When is a man’s home really his castle?

When we’re up against it and it feels that everyone is conspiring against us, the sight of your house is a reassuring one and wouldn’t it be nice if you really could pull up the drawbridge and forget all your troubles if only for a few blissful hours.

But at what point do you feel the need to actually turn your house into a castle.

I took the snapshot below from the side of a dual carriageway on my commute. The house is one of those bland 70’s chalet style properties… nothing remarkable so far except there’s a transformation taking place… this house really is being turned into a castle. Not sure if he’s going to build a moat… in fact I’d hazard a guess he’s more at home laying a driveway than moating… is moating a word? Sounds like a night time activity… dogging in a ditch maybe.

Castle

An Englishman’s home… really

So why has this chap decided to pull up the drawbridge?

I could have asked him in person, as shortly after taking my first pic he came out of his castle and was crossing the road looking as though he wanted to have a chat with me… maybe he wanted to offer me the chance to purchase a few sprigs of lucky heather – I was thinking I might need some. Looking at his expression however, I’d hazard a guess that he was preparing to offer me some renovation work… and I wouldn’t be getting a quote for the work he had in mind.

Got to dash…

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So you like it thick and slow…

Thick and slow is never a good a thing when I’m in traffic on the M25. And thick and slow is rarely something to be applauded. But thinner and faster is not always better as pointed out by Frijj who recently reminded me, on a trip around the M25, that not everything can be improved by an increase in speed and a reduction in size.

and available in many flavours

and available in many flavours

This got me thinking… as a guy I’m occasionally reminded by the fairer sex that some things indeed are better thick and delivered slowly… but I’d never quite made the connection to milkshake. So now that I have been enlightened I have a questions for you girls… do we apply the Frijj milkshake topically as part of a sensual massage or is it best served in a glass as a post climatic refreshment?

Connecting a past with a future

A departure from the wit. I recently took this picture from a bridge on the A12 close to where I live – no I wasn’t about to jump. I pass under this bridge everyday and as the road begins to rise you get this horizon.

 click picture to enlarge>>>

The A12 really is an artery for me, I can look in either direction and conjure up the many beginnings and endings from the past 15 years – that’s how long it’s been my neighbour. Looking backwards  it’s become an anchor to great memories and it’s always my starting point for new journeys so will remain an inspiration for my future.

Frilly knickers at the Autotoll

I’ve been commuting on the M25 for over 6 years and just like in life I’ve grown accustom to being told what I can and can’t do and recently a new instruction has appeared at the Dartford Crossing toll booth… is this sign for real. Exactly what is the speed limit through the toll booth?

My Health & Safety advisor might be doing cartwheels wondering how I managed to take the picture – I say cartwheels but I’d expect that would require a full risk assessment – so probably a forward roll. But worry not my health and safety guardians my car was stationary as it usually is at this part of my journey. I think the fastest speed I’ve managed through the toll is about 5 miles per hour and that can only be achieved by timing my approach correctly and a perfect presentation of my DartTag to the little camera attached to the booth – such a precise hand movement requires years of practice, over 2000 trips in my case… living the dream!!!

Crawling up to the toll reminded me of one of the worst experiences of my life… so what happens when you arrive at the toll with no credit or no exact change. That’s happened to me just the once, but I’ve been behind a few of the unlucky to be in this position. A warning to those to whom it has never happened – never ever and i mean ever put yourself in this position. In my case the situation began with the realisation that for some inexplicable reason I had taken my Dart-Tag out of the car the night before. I had no change or any cash and i was about 6th from the front of the Autotoll with no possibility of choreographing a move across to a manned toll booth. Realising my plight i began to feel panic beginning to spread through my entire body.

As I made my final approach panic turned into fear then to shame. The same shameful feeling you experienced when your dad walked into your bedroom and caught you pleasuring yourself whilst wearing a pair of your big sisters frillys. “Your tea’s ready son… I’ll get your mum to keep yours warm in the oven”. I’m speaking metaphorically of course. Anyway, you all know that feeling and for some of you it was probably much worse – one of those things that is never spoken about but never forgotten… feel free to tell us about your own experience.

Having no way to pay the toll is much worse however, because you have a bigger less forgiving audience, You can feel the hate and disgust coming from the queue that is beginning to form behind you… and you can feel the word tosser being burned on to the back of your head. So what next… nothing you just sit there waiting to be rescued by a Crossing Officer as your fellow road warriors’ rage turns into pure hate as they begin wishing for your premature death. Maybe it would be better if i got out of the car – never get out of the car – yes i felt like the tosser I had been branded whilst sitting in the car but once outside as i looked back at the queue i was now new feeling like some kind of kiddy fiddler with the crowd baying for blood and some taking potshots at me with their car horns.

At last i could see my knight in high vis armour walking towards my stranded vehicle … walking very slowly. God he looked smug… this is his reward, his moment, his bankers bonus that made up for what i guess is a pittance of a salary… though I’m guessing he got other perks, free crossings between Kent and Essex… nice. As he approached he looked into my vehicle… my BMW felt more like one of those police vans carrying the guilty to court for sentencing… i looked over at my McDonalds takeaway bag and wondered whether i could get it over my head in order to complete the pathetic picture. The Crossing Officer – is that really his job title – then looked at the baying crowd and gave them the ‘yes he’s wearing his big sisters frillies’ look.

