Houses or Holidays…. May 30, 2018

My wife has made a tactical error.

She has a technique of repeatedly introducing topics into conversation so that we go off in the targeted direction and she gets what she wants. She leaves magazines open on certain pages, television programmes are paused and played only when I enter the room, I get unsolicited e-mails from companies I have never heard of – that suggest… ‘as per your recent enquiry’.

My I-Pad is under the impression that my favourite websites are ‘Rightmove’ and ‘John Lewis interiors’ ….it thinks I like ‘Cath Kidston’ and that I want pottery from ‘Emma Bridgewater’ websites, I can assure you …I have never been on.

So as part of her most recent barrage of subliminal messages we have been on holiday to a foreign place. We have actually extended our range from North Wales to the bloody Maldives. I don’t actually know how this happened – I thought I was getting on a plane to Llandudno so was a bit shocked when we arrived in Dubai.

The ‘error’ that she has made is that I have actually enjoyed the holiday. I’ve enjoyed it so much I want to go again. I want to go again …now.

But… dear reader this is not in my wife’s plans, she has moved on from holidays to houses. It appears our house is… ‘not big enough for two people’ – even though until recently it held four people and a dog.

It now has only two occupants but is apparently one of THE smallest houses in Glossop – if not the world.

So, my in-tray has been clogged with companies that do ‘House make overs’, the post is full of circulars from companies responding to our ‘interest’ and my diary appears to have meetings with ‘contractor 1’, ‘contractor 2’ and ‘contractor 3 …I like the look of this one’.

I have, however, pointed out to my other half that we can’t do everything.

So, it’s either houses or holidays…

Which is it to be…?

I’m now getting subliminal messages relating to articles titled …. ‘how to leave your husband and take all his money’ …

Mike C

The Royal Wedding May 23, 2018

Today’s blog is about the recent Royal wedding.

 It has been edited so as not to offend anyone.

 ‘….on Saturday …’

 Mike C

Choosy May 16, 2018

I like to think of myself as a bit ‘choosy’ in who I like.

I don’t have many friends and keep myself to myself in most situations. It’s something that I’ve always done since childhood. I think it stems from having a teacher as a parent. When I say ‘teacher’ I mean that my dad taught at my school and was pretty much feared by everyone – hence being his son left me with a fairly small pool of people who would be approved by my dad.

Nobody came round for tea, nobody came round to play and nobody came round to just hang out.

This left me with a difficulty in socialising and a very independent attitude to living my life. I didn’t go into the halls of residence at university instead opting to go into a house with a self-contained flat. Again this meant that I didn’t socialise with the rest of my group on the course and made my own way through the three year degree.

I’ve always had loads of acquaintances, people that I’m on talking terms with, but never really been open to having loads of friends.

I do have a close group of people who I have stayed in touch with over the years and can at least consider myself lucky to have a handful of friends always there when you need a night out or an ear to listen to your views and problems.

I’m choosy with friendships within the work environment as I’ve always been the owner of my own business you have to be very careful who you are close to. It’s no good being mates with someone who you have to discipline or even fire, and it’s awkward giving a performance review to someone who you were out drinking beers with the night before.

So I’ve led a fairly insular life.

Until recently.

I’m not sure why, but since having my heart attack I’ve been far more open to friendships. I think it started in the critical care ward where it came home to me that there are loads of people in similar situations who are just as vulnerable and scared as I was – and chatting to them made me feel better about myself.

Nothing lost by being friendly, nothing lost by being open to chatting about being worried or scared. It kind of opened my eyes to the fact that I’ve been too wrapped up in my own issues to see what other people are going through – and maybe I’ve been a bit closed to other people’s worries.

Since my near death experience I have been annoyingly friendly with the most random groups of people. Holidays and trips away have led to dinners and beers with complete strangers and a whole new social life.

Somebody even told my wife that they thought I was ‘nice’.

Unheard of.

Mike C

Holidays – So what have I learnt….? May 9, 2018

Well now that I’m a… ‘seasoned’ traveler… I can pass on my gems of holiday wisdom learned through trial and mainly error.

I can highly recommend business class.

Talk about letting somebody else do all the worrying – picked up from our doorstep and returned back to our doorstep with our hands held pretty much every step of the way …can’t be bad.

The ‘Emirates’ lounge – again a real quality set up – complimentary food and drinks, and none of your cheap booze this was the top shelf stuff proper single malt whisky and champagnes from the best suppliers.

So definitely worth the extra expense to experience how nice travel can be.

