Sunday, 23 July 2017

Skirted Man Marches Forward Pushing Men in Skirts in the Real World

It is some 7 months since I last posted here. I'm sure I have said this before but time is flying by. What have I been doing. A lot is the answer.

Since 8th January I stuck to my recovery expectation. My Consultant said based upon my positive attitude and drive, that I do not smoke, drink in moderation and infrequently, my exercise of gardening and fell walking preferably between 10 and 18 miles, he was confident I would be back to normal by 1st May 2017. That was my target, before the 1st May. When I saw him on 29th December 2016 to officially discharge me and commence the UK NHS 5 year cancer monitoring programme for me, by then I had done two weeks of minimal exercise followed with 4 weeks of moving about but not exerting myself, basically walking around the house. Certainly no fell walking or my serious DIY. From January I was told to start building my fitness back gradually. I started by doing 0.1 mile moving rapidly to 0.25 mile. I would do this 3 or 4 times a day for a week slowly increasing my distance. Where we live we have good land marks at varying miles so setting a target in this routine was quite easy knowing that I could as and when increase the mileage to the next land mark. All on tarmac roads and hard surfaces, I was not to go on rough ground or fell walk until at least May. By the beginning of March I was doing 14 miles on roads, including inclines at least 3 times a week and each day a minimum of 8. From early March averaging 60 to 70 miles a week was being recorded. No DIY was done, I simply read, attended meetings, my voluntary work but walked. Even our dog of 11 years with arthritis and stiffness in his legs, especially the back legs benefited greatly. If I went, he went. Prior to my operation we thought his days were numbered, struggling to sit down, doing a 12 miler once a week made no difference but by the end of March, sitting down and stairs were not a problem. He looked better! He is better with the exercising obviously easing the arthritis.

On 29th March I saw the Consultant again. The first of 4 quarterly checks in year one, 6 monthly in year 2 and yearly in years 3 to 5. He was very pleased, more than pleased with my recovery saying he knows fit people who could not do 14 miles. I told him I am desperate for a proper fell walk and his reply was, do it, just back off the moment you feel anything not right, anything.

On the 2nd April 2017, with a very good forecast of weather my wife and I set off to do Mount Snowdon in Wales, from home in one day! We drove there arriving at 9 am, had breakfast, started walking just before 10 am, completed 9.5 miles reaching the summit and Garnedd Ugain, returning back down around 4.30 pm. A pleasant drive to a lake with fine mountain scenery for a picnic and our journey back. Weather absolutely perfect, as to clarity. Wind none. On the top at over 3000ft (1085m). As far as I was concerned, it was business as usual. This photo is of me 4 months less 1 day after major surgery. My Consultant suggested I still stayed off my serious DIY for a while longer and my wife and I decided we would until November 2017 when the garden season closed.

I was back gardening as in previous years, and since my wife retired, tending to 15 clients over 6 days in a 28 day period. In January 2017 I attended 2 meetings in connection with our National Trust Volunteering roles and their season started 12th February. Without looking back I am sure I have mentioned our volunteering roles at the National Trust in blogs last year. This year was different. The Hall had a few problems a few years ago and the new management were getting things moving again increasing the days open. in 2017 a new day for opening was to be and I put my name forward to be considered for Day Coordinator. This role coordinates the teams attendance for the day, making sure rooms were covered by volunteers and coordinating lunch covers for those there all day. With this being a new day we had no team but by the start of the season with a recruitment drive we had a team, gaining one or two more as the season went on. Four volunteers who had worked with me last year when we did two alternate days each week came and joined me. I attended the volunteer enquiry day in late January. As last year at the National Trust, and as I say frequently in these blogs, I was skirted and in clothing as seen in the photos on my web site. I was skirted at the volunteer enquiry day and know one was forewarned - why should they - and I had no problems securing volunteers even though the drive was for a 4 days currently open! I gained the largest share of new volunteers from that event and by the end of March I can field when I have a full attendance of 9 in the morning and 9 in the afternoon. The man in a skirt, the same as women in male style clothing was not having any negative effect. The team are very supportive of me and extremely loyal to the team and proactive. Yes I have had about 5 visitors so far this year who have made it known to me of their disapproval but the vast majority interact with me with no issue. If a visitor asks about me to a team member they talk positively of me and why. The Halls visitor numbers are rapidly increasing over the last two years and so far this year 99% ahead of managements budget figures and before any readers think its due to me, a visitor attraction, it isn't, the numbers are up across the the 4 days and our day is consistently the 3rd best performing day out of the 4, not top and therefore not way above the other 3 days. Therefore the sight of a man in a skirt does not move visitors and can indicate it is not an issue to the vast majority, just a very small minority.

The push and promoting of men in skirts in the real world continues.
The National Trust are embracing Diversity and Inclusion in a very big way with promotions and taking part in events. The National Trust are keen to cast a modern image and approach to its business style by getting out the message to the public at large that it does embrace and take on all from all forms of diversity and break the stereotypical image of elderly white women in tweed skirts.
I was approached by my line manager if I would be interested in taking part in a National Trust filming for Diversity and Inclusion. This filming is to be used as training as well as promotional. I obviously said yes. This took place on the 1st June 2017 at Fountains Abbey with 7 from the North of England and the previous day filming down South had 5. Lots of stills and video was taken for various future tasks, one of which a two minute film was shown at the National Trust Convestival 2017. As with most filming exercises you are just untilised with directed input and no feed back of output. I would do it again if asked but reality is not as discussed and you do not really know what is going on with a plan of action.
A link to the Confestival film on the National Trust Intranet has been sent to all participants. I have promoted men in skirts though in a big way, via a large organisation in a commercial and work environment.

It didn't finish there. By pure fluke, I was at home on Friday 23rd March. It was a very wet day and very unusual for me at 9 am I went on Twitter. It was the week the Exeter School boys were going viral on social media in protest to school policy that boys were only allowed long trousers not shorts when girls could wear trousers or skirts. Being told no by their headteacher, 30 students went to school in school uniform skirts. Search the net, if you had not heard. I stayed away from reactions to their protest as they were only using skirts as a means to their ends but the discussion widened to men generally and male office workers and I did join in many tweets and other areas of debate in the run up to the 23rd June. On the morning of the 23rd it was still reverberating the internet with a tweet coming my way from BBC Radio York that at 9 they were to discuss this subject. I sent them a reply. I have done this to both National BBC and ITV on earlier discussions over them months and years and get zero response but not this time. Replying to tweets under my search men in skirts, man in a skirt, and checking replies I had posted on independent articles the two days prior, I did not realise that BBC Radio York had tweeted me back, sent an email via my web site asking for me to partake in the discussion, live on air. It was 10 am before I realised and the discussion time had gone but I called them and I was interviewed by the programmes researcher and at 11.40 I had a 10 minute slot talking about myself and men in skirts. There is an audio link to it on my web site or go direct by clicking here. Another opportunity taken to push men in skirts as being no different to women in trousers. Sadly it didn't go any further but the researcher thanked me afterwards and said I had certainly opened a few eyes to the subject and not just at the radio station. The show presenter sent me a Direct Message via Twitter thanking me and also said the experience had been very enlightening for many.

