Category Archives: Personal Style

Never being sorry

Sorry is not enough ~ sometimes you have to change.

What is a real and genuine apology?  It’s an acknowledgement and acceptance that one has done something wrong.  An apology is also an acceptance and acknowledgement of responsibility for the hurt one has caused, and a pledge to change one’s ways in the future.  A real and genuine apology is an expression of guilt, regret, remorse, and a pledge to try harder to do better in the future.  A real and genuine apology is not merely a platitude in order to placate the aggrieved party.

Feeling guilty is not a substitute for loving somebody; it is only an indicator that you have failed to love somebody.  ~  Clifford Cohen.

Sometimes just saying that you’re sorry will not do.  Ofttimes an apology is only an empty gesture made to ‘keep the peace’.  Sometimes the things that we do and say, the books we read, the movies we like, the people we listen to, sometimes these things reveal a deeper truth and our glib apologies are shown for the fatuous banalities they so often are.  An oft quoted line from John Wayne movies is; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness…’  A greater truth would have been if his character had said; ‘Never apologise, mister, it’s meaningless…’

If we are truly dedicated to the truth, and if we have good inside us, then we should never need to apologise, because we will never do anything so bad that we need to say ‘sorry…’  However, we Englishmen are prone to apologise, to say sorry all the time.  If you tread on my toe, I will naturally say sorry.  If you barge into me because you’re not looking where you’re going, I will naturally say sorry.  Any English Gentleman of my generation has been brought up to be polite, to always show exemplary manners, to show women and girls the utmost respect.  To mind one’s language, never swear in front of women and children, to be careful of the topics we discuss for fear of giving offence.  And, an Englishman should never, ever, talk about; God, women we have ‘known’, how much money we make, and politics ~ not even with our closest friends.  Englishmen regard politicians with utter contempt, and we extend that contempt to anyone who dares to lecture us on religion, or political matters, or how to make money, or how to be successful with women, or what the English do ‘wrong’.

A side effect of the English ideal of ‘Good Manners’ is that we look askance at most American men, and would rather not include any boorish American men in our circle of friends.  The average Englishman doesn’t think the average American guy is a ‘good person’.  Sometimes this means that even a cool, calm, patiently understanding Englishman will get angry with Americans.  Recently we Englishmen have been quite annoyed / furious at Clinton, (both of them), Obama, Trump, Meryl Streep, and anyone who dares to lecture us about terrorism on English soil. Conversely, of English politicians we like Boris Johnson, (whom most Americans dislike intensely).

 In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix must first burn.  ~  Octavia E. Butler.

If an Englishman does get angry, then usually, after a while, his innate ‘good common-sense’ returns like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and he will attempt to rebuild burned bridges, to forgive and forget, to understand and accept.  Disagreeing with the things people say, and then getting angry about it, is not the mark of a good man.  There is a saying; ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the Death your right to say it…’  Voltaire I think.  I prefer the pithier and more honest; ‘You’re right, but I don’t agree…’  We may have to dig deep, but a real English Gentleman will eventually find the fountain of good within himself.

Look within.  Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up if thou wilt ever dig.  ~  Marcus Aurelius

I may like, care about, and respect some people in spite of their opinions, the things they do, the things they have done, and the things they are planning to do ~ even if I am hurt or profoundly disagree with their opinions and actions.  After all, I cannot change what happens to me, I can only change how I respond and react.  It matters not one iota whether another person ever feels the need to apologise when they have clearly been wrong and hurtful ~ after all, one should never apologise, it’s meaningless.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Your Ultimate Truth

There is a warrior’s path to the end of suffering.

In my life I have been lost, often alone, and sometimes in pain.  I have been down and disappointed, I have been beaten by misfortune, I’ve been so tired and despairing I could not eat or sleep, I’ve been crushed by unrequited love, I wanted things that were always out of reach, and I was so lonely I cried bitter tears.  Then I found a guiding star to wish to, and that bright star led me to a good place of freedom from pain and suffering.  Now I can cross broad oceans, climb tall mountains, see the far horizons.

Now I can experience true friendship and real love.

Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards, and leads us from this world to another.  ~  Plato

You too can find your star to wish upon and to follow, if only you are prepared to search both the heavens and deep within yourself.

