No title yet – maybe indicative.

I’ve just come back from a walk. 3.37 miles, 55 minutes. I listened to an audiobook through the walk. Shorts, t-shirt and a hoodie. Cold nose upon return. I don’t remember more than a few minutes of the walk. I get back to the hotel, into the sports bar to get a soda water. I’m rock n roll. They’ve run out of sliced fruit.

The bar has been closed all day, just opened at 5pm. A new Coronavirus measure. All big screens are showing Boris’ daily Coronavirus update. Further restrictions to social gatherings. Pubs, restaurants, gyms all closing from today. So I’m not sure how the hotel is going to operate or at least feed us under such restrictions. There’s talk of a lockdown. A conference call at 20:00.

[EDIT] all hotel facilities apart from room cease from 21:00 tonight.

What will we do? The talk is of staying at home. Right now we don’t have one. Do we take Ellie back to the house? No, read next paragraph.

The council meeting today went ahead in an otherwise empty council office. They’ve proffered the idea of issuing a dangerous buildings notice on the house. That would effectively condemn it and write it off. The insurance companies solicitors will have view on this. We’re pending responses all round.

Walking around Whitchurch, where the hotel is, and where I grew up; It’s a lovely area but everything looks dated and shabby. It’s a desirable area; It reminds me of some of the space starved parts of London. Anywhere there used to be a triangle of grass there’s now a quirky triangular house with a family of hipsters living there. People pay high mortgages for horrible properties. I love my house, my dream home. Space either side, large garden, huge drive, great views. The thought of what we would do if forced from our home disturbs me greatly. Go into some old property, a triangular house somewhere. I can’t even grow a hipster beard. There are no new properties in our village left. Redrow have properties available. I’m not giving Redrow my money. But would I if I had to? That’s just not fair! I’m allowed to feel selfish too.

By the way, the streets are busy, kids everywhere. Town was busy today as I rode the bike through. People exercising outdoors. I have mixed feelings about this but don’t really have the energy to concern myself with it. I’ll just keep keeping clear of people. Idiots in the bar, too many Guiness’ offering their wise comments, even family members being selfish. No common sense! No sense of responsibility. My parents are dead. I would isolate for years to bring them back.

Do you ever talk to yourself, munging through your own thoughts; wondering if your thoughts and actions demonstrate you may actually be going a bit mental? Mine do sometimes. It dawned on my just before my walk, and throughout it. This minimalising stuff. Earlier today I had written a note to myself on my lists and notes app. It reads,

“Back in the house, throw everything away. Leave nothing left but one bag worth.”

The bag is a small messenger bag, half full with the few things I’ve kept. A few watches, some expensive things for specific occasions.

So my brain suggests I throw everything else away. (Not the Star Wars Lego or lightsaber obviously.) Then I wonder, is this a self-control thing. Control the problems you can control. Is this a shield or barrier thing, a defensive mechanism. Self protection against the house situation or ‘life’?

I’m writing this because I’m trying to work it out right now. I don’t know. Munging!

Shrink ‘shoulder Angel’ says I’m getting rid of everything on my own terms so I can’t have it taken off me on someone or something else’s terms. I can’t help think there maybe something to this.

I’m pretty sure I don’t actually care about all the stuff. I haven’t cared about anything I’ve removed thus far. I’m not emotionally invested in it. Not attached to it, so removing the thing frees up the space, physically and mentally, and if there’s no connection or attachment then there’s no problem. But will there be a problem later? That sticky plaster analogy comes to mind. Thanks for the coping mechanisms Freud. Somebody wiser might say to temporarily remove these things from view so later you can return them. The problem is the only real catharsis one get is from the total removal of the ‘thing’.

If I’m honest, Right now I just want to go hire a skip, go home and throw everything away. I’ve had that feeling for a few days. Not fleeting. What stuff would I keep?

  • Running stuff
  • Motorbike stuff
  • Bicycle stuff
  • Water sport stuff
  • Skateboard

The hobby stuff. Keep the thinks you love. Throw the rest away. Very little other material stuff left. Would it end there? I don’t believe I would want to replace any of it.

Am I addressing a numbness of some sort? Almost certainly. Get rid of the problem stuff, get rid of the problems. Who knows? What’s left afterwards? Everything that remains. There’s a book title there ( not mine).

Fortunately I’ve no desire to minimise the kitchen or house furniture, or Even Sim and Ellie’s stuff. Fortunately!

Again, honestly, not sure about pressing publish today. I wasn’t going to write for a week. I had to get this out. Do I want anyone else to read this.? Not really. Hopefully I figurative flush some of this away by getting it out there. Family see it, friends see it, work sees it. Nothing I’m ashamed of, nothing I want to talk about, just pain shared to hopefully… What? I’m not sure. I think that’s okay too, to not know.

Or is this just part of these very strange times.

Thanks Suzi. X

Zombie hoard.. Use your “BRAINS………”

Everything I want to say is in The Minimalist Pandemic Preparation podcast and YouTube video. Don’t join the hoard. Please go watch or listen to it.

