Weekend Stories

Here we go again.

Somehow it’s half past midnight again. Somehow I’m sitting in the dark of the junk room on my own again. Somehow I can’t think of anything to write again, but something’s making me do this – making my fingers work on the keyboard – making words happen.

Do I really need a subject? A story to tell? Perhaps I do have one though.

I went out today.

I took my daughter to a nearby town and we spent the day together. I promised to take her a few days ago. A trip to the second-hand video game store to pick up a Nintendo DS. She had the idea to help her combat anxiety. Something to absorb herself in when the world becomes too big and frightening for her.

After completing our various shopping errands we grabbed lunch at a pub, and she reminisced about being 9 years old again – making Mario jump, run, and shout as he punched coins and leapt between platforms.

I bought holiday clothes. We’re not going away until September, but if I wait the stores will be full of winter clothes, and I’ll be walking on the beach in walking boots and a thick coat.

We’re going to Tenerife. I don’t think I mentioned that before. It’s the last big holiday where we’re taking the girls with us and paying for everything. They’re growing up now – getting jobs – finding their own way – and won’t want to be tagging along with us for very much longer. So yeah – Tenerife in the Canary Islands for a week.

When we got home from town my middle daughter had received a parcel in the post. She’s been putting money away ever since starting work about a year ago, but never had any thoughts about spending any of it.

She bought a Nintendo Switch.

Of course now she’s lording it over her sisters – talking about the games she can play that they cannot. I don’t think they actually care that much, but she likes to think they might.

It was lovely to see her unwrapping it in the lounge – having bought it with money she earned. I remember similar moments when I started work, but still lived with my parents – suddenly having money to buy things that would previously have been impossible. It took me a LONG time to get used to having money in the bank. Several years.

We’re telling her to enjoy the money she earns before she has too many responsibilities.

On about respobsibilities, I need to lose some weight before we go on holiday. Get fit. That will start with running in the coming days. I have three months to get back into some sort of shape. I need to anyway – for my own piece of mind. Since working from home through the pandemic I’ve not looked after myself at all. I used to cycle to work every day – several miles in each direction. I used to run several times a week too. I’ve not done any of that for at least a year.

I wonder how unfit I really am? I wonder how long it will take me to get back to a state I’m happy with? We’ll see. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s stubbornly plodding on with the thing I know I should be doing.


It’s getting late. I should go sleep. We’re going for a walk tomorrow – to Hughenden Manor, I think. Or the valley around it. There’s an obelisk – it looks like a Victorian nuclear missile launch site. We’ve been before.

It will be good to get some fresh air.


The Journey Home

We left my parents house in Cornwall mid-morning. The final hour was a huge game of backwards Jenga, where our belongings (and various acquisitions) were re-assembled into the car.

Seven hours later (after a wander into a nearby fishing village, and a rest-stop mid-afternoon, we arrived home. Our car doesn’t seem particularly happy with us – dropping in power somewhat spectacularly during the final 20 kilometres, but it did well for the previous 360.

This evening has been all about unpacking things, setting fire to the washing machine, and wrestling the house back towards normality.

During the journey home I pulled the trigger on a new laptop for myself. A Chromebook from Amazon. It arrives tomorrow. If you’re wondering why, you might not know that I’ve been soldiering on with a rather decrepit, ancient laptop that was once bought for one of my children. It dies within minutes when not connected to a power source, and isn’t worth repairing because cost would outweigh it’s worth.

This evening I also resurrected my account at Medium. While away I reminded myself how much I enjoy writing. Sure, I might not always have a lot to say, but Medium will give me a platform for the longer-form idiocy that I wouldn’t dare post to this journal. I hope that makes at least a little sense.

The task now – or rather once I return to work next week – will be fitting all of this into a chaotic, busy life. I guess we’ll see how that goes.


Final Day at the Coast

After booking a restaurant table last night, we visited Fowey today (pronounced “Foy”) – across the estuary from the small village we visited so often in my youth. We caught the local ferry, and somewhat remarkably found a parking space in the local car-park.

The route into Fowey takes you through winding back-streets – mostly built a century or more before modern motorcars were dreamed of. Watching occasional cars or delivery vehicles navigating through the town is therefore pretty entertaining – with those on foot scattering into doorways along the route.

Most of my memories of Fowey are from 40 years ago now – from childhood visits. Today I made my way through the town, and climbed a hill to the location of an emporium that used to fill us with wonder when young. While the tiled floor remained, the shop had become a gallery, and was closed. In the middle of the town I spotted the 1930s art deco tiled steps of “W H Smiths” – long since replaced by a succession of cafes and clothes shops.

While walking towards the town I was passed by a flustered looking large lady in a very bright dress, who complained to her husband – “come on – let’s go home – they are arriving like rats from all directions”. I smiled.

