Sunday, 30 May 2010

The View From The Blog

It came as no surprise to any of us that the plan for departure on our #ThatLondon trip was nothing but completely undone by events of the morning. This is the standard operating procedure on any holiday we undertake.

Today, though, unlike normal trips on the UK mainland, had a guaranteed departure time. The 7yo finished her acting/dance classes at 1pm and the idea was to collect her, return promptly to the M42 and head south by south east for Ham Island, nestling within the surrounding touches of the Thames within a stones-throw of Windsor.

The car troubles we've had since a bump on the 13th of May (note the date...) reared their head again delaying us to the point of my dashing Bromsgrove-bound to collect T and return home to squeeze the others in and begin our journey. We were not happy, late, and very not amused.

The M40 is an old friend and the 90 minutes trip was dispatched with ease, kids and wife in the back snoozing or playing on the DS, with me in the driver's seat annoying the mother-in-law by pinching her mints as we cruised along.

Ham Island is rather strange. We'd googled the place to get an idea of the layout and how the land lay, but without street view this gives a very one-dimensional picture that reality quickly overtakes – today would be no different. It's where the Thames forms, most probably, an ox-bow lake, but the waters have yet to dry to nothingness, and boats, barges and all manner of water-borne craft drift by. The 'island' is accessed by a single single-lane bridge over the water and you turn a smart right to the line of houses that track the path of the river.

Now, we knew it was on the river and thought the views would be lovely, but as you can see they are just fantastic. There's a weir off to our left under the bridge that allows the local home-owners access to their launches on the other side of the water. We explored the house, cooing, smiling, forgetting all about the awful morning we endured. Swans and ducks swam close to the water's edge, persuaded by bread thrown by Gran and the kids. The little ones charged round the place endlessly, happy in their surroundings. 

Dinner dispatched, we trecked slowly back towards the bridge to cross the water and walk a while, drinking in the views and the sounds of the Thames sweeping on past. Our walk was warm, long, and very enjoyable. We gazed longingly at homes with tracks down to the waters edge where tables and chair waited for those with glasses and popped bottles – their jovial voices carrying across the water to greet us. The path was quiet and we meandered along, laughing, snapping, smiling. A lovely end to what promised to be an awful day.

Whatever happens on our adventures in London and the many theme parks we're planning to visit, at least we know that a calm and peaceful retreat awaits at the end of all the madness.

The view from the terrace -  a bloggers dream

The village post box


Things will be achanging here for the next few days.......

We're off to London for a few days to see the sights and have some half-term fun. I usually do a holiday blog when we're away, to record the adventures for the kids, and myself, and just run through the things that occupy my head when in a different place.

Now I normally post the holiday stuff here which includes a trip round the world in early 2009 and our summer adventures to France later that year. But for a change I'm gonna continue posting here, and may be throw in the odd verse - you know how I like my verses.

See you from London

Saturday, 29 May 2010


Note to readers - the words aren’t meant to fit in with the beat of the song. Just play it loud, loud as you can and read on when the proper beat kicks in.

Gotta funk going on, funk going on

Not feeling like me, at all like me
Not warm or welcoming, I’m sure you’ll agree
I’ll shut myself out and turn myself down
But my internal drives won’t stop spinning around
And though I’ll  read through the timeline, I won’t respond
Won’t take the chance, a chance to reach out and bond
And it’s me that I’m mad at, me that’s at fault
Can’t bring this internal funkness to a halt
Did you tell them it all, tell them all about me
What the funk’s wrong with you man, seriously
Not feeling like me I’m feeling all oh so wrong
Christ, how can I do this, and what’s with this song
Too loud, too random, blaring away
Wouldn’t listen to this on any other day
May be it’s just playing here in spite of myself
May be I’m just doing this to spite myself
Know I want to make contact, wanna stop and talk
But can’t straighten myself out, can’t now walk the walk
Just want to shout it, shout out every last drop
Gotta get me out of this funk, this funk god-awful strop
And it’s just winding myself up, so wind yourself up more
Christ, what are you man, are you forty or four
Just keep right on mooding, keep quiet, stay the same
And if they kick your fat ass, don’t matter, part of the game
So I’m waiting, just waiting, I know they’ll be one
And I’ll tap on they keys, finally, knowing I’m done
And I’ll quickly feel better, now I’ve ditched all the junk
Lost all the baggage, jumped out of my funk
But leave the tune running, my foot’s tapping away
May be it’s really not that bad,  turn it up, let it play.

Thanks to The Prodigy

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Read on

You've been reading for some time you know
You must think I'm quite verbose
Rambling on day after day
Often seeming quite morose

But that is how I am sometimes
Especially when I write
I don't do fluffy with pen on page
In the darkness of the night

And the blackness continues at a pace
You must think I run too deep
"You think about things way too much"
"No surprise you never sleep"

And yes, I know, I know you're right
But the words just come from me
I don't set out to be all miserable
Not how I want to spend eternity

But I can't say that I'll be all fun
And that each post'll make you grin
But hope that you'll keep reading
And stay through thick and thin


And this isn't the follow up you were expecting, sorry.
That's called 'Transitional Man'

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Preview

 A trip to the school recently for Parent’s Evening brought a couple of revelations about the one of the kids, but also made me turn the review process on myself.  Let me explain.

