I’m (We are) still standing.

It’s been a bit of a hectic few days. It’s crunch time on Monday. We have an appointment with the developer at 16:00. Our headline is:

The Developer’s are in breach of their legal obligation to build and sell houses in a safe place and not to put their customers lives and welfare at risk’

The fact that this occurred during the Developers ‘defects liability period’ reinforces this claim.

There’s a lot of detail to support this claim, if the pictures don’t describe it fully enough. I’m trying to not spend the entire weekend predicting and projecting every outcome. Easy eh? I realised over dinner when Sim said I look pre-occupied that I’ve spent almost three weeks all consumed on this. What if I were that consumed on a work project. That would truly be love of the job; or workaholic.

Friday & Saturday highlights…

Friday. It was a really busy morning.

Feeling particularly aggrieved, the last few days of media stints, mostly outside the house with an occasional stunt man dangle out the back doo (see above). My feet are freezing, the concrete under the floor hasn’t had any heat in almost three weeks. I went back to the house, at risk. I put the heating on and did a few chores. I get peace in tidying. Three letters, O.C.D. 😇. (I found the emoji’s on this WordPress app today. Sorry.)

Work contacting me to tell me about a collection made for us all. As I understand this has extended to include colleagues in Germany who have contributed. How kind. I’m truly humbled. Thanks OneERP guys. Sim and I have discussed this briefly; it didn’t take much more. We are going to take the option to get some away time, incapable of action. What better than a trip to Thermae Bath Spa. The twilight package is phenomenal. Time to ask extremely nicely if Grandma and Ellie can have a play date? Cinema, popcorn and sweeties are Ellies treat tomorrow. A few hours in a dark room, blessings! The hotel is a massive treat for Ellie every day. She thinks we’re on holiday, just with school. Though don’t mention the house to her… We’re not there yet. The contribution from work is in addition to one previously gifted by Sim’s School Science department. Thanks science guys (n gals). Another couple of massive lines item’s on our gratitude list.

Some time later, a conversation with Newport Senior Planning Enforcement Officer. They telephoned, we talked. A lot. Newport City Council has opened an enforcement case and has started to investigate the matter to identify whether there has been a breach of planning control. Initial findings are… [redacted].

Then another call from work to discuss the counselling options available through work. I have a doctors appointment on Monday. I’m going to discuss this situation; the physical and mental impact it’s having on me. I need to request a sick note from work as well as to request counselling. Might as well take the work and GP options. Both may be needed. Who knows what’ll be talked out. Or is this helping in ways I don’t know. I don’t really do ‘sick’. I took three days off sick with man-flu last year. That’s my usual annual tally. None of this sits well with me but, with help I came to the conclusion that this is the correct course of action.

Then a call from the Developer. An appointment. I know there is a key-stakeholder meeting at 13:00 between all interested parties. I’m not invited but it involves the developer, the Local Council, the previous landowner with a future vested interest in the site and who knows which other stakeholders. A stakeholder is anyone with a concern or view. A key stakeholder in this example might be the landowner. That’s us by the way – keep up. 😉 You may ask why are all key stakeholders not present. Bollocks! Sim and I are THE key-stakeholders.

I know about the pre-meeting meeting because the developer’s Customer Services Manager told me. Actually, the Newport Senior Planning Enforcement Officer had told me some time before. He was incredibly helpful. Clearly there is motion between all parties and decisions are being reached.

Lord knows what our meeting will entail. Answers, good or bad. We go in optimistic. We go in wanting to hear what they have to say. We go in fully prepared. We’ve had a lot of private help from the community.

The developer said to the rest of the development that a statement would be issued following our meeting. Sounds a bit final.

So, after the news of the meeting, a few more tasks on the list. Legal and commercial options. This included [redacted]. Sorry internet.

Whatever consumed the rest of Friday was a blur. I was consumed. Sim ‘wobbled’, ‘cracked’, pick your situational metaphor.

Saturday,

A relief quite honestly. Relief that all the people I wanted to talk to yesterday are weekending themselves so unavailable. Enforced downtime.

Chilli’s Birthday. 🎉 (That’s a party related emoji. Sorry.)
Spellchecker changed that to Child’s Birthday. I’m not sure if that was correct or not really. It’s Chilli’s twelfth Birthday today. I got her when she was six weeks old. She’s been with me through the bad times and then the good. We’re pretty much inseparable, though she’s also been the Bane of my life. Guiltily, it’s been nice on some days not having to do the walks, especially in the recent rain; My thanks extend to Jill and Joel, and Bekka and Conor for taking care of her. She’ll miss being allowed on the sofa when she comes home. I’ve missed her so much and spending five hours walking with her today was a real tonic. Medicine for my soul even if we did spend it walking around the surrounding river, seeing, recording and documenting the changes that have happened recently. YouTube and Facebook were battered by the hotel wi-fi shortly thereafter. I’ve not seen this much change in the river Ebbw before. The meandering change is startling. Meandering, that’s a new word for me in relation to rivers. You’ll hear me say that a lot for a few weeks as it will become a hot topic in relation to the house. This is GCSE geography 101 kids. How was this missed. Gross negligence.

