Tag Archives: Family

Weekly Photo Challenge – Now

This weeks photo challenge is to take a moment to notice your present, and share a photo of it.

Strangely I have spent a lot of time living in the moment over the past week or so as I took my family to Gran Canaria for a weeks holiday over Xmas.  It was great to get away and spend some time with my wife, my son and my sons girlfriend Saoirse.

Gran Canaria is such a beautiful place, especially when you get away from the coast and into the  mountains of the interior, I Hope my pictures do it justice.  I hope you like the pictures.

Frank Carter And the Rattlesnakes – [Photos]

Those of you outside the UK may not have come across Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes.

Frank Carter is one of the last of a breed, a true punk rock wild man.  Carter’s energy and aggression onstage has to be seen to be believed and when I say aggression that is exactly what I mean.  Frank has been known to punch members of the audience is they piss him off.

I caught Frank’s set at this years Reading Festival where he turned in an incredible performance.  On this occasion Frank even showed us that he has a softer side too 🙂

Those of you outside the UK may not have come across Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes.

Frank is one of the last of a breed, a true punk rock wild man.  Frank energy and aggression has to be seen to be believed and when I say aggression that is exactly what I mean.  Frank has been known to punch members of the audience is they piss him off.

I caught Frank’s set at this years Reading festival and Frank even showed us that he has a softer side too 🙂

Camp bestival

Camp Bestival – Lulworth Castle Dorset – 30 July – 02 August 2015

Where you at Camp Bestival last weekend?  If you were you  might find that I captured you on camera.  I will be posting a series of photo galleries of festival goers over the next few days.

Have a look and see if you can spot yourself, your children or your friends.  If you see anyone you know be sure to let us know.

Goodbye 2014, Thank You, And What A Ride It Has Been

So it is here, the end of yet another year and what a year it has been.  It is traditional to spend a little time reflecting on what has gone in the past year as we make our way into the new one to come.  So often we reflect on the sad or bad things that have happened and we think about how things will be better in the year to come.  As I sit here I cannot think of a single bad thing that has happened to me or my immediate family this year, it has been a year of almost constant highs.

My lovely wife has as always been a source of constant love and support, she recently left her job and is looking forward to an exciting new chapter in her life in January.  My son is doing well at school and is developing into a caring, happy, pleasant and well adjusted young man.  My nieces have made us all proud this year, Erin is doing well at Cambridge University, Dani did well in her GCSE exams and continues to develop her love of horses and her equestrianism.  Kirsty and her husband Clint have brought a new member, baby Lucy, into the family and her sister Karlyn and partner John will be bringing another new arrival in 2015.

I retired from work as a result of my depression back in February.  I confess I was a little apprehensive about this but it has been wonderful.  Only by leaving the police service behind have I come to realise how much it dragged me down, how deeply unhappy it made me.  Retirement has allowed me to leave behind the people who drained me and left me so unhappy.  I made a resolution last year to break away from negative people and to make more effort to spend time with friends, family and people I care about.  I have managed to do this and it has been a hugely freeing experience.  I was concerned about how I would spend my time, a concern that was totally unfounded, my days now are filled with creativity and things I enjoy doing.

I have written well over 400 articles on this blog, had well over 50k visitors and close to 1200 followers in 6 short months.  The blogging community is friendly and supportive and my blogging has lead to me waiting articles for an online music magazine and an online news outlet.  I have developed my interest in photography, completed a University short photography course and upgraded my camera equipment.  I look forward to undertaking more courses and developing my skills in the year to come.

Musically my year has been off the scale.  I have seen at the very least 270 live bands at the gigs and festivals I have attended.  I have continued to learn to play guitar, I am far from great but I do love to play and I look forward to continuing to learn and improve in 2015.  Over the course of the summer the weather was even kind with just one festival being a wet one.  I have my fingers crossed for similar in 2015.

Over the course of the past year I have made so many new friends and acquaintances, people who expect nothing from you other than to share your company and a beer.  people who want to share good times, spread happiness and enjoy life.  Thank you one and all, you know who you are.

So 2015 arrives with so much to look forward to, new lives to welcome, weddings to attend and no doubt numerous more happy experiences with friends, new and old.

So come on 2015, bring it on, we are ready and waiting.  Happy New Year to all my friends, old and new, to my family, but most of all to my wife and son.  it is going to be another great year.

The WordPress community – A depressive gives thanks

I must say I am feeling very humbled today.  Do you want to know why?  Well if you have five minutes, grab a coffee, put your feet up and have a read.  It may turn out to be a little bit of a long read, but it might be worth it, I hope so anyway.

