Stour Woods - a place to be alone but not lonely.

Modern society can be a noisy, hostile, competitive place.

Narcissism seems to be on the rise 'out there' and at times, the collective effect can be too much.

Stour Woods - a place to be alone but not lonely. Click To Tweet

There is a place, almost on my doorstep, where insects, birds, trees and wild flowers provide the perfect antidote to the demands
of daily life.

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What are the three most intimate things you can do with another person? I’ll give you a clue - they all begin with S.

Any ideas what they are?

Ok, so the first one is obvious.

  • Sex - this is probably the most intimate thing you will ever do with another human being. Although in my opinion, it does come a close second to number two on the list.
  • Sleep - this is an extremely intimate thing to do with another person because it does take a massive amount of trust to be completely unconscious for eight hours in the presence of someone else.

So what is the third one?

In my opinion, doing this thing makes us pretty vulnerable and requires a lots of trust in the other people involved.

What are the three most intimate things you can do with another person? Click To Tweet

It is...ta da...

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blog block

Blog Block - yeah, I just made that up.

If it's a thing, I have it. Not just with my own but with just about every blog in the world.

Am I alone with my blog block? Certainly feels that way.

I have no desire to read. I have no desire to write.

Blog Block - yeah, I just made that up. Is it a thing? #bloggerburnout Click To Tweet

The only thing I have any desire for at the moment is to look at beautiful, natural things and get high on colour.

There is no problem with painting, making, taking pictures and staring at the sky when I have time to myself, I just don't want to write.

Blog block is becoming social media block too.

Time spent on social media unsettles me because it feels pointless and means I am not immersed in colour and everything coming to life now that it's March.

So I compromised and made this picture to put on my blog because it's how I feel right now. The words I put on it are all I can say about life as I deal with my aging family.

It is the only thing that comforts me since my much loved 96 year old Aunty left us back in February and my own parents are in the winter of their lives.

Emotions well up frequently at the moment and all I can say to myself is:

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die...

And its the time to die bit that is getting to me as I do all the things I have to do right now.

I know I am not alone in this. There are so many of us 'boomers' watching the same decline of the elderly in our families.

Blog block is the least of my worries I guess.

For the time being, I will be back here with a picture or two when the mood takes me and if it doesn't, well the tumble weed will be tumbling right through here until i get my blog mojo back.

But what if it doesn't come back?

Has blog block ever hit you and if so, what did you do?


Caring is surely one of the most natural things for a human being to do, unless your early years were so bad that you became a psychopath.

So why are we no longer caring for our babies and our elderly parents ourselves?

Why are we no longer caring for our babies and our elderly parents ourselves? Click To Tweet

Why are we no longer caring for our own flesh and blood but instead, are paying others to do it for us?

Recently, my own parents needed caring for 24/7 during a health crisis.

My sister and I knew the crisis would probably pass, and it did.

However, during the seven weeks we spent taking turns living at their house, I lost count of the number of people who said to me:

“Gosh, you are good, I couldn't do that.”

Say what? You couldn't look after your own parents if they needed you?

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The Apprentice

The Apprentice is possibly my favourite TV show ever - but for all the wrong reasons.

The Apprentice is a show I have been watching for many years.

It is my weekly dose of Sugar. Alan Sugar is the only form of sugar I can take and not fall asleep half an hour later.

Alan Sugar is the only form of sugar I can take and not fall asleep half an hour later. Click To Tweet

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post about The Apprentice in which I was pretty scathing about the candidates.

I opened that post with these words:

'The Apprentice is back on our screens and already I am in despair over the glaring discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.'

I went on to warn that if parents of tiny children insist on telling little Oscar how clever he is every single time he does the most mundane things, he will grow up to be like the most annoying candidates on the Apprentice.

There is a major discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.' Click To Tweet

Everywhere in life we encounter people who believe they can get by in life simply by banging on about how great they are at everything without actually being obviously great at anything.

The Apprentice still appears, in 2016, to be populated with people who don't understand the difference between being brilliant and telling people they are brilliant.

They big themselves up before a task, only to look completely baffled (and hurt!) in the board room when Lord Sugar bigs up their total incompetence, in simple tasks they have failed at by a million miles.

When I see the baffled looks, I think of all the witless parents I have seen praising their kids to high heaven for being able to draw a crappy 'circle' on a piece of paper.

If the 'circle' actually looks like a lopsided chicken, it is probably best that you don't start yelling, "clever boy! You made a circle!"

He may end up on the Apprentice one day believing that lopsided chickens are suitable substitutes for actual circles.

And he will look crestfallen when Lord Sugar ridicules his 'circle' and fires him.

It's much kinder to say, "well I can see you really tried with that and if you were going for a lopsided chicken, it's brilliant! But if you were thinking 'circle', little Jimmy, it's a bit shit. Try again and try harder."

The Apprentice
We need to be careful and realistic with our praise of children's achievements otherwise it becomes meaningless.

As I said in my post from 2014, the Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today.

Since I wrote it, I have watched last year's show and am halfway through the 2016 one and, my opinion has not changed at all.

To quote from my last article:

'Every year we see a bunch of youngsters bigging themselves up to bursting point. They all say the same stuff – “I’m passionate, I’m the best there is, I could sell ice to Eskimos, I’m like a young Lord Sugar” etc etc etc.'

And then they totally screw up the simplest of tasks.

It is deeply disturbing to me that out of all the candidates who applied to go on the show, these ones were chosen as the best of the bunch. Is this the kind of business talent our country has to offer?