Lunch was booked at a small restaurant called “Sams” – a bizarre slice of Americana in the middle of a coastal fishing village. It has been chosen by our daughters in one of the endless debates where if they don’t get their way, they ruin everybody else’s life. The restaurant was lovely – but it would have been nice to sit out on the waterfront in Fowey instead of a dark corner of a diner below a poster of Mohammed Ali.

This afternoon I stayed behind while the children went for a final dip in the sea. They returned a few minutes ago. Given that we all ate enough for several days at lunchtime, we’ll be skipping dinner this evening.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it might be time for a coffee. Or a glass of wine. Or maybe one, then the other. Apparently there are plans to visit the penny arcade in Looe later this evening – a last hoorah of sorts (or rather, an opportunity to exchange quite a quantity of money for some unbelievable tat in response for tipping two pence pieces over a series of steps).


Rainy Days and Aquariums

The weather has taken a turn for the worst over the last few days – so we’ve been rattling around my parents house. This afternoon we’re escaping for a few hours to visit the national aquarium in Plymouth. Our younger children visited when they were young – we doubt they will remember much about it. My main memory is of the main tank and coral reef, where sharks and turtles swim above a glass tunnel.

(several hours pass while we corral the children, and set off towards Plymouth in search of said aquarium)

After an hour journey to Plymouth, two laps of a multi-storey car park, and our middle daughter managing to fall down some steps (we re-framed the story as her picking a fight with a car park to make her laugh), we arrived at the National Aquarium, and saw a complete reversal of character in our children. While our middle daughter went into a huge downer about the stairway incident, our eldest – she of multiple anxiety adventures – was living her best life while looking at fish, crabs, sharks, octopi, and whatever else.

It was a very, very good afternoon.

I had hoped to perhaps buy a book about oceanic research, or marine ecology in the shop at the aquarium, but my hopes were dashed. If you were looking for your name on a fake gold necklace, a novelty mug, or a cuddly toy of a shark, you were in luck.

Before heading back we wandered along the waterfront at Plymouth and explored the fortified defences, and the various “historic” locations at the Barbican. In the heart of the harbour there is a set of steps with numerous inscriptions in the pavement detailing the departure of the pilgrim fathers in the 1600s bound for the Americas. As with any “historic” location in England, as soon as you start reading, the story tends to fall to pieces. Nobody is really sure where the original steps were, let alone the layout of the harbour in the early 1600s.

The story reminds me of William Shakespeare’s house in Stratford – which has absolutely no connection with him. Nobody knows where he lived, what the house looked like, or even really if he lived in Stratford. The house they built is in a faked style “of the era” on a plot of land that was available. Tourists like a nice story.

Anyway. We’re heading towards our last day in Cornwall before heading home on Wednesday. The kids have just set out along the lane near my parents house with bowls in hand – in search of blackberries in the nearby bushes. I imagine blackberry and apple crumble might be on the menu tomorrow night.


A Day on the Beach

After a slow day rattling around my parents house, we escaped to the beach yesterday. A day of sun, sea, sand, and ice creams. We guessed that Saturday may be “change-over” day for many families visiting the coast, so might be the best day to visit the beach – and suspect we were proven right. Not only did we find a parking space in a nearby car-park – we also found space on the beach without difficulty to set-up camp for the day.

No sooner had we arrived, I found myself in the sea with my youngest daughter. I’m convinced she has Frost Giant blood in her veins – while she immediately made her way into the surf, I took a few minutes. While larking around we looked up and down the beach, and realised we were among only a handful of people in the water – a select group of cheerful idiots.

The rest of the day was spent eating ice creams, reading books, and people watching on the beach. I find people endlessly fascinating – especially in places where all manner of different backgrounds are brought together. While quietly sitting on the beach a young lad a few yards away stood up, pointing at a seagull attempting to steal food, and shouted (very politely) “Excuse me Mr Seagull – can you GO AWAY!” – it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.


Walking the Coast Path

After a slow start yesterday morning we set off to walk the coast path towards a nearby fishing village together – with the promise of lunch in a pub dangling like a carrot ahead of us.

Along the way we were treated to several pairs of Peregrine Falcons sweeping along the cliff edges at speed – screeching and stooping over the rugged rocks and scrub below.

Throughout the day I was surprised by the resilience of our younger children, and the emergence of our eldest. She suffers from anxiety and had a massive wobble the day before we came away. She had a very, very good day.

Even when rain began to fall during lunch, the children’s spirits weren’t dampened.

After retracing our steps on weary legs late in the afternoon we eventually arrived home, skipped dinner, and collapsed into sofas and beds around the house.

I think today may be a quiet day. Of course if past history is anything to go by, we’ll find ourselves setting out on an adventure by mid-afternoon.


The Journey to the Coast

I started writing this post yesterday, while packing bags ready to travel – and then realised I had nothing to write about that hadn’t happened the day before. That has happened a lot since I started working from home. Today was more interesting – I promise.

