Sunday, 30 December 2012

Now or Then?

The sun sets on 2012
As 2012 draws to a close, I've heard a mixture of views about the year. Certainly a number of people have said it was their worst ever and 2013 needs to be a whole lot better. I wonder against what you judge a year's success or failure. 

I can imagine the loss of a loved one, redundancy, serious illness, divorce could be a hint that it's a year you'd rather forget, but on the other hand a successful year might be a marriage, a birth, a house move, a windfall of cash, a new job or an adventure you'll never forget.

The vast majority of my years for example are a mixture of emotions, some difficult times mixed with some good times. So how serious does the bad have to be to outweigh the good to dub it a year you'd rather forget? There's a whole lot of contradictory amateur and professional psychology about which talks about forgetting the past and look to the future only whilst others say the past has made you who you are and therefore how or why should you forget it. The past does shape us to become who we are today. But that doesn't mean to say we have to stay in that shape.

Some people bury the past because it's too painful to remember the traumas whilst others hang on the successes of the past and the pleasant memories. 

Perhaps this is too simple, but for me, the past can't be changed - success or trauma alike. It can't be erased and can't be changed to reinvent the outcome. It's just a spark of electricity in your brain, a piece of data stored away to come back and haunt you or delight you. Can we selectively forget, I suppose we can, but the memory is still there locked away somewhere and our character or behaviour is directly or indirectly affected by it one way of the other.

Ironically the future doesn't exist of course in any way shape or form. I guess we can influence immediate future events although this isn't entirely certain because events unknown or unexpected can come to bite us on the bum and scupper our plans very easily. 

So what do we know? Now. That's it, for certain, we know what we can see, hear and feel at this very moment in time. Many writers talk about the 'now' and how we should enjoy it for what it is, and if that's all we were able to concentrate on, living in this moment we call now will make the worries of the past disappear and the future isn't even a consideration. Of course this is more difficult that you can ever imagine, particularly in this modern and dynamic world and few people can concentrate hard enough to live in the 'now' for more than a few seconds or minutes.

This doesn't mean to say that we shouldn't give it a go, especially in times of stress or anxiety and one method could be meditation for example.

But before I go, I just want to mention a few people who have left us this year and passed on, none of which I have met and not even been particularly influenced by, but those I want to mention have given much pleasure and interest and have helped to pass the time now and then.

Singers Andy Williams and Robin Gibb, Davy Jones of the Monkees and musicians Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar and Hal David and actors Ernest Borgnine and Herbert Lom as well as writer, actor, director and stunning comedian, Eric Sykes. There have been others, writers, Kings, philosophers and astronauts as well as ordinary people who touch our hearts and senses in a whole host of ways. Gone but not forgotten.

As the New Year draws ever closer, I wish you and yours a safe, happy and successful 2013. 
Chat soon

Monday, 24 December 2012

One Over the Eight

I think these signs at the top of the street have been celebrating a little too early!
It's nearly that time of year again. I've just been out for a walk in the rain (with brolly) and thoroughly enjoyed it; time for thinking and watching the little rivulets of water running down the hill into the village by passing all the gutters still blocked with leaves. Fortunately, we are well above sea level here but the ground is saturated and even my garden has pools of water on it.

There isn't much preparation for Christmas, we're breaking with a fifty year plus tradition and this year, we're having steak instead of turkey which I am so looking forward to. Boxing Day consists of being with family and a short visit to a friend to say hello in the morning. Sadly, back at work on the 27th but as most people take Christmas off, the phone and e-mail should be very quiet until the New Year!

I haven't done a list for many months and I thought I'd do one that's seasonal and relates to the financial position at home - certainly mine! 

10 things that tell you you've overspent at Christmas:

1. American Express calls and says; "Definitely leave home without it."
2. Your idea of a 7 course meal is taking a deep breath outside a restaurant.
3. You think of a lottery ticket as an investment.
4. You give blood everyday, just for the cup of tea and biscuit.
5. You finally clean your house, hoping to find loose change.
6. McDonalds supplies you with all your kitchen condiments.
7. The wolf sends you food parcels.
8. You go back for seconds at communion.
9. Dried turkey is all you have for the twelve days of Christmas.
10. You rob Peter and then you rob Paul.

I hope you have a great Christmas, if you don't celebrate it - the seasons greetings to you.

Chat soon


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Mayan Shmayan

I'm not an academic and his isn't an academic blog either, but just a few words on the 'End of the World' stuff that's going on supposed to happen on 21st December 2012.

The Mayans were and surprisingly to some, still are inhabitants of Mexico and northern central  America - their descendant live today and millions still speak the Mayan language. The Mayans calculated the solar year with a very high degree of accuracy for the time and this was far more accurate than western civilisation had managed. They were also very clever mathematicians and pre-telescope astronomers (of course they wouldn't have had the light pollution we have today.)

In simple terms, their calendar, which has a 5125 year cycle comes to an end in 2012. That's it. Allegedly. Scholars are divided even about the date 2012 never mind anything else. New Age people, perhaps I am on the edge of this label, consider that this date will bring about a transition to a more spiritual way of life with a change to a new kind of world. 

In many ways, this is what I believe, a return to simpler ways because of the economic climate, fading resources and the need to get back to providing for ourselves instead of the off the shelf and discard-because-its-out-of-date society we live in today. More and more we are going to have to 'make do' and cut our cloth accordingly. 

This has nothing to do with the end of the world and that won't happen. Academics and scholars find no evidence of this in Mayan work. Kooks and strange people believe this scenario - many cults have attempted to predict the end of the world and failed miserably. The sceptics play on this and there is a raft of jokes and unkind commentary, and this of course turns ordinary people against what cannot be proved by science which is a shame. This denies faith and belief.

