Allotmenteering or strawberreering 🍓

So this is our second year at the allotment, it is fair to say that last year was a bit hit and miss with the onslaught of the slug and mysterious corn munchers.

This year we have started with some gusto and a rotavator! The whole plot is looking so much better and we now have an eighth that is a strawberry bed🍓!

That is 48 strawberry plants, four varieties, and we are really looking forward to our jam making autumn! 😁


Let The River Run

I am not musically minded; current music trends almost always elude me and defeat me, but music does play a big part of my life. Whether it is my ‘gym’ playlist to keep me running those KMs on the treadmill or the USB stick filled with everything from Valkyrie Missile to the Rent sound track that I sing along to in the car (much to the despair of my better half) to shorten the journey.

I tend to always find myself listing to tracks at various crucial times in in life and they make a lasting memory, sometimes sad but usually happy. I can still revisit the imagined landscape of The Diamond Throne through listing to Billy Joel’s Stormfront from when I was 14; that trip across the Dukes Pass one hot August day in a Mini listening to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s famous Somewhere/Wonder medeley on repeat knowing that the song of that summer.

Over the last couple of days two tracks seem to have resonated really close to my heart; Let the River Run, by Carly Simon and We Are The Night by Steve Grand. These two tracks have somehow linked into my feelings about the events of the last couple of days in Orlando. I guess that both are a bit obvious (ready anthem-ie), but then sometimes I am a bit obvious (and occasionally anthem-ie).

Acceptance, openness and honest have been on my mind over the last wee while as I plan my wedding to my better half. 5 years ago this would have been unimaginable, mainly due to the law, but rewind 10 or 15 years ago and it would have been socially difficult as well. Not only has the UK overcome the legal issues around letting gay people cement their relationships in a personal, social and legal sense, but it has overcome a hostility that saw legislation banning the discussion of homosexuality in schools which lead to many troubled and lost teens abused by peers and society.

There are still cultural issues in the UK, some areas of faith or society still think it is a sin; morally or culturally wrong, but these are seen as more fringe day by day and the solidarity that has been demonstrated in Orlando, the UK and all over the world in the the last day has been, personally, very inspiring and spirit-lifting.

We cannot let those who would wish to limit us; those that would exclude us for any reason: race, creed, sexuality or any other; those that would put up barriers and stop our understanding of each other. We must address and defeat them at all possible turns, through constructive, creative and welcoming ways.

We are all the dreamers, dreamers of a bigger and better world of inclusion and hope. We are all together standing on that trail of desire, hoping the light of that bright star will bring truth and honesty. We are all sons and daughters.


Faith, Holidaze, Life, USA

Biblical Tour Guide aka A Metropolitan Museum Travesty

The Met was also the scene of an incident that really got my goat (and could often get my goat) about some aspects of some people’s American Culture. We happened to the surfing the Egyptian halls around the same time a Bible Tour Guide was explaining his version of the artefacts and Egyptian history.

D6 statue of a bound captive from the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Metropolitan Museum, New York.

It started with a rather excellent Dynasty 6 (c2200 BC) statue of a kneeling and bound captive.

It is an incredible fact that the statue has survive for over 4000 years, however the Bible Tour Guide decided to portray it as evidence that biblical figures were in Egypt and bound as such using images like the below as evidence.

For the enquiring mind you might think that it is evidence that an artist for a biblical publication in the 80s did some research and decided to use the statue (or other similar depictions) as inspiration. There is no fact beyond that!

Sadly however that was not the last indignity that this ‘guide’ gave to the collection

Head of a Cow Goddess
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The head of a cow goddess is thought to be either Hathor or Mehetweret, but this man decided to declare it as Hathor and proceeded to call her the original party girl; going out, partying down and getting drunk and debauching. He was using a lot of 21st century comparisons and allusions against this ancient Egyptian goddess and while granted she did have a role as goddess of music and dance, there we no bars, pubs and clubs that I can reference in Ancient Egypt history (do let me know if you know different!) and he was attempting to link these modern-day inventions with scenes like the below.


