#TeamRingo – a smile from the hound


A simple seasonal greeting at a time of year when we hope that peace, happiness, fun, laughter, love and joy can by felt be all.




#Team Duke/Durky – Cheese Strings Ham Pie


“Hope that a thousand dreams not lost
Reach out when the birds sing
And lead you home” – taken from A Place To Stay (Victories At Sea)

Cheese strings ham pie? Now there’s a book title to think about. It will have Jamie Oliver turning in his griddle. Or Gordon Ramsey having an f**king kitchen nightmare.

“Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don’t you know. Butterflies all havin’ fun, you know what I mean. Sleep in peace when day is done: that’s what I mean. And this old world is a new world and a bold world” – as sung by many and what wonderful words from the pens of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse.

Welcome to another, yes another grounded view from the, well, ground. Here we are, nearly mid December and nearly the passing of another year. And, I hope that year has been a beautiful one for you. I know the View From The Ground blogs have been my opportunity to share the year of #TeamDuke / Durky and I am grateful to everyone for sharing the year with us.

And grateful, or gratitude, is the bus stop I have chosen to step off the bus at for my ramblings contained within this latest blog. Yep, it’s featured in earlier blogs but it is something that has really hit me in the face like smashes by a tuna whilst gliding around the blue seas.

The thing is, sometimes situations get you down and then it is easy to grab a mat and start sliding down the helter-skelter of despondency. It perhaps feels easier to focus on the have not, can not, and will not, rather than the have, can, and will. True? Well, that’s certainly been a situation I’ve been in.

In truth, I had a choice and, for some bizarre reason, I chose to feel sorry for myself. Mad!

So, apologies if the last couple of blogs have been a bit down in the mouth and, perhaps, a little negative.

But, this blog is a new dawn, a new day – following a right, royal kick up the bum…………….. by me.

What is the point of focusing on the ‘nots’? The nots tie you up in the knots!! And then the knots restrain you and all you can think about is the nots. Well, time to tell the nots to get (un)knotted.

Easier said than done? I can understand why it’s easy to think that but let me talk you through a simple exercise I am working on. It’s something, if I am to be totally honest, that I did a couple of years ago to great effect but, as with a lot of things, I lost sight of the importance of this exercise when I started to look too much AT the ground rather than taking my view FROM the ground. In other words, was looking down instead of up. Too much looking back rather than in the here and now, and at what’s in front of me.

The exercise? To be grateful. And by that I mean TRULY grateful. Not in an evangelical sort of way – unless that’s how you chose to see things – but more of a personal way to me.

It’s not rocket science when the opening gratitudes are waking up and being able to see, walk, talk and think.

But after that, it’s chocks away. Just think, being grateful for something as simple as a mug of tea. However, having a roof over my head, clean water, a kettle, electricity, a mug, and ……………….. a tea bag all come into the gratitude. Then, there is the vision to see what I’m doing, the physical ability to make the tea and to be able to taste the nectar that is tea – not polluted by milk!

And, that’s just a mug of tea! But, in reality and from a personal perspective, I really had taken my eye off the truth of mine and # TeamDuke / Durky’s life – we are so lucky and we need to be grateful for it.

I was in Glasgow last weekend with Audrey and the number of homeless people on the streets was distressing. Their life possessions scattered around them. And then, I have had the audacity to complain about some trivial nonsense in my life. But, we do it don’t we? Don’t we??

The traffic is bad on the way to work. Bad? I should celebrate I have the means to get to work and I have a job to do when I get there and I am indoors, in a warm office, with good people.

I’ve got boring chicken soup for lunch. Boring? I have soup / food. I have the means to heat it – at work, where I have a job.

I could carry on about everything throughout the day where gratitude should be expressed but I’ll leave that as a thought for you.

And then during an evening walk with Ben we started talking about 13 Leeds Festivals we’ve been to and all of the incredible bands – famous bands; bands on the rise; bands who have reached a level but in our minds are brilliant. Yes, we are so grateful for the chance to see these bands – from Green Day to Gaslight Anthem to Eminem to Architects to Madness to Foo Fighters and so on. So lucky.

In a conversation with Audrey we were reflecting on all of the things we have done this year where, ideally, good weather would have been rather welcome. And, every-time, we had excellent weather. And we are grateful.

