Friday, 18 December 2020

English Grammar and Spelling Errors

Some Common English Errors

No one is perfect when it comes to spelling and grammar; we all make mistakes. It is why there are proofreaders in this world! The errors become compounded by modern technology which can cause issues with auto-correct. All too often, especially on the small screen of a mobile phone, it is easy to fail to spot the auto spell has changed a word which you correctly typed. 

There are several increasingly common errors which to be fair to software creators are operator caused. Shall we take a look at some of these? 

The added 'k'.

The word something and nothing is being pronounced, even by people in high positions, as nothink and somethink. What happened to the letter g? Just typing this is making my software get jittery. 

Have and of

Far too often, I now read social media posts and hear in a person's speech the following phrases.

"I should of"
"I could of"
"I would of"

The word 'of' is incorrect and of course, should be the word 'have'. 
I am assuming because we tend to abbreviate (contraction) 'should have' to 'should've'. The ve sound is getting pronounced as 'of' instead of the ending part of the word have. 

The same sound - with different spellings and meanings.

Bored/Board you can be bored in your job. Passenger board a ship. You can chop vegetables on a wooden board.

Brake/Break a car will brake to a stop. You can break a pot.

Loose/Lose not quite the same sound when pronounced, or shouldn't be, but is often miswritten. 
Loose - an item of clothing can be too loose, or a rope can become loose.
Lose - a team can lose the game, you can lose your money.

These are just a few of the many mistakes that I see frequently. Which misspellings or poor English usage upsets you the most? Please leave a comment in the box below.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Dementia and Sport

Dementia a growing problem
Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Dementia is often in the news, and there is a growing concern that those engaged in sport are at risk. There are reports concerning footballers who have developed dementia, and in the news today, England and Lions rugby player Steve Thompson has a diagnosis of dementia at the age of 42.

Footballers and rugby players are in danger of head injuries. Footballers often head the ball, which can be moving at quite a speed which increases the forces passing through the head of the player. In football, the most likely cause of long-term damage is due to the number of times the ball is headed.

Footballer Alan Jarvis dies at the age of 76, and at his inquest, the coroner put the cause of death down as from Alzheimer's caused by his occupation. There is a long list of footballers who are now suffering from dementia including one of my favourite players, former Chesterfield FC's record goal-scorer, Ernie Moss.  His daughter, Nikki Trueman is doing great work in both raising funds and awareness about this terrible condition.

Dementia Research

There is research done on the causes of dementia, but the amount of money needs to be more significant to speed up the solutions as more seem to be developing it. The Alzheimers Society on their website gives some comparison with other illnesses. Below is quoted from the Alzheimers Society website. 

"Dementia research should receive a level of investment that matches the economic and human cost of the condition. The total cost of dementia to the UK is estimated at £26 billion a year but only £90 is spent on dementia research per patient per year (Alzheimer's Society, 2014). This is only a fraction of the amount spent on research into some other health conditions. Progress is being made in securing further investment in dementia research. Since 2009/10, annual government and charity spend on dementia research has increased from £43.6 million to almost £74 million in 2013. However, in 2012/13 cancer research still received seven times that spent on dementia (Alzheimer's Society, 2014). The UK needs a national and long-term plan for dementia research that it is funded in proportion to its impact on society and with greater co-ordination between funders of dementia research."

Is it the ball?

In football, some have blamed the old leather footballs of yesteryear for the problem today. However, retired footballer Alan Shearer took part in a TV documentary on this subject of dementia in footballers. He was surprised to learn that the modern ball is heavier although the old one would be heavier if wet. A doctor connected to Shearer to a machine which measured the impact each time he headed the ball in this test. With every header, it was noticeable that the brain is moved around inside the skull. Those brain movements, much like a boxer receiving blows to the head and the cause of concussion, could be adding up to severe problems later in life.

There is much to learn about dementia. Can it be cured? Perhaps more importantly can it be prevented, and as we know, prevention is better than cure. Dementia is an all too real problem for not just those with it but for their family who has to watch them suffer. 

Further information about dementia

For more information about dementia and there are many types of it, you can visit the websites below.

Age UK

Alzheimer's Society

Dementia UK


Need help to find care?

For those of you looking for care at home or if you need to place your loved one in a care home, visit Care Home Selection (CHS Healthcare) for help in finding this. 

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Roland's Travels

I am due to retire in September 2022 and the way that time seems to go quickly, it won't be too long.

With this in mind, I have started a YouTube Channel, Roland's Travels. The channel will encompass things I like and enjoy. I love history, old buildings, the countryside and nature. My passion is to share this with others, and I like live streaming and making videos. This combination has led me to create this channel and to film such subjects.