End of the world predictions are what have been described as pseudoscience - in other words, guesswork and finger in the air stuff, made up to sound like it's science-fact where as in fact its science-fiction. 

So don't have a bet that the world will end, if it does you won't collect your dosh and if it doesn't, the bookies will be going to a better holiday destination than you courtesy of your hard earned cash.

Spiritualists and others who are sensitive have been sensing change coming for some time and we have been tested and prepared with challenges to help others who are going to struggle. How is that help going to take shape? Through support of those that want help, spiritually, morally and whatever other help that can possibly be given.

This is little to do with the end of a world but more a sense that we need to help mother earth to continue to sustain an ever growing population and we should begin that by changing our attitude and thinking about others as well as ourselves. Perhaps its not about having a new model phone or car every twelve months, moving to a better house every two years, having the latest gadget because we look better than the Joneses'. Perhaps its the need to survive the next few difficult years with dignity and display love and compassion for our fellow man and woman. As the economic situation worsens, there will be fewer jobs as automation starts to run things more cheaply and in some cases more effectively than we do as humans. Companies are making themselves 'lean' - doing more with less resources or simply struggling to stand still.

People will fall by the wayside if they don't adapt and change and realise things are going to be difficult and different.

Is there a need to panic - not at all. Is there a need to think about change (which we are all uncomfortable about) yes there is, both personally and environmentally.

I'll be doing some meditation with friends tomorrow night (21st) just to chill and think about the effect of the next few years and see what we can do to help others and how we can look after ourselves as well in order that we stay fit to help others.

In any case, I have bought the Christmas presents I need to buy and all but a couple have been wrapped which will be finished tonight hopefully. I haven't sent any cards out this year - that's the decision I took for economic reasons and the fact that the house has been a bloody tip for four months while the building has gone on. Last day at work tomorrow until the 27th, so I'm looking for five days of quality rest with the family and friends.

Hope your Christmas prep is nearly done and here is a sneak preview of the Christmas jumper I am wearing to work tomorrow:

Chat soon



Monday, 10 December 2012

Divided Household

Holy Trinity before the Carol Concert, excuse the quality, taken on my mobile
My very good friend Linda and I went to our annual Christmas church visit on Sunday night, 9th December. This year we went to see the EYMS brass band, one of the best brass bands in the UK, and the Hull Freedom Choir at the magnificent Holy Trinity Church in Hull. There was a formal carol concert with the packed congregation singing along to the amazing accompaniment of the band interspersed with readings.

After an interval, there was an informal concert with the band playing popular Christmas tunes and the choir singing some unusual Christmas songs. It was a wonderful concert and at times, strangely, very emotional. 

This is a funny time of year for me. The children and I celebrate Christmas, my wife does not - she's a Jehovah's Witness. So the jobs of Christmas are mine; cards get sent out without her name on them for example. The first year I sent them out without her name on, probably twenty years or so ago, I had to write an explanation on them which was awkward and embarrassing, but no-one bothered or commented for which I am very grateful, and I get cards back to this day from the same friends, but without her name on. 

She still eats with us on Christmas day, she has to eat all the same, but she won't put a paper hat on, or pull crackers etc., etc., but life goes on, after all these years I'm quite used to it. She doesn't recognise birthdays either so it saves me a few bob, but there is a gap in our lives at what are special times for the rest of us.

Whilst I read of some communities who revel in differences and feel stronger for it, there is a wedge that religion has driven between us and so the differences between my beliefs and hers are a world apart. There is no meaningful commonality even though we believe in the same God; the theory of what its all about and the interpretation of what the Bible says and how we worship is so different.

Mine is a relaxed and joyful experience in the modern world, hers is brought about by indoctrination and a love of God above everything else taking lessons for life from a time long gone by, written for people also long gone. No doubt she enjoys her religion, I don't really know, it's not shared.

I fully support the freedom to choose and live your life as you see fit within the bounds of the law and therefore I can't criticise her right to choose and follow her path as I have done in my belief. I just dislike the dogma and inflexibility and in some ways the hypocrisy of how JW's conduct their selves within their religion enjoying the worldly advantages of modern life.

They will say the same about me no doubt, the Bible tells them that Spiritualists (me) are receiving messages from Satan to give false hope and deception. Wasn't Jesus one of the greatest of all in His Spiritualism and His love of God. Didn't He bring together Moses and Elijah who had been dead hundreds if not thousands of years on the Mount of Transfiguration and He even spoke to them? 

Angels are littered through the Bible in a whole host of stories - superhuman beings, messengers of God. Is there no greater spiritual being than an Angel or Arch-Angel? Yet these ethereal beings are accepted without question. I believe in Angels - I wonder if that makes my wife uncomfortable?

One thing I have learned in my life living with a JW is that you never argue about the content, meaning and interpretation of the Bible. They know it backwards, forwards and upside down and interpret it in a unique and very literal way. 'The Truth' as they call it.

What is the truth, how do we reconcile out faith and belief with the truth of stories, written in a few cases and handed down by word of mouth for thousands of years and collected together and debated by mortal people centuries after the death of Christ before being put together in an agreed version in a book? 

For me that's the crux of it all: Why is my belief and worse or better than anyone elses? Why does one religion find themselves superior and better knowing than the rest? What do the hundreds of thousands of scrolls written centuries ago which have been ignored say, and how do they lend to the debate?

I am just comfortable with myself and what I believe in. I am what I am. I do what I do. 

