Archive for September, 2020

As someone else said “ironically I’m using social media to share this” – but I urge you to watch ‘The Social Dilemma’ on Netflix. I’d seen a couple of my friends make reference to it, but didn’t really take much notice. But today I had a bit of spare time so I watched it…..and it scared the hell out of me.

To quote a quote:
“There are only two industries that call their customers “user’s” : illegal drugs and software”.

There is such a lot of information in the documentary that my mind was thrown into turmoil. Interviewing the very people who set up these programmes and the ubiquitous algorithms that we all love so much.

It made for very uncomfortable viewing.

We are being manipulated by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, LinkedIn, Snapchat, et al….in order for them to make money off of us. It may have started off fairly benign, but now, every tool in the book is being used to manipulate us like puppets. Every emoji we use prompts the algorithm to feed us like a lab rat…their words, not mine. I would urge you to watch it, it is really quite important to understand what they are doing behind the scenes and how they are manipulating us. It’s in no way benign.

In the heydey of the new platform; Facebook I, like many others, friended people left right and centre. I connected with people I’d never met from the far corners of the planet…without any thought whatsoever to whether or not they were indeed ‘friendly’. Over the years and especially when I started with multi-level marketing, I ‘friended’ so many people that my feed was filled with stuff I had no interest in. Once I removed myself from the MLM industry I unfriended everyone I had connected with unless I had actually met them in person. The same went for the people I met via Personal Development. What I found was that unless you were superficial you were not worthy of their attention. It was the ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset. I hated that, So I unfriended well over 1000 people. People I never heard from again.

But I still continued to accept friend requests and once I got started on twitter I ‘met’ a lot of people that then transferred to Facebook. Over the past 4 years I’ve realised that despite having so many’ friends’, very few were actively engaged, and so I unfriended another few hundred until I was down to people I actually knew, or had met in person, or people I had formed a relationship with regardless of where they were from. Just over a year ago, due to an emotional upset I logged off facebook….and of all the friends I was connected to, only 1 actually contacted me to find out if I was okay.

Other than that I also unfriended anyone who supported that snake farage, brexit or trump. And so my friends list shrunk to a reasonably manageable list of 150. Still there were people there I had never met or couldn’t actually remember why we connected, but with some I stayed connected because they posted interesting articles or we had things in common.

After watching the documentary ‘Don’t F*ck With Cats’ – the actual title, I immediately stopped posting photos of my grandson and put my profile onto private.

When Covid-19 came along at the beginning of the year, I logged back onto Facebook purely so that I could connect with friends just to make sure that everyone I cared about was okay.

But what I’ve noticed over the following months is that I am spending more and more time on Facebook and my emotions are on a constant rollercoaster. For example…..a friend will post a photo that I admire so I ❤ it. The someone else will post something about Syria and I click the sad emoji. Then another article will appear on my timeline about the useless UK government and after reading the article I click the angry emoji and share the article with a scathing or angry comment. And then someone else will share a cat video or a funny meme and I find myself using the laughing emoji. Or someone would share an amazing image and I’d click the ‘wow’ emoji. And then there are the posts that I just ‘like’. But, I was on a constant yo-yo of emotions and in a few minutes or hours I’d swing from love, to anger, to laughter, to sadness and boring old liking……every fucking day!!!

I’m exhausted. All my friends share different articles and they all share them on different days according to what they are interested in, love, get angry about, are saddened by or awed. And these all appear in my timeline on a constant loop. And my emotions are constantly swung one way or another…over and over and over.

What I found even more scary is that these platforms are only getting started with their manipulations, with their monetising. Try having a conversation with a friend about…..say….a wedding. Next thing you’ll see advert after advert about weddings, or holidays, or that cruise, or shoes or baby clothes…..this is not an accident! This is marketing manipulation on a massive scale.

Now if you’re okay with that, then fine. But it’s how they’re moving it forward, and how they use algorithms to manipulate your emotions, your beliefs, your values, your thoughts and your emotions….and your bank account!! Don’t underestimate the value that is placed on those adverts….they are designed to make you buy something you probably don’t need or want….much like adverts on TV and the papers…although that is just a little less pernicious, not much but they don’t work on algorithms designed to keep you scrolling endlessly seeking seeking seeking the next article or image or video…..I know. I do that every day till my thumb and wrist aches.

And it’s all being done deliberately so that the people behind the scenes can increase their wealth exponentially. I can’t detail it all here, but I would urge you to watch the documentary and make up your own mind.

