Accident Prone

This “falling off the blogging bike” business is getting worse. It’s been three days without a post this time. I’m not really sure why either. Life I suppose. Life happened.

We went out for a walk yesterday – all five of us – for the first time in months. We visited Hughenden Manor, a local National Trust property, and walked the longest route around the grounds. It was good just to get out in the fresh air. We saw very few people along the way – most people seem to think “a walk” is a few hundred yards from their car. We ten to think in terms of several miles – preferably away from everybody and everything.

I spent most of this morning on the roof of the house cutting back brambles that had grown into the guttering. I cut my hands to pieces in the process, but there was a reason for it – builders arrive in the morning to begin replacing the soffits and guttering around the entire house. Another hole the size of meteor crater in our bank account.

Over the last year you might have thought we would get ahead in the bank – given that we haven’t gone anywhere, or done anything. You would be wrong. One disaster after another has contributed to only just keeping our head above water for the entire year.

Perhaps the most unintentionally funny accident so far? Yesterday morning one of our kids “accidentally” flushed the button you press on the upstairs toilet to make it flush down the toilet. Therefore we will very likely have to replace the entire damn toilet.


It’s my other half’s birthday tomorrow (or today even – the clock just ticked past midnight). There is a stash of nice things hidden under my desk – expertly wrapped by the kids earlier today. Somehow we’re going to try and get through breakfast and presents before the builders arrive.


Being That Idiot

I was hoping to write a few words last night, just like I had been planning to write a few words the night before. I planned to write a few words this morning too – and I suppose I am now – but the clock keeps ticking, and I find myself being pulled in several directions at once. The breakfast things are cleared away, the washing machine is on, the clothes dryer is up and running, and I’m hitting keys on the keyboard. I suppose that’s writing, isn’t it?

I thought I would have half an hour to write something, but one thing after another has cropped up – taking away minutes before I start my working day. I have a little over ten minutes left now. Once I start work, I have a problem to solve in some programming from yesterday. Something that’s not working. I was thinking about it the moment I woke up this morning – I tend to do that – I almost unpacked my work laptop at midnight last night because I kept thinking about it.

I need to learn how to switch off better. For the last several months video games have been a pretty good avenue of distraction – perhaps once the vaccines have been rolled out I might go for a walk, and brave town once more. I’ve been stunned during the last year – despite desperate pleas from the government – at how many people put their own interests ahead of those of anybody else. They manufacture all manner of convoluted reasons, and don’t seem to realise the few of us that have followed guidance just think they are colossal assholes now, and probably will forever more.

Anyway. Enough of the angry-pants idiocy.

I have to get my work laptop out, and start trying to solve this problem, if only to prevent myself from going insane. If you see nothing from me for the next 48 hours, it’s most probably because I did an all-nighter working on it. Yes, I am that idiot.


Counting the Days

I started writing this post an hour ago. I got as far as writing the date. Perhaps this is indicative of the world at the moment – slowing to a crawl. Pausing. Stopping.

I put several holiday requests in with work this afternoon – stretching out over the next five months. We are hoping to visit my parents in the summer. I haven’t seen them for two years. We talk on the internet almost every week, but it’s not the same.

I grew up near Oxford. When my parents retired they moved to the south west coast – where we spent many holidays as children. The connection with Cornwall started entirely by accident – while looking for somewhere to stay with a young family many years ago, my Dad stopped the car next to a lady walking from a farm entrance, and asked if he might pitch his tent in a farm field. By the next year the farm had set a field aside for camping, and a year later built a toilet block. I can’t remember how many summers we spent there when I was young.

When visiting in the past we have felt life slowing down – the further we got from London. I suppose it might be different this time – the world has changed. We have already warned the kids that we may not make it to the beach – certainly not a popular beach. Although we will all be vaccinated against COVID by then, we don’t want to push our luck.

We’re hoping for a week of books, board games, peace, and quiet – holed up in my parents house for a few days. It will be good just to get away. Something to look forward to.

Four months. Counting the days.


Coffee O’Clock

It’s Mother’s Day today in the UK. I bought a box of chocolates for my Mum, and had them delivered – she lives over two hundred miles away. There’s a bit of a story though – I put the order in, and then realised I didn’t change the delivery address – so my other half has lucked into the same chocolates too. I ordered them again, and changed the delivery address the second time.

I have no idea what the kids have arranged. I know Miss 17 is planning on cooking roast dinner this evening – I imagine I’ll shadow her to save her from wrecking it. I have almost total confidence in her (roast dinner really isn’t that difficult). Notice I said almost .

The kids were talking about going for a walk this morning. If they had gotten out of bed, there were clear skies and sunshine at about 8am. It’s now 10:30, and the sky is slowly filling with dark clouds. They’re not up yet. Apparently rain will arrive mid-afternoon.

We have a bird-box on the old apple tree at the end of the garden. A family of bluetits have set up home in it – they used it last year. They have been busy flying back and forth with sticks to build their nest. We looked for the binoculars yesterday to watch them, but couldn’t find them. Another pair is on-order from Amazon – no doubt the old binoculars will now turn up, because that’s how the universe works.

