The extra bits...(Under construction).

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Summery....

     Greetings one and all who take the time to read my scribblings here upon 'Of Brambles and Bears'. Tis nearly the end of another year as I write and tis funny to think that my next post (if I can be arsed that be) will be next year, unless that is the guinness gets a hold of me and I am inspired to drunkenly put the world to rights later this evening.

     Tis been a year of huge ups and downs with the start of the year being a time of extreme darkness for myself and without the understanding and support of my George I shudder now to think where I may have ended up. As some of you may indeed know the Black dog holds sway over my mind and has in the past taken me to the very point of taking my life, but there are two ladies in my life to whom I owe a massive dept, Bramble for being there that day when the dog was about to win and shining like a beacon of light when the darkness all but snuffed my light out completely and my George for taking me in, supporting and loving me through the deepest of my despairs and showing me that life is again worth living. 

     The Fun Factory once again proved to be a place that I should really make an effort to put behind me in the coming months and no this is not a bloody resolution. Firstly being demoted, although of course this was spun as 'harmonisation' kicked me in the nether regions and secondly the new shift structure starting January adding to the pressure of the workplace and, in my opinion, will only drag factory morale and productivity down. But hey ho on the bright side being 'harmonised' has given me less responsibility and the kick up the arse needed to at least look over the fence at pastures new.  

     Yes the Dog has been ever present this year and I think I have been more aware of the bitch stalking me than in the past. This I feel is a good thing whereas before I had no idea of my darkness and just existed now I at least realised when she closes upon me and can try to fight her attacks and outpace her for awhile. The year has also been one of some highlights too.....

      Compromise garden's pond was constructed and stocked with plant and fish, and also received its first Dragon (quite apt being in Wales)....



     
     A wonderful holiday was had in Cornwall where 'friends not yet met' became 'friends for life', (the wonderful Tracy and Keith that be)....









      Not forgetting the small world created in my aquarium that proves as restful to my mind as anything....




      Oh and the latest girl in my life who now has her own blog...


     So not too bad a year in an up and down sort of way. As I have touched upon in recent posts I am becoming more aware of and practising 'living in the here and now', trying to let the past have less effect and not worry too much about what the future holds, it is not an easy thing to do but when it happens it certainly helps. Speaking of the future there is a holiday booked for New Zealand, tickets bought for AC/DC in the spring, extension plans for Compromise garden, a germ of an idea for a career change and a rust bucket of a car to get sorted and on the road.....should be a good year me thinks.

     Tonight we shall curl up by the open fire and sip some black nector to say farewell to 2015 and welcome in the coming year. All that is left for me then is to wish you all every happiness in the coming New Year and take damn good care of yourselves, hope to see you next year my friends,

John

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Tortoise or Hare?....

     The New year is fast approaching and the old one will soon be behind us, which is traditionally the time for new beginnings, for unrealistic resolutions (but all with good intention) and for the girding of loins for the year ahead. So what has this here rotund, Black Dog hounded, Welshman resolved to do this coming year? Bugger all that's what!

     Now do not misunderstand me, it is not as if my life could not be improved and I certainly could be a far better person based upon the evidence of my past. But I will not be drawn into the trap of making resolutions to change perceived failings of mine that I do not have a cat in Hells chance of maintaining. No, I would rather just try to make slow and gentle changes that will be long lasting and will make a real difference to myself and those that I love. Living with and slowly coming to terms with the Black dog has at least taught me that 'slow n steady' wins the race and certainly past tactics of mine in trying to change who I am by rushing like a bull at a gate headlong into perceived better ways have been doomed to failure from the start, and failing certainly allows the Black dog to strengthen her grip upon my life. No, I realise now that slow changes are needed if the dog is to be kept at bay, for my life to be more fulfilled and for me to become that 'better person', especially to others. A rash series of resolutions that will swiftly fall by the wayside is not the answer for me, and I say 'for me' as we are all different and making the yearly batch of resolutions may indeed work for others.

      So how do I intend to improve my life this coming year? Well for a start there is something that has already started and which I hope to continue and expand upon and that is learning to realise that I am who I am in the moment. All the bad, and yes good, of the past has shaped me into who I am at this precise moment in time. I cannot change the past anymore than I can predict the future and learning to accept myself for who or what I am is, I believe, the key to breaking the dog's hold upon my life. It sounds simple enough but believe me when I tell you it is a far from simple thing to achieve as the past still haunts me and dreams of the future still cloud my mind. The trend, I believe, is to call such a way of thinking 'mindfulness' but I have never been one for trends and I prefer just calling it 'being me'.