After that it was got easier. The officer didn’t prolong my agony, he knew I had suffered and knew that if there was a next time I’d probably stop at the top of the bridge and throw myself off, his job was done. He gave me my ticket which required me to hand in the next time I crossed and pay the fee plus an extra quid.

The barrier went up and i was free. I accelerated hard; the last thing i wanted was to see any of the drivers who I’d held up. I was racing away… was that a flash as i passed another temporary sign reminding me that the traffic cameras are now working.

Wanted ….receding hair and an expanding wallet

At Junction 28 going clockwise on the 25 is a large billboard advertisement in a field for Sugardady.com which unsurprisingly turns out to be is a niche dating website, I think, aimed at a particular type of girl interested in a particular type of fella. I’ve not seen this poster anywhere else so I’m guessing the website owners have been conducting a bit of research and have established that there is a market for such a product amongst Essex floosies.

But is this what women really want? But hey …… I am a daddy and I’m sure I’ve been described as sweet …… well maybe more “sweet & sour” or is that more sour than sweet – either way I don’t think this is sufficient for me to qualify as a sugar daddy. Maybe I just need a bit more gold jewellery, a little less hair, a permanent tan and a big fat wallet……….. mmmmmm….. all that may take a while though the ”little less hair” is definitely a work in progress.

So what’s the alternative for a regular daddy type looking out for a new honey. These chaps (maybe they’re girls) at sugardaddy.com might be on to something and maybe there could be other niche “man types” that the ladies of the M25 are on the look out for. And being the sweet, but not yet bald, giving guy that I am here are a few ideas for niche man dating websites that maybe someone might like to pick up and run with. And who knows, anyone of these ideas could prove to be your entry ticket to sugardaddy.com

Geekybutfreaky.com
For women who like their man to be close by. But not too close by ……..just someone who’s going to look out for them at a distance (through binoculars) and follow them home at night

BlindbutKind.com
If you need a man who’s never gonna criticize the way you look.

Grubbyhubby.com
This is the website for girls who want to date married men who pretend not to be married.

Abitrubbisharoundthehouse.com
Ideal for all women who know how to extract the joy out of the important everyday tasks of cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, decorating and gardening

 

Beerbellywhatsontelly.com
For ladies who love time alone in the kitchen preparing tasty snacks for there man to munch whilst watching match of day

Let me know if anyone makes money from these winners………… or maybe you could suggest a few others.

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Think Bike……..Think Biker

Being from Essex the word bike conjures up a number of different images which has led me to give some thought to the latest piece of wisdom being peddled by the Highways Agency on their all invasive matrix signs. “Think Bike ……Think Biker”.  So what’s the message? “keep thinking about motorbikes and motorbike riders because you might forget to look for them when pulling out into the fast lane” ….. mmmmm…..a bit patronizing I think. Good advice though if I’d never driven on the road before.

So if that’s not the message behind “Think Bike ….Think Biker” what is it …. I’m picturing a sad lonely Highways Agency employee (Bob the matrix man). His job is to tap in the messages that are then displayed on the matrix signs. But life’s not good for Bob at the moment ….. after 25years of marriage to Beryl, who happens to be a leather clad middle aged biker, she has just announced to him that she’s been having an affair for the past 5 years with his workmate Mike. Feeling wronged and harbouring vengeful thoughts he turns to his matrix machine and gives life to the message. “Think Bike …..Think Biker”. Concise, but not particularly clear especially outside of essex… maybe he could have been a little more direct. What about  “Think Bike…Think Beryl” or a bit more cutting “My Old Bike …. Think Mike”

I’m a big fan of brevity but being too concise can lead to confusion or worse still misunderstanding. Marketeers love to come up with snappy taglines and one liners but take care, it’s more important in business that your messages are clear and easily understood. Remember not everyone has got the time or sharpness of mind that I have to decipher Bobs cryptic matrix message.

Broken promises….. all-day breakfasts

There something reassuring about a signpost on the motorway. They look authoritative and provide you with essential information for your journey and there’s always a presumption of fact when you read them.  Not always the reality though. One example comes up just before Clacket Lane services which announces that the operator of the next service station is Welcome Break. Sounds just what we all need.

But what’s your experience of a Welcome Break service station – the name is a bit misleading. My own experience always begins with a car park with road markings that make it impossible to park close to the building and once parked there is no covered walkway to protect you from the English spring, summer, autumn and winter weather. Then as you approach the building you are met by a scruffy little man from the RAC or AA flogging roadside assistance – their’s must be a story of untold personal tragedy. Once past him you’re met by the 2 girls flogging you a credit card, the promise of a free fluffy toy, doesn’t really cut the mustard…….. all the guys are much clearer about what might just seal the deal. I get why the RAC are located at the service stop but who’s looking for an extra line of credit when they get to a Clacket Lane, Watford Gap or Scratchwood Services  …… ahh, that becomes a bit clearer when your “welcomed” by the till operator who presents you with the bill for your all day breakfast.

So what was the name of this place …… oh yeah Welcome Break.

I can see how the marketing team came up with the name but it’s really more of an aspiration than a reality. If your brand name is based around a promise it had better live up to it or it’ll become a laughing stock with nowhere else to go – though I do think it would be a great name for a day nursery. It’s important to think about where you want to go with your company or brand before you christen it with a name.

So what’s left for Welcome Break.

Welcome Break

They could move into the prison sector, a good fit I think and it would be popular with the people. “You are sentenced to 10 years at maximum security Welcome Break” …… we all know that’s no soft option just ask the man from the RAC.