I woke this morning to a brighter light than normal coming through my closed curtains.

I had seen before going to bed, just passed about one this morning, that it would imminently snow. 

As I was in the garden fagging, I looked up to see the sky; a bright radiant orange.  Sulphuric rays from street lamps bouncing off a bright white sky gave an eerie mandarin luminescence to the whole scene. 

I confess that I woke today feeling far more down-hearted than I have of late.  It was almost as if the snow had been an emotional trigger transporting me back to when enough had been enough (See The Beginning and Ergo I will go).

I thought I had ‘worked through’ my feelings, but I recall last night, I dreamt of small wild ponies running around an area of woodland recently cleared of rhododendron.  I can only guess that the dream was brought on by a memory of a nature reserve near to Ashford (See here) where I have been a few times in the not too distant past.  Wild horses run free there and I have taken a number of walks there.

I have never historically been a big fan of pointless walking to nowhere. so why this isolated snippet of a dream should have such a profound affect is a bit of a mystery.

On the subject of walking; when I was a child, our Dad used to take us for a ‘blow out’ on Sunday.  We would do all sorts of public footpaths which cuts Kent (the garden of England) into a wonderful rich, colourful patchwork of countryside.  

My favourite was nicknamed by us “Seven mile walk”. 

Seven mile walk went from the entrance of Hever castle to a place called Chiddingstone.  We would get a drink of milk in a small tea rooms opposite the church, before turning back again and finally getting back to the car exhausted.

More recently I always liked the idea of walking from A-B (maybe toward a pub).  Walking around for the sake of walking was something I never understood, but I think now I get it again.  I feel as if I have rediscovered an old toy, a long lost taste of the past. 

It’s good to just get out and walk on your own.  It’s nice being in the fresh air.  It’s also good talking to other people and walking rather than just staying in to chat.   Even a short stroll is better than none at all. 

I am sure to most this does not sound too revolutionary but for me it’s almost miraculous.   Those who have been closest to me would be able to confirm how little I used to walk.  Again I think that my old man should take some credit for my not wanting to walk anywhere.  As he got older, he simply stopped walking, or at least very rarely walked – he preferred to drive everywhere.  He would park as close as he possibly could to the entrance of super and hyper markets and if ‘good’ parking wasn’t available, he would sometimes drive home to go back later.  Maybe in my complex psyche I was trying to emulate my father, even the weird bits.

In the past also I never really used to stay in for very long, I was always popping around to different people’s houses or driving between projects at work, so the concept of feeling the four walls bearing down on me never really happened until earlier this year when the feeling of cabin fever took its toll.  My lack of interest in walking may have felt to those close to me like a lack of empathy for their need to get out and walk in the air; and maybe it was.

This may be another area where my work or my life at that moment in time was sucking the goodness out of me.  I was tired, I remember that, but now I feel younger and over the last six months much more full of hope and energy.

Lately with the weather here in the UK getting considerably colder and with the darkness descending much earlier in the day, I can seriously see the benefit of taking a stroll for no particular reason other than taking a stroll and getting out.

Having not pointlessly walked for a while, and having reflected on it I know that I miss it greatly.  I went walking in Lanzarote occasionally (cycling lots) and have been on a few good walks since getting back to the UK including a place down the road from Reading. 

Anyhow, the sight of snow and the dream of horses have left me wanting to walk more than avoid the unforgiving cold.  The balance of goodness has again tipped the right way or at least is tipping.

On 15 January I went to see Shiiin, Jet Stream, White earphones; an art exhibition of work by my old pal, Damien Roach (See: LINK HERE).

It was a great do and a bunch of other pals from a past life were there too.

rare to see Damien and so the fact that I saw him alongside a whole
load of joint friends and his Dad (who is a great man to talk to) was a
real pleasure.

I also caught up with Dan, a mustachioed dude I remember from Bromley, he now works for a magazine.

chatted about our different positions and it was Dan who suggested I
write a blog of my adventures. "Everyone loves the idea of just walking
away!", Dan shouted over the din.

He went on, "Of
course! Everyone wants to give their dog to a neighbour and go abroad.
And if they can't actually do it, they like to read about people who

Dan encouraged me to get in touch with magazines
and explore who might be interested in taking written work on spec with
the blog as a background for people to follow.

