Tales from a boring old man. Chapter 1. A Blank Canvas

As the wind has rattled the windows over the last few days, I’ve had a few moments of strange gratitude. Mainly borne out of seeing some of the winter garden debris get scattered across the local area. However, that is balanced with a resigned feeling of acceptance as the winter carnage from the local area has stepped in to fill the void in the garden. I guess I’d better get the wellies on and get to work. But first, the winter dog poo needs dealing with.

Of course, those who know me will realise I am delighted to have dog excrement to clear. Seriously! Three weeks ago, we feared having to allow our loveable old boy, Ringo, to slide into external sleep following a horrendous seizure and subsequent series of fits. With the magnificent support from his vet and a lot of love from us all, the old boy has shown a fight for life that we can all learn from.

So, here’s to many more months of filling shit bags 😀.

And, the pure emotion of watching my lovely boy over the last 3 weeks leads me to that place of realising and releasing love.

The previous blogs have followed a path through something like 6 or 7 years of my life. Perhaps, at times, a little more open that today’s head would have committed to. But, sometimes, emotion is raw. Emotion is at the rawest when love lets you down. However, today’s head tells me that’s not a reason to deal with your dirty washing in such a public way.

Recent blogs – we’re talking over the last 3 years or so – have sought to be more positive. However, I kept getting caught up in world affairs and frustrations with in inane government we have in the U.K. However, in reality, is a blog which is supposed to be be positive the right forum to take a swipe at such an easy target? Today’s head tells me to back off. For sure, an occasional WTF on social media will still pop up, but a View From The Ground blog needs to frame a more eye catching picture.

So, here we are. Stripped bare. A blank canvas.

Having just reached another milestone age, I experienced two emotions: –

1) Oh hell (or words to that effect) another milestone age. An age when some things are supposed to get cheaper. Obviously, such age related benefits have been eroded over the years as any retirement age has disappeared. But, if I choose to move to Scotland public transport is cheaper / free. At this moment in time, as much as I love Scotland, riding around on public transport all day because it costs nowt doesn’t appeal just yet.

2) Gratitude, as I am lucky to be alive and stumbling.

Gratitude has already been referred to earlier in this piece. Gratitude that my mate Ringo continues to entertain us (as he rolls around the floor with his toy burger being tossed about). Gratitude has also been a key feature in previous View From The Ground words. Why? Because the day I take things for granted, I run the risk of things falling away.

So, with my blank canvas and my brush strokes landing freestyle, the design in mind is one of an expressive nature. One that recognises not all can always be perfect, but it’s one where there is always something to feel good about.

So, let’s see how this moves forward. I always revert to my old mate Google when I’m looking for definitions and quotes as I’m not that well read.

I’ve looked at gratitude several times and this time, it threw up the question ‘what are the two major components of gratitude?’.

It referred to Robert Emmons, a psychology professor and gratitude researcher at the University of California, Davis, explains that there are two key components of practicing gratitude in his Why Gratitude Is Good essay –

1) “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”; and

2) “we recognise that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Bear with the spiritual stuff if that’s not your thing. It’s the concept that I’m interested in. The simplicity of gratitude and the things that occur which should result in that good feeling.

It’s funny, as I’ve just been watching Ringo chomping on a treat that he’s just been given. He’s definitely grateful. Although how he feels his gratitude is simple. Quietly lying there, eating and being content. End of.

Watching Ringo reminds me of the gift of being able to watch him. 3 weeks ago, we were lifting him into the car for another visit to the vet. A massive question was hanging as to how many days, or even hours, were left in his precious existence. So, 3 weeks later, the gratitude to the vets, the pharmaceutical geniuses, and so forth, is immense.

In essence, my blank canvas is intended to be used to create something which presents a bright existence. An world where it’s accepted there will be some challenges but, in amongst those challenges, there is always something to be grateful for.

We all have the chance to seize a blank canvas. We can create something good. We just need to be wise and aware of all of that good stuff that is always there. I hope you find yours. When you do, please share it. We all want to share what’s created your gratitude.

For now, take care.


A girl tying a bow in her hair

That moment, when you hear a song and the light goes on. A line or the story being told or the waves of the music. The opening of the mind as ideas spark. Or memories tumble in. Or images and dreams awoken.

Music is a passion of mine and it’s a space to disappear into. Just to be. To dive in and be lost in the tapestry.

And that’s just where the seed of these words was sown.

Welcome to a View From The Ground. It’s been a while.

That magic of finding a new band to listen to. To pick through their catalogue. To hear their stories. To, again, get lost.

I guess I’m a deep thinker. It could be said I think too much and should just be in the moment. Fair challenge, but I’m comfortable being me.

Through social media, I happened upon a Scottish band called Tide Lines, who were playing at the best venue in the U.K., Brudenell Social Club in Leeds a few weeks ago. So, after a swift download of their 2 albums and other tracks, tickets were bought and a magnificent night was enjoyed. Suffice it to say, we’ll be watching for further live shows and new music.

But there’s a track that caught my attention – Heroes. A song which strikes all kinds of emotions about something that seems to missing in many ways – tradition, with lyrics such as ‘Still I remember when I was told. Stories of evenings and days of old. Nothing to hide and nothing to lose. Down to the hall in their dancing shoes. Where a boy with nothing but hope to declare, saw a girl who was tying a bow in her hair’.