I hope you are comfortable about yourself too - you deserve to be without being criticised and lambasted because you have given yourself a label even if that label is 'no religion recognised here.'

I don't think this is a rant and it is not meant to be, this is just a personal observation that relates to how I think as an individual and how religion affects me personally. I know fellow bloggers are interested about people and their lives - well here is mine - laid bare.

If you are angry with what I have written I am sorry; if you agree with it, that is up to you and either way I respect your point of view, but please don't leave a rant or embarrass yourself, be constructive if you make a comment and let me understand how you feel.

Have a great week

Chat soon


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Hidden Talents

The photographs I put on this blog are generally not enhanced. Occasionally I improve the colour and sharpen dull shots and do admit to being a big cropper of shots to emphasise what I want you to look at, but by and large, I don't mess with them too  much. However, here is an example of just what an automatic enhancement does for a picture. in other words, let the computer automatically make sense of a dark photo in this case.

I took some tables back to Beeford that had been lent to us for the fair last weekend. After  a delightful chat and a cup of coffee with Roz and Howard, we popped along to Bridlington, just a few miles further up the road to have a look at the full moon over Bridlington Bay. After a few minutes to take in the view, listen to the invisible birds in the darkness on the shore line calling to each other (not gulls - not sure what they were - quite haunting whistling calls) I took a picture of the bay near the harbour. I put my point and shoot Panasonic TZ65 on the safety rail and it took the long exposure shot for a few seconds. I was quite disappointed at the outcome which was a lot darker than I had hoped for and here is the result:

Now, I took it home and ran it through the Adobe software asking it to automatically enhance it and this is the result (click on it to enlarge it):

You can see the clouds scudding by, you can even see my shadow on the sand from the lights on the  promenade at the bottom of the picture and the lovely Orion constellation in the sky top centre. Amazing. 

The weather is typically cold now in the UK and the older I get, the less tolerant I seem to be of the cold.  The ground is still sodden and a van working on the paying fields just up the road has sunk to its axles in the grass. Here's a shot from the garden today of frozen water (unenhanced) on an old tree stump.

I've also tried to keep up with the birds as they empty the bird tables and feeders with regularity. They get a mixture of a third peanuts, a third black sunflower seed and a third mixed seed. This seems to cater for all tastes. I have to buy it in sacks to make it economical otherwise to buy the odd pound of seed here and there would be too expensive.

Hope you keep warm and enjoy the week ahead.

Chat soon


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fair Weather?

The local gulls enjoying the wet weather at the expense of human ability to exercise and have a game of soccer
November is nearly out of time and the contrasting month of December is round the corner.

I've been ill for a while which has laid me low and has had the effect of leaving me tired and weak, but well on the mend thank goodness. It's the first time in seven years I've taken time off work sick with what we call locally D & V. 

This all came in the week before our Mind, Body, Spirit and Craft fair in Hull. so this created so much more pressure and my three good friends who were organising the fair with me also came down with other illnesses so the additional stress that it created made things very difficult. Anyway four weakened people pulled together with some volunteer friends and we pulled it off. We had a successful fair with a decent footfall with most of the stalls reporting good business.

The Atrium in the Prospect Shopping Centre in Hull, set up and ready for stall holders to fill it up
One stallholder complained about not selling her fresh produce but there was little we could do about that, but overall, a success. Was the effort and stress worth the outcome? Well a lot of people were happy although the owners of the shopping centre did little to help or promote the event which was a shame and for a first attempt at a fairly large fair, I am satisfied with how things turned out. Of course there are always lessons to be learned and if there is ever a next time, I would do things slightly differently. I was asked to put some pictures on and here is a just a tiny selection to give you a flavour.

Tammy with her wooden hand carved at home mushrooms

Home dyed products

One of two live owls which attracted much attention and hugely enjoyed by all who observed and handled them
The weather here has been extraordinary with a lot of flooding in different parts of the UK through extensive and heavy rain showers. People in this area of East Yorkshire are still fearful of flooding following the devastating floods of 2007 and whilst we have a lot of standing water, there were no serious reports of flooded properties. As the weather now settles down for the rest of the week, the clear skies are going to lead to frosts and fog. There was a magnificent full moon last night peeping through the occasional rain cloud and this morning the car was fully iced up! For the first time since they were excavated, the many lagoons that were put in place in the area designed to take the overflow of water from full ditches have had water in them this week.

Full moon rising on Wednesday at dusk
Our building work is now complete apart from the skimming of our hallway and most of the new work is painted and decorated. Rooms are being moved around to be used for different things now and logistically it will all be done and dusted for Christmas.  

Chat soon


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Busy Times

What an extraordinarily busy week this week both at home and at work. 

There has been lots of tight time schedules to get the converted rooms decorated for delivery of carpets and furniture along side which I am a member of a small team who is creating and planning a Mind, Body, Spirit and Craft Fair in the city centre of Hull. This has been both time consuming and a different kind of task for me but although there have been hiccoughs along the way, with planning for as many scenarios as possible, it is coming together quite nicely.

The Prospect Shopping Centre in Hull has rented us the first floor, known as the Atrium into which we are fitting almost 40 craft stalls, therapists and psychic readers on Saturday 24 November 2012. Years ago, the Atrium was a food court with quite a lot of popular food outlets. The one man owner went bust a couple of years ago and it has lain unused ever since. The centre has stripped it out and it is now a wonderful large clean space and we are looking forward to our first event. If you are around that day, come and say hello.

I've done some travelling too for my work which all takes time, Wakefield this week, an hours drive away and Nottingham next week which is an hour and a half drive away as long as the motorway is clear.

