The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Hard graft....


    Not only have I commenced upon a life of piracy this week with the re-launch of my E-bay concern to facilitate the laundering of plunder and ill gotten gains, I have dragged my sorry arse into another scheme long debated whilst festering upon a sofa in my wallowing self pity. What prey tell, I hear you mutter under baited breath, could this purveyor of plunder now contrive to weave with his treacherous ways towards his aim of world domination? Oh all right I mean what the hell is the muppet up to now? Well come closer dear reader and I shall tell you of more deeds to aid me upon the road to simple happiness....

     Late last year, before that damned christian 'festival' known to the pandering populous as Christmas, I had a sudden attack of get up and go (which quickly subsided) and enquired about the possibility of obtaining an allotment. Needing to fill my time when not engineering my living in the Fun factory I also asked if there were any allotments that required help on, the idea being that I'd provide the labour (I'm not total knackered just yet!) whilst needy allotment owners may impart some knowledge for the time whilst my name sallies forth to the top of the waiting list. Imagine my surprise when I was contacted about possibly helping out on an allotment that was run for the needy, very apt I thought, and after several attempts I managed to meet up with Caroline, said organiser, manager and dog's body for this scheme. It was quickly established that the arrangement would be mutually beneficial to both parties, with my brawn and Caroline's obvious deep knowledge of horticulture and her infectious and overflowing enthusiasm.

     Then my get up and go got up and went as the Black dog took hold for awhile leaving me bereft of ideas or the willingness to raise even one butt cheek of the sofa. But the tide turns once more and I once more set sail for a simple future. Already pleased this week with setting up my piracy endeavours my enthusiasm pushed me further and I ventured to view the allotment. 

     I knew already that it had been untended for sometime but I wasn't expecting that it would require starting almost from scratch! The greenhouse has 50% of it's glass missing, there is a large encroachment of raspberry cane from unkempt allotment alongside and the place is thoroughly overgrown. One positive is the tool shed which appears reasonable well stocked.

     So with a barely noticeable shrug of my shoulders I placed my foot on this baran piece of land. It's no use rushing such an undertaking but at the same time I knew that some visible progress would act as a spur to return and continue. First things first then I cleared all dead branches and litter that had blown in. Not having much knowledge I do understand that a working compost is a good thing and a place to rid the plot of unwanted organic matter. With this in mind I cleared one of the large compost bays and, sourcing some timber, made some running repairs until something more substantial can be done. I've measured the greenhouse and I'm pretty certain I know of some perspex that requires liberation. Finally I started on the paths after realising that once done the access gained will make working on the site so much easier. After digging out, I  laid some opened up plastic bags covering the now exposed soil and finally covered with a generous layer of shredded tree bark, kindly provided by the council for this purpose. 

    I managed to complete one path before the light started to fail, so after  tidying and cleaning all tools I took a moment to sit on my arse and enjoy the sense of achievement I felt. Maybe my efforts seem somewhat small to some but for a brief moment I felt at peace as my mind was able to settle and dark thoughts took flight. Oh another thing tis been a couple of days since my visit to the allotments and I'm still bloody well aching in places un-ached in before!

    Now I could have saved this for the 52 jobs in a year but by posting it now it'll hopefully spur me on to another task before the weekend..... High way robbery perchance? 



Sunday, 26 January 2014

52 Projects.


     Tis always a good idea to try and implement something that will motivate and drag my sorry arse out of it's self wallowing place on the sofa, fighting the black dog is far better than succumbing to it, although this not always possible. So when I came across a fellow bloggers "52 Projects...." the idea struck a chord. The idea comes from Dreamer's blog "Living a slow and simple life" and in her own words goes like this;-

 "The idea of 52 Projects is to get you motivated to chip away at tasks or projects that you have been putting off doing. Whether it is things that need doing around the house and garden or activities you have intended to try but never got around to it, new crafts you may want to sample, recipes you have thought about trying, a particular walk you have been intending to undertake - whatever it may be that you have been putting off. Taking these tasks and breaking them down into achievable chunks could help you to get motivated again, and start getting through them one baby step at a time. I have a pile of stuff to get through plus some enjoyable stuff I want to try out too so hopefully by tackling just one thing a week I will start to make some progress."

    So today I have completed my first task, a simple step maybe but a step looking forward nonetheless. A few years ago I had a sideline in.....erm...well piracy was indeed mentioned by some rather distasteful and small minded folk, although I prefered the term 'roguish behaviour', ahem which involved the procurement and selling of items of exceptional good taste (although it may not be wise indeed to enquire as to the source of such items). Anyway, this enterprise ran through the medium of E-bay and I have pondered upon the resurrection of this source of good, ahem again, honest income for some time but with not actually having the gumption to shake off the self pity and loathing to do it (or anything else for that matter!). But after reading Dreamer's blog it seemed that a simple task every week would not be beyond me so I have spent the majority of today preparing and also sourcing some items to start the ball rolling, only five items and nothing special but all helping to shed the threads of the past. As the weeks go on I shall be hoping to build upon this enterprise and who knows perhaps soon I'll be sailing my own brig once more? Of course this is only the first of 52 weeks so in the coming weeks more tasks will indeed have to be completed and reported about to keep in the spirit of 52 Projects....

