Tripped up…

Mental health is a tricky bugger. One day you can be fine and on top of the world, the next, down in the dumps wondering how you will ever get through the day. 

I am fortunate to know that my depression and anxiety aren’t so bad that I cannot function at all, but my brain will sometimes get caught in a negative spiral, with logic and illogic chasing each other’s tails, making concentration and happiness elusive. On the whole, I am okay most of the time, but small worries can easily mutate interest ever larger ones, and depression and anxiety can take hold.

Take returning to college, for example. On the day my mum died earlier this year, I made a decision to get back to my counselling course, get qualified and become a really good counsellor, working preferably with children. There are certain things that need to be in place before returning to college, BACP membership, insurance, and most importantly, placements. I knew about these things, of course, but this year has been tough, and getting my act together has been hard. So, when my return interview didn’t happen last week, my brain spiralled down into panic overload, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get things sorted and return to my studies. 

Stepping back, making a list, and taking some time has allowed me to overcome my anxiety, and I have now got a referee in place; drafted my letter asking for placements; and have applied for my insurance. I also have someone in mind for my sponsor, and feel more positive about my return to college in September. 

As I write this, I am calm, centred and focused. Onwards…

Zen and the art of till jockeying…

Today has been a bit of a rollercoaster, with the morning seeing me slightly out of sorts and snappy with my lovely supportive wife. I wandered off to catch the bus to counselling in a bit of a haze of unsettled feelings…

Clearly tired, I half read and half dozed through the journey, trying to stay focused on what was going on around me. Still, I made it to town and appointed session in good time with a clearer head. Sleep helps sometimes.

Counselling today gave me time and space to explore and examine the feelings I’ve had over the last few days, trying to work out why I’ve been feeling so unsettled and out of sorts. I like the time I have in counselling, as I feel as though I am thinking on a higher level, able to clear my mind and understand my thoughts and feelings.

So after a refreshing coffee and a late lunch, I caught the bus home in a much clearer frame of mind, able to focus on the days ahead and what needs to be done.

Yet, it was while I was putting in my hours at my part time supermarket job that a sense of real calm and awareness came over me. Suddenly, life made sense and I had a real understanding of my place in the world. The feeling has stuck with me now, and everything seems clear.


Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

Elsa – my trusty road bike


That’s better…

I’ve had a rough day today… not feeling too good about myself and my attitude, I spent the morning at college on my Counselling Diploma. This morning, we were working in groups presenting controversial issues to each other and letting the debates ensue. I dug myself further and further into my cave, withdrawing from the room and the ensuing debates.

I presented our groups issue (enforced euthanasia) with sheer bloody mindedness, stayed for the following group, made my excuses and left, knowing that my mood and mental state would not be conducive to learning that afternoon.

The Pond in late Autumn

After a long lunch and a cuddle with my wife on my return home, I packed up my fishing rods and backpack and headed back to my favourite fishing spot of the summer, “my pond”. Just walking down the towpath in the late autumn sun made me feel better. The canal was high after heavy rain last week, and the trees were mostly bare, allowing more to be seen in the fields around the canal.



Rods are out…

Arriving at the pond, the feelings of the morning faded, and a warm smile spread across my face. It is good to be back at one of my favourite places to relax. The pond seemed a little different, as it is not covered by so much foliage now, but it has lost none of its magic calming effect. Being in nature is such a tonic to me in times of distress and upset.

The Pond in late Autumn


After fishing with my good friend Rolf at the end of last week down in Hampshire (I was after Pike, Rolf was after Carp), I was certain that there is a dirty great big Pike in the pond… I had seen it briefly over the Summer, and the lack of water birds on the pond confirmed it to me and my friends. Rolf has kindly set me up with Pike rigs and a bigger landing net, so Im determined to go after the Pike in the pond, alongside fishing for the larger Roach that are definitely in there too.

Here’s to an exciting Winter at a lovely spot, and catching some big fish. It makes me happy.

Double whammy…

I’ve been fishing twice today… and made my own bait!

After talking to my good buddy Rolf yesterday, who was also canal fishing last night, I was determined to get bank side as early as possible, and try own my home made bait! (I cooked up some sweetcorn with sesame oil, sugar and spices yesterday afternoon…) I prepped everything last night, packed my bag, and managed to be set up next to the canal bridge just after 5:00 this morning.

It was lovely being outside before anyone else was about on the tow path, There was still a little mist rolling off the water as I baited up, as there was plenty of activity under the water. Casting out nearer the bridge was much better, as there are less trees overhanging on this bank. Great for practising my casting, and getting my accuracy better.

The new bait worked well, as fish were definitely into it. As soon as I got some out into the water, the bubbles were up, and feeding was instant! Sadly, even though the fish clearly liked the bait, they were only knocking, not biting in the morning. Mind you, I found out some interesting info about the canal later in the day…

I was a little upset about not catching anything in the morning, so planned to try another stretch of the canal later in the day, and some different bait. Ham.

After lunch and a lovely walk with my wife and our dog, I had a really nice walk over the old canal tunnel (about half a mile long and was built in 1797), to try out a different stretch of water. After letting a canal barge and a canoe through, I baited up with the sweetcorn mix, then baited my hook with small strips of ham. (My reckoning was that they’d look a bit like worms…) There were definite fish signs, but rain stopped play, making it very difficult to see what was bubbles from fish, or bubbles from the rain.