Are these people Lord Sugar's best hope for turning his £250,000 investment into £250,000000? I hope not.

I hope that the producers, or whoever chooses the candidates, are selecting them based on how entertaining they will be rather than how astute they are in business.


There is rarely any substance to back up the grand claims these candidates make about themselves and I am still firmly behind my belief that people like this come from the "wow! Well done, clever you!" generation who fail to understand that what grandma has always said about your abilities may not be true.

Grandmas are biased.

I am very careful in my praise for my grandchildren, I make sure it is honest and encouraging. I don't tell them their 'circle' is brilliant if it looks like a lopsided chicken.

It is effort and tenacity that I praise and when the circle loses its chicken-like appearance, then I start to praise that too. We need our children to grow and persevere so that the self-belief they take into the world is realistic.

Last week, the Apprentice was slightly more encouraging to watch.

We saw 25 year old Frances Bishop lead Team Nebula to a spectacular victory in Episode 7, the boat show task.

However, the rare but glorious financial success achieved by Team Nebula on that task was counterbalanced by the spectacular fail brought home by Team Titan, lead by Karthick Nagesan.

Karthick, is now famous for an extremely disturbing quote about his abilities as a project manager. During the boat show task autopsy, prior to his unprecedented firing, before the final boardroom showdown, he tried to impress Lord Sugar with this:

“I even project managed the conception of my baby boy. I know the exact hotel room in the exact country on the exact day he was conceived. How many parents can give the gift of that information to their kids?”

Say what? At some point in his life, I can see Karthick's son with his fingers in his ears singing la la la la la. No-one wants that information from their parents. No-one.

So, thus far through the Apprentice 2016, I stand by the advice I gave parents about praise back in 2014.

Encourage your children by all means. Be supportive but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Save the ‘wow well dones’ for genuine achievements to help them learn the difference between mediocrity and excellence and to give them something to aspire to.

Be a supportive parent but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Click To Tweet

If mummy jumps up and down and says “good boy! Clever boy! Look daddy, Oscar made a dot on the paper! Clever boy!”, then you aren’t going to develop your mark-making skills beyond the dot because the dot you did was obviously the best thing ever.

That is where, I believe, self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.

The Apprentice
Do you fancy yourself as a business partner to Lord Sugar?

Applications for the Apprentice 2017 are now open.

You can apply here.

And I beg you - if you have any genuine business acumen, creativity and common sense, please apply and make the Apprentice 2017 a year when we in the UK can say, wow, these people are our future.

Next year, I don't want to sit and cringe at the dreadful 'viral' video ideas that supposedly clever and creative young people are coming up with.

I want to feel confident that there are young people out there with common sense and abilities that could make this country prosperous (or failing that, just Lord Sugar).

Keep up with this year's programme here on Facebook.

What is your view on the Apprentice (either lead by Lord Sugar in the UK or President Trump in the US!)

Is there a version of the Apprentice in your country - what is it like?





Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US I believe), is an emotional day for millions of people around the world.

There are many people who say we should forget the wars. They say we shouldn't keep looking back.

And maybe they are right, maybe we shouldn't dwell on past wars.

But one thing we must never forget is the untold misery, along with the devastation that wars have caused to ordinary people who lost their precious family members.

Three days ago, I was going through a small box of things with my mum and had a stark reminder that the pain of loss never really goes away.

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Well, what do Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Jay Haughton have in common?

They got off their backsides, wrote books for children, had them published and therefore, earned the title of author.

Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl both sold millions of books that were loved by children the world over, whilst being heavily criticised by adults.

Both Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are dead now but each has left a huge body of work that children still love to read. The work of both is still heavily criticised by the literati snobs and intelligentsia who seem to believe they know better than the billions of children who have enjoyed their books.

And Jay Haughton, author of children’s book Happy As Larry, has done what so many wannabe authors fail to do, he has followed through with his ideas and made them a reality. And really, good for him - he is head and shoulders above the rest of us who just talk about doing it.

Jay Haughton, author of children’s book Happy As Larry, has done what so many wannabe authors fail to do. Click To Tweet

Of course, there will be an army of people out there, ready to do to Jay, what was done to Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and many other controversial authors before and since.

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Copyright claim

False copyright infringement claims are a real problem for YouTubers, it seems.

How do I know this? Well I recently had false copyright infringement claims made against me and when I looked into it, I found thousands of people practically spitting blood about how copyright infringement claims are ruining their YouTube lives.

False copyright infringement claims are a real problem for YouTubers. Click To Tweet

This post is about my fight with the online entity that tried to claim copyright on my work and, about the eventual outcome.

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Inspirational quotes

An inspirational quote can come from our own minds - they don't always come from Pinterest!

Yes - I too have my moments when everything is crystal clear and I give advice to myself - well, don't you?

The inspirational quote I have made here came to me after I thought about people who force the family to sit in church on Sunday while living very un-Christian lives in full view of their children.

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words to inspire

Words to Inspire

Words to inspire who?

Well, And maybe you too if you need words to inspire you for any reason.

We all get those days when that yappy little gremlin settles down on one shoulder and yells in our ear.

We all get those days when that yappy little gremlin settles down on one shoulder and yells in our ear. Click To Tweet

Not sure why gremlins never yell nice stuff like, "Wow, you are a fecking genius - I LOVE you!"

I guess it's all to do with gremlin street cred. Being nice isn't what gremlins do.

Yesterday, I had two gremlins settle down for the day - one on each shoulder, both shouting crap in my ears in Ossie Osbourne's voice.

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