An Alphabet Of My Life: F


Being an only child with no siblings to play with, friends became important to me at an early age. Once I went to Primary School at the age of 6, I soon discovered that being good at sport, especially football, was a good way to make friends.

But I was below average at sport.

So I made friends with the other kids who lived near me, but didn’t necessarily go to the same school. Playing out, as we called it, was done on the streets in the London borough I lived in. If there was an older boy in the group, he was considered to be in charge of the rest of us. Girls rarely featured, unless as the younger sister of one of the boys who was having to look after her.

Looking back, I realise that few if any of those street playmates ever became friends for more than a few months, perhaps a year. It was when I went to the secondary school at the age of 11 that I soon made real friends. These were the friends who came to my house, and I went to theirs. I got to know their families as well as I knew my own. We ate at each other’s houses, and spent most of the school holidays together.

Once we were in our teens, we dated girls together, drove around in each other’s cars, and even went on holidays together, or in small groups. Only leaving school and going to work started to break those bonds, followed by marriages, and moving to different areas a long way from each other.

However, two of those friends are still among my closest friends. We have been that way for over 59 years.

Another ‘category’ of friends would include work colleagues. Some of those are still in touch, and I see one of them around once a year. Another one speaks to me on the phone every month. He is in his 80s now, but we chat as if we are both still at work together in 1981.

Other friends include the group I once shared a house with, when I was 19. I wrote about meeting up with some of them again recently, one of whom I had not seen for 50 years. But it was as if we had just ‘left the room’ for a moment.

Getting older also means losing friends to illness, and that sad list gets longer every year. That is only to be expected, but that realisation doesn’t make it any easier.

Unlike family, great friends rarely judge you, and almost never have expectations of you. You can forget to call them, cancel appointments to see them, and it is always okay. You catch up when you can, no hard feelings. Modern times have given us email and text to help communicate. Before those, we had real letters, and landline phone calls. You had to make the effort, but it was worth that effort.

Since 2012, I have also made Blogging Friends. Genuine close communication with people I have never met, and most likely never will meet. But those friendships are as real as if I had gone to school with them, shared a house with them, or worked alongside them.

True friends are worth their weight in gold.

Has Blogging Reached Its Peak?

With new followers as rare as hen’s teeth, and many of the ‘Lockdown Bloggers’ disappearing as quickly as they arrived in 2020, I am left wondering whether or not Blogging has had its day.

From limited research, it would seem that Instagram and You Tube have attracted people who might otherwise have been blogging. The instant gratification of a photo or video is a lot less work that an 700-word blog post or a fiction serial, let’s face it.

Over the past few months, I have noticed that comments on my posts are almost always from the same group of people. No complaints about that, as they are my blogging friends, and I value their input and contribution to our community more than I can say.

But casting my eye over other blogs, there is definite evidence of a ‘slowdown’. Many are receiving fewer comments, and no replies to replies. The Reader seems to be being used to just ‘Like’ posts almost immediately, and the amount of comments generated by most posts is falling all over WordPress.

So, does this matter? Personally, I would blog to online tumbleweed, comments or not. But many bloggers are becoming frustrated by the lack of engagement in 2022, and I understand that frustration. I confess that I am lucky. I have amazing followers, regular comments, and daily blog views are usually around 300 since the ‘slowdown’.

Becoming part of such a community takes commitment, and a lot of time at the keyboard. Content is king. So if you do not post regularly, you will get sparse views of your old ones.

Let’s all agree to keep up with the blogs we follow. Show some encouragement, leave comments as well as likes, and keep the circle of blogging alive.

If not, what was it all for?

The Missing Bloggers

I got to thinking about the bloggers who have gone ‘missing’, with little or no explanation.

I miss their posts, their comments, and their occasional emails too.

Some of you will remember them.



Abbi Osbiston.


That is just a selection of four of them, but there have been many others. I believe some of you followed those featured.

I am worried about them. In some cases, I have emailed them a few times, and received no reply. Others have left their blog open with the last post published showing the date of their departure, reminding me of the tale of the Marie Celeste.

