Lemon meringue pie for your soul


“When life throws you lemons, make a lemon meringue pie.”

“Harnessing adversity is a discipline tailored to a world of unpredictable outcomes–a world where one can disturb, but not wholly direct, a living system. Because the unexpected – adversity – is guaranteed, this discipline is about routinely making lemons into lemon meringue pie.” – Richard Pascale

And, so we step from the View From The Ground into a great big dollop of lemon meringue pie. A few weeks away from the keyboard has whetted the appetite in more ways that one. The zest to share ideas has slowly risen. The energy has been whisked into a light but fluffy frenzy.


Thank you for joining me at my perch, to have a look at what is on my mind.

So, lemon meringue pie for your soul? What? Well, it’s a bit of a long story but that will become apparent as I walk you through my mind state. However, as I muster the creative will to commit to this damned book I continually bang on about, I have been searching for the kind of title that might appeal to a casual reader. Well, I may just have it ………… with a series of titles afterwards, such as ‘Practical Mindfulness with fudge cake and cream’. Work in progress.

It’s a funny old world. When I heard that Donald Trump wanted a new career, my euphoria was short lived when I realised my mis-spelling. Then I heard that Kim Jong-un had just topped trump. Bizarre world. 

The World Cup is just around the corner, and within days of it starting most of us will be round the bend due to the abject boredom after waiting 4 years since the last bout of abject boredom. Mad Vlad will put in (think about it) his profound thoughts on its success, as he wrestles with the idea of what a Trump and Jong-un baby would look like. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Boris Johnson.

And then, here in the U.K. we brace ourselves for waving goodbye to Europe and saying hello to ……………… hang on a minute, where’s Donald gone?? Shite, hello Europe, we were only joking. Honest, we thought the question was ‘what happens if you thrown a brick at a window in Leeds?’ – it Brexit! (Think about it 😀)

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. Or is it?

I know I’ve written this year about our memory jar – an awesome present from Ben and Gaby – but the more we fill it with memories the more I’ve truly appreciated the magic of those memories. As they say memories are made of this and, as I say, thank goodness for the memories.

It’s simple – create a memory; lock it into your mind, write it down, take loads of pictures, write a blog, whatever. But do it! Let’s start creating memories. I know since I’ve started on this path of creating as many memories as possible, I really appreciate the moment in which that memory is being created. It could be something small – but, it isn’t small really. Because it’s what you are creating. Does that make sense?

A meal with your family and / or friends; a weekend away; a holiday; a concert; some major work in the garden; a hug after a few days apart from a loved one. Whatever. Create it, bank it and, when you need a little ‘pick me up’ bring it back to mind and love the memory.l

I guess, expanding the point, if the chance to create a memory presents itself – take it. Plunge into the ‘live for the moment’ ocean and enjoy your chance to seize the opportunity. Create it, bank it, cherish it. If you let the moment pass you might regret it. It might be something as simple as a spur of the moment chance to do something when you would normally do your housework. The choice is simple. But how many times have we said “I’d love to but ………..”? 

Don’t look into your memory jar of life and see loads of blank pieces of paper because you let the chance to create a memory slip. 

I know I’m blessed and I have plenty of memories already in the 2018 jar. I know we have things lined up to create more memories. When I need reminders of the memories, the house is now full of photos, framed concert tickets and tour posters, and other such things to keep us all focussed on how lucky we are. These memories are not reliant on money – good job! They are reliant on seizing the moment and loving every minute of it.

Lemon meringue pie for your soul? Just think about it. How many of us see Lemon meringue pie and are immediately transformed back to a happy childhood? A Sunday afternoon tea treat? Or something to feast on at a cafe at a nearby seaside town?

I’m positive further opportunities will come along, some unexpected, and it’s just a case of being ready and willing to take them.

So, again, the View From The Ground fades until the next blog. As Vera warbled, who knows where who knows when.

