Sunday, 24 November 2013

Comfort zones.


I've been off work this week.

Not really because I wanted to but more because I had 14 days holiday to use before the end of December. I do this every single year and end up being absent for the majority of the run up to Christmas. It sounds ridiculous but I hate being off work unless I have a valid reason such as going abroad or attending an event. Sitting at home looking for things to do just depresses me and, as much as I love him, Adam usually drives me round the twist if we spend too long in close proximity. I may have mentioned it before but he is more of a 'get up and go without thinking' and I'm more of a 'let's hold tight and contemplate the world' kind of guy. Neither is a bad thing; it can just result in chaos when combined.

I went down to Nottingham to stay with some old university friends this weekend. We do this every so often and we take it in turns to host. This time, it was Amy's turn and we spent the weekend perusing the (somewhat early) Christmas market in Derby and talking of her upcoming wedding. They've just acquired a kitten called Penny and although I am far from a cat lover, it really is the cutest kitten I have ever clapped eyes on. Just look at her; she's about the size of a child's hand! I'm under no illusions though - cats still seem like satan's minions to me....

On Tuesday, after a few days of boredom and sitting around waiting for some of Adam's Christmas presents to arrive, I decided to take a drive down to Dad's new house in Cambridgeshire. It is the first home he has bought with his girlfriend Shirley and it's lovely. It is just on the outskirts of a rural village and is absolutely huge! I knew he wanted space for when Shirley's family come to stay but I did not realise it was a family of fifty. Ridiculous but what can I say - he seems happy. I will say that Shirley acted completely differently in her own home. She is extremely stern and somewhat cutting. You know when you feel as though you are treading on eggshells with someone all of the time? Well yeah, she's like that. I'm kind of glad I live away as I can't see us getting on too well up close. She has also banished Dad's dog (who used to be mine) Stella, so that she is outside all day and is only allowed in the breakfast room for a few hours each night. Dad kind of tricked me as he said she came in at night with him whilst he watched TV (as she always has) but after visiting, I've discovered that yes she is allowed in but she has to be two rooms away. The Dad I know would never have allowed that, especially as she has her extremely irritating grandchildren wailing like banshees around the house every day, but like I said it seems things have changed. I just can't wait for Nan to visit - she's quite the whirlwind and will not tolerate that at all. I'll nervously sit and await the phone call regarding that one.

Now I'm just about ready to go back to work - which is just as well as I'm back tomorrow. No doubt I'll be greeted with 487587689786 emails, a barrage of office gossip and the usual 'how was your week off?' question but I'd be lying if I said I was dreading it. For all its tedium, I have to admit; it's my comfort zone.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Too soon, too soon.


Well winter is well and truly beginning to settle in. We've had a relatively dry year so far but I now can't remember the last time I walked to work without being drenched by drizzle. I would't mind, I mean I'm all for the joys of nature but it isn't even proper rain - it's that extremely irritating mist that hits you like a sheet of freezing cold glass. Sometimes when I arrive at work, I can't even feel my forehead. Having said that, the technique could be useful next time I feel a migraine coming on.

The shops are already decked out with Christmas paraphernalia. I have visions of shop staff waiting with bated breath until midnight after Bonfire Night, chomping at the bit to throw tinsel across the shelves. Adam loves it as Christmas could never come too early for him but I can't help but be depressed whenever I think about Yuletide in November. Is this really what we have become? Such a shallow, materialistic race of commercialists? I've banned all talk of it until December 1st and believe me, I've more than compromised. I say I've banned all talk but that hasn't stopped Adam from attempting to subtly 'christmas-ise' the house. I've already had to confiscate two wooden reindeer that appeared prematurely on the lounge shelf and a red and green doorstop that I can only presume was the fruit of one of his craft sessions. I did, however, allow the purchase of a doggie advent calendar in Sainsbury's yesterday so I'm not a complete Scrooge. Put it down to the Swedish in me - we're strictly  'Christmas in December' type people.

A spate of boredom a few evenings ago lead me to look up 'the top 50 books you should read before you die' online. I have to admit, it strongly varies from website to website and heavily depends on the nationality of the article but I've narrowed down a good list of twenty that seem to appear across the board. I'm challenging myself to read them all at least before the end of next year but I tend to read in bursts - I can go months without reading anything at all and then suddenly I'll clear a good ten novels in just a few weeks. I've started with 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Most kids study it in school but I was lumbered with Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies, Great Expectations and The Woman in White. Ironically, due to that reason, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is one of the very few books that Adam has read. He takes great delight in reminding me of it too - I'm eager to change that.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hounded.


I managed to take a half decent photo of Skye a few days ago as she bathed in the evening sunset. She really isn't meant to climb the furniture but if you've ever tried to train a husky to obey you, you'll understand why we gave up. To be honest, we more than gave up - she now has her own chair. I read somewhere once that huskies prefer to be companions rather than pets and they weren't far wrong. Total diva.

Notice how she wears two tags; one blue and one pink? Well that's because myself and Adam had a huge argument over what colour collar and lead she should have. Initially it was all blue which I liked as it has obvious links to 'Skye'. One day I came home from work and everything was pink. Much to my annoyance it turned out that Adam's mum had replaced the blue theme with pink as she believed that blue wasn't right for a girl. Yes she's our dog and yes, I did calmly walk away...... using every last ounce of strength. Needless to say I'm too stubborn to completely give in and now she wears both tags and I switch her lead to the blue one when I take her out. Job done.

Browsing through the app store, I just installed an app called 'Woof' - kind of an anonymous Facebook for dogs. Don't worry, I took a look more for humour purposes than anything else and my preconceptions were confirmed when, after just 10 minutes, a 6-month-old dachshund called 'Macbumhole' added me. Oh the joys of the modern age.

Talking of dogs, I've been walking to and from work for the past several weeks due to the current insane traffic build up. They've shut a couple of main roads  (why they don't just do one after the other I'll never understand) and as a result, the whole city's traffic is trying to get down one road during peak times. I live a five minute drive from work and it was taking just over 50 minutes to get in - absolutely crazy. Now I'm walking, it takes just under twenty minutes; I feel great for it but I have to walk through the dreaded woodland and at this time of year it's comparable to running the gauntlet. Now there's a five minute window in which, if I hit the woods, I walk right into some local guy and his seven yappy Yorkshire terriers. It may not seem a big deal but believe me, it is the trauma of traumas and I curse myself repeatedly if I time it incorrectly.

To begin with, you have no idea they are there until you hear the most deafening whistle and three or four of them dart out from the bushes in front of you. They're soon joined by the others who then circle you at break-neck speed, periodically weaving in and out of your legs the whole way down the track. During this, their owner merrily picks his way through the undergrowth oblivious to the drama unfurling. It adds on a good 10 minutes to my journey time and never fails in further ruining my already sorry looking shoes.

