About Alison

A feisty mother earth type, who wants to look out for the little guy, used to do this more hands on until I “Burnt out”. Now moved to the country for a quiet life and create a more healthy stress free environment for myself. Love country life, Family, Friends, Horses and Dogs. I also love writing/chatting and connecting with others. Please join in on my chats here or on my other blogs, http://heyhoneyigotanidea.blogspot.co.uk/ which tracks our move to an old cottage in the Forest of Dean and http://talesofamiddleagednovice.blogspot.co.uk/ which follows my efforts to learn to ride horses in my 50s! or just follow me on Twitter and I will follow you back (if you are a real person) on @alisonbarton1. Enjoy and talk to me.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

In your groove? Or stuck in a rut?

I now have an abundance of a commodity, which once was rare for me and still is for many, and that is time. Precious and fleeting for those with hectic careers and families to raise as a pensioner (very young I might add!). At last I am the master of my own destiny . Or am I?

New Year is a time to reflect and make changes, so I did and I find my life although less hectic is on examination quite regimented. I walk the dog most days between the same times, on the same walk. I meet the same people along the way, we generally make the usual comments on the weather and so on. I love riding and I ride on the same days of the week generally at the same times with the same people. I do my housework on the days I don’t ride. I still find myself shopping on Saturdays, even though I could shop any day of the week which would be quieter, I hear you time poor shoppers complaining now, cursing why the likes of us don’t clear the aisles for you on the only day you can shop. We eat Dinner at seven, I phone my sister on a Tuesday, I get my laptop out after lunch and watch the same old tv soaps each week.

stuck in a rut?
Why? Oh Why? I hear you ask well I am asking that myself. When I hated the routine of work life so much catching the same train sitting opposite the same people dealing with the same BS every day, why have I now created my own rituals and routine?

The answer comes sharply into focus today when I gave my kitchen a good “bottoming” after the Christmas festivities, changed the beds and mopped the floors. It felt good to get back to my “ Normal.” All this eating big dinners in the middle of the day, falling asleep watching old films in the afternoon, being nice to the family and entertaining folk!
 well it discombobulated me.

In her groove!
I can quite happily say I like my routine and I guess the difference between being in a rut or in your groove, is choice, so I have created my own groove and its comfy and it suits me. Freefalling can be real scary so we are all probably happier with  routine.So I hope that you can find more time to do what you want and perhaps more importantly  like what you do, more, so you get in the groove too.

Happy New Year,


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

When does a brainwave give you a pain in your bottom?

The other day I found myself yielding to an argument that withholding child benefit for any more than 2 children , in a family was a good idea. Sunday morning politic shows were discussing the brainwave of some well positioned MP, of how to reduce the benefit bill. The arguments included extolling the virtues of good parents, and that to be a parent you need to be responsible? “Of course”, I agree. Families should be planned?” Ideally, yes”. Furthermore if people can’t support their own children then they shouldn't have them, well I suppose so.

I must be honest initially, I almost swallowed it whole, images of enormous families gorging on the fated calf, plumped up by us hard working plebeians, filled my head.. The thought of rich family lives of leisure enabled by an outdated socialist phenomena, made me feel that this initiative was a responsible approach to encouraging moderation with regard to family planning.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my derriere, I felt well and truly shafted. The imagery was clear, the negative connotations of large families and the inference that you were either a good guy or a slimy parasite, made my skin crawl.

Life and our journey through it is not so simple or predictable, if only it was then we could all choose good parents to bring us up in appropriately sized families with supportive extended family members to guide and nurture both our parents and us. Our parents would be happily married, stay together work hard and get well paid, never get ill or die prematurely, from disease or accident. They would never leave us and never fail to cope with the array of demands on them. Our parents would never get made redundant, fail to make progress in their career and would never have anything but perfectly formed children, who would follow a prescribed path and not need any special care or attention, which would distract our parents from their main job to provide for us.

Family life is not simple and a civilized society is, surely one which acts as that extended family and looks out for the ones that fall by the wayside and need a leg up. We all have choices and yes we can say, your bed you lie in it, but what sort of world would that be and what sort of society, not one fit for any child, me thinks.

Alison x

Saturday, 30 June 2012

What’s good about minding your own business?

Has social networking given us a useful tool to help others or is it just a modern way to be nosy?

After the second world war there was a lot of temporary housing, ”prefabs” which became permanent and lasted well into the 70s. As a young couple my parents lived in one. Some of theses groups of little corrugated iron bungalows were built in the strangest of places, away from existing streets or bomb sites. One in particular was a settlement of twenty or so built on a large traffic island in the middle of a small town, surrounded by traffic and shops; it was a whorl of activity of coming and going.

