Where was I? Oh yes, having a clear-out crisis…

That’s where I left it last time. Friends and family to the rescue, going through my stuff, my life, making me choose whether to keep this or throw that or send to charity. 

Bags and bags of clothes went off to the hospice shop, boxes of stuff were piled into people carriers and carted off to the tip – I know the local tips very well now I can assure you. You can’t just chuck stuff away any more. Every box needs to disgorge its contents into different recycling points dotted along, car batteries here, timber there, gas bottles somewhere else, shoes, metal, lap tops, toasters, they all have to be sorted into the right places. 

Into the loft we went, discovering yet more ex-‘s boxes of precious and less precious belongings, all forgotten and left behind for me. Along with more of my own ‘stuff’. Lofts are easy places to lose stuff you can’t quite let go of aren’t they! And garages. Oh dear lord how much crap have I got in the garage?! A LOT! God it was hard going through all this stuff. And still there’s too much left to go through. “How many bikes do you need?”  I’ve been asked many times lately since I have ‘a few’. “Well…. They’re my hobby, I built them all up from components when I wasn’t busy, they helped keep me sane*…” Said I. 

*’Sane’is a little over-stated. I certainly haven’t remained sane, but who knows how much worse I’d have been without my bikes to ride and care for. 

And then there’s the climbing wall in the cabin. Yep, a proper, custom-made, commercial grade ‘bouldering cave’ that my ex- had spotted for sale 300 miles away, which I duly collected and rebuilt in the cabin that was supposed to be my bike workshop, which then became the garage, leaving the cherished 1973 VW camper van out in the cold. The climbing wall would have to go, after dismantling it of course, no easy task being made of a bolted framework of 2″ box steel and plywood 4m x 3m x 2.4m. (That’s it in the photo).

We had a lot of stuff. I still had most of it. 

And then there’s the two spare sets of wheels with Autumn and Winter tyres. Etc etc etc… 

A whole lotta stuff! So we sifted and shifted and sorted and tidied and dumped and so on. And then something happened. Just when I was making real progress (between falling apart regularly into tearful meltdowns), just when help was coming from all angles which I was so grateful and ashamed of needing, things suddenly became a little complicated. Carelessly lifting one of those spare wheels and tyres I slipped a bloody disc in my back. 

Bugger!

At least I’ve got plenty of books to read. Did I tell you about the books..?

Well, here I am three weeks later and I’m glad to say that much couch-lounging, a couple of thousand pages of book reading and some gentle pottering have led to a rapid recovery, much faster than the six to eight weeks that I’d been told. 

Now the worst has passed I’m feeling guilty about my enforced rest where nearly all activity had ceased, and I’ve now got to regain the momentum that I’d battled to muster previously, with much help from aforementioned friends and family. Reading was a great diversion from worry, but then it became escapism and avoidance, and, while I must refrain from heavy lifting, there’s no reason not to return to the mammoth task at hand, to prepare my extrication from this stronghold of emotional and social isolation. For all the peace and quiet this place offers, a great retreat from the daily bustle of life, it’s sufficiently tucked away in a small village that it’s very easy to feel one has dropped out of society when one doesn’t have work to add perspective. Yet I still don’t want to leave! But, sooner or later, leave I must. Financially it just isn’t sustainable with things as they currently stand. 

Hey There…

….Loyal followers, sorry I’ve been absent for so long, there’s been so much going in my life – and not much of it good – that I’ve been somewhat neglectful of my blog. I’ve managed a few photos on my Instagram feed only because they don’t require me to spill my innermost – or even outermost – thoughts, mainly because I don’t want to seem like the most miserable person on the planet. But maybe spilling is a good thing to do, since I’m already overflowing at the slightest provocation already. Will it help? I don’t know. Should I do it? Don’t know that either, I’m always worrying about that. What if someone I don’t want to read it finds it? Like a prospective employer for instance? That’s unlikely at the moment as I seem equally unlikely to find and get a job. 

So what’s been going on? Well, after my redundancy last year I took some time out from work (a little too much time I fear) as I had a decent settlement and lots to sort out. I remortgaged my house, then changed borrower to remove my ex-wife to release her as part of the divorce process. Oh yes, and I finally got my divorce decree absolute, at last. Yippee. 

All sounds good so far, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!

So, earlier this year I started looking for another job. Since I needed a decent salary to cover my mortgage and so on I aimed at similar work to what I was doing last, as it’s something I know how to do and it pays reasonably well. So I start looking for positions outside London, as I really can’t handle the commute of 90 minutes each way, and because London is what stole my dad from so much of my childhood and drew my wife away. Over the months I’ve kept applying for the few rather specialised vacancies that have appeared outside our great city and closer to home, with no success. I’ve widened my search and lowered my salary requirement to cover more opportunities but still had no luck. 

All this time – and it really flew past – my savings have been slowly dwindling away. I’ve had some cash coming in here and there but overall the income/outgoing deficit drops my savings considerably every month. And now I’m at the point where I’ve only got at best a few month’s mortgage left in the kitty. Shit. Like SHIT shit. 

So now I have to face my worst possible scenario. Moving. Selling up and moving my horrendously cluttered life somewhere else. That’s not ALL bad since my house was our house and it’s been holding me captive for the last few years – where did they go! – but it is still my worst case scenario even so. I’m not one to uproot and move easily. I have TONS of stuff. 