My wife and I have been out and about a lot over these last 7 months. We still partake in two music societies, one winter, one summer, on a monthly basis, attending a third making it twice on many months. We have been to plays at theaters and to hear speakers like Sir Rannulph Fiennes and Drummers called Yamato Drummers. You would think 5 minutes of drumming and you've heard them. 2 hours later you wanted them to continue. Not had much opportunity for folk music but have booked 6 folk concerts for later in the year. Had 5 days down in York staying at a hotel in York and not a single pair of trousers were in my suitcase.
Photos of me in York are on my web site. These like other day to day duties like food shopping etc are all skirted. We are still active in the walking club, where walks are not done in a skirt, but their social events are. Both my wife and I are well liked and encouraged. I do know there are a small minority who do not agree with the skirt wearing but the vast majority are not but the minority say nothing but the vast majority are encouraging and speak positively. We have started to walk with another walking club, and as far as I am aware they do not know. They will in due course but most of my walking, especially club walks I am always in trousers. I will promote men in skirts, talk about it, but I do it as and when not make an issue or force it onto the discussion platform unless it is the discussion. For me it is just part of everyday life just like women and their now preferred style of dress. Also, like most things in life that are different, let them get to know you first because humans have one big failing - judgmental.

My wife and I alternate the two walking groups as they walk on the same days. The other club walks twice a week but that clashes with our National Trust volunteering. We walk adhoc with a few privately from the club we have been in for the last two years, and walk privately just the two of us as and when we can. We aim to be out at least twice a week but with two dogs our daily walking over two walk periods is between 3 and 8 miles. 8 miles takes us one and half hours. No stiles, gates etc. Good open countryside. We have walked in the Lakes a good 9 times this this year since April, North Pennines have been visited as well North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. We have this year got to know a couple, yes I was skirted when we first met, that has developed into a friendship and have had two walks with them. I have worn skirts walking just with myself and and Mary at least 4 times in the Lakes District and quite often from home, which does give us access to open and hilly countryside. There are two photos of me walking in a skirt this year on my web site. We have had meals out from time to time, pubs, restaurants. As my Doctor said to me last October when I queried the illness, the reply was "welcome to life's wrong end of the stick. You are beyond 50 and anything can happen to anyone. It is life style, fitness and attitude that helps recovery". We now put more emphasis on enjoyment than before but not forgetting you get out of life what you put into it, so it is and cannot be all enjoyment, but now we can choose the hassle, "politics", and the levels of it.

Since my illness we have readjusted our life. We will walk away from anything that gives us hassle. We are retired, the 6 days garden is activity, pin money and being paid to go to the gym. We are not on a huge bucket list drive or expensive pursuits, we are happy with the life style of concerts, theatre, walking, volunteering and short breaks. We are giving that the priority, yes day to day jobs come in, but the DIY is now at a stage it is November to March based, when gardens close down and walking is curtailed due to short days and weather.

But I still push men in skirts though. I left Twitter dormant for all of 2016 and early 2017 but started back on it over these last few months, as two keeping an eye on any blogs where responses are allowed. I tend not to register on many as they can be one offs, but some allow an open comment or via a generic login like Disqus.

All I can say to any would be men in skirts, just go out and do it. I have recently had a few tweets from a man who wears kilts, but would like to wear skirts and dresses and hopes for the trouser tyranny to go. He has told me he will stick with kilts, that is a small step, skirts in public is one to big for him. Over these last few months my wife and I have seen a man in a tartan skirt on several occasions in a town not far from us. My wife says it is definitely not a kilt. However, when ever we see him it is never possible to make contact. We are in a moving car with the circumstances making no possibility to stop without causing a lot of horn blowing and irritated drivers. Perhaps one day I will be able to say "hi" from a fellow skirt wearing man.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Skirted Man Tackled Bowel Cancer

Serious News About Skirted Mans Health - Conclusion is Excellent

Sorry, no photos in this edition! This blog has a serious message for all those who turn a blind eye to a change in a persons medical persona for what ever reason. DON'T. Prompt action makes the job a whole lot easier. Yes at times it is still too late, nothing can be done or current deterioration can only be arrested but you do not know that and these days with medical knowledge and technology a lot can often be done if prompt early action taken. So do not bury your head in the sand, take action.

I have always dreaded a spell in hospital as a patient. The thought of needles, operations etc was always a fear, yet in mid October 2016 when I was given a piece of out of the blue yet medically serious news I took it in my stride to my amazement. When I went back to my GP a few weeks later to thank him for his very observant diagnosis, even the hospital consultants remarked on his observation, he took my praise and compliments but said I am simply doing my job. He added many a time he has had to give a patient similar serious news and he either has to console them or pick them up off the floor. His "punch to the stomach", his words, when I was told he was amazed that I just sat there and said tell me what do we do from here, and what can you do as my doctor. Pre 2012 I doubt I would have taken the whole process as calmly as I did throughout. My strength of character, and determination to be me, an individual, to have a life as I need and see within the laws of society that I started to embrace from the day I drew the line in the sand back in 2012 and said no more, never again helped along with the strategies of coping with society, people and the world from my Counselling sessions. I was also skirted and in clothing as shown on my web site throughout except for when hospital gowns were needed!

Currently in brief, on 9th December, 2016 I came home from 5 days in hospital having a section of bowel removed for Bowel Cancer. This is the last time I will use those words here, I do not have room in my life for negativity at all since 2012. On the 29th December I was told that I had the all clear, the section of Bowel removed and the lymph glands attached had not become cancerous. The end outcome is excellent. My commercial gardens duties and return to my serious DIY are on schedule for mid to late April 2017. I'll expand.

I was basically fit and healthy or so I thought. Weight had not been lost, appetite as expected - the hollow legs appetite – and no other symptoms at all, including blood in the stools pain or discomfort. 2016 had been very busy for us both, so busy had no time away and walking confined to our walking group. Gardens booming and some going to weekly others needed hedges and climbers cutting not once, twice or thrice but often four times. Stress was added with putting air source heating in and as that had to be done by professionals and unusual for me, it gave me a series of deadlines to achieve other DIY work beforehand. It was done in two phases, early April and early November. A lot of this work was physical structural work involving steel beams and block and beam flooring so feeling fine, gardens, DIY and our walking of around 15 miles including hills what could be wrong! These activities continued right up to until 4th December as despite the next day operation I was fit, dare I say healthy and fine.

Two weeks prior to 17th October my stools went loose. A week later I made an appointment to see my GP which was to be 19th. On 15th October I had what I thought was a bladder infection and decided on Monday 17th I would attend the GP's morning only sit and wait system for antibiotics. Neither my wife or myself expected the news and he did not
think bladder infection. On Saturday 15th October I had just completed a 12 mile walk including two hills. That evening I developed indigestion and was very sick overnight. On Sunday 16th, indigestion still there and my urine turned bright orange. This was very unusual as I drink 5 to 6 pints, minimum, a day of water so it is normally very clear.

The first week of the news I was all over the place, negativity to the fore after all apart from the diagnosis there was nothing else. How serious, terminal etc etc and of course having to let some know. We both decided the fewer who knew the better so it was only immediate family, not wider family, one very long standing friend not other friends. I certainly did not want fuss, over reaction and over the top pampering, after all I still felt as I always had done - well. I soon got back onto the positive stride. 48 hours of seeing the GP all tests he could do were back and all clear, even bladder infection but 24 hrs of seeing him even those symptoms had gone. That is the first bit of positive news and it was to continue as we progressed over the following 6 weeks.

Four days after seeing the GP the hospital called and 3 days later I had my pre Colonoscopy chat. I absolutely dreaded this and in the hospital became quite worked up. My dreaded fear was now a reality. The nurse was absolutely wonderful in manner and approach as to the staff of the Endoscopy Ward the following week. All very good at reassuring and making you feel at ease without patronising or pampering. It was amazing what we talked about. Preparation took about an hour, forms, serious information and waiting my turn but the friendly non-business banter certainly helps and I noted from others on the waiting ward it did depend upon the patient as to how the nurses interacted with you. The Colonoscopy confirmed a large Polyp, which filed the bowel and that was removed there and then. The largest the senior consultant had seen and took three separate cuts to remove. I basically had 4 Colonoscopies in 1 hour! My GP on referral had insisted that all work on me had to be done by very senior personnel and this particular person was the most senior and extensive experience in this particular NHS Trust for this areaEvery one I saw from there on were heads of Departments.

