Saturday, 21 December 2013

Progress is Being Made on my Out of Season Work - Own Barn Conversion. By a Man in a Skirt

At the end of my last blog I mentioned I had a frustrating day with regards placing insulation ahead of a Building Control inspection. I also mentioned car problem. The problem on the car is not too serious. My theory of a clutch starting to fail was wrong, as to my mobile mechanics telephone theory of a possible prop shaft bearing starting to wear. It is a dry bushel between the gear box shaft and the clutch plate. My mechanic having heard the noise says it is nothing to worry about, only does it adhoc, it is causing no harm, more nuisance noise than anything else. A bit of grease will cure it but that means 4 hours work to take out engine and putting it back in again. Having serviced the car on the same day this adhoc "bur" has got much less, in fact I hardly hear it now and when my mechanic phoned a week ago to ask about it I told him that. In fact I am convinced that the car has a 'love affair' with him. If the mechanic does not work on the car within a 6 month period, the car generates a problem, all most always minor, then after a visit it seems happy for a few months. Just like this noise. Since the mechanic has serviced the car and been for a ride to hear the noise it seems to have dissipated! Herbie reborn in a Land Rover Defender? I hope not!

The Building control inspector came that Friday morning and looked at the insulation I had placed. I had done 8 lengths out of 44 to do. This 100 mm deep insulation was being placed between existing rafters on a barn built pre 1800's, before the days of machine cut wood to be all the same in all dimensions. On top of that to cater for the non-breathable insulation put on before breathable felt became industry standard I needed to leave 50 mm air gap between the to. This meant deepening the rafters by 75 mm with the use of roofing laths, timber 50 mm by 25 mm.

 Talking to this inspector on the phone I understood that I could not leave gaps between the insulation and rafters and that was my problem. I didn't have huge gaps but I did have a millimeter or two here and there. I often find it is best discussing face to face as email, tweets, blogs and letters can never explain clearly as it always leaves a degree of mis-interpretation. So I waited for the Friday meeting and did something else. The inspector was very impressed, in fact he said he wished many other professional builders did as good a job. He couldn't find fault at all. The millimeter gaps were fine where the rafter sides where not square. The problem comes if it is much wider or a cut around a corner is missing say 2 or 3 centimeters. Mitering the insulation from the roof angle to the vertical wall was also fine. Since then I have marched forward. The inspector was quite happy for me to proceed.

The barn conversion consists of two barns attached to the house making it a traditional long house. One is roughly 10 m by 5 m, the other, in between the larger barn and the house is 5 m by 5 m approximately. Over the last four weeks I have concentrated on the upstairs of the larger barn. Remember I am working on my own and I do not do this line of work day in day out and unlike professionals that generally specialise in one or two areas, I'm covering the lot except plastering. Although my wife wants to be involved, much of the work is beyond her physical abilities of heavy serious DIY and until such time as painting and decorating comes in, her work is limited. She helps by taking on all the house work, dog walking, bringing in coal and logs for our central heating system, which by the way I fitted for us some 12 plus years ago. This includes soldering the copper pipes throughout, placing radiators with one minimum thermostat and one maximum thermostat to turn the circulation pump on or off as and when the cylinder tank temperature drops too much, in other words the house is always warm and there is always hot water served by the log burner. Within this system I placed and electronic zoning valve. My wife has helped hold things, pass things etc in the barn and has learnt a lot about electrics, plaster board etc although she admits she never intends using this knowledge herself!