It is not my place to pester them, but blogging is all about community, and caring about our blogging friends.

So if any of you see those links or pingbacks, please let me know you are okay.

The Blogging Years

If I make it to this (my 70th) summer, I will have been blogging for ten years. I know many of you have been bloggers for a lot longer than that, but it only feels like last week since I tentatively pressed ‘Publish’ on my first ever blog post.

A lot has happened since then.

I have made amazing friends, and lost quite a few of them too soon too. I have had stories/articles/blog posts published online, in paper magazines, and even in a published anthology book. Outside of my family, and Ollie of course, blogging has become ‘what I do’, and I have even been recognised in Beetley by strangers, because of the photos I have published of Ollie.

I have published 4,608 posts, including this one, and had 580,000 views of my blog from 188,000 visitors. On one day, I had over 820 views, still the best so far.

My posts have been shared almost 16,000 times on Twitter, 6,800 times on Linkedin, and 6,700 times on Facebook. I am not even on Facebook, so that’s a bonus!

I have been ‘Press This’ 42 times, and I still don’t know what that means. 🙂

16 of my posts have been shared by email, and each post has averaged 45 comments. (As I reply to all comments, you can halve that to 22)

As of today, the lovely Jennie Fitzkee at is currently my top commenter. But Jennie is American, and very polite, so always adds ‘You’re welcome’ when I thank her for her comments.

Could there be a better hobby/pastime than blogging? I don’t think so. You can do it anywhere, inside or out, and you will meet some marvellous people from all around the world, if you do it right.

So, to all you ‘New Year’ bloggers. Keep at it. Don’t give up.

It will enrich your life.

Christmas Blogging

Only a few days to go before the three-day Christmas break, and some bloggers are already disappearing from their blogs to make trips to family or preparations to receive them.

This is always a quiet time of year in the blogging community, something to be expected.

With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy and peaceful Christmas to anyone who will not be around for the next week or so.

And at this time of year, let us not forget those who will not be in the mood to celebrate the festivities. Those who have lost loved ones in 2021, or are living alone without family or close friends. Widows and widowers, orphans, those suffering from depression or debilitating medical disabilities, and the many who are ill from the symptoms of Covid-19.

As we eat too much, drink a little too much, and exchange gifts, we have to remember those who have nothing to look forward to, and keep them in our thoughts.

Heading South

Tomorrow, I will be leaving the confines of Beetley, passing through the Norfolk County border checkpoints, and heading south with Julie and Ollie.

For the first time since March 2020, we will be visiting relatives and friends in Essex and Kent, on a 250-mile round trip. I know that’s not much by American standards, but after close to eighteen months of lockdown, it feels like a real escape to me.

As a result, I will be away from the blog for a few days. The serial will return after I get back, and I won’t be doing any other posting, or commenting on blogs I follow. I suppose I could try to manage that on my Fire Tablet, but I doubt I will want to struggle with that.

I thought I would let everyone know, in case you thought I had dropped dead!

Best wishes to you all, Pete.

Meeting Good Friends

Regular readers will know that I often mention my friend, Antony. He sends me interesting video clips, and as an accomplished photographer, he also took the photo on my ‘About’ page. I have known him for a long time, since we both worked as EMTs at the same ambulance station in London, then much later he came to work alongside me for the Police in that city. He still lives there, and still works in the same job.

In 2014, we attended his wedding to Natalie, on the south coast. Then in 2017, Antony and I (with Ollie) had a walking holiday in the Lake District which was later the subject of many photo posts on this blog. But given the distance, we haven’t seen each other since, despite keeping in regular contact by phone and email.

On Thursday, Antony and Natalie were returning from a trip to the north of England, and had arranged to stay the night in Wells-Next-The-Sea. As this is only a short drive from Beetley, we could meet up, enjoy a coastal walk, and then go to a restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, Julie hurt her back badly on Monday, and was unable to come. Nonetheless, I was delighted to see Antony and Natalie, and we did go for that coastal walk, followed by a very nice meal and a long after-dinner chat.