      More run of the mill stuff is that I really must become less rotund as my bloody knees are going to give up the ghost if they have to keep supporting my winter store of lard. But again, as regular readers will know that this is a topic that keeps popping up throughout my scribings hence will not be a 'new' resolution. I certainly wish to walk more this year after last year's complete shambles of none adventure but this goes hand in hand with knees and rotundness so again not a 'new' resolution. Of course Rusty's restoration will be ongoing, now having her own blog here, Comprise garden and the aquarium (aquariums? shhh don't tell George) will continue to mature and help quiet my tumbling thoughts and of course there is my scribings upon here, which will still remain to be as tongue in cheek, serious, or as tangential as I like. I have had doubts about continuing my blog as you may know, but the issues that before made me doubt the good sense of allowing an insight into my life for others to see have not reappeared and as long as my words continue to help others with the Dog or bring a smile to just one person's face then I shall continue, after all I seem to have made several friends here in the blogosphere.

     There is some adventure to be had already upon the horizon with a trip to New Zealand booked (be there dragons?) where I am presently engaged in trying to organise having some more ink done whilst out there and in keeping with the antipodean theme two tickets for AC/DC have been purchased for their summer tour upon these isles, rock n roll baby. Nearer home I'm hoping that 'friends for life' will be met again this coming year as well as perhaps some others from the blogosphere. As for other adventure I thoroughly intend to make the most of any opportunities that arise and of course will keep you posted. But do not think that I am looking too far ahead, some things do require looking to the future in order to plan for and to organise but on the whole I am still just trying to live in, and appreciate the moment and will try to continue to so. I am finding this step by small step living less taxing than the reflecting too much on the gone and the worrying or dreaming to much about the future and I am slowly (very slowly) coming to terms with myself in the 'now'.

     So yes no resolutions made apart from 'I'm not making a New year resolution' but a year ahead full of promise, adventure before dementia and one hopefully less affected by the Dog. Oh and yes I did say in my previous post that I would not be posting before the New year but I had to do something today to take my mind off my over stuffed and uncomfortably full stomach. It would interesting to know what plans you all have for this coming year, if you have resolutions in mind and if you manage to keep them! 

Until the next time, take good care and a very Happy New year to one and all of you.

John

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Til the next post ....

     Tis been a mixed year for yours truly, full of good intentions, unfinished projects (a lot of unfinished projects!), the Black Dog (of coarse), an expanding waistline (see good intentions), a garden that has surpassed expectation, a Morris Minor that was not 'as sold', a wonderful holiday in Cornwall, a really shite 3 months off work with the Dog, a distinct lack of walking (re expanding waistline!), a set of ever decaying knees (re a distinct lack of walking), a far better than expected 50th birthday, the aquarium set up and thriving, a new devotion to making lists, selling more on E bay than spending on it (remarkable I know), joined a gym against my better judgement (been twice), no new ink (a thousand curses) and a thousand other ups and downs.

      The upshot of this turbulent year? well I'm not to bloody sure to be honest. I'm finding it a tad easier to live with myself as the guilt of passed days does not weigh quite as heavy as before, the list of projects has been whittled down to just a couple, one small one and one 'minor' one and I am finally coming to terms with who I am instead of perhaps searching for the 'me' that I have wrongly pictured in my mind. 

     The future? who knows what tomorrow brings but hopefully it'll be a little easier. One thing for sure is that I'm not looking to the future too hard nor am I looking behind me as intensely as I used too, I'm just living in the moment and it's not too bad a thing to do m'thinks. 

     I wish you all the best for Christmas and the New year my friends and I'll see you on these pages next year.

John

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Lists, lists and more bloody lists....

     Following on from my previous post there certainly seemed a common thread running through your comments (which are always welcome) and that was 'make lists young man, and we are not talking about the kind of list that a torpedoed convoy escort takes on in mid Atlantic during the war. Near enough every comment made reference to lists and the order they can bring to a troubled and butterfly menaced mind like mine. Ok so I'm using a tad of poetic licence and paraphrasing somewhat but you get the picture.

     As you can probably tell from said previous post my head has not quite been in the right place of late, far from it truth be told. So today as I felt myself settling down to do bugger all once again knowing that later on I'd be cursing myself and feeling lower than whale shit once again, the kind of catch 22 that the Dog loves biting me with, I took a step forward. Turned off the television, mobile phone, computer and picked up a pencil and paper and decided to list the main areas that need attention just to see if it would help. Try to keep the exercise short I thought that just listing the areas of concern and in some form of priority would be a good starting point and something to build upon. So I ended up with a list of five and no I'm not telling as a man's lists are his kingdom and I shall defend them with my life!, suffice to say that they covered the major areas which are cropping up in my life time and again.

