Welcome to Ian`s journey

What is this blog about? I hear you ask. In a nutshell, my name is Ian and I created this blog to scribble down my thoughts, have a place to look back on memories and generally log my life. It gives me a space on the world wide web where I can be me and put down my ideas and thoughts. It really is as simple as that. I have been blogging for a number of years now and you may have read my previous blogs, Northern Natter, Lancashire Lad and Bob`s dairies. However, those are no more and all my posts are scribbled down here. The picture above is of one of my dogs, Trudy, as she surveys the West Pennine Moors that separate Bolton and Blackburn. 

Busy day off

My wife text me this morning “Wow, you have been busy this morning” and I certainly had. By midday I had dropped off my sons packed lunch at school after he forgot it, probably far too busy watching YouTube on his phone when he left the house. Then I had visited the local post office to post my wife`s eBay parcel, popped to the supermarket to get a few things to take to work at the weekend. Then it was off to the dentist and another two mile jog after that. Not to forget put the dinner in the slow cooker. Phew, what to do this afternoon?

My dentist appointment wasn’t until 10:50 and initially I planned to relax around the house until then but had a sudden change of heart and got up, showered and got on with my day. I have been paying a monthly fee for the dentist and with that I get a couple of free check ups and visits to the hygienist thrown in, yet in the last couple of years I have not bothered to visit the dentist. Until I realised I had a small cavity that is. Since I last visited, Ben who was my dentist has left replaced by Kate whom I met for the first time today.

Apart from the small cavity that will require filling, thankfully there is no need for anymore work. After a pleasant chat with Kate who explained things through fully, I made myself a couple of appointments to sort the cavity and see the hygienist. In a few weeks all should be back to normal but I must keep up with my check ups, after all I am paying for them.

After such a sunny day yesterday, the cloud returned today with rain forecast by late afternoon. I juggled around my head what chores I had to do including a quick run around the block so went about visiting the supermarket, post office and school.

My last run only a couple of days ago was hard work to say the least. This time I felt much better prepared. Hardly any muscle soreness from the last run, I had let my breakfast settle prior to this run and I decided to set a better rhythm this time rather than going off too quick too soon. The first mile I ever so slightly slowed the pace down and managed my breathing better which instantly felt better. I also recall a massive amount of negativity in my head last time out so today I decided to break the run down by telling myself it was just like doing 20 minutes on the treadmill. It will be over in no time.

Throughout the run I kept reminding myself of this and before I knew it I was back home and feeling much better. Not as out of breath as a couple of days ago. After a few stretches I was having lunch and wondering what else to do by 1.30pm. Come tomorrow I will be back in work for all weekend so I may as well relax and enjoy the peace and quiet whilst it lasts and my son returns home from school and then I start the cooking and washing up.

One thing I notice is that when I am off work I seem to have plenty of time to write blog posts, yet when at work juggling 10 hours work and the house, blogging seems to take a back seat. I haven’t really liked stockpiling articles to post when I am struggling to write as I like to write “in the moment”. So if you don`t hear from me until after the weekend you know I am, stuck in work.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing.

Sunshine, walking and homemade food

Despite Autumn being upon us, today we re-wound the clock back to summer with temperatures in the low 70`s thanks to the southerly jet stream from Africa. Back to t-shirts and shorts with clear blue skies and warm temperatures. I was off again today and had a few things to do including visiting a local farm shop and cafe that I had been meaning to visit for months.

A short ten minute drive away and I was at Ryders farm where there is a large equestrian centre, farm shop selling homegrown meats and pies as well as an onsite cafe. I wandered through the farm, locating the cafe and sat down to order a full english breakfast washed down with a cup of tea. Whilst waiting for my food to cook, I found myself marvelling at the scones, cakes and biscuits on offer thinking that the rest of the family would love to come here and sample the fayre.

Breakfast at Ryders Farm

Once the breakfast had been gobbled up, I went and found the farm shop. I do like a traditional butchers shop, somewhere that makes their own pies and sells great quality meats. Again I was marvelling at what they had on offer in the pie area. There were small, medium and large pies of every filling you come to expect. You really can tell homegrown and home baked food compared to supermarket food. After purchasing a large cheese and onion pie for dinner, I drove onto to see my dad.

Our boiler at home has been problematic for the seven years we have lived in the house despite the builder who renovated the property before us putting in a new boiler. Sadly, he clearly wanted to save money and fitted a cheap and nasty boiler that has had something wrong with it almost every year we have lived here. After throwing far too much money at it trying to fix it, we decided to bite the bullet and order a new boiler. After receiving a good quote for a top of the range model last week, in the afternoon I set about completing the deal and arranging a date for it to be fitted. Thankfully it will be fitted next Wednesday. So only another week of suffering showers that run hot then cold, then hot and cold again. That will be one less stress to deal with I can tell you and fitted before the winter.

