Just a load of old rambling about me and the different things I end up doing...normally projects and builds of some description!
I have also published a book called "The Project Has Landed..." about the Land Rover Series 3 rebuild I did and it can be bought from any amazon website so please feel free to go and get yourself a copy!
If you feel the need or just want to talk feel free to contact me via Nick@nickysmith.me and I will get back to you asap :)
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, June 19, 2016 20:18:05 It has been a busy day to say the least. Fathers Day arrived once again along with lots of cards, chocolate and a new motorbike helmet to replace the one that got damaged in the crash. Back to the chocolates though and lets have a quick chat about Maltesers along with the fact they seem to think that a small packet of them are excuse enough to share I mean check out the picture...
"More to share" please..more like "More for me!"
Yes I am a greedy bugger but I do like a malteser or hundred! After popping those into the fridge to chill down a bit so I could make myself feel sick with them later on we popped out for a stroll around a car boot looking at nothing in particular but rather getting the old body back working and up to a better fitness level from my month off of enforced rest.
We were home soon enough and the old work togs were soon put back on then my focus once more turned toward the Discovery. Last night I had managed to get one disc and it's pads changed over so I had to get the other done to make the car drive-able again. I don't know who had last had tightened the wheel nuts up or the brake caliper bolts along with every other nut and bolt I had to touch but they must have used a six foot long breaker bar!
The old discs were definitely warped but they were soon off of the hub without me managing to wreck the brake pipes in the process. Now I had to separate the disc from the hub and by far the easiest way to do this is to pop the whole thing back into the wheel and stick a couple of the wheel nuts back on. This way you can then use the weight of the wheel to stop it all turning around because you will without fail need to use a breaker bar to get the bolts out that hold the pair of them together.
Shiny disc on and I was fitting it all back together onto the hub. A little bit of internal swearing saw the new pads fitted and it all back into place.
I jumped into the driving seat heading off for a drive for a few miles to bed in the new pads and discs enjoying the sheer luxury of not fighting a horrific steering wheel wobble every time I wanted to slow down. There was an emergency stop or two on quieter side roads when in the all clear leaving me happier with the old Disco than I have been in quite a long time.
I knew that now the back end was welded up and the brakes sorted that there was less to do know than had been done but the eternal tin worm was in the front wheel arches so when I got home I backed the poor old boy back under the car port removing the battery again ready for some more welding up.
To be honest I didn't feel like doing what I had already been done today let alone getting stuck into a welding session so I settled for a quick brew to consider my options. I decided that nope I would not be welding at all today but I could start the prep on the drivers side so one evening later in the week I could just weld the bugger up in one go.
Of course whenever you start poking a Land Rover seeing if there any holes you will always without fail wish you had not started! Trust me here there is no point in gentle probing here just get stuck in knock all of the rust out and deal with what you have left!
As I looked at the half a dozen rather large holes I had created the idea of lots of patches seemed a bit daft as I would probably be back under it soon enough patching the patches so after a bit of hunting around the sheds I found my larger bits of metal then fabricated up a new front section for the whole wheel arch.
I didn't get around to doing much with it though and I did not get to cleaning back the old metal to get a good weld because quite frankly I had had enough for one day. The tools got packed up I headed off for a hot shower and am now sitting here with my feet up drinking a hot cup of tea...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, June 18, 2016 21:34:51 I have not written a great deal this week at all as I have been taking advantage of the lighter nights to get stuck into getting the Discovery sorted before the dreaded MOT in August. Yo do have to love the summer heading in though, after a few hours of pottering around trying to get bits sorted a mate will pop around to say hello and you sit back relaxing chatting whilst forcing yourselves to drink a beer or two in the late evening light.
That has been my week if I am honest and I love it. There has been cutting of metal then the smell of weld in the air as I managed to get the boot floor and rear wheel arches back into a solid metal state all under the protection of my little car port that has kept the rain storms that have been rolling through at bay...God I really love living in this house!
I had literally just finished welding up the rear at lunchtime when Wifey came out to inform me that our eldest daughter had had an off on her little moped on the way to work. Of course the first thing I asked was "Is she alright" to which I was informed that yes no problems there but the bike was a bit worse for wear. "Here we go again" I thought to myself before the next line came out of "Will you pick it up and have a look at it" "Nope I told her to get breakdown cover...oh who am I kidding here yes where is it?"
So I grabbed a mate and we hooked up my little 5f oot by 3 foot trailer along with lots of rope and headed off to collect it. After suitably ramming it into the little trailer and applying copious amounts of rope (I am so glad I had to rope and sheet loads on trucks when I first started driving them as there it literally nothing now that fazes me when I need to secure it) we headed back home with it to check out the damage.
Turns out that it was not too bad in the end and an hours pottering about with it fabricating the odd bit for the throttle linkage saw it right and roadworthy once more. Kids...gotta love eh. They scare you to death then you fix their cock ups...I am a Dad though and this is my job.
With that sorted and one happy daughter on her way over to collect it (no I was not going to deliver the bugger back there again as well although her Mum did pick her up to come over which gave us a chance for a good catch up) I turned my sights towards the Disco once more as I had visited Paddocks this morning and collected new discs and pads for the old thing. To say I am a practised hand at stripping down wheel hubs now would be an understatement so I had the whole lot stripped off on one side and rebuilt in short order. There is indeed something extremely satisfying about fitting shiny new bits to my motors, it makes me feel all sort of nice inside. I suppose women feel that way about new clothes but bugger that leave me covered in oil and grease with shiny new parts fitted any day :)
By the time that one side was fitted the achy side of my body decided enough was enough so I called it a day. One to note for the books though was that I took my daughters little 125cc out for a reasonable run to make sure all was well with it. Getting back onto a bike even a little one was becoming more than rather a large issue in my head so I did my usual stubborn approach to it of getting kitted up and doing what exactly what I most fear. Things should be just fine...yes it was only a 125 but within a matter of feet I was smiling like an idiot, taking my time don't get me wrong, but enjoying the ride no end. I don't think riding my bike when I get it back will be that much of a problem after all...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, June 11, 2016 22:28:58 My youngest daughter reached the grand old age of 16 years old a couple of weeks ago and her birthday treat was to go to the pictures (that's the cinema for you young ones reading this) but due to commitments of one sort or another (all hers not ours) we didn't end up going until this morning. Thankfully she wanted to go to the early showing of a film at 11am after having a nice relaxing brunch of course. The brunch place was called Chiquitos which indeed served rather a nice brunch but of course the embarrassing Dad part of me found a rather large sombrero to wear, which is no mean fit in a very quiet restaurant, turning on my best Mexican accent for a few minutes.
Then I got everyone else to wear it that was sat around the table...
Well it amused me for a bit anyway before we filled our bellies and headed over to the rather comfy cinema to watch my daughters choice of film...
That film was of course a romantic comedy which appeals to every woman in my household and was called...hang on I need to ask one on them...Me before you or "The saddest film on the world" I have just been informed. Look I will be nice here from a girly point of view I am sure it was very very good but from an old dinosaur hairy arsed Dad blokes point of view it was like every other romcom I have ever seen but it was not my birthday so not my choice. The girls were happy, or sad, or happy they were sad who the hell knows but they said they enjoyed themselves up until the early afternoon when we got home. Before we left I had to pop into the toilet and as is usual there was lots of farting sounds as all of the men present relieved themselves of what they had been holding in during whatever film torture they had been watching. This got me to wondering whether women do this in their toilet as well? Or do they still hold it all in trying not to explode because others are present? I don't know why but I just picture women having disgusted looks on their faces if they hear any bottom burps anywhere well apart from the ones in my household that is.
Now then today I have been feeling a bit better physically so I thought I may as well pull the old Discovery down under the car port so I could strip all of the carpets etc out of it's boot so I could see the extent of the rust on the floor back there. Turns out it was not as bad as I expected. Deciding that it may as well be sorted now I had a good go around with the hammer then cut out the worst of the edges.
A quick dig around in the welding box I hastily threw any of the welding bits in I came across before the move a couple of months ago, out came enough metal along with a pair of cutters to shape it to size so the patch up could begin.
You see I may well need this to last another winter because I am going to go all soft and not ride at all if the weather is bad. Secondly I have every intention of having the 110 on the road before winter arrives but you know what happens with the best of intentions from time to time. A couple of tea breaks later I realised I had been plodding along doing a bit at a time and all of the welding had been sorted.
All this work was happily completed whilst the rain was pouring down underneath my car port I do bloody love having a car port!! Anyway I had a quick stretch testing how much I hurt as well as checking the time then threw caution to the wind getting out what little of the underseal I had left and luckily found in a box a few days ago whilst pottering. Having been exposed to the odd paint brush or two of late I soon had it thrown on both the new metal and old making the whole boot area look a damn site better!
Just the front inner wings to weld up now but I will be doing that over the next couple of weeks as well as fitting a new set of front discs and pads that after finally sorting the wheel bearings out presented themselves as warped...sounds about right eh!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, June 05, 2016 19:21:52 A sound day out at Wollaton Hall in Nottingham being part of the Autokana Show! There were some superb restored motors there but hurting a tad as I was trying to wander around I forgot to take many photos so you will all just have to do with the few I managed late in the day below...you just can't get the staff!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, June 04, 2016 22:06:32 Tomorrow is the Autokana day at Wollaton hall and is a fantastic day out looking at all sorts of old motors in a very green as well as relaxing country manor house setting. Nottingham Land Rover Club are lucky enough to be a part of this displaying all manner of different types of Landy's including my old wreck of a Discovery for some reason that escapes me now. If you are going to be there feel free to pop by and say hello.
Seeing as I will be sat on my backside for most of the day with a bit of a relaxing meander around I am quite looking forward to it but this morning when I looked outside the bedroom window I realised what a poor state the poor old motor was in dirt wise. So the first job of the day was to dig out the power wash so I could give it an easy on me clean from top to bottom.
Then my friend sent me some photos of his Series Land Rover full of slabs that are destined to be put into the old Discovery on it's rather Swiss cheese boot floor! Now this had me feeling rather worried because it really is an old wreck and I am only just getting my nerves back together driving but not to be defeated I stood on my driveway deciding on how to make the whole job a little easier. I don't need to unload the slabs any time soon so they can sit in the motor until I am ready but the weight of it all in one place was still concerning until that was I saw my little trailer sat in the corner of the driveway behind the 110.
A quick wheel change on that along with a number plate fixed on saw it ready to go and carry me a few slabs spreading the weight out from the Discovery boot saving some more holes either appearing or growing larger as I drive home!
I have to say though that the old motor doesn't look too bad when it has had a good clean up and left to sit in the sunshine...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, May 30, 2016 22:11:07 Had a phone call this afternoon from the third parties insurance company taking full liability for the accident last week which has relieved me no end. At least we can now move forward with getting it all sorted out, maybe my bike fixed and brought home or written off and paid out. Oh and there is a car being delivered for me in the morning as well to use until they make their mind up! Happy days!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, May 26, 2016 10:00:20 OK then this is not a post about me moaning or looking for sympathy it is a post about how you can feel in the after mouth of a bike accident.
Yes I am hurting, really hurting but there is nothing broken so it is all bruising and even though the Consultant warned me the pain would increase over the following days from the accident I thought I was a big strong man so it wouldn't be that bad. Oh bugger that it is bad it hurts like hell. If I am a bit girly for admitting that then so be it! The day after the crash I was quite sore but nothing too bad if I am honest and I thought to myself that if this was it pain wise it was going to be a breeze. Well that changed by the time I awoke yesterday. The pain was this dull constant all consuming weird pounding (obviously all of the deep bruising really coming out) so I thought a nice warm bath should be on the cards because lets face it a nice long soak makes anyone feel better. Nope. It was nice at the time but as soon as I got out of it I felt as sick as a pig for hours but I expect this was just a combination of the painkillers bruising etc. Didn't want to eat, slept for hours on end in fact so much that I thought I would not be able to sleep at night but I was wrong there again as my body decided I was quite wrong and knocked me out for nearly twelve hours straight.
Now I don't normally sleep a great deal in fact six to seven hours is always more than enough much to Wifey's annoyance when I wake her up early with a "GOOD MORNING WORLD!!" and a cup of tea, so twelve hours is somewhat out of the norm!