(I’m on the right, in case you didn’t know who was who.
The photo can be greatly enlarged by clicking on it.)

As they were not leaving Norfolk until almost 2pm on Friday, they suggested meeting at Holkham Hall that morning. With Julie still unable to walk properly, I went with Ollie, and we met in the car park of that impressive house.

We then had a long walk around the extensive grounds, happy to have more time to catch up on those five years. Although Ollie had to remain on his lead, he seemed to be delighted to explore somewhere he hadn’t been for a long time.

Then it was time to say farewell just after 1:30pm, hoping it will not be another five years until we meet again.

Ollie: An Eventful Walk

For the last few days, Ollie has not had much fun on his walks. Many of his regular doggy pals have been notable by their absence, and the few dogs he did encounter didn’t seem to like him that much, including one tiny terrier who attacked him on sight.

The day before yesterday we got a real soaking in unexpected rain, and yesterday we only saw one other dog, in more than two hours of walking around.

Today was sunny to start, with ‘showers’ supposed to arrive after 3 pm. So I set off a bit earlier, and it proved to be a good plan. Ollie soon met up with a couple of friendly Spaniels he knows, and the new arrival of a small white Staffordshire Bull Terrier proved to be a friendly encounter too.

Over on Hoe Rough, there seemed to be no dog-walkers today. But halfway round the right hand path, Ollie spotted a white-tailed deer crossing the path up ahead, and took off in hunting mode. No chance of catching it of course, but until it went to ground in a dense thicket of shrubs, he had a good chase.

Then he decided to track the animals route, nose to the ground, sniffing like a Bloodhound.

He was excited enough to need a long dip in the river before we started on the return journey to Beetley Meadows. Once back over the bridge, Ollie was delighted to see little Lola, the affectionate Shih Tzu. And she was in the company of Zen, the feisty miniature Chihuahua.

The three of them had a good meet, with strokes and cuddles all round, and lots of sniffing and running in small circles.

By the time we got home, Ollie was ready for his dinner, and he is now sleeping soundly next to me, after his eventful walk.

Friendship, And Distance

I read a post earlier today from my blogging friend in Australia, Lloyd Marken. He wrote about attending the wedding of a friend. Since those friends had grown up, got married, and moved around the vast country that is Australia, they don’t get to see that much of each other. But when he was invited to that old friend’s wedding, he did not hesitate to book a hotel, then drive almost 800 miles to Sydney.

Real friends are like gold dust. Real friends endure, despite distances that might separate you. And they rarely judge you.

Compared to Australia, England is tiny. Yet moving just 140 miles from London means that I rarely see my oldest and best friends. Add to that the sad fact that a few of them have died, and you might be forgiven for thinking that my friends are now few and far between.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite lack of physical contact since I moved to Beetley, made worse by travel restrictions during the pandemic lockdowns, my oldest friends are undoubtedly still my best friends, whether I am able to see them, or not.

There is nothing I would not do for those real friends. I would give them my last pound, lie in court for them, and give them my car if they needed to drive anywhere. I would let them stay in my house rent-free, send them food, in fact anything they ever needed or wanted.

The simple fact that I no longer live near any of them is meaningless. For that matter, I could be living in Australia, and never see them again.

But they would be my best friends, until my dying day.

New Arrivals: Rusty

Last December, I mentioned Rusty, a puppy that had arrived on the dog-walking scene. Full of youthful exuberance, he is always excited to see Ollie, and beside himself with the desire to play. Unfortunately, Ollie considers himself above such childish behaviour now, so Rusty has to make do with pretending to play, while Ollie stands still and gives him an occasional warning growl.

Rusty is older now of course, though not that much bigger. He enjoyed himself in the snow when it was here.

He recently had his first trip to the groomer, and his super-soft fur is looking in top condition.

I am hoping that Ollie will soon decide that Rusty is in his gang, and one of his new best friends. But I’m not holding my breath. 🙂