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy a supercomputer reveals that the ultimate answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything is 42.

The answer to the Great Question… Of Life, the Universe, and Everything… Is… Forty-Two.  ~  Deep Thought

This was meant as a joke, 42 was just a random number picked out of thin air by Douglas Adams, the author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.  Allegedly.  However it turns out that the number forty-two has symbolism and special meanings in a whole raft of philosophies, religions, and magical convictions.  Forty-two is a highly symbolic number slipped into a work of fiction, seemingly by accident, or coincidence.

However, despite what some may say, there is an answer, a simple answer to Life.

If we are to believe numerology then 42 is an Angel Number, and the energies of this number bring us an inner-wisdom to help us pursue our Life Purpose.  To pursue your Life Purpose, then first you must realise that the true purpose of your life is to live and to grow ~ to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, in health and happiness.  That may be a long, long way from where you find yourself right now.

In order to get to where you want to go, you first have to know two things;

  • Exactly where you are right now.
  • Exactly where it is you want to get to.

You don’t need to know the road in-between, that will become only too apparent on your journey to your ultimate truth.

If you are anything like I used to be, then where you are right now could be unhealthy, unsatisfying, and depressing.  There may be no real joy and happiness in your life.  You may see no way out, even though you have sought relief and escape through religion, inspirational books, motivational speakers, support groups, counsellors, psychologists, doctors, medication, booze, street drugs, gambling, casual sex…

None of those escape routes will work for long, and the consequences of some methods of escape from hard reality just make things much worse.  I know, before I found my own ultimate truth, my own warrior’s path, I tried just about every quick fix there is.

There are more false prophets than there are those inspired by an ultimate truth.

Taking the wrong road through self-destructive behaviour leads to one rock-bottom after another, and each new rock-bottom is worse than the one before.

There are no quick fixes in Life, and nobody can fix you but you.

The Ultimate Truth is this;  Life is Difficult and Painful.

Once you are prepared to recognise that truth, once you are prepared to accept, appreciate, and understand that Life is Difficult and Painful, then you can transcend all pain and suffering.  You can take your first step on the warrior’s path to freedom from desolation and misery.

The first step in any journey is always the hardest.  It will mean uncertainty, leaving your comfort zone, doing things that seem unnatural, and at first it may seem just as painful as the misery you’re trying to leave behind.  But, you have to know this ~ follow the warrior’s path and things will get better.  Your life will become even better than you could ever have imagined it could be.

The first step is to recognise and accept that you are the cause of your own unhappiness.  Whatever the proximate cause of your misery and unhappiness, be it alcoholism, gambling, an abusive relationship, or whatever is your personal purgatory, the ultimate cause of your pain is your own need for instant gratification.  We must to accept that the causes of all our problems and unhappiness are our own cravings, desires, wants, lusts, needs, and our blaming of others when things don’t go the way we want them to.

The path to freedom from suffering and pain is through self-discipline in body, mind and spirit.  This is the ultimate answer to Life, our Psychological Cosmos, and Everything.

Self-discipline is hard, it means not taking that next drink, not having that next cigarette, not overeating, not placing our happiness in the hands of another.  Self-discipline means turning up for work on time, getting enough good quality sleep, getting enough fresh air and exercise.  Self-discipline means not blaming others for our misfortunes, not spending money we don’t have, not allowing ourselves to become infatuated with someone who will never truly return our affections.  Self-discipline is what will free you from pain, misery, and the teachings of false prophets.

You don’t need the hurt anymore, and you don’t need the pain in your life.  I promise you that if you accept and understand that you can’t ever change what happens to you, but you can change what you do, then your shadows will turn into warm sunlight.  Don’t ever allow yourself to give in to your craving for instant gratification, have the patience to appreciate, accept,and understand yourself, trust in yourself and not in others, and your life will get better.  Your whole life will improve very fast, and it will be better than you have ever dreamed possible.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ Sheet Pan

Eating is a Necessity, but cooking is an Art.

If you don’t have a sheet pan, get one.  It’s a super way to cook an easy and healthy meal in about 30 minutes, especially a sheet pan midweek dinner, especially if you’re a very busy person trying to hold down a full-time job as well as have a real life.