I was contemplating another run today but the day seems to have passed me by whilst busily doing chores, so the run will have to be put off until Thursday after I have visited the dentist.

We have just returned from walking Lola this evening, her second big walk of the day. The warm air was still in evidence yet Autumn was in full bloom with trees displaying all sorts of browns, golden yellows and greens. Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year not only because of the colours but I enjoy colder mornings and clear blue skies. I do like wrapping up and getting out in the cold and frosty mornings (although we have yet to have a frost so far).

Summer returned today during Lola`s walk

So we will settle down now and see what rubbish is on the television before I wake tomorrow for my last day off. Oh by the way, the cheese and onion pie I served with mashed potato and beans was a triumph, absolutely delicious. The family agreed that they will have to pay the farm a visit and soon.

Long road back to fitness

Oh boy that was tough!! Today I went out for a 2 mile run and throughout it I was fighting heavy legs, burning lungs and a negative mindset. Where has my fitness gone?

Admittedly I am a good stone over weight, but I have been doing plenty of cycling throughout the summer. When it comes to running, it is a different ball game. I have no issue with cycling thirty plus miles yet I cannot seem to run for two miles without stopping.

Twelve months ago, I was running regularly four miles at a time, two to three times per week through the winter when the bike went away until the new year. Since I have dug out the running trainers again, I have felt like I am running through quick sand.

Today I decided enough was enough and out came the trainers. Once the legs had been stretched off, the earphones went in, spotify running playlist went on, strava was set and out I went.

It was a windy morning but a beautiful autumnal start with bright sunshine and blue skies, perfect weather. Within a few hundred metres I felt my breathing was too heavy and not controlled. The legs felt heavy but jelly at the same time and my mind was telling me this wasn’t going to be easy. Once over halfway round, I stopped for a minute more to control my breathing then rest the legs then I was off again. I didn’t expect to stop again but with a few hundred yards from the end my brain suddenly told me to stop which annoyed me. After a couple of leg stretches I finished at a pace of 9.30 minutes per mile.

As it now turns into the evening and two long dog walks done, my legs are weary. One thing I hate about exercising is starting all over again. Once you get a couple of weeks into your training it becomes so much easier both physically and mentally. It is just about getting through the next few runs and dust off the cobwebs and hopefully I will be heading towards four mile runs and without stopping too.

My plan is to run through the winter and around Christmas time, weather permitting start on the bike again getting valuable miles in the legs for the year ahead. With the running should come the weight loss, a stone has to come off at least. Cycling up the hills near where I live is so much more difficult when your dragging a load of weight up them. My lightweight carbon fibre bike does make it easier but a bit less weight on my behalf and I should be flying up those hills.

Fingers crossed I stick out the running.

Weekend catch up

We last left off on Saturday Morning when I was looking forward to an afternoon out eating and drinking with family. I think I have finally recovered from that night out now after drinking enough Spanish lager to sink the Armada. In fact it wasn’t a big boozy night out, we were very civilised and had a great meal out first but we finally fell into bed around 01:30 am. Coupled with a poor nights sleep, I was rather tired on Sunday and wanting to eat lots of stodgy food to keep away the hangover.

We visited Monton Village for the evening, firstly having a great meal in Zous bar and grill where the steak was superb not to mention the children’s milkshakes which were the best I have ever tasted, I am not exaggerating! Then we went over the road for a few cocktails in Vintage Ambience where the staff had our kids enthralled with their juggling skills akin to Cocktail the movie. Children are allowed in the bars until 9pm so we ventured back to my brother in laws house for the rest of the evening for more drinks and pizzas. My wife was mixing her drinks with red wine with her meal, rose wine afterwards and some cocktails too. It was no surprise she could not recall the taxi journey home a few hours later.

Sleepy Sunday

Sunday was a relaxing affair after the boozy night previously with me picking my dad up for him to come round and have his Sunday dinner with us. It was an afternoon sat on the sofa after cooking the dinner watching football. Thankfully we had done most of the house chores the day before, so Sunday really was a feet up day. A good job considering how lethargic we felt. On my way back home after returning my dad home, I felt those hunger pangs you get after a night on the beer and headed to McDonalds for more junk food. It is fair to say, I slept like a baby that evening, catching up on some much needed sleep.