This Colonoscopy indicated that everything else was pink, fit and healthy and the camera went right to the stomach exit. To quote this chap, your Bowel basically is in very good shape for your age, shame about the Polyp. The Polyp was confirmed as being malignant and days later I had had a CT scan which was confirmed days later as being clear, completely i.e. there had been no spread. Things moved fast, very fast, we were at the hospital every week, mostly twice a week. I went back shortly later for another colonoscopy by the senior surgeon so he could look and assess. The polyp size, the size, the lack of symptoms, I was asked repeatedly about this, bothered them. Surely it must have spread. The second colonoscopy indicated all was still fine and yes the large Polyp had been fully removed. Due to its size, and after the third cut to remove it, the area became blurred and 100% clarification could not be seen. I watched both Colonoscopy on full HD screens, fascinating is an understatement. The original Polyp had been 100% removed, no trace left visually and to the surgeons surprise he was amazed as to how well the wound had ulcerated over, the internal scabbing, in such a short period of time. it was 100% white. Biopsies around this wound area were taken and all came back clear. This was only around the area, not actually on the area.

This left the hospital with yet more dilemmas as the size of the Polyp and cancerous to its stalk for them should not be consistently returning clear results on whatever they did especially as it was malignant but then why not. They apparently held a high level brainstorming session purely upon me. I was recalled, and basically told everything confirms clear but if one cell is left on the healing wound area it will grow and go directly into the Lymph Glands. I will be monitored on the 5 year NHS plan and then react if need be. Alternate they are prepared to offer me the Bowel operation and cut out the wound area and attached Lymph Glands and again be on the NHS 5 yr monitor programme. The first option leaves doubt the second leaves no doubt. The second option would not involve Chemotherapy or a stoma bag. My reply was instant, the operation. This would allow positive confirmation as to if it had started to go into the bowel wall. CT scans and blood tests only show if spread and size not if it is starting to go from Polyp into Bowel wall. I could opt  to see if tests and scans detect something later but if it does I would be on a much larger battle than now so it was no decision for us. A week and a half later that is what happened on the 5th December. The surgeon and many others at the hospital have said after the event it was a very wise choice to make despite the temporary inconvenience I will endure these next 4 months.

During this period mine and my wifes life continued in our positive way, we socialised, got the gardens completed and tended to some DIY jobs I needed to deal with before I was placed on my post recovery operation. Still only the select few knew. Locally no one was told as we did not want gossip and scare mongering going out as tends to happen with local chatter anywhere. On our roller coaster ride things were changing rapidly, so telling those locally who needed to know and associated themselves with us would have been continually updated.

For the next 6 weeks following 5th December I must take life very easy. Active, move but no physical exertion, lifting, pushing etc. The keyhole surgery takes 6 weeks to recover. Internal keyhole surgery is the same as standard surgery and for an unfit person up to a year. I have been told that if I extend these 6 weeks to mid April, basically increase my exercise and activity but refrain from any hill distance walking and my DIY, and you will know from these blogs my DIY is akin to professional builders, then I will be completely ready to undertake all my duties but with thought. All my DIY tools were put away,all materials obtained ahead of this winter period relocated elsewhere in the house so we can look at a house not a prospective building supplier.

On the Friday morning of discharge they prodded the area of concern with no reflex from the muscles. They had
not experienced that so soon before. I was demanding energy on the day after the operation even though I could not start liquidised food until 48 hours after the operation which gave them a quandary as bowel movement had to be zero for two days. I got none and was I hungry! On the 7th December I was put on "slops" and responded well and on Thursday 8th  December a full and normal diet but eating much smaller portions on a more regular cycle. The keyhole wounds were healing. By 25th December I was wanting my usual full size portions.

One of the Nurses on the ward for my last two days had a very heavy cold, sneezing and blowing of nose. For 7 years I had avoided colds via diet and herbal remedies. Sunday 11th at home I started the early signs of a cold and Monday 12th I had a real stinker with a cough. Coughing after bowel surgery is not good. They advise occasional induced coughs but sneezing and coughing regularly not only hurt but kept two of the larger keyhole wounds weeping. I had to have them dressed at the local GP two or three times that week. I got up each day by 8 am, stayed up, and kept myself occupied. By Friday 16th the cold had significantly gone, dosed with the commercial cold tablets and my herbal remedy but in the afternoon of the 16th I felt very strange and cold. By 6 pm that evening I felt as though my body was shutting down, I shivered, felt cold but told I was warm to touch but I was rapidly losing control. I hit the bed and a fever broke out. My wife checked on me periodically and was not concerned enough for medical response but I apparently had a strange conversation with her. The bed was wet with sweat yet I felt cold. This continued through the night, the bed needing changing in the morning and I had no energy or enthusiasm to get up and stayed there until the evening although not not perfect I needed to get up so I did and the next day, Sunday, felt washed out. I went to the GP sit and wait surgery only to be told a fever based virus is circulating and once you have had the fever it is past. The rest of the week I just made steady progress, coughing stopped and the two wounds healed like the three smaller ones. Christmas Day I finally felt on top of the world.

The weekend of coming out of Hospital, 13th/14th December, those who didn't know and needed to know were told either by email, phone or in person and many came to see. The week up to Christmas and the week after was very full with visitors and many emails and phone calls. Although eased off now for obvious reason I still get weekly calls or emails asking after progress, but an ailment was still to come.

By 30th December my stools were back to normal and once a day but the body clock still not set, so the once a day time varied. On 31st I stopped going as too the 1st December. I increased the laxative tablets, took dried apricots, rhubarb etc but no movement. On 3rd January I called the Consultant whose assistant said if I was in pain, which I wasn't come now, if not come tomorrow. I went the next day. They felt it was constipation this can happen but also needed to eliminate any possible surgery side effects like small intestine joining the main bowel wall etc. Prodded and poked, fingers up the back end, X-rays and all was confirmed to be perfect and in good order so constipation it was. They issued me with an alternate laxative which will effeminately clear the bowel. It did. The next 24 hours I went 14 times all with generous downloads. Things are moving now! Apparently it can take a bowel several months to settle down and become regular so I have extra sachets of this laxative to take if no movement in the near future after 2 days. Lets hope that is the last glitch.

Major operations take it out of the body. I am very fit, healthy asnd exactly correct for weight to height ratio. All my activities in life are physical but It still knocked the stuffing out of me. Where I was to gain was with the recovery so the heavy cold, fever and a week of constipation did not help. I can pick light things off the floor and do light duties around the house. Can get out of chairs with no sensation and on 7th January did a 1 mile round trip of tarmac road walk. I certainly feel much stronger physically but still noting I have until the 21st January before the 6 week recuperation period is over. After 21st I will still avoid all DIY and fell walking but start to increase activity and distance over the next 4 months. These last few weeks for a very active person is now becoming frustrating and I am very mindful that I am prone to Depression. I have learnt the signs and strategies but the life style at the moment is not really helping and because I am not over active and feeling tired, negativity that the world still needs to have can become a little harder to ignore even fight off. After a while, or in this case, 4 weeks of light duties which at the start were out of bounds, reading, watching television, very short walks and often confined to the house to walk around if weather bad can become too much for someone who is usual out and about, active and getting involved.

Week commencing 9th January I have our self assessment forms to do for tax purposes and next week have my first of two meetings in January with regards my National Trust volunteering role as Day Leader. Both our volunteering for 2017 starts in Mid February. At the end of January I have our walking club committee meeting. The fact I can start more activities around this time the up hill climb seems much brighter and easier.

