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middle aged

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I’ve been back at work for two weeks and I haven’t had time to draw breath until now. But I now have a four-day weekend (woo hoo) with only a little bit of work from home so I thought I’d catch up a bit.

During my week off Man and I went to the seaside town of Skegness. It was Man’s birthday that week and I’d promised him a trip on a roller coaster so we headed for Fantasy Island, a couple of miles up the Lincolnshire coast.

Now, in my defense, I actually did check the website first to make sure it was open and although it appeared a little like a ghost town at first, it actually was up and running -ish,

It’s a strange place. In the shadows of the coasters there is Europe’s biggest seven-day market.

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So there were actually shoppers and stallholders milling about.

In fact, only one of the bigger coasters was open, so we bought Man a ticket and went to find a convenient vantage point for me to try and get a photo of him en route.

I found one sitting behind these two, who were having a tea break and waiting for customers.

So I sat, looking up, camera at the ready, waiting for Man to whizz over my head … when he came walking round the corner.

Yes, the roller coaster was open, but 12 people were needed to run it and he was number 4. This could take a while.

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We had a look around the market, it appeared to be selling the usual tat, nothing original really.

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Buy your luminous feather boa here.

We returned to the coaster… Man was now customer number 5.

So we repeated the procedure.

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Here’s one you could have ridden on if there were enough customers.

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For about two hours we had no luck at all. We even returned to the ticket sales office and tried to coerce the woman into confessing how many tickets she had sold, to see whether or not it was worth waiting for customers six through 12 to put in an appearance.

In the end we gave up, drove into Skegness and had fish, chips and mushy peas on the beach.

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And then bought some doughnuts.

A few hours later, after mooching about on the beach for a while, we were about to head home when we thought we’d give Fantasy Island just one more try.

Miraculously, just as we arrived back, customer number 12 turned up.

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And Man finally got his birthday trip on the roller coaster. I think he enjoyed it :)

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I came across the weekly writing challenge for the first time last night so I thought I’d take a look.

The challenge was to comment on five random blogs, any topic you liked. Proper comments as well, not just putting ‘great post’.

So I gave it a go.

The first thing I typed in was British traditions and I came across a great post about running with flaming barrels in Ottery St Mary. I think that one is added to the list of things to see. But then this caught my eye (click here). He’s doing his own challenge like mine :) Well I had to comment on that one.

Then I searched for Middle Aged and found a very interesting blog from a lady just going through divorce. It struck a chord so I commented on that one too.

Next I tried something closer to home (well Man”s home anyway) and searched for Nottingham. I found this site (click here) with some amazing photos of Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, which is a place I love.

I searched for Albania and enjoyed reading about a journey through that country (click here). I then hooked out some of my own photographs of Albania, taken about six years ago and that brought back some happy memories.

Finally I typed in Dracula and found a review of the Bram Stoker book I have just finished reading myself.

It was a fun challenge, I’ve followed a few new blogs, a couple of people have followed mine and I learned some interesting stuff.

Now here are a few of those pictures of Albania I found, such a great place to explore … way to many octopi on the menus though :)

Wow, what a lot we packed in yesterday :)

We were up with the sparrows to drop step daughter to be off at work and then headed off into the wide blue yonder.

We packed in way too much to put into one post, which is great because it will probably keep me going for the rest of the week.

There were churches, a power station, the seaside and the Goth weekend at Whitby.

Taking photos there is number 18 on my Fifty before Fifty challenge.

We went to Whitby across country, stopping at a power station and three of the Churches Conservation Trust Churches and across the North Yorkshire Moors. What a great drive in the early morning autumn sun.

I don’t know why, but I was surprised by the number of people there. But I think the Goth weekends (which are held each spring and autumn) are gaining a reputation and people go along to do exactly the same as we  wanted to do … take photos of the weird and wonderful characters.

It was a beautiful day and Whitby is gorgeous. But more on the town itself in another post.

This post is devoted to the fabulous people we saw yesterday.

I think Man would have enjoyed it more had there been less crowds but, it was fun.

People go to amazing efforts to get into character and some of the costumes were outstanding.

I practiced my “May I take your photograph?” line over and over again. I’m getting better at this, the first time I did it was at the 1940s day at Papplewick Pumping Station. This was with people who had turned up for a specific event at a specific place and were expecting people to take their photograph.

Yesterday was one step further on. These were people who were dressed up for a specific event and were probably expecting people to take their photos but they were just milling around a town with the rest of the hoi polloi.

