Monthly Archives: March 2016

Married on the Rock (1)

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See this? This is the famous rock of Gibraltar.  This tiny outpost of the British Empire has stood guard not only over the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, commonly known as the Straits of Gibraltar,  but also the Bay of Gibraltar, guarding against the Spanish, the Moors, the Germans and whoever knows what else.

In my family “The Rock” is also famous for a darker reason, for this is where my father was convicted of attempted murder in the mid 1950s. Now my Dad although violent wasn’t a man who would go out and look for trouble, it sort of came to him.  A bunch of Spaniards made the mistake of calling him “a filthy English bastard” so he put about, with a little help from his mate, 15 or so of them in hospital, with varying degrees of injuries from a mere broken arm to a more serious “in a wheelchair”.  The only fact which saved him from the gallows was he was a Submariner and his skipper stood his corner and Mr Atkins senior took his punishment like a man!  His punishment? He had to scrub the gallows everyday for six months.  Not a story to be proud of but when Dad told it was funny.

Back to today, after being held on the apron of Heathrow Airport for nearly an hour thanks to French Air Traffic Control, I arrived in Gibraltar then at The Rock Hotel.

imageAfter unpacking, I set about the tasks I had set myself for the first day. First to find the registry office,  so Linda can get the paperwork in order for the forthcoming wedding.  Mission complete!  Next have a mooch around to find a suitable place for photographs, no problem there either, there’s a botanical gardens just across the road from the hotel?.  Finally to find a restaurant away from the hotel as hotel food tends to be pretty basic and “samey”.  Hmm, now that proved to be more of a problem. As in the UK today it’s Easter Sunday and most, not all, eateries seemed to be closed!  Off course the usual suspects like Burger King and Costa Coffee were open but who wants that? Certainly not this traveller.

Then after crossing the square, going under an arch, I found a suitable candidate, Goucho’s.  Now this restaurant has all I was looking for, meat, poultry, salad and fish also, importantly atmosphere and character.  I decided upon a starter which would be difficult to cook, Argentinian Morcilla (fried black pudding on lettuce with balsamic vinegar). Not bad but I’ve tasted better but there are a lot more started to choose from so I give the starter 4/5.  For my main I went for fresh caught Dorada, sautéed potatoes, with a side of blue cheese filled beef tomato.  The fish was plump, juicy and cooked to perfection, it fell off the bone, the dish was excellent, 5/5.  This will be the restaurant of choice during my stay I think?.  Washed down with an excellent glass of Spanish red wine and a bottle of fizzy water, good attentive service and a price tag of £33.00, well worth the walk!

Watch out for further updates on my travels over the coming days, Thanks for reading?????

“Synchronicity”

I learned last Friday one of my relatives passed over.  You get to a certain stage of your life and it’s true, you do go to more funerals than weddings.   My cousin, Michelle contacted me to let me know her mum,  my Aunt Mary moved to the next life early on that Friday morning.

I hadn’t seen Mary for maybe forty years, so was it coincidence on the Tuesday of the same week I had told someone about a period during my early life while still at school, when I lived in her home?  No it wasn’t,  it was synchronicity, that little thing that drives the universe, call it fate, karma, whatever you want, if you know about synchronicity you start to understand life and the way it works.

My heart goes out to Michelle, her older brother Vic and her sister Val because their mum had been both mum and dad since the mid 1960’s when their father, my uncle Vic, died after battling cancer.  So Mary has moved on now and as hard as it seems my three cousins, life goes on and you’ll never forget her and you’ll always love her.  Nor will she ever leave you entirely, she’ll always be there to guide you when you need guiding, influence your decisions when you’re undecided and love you when you feel unloved.

This is what synchronicity is and does, it not only drives this life but all life, before, now and future, pulling together little things that match then gluing them together, making life go on and be purposeful.  Hard to believe with so much pain, horror and greed throughout the world?

Thanks for reading?

Life As A Widower 2 (6 months on)

IMG_0069I can’t believe it was six months ago today the love of my life for forty years, Julie, died from cancer.  Do I miss her?  You bet I do, she’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to  sleep.  Only someone whose been through this would understand and I hope although against hope you won’t have to live through this experience, although unfortunately life dictates a good percentage of you will.

Luckily my family are all grown up, although I’m unsure whether this makes it harder or easier for  them,  my two lovely daughters, Leah and Hannah and my son Nathan have been and still are very supportive along with their respective partners, Simon, Leah’s husband, Matt, Hannah’s partner and the lovely Georgia, Nathan’s fiancée.  photo(29)These six, along with my three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie are the main focus of my life, as they too need support from time to time of course.

