Be Yourself, Be Positive.

Be true to yourself.

With a half full glass.

Never get worried if you ain’t got enough brass.

Write it down and say it loud.

Always remember you’re uniquely individual, be proud.

Never become just one of the crowd.

Challenge yourself every day however small.

So tomorrow you can hold your head up and walk tall.

Blank page……….


Yeah, yeah, been there done that. The proverbial blank page alluding to a lack of creativity. It sits there waiting for art or media to strike or pen to make its mark. The blank pixels on your computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone screen are more corrosive than the void of a black hole.

The more we try the less action occurs. Creativity not just takes a back seat; it fell out at the last services stop. But how do we go back and collect it. Will it still be there residing in a cheap room in the motel? Or will it be the victim of roadkill, devoured by magpies and crows.

So how do I start to populate the blank expanse? What seeds do I plant and how long will it take for them to germinate? Or did I inadvertently spray weed killer prior to planting the seeds of consciousness?

Maybe I need to step backwards and retreat from the creative battlefield. Regroup and go back to barracks to formulate a new strategy. Rethink my plan of attack, rather than stare into the abyss of that insipid blank sheet of paper or screen.

It’s a chicken and egg moment in an abstract way. The blank page is there to hatch the egg, only if the creative and inspirational chicken is present.

Blank is good. Clean, pure and uncluttered. It’s like a field covered in freshly fallen snow with not even a blade of grass puncturing the surface. It’s tranquil and calm. It covers up blemishes making a uniform clean landscape. There may not be any colour, yet we rejoice in its beauty. An icy cold environment that warms our heart.


If you have an essay, technical document or deadline for a piece of art or novel, then the blank canvas, paper or word document is almost unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be that way, we’ll not all the time. It’s like those occasions where you can’t remember the answer to a question, a song title or actors name in a film. So, you switch off and go and do something else or even go to bed. It’s only later when out of the blue the answer arrives. Unfortunately, it’s usually too late to add it to the conversation or exam paper.

The same method can achieved when trying to spark your imagination or creativity. Do something else, go make and eat a lemon curd and cheese sandwich. Walk the dog, wash the car or do some housework, anything to distract your mind. (Students do this all the time, sometimes excessively winding the clock down to give insufficient time to physically write the paper, but that’s another story). If you have the time and space to do this method, it works, well it works for me. However, I need access to a notebook or the Notes app on my phone to jot the idea down. It reminds me of the jotter book I, and everyone in my class had at school. It might have been full of doodles and scribble, but there were also those little nuggets of inspiration.

Like a blank expression or a poker face, a blank page just hides the creativity that’s about to transform it.


It has hidden depths and open to new meaning, knowledge and art waiting to be discovered. Like a ghost, ghoul or scary monster being frightening until you turn it around and on its head for Halloween or a Halloween party, a blank page is something not to be scared of. Find your method and enjoy.


Custard and crème anglaise:

I love custard.

Custard is something described as being a bland yet sweet sauce for desserts. Being subtle in flavour to compliment the dessert rather than overpowering it.

Having said that I still love custard or as the French call it crème anglaise, which translates to English Cream.

I even have fond memories of school custard. I know, usually anything to do with school meals is derided at. Consistent it wasn’t. One day it could be runny and another it could be thick and chunky. I even remember the large aluminium serving jugs lined up waiting to be decanted on the suspecting Childs pudding.

If a new just was about to come on stream. Not that it was always easy for the dinner ladies to pour. (sorry about using the term ladies, but back when I was at school the kitchens and servers were all women). I can vividly remember a pallet knife being used on a new jug to sever the meniscus skin of the custard around the perimeter from the inner wall of the jug. I used to relish watching this process hopefully just before I was served with the fresh contents. I also hoped that it would be the thick variety that kept the skin in tacked. If so the skin would detach and pouring directly onto my eagerly awaiting pudding.

Some of you will almost be gripping in revulsion of this description. Why would anyone be excited at the custard skin lying on the surface of your hot pudding. Yeah I know weird; but to me it was a delight.

In some ways the pudding was secondary. Although I do remember with fondness the plum crumble as a particular favourite of mine back then. Rhubarb pie or crumble from the Yorkshire Rhubarb triangle are another delightful vessel for custard.