I’ve listened to this track countless times. It invokes real imagery. Imagery of, as it says, days of old. Days of – if you we’re lucky enough to have one – TV with 3 channels. Days of going to a dance at the local hall. Days of enjoying the simplicity of the entertainment options that you had.

Today, life’s way too complicated, in my opinion. I can scroll to channel 980 and still not find anything to watch. I can scroll through countless radio channels and still not find anything to listen to. Even when I don’t want to watch the news, it’s there. Always there.

Can you imagine the girl who was tying a bow in her hair was worried about what size her dress was – because of what some celebrity reality TV character was wearing? Can you imagine the boy with nothing but hope to declare was concerned over the label on his clothes?

It’s interesting how the COVID pandemic has restricted international travel – for most of us. That is, of course, the first pandemic. As I write, we face another, frightening, wave. According to the reports.

Years ago, a summer holiday was jumping on a train or bus and travelling to the nearest seaside town for the best week of the year – literally just down the road.

And then, package holidays became the norm, or the equivalent. A quick taxi to the airport. A quick, or not so quick, flight to our favoured sun seekers destination. One or two weeks soaking up the sun (which we now now is dangerous): eating different food (unless you like home from home dining. Not my thing, but each to their own); quaffing cocktails and other continental alcohol delights (unless for like home from home Tetleys in the sun); reading newspapers because you have to know what’s going on at home.

However, the pandemic, for a time, meant a back to the future period of jumping in the car, or on a train or bus, and hitting the beautiful British coast.

We were lucky to get to Whitby last year. Good old fashioned enjoyment. Cliff top walks, fish and chips the way they should be, a cheeky beer the way it should be, and lots of laughs. Traditional enjoyment.

If I’d have looked closely enough I’m sure there were plenty of people, let alone boys, with nothing but hope to declare. Sweet hope of enjoying this basic opportunity, to get out and just be happy.

For me, life has been made too complicated. We spent too much time worrying.

We worry about the pandemic – understandably. But that worry is also fuelled by 24 / 7 news. News that is confused and confusing. Confused because of the mixed messages from the government(s). And now we have the latest variant to add to the mix. A new level of confusion. A new distraction for the inaction of an inactive government, it might be said. Would I want to be in the government? No! However, those who are in government stood for election and therefore have gone into the job with their eyes wide open.

Sorry, I strayed from the blog theme. I guess I just get angry and a little worried. Like many people.

But, the more we are exposed to, news wise, the more we worry through that exposure. Oh, the dream to go back to news at midday, evening, and night. News from daily national and local newspapers, with professional, qualified journalists whose purpose was to report. Newspapers delivered through our letter box, by a boy with nothing but hope to declare or a girl with a tied bow in her hair.

I suppose what I’m imagining is that time when we just enjoyed life for its simplicity; through what we had and just made the most of that. Not wanting more, with a desire driven by advertising or peer envy. Gratitude is key. Gratitude for what we have not what we wish we had.

Gratitude for having a bow to tie in the hair (figuratively) rather than wanting a hair style of that celebrity, that sports personality or whatever.

It’s funny how everything is so much more complicated. Remember when the options when you ordered a gin. The decision was full fat or slim lime tonic. Now you can have several versions of tonic – dependent on the brand, or lemonade or ginger or whatever. Then there are what feels like 1,003 different flavours. Don’t get me wrong, some are brilliant . But, when you’re at the bar you want to be that boy (figuratively) with nothing but the hope of gin and tonic to declare.

Maybe we should go into the new year with KISS being our desire. As they used to say, keep it simple stupid.

More to come on this theme as I look at how to go back to basics.

With that, time to exit stage left.

Take care.



Let’s kick off with words borrowed from some lyrics by Chvrches in their song, Asking For A Friend. Brilliant song, and this line really resonated – ‘The past is in the past, it isn’t meant to last’.

Welcome to a view from the ground. After a bit of a break, time to break out a bit. All in a positive way of course.

As is the reflective theme with my rambles, what a crazy time we live in. As the French claim they should be to able to fish in U.K. and Jersey water; as many, but not all, of the world leaders have gathered to discuss what an environmentally messed up planet web created; as COVID continued to ravage its way across the planet; we have Insulate Britain gluing themselves to the M25 motorway in the U.K. in the name of ………… well, I’m not sure. All I see is a lot of aged people protecting about, it could be argued, a messed up situation that they have helped to create. I accept, I might be wrong. But, surely, there’s a better way of getting the message out there.

I’m interested in the dispute with France over where the border is in the sea that defines whose bit of the sea / ocean it is. I’ve not traveled that much by boat but, when I have, don’t recall any mid-sea border crossing. Also, thinking about it, are the fish aware of these borders? How do you decide which are U.K. and Jersey fish and which are French or Spanish or Irish or, wherever?

Another year is drawing towards its conclusion. Another year of, ‘what happened there?’ Another year that has been a stark reminder of the fragility but beauty of life. Too many people lost their battle; so, those of us blessed to fight on must grasp every minute of the gift we have been granted.

Now, I accept, I am grumpy. At times, aptly described as a grumpy old man. I complain too much. I have a face that resembles a slapped bottom. In other words, I’m far, far from perfect.

Work in progress some may say. My view is, I am who I am. However, despite the many imperfections, I am driven to find the good. Some days, finding the bad and the ugly is easier. But, then, I try hard to avoid watching Boris Johnson on the news. Joke!! Well, when I say joke, I mean ……….. never mind.

