Friday, 28 September 2012

Stepping out of the Remit

I'm trying very hard not to be a politico, or commentator on global events; in the main because I consider myself to be the unused face, on the side of a tooth, on a cog, in a vast machine ... in simple terms a no body except to a few dozens of my friends and peers ... teeth on other cogs maybe. However, one does watch the news, and see and feel the effects of being inside the vast machine full of millions of other cogs, and very few actual wheels, so when I saw this cartoon on Facebook I had to share it on my own page, not because I’m anti Muslim, It’s just one of those little truths expressed very well, and all the more sad and ironic for it.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Sloe Gin

On the lighter side of life, I found a Blackthorn bush (Prunus Spinosa) in a spinney so loaded with sloes, that it was decided that Sloe Gin had to be made again this year. Last year we made three litres and gave it away as Christmas presents. This year I thought we were going to be completely out of luck as the rainy summer seems to have kept the bees away from the bushes out in the open and the fruits that there are, are hardly worth the bother. However on the way back across the fields from the MOT test centre last Friday I found some sheltered Blackthorns, under a Willow spinney (Salix alba ... but I’ve not checked) running along a banked path with deep ditches either side. These ditch banks have their own populations of burrowing bees.

Now I’m not an entomologist or a botanist or an ecologist or other modern day bio-diversity and habitat specialist ... but I’d like to think I’ve just seen a bit of cause and effect. To whit: Bees protected by bank and trees, Blackthorn bushes protected by trees, heavy rains feeding black thorn bushes, hence giant sloes (some had started to go over they were so juicy), and either side of that protected spinney Blackthorns almost devoid of fruit. So what I think I saw there is a tiny 50 by 8 metre island habitat. I may be talking utter bollocks, and maybe the bushes beyond the spinney have been ravaged by Wood Pigeons ... but that wouldn’t explain the difference between Blackberry sizes inside and outside the spinney and the below average numbers in our usual picking spot down near the river. 
So on the Friday I earmarked the bushes for a Sloe foraging session early Sunday morning (around 10am in the end ... we had good intentions honest). And then we went out for the shopping trip mentioned in the previous post. Followed by the calamity of the roof leak on Sunday (which if you are interested will be fixed by a complete new felt roof being installed tomorrow Friday 28th September £650 cash) ... PS: Fuck You David Gauke, if you want to eliminate the black economy and tax avoidance at low level ask your senior colleagues to stop giving my hard earned money to fuck nugget bankers that spunked trillions on dodgy deals ... lets shake hands and call it a rebate. 

Back to Sunday afternoon, and the roof leak had been reduced from a Sev1 to a Temp Fix in place. So we sat down to stab almost plum sized sloes with map pins (not silver tined forks ... we keep them for special and if the vicar is popping round ... ahem). We then forced the sloes down the necks of 1.5ltr bottles of Gin or dropped them on mass into Kilner jars with the pre-requisite amount of sugar, a damn fine shake to get the fermentation going and retired to the lounge to write blog posts and watch the Brendan Fraser movie Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (I would have given it 7/10 myself IMDB’s reviewers must have been expecting Ghandi or something FFS it’s a kids film).

So despite the expense and the worry and the rain that means we’ve had to tell the Estate Agent not to bring anyone around this week in case there is water dripping from the ceiling into an Ikea storage box perched on the kitchen counter... not that anyone has requested to come around; well we’ve still had some fun making Christmas hooch. And if there is a Giant Intergalactic Spider watching over us (See South park episode Red Hot Catholic Love for an explanation ... I can’t be arsed), then perhaps he’ll cut us some slack now, and point a willing cash buyer who doesn’t like to haggle in our direction and we can move forward with travel plans.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Leaks Are The New Black

You couldn’t make it up; there we were on Sunday past off out to the shops (GoOutdoors specifically) to get waterproof light weight walking shoes (again specifically these Salomon Men's Exit 2 GTX® Hiking Shoes) ... they are fine by the way, waterproof comfy quite stiff at first, and slowly moulding to my feet. Anyway, all things being equal a good buy, and even better we arrived on going for a song clearance sale day and Amanda managed to pick up a 2011/12 last season, three way North Face jacket with removable fleece (already fitted) for £84 down from £184. I mentioned this business with clearance sales and last seasons kit just two posts back. Needles to say we were well pleased with ourselves.