It’s amazing how, once you start thinking lucky; feeling grateful; not taking anything for granted – it all makes sense. If you haven’t tried it, I would recommend Just sitting down for a few minutes and thinking about how lucky you are – I truly hope. It has certainly helped me remove my poor me head out of my bottom. Poor me? Maybe not quite that bad, but I do look back on a couple of recent blogs with a bit of disappointment. The rest – I love them 😇.

As a closing thought, and very much linked to gratitude, I find it important to remember about the fragility of life and how it is easy to take good health for granted. The more I see and the more I feel, the more I know it is important to respect and celebrate good health and sound mental capacity every day. You just don’t know what could happen tomorrow. Imagine, waking up and not being able to remember yesterday or a yesteryear. Imagine, waking up and looking at your family and not knowing who they are. Imagine, waking up and not being able to do the simplest of things for yourself that you could do yesterday. Imagine, not waking up.

I say all of the above because, more than ever, I am so very grateful for everything I do have in my life. Thank you!






“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey

“At the end of the day, if I can say I had fun, it was a good day.” – Simone Biles

Words are weird, aren’t they. But it’s great to have fun with them. They can also be therapeutic, or cathartic, which is certainly something I have found through the blogs. Almost a release. Mainly a positive release. But, I accept, occasionally a release of, perhaps, negative energy.

So, hello again to another weird working of words for the latest View From The Ground. I hope you are well and working towards the completion of a successful year. Obviously, success comes in different shapes and forms but the key is to have that feeling of it being – hopefully – the best one yet.

I’m already reflecting on the year with real positivity. Yes, there’s been some lows – to be fair, all with a dementor related common theme. Dementor? I’ll leave that hanging like a …………………. well, dementor.

Treading over old ground? I wish. Unfortunately, old ground has a habit of trying to trip you up.

However #TeamDuke / Durky have risen like a phoenix from the flames. Like a roller trying to straighten the path ahead.

It’s funny, as I’ve mentioned before, I have been criticised for some of the references made in these blogs to Ben and Liv’s mother and her partner. Those who see fit to criticise, feel free. Your opinion is just that; your opinion.

I was taught to be honest and I am being honest in my blogs. That’s all I will say. It’s tiring always observing the poor me tactics that are served to Ben and Liv. I’m sure you’ll be tired of reference to it. Sorry. I guess that I hope by being honest about things others will learn. Hopefully.

Anyway, let’s move on.

Christmas is coming and the level of excitement in #TeamDuke / Durky is rising. Ben, Liv, Aud, and Gaby are bursting for Christmas. Me? I’m riding on the wave of their enthusiasm.

It’s going to be a special Christmas for us all, for varied reasons. But it will be special. Those Yule Tide vibes are coursing.

But, the importance of everybody having somebody at Christmas cannot be over stated. It breaks my heart at any time of year to see genuine people living on the streets. People who have been dealt a monumentally horrendous card in their life. People who are on the street through no fault of their own. But at Christmas, it just feels worse. The government is full of false statements of sorting the problem but they and many local councils do nothing to support those in need our help.

I’m not talking about people who choose to walk away from reality. I’m talking about people who have lost their job, who have no money and are kicked out on the streets.

I think we all have a responsibility to raise our voices; make some noise and work towards making a change. Let’s make sure the homeless don’t feel alone.

Okay, so far, that’s a dig at the ‘ex’, a rant and a rile at governments. What next? Let’s be positive.

As we step into Christmas and draw another year to a close, I do start to reflect on what I have learned. And the answer is …………………… love to love; love to live; and love to laugh. Now, the latter would make anyone I work with laugh out loud as, I accept, I am a real grump at the moment. Lots on my mind, lot to sort out etc. However, break through the armadillo like shell and, you’ll see, I’m laughing inside.

I’ve been blessed this year. I have found my true partner in Audrey. Found? Yes, I know, we work at the same company. However, little did we know. But, Audrey, aka The Wee One, is magic on two legs. I’ve talked before about her gift of unconditional love. When you are lucky enough to be brought together with such magic, it’s a true blessing. Thank you.

Watching Ben and Liv grow this year has been inspirational. Despite side show distractions they have grown beyond recognition. Thank you.

Gaby has now entered our world and brought such happiness to Ben. A welcome addition to the Team. Thank you.

