A Design For Life

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

The ‘Epicurean Epitaph’, a quote attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, often now used at humanist funerals.epicurus-3

I found myself thinking about this yesterday, prompted by a Facebook meme.

It doesn’t just apply to a way of looking at death. It can also be a way of looking at life.

The basis of Epicurus’ philosophy after all, his lifestyle and that of his friends and followers, was looking for the things that make us happy and then as much as possible having those things in our lives.

Not in Hedonism: self-indulgent and unrestrained behaviour – a common misunderstanding of his ideas – but more in a satisfaction with life: involving moderation, respect for others and friendship.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

This could just as much be about happiness as it is a way of coping with the concept of our mortality. We all have peaks and troughs in our lives. There are times when things seem to be going well, when we’re making progress, when we’ve achieved some of our goals and are looking to continue onwards.

There are other times when life seems bleak, when nothing seems to work, where everything is going wrong – even to the extent that we give up hope.

Basic needs like food & water, shelter, safety, health, relationships. Simply said – not so simply achieved! Certainly not all at once. Sometimes we seem to have them all; other times none of it!

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

‘A while back’ – I’m shocked sometimes when I think about just how long ago it was! – I was living and working in and around London, working in Finance.  I was “doing OK”, not great, but “OK”.

I met a girl, we moved in together. She was also “doing OK”. We went to restaurants, pubs and gigs: together and with friends. We travelled a lot. We moved to Brighton, then to Sutton Coldfield. We got married, then had children. Twins: Jake and Ellie. Great kids! Having been made redundant earlier I became their full time stay-at-home Dad: for 3 years, until they started pre-school in preparation for school proper. By this time we were here in Wales.

Now, 5 years later, we’re separated. I live alone, in a small house: fine just for me but nothing like our old family home. The children who were my life I see now just 2 days a week: most of 1 day on the weekend and 1 evening after school.  And to be honest I’ve struggled to pick up with my career where I left off. The industry is very tech-driven and seems to have moved on, irrespective of all my experience. My age counts against me too I think; having to start again as it were a lot of the jobs I am qualified for I think are taken by young people.

We had a big house, and a good lifestyle: travel, good food, fun. Now I sometimes struggle even with the basics. Then I spent nearly all my time with my beloved Jake & Ellie; now I often feel like I hardly know them, like they’re growing up without me.

It’s very easy to look back and think things were perfect though isn’t it? I know they weren’t, even then.

Further back –  in New Zealand, for instance, before I found my feet career-wise here – I sometimes struggled, financially and socially. Even after I moved to the U.K. there were difficult times: I got caught up in the mortgage interest rate crisis of the ‘90s, and leaving the somewhat extreme religious group I got mixed up in was necessary, but still difficult, not least as it meant cutting myself off from all my ‘friends’ & having to start again socially.

“I was not; I have been; I am not; I do not mind.”

I had tough times before, some good times, and now difficult times again. Life has its ups and downs. It’s just a question of perspective isn’t it? I’m trying to be grateful for what I do have. Great children who love me, food & shelter, safety, reasonably good health, friendships.

That’s more than millions of people all over the world can say. In many ways I’m lucky, despite what the reality of my life seems to be a lot of the time.

“I had not; I did have; I do not have; I do not mind”

I’m trying very hard to improve the things I can, while learning to accept and make the most of life as it is.

Thank you Epicurus: those are indeed wise words.

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Great Scott, Jallie! My Sunday Photo 2/8/15

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click to enlarge

It was ‘back to the future’ yesterday, when there was a vintage car show and fair here. Of course the car I was most interested in was the only one there that wasn’t actually a real car. Isn’t it great? You can’t see it here but it had all the flashing lights working as well! Jake and Ellie haven’t seen the films so I had to explain it all to them, which prompted a discussion (from Jake) about the possibility of time-travel.

There were also many other amazing cars here: Mustang, Jaguar, Rolls Royce and my other favourite a 100-year-old mint condition Model T Ford.

There were also bouncy castles and other fun things for kids – including free lollipops! – and in truth I didn’t actually manage to spend all that much time with the cars. But we all had a great time.

Now, all we need is 1.21 Gigawatts of power. Anyone got any going spare?

