Distant signals

IMG_0013It’s that time of year again when the distant hills are clouded in a bluey, purpley haze from the fires where they are burning off the old heather to encourage new. It amazes me that they are in this day and age allowed to still do it as not only must it be pretty polluting but also that the health of everyone down wind must be affected in some way, but hey what do I know. Makes for some pretty spectacular scenery though aye. Also whilst out it was the real first signs of spring as the temps were up slightly and I almost felt it was time to strip down one layer from full on winter mode. However a day on it had returned to the rather more normal bitter North Easterlies but the upside is that there has been a prolonged stint of sunny weather so all good then.

I have been giving the future some thought again and trying to get myself into a mindset of where this wagon is rolling to. I am going to have a six week period of solitude and I am trying to come up with a bit of a plan of where I am heading and how to get there. In the past I would have either blindly headed off down the rabbit hole or dithering around to the point of missing the metaphorical boat, never doing things by half measures. I now have a window of opportunity to study and formulate and want to take or try and take more measured and thoughtful steps back out into the world.

One of the main things about making these important life decisions is that on the whole ‘you’ are the only one that can make that choice and ultimately you may not know the implications and outward ripples until after the event. However as I was once told it to me seem a case of “you either run to meet your destiny or your fate WILL catch up with you” and ending on that note I am off to roll the dice ūüôā



I was going to title this post need not want as I have been pondering lifes’ complex situations of how and whether I need more Lightening cables for my new phone. Like all things Apple when you upgrade you then need to get a whole new set of things to replace the old and after years of collecting the old standard cables and having one just about in every location that I either am in or visit I now find myself having to remember a) where “the” cable is or b) have I charged up said phone so that it is ready to use primarily for logging my walks. Yes these are first world problems I know and I could easily learn to adapt to having the solitary cable but then I am lazy and don’t want to have to think about these things so the inclination is to buy more!

Getting up this morning having and whilst listening to another Minimalist podcast I got to thinking what is the best way to approach this just before I was about to press the buy button on eBay multi-pack. In the past I wouldn’t have given it a second thought and would now be happily waiting for the postman to deliver a package of happiness to my door, but on reflection this morning I did think stop, wait.. whoa.. hold on, there may be a better way of doing this and then it came to me. As a family member had failed to get me a Christmas present I thought how useful a belated gift of cables would be allowing me to pander to my idleness and not to have to spend any money. I could look at the reasons for getting them again but at this point I do feel that they add value rather than taking away from it. Now I just need to wait for family member¬†to sort this out for me.

Best foot forward

IMG_0003It took getting a new phone to be able to get back to tracking my step count as for some reason the old phone had decided that it had had enough of tracking my efforts and was going to half heartedly record the daily tramp. But the most important factor to all this was the fact that it was letting me down in my quest to crush my older brothers challenge of who could walk the most steps in a year. Now when it comes to such things there has always been a sibling rivalry between us which was quite vociferous in younger years and now spurred on be the fact that we have a little wager on the outcome. Childish it maybe but I was reverting to waving the phone around in order to rack up the steps that I had already completed although I could never manage to equal the actual totals due to boredom and a certain amount of RSI setting in.

What interests me about yesterdays little amble was the fact that it classes it as a run. Now at no point was I running or having intention of running. I am not sure there would ever be a day when I would contemplate carrying out such an activity as I feel that I would not only be damaging my body in my advancing years but could think of a number of far more interesting methods of reaching the same levels of exertion without the pain of the act of running. Walking is the panacea in my humble opinion and as noted elsewhere on my blog  I am a proponent of the ultimate form of exercise and have been saying to anyone who will listen that it is the best form of exercise for us humans but I digress.

As I am somewhat of the tin helmet brigade in that I don’t like to have my phone on me at all times due to the radiation level transmitted from it I don’t get a complete picture of daily activity but then I am not so bothered about the minutiae but more of the bigger picture. According to my Runkeeper I have done¬†1,780 miles since starting to use it which in someways seems an awful lot but in others not enough. Anyway lets see how this pans out.