However, my finally moment from the blog comes from taking a moment to listen. I was recently recommended a book – Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat. I’ve only just started the book, so I’m sure there will be references to it in a future blog. But I like to look into who the author is. In doing so, I became aware that he was started a crusade – #onebillionhappy (www.onebillionhappy.org). The objective is clear – make one billion people happy and then watch the impact and see how that grows. Interestingly, this has already grown from the original  objective of .#10millionhappy as planned in the book introduction.

The website shows there are 3 steps to being part of this growing movement: –

Step 1: Make happiness your first priority and recognise that happiness is your birthright.

Step 2: Invest in your happiness (reading Solve for Happy is a good starting point).

Step 3: Tell two people about the message that you have learned, who will tell two people, who will tell two people.

Now the challenge is, on the basis that this blog will be read by at least 2 people (me and Audrey) for us the tell 2 people about #onebillionhappy. We owe it to the world – in my humble opinion.

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!




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.





#TeamDuke, the journey aka don’t stop believing


“Let’s make this the best year yet” – Me and then Ben, and then Liv!!!! – 01 January 2017 and beyond.

Hold on to that feeling, indeed.

Welcome to #TeamDuke taking a view from the 2017 ground to date. This follows on from the latest blog. Well, I wouldn’t call it a blog. ‘Ben speaks’ was so much more. Truly heartfelt words which, in reality, should never have needed to be written.

“Blood makes you related. Loyalty makes you family”.

You know what, I’ve started nearly all of this year’s blogs with a quote. So, let’s shake it up.

“Where do animals go when their tails fall off? ………………………. The retail store”

Perhaps, I’ll stick to the quotes.

As those close to me, I like to reflect. In fact, anyone who has the misfortune to enter into any kind of conversation with me will know I like to reflect. Perhaps I should do a blog – Mirror Man. Hold that thought.

But, for a whole host of reasons, I have been reflecting on 2017, and unlike my reflection in the mirror, it made me smile.

Strangely enough, Ben was commenting about how good things are and how we are now at a point where, if we look back over, let’s say, a year, we can see development. We are also at a place of enjoying the day and looking forward. Such words are music to my ears and emphasised why it is important that you don’t stop believing and that you certainly should hold on to that feeling.

I know I have already charted the course of #TeamDuke through the waters of the year so far. But, in reflecting through my rear view mirror, it has been so heart lifting to understand the changes that have occurred. And through that understanding, then to be able to see clearly through the windscreen to the road ahead. There’s no doubt that there will be unexpected turns in the road, a few unwanted bumps. But, I feel we can see where we are going as we head forwards.

From a person perspective, to see how Ben and Liv have grown throughout the year. To see how they have been strong, for themselves, for each other, for us as #TeamDuke, and for others when they falter.

To see Ben, with a new job which has given him confidence in himself and gives him real opportunity to develop in a media related role. I’m so proud of him. As he starts a relationship with the wonderful Gaby. He’s a tower of strength and a beacon of love. Always there for others, always there for a chat, always there with that twinkle in his eye as he lines up the latest wind up. There’s no doubt that the year has brought its challenges for Ben, but he’s faced them and won. Ben brings a smile into any room!

And, then there’s Liv and her development. Getting ready to relaunch her university life. The way that Liv has grown throughout the year is an inspiration to anyone. Her bounce back ability has been incredible. I have provided a backdrop of the challenges that Liv has faced – but have wanted to maintain privacy on the true pain she has suffered – but this blog is a celebration of where we are now. Liv has been surrounded by some awesome friends and she has shown incredible strength and maturity and I am proud of her.

Ben and Liv have been my inspiration and light through this journey that we have been on. There’s no doubt I have lost my way on occasion, but Ben and Liv have taken my hand to bring me back onto the right path.

And then there has been the welcoming of Audrey into #TeamDuke. I know I have said it before, but Audrey wears the term ‘unconditional love’ like an invisible badge. She’s there for everyone and anyone who needs her. A real quality of Audrey is that she doesn’t know how special she is – and fen though I try to remind her every day. I am blessed – yes, blessed – to have her in my life. And #TeamDuke is all the better for her been with us (not forgetting her priorities are Eilidh and Liam).