Ringo and Zeek have provided such love to the family home. Yes, the family home has been restored to its finer self – rather than the sacred launchpad for the ascendancy to the 12th dimension to regress to a past life and heal the world. Now, it’s home to #TeamDuke / Durky. Thank you.

Sounds like a bit of a year ending blog. Well, watch this space for that. At some point I need to get the Bl00dy book sorted. That’s a great sales pitch – here’s my Bl00dy book. Please buy it! I’ll have a think about a better sales campaign.

And, there it is. You’ll (be) tired of my rants, I certainly am. However, that’s it. Done. No more. I’ve cleaned out the closet. Said what was there. Probably too many times. I’ve had the blog checked to ensure its content is okay. It’s from the heart and, from here on in, that heart will grow from the love that TeamDuke / Durky feed it.

So, until the next time, love to all.






“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” – George Orwell

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

Happy – ‘delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.’

Fork it! You’re at the point in your world, that a new road must be sought. What do you? Collapse in a heap at the road from which you have been force? Or bravely step onto the new, unknown road ahead. Fork it!

Welcome again to the continued progression of #TeamDuke alternatively recognised as their 2018 rebirth, #TeamDurky.

Yes, given the development of #TeamDuke in 2017, as we prepare for the next year I think it only appropriate, like the good Dr. Who, to gently close the door on the year and to then fling it open for the New Year in our new guise.

As I always say, I write these blogs with a positive heart and with the intention to motive, raise a smile and give some hope. Some blogs hit the right note. The last, Sixteen Minutes To Three, missed the target so apologies for that. It’s a learning and something I will monitor. Perhaps too many blogs (he says whilst writing another). As we get close to the end of the year, I guess they will slow down naturally.

Anyway, thank you for joining me and the team. Lots of talk about Christmas at the moment. How different (hopefully) things look this year. We are hopeful not to be joined by the police this year on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Not of our making may I add. Let’s leave it there. I’m sure those responsible will neither be reading this or care how truly damaging their actions were. And, that comment is not restricted to the main characters either. And, before there is any accusations of bitterness or being emotionally damaged, really????? Just think about it.

But, then I’d better be careful what I wish for. Life is good and I’m ever so grateful for that.

This week is a hell of a music week. Between me, Ben, Audrey, Eilidh and Liam we are seeing The Killers, Enter Shikari, Royal Blood, and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. If I’m to be honest, I am lucky enough to see all of these bands.

We all love our music – including Liv and Gaby (although, a bit of work is needed about Craig David 😀).

Music is the ‘luxury’ we allow ourselves. No posh meals; extravagant label clothing; £400 million pictures. But, a few belting concerts – yes. I call it creating memories. I look back on my life and some of my best memories revolve around music. And, that is definitely the case this year.

I know I’ve talked about the beauty of music in previous blogs, but it is such a key part of our lives. I guess we all have memories where we can instantly relate a piece of music to it – good memories and not so good. But mainly good. There are some songs that come to the radio and we instantly change to another channel. I can think of a few.

It’s nice that Audrey and I are already creating a playlist when we talk – with songs that have become special to us in our first year together. Songs like Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay, and Bring Me To Life by Evanescence. Listen to the lyrics. They are effectively my thank you to Audrey for what she means to me. Simple as that.

I know we are lucky to see so many amazing artists and bands, and we are all truly grateful.

But this week has also re-emphasised the strength of #TeamDuke / Durky. With this highs there come the balancing lows which, this time last year, would have sent us into a bit of a spiral. Nothing significant, but our usual reminder of the Poor Me concept in play. However, I am so proud of Ben and Liv in their resilience and strength to rise above the challenges.

So, just fork it. Do you choose the path of being happy, or at least trying to be, or the path of feeling sorry for yourself?

As I hope you know, when #TeamDuke arrived at the fork – without asking to be there – but we chose the road, the path, of being happy. Some days are a challenge but or key wish is to be happy. And to share that happiness.

I think another of our learnings – as I have spoken about before – is to talk. Talk about the good, the bad, and the downright ugly (no, not me!). We get it all out so that we can then celebrate the good, plan how to work through the bad and, when appropriate, hope the mirror up to the ugly.

Now, when I say ‘hold the mirror up to the ugly’ I don’t say that with humour. However, sometimes the best way to deal with someone who creates an ugly situation is to hold the mirror up, to let them see what is reflected back at them.

