Simple mind(fulness). It’s rather great to be alive and kicking.


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

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles R. Swindoll

#Love is all around, as Marti Pellow once sung (yes, covering a song by the Troggs) and as each day goes by, I realise the importance of feeling that love – in an exact moment – and sharing that love – in the same moment. Making sense? Read on, please, as I look out from my perch.

Welcome to the first blog in a while. I’ve been thinking of taking the blogs offline for a while. Partly to think about a new direction for them. And partly to shape what has been written so far into some kind of book. Or, maybe I’ll just keep on blabbering on. Who knows 😀.

Anyway, enough of the future, let’s celebrate the present. How much time do we spend looking back and looking forward, rather than enjoying the moment. How often do we say ‘I can’t wait for ………..’, rather than ‘I #love the right here, right now’?

We were lucky enough to see The Architects play at Alexandra Palace in London a few days ago. Now, their music style might not be to everyone’s taste. We love them and I’m so grateful for Ben introducing them to me.

However, The Architects’s story is one of sadness, strength, love and hope. Their guitarist and songwriter, Tom Searle, died not too long ago after a brave battle with cancer. So young; so sad.

The band, including Tom’s twin brother, have bravely chosen to continue and every performance is a tribute to their love for and memory of Tom.

To be one of the 10,000 at Alexandra Palace to enjoy such a magnificent band and to celebrate the memory of such a talent man was nothing short of an honour and a privilege. To feel the emotion and unity between band and audience is something that will stay with me for a long time.

But, one of the many abiding emotions that I came away with was to live in the moment, to enjoy and love what life I / we have because you can never anticipate what tomorrow might bring.

We have a duty to enjoy each and every day that we are blessed with and to share that enjoyment with as many as we can.

And, if a like sImple mindfulness can help us focus on enjoying today, then even better.

I know I talk a lot about mindfulness but, let’s be honest, it’s a bit of an obsession. It’s something that I have to work on personally on a daily basis – as I walk across the greased floor that life sometimes feels like?

I am lucky to enjoy a daily early morning walk so that gives me a great chance to zone out and focus literally on what I can see in front of me, listen to the sounds around me, and intake deep lungs full of the fresh morning air.

The challenge, of course, is not allowing the mind to become cluttered with what I need to at work, things that are going on at home, or whether the Leeds Rhinos are going to win the next game.

To win the challenge though is magnificent and very grounding.

Practicing simple mindfulness in the car on the way to work is also magnificent – providing I keep an eye on the road in front and behind of course. It’s a great method for reducing road rage to start with – and that is a daily challenge. It’s also a super way of not overthinking. In fact, it’s a great way of not thinking.

It’s all good though. The passage that #TeamDurky walks remains strong. We are lucky to be just that – a team. As has been charted over the last few months #TeamDuke evolved into #TeamDurk with the arrival of Audrey, and then #TeamDurky with Gaby coming on board. We have the subdivision of #TeamRingKee, with the wonderful Zeekee and Ringo. That could be #TeamRingSuKee, with the inclusion of Audrey’s dog, Susie.

But, a team we are and I’m proud of the bond that we have. Let’s not forget Eilidh and Liam. They are equally important within the team.

Its good to reflect sometimes. Live for the day with a recognition of the strength you have drawn to help you through the day. Looking back on The Architects. Look at the strength and, as a band and as an entire collective – including their families a friends – the determination they have drawn from their true sadness. I have true admiration on how they appear to focus on today but also how they also share their emotions openly with their fans.

We need to be there for each other. And in these rather challenging times that is more important than ever. Look at the true horror of the latest school shooting in the USA. How long must this go on? Guns available freely. Evil peddled on the dark web. Maniacs apparently reported to the FBI who appear clueless. And more innocent people lose their lives. The killer is remorseful. Whoopy doo.

The issue is far greater than one maniac. But, let’s not focus on the issue right now. Let’s focus on the poor souls who went to school never to come home. Let’s focus on the family and friends who will never see their loved ones again. Let’s focus on those who had to witness the true horror that what was happening right in front of them. And let’s focus on the emergency services who has to deal with after math.

And, when I see such atrocities happening around the world I give thanks for every day that I am blessed with.

So, yes, it’s great to be alive and kicking. It really is. I hope the same applies to you. I hope your life is filled with #love, laughter, and unity. I hope you have family and friends who you can share your #love with.

Keep well. Keep smiling. Keep real.

Thank you.







A cat. A dog. Time to paws for thought.



“Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” ― Mary Bly

“Dogs will give you unconditional love until the day they die. Cats will make you pay for every mistake you’ve ever made since the day you were born.”
― Oliver Gaspirtz, A Treasury of Pet

“If someone had told me 2 years ago that I would have a cat and a dog and love them so much, I’d have laughed at them” – me!!!

And the last quote is where the latest blog starts. A cat. A dog. You couldn’t make it up.

I’ve always had a leaning towards animals. But, equally, I was always a bit nervous around them; perhaps a little scared. I certainly had no intention of allowing an animal (Ben and Liv excluded 😀) to set foot in the house. All that hair and dirt and puke and pooh. No way.