In the UK the NHS gets a lot of bad publicity in the media. At the end of the day media anywhere like bad news and only sensational good news. We have met many who compliment the NHS and 3 years ago my wife needed attention via the NHS thankfully not for operations but still what we encountered was good. We say the same for my recent experience. They were fast, prompt, attentive and showed nothing else than I was a human being not a number or just a body. For us we felt that they did a job but went beyond that job. Also throughout this process I went at all times in the outfits as shown on my website all meetings, tests, pre op talks, even the day of surgery and departure. I'm sure one or two will have negative thoughts but many were complimentary and talkative about it in a positive way. I know NHS policies will forbid any showing openly any negativity but honestly all were very positive and embracing especially those I had direct contact with with regards procedures and preparing for the procedures. I am only aware of five who showed negative indications and these five only had adhoc and mostly once only contact and not that I could mention directly officially. One of the five that did go that bit further it was in a room with me and her so again I ignored it but all five were civil and communicative.

The next blog will be a bit shorter as activities for this skirted man will be low key for the next few months.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

I'm Back!!! And Still The Skirted Man

Last Blog, mid December 2015. Now its 8th November 2016.

All I can say I'm very busy.

As stated in my last blog, 2nd January, 2016 we did pack the house up and we did live in a building site. The kitchen door was taped up daily with a plastic sheet, and we lived in the bedroom we utilise as a study, including day to day things needed and two dogs! The lounge had a cement mixer in it as the only item except for bags of sand, cement and lime and the lounge was like this for 8 weeks.

We managed to insulate the house except for our bedroom before the first week of April 2016. That week the Air Source heating was scheduled to be installed and followed by garden season 2016. Thankfully the very mild March gave way to a very cold and below average temperatures for April and into May. In fact in early May we had a week of night temperatures of -4 degrees C. This slowed down the gardens initially but come mid May they certainly played catch up.

The insulation was a big job. It was down to myself and my wife. It involved taking the plaster and cement render off the outside walls, rake out the old lime mortar and re point with modern cement.
Baton the wall with 38 mm wide batons to create a 25 mm air gap, at 600 mm intervals, noting window surrounds and cills needed extra batons. This was then covered with a 1 cm multi foil insulation with a thermal value equivalent to 8 inches of rock wool. This needed to be stapled to all batons every 5 cm. Then the wall was batoned again to create another 25 mm air gap and topped off with plaster board that had 1 inch compressed foam insulation attached. This changed the wall heat loss value from 1,  not insulated, to 0.2. The Building Control Officer who had to check the work told me in the
UK all new dwellings have to have a minimum of 0.28 heat loss. Passive is the best but these need to be newly built installation.

The trouble we had is the house is 300 years old. The walls vertical and horizontal are a banana shape. The minimum loss of space is 12 cm but at times we did hit 15/16 cm in certain places due to the walls.  Window cills needed to be extended and ours are stone. I put these in when I had earlier modernised the rooms about 10 years ago. Electrics needed to be allowed for as the wall is slightly thicker than before. This was solved in various ways. In two locations the wall switch and socket are slightly higher up the wall. Others could be sorted by fortunately excess wire being nearby. We are only talking of needing about 2 to 4 inches. In some locations it was an ideal opportunity to increase the number of sockets in the vicinity so the ring main could be altered. Eg take the two wires from one socket, put one for the new socket, which gave the maximum distance then put a new wire in between. Our lounge for example had no sockets on the internal wall opposite the outside wall being insulated. A blind socket was created here to create the break in the ring main. In the lounge 10 years ago I built a stone and oak TV, DVR etc shelving.
This needed to be dismantled and rebuilt 12 cm shorter, as to the oak book shelving. Likewise in the study a built in wardrobe needed its door frame to be removed, altered and re instated but slightly narrower. We also had to redecorate!

The stair well gave another problem. It was a wooden stair case put in in the 1920's when the house was restored. It is former lead miners cottages abandoned in the 1880's with the demise of the lead industry and the estate restored it to put a tenant farmer in. It remained a farm until late 1980's, then sold and became a holiday cottage before we took occupation for full time residence in 2000. The stair case unknown to us was built directly on top of the original stone stair case and therefore not damp proofed. The owners before us damp proofed the ground floor putting back the original stone flags but the stair case wasn't. It was basically fine but we knew it was very draughty in the stair well and this needed to be resolved. The wood was also starting to show early signs of deterioration so it was taken out. We then discovered the original stone stair case but back in 1715 these were not damp
proofed. Also the top of it went to an early first floor level, lower to what it is now. We encased this old stair case in modern DPC giving good overlap as it was done in three sheets as the staircase is a 180 degree one. Also the previous owner had taken out the first two steps before it turned which was good for us. This allowed me to create enough depth as too the distance between the old stair case and current floor level so it could be encased on top of new DPC to provide concrete and 100 mm of compressed foam insulation behind every step and rise. This was then topped of with engineered 20 mm Indian stone flags. The two outside walls could then be insulated. The ceiling was taken down, the
rafters extended inwards by 100 mm to allow 100 mm of compressed foam insulation to go in with a 50 mm air gap between and the roof slate under felt. We did the same with the bathroom wall and ceiling. I am 2 m tall, and have a head gap of about 10  cm upstairs. The dropped ceiling lights in the two bedrooms, landing, stair well and bathroom were like mini roundabouts for me. These were all taken out and replaced with recessed LED spot lights. Also in the
lounge whilst the walls were dismantled I have installed 3 network cables, also 3 satellite cables. We do not utilise satellite but it is there for the future. The bedroom we use as a study, now also has 3 network sockets. There will be network sockets put in the other bedroom when by December 2016 we insulate that wall and change the ceiling lighting. The bathroom ceiling was done last winter but
the bathroom wall was not done until mid summer. April soon came. There is a lot of work involved in what I have described above, a lot of hidden work now you look at the finished job and at times work not expected. Apart from re-plastering the walls, all the work is done by myself and my                                              wife. We have literally put in 5000 plus screws!

April came, the Air Source heating fitted. Very pleased with it. We do not like over hot rooms. The main stat is set at 17, all bar two of the eight radiators are turned down from 5 to 2. One is left at 5, the dining room, an outside wall we cannot insulate due to logistics. The other is the stairwell as one radiator must not have any thermostatic valves on it. We are warm. Only since 1st November have we put on jumpers or cardigans. It gives off a different form of heat. The radiators never get too hot you cannot keep your hands on. People who come in for the first time say it's warm, and suggest 20/21 degrees C. Very surprised when I tell them 17 and room temperature 18 to 18.5 then put a thermometer in the room. As the winter period progresses we may increase the main room stat but we'll wait at the moment.

The insulation slows down the heat loss and also heat generated from us as humans, other appliances like TV, fridge, dish washer etc contribute now the heat loss is restricted. In May when we had a week of -4 over night we never needed to up the main stat. We are so pleased with it the heat pump installed was large enough to accommodate the the barn conversion in due course. We have booked them to do this in November 2016 and when we insulate the bedroom when the garden season closes this month we are to take the plaster off the outside walls of the barn conversion even though only done two years ago and insulate them as we have the house. The outcome is just to great not too.

The installer company who is MCS approved have said we will be able to heat the whole house which will by the end of November have 16 radiators, including hot water for less than £1000 pa down to -5 degrees. On our old heating on a mild Autumn/Winter cost us £1400 pa more if it got cold and the barn conversion just keeping it aired at 10 degrees was £600 on a mild Autumn/Winter. As we have moved from a fossil fuel central heating system and because it was coal based we have been able to take advantage of a UK Government incentive scheme known as RHI, Renewable Heat Incentive. Based upon our house Green Report this qualifies us for £1700 pa for the next 7 years. This covers the cost of the Air Source Heat Pump installation. The saving of heating costs means the whole system will be repaid within 4 years. If we had not insulated the house and barn conversion as we have we would need a 16Kw Heat pump with no surplus capacity below -5 degrees C. The insulation dropped this to 7.1Kw so we opted for the 12 not the 8 Kw. The cost saving on the Kw downgrade has paid a good 50% of the insulation overheads, so 5 years to cover this extra.