So what have I achieved in these last four weeks. On the 10 m barn, the upstairs ceiling is completely plasterer boarded out including a loft hatch for access. Flush mounting ceiling light holes placed with the lighting circuit in situ including the wiring for a time delayed extractor fan for the en-suite and shower rooms.
 This fan circuit incorporates RCD and isolating switch but does not affect the lights of the room if isolated. Ring main circuit is in place along with a duplicate ring main for the Rointe Electronic wall heaters. Pump wire is in place along with separate shower and immersion heater wiring. Upstairs alarm wires placed and TV aerial cable for both bedrooms and downstairs reception room. The frame work ahead of plastering is in place for the shower room which will eventually hide the cylinder tank and water pump. All the cabling as mentioned above as it comes down the wall side from the loft area has had its frame work built ready for plastering too. This will allow these to be boxed off in due course. All the individual backing boxes for light switches, single sockets, double sockets, wall light switches for lamps by bed sides, shaving points etc all in place. The landing staircase light switch is not the standard 2 way switch. I need to place a 3-way switch.
 The wiring is now in place. I have put in place bespoke oak door frames to coincide with solid oak door headers embedded into the walls. Due to space being a premium, these door frames are being placed so that the plaster board is butted up to them, 25 mm of extra space is important! All the oak was stained with Danish Oil by my wife ahead of plastering to prevent damp from wet plaster putting stain marks on the oak. The front and back walls of the stone barn latted with DPC behind. Although these inter walls of the outer barn walls are dry I believe in proactive work not reactive. This allows these walls to be dry lined with plaster board. The plaster board on the internal block walls are being placed via the UK term of dot and dab. Basically "glued". I can plasterboard although not plaster, but to help save time and having plaster boarded the ceiling (and the Dining Room back in 2004) it is a job I can do but have asked the plasterer to do for me - basically buying time.

With this barn being built pre 1800's nothing is straight or square. The horizontal purlins that support the perpendicular rafters between stone gables are not horizontal or level. The walls of the barn are not even thickness even though this barn walls back and front are 500 mm thick! The middle smaller barn walls are 750 mm thick as to the internal gable between the two. Putting plaster board in this roof space, abutting against the first row purlins is not easy and it doesn't help when you therefore need to cut around 2 main frames. Mainframes and purlins are usually above the ceiling or all below if the entire roof apex is incorporated into the room. We are going in between.
We do not like all roof spaces open as warm air rises so any heat in the room goes straight to the top. Our rooms and 2.2 m high and to achieve this upstairs and downstairs we are taking a bit of the roof space. On top of adhoc jobs on any major DIY work 4 weeks has passed by. I have to source my own materials and collect if not delivered. If I miscalculate or do not anticipate a required material then it is a one hour return trip to obtain! Because I am a domestic person working on my own house, i.e. not commercial waste can be deposited at our local waste recycling plant which is time out as a Land Rover Defender is bigger than a car boot but it's not a van. On top of this, because it is not a job I do on a regular basis I need to be constantly thinking ahead and planning. Forgetting something, and I have, costs time.

A couple of trips to hospitals due to my wife's Glaucoma inspections and possibility of Cataracts - the latter was negative, time has been lost. Also doing some jobs around the house, Christmas shopping in York etc is also time out.

We are both quite pleased with progress but the priority and dominating aspect of our lives certainly until May 2014 is the completion of this barn conversion with only the help of a plasterer.

By Sunday 22nd December I will be starting the upstairs of the smaller barn, the second bedroom with ensuite of the barn conversion. By the end of the 23rd December the plasterer will have completed bedroom one and ensuite and will after Christmas be able to start on the Landing and Shower Room which I will have completed by 22nd December. After Christmas my wife will start painting the completed bedroom. Firstly by blinding the plaster work before applying our specific colours.

Once the upstairs is finished and move/complete the two reception rooms downstairs, then I build 9 oak doors. This will be done by late February, for as soon as the weather improves, I need to finish pointing the top half of the West gable outside and put in place the septic tank.

I have placed a few photos on this blog but others are available to view in the gallery on my web site

Obviously this work is not done in a skirt but in trousers and clothing that you do not mind getting 'dirty'. I have been out and about though skirted in public. Each time my wife goes to hospital with her eyes.  and Christmas shopping in York. I've been to Northallerton and Darlington. We have had the occasional meal out in evenings. For convenience we have recently been doing our grocery shopping at Morrisons in Darlington rather than Ripon or Harrogate. I don't have any problems, the odd stare but that's it. Like today, skirted all day, firstly at Northallerton Hospital, then to Homebase to get some floor tiles to match left over of existing ones, then Morrisons. Passed hundreds of people and only aware of 4 making a noticeable point but as usual, not direct. People chatted whilst I waited in the hospital reception area.

Evenings over this last four weeks I have been quite tired. By the time I have finished, around 6 pm, washed and changed - skirted- helped washed up by 8pm I usually cannot be bothered. I have maintained the odd tweets, and defended men in skirts though.