The pain had changed this morning though after my mammoth sleeping session. It is more of a sharp constant now that is more localised to the areas that are damaged and is much more controllable. Thankfully I have not had to pee in my bed again with the much preferred one step at a time old man shuffle taking place up and down the stairs to the toilet instead!
My biggest issue though I want to address head on. The accident has freaked me out a fair bit. It could have been worse of that there is no doubt and I am thankful that it was not after all there are many people out there in the big wide world that are far far worse off than me. What concerns me is the fact that I am a driver trainer. I teach out the best ways to avoid these sort of situations including advanced instruction on collision avoidance and I do not doubt for one moment that if I did not do this for a living the outcome would have been very different indeed because my warning of what was to come came from me spotting the front wheels of the car changing direction. I know there was nothing more to be done than what I did but getting back behind the wheel has been freaking me out a little for the past few days.
I need to get back into the saddle as quickly as possible and get riding again just in case I loose the bottle to do it at all. In fact this morning when I hobbled downstairs I saw there were some letters that needed posting so before I took any more of my strong trip you out happy painkillers I grabbed the keys to the Discovery to drive to the post box and back covering a couple of miles. Once sitting in the Disco I took a deep breath to help ease my apprehension and turned the keys in the ignition. Literally as soon as the wheels started to turn the dread disappeared and I relaxed straight into the drive with no problems at all as I plodded along even when a tool came rushing out of a side road cutting me up a touch. My training sat true and I had already seen the issue developing so just eased off the gas letting him race away.
Getting back behind the wheel was the best thing I could of done this morning effectively stopping the driving issue becoming bigger in my mind. I still feel a little apprehensive about riding again but that is to be expected I suppose as you are far more exposed but as soon as the opportunity arises and my body lets me I will be riding once again.
I am stubborn hard headed and pretty impatient. I am not the type to sit around doing nothing life is far too short for that so this enforced resting is a new experience for me! Wifey wanted a new kitchen fitting next week we shall see how far we get with that. I am not going to try and run before I can walk because if I put myself back into this forced rest thing again I would be more than a little peeved!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Tue, May 24, 2016 19:52:17 Obviously I am ok. I don't mean a happy fit cheerful skipping on a summers afternoon type of ok but a "Anyone you can hobble away from" sort of ok. I hurt like hell all down my right side but there is nothing broken and the bruising will only get worse over the next few days I have been told. Some time off of work along with good rest will see me right over the next few weeks.
I got knocked off of my motorbike on a roundabout on the way home from work last night.
That's as much as I can say about the actual crash as it's all being dealt with by the insurance companies etc so I will start just after the sickening crunch of car into bike with me then heading towards the tarmac still attached to the motorbike, somehow having enough time to think "Jesus this is going to hurt"
And it did.
I hit the tarmac hard on my right side with the bike somehow instantaneously pinning my right leg from the hip down under it and began the road gravel shuffle in earnest for somewhere between 20 to 30 feet. Toward the end of the slide all of my body managed to flip onto the left side apart from my right foot that was still stuck under the bike but somehow facing in the opposite direction from the rest of me as we drew on up to a grinding halt. Now that ankle really hurt and I somehow managed to reach down along my body and with one hand lift the whole bike upward freeing my foot completely. Realising that I could only be doing that running on complete adrenaline I stopped myself from moving any more because who knows what could be broken and the way my entire right side was shouting it literally could be just about anything.
The shock kicked in quicker and harder than I thought that it could and all of a sudden there was another biker parked up in front of me then peering into my visor asking "How you doing rider?" "Oh you know, had better trips home" "Don't move mate the ambulance is on it's way do you want me to call anyone for you?" "Yea you had better ring Wifey her number is in my mobile under ICE" (Listen up folks an ICE number stands for In Case of Emergency and is a pretty good thing to have stored in your phone) "Where's your mobile then?" "Oh that's in my right front pocket which means you will have to reach down my trousers for it but don't be getting any ideas chap you are not my type" "I prefer my lovers without beards mate so no worries there" "Make sure you tell her not to worry and that I am alright. Just meet me at the hospital"
All through this conversation I am aware that the shakes are starting and I am feeling sick. The pain is really quite up there now but what can you do but wait on the Paramedics to arrive and hopefully sort you out. They didn't take long to turn up. Straight in they were and they were superb, calming caring and all whilst expertly assessing your situation, injuries along with the next course of action to take. The Police were not far behind and again were spot on. I am getting old though because everyone looks so damned young!! Still not to complain and I am not they were fantastic! Time for the rest of the evening sort of went odd passing in fits and starts but I was scooped up off of the road complete with a full neck brace attached then popped into the ambulance where two young ladies proceeded to cut off my trousers! No it's not a start to a bad 70's adult film (not that I know what those would be like of course) my outer bike trousers had to bite the dust for a more thorough check over of my limbs the immediate pain was coming from.
Happy there was nothing I was going to clock out of this mortal coil on I was whisked away to the Hospital and handed over to another pair of nurses to have a full assessment done. At this point and for the next four or five hours I could only look up at the ceiling but a better view appeared as I was rolled into the hospital of Wifey peering over saying "Hey honey what have you been doing now then?" She was indeed a sight for sore eyes and I felt much more relived to have her there by my side. This is where I said goodbye to the rest of my bike gear. I am so damned glad I spent a bit of extra cash and bought some half decent stuff because it did it's job protecting my body as best it could when I hot the ground sliding. The nurse apologised just before he started to cut the kit off and was a tad surprised when I said "Don't worry about it you are just doing your job" "Most people moan when we do this, how come you are so calm?" "The gear has done it's job and now you are doing yours so no worries carry on!"
With a bit of a grin he set too with a little too much gusto hacking my coat off but I think it was just the fact he did not have to worry that relaxed him. I mean how can you actually cut off a coat nicely?
A consultant was soon in giving me a top to toe check deciding after lots of prodding poking and "Does this hurt" twisting in a "Will it hurt if I slap you in the face" way. It was decided that I needed a CT scan of several body parts an a few x-rays of more body parts. Fair enough what needs to be done must be done but I was initially wheeled into another assessment area to wait for these to be done being informed they were really busy in the hospital today.
Wifey works for the same NHS Trust and knew that it had been a ridiculously busy weekend for the hospital with around 500 admissions! After a short time a Nurse turned up with some welcomed drugs to numb the pain apologising that we had to wait to which we replied not to apologise we could see they were crazy busy and doing a great job coping with it all!
It was about now that I noticed I could really do with a wee. No problem it could wait.
After some time had passed I had some more clothing removed and bagged up which was promptly handed over to my poor long suffering Wife to add to the two bags of bits and a hacked up rucksack to carry! I was wheeled into the CT scanner room where several rather young and attractive women who all looked at me like I was their Dad transferred me onto the scanning machine bed after even more hacking of biker clothing zips that could be reached. I was informed they would be injecting me with a dye so as to better see my insides with. This dye had a few side effects such as giving you hot flushes, a metallic taste in the mouth and making you feel like you have wet yourself.
Now I only thought it fair at this point to mention that I was quite a way past my holding my pee in point so the feeling like I had wet myself side effect could in fact make a real appearance and could the dye have that unfortunate influence?
I was informed it couldn't and the scan went ahead. What a strange experience that was being slid forward and backward through a rather large doughnut with a built in light show for good measure. That done I was manhandled (not in a fun way) back onto my trolley still looking at the ceiling tiles and wheeled back to the assessment area.
Things were starting to get a bit desperate now in the water holding department so I asked Wifey to let the staff know. Into a curtained cubicle on my trolley we went where I was handed a cardboard pee funnel jug thing and told to carry on when ready.
Now I looked at this jug thing thinking that will not hold all of what I need to pass here I have been holding it for hours! The Mrs grabbed a second one as back up just in case. I need to point out here that I have never in our seventeen years together ever peed in front of my Wife. It's just not something we do and certainly not in bed!
Have you ever tried to pee lying down...in bed....on purpose...into what constitutes a cardboard bottle? No? Me neither it was indeed a new experience that does not need to be repeated ever again especially after trying to get on with it with kidney near to exploding along with my back teeth floating only to get stage fright for a few minutes to boot!
With that embarrassment over and the warm bottle handed over it was time to head off to have the x-rays. How anyone can complain about our NHS is beyond me the service I got was fantastic and the care even better. I was given some more painkillers whilst the results were being sent back to the consultant who was in soon enough to remove the neck brace and to inform me that nothing was broken.
Good news indeed!
He did inform me though that he was writing a prescription for some pretty good painkillers because if I thought I was hurting now the pain would be much much worse over the next few days as all of the severe bruising etc would develop rather nicely from the impact of the accident. He was not wrong there let me tell you! He did say all of this with a grin on his face but in all fairness we had been having the odd joke or two as the evening was going along.
I was then sent a nurse to help me get up off of my back in stages along with a quick walking/limping lesson to get me moving very very slowly again.
As I said at the start anyone you can walk away from with no broken bones or worse is a good one. I don't bear the other driver any malice I mean what's the point accidents happen. (Just keep an eye out for bikers folks)
And once again I want to say thank you to our emergency services along with all of the hospital staff who were fantastic from the beginning to the end. Where else can you get all of that hard work put into checking your health and making sure you are not going to suffer for no apparent reason and normally make a start on getting you better all in the space of 5 or 6 hours? These folks do an incredible job and we should all be thankful for those that willingly put themselves through the stress of such roles all for the benefit of strangers they do not know on a daily basis. Thank you folks you were superb...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, May 08, 2016 08:28:23 Ok then folks my brother and Dad are running the Edinburgh Marathon for a couple of reasons... The first is that they are quite quite mad but the second makes a bit more sense. My Uncle has been diagnosed with terminal cancer so they are sending all the money raised to Macmillan cancer.
The target is £1000 so dig deep folks and lets get them there!
Just click or copy and paste the link below and give what you can, every penny helps towards the great work these folks do! Thank you.
Isn't email great. You
can send a message almost instantly to the other side of the world to
be read in moments and replied to just as quickly no fuss no bother
just easily done. Your other option is face to face internet calling
again where ever in the world you wish now but twenty odd years ago
the quickest method of written communication was via expensive Air
mail and just to show off to the postman that you knew someone abroad
you stuck little blue “Air Mail” stickers on your post when you
This was not a quick
process though by any means so patience was a necessary commodity
when writing to folks abroad and in my case I was not sure I was even
going to get a reply. Just because his family has decided to turn up
and say hello when I went down to drop the letter off was no
guarantee that this fellow would write back to me at all. So what
can you do in a situation like that?Well you just carry on with your
life really trying not to dwell upon it all and leaving things to be
what they will be. I think most of that sort of attitude has been
lost these days in our over connected world of needing to know what
all of your friends are family are doing every minute of every day
getting blow by blow updates via social media on your phones.
I got on with my life
not expecting much and the world kept turning oblivious to my wants
or desires like it always does. I worked and played, spent time with
family and friends but after a couple of weeks when I returned home
one evening from work there was a letter in an unfamiliar hand
waiting for me on the coffee table. (Yes you even got to know who had
written to you by the handwriting on the envelope! Sometimes I feel
we have lost too much) Not only was it an unfamiliar hand but it had
that little blue airmail sticker on it as well so I knew exactly
where it had come from and this was confirmed by a quick glance at
the postage frank mark.
It was here already.
Only a couple of weeks had passed so this was indeed a quick
reply...very quick indeed. All of a sudden I did not want to pick it
up let alone open it up. I feared the news it would contain why I do
not know because why should I fear rejection from someone I did not
know or who did not know me? Over the last couple of weeks
everything had settled back down to my normal in fact this letter had
taken a step back in my mind as the daily grind had once again
smoothed out the bumps in the road of life like it always has but
here once again was something to rock the boat in a big way and this
was entirely of my own making.
I picked it up turning
it over slowly in my hands noting the smoothness of the envelope
wondering at the mileage it had travelled to get here. There was a
surprising amount of weight to it for such a small envelope that
immediately got my attention as unusual. What could be in it? What
could you fit in it to make it so weighty?
The wife to be looked
at me from the doorway to the kitchen with a look of “Are you going
to open that?” but said nothing but the eternally most British of
question in times of stress or hardships
“Cup of tea?”