It is a project worth doing as far as we are concerned.  We know some disagree with us and we also know if we did hot enjoy doing this level of DIY the insulation would not have been done. The Bathroom insulated wall was done mid summer as we ran out of time before April. This needed a change in bath and toilet location once done, putting the house bathroom onto our septic tank installed for the barn conversion. This was done over two long weekends and in between garden days.

You will note from the last blog, late last year I started to enclose a retaining wall at the back of the house. It made the back useless,
splitting a 10 foot wide but long area in two with this almost 2 meter high wall. This august I finished it among the garden work.

I mentioned in my last blog we joined a local Ramblers Group in mid 2015. This has continued and we go as often as we can, quite often really. I am now on the committee. I have since November 2015 lead 8 walks for them.

In May of 2016 my wife an I started to do one day a week Room Steward volunteering for the National Trust. This we really do enjoy and from February 2017 I am to be one of their Day Leaders. A voluntary role but I basically co-ordinate volunteers for one day of the week each week.

Gardens were very busy this year. Once we got past mid May they boomed. Hedges and wall climbers I would normally trim once a year. Some hedges were done three times, four houses needed wall climbers doing twice which can only be done off ladders. Grass grew and for a while some fortnightly gardens became weekly. We have at least 5 more full days in November after this blog to close the gardens. Hope the weather holds a bit longer.

You can start to see why this blog got left. We only had time to do two private walks in the Lake District this summer when previously would have been there more. We only managed to get one long weekend away. My wife still needs regular hospital checks for her eye sight, and Polymyalgia and this year for a root canal that our dentist could not resolve and needed more detailed work via a hospital.

Now I have not mentioned my skirt wearing so far. I still do it. The usual exceptions fell walking, but do the occasional one with just myself and my wife. Most DIY and gardening for obvious reasons. Other wise, skirts, tops, cardigans and scarfs are my staple clothing choice. Every where, Dentists, Doctors, Hospitals, all social events etc. I am not ashamed of it even though I know some do. I firmly believe in this modern era that freedom of choice and expression in clothing applies to men just as much as women. The same arguments for women in clothing choice applies equally to men. I wear skirts for my National Trust volunteer work with no issue. One has made it known she does not agree with it but then she moans about everything when at meetings. Any activity at the National Trust property I am in the clothing as shown on my web site I am well treated by all, who engage in banter and chat with with no obvious issue. With regards visitors, you cannot see everybody and over this last season I am aware of perhaps about 5 that gave negative looks and deliberately avoided me but with the masses of the public the odds of meeting these narrow minded and yes selfish bigoted people increase. Quite honestly on average I will have seen thousands of people at the NT and 5 is not worth thinking about. More have enquired about my attire and all were very encouraging. Hundreds, upon hundreds talked to me about the house obviously and quite often digressed onto other subjects. Ramblers, I obviously do not walk in a skirt but do attend all social events they have in one and it is just like the NT, but I'm not aware of anyone who objects like the old woman above.

We were still quite active socially this summer which didn't help free up spare time. The two Music Societies we have been in for a year or so continue, one over the summer months the other over winter. We have joined a third, covers summer months and a bit of winter. As always just as I am when going to other events be it at village halls,churches even theater's I do go in my skirt.

When I am out and about I still have to say 99% either do not look or momentary glance. What they may say privately is for them, but don't we all talk as such privately. 0.9% stare longer and about 0.1% make it obvious they do not agree or find it amusing. Yes, this 1% is 99% women who embrace the full freedom of choice and expression in clothing and most are very manly in clothing styles if we are to keep men in an expected manly appearance of clothing. Society these days can be very selfish and bigoted with what is expected of men in traditional expectations, stereotyping and labeling. Yet society does not do the same with women or should I say these days dare not put expectation upon women. Thankfully the areas of life my wife and I have settled into especially since retiring and deciding not to move to France we find those that occupy the inner circles of our life including the likes of the Ramblers group and the NT offer a very refreshing and inspiring life. It is as usual, the involvement of a wider public on a part time or once only basis where their narrow minded and preconceived thoughts abound. That's the nature of humans and we call ourselves the intelligent custodians of the planet!

This is one of our private walks in the Lakes in 2016. One of only two walks this year. Weather was very warm and no wind on the tops. I do not wear skirts if I think it will be windy on the hills and walks where I know stiles and climbing is very limited ideally none.

This was taken on one of our general days out.

This was me at a National Trust Property on our way down South to see friends for a long weekend. It was the only long weekend away we had in 2016.

This year we seemed to forget to take photos of me in my skirt. I'll try harder next time.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Man in a skirt - Have Had a Lot On!

My last blog was 17th June 2015. Here we are 16th December 2015, 6 months on.

Thought I should make an effort and get a blog up. It may be a few months before I have time. On the 2nd January 2016 we pack the house up and will live for several weeks on a building site. I am slowly bringing our house into the 21st century, as best I can. Don't take a step back, we do have electric, mains water, operational bathrooms, tarmac road to it but its 300 years old and until 15 years ago it's main purpose was a holiday cottage. Earlier blogs give an idea of what I have been doing but basically apart from converting and merging two attached barns we have been modernising it as and when time and money allows. Now my seasonal work has ended until next April, this winters project is to complete the insulation of the house. As my seasonal work was late ending this year, literally the last day of November, mostly due to the very heavy rain in northern England, I have opted to wait until 2nd January 2016. Then 4 rooms in the house plus stairwell and bathroom will have the plaster taken off the outside walls. Revealing the stone, treated laths on pvc damp proofing will be placed with space age technology insulation applied to the top. With another lath on top, this will be covered with plaster board with an additional insulation behind. This will in effect reduce the heat loss of the house from 1, no insulation, to 0.2. The problem is catering for existing windows and doors and on one wall electrical sockets. Ceilings will come down in the bathroom and stairwell so that the rafters can be extended and the placing of 100 mm compressed insulation retaining an air gap above. At this stage all the upstairs down lights will be replaced with flush mounted ceiling lights. It also means that the bathroom needs dismantling! Being 25 years old and fair wear and tear showing it's another job that does need doing. I'll have a window of 12 weeks including establishing the bathroom with everything being in the wrong place for existing plumbing. Time for blog writing might just get delayed again.

