About Alison

A feisty mother earth type, who has an opinion about everything I would like to think I use my "chopsy" attitude to throw some light and perhaps a new slant on current social and cultural issues.

Since I moved to the country for a quiet life I have been lucky enough to create a more healthy more relaxed environment for myself. I love country life, Family, Friends, Horses and Dogs. I also love, photography, writing/chatting and connecting with others.

Please have a look at a collection of my photos blog,

http://i-clickphotos.blogspot.co.uk/

or join in on my chats here or on my otherblog

http://talesofamiddleagednovice.blogspot.co.uk/

which follows my efforts to learn to ride and care for 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, 29 September 2011

Saying nothing at all!


You know when someone says “it goes without saying”, does it grate on you? What are they saying. I think it might be,” I’ve tried having this simple kind of conversation before and thought it was self explanatory but somehow we got our wires crossed, so can you listen carefully to me, please?”

My beloved and I, cross wires all the time, its incredibly easy for us to misunderstand each other. Take this morning for instance, he’s away, so he phoned to say, “ morning” ok so far?

Then we got onto practicalities about the printer,( I need to send a copy of a document in the post today. But we have no ink, so I thought of a solution.) “Its ok, darling I’ll scan it onto my laptop.” Silence I could hear his cogs whirring round trying to find the right words. I’m on alert for a question which tests my technical knowledge. “er can you, I mean how can you do that?” he asked, “is that a catch question, do you know and you’re testing me or don’t you know” He sometimes thinks its kinder not to get to the point, I hate round the houses questioning. “No I really don’t know, we have no ink, how’s that going to help?” It seemed obvious to me, obviously it wasn’t. I had decided I could scan it in and e- mail it to the recipient, simple! He was still visualizing me trying to print it out. Well who was going to break this impasse of miscommunication, who was going to say, what we both thought went without saying, him, ”if you want a hard copy to print and post you will need ink, you idiot!” me” I will scan it in save it as a document, and send it as an attachment via e mail, Doh!”. Well we got there in the end both a little frustrated with the denseness of the other. We did part on good terms, he might have an accident or something and I don’t want our last conversation to be frosty! “Love you” I said laughing, what did go without saying was, “numb nuts!” he replied “Love you too, have a great day” without adding” weirdo!”



Saying nothing at all,


Sometimes as important as saying what goes without saying is, not to say what is obvious. “least said soonest mended and all that”. It made us smile I could hear his smile over the phone, We have been married for 25 yrs, as I have mentioned before, please pay attention. We have these communication difficulties, I have mentioned that before too! When I read Twitter and Blogs the opportunities for being misunderstood are endless. Trying to condense your deep thought into less than 141 characters and “speak” about matters of the heart without face to face contact, is fraught with danger. No touch of the arm, no squeeze of the hand, to soften a word or emphasise you care. No raised eyebrow to alert the speaker they may be causing offence.

This is an art as is Twitter, I enjoy the growing warmth of the Twitter and Blogging community, its not necessarily easier than “real” relationships, though because we all have to learn how to communicate without seeing, feeling hearing.  The growing trend of symbols is very interesting and tends to humanise and soften what we say, but I haven’t mastered that yet so. Anyone out there who reads this or my Tweets please think of me with a big smiley face, concerned eyes and an outstretched hand, I mean no harm and want to say this, even though it may go without saying, if there are two ways to read anything I write see it the good way, infused with kindness.

Love Alison x

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

All that glitters is not beautiful !

I have sat on some thoughts for well over a week and now need to write about them and move on. It started with of all things the Lib Dem conference! I am not a party political animal, but it would be a lie to say I am not political. I do have to admit to being an instinctive reactionary unsophisticated “political being”. I care about protecting the vulnerable, being led with integrity and people being encouraged to reach their potential, by working hard.

