An announcement

I’ll end the AUGUST2020CHALLENGE with an announcement. One of the reasons behind the challenge was to increase the number of good news and positive entries into this blog which has served me well in times of adversity.

In February 2021 we’ll be welcoming a new brother or sister for Tom and Lucas. After going through a miscarriage in September last year this is a most excellent turn of events and we’re all very excited to welcome the next addition to our family.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming the newest addition to our family.

Say hello to the as yet unnamed baby Smith.


Current relationship status

When you see someone and get a tight feeling in your chest, that’s not a heart attack, it’s love. When I see Fran I get that feeling. Not all the time, but often enough to know what I love her, through and through.

We’ve been together for almost three years. That doesn’t seem too long when I write it down but we have been through a lot in that time. Bought a house, had a baby, decided to start a life together. It’s not been easy but then nothing worth having is easy. And loving someone is loving their flaws and imperfections as well as the good.

She tolerates me when many others wouldn’t. She puts up with my moods and my sulking. She puts up with me being a grumpy old man. I put up with her insecurities and occasional bad moods. I couldn’t imagine my life without her and sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming and that she chose me.

My current relationship can only be described as ‘happy’ and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Surround yourself with good people.

For too long I got bogged down in relationships which were inherently negative. I allowed other people’s hang ups, issues and problems to impact upon my own well being and peace of mind. When it’s all you know it’s tough to identify. We are never very good at analysing ourselves and seeing the impact of another’s negativity upon the psyche.

My last two relationships were like that. People who sucked the fun out of Al. People who chipped away at a positive mental attitude and transformed me into mirror images of their negative personalities. People who drained kindness, forgiveness and happiness.

I note this was sometimes through no fault of their own, but frequently as a result of their circumstances, their career (or lack of), their relationship with family (or lack of), their relationship with their own children (or lack of).

To be beset by negatives is to have your own positives crushed. To have someone struggle to see the good in themselves (it was there!) and to highlight their flaws and troubles and problems was to cast into shadow the things you liked about them in the first place. You cannot suffer someone saying they’re fat or ugly or bored (boring) persistently without starting to see them as they see them.

The world is a cruel and ugly place. Many people will call you fat and ugly and boring; don’t join them.

I’ve stepped away from toxic relationships and into the light of a beautiful positive lover. She isn’t an egoist or self-centred. She isn’t arrogant. She might even say she lacks confidence in herself. But when she smiles the world smiles with her, and when she laughs it’s as angels singing and you can’t help but laugh along. She’s understanding, caring, kind, loving and generous with her time and compassion. She sees the world through positive eyes and loves everyone and everything in it. To be with her is to feel love and happiness. To be with her to to have found contentment.

She makes me a better person by letting me see the good in this cruel and ugly world. She doesn’t know how truly marvellous she is – and that there is the beauty of her. Unassuming, never selfish. She’s good for my soul. Surrounded by her warmth and generosity I can’t help but feel my mental health flourish.

She fixed me.

Happy Life

I look back over my blog and it’s often filled with angst, worries, troubles, upsets, pain. I was speaking to a wonderful lady recently who I have grown to consider one of the finest people I know. She said she doesn’t hear from me so much recently and I excused myself saying that I didn’t really have anything to say. Everything is fine. Job is good, relationship; amazing, family; great, friends; brilliant, house; getting there, future; Rosie.

And I got to thinking, do we define ourselves by our misery? Do we only tell people things that are bad, upsetting, worrying? Do we only divulge our troubles? Is the only thing we have to speak about sadness?

I am happy. It’s a funny thing. It’s a warmth deep down in your gut. It’s contentment, it’s the ability to be unapologetically you. And right now I am unapologetically me. I met someone who makes me smile. She warms my soul. It’s been a few short months of knowing her but she completes me. It’s like I’ve spent years in the wilderness just wandering and now I’m home. That’s what I said to her last week; she feels like home. We talk about rubbish, we sit and engage in conversations about nothing at all. Days go by and I cannot tell you what we did because to the outside observer it probably looks like nothing happened. But I’m with her and she’s with me and that is all that matters. I feel like, no matter what happens, no matter what the future may hold, as long as we have each other, everything will be fine. Everything will be beautiful.

And I’ve never felt this way before. I’ve never felt so content, so complete. We talk about the future, about living together, about starting a family. We talk about all the places we are going to go and all the things we are going to see. We discuss growing old and where we’re going to live, and what our children will be called. She makes me feel young again. It’s rather quite perfect.

Why not share that? Why not tell the world how happy we are? Is it wrong to be blissfully happy and to feel okay and not at all guilty about that happiness? I don’t think so.

People will judge us. People will say it’s too early or it won’t work because of the age difference. People will say that things never worked with anyone else and to anticipate the same this time. People are detractors, they seek to destroy happiness either out of jealously or spite or a desire for drama. For the first time I’m completely open, totally honest, entirely under her spell. To give yourself to someone is to place the key to your happiness in their hands. In the past I have avoided doing this for fear of getting hurt. By not giving yourself to someone completely you will never achieve the happiness which you seek. It takes guts to say, “I am yours” and place yourself in a position where you can be hurt. But if you don’t you’ll never know what it’s like to love and be loved unequivocally. If you do you’ll unlock the secret to a Happy Life.

