Fuelling The Fury

Yummy Cakes in Coffee#1What a conundrum, I had enough petrol to get back to Bristol, to get B back home in time for her to go to work on Monday, but probably not enough to then get back to Ringwood. With the petrol panic still in full flow, should I drive around, using precious petrol, on the off chance I might stumble across a filling station with petrol, or just go for broke and head off to Somerset?

Having seen the CLOSED signs everywhere round Poole, there didn’t seem much mileage in embarking on a search, so we packed our bags and headed off towards Blandford. All the supermarket forecourts were empty, apart from the army of traffic cones, indicating that the priceless hydrocarbon nectar was non-existent. We pressed on, trying to eek as many miles out of each and every drop of fuel.

Having done the Bristol run, many, many times, I knew of a little filling station on the A360 in Longbridge Deverill, and sure enough it came up trumps. No queues, plenty of petrol and a public loo to boot. The price was a little more than I am used to pay, but considering our plight, we were only too happy to pay it.

So it just goes to show. If you can keep your cool, remain calm and collected whilst those about you are running (or driving) around like headless chickens, almost any situation can be overcome. With a full tank of petrol, and an empty bladder, we were back our way again, non the worse for the experience.

Just to further sweeten the trip, we took a minor detour into Keynsham to share a mini cheesecake and a slice of carrot cake in Coffee#1. After a short bimble round the shops for bread and fresh veggies, we got back onto the A4 and trundled back to Stapleton.

Picture Perfect

Bahamas? - No, Sunny DorsetJust how lucky are we? Taking a week off in the UK at the end of March would not strike you as the most likely time to find blue skies and sunbathing temperatures, but that’s what we’ve had all week. They are promising snow for next week, but right now we could be in the Bahamas.

With the sun peeping through the fresh green leaves of Spring, we chose a perfect spot for breakfast next to the stream that meanders through Branksome Chine. It was beautifully tranquil, very few other people around and the sound of birdsong supplying the soundtrack to the first meal of the day.

We sat on the balcony of the beach restaurant with a large coffee each, and surveyed the scene. Mile upon mile of golden sand, bathed in sunshine from a perfect cloudless blue sky, and dotted with a handful of other people out enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

A couple of hours later, having combed the sea shore for shells and other interesting flotsam and jetsam, we made our way back up through the Chine. Seeing nature in all its picture perfect beauty really is a chance to appreciate the wonders in life. No matter what else is going on, there are always moments in a day when you can just take it all in, and smile.

Sun, Sea And Sand

Dorset SunsetHaving worked till after 10:00pm last night priming the woodwork in the hallway and then getting up at the crack of dawn to undercoat the same, we were both ready for a couple of days R ‘n R down in sunny Dorset.

The fly in the ointment came when those intelligent people in the Government decided to tell people ‘not to panic’ over the predicted petrol tanker driver’s strike. Brilliant !!! If there’s one way to promote panic in the population, it’s to tell people not to panic.

Coming down the A36 we were on the lookout for a filling station that had either some petrol or didn’t have a queue of cars half a mile long waiting to fill up with what was left. It was clear that the advice had been completely ignored, and panic buying was the order of the day.

Judging by the news coming out of the ACAS meetings, the drivers are looking to enter into talks to stop the strike happening, so was the panic a planned move to deflect our attention from something else?

Whatever the reason, people in such lofty positions should use a bit more common sense with regard to such issues. Not only have they put the country into fuel induced pandemonium, but their crass handling of the situation has resulted in a woman being severely burned whilst decanting petrol in her kitchen. A serious lack of Wisdom, Courage and Compassion all round.

Double Vision

A CompromiseIt’s a pretty well known fact, that nothing in life that’s worth doing is very easy to achieve. So it is with B’s cottage. It’s the best part of 150 years old, was built before the invention of the right angle and restoration consumes more TLC than money, and that’s a lot.

Having braved the first winter with old, rotten and ill-fitting sash windows, it seems to be a good time to start looking for replica or refurbished units to take their place. Now I stand corrected if I’m wrong, but i don’t remember seeing any sash windows in new build properties lately. There’s a good reason for that, they are a nightmare to maintain.