On the bright side, it has become quite the joke at work now and my colleagues have already started keeping tally of our encounters (one look at my shoes provides a tell-tale sign). I suppose the only other alternatives are cycling and public transport?

I think I'll just take my chances with the dogs.


Monday, 4 November 2013

Gunpowder, Treason & Plot.


Even if I had just awoken from a year long coma, I would still know that it is the 5th of November tomorrow. Walking home from work this evening, I could already smell the pungent stench of bonfire in the bitterly cold autumn air. Fireworks have been going off for days now so they are no real surprise - they're one of those things that people need very little excuse to let off. I've never quite got the appeal but I suppose it's something to do with man's obsession with fire; the somewhat prettier equivalent of a BBQ.

In favour of a quieter, more chilled out November 5th (complete with V For Vendetta, naturally), we got our celebrations out of the way with yesterday. Adam bought a few fireworks, hotdogs and marshmallows and even managed to haul the fire pit out of the garage ready for the neighbours coming over.


We messed around with sparklers, laughed at Adam's horrendous attempt at a Catherine Wheel and came to realize exactly why it is that I'll never entertain the idea of having children. Don't get me wrong, they're great kids but they seem to require constant attention, wreak havoc on everything they touch and are able to throw what are quite possibly the biggest tantrums I've ever seen (and you haven't seen Adam's!). God love them.


I did try my hand at some firework photography but I doubt things could have gone any worse than they did. The wind was blowing a gale and with it came rain. I had no idea how to use Adam's tripod and he seemed hellbent on letting the fireworks off without telling me which direction they would travel. Needless to say, I missed 98% of them. Better luck next time I guess?


Now I'm treating myself to an early night. I've been ridiculously tired lately to the point I just feel like laying down and sleeping part way through the day - very un-wayne like. I blame Adam's irritating snoring and constant teeth-grinding that goes on all night. I've decided that the only solution is to ensure I'm in bed by 10 to help catch up.

Having said that, I am already 9 minutes over but who's counting?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

A surprising Halloween.


I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween! Despite being English, I have a ridiculous love of the Halloween season; part of me even prefers it to Christmas. Maybe it's the heathen in me? Who knows.

Usually we get dressed up and go out partying but Adam was working this year so I opted for a quiet night in alone with horror films and pumpkin carving. I say a quiet night but it actually turned into one of the most exhausting nights I've had in many months. I have never seen so many trick or treaters in my entire life!

To the Americans, the presence of trick or treaters probably won't come as a surprise but here in Britain it has never really taken hold the way it has across seas. If you're lucky (or unlucky), most houses will probably only get one or two but within 2 hours I managed to get through 75 bags of Haribo - literally raped by Halloween. I knew that we would probably get more in this new house what with living in the suburbs near lots of families and the ever increasing popularity of Halloween each year. I loved it - the families looked amazing dressed up and the street came alive. Weirdly, you don't see many house decorated for Halloween but of the 7 houses in our street, 5 were decked out. I hope the trend continues, it's such a fun time of year and I'm extremely jealous of the US when it comes around. I just need to be better equipped next year - finding extra stock of emergency sweets in the local shop at 6pm on Halloween is virtually impossible.

We put all of our creative efforts into decorating at work. It was a lot easier this year as the schools have been off for half term which means it was pretty quiet. It actually gave us a great distraction from an otherwise boring two weeks. I donned an old Batman top that I made whilst at university, taped some bin liner wings to the arms and graced everyone with my make-shift bat effort. I'd be lying if I said the wings weren't insanely annoying. They got caught everywhere; toilet door, between my chair arms and the desk, under cups etc etc. Deep joy.

 

Next up is November 5th - Guy Fawkes night. Fireworks have already started going off and I've started to smell one or two bonfires. I can't say I've ever been particularly fond of Bonfire Night. It annoys me that one of Britain's main 'must celebrate' events takes place in the darkest depths of Winter and celebrates someone being hung, drawn and quartered. Let's just say I don't see the appeal of being crammed in a cold, wet field amongst thousands of people whilst they burn an effigy in memory of a public execution. Childhood memories of it is another thing - Catherine Wheels getting stuck on the garden fence, Dad launching rockets in the wrong direction and burning my rain-soaked fingers on sparklers. Sigh.

Anyway, I need to stop being a killjoy - Adam is already talking about buying a few fireworks and inviting our neighbour over for hotdogs and marshmallows. Happy face at the ready!


Monday, 28 October 2013

Nettleham Hall.


For those that were worried (humour me), I can confirm that I am in fact not dead, I've just been slightly M.I.A for a while. Not to worry, I'm back now and far more inclined to actually post thanks to my shiny new iMac (a slightly impulsive and extravagant purchase but motivational nonetheless).

On Sunday, we took my new camera for its first real outing as I've been bugging Adam for weeks to take me somewhere worth photographing. I'm not from this county originally and struggle to make my way into the centre of town, let alone discover points of interest.

We ended up at the ruins of the derelict 'Nettleham Hall', situated about 15 minutes from where we live. I can't believe I have lived here this long without realising such a fantastic place existed just down the road. From what I can figure out from Google and Adam's Grandad, the hall itself was the seat of power for the Hood family; more notably John Hood who accompanied General Monk from Scotland in 1660 in attempting to restore Charles II to power. Reports are vague but the hall was 'mysteriously' destroyed by fire in 1937.

I'm not going to lie, it is quite possibly the eeriest place you could ever wish to visit. Smack bang in the heart of dense, silent woodland and overgrown by vines - I can think of nothing worse than visiting at night. Just before the hall itself, is a little groundsman's cottage. You can still make out some of the wallpaper detail in the front room and the remnants of a kitchen. I'd give anything to see photos of what it used to like but alas, it appears no real photos survived.





Not too much exists of the hall itself except the main wall structure, archways, some plaster detail and the cellars. The whole thing has a sort of creepy 'Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider' feel.





I discovered online that it is quite the hotspot for enthusiasts of derelict places (yes there is such a phenomenon) and that many visitors have been chased away by a particularly aggressive farmer. Luckily, we didn't experience that pleasure.

We've toyed with the idea of visiting the abandoned Nocton Hall next but something about visiting a derelict RAF hospital makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. After all, those kinds of excursions never end well in horror films. Watch this space; you never know how persuasive Adam can be.

Now I'm off to catch up on all of your blogs to see how you've all been getting on. I guess we'll see if this storm materialises that everyone has been banging on about. My personal guess is that it won't touch us up here. Damn the sensationalised weather reporting in this country.

Thursday, 19 September 2013


It finally arrived!

I guess this means more photos which in turn means more blogging? You never know.

Watch this space.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Only if your name isn't Tyler.

What a dull, boring day. A very hot and sunny day but boring nonetheless.

I'm really not cut out for this 'being off work' lark. I've come to the self realisation that I'm one of those people; the type that would rather be a slave to the wage than dossing around the comfort of their own home. I suppose I like the structure, the routine - the idea that I'm making myself useful (to someone anyway). Maybe I should join the military? Maybe not.

