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
Until a few weeks ago I was fairly regularly posting and optimistically hoping that whatever I wrote would get at least a couple of ticks from the reader for fulfilling their three I’s.
By that I mean: Insightful, Informative, Inspirational or perhaps as an alternative I, at least….. Interesting.
Life has got in the way for the last few weeks and my Late to the party blog has been more of, ‘just didn’t make it to the party at all that evening’.
I had assumed that without posting anything new, nobody would drop by, but actually that seems not to be the case and for whatever reason people keep finding this blog somewhere and are dropping in, sometimes with a friendly comment deposited in my virtual letterbox.
And for anybody concerned that I have lost my ‘writing for fun’ mojo, that is really just not the case, it’s really just a matter of a temporary interruption in service with much to follow in the future. We live in a world where despite the bad stuff (and no need to document that here) there is thankfully at least in my life, always things that amuse or entertain me and I want to share.
Even if it is just the First World problem of how I stop the Harry Houdini skilled squirrel that lives in our garden from stealing all the birds peanuts!
For anyone alarmed by this title …please don’t be. I may have considered many mid life career changes, but being an axe waving terror figure has never made it to the list.
My axe activities are solely directed towards chopping logs into kindling for my wood burning stove. I actually (no pun intended…) own three axes..one being a real hand-me-down from my parents home. It’s worryingly quite lethal and although it’s blade is not sharp, having probably last been sharpened in 1967 and chopped a lot of firewood since then, the axe head does have a tendency to detach mid-chop and fly off the handle (literally) at an unexpected trajectory. No amount of gloves and safety goggles has been proved to be sufficient PPE when using this lethal weapon, so it’s had to be retired.
The remaining two are both young entrants to the world of domestic tools…the first being one I purchased myself and it’s near twin, arriving only a few weeks later, a kindly but unexpected gift from my father in law when we had just moved into our current house and became proud owners of a wood burning stove.
This though was some years ago. When we bought our house it was the very opposite story to some of the horror tales one hears where the previous owners remove every last thing they can. Our predecessors were very generous and left large amounts of logs, chopped and bagged kindling and much more.
They did however leave us a few mysteries as well…a confusing lighting system, numerous electronic gadgets and control systems, but with a bit of detective work we have probably got to grips with most of these.
Anyway we have finally finished the bequeathed kindling and are now making our own.
I think I have found a new vocation…it’s cold, damp, still some snow on the ground but a few hours chopping logs into kindling has been surprisingly very gratifying. Who needs visits to stately homes, gift shops or tea and cake in tea rooms on a winter Sunday anymore?
Look out for next week’s blog where I make myself clothing from animal skins and build a cave house.
We seem to live in a world of measurement and accolades and we all are constantly asked by friends, families, surveys and even in job interviews to list our top three’s.
Top three skills, top three achievements are likely questions from a poor quality job interviewer struggling for questions to ask.
Tell me your three favourite places is a sure fire way for well travelled friends to trump your Scarborough , Skegness and Southend with their Malibou, Mauritius and Miami.
As a child, I remember ‘occasional visitor Auntie’ s and Uncle’s’ who would on various visits to our home would repeatedly ask me to list my top three subjects at school. Perhaps in the hope that one day one I would stun them and the assembled family with my answers and reel off English, Mathematics Religious studies rather than the usual respone of ‘er, dunno…let me think, woodwork ‘.
I also once had a slightly scary girlfriend who asked me to rank the top three meals that she cooked me. As her repertoire was actually extremely limited, and in reality really only consisted of about three dishes, thus was a challenging question.
It was a test of my diplomatic skills (that could probably have secured me a peace keeping role at the United Nations had I wanted it) , as really none of the said items were really likely to be on anybody’s list! Her cooking skills evidently had yet to peak at that tender age of 21. She did however have encyclopedic knowledge of the Bay City rollers…the 1970’s answer to Take That or Boyzone!
Much more recently in life in a random conversation with a stranger on a train, I was asked for my top 3 films. We were obviously generationally divided as my top 3 drew a blank from my fellow traveller and the look he gave me suggested that he thought I had just made up at least some of the names. Likewise when it was his turn, I tried to nod knowingly but I think my face said it all and I too drew a blank on his.
However as I have a wide demographic reading this blog, I will take the risk and share it here.