There was also the occasional cold set custard with chunks of banana in individual dishes. Oh and another favourite of mine cold set chocolate custard with tinned pears and a dollop of fresh cream as a garnish.

Custard is so versatile whether made with eggs or with custard powder. Custard powder was invented by Alfred Bird in his chemist shop in Birmingham in 1837. He invented it because his wife like puddings but was allergic to eggs. Many think it was invented during WW1 or 2 when eggs were rationed and kept to feed the troops.

It shouldn’t be confused with blancmange, which is usually a set cold pudding with a similar texture to cold set custard (powdered variety). The original blancmange or blancmengier dates back over 800 years to France. It translates to “white eating”, as it was a white set pudding. Early versions also included shredded poultry.

Custard is not just the hot pouring type. You may also be familiar with the custard tart. Basically a shortcrust pastry case filled with custard made with eggs and cooked until set. A sprinkling of nutmeg finishing this delightful tart. A Portuguese version can also be found in supermarkets usually with a flaky pastry case, sweeter custard and no nutmeg.

But it’s not always confined to being a sweet tart. Quiches are also essentially an unsweetened custard in a pastry case with added savoury Ingredients. These can range from salmon, vegetables such as broccoli and meats such as sausages and bacon. In fact pretty much anything can be added.

Another delightful custard treat is a Manchester tart. It comprises a sweet pastry case with jam at the bottom and custard on top, then finished with a sprinkling of desiccated coconut.

An off the wall option is warm custard drizzled (well I really mean a drench), over a Yorkshire putting as a dessert. Try it. It also goes down really well with jam, treacle or fruit on the Yorkshire pudding prior to pouring over the custard.

One new discovery I recently made was at the world showcase at Disney World EPCOT. The Norwegian pavilion was showcasing their School bread as part of the food and wine festival. The “Skolebrød” as it’s called in Norway is a sweet bread with a vanilla custard filling with a glazed finish dusted with toasted coconut and topped with a vanilla frosting. 

It’s name comes from the fact that it’s taken to school in packed lunches in Norway, or so I’m told. It’s a delight as the centre is packed with custard, the bread there as a container rather than it being the centre stage.

The more I think about custard the more items come into my head. Even the simple custard cream biscuits, custard doughnuts and the classic fruit trifle with the obligatory layer of custard need a mention. Yeah, I loved it.

It gets even more interesting if you look at culinarily delights that might not be classed as classic custard, but in my opinion are relations. Let’s begin with crème caramel; essential a set custard over a caramel base that becomes the top when turned out onto a plate.

Then there’s the classic Crème brûlée, similar to crème caramel but with a hard layer caramelised sugar on the top.

Then there’s the classic vanilla custard. Oh, I could keep on going, but you should get the gist my now.

I love custard.

Word vomit:

Once in a while my mind just starts putting little ideas and sentences together. It happens when I least expect it. Note pad or notes app on my phone get opened to accept these thoughts. On this occasion the word “pathologist” from something I was watching on TV was the catalyst.
So, let me share my mind with you with my word vomit.

Sometimes I have periods of word vomit…….

I wanted to be a pathologist but ended up flagging.

I wanted to be a cardiologist but ended up buying a jumper.

She said she remembered me from archaeology lessons, but I didn’t Noah.

He said I was a philanthropist, but I had only had one beer.

The Rhinoceros said he couldn’t grow a horn, I think he’s telling stories he just a hypocrite.

The criminal gave me some hard evidence, it was definitely concrete.

In our argument she kept going over old ground, up hill and down dale, she was just rambling.

Then it just stops, like I’ve pulled the plug, leaving me drained.

My thoughts are sat on a comfy Sofa #6

Curtesy of Pixabay

For my thoughts to be productive, profound and distinctive, I have provided a relaxing comfy sofa in my mind for my thoughts to sit and contemplate.

If I had an octopus garden I think I’d like to see rainbow seahorses and blackberry jelly fish having a party. I wouldn’t invite squids as I’ve seen Squid Game on Netflix.

Sorry, have you lost it?

No one gave me anything to lose, so I can’t have lost it. But if I have lost it, but I do t know what it is I’ve lost then was it worth keeping?

