bookmark_borderChocolate Raisins

I’m guessing it all started with Sun-Maid Raisins.

If you are of a certain age (shut up at the back!) they were a staple part of your packed lunch, sitting right next to the tuna paste sandwich and, if you were really lucky, a carton of Ribena. Ahh yes that little red cardboard box that contained a small handful of such a sweet delicacy, the raisin.

As I’m sure you know, a raisin is simply a dried grape BUT, ahh yes, it’s not just any grape. Typically the word “raisin” is reserved for the dark-colored dried large grape, with “sultana” being a golden-colored dried grape, and “currant” being a dried small Black Corinth seedless grape. And you thought you weren’t going to learn anything today…

I love raisins, I love how they taste, I love how they feel in your mouth eaten raw, I love how they are just at home in a spicy curry or freshly baked cake.

As I got older I got my own pocket money and the temptation of the previously unknown chocolate coated raisin loomed into my world view. I’m pretty sure I kept the local shop in business the summer I discovered them; rarely was I happier than having a box of raisin Poppets in one hand, a (red) box of toffee Poppets in the other. It was a simple time; One raisin, one toffee, one after another, popped in my gob and chewed and savoured and swallowed. Repeat.

Somewhere along the way the toffee Poppets were replaced by chocolate coated peanuts, and I veered away from the brand names to the stores own-brand, I noticed no difference, plus it’s only £1 for a bag of chocolate raisins, heaven! If I was really well behaved I’d sometimes be able to make them last for a week or so, but most times that sneaky addition to my shopping cart were scoffed quick smart.

In fact it’s why I started buying the chocolate peanuts as well, to bulk things out a bit, to make the pleasure last that little bit longer.

So you can imagine my glee when, on returning from the supermarket the other day, Becca said she’d gotten me some treats.

We have a snack drawer at home, it’s mostly Nakd bars and the like (we do try and eat healthily) but in these current times it’s fair to say that I’m struggling a little more than usual to keep my inner ’emotional eater’ in-check. I knew I had treats waiting, and I’m proud that I lasted a couple of days before heading to the kitchen to raid the snack drawer and see what she’d bought me.

I was watching a movie, and fancied a little something to munch on. I kept the movie playing so I could watch from the kitchen (we have an open-plan layout downstairs), and went through and opened the snack drawer and, to my delight I could see TWO little bags of treats in the drawer, the top one of which read “Milk Chocolate Raisins”, YA BEAUTY!! Raisins and peanuts!

I quickly grabbed a small bowl so I could mix them up and, whilst I negotiated the usual hazards that living with a dog who likes to check what you are doing when you are in the ‘food room’, I grabbed the top bag, snipped it open and tipped a small (ok large!) handful into the bow, I grabbed the second bag and did the same.

I returned to my seat, engrossed in the movie, got comfortable and dipped my hand into the bowl. First item out, a chocolate raisin! Oh yes! I think it smiled a little as the chocolate gave way to the rich sweetness that lay with in.

Now, I’m an adult so I took my time, savouring each chew until it was all gone. I forced myself to wait a few seconds – again I’m an adult, honest – and dipped my hand into the bowl, enjoying the tiny silly suspense of guessing what I’d get next, raisin or peanut, raisin or peanut.


Two in a row.

A few minutes later, I tried again… RAISIN AGAIN! This was wonderful but I gave the bowl a little shoogle to make sure the peanuts and raisins were properly mixed up.

Another try and, another raisin, what the … and then I realised, as I’m sure you already have.

She bought me two bags of raisins, didn’t she.

I’d only gone and opened both bags, tipping a little from one, then a little from the other, into the bowl thinking I was getting a mix of peanuts and raisins.

What. A. Numpty.

Still, I enjoyed the rest of the bowl, safe in the knowledge there were no chocolate peanuts waiting in disguise.

bookmark_borderThe new normal

My alarm goes off at 7:30am.

I get up and have breakfast.

At 8:00am I log in to my work laptop, check any tasks/calls for the coming day.

I take a break every 50 minutes to stand and stretch.

I write in my journal during a break.

At midday I stop for lunch.

After that I spend 10 minutes meditating.

