September, Now It’s Gone

The falling temperature in my home has told me that September is gone – as if I hadn’t already realised. That must mean that it is time for my now regular (well, third) monthly round up of last month’s posts. I live in hope that you may find one – or some – that you missed first time round and can’t wait to acquaint yourself with. As for hoping that you might be encouraged to revisit a post you’ve already seen – too much? Let’s be realistic here – but I won’t stop you!

I began September with my trawl through the verbiage from the previous month – all with clickable links in case you’re desperately seeking something for your insomnia:

August And Everything, After

I had two attempts at posting that as WordPress, in its infinite wisdom, decided that I had posted it sixteen hours earlier than I actually did, which had the effect of moving it into oblivion on their Reader page. A small tip here: if you don’t already follow your own blog, you should, as it enables you to check that all is working as intended with email notifications and the Reader. In case you didn’t get the reference, the title for that post was ‘adapted’ from the first album by the Counting Crows: the comma, of which I was extremely proud, was all my own work.

As there were five Tuesdays in September there were, as if by magic, five Tuesday Tunes posts. I began with:

Tuesday Tunes 24: Strength

which featured music by Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Shawn Colvin and Tom Petty.

Next up was:

Tuesday Tunes 25: New Music – Part 1

in which there were Cat Stevens/Yusuf, Kate Rusby, Carolina Story, Caroline Jones and Molly Tuttle.

Then came:

Tuesday Tunes 26: New Music – Part 2

In that one, we heard from The Chicks, Walk Off The Earth (three versions!), Molly Tuttle (again!), Old Crow Medicine Show and Bruce Springsteen (also again – sometimes it’s hard to keep my favourites out!).

I followed that by going back – for just one week – to a theme drawn from the previous week’s news:

Tuesday Tunes 27: Six

which included music from the Tom Robinson Band, Ry Cooder, The Wallflowers, Steve Earle and the Rolling Stones.

My final Tuesday Tunes post for September started off what I plan as a mini-series, going back to the tunes of my younger years. This will comprise songs from the 60s and 70s – the first was imaginatively called:

Tuesday Tunes 28: The Sixties – Part 1

and featured songs from The Love Affair, The Herd, The Kinks, The Beatles and Traffic. As I said in that post, this was an all-British selection, but future posts will include music from across the pond – looking ahead to my list of future possibles, there is a very strong American contingent in there! The more observant of you may have noticed that I’ve reminded you of the music shared in each of those posts. This was a suggestion made on last month’s review, and it struck me as a good idea. Thank you, Jim – now you have no excuse not to revisit some of these!

There was also a musical theme for my tribute to those lost and bereaved on 9/11/2001:

Remembering 9/11 

The centrepiece of that post is a stunningly beautiful song by Mary Chapin Carpenter, whose music always speaks to and from the heart. The song was prompted by a broadcast MCC heard of an interview with a first responder, and I defy anyone to watch the video and listen to it without a tear in the eye.

You may also have seen a couple of health-related posts:

 Migraine Awareness Week

and

Mental Health Still Matters.

Both of these are important topics for me: the posts were reworkings of things I have written in previous years, as I feel strongly that their points remain valid and merit re-emphasising.

My birthday fell (from a great height) during the month, and I ran a couple of posts to ‘celebrate.’ The first of these was:

A Year In History

which was a newly edited version of a piece I originally posted in 2013 to mark my 60th birthday, with a collection of events and videos from the year of my birth. As the title suggests, it was a year with a fair bit of history in it!

The other birthday post was:

Birthday Celebrations

in which I edited a previous post about the grand day out my daughters gave me to mark my 60th and added in a new piece about this year’s event, in the year of Covid. It was different, but was still a lot of fun!

To save you counting, that made a total of eleven posts in September – an almost unheard of total for me! Hopefully there was something in there for you to enjoy.

I can’t close this review without a thank you. It goes to all of you who have read, liked, and commented on my posts. This has been my most successful year in terms of all three of those measures since 2015: last year was the best of the past four, and this year I had overtaken all of those numbers by 20 September. The icing on the cake was that September gave me my highest monthly total of page views since 2015, way in excess of most months since then! A heartfelt thank you – without you, I’d be sending this stuff into a vacuum. I thoroughly enjoy our interactions: long may that continue.

One final point. I mentioned earlier that I had adapted an album title for last month’s round up post – this month’s title is also borrowed and adapted. Brownie points for anyone who can tell me where it came from. No prizes, though, just the satisfaction of knowing that you have found your way into the weird recesses of my mind.

Till next time…

Birthday Celebrations

I ran my most recent piece last Wednesday, to mark my birthday. In it,  I referenced a previous post which described the grand day out my two lovely daughters gave me to celebrate my 60th birthday. I thought it might be good to share again an edited version of that piece, as it was a lovely day and I doubt many of you will have seen it before. I’ve also updated it to this year.