I know I’ve talked before about negative news. There is so much of it. But, my worry, one of my worries, is that we allow the news to drive our behaviour. Now, I like a pun, and the recent petrol crisis is a classic example of news driving behaviour. We get told there will be fuel shortages at the petrol stations so, we create a greater shortage by speeding to fill up. At a local station, I counted 20 cars blocking the main road, wasting what fuel they had whilst they waited. Oddly, who benefited from this? The fuel companies, who were telling of shortages whilst putting up the prices? Surely not.

There are so many examples of bad news driving negative thoughts and negative behaviour. But I have no intentions of listing them.

No. Why? Because I’m dreaming. It’s good to dream and, as we head towards Winter, dark mornings and nights, cold and wet weather, it feels important to dream. Now, I accept, many people like Winter. I wish I did. But, I don’t. So, I like to dream. Warm weather. Sunshine. Long, daylight days. Travel. Leeds United winning. Well, let’s forget the last one. That’s going to happen but I wish it happened every game.

However, generally, dreaming, for me, is good. Although, I do that through setting personal intentions. In work talk I suppose it would be called setting objectives.

However, setting intentions is a way of controlling perspective on the how, when, and what ifs.

As those who know me, a few years ago, times were dark. However, from hitting the personal bottom (don’t miss read that), and after working through a period of getting rid of some anger, the time afterwards has been a case of setting small intentions, small steps, to help move forward. As the line at the start of the blog say, the past is in the past, it isn’t meant to last.

At the time I didn’t realise I was setting intentions initially. I was dreaming of better days. A song told us dreams can come true. But, on reflection, I was laying down intentions for steps to take my life forward. Things to create something better. A life which creates a space to grow.

I’m probably not making sense. For those who have visited these blogs before, when do I ever make sense?

It feels like the purpose for the blogs needs to evolve. For the 7 or so years that I’ve rambled in this open space called View From The Ground, it has been a changing theme. From spiritual nativity, to misguided words in the hope of saving the unsaveable, to tales of lies and betrayal, to anger and vitriol, through to growth, optimism, life being what you make it and reaching out to hopefully provide a smile and food for thought. The last 3 years have been the most enjoyable.

What next? I really don’t know. I enjoy the process of writing, of escaping into a online connection with good people I’ll sadly never meet. And, maybe, just maybe, that’s the next step. Opening doors and possibilities to reach further out and create a space to talk to just those unknown connections. To exchanging ideas and dreams which can them multiple and cause a ripple effect of hope.

Who knows? Until I do know, I’ll dream. Let’s move forward. The past is in the past. It wasn’t meant to last.

Maybe, I’m just asking for a friend.


Negativity stopping the world from spinning

“In a world that has left you unspoken, with surprisingly little to say” – Wrest (from the beautiful song, Poetry)

I think I’ve listened to this song 15 or 20 times since I saw the outstanding Wrest, an up and coming band from Edinburgh. First gig the day after the easing of restrictions in England. The first time in a venue for 16 months and 1 week.

A beautiful celebration of the magic of live music. A moment to just be. A time to fall in love with being in the moment. For 80 minutes, an escape from the negativity that gets spewed out by the minute where ever you stand.

For 80 minutes, it felt like the world was back on its axis and spinning to the sound of the music. I truly didn’t want the music to stop. Another last song please.

So, welcome to the sounds from the ground. The view from the crowd.

I wish I was still there. Standing, watching, listening, dreaming. Sometimes, just closing my eyes and soaking in that moment. The moment that had been only a dream for 16 months and 1 week.

In the run up to England being released from most of the restrictions, we had the mind mess of hope and positivity getting mixed with the constant negative news. Of course, the number of people testing positive and being infected with this horrendous virus is a continuing worry. But, the government constant change of tactics as to which data they rely on only causes confusion. And, unfortunately, you end up asking what is their actual objective?

Now, I accept, I’m not a picture of smiles and optimism. Hard to believe? Ask my family and friends. Optimism is definitely a work in progress. Smiles? It’s not a natural thing. Some people have a wonderful way to just smile. I mentioned the band, Wrest. They just smiled all the way through their performance. It’s infectious. Come to think of it, if smiling is infectious, that must mean my expression of having a face like a slapped ar5e has a similar effect.

But negativity is getting in the way of getting on the way. Getting on the way to being happy. God help us, they don’t want that. I’ve just looked at the top 10 BBC news stories this morning. 6 of the 10 are negative. So, were the other 4 stories positive, moments of hope, opportunities to smiles? Of course not, this is the BBC we’re talking about. The happiness quota is not going to come from that source, unless you want to watch the likes of Gavin and Stacey. Always worth a watch!

So, I looked to Sky News for a glimmer of home. 7 out 10 news stories tell me I shouldn’t have bothered.

Now, I accept it’s a personal choice to look at the news; to look at anything. But, surely there’s some good stuff to report? Surely?? Or, are we just programmed to expect bad news, so, in fact, my brain is tuned into hunting out the negative, axis slowing, news.

Well, I took a new look at the BBC. Still seem to be wallowing in all that is bad. But, and it came in at number 7, I found something good. ‘An 11-year-old boy has begun a 200 mile (321km) walk from his home in Yorkshire to Westminster to raise awareness of climate change.’ Not only a positive story but also about something focussed on making sure the world keeps spinning.

However, of course, I’m looking at the responsibility that others have, such as the on-line news websites, for how we see things. How our day starts, by pumping constantly bad news.

There’s a great line in the magnificent song, Hereafter, by Architects – ‘I’ve been searching through the wreckage. But it’s like standing in the eye of a storm’.

