Saturday, 24 December 2011

On being single at any time & especially at Christmas

I am approaching my half century - well Im nearer to it than my 21st!I have lived alone for the past 11 years, not necessarily through my own choosing but my "knight in shining armour" has failed to locate me as yet. Im still hopeful but I have to accept his charger is probably lame these days, his lance will be bent, his armour rusty & if he has a satnav, well its one thats taken him the long way round!No sympathy required, I have had my share of boyfriends in that time but just none that went on to become anything more.

I dont mind being single.To be honest, Im not sure that I could or would want to share my life on a "full time" basis now. I know Im lucky in that I enjoy my own company and these days will head off to do most things alone. At least that way I get to do what I want to do. I am also blessed with some lovely friends so apart from being a bit short on hugs I dont feel I miss on much.

What does annoy me though is the attitude of society to single people. If you are a single, you are considered almost to be a liability, an oddball, misfit or that's how it feels at the receiving end. A few years ago, when I was ill and unable to easily travel home, a friend used to invite me to join her family for Christmas dinner. This arrangement went on for several years until one year she commented that the next time they were going to have just a "family Christmas" without the "hangers on". Now that phrase has stuck with me ever since. I would hate to be thought of as a "hanger on". I used to join them for dinner and leave afterwards, was careful not to outstay my welcome so that comment cut very deep.

Lots of folk seem to think Im mad for not heading home to my family, though my family understand and respect my decision which is after all, all that matters. It would involve a journey of a min. 3 hrs to spend 2 days, only to head back on Tuesday at a time of year when the weather is not at its finest. My folks were up the other week in any case to celebrate my birthday so its not like we dont see each other. This way I actually do get to wind down, relax, have a lie in, enjoy food at a time that suits me and do whatever else I please. I was chatting with someone last night who said he would love to be able to spend Christmas at home with his wife and no one else instead of which, they trundle from one relative to another as do countless other folks this time of year.

The media this week had a splurge on making sure that "your neighbour is not alone" this Christmas. An example, no matter how well meant, of making singles out to be requiring of sympathy and charity. Now I am all for keeping an eye on folk and making sure that they are not lonely but there is a big difference between lonely and alone. I am also a big believer in respecting and enjoying your "elderlies" they have such knowledge to impart and are great company - am sure they are very much under appreciated in today's society and that is such a shame.

When we have "do's" in the village - esp. of a dining nature, they are basically set up with couples in mind. Singles are positioned where it is deemed to be politically suitable or on a table by themselves as if a group of "lepers". When it comes to booking to go places, esp accommodation, we are penalised by having to pay a single supplement. A certain fee I can understand but some are really excessive.I am sure these fees are set by people who are in "couples" who may not have been single for a long time and forget how it is to be single.

I just wish that people who are lucky enough to have someone to share their life with would think before they make comments that upset those of us who are for one reason or another on our own. Even though Im happy to be single it doesnt mean I dont have any feelings. I also hope that firms will consider the marketing value of singles and stop penalising us. Our money is as good as the next consumer's and there are a lot of us out here in the real world.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

World Wide Photo Walk Peterborough Cathedral

What a grand way to spend an afternoon! And what weather! Couldnt have ordered better!

A good way to meet people with a similar interest but each of us very different. There were just shy of a dozen of us and we set off on our very relaxed journey around the Cathedral just after the agreed 1pm meet time. There was plenty of time to take photographs, chat, enjoy the weather and surroundings. Our walk leader, @TipSquirrel made sure everyone was ok & that no one got left behind when we moved between areas, pretty much the perfect host I guess :) Oh & he did manage to take some photographs of his own I believe. By the time we got back to the starting point, a cup of tea and a slice of yummy cake were much needed and appreciated, thanks to "Coffee & Cookies".

I had never been on anything like this before and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.. think there may even be a few half decent photographs too.

I know the heat and concentration certainly tired me out but Id recommend anyone who might be interested to just get brave & give it a try.
Life is for living after all :)

Many thanks to my fellow photowalkers for their company & making it a fun afternoon & special thanks to @TipSquirrel for leading us on our merry way :-)

Ooops a long pause then....

Just looked at my blog and realise its nearly 4months since I posted anything here..though in my defence work has been pretty manic. Long days and when I get free time Im trying to make the most of that as well.
Plans to improve my working hours are coming slowly to fruition so that I hope to be one job less by about Christmas time. In the meantime, Im looking to get one sculpture made up , hoping to find time to make at least 2 rag dolls and of course Im off out with the camera at most available free moments which will lead me on to my next post....