We then popped into Tesco for odds and sod and went home ... as you do. Tea made shopping put away; the rain that had started in lakeside caught up with us in Tilbury, and for about half an hour the heavens opened. This was all good for about ten minutes because we planned on having a really easy afternoon, and now we didn’t have to water the garden into the bargain. However, this state of calm and anticipation of an easy afternoon was not to last.

I was putting some bits in the fridge, I cast a glance to my right and noticed a puddle and splash marks atop the remains of what was once the outside wall, that now defines the boundary between the main house and the extension. I asked Amanda where the water came from as it was a bit to distant from the tap to be splash from the washing up ... and as if in answer to my question a drop came from somewhere above to join the puddle that had already formed.

That’s right, after all the shit we’ve gone through this year with rising damp, in doors and a leaking roof in the motorhome and all the associated costs, we now have the joy of a completely buggered flashing between the main house and the extension, and upon further investigation several other minor splits and areas where the old bitumen has gone dry. According to the roofer who popped round yesterday, business is booming, the combination of three really dry years followed by one really wet one has ruined roofs the length and breadth of Thurrock and the surrounding area ... well I feel so much better now I know that the fates aren’t just picking on us. In any event, not only do we now have the sound knowledge that the room is tanked from damp from below for whoever buys it, we now also have the privilege of offering the property with a brand spanking new felt roof.

It’s one of those you could cry if you let it too far under your skin weeks. Instead we fervently hope that this low, which we will colloquially describe as “lower than a snakes belly in a wagon rut”, is the final stage before we rise like a Phoenix, wealthier, wiser and free after what can only be described as a grinding year ... and there’s still three months of it left ... I’m not one for wishing days away ... you don’t know when your last is booked for ... but.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

I had to chuckle

Way back in the beginning, there was no blog; there was an idea, the idea was given form from the thought, through deeds … and it was good.

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions”.
Albert Einstein

Time passed and the laudable ideas and standards invoked by the original thought were forgotten for a time and spoons and a frying pan, milk, chicken and bacon were left behind.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

I read our first post and the last words I wrote in it … “the 7P’s apply”. Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance (for those that don’t know).

I shall kick myself in the arse, and next time use the laminated sheets before we go away. The 7P’s still apply … I just got a bit cocky and forgot them.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Beth Chatto

On the way back from Southwold we popped into Beth Chatto’s garden
We’ve been meaning to pop in for a couple of years, so now we can tick it off the list. And being in the motorhome makes this kind of stop off a real pleasure. We parked up at the far back of the neatly mown car park and made a sandwich and a cup of tea before we went in. Here’s some pictures of what’s out in autumn.

It’s a great little garden, proof that life will find a way regardless, and that with a little bit of effort you can green up anything. Well worth £6.00 per adult, and an ideal size if you were taking aging parents or grandparents ... ah bless.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Weekends Away

After months of intense work, and a wet non- summer without relief, we finally got to use the motorhome for what it was intended for ... travel to out of the way places, stop a while, muck about on the beach or country paths, cook, eat, ... tiddle in comfort without having to walk to a toilet block 50yards away ... sleep in the buff and get your legover without fear of the occupants of neighbouring tents seeing your silhouettes cast against the skin of the tent from the inside, making the beast with two backs or hearing the two minutes of frantic grunting and rustling associated with such nocturnal activities; I used to camp ... I know these things. ... I’ve seen the mine and another’s shadow cast on the inner flysheet and thought “Oh fuck I hope she doesn’t cotton on to the porno shadow show we’re creating”, and then being a bloke just having a chuckle to myself because getting your legover in public affirms your masculinity and proves your alphaness ... I like to think.