So thanks to Dan, 'we are where we are' (as JW used to say).

After the New Year madness in the Clyde, I drove down South, dogless
and keen to know whether fate would give me reason to stick around or

I arrived home and checked my post and emails – no documents.

sent an email from my iPhone to my contact explaining the frustration
of needing documents I had been instrumental in writing and not
receiving them. I explained that if I did not receive them over the
course of the week, I would walk away. The feeling itself was quite

On the Tuesday I had a response. The documents would not be with me. As I suspected.

emailed my old bosses and explained my position. I reflected on the
situation and can see that maybe more space and time is needed by the
incumbent management to update the existing documents in order that
they have 'ownership'. I confirmed that I was happy to walk away for a
year when I would check back in to see if they needed any help then.

This or more the tome of my email
caused some small amount of resentment from the incumbent, but as
adults we explained our different positions to each other and I hope
parted with mutual respect.

I have never seen in the New Year in Scotland.  I have been there
for the period between Christmas and New Year lots of times, but
generally drove back down for the night itself to be spent in Calais
Gate with chums.

Last year was spent in with the lost
love. So soon after Dad going, it was not really a happy occasion. In
fact I recall I went to bed early despite there being an Elton concert

This time my sister telephoned me in
early December. She said that a charity swim was being organised at
Inellan down the road from where she lives. She asked "would I join in?"

"Of course!", without thinking, I confirmed that I would do it.

the weeks went by and the day approached I became a little hesitant. As
I drove from home to Scotland through the snow I watched the outside
temperature fall from a balmy 0°C to -6°C.

days wore on and my trepidation increased. As I have explained before,
2nd Christmas was great, but between Christmas and the dip, only time.
Even that's not entirely true, since we went for walks, and played Lego
so diversionary activities were plentiful.

sister confirmed a few days before that Old Years Night (as our Nan
calls it) would be spent at a dance organized by a local dairy farm in
the Toward community hall. It turned out to be great and ranked as
highly by me as a barn dance wedding I once attended near Brighton. The
best ever wedding of a friend I have ever been to, but that's another

The New Year dance was great. A bloke with a
synth and a mic, sang a range of songs including some traditional
Scottish dances (which is always a good laugh so long as you can follow
the people in front) including 'stripping the willow,   the dashing
something and something else'. It was a real laugh.

New Year came, balloons fell from the ceiling, my sister and brother-in-law danced.

2010 was here! Hoorah! Gone was the back-end of the worst period in my life.

Then came morning.

Christmas my sister had bought me a "Keep calm and carry on" t-shirt
and we decided to wear the same as a uniform. I had found my sun hat
from a few years ago and we both had blue shorts on.

should at this point be explained that we knew a few people who had
borrowed wet suits for the dip, but for some reason, we decided that if
you are going to swim in the freezing cold, you might as well do it.
"Wet suits are for wimps", we chanted!!

The support
crew (brother in law and nephew) were both carrying the cameras and
'snakes blood soup' (which tasted remarkably like tomato?) was poured
into the Thermos flask.

My sister and I ran next door
to gather some more troops (successfully getting swimming agreement
from two with the rest of the family in support – G looked particularly
fragile but was in fine spirits).

Then the time came. 
A hundred or so strangers lined the beach at Inellan and a few other
people were in fancy dress with wings like 'arctic fairies' ready to
take the plunge. In all I estimate that 25, or so, of us were there for
the swim.

Having duly signed the obligatory health and
safety disclaimer and paid our £5.00 entry fee, a wonderful fancy
statue of liberty started the countdown.

We were off.

sister and I had already agreed to swim further out than any others and
that swimming was not confirmed unless total immersion had been

I was proud to say that my sun hat floated at least twice straight from my bobbing head.

gained our footing and both stood up. Shaking hands to the sounds of
shrieks and screams of the natives running for the shore we calmly
chatted for a bit and agreed to go in again one more time. This time it

We got out and waded in as controlled a fashion as we could into shore.

Warmed by towel and snakes blood soup, a shot of whiskey was passed to each of the swimmers by the organisers.

We all congratulated each other and having got dressed, proceeded to get back into the car and return home, triumphant!

“What are you doing with your house?” came the message from Facebook.

