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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Reflections…Week Seventeen


Today we, myself, my son and his Nan plus Spot, tried to get his easter present, an alternative to chocolate, into the air. The day has been dry and the wind gusty in the back yard, it held all the potential to get his 3D fish kite into the air, basically a winged box kite.

Where we go to fly his kites is a small park just a few streets away, ideal as his attention span can be quite short if things are not going the right way,  but credit to him, even if his patience is lacking, his perseverance is great.

We get to the park, let Spot off the lead as no other dogs were there, and get the kite ready to fly. I could see that if we can just get the kite up on one of the gusts to the tree top level the wind would be constant. The location is not ideal for kites but once they are up to that height they usually stay up.

Kite at the ready, the wind drops down. My brother says that whenever we go fishing, and the forecast is for wind, I should take my kites. This is due to the numerous times a kite has been taken for a walk, it gets walked to a spot for flying, it scares the wind away, it gets walked back. The same is true with leo.

It becomes clear after a few attempts that this kite is not going to lift, so out comes a backup, a really cheap duel lined parachute kite, he has a single line version and it is basically a carrier bag on string. With virtually no weight to lift this just needed a slight gust to soar away, we lost this as well.

Meanwhile Spot had noticed the lack of attention towards what she was doing, she stays as my shadow even off lead, and decided to go hippy dog. This year has been a great year for the dandelions, and dandelions are apparently the new doggy fashion. I came back with a yellow tie-dyed dog with bits of dandelion and daisy in her hair.

We had dinner and came up with a plan. We would take the kite in the car with us and see if there was anywhere it could be flown at Westport lake as a bonus to feeding the ducks.

There was not. But we had a good time feeding the birds and the ducks, we even got to see a couple of new arrivals.


The Planets


Finally there has been a break in the clouds without the star blocking haze as their replacement. I could not set up the telescopes outside due to the time of night so they were set up in the bedroom.

I was not expecting a photo of any sort as my equipment, for this shot, was a Bresser 70/700, a Celestron 15mm, a mobile phone holder and a Nokia Lumia 1020, my old phone, kept for the 42mp camera more than anything else.

I know that this equipment will never get to the wow stage for most, but for me building up a catalogue of shots will be my Eye Spy book of astronomy for big kids. Heck, I couldn’t even see Jupiter through the first telescope I got as a Christmas present when I was a nipper.

Astronomy is a funny thing… even though the stars have been seen by millions – before you, and they have been mapped out – before you, photographed – before you, the thrill of actually looking for and seeing the planet, galaxy or start clusters with your own eyes matches the thrill of the first people to see them. The explorer that beats within our souls has the opportunity to to do just that, Explore!

Even knowing where ‘it’ is does not help with finding ‘it’ as ‘it’ moves. When you get to a certain magnification that movement is fast.

So… Jupiter… found!

On a side note, I did not realise that Jupiter had four large moons so I am really chuffed I caught them. Total Newb .

What’s in a Name?

canstockphoto8630797One is not usually known for one’s pronunciation of names, nor remembering them. Practice and new techniques has however placed the name retention to about 70%, 68% higher than before.

What I have never had, until this Monday, is a reaction to my correctly mirroring someones name, well, apart from the whole – really?? – as I muck it up. Native names, if there is even such a thing, are equally problematic as foreign.  And putting names to faces has gotten harder dependant upon stress levels. People can start looking very similar to others, kinda like the faces of non important background characters in video games, the permutations of the composites are limited.

The gentleman in question told me his name and then quickly told me his ‘English’ name, and that he did not mind which one I used. I have noticed before that Asians give two names, one presumes that the first is their birth name and the second is there for us, I am going to enquire about it with a support worker just to have clarification.

But back to point…I repeated his Birth name the same way as he spoke it, and he looked almost shocked, “you have said my name correctly” was repeated several times; the emphasis on the “said

I already knew that remembering someone’s name had a big impact upon the feelings of the remembered.

Apparently the way it is pronounced is also equally important, if not more so.

Reflections…Week Sixteen

canstockphoto8630797Once again one has had the luxury of choice upon which to write about for this weeks reflections. This time one decided to do more than one. The hard part was deciding under which banner each blog would go.