On Saturday, my business partner Linda and I ran a one day course for Reiki students and got them through their first degree of Reiki by giving teaching on Reiki, its background, what it does and an attunement.  Hopefully, they will now go and begin to understand themselves better, start to self heal themselves and perhaps aspire to stepping up to the second degree and become practitioners and heal others. It's a wonderful gentle process dealing with the physical as well as the emotional self and I wish more people would use it.

Work remains as ever busy and the future for the workforce in my public sector job is facing a great deal of uncertainty This is due to unprecedented cuts in public spending including cuts on top of cuts in the financial settlement the Government is about to unleash for 2013/14 which unfairly targets public sector workers and services which the public come to expect and rely on. Difficult times ahead. I am resubmitting my application for part time working because I want to spend more time doing other things and in particular more dedication to my spiritual life. If I could afford to leave work and find a part time job elsewhere, I would. That's not being disloyal to my current job, the people are brilliant and the service very worthwhile indeed, but the pressure being put upon the service (not from the public) is unsustainable and will end up in tears for the nation.

The weather here is now autumnal with night frosts and not too many leaves left on the trees. Most of the leaves are in my garden! Ah well, it gets me plenty of fresh air clearing them up.

I hope you've had a great weekend, enjoy the coming week and keep warm.

Chat soon


Monday, 5 November 2012

Autumn Draws On

A beautiful late autumn sky first thing in the morning lit by a rising sun, a wonderful sight when opening the front door
Magnumlady came across the Hull last week to visit the sights and sounds and unfortunately I never got to meet her which was devastating for me and the lesson learned is, life gets in the way of too much and I need to learn to be able to say - 'I am cancelling this, I have something more important to do!' Perhaps I should pop across and visit the Sligo area, all ideas for places to visit gratefully received. I am very sorry Val.

Life marches on. My garage conversion is complete barring the painting and decorating, one bedroom is already occupied by my youngest son, the utility room and store room in in full flow and the front room (was a bedroom, now an additional lounge because my middle lad moved out quicker than expected) just needs a carpet and curtains and a settee, all due at the end of the week.

There was a frost this morning on the cars and grass and although there is no breeze, there is a chill now and a lot of the trees are already devoid of leaves, mostly divested in my garden! Still, I've got it down to a fine art. My leaf blower is both cumbersome, heavy and time consuming, particularly when you have to take the bag off every 30 seconds to empty it.  We have some big leaves, Norway maple for example so it's a pain in the... back to use it. I've now reverted back to the old fashioned method, raking up into piles and manhandling it into cubic metre bags using the old fashioned grass rake and a snow shovel. 

My brother in law next door composts his leaves which take two years to break down but I don't have any room to store it so the local authority waste site gets mine and I understand they compost it and give it away. I do compost all my kitchen green waste and grass clippings and that fills my bin completely. In a couple of weeks time, I will empty the bottom part of the bin of composted material, and pop it on the borders. I do find that actually it's not enough to feed plants next year although it does improve the condition of the soil. This summer, I didn't put any Growmore down (other feeds are available) thinking the compost would feed the plants but it wasn't enough. Coupled with the bad spring and wet summer, my bedding plants were a disaster for the most part.

Our method of keeping warm with a mystery pair of hands to the left trying to feel the heat (my son Ben)
On Saturday night, I had a few friends round for an evening with a buffet, a hot chiminea burning cut up broken wooden pallets. There were a few small fireworks. The atmosphere was cosy and friendly and I was delighted to have such good friends and one of my sons to share a few hours together with good chat, tea and coffee. The fireworks were really disappointing, lasting only a few seconds and despite there being a variety of fireworks, they all looked the same.

Spent Roman candles and burnt grass!
Only seven weekends to Christmas now and I have to buy a secret Santa present for a colleague at work that is both humorous and apt for the person, cost no more than £8. Any ideas (I can't say which gender - it might give it away).

I hope you had a good weekend

Chat soon


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Damp Squibs

A steaming hot cuppa on a chilly bright autumn day in the garden
I am coming to the end of my week off work. I haven't had any summer holidays this year, so a week off now was to help me chill and do a bit of uninterrupted gardening and decorate (which I don't normally do) the new garage-to-bedrooms conversion.

However, 'the best laid schemes of mice and men' don't always work out right - Robert Burns was so right when he penned that poem in 1786 - nothing changes.

Firstly the weather has conspired against me for doing the gardening, not necessarily because it's been bad unlike some parts of the UK, but simply because it's been so wet, the grass is sodden. You can see from the picture of the leaves that they are wet through due to overnight dews, fog and the odd heavy shower that seem to pass through with annoying frequency. The grass hasn't been cut for about a month, mind you it hasn't grown either, we've had a couple of first frosts already.

However what it has allowed me to do is to compost the flowers which have been very disappointing this year, even the sturdy geraniums have flowered poorly, the heads have rotted very easily and the petunias have been a total waste of time. I know my blogger friend Wheelie has had a number of vegetables rot in the ground this year. The roses, what few I have, have been okay this summer and where there is greenery, that has been okay too. I managed to clear away some pots, clean the big fish pond and net it to stop leaves from falling in it and have a little tidy, so some progress.

Leaves do provide beautiful colours this time of year
That just leaves me with a general cutting down of foliage job which normally takes me a couple of days sometime in November. There is an argument from gardeners that foliage should be left and we should enjoy seeing the decay, colours etc., as stuff dies off. I am not in that camp and think its harder to clean up that way in the spring and there is less opportunity for unwelcome bugs and decaying material to spread disease the way I do it. In fact, I am told that there is a bit of tree disease going around at the moment and good solid frosts will kill some of that disease off. I'm a big believer in nature doing its job.