Here’s Chilli. She’s Lush! Lush is a Welsh term. It means very, very nice. She’s not actually a lush’, though the local male Mini Schnauzer population may disagree.

Then, after lunch (twenty minutes after of course (halloumi chips -WOW! )) a swim back at the hotel. If there is one good thing to come out of our hotel stay, it’s that Ellie’s swimming is progressing well. I’m going to have a no spending hiatus tomorrow and buy Ellie a swim float. I wonder if it’ll get used. Ellie has quite the ‘I need that now’ attitude. Must do better to teach her the lessons I’m learning, but forty years earlier. I live in hope…

I’m trying to keep to a schedule. Meals, work (house issues), exercise, family-time. I remembered that Sim and I watched an hour of television last night. A Netflix series, ‘Better Call Saul’. A slightly topical distraction. I’m glad Cardiff lawyers don’t operate like Texas lawyers, though upon reflection… Shall we take Cardiff’s Saul Goodman to the meeting? I’m looking forward to bingeing on that later. (Didn’t happen’ wrote this).

That was the past few days. There We Are Then. I occasionally spell check this before hitting publish. That means skimming over it spotting mistakes. Or, I rely on Sim to read it later and point out the glaringly obvious cock-ups. Sim’s gone to sleep so I just re-read it. I actually sound a bit happier today. I think I am. I hope this isn’t in preparation for Monday. Developers, do the right next thing.

Right, off to bed, maybe kindle light for a while. I’m reading Project 333. I’m halfway through my Project 333 already.

Question: Where does the time go?
Answer: Down the river…

Then beauty sleep. I have to look my best for Phil and Holly next week. Mmmm, Holly…

Final thought for the day.

I hereby promise to stop eating the unhealthy options and getting an evening desert and then a full English for breakfast. Three weeks is enough. Chub is developing. Back to the training plan next week, albeit around three weeks regressed.

Please review and sign our petition created by our lovely friend, Jo. Thanks Jo. Your activism is heroic.

Change.org petition – Redrow Homes give the Adams a new home!!!

The following are the media links we are aware of. There may be others as the story is syndicated.

ITV Homeowner’s warning about buying on floodplain after garden of dream home swept away in floods

The Sun WATER NIGHTMARE 🤣 – Couple and daughter, 7, homeless after riverbank collapses around their £400k dream home

The Mail Family is forced to flee dream £400,000 new-build home after river sweeps away their entire garden in Storm Dennis despite developer’s promise of robust flood defences.

The Mirror Family forced to flee new waterside home as flooded river washes garden away

South Wales Argus Family forced to flee new waterside home as flooded river washes garden away

Wales Online Father watched helplessly as river swept away garden of new Redrow home right up to its foundations

Brinkwire Family flee dream £400,000 new-build home after river sweeps away their entire garden

TWN Couple and daughter, 7, homeless after river bank collapses around their £400K dream house

Media mixed messages

Did I mention I was not a fan of the media and not overly interested in social media? Personally, I only really need approval from Ellie, and then she would have me wear my Daddy shark or Daddysaurus t-shirts all the time. Don’t tell her, I minimised the Daddy shark one (chariteee).

This week I haven’t so much dabbled my toe as much as stripping naked, bared all tattoos and scars and runs screaming wildly into a Chilly March sea, splashing and shaking all the bits for all to see. All whilst speaking in tongues in a slightly unfamiliar Welsh twang! Ever heard your own voice on TV. Weird!!

There have been mixed results. One one side I was recommended to do it by professionals in the industry, specifically to surface the problem and not give the corporate bodies involved the opportunity to quash to story. Then, on the other side, by the legal profession recommending I minimise my media exposure. I’m not sure who’s agenda that plays to.

Friends and neighbours state that while there’s potential to impact others negatively if they were positioned equally, backed into the same corner they would react identically. Others, people I love and respect feel negatively affected. If I could prioritise beyond my priority I would, but I cannot. I equally cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing I either acted unfairly or untruthfully. So, reflecting as I do nightly I think I’ll sleep soundly tonight knowing I’ve acted for the good of the little man on the street in the favour of doing the next right thing. You can’t please all the people all the time and sometimes you can’t act in everyone’s favour either. I only have to like myself. It’s up to others if they do or don’t.

Today, as other days this week I’ve learned far too much about hydrographic modelling, river revetments and the effect of too much caffeine.

Giving interviews, pointing at stuff and having photographs taken aside, it’s actually been a positively progressive day. A few good conversations, (self-gagging rules apply here) and a few good outcomes. It’s definitely been a better day than those recently. Just dry eyes today, To be honest, yesterday was a bit of a catastrophe! Though not entirely. Genuflecting on a conversation with a man generous with his time and experience, I learned a lot. My brain filled like a swollen culvert. Another water simile.

So here they are, maybe more tomorrow. Go easy.