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Do we have a guardian angel?

I dont know the answer to that but I am sure that there are more things going on in this world than we can see or control.

And so to my journey home last evening...
On my route to and from work,there is a 2 mile stretch of winding road from which I turn off to the right at a t junction that cuts back on itself at a bad angle. The whole stretch needs driving with much respect. Much of it is solid white lines, there are plenty of chevron markers to indicate bends and yet every few weeks or so you will see a car in a field or a piece of hedge taped off.

I have driven along this road since I very first came up to this part of the world in 1986/7 so its not like I'm unfamiliar with it.

Last night, on my way home I was driving along as usual when a saloon car came speeding up behind me. It isnt possible to overtake and I was doing just under 60mph where I could but slowing for the bends as I normally do. Two bends before I turn off,a strange shadow (its the only way I can describe it)passed over the car.In fact I thought it was the saloon car overtaking me but no, he was still glued to my bumper. I indicated to turn right and slowed, watching him in my mirror.. he wasnt backing off at all, I got to the point where I turn, which has a dip to obscure approaching traffic(told you its a dodgy bit of road) & I turned. Now I admit, I was bothered by the goon behind me and that is why I never looked as well as I normally do to see if the road was clear... as I turned I could see 3 cars approaching. I dont know how I got across the road without an accident.

It still makes me shiver at the thought,I know you will think me daft but as I drove home.. I wondered.. was that shadow my guardian angel moving past to prevent what might have happened?

I dont know. I never will know but whatever happened there I am grateful for it and I appologise sincerely to the drivers whose path I drove across. As for the idiot who was behind me.. I doubt he even realised what he was doing !!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Pubs called "The Vine" & other things...

I have been lucky enough to go away 3 times already this year... thanks mainly to spotting and booking very cheap deals with Travelodge which allow me to have a break for as little as £10 a night. My other stay was in the most gorgeous B&B @nicelittleplace nr Leominster to which I shall return later this year hopefully but that is a whole other tale for another day.

My reason for writing today is to pass comment on certain things that have cropped up time and again as I travel this country. They wont put me off but how many others will be deterred I wonder... so PR people, tourist info gurus, town planners.. please listen up

Signs & Directions

Not all of us have SatNav.. it is a device I am really not keen on.. I can read a map, am happy to buy maps of a local area and at least I remember landmarks & dont just blindly follow a faceless voice. When putting signs up in a town .. get someone from out of the area to check if they work or are correct...Kidderminster obviously doesnt want visitors.. the signs for town centre took me into a car park attached to a shopping precinct. I didnt want to shop.. I wanted to see Kidderminster but apparently its a secret as I fear is Basingstoke .. Ive not managed to find my way to the town centre despite following signs that indicate it is not too far distant from where I am staying. Ringroads may take traffic out of the town but that is surely the problem .. as a traveller you dont get to see the town that you may want to stop at and explore.. you just get taken on a lengthy detour past it which brings me to my next point..


When I visited Gloucester back in January.. I took the first sign for town centre car park... found myself in a very expensive NCP car park.. not best pleased but paid up as I foolishly believed the signs... when I got down to the Waterways museum... I found I could have parked there for the same time for less than half the price. I was not happy but it was too late,the fee was paid and I felt I had been stitched up! I now make a point of ignoring the first car park sign to investigate other options though this backfired in one town.. there was only the one car park in an obscure setting so I just carried on & saved my money to spend somewhere else. When you find a carpark, why are there so many complicated options to pay for your parking place?? Today, in Newbury I think was the best(worst) to date... I followed the signs for car parks.. ended up in one at Bear Lane..ticket machines are in bus stop type shelters.. head there only to find that machine out of order... follow instructions to another shelter in an adjoining carpark only to realise that there is no fee payable on Bank holidays. Upon reading all the notices.. I think these carparks are normally a barrier/ticket operated system with cctv and all sorts of gizmos.. sure this kit is all incredibly expensive and a normal machine would be far more economical and user friendly!
Please can we have better signs indicating car parking options and make parking simpler and user friendly .. I dont want to have to take a degree in order to park the car!

Next a plea to
Tourist Information .....

