Being Exiled in St Helens

I’ve been writing  in this little piece of literary heaven for five years now but the last two have been whilst in exile.  My adopted town of Stoke-on-Trent didn’t provide me with a job and a salary so I set forth into the foreign fields of Lancashire and the surrounding lands, to work my time first in the Wigan health culture and then in the water meadows of Warrington.

I’m still here, with a night time base in the glass land of St Helens, sharing a local religious leader’s old home with some fellow (but rather more rowdy) travellers.

Gentle readers I really should write more, as my evenings just seem to drip away like water through cracks in the pavement.  And so a pledge: I promise to write at least once a week, to build up once more my connection with you and to work ever more solidly at my return to the land of pottery.



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A Slight Return

Once more I find myself (I often lose myself as well and in fact it’s quite easy to do but luckily I have family who know where to find me and a quick slap across the face with a cold flannel usually does the trick) apologising for my absence.

I was last active on here in the depths of winter – which this year proved to be quite mild compared to previous arctic periods (I didn’t even get the chance for a spot of snowman making mores the pity).

Since my last entry I have been jettisoned from the big ship NHS and currently find myself ‘resting’. Not that I’ve been too restful and can now happily report that since my redundancy date of 3rd April I have applied for 150 vacancies of various kinds, had four interviews and gained 0 employment. It is now 3 months since I last worked and though I could get to enjoy the relative freedom I do need to find a job soon (unless I find a suitcase full of cash or that lottery win finally comes in).

I still get up each day at 6:30, get my youngest ready for school and log on ready for another exciting day of searching. I do get a little annoyed at relative lack of responses; I think out of the 150 I’ve only had communications from about 6% of them.

What else can I report? Well I am getting a little tired of Jeremy Kyle and if I see another house auction I’ll probably implode. On the other hand the garden is looking a lot better than it would have if I’d been working; I even had chance with my good wife to build a new Meccano hut which was a challenge (I still have all my fingers but did gain a couple of scars).

I now hereby promise I will return soon to the good old blog, possibly before Christmas.

I thank you for your patience.


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Hidden deep amidst the lull
Still shines her golden heart
Even though through time it dulls
Together or far apart.

I want to see those eyes glow again
And see that joyous smile
Until I do I’ll settle back
And wait and wish awhile.

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Post Christmas Blues

It’s only Boxing day and already we have that coming down feeling. What is it about a single day in the year that gets so much build up and then… down we go? Anyway on the food side I have managed to be fairly controlled though I am sure my belt feels a little tighter! I got exactly what I asked for from Santa – but I’m not hard to buy for: books and CD’s, the simple tastes.

My wife used to complain every year that I always asked for the same things but I think she’s finally got used to the fact and it does make buying for me very easy. I still find it very hard to buy for her and thinking of new and imaginative things is hard. And on a small budget it is even more difficult. I did manage to get her a few things and she seemed happy with them.

What is the best present you have had? Was it imaginative or expensive? Quirky? A complete surprise or something you knew you’d be getting? I bought a dolphin for my wife one year – we didn’t have to accommodate it thank goodness (we didn’t and still don’t have a swimming pool) – it was one of those adoptive schemes where you get a pic and a letter from the beast. Yes I know dolphins are very intelligent but lack the digits for a pen or keyboard but I think you know what I mean. But for my wife it just wasn’t the same as actually having ‘Flipper’ there in the back yard chattering away and we couldn’t afford to go visit the lovely creature in its own natural environment.

Anyway I have a pile of books to read and a tonne of cd’s to listen to (another 4 Neil Young ones from the trillion he’s released in the 100 years he’s been around – I have a few more to collect).

Enjoy the rest of the holidays where ever you may be.


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The Amazing World of the Truffle

A quick one today and all about the delights of a truffle – the chocolate kind! My wife today decided to treat me to some home-made ones and they are very very nice and a touch alcoholic!

I have had these before, a friend of my wife’s made them and they were scrummy and I have had the ones you get in packets but the home-made ones are very different and actually do melt in your mouth. They are almost irresistible (I have to actually sit on my hands to stop myself going to the fridge to get them – they have to be kept there to keep fresh as they have cream as well as the dark chocolate in them)!

I am just at the end of a diet, my millionth attempt to stay below 12 stones (yes I know I shouldn’t be yo-yo dieting and it does get quite dizzy going up and down all the time). So I need to take a more disciplined stance to staying at this weight and not overindulge! Now this may be quite tricky given the time of year but I’ll give it my best shot. I will eat but one truffle a day and maybe two on Christmas day… maybe…

I may have said this before but why is life so cruel as to make food so addictive and so delicious? If you give up smoking then you don’t die, or if you give up alcohol you don’t die, if you give up food, well… you can never go cold turkey! Not that I eat turkey being a vegetarian (and when I wasn’t I did like a bit of cold turkey with some stuffing in a nice wholemeal sandwich… with pickle…).

Ah food! There I go again! You can’t go in any direction of discussion without it coming up! And it’s everywhere in every shape and form; on the television, on billboards, in the cupboard in the fridge… Right that reminds me I have an urge to eat another truffle!