The second issue that hasn't gone entirely to plan is the conversion from a garage and morning room into two bedrooms and utility/store rooms. The issue has been one of timeliness in that the work has gone on a fortnight longer than it should. The builder who has done the brick work and knocking down and building up has been superb and has grafted so hard. He has been let down by other craftsmen who have not kept promises to turn up and do what they were supposed to do. However, after some complaining and wittering, the main builder in charge of the project finally got some reliable people in and the joiner and new electricians have in turn come in and grafted too and got the project nearly finished albeit late. So, time I put aside for decorating the new build has not taken place. 

The two bedrooms were for two of my younger sons who have tiny bedrooms and are still at home and show no sign of leaving. Having said that, my middle son John is now leaving home to live in a rented place a lot closer to where he works, so rather than an hours journey to work, it will take him twenty minutes. That means that one of the bedrooms will now be a lounge and allow me to have a bit of space for my spiritual work away from her indoors who is not a fan of anything like that at all. That's a story for another blog.

I hope you enjoy your weekend, whether you are working or not.

Chat soon


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bright and Breezy Mere

Looking west along the Hornsea Mere
 I met up with good friends Barry and Shirley Ann  Chessman today in Hornsea, their home town on the east coast of East Yorkshire. It's just over half an hours drive away on a good day so I visit as often as I can but not often enough. Hornsea is a lovely little town, quite compact and self sufficient and although the railway was closed down many decades ago, roads to Hornsea aren't too bad considering they are rural.

Like most coastal resorts in Victorian days, Hornsea was very popular indeed and on good weather days, it still attracts many visitors and it has a local market on a Sunday which brings people in. In some ways, I suppose I have an affinity with Hornsea because I have ancestors who come from that part of the county. The local family names were Usher and Hillerby and there is a Hillerby Lane in Hornsea today. Nelson Usher, my third great grand uncle, born in 1824 was the coxswain of the local lifeboat and a painting of him in watercolour resides in the Hornsea Museum today.

Feeding time, the swans are most vociferous
Apart from the attraction of walking along the promenade in Hornsea and experiencing the bracing sea air from the North Sea, the town has a mere. The word mere is Old English but has a place in the language of many countries and means 'an arm of the sea'. Although not connected to the sea, this huge inland freshwater lake is less than a kilometre from the sea and is fairly shallow and provides a habitat for wildlife and leisure facilities for sailors in leisure craft. 
A variety of birds on the water's edge
Owned by the Wassand Estate, the mere covers 476 acres and is the largest lake in Yorkshire. The owners of Wassand Hall bought the lake, used today for fishing and bird watching too, for a mere £50 in the 16th century (forgive the pun.) Something I have learned about the history of the mere is that it was formed by glacial activity and today it has a Special Protection Area status because of the diversity of the fen area surrounding the mere which includes much flora and fauna.

Sunday afternoon jaunt on the water
As I finish this brief blog, I have just watched  Felix Baumgartner live on YouTube jump from a capsule suspended from a helium balloon a total height of more than 120,000 feet and at freefall speeds at over 700 miles an hour at higher levels. Well done him, I got vertigo just watching him jump!

I hope you've had a good weekend.

Chat soon


Friday, 12 October 2012

Make a Friend Happy Today!

A slightly angry Humber
I was visiting a local large DIY store on the outskirts of the city today which has a grand view of the River Humber. As I pulled up, the wind was rattling along the river and white horses rolled on the top of the waves which is not a particularly common sight in the Humber on such a bright sunny day.

Part of the Fish Trail
Last week, a friend and I went into the city for a lunch meeting and I noticed some fish brick sets in the footpath  and I was reminded that there is a Fish Trail in the city of Hull for visitors and local alike to follow. Different fish on the pavements allow the walker to meander round the old town using the fish as a guide to see some of the sights. There is an audio guide available and it takes around 60 minutes without stops for tea and shopping! Tours are available starting at the Tourist Information Centre. To book a tour, call 01482 300 300. Anyway, that's enough free advertising for the Hull City Council - they don't do any for me!

I just wanted to say a few words about friendship today without being sentimental or patronising. If you have a partner who is a good friend as well as a partner, then well done, cherish what you have. If not, friends are or should be an important part of your life creating balance and opportunities. I have only realised that in the last couple of years what true friendship means and for me, this has created balance, a different viewpoint, an ability to be my true self and to open my heart to feelings hitherto hidden and rarely touched.

Of course that comes with a large element of trust without which that friendship would probably not work and sometimes, looking around me at different people's lives, it clearly doesn't. People are let down, consciously or by accident, by thoughts, words or deeds which hurt or which are inconsiderately expressed. We don't mean to but it happens. There can be nothing worse than having a trust betrayed. Sometimes it can be mended, sometimes not. 

Either way, I am privileged to have good friends and an exceptional friend. I know that it isn't all plain sailing particularly if, as a friend, you start to play a large part in someones life, but the pathway to being a better person through friendship is important. To be caring, considerate, supportive, loving, understanding and having the skills to listen, counsel, advise a friend for the greater good for everything and everyone concerned is a worthy goal.

If all the world felt that way about a neighbour, relative, friend, people in the community as a whole, wouldn't it be a better place?   

