Friday, 27 March 2015

A day of crime, cake and tea...

Well, I am going to a very first today...a crime writers' convention! Yes, I am going to a meeting where there will be nothing short of murder, mystery and suspense.

Why I am going is a mystery in itself but I have reason because I wrote a 100 word crime novel and entered my writing into the Flash Fiction Competition. So that is the suspense part...will I win??? without knowledge of any other short stories entered then I have no idea what the competition is like in terms of quality of writing, brilliance of comprehension, grammatical excellence.

My story is simple, well it had to be in 100 words. The scene is set and a few words bring you from the past to the present. And there is a twist...at least I think it is a twist. Good enough, well have to wait and see at the convention.

Now going to a crime convention for writers, if I win, I am sure going to upset a few, because there are many, no doubt, who have been writing of dreaded deeds, and have never made a huge success of it, this writing lark. A bit like my blogging, because sure no one bloody reads this waffle...I mean there are hundreds of blogs, about different subjects all over this internet thingy, we can't possibly read them all, more so the ones adorned with pop-up adverts.

My, going off on a tangent there! So, back to this convention...now one will have to ponder on what to wear? Agatha Christie style or hoodie and jeans? Polished shoes or trainers? A few coins in my lean wallet or a wad of Monopoly notes? Panama hat or beanie? Cigarettes or cigar? Oh dear, I think I am going to stick out like a sore thumb...not good if your trying to get away with murder!

Not that I am going to murder anyone, but I will certainly feel a bit odd because I am only going to see if I win...and if I don't then, Then, THen, THEn, THEN...BAM!!!!

" No officer, I had my own cake and drunk tea from my own flask...why were everyone poisoned?? How nasty...tut, tut, tut."

Oh yes, I am going to make sure I am on my guard, treat everyone with suspicious eyes, sit at the back and inspect my tea with vigour...fresh milk please! I will listen to all the guest authors with interest whilst trying not to fall asleep. I may also make conversation, with the less suspicious of course, so not to get bored.

But most of all I am going because its a little bit odd and something different and I need to expand on my skill of writing something great.

So bye for now, God Bless and amen.

PS: Now where are those darkened glasses of mine!!!!???

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My lovely town...(part 1)

Here are some photo memories of my joy of our town from 2014 and good reason as to why we should love our fantastic town...Its not just for the DFL's (Down From London) lot!!!


 A great seaside walk

The fun of the fair

It's history

Old Deal

It's churches

Recapturing the past

Carnival fun

The carnival atmosphere

The lorry pull event


Places to dine and wine

Great fundraising characters

The pier


 
 
Just some of those moments why I love my town...it is just GREAT and lovely.
 
 
 
 


Saturday, 7 March 2015

Gardening...digging away depression (2)

Well, how has it been in the last two weeks, first signs of Spring, mixed weather and the days slowly drawing longer here. Can mean only one thing: the work will start pouring in and as a gardener I will get busy...in general that's the idea, I hope!

Hocus, pocus...crocus

Yes, Spring is starting and if you did not plant any bulbs in early winter of 2014 then you probably have no pretty flowers making their way into the world. The first flowers you might see are more than likely snowdrops...and believe it or not someone paid a hefty sum for one particular, unusual type. Another spring flower you would see are crocuses...beautiful, vibrant colour and when catching the sun, pose well for a photo.

And so in taking the above, the most wonderful feeling is to share the joy with others on a site such as Gardeners' World...and of another similar shot we shared, the joy was felt by many. Seeing all those likes gave me a lift and hope for a good season ahead...it gets you noticed!

But the joy is not always good, when the weather turned and I was not able to work because of rain then my lift from high is like a big fall of a cliff...despairing at the lost therapeutic deliverance of gardening and, oh of course, the obvious income to survive.

 
...garden ideas...
 
 
One of the more uplifting moments is when working for a client, whom you find so many similarities in their and one's own path of life. They have tales such as yours, different woes, but the same end result...one tends to find empathy but empathising too much can be bad and drift one away from a steady path. So getting back to reality is to find that someone, a client, whom trusts in you and gives you a motivating lift as of the client whom took the pic below, having hired myself to treat the fence.
 
