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……………..

 

Just add salt…

The town of Saltaire just north of Bradford in Yorkshire was founded by philanthropist and mill owner Titus Salt.

Salt had mills in the city of Bradford but decided to build a large new textile mill, known as Salts Mill and create an entire model village on the banks of the River Aire, near Shipley.

This allowed him to provide much improved accommodation for his workers away from the slums of the city.

The name Saltaire derived from his name and the name of the local river, the River Aire.

Salt created a village of stone houses for his workers with running water, bath houses and even a hospital and an institute for recreation and education.

The village also had a school for the workers children, allotments for the families to grow fresh vegetables, almshouses and a park.

In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

So what now…rather than just be a preserved relic of past Victorian ideals, Salts has a vibrant new life.

The mill is home to art by way of permanent exhibitions of Yorkshire artist David Hockney’s work, a truly amazing book shop and some other specialised retailers.

This is no ordinary bookshop..on the ground floor of the mill it has a cathedral like feel, grandeur and ambience.

On the higher floor, a more esoteric style where presentation and space is the emphasis.

Every window provides a backdrop of Salts vision..rather than a shopping mall, retail park or mundane high street.

I can’t think of many bookshops adorned with fresh lillies!

Everywhere in the building there is evidence of both Hockney and the original purpose of the building and this just adds to the magic of the place.

Salts mill draws the crowds for its history, the books, the art and even the restaurant and tea shop.

I visit regularly – its a great place on a winter sunday, a rainy summers day or whenever the mood draws you.

If you are visiting West Yorkshire it’s a “must do” visit. A great example of getting preservation just right.

Salts is very alive with many one off events and opportunities to embrace books, music and art in a wonderful setting…oh and yes it’s completely free other than special events.

Sure you have to buy books if you want to take them home..but otherwise it’s there to enjoy!

Why this blog? Click to find out more about me and why I write the blogs

Shorts story

A week or so ago it was Dog Awareness week in the UK. Somewhat ironically you may not have been aware of that fact unless you live in the UK and received mail that week that actually had postage stamps that had needed franking. Were you to have received such mail you would have seen the declaration of ‘Dog Awareness week’ proudly stamped on your envelope.

So what is it all about? Obviously its more than just ‘be aware there are such things as dogs’ Most of us have got the hang of that. Dog Awareness week is promoted by the UK’s Royal Mail to remind householders particularly during school summer holidays and better weather (not that these always coincide!) to be cognisant of the danger of loose dogs in gardens or yards. Seemingly innocuous behaviour in the eyes of the householder with a secure and dog safe area. Well yes, until a visitor calls by. Every year countless postman and postwoman receive injuries from dogs defending their properties. As is so often the case…it’s not the dog at fault but just a thoughtless owner .

And an added risk…..UK postman have a shorts wearing season that can extend from January to December so usually the dogs success rate for being on target of teeth meeting leg is very high.

Longer trousers may have to make a comeback……

So actually it’s not the dogs at fault or the postman’s attire but the owners of the dogs. Regrettably ‘Thoughtless Pet Owners Week’ is too big a slogan to fit on most envelopes.

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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 ?