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As a business owner, like many others the term lockdown sends a shiver down my spine. Loss of income, possible loss of clientele, my workforce suffering and as a person who has immense work ethic, loss of sanity.

As a widowed single man loss of sanity is the greatest single challenge. Get up in the morning, shower, no real paperwork to do apart from emails to current clients to keep them informed of our current plans. No phone calls from prospective new clients wishing to book surveys for new contracts. Generally no contact with the outside world apart from a daily Face Time call with my daughters and son.

Lockdown we’re in it so I have to make the best of it. So how do I fill my day? Well, after about 14 days of trying to find things to do apart from watching rolling news programs, mowing the grass and generally pottering, there’s only so much of that you can do, I’ve decided to resume my blog after two years.

On the lead up to the lockdown here in the UK many people dismissed the idea of a worldwide pandemic ever affecting our small island. However, after decimating the city of Wuhan in China this unstoppable virus like the black death, Spanish flu, countless wars and conflicts over the centuries has progressed to destroy lives all over our world.

In early March 2020 the first of my Covid19 business decisions had to be made. My son, Nathan had been tracking the virus and had been keeping me posted. At that time he was working alongside one of my other guys, his apprentice and was concerned the guy may have contracted the disease. Over the weekend Nathan phoned me. “Dad, I think he may have it, his partner has a high temperature also.” I told him I’d make the phone call the following day, Sunday to check up. I made the call and asked the guy how he was feeling and how his partner was. “I’m fine all good and so’s she” was the answer. Okay, do you feel well enough to work? “Kev, I’m fine” Both Nathan and the apprentice went to work on the following Monday. That evening at around 23.00hrs I received a call from Nathan. “Dad, he’s had to take his daughter to hospital with a very high temperature” Okay son, he can’t work from now for at least 14 days, as per the Government guidelines, I’ll phone you in the morning. Over that night and into the early hours of March 17th I made the decision to pull them off the job they were working on and to tell the client of the situation.

In the morning I made the phone call to the client, easy call really they totally understood, fortunately they had a working bathroom and I told them I’d keep in touch. Meanwhile Nathan was showing mild symptoms of Covid19, runny nose, cough but no temperature. He decided to self isolate for 7 days as he lives alone.

On Monday 23rd March following the 5pm briefing the most of the UK was put into partial lockdown following an increase in the death rate due to the virus. I went to work on the Tuesday at a refurbishment which at that time was running on time. I discussed a plan of action with Nathan and my team, we decided that we weren’t essential workers because basically our business is based on want and not need. We needed to complete the bathroom Nathan had been working on and I needed to make calls to find out about our supply chain.

I found out from my contacts part of our supply chain had already closed. The second client I phoned wasn’t as understanding as the first. I explained the kitchen was currently still being delivered but the stone worktop manufacturer had already closed. “Where does that leave us?” I explained they had a perfectly good bathroom and three bedrooms and we could give them a temporary sink and a washing machine. I also explained my responsibility to their safety, my safety and the safety of our workforce, I added the condition of Nathan and the apprentice plus another who had also self isolated. “We’ll have to think about it, we’ll be back in touch!” Phone went dead.

They don’t deserve this the selfish bastards was the general consensus of the team. Trying to see both sides I explained I could see their point of view, they’d been out of their house for 6 weeks (albeit 4 weeks on holiday in Cyprus). My phone rang. “Okay Kevin if you could give us a temporary sink. Is there anything you can do working on your own there?” What part of lockdown don’t you get? I thought. No nothing I can do except ask the decorator if he minds working here alone. “Thank you Kevin” Decorator agreed and most, not all, was completed by the end of the week.

My point is, the irresponsible attitude of the second client is exactly the way this virus spreads and people die. I hope by taking this stance I’m putting “People before Profit” I value the lives of my workforce, their families and indeed my own family.

No one should have to suffer the effects of this horrendous virus if it can at be prevented.

STAY AT HOME unless you really have to go out. Give your family friends, neighbours and the rest of humanity a chance. Protect each other! Appreciate those who are working on our behalf on the front line. Doctors, nurses and all other key workers. Give a thought to our Government who also are doing all they can. This next one is also important: Be Patient!

Frustrating democracy

The title says it all….I can’t believe what I’ve been hearing over the last few months, the sniping, the bitterness and the sheer hatred that we as a nation seemed to have developed for one another, all over a democratic vote.