Have any of you guys seen the segment on 'This Morning' from yesterday that has gone viral? Katie Hopkins (ex-apprentice candidate that famously told Lord Sugar that she did not want to be hired and now makes a name for herself being controversial and occasionally obnoxious) argues the point that she judges parents based on their children's names. Naturally everyone is shocked and appalled. It is all over the papers, TV, web and Facebook (obviously). Holly Willoughby, the nation's sweetheart has done well out of it - defending the working class and batting her eyelids. Katie on the other hand is pretty much being chased out of the country with burning pitchforks. That's what happens when you choose primetime morning television to air your views folks.

Obviously I don't agree with her and I'm more offended at how incapable she seems to be when it comes to arguing an opinion but I'd be lying if I said I didn't mentally judge parents when I hear them shouting their children's names. I'm always open to being proven wrong and would never treat any human being differently but I would definitely still make that silent judgement - as would the majority of the population. To say that you would go to the extremes of preventing your own children from playing with them however, is just absurd. I mean my own name, Wayne, would most likely be deemed as sounding 'lower class'. She personifies everything that is wrong with the right-wing upper-middle class and the video is well worth a watch, if only for the reactions.


Besides that and watching Adam mow the neighbours' lawns this morning, it has been an extremely slow and monotonous day. Maybe tomorrow will bring further excitement?

Have a great night everyone!


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Playing Doolittle.

As mentioned in my previous post, we travelled up to the seaside town of Bridlington in Yorkshire on Monday to visit Park Rose Animal Park. Adam found a meerkat and owl experience on Groupon so seeing as it was our week off, we decided to branch out.

The park itself is not anywhere near the coast, in fact, it is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It's extremely small, family owned and you get a real sense that they are purely doing it for the animals and the fact that people can visit is just a bonus. I'd much rather give my money to a place like that than one of these huge safari parks.


We watched a bird of prey show and then they took us into the meerkat enclosure where we got to play and feed them mealworms. If I learned anything that day, it's that meerkats may look cute but my god are they vicious. I was the only person wearing shorts and every time they scurried behind me, I had visions of my shins being ripped apart. 


    video video

We were then allowed to hold what seemed like 100 different owls. I've never been much of an owl fan (that's my Dad's department) but I have to admit, seeing them up close has brought a new sense of adoration. They're so beautiful.
Despite the meerkats and owls, I'm embarrassed to say that the highlight of my day was when the guy showed us his ferret enclosure. They were white albinos just like Moomin and extremely docile as the mother had just given birth. I was surprised by how everyone in our guide party seemed genuinely interested by them - there's usually always one that screams in repulsion. Poor little things, they have such a bad rap.

All in all it was a great day and the weather held out long enough. We've literally had no summer so far this year at all. If I'm honest, I can't say it has bothered me too much, it'd just be nice to know what to wear when you wake up each day. Such is life.

I hope all of my American buddies are having a wonderful July 4th! Have a drink for me (or two) and enjoy those amazing fireworks I see pop up on the blogosphere at this time of year. We have to wait until November 5th for fireworks; in the depths of winter wrapped up to within an inch of our lives, all to celebrate some idiot that failed to blow up a building. Not that I'm bitter....

Not at all.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Small traumas.

I only ever seem to blog whenever I have something witty or pressing to divulge. I put this down to the idea that no-one cares about my somewhat mundane life. Having said that, last night as I lay drifting off to sleep, I suddenly had the epiphany that I should be blogging for myself regardless. I'm one of those people that is constantly thinking about something, pondering, wondering. Having an outlet does help in curbing it (I'll admit that much) so, even if it is just for my own mental sanity and love of sleep, you'll probably be hearing a lot more of the minutiae of my everyday tribulations.

Both myself and Adam have been off work this week. We never really get time off together due to his ridiculous shift patterns (the joys of care work) and work was starting to get on my last nerve so we booked the week off. Spur of the moment and all that.

We travelled to a little family-owned animal park in Yorkshire yesterday for a meerkat and owl experience that Adam discovered online. Everything about it was fantastic so I'll upload a post on that once I have the photos sorted. For now, I'll leave you with Adam avec a bored looking owl.

I encountered a small trauma this morning (depending on what you would deem a trauma to be). As you probably know by now, Google Reader has finally been discontinued leaving users with no other option than to seek out an alternative feed reader. Personally, I cannot think of any online service I use more than Google Reader. I check it every morning for new blog/news posts, I peruse it on breaks at work and finally sit down with it each evening whilst relaxing. Fundamentally, it is how I keep up to date with all you wonderful people.

To cut a long story short, I spent a good hour investigating the different services outlined in this post before finally settling with Feedly. It looks nice, has a good iPhone/iPad app (essential for me) and is probably the closest to how Google Reader functioned. It just meant I had to sift through all the blogs I follow and rename them again - I'm pedantic when it comes to the fact that each blog must have the author's name as a prefix.

I suppose I'll know in the next few days if I have any problems with it but I'll happily welcome any suggestions from you guys regarding which blog readers are worth a look. I doubt I'll have much else to do - I mean, it isn't like it hasn't stopped raining for the past month week...

Monday, 17 June 2013

S.

S is a relatively new team member. The far side of middle-aged; a friendly, maternal woman. Slightly overweight with greying hair, she lives alone with her two beloved cats. This lack of human interaction at home coupled with the need for social acceptance, she's the type you must set aside a good twenty minutes for should you be brave enough to ask the dreaded question 'How are you?'.

"How's it going S?"

"Oh the usual - I didn't sleep a wink last night"

"Oh dear, why's that?"

"Well you know I'm going on that solo cruise in a few weeks?"

How could that ever slip my mind...

"I was reading reviews online last night and they're full of horror stories. Older men stalking single women who are travelling alone"

"I really wouldn't worry - they always post the worst stories online and I'm sure they embellish most of them..."

"To be honest, I thought that, but then I came across this story of a single British woman who was persistently harassed by an American man who wanted her to go to dinner with him"

"To cut a long story short, she kept refusing and in the end, he tried to attack her in her cabin"

"That sounds like an urban legend if ever I've heard one"

"I hope you're right. I love my cruises but I could never bring myself to go on another one if someone tried to attack me whilst I slept"

"Like I said S, I really wouldn't worry - you'll be fine"

"Well it's like my Dad said last night: if someone wants to rape me in my cabin at my age, I should leave the door unlocked"

And with deadpan execution, amidst colleagues grinning at their computer screens, she shuffled away leaving me to contemplate the conversation we had just exchanged.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Toastgate.

The MD, Big J has an obvious distaste for temporary members of staff.

"You won't believe the sheer audacity of what I witnessed in the kitchen this morning"
"Whilst preparing my cereal, S walked in - brazen as you like and began making toast!"

".........."

"Make sure it doesn't happen again"

Masking my blatant look of confusion, I begin to draft my first departmental email of the day.