I intend to visit as many places as possible before retiring so that I can already have a good catalogue of videos before I concentrate more time when available. 

Starting locally

With the Covid19 pandemic, this means that I will film close to where I live in Wiltshire. However, although this is geographically restrictive, there is a vast amount of subject matter right on my doorstep.

There are many lovely old towns within easy reach. Bradford on Avon is one such town and is where I have already done some live-streaming. You can watch a couple of my videos from my live streams around Bradford on Avon on the channel.

It is early days for the channel, but I hope you will subscribe and share with others so that I can create videos that many will enjoy watching. If there are any places you would like me to film in Wiltshire, please let me know in the comments below, and if they are not already on my to-do list, I will consider adding them to it.  

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

How To Stop a Pandemic

How to stop the Covid-19 pandemic
Photo Courtesy of

has been a real plague on humankind. It is taking its toll both in loss of life, and the downturn in the economy, the spread of the virus has in most parts of the world been relentless. 

Covid-19 Vaccines

A few countries got to grips with it early and took stringent measures to control its spread. Others did little or nothing, and some have been hit and miss in their approach. A considerable effort has been made to produce a vaccine which would generally take ten years to achieve. The vaccines that seem to work best in the results produced so far are likely to be available soon. Of course,  there is a danger in using a vaccine which has not had the same clinical trials that would be normal to make sure that not only is it effective, but safe.

Prevention Better Than Cure

I have previously written a blog post, Prevention Better Than Cure, and this is a saying that is true in handling this Covid-19 pandemic. Avoiding the spread and catching the virus is key to any disease control. For thousands of years, there have been pandemics or plagues as we used to call them. Well before vaccines were a possibility, people have had to deal with them. 

The best way to deal with plagues has always been to limit the spread by isolation, avoiding close contact, wearing a mask, washing of hands and infected materials such as clothing and bed linen. These are simple measures which work, and those countries that took the most vital steps early have prevented and stopped Covid-19 in its tracks. 

Unfortunately, some people seem to have an aversion to taking such preventative measures and protest that this is taking away their freedom. Some seem to think that this is some form of conspiracy. They believe governments want to inject them with a microchip, thinking this will be to control their minds and administered as a Covid-10 vaccine. How sad but real to them in their minds, and they spread this message using social media.

Others minimise the effects of the virus, calling it little more than a cold, and as they aren't in a high-risk group, it will not harm them. There are numerous reports of such healthy young people who have died of Covid-19.  No one can with any certainty say that they will not be badly affected after catching the virus. Doctors are now telling us that there is something described as Long-Covid, which seems to make people weak and sometimes feeling they have recovered revert to a state of unwellness and extreme tiredness.

The answer to stopping the spread of Covid-19 must start with those fundamental principles of hands, face, mask and distance. If the virus can't find a host, it will die and not be able to return. Viruses can change, and we must not rely on vaccines as the only answer. A new strain escaping into the community may be worse than Covid-19 has been to date. It is up to each one of use to be responsible for not just our safety, but that of others. 

Monday, 30 November 2020

Catherine Hill and Cheap Street Frome

Frome is a very attractive old town in Somerset. It has a rich history and some beautiful buildings and streets. In this video, which is from a live-stream shown on Periscope Channel I walk down Catherine Hill and along Cheap Street which has a stream running down its centre. 

Please join me now as we walk through Frome.

To watch more live broadcasts please follow me on Periscope

Saturday, 28 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers Part 6 - Trekking and Towpaths

 Here is number 6 of my favourite YouTube Channels. By the way, these are in no particular order. Today it is Trekking and Towpaths hosted by Ant.

Ant takes us on many walks along old railway lines, canal towpaths and more. It's an enjoyable way to spend a few minutes joining in on the walks and educational too.

I can highly recommend subscribing the Trekking and Towpaths so that you don't miss a single new video. 

On these walks, you will get a taste of Britain's rich industrial heritage as well as see some of the beautiful countryside. 

To go to Trekking and Towpaths click here.

My Favourite YouTubers

Friday, 27 November 2020

A Walk Around Bradford on Avon Wiltshire

 Join me on this walk around the historic town of Bradford on Avon. It has a rich history and built its fortune on the woollen mills and later rubber industry. Many of the oldest buildings and the houses of both poor and wealthy remain in a habitable condition.

There is still standing a Saxon Church. Imagine that - a building still open after 1000 years! 
This really is a lovely little town to visit and explore its narrow roads and steep hillside properties which tell us something about its past. 