My pal, already looking to take care of my fish, was inquiring about the gaff.

my ‘no-plan’ plan, again I had not really thought about the detail and
so having thought about it for all of a millisecond, I answered,
“probably going to see if I can rent it.”

Later that
day, another message came with a plan all laid out.  Subject to
figures, they would rent the house and look after the fish and bees.

it happens her and her boyfriend are looking to move.  They are
thinking of buying an old barn and converting it to live the good life
nearer to Bristol and Bath.

We talked figures which covered my mortgage and although not signed in blood, its pretty much agreed.

They are looking to move in during the third week of March.

have seen the house before and so know its unique condition and in a
couple of weeks they are going to pop down with his two little kids to
check out kiddie amenities.

All of that from a Facebook message asking about help with fish.

In my house I have three aquariums.

One is
significantly bigger than the two others and has six coldwater goldfish
swimming in it (one big and five very small).  The two small tanks were
bought for me by my lost love as birthday presents a few years ago.  At
their zenith they accommodated a thriving community of Guppies. 

are live bearing and breed like nothing else.  With such short breeding
cycles you can successfully influence new colours and shape strains
within a matter of months.  Lots of interest was given to 'the
Gupsters' and notes were kept on the kitchen notice board of their
names, with corresponding tail drawings, identifying who was who.  I
would recommend Gupsters to anyone, but most especially for families
with kids.

With the 'no-plan plan' and after I had agreed the placement for Noggin I was now thinking about the fish.

"What to do with the fish tanks?", I said to myself.  Then the answer came, "Facebook!"

try to keep my status updated or at least relevant to where life is and
so I put the problem to my enormous cohort of 'friends' (a minority of
whom I have seen, whilst the majority I probably have not seen or
spoken to for 20 years and some are just strangers who wanted to be my
friend and who appeared to be friendly enough).

a day an old pal had messaged back, her and her boyfriend were happy to
take the big one.  This was excellent news.  The no-plan plan is now
really coming together.

Having the idea to walk away is one thing; actually walking away is another "What about the dog for God sake?"

That is a good question.

love dogs and have lived all my life with them. Honey, Penny, Tess,
Pip, Fynn and Noggin have acted as hairy punctuation marks, defining
episodes both happy and sad. Noggin more so than any I have had before.
A little Lakeland Terrier, I took Noggin to work most days and she was
a great joy to have in the work environment.

Noggin is
a real sweet little thing, whose character is only marred by her
instinct to fight and or kill anything that moves. Rabbits, chickens
and rats have all been mortally wounded by this otherwise cute scruffy
little brown dog.

Well, laying in the bath on
Christmas Eve reflecting on misspent opportunity and a soul destroyed
future, I had not considered little Noggin. What to do with Noggin?

had not really thought about that question at all! In between Christmas
Eve (Thurs) and the Sunday, I had started to tell folk about my broad
plan. Getting out, going off and doing stuff…but nothing about what
happens to lives that depend on me. Maybe that is a clue why everything
went so wrong? Broad strokes fine! Detail – s**t!

it came to the detail of how I was to untangle myself from this life of
things and stuff, I had not really applied myself yet and this included
my responsibilities to Noggin.

Anyway there was time
to think about that after I got back from my sisters in the 'badlands
of the north' – or Scotland as it is also known. Early in the morning
in a slight sleet, Noggin and I set off North.

was a nightmare! A journey that normally takes nine hours, took 12,
through rain, sleet and snow. What was just above freezing down south
had turned into a constant -5°C! But it was all worth it.

I arrived long after the bed time of the average six year old, my
little nephew was awoken. With his eyes still shut and with a floppy
torso a coat was slipped over is pyjamas and wellington boots were
tugged on by his mum.

As is the family tradition,
out in the street twigs and sticks were placed in the shape of arrows
(to guide Santa) whilst 'magic' glitter was sprinkled across the top of
them. Little boy still asleep, he turned around and trudged back into
the house and went back to bed. The whole operation was conducted in

Suffice to say Santa found his way and as a result '2nd Christmas' was a success with all satisfied.

Brother in laws cooking was incredible again and I put on half a stone during the seven days I was there.

was the day after 2nd Christmas Day that a sporadic collection of the
neighbours six children started to pop in and play with the nephew and
Noggin. They're great kids and excellent fun to be with, for my nephew
it’s like have a readymade bunch of cousins or siblings on the
doorstep, both households living in each other’s pockets and sharing
stories, songs and jokes.