Don’t be surprised if you find my profile shut down (actually, ironically, a friend reacted angrily to my post, and left a really angry comment, and that precipitated my logging off).

I left Twitter 18 months ago, and the only reason I haven’t hadn’t as yet left Facebook is was because it’s a way to keep in touch with you, my friends…but I’m very uncomfortable with what I’m seeing. I’m not understanding this for the first time, and I’m aware of how these platforms manipulate us, but it’s the first time the full reality of what and how they do it is becoming clear. And it is a drug. We are all addicted whether we find excuses or not to deny it…we are addicted.

I see it with my own family. My daughter and I used to have some amazing conversations…..now when I visit she has her head plastered to her phone. I’ve asked her time and again to please not spend any time we have together glued to her phone but she will always find a reason to continue…there’s always a reason. She can’t even watch a movie without engaging on her phone. It irks me tremendously, but my pleas fall on deaf ears. Her husband too, is always clicking on his phone and unless I can engage their attention with something, anything really, I end up sitting there staring at the TV, or I pick up my phone and do the same. What really annoys me though is that when the in-laws are visiting (the perfect family), she doesn’t sit with her face glued to her phone but chats to them.

Sadly, they have started their son off on YouTube videos and he cannot sit down to a meal without having to be entertained by YouTube. He is already addicted to the screen time, and Daddy rushes about desperately trying to find his phone so baby can watch the screen and be entertained while he has food doled out into his mouth. Screen time has gone from a few minutes to well over an hour, because that is sometimes how long it takes him to eat. I’ve no doubt she will disagree with me, and will probably be somewhat angry that I have written this down, but from parents who, when they were expecting said they wouldn’t be spending time on social media when baby is around, they’ve gone in completely the opposite direction…There was a time when my honesty was appreciated and I could talk to her about things like this…

Every time you click an emoji you are feeding your addiction. Every video or article you click on feeds your addiction and these platforms drip feed us every day every minute we have our phones switched on….watch the documentary and make up your own mind…their main goal is to keep you on the platform for as long as possible and the Ai programmes are designed and built to nudge you if you’re away for too long. Those notifications……!!!

To say that I hate Facebook would be an understatement. And if you think I’m overexaggerating, try looking around you…on the bus, on the tube, in a park, on the streets (how many times don’t people practically knock you over), in the cinema, in a theatre, in the doctors waiting room, driving in their car…people are killed every day because that truck driver, or bus driver or your own family are unable to put their phones down even while driving, in your own home…look around you, observe and realise that this is all down to manipulation, by platforms DELIBERATELY designed to engage and keep your attention for as long as possible, and when you step away, they are designed to grab your attention and get you back on for as long as possible.

Watch the documentary and make up your own mind. Even the very people who created these platforms and the machinations behind them, restrict their children from using social media. Ask yourself why!!

For me, I’m out.

29/09/20 a friend of mine in Australia suggested that he’d be curious to hear what effect my leaving facebook would have in a few weeks…..I could immediately tell him that it had induced a state of anxiety. Which as I said to him, absolutely makes me certain I’ve done the right thing. I find my brain and my hands wanting to log on (but I’ve forgotten my password LOL) and see what’s been posted. I’ve used facebook as way to keep myself from getting bored when I have downtime on my job, but I’m going to find myself a hobby to keep busy.

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I was putting out the recycling boxes at my current client’s house this evening when the thought crossed my mind that I live other people’s lives, albeit briefly.

Due to the nature of my job, I live approximately 2 to 3 weeks of every month living in as a carer in other people’s homes.

I arrive at their home, a complete stranger to them, and they to me. I arrive with a suitcase, my computer and a few items of food that I enjoy. I’m shown to a spare room, the contents of which vary greatly…sometimes the room is sparsely furnished, other times it’s so full of stuff I can hardly move. I either have a single bed or a double, more often the former. Sometimes there’s space for me to hang up my clothes, more often I live out my suitcase.

After a brief handover I spend a few hours, like a voyeur opening cupboards and poking around to see where things are. I learn about their likes and dislikes, what food they enjoy and whether or not they have a good appetite. I memorise their routines, and every home is completely different. I cater to their every whim regardless of whether I feel like it or not. Its what I’m paid to do.