Why are you rambling on about an octopus garden?

Rambling would equate to walking in the countryside. But I’m not walking in the countryside and octopuses can’t walk. Or are you talking metaphorically?

I’ll simplify my question. Why are you thinking about an octopus garden? Have you been listening to, or thinking about a Beatles song by any chance?

My octopus garden is different. Mine contains micro-plastics, hormones from field water runoff and possibly micro particles of human excrement. Lists of chemical traces from human manufacturing processors and general human behaviour. Or it would be if it was a real octopuses garden. I suppose because it’s a fictitious garden my creatures might have legs and therefor the ability to ramble. Or maybe even the ability to talk.

It’s me that’s lost it!

I wouldn’t go that far. Because we are interlinked. If you’ve lost it then so have I.

You do know I’m in a meeting trying to concentrate and add to the debate? It’s an important subject matter.

Oh, so what’s more important than my imaginary garden?

Well it’s a discussion on industrial competency.

Are you competent at discussing such a topic?

I believe I am.

So who has checked to make sure your competent to talk about competency? And are the competent at being able to assess your level of competency? And have they ever been assessed in being competent enough to assess someone else to be competent?

There are lots of factors involved. It’s not as simple as you make it out to be.

But surely competency can only be assessed by someone who is already competent in that field. But who assessed them to check that they are competent? Are you going to assess me to see if I’m competent in annoying fish in my octopus garden? It’s like your trying to determine the history of making an omelette without answering the question; “which came first the chicken or the egg?”

Can you please let me concentrate?

But I’m here to be able to concentrate for you. What do you want me to think about?

I just need you to clear your mind so we can think about the questions being raised.

Have you seen the state of that delegate on the table near the podium? I’m sure they are asleep. Are they competent in being able to listen too the speakers? I can hear them snoring from here.

Maybe they have nodded of due to ripples in the pond where the octopus garden is?

Octopuses aren’t fresh water fish so they can’t be in a pond. It needs to be in sea water. Don’t you know anything? You’re obviously not competent in discussing aquatic life are you?

I need to concentrate on formulating a plan to provide assessment documents and training in assessing and reviewing competency and competency levels. So can you stop distracting me.

I think your bladder is telling you you need to urinate. You don’t want people to think you’re incontinent while your discussing incompetent people. To stop the urge just calculate how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. Or maybe look into finding out if Blackburn as always been in Lancashire.

What’s got into you today? Have you been listening to The Beatles?

I did wonder if your bed is infected by Longhorn beetles last night while you was asleep. I could almost smell the woody sap in their mandibles. It was almost a burnt smell. You would never have to worry about that in an octopuses garden. Which incidentally is under the sea. I’m quite competent when it comes to remember lyrics. I do t believe I would be competent in assessing someone else’s level of competence in their ability to remember lyrics. Thinking about it, for someone who occasionally listens to music I don’t have to be fully conversant or should I say fully competent in knowing all lyrics. If I’m a record executive or broadcaster or a recording artist where knowing the lyrics it’s imperative that you know the lyrics. So competency should be at a level that you need ranging from fully competent. Or should I say you are perfect in your knowledge and skills to know every single lyric, you know like god. At the other end of the spectrum someone who doesn’t know a single lyric could be said to be incompetent. At the same time, never tell anyone who doesn’t listen to music and therefore does not know and lyrics as being incompetent.

That’s is you’re a genius.

What, you’ve only just realised that.

I mean yes, on maybe no. Anyway that’s beside the point. Competency is dependent on your job or personal needs to be able to do the task required competently. You need to have a high level of competency in astrophysics to lecture or write a book on the subject like Professor Brian Cox, but you don’t need the same level of competency to be able to watch the Buzz Lightyear film.

And I thought you were heading for black hole with your understanding of competency.

My submarine only needs to be yellow in the correct song. My octopus garden is at the bottom of the sea. And we can have as many rainbow coloured seahorses and blackberry jelly fish as you like in your imagination. And I don’t have to be competent in assessing understanding someone’s competency. I just need to make sure that the right structure and levels are in place. Brilliant.

Remind me not to invite you to my squid game.