And then that fateful day just over 2 years ago, when It was mentioned to Liv that a rescue centre had taken in some cats that were looking for a home. And, clearly, I’d had a glass of wine when the question was asked ……. could she? Could we? And, I said ‘maybe’. Never, ever say ‘maybe’. That always means YES!

You see, I was always the blocker but, in that moment of ‘maybe’ that block was mysteriously removed. I had said ‘yes’. I should have known but, before I knew it, a trip was arranged to said cat rescue centre and before I could say ‘Me? (H)ow?’, a 6 month old Zeekee was yelling ‘meow’ through the vent holes of her travel case as we brought her home. Purrfect!

Clearly, Liv was delighted with this addition to the family, whilst Ben and I looked at this timid 4 legged creature wondering what had happened. To paraphrase a song by 70s legends Hot Chocolate, ‘it started with a maybe’.

But, a beautiful addition to the family Zeekee is. She’s a house cat, rather than marauding outdoors and bringing dead mice and birds as gifts. Her presents tend to be either another stinker being deposited in her Shit Box or a trail of 3 or 4 lumps of puke as she rids herself of the fur that she has swallowed whilst cleaning. If cats are that intelligent why haven’t they realised swallowing fur is not good. Then again, it’s not her that has to clean up. I’m just trying to train her to do this when Aud is at the house. Zeekee is such a key part #TeamDurky. Peaceful, serene, beautiful. Anyway, enough about me. Zeekee’s very special as well.

A beautiful thing with Zeekee is the way she pads her paws when she wants a stroke or just attention. And then, when she is laying, being stroked she stretches her paws in and out in bliss. It’s very therapeutic, stroking her and watching her paws. In that moment, everything else in the world just falls away. I’ve got to say, I just love the #cat.

And then, we move on, just short of a year from Zeekee’s arrival – Liv raised the question of a dog. She’d wanted a dog from a very young age but, again, I was the blocker. Too much like hard work. How would we look after a dog? But, again Mr Maybe struck. And then, Mr Maybe became Mr Let’s Have A Look.

We agreed, maybe for Liv’s birthday. My cunning plan was that Liv would lose interest. We did a couple Dog Trust visits and then things went quiet. However, Tenacious Liv then discovered what turn out to be a beautiful small rescue centre near Hull. Originally, she identified a lovely dog for us to visit. However, to cut a long story short, our visit turned into 3 visits – having being introduced to Ringo on the first, making sure Ben was comfortable with him on the second, and then Liv, Audrey and I bringing him to his new home on the third.

I know I’ve talked a lot about Ringo in previous blogs, but him joining the family was one of the best things we have done.

He’s a handsome, kind, funny, playful boy. Anyway, enough about me. I wish!

His love for #TeamDurky is clear. But our love for him could never be overstated.

He’s often described by a Liv as her therapy dog. Buts he’s that for us all. When you wake up, he shuffles up the bed to remind you how good it is to be alive. When I’m working from home and I get wound up about something and nothing, he plonks his head on my leg with those ‘what’s up Jon’ eyes. When Ben swears at his FIFA 2018 PS4 game, Ringo plonks his head on Ben’s leg with those ‘FFS, it’s just a game’ eyes.

He uses his paws with power – when playing with a ball or trying to make it difficult for Audrey to get his harness on. He uses them gently to give you a little tap of affection or to ask for a treat.

And then, the two of them together. An interesting bond. In the early days, Zeekee would cuff at Ringo with her paw as he walked passed. He would look at us with the look of ‘what did I do?’ She would have that look of ‘I just bossed you big boy!’. Whereas now, best of friends. It’s a joy to see them.

I have to wonder what took me so long. The unconditional love they both bring to the family home could never be measured. Both bring, almost, healing therapy, but bring fun, relaxation, and escapism from all of the madness we see in the world. They both, bizarrely, watch TV, but obviously they don’t see what we do – thankfully.

It’s a wonderful existence that Zeekee and Ringo live in. And for that, I’m grateful, because they’ve made our world bloody marvellous, beautiful, and happy.

A cat. A dog. It’s good to take time to paws (sic) for thought.








“No one should see how laws or sausages are made. To retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making. The making of laws like the making of sausages, is not a pretty sight.” – Otto Von Bismarck

“Writing is like sausage making in my view; you’ll all be happier in the end if you just eat the final product without knowing what’s gone into it.” – George R R Martin

“I am not an intellectual. An intellectual is someone who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso, whereas I just say ‘pass the mustard’.” – Sebastian Horsley

So here we are, 2018 isn’t yet a month old and the blogs have descended into sausage references aplenty. These titles aren’t just plucked out of thin hair (or air). They are crafted references to something, somewhere in the blog where everything ties together. Which means by the end of the blog love and chorizo (and I do love chorizo), love and pepperoni (and I do love pepperoni pizza), love and salami (and ………..), love and battered sausage (………………), love and any other sausage I can reference (…….. guffaw) and unconditional love (time for a breath) need to get mentioned.