There are some people on this earth that we are destined never to understand.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

On reflection.

Several dead and over one hundred people injured in a series of explosions at the Boston Marathon.

I have spent the past few hours pouring over amateur footage of the tragic events. Video phones portraying an elated carnival atmosphere torn to pieces by deadly blasts, runners sprinting for their lives, emergency teams risking everything by darting headfirst into the ensuing chaos. Graphic images showing the true extent of terrorism. Early reports suggest that an eight-year-old child is amongst the dead; an innocent youngster without even a thought or opinion on the fabricated religious farce that drives this kind of act.

Terrorism saddens me. It breaks my heart to the point that I can no longer stand it. My mind becomes confused, tangled beyond comprehension and I cry. I cry for humans - both victims and perpetrators as, in their own ways, both are lost within the twisted world in which we live.

It belittles me and consumes me with guilt. How dare I sit and quibble over the fact that my day has not gone quite to plan; that the minutiae of my daily routine didn't quite tesselate to my complete satisfaction. My day in which no-one was hurt, no-one was maliciously targeted and, above all, no-one died.

Perspective is a personal concept and these old minds of ours find it a hard concept to conquer. Trust me, I refuse to give up. Though I may not claim to be the next Sigmund Freud (heaven help us if I am) but I do firmly believe that healthy perspective is the key to inner peace and finding it is one of the greatest ambitions any human can have.

An absolution that we can only pray this world some day finds.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Oh Sunday.


I've had the ultimate relaxing Sunday; slept until late morning, enjoyed a full-english breakfast and basked in the sunshine of the garden. Adam's mum is looking after Skye this weekend, so I had the ideal opportunity to have the ferrets in the sun lounge for a much needed runaround. They really are the most adorable little creatures, dooking and jumping through their tubes - it's just a shame that Skye doesn't really share the same opinion.

We made the spur of the moment decision to drive over to Sainsbury's yesterday evening to buy some cocktail equipment and a basket load of spirits. I'm not 100% sure where the incentive came from but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with an old Desperate Housewives re-run that happened to be on TV at some point. Needless to say, we now have the urge to build ourselves a minibar though I haven't the faintest idea where we could put one. Adam will find somewhere, he always does. He turns this house into Mary Poppins' bag - give him an hour of rearranging and I reckon he could find room for a small African republic upstairs. Having said that, I'm dubious as to what lurks underneath each of the spare beds.

And now Sunday, the day of rest is almost over. I'm contemplating prizing myself from the sofa, ready to navigate the stairs to bed but part of me despairs at the idea of wasting the final precious moments of the weekend. I'm a nightmare that way. I've always been a night owl, absolutely detesting the idea of going to bed - unfortunately for me, this often results in too many late nights and I'm one of the most loathsome of humans first thing in the morning. I've noticed that my work colleagues have started giving me a wide birth when I first walk in at 9am. To be honest, I've tried convincing myself that it's down to how busy everyone is. I know I'm wrong, but a little self-delusion never did anyone any harm, did it?

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Mustering.


Despite the sun's sudden emergence from what seems like an eternal hibernation, the air has remained bitterly cold over the past few days. English weather is a trickster; it tries it's damn hardest to dupe you into throwing on jeans and a t-shirt, only to find yourself cutting glass the minute you step outside the front door. It can be both depressing and amusing.

I took advantage of the beautiful sunset and took Skye for a woodland walk yesterday. It was so nice amongst the trees; waves of golden light flooding through the bare branches, spring draughts whistling through the undergrowth. I managed to snap a few photographs before becoming genuinely concerned by Skye's persistant attempts to hang herself from various boughs. Suicidal hound.


I've found myself rattling around the house on my lonesome quite a lot lately due to Adam constantly being at work. I'm 9 to 5 and he works shifts; unfortunately, his shifts are awkward times meaning that I am either at work or in bed by the time he finishes. I'm often banging on about how I love my 'me' time but, like all human beings, I'm also inclined to moan when it swings completely the other way. I guess you just can't win in these little old minds of ours. I suppose I also resent (a little) the fact that I am always left with the dog to look after despite being reassured by Adam that he would ensure he would undertake the majority of her care. Yes, I was the one that wasn't too keen on getting a dog - not because I don't love them but I've grown up with them and know just how much attention a young dog needs. Suffice to say, I gave in to Adam's constant badgering and now he is almost always at work.

Oh well, Skye is happy enough - I'm sure I can push my selfish needs aside for the time being. We were thinking of taking her to the beach on Saturday. No doubt you'll see us on some news report; found frozen to death in some northern cove. We should question our mental sanity really but I'm sure she'll enjoy it.

In the grand scheme of things, life is good. During a week of crazy news involving parents murdering their own children in house fires and countries attempting to provoke war, all we can do is take a breath and muster the strength to soldier on, enjoying everything we are blessed to have.

After all, it really isn't too much to muster.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A not so egg-citing Easter.


I made Moroccan lamb for tea tonight. Adam is working late shifts all week so it's a good time to practice my cooking and try things that I normally wouldn't get to try - he isn't exactly the most adventurous of people when it comes to food. It was nice but I'd probably substitue the cut of lamb for something a bit more tender if I was to do it again.

The bitterly cold wind and snow has finally subsided after what feels like the longest winter of all time. I almost died of shock when I stepped out into the sun this morning and actually felt warmth - I pinched myself several times to make sure I had woken up.

Work is quiet this week, deathly quiet in fact due to the schools being off for Easter. Having said that, there is still lots of stuff to organise and I believe that Gloucestershire go back early next week so the tranquility will be short lived. I can't grumble though, I was relived to go back to the office after a few days off over Easter - I've decided that I really am one of these people that just cannot cope with doing nothing. I was home alone for the entire four day weekend and the one day that Adam was off work, he stayed in bed for 22 hours (yes, 22 hours) complaining of some kind of stomach flu. Don't get me wrong, I can be sympathetic when I need to be but I struggle when it comes to nursing others for the simple reason that I don't think I have ever suffered from an ailment bad enough to warrant total bed confinement. I'm the opposite when I'm ill - I suddenly find a million and one things to do in order to convince myself that I'm okay. Jeez, dare I say it; I'm starting to sound like my Father.

I cleaned the house, tended to the dog, changed the sheets, sorted out the reading room ready to decorate (when I finally decide on the theme), caught up on all my TV shows and finally got around to restocking the pantry. Obviously I paraphrased when asked the dreaded 'How was your weekend?' question as I walked into the office this morning. I wouldn't want anyone thinking I was one of those people.

So that was my Easter and I didn't even have the pleasure of receiving an abundance of chocolate eggs due to the minor issue of disliking most forms of cocoa. Poor old me ay? I hope you guys experienced a somewhat more colourful weekend.