I put out their bins, bring in the mail and most often, answer the phone. I cook – 3 meals a day, clean their rooms and make their beds, do laundry and occasionally ironing, I do their shopping and administer their medications. I help them dress and undress, change their clothes, bath or shower or strip-wash. I sometimes clean bottoms and privates, clean them up and change pads. I ensure they’re safe and comfortable with good food and secure environment. I take them to appointments with doctors or hairdressers and drive them places….

and its very seldom that any of my desires, needs or wants are met. I put myself aside for the duration of my stay, the only respite being my 2 hour daily break.

I don’t have my own life. I don’t have a home. I don’t have my own bed – although I do have a mattress, except for a short period when I lived with my daughter and her husband, its still in storage 4 years after shipping it to the UK.

I don’t have my own space to go home to after each assignment, a place where I can live my life. I either stay at a B&B or in the past year I’ve occasionally slept on my daughter’s couch.

I only really live my own life when I’m on my walks.

I’m always between one place or another living in other people’s lives.

It’s a weird reality…..

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From Oxted to Kemsing

Well,  you’ll be pleased to know I made it. Day 1 done & dusted. In lots of pain and my feet are very unhappy…not sure how they’re going to feel about doing this all over again tomorrow.😱😱🥺🥺🥺

So I left home at 6am on the dot  and got to Ramsgate station with 15 minutes to spare.
I reached Oxted at 09:25 and set about finding breakfast. I nearly slipped up and went to Wetherspoons, but left as soon as I realised my error 😣😣😣
After a coffee and toasted sandwich from Coughlan’s bakery I switched mapmywalk on and set off for St Peter’s church where I got my first Pilgrim’s stamp, then it was a hard slog along a horrible road till I intercepted the Pilgrim’s Way.

First destination was Chevening Park where I had to climb a bloody awful hill and then go back down again. From thereon the terrain was fairly flat. I finally reached Dunton Green where I stopped for supper at The Rose and Crown and had a delicious meal of fish and chips.

At just on 5pm I set off again for Otford, a Domesday Book Village, where I crossed the River Darent. What a delightful place. Picturesque with the remains of a palace where Henry VIII and Katherine if Aragon once stayed. The church and palace have links to Thomas Beckett.

Then I had to force myself to walk the final 4 kms to Kemsing & the Airbnb.  I’m aching from head to toe. But I did it 😃😃😃

Walked 26km, 10 hours including stops and saw so many amazing things. Lucky me.

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addendum: I actually started this post yesterday, but got so involved with planning my Pilgrim’s Way walk and Hadrian’s Wall walk that I completely forgot to update and post it. Although theoretically I actually owe you 1000 words, it’s already 22:31 and I really need to get to bed earlier than the last two nights……midnight and after midnight….respectively. So here goes…..

Never one to let a bad year bring me down, despite the downs there have been many ups…my grandson celebrated his 1st birthday, I visited the Isle of Wight for a 2nd time on an assignment; this time I stayed near Cowes, although I didn’t get to do as much travelling as before. We visited the Donkey Sanctuary in March; me, my daughter & grandson to visit his adopted donkey; Ruby…she’s a beauty and a lot bigger than we expected. While there we drove across country to visit Tintagel Castle – which is just phenomenal and a must visit.

7 weeks of lockdown were spent in a beautiful, peaceful village in Somerset where I was lucky enough to be able to walk in the Quantock Hills during our 1 hour of allowable exercise. During said lockdown I reached the grand age of 65 (an age denied to my beloved brother & Mother). I celebrated with my little family via zoom and received some beautiful iced biscuits from my daughter.

During my brief breaks between assignments, I’ve had dozens of happy mornings on the beach with my little beeboo watching him run about picking up stones and feathers and sticks, dipping his feet in the sea and buying him a naughty ice-cream on the way home 😉

I’ve visited a few places new to me on work assignments, some good, some not…currently working in Croydon but I have not been out much since I’ve been planning planning planning & now I’m on the cusp of finishing my #pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury along The Pilgrim’s Way. Finally. I started this walk in 2018, and then my grandson came along and all thought of being away for any length of time except for work went out the window LOL

And so, 2 years & 12 days after my 2018 pilgrimage ended in Oxted due to injury, I shall restart my journey in Oxted and coddiwomble to Canterbury while crossing rivers, visiting castles, a few palaces, Roman villas, a Carmelite Monastery, ancient stones & churches, some of England’s most historic & ancient villages, towns & cities, many of which are Domesday Book places, the Black Prince’s well, an abbey and a famous Cathedral while just enjoying the freedom of walking from place to place along ancient pathways, across fields, beneath trees, over too many stiles, & no doubt some tarmac.