Back to the info about the canal… Whilst I was fishing, a lovely old chap stopped to see how I was getting on. He was an angler too. I was chatting about fishing the Fleckney end of the canal in the morning, and not catching anything. It turns out that a local farmer had released slurry into the canal last year, killing over 20,000 fish, leading to our stretch of the canal needing to be seriously restocked, even though many fish were saved. (The farmer did it again too…) No wonder there’s not many fish around, nor are they biting. Neither, for that matter, have I seen any other anglers over the last month. The old chap was telling me about fish that used to be in the canal, tench, bream and carp. All at good weights and size too.

We chatted for a while longer, and I was getting some really nice knocks, which we were both commenting on. He was kind enough to offer advice on water depth and line length, which definitely made a difference to the rest of my session. Oh yeah, the ham didn’t work, but the fish liked the sweetcorn.

So, I didn’t catch anything yet again today, but I had a really nice time learning and growing as an angler. I walked home through the canal fields really happy that I’d learnt more about fishing and enjoyed what nature has to offer. Thanks for reading…

Over the tunnel
Overgrown and overground…
Early morning
Early morning at the Fleckney end…
Fleckney tunnel
Saddington end of the tunnel
Saddington end
Opposite stretch after the rain…

Megalithic musings..

Not sure if there’s a pattern on here yet, and not even sure if there should be one. I think this site is becoming my space to think and express my thoughts to the world.

Last week was hard work, physically at least. There were quite a few business events, and sorting out things for my course kept me busy. Valentine’s was an odd day, with a mixture of feelings, predominately lovely, but the morning was tough, and I had to deal with anger issues and feelings of resentment. Recycling lots of book for charity and a serious amount of cleaning and tidying were amazing therapy, as were a long hot bath, wine and a wonderful meal that my wife made for us.

Whilst I was in the bad patch on Valentine’s morning, I was listening to some really heavy music. Music is incredibly therapeutic for me, even more so since I’ve been making it. Very heavy music takes me to another place, and quite literally blows away all of the detritus, negative feelings and emotions. I spent quite a while making some really heavy loud music on Sunday, which sounds bloody fantastic (to me) through headphones really loud. It’s quite liberating creating and listening stuff like this. I heartily recommend it.

I can only play for a short while at present, as my fingers have softened off from not playing ukulele for a while. At present, I’m making the sounds heavier and more messed up by adding distortion and amplification through my PC. At some point, this’ll go live, and there will be a new amp, mics, pedals and a repaired ukulele. For now, learning to play heavier and fstaer again is my goal, and making my fingers tougher again!

Thanks for listening.

Time to think…

Happy New Year!

Hope you all had a good New Year and didn’t over indulge… I spent mine with my grandson, who just about managed to stay up past midnight (he’s 10…), and had a lovely evening. We watched funny stuff that he chose on YouTube, and classic anime, also on YouTube, that I chose. Oh the irony, seeing as this site is about having fun offline! We did also have fun making comics, playing games, eating sweets and dancing! I love spending time with my grandson. He’s funny, smart, energetic, loving, crazy, creative, and a ton more besides…

The following morning, New Year’s Day, we did a double whammy at our local park. We took Fizz, our German Shepherd for a long walk and plenty of chasing after her ball, then went back to play football. Well, for my grandson to ‘coach’ me in football. He got hooked on football (soccer to those outside the UK) last summer at school, as they have weekly games in PE, and he really enjoys it. He’s also really good too. So, we used the basketball area to practice shooting and goalkeeping, then the main pitch for ball control and getting used to controlling power and saving goals in a full size goal. After an hour and the threat of rain, we went home for hot chocolate and lunch.

We relaxed for the rest of the day, watched some lectures about robotics, drew more comics and laughed a lot, then I took him home. The next morning, my right knee was really hurting. I thought I’d rested it properly after my running injury, but apparently, injured knees and moderate football practice don’t mix. To cap it off, my back has been really painful this weekend. I’m a little concerned…

I’d already decided to focus my exercise regime around cycling, as it’s easier on my joints, and will allow me to build my strength and stamina up again, and get properly fit. Riding differing disciplines (BMX, Road, MTB) enables me to exercise different parts of my body in different ways. It’s also great mental exercise too… I can really zone out and focus on nothing but riding.

BUT. I had to cut a family get together short today as my knee and back were really painful and wouldn’t let me settle or properly interact with my grandchildren… Back to the GP in the morning. Fingers crossed.

A slight shift

Since last week’s post, a lot has changed. I’m socialising a lot more through my business and music, face-to-face as opposed to on-line.  This is good on many levels.

I’ve also been reading a lot more (on-line, admittedly) about how people deal with issues like social injustice and mental health.  It’s led me to think a lot about how creativity can help with depression and anxiety, and how art can be used as a tool to inform and educate others.  How it can support those living with these kind of difficulties, and allow them to express those feelings that depression, anxiety and other mental health problems make the feel and think.

I’m making a slight shift on here, to also talk about how mental health affects people.  It’s a really important issue that needs to be talked about more openly, and the core of this can be through getting out and interacting with others.  This is what this site is all about.  Real interaction out in the real world.  Talking about and sharing thoughts, concerns and problems really helps.  It can remove the sense of isolation that depression can bring.

Go for a walk.  Go to music events. Go to exhibitions and museums.  See what your community has to offer.  Use the web, but as a tool to support you, not dominate you.

Thanks for listening.