The weekend is upon us, and for the UK, the forecast is not bad and I will be gardening, composting some bedding plants, sweeping leaves off the grass and cutting the grass if its dry enough (raising the blades somewhat because it isn't growing too much having had a couple of frosts already). I will also be working with my brother in law compiling a photo-book from the recent Diamond Wedding celebration of his mum and dad. 

Finally on this busy weekend, I am seeing an old friend for coffee to have a natter as we haven't seen each other for a while and meeting another friend to do some mediumship exercises with guides, friends and relatives from the other world.

Whatever you are doing - enjoy it.

Chat soon


Saturday, 6 October 2012

A Fair Time

What a fabulous morning here in East Yorkshire - bright sunlight, no breeze, chill and damp. Autumn is here! In this part of the world, there are many associations with this time of year and one of the local folktales is related to the arrival of Hull Fair. This is the largest and oldest travelling fair in Europe.

We don't say, "the leaves are starting to fall" or "it's damp and chilly out there," or "first frosts must be due," we say, "It's Hull Fair weather."

In 1993, Hull Fair celebrated its 700th anniversary. The first Charter granting permission for a fair  to be held was in the days of yore, 1278,  for two weeks in March. A few other Charters and date changes took place and when all the calendars changed in 1751, the locals in Hull were pretty brassed off that they were losing several days of their fair, so the official date of the fair starting was set for the 11th October or the nearest Friday to it. This year it started on Friday 5 October.

The fair is held today on Walton Street car park, adjacent to West Park and now next to the recently built magnificent KC Stadium, the home of football (soccer for my USA friends) team Hull City AFC.

Of course since medieval times, the fair was a trade show, people came to buy and sell their wares.  As time moved on, entertainment was introduced, jugglers, theatrical shows, puppeteers all plied their trade to keep the populous happy. Although there have been many sites for the fair as the city has developed over the centuries, Walton Street has been the home of the fair since 1888. Queen Victoria was on the throne and it was the year Brazil finally abolished the last remnants of slavery, Jack the Ripper was at large in the Metropolis and China's first railway began operations.

There have been marvellous and famous entertainers offering a weird and wonderful spectacle for  public delectation. With a break for the war (1939-45) where the ground was used for the military, the fair then became bigger, better and doubled in size.

As a child I remember the bags of goldfish to be won hooking a duck, or throwing a ring over a prize or by throwing darts at playing cards on a wall. The coconut shy was in full swing and the rides were tame apart from the big wheel which then seemed outrageously high and modern. Helter-skelters proved popular as did the ghost train, the extraordinary wall of death with the motorcyclists (how the hell did they ever do that?) Bumper cars (dodgems), having your palm read and the traditional bag of chips were the order of the day.

We always brought back coconuts, bags of hot chestnuts, candy floss, nougat (broke your teeth), toffee apples (which weren't toffee at all but covered in a solid sticky clear liquid)  and the most famous of all - brandy snap.

I haven't been back to the fair for many years, it hold no interests for me now the kids are grown. I would love to go and take some photographs perhaps and experience the smells of the food and sights and lights - another year perhaps. 

If you are thinking of going, then don't go by car and expect to park, it's a nightmare, but there are very effective park and ride facilities on the outskirts of the town which are cheap and very frequent.500,000 visitors are expected in the week of the fair and the experience is generally very safe and pleasurable with lots of facilities.

This is a very good little video from the 2011 fair from

Enjoy this lovely autumnal weekend, take care.

Chat soon


Sunday, 30 September 2012

Full Moon Rising

The full moon rising in Hornsea, East Yorkshire (Saturday 29th)

A glorious sunny day in East Yorkshire on Saturday allowed the grass to dry and it got its first cut for three weeks. The leaves are already starting to come down and there are subtle changes in colours in the trees as the richness of the green gives way to more muted colours.

It's been a busy old time with my in-laws Diamond Wedding celebration and a card from Her Majesty the Queen with her congratulations too!. Well done Ken and Iris. Their family got together to arrange a super evening celebratory meal and they were picked up by a 1952 Humber classic car - made in the year of their marriage.

I haven't been too bright recently with a sore throat and a mild cold so I took my car in for it's MOT on Saturday morning and decided to walk back home from the garage. It's about half an hours walk and although it was crystal clear wall to wall sun, the wind was cold. Walking along footpaths I noticed that the Hawthorn bushes and trees were absolutely full with berries, more so that ever I can remember. 
Hawthorn in full berry, a winter food store for the birds

Yet my colleagues at work who make their home made booze are bemoaning the fact that there are no damsons or sloes to make gin with this year, the damsons being virtually non-existent and the sloes, what few there are, being mushy and unusable.

A little bit further along is Hessle Haven, a small tributary which feeds water off the land into the mighty River Humber. I haven't seen a ship tie up there for a couple of years now, once a landing place for timber, it became a pick up point for scrap metal to go abroad, now the Haven is a storage place for containers and lorry parking. The ships have long gone. There used to be a few leisure craft in the haven, occasionally being worked on by dedicated men on a weekend, now most of them have rotted and their skeletal remains are sinking deeper into the silt.

A boat no longer loved or cared for in the silt of Hessle Haven
Hope you have enjoyed your weekend.

Chat soon


Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Pick me a Winkle

Prompted by a weird text from my friend Linda who admitted to having eaten a frog and squid in her life (yeuk!), I just wondered what was the strangest thing or combination of foods you've ever eaten? Despite having eaten frog and squid, Linda baulks at the idea of eating snail. Well I haven't eaten frog which she says tastes not unlike chicken and I had squid once and thought it extremely tough and rubbery and have never touched it since.

As a kid however, I have had winkles. 