I plan to see a few sunrises, definitely many sunsets, listen to birdsong & moos, have no doubt that I will cry from pain, curse my sore bones, swear at Pepe (my backpack), laugh with joy, sing a few songs & post dozens of photos.

The planning is 90% complete (as of yesterday – by this evening it was 100% completed), so yesterday I bought a little diary to keep note of pertinent details of each day… especially where I’m meant to be sleeping each night.. most important aspect of each day.

I’m soooo excited. Finally!! And that will be my 4th long distance walk, but all being well, not my last. My daughter, son-in-law & grandson will meet me in Canterbury in the evening for a celebratory meal. Hoorah!!!

Counting the days.  I’d like to give a #shoutout to Tony and Sarah of The Old Alma Inn for their lovely customer service 👍 and👎to Airbnb for making it so difficult to identify a venue in a specific location and some of their hosts for not updating their calendars.

Alongside of planning the final section of the Pilgrim’s Way, I’ve also been planning my trip to Newcastle……yes!!! I’ll be walking Hadrian’s Wall 🙂 🙂 🙂

It’s been a long held dream of mine to walk Hadrian’s Wall and initially when I finally decided to complete the Pilgrim’s Way I thought why not just make it a foursome…..The Pilgrim’s Way, St Cuthbert’s Way, Hadrian’s Wall and the West Highland Way…..bought the books and started investigating costs…..hah! It quickly whittled down from 4 to 2! OMG!! It’s very expensive to go walking in this country. Walking the Camino didn’t cost me nearly as much and the accommodation was wayyyyyy cheaper. Some B&B’s were charging in excess of £100 per night per person. Absolutely mad. My daughter suggested I camp each night, but no thanks LOL I’m far too keen on sleeping in a proper bed. 😉 So I had to just suck in my breath a couple of times and book regardless, but fortunately by using AirBnB I managed to keep the costs down and the most expensive night was £41.

Although I still have a gripe with AirBnB and their daft location suggestions, I did after hours of searching manage to tie down all the nights I needed.

I’m planning on visiting Homesteads Roman fort and of course Vindolanda. There are so many amazing places along the route that I’m not sure I’ll have time to visit them all. And of course I’m planning on seeing as many sunrises and sunsets as I can……depending on the weather!

Also did you know that Hadrian’s Wall doesn’t actually march in a straight line from east to west? I always imagined it was pretty straight with a few dents and nooks here and there, but while researching I have found that it actually zig zags like a caterpillar on ecstacy!! Crikey! I really didn’t imagine and as well as which, a whole heck of a lot of it doesn’t exist anymore and the stones have been repurposed for houses and churches. Hah!! So a lot of it is just now in your imagination LOL

But oh what remains looks absolutely amazing and some of places I’ll be travelling through look fantastic. The countryside looks so beautiful.

Now all I need is good weather……says someone who actually lives in the UK and should know better LOL

Next week I’ll be buying new walking shoes, rain pants, and socks….lots of new socks and sorting out my backpack. I haven’t used Pepe in over 2 years, poor thing probably feels neglected. Oh and talking of backpacks, I’m going to use the baggage forwarding service on 5 of the 12 walking days and 4 days will be spent in Carlisle and I’ll walk 2 separate sections over 2 days and bus back to Carlisle at night. Makes sense, especially since accommodation was so hard to find.

And that m’dears brings me to 1058 words…..so hoorah, I’m up to date, albeit 1 day behind. So before it after midnight once again, I shall bid you goodnight, and hopefully I don’t forget to write tomorrow. 🙂

oh and p.s. did you know that Hadrian’s Wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? How awesome is that! another one for my list on Project 101

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Not sure if this is relevant to my commitment to write 500 words a day, or if the subject matter is what The Quirky Coach had in mind, but here goes….basically it’s a rant LOL

A letter to AirBnB after another frustrating morning of searching for a specific location and getting ‘there are 271 locations in your area’ – uhmm, no there are not. For instance I did a search for ‘Aylesford’ – I got a list of 20 venues, none of which are in Aylesford, and some are as far away as Rainham, which is on the other side of the River Thames, closer to London that Aylesford and freaking 25 miles away from Aylesford!! What is the point of that.

I have been a member of AirBnB for some years now and have used it quite a lot. One of the aspects that I have found MOST frustrating is locating a place in the specific area I’m searching for.