So I’m writing this after a jolly three nights away, having completed several cycle rides (nothing too far ... we found out how out of shape we were) and two short and cold swims in the September sea of Southwold Suffolk ... and one of those was a skinny dip. Walks, cycles and swims were all followed by some of the most expensive beers I’ve ever drunk in a pub or pubs ever. To say the least Southwold is expensive ... I’ve also renamed it Adnamsville, as that particular brewery is bang in the middle of town and appears to own or feed every pub there about. While it is quaint, with the air of such places as Salcombe and Charmouth; to whit, very salty and sailorish with a community that from overheard conversations and interactions “knows its own”... it is relatively speaking, a bit of a rip off.
I won’t bang on about it too much, but when a pint of the local brew, brewed less than a hundred yards from the hostelry said brew was consumed in and a large Gin and Tonic roll in at £10.25, you have to have the “I should have bought a slab of supermarket lager and had a beer in the motorhome” thought.
I at once sympathise with the pub industry for having to compete with supermarkets on a very unfair playing field, but on the other hand, looking across all of Southwolds retail sectors, food, clothes, drink ... tiddly whot knots, it’s just shooting itself in the foot. I have no idea what the answer is for the British economy overall; my mind simply can’t juggle that many balls, but from the start of this blog all I see is that sector after sector is fighting against either itself or allied sectors, and subsequently throttling itself with overpricing, or destroying itself with piss poor quality and in piss poor service delivery. There appears to be some form of loop back in the economy ... a Groundhog Day ... as I say I have no answers. I just see myself not going to pubs, because it’s a rip off, not going to hotels, because they are a rip off, only buying stuff that’s on sale or last season, because this year’s prices and models are a rip off, and between times making my own lunch as often as possible ... you guessed it; because a city lunch once, even on the cheap is at least as expensive as doing your own for two days.
Glossing over the fact that we spent more than seemed right in the Adnamsville pubs and didn’t shop at all for the simply laughable prices (perhaps we are just poor white trash and we weren’t supposed to be there at all ... you never know?). Southwold itself it is quite interesting. I shan’t list all of its history menu, or items of local interest. You can get an idea of what’s about there, here though I will point out a few of our highlights:
·         The beach that runs near south to north from Southwold to Lowestoft is simply fabulous. Walking from the river Blyth where the campsite is along, through and beyond the beach holiday haven of the main town pier, amusements, prom, tea huts there is a near deserted strip of sand bordered by low cliffs. The Cliffs are maybe two stories high and fall gently to nearly sea level and a small salt marsh and reed bed three miles up, by which time there isn’t another soul around (hence swimming in the buff rather than walking back in wet clothes ... practical nakedness). The cliffs then rise again to about three stories and are covered with a mix of what looks like deliberate tree planting (big Cedars, and pines) and dead wood (that I imagine was once someone’s pride and joy). But as the cliffs have receded via wave erosion, so the salt air and added wind exposure have done for some of the trees, and some have simply fallen from the cliffs to form drift wood relics ... the size of trees. Heading north along the beach like this and encountering only one or two other people on the way does give you a feel for how close most people stay to town even when they go away. It seems to me that the majority don’t see the point of just going to look at open space and having a nose without having a pre-set destination. You know just going because it’s there to be seen if you just put one foot in front of the other.
·         Within the town there is the Seamans Reading Room, a small building fronting the town perched on the cliff looking out to sea, part memorial part museum to the seamen of the area. There are pictures, models and books and written accounts from days of yore. The town has quite some naval and maritime history, the shore has been a wrecker, and once there was a sea battle fought along the coast.  If you pop in make sure you drop in what you can spare in the donations box (likewise at the pier).
·         The pier, a short very neat affair with several quality tut shops (that’s an oxymoron I know, but you’ll get it if you go), there’s a novel under the pier show (on top of the pier half way along). It’s a collection of alternative slot machines, a little too complicated to describe, your best bet is to pop along and have a look ... there’s also fishing off the pier with a permit, if you’re interested.
The campsite itself was functional, a little badly organised and laid out and the facilities were suffering from wear and tear (in some respects extremely so), taps being my personal biggest bugbear, because there was only one set of four that would stay on when the button on top was pressed in. The showers and loos were fine within the parameters allowed by being used by several hundred people all day long and most of the night from March to September. We were expecting it, because we read some reviews up front, however the next nearest site was a fair way in land and this was a good compromise.