The biggest travesty of all was that was all he told his tour group about Hathor. There was nothing about the aspects of joy, the feminine aspect, fertility, love or motherhood; the cynic in me would say that is typical of a man preaching an Abrahamic religion the way he was.

At that stage my more calm (and laughing) other half had to physically removed me from that particular gallery room as through my raised voice I was trying too hard to make my corrections over heard. Oops.

I acknowledge that it is hard to sometimes not put a very modern perspective on a very ancient scene, especially when they can appear somewhat remote in terms of context, but yet very familiar; the young ladies above do seem to be having a good time with the music and dance. It is one thing that I thank the wonderful tutors at the University of Glasgow for constantly reminding the classes I have attended when we fall into that trap.

However sometimes is it an obvious and very deliberate; a way to disgrace and discredit an ancient culture, the people and the religion for your own ends. This is obviously wrong and more so in a place that is meant to be educating and informing with the facts that we know, not filling in the blanks of your own stories with the tall tales you can make up.

One thing though, this egit did not spoil my overall and very positive impression of the museum and the Egyptian collection.

Holidaze, Life, USA

Even Old New York was once New Amsterdam

So it had been holiday time again, a break away from the old pyramid and pharaonic routine and of out into the great beyond. This year it has been a two stager, very different stages detailed in this and the next blog (cause they are so different).

New York, New York (so good they named it twice) was hot, in the 30s during the day and mid 20s at night, and humid. It was the humidity and the 12 plus miles we walked for 3 days running that really wore me out. None of that though has put me off New York, it just made me realise that we should go back in the spring or autumn (or maybe even in the winter if we are feeling brave), so that we can continue our galloping tour of the city.

Getting off the plane at Newark was a pleasant surprise, I had many horror stories of long waits and rude border control, but it was seamless and relatively quick; my comparison is from when we crossed by road between Vancouver and Seattle, that was a long wait in a hot coach and then a queue beyond that. I was good that we had taken some advice and pre-booked a car to take us to our hotel; no wondering where to catch a bus or long struggles with suitcases, a quick call and there was our black sedan and an air-conditioned ride over to Manhattan.

But this isn’t going to be a “what I did and what I saw” blog about the trip…. The awe prevents that.

Size is the one thing that always gets me about America; 5 lane freeways and huge bridges all filled with cars and trucks (I like American trucks, I don’t know why but think it is the ‘nose’ compared to the British flat face). Skirting through New Jersey (there as a sign for the New Jersey Turnpike and I do need to work out what that is) we entered the tunnel to cross under the Hudson and onto the island.

I love grid systems, there I said it, I just become attuned to the blocks and grids and love it. There most be something in my psyche to draw me to them. Glasgow is very much the same in the city centre and it makes navigation and transit so much easier. Saying that, the journey from the tunnel exit to the hotel on west 50th was a real rat run; at one stage I see West 30th and then the number counted down and across and miraculously we popped out right outside the hotel. As it was a fixed fair I didn’t really care and was more interested in gawping (as I was) out the window.

The sliding entrance doors into the CitizenM became a ‘view of mercy’ for me. The opened and you got this lovely clod blast of air conditioning which gave me the most delightful shivers in comparison to the sticky heat of the outdoors. Even on that first trip through those doors I knew is was going to be something I learned to appreciate more and more.

The modern informality of the CitizenM is what draws me to them, I had previously stayed in the Glasgow and London hotels and deal for citizens make it more than comparable with other hotels which run a more budget approach to their establishments and guests. The fact that everything is electronic and I can sign myself in and get my own room key is a winner for me, in this modern age we should have the option to self-serve when we want to. We had a pod hotel in Heathrow and this the more advanced version of that.

Back the size thing, the 12 miles a day were spent exploring the Park and museums, the Highline and Midtown and it’s skyscrapers. The only exploring that didn’t add to the mileage was the roundtrip boat tour of the Manhattan island; who knew it was so green at the northern end of the island? If you had asked me with was end to end building and high-rise, not so green and dramatic.