Like if I type in Maidstone….(which is in England) I get suggestions of places that are absolutely miles away from what I am searching for.
I notice that on most of the venues, the location details are quite obscure….like it will search for Medway or London for instance. But the locations that are suggested by AirBnB are not linked to what I searched for, but ‘possibly’ in the same general county.

It would be really useful if the hosts could be more specific with their settings: like for instance if I search for a place in ‘Maidstone’ all places that are actually in the vicinity should have the word Maidstone in their description and I don’t have to scroll through each one to see where they actually are. The map is all very well, but it’s cumbersome and not always easy to use.

This has been a source of frustration for me every time I use AirBnb but yesterday and today I have been clicking on so many locations that are not anywhere near the actual town/city I want to stay in.
So if the host could say: Maidstone, Medway, England, UK – it would be really helpful.
Or Aylesford, Medway, England, UK and not just ‘Private Room in Medway’ for instance. Where in Medway. Its like saying a place is in ‘London’ Yeah right! London has 32 boroughs!!

And if AirBnB could fix their location settings so that when I search for Aylesford I don’t get venues in Rochester, or Bearsted, or just ‘Medway’ coming up in what is sometimes a long list of venues. It’s quite tiresome and very frustrating. As you can probably see from this communication.
Perhaps include a setting for search wider area for people who have cars or are not bothered about where they stay.

But as a long distance walker, I have to be in a specific location and not having to travel by train to get where I want to sleep over. If there is no venue in the specific name; like Aylesford (for instance), then rather just have a notification pop us that says ‘nothing available in this location, do you want to extend your search?’, with a km scale like up to 5kms or 10 kms, that would be awesome.
Thank you,

I’m trying to plan my walk along the Pilgrim’s Way and it has been an exercise in frustration…for some overnights, I’ve just given up searching and will take the train back to my ‘home town’, stay overnight there and train back the next day. It’s a mission, and will cost extra and some journeys are over 2 hours there and 2 hours back, but it’s either that or not at all. urgh LOL

So yeah, a bit of a rant, but hey….its part of my life and we can write anything we like – sorry guys LOL

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A friend of mine of Facebook set up a writing challenge for September 2020….the idea being to write at least 500 words a day, every day, for September 2020. As she said in her post, 2020 has been one hell of a year and it’s worth recording our thoughts and feelings…or actually anything at all you fancy.

In response to her post I said “I’m in”….and so here I am….my first post for September 2020.

I don’t usually like making these types of commitments because I like to just go with the flow, but since today I finally sucked in my breath and made a commitment to continue and finish (that’s the plan) my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, I figured I had better just get on with it and be disciplined!! Actually earlier this year, on my 65th birthday I decided that I should start keeping a diary. I have never been a diary person and the diary I started for my daughter began and ended with the words “my darling Samantha” LOL that was over 40 years ago, Shame on me.

I’m not sure why, but I find it sooooo very difficult to just sit down before bedtime and write a few words…..and so much has happened since then that I’ve mostly forgotten about, so I am somewhat disappointed with myself. But because I post to instagram just about every day, I keep thinking to myself…..”Oh, I’ll just check instagram and see what I said on this that r the other day” urgh.

Okay, so I just checked and I’ve only reached 250 words…..waffling on hahahha. Okay so 500 words is actually quite a lot, but hey…guess what, I started planning the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way yesterday and today I booked the first 2 nights accommodation. It’s quite exciting and just a lot terrifying because I had to cut the journey short in 2018 after having 2 rather unpleasant falls. One was DOWN St Martha’s Hill near Guildford and the other was UP Box Hill on the way to Merstham. In both instances I hurt myself rather badly and by the day after I rather limped my way into Oxted and after waking the next day I decided to postpone (not quit) the final stages till I got my back and my leg sorted. That was in August 2018.

Of course since then my ever so beloved daughter has given birth to my absolutely delightful and much cherished grandson, and frankly, any thought of being away from him went out with the bath water!! I couldn’t tear myself away from this gorgeous baby boy, who is now nearly 20 months and an absolute charm….but much as it behoves me to be away from him during my work breaks, and much as I really just want to spend as much time with him as possible, I also need to get this walk done…..or it will be one of those things that I never complete…and my history is already littered with quite a few of those.

So here I am….and I have just reached 500 words. Hoorah!! So in conclusion, I shall bid you goodnight and see you tomorrow night with the next post…..keep me in check with this okay. I need y’all to stand behind me and give me a nudge if I don’t post something. Hope it’s not too boring LOL

Oh and p.s. why not join in….. 😉

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