In reverse order…number 3 is Sleepless in Seattle , in second place Gregory’s Girl and in first place Sliding Doors. In some ways all very different films with their locations of trendy Seattle, 1980’s Glasgow and a Notting Hill ‘esqe’ London backdrop for Sliding Doors. But in some ways they are all similar films in their ‘feel good, people are kind, and life can be good to you’ kind of sentiment.
I know everyone wants to get different things from films…to be excited, to be scared, to be amazed, to be inspired and so on…..so from these three, probably not a tick in these boxes then….but to watch the final credits and feel positive about people, these truly are winners.
Just as I was a latecomer to the world of blogging, I really am late to the world of Instagram. If I was age 19 or even 29, I would be using Instagram as my means of social media connection with others, photographing every meal, and in short recording my life in images.
As is very evident, age 29 is a distant memory and my use of Instagram is only as a photograph album that I share with family and friends.
Ok, until I realised my privacy settings were, well not so private, I was also sharing my photographs with the world. Not a problem in its own right, but I did seem to encourage ‘connections’ offering me Russian brides (….If only they knew that I am not the route to a passport and a large bank account), Medical Enlargement Clinics offering surgery free treatment presumably to ‘improve my prospects’ with said Russian brides and of course Bitcoin Riches to ensure that myself and new wife Tatanya Yelga Anastasia can live in wealthy bliss back in Vladivostok.
In a way though, it’s more than a photograph album , but a means of me wearing my heart on my sleeve and declaring my love for clouds, sunsets and generally the countryside around us.
But I sense I am not alone…search on #sunsets, #clouds and so on and you will find I am in good company.
A bit like my blog, my Instagram account is there to be enjoyed by anyone who passes by and drops , but blissfully ignored by the remaining others…..or 99.99999999999999999% of the world’s population as I like to call them.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this. Feel free to comment, share and like.
For the opacarophiles (sunset lovers) just head straight to my Instagram page late.again
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?
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. 😁
Before rushing off to the Smugness Police to report me for an incidence of extreme arrogance, please be assured I am talking about mobile phones and not my personal attributes of being a genius and master of much knowledge!
As it happens, and it might be a British thing, generally people are always reluctant to blow their own personal trumpet about their intelligence, so actually no risk I am doing this at all.
Taking this to extremes there was a song in the 1980’s by US ‘not many hits wonder’, Dean Friedman, ‘Lucky Star’ where he proudly sings to his ‘in song’ girlfriend, ” You can thank your lucky stars that we’re not as smart as we think we are”.
Why on earth would he say this? This confused me back then every time I heard it and more so now! It seems to have confused other people too as it even gets a mention in his Wikipedia entry!
Meantime back to me and Smart phones……… Why do I mention them? Well one of my millenial children commented today that they too had been part of the generation migrating from ‘brick’ phones to ‘Smart phones’ despite many people often wrongly assuming that this generation was born holding an iPhone.
Its seems its a very regular barb thrown in their direction…’ you lot don’t know what life was like before all this technology’ etc. but actually they do😁
Why am I so glad to have a Smartphone ? I think it’s almost all to do with having the equivalent of an expensive SLR Nikon or Canon camera always in your hand or pocket…and always in auto mode. I can’t believe that back in the day when I regularly used real cameras I actually spent time adjusting shutter speeds or focal length to cope with light levels or movement.
Having a camera always with me in the days of real cameras (even pocket size digital ones, was a plan but never reality), but now I do have that ‘camera’ there and available to capture moments. For some of them, retrospectively I think….. why?
But the majority, are snapshots of life and allow one to reflect and enjoy.
Date and time stamping photos has also allowed us to compare years, seasons and in a way perhaps embrace and recognise the changing world around us even more.
Now that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate other features available on phones as well.
Google Maps directions has saved the day many a time for me…well that is once I have actually determined which direction the phone map is in compared to my direction of travel. Many a time I have been surprised when my 8 minutes walk destination seems to grow in remaining time rather than decrease!
Any features I don’t like?
Yes of course. My phone persistently asks me to review Dave’s Guitar tuition studio! I don’t go there. I have never even seen the place. I don’t own a guitar, but it seems I regularly walk past it, and Google is convinced I am taking lessons.
