Kitchenwatch 3 – the canine perspective.

Dave’s finally lost his marble (there was only ever one in that big head of his). I was having a post breakfast doze on Wednesday when all of a sudden there were some people in the house. I barked a bit for appearances sake and went back to lie down, as Dave seemed to have it all under control. Next thing I know, there was a lot of odd noises coming from the kitchen area. I had wondered why a lot of my food was in the living room – I guess it was luck he’d moved it there before they came.

Anyway, I took Dave out for a walk and when we got back, the people had moved bits of the kitchen out into the drive. Including the cupboard where my food is kept! Dave didn’t seem too surprised and that’s when I began to suspect a conspiracy. Sure enough, for the rest of the morning Dave was quite relaxed while the people cleared the kitchen of everything. Even the fridge, that sanctuary of ham. Gone! He knew what was happening and hadn’t told me.

I had an appointment at the hair stylist in the afternoon and when Dave picked me up afterwards, we went straight off to the river where we had a splash about and then a picnic on the river bank. It was most enjoyable but I knew he was only trying to make up for the disturbances of the morning. Sure enough, when we got back to the house, the people were gone and so was the kitchen. It was just an empty space.

Thursday was more of the same. The people returned and this time they dug the floor up and dug holes in the walls. We went walking in the hills but it was all still going on when we got back. By Friday I was tired from all the walking and having to keep an eye on the people and on Dave in case he did something equally silly with the living room. But fortunately we had a lie-in and the people didn’t show up until the afternoon, after we’d strolled around Fairwood Common. After they’d gone, Dave pointed at the ceiling and went on about ‘fresh plaster’ and ‘looking good’. It was pink, and I don’t do pink. I wasn’t impressed and instead I used mind control to get him to give me more than my usual portion of ham.

This morning, I was up ready to take on the people and find out when the kitchen was going back in. But they didn’t show up and instead Dave disappeared off mumbling something about new tyres. It’s a rubber thing, apparently. Not my scene but I don’t judge. It turns out we have the whole weekend free of the people before they come back to make more noise next week.

I indulge Dave some of his bizarre whims despite not really understanding them and I’ll give this one time. But it better be good!

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The wind is in the door

My great aunt, who ran a little sweet shop in a small Gower village until the (and her) early 80s, used to say ‘the wind is in the door’ in her peculiar Gower accent if there was a storm blowing. I think she would have been able to use that phrase today,

We weathered the previous storm (weathered – did you see what I did there?) partly because we had several days warning. This one sneaked in, hidden in the shadow of the big one and hit my part of South Wales harder. Following a tip from a fellow photographer, I headed off to Rest Bay to see what there was to see with the sea (I’m on wordsmithing form today – there’ll be rhymes sometime soon).

I wasn’t disappointed. I could see the rough breakers and the foam filling the air from the car park. I battled to force open the car door and struggled to make my way down to the beach against the wind, blowing directly in from the sea. It wasn’t cold, but the spray acted like rain and stung my face as it blew across the sand. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were grains of sand mixed up in it.

I walked along the coastline, heading east towards Porthcawl. The tide was coming in and although I was side on to the wind, I found it hard to make headway in the lengthy gusts. Porthcawl came into view and I could see massive waves striking the pier and crashing over the lighthouse at the end of it. I found a small pavilion to shelter behind and took a few minutes to watch and listen to the sea. There was a low, constant rumble and a higher pitched sound as the water crashed onto the rocks and pebbles. The wind added to the noise, whistling around corners and rattling anything that was not completely fixed down.

I left the shelter and was buffeted as I walked along the promenade, occasionally brought to a complete standstill by a particularly strong gust. Ahead, people lent against the wind. Coastguards stood watch on the pier as two people had tried to get on it earlier. I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that, given the ferocity of the wind and the sheer power of the waves. I took photos but I made a point of stepping back to watch and experience this powerful sea. All around, people were being blown about. As I left the pier the wind was at my back and I struggled not to go running into the middle of the road.

Huge waves were rolling in to the beach by the amusement park and bobbing about in the white water were a number of surfers braving the stormy seas. The sea was different here, though. With no rocks or walls to crash against, the waves rolled powerfully in to the beach. I didn’t see anyone manage to ride a wave while I was watching.

I turned to head back to the car and once again found myself leaning in to the wind as it tried, quite effectively, to prevent me from moving. The wind direction seemed to have change a little so that rather than coming in at 90 degrees to the path, it was now blowing slightly towards me. This meant that I was struggling to make any headway as the gusts were long and strong. Slowly I made my way up and back to the pavilion, where I took a few minutes to take some photos of the bay and the waves out to sea. Then it was off again into the wind.

I crossed the road, carefully as it meant letting the wind push me a bit, and walked as far from the beach as I could to avoid the foam. Nevertheless, I quickly became covered in it, so that I looked as if I’d been spat on by large people. Several times I was brought to a complete stop by a gust of wind, and I found the going quite hard. Great for my training, but not so good for getting back to the car before the next rain shower.

But eventually, the car park came in to view and after being blown away from the beach with no effort on my part, I finally reached the sanctuary of the car. It rocked and shook but it was dry and cosy.

I heard later that there were gusts of 89mph.