P.S - Though my iPhone does a fine job of capturing most of my daily musings, I'm finally thinking of investing in a decent SLR. It has always been an interest of mine but I just don't know where to begin. I know a couple of budding David Baileys may read this so any advice on a good first SLR and lens would be much appreciated! 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Finality.

It has been bitterly cold as of late; unbearably so for this time of year. The thought of coming home from work and braving the frosty air with the dog makes my heart sink. Luckily, it's the ideal climate for Huskies - Skye is in her element. Literally.

Work is busy, busy, busy. We have far too much to achieve with so few experienced staff members and the hunt has been on to find some new ones. Whether it is testament to my character or, as I prefer to think, Sod's law; I've managed to lose three of the newbies in just over a week. I was under the impression that jobs were few and far between due to the current economic crisis but it appears that people still have the luxury of being able to be picky. Go figure. Maybe it's a true reflection of the current unemployment problem - I'm willing to put money on it.

Dad has finally decided to place the family home on the market. He informed me this evening via text message - sensitivity has never been his forte. I've always known the day would come. Ever since mum died and he met his new partner Shirley, I've known that one day they would want to settle down together, to live out their old age together. I'm happy for him, truly I am as I would never want my father to grow old alone - especially after all he has been through but I can't help the niggling sadness in my heart, knowing that this is the end of yet another era. The house I grew up in that holds so many memories; all of my memories. The house that has seen us at both our highest and our lowest. The house that has shared 21 of my birthdays and 22 of my Christmases. It really is true what they say, if only walls could talk. That house is the only place on this earth that I still feel my mother's presence and though I know that moving on is long overdue, it makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that it will be sold to someone else, someone who knows nothing of those times or even cares. Of course I'll just suck it up, let him know how happy I am for him (not that it would be a lie) and try to forget about it.

For such an outwardly emotionless person, there is something about finality that really affects me. The thought that everything finally comes to an end whether it be life, work or merely our everyday experiences saddens me. It takes my breath away to think about and chokes me up so much that, on certain days, you may even see the appearance of a tear. I have to remind myself constantly that no matter how much it depresses me and weighs on my heart, this is merely a way in which beauty forces it's way through to the world and reminds us that it exists. To love is to feel and to feel is to love and if you are lucky enough to recognise this, then beauty is doing it's job.

For so long now, I have lived in the shadow of my childhood - each time I visit my father, I am transported straight back to my 16 year old self. It is a weight around my neck, knowing that I have found it impossible to move on but strangely, I find it comforting. Those weekends at home in my familiar surroundings comforts me, despite the negative energy that radiates from that place. People have described me in many ways over the years; emotionless, unfazed, tough. I'm none of those things. I am conditioned - so used to abnormal occurrences, situations that many are lucky enough to never have to experience, that I find it normal to find myself in unsettling circumstances.

For both myself and my dear father, that chapter must end and maybe this is the universe's way of recognising this. As with all of life's challenges, I'll grab my surfboard and ride the wave. You never know, I may end up washed up on some tropical island somewhere?

That would be no hardship.

Not at all.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Cleansing.


It is only fitting that a week as stressful as this one has ended in a crescendo of drizzle and gloom. For many this would probably only aid in further dampening the mood but I, for one, am a lover of rain. The refreshing pitter patter of raindrops against windows, washing away the week's problems is the perfect source of calm.

The doors are locked, the lamps are on and we do not intend to move out of the comforting warmth for the duration of the day. Happy Saturday one and all.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

In-Laws.

I have been so stressed and anxious lately. It's an accumulation of things - silly things really but they must be of some substance in order to get to me so much.

The in-laws have been extremely trying. I've always gotten along fine with Adam's mum, step dad and sister - my contact with them is somewhat limited (maybe that provides an explanation) but we're always pleasant and exchange small gifts on birthdays and Christmas. His Dad and step mum are nice, though his Dad is one of those people that takes what seems like a small life time to explain the simplest of things.

Recently, Adam's step dad was admitted to hospital as the result of a stroke. He lost the ability to walk and, initially, he could not really speak but fortunately, his recovery has been pretty good as of late. I've met the man on a handful of occasions - I do not know too much about the ins and outs of his family but I'm aware that his mum left his dad for another man when the children were young. Adam has been doing his bit and visiting Rob in hospital but unbeknownst to myself, his mum has been quietly fuming over the fact that I apparently have not done enough. She has been somewhat nasty towards Adam over the past few days and now, it transpires, is that it is all because she feels I haven't 'been there' for Rob. No-one has spoken to me about it or asked my opinion until two days ago when Adam's sister sent quite a scathing text message to him outlining how selfish I am.

I won't lie, it both shocked and upset me so much so that I haven't really slept much for a few days. I drafted a long message explaining how I felt about the whole thing and mulled it over for several hours before finally plucking up the courage to send it to his sister. I didn't really expect a reply despite the message being both polite and factual ..... and I was right, still no reply. Katie is a keyboard warrior, quick to shoot her mouth off but never has the courage to address the consequences. I was so angry that a) I was being made out to be a selfish, thoughtless person when clearly I am not and b) that I was being dragged into another family's drama that I do not even see myself as part of. I have my own family to contend with without the petty squabbles of another. To cut a long story short, I've told her to get their mum to speak directly to me if it is affecting her that much instead of making mountains out of mole hills.

What gets to me the most is the fact they know how affected I was by my mum's illness whilst in hospital before she died yet there is no trace of understanding from them whatsoever. It is ridiculous just how much courage and preparation it takes to get me inside a hospital for just ten minutes - I'll never even forgive myself for not managing to visit my own Nan when she had a hip operation a few years ago but my family knew and they understood. I'm pathetic and broken and it frustrates me to the point that you would not even understand, yet that is something I have to deal with and the constant negativity of others just makes it harder. Despite having only met Rob on a handful of occasions, I have shown my full support and I believed that to be enough when it is someone that I do not even really know! Silly me for thinking that I was required to be at everyone's beckon call at all times. If my Dad's girlfriend was suddenly hospitalised, I wouldn't expect Adam to be there every waking minute. I think I need to stop as I'm starting to sound like the thoughtless person they're making me out to be.

We'll see what happens as I refuse to stoop to a childish level over it but if I'm honest, I'd rather stay out of their way as they have a natural poisonous negativity around them at the best of times and I'd rather not be affected by it. I just don't understand how people can be so quick to form conclusions and throw around pointless accusations without stopping to put things into perspective - wouldn't their energy be better channelled into Rob's welfare? I was raised to love everyone until they give you reason not to love them, to attempt to understand others as they're all fighting the same hard battles as yourself and to be attentive to the feelings of others. I guess I've failed on the second one - I really do not understand their views.

In-laws ay? Who'd have them?

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Sunny-day.

Today is the first day that it has really felt like spring. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, birds are tweeting and every man and his dog seems to be milling around the streets. It's that strange time of year where humans appear to awaken from the hibernation of winter - they're literally everywhere and seem somewhat confused by the correct attire for this time in February. Old ladies march by in winter coats and scarves, young children run to the parks in football kits, teenage girls meander into town wearing just skirts and t-shirts. It does amuse me.