     Ok so one item on the list was Rusty, not rocket science guessing that one, and I'm sitting there twirling my ikea pencil like a gunslinger 'cause I'm in the zone without even realising it.  Before long the Rusty section had a list of its own from what needed sorting before the stripping could begin to revamping the finished car with the stuff to make her cope with the cut and thrust of modern traffic. Didn't even stop for my usual brew or three and I'm still scrawling away and another two lists are stretching down the A4 pad for the car project and you know what? it does actually work,  Rusty's restoration was starting to take a structure that instead of making my head spin looked orderly and very doable, just by taking some good advice, time to sit and list things out I began to realise something I used to know and practice years before the Dog......  it doesn't matter the size of a task if you just break it down into bite size pieces.  So hell yeah lists definitely work, thanks to all of you for reminding me of that. Oh and one other thing that helped today, knocking the b'jesus out of the old lean-to with a sledge hammer in compliance with Rusty list, line 1.

Till the next time take care,

John

Monday, 30 November 2015

A need to simplify my life ...

      Well it's already the eve of December 2015 and I don't know whether it be an age thing (listening to Pink Floyd 'Animals' as I type) but this year has flown by, blink and I would have missed it me thinks! I guess it did not help matters with the first quarter of the year having my mind being closed off by the Black Dog for a few months, and a few 'lighter dips' since. It is funny how sometimes when referring to depression it can almost seem 'off the cuff' comments are used as if it is not such a serious thing, 'lighter dips' indeed. But for all intense purposes if I'm low but can just about function these are the times that I consider to be 'lighter dips', not to say that they are not hard to cope with for myself or for my family. 

     But even taken those lost months into account the year has still sped by as if it had a jet propelled rocket up its very arse. The shift rota at the Fun Factory does not help I feel, what with its 2 twelve hour days followed by 2 twelve hour nights and then the supposedly 4 days off (finishing at 6 am on the morning of the first day off does not constitute a full bloody day off), the weeks just hurtle by. So faced with the end of the year already looming it just seems that life is passing me by with nothing being accomplished apart from more grey hairs adorning me beard. Especially at this time of the year when the daylight is limited, the weather can at best be described as temperamental and Christmas adverts are blighting the bloody airwaves! Maybe I suffer from S.A.D. as well as depression? it wouldn't bloody well surprise me.

      I feel that I need to get back on track, simplify things a tad, get a routine that allows my mind and body to rest and stop over thinking things so much. Tis difficult to change track, for a start my work rota plays havoc with eating and sleep patterns (not to mention the pressure of an understaffed and unappreciated engineering team), sleep is not forthcoming easily of late and healthy eating is but a distant memory at the moment (these 'Yorkie' giant chocolate buttons are rather moreish). I also suffer from what is, and I'm positive about this, scientifically termed the 'Butterfly effect'. This is when, with all good intention, I set aside a time for starting and completing a task but then swiftly I'm distracted from said task by another and whilst addressing the new task something else grabs my attention, for example......   Today I was going to measure up what remains of the space in Compromise garden to allow the planning and drawing up of a lean-to for me to construct in which to shelter old Rusty from the elements and allow me to start stripping her down. Simple enough you may think? err no... I steps out of the back door and notice the large amount of 'dog daises'  that require clearing up (I swear those two can crap for Wales) so I fetch the dog poo shovel and clear up said daisies taking them, in their highly engineered waste disposal and odor nullifying device (a plastic bag to you lot) to the bin which I then discovered required taking out to the street for collection day tomorrow. So I trundled the bin outwards to discover that the back gate latch was a tad loose which led me to decide to fetch a screwdriver from the Wendy house workshop to repair said gate. Whilst on route to the workshop I noticed that there was some garden moss that had been flung out of the house gutter by some creature or other so picking this up I changed tack and headed towards the compost bin but before reaching it (a total journey from moss deposit to bin of 6 steps) I had the idea that the moss would actually look rather good upon a piece of bogwood that stuck out above the water level in the aquarium. Ah the aquarium thought I, tis time it had a water change.... now you perhaps have an idea of the 'Butterfly effect' upon my life. 

    So yes I need to slow down and simplify things for sure. I really need to begin to address one task at a time and complete it before the next one is taken on. I guess that having a myriad of hobbies and interests does not help matters but I really do need to prioritise and bring some order to the tasks that just seem to pile up and whittle them down so that they do not seem such a formidable mountain of things to do. Well for a start the allotment is to be placed upon the back burner until Spring is in full swing (well once the two mature trees are pruned), Compromise garden can sleep for a while now (once its final tidy up is sorted that is), the aquarium is ticking over nicely and just requires minimum of care to maintain its slow and steady growth,... 




      ... work on Rusty will have to be put on hold until the yet to be measured lean-to is up and also for me E bay account to be healthy enough to purchase a mig welder,...



     ... work? well we will just have to see how that pans out over the next few months but I feel a change is needed here and for anything else that I've missed out? well they cannot be that important so I'd best stop worrying about em.

     It all seems like plain sailing don't it? But take it from me although such order and organisation would seem to be easy to attain, and it would certainly help me with the dog, it is truly something that is so very hard for me to get a grasp on and put into action. I talk of taking small steps and the journey will take care of itself but sometimes even the smallest of steps require tremendous efforts for me to take. But the thing is as I have opened up more and more about my state of mind others have come forward to talk of theirs, so if you're reading this and can identify with the dog, don't worry you are not alone in this as myself and many others are out there willing to help you.