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I had to go shopping after work today.

I hate shopping for food. The only good thing is that I only have to go to one place for it all. My local Morraldildlburys has it all. Unfortunately, it also has all the kind of people I don’t want to meet after a full day in a frustrating work place, rain enhanced traffic congestion and an annoying presenter on the news programme on the radio.

Tonight, I was unfortunate enough to be constantly encountering a couple who had decided to have an argument while pushing their trolley around. We carried out a graceful, synchronised series of movements that meant we passed each other on every other aisle. At first, they were discussing loudly a decision about going somewhere. By the second encounter, he was annoyed at her for agreeing to it without asking him. Then in quick succession, he was angry that she had ignored him, she was somewhat miffed that he was taking this attitude and, when I’d finally decided to leave without completing my shop just to avoid the inevitable and embarrassing conclusion to this spat, they started to shout about their parents.

In the past I’ve been to Asdesco and been very afraid of the clientèle, including the ones in elasticated leggings who should never be allowed to own such items. I’ve been there on slow night, when all the slow people appear from their nooks and crannies to be slow in the aisles. I’ve been there for OAP friends evening, when everyone stands around in the aisles, chatting and blocking the way. Sadly, I have also been there on singles night (which in Swansea is a Thursday). Not to pick up girls though, just beans.

And how come a tin of beans and a loaf of bread comes to £75?



I started writing the ‘Heroes’ blog with the intention of including a bit about one’s peers. It didn’t fit so this is a separate blog uploaded at the same time.

We grow up in a bubble of time. As we move along, everything moves with us. Time is the same for everyone (no arguments about relativity and the astronauts in the International Space Station, please).  In my bubble, there are all the things that have come along for the ride. Friends, family, people, places, bands, beliefs, environment, culture, values.  They’re all familiar and safe and secure and as a result, we are too. Because they’re with us all the time we don’t see them change and we begin to take them for granted.

Then suddenly, the things in the bubble start to change. Places in the bubble are knocked down or modified beyond all recognition. Values change, people change as if they’ve dropped out of the bubble and are tumbling further and further behind as they are no longer dragged along with it. As the bubble represents our security and foundation, it can be disturbing, confusing and even scary. It’s a reminder that we, too, are changing from other’s viewpoint bubbles.

Think of a film or TV programme from your childhood. I’m thinking of Thunderbirds – the original TV series. I remember watching that when I was 5. That’s fortymumble years ago. It was the best TV programme ever, exciting, cool, lots of explosions. When I watched it again a few years ago, I saw it in the same way as my parents would have – it was a bunch of puppets, some models of machines and buildings and some fireworks for explosions. I was genuinely disappointed.

The people in the bands I used to watch on stage are now eligible for bus passes and recently some of them have died. Great swathes of my home town have been ‘improved’ to the point where they are no longer recognisable from only a few years ago. The things that were important to me when I was 20 are trivial now. Computers have changed, TV’s are flat. I can’t open the bonnet of my car and fix the engine any more. Friends move on, change or die.

I’m not complaining about progress. Changes happens (though not always for the best despite what you might be told by the person selling you the change – and if they tell you that all change is to be welcomed and those not embracing it are negative or cynical, without giving a good reason for change, then laugh at them). But it sometimes sneaks up on you and the adjustment required can be difficult.  Especially when it involves one of your peers.


EDIT 4 August: The ECO Pressed logo has appeared at the bottom of this post. I know nothing about this organisation and so do not necessarily agree with it or what it stands for. This is not an ‘eco’ post.


Who are your heroes?

My mum and dad are two of mine. Dad fought in WW2 but that’s too obvious a reason. My parents brought me up in the best way they knew. My dad left the RAF to ensure I had a stable period of schooling for my ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels. My mum stopped working to bring me up. Both my parents died of cancer but the way they faced it was something that made me proud and challenged me to live up to their example.

In the looser sense of the word, I would count several people that influenced me at various times during my life. I met a guy while I was a student in London who was training to be a missionary. He was the happiest person I had ever met and while I didn’t necessarily agree with all his beliefs, he was clearly content in his life and it made me look again at mine. My first girlfriend (for limited physical reasons).  A mate who had burst out of his conservative outlook to embrace anarchism. We had a great debate, after a night in the pub,  about how Britain as an anarchist state would work. I’m sure it was great… it was loud.

Various musicians and bands have influenced me. Mike Oldfield, Jon Anderson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Hawkwind. Some music inspires me. But these people and things are not true heroes.

In the past few years I’ve done some charity fundraising and inevitably I’ve come across some real heroes; people who have made sacrifices and struggled to achieve challenging goals. I met some fantastic people on my last trek who spent a large part of their lives fundraising for charities close to their hearts. There are work colleagues who have been through difficult time and have emerged unbeaten and gone on to champion their cause.  One colleague has just started to celebrate his tenth year of fund raising by embarking on a series of activities to raise £10,000 for charity. His website is here

Perhaps the most worthy heroes are the ones that we don’t hear about. They do their thing without any expectation of recognition and arguably that means they do it with the purest intention. (I don’t necessarily believe that is true or valid as the very nature of fund raising means the need to publicise the activity or event). But these people – carers and Joe Public – are true heroes too.