I am not sure how people were allocated these homes if they were neighbours moved  en bloc or initially strangers to each other. It didn’t take long, though for everyone’s routines to be known to one another the walls were thin and the paths crisscrossed under bedroom windows. The little gardens were usually kept tidy and colourful but they too were small and there was nowhere to hide. Family life therefore was very much exposed for all to witness, the highs and the lows. There was still a mixture of cultural responses to “trouble”, some felt what went on was private , but somehow disapproval of certain goings on hovered ever ready and acted as a moderator in some cases and a safety network in others. Domestic violence is a fairly new term in a historical sense but it is something which has been around since the caveman. Tolerance of it and of child abuse has sensitised somewhat in the last 30 years, but I think people always had a bottom line which was not to be tolerated. Hitting children, quite harshly was acceptable, then,  after all. However in this tight, cheek by jowl existence there was something that united them and it became a practise as concern spread they would react spontaneously to a new event to protect  a vulnerable member of the neighbourhood , a child, a wife an elderly man, perhaps. Sometimes it involved nothing more than a crowd forming to oust the abuser once and for all and give a woman the confidence to shout “and don’t come back” and everyone would know. Other times rightly or wrongly more pressure was brought to bare to “reform” someone’s behaviour.

Crowds forming at incidents were common, people had no embarrassment of being right there in the thick of it and throwing in the odd challenging remark, buoyed by the presence of their neighbours. Then it seem to peter out and net curtain twitching was all we could muster and a surreptitious call to the authorities, in some ways this “nosy” behaviour became despised. We all moved into more insular lives, more cars, bigger shops, higher garden fences. We stopped looking and we stopped caring and it became somebody else’s responsibility, to look out for others.

Now social networking has brought us a new opportunity to spread the word when someone needs help and we have a tool we feel comfortable using to bring pressure to bare. There are bad things about technology and there will never be a replacement for a brave sole to step up and be counted and use their own physicality to protect someone.

But we have entered a new era where each and everyone one of us can make a difference and add our voices to others to raise the volume to be heard.  The following film is an example of how we can each be a voice for good. It is 30 mins long but it is so interesting and provoking,even if you don;t agree with this particular cause, you can see how each one of us can use technology for good.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What lurks beneath

 I sat and cried when I read an article about a woman who pays for her daughter’s spray tan every month as well as the services of a professional make- up artist. Not a big deal for some “wanna be” beauty queen, you might say, at least her Mom hasn’t got her a boob job yet!

No but the girl is only three years old.  The purpose of this expenditure is to prepare the little toddler for regular beauty pageants. By three you could describe her as an old hand after all she has been taking part in these pageants since she was ten months old.
 It’s  above board and organised, so what upsets me so much then? It's not the isolation from playful times and free spirited fun, no not necessarily  It's not how children involved in these pageants might be affected about their looks and what that means to how they are treated. 

No it’s the fact that the enhancements are to make the girls look like sexy little women. There is no getting away from that. The make up is adult in every way, pouting lips, thick eyeliner; the hair piled up and big, not a plait in sight. Even a swimwear section! Which is apparently this little girl’s favourite part and that’s why she loves her darker skin tone. Did she really figure that out all on her own, at three?
Parading Livestock

Girls are paraded for others to judge them whether they win or not what does that say to them, either she isn’t attractive enough to win despite all the effort, or that wearing all that make up is the only way she will get noticed. I can’t see any positive messages for any young girl let alone a mere toddler.

I am distressed about the fact that a whole industry is set up around the sexualisation of tiny children. This has the potential for changing some people’s perceptions of all children not just those taking part in the pageants.

How precious is innocence and how important is it that we,  as a society, protect our children from degrading and dangerous environments. Surely this must include firmly stamping out associations between children and sex.

How mothers and other adults try and justify their participation in this type of activity makes me gag. There is no justification for traipsing little girls around this circuit, as if by illustrating she has a moral handle on the whole debacle the mother, identifies that there is a line not to be crossed and she has kept her daughter on the right side adding she has not considered surgery or Botox!  
I wonder what is on the other side of that line, what dark and horrific place must that be? At least this mother and other parents who enter their daughters in these pageants are saving their children from that.

Stop child abuse now.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

No budgie smugglers for the men then?

How far have we women come on the journey towards full emancipation and standing on a “level playing field”. Well I suppose it all depends on what playing field you are standing on. If its Beach volley ball there seems to be a very obvious difference between the sexes that at first glance may seem petty and inconsequential. But like all these “small” issues, they have deep rooted negative insidious connotations for women, all women. Not just those interested in beach volley ball or sport generally.

Simultaneously because the matter seems mere “window dressing” anyone tempted to castigate the dress code, of the players and compare the glaring differences from a “sexist” point of view, runs the risk of being labelled, “hysterical” or extreme. Its just Beach volley ball for goodness sake?
Well call me what you like but let me ask just a few questions,(I'll make a stab at the answers too)
1Why do the ladies shorts need to be so brief,
Answer, perhaps because its “beach” volley ball stupid and they are playing on a beach. So it’s like they are wearing a bikini as if they have just started playing a game after a sunbathe
(Oh I see).

2. Its not long since Beach volley ball has been an approved Olympic sport so perhaps it looks startlingly modern and with it, but now it’s a serious sport right?
Answer, yeah right!

3. So there has to be a unified look a team strip and they came up with this for the all the ladies of the world? Are the ladies happy to wear such revealing and potentially easily wardrobe malfunctioning kit?
Answer, Of course they are just happy to be playing for their country and they look really happy don’t they?