I initially wanted to write a response to a fellow Twitter, not feeling I could explain myself in 140 characters. The “discussion” started with the  report that the  Lib Dem conference were seeking to ban” page three” and other “glamour” type material being published, my knee jerk reaction was, along the lines of a question on Twitter of haven’t they more important issues to discuss, like child cruelty, animal cruelty and banking integrity. A fellow Tweep, responded, informing me, it was about, disrespect to women = abuse. Well ok.  Why did the tweet annoy me? To the point that I knew, not to respond while bathed in red mist. I felt I had been misunderstood, not difficult on Twitter, but it was irritating.  I thought I would reply and justify myself in my blog.

I knew a thing or two about Domestic Abuse and related matters and wanted to establish my credentials. Then I held back, I’ve left that life (as a professional you understand) I am not a survivor of abuse. I felt myself being drawn back into it and for what, because my ego had been dented, someone I didn’t know was, advising me, putting me right, I was quite honestly indignant. It’s ridiculous, I am sure we both feel very similarly, about the protection of the vulnerable, it was probably just the restrictions of 140 characters left room for a miscommunication. Can I say now I think I experienced an overreaction. I felt told off about a subject I care about and embarrassed that someone, anyone would think I was insensitive to the issue.

I am trying to avoid justifying myself out of indignation and an “I know better attitude” but my feelings about the “page 3 debate” haven’t changed. In an ideal world perhaps we wouldn’t have bare breasted women in newspapers   page three or otherwise and Sex wouldn’t be used to sell everything from Cars to chocolate. Our children are inundated with sexualised images and behaviour, you only have to watch a performance of Rhianna on X factor, as proof. Little girls and boys see that, as X factor and the like is “family entertainment”. My issue was that the Lib Dem conference chose to debate this page 3 issue not to ban it but to protect children from being exposed to it, in an effort to impact on violence against women.

It seemed a convoluted connection, one which I felt had been hi-jacked to try to achieve something with moral gravitas, simple, job done. The photo of one of the speakers, holding  on high an example of Page 3, seemed exploitative and sensational. Wrong somehow. Displaying something that shouldn’t be displayed to prove the point.

How much more useful would it have been to debate, more pressing matters some spring to mind.
1.Human Trafficking leading to sexual abuse of children and adults and also exploitation of these invisible people  in domestic  and commercial servitude , which could be debated with regard to immigration laws. There are examples of people from “respectable” backgrounds finding this acceptable. http://ceop.police.uk/Documents/ceopdocs/CEOP_Hidden_Children_report_2011.pdf
2.Female genital mutilation (FGM)  a violation of young girls, which affects  children from cultures that would find “page 3” disgusting. A practise though is unfortunately affecting girls and families in the UK.
3.Forced marriages again more likely to be prevalent in cultures who would be shocked by “Page 3” and who’s women dress very conservatively and  involves unrelenting pressures on young girls in the UK. Which often involves sexual violence, abuse and at times murder.
4.The true extent of sexual exploitation of children, through the Internet and the cost of investigating and bringing to justice the many offenders. Presently like emptying the sea with a thimble I fear.
These issues are real and affect women’s safety, our liberal society of allowing “page 3” etc does not I maintain impact on women’s safety and their role in protecting their children. There are many more practices on industrialised scales which expose real women and other vulnerable people to cruel and dangerous lifestyles. These are in the main fed by the financial gains available to the organisers of Human trafficking for sexual exploitation and servitude (slave labour), or maintaining control of cultures and traditions which protect the ways or financial stability of those interested parties. Underneath these are undesirable, perverted, criminals who buy these services to feed their greed and vile addictions. This will not detract from the domestic abuser seeking to control their partner or family member by using violence or other forms of intimidation. The myths and realities of Domestic abuse do need to be examined and support provided to those involved.  I feel talking about page 3 etc was just too easy.
Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder, when I look at a girl in a pose on page three, which I rarely do, I might say, but when I do, I see a beautiful woman. What do you see when you look in a jewellers shop window, fabulous pretty Jewells and precious metals , or the blood sweat and tears its taken to get it there.

