Tag Archives: john rhodes

The Fun of Family Trips

It doesn’t seem very long ago that family trips were a nightmare to organise, at least on the morning of the event.

I’m thinking here of not only the full blown holiday – of which I’ll count anything from the 2-3 day mini-break to a luxurious two weeks, at least in terms of days booked to enjoy which ever paradise of location had been selected, be that a hotel near the sunny coast or a tent in a forest – but also day trips.

It’s not the actual holiday, though that of course would have it’s thumb screw nerve tangling highlights.  It’s the morning of the outward journey.  The acting upon the previous nights agreed agenda and departure time.

I’ve always been the type of person who can get up at any particular time in the morning and I don’t need a ‘winding up’ period.  I can set my mind to a time be that 5:00 am or later (anything after 6:00 seems like the middle of the day to me).

That’s not to say I’m a morning person as such as I’m equally happy going to bed at midnight.  I’m also not in that small percentage who can get by every day on the sniff of a snooze – there has to be some balance somewhere or catch-up though I have to admit I do seem to need less sleep the older I get.  Perhaps it won’t be long until I can drop my chin for a moment about 3:00am and then be fully refreshed.

I think my oldest boy is a little like me; though being about half my age his nights are a little longer than mine but he doesn’t need hours of bed time in the mornings to attempt getting a limb over the mattress edge.  My other boys are not quite as proficient as him and come somewhere near my wife who lives for sleeping, her day is geared once out of bed, for the moment she is back in and cosseted within the duvet.

So you can imagine the scenario of most trip  mornings with the boys in various states of readiness; usually half asleep and not aware that Dad has a schedule.  Mum keeping her cool (just) whilst Dad gets more and more frustrated by the blank looks he gets when he tries to give his sons (and wife) a timely reminder that in order to arrive by the deadline in the chosen location the car needs to leave the driveway by exactly this time…

This of course leads to said sons rebelling against the dictator and going even slower than before the edict which in turn raises Dad’s blood pressure a little more and gives Mum a slight eye twitch.

Somehow we always managed to set off on time, not always with all the luggage (it’s a tradition in all families I think to leave at least one thing behind – as long as it’s not a family member!).

Our youngest son was the hardest to organise as he liked to take his whole room with him including pillows to make the journey bearable,  a good supply of books, comics, games for his hand held games devise of choice, videos, teddies etc.  This always annoyed his siblings a little who were then squashed into their seats surrounded by his junk (their words not mine).

We did try to make things easier by getting bigger cars with our Chrysler Voyager people carrier the biggest and most luxurious.  The car was brilliant if a little elderly when we got her but driving ‘Bessie’ was like being in control of a small living room on wheels.  And if we put the boys at the back we could barely hear the screams and battle noises of car journey sibling rivalry.

Unfortunately she developed a terminal engine malady that meant our last trip in her helped me develop the skill of watching the road with one eye and water temperature gauge with the other and praying to every deity known to man (and a few I made up just to make sure).  As a staunch atheist this meant crossing a few belief boundaries but it was either that or just putting my faith in blind luck.

She was a very thirsty beast that last holiday and barely made the part exchange date once we were back.  I did love that car but my nerves were a lot better once we’d watched her being driven away and no longer under my ownership!

These days things are different.  We still have the same trips but the boys don’t always come with us – one has a life of his own with girl, car, home and a baby on its way and the other two prefer not to be forced  into days away or holidays where Mum and Dad ‘enjoy’ those shops that sell other peoples used stuff.

I have to say (and I accept this sounds very middle aged, which of course we are) we quite like trundling around charity shops, especially if they are in ‘posh’ towns where rich people give their ‘junk’ away for charity – that doesn’t explain why every shop, be they in Wilmslow or some ultra poor city centre, Daniel O’Donnell is king in the CD selection….

And I have learnt to relax and am more flexible with the departure time which in turn helps smooth the leaving ceremony with less anger and tears; I will at least now allow a one or two minutes variation, well most of the time.