This video was originally broadcast live on my Persicope Channel and saved to YouTube to benefit from HD quality video. You can follow me on Periscope to watch future live broadcasts as well explore some of the amazing English towns and countryside.

I have previously walked around the Tithe Barn area in this town too - click here to watch

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers Part 5 - High Peak Autos

Once again I am delighted to recommend another YouTuber to you. The channel is High Peak Autos hosted by Matthew Goodwin who reviews many different cars, many of which are on sale through his business, High Peak Autos.

Matthew, in his videos, drives the cars and gives a candid opinion about them. I like his style of delivery, and his dry sense of humour shines throughout his presentations. I would say that even if you're not that interested in cars, you will like to watch High Peak Autos and find it both entertaining and informative. He films in the beautiful countryside around the edge of and indeed inside the Peak District National Park. 

Please do visit High Peak Autos on YouTube, you will love it!

My Favourite YouTubers 

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A Walk Around Warminster, Wiltshire

There are many interesting towns in Wiltshire. The buildings in these towns and the stories they tell are well worth exploring. It is all too easy to walk through a town centre and look in the shop windows and fail to look up and see something of the former glory of them. 

In this video on my YouTube Channel, Roland's Travels, we take a look at Warminster as I walk through just a part of it. There is more to explore on another occasion. Originally this was a live-stream on my Periscope Channel. I have reduced the length slightly by cutting out some of the walk around the boating lake in Warminster Park.

Friday, 20 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers Part 4 - Living Big in a Tiny House

Many of us dream about living a simpler life and being mortgage-free. Some have achieved that dream by living in tiny houses. In this series of YouTuber recommendations, I am pleased to tell you about Living Big in a Tiny House, hosted by Bryce Langston. 

Bryce is a New Zealand based actor who found himself, as many actors do, out of work. He took an interest in tiny houses and started making YouTube videos, and to his surprise became very popular. He now travels throughout New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Europe visiting tiny homes and finding out about the people who own them. It makes fascinating viewing. 

The channel is growing and Living in Big in a Tiny House will soon have 4 million viewers! Just by watching these videos, you will be inspired in house design and see how to maximise small spaces, so even if you like a larger property that is no bad thing.

My Favourite YouTubers 

Monday, 16 November 2020

The Tithe Barn Bradford on Avon

The Tithe Barn in Bradford on Avon is a remarkable building and has stood here for over 600 years. Built around 1400 it served Shaftesbury Abbey collecting the tithes of the local farmers. It stands next to the Kennet and Avon Canal, and so if you're walking or cycling on the Sustrans Route 4, it's an ideal stop-off point.

Estimates say that it could go back to 1332 but definitely built before 1337 as my research now shows. In the video, I mention 1400, but it was the granary which was added in 1400. 

The building and site are owned and managed by English Heritage, access if free for visitors. The River Avon is also very close with plenty of grass for a picnic on a nice day or call in at one of the cafes. A gift shop is situated in one of the old buildings plus it's worth having a look at the various craft shops and cafe in the adjoining  Tithe Barn workshops.

If you would like a substantial meal, go onto the canal towpath, heading east, and you will arrive at several pubs or walk into the town centre for an even greater choice of eateries. 

I hope you enjoy the video, and please do subscribe to my channel, Roland's Travels for more videos in the future. Here is another video, A Walk Around Bradford on Avon, where we take a look at the town centre and the many fine buildings that are of historic interest.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Bowerhill RAF Airbase - RAF Melksham

RAF Melksham. Last remaining building
RAF Melksham the last remaining building and closed leisure centre

World War 2 created a massive demand for aircrew and aircraft technicians amongst many other vital trades for the war effort. In 1940 land was obtained at Bowerhill Melksham, for a new RAF (Royal Air Force) Station. RAF Melksham was an airbase though without a runway. Aircraft were required on-site and had to be transported in and assembled for the trainees to use.

Little remains now of the airbase except some of the larger buildings which became the Christie Miller Sports Centre, and was closed in 2018 and waiting for a decision on its future. The base was a training facility, and in July 1940 the RAF School of Instrument training moved from RAF Cranwell. Later a branch of the RAF Armament School moved in as well. 

In 1942 the Armament School moved out and was replaced by the RAF Electrical School which moved from Hereford. As the war neared its end, a large number of Royal Navy Air Service mechanics received training here along with many transport drivers. During the war, it was passing-out over 200 tradesmen a week. 