Why oh why when it is a day that people are likely to be visiting somewhere are the Tourist information offices closed ????? #Newbury today #Gloucester in January
Surely Bank holidays are the days you should be open .. or am I missing something? I thought the clue was in the name.. it seems its more "tourist disinformation, please dont come near us we want a quiet life ".

Town Museums

These appear to be buildings that specialise in being closed - not great if you want to learn more about a place and its history. I took great pains to look for the museum in Gloucester to find it padlocked shut... saw there was a museum in Newbury today , thought it would be worth a visit but only to find it too is closed. Now perhaps Gloucester can expect not to have too many visitors in January but its now Easter - so whats going on Newbury????

Customer service

Which brings me to The Vine... this seems to be a popular pub name in Hampshire .. still havent quite worked out why but will do some digging and find out in time.
I went to Stockbridge this morning.. a really lovely place where I had a good mooch along both sides of the street before deciding a cup of coffee would be nice prior to setting off once more. There was a posh deli/coffee place which looked too "in" for me and another that looked like Id feel guilty for dropping a crumb so I settled on a pub called The Vine which had a board outside advertising among other delights, morning coffee.
I headed inside and saw a gent behind the bar who was on the phone.. he continued his conversation, with a supplier, for several minutes, at no time breaking off to say hello or apologise for the delay. He made a point of saying he didnt want to be at work (whether this was a joke or not was difficult to ascertain). By the time he finished his call, there were three other customers besides myself. There was no apology from him nor greeting as I placed my order for coffee, nor to the others as he served them. I drank my coffee and decided that it was a shame I had selected this place as it had put a dampener on my visit.
Why do people work in service industries if they actually dont want to serve the public????? Pubs are hard work.I know from watching the owners and staff at my local - its not a case of standing behind a bar and chatting to your mates, there are many hours before and after closing to make a place run like clockwork - very much a case of serene swan on the surface but paddling like mad beneath to keep everything running smoothly.

I am born & bred in this country, know the language and the quirks but think about if I was a newcomer and faced some of the things Ive mentioned above .. would I want to remain? Or come again ? Or recommend to anyone else? In Europe, as with a lot of things they generally have customer service to a tee .. nothing is too much trouble.. gifts are nicely wrapped as a part of the purchase -yesterday,a gent had to ask for paper to wrap a gift he was buying at Salisbury cathedral shop- he shouldnt have had to, it should have been gift wrapped upon purchase.

The great British public it seems, are spending more of their holidays on these shores, so surely now is the time to be really making sure that customer service in ALL AREAS is absolutely the best so they have less reason to head back abroad in future years

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Biker chick? Me? No No No

Its a label Ive had applied to me several times the past few days, since I said I wanted to go to Donington Park to watch the World Superbikes on practice day.

I like engines.. always have done since childhood.. be it boats, powerboats, cars, lorries, motorbikes, - its engines. I have always preferred the company of men, my best friends have bar one always been male, right back to infant school ( playschool wasnt a common thing when I was a littl'un). Engines and workshops, spanners , wrenches, hammers,gauges, all have a great fascination for me.

Ok, so I know I tweeted sumat about testosterone, leather and oil yesterday but its not a sexual thing at all.I just find engines amazing and to watch a bike come flying down the track at over 100mph yesterday, the sounds and smells it's all just pure fascination. How you can tweak and tune a piece of metal to produce that much energy and power? - I darent go for a pass to the paddock Id never watch a bike on the track!

At work, one of our customers does repair work on ship's engines, I so want to go and see their workshop and I'm sure they'd say yes if I asked but I've resisted so far.

I guess girl's grammar school 30yrs ago wasnt the place to be if you wanted to be a mechanic and tbh I dont think I ever have wanted to follow it as a career. Engineering to our career's teacher was of the genetic or theoretical variety not the muck n bullets end of the scale.Luckily, Ive never been too far from engines and workshops be it through work or leisure so I get a "fix" of fumes on a regular basis.

I went to Donington because I thought it would make a good morning out taking photographs of something different to my usual landscapes. It made a brilliant morning out... I even took some passable photos but my best souvenir of the morning is the several recordings I made with my phone of the engines screaming out their power, slowing to a virtual stop and the powering away up a hill. They actually gave me more pleasure than I can put into words. Now, I know lots of you will think "sad cow" I dont mind, not many will understand but a few of you just might..

Purple hair & other things people pretend werent there

A couple of years ago, I dyed my hair bright was done for a reason and was a temporary measure just for a few weeks.