In this episode of The Minimalists Podcast, Joshua and Ryan discuss the appropriate preparation and response to societal crises with the Director of Entrepreneurial Education for the Foundation for Economic Education, T.K. Coleman, and they answer the following questions:

Some questions and answers discussed

  • How likely is a minimalist to survive in a catastrophe?
  • How do I quarantine for 2-6 weeks as a minimalist?
  • What should I do with my time while socially excluding.
    • Go Read a novel
    • Put in some family time
    • Put in some creativity time
    • Get some exercise (go listen to ‘Parklife’)
    • Try and live mindfully, good practice for now and later on.
    • Consider what you need ‘just for when’ not ‘just in case’.
    • Do some research – think for yourself.
    • Minimalise. Go round your house, look at what you need, what you would need if you had to take your possessions quickly and go. I took myriad objects that, as I moved from hotel to hotel, just went back to the house. Not needed. A month later I’m still doing it.
    • Don’t become a prepper.

Think…

Every little thing, you think that you need, I bet you will be fine survive without it.

Tip…

Bathrooms normally have showers. Think about if you could survive without toilet paper.

All the above is because I’m now sorted and as someone who’s been socially excluding for forty six years, I’m well practiced. I have everything I need. Keep it simple and keep safe zombies. 🧟🧟‍♂️

For me, time to go read for a while. I’ll be back in a week or so…

A wee bit of me time.

Hotel Breakfast was further restricted. One coffee each. STOP THE MADNESS 😱

I took Ellie to school. We listened to a Star Trek audiobook en-route. Ellie loves it though I’m disturbed that she’s listening out for Spock 🖖 in a Picard Audiobook. It is cool that Ellie says that’s a Daddy & Ellie thing. We’ve still not sat down and watched Star Wars back to back. There may be isolation benefits to come. NO, we’re not actually isolating, all healthy here. Promise.

Back to the house after a quick update to the Mum’s; a speedy change then off to take the bike for a service. I cancelled the planned service last month, just after the storm. I decided to go today, get some me-time. While they were doing their thing, a non-essential product recall I took a very practical motorbike out for a test-ride. I have a Ducati XDiavel, it’s amazing, makes me feel alive as well as a bit bonkers and occasionally slightly scared. I tried out a Ducati Multi-strada. It was extremely sensible. A massive tourer, much higher ride height than my cruiser. More fairing and wind protection than some convertibles I’ve owned. (I’m a car and bike nut). Seventy mile per hour (honestly), in the rain, with the helmet visor still open, ‘IN THE RAIN’!; heated seat and grips. Pure luxury. I would never buy one! It was way too easy to ride. A bit Japanesey. Nowhere near as engaging to ride as I would like. My beast requires a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to handle and ride well. And, a bit of sheer will and grip to hold on when the throttle opens. It’s classed as a techno-cruiser. It’s an amalgamation of a sports bike and a cruiser, something to fit a market I’m not sure exists. Unless it’s just for people like me. Whatever that is…

So, I’ll clearly buy one in around three and a half years when I hit fifty. (I know only children or those childlike use half-years. (Hehe)).

On the way home, just popping into the Service station to show some support for the local shops, you understand?! Burger King. Minute on the lips etc; but wow, what a minute! An XL Bacon Double Cheese Burger (deserves capitols) is one of my guilty pleasures. I cannot go through an airport, and definitely not through Paddington train station without picking one up. I used to travel to Dublin weekly for work. Burger King at Dublin Airport, and the breakfasts at the Dublin Gresham were the highlights of the week. That and the Dublin Taxi drivers. They should collectively run for President, Prime Minister and every other political power, such is their wealth of knowledge and experience. To be sure!

Ready steady cook is on TV when I get home, back to the hotel at 15:30. Did I just call the hotel home? Merde! Maybe time to think about returning to work. So time for a reassessment. I just took the Post Traumatic Stress test again. I got nine out of ten first time.

Some of the most common symptoms of PTSD (It’s not disorderly) include the following:

    Intense feelings of distress when reminded of a tragic event. “No, unless I think of Redrow”
    Extreme physical reactions to reminders of trauma such as a nausea, sweating or a pounding heart “No”
    Invasive, upsetting memories of a tragedy “Yes”
    Flashbacks (feeling like the trauma is happening again) ‘No”
    Nightmares of either frightening things or of the event “Yes”
    Loss of interest in life and daily activities “Haven’t we all right now, but mostly No”
    Feeling emotionally numb and detached from other people “No”
    Sense of a not leading a normal life (not having a positive outlook of your future) “No”
    Avoiding certain activities, feelings, thoughts or places that remind you of the tragedy “No”
    Difficulty remembering important aspects of a tragic event “No”

Two our of ten. I’m almost cured. No wait, I was thinking of this in relation to my latest work project. 🤣

The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse ride, (and a pessimist from Shrewsbury).

Talking briefly to a friend and colleague (electronically because #Zombieapocalypse) I realise we’ve both been touting the four horsemen. Just sayin. If two people say it over email it’s true isn’t it? See Candyman.