I’ve been eligible to vote for the last fifty five years and I’ve never missed the opportunity to cast that vote wether it’s been local or national elections.  So, when very early in my voting career our beloved UK democratically voted to join the then “European common market” and the vote went in the opposite direction to my views did the voting public (Me and a shed load of others) try to get the vote overturned?  No! Even though we were warned that our fishing waters would be threatened,  our sovereignty might be eventually threatened and we might lose our beloved pound ( Sterling not weight) we all respected the democratic vote.

So what’s gone wrong forty years later?  There’s no longer respect for democracy, which in turn means society as a whole has lost respect for the opinion of its fellow voters.

On a daily basis we hear politicians from the left droning on about the NHS, schools and the lack of funding, food banks, jobs, zero hours contracts while berating other parties attempts to solve the problems.  How do you solve the above without driving our fragile economy into the ground like a spitfire which has been shot out of the sky by a prowling enemy fighter?  Taxes have to rise!

If the parliamentary right raise taxes what happens?  The naive amongst us vote in the left, then what?  The left borrows more and more until it can’t borrow any more then it gets voted out because it destroys the economy and  back comes the right and austerity.

So the circle continues until one day a mischief maker gets thrown into the mix in the form of a far right party disguising itself as a saviour for all problems.  That’ll be UKIP then,  its leader (who’s an elected MEP) eventually puts so much pressure on the elected sovereign government so that eventually its forced to make promises it doesn’t really want to carry out!

In the interest of political harmony the Prime Minister of the day  calls for a referendum which he expects to win…in or out of the EU.  He didn’t expect, even consider losing the vote, assuming wrongly of course,  the nation was happy with it’s lot.

Of course history will record that after that referendum our nation became divided in a roughly fifty fifty split with the let’s get out fifty percent (including me) winning the vote, not to do damage to the UK but to say. “ Hey! We want to govern ourselves, nor be governed by a faceless bunch of power hungry corrupt  European politicians with a thousand year axe to grind!

Worst (or maybe the best) thing to come out of the referendum?  The Prime Minister of the day, David Cameron resigns!  WTF? What sort of cowardly gesture is that?  So you lose at snakes and ladders so you take your board home,  you’re playing footie in the park with your daughter and she puts one past you, so you sulk and take the said daughter home.  No,  Cameron, as blue as I am,  that was the action of a coward.  Faced with adversity you should of stood up with your head held high and carried on leading the country.  Instead you left the country and your party in disarray!

To get to the point though finally,  Mrs May although on the face of it seems to struggle,  I sense she’s a determined Prime Minister, straight down the line,  not easily threatened by the male dominated echelons of her party.  I sense although she’s a politician and she seems to keep her cards hidden she’s probably just about as honest as a politician will get, which of course intimidates not only the male members of her own party but the fence hopping members of the  ( we’ll say anything or change any view to gain back power)  Labour Party.

Our Teresa has had a difficult time dealing with the likes of Bernier and the smug Tusk,  so lets unite and get behind her, if nessesary emailing our own MPs exaggerating the need to put political ambition to one side and for unity and solidarity within our government for the sake of our United Kingdom and the future of our children, grandchildren and nation.

One final thought,  if my children argued they were denied privileges, no computer games, ice cream, whatever.  The more you politicians fight amongst yourselves, the weaker we look as a nation and the lees likely you are to keep your jobs next time around!

Thank you as ever for reading ??


Continue reading Frustrating democracy

Going Back

Back in January Yvonne my sister told me she was taking a holiday to Gran Canaria along with Tom, Rosie and Lana, Tom’s girlfriend.  Quite a big step a couple of months after she’d lost the love of her life Steve in a tragic road accident while cycling home from work.

“Brilliant!” I told her, “I know the island like the back of my hand,  Julie and I used to visit Gran Canaria sometimes three times a year!” Then without thinking whether or not I’d be intruding. ” I could do with a holiday I could come and show you around.”

“That’d be really nice Kev” was Yvonne’s reply and she gave me the details of the hotel she was staying in etc. So within an hour I’d booked  holiday, car and parking! 

A couple of days before the flight I started to feel a little down and apprehensive, not because I was going away with my sister and her family, I was looking forward to that because I know how hard Steve’s death had hit them all but this was the first time back without Julie.