Then back to work for the afternoon.

I am lucky to have this routine, it’s about to change from next week whilst the project I work on is scaled back to almost zero staff, but it’ll pick back up again in a few weeks, maybe a month.

So I’ll have a new routine from next week.

The routine is helping, having something to do, something to focus on is helping.

Isn’t it funny how quickly we get used to change, how quickly we adapt and accept that this is just how things are for now, how quickly I’ve started scanning the street ahead of me to see if anyone is going to walk past, crossing the road to avoid them. How quickly I’ve learnt to just make do with whatever food we have in the cupboards and fridge.

We are lucky. We are both healthy, able-bodied, and we have each other. Hearing news of friends, isolated, who may have contracted the virus, is heart-breaking. They will be fine, I tell myself, even though I’m not sure.

And to stop myself worrying too much I return to my routine.

My new normal is getting me through.

I hope you are getting through this as best you can.

bookmark_borderMac Apps

Like many I’m working from home, and whilst I have a worked supplied laptop (a Windows system, ugh), I also have a MacBook with a separate monitor which is more comfortable for me to use. An install of Office means I can do some of my work here on this lovely operating system.

Yet, like most operating systems it isn’t perfect and over the years I’ve discovered a few little apps that add to the experience and make using MY MacBook better for ME, in other words, YMMV with the following list of apps that I happily pay for as they make my day to day use all the better.

In no particular order…

  • Contexts – For those who also use Windows, this provides a smarter CMD+Tab app switcher, which includes sub windows too. So, if I have 3 draft emails, I can bring either one to the front. With standards MacOS functionality I can only switch to the app itself, which can sometimes leave the emails hidden behind the main window.
  • Stay – If you use more than one monitor, this is for you. Allows you to store your current window positions so at the end of the day, when you power down your monitor and close your laptop, you won’t need to drag windows around the next morning, Stay will move them for you.
  • Hazel – A powerful little tool for keeping your files organised. It’ll watch a folder (Desktop for example) and move files from there to another folder… also helps when removing applications as it’ll find all those other files left around and chuck them in the Trash for you (and it’ll empty the Trash every X days if you want it to).
  • Amphetamine – Want to keep your screens active when you are on a long video conference call, or watching a movie? This is for you!
  • Tot – A new addition, a simple little sticky note still app.
  • BetterTouchTool – Create custom swipe (and mouse button click) actions, the more you use it, the more powerful you realise it is, well worth a tinker!
  • Bartender – All of these apps add a little icon top left in the menu bar, so Bartender is the app you need to help clear up all that clutter!
  • Smart Countdown Timer – Useful countdown timer to stop you sitting staring at the screen for too long!

There are more apps out there that do lots of little niche things but these are my go to apps to solve all those little niggly things that don’t stop you using your computer, but are so so good to be able solve.

bookmark_borderWhat a wonderful world

Wrote this a couple of days ago, still processing all this, still adjusting. We are ok. I am ok but my emotions are veering all over the place from ‘it’s horrible but we will get through it’ to utter fury and outrage at the reaction of a government I didn’t vote for, to a quiet calm as I take time to care for myself and my mental health.

I was in the local Co-op yesterday, we didn’t need anything urgent, I was really just seeing if they had any pizzas. The shelves were mostly stocked, plenty of fruit and veg, milk, butter, bread, even a few packets of toilet roll.

They had the pizzas I was after too, so I got those and grabbed a couple of cartons of oat milk because they were there, and some eggs, again because they were there.

As I turned to walk down an aisle and elderly woman with a fully laden basket was walking towards me, I stopped to let her step around one of the end of aisle displays and as she passed she smiled and said,

“Not even really sure what I’m buying!”

She had a twinkle in her eye, and half a laugh in her voice when she said it. I got the sense that she’s been through stuff like this before and isn’t sure what to do but knows she should do something and this is all she can think of.

I’m in the same boat.

I’ve not been through anything like this before, but I know I should be doing something I’m just not sure what.