Ideally, any replacements should combine the look of the traditional original windows with the thermal and sound insulation properties of modern UPVC units. You’d think it would be easy, but it’s not. Even though Mel came to see the property, spent hours measuring, discussing and trying to find the perfect compromise, I’m not sure that there is one.

Faith is a little like that, you know what you want, what you don’t want, what you can believe and what you can’t. Finding Nichiren Buddhism has been for me, after years of searching, the perfect blend of belief, practice and life-philosophy. I know everyone is different and that it’s a case of horses for courses, but any idea that can have life changing possibilities has to be worth passing on.

Stairway To Heaven

Stairway to HeavenYou know that feeling, when you have been struggling with a 5000 piece jigsaw of the Trooping of the Colour, and you finally slot in the very last piece? Well I didn’t have that feeling today, although another huge piece in this puzzle we laughingly call The Cottage, namely the stair carpet, went in today!

It had started rather badly. We were supposed to have four of the gripper rods screwed to two particularly tricky stairs (I won’t burden you with the details) before Clayton, the carpet fitter, arrived to fit the new carpet to the stairs and landing. But as are the universal laws governing such things, it took much longer than expected.

I could. at this point, discuss Blake’s Law of Task Management, which states that irrespective of the care or detail lavished on the estimation of the time to complete any given task or project, it will always take twice as many of the next units of time as that of the estimate, to complete. For example, something what might be expected to take a minute to finish, will in fact generally take around 2 hours, whereas a task expected to take 2 weeks will consume around 4 months. But I won’t.

Clayton would agree with Blake’s Law I think. It was pretty clear that he was considering himself to be in possession of a particularly short straw about half way into the fitting. He explained that is was taking longer than expected because of the physical characteristics of the particular carpet we had chosen, but I knew it was really the effect of Blake’s Law.

Of course, I am now writing this in hindsight, and the stair carpet has been beautifully laid hours ago. But just as the more mundane tasks in life take as long as they take, so our road to enlightenment takes as long as we need to reach that state. Refurbishment and enlightenment have a lot of similarities I find, although it appears that refurbishment is a lot harder on the hands.

Fun And Games

On the night shiftMonday, first proper day of the holiday and a task list as long as your arm. the problem was, most of the tasks required the purchase of this or that component before they could be completed. Both B and I have a serious allergy to shopping, so this could get messy.

We decided that we should make a master list, but as we all know, that is often easier said than done. We tried to break down the items into form or function and also into possible source store. It all looked logical, but it didn’t work out quite the way it was planned.

We spent the whole day going round the usual DIY suspects, and made a few of the required purchases, and several that weren’t. It was a lot of fun actually, and although we didn’t manage to find everything, we did come home with a very comfortable new toilet seat. The ultimate impulse buy.

I did get chance to talk to my mum, who sounded a lot better than yesterday, but was not back to normal by any means. She said that she had been drinking plenty, so hopefully she is on the mend.

Getting home around 5:00 and after a yummy diner and a few minor projects we got news that B’s dad was being taken into Frenchay hospital again, he was in there a couple of weeks ago, so the rest of the evening was spent waiting to be summonsed to go in so B could tell the staff about Ivor’s needs.

It was just after 2:00am when we finally got back home, a rather long day, and although Ivor is settled and sleeping, not the way we would have planned it.

A Proper Curate’s Egg

Kingfisher On The River FromeToday has been proper strange. It started fairly early with breakfast whilst watching the the start of the Grand Prix, Then off to the Co-op to pick up pastries for a second breakfast round at Hannah’s new house.

It’s a lovely property, big rooms, lots of space for the family to spread out. Nice and modern but in a traditional style, if you get my drift. Charlotte and Oliver came over too, so it was a nice family morning.

Back at the cottage, it was beautiful sunshine and a soft warm breeze. B hung the washing out while I set the ladders up against the end wall to investigate some loft insulation that was protruding from the barge boards. It seems that birds have been collecting it through a hole under the boards, so we placed a piece of wood over the hole, to try to deter them.