Of course I said yes I
mean I am English through and through after all and I walked across
the living room to park my backside onto the sofa taking one final
look at the envelope before turning it the right way up and slicing
it open along the top.
I sat there peering
down into the now open envelope and I could see a rather thick wad of
paper folded neatly over on itself so I reached in and pulled it free
from its transatlantic cover. I opened it out several times over on
itself and there was a three page hand written letter along with a
dozen or so photographs. I started with the photos because my main
purpose at this point was to see what this chap looked like. Well,
it would not have been hard to figure out who he was in the pictures
because it was like looking into a mirror for me. My God we looked
alike so alike that if we had bumped into each other in the street we
would have stopped dead looking at each other almost as
So that settled that
mystery then in picture after picture showing an age timeline of
himself and his family over there from when the other kids in the
picture were small to their ages now which were about 10 and 7 years
Two more siblings for
me then bringing my collection of them up to seven in all!
So with that most
urgent of mysteries over for me I settled back with a steaming hot
cup of tea by my side to see what this chap had to say...
So here I was on the precipice of a new chapter in my life. Overall nothing had really changed in the physical sense but after sleeping on it for a few days I had decided that I would try to get into contact with my natural Father because I really really wanted to see what this bloke looked like.
I was also being nosey I wondered how his life had turned out on the other side of the world for him I wondered how he had got on after he had left.
In the last chapter I told you exactly what family means to me but I was not looking for another Dad or a replacement family here. I did not want to walk away from the family I had got they were after all already mine and as families go they were pretty top notch so nope I was not looking for that.
Was I curious? Well of course I was I mean who wouldn't be! There was another part of me that was walking around out there and I irrationally really really needed to know what he looked like.
What a strange thing to be focused on but there it was and I was not going to be letting it go it seemed so I set to tracking down some information on this mysterious chap.
That information was handed to me on a plate if I am honest because it turned out that his Mother still lived in the same house she had done 20 years before so I managed to get hold of a phone number, the old landline type that was still the main way of calling each other back then and walked around for a couple of days with it in my pocket working up the courage to first make the call and secondly wondering what the hell I was going to say!
I mean first impressions and all that along with the fact that someone twenty one years since gone was about to come back into their lives for whatever amount of time completely out of the blue. I had a pretty good idea of what that felt like so I wanted to handle it correctly.
The decision was made I was going to make that call I really wanted to explore that new side of my existence after all there were lots of strange things spinning around in my head like,
“Are there any health concerns I need to know about?”
“Do I have any more brothers and sisters?”
“Did this chap marry in the end?”
“Would he be interested in having a chat with me or had he moved on wanting to leave it all in the past after all he did sign the adoption papers along with all rights towards me?”
On that last one I had instantly come to the frame of mind that that would be fair enough after all two decades had passed by so the reality of the situation was that he may never want anything at all to do with me. With a shrug of the shoulders and with an eerie sense of calm that came over me quite suddenly I sat down and dialled his Mum's telephone number.
This time though the conversation I had rehearsed in my head was holding up because that is the benefit of being on a telephone, people couldn't really do much back then with a phone because they were not mobile and you tended to be restricted movement wise to how far the cord could stretch. I say the conversation went as I planned but what I mean is the beginning of it did.
I started by telling her that nothing was wrong and that no one was hurt but I thought it might be best if she sat down whilst we were talking because she was in for a bit of a surprise and I did not want her falling over like in an old made for TV comedy film where folks just rolled their eyes back in the sockets of their heads then fell to the left completely passed out...hopefully that had broken the ice.
She told me that she was indeed sat down and full of anticipation of what I was about to say so what else could I do? I told her what my name was and I could literally hear her smile before she said
“I have been waiting quite some time for you to call”.
Now that threw me out completely because I thought that I would have had to explain who I was and why I was calling but no here we were with her sat on her stairs holding her phone to her ear quietly and easily taking control of the situation in that way you don't seem to notice until after it's all over only the way those lucky enough to live to an old age somehow always manage to do.
I had decided that the best course of action would be to send her a letter that could be forwarded onto America that way there was no pressure from me for this chap to get in touch as I would not know where in America he was let alone what state or address but he would have all of the information to talk back to me if he was so inclined.
No pressure there then just a reach out to say hello that could not be taken the wrong way. I would pop a few pictures in of myself along with my little family just to add some substance and what he did then was his call.
Now this was a very good idea I was told by the lady who I was worried about upsetting on the end of the telephone and before I had really figured out what was happening I was going down south to see my paternal grandmother to hand deliver this letter to her so she could forward it onto America directly and at the same time have a good feel out of this child that had become a young man she had not seen for his lifetime at her leisure in the comfort of her own home. I hope I am that clever when I get to her age! Cunning very cunning indeed...top marks to her.
So a few days later I was heading down the motorway in my 12 year old white Sierra with a letter that had taken all of those days to put together and was around draft eighteen if I recall correctly, sat on the passenger seat next to me. I just had to keep checking it was there by either looking at it or reaching out to touch it every few minutes. It had indeed been a strange couple of weeks well I say strange but what I mean really is life changing. Not in a physical sense, everything still plodded on like it does, I still got up and went to work, the bills still wanted paying afterall and my little family carried on growing.
No none of that was any different but I was starting to change in subtle little ways as the truth of another family line started to sink in with me.
Oh I had my family and one that could not be surpassed by any other Mum and Dad were great as well as my tribe of siblings but I was the big brother here and that has always been my life my choice and my responsibility. I now wondered if I was on course to be a big brother to another set of siblings?
But if I had more and they wanted to be in contact how could I be with them being brought up the American way? Would we be compatible on a sibling front? I was presuming the choice was mine here I mean they might hate me for just existing and being hidden away for their lifetimes...hang on why was I presuming I was hidden away? They may well have known about me all along I mean that was a real possibility...you can see how these things set to swirling around in your head and the possibilities of the unknown are limitless.
I leant back into the worn fabric of the drivers seat, this was something I was doing a fair bit of lately in seats, and semi consciously sighed to myself again as I pondered on the possibilities of it all.
Luckily the half mile exit sign caught my eye on the motorway and I branched off now getting really close to my city destination of Oxford. For the first time since talking on the phone I felt a little nervous with a few butterflies in my stomach and an understandable apprehension as I headed into the suburbs.
A few more heartbeats saw me passing into a cul-de-sac with a slow cruise past the house I wanted before turning around and parking up. I sat for a few moments knowing that this meeting was to change things even more in my life whatever the outcome because I was about to meet my natural Fathers Mother and weird as that was I had this feeling that my life was about to go in a direction but maybe all of the control would not be mine on it's journey.
“To hell with it” I thought grabbing the car door handle and getting out into the cool morning air. A short walk along a tarmac pathway that lead to a pair of ornate metal driveway gates about ten feet ahead and I found myself looking to see anyone was peeking out of the curtains at me approaching but if they were they were well hidden. I got to the front door then pressed the doorbell button but seeing as there was no noise I could hear I gave a couple of good wraps of my knuckles on the door itself just for good measure.
My nerves had changed to an eerie calm but I had started to hear voices coming from elsewhere and no one had answered the door yet?? Hang on had my mind finally cracked? There it was again...oh it was coming from the side door of the house just down the driveway, she didn't use the front door itself but a side one.
As I rounded the side of her home there she was with her head and shoulders poking sideways out of a doorway looking just like a stereotypical Grandmother with hair freshly done whilst holding a slightly portly figure and donning an apron like I had disturbed her mid cooking something.
We made eye contact as I came around from the front of the house and she instantly beamed at me saying “Well you must be Nick then” very matter of factly giving me a big hug as soon as I was in grabbing distance from her.
“Come in come in you must tired after your drive” I was informed whilst being simultaneously led without mush of a choice into her kitchen where much to my surprise I came face to face with a couple of other people. Turns out one was an Uncle and the other a cousin and this development left me further surprised for the umpteenth time since the day had begun because this was a development that I had not even considered, more family.
Why I had not considered I do not know but I was new to all of this so I just kind of took it in my stride just hoping I was not going to be some sort of freak show side line that would have masses of folks I did not know coming at me from all directions during the day. Well I wasn't a freak show but I would meet an Aunt before the visit was over and it all felt a little odd to be meeting my natural Fathers family before even seeing what he looked like but at this point I was pretty much overwhelmed with the whole situation so I just rolled along with it all.
When I had the time later that day and in the ones that followed I realised that I could not blame them for all turning up on the same day after all it may have been the only chance to see this long lost family member. Remember this was a time before mobile phones that had built in cameras so pictures were cherished and there were not any of me, there was also no Internet to stalk me down on either getting a few pics without me realising so why not just come and see what this baby you once knew about had turned into? I would have probably done the same in their shoes.
The next few hours passed quickly with lots of information being dug out on both sides of the last twenty odd years and I walked away with a bit more of a picture of who this fella was but I had not asked to see an actual picture of him or where he lived or about his family. I had purposely said early upon arriving that I did not want to know that yet as it was his choice whether to tell me it or not and this was respected by all of the parties that were there.
Just before leaving I handed over the letter that had taken so long to write to his Mother who promised it would be on it's way state side by the next day so it would not be long before he got it. A nod of the head from me on that and it was done. The single step from me handed over that could change even more things in my life...had I done the right thing here?
There were fierce hugs given all round as I left feeling a little bewildered to walk to my car.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Mon, February 29, 2016 17:21:50 Wifey and I have a week off together so we are trying to cram as much of what we like to do kid free into it as we can.
As you can see from the video we ended up in Mablethorpe because that's where she said she wanted to go over the weekend several times but as we were driving in towards it with only a few miles to go she asked "Why are we heading into Mablethorpe? We are supposed to be going to Cleethorpes"
At this point I looked across thinking she was joking but the look on her face soon showed me she was not! After a couple of fits of laughter along with me explaining that Cleethorpes was in the opposite direction to where we were heading we decided that Mablethorpe would do.
This place though! Honestly you could film a horror movie about the end of humanity there without worrying about seeing anyone else! A fish & chip lunch was on the cards but we could not find anywhere open...at all!
Hopefully the place is a hive of activity in the summer but after we walked along a pathway that felt like it turned into muggers alley with high sided dunes on either side and a sharp bend every ten feet it was a lonely place to be indeed on a late February weekday. The beach was pretty damned good though it just went on for miles and miles so if you like walking along a lonely stretch of sand this is the holiday destination for you!
A good day though starting with a bit of time at the seaside followed by lunch in Lincoln which was walked off along the River Trent at Gunthorpe Locke on the way home. I love time off of work :)
So here I was on the
precipice of a new chapter in my life. Overall nothing had really
changed in the physical sense but after sleeping on it for a few days
I had decided that I would try to get into contact with my natural
Father because I really really wanted to see what this bloke looked
I was also being nosey
I wondered how his life had turned out on the other side of the world
for him I wondered how he had got on after he had left.
In the last chapter I
told you exactly what family means to me but I was not looking for
another Dad or a replacement family here. I did not want to walk
away from the family I had got they were after all already mine and
as families go they were pretty top notch so nope I was not looking
Was I curious? Well of
course I was I mean who wouldn't be! There was another part of me
that was walking around out there and I irrationally really really
needed to know what he looked like.
What a strange thing to
be focused on but there it was and I was not going to be letting it
go it seemed so I set to tracking down some information on this
That information was
handed to me on a plate if I am honest because it turned out that his
Mother still lived in the same house she had done 20 years before so
I managed to get hold of a phone number the old landline type that
was still the main way of calling each other back then and walked
around for a couple of days with it in my pocket working up the
courage to first make the call and secondly wondering what the hell I
was going to say!
I mean first
impressions and all that along with the fact that someone twenty one
years since gone was about to come back into their lives for whatever
amount of time completely out of the blue. I had a pretty good idea
of what that felt like so I wanted to handle it correctly.
The decision was made I
was going to make that call I really wanted to explore that new side
of my existence after all there were lots of strange things spinning
around in my head like,
“Are there any health
concerns I need to know about?”
“Do I have any more
brothers and sisters?”
“Did this chap
“Would he be
interested in having a chat with me or has he moved on wanting to
leave it all in the past after all he did sign the adoption papers?”
On that last one I had
instantly come to the frame of mind that that would be fair enough
after all two decades had passed by so the reality of the situation
was that he may never want anything at all to do with me at all. With a
shrug of the shoulders and with an eerie sense of calm with it all
coming over me I sat down and dialled his Mum's telephone number.
