Category Archives: Uncategorized

The ultimate family camping packing list

This list has evolved over several years of camping with family and friends.

I love a good list and a packing list for camping is invaluable.

Hope you can use it, feel free to share it. And let me know if you’ve stuff to add to it.

Happy camping!

Tent, pegs, mallet
Gaffer tape, fabsil
Airbeds, Pump and batteries
Phones/iPads/Bluetooth speaker/chargers
Sleeping bags, Pillows, Duvet, Blankets
Kettle, Saucepan, frying pan, chopping board
Washing up bowl, sponges, liquid, tea towel, kitchen towel, foil, bin bags
Foil pie plates
Plates, bowls, cups, wine glasses
Cool bag/ box and cold packs
Knife, egg slice, whisk, wooden spoon, bottle/tin opener, cheese grater, bbq tongs
Toys: outdoor toys, bucket & spade, colouring in books, pencil case, books, Cuddlies
Soap bags, Towels, Flannels, Toilet roll
Lanterns, torches, batteries
Cooker, gas, matches
Tables, Chairs
Dustpan and brush
Bunting, flag, pole
Fairy lights
Clothes, (warm stuff for cold evenings, cool stuff for warm days, waterproof jackets, swimmers) shoes (flip flops, beach shoes for pebbly beach, trainers, wellies)
Fruit, breakfast cereal, tea bags, snacks, biscuits, crisps, squash
Marshmallows and sticks
Wine boxes
Beach mats, body boards
yoga mat, yoga clothes,
travel wash

Expect Nothing by Alice Walker for #NationalPoetryDay

alice walkerI love this poem. I try to live it. Not always succeeding, but hey!

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Hello. I am Alan Stoob, Britain’s Premier Nazi Hunter

Alan Stoob Nazi Hunter by Saul WordsworthAlan is married to Edame. They’re due to retire to Bournemouth. They love a Bergerac box set and an afternoon session on the port. They’ve had their troubles, past indiscretions that occasionally return to bother them, troubled offspring with complex families of their own.

But it’s a loving relationship – fun and fruity. Well as fruity as Alan can manage. Broadly all is calm in Dunstable, Beds, until the original Nazi Hunter and fax-lover Simon Weisenthal recruits Alan out of retirement to take over his mission.

And so the thriller begins. Continue reading

Awake at 3.45 again

Two hours later, I’m writing a post. I need to find a good book if this keeps happening, otherwise I’ll just get lost in Internet wormholes like this one:

For those who post about waking up at 3 AM

An idle Google search reveals, that amongst the exhausted parents awake at this time are a bunch of folks convinced this is the devil’s hour.

i think I’m more prosaically worrying about surviving a work day that started three hours too soon.

What’s happening with the old Water Company Buildings in Hampton?

We were invited to take a look around the old Vauxhall and Southwark Water Company buildings which are just up the road a bit from us. Having walked past those magnificent buildings every day for the last eight years, we were keen.

The Riverdale and Morelands buildings were auctioned off by Thames Water a couple of years ago (I think). And I’ve been wondering what was going to happen with them since. The new owners Blackbottle had an open day yesterday. It turns out that if all goes according to plan, the buildings will become a bio-tech research hub. And if the information we received yesterday is all above board, I think it’s going to be great.

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I think some of the residents that will overlook the works and eventual access route to the buildings have understandable concerns about security, noise, light, and general inconvenience. And this is not a neck of the woods that could really handle much more in the way of traffic. But the plans for the renovations look amazing. And the mission of the hub – to look for new cures, researching the DNA of diseases apparently – is a sound one.

I hope it works out well, with residents’ concerns satisfied well. It’s not easy to find out much about Blackbottle or its plans – at least not in a cursory Google search. There’s not much on the website. I haven’t felt the need to dig through the planning application – yet!

There is a contingent in my family that loves the past. My sister resides in a living museum, firmly rooted in the steam era. My other half is a history graduate and will be a history teacher. It seems to have rubbed off a bit on me. I loved looking around the buildings, feeling a bit anorak-y. And I’m pleased that the prospect for the development seems so positive.