Military personnel better knew RAF Melksham as No.12 School of Technical Training between 1940 and 1965. The base also housed No.10 School of Recruit Training and averaged 100 a week of mainly National Servicemen until the final intake in June 1953 and the which passed out on August 17th 1953. The base closed in 1965, the local council acquired the land and buildings, and this was the start of the present-day industrial estate.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Out and About - The City of Bath - Pulteney Bridge

Pulteney Bridge is one of only four in the world where you will find shops built on it. The City of Bath is a World Heritage Site and has some wonderful buildings, including the Roman Baths.

I had to go to Bath, even though in Lockdown due to Covid-19 as my daughter had to register our newborn grandson. With only one allowed in to register, I took a few minutes to walk in the area of the Register Office and right on the doorstep is Pulteney Bridge.

Pulteney Bridge, designed by Robert Adam in the Palladian style, was opened in 1770. It spans the River Avon and is next to the Pulteney Weir, which when in full flow can generate quite some noise! Join me in this walk as we cross the bridge in both directions and admire the architecture. We also take a glimpse at Bath Abbey.

Please do follow me on Periscope and Twitter  Please click full screen if viewing on a computer.

The bridge is named after Frances Pulteney, wife of William Johnstone Pulteney. The bridge was originally a toll bridge and boundary between parishes, built on the condition that fresh water could be piped across it from the hills to the townhouses.

The City of Bath is packed with fine architecture, particularly Georgian and has many museums and parks well-worthy of a visit. I will bring you more live videos from Bath in the near future, so please do click on the Persicope and Twitter links to follow me. 

Monday, 9 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers Part 3 - Cruising the Cut

We now come to number 3 in my series of blog posts, My Favourite YouTubers.Today we take to the water and recommend, Cruising The Cut. Find out what it is like cruising on England's and Wales' canals and waterways in a narrowboat. David John's gave up his job as an ITV local news reporter in South East England, sold his house and bought a narrowboat.


With regular video postings, the channel is a relaxing way to tour the canals and waterways. David produces excellent videos telling us about life on the narrowboat, and we see plenty of splendid scenery along the way. 

Why Cruising the Cut?

Many may wonder about the title of the channel. A cut is another name for a canal as the canal had to be cut out of the landscape and be filled with water. England's canals go back many years and were all cut by thousands of navvies. The first pure canal in England was the Bridgewater Canal, which initially connected Worsley to Manchester. It was named after the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, who owned many of the coal mines in the North East of the country. The first stretch was opened in 1761, but it was later extended so that it ran all of the way from Runcorn to Leigh.

Canals were relatively short-lived with the advent of the railway, and the majority fell into disrepair and complete closure. There has thankfully been a renaissance with many canal trusts established to repair and reopen many, and there are still many more planned for restoration. The canals nowadays are busy with pleasure traffic and those like David who choose to live on them. 

Please do take a look at the channel, Cruising The Cut, you won't be disappointed.

My Favourite YouTubers

Friday, 6 November 2020

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Prevention is Better than Cure
Karolina Grabowska from Pexels
Prevention is better than cure is an age-old saying. However, when it comes to our health, there is a huge amount of money spent on research and cures, and it seems very little on prevention.

Here in the UK Matt Hancock the Government Health and social care Secretary told BBC Radio,

"In the UK, we are spending £97 billion of public money on treating disease and only £8 billion preventing it across the UK. You don't have to be an economist to see those numbers don't stack up."

When we think about the illnesses that are easily preventable such as diabetes, cost millions of pounds just in the UK alone. The NHS spends £10 million per year on treating diabetics, and this is mainly due to complications, such as amputation, stroke, kidney failure and blindness. 

With preventative measures, diabetes could become a rarity rather than a common condition as it currently is in the UK.

Diabetes can be managed and prevented by the individual. Other conditions might not be so easy, for example, those caused by pollution.  There has been much debate in recent years about the air quality in our towns and cities caused by road traffic and especially diesel engines. 

A UK study of air pollution reported. "Between 2017 and 2025, the total cost to the NHS and social care of air pollution for diseases for which there is more robust evidence for an association is estimated to be £5.56 billion, corresponding to 1.15 million new cases of disease."

Taking responsibility

Each of us can do much to prevent illness. A proper diet and appropriate exercise are vital to playing our part in staying healthy. Smoking, drinking (alcohol), recreational drugs and undue risk-taking can all add to the increase in poor health in our society. 

There is no lack of advice that we can seek, but do make sure it is from reliable sources. 

Thursday, 5 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers Part 2 - Martin Zero

The next YouTuber that I would like to recommend is Martin Fisher. The channel named Martin Zero is a must-watch if you're interested in history. Martin looks at the history mainly in and around Manchester but does occasionally travel further afield. Martin has followed the course of many of the rivers that now flow under Manchester, looked at the old buildings and brings the history to life. 