 


 
 
 
Cheap paint, cheap brushes...in fact almost everything from Poundland...boots from second-hand shops, nick knacks from charity chops, and hey presto with a few wood screws the fence is transformed into something of focused interest. And by posting these to my social media page gave me sense of achievement.
 
 
...limited cash flow...
 
 
It is great, getting those moments, they make you feel good about yourself, but as I have mentioned when the weather is against you then the fall is a long way down and too many times I have not wanted to pick myself up and get on with what I am doing best...or at the least ought to be doing.
 
Another thing against me is the limited cash flow, we are on a budget of survival, bills to pay, kids to please and time and cost for ourselves and a small time business that is crying out for ready investment, an investment I don't have...I just don't bloody have it! And in suffering anxiety and depression it makes it just a little harder...yes I smoke...but the smoking helps the relief but then so does the activity of gardening.
 
As my close friend says, my business model appeals to those with low income or might perceive the cost of gardening as expensive but I need investment to purchase better tools and replacements and of course service my car. He points out the opportunity cost of smoking but knows too well that such a habit suppresses my anxiety...get a hobby he says. Could I grow plants to sell as an added side-line? Could I make wooden ornaments for the garden?
 
With my limitations I would have to be very resourceful...perhaps this year will be a time of change be it forced or learnt. Stay with me, pray with me, help me stay on this path...only I can dig away depression. I need my wife, my family, my friends...it is them I must protect. I can do it! So show me your support and help me flourish like a garden for I am me!
 
God Bless and Amen.
 
 



Thursday, 19 February 2015

Gardening...digging away depression

I am not exactly sure of the reason why but gardening, I find, is therapeutic to battle depression and anxiety. It maybe the fact of payment or could could be just the  overcoming joy of having achieved something, or it maybe the actual activity of   physical work itself...I think it is the latter or so a doctor might say!



Before I embarked on this adventure of self-employment I was in a "different" place without doubt. I was in a comfort zone, a dangerous comfort zone, dependant on my pleasures of life that 15 years of being employed created, yet an employment that eventually took its toll on my mental health, whereas I had to change course for better or for worse...it had to be done and that meant stepping outside my comfort zone.

You see, probably over the years, I have never been a champion of change...hate it, loathe it, fear it! Yep, FEAR...worry...a sign, a clear sign of mental distortion, makes you anxious and eventually makes you ill with something that only a blind man can see.

And if change means spilling the apple cart or rocking the boat and you have fear of doing so then you cannot make that change, or of there is resistance then you will never implement that change and if there is objectivity, politically, and your trait is to be empathic then you will never force that change...one needs to be of stronger character to make change.

I have no doubt that I could step back into management within the industry I left but would such a move fester more mental stress...well I don't know, I just don't know. Because, you see, I embarked on becoming self-employed, not by desire but out of need...which in turn has its pressures and uncertainty and, with that, due worry.

I n my first year,  by luck I found clients whom I had a great pleasure to work for and in them I saw problems and welfare which at times were more compound than mine. And in working for them I learnt many things, tried in essence to solve problems either by doing or giving the best practical advice.

The most important thing, though the return was low, I was actually happy and it aided my mental well-being. I stopped, had no need to take medication for my suffering, and lost weight, shedding two stone.

But, and this is big but, I did not plan for winter...I mean there are jobs one can still do in the garden during winter, but my clients have gardens that they only wish to have maintained during the growing season. Only one from my knowing had more fallen leaves than that I could cram into my small hatchback. 

I remained, obstinately hopeful that my clients might see that a fruitful and well kept garden, desired work throughout winter as implied in many books and websites...but it were not to be. By chance we had a mild winter and the growing season was very much extended, yet the work would soon come to a grinding, slowing, winding down. 

With my readily, low returns now a drip, drip, drip of a few earnings here and there our income was tight and we had no choice to make some budget cutbacks, difficult when one is already on a DMP and Christmas was fast approaching. 

We put our mortgage on the line, reduced our payments to our DMP...and by chance, put onto a national charity whom surprised us to the fore and sponsored us with a financial grant...a small life-line, a huge sigh of relief, and a bloody big thank-you to a charity I had never even heard of despite  their size and importance.

