Somebody told me to be Mr (always look on the) Brightside (of life)



‘Truth is, I’ll never know all there is to know about you just as you will never know all there is to know about me. Humans are by nature too complicated to be understood fully. So, we can choose either to approach our fellow human beings with suspicion or to approach them with an open mind, a dash of optimism and a great deal of candour.’ – Tom Hanks

‘Half full?’; ‘Half empty?’. Which are you? Or how about, a bottomless refill kind of person? That’s something to aspire to.

‘Some things in life are bad. They can really make you mad. Other things just make you swear and curse. When you’re chewing on life’s gristle. Don’t grumble, give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best… And…always look on the bright side of life… Always look on the light side of life.’ – the word according to Monty Python.

What has possessed me? Let’s see as we wind our way to find out quite what the latest View From The Ground looks like.

I receive daily motivational quotes. Most, to be honest, are no better than the Christmas Cracker jokes from the local Pound / Dollar / Euro, and so on, shop. However, I could really resonate with today’s – “Don’t we love the negatives!!!!! No one puts up a great sign ‘Beware a nice dog’”. Just let that hang like a 3 week old celebration balloon from the garden gate for a minute.

Maybe we should get that sign for Ringo. Yes, he barks. But so does Audrey (joke!). She yaps (JOKE!!). But, he is a rather nice dog. Just ask the local take away delivery man. Ringo has helped his sprinting ability – from the front door of the house to the car in 5 seconds.

It’s a funny old world. No, really, it is. A society governed by laws allows the lawless the ability to do what they want whilst the law abiding get the law thrown at them at every opportunity. Surely, that’s fun. No??? Okay, I get it. You’ve had a bad day.

Joking apart, I do worry at some of the lunacy that seems to go on. We’ve just had an example locally of the lawless doing what they want, when a growing group of ‘travellers’ took up residency on some privately owned sports fields. For a week, they used the fields at their will, causing damage to the sports pitches, using trees for toilets, the dogs doing their stuff where ever. Our ineffectual legal system allowed them to do what they wanted, until at last a notice to leave did the job and off they have travelled to their next illegal parking place. If you see them, can you tell them they left their rubbish and toilet remains behind.

Maybe it’s time for me to remember to look on the bright side. Well, that’s what somebody told me.

Well, we’re all vulnerable to slip into having a good old moan. But, I’m slowly learning to ensure that doesn’t become the norm – just an occasional slip. But, sometimes, an occasional slip is quite nice.

Anyway, just imagine if, rather than half full or half empty, we could all be refillable? Well, think about it. We can! Every day is a new start. Another opportunity to punch the air, or the cat (NO!!!!). Punch the air and celebrate, we’re alive. That’s definitely a refillable moment. We can start anew and just get on with the day. If the news of yesterday was so annoying, don’t let it be the news of today. Focus on what you can effect. And that starts with you.

Whoops, sorry, I’ve gone all preachy. Actually, I haven’t. I’m talking to myself. Yes, somebody told me I’m not always mister bright side. Now, that’s a bit of a killer but I am only human. For reasons unknown, some mornings I forget to smile like I mean it.

But, joking apart, this is a routine I have to undergo every day, to ensure I give me the best opportunity to make sure it’s the best day possible. Not only for me but for #TeamDuke and everyone I encounter during the course of the day.

And, perhaps, this is a routine a lot of us need to go through.  Just think about it, if we see ourselves as refillable rather than half empty or half full, or half broken, or whatever, what a great chance we have of positively impacting someone else. I previous wrote a blog about the effect we can have by having a positive interaction with someone else, for them to then do the same, and that person to do it as well, and so on. The 1 5 10 effect. One person soon grows to five, which grows to ten and then one hundred etc. We can all make a difference.

I can hear the question, but what difference does it make? Well, try it. Try it now? How soon is now? You’ll get nowhere fast if you don’t try.

So, the sermon today is concluded with another quick burst of ‘always look on the bright side of life’. As people say, it’s not a rehearsal, so let’s enjoy it. Yes, we’ll make some mistakes and, yes, we don’t need to follow the auto cue (unlike Mr. Trump).

But, live, laugh, love, and refill.







Without us we are nothing



“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” – Buddha

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.” – Anne Frank

Name 5 people you would invite to dinner. Only 5? Do they have to be alive? (only if you really are going to invite them) And so the deep thought begins. Who would you invite?

Welcome to my perch amongst the undergrowth as I look, with admiration, at the sky. Another random launch into a blog? It’s just one of a series of questions posed at a rather wonderful meal earlier in the week. But it’s a question that really did make me think. Do you invite family / friends? Celebrities? Sports personalities? Beautiful women? World leaders and philosophers? How about homeless people, or lonely people? I bet very few people think that deeply.