Thankfully I don’t seem to be regularly walking past anywhere of a less acceptable line of business…otherwise I might have some detailed explaining to do at home!
There used to be a TV advert on CNN International many years ago advertising Long Distance phone calling .
It showed a picture of a young American businessman with a beautiful nightime Parisian scene in the background calling his wife with the caption…here I am in the world’s most romantic city ………… and I am stuck here with a cost accountant from Cleveland , as the camera pans round to a suited and accountant type figure sharing his dinner table complete with spreadsheet and calculator.
And of course no disrespect to accountants or people from Cleveland, Ohio but I know how he feels.
I have had the good fortune to visit Paris many times for work and pleasure but each visit I always see just as a taster and I want more.
Earlier this week, work took me on a very quick Paris trip and this time like the CNN man I was accompanied by a colleague.
The difference was this colleague had lived and worked there and in fact after our work day was over, he was on a mission to revisit a shop he had frequented when a resident. To quote another famous advert (HSBC) you really can’t beat local knowledge. The mission for cheesecake took us to the most amazing shop in the 4th Arrondissement. These kind of places are gems and long may they last and survive against globalisation.
A further meander around this area was rewarding with typical Parisienne variety of sights – quirky graffiti,
some unusual street furniture
and even “pride friendly ” pedestrian crossings.
So today was Paris..but actually most cities have the streets just beyond “the top ten must see locations” and these are the places that in my view are the ones to find on visits 2, 3, 4 to a city that you think you now know!
Nature reminded me today that when it comes to skill, nature is streets ahead of everyone else!
As my garden is big, and work and other things have meant that evenings and weekends have been very occupied, I had to have a Plan B in force to keep things in order but still have time to enjoy my garden, rather than become a slave to it.
Essentially plan B is just for our allotment area, which we have next door to our garden which on previous years took many hours of upkeep ….and then have to sadly dispose of unwanted produce! You can only eat and find homes for so much lettuce…
So this year some of this area has had wildflower seeds intentionally sown . There has been no watering (other than by nature), no pest control – slugs, snails, caterpillars, squirrels and birds all welcome; and no staking or supporting of plants. A recipe for failure the gardeners would say…the actual result..for the first time in my life some successes with sunflowers.
Previous attempts have seen me act like an overprotective parent of a young child with protection against wet, cold, illness being thrust upon the plants only to find them fail miserably! And of course it’s not just sunflowers, many other insect friendly plants are thriving in this patch too.
I find now I am in good company with wild flower planting…many UK local authorities who are allowing parts of grass verges and parkland areas to develop naturally- everyone is a winner…it looks good, the insects have new habitats and the authorities save money on grass cutting etc.
So if you have a garden…you too should think about having a little bit going wild too.
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I am sure I am not alone in my frustration with seeing couples or sometimes entire families at tables in restaurants all deeply engrossed in their phones. To me it seems a real waste of time to share and engage with others.
Now don’t get me wrong…I am a big user of my phone with a blog to write (!), friends to be kept in contact with, places to find and a desire to know what is going on in the world. But I do choose my moments – train journeys, waiting in airports, coffee stops (if I am alone) all provide good opportunities to do the electronic conversations!
So true to my word, last week I was in a hotel walking down to breakfast and decided to use that moment to quickly respond to a What’s App message. Well as most women know, men and multi-tasking aren’t always found in the same place ….and that sure applies to me. Walking purposely into the hotel’s restaurant, a place I am familiar with having stayed several times before, I was a bit too purposeful and instead of making a sharp left as I entered as I should have, I just kept walking. Now this is quite a sizeable and modern restaurant with an open kitchen but behind counters which the customers can see, but are separated from the various chefs and kitchen staff as they prep the food and prepare customers special order breakfast items .
I suddenly found myself amongst chefs supervising pans of frying eggs, juicers squeezing fruit and everything else needed for the delivery of this hotels impressive buffet.
Bemused faces everywhere…bearing in mind my attire – suit, laptop bag and phone in my hand they may have thought this was a dawn raid from the International Scrambled Eggs Standards body or some other such authority!
This event took place in Muscat, and as anyone who has visited will know, the Omani people and their guest workers are polite, friendly and welcoming people….so no screams of get out of my kitchen…just smiles, good morning greetings and best wishes for good breakfast.
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!