All that Glitters is not beautiful!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Tea in "Deep" Silence

This Sunday morning, we, my beloved and I, were unusually quiet, sitting sipping our tea in bed. We listened to the radio for a while and I became conscious of the silence. I realised that I was quiet and didn’t feel much like talking, he was, in reality, his normal self, just not responding to me chatting away, that sounds cruel but I don’t mean to be, he’s a very self contained man.

Feeling responsible for generating some interesting Sunday morning debate I asked him. “Tell me your deepest thoughts, this morning, my darling.”

He pursed his lips rubbed his face and said, ”guttering” I was about to remonstrate with him for his lack of depth my face morphing into a raised eyebrow, pinched nostril, tight lipped mask of distaste. Totally indifferent he continued without pause, to tell me about his concerns for the plan the builders have suggested for the guttering. He went on to describe the current schematic and how the new one may cause overflow problems and the wind had something to do with the problem as well.  His main concern lay in problems which might appear in months or even years to come and he had to sort it out, so we didn’t have any damp issues in the future.

He was thinking out loud really and not talking to me. I wished I hadn’t asked! Then I thought some more, here he was “relaxing” on a Sunday morning and his concerns were very deep, very deep indeed. I have the attention span of a nat and there are loads of important matters, he attends to, like Insurance, maintenance and of course guttering which are fundamental to our security and well being. This makes me sound really flaky but I do contribute in other ways, I can’t think how right now but I am sure there are. Oh I just thought of one, yesterday, the very same Sunday, we had little or no supplies in and I didn’t want to go shopping. He said no worries lets just have beans and sausage. I said leave it with me, I rustled up a lovely sausage casserole, with red wine, home grown tomatoes, onions and peppers, on rice. It was yummy.

I am so glad he is deep silent type, he is rather wonderful in a quiet sensible sort of way and where would a flaky, butterfly be without her rock anyway, no where to perch to take in the view and soak up the sun. So the next time I want to have a deep conversation I better have my snorkel and flippers ready, or just sit quietly and enjoy the silence!

Enjoy Nightswimming by REM which interestingly combines silence and swimming(not necessarily with snorkel and flippers) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahJ6Kh8klM4

 Alison x

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Advice- Cheap or Priceless?

I like to fix things, give me a problem and I become fixated on it until I find a solution. I am not alone, I know others share my predilection, for meddling.  It also has a lot to do with being competitive. I like to be right and if someone’s getting it wrong this affords me with a tempting opportunity to show just how right I can be. Not just right though, I can flaunt all my other abilities, creativity, knowledge, experience, tolerance understanding the list is endless. Its not all about me because I do like to think one of my other attributes is that I care, but giving advice is I am afraid fundamentally a chance to show off and be “Peter Perfect” for a while.

It’s a soothing occupation because while you address the gaping hole in someone else’s bucket, you forget to stem the leaking tap of your own life. So it’s a distraction too! I never realised giving advice was so complicated.

Here’s a bit of advice, I can’t help myself, never offer it, without it being asked for first. Do you see how hard it is for me, I know this is wise and yet I go against my own advice in a heartbeat.

Could there ever be an occasion when advice should be administered like first aid, without the casualty calling for help! Is there an equivalent scenario, in advice giving terms,, of pulling a suicidal person off a railway track out of the path of an oncoming train. Do we have a responsibility to “save” people from themselves and if we do what then?

I used to think it was a Chinese proverb that if you saved someone’s life you were then responsible for them, for ever! Or conversely they owed you. I have “googled” it and there doesn’t seem to be a clear source for either school of thought. It does however highlight the dilemma of, “poking your oar in” wanted or otherwise. For if you do offer advice, at the request of a poor misguided friend and by taking it their life goes horribly wrong, are you to blame? Certainly the argument of your culpability is stronger if you force your opinions onto someone and convince them to change their course. It’s a minefield I’m telling you.

I have reflected on my egotistical compulsion to handout advice “willy nilly” like some agony aunt and concluded, even with my many pertinent attributes, its probably best I stop. Maintain a dignified silence and if someone insists consider pointing them in the direction of Buddhist teaching and particularly

 

 Advice from Atisha's Heart


"How wonderful!