After landing at Las Palmas and The familiar heat hit me as as we stepped off the plane, Julie really loved that.  I’d told Yvonne during the flight it felt like going home, visiting Gran Canaria.  Julie and I used to go there sometimes three times a year in fact we’d planned to retire here, buy a small duplex  and grow old together while getting brown and wrinkly in the sun.

Of course that was never to be, our last visit to Melonaras was in 2008,  the following year we had an unplanned trip to Australia then in 2010 she started to become ill then over the next months and years and due to her condition she never felt like she wanted to stray far from home.

Anyway the rest they say is history.  Of course if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I had a couple of forays abroad last year but pleasant though they were,  these only served to reinforce to me life was never going to be the same without the girl I loved.

After a few drinks with lots of conversation on that first evening, I got up early this morning and decided after breakfast to go for a long walk both to clear my head and to see how I really felt emotionally about my return to Gran Canaria.

Well I’m pleased to report, the sun still shines and the sea is still blue, the palm trees still sway and wave their fronds in the gentle warm breeze and the parakeets still chatter excitedly. I think Gran Canaria has won a couple of extra fans too, Yvonne seems to be able to relax a little, while Tom, Rosie and Lana seem pretty happy to be here too.

Most importantly for me though is I think I felt Julie with me on that walk, holding my hand and whispering in my ear.  “You must come back my darling, I’ll always be by your side.”

Thanks for reading ???


Failure or Success?

img_3308Failure and success, two totally different words but how do you interpret them?  Some people think they’ve failed because financial goals haven’t been reached, others judge success by monetary or material means.  Me? I see success as small goals reached, by the amount of response from others positive or negative, because at least someone’s been listening, right? I never judge or assume failure in anyone because I assume they’ve all tried their best and will carry on trying until they feel they’ve achieved.  I feel whoever the person, whatever they do, if they’re happy in their own skin and can sleep at night then they have a right to feel they’ve succeeded.

One thing I’ve learned about people over the last sixty years is we’re all different.  Some can address all the problems and challenges thrown at them by life, I’m one of those, or so I’m told.  Others need to be reassured at every turn and twist.

I’m fortunate, I believe, I’ve succeeded in along with my late wife, Julie, in raising a family who all care for one another and are considerate to their fellow humans.  I’ve  succeeded in getting this far in life without making too many enemies, life’s too short for that!  Oh, there are a few who would disagree but on the whole I’ve lived my life as a good man.  I succeeded in my marriage by standing by my lovely wife who I’d been married to for thirty five years before the cancer snatched her away at fifty seven.

During one of the final conversations we had a couple of days before she died Julie told me “Kev, you’ve been a wonderful father and a lovely husband my darling”.  I replied. “Well sweetie, I figured you did the richer for poorer bit so I did the in sickness and health”  then “Look I know you’re struggling sweet, don’t hang around here for me”  Julie replied, the brave lady she was. “My darling you’re going to have to tell me to go”.  That’s exactly what happened two days later when Julie was struggling to stay with us, I looked at my three children and told them, “you need to tell your mum it’s o.k. to leave”.  More or less as one they gently said.  “Don’t worry Mum, we’ll look after Dad”.  Julie took a final breath and gasped “I love you all”, then she was gone.

Going through that I wasn’t quite so sad, but I felt proud of Julie and pride in our children.  So any time you feel you’re failing, read these humble words I’ve shared, look life in the eye and it will show you the way but never be afraid and see everything you do as a success…..

By the way, if you think there’s a couple of people missing from the photo above, Si was at work and Freddie wasn’t yet born. xxx

Thanks for reading 🙂


Married on the Rock (1)

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?????

Super Saturday and a little training


This Saturday I’ve had to spend in the office,pricing jobs, a total of 6 hours today!  Nathan & Georgia have landed back at Gatwick from Florida and guess what….it’s snowing there and they can’t get off the ‘plane yet 🙂 I’ll bet that’s a shock to the system after sunny stateside.

Julie doesn’t seem too bad today, busy concentrating on her own blog as well as continuing to set up my pages (that’ll be her training me!, you didn’t think I set this up all on my own, did you?)

I’m running a bit behind with my Kev’s Kitchen recipes so better concentrate on them tomorrow.  Oh and before you ask, these are all my own work 🙂