Wales Online Father watched helplessly as river swept away garden of new Redrow home right up to its foundations

ITV Homeowner’s warning about buying on floodplain after garden of dream home swept away in floods

Minimalising today then, I think it extended to a few coat hangers only. Yesterday was great. We were upgraded from my Andy War’hole’ hotel cell to two adjoining rooms. One of Sim’s friends asked if we were close to killing one another in the single room. Amazingly, or really, unsurprisingly no, we aren’t. Stay strong kids. Perspective. But, I was overjoyed to get upgraded. The developer did it to protect my sanity. There’s kind of them. Maybe because I broke down in front of them yesterday. The two adjoining rooms are great though. Two bathrooms also. Joy! It is living in a confined space with two maximalist females. I’m a hero, I did 5 loads swapping rooms. I had two bags and a box-file. 4 1/2 loads between them. Don’t tell them I used the hotel trolley. 😎 I told them that they need to minimalise their shit!

As the day closes out I received congratulations for the TV and newspaper pieces as well as an offer of a flat we can move into temporarily. All from a stranger seeing our plight who’s already helping and providing guidance. Regardless if we accept the offer, the offer itself is extremely generous and we’re grateful. Thank you, stranger.

Today – I broke, and almost broke the internet(ish).

Yesterday, very early, or maybe technically the previous night very late, I created my first Facebook post in over eight years.

It read as follows.

Redrow Homes will you please rehouse us? Less than 20 months in our new home. This happens because there is a breach in the responsibility chain on the adjoining land. There has been a failing to secure the river to adequately protect this development. How can I ever return my family here. We are grateful that RR are temporarily paying for our hotel but considering your weight in the market I formally ask you to rehome us within the development? What is your reply?

Please, if you read this, please share it across social media that we may surface this to get the attention of all key stakeholders.

Statistics to date are as follows, at the time of writing this.

  • Over129,000 reaches. A Facebook reach is the number of unique people who saw your content.
  • Over 70,000 engagements. A Facebook engagement is any action someone takes on your Facebook Page or one of your posts. The most common examples are likes, comments, and shares.
  • 672 shares form the single main a post.

I had at the time, I think around twelve Facebook friends. I speak regularly to about five, one of whom is my Wife. Can you tell I’m not a big fan of social media?

I spent the entire day expressing gratitude, genuine, heart-felt gratitude to complete strangers, and a few of my wife’s friends. I was and am astounded and unbelievably grateful and appreciative of every comment, share, sad face, angry face and comment of support in rebuttal to the occasion keyboard warrior. I’m most grateful to those people that spent their time and energy providing what I believe to be vital snippets of information I’m holding onto should I need them. Even the repeated comments of information I already have. Repetition goes to affirm a belief, theory or piece of evidence. I like affirmation of facts.

The power of people. Rarely do we get to experience it personally in that magnitude. This introvert is grateful, in a shy retiring way.

The only negative element to this was that I spent some of my time doing this while also spending time with friends. I’m a man, I cannot multitask and I would far rather spend my time with true friends than be absorbed in these activities.

My Dad taught me to say thanks, specifically, name the thing, then people know you mean it.

Thank you Rose, thank you Ross for your friendship, love and support. Thank you Rose for being a truly good friend, someone who shares my understanding and interest in some specific personal growth topics. Thank you Ross for your Yorkshire puddings. I bow to your supremacy in this area. You guys are the best.

Also today I’ve written a letter to the house developers asking them to step up and do the next right thing. I’ll not share that here just yet. I will though, if necessary at a later date.

Following the Facebook post I was then contacted by multiple news outlets. I’ve placed these offers of attention, further surfacing our cause, in my back pocket for now. I have a meeting with local council and Welsh Assembly representatives this week. Following these meetings and the response from the developer I’ll make the next move.

During a telephone conversation with a National television news broadcaster I was asked what’s my motivation. My Wife and Daughter were in the room, my Wife caring for our Daughter who is unwell; lots of rich hotel food Possibly. Gentle stomach. I said over the phone that I am looking for justice for the catastrophic event that has happened. I’m looking to be relocated somewhere we can feel safe. I’m looking to put my Daughter to bed safely at night. I looked to my daughter, I began to cry. The first time I’ve cried about it. Then I fell apart. I managed to ring off to the media and my wife held me.

That’s all for now. And breathe…..

A reminder of the newspaper article that was published a few days after the storm.

https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/18241954.bassaleg-familys-narrow-escape-surging-river-ebbw-washes-away-entire-riverbank-behind-home/

Two weeks later – or maybe “The Anger stage of grief”

Two weeks of frustrations, uncertainty, anxiety, and sleep deprivation in hotels sound like my first trip abroad as a sixteen year old teenager. My father let me; even paid for it. This blog is on the internet in perpetuity. So, Ellie, when you read back, no, Daddy is not paying for you to go to Magaluf for your sixteenth Birthday.

I know there are people suffering across the globe but as my Dad said to me as a child, ‘my sore finger is worse than your broken leg’. You know, perspective is all well and good but just look at it.

Dam! It’s not working.

Seriously though, two weeks and the only material difference I see is more material of ours dropping into the river. More garden fence and patio, garden gate furniture, Ellie’s shell collection, the robot lawnmower (RIP Robocrop). I also see a thinly veiled attempt at dropping 1square meter aggregate bags into the river to protect the house from further damage failing miserably. Still, the developer issued a letter to everyone else on the development saying their work was progressing successfully as planned. I shit you not!