Central Park is something that to me is incomparable in terms of size of a municipal park space. You could wander for miles and hours around its paths and byways. Finding (another) Cleopatra’s Needle sparked my immediate Egyptological interest and being on the park front of the Met it doomed poor companion to a fate he has been knowing would be coming. The Egyptology section of the Met is famous and well stocked with everything from pre-dynastic artefacts right up to the Greco-Roman period. To say this is where the highest percentage of my photos were taken would be spot on.

There was an incident in the Met, a small sign that there are some aspects of some American’s cultural values that I would have a problem with. Read all about that here.

A night time view from the Top of the Rock

A night time view from the Top of the Rock

Of course the Empire State and Top of the Rock (again I didn’t know that the Rockefeller Centre was multiple city blocks, I though it was just a building) were completed; the former during the day and in the evening (the photo beside is looking south to Empire State, Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower) and the latter only in the evening. Both stunning in terms of design, decor, views and buildings. To think that the Empire State was completed in 13 months and the story and history of innovation during the construction was incredible.

Shopping. Macy’s was a bit of a let down, but I think that was more due to the breakfast hunger and the rather disappointing fulfilment of that hunger in a dim and dingy looking restaurant. I think it needs another visit to get me out of the frame of mind that it is just a big John Lewis or Debenhams. However …. wow does 5th Avenue have some pricy jewellery shops, just looking in the windows almost seemed to cost! Saying all that though New York was the scene of my most recent technology purchase. Though slightly disappointed that the 5th Avenue Microsoft store was not yet opened, I found the concession stand in the Time Warner/Columbus Circle mall.

I had done my research before going, gathering up UK pricing for a Surface 3 with all the bells and whistles and, through a degree of humming and hawing (perhaps in a way the British can do) the helpful young lady at the concession stand also gave me the education discount and saved over £150 on the UK retail pricing (that includes the charge for the credit card $ to £ transfer!).

The last attraction I am going to mention specifically is the Intrepid. It is crazy to see an air craft carrier parked of Manhattan Island, but there she is all buddied up with a Concorde and the Growler. Beyond the ship herself two things stand out for me; the Enterprise, and the retelling of the kamikaze strikes on ships during the second world war.

The former is just so inspiring to me, granted the Enterprise never made it in to space, but was part of the effort to just a reusable launch vehicle. To see her up close gave me the shivers as to what we can achieve and where we can go. The latter was upsetting. It was a very emotive telling of the Japanese kamikaze strikes and, importantly, it was from both sides. There was the Japanese perspective of the fact these pilots died for what they thought was an effort to save their families and their way of life. To see it told in such a graphic and honest way, with footage from the Intrepid when she was struck by these planes and the loss of life… it is fair to say I did leave with a tears in my eyes. We all have to live on the tiny little planet and essentially we are all the same thing; human being, but the desire for mastery, power, wealth and ideology (though how much ideology is not driven by the three before i don’t know) have always made us want to conquer, subdue and kill. Would Britain, America, China and Russia be such ‘great nations’ if it were not for the last two world wars and the follow on wars of the last 4 decades? The Intrepid and her story and exhibitions caused me to be a bit reflective and grump for a few hours, so spare a though for the other half….

New York, I will go back. All the frantic walking and absorbing of the place made me just discover more I wanted to see. Next time though, it is not going to be in the heat of late summer.

Glasgow, Life, Work, York

How fast does a year go by….

Today is the second anniversary with a week that marked a substantial change to my life; a year ago on the 7th I left a job and a group of friends whom I had worked with for over 10 years; on 10th I left a city that had been home for almost 22 years and a flat that been my humble abode for almost 18 of those years. You may surmise that I can be a creature of habit and comfort.

However today is my first anniversary on my new job in a new city and a celebration of a year of commuting!