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It’s now 5 weeks I’ve been ‘resting’.  I’m in that period of free fall that feels good in many respects, a little like being retired, a little like being unemployed.  So I get to choose when I get up; at least most of the time as I still have animals to feed and bodily needs to answer to when they call (and my inner clock still thinks 5-6 am is the right time to stir!).  But I do worry which is where the ‘freefall’ bit comes.

I imagine it’s a little like falling from a plane for fun (though being a complete coward I wouldn’t know for sure of course) at least from what I’ve seen on TV.  A feeling of complete freedom but with a little thought stood with it’s virtual arms crossed, foot tapping away, brow well and truly furrowed and a small bead of sweet forming within that furrow.  Because however good that feeling of freedom at some point the sky ends and is replaced by something a little more solid.

For me that solid thing is needing money to continue living – I’m not some mad rich guy unfortunately and if I was lucky enough to win a large pile of cash I would give up work .  The problem is it is so very easy to get used to being free from work.  And the longer you are free the harder it is then to get back into it.

I’m also getting used to ‘home’, a place I’ve only seen for a few days every week for the last 2 years and which I’m now experiencing 7 days a week.  My wife and children now know who I am and the dog has eventually stopped growling at me. I’m starting to plan my home stuff and things to do (now I’ve caught up with all the things I couldn’t do over the last 2 years).  I could do so much over a few more months…  But I would run out of money!

I’ve got 3 potential new contract roles that have come in over the last week after a very silent period.  All present different attractive possibilities and I don’t like choosing if they all choose me!  I’ve always been the same be it food, music or books: I could always be found in the shop with arms full of product and only enough cash to buy a small number of the items I had – so difficult.

I’ve been holding back on any more spending until I do get a new role (so I have the chance to spread my out goings if need be – I like to be careful and that’s only natural being from Yorkshire).  I plan a few day trips when I do get a new job but of course I’ll probably only get the thumbs up a few days before and my travelling bug will have to be restricted to the roads I’ll travel back and forth on to which ever wonderful location I end up working in (which at the moment could be Nottingham, Coventry or Bradford).  Lovely.

The good news is I have started playing my guitar again and I am blogging (as you can plainly see).  Now I just need to land one of those juicy roles and off I go again.  I’ll be sure to make sure the family have plenty of photos to remind them of me and I’ll Skype the dog so he doesn’t forget me too.  wish me luck.1420373319540

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Creative Space

In the real world I have to try and work to earn money to keep me and my family going.  It’s not ideal, there is so much I could be doing with my life; writing, composing, travelling, eating etc.  I find that when I am working my energy is taken up with working and at the end of each taxing day I struggle to create that time needed to do something entirely selfish and express my creating leanings.

I’m now in a ‘resting’ period.  It’s a time where I put the word out through various networks that my last contract is now done and, as I’m far too young to retire (and will probably never be able to do so anyway given the ever increasing age of retirement and a need to keep eating and paying the bills), I am readily available for more work as soon as possible please, if you don’t mind.

Of course it’s given me a chance to catch up on those things I never get to do when working but gardening (the ever long battle with weeds, the grass jungle and the monster hedge), completing home DIY, decorating and getting the house in some sort of reasonable state of tidiness take priority over dusting my guitar down or remembering the password to my blog site (and yes as you can see I did manage that eventually after leaving my head with only a few hairs and turning the air a delicate shade of blue).

Things are quiet and this is good in that I may well get that chance to breath some life into my artistic endeavours.  But of course the longer that gap stretches that self same spark is smothered a little; I know all too well that those endeavours don’t create me any income and that I need to increase my efforts to get some paid work before the weather gets colder and I have to put the house on the market (thought it’s now in very good shape, the new porch is looking lovely and the garden is serviceable).

Something will come along and off I’ll go.  Once more I’ll promise myself that when away I’ll put aside at least an hour every evening.  And this time… Well you never know your luck dear reader.  Can I ask you for a favour?  Please give me a nudge. Please give me a kick before I lapse once again into silence.  I really don’t want to wait until the next ‘resting period’ and I don’t want my ‘creative space’ needing yet more weeding.