Welcome to the butchered ramblings from the View From The Ground or should that be a View From The Dinner Plate.

Love is definitely a feature in the blogs. #TeamDurky is blessed (whoops, the 1st use of the ‘w’ word of the year) to be full of and surrounded by love.

There’s also a define need to lift the spirit of people at a time of so much frustration in the world. I’ve just been reading the latest nonsense that has allegedly spewed from the mouth of Donny Trump. OMG! If true, what the hell is going on? Donny has also cancelled his trip to the UK. Boo hoo! His reasons are no worth repeating. The fact is, in the UK we have managed to avoid the mass protests and unrest that would have followed him. I think Donny needs to understand he is not welcome. We love our American friends; there is a true connection between the UK and USA. But Donny is too bigger risk.

So, the reach of love needs to be stretched to the USA. And, if Donny could step forth and join the human race rather than being an (alleged) (in)human(e) race(ist) we’ll include him.

So, back to the quest for love / of love – real love. Love that you can feel in your heart; love that you can see; and love you can share with as many people as possible.

It feels like 2018 has presented us with few options. We either embrace real love and share it, or we roll up into a ball and allow the darker forces to take hold. Those forces that proclaim love whilst actually seeking to divide society.

I choose the former and so see 2018 as great opportunity to explore love and to seek it where ever possible. And once discovered, let’s share it.

So, imagine my surprise when an early encounter of love came in the form of a bowl of chorizo in scrumpy. Audrey and I had heard rumours of this taste bud sensation – hidden in a quaint little bar in York. OMG! Love in a bowl! You couldn’t make it up. But, it’s the simple things that can bring such unbridled joy. Shared over a beer and a laughter filled conversation. And for our vegetarian friends, a plate of Yorkshire cheeses went down almost as well. For our vegan buddies, there was an option of a rather spectacular salad. I know we are lucky to be able to enjoy such a love feast, and believe me, I will never, ever take it for granted.

As I’ve written before, gratitude, and expressions of gratitude, are a key feature of my life. We should always be grateful for what we have been granted. I guess the title of the blog suggests I have gratitude for for – and, oh boy, I do. But, as #TeamDurky, our blessing to be able to enjoy food transforms into using the celebration of that food to spending quality time with each other.

How many of us take our food into the living room and pluck ourselves in front of the TV, occasionally glancing at our mobile devices for the latest Facebook contact? No? Really?

It’s easily done but I enjoy nothing more than a slice of pepperoni pizza and a slab of peppered conversation around the dining table. Or a salami and chilli panini and a chin wag with family and friends. Conversation – one of the greatest relaxants.

To share conversation with loved ones, priceless. Although, don’t try eating battered sausage whilst discussing Donny the Trumpmaster. You just might spray your nearest and dearest with the contents of that tasteless sensation as you launch into the subject (sorry, I was struggling to insert battered sausage into the blog without suggesting it been place sideways and whole into the mouth of said Donny.

And, again, for vegetarian and vegan associates, think cucumber and Theresa May’s insincere smile.

And, so, time for me to close another love laced lingering blog.

I read a great quote – “It’s okay not to be happy all the time” – Sam Carter (Architects). A man I have utmost respect for. An incredible vocalist in a brilliant band. He and they have been through so much but they are open about their live events – including the sad loss of their fellow band member, lyricist and twin of the band’s drummer. Their spirit is to be admired.

Keep spreading the love. It’s our duty.

Take care.



Where is the love. The love? The love! ❤️


“What’s wrong with the world, mama. People livin’ like they ain’t got no mamas. I think the whole world addicted to the drama. Only attracted to things that’ll bring you trauma.” – Where is the love. The Black Eyed Peas

“And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” – Backroads – Lonely The Brave

Welcome to Top Of The Pops; A View From The Ground style. Welcome to 2018. Welcome to an uncontrollably energetic launch into the New Year.

In the charts today, we’ve got a look at why the blog has started with not one, but 2 excerpts from songs (including one of my all time favourite lines). We’ll look at why View From The Ground will carry on reGarDLess (typo!). And we will look at what we want to focus on in 2018.

Okay, I’m knackered now after a quick burst of energy. Let’s sit back in our favourite chair and breathe. It’s January; it’s windy (the weather) and we have a magnificent year ahead. Well I am keen to launch into the year with a focus on making it the best year yet. Are you?

Do you know that feeling when you’re just about ready to start afresh. You’re excited, you’re ready to go and then whoosh, someone starts a drama. An attempt to have the spotlight firmly fixed on them. Do you know that feeling? So, how do we respond? At the end of the day, we have a choice. Accept a role in the drama, forgetting our own storyline. Or, remain in our own story and to ignore the drama as it’s not our’s to act out.

Surely we should choose the latter. I believe as a general statement we should all choose to remain in our own stories, unless stepping into someone else’s will enhance their story and, in turn, our own. Does that make sense?