Back to Work

Monday saw me return to the office for the first time in seven weeks with holiday and a course keeping me away. Thankfully it was an easy introduction back, catching up and getting myself straight with all those emails, etc. It was good to see all my work buddies and we had a laugh catching up on what I had missed over the last two months. A nice sedate re-introduction to work before I get fully back in the swing of things on Friday when I am in work all weekend.

So that is what I have been up to over the last few days. Have you done anything exciting or notable, maybe you have just chilled out too? Whatever it was feel free to share it with me.

Saturday morning

It’s 9am on Saturday morning and I am currently sat on the sofa with Trudy my dog lay across me whilst I’m sipping my second cup of tea.

The house has only partially stirred from their slumber which really means I am the only human up and out of bed. The pets are up, fed and alert wanting a piece of my attention.

After having a few cold beers last night watching television, I have woke to find I placed a small bag of Cadbury chocolate in the fridge last night. Even before breakfast, I am nibbling on cold chocolate washing it down with a hot cuppa. I prefer to eat chocolate when it’s been in the fridge, cold and harder to break. This is a perfect way to wake up.

Looking outside it appears cloudy and threatening to rain. The street is so quite with not so much as a dog walker stepping out into the cold morning. I’ll eat a little more chocolate and sip a bit more tea before I drag myself off the sofa and venture out with the dogs.

Later in the afternoon we plan to go out with my brother & sister in law for some food and drink. Sunday is looking like another peaceful and relaxing offering too. With me returning to work on Monday, it seems ideal to have an easy weekend first.

Whatever your doing this weekend, I hope you enjoy it.

Back to normality

Today marked a resumption in my shift pattern after finishing my course on Thursday and six weeks of working Monday to Friday. I should have returned to work this afternoon but with a bit of foresight, I booked some holiday and will not return until Monday.

So today it was enjoyable to have a day off in the week when my wife is at work and my youngest is at school. Just me and the pets and a list of chores to get through, which actually suited me to the ground.

As I was waiting for a boiler guy to come round and give us a quote for a new boiler as our old one (which is actually only 7 years old) is on its last legs. Whoever put in the current boiler chose a cheap model which is clearly not up to the job. We have had nothing but trouble with the boiler ever since we moved into the house 7 years ago with breakdowns every 12 to 18 months. Recently it has felt like we are just throwing money at it now and if this was a car (failing to start, running badly) we would have got rid long ago. Unfortunately a new boiler is anything from £1000 to £2000 and you never actually are prepared for this unlike buying a new car.

My dad had to replace his 20 year old boiler last year and he used a local company and has been happy with the boiler and the service so I gave them a call hence the visit today. The quote has just come through costing £1850 for a top quality boiler, there may be movement on the price if I ask for a lesser quality make, we shall see. One thing is for sure, we need a new one.

In between this visit, I did the clothes washing, sorted the dry clothes, hoovered the whole house and managed to get my hair cut. By 3.30pm I was ready for a cold beer, well it was 5pm somewhere in the world, so why not?

It is now just gone 7pm and I am sat on the sofa, writing this post whist sipping a beer and watching some sport. With all my chores done I can look forward to a chilled out morning tomorrow.

Although we plan to go out tomorrow afternoon, the rest of the weekend will hopefully be a relaxing affair.

When your son storms out and never returns

My eldest son who is almost 18 has not returned to the family home since he walked out in November 2017, on the day we cremated my mother. Things had been building for a couple of years between him and the rest of the family but since he left school at 16, things took a turn for the worst.

Growing up he was always a headstrong individual and knew what he wanted and nothing would stop in his way. We thought that one day he would emigrate or travel the would such was his single mindedness. Once he turned 14, he changed and became more of the mumbling, grumpy teenager. Yes I can put up with the messy bedroom, the smells and disorganised lifestyle although it is annoying. The trouble came when we tried to help him and encourage him around his school exams. Anytime we tried to motivate, encourage or even just give it to him straight he would always reject our help and claim we were always “having a go at him”. This went on for a couple of years and no matter what we did or tried it did not work.

He would always set his bar low, maybe to avoid disappointment? So it was no surprise when he did not do too great at his final exams. He was always a very capable child but never had the motivation to push himself from maybe a C grade to  a B or an A grade which was achievable. His answer was why, when a C grade is a pass? Yet at primary school he was in the “gifted and talented group” yet chose to apply as little effort as possible.

He always had issues with teachers even from primary school days. He hated people telling his what to do or that his actions have consequences. When he left school at 16, I gave out a sigh of relief with no more telephone calls home about his behaviour or attitude. We thought that going to college would help as it is more relaxed and not as regimental as school. However, he only lasted a couple of months at college after kicking over his work, swearing at staff and storming out. That college no longer wants him back even after an apology and I cannot say I blame them.

