Who’s running this? …

Last week was manic.

Totally mad.

I was exhausted.

Too many meetings (nearly all self inflicted I admit), too many unexpected events, too much rescheduling needed to claw back some free time.

Non stop racing against the clock and running so fast just to stand still.

I rarely get stressed.

Last week I was stressed.

It was a very strange and unexpected sensation.

Didn’t even have time to talk to one or two dear friends who I could have relied on to talk sense and help me through the options.

My reaction?

Sit down, breathe (it helps) and calmly work out what needs to change.

I have just made next week’s activities more manageable.

Fewer meetings.

More invitations and opportunities declined.

More free time with nothing in the diary.

I will fill some of it of course with some personal stuff I have wanted to get done for ages but this time without any outside pressure on deadlines.

Lessons learnt?

I need to stay in control of my weeks ahead.

Every week.

Saying “No” to people who always expect me to say “Yes”

They will just have to cope.

They will.

Deferring meetings or projects that can easily wait a week or so.

Without the world ending.

It won’t.

It’s a nice feeling realising it’s really down to me.

I’m running this delightful life.

I just need to consistently manage people’s expectations …..

and perhaps, more importantly, my own. 🙂

Taking my breath away …

Our scheduled bike ride is not until this Friday.

One of those cycle tours from a book with a map and a sense of humour.

On my part a sense of direction would help too.

I just had to check out the cycle ride start point – it was 20 miles from home – so I went into my “let’s do it” mode and set off in my car.

I arrived in Thaxted.

The rain falling.

It was beautiful beyond my expectations.

Oh my God why hadn’t I ever visited this place complete with church, a guidhall and so many places to drink tea?

I stood before the church just staring.

I was lost in its charm and grandeur.

I walked around the town centre slowly taking in the quaint, buzzing atmosphere.

People wished me good afternoon.

Cars let me cross the road.

I must admit to being surprisingly moved and affected by the place.

I had to stop at a local cafe for a pot of tea – just part of my testing things out, you understand.

The bike ride planned for Friday cannot come soon enough ….

Thank you Cycling Tours book.

I’ll let you know how I get on …

I didn’t know Marjorie …

I’ve been resting on this bench seat for the last 20 years at the end of my bike ride to Writtle.

I have never ever noticed the plaque on the back of the seat.

Marjorie Jessie Hill

1900 – 1997

This is a worry.

Is the plaque new?

Unlikely, it looks quite weather worn.

Do I only look forwards when I take a seat facing the pond and the ducks?

How could I have missed it?

Today I am sitting on this seat reading Greta Thunberg’s short book on climate change.

She’s the Swedish girl born in 2003 causing quite a stir of late.

The book “No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference” is a collection of her recent speeches around the world telling everyone to wake up about climate change and take it seriously.

Marjorie, 97 when she died in 1997, missed all of this.

No climate change awareness in those days.

Perhaps it wasn’t changing then.

Greta’s point is that nobody is paying attention now.

And they should be.

Now.

Not for us but certainly for future generations.

Like me with the plaque, it’s there but not registering.

The link between my plaque incident and the book was poignant and was not lost on me.

The hairs on the back of my neck bristled as I read the book.

I’m missing the big picture and the small ones too it seems.

I need to keep my eyes open in future.

About the future.

We all do….

The Phone Call …

I worked with N way back in my Corporate life days.

She was one of the key members of my team.

We had not connected for about 20 years.

We had taken different paths in our careers.

An attempt to remedy this last year with her had to be cancelled at the very last minute but we did say we would reschedule.

We didn’t of course as we carried on with our busy lives.

Tonight we met up for a meal in the City.

My car was parked in my train station car park but this was always locked up at 11.00pm so arriving back later was not a good idea.

What are we going to chat about after all this time?

Will she still recognise me?

I waited in reception at our old offices where we used to work (for nostalgic reasons and I knew where it was).

She hadn’t changed at all.

Still full of energy.

Still buzzing and hustling her way out of the lift.

It was an easy reconnection as we made our way to the restaurant (she had already booked a table – she would).

She had tipped me off to download the free cocktail voucher offered by the restaurant (I did as I was told).

We chatted on arrival and had to be constantly reminded to order our food.

We both asked questions, chatted and listened.

A quick glance at our watches suddenly revealed we had been there for 3 hours.

N was horrified.

“Will you still be ok for your train?” she asked.

“Yes, I’m sure I’ll be ok” I said.