       I wonder if any of you good readers (reader?) out there have ways to organise your work/hobbies/tasks so that they don't become a mountain that just dominates your lives?, tips and advice are always welcome.

Til the next time take care,

John
      

     

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Morris Minor Chronicles II ....

     My father has a rather wonderful if a tad Anglo Saxon term of "shit and damnation!!" which is commonly used when things are not going to plan. Now being the ...ahem... reserved gentleman that I am it would take a day containing events of enormous magnitude to wrench such an exclamation from my delicate lips, well today was bloody well such a day.....

     Today I took my newly acquired and yet unnamed Morris Minor to a local garage for her mot. Now I am a realistic sort of person and the thought that my already beloved Moggie would pass inspection had not even entered my head. Indeed not, I had booked her in for the sole purpose of learning the state of her and to give me some notion of the tasks ahead, especially regarding her undercarriage. Now the bastard gentleman who had sold me the Moggie had assured me that the underside was solid with just two "little patches" required to wield and in a moment of foolishness, nay madness, I took the twat's gentleman's word for this as he seemed a 'nice guy'. Oh foolish mortal that I be for as the Moggie was lifted to the heavens upon the tester's ramps the unbearable truth became apparent.... there is more rot on her undercarriage than there be on the bleedin' Titanic!!.... yep I have been most royally shafted up my rear passage and it is still stinging as I type my rant here, shit n damnation indeed.

     Oh but the day gets better, next door but one to my garage of choice there operates a conning bastard gentleman who restores VW beetles and the like. So whilst the Moggie was still showing her all together to all and sundry I asked him to come around and give me an estimate. You know that moment when you realise that the person you are talking to is perchance talking excrement from a male bull's anus? well when he said "well I can wield but...." was my moment of enlightenment. I did do him the courtesy of letting him ramble on about specialised  equipment, parts for cars this old being "oh so terribly hard to come by" (which, by the way, happens to be complete and utter bollocks) and I even allowed him his wonderful moment of plucking a completely random price containing several zeros out of thin air before I reverted to type. The upshot of the discussion that followed was that he will not be doing any work for me "even after Hell freezes over!" his words not mine (I cannot really publish the discussion as it would be entirely made up of crossed out script on my side of it....oops).

      The past laid plans of mice and men eh? So thoroughly  disheartened I drove the Moggie home with my mind going over how I could salvage at least a little of the outlay already incurred. From stripping her down to nuts n bolts to be auctioned off bit by rusty bit to selling her as a job lot or just taking her to the scrap yard and Pontius Pilate like wash my hands of her and being done with the whole sorry episode, shit n damnation indeed! Abandoning her at what some might describe as a 'jaunty angle' on the drive, what I would rather describe as 'couldn't be arsed parking straight' I stomped into the house and promptly  sulked, bottom lip jutting out!

     It was time for some therapy thought I, so trundling off to the fair city of Deva to seek out my friend Chunky and engage him in conversation of my latest dilemma was my next move of the day. A journey well spent indeed, finding the grumpster Chunky as per usual at his motor cycle workshop the conversation was light, at times full of profanity but very black and white and as always Chunky's down to earth look upon the world helped immensely. After the expected piss take about me being duped by an old git selling bangers we discussed options including selling her, breaking her up etc. but Chunky reminded me of the reasons for my initial purchase which were to work on a project, put my stamp on it, have something at the end that was 'different' and, most importantly, have some fun. Yes I thought that the Moggie would be a rolling project, one that would be still driven whilst undergoing work to make her mine, hmmm best laid plans and all that twaddle. The task, if undertook, would be far more daunting than previously thought and over a much longer time frame before a wheel was to roll again (if ever), but if completed the rewards would be that much more fulfilling. 

     I arrived home and gazed upon the Moggie with some fairly mixed thoughts but as Chunky says if I ever managed to scrape enough money to buy another Moggie at probably twice the price I'd only be buying somebody else's failure. At least with this one it may take a bloody long time but everything done on her would be one hundred per cent spot on. Oh double bollocks, shit and bloody damnation! I may be a fool but at least a happy fool be I, so welcome home 'Rusty', now let the swearing commence.....




til the next time take care,

John

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Morris Minor Chronicles I .....

     Well that was a hair raising journey back from Crewe this morning, even if I do say so myself. It was probably the most thrilling 50mph that I have known, ever! To say that old classic cars don't compare to their modern counterparts is the biggest understatement since Noah said "I feel a spot of moisture in the air"! Forget all things like brakes that will bring you to a stop quickly and safely, forget pinpoint accuracy from your powered steering, forget doors that actually don't let daylight in, forget a myriad of sensory inputs allowing you to monitor every miniscule change in your automobile, powered widows? pah!, fingertip controls? you are joking? 