I’ve had a weird feeling in my stomach a few days ago, roundabout the time the first confirmed patients were recorded in the UK, and it took me a couple of days to figure out that it was anxiety that was bubbling away. Last night, in the midst of eating my feelings from our snack drawer, I paused and thought, no this is not enough. I wasn’t talking about the volume of snacks (although are there ever enough snacks?) more reflecting on my attitude to the current pandemic.

Pandemic is an odd word. The stuff of movies, or zombie-led TV series, it’s not something that actually happens. Yet here we are.

And as world leaders stumble and bumble their way through this, displaying all their worst traits and more – hey if you voted Tory or Trump, some of this is on you you utterly selfish prick – and in the meantime so many people are going to suffer in so many ways, a lot of which we can’t even understand yet.

But enough ENOUGH of this negativity. I’m distancing myself (officially working at home now for… some time) and I’m lucky that is an option. My partner is self-employed and we know the time will come she can no longer go out to work. We will cope, we will get through this.

Meanwhile small businesses we use, small restaurants and cafes we frequent, are closing or closed. And yes, again the government has a hand to play in this – Tories will always look after the rich, if you voted from them, fuck you – and it’s horrifying and scary and oh hello anxiety.

But no, I will not get dragged into this.

I am finding my new normal, working from home, finding a routine, carving more time for self-care, meditate, breathe, write, read.

It’s time to look around and remember the good things in life. There are more people who care and love than those that hate, the news is the worst tip of a small iceberg, the majority of people are not like that. Amplify those messages please, focus on the good, on the small gestures that mean more at times like these.

Go outside, breathe in the air, get soaked in the rain, walk on the grass.

Do not give in to anger. Smile as you pass strangers in the street.

I don’t know what else to write. I have a journal but it’s all that is on my mind right now. There is no fiction, just a reality that seems so improbable that fiction feels false.

Surely this will pass in a couple of weeks. Right? That’s the optimist voice in my head, it’s a small voice, and usually hiding away from change and uncertainty. Everything will be ok, it says.

And it will, logically, scientifically, I know it will. I am relying on that part of my brain to process this, as the emotional part is bunkered down in a duvet fort, eating chocolate buttons and re-watching the West Wing.

But I know it will be ok. We will get through this.

Most of us at least. The fallout is unknown, and that’s the scariest part but we can’t deal with that today, we can plan and hope to stave it off and lessen the impact but today is always about today.

So I sit at home and count my blessings for they are many.

I will not succumb to negativity. I will be kind to myself and to others, I will come out of this changed, as will the wider world. New values will be established, and I hope they hold fast. Maybe this is the radical action that will shift the world away from the right-wing governments that hold power?

But no, enough of that. Enough of this.

I am ok. We are ok.

How are you? Reach out if you need to, together we will prevail.

bookmark_borderThe Recap: February 2020

I think I will remember February for mostly being wet and windy. Was there a time when there wasn’t a new storm landing on our shores to decimate a weekend? Elsewhere, Sasha has recovered well from her operation and is now happily ensconced back on the sofa (or on my lap) where she should be, and welcoming us on our return home with her usual mixture of fervent joy and toys. We’ve missed that.

My knee rehab has stalled a little as I had a tendinitis flare up in my right foot but I’m on still on track to do a Parkrun before the end of the year. Ohh and I got a new tattoo.


  • The Morning Show – Challenging many things that are wrong in society, particularly focused on the #metoo movement. Smart writing, Aniston is brilliantly on the edge, Carell plays with good/bad a little too easily(?), Witherspoon is consistently good, with Crudup intriguingly watchable whenever he’s on screen.
  • The West Wing – STILL (re)watching.


  • The Nest – Is money the root of all evil? A story about a family of siblings who are promised funds later in their life and the impact that has on them and their lives.
  • The One – a simple idea that quickly takes a dark turn, this went from emotional intrigue to deadly thriller really quickly, a proper page turner by the end.
  • The Other Half of August Hope – best of the month, wonderfully written, and it’s not often that I cry reading a book but cry I did.

My GoodReads profile


  • Supergrass – In preparation for their joyful return tour at the Barrowlands.

My Favourite Post

  • Februarius – because when I take time to consider what I’m writing, and edit it properly, I can read it back a month later and find myself surprised that *I* wrote that

My Favourite Photo