Throughout society there are situations that are being created where our natural instinct is to get involved in something we don’t need to. Something where we forget what page we are at in our own story. And, by actually getting involved in this separate drama, can we actually effect its outcome anyway? Probably not.

For 2018, I choose to leave the drama to those who seek it. Leave it to those whose life is perhaps so empty the way they can fill it is by creating drama. Good luck to them. I hope it brings fulfilment and happiness.

Homemade soup – that brings me fulfilment and happiness.

So, back to the Top Of The Pops. Two song lyrics referenced. Why, oh why? 2 reasons – I like the songs, and they have relevance to the blog. Actually, as I’ve said above “And I’ll be the sky and you be the bird” is one of my favourite ever lines from a song. An awesome song anyway but such a simply wonderful lyric.

Where is the love? I have actually written a blog previously with those words in the title but it feels so appropriate again. So much anger in the world; so much blame in society; so much nonsense spoken. Surely, the start of a new year gives a chance for us all to concentrate on our own lives and, where possible, enhance – truly enhance – other people’s lives, but only in the context of their own story.

All of a sudden, by doing the right thing, we’ll find there is the love. The love!

And at Number 2 on Top Of The Pops – the future state of View From The Ground. I certainly intend to carry on publishing blogs, even for 1 reader. This isn’t an ego thing. It’s a passion to lift people and hopefully bring a smile. As I said in a recent blog, perhaps some blogs had become a little, let’s say, pointed. Always for good reason and not written with the intent of being ‘personal’. The blogs were a reflection of circumstances and to help the reader to understand the journey that #TeamDuke, now #TeamDurky, had been on.

However, I want to use the blogs to bring that smile and to hopefully help others. As I said, if that is one person, then I see that as a result. I will be a rich man emotionally. Well, I am anyway, emotionally, as part of #TeamDurky.

Just one word of advice, if you access the blogs from Facebook, they will only be available in the View From The Ground page and my own page (and those I tag). It would appear other options have taken flight for View From The Ground. I guess the blogs aren’t cryptic enough.

And, the top of the Pops for 2018 is where the blogs will go this year and what the focus will be. To be honest, the blogs will be as they were last year – when something pops into my head, which can be committed to writing, it appears as a blog. I’m not sure what regularity they will be and I can’t predict the content.

Aside from the blogs, these bl00dy books need doing. They are both works in progress. I’m really excited about them both but I need to sit in a darkened room, or on a sunny balcony, to get the work moving. The fictional book keeps changing shape and needs to be committed to an initial storyboard. The characters are pretty much mapped out. The finish and start and finish (when it comes out that will make sense) are committed. Let’s see where it goes.

The book based around the blogs needs developing. I keep changing its format, so watch this space. It’s looking like ‘a year of in the life of’ meets ‘rebuilding your life’ type of thing. Positive thinking and other such cliches 😀.

So, there is the love. Where is your love? Why? Find your love first and everything grows from there.

I started with some song lyrics and I’ll finish with a Swedish proverb – “Those who wish to sing always find a song”.

More from the #TeamDurky Centre as it comes through. You never know when that might be.

Take care and enjoy your story. It will make a good read.




A memory jar (and a Happy New Year from #TeamDurky)



‘Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live’ – Anne Sweeney

And so it came to pass, another year draws to a close and the anticipation of a new year swoops in. Anticipation and excitement for another year. A new year. A year to start again? Hopefully, more a case of a year to build on what you have achieved so far. But, also with ‘new’ comes a chance to move on from the old stuff which you have, perhaps, allowed to hold you back?

Welcome to the final view from the ground of 2017. What a roller coaster of a year for blogs 2017 has been. From dark to light. From light to murky. From murky to shining to dark and, now, the brightest of light.

I saw a great quote from the magnificent book by John C Parkin and Gaia Pollini – F**k It Therapy – ‘If you accepted that life is a rollercoaster, could you enjoy the whole ride’.

I kind of wish I’d seen that quote at the start of 2017 as I could have buckled up and given all to enjoying the whole ride. The daft thing is, I will have seen the quote at some point as I’ve read the book. It’s brilliant – f**k it!

But, as 2018 gets ready to unleash it’s morning glory on us, we can decide – do we want to have a year of living in an oasis of the highs, or a year of just sitting there, on the rollercoaster, loving the highs but, also, as the ride goes into a dip preparing for the next exciting rise because the next one will be even better than those already ridden. Does that make sense?

Now, here’s a thought. How about capturing those highs but writing them down. What was the high? Why was it a high? Who were you with? How did you feel?

That idea comes from a wonderful present to me and the Wee One, from Gaby. A memory jar, which is to be used throughout the year to capture those wonderful moments. The idea is, at the end of the year, open the jar and relive those memories. Our intention is that the jar will pop open like a bottle of champagne as it will be so full.

What a wonderful, thoughtful gift and one that already has memories placed in it.

