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Coming to terms

After living here in Norfolk for quite a while now, I have finally begun to believe it. For so long, it didn’t feel real, as if I was always going to be going back to London, or moving on to somewhere else. It has taken a long time to fully embrace the peace, and the unreal slowness of life here. I used to think that I was deluded when I told myself that I didn’t miss anything about life in the city. Part of me always thought that I would snap out of it one day, and wonder what I thought I was doing here.

I now realise that I have come to terms with this life. I am living life in a way I never previously thought possible, and I am glad about it too. I have written a lot about the weather in many posts, as regular readers will be only too aware. I think that this is because I have come to understand weather in a very real sense. I now like to prepare for it, to be aware what might happen, and to make it part of my life, as opposed to disregarding it. I welcome the darkness, and the way that it closes things down around us. I enjoy that slow pace of life, and adjust my own speed accordingly. This is where I live now, and I won’t be going anywhere else.

I expect that many of you would never consider giving up the comforts and amenities of life in a large town or city. I know that I once thought that I never would. There are trade-offs, it would be foolish to suggest otherwise. Life outside villages has a convenience and simplicity not found here. We have to plan ahead, make sure that the car is reliable, and be aware that we cannot rely on public transport. Going to a theatre, a good restaurant, or an exhibition, is not something that can be done on the spur of the moment. It involves forward planning, and of course, driving. Yet it restores that sense of occasion, so often lacking in cities, where these things are so common, they become almost mundane. They can still be achieved, you just have to think about them.

In return, you get a great deal, once you understand what it is. Sky, darkness, stillness; a sense of safety previously unknown.

I can really recommend it.

Quiet day, quiet night

I wasn’t very busy today. I got up quite late, and soon after, made some breakfast for us both. After checking e mails, and perusing my blog, I got ready to take Ollie out. For some unknown reason, I ran a bit late, and it was almost 3 pm by the time we left. For a change of scene, I took Ollie to the recreation ground, over by Beetley Village Hall. There was no sport being played today, and the place was deserted. Ollie likes the woods that fringe the pitches, as they are home to lots of squirrels. However, after two hours walking around in circles, not one squirrel had appeared to be chased. They were obviously having a quiet day too.

Returning via High House Road, we bumped into a dog-walking friend going in the other direction. She asked me about the Vet in Swaffham that we have changed to, and I gave her the details. I walked Ollie back along Elmham Road, where the verges are so wide, he doesn’t have to get too near the much-feared main road. Everywhere was very peaceful. We only saw two cars, and no other people. Once home, I got the ladder out of the shed, and went into the loft. Next week, we are taking lots of baby stuff over to Julie’s daughter, who is expecting in November. It has been stored in the loft for months, and I wanted to get it down when she was there to check off what needs to be taken.

I then prepared the evening meal, a traditional roast, and Julie spoke to one of her sons on the telephone. It was all very normal, a typical Sunday. Later on, we watched some TV, mostly things we had previously recorded. At 8.30 pm, a car drove past on the dark street outside, and we looked at each other, somewhat surprised. It is indicative of how quiet life is here, that the passing of a single car after dark can be a cause for remark. Julie stayed up quite late, something she will no doubt regret tomorrow, when her alarm goes off at 6.30 am.

It is now 1.50 am on Monday, as I type this. I haven’t heard a sound since that car passed all those hours ago, unless you count the increasingly strengthening wind. The view from the window is as black as ink, not a chink of light anywhere. Beetley has long ago closed down for the night, and I am guessing that it’s going to be another quiet one.

A while back, I exceeded 500 posts on Beetleypete.  This one will bring the total to 523. As I expected to be around the 100 mark by this time, it is obvious that I have been a lot busier than I anticipated. Views of the blog have just tipped 20,000, and followers are almost at the magical 500 mark. Not that this figure means a lot, as I probably only have 50 or so ‘real’ followers.

I always like to state from the outset, that this is of no significance, in the wider world of blogging. Even some relatively small blogs can boast over 2,000 followers, and get hundreds of views daily. For me, it is all relative to expectations. I never expected to get more than a handful of followers, and then only from friends, family, and ex-colleagues. I also never expected to have written over 500 posts; on everything from 1960s London, to attempts at fiction. I used to think that if 1,000 people looked at my blog, it would be something of an achievement. To have that twenty times over is something marvellous, at least to me.