My thoughts are sat on a comfy Sofa #5

Copyright Pixabay

For my thoughts to be productive, profound and distinctive, I have provided a relaxing comfy sofa in my mind for my thoughts to sit and contemplate.

Well I need to think about what to buy for my evening meal. Thoughts what do you think?

“I’m glad you asked, as I need to keep myself alert and focused so eating junk is a no no”.

Surely it depends on what my taste buds fancy. Maybe a fully loaded meat feast pizza.

“Protein and saturated fat overload. Are you wanting me to doze off?”

It’s what I fancy at the moment, nothing wrong with a nice pizza every now and then.

“I agree, it’s nice to indulge every now and then. But does it have to be fully loaded? Does it have to be a full 10 inch pizza, all to yourself? Do you have to choose one that’s starch from the base, fatty dairy products and full of piles of processed meat”.

Yeah, nom. Your thoughts are making me salivate. Decision made then?


Why ever not? Don’t be a spoil sport. I need to let my hair down once in a while.

“All that fat will eventually ooze from the pores and your follicles soaking your hair making it greasy. That is if all that fat and cholesterol can find it’s way from coating the walls of your arteries, reducing the passage of blood. This in turn reduces the oxygen levels that can be distributed around your body and ultimately to your brain. Making your thoughts, that is me, less responsive”.

You’re getting that mixed up with feeling full, satisfied and content.

“No! You’re getting that feeling mixed up with risk of a potential heart attack, and prolonged health issues. Reducing your ability to run and do strenuous activities and even simple things like walking. You’re going to put on weight. You’ll be prone to other illnesses especially to your major organs. But, I suppose if your talking about one single meal, then you’ll potentially be okay, perhaps”.

But I like pizza.

“I know. I’m not saying don’t have pizza. I’m not stopping you having deep pan fully loaded meat feast. Just don’t keep stuffing in every last little bit. Eat less. Have half with a side salad. Or opt for a thinner base and select a combination of meat and vegetables. Less cheese is also a good option. You’ll still enjoy the pizza and so will your body. It’s something to think about and in turn will help me think about, we’ll everything. Like they say healthy body and healthy mind!”

Well, I suppose it’s something to consider. What if, I have the full pizza today and opt for a nice salad or vegetarian meal tomorrow. Then again I only indulge in a full sized pizza once a month anyway. You know me I like to have a well balanced diet.

“Okay, but make sure you do have a balanced diet. Otherwise if your gut gets too big, your balance will go and you’ll fall over”.

Comment noted. Let’s hope you are less responsive one I’ve eaten it. It might stop you nagging at me.


Late night BLOGGING

Copyright Pixabay

“Oh, you blog, do you?”

 Eyes glaze over, eye contact lost, and an immediate race to change the subject. At time’s it feel like your into clandestine activities that can only be performed secretly in the dead of night. It make me think it’s at the dirty end of the literary spectrum. 

         Vlogging is seen as super cool, inspirational and aspirational. It can catapult and individual to stardom. Many have millions of followers and become household names and even end up on the BBC’s “Strictly come dancing”. 

        Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can expedite a mass following and help relaunch faded celebrities and enhance and develop others. It can be a platform to express ones opinions and views and a selling tool for books, concerts and merchandise. There’s is an insatiable desire to transport yourself into the virtual stratosphere of social media. A media that we all dabble in, young and old, famous or obscure, rich or poor. It’s one of modern life’s great levellers. Warts and all unfortunately.

        So what about blogging. Even this one for example. Is it an, “we’ve moved on from blogging”, or “that’s twee”. 

         For me, I believe that blogging it’s a more considered medium rather that a “of the moment”, rapid response with limited shelf life. It’s an essay a poem or short story transmitted into the ether perpetuating itself so it can be read wherever and whenever. It can still express an opinion, be a rant and of the moment but with a longer shelf life. An example of this is a blog I wrote in 2018 celebrating the 213th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen. A very short blog with an excerpt from one of his poems. I’ve just check my blog statistics and so far in 2021 it’s recorded 4 times more readers than the year I published it. 

      “But why blog?”

       Now that’s a loaded question, simple but loaded. For me I have a technically demanding job, so writing is escapism a creative outlet. That doesn’t explain blogging though.

