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Reflections…Week Thirty One

It’s been a whirlwind week! Dad is in hospital, again, my Son has his leg in a cast to try and stretch his… I want to say muscles but that does not sound right, my Niece has had hospital trips which meant the ‘Monster” has been visiting more and to top it off my Sister had vertigo from a wasp sting.

Out of all of them this was the one that was the most of an unusual day. A phone call for help, the doctors appointment was at the same time as the ‘monster’ finishing nursery, in 45 minutes, and I had to get there. The trip usually takes 45 minutes, so no pressure.

I got there and my niece luckily had a carer there, so she was sorted, my sister was there – kind of and I did a car swap. I swiped my small car, a panda, for a wheelchair adapted van, the big ones. Have I mentioned this was my first time driving it?

Luckily I have driven a van before, albeit a long time before, but boy did it feel big after just getting out of mine. First we head on over the the nursery to get the ‘monster’, engine started, handbrake of…where is the handbrake? If my sister hadn’t been in the van I would have ended up still sitting there now, its on the righthand side of the seat – that far down I nearly got my arm stuck.

That sorted off we go…over the first speed bump…Wobble to the left, thud, wobble to the right, wobble to the left, thud wobble to the right, thought my sister was going to upchuck on the first “hurdle”. Get to the end of the lane and I cannot feel the bite of the breaks, nothing, nothing…emergency stop! Lets all lurch forward. Still my sister kept down what was desperately trying to come up, just! The rest of the journey was approached, as it was on quiet lanes, with trepidation.

‘Monster’ picked up, slightly confused with me being in the drivers seat, and it is off to the doctors 10 minutes late. This is where I am told I will have to put my foot down when on the main road to get there as it is already after the appointment. Luckily the appointment was made by the ambulance crew who originally saw her so the doctor knew of the situation with me having to get there.

I have just noticed I have used the term luckily more than once, my sister would have at this point not classed this as being a lucky day.

We get there, slowly, but not my fault, by which time ‘monster’ is asleep, so I am allowed to eat my lunch uninterrupted by a tiny hand trying to use the force to snatch it from me. We got there late, therefore we left late, now I have 40 minutes to get my sister back home, swap cars and get back home for my sons 3 hour visit, my Mum is there to great him should I be late. Back to my Sisters and I now have 30 minutes, but my sister looks like crap, so I am transporting all of them back to Mums.

My Sister was part way through doing a blend for my Niece, liquidised food to go through her peg, basically a tube to her stomach from her belly, that needs to be done before we can leave. My Nieces carer leaves and I get the van ramp down ready, ‘monster’ is still asleep, bonus! Time to see if I can remember how my Niece is strapped down in her chair and how the chair is strapped down in the van. My niece at this point decided that she would make my life more awkward and play up, not the create holly hell play up, more the wouldn’t it be funny if I made this more a game of non cooperation.

“Are you managing in there?” came the call from the kitchen, “There is a lot of giggling”, “Done it!” with more enthusiasm than was warranted by the situation, was my reply. Off to the Van, Wheelchair in and fastened down, Sister in and Wheelchair fasted down correctly, I was so close. 20 Minutes to get there, no hope, and to top it off he arrives early.

Apparently my driving is both horrendously rollercoaster and hilariously funny, depending on whether you listened to my Sisters groans or my Nieces giggling, at one point we thought she would make herself sick. Actually that could be said for both.

As for ‘monster’, he slept through it all.

We arrived 25 minutes late and with my Sisters stomach contents surprisingly still in her stomach. My son was eagerly awaiting our arrival to show off his cast and give me a clunky cuddle. And we all trundled in.

My niece found the return drive equally funny, once we dropped her Nan off at the hospital and not her. My Sister by this time had started to feel better and the return journey was more pleasant.

Well not so much pleasant, more…less uncomfortable.

Reflections…Week Twenty One

canstockphoto8630797Burnt noggin day down by the canal.

It was the Etruria canal festival this weekend and as we had a good time last year we went again today. The weather started as a usual child typical Saturday, overcast and looking like rain later, but the sun came out just after we had lunch, and promptly cooked us. I usually wear a hat when out but forgot today for some unknown reason, and the sun cream was left on the side. Well prepared we were not.

I took the camera with me but I knew from last year it would really get used tomorrow on the return trip with Spot, specifically to take the photos; and hopefully some usable video. As usual my notebook will be travelling with me for blog inspirations as they happen, and a shirt, and a big hat, maybe some suncream to scare it away, the sun that is, it works in the back garden at home. I am hoping to get some ideas or at least notes for the poetry class here as well.