His most popular video, The Secret Trap Door Under the Canal, is below for your enjoyment and demonstrates Martin's enthusiasm for the history and places in Manchester and beyond.

The River Medlock and Martin Zero

The series of videos following the course of the River Medlock is excellent and shows how as the City of Manchester grew the river was culverted and hidden for the most part as it flows through and under Manchester. Have no fear, though as our intrepid explorer finds his way into those tunnels and shows the viewers and explains the rich history of the area. Martin is fascinated with the rivers, and there are many videos for you to watch and learn more.

Martin Zero - Urban Explorer

There are many old buildings, abandoned and yet with a story to tell. Martin will show you around some of these buildings and let you have an insight into their past use and glory. 

Disused Railways and Tunnels

There is much industrial heritage in the UK and the old railway tracks, tunnels and buildings are incredible to see. Without leaving your home, you can watch on Martin Zero and take a trip into a bygone age of railways, industrial and social history. 

Go to the Channel

Well, that's enough from me! Please visit the channel Martin Zero now to see for yourself.

This is the second part of my series, My Favourite YouTubers.

My Favourite YouTubers

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

My Favourite YouTubers: Part One - Hubnut

Hubnut - celebrating the average

Welcome to the first YouTube Channel that I am delighted to recommend to my readers, Hubnut.

Hubnut, Ian Seaford is a car enthusiast and motoring writer who likes to celebrate the average. His channel reviews old cars and some of those cars often described as dreadful, but which for many have a place in history.

Ian often tinkers with old cars on Hubnut and has a collection of cars which is always subject to sudden change. At the time of writing, he has owned 70 cars in his time, and that will grow. In the current collection which is often featured on the channel and each with their own name is:

Citroen 2CV aka Ellie
Invacar -  TWC pronounced Tuc
Daewoo Matiz -Myrtle
Citreon DS - Giselle
Rover 75 - Rita
Reliant Fox - Foxanne

There are also 2 project cars for future tinkering! 

Car Reviews

Hubnut has a fine collection of videos where old cars are reviewed and test-driven. Ian's knowledge of cars is incredible, and viewers will learn something new as they watch them. They are also entertaining and often include lots of interesting scenery on the journey. Ian has driven across Europe, and a very interesting trek involved taking Ellie the 2CV to Croatia via many countries and stop-offs along the way. His tour of New Zealand and Australia in 2019 was very popular amongst viewers and his faithful band of "Hubnutters".

Triangle of Doom 

Hubnut has become well-known for the expression, "triangle of doom". Ian has a passion for windscreen wipers, and each car which is driven will include a wiper test. If an area where the wipers meet leaves an uncleared triangular area, this is referred to as the triangle of doom. Areas along the edge of the windscreen could well become an "area of disappointment!

To find out more about Hubnut, I recommend a visit to the Hubnut website where you can read more about Ian and his cars as well as buy wonderful merchandise in the Hubnut Store including a Triangle of Doom Mug and T-Shirt.

Whether you are interested in cars or not, I find that this channel appeals to may. My wife, who is definitely not a car enthusiast by nature, has come to look forward to each new Hubnut video and watches along with. The old BBC and ITV channels have now been replaced by YouTube on our TV.

More to come

This is part one of sharing with you my favourite YouTube Channels. They are very varied in their subject, so do, please subscribe to my blog. There is a section in the right-hand column where you can do this

My Favourite YouTubers

Monday, 2 November 2020

Pass the Buck - no responsibility

One of the most annoying things I find in life is to come across people who "pass the buck". 

It seems that a growing number, particularly in the public sector like to get out of their responsibilities and pass them on to others. I suppose the age-old fact remains that if people can get away with shirking their duties, some will take advantage of it. 

The larger the organisation and the more prevalent this can become. We have to lay blame not just with those who "pass the buck", but also with managers who are not aware of what their colleagues are doing or how much work each day they are capable of. Without good management, those with a disposition to be lazy will get away with it.

It is believed the term "pass the buck" orginated in the wild west in the card game, Poker. Players didn't trust each other and so would rotate the dealer. The person dealing would be given a knife to indicate they were dealing and knives genrally had a buck horn handle and hence the term "pass the buck" was created.

It could also be that some who pass on their responsibilities do so, not out of laziness, but out of a lack of confidence. It could well be they have been poorly trained or given tasks that are simply too difficult or too large for them, but in each case, fear to let their managers know they can't cope. If this is the case, the organisation needs to look at its work culture to make sure everyone can freely talk about their workload.

