Sunday, 23 April 2017

Loo Buddha

Louis and I spent a very traditional afternoon down Southend seafront last week.  Firstly we played crazy golf and yessssss! I got a hole in one.   Eat your heart out Tiger Woods.   'What would you like to do now?' I asked as we were returning the clubs.  'How about the amusements?' he replied.  So I treated us both to two quids worth of coins to feed into the tuppenny shover machines.

Somewhere during the forty minute proceedings Louis knocked down a book of tokens to exchange for prizes at the back of the arcade.  He's done this before and his winnings normally amount to something like a penny chew.  But this time he was able to swap  the vouchers for something substantial, some wall art stickers on the theme of Buddha.  How random is that?  He gave them to me.  I've been pondering where to put them.

Yesterday I had a flash of inspiration. The smallest room in the world is now dual purpose.  As well as being my downstairs toilet it is now the tiniest shrine dedicated to contemplation and navel gazing!

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Nee Naw and Gratefulness

Just when I thought that work couldn't get any more stupid  it did. After the bank holiday I went on a two day course and then returned to the office.  By 9:38 on Thursday I had taken and received eight phone calls.  A day of mayhem followed.  I returned home at the end of the day with a bit of a stress head on.

Realistically, in an overstretched NHS, I don't see this situation improving. It seems the only thing to do is to change my perspective whilst working on Plan B.   These days I make dammed sure that I do everything possible to keep well: eat regularly and healthily, avoid self medicating with alcohol,  hydrating myself, exercising, meditating, having fun outside work with friends and family.  You know the stuff.  It isn't rocket science.  I'm always looking for more ways of preserving sanity too.

Friday was even more barmy.  I arrived home exhausted but I'd enjoyed my day. But instead of getting embroiled in the mayhem  I decided to highlight  the good bits..  So here they are.

One of the people that I see with a significant depression said that I was like a ray of sunshine and I light up everywhere that I go.  Louis would beg to differ when I go into his bedroom in the morning to wake him but there you go.   A colleague complimented my on my resilience.  I liked that.   I'm managing to stay focused on the trees in the landscape as I drive about.  They are incredibly beautiful symbols of strength, reminding me to stay present in the moment and not to 'dwell on what has passed away and what is yet to be', good advice from my mate Leonard Cohen.

What else?  Someone who has historically run away from mental health workers when they're ill phoned me when they were in trouble.  That meant a lot.  And in the course of my work, rather than because I'd been very naughty, I got my first ever ride in a police car,  a Skoda  big brother  of Leif.   Even though it was a sedate affair, and didn't involve a blue lighted chase around the lanes catching baddies it brought on a feeling of childish excitement!

Friday, 21 April 2017


I'd never heard of  the dearly departed Wayne Dyer until recently but my American readers might be familiar with him.   When I was on leave last week I listened to all six parts of a series of talks that he gave, 'Manifesting Your Destiny and a bonus edition'.  They're on YouTube.  These contain, much food for thought, not  about filling your boots for material gain, but rather about how to reduce inner turmoil. I will be listening to them again because there is too much to take in during one sitting.

The teaching fits nicely alongside that of Eckhart Tolle, another of my online gurus.  This is a little itty-bitty clip from one of the talks.  Again I'm being compelled to observe my inner thoughts.  What I've particularly noticed is a propensity to  make judgements about other people based on the briefest of encounters, like passing them in the street.  It adds to that constant stream of unnecessary inner chit-chat that it would be good to abate.  I'd like to see this habit, that I'm newly aware of, diminish over time now it's been brought to my attention.  I expect something else for me to work on will emerge once this is no longer an issue.

For the last week or so I've been using Wayne Dyer's morning and evening meditations for twenty minutes at the start and end of each day.  Their novelty value has given me the impetus to kickstart  regular formal practice again.   As guided by the audio I recite 'ah' and 'om' sounds.
I've shared what I'm doing with Louis and, not surprisingly, he thinks that it's completely barmy and so it may be.  I'm wondering how it will go down in the motorhome where I can't shut myself away in another room and make weird noises without feeling self-conscious.  We'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it.   Which I think it will.  For I find that I'm left feeling invigorated yet with an incredible sense of peace. I'm sharing them today in the hope that someone else might find them helpful too.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

What's Going On?