The creative writing/poetry class was a bust this week, even the lady who runs it failed to show. I did not write a poem,  however  a shopping list of words connected to my theme has been created, I will continue to work on the construction of a poem from this list as I go on. But not wanting to show up ’empty handed’, as it were, a poem by Wilfred Owen was printed off and take along.

The theme for this week was – a loss of a person, the poem was told to me, and my class, at school by a substitute teacher we had for two weeks. He also told us how clever Hitler was on his use of language and its manipulation of it in his speeches, a theme that seems to be reoccurring these days too.

This is a moving poem, that still has a pattern of rhyming my brain can follow, so here it is – one for every 14 year old…

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

You see in a way this has been locked into my long term memory,  a poem that follows a format I can follow, it is about horrific subject matter, but still it follows a known format of rhyming the end words.

The  skill of wordsmithing he possessed is awe-inspiring, and although I forgot the poem itself, I never forgot the subject matter and the search for it online was easy. The words may have become distant, but the power of the words have remained with me till this day.

One day I will write a poem or a written piece that will have a lasting effect such as this one, yes the bar is set high; but nobody has said one cannot use a pair of ladders to get over it.


Reflections…Week Nineteen

canstockphoto8630797As usual my brothers birthday is fast approaching and until today I have had no idea of what to get him, to be honest it usually applies to all birthdays, or I have an idea but the cost is too high. If it works it will be a hit I am sure, if not he will have the cop-out cash in card.

I have been sitting on a colouring in picture for Leo, my son, for over a week now and it was in showing it to him this afternoon the idea came to me. The picture is on glossy paper and I needed to take a photo of it to print it out onto normal paper for him, if he wanted to do it.

The picture – two carp in simple Chinese style.

It was being pushed as a kiddies colour in picture but I recon it would easily pass as an adult one. A bit of jiggling around and drawing the fish myself, the 914 x 356mm (or 36 x 14inch) canvas I have in the wardrobe would be the perfect size to be able to set the fish off and not crowd the detail of the scales. As I sit writing this the fish has been 2/3rds completed. I am chuffed too bits that the drawing has gone so smoothly, I have tried to do fish before but they always look terrible, even the outline looks oddly shaped normally, but this one looks good.

This weeks reflection is early and it is short, but I need to get back to this drawing now the little fella has gone to bed, and before my meds kick in and skew anything I draw away from what it is I am trying to do.

As it is a new project, it will be broken down as photos for each stage and placed onto my website at a date post birthday.

Reflections…Week Eighteen

canstockphoto8630797I once had to dump my motorbike and jump into the side of an Artic Lorry Cab, leaving a dent in the cab door and wrapping my tobacco tin around my thigh where it hit the cab wheel. I was bruised and I ached the next day but I went back to my very manual job. Just another day, just another bruise. It was a walk away, though for the motorbike it was the end, that went under the wheel – and then under it a second time as he reversed back over it to see what he had hit.

I’m older now, not so able to just shake off the knocks, but I manage. What I find difficult is the days I wake up with every muscle aching for no reason, my head swimming like it is the morning after the night before, including the hissss – sunlight – shut the curtains and block it out, and the brain fog.  Yesterday was bad, I hardly moved out of my darkened room, my head in limbo from one thought to the next, even prompting by spot didn’t get me out of the house.  It took most of today to work up the momentum to do it, sometimes going outside is like walking against a strong wind, but only you feel it, and until you do, you don’t really understand how difficult it is.

Spot has been a godsend in my recovery, she knows when I am dipping, she plays the fool more elaborately to cheer me up, in her mind it works because I take steps to divert it when I can, she is my early warning system when I don’t wake with it in place. She will prompt me for going out, to the point of anoyance, and a simple day out for a walk with her is something to aim for .

And she gives good cuddles without asking.

But even with Spot in place the constant pain is starting to wear me down, I have support in place, but I just want to know what is happening and why my feet feel like someone is trying to rip them apart. These are the worst parts and at the same time these are the ‘worst’ parts.

They hurt the most and they hinder the most, I cannot remember a time without some sort of pain in them now. I hate being given ‘advice’, the meaning well’ness is there, but if it aggravates whatever it is, I suffer the next day maybe two. An exercise for one complaint can be torture for another. That is why I am waiting for an answer from the doctors before I start anything new, heck even they have offered no exercises to do that I am not already doing.