This time though the
conversation I had rehearsed in my head was holding up because that
is the benefit of being on a telephone, people couldn't really do
much back then with a phone because they were not mobile and you
tended to be restricted to how far the cord could stretch. I say the
conversation went as I planned but what I mean is the beginning of it
I started by telling
her that nothing was wrong and that no one was hurt but I thought it
might be best of she sat down whilst we were talking because she was
in for a bit of a surprise and I did not want her falling over like
in an old made for TV comedy film where folks just rolled their eyes
back in the sockets of their heads then fell to the left completely
passed out...hopefully that had broken the ice.
She told me that she
was indeed sat down and full of anticipation of what I was about to
say so what else could I do? I told her what my name was and I could
literally hear her smile before she said “I have been waiting for
you to call”.
Now that threw me out
completely because I thought that I would have had to explain who I
was and why I was calling but no here we were with her sat on her
stairs holding her phone to her ear quietly and easily taking control
of the situation in that way you don't seem to notice until after
it's all over only the way those lucky enough to live to an old age
somehow always manage to do.
I had decided that the
best course of action would be to send her a letter that could be
forwarded onto America that way there was no pressure from me for
this chap to get in touch with me as I would not know where in
America he was let alone what state or address but he would have all
of the information to talk back to me if he was so inclined. No
pressure there then just a reach out to say hello that could not be
taken the wrong way. I would pop a few pictures in of myself along
with my little family just to add some substance and what he did then
was his call.
Now this was a very
good idea I was told by the lady who I was worried about upsetting on
the end of the telephone and before I had really figured out what was
happening I was going down south to see my paternal grandmother to
hand deliver this letter to her so she could forward it onto America
directly and at the same time have a good feel out of this child that
had become a young man she had not seen for his lifetime at her
leisure in the comfort of her own home. I hope I am that clever when
I get to her age! Cunning very cunning indeed...top marks to her.
So a few days later I
was heading down the motorway in my 12 year old white Sierra with a
letter that had taken all of those days to put together and was
around draft eighteen if I recall correctly, sat on the passenger
seat next to me that I just had to keep checking was there by either
looking at it or reaching out to touch it every few minutes. It had
indeed been a strange couple of weeks well I say strange but what I
mean really is life changing. Not in a physical sense everything still
plodded on like it does, I still got up and went to work, the bills
wanted paying and my little family carried on growing. No none of
that was any different but I was starting to change in subtle little
ways as the truth of another family line started to sink in with me.
Oh I had my family and
one that could not be surpassed by any other Mum and Dad were great
as well as my tribe of siblings but I was the big brother here and
that has always been my life my choice and my responsibility and I
now wondered if I was on course to be a big brother to another set of brothers or sisters?
But if I had more and
they wanted to be in contact how could I be with them being brought
up the American way? Would we be compatible on a sibling front? I
was presuming the choice was mine here I mean they might hate me for
just existing and being hidden away for their lifetimes...hang on why
was I presuming I was hidden away? They may well have known about me
all along I mean that was a real possibility...you can see how these
things swirl around in your head and the possibilities of the unknown
I leant back into the
worn fabric of the drivers seat, this was something I was doing a
fair bit of lately in seats, and semi consciously sighed to myself
again as I pondered on the possibilities of it all.
Luckily the half mile
exit sign caught my eye on the motorway just in time and I branched off now
getting really close to my city destination of Oxford. For the
first time since talking on the phone I felt a little nervous with a
few butterflies in my stomach and understandable apprehension as I
headed into the suburbs.
A few more heartbeats
saw me passing into a cul-de-sac with a slow cruise past the house I
wanted before turning around and parking up. I sat for a few moments
knowing that this meeting was to change things even more in my life
whatever the outcome because I was about to meet my Fathers Mother
and weird as that was I had this feeling that my life was about to
change but maybe all of the control would not be mine on it's
“To hell with it” I
thought grabbing the car door handle and getting out into the cool
morning air. A short walk along a tarmac pathway that lead to a pair
of ornate metal driveway gates about ten feet ahead and I found
myself looking to see anyone was peeking out of the curtains at me
approaching but if they were they were well hidden. I got to the
front door then pressed the doorbell button but seeing as there was
no noise I could hear I gave a couple of good wraps of my knuckles on
the door itself just for good measure.
My nerves had changed
to an eerie calm but I had started to hear voices coming from
elsewhere and no one had answered the door yet?? Hang on had my mind
finally cracked? There it was again...oh hang on it was coming from the side
door of the house just down the driveway, she didn't use the front
door itself but a side one.
As I rounded the side
of the house there she was with her head and shoulders poking
sideways out of the doorway looking just like a stereotypical
Grandmother with hair freshly done whilst holding a slightly portly
figure and donning an apron like I had disturbed her cooking
We made eye contact as
I came around from the front of the house and she instantly beamed at
me saying “Well you must be Nick then” very matter of factly
giving me a big hug as soon as I was within grabbing distance from her.
“Come in come in you
must tired after your drive” I was informed whilst being
simultaneously led without much of a choice into her kitchen where
much to my surprise I came face to face with a couple of other
people. Turns out one was an Uncle and the other a cousin and this
development left me surprised for the umpteenth time since the day
had begun because this was a development that I had not even
considered, more extended family.
Why I had not
considered I don't know but I was new to all of this so I just kind
of took it in my stride just hoping I was not going to be some sort
of freak show side line that would have masses of folks I did not
know coming at me from all directions during the day. Well I wasn't
a freak show but I would meet an Aunt before the visit was over and
it all felt a little odd to be meeting my Fathers family before even
seeing what he looked like but at this point I was pretty much
overwhelmed so I just kept rolling along with it all.
When I had the time
later that day and in the ones that followed I realised that I could
not blame them for all turning up on the same day after all it may
have been the only chance to see this long lost family member.
Remember this was a time before mobile phones that had built in
cameras so pictures were cherished and there were not any of me,
there was also no Internet to stalk me down on either getting a few
pics without me realising so why not just come and see what this baby
you once knew about had turned into? I would have probably done the
same in their shoes.
The next few hours
passed quickly with lots of information being dug out on both sides
of the last twenty odd years and I walked away with a bit more of a
picture of who this fella was but I had not asked to see an actual
picture of him or where he lived or about his family. I had
purposely said early upon arriving that I did not want to know that
yet as it was his choice whether to tell me it or not and this was
respected by all parties that were there.
Just before leaving I
handed over the letter that had taken so long to write to his Mother
who promised it would be on it's way state side by the next day so it
would not be long before he got it. A nod of the head from me on
that and it was done. There were fierce hugs given all round as I
left and I was feeling a little bewildered as I walked to my car.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, February 20, 2016 07:15:00 After an in depth and rather emotional as well as frank chat with my Mum I set off in a much better frame of mind to go back to see my Dad who was still down the pub where I had left him with the wife to be a few hours before. I was hoping that they were not too drunk by now and thankfully they were not. Wife to be headed home as soon as I arrived to let Mum go home again and I sat down in front of my Dad and we sort of looked at each other a bit sheepishly not knowing where to start.
The realisation soon hit home that a pub somewhere near to closing time is not the best place to have an in depth conversation on the past so I looked at him with a bit of a grin and said, "It's not like I am going to start calling you by your first name or anything" To which there was a bit of a smirk from him just briefly along with the comment "I should bloody well hope not".
That was it for then. You see we all react differently in these types of situations there is no right or wrong way nothing anyone can say or write that could make it all easy or make the past disappear in a heartbeat. No, where Mum wanted to talk in depth about it all all at once Dad did not want to talk much at all yet and that was all good by me as we sat there looking at each across the table. We would talk in depth over time when it was just the two of us, I know that it was a hard thing for him to do and I love him more for the fact that he would sit there and do it even though it would quietly upset him each time but that was our way, we are men you know and this stuff is emotional. We don't really bring it up these days, any of us, because it's all in the past now...more years in the past than I care to admit but once what needs to be said is said you process it, put it away and move on, there is no need to live in the past it just shapes us into the people we are today.
So why am I writing about it all again now? I mean why bring it all up to the surface once again in my own mind? Well I had an interesting chat with a friend at work who had just found out something similar so this story came out just as in depth as I have written here and he was amazed that someone else felt exactly the same way as he did.
Also, and this is quite a big one, I decided that I would not hide anything like this from my own children from the start. I prefer to be honest and up front with them because it teaches life skills and also it becomes the "norm" which my type of family is in this our modern age. I had a 18 month old son who would need to be told a similar story as he grew up so the best way to do it in my eyes was to just have it out there from the start. I have four children in all two of which are not genetically mine but does this make a difference? are they any less my children because of this?
No, no they are not. They are my children and I love them dearly, as my family loves me, I would lay down and die for each and every one if it was asked of me. We don't have those distinctions of half brother this, half sister that, step siblings and all of those other labels, we just have a family of brothers and sisters across the board and in my eyes that is as it should be. Family is so much more than blood lines and genetics it is unwavering support from all of it including the extended lot. It is about acceptance that the world brought us together as a unit our different backgrounds and pathways that led us all to this one place are different as well as diverse and we are all made a bit more well informed and stronger because of them.
Family is about being pleased to see each other of that feeling of easy acceptance and the comfort of home when we are all together once again. Time does not matter, if it's been six months since we were together as soon as we enter the same room it feels more like six minutes. It is the laughter, the ribbing, the new experiences brought home and shared. It is the different ways of life we have all chosen that we then bring together, each and every one of my siblings has chosen a very different course in life and we are the stronger for it. There is no judgement just questions and hopefully we all walk away a little wiser.
All of that is family to me. Not one line of heritage or some pieces of paper but many many lines of life brought together and you end up loving it all whether you wanted to or not.
That is the reason for me sharing this story. I have done it in instalments so I could get it all out the way I really wanted it to, to do it justice and in that time there have been a surprising amount of emails sent to me by people who are experiencing it right now and those who have similar history's comparing notes. My experience was overall a positive one so this is not a tale looking for pity it is indeed a tale to look at and think "yea that is what family is about"
Sounds like I have finished with it all doesn't it? Nope not by a long shot folks this part took place over a long weekend and as we all went to our beds at the end of that last long evening exhausted by what had come to light that thought came back into my mind,
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, February 19, 2016 20:20:42 The walk from the pub back to our little two up two down may have been short in distance but it felt like a 10 mile hike. I had already sort of confronted my Dad about what was the truth behind all of this cloak and dagger stuff but caught him off guard scaring the hell out of him as well as getting no further on and now I was heading head first into more unknowns with my Mum waiting for me at my house, damn I felt sick.
I walked up the darkened lane to my house reaching the red front door where I paused thinking I wished none of this has started that I had not popped down for lunch with my boy but that time had now since passed and there was nothing to be done but go forward with this extra large can of worms that had been opened...I pushed down the door handle and walked into my front room.
I have told you a little of my Dad and it is only fair and right to now tell you a little of my Mum. Ever noticed how busy Mums are? Mine was no exception to that rule with a total of six children to see to as well as a house to keep, clothes to wash just the general family to run stuff on a rather large scale. One real advantage of your Mum having you very young is that as you start to get a little older they still are young and I loved that about my Mum. I was treated as an equal more or less once I hit my teenage years given lots of trust which gave way to freedom (that and they were both very busy with all of my brothers and sisters so didn't notice what I was getting up to half the time), we were close and talked about subjects that would send most other young men my age scurrying for a dark stone to hide behind in embarrassment. She was witty, pretty, straight talking and honest I was so very lucky to have the relationship I had with her from a young age and thankfully still do. When I was fifteen and home from school for a quick lunch she told me she was pregnant with my baby sister and did I think it was disgusting because she was so old at the grand old age of thirty one. I remember grinning ear to ear looking her in the eye and asking "are you happy about it?" She replied "Yes I think I am but I was worried you might think I was too old" I got up walked across the kitchen and hugged her with both of us grinning uncontrollably and me telling her I thought it was great...and I really did think it was great I loved my younger siblings dearly.