Hopefully by the time I do my next blog about mid January 2014 the barn will be making good progress but some time in January I do need to do my self employment tax return. I do not have an accountant, book keeping and tax liaison is also down to me.

In the meantime Happy Christmas to you all and a happy new year.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Man in a Skirt - Summer Seasonal Work Ends. Now Start my Winter Work

Been extremely busy since my last blog. April through to October I do a lot of gardening work. Although I enjoy it, it is much better than working in an office but after some 7 months going into 8 I feel a change is necessary before restarting the following April. I did office admin work for 15 years before and I had to get out of the "office rat race and politics". I don't regret it. I may not command the salary I was on but working for yourself in the open air, the garden being the office, no boss, no deadlines, no email and no phone, even mobile at times is absolutely great for me. It keeps me fit and my clients pay me not only for doing the garden but basically for going to the gym! How many readers get paid to go to the gym! For those who may be thinking to themselves, yes I am the skirted man but I do not garden in one - practicality. See my website

The tail end of the season usually gets busy from mid October into early November, leaving just my big walled garden occupying me for a bit longer into November but this year was different. I took the first two weeks of October off as I usually do. Gardens start from around mid April and it is very rare I take time out during the season - the downside of this job is no attendance, no pay. This two week period extended into 3 weeks with the heavy rain here in October but gardens kept me busy from thereon until 16th November, pretty much full time. This bonus work was due to the good summer here in the UK where gardens boomed with growth. I suppose it will be a small bonus to the Taxman when I eventually submitted my return but we will pass on that thought. During this period, my thoughts were turning to completing the barn conversion I have been doing over these latter years as a hobby - 95% on my own. I have done the footings, drainage, block work, building work now moving onto the second fix stage of electrics, carpentry decoration and plumbing. I cannot do plaster work so I have a professional on standby this winter. I have had help with the stone roof over haul, and replacing heavy stone lintels and cills as well as placing a first floor in block and beam format, all two person jobs. If you go to my site there are some photos in the gallery.

If you have been reading these blogs I have been doing during 2013 you will know that my wife and I have decided to sell up and move to France. My wife has now retired so we both feel a complete life style change is good for the third chapter of our lives. I look at life as three very long chapters. Childhood, working career and retirement. Four estate agents in late 2012 said if we want to sell, do so now whilst the barn is at first fix ie electrics, plumbing, plastering and decoration. Don't spend time and money on personalising when 95% of new owners always change internal decor including bathrooms, kitchens, tiles etc. Reducing the house value by £50K to reflect finishing costs and a profit margin for the new owners, those two points were the only two things the four agents agreed on. Even the advertising price varied by £40K! We tried for nearly a year with the lower of the four valuations but nothing came. All viewers did not see the opportunity of personalising from a blank canvass and those that did played on a cheaper price. This September, against the agents advice we came off the market. We will finish the barn ourselves, re-list at the higher end of the four valuations plus that £50K. Getting my mind back on the work to be done, obtaining the materials etc, i.e. project managing was also undertaken during this busy period of the garden close down for 2013. On the 18th November 2013 my wife and I started. I commenced the electrics, yes the full wiring is to be done by me, and my wife started to place the insulation in the roof section that will be incorporated into the upstairs rooms. This project will occupy most of our time until April 2014. Not only am I the project manager but my wife and I are also the only labourers for the job along side day to day living.

The odd photo of me doing certain aspects of this project will appear on my site in due course simply to show that this skirted man is basically a man who wears skirts, womens clothing to suit society labeling, and is no different to a woman who these days choose to wear trousers or other male style clothing but remain women and do womens activities.

Since my last blog  my wife and I have been out and about in skirts. Not just day to day when not gardening or working on the house or grocery shopping. We met friends in late October who were up from South of England. We met them at the Harlow Carr RHS gardens in Harrogate and yes I was skirted and I was complimented on my attire by a man who also wears skirts. He wasn't in one at the time as he says he finds them too cold in the Autumn/Winter months - I don't. We went to a friends 60th Birthday party as well. Husband and wife, 60 within a couple of weeks of each other. Attended this party of 85 people in a hotel. Apart from our two friends we had never met anyone before and I turned up in clothing as depicted on my website. If anyone was bothered they showed no direct indication to me. Many talked to me throughout the night and one woman was very impressed with my attire. Even at breakfast at the hotel the following morning and in reception as people were departing, party goers talked to me. The event started at 7 pm and my wife and I were still in the Hotel bar at 2.30 in the morning.

