Onions have layers, like people have secrets

I started this blog on 1st February 2020 nearly two years ago hoping to shed a skin or two of layers of my perception of life and write about my mental health experiences and my view on politics, loves and life. It’s such a good form of self expression having a blog and just as much fun reading and seeing what other people view and share too. I tend to go through phases of wanting to read others, wanting to look over my own and also wanting to write on my own or find new ones to follow.

But one thing I still have not had the ability to do yet on here is come out about my mental health (both past and present) and I am not sure if or when I ever will. The thing about publishing on the World Wide Web is although not many people do read this blog, it has the potential for anyone I know or even don’t know to read it and judge me. That judgment might then result in someone thinking less of me which is not a big deal, but if that judgement resulted in a work colleague or employee then making life difficult for me or even causing me to lose a job over then that would be a huge problem for me.

I work hard to pretend to be normal in a work environment and that hard work enables me the comfort of sleeping with a roof over my head in my own flat in a comfy bed and with relatively few nightmares. To come out about my mental health difficulties on here makes me feel that I risk all of that. So I don’t really discuss it or go into great detail about it really so as not to be at risk of being found out. Maybe my circumstances will change one day or something like that but I feel safe in my own skin leaving it as it is for now.

I take very few photos of myself although I have found one that a friend took in the most awesomely friendliest bar in Exeter called the Arcade that I was in recently.

Me, Will, Kev, and Nate (all legends on their own barstools)

Expert on green living I am not!

But the futre of the planet is still in our hands

I have just had the good fortune or should that be misfortune of trying to calculate my carbon footprint online! After completing my fifth or so survey this evening I am none the wiser as to whether the results are good or bad. I’ve done one by the World Wildlife Fund, United Nations and one called CoolClimate Calculator to name but a few. There are things I know I do that are good like getting my electricity on what is called an “Octopus super green tariff” which uses green energy measures for my electricity and carbon offsets my gas usage. Also not owning a car or a pet even and using public transport, but there are things I do that don’t help such as eating meat, purchasing goods (or should that be bads) from Amazon and flying to Dublin last year. So on the eco tour of my life choice journey it’s kind of a swings and roundabouts ride or snakes and ladders game you might say but hopefully and mostly going in the rightly sourced direction!

I do think that it’s important to try to be ethical and think about the environment consequences of what we do, thoughtful with what we consume both purchases for our homes, body and charitable donations to others too!

But it’s not that easy to work out what you need, want or don’t need or don’t want. Or know how to buy something ethically or unethically. I can shop locally for food my favourite baker on the Quayside near me is selling great fresh bread and locally sourced milk, but when I go in there one of my main problem is also not buying there delicious cakes, ummm cakes!!

Here is one someone made earlier

One of my biggest purchases last year (in size and cost) was no not a cake! But to invest in a new bed my last one was knackered with rusty springs, rusty springs I tell you. Well in need of replacement even before the pandemic started but the bed firms stopped doing disposal and recycling of old beds during the covid-19 lockdowns so it was very difficult trying to sort out getting a new bed while sorting out the departure of the old one. But how do I know what is an ethically sourced bed or not.

Out with the old and sleeping on the new

I bought the bed from a local store of a national chain of stores that had a shop in Exeter, because I do like to support stores with a local base when I can and when I know what I am purchasing, but I have no idea if it was an environmentally friendly or unfriendly purchase.

I think we just need to be mindful of what we are doing and purchasing and why at all times as the little consumers that we are, I have just remembered a phrase my Grandpa used to say about having or buying something which was ‘it’s only a bargain if you actually need it’.

So maybe I can’t be the most ethically sourced consumer on the planet but what I can do is not be frivolous with the time, money and resources that I do have at my disposal.

Villagers – Set the Tigers Free

A Covid-19 Christmas & the Winter Flues

Well since I have returned from Ireland the new Covid-19 variant seems to be travelling through to new countries and lighting up warning lights of all those across the globe that it seems to comes into contact with. There seems to be an attempt in the UK to resist the locking down of society until we have spent enough festive season money in order to give our retailers and leisure industries enough time to make enough cash to still hopefully be in a position to remain viable business even if the economy needs to lockdown again in the new year.

You hear on the news, health professionals advising us to get another jab of the antivirus, work from home and wear masks and reduce mixing in public and they also advocate the introduction of further lockdowns in order to reduce the spread of covid-19 and reduce the pressure on our health services and reduce the risk of death for citizens.

But it seems a little mad to type, let alone contemplate an opposite to a health professionals view but you have others on the opposite side of the health advocacy spectrum saying continue to go to work, party and buy presents. Because if we don’t we might risk the collapse of our economies which would result in even greater suffering and potential lose of livelihoods and lives.

I hope that there is some kind of middle ground rather than a crash and learn approach which seems very popular by UK government politicians. I think we should already have some kind of covid-19 passports and proof of covid-19 status in place as they have in Ireland for when entering hospitality venues. Ireland is very much more restrictive than the UK. I believe they have now implemented bars being closed and people out of them by midnight. Table service for no more than six people.