Random, hardly connected thoughts on a long stopping train from Cambridge

We like to think we’re relaxed parents but we’re uptight and we shout a lot. More than we ought to. We sound more like Kerry’s List on Radio4, than the laid back types we’d like to be. (Only three days left to listen to the first episode, but three more episodes to go.)

Our shouting serves only to momentarily release pressure and then make us feel ashamed of our ‘grown up’ selves. The children are – almost – immune.

My mum only had to give us ‘the look’ and we did what we were told. Same went for me, said the recovery man who drove me and my kaput car back from Warwick on Monday – his mum could do that too.

I don’t have that power. Is it imagined? A nostalgic creative memory? Did my mum feel like I do? I doubt it.

Myers Briggs is fuelled by momentum rather than scientific evidence. The psychology world discredits it. The business world loves it. Because we need a shorthand to help us communicate and get things done – people are tricky. And we want shortcuts and hacks. And because we love to put a label on something to help us feel like we understand it. But it is based on a series of polar opposite roles and quite apart from anything else, we should realise that life is far more complicated than that. If only life were as simple as black or white. It never is, no matter how much we crave it.

Given that people are complex, hard to second guess and difficult to gain consensus with, you can’t beat a face to face meeting. Its the only hope we have to understand people. You simply can’t communicate anywhere near as successfully by any other means.

Yesterday I saw a client I’ve never met before. Their communication style feels awkward and they’ve been potentially antagonistic on email. Face to face we could find some common ground. They wanted someone to listen to them, to discuss ideas with and essentially to understand and support them. This was not clear before.

Then I met up with an old friend I haven’t seen for a long time. Our busy lives, with young children, in fairly distant cities, puts us out of reach. She doesn’t use social media, so we don’t have the vicarious keeping up by looking at posts and photos online. We can only do face to face and increasingly we only manage this two or three times a year. That short meeting yesterday afternoon, offline and in the sun, was worth the mission of a long, late journey home. We could look at each other, be in each other’s company and understand.

Finally, time is a precious commodity. You can’t make the most of absolutely every moment. Who has the energy for that? But you can make the most of most of it. I have a four week break from work approaching this summer. Limited resources but a four week wealth of time. I have to make the most of that; to have some adventures. To look at my loved ones, be in their company, without the pressures to be up and out the door to meet someone else’s deadlines or timetables. To listen to them, speak in soft voices and take some time to understand.

MBTI: cooked up by housewives.

I’ll be generous and assume that Dean Burnett is mostly cross about the widespread adoption – in the absence of rigorous scientific testing – of MBTI, and is probably quite affably pro-female.

And it’s probably no doubt my rabid feminist gene that caused my eyes to red-mist-over when I reached paragraph six of his piece in the Guardian.

I’ve not been MBTI’d. But I have used other psychometric tools in business. And they’ve been effective as a way to understand individuals’ behaviour, and to address dynamics within a team.

I understand that people need to work better together. That this does not always come naturally. And that shared frameworks of understanding behaviour and communication can aid collaboration and effective working. MBTI, for all its obvious polar flaws, can assist here.

But I’m no MBTI apologist. I’ve met those who wear their four letter MBTI badge with pride. For some – now that it’s been ratified by an accepted system – it’s a justification for behaving in a certain way.

What I object to here is not the criticism of MBTI. What I object to is the insidious, almost imperceptible. opening gambit of a dig at Ms Myers and Ms Briggs. We know that Dean Burnett thinks MBTI is questionable. So how does he open his attempt to discredit it?

By calling Myers and Briggs ‘housewives’. It’s a carefully chosen word.

We’re already not taking their 30 years’ or so work seriously. They were housewives.

He goes on to say that amateurs have contributed notably to science. Perhaps that gets him off my hook then.

Except I have to apply the basic ‘is this sexist’ test: would this work for a man? Is there a male equivalent of that sentence and would it mean the same thing?

No. It’s not gender neutral and there is a value judgement in there. And that’s what’s got me riled.

It has undermined a position I might otherwise have supported, had the insidious sexism not got in the way.