     Not for the faint hearted is the driving of classic cars m'thinks but there is one thing to be said about driving the Moggie home and that is "bloody hell that was one hundred percent fun". No it doesn't have brakes, steering, suspension, nor handling like a modern car, in fact I'm not sure it has any of these full bloody stop! Yes it has holes in the floor, funny bangs from god only knows where (one very, very loud one that keep cropping up to scare the proverbial crap out of me!) and a ton of things that need fixing, replacing and sorting. But one thing she does have that proves that I was right in buying her and that is character!This little wreck of a car is absolutely packed with the stuff, yes many would baulk at taking on such a project but for me the little Moggie is a dream come true...... my first classic car restoration. 


So the paint is crap and the panels don't fit.....
...... she has her own micro climate ........
.......she is basic and that is being very kind.......
......she is no sleek sportster....

...... but she is mine and she has come home.


     So there we have it, the Moggie has landed and I can now look forward to being covered in crap, lots of cuts and scuffs on my ...er.. delicate?... skin and a vocabulary that will turn a Irish dock worker scarlet with embarrassment! I am truly looking forward to this, and I hope that you will stick around for the journey.

Til the next time take care,

John

Friday, 20 November 2015

Aquarium stage 3 ....

     Quite a time gap between stages 2 and 3 and if you remember stage 2 had the initial planting done and the expected algae bloom had just started as the tank began to cycle. Stage 3 is the aquarium just about three weeks ago and it has changed considerably. 

     Firstly the algae bloom became quite severe and I decided to take some steps to help combat this whilst the tank matured and the bacteria levels increased in the external filter. Firstly I increased the number of plants including some relatively fast growing Aponogeton Natans bulbs, a couple of Nymphaea Lotus bulbs, Java moss and finally some Eleocharis Parvula. Because of the aquariums window ledge situation I also added floating plants to help filter out some of the sunlight, these being common Duckweed and Amazon Frogbit. I cut my artificial lighting down from 10 to 9 hours and finally I have introduced carbon dioxide at a very low level to increase plant growth. As in life an aquarium is about achieving balance through trial and error. After just a couple of weeks the algae was almost non existent and the aquarium had started to shine.

     Also the aquarium is now stocked with fish and shrimp but these I shall leave for a later post. As the Acer tree in Compromise garden shed its leaves the other week I added a few washed ones to the aquarium as the plants, invertebrates and fish I have chosen all come from forested waters and leaf build up in the water is part of their world. I shall leave you with a few pictures of the aquarium, further updates will focus more upon specifics and hopefully with more detail.












Until the next time take care,

John

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Just a Minor purchase....

     Well I have been a tad busy of late at the Fun Factory so not much time for posting but just thought that I would share a minor purchase that I made this weekend upon the dreaded Ebay.....



     .....now all I have to do is name the little lady.

Til the next time take care,

John

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Aquarium stage 2 ....


     Ok so onto stage 2 of my 'Restful project' as it now become known. So a week or after the picture in stage 1 was taken the tank then looked like this......

Not the best picture....damn that mobile phone camera, damn it to Hades!

      .... I kept the design simple but at the same time wanted to incorporate something that reminded myself of the reasons for taking this project on. The base layer of substrate is a blend of aqua soil (none fertilised) and baked clay on top of this is a layer of river washed slate fragments (no hard edges). The wood formation upon the left of the tank comprises 4 pieces of reclaimed bogwood plus a 'bought on a whim' carved asian wood group of fungi (takes all sorts I guess). Out of clear view behind the fungi is a small Victorian clay vial providing a hidden cave, which was found whilst clearing an area in Compromise Garden. On the right hand side of the I have used sandstone blocks to create some 'small steps', which are the reminder that with my mental issues to take each tiny positive for what it is and that anything can be accomplished with just small steps.

      Filtration at this stage is provided by a Fluval 206 external filter, with a Protemp heater/thermostat combo providing a stable temperature of 24 degrees centigrade and lighting is provided via a Aqua One 'Plant Glo' LED controlled by an electronic timer set for 10 hours. Oh just a word about this light from Aqua One, the aquarium is an Aqua One 620T (with original cover dispensed with) so one would have thought that an Aqua One overhead LED set up would just slot on to the top edging strip of the aquarium wouldn't one?   Well bollocks it didn't but after a good half hour of slicing the edging strip with an extremely sharp blade the LED could be said to be made for this aquarium, arse. 

     I think that the overall hardscaping is pleasing to the eye and blends with the 3D rear panel reasonably well. Also added at this stage were the first plants which were chosen not just on their aesthetics but on them being easy to maintain in the aquarium. On the left of the aquarium attached to the wood are small clumps of Java fern whilst behind the wood attached to a piece of broken brick is Java fern 'Windelov' and on the right hand side of the aquarium the initial plants are Crypto Wendtii and Crypto Legroi. 