Just think about it. Rather than reacting with anger, to respond by responding by allowing the source of the ‘ugly’ to see what their actions or comments look like. Let them stand in your shoes. Let them reflect on the effects of their actions and, hopefully, see why those actions are wrong.

Ultimately, the choice is theirs and I would hope they would choose to fork it and do the right thing.

Thankfully the good outweighs the bad and the ugly by a long way. We celebrate everyday having each other. We are grateful for the opportunity that life has given us. We are thankful to wake up every morning and for being us.

So, as the songs go: –

Thank you for the music
We are family
You’ve got a friend
Talk talk
Something just like this
Love is all around us
I wish it could be Christmas every day

Now, that last one is a lead into what will be the last blog ………………. of the year. Or maybe, who knows?

Anyway, that’s due mid-December. So watch out for #TeamDurky; feeling perky, acting quirky and looking forward to turkey (with vegetarian options available).

Take care and don’t forget – when you have to make that choice – FORK IT!




Sixteen minutes to three aka 14 44


“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” – Plato

“My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too.” – Rodney Dangerfield

Interesting quotes to unleash another barrage of wordy (note, not worldly) observations on life as we know it from Base Camp #TeamDuke aka #TeamDurky.

Following the last blog – TIME FOR THE TRUTH – this is another step away from our journey – although pardon me for occasional references. It’s more a case of another look over the wall at stuff that I hope is of interest. Maybe controversial to some. Never meant to offend. But just the View From The Ground on which I walk.

As regular readers will know, I find life interesting. These days, it’s full of love, laughter, and joy. Everyone deserves this at a very minimum. I wish I could find a way to spread it. Like a domino effect. Imagine. That’s part of the plan with the blogs and the eventual book (yes, yes, I know I keep going on about the book. It will come. I’m sure 😄).

But I hope the blogs provide a smile, and give hope – for everyone. I have reflected on some of the darker things in the past, but without that darkness I wouldn’t be able to see the bright light that shines now – family and friends alike provide that beacon. Of course, Ben, Liv, Aud, Eilidh, Liam, and Gaby are the core of #TeamDurky but we are lucky to have some many more people with us.

As those of you who have read the blogs over the last couple of years – via These Wings Can fly or my own site, View From The Ground – I have spiritual leanings. It could be said at one stage those leanings were so severe I nearly fell over.

Severe? Let’s explore. I suppose it’s all down to interpretation. I started on a path of believing that good starts from within and by sharing that good we could work towards building a strong world. In the theory, pretty good. I still feel like that.

But, for a time it all became way too serious. A strange belief in things I didn’t actually understand. Strange connections with people I didn’t and still don’t understand. Beautiful connections with others who remain friends. You know who you are.

I love the beliefs of some who I remain connected with from those strange days. I am maybe not entirely of the same thinking anymore but I have a deep respect for their views – so my following words are my tongue in cheek view and are not to offend – honestly 😄.

11:11. The same number – twice, but with the ability to send people into a complete tailspin. I’m sure you’ve seen it. “What time is it?”. “11 : 11”. “11 : 11 11 : 11????? Wayyyyyyyyyyyyheyyyyyyyyyyy. Do you know what that means?” “Yep – 1 hour and 49 minutes until lunch”.

But, I know to many there is a deeper meaning. Here’s 1 explanation: –

“Some numerologists believe that events linked to the time 11:11 appear more often than can be explained by chance or coincidence. This belief is related to the concept of synchronicity. Some authors claim that seeing 11:11 on a clock is an auspicious sign.”

Interesting, but I see the numbers a lot. However, as I type this I see 20 : 45 – wayyyyyyyheyyyyyy. That means ………… it’s quarter to nine.

I’m not being disrespectful. Perhaps I should go with it and believe I’m seeing an auspicious sign, until it becomes 11 : 12.

What about 144,000. Now, here there are biblical connections, which I truly do respect. But too many people seem to have hijacked this number for their own reasons – I believe. Or, at least the 144 bit, or even 1444. Yes, a bit of extra 4play.

What time is it?”. “14 : 44”. “14 : 44. 14 : 44????? Wayyyyyyyyyyyyheyyyyyyyyyyy. Do you know what that means?” “Yep – 5 hours and 16 minutes to my evening meal”.

I’m not been critical but, to m 14 : 44 = 16 minutes to 3.