Need and necessity

Yes I know that new shiny is not the done thing in trying to live a minimalistic way of life but needs must when the devil rides or so the saying goes and I have now replaced an ageing 2009 phone with a newer model. I have been struggling along using my old phone for as long as I could thinking that at some point on my return to civilisation I would get a newer and shinier one. I have reached a point that I realise that I don’t need the newest gadgets to make life happier. And with this thought leading me to realise that what I had was perfectly adequate for my needs and it would carry on performing its daily duties until the new kid on the block took over. But having never wanted to get ugly cases to protect my phones and since owning the original iPhone not having had any mishaps, I went through a period of dropping it and have managed to crack or damage every surface on it. This seems to have effected it in others ways and it was the failure of the power button that made life rather difficult. I had planned to hang on to the bitter end until a friend of mine offered his ¬†‘old’ phone at a reasonable price. I thought about if for a bit as even at a reasonable price it was money going out and would it provide any value to life?

Well I have found that there are some benefits to my new phone and something that I hadn’t realised I needed. The finger print gadget has proved the one biggest revelations. I have no desire to use ApplePay but I really like the fact I can access my 1Password app without having to enter in my 32 character password now. As for the rest of it I can’t really see the benefits. Gone are the days where I used to pore over articles, blog posts, reviews and youtube to see what the latest and greatest had to offer. Now I see it as a tool rather than a necessity and apart from the activity tracking and podcasts I could easily live without it, not something I ever thought I would think or even less act on and there are always alternatives.

So lets see how long I keep this one.

Daily thought

Things have been quiet around here for some days and little steps been taken to declutter. I have some things to eBay that will bring in a it of cash and then there is the on-going penny jar emptying of which I will have to try and get to the bank maybe next week. The tribulations of banking with very few high street branches. I really need to get on with eBaying as have a stack of stuff to liquidate and it’s only apathy and the anx of getting stuff off to post office and not doing ones self down on postage.

The nights are getting shorter but still huddled in front of the fire of an evening. I wouldn’t class myself as green fingered but I think I was in the position of have a smallish space I wouldn’t mind having a bit of a garden space and watching Monty Don last night made one think a bit more about it. Maybe start off with some lettuce in pots or maybe some Gooseberries as I love the jam they make. At the moment the problem is sunlight as I am surrounded by buildings. I have thought about some guerrilla gardening but strictly hush hush.

Look up

Seen elsewhere and previously on the interweb today but a timely reminder of how much time can be sucked out of the day and us by that device we carry around with us everyday. I am just as guilty of doing this myself and will attempt to look up more often.

Roy’s legacy

IMG_5080Whilst out on my daily walk I occasionally pass by my local triangulation point. Its one of those things that one takes for granted and has faded out of the consciousness like the maps that sprang forth from the work carried out by the early explorers and map makes. Maps are something I have had a long term love of and built up quite a collection of the wonderful Ordnance Survey Maps of places that I had no real idea where they were and just as much chance of visiting as a youngster but learning about the topology and placement of populous of the country in strange snapshots. It seemed a completely alien world in that either it was a urban compression with little outlines crammed into each little square or a rural landscape that I could more understand yet had many subtle and unsubtle differences like woods, larger rivers and intriguing place names. I dreamt of growing up and somehow acquiring a house that I would completely decorate in my maps whilst at the time seemed like a completely logical now would send me crazy not just for the unrelenting brightness but more likely that my life would grind to a halt as I investigated such wondrous place names like Curry Rivel, Beer Crocombe, Shittington and Wetwang!

It is amazing that the use of paper maps has on the whole disappeared from general landscape as we have all falling in love with electronic map apps and GPS to guide us to that distant location, but I still carry a road map not just for the inevitable technological failure that I will have to experience but also when stopping off at far flung places I like to vicariously check out the locale and will never pass by and old OS map without checking it out and pondering if I might need to add it to the collection. I do think that this is one of my weakness but it does give me value and happiness.