The next step will be to pluck up the courage to ask random people going about their business if I can take their photos.

The thing that struck me about yesterday is this Goth weekend did not just attract young people. In fact the vast majority of people I saw were at least my age, if not older. (And talking about age, my countdown clock has clicked down again – only 2.9 years till I’m 50!).

The costumes were amazing (Man kept laughing at me because I kept telling people that) and I had a lovely time photographing people. They had gone to such efforts.

One thing I did find, though, was that people had a very definite idea of how they wanted to pose, which usually involved them staring moodily into the distance. I was grateful to them though, for being so friendly and approachable and letting me photograph them.

I had loads of fun and that’s Number 18 checked off the list (I feel an update on the challenge coming on later this week).

 

Look at this photograph.

It looks like an office chair doesn’t it?

In fact, as it is in my office, behind my desk, it is not a great leap of faith to deduce that it is my office chair.

But, dear reader, here’s the thing … it isn’t.

It is an impostor and I have absolutely no idea how and when it got there.

You see my office chair was nicely broken.

As I am pretty short and mostly can’t reach the floor when I am the right height to use my desk, I have over many years developed the habit of sitting in a half lotus position (yoga) on my chair. I have both knees bent with my right foot tucked under my left thigh and my left foot on top of my right thigh.

This means that I wear away the material on the left front corner of my chair with my shoe and the foam crumbles all over the floor. And that is exactly what my office chair was like the last time I paid any attention (which I am pretty sure was only a day or so ago).

Midway through our busy press day yesterday, however, I suddenly noticed I was sitting on this.

This is quite obviously a new chair, which is all very lovely but mystery surrounds how it got into my office and where my old faithful seat has gone.

You see no one saw it arrive and there are 20 odd people sitting in the production department outside my office – and by that I mean there are around 20 people or more, not that the 20 people are odd (although some of them are lol) – you’d think someone would have noticed.

And I tend to be at my desk anytime between 5.30am and 7am in the mornings and leave between 6.30pm and 7.30pm in the evenings so unless the phantom chair switcher operates at night, you would think I would have run into them.

I asked every one and no-one knows how this has happened (although I have now reinforced their belief that I am slightly mad).

I even ran into the office manager and health and safety manager in reception and publicly accused them of the chair swapping deed, a crime they both deny strenuously.

As I regularly ignore emails from them with titles such as “workspace efficiency and awareness survey – please complete”, I honestly believed they were the culprits but their denials seemed genuine enough.

The only other alternative is that my office has rejuvenating properties and my old battered chair has become as new.

In which case, I should maybe sit in my office a bit longer and perhaps one day I shall walk out with the grey hair gone, baby smooth skin, 20:20 vision and four stone lighter :)

Neil.

This is Neil, my younger brother.

Brian.

This is Brian, my youngest brother.

Last week baby brother Brian turned 40.

Yesterday, both gorgeous daughters and their boyfriends, Neil and I met at my parents house to celebrate.

My sister and her husband and three kids were at the Olympics otherwise they would have been there too.

I know, 40th birthdays are ten a penny but Neil, who is now 44, and Brian weren’t expected to live that long.

They both have Down’s Syndrome and when they were born the medical profession wasn’t overly confident about their life expectancy. Just shows what they knew :).

It’s unusual to have two Down’s children in one family. The reason in ours is that Brian is adopted.

I must have been about nine when mum and dad saw Brian advertised for fostering in the local paper … ‘Sofa for sale’, ‘train to be a plumber’, ‘foster this child’. That sort of thing.

And if I was nine, that would have made Neil about six and our sister Steph about four. Quite a handful when you already have one child who has Down’s Syndrome and three children under ten, to then take on another toddler who has Down’s.

But my parents have a lot of foresight and they had a long-term plan.

They knew that at some point they would become to old to look after Neil properly, and they didn’t want either Steph or I to have to look after him when they presumed we would have our own families and so, they deduced, he would have to eventually go into some sort of assisted living accommodation. If they fostered and then adopted Brian there would be two of them and they could go somewhere together. Quite brilliant.

As life often turns out, it didn’t quite work out that way. Neil is far more able than Brian and although, when they did leave home, they did initially move somewhere together, eventually they moved into places separately that would cater for their needs properly. But they are close to each other and see each other and the rest of us often.

Brian needs more structure and organisation to his day. He needs to be told and shown what to do.