It made me wish I had a memory jar for 2017. As I’ve written before, it’s been a year of magnificent change. Well, let’s face it, #TeamDuke has transformed into #TeamDurky with a detour into #TeamRingo. It could be termed as an emotional and spiritual revolution. The relationships, concerts, laughter, work, University, laughter, BrewDog discovery, finding a love for Scotland, Rugby League, dog, laughter, and so on.

What about your year? As you reflect, has it been everything you wanted it to be?

I find Facebook fascinating, as so many of us tell all about our significant life events. So, I guess that can also feel like an on-line memory jar. I love reading other people’s good news stories or looking at celebratory pictures. I know there are some that find Facebook over the top. Well, we all have 2 choices in life – embrace it or walk away from it. Simple. I accept, perhaps, I share more than the average bear (Yogi) but it’s fun. And,I suppose I have found real enjoyment in celebrating so many wonderful memories.

Here’s a challenge for 2018 – let’s start a revolution from our beds. Let’s take that look from our faces, and stop looking back in anger. Let’s not look back in anger, but instead celebrate the present and look forward to the future.

Again, just think about life being a rollercoaster ride. The one caveat of course is, if you are scared of rollercoaster rides perhaps find another ride – or even, think of a swing. There’s ups; there’s downs. But you can guarantee, if you enjoy your time on the swing equally you’ll be a lot happier.

So, here we go, here we go into 2018. Let’s open the door to a new year. A year which is an even number – YEY! A year in which one of #TeamDurky has a significant birthday. We all have a responsibility to make it the best year yet. Is that a big challenge? I’d say it’s up to us. Do we want to rise to the challenge? Come on!

So, there you go. The last blog of a quite beautiful year. The cast has been immense and certainly too many to mention. My heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been there with #TeamDurky. I hope you know who you are. We are very lucky to have such wonderful family and friends and we will never take that for granted.

We would like to wish you all a massive Happy New Year. May 2018 bring you love, laughter, peace, happiness and fulfilment.




#TeamDurky aka Jon, Audrey, Ben, Liv, Gaby, Ringo, Zeekee







“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!




#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.




It’s the start of the world as we know it, and #TeamDuke feel fine


“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln.

Welcome onboard the flotilla that is forming alongside #TeamDuke as we continue to navigate the joyful waters of 2017. And, I’ve got to say I choose to be happy. Why not? Today, is the first day of the rest of our lives and, on that basis, it’s the start of the world as we know it.

Before I continue to paddle you through this latest splodge of words, I want to share a pretty inspirational set of words from Jay Shetty. I saw the video of this speak at a session about mental well being in the work place – a subject I have a really passion on. To be fair that passion is about mental well being in its entirety. There are too many people who are hiding their well being challenges as the whole subject on mental health still carries a stigma. That has to change.

Anyway, during an inspirational presentation from someone who bravely talked about her own challenges, she introduced a video of Jay. Please have a read.

“Albert Einstein famously remarked in a conversation with Werner Heisenberg, “You know in the west we’ve built a beautiful ship, and it has all the comforts. But actually the one thing that it doesn’t have is a compass and that’s why it doesn’t know where it’s going.”

This paradox of our times was propounded by the Dalai Lama when he said, “We have wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We have taller buildings but shorter tempers.”

Will Smith said that we spend money we haven’t earned on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

And it’s phenomenal how the same technology that brings us close to those who are far away takes us far away from people that are actually close. 30 billion WhatsApp messages are sent per day, but 48 percent of people say that they feel lonelier in general.

The paradox of our times is that we have more degrees but less sense. More knowledge but less judgement. More experts but fewer solutions.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said that the irony of our time is that we have guided missiles but misguided men. Have you ever found it perplexing that you’ve been all the way to the moon and back but you struggle to start a conversation across the road or across the bus?

It’s amazing that Bill Gates was known as the top earner of 2015 with a wealth of $79.2 billion but one in four CEOs claims to be struggling with depression.

Do we actually thrive on this paradox? Is it that this paradox actually makes the media interesting, it’s what makes journalism interesting, it’s what makes politics interesting, it’s what makes television interesting?

Is this paradox actually what we feed off and what we live off and what we talk about and discuss in our circles? Doesn’t it seem that we’ve tried to clean up the air but polluted our soul, we’ve split the atom but not our prejudice, and we’re aiming for higher incomes but we have lower morals? So how do we bring a change?

Well, it starts with us, each of us pressing pause, pressing reset, and then pressing play again.

Taking a moment to become more conscious, taking a moment to become more aware, taking a moment to really reflect on the consequence, the implication of a misplaced word of an unnecessary argument that we all know we didn’t need to have, or to speak to someone just slightly differently in a different tone, in a different voice, in a different empathy, with a different perspective. Just to really connect with people on a different level.
This, thinking out loud, started from Albert Einstein when he actually said that the problems we have today can’t be solved with the same thinking that we used when we once created them.

We need to research alternative teachings and dig deep down into these ancient books of wisdom.
We need to go back to understanding if there’s anything written in those creased pages of time that can actually reveal more knowledge and more wisdom of how we can transform our experience of life today.

