2014 in review – cool, 68 countries!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Picture of Matt's DevilishlyDisabled branding

being devilishly disabled

i’ve just met an inspirational fella – his name is Matt and he runs a tee-shirt business.  I had my first proper conversation with Matt at a business network meeting in Bude, where I live, but I have been aware of Matt’s existence for longer that that, mainly, from admiring his strength in propelling himself up Bude’s steep hills, in order to get work on the tills at Sainsbury.  In case you hadn’t guessed, Matt primarily uses a wheelchair to get about.  Big arms on the lad, I can tell you that.

Matt is an interesting chap – he’s had a variety of jobs, and his experience of being disabled in employment would no doubt open your eyes.  In a story that’s all too familiar, Matt has decided to move on from redundancy and become his own boss: Matt runs devilishlydisabled.co.uk, a business that challenges able-bodied pre-conceptions and barriers to communication, initially through the sale of humourous tee-shirts .  Guess what?  Its already working!  As result of meeting Matt and some ideas he’s had for some mutual co-promotion of our businesses, I am already seeing the world differently.  Thanks to Matt, I see some very interesting times ahead of us that could help a lot of people, and that’s tremendously exciting for both of us. Watch this space.

If you would like to support Matt, his venture and his ethos, please do visit Matt’s site, read his blog, buy and wear a tee-shirt, and help the able-bodied-but-hard-of-thinking to overcome their own fears of talking to someone in a chair. If you need to, you can use his tee-shirts as an ice-breaker…but that means you should buy one, shouldn’t you?

Ancestor Shrine

Martial Arts Summer Camp 2014

This year’s camp was a great success.  I have written up the events complete with some photos on my Macaw.Events webpage – look for the “Previous Events” menu item, Somehow writing about it here seems a bit redundant.  I am currently busy looking for new work and investing time in some business ventures, so once again my writing has been rather sparse of late.


its been a long time since I read anyone’s blog, or written, or had much of an online presence at all. i’ve missed reading my favourite bloggers – Nicola, Tanya, Liam, Silverbetty – and the interactions stemming from the same. i managed to write The Magic Moaster, but that was more about allowing myself to get back to sleep during one of my occasional 4:30am sleepless moments than it was about the desire to write.

in short, its been a very stressful time combined with a great deal of activity that needed high levels of management on my part, combined with some sleeplessness and some low points on the depression cycle.

as catharsis, and an explanation to those brave souls who have nothing better to read, here goes:


  • fight camp imminent. organising the marquee donors so that I can get them the colours and sizes they want for their reward packages. in itself, no mean feat – ordering approximately 40 teeshirts and hoodies of mixed sizes and colour. preparing the walking sticks, pyrography of same. each walking stick takes over an hour of effort.  some stress here
  • work.  looks like my time at my job is coming to its end.  company wants me to relocate back to the office 220 miles away from home.  i’ve been invited in for a chat with the human resources department, in august, after fight camp.  there is a question about my work from home status, it seems someone somewhere in the organisation is being difficult about it, and no longer wants to pay my expenses. does this mean i need to pay back 6 years of expense claims?  no way that is going to happen.  makes me angry.   I manage to kill that concern dead – the company has been treating me explicitly and implicitly as a work from home employee.  my future here is in doubt
  • family.  treatable cancer in my partner’s family.  should all work out fine, thanks to our  wonderful NHS
  • work again.  i’ve had a change of line manager from a person i respect, who is intelligent and has excellent leadership skills, to a person who is the opposite.  i will not have my 37.5 hours a week managed by this person, and neither will i tolerate her being in charge of bonus decisions.  this has to stop.  i am resolved to leave, one way or the other.  start looking for work.
  • set up Macaw website, complete with online shop for the events that have been organised.  actually take some money through the site, so that’s brilliant.  need posters for each of the events, or at least images for the shop.  purchase 2 metre banner for marquee, supply artwork for same.
  • make sure all events for camp are publicised.  create and maintain order list for 40 curries, along with tracking who has paid and who has not.  will there be enough people for the chinese watercolour workshop, and can i organise enough chairs and tables for the same?
  • purchase £600 of insurance for the marquee, ensure that the camp site are still happy for me to put it up.  figure out if the curry machine’s power requirements will blow up the site’s electrics for all campers and caravanners.  it may well do, so start figuring our generator requirements to keep food warm.