I confess that I continue to miss many of my blogging friends; those who have dropped out of blogging, for reasons important to them. Although I never met them, (with one exception) I find myself worrying about them, or wondering what they are up to. Perhaps this is a lesson learned. Get too close to other bloggers, and you can do nothing about it, when they choose to disappear. Blog only for the moment, without thought to the longer term feeling of community. I will still think about them though, so that is one lesson I am disregarding.

I am still occasionally bothered by ‘followers’ who are just trying to make money. This doesn’t irritate me as much as it used to, as I now have some understanding of the pyramid-selling nature of SEO opportunities, lifestyle gurus, and book sellers. Many see the web and the blogging side of it as a way to make money, purely and simply. They want to work from home, typing their ‘follows’ into a laptop from their poolside, as they gaze at their Mercedes parked in the drive. But we all know that this is only happening for a select few. The rest of you have missed that boat, it sailed long ago. There are some good authors using the blog to sell their stuff. Good luck to you, but please don’t pretend to be interested in my writing, just to try to sell me your latest e-book. Others combine intelligent and thoughtful blogging, with a sideline in marketing or sales, reached from separate menus, or even links to different blogs. That’s the way you should be doing it. Moan over.

I am still staggered by just how many blogs exist. Conservative estimates put the figure of bloggers at around the eight million mark, and that is just for those blogging in English. In truth, it is probably much larger than this, though many blog sites have been dormant for much of their existence. As so many new blogs are registered every day, it is almost impossible to find an accurate figure. Let’s just agree that it is huge, almost too huge to comprehend. There is hardly a topic or subject known that is not covered on a blog, somewhere.

I remain delighted to be a part of this, and once again suggest that anyone considering joining us should do so. Now.

The new office

After finally completing the dreaded decorating, (see earlier posts) the new office room is officially up and running, since 7 pm last night. Julie helped me get the huge desk top in from the garage, and we screwed the legs on. The thing is enormous, and takes up about a third of this small room. It runs almost the full width. nearly touching the wall one side, and only a few inches from the radiator under the window. It is more than twice as deep as its predecessor, and from a sitting position, I cannot reach the back edge. Placed upon it, there is the PC desktop tower, the cordless phone and charger base, two small speakers, the broadband router, keyboard, and a monitor. With the old setup, there was no room for the router, and the rest of the items were all crammed together. Everything looks lost now, and we are contemplating the purchase of a much larger monitor in the future, to replace the trusty Dell 15 inch, that was a generous gift from a friend.

The drawer units are more useful too. They have a large filing drawer, and two smaller drawers above. They are also lockable, not that I have any need to lock them. Even with these large units in place underneath, there is ample room to put my legs under, and spread out in comfort. There is even enough room to be able to write a letter on the desk top, without having to move everything to one side. The large shelf units fitted in on the opposite wall, still leaving enough room to get access to more power points, and to store items at the side. They are almost six feet tall, with large cupboards at the base, and three adjustable shelves above. I am now getting excited by the prospect of opening boxes of books, DVD films, and compact discs that have resided in the garage for over two years. I anticipate finding many forgotten gems, as well as being able to donate a lot of items to charity shops.

There are also two boxes of odd bits and pieces removed from the previous desk. They have to be re-examined, to see if their contents are worthy of being put into the swish new units. No longer will I have to tolerate writing paper stacked in piles on the floor, or things stashed under the desk that prevented me from moving my feet. I will have enough room to use my daylight reading lamp, a legacy from my late Mum; and I may even be able to display some of my collection of vintage cameras, by placing them along the tops of the bookcases. My treasured reference books will be to hand, as will my collection of photographic ‘coffee table’ tomes, always a pleasure to occasionally flick through. I have a brand new coaster for my coffee cup, and enough room for a printer, if I ever decide that I need one. As the previous printer never really worked properly, and used an inordinate amount of ink, I could never really see the point.

If I have a lull in blogging activity, I will be able to recline my new chair to its full extent, and rest my legs on the spacious desk, ruminating on what to do next. Of course, the addition of all this superb new furniture has closed down the feel of an already small room. However, the trade-off between perceived lack of space, and usable facilities, more than makes up for that. It is like the start of a new adventure for me. That may seem to some to be an excessive statement, to describe the re-fitting of a spare room, but believe me, it is true. There is only one downside to the whole thing. Julie thinks that it would be nice to have curtains in here. I suggested that it wasn’t necessary, as you cannot see into here from the street, due to a large hedge. But she thinks that it will be nice for the window to be ‘dressed’, to complete the transformation. So, I now have to fit a curtain pole, and I have only just filled and painted the holes from the previous one.