Many who do not really know me often question what I actually do with regards DIY when I bring it up or they hear from others. It doesn't surprise me because I do not meet to often what I call serious DIYers. Yes the painters, decorators, put up the odd shelf here and there but most tend to get professionals in. I often hear some say they do DIY work on big projects but their involvement is project managing but not many ordinary individuals actually will replace a professional in most aspects of big DIY jobs. I'm also not surprised because most humans prejudge others on their own personal abilities and beliefs. I actually do most of our DIY. Plumbing, heating, stonework, brick work, internal doors, new door and window openings, complete kitchen and bathroom alterations etc. I put in our own multi fuel central heating system 15 years ago, with automated pump when hot water is drained from the gravity feed hot water tank. I only need professionals in for plastering, electric on the meter side of the consumer board or where by law you need to have a professional installer for example a gas/oil boiler installed and be CORGI registered in the UK. I have hand built internal oak ledge and brace doors including frames but I stop at external doors as you need specific equipment and work area for these doors as well as more regular activity in the making of this type of door. I can do roofs, gutters, waste pipes, SVP pipes, tiling of walls and floors etc. I've worked along side Building Control on my projects and since 2005 have drawn my own plans and submitted my own building extension planning applications. In fact I have over several years due to time and finance availability done two barn conversions attached to our house from start to almost finish. The only outside help was plastering and where the job required two physical people to be involved due to weight, height and logistics and that was tackling a stone roof that weighed approximately 10 ton per side in a 15 metre distance, new stone heads on windows and putting in a concrete first floor. First floor, not ground floor! Access did not allow cranes so it was myself and a local builder who is happy to work along side me. I just need to plumb two En-Suites and a Shower Room in the barn conversions but these were put on hold while we pursue air source heating, hence the insulation work. Last winter I tried to get the air source in but the new kitchen and other  jobs made this not possible, so air source is planned for March 2016. Air source is one of those jobs by law I need to have an approved plumber in but the company I'm using are quite happy to work along side me. They are fitting the air source unit, tank and modifying the house plumbing to connect and associated electrics but they are happy for me to put in the new radiators and pipework. They have specified radiator wattage output and the rest is down to me. The barn conversions have been the main activity on our site for a few years whilst allowing time for my seasonal work and a social life. I'm not a slave to it! Now the house is being brought up to speed. Believe me or not, it's down to you. There are a few photos on earlier blogs on this blog spot including this particular article but I have many others on my own web site in the gallery. This is by a man who wears a skirt! Shock, horror, the simpleton, queer, faggot and such other descriptive terms I have heard to me and of other men who wear skirts via Twitter and no doubt behind my back in the real world. I'm self taught, by talking and showing interest when I encounter other professionals. I read, show interesting and learn but most importantly I try and will have a go. I take what ever time is required getting quicker as I become more familiar. I am told a professional block layer with a labourer will lay 140 blocks a day. All walls in the barn conversion, upstairs and downstairs are block, including where I had to dry line and tank where the wall is built into the hill side. At my peak I reached 64 a day and on my own, that included mixing, cutting and planning ahead! I will not be as fast now, as I have not blocked in a big way for a few years now. Do I enjoy it, yes I do but I wouldn't as a job. I prefer certain days for certain jobs. I'm no good on roofs and ladders in windy weather. I also like to have variety in my life and doing serious DIY along side seasonal outside work certainly gives me variety. No day is the same, not even comparing every Monday, Tuesday... I have had many compliments from local professionals who know me and have seen my work.

During this last gap of absense I have been active elsewhere. On my Twitter account and since early November, 2015 reactivating my blogs on my web site This site in early November on wet days, has been slightly reorganised. My blog section now has a specific home page. I do intend writing articles away from the main area of current writing which so far have tended to be based upon society and gender. One are my thoughts upon Climate. I'm not against the theory of climate change but I do not have the hard line stance of it is simply being down to humans, we merely contribute to it. I have for years had an interest in this subject and being a balanced and open minded person like to take into account all that I have heard not just selected items. It will also go into some of the changes that are to come our way here in the UK and some that will not be changed. This will appear as and when along side other 'controversial' topics. I have put direct links on separate blog pages on this blogspot site below this article. There are 12 of them! I'll post a link on this blogspot site from now on and my general banter of the exploits of a skirted man will appear in between.

My garden season was busy this year but we did manage to get two 4 day breaks. The first was mentioned in my last blog, the second neither of us really enjoyed so I'll leave it at that. The area was disappointing for us but the National Trust properties we saw were very good. Yes I was skirted as I usually am when not at my self employment or DIY at home. This location gave me the most persistent and intense negativity towards a man in a skirt than I have ever before and since experienced. This was in August and with one or two other separate negative areas within my life one in September and one in early October and none since August due to my skirt wearing, I entered a period of low mood which slowed down some of my activities. I went to my counsellor for the first time in nearly 3 years to get 'reset' which has bounced me back and refreshed my mind on how to tackle society's persistent negative overtones in many aspects of life.

In June this year my wife and I joined a walking club. We have always walked and when we enter the married phase of life, club walking stopped and we undertook this past time with friends and allowing more time in life to cater for other activities that develop as you progress through life. Since 2010 we found our walking had eased off a lot. Partly due to ourselves allowing life to give us both a period of hard time where we both went to counsellors for two differing reasons but also for one reason or another the friends who did go walking stopped. we did go walking ourselves, been to the Lake District at least 5 times this year but joining a club seems to give you more of an incentive. I generally do not do fell/countryside walks in a skirt, for practical reasons but have over the last couple of years done one or two from home when I know the weather, also what the route entails but in August this year it was a particular very warm and calm day so I did a fell walk in the Lakes in a skirt as can be seen here. It can quite often, in fact nearly all the time be windy up on the tops of high hills and mountains but this day clearly was not to be. I did have a pair of trousers in my rucksack just in case but they were not required. We passed many people that day out walking and only two sets of walkers made negative overtones. The rest passed by as usual and also quite a few stopped to talk and not one ever queried what I had on. Joining the club has made us go out more often but it also makes us walk in areas we would not have chosen. I have lead a walk for the group and there is another planned for early next year. Do they know I wear skirts, I do not know. I haven't told them, why should I. Do others or do they talk to me about what they wear!

We have been out and about socially with friends, pub meals, concerts, theatre performances and yes in a skirt. A skirt and clothing as depicted on my site is an everyday item within my everyday life except for fell walking, self employment and most aspects of my DIY. Apart from my work and walking clothes, trousers are in a draw under the bed. Everything else is in the wardrobe. I do have the attitude, take it or leave it. I am me, you are you and if you do not like it, that's your affair, stay out of my life. This was seriously tested Aug/Sept 2015 but the counsellor got me to see things more clearly.

I have not had many direct compliments recently but likewise I have not, except for the 4 day spell down in south England in August had much obvious negativity. As always to date no direct physical abuse but every now and again the odd negative body language and that they are talking about me but not to me. They are the very small minority. Just as many talk to me in impromptu situations as they do when I'm in trousers. Society behaves no differently within its selfish attitude that is apparent in this modern era to others for varying reasons. Society will always criticise others for varying reasons, you only have to be different in one of many ways for another to think you are odd. I recall one negative reference towards me were a family of immigrants from Eastern Europe. How do I know they were immigrants, when I moved towards them they were speaking in very fluent non-English language. They clearly were not tourists and would this have made any difference if they were? Another situation involved a man with his partner. Men do not usually make negative overtones it is usually 99.9% women  if they want to look towards me negatively. This bloke obviously could not cope with me but his partner told him, I was within ear shot at this point, "to ignore and move on. People can wear what ever they want, what harm does it do".

Our life is very busy with work, personal interest and hobbies and friends that we have so it may seem a bit strange that I could entered low mood. Depression, which I have suffered for over 30 years is a funny thing and I wrote an article about it and its effects in November 2015. You can find it on my web site on the blogs page. On the whole since 2012 I have been and felt the best since my late teens but it's like an alcoholic, once you have it or are prone to be affected by it, periods of negativity can bring it on, just like an alcoholic having that one or two drinks. It can and quite often does, affect you. I do these days try to keep myself in a positive frame of mind at all times but this last September I need that outside help once again. Quite often I'll start to recognise that the low mood is starting to grab me again so I immediately do something that I know will only give me positive sentiment then go back to what I was doing. Its strategies.