I’m lucky in that I get to eat with 5 wonderful people regularly. Maybe not all at the same time. Sometimes, not always in the same room. But, it’s 5 wonderful people.

“Come together as a team to achieve a common goal” = Team. Simple really. But, what am I talking about? Thanks for the question. Here’s the answer.

I guess I’ve focussed on #TeamDuke rather a lot this year. The collective of #TeamDuke started as me, Ben, and Liv, as we rose like a Phoenix from the scorched pit in which we were sheltering. Dramatic, eh?

However, #TeamDuke is so much more than the 3 of us and it certainly isn’t an exclusive club. Anything but to be honest. I now view #TeamDuke as a name for the hope that I believe we can give others through the blogs about our growth to where we are now.

And, along the way, #TeamDuke, as in the collective, has grown and what a joy that has been. The previous blogs have documented our growth but, again, #TeamDuke is not exclusive. The only qualifying criteria is to have an open heart.

So, here we are, already 7 1/2 months into 2017 and what have we achieved? Against a backdrop of world madness, I think we have come a long way but in reality the course of our path has only started.

This year started with the specific objective of making it a brilliant year, certainly better than last year. So far, so good. Through it being a brilliant year that has allowed us to focus better on what we have and on all of those wonderful mindfulness learnings discussed in the last blog – Always On My Mindful aka It’s Not A Sin. Through that, I am keen that we reach out and share our enjoyment of life, our fun, and our gratitude for where we are in the hope of lifting others to a better place.

I found the following anonymous quote this morning ‘Family is anyone who loves you unconditionally’. It really hit me as summing up everything I believe in 7 words. The dictionary definition of family talks about parents and children, blood relatives etc. Well, in my humble opinion, that is complete hogwash. Apart from it misses out on adoption, fostering etc, it completely misses the wider context of family. For me, family are those that are there for you, and who you are there for, unconditionally. Those that are there for you, and that you are there for, no matter who at.

And, that is how #TeamDuke has grown as a collective. A group of unconditionally connected people. A group who also want to reach out to be there for those in their hour of need. But also to be there to celebrate the good and the great.

This is why I see #TeamDuke as a badge. Not actually a badge of honour. A badge of friendship and family.

It’s interesting that since Audrey graced my life / our lives a splint ‘#’ has formed – #TeamDurk – as our families connect. But, let’s not forget the rest of the Duke, Ashby, Kirk, Waller, Smith, Ramsden, etc who have and are gracing our lives. And all of the wonderful friends who have touched our lives and being there to provide strength, love and unity.

The kindness that has been shown has been overwhelming and life affirming and it is my mission to show my gratitude by being there for others in whatever shape or form that is needed.

Without us #TeamDuke is nothing. Without you, we are nothing. With us, we can and will be awesome. Let’s live life like it’s the first day of our lives. Let’s live life likes it’s the best day of our lives. It is, because it’s today. Don’t forget – “What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh.

Thanks, again, for taking time to share in our world. We love it. Everyday (even the rubbish ones, because we have each other).



Always on my mindful aka it’s not a sin


“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha

“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favourite day,” said Pooh. – AA Milne.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

Throw those curtains wide, sang Guy Garvey, one day like this a year would see me right. Well, I’d quite like a day like this every day. Is today that good? As Pooh said, today is my favourite day.

Hello again. A few days break from the corporate world and the words are flowing. The Dark Side Of The Moonie blog reaction was rather overwhelming. It was based on a subject that has caused me some concern for a while and I’m glad I managed to get the blog completed. Thank you for your support. Anyway, that was then and this is now. It’s all a matter of ABC (an 80s song reference).

What’s so good about today? Well, it’s good because it’s Something Just Like This (a recent blog reference).

Okay, let’s crack on with the blog. Thanks for joining me on this latest View From The Ground. I thought I might be distracted as serious words have started on a Book 2. Book 2? What about Book 1? Was that These Wings Can Fly? Noooooo! As the the main author found her crow like wings and flew off in search of the Fifth Dimension (not a boy band reference), that book is confined to history as one of the greatest books of fiction ever written (apart from my bit). If you want a copy, let me know. Any money raised through the sale of the books will be donated to an appropriate charity.