We do need to learn to live with covid-19 but at what cost to our economy and/or health is still to be measured. I have yet to have a booster jab and I know as I am in a vulnerable group I need to book one in at some time in the next month or two. But I feel very guilty for the luxury afforded to me living in a modern rich county on how I am pampered with covid-19 jabs and it feels slightly sickening to be being offered my third when many people in poorer countries have yet to even be offered their first chance of having a jab.

Also many on those counties have no access to healthcare services to find out if they have covid-19 let alone getting treatmetn for covid-19 and even if they could find out if they have it might have to continue working with it for risk of losing a job or having a job that if they don’t work they don’t eat. It also feels like these are all fixable situations buy wealthier nations make a calculated choice to not to help others with as much help as they could or should.

The wealthy nations or the world that I happen to live in one of are in no way free nations, when it comes to poorer nations, they are not free to trade with us as equals or to travel to us as tourists, or live amongst us as equals. They are not able to have free access to the medical benefits and advancements that we have, and they certainly don’t have as much stability in their lives as we are blessed to have due to the place we were born into not due to the people we are made up from.  

I fear if covid-19 sticks around in the long term, it will just be used as another economic statistic to prove how great wealthy countries are compared to poorer nations that will be made to suffer greater under its rain of infectious terror.

COVID-19 Outbreak World Map Total Deaths per Capita

Gabrielle Aplin – Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Trip to Dublin in Ireland

Just come back from a wonderful visit to Dublin in Ireland. This visit has been booked and planned for since July. We stayed on the other side of the river from the Temple Bar pictured above.

Memorial to Lead singer of Thin Lizzy – Philip P Lynott

Managed to do some sightseeing, and visited the Guinness Brewery. Listened to lots of live music in a few bars or from buskers on the street, tasted some of the local cuisine and drank some world-famous Guinness as well as some local beers too.

My pint from the Gravity Bar at the top of the Guinness brewery building

I travelled over with a friend called Matt and the last time we were both able to go to Ireland at the same time was about 20 years ago so it was a great opportunity for us both to go there again.

View from the Gravity Bar at Guinness Factory

Due to Covid-19 restrictions in bars and restaurants I think it was also just as well that there were not to many of us going at once. Table service was taking places in most bars and restaurants and it was easier for them to find a table for the two of us instead of a big group.

Guinness mascot the Toucan

The above photo is of some of the collection of Guinness marketing memorabilia taken from inside the Guinness factrory tour that we went on.

I really was hoping that the world was getting used to managing the Covid-19 pandemic by now, but with the new variant now blowing up and daily announcements getting worse and worse while we were in Ireland it was a little unsettling at times to be away from home.

It really is a treat to travel and I am so glad we were able to go and make memories and take a few photos, but being back home safe and well is also something to be savoured.

One of Dublins own bands – Thin Lizzy with Whiskey In The Jar

Moving They Keep On Moving!

Well a lot has happened since I last wrote in this space. Parents are both packing up all there belongings into boxes in their separate homes. Mum is moving back to Devon and Dad decided that he would move out of his bungalow into a new flat too. Who knew the stress of moving could be so much fun, no really who does know about the stress of moving as it is no fun and it’s not even me doing the move.

I thought the whole point of moving was to go to a place that you actually want to live, not just a pit stop along the race track of life. I’m very lucky in that I have a lovely flat and although it’s not my own the rental property is secure and the amount I pay is low, so I will stay here for as long as I can.  

I started trying to help my Dad move into his new place and pack a few boxes last Friday I travelled out from Exeter to Crediton. My only problem was I had picked up a cold probably from work and my voice box had packed up on me so had to screech my destination to the driver on each bus I was travelling on. I did not feel too unwell but my voice box was knackered. I took a Covid-19 rapid flow test to just to be sure I had not picked up Covid-19 and that came back as me being in the clear.

I then spent much of my weekend back in my lovely warm flat sleeping off my cold non covid-19 lurgy until this morning when I needed to join my Dad again for the actual moving out of property day to help direct the removal men to which box was going in which room in the new flat. This went well, and I feel a lot better in myself now and less worried for my Dad so I hope he settles into his new home.

Mother on the other hand although has sold her old home and bought a new one to move into will be moving into rented accommodation in December or January as the property that she is moving into will not be finished until June.

So that moving thing will be going on twice for her and no doubt I will have something to do with some parts of her move too. On the plus side the property she has bought to move into in June is a lovely house in a lovely village.

One thing over the weekend that kept on making me think my illness can’t be Covid-19 was that I did not lose my sense of taste although with everything happening all at the same time I do have to report I did lose my sense of humour, though I am pleased to report is coming back again now.

Supergrass – Moving

Invasion of the page snatcher!

At the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic there was for some very strange reason a run on buying toilet paper and just the mention of the run on toilet paper and potential shortages due to panic buying made people buy even more causing even more shortages. Well to add fuel to the fire this time its petrol stations on the shortage list for a number of economic and headline grabbing reasons.

While not owning a car and being fortunate enough not to have a relative or friend needing life saving medication or nursing treatment at this particular moment in time this so called crisis has not affected me yet. I did a food shop with Sainsbury’s and for a change even managed to get everything that I wanted and needed too.

