Category Archives: Daily Life


From the West Allen Valley, Northumberland. Wishing you all a bountiful New Year to come.
From the West Allen Valley, Northumberland. Wishing you all a bountiful New Year to come.

Supermarket plastic carrier bags have become an issue in Britain. Probably the case all around the world. Certain for the fish and marine life that fall foul of them under the oceans. They are a life and death issue for all of us. Plastic carrier bags at supermarkets are now no longer free encouraging shoppers to bring our own bags and reuse them. The monies collected for bags, 5p, is given to local charities, nobody can argue with that, nor the attempt to minimize the amount of wild plastic floating around the world. Actually and metaphorically.

I’m mindful to have my ‘bags for life’, sturdy plastic ones, with me at all times ready to load my shopping into. I’ve been doing this for years but they don’t last for life! The other day a handle became detached and the supermarket I’d bought it from originally pledges to replace broken bags, free of charge. But…. But the replacements are plain black with white writing, no pattern like the original. It had a design I’d grown to love and appreciate, much like an old friend. Clearly I’d have to develop a new friendship with the replacement.

Receiving my plain black and white (shiny) number this afternoon the young man behind the till said enthusiastically, Slick aren’t they! And with that my whole attitude changed. Changed on the turn of one word. SLICK! Instant affinity with my new shopping companion which I will never leave at home. I’ll not get all psychological about this particular turn-around of attitude, enough to say the world, one’s own world and outlook can change on a single word. For good or ill. Amazing! Ah, the power of words. A reminder to take care with what escapes lips or pen.

Last week-end at Throssel had me out walking in the West Allen Valley where you can see from the above photograph snow had fallen. Temperatures had fallen too. I included myself in the picture just to personally wish you a Happy and Contented New Year to come.

The photograph is tending towards black and white, however slick it is not!

Ongoing Flowing

The river surrenders to
fallen trees, bushes
dead birds, marooned goat, barbed wire
Oh heck!

The river-deep, rocks
jagged, rounded, to gravel, to sand
rolling, grinding, turning
……deeper yet. Deeper deeper.

The river!  Looking up – sky!
Playing a merry dance
Stretching, falling together.

The river – Ah! The sky – Oh!
No place to hang a hat
No ‘now’?
and yet….

Thinking – grace in movement.

I’ll now climb aboard and drive to Throssel in brilliant sunshine with temperatures falling as I climb higher over the Pennines at Hartside Crossing. See view from the webcam up there.

For those who are tempted to believe that all there is to this life is what one sees and knows.

What Is – The Smile?

Durham 1
We are heading towards the shortest day (of daylight), that’s the 21st December. After that the turning of the year will slowly, slowly bring us into Spring and then Summer. There is a rhythm to our living is there not? However at this time of year living seems, for some, to come to a standstill. I supplement with extra light as I am prone to low mood or as it’s called, The Winter Blues. No shame in that and many people benefit from adding some extra sunshine into their lives when the real thing is hidden behind clouds, much of the time.

Continuing on the theme of humour, which brings on a smile, here are the words to a song surely all or most know. Sing along and bring a smile to your heart. One does not need to be grinning from ear to ear to show happy. The smile is on the inside after all and can be there what ever the weather, or time of the year. How so?

When the fears and troubles fade into the background of ones consciousness, as they surely will given half a chance, The inside smile will show through….because it never leaves us. There is Joy in living past and deeper than what we manufacture. Especially at this time of year with all the ho, ho, ho and jingling bells it’s time to find the smile that is always there.

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
Smile lyrics © BOURNE CO.

Thanks to Mark for the photo of Durham Cathedral taken the other day and to Ian for posting the above song in the comments. Both photo and song have me now posting. Cumbria is getting back on track after the  floods and damage to infrastructure which has impacted everybody. Merit to all those who have been caught up it the devastating effects of floods to their homes. Oh and light therapy is not the cure all for low mood, depression and or despair. These are debilitating conditions which go deep into ones being, professional help can help. The first step towards help can be the hardest, after that the steps are a little easier.