       Writing can be a very insular and private experience. It can catapult your mind into a whole new world, your own bubble, as it were. It’s probably why so many people engage in writing to combat mental health. I even contributed to a book in support of mental health charities where many of the contributors wrote for similar reasons. 

       It can be a very spiritual and relaxing pastime. It may not alway generate quality literary pieces but it can still convey the writers thoughts, experiences and creative imagination.     

       So why move from word/text document stored on your device or written on paper to being published on your very own blog? It seems strange when the process of writing can be very personal and private. A whole range of reasons encourages the author down this route. Blogs can be started from a desire to get recognition for what you’ve written or to be able to judge and analyse your work from comments generated. Self adulation and the desire to become a well known blogger can also be a driving force. It can be a route and platform to showcase your work if your trying to get poetry or a novel published. On the other hand blogs are also a way of expressing your views and opinions, rants and reviewing music, books or the arts. 

       For me it’s almost a creative pressure valve. I’m not a prolific writer with a strict daily routine pumping out daily or even weekly posts. It’s much more sporadic than that for me. I can produce a lot of work in a short period of time and then nothing for weeks or even months. But when I do have my creative splurge I need to post at least one piece. It sometimes makes me wonder why I’m writing if no one actually reads it. So posting selective work adds the “reason why”.

       On the other side of the coin reading blogs can be informative and educational, but most of all, well in my case, inspirational and a unique way to get to know what other writers and like minded people are producing. 

      So if you spend time streaming tv and films or watch YouTube or Facebook videos, just take a break and read some blogs and maybe just maybe you’ll find the desire to wake up your own creativity.

Copyright Pixabay


My thoughts are sat on a comfy Sofa #4

For my thoughts to be productive, profound and distinctive I have provided a relaxing comfy sofa in my mind for my thoughts to sit and contemplate.

Well thoughts, what are you thinking with regards covid vaccine and the pressure put on people who have not been vaccinated?

“It is what it is”.

Come on, it’s one of the biggest stories affecting millions throughout the world. Do you agree with demanding that everyone should get vaccinated?


Sorry, what’s that supposed to mean?

“Well it’s simple really. It’s all about assessing the risks and taking the necessary precautions to mitigate and reduce the likelihood of getting Covid”.

Okay, now get down off the fence and give me your thoughts and opinions on the subject.

“I’m sat on a comfy sofa. I can’t even see a fence”.

Funny ha ha. In the words of Kenneth Williams, “ stop messing about”.

“Well, from where I’m sat, like I said it’s about risk. For example if you drive a car you could die in a crash. To reduce the risk you wear a seatbelt. You also make sure you have got good eyesight and that your vehicles windows and mirrors are clear and there is no obstruction to seeing what is around you. You then drive with care taking into account the road conditions, signs and speed limits and the behaviour of other drivers. You have then reduced your risk based on your own behaviour and driving skills. Obviously there are still risks outside your control. So to assist in mitigating these risks, although it doesn’t remove them, you take out insurance. Covid is more or less the same, you look at the risks and take the appropriate action that suits you”.

Okay, so is the vaccine a seatbelt or insurance cover?

“If it becomes a legal requirement then I suppose it would be like a seatbelt. But it’s not like insurance. Insurance is like the NHS, you know, doctors, nurses and health professionals trying to get you well again. No, the vaccine is more like the keeping your car in good working order; making sure your eyesight is good and making sure you observe the Highway Code and other road users. And applying of breaks when there is danger ahead”.

What about those who don’t want the vaccine?

“Everyone has to evaluate the risks. I suppose it’s like you not driving your car on a regular basis, so why would you need to service it and pay for expensive insurance. Or I don’t drive a car so why do I need to bother?”

“We may not drive but we still, well for most people, use the highway as pedestrian’s, or use of transport like busses, trains and taxis. Loosely speaking, it still applies, if only indirectly. We can still be involved in a crash, if we take a risk crossing a busy road without looking where we are going. It’s getting more common people looking and interacting with their phone while walking, taking unnecessary risks. Again it’s assessing the level of risk and doing something about mitigating it. Like using a pelican crossing or designated crossing. Putting your phone away unless your in a safe place to be able to do so. Maybe if we never travel and stay indoors all the time we could consider the risk to be too small to take precautions”.