Still, I had worries creeping back, promoted my services hard almost everyday on social media, self made adverts, picking out advice on gardening websites...and it worked gained some work for new clientele whom had found me via Internet searching. So I must be good at something...getting a good name for myself, I trust, I do so hope otherwise I might fall to calling myself a failure...sadly I do just that!

The biggest fear is getting back in touch with the clients I had last year and in getting new work...trust in others and gaining their trust in you is a massive hurdle to overcome. With all my new clients I have held immense worry and an indescribable fear of failure along with uncertainty. That in turn has manifested also where I have started back with some of my present clients.

Each job, each task, presents a new challenge but I see it as change that I say that I cannot cope with and I do not know why. I should be happy not sad, I should be full of life not down in the dumps, I should be positive not negative...for I have people who are believing and trusting in me and at present I do not seem to be able to return it in anyway.

Maybe, it is the weather, or the dark mornings, or knowing that some of the tasks I do not have the tools to do a sufficiently good job to hand and maybe that displeases me most. Or is it just me, me, me...

This time last year I nearly walked away from everything I had knowing or believing that there was no future. With my gardening business growing, slow though it might be, I have a future, I have a destiny, I have built up goodwill, yet I feel worse than a year ago, deep down, so deep down and it hurts.

I know what I need but don't know how to get there, I know what I must do but don't know how to do it... So crying is what I do! 

I need a hobby and I need a big plan..I need help. I know I have support and there is much love around me to help me cope...I just need a plan of change so I can as a gardener dig away my depression for good.

Amen and God bless.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Ten minute blog....not quite!

Well here I sit with my iPad writing a quick blog just for the sake of writing a quick blog because I haven't wrote a blog, a good blog for sometime. You know, the one that gets you noticed, instant fame, a column in a national rag, one that goes viral in 24hours...yes that type of blog.

But, to write that sort of blog in ten minutes I would have to be a bloody genius of some sort and have blogged about something that has captured the nation's heart strings more or less. Can I do it...well with four minutes gone probably not so...!

So here is what I ought to have done...wife is at bingo and due back soon. Dinner for her is two small jacket spuds, chopped salad and egg mayo. Now with only two minutes left please wish me luck...

Well the leaf is ready done in a bag from the local shop, spuds have been in for last 20 mins so should be blackened by now and crisp and soft inside, egg mayo was contrived earlier in day and I am about now to slice the tomatoes and cucumber and so present all on a plate.

I sort of, well...what can I say...but...effing hate cooking...you see I am the sort who can but won't or can't do...and when you suffer mental illness cooking is one of the least things to worry about and certainly one of the most stressful household tasks.  So in having to take five minutes out from writing just now, have I achieved the ultimate expectant salad for my love...well the proof is in the pudding so to say!


le salad...






Success...I so think! She loves me!

God bless and amen.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

Worry of their teenaged years...

Worrying of that teenage life...

Should I be worried for my children now both are teenagers? Should I worry that when things go wrong for them they want your compassion yet they tend to perceive beforehand they know more of life than yourself?
Yep, difficult questions and natural worry! But, be blessed about this...were we parents not the same?

Take my son, just turned 13 and at five foot ten he is taller by slight margin than me..."Coming to the rugby lunch?". Er, no he doesn't...! 

" I'm going to St Margaret's".  Obviously by bus because that is the only sensible way of getting there. " By train Dad!" WHAT???? Now do realise my son...and consciously I can sense myself shouting, raising my voice, putting my very serious dad head on as all those risks speed through my mind as what possible scenarios might unfold as he and his friends embark on this mini adventure.

Alarm bells ringing...the nearest station to where they are going is a three mile hike, along roads that resemble a roller coaster ride in places. Then there is the busy A road to cross, where more have been killed than I have fingers and toes...only last month a young person lost their life hitch-hiking that road! Then, there are those blind bends and hills en route...and at this time of year, well they are going to be walking back in the bloody dark at rush hour time...why oh why are you not getting the bus?!?

That is the perilous worrying done, now the financial bit...pocket money is a must. Money for train ticket, refreshments of some kind and if necessity arises change for the bus home rather than train. Oh no, they have it all suss'd...they can bunk the train! You cannot bunk the bus because as strapping teenagers you cannot exactly slip by the driver at the stop without causing a public scene. The train, four to eight times larger than the bus, a four minute journey ride and so much easier to bunk...NO...you get get caught that's a £20 fine...ten times more than the fare!