     So a thank you to Dreamer and a cheeky question..... if any of you bloggers would like to the "Help John become a wealthy Pirate" enterprise with donations of saleable items please don't be bashful and get in touch.

A Haaaa



Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Cup and Saucer


     It was a quiet and relaxing time the other day, especially after working far too much overtime of late which has had an impact upon physical & mental matters not to mention the huge impact it has had upon my relationship or should I say lack of relationship! I have found myself far too tired both mentally and physically to function properly and make rational decisions so it was indeed nice to lay back and rest my body for a day and then walk a late afternoon to ease my mind as well. I cannot express too much how a long walk with Bramble at my side can help put life into perspective.

     So loading the Bear into 'flat cap man's car' we headed to Erddig hall, somewhere where I have not been in several years. Tis a pleasant enough place with rolling pastures, woodland trails and, with the recent rains, gurgling rivers although a tad too popular with other humans for my liking to be honest. I'm not a people person and much prefer the company of Bear and little else when out on the trail. 

     This said and done, the walk on Sunday afternoon was enjoyable. I have a fascination with old engineering, stuff from a bygone era, when everything was built to last and if a job was worth doing you did it well. It's a far cry from today's throw away culture where everything is designed to fall apart and is built so it's not possible to be repaired. So it was pleasing when we came across the cup and saucer. 

     Apparently this unusual water feature was the intake and power for a hydraulic ram pump system which then pumps water up some ninth feet to provide water for the hall's gardens and water features. Fortunately an explanation and brief history of this system can be found on a plaque near by, which does save my stubby fingers.

     There was surprisingly quite of lot of interest in the relatively small grounds and apparently the hall opens to the public and has various events throughout the year. Well enough of the advertising speal.

     We spent several pleasant hours wandering around and it became even more pleasant as the light began to fade and with it the people, allowing me more peace. Well relatively so until my unerring sense of direction found us lost in the woods and with the light now fading fast I was left considering backtracking or wading across a rather swollen and turbulent river. Rather than put Bear at risk we turned around and fumbled our way out of the woods as the light finally left for the night, with open pastures back to the car and a clear, star lit, sky the last couple of miles were enjoyable, especially to Bear whose heightened senses were on full alert.

     Finally back to the car park, knackered, cold and hungry but with a feeling that only can be found when you've pushed yourself beyond what you thought able and your best friend was alongside of you all the way.

Keep well,


Thursday, 16 January 2014

15:01 Bugger


It is peculiar how a person may be viewed and then judged by others based upon  first impressions, gleaned from just a fleeting glance, that an outward appearance may convey. Take myself for instance, I guess that most people's first impression of me, based upon my outward appearance, would be one of mild disinterest. After all I dress plainly, more for comfort than for vanity, I'm overweight but told that I carry it well, I'm clean but don't drown myself in man-fume, I'm polite but tend not to initiate conversation and I do tend not to go out of my way to impress or impose. I guess you would say that I have the perfect camouflage to pass unnoticed through the urban jungle. 

So people pass me by, sometimes with a nod and even more rarely a smile, but usually without a second thought and I'm forgotten along with the rest of the crowd. Perhaps if people could see inside another person with that passing glance a very different scenario would be the case. Perhaps if that would happen some of the crowd would step away from me more quickly, concerned by the darkness that sometimes clouds my mind. Then again perhaps some within the crowd would feel compelled to approach me, to offer help when seeing the unbearable pain and guilt that my darkness leaves embedded even after it has lifted for a time.

Yes it is funny peculiar how instant impressions can sometimes give an opinion of someone that is then hard to change. When I walked isolated trails regularly with Lucy, my canine companion, at my side the few people I'd come across were always happy to stop and chat awhile, to pass away a few moments of time talking about the trail, flora and fauna and the weather. Even if there wasn't a stop there would usually be a smile, a cheery hello and a nod to a fellow trail follower. Then Lucy passed away before her time and I needed the solitude and solace that nature could bring more than ever. But here's a thing walking those same trails without Lucy bounding away I noticed that people viewed a solitary man differently with perhaps feelings of slight discomfort, certainly with much less openness. So with this and the fact that walking those trails without Lucy was tinged with the sadness of not having her there to share them with I gradually stopped walking and a piece of me slept. 

It is strange how a first glance can shape people's thoughts and opinions. almost instantly about another fellow human being without actually knowing that person. On the trail with Lucy I was considered no threat, a nice guy because he has a friendly dog whom he takes the time to look after and walk. Taking Lucy out of the equation and perhaps I was viewed at times with distrust and even with some foreboding. Strange indeed, as I try and tell people I'm still an axe murderer whether or not I have a dog at my side! 