I popped next door to have a
chat with the parents (they having travelled and were good inspiring
examples of what happens when people go abroad) a couple of times and
as well as being made welcome with G&T, was entertained with
lively conversation and photo albums of time spent in far off lands

neighbours raised the conversation of the dog. Whether this was
contrived by my sister I do not know. In any event and without any
predetermined agenda, it turned out that they were investigating
getting a dog and were interested in providing a long fixed-term
placement for Noggin.

I consulted via text with my
lost love who confirmed that she was not allowed to take custody of

So the god's had decided Noggin was to stay in Scotland (at
least for 15 months).

The dog had kept me sane over
the last few months. When everything was at its worst and I was in a
dark place, having to look after Noggin, having to feed her and having
to take her out, kept me alive. But if I was no longer tied to my dog,
then I was not tied to anything anymore.

Even less reason to stay where I am.

Boxing Day was spent with my Nan and Aunty. Nan is 88 and born at
home at Church Row, Limehouse in 1921. Aunty is 50 and looks 37!! A
self-styled matriarch, Nan has caused happiness and sorrow in equal
measure over her long life.

It was a good day and we
were able to get Nan to Aunty’s new house to watch a film. Nan was
really 'on form' and very witty. She liked the house and the log burning
stove which was good.

Now to the beginning:

It's Christmas Eve and whilst in the bath this evening it occurred to me that everything I hung my life on up until now no longer exists. My work, my love, my aim and the very reason I ended up living here has gone in just over twelve months. I am not enjoying my pointless existence and my aimlessness is overpowering me as it does whenever I reflect on where I am and where I am not going very fast.

Apart from Dad passing away at the back end of 2008, at least a proportion of the rest I brought on myself; by way of things I did or did not do and things I said or did not say that I should have.

Most of what I did not say relates to my lost love and her little brown eyed boy.  Both of whom I disparately miss from my life and continue to love unconditionally.

Since I 'retired' from my job in early November I have been trying to create an associate-based consultancy targeting the voluntary sector. I suppose that due to cowardice, this seemed do-able and likely to lead to success. I was successful in negotiating an agreement with a small homelessness charity (my former employer) and looked forward to getting back to work. For lots of different reasons core documents I needed to do the work were not forwarded to me and after two months of trying, I had been informed a couple of days before that the documents I needed were on a PC which had been given away to sell. The documents were effectively lost. I was reassured that the new manager would try to obtain copies, but I was not confident. Reflecting in the bath, the likelihood of getting the documents I needed seemed absolutely remote and represented a last straw.

It occurred to me that I want to change everything I am. Vague words engraved on the Burma memorial by the Embankment struck me about ‘bold acts being the safest’. I need to do something bold (without being rash or stupid). I want to see new places, speak to new people and have new thoughts. My favourite Ghandi quote springs to mind and I am determined to 'become the change I want to see'.

Given the opportunity, which I am going to create, what would I do?  “If I’m going to be aimless, and as a result introverted, isolated and miserable, I might as well be warm!”.   I like photography and I liked learning to scuba. I will go somewhere warm, learn more scuba to the point of excellence and take photographs…or something like that.

I have telephoned my late father’s wife, my Godmother and my sister and I told them my bold idea. All have said it's good.

I don't really have a plan but maybe that is the point. No more stifling plans or obligations which only represent 'vanity and vexation of spirit'.

I am now a thirty-three year old man and as I have done so many times before, I close the front door behind me and walk into my lounge.  Looking around I see memories and emotions in the things I own.  The stuff that clutters the shelves, the tables and the countless cupboard tops in an endless collection of what appears to be nonsense curiosity to those who have not been with me in my journey, but I am full of pointless sentiment.  Dust layers these things with a grey film over what could be otherwise shining brown wooden furniture.   The room smells stuffy, a combination of dust, unwashed dishes, unmade bed together with a hint of dog and smoke.  Maybe the dust could be a meaningful metaphor, at the moment it just looks like normal dust, a collection of greyish-brown dead skin.  

In the corner, an upright piano, its walnut burr twists and warps in frozen patterns like those seen when rich dark coffee is watched through a glass just as the milk is skilfully poured or the same as when a dark Irish stout is pulled on a TV advert.  At least, that is what the veneer reminds me of.  The piano has never been played, not properly anyway. 