I guess that’s how it feels wading through the quagmire that is the news. I know, there’s a lot of bad news! But there’s plenty of good news as well.

But, of course, we are masters of our own destiny. We are in charge of the filter that we apply to what we see and hear.

We have to create and find our own happiness. It’s that simple. We have to realise that there is bad stuff out there. We have sadness to deal with. We have anger to cope with. We have days which are garbage. But, we have the ability to filter the way we receive those things that we can’t affect – the daily news.

Of course, how we react to COVID, to preventing the spread, to social distancing, to being responsible is critical. Of course, we have to deal with the conspiracy theorists who claim it doesn’t exist or whatever other nonsense these pathetic people trot out.

But, 9 out of 10 news stories are just that, ‘news’. We have no control.

We have to create a state of positivity. A state of mind where we flip our mindset. Easier said than done? Yes and no. Yes – it’s perhaps a big ask to do it immediately. No – if we see it as a work in progress.

I’ve already said, maybe not in as many words, but my natural state of mind has been one of being Mr Grumpy. But, I’m trying. I’m trying to create a positive mindset – most of the time 😀.

It’s there for us all. We can choose. We have the chance to shake the axis and keep this amazing planet that we call home spinning.

It’s worth a go.

Right, with that I’m going to listen to some music and enjoy being in that moment.

Take care.


Well-being from the ground – a view of the sea

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside, as the old song goes.

Obviously, we have all lived through a lockdowned world for the last 16 months or so. In the U.K., we’re lucky in that the travel restrictions were eased a few weeks ago for travelling in the country, and now some relaxation for going abroad . Sensible travel. The ability to travel in the U.K. started at a time when I’d been lucky enough to enjoy a month between changing jobs.

With well-being at front of mind – following the last blog (that seems a long time ago) – welcome to my take on the magic of sea air, sea views, and sea sounds. Seeing as that’s 3 of the senses ticked off, let’s not ignore the taste of seaside fish and chips, and the touch, the feel of the sand.

It’s a bit of a mish mash of a blog, as I started it during my month off; left it; came back; left it, and so on. Just like a good cup of Yorkshire tea, it’s nice to spend time allowing time for the ‘flavour’ to come through. Hopefully I haven’t over-brewed it.

Well-being has been front of mind this year. To be fair, anyone who has joined me with the blogs will know well-being is a passion.

I’ve always being obsessed with the coast. Time spent near the sea awakens all 5 senses, every time. And it’s always so important to fuel the 5 sense; to excite them.

I’m sure it’s the same for many of us, just the sight of the sea awakens memories of the past but, equally, stirred hope for a beautiful day.

I’m focussing on Whitby because I was lucky enough to visit twice during my month off. It’s also a place with special memories.

These recent visits though have really sparked something beyond that normal love of the seaside. It’s invoked a real appreciation of the therapeutic benefits of it.

Just thinking about those visits now makes me want to jump in the car.

The excitement of the drive (traffic permitting); perhaps stopping for some breakfast on the journey; some well chosen music in the car; some beautiful scenery; and then the first glimpse of the sea on the distant horizon. Your mind tells you that you can smell the sea – from miles away.

A memory of my wonderful father convincing us all that we could taste the salt on our lips. All those years ago.

And then the arrival in the car park and the day ahead. That feeling of the worries that you’re carrying slowly rising out of your body and disappearing towards the distant horizon.

The deep inhalation and smell of fresh, sea air. The sounds of the seagulls. The feel, hopefully, of some warmth on your face. The sight of the waves rolling in. And the taste of the salt 😀.

I’ll avoid this evolving into a tourist information blog for Whitby. All I will say is, if you haven’t been – go there. If you have been – go back.

It’s beyond beautiful. The Abbey. The harbour. The beaches. The cliff top walks. The promenade. The town. And, now, Whitby Brewery. Obviously, the multitude of fish and chips restaurants and ice cream parlours is a given.

It’s heaven on earth.

Whitby captures everything that is magnificent about a British coastal resort, and more.

As you can, I hope, tell I love being at the coast. The well-being qualities, for me, are like nothing else.

To just sit, and watch the swelling sea, or the gentle waves, whichever, is the best wide awake meditation I can think of.

The chance to rip off the shoes and socks and feel the sand on the feet. What a shame we can’t just rip everything off and enjoy the feel of the sea on our bodies. Too far! From a personal perspective a passing whaling fleet would enjoy the opportunity to harpoon me. And, well, it’s not a good thought so replace the image with the sight of looking at the beach, with people having fun, and just being at peace.

The seaside is where we can embrace our love for life and, when we return home, have locked in our hearts and minds all of those memories. I always have loads of pictures which I return to daily.

It’s where we can always be grateful for life. But, then, we should always be grateful for the life we have been gifted.

As i say regularly, we have been gifted this life so let’s seize the moment. If you haven’t found that place of happiness. Don’t give up looking. It’s there. It’s not hiding but you might not see it so just focus.

When you find that place, Embrace it and always remember that moment.

For me, it will always be by the sea or with a view of the sea.

I hope you find yours. Whitby is a good starting point.

Just as a footnote, apologies for typos etc. It’s just me.

Take care.


View from the ground -well-being

“Well just beyond the blue horizon. We see the clouds begin to form. Don’t be afraid. We must keep fighting. And cling to courage in the storm” – Ides Of March – Myles Kennedy

I’ve just been reading the news. Reading about the new variant of the Covid-19 virus that is unleashing itself in the U.K. Reading about the impact on the gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions – particularly in England. Reading the panic that is being instilled into the exhausted population.