Spend time not money

I asked The Boy the other day what he wanted to do on Saturday. I had a full tank of diesel and a reasonable swedge of cash available. The world was our oyster. “Let’s go to Roseberry Topping” was his reply. Deal.

Saturday morning I pick him up and we head off into the Cleveland hills. And do you know, my boy is growing up! And I think that sometimes if you don’t stop and think about it, you miss it. You miss the development of infant into child into young man. Driving along listening to him natter away. Pointing out cars he likes (“COOL FORD FOCUS RS, MATE!”) as we swing through Yarm. Telling me about getting detention two days in a row because “Peter is a grass”. He’s his own little person and I wasn’t paying attention to that. Guiltily, I wasn’t paying attention to that; to him.

We walked up Roseberry Topping, stopping along the way to rest and to chat and to look out across the scenery. Kids are inquisitive aren’t they? They observe stuff. “I can see your car” and “I can see the sea”. A helicopter flew overhead, “Do you think he can see us?” Parts were slippery. He insisted on holding my hand. I don’t think it was entirely for balance either. These are the moments kids remember. Tramping up through the mud towards the summit. Holding onto Dad. The years and months pass by so rapidly. Soon he won’t want to do that. Soon he’ll forge on ahead and leave his old man behind, I’m sure. But for now my boy wanted to hold my hand, and that’s a feeling I won’t ever forget.

We got to the top and looked out over Teesside. North towards the sea, south towards Captain Cook’s Monument (I’ve promised that next year we will walk all the way there and back). He wants to sit on the edge and dangle his feet over. NO! Funny how invincible kids think they are.

We start the walk down and he says, “This is awesome.”

“What is?” 

“You and me doing this. Mum said if she wasn’t going out she would have come with us but I said in my head, ‘I don’t think so, it’s me and Dad time’.”

Which is when I thought, you know what? This is what it’s all about. It’s not about spending money. It’s about spending time. Your time is invaluable. You’ll never get that time again. The greatest gift you can give to someone is your time. img_4271

(If you click the image you’ll get it full size)

It takes two

We live in a modern world, do we not? We live in the 21st Century. Modern day. Gender roles have blurred. Sexualities have blurred. Expectations have blurred. None more so than in the world of dating and relationships. Boys make the first move, girls make the first move. Relationships are casual, monogamous, polygamous, open, sub/dom, DDLG, permanent, transient, relaxed, serious. It seems that anything goes. And I like that. I like that there are so few typical expectations placed upon relationships, regardless of gender identity.

Listen, if two people are attracted to each other, it should not fall to just one of those people to steer the course, make the moves, push to see the other. If you want to see someone, ask. If you want to speak to someone, call. If you miss someone, tell them. If you want something, go and get it. Do not expect the other person to do that for you.

And, finally, if you throw your toys out of the pram because the other person doesn’t make the first move, doesn’t send the first message, doesn’t make the first call, don’t be surprised when you’re dismissed as the petulant child you have proven yourself to be.

Relationships are tough. I hope you all find what you are looking for out there.


There once was a time I was blissfully happy. I felt like everything had finally worked out as it should. I felt like the future was going to be a beautiful one. I had my baby back.

This time two years ago I had everything I wanted. But it wasn’t destined to last. Six weeks later, happiness crushed, wondering what had happened, wondering if it had all been a dream.

Even though those memories of that time hurt, they are starting to also make me smile. It’s bitter-sweet. At once remembering just how perfect things were (stood there, arms around each other, her smiling up at me, wishing that time would stop and we could be like that forever) and at the same time realising just how much has changed and wincing at the sharp almost physical pain of that recollection.

It’s getting easier. I always knew that it would. And one day I know I’ll look back at that time with nothing by happiness in my heart.


February update

Well, it’s been a while since I found the time to post here. Life has been busy. Working hard and shortly I’ll be moving house. I’m leaving my lovely little flat and going home. I have a house in the town which I have been renting out for the last 18 months or so. I was contemplating moving back and had my hand forced last month when my tenant handed in her notice. If it’s true that everything happens for a reason, then maybe this is one of those things. I was thinking about it, but then it happened anyway.

I’m happy about the change and looking forward to getting ‘home’. For the first time in a really long time I have the means to make my home somewhere I am comfortable and content. Financially I’m better off now than I have ever been and the change to the old house is going to save me money each month; money I can put towards making some changes to the house.

It’s going to be a work in progress and it won’t happen overnight. I want to get in and settled before I start making decisions about what I am going to change or fix or work on. I’ll endeavour to keep this blog up-to-date with what I am planning – if you’re at all interested.

So there we are; February’s update. Next time I post here I’ll be back in my little house. Happy. Content. Smiling.