A very polite dog

A few weeks ago I was helping a younger  family member in a house move. As we all know, the more moves you do, the more stuff you accumulate each time.

I recall my early house moves where it literally all could be done with a few suitcases, some boxes and a hired taxi or minicab for one trip across town.

Then as time progressed this process morphed in to needing somebody with an estate car (that’s station wagon for my North American readers), then fast forward a few years and houses more  and then  it’s small vans, then larger vans and so on!



Anyway this move was at the large van stage…… plus some car loads.  So we did our first trip of about an estimated four more  for the day and soon discovered that parking  at the new house destination was best achieved by unloading at the adjacent leisure centre car park rather than squeezing in to a small parking space immediately outside the property.

So after a tiring day with  four trips done it was time for a quick meal break in the evening  with some  pizza before Ikea furniture re-building! We had soon discovered that Billy the bookcase was not keen on this concept of moving …anyway that’s a tale for another day.

Boxing day

So we just relaxed for this quick meal break and I used the opportunity to look at my phone and check for messages.

I was a little surprised that Google had become aware I was right next to a gym and wanted to know how I rated my visit!!

Thorough and efficient as ever,  she  asked me the same question, three  more times. Did I enjoy my visit and can I write a review? Dare I say it , a bit abrupt in its tone and approach with me…especially as this is just my phone in dialogue with me!

It reminded me though of the opposite situation…our dog in his letter years was becoming a regular visitor to the vet particularly in his latter years for various boosters, dental issues and so on. We had a very kindly, softly spoken a Scottish vet in our Yorkshire veterinary surgery thst we had attended (No, it wasn’t James Herriot, but it was that kind of place).

Tool kit ready

On lifting Geoffrey our dog onto the bench and sticking yet another needle in him and just getting compliance and tolerance from the dog…the vet was heard to comment ” you know, I am sure if Geoffrey could speak, he would be a very polite dog”. So Google….please do take note of how to behave and learn some manners!

Sleeping dog is a happy dog

Toasted Sandwich Naked

This isn’t my What Three Words location, although a good one to have as my actual one is not very memorable and certainly won’t spring to mind if I am shipwrecked, stuck up a mountain or just lost in Ikea’s one way customer flow.

Never a cross word

It is also not a crossword clue for a Danish Open sandwich. It was actually an unfortunate message I sent to one of my sons and his fiance. I was at the top of ladder at home clearing our attic and found various items of possible use to the next generation and decided the best way of determining if it stayed there or was destined for a new home was a quick What’s App to ask the question as and when I found items. The message ‘Do you want a toasted sandwich maker?’ becoming ‘Do you want a toasted sandwich naked’ unfortunately was a result of auto-correct and my haste!

I do actually have to confess to an earlier mishap with predictive text. Some years ago a more junior colleague was seeking my approval to attend a meeting in Latvia as I had already made it clear it had to be a low cost airline trip. When asked about what they could book for the journey, my text message of ‘you can only travel there by Air Baltic …unfortunately got corrected to…You can only travel there by…. air balloon caused some stress, calls to HR and the company’s insurance department!

Just a lot of hot air

Anyway, back on the home front…I think the wedding is still on but some doubt as to whether any thoughts of a father of the groom speech being a good idea …..

We are family…….

Anyone reading this hoping for a blog about the 1970’s band Sister Sledge who had a hit of that same title…be prepared to be dissapointed now when you read on, to see that the post is about genealogy.

And for those aged 40 or younger, do take note, and look them up…you will probably one day find you have a serious gap in your musical knowledge as questions about Sister Sledge and their profusion of similar sounding hits will often feature on ‘pop music’ quizzes and you will be none the wiser.

Time now to dig out your parents compilation cassettes..and find a device to play them on…..

Teenagers…just ask your parents

Anyway having recently had another birthday ending with a zero, it focussed my mind on not only where do I come from, but who were the people and what were there lives like? A recent gift to me of a DNA analysis test identified that I was 97.5% Irish…so no surprise there, but also 2.5% Akenazi….huge surprise there. But it’s not just the country or culture, I want to know more about the people.

My mother’s family tree is well documented and my origins are from mostly shop keepers but also an assortment of engineers, doctors and other professions.