So next time your out and about chances are you are not that far from a triangulation point and may you could go an take a look at it. I am sure there is some one in this fair Isle that must have visited each one in the same vein and ‘doing the wainwrights‘ or Monroes. I don’t think I would every go that far but I might get (if I had all of them) out and virtually visit them. On this cold Winters night tucked up in front of the fire I will raise my glass to¬†William Roy and the Ordinance Survey

Cob house

wpcobhouse20160214¬†One of my dreams is to build my own cob house and only came to know about these wonderful economical and eco-friendly homes relatively recently. There are many different variations of the vernacular across the country and I was surprised to find that they were not restricted to the west country where the bulk of cob building remains. In my brief research over the last year some of the fascinating things I picked up along the way were the finding of the geological map and then through a program on canals the story of the man behind the map. Also from this online map the locations of bore holes and the documentation of these going back into the 1930’s fascinating stuff as one can see the composition of a certain local area more exciting information.

As part of the bigger plan it has become a bit of an obsession to build my own house. Now I am in no way oblivious to the pitfalls of this and also the effort needed to take it from idea to finished home. I certainly don’t have rose tinted specs and living in la la land is not my idea of fun. I wouldn’t put myself down as one of the¬†tree hugging brigade and no offence to them but I am certainly seeing a new perspective from the received practices and wisdoms of our elders and the banking institutions; there is no such thing as good debt. The idea of owning a huge home and more importantly the huge mortgage is now so alien that I would do anything to avoid it. The main stumbling block to all these high falooting plans is getting land and a¬†plot that one can build on suitably once the local building codes and regulations have been observed and adhered to. I do realise and agree with the fact that there needs to be a kind of order or the country(side) we love will¬†be concreted over. I do wish that there was some more vision from the powers that be to assist the home builder in their dreams, rather than weakly or lazily giving into the corporate property companies. If one was somewhat cynical then it could be construed as control but as I am not a conspiracy theorist I think it is just the lack of vision.

When I first started out looking at the tiny living movement I looked towards the west and US and Canada for inspiration as to me the bulk of the information was coming from there. What triggered the journey of self discovery was randomly seeing a tweet one day on¬†Tiny House Talk got me trawling the internet for all things tiny living. Having grown up in a pretty large family home and then subsequently lived in more than amply proportioned houses/flats others have asked why oh why do I want to go an live in a cardboard box? My answer is why wouldn’t I? Then listing off the cost and finance of large home living etc even down to not having to buy toilet paper for (n) bathrooms. I really like what is going on over there and think that the more grass roots level projects that get going the better. To just have that SPACE is, in the true meaning of the word, awesome. Having visited Canada last year and seen from a Europeans eyes the scale of it and the space it just blew my mind and on my return realised that space does have an effect on psyche and I definitely want to return one day to explore more. For some time I did wonder if I would ever be able to follow the dream over here thinking that it would be too difficult in the current “climate” but¬†to my amazement I found a small tiny house community developing. You can’t keep a good idea and people down!

So how does this tie in with the Cob house? Well I am suspecting that although it would be a lot cheaper to build a TinyHome in the long run the need for a nomadic lifestyle would wain on me, this said out of someone with no experience of TinyHomeLiving (if you are not already listening to Tiny House Chat, you should be. However the alternative dream of own and building my own Cob home is going to be a much bigger and way more costly project. Like everything else I have done before I will research loads more until I can come up with a balanced justification for either project. But building ones own house with ones own hands to ones own plans has got to be a pretty amazing goal to achieve. What would you do?

Todo roundup

I started out with great intentions that I would record and document all my actions for three weeks starting in January with three different methods. Unfortunately¬†towards the end of the run I got bored and confused as the final task manager (Omnifocus) was just starting to get too much and I was drowning in a sea of uncompleted tasks. Now I know there will be people out there that could tell me exactly how to manage my time with this app but I came to the realisation relatively early into the weeks testing that I wasn’t going to get on with it fully. I spent time learning how to use it on the internet and thought I had picked up enough to understand how best I was going to manage but I was wrong, partly due to wanting to use it in an overly simplified manner. I am sure OmniF is a great app for people with many projects on the go but it swamped me with information that I either didn’t need to know or didn’t want to know. I put this down to the screw loose between the chair and the keyboard! and I may return to it at a later date. But in trying out this app it made me see what I was really looking for. Mostly I used to get by with a hoch potch of stickies, back of envelopes, mini whiteboards or maybe a diary if I was given one at work. This did not make for a particularly organised life but non the less added a bit of structure that would have in all honesty descended into chaos if I had not. Funny how you go through life avoiding and rebelling against parental advice for it to only mark your life later to the point you wake up one day and think “Oh, they might of been kind of right”. Well you wouldn’t want to admit this openly to them or anyone else in earshot, would you? Well it was my fathers tidiness and orderliness, from a career in the merchant navy that came back to bite me and here I am now putting things back in there rightful places and starting to use task manager software.