      And that is about it for stage 2 apart from to say that the Aquarium was then left to cycle for a few weeks and in the picture you can perhaps see the beginnings of the algae bloom that was starting to take hold at this early stage. As for the black art of water chemistry more shall be said about this in future stages, well if I learn anything about it that be!

Til the next time take care,

John

Monday, 2 November 2015

Aquarium stage 1 ....

      Good evening gentle folk, whilst I am in the midst of cooking tonight's meal (chicken curry) I thought I would show you my latest project. It has a dual purpose, firstly I have always enjoyed aquariums and secondly it will provide a certain calmness which will sooth my mind.




     This picture was actually taken back in August and since then the aquarium has been cycled, planted, stocked with fish and shrimp. My inspiration for the interior comes from a book entitled 'Nature Aquarium World' by the late Takashi Amano whose influence upon the thought processes of aquarium design resounds today upon a global scale.

      For those of you interested I shall be running a series of posts upon the stages of my aquarium project which hopefully be educational and enjoyable at the same time.

     For now I shall just leave you with my basic thought process regarding this aquarium. As I mentioned earlier the aquarium is also there to help sooth my still sometime troubled mind and I hoped not just to have a 'fish tank' but to create a micro biosphere internal and external to the aquarium. This means extending this 'biosphere' further than the glass tank itself. With this in mind I chose the South facing window in our Victorian house's study to position the aquarium which would allow the use of natural light not just for the aquarium but for plants external to it in an effort to give the area a more natural garden feel, time will tell if this is successful. After choosing the location and taking the first picture (I already had the glass tank) I wanted to really take my time over the whole process and not rush anything, hopefully allowing it to evolve and thus slowing down my previous mindset of wanting everything done asap. This has so far proved rewarding within itself, allowing my thoughts to become more ordered and not the swirling mess that often happened when I undertook processes before the Black dog came to visit. 

     Besides the situating of the aquarium one other step was included before this picture was taken and this was the introduction of the first external plant to the whole area. The plant to the right of the aquarium is Aspidistra Elatior  also known as the 'Cast Iron Plant', a name which I much prefer. This plant was chosen not just because it is a firm favorite of mine but because its jungle like foliage suits the 'feel' that I am trying to achieve and also it was a firm favorite in Victorian times and so seemed appropriate for the house we call home.

 Aquarium Specs....

      The aquarium is a Aqua 620T which a volume capacity of 130 litres or, if like me you prefer 28.6 gallons. Originally it was fitted with a lid that held both lighting and a trickle filter but I decided to do away with these for something a little more in keeping with my thoughts and vision of what I wish to achieve. The background is a textured piece designed to resemble stone or rock. To be honest if this had not already been in place I may have been tempted to just paint the rear panel black when setting up the tank but hopefully I will have successfully blended this in with a natural look.

     Further specs will be added as I expand upon the project's progress.

     So there it is, just one of the things that I have been up to that has keep me away from blogging but as the nights are now truly drawing in I am sure that many more posts will be coming your way. 

Til the next time, take care...

John

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Close encounters.....

     Well I am in need of help, now don't rushing off to look in Dr. Curealls medical tomb, or warming a shezlong up for me stretch out upon and under hypnosis tell you that a terrible childhood incident concerning me not being allowed a rabbit which then directly led to the theft of an Orangutang leading to my present mental issues (well it could have, honest ahem). But no, I am sorry to disappoint you but the help I request is in the identification of what I suspect is an alien from another planet which appeared whilst I was actually putting my arse into gear and starting to build my extra storage shed, stroke dumping cubicle.... ahhh thinking about that 'dumping cubicle' is actually quite apt as the site where I am constructed said storage was actually where the outside privy was located to the side of the house back in the day....anyways I digress, whilst construction was under way it came to my attention that I was not alone.....



       Now I have to confess to being a tad puzzled by this critter, it resembles a Grasshopper but the little bugger seemed slow moving and, well a bit un-grasshopperish if you know what I mean, oh and them eyes just followed you around the room, yes I know I was outside but they would have followed if I had been inside drinking cider of that I'm bloody well positive. I did bring a few plants back with me from Cornwall, all paid for (well mostly) and I thought perhaps an illegal immigrant from England had snuck in with them over the border but these plants were kept elsewhere in me small garden and planted out Tuesday so this has led me to the only logical conclusion that I have an extraterrestrial lurking in my garden!!

     If any of you (CT ?)can disprove this extremely plausible theory of mine I would appreciate a heads up. Other than that I expect my next post shall be about alien abduction, experiments done on me and perhaps (hopefully) some alien encounters of the ooh missus kind. 

Til the next time, in which ever dimension you may find me, take care..

John

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Flotsam and Jetsam ....

      So here I be, returned from two weeks away in Cornwall, but being as the hour is late I shall not be writing too many lines this autumnal evening just suffice to remark upon one or two things that have been scratching my mind like a flea that is hard to shift.