As an aside, swimming this afternoon. Hotel pool, virtually empty. Ellie and Sim practicing Ellie’s progress atop the water, me underwater. Ellie is not a natural but that’s okay. She’s a natural at many other things. I don’t expect her to follow me in any specific ways. There’s some acceptance to be had there. Regardless, free diving practice, doing lengths underwater. Another place I feel very at home. I know I’ve mentioned it already a few weeks ago. But, it’s so peaceful down there. While not doing lengths underwater I just fool around, like a seal, twisting, turning, grabbing Ellie’s toes. Acting exactly the way I did when I way Ellie’s age, younger even. It’s it great when we can have fun, our own way, doing exactly what we love, which is exactly what we did when we were five years old, and having just as much fun.

Better Call Saul or Homeland tonight. Both final seasons. Lindt bunny and Ovaltine. (No Ovaltine, maybe tomorrow night if there’s any left)

Stay safe out in there kids.

A lovely Sunny day

I took Ellie to school this morning, as I do most mornings. Then I headed back to the house as I do most days also. I go to check on the status, see if anything’s changed. Both on our house but also on the development. Plus I do the clothes washing, but that’s not interesting to talk about. Redrow are making a pigs ear in many ways. They are doing rework upon rework upon rework. There is a definite left hand doesn’t know what the right hand scenario going on. The whole development entrance road has temporary traffic lights for the umpteenth time. There’s a temporary gravel road for access. I bet a fire engine couldn’t get down the road right now. They’ve dropped a new manhole including housing into the middle of the road to provide access to the sewers, cables etc down below. It’s like they find a new requirement or realise they missed something previous and react rather than planning ahead. Tee amount of tarmac and/or pavement and curb stones that have gone down, up, down, up, down is ludicrous. Many other local developments are built without this degree of rework. It’s bonkers. Maybe a few months away and we’ll come back to a lot of this completed. That is if I could bring myself to stay away. Even when I work away for two days per week I’m excited to come home and see what’s developed. They could make great strides to make the appearance of the development significantly better if they wanted. I think that because of the other matters in the nation right now will rightly delay everything. Personally, I obviously support that view, as hopefully we all do. Once the present national and our local family issue is resolved I have no doubt that the development, when complete will look beautiful.

So today, I’ve washed the windows, at least those I could reach. The ones that back onto the river, I’m not sure even Mr tickle could reach. I’ve tidied the garden, weeds can wait till another time. I’m not that gung-ho, though cabin fever might make drive me to dig out the trowel. Or, I may go off and buy some chemicals for that. Mother Nature and I aren’t quite on speaking terms right now.

I’ve listened to around 6-7 hours of The Minimalists podcast today, These listenings, as part of my own personal journey (I’m not enthusiastic about that term), and learning curve, are partially responsibly for the way I handle stress and deal with ‘stuff’. In crisis, fix, repair, make-good. A lot of this is simply giving a name to my extant behaviour, though, to be honest, I’ve acted this way since childhood. It’s probably a control thing in a tight situation. It’s good mind space to help recover and even occupy myself through the boredom of waiting for some key decisions to be made. So I minimalised an entire cupboard. Not just tidying shelves here. Remove furniture, the whole tamale. Gone, poof! My stand up desk now has nothing surrounding it. The stand-up desk, keyboard, mouse and monitor; laptop hidden. Serenity restored. Or, depending upon your view maybe more to do with my sanity than serenity.

I still can’t help think that the view is now even more stunning than it was. Squint and imagine the aggregate bags weren’t there. I welcome ideas on how once the land goes back, we can erect a fence that will retain the view and provide privacy? A Bond villain lair type of thing.

Ellie is on a play-date downstairs in the hotel lobby with Sim, and friends. I watch the Boris Johnson Coronavirus update in the room.

No social meetings, including crowded places, restaurant, pubs etc.

Did I mention that Sim and Ellie were downstairs for a social meeting in.a crowded place with a restraint and pub? I go down to meet them, into the foyer and restaurant come sports-bar. It’s dead in there. Poor choice of word; very quiet. We’re not exposed to the toilet-roll frenzy or other supermarket craziness but we are exposed to the other social activities with targeted suggestions and advice. Out hotel is used for conferences, meetings, and other large social gatherings. It’s quietening day by day. Room cancellations due to the Rugby being cancelled; meetings adjourned. Conferences cancelled. They’ve revised the breakfast and evening meal menus, restricted options as they concentrate their menu to the likely candidates. The bar and lobby staff are very chipper! I think they’ve been fed the World War two positivity mantra. Stiff upper-lip.

It is quite surreal to watch it unfold. I wonder if this has an affect on our Council meeting on Thursday. I live and breathe conference Calls, hopefully no cancellation. British spirit, pull together Council.!

The insurance company called rather urgently today. I was immediately nervous. Fears quickly suppressed, our Insurance Technical assessor guy has been great. He was clearly knocked for six when he saw the damage. He’s been very supportive and positive. It’s not as bad at it could be, he said. Agreed. As it turned out the conversation was positive, He agreed we have cover for our insurable interest. That’s the land within our boundary.

We have cover for our insurable interest.

They’ve also instructed their solicitors to put pressure onto Newport council and Newbridge construction to reinstate the area. Our Insurers are willing to collaborate and co-operate though Newport City Council have an obligation to comply, and quickly. Their job will be onerous. Next we await contact from the team that will work with our requirements and seek to rehouse us. We also await contact from the Insurers Solicitors as they will help to recover us in other ways.