Its been two and a half years now and though I have a few “it’s not” statements the path has run its course and i am being signed off, so I have to start right back at the beginning because I was sent the wrong way. Not that I was expecting much from Neuro, they admitted that my stammer/stutter and twitch, which appeared out of the blue five years ago, was neurological but they did not know why, off I was sent to ‘receive help’ to accept this new feature, job done. But never have I been treated like I was dog  dirt on a shoe for being there, on another doctors referral, and wasting his time before.

All I want is an answer to the question….”Whats up doc?”


Telford Kite Festival 07/05/17

DSCF1814With taking my own kites I half expected the wind to be insufficient, mine are after all known as the wind scarers. For the most part the wind was, for the larger kites, not quite consistently strong enough to stay up beyond short periods of time, although the wind was more favourable to the medium and smaller kites much to the delight of the children.

What I found best about the festival, this is the second I have been to – the first was showers on and off and no wind, was the range of styles and designs of kites on show either in the air or in the pursuit of being. I think at one point nearly all types of commercial kite were on show.

With the absence of winds strong enough to lift the large kites and maintain their altitude, line laundry was scarce, strangely absent was the ground kites, not even showing outside the sales tent bumping the ground.

Overall I would say the festival is aimed primarily at children, the small ones, rather than us larger ones and judging by the smiles on the faces of the little ones – it is a success. Not the kind of kite festival I was expecting, but for a day out with the kids, where they can even create their own kite to fly along the bought ones, I would say it would be bang on.

As for me personally and my kites, I did not fly, for me and my limited air time and therefore lack of confidence in busy areas, I felt that there was too little room to plummet from the sky safely, I saw similar sized ones go down quite regularly.

What the ducks made of the whole event as they flew over the park to the pool, I have no idea.

video of the day

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.


Reflections…Week Eleven


This turned out to be a bit of a long one.

“I dream of what kind of house I would live in if money was not an issue.”
This was a statement in a session by another group member this week, it acted as a kind of safe space for them. To be fair I can relate to a certain degree, but the only difference is I think about the home I want to live in, with my money issues sorted, and the house bought and paid for. I don’t intend to stay as is, this is not me, rather the toddler me, this has to get better.

So, my version of the future home took in the realistic price tag, both initial cost and running cost. I knew that certain ‘luxuries’ would be out of the window, so to speak, but in the aspect of having my own home, my own space, the loss of them was insignificant.

My initial thoughts were along the path of a 50-55ft narrowboat. I did look at a 45ft one, this is usually the size where there is a permanent bedroom rather than making a bed each night, and disassembling each morning, but I wanted space to do my art work, a studio area. I looked at the costs, including mooring in a marina, the most basic, and it worked out about the same as renting a flat, the council tax was the same, but the running costs were much, much lower than even just an average electricity bill, for the entire lot (Gas, wood, coal, diesel). But I would own my home. Unfortunately the people who run the canals don’t want any live aboard narrowboats on the water it seems, so out of the equation this went.

I have no intention of finding another partner, I now wonder how much desire to live independently from our parents drives us to find a partner to afford the cost of a house, cynical, maybe, but is that not what we are told we should do? How many relationships have lasted longer than they should have once a house is in the equation? Realistically a low income worker will have to be in a partnership to afford the costs of buying even the cheapest house now and renting can be even more expensive. With no intention of partnering up this time, owning a house is out of the equation.

I could live in a 50ft static caravan, with a few alterations for all year round living, but that is generally frowned upon by councils, so also out of the equation.

Some log cabins are now homes, but at a cost, a premium cost, once again out of the equation.

Options are running low, I did not want to live in a flat, even if you own the flat you generally don’t own either what is above or bellow it, so problems could arise from other peoples maintenance, or lack thereof, its just not the route I want to take.

It was at this point that I came across the Tiny House Movement, some I would call micro house rather than tiny and some were sheds on wheels. The ones on wheels were not of interest but those that were built as a regular house alternative, i.e ‘fixed’ that was an option I liked. 30ft x 15ft with an upper bedroom, I could easily cope with that.

Then I came across these really ugly houses made of tyres and dirt, for the most part, and other ‘recycled parts’. But the principles of the tiny house were here, just more extreme. Oh and more science than you would think for old tyres, cans and dirt. This intrigued me, sucked me right in. I wanted to learn more.