So as I rounded the front door pushing it closed behind me I took yet another deep breath and looked up to see my Mum perched on the edge of the sofa's arm looking positively ill...there must of been something going around eh. She broke the silence between us as I stood there in the middle of the room just looking at her genuinely not knowing what to say by stating,
"You must really hate me"
God no I did not hate her or anyone but I answered using foul language in front of her for the first time in my life, "No Mum I don't hate you I just want to know what the fuck is going on"
It was like a flood gate had burst with all of the questions and things I wanted to say lined up neatly and clearly in my mind that would get voiced as the evening went on getting answers to all of the things I needed to know.
It turned out that word had soon spread to my Nan (Mums mum) that I had been asking questions of my Aunt so she had been on the phone to give my parents a bit of a heads up on the situation. Nothing like this can come out right really can it but I do feel sorry for the pair of them that it came blindside out of the right wing to tackle them completely unexpectedly.
She told me the story that we we began with at the start of this tale reader so I wont cover that again but we soon headed onto what followed on after my parents life settled down into that comfy routine of family life that I had always known. They had wanted to tell me about it all in fact they had planned it a couple of times but life events sort of got in the way. They had planned to tell me by the time I was 16 but I had gotten a massive "go and see the world" travel bug by then shooting off all over the place and to any country I could get into and they were understandably scared I would bugger off to America...might of been nice to make that call myself back then but hey ho I get why they made that decision I mean my natural father might not of wanted anything to do with me. Then I moved away to all ends of this little island of ours so we did not see each other a great deal especially in private. Then I decided to get married so they were determined to tell me before the happy occasion but Nan had beaten them to the punch literally by a few weeks.
My head was spinning by now still with that whirlwind of emotions but added to that mess was this overload of information of history of what had been's what could of been's. I felt lied to but elated because there was more to me than I thought, I thought my life had been a lie but I knew it could not have been better...if there was ever a reason to have a few beers this was it but it was going to take a good deal of time to sift through it all putting it into order so I could make proper sense of it. We chatted for a couple of hours with me getting everything asked that I had planned and plenty more besides as the conversation developed with facts coming out I that I had no previous knowledge of. It was all brand new info both fascinating and exhilarating. I was sitting crossed legged in the middle of the floor just soaking it all in and Mum seemed to be getting more comfortable as she got it off of her chest, the release of the burden she had been carrying for my lifetime was actually visible as it left her a piece at a time while we talked.
The strangest thing was that I was not angry with any of it, I felt a bit miffed that it had been hidden away because in my mind there was absolutely no need for that to be done, deep down in my soul I knew that it would have made absolutely no difference to me as I was growing up in fact the only difference it had made to me now was curiosity as to this other genetic line that I had running off in another direction and I knew straight away I would be following that up not because I needed another family oh no at this point in time I just wanted to know what this other fellow looked like. Did he look like me at all? or should I say did I look like him?
So a few hours had passed and so did all of my questions, every last one of them was asked and exhaustive answers given by my Mum patiently as I cross examined nearly every detail. I was shattered physically and emotionally Mum looked like she had faired no better through this emotional roller-coaster so I laid back on the carpet and looked up to the ceiling then in an instant realising I had left my Dad down the pub in rather a state because I had dropped the bombshell of my knowledge on him out of the blue. Wife to be was down there too. Oh bugger what had I done....
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, February 19, 2016 18:39:42 Isn't life funny. For the best part of two days I had planned this big deep talk with my parents in the comfort of the family home but in the space of a few minutes I was sitting in the local pub with my Dad nursing a pint of Bitter and finding myself of how the weekend away had been. Not what I had imagined happening at all...
Before we head even further into this modern day tale I want to take a moment to talk about my Dad. He is most definitely the best person I know full of wit (I said wit Dad if you are reading this) seems to know about just about anything along with a memory for events from far far in the past until the present that would leave an elephant hanging it's head in shame. We have spent a great deal of time together over the years and there is always a long weekend away with just the two of us or a couple of brothers or close friends thrown in for good measure. These weekends are truly just lad events but we are well past the getting stinking drunk and suffering the next day phase, no dear reader we are just very happy and comfortable in each others company so from as early as I can remember I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to be a Dad to my kids as well as he was to me and my siblings but I always fear that I have fallen far far short of that particular marker.
We have great conversations, put each other into our places if we are being or about to do something stupid along with gentle encouragement when we aim high for something new. We happily take the mickey out of each other when we fail as well just in general because anything is fair game when it comes to making each other laugh usually at each others expense. We are also more than comfortable to just enjoy each others company doing just about nothing, sitting reading a book, sat on a beach just looking out to sea or even better doing that from a pub garden on a summers evening having nothing to say and that not mattering a jot. So at the point we are at in our tale with me sitting there at that dark wood circular table with a pint sweating on it for the first time in my life feeling edgy in Dad's company wondering how to broach this subject with him but not knowing where to begin was a whole new most unpleasant experience that left me wondering once again why this nonsense had been hidden from me for a lifetime.
That first pint unsurprisingly disappeared quite quickly but I had mind enough to know that getting drunk then trying to talk about this was a very bad idea so once the second round had hit the table top I took a deep long draught of it, wiped my lips looked my Dad in the eye and said to him that I had taken my son to see Nan and she had said I was about hos age when she first met me. In for a penny here in for a pound, I then asked if he could confirm exactly what she meant by it. Is there a good way to broach a long hidden skeleton in the closet? Now looking back my answer is no, no there is not. Dads face dropped. I felt awful. Then in my head I felt angry at myself for feeling awful because this was not my secret I was the secret, then I thought oh hell I think I get why they hid it then it all the emotions just got a bit whirly.
He just looked at me like a cornered rabbit, lets face it he kinda was as he had no idea this was coming nothing at all until this point in his world had changed form the last twenty odd years, his mouth gaped he stuttered a touch stumbled over his tongue and came out with, "She doesn't what she was talking about...um I mean she was mistaken...no um, oh shit, you need to talk to your Mum Nick" He looked awful. The blood has long since drained from his face he had turned green and sweaty along with twitchy limbs not knowing where to look and all of this in the space of about ten seconds the poor bugger I really felt for him right then. He didn't know what to do and a well timed shout from a friend from the other side of the pub gave him instant recourse to make his way from this instant horror of a long hidden secret catching up with him in the wrong place unexpectedly.
I didn't blame him I had had a couple of days to get used enough to this information being back out there in the daylight and it had reared it's head at him when he thought he was out for a relaxing time with his son. I took another long pull on my pint and rested my head back into the worn red leather seat I was sitting in wondering what the hell to do next when out of the blue the wife to be walked into the pub with a worried look in her eyes that did not go away when they found me sitting in the corner. As she hurriedly headed over towards me I wondered what else could go wrong in such a short space of time and I was kept waiting long on that info.
She sat down hard looked me in the eye saying, "You need to head back your Mum's sat in our living room and she is pretty upset" "Jesus could this night get any worse" I wondered and after a pretty short walk I was about to find out.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, February 18, 2016 18:22:24 Do you recall me telling you earlier how it seems that with each year that passes time goes by quicker and quicker? well that statement is indeed true and as I sit here in my 42nd year in wonder how that amount of time has gone by already along with the wonder of seeing all of my four children now careering into adulthood themselves it could not be more of a straight up statement. But those 36 hours I spent waiting for my Mum & Dad to get home from their weekend away felt like another lifetime in passing on top of what I have already had so far.
My soon to be Wife kept asking what I was going to do and how I was going to do it, as if I had any idea myself at that point. Nope I was just going to wing it but hopefully in a calm manner after all shouting was not going to get me anywhere here. They were due back in the late afternoon but they only lived down the road so I could literally keep an eye out for their car as they got home. My brothers and sisters were only young though and as the day wore on I knew that I would wait until later in the evening before heading down to their house for the chat that I was dreading. That sick to my stomach feeling had come back because I had no idea on how we were all going to react once we started to talk but I could not have that talk in front of my siblings because they were far too young to understand at that point.
The afternoon light faded with no-one back yet but as the darkness fell I saw their car pull up. I might be giving the impression here that I was stood around for most of the afternoon at home just pacing too and fro from the window in my house winding myself up not in anger but in dread for what was to come and that is indeed exactly what was happening. The wife to be once again asked around 7:30pm if I was going to head down there to which I replied, "Give it another half an hour until Eastenders finishes, Mum will be watching that then putting the kids to bed so we can talk freely"
It seemed like a good enough plan to me so I took myself away from my window post that I had been guarding all day and wandered into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. 30 seconds later there was a knock at the door and my Dad was standing with a big grin on his face asking if I wanted to "Nip down to the pub for a quick pint?"
Judging by the look on his face along with his body language he had no idea at this point of what had happened over the weekend. My son had not yet settled down for the night so was still playing in the living room of our small two up two down and all of my thousand time pre rehearsed conversations of how the evening was going to play out initially were thrown completely out of the window. So what else could a young chap do? I followed him down to the pub wondering what the hell to do next, I wanted to speak to both of them at the same time but that idea it would seem had gone straight out of the window...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, February 17, 2016 19:51:45 So there was this cute as hell little bundle of a baby that would grow up to be a dashingly handsome fellow (that's me of course in case you needed a reminder) around which our tale continues. My Mum met another chap in due time and soon they were to be wed and it was at this point that my father decided that he was going to travel to the other side of the world chasing the American Dream so my Dad, the man Mum was about to marry, stood up and adopted me. All three of these folks were happy with this arrangement and seeing as I was still small and clueless about such things it made no odds to me at all in fact I have no memory of any of this. I have not taken poetic licence with this story just kept it to the base facts of what happened back then but I have kept out any emotion due to the fact that it was absolutely none of my business then as it is still not now, here we had three grown ups in the seventies dealing with a situation that was still looked down upon in a huge way to the best of their abilities.
Now as the years went by I had no idea of the fuss that I had inadvertently caused when I was such a little bundle so I carried along just living a happy childhood that was full of family with me ending up being the biggest brother to five younger siblings which I enjoyed no end. There was countryside and cycling that changed into small towns and teenagers, life was indeed a pleasant ride that involved hard work but the sound base of this was family. I never felt like I was different to my siblings as far as I was concerned we were all cut from the same cloth our Mum & Dad were, well Mum & Dad. There was the odd time I wondered why I looked a great deal more like my Mum than my Dad but this was no more than a fleeting thought that was soon dismissed from my mind, I mean why was that even an issue? most people were genetically predisposed to look more like one parent than the other anyway it's called the stronger gene.
So time passed by marching quicker and quicker as it seems to do year by year until I was only just into my early twenties and a girl came along that I was to marry. This girl though came with a young son of about 18 months old but this did not bother me and I took him on as my own. Even when the marriage fell apart through no ones in particular fault, as many seem to do when you marry very young, I kept on seeing my son and his younger sister because I had made the choice to become part of his life and just because the genetics were not there it doesn't mean that made us any the less the family we were. But I am jumping forward a bit here dear reader so let us take a step back to a few months before that wedding. My parents had gone away for a well earned weekend break and my Nan (Dad's Mum) had come up to look after my younger brothers and sisters. I took this opportunity to proudly introduce my son to her taking him down to meet her one summers lunchtime. As we sat there chatting away with my boy bouncing around on my knee Nan said casually,
"Oh you were about this age when I first met you"
My world fell apart inside in an instant at the implication of that sentence. I loved my Nan dearly and there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that she loved me dearly too so there was not one ounce of malicious intent in what she had said that day, oh no she just thought that I knew I was adopted, that at the age of 21 I had been told of the fact. Of course though you may have figured out that I had not.
So what could I do? I did not want to upset her by asking about the true meaning of what she had just said in fact knowing the type of person that she was it would have destroyed her to realise in that moment what she had done so I carried on with our lunch and as soon as I could I said our goodbyes then headed home.
Talk about a whirlwind of emotions that were cascading through my head at this point! I felt sick, confused, a little angry but most of all I was questioning whether or not I had heard her correctly? Deep down I knew indeed that I had so what was I supposed to do to confirm this world changing information? Mum & Dad were away for another day and there was no way of contacting them because mobile phones were not about at this point. I could not recall where they were staying and even if I could what would calling them on a rare weekend away accomplish? No I needed to speak to them face to face but I wanted to know before then if what I thought here was true. I didn't want to call my other Nan (Mums Mum) as I thought it might upset her so I called my Auntie (Mums sister) and casually mentioned what Nan had said to me to which upon hearing it she panicked saying I needed to speak to my Mum the quickly gave me half a dozen reasons about why she needed to be off of the phone and hung up.