I wish I had something more exciting to share. Life seems to have been reduced to “things seen out of the window” over the last year. At least I’m still writing though, even if my words have been reduced to a trickle.

I think it’s probably coffee o’clock.


Choose Your Own Adventure

While sending messages back and forth with a friend this morning, it struck me that life can be compared to a “choose your own adventure” book.

If you’ve never seen a choose your own adventure book, they were all the rage about forty years ago. You would read a passage from the book, leading to a decision for the reader to make about what the protagonist does next. Each potential action is listed out, with the page number to turn to in order to read what happens next.

Once you start thinking about the adventure book, you start wondering about the decisions you make during a typical day, week, month, or year. How might your life be different had you made different decisions?

I suppose this all loops back around to a book I received for my birthday – “The Midnight Library”, by Matt Haig. I have still to read it, but the synopsis is intriguing;

Nora’s life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?

I’m looking forward to reading it, and find myself wondering if the universe has a strange habit of doing what it was going to do, regardless of our choices. Perhaps we end up broadly where we were going to be, regardless of how we get there.


Distant Friends

I have been thinking this evening about the friends I have made around the internet during the time I have been writing an online journal. All sorts of people, from all over the world. Younger people, older people, different races, religions, cultures and backgrounds.

The written word is quite wonderful really – it has the ability to subtract physical appearance, wealth, and location – leaving the really important things on the table – thoughts, ideas, dreams, hopes and stories.

I’ve always been a sucker for a great story. When I have time to sit down and catch up with the various blogs I follow, I become enthralled with the stories. The everyday stories, experiences, and reflections. The small things.

Tolkien once wrote “it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay”. I think he was right. Through our shared stories we remind each other that we are not alone – that there are others like us out there. They might be half a world away, but the magic of the internet reduces that to a voice in our ear, a picture in our hand, and hope in our heart.

I’m also aware that I sometimes go for months without reaching out to those I have known for so long – months without letting them know that I still read, I still follow, and I still care. I need to work on that.


Where does the time go?

I’ve been sitting in the dark of the study with the word processor open in front of me for a few minutes – trying to organise my thoughts. Somehow a browser tab opened up in front of me, then another, and before I knew it half an hour had vanished. Browsers should come with warning stickers – “not for the easily distracted”.

There’s more – click here to read it.


Where does the time go?

I’ve been sitting in the dark of the study with the word processor open in front of me for a few minutes – trying to organise my thoughts. Somehow a browser tab opened up in front of me, then another, and before I knew it half an hour had vanished.

Browsers should come with warning stickers – “not for the easily distracted”.

Perhaps it’s time to shut the computer down, and go fall asleep with my nose in a book. I’m good at falling asleep while reading. It’s a skill. To practice it, you first have to work from home while also doing chores, and occasionally wake up in the middle of the night when rain pelts the roof and windows. It helps if your work involves juggling several projects at once too.

How is it nearly 1am already?

I promise to have something more insightful or interesting to share tomorrow. It’s been a bit of a day today, with one thing and another. I’m getting a lot more done without the kids kicking around the house, but that means I’m not stopping either. I’ve worked through to mid-afternoon two days in a row without realising I missed lunch. Who would have guessed that distractions were such a good thing?


Going the Distance

I’ve been picking away at some research and development work for the last couple of days – trying to get my head around some new technology – making head or tail of how it works, what it can do, and how best to use it. After spending the greater part of the day feeling like I was bashing my head against a brick wall, I finally started to make progress late in the afternoon – and ended the day with a working demonstration of something that had previously existed only as a doubtful question mark on a wish list.

Suffice to say after work finished I walked to the corner shop and bought a bottle of wine. I’m two glasses in, and thinking that any more will cause a headache. I’m SUCH a lightweight. I also bought chocolate bars for everybody.

Alison Moyet is playing on Spotify. Or Yazoo. I forget which single was released under which name. The next track up is “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”. I wonder how revered Elton John will be when he’s no longer around? I have a suspicion he’s given nowhere near as much credit as he deserves. Yes, he’s been an asshole in the past, but he’s admitted it.

I burst out laughing in the cinema watching Rocketman when Elton came out with the immortal line:

“I started acting like a c*nt in 1975, and just forgot to stop”.


Today went well. I got chores done, washing done, clothes dried, and lots of work done – all in the absence of anybody else in the house. Actually – that’s a lie. My eldest daughter was here, sitting on the lounge floor all morning playing “Animal Crossing” on the Gamecube. I got the old games machines out of the attic a few days ago – she’s been re-living her childhood ever since.

The younger children went back to school today, and were full of stories at dinner time. We make a point of all sitting at the dining table together for dinner every night, and asking how each other’s day went. Well – all except me. I’ve told the story before about why they don’t ask about my day (along the lines of me starting to rabbit on about something technical, and then getting interrupted with “and that’s why we don’t ask what Dad did today”).

Phil Collins just finished singing “Groovy Kind of Love”, if you’re interested. Mike and the Mechanics are about to sing “The Living Years”.

I think it’s time for a cuppa.