In my experience, the majority of people who like to "pass the buck" fall into the category of wanting to have an easier life and let others do their work. They also don't like the idea of getting into trouble if anything goes wrong but are usually quick to claim any praise when it is forthcoming. 

How do you deal with people who are like this? Please leave a comment in the box below.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Is Letter Writing Dead?

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels
We now truly live in an electronic age. At our disposal, we have smartphones, tablets, computers, and telephones to communicate with people all over the world. In an instant, we can make a call, send a message, email, share a file or photo to the most distant part of the earth. 

It is little wonder that people rarely send a letter to family or friends, other than perhaps greetings cards for special occasions. With the time it takes to create and post a letter plus the postage cost, it is easy to opt for an electronic option.

Letters Mean More

When we do receive a letter, it is probably more special and meaningful than the same words contained in an email. We can appreciate the extra effort in writing and posting it. Another advantage is that we are more likely to keep a letter and look at it in the future rather than an electronic message.

There is also the advantage of a letter in that it can be written on special paper to give even more prestige to it. If written by hand, a fountain pen too can give that extra appeal to the reader, as well as the writer. Some send letters in decorated envelopes and a wax seal to make it more special. There certainly is a variety of options with a letter which are not available through electronic communications.

Fewer Misunderstandings

How often have you sent a text message or email and then found it has been misunderstood? Because it is a quick method to communicate, we often fail to spot errors or the dreaded auto spell has changed a word to give an entirely different meaning to our thoughts. There is also the possibility that if we're upset, we don't take time to think rationally before firing off an email, which once sent is too late to retract. A letter slows us down, we can pick it up, read it, think about it and if necessary bin it. 

Of course, you could apply the principle of waiting for a while before sending an electronic message, but in reality, how likely is that? In my experience not likely at all. 

Never Go Back

Whilst we are never likely to go back to writing letters the way we used to, they can play an important part in our lives and those to whom we send them. There are times when we may write to encourage, to console or to thank, and a letter can have a far more powerful effect. So before you decide that letter writing is truly dead, please think about times you can write a letter and when that arises to get out your pen, paper and envelopes and take a few minutes to write. 

Do you still write letters? When was the last time you wrote to someone? Please feel to express your thoughts by leaving a comment in the box below.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

British Summer Time Ends - Will Mental Health Issues Increase in these Covid19 times?

Photo by Andrew Neel from Pexels
We are rapidly approaching that time of the year when the clocks go back. Yes, British Summer Time (BST) is about to end and our clocks realign with the sun, noon will be at 1200. Here in the UK, it means that although we gain an hour of light in the morning we lose that all-important after-work light, at least until we get into December, when it gets dark very early.

The long summer evenings will once again become a distant memory and the dream of spring and summer next year starts to enter our minds. The lack of daylight is especially problematic for those who work inside and maybe see little daylight during these darker days. We often hear of those who suffer from SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder which can be quite mentally debilitating and for some have an effect on their day to day lives. 

When the clocks change at 2 am on Sunday, October 25th and we wake up, yes it will be lighter but as evening approaches we soon realise what has happened with the loss of that hour of daylight. As I write this we are in the COVID19 pandemic, and many are suffering anxiety and mental health issues due to this. Not being able to mix freely and go about our daily lives the way we used to is having a negative impact. I wonder how much worse this will become during the darker months in the northern hemisphere? 

Surely we will all need to keep in mind those with whom we can't physically meet and increase our contact in other ways, such as video calling. This certainly has many benefits over a standard phone call. To be able to see someone seems much better than just hearing alone.

How are you getting on in these COVID19 days? What are you doing to minimise the effects of loneliness and lack of contact in your family and peer groups? Please add a comment in the box below, it would be good to hear from you. 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Covid-19 - A second wave?


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Covid-19 - A second wave?

Here in the UK, the government is becoming very concerned over the rising levels of Covid-19 and increasing hospital admissions. Many are talking about this being a second-wave of the virus. Is this true?

Indeed for this to be a second wave of Covid-19, the virus would have had to have disappeared from our communities to make a reappearance. It hasn't. The virus has been ever-present since it arrived in this country, and whilst due to the lock-down measure taken in the spring, the numbers went down dramatically it was still a threat. As many predicted the easing of lock-down and in some cases too much easing was allowed in England, such as unlimited travel, the case numbers have been rising. 

We had a really hot summer which went on well into September, and this saw masses go to beaches and hold parties in large numbers, ignoring government guidelines. Many people, especially younger adults, became weary of restrictions and took the view (mistakenly) that they can't die from the virus or become very sick. 