Looking back that must have been a horrible thing for her to go through as well having her nephew on the line asking her to confirm or deny one of the families deepest secrets for which this had indeed become after it had been hidden for so long. Her general panic though had told me all I needed to know which settled my mind along with my stomach leaving me just wondering why no one had ever said anything about it?
So I settled into a 36 hour wait for my parents to get home so I could talk to them face to face...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, February 14, 2016 21:23:06 I have been wanting to write about this for quite some time but I really have not known how to find the words to begin. You see this is personal, I mean really personal but it is something that needs to be said and that I need to get out because in this modern world of ours it is not that unusual but when this story begins it was indeed most unusual in fact it was down right frowned upon...the year was 1973.
1973 the time of long hair for boys and girls alike along with flared trousers platform shoes and Sidney Sideburns that would put most Movember candidates to shame. Freedom for the young was still a new enough experience and this generation was truly the first that were born onto that freedom but there were still plenty of generations from before left around to hold society in a death grip of times gone by where there were set rules for dating sex and child births outside of marriage even if that grip was slipping slowly away. Council estates were still the stuff of dreams giving the working classes affordable clean housing and that was where my family lived at this point in time. My Mother met my Father and I was conceived out of wedlock whilst Mum was only 16 years old. Now in today's world that is not either unusual or that frowned upon, don't get me wrong there will always be folk that judge from afar whilst looking down their noses at other peoples situations without knowing all of the facts nor the journey that brings people to the destination they have arrived at and back in '73 unfortunately this was the norm.
Can you imagine living through that at 16 years old? Everyone looking at you judging you from close up with loud "tuts" and withering looks as you pass by. Now for one reason or another my biological parents did not stay together and lets face it at that age it is not very surprising really, I mean the cases of folks being together from that age these days are few and far between so not a lot has changed in the past four decades there. So there she was my Mum a single 16 year old soon to be parent growing a baby in her belly through the summer of 1973 going against the very normal fabric of society at the time. Luckily for me her family were behind her and soon enough I came kicking and screaming into the world. My Father stayed in touch I believe helping out until the time came that I was adopted by my Dad but there is no need to delve deep into the private business of the three of them from that time as it has no bearing on the story or what I am trying to say with it. I am sure there were ups and downs but that is as much their business now as it was then so we dear reader shall walk away from all of that messiness and carry on with our tale...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Thu, February 11, 2016 19:47:24 Well it has been a tough couple of days dealing with those sad end times that life ultimately throws us all. Now before I write more can I point out this is not an entry to try and gain sympathy in fact it is quite the opposite, it's about stopping once in a while and taking stock of who as well as what we have in our lives then making a step forward realising how lucky most of us are because I know I am a lucky man indeed.
My Aunt Mollie passed away a couple of weeks ago and yesterday was the day we got to say goodbye. She has been a constant in my life since my earliest memory, not every day or even every month but she always came and went telling wonderful stories of her travels with a kindness in her voice that most folks seem to have lost these days. I learn't something I did not know about her at the funeral service though, it was something that should have been at the front of my mind and I should of noticed before but for some strange reason I never did.
You see Mollie never married or had a significant other that I had seen but this never registered until the Vicar mentioned it. It turns out she did fall in love with a handsome young man who was lodging with her Auntie at the start of the war. They were devoted to each other but he was in the RAF and called quickly into service, you can see where this is going I am sure, then killed in action early on in the fighting. She never again looked at another or even considered marrying as her one true love had been and gone.
Is that not both heart achingly beautiful as well as heart breakingly sad. To be so in love and devoted that even though still very young another love was not going to be on the cards. She was well into her nineties when she died.
Then back to work today where I was expecting a work colleague to be working with me but I noticed he was a little late "Probably just the traffic" I thought. Shortly after I was informed that he had been knocked off of his motorbike on the way in and did I know his next of kin because you see his wife passed away only a few weeks ago after 40 odd years together. Of course we headed to the hospital to help him out as any decent human would do but how much bad luck can one bloke have?
It hit me yesterday whilst I had some very rare time alone on my long drive in busy traffic back from Oxford just how lucky I am. My kids are all doing well even if a couple of them are still finding their way (I am still looking for mine!) they are healthy happy warm and well fed. I am in the process buying a house that only a year ago I would never of thought I would be able to own it really ticks all of the boxes on what we wanted. But most of all I have a fantastic Wife that I really do not ever give enough credit to. Quite frankly dear reader I don't deserve her but for some reason she chose me when she could have had a choice of a lot more than what she settled for. She doesn't ask for much from me just the odd hug, some time together oh and most of my wages but we can forgive her that as she uses it to run the house with.
So I want to take the chance to say to you all just stop, stop right now stop everything you are doing. Take a deep breath and look around you right now but do it slowly, put the worries to one side and start with thinking about the roof over your head, then the food in your belly and finally the people around that love you. Give them a big hug and be happy that they are part of your life.
Soppy? Yea a bit but life passes so quickly and is over in a heartbeat. Seize as much of it as you can and Wifey when you read this..well, you already know that I love you.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, February 06, 2016 18:26:00 Well nearly a week since I last had the chance to put pen to paper dear reader but with good reason you see I have been more than a little busy. With the offer on the house accepted we applied on-line for the mortgage we had already researched on Sunday evening and got the Mortgage in principle approved...phew. That was the first step but many more followed over the course of a couple of days for getting things into motion, the survey was quickly booked along with solicitors instructed on our behalf so by the time Friday rolled around the survey was complete and the solicitors talking to each other along with all of those searches being ordered.
No doubt this all costs so I hope it all falls into place easily as we are digging into the savings at an already alarming rate! Wifey has realised that she can have the house in any sort of way she wants as it will be ours to own and not rented so judging by the pictures she keeps showing me I am going to be more than a little busy for at least the next three years! So fingers crossed that all goes well but after this initial flurry of action the waiting game will start whilst all of those searches come slowly rolling back in.
Now you see that would be enough to be going on with for any normal sane person but oh no not me because I do enjoy a challenge. Remember me talking about the fact that I would like to be a motorbike instructor at some point...on top of my normal stupid number of hours a week job...oh and moving house...as well as rebuilding a Land Rover 110...doing that new house up....as well as then writing about it all dealing with the new book in progress and trying to promote them all at the same time? Well I have started that!
I spoke to a couple of training schools and was extensively cross interrogated by a couple who own a bike school called Think Bike Training here in Nottingham. I liked their ethos of work along with their attitude towards training and for some reason they seemed to like me (poor buggers have not a clue I am still being reserved and nice) so it was all agreed for me to come back to have a go seeing what I could tie from my current training role into this one.
To say I am enjoying it is an understatement it is a real challenge again but in a good way because I am teaching on something I really like doing. Today was my second session on becoming good enough to do the first stage of my training alone which is CBT training and of course I managed to cock it up a touch as well as making myself look a little daft. The off road sections were not much of a problem just the odd nudge in the right direction on a piece of information I had omitted then it was onto the road with the student. There was me thinking at this point I was just going to sit back and enjoy the ride but nope Barry (one of the instructors) was having none of that as he handed me a helmet and radio with a smirk along with the instructions "You can do the talking"
That woke me up a bit. Not only did I jump on an unfamiliar bike that needed me to push a button when I wanted to talk to the student (I will freely admit here to talking to myself a few times in my helmet as we rode along before remembering to push that button but don't tell anyone) but after that bit of the ride I had to get out in front to do a verbal demonstration section (using that button again...sometimes) at which point I thought that was all he wanted me to do so I ignored the student completely for 15 minutes because he was behind me between the two of us...wrong of course on a bike but completely normal in a truck when you do it with the student sat next to you...hands up on bit of a cock up there!
Overall though good progress was made on all fronts so hopefully a few more sessions will see me in good stead as a better as well as certified (not that way) trainer on bikes and I will keep you all updated, if I remember to watch the students of course...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, January 23, 2016 17:18:55 As I have said before my eldest daughter has bought a little 125cc scooter that was registered in 2012 then parked up from new until now. This now has an MOT on it is insured and taxed so this morning I took her to an abandoned car park to give her a riding lesson on it.
I will not name her directly as this may embarrass her but anyone who knows Jade will be pleased to see her progress from today. She was a little bit nervous with the scooter to begin with but we both approached this like Teacher and student so as not to get the "Daaaaaaaaaaaaad" whine in and for me not to lose my rag with her too quickly as my daughter. So after a wobbly start she was off riding up and down the car park stopping when asked no problem at all.
Then it came to manoeuvres like the figure of eight driving as well as junctions from both approaches and to both of our surprise she took to these no problem at all! Two hours we were out there in the car park with Jade stopping for people walking through with their dogs or the in the one case a lost car looking for a long closed down store.
To say I am impressed with her is an understatement so she is booked in for her CBT later this week so fingers crossed. Now I had to ride the scooter to the car park and back and what a tool I felt like! A burly bloke kitted up in all of his protective gear sat atop a tiny bike getting some strange looks from passers by as I was going no faster than 30mph because the bike did not want to hopefully due to the fact the petrol tank is full of old fuel that I did not think to change. I could not get a picture of this thankfully but I did deliver the bike to the CBT company on the way home ready for her to have a go next week and they are going to drain the fuel out and replace it for me. If you were stuck behind me on the ring road early this afternoon I do apologise!
I have taken a video of her riding it was quite early on in the session and she rumbled me pretty quickly even though I thought I was being pretty sneaky...turns out I would not be a very good spy!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 22, 2016 13:42:27 As I sat eating my lunch after such a strenuous morning the postman unceremoniously dumped a few parcels through the door. Now this is not unusual as my darling daughters seem to keep Ebay afloat with the junk they buy on there and indeed there were a few packages from far flung countries but just one had my name on it.
Now before Christmas I was looking for a steering wheel cover on-line for the Discovery because the back of the steering wheel itself has not fared well over it's nearly 200,000 mile life.
Each time I touch it I think of all the other peoples grimy hands that have been on there causing it to wear out so badly, well either wear out or react with...jeez I think I am going to be sick. You may have guessed by now that I am a bit of a germ freak and I needed something to fit on there that covers all of those nasty bugs up, well the package for me in the post today was my nice new steering wheel cover.
I opened the wrapping to find it sat there complete with sewing needle and cotton...hang on needle and cotton?? Right then looks like I am doing a bit of sewing I mean I have been playing with a welder all week so what could go wrong?
I eagerly got to the Disco and offered it up to wrap around the wheel but it was at least 5 inches too short! Now this does not surprise me at all because the only other thing I have bought from another country was a spare wheel cover and this too came up small so why this did not cross my mind when I ordered this I don't know! Not to be beaten when I was so close from being away from the nastiness of the steering wheel that has had me wearing gloves when driving it since I have owned it ( I am not that mad honest the Doctor said I was fine) I just cut the cover and decided to sew on what I had for now until I bought something else after pay day.
Well it has been many many years since I have had to sew anything but a button and this soon showed with me getting the cotton tied up in knots, caught on all of the levers it could find and sewing my thumb up with a practically blunt needle...twice.
The finished product though well what a sight to behold it was! No seriously what a sight it was I mean a blindfolded toddler peeling a banana could have done a better job than me!
I am not convinced that it will even stay on but I managed to use all of the thread so fingers crossed for now. Hopefully it will come off quicker than it went on.
Here's another v-log/vlog I need something to call these thing as well. Feel free to rip me apart because that cover is just well.....
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 22, 2016 11:31:20 The rain came hard and fast about twenty minutes after I woke up this morning and Wifey asked "What are you going to do all day today then?"
"I will find something" was my reply.
I am not averse to a bit of weather so once I had finished doing a couple of chores around the house I threw the dog into the Disco sent Wifey a text telling I was off to the riverside to which she replied "Only you would not let the weather get in the way of what you want to do" and do you know what she is quite right!
As I drove towards Hoveringham with my daft dog whimpering with barely self controlled excitement in the back I cast my mind back to a conversation I had had with one of my offspring about v-logs or vlogs or some other stupid name they called videos of yourself put up on the internet saying interesting things.