Of course, it’s important that everyone knows the need to respect and abide by the guidelines set by the government. However, it is absolutely exhausting that for about 14 months now, it’s being all about what we can’t do. Obviously, it’s all for the right reason. This virus is deadly. But, just when there’s hope, this latest variant and the worry it’s causing feels like a serious blow.

I worry for people’s well-being. I was listening to the new album by Myles Kennedy and particularly the stand out track, Ides Of March. The lyrics at the start of the blog stood out as particularly relevant at this time. We must remain courageous at what feels like a storm just as the blue horizon was within sight. We will get there. But, whilst we wait, a real focus needs to be maintained on our own well-being and that of others. We need to reach out to those who may just need to know we are there for them. I’m committed to do that – today.

Welcome to the latest View From The Ground blog.

We have just had Mental Health Awareness Week. It’s great to have a week focussed on all matters mental health awareness related. However, this has to be a daily focus. The more I see, read, and hear, the great the issue is and the more important it is for everyone to appreciate the depth of the issue.

I was looking for a definition of well-being online. I found this, which is a reasonable start.

“Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It’s a complex combination of a person’s physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.”

I hear too many times, still, that people. With well-being challenges are told to get a grip. I remember a ‘person’ saying someone close to them was attention seeking. I’ve heard some many dismissive comments about mental health and well-being.

The above words sum up well-being perfectly by referring to it as a ‘complex combination’. There are so many component parts to an individual’s well-being.

I’m no expert and I am certainly not medically qualified on the subject. I look at it from a heart centric perspective. And I’m worried.

I hear too many times about people struggling. The news is littered with sad stories related to the effects of mental health. And they are just the stories that make the news. They are the tip of the iceberg.

It’s an issue that is not going away. Quite the opposite. So, we have to face up to it.

I’m very conscious of my own well-being pressure points and, like many others, have to have them front and centre of my mind everyday.

The above description states ‘wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life’.

Interesting, I am fortunate enough to be preparing to launch into the next chapter of my working life. Something needed to change and, through various circumstances, the change became a possibility and subsequently a reality. So, it could be said I became aware of how I felt about life and, with a little help, took control. We can all do it.

But, how we feel about ourself and our life has to be a daily process. A daily exercise regime on our well-being – both mentally and physically. As is well publicised, mental and physical well-being come as a partnership. They are a marriage made in heaven. That’s a rarity in itself! That said, for a marriage to work it also needs a daily focus – from both parties. Just like mental health and well-being.

It could be said I’m not the right person to comment on either subject 😀😀😀😀😀.

However, let’s stick to well-being. Obviously, as I said at the start, the current concerns about the new Covid-19 variant is a concern. Other than sticking to Government guidelines, there’s not much more we can do about that. But worry about the possible impact on the easing of lockdown restrictions is a real threat to mental health and well-being.

However, maintaining both physical and mental well-being is something we can continue to work on. I’m grateful to have my regular walks. The target is between 500,000 and 600,000 steps per month. Dependent on the time of day for the walk, it’s a combination of fresh air (always), music or conversation, and great scenery. To be fair, for the year to the end of April, I’ve covered just short of 2.5 million steps. I’m pleased with that after 4 months.

I mention this to try and emphasise this is something that we can all do. I’ve found it helps my well-being significantly, both from a physical and mental perspective. It’s a release from the walls that surround me and it helps with the appreciation of all that is around.

Just a thought 😀. It’s that simple. It’s just what I do. Thousands of others have thousands of better ideas. I hope they can share them. We can all learn about better ways to preserve and improve of well-being. The walking certainly helps my perspective of myself.

And with that, it will be time for a walk soon, so I’ll close.

Take care.


This is a blog

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has opened to us”. – courtesy of Denny Training

A quote that landed in my inbox a few weeks ago and once upon a time it would have had an impact. At the time, it kind of resonated. However, I’m one of the lucky ones. As a door closed, I was grateful to grasp the handle of the opened door and take the opportunity to explore inside. More on that later.

It’s been a tough few weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to experience a lot of what too many people been through. Disruption.

I’m not going to blab on in a ‘poor me’ way. We all know / knew people like that. I guess I just want to explore how we deal with disruption.

So, with that, let’s experiment with surrender and join me on the blue bench to take a reflective view from the ground.

It’s been a while. As was once sung, you say it best when you say nothing at all.

Disruption – “the act or process of disrupting something: a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity, process, etc.”

Obviously, disruption can come in many forms. Let’s face it, the last 14 months has seen significant disruption in global life. From the lockdown disruption, many thousands have had residual effects of the lockdown that have changed their lives for ever. It’s been tough.

But, out of the flames, we have learned to rise like the proverbial Phoenix. Or, in some cases, it may have felt like being out of the frying pan and into the flames.

All disruption. But, we learn. We seek to fix the break in our normal course, and find ways to move towards continuation, even when that continuation is a move towards a new normal. We find a way of life that suits our new circumstances. We learn a new sense of appreciation for all that we had, all that we now have, and all that we can gain.

Am I making sense or is this just a rambling outpouring of words? I hope it makes sense.

I saw a great line from the magnificent BrewDog empire – tomorrow starts today. Those are such great words.

I was presented with unexpected disruption. I didn’t like it. I got angry. I tried to better understand the reason for the disruption. I still didn’t like it but, ultimately, the choice was to remain angry or to find a solution.