Going back to the test it was interesting to find that what I thought would be the pinnacle of task management turn out not to be and in fact even the simplest method of pen on paper turned out to be more productive to me. In the long run though it was not a particularly manageable form unless I started writing down days worth. Moving on to the Notes app on my iPhone I felt that this was a very good way of concentrating ones effort but again only for that current day. As the time went by both with paper and Notes app I was having to constantly redraw the daily schedule. Given that I don’t have a super busy schedule this wasn’t so much of a problem. However, I can imagine if I was to find myself in a tsunami of task management things would become a bit sticky.

At the end of the test I was left thinking that none of the systems really fitted my desired mode of operation but settling on the Notes app as it worked faultlessly on everything and could also use it as a semi photo diary too. Moving on a week or so I was thinning out the apps on my phone as part of decluttering, downsizing and only having the things on that were used in the last 90 days, I came across an app called Things. BINGO! It was exactly what I was looking for and I must of brought it when I was at the height of app buying sprees. It completely fitted my use and have been using it ever since. There is a desktop app too but I have restrained myself as partly it is ¬£40 and also I don’t need to be able to sit at my computer and manage the day as it can be done just as well from the phone.

It is said something along the lines of its better to travel in hope than arrive and in this post I would certainly agree. Now that I have found a system that I can work with lets see how much more productive I can become.

Finding the passion

This is something I have ¬†been mulling over for the last few weeks as it is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I am sure that there are many who are doing what they love, many who are doing what makes them happy and many who are just keeping their heads down in order to keep the plates spinning. But the big question and something that I have never really considered as have spent a life doing something that pays for a life; living to work rather than working to live. Not many are given an opportunity to pause and reflect, to consider their position in life and make change if found to be needed. But I am in that lucky position with some time to ponder but it doesn’t make it any easier. How do you wake up one morning find your life bearing, map it out before lunch and start acting it out the following day, no me neither.

When ‘one’ has been on a path, track, road, goals what ever you want to call it it can quite often blind you to the possibilities that you may have thought were open to you in earlier years. Something I thought about many years ago was being an engineer purely has I use to take things to bits to see how they worked. Admittedly they would rarely go back together again to its once working form, but in that process I told myself I wanted to be an engineer. Thankfully I never got any further with it as I wasn’t dedicated enough and also I was hopeless at maths or at least the type of maths that were needed. This got me thinking though. What could I do? and possibly more importantly what would I do.

Part of setting up this blog was to answer this very question and then to see where it took me. What I hadn’t banked on happening was that it would take so long. I suppose in the scheme of things a few weeks or even a few months would take a huge chunk of time out of the universe. It is a task I need to apply myself to though as I have a nasty habit of procrastinating and downright avoiding these types of decisions. That is all about to change with my new “Self Improvement Plan 2.0”

One of the fundamental requirements to life though is having money. Not all things cost money but often they take money to achieve. This has to be factored into ones thinking, i.e. if re-training is needed or some different professional qualifications are needed or maybe a spell back at college.

For me it is about building back up some funds that will then allow me to make some/more decision once I have a fallback position which is partly guiding my plans and choices at the moment. I have many side projects that I have anticipated over the years but whether they would lead to a meaningful life who knows. I suppose that the only way to find out is to give it a try.

and on that note I will leave you with an image of what seems like spring coming from a longish walk I did the other day where I spent time mulling over options whilst pounding the miles.