And then there is the environmental bit? In this day and age you get fined for dropping litter...leaving it on the train or bus is okay...they have cleaners of course. But getting refreshments to eat on a teenaged hike is a bit like a licence to litter...no bins, just hedgerow in which to dispose of their junk. You can put it in your pockets...no way Dad! Yep, they will leave a trail of wrappers and plastic bottles no doubt?

And then there is the thought and concern of having a dinner ready for them on their return home...well my son will be tired out and surely we gave him enough to get something filling to eat? Me I am off to a rather cheap and fantastic rugby lunch while my lad will be feasting on Haribos and Lucozade...so preparing dinner could be a wasteful affair...and gladly I was right. He went straight to his room and fell asleep...which means I will have to wait till morning to find out of his adventure...I mean the truth and nothing but the truth!

And now to my teenaged daughter, a bit more sensible with age, after all she is sweet sixteen next week, growing up fast, into make up, fashion and desire for riches to spend and boys....BOYFRIEND!?! "You be bloody careful...?!!" do I know him? What's he like? Who's his parents? Has he a job? You do not make a pass at my lass unless you are earning forty grand, I can let you know that now. 

" It's no more or less of a worry than we did for K..." assures my wife to me. It won't be long before she is off down the pub and rolling home drunk...that's the worry. She almost does as she pleases, secretly in her bedroom in full practice for X Factor. And where are you going? Not only do I ask of this once but several times, and yes it has to be several because at her age then their life is top secret. Shrouded in mystery!

Then with her, my delightful daughter has the lacking of advance planning. For herself, having a grammar education, for which she has strived on her own good effort, her friends are spread around a wide catchment area of up to 20 miles from our house...bloody annoying when at the drop of a hat she expects a lift to some remote part of our Kentish countryside...Yep a mere taxi service I am!

And with her is the staying out late and dinner quandary...as with with my son. So that is another worry of what to cook and ask if it will be wasted when she arrives home because she has eaten out...oh the joys! And to prepare dinner for all, the wife is on a diet for purpose, is not what they will have because of their fussiness. And me well I am a kind of can cook, won't cook type. 

I expect this worry is just natural...where they go, who with, what they will be up to, dinner, pocket money, lack of advance communication or warning, awaiting the expectant phone call, " Dad can you pick us up?"' a call that always comes at inconvenient times, like sitting on the toilet, and not do they ring your mobile, they ring the house phone...like a game or sorts, because as you reach one it rings off and the other then sounds, which cannot be found because it is stuffed away deep down the sofa or something.

Well, in essence, must be thankfully for mobile technology, for at least we have some reign on them...that's when they answer and for them they will have the notion to use a friend's phone  if theirs has died of battery.

And when they are home you have no more need of worry but when they don't wish to talk of what they have done today. " It don't matter Dad!" . It does, I won't to know and engage you both in conversation to see if you enjoyed your days. No, they don't wish to talk, just banish themselves away in their rooms...hope you didn't do anything wrong I at least wonder, as they never seem to wish to talk, or do I just sit and relax and wonder as to something that is not concerning enough...should I be worried of a knock at my door?

Oh well, live for another day!

God bless and amen.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

A card for good cheer....

A card for good cheer

Does delivering a card bring good cheer,
Why have you not bothered any other year.
What are you after to shove a card through my door,
And you turn and run when it falls on the floor.
Have you no gumption to knock and see,
If at this time of year how is me.
Well I stare out the window at passers-by,
It's been that way for a long old time.
No ever calls at any other time of year,
Except at Christmas to bring good cheer.
My neighbours of old have all passed on,
Replaced with new faces and families their names to me are so anon.
Yet now  I watch and listen from above,
I was once the neighbour that everyone loved.
And just to say why I don't answer the door,
It is because I am not here anymore.
Because no people they called into see,
I died in my sleep in my chair lonely.
So thank you so much for the card to bestow good cheer,
I will open it in Heaven with my Lord this year.

God bless and amen.