He had previously left home in a huff for one night and then for one week once and we never knew where he was as he would not keep in touch. Whenever I was out of the house, he would start arguments with his brother or his mum, yet did very little of this when I was around. He was aware of his height and weight advantage over his mum and younger brother and would bully his brother when we were not around. This we found out after he had left. This added so much stress in the house when I was working in the evenings as I did wonder what he may be up to when I was not at home to keep the relative peace.

The night he stormed out, I had left the house to drop my dad off at his home after the funeral and all seemed fine in the house. We had been trying to encourage our eldest to apply for part time jobs but everything we suggested was a rubbish idea.

When I returned home after dropping my dad off about an hour later, the whole house was in uproar. He had kicked off with his brother over the use of my laptop, he wanted him off the computer there and then despite him having an arrangement with his brother about this. When my wife tried to intervene as peacemaker our eldest flipped his lid and went into a rage. So much of a rage that he squared up to me and I really thought he was going to punch me. That was the first time ever that he has done that and I knew then this was a game changer. He went upstairs threatening to leave for good and started to pack his things.

After 10 minutes or so, I went into his room and gave him an ultimatum. Stay and we try to work this all out or if you are going, your going for good and I want his house key back. If he was to go, I was not prepared for him to return sometime later when he felt like it and expect the world to go on as normal, we had been here many times before and I wasn’t prepared to go through that again. Looking back he clearly had a plan that night. The next day, I got a call from the local council who deal with young people especially homeless ones and he had turned up there at 10am reporting himself as homeless.

He would never have known where to go and what to do so I suspect he had been finding this out for himself in the weeks prior to him leaving. Also, he was never awake before 2pm most afternoons such was his lazy attitude, yet here he is at 10am reporting himself homeless. That was another frustration in the house that he would not get up until mid afternoon yet claimed he was going to find a job without our help.

I used to see his friends walking to college in a morning or going for lunch in the local supermarket all before he had even woken up. And he was expected to be trusted to sort his job prospects out?

I was then and still adamant now that he will never return to our house. We have had some support from the social workers over the last few years with him and that continued. We tried reconciliation and I did go and see him a few times, sometimes taking our youngest too but he never wanted to see his mum. He always for some reason blamed her for all his failings. He has lived in a flat run by a youth project and I am happy that he has a roof over his head and a support network of staff who help his with benefits and job offer’s, etc. So I know he is not living on the street.

Whilst he was living with us the atmosphere was terrible. We only realised how bad it was when he left. Whilst he was under our roof we were all so tense, like a balloon blown up so much it is about to explode. Yet when he left, it felt like some of that air had been let out of the balloon and we could all relax somewhat. No one should have to live like that in their own home.

One evening a couple of months ago, I was around at his flat talking and he started arguing over old ground. He still claims that I threw him out of the family home when I demanded his key. However, like his brother says, who was there during the argument that night, he left of his own free will, I did not throw him out. Anyway, when he started arguing I left and have not heard from him since. He did however, kindly report that night to staff that we as parents used to beat him and his brother with a belt when they were younger.

That was the final nail in the coffin for me. There was an investigation by social services and as expected no evidence to his claim. We had to be spoken to and his younger brothers school was visited to establish how he is in school. To see if there are any concerns from staff around him, which the school said there were none and his brother is a happy well looked after child.

We did tell social services that this was clearly a malicious claim and the timing proved that. He made this accusation in a temper when I left and decided to cause us problems which they agreed.

So as we approach his 18th birthday, we should be getting him driving lessons, looking forward to a party of coming of age. He should be in education or maybe employment like a lot of his friends are, but no, he is being left behind as he has no motivation in him.

He stayed at my dads the other night, which is fine none of us want him to miss out on seeing his granddad. My dad stated he could see our frustrations as he was clearly uninterested and lacking motivation in trying to get somewhere in life. He has been to job interviews but does not chase things up. My dad told him to chase up the company who had interviewed him, which he finally did to find out they wanted a couple of things from him before processing his application. His attitude was one of being so relaxed he was never going to get around to doing what the company wanted. Like my dad says, he needs a rocket up him to get him to do anything. Yet when you ever try to help him or tell him to pull up his socks, he claims you are having a go at him, we despair.

In truth, I do think about him and the situation almost daily. It is a crying shame how things turned out but we never wanted any of this, it was all of his own doing yet he always plays the victim. When I see photographs around the house of him when he was younger, it seems a shame how he turned out. People say that 16-17 years old is a tough age and they will come through it. I understand that but our son was on a whole new level one which I dare Mother Teresa not to lose her patience with him.