Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


Not long from now, I will be having my daily bath, and then shaving afterwards. That got me thinking about shaving. As I have never had a beard or moustache, and never been one to go out unshaven, I have spent a lot of time at this daily ritual.

I began shaving regularly around the age of seventeen, when I first started work. I am now sixty-six, so that’s forty-nine years of shaving every day, seven days a week. Allowing for leap years, that means I have shaved 17,885 times. I should deduct some days for when I felt too ill to shave, or couldn’t shave for some logistical reason. I will be generous, and allow 100 days for that. So 17,775 times, at the very least.

When I started out, I used simple soap as lather, and a Gillette Safety Razor, with a real razor blade. Small cuts were commonplace, and I quickly learned that the newer the blade, the better the shave. I later graduated to shaving foam in a can, then called ‘Foamy’. This was much better than ordinary soap, and worked really well. (I still use something similar today.)

I then went through my ‘electric period’. I was bought an electric shaver as a gift, and used it for some years. It worked well-enough, but never quite felt as effective, and didn’t leave my face feeling as ‘fresh’ as a real shave. So once the cartridge style razors became popular, I tried one, and have stuck with those ever since. I now use one that has five small blades in each cartridge, and gives a lovely close shave. But they are notoriously expensive, making shaving something of a luxury.

Over the years, I occasionally treated myself to a real barber shave, when getting a haircut. Nothing compares to the smoothness of a cut-throat razor, in the hands of an expert. With hot towels to follow, and a splash of the barber’s own cologne making my cheeks pucker, it felt as if my entire face had been replenished with brand new skin.

But for many years, I have cut my own hair, (what’s left of it) so wouldn’t consider making a trip into town just for a shave.

In an age where designer stubble is sported by many, and beards are the new fashion accessory, I remain committed to shaving. But of course I have no idea why it should have occupied my thoughts today.


Sheringham: Escaping the power cut

(All photos can be enlarged, by clicking on them, so please do.)

The proposed power cut went ahead yesterday, as arranged. Despite a good weather forecast, the day started drizzly and damp. So as soon as we lost the electricity, we drove down to Yaxham Waters Holiday Park, to get a great breakfast in their attractive cafe. Full to the brim, we drove back to collect Ollie, who was excited to be going out in the car.

We decided on Sheringham, some 23 miles north, and just over thirty minutes by car. This is a popular old-fashioned holiday town, with a selection of shops and cafes, as well as a good-sized car park. As we made our way there on near-deserted roads, the sun was trying to break through. By the time we arrived and parked the car, it was warm enough to leave behind my light jacket, and proceed into town wearing a top and shorts!

Ollie was excited by all the new smells, unfamiliar dogs, and small crowds. Despite a stony beach, unlike those further west in Norfolk, the town was still busy with day trippers making the most of unusual October weather. By the lifeboat station, there is a mural of its history.

Ollie was getting puffed out with all that smelling, so we stopped to give him some water from his bowl that we had taken with us.

Because of coastal erosion, the town has installed some significant sea defences. (Sorry about the flare in the top left)

The tide was still high, but you can clearly see the pebble beach. The man in the orange outfit was collecting any rubbish left behind, and he was very thorough.

After the beach walk, we stopped for a cup of tea at a cafe on top of the small cliffs, and by the time we got home, just after 3 pm, the power was back on. All in all, a great excuse for a day out. 🙂

A Beetley Power Cut

On Tuesday the 16th, we have been informed of a ‘Planned Power Cut’ that will affect Beetley. If it goes ahead, we will have no electricity from 9 am, for the rest of the day. (Duration unknown) With this in mind, I am planning on getting out for the day, and eating out too, somewhere that still has electricity. We will have no heating or cooking facilities, no landline phone or Internet of course, and if it is as dark as it is today, the only option would be to read by torchlight, huddled under a blanket. I could take the rare opportunity to spend the entire day in bed, but I have a feeling that Ollie will not be happy if he doesn’t go out.

Now I know this is of little consequence in the grand scheme of things, but I thought I would let you know. If the power cut doesn’t happen, then it will be ‘normal trading’ on my blog. But in the event that they go ahead with it, then I will not be able to comment on any of your posts, reply to those on mine, or check emails. I could use the Internet on my mobile of course, but give the size of the screen, that’s not going to happen.