And as you know, I am no good at DIY.

Arne’s leg-update.

Arne has now changed to a wordpress blog. Hooray! You can now keep up with his progress, follow, like posts, and even comment. Once again, I am unable to cut and paste any links (grrrr….) so please go to arneamputated.com if you wish to show him your support, or just keep a track on what he is up to.

Many thanks, Pete.

A tribute to tradesmen

And I should add, tradeswomen too.

I have been decorating a small room in our house. It was a relatively easy project, as I did not have to paint the windows, or gloss the door and surrounding wood. Clear the room, fill the cracks and screw-holes, sand down and wash the walls. This was followed by two coats of paint on the ceiling, then two coats of a different colour, on the walls. Some fiddly finishing touches followed. Making good the straight lines, going over tiny bits that were missed, and clearing the dust and spills from the carpet. This was not a mammoth task, and many readers could have probably completed this in a weekend, without giving it a second thought. However, I was hampered by a serious decorating liability.

I am just no good at it. Adding to that, I hate doing it, and can get absolutely no enjoyment from it. I have no genetic code for DIY. I am one of those people that will pay someone else to do it, or put it off until the last possible moment, or until other factors make it absolutely necessary to undertake this odious task. That sense of achievement that inspires others to get on with things like this just does not enter into my thoughts. I chose other paths in life, and put aside decorating in the same way that others decline to write, read, or watch films. Working in this room for a few hours each day, I have only spent around twenty-four hours on this job. To me, it seemed like an eternity. As I was finishing the last of the painting on Tuesday, I suddenly thought about the people who do this for a living. This is my blogging tribute to them.

I have never held with snobbery about jobs and careers. I believe that someone who empties my dustbin is as valuable to society as a surgeon who operates on me. There is far too much made of the social standing of different jobs. This not only applies in this country, but is the same all over the world. Tradesmen make the decision, usually at a very young age, to learn their craft. And in so doing, set out their life ahead. They work an apprenticeship, low paid for some years, and either continue with examinations, or learn on the job as they grow. They become accomplished in their chosen field, and can then offer their services to anyone with the means to pay them a fair rate for the job. There may be the odd exception, but they generally take a pride in their work, and want their customer to be satisfied, and to recommend them to others. We have all had occasion to use tradesmen, or to benefit from their services at some time. But unless we are related to one, or have a close friend  who is one, we know little about them.

This got me thinking, and for obvious reasons, about painters and decorators. How does anyone actually get the enthusiasm to do this for a living? A life spent with brushes, rollers, dustsheets and ladders; Gloss paint, Matt paint, eggshell, filler, and sandpaper. Wallpaper and paste, masking tape, white spirit, spreading knives, tins, trays, and pots. The paraphernalia of a chosen trade and career, carted around daily, loaded and unloaded into vans. Overalls and hands covered in paint. Waking up to the smell of paint, and going to bed at night, knowing that the same thing awaits you tomorrow. Rolling, brushing, stirring, sploshing, cutting in, and clearing up again. This is dedication indeed, and something unknown to me.

So I can only praise you. Whether decorator, carpenter, plumber, electrician, or gardener. You do things that I could never do. You do them well, with skill and commitment; and you carry on doing them, day in, day out. This is my salute to you all.

An unexpected absence

I haven’t been around for a while, so I very much appreciate the contact during my absence, which was unavoidable.

I finally relented, and got around to decorating the small spare room that we call ‘the office’. I still have to do some tidying tomorrow, clearing up areas that I missed, and finishing the cleaning and clearing. In the meantime, I have managed to uncover the PC, that has lain idle for some time, surrounded by a plastic sheet. I would like to say that it has been a pleasurable experience, but that would be a lie. Crawling around on the floor, mounting step-ladders, and applying paint, has never been something that I find remotely rewarding.

At least this means that my new office will be up and running by the weekend, which is a positive step. I just wish that I hadn’t had to wear myself to a frazzle, to make this happen. So, back to normal soon, thanks for waiting. Pete.

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