It was bought when I was a boy and wanted to learn the clarinet.  It was said that because I was a sickly child, tall and thin, my mother thought my long hands would be better to tinkle the ivory than let my weak chest suffer the stress of a wind instrument.  Now the piano had not been played for twenty years and stands bearing the weight of objects at chest and waist height, a bulky pair of staggered shelves.  As I gaze motionless at the hulking object I absent-mindedly ask myself “Except in bad jokes to do with mashed potatoes, are mothers always right?,” my thought trails off without conclusion and I am left with a slight whisper of guilt for even thinking the stupid thought before I look away.  A few years ago, I bought myself a clarinet, but even that has not been played.

Atop the piano a beautiful yet dead expression carved into a bust of Peau d'Âne looks across the room towards me.  As in the story, I feel like the prince who fell ill with longing for a love denied him.  I am haunted now by these things.  I am full of loving and loathing, mostly loathing for what I have become.  

My house, filled with possessions as if from a set from Harry Potter or Great Expectations, a memorial to a life lived in the past, a collection of random objects; some beautiful objects and most revolting shit.  All useless for what I am feeling now.  Casting my eyes over the room I see a ghastly 1970’s dark oak welsh dresser, a Moroccan coffee table, my three goldfish tanks, small chests of drawers, and two display cabinets filled with precious, useless, worthless, interesting things.  Dominating the room is a dining room set of a table and four chairs and a large low set three piece suite, upholstered in bright red leather.  I watch for a moment as scaled fillets of bright orange colour glide behind green algae spotted glass.  Silent, they are oblivious. 

In this eclectic space I used to feel at ease, each thing bringing with it a meaning or a kind of energy which resonated within me.  All of the stuff was reassuring.  If the sum of its parts can be greater than the whole, then my sum was substantial even if my life right now had little to show for it.  To some it was a sum of amassed crap and that new reality was beginning to dawn in my mind as I scanned the familiar room from just inside the crimson front door.

“Too much stuff, too much stuff”.  The refrain was heard over and again as a small measure of loyal friends and loved ones drop by to see how I am, all encouraging me to just move on.  There is simply too much stuff.  I know that they are right.

How could anyone have lived like this?  How could I have expected my love to join me here let alone bring her child?  Again with useless hindsight I see qualities within me which I want to rid my soul of.  Am I destined to live in the end with newspapers piled ceiling-high, with pathways between trash to ‘my chair’ or ‘my bedroom’? Has my self-imposed selfishness and obsession with things driven her away? Could I ever have learned this lesson with her still here?  She did try but the constant whisper of long passed spirits was stronger.

There is too much stuff but the physical world in my home is a little like a reflection of my unconscious and I fear that to forgo the security of things I remember from my childhood and in more recent years of happiness with my love and her brown eyed boy, I risk losing the only triggers to memories I would rather not live without. 

In any event no matter how much I know it will hurt, soon I will be gone from this stuff and these things. 

In the old Ava Gardener flick, Pandora measures love by sacrifice and so maybe too late, I give up my lot for the sake of lost love.


You need to be patient while I bring you up to date with what has happened over the last month.

After the preamble, I will then keep you informed of what's going on as regularly as I can and for when I can't, a network of chums will help to update you via the contents of postcards I send to them.

In this way, things I see, people I meet and experiences I have will be shared with you, whether I have internet access or not.

Each story is a snap shot in time, a glimpse at a pin point in my life. 

My brain and in particular the recollections which emanate from deep within my psyche do not appear as clear-cut chronologically defined timelines.  With each reminiscence I am transported almost literally to where I am at the time, who I am with, what I smell, hear and touch.   

Although in each case not all details are recorded, I am nevertheless plagued with obscure small details and unforgivable irrelevant thoughts which after an event in my life, whether a memorable experience or a defining turning point, all at once become part and parcel of the memory.  Maybe this is normal or maybe it is not. 

Notwithstanding its normality I hope to share some stories with you that I equally hope are interesting, entertaining, insightful or amusing.

You should also note that throughout these meanderings names of individuals and places might be changed where it helps protect the subject or myself, or where simply it reduces the likelihood of anyone objecting to this blog for whatever reason.