I used to have a phone app called Zombies Run where you run listening to music and interspersed with radio content from a zombie apocalypse. Periodically you pick up supplies for the cause all the while speeding up as you run away from the zombie hoard. I may download and run with it again in light of circumstances. Boris did say to go out and exercise still.

Stay safe out there survivors…

Getting a bit bored now.

The house is tidy, more so than if anyone lived in it. It looks a bit like a show home, just don’t check out the rear garden.

I’m now looking at the metal fence and some of the hardware Redrow have left when they removed support. I’ve asked them to remove it on Monday. If they don’t, I will. It’s ruining my grass! (Perspective) Let’s hope it doesn’t need to go to the legal team as everything else now does. Sim said not to remove the fence incase some eejit breaks in and hurts him (or her) self falling into the river. I say, fuck-em. If they are going to be that stupid they deserve all they get. Monday is going to be a sunny day apparently. It’s gardening time I feel. Out it comes.

(Time passes).

Oops, got bored. Did I mention I’m not much of a sitterdownanddoonothinger?

You can’t deny the lovely river view now. I’m thinking about a half height fence when it goes back. I had an idea when we moved in about a glass wall or fence. I wonder if I can wrangle that out of the insurance…. Maybe a hot tub in the corner overlooking the river.

All this because I wanted to hose the faithful steed down this morning when I parked her up.

I think my glass is half full attitude may be on the comeback. I can sit in the hot tub with a double fuckem on the rocks with a cheeky dash of dontletthebuggersgetyoudown, and a straw, and a parasol, and some fucking fruit! No ice!

I know Sim and my attitudes to accepting that we may have to move back into this house at some point differ right now; that’s one of the hard parts. We are not in the same place emotionally all the time, because how likely is that? That’s where the tag-team comes in. One is ahead, one passes the baton, the other catches up. Not quite in sync all the time but the same team in the same race. We’ve discussed this, a lot. We don’t have all our own answers yet. As long as we are mutually supportive, appreciate and respect one another and, occasionally hang back to let the other one catch up. Different position’s, same race. The finish line may look very different for each of us too. That’s part of the reason I’m back doing what I can at the house. Exposure and to make it as right as I can for Sim. Results won’t be in for a very long time yet, though I fear I know already.

I think I would be great in one of those teeny weeny tiny transformer micro houses. Insert transformer transforming sound as the walls expand and the sink becomes the bath and the walls slide expanding the living room into the bedroom. So cool. I could self isolate for ever. I think Sim and Ellie would love one of those. I think I’ll remortgage in secret and surprise her. What do you think???

I received a card from work today. Thanks guys n gals. There was a special message inside.

“Look on the bright side, this would save on all the expenses of fitting solar panels. And… you can mill your own flour or go hydro-electric.

I’m glad there are also those out there with as dark a sense of humour as I. Hilarious,, but glad it’s said 4 weeks after.

I’m sat in the living room writing this. I’m waiting for amazon. A two in one charging cable. Fucking amazing. I can throw out the bulky two chargers and just use the one new tiny one. That’s progress. Or am I still addicted to consumerism? No, I actually think I’m a lot free’er, lessons being learned and applied here. Anyway, when we moved into the development the road ended at our next door neighbours house. It’s grown a lot since then. The development is almost complete. We’ve always been used to people driving past slowly, staring first at ours and our neighbours house only, then as the site grew, all the houses in the row. We’ve acted like the ‘here’s what you could live like’. House. Bizarrely that slowed and stopped in the past six months or so as fewer people were window shopping (our windows). No though, as I watch out, an awful lot of cars, and passing people slow and rubberneck. I’ve started staring back, I’ve even winked a few times. I blew an old lady a kiss last week. You have to get your kicks where you can.

Right, amazon just arrived. Taking my two in one charger and myself to soft play to get told off for taking the fence down.

And Publish!

Busy doing nothin.

Working hard, or hardly working.

This week I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve failed miserably.

As part of this enforced social exercise, one thing I want to do is concentrate my efforts to be less busy and more productive. Spend less time shuffling the same piece of paper around; To use time more wisely. To be more intentional and essential.

This week I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve failed miserably. It’ll come as a surprise to nobody that dealing with large companies, insurances, assurances, financials, corporate’s and the government is like ripping out your own fingernails with a pair of pliers. It takes ages, you know it’s going to be painful and it bloody well is. And of course it’s entirely counterproductive and leaves you in a worse state than when you started. And, essentially pointless.

Newport County Council Update

The Newport County Council’s electronic telephone system is shocking. Five redirects and a computer that hears, listens to, processes, responds and puts you ‘straight through right away’ but has the systems Artificial Intelligence has the processing power of a ZX81 and the language skills of ‘Speak & Spell‘ Look, I’ve heard myself on the telly recently. I sound like a Welsh gay truck driver on acid from Tonypandy, (Sorry that demographic),. But I can bloody well annunciate a simple name. I think they went a bit politically correct and bought the Welsh as a first language version.

This rant is in place of the one I want to do about Newport County Council (CC) and Welsh Government (WG) that would likely be entirely slanderous and get me sued.