Friends, since you already have great knowledge and clear understanding, whereas I am of no importance and have little wisdom, it is not suitable for you to request advice from me. However because you dear friends, whom I cherish from my heart, have requested me, I shall give you this essential advice from my inferior and childish mind”.

It continues rather lengthily so follow the link if you wish to! I am not advising you, you understand you have to make your own mind up.


The list of how to get it right in every given situation is probably endless, as long as a lifetime of mistakes can be. What can I say to a friend who’s feeling lost and wants my advice, to help them through a difficult time, or what can I say to a loved one who is heading for danger if their attention is not focussed on the possible outcome? If I can honestly detach myself from my ego and be a true friend I think I would say something. It is not in my nature to stand back, but it must be measured and considered advice, because sometimes people do know best for themselves. The best I can do is offer a quiet time for my friend to reflect. Prevent any immediate danger or harm to them and suggest they consider the problem objectively and think what they would say to a friend who was facing the same difficulty. Above all I would urge them to be kind and forgiving to themselves, be their own best friend.

We all fail and we all feel hopeless at some point, at the lowest look to yourself to be your own guardian angel, follow the link below to see the clip of Billy Joel singing “You’re Only Human” for inspiration.


Alison x

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I'm off, leave it with you!

I'm off to the coast for a few days with a friend and the dogs. Leaving my beloved at home to administer tea and biscuits to the builders! I will be honest it was planned that way, although I love what the builders are doing I don't want to be here when they are doing it. I feel guilty having my afternoon blast of TV while restoring my energies and seeing them going to and fro in front of my lounge windows with barrows full of mortar as I call it, a load of " muck" or a "mix". as they call it.


Especially when I light a fire when the later afternoon gets chilly  and they are sweating like "navies" over my Forest stone. What am I like ?So I am being considerate of them and leaving to walk coastal paths by day nap by afternoon and eat pub grub in the evening , its a hard job but its got to be done.


Beloved sneaks upstairs and pretends he's fixing something, I think he has a recording of him banging the pipes while he fiddles with his computer and his guitar in equal measures. No doubt when the builders have finished their bit we will be busy enough, I look forward to that meanwhile we are like goldfish in a bowl and to those on the outside must look similarly dull.How many times can I clean my cooker!
I'm off then and there will be no blogs or tweeps for several days I am entering a wi fi free zone, outdoors, sea air, real papers and board games? I might just forget the board games.! and nap instead.


I will miss my beloved and my home ( I already miss my daughter as she left home yesterday-by the way she's fine room gorgeous etc etc -phew!). The great thing about going away and having new surroundings is coming home and feeling good about it. 


I hope someone will read this while I'm away but if not I love blogging as it marshals my thoughts and frees my mind
love Alisonx

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Come on Take the load off, but if you get the chance...........

I must have had an excess of tea today but there’s always room for one more!
So I have a sip and sit back in my comfy chair and reflect on my walk in the woods this morning. It was sunny, bright and dry, the breeze was moving through the tops of the trees making that mesmerising whooshing sound, which reminds me of the sea, ahh! lovely.

The ideal surroundings for reflection and contemplation but somehow I got into a heated discussion with my dearly beloved, about the extension and how the builders were doing, so far .The builders are fine, it’s our communication (me and his) which was off kilter.

It’s of no consequence what he said, or what I thought he said, but it was rather how we both reacted to being misunderstood which is significant. This was between two people who “love” each other and know each other well. We argued about, what he said, I said and what it means not to really listen, whilst under the canopy of the glorious Forest. I’m sad to say for that time oblivious to our uplifting surroundings. Now I have to give credit to my beloved here for calling time and drawing it to an end not before time. Reminding me it was of no consequence and that getting annoyed with each other was really no good and we hugged underneath the trees. I did take some convincing though, but yes he was right, if only I had got in first and been magnanimous I would have been the good guy. It’s hard to be found to be doing the wrong thing. Instead of immediately changing track, I know I want to dig in, making things worse. Capitulating is hard, it makes me feel vulnerable. How about you?