This is making me ill. Very good friends a few doors away, honestly, the very best friends I could have asked for during this crisis, commented on my appearance, my ageing. Looking worse over the past few weeks. You know you have true friends when they feel comfortable being honest for your welfare to you face. It got a bit emotional all round. I’m grateful for their care but sorry they are reminded of situations when they were faced with such emotional upheaval that it reminds them how they felt and reacted. Hey, I didn’t bring my ‘MANk-up’ out of the house yet.

It’s weird. Having nothing else to focus on, because how can I, is all consuming to the point where my family are neglected, my work is suffering and my health is in decline. For the times I’m not concentrating on this, I cannot concentrate on anything else. I’m aware I’m also on a stress knife edge. I’m my own metaphorical last piece of fence dangling over the river. That fell yesterday. I’m not sure when I will fall.

No more marathon training, another hotel breakfast and more caffeine please. Yesterday afternoon I couldn’t bring myself to go and talk to another person about our situation, frustration etc. Leaving the option of joining a play date with humans I went for a walk near the hotel. Not because I wanted a walk, just because I can’t stare at the hotel wall or this black mirror all weekend.

I came upon a secret place. Quite by accident because of where we’ve been placed. The hotel location. It’s in the locale where I lived after my divorce 10 years ago. It’s the place I started to recover from that. My own Degobah in the forest. My own spiritual retreat. It’s all a bit different after 10 years, but it’s also the same. Familiarity is good. There’s a forest, an old canal and long gone and grown over train tracks. A bit dystopian, spot the devolved caveman or evolved ape run across the path; just me. I miss taking my dog here too, she’s still lodging elsewhere for now. Though her barking would probably send me into some gawd awful spiral of self pity. The knife edge etc.. Wobbly. It is nice to be here though. I learned to run here, couch to 5k to marathon. Nothing else for the perfectionist. There’s a lot of flood damage here too, same story everywhere it seems. This is also the area I grew up in, rope swings over rivers, playing with boys too old to play with. Staying out late, getting into mischief. It was fun, present situation aside it still is. I remain a glass overflowing kind of a guy, totally unprepared for this. Did you miss the water metaphor there, I almost did; quite unintentional.

I’m writing this after finishing my thirteenth full English since the flood. I’m not very good at regulation – anything. That’s okay when it’s exercise. Sim has take. Ellie back up to the hotel room. The repeated rich food is giving her a poorly stomach. BREAKING POINT! This shit gets serious. Welcome to grief stage – Anger.

Today I have begun to circulate the story of our situation on social media, tomorrow TV and Radio. This has to be surfaced. For the record, I do t blame the developers e tiredly though there is a case that we have been miss sold. I do blame the land owner and whomever is responsible for the authorisation of the development on the existing river embankment. Either there was no review of extant defences, it was ignored, inaccurate or something else. Regardless, this has to be resolved at the expense of the developer, land owner, National Resources Wales in combination, and I have to be involved. I’ve circulated a request to the developer to re-home us. I’ll escalate from here on.

Time to go spend some time with my family and friends. And breathe…..

Another lesson in patience.

It’s said that God (or Yoda) only gives you what you can handle. It may also be said that he has a fucked up sense of humour.

Over the past years, I’ve learned more and tried to be leaner, greener, cleaner, more responsible, more deliberate. I’m not actually a God believer. Probably an Agnostic Atheist. But, I’m all over Mother Nature. Not to spiritually woo woo, you get it. The force! I love nature, the planet, I believe in life finding a way. Cosmic dust n all. Though maybe our Earthly God, Sir David Attenborough is right, maybe we’re in line for a sixth extinction period; by our own hand. Maybe The Father or Mother Nature has a plan. I don’t know. But, at the point where either send floods of biblical proportions my way; to the point where the river starts taking my property then it’s his/her own fucking fault my carefully orchestrated and separated black bin, green bin, food bin, paper bin and cardboard bin fuck off down the river to pollute the seas and choke turtles. Same for the wife’s coke cans (zero or course), her wine bottles and even her Baileys, stashed outside keeping cool. I hope the turtle gets the Baileys before choking.

Maybe humanity has had its day.

I met someone today, they knew all about my family’s current flood predicament and persisted in taking the piss to my face. It’s not okay to do this saying haha, that’s just me, the way I talk. This person has never spoken to me before, though knows of me; a friend of the family. Enlightened as I am, I walked away (thinking about torture and retribution).

I returned to my seat, completing my friends Rubik’s cube (again). Good de-stressed. Pity I minimalists mine. Amazon?!

Shortly later the neanderthal (sorry neanderthal’s) came past and looked at the cube, then me, cocked his head sideways and said ”somebody’s done it”, as though magic had happened. Like when your dog looks at you when you bark back at her! Curiously unclear. So I bark back at my dog, you would too. Plus I can do a Rubik’s cube. BTW, so can you.

I shrugged, said “yeah”.