DIY on the house this summer was fairly quite. I did start a project at the back of the house but I knew it would not be finished. To complete it I have to move the SVP pipe and this can only be done once the bathroom is physically altered in side and connected to the new pipe to the septic tank which is already in place and has been as I did the barn conversions in previous years. The ground floor of the house was built into the hillside but many years ago it was dug out and a retaining wall put up. This splits our back which is only 6m wide at this point to half at ground level, half nearly 2m higher. I am putting two steel beams along the back of the house supported on one end of the retaining wall as it turns back towards the house. The back wall of the former barns were not dug out and the old barn walls were very dry before I started putting modern requirements inside. This I'm pleased about as it did provide space for me to put up a large outside shed some 8m  by 11m. The back area behind the house makes it basically useless as it is. The two steel beams will be supported by a pillar in the middle, already put up this year and the second beam supported by a new wall I'll build where the house and retaining wall ends. Topped with block and beam floor and the necessary water proofing top this will make the back usable. This will technically make the back like a single storey house and even on the shortest day of the year, sun reaches this back area. The plan is to build raised borders for vegetable growing on the section that is on 'hard land' and use the 'bridged' section as the walk way.

Being practical and handy is useful and over the years we have been able to do and achieve many things which getting others in to do would not have been cost effective. The remarkable thing is this is also done by a man in a skirt as well!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Man in a Skirt - Another Time Lapse between Blogs.

As I said in my last blog, it is several weeks before I reappear. I don't spend my life on social media. I have since early 2013 spent about an hour daily, very, very rarely at weekends on Twitter promoting men in skirts but I do get fed up with that as well. About a year ago it dropped to every two or three days, then week, some times two weeks. Since my last blog here I didn't go on Twitter for over 3 weeks.

Social media has its place, it also has very good debates but on the whole it is simply a platform to many to speak one sided and narrow minded propaganda for themselves. They can hide behind a computer screen and not face those they critisise. They never stop and look at themselves or accept that in the real world everybody has a fault in the eyes of everybody. Recently I heard this statement from an MP on UK television:

"I don't want a tolerant society anymore, I want a society of respect because tolerance just sounds as if you are prepared to put up with people who disagree with you. Respect is when you genuinely admire others for their difference" Chris Bryant MP 11th June 2015 BBC Questiontime.

Many on social media as well as a few in the real world should note this but as is usually with human intelligence it can get too much to cope with. A new buzz phrase is now appearing on some media programs especially when on gender is that humans were built and designed for social interaction, to compete, lead and dominate. This is the "get out of jail free card" to justify human behaviour as normal and acceptable. We may be built like that but we have intelligence to learn, adapt and be accommodating.

In the real world I do not experience as much as social media portrays. Yes I do accept the real world does contain those who dominate, the aggressors, the narrow minded and selfish people. In the real world only a handful can say what appears on social media when face to face. It is mostly at a distance, away from you. The exception are the hardline and tough nosed males and females who express their ethos with violence. You can spot them and as an intelligent person maneuver away from them.

Out and about in the real world I see many, many, many just get on with life. No doubt passing comment privately if they see something that they think is odd. Only a very small minority will make negative overtones via body language because they see something different or what they consider not normal. What is normal? It is different in the eyes of everyone. For example Friday/Saturday nights is normal for many to get blind drunk. I don't!

As you know, I wear skirts 365 days a year regardless of weather. The exceptions are my commercial gardening, hill walking and certain aspects of my serious DIY. I do low level walks in a skirt, like in country parks, canals etc. I do our own garden in a skirt because unlike commercial I'm not scrambling over fences, dealing with banks of long growth including nettles and brambles. I'm not lifting petrol mower in and out of the back of a vehicle.
On the whole 99.9% pass by when in a skirt, quite a few giving momentary glances and then the 0.1% or thereabouts give negative body language but, and I have said this before, I get far more compliments than those who give negative overtones. Recently I have had quite a few culminating with many in a recent weeks holiday in Somerset UK. I have had on more than one occasion what I would describe as very macho, manly looking, calling to me to get my attention in a polite way complimenting my appearance by voice or thumbs up. While out and about cloths shopping with my wife I do not hide when attending the checkouts. I confidently walk up with my skirt or top and 99.9% of the time engage in banter with the shop attendant. Occasionally they compliment my choice and this happened three or four times whilst on a shopping excursion whilst in Somerset. In several stores when I walked in, in my skirt, top and scarf, many female attendants didn't just give the standard acknowledgment from training but a positive nod and wink. My wife had seen a particular skirt on a shop web site and and wanted to see it in reality. Whilst waiting as usual I mooched around and a female attendant came over and said "excuse me Sir, are you looking for anything in particular". My reply was "not on this occasion I'm waiting for my wife who s trying on in the changing room." She followed with "that's OK, I can see you have taste in fashion I thought I might be able to assist if you were looking". We then engaged in general conversation about the area, our holiday, where we are from etc. During that week I did get the usual quota of brief stares and the odd one or two who had to take it further but that's humans but they paled into insignificance compared to the rest.

A recent example of negative overtones was a few weeks back whilst on our weekly grocery shop. Entering an isle two men and two women were in conversation. One woman had to look at me whilst still engaging in conversation. We continued down the isle stopping here and there to collect items and I was aware on one occasion their conversation had finished and this woman and her partner had come down the isle and she was once again looking at me. I ignored and continued my way. At the end of the isle my wife realised she had forgotten something which was back in the next isle so I waited at the end of the current isle and as this couple came along side she said in loud clear voice "I do not agree. I simply do not agree". I turned to look and both were looking at me and I was about to say "are you talking about me" when her partner said "I have told you, live and let live, move on" and he ushered her onwards. Needless to say her hair style was typical male, tight tee shirt on, very casual trousers and trainers. All these clothing items are and were traditionally male clothing if we are to remain in society stereotypical clothing. I didn't see them again. They either had a short list or I was simply too much for her. Her problem.

Whilst in Somerset recently I did not put any trousers in my suitcase. Regardless of weather or events I was in a skirt and similar clothing as depicted on my web site All my skirts are a minimum 90cm in length.
I do have some that are better for windy weather so on the day we were to do Wells, Cheddar Gorge culminating ascending Glastonbury Tor I was in a more straighter skirt. At 5pm on Glastonbury Tor top, it was very warm but fairly breezy. My decision for the straighter skirt was wise. Met several people on the top and no issue but I'm positive one or two re-positioned themselves in possibility of a "Marilyn Monroe" experience but sadly for them I knew it wouldn't happen even though the skirt was flapping and I didn't have to take any precautionary action.
On the way up we got talking to a local out walking his dog. No reference to my skirt but he tipped us off on a suitable circular walk to maximise the event and make a circular route. Now when we went to Bath the plan was to do the Roman Baths, the Cathedral, walk to the Royal Crescent and catch a bus from the city centre out to Prior Park Landscape Garden. It was a warm sunny day so I put on a not so straight skirt. At the Cathedral we both opted to do the tower and Belfry tour, 212 steps to the top of the tower via the Belfry and along the Nave roof edge on the outside. The group was about 18 people and yes only me and my wife were in skirts. The group was a good cross reference of age group. Nobody made any comment or body language towards me, certainly not at the time. Going up was not a problem, the people behind going up spiral tower steps were not giggling or tried to take advantage of being behind, in fact very accommodating. Along the roof edge was fine, we have a stone parapet on one side and I simply kept my shoulder bag down my side. Along the internal roof walkways bending over double due to its height and me being 6ft 6 was not a problem, neither the Belfry. There were no ladders!!!! On top of the tower the view over Bath was worth the climb. I took 4 photos in each main direction. The rather more fuller skirt was lifting but I knew I had a very good lining attached to it which wouldn't lift. For the first time one or two in this group I felt were just waiting for the inevitable but even a fuller skirt with a sensible lining never lets you down. I took my photos had a brief look, bearing in mind heights in such circumstances are not my favourite and decided to squash against the wall near to the doorway waiting to go. The two female guides were great although I do consider that one did find me interesting but gave nothing really away. I was always conscious out of the whole group she was always looking at me. On the way down she led so I made sure I was the next one behind and although they were both open to questions on the tour I started up general conversations on the way down. Part of my conversation was about heights on edges and towers not so good for me but I am getting better. She said I showed no sign of it and had done well and asked why do I put myself through it.
I try to face my fears was my reply and also somethings I just need to achieve. Others like the top of the Shard or going above stone gallery of St Paul's is still too much for me as to flying. Need to to really prepare mentally to even fly to central France from UK and does stress me out.