Otherwise, this paradox means that every step forward we take, we’re taking three backwards every time.” – Jay Shetty (Changing the world starts with you)

Inspirational words! I strongly recommend that you look up the video on YouTube, his passion shines through brightly.

I was particularly drawn to the words towards the end – ‘how we can transform our experience of life today.‘ I think they relate to a wider context but, for me, these words really link to many other things.

As regular followers will know, I practice mindfulness to the best of my ability. I try to bring this into my life to help me to bring order and calmness – particularly when things get disorderly and hectic.

Mindfulness is still a relatively recent practice- at least by definition.

I was interested to find that here in that a report on mindfulness was published 2 years ago by the Mindfulness All-party Parliamentary Group – Mindful Nation UK. I’m amazed I didn’t know.

In the report I was drawn to the definition of mindfulness: –

“Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness.

It is typically cultivated by a range of simple meditation practices, which aim to bring a greater awareness of thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, and to develop the capacity to manage these with greater skill and compassion.

This is found to lead to an expansion of choice and capacity in how to meet and respond to life’s challenges, and therefore live with greater wellbeing, mental clarity and care for yourself and others.”

Just imagine a world where everyone on this beautiful planet that we call home paid attention to what is happening in the present moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. Just imagine.

But, reality is, everyone can. As Abraham Lincoln suggests, we can if we make up our minds to do it.

Mindfulness is a choice and, I have found, with that choice we can raise that greater awareness of thinking, feeling and behaviour patterns, and a development in the capacity to manage these with greater skill and compassion (as the wonderful Mindfulness All-party Parliamentary Group informed us).

I know I tread the boards (or some may say ‘boreds’) of mindfulness regularly but I really want to raise awareness to as many as possible. It is something that I am trying to bring into my daily routine – and, being honesty, with varying degrees of success.

However, every morning, I get the perfect opportunity when I take Ringo for his walk. Just me, the dog and his lead as we venture into fresh air and nature. The perfect time to pay attention to what’s happening in that exact moment in the mind, body and external environment, with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. To focus the moment. To filter away all other thoughts. To listen to the birds. To, at the moment, breathe in the autumn air. To focus my eyes ahead, not looking down, but at a spot somewhere in the distance. To exercise and just be. Magic!

Now, whilst I would advocate that everyone should get a dog, that’s not going to happen? However, what about everyone pledging to themselves to have a 20 minutes walk – minimum – after we get out of bed. And to use that time to – pay attention to what’s happening in that exact moment in our mind, body and external environment, with that wonderful attitude of curiosity and kindness.

And if we can’t do it at the start of the day, what about at the end? In fact, let’s try both. Get that step count working.

I know it’s simple stuff and many people will wonder what the fuss is all about. Well, here’s where to grab a piece of honesty from my privacy locker – being someone who lives with depression, which is ready and waiting to sweep in, mindfulness is a daily need to keep that depression in check. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hiding from it. I know it’s there. But, by starting the day with a mindfulness exercise – a wide awake meditation, if you like – I am training my mind to deal with it.

It’s like Jay Shetty said – it starts with us, each of us pressing pause, pressing reset, and then pressing play again. That ability to reset is so important. We all know that things happen in life where the reset button isn’t that easy to press. But, over time, through consistently practicing mindfulness it will become easily for those more difficult challenges to start fading, fading, fading.

Of course, I am just one part of #TeamDuke. If the whole collective of #TeamDuke started to practice mindfulness in earnest, and then started to share the joys of mindfulness with their friends and extended families. And they in turn did the same – it’s that 1 5 10 multiplier factor that I have spoken about before.

And, there we have it. Mindfulness. The future. If we could all embrace it, it truly would be the start of the world as we know it, and we all would feel fine.

Thanks for joining me on another cascade our if my even inquisitive mind. I’m now going to do a bit more book work.

Take care.








Sing for the moment


“How can you see into my eyes like open doors? Leading you down, into my core. Where I’ve become so numb, without a soul. My spirit’s sleeping somewhere cold. Until you find it there, and lead it, back, home.” – excerpt from Bring Me To Life, Evanescence.

Think of a significant time in your life and, more often than not, a song or a piece of music can be associated with it. The magic of music. There are many times when I hear a song and it invokes a memory, and then there are other times when I think of a memory and it invokes the sound of a song.

And, so we start to rummage through another bag of words in the shopping trolley full of #TeamDuke goodies.

You will have noticed, I hope (if you’ve read previous blogs) I like to plough the fields and scatter the occasional seeds of songs from the past. Obsessed in music? Well it’s better than being lost in music. Although, don’t get caught in a trap as there will be no turning back and you, will then, be lost in music.

What in the name of Sister Sledge am I on about?