Chungah at Damn Delicious has some great sheet pan recipes, sheet pan garlic butter shrimp, sheet pan steak and fries, and this one, sheet pan garlic butter salmon.  Looks nice for a healthy dinner.  I know my friend in Southern California would lake me to make this for her sometime.

Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Salmon

Cool San Diego girl Averie, of Averie Cooks also likes 30 minute sheet pan dishes like this sheet pan Italian chicken and vegetables, sheet pan orange chili salmon, and Averie also has another salmon dish, sheet pan honey lemon salmon.  If you like honey, then this dish is for you, particularly if you live in SoCal and have a lemon tree in your yard.

Sheet Pan Honey Lemon Salmon

Found for us by How Sweet It Is we now have a recipe from Alyssa at The Recipe Critic; Thai Glazed Salmon and Vegetables ~ another delicious 30 minute recipe ~ and just how cool is that?

Thai Glazed Salmon and Vegetables

From Kansas City girl Katherine at Cookie and Kate we have this vegan and gluten free balsamic butternut, kale and cranberry panzanella.  Enjoy.

Balsamic Butternut, Kale and Cranberry Panzanella

This is different, damn easy, and so damn fast.  From Karen at Honestly Yum we have sweet potato nachos ~ made with chips in 3 minutes….  well maybe 10 minutes all together.  If you want to graze or snack in front of the TV with a beer or glass of wine then these are for you.

Sweet Potato Nachos

This is a meal to gladden the heart of any true Englishman; found for us by Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes we have sheet pan fish and chips from Boston cook Sheryl Julian.  Brilliant!

Sheet Pan Fish and Chips

I hope you’ve realised by now that a sheet pan is your new secret weapon ~ if your busy, and don’t really have time to cook, then try one of these 20 sheet pan suppers you’ll love, found just for you by Becca DiCenso at Eat This, Not That.  I like the look of this chimichurri chicken and potato sheet pan meal from Dara at Cookin’ Canuk, and how about one pan honey roasted turkey and vegetables from Katie Jasiewicz at Katie’s Cucina?

One Pan Honey Roasted Turkey and Vegetables

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thanks ever so to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Deskbound to an Early Death?

Office work is injurious to your health.

If you spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk, your health will suffer, your fitness will suffer, and you may be heading to an early grave.  In fact over a 20 year period you are 60% more likely to die than someone who leads an active life, (defined as a couple of hours physical activity a day).  A sedentary lifestyle can kill you.

A deskbound, sedentary lifestyle means that you will be  far more likely to suffer from all kinds of nasty illnesses, including; heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, insomnia, poor circulation, back pain, neck pain, brittle bones, arthritis, gout, obesity, stomach problems…

However, there are some fairly easy changes you can make to your deskbound lifestyle to make up for the fact that for eight hours a day you’re mostly a potato.  All you really need is a little bit of self-discipline, and you could transform your life by following some, (or all), of these simple suggestions.

Seems like a lot of fuss and effort, doesn’t it?  OK, don’t bother to do any of this.  Don’t make any changes to your sedentary life.  Be a boring person, get sick, feel terrible, die before you should.  With one exception I don’t give a damn if you follow any of this advice or not.  It’s your life, such as it is, you are free to be a desk potato, if that’s what you really want.

But remember, if you just sit at your desk for eight hours a day, then you have to do a solid hour’s exercise in the evenings just to undo all the harm you’ve done to your body, mind, and spirit during the working day.

Get more exercise and have a nice life.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ Shellfish

Europe’s the mayonnaise, but America supplies the lobster.

There are shellfish, and then there are scary shellfish.  Shrimp are really easy to cook ~ it’s pretty much impossible for a reasonable cook to make a mess of a shrimp recipe, but after that maybe things get a little more difficult.  This week we have a mixture of easy shrimp dishes and some other shellfish, which you may think are scary, but aren’t really.

For our first dish for this week, from Amanda at Chez le Rêve Français, we have these seared scallops on peas with chorizo.  This is really an easy dish to make, and would be a brilliant light dinner or impressive starter.  As it happens, I like scallops.

Seared Scallops on Peas with Chorizo

Here’s an interesting, gluten-free dish from Heather Christo.  Paleo Beet Pesto with Spicy Herb Shrimp.  This easy 25 minute recipe ticks so many boxes for me, including; Paleo, Gluten-Free, and Beets ~ beets are another of those superfoods…  Anyhow, I also like shrimp.