He said, “I could never do it, I just coloured the sides in”. Fucktard! (Insert your own politically incorrect expletive.) So we all know, even small children, that you don’t colour the sides in. You either disassemble and reassemble it or switch the stickers around. Or maybe even learn how to do it?!.

So I sat there, a while longer, messed up and redid the cube. I’m still missing mine. I’m surprising myself that I’ve not bought another one yet. I may buy another one. Stress management. Something I can achieve. Anything will do this week. Perhaps the cube isn’t the only thing a little messed up today.

The problem with resentment, it’s like causing yourself pain when the fucktard has walked off, round the corner through dog shit merrily whistling the Pepper Pig theme tune, oblivious to your mounting frustration and anger.

Whoops, more things to work on.

Drove home after the kids’ party, a massive slice of cake eaten. We were rushed out at the end of the party because today’s rain is causing more local flooding. Friends sending videos of the river gushing past our house. I don’t need to see that right now. Asked them to remove the video’s and stop sending them. Sim doesn’t need to see that either. Driving back to the hotel from the party, through rivers crossing lanes. Catalytic Converter’s probably getting damaged. Who’s idea was this? I’m never going back there. Still holding onto that resentment. Can Neanderthals swim? Hope not.

Back to the hotel, resentment still bubbling away. Stroppy with the girls, tea – vegan burger! Fucking plants! Drink at the bar – no bubbles in my fucking soda water! Out for a walk to get my exercise points. Really, like that should be my priority. Hmm, maybe it should be.

Back to the room, it’s dark. Ellie us in bed out comes the phone, but no black mirror surfing. Writing this. As I sort through the day’s events, neanderthal, flood, disappointment, unreal expectations, searching for the right words, I process process process. Think about it, ruminate, slightly create. The stress is reduced. Dissipates like the bubbles in the water. Saturday tomorrow. Swim, gym, cinema, maybe go get Chilli from the out-laws, she’s displaced too. Try and recharge a bit. I wonder if I’ll have bought another Rubik’s Cube by then. Probably.

A Rubik’s Cube and a Starbucks mug; two wants in two days. Gateway purchases. Where’s that eBay search for the vintage Lego X-Wing.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. Just some ramblings. A better day.

Today has been a better day. A very positive conversation with someone from National Resources Wales who has gone some way to assure me that the correct steps are being taken to resolve the riverbank problem. Though then the development lady sent me a crappy email. Looks like no new house as compensation. To be honest I didn’t expect it. I might have to sue after all. Watch this space. Still, the first half is positive news. The house will be fixed. Details pending….

Here’s this from this weeks minimalist maximal podcast. See here. https://www.theminimalists.com/maximal/

Compulsive decluttering, or, Spartanism!!!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_decluttering

”Compulsive decluttering is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by an excessive desire to discard objects in one’s home and living areas. Other terms for such behavior includes obsessive compulsive spartanism. The homes of compulsive declutterers are often empty. It is the opposite of cumulative hoarding.”

I live with a maximalist or two so surely this balances it out. Karma.

Spartanism – that’s me. I’ve thrown everything away or donated it. Just sword, shield, spear, loincloth and helmet left to protect my bronzen six pack.

Maybe not that spartan or minimalist. Consumerism calls. Today I really want to buy a shiny new Starbucks coffee travel my; but must not. How can I accidentally break my bamboo coffee mug? It’s a very nice new mug. All black and shiny. Tall and thin. Perfect for the car. Must resist this thing that is available from the Starbucks downstairs in the lobby. It’s on the middle shelf on the left. There are a few left it’s about £19. 😉

Must do better. Here are some minimalist experiments for me to try soon. It’s supposed to be all about experiments. Try, if you don’t like it you can always reverse the idea. Nope, not me. I just charity the ’thing’ then I’m banjaxed if I change my mind. To this day I’ve only regretted a handfull of donated items and only replaced a couple.

I might get rid of my stand up desk. Or try not using it for a month when I get it back. Laptop on the kitchen table. Who needs an office. Not I. What could we do with that room?

  • Get rid of unused gadget box items. Keep app enabled R2-D2.
    • Get rid of clothes not worn during exile:
    1. Nike long jacket
    2. More, or actually less T-shirts
    3. Work suit ”liberating”
    4. Gym bag & rucksack
    5. Oakley hoodie. Too skinny.
    6. Rogue one bag. Hmm, maybe.
    7. Go through all remaining just in case. clothes and let-go.
    8. Pair down casual and workout gear more
    9. Go through the mobile capsule wardrobe after this week and reduce further
    10. Pair down the garage. But not bikes. Phew.

    Quick sanity check. Things I don’t need.

    • I do not need more than 15 pairs of shoes
    • I do not need more than 2 vehicles
    • I do not need more than 5 watches
    • I do not need more than 2 leather jackets
    • I do not need more than 8 running tops
    • I do not need more than 2 lightsabers
    • I do not need more than 4 lego spaceships
    • I Do not need more than 4 pairs of sunny’s
    • I do not need more than 3 caps
    • I do not need more than 7 hoodies
    • I do not need roller skates
    • I do not need 2 skateboards
    • I do not need more than 5 motorcycle helmets

    I’ve clearly smashed minimalism. Or maybe there’s progress to be made. Seriously, who needs 8 running tops.