I have several boxes of the book to off-load as the flown crow left them behind in her haste to convert to Archangel status before becoming an end of year celebrity by featuring on the police missing list. If you see her, perhaps mention the books might be useful in the coming colder weather to light the cult (duly spellchecked) camp fires. At the same time, let her know Ben and Liv say ‘hi’. They’re her son and daughter. I think she’s forgotten. She’ll be with a rather tall and glum looking fella. I won’t speak on behalf of his wonderful family. I’m proud to know his wife and sons and her friends. Truly awesome people.

And, before anyone says ‘ooo, that all sounds a bit harsh’, don’t worry, it’s my bizarre sense of humour. I’m just throwing back the curtains and embracing another awesome day in the world of #TeamDuke. I’m in the middle of a 2 week break from work and am loving every day of it. Lots of time with Ben, Liv and Audrey. Lots of walking the dogs. Lots of laughs. Lots of hugs. Lots of living in the moment. Bliss! And, that’s just it, as Buddha said, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

My above words are not dwelling in the past. I have learned to flip the past anger into present humour. And that brings me back to Book 2 – now provisionally titled ‘And so, the door closed. Archangel De-light’. It’s a fictional work, and I’m having fun writing it. Let’s just say, it’s a great release for my unique look on life.

Book 1? That’s going to be a rewrite of the #TeamDuke blogs, in the hope of providing hope, humour, and humility. Title – You Can Call Me Dummy. Maybe? Work that one out. I guess I have circa 50,000 words to work on so watch this space. I just need to become more mindful rather than having a mind full.

Which, miraculously brings me on to topic for this latest blog (spell check just suggested lasagna, which reminds me I need some bread).

Mindfulness – ‘the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilised to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering.’

Okay, that’s the intelligent description of mindfulness. However, the key bit for me is ‘bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment.’

And it’s the focussing on the present moment that is helping to project #TeamDuke forwards.

I guess a lot of the latter half of 2016 was spent dwelling on the past, almost trying to reach backwards and pull forwards all of the good memories in the hope that they could return. Does that make sense?

However, events had occurred which meant closing that book, and allowing a new book to start writing itself.

In reality, and this is where mindfulness has really helped, I am now understanding the need to just focus on today and by doing that, it can truly be my favourite day. Think about it. Try waking up and just focussing on that exact moment. The first positive is – you woke up!

As those who have read previous blogs will know, we now have a dog – Ringo. He was poorly recently, so I let him sleep with me. He’s well again but, he still sleeps with me. However, he is great for practicing mindfulness because the minute he sees I’m awake, he wants a hug, to be stroked, and to be loved. That’s it. No worries about work, money, news, traffic etc. His only thought is that present moment. Bang! Mindfulness captured on 4 legs.

I’ve already written about my walks with Ringo but, again, it’s mindfulness personified – walk, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, look at the greenery and flowers, enjoy the exercise. Bang! Mindfulness on the end of an extendable lead.

Mindfulness is a daily challenge, so I’m not saying it’s easy. Of course my mind / our minds drift backwards but I that’s becoming more manageable. Of course, the wee Scottish person in my life, Audrey, helps more that she realises. Audrey is a gem beyond words. As I’ve told her, she captures unconditional love in action without trying. She’s there for me, and for Ben and Liv. That’s whilst been an awesome mum to Eilidh and Liam. A true blessing that we are together to enjoy today. Tomorrow? When today is my / our favourite day I / we don’t need to think about tomorrow.

So, there you have in. Always being mindful isn’t a sin. Quite the opposite, it’s the thing!

Let’s follow Pooh and Piglet and make sure we make today our favourite day. Live, laugh, love. Breathe in the joy, look at the beauty, and listen to the magic. It’s the only way.

Throw those curtains wide, today being my favourite day will see me right.







Dark side of the moonie


Welcome to a View From The Ground. Yes, another blog but, this time, it’s a slightly left of centre look at a subject which has been high in my thinking for some time. Why? Thank you for asking. Mainly because the subject is something which, in my humble opinion, needs to be looked at.

I’ve been intrigued by spirituality for some time. Partly because I regard myself as a spiritual person but equally because of the various forms it appears to manifest itself into.

So, to start with, let’s look at the definition of spirituality – ‘the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.’

I think that is very conclusive. However, I then looked at Wikipedia and I want to share some words from their page on spirituality: –

‘Traditionally, spirituality refers to a religious process of re-formation which “aims to recover the original shape of man,” oriented at “the image of God” as exemplified by the founders and sacred texts of the religions of the world. In modern times the emphasis is on subjective experience of a sacred dimension and the “deepest values and meanings by which people live,” often in a context separate from organised religious institution. Modern spirituality typically includes a belief in a supernatural (beyond the known and observable) realm, personal growth, a quest for an ultimate/sacred meaning, religious experience, or an encounter with one’s own “inner dimension.”
The meaning of spirituality has developed and expanded over time, and various connotations can be found alongside each other. The term “spirituality” originally developed within early Christianity, referring to a life oriented toward the Holy Spirit. During late medieval times the meaning broadened to include mental aspects of life, while in modern times the term both spread to other religious traditions and broadened to refer to a wider range of experience, including a range of esoteric traditions.’