So if I disappear tomorrow, just be aware that I am not dead. (Well I hope not)

Low, Low Sun

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will tell you that I am hard to please, and perhaps best described as ‘never happy’. Alright, I confess that when it comes to the weather, that is true.

We have enjoyed an unusually bright October so far. And we have been blessed with very warm days too. Yesterday’s 23 C was a record locally, for a day in October. From sunrise to sunset, we have brilliant sunshine, followed by clear nights with a feast of visible starts.

But it comes with a catch of course.That brilliant sun is very low in the sky. It’s impossible to drive into it, even with sunglasses on and the visor down in the car. It streams through the windows of the house, making it increasingly difficult to see anything on this computer monitor, and to have no chance of watching anything on a flat-screen TV. The irony is that we wait for such sunny days, then have to close the curtains to be able to do anything in ‘normal’ light.

When I am out walking with Ollie, the low sun is like a searchlight in your face, and can very quickly generate a headache. But at least it is warm enough that I can still wear my shorts, eleven days after they are normally put away for the season. I know, I shouldn’t be complaining. Parts of the UK have high winds and heavy rain, so I should be grateful. But I would still like it to be higher in the sky, and not searing my eyeballs at every turn.

We have rain forecast for the weekend.

Stay tuned for me complaining about that. 🙂

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday


It was very quiet when I woke up this morning, and I got to thinking about the value of solitude. Not being alone, or loneliness, but solitude. I looked up the definition online.

the state or situation of being alone.
“she savoured her few hours of freedom and solitude”
synonyms: loneliness, solitariness, remoteness, isolation, seclusion, retirement, withdrawal, purdah, privacy, privateness, peace, peace and quiet, desolation

It has a lot of different meanings or interpretations, as you can see. The definition also includes the words ‘withdrawal’ and ‘desolation’, not things I personally associate with solitude. Not until now, anyway. But ‘peace’ and ‘peace and quiet’ are in there, and they are what I feel, when I see or hear the word. Most people like to congregate. They like to be in the company of others. It is supposed to be natural, an instinctive urge to gather together, perhaps for protection and companionship, or to share food and goods.

But as I get older, I welcome solitude more and more. Gone are the days when I didn’t feel complete without the presence of a partner, and a close circle of friends. I have Ollie of course, so perhaps he counts as ‘company’, though it doesn’t feel like that. If I am peaceful, he reflects that in his own mood, and doesn’t disturb me at all.

The irony is that the more I seek solitude, the more it seems to evade me. A quiet country walk can be interrupted by a friendly local who wants to chat. The anticipation of time alone can be shattered by the unexpected arrival of relatives, or a lengthy phone call from a friend. Picking up a book, or just sitting down to think, is certain to precipitate the appearance of a parcel delivery, a neighbour who wants to borrow the hedge-trimmers, or a tele-sales phone call. It’s as if they know you are alone, and don’t want you to be.

Many people abhor solitude. They cannot imagine living alone, not socialising in like-minded groups, or never knowing when their next contact with someone will occur. If all else fails, they will chat to strangers in a supermarket queue, or hang around a bus stop, hoping to converse with anyone who happens by. Society views solitude as a disease to be cured, and the people who actively seek it as sufferers.

I think it’s time to reconsider, and to value this time of peace, reflection, and self-awareness. Celebrate those who cope nicely on their own, or decide to spend time in their own company. It is true that you can be alone in a crowd, if you choose to be. But just as true that you are sometimes never allowed to be alone, when you want to be.

Let me know your take on it, in the comments.

And have a peaceful Sunday. In solitude, if you want it that way.

Accelerated Decrepitude: A Re-Post

I came across this old post, from 2013. I appear to have been in a bit of a state at the time, and now I am five years older!

I seem to be developing a condition shared by J.F. Sebastian, and the Replicants, in the film ‘Blade Runner’; namely, accelerated decrepitude. The rapid advancement of the symptoms of old age continues to rampage through my physical person, exaggerating the slightest conditions into ones that are immediately debilitating. I had hoped that this move to the countryside would endow me with increased abilities, and banish many of my previous maladies. It seems that the reverse is true, and country living is only highlighting my limitations, and driving me down to new lows.