We stayed in a Hotel whilst down there the deal, booked last minute, like 3 days before departure was good. No problems in the hotel with public from anything different to being out and about. Yes one night in the bar a group of four you knew were talking about you but to me I gave them something to entertain that night! The following night a mother and two daughters came in, daughters being late teen and mid 20's. They kept themselves to themselves for a while and then asked if we were on holiday. Conversation grew and shortly we all re-located around one table. My skirt wearing was queried but in a good way. Curiosity only and all three thought it was good and were disappointed to hear about the reaction of some members of the public especially from women. In the conversation it was very evident that they were very open minded on many aspects of life and also felt that the 'gender wars' in society were stupid. We are all human beings with the same emotions and feelings. Freedom of choice, expression and opportunity applies to all. At 2 am in the morning, some 4 hours later with the bar tender asking if he could retire we all dispersed. As my wife said it was very refreshing to hear two young people with such open and mature thoughts on many aspects of life.

On our departure day we stopped off at Dyrham House. One of many National Trust Properties. It is currently under going a 12 month restoration of new roof, and making good roof parapets and chimneys so consequently the house is packed up. The park, gardens and adjacent church are open as are 3 of the downstairs rooms to the front. Some of the rooms to the back down stairs are open via a guided tour but to show how conservation is taken during major repair work with items boxed up and large pictures covered. One or two specific items are on full view but basically the whole of the upstairs is downstairs. Seeing three rooms complete and how items are mananged under such circumstances is interesting but to compensate for not being able to see the house complete since early May 2015 the scaffolding that encompasses the whole house under one big tent has a dual role. It gives the builders full access to the roof obviously but above them is another platform and a good ten feet wide. It circumnavigates the whole house at high level looking down onto the roof, chimneys and the work to be done fully under cover. Two specific viewing platforms on the scaffolding have been created looking out to the front over the deer park and to the rear over looking the gardens giving access to views not normally available. Being a serious DIYer I was keen to experience this, knowing that the scaffolding will be much superior to the ones I have been use to on our house whilst pointing a gable and doing our house roof.
Despite my not having a head for heights on towers and ridges, scaffolding on our two story house has never been an issue. At the entrance what's available, to do and see is explained and we are told the roof experience is a must to see. So of we go, both my wife and I in skirts to venture and explore. We go up in the professional heavy duty workers lift with HighVis jackets on. The builders have their own separate lift and walking around above was fascinating, even my wife had to comment on it. I was so busy taking it in, taking photos that I forgot to take one of me in my skirt on the scaffolding aloft Dyrham House! It wasn't too windy, the sheeting over all the scaffolding helped but even if it was a windy day the multi coloured long skirt with good lining would not have been a problem. Getting back to the entrance to continue our journey home we were asked if we had had a good time and had we enjoyed the "roof experience". On arrival they kept on about the "roof experience" being a once in a life time experience so I could resist my reply as we returned back to the car when they asked about the "roof experience" and I replied I don't know if I had the "roof experience" or the builders had an experience. Going around many were simply staring back at me! There was no answer from the female National Trust attendants obviously they had never had such a reply to their question. After a moments silence conversation continued but not about the "roof experience"!

If they are any would be male skirt wearers reading these blogs or even my web site, please have the courage of your convictions. Yes you do get the occasional negative overtones from some but so too they many others for many other reasons, like looks, hair styles, etc even due to a disability. Be confident with yourself. The more who do it the more it becomes 'normal' in the simple minds of the many.

What else have I been doing. We have been out with friends including a day over on the East Coast for a change along the beach. Both of us skirted, but our friends weren't! Both myself and my wife have socialised by attending classical concerts and yes both in skirts. We avoid classical singing and harp playing. We avoid large music festivals/concerts simply because we do not like large crowds. Never have, even when in trousers and depicting the "grey male". We both like most pop, rock country & folk music as well as classical. We find classical and folk music can be found at small venues. Good orchestras appear at large churches as well as small quartets. In our area within 1.5 hours were are well catered for in this respect. We do like rock and pop but these attract huge crowds. Having heard Chris Bonington talk not long after my last blog we have booked to hear mountaineer Simon Yates speak. Talks like this I find very interesting with human behaviour. I've heard Chris Bonington talk several times over the years, even had a one to one talk with him but unlike many I do not go to idolise, to follow like so many in society do with celebrities. They are just another human being, like you and I. Yes better well known and perhaps at times with more money but that's it. I will attend or listen to them purely because I find their topic interesting to hear and learn from. I fell walk in the mountains of the UK but I could never do what these moutaineers do so by listening to them and looking at their photos I can participate in their experiences. I cannot abide idolisation! So Simon Yates is our next moutaineer to listen too and will add to my list of other moutaineers who have given talks. The other interesting aspect of human nature is the dress style at social events. When we go to mountaineering talks we both go in skirts etc, as if we are going out for a social evening. To us we are, and I do not doubt that everyone else is too. 99.9% of attendees could easily go for a walk out in the hills, just missing backpacks. It's like weddings and funerals. Funerals, majority turn up in black, doom and gloom atmosphere. Rarely look upon as a celebration of that persons life. Why black? I don't and it is frowned upon by those who do. If you want to go black and gloomy even if I do not understand that's your choice but please do not lecture me. I'm not religious but according to religion of the West we are here only temporary as we progress to the next life, heaven and glory. Why then does the ceremony have to be so morbid. Celebrate the persons life on the planet and if you are religious celebrate moving onto the next life. It's like weddings. The majority of females dress in male style clothing day in day out, and their behaviour and expectations is to shed the image of being feminine or anything that associates with the label of yesteryear of being secondary, yet come the wedding, that's all out of the window and yes the men in their penguin suits. Oh, humans and their intelligence.

Simon Weston is another individual with an interesting life story. We are to go and hear him speak in due course as well as going to an interesting Brass Band concert. Supposedly the best in the UK based in the US. Over here on tour. We thought we would give them a whirl. We have heard Grimethorpe Colliery Brass Band who are regarded as the leading band in brass in the UK. When we heard them they didn't stick to traditional Brass Band music and it was amazing what they could get the instruments to do.

We've watched one or two films recently. Interstella is perhaps not too every taste but it's sci-fi which I like and with Sci-fi and the involvement of Black Holes lateral thinking can come into play. It's not your traditional story line but this is a film based around known science facts, jumbled together to make the story. It also covers, and this I also like in films, human behaviour. Like music we have a good general cross reference so from Interstella we have seen Unbroken, a true story of WW2, Exodus Gods & Kings, a bible based film, The Theory of Everything and the Imitation Game, both excellent films through to light hearted and very entertaining Paddington and a Night at the Museum 3.

Work on the house has now stopped due to my seasonal work being in full flow. I do need to do some small DIY jobs in the summer months due to being outside. One is a faulty lead tray above the window in the west facing gable. Most rains it's fine but driving winter rains it doesn't leak into the room but does leave a damp patch which dries with a stain. I hadn't pointed the gable until March 2014 so was convinced that was the cause but last winter it let me know that I may need to look at the lead tray. This means taking out part of the wall above the window to inspect. A good days work.

Even though the garden season came upon me quickly this year I did over a few weeks into May get the Kitchen and Utility fully finished. I have placed below 6 replacement finished photos of the kitchen now it is tiled and the cooker hood up. You will have to look at my last blog if you need to see what it was like beforehand.