What is perhaps another worrying issue with Covid-19 is that it seems catching it might not give immunity in the future. This article in The Evening Standard, Can You Catch Coronavirus Twice is interesting. The common cold is a strain of coronavirus, and we all know that you can catch colds many times within a short period of time. We also know that no one has found a cure for the common cold. 

Stay Safe

It looks as though we will have to learn to live with Covid-19 in our communities for a considerable period of time unless it somehow burns out by itself. Masks, hand sanitisers, social distancing and other precautions will become a very normal part of daily life. If we all play our part, there is every chance we can beat the virus, but it will take conscious effort and self-sacrifice. 

Take care, and stay safe. Look after each other.

Friday, 25 September 2020

My old 2008 iMac

Over the years I have used my computers. Many laptops and PC's have come and gone. Windows ones often soon outdated and slowed to a crawl and having to be replaced far too soon. 

However, one trusty machine has survived the rigours of use and age, my Apple 2008 iMac. It's still going strong! 

I did double the Ram from 2GB to 4GB and changed the hard drive to SSD when it was around 6 years old. The hard drive was still working, it was just a preference and it has certainly helped with speed, and of course, reliability as the hard drive may well have failed by now. Although it has not been possible to upgrade the operating system for a few years, most things are just great.

One of the advantages of buying Apple seems to be longevity, not just their computers but also tablets and phones, and the fact they work with software far longer and don't slow down. 

Here in the UK, you can buy a good condition iMac 2008 for around £100 which if you're looking for a good quality computer for surfing the web and doing most other basic tasks will serve you well.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

It’s All About You - No it’s Not

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Look after number one

Buy this because you’re worth it

You are the best

There is a trend amongst humankind, and the opening phrases in this post will indicate that it is a trend of selfishness. The ‘me first’ attitude is prevalent and is displayed in everyday life, perhaps more so when from behind the steering wheel of a car!

Although this selfishness is promoted as a way to bring happiness and benefit oneself, the reality is far different. Whilst getting ahead of the game, being first in the queue, getting in front of the car ahead might be appealing, the brief burst of joy is simply an adrenaline rush. It has no real benefit to the person or the human race.

What makes people happy? 

If you consider what makes people really happy you will see that it involves considering others. Those who volunteer and give their time in the service of others will agree with this. As the ‘good book’ says, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” 

There is something built into each of us that when we tap into this brings us pleasure and deeper satisfaction and that is giving. Not just giving in a financial way, but giving of ourselves. Our time, energy and love are amongst the greatest  gifts we can give, and are not only more appreciated by the recipients but develop in the giver a better feeling. They also too are noticed by others and a good example set for them to follow.

Compare this to the ‘look after number one’ lifestyle. These people give nothing to others or society unless they are doing something for purely selfish motives, “I will do this if ..... “. Their attitude is often the cause of road accidents resulting in damage, injury and death, What a waste of life that is! You could change ‘look after number one’ to ‘how be a lonely old fool’.

There has been a great deal of research into comparing those who practice selfishness and those who are generous with their time and assets. Here are 4 key areas that I would like to share with you.


Helping others can give us self-esteem by having a role in society beyond just what we have to do in daily life. For some types of occupations, for example carers, this can already be a valuable benefit in addition to that in other areas of life. My experience tells me that people who are carers are more likely to be caring outside of their professional role, it’s part of their personality.

Many of us though have jobs that don’t have that kind of direct benefit to others. Doing something outside of work that can have an impact on someone in a similar way can help us see that we have more value than pushing buttons on a machine all day. We can do this through volunteering our time in the service of others.

Mental Health

Research shows that volunteers are less likely to suffer from depression, this of course would tie in with self-esteem and seeing in ourselves a value. Rather than sit around and feeling down, doing something for others can keep our minds occupied in a meaningful way.

It has been shown that those coping with grief can be helped by engaging in activities that help others. The actions of giving their time and energies has helped many to overcome their grief much sooner than those who don’t.

Physical Health

If we have good metal health this can lead to better physical health. Depression and other mental health issues can increase the risk of heart attacks. Those who are depressed will often reduce their physical movement too adding to the problems they have. Of course, if our volunteering means we get out more this can mean we engage in physical activity as part of the help we give.

Apparently in one study, middle-aged volunteers appear to have less belly fat, better cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar, compared with non-volunteers. That sounds better than a weekly trip to the slimming club!

Longer Life

By staying in better shape through helping others we can expect to live a longer life. Have you noticed that army of older volunteers in your community? They have a sense of purpose and also a network of friends which can help prevent loneliness.

There are many more reasons why a generous lifestyle is better for us then a selfish one and maybe one day I will cover these in another post. In the meantime, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below. 