The thing that irks about the campsite is that it’s owned and run by the council, the same council that runs the town, the town that is really expensive and looking for premium customers, the town that if it were run like the campsite, would be on its knees and not having any visitors ... perhaps Adnams should run the campsite ... but then who would be able to afford it? Foot shooting it’s a British national pastime me thinks.
We were a little lazy on this trip with regards to food and provisions and just being prepared. I had several days to get us ready, and yet failed miserably to use the anally retentive laminated lists I prepared to avoid such omissions as I will list below. We brought the absolute basics:  two ready meals I made before we left home, a pre-cooked pork joint from our local Asda, and some cereals and salads. Somehow we managed to forget desert size spoons, sugar, the milk we had in the fridge and bacon and chicken I’d taken out the freezer to thaw on the trip (helps the motorhome fridge cool quicker), we also didn’t pack our small frying pan ... all things being equal we’ve been a bit crap. However it’s not a cause for much stress, I think we’ve both survived with a lot less in similar situations, and I refer to my earlier comments; I’ve slept under canvas so having only one pan (a very good one that never leaves the Moho), plus a bog standard gas kettle and flask for hot water, aligned with all the other creature comforts, pretty much negates our short comings completely.
It may look at first glance as if we had a crap time, but the entire opposite is the case, we had a right old hoot, we got half cut with a bloke whose spent half his life in Sizewell B nuclear power station, we walked down an unlit B road with only a head torch for illumination, we swam in the sea, cycled, walked and caught the last of the summers proper sun ... great weekend thanks Shine.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

UK Realtors (Estate Agents)

What can you say? They are difficult. When the times were good they would look at your home knowing full well that the lenders would throw 95% to a 100% at any old knuckle dragger who could provide proof of income ... even if that proof of income was supplied by said knuckle draggers accountant (or at least on a sheet of the accountants headed paper), and included twice the basic salary plus 50% for good measure, based purely on the facade that the economy was running away like a steam train. We all know what happened with the banks next, and to be fair my arse is still feeling raw ... and I don’t have any debts except the mortgage, and it was entirely affordable before the general cost of living sky rocketed ... in the words of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Full Metal Jacket) they didn’t even have the goddamn common courtesy to give me (well the greater population of the UK really) a reach-around.

So what’s changed about estate agents? Well it seems they’ve all become better men from the experience of the crash ... ahem ... none of them feel like they are the typical estate agent and that they like to think that they break the mould ... all of them, they all had the same script. The latest recession has changed them, they’ve had a short sharp shock, six of the very very best for their sins and now are all repentance and verisimilitude ... ahhh isn’t that sweet. Nowadays they aren’t the evil in the system ... no siree, it’s not them that’s the problem ... they would “market the property at whatever asking price I pluck from the air”, “but?” (see repentance and verisimilitude above).

The estate agents now claim that the issue is the surveyors that do the valuation survey for the lender ... the bastards that in full knowledge of the shenanigans around lending to sub-primes here and abroad still made up pretend money, and did their own version of quantitative easing called ... interest free credit with nothing to pay until ... the shit hits the fan. The surveyor says the ceiling on the value is £xxxx and so the lender will only lend to £xxxx ... that’s probably how it’s always supposed to have worked ... it just happens to feel like shite when you think of how quick the money lenders were to heap debt on us just three and a bit short years ago.
Estate agents after pretty much twenty five years of running the show now feel like mortals again ... in their own scheming way. The early eighties was the start of the boom and despite the fact that there was a mid-point crash, estate agentery has continued to attract wankers of the first order looking to make a quick buck ... but without the bollocks to become a city trader or the brains to become a lawyer IMHO ... they must be motivated by the idea of owning a BMW M3 or something trendy and tinny with a soft-top if they are youngsters.
So what’s the scam now? Well from my perspective (and some may call humbug on my opinion) it’s the fact that estate agents still need to shift property to stay in a job, but clearly the margins have gone down in the mass market (that’s most middle income earners with anything from a one bed flat to a three bed house almost anywhere). To stay in the game they need to provide tick over-turn over,  to maintain the market in a virtual state of abeyance (Mervin King Bank of England Governor used the phrase “stable but static” regarding the UK economy just a week or two ago ... it’s the same thing just a few billions above your average mid terrace three bed along the Thames corridor ... Mervin King also said some time ago that it was a “bust without a boom” see interest free credit quip above ).