I thought to myself on the way home today that those that can profit from such times as these will thrive and those that can’t will suffer, such is the way of things. Although to suffer through no fault of your own in such times hardly feels fair or just.

People are strange! But I am stranger.

Friends relationships seem to be shifting on rocket fuel at the moment, in such a fast motion it’s as if there is a huge hurry for those that can enter them and such hope and joy for them when things are going right and a huge disappointment for those that can’t or for when things go wrong.

I am very lazy and shy when it comes to relationships. I am very happy in my own skin and don’t want to jeopardise my somewhat fragile state of contentment, happiness and positive control over my own life. When it comes to make ups, break ups, heart missed a beat moments and heartbroken temper tantrums I have been there got the t-shirt.

There are still many strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities that are out there in life. My job is tough at the moment but I accept that and make the most of it. It’s a place in time doing something that I want to do and would not know where else I could be and can’t really imagine myself doing anything different right now. But I still keep my eyes open to possibilities that come up.

Well that’s my kind of attitude to life in general at the moment. Duck and dive, roll with the punches and keep my eyes open for the next trick shot.

Mumford & Sons – Blind Leading The Blind

Work, health and happiness

Lots happening and finally picked up a bit of my own advice coming back to me today after I had said it to someone else when looking to support them, I think I find it easier to give advice than I do take it even when it’s my own!

Two weeks ago today I woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and feeling hot in my bed but cold as soon as I took my sheets off and all-round not feeling great. I feared I might have the first signs of covid-19 and so called to get some advice whether I needed to take a test and if so how I got about getting one. With not driving I could not just simply drive to a test centre and you don’t exactly want to jump in a car and get a lift while potentially infected or hop on a bus. By the morning I was already feeling better but still concerned not to take any potential illness into my workplace. So I took a rapid covid-19 test that I picked up at a pharmacy which brought back a negative covid=19 test. My local doctor also advised me then to take a Covid PCR test which meant they posted it to me on Thursday, it arrived with me on Friday and I posted back to the test centre on Friday and got my negative test back Saturday. It really was a superfast free service.

So no need to self isolate and covid-19 scare passed. That weekend I also submitted a job application for a job at my local council in the same team that I work in. I am looking for a chance to develop and grow and also being run down by a lot of negativity and complaints that we are dealing with over the phones. People often phone the council assuming that as they pay taxes the council is responsible for solving any or all problems that they might have.

The new job would have involved working with improving people’s homes and doing disability and environmental adaption’s to help people live in their own homes. It felt more project focused rewarding and plannable rather than the reactive work that I am doing now. I worry that I am still after 20 years of working still trapped as an admin assistant answering phones and spelling things that I type wrong and not able to escape that type of work.

So I found out this morning that after my interview yesterday that I am still an admin ass rather that a project pro. I worked from home today so just dealt with my own demons in my mind and members of the public over the phone. But for those staff that I did speak to in the office where very kind and hugely supportive, which reminds me why I like working there in the first place. Working in an environmental health setting during a pandemic really has been an unforgettable experience. The people I work with are great; we all have days that go well as well as those that don’t do so well. There is a certain type of dark humour that goes with the territory of the work but it’s more for me about finding humour in the moment and in no way laughing at people but laughing with them. If you did not laugh you would cry sometimes.  

My advice is or was, don’t take things to personally when someone is venting at you about something that is not your fault. Don’t build up your own problems all into one big bundle of pain, but take them on in bite sized chunks that you are more likely to be able to digest rather than them instead eating you up and spitting you out. Fianlly be greatful and thankful for what you have for many have nothing at all.   

Moby – Natural Blues

Environmental catastrophe or slow car crash syndrome!

I don’t know if you have ever been in a car accident or crash but for a very brief moment in time all your senses are heightened and it feels like everything that is happening in slow motion even though time ticks along at its same old pace. Your eyes are wide open and if like I was, your in the passenger seat then all you can do is sit and watch the driver hopefully move the vehicle to somewhere safe (if your lucky).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on the current state of knowledge about climate change. Today they issued a IPCC report is ‘code red for humanity’

Though many will still scoff at the idea of climate change and claim it’s still a matter of what ever they can try and stretch our little brains into believing it is, so long as it is anything other than actual climate change and does not interfere with their capitalist freedoms to make money at the expense of others, such naysayers will always exist on a spectrum of opinions and ideas about ever changing situations on big issues. There are many that still don’t believe that Covid-19 exists but at least they never stopped the development of vaccines and medical advancements for the rest of us.

We could seriously be looking at the car crash of a situation that could very much destroy this planet and all life on it if we are not careful, the idea of the destruction of wildlife, climate change and irreversible decline in climate are ideas that have been around the block since when I was a child and yet still we get headlines like those of today like this warning that this was some how not foreseen, certainly not acted upon as quickly as it could have been and were still in the eye of the storm or the screeching of the breaks of the car crash of a situation.

Just as with Covid-19 I feel that humanity has within it the capacity to do what is right, when it is asked to and by those that need to. But time really will wait for no man, women or environment to see if we learn our own collective climate changing lessons.  

Rory Ellis – Road of no return