And it’s the panic I now feel, having reached this point of no return. The sheer and utter sense of being completely overwhelmed by the massive task of clearing clutter and preparing to move that has me firmly in its grip. I’m paralysed by it. My mind can’t focus on anything because it runs around every corner of the house assessing all the accumulated piles of junk and stuff I’ll have to go through in a short space of time, and it can’t cope with it, it stays in a perpetual state of panic whatever I try and concentrate on. It’s a bit like having so many applications open on a computer that it slows right down and hangs for ages on any additional task I try and run. That’s easy to fix right? Just close a few applications and it’ll have enough free processing power to get on with the remaining open tasks. But the applications just pop up and try to start running again as soon as I close them. 

I got to a point where I’d had a particularly bad day when it all hit me at once. The woman at the job centre telling me I wasn’t applying for enough jobs (“look!, all these jobs! Why haven’t you applied for them?” She said, while I freeze in the headlights and have nothing to respond with) followed by driving into a car park with a bike on the roof and not noticing the 2m height bar across the entrance. Crunch. 

That’s what really started it, the panic. The realisation that I wasn’t about to get a job and the money was ebbing away rapidly. An old friend phoned up shortly after and offered me help. I couldn’t refuse, I had completely broken down and let this kind person into my house to help me, along with another friend and two family members. God that was hard. Into my bedroom they went, the first outsiders in four years. “Do you wear this? Do you need those? Can these go to charity?” They asked as they pulled apart my mess and put it back in order, throwing half of it out in the process. 

And then there’s all the years of accumulated and long forgotten but just resurfaced paperwork. Bills, bank statements, letters, etc. Not just mine, all my ex-wife’s too, from previous addresses as well. I’ve spent hours and hours sorting, tearing up and burning. With the help of my ever patient family too. Good god how did I let things get so bad?

And so this is what I must get on with over the coming weeks. Clearing out crap so what’s left is what I’ll be keeping, either taking with me or storing somewhere or other. And keeping up the job search too. If I can manage to stay out of the loony bin. 

Wish me luck!

Windswept

  
Took a trip to the coast yesterday. A clear, sunny day but with a cold wind. 

This tree amongst others caught my eye. Kind of looks like a windswept woman looking out to sea. 

 I took a few photos with my camera but this one, taken and edited on my iPhone, was my favourite. It sort of resonates somehow. 

B&W edit #2


The wind on Beachy Head, at the top of several hundred feet high chalk cliffs on the south coast of England where the South Downs meet the sea, blows in mostly one direction off the sea, so trees along the south coast, high up where the wind constantly hits them, trains them to grow in one direction. 


There’s no point fighting overwhelming forces!

 

Colour version no edit.


 
It’s a place that makes you feel alive, but also one where many individuals choose to end theirs, as attested to by many little crosses along the cliff edge and chaplain service that patrols the area looking for lost souls. 

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That lighthouse is a long way down. 

Some days are great days

Life isn’t all doom and gloom.  

While we’re in a winter here where  bright, cold, crisp winter days have been in short supply until just recently, with mostly miserable weather, this last week we’ve had a few sunny days and that often brings a change of mood. 

Today  was a very fine day. One of those days that I yearn for in winter, and all the better spent working outdoors with a best friend doing stuff I love doing. 

Being ‘blessed with some free time’ at present I help him out every now and then looking after the gardens here:
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I didn’t crop myself out of that shot so you get an idea of the size of the place. That’s just a bit of it. Looking out in the opposite direction it enjoys a great view across open countryside, covered in heavy frost this morning:

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I didn’t have a lot of time for photos so unfortunately missed the opportunity to capture the beautiful frosted flora but I did snap this as it caught my eye in passing it:

 
Witch hazel blossom also in the gardens (last week).  

The ground was frozen solid since it was still below freezing when we started, so boots crunching on frozen paths and clumping on solid grass were a welcome break from the usual squelching on saturated ground. 

Everything glittered with frost, while across the fields a haze of mist rose as sunlight started to warm it’s way wherever it fell. The pond was frozen over and moorhens scooted about around the edges keeping their feet from the freezing water around the bull rushes. 

This made it a great day for the sort of gardening work that all blokes enjoy. Tree surgery. 

Using noisy and dangerous weapons of destruction in a useful way, cutting out unhealthy branches and trimming back overgrown areas, is fun. Luckily he knows what he’s doing with a chainsaw, and I’m there to watch out for hazards and clear up all the debris, and while I wont wield a chainsaw I’m happy hacking up the thin stuff with a bill hook and lobbing logs about. It’s all very satisfying, being constructively destructive and very physical, and with such great weather in these surroundings we had the sort of day that helps get one through the darker days of winter. 

Clearing away brush and overgrown laurels brought out Robins to investigate the new space in the undergrowth, little bothered by our presence and keen to find any grubs exposed in the freshly cut wood. 

A flask of tea is a necessity for me on any outdoor day, and while warming, it wasn’t until we stopped working that we felt the cold much at all, even in the shade. 

And just for my friend Derrick I’ll add that we nipped out for lunch at the local Italian street cafe for some freshly made chicken carbonara, absolutely delicious. 

Finishing off the day with a little bonfire and some laughs we left with a day’s work in our limbs and sunshine in our minds. 

So if the chipper gets repaired we’ll be back next week to finish the clearing up. Hope it’s sunny again!