And that rant, in itself, would be in place of the one I want to do about Redrow. Similar lawsuit. And on that subject – an email today saying Redrow will no longer communicate with us via any method other than their legal team. I asked if the two days touch-up decorating they were planning on doing this week but didn’t turn up for were going to happen. I won’t hold my breath. When Redrow put a bloody great crane on my drive and they knackered our garden they did so knowing they would have things to fix. I think I may just have some fun out of this when they have to repair some of their own damage.

You get the gist.! Maybe this should be the Displeased Minimalist.

As a finale to the working day’s events I finally get an agreement to a meeting next Thursday with the Newport CC Head of City Services and Development & Regeneration Manager. This is overseen by the Strategic Director. I am going to strive towards optimism on this. The work they need to do is for the protection of the development as a whole so how can they not? Naïveté! Don’t prove me wrong Council guys and gals. I hope this isn’t another meeting without an agenda. I’ve set one myself; further requirements to come from my Insurance company. I’ll take a clipboard, or as I like to call it, ‘Sim with a pen’.

  • What are the individual Newport CC work streams.
  • What do the Newport CC reparation activities look like (intent/content/duration).
  • Will those activities concentrate initially on preventing further damage to my property. An insurance requirement no doubt.
  • What their planning enforcement case/complaint is looking to achieve beyond seeking to identify if there has been a breach of planning control, and what the outputs are intended to be.
  • See output from Newport CC Senior Planning Enforcement Officer report.
  • Ask Newport CC to enforce the fact that Redrow are in breach of their obligation to ensure the house they sold to me was safe; what will the council do to protect me and the development as well as future developments?
  • Llanover Estates/Newbridge Construction originally owned the bank. They owe Redrow and their successors a ‘right of support’ particularly if they undertook the enabling work and sold the land to Redrow then gifted to Newport CC; Of course we know there was no enabling work done. Negligence.
  • Welsh Government and Newport CC are negligent in failing to condition the planning permission in respect of bank armouring;
  • Raise Welsh Government’s failures and lack of care, to be escalated to our local AM with a request that the matter is raised in the Assembly. Complete – needs progressing and feedback.
    Raise the same to Newport Council, in light of Redrows brutal lack of support Newport CC should provide care;
  • Welsh Government, Newport & Redrow have all have an obligation to take care of me and my family and temporarily re-house us, not at my insurance expense.
  • Ultimately, it is likely that Newbridge construction should be held primarily responsible due to the ‘right of support’ requirement.


Insurance update

Following the Insurance Field Surveyor visit on Thursday, they will be reviewing our cover and discussing all aspects of your claim early next week and you will be contacted mid-week to clarify the way forward. There will be questions to address to Newport CC for the above meeting.

I’m led to believe I’m powerless over people, places and things. I’ve come to believe that each individually is okay and manageable. In combination they’re a megalafuckoffasaurus and I’m screwed. 🦖

Notwithstanding all the above, Sim and I divided to conquer today. I went home to tidy up our already extremely tidy house. The Insurance man said it was okay to be in at the time being. That will change over time if nothing is done. My real reason to go home was to minimalist more. Is it weird that I calm my mind by tidying stuff up. No I won’t come round your house to declutter. It’s brutal at the early stages. Even after the many cycles I’ve been through, I go through the same stuff the hundred and umpteenth time and find more things to minimise. I look at ‘stuff’, think about how much it’s crossed my mind in the past month. If I can honestly say it hasn’t, it doesn’t bring me joy or value and doesn’t have a specific future use (phew, the belly-board stays) then it’s either recycled (charity shop) or goes in the bin. Well, the Redrow skip. My bins went on a surfing holiday down the Ebbw. There’s still quite a lot of stuff I own in the house, an IKEA SKUBB‘s worth to be precise. It’s still irking me I’ve got all that stuff, as I want to get down to as close to nothing as possible. A few residual gadgets, an R2-D2 I just can’t get rid of because he’s too cool; my watch collection I will not reduce further. I’ve put the SKUBB under the bed for now, before I get a twitch.

My travel suitcase turned into a rucksack, then into a laptop case and now into a tiny laptop sleeve. iPad, keys wallet, headphones, kindle. Is there anything else? Tissues (joking, honestly). Still, I can’t actually bring myself to minimise the bags. I’m a bit of a bag lady Man. Manbag’s are great. Maybe a toiletry bag only by this time next week.

On a steel horse I ride

I spent a few hours on the bike this afternoon. Cruising, zooming, taking it easy or taking out Porsche’s. It was amazing! I’ve locked her up outside in the hotel stable. I hope she’s alright overnight and some gobshite hasn’t gotten jealous and done something to her. She was excellent medicine today. Thanks XDiavel. Nitey Nite…

A call from Sim, on the way back from Tee-Rex Soft play. I assume Ellie went too. Off down the restaurant for tea. The hotel restaurant and bar are getting quieter day by day. Don’t dare sneeze without Walter White and Jesse Pinkman showing up. Another glorious feast on Redrow I feel. Maybe a massive slice of chocolate cake for desert. Mwahaha. I will be up at 6:30 tomorrow, off for a walk-run with my retired running buddy. I’ve not seen for some time. It’ll be great to catch up and go explore the Taff Trail’s devastation. Get out of myself for a while.