So what about me?  Well I went to Tenerife in January to visit my long time friends, Linda and Peter, Julie and I had some great times with them and they’re the sort who no matter how much time between  talking or seeing each other, we just pick up where we left off.  I’m off to Gibraltar on March 27th to meet them and to be best man at their wedding on the 30th at The Rock Hotel 🙂  Then back to Tenerife for more celebrations, really looking forward to that trip!  I love the island, I’m able to sit and write without disturbance and have been able to concentrate on my first novel, “Soulmates” which is, apparently, so I’m told, turning into a really good read!

In November I’m flying to Florida with Nathan, Georgia and her parents to look over the wedding venue with them ready for 2018, looking forward to that trip too. 🙂

I’ve learned changing my bedding and fighting the duvet cover every week is a much better workout than jogging.  I’ve found I can deal with almost any problem now because life’s too short to tolerate most of the bureaucratic bullshit that confronts us all throughout our daily lives.  I’ve also learned to say no whenever I feel I’m being taken advantage of.

I’ve found out I’ve high cholesterol, high blood pressure and may be diabetic which is quite strange really because I cook and eat healthily, and I’m always active.  So armed with information, I eat more fruit, don’t take sugar in my coffee and only drink red wine generally at weekends.  I’ve also cut out the medication which treated me for depression, (before I lost Julie and not as a result of).  Do I feel better?  I don’t know, what I do know though is now life has a certain clarity to it, the sort of clarity which makes you unafraid to forge ahead, not be coerced into doing things I don’t want to do just to please.

Are there things I miss apart from my wife?   I miss travelling with her, her witty conversation, her wry humour, companionship, her undivided love.

The one thing I don’t miss?  Julie and I were instrumental in setting up a comedy drama group twenty years ago, did they support her when she was ill, no.  In fact I had to go to a meeting and explain to them how ill Julie was and still they expected us to go down and “help”, they expected me to go and build sets, even when she was having chemotherapy and dying.  Well members of that drama group, I hope you all can live with yourselves, maybe now you believe just how ill she was!  You know the beauty of not naming them is they know who they are, they have to live with themselves because when we resigned from the group due to Julie’s illness, we were never even offered a lifetime pass even though for many years Julie and I worked hard for the group, many times at financial cost to ourselves.  In Julie’s words “Fuck ’em, they’re all up their own arses and have to live with themselves”

Being a widower (or a widow) I guess,  sends you into a world of sometimes darkness, sometimes despair, loneliness at times when you miss the love of your life,  but I think also a voyage of self discovery until you meet the love of your life once more xxxx

Thanks for  reading 🙂

“BREXIT” Bullies?

I posted on Facebook this week regarding the threats from the French Leadership saying they would ensure the UK would suffer the consequences of EU exit by opening up the borders in Calais thus flooding our country with migrants.  They, (and David Cameron) seem to have overlooked the contents of the 1991 Canterbury Treaty, this 24 page document was brought to my attention by my lovely niece Rebecca Goodson, who having studied politics and obviously concentrated on her subject,  remembered the contents of the said treaty.  It’s far too long to post on this Blog but here’s the link:-

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273131/2366.pdf

It’s worth a read because as Rebecca points out, The 1991 Canterbury Treaty is legally binding, thanks Becca 🙂

The French also threatened to entice banks and business to their already over taxed country, as a businessman, I can’t envisage any company wishing to pay 60% corporation tax when the rate in the UK is 20% less, can you?

German motor manufacturer BMW have also been in the news this week, writing to their UK employees.  It starts:

“The decision on whether to stay in the EU or not is for British voters to decide on in June. The BMW Group and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars believe that the UK is better as a member of the EU than it would be outside it.” It continues:

“Finally, we get a significant benefit from the easy movement of our people between the UK and Europe. This allows the rapid transfer of expert knowledge throughout Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Group networks, building the skill level of our UK workforce. Our employment base could also be affected, with skilled men and women from most EU countries included in the 30 nationalities currently represented at the Home of Rolls-Royce here at Goodwood”

The whole of the letter can be read online but I draw this conclusion, BMW are making veiled threats to their employees, a typical action from the other half of a bullying duo made up of Germany and France!  An alliance only interested in ensuring the longevity of their own countries.  Sound familiar? Shades of the past?

I apologise to any of my German, French and Spanish friends, as I don’t place you in the same bucket as the above minority of your countrymen.

I ask our government, politicians, indeed all parties, to lay out honestly the pros and the cons of leaving the EU.  Not to further their own careers, nor to court popularity but for once be totally transparent because this is not about you alone but the future of your children as well as ours!

Finally on this subject, there has been an awful lot of talk about the threat to national security.  Don’t forget we are still members of NATO, as are France and Germany and by association, most of Europe.  So what changes?  Not much.

Thanks for reading. 🙂