I hope I’ve not bored you. I just thought the above text was useful to put into context the traditional definition of spirituality versus a modern, I think, more self absorbing definition.

Now, let me set things straight. My words are just that – mine. This is not a view about any religion. I wouldn’t be so insulting to comment on anyone’s religious beliefs. I guess I’m looking at how a more extreme, radical take on spirituality could be taking a stranglehold on something which is meant to be for the good of all.

A sweeping statement? Maybe, but I believe I have experienced enough to get hold of a brush and sweep away.

I’m not into where badges as it were, but when I look at the way I try and live my life – through love, helping others before myself (unless the oxygen mask drops down on a plane – then I follow the pre-flight instructions), not basing my life around material things (any more), and trying to spread positivity – some would pin the spiritual badge on me. And that’s just fine.

There are always turning points in life and I had one a few years ago when I was encouraged – positively – to re-evaluate the way I looked at life. It was a positive turning point.

For some time, it all developed quite nicely. However, I then started to see – in a few others, one of whom you could say I was rather close to – a darker, more ego lead version of what they still claimed was spirituality. Let me expand (not just my stomach).

I’m not sure how many people have come across the ‘significance’ of the number 144,000. Again, to many, this is just another innocent connection into spirituality. I would have to say, I was one of that many. It seemed like a number, or at least 144, appeared randomly. I got almost obsessed – I’d look at the clock – 1.44 pm; a score at rugby – 14 4; etc. Of course, I didn’t obsess at every other time I saw on the clock or every other rugby score. Yes, I was hooked.

It took a significant ‘jolt’ to shake me into seeing this focus on 144,000 was an obsession.

I’ve been doing a little digging into the meaning of 144,000. Here’s one, in that it is a number one that represents ‘either descendants of Jacob (also called Israel in the Bible) or others to whom God has given a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world’.

Interesting! Let’s just repeat that – a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world.

However, let us not forget that 144,000 is mentioned in the Book Of Revelations. The following are not my words but something else that I have found on-line. The Book Of Revelations predicts and forecasts ‘the incarnation and arrival of 144,000 lightworkers who will save earth from the “forces of darkness” during the end times of the kali yuga. Most of the 144,000 lightworkers are now here and in the process of “waking up” to their divine purpose and mission on earth. The majority of the 144,000 are advanced incarnated starseeds from more advanced planets, although some of the 144,000 are advanced local souls of earth. Most of the 144,000 are now in the process of “waking up” and coming out of their long mental and spiritual hibernation, slowly but surely realising that they are here to assist in the great transformation of earth.’

Now, if you are still reading this, I don’t know about you but most of that reads like another language. However, the key part for me was ‘they are here to assist in the great transformation of earth’.

So, straight away, I have a conflict in my mind – are the 144,000 special ones here to have a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world? Or are they here to assist in the great transformation of earth?

Maybe it’s all down to your particular leaning. Or, is it all down to what fits with your own ego? Just throwing that question out there.

Call me naive – go on. ‘Jon – you’re naive’. Thank you. Anyway, as I’ve said earlier, I see spirituality as something which is about looking inwards at yourself to then be able to look outwards to help others. It’s about not being materialistic but about concentrating on supporting a greater good.

So, where does this ‘greater destiny’ fit in?

So, please let me look at this ‘greater destiny’ malarkey. I have been closely connected with someone who believed that they were 1 of the 144,000 and they believed they were in contact with others who regarded themselves as 1 of the 144,000. I seem to remember that 2 of said group felt that they sat at a table with others and in fact I think a group of 12 connected together. Now, thankfully, I wasn’t 1 of the 12 otherwise I would now be hearing screams of ‘Judas!’

Be it my not being one of the privileged or maybe it was my growing scepticism of this collective of chosen ones, but even last year I started to wonder what the mission was this ‘higher order’. Believe me, it was the latter. The idea of sitting around a table believing that I am akin to being one of the disciples is bordering on laughable. As an over weight, over aged, gruff Yorkshireman, I’m very happy in my earthly skin thank you very much. The only hot air I blast out follows a good old Indian meal.