But, then, I have a small obsession with the number 23. It started with a film (starring the rather unique Jim Carrey). The Google biog states “A man’s (Jim Carrey) discovery of an obscure book about the number 23 leads him on a descent into darkness. As he becomes more obsessed with its contents, he becomes more convinced that it is, in fact, based on his life. To his horror, he discovers grave consequences in store for the book’s main character.”

Bizarre isn’t it? 23 for a while was a focus. I smile now but what happens when you start to believe a number is more significant than it is?

Looking at the clock and seeing 13: 40 makes me smile. Why? Let’s just say on a working day it signifies we are well into the day 😀.

But I do understand the fascination with numerology. A good friend provided me with a numerology report and it is really interesting – using numbers as a whole. But not to run round in circles like an excited dog because it’s sixteen minutes to three or eleven minutes past eleven. 11 11 is significant as a date – for that there is no doubt in world history. It may also have some significance as two numbers together but as a time? I’ll let you know. I might get a phone call today at eleven minutes past eleven to tell me I’ve got a deal to write the book.

Right, I think that all adds up to 2,953.

It’s funny, when you reflect on numbers in general. Number 1 – regarded as being the top of something. But, you could see the number as the start of something. Which is it? In the employment world where companies use appraisal system, so have number one as being a top performer whereas others have number as under performing. Confused? Yep!

Make that 2,954.

Thanks to everyone who read TIME FOR THE TRUTH. It means a lot that so many read and liked it. I really want to see a shift in how mental health is viewed and managed. With that in mind
I want to finish with some lyrics. This is very much connected to mental health. The focus is on the importance of believing in yourself. If you believe in yourself you are completely on the right path.

I stumbled across this awesome song by American band, Boxer Rebellion – “Love Yourself”. The words speak for themselves. I hope that they connect with you.

“You told yourself
“I’d write a letter today”
Tell the world that you would hurt yourself
Can’t look in mirror much less anyone else

You try to move on from here
But you look like a ghost alive
You can’t think always running in place
A lost soul that won’t show his face

But I know you’re just someone who’s feeling all alone
You’re just someone who doesn’t seem to know which way to turn
If you just ask for help, if you just ask for help
First thing I’ll say is you gotta love yourself

Find it hard to take
Hard to take even the best of praise
A pair of hands that became too tough
A growing armour for whatever they might touch

But I know you’re just someone who’s feeling all alone
You’re just someone who doesn’t seem to know which way to turn
If you just ask for help, if you just ask for help
First thing I’ll say is you gotta love yourself

But I know you’re just someone who’s feeling all alone
You’re just someone who doesn’t seem to know which way to turn
If you just ask for help, if you just ask for help
First thing I’ll say is you gotta love yourself
You gotta love yourself, you gotta love yourself” – Boxer Rebellion

So, there you go. And I’d better go. It’s seven minutes to eight. Wait – 7:53? Think about it – if you add 5 and 3 then take away 7, you get 1. Wow!


Jon 🤡




“I was quiet, but I was not blind” – Jane Austen

“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” – Charles Spurgeon

Welcome to the latest (spellcheck actually changed that to ‘last’ – well spotted Audrey. Although maybe ………), slightly different view from the ground. Different? Well, sort of. This time, just this time, it’s less #TeamDuke; more observational – but still with my happy, sunny disposition sprinkled over it like fairy dust. Glittering in a late summer sun. Warm glow spreading like a warm glow.

Observational? Bu99er! Does that mean I’m going to have a rant? Nooooooooo.

However, as a bit(ter) of an experiment I thought I’d start with a bold title. Maybe to draw the nay sayers? Who knows – or should that be who noses? It can be an interesting experiment- to use a title which catches the eye, but has no real relevance to the subject matter.

Anyway, all welcome onboard, including those who don’t quite get it.

I guess I want this blog to act as a look at another subject that I have a deep passion about. Rugby league? Not today. Indian food? There’s a thought, but no. The ‘S’ word? I’m not sure that it’s appropriate in this media to discuss that. I’m aware that some readers aren’t interested in my obsession about Spain.

I read an article stating that up to 300,000 people a year in the UK leave their jobs due to mental health issues. That’s the population of a medium town.

I also read James Arthur state that he believes his success on the X Factor in the UK was the catalyst for his mental health difficulties. This is a man who has the world at his feet and he has the bravery, yes bravery, to discuss his mental health in public.