After scraping myself out of bed at about 8am, jumping in the shower, and downing a coffee, I ran around the house like a headless chicken – picking up the last few bits and pieces strewn around the house so the lady looking after our cats might not think TOO badly of us in our absence.

By ten in the morning the bags were in the roof box on top of the car, we had asked the kids repeatedly if they had packed wash kit, phone chargers, and whatever else, and we set off. It turns out we should have asked our youngest if she had packed both of her shoes, but we didn’t find that one out until six hours and two hundred and fifty miles later.

The journey to the coast was almost pleasant – or at least as pleasant as spending several hours confined to a car with your family can be. After running out of half-decent radio stations we played eye–spy, stopped for something to eat, and then finally knuckled down to the last two hours into the back of beyond.

My parents live quite some way from anywhere. Which is lovely. And a bit of a nightmare sometimes.

After arriving, making a very English cup of tea, and unpacking most of our bags, we walked off in search of the ocean. The path to the sea falls downhill for about a mile from my parents home – past farms, remote holiday cottages, and endless fields filled with sheep and bordered by bramble bushes.

After perhaps half an hour walking and after drinking a cider from the beach cafe, we stood ankle deep in the ocean for the first time in quite some time. We appeared to have timed it just about right – missing the hordes that would have inhabited the beach earlier in the day.

A little later we began the climb back up the hill, and I accompanied my Dad to the local fish and chip shop – which would normally be fine – except my other half is vegetarian, and two of the kids are gluten free – which immediately removed 95% of the menu for them. I ended up ordering a random assortment of cheesy chips, beans, mushy peas, and a veggie burger. The burger turned out to be a fishcake.

After dinner, the children retreated to their rooms, and fell fast asleep – it’s funny how the sea air does that. I suppose tomorrow might be a somewhat slow start – after which we’ll buy groceries, and start making plans to fill the days ahead.

Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us.


Preparing to Travel

The day began with a shower, a shave, washing up, tidying up, and a valiant attempt to pick a few things up in the living room. I’m not quite sure why I bothered, because the kitchen, lounge, and hallway in our house always looks like either an earthquake just happened, or our house was searched by gangsters while we were out. Suffice to say, it now looks the same as it did before I started.

After a shower, a shave, and a coffee, I set off to a nearby town with my eldest and youngest daughter in search of holiday clothes. This entailed standing in a department store for quite some time. I joined their wifi network while a security guard started to take notice of me, and grinned at idiotic videos on reddit to pass the time.

After leaving the department store we went off in search of something to eat. Given that my eldest daughter is coeliac (gluten free), our options are always tremendously limited while eating out – we looked at several menus outside cafes and eventually gave up – buying food from the food hall of a department store, and walking back through town to find a park to sit in.

This evening has been altogether quieter – apart from climbing into the loft to find luggage cases ready to travel. Our eldest daughter still isn’t sure she’s coming with us. Anxiety seems to be getting the better of her at the moment. She has flashes of bravery, but they are fleeting.

I’m looking forward to going away, but not looking forward to the journey. Five or six hours in the car is never fun. The last time I visited – back in the spring when my Dad was ill – I took the train and was there inside four hours. Unfortunately while the train is cheaper for one person travelling, when you multiply it by five it becomes unaffordably expensive.


One more day here, then we head off for a week. Possibly one down in numbers. We’ll see. A week of beaches, rockpools, sunshine, walks, street food, wine, seaweed, sand, and sunburn. And a few tattered paperback books, if I remember to pack them.

Talking of packing, I should start putting clothes to one side, ready to go in the case.



Two weeks to think about as little as possible.

Most people would be pouring a drink out this evening. I’m on my third (or fourth) pint of water today. I’ve lost count. I drank two cans of cider after work last night, and have paid for it all day with a banging headache. I’m rubbish at drinking these days – so much so that I’ve been wondering about stopping entirely.

I know a few people that have given up alcohol entirely, and admire their decision tremendously. While I’ll probably “never say never”, the old saying “just the one” will probably become my mantra. In truth, I hate the wasted half-a-day that having one more drink brings about – I would rather have been doing something interesting, no matter how useless that thing might have been.


I’m planning on doing as little as possible this weekend. A proper rest. Don’t be surprised if you start to see blog posts every day during my time off work.

In other news, I’ve been tinkering with note-taking apps over the past week – looking at Notion once again, Obsidian, and my old bullet journal. While the bullet journal appeals to my eccentric side, it doesn’t fit well with work because it’s not searchable. Obsidian may well win that battle. Outside work though? I wonder if I really need anything at all. Google Drive has become an unlikely trusted store for anything and everything worth keeping. Notion just becomes an enormous tinkerers rabbit hole, where you spend all day re-arranging your cheese.

Maybe I should just keep going with the paper bullet journal. It doesn’t require batteries, and if not for it I would probably have forgotten how to write by now.