  • with the exception of three days, we have house guests booked for all of August
  • week before camp, i need to package up all rewards for marquee donors, into shoe boxes, nicely folder, badges, vouchers, walking sticks etc.  Make sure there are plenty of apple cuttings and bamboos for the lantern festival.  package all up for easy transport to camp.
  • summer camp.  once again, brilliant, but this time, much more stressful for me this year as there is an amount of organisation required for all events, coupled with the pressure to train and an eye on the weather.  I am desperately keen to get the marquee up so that all those who donated can see that i haven’t just pocketed their cash.  of course, they know i haven’t, but i still need to deliver.  two days in to camp, we succeed, it looks great.  the banner i ordered arrives just in time.  will everyone pay their fees?  I really hope so, as i have promised to pay some instruction fees this year.  whilst enjoyable, camp feels as much like a job as it does a holiday which knocks me sideways a bit.  wonderful moment when viewing the marquee from afar, seeing it full of happy people having a great time, and then feeling proud for once, thinking, I did this, I made it happen.
  • although a brief trip to work, its about 450 miles round trip. discuss employment options, i offer to accept a redundancy instead of relocating.
  • multiple car failures, still ongoing.  one particularly stressful event is 15 minutes before I am due to teach, the same day that I am also due to drive us to visit family. loads of stress plus a significant lowering of  mood means the wonderful boat trip and picnic up and down the river Dart is something that I take part in, rather than something i thoroughly enjoy.  low mood the next day means that four of six hours in the local zoo is similarly anhedonic.
  • invited, along with my drummer friend, to join a band for a gig locally.  start rehearsing and learning numbers.
  • Jazz week needs to rent my PA and 4 microphones.  Need to order two more microphones.  Come the period of rental, nobody on site wants to take ownership of anything, so its up to me install and arrange all items, and hope that its what is wanted.


  • A sudden and stressful clash of dates – one of my oldest and best friends is coming to visit for his birthday, the village hall where i teach is having its AGM the same night as the friend arrives, which is also the same night as the gig.  furthermore, having driven 250 miles to see us, I have training and grading commitments that weekend that I cannot change.  oh, and the inlaws are coming that same weekend too.  its all good!
  • me and Pete Bongo are dropped from the band for no good reason, the week before the gig. i have spent probably 8 or more elapsed hours rehearsing and putting effort in to this.  its not worth me being discombobulated about, i can’t afford to take a mood swing as a result of other’s selfishnes.  others fume on our behalf
  • invoice for PA rental falls on deaf ears.  i am owed £100 for my efforts, but i end up having to post the invoice as the recipient does’t bother to use his email, and wants to pay by cheque.  i eventually collect in person
  • a student’s parent is giving me a hard time about the decision not to submit his child for the grading.  i won’t go in to detail, but suffice to say it makes me angry and fed up.  i resolve to stick to my decision and live with the consequences.


i am still teaching, but due to lots and lots going on, I can’t make it over for my training very often.  i feel guilty about missing training, and receive pressure from my teacher.  similarly, with boot camp, i have heaps of stuff to do round the house which is good exercise. i receive pressure from boot camp and pressure from my partner. boot camp looses.  i can’t find the time to organise and play with our band, it involves coordinating and hosting 3 others, and i just don’t have the time right now, i harbour some guilt.  Iain and Sue have their baby boy, Maxwell.  I really should find the time to drive the 200+ miles to see them all, but its not that simple.  more guilt *sigh*  I have a sick friend whose behaviour is adversely affecting me, so for self preservation and in order stop loosing sleep, i decide i must withdraw a little.  i am these days resolved to fight to maintain friendships, but at not at the cost of my own mental health.  huge guilt.  i am becoming increasingly interested in politics and feel guilty that i am not campaigning for our NHS as much as Nicola.  in a similar vein, i feel i should make the time to read each party’s manifesto so i can make a vote for the lesser of all evils.  perhaps our soon to evolve devolution will inspire me to get involved with politicians on a local level.  that’s a lot of “volve”

Don’t get me wrong, there’s been some wonderful times this summer, this list is just the tricksty stuff that’s been eating my time and mood.  its good to get it our of my head, hopefully releasing me from its grasp.  to restore the balance, I must the write the blessings of the summer.  we really need a holiday to spend some time together and just let it all wash away.  must get on with organising that…busy, stress, guilt, *sigh*

and another thing, must write up our fabulous camp this year….

