It Has Been a While

Hi Everyone, it has been way too long since I have posted anything and I want to get back to it. Let’s see a lot has happened for all of us recently and I wasn’t sure where to start. Maybe the best place is on my recent travels as traveling is always great fodder for my blog.

My wife joined me on a recent business trip where we traveled to Copenhagen. Like many of you, my wife, had not traveled much since COVID as the thought of being on a plane with people coughing and sneezing still does not appeal. We just boarded the plane and in the row in front us on the other side of the aisle, a man sneezed or rather more like exploded. He did not even attempt to cover his mouth and Pam elbowed me in the ribs and said “don’t breathe!” This is our code for pull your shirt up over your face so you don’t breathe in someone else’s bio matter. We just resurfaced when the guy erupted for the second time, again with no attempt to contain the sneeze. The instruction not to breathe was given again. At this point Pam was either going to deck the guy or get off the plane. I managed to get her to stay on the plane which was a good thing since we were already taxiing.

The next day we ventured into the city early to have a look around before meeting some friends for lunch. As we walked around a lovely pedestrianised area we saw a man pulling a food van with the name “Dan’s Sausage” written on it. We both laughed out loud. Then we saw a nice arcade of shops. Pam pointed to the sign arching over the entrance. It said “Joric’s Passage” again we broke up laughing. I said if we tell people how spent our morning they wouldn’t believe us. “Well we started by seeing Dan’s Sausage and then strolled up Joric’s passage.” Not what you would expect of a couple of middle aged women.

Caution: COVID – 19 May Cause Your Family to Spend More Time Together…

     …are you prepared? If the schools and universities close and businesses tell people to work from home that is going to mean a whole lot more family time. Forget stocking up on toilet roll, make sure your Internet is working! Netflix and Amazon Prime will be a must along with the games your kids will be playing. Don’t forget some schools and universities will move their lessons online. All those devices laying around the house (yes the ones you always ask your family why you need them all) will be put into action.  Let’s hope our broadband infrastructure is able to cope with all that extra volume plus the increased number web based conference calls and virtual meetings. 

     If not, it might be time to dust off those old box games that have been packed away for years. Who knows maybe Monopoly or Kerplunk could save your sanity! 

“Cone of Shame Weapon of Household Destruction”

In December we adopted a rescue dog from a local charity rescue centre. We knew that since he was a stray we would have some training issues to deal with. We also knew that he would have to be neutered which was all fine. The day came this week for his operation. We were given the option of a Buster Collar or a T-Shirt/baby grow. Trying to preserve some of his dignity we chose the T-Shirt.

After the surgery we picked Ted up and he walked out of the vet’s office looking cute in his onesie. We got home and he seemed settled and was not bothered by his new apparel. An hour later he popped his head up, looked down at himself and realised he was wearing some kind of clothing. Within 30 seconds the poppers were removed and the shirt was ripped off. He then figured out something was afoot with his anatomy, something major was missing! Immediately he went for the wound site and starting to pull the stitches. It is now 7:00 P.M. and the vet’s number rolled over to the after hours emergency number. I explained that Ted ate his T-Shirt and was now focused on the wound. I was advised that we needed to get him a Buster Collar tonight because he was in danger of opening the wound. So much for trying to save his dignity we now had to drive 45 minutes in the pouring rain and fog to the after hours vet to get his collar.

When we arrived it was quick and easy to get it fitted and the vet nurse explained that Ted’s spacial awareness would quickly adapt to the cone. He might bump into things tonight but would easily work it out.

#NoOneToldTed we are currently in day 3 of the Cone of Shame and Ted is operating like a runaway bumper car! There is not a door frame, piece of furniture or cupboard that he has not smacked into at high speed. Both Pamela and I have bruises up and down the backs of our legs from him trying to take us out by ramming us behind the knees.

Anyone who has seen one of these collars knows that they are made of strong plastic. Well when you look at Ted’s collar you can see the creases that he has made by the impacts it has taken. You would think that after running into stuff you would soon figure out that maybe you should slow down a bit because you are wearing a lamp shade on your head. Nope, not Ted. He has turned this medical device into a weapon of household destruction! Pam has removed furniture in a bid to minimise the number of objects that he can crash into and still we hear the constant sound Ted trying to smash his way through a doorway.

Pamela just looks at me, shaking her head and says “get a dog it will be fun!”