We said goodbye and parted company at the underground train station where she headed north and I headed east.

We promised to keep in touch and meet again soon.

I ended up on my main line train heading towards home.

Slightly tired as I sat down but having enjoyed a really nice evening.

My mobile phone suddenly rang.

I quickly answered when I saw it was N.

“Hi, just wanted to check you managed to get your train ok!”

“Thank you N I am safely on the train heading home”.

“That’s great – thank you for a lovely evening”

A simple phone call of care and concern.

Priceless.

Much appreciated…. very much like her company for the evening.

Thank you N.

We must meet again soon …

Let the music in – part 2

I wasn’t expecting for there to be a part 2.

After last week’s delightful experience selling my old guitar amplifier to Clive (I’ll always remember him) I had completely forgotten about our band rehearsal scheduled for this afternoon.

We meet up every fortnight or so to rehearse for a gig we don’t have until April 2020!

We like to be prepared because I find it reduces the nerves on the night if we know what we are doing.

The interesting aspect here is that we are normally a 3 piece band but have added an extra friend of mine to play additional guitar and keyboard in the band to enhance the sound plus my brother in law who is our excellent sound-man.

The chemistry is pretty amazing.

We laugh, we joke, we play, we revise, we challenge, we just love playing.

We are very lucky to be able to do this and we do not take it for granted.

Music is a hobby – we will not be pop stars.

But that is not the point.

The point is that we write our own stuff (not sure where this comes from), play cover songs and just enjoy the music.

We see each other a lot.

Individually we are not bad musicians at all even if I do say so myself.

As a group however we are just so much better than the sum of our parts 😎

The story of life in my experience …

Let the music in …

My old guitar amplifier was gathering dust in the garage.

My new one is far more versatile and does everything except make tea.

So it was time to sell the old one to a good home.

Up for sale it went on social media and there was absolutely no interest over the first 3 weeks.

Suddenly, two days ago the World woke up and it felt like everybody was after it.

Over 400 views on the selling site.

Messages flew in thick and fast asking if it was available.

“Does it do karaoke?”

“No” – I politely replied.

People do karaoke not guitar amplifiers.

But I knew what they really meant so I wasn’t flippant in my response.

“I’ll buy it if you cut the price by 25%” asked one potential buyer.

“No thank you” I said as I continued handling an increasing list of enquiries.

“Why don’t you give it to charity?” asked one participant in the online mayhem

“I’ll pick it up now if you halve the price” asked another.

No and no again I politely responded to each.

“I’m interested” said Adam “and I’ll collect it tomorrow”.

Ok – this was my first, firm, sensible offer so I said yes.

No news from Adam on the day so I chased him to check in the afternoon if he was still interested.

“Oh I’m interested” he said “but I’ve just woken up and I’ll be with you in 40 minutes”

He then sent me a message that his car had broken down and he was waiting to be recovered by his car rescue service.

“So am I” I thought

But a promise is a promise.

I held the amplifier for Adam until sunset and then it was back on the market.

Then Clive surfaced on my message list.

“I’ll be over at 3.30pm to buy it but do you have a guitar I could use?”

“ Of course” I said “and I’ll throw in a cup of tea too while you test it out”.

He arrived at 3.30pm and then treated me to some fantastic guitar playing as he tested the amplifier.

We chatted about everything from gigs to pickups to string gauges to the meaning of life.

He bought the amplifier but honestly I would have almost given it to him.

What a personality, what a guy, what a musician.

What an amazing buying and selling experience.

Thank you Clive …. you really made my day …

Whose vacation is it? 😎

My friends Mark and Louise from Australia (I’ve blogged about them before) are off on an impressive well deserved vacation over the next month covering quite a few countries, quite a few time zones and many flights.

They have been keeping me updated on their vacation preparations and Mark has even invested in a daily journal app on his phone and has been experimenting with updates and photos which he has sent on to me.

He will be using this facility on their adventure, keeping a select few updated on his daily experiences.

I’m privileged to be on his list.

They are off in a day or so and I’m just so excited and so looking forward to his stories and photos.

It will enable us to be even closer in our contact and, with Mark’s writing style, he will tell it exactly how it is.

I’ll be seeing places I probably will never probably visit in my lifetime.

So in effect I’ll be sharing a part of their life over the next month.

I just sit back in amazement that, although I won’t be with them in person I will be experiencing it via his blog.

A virtual vacation in effect.

The power of writing.

Capturing and sharing memories.

I just love it.