Back in February of this year I was retired from the Police service in Dorset (UK) as a result of my ill health.  I have never been out of work for a single day in my life though I have had a couple of lengthy periods of sickness due to my depression.  Work related depression has been my companion for some time but after a lengthy bout in 2002 I managed to get back on top of it, returned to work and had some promotions and very responsible positions.

In 2011 I reached rock bottom again as a result of stress related depression.  I have so much to be grateful to my family for.  My wife and my son were stalwarts throughout the bad times, offering unwavering support even at times when I was  insufferable.  My son has just turned 16 and, to be frank, he shouldn’t have had to put up with what he did but he was an absolute star.  I did manage to get myself back to work in 2012 but I just couldn’t cope and was soon on sick leave again.  I was surprised but relieved when the decision was made to medically retire me.  Whilst I was relieved and knew deep down that I couldn’t cope with work I couldn’t escape the feeling that, there I was, on the scrapheap aged just 52.

Despite a good education, 8 years in the Navy and 29 years in the Police, a wealth of transferable skills and numerous years of experience as a trainer I did feel washed out and apprehensive about the future.  Now I have never been afraid to talk about my mental illness but I am all too aware that there is a general lack of understanding and a great deal of prejudice where mental illness is concerned.  I was concerned about how my family would cope and to how I would adapt to life without a job.

I have always considered myself lucky, I have a lovely family, a nice home, I live in a beautiful area and I have my dogs to keep me occupied when I am at home alone.  As those of you who read my blog regularly will know I have had a really busy summer immersing myself in one of my great loves. Music!  Family, friends, my dogs, Freemasonry and my music.  The five things that have helped me through all of the bad times and made my life bearable and worthwhile.  Since May though a sixth dimension has entered my life and I am really grateful for it.

Whilst I was still receiving counselling my counsellor advised that I should take up some creative pastimes.  Some 18 months ago I started to teach myself to play guitar.  I spend a little time most days playing guitar and learning new songs.  I do love to play and whilst I am by no means great I have reached a reasonable standard and I do love to sing.  Music has always been a huge part of my life and it always will be.  I love to immerse myself in music, I love music that makes you think, that is outside the mainstream and that has something to say.  I love music that challenges the establishment and that has a political message.  I wanted to channel my creative energies and I have always loved writing.  I have also had a passing interest in Photography.  What better way to channel my energy than to write about music and better still to illustrate my work with my own photographs.

In recent years I have become very cynical about politics, all of the corruption in the UK political system, politicians abusing the system, lining their own pockets at tax payers expense has brought me to believe the system is rotten to the core.  As an armed services veteran I am scandalised that our politicians continue to send our young men and women to war in places were we have no right to be, where there is no end game in sight and based on false premises.  I find it unbelievable that western governments cannot see that interference in middle eastern politics only builds Islamophobia in the west and radicalises young people in those regions.  Ultimately our policies in the regions will serve to create more terrorists not fewer.

So, as you can tell there is a lot going on in my world.  I really needed a medium to allow me to pull everything together.  As I started to explore options I came across WordPress.  After having an explore and setting up a trial site I slowly began to gain followers.  As I began to understand better how WordPress works I began to discover the WordPress community.  I was amazed that there is so many things going on, that there are huge numbers of people out there who share my views, who have similar interests and who want to talk about it.  I found people who love music, who are living with mental illness, who take photographs and who are willing to engage with others will similar interests.  I also found people who have interests so diverse I had no idea they would want to talk about them in a similar way to myself.  It must be said some of the interests I find bizarre, crazy even.

I was totally amazed to find that WordPress even runs classes to help us newbies to make the most of their sites, to network with others, to uncover hidden assets and to optimise their sites.  Whats more it is available to any WordPress user free of charge.  Amazing.

I have signed up for, and completed, Blogging 101, Blogging 201, Writing 101 and am now doing Photography 101.  These courses are all great fun, I have learned a huge amount and more importantly I have built up a great network of like minded people.  I would really recommend doing these courses, especially if you are early in your blogging career.

I am fortunate in that I have the time and enthusiasm to write most days and it seems that some people at least have an interest in what I have to say.  I won’t say that I haven’t had my dark moments.  There have been times where I have thought “Why Bother” but you know what if I stopped I would miss it.  As time has gone on I have seen a regular group of people making comments on my blog. My readership has started to expand and I now have nearly 850 followers.  In less than five months I have had almost 20 thousand hits on my blog and earlier today I had my 1000th ‘like’.  I have been nominated for several blogging awards and I now get 150 or more hits on my blog virtually every day.

I am stunned that so many people from all walks of life are interested in my little corner of the internet.  I find it so gratifying when someone makes a comment on my blog, when people like my photographs or share my love of a music album or an interest in a band.  I like it when people take the time to discuss a point of view even, or perhaps especially, when they disagree with my own views.  In the five months I have been blogging I have only had one negative experience, that was when I challenged a persons views on a difficult and contentious issue.  To be fair I should have realised from the tone of that persons site that an opposing view would not be discussed rationally.