Turning In Turning Out

Looking out - over Milnthorpe Sands
Looking out – over Milnthorpe Sands

This morning I bumped into the news of what happened in Paris last night and found myself deeply shocked. I felt oddly disoriented but knew that reading more about the event, keeping up with the breaking news is not the way to go. So I did all those things that are second nature; offer a candle, incense, recite a scripture and sit and meditate.

The disorientation remained although in a moment of clarity I realized that the spotlight of truth was shining on impermanence, one of the three signs of existence. And when that happens nothing escapes this truth, not one atom. No wonder there is disorientation, ‘what can one rely on’? So eventually, feeling in reflective mood, I went for a walk. I’ve a brown waterproof jacket and a bright terracotta one.  I had read the following in an email yesterday and I deliberately chose the brown one over the more cheery one. In a way I simply wanted to remain inward looking for a time. To reflect and be still as I walked out into the drizzle. And just sometimes one can be indulgent of oneself, which ever way one goes – bright or dark.

My correspondent (who is responding here to the post titled A Delicate Transformation), has a good point and I am glad to be able to share it with you.

I was very interested in your blog post on attention to dressing.  Many years ago I noticed that the way I was dressing was conditioned by my mood swings. The ‘highs’ resulted in extravagant behaviour and dress, the ‘ego explosion’ in the quote. The  ‘lows’ brought depressed behaviour and a loss of interest in all things, including appearance.
I started to pay more attention to this and decided that, no matter the feelings whether high or low, I should take care with my appearance. Even when my day starts in a landscape of bleak greyness, I can bring light in with a well-ironed, colourful shirt and well-fitting trousers. My mood lightens, I feel better about myself. The last attention to appearance is to put on a smile. I can leave home wearing nice clothes and a smile. People respond to a smile from a well dressed person and I benefit from their response to me.

What I am doing is turning outward from the inner pain, opening myself up to life and life always responds.

What ever the colour, what ever the weather, what ever the human tragedy, what ever it is the Great Earth (everything) rises up to greet us. Our job is to respond appropriately and with depth to our hearts. Much merit flowing into the world this evening.

Life/Death – Close Together

This morning tootling along narrow Cumbrian lanes between dripping hedges following the on/off brake lights ahead. Listening to the radio. A road diversion due to flooding I presumed but unprepared for. A 20 min drive took an hour! However, good old Radio 4 had me fully engaged (as well as driving of course) with an interview about death and dying. A popular subject. Here is the introductory blurb,.

David Schneider is terrified of death. In his two editions of One to One he wants to try to overcome his fear by talking to those who have first-hand understanding of dying. In this programme, he talks to Palliative Care consultant, Kathryn Mannix. With almost forty years of clinical experience and witnessing over twelve thousand deaths, she believes that a ‘good death’ is possible even when you are seriously ill. She explains the process of dying to David. This, she believes, if accepted by the patient, removes much of the anxiety and fear surrounding the end of life.

Two bundles of information stand out and I’ll remember them for myself (I am well and fine) and for others approaching death. For those in Britain who can listen to the podcast I highly recommend doing so.

One: The vast majority of people pop off when attending loved ones are out of the room for a moment. It just seems there is a preference to fade out of this world when there is a chance people who love you are not around to hold onto your heels! My mother chose her moment, I believe. My dad and I knew she was close to death in the hospital but decided to go home and finish cooking the Christmas Cake and would come back later. Our return ended up having us washing her body not seeing her breath her last. That was fine.

Two: Kathryn Mannix had witnessed thousands of deaths and the process  followed a similar pattern. Going from needing more sleep to sleeping more and being awake less and less and eventually drifting into unconsciousness and dying. Peacefully. Ones worries about being in agony and frightening people, happens but rarely apparently.

Oh I seem a bit cavalier on this subject but as a woman said to me the other evening on the phone, I don’t know how to put this Mugo but it seems life and death are very close together. I respond by saying I think you have put it very well indeed. This thought of hers and what I took away from this mornings program has me better informed and more at ease about death, mine and others.

The post is for the man who lost control of his van yesterday which then entered the swift flowing waters of the River Kent. Today he was found dead in the river.