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    ( Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay ) It was with some amusement that I learnt Abba is not only releasing an album but will also be undertaking a series of live shows in London next year. That's not bad for a group now in its seventies that hasn't performed together for almost 40 years. Except, they won't be appearing in those live shows themselves but in virtual form with digital versions of the group members as they once were.  I'm not sure I'd like to be reproduced on stage as I was in the seventies, unless there's some kind of bonus that arises from being able to dance in platform shoes. However, you have to admit that it's a somewhat novel way of maintaining your youthfulness and I suppose demonstrates the next and inevitable step from video to hologram and beyond. Perhaps we will all one day spend our later years entertaining in virtual form, letting our avatars do the hardwork whilst we sit back and enjoy retirement. Incredible as that may seem, at

Bitten by the Bug

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No I haven't taken up a new hobby. Instead I'm becoming slightly exasperated. There was a time when I associated fly bites with holidays in warmer climes, now it seems that the insects in our garden have decided to turn on me. Worse still, it's now September and with a couple of days of unseasonally high temperatures, the local fly life is back, determined to outdo even Dracula with its blood sucking fetish. Okay, I know that here in the North of England, we've enjoyed a warmer summer than usual but that still doesn't mean Yorkshire has grown a population of mosquitoes and whilst midges have always been a nuisance, I can't recall ever reacting to their bites particularly. I swear my new enemy is the common house fly but when I looked them up, discovered they can't bite because of overlapping mouth parts. Well, all I can say is their suck is pretty painful too. Also whatever it is that keeps getting trapped on the inside of my sandal strap and then thinks its

Space Invaders

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  Do you remember when Space Invaders first came out? It was a long time ago because I was at university at the time. So long ago that I had almost forgotten about those little green men moving across the screen in our pre-home-computer days. Strange that I now look back with nostalgia at something which seemed so futuristic at the time but is primitive by early 21st century standards. I guess that's what happens in retirement, you begin to look back fondly at the most ridiculous innovations of the past. If I'm not careful I'll be describing the merits of dehydrated potato (Smash) next and I never did enjoy that! My memories of Space Invaders were unlocked during our Lakeland visit as a consequence of what I shall refer to as a Covid incident. Whilst we pretty much kept ourselves to ourselves, socialising only with the eldest and his fiancĂ©e who joined us for the week and exchanging fleeting greetings with strangers we passed on the fells, I had cause one morning to join a

A Forest Bath

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Forest bathing appears to be an increasingly popular wellness trend. I had naively assumed that it involved lying on a leaf strewn floor beneath a canopy of trees whilst meditating deeply. Not quite, for it turns out it's evolved from a Japanese relaxation technique known as shinrin-yoku where you indulge yourself in a sensory experience amongst the trees. The Forestry England website describes it as breathing deeeply whilst quietly observing nature. The National Trust has a web page with forest bathing tips on it where it emphasises the need to focus on the woodland around you whilst perhaps wandering slowly through it, touching tree trunks. The Woodland Trust lists the benefits of a woodland stroll and describes forest bathing as an immersive experience involving touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. We have just returned from our regular summer stay in the Lake District where we envelop ourselves in a cabin at the edge of woodland overlooking the Langdale Beck. If two hours of

No Fog at Sea

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  On Monday the youngest, who was paying us another flying visit, and I went for a coastal walk, blowing the proverbial cobwebs away. It was a complete change of scenery and colour. Day after day, I am surrounded by the beauty of the countryside but it is definitely green and not blue. Grass and trees sway silently in the gentle summer breezes. Looking out at the North Sea, the waves came crashing in and the expanse of sky above an empty beach created a sweeping azure-soaked panorama. After weeks in the city on the youngest's part and in the countryside on mine, we both felt refreshed and re-energised. I was reminded of that feeling reading about research in Italy and Scotland where studies have shown that last year's hard lockdowns affected many people's cognitive abilitites causing them to suffer "brain fog." It's obviously important to exercise and socialise and whilst a routine can be important if you are working or studying, for the rest of us impetuous

Enough

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  This morning's Yoga session concluded with a poignant mantra. I thought it was so appropriate for the stage of retirement that I now find myself in that I  really have to share it:- I have enough; I do enough; I am enough. Apt though it is, I concede that I am still battling with: an abundance of items giving rise to far more than is adequate; the intermittent panic that accompanies an unfinished To Do List; the self doubt that spurs me to feel that I should be doing better and achieving more. However, I truly ought to know better by now: enough is enough. Going forward, I intend to keep repeating those 3 lines to myself. There's something about them that envelops me in an overwhelming feeling of calm. I may not be the best and I may not be excelling in retirement but, breathing deeply and expressing acceptance, "I am enough."    

In Flames

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  (Image by DeSa81 from Pixabay ) Recent reports of forest fires around the world have been distressing. Conflagrations that burn and burn have to be one of the worst human nightmares.  Closer to home, we have suffered our own blaze as the local television mast went up in flames yesterday depriving almost a million homes across the region of their radio and TV reception, "indefinitely" according to some reports. Obviously a Smart TV would be the answer but with the constraints on rural broadband I'm unsure how many people will be able to rely satisfactorily on this if everyone starts to stream at the same time. There are also many households (we being one of them) who don't even possess such technology although we do cast to our living room TV from a variety of other devices instead. Fortunately we are still at that stage of retirement where the television set is frequently silent as we find other diversions to distract and entertain us. Fast forward another 20 years