Monday, 4 May 2020

How? - Why is it a Good Question?

I KEEP six honest serving-men
 (They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When 
 And How and Where and Who. 

Rudyard Kipling

These verses by Kipling are well known. He used them to help him write. When answering these questions, he would know if his stories made sense to the reader. For any writer or speaker adopting the method of asking these questions will help you sensibly put across your story. 

For me, these questions can also become useful in our daily lives. The question beginning with 'why' produces reasons. Why should I do this? Why will that help me? Having a reason to do something can be helpful and indeed crucial in life. The reason for action will be part of our motivation for accomplishing a task or project. 

I have noticed that some become too interested in the 'why' and fail to ask or focus on 'how'. Let me illustrate that with the following questions. 


Let's ask the question. Why should I be kind? Of course, this will produce some good reasons for why we should. However, the vital question that we will need the answer to is, How can I be kind? It is ultimately the 'how' that will provide us with the knowledge and methods to succeed. 

Another example would be to ask someone who has lost weight why instead of how. Should we ask 'why', it would produce reasons personal to them and might not apply to ourselves? On the other hand, if we ask how they lost weight, that is something that we might be able to replicate and become healthier too. 

Quite some time ago, a multi-millionaire said that people often asked him, why did he become so wealthy. He made it very clear that what they should have asked is, "How did you become wealthy?" Asking why would not benefit the questioners but for sure the "how' certainly would. 

From these examples alone, I hope that you can see the value in asking how more often that why. We will learn much more when we ask how and listen to the answers.

I would love to hear from you, so please do a leave a comment below.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

It’s Good to Walk

Walking is a good for us and an easy form of exercise to take part in.
Many countries, including the United Kingdom, have been in lockdown due to the Coronavirus. Many people have therefore lost the ability to get out and about and engage in keep fit activity and sports.

The U.K Government has allowed its citizens the opportunity to get outside for a period of exercise each day as well as essential reasons. Exercise is defined by the government as a walk, run or cycle ride. This can either be on your own or with those you live with. Areas in parks with exercise equipment have been closed to prevent close contact and the virus being spread on the apparatus. 

Not one for running, I have been trying to get in a brisk daily walk. I downloaded the app Active 10, which is free and very useful. The app is simple to use and works all the time in the background. It measures each day how many minutes you are walking and divides this into brisk and slower walking. You can set a daily goal in 10-minute increments, and for each 10 minute period that you achieve, you are awarded a virtual trophy. The app never has to be started or stopped as it is always on, so you won’t forget to activate it. Merely taking your phone with you is all you have to remember.

Walking is an incredibly useful form of exercise, particularly brisk walking, often described as walking fast enough to still be able to talk but not able to sing. There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of walking and unlike running is unlikely to cause problems with your knees and other joints being damaged by the pounding on pavements. It is also suitable for all ages and the majority of people even with health issues if done correctly. 

Walking - FREE Exercise

Walking is not oly good for children but should form an important part of their daily routine.
Walking is free for all exercise and can be more easily incorporated into our daily routine. Maybe we can walk to work or part way, take a lunchtime walk, to the shops and other places rather than use the car. It seems far too many children arrive at the school gate in large vehicles, not only depriving them of needed exercise but also polluting our atmosphere and creating traffic chaos in the school vicinity. Many of the children live within walking range and if not perhaps parking a little further away from the school and walking might be an option. This will increase the amount of walking both parent and child do.

All walking is good for us, but a brisk walk will significantly improve our cardiovascular system and help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Walking keeps us supple and helps build muscle to keep us moving in the future. Even a few days without walking will see us start to stiffen up and find movement more difficult. This is even more problematic as we get older.

Walking is also beneficial for our mental health. The exercise helps our brains to repair. There is also the benefit of getting a different view and if we are near the countryside enjoying more of nature. However, even in towns, there are gardens, trees, parks and other areas that we can enjoy seeing plants, birds and animals.

Apart from sensible footwear and appropriate clothing for the weather, walking does not require any special equipment. This is unless you wish to become more adventurous and take up hiking in more extreme areas and weather conditions. 

I know that I am looking forward to my daily walk. Although it is always starting from home and with a limited area to walk in, I do enjoy it. It is amazing though how many different routes I can take and just reversing the direction does make a difference to what I see. I am fortunate that on the housing development where I live, there is a brook with a walk alongside it, some open spaces plus nearby fields and a pond. Also, there are birds with their beautiful songs and squirrels getting up their antics. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes and ears more than perhaps we used to before the lockdown was introduced. 

How are you doing in this coronavirus lockdown? Please leave a comment in the box below.