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On My Travels Again

I’m sorry for the big gap between this blog and my last, I have been rather busy with work and life and just yesterday I came back from a few days in Wales, a nice little caravan park in Porthcawl. It was a nice relaxing break and we decided we’d take the scenic route home, ignore the M4, M5, M6 etc. and travel through Hereford up to Shrewsbury and then across to Stoke. Yes it took a little longer but the view as so much better.

Now I am not a ‘speed demon’, at least not on public roads though I do love my racing games and a whizz around a Go Cart track. But the lovely open roads are a chance to enjoy driving. I don’t mean going over and above the speed limit, I don’t, not after a police car shadowed me for a few miles after I’d pushed the Calibra I was in to 120 on a lovely stretch of motorway back in the early 90’s. He didn’t stop me but my underwear was close to being soiled!

I do like to zip along in my Renault Scenic Auto (yes not exactly a Ferrari) but what really frustrates me is when there is a hold up and I get stuck in traffic. I can forgive the tractors, the farmers going about their normal business. I can almost forgive the trucks; in fact there were couple that pulled it to let faster traffic by which was good. What I hate are fellow car drivers who insist, on a clear bright day driving 10-20 miles slower than the limit.

Now my car is not the fastest at accelerating which means even when there is a chance to get by my car does not have the ‘grunt’ to nip by safely unless I hit a bit of road with a dual carriage way. This means if I do come across a meandering car I am stuck and, with 100 miles or so to go, this is very annoying. So what I want to know is: why?

Of the three cars we came across yesterday one was a man on his own of about my age. Maybe he’d been out for a lunchtime drink? Maybe he just liked driving at 30 all day long no matter where he was? The second one was a lady who slowed down on bits of straight road until the traffic caught up only to put her foot down when anyone tried to overtake! Maybe she was playing a game to enliven her journey? Perhaps the site of a mile long line of traffic in her mirrors gave her a rush of adrenalin?

The last car that held us up was a little silver thing. Between our car and it was a low loader with a nice white SEAT aboard for the ride. Now to start with the truck tried to pass a few times but like us didn’t really have the power to complete the manoeuvre. It seemed very keen to get past and stayed about 10 inches from the silver car’s boot awaiting a good opportunity, every now and then moving out to take a look before diving back behind in order not to crash head long into a huge lorry coming the other way.

This lasted about 20 miles or so until at last we came to a nice long stretch of road with no traffic coming the other way for miles! So what did the little truck do? Well nothing. Zilch. It seemed quite content by now to stay within kissing distance of the little silver car, it had grown too fond of the little thing and therefore didn’t make the move. And me and my car? Well I didn’t have the grunt to get past both! So I was stuck with a re-enactment of Steven Spielberg’s first big film before my very eyes. All the way to Stoke!

But why? Why did the truck driver need to travel so close all the way? Why didn’t the silver car stop and let the mad man by – surely having the thing filling his rear view mirror for 60 miles around tight narrow roads, around tight country bends and through lovely country villages didn’t do his heart rate any good? And yes he did have a few chances, there was even a roundabout at one point: I’d have gone around it a few times to shake the truck!

Anyway we hit the Friday home time traffic in Stoke so that relaxed me a little before we finally got home. Enjoy your journeys everybody.

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I think I just about managed it, I saw most of the major landmarks, the Tower, the Palace, Nelson on his column, a whole bunch of brilliant art from across the centuries in the National Gallery and a pile of rubbish in the Tate Modern (some of it literally) but my feet are now like red slivers of liver!

One of the things I noticed about the capital was the sheer scale of the buildings; I stood in Parliament Square and looked up at the gigantic buildings surrounding me with their finely crafted statues and columns and thought to myself that any one of them would dominate any city centre yet I didn’t know what most of them were!

I also realised that most of the big things are a stones throw away with Trafalgar Square, next to the The Mall which leads to the Queen’s house with several other palaces next door (St James etc.) with the Houses of Parliament over a bit of grass and the London Eye across a bit if water! Amazing. And I didn’t realise either that there are little cafes and shops behind Buck Palace either!

But on the other hand we walked several miles to Kensington through the snobby bits: Belgravia, Chelsea etc. with expensive Ferraris parked on the street side end-to-end and corner shops selling The Times, caviar butties and six packs of Champagne: we didn’t bother calling in.

The ‘City of London’ was amazing with the old (St Pauls, the Monument etc.) surrounded by towering futuristic glass and stone constructions with the streets teeming with office workers clutching smart phones in one hand and sandwiches in the other (probably not caviar). And I have never seen so many sushi shops – not something I’m really into being a veggie but the smells were fascinating!

My favourite part? Seeing my boys have a brilliant time but also I loved walking around the National Gallery by myself without anyone complaining that it was all ‘so boring’; I enjoyed looking at the paintings and though I am knowhere near the skill level of any of them it was satisfying seeing the actual brush strokes close up! It looked to me as though sometimes they too went ‘off track’ and made mistakes, I could see where they’d done a bit and had to correct it; well after all they were only human!

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