So this morning’s reflection took place back here at home over yet another cuppa. Even in a wonderful place, you can loose sight of the good things in your life and get caught up with negative nonsense. Letting silly matters hurt and disturb us. If people who love and care for each other can let this happen how much harder we must all work to be conscious of not letting ourselves hurt and be hurt by strangers. I really have to remember when you are going down the wrong road which is getting increasingly bumpy and uncomfortable, stop turn round and get back on track, ok you have to go back over a few bumps initially but eventually the right road will smooth out under your wheels. Finally if you want someone else to do the turning round, remember how uncomfortable it is and try and make it as easy as possible.

Nature has a way of reminding us how insignificant we all are , the swathes of Forest the towering mountains and of course the vastness of the sea. As the song goes "I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean".Its s important to feel small and not to let even smaller things floor us. So by all means take the load off when you need a rest but," if you get the chance to sit it out or dance I hope you dance." I hope you’ll dance". written by Lee Ann Womack,  Click on the link have a listen and enjoy the sentiment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV-Z1YwaOiw&feature=related


Love Alison x


Friday, 16 September 2011

More like a rant today sorry!

How do you like yours? I like mine Free range!

I am not talking about chickens or eggs?  I’m talking about dogs! And no I don’t eat them.

“Free range dogs what other sort is there?”  I hear you ask,” cause there’s no such thing as battery farmed dogs! Is there?”

Yes there is, Battery Farmed dogs are alive, just about, and very unwell, more often than not. Puppy Farms are thriving, unfortunately.

How can this be, It frustrates me so much, how many people continue to buy puppies bred in worse conditions than battery chickens. (I despise battery farming of any animals BTW). Good advice about where and how to buy a pet dog is available everywhere and has been out there for years. Its not rocket science, most people could come up with 6 top tips, off the top of their heads, go on have a go,

If you want to check your advice against the Dog trust follow the link  http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/az/b/buyingadog/default.aspx

So if most people really know the right way to buy a healthy puppy why is there still a market for these poorly bred pups? There is a degree of subterfuge played out by breeders and dealers on poor innocent, na├»ve prospective dog owners and they get sucked in. “Yes of course you can see the mother, but I’ve only got one puppy left and I am coming down your way tomorrow, we could meet on the motorway, if you want one you best say now.”

So what are they hiding?
The basics:
Limited access to clean water, nutritious food, (adequate quantity and quality). Little or no daylight, fresh air, exercise and socialisation(contact with humans). Poor attention to health issues and failing health. Bitches being over bred, bred from too young and too old and well ill. All exacerbated by living in cramped dirty conditions.

Recently retrospective planning permission was granted to a “farmer” so he could continue to breed dogs in a barn containing nearly 100 hundreddogs. It was considered sufficient that these animals would be cared for by less than two people.

For more information about the case, where the farm is etc follow this link http://online.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/agendas/eng/PLAC20110818/REP03_06.HTM#P442_30500

For more information about the puppy farm trade and how they get ordinary dog loving people to buy their puppies.


The efforts of the local councils appear ineffective, Animal welfare agencies seem over stretched and the law is- you got it a farce! The best way to encourage the ethical breeding of our pet dogs is to not buy them from these people or their dealers so I am asking you to help now act and do the following:

-Please take time to read about "puppy farming" by following the links above.
-Spread the word to as many family and friends as you can..
-After considering the issues, please consider signing the online petition to stop the sale of puppies through "shops" and third parties(follow the link below)
-If you or anyone you know is considering buying a puppy please ensure animal welfare is a high priority for the breeder you buy from, (do not buy a poorly puppy from poor conditions thinking you are saving it)

If you haven't signed the petition re  this already please do 

 thank you
Alison

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Sweet enough?

I take my tea without sugar, but when I was a child I loved my tea sweet with two sugars. I’ll admit the change was because I became calorie conscious, but I prefer the taste now, straight, tea flavoured.

