Two months - that's how long I've been 'resting' and 'taking time out' from contracting. It feels far longer.
I'm also at a loss to understand what I have done with those two months. Apart from worry about Joe. And help Stu make a fence. Built a website. Browsed Iceland websites. And have a tattoo.
Oops. Just casually threw that in there.
Yep. I finally plucked up the courage. I am now the proud owner of a sore arm. Which I am fastidiously bathing in warm soapy water and moisturising regularly.
I have pondered the idea of a tattoo for years. This was no snap decision. I decided on what I wanted years ago. A bluebell. For very personal reasons.
Anyway. It's done. In a place that can be hidden for work. Though it did dawn on me in the middle of the night that I can never work in the summer again. As clearly short sleeves won't work! You'd have thought that I would have thought of this before - given the length of time I have been working the idea through in my obviously cottonwool brain.
But - I've done it. And I am not going to be ashamed or worried about people seeing it. I am going to own my arm.
I've come out of the tattoo closet.
And here it is... (looks WAY larger than it is in real life)
The plastic whale - seen it?
It's awful. Intestines full of plastic preventing it from feeding. So it died. And we did that.
Facebook is full of horror stories and advice. I for one always carry a Paperchase shopping bag with me - so I can refuse the 5p plastic bag when I shop. And I know a lot of people do similar.
And we're advised to stop buying single use plastics - bottled water being one and straws another. So we're all pottering around to the gym etc with our water flasks and refusing straws with our cocktails (anyone who knows me well will know I do neither of those things - gym or cocktails).
And then came the Facebook post about the dangers that lurk in your environmentally friendly water flask. Yep. You heard it here second.
Apparently - they harbour germs. Lots of them. So you might as well lick the toilet bowl apparently.
The germs mainly gather around the spout bit. Where you drink from. Because apparently we're all dirty buggers and don't clean them out properly.
So the advice given on this post?
This...(oh the irony)
Drink from a single use bottle with a straw.
Sod the bloody germs. I am going to do my part to save those darned whales!
Rant two - packaging
Yesterday I popped into Holland and Barrett to buy some Vit D. So apart from the hefty price (Boots is far cheaper), the packaging was ridiculous. The plastic bottle was huge - not even one-fifth full. Why not reduce the size? Or package in something more env. friendly?
Here's an idea - remember the old sweet shops - where you could buy a quarter of cop-cops in a paper bag?... "I'll have a quarter of Vit D and half a pound of Vit C with zinc please..."
And finally - Trafford Council
Recently our council have changed the rules about our full-size green wheelie bins.
Instead of a weekly collection of food and garden waste they have decided they won't take your garden waste anymore - unless you pay an annual fee of £40 (approx. - can't remember the exact amount!).
So...if you don't pay - they come weekly and empty that tiny bit of food waste that is at the bottom of the the bin.
And if you do pay - you get a sticker. Which you have to write your address on and stick on the lid of your huge green wheelie bin - which, in our case, sits in the entry (ginnel, snicket, vennel, wynd, twitten) behind the house along with all the neighbour's.
So - we now have a sticker. Highly visible to any neighbour who chose not to pay and who could well decide to dump their garden waste into our bin.
And woe betide anyone who puts garden waste in the bin and who hasn't paid. The bin won't be emptied...so all that food waste will simply stay there and attract flies.
The council advice for those who have garden waste but don't want to pay to have it removed? Take it to the local tip.
What I hadn't considered (and not entirely sure the council did either) is those on low incomes (etc.) who can't afford the £40 and who don't drive. What do they do?
In a recent case - one such person was advised by a council rep to buy one of their compost bins for her grass cuttings. Two things here - grass cuttings don't compost well on their own...and 'buy' a compost bin? Like with money? That she doesn't have? Jesus.
I give up.
The world has indeed gone mad.
Have I written a post about the effects of being 50?
As I am over 50 now...I don't trust my memory. So I can only apologise if I am repeating myself.
Seriously though. WTF? Why does IT conspire against anyone over the age of 50?
I can no longer type letters in the right order. My iPhone autocorrects to the most bizarre words. And I have gone from being relatively IT literate to...well almost as bad as my Mother!
And the memory thing. The thing I hate most...is that 'glazed-over' expression people get. When it suddenly dawns on you that you've told them this thing before.
My pal Mandy-Lee has the best solution. She butts in really quickly. And lets me know she's heard it before. Of course if anyone other than close friends or family did that to me I'd be mortified. Caught in the act of...acting my age.
This post is going nowhere. As I have clearly forgotten the point. FFS.
(I am not yet at the age of forgetting all my passwords. Anyone got any idea when that happens? I don't want to wake up one day and they've all gone from my mind! I need some forewarning)
Here's to being another year closer to 60.
Today's photo: me before the age of social media, iPhone's, laptops, Apple music, CDs and when motorbikes were built like sofas. And when I clearly didn't give a crap about having a double chin. And I drank tea from a really scummy looking roadside cafe.
I'm enjoying my pretend retirement far too much. If I could just find a way to make money appear out of nowhere...