For the discerner ‘View From The Ground’ blog reader (note, the use of singular), you will have noticed a music connection with a lot of the recent ramblings that have been posted – in no specific order: –

Thinking back over the years with Ben and Liv, there are specific songs, or CDs, that invoke wonderful memories. For many, many years, Ben came with me to pick up our Friday night take away and 2 CDs stick in my mind – by Evanescence and Eminem. We listened to them endlessly – I can even pick certain parts of the journey – and that feeling of complete contentment – after all of these years (don’t get me wrong, Ben still comes with me for the take away when he’s at home. We just walk, talk, and take Ringo now as I we have local take away now). But, the power of music is incredible.

I know there are certain songs that, if we allow it, can bring through certain sad memories. It’s up to us whether we want to allow that. For some, it can be cathartic. For some, it may be an opportunity to release emotion and surely that can be good. However, I choose music as a route to remember happy events; to think about those who are special in my life; that just make me smile. I’ve now got a ‘Sing for the moment’ playlist. Maybe a compilation album to accompany the book.

But, it’s those specific songs that are just so perfect. I always remember a couple of years ago when Ben put a CD together for me for my birthday. A CD where all of the songs had a meaning. Bands such as Sum 41 – the first gig I took Ben to when he was 8 years old. He’s 23 now and been to over 100 gigs and 25+ festivals. There was Fire by Kasabian – that song brings back incredible memories of a Leeds Festival from a few years ago. Me and Ben, bouncing around in wellies like nothing else mattered. Magic! And, then there’s the song that reduced me to tears Hero by Foo Fighters. I’ll say no more.

And then there’s songs that always make me think of Liv. I remember the first time Liv saw Green Day live – at Wembley stadium. The look on her face when they hit the stage to 21st Century Breakdown. It will stay with me. Pure excitement.

Liv and I have done some concerts together. The Fray in Manchester. Liv has always said she feels uncomfortable in crowds and yet, for The Fray she pushed us towards the front. It’s the power of being able to escape; to feel part of something that music can bring. That a great band / artist can bring.

Music can also help with those ‘dark’ moments. Last year, Liv and I spent a lot of time in the car together and Biffy Clyro were a regular on the CD selection. The song ‘Medicine’ was played over and over again as we sang our hearts out. Some quite appropriate lyrics for the occasion – ‘I shouldn’t waste my time. Having you around. What was up’s gone down. You take your road and I’ll take mine. I was done talking but I still couldn’t sleep’. The singing was a real help, even though it was tinged with tears at times. No for me, for Liv and how she was at that time. We still sing it but, now, there’s a sparkle.

The music runs through us like blood. It’s very rare that there isn’t music being played. And, when the mood takes us, we sing for the moment.

And, since Audrey stepped on board #TeamDuke, more musical memories have been created.

I heard ‘Something just like this’ by Chainsmokers and Coldplay and I could immediately relate it to me and Audrey and what our relationship represented. I messaged Audrey about the song and I was overwhelmed by the underwhelming response. How could “Where do you wanna go. How much do you wanna risk? I’m not looking for somebody with some superhuman gifts. Some superhero, Some fairytale bliss. Just something I can turn to. Somebody I can kiss. I want something just like this.” miss the spot.

But, the lightbulb moment struck and the same realisation swept in that struck me. What we have is just perfect ……….. for us. We’re perfectly matched in every way. What we have is special but, to someone else, it maybe looks like a case of ‘what’s all the fuss about’. And that’s just the point and so it us with all beautiful relationships – there’s no superhero involved but it’s perfect for it to be something just like this.

As #TeamDuke we have been blessed to enjoy some wonderful gigs and Festivals. Incredible memories have been created which can never be taken away. Those moments of balling out classic songs – Basket Case – Green Day; Gold – Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet); Don’t You Want Me – Human League; Mr Blue Sky, Telephone Line, Turn To Stone, etc – ELO; Wonderwall – Liam Gallagher; Fire – Kasabian; sing For The Moment – Eminem; Heaven – Psychedelic Furs. The list could go on. The other awesome bands. I think 70+ bands seen so far this year. So lucky.

One highlight in amongst was Green Day, when they sang Still Breathing. This is a song that became the #TeamDuke anthem at the start of the year – ‘’Cause I’m still breathing. ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way away. ‘Cause I’m still breathing. ‘Cause I’m still breathing on my own. My head’s above the rain and roses. Making my way, away’ (Green Day). Love it!

Music and the importance of singing for the moment, getting lost in that music. It can never be under estimated. I have imprinted on my mind such stunning memories. I also have songs that I can listen to which can invoke great memories.

I hope it is the same for you. I hope this blog gives the opportunity to sit back and think about, and then to find that song and you can then just drift away, for the moment.


And, so there we have it. Time to the close another trip with the good people onboard the #TeamDuke ship. Or, have we being doing the equivalent of runnin’ down the avenue? If we have, I hope the sun has being shining brightly (sorry, had to close with a final song reference).

Strangely, during a recent morning walk with Ringo, I managed to change the title of the planned book 3 times. I think I have now landed where I want to be, which, ironically (and I love a bit of irny bru), is right back with a previous title idea. Watch this space. I am kind of buzzing about the book process. Having got the title locked in, that has lead on to a few structural changes. One thing I would love to do is use some of the wonderful comments about the #TeamDuke blogs. Of course, I will need permission to use them – so, if you get a request through, please be kind 😀.