I was amazed at the way people reacted. Some reacted in a good way, others were horrified and said so but there were a good number who tried to pretend it hadnt happened, that I had normal conventional coloured hair. There was no mistaking it - it was bright...and pink ...and apparently you arent supposed to admit that you dye your hair by making such a statement.

A few weeks passed, I reverted to my usual ash blonde and all was well with the world again. Last summer,having spent the first six months ill with my gall bladder, I promised myself I would use up the box of purple hair dye I had, once I felt well, just for a laugh. Once more it drew varying opinions but the difference was ,I really liked it and so it has stayed.

People can like or dislike, it matters not to me, nor did it when it was pink. I know I am happy with who I am , I dont need anyones approval to be me. And my hair colour doesnt change the person that I am although there are a number of people who really cant deal with it and that is the point of this rambling.

You will see from my previous two posts that I recently found a lump in my breast.. this is also something that people would prefer you didnt mention. Dont get me wrong, I had a lot of support from friends in real life and on the internet but it surprised me the number of people who obviously felt uncomfortable that I had had the temerity to mention it.

No matter who we are, we are here for a limited time and that is how it should be, eternal life would be very strange. And while I would love to just go to sleep one day not wake up (a long time hence I would hope), we cant choose how we go. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was and although not all curable many cancers can be managed. So why brush it under the carpet and pretend its not happening?

It is all the little and big things that happen to us that go to make us the individuals that we are. Individuality is important, I know Im a bit eccentric but in a good way I hope.If everyone goes one way, I tend to go the other just to see what they are missing.

I fully appreciate thats lots of people arent as comfortable with who they are, there is a lot of media pressure to be ...similar... perfect....the best piece of advice I can give is to ignore all of this.

Learn to love the person that you are, appreciate your faults, accentuate your good points and we all have plenty of both. And face up to reality, accept that life isnt all "roses round the door and happy ever after". It is easier to deal with things than to hide them away, they just become big scary monsters in a dark place if you let them but face them and they shrink to a manageable size.Lots of the time it can feel like wave after wave of problems washing over you but there are good times and the bad bits make the good bits feel even better. Learn to appreciate the simple things that dont cost money, like a walk in the park or the country, look at the insects toiling or the flowers blooming.Make the most of every day because Im sure there are never going to be enough to do all of the things we would wish to.

Friday, 18 February 2011

And the result is..

It was a cyst - well two actually and they were drained and dealt with yesterday while I was at the clinic.
I have to say the NHS and more especially the breast care clinic at the Glenfield Hospital have been brilliant - 12 days from finding the lump to dealing with it - dont think anyone can knock that!
So having now had a really good kip and feeling a bit tender on one side its onwards and upwards once more.
Have a lovely weekend everyone - I certainly intend to :)

Friday, 11 February 2011

My hand brushed across...

Last Saturday night, I was starting a bad cold and had fallen asleep with the laptop running on the bed as normal. I woke about 10.30ish and decided to catch up with life in the twitterverse while I had been asleep.

This involved propping myself up on one elbow, sort of lying on my side.. not easy to describe.. anyhow during the course of fidgeting to get comfortable, my hand brushed the side of my right breast.. hesitated and retraced its steps... no mistaking .. there was a lump....! I do check myself regularly and definitely hadn't noticed this before.

In the shock of the moment I blurted this info on twitter... not a bad thing I think though I appreciate not comfortable for all of my followers. Thankfully the lovely folk who have become friends over the past year rallied to my support . I felt again, it was still there... so no mistaking ,it needed sorting...

Luckily I already had an appointment with the Doctor for Tuesday afternoon on another matter, not that I was going to avoid the issue anyway... rather be told I'm an idiot than hope things will improve on their own. The Doctor felt it before she said anything so I knew I wasn't being daft. Anyway, she seemed to think it is most likely a cyst but has referred me to the breast clinic at Leicester to be certain. Yesterday the appointment arrived - for next Thursday afternoon. I had a suspected lump a few years ago and was referred to the same clinic. Its a really brilliant service and I know that by the end of next Thursday afternoon I will know if it is indeed a cyst or some other type of lump- good or bad and some idea of how it will be dealt with .

I still cant make up my mind if I should have blurted it out or kept quiet but to be honest, it feels better sharing it - shared is halved after all. I cant thank enough my twitter friends who have been great in their support and I will post next week when I have been to the hospital and I know what it is that has the nerve to hide in my breast.