I took Skye to the park this morning. I was expecting it to be chaos with joggers and fellow dog walkers but I saw no-one the entire time. We've had quite a few issues with her lately - I informed you of her great escape a few weeks back but it appears that her inner Steve McQueen hasn't quite subsided yet and this week as I was walking her after work, she started leaping around and slipped her harness again. It took me 2 hours in the dark, running around the icy pavements before I finally found her hiding under someone's Chrysler Voyager. If there was any amusement to gleaned from the whole debacle, the lady that owned the car came out of her house believing I was a burglar. I calmly informed her that my dog was under her car and it took me a good two minutes to convince her to look. Even when she did realise, she did not find it all that funny. Neither did I to be honest. What angered me more is that during those two hours of running around, I saw her three times and each time she saw me, she just ran faster. Disobedient isn't the word.

Needless to say, she is now on her third harness - a small black number that slips over her nose allowing me to lead her by the face. My initial reaction is that it looked cruel but after looking into it, I realised that it is actually an ingenious design. After all, you wouldn't lead a horse by the body. Not only does the lead clip to the harness but the harness clips to the collar so even if the nose piece comes away, she is still attached. I was dubious upon her first walk but was soon converted - the harness is amazing! Admittedly, it has taken her over a week to get fully used to it but whereas before she was pulling me along like a sled, she now walks naturally by my side. Best pet purchase we have ever made and you also get the amusement of her rubbing against your legs (and anything else she can find) when you first put it on in a bid to remove it.

Due to the subsidence of the pulling and general improved behaviour, I was actually able to take some photos on the walk this morning. Absolute miracle. 









Oh and remember 'C' from this post? Well you were all correct (as per usual) - she handed her notice in  this week. After what seems like forever at the company, she has found another job as a support worker for children with learning disabilities. I can imagine her being amazing in that role, dealing with people and no systems work involved. Sometimes you really do have to trust people to help themselves as, the majority of the time, they actually do.

Have a happy, sunny Sunday everyone!

Saturday, 9 February 2013

One of those people.

Last night, just as I'd settled the dog down in the bedroom and was drifting off to sleep, Adam came in from a night out clanging and banging almost anything he could manage to clang and bang. He wandered into the bedroom, turned on the light and took the dog downstairs. To top it off, he then came to bed and allowed the dog to jump on the bed and smother me.

Needless to say, I ended up in the spare room. It's a small thing in the grand scheme of things but boy was I livid, especially as I'd warned him that afternoon. He's at work now and I haven't spoken with him much today.

Just to further cement myself as a crotchety old man, I've been shouting at children all day. They sometimes kick the ball full pelt at the fence, which usually I don't mind too much as they're only playing but when you hear it a thousand times a day, vibrating along the length of the house, it starts to get to you. I'm slowly working through making my feelings known to each group of kids so I'm sure they'll end up getting the message soon.

Other than that, I've wasted the day lounging around watching horror films as I get no time to myself these days. I work 9-5 five days a week and by the time I get home around 5:45, sort myself out, feed the dog, walk the dog, shower, do chores and ready my lunch for the next day, there really isn't much time left for anything else. Adam doesn't understand why I'm so snappy when he tries to dictate what we're doing each weekend or whenever he leaves me a list of things to do but I guess everything is starting to get on top of me. It's never important, urgent stuff either; I mean, I don't mind doing those things. I don't know how single parent families manage, I really don't but I do know that I have a great deal of respect for them.

Wow, listen to me becoming one of those people whom I'd always vowed never to be. Life can be a cunning little bitch sometimes can't she?


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Poodle parlour.


I'll admit, I've come home from work to many strange scenes over the past few years but Adam bathing the hound yesterday was one of the funniest.

It's odd really, I've never quite grasped the concept of bathing a pet unless they are overly dirty but who am I to criticise? It provides fantastic entertainment.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Equals.

A few hours ago, gay marriage in the United Kingdom was approved in principal so if that doesn't warrant a blog post, then nothing will.

As a gay male myself, I have differing views regarding gay marriage but it has always presented itself as an almost archaic embarrassment in an otherwise widely liberal country. I don't think I would ever choose to marry (never say never) but that is more for personal reasons rather than the belief that gay people should not be allowed - it is just not something I would ever wish to partake in. I do however view the current 'civil partnership' system as somewhat of a smoke screen that segregates sexual orientations whilst at the same time prevents the British government from being labelled as bigots. It's a crowd pleaser, let's be honest. I believe that all humans regardless of race, gender, age or sexuality should have the same choices in life and that it should be down to the individual as to whether they then make those choices. Any law that restricts this automatically gets my back up and the gay marriage bill is the one stickler that I have had my eye on for a while.

Britain is one of the most powerful countries in the world and historically has been classified as a trendsetter when it comes to laws and policies. The fact that, up until now, its gay citizens were still deemed inferior to its straight population made my heart sink. Compared to the rest of northern Europe, we're practically medieval - our close neighbours in Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands have all offered marriage equality for some time now and I'm surprised that it has even taken this long to get the ball rolling. In fact, I honestly did not think the ball would ever get kicked let alone roll.

Imagine my surprise earlier at work, whilst busy tidying up ready for lights out; I looked up at our BBC news screen and was confronted with the headline 'BREAKING NEWS: COMMONS BACKS GAY MARRIAGE BILL'. Yes it has taken far too long and yes it is causing far greater chaos than the topic of equality really should but I have to say that I am incredibly proud of Prime Minister David Cameron for bulldozing this bill through despite going against his own party's beliefs and alienating many of his voters in the progress. It would be easy for the Labour party to pass this bill; the majority of their supporters are left wing liberalists who have been speaking out in support of this topic for many years. It's a sure fire vote-winner for Labour but for the Tories, it's a whole different ball game; staunch centre-right conservatives that have no interest in modernisation. News reports are describing him as a sinking ship, a kamikaze pilot losing the support of his peers but in all honesty, I really do not think this decision has done him any harm. There are thousands upon thousands of potential voters in this country that have never been compelled to visit a polling booth in their lives but this strong brave move from a man that stands to lose everything may just provide them with the encouragement they need in order to pledge their support.

I am a great believer in the idea that everyone should be entitled to voice their opinions and put across their views in a sensible, fair manner but it has angered me at just how many women have had the audacity to speak out against gay marriage over the past few days. The disgusting injustices that women have had to endure and overcome in order to get to where they are today, I would wholeheartedly expect the majority to pledge their support to the cause and to hear the triade of hate speech and ridiculous opinions from some of them has completely sickened me. It appears many feel that the guise of religion allows them to separate the trials gay people currently face from their own plight over the years - something I will never understand as if we still lived in accordance with holy books, women would not even be allowed to present an opinion on social issues, let alone vote.