OneDad3Girls

 

From the Mouths of Babes and Infants, again

So we have what’s become a Thursday tradition now. After school Jake & Ellie go to their gym class, while the Mummy & I sit around chatting with each other & with other parents there.

Then we troop off to MacDonald’s for Happy Meals, toys & a nice family outing.

We were talking about my good friend the Pope. I think it led on from a large family we’d seen & wondering if maybe they were committed Catholics & didn’t use birth control.

I had thought that he was turning out to be a good guy, or at least one of the better Pontiffs. He’d said sorry for a lot of the very nasty things many members of his organisation had done & that his predecessors had glossed over. He was saying lots of nice things about how we should all be nice to each other. He seemed sincere, & he probably is. Continue reading “From the Mouths of Babes and Infants, again”

The Story Behind the Photo

Jake & Ellie, balloons, a clown, the seafront: that was my Silent Sunday Photo yesterday, & a lovely one too I think.

What is it they say? “A picture paints 1000 words”. There are definitely a few words behind this one!

The town we live in was having a ‘Seafront Festival’ , promising rides, stalls & entertainment. There were plenty of stalls alright, & good entertainment, but only 1 ‘ride’ – a sort of long soft-play bouncy castle. Probably just as well actually, as it was £2 for 5 minutes, & of course with us everything is x2!

After an oom-pah band the entertainment was this clown, a Mr T Ricks. He did a great show: he was funny, had great rapport with the kids, made some balloons then did a great ‘Punch & Judy’ show. The twins, & the many other children there, loved it.

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We then wandered off for an over-priced lunch in a nearby cafe, then it was back to the seafront where Jake & Ellie selected their promised “1 treat & 1 toy” – both small! – each, the deal which had been thrashed out in earlier negotiations.

Jake found an ‘Angry Birds’ Pez ,which he loved, & Ellie a slurpy licky sugary juicy thing, which she didn’t. They both decided on loud horns for their toys. Oh goody…

I’d forgotten my earplugs! They sounded a lot like Vuvuzelas.

I hate Vuvuzelas!

After getting ‘tattoos’  – free from the lovely Mr Ricks – they decided they wanted to see his show again.

We’d grabbed a couple of (small!) balloons on the way – Jake a Spiderman one, & Ellie an Elsa & Anna one from her beloved ‘Frozen’. They were helium but were wrapped around their wrists so they wouldn’t fly away.

They were sitting down enjoying the show when their balloons become tangled in the wind. I stepped in to untangle them but somehow in the process Ellie’s came loose & flew off up into the sky!

She was very upset. She cried!

The lovely Mr T Ricks noticed, & actually stopped his show for her! He called her up, & made a special balloon, just for her! It took quite a while, & all the time he was making a fuss of her. And it really was a special balloon – a green-stemmed big white flower with a red love-heart inside the petal!

She still missed her ‘Frozen’ balloon but was very happy with her new one. Mr Ricks sir – you are a star!

We then walked back ‘home’. I was leading the way carrying Ellie’s flower balloon, Jake his Spiderman one, & they were tooting on their horns nearly all the way. We were like a mini-parade, & I was a little surprised all the children within earshot didn’t try to fall in line with us! We certainly got noticed!

We paraded all the way to – strange but true – the Library!

They do a weekly reading & crafting session there, 1 of the twins’ favourite activities. They made sparkly fish, & did a ‘monster-hunt’ treasure trail, & really enjoyed it all.

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Some trees we prepared earlier!

A great day, including a real Magic Moment, courtesy of a very kind clown!

For more Magic Moments just click the pic:

Film Appreciation

Now where was I?

Oh, yes: ‘Frozen’: Jake & Ellie’s first trip to the cinema! Last year.

Yes: bit of a gap; I know I wrote “tomorrow”. I’ve had a lot going on here lately…

As I said, they love films, & have done since very young. Early favourites were ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ & ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. More recently they’ve both loved ‘Tangled’ & Jake has fallen in love with ‘Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs’. And actually I may have as well!

We needn’t have worried about their ability to sit through the film without being noisy or running around: they loved it! Jake especially was rapt throughout, almost entranced.
Continue reading “Film Appreciation”

Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!

I’ve had an eventful December, especially the last couple of weeks! I’m just now finding the time to write about it.