The reason why these thoughts have wandered across my usually baran mind? Well although outwardly I am as drab and as unassuming as a hen pheasant, remove my clothes, steady now ladies, and there lies a different side to me......tattoos. And it was whilst being tattooed at Wrexham Ink by Nick Green on Tuesday that part of the conversation,  besides global warming, Dolly Parton, The Hobbit, Austin Powers, The Rock, allotments, chickens and Starship Troopers (so bad it's brilliant),  turned to how people perceive tattoos and how it seems to viewed differently by different generations.

It's over a decade since my first tattoo and several have followed. For me they are personal, each having meaning and if I wear a T shirt and knee length shorts nobody is aware of them. They are now firmly part of me and I seldom give them a thought through a normal day. So much so I forgot that they are there until, perhaps, I catch a glimpse of my rotund self in an unforgiving mirror. 

Now my father is as old fashioned as they come, draconian I would even dare to say though not to his face I hasten to add. He has an opinion upon everything and has never failed to express it, even now in his eighty fourth year. He is the epitome of  victorian man;- head of the table, a woman's place is at home, he says what he likes and bloody well likes what he says and his opinion is the only one that's right, doesn't hold with foreign food nor bloody 'Jonny foreigner' for that matter and supports the death sentence for offences such as loitering, being unaccompanied by an adult when under the age of 18. Ok that last one was perhaps a tad exaggerated but I think you are now able to scratch the surface of the being that is my father (you see?, first impressions again). My father served for several years during the fifties in the merchant navy and has no tattoos whatsoever and even though he never expressed an opinion on them I always deemed it wise not to mention the ink in my flesh. Funny thing is that I have an older brother, tall, strong jawed, blue eyed, apple of my fa.......oh you get the first impression. Well beloved son came home one day skipping and looking pleased with himself so I knew that the probability was that he'd done something stupid again as is his nature. Sure enough he couldn't wait to show me his latest faux pas, a tattoo on his arm which a baby elephant, blindfolded, could have done far better. Remember those indian ink howlers that were all the rage back in school? well this was worse, much worse. So he stands there happily awaiting laudits from his younger (only in body) sibling with expectation and pride shining in his eyes. "Well thats shite", unfortunately I do have a tendency of saying what I think at times, well OK all the time, which is why perhaps people don't ask my opinion very often now a days? In his crestfallen defence he questioned my judgement upon such matters to which I calmly removed my T shirt exposing hitherto unknown to my family my tattoos. Oh at this point I'd like to thank Nick for the excellent work for which Peter had no answer to except "cool", cool? mmmm very seventies. So getting back to the point, Peter, never one to be crestfallen for long, skipped off to expose himself ...err I mean his father. I had to follow as such calamities as when the 'golden one' shoots himself in the foot are not to be missed. I was not to be disappointed as father let forth with ridicule, lambasting and yes blaspheming...oh joy. Once again my older brother had that feeling we all get when talking to our parents, the one of been treated like he was five again whilst I just sat there joyfully lapping it up, whilst wearing my T shirt of course. Fair play to Peter though he did not snitch or use the fact that I had several tattoos already, in his faltering defence. This episode only served to remind me not to mention my skin's ink to my parents.

Then, a few years later, my world turned upon its axis and I initially sort refuge at my parents. I could write about the turbulence and happenings when a grown man moves back with 'mum and dad', but I'll leave that for another day. Enough to say that tattoos were the last thing upon my mind as I walked out of the bathroom one day in just boxers only to come face to face with father.....yep it was my time to be five again. 

Yes sometimes first impressions are hard to shake and can form an instant opinion of a person without actually knowing them at all. Damn thing is I'm probably more guilty of the majority of folk for making an opinion of someone within seconds. But I'm usually right in that opinion....oh god I'm turning into my dad! If you've managed to read this far I'm surprised and I thank you.


Sunday, 12 January 2014


After the excesses of the festive season Tis strangely reassuring to be able to sit back and take stock. As my last post revealed I have already set my mind to living a life, albeit a simple one, and stop letting past actions load my mind with guilt and self loathing. In my previous life, before my mind was broken, before I spent so many months living like a vagrant and before all the pain that I caused to the people most dear to me, I used to walk the hills with my canine companion 'lucy'. It was here I found peace of sorts and a connection to mother earth not felt before or since. So, in keeping with my previous post, myself and now with the Bear have once again stepped out on quieter trails in the hope of regaining a small part of what was lost.

Has it helped? Well I guess the answer I have to give you is that I think so. My body is certainly now knackered and aches after clocking up some miles in the hills and the solitude allowed my damaged mind to rest for a while. The Bear certainly appreciated it and my appetite has been wetted for more. Time will tell if my mind will heal a little and let me continue upon this journey. I'll tell you what, I'll keep you posted.