Right so your saying, if we think the risk is low then we shouldn’t have the need for the vaccine?

“Well, maybe. The choice should be a personal choice to suit the individual”.

But, we are constantly being bombarded with demands to get the vaccine. It seams like people are being ridiculed if they haven’t been vaccinated. In some industries if you haven’t been vaccinated you could lose your job. Restrictions for going to events, travelling or entering tennis competitions are being or have been put into place.

“If we stopped to check that every driver had their seatbelt on, eyes tested an MOT and sufficient tyre tread and extremely effective breaks then we would struggle getting anywhere. I think society is not just looking at our own individual risks and taking precautions, it’s thinking that we have to limit risk collectively. It sound like good common sense to get everyone to do exactly the same. It’s that “I’m not safe till everyone is safe” syndrome. One rule for all, and not just the selected few. Try telling that to all those road users with no MOT, illegal tyres, unserviced vehicles and bad eyesight”

“Should we all do the same to protect each other without having a choice. Should we accept an Orwellian attitude and do it because we have been told too? Have we not strived for a society with a culture of freedom of speech and freedom to make our own choices in life? Should we all still be driving a Ford model T in black. Should we not have our own personal choice to what we put in our own bodies? Should our own personal thoughts be ostracised for the greater good no matter what we want or believe?”

“An interesting perspective, yet in the middle, or hopefully near the end, of a pandemic our and civil liberties seem to be taking a beating. If someone says no to the vaccine, should we really be bullying and using coercion to make them comply against their will? But, …..they are putting us at risk…… I hear people say! Or are they, for example:- if someone walks into the road without looking into moving traffic they are putting themselves and motorists at risk. If the motorist has taken precautions by being observant, keeping their car in a road worthy condition, having their seatbelt on and driving to the road conditions and within speed limits, then they reduce their own risk, and that of the stray pedestrian. The pedestrian who has ignored the risks is by default disadvantaged from that of the motorist who has taken precautions to minimise their risks. But should we not drive till be know that no one can walk into the road?”

“We all have, in a free society, choices and freedom to think. Yes, we have to consider others, stick by the rules and laws, and work collectively at work and within our families. But, should everyone on this planet of ours have to take the vaccine, no ifs no buts? There’s no vaccine against being hit by a car, or for protection from global warming, pollution, hunger, poverty, racism, hate or prejudice. It’s all about choices, priorities and free thinking. I think we have all forgotten to put everything into perspective with a balanced approach. Let’s face it would the world isolate everyone who has cancer and keep them away from the rest of us so we eradicate cancer. Yes I know it’s not contagious like Covid, but we have to be more understanding, considerate and balanced in our approach to the pandemic and peoples individual needs and rights”.

Wow, so you think I should have the vaccine, and not force others to have it then?

“Fill your boots and get yourself vaccinated, wear a face covering, minimise you time in crowded areas, wash your hands and always remember to put your seatbelt on. Reduce your own risk, but remember to live your life. Express your views and opinions to others, but remember they have to make their own decision. Like Aristotle said,………be a free thinker and don’t accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in”.

Well, all I can say is, your thoughts are a shot in the arm…

Happy Birthday Greta.

When we think of Greta we assume Greta Thunberg, the environment campaigner. Yet the actress Greta Garbo doesn’t always come to mind.
Well today Saturday 18th September 2021 would have been her 116th Birthday.

Greta Lovisa Gustafsson
18 September 1905 Stockholm Sweden.

Many will only remember her from the lyrics of the Madonna song;-

Greta Garbo and Monroe
Dietrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine.

Songwriters: Shep Pettibone / Madonna
Vogue lyrics © Universal Music – Z Tunes Llc, Wb Music Corp., Universal Music Corp., Lexor Music, Tennman Tunes, Stix I’m Stoned Publishing, Webo Girl Publishing, Inc.

Her career spanned from the 1920 in silent movies up the 1941 film Two-Faced Woman. She retired at that point because the film didn’t do too well. A shame really as she could easily have made a greater impact on the silver screen.

Google her and search YouTube, you can then make your own mind up as to why she is regarded as one of Hollywood’s legends.