On a more positive note. I’ve been an introvert all my life. Self isolating is my modus operandi.😷

A retrospective. A day off off days.

Another revelation today.
Sim is becoming a minimalist, by accidental necessity. She’s learning what it’s like to be more with less. She even intentionally decluttered this afternoon. Two full-to-bursting bags removed from the hotel.

BOOM!!!

Also, Sim hugged me this morning; nothing unusual there. I was up earlier today, dressed, all in black, as usual. She had talc’ed herself after a shower. My black jeans ended up looking like I’d had a lap dance from a coke head.!

I experienced an unexpected benefits to minimalism after Breakfast too. Seems having fewer things means you have fewer to lose. Still, I spent a frantic two minutes hunting for the keys that were in my jacket pocket all along. This has happened a few times now this past few weeks. Senior moments, flapping, flustering, stress. Probably a bit of each.

(Time passes)

We’re in the Cardiff Central library now. All sorts of all types of ‘lovely’, ‘normal’ people here. Nothing to see here. There’s more hand sanitizer being handed out than I care to think about. Not a hand-shake in the building. Doors opened with sleeve covered hands. This is my first exposure to normal life in a few weeks, anything other than house related back and forth activities and the occasional Sunday Lunch, I’ve not been out much. Not even a supermarket sweep in over three weeks. BTW, there’s loads of toilet roll in the hotel. 🚽🧻 (never thought I would use those emoji’s). Is this hyper-sensitive germ awareness necessary; the new normal? Are we in a state of media induced panic? Maybe I shouldn’t talk about the media?!?

It does feel like the world is going a bit crazy. You know the beginning of Zombie films where the family is chatting over breakfast while news of the outbreak is on the TV in the background, and the family are oblivious, nose deep in cornflakes. Then, the couple and kids go outside to the minivan and everyone is foaming at the mouth,,, BRAINS!!!! That’s just the average morning at the Village Hotel, but with more gym-bound lycra-ladies. They’re trying to lose a pound of flesh, not eat it.

I don’t usually come to town libraries like this. Suddenly I’m a bit cautious. I sneezed at the top of the escalator. The fifty something fella with D&G skateboard Vans, paranoid staring eyes, 👀 and a purple Mohawk stared at me. He looked at me like I ate his cat. I think it was his turn to eat the cat, maybe he just had. I was waiting for the haz-mat team to pounce. I would say I was allergic to CHAV’s, but everyone is someone else’s CHAV.

There are some weird scary people here. Maybe including ourselves…

Sim: The clientele of this establishment doesn’t surprise me.

Leigh: And, now your one of them.

Today’s highlight! #YorkiePorn! @Ross.B.
Say “6 Deep hole Yorkshire Pudding Tray” in your best Nigella Lawson voice. Phwoar!

House Updates – because it’s good to document it.

Solicitor meeting

I had a very interesting conversation with our Solicitor this afternoon. My paranoid eyes prevent me talking about it in detail. Maybe I should get a purple Mohawk. Anyone seen our cat lately?

The thing I can say is that there was a catastrophic failing in many respects. We were failed by:

  • The riverbank.
  • Redrow Housing.
  • Newport County Council Planning department on multiple occasions.
  • The Welsh Assembly.
  • National Resources Wales.
  • Any number of separate engineering consultancy firms.

How can this be allowed to happen with so many responsibility parties involved? The main reason is individuals essentially are winging their jobs the majority of the time and want to go home early. That’s my professional opinion.

House Insurance

We are meeting our Insurance Field Surveyor at home tomorrow. His role in this matter will be to assess the affected areas and observe matters relating to our case, reporting back to the case manager. I wonder if he’ll be bringing his wetsuit for a deep dive into our foundations. At a few points, I’ve been inclined to go down the new riverbank, or as I call it, my garden water slide, on a ladder and measure the foundations. We are told by Redrow, Kevin Jones – Construction Director that our foundation is a 1.8m trench fill foundation. This has been questioned by multiple engineers. There is the potential that the property will be written off on this basis. If it’s not fit for purpose they cannot retrospectively upgrade it to the correct specifications. However, when asked in the official meeting Redrow’s regional MD refused to divulge any details of OUR foundations…

Redrow

Slightly redacted letter to Redrow Homes

Dear Redrow,
Under your own customer charter

https://www.redrow.co.uk/about-us#redrow-customer-charter

Quote from the above customer charter

As your homebuilder we will:

”Provide you with full details and clear information about your chosen home”

Following your own guidelines defined in the charter and complaints procedure, Please provide full details of the foundations installed in my property?

Redrow’s response is:.

”I acknowledge receipt of your email but as explained yesterday I can’t provide the additional details that you are requesting”

So, this directly contravenes their own charter. NHBC will demand this as part of our case Redrow cannot refuse.

NHBC

We have a case open with NHBC to make Redrow repair the work as well as to provide the foundation details. The request to complete the work will fail. We know that. The request to provide the foundation specs will also fail on the above grounds, but will be escalated via the NHBC disputes process. If we don’t hear from Redrow within 10 working days from 10th March. (2 weeks), there will be a resolution meeting with NHBC investigator. There is also a technical resource team who will be providing us with the standards that Redrow are obliged to adhere to. I may yet don my wetsuit and climb down the ladder with a tape measure. I’m still to fully understand the requirements in this matter but am understood that the foundations must be deep enough to go below the riverbed to prevent potential undermining. They don’t as demonstrated in the below photo. It appears that the foundations don’t go that low as they appear to stop above the waterline, which, even at this stage is high above the riverbed. The river is currently undermining the foundations.