Christmas Ramp Up

Here we are again, on the ramp up to Christmas, (although here in the UK we have had various Christmas items appearing in shops since late September) we are really in it now. Today in a shop I heard my first Christmas carol of the year. In the U.S. you guys have the buffer of Thanksgiving between Halloween and Christmas whereas here on November 1st the Halloween stuff is in the bargain bins and the Christmas paraphernalia is released.

This Friday is Black Friday, I personally think it should be called Black & Blue Friday because after trying to push your way through the hoards (with their pitch forks and flaming torches) you come home black & blue with bruises! Forget the Christmas spirit you are lucky to get out with your life.

Back on the lighter side of Christmas I do enjoy the town Christmas Tree lighting with the mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. As well as the local Christmas Fairs, Christmas Markets and festivals. Oh and one or two of the better Hallmark Christmas specials need to go into the mix!

I hope you and yours get the most out of this Christmas season and for those going through a difficult time I hope you find the true spirit of Christmas to help you get through.

55 is the New 30

I turned 55 years old on Friday and I know it is a cliche but I truly do not feel it, I do think things are different now than when at 55 you were considered a “Senior Citizen”. In the USA it was at age 55 that you were entitled to all the discounts in restaurants and at the movies among other places. Now not only does it feel too young, it is also not possible for most of us to stop working and retire. We cannot afford to live on our pensions even if we are qualified to draw them. Also, the majority of people still have a mortgage to pay well into their 50’s if not later. 

People are starting families later in life partly because they do not have to rush into marriage at such a young age owing to our life spans being so much longer now. 55 feels younger because it is. I have much more to look forward to and am nowhere near ready to be a Senior Citizen! 

Having said all that I am making some changes with the emphasis on making the most of every day, slowing the pace of life by moving to a rural location, that feels like I am constantly on holiday, planning and ticking off those bucket list items. Family has always come first in spirit but now in practice too. Time is moving too swiftly, months go by in a flash, time between Christmases flys by. In an effort to slow it down we need to wring the most out of every experience, every encounter, every adventure and every hour we are blessed to have. I am lucky enough to have found the perfect person to share my experiences, encounters, adventures and hours with and I hope you have too.

The Big Move

They say that buying a house and moving  is one of the top stressful events in our lives. Fresh off the back of our move last week I thought I would share some of the stories. Firstly, the move took place during the hottest week of the year. The actual move went relatively well the team were really good and got us in all in one day. I say “relatively” well because once we started moving the furniture in we had to deploy an agile methodology because our sofas (couches for you Americans) did not fit through the 1970’s doors. Furniture must have gotten bigger (kind of like the rest of us I guess). So, the room that was going to be our sitting room (living room) more subtitles for my North American friends, had to morph into a dining room. That then knocked on to moving my office to make that room the sitting room. You get the picture. Oh, I can’t forget that the lovely people left us a huge fridge/freezer that we immediately found did not work. The movers had to literally dismantle it to get it out of the house. I think they must have added the kitchen on and built it around the fridge!

Since then we have had tradesmen in every day. Tuesday the satellite television was installed, Wednesday Tom and Dickie were here to plaster the ceiling in the hall upstairs.  Thursday they were steaming the old wallpaper from the dining room whose style was 1970’s … well that says enough I think! Thursday was the hottest day ever recorded in England at nearly 100 degrees! (Please remember we are not used to temps like this so residential air conditioning does not exist.)  Those poor guys were using an industrial steamer in that heat. They survived the day to come back and finish on Friday. 

Over our first weekend Pam and I got to grips with moving boxes in preparation for the carpets to be laid on the coming Tuesday. The previous owners were also kind enough to leave a great big garden shed (a perfect place to store boxes you are thinking…so did we until we actually tried to enter said shed). Now neither of us are what you would class as slim but having said that you would have to be a size zero to fit through the space that the door opened. After 6 inches it was wedged against the patio and was not budging another inch. So far all we have managed to get in there is Cassie our cat. She thinks she has her own clubhouse.

Next it was figuring out how to use our top of the line integrated appliances. We had been surviving on frozen food or takeaway meals since the week before the move. Keen to cook a proper meal in our new house. The stove is an induction stove very high tech. We had to buy all new pots and pans because they must be stainless steel or iron to conduct the heat also the oven controls were developed by NASA! To date we have burnt one meal in the oven and two on the stove.  At least we could rely on our integrated…yes, top of the line dishwasher. Mind you besides the burnt on stuff we had days of tea and coffee mugs to wash. Here in the UK you offer tea, coffee and biscuits (cookies) to tradesmen and visitors. We load up the dishwasher and whirred into life however it lacked one vital ingredient…water. Not a drop was coming into the dishwasher. Our favourite guy Tom was back to work on the utility room so he mucked in to check the plumbing. No problems there, water was getting to the dishwasher. Lots of instruction manual reading, customer service calls and swearing later we gave up and went out and bought a new one. We were now 3 for 3 in the items left by the previous owners but did not work category. There is still one more thing they left for us a BBQ…I am taking bets on the outcome of that one.

