Well, I’m writing this on “holiday” at home (the picture above, is a poster I’ve recently bought and put up in my living room).
Who, would have thought that I’d be writing this, my 500th blog entry in the middle of lockdown.
It’s actually 500 since I moved to the wordpress platform. Before that they were simple html pages, overwritten every 2 weeks so I’m pretty sure it’s is over 1000 since I was given the domain name as a gift in 2001.
Well, the main disappointments this year, have been:
- Travel – booked trips to Riga, Bratislava, Tunisia, Majorca, Greece cancelled. I’ve also had 4 UK trips cancelled, and that doesn’t include the ill fated 36hr trip to Sri Lanka.
- Interaction – not being able to go to the pub whenever I want, unable to spend time with my friends and I miss simple things like walking around an outdoor shop for an hour.
But on the positive side:
- I’m in a fab relationship with someone I really love and we’ve grown closer over the lockdown.
- I’ve got a secure job and regular income for the forceable future (well, as secure as any job can be in a climate like this).
- My home is secure, warm and comfortable and my cupboards and freezer are filled with nice food and wine.
- With access to all kinds of entertainment like an xbox, the internet, loads of my favourite books, lots of fun tv and films to watch I’m unlikely to be bored.
I’ve also been thinking, what positive things have happened this year because of Covid 19 ?
- Completely updated all my trips on johnsunter.com that took over 200 hours of work (but I had lots of free evening).
- Explored various places on foot and by bicycle and seen just how much beautiful countryside is half a mile from my front door.
- bought a new tent and experimented with cycle camping (the next big thing for me, it allows me to cover a lot more ground a see a lot more on a trip)
- Completely updated both of my bathrooms (why not, I had plenty of money, the pubs were closed for 101 days 🙂
- I’ve read more books in the last 6 months than in the previous 5 year.
- On Wednesday evening, we’d have a pizza delivered and open a bottle of wine. The simple pleasure of making time to spend together.
But sometimes it’s even more important to have perspective.
I’ve always loved shopping at Rohan, they make the best travel/outdoor gear available (in my opinion obviously).
But the best isn’t always cheap. There was a time for a few years when I just couldn’t afford to shop there.
So the other day, when I popped in treat myself (Mistral Jacket if you’re interested) I was talking to the staff there (who I’ve come to know quite well over the years and appreciate they’re honest opinions).
I commented that I’d had several trips cancelled and I was feeling a bit down.
They mentioned that someone who normally serves me who’s originaly from Poland, had received word the night before, that her father had died.
Lockdown in the UK was about to start, so if she went home to her fathers funeral she’d be stuck there for a month and wouldn’t be able to come home.
Obviously her employer were prepared to be flexible, but she had 2 children as well to make it even more complicated.
It’s story’s like that which make you you grateful for what you have. In comparison, my temporary lack of adventure holidays didn’t seem so bad.
A friend of mine approached me recently and asked for my help. Her boyfriend had turned 40 and was feeling quite melancholy.
My suggestion was simple. Get him to write down 5 things he really wants to do (that are practical and achievable, but for some reason he hasn’t got around to doing). When he feels miserably or misdirected, look at the list, go through it and work out what 1 thing he can do right now to further each of those 5 goals.
My friend was very grateful…
She shouldn’t have been !. I’m a shameless thief when it comes to using other peoples good ideas (ideas I’ve collected over the years). My suggestion was based on 2 ideas I’d got from other people.
So just for fun, I thought I’d catalogue where the idea’s came from.
Over 30 years ago, I was talking to my friend Yvonne while sat in her bedroom (we all seemed to socialise in our bedrooms back then, we didn’t own houses 🙂
I saw a hand written list of activities fastened to the back of her bedroom door. I remember her distinctly saying that’s a list of things I’m going to do this year.
I commented that there were quite a few things I wanted to do that year. She said simply, they’re a lot more likely to happen if you write them down.
Hardly worth mentioning that a week later, after I returned home, my mum asked why there was a list of activities fastened to the back of my bedroom door…
Paul Henderson – IBM.
25 years ago, one of the proudest moments of my career, was to work for IBM (partly, because my mum and all her friends had heard of it, and they were really impressed).
I learned loads of technical things while working there, but one very important thing was documentation. Everything was articulated and written down in a log, so if you cleverly fixed something for a customer and got hit by a bus on the way home, one of your colleagues would be 99% percent towards fixing it and wouldn’t have to “re-learn” all over again.
One of the most important things I learned though, was the bottom of the log always had a next action. It was drilled in to me, that if I didn’t have a next action, I wasn’t actually in control.
Another really useful trick I learned from a book called the Pocket Life Coach.
It suggests writing a PUW or Putting Up With list.
The idea goes basically like this. If I need car insurance I buy it. If My waterproof jacket gets a hole in it, it’s replaced or repaired.