In the scale of things, quite prosperous and financially comfortable people owning their own homes and businesses, employing people and in some cases having domestic staff!

On the contrsry, my father’s family had previously not been documented but now armed with some family tree software, some sketchy notes of 10 years ago collected from a now deceased relative, I have been tracing my paternal blood line.

Emigrants from Ireland to the UK but a very different story – many of my family including my paternal grand father and great grandfather lived and worked in Bermondsey, London as labourers in the docks. There are also a number of my female relatives working as chars (cleaners), washerwoman and domestic servants. So several generations of people working in tough and not well rewarded roles.

It was not until the last generation that life improved. My own father and one of his brothers were the first to go beyond this and study and train to go into professional roles.

As I unfold more detail it is very evident to me that life in my grandparents generation was really harsh and challenging…but considerably better than the Irish potato famine that they had fled that had killed over one million people literally wiping out half of the country.

So we are a family of two halves…different measures of good fortune…with one half being able to afford the domestic staff and the other providing it…but also united in a shared cultural history.

I have to admit to almost being obsessed now with this genealogical investigation and how uplifting it is in these strange times to understand and feel a connection with my descendants.

Seven Brides and Forty winks

It’s July 15th as I write this and it is Saint Swithuns day, unless of course you live in Norway where he gets his big moment of fame on July 2nd instead. No, before you ask, I don’t know why …….

A new start

Anyway St Swithum was Bishop of Winchester (England) in about 861 AD and had various claims to fame mostly on restoring churches but somewhat bizarrely he is also reputed to have restored a basket of eggs back to their original form that had been broken when sat on by the builders on one of his restoration projects ! Omelettes evidently were not a big thing back then.

As sure as eggs is eggs

These historical events are however somewhat overshadowed for his posthumous miracle making. It is said that if it rains on Swithuns bridge in Winchester on July 15th , then it will rain for 40 days.

I don’t think there is any time limit on this so don’t plan a house move to Winchester if you want guaranteed summer barbecues every August.

Good old BBC weather!

Fortunately, looking at the weather forecast things at least for this year look ok at the moment.

The number Seven is often seen in mythology, story telling and so on as a number of plenty – Seven brides for Seven brothers…indeed that number of weddings throws any father into panic at the cost and mayhem; Seven Deadly Sins – hmmm, perhaps not lets go there; Seven Dwarfs stretches many a pub quiz contestant to name them all, Seven Wonders of the World seems to be an ever changing league table and just when you think you have seen most of them they change and so the task of ticking them off becomes almost unattainable.

It seems too that forty is also number of choice – Forty Winks is deemed a reasonable length of time for a sleep and good old Swithum has opted for forty as a reasonable number for days of rain. Well, thanks Saint S, I am all for replenishing reservoirs but that is just too much!

I really do have a vested interest in it not raining for 40 days. Tomorrow is my birthday (not my fortieth sadly…that ship has already sailed) and I plan for the next few days to have some time off work (that won’t be forty days either) and enjoy walking in the hills , spending time with extended family, drinking wine in the garden and generally having fun…most, but not all of these activities are greatly assisted by a little sunshine!

Happy 15th July to you all (Norwegian’ s respectfully excluded)

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!

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!

Enjoying the blog? I hope so.

Please comment, like and share .

Who are Helen and Steven?

It’s Twelfth night today and as tradition dictates, time to take down the Christmas decorations.

We had numerous Christmas cards and as we were gathering them for recycling we noticed one from Helen and Steven. A nice seasonal card, with snow, robins and a picture perfect cottage in the woods with roaring log fire. One problem…nobody in our household knows a Helen & Steven.

Even visiting offspring and accompanying partners denied all knowledge of said pair. So we remain perplexed. Who are these people and how did a card from them arrive at our house (and get a place on the fireside)?

So now we have an extreme feeling a of guilt…there will be family somewhere saying…”wonder what’s happened to Helen and Steven? We have had a card from them every year since 1983 but nothing this year ..we must have upset them somehow, so if thats how they feel, wish we hadn’t sent them one, certainly won’t send them one in future.”

So in one fell swoop we have upset the intended recipient of Helen and Steven card….and also the mysterious Helen and Steven!

Happy Twelfth night everyone!