Regardless of Redrow’s willingness to respond to ourselves or the NHBC’s request, the Insurers will surface the specs and adherence. Of that I’m certain. The results of this may or may not significantly change what happens next.

So There We Are Then Redrow.

Gratitude list for the day. Namaste 🙏

  • A home. I’ve seen too many homeless souls today. The lady before us in Starbucks bought a snack then took it to a blanket wrapped chap outside. People can be amazing. Sheesh!
  • People who give of their time in their work for limited material benefit. Go vocationers.
  • If this is what it takes to provide the opportunity to change, to look back in a year and be grateful of the wider experience and have positively changes as a result; I’ll take it willingly.
  • Ellie.

Rules for living, applied to adults.

When all this is done, as said before I want to keep changing. Doing a bit more, being a bit better, a bit at a time. In consideration of that today, sat in Starbucks taking a break, Sim and I were discussing some of our gratitude items, even some of the valuable lessons we are learning and applying during this time.

We have four rules we apply to Ellie, all too frequently. They have been our mantra since Ellie was born, or at least since she was old enough to understand them somewhat.

Ellie, what are the four rules?

  1. Good listening
  2. Polite and kind
  3. No whingeing
  4. Think about what you’re doing.

Weird when you turn this around and apply it to adult life, a grown up situation, how entirely applicable it is. Good lessons to live by.

Redrow 1 – 0 Adams’. Seconds out, round 2. The gloves come off for the cage fight. (or) A bit battered after Storm Redrow, we begin to recover.

Ok, we’re pissed off with Redrow. There, I said it ‘Redrow’, ’Red fucking Row’. So are the 2,700+ people that signed the petition. It would, however, appear that Redrow believes they are not responsible. There is a lot to talk about in that statement but for now, my laundry is going back in the basket and back in the closet. I’ve put my toys back in the pram and Sim and I are huddled in the hotel room with Ellie. We’ve made a tent between a few chairs and a duvet. We have a torch and some essential sugar-based supplies and we’re plotting. Were also making shadow puppets with our hands. I’ve perfected the corporate big-wig puppet, (looks a bit like Abe Lincoln) and Sim’s figuring out how to shadow puppet a chain-saw.

Time to regroup and take stock. Time to focus on the matters in-hand and the next steps. One of those steps is to decide if I should carry on doing this? To blog or not to blog? Let’s see what happens over time. Hopefully, I can get back to the title topic.

‘Displaced Minimalist.

Let’s analyze this kids. ”Oxford”?

Displaced: From the verb displace: Take over the place, position, or role of.

Minimalist: Relating to minimalism – Lacking decoration or adornment; deliberately simple or basic in design or style.

(My) Translation.

I have chosen to change or reposition myself to live a more basic or simplistic life. Or I’m just trying to be simple(r).

How do I do this? By removing the things from my life that neither adds value or joy. That saying or view is frequently used in this movement, one I subscribe to. Because it works. That will over time include social media (again). Eight years or so off, back with a vengeance like some kind of millennial activist. It’s taking its toll. Time to go again soon. But not before we win this.

I now have:

  • Enough clothes to fit in a Samsonite garment bag (other bags etc…)
  • My Corporate laptop bag for my few technical devices; iPad pro, kindle, headphones and Rubik’s cube.
  • Three pairs of boots/trainers
  • 3 jackets

I made a quiet breakthrough this morning. Eureka! I reached up to get a top/shirt/t-shirt and just took the next item without consideration. It was going to be black and I was going to like it and it was going to go with my jeans and jacket so it didn’t matter what it was. The clouds parted, cherubs sang. This is where I want to be every day. Edging closer… See, there is still enjoyment, piece and calm to be obtained, even in chaos. Black sandals and habit (or Jedi robe) next week.

(Pause)

I look over to Sim in our hotel room, she’s watching a woodturning video. It really has come to this.

Quote:

” You know when you’ve invested so much time watching it and you just need to get to the fucking end right now”

😜

(Resume)

Happy heart moments.

I spoke to some dear friends this evening. We went some way to I hope to repair our friendship. This situation has caused tensions I’m not proud of, would have preferred avoided and am hugely grateful are being restored.

Gratitude list for today.

  • Friends.
  • Strangers become friends.
  • Strangers who will never become friends. that reach out to support other strangers. Too many to mention.
  • Each other.
  • Family.
  • Unity.
  • Strength.
  • Love.
  • Forgiveness.
  • Granma for taking Chilli for a haircut.
  • Friends with Rainbow cake, and love.
  • Everyone who didn’t nick my bag when in an insane moment I locked the car (pressed the boot open button) and walked off for an hour.
  • Friends with benefits No, not fuckbuddies, friends with lawyer husbands.
  • School teachers.
  • Wales Assembly members who.speak out.
  • Random compassionate texts.
  • Being more with less.
  • Hotel staff.
  • Head scratches. Mmmmmm
  • Work. No, really.
  • Chocolate covered pretzels.