Well, as the 2 referred to above decided that their ‘greater destiny’ was so great that they abandoned life as we know it – i.e. walked away from family, friends (well, one of them had friends), but more importantly, their children, you must question this extreme take on spirituality. Does abandonment of your children and responsibilities fall into the definition of being ‘here to assist in the great transformation of earth’? Let me leave that question hanging there.

Sticking to the debate over whether the 144,000 special ones are here to have a superior destiny with a distinct role at the time of the end of the world or here to assist in the great transformation of earth, does that bring the requirement to operate under a new name – as an Archangel?

I love it, and I can feel a book coming – Archangel Delight.

Anyway, in my plight to truly understand this subject, a quick look at the various definitions of Archangel was, let’s say, insightful. These words I found particularly interesting – ‘Archangel is a classification of angels who have great rank and power.  Apparently, there are three archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer.’

I kid you not when I say that I have seen a communication from 1 of the said 2, signed off as Archangel Michael. I’ll just leave that thought there, with a question – is this quest for the greater good or is this a misguided belief that when the predicted hell reigns on Earth, he with wings and she by his side will rise above the hell and land back on the ground to take their view and to use their skills to life off the land with the other 139,998 life lottery ticket winners.

Don’t worry by the way, I can think of at least 2 predicted world endings that have passed with a whimper – although, when my beloved rugby league team, the mighty Leeds Rhinos were fighting for Super League survival last year it felt like the end of the world.

So, my interest in this extreme form of spirituality has found a group of people who appear to believe that they possibly have a ‘greater destiny’ and an even smaller group who have transformed into Archangels and who, in their higher ‘state’ seem to be gathering a group in their ‘safe’ environment.

Now, I am of an age when I remember a so called group who traded under the banner of the ‘moonies’. For those who don’t know them, the moonies were / are ‘a religious group whose members must obey its rules and teachings completely’.

I am not suggesting anything here, but just throwing it out there. I did have a coffee with a group of moonies in the 80s and was invited to a meeting. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I left it at the coffee – and now drink tea 😱.

The other thinking, at best, is a group of people gathered around an Archangel and partner could be seen as a sect? A sect – ‘a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.’

As I keep saying, these are just my thoughts as I try to understand this extreme form of spirituality which makes 2 (maybe) normal (maybe) people walk out on their children and, one of them, a family to whom they were a pivotal person. Is this normal spirituality or a dangerous extreme version?

Please be assured that I truly respect everyone has a right to an opinion, a belief, but my concern with this ‘version’ of spirituality has grown. I have seen at first hand it’s damaging effect.

Me? Well, I will keep going on my path. To be a reliable, loving, supportive, unconditional father to a Ben and Liv. To be a loving son, brother, uncle, brother-in-law, friend etc to all of those who mean everything to me. And now, a loving partner to Audrey – the truly awesome soul that I am blessed to have alongside me.

Thank you for reading this. I’m not sure how many people this blog will reach out to but it needed writing. Cathartic in the very least.



Something just like this (a blog without #TeamDuke in the title …….. well……..)


👁❤️2 …………………………. !!!!!!!!

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

“Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you.” – Joel Osteen

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

3 quotes. 3 quotes! And the blog hasn’t even got wings, let alone started to fly. Wait!!! Sorry!!!! That’s a previous time. Let’s face it, those wings flew some time ago whilst I continue to look up at the world with delight – and, sometimes, concern – rather than down and oblivious.

So, come and sit whilst I navigate you along another beautiful path in the garden of #TeamDuke. Have I been drinking? Noooooo. I’m just a tad philosophical as I work out where this path is taking me for the blog. As ever, I start with an idea and then ramble on from there.

Following the last blog – #TeamDuke raise a glass and toast routine – I’ve been doing more thinking. I know, I do a lot of thinking, particularly over the last couple of years. I guess I’ve gone through a cycle, starting with ‘where am I?’, then ‘do I want to be here?’, moving to ‘how did I get here?’ and ‘what am I going to do?’. Thankfully, this has been followed by ‘how do I move forward?’, then ‘what do I need to do next?’, and getting to ‘how good is this?’.

And that’s just where things feel they are – how good is this? For me, for #TeamDuke, and for #TeamRingo.

It’s a funny old world. Rightly or wrongly – I think the former – I regularly read the news. Or, at least, I read the news that is published. Of course, we are not told everything. But, then, what is everything? The conspiracy theorists would tell us that our minds are being manipulated. I guess there is an element of truth in that. However, if you are to believe he conspiracy theorists, are our minds being manipulated by them? Think about it.

