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Reflections 2018 w38

Well it’s that time of the year again, when I have to admit defeat and replace the crochet blanket and sheet with the sheet and 4tog duvet, yes, the nights are getting colder. It’s also the time I look to see if I can get away to Shell Island in Wales for their final week of camping at the end of October.

Spot and I do not go for the fireworks, although she can be in the mood to watch them from a great distance, but rather the near empty campsite/”island” we share with maybe five other tents, that is until the Thursday, when it starts filling up for the firework night.

The weather we are used to here is usually windy with a high chance of 55mph gusts, so it is a great place to either ruin your tent or prove it. Trust me, once you get back to a tent that is flat to the ground, and you want to keep the tent more than one year, you get a tent that can withstand the winds. Also you start to look for the higher part of the more none-field camping areas, after you have woken up to a moat around your tent, if your unlucky, inside at least part of it.

I now hang my rubbish bag at night, not because of bears like our American cousins, but rather because of local, Welsh, wildlife.

Have in mind this was a two man dome tent standing at a whopping 105cm (41inch) at the very top whilst you read the next part.

I will never forget my first encounter with the rubbish thief, one was disturbed by the rustling of the bag and posed my head out of the top opening of the inner tent doorway, torch in hand, fully expecting to see a rat or a mouse. But instead I locked eyes, with the almost as surprised as me, badger. It lasted for what felt like a minute, until he/she grabbed the bag and made a run for it, the badger came around again the next night and tried to get the dog biscuits, the food was kept in the car after that and I now keep all food in an airtight container.

But my encounter did not end there…

Knowing that it liked the dog food, I waited the next couple of nights, using the red light on my head torch. And when the badger came again I quietly left the tent, the dogs in the tent with my ex, food in hand. Neither of us seemed to know we were supposed to fear each other, and we spent a good half an hour together, enjoying each others company. Me feeding the badger at nearly four foot away, and the badger eating the dog biscuits. The badger left when it had eaten enough and I did not see it again…

That holiday..




Reflections 2018 w37

Anxiety is all in the mind they say, but if you put your mind under too much pressure you get one hell of a headache.

Every so often one goes out of my comfort zone, this is usually connected with a day out with the children, even if one was looking forward to the days activity. I like watching fish, it relaxes me, so when we had the chance to go to Blue Planet near Cheshire Oaks I was looking forward to the tank tunnel as much as the children.

We went to Cheshire Oaks for dinner first, we would not have if we had known about the  building work, my sister has been several times but not being able to see the shops threw out her reference points, and made it feel crowded. I could not believe how noisy it was, even the road with a sparse amount of cars seemed deafening. My coping method was just working, the din fighting for my attention over the headphones. I could not leave the food place soon enough.

That was the start of the headache, it continued to grow in intensity when we timed our arrival just behind a birthday party at The Blue Planet. The dusk like conditions and warmth of the centre had me wanting to go to a corner and sleep, my natural response to   getting rid of a headache, but the volume of the party would have denied me it anyway.

I think it would be a good place to go on a school day, for me at least, as the feeling of trying to stay in front of the party would hopefully not be with the visit at that time. I could watch the stingrays for hours, there is something about the way they swim that is just mesmerising.

The kids seemed to have a good day, and I don’t know about the other two but my lad fell asleep shortly after setting off back to home. I was that knackered I even fell asleep at a reasonable time without my sleeping tablets, a rare event in itself, however I did get woken up by the now splitting headache at around 03:00hrs but was back to sleep after taking more pain killers. Even now as I write this the headache lingers on and probably will do for at least another day if I avoid everything else stressful.

It’s not just the headache, but how the body feels tight, wound up like a spring that does not get the release of pressure that causes the pain. No it’s not pleasant going outside of your anxiety comfort zone.


Reflections 2018 w36

There are certain programs from ones childhood that remain in ones memory, even if the memory of the program has long since gone. For me, one of these is a program called Blakes 7, a British tv show from 1978. It appears the entire show is on youtube.