Here's one of the boy that I took last week on that cable car across the Thames at Greenwich.  We had a lovely day out in the Big Smoke which also involved sushi in the O2 and  a visit to the Crystal, an exhibition about the future of cities in one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.  In one of the simulations we managed to bankrupt a city three times in the space of seconds by not getting the balance right between resourcing and raising revenue. It almost made me feel sorry for politicians.

That's an aside.  What I really wanted to share today is something that seems to happen quite often around here with a teenager in tow.  I wonder if it's an scene that others will be familiar with.   Picture this.  I'm relaxing peacefully with a big cup of tea somewhere in the house, normally my bedroom as it's my favourite spot. All is well. Suddenly  there'll be lots of crashing from elsewhere,  that may or may not involve the sound of breaking glass or china.  I might catch an expletive or two being uttered.  Peace thoroughly shattered  I cry out.   'What the hell is happening?'  The reply I get back is always the same.


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

He Who Sings, Prays Twice

Ah! Such a great quote from St Augustine that I collected from a display in that blingest of cathedrals in Granada.  I''ve wanted to use it for a while.  It occurred to me today that we hadn't had a music post for a wee while so I thought that I'd roll it out today and accompany it with a song.  But which one?  This will do.  It accompanied me on my run the other day.

I wrote about Sixto Rodriguez a few years ago.  He was the subject of a fascinating documentary 'Searching f'or Sugar Man' which I'll recommend highly.   After releasing a couple of albums in the US in the 1970s fame eluded Rodriguez.  Little did he know that, in South Africa his music had been incredibly popular and influential.  All sorts of rumours abounded about the whereabouts of the singer-songwriter including that he had committed suicide.  In fact he was working as a demolition worker in Detroit.

Today's video is a street session by Rodriguez where he plays my favourite song of his.  I'm also including the link here to the album version from the film soundtrack.  It has a vibe unique to its time!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Toilet Brush Angst

I use Pixabay these days to find images for my blog which are in the public domain and copyright free.  It saves me fretting about whether someone will sue me.   I found this on there.  Goodness knows why someone is taking photos of toilet brushes where there's a whole world of beauty to capture.   I'm glad that they did though because I needed a picture and couldn't bring myself to take one of my own loo cleaning implement.

The problem is that mine is brown and discoloured.  No, it's not what you think.   Bad design really bugs me. What kind of sadistic manufacturer would make something which visitors take one look at and would put you down as a candidate . for 'How Clean is Your House' if it were still running . They must be having a right laugh.  I'm not OCD but neither am I a slattern.   I'm embarrassed but not enough to buy a  replacement every five minutes.  So if you come to my house and spend a penny please be reassured.  My loo brush gets cleaned very frequently.  It's not poo just rust!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Not Stopping At Straws

Salty Dog is at it again.  Not content to rest on her laurels after persuading bars in Antigua to stock paper rather than plastic straws she's turned her attention to the UK.   Now I love teeny activism, small steps by ordinary people that aim to make this world a better place. What my friend is doing is trying to be pro-active in alerting businesses to the fact we cannot go on generating plastic food waste.

Yesterday we did a brilliant afternoon coast path walk between Beesands and Start Point starting with fish and chips from Britannia @ The Beach.  This is a wonderful seafood shack selling freshly caught fish which you can eat in or take away to eat on the beach, as we did.  The food is beautiful, the staff are really lovely and prices are reasonable.  The one problem is that the take out cutlery is plastic.  Salty Dog alerted staff to the unsustainability and bless them. Even though they seemed puzzled that it might  be a problem they offered the loan of a proper knife and fork instead.It would be lovely to see wooden cutlery on offer though next time we visit.  Here's me after we'd started walking modelling an alternative to bottled water!

What made this more poignant was that we were walking in an area that was the scene of an enormous environmental disaster one hundred of years ago.   Dredging for sand and gravel to expand the naval dockyards at Plymouth caused the village of North Hallsands to fall into the sea.  All the warning signs were in place. The beach had been disappearing for years but the villager's protests were in vain.   And still the cliff falls away.  I remember that twenty years ago you could walk through the derelict buildings but now you have to be content with a glimpse of the old settlement from a viewing platform.

Salty Dog has started a Facebook group, Food Plastic Saboteurs, for those interested in reducing the plastic waste associated with buying and eating food.  Please like and share if you want to be involved.  Another thing that she's doing is ditching the plastic wrap from fruit and vegetables at supermarket checkouts.  She did this in Morrisons the other day.   This is a mild inconvenience for the supermarket if one person does this but if many of us take the same action then perhaps the big retailers will start to think about the impact of unnecessary packaging.