The Magic Moaster

Its Sunday innit, and wanna go up the boot fair, get rid of some of this old tut, offload it on to some muppets. MUUUPPITTTTS! Prollum is, all a roads are busy, kewing up for miles to get there, right pain in the arse when you wanna go anywhere else like, but I’m smart see, so I leaves early, get’s there for 12 innit. Reckon I’ll ave a fag while I’m waiting for Farmer Giles to open ‘is bloody gate. Muppit. Come on matey. Nice little earner for im though, all the other HIGH CLASS VENDORS WAITING TO SELL THEIR WARES la-di-da, must be rakin it in taking a fiver from each of us. Reckon I’ll set up by the ‘ot dog van, all the hungery punters will have to look at my tut while they kew up for snausages. Smart see?

wasn’t to ard gettin past the Busy – he was only there for traiffic anway. right, lets get this boot open. The septics call em trunks don’t they. muppets. Mind you, i got plenty a junk in my trunk innit, so maybe their on to somefink. Maybe, maybe THAT’S FAR MORE APPROPRIATE FOR MY “TRADING SINCE TODAY” merchandise retailing venture. mwah ha ha. come get it, muppits. Already some keen punters are doing the rounds, swarming round the boots of the motahs, like flies.

“gis a chance mate, lettus get me stuff out. five minutes matey, five minutes”

can’t believe this lot will wanna take Chris and Emmas leftovers, bits of stuff from the kids, ropie old gift’s that i never wanted. travel iron, that”ll go a bundle, pay for me pitch should do. heh, be good to be shot of this old shite, eating up room under the stairs, need to free it up so i can put some more gear away. a few tasty shirts left over from the office days. washed some of em, couldn’t be bothered with doin all of them though. ooof, look at em pit stains – only muppets would wan em. take em for cleaning the car, then burn em afterwards.

“ow much for these?”

I look’s at the 10p i’ve clearly written on the box. the p is a bit wonky, but maybe he’s a bumpkin an can’t read.

“fifteen pence each mate, going cheap” muppit

nuther fella comes up, puts 10p in the jar. picks up the hole lot, box an all, and walks off with it. I shouts at im, all ryechus indignashun,

“ere, come back ere!”
“waaas problem? changed yer mind an not sellin them then?”
“still sellin them mate, but i want more that 10p for that lot”
“it says 10p”
“10p each mate, 10p each. not 10p the lot you muppet-uh”
“trade descriptions sunshine,” he says slowly grinnin, all smug like, “it says 10p on the box. taking the box”

Luckily, I see the Busy, probably sniffing round for stolen goods.  I calls him over and explains, so the Busy catches old of the theef and reads him the riot act, gives him a clip round the ear, takes him down the station. I expect im and his mates work him over a bit, serves him right for being a theeving gippo.  Pikey!  Piiiikeeeeyyyyy!

Course, none of that ‘appens for real.  swat my quack calls REVENGE FANTASIES OF THE IMPOTENT, s’all in my ead innit. still, eads a lot more quieter now, since them pills he gave us. ardly ever have arguments in my ead now.  nice.

I can’t believe it, some old doris as bort all the shirts for her old fella, even the ones with the pit stains! ha ha ha don’t sniff em mate.

“allo darlin, you look like you wanna buy a travel iron!  Lovely job,  look, andle folds down an everything, almost brand new it is.  yours for a fiver.  ah, ta love”  Result, that’s my pitch paid for, all the rest is just profit now, have a sherbert tonight to celebrate, clearing the house, loosin the tut, makin a few bob.

just two bits left now, a couple o samwich toasters.  each one is the same as the other one – cept for the one the right.  it has a little speaker on it, and when the samwich is done, it makes a mo0000o sound.  both of em have that black and white pattern on em, like them freeshun cows.  i aven’t ad a toastie in ages – got fed up in the end, all that mucking about and it just leaks out the bread and leaves a great big gob of hot steam to burn your chops on, right nasty.  always seemed like a good idea, and the freeshun pattern clinched it for me.  the one on the left, i’m appy sellin it for a fiver if i can, i don’t need them now i’ve got that george formby grill.  funny fing is, i didn’t know he was black.  i seed him in those old films, and ee always came out white in them i’m sure.