I first posted the piece on my birthday in 2016. On that day I awoke – or more precisely, was awoken by,  a thunderstorm and torrential rain – to the thought that I was then 63. I’d never been that old before! But we are told that ‘age is just a number’ so who’s counting? Just as well, really, as I’ve now added another four to the score! Seven years ago I retired from a lifetime of work, on my 60th birthday, and to celebrate that milestone my two wonderful daughters arranged a special day out for me in London. I had commuted into the capital to work for more than 35 years, and this marked the beginning of my re-acquaintance with London as a place to enjoy, rather than somewhere I was happy to escape from on a daily basis. During a comments ‘chat’ with a fellow blogger a few weeks prior to the original I realised that I had never written about that day out. I would have laid odds that I had, but when I checked I found several photographs in my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but no blog posts. I decided that I would write something about it, and as it is one of my favourite posts I thought I’d give it another airing.

Due to their work commitments the girls arranged the day out for the weekend, Saturday 14th to be precise. This had the bonus of there being lighter usage of public transport than on a weekday, which made it easier to get into London and get around while we were there. They knew that I had a longstanding desire to take a ride – or ‘flight’, as it is officially known – on the London Eye, so to be honest I wasn’t surprised to be taken to the Southbank Centre, adjacent to the Eye. And yes, that was where my grand day out was beginning, with a flight in one of these:

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img_2696And in case you haven’t seen it before, that pod is part of a much bigger structure (see left). I don’t have a head for heights, but didn’t at any time have a problem. The Eye moves very slowly, and the only real sense of movement that you have is the changing scenery around you, as the ground disappears further into the distance!

London has centuries of history and many famous landmarks, most of which are visible from the Eye. Here as an example is the Shard, one of the more modern buildings:

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And this is Elizabeth Tower, previously known as St Stephen’s Tower, until it was renamed in 2012 to mark QE2’s Diamond Jubilee:img_2691

Before anyone corrects me, Big Ben is the name by which the clock goes, not the tower itself. A common misconception, which the pedant in me (I am, after all, a Virgo) takes delight in correcting! The ‘guide book’ to your flight is an iPad, suitably encased in a stand to prevent theft, which is programmed to show you where all the landmarks are as the flight progresses. I thought that was a nice touch. After the flight we also took in the exhibition attached to the Eye, which by total coincidence led us into the gift shop…

Having had a wonderful time, we then went into a nearby bar for a light lunch, before the next part of my treat. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any more but shortly afterwards we were climbing onto one of these:

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Spot the operative word: ‘amphibious.’ Believe it or not, this little bus worked both on land and water. Apparently they were originally designed and built in the Second World War for troop movements, and the actual bus that we travelled in was 70 years old. After a trip around some of the landmarks by road, with a knowledgeable guide covering quite a lot of London’s history, we were driven to the side of the headquarters of MI6 – appropriate, I thought, for an air  of mystery – and down a ramp. Moments later, we were in the Thames:

We've fallen in the water!
We’ve fallen in the water!

We then went for a ‘boat trip’ along part of the Thames, which was quite an experience. To prove it, here’s a shot of the Parliament buildings – the Palace of Westminster – as seen from the river. As it was a weekend nothing was happening inside, but I’m reliably informed that on a working day you can see the hot air rising from here:

We all bowed in reverence, of course :-)
We all bowed in reverence, of course 🙂

Until that day I’d not been aware of this service, and it really was an unusual experience, which I felt very lucky to have enjoyed. Doubly so a few weeks later when one of the vehicles caught fire while on the river, causing a suspension of the rides until thorough safety checks had been undertaken on the entire fleet! There but for the Grace of God…

After all of that excitement, we ended the day in a lovely restaurant tucked out of the way in Camden, where to my further surprise I was treated after our meal to a cake, and a candlelit rendition of Happy Birthday To You from staff and customers. Truly, a lovely day and a perfect celebration I’ll always remember, made special for me by these two beautiful young women:

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Seven years on from that milestone we are, as you may have noticed, in strange times. Celebrations like this, or some of the others the girls have arranged for me, were definitely out this year, even if my health would have allowed it. Their work commitments – and busy lives in general – also militate against it, but we still found time for a partial get together. Yesterday my elder daughter came for a socially distanced visit, along with a little person who wasn’t around when I retired. Presents were given, and we had a lovely time. This is my favourite present:

And this was my favourite birthday card:

 

Both presented by our family’s little star:

You can see from that how we managed it: guests in the garden area outside my flat, while I took a chair out onto the balcony. Strange times indeed, but at least we still have ways to keep in touch – until the next lockdown, that is. Thinking back to seven years ago and to yesterday, I realise what is important in our lives. Without the love of our family, what do we have? I know I’m much luckier than some, and I’m grateful for it every day, even when we’re apart. Every time I drink from that mug I will treasure my thoughts of my granddaughter and my daughters – that’s a nice warm feeling to have, isn’t it?