Winkles? Now I don't know if this is an English delicacy or a Yorkshire delicacy in particular, but winkles are a little mollusc which lives on seashore rocks and they graze on algae so they do do us a favour. They are quite small and look like a tiny snail - here's a picture:
They are generally boiled, sold in small paper bags and then we prized the meat out of the shell with a pin. There are all sorts of unkind things said about them - that they look like huge bogies (out of your nose) but although small, they were quite tasty.

Now, I'm not a faddy eater but I don't experiment with food too much although I don't mind trying new things that come along now and then.

Again, as a kid, I used to eat strawberry jam and Cheddar cheese sandwiches. Now I loved them, but some people think that's odd. I've heard of pregnant women being addicted to all sorts of strange foods including coal!

And my final confession is when I was a teenager, I used to smoke (shame on me - something I really regret although I did give up over  30 years ago) cinnamon sticks that we bought from the chemist. Bloody disgusting now I look back, but a lot of people who were not well off used to smoke all sorts of rubbish including my dear departed friend Jack who even smoked dried privet leaves and other concoctions from his garden clippings and was heartily sick as a consequence.

So here's the question - what's the strangest thing or combination of things you've ever eaten?

Chat soon


Sunday, 16 September 2012

Can you Show me the Milky Way?

I don't have a bucket list, (things to do before you 'kick the bucket') but there are some things I would love to do and one of those is to see the Milky Way. From this country, it's impossible because of the light pollution, but from some remote places in the world, it is possible to get magnificent and unobstructed views. I am placing a couple of links here, one to some time-lapse photography which shows it beautifully and a photograph taken in Australia above taken by Mike Salway and to view his site from where the picture was taken, click here.

Excerpts from Temporal Distortion Extended Cut from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

I hope you enjoy this short movie and to see it in its full magnificence, please use your full screen to view it.

As autumn and winter approaches, it's time for me to get my camera out of hibernation and start snapping night shots of the sky. I know nothing of the science of the Universe save for what a layman knows, but it doesn't stop me being fascinated by the beauty and sheer scale of its magnificence and mystery. I've followed the adventures of the Mars Exploration Rovers and aside from the arguements about cost and benefits, it's been nothing short of compelling viewing. We have a small telescope which will also come out shortly, I just wish it wasn't so damned cold on a night!

I am in the process of planning with my three good friends Linda, Helly and Phil, a new and exciting venture, a Mind, Body, Spirit and Craft fair. This is a monumental task but its starting to come together with some gusto with stall holder responding to our invitations. The administrative burdens behind this should not be underestimated, but it should be a great event which can be enjoyed by all the family. 

It's at the Atrium at the Prospect Shopping Centre in Hull on Saturday 24 November 2012. The Atrium is the first floor of the shopping centre which used to be a magnificent food hall. This closed down about three years ago and was tidied up and mothballed when the owner of the food outlets went out of business. Now it hires out for events and we have it for a day. So more news on the planning of this as it rolls along. So far, we have therapists, craft stalls, an astrologer, psychic readers, healers and others too. Watch this space.

This weekend has seen quite a contrast for me. On Saturday, my business partner and great friend Linda Lee and I did psychic readings and psychic drawings at a garden party held in the village of Cottingham in East Yorkshire where two neighbours open their gardens for stalls and events in aid of Dove House Hospice, a charitable organisation in Hull which provides help and assistance for those suffering with life limiting illness as well as supporting their families.  The weather was magnificent with wall to wall autumnal sunshine, sadly with not enough people coming and enjoying what was available, but at least our little service of the psychic and spirit provided a tidy donation for an excellent cause. The contrast was today, Sunday, a day of rest and reading.

Our work at home to convert the garage to a bedroom and utility rooms is going on apace and the garage is now just a distant memory. The 'garage bedroom' is now plastered and the back room behind the garage which is also being converted into a bedroom is starting to take shape too. There is more plumbing and electrical work to do and plastering, but the main construction is completed. The dust and dirt is driving me potty, but I guess it'll be over soon and we can start decorating and cleaning through.

I hope you've had a great weekend wherever you are, the weather here has been quite kind to us and the working week beckons.

Chat soon


Saturday, 8 September 2012

Put That Light Out!

Barbed wire and the shadow of the imposing guard tower discouraging escape

What a fabulous late summer weather we are having here in most of the UK with temperatures this afternoon in my garden a comfortable and very sunny 23 degrees Celsius. It's not quite an Indian Summer as by definition, that occurs after the end of summer proper which in the UK I believe finishes at the end of September - who cares - a lovely day!

Recently, a very good friend and I visited Eden Camp in North Yorkshire. I know some of you enjoy reading about the various places around where we are here in the UK and this is another tourist attraction, a museum, built upon the real life of it's former past, a prison of war camp. Located just north of the town of Malton, Eden camp nestles uncomfortably close to an electricity sub station, in beautiful rolling countryside. 

Built in 1942, Eden Camp was a prison of war camp for German and Italian prisoners of war. The museum is built out of the original 'huts' that housed the prisoners, brick built edifices that survive today. The tour starts at hut one and takes you through a journey in time from pre-war (1939-45), throughout the war and shows some subsequent conflicts too up to the modern day. But more than just a time line, there are many many aspects of life depicted of the ordinary person left at home as well as the soldier, aircrew and sailor and other services who supported the country such as the Land Army, Civil Defence and Local Volunteer Defence Force.
Just a tiny number of the 'huts' which comprise the Eden Camp Museum
 There's lot of reading to do and thousands of photographs to see on display boards as well as displays of life in war time which is in itself fascinating and replicas of shops and homes and a bomb damaged site. This is an award winning site and it's not difficult to see why. There is ample parking, a very good canteen/cafe which is quite large, the only advice I would give you is this, if you catch a coach trip as we did, you could be queueing for meals for ages, so if you took packing up or a picnic, there are plenty of places to eat outdoors.