    A good Christmas gift idea. Get your loved one:

    1. Something they want
    2. Something they need
    3. Something to read.

    Israel packing (always a good idea to plan).

    • Jeans/polo shirt/boots/jacket (flight gear
    • 1 shirt
    • 2x shorts
    • 2x beach vests
    • 2x t-shirts
    • Casual shirt (problem as I don’t have one. Charteee shop)
    • Run shorts/vest/trainers
    • Headphones/watch
    • Kindle

    Should get that packed in 5 minutes.

    I went for a run today. Went through the village where I grew up, both times. It was a lovely run. 5 miles on road, track and trail. The Taff trail is ruined by the storms. There is litter strewn ten feet up the trees. Shocking. Saying that my bins went down the river with the garden. You never know if there’s blame in these things. Trees uprooted, path torn up, floodwater mess. It’s devastating.

    • I do not need more than 4 bikes

    Friday tomorrow. Phew. Ellie’s Birthday party after school. Party food here we come.

    Having faith, and breathe.

    It’s been a tough day The topic of today was supposed to be ”And the initial results on the house are in.”

    The questions supposed to be answered are ”Is our home a write-off? / Are they rehoming us? / Are they continuing to drop useless aggregate filled bags in the river? / Are they going to remove and store our possessions? / Are they quitting? / What else are they proposing?

    The response from the developer is – wait for it, ,, here’s a pregnant pause. Some pointless punctuation; ”fucking NOTHIN!” It’s a poor grammar kind of day.

    • Hand it over.
    • Let go – let God.
    • Keep the faith.
    • Patience is a virtue.
    All very wise words. Whatever happened to taking control of your situation? Today has been a day of tests for me. A day of thickly layered disappointment; a multi-pronged attack on my patience, my stress management. My faith in myself, those around me and those I have no influence on stretched thin.

    The development company, failing to respond as promised all week fails me again. No updates on the house leaves me with continued anxiety and uncertainty over our future. Will we have a solution, will we even have a house. Will I be in debt to a mortgage for a house uninsurable and unsellable. Will the developer, land owner, council, insurer or all of them screw me over.. Of course I play out the worst situation possible – wouldn’t you. Fail to plan etc.. The mounting stress of the last ten plus days starts to take its toll and as the sheet of thin ice that is my patience melts away and the weight of my problems increases of course the cracks begin to appear.

    As I think, there are too many water analogies out there. It’s the opening of the flood gates, the Chinese water torture, skating over thin ice, down the swannie etc…

    A few pointless and arguably ludicrous work events coalesce and whip.me into a frenzy . I’m not able to deal with it all in totality. Something cracks, I respond badly, with a bit too much perceived authority I can influence a situation badly. A poor decision is made. Will it matter. Will it even manifest. Will I care. Should I care, I probably should. Conscience. Should I retract. No, my soul can’t take it. I try to do the next right thing. Challenges, blockers. Come on, give a guy a break. I admit falibility. It feels good to admit defeat, to give up a little. To say no, not now, I cannot.

    That’s was one of the problems, no break today. No break provided, no break taken. No me time. No outside time. Daylight. Stuck in the Warhole room without a break. Same plan tomorrow unfortunately. My own fault; Do better, Leigh.

    Sim and Ellie come home, happy. I’m not capable of turning my frown upside down. Not yet and it shows. Sim knows I need a break and she helps. Down to the pool we go, I leave the room early, to escape. Why after all day alone, isolated is it that the first thing I want to do is get under the water, swim a few lengths holding my breath. Freedive practicing along the bottom of the pool. It’s always brought me great peace, since a small boy on holiday when I discovered I had a talent for it. Deep breaths, inhale, duck-dive down. Piece, swimming, propelled below the water. Free. The carbon dioxide starts to build up, stomach contractions begin, the animal reflex to breath, so I surface and exhale. Like breathing all the poison out. How is it, why is it, why does this bring me such peace and relief from stress? Why are we back to water metaphors and analogies again? Maybe that’s part of it. I love the water, I always have. I respect it, protect it and everything in it. I’m passionate about it. Why turn it’s back on me, change it’s course against me like this. I have to let this go. It’s making me unwell. It’s not the waters fault as it’s not mine. Maybe I do need to practice some of the above. Maybe I need to treat it like a dive. A few deep breaths and swim till I need to come up for air. I know how to do that to prevent myself drowning. Perhaps I already know the answer to my own problems. Breathe, relax, find peace.

    Just thinking this way helps to calm me down; imagining the slowing of my heart as I breath-up for a dive. I had till now put this year’s freedivng plans on hold, I think it’s now more than ever important that I plan that time, that escape underwater. That meditation then isolation, falling down the dive line before slowing to a halt and just hovering at the bottom of the line for a moment, and look up. Up towards the light and slowly ascend. Breaking the surface of the water, exhaling, inhaling a few deep breaths and telling a friend I’m okay. It’ll be dive season again in April. Something to look forward to. Time to pick up the dive meditation practice in preparation. Time to practice it, a lot.