Paleo Beet Pesto with Spicy Herb Shrimp

Andrea at Cooking With A Wallflower has this super quick and easy recipe for Spicy Garlic Soy Shrimp, I’ve made this dish several times, and I love it.  Serve with rice, noodles, or salad.

Spicy Garlic Soy Shrimp

Another shrimp dish, this time from Chungah at Damn Delicious.  This is a cool 5 ingredient dinner, Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Shrimp.  I really like the look of this 25 minute dish.  But then I really like all Cungah’s sheet pan recipes.

Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Shrimp

Well, I’m certain my friend in Orange County will love this dish from Anne at Tasting Everything; bright and healthy coconut soup with rice noodles and mussels.  On the other hand, I can’t see my friend making this for herself, so maybe I’ll cook it for her the next time I visit SoCal.  Personally, mussels aren’t my favourite shellfish, but this is a great recipe.

Bright and Healthy Coconut Soup with Rice Noodles and Mussels

This is a completely fabulous recipe from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes; Cioppino, a San Francisco Fisherman’s fish and shellfish stew.  You need the freshest possible crab, shrimp, clams / mussels, and a good white fish, but it makes a brilliant dish.  I love it.

Cioppino

And, finally for this week ~ Lobster.  And we have a collection of 35 Lobster Recipes from Great British Chefs.  This collection includes this classic Grilled Lobster from Bryan Webb.  Just how impressive do you want to be?

Grilled Lobster

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Many, many thanks to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday.

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Mazda M-X5

Sports Car, Cool Car, Girl’s Car.

At a time when mainstream British car manufacturers thought it impossible to go on making small convertible sports cars, Mazda from Japan came up with the M-X5.  The little Mazda carried the torch first lit by classic English sports cars like the Austin-Healey Sprite, MGB, Triumph Spitfire ~ and in particular the brilliant Lotus Elan.  The original Mazda M-X5 could almost have been copied from the Elan, what with its 1.6 litre twin-cam engine, pop-up headlights, and clever longitudinal truss, (Power Plant Frame), that mimics the Elan’s backbone chassis.

The MX-5 wasn’t designed in Japan either ~ it was planned in California by a team led by Englishman Bob Hall.  An Englishman in California is just about the perfect combination when it comes to cars.  Of course what the Mazda team didn’t copy from Colin Chapman’s Lotus was fragility, unreliability, and extreme lightness.

First launched at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, the M-X5 was and is a fairly small front-engine, rear-wheel-drive roadster, with a twin-cam engine of between 1.6 and 2.0 litres.  There’s a five-speed gearbox in the middle, double wishbone independent suspension at both ends, and disk brakes, (ventilated at the front).  The original model weighed in at almost exactly ton, (which is a portly 600 pounds more than the diminutive Lotus).  It even looked like a Lotus Elan ~ which was no bad thing.

As well as the looks and layout, what the original design team got right was balance.  The unladen M-X5 has an ideal 50/50 weight distribution, which means that the handling ~ the feel of the car when you drive it ~ is just about perfect.  This makes the little Mazda a ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ car to own and drive.

The M-X5 is by no means a fast car.  The 1989 original came with just about the same power as a Lotus Elan, but it weighed a third more, so it was a tad sluggish.  The traffic-light sprint 0-60 mph time was over 8 seconds and it would run out of steam at about 115 mph.  But do you know what?  With the top down, on country roads, with the brilliant handling and roadholding the design naturally produces, the original M-X5 was more than fast enough.

Among older English car enthusiasts the word to describe the way an M-X5 drives is ‘chuckable’.  (It reacts easily, safely, and can be forced into doing things it really shouldn’t ~ it probably won’t kill you.)

The little Mazda is also a great car for a long road trip.  It’s a nice place to sit for hours, rides fairly comfortably and quietly, there’s decent luggage space, it’s economical, and the top comes down.  What’s not to like?