The carpets went in with no major drama and now we are getting quotes for painting and blinds. Oh and shopping for a new shed!!

I will keep you updated as the big move aftermath continues.

Where Does the Time Go?

I knew it had been a while since my last post but I did not think it was 10 months ago! Things have been busy with a new job and family but I certainly did not think 10 months had passed. Where did that time go? I seem to be asking myself this question an awful lot lately. Our youngest grandchild is about to turn 5 and I have no idea how that happened either. Is it because I am getting older that it feels like time is zooming by at a rate of knots? Is it because I am not paying attention to the important things in life?

I like to think I’m one of those people who lives each day to the fullest but I have to question that when literally years have flown by in what seems like fleeting moments. I’m going to be 55 this year and maybe that is what is driving me to examine this time issue. 55! I could barely make myself type that. In the US I would be classed as a Senior Citizen. That makes no logical sense in my mind because I truly still feel like I’m 18. Sure I have “grown up” and I have a lifetimes worth of experience but that does not change the fact that I don’t feel like a senior citizen. I have far too much still to do in this lifetime too many places to go. I better get busy!

Invisible People

You all know how much I love watching people and observing their behaviour. Today I witnessed a few things that I can only explain by saying the individuals in question must think they are invisible. We start the morning in the cab and I see this guy coming down the street,  wearing headphones the size of salad bowls, and he is singing away like he is the star of a West End show. Why would someone do that in the middle of a crowded street in London? Answer: because he thinks he is invisible.

Later we had a photocopier moment. Something caught my eye and when I looked over there was a lady doing her interpretation of a 1920’s flapper dance. Hands were flying, backside was shifting, the whole lot. Granted the office was not full but there were still plenty of people around. Why would she do this! Because she is invisible of course!

We have all experienced the driver’s who decide that sitting in traffic is the perfect time to pick their nose. Obviously once they slip behind that wheel, no one sitting 5 feet away in stopped traffic, would notice them with one hand on the wheel and the other carrying out deep excavation activities requiring half of their arm to disappear inside their head. Why would they do this? All together now…”because they are invisible”.

Moral of the story is someone is always watching. You are not invisible but you do make me laugh.

It may be a Wednesday in April not a Thursday in November…

… but I still feel thankful. The sun is shining in London on this beautiful April morning and with all of the tensions in our world today it made me so grateful for the small gifts in my life. In the back of our minds there is the fear that these tensions could escalate into something none of us want to think about. If you flip that coin on its head it is a perfect excuse to recognise those everyday things we tend to take for granted.

For me they cross a broad spectrum here are a few:
Sunshine on an early April morning means less traffic and a quick dash across London.
The staff in the local Pret who make me smile when I get my coffee.
The lovely security guys at the office who always open the door for me. (Wow! That is 3 things and it is before 08:30). I’m on a roll now.
Knowing that when I get home from London tomorrow the most incredible woman in the world will be waiting for me. Along with the silliest Labrador and most insane cat on the planet!

There is so much that I am grateful for everyday and I never want to take that for granted because so many people in our world live each day with heartache or fear or war. Yet these people are still grateful but grateful for very different things; food, shelter, silence that bombs don’t shatter or for some it is being grateful for just one more day.

Here is your mission today if you choose to accept it. Take a negative situation and flip it around, find something in your life that you are grateful for. Hopefully by focusing on the gifts and good stuff it will diminish the impact from the negative situation you encountered.
Please feel free to post your situation and what it made you grateful for as a comment below.

I Should Have Stayed in Bed

Today can only be classed as “one of those days”. Our dog woke me up at 3:21, I managed to convince her that she really didn’t need to go out. Alarm went off at 5:00, at the train station by 6:00. Train is 25 minutes late, once on the train they announce “We only have one power car working”, I guess that is equivalent to an engine. “This means we will continue to lose time on our way to London.” When we finally crawled into London we were 45 minutes late. At last I arrived at work to find there is no Network, no Wi-Fi or LAN. After twidling my thumbs for 30 minutes I left and went another site to work. Worst of all I have not had a coffee yet! I get into the second office of the day, get logged on and head to the coffee machine and guess what I find?