As part of a self-understanding exercise, the children were asked to describe things about themselves, about their personality.  Their answers were then passed round their small tables to give their friends the opportunity to add their own comments, their thoughts, on how they saw their classmates.  A really good idea, and our 7 year old’s friends had put some lovely comments about her.

It came in a small diagram, similar to the one I’ve penned for me that you can see at the top of this post.  The lines at the major compass points are for the friends to comment. The inbetweeners would be for her to tell her friends what she thought of herself, or in this case for me to tell you what I think of me.  And that’s where we hit a speed bump.

As you can see, I’ve added some non-descript comments in, we all know these are the things I do, not what I am.  And before you think this is an ask for your warm fluffy comments to be sent my way, it isn’t.  Or your not-so-warm fluffy comments either before you say anything else.  This is about me telling you something. You’ll get your chance, one day.  May be.  May be not.

Since that night, I’ve mulled over what makes up the major traits of my personality, what are the most obvious, most central parts to my character.  I know in The Change Agent I described a little bit of me, what I like, and did say you were helping me to draw my map.  But now I sit here I think, ……… well ……..nothing really.  No clues.  My mind’s as blank as the page that stares back at me.

OK, let’s step back a touch.  What are the components that make up oneself?  Is it actions, thoughts, dreams, flaws? Well that’s an interesting question as well, isn’t it?  Others may judge you by the most obvious trait you display to them, your actions or comments.  But only you really know what ticks inside you.  What you think, what you feel, what really goes on in your head, the actions or comments that you consider but never do.  You may, at some time or other, discuss some of these thoughts with someone close to you revealing a little more of the you inside to those on the outside. But are these the things that define you?

“A man is defined by his actions”

Are we?  Looking externally then I would probably agree with that.  What you see is what you get.  If you could look in to someone’s head or heart, would you still think the same knowing what they think and feel?  Looking inward though, it has to be something else. I know the thoughts in my head, surely that’s how I must define myself.

But I’m still no further forward.  I still don’t know how to describe myself. I couldn’t even begin to categorise myself either. You may have your thoughts, I may even have guessed some of them in the diagram. More words now, from a note I wrote to myself in the middle of one sleepless night recently:-

They say beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but in the mirror my reflection is all I see. Time was, time is, without a change. Just so very tired of being me.

And now I know where I am. I’ve watched people in films change and lived it with them. I’ve seen friends and those close to me grow and develop, and I've shared it with them and loved every second.  But I feel like I’ve had my feet in concrete. I’ve been standing still while the world has rushed on around me. So when I look in the mirror I see the me I don’t want to be, the old me. I want to see a different drop4three. I just don’t know what the finished article looks like, so I’m just going to wing it. Which is typical me. See, I can’t even change that.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Picture Incomplete

Sitting in the May sunshine
Kids in the paddling pool
Makes me think of yesteryear
Back to my days at school

For one with a good memory
My childhood's shrounded in mist
I reminisce so very little
Recollection won't persist

I'm sure I'd know if it was bad
But may be not if it was good
You think I'd retain something
But only if I could

It makes me wonder why, you know
As I'm usually so quick
Retaining all the useless stuff
My friends think it's a trick

So have I blocked it all out?
And if I have, then why?
I have no answer to my questions
No matter how I try

Shall I just draw a line
And leave the past well alone
Don't go looking for trouble
Under each and every stone

But something's missing
There's a gap in history
I can't conclude the puzzle
I'm not able to complete me

Thursday, 20 May 2010


It was a lovely moment
That grew to be our thing
Not disturbed by angry voices
Or the telephone's ring

A time and place for me and you
Private and perfect, you know
Where we'd stop for our moment
And it would be just so

We'd look at all the contrails
Streaking out across the sky
I'd see the fascination
From the glazed look in your eye

We'd stare at all the contrails
I still look at them today
I don't know where they are headed
But I wonder where you are this day

Time moved on, we grew apart
But not because of you or me
Call it just one of those things
How it was really meant to be

And now when I look toward the sky
As the planes rush overhead
I still remember how we smiled
And all the things we said

We'd look at all the contrails
Streaking out across the sky
I'd see the fascination
From the glazed look in your eye

We'd stare at all the contrails
I still look at them today
I don't know where they are headed
But I wonder where you are this day

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Grumpy Meme

Despite it being a little different from my usual writing, I have been tagged by Julie at The Sardine Tin to list 7 things that make me grumpy. Don't be surprised if I list myself on a couple of them.....