Now being a chap who has many many interesting things to say I thought to myself "I should have a stab at this so once I got out of the Disco with the dog running around the riverside like a loony I set to trying to figure out how to use my phone like a big boy and set it to video (see I still use retro words like video instead of film so I am certainly very interesting in my mind and not a forty something embarrassing Dad at all) and this quickly ended up with me taking a picture of myself looking directly up my own nostrils.
Ha! I had now turned the camera on so I was half way there. Now all I had to do with the rain starting to really hammer down well more sideways really was to turn it to video... This I figured out in ten short minutes and I made a little film clip all of my own...
As you can see the cinematic experience is astounding along with my verbal diarrhoea I mean commentary and the positioning of the microphone so it catches the wind just right obscuring my voice completely!
So at this point I felt like a grown up with hacker like skills it was like watching the old film War Games but condensed to my mobile phone, hmm if only I could time travel back and show off my super modern technology but knowing my luck I would just be arrested then tortured and dissected on suspicion of being an alien. But such thoughts were short lived as I remembered that these on-line V-log vlog whatever people video'd themselves. This was the start of another five minutes of me trying to figure out how I took that photo of myself and my nostrils earlier again.
Now not to blow my own trumpet or anything I managed to do it whilst walking in the rain and simultaneously not falling into the river but I am bloody sure the old bloke in the second clip is not me because I am young and dashingly handsome and dear people I do not sound like that!
I don't know who that fella is but we will let him stay for now. The dog then decided that she was no where near smelly wet or muddy enough so she started to jump in and out of the river, a quick bit of fumbling (steady..) and I had the video camera facing the right way around again to capture this priceless moment to bore you all with...
You watched it didn't you...go on admit it it's ok I wont tell anyone...as long as you paypal me a fiver a week for the rest of my days that is ;) Nah don't worry about it I would have watched it as well.
I really had taken the Discovery and have a picture to prove it...
I bloody love that motor I really do and I have not the foggiest idea why? It was supposed to be a winter car that would be disposed of in a few months but each and every time I drive it it brings a big smile to my face. Early onset something gone wrong with my head maybe? or the Land Rover bug has got me harder than I thought.
So there you have it av-log vlog thing-ish. Maybe I could do one when I am buggering about under the 110 but I am not sure if I could work all of those fancy touch screen button things in the right order with a welder in my right hand...
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, January 01, 2016 17:03:27 It is no great secret that I don't really booze any more, I think we all have a finite amount of boozing in us and I used most of mine up by the time I was 40 and these days I enjoy a drink or two rather than a skinfull because any more than that and I have a hangover for days! So you can imagine New Years Eve holds no great appeal for going out and partying as there is nothing worse than being sober amongst a crowd of people how are rather merry. The last two years has seen me staying at home away from the crowds then getting to bed trying to sleep through all of the fireworks and text messages but this year I decided that I wanted to do something a little different.
I unexpectedly got New Years Day off of work which has never happened before so the plan was to get up very early and drive from Nottingham to the Peak District, climb Mam Tor and watch the first dawn and sunrise of the first day of 2016. Much to my surprise Wifey agreed to come as well so we did indeed get up way before the Larks chucked the dog into the boot of the car, she was particularly up for an early walk which was another surprise because she is really lazy and normally just looks at you like you are stupid if you try to get her up in the dark, then drove up to the base of Mam tor. The dawn was just breaking in the east so we jumped out of the car chucked on warm clothes and started to climb. There where a surprising amount of other folk waking and climbing all looking to see the sunrise so I was not as original as I thought. When I say other folk there was about another ten spread out over two peaks so we were in no way bothering each other and most of them were proper photographers.
We found a spot between the peaks and watched the sun come up which was just astounding and amazingly was Wifeys first ever sunrise! If you have never seen a sunrise make the effort one day it is fantastic!
The plan was to do some serious hiking once the day had broken but do you know that nasty diarrhoea bug that's doing the rounds? Well turns out it was my turn with a chronic stomach ache I thought I could walk off and I as doing ok until Wifey slipped over on the frozen flag stones and we decided to turn back to wards the car. It was a few minutes after this that the wind arrived in a howling freezing gale and it seemed someone wanted to get off of the hillside as soon as possible...so we did.
It is amazing how quickly you can find somewhere that is open and has a toilet you can use when you think that within the next few minutes you will have to sit on the dogs towels to get home! That issue solved we took a steady drive through Derbyshire had a cheeky cooked breakfast out because now I was bloody starving hungry then headed home.
Being back home by lunchtime meant I could do a few little jobs on the Discovery that were building up the main one being replacing the Brake vacuum pump. This has been ticking away merrily since a few days after buying the Disco and needed to be sorted before I was happy driving it any sort of distance and I have not actually changed one before today. It really is a straight forward job! I thought I would be battling bolts out of the engine but nope they all undone easily enough and within minutes the old broken pump was out and the old gasket removed. This is not the most easily accessible part it has to be said especially if you are a short arse like myself and the best way to get to it is with a small step ladder then lying along the wing with your knee near the battery so you have no fear of falling off of the edge! What a sight I must have been and I had to get down twice to wish the neighbours who were passing with smirks on their faces to wish them a happy new year! The replacement pump dropped in with the new gasket just as easily as the old one had come out and a quick test drive to check everything was ok proved that all was well as well as the brake now working much better.
This was all achieved using my new socket set as well, there is nothing like that feeling when you get to play with your new toys! Then it was onto supervising my youngest daughter doing a few bits to her project scooter while I heated and peeled the old plastic coating off of the nudge bar that came with the Disco because it was cracked and coming away in places. I want to get this treated and fitted back on quite quickly because it has a couple of good recovery points built into it. Although I do not want to be off roading the Disco in any major way I would like to partake in some old git gentle green laning and as such will just do a few gentle additions to the old boy.
The doors did opened on the 110 to get some tools out but by the time I had done everything else I was loosing the light of the day so called this first day of the year quits for outside playing.
It is going to be a busy year this one with all we have planned and I aim to fill everyday! I wish you all dear readers a Happy New Year may it be prosperous and I truly hope you all enjoy it in whatever way you have planned :)
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, December 27, 2015 09:28:15 Well I am trying to get my head around this online twittering and book promotion nonsense...it makes my head hurt...I'm going outside to play with the Land Rovers instead.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Wed, December 23, 2015 20:53:28 Well now it is all up and running with the niggles sorted out I can tell you all I have a new book out available at Amazon in paperback as well as a Kindle edition.
The book is called "New York New York A 3 Day Whirlwind Tour" and is funnily enough a short travel story/guide/travel thing. It is written in my usual take the mickey out of myself style as well as general musings of the city itself.
So for less than a quid for the Kindle edition it is worth a punt, the paperback comes in under four pounds and I have kept the coatings as low as possible on purpose as well as releasing it just in time for all of the Holiday adverts to hit the TV channels nationwide on Christmas Day!
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, December 12, 2015 14:49:14 Well it has finally happened they say it comes to us all in time but I never thought that that day would ever truly arrive for me but today my friends it has come. Gone are the heady care free days of having no fear of falling down along with not noticing nor caring what the weather is doing outside. The wind rain sleet and even snow used to be no more than an irritant at most but over the last twelve months now I look back it seems these things have been bothering me more and more so much to the extent that I have hung up my helmet the coat is folded and put away into a box and my gloves left out to dry one last time you see dear reader I have become a fair weather rider.
Bring on the laughter bring on the ribbing because I do not care at all if you do (this seems to be another positive of growing older) I now like to be comfortable and warm and not in fear of my life from slipping off of my big in the wet and cold and icy conditions. Nope bugger that for a game of soldiers the bike is getting one more proper clean then going into storage for the winter to be sold off in the spring and replaced with another sports tourer. I will not spend another winter freezing my fingers off or peeling a frozen cover from my bike in the early hours of the morning I am at most going to scrape the ice off of the windscreen if that I may just go out ten minutes earlier fire up the engine and let the heaters do their job so I have a toasty motor to get into. Yes I will have to sit in traffic a bit more but this I do not mind I shall stick on some nice tunes to listen to instead of just hearing the wet wind whistle through my helmet!
You see folks I have bought myself a new toy. The 110 is going to take some time to get sorted with this winter weather we have so another plan had to be hatched. MY long suffering Wife listened patiently to my, I thought, brilliant reasoning why I needed another car of my own then sighed looked at our banking (she does all that stuff I am useless in fact we would have a fleet of Land Rovers on the driveway if I looked after the money and no food in the cupboard's) and agreed a meagre budget I could play with. This was a couple of weeks ago and with the budget I had I knew it was to be a challenge as to what I could buy so I waited and I looked and I found lots of rotten scrap. I waited some more as well as enlisting the help of some friends who then started to look for me too passing on their findings on an almost hourly basis. Still there was nothing around worth driving in this well under a thousand pound budget. I hunted high and low even making myself bored of the process if I am honest (this is highly unusual for me I love buying cars!) then another glimmer of hope came up. I went to see not expecting much due to 197000 mileage on it but I was pleasantly surprised. It drove well enough the gearbox seems good and the interior bar the standard hole in the drivers seat is quite pleasant. There is some heavy welding on the chassis but although it looks ugly it is sound. It sits on some boost alloys (I think) has an MOT until August next year so apart from a service it's a get in it and drive job through the winter months!
There is also a bull/nudge bar in the boot that needs refitting so that's a bonus! It is staying standard though because once the 110 is done this Disco will be up for sale again but at least now I get to stay dry and warm over the winter commute to work and the 110 can have a more leisurely rebuild to a high standard rather than having to rush it. What a nice early Christmas present!
Don't you love it when you have been working at stupid o'clock for a
few weeks so when the weekend arrives your body wakes you up bright
and early even if you fancy having a bit of a lie in! I have just
heard my neighbour get in from work, he's a taxi driver, and I am
sitting here wondering how early I can get away with making noise on
the driveway working on the landy best leave that a while just yet.
So I thought I would take the time to put together a quick follow up
on my last post “A Little Bit Broken” where I tried to explain
how it feels to suffer from depression which is pretty bloody
difficult to do but I tried none the less so that others would know
they are not alone and so that everyone else might get a look into
what their friends and loved ones feel like and go through.
The response to that entry has taken me by surprise in fact it has
blown my mind (if you would excuse the pun).
There were a few comments on line in public by those who were happy
to do so but the response via messaging and email directly to me was
incredible. I had no idea how many people out there fight their own
battles on a daily basis (it's a lot more common than you realise!)
and what surprised me was that folk kept calling me brave I even had
one not so nice message calling me an attention seeker. Lets get
something straight here I am not brave folks I just wanted to explain
the feeling out to others who had no idea what goes on in the mind of
those who struggle with it and as for being an attention seeker well
no I am afraid I am not in fact I am quite happy to plod along with
no one noticing me at all in fact if I won the lottery I would buy a
house in the middle of nowhere away from the world but and this is
aimed at the person who sent me that particular email at least sir I
have the bollocks to stand up and say what I mean publicly without
hiding behind an anonymous email address. A true keyboard warrior he
was and there has been no other response since from him and I only
give him space here to show what pillocks the world can hold. Here
we have another brave soul ho hides online calling people he doesn't
know names via a disposable email address on a subject they know
nothing about. He was probably about twelve as well ;)
So all I wanted to say publicly to reiterate to those folks that
asked is yes feel free to copy share and do as you please with what I
wrote before that is the reason I wrote it and put it up online. If
it helps a few folks out that is all good with me.
As for everyone else that messaged/mailed me and to those that did
not don't hide yourselfs or what you battle with if you can away,
worry not what others might think because your battle is hard enough
as it is try to cut away just that one piece of extra baggage and if
you cannot do that don't worry about it either it's your battle your
storm to get through and your climb to make. No one else can make
your climb but when that storm is at it's worse use your strength to
just hold on that's all you need to do then when the winds ease you
can focus on heading upwards once again.