The reflection for the week is… Telford Town Parks, Spring into the park 2017 with the Gruffallo. Together with my Son, Sister, Niece, Nephew and Nan (Mum), we headed off to the park for a nice day out.

The event was free (some cost on individual stalls) and the parking where we were was reasonable at £3.50, add a tenner on for the rather long route we took to get there and back, it still adds up to have been a cheap day out.

The weather at home when we started was not looking promising, Leo noticing that the cows on the journey where all lying down, Old wives tales tell of rain when the cows lie down, so we switched it- to they were all sunbathing. As it turned out that is what they could have been doing, one sits here glowing like a freshly cooked lobster. The irony that there is snow forecast next week forcing me to wrap up uncomfortably warm is not lost.

The park was busy, this normally would have been a problem, but with escape routes a plenty and the ability to step out of the crowd when needed, it was manageable. The headphones were only needed in the children play area, and not due to the children’s screeching, but rather a repetitive squeak on a see-saw that offset the children’s chaos with a rhythm, the conflict of both testing my minds ability to focus on reality. I got some strange looks, but Leo knows what the headphones are for, so no issues for us.

If you go to an event here expect ques on pretty much everything, especially the ‘real’ toilets, not so much on the portapotty’s. So if you want to take a tinkle – head up in advance. Word to the wise…there are multi levels, the shop, toilets and play areas are above the park event area. Doable with a wheelchair though.

We saw the Gruffallo, though it was less of a Gruffallo event than expected. We even saw the Gruffallo’s child running around at one point, a future Cosplayer in the making I think. A knight and dragon were wandering round the park, unrelated to the Gruffallo as far as one knows, but hats off for the chap in the dragon suit.

Dogs were a plenty  due to there being shows held and rosettes to be won. But the most unusual ‘pet’ to take out was the Owl, a stunning creature, who was a lot softer than one would have imagined.

We didn’t get to go around the woodland walk, nor the nature one, we will try them at a later date. Even without those we filled an afternoon+. Well worth going to an event here judging by the turnout, a lot seemed local.

One shall be going the kite festival next.



Reflections…Week Fifteen

dscf1094The last week has been an explosion of growth.

Not for me personally , but for the veg seeds I planted a fortnight ago. There is something about growing your own food that is just so rewarding, whether it be simply cress to add to a salad or the salad itself.

Tomatoes are a great example of eating with your sense of smell, you cannot buy the same sensation as eating a tomato just picked off the plant, the aroma of the plant itself adds to it. Strawberries are never as sweet as those that are ‘seconds’ picked, ripened in the sun instead of on a container whilst being shipped.

For my son it is a roaming buffet later in the year, white strawberries, red strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes and peas straight from the pod, and that is just in the pots around the garden. I dare not take him a pick your own, he’d come away covered in juices with his stomach proudly protruding at the quantity of fruit he had just ate.

What I have growing in my bedroom window is destined for the allotment, my baby sweetcorn starting to stand proud, the peas however seem shy with only a few reaching for the sun. I took a risk with last years berlotti beans and soaked them over night in a jar of water before planting…wow, what a difference it has made compared to the control beans. They have come up looking twice as strong and will have to be potted on sooner than later.

I love beans and peas, they are easy to grow and have a high yield per square inch and need little care apart from support. I would like to grow a runner bean plant to its maximum, just to see how far it would reach, as I usually struggle to keep them at seven foot. The right mix of sun and rain will get yields that far outdo what family and friends can consume/store in their freezers, bags of the excess food goes to the salvation army to help those that rely on them for meals.

If you have never grown your own food, give it a go. Their is something primal about eating your own grown food.

You would be surprised at what can get grown on just a windowsill.

The Notebook

canstockphoto8630797It felt strange carrying it around at first, then I made a change, which felt random, but now I feel much more comfortable about it.

It is not a notebook for shopping items, nor appointments, it was, at the start, a reflective diary, but now it’s mainly for ideas that seem to get lost from the moment I have them – to when I reach a place to write them down. Those brilliant, wonderful, exciting, fantastic ideas that would propell a story line or enchant a blog reader.