I remember someone I used to be close to and whose opinion I respected (no name needed) telling me she didn’t read the news anymore because she didn’t need to know what was happening in the world and that it shaped peoples’ minds. So, that being the case, what did she do? My belief, now, is that her mind was filled with the warped views and opinions of others (or, actually, other!) and, in essence, not have a mind of her own. So, therefore, became the kind of person she suggested that the news was manipulating the masses to be. Which is the most dangerous? My view, they are equally so. Of course, the news is read by millions. However, one person can bring real problems with their distorted views on family life and life in general.

It is only now that I feel at sufficient enough peace to be able to analyse such things. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this in my blog.

It’s been a funny old week. Poor old Ringo developed a bit of a worrying cough. I moved his cigarettes (JOKE!). I didn’t really move them (JOKE!!). We weren’t sure what the problem was but, so that I could keep any eye on him, I let Ringo sleep with me. Now, if someone had told me a year ago that I’d be sleeping with a dog, I’d have thought – mmmmmmm, life moves on and needs must. However, a 4 legged dog? Is she from Castleford? (JOKE!!!). (For any reader not local to West Yorkshire, that’s a local rugby league reference).

So, yes, sharing a bed with Ringo. Now, when he was not well, that was all good. However, clearly, he now sees this as the norm so, at some point of the night, into my room he trots and he dumps himself on my bed. Don’t tell anyone but it’s quite nice to have him there. For one, he doesn’t have a go at me for snoring.

It’s been a funny old month. It started with going to see Jeff Lynne’s ELO in concert. ELO have been my favourite band since they released Out Of The Blue in the 70’s. I was lucky enough to see them last year. I knew they were playing Hull this year but, due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn’t have the money to get a ticket. So, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise and emotional delight when Audrey announced she had bought tickets and booked a hotel. Stunning. What a woman! (Have you noticed that I’m obsessed with apostrophes. I’m also obsessed with brackets!)!)!)!)!)

Last Saturday was a funny old day (have you noticed I’m obsessed with ‘it’s a funny old …….!!!!!!!)))). A quiet night out (early evening) was arranged for me, Audrey and the awesome Steve and Susan Ramsden. Have I told you what incredible people they are and how they were there for #TeamDuke in our darkest times? Well, they were and I will always be truly grateful for their friendship. You couldn’t meet 2 nicer people (and I include me in that 🤢).

So, picture the scene – 4 ‘mature’ adults, sitting in a bar enjoying 2 for the price of 1 cocktails when we were told that the deal finished in 20 minutes. The picture is below. I love life. I love nights out like that with Audrey, Steve, and Susan. And it was amusing to see Steve being coaxed into a taxi rather than having that ‘one last beer’.


It’s funny, because, as I have reflected on the blog and read back on some of the previous blogs, if I could have decided where I want my life to be and how I want #TeamDuke to be, I’d have to say it would be something just like this. It’s not filled with financial wealth (quite the opposite!), but it is filled with love, fun, unity, and gratitude. I can’t remember the last time all of those boxes were ticked. It’s filled with honesty, openness, hope, and a willingness to listen to each other about anything and everything. I can’t remember that for a long time. Our house is a home, we are a family (be that #TeamDuke, the Dukes, the Wallers, the Ashbys, and then the friends and so on), and we truly believe in each other and are always there for each other. I don’t need to add any more.

How did we get here? Please read the previous blogs to get an idea. But in addition, we had you the reader, we had each other, and we believed. And through that, we are living and loving a life something just like this.

I hope you enjoyed this latest blog. It would be great if you could spread the word. My dream for the View From The Ground blogs is that they give hope to others. I am nothing special – loud agreement there from many – but who and what I have in my life now is. Honesty, love, and belief.

Have a great day.



#TeamDuke raise a glass and toast routine



👁❤️2 ……………………….. routinely have routine

“Being a father has been, without a doubt, my greatest source of achievement, pride and inspiration. Fatherhood has taught me about unconditional love, reinforced the importance of giving back and taught me how to be a better person.” – Naveen Jain

Routine – “a sequence of actions regularly followed.”

Toast – “a call to a gathering of people to raise their glasses and drink together in honour of a person or thing, or an instance of drinking in this way.” However I prefer – “sliced bread browned on both sides by exposure to radiant heat, such as a grill or fire.”

Så velkommen til mine observationer fra Base Ground, or as I am better saying, so welcome to my observations from Base Ground. I thought I’d break with routine and try a bit of Danish. If I’ve got it wrong, blame Google Translate.

Now, that’s an interesting concept, breaking with routine when the whole purpose of this blog is to raise a glass and toast routine.

Well, now there’s a thought and, as well trodden readers will know, I do like to examine thoughts.