The religious fanatics will continue to shout (possibly louder than ever before) and legions of bigots will hold on to the shield of 'religious views' in order to practice their hate speech but nothing can take away from the fact that times are changing and today will forever hold a place in history as the day Britain took its final step in the direction of universal equality.

Today I feel proud. Injustice never triumphs; not in the end.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

The (not so) great escape.


This dog is crazy. I know that much is true.

I have to say thank you to those that commented on my last unnecessary crisis post. It reinforced the fact that what I was trying to convince myself was true and I've remained pretty calm about it ever since. That aside I've discovered that, on Friday, 'C' broke up with her life partner of all of two weeks and a good friend of hers advised me that she is beside herself. True to form, love (or the idea of it) will probably eclipse everything and she'll end up backsliding her way through her review period...... and out of the door. Like you all said, we're in charge of our own destinies.

We went on a small shopping trip around the city yesterday. For once, the sun decided to make an appearance; albeit a cold one and we've been meaning to go out and find the last few homely items for a while. We've been hankering after a new wooden coffee table as the glass one is driving us to distraction - I can spend literally 30 minutes cleaning it and as soon as I come back into the room, the dust has settled again. Adam came across a nice solid wooden one in TK Max. It is dark wood and rustic themed but it had a small gash on the side; he pointed it out to the manager who happened to be loitering nearby and she gave us £20 off. Not bad for a day's work! We also managed to sniff out a decent wooden mirror to go above the fireplace. I'll admit, the room has started to look a lot cosier since - as practical as glass is, it will never look as decadent as wood!

Wow, after rambling on about wooden tables and lounge mirrors, I almost forgot to share the complete trauma that occurred yesterday as we were getting in the car to go shopping! No wonder I'm so poor at blogging - I leave all the juicy bits out.

I was in the house frantically running around getting ready whilst Adam was getting Skye's harness on ready to load her into the car. After about 10 minutes, I left the house, locked the door and walked over to the driveway. Adam is usually ready and waiting impatiently in the car for me but this time, no-one was there to greet me. The car was locked and Skye's harness, lead and seat cover were blowing around on the front lawn. I looked around and listened for voices to no avail. I swear to god it was like the case of the Marie Celeste! I walked down the road both ways to see if I could spot anyone but there was no-one around other than a few kids playing in the street. At a complete loss as to what to do, I sat down on the lawn and waited. Twenty minutes later Adam came running around the corner from the park screaming at me to find some dog treats - Skye had slipped her harness and ran off into the woods! Words can't describe how angry I was. I'd told him countless times to make sure that the car was ready before taking her out and to make sure that everything was done up properly. I obviously chose the worst time to start the debate and was answered with a lot of shouting and swearing - he gets like that whenever he's stressed. He jumped into the car and rudely started shouting at me to get into my car and go and look. I was in such disbelief that as he drove away, I ignored my car and walked into the park towards the woods. After turning the corner who should I see tottering towards me as if nothing had happened? Skye. Her tail was wagging furiously, tongue held to one side and she ran right up to me and started to motion towards the front door. I couldn't believe it. As a child growing up, whenever our dogs escaped, it was always a good day or so before they were ever found and returned. This dog, who has only been with us a month managed to find her way back down the main road, through some woods and back to our front door!

My anger at how Adam had spoken to me after losing our dog still hadn't subsided, so I left it a good half an hour before I bothered to call him and tell him I found her. That might sound mean but you won't believe how clumsy and disorganised that boy is at times; maybe a fright like this might do him good. He does everything at rapid speed without setting aside any time to stop and think - that may be good in some life situations but in many of them it results in mistakes and clumsiness. These things happen, accidents happen but I just knew this was the result of him cutting corners and pulling her to the car rather than putting her harness on inside. He cuts corners a lot and I'm always there to pick up the pieces - the laid back slowpoke I am. Needless to say, we're friends again so all is good.

Now I'm going to take a few more pills in a desperate attempt to shake this migraine and pray to god that it will have subsided by morning. I don't get them often but when I do, the world may as well end. The only reason I am able to type this is because I am dosed up on Neurofen - a welcome break from laying in a dark room with no TV.

Come to think of it, what a poor weekend this has been. Such is life ay?

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

C.

My moral compass has been tested to its full capacity this week.

There is a lady that I manage (let us call her 'C') who has been under-performing for as long as I can remember. If you take her as an individual then I'm sure you'll have come across worse but when compared to the rest of the department, her work really is abismal in a variety of ways. She is one of those that is capable of flying through work and always does what she is meant to do; no rod of iron needed yet her output is dire. We are constantly having to spot check issues that she has been dealing with and I guess you could say that she is comparable to that call centre agent that we always get through to when dealing with gas, electric etc that you never fully quite have confidence in. C is 'half job Harry' personified.

The biggest problem I have with C however is not her poor work ethic, it is the fact that she is quite possibly one of the kindest, thoughtful and most buoyant of human beings that I have ever had the fortune to encounter - something that made this week unbearable when I was more or less pressured into embarking on formal disciplinary action with her. I'm no fool - I know that she is never going to be able to meet the stringent criteria outlined in her review and I admit, it makes my stomach sink.

I have never had a problem with work. I adore customers, I enjoy resolving escalations, interdepartmental relationships have always come with ease. The one element of my job that just happens to take up the largest portion of my time is the harsher side of people management and it makes my heart tighten when I think about upsetting others. Getting a team on side, the building of trust has always come somewhat naturally but I guess that comes from the fact that I'm not one of these people that finds it easy to treat others unfairly; I can think of almost half a dozen other managers that most definitely aren't cut from the same cloth. Is it a weakness that I'm so uncomfortable when it comes to discipline? I look at other departments that are run in a manner that even Stalin would shy from. I see how everything is managed to precision with a huge output volume yet the teams within despise their management. Don't get me wrong, my guys are highly competent and can also handle high volumes yet we are always chatting, having a laugh and morale seems high in comparison. The only problem is that when it comes to addressing serious capability issues such as with C, it seems unnatural and almost wrong.

I know I have to proceed, no amount of dragging my heals will change that - it is my job and that is what I am paid to do but I've decided on a half way approach. If I give C my full support and do everything in my power to ensure she is up to scratch, the rest is in her hands. It pains me to see and I am trying my hardest not to dwell on possible outcomes but sometimes it is just too tiring when it comes to carrying the weight of others.

As they say you can lead a horse to water, I just hope this one has enough sense to drink.


Friday, 25 January 2013

Inside death row.

Adam has been out painting the town red this evening so I've been able to partake in one of my most cherished pastimes - watching the most ridiculous real life documentaries. Everyone at work has been banging on about the new two-part Trevor McDonald feature in which he travels to Indiana's maximum security state prison to speak with prisoners currently on death row so I decided to give that one a whirl.