So three estate agents of five called back, three took their turn at telling me they were all different from the others, that their hands were tied, that it’s the lenders, surveyors that are the evil. And that our home is at the very best only worth £10k more than when we bought it three years ago, and that whilst it is immaculate we are competing with semis and end of terrace properties, so we should pitch low to get the footfall. I have to say the actual range was from a little over £5k value increase from the most pessimistic agent (that would imply that all our work is without any value at all) to a £16.5k increase (a risky punt, but we appear to have done everything you could ask).
 There are two ways of looking at this:
1.       Eat shit a billion flies can’t be wrong.
2.       Your trying to fuck me over because we’re easy low level turnover.
You need to do your research. If you aren’t willing to put in the hours then you just can’t expect to beg a reach around. We have been watching the market in this immediate area religiously since February (we’ve not viewed any properties other than via the web, papers or drive by’s) so we’ve seen the state of some of the properties coming onto the market. We’ve been to and past them so we can get an idea of what’s out there and whether we can compete. So, when two of three estate agents wave properties on their books and their perceived value under your nose pointing out that round the corner X property is only rolling around £xxxK, so yours is only as valuable as the lowest common denominator. You have to have a clue; you either need to know that that property is a shitehole from the outside and equally rough inside from the photos of decor fixture and fit, and in a rough or barren area and that yours is only similar in so far as it shares the same number of rooms and similar dimensions ... or you’re stupid and you will be led up the garden path, and the estate agent will walk away with the commission, and you’ll walk away poorer for the experience (again IMHO).

From this very recent experience and from the experience I’ve had selling a property during the early part of the last boom (when I made a shedload of cash from a sale), and selling in the second year of the last crash in 2008/2009 (we lost over £20k against the original purchase price in 2007), I’ve seen estate agents at their smarmy best, brimming with confidence, and at their smarmy worst basically tucking us up. What’s changed? Nothing. Maybe at some level there is a degree of honesty as applied according to the tenets of the TPO code of practice, but I don’t think I saw that last Friday. I think I saw a now desperate industry talking down the market playing a blame game and trying to get the leanest margin to pay the agents office rent and to tick over in hope of better days to come, and premium commissions from the top end of the market, that may be fewer and further between but 1.25% of 2.5million is a lot more than 1.25% 250k.
As final note: We went with the risky punt option, pitching between the semis and end of terrace properties, with their additional sideway access or full off street parking (we only have off street bays) and the skuzzers. I judged that with the work we have done; the blank canvas we have created inside and the neat and multi functional garden outside that our home has had the full Phil and Kirsty treatment. And that the balance for the prospective buyer is:
1.       Buy our home at the upper end of the price range for type: move in put your feet up relax ... wait for spring sort out your summer bedding, relax again.
2.       Buy a property at the lower price end and spend the difference between the lower end and the higher on making the lower end unit look tidy ... and still being skint and working every last hour into the bargain to get it right (We’ve just done that for the whole summer so we know how it feels).
I hope we’ve got the balance right. We took a shot on a repossession before we bought this place, it was a steal at under £120k. However when all was said and done, the size of the task in bringing it up to scratch would have cost at least £30k (bare minimum), and right now according to the estate agents we’ve just seen, we wouldn’t have broken even by today.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


I’ve never really gotten into Ebay; not because I’m not interested, but because time is more precious to me than money, and Ebay as I found out last night takes time and lots of it ... so I was right that not bothering until now was the right decision. However there comes a time when not diving in possibly becomes self defeating.
I have by various mean acquired twenty three 2000ad, Star Wars and Amtrak Wars related graphic novels, and they are almost all first editions. If they each sold for £10 then clearly I would make £230 or there about. All good, but what a pain in the arse if you aren’t inclined to selling second hand kit regardless of perceived value. For this potential £230 I would hope to buy a one of these It’s a boy toy I know but it’s ever so useful ... I’ve convinced myself, Temperature, Altimeter, Barometer, and Tide Times plus all sorts of other functions. What more could you want from a watch?
So there’s the reward for my Ebay hours. Below is the pain
First of all twenty three digital photos need to be taken, followed by downloading and tweaking said pictures, then you need to create an individual item sale (in part assisted by a template), then an in-depth inspection of each book to make sure any defects etc, are noted in the description to protect yourself from bad reviews or returns. Having done this whole process twenty three times, you are gifted with the paranoia that your £0.99 staring price will only ever make £1.00 and you will have shot yourself in the foot with what should be valuable (in someone’s world) memorabilia, and your shiny monster Casio G-shock watch recedes into the darkest pit of your pipe dream laden Id.
Annoyingly I found myself this morning loading the EBay App on to the Tab so I could see what was going on (if anything)? And then had to ask around about whether I should have put reserve prices on things.