It’s been a while since the previous blog – #TeamRingo – my view from the ground. I loved writing that blog and I hope it was an enjoyable read. I know I’ve banged on about how the life of #TeamDuke has changed in the last year but, with a few last remaining ‘adjustments’ to be made, life is pretty damn good. And, thank you for asking.

I’d be lying if I said things don’t still make us sad. The great Chester Bennington from Linkin Park taking his life this week was heartbreaking. 41 years old, married, with 6 children. Wealth beyond what most of us could dream. Respected by his peers, adored by his fans. But, his tortured mind did not see a way forward so he ended his life. Truly sad. When will the world wake up and understand that wealth and fame do not equal happiness. EVERYONE needs love, support, and understanding from beyond their immediate circle – beyond adoration. This understanding must be focussed on the heart healing the head. This, of course, is in my humble opinion. There is hope for us all, but we need to ensure we can all see that. We need to make sure that we can all see the light. Rest in peace Chester. May you have now found your place of stillness and balance.

I’m grateful for my life and all that it brings – even the challenges (spell check just changed that to ‘chalkboard’).

I now learn from the challenges and use that learning to, hopefully, help others. My life purpose – helping others. Would you believe it? Helping others unconditionally, in the realms of their normal lives and not trying to implant into their minds that there is a high place for them. If you don’t know what I mean, have a look on Facebook where there are several groups / sects trying to ‘reach out’ and convince the vulnerable that there is a way to escape our impending doom. There is, stop looking on Facebook at the groups / sects who are trying to convince you that their way is the right way. YOUR way is the right way! Sorry, rant over. It took me a while to realise that there are 144,000 light energy reasons to realise that ascension is a distraction from the masses doing what actually needs to be done.

Funnily, if you read or hear about some of this clap trap, the world should have ended several times by now. I seem to remember an instance in September 2015 when a disaster was due to strike. When it didn’t, it actually did but only the ‘believers’ would understand. Well, September 2015 is when the Leeds Rhinos won the 2nd of their 3 trophies that year so that wasn’t a disaster for me.

Sorry, I’m making light of a serious subject but I truly worry that groups / sects / cults are forming in a similar way to the moonies and the like. If you’re looking for a cult, join Donald Trump (there goes spell check again!).

Anyway, let’s raise a glass and toast having a damn good rant.

Joking apart about routine, but I guess I have always been a routine kind of person. However, over the last year I have sought to change things around a little bit. A great example is the big shop (for those outside of the UK who don’t understand that term, it is the weekly grocery shop when you stock up on everything you need and a lot that you don’t). I would alway do it on a Saturday. I would have to be on my way by midday. I would have to fill 2 wine carriers (12 bottles). I would need to be home so lunch could be eaten close to 2 pm, etc. Now, I should when I want and how I want. It’s now a month since I last bought any win to have at home. I guess I’ve actually developed a routine of not having a routine.

However, I do love a good routine and I do believe it is good for the mind and spirit. My favourite is when on holiday, Ben and I go out every morning to collect bread and the like for breakfast. W always walk down to the village, wander along the promenade, buy newspapers, look out to see, and then buy breakfast. We talk about the impending football (soccer!!!!) season, the upcoming Leeds Festival etc. Pure joy. I also built into the afternoon of the holiday a good walk with Liv, so that we could have a chat. Well, actually, it’s so Liv can have an ice cream. Whatever it takes, it’s still pure joy.

Talking of the Leeds Festival, which we routinely go to every year, although one routine has been broken this year as Ben is paying for me (❤️), we chose our food type of the weekend and that’s what we stick to. For the last 2 years it’s been good old fish and chips and, for a festival, they are rather good. We even found the same caterers at the recent Let’s Rock Leeds festival. Pure joy!

I know being a free spirit and spontaneous is good and there are times that I’ll go along with the that concept. I just need to schedule it into my routine.

I’m always one for a simple life, so if putting a blend of routine and spontaneity into hat I think I can cope. As I’ve written about this year, 2017 has always being about moving forwards. Yes, #TeamDuke will always need a rant. But, that rant is no longer about looking backwards. It is meant to be about highlighting potential areas of concern that we have experienced and just wan to put out there as a note of caution.

To conclude, what was the purpose of this blog, I hear you asking? Well, the whole idea came about from one of the many reasons why I love our gorgeous dog, Ringo. Routine! Every morning, he joins me for breakfast – as simple as that. I wander into the kitchen, potter around, drop into the dining room to say hi to him. He just lies there until he hears the pop of the toaster and the scraping of butter on the toast. He then appears and sits in front of me whilst we share toast. I used to b such a grumpy pillock in the morning but he’s changed a major part of my life. Pure joy! I even now pick up Audrey on the way to the office so that we can have a catch up. Another routine. Pure joy!