1. Lack of manners.
Nothing irritates me more than a lack of manners. I like to think I hold open doors for people, allow people past with their cars and shopping trolleys, and the lack of a thank you or a nod or a raise of the hand in recognition makes me grumpy. Very. I will often shout a sarcastic "thank you" as they go past, just to let them know what I thought.

2. Repetitive questions to my kids
"What do you want for breakfast?"
"What do you want for breakfast?"
"For the last time (as he stands in front of the telly) what do you want for breakfast?"
This is the usual morning routine as they sit transfixed to the endlessly repeated episodes of "Suite Life" on Disney Channel. Only by standing in front of the telly do I ever get an answer.

3. Accept responsibility
This mostly applies to on-road activities but can also be in the workplace. If you do something wrong, like cut someone up whilst driving and they sound their horn at you, don't start swearing and making hand gestures - you were in the wrong, accept the blame, raise your hand to say sorry and it's over. Sorry goes a very long way. Those that curse or pass the buck really annoy me.

4. Me - the completer/finisher
I am not one of these. I am the generating-ideas-setting-the-wheels-in-motion kind of guy. I am not the one to ask to cross the last t and dot the last i. I make myself grumpy when I leave little ends dangling on unfinished projects. I should do so much better.

5. Allergy warnings on food products
This is getting out of hand. As 50% of my little family are allergic to some ingredients, shopping is a careful check and double check of products. Companies, in the ever-increasing attempt to cover their backs, have now started to add the "may contain traces of nuts" on just about everything. I've seen plain yoghurt carrying this warning. Pretty soon there won't be anything I can eat. There will come a point where we'll just start ignoring the warning, potentially to our peril.

6. My first name / surname conundrum
For some it is simply too much to understand. My surname is also a female first name so on email or written communication, I'm often mistaken for a woman (though not when they actually see me). This can even apply to people who have met me and then later still drop me in the wrong gender group. It's not that hard, people.

7. Favoured players
This relates to my sport, rugby union. There are some players, and even some international teams that have a certain tendancy to ...... well, cheat. And because the referees seldom admonish them for doing so, they continue to play that way. It annoys the pants off me to watch these players and teams, not least because they are so very good they have no need to cheat. They should play to their strengths, or may be they already are .......

So there's my 7. And I'm more than happy to be tagged on whatever subject

Friday, 14 May 2010


Literature has a purpose
For one and for all
To teach, educate
Entertain and enthrall

I like to write
In my own little way
Tell you things I’ve learned
Through life every day

I want to know more
About myself and my friends
So I can be a better man
Make the needs meet their ends

Experience counts
But as long as you learn
So that the next time you
Don’t take that wrong turn

And in documenting me
I’ll hope I’ll recall
The many times I’ve stumbled
And every time I fall

And if my words
Aid those that stop and read
Then each misstep is useful
I can be a friend indeed

Friday, 7 May 2010

Believe In Me

Never consider myself
In any special way
Live the good and the bad
The bright and the grey

Never focus on myself
Others are my first thought
Guess self preservation
Was something I was never taught

Can't be so self absorbed
But my needs can't be this ignored

If I could speak straight to my heart
Break through my protective wall
Trust me with my tender self
I'll cushion me, won't let me fall
I know the answers lie within
I can persist and then just be
One thing remains is all
Need to breathe and believe in me

But how can I struggle
Without help or support
When those close to me
Just sell me short

Can't be so self-absorbed
But my soul can be this ignored

If I could speak straight to my heart
Break through my protective wall
Trust me with my tender self
I'll cushion me, won't let me fall
I know the answers lie within
I can persist and then just be
One thing remains is all
Need to breathe and believe in me
Need to breathe and believe in me
Believe in me

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Error Messages

Want to post some thoughts today
Many things kicking round my mind
Can't decide which one to choose
Got myself in to a bind

My head's a little dizzy
My brain scrambling about
Can't think, can't think straight at all
So frustrated, need to shout

And still it defeats me
Need to sit me down and write
Concentrate on just one thought
But which one will be right?

They push and they pull me
These different thoughts and streams
Calling for my full attention
No allowance for other themes

My spinning head won't hold on
To one subject for that long
Drifting in and out all day
Come on man, what is wrong?

I'm going to have to close the lid
Powerdown notebook and see
If the downtime will clear out
All the error messages in me

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


I look at your face
And see you smile
It makes me grin
Just for a while

The way you stand
Holds all in your awe
Everyone's transfixed
But I see your trap door

You can't hide it all away
You can't keep it all at bay

The pain in your heart
Shines out from your eyes
The hurt in your soul
Can't be hidden with lies
The truth is there
If you look close enough
A pretty grin
Falls way short as a bluff
I can see the anguish
You're living day to day
Your eyes simply
Can't explain it away
They're the windows to your soul
Living life in a goldfish bowl

You can't hide it all away
You can't keep it all at bay

The pain in your heart
Is clear to see
The hurt in your soul
Plain distresses me
The truth is there
I'm looking you know
I won't ever say
I told you so
I can see the anguish
You're living day to day
Just want to help
And take it all away

Not about, but for G