4. Yes, but what responsibility do they have to make it more professionally appreciated for their skill and inspire other young women to take this up as a serious sport?
Answer, they are doing a great job, they get loads of attention,
 Serving in Beach Volleyball at Beijing 2008
5. You hardly see photos of the men’s team do you?
Answer No that’s true.

6.Don’t they want to look cool and get photographed and appeal to the masses to generate interest in the sport.
Answer,Well the girls seem to be doing that all on their own.

7. So no Budgie smugglers for the men then?

Answer, No way! what would that look like, ridiculous!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Equality in a Talent Show World!

Does success  mean stepping on others

I often have anxieties about whether society at large is manipulated intentionally by popular culture, to benefit a master plan. I find Feminism is under strain (yet again) and whilst I emphasise I am not an avid reader of feminist literature or ideals. I have my own base level of comprehension which is open for discussion of course.

It seems that not only is feminism becoming untrendy by young girls who feel they can make it on their own thank you very much, but equality per se is under attack.

The world goes round on an ability to feed and clothe itself, the majority look for their basic needs to be met whilst the greedy minority are encouraged to gain fortunes in enterprises because they act as the catalyst for the provision of the many. So the Tycoons are forgiven their opulent lifestyle because they provide the infrastructure for the ordinary guy to earn a crust.

To balance this of course we have seen any number of “protectionists” schemes introduced to ensure the “little guy” isn’t exploited. Fair Trade, minimum wage, hours of work directive,  health & Safety, human rights and so on. We are a caring world are we not? Through history there has always had to be a less important group of humans who need the work no other group should be asked to do. This has been a transient group as they form, through struggle into a force to be reckoned with.

Or can we be happy as one of the herd ?
So where has all this emancipation got us? The status quo seems alive and kicking doesn’t it?  Someone in a sweat shop somewhere has to make “stuff” cheap enough for us to buy it and make enough millionaires to keep the wheels of industry turning. If not why hasn’t exploitation been routed out?

Perhaps we have to accept in a small part of our guilt ridden brain, that we are natural oppressors and we are happy to turn a blind eye to the suffering of others, in order to be happy?

Look at the way we eat up all these talent shows, where the need to survive is ever present. The contestants (modern day gladiators) are encouraged to be prepared to step over others to get ahead.  Equality suggests a level playing field, when in reality we have to compete in a hierarchal pyramid, who wants to be at the bottom?


Sunday, 13 May 2012

That’s it I’m getting up

What keeps you awake at night? Have you got any magic formula for preparing for and succeeding in achieving a good night’s sleep?

It sounds crazy I know because I feel tired quite a lot and get fatigued easily,(ME/CFS) but I don’t sleep well. Now last night I had a few drinks (wine) but not a lot and early with my evening meal. But I will accept it is better if I don’t have any alcohol at all, but, its my one weakness!(and it was Saturday night and the BGT final was on  and now I am running out of excuses).

The ironic thing about this morning, it’s usually about 4am, what about you? I was awake for a while, you know that sort of wide awake that no closing your eyes and snuggling under the duvet will coax you back into dreamy sleep, awake.  When that unruly mind of mine, starting darting all over the place, shooting from one thought to another like a squash ball slamming up against the walls of the court during a fast and furious game. One of the thoughts that got hold was writing a blog about not sleeping, oh for goodness sake how daft is that?

I thought about the medical causes, physical and psychological. Obviously pain can keep you awake but I was comfortable, worries or grief can make it hard to relax and sad or unpleasant thoughts can make it impossible to settle. No I checked my thoughts like a guy with a hundred pockets in his suit looking for his keys, no, no worries. Lucky me I thought (apart from not being able to sleep, I countered).

Think of lying by the sea in a hammock,couldn't sleep here either!
Of course there is that period when you try to stay, sleepy and get back to sleep before you give up and actually admit, Ok I am wide awake! That’s the danger time for me because not only do I have to combat wild thoughts flying into my head, I have the representation of a snorting Rhinoceros lying next to me. Once I start to “hear” his snores and become aware of their never ceasing rhythm I am “doomed”,(Mr Mainwaring, Dad’s Army fans!). I won’t get side tracked about his snoring and what I do to stop him, (I might be leaving myself open to legal action if I divulge too much anyway Ha!).

So then I accept, yes I am awake, wide awake the only one awake in the house, alone but not alone.

What do I want a cup of tea, which for two reasons will probably not help my sleep at all? I do have a cup of tea though because its something to do and its warm and comforting and I sit in my armchair chatting to myself(in my head) I try not to disrupt the whole household(that sounded grand), I don’t want to disturb the sleeping  mound of snores upstairs.

I sit with my tea and think again of that thought, alone but not alone. It’s a comfort. I don’t know what the answer is and I would love to hear your ideas but. I sort of accept that there are times I just can’t sleep and I know that there are a lot of us out there making tea at four o’clock in the morning and I raise my cup and say Hi. If it helps you are not alone either.

Alison x