I've just ruined that moment for myself as, for some reason, my brain just chose right now to remind me that I need to do my self-assessment tax for last year. Thanks a bunch brain.
Probably the mention of making money appear out of nowhere. That was the trigger.
Let's put that little irritating thought to one side.
This week was my first Rock the Frock shoot. A full on day of hair, make-up and trying to 'find the light' on Dunham park and amongst some very old gravestones in Bowdon.
The light. So darned troublesome. Dappled light through the trees. Looks gorgeous in real life. Then when you view the images on the big screen you realise that the model's face is completely washed out and over-exposed. Or as the trees swayed at precisely the wrong moment - all in the shade apart from the nose.
I did learn a lot. And loved every minute.
My next shoot is booked in for September. This time we're hoping to head to Formby beach. My fingers are crossed for the perfect weather, a sunset and low-tide. Not too much to ask?
Next time I am going to do my best to keep the model awake...
I'm a tad grumpy.
I have a cold. In summer. While I am taking time off.
So instead of taking long walks I have been Netflixing. And sneezing. And sweating. And sleeping.
And my bloody photography website has decided to disappear off the bloody web thing.
And I have just spent an hour trying to get my head around the dark art of advanced DNS settings and DNS types and destinations and christ knows what. And to make it worse...I probably won't know for 'up to 24 hours' if I have done it wrong.
Basically I feel like shit. But on the up-side everybody's birthdays are this week. So I have a fancy dress party to go to and a Sunday afternoon BBQ / buffet (weather dependent) to host. With a stinking cold.
And while we're on the subject of weather (don't split hairs..it got a mention)...what the crap is going on there? Firstly, we've been promised storms several times over the past couple of weeks - and we've had precisely two claps of thunder. And then the showers. From gorgeous blue skies - washing on the line - to seconds after the last peg is applied...the heavens open.
Of course...once you have rescued the washing...dumped it in the drier...and sat back down to Neflix....the sun is out again. In it's full glory.
Give me snow. At least in the winter I don't ever kid myself that the washing is going to be line-dried.
On a completely different subject. It is confirmed that Tilly (Border Collie no.2) hates my singing. She is fine with anything professionally recorded and played through the Sonos. But as soon as I start to sing...she howls. Whilst I'd like to think she's joining in...I suspect that she is actually just extremely stressed and distressed.
I don't have many photos on the MacBook. As for some reason my Photos are not linking to my Photos on the iMac. That little issue is for another day's Google.
But as there are no photos on here...today we simply get to see this...my box of snot rags.
Firstly an update on the vitamin B12.
After several nights of extremely vivid dreams, including one night where I scared the bejesus out of Stu when I climbed on top of him 'to get away from the man that's just walked past my side of the bed', I've stopped taking it.
But that man was real. He was there. I tried to hit him with the duvet.
We slept the rest of that night with my bedside light on.
I stopped taking the ginseng a few days ago - I thought it was one tablet too many.
Anyway - we're rushing towards the end of July. We're almost over the hump and rushing towards weekend. Only weekend is winter. Our favourite.
So far we have flights booked for Iceland in November and we have a FB messenger agreement with Anna Julia Skuladottir, that we'll be staying for a week in her new cube cabin.
This week we have been looking at dates for Norway. And it looks like we may be heading back to that amazing cabin in Skarstad. The one with the big windows, passing Reindeer and the occasional Moose.
One thing I have learned - be very nice to your AirBnb (or similar) hosts. You can save a fair amount by dealing with them direct for any subsequent visits (and from what I can gather - they save too). To be honest - it's not hard to be nice to either Anna (Iceland) or Kent (Norway). Lovely people with the best cabins ever.
But I didn't tell you how to break AirBnb rules.
Today's picture...My Stu: At Borgarvirki, North of the Wall.
Travelling tip: Don't go to this place in deep snow: it's a long slow drive, the road is invisible at certain points and when you get there you can't see a damned thing, other than snow.
Ginseng and vitamin B12 = Zebedee.
Not the biblical father of James and John but that weird boinging thing from the Magic Roundabout.
Whatever - I seem to have boundless energy.
Since taking the magic medicine I have been bouncing out of bed early doors every day and actually doing more than just making a cup of tea and sloping back off up the stairs.
Yesterday I decided to make a start on my new website. I started, finished and published it within a couple of hours. Not sure if that means I am quick or I've rushed and made a ball's up.
It's only four pages - and there isn't a huge amount of copy. So maybe that's why.
It took me way longer today to set up a corresponding Facebook page. I had to keep taking a break. It's that frustrating.
This morning I went for a chat with a lady at Dunham. About how I can put some of my skills to good use supporting a project for 11-24 year olds. She must have had a good feeling about me before I arrived as she'd already done me a badge. Either that or she is just bloody desperate for some help. Either way - I am more than happy to give some of my time.
She asked why I wanted to volunteer. Easy:
Number 3 is way up as an important reason. I have a little mini fight with myself every day. "Stay away from the job pages...step away from LinkedIn" etc. I need to have a proper break from Financial Services.