Alas those ideas have gone, the notebook had them running for the hills, running so not to be captured. They run well! But one is persistent

I saw things at the supermarket, perceptions of reality or glimpses of alternate states,when on my exposure therapy, sitting waiting for the others to finish shopping, I grabbed my notebook and put pen to paper, to capture the moment. Suddenly and without warning people looked my way, I could feel my face warming as the blood began to add scarlet blusher to my cheeks. More looked on, more blood pumped to the cheeks, like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar I sheepishly closed the notepad and placed it into my bag.  My shamefull glow took a long time to dissipate, even with eyes cast down to the ground.

A different supermarket, a different response, although the other chap sitting on the bench with me kept looking over at my spiders scrawl. One has different writing styles – dependant on the situation, from scrawl to calligraphy. When embarrassed…my writing could rival that of a Doctors scrawl.

There is no way he could read what was being written, but try he did, his attempts were not even that subtle. Almost as though giving up, he picked up his persciption bag, leaned onto his wooden stick and joined his wife as she trundled away from the checkout. I watched as my inquisitive stranger left the store before returning to my notepad once more.

With nobody paying attention an idea formed in my head of ‘could I?’

Could I?

  • Pick an idea from what I see to write a blog?
  • Pick any idea?
  • Any subject?
  • What about…

I picked that subject and started writing, I wrote a couple of pages, then on the next trip at the other supermarket I wrote some more, next trip was the same. At six pages I thought – there is enough here to easily write a blog, a long one at that, but is there enough to be the backbone for a short story? I haven’t written a short story since school, even then they were more the middle of a longer one; according to Miss Ross. I have had no desire to write a short story, so have no idea as to why that thought came to be. Is there a writing infection one can catch?

That is why I have left the ‘subject’ a mystery.  If the story does not work out at least I will have a blog post without announcing the story was a bust at my fingertips, only to see the idea materialise on someone else’s post.

The notebook now also contains an idea for a children’s book, Park notes and blog ideas.

I now miss it when it is not in my bag, my phone has ideas for blogposts on it, but it is not the same as pen on paper; and one loves ones tech,

Now when an idea pops in for a visit I have no care as to what it is I am doing, or where it is been done. Out comes the pad and pen to capture the moment for later apraisle.

One has found a way to practice mindfulness in places that cause most anxiety to such a point my surroundings become only the story one writes.

Reflections…Week Fourteen

canstockphoto8630797This week after over two years, I went public with my writing.

Strange when you view it as going public, with those whom you have a private relationship, rather than the strangers on WordPress, with whom you have shared ones journey since the start.

Pride, that would be the reason, if I am honest, as to why it has taken so long to announce it to the people I know. Not the ‘pride comes before a fall’ pride. But rather the pride that you know you have improved and the goals set by yourself to reach – have been reached. The ‘I have accomplished’ pride.

The kind when a picture of a sheep made with crape paper, macaroni and cotton wool is done by a child. The innocent kind of pride, it was done for nothing but the pleasure of the doing.

Well, It’s not that simple. That would be toooo easy a wall for me to climb, lets just keep adding another layer on top, just too make sure its remains daunting.

So the writing was the start, get more comfortable at doing it, get to the point I don’t feel embarrassed about it. I am still going to see if my English is up to grade and retake my exam if necessary. Then it was do my own website, I personally don’t like the way my blogs are filed on my profile, I wanted it ‘just my way’. So if I am going to the trouble of creating a website, should I not own my own domain name? Then it was, if I have my own website would it not be practical to have my artwork there as well? What good can I do with the site? Then, how is it going to get promoted? Make a Page on Facebook, link them all together…..

The blogging became overshadowed as the secret to let out.

Somewhere along the line was a change. A change so subtle I did not see it.

I stopped putting extra layers on the wall, and before I knew it I was sitting on top of it, looking around.

Sure I could polish this bit and that bit, but as it is a growing web site this will happen naturally over time.

It still amazes me when I look at where my blogs have been read around the world, that little old me, has touched the hearts of strangers, in far off lands.