The former is good; yes it is a crazy place that needs some serious sitting out in termed of it’s priorities, but it (and the people) are generally up for it and are very open.

The middle thing is challenge to me; I know next to nothing about the city I commute to every day. I know how to get from the station to office, and I know a couple of good pubs, but that is it. What is actually in this city? I don’t know and with a hour to travel there and back again the prospect of finding out any time soon is not really there. I just wanna get home at the end of a day.

The latter aspect is the biggest surprise to me; I don’t mind the commute! From being an Owl in those 22 previous years (up late and to bed late), my working week has turned me, without to many tears and tantrums, into a Lark. I use my train time to study, read, write this blog and other such nonsense. Yes the spring, summer and autumn are far better than the darkness of winter, but there has been no SAD this year and I think that is partly due to the commute as an activity.

So all these anniversaries also mean that it has been a year of co-habiting; that has been a year of big changes as well bit it has been “survived” very well by both of us. We have moved on from that commuter relationship to house buying, cat adopting and weekly Tesco shops in an easy stride that I have loved and adapted to with easy. That maybe down to the Other Half and their adapting to me.

But for a year I do have some regrets; I have not seen some good friends in the North and do miss them and my family is that much further away and, though I was never the most regular visitor, it is now even more infrequent. More effort must be made on my part.

And for a year I am amazed how fast it has gone. Whirlwind!

Glasgow, Life, Scotland, UK/EU

The final time

So this weekend is my final trip to Glasgow to finish off the flat before the tenants move in on Monday. My last “free” weekend in my wee flat.

I know I am going to have mixed feelings. It has been upgraded to a nice standard, I do wonder why I didn’t do it for myself years ago.

It is also another last for me, a last trip to Scotland before the independence vote. Now that I am Yorkshire man I don’t get a vote; something I am mild disappointed in. However I have a greater fear for the post vote days, no matter which way it goes. This referendum has been polarising across Scotland, between family and friends and the morning after is not going to heal the hard words that have passed between some. Also, with a vote this close, and it will be close, there is not going to be a clear mandate either way. Yes there will be a legal victory, but if the losing side gets 40-49% of the vote, then whilst the matter will be settled, it will not be gone. There will still be a significant proportion of the Scottish electorate who thought the other way. This will benefit Yes, if it loses; there can be another referendum in 15 years time. There will never be a referendum to reunify…..

So I hope for a clear result; a +60% one way or the other, but I don’t think it will happen. On the 19th September, if it was a win either way by a few percentage points, then no one should be crowing, they should be working out how to reunify Scotland.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my criuse up the M6/M74 with, for the last time for at least a couple of years, the destination of St Vincent Street.

England, Faith, Life, Scotland

What is it for.

Social media that is……

We all have different ideas; for some it is all about our lives, sharing top bits of information, the odd photo and the even odder argument with the spouse or someone; for others it is about keeping up with our groups, clubs and cultural interests. Others see it as a new form of procrastination and the growing of electronic vegetables, and there are loads more ideas of what it might be for, but most of us use it in all kinds of different ways. Snippets, photos, games, groups, causes, catastrophes.

As someone who has recently left a good number of friends and family a good 4 hours drive away (miles huh?) and was never good on the phone call side of things I tend to use it for the odd bits of snippet info or photos. Yup there is sometimes a share, but only of something that is of interest to me that some friends may find of interest. It is where I do my best to keep those I now don’t get to see every day/week/month a bit of insight as to my new experience, and where I can find out how they, their kids/dog/dug/cat etc are doing.

What I struggle with is when friends or family activity complain they do not know how they are going to stay in touch and then start to remove me from friends/follow lists. I have either moved to a foreign country and become the enemy (Scotland to England, so in the current independence debate climate that may be the case in their fevered imaginations), or it may be because I am no long at the drop of a hat available that I am gone and forgotten.

Either way, it smarts a bit. From close friend to an unfollow in 5 months. How do you take that?

*honest I don’t post drivel!