    Stop, let your mind and body slow down; relax and just breathe……

    This log was brought to you by the letter G and the number 9.

    G is for Gratitude. 9 looks like a letter g. I couldn’t think of anything funny for 9. Ah, Sesame Street.

    Back to work with a thump today. Yesterday was more of a peak round the corner at it, hoping it wasn’t there. It was, it still is.

    Time to put into practice some essentialism. Something I do every January for about an hour. I tried this January. I’m resetting my calendar. Happy New Year!!! Mazel tov!!!

    Essentialism – The disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown. Have you ever found yourself struggling with information overload? Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilised? Do you ever feel busy but not productive? If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is to become an Essentialist.

    Size large t-shirt please, (just the one, I’m a minimalist and I can’t pay, I’m not buying clothes right now.)

    Not a perfect read, but a good start. But how to apply it without telling anyone your applying it. A piece of advice in the book is to act like a consultant while remaining an employee. Say no to all that isn’t essential. No to the thing that is not a priority.

    Quote coming up – When did priority become priorities? How can multiple things be “most important?”
    The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality.” ~ Greg McKeown

    So what essential priority do I have to do today.

    Look after me (so I can look after other people and things). Then once I’ve done that, look after a thing as my priority. Ok, I’m a man, I cannot multitask. I can do one thing at a time and do it well. I have to add here that I have no basis for knowledge for how Women, Girls, the female of the species work. If you figure that out, kerching!£!£!£ and good luck to you.

    So, today there was ’stuff’ to do. Meetings, plans, documents to edit, drawings to create. Not one other thing got any attention till it’s predecessor was complete, or as much as it could be today.

    I’m lucky, there’s no reprioritisation today. Nothing to distract from that one thing. Time loss for reprioritisation is a time stealing gremlin who makes you slow and speed like an F1 driver. The amount of time and energy take for reprioritisation is shocking. Not to mention the quality drop as you multitask badly.

    I took a lunch break, went for a 1/2 hour run on the hotel treadmill. Headphones in listening to an audiobook while I plod along. It’s chucking it down outside. No frolicking on the forest trails today. There are 5 massive flat-screen televisions at the front of the gym. All facing the sweatysomethings fighting the flab, myself included. A news channel, loose women (on tv), antiques roadshow; what the actual fuck is that doing on in a gym, something else and a central stats screen showing the stats for ’DiffDave85’ ’DrCool’, ’wendy’ and a few others. All battling it out for a higher percentage or some such goal. Oh to be frolicking on the forest trails. I hate treadmills. I’m having something healthy for tea, bugger. Pancake day! I wonder if the hotel does them as well as Mum did?

    I just ate a pack of Belvita, four biscuits. I can feel the remains sticking to my teeth, I don’t really remember eating them. Maybe something to tackle later, as a priority.

    What’s all this got to do with gratitude? I have no idea, grateful for some time previously to read a book. Grateful for a job that gives me the flexibility to adapt. Yes, and much more besides. Grateful for the people in my life. Talking of which, the monkey’s arrived at the hotel cell. Time for a cuddle.

    Hotel prison – now that’s a bit dramatic.

    Day 8 (said in a Geordie accent). The Adams family entered the Big Brother house Village Inn Hotel.

    Out with the Celtic Manor Lodge’s barn, my word that was sumptuous. Must get underfloor heating. Save a fortune in slippers. In with the pseudo corporate grind meat machine hotel.

    Consists of heavily made-up makeup’ed reps (XX & XY and everything in between), busy sales people. ’Busy’ is not by the way the same as productive. Far from it. Sweat-bag in hand gymers and swimmers. Starbucks wired, retired or fired. Expensive is not the same as quality. It’s a lift and shift money machine. The sportsbar type hotel where anything goes as long as your over-consuming the hotel wares. Wi-fi lounge/work pods paid by the hour. (Members only – you have to have pre-paid to pay). Sports screen, wide-screen, surround sound, cinema seats. Salty treats and foreign beers, high-bar stools, just like in Cheers.

  • Don’t loiter here and really drink, no ten-minute Guiness, no weighted ash tray, no social-club half pint’ers with nicotine fingers.
  • Teenage barworkers too young to serve alcohol. That’s the truth. All braces and badges, ,, and smiles and braces (teeth). I’m getting old. They’ll be tossing cocktail shaker later no doubt.
  • Two receptionists to help you check-in to the self-serve check-in. I shit you not!
  • It’s a hotel work culture. A billion pound cottage industry supporting so many others, conveniently placed at an inter-section, a syphon for time and money. Facilitating. Too noisy to work in, You can barely hear yourself think.

    A conference call looms, retire to the room. A stripey, quirky threw up a contemporary artists studio type of room. Looks like a Supermarket Sweep mad dash in Ikea. Dale would have been proud. R.I.P. Dale. X

    Two showers, no instructions. There’s an app for that.

    The sink is too high for a child. Family room!!!