If you are mechanically minded with some practical skills, you could buy yourself an early M-X5 for a couple of thousand pounds / dollars.  The thing is simple enough to allow a complete rebuild, in the same way that one could rebuild an MGB.  But why would you bother?  The Mazda M-X5 is a classic design, but it isn’t actually rare, (unless it’s a really early car in light blue mica or British Racing Green), and a newer car needing much less work is within the spending reach of just about everyone.

A new M-X5 will set you back around £20,000, (or $30,000), depending on the exact specification.  For that you will get a very capable, very over-engineered, and very over-styled car that is so attractively modern-metrosexual it should only be bought by make-up artists, hairdressers, or real estate agents.

At the upper end of the scale a new M-X5, the fastback with a retractable steel roof will cost you about £28,000, (you can get one of these for $35,000 in California).  That would also give you a 160 bhp two-litre engine and six-speed gearbox, all in an overstyled package that weighs in at 2,470 pounds ~ no thanks.

The new M-X5 is so far away from its Lotus Elan spiritual inspiration that it’s not even in the same millennium.  I would not waste my money on a new M-X5.  If I was really in the market for one of these little Japanese / English / Californian sports cars I would look for an early example, pop-up headlights and everything.  In comparison to rebuilding a rotted MGB, working on a Mazda would be child’s play.  The three critical areas for structural soundness are the Power Plant Frame and the front and rear subframes, and all three can be replaced.

Some cars are obvious Guy, some Girl, and a few go both ways.  Why is the Mazda a Girl’s Car?  If you have to ask then you’re either a girl, or a metrosexual male who doesn’t know one end of a torque-wrench from the other.  You wouldn’t expect to spoil your manicure if you owned a new Mazda M-X5.

Would I buy one?  Yes, so long as it does look like a Lotus Elan.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net.

Scenes on Sunday ~ First Light

By Dawn’s Early Light.

day’s aurora awakens, in first light blue

cold tranquil loneliness, still sea’s sibilance

solitary thoughts ever-changing, ever the same

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

sleepless dark thoughts

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conflicted consequences midnight conversations

capture consciousness with suspicious conflictions

half-held convictions considerations and reflections

untrustworthy late night speculation and impressions

bring brooding concentration by darkest moonshadows

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words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Food on Friday ~ Comfort Food

Ultimately, food is the most satisfying form of comfort.

Even though spring has arrived in more southerly parts of the world, it’s still cold and wintry here in Northern England.  Trust me, there’s still a need for comfort food here in the colder parts of the world.

First for you this week, from Joanne at No Plate Like Home is a great English staple ~ shepherds pie.  Usually made with ground beef, but sometimes with ground lamb, this 45 minute dish is a fantastic midweek dinner.

Shepherds Pie

And next, from English Foodie abroad at Chez le Rêve Français, we have another savoury pie, this time a  chicken and leek pie.  This looks a fabulous dish, which should take you around an hour to make.

Chicken and Leek Pie

Now for something easier and quicker from Chungah at Damn Delicious, there’s this great sheet pan steak and fries.  I really like dishes we can make in just one pan.

Sheet Pan Steak and Fries

Soup is also a wonderful winter comfort food, and from Canadian girl Heather at the flourishing foodie I can offer you this cauliflower, leek, and carrot soup.  Would be great with some crusty bread and fresh butter.

Cauliflower Leek and Carrot Soup

Something that isn’t a savoury pie, but kind of ticks all the pie boxes.  From Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest, there’s this great looking Irishman’s beef brisket burrito.  I’m not usually a fan of burritos, but I really like the look of this dish.

Irishman’s Beef Brisket Burrito

Another Irish Beef dish, this time Irish Beef Stew from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes.  You know what?  In England we really like Irish Beef, but St. Patrick’s Day does nothing for most of us ~ maybe the English history with Ireland is just too long and chequered ~ and likely to more so as Brexit plays out..

Irish Beef Stew

Finally for this week, from Heather Christo, some real late-night comfort food.  This rich, but vegan and gluten free brown sugar spiced banana rum cake.  So, what’s not to like?

Brown Sugar Spiced Banana Rum Cake

A big thank you to all the great cooks featured in this week’s Food on Friday

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Scenes on Sunday ~ Palm Springs

Ninety miles from where I like to stay in California is the once sleepy town of Palm Springs.  Sinatra sang there.

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P1040173pictures by the girl riding shotgun

jackcollier&@talktalk.net

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