So, there you go. Let’s raise a glass and toast routine. And let’s routine the toast.

Wishing you an awesome day, week, month, year, life. Keep it real because real is pretty damn good.





#TeamRingo – my view from the ground



👁❤️2🐝 in #TeamDuke

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.” – Robert Wagner

Never true words have been uttered from someone’s mouth. It’s incredible that so many people still look at me with those strange expressions. Don’t you dare come near me; I came to the park for a quiet walk, not to have to dodge you and that group of yours throwing that ball; and so on.

But then, in fairness, what do I know from my view from the ground? Well, I’ll let you decide.

Come with me for a walk. WALK?????? Did you just say walk? Oh boy, oh boy. I love walks. I love playing. I love life. Oh yes, I do.

Has the recent sun done something to me? Not really. What isn’t there to like about walking. I just walk, look at the houses and gardens as we walk by, stopping occasionally so that I can make sure the next time we walk this way, I’ll know where I am going.

I use my eyes first, my nose second, and my ears third. Love what you see; savour what you smell; and rejoice in what you here.

We occasionally bump into people on our walks. The talk is always centred on what has just been on the news. Well, I’ll just keep seeing, smelling, and hearing (what I want). The TV is on but unless it involves a round or oval ball I don’t watch it. I just wait until the next time I have a walk.

A lot of people tell me I smile a lot these days, which always makes me feel good. But I am lucky so what isn’t there to smile about? And when I get told, I just smile some more.

I’m lucky for so many reasons. My life changed 2 months ago and it’s just got better. I’ve got a roof over my head, a warm bed, food, water, along with Ben, Livia, Zeekee, and someone whose name changes so I don’t know whether he’s called Dad, Jon, Grumpy, Fatty, or what. But, if I fall on the floor, and roll on my back, he’ll tickle me. I just need to work on stopping my back leg involuntarily kicking as I worry he will pass out from laughing. For the purpose of this dlog (🙈) I’ll call him Jon.

And then, there’s the one who they seem to also give a few names to – dwarf seems to be popular but I’ll call her Audrey, because she gives me treats every time she comes to my house. She’s even there when I go to Susie’s house. Susie is my little friend. It’s funny how I’ve got a little friend, like Jon has. Susie is cute, and runs round in crazy circles while I sit there and just laugh. She’s older than me, so whilst I do think she’s a bit of a babe, if I get any ‘urges’, she let’s me use a cushion to deal with it. For some reasons, Audrey’s children, Eilidh and Liam (my new friends) always laugh at me, and they seem to invite friends to watch. I might start demanding food for these performances. Or they can take me for a walk. WALK? Did you say walk?

So, this is where I reveal my true identity. Yes, it’s a dog blog. I figured it was time to give you a break from #TeamDuke, so welcome to #TeamRingo. It feels to appropriate to give me View From The Ground. I listen to the conversation at home about what they all worry about – terrorism; a horrendous fire in London; poverty; famine; delusional governments; money; Ben and Liv talk about missing their mum. There’s a lot but as soon as I hear the words ‘walk’ or ‘where’s your lead?’ I give them a tilt of the head, a goofy smile, and everything they have worried about seems to disappear because we all jump around. If that doesn’t work, I grab my harness and throw it on the floor. That always works.

You see, I love them. Simple as that. I love them unconditionally. And that’s the magic. I see them and I smile because they are my world. WALK??? Did you say walk? Oh, yes, world. My world is what I see, what I smell, and what I hear. Well ……….. what I want to hear. I believe it’s called living in the day. I see magic in what I see, and that’s what matters. Isn’t it? I see the magic in what I can effect. I smile, I get a stroke or a treat. I bark near the kitchen door, I’m let out for a poo. I sit next to my family when they are eating, they share their food. After they have eaten, they give me what’s left to eat and then I trot round the house until I hear those words, ‘do you want a walk?’. WALK!!!!!!

I love life because, what else is there to do. I love living, I love smiling, I love walking, and I love loving. I want to be everyone’s friend. I want everyone to love like I love. And, if you all tried to see through my eyes, see what I see, you would love life a whole lot better. And Jon tells me, if you all learned how to love like I do, you would be able to change the world.

WALK? He’s just said walk, so I’d better finish. Oh boy, I’m amazed at my typing skills and I bet there’s less typos that he makes.

Have a walk, see the beauty, smell the magic, and rejoice in all of the sounds of nature. Beautiful.