Now, believe it or not, there are conspiracy theorists who would state that the mass attention on mental health is the creation of others with an ulterior motive, maybe to strike fear into the hearts of the vulnerable population. Well, and I’ll try and be polite here ……………………… BOLLOCKS! TIME FOR THE TRUTH! Wake up world, mental health / emotional well being is a growing challenge.

The conspiracy theorists speak other ridiculous nonsense but let’s not go there. As I always say, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

It’s not new, but it’s growing.

But, the encouraging thing is people are now talking about their own mental health challenges openly – famous people and ordinary folk alike.

Mental illness / depression lives in a lot of people. Many find a way to combat it on a personal or spiritual level. But many refuse to recognise that those dark moments in life; those days and weeks when the battle to get out of bed is overwhelming; when all you want to do is close the door and be left alone; when thoughts stray into wondering whether your life is worth anything.

My truth is one of realising something was not quite right in 2004. I won’t go into the circumstances but I remember there being a slow built which manifested in mood swings – increasingly swinging from dark to black. I remember days of sitting in a chair in the house and growling at anyone who dared to speak to me.

The key for me though was realising enough was enough before I descended into the real depths. I initially spoke to a helpline but eventually, one day, got up from my desk at work and announced I was going to the doctor.

As they say, the rest is history. A short spell off work (2 weeks), eventual intake of medication (only for 6 months), and lots of talking about how I’d got to where I was.

The key was the talking. Family and friends were very supportive, as was my employer. Another key was to recognise this as an illness not a weakness. For weeks and months I constantly asked myself ‘what is wrong with me?’. I then worried about losing my job, and that could mean much worse. This all built up in my head to the point of being at the fork in the road – deal with it or slide into a place where I didn’t want to go.

And, through all of the above, things slowly moved back to ‘normal’.

But, actually, normal is realising that mental well being is always there and needs daily attention. The threat of depression wandering along and tapping you on the shoulder is always there.

It shouldn’t be feared, though, it should be recognised that it IS an illness. It IS real but it is something that – together we can combat and overcome.

It is so Important to know there is always someone to talk to. Someone who will not judge you. Someone who will not make you feel like you are weak. This was oh so important to me when I realised my depression had swept in again last year. Again, I won’t go into the why – although I think regular readers of the blogs will have a good stab at it. Am I bitter, no! At the time was I? Hell, yes!!

But, the depression did strike and, again, the realisation of the need to talk was critical. Friends, family, and my employer were all incredibly supportive.

I guess this time the cause was more obvious so the way forward was clearer. But, that need to talk was so important. That feeling of not being judged was critical in the self recovery.

And – through not being judged, that understanding it is all illness not a weakness was a relief.

Too many people are too ready to judge. Am I judging? Maybe I am. I am aware that there may be those who observe my observations with a critical eye. Obviously, I love the idea of as many people reading my blogs as possible. The aim is to help and, hopefully, entertain. If they cause any offence or if you read too deeply into my intentions – sorry. Maybe time to pick up a different blog site. I am so very grateful for the wonderful support the blogs receive and I hope for that to continue. If it gets to the point they are not achieving their objective, the View From The Ground will close it’s eyes and slip into a deep meditation for some time.

So, there you have it. The truth. Well, it’s my truth and I know we should all stand it our truth.

Take care. It’s a crazy old world. But, it’s in our hands to turn the tide.



#TeamDuke aka #TeamDurky. Right here right now


“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

“You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it! Develop an appreciation for the present moment. Seize every second of your life and savour it. Value your present moments. Using them up in any self-defeating ways means you’ve lost them forever.” – Wayne Dyer

And so, we are here again. And again, the blog will grow from an idea for a title to a mind blast on what is occupying the minds on the Team.

Welcome to another visual cascade from our step outside the back door. The Step is getting quite busy, as #TeamDuke evolves into a new guise. Like Doctor Who, we have disappeared momentarily, only to reappear, bigger, better, stronger, happier and raring to go.

So, what’s it all about Alfie? Those under a certain age will wonder what the hell I’m on about. Me too. But, then, not really. Let’s continue.

Oh what a circus, oh what a show. Another song reference that will leave some scratching their heads.