    A mobile office space with a foot deep desk. Nose pressed against the plasma. Modern working environment. An aesthetic and ergonomic nightmare. A contortionists dream. Move the cheap uncomfortable wireframe chair and it’s gridlock. A War”hole”!

    Still, unpacked the minimalism. Looks like someone came in the room and left an iPad. CALM.

    Ellie came home, the pool stops letting children in, just after school ends. FFS!

    Sim (Wife) came home, fell over in the mud. Ego and bum bruised. Bless. I Love you. I’m so proud of you. I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve that.

    The girls unpacked. Looks like we’ve been robbed by (insert something none-pc.)…

    CALaMity. (see what I did there).

    • Instructed the insurer.
    • Asked for a house upgrade ( threat of lawsuits).
    • Contacted the local Councillors
    • Contacted National Resources Wales
    • Told the press to go away again. No comment.

    45 minute conference call. Made a few corrections, provided some direction. Laid down the law, (school-run) walked out the door. Productive day.

    Dear hotelier.

    A sofa bed doth not make a family room. A family room has more than two towel hooks. (wife’s jibe). It’s Wales, it’s wet, invest in a fucking coathook or three.

    Your reluctant resident

    Displaced Minimalist

    Week two already.

    Has it been a week already? We had a night staying with friends, a flurry of emotions. I don’t think I stopped talking. We were fed well. Thanks, guys. X. That was followed by four nights in a very nice hotel, no running and a delightful buffet mean that my waistline isn’t thanking me now. How good habits die. Beaten down by emotional eating. Goodbye marathon training…

    Our daughter loved the hotel; a friend rescued her teddies so with Scarlet the Unicorn and NooNoo the, well, I’m not sure what it is, but she loves it a bit less than Mummy, maybe a bit more than Daddy; both of these safe and with her she snores quietly through the night. I could stay awake all night listening to that gentle snore. In the waking hours she’s driving me insane with her energy but I’ve never loved her more than I have this week. Funny that. Part of the minimalism drive is so I can spend more Daughter and Daddy time playing outside and doing QT stuff together. We had caught up on this time quite well in the past few weeks before the chaos of the storm. Unbelievably I think some of the hotel time has helped cement us more. I think she knows I’m not doing well. She comes over and tells me I’m the best Daddy, we cuddle, I shed another tear. I hold her tighter for a bit longer as the tear soaks in or runs off. Then she’s off herself. It’s like her “there there” pat in the head. It means the world to me. Children are so clever and resilient. I have no idea how this will affect her long term.

    The four days in the hotel were a blur of activity. Conference calls about the house, visits to the house. A lot of coffee. A lot of social media. Too much! Neighbour and friends empathy and support are staggering. This week I’ve learned to just say yes. Coffee – yes, property advice – yes, a hug – definitely. I don’t really come across as a hugger. I’m not very good socially, I don’t find ‘social’ particularly difficult, I often just don’t know what to say. I don’t think people listen to ones other much, just waiting for the pause to say the thing that other people don’t want to listen to either. Cynic! Lack of self-confidence maybe? I’m not sure. Maybe that’s where I am on the spectrum. I think my experience this week may be changing this attitude. Hugging, I see other people, other huggers and wonder how you start being a hugger. Do you hug one friend, it gets comfortable then you just hug everyone. I have a few hugger friends and I love receiving a hug from them. I would make a resolution right Here and now that I’ll hug more, though I won’t. Let’s not fool ourselves. Can you imagine that arm spready hug ready look when it’s not reciprocated? I must find happiness in the hugs I get.

    Hug regardless, the few friends I have I love and value dearly.

    I’ve missed my Dad this week. Someone to talk to, or maybe at. Dads are people it’s okay to talk to, or at and they just sit and listen, or not and just love you back. Wait, that’s the reverse of how I describe my daughter and my relationship but I don’t listen to her as much as I should. This needs to change too. Shift a gear, down. Slower. More time for listening to her. Less busy.

    I’ve been listening to an audiobook as I dart around this week. It’s called ‘Essentialism – The disciplined pursuit of less’ by Greg McKeown. It’s about saying no to the noise to concentrate on producing the right quality work. It transcends work and is applicable to life, I think. Another ism for the list – Essentialism. Hopefully, this will help with the ‘busy’ and help her and I find more of that QT.

    After the hotel, we’ve been moved into a golf club’s converted barn for the weekend. Everywhere else was full; there’s a rugby match this weekend, I don’t have time to get excited about rugby but I did get excited about the barn. I planned a party for a few friends that had helped out with the flood. A Mexican feast. I got very distracted by it.

    It didn’t happen. I crashed! It all caught up with me and I wobbled. Self-care time. That night I slept for the first night in a week. I was starting to look tired I’m told. Friends are always too polite. We did manage some friends over the following day, good friends. Thank you, good friends.

    The highlight of the week. A water experience, our daughter’s swimming is progress well. Three laps of the pool today. I’m so proud. A water-related thing. This week. Who knew!

    Right, I’m tired, hopefully, I’ll sleep tonight. Back to work and school tomorrow. I’m not sure if I’m ready. Another week and another hotel tomorrow. Better get some sleep…