At the same time as I did the Ebay thing I also put up an old but massive tent and a folding weights bench on Gumtree, I expected that by 10am they would be sold and my hotmail inbox would be overflowing with offers, but no ... not a sniff, and these items are going for a song,  because I don’t use them, they’ve been hanging around forever and I don’t want to pay for them to live in our lovely container.
I think ... no I know, this has always been my experience with selling stuff ... time, effort, paranoia, stupid questions, time wasters and tomfoolery. This kit has seven days to sell and then it’s going to get re-homed at the local charity shop, I shall be poorer in pocket but the bio-electric part of me interacting with the (postulated) Higgs field, known more commonly as my immortal soul (though there is no proof of its immortality as yet), shall feel happier ... mostly because I won’t have this irritating little fucking bee ... nay wasp now buzzing around in my bonnet saying “see how many bids and watchers you have” over and over and over again.

Nuff said.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Don't Pray For An Easy Life

Well it’s finally happened we’ve spoken to some estate agents, and subsequently Friday of this week will be a smarmfest of the first order. Clearly the market is depressed ... though to qualify that, one would have to say it’s depressed in a stable state. And according to some figures there have been gains in some areas, and losses in others and the obvious regional variations.
Interesting things to note about estate agents of late: A lot of them no longer have their own websites, in favour of hosting the properties for sale through Rightmove’s website. This is very handy, because as long as you aren’t a prat and un-tick all the boxes that default to “we are going to fill your email, in-box and you homes letterbox full of shit until you are dead”, the service they provide allows you to mail five (any number you like ... I just happen to have done five) estate agents all with the same text and the same details etc in the space of about five minutes.
I think an indicator of the state of the market is that I did that at ... lets say 10am Saturday morning and by 11am I had three appointments made for next Friday, and were it not for the fact that I don’t work Friday I could have had all the agents through the door in the evenings this week.  Clearly estate agents have gone from being the most hated trade to somewhere in the icky middle of trades disliked and mistrusted by all; bankers and solicitors  top the charts, with my personal third being social workers (traffic wardens are entirely avoidable by avoiding being a prat when you park).
What does this all mean? It means we need to play the game. And the game is don’t let the estate agents sell us down the river, but don’t make ourselves appears to be stroppy arseholes. The strategy is to get the estate agents to offer the best valuation, a realistic acceptance price and no fees unless they actually make the deal. I think the last time we moved we got swerved in the agents favour because we didn’t want to lose the house we eventually bought. On balance we should have held on for a few other offers, but I think the estate agent had a client in mind and was playing both ends against the middle in favour of the buyer not the seller ... this highlights another issue; don’t under any circumstances get involved in inclusive sell/buy deals with estate agents and don’t use their recommended legals ... take your time and find your own.
As mentioned in an earlier post, we want to be away on the 21st of March 2013, however that date has some flex in it ... it has to have. What happens if the winter is late and severe and there is still snow on the ground? Yes you can still go, but why start in utter misery? And then there is the speed at which the property process in this country moves ; six to twelve weeks just for the sale. That is of course after you have a positive bite and a buyer that can actually afford the price. And then there’s the buyers themselves and your default target audience ... ours is likely to be of African origin, and this does from experience present a few problems.
On a previous sale I made, I was asked by the buyer to wait until the estate agents period had expired and then they would deal with me direct ... I said no. They withdrew.
Next I had an offer, I accepted, then later the buyer came back and said he’d made an offer elsewhere, and if I wanted to complete the sale I needed to drop my price ... I was blunt with the agent ... the buyer withdrew.
And finally I made the sale and on the day of moving the buyer turned up early and asked where I was going with his furniture ... he genuinely thought he’d bought it with the house; I guess that’s the problem with English as a second language and getting all your paperwork done by your teenage grand children.
So these are the next hurdles to be jumped. I’m hoping for a smooth ride, but I’m not expecting one. When I was at school, there was a poster on a window in one of my form classes it read: Don’t pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person. There are lots of permutations of this piece of wisdom and the sources are allegedly many and varied ... but when all’s said and done, it’s definitely the way forward in mental attitude.
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