But, actually, the circus has left town and an air of calm has descended. The one thing Ben and Liv have craved all year has arrived this week in the shape of them seeing their mother for the first time in a year. A blessed relief all round and an opportunity for them to reconnect, talk, express emotion – rationally – and to find a way to move forward. Simple! I’ll leave it there. Not my show, but I am pleased for Ben and Liv. My inspirations. Perhaps, we can all now move forwards.

Right, and here we are, right now and with a blog to take shape.

As the regular reader will know, this year, I have published a series of blogs charting 2017 for what I affectionately refer to as #TeamDuke. This all started with the blog, creatively called ‘#TeamDuke’. I really marvel at where I pluck these amazing blog titles from.

My plan was, and still is, to use these blogs to provide an insight into our lives, our development, our fun, our sadness, our anger, our happiness – and so on, in the hope that people enjoy the read but, more importantly, take some inspiration into their own life. To realise that there is light after dark. To believe that, by being true to yourself when life throws you a lemon, you can meringue the most of your situation (think about it. It’s not just an 80s dessert) and create a happy life.

A big theme has been around mindfulness; around living in the present moment and celebrating and embracing all on the good things in our lives.

And, for #TeamDuke, a major celebration has been our grown into our alternative name – #TeamDurky. We will always be #TeamDuke but the alternative name recognises the importance of significant changes in 2017.

I’ve written before about Audrey. I’m blessed, yes blessed, to have Audrey in my life. I am lucky to have found Audrey. We had worked together for years, shared a common interest in music, family, and some more, deeper, mindfulness thinking. But, circumstances – with perfect timing – allowed us to explore what life would be like together. Awesome! Audrey is now so much part of the family, as are all parts of Audrey’s own family. So, that gave us #TeamDurk.

And, then, along comes Gaby – into Ben’s life; into #TeamDuke. And, again, she is such a wonderful addition to the family. Fun, caring, and seemingly always reading to make chocolate orange brownies! Brilliant, and so welcome on-board.

So, that gives us #TeamDurky. Just wait for the Christmas blog – #TeamDurky ready to eat turkey (although veggie options available for Eilidh). And, what a Christmas it will be!!

This, of course, does not ignore the rest of #TeamDuke – the family and friends who have always been there for us. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to realise that people are always there for you – but, sometimes, you need to use your voice; to say ‘help’. That said, these days it will be more a case of ‘how can I help you?’. Let’s not forget, it’s a 2 way thing.

In the right here, right now – family and friends have never been more important. Why? They’ve always been important, but I’ve learned to celebrate and be grateful everyday to recognise their presence in our lives.

As I’ve just said, using your voice is so important. Silence can become like a self imposed solitary confinement. But, then, using your ears is more important – maybe to hear a call for help, or maybe to hear that you need to reign your neck in and shut up.

I know I wear my heart on my sleeve and on occasion maybe engage mouth, or Facebook before engaging brain. Thank you to those who have heard or read and guided me gently back to a state of normality. As I said, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I’m passionate in my beliefs and perhaps, just occasionally, say too much.

I know some blogs have caused a raised eyebrow, or perhaps caused a jolt to some readers. My intentions are never to cause hurt or upset. I do write from the heart. I write as a reflection on what I see and what I feel. I write to reflect on #TeamDuke. If my words cause others to reflect, then good. That’s all. But, hurt has never and will never be the intention. If that ever changes, I’ll make sure the blog carries a ‘here comes the hurt’ warning.

Right now, here where I sit – close to the ground – the view is good. #TeamDuke has evolved; Ben and Liv are happy. Their prays have been answered. Me? I’m very happy. How couldn’t I be? Audrey has brought magic into my life. And, I hope that gives hope to those who think there is no hope. I did, how wrong could I be? There is somebody for everybody. Life has moved on and I like it being something just like this.

I’ll end with a few words lifted from an awesome song by Kodaline – I Wouldn’t Be: –

“I wouldn’t be the human I am. Without the friends that let me fly and help me land. Our foundations go deep. I’ll always have a place to sleep. I wouldn’t be who I am.”

It’s a great song and as a whole it is a celebration of family and friends – just like the previous 1,000 words.

And, so I will close this latest tiptoe through the fields of bold that is #TeamDurky, right here, right now. Love to all in the Team. Love and hope to all – full stop.

Dedicated to Ben, Liv, Audrey, Gaby, Eilidh, and Liam. Not forgetting Zeekee and Ringo x.