The title music is how I remember the cast has the all too familiar faces, although one could not have described anyone of them before re-watching the series. Nothing is coming as a ‘surprise’.

The dodgy green screen, ‘classic’ sci-fi music and amateur dramatic acting that was so the rage of the 70’s was to be expected, and although it looks really dated I have not judged it on such cosmetic things.

I am now 4 episodes into series one and for the life of me cannot see what the appeal was for me as a wee nipper. The script comes across more political and of a humanitarian agenda than Star Trek was and the action is, as of yet, less than what I remember Tom Bakers Dr Who was, also running at the same time. But I remember I was an avid watcher of this.

To be honest it may have just been because there was only three channels on the tv at the time, HOW did we manage??? Or it may have been because it was in colour. A lot of the sci-fi films one watched as a child were black and white, you still cannot beat the original war of the worlds though, so I am not sure this would have been the reason. Safire and Steel, also British tv, was in colour but the stories were more along the lines of Dr Who crossed with the Twilight Zone, one story of trapping a creature, which may not have had a face, in a circle of mirrors, because thats how it moved about from person to person – creeped me right out. (This is all from memory and may not have been the story written for the program but rather what my child brain interpreted the story to be)

But there is none of that in this…I’m at a loss. I do not see the appeal now.

Sometimes the memory of something is always better than the thing in the memory being recalled.


Side note…

Why do people place adverts for items to be sold on sites like gumtree, only to leave the advert running weeks after it’s been sold? It costs me money to text them and costs them to text me back, muppets!

I have just checked – the add is still running, 3 days after my contact with them. Why???


reflections 2018 w35

It’s been a funny old month. The temperature has been up, with a cold dip , before going up once more. The veggies’ don’t know what to do.

The plants are so out of whack that we have been picking blackberries a month early. I have cut it down a touch in the last couple of weeks, including the old fruit ‘heads’, not sure what it is called, Not really a ‘haircut’, more of a trim.

This was done a couple of days after the drop to single digits and was thought to have been the season done for this year, apart from the odd stragglers. But no, the bush has blossomed again and gotten some new berries growing. Right in line with the normal picking season.

My courgettes have also gotten confused, the cold snap discolouring the leaves as the plant looked to be dying off. This week the plant is throwing off new courgettes and new growth.

I harvested my butternut squash because of the frost threat, which we did not have, and now this has 8 more squash growing.

As this is my dads plot, I get one in October, I have not taken much notice nor notes. The seeds were old for the most part, and veg was grown specifically to get excess for the food bank. When I get my own plot more notes will be taken and all seeds will be from fresh stock.

I will even be weighing the veg harvests to go with the crop, as well as what was done to the soil etc. Even temperature ratings will be recorded.

Yes it may seem anal, but I don’t want to be growing a crop just for stock at the expense of flavour, and recording all I can, is to me, the best way to replicate the same results year after year.

It’s just going to be a lot of work to get the plot how I want it. Unfortunately all the signs are looking like a bad winter; I don’t fancy frozen bits as I do it.

Reflections 2018 w34

Well my short story was posted last Monday for the Writing Kiln’s Pottery Prize, my first ‘proper’ writing competition entry, hopefully this one will have more than two people entering it (last years Brighter Futures in-house writing competition).

True the last one may have been a disappointment in the participation and therefore the result, but it did get my ‘story head on’ and this years entry was written.

It was written for the Potteries Prize last year, but I got my dates wrong for the entry which meant I either just published it on my site or saved it for another competition it fit the criteria for. Obviously I saved it, not even knowing if the competition would be running this year.

With the poetry writing my usual routine is to write it, leave it, alter it, leave it, alter it some more…Maybe publish it, reread it and tweak a little. But this, after nearly a year, has had no more alterations, the Brighter future story I would rewrite swathes of.