In less than 2 weeks  I’ve been in 3 car breakdowns, having to be towed each time. The last one  – Saturday – was on the hard shoulder of a busy dual carriageway just ahead of a slip road, in the dark & the cold.

With Jake & Ellie.
Continue reading “Tired, scared, sore, smelly & frozen!”

Saturday is Caption Day! The Sit-Down Strike Edition

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Captions please!

Then for more captiony fun just click the pic:

It’s the way that we tell ’em…

It started at our last meal out.

It was a child-friendly restaurant where they had activity sheets to keep the young ones occupied.

They nearly worked…

Along with the usual colouring-in the sheets had a few jokes, which we read out to them.

They laughed. A lot.

Did they understand them? I’m not sure. But they at least understood that they were meant to be funny.

Either way the result is that they’ve starting telling jokes of their own.

They’re hilarious.

Continue reading “It’s the way that we tell ’em…”

Flashback Friday: 12th Century Ruins & Doctor Who

I recently had an old camera repaired, under warranty. When I got it back however I couldn’t charge it as I’d lost a charging plug & so couldn’t use it!

I’ve had a week of catching up on old jobs & emails & while digging around I managed to find the part & charge the camera.

Not before contacting the repair centre, who then agreed to send me the part “as a gesture of goodwill”. Thanks Nikon! I ‘phoned to say I’d found it, but they just said to keep it when it arrives. It’s nice to know that not all companies give bad service these days.

When it was up & running again I found some great old photos & videos! Despite their age I thought they deserved a place on my blog.

It’s a post that seems to fit perfectly with a blog-hop-linky-thing I’ve just discovered hosted by mummy mishaps called “Flashback Friday”. You basically post about a memory, old or recent, & include a photo or 2 if you wish.

I’m a big fan of nostalgia so it’s a good fit for me & this blog.

These photos are from a trip to the Country Park we love so much from back in June last year, when Jake & Ellie were only 2 1/4.  I well remember coming here with them when they were younger, seeing their joy of discovery & exploration, a sense of wonder on their little faces.

These ruins of a 12th-century Cistercian Abbey there are really atmospheric; you can almost feel the ghosts of the monks who lived there so long ago. It isn’t such a surprise then that it was used in a spooky Matt Smith episode of ‘Doctor Who’, a good one too. It was great recognising the location while I was watching: “Hey: I’ve been there!”.

It’s since been roped off; I presume for safety & hopefully restorative reasons. It’s still closed off without any sign of work, so these photos are actually a bit of a rarity!

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The woods around the ruins are just as beautifully atmospheric

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…and nearby is a beautiful Victorian Orangery, which was also used in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode

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Beautiful photos, history, ruins, family fun, nostalgia & Doctor Who: this is JallieDaddy heaven!

mummy mishaps

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Dinosaurs! And Magic

We enjoyed our recent visit to the Dinosaur Park.

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As well as the obvious Jake & Ellie really enjoyed playing with a baby dinosaur newly emerged from its egg. Ellie in particular: she had to be dragged away protesting as we left! There were also great tube-slides down dinosaurs’ necks which they spent a long time on.

I was quite interested in the sets of standing stones there & their history, but that will probably have to wait until our next visit.

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There were certainly plenty of dinosaurs!

This one is Mammasaurus’ Mum, apparently

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There was a hidden lake! I was very impressed when Jake identified this as “a crocodile, or an alligator”. A big one!

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Watching over Wales?

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The watering-hole:

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There was also a recreation of a stone-age village there, including a preserved ‘real’ spring held to be sacred by the Druids. People had thrown coins into it & Jake was fascinated by it. I attempted to explain by saying that people believed that when they threw coins into the spring that something magic might happen. So of course I had to produce a coin for him to throw in! He was very excited.

At home that evening I was playing music from my iPod wirelessly from my little bluetooth speakers. Jake wanted to know how the music was coming out of the little box.

After toying with the idea of trying to explain bluetooth technology to a 3-year-old I resorted to the Daddy Pig solution: “It’s magic!”.

I can’t tell you how excited he was! Jumping around the room like a mad thing, he decided that he had made magic: that this was from his throwing the coin into the magic water!

He went to bed a very happy little boy 🙂