And anyway. If my wedding photography thing takes off...I can carry on volunteering, and baking, and going for long walks and playing Candy Crush to my heart's content.
So - today's photo..screenshot of my new website
It's been one hell of a week.
We started off in a cottage in Grizedale - not far from Hawkshead. One of our favourite, relaxing spots. Down a private road with no passing tourist traffic (apart from the occasional cyclist who can't read).
On Monday I had a message from my Joe saying he had gone to A&E with chest pains. Then another, early in the afternoon, to say he was fine and had been sent home.
I decided that as my nerves were already frayed - I might has well just completely sever them. So I booked Jess and myself onto the last Grizedale Go Ape session of the day.
I am terrified of heights.
But I decided that I can do that 'mind over matter thing'. I just needed to get a grip and do something out of my comfort zone.
But by the time I had climbed the first rope ladder, crossed from one tree to the next and had my feet firmly on the tiny tree platform...I wondered what the bloody hell I had been thinking. Someone get me down from here now.
That same man then stayed just ahead of me and Jess for the rest of the TWO HOURS in the trees. TWO FUCKING HOURS.
Two hours that included two of the scariest zip wires I have ever seen - from the ground. Never mind from a tiny platform at the top of a tree. And yet again...there is no going back. So you just sit into your harness and go. Like the bloody clappers. But DO NOT LOOK DOWN. I know that now. Do not look down if you're scared of heights. It ruined my imagined 'I'm really just in a fast car with the wind blowing in my hair' scenario.
To cut a long story short - we both did it. We survived. We got a certificate.
Then both had the worst nights sleep ever. With recurring nightmares of:
Then it was Tuesday.
I awoke to a terrifying series of messages showing on my phone screen.
Panic always makes me drop things. And I suddenly have 9 big toes for fingers (or ten..yep ten big toes) - with someone else's fingerprints so my phone won't unlock.
After several minutes of blind panic I finally got the basic message. And rang my ex.
Joe was at that moment in an ambulance on the way back to hospital - with signs of a heart attack.. I could hear the sirens. Of all the horrible moments I've had in my life so far - this one was up there (somewhere near that first tree platform...a few feet above that).
To cut another long story short. Jess and I ran around panicking. Trying to get dressed. It's not funny - but why do knickers always go on backwards when you're upset and frightened?
I drove us straight to the hospital. And we headed straight to Resus. And there he was. My 22-year old baby boy. Looking like he's on the set of Grey's Anatomy. Just the right length of stubble, perfect quiff and olive tan. I, however, looked like shit.
But despite his looks - he was frightened and hooked up to bleeping machines.
And that is how he still is today - Thursday. Frightened. Constantly monitored. Putting a brave and good looking face on.
We don't have answers yet. But we need them desperately. From someone qualified to tell us.
In the meantime - Joe will be pleased to know that I have remembered to find something that will pass as slippers. I just need to remember to bring them in the morning.
Love you Joe (i.e. don't shout if I forget again!)
Today's photos should be no surprise...
Jess and me in a tree and my boy (he wanted a Mum selfie)...
This - my most-frequently visited pages on Google
Couple of things:
The result was enlightening...
I confuse myself. On the one hand I make snap decisions. And on the other I can't make a decision to save my life.
How is this even possible?
I decide quickly if a role isn't right for me. Though I guess when I say I decide quickly...I think about things for a long time. Then when the stress and anxiety get unbearable I make a quick decision to quit. That's one example of me making snap decisions.
So maybe I actually don't. And that can only be a good thing when it comes to that type of decision. When it involves work.
But - do I buy this pair of shoes? Shall I pack this fleece or that one? Which suitcase is best? What do I want for dinner? Do I want a tea or a coffee?
Those decisions are tough.
Today I did make a decision. A decision about something that is causing me too much anxiety. Something that makes me feel like I am trying to plait fog at the same time as wading through treacle - with a blindfold on and one arm tied behind my back.
I knew today was decision day. I felt it in my water. I was drained. Weepy. Over-tired. Anxious.
Now I just need to make some bigger decisions. I need to work out what's next for me.
Do I plod on...the same path I have been treading for 12 years or so?
It pays the bills. It pays for the holidays. But it doesn't inspire me. I have lost the drive. And more worryingly - I am losing the confidence in myself.
I posted recently about a need to change pace - have a new start. I just can't quite see me and Stu in a hippy commune, in a brightly painted shack, growing potatoes.
I also don't see us quitting the rat race for a motorhome and touring Europe. I'd probably be fed up before we hit the South coast.
We have an inkling of a plan. It involves no mortgage, a house with views all round, few neighbours (apart from those who talk sheep), an outhouse / workshop and a drive.
So - first steps of plan:
Then we'll mull things over for a while longer and think of options to address the elephant in the room (what to do with Joe).
In the meantime - I guess I have to work. Continue to do what I have done for the past 12 years or so.
Or maybe I should just try wedding photography for a year.