Category Archives: Blessings

“Why don’t they stay and fight?”

When talking about supporting and rehoming refugees in our lovely little town of Bude, I’ve occasionally heard this question. To help answer it, here’s a nice little exercise. Simply work through the following scenarios until you have an answer.

Scenario 1

You are asleep in your bed, with your family around you.  You awake suddenly to sound of breaking glass, and immediately afterwards, a heavy rock lands on your bed, between you and your partner.  You run to edge of your window and look out to see two men throwing rocks at every window in the front of your house.  You shout at them, they throw rocks at you instead.  You decide to put and end to this by going outside with a cricket bat with which you hope to fight back.  Dodging the rocks, you fight off your assailants.

Do you decide to leave your house, or fix it up and stay?  Will they come back tomorrow?

Scenario 2

You are asleep in your bed, with your family around you. You awake suddenly to sound of breaking glass and shouting.  Sounds like every house in your street is under attack by men armed with rocks, perhaps the best thing to do is escape out the back, leading your family to safety at the bottom of the garden.  You open the back door to be met by a shower of rocks.  Grabbing your trusty cricket bat, you try to fight off your assailants, and somehow your bravado convinces the assailants to leave.

Do you leave your house, or fix it up and stay, all the while hoping this doesn’t happen again?

Scenario 3

This time its men with hand guns.  When seeking cover, your 4 year old daughter cuts her head open on some broken glass as she hides under a table.

If only you were brave enough to fight back!

Scenarios 4 – n…

  • Men with automatic weapons waking you up at night
  • A member of your family is killed
  • Its not safe to go to your place of worship
  • Schools are closed
  • Your house is unihabitable
  • Artillery fire
  • Food and water are hard to come by.  The sewage system no longer works
  • Militias roam the streets, there is a curfew
  • You can’t easily tell who is a foreign soldier fighting for your cause, or against your cause
  • You can’t tell which of your countrymen are pro-government, or anti-goverment
  • The local hospital is no longer treating anything but life-threatening wounds
  • Aerial bombardment by any forces – you can’t tell who is bombing you

Which scenario would make you decide to risk your family’s lives by fleeing to a place of safety?

The majority of us in Britain have never suffered an armed conflict.  We are de-sensitised by television, films and games.  We have no idea what its like to have a rock through a window, let alone a gun pointed at us.  Even the older generations in this country, those who remember The Blitz or the evacuation, can still ask this ridiculous question.

Turn your back on tribalism, fascism, UKIP, Farage and Trump.  Instead, face those who suffer, and give them what you can – even if its just a smile.  You have no idea of the true horrors from which they seek refuge.

If you wish to donate cash, or find out about how to help in the local area, look at this Facebook page Bude Welcomes Refugees

Denis' hat

squandering your health

at work, i’ve met a lady who is giving up drinking for a month.  I am giving up my hair, and so is my partner Adele.  i know someone else who gave up social media for a bit.  What’s the link?  Cancer.  Nasty word.

statistics are often quoted – one in three people’s lives will be somehow affected by cancer – that sort of thing.  So far, I’ve counted 7 people.  The good news is that beating cancer seems more and  more likely.

to this end, Adele and I will be shaving our heads in October to raise money.  We may even dye our hair crazy colours first to draw more attention.  If you’d like to support us raising money for Cancer Research, then please donate via our Just Giving page.

most of us are blessed with our health, so much so we’ll probably never know much better off we are than someone who is suffering significantly.  i find it helpful to remember this, and it helps me to stop wasting my health on excessive drinking, smoking, eating and couch surfing.  I now perform 20 press-ups and 40+ seconds of plank prior to each shower i take.  doesn’t sound like much, but that’s going from zero press-ups per week to 140 per week.  My arms and shoulders feel bigger, burn more calories and allowed to me to effortlessly help an elderly couple with a bag of gravel yesterday.  My back feel stronger, my stomach flatter and even a seven and half hour drive didn’t mangle my back too much.

I am trying to preserve my health, not squander it.  It’s never too late to rage against ageing, and as I cover my bald head with my Dad’s hat, I’ll remember all the people I know who lost and won battles with cancer.  Please give money, pray, help someone and perhaps add one press-up per day until you feel meaty of limb!

small kindness

elderly fella walking slowly around the cliff path. its lashing down with rain and he has built up specialist shoes, bandages on each leg and is hobbling about holding on to a Zimmerframe with wheels. I walk up and with a bright hello I ask him if he wants me to shelter him with my umbrella – he seems delighted and admires Willow, my dog. his wife catches up with us and he tells her that there is another gentleman in Bude, and that makes me feel really good. I walk him the short distance to his gate, the rain stops, and i walk back home feeling good that even though my knees hurt a bit, its nothing like whatever he is going through. its a really nice moment this morning, and I feel grateful for my health. if I spot an opportunity to deliver a small kindness, i almost always try to take it, its as rewarding to help as it is to be helped.

grow your own II

all ingredients you can see in the picture come from our garden:

  • rocket
  • asparagus
  • cress
  • spinach
  • watercress
  • chives
  • egg

Lucky me, it was all assembled by my lovely partner Adele. A complete meal sourced from our garden and windowsill, how good is that?

Later in the year, we are expecting to add chilies, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, elephant garlic, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, goosegogs, rhubarb, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, pears and apples to our menu. Adele is already making and freezing rocket pesto….