Last but by no means least I have been totally amazed by the wonderful people who have reached out when I have written about my mental illness.  Some of these people have some experience of living with mental illness, either themselves or in a loved one.  Others have little or no experience but what they have all shared is a sense of empathy.  The willingness to just reach out and say hello or “Thanks for sharing, stay well”.

So many people write so powerfully about their own experiences, whether this is to discuss their experience of being a survivor of mental illness, of domestic abuse, of rape or of any of the myriad challenges that we humans face.  People write with courage, with fortitude and sometimes even with humour about the dark times. You find everything here on WordPress, everything from the born comedian who writes a few lines that make you smile.  The poets who artfully turn their thoughts into prose to surprise and delight us, the artist or photographer who shares a little beauty with us in the shape of a photograph.  There are those, like me, who just write on whatever captures our imagination on any given day, who write just as an outlet, sometimes emotional, sometimes dull, sometimes nonsensical, just giving their thoughts a voice. Some, again like me, jump onto the often fascinating daily or weekly prompts and some just throw random, sometimes irreverent thoughts around.

There is one thing that binds WordPress writers together though.  You are all amazing.  I offer heartfelt thanks to every single person who has visited my blog, left a comment, hit the like button, nominated me for an award or just dropped in, found nothing of interest to them and moved on.  Each and every one of you give me another reason to carry on writing and that helps to make my days a little better and helps me to cope with my depression 🙂

Out of Breath – The daily post

Todays daily prompt is to talk about the busiest day we have had in the last decade.  My busiest days in a longtime came at this years Larmer Tree Festival where I was working as a photographer whilst at the same time interviewing artists for this blog and trying to spend time with my wife 🙂

Larmer Tree Music festival

its Friday, its hot

rise early, eat quickly

photographs to take on Larmer Lawn

people relaxing

Doing tai chi

not me

I’m in a rush

photo’s to download

edit, save and pass on

for festival publicity

in a rush

three interviews, then

photographs to take of

children at play

bands to see

Celloman, hackney colliery band

We were evergreen,

Beans on Toast

met Frank Turner



Frank turner


Matthew and me

Dub pistols

Thunder storm

rush back to the van

through pouring rain

write up the days events

all for my blog

15 hours on my feet

forgot to eat

fell into exhausted sleep

The essentials of life

Yesterday was a funny day!  I mean funny as in laughter, as opposed to funny peculiar.  Well actually scrap that last comment, there was a fair bit of peculiar on display too.  We had friends over for dinner you see.  

Dinner was a simple affair, home made smoked salmon and smoked mackerel fishcakes served with a warm beetroot salad, stuffed Chicken Breasts wrapped in proscetto followed by cheesecake and topped of with a range of local cheeses. The evening was fuelled by rather a lot of wine.  Actually the wine helped but in reality the evening was fuelled by laughter.

Laughter!  Such a precious commodity, one that we perhaps take for granted.  In the past couple of years I have come to realise just how precious a commodity laughter is.  I suffer from depression you see and depression has a tendency to suck laughter out of your life.  You certainly don’t feel like laughing when you are ill but more than that people around you don’t feel that they can laugh either.   There you are, a little black cloud sucking the laughter out of the room by making your friends and family feel that it is somehow wrong to be happy when they are around you.  It’s not true of course.  How people act around you has little effect on how you feel when you are ill.  For me at least it is great to see people laughing when they are around you.  It means they are comfortable, it probably also means that you appear better, at least to some degree.P7195389

As I reflected on my weekend I got to thinking about my summer.  It has been really busy and thankfully a lot of people have come into my life.  As I have travelled around my music festivals this year I have been able to relate to people in a social setting.  I have been happy to chat and mix rather than shunning people and most importantly I have made some wonderful new friends.  Now I won’t pretend that I am ‘better’, I am not.   I cannot deal with any type of stress, even small levels of stress can send me into a tailspin.  I am still taking large doses of medication, I still feel very poorly at times but having said that, being retired on medical grounds has helped me so much.  Not having to face the daily grind has removed a huge amount of the pressure of daily life, I am grateful for that as it has allowed me to take a very important step in my life.

P7195372That step sounds like a simple one, but for those suffering from depression it is massive.  I have allowed people into my life!  Sounds simple doesn’t it.  I have been able to talk to people, to realise that they are willing to accept me for who I am, that they don’t always want something from me and that most people are warm, kind, caring and generous individuals.  I have met so many wonderful people over the last 6 months that my faith in human nature has been, at least to some degree, restored.    Those people have brought something back into my life, something that, at times, I thought had gone forever.  They have brought back laughter.  I shall be forever in their debt.