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Over, Under, Sideways Down

Over time I often find

The little things I left behind

Under rocks the crawly things

A world of seething wriggling life

Sideways glances withering looks

My word my heart a hidden nook

Down down a spiralling chase

Will I forgive that mocking face

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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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A Perception of Age

How old do you feel, how old do you think and how old do you look?  Each have their different perspective’s and differing answers I imagine.

Me well I feel different ages on different days depending on the circumstances, so today I feel about 60 give a take a few years either way; of course not being 60 and being a good decade away from that age I can’t know exactly how that feels (and for those of you that are around about this venerable age I welcome your thoughts on being 60 ish).  Basically I feel older than I am, a touch weary and my bones ache from the inside out.

My mind thinks I’m about 25 though sometimes I will admit to nearly 30; I’m conscious of being a little different, I’ve had nearly 30 years of existence and experience and that has to have some effect but my core self is still the same if a little jaded at the edges.

I think I look younger than I am (though when I grow a beard full of gingery white and grey bits I think I look way older!).  If I had to put an age to me I’d say late 30’s early 40’s but I could be fooling myself; if I look in the mirror after a particularly bad day I would amend that to match how I probably feel at that moment (matching the above).

I love to observe other people and I often wonder how old people are.  I am often surprised when I learn the real ages of people which usually tend to be younger than I originally imagined.  Sometimes it’s greying hair that does it which always adds a few years.  Other times it may well be a weathered face and many times the ravages of years of smoking can make a person age sooner.

I often, like many teenagers, worried about my acne but now I learn that this was actually a benefit, my skin having a touch more natural lubrication is now still soft (and still a pain to shave, it is very rare I scrape my face and don’t end up with little red  blotches of blood).  I suppose it’s the Ying and Yang of life, a natural balance.  But I can see the bags developing and I don’t think I’ll be able to claim a younger age for long, my really age is slowly dragging my imagined one up to it.

How old are you?


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Max Wall – The New Style Guru!

I now have conclusive proof that a star of yesterday, indeed a veritable god of the music hall , is now the guru of fashion for many teenage girls the world over!

It suddenly hit me on a little shopping trip with my lovely wife as she grazed the ladies section of Primark.  I spent the time daydreaming as you do and nodding in all the right places (though it has to be said she nearly bought some quite garish leggings in a not very subtle mix of pink yellow and indigo).

As my mind meandered around various topics that included my next meal, if I’d ever get to mow the grass this year without risking electrocution and the intricate minutiae of world politics I noticed various gangs of young ladies, mobiles/cells clutched to breast, arms linked.  They hunted in packs, orange faces aglow, each with matching ‘bun’ hairstyles (though they did have some variety with blonde, ginger or black colour quite popular) with lower extremities crammed into tight leggings that looked as though they’d had an argument with the feet department.

Some ladies did have quit sensible shoes (delicate sandals etc.)  but others had quite plainly decided to were slightly heavier foot attire (just in case they were trampled by any careless heavy footed fellow shoppers I presume).  And for the life of me I couldn’t at first decide what or who they looked like!

Then it hit me.  Well slightly after my wife anyway – she didn’t appreciate the way my eyes were following the said lady gangs and being unable to read my mind had decided it was a lust thing rather than a puzzle thing!  The slap across my face did the trick and lo and behold the face of Max Wall appeared!

Now dear old Max has not been with us since 1990 – 23 years can you believe it!  So I very much doubt these fashion conscious young people will have heard of the comedian who died aged 82.  Max’s trade mark silly walk and tight leggings made them roll with laughter for many years but how clever of some fashionista, some savvy young designer to see a market for such garb…  now if only I could find another long-lost star to raise to these exalted heights of teenage coolness?  Here are a few suggestions:

Jules Leotard (yes a real person before you scoff)

Sir George Robey

Jimmy Cricket?

Ah well lets see shall we and if  you have any suggestions I would be ever so glad to see.

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