Having secure the ladders, and with half an hour until the roast lamb was due to come out of the oven, we went for a stroll down to the site of one of the old snuff mills, on the banks of the river Frome. The sunlight formed dappled pools of light through the spring foliage and the babbling river made a perfect soundtrack as we made our way along the riverbank.

We were busy watching a pair of yellow wagtails hunting amongst the rocks and boulders below the weir, when my eye was caught by an electric blue flash. It was a Kingfisher, elegant, sleek and arguably Britain’s most beautiful bird. We watched as it sped up and down it’s territorial stretch of the river, coming to rest on what appeared to be it’s regular perching points. It was so beautiful, in the setting of a perfect Spring day, that we lost track of time and had to hurry back to rescue the lamb from the oven.

Whether it was the walk, the fresh air, the excitement of seeing the Kingfisher or just possibly the glass of red wine that helped wash the Sunday roast down, I could not say. Suffice to say that another ‘recharging’ snooze ensued, so soon even the extra hour of daylight was also gone.

Just to complete the gamut of emotions, I found out tonight, that my mum has picked up this accursed norovirus and was feeling proper poorly. It’s really doing the rounds at the moment, but being in her early eighties, we are concerned that she is safe, doesn’t get dehydrated and can get help if she needs it. She will call tomorrow to let us have an update, and has an emergency pendant if she needs assistance in the night.

So as I said, a proper curate’s egg of a day, good in some parts, not so good in others.

No Rush

Lazy DayToday was the first day of our holiday, and we had such plans. Some guy from a well known double glazing company was due to arrive about 10:00 so we were planning to get up and eat breakfast in good time. In the event, he called to say that he had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. B thought it was sad and felt sorry for him, I was a little less than convinced.

Anyway, whether it was true, or whether he saw how beautiful the weather was and decided to head for the coast, was immaterial, we had nothing planned for the rest of the morning. So we went back to bed, and talked and talked and talked. Living apart gives us both space, but there is always so much to discuss when we are together.

We also slept, even though we had both slept well last night. I’ve spoken before about recharging the batteries, and today was just such a day. In the end, we got up about 4:00pm, a very lazy day. J & H popped in for a cup of tea and a chat, we did a bit of shopping and went over to see B’s mum, but that was about it.

We have a ton of things to do this week, DIY, paperwork, all sorts, but it couldn’t have been finished today or tomorrow, and taking some time to relax has put us in a good place to begin in earnest on Monday.

Super Sunny Smiles

Sunny DayWhat a beautiful day!!! I know we have a water shortage here in Dorset, as do many areas of the UK, but it’s difficult to wish for rain on such a glorious summer-like day. The sun is streaming down, warming the shoots of Spring and putting a smile on everyone’s face.

Just to make things even better, our company results were released today, showing we have turned a decent profit, even in these austere times, and it’s my last day at work for a whole week. Marvellous!!!

Sunshine, good news and holidays are great at raising your life-state. It’s very difficult to be in hell-state when the world looks so warm and inviting. In a similar way, when we are chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, we feel the warmth of our faith and that also gives the world around us a sunny disposition.

On this wonderful sunny day it’s impossible to feel depressed, and my practice simply serves to make a good day even better.

The Read To Enlightenment (pun intended)

The Buddha, Geoff and MeAnyone who follows my blog will be sick and tired of hearing about The Buddha, Geoff and Me, but I make no excuses for mentioning it yet again. I listen to it, in audiobook form, all the time at home, on my smartphone and in the car and suggest people read or listen to it if they show an interest in Nichiren Buddhism.

It’s an amazing, invigorating and enlightening story about a young man’s relationship and growing friendship with a Buddhist, Geoff, who attempts to teach him the basics of the religion and covers many aspects of the philosophy and practice. For anyone, interested in Nichiren Buddhism, its teachings and practices, this book covers the basics in a most readable form.

If you find the story as enthralling and the lessons as invaluable as I did, this book will transform your thinking, help you to control your mood (life states) and lead you towards a more meaningful life. Give it a try, and chant your way towards enlightenment, it’s a wonderful and life changing experience.

Buy the book here or listen to it in podcast form here.

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