So as children do we have to mask reality and can we deal with it better when we are all grown. No we just find different kinds of “sugar” I think. But wouldn’t it be better if we could take life as it comes, no sweeteners, no uppers or downers.  Is it possible?
I love a glass of wine, but age and the odd ailment has made it necessary to cut down. That has been good for me, my health and life in general. These crutches we find and abuse to make life more digestible, don’t work. I could joke, I’ve forgotten the best nights of my life. It’s not funny though it’s quite sad and they weren’t the best anyway.

So what can we do to make life more palatable?

Someone  has said that the best medicine is laughter and it is good but I think the best medicine is love. I’m not being soppy here, it’s really sensible and I’m not talking romance necessarily. Firstly, love yourself, how many of us really do that? If we did, would we do all those unhealthy things to our bodies. Take risks with our safety and ignore our emotional wellbeing, no we would not.  

Our unhelpful response to the pressures of life, also extend into how we spend our hard earned cash. I heard on the news this morning we as a society (particularly in the UK) are locked into a behaviour being coined as “compulsive consumerism.”  I don’t think it’s new, but it is damaging. Stop shopping and start living. Children have responded to a survey saying they would prefer to spend time with their parents, instead they get “things” to pacify them, more “sugar” hey?

So I am looking to take life straight, look it in the eyes and say come on then, show me what you got. Warts an’all! I want to be with it and even if it’s a bit sour, I will taste it, in all its glory. I can get used to it, just like my tea and yes it will be sweet enough because its mine and its all I’ve  got.

Click to hear How sweet it is to be loved by you

 So Make the you, you, its not selfish it will mean you can then be strong to love and help others. 

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I needed the shelter of someone’s arms, and there you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs, and there you were
With sweet love and devotion
Deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you baby
I want to stop and thank you baby

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

I close my eyes at night
Wondering where would I be without you in my life
Everything I did was just a bore
Everywhere I went it seems I’d been there before
But you brighten up for me all of my days
With a love so sweet in so many ways
I want to stop and thank you baby
I just want to stop and thank you baby

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

You were better to me than I was to myself
For me, there’s you and there ain’t nobody else
I want to stop and thank you baby
I just want to stop and thank you baby

How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you

 "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" is a 1964 hit song written and produced by the Motown songwriting team of Holland–Dozier–Holland. It was originally recorded by American soul singer Marvin Gaye and became one of his most popular songs. Also recorded by James Taylor.


So Make the you, you, its not selfish it will mean you can then be strong to love and help others.



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hello kettles on!

We can chat about health matters, the environment get serious about man's cruelty to their fellow man and dangers facing the earth. Hopefully though we can keep a sense of fun ,listen and talk. I am a woman of a certain age,don't go there, age is all a state of mind. Some days I feel a hundred and some days I behave like I'm  Twelve so how old I actually am is immaterial.


I am a mother, a wife, sister and having lost both parents I describe myself as an adult orphan. Having siblings and siblings-in-law I also have nephews, nieces. I am lucky to still have Aunts and Uncles. I have good friends who I have known for the best part of thirty years and some new ones. I acquired the new ones moving down to the Forest of Dean from the midlands just over a year ago.


I care- I care about most things but try not to loose sleep over matters and try to remember that  prayer, sometimes I don't recall it accurately but its something like:


Give us the grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed, Courage
to change the things which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

(From "The Serentiy Prayer" by Elisabeth Sifton)



Its a pretty good rule of thumb don't you think?


I haven't always been so balanced and have been known to get myself in a state and that could happen again! But the wise bit of me thinks if you really want to do any good you have to keep the prayer in mind, you are no good to anybody having a melt down or wasting energy on lost causes.


Whats a lost cause I hear you ask, well that's the trick isn't it? knowing. 


That's enough for now I'm interested in hearing from anybody who wants to pull up a chair and have a chin wag, change the world or cry on my shoulder. Parting thought provided by James Taylor "the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time...... its such a lovely ride!!
best wishes Alison