     Firstly, if there be any doubt, I will continue to record certain aspects of my life here on these pages as I continue to live with depression. My previous posts have been read then re-read in my head over and over as I have struggled to decide whether or not to continue blogging in some form or just to let it go. I have once said upon these pages that if my experiences with the Black Dog help just one soul feel better about themselves then this blog is a worthwhile thing to do, so I shall continue with my words with this hope in mind.

     Secondly, a huge thankyou for the many comments on previous posts, the help provided is not a thing that can be quantified in any shape or form. It is enough just to say that they are important to me.

     Thirdly, a work in progress list of future posts include;- Cornwall (where friends 'not met yet' became 'friends for life'), Compromise Garden updates, Boraras urophthalmoides (my latest relaxation helpers), Rugby (not for the England fans among you), Retirement strategy, Rewilding, Nature, Stress coping (or not as the case usually is!) these and other topics amongst all the usual drivel and if you want any requests? well you may ask as perhaps you never know.

     So that be about it for this evening, t'was going to be a post about the fortnight in Cornwall but I just couldn't be arsed sorting through pictures, bar one......

She calls to me doth the sea...

     ......part of the retirement plan is to be near as possibly to the sea.

      So that's all for now, my eyes are heavy and I must head up the wooden hills to let sleep cradle me till the morn. Till the next time, take care my friends.

John


Tuesday, 22 September 2015

It's not bloody Shakespeare....

     To blog or not to blog: that is the question that I have asked myself before and since blog post number 140, 'Action and reaction...' where I put forward some of my reasons for doubting the point of writing posts that once published are in the public domain and open to the full scrutiny of one and all. The vast majority of comments received are either warm, friendly, constructive and even humorous (usually Rachel's) but it is the one per cent of negative personal comments received that caused me to consider 'is blogging really worth the feeling of being "got at" for past mistakes?' Reading a 'friend not yet met' words t'other day I realised that I am not alone in this dark hole that depression creates but it is different for each and everyone of us who suffer the Black dog at our side. Her words were painful as she explained the reasons for closing her blog and were similar to my own reasons that have made me question myself yet again. 

    Yes I have made some horrendous errors over the last few years leading me to question at times whether or not existence was actually worth it. It's funny (certainly not funny Ha Ha) how depression robbed me of the 'knowing' of the pain and suffering dealt to others my actions caused until it was too late. I think the guilt and memories will always haunt me as some of my deeds would be inexcusable by civilised people including you here who read my words.

    But I am not writing this wallowing in self pity, no far from it nor I am not looking for sympathy, kind words or forgiveness for I have slowly come to realise that the past is gone and, as much as I want too, there is nothing that I can now do to change  what has happened and I can only wish those hurt peace in their lives. The thing I find disconcerting about my depression (yes it's mine and no other buggers!) are the mood swings and how easily certain things can take me from soaring highs to the depths of the pit. It may be something as trivial as a task not completed, a walk missed out, an incident at work, being alone, being surrounded by people! (go figure) or a passing comment. I have thought long and hard before and since writing 'that' post and being cold and honest about things there is no way that I can avoid any of the triggers in my life that bring me down....even the thought process about this has caused a slide downwards which had George noticing and in her way just gently prodding me back upwards.

      And the point of all this rhetoric? well if I cannot avoid the triggers I had bloody well learn to live with them. Of course I would prefer not to receive negative words from my past anymore as I can only say sorry for my actions so many times without imploding once again. With George I am slowly finding peace in my life and for that I am truly grateful because, in truth, I do not feel that I deserve it and I think that is the last thing that stops me accepting it. So I will continue to write my inane and random thoughts upon these pages, and no it is not bloody Shakespeare! This is also due to the many wonderful messages that I received from you, my friends on the blog, the lift they provide was warming and most welcome. 

     One last thing, Tracey if you happen to read this I hope that you will reconsider opening up your blog once more. I know you have to do what is right for you but I will get the beers in if you do happen to write once more (I'll get them in if you don't actually).

Till the next time, take care of those who love you because once gone it is too late.

John

PS  

I certainly cannot be down this weekend ...Cornwall watching my beloved Welsh rugby team put England in their place, and hoping whilst there that 'friend not yet met' will be just a 'friend'.

#TheWelshAreComing



Just had to share.....

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Action and reaction.....

The last post? 
Firstly ladies and gentlemen of the Blogosphere I would like to thank you for taking the time to read the past words written upon these pages and for your support and comments over the time the blog has been running. Over the last few months I have taken some time to reassess my life and what effects certain events or actions have had and are still having upon it, with blogging being a part of this process. As you all probably understand by now I am one of the many who suffer from depression, or the Black Dog as I have a tendency in which to refer to it,  and this has made my posting and the reading of other blogs sporadic at the best of times. There are so many triggers that can send my mind into a downward spiral of which I only recognise a mere handful, of these reflection upon the past and the guilt that it causes to well up inside of me is still the hardest to deal with and one that constantly threatens to drag my state of mind to its lowest point. 