Sometimes decisions made that are out of your control can move you to then make a decision that is within your control and that, in itself, can be as simple as seeing the open door in advance of the other door closing.

I guess a learning I took from reading The Surrender Experiment by Michael A Singer was to let go of my own fears; stopping listening to the little voice of doubt and control in my head – and just letting go to where life took me.

The learning helped me to see the disruption not as a problem but as an opportunity.

So, literally It was a case of one door opening as another door threatened to close. As a consequence, I can look back behind the closing door with fondness and pride, rather than anger. I can reflect on all that was good. I can also propel through my new, open, door with real enthusiasm and excitement.

The message the disruption provided was to just go with the flow, ride the wave, and land on 2 feet on the beach (in my case like a beached whale).

I hope we can all learn from Lockdown disruption about how we rose above the chaos it presented. I equally hope that when disruption presents itself to you, you can see an opportunity, not a problem.

And as a closing learning, I’ve sought to surrender to enjoying each and every day in the moment. Have I banged my head and gone a bit la la? Noooooooo. Hear me out – please. And this is just about my own wiring, not judging how others think.

Last week, I was lucky to have a wonderful day with Ben, and Ringo, on the East coast of Yorkshire. The sky was grey, the temperature was cold, the wind blew (that’s the weather), the waves crashed, and we had a magnificent day. It couldn’t have been better.

The follow day, when I was having my early morning walk, the sky was blue, the temperature was cool, the wind was still and, for a second, I thought ……………….. I thought how bloody lucky I’d been to have such a wonderful day with Ben. I knew no kind of weather could have made it any better.

So, there you have it – disruption = opportunity; every day = opportunity.

And, to close, another little gem of a thought – “If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room” – courtesy of Denny Training

Keep well and stay safe.


Learnings from unlocking down

“Start where you are. Do what you can. Use what you have.” – Arthur Ashe

“Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Well, hasn’t 2021 been a blast so far? Party, party, party. Holidays aplenty. Hugs, happiness and hope.

Okay, I accept. That’s the dream. It was the dream. It is the dream. It will be reality. However, let’s be honest, Eckhart Tolle has summed it up in one sentence. The present moment really is all that we have. However, we always have had, do have, and will have hope. And that where my story begins. Hope!

Welcome to my very clear view from the ground as I try to explain what I’ve done to try to unlock the lock that has locked us down.

I know previous blogs have walked through the past 12 months, looking at the beautiful world we are blessed to inhabit, about throwing the curtains wide.

It’s been one hell of a ride and, as we see the light at the end of what has been an ever extending tunnel, I hope we can take so much of what we’ve learned to create a better future post lockdown self. Let’s not waste the last 12 months.

We all know it’s been tough. But as I write this I appreciate how lucky I am in the knowledge it could have been a whole lot tougher. I haven’t suffered COVID-19 and I’m not aware of family or friends who have contracted it. I do know that it’s been hell for those who have, and that’s just those who survived it. The death rate in the U.K. has been so sad and, of course, questions will be asked about why. I’m not going use the blog to make a political statement as COVID-19 isn’t about politics. I don’t need to. The statistics and the denial of the decision makers says enough right now.

So, the question is, to us all, what have we learned? The art of survival is definitely one this. The ability to enjoy recycled TV programmes is another. The repeats have been a joy to behold. And the repeat viewing of series of series has been quite incredible.

But, genuinely, what have we learned from lockdown that we can take as we move forward into the new world? We can’t say back into normality because life will never be the same again.

As lockdown eases, a bit at a time, it’s definitely a time of reflection and, as I say regularly, I do like to reflect.

I certainly think we have learned never to take anything for granted. And I mean anything. After 14 months of waiting, I managed to see my mum. 14 months! Before lockdown, this was an easy, accessible, go when you want, hour’s drive to see mum and Stuart (her legend of a husband).

So, to be able to see her after 14 months, of course it was emotional. But it was also a slap in the face of ‘don’t ever take this for granted’. To all sit there in the sunshine – a bit chilly – talking, smiling, laughing, remembering, and every now and again, all just looking at each other and being grateful for being in that moment. Beautiful.

I’m lucky that I have a beautiful park just over 10 minutes’ walk from the house. In the year pre-lockdown I probably went to the park no more than 10 times. That is scandalous. The park is a place of beauty, where you can revel in the development of nature through the seasons. Since lockdown started, I must have been there over 150 times. Of late, as the daylight hours have increased, it at least a once a day must.

The lesson is certainly to never take the availability of such beauty for granted. Ever.

Of course, lockdown brought those horrible times of me not been able to see Aud. My beautiful partner for the last 4 1/4 years. Very grateful that FaceTime allowed us to ‘see’ each other.

To paraphrase an old line, you never realise how much you need someone until they’re not there. Of course, we are now allowed our walks and some social contact but once full clearance is given, I’ll make sure Aud knows how much I need her in my life (I can say that here as she doesn’t read the blogs).

Resilience has been a lesson. Emotions have ebbed and flowed. The lows and, not quite highs, but the appreciation of life. The last year or so, from a personal perspective, has seen change and is bringing future change. I guess, out with the old – as in lockdown – it’s right to welcome in the new. It’s good to embrace the new. More on that later but, suffice it to say, I’m excited for the change. But, in equal measures, grateful for where I am now.