Take care in these days of world leaders name calling. Bizarre. Maybe they need to just sit down and put on some good music.

For now,



And I’ve been sleeping like a dog (#TeamDuke move on from yesterday)



Have you been losing sleep? Have you been losing sleep over where the term ‘blog’ originates from? No? Me neither, however it dates back to the 1990s and is an abbreviation of weblog. Sleep well my friends.

Sleep? A state of rest where, before descending into that beautiful state of nothing, many wonder whether they will experience a dream.

Dream? ‘A state of mind in which someone is or seems to be unaware of their immediate surroundings.’

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

‘Yesterday is but today’s memory, and tomorrow is today’s dream.’ – Khalil Gibran

And, there you have it in 110 words, a pretty amazing start to the latest View From The Ground blog …………… not! But then, my dream is to ensure no blog starts identically to a previous one. Yes, there’s a couple of quotes. Yes, it’s already rambling more that an over excited hiker.

However, it’s different and, for once, it has an indirectly directly indirect link to the title of the blog – sleep!

How can a blog be formed out of talking about sleep? Interesting question, so bear with me.

From the offset of the journey for #TeamDuke, the context of sleep has taken on a different meaning. You read the studies about the importance of uninterrupted sleep. About sleep been important for the mind and body. So on and so forth.

What the studies don’t seem to analyse is when does sleep take on less importance. When do you have to be available to those endless waking hours? When do you learn that it’s not ‘all about me?’.

And, of course, the answer is when some else’s waking challenges outweigh your need for sleep. When someone needs to talk.

I learned, very quickly, last year about the importance of talking. And, I guess, although not linked to the title – maybe I should have called it ‘Help’ – that’s a bit of a theme I want to explore – talking.

I wrote a blog a while ago – ‘Talk Talk – its my life with #TeamDuke – so I know it’s a subject already trodden. However, as events unfold I want to return to the importance of being honest through talking and, hopefully, through the blog, can inspire someone who has been a closed book to open up and trill like a bird.

As previous readers know, my dream, through sharing some very personal experiences in the #TeamDuke blogs, is to inspire others to take action and to understand there is hope. And, there is always hope.

I believe some people read my words and think I’m having a meltdown; that I’m bitter towards the root cause of the starting point of the #TeamDuke; that my emotional state is of concern. I use the expression ‘he protesteth too much’ a lot and it would be a fair challenge to suggest this applies here. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s no doubt, last year, when the darkness still hung over the house, I was angry. I was upset. And, I was on meds. Worse, though, is the effect it all had on Ben and Liv. You can’t imagine! But, during our growth this year, under the banner of #TeamDuke life is good thank you very much.

So, any reference to the past is just that, a reference. It might be a reference with a tongue firmly in the cheek – that’s just me playing.

I’ve just had to read back into the blog to remind myself what I am talking about and, ironically, it’s about talking. In Britain, I believe, we are too willing to bottle things up. Certainly men are. Talk? It’s not what men do. Not real men. Real men talk about women, and sport, and flatulence (is that how you spell it?) and beer! No, my friend, real men talk and listen and are open and are proud of who they are.

So, getting right back to the subject – when someone wants to talk, the need, the real need, is not for sleep but it’s to make sure that person knows you want to listen.

This is something me, Ben, and Liv have learned and something we practice. There have been times when my bedroom door would creek open for me to be joined by Ben or Liv. They need to talk! I need, no I want, to listen. It has been so important for us all to listen. And, now, there’s Audrey. Always, unconditionally, willing to listen. Of course, my challenge is ensuring that Audrey also talks. We all have the need to talk – don’t we?

So, the morale is – speak up and don’t hold back. By doing so, it will help you to forget about yesterday, to enjoy today, and to plan for tomorrow. And to, over time, let it be.

Then, of course, there are those nights when sleep is available to you and it wants to embrace you. But, our mind is working overtime. Strangely enough, for me, the cure came when I stepped into helping Ringo cure from a rather horrific ear infection. I decided to let him sleep in my room so I could monitor him. Great idea at the time. However, not being an expert in the mind of a dog, I did not appreciate the routine that would be built into Ringo’s thinking so, weeks later, guess who thunders upstairs when I say I’m going to bed? Audrey?????? If only. She’s so mini Ringo sweeps her out of the way when she’s here, in his excitement to claim his spot on the bed. Well, actually, just to claim the bed.

And, the wonderful thing is, since Ringo has been joining me on the bed, I really have been sleeping like a dog. Blissful, restful sleep (apart from last night, when my ageing bladder wound me up). He’s very calming and always willing for a morning hug without wanting a coffee (😀). Who’d have thought it.

So, at that happy point, I will bring another blog to a random end. I hope, at the very least, these words have caused a smile, so thought and, hopefully, you won’t be thinking that was a minute of your time to that you’ll never get back.