As I read earlier posts on 'of Brambles and Bears' I can see some of the peaks and troughs of my state of mind but also the early posts remind me of where I was in the world no more than a couple of years ago, and reading these posts still cause so much confusion in my head and in my feelings, and there are so many 'what ifs' and 'maybes' brought forth that it becomes unbearable and affects me both mentally and physically. Coupled with this I have been receiving occasional comments, anonymously of course, from someone who obviously knows me and it seems these comments are just meant to jar my thoughts and drag me to look back again so bringing the guilt back to the fore once again. I delete these comments whenever one appears and try to ignore them but this is extremely hard to do at times, and of course I do not want the past affecting my present relationship if it can be helped. 

So my knee jerk reaction to blogging at the moment is that I wish to leave it alone for awhile, maybe just until we have returned from our forthcoming break in a few weeks time or perhaps for longer, at the moment I really don't know. This also begs another question as to when/if I return to blogging will I continue here or just start anew? again I truly cannot answer this either. All I do know is that it is time for me to focus and simplify my life and try to remove or cope better with such triggers as those that affect me most adversely.  

I will ask a favour before I sign off and that concerns you, the folk that read and have supported me on these pages. On a lot of your blogs your comment pages publish a comment without it being first moderated so if I was to start anew I would be reluctant to notify you via your comments section, if you see my point. With this in mind if any of your goodselves would like to read a future 'new blog' if it occurs you may leave just your name and e-mail in my comments section (it is moderated) and I will put them to one side without publishing them if the need to let you know that I am blogging elsewhere arises, of course I may just resume here but at the moment I feel that this is at best doubtful. Oh and course for an obvious reason any anons will be ignored. 

Take care of yourselves and thank you once more..... 

John

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Chester Zoo, The Islands, first impressions....

     A day off from domestic and garden duties today as George took the day off work and we toddled off to Chester Zoological Gardens with a view to the highly talked about 'Island at Chester Zoo' project which has not long opened. Boasting the Monsoon rain forest attraction within the UK's largest zoo exhibit and a selection of flora & fauna from the eastern isles, including large crocodiles to boot it was an attraction we'd looked forward to since hearing about the first plans for it. With visions of a lush rain forest teaming with wildlife and well designed areas to give the feel that the larger animals were not caged we headed for the new exhibits with perhaps a slight spring in our step, and can we recommend this new part of the zoo to others? errrr no, I'm afraid not.

     No don't get me wrong it is obvious that a lot of work has gone into this project but one cannot help but feel that there is somehow something missing, it is as if that it has been rushed at the last so as not to lose out on this years summer holiday rush of whinging, crying and generally miss-behaving children, it just feels that an opportunity to make a real statement for flora and fauna that would enchant adults and children alike for generations to coming and wake them up to a world that, until now, was not 'real' for them. It has an unfinished feel to it and the planting does not 'blend' or feel 'lush' as you feel a rain forest should. Perhaps I am being over critical but I can only say how I perceived the Islands and I felt disappointed to say the least. There are displays to represent a 'local' village, fishing beaches, temples and the like which seem unnecessary and to be honest detract from what the zoo is about such as conservation, raising awareness of the impact we as a species are having and getting people involved with wildlife and respecting its importance to our survival from an early age.

      In time the planting will mature and perhaps as well the introduction of more species and animals will take place. And also perhaps the tacky 'this is how people live on the islands' displays will make way for more appropriate attractions to enthrall and capture our imaginations. I sincerely hope so...


A promising view but it lacked a lushness and vibrancy you'd expect.

And this helps education about conservation how?

     As for the rest of the zoo? Absolutely bloody enchanting as ever. For a start off there is a 6 day old Asian elephant, now that is enchanting and shows real commitment to conservation...




     As well as the new baby elephant there have been three recent births for the Giraffes...




     But Chester Zoo also helps local wildlife with many projects, educational and hands on, taking place. One visible sign of this are the wild flower meadows that are springing up on what were grassed areas around the zoo...


How I would love the area beneath me cider trees to look..


    The old tropical house is still enchanting and the way it wraps itself around your senses puts the new exhibit to shame...













         It is not just the animals though that draw the both of us to Chester Zoo, there are areas within its gardens that just insist you sit awhile and forget about the world for a short time. I can only dream that Compromise Garden would ever be as peaceful as this...
















     Of course there are many areas to wander through and animals to see which can delight and enthrall, here is just a few....























      So perhaps it could have been a disappointing visit but for George and myself but it was a lovely day, yes the Islands were a big let down but in time they may mature into something enchanting but, for now, the rest of the zoo is still well worth a visit.

Till the next time take care,

John