Lockdown has been a significant time for everyone. It’s been tough for many. It’s been tragic for too many. 12+ months that have shaped our future. For many reasons. Think about it – something as simple as the workplace for those who work(ed) in an office, it will never be the same. And that’s good.

Lockdown will change the way we think. Release from lockdown will, hopefully, mean we spend more time living in the present, living for today, rather than always looking to tomorrow (after the frenzy of booking tables in bars and restaurants has slowed down).

We need to celebrate today. Enjoy the gift that it is. Cram if full of memorable experiences. Reflect at the end of the day that we made the most of the opportunities that were granted to us.

Life has always been precious. The moments that matter should now been seen as every minute we have. Let’s not miss any chances.

Looking back, pre-lockdown, how many of us procrastinated over the simplest things? I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll make that visit to a special someone next week. I’ll go there later. 12 months later …………. If we could turn back the clock.

As I said earlier, the pure joy of seeing my mum after so long. Emotional is an understatement. A joy that will live with all of us who were there for a long time.and, it’s those moments that are even more special than ever.

It’s making sure that we embrace what feels like a new chance to get things right. During lockdown there was a go drive to ensure we spoke to people. Well, now let’s make that same commitment to see people – family, friends, and those people that we know who might just appreciate a knock on the door and a cheery face to greet them.

Just a note of caution here. If you knock on our door, Ringo will kick off. He just doesn’t like it when he hears someone at the door. I know we’ve got him primed for what to do if there’s an ‘unwelcome’ visitor, but family (well, there’s always one exception 🤣), friends, neighbours, postal workers, Amazon delivery people, you are welcome. Please bear with him. And, sorry, there’s no cheery face. I’ve tried. It looks false. Sorry.

And with that,I will continue to wile away my time continuing to absorb my own learning from being lockdown to take into being unlocked down.

Take care. Keep respecting the guidelines. God bless the NHS.


One day like this a year will see me right

“Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha

It feels like Buddha is the source of all wisdom as we continue through this global crisis. Some parts of the globe have faired better than others. Let’s not get into analysing why as I’ll stray into controversial territory. Whilst in the U.K. we look forward to reaching the light shining at the end of the tunnel and we ride the vaccination train of hope, New Zealand bounces to the beat of live music. Whilst the U.K. dithers about when to do what, how, and why, Perth in Australia lockdowns due to one COVID-19 case. Like I said, let’s not stray into analysis.

That said, I do take my hat off to all involved in the amazing roll-out of the vaccine across the U.K. And on the basis of taking my hat off, I’ll lay it here in the U.K., as that’s my home. For those old enough, that’s one to think about.

Welcome back to the view from the ground. The view is the same as it always was. But, then, is it?

A quick look back at Buddha’s words – Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

So, with those words in mind do we live today like Groundhog Day or do we inspire ourselves to make today the best day we can?

That is, of course, dangerously assuming, in lockdown, our Groundhog Day isn’t a brilliant day already. Sorry, I guess I’m being a little self reflective – where everyday can just feel like ………………every other day. That’s not to say that every day I wake up, I’m not grateful. I’m very grateful!

Each week though brings moments of thinking ‘here we go again’. Wake; walk; work; walk; eat; work; walk / run / walk; eat; watch (TV); wash; sleep and do it all over again.

I’m sure millions feel the same – in that immediate moment of thought.

But, and it’s a big but. Not a big butt, or a cigarette butt, just a big but. Time to step outside the ‘poor me’ bubble, take look inside ourselves, as an outsider, and rethink that thought process.

So, referring back to the ‘every morning we are born again’ why do we allow ourselves to think ‘here we go again’? Why not just stop that thought process at ‘here we go!’?

Here we go – let’s make the most of the opportunity we have. Easier said than done? Of course! I am not a morning person at the best of times. And I’m a grumpy old man. But (let’s not go thrown the butt comments again), I’m not suggesting that we all bounce out of bed, arms in the air, shouting ‘yes, here we go, here we go, here we go’.

It’s just case of trying to turn the thought process around from I don’t want to get up, to just get up and own the day.

Try to intersperse the day with moments that matter. For those of us who currently have a job, we are lucky. But then, in that working day, when we have been sitting in the same space that we eat, or watch TV, or sleep, for months on end due to being locked down, set yourself milestones or rewards.

It’s simple – do it in steps.

Schedule time for exercise, through out the day. Walking, running, whatever makes you happy.

Plan your lunch. I like to pre-cook some pasta to have over the course of a couple of days and think about what to have on the other days. It’s better than just think, here we go again (again) and just grabbing something quick. Or nothing at all.

Don’t be glued to a computer screen. Get up, move, do something. Apart from anything, get a few steps in.

Allow yourself a treat. A nice coffee / tea – I drink tea all day but vary it up so each drink feels special, not functional. A biscuit. Some fruit. Whatever grabs your interest – within reason. But, don’t be a slave to worrying about the effects of a little treat. If you grab some exercise – bang, sorted. If you don’t, double bang, you’re had a nice treat, who cares.

Smile. Now, there’s irony. Advice from Jon Duke to smile. Mr. Grumpy himself. So, yes, this is advice to me as well. But, let’s have a reason to smile. To laugh. To skip joyfully through the meadow, singing at the tops of our voices. Well, okay, the skipping bit is for others. But to smile and to laugh. Let’s try it. I will if you will.

And, breathe. Sit back, close your eyes, think of something or someone that makes you happy. And breathe. That will hopefully also make you smile. But, just try it. Hold the thought and enjoy the moment.