The first ‘error’ on our little break came with booking only half board in our first ten night Maldivian Island. Warning signs were noted that the Nespresso capsules that I had been guzzling down with gay abandon were actually an ‘extra’ at $5 dollars a pop.

Note a dollar equates to roughly a quid. So 5 quid for a coffee pod then.

Then you begin to notice that everything has a price tag on it, water, bread, nuts ….in fact …anything that you touched. Beer was 25 dollars for a pint. As a guide to see how pricey a place is I always use a champagne that Mrs Clough likes to have as a treat. UK prices range from £85 out in the countryside to £130 at posh hotels in central Manchester.

Maldives price £1290.00 – no you haven’t read that wrong – one THOUSAND TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY POUNDS…

So I was a little tense around the poolside bar and had to shout loudly at the wife – ‘step away from that drink menu…’

The second place we stayed at was all inclusive. Much, much more relaxing, again there are games being played with cheap wines being included and anything ‘fancy’ being an ‘extra’. But overall a better experience and one that left my wallet feeling much happier.

I think I did do the old ‘switch off thing’ – but there were moments which made me uncomfortable.

I do consider myself ‘environmentally aware’ so some of the activities based around watching whale sharks or following turtles left me a little cold. These creatures are endangered and finding it increasingly difficult to live in our modern world. Do we really think it helps to have thirty or so boats full of snorkel wearing tourists descend on them every time they appear?

What if Whale Sharks only have one moment a year to reproduce and this happens to be when all the snorkeling idiots arrive to take pictures. What if Mr Whale shark gets performance anxiety and simply can’t do what he needs to do in front of a crowd and this year’s crop of baby whale sharks just doesn’t get produced.

Manta rays and sand rays were to be seen nearly every day – we were told that the Hotel was built on their migration route. Errr why ?? If you knew it was their migratory route – why not build somewhere else?

When a turtle or a dolphin was spotted – again the crowds descended.

I’m just not comfy with this.

I know you’re all thinking – ‘well you’re part of the problem’ – and yes to a certain extent I agree – but couldn’t we have some way of viewing these creatures that was less invasive? Couldn’t we watch from a distance and just keep well away??

I’ve come away thinking holidays are good but at what cost…?

The world just keeps getting busier and busier and places like the Maldives will struggle to keep their identity whilst catering for the potential huge numbers of tourists that want to visit. The Maldivian people depend on tourism so will encourage development – but if development continues at its current pace, the Maldives won’t be able to sustain the coral and sea life that people want to see.

Big trouble ahead methinks.

Maybe I should just stick with North Wales.

Mike C

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Holiday’s May 2, 2018

This will come as a great shock to many of you…but …I have actually booked a holiday. Not only have I booked a holiday …but ….I have booked for three weeks.

Three bloody weeks.

I have never had three weeks holiday in my life …ever…yet here I am …going in April …and …I don’t get back till May.

To top that I’ve even paid for it before the bill was due. So none of that booking bravado then shitting yourself when the balance comes due. This is so alien to me that I’m even looking for things to panic about and finding myself coming up short.

The weird thing about all this is that I’ve even begun to see why people like booking holidays. There’s the whole looking at the brochures thing – then there’s the thinking about all the places you could go – then there’s the actual planning stage.

But the real shocker to me (even though it’s obvious) … there’s the whole …looking forward to it …thing. I’ve found myself mentally wandering off to my holiday destination and imagining myself chilling out and getting a tan.

It gives you a focus and an aim – and it also allows you to ignore all the shite that’s going on in the world because you can think – I’m going away soon so it doesn’t matter.

So you’re all dying to know where I’m going – well my wife and I just hit our thirty year anniversary so we’ve pushed the boat out. We’re doing 9 days on one island in the Maldives then going for another ten days on a smaller island in one of those hotel rooms on stilts out in the sea ….

I was actually joking when I asked the tour operator – can I have one of those rooms out in the ocean please? – so was a bit taken a back when she said yes.

I’ve even managed to get my wife to promise to come deep sea fishing with me. This has been on my ‘bucket list’ for years… probably from watching too many Bond movies as a child. I have this image of me landing a huge tropical fish whilst Mrs C watches from the front of the boat in her bikini whilst drinking a martini …clapping her one hand against the side of the glass and looking at me over the top of her sunglasses….(nb my dreams are particularly detailed)…

So ….

No more cash flow for a few weeks.

No more targets.

No more planning meetings.

No more marketing.

No more blogs.

In fact …haven’t got a clue what I will do with myself …but I feel I will cope.

Mike C