But, what if there’s a dripping tap, what if the brakes on my bike work, but squeak a bit, what if there’s a pile of books I know I should read, but just haven’t started yet.
Thing is, it’s these small things that ebb away at your happiness. So, draw up a PUW list and get to work on it now. Others will appear to replace the most important 5 right now, but I’ve found I sleep better and feel a lot more content, when I know these small things are in play and there’s a plan to fix them.
I’ve included the picture above, as it symbolises something I’m putting up with at the moment.
When I first moved to Chester, I lived in a place called Saltney.
It was right next to the border between England and Wales, and I was fascinated by a road called Boundary Lane.
The only suburban road of it’s kind in the UK, the houses on 1 side are in Wales and the Houses on the other are in England.
There’s a nice pub there, called the Anchor (It’s on the Welsh side).
I read in the press, that the Landlord was concerned he was losing customers to “England” as his pub had been forced to close as part of a Welsh “firebreak” lockdown, at a time when English pub’s were open for business.
The Welsh lockdown finished on the 9th of November, however the English lockdown began on the 2nd. So I imagine the residents from both sides of the street are now off for a pint in the Anchor.
All’s well that ends well, but if there’s a better illustration of how badly Covid is being handled in the UK, I’d love to hear it
Two years ago, I cancelled my TV license. You can do this, if you:
a, Don’t watch any TV programs in real time, who ever makes them
b, Don’t watch programs made by the BBC.
Seemed daft to spend money I didn’t need to. I watch mostly Netflix and Amazon and the odd thing I watched on BBC, I watched at Nikki’s house, which is completely legal.
I’ve changed my mind, and now pay tv license like everyone else. BBC news is respected around the world and some of the thrillers and crime drama’s are amazing.
Just looking at IPlayer, you can watch every episode of Luther, Life on Mars, Battlestar Galactica, Dr Who, Strike, Bodyguard, The Capture and a raft of other amazing tv for just 40p a day.
Other stuff I’m watching at the moment, is adventures with Levison Wood, Star Trek Discovery and the Mandalorian.
One trick I used to use to motivate myself to do “from scratch” cooking, was to make a list of cooking projects, laminate it and then fasten it to the cupboard doors in my kitchen.
I’d then use a highlighter pen and cross out the one’s I’d done.
I’ve been doing a lot of stuff from Ray Mears Wilderness Chef book (although admittedly, I’ve been cooking in the kitchen, not on a camping stove in the garden).
Something I’ve learned to do several times on bushcraft courses but never gotten around to doing at home, is making bread.
So that’s now added to several others on the new laminate in my kitchen. when I’ve made the bread, whatever the outcome, I’ll post pictures of the result.
But I also like to record idea’s and plan’s sometimes on paper.
Above is General Montgomery’s plan for D Day, written on 1 piece of A4 paper.
The reason I enjoy writting down plans and list’s is best explained by a quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower “In war I’ve found that plans are useless but planning is essential”.
The simple act of sitting down with pen and paper, focuses the mind and allows creativity to flow, in a way typing into an Ipad never will.
I usually have a notebook of some kind with me at all times (I also have notebooks and pens in all of my bags, next to my bed, on my desk and in my kitchen) just in case inspiration strikes.
One I especially like is the Rite in the rain 7 inch ring bound notebook. I don’t usually need my scribblings to be waterproof, but you never know.
It’s complimented by the Rite in the rain C980 writing case you can see above.
It can hold upto 4 pens, but I have a penlight torch, a multi screwdriver and 2 space pens in mine.
I also include a plastic form for navigating on OS maps, and I always carry a pack of post it notes in case I want to mark an article in a book or magazine (I’d never write directly onto either).
As the saying goes about Camera’s, “The best camera is the one you’ve got with you when you need it”.
I’ve always got a telescopic pen with me on my keys, but what about other times ?. Sometimes I take a trip to the pub with only my “basic man” outfit. A wallet, keys and a phone.
I was delighted to see Rite in the rain have brought out these amazing mini notebooks you can fit in your wallet.
They’re the same size as a few business cards – the one in my Rohan RFID wallet above is in red next to the Santander card with a yellow one for illustration to the left (they come in packs of 6).
To the left of the yellow notepad is a Bellroy Micropen. A technical marvel, that can fit unobtrusively in a wallet, to complete the ensemble.
Finally, just for fun, I saw this almost 40 year old advert for the Commodore 64. My brother and I had one, we paid for it ourselves but convinced mum it was a sound investment as we’d both learn about computers and how to type. I think 99 out of every 100 hours it was used was to play games.
Someone’s altered this advert. If you know who Ron Jeremy is, you’ll understand why it’s so mischievously funny 🙂
Once again thanks for reading from everyone here at johnsunter.com I’ll do another post, before Christmas, but near and far, the search for adventure continues…