On the Narrowboat the electricity came from running the engines, generator, solar and wind. Usually a 12v and a 240v, via an inverter, system is used. Today a fridge, freezer, lighting, phone, I-pad, camera, iron, kettle and many more items can use a 12v system thus making batteries last longer on an ‘off grid’ setup. The same can be said for the Tiny House and Earth-ships, except the engine. Nowadays there is a battery for a normal house, charged from solar panels, so how efficiently could one be used in a house designed to be super efficient?

Water is a premium on all three, the Earth-ships however, harvest the rain water. Something I have yet to see on a Narrowboat or Tiny House. But I never said mine would not be connected to the mains, just on a meter for the water usage, if any, supplied by the water company, I do live in a rather wet country.

Storage – this one is won hands down by the Tiny Houses, space is at such a premium there is some fantastic spacial designs and multi functional uses of storage. Some that could be implemented on the Narrowboats as well if the Tiny House movement gains more popularity this side of the pond, and why is the Atlantic Ocean called ‘the pond’ whilst your lakes are called ‘great’? (one for my American readers)

Back on topic…

Heating – all three utilise the small multi fuel stove or gas bottle heating or both. In a small space the action of cooking with gas burners will also warm the house.But there is new technology available that can store heat, generated by solar or collected ‘waste heat’ from another source, for later use, they can even transport it, mind boggling I know.

Solar – You may be forgiven if you think this is already covered electricity, but the Earth-ships and Tiny Houses use the sun passively as well. The tiny houses have been known to use blackened cans in a wooden frame as a kind of solar still, the reverse of a radiator, to get free warmth into the house. The angle of the glass frontage of the Earth-ship is at such it uses the full heat collection of the sun in the winter and some even use the sun to heat a water tank. The suns heat is actually stored in the walls and floors to radiate throughout the home in the darkened hours of the day. How well this would work in a non desert environment I don’t know, but at the end of the day its free heating. This glass area is also a greenhouse segment of the building and leads us back to water.

Water – part two. Recycling and the Earth-ships go hand in hand, it is at its very core of its existence. This is where they get very clever with water. The rain water is collected, filtered for drinking and showering, dishes etc, the waste water goes to a planter in the greenhouse, the runoff water goes to a filter then a tank, some systems then pump it back to the planter on a timer creating a loop, this water also gets used to flush the toilet, ingenious yes? But wait, it’s not finished its journey yet, the toilet waste goes to a septic tank and then to an overflow field, however the overflow field is usually more self contained than standard overflow field, going rather into a lined area, gravelled and planted, normally ornamental plants, this way the plants are part of the waste management system and final recycling part of the waters process. How much water does a ‘normal’ house waste in comparison?

Now I am not an ageing hippy, nor a new age hippy, green vegan or a fringe movement activist. Nor am I a tree hugger or one of those ‘environmentalists’, I am just interested in being able to live in my own home and to be able to LIVE, but I do accept the fact I am aware I live in and affect ‘the’ environment, so if I can design a house that lessens my footprint I should.

Previously I just worked to pay bills, 90% of my working hours was for bills and essentials, and I usually had two jobs, one of them full time. I like many others, worked hard and played hard, that beer time at the end of the week was earned, deserved even, for putting up with job I hated, but one I needed to pay the bills. That beer time was the goal to be reached for many a week, the mind altering, perception changing beer time. Oh how it made me comply with the norm for the rest of the week. But I don’t want that life now, I don’t want to have to numb the week away at the weekend, just to repeat it all over again the following week.

I could, theoretically, buy an acre of land and build a home for half the price of a terraced house, yes it would be a smaller but it would be more self sustainable. It could still be on the grid, it would be a combination of the Tiny House, Earth-ship and even the Narrowboat (in terms of energy/water usage). The look would be more akin to the Tiny House with the greenhouse aspect of the Earth-ships. I also like the idea of the water collection from the Earth-ships as well as the water recycling. I don’t want the shed look but rather the – ‘this is a small home for one/a couple’ look, smart, practical, environmentally friendly and just in case the chap who predicted the drop in oil production in the 2030s and therefore the massive price hike in all things that utilise oil for transportation of goods or services, one that could manage ‘off grid’ should the grid fail due to our reliance on oil, and our shortsightedness on ‘alternative’ energy creation other than the toxic, radioactive waste producing nuclear plants. Oh and one that could produce fresh, in season fruits and vegetables, right on my doorstep and not requiring paying for an allotment.

It may be a dream, but it is an achievable dream.