I feel I could not have written it any better, at this time, in the future, as my skill increase, who knows. But now, it is the best story I have written.

Miss Ross would be proud that I have finally written a story and it has a beginning, middle and an end. She always liked my stories, but I only wrote the middle part at high school.

One day I will write the book she always said I had in me.




Reflections 2018 w33

It’s been my sons visit today, and with the day being dry, he wanted to play outdoors. Now it’s been a long while that he has had his bouncy castle up, due to the sun, this is something that for some reason seems strange to write. We did not want to keep him in the sun too long so as not to burn, and just how hot would the bouncy castle get? Today though the sun was hiding behind the clouds.

It’s just a shame that the wind was gusty.

We agreed it was probably best that it stayed deflated, so it would not blow onto the roses and burst. So instead we went with the tunnel tent set, well the tunnel set anyway.

The tunnel set is one of those pop up tunnels x4 and what can only be described as a doughnut shaped centre, that the four tunnels go into to support the upper fabric. If this was to blow around it would not get burst and the fabric could always be repaired if it caught the roses. No way were the tents going to stay in this yard if erected, so they stayed in the box. If he could get his cousin to give chase it would make for a tiring morning/afternoon.

It went as planned till dinner time, occasionally the wind caught a tunnel and blew it down the lawn, but not too bad.

After dinner the gusts became stronger, the tunnels often blowing away, and the centre donut, all 5ft of it, started to lift.

The donut shape is only on the top, this allows children to pop up in the centre like a whack-a-mole. The bottom is solid material. The wind treated the donut like a wind sock and the bottom like a kite. One gust had me catching it 3ft off the ground surprised by the pull it was giving. And this is where I wondered if it could be turned into a kite.

I then thought for a while…I have not managed to fly a kite so far this year. I have had kites with me; to fly. However, they seem to be jinxed. Every time I have taken them out to fly the wind dissipates to not even a gentle breeze. Even the last two kite shows I have been to had the kites on the floor rather than in the air. I find flying a kite relaxing, mine are not the stunt type, just the single line types, and a lifter kite for a gopro type camera. It’s like a poor mans drone for aerial shots.

In theory any way, I have not had the wind to try….


Reflections 2018 w32

Sometimes writing these blogs comes easily, sometimes it is just slow on the uptake.

This weeks subject came to me when going for lunch after picking up monster, my nephew.

As it was going to be dinner time when we set off on the 19 mile trip, and passing a farm shop en route, one decided that a ploughman’s pork pie would be for my dinner. They are expensive for what they are, but as an occasional treat, worth it.

What makes this pork pie different than a normal one?

This has no crust top, cutting down on the pastry, whilst replacing it with spring onions and cherry tomatoes, there may even be a hint of mustard in the meat part as well. This was to be washed down with a curiosity cola, also expensive for what it is and also a treat.

But whilst waiting in the queue, I placed the bottle back and walked away.

There was one person serving, he also did the butchering, all in view of the queue. We all watched as he freshly cut the rib of beef for the first lady. When he had finished he had comments on how well he did the butchering, especially with an audience watching. A lighthearted exchange of words continued whilst he continued to serve the lady, £63 was the cost, a price she was very happy with. He handed her her receipt and took the bottles of wine from the next customer to scan them. This is when this customer was lost, possibly forever.

I stood watching as he wiped his hands down his apron, used the till and handled the change to the lady. At no point did he wash his hands in the sink once the meat was bagged, even though the sink was one step behind him, nor did he do it after serving and nor did he wipe the till down. If he was to have leant over the counter to get the baked goods from within it, he would have had a high chance of raw meat dropping off his butchering apron onto cooked meats and cooked pies. Even if that customer had the good fortune of bloodied hands being washed before handling.

If he does not wash his hands after handling raw meats, whats the chance he washes them after going for a pee???

No, I don’t think I will be going there again.

And you can no longer feed the pigs either, a great way to get rid of fallen apples.