I’ve already written about our animal house. The house bossed by a cat – Zeekee – and cared for by a dog – Ringo. When I say cared for, I mean the ‘spiritual’ care that only an animal could bring.

When one of us is getting wound up, upset, or angry about something, Ringo, without any prompting, just wanders over and plonks his head on your leg giving you those eyes that say ‘what’s up buddy?’. Awesome.

Over the last few days, I’ve come up with the phrase ‘be like Ringo’ – to be applied when things feel a little crazy, a little frustrating. If you’d have told me this time last year that I would have such love for and such understanding of a dog, I’d have barked myself silly. And let’s not forget bum wiggling Susie – Audrey’s dog. Again, the love she gives is incredible.

Of course, Zeekee has been with us for nearly 2 years now and she’s seen her share of ups and downs and ups again. A beautiful cat, and a perfect pal for Ringo. She’s definitely the boss – but then I’m bound to say that. As we do with all females in our lives, we let them feel like they’re the boss. 😀😱

Love, love, love. Yes, as Messrs Lennon and McCartney said, ‘all you need is love’. A subject that I have covered many times before and will cover many times again. Love can pick you up, and it can help you to understand how totally lucky you are. Love is the touchstone of life.

And love has been the feast upon which #TeamDuke has fed at a time when it could have felt that we were starved of it. When you’ve had love and then it turns out that the love was a lie, at least in the way you believed it was shared, that hits you in the pit of your soul.

But, when true love, unconditional love, is fed to you, the taste stays with you even when you are feeling uncertain about your situation.

Emotionally, there have still being times when this year has felt like riding a stormy sea but, in the main, it’s been a river cruise (all these water references are effecting my bladder). I’ve chartered our well navigated journey over the course of the blogs this year and to all of the many, many stars of our show, thank you, thank you, thank you (last year, 3 was a concept introduced to me as being significant. Nah, I just like repeating myself).

‘Ben Speaks’ gave thanks to our family / families and friends. There’s also The Ramsden family who I have name checked before. But I will always be indebted to the light that they brought in the dark times of #TeamDuke. And now our lives are full of light Steve and Susan join in with our good times.

There are the many, many people who have reached out to us on Facebook. We are so lucky to have such support.

I should also mention Liv’s gaming friends – in Belgium, in Denmark, in the USA and everywhere else in between. You will never know just how grateful I am for the belief that you showed Liv. You are truly wonderful people.

And, so, there it is. Our journey so far. As we sit here and look in awe at where we are, one of our learnings has been to always, always accept offers of support and love. That support and love is the water that helps our roots and strength to grow and flourish. With that growth and that strength, we can the, always be willing and able to give.

Never doubt it, love will find you. Let it happen, and when it does don’t forget to share it.

So, as I bring another humble blog to a close, I have to admit to being in awe of Liv and Ben for their recent postings – ‘An open letter from Liv’ and ‘Ben speaks’. The responses have been quite overwhelming. Both postings were written with love, not anger. They were written from the heart. They were written with the intention of reconciliation, not to divide or isolate. These are 2 young adults who had their worlds ripped apart through an act purely self focussed, self absorbed, and with no thought for their feelings. An act which continues to hit them in the pit of their emotional make up. And yet, no response or acknowledgement from the person they are appealing to. The person who out poured on Facebook due to something read that caused reflection, and who then records a message criticising those who challenge her and her soulless partner. If that sounds harsh, sorry. As I said, the posts from a Liv and Ben were filled with love, but the response to their attempts to reach out – nothing. Whilst I understand she is not now on Facebook, perhaps if one of her ‘followers’ read this (and, yes thank you, my emotional well being is still intact – although that may be questioned if they know where I’m writing this. Please learn to differentiate between parental frustration and irrational comments), please let Ben and Liv’s mum know they say ‘hi, how about getting in touch, we love you’.

Having said all of the above paragraph , we don’t stop believing in #TeamDuke, we continue to hold on to that feeling because all you need is love. And we have an abundance of love, love, love.