next one I get reads….’Thanks for looking after the Porshe Cayenne “……I live in hope!

Carpe Diem

To the non Latin speaker, this is probably a fancy fish restaurant in a trendy part of town, but to those who have learnt a few such useful phrases of this ancient language, it of course means seize the day. To regular readers of my blog, I am a big exponent of grab it while you can…for anything in life ….as we never know what’s around the corner in terms of health, opportunity or just ‘stuff’ that can throw a wobble into life.

What is ‘it’?…’it’ is doing things that enriches your life and hopefully others as well….and that doesn’t always involve spending money. Unless you live in a hermits cabin, generally there are things out there in the world that are waiting for you! Be that volunteering, walking around in your countryside or city, trying new foods, feeding the ducks,or just engaging with different people.

I do realise I am very fortunate in that I have a job that takes me to different places (..and not many people have that opportunity) This week work took me to the UAE and it gave me the opportunity to catch up with a friend and former colleague recently relocated and living there. Now if I had to nominate a role model for my philosophy of life….. it is her! She is already one of the most well travelled people I know, and in this new geographic position she can weekend in India, take a short trip to Nepal or even get to the Far East…which becomes not so far east anymore! From updates I have already had when she first moved it seems she really is grabbing every opportunity not just to travel, but to explore the new city she lives in, make new friends and that’s four legged as well as two legged as she has found a dogs home that wants volunteer walkers! So already now she has just about every weekend and holidays allocated to something new. Anyway we managed to find time to meet up between work and her travels. So research was done to find somewhere new to go. Where did we find ourselves? …on Happiness Street…which I think says it all!

Unicorn in a big park……..my kind of art!

Sculpture was never top on my list of things to be excited about on childhood visits to museums and art galleries.

An 18th bronze reproduction of some meaningless person did nothing to excite me or generate a love of this art form.

Well fast forward 40 or more years and it’s a different story. In keeping with the tradition of ‘if you have something good on your doorstep don’t bother visiting it as it will still be there next week ‘, I had still not got around to visting the Yorkshire sculpture park despite it having been in existence for all the time I have lived in ‘God’s own county’.

A recent visit opened my eyes to this place and made me wonder, why never before?

It is 500 acres of magnificent parkland in pleasant rural West Yorkshire. Sheep are grazed on the land and they seem to successfuly co-exist with thousands of daily visitors and quite a few dogs (on leads).

The sculpture and array of other exhibits is amazing and often on a grand scale..at the moment there is a Damien Hurst exhibition on with some truly giant and slightly haunting exhibits.

Some of the images are a little haunting…this image below of the child with polio was a familiar sight in the UK in the 60′ and 70’s. A best intentioned way of trying to raise awareness and collect funds, but even so…maybe not the best approach.

You will find it hard to see everything in one visit. We combined walking in the parkland, enjoying refreshments on the outdoor terrace, and photographing this array of images ..although really you have to be there…!

It’s a definite one to return to repeatedly to see the changing exhibits and I look forward to experiencing it in different seasons. Might substitute the cold drinks with hot chocolate on our forthcoming planned winter visit!

Oh and by the way, it is completely free to visit, just a car park charge.

Forty today!

I started writing my blog just for fun a few weeks ago. And was somewhat intrigued this morning to see I have just had my fortyieth follower today…..not the dog in the photo (I only count the human ones๐Ÿ˜)

For the serious bloggers out there (and I have the greatest respect for you) having achieved forty followers might be more pitied than celebrated! But for me, who thought nobody might read my words it’s a very pleasant surprise .

Anyway to the forty of you, I hope in some tiny way, I enrich your lives 3 days a week.

To numbers 41, 42 etc. looking forward to you joining in too.

Please do comment , share and like if you enjoy it. If it’s not for you I understand…as the saying goes ‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved before’

With my best wishes to you all…….

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Time for an embrace…take #2

We had dogs visiting and I had time for an early morning walk prior to setting off on a work trip.

Our local reservoir is a mirror of the season and looking in the mirror what I saw was waves on the water whipped up by the stiff breeze, a hint of brown on some of the leaves and a little chill in the air.

Now it’s only August, but here in the UK as we encounter global warming we see a shift with warm weather spells from as early as April or May so in some way it’s no surprise in August to get a hint of the autumn that is waiting for us when we turn the calendar page at the end of the month.

My natural response to this is to bemoan the end of summer but on this walk accompanied by my daughter I was reminded to embrace the seasons for what they are….so true, and indeed we in the UK are fortunate to live in the land of distinct seasons…even though occasionally we experience all four in one day!

Enjoy each day for what it is.

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