What resulted is one of the most sombre two hours that I think I have ever experienced. Never before has a television programme affected so much that I struggle to shake the words and image from my head hours after it has ended. The nature of such an environment; completely void of what we deem to be 'normal' life, the direct way in which real people speak of such unspeakable crimes committed by their own hands, the idea of legally putting someone to death - a concept so far detached and so alien to anything I have ever known. Just wow.

I guess if anyone had ever asked me prior to watching the documentary whether I believe in the death penalty, I suppose my answer would have been a resounding 'no' but now, after that - I'm not even sure what I think. Seeing such remorse and pain and anguish in some of those murderer's eyes, I can't help but focus on the tragedy of their lives and resulting actions. They are still human beings after all, yet their treatment and presentation could be compared to battery farmed chickens, herded around and referred to merely as numbers. Despite their horrendous actions and sentiments of pure evil, it is unnerving just how unsettling their dehumanisation is. I should be angry and hate those people, I should want them to die, but all I could think of was the tragedy; the discomfort at how low a grade of human being they are in the population's eyes, stripped of everything that once made them individuals.

It feels wrong even typing it. They're evil and that should be that.

I don't think I will ever fully get my head around the idea of a governing body being able to legally take a man's life. It seems so alien, so wrong to someone that was born in raised in Europe where even the strictest of laws and decrees seem child's play to elsewhere in the world. Yes these prisoners have taken lives themselves but is it then right to take theirs in return? Is it right that humans as a collective should be able to choose when it is okay to take another life? On the other hand is it a mere case of punishment fitting the crime? Does the planet have the resource to keep every high risk prisoner locked up for life and is this a valid enough reason to enforce the death penalty?

As with the meaning of life, wouldn't it be perfect if we could just all sit down, discuss the issue and reach a logical conclusion? But we won't. 'Cause we're humans and humans have feelings, lots of feelings with oh so many opinions and views. And after dwelling for hours, I'll take my feelings and send them to bed, still not having made sense of them at all.

I blame you, Trevor McDonald.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Don't worry, be happy.


The snow has been falling thick and fast for the past few days. Lincolnshire received the worst of it last night and even I, the boy who endured many a winter in the frozen tundras of Sweden, found it a struggle driving to work this morning. It does still amuse me how this country grinds to a halt at the slightest sign of the white stuff but I guess you'd never truly understand unless you came to live here; despite having snow almost every single year, there are still no real provisions in place should the inevitable happen. Road gritting is confined to only the busiest of roads, path gritting is non-existant. Buildings and pipework are not built to cope with extremities of any kind and more often than not, many schools are forced to close. It's a shambles and to the rest of our frozen northern European neighbours we're a laughing stock - but I don't think I'd have it any other way. It's part of Britain's bumbling charm.

Skye, of course, is loving the snow. I guess you could say she is in her element and I've been tempted several times over the past few days to purchase a sledge in order to see what she is made of. If it wasn't for work then I really think I would. Damn work. It's pointless even being there with all the schools closed - I guess this is how lifeguards feel in winter.

Lately I've been attempting to work on just how much I worry about the tiniest, most pointless of things. If you asked people that know me just what kind of person I am, anxious would definitely not be on their list of traits - to them, I'm probably one of the most laid-back, easygoing people they know. To be honest, pointless is probably the wrong word - it isn't pointless things I worry about, it's more when someone does something to spite me. It's strange really, it may even be something innocent where the other party has no idea of the impact of their actions but I have this overwhelming urge to get some small piece of revenge. I sound like a complete psycho but it isn't as bad as I'm making it sound.

A good example would be the lady from the end of the street that insists on parking in the one available space outside our house ...... four doors down. She probably has no idea it's an issue and probably does not realise that it then prevents us from parking across our drive like the other neighbours can but it angers me to the point that I just cannot stop thinking about it. The best way to describe it is a strange underlying sense of foreboding, as if you have a constant worry about something that you need to do, no matter how much you try and forget it.

I've been trying to put those 'little' worries into perspective and recognise the logic behind them. It's helping a great deal and I haven't experienced that underlying feeling much at all lately. Don't get me wrong, it's easier said than done but by learning to chill out and understand the sheer insignificance of our constant worries, it really does help us to become more tolerable, decent people. As with most things, I guess it comes best with age - time builds and heals in multiple ways.

I suppose now I am starting to understand just how my Grandparents and the other elders in my life managed to achieve such a heightened sense of calm and tranquility - they've recognised that worrying is simply just not worth it.

I'd just prefer to achieve it sooner rather than later.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Skye.


Meet Skye, the newest addition to our rapidly expanding family.

She came to us last Friday after several weeks of 'umming' and 'ahhing' over whether we should take the plunge and adopt a four-legged friend. To be honest, it was slightly more rushed than it should have been but an opportunity landed in our lap that probably would not have arisen again.

She was living with a lady in Barrow after she rescued her from a family that were, let's say, not treating her too well. The lady had raised Huskies her whole life but after her last one died, she had no intention of homing any more. I guess Skye was the exception - she told us that she had to take her in as she would never have forgiven herself had she left her with the old owners. She looked after her over the past year, building her up, training her and getting her back to her ideal weight ready for rehoming. As luck would have it, Adam's hairdresser knew the lady and when Adam mentioned we were thinking about getting a dog, she put us in contact.

Needless to say we have spent a small fortune on dog-related paraphernalia and have had lots of stuff very kindly donated by family and friends. I've grown up always having a dog so the whole thing is kind of second nature to me but I can tell by some of the suggestions that Adam comes out with that it is all slightly alien to him.

She's a two-year-old Siberian Husky so as you can imagine she is obsessed with exercise - she will easily walk two hours a day. It can be quite difficult fitting this in but, to be honest, I'm really enjoying the new routine and exercise - there is something incredibly therapeutic about taking the dog for a stroll last thing at night and first thing in the morning before the regular hustle and bustle of the world takes hold. I'm 9-to-5 but Adam works shifts so she is never on her own long and has a huge kitchen/conservatory to wander around in - we aren't quite comfortable with leaving her in the garden on her own yet as we've been informed that this breed are the Houdinis of the dog world. When Adam is home in the day he takes her on huge walks around the local reserves so by the time I get home she has more or less passed out.

Her whining has been a slight issue and further reading suggests that this is a common trait in Huskies. They whine. A lot. She usually starts at around 5am when she is in the conservatory and it is impossible to sleep so, after a few nights of torture, we finally gave in and allowed her to sleep in the corner of the bedroom. We haven't had any issues since. As strict and condescending as most online Husky forums are, I was surprised to find that most of the owners on there allow their dogs to sleep by them. I guess this is a strange concept to me as all of my past pets have slept in conservatories.

She's a beautiful, kind-natured dog and it is comforting to have an animal around the house once again. The routine that I am falling into is something that is much needed - one of my weakest traits is that I lack motivation and Skye is definitely helping with that. After all, it is those little things that make up our lives and keep it interesting - even if it doesn't feel that way at the time.