I have recently mentioned the sudden onset of eczema. What started as an itchy chest, now looks set to consume my entire skin surface. Currently, only my face is spared; though the sight of the rash appearing around the base of my neck makes me feel that it won’t be too long before assimilation is complete. The chemicals prescribed by my doctor do not seem to be helping much. I have turned instead to organic remedies; in particular, a balm made from various herbs, including St John’s Wort, encased in a paste of beeswax. If it doesn’t cure the rash, it may make me more attractive to honey bees.

I was woken by a severe cramp in my right leg recently, more painful than any I had previously experienced. I realised immediately that I had to get out of bed, and get that leg straightened. I jumped out, and assumed the characteristic pose of the flamingo, perched on one leg, with the other thrashing back and forth, like a rugby player attempting numerous shots at goal. (Perhaps I should not compare this to a flamingo at all, on reflection. That elegant and sedate bird is unlikely to be flattered by being likened to a flabby 60-odd year old man, cavorting naked around a bedroom in a Norfolk village.) These strange antics achieved mixed results. I did manage to reduce the cramp, and diminish the pain. But in doing so, I also happened to pull the calf muscle in my right leg, which has now hurt me all week.

I have previously mentioned my increasing dependency on reading glasses. This has now become an obsession. I always have to know where they are, and have them to hand at any time. This became ridiculous earlier this week, when I wanted to look at some post that had just arrived. I went into the living room to fetch my glasses, and could not find them. I began a systematic search of all the rooms, even though I was fully aware that I had not been into at least three of them. After a search that would have graced a crime scene investigation, I became annoyed, and resolved to get the spare pair, from my car in the driveway outside. I found the keys and walked over to the car, immediately dropping them, as I went to point the ‘beeper’ at the lock. Bending down to retrieve them, I noticed something else fall nearby. It was the lost glasses; they had been on my head all the time. I felt as if I was in a scene from an unfunny sitcom, and decided that I had finally become a cross between Mr Magoo, and Terry Scott.

Plagued by the itchy rash at night, I have been unable to sleep properly, resulting in my staying up even later than usual, and trying to doze on the sofa. I have avoided the bedroom, as my constant unconscious scratching does little to help, and only serves to keep poor Julie awake, before she has a long day at work. This strange half-waking existence has meant that I spend most of the day in a haze, get little or nothing done, and become even more forgetful, with life going in a constant, downward spiral.

I confess that I am always wondering what will happen next. What exacerbation of ailment, or arrival of new illness can I expect to greet tomorrow? I can only repeat my previous exhortation to all of you lucky enough to still be under forty years of age. Do it all now. Whatever it is, get it done while you are still capable of doing it. Before you know it, you will be a member of an unfortunate club. One that I appear to have joined, along with J.F.Sebastian and the Nexus-6 variants.

It’s starting already

As everyone knows, yesterday was the first of October.

Of course, it immediately started with a vengeance. I received emails for Halloween ‘specials’. A flyer came through the door, advertising a local supermarket. Pumpkins were on sale, and already reduced.

Some bloggers were starting early too, mentioning special ‘scary’ film posts, building up to the supposed wonder of Halloween.

Then I went out late afternoon, to do my usual ‘big shop’. I could have been very confused. I may well have believed it was already the 30th, not the 1st. Costumes on sale, alongside socks with pumpkins on them, tights with skulls printed on them; witches’ hats, plastic brooms, and tubs of sweets for trick or treat. Once I got to the food aisles, I discovered a new phenomenon, ‘Halloween Food’. It seems that multi-packs of sausages, large boxes of oven-ready nibbles, and various designs of chicken bites, are all now required eating on the 31st.

The long confectionery section was also laden with ‘special’ boxes and packets. The same old sweets and biscuits, their wrappers in fancy dress, to cash in on Halloween. Obviously, a chocolate wafer biscuit is more appealing if it has a cartoon pumpkin on the wrapper, dressed as a witch. That makes them taste better, I’m sure.

OK, I am an old grump, and I hate Halloween. For someone of my age, in England, it is relatively new, and did not feature here at all, until I was in my late thirties.
But come on, consumers. Are you really going to keep falling for this crap every year?

Sadly, I suspect you are.