Just a small part of a display about what was available as medicines at the time of war.
I remember Sloan's Liniment (it stank!)
The site really does contextualise what an horrific time war is for any nation and the hardship that it goes through must have been experienced to be believed, but it's important that we do understand what conflict is and that the lesson is that we should try every conceivable means to avoid it.

A memorial to Bomb Disposal Units
The six acres of living history that is Eden Camp is suitable for disabled people (including braille sheets and an audio guide) and there is free parking. There are excellent first class roads to the site. Dogs are welcome too and at £6.00 per adult and less for concessions, this is good value for money and is thoroughly recommended. Their website can be viewed here.

Chat soon


Friday, 31 August 2012

Once in a Blue Moon

An unusual solar event tonight - a blue moon. Now in my ignorance I imagined I would be going out to see a blue moon - literally, a blue colour. That is not the case I've learned.

You are never too old to learn and my view is we'll all keep learning until our days run out. The blue moon is in fact the second full moon within a calendar month. This is indeed a rarish event and the next time this happens is in 2015. Hence the phrase, "once in a blue moon". However, what is the mystery around it being 'blue' if it's not actually blue?

We find then that this second full moon within the month is a false moon - we've already had one full moon! The old English word for false or to betray is 'belewe' (as well as meaning blue). As the church calendar was constructed in part on the moons cycles, the populous needed to know which was the real moon and which the false (second in the month) moon, hence - the blue moon.

Well we have to go back as you would expect many centuries - in fact to the sixteen century and a piece of literature which took a pop at the clergy at the time. In essence it said that if the clergy told you the moon was blue (belewe), then you are expected to believe them.

Good story and even if it's not true, it's still a good one.

Just to confuse things however, moons can be seen as blue which is caused by atmospheric pollution such as smoke from fires or volcanic dust. The Smurfs thought a blue moon was actually blue and the detective agency in Moonlighting starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd from the 1980s was the Blue Moon Detective Agency!

Finally on this lunar subject, the song Blue Moon which was played on the radio this morning on the way to work. Written by Rodgers and Hart in 1934, the song was recorded among others by Billie Holiday, Elvis, Mel Torme and Cliff Richard. I heard the Marcels doo-wop version.

The opening lines of Blue Moon, a romanticised reworked film title tune, and sung by the male lead goes like this:

Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

'She' responds: 

Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And by the end, you know they've got together when they both sing:

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

I hope you have a great weekend, take care.

Chat soon


Monday, 27 August 2012

What's in a Number?

This is my 473rd post. Nothing particularly significant in that as such, however this was the year in which Leo the First granted his six year old son Leo the Second the title of Caesar in the Roman Empire. Today, the 473 bus in London will take you between North Woolwich  and Stratford and takes in the London City Airport. A few years ago, the journey would have taken you between  Dormansland (Plough) and Crawley via East Grinstead, Kingscote, and Three Bridges. The old hand painted aluminium bus sign above is from this site.

473 is the country telephone code for Grenada and United Nations resolution 473  adopted in June 1980 expressed concern and condemned South Africa for the killing of protesters, including schoolchildren opposed to apartheid. At the time of writing, Flight United 473 is travelling from LaGuardia to Chicago Hare International airport in the United States of America.

So there are some useless facts about 473; but some would look at the number and determine that indeed, the number may not be random and that it might actually mean something.

This is what numerologists do. In his excellent book, Complete Guide to Developing your Psychic Skills, David Wells outlines the basics and explains what numbers mean and how they can be used and I'll give you an example of how it works as I understand it, using the random number that I started with - 473.

Take the number 473 and add all the individual digits together: 4 + 7 + 3. This equals 14. Now, add 1 + 4 and this equals 5. And so 5 is the 'magic' number.

You can do this with your birthday. Say you were born on the 27 August 1960. This works out like this:  27 (the day) + 8 (the month) + (1 + 9 + 6 + 0).

Reduce this down to 9 + 8 + 17. This equals 34. Finally add these numbers together and your number is 7.

So what do your final numbers mean? Well that is a matter of interpretation and a good book like David's can explain it, so for example, in the above birthday example, 7 in terms of your life path, it means science, solitude, spiritual and mystical. My birthday is worked out as number 3: truth, optimism, playful, expressive. It is possible to work out your personality number, your life path number, your soul number  and your destiny number using your name (by assigning numbers to the letters), significant dates etc.

Now of course this is only for fun. If you think it's bunkum, well thank you for reading so far. The jury is out for me, but if asked what was your favourite number, what would you say? We are often asked that, like 'what is your favourite colour'. I have favourite numbers, for example, house numbers where I've lived, my personal number 3 is another and so on. Ask yourself why you have a lucky or favourite number or a colour - if you have one, are you superstitious do you believe in luck or is there another reason. 

Enjoy the ponder.

The work on the house continues apace and is on schedule. The work has already transformed the house, how it looks and how it feels. Another couple of weeks and we should have it finished ready to decorate out.

On Saturday  a couple of days ago, we had the most torrential summer storm including hailstones the size of marbles. Leaves were ripped from the trees and my poor flower heads on the geraniums were felled in a five minute deluge. Fascinating how the weather is showing signs of extreme weather which, in the mainland UK were fairly rare events up until the last few years, now they are regular occurrences.

Chat soon 

Ta ra.