“Get your moo-toasters ere, two of a perfect pair.  Fiver each.  Mooo-toasters, moooooo-oasters.  Moasters!”

i flog the safe one for three quid to an old beggar, i warn him about burning his falsies.  he spits them in to his hand, all clever like. ucccchhhh, i don wanna see that.  he won’t burn them, but he’ll burn his gums all the same, muppet.  oh well, i’ve done im a favour on the price.

just the last one left now, but a bit nervous about flogging it.  ope it behaves itself.  i’m lookin round in case the Busy is still here.  don’t want im kicking off if a punter buys it.  when nobodies lookin, i risk looking inside, check it’s all clean.  and safe.  i lift the lid a little bit, and take a peek, all careful like.  jeeeeebus. all safe.  I breathe out, didn’t even know i was olding my breff.

fing is, first time i made a toastie in this one, the one with speaker, it was a bit…queer.  i put some pukka bread in there, buttered both sides an all, like it says to, cheese and beans on the inside.  set it all going, went for a wazz while i was waiting, jus for something to do like.  anyways, i eard the mooo-ing, and was right pleased with it.  cept when i opened it. samwich had gone, and instead, there was a big cow’s eye in there, blinking at me.  i slammed the lid and ran back to the bathroom. jeeebus. must have imagined it, i fort, so I went back and opened it again.  sure enough, cow-eye was still there.  in the end, it wouldn’t go away, so i had to use the first toastie for me tea.  when i’d finished scoffing, i ad to get rid of the eye, can’t risk leaving it in there to go off.

next time I tried it, wasn’t a cow eye.  wasn’t cheese and ham either.  looked like a cow’s ear, but with all the fur burnt off.  brown cow, though, not a freeshun.  strange that.  next time, egg and snausage toasty, came out as cow tongue. i went through a whole loaf of bread seein what it would come up wiv next, and next, and next. Nostrils, ox tail, strange tubes with a flappy bit, some brain or liver, couldn’t properly tell. hooof.  udder was the worst, smelled of burnt milk.  the last straw though, was the peanut butter, blue cheese and lime pickle toasty.  I fort there was no way it could change that, however magic the singing toaster had become.  i was wrong.  when it moooo-ed its final mooo, i opened it up. it was writhing. Writhing with tiny cows, the size of peas.  they looked like ladybirds, all climbing over each other, but all black and white.  i prodded one wiv me knife, and he climbed on.  i brought him close to my eyes, so i could see it better. it looked at me, and I looked at.  he opened is wing carapace and flew off.  reminded me of a girl from the office.  she used to work upstairs on the first floor ON THE MEZZANINE DON’T YOU KNOW, IT’S A MEZZANINE, IT LOOKS OVER THE GROUND FLOOR and she always used to wear these metallic shiny shirts.  I told her one day that her shiny green one looked LIKE A BEETLE’S WING CARAPACE and that i was expecting it to split open down her back and for wings to come out, and for her to fly over the balcony to get downstairs to the coffee machine. IT’S A MEZZANINE.  Didn’t see much of her after that, but i would often imagine her flying off the balcony, body hanging limply beneath HER GOSSAMER WINGS, settling gently by the coffee machine.  I wonder if she could land on the roof of a bus.  I wonder if a fig gets cort in your froat it hatches into a beetle.  Or is that olives?

I takes my earnings and kew up for a snausage.  Glad i shifted the magic moaster, even if i only got a squid for it.  Now to get home before all others do a bunk and clog up the roads again, muppppets!  Result.

Mini-Event Schedule for Summer Camp

Monday 11th August

Order some great food.  Sajla will be preparing this food in her kitchens and delivering to our site.  If you would like to order, please do update the relevant comment section under the same image on our Facebook page, or leave a comment here.



Tuesday 12th August – 3pm – 5pm

Lynne’s amazing handiwork below, again, you will need to book and in this case pay up front as Lynne will be ordering materials for this course, so don’t miss out.  Spaces are limited.

jase flyer copy



Wednesday 13th August – Lantern Parade

Cost is £1 donation for materials, but don’t let that stop you paying more!  You will need to make your own lantern at camp, I have all the materials, and your lantern needs to be ready for use on Wednesday evening.

A picture of some lanterns

Lantern parade at The Eden Project. Photograph copyright Tim King