…honeyberries, cherries, shallots, spring onions….

food, clothing and shelter

some lads are sleeping at my Tramp Headquarters. This is a shelter on the cliffs near me, where I walk Willow every day, and where I was due to drink some breakfast Guinness this morning, just for the hell of it…

nice lads these two, each with a horrible tale to tell. I took them some sandwiches and a can of Coke last night, after one of the lads had been beaten up a bit by some others – 5 on 1. Cowardice teamed up against vulnerable people. Horrible. This morning I stopped by again to see how they were today after a rough night and a rough morning. Only one lad was there, the beaten one recovering and drying out elsewhere. I asked Karl how he was doing…no surprises, he was cold and wet after being soaked all night. I offered him some clothes and he was keen, so I nipped off and got him a tee-shirt and 3 jumpers that I could spare – truth is I haven’t worn them for ages – and Adele added in 3 hard boiled eggs, some cheese slices and a packet of biscuits. Hopefully this will have eased the rest of the day somewhat.

how lucky am I that I was only wet through walking the dog without wearing a coat, that I slept in a warm dry bed and have an endless supply of food. Its good for the soul to meet others who have considerably less, and good also to give to them, so that their situation is improved, however briefly. You never know how important an act of compassion may be to someone – it may be the lifeline that prevents someone from giving up altogether.

if you see someone struggling or suffering, give them something if you can, even a greeting and a smile is a long, long way from being ignored.

Willow, at Tommy's Pit

timeslice – darker days from the dog walker


I spoke to Roy this morning.  Throughout our conversation, Roy’s dog was barking at me, and Willow was sniffing his pockets for biscuits.  Endearing.  As usual, we touched on the weather.

“Bit  blustery today.  Glad to have this sun though, I am camping next week, up in those fields.  You may be interested in this, what with you spending time in Korea.  I am helping to run a martial arts camp, with a lot of taekwondo in it, the Korean martial art”

“Nah, I am too old for that.  Besides, I never saw anything that could stop a bullet.”  Roy’s face darkens as he casts his mind back.  I know that Roy served in Korea during the war.  I wait for more, as I know its coming.

“It got really mad when the Chinese joined in.  They’d come at you in waves, three thousand of them.  They’d have a woman in front, playing the bugle.  They were mesmerised by the bugle.  So its easy.  You shoot the bugler, then they all fall apart.”  He shields his eyes from the sun.  Dogs still sniff and bark.  Willow sets next to me and leans in close,  Perhaps she understands.

“Three hundred of us went out there, only eighty of us came back.  There aren’t many of us left now.  National Service – I trained up there….”  He points to GCHQ up at Morwenstow.  “We had a month of basic training, then came here to fire guns in to the sea.  The boats would pull the targets across, and we’d fire at them.  Then we had a week off, and that was it, we were off.”

“Did you ever write any of it down?”

“Nah, what’s the point.  Its in the past.  Best left there.  The second world war boys – they didn’t bother writing it down.  It was a long time ago.”

“I was born in nineteen-seventy” I tell him, ” I have no understanding at all at what any of that could have been like.”

Some small talk, then we go our separate ways.  How lucky that the accident of my birth was when it was.

Roy, maybe I shouldn’t have written, but Its good for us to know.

blessings – grow your own

two weeks of lovely sunshine, vitamin D and growth in the garden.  I’ve eaten home grown radish, and should have a small crop of black, white and red currants, elephant garlic and other varieties, a handful of goosegogs, some blueberries.  I am training two clematis up the palm tree which should come proper, as say  they say around here.  Strawberry flowers a-plenty too

home made sag paneer and dhal, with mint tea made from our home grown mint

watching our new chicks leap on to their surrogate mother’s back (bird is the word)

Citalopram and 6 weeks of stability.  I know feel well enough to truly appreciate all the excellent things in my life, especially my lovely partner Adele

Willow has a new friend, Bruce, to play with.  She is much happier chasing a ball with Brucie than walking on the lead with me

why do I count my blessings?

Some very good reasons.  Firstly, it helps my self-esteem when I am depressed or otherwise feeling low.  I really have a very fortunate existence, with a lot of happiness.

What’s that about depression then?

My depression stems from brain chemistry, almost exclusively over the long winter months.  It can start in September and dog me until as late as April.  Not this season, fortunately.  Being mindful of all the positives can only have a beneficial effect.

By counting my blessings, I get more happiness and well-being from all of the little good things, and all of the great big good things in my life.  Its very easy to take all of these things for granted, especially in Britain where we have a very high standard of living, on a daily basis.  By enumerating my blessings, I get more of out them.  By publishing them, I hope readers can be more mindful of all the great things in their lives, and so wring every last bit of goodness from them.  If you want to share a positive thought, write about it, or add in here as a comment please.

Here is today’s blessing.

It’s the first day of spring, according to the British Meteorological Office.  Sure enough, I walk Willow through the county lanes of Cornwall, I tickle the trumpet of a daffodil (it is St. David’s Day) and I walk through a light rain, blue skies, grey clouds, I taste the rain on my stupid moustache and I am listening to Mike Oldfield’s Omnadawn.  All of these activities, including the pipes and strings in the music make me happy, and remind of me of my youth.  A kindly old gentelman gives me biscuits for my dog, and in return I will give him some eggs freshly laid by our chickens.  Today is a good day.