Oops, low power mode. No time to spell-check. Who cares…

Nitey nite.

Much love.

XxX

Idle hands – or where the mind goes with no cooking and chores to do.

A suitcase life.
It’s been over three weeks since the flood. Regarding my capsule wardrobe, I’m learning more than I would have hoped, or liked, about what I actually need. The funny thing is, wherever you are in your situation, your situation, over time becomes your new normal, and you adapt. I’ve stopped counting items in my wardrobe, my 33 items, as part of the project333 challenge has gone down to less than 20. Another bag of stuff goes back in to storage. That’s for two reasons. Firstly, I’m not using the other stuff. My A-Team wardrobe rotates in the low numbers. Hands go straight to the favourites all the time, I’m sure yours would too. Secondly, the last time we switched hotels or hotel rooms I took my suit-bag, my shoulder-bag and 3 spare pairs of shoes. Simple. It was the four trips of my maximalists ‘stuff’ that took it’s toll. Zowie Cavey!

You can read more about project333 at be more with less. An approach to living described by Courtney Carver.

‘I created Be More with Less and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. I spent much of my adult life tired, stressed, sick and doing work I didn’t care about to make ends meet. I always wanted more or thought I needed more to be happy, but realized after years of decluttering and letting go that happiness isn’t waiting for us, it’s within us.’

Courtney Carver.

I almost minimalised my work suit a few weeks ago. My work has gone a bit more casual lately, so have I. I didn’t anticipate needing the suit anymore. My mostly black wardrobe would suit any unfortunate need for black. Seems there may be a need for the suit growing forward if I have to have a day in court. I’ll be ready for that. Though I do have a few wet-suits if that’ll be more representative of the situation…

Materiality
Materially, I miss my motorbike but I think that’s it. Riding a motorbike is a uniquely distracting and focusing experience if done correctly. It’s all encompassing. Distractions can be deadly. On a bike you don’t twiddle with gadgets, talk to people, check your phone. I don’t check my phone in the car but Apple Car Play can be just as distracting. On the bike, do it right and the man and machine in harmony saying is really true. All the senses acting in complement to each other while each hand or foot act independently and simultaneously. Then there’s the legs gripping the tank, keep your arms relaxed, turn your head into the bend, a last lifesaver look before the corner. It requires concentration as well as being fluid and relaxing. The perfect distraction.

I’m in the process of obtaining an advanced riding qualification, a great social and experiential activity. Like Hells Angels with added safety and more tea. I missed a ride-out today. A friend, my tutor, has recently experienced the worst life can throw at one. His strength has been inspirational to me through our current situation. My and my family’s love extend his way.

So I miss donning layers and leathers. Doing all my safety checks and heading for the hills. Brecon Beacons are among our regular ride locations. My last ride was wet and unpleasant, educational and a bit scary if honest. We’ll be back into good weather soon, hopefully I can go out on our next ride in April. I wonder where we’ll be by then.

I received a photograph of Yorkshire Pudding from Ross today. I might expense a Sunday roast carvery next weekend. Thanks ‘the developers’, though were I in my own kitchen etc…

I promised to stop eating excessively yesterday. Tomorrow I intend to start that starting. Hey, it was the weekend.

I ate a dictionary
Busy weekend. I learned a new word on Friday. The word was ‘meandering’, see the previous entry.

I learned a new word today too. I heard it listening to an audiobook. Star Trek -Picard. The last best hope – The word is ‘Dispossessed’. To deprive (someone) of land, property, or other possessions.

Now that kind of research is a bit maudlin. Snap it back man!!

An occupied mind
It’s this kind of stuff I’m occupying my mind with, or distracting it. I’m down to under two minutes. If I want to get better I’ll need to learn some of the more complex algorithms. Progress.

More neurotic sleuthing
On yesterdays dog walk I took a lot of videos. Here’s a my YouTube channel video’s showing the aftermath along our meandering river. If your getting bored just scroll down to the one of the Whale Shark taken scuba diving in the Maldives.

https://www.youtube.com/user/thjedimastermooseman

A dark room for a few hours.
What does one do on a Sunday when one is displaced and dispossessed. One takes the family to the cinema. A bucket of coffee for the grown up, popcorn all round, and a chance to tune out for a couple of hours.

We went to see Onward.

Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there.

It’s a story based upon relationships between parents and children, or vice-versa.

Did I mention I was a little volatile right now? I cried solidly through the final twenty minutes as father and son were reunited through adversity. It was a roller coaster ride. Sheesh!!! Ay caramba. Ooh, and to tenuously connect to the Simpsons (Bart says ‘Ay caramba’ a lot), before the main film was a Simpsons short. “Playdate with Destiny,” a short featuring the cartoon family’s perpetual infant Maggi. It took me right back to my childhood of the preview short film before the main event. Much better than another advert for ‘Pearl & Dean’.

Right, tomorrow. The big day. What will they say? You’ll hear it all here tomorrow. Unless of course they do something to impose a gagging order on me as they have done to all exposed developer paid staff. I actually met an on-site builder on Saturday, he told me he was banned from talking to me. 🤬

An episode of Better Call Saul and a few chapters of project333 before bed.