Neil lives in a shared house where they make their own meals and look after themselves to a great extent. He has a job at a garden centre (where he is the longest-serving employee), hobbies and interests. A few years ago he joined a church and was very proud when he took Communion. He is currently learning to play the drums (huge mistake, silly, silly people lol).

Growing up with them was never dull, always fun, and it still is.

Neil was a little bugger, always getting up to mischief. Sometimes it was unintentional like the time he decided to ‘help’ with the laundry and put an entire box of plaster in the washing machine instead of washing powder! That didn’t do the water system or the washing machine much good.

Sometimes he was deliberately being a little sod (he inherited the family evil sense of humour). He once made a bolt for it in a town centre and when we finally found him, he was sitting in the booth of a car park waiting until the cars came to the exit and then putting the barrier down so they couldn’t get out. The queue was huge and the car park attendant was terrified hehe.

Or there was the time he sent Brian out to sea. Dad had a rubber dinghy that he had tied a very strong piece of rope to. He’d put the boys in it and they’d bob along safely on the waves and when they were finished he’d pull them in. Neil put Brian in it, pushed him out to sea, threw the rope in after him and was standing on the shore waving and yelling ‘Bye Brian’ as Brian headed towards France. I had to swim out and pull him back :).

See, never dull.

No respect lol.

Having these two as members of our family has taught all of us a lot. Especially the next generation. My daughters and my sister’s two sons and daughters have always known people with special needs. It’s taught them tolerance and acceptance, compassion and understanding, as it has the rest of us.

This is what he thinks of big sis :)

Sadly, it hasn’t taught Neil or Brian any respect for their big sister … as you can see from the final two photos. They still stick their tongue out at me and pull stupid faces lol and I wouldn’t have it any other way :)

Butterfly? Moth? I don’t know the difference, maybe I should find out.

Yesterday I went out early with my camera, had a walk, took some photos and found a smelly dog.

I was quite pleased with some of the photos and I thought I would submit some to the stock photo site I’ve signed up with.

So I tried, only to discover that the first time you post you have to send them a copy of some photo ID for copyright purposes.

My passport expired about three years ago and I haven’t got round to renewing it. And – as I discovered yesterday – my photo driving licence expired last year.

Apparently you can be fined up to £1,000 for not having it renewed. Guess what I will be doing when the Post Offices open tomorrow!

So I can’t submit photos to the site until I can prove who I am – that’s probably going to take two weeks.

But all is not lost, I can still take more photos and then, when I have my ID I can start posting and see if they will accept them.

I also started writing my first article for the other site – Hubpages. Again, this hasn’t turned out to be as easy as I hoped.

What I want to do is to write a series of articles about places to visit in England. This, in itself, does not present a huge problem because Man and I explore all over the place and I have info and photos to create these articles.

But I want all the articles to tie together with the same format and I can’t figure out what that format should be. Maybe by the end of toay I will have worked it out, who knows?

I’m following the path one step at a time.

AND the countdown clock on my blog has gone down a notch.

There is now only 3.3 years to my 50th birthday.

At work the other day I was explaining to a colleague what I was trying to do.

“How long is it till your are 50,” she said.

When I told her, she said: “Well I’m surprised, you don’t look it and you certainly don’t act it.”

This made me smile.

Half an hour later another young colleague was talking about his mum.

Then he said: “How long is it until you are 60?”

This did not make me smile.

Swings and roundabouts, you win some, you lose some, etc etc.

Age isn’t actually something I’ve ever really been bothered about. I believe it is a state of mind more than anything else. If you want to feel old, then feel old – I’m not going to.

OK there are things that have changed over the years. It would be bad and wrong if I wore short skirts, I can’t read without my glasses and I can no longer stay up till 3am drinking red wine and function at work the following day.

But I can still have fun. And I can still strive for a life that I want to live. It’s never too late.

Quack.

Man sold another item on eBay yesterday (woohoo – more cash for the pot) and daughters number one and two sold a tool box of their father’s and donated the £10 proceeds to the cause.

The pot is increasing slowly and slow and steady wins the race.

Today’s tasks are to sort out some rubbish – oops, I mean  valuable second hand items – for next week’s car boot sale and to get creative with some cards.

At the moment, I’m just sitting in the garden on the laptop.

Stanley the angry sparrow is yelling furiously from the roof above me. He has a girlfriend. It hasn’t made him any less angry.