To end your day, have some proper rest time. No work. No housework. Nothing. Just rest. Watch some TV – not the news; listen to some music; read a book. Whatever makes you happy.

Before you know, it’s time for bed. Where you can, hopefully, reflect on a good day. A better day.

Hopefully, it won’t just be one day like this that will see you right. Everyday will be like this, and then you’ll be right. You’ll be ready to throw those curtains wide, run up that hill. And believe it is a beautiful word.

Have a great day, and take care.


What is my age again?

“Life has a funny way of turning you into the one thing you don’t want to be.” – Jonathan Levine

Have you ever looked at a group of young people having the time of their lives and felt that pinch of envy? Obviously, I don’t mean right now as we’re all doing the same thing. I mean, when we’re out of lockdown and we’re not in tiers. Hopefully, we’ll be in tears of laughter.

Or is it just me?

Have you ever actually thought ‘I can do that’? Let’s explore my conundrum as I stumble towards the birthday before the birthday where it all falls apart. The up and coming birthday that signals there are 365 days before I have to accept there are some things that I really should withdraw from. Or, should I have arrived at that station already? Some would say yes.

I’m in a pickle. But then, I probably have been for a while. The view from the ground is a tad hazy.

The challenge is greater because post lockdown we will all feel like propelling ourselves out of the house and going just a little bit crazy. Won’t we?

I guess this is a bit personal but, hopefully, the conundrum is something others will relate to.

There a long list of things I enjoy doing where I think, perhaps it’s time to grow up. But, then, in equal measures, is that a problem? Is that they problem? Society places this expectation that by a certain point in our lives we should all behave in a certain way. We should all act responsibly. Or, is that pressure actually something we place on ourselves because we think that is what society expects?

Let’s give an example. Now, as I blab on about, I love music. I love attending concerts. I love the energy of concerts, and I equally love watching the crowd erupt into a swaying mass of energy and pure excitement. I’ve always stood on the periphery of this bedlam (I’m referring to a certain kind of concert – of course). Watching bands demand a circle pit opens, or just instilling the kind of enthusiasm where the crowd bounces – off each other. The collective spirit of being together.

So, why, as I’ve been moving towards respectful old age am I drawn closer to this mass of enthusiasm? Why 3 1/2 years ago was I towards the front for Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, being shunted in every direction, and loving every minute? Why, 2 years ago, was I drawn into the crowd for the same band and bouncing with unbounded energy whilst Frank told us all to get a f@£king crowbar? Why, 3 months later did I join a circle pit with Liv (daughter) fir some fun with Bring Me Horizon? Why, at most concerts, with Ben (son), Aud (The Wee One), and Liv have we edged further into the crowd? (Note: Gaby (Ben’s partner) does come to some concerts, just (in the main) not the chaotic ones).

What is my age again?

And there’s the problem. Am I regressing? Should I give in to pressure and start going to middle of the road, sit down and nod (off) concerts? Don’t get me wrong, mu musical tastes stretch all over place. Jeff Lynne’s ELO, sit and sing. Yes! Bear’s Den, stand and marvel at wonderful music. Yes! Evanescence with an orchestra, sit and cry. Yes! I could go on. To do go on, sorry.

But, it’s the draw to being involved in those incredible experiences of loud, bouncing rock music. Seeing the whites of the eyes of the band, and the passion from the crowd.

I worry. I worry that maybe now is the time to retire from these shows. Or at least from being in the midst of it (or close). Just as I’ve started. Just when I’d shaken off the disguise of who I was pretending to be and become the person I wanted to be.

And, then that raises a question for us all? Who decides who we are and what we do? Is it society? Is it peer group pressure? Is it our perception of how we see others within our age group behaving so that how we think we should behave? Or can we decide to think, let’s just do it?

My problem is, I try and imagine people within my age range who are a lot more successful than me (not difficult) throwing themselves into some of the concerts I enjoy. No way. So, is that one of the many reasons why success as evaded me? I haven’t grown up? What is my age again?

I could list the things where I think – is it time to press reset and accept old age with a grunt of resentful grace? Can you even have resentful grace?

Time to quite social media and those daily updates? Time to stop the 100s of selfies? (Note: surely these are a record of today to share with yet to be born family members tomorrow?) Time to step out from behind the door before leaping out on an unsuspecting Aud (The Shrieking Wee One)? Time to be oh so sensible? Time to watch documentaries rather than another comedy? Time to stop shouting at the referee for another appalling decision? Time to stop????

And all of these decisions to be made in the midst of another lockdown?

Or is it time to stop overthinking? Is the problem that we can just get caught up in a worry about who we perceive people expect us to be, rather than thinking ‘who do I want to be’?

Do we get wrapped up in remembering how our parents were when they were our age and worry that we should be like that? Reality is, the world was a very different place and I do remember my mum listening to the music that made her happy on the radio. Well, I do that, it’s just different music.

Do we always the expectation of others to cloud our own fun loving self so that we morph into an android of so many grey people? I’m not judging others here, insofar as to asking not to be judged.

The world is very different. How we live our lives – out of lockdown – is a different world. A more open world – in the free world, that is. So, am I worrying too much?

It’s a tough one and I’m sure I’m not the only person with this challenge. However, in 376 days from now, the line is there? The question is – will it be the finish line, will it be the start line, or will it be just the completion of another lap and off we go on the next lap? Time to be brave, perhaps.

What is my age again? Should I care? Only time will tell.

Take care.