If you have any questions about it (there have been a few) feel free
to ask away I am happy to answer.
wasn't going to put this up doubt creeped back into my head again on
what people would think but that is the problem from the start with
the subject and I am not one to shy away from a challenge or hide who
I am. There was a brief thought of “What if people judge me on
this” well you know what what if they do? It won't make any big
difference in my life apart from showing me who my friends are. I do
feel selfish for feeling this way from time to time I know people who
are facing much bigger challenges but those people know I will do
anything for them I will do anything I can to help them out any time
they ask...they know I love them! They show a strength of character
that is indeed a rarity these days and are an example to us all.
bugger it here it is warts and all...
have talked about depression before but only touched on the subject
very briefly but what I said about it still being a taboo subject in
Britain was true. It is still looked upon as a weakness but I can
assure you dear reader that could not be further from the truth it
takes great strength to get through a bout of it strength that you do
not realise you have and strength that you truly believe you do not
person that suffers from it will find their own way of dealing with
the coping mechanisms that over time help you cross back to feeling
something close to normal. One of mine I am sure you wont be
surprised to hear is writing. I have not published much about my
fight not due to the fact I am embarrassed by it but because I have
been lucky enough to be the right side of dark clouds for many years
now so have not found the need to or had a great deal to say on the
subject from the first persons point of view which has been good for
me! These days I can see the signs in myself that the clouds are
gathering so I exercise a bit more rest up well and keep away from
electronics until the storm passes in a day or two once again
returning my life back to my normal.
are times though when this is not enough and I am in one of those
times as I write is. Exercise has not helped me nor has reading this
is just sometimes the case there are times when the clouds gather and
regardless of what shelter you try to make the storm just grows and
sucks you in. Others that suffer from this will be able to relate
but I am trying to put it into words for those that seek foresight
and maybe want to try to understand what it feels like for a loved
one or friend that goes through it.
I write this evening the storm pulled me in a couple of days ago and
even though I can still function (as most people do!) it takes all of
my strength to get through the day hiding how I feel from work
friends and colleagues. Wifey of course knows because when I get
home I just slip back into myself as I try to heal my head and this
is the worst part for me seeing the worry in her eyes that the really
bad early days when this first ever hit me nearly loosing myself in
the process because I had no idea what was going on along with zero
coping mechanisms in place let alone much of an idea of how I got so
broken so quickly will one day return again. I wrote a piece back
then over 12 years ago that when I read it through now it makes me
shudder how lost that I was and scares me how self destructive I
felt. Maybe in time I will put that out there for folk to see but not
yet it really was my mind on a sheet of paper it's really the raw
mind of a broken me. That was the first and thankfully the worse
time that took a couple of years of anti depressants to get me back
onto the right path once again, nothing since has been on that level
but it still scares me that sometimes like right now I cannot control
how does it feel? I have already talked about the storm clouds that
develop to suck you up and into the chaos they cause but that's just
the beginning once you have been pulled into the storm the noise
inside your head can be so loud it's deafening and just after that I
feel that I am slipping down into a deep ravine sized rut sliding
down it's steep sides grasping for a hand hold as the ground keeps
passing through my fingers but I have managed to snag a hand hold
right now I always do at some point. As I lay on my stomach pressed
against this cliff face clinging onto the fragile handhold I have
managed to secure I always manage to look up and see how far I have
slid. Why would I want to know how far I have crashed down? Because
for me I now know how far I have left to climb back out again and
compared to how deep the raving below me is I always know deep inside
I could have slipped much further I have been there before I know
it's depths and thankfully I have never hit the bottom...I would
never want to. So here I cling in full knowledge of the climb that
lies ahead but even though I know where to go and how high to climb
it can take time to gather the strength to start the trek upwards.
The biggest problem can be the baggage I am carrying.
don't know what exactly triggered me this time there is nothing wrong
in my life. I am a big fan of figuring out my triggers I do know
them well most of the time and looking back over the last few weeks I
have fought off a nasty virus that hit me harder than anything has
for over ten years add to that long hours at work a new project on
the driveway and doing too much too quickly not giving myself enough
time to recover physically from that bug I suppose I have pretty much
hit the nail on the head whilst writing it all out...see this works
for me quite well.
irony of it all is you create the baggage that tries to pull you
deeper into the ravine. You doubt yourself not just in the normal
way we do it but you literally start to destroy yourself about the
choices you are making or have made. All your mistakes come back to
haunt you the things you could have done better for the ones you love
the decisions you made that had a negative impact on life. Why did
you buy that car ten years ago that broke down? why didn't you give
that person a bit more time instead of cutting them short? Where was
your patience when the kids needed you to talk? Why are you just
sitting here not communicating with anyone else who loves you that
are sitting in the same room? Why are you so damned tired? Why are
you so damned weak just look at yourself...why would anyone love you?
Most of it nonsense. What about the good you have done with your
life? You cannot see that when you are clinging to the cliff face
with a mountain to climb ahead of you.
falls away in the end though and if you are reading this suffering
from storm take solace in the words from someone who joins you more
often than he likes but not as bad as he once did...the baggage falls
and the storm does indeed pass but you have to keep moving both
literally and mentally. You have to put one foot in front of the
other when all you want to do is hide in bed until the sun doesn't
come up ever again. You have to keep moving it really does wonders in
the end. Walk around then get dressed and go outside and walk around
some more. Do it each day it doesn't have to be far but you have to
move because when you do you start to climb back up the ravine the
baggage starts to fall away one piece at a time. You are going to
miss a hand hold every now and then taking a bit of a slip back down
now that's scary as hell but you have already caught hold again so
will not be quick there is no set timeline even for you when you have
climbed this face before because it lives and moves around each time
you slip onto it but that doesn't matter because the baggage changes
but the climb always remains. That is your normal you are not weak
because you need to climb again oh no you have a strength so deeply
ingrained in you to cope that you know exactly where you are you are
on that cliff face again with a long climb ahead but you have climbed
it before you know the way is up and you know what holds you back
just keep moving. You have climbed back in the past and it took a
strength you didn't know you had but this time around you are one up
on before because now even though it doesn't feel like it right now
you know deep inside you have that strength you need after all you
are already holding onto the cliff face refusing to slip down any
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sun, October 25, 2015 07:04:12 If you are already up wondering why the time checks on the radio and TV news are wrong it's because they are not my friend but you are. The clocks went back last night giving everybody an extra hours sleep an added lie in bed if you will. Doesn't always work though does it folks? As I lay in bed looking at the clock that was telling me it was 04:48 which felt like a lifetime had passed since I had last looked at 04:43 I got to thinking and remembering about all of the other years I had done this and what takes exactly bugger all notice of the clock change.
The kids for example when they are younger care not a jot about the extra hour you want in bed oh no they are working on internal body clocks only and still come bounding into your bedroom full of beans at 5am. It brought a smile to my face recalling mine doing that exact thing and how I would just hold up my duvet cover saying come in into our bed for a bit which the kids thought was an extra special treat as they piled into any gap they could find between me and Wifey with ice cold feet from running from room to room then snuggling down for some extra cuddle time. I loved those peaceful few minutes with my whole world cuddled up close under a warm Duvet on what always seemed to be a chilly morning realising how lucky I was that they were all healthy and that I could provide enough for them to be dressed and fed...then the little buggers would ruin it all by waking up again full of beans messing around and insisting on breakfast at 05:30.
There are a resident all year round pigeons that live on my roof and they couldn't care about what we stupid humans had done to the clocks as they started cooing just as the sun started to break the horizon. My dog when she was younger would start patrolling at what to her was her normal time waiting for me to let her out for her morning call and would start "Talking" to me through the door if I wasn't up quick sharp how times have changed from that perspective because she is an old woman now who would rather stay in bed until my 15 year old decides its time to surface from her pit regardless of the hour! I don't hear any more early morning grumping from her any more.
So what to do with this extra hour dear reader? Well I am up with a cup of tea in hand the radio on quietly in the background enjoying the snails pace of a relaxing early Sunday morning while the rest of the house still sleeps...that will do nicely for now.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Sat, October 10, 2015 19:34:07 We all know that life moves in one big circle but lets face it none of us really believe that it will happen to us because in our minds we are all perpetually still in our mid twenties where time stopped moving and where we will all forever be. Today life showed me in no uncertain that this is not true and now that I have entered my "meaning of life" year, 42, that it is time that I opened my eyes and admitted the truth to myself. You see I got up early and headed off to see my middle daughter down in London at her university for the day.
She is studying to be a Midwife and living in halls with other medical studenty types and my money today was to be used to buy important things like food that all 18 year olds seem to forget they need to get by. When I was 18 I was studying to be a Nurse but I royally buggered that up but I did enjoy my time in halls accommodation surrounded by young student nurses and midwifes but that's a story for another day. So we headed off to the nearest Morrisons to stock up on a few weeks supplies and once back in her dorm kitchen drinking a decent cup of coffee watching her put her food stocks away one of her young hall mates came in and they started having a chat eventually introducing little old me who was sat in the corner and up to this point going unnoticed... "Oh yea and this is my Dad, Dad this is whateverhernamewas"
Dad...I just bought all of the food...I was checking the whole place from the tube station to the Uni for signs of trouble or what could be hot spots...I had just checked her room and bathroom over for problems for me to get sorted out...I was quietly getting info on her financial status making sure she was going to be ok until Christmas when I next saw her...I was already planning on topping up her oyster travel card before leaving so she wouldn't have to walk anywhere after dark...oh bugger I am the parent here arnt I. How the hell did that happen??????
So it has hit home I am no longer in my teens in fact I am no longer in my mid twenties in fact dear reader I am in my early forties a parent to four children who are all growing quicker than I thought possible and it seems I have now taken my place as the sensible grown up Dad where the consideration of my children should be put first without a me realising it but my physical age is just in years because I will forever be 26 in my head!
For anyone who was daft enough to buy my first book I thank you! Turns out folk are still buying it from time to time in fact there are a few more copies sold each month which continues to surprise me but seeing as the original was about a Landy rebuild maybe it shouldn't because most of the landy folk I have met including myself are a bit nuts wink emoticon There are a couple of updates for you all very shortly so please keep your eyes peeled for what should hopefully more publications about "The Project Has Landed..." and I am fast working towards the completion of my next book which will be titled "My CV".
My CV is a complete mick take upon myself about the ridiculous number of jobs I have held over the years how I adjusted my cv to match what I was applying for as well as a look at how much things have changed in attitudes to life and what was and no longer are acceptable practices...the things we all used to get away with are astounding now looking back! SO dear readers I am afraid I am not done writing my inane drivel just yet and I may make you smile a bit more before I am done..
As I lay in the bath this
evening relaxing in the hot water after another long day when I came
around to reflecting about you all. Now this in itself is not an
unusual thing for me to do you all are in my thoughts at some point
every day but today it hit home the different paths all of you have
The directions you all
head in are of your own choosing not mine or your mothers this is
exactly as it should be. Today I saw you all as the adults you are
becoming truly for the first time I saw your personalities from your
first words to how you are now along with what you will all become.
I see your laughter
your light your highs and your lows. I recall the rough times you
had the growing pains stumbling to discover yourselves and your
paths. I remember watching you fall and picking you up sitting back
to let you make your own mistakes even though I knew how they would
turn out because I have done them but the right of passage demands
you would not listen to me so these same mistakes were yours to make
too. I saw your laughter and your love.
I saw how different you
all are and I love that the most because somewhere along the line I
along with your mother did something really right because you have
all chosen who you want to be.
I realised I must let
you all go. Your lives are yours to lead as you see fit but I will
keep in the odd guiding hand. I will always be waiting at the end of
the phone if you need to call me I will always come to support you
when you do. I am truly proud of you all deep down to the core of
my soul and I tell you this because I love you all so very much as
I know you all know
this but it hit me so hard today I just had to tell you again.
MusingsPosted by Nicky Smith Fri, August 21, 2015 21:13:01 <iframe src="http://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/?action=getcert&e=1&pid=3&cn=293427648880" width="750" height="307" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe>
I am now a forty something who has come through most of my mid-life crisis trying to cheat death by now eating healthy foods exercising more and stopping smoking....I doubt this will work seeing as I have abused (no not in that way) my body with booze smokes and doing sod all for couple of decades or so but hey I feel a bit less mental for trying it!
So instead I rebuilt a Series 3 Land Rover, then a Discover, after that A Defender 110 and now I have decided to head more towards enjoying my outdoor pursuits. In comfort. Yep there will now be a campervan build in progress (as soon as I can find a decent base) for myself and the ever suffering Wifey to head out i ...see there is still some joy to be found in life!
I hope you enjoy my rambling drivel and if you do please feel free to share it around using the cunningly disguised "Share" menu at the bottom of each post I believe it does Facewipe, Twitter and those other places all the cool kids hang out in indoors now a days.