But the last to know have been the ones within 20 miles of where I live.

I probably even managed to surprise the person to whom I owe the journeys start, Anika.

I just kinda announced it out of nowhere, in a kind of – big intro – way, to the unveiling of the website and my blogging.

I even made it colourful to stand out.

Thank you for your unknown inspiration.

Reflections…Week Thirteen

IMG_0167Positivity section bellow the intro.

This week has seen a bit of a flurry on the blogging side; even as I write this it somehow still feels surreal.

I have just seen my blog on another website, not on the WordPress site I had the invite from but a different website. I am not disappointed my work ended up there, more surprised it had over 30 likes in two days, so for me it is great exposure, it’s one of those sites Facebook sends me to on clickbait.

If you had asked me at the very tentative beginning of my blogging if I thought I would be asked to guest write on another site, I would have thought you strange at best. I honestly thought it would end up like all journalling to that point… Short lived. Especially as there was no enthusiastic charge unto the breach.

Now my ego has had a massage, a shoulder rub of sorts, the kind that says – “it’s worth it.”

I still don’t know in which direction writing is going to take me, but I do know I can connect, even a few at a time, through it. And if that message is one of positivity, a positivity that can have a change effect, even by accident, is it not then worth pursuing?

Here is such an attempt.

Try this out when you walk, it will surprise you how  effective it is, well it surprised me.

From now on, no matter how sh***y you feel, no matter what the weather,  no matter how tired you are or how alone you want to be, headphones on or off, big dog, little dog, Black dog. I know the feelings of wanting to be alone and the effort it will take to do this, I started at two, I also know that the excuses will come easily, if you let them.

Pick a time or place to do this that has the least negative emotional impact on you, doubly hard if just getting outside the door is a monumental task, such as a dog walk route you regularly take or the little diversion on your walk home from work, your weekly walk around the park even. You may have noticed I walk, Spot, my ever faithful Jack Russel, has kept me going outside, out of the door, for most days; but I need the open space to do this technique. Adapt it to suit your way.

For those of us that wear a mask, this will sound all too familiar and will almost be ‘second’ nature, but will have a different outcome than the usual dance.

Practice your smile because a good looking smile is key, even if it FAKE!

As I stated earlier I started with two for the first week, after this I challenged myself to Three. I am now on seven, yes I know it’s anal to keep count at this point but it’s what I do.

Smile to the chosen number of people each day, on a dog walk this should be relatively easy. Look them around the eyes and Smile, the best smile you can do, and say a greeting, whichever you feel comfortable with. You don’t have to stop and talk, heck you don’t even have to slow down. They don’t need to hear you, so headphones are not a barrier and they don’t have to make eye contact back, so no staring!

You will get some odd looks to start, this takes time to take effect, but eventually you will get a repeat pattern of people who see you smile. If you live in an over crowded area, pick out stall people, you don’t even have to shop, just make it easier on yourself to do this.

Here’s the science:-

When you smile within a certain group of people, other dog walkers for instance, you will get noticed because of it, especially when a pattern  starts to take place. The greeting is an added bonus. As people start to recognise you as the person who gives them a smile, they don’t know if it is real or not but its natural to believe it is, they will start to smile back. This way on your journey you have strangers that smile when they see you, take it on face value it is genuine, it will have a tendency for both of you to genuinely smile in time anyway, so why not start with that belief.

Now this is where it gets interesting. Your smile has a great probability of having the person smiled at, smiling to at least the next person they walk past. So if you have chosen three as the number to smile at, and each of them has the chance to smile at a minimum of one other, on your chosen route, that means six have been smiled at because of you!  If they smile at one it’s nine. You may even cheer someone up who needs a ‘friendly face’, even a strangers on a street.

Smiling is infectious apparently and we subconsciously like places that are ‘friendly’. The chain effect of people smiling at one another makes for that  friendly place, this in turn draws the same people back and they in turn catch the smiling bug. Without conscious thought those smiles turn to genuine ones.

Try something that seems to have been forgotten, something free, something that can improve your mental health as a by-product.


Be radical!