We have had the odd weekend with friends, either here or with them and this weekend we have another friend coming to us and none of our friends are bothered about me a man in a skirt and go out and about in public with me. It is only the small handful of public that find it "odd" and of those each and every one are not traditional themselves and around 99% of these are women. As I have said before, nothing said directly to me but when I go out and about usually about 5 or so that will make body language negativity towards me usually by laughing within their little group. Bearing in mind the number I see during that period it is a very very small minority. Do they ask me about what they do and do they stop and think what others may think or even talk about them. No.

Frustrating day on the barn today - 20th November 2013 - with regards insulation - two days into starting it for the winter period Nov 2013 to April 2014, hope it's not an omen! Meeting modern insulation requirements in a roof space put up 315 years ago when nothing was machine made! Rafters differing sizes - in all directions and twisted. Purlins not level. Cannot see Building Inspector until Friday morning. After yesterday had 4 calls to him today to try and understand requirements. Stupidly I thought cut as good as possible bang it in place. Not supposed to create cold spots by leaving gaps between the rafters. Anything below the rafters is OK but need to close the width between rafters. Everything is solvable was one of the replies I got. Never done insulation for inspection before so I'm now waiting until Friday to see if what we have done so far is actually OK. Difficult to get instructions and understand on the telephone when you know you need to comply to inspected regulations! I'll move onto other jobs, electrics to continue, door frames to make...

We both still feel that our new chapter on life is still on hold. We are both looking forward to a new start in France, and although have an active life here in the UK it feels temporary now. Completing the barn even though 4 professional agents all said don't is not sitting well. I am not a property developer but like it as a hobby to fine tune our house to suit us - it has now turned hobby to pressure deadline and many extra features will not be done. Over the last 2 years I have got to know a man who moved into our area not so many years ago and is going back to France. Had enough of UK. Interesting to hear him talk about French life. I have heard it is a 'laid back' lifestyle and would tend to agree on our tourist trips, especially as to what is open and when to name one experience but I asked about DIY deliveries. He laughed and said do not book or plan to do anything until it arrives. They may give you a date but it rarely arrives on that date. Can be before or sometime after! Last year he purchased a barn for renovating and decided he would 'rough it' on his visits whilst local builders did the work by actually staying in it! He got the nick name the mad Englishman. The local Council office can see his barn in the distance, so when he was their earlier this year, noting movement at the property and snow on the ground they cleared the road to his property even though it was not permanently lived in at that point but to be fair to the French council it was on a maintained road even though only served his property at that point. Would this happen here in the UK? Where we live we do not get snow ploughed. The main road 1.5 miles away from us does. Couple of winters back we recorded 68 inches of snow over a 6 week period between mid December and early February. The local farmer was sent by the Council about 6 times and I still recall driving our Land Rover Defender through two feet of snow on two occasions in that period. We are not the only house on the road but all residents have a Land Rover though. To be fair to the local farmer who does the ploughing for the Council he does do a good job but he is tied to County authorisation and he is the only one in a large area so if it's bad he cannot be in all places at once. The decision maker in County is some 30 miles away and a good 1100 feet lower in altitude!

Time is late and I feel I should get some shut eye before I continue with the barn work during the day. Time out from this is looming, as my wife has her twice a year eye check up at the hospital when she cannot drive afterwards, I will need my ears syringing as a build up of wax is currently being softened and our car is not only due a service but has started to make the occasional grinding noise for a few seconds on an adhoc basis. My mobile mechanic thinks it is a worn prop-shaft bearing when I suspected clutch. I'm not the mechanic, he is so I'll take his observation. He is to pop in one day this week to assess first hand. He usually is correct when talking over the phone is followed up with the visit.

Social events and day to day chores in daily life means no time on the barn and time will continually march forward towards May 2014, it will never stop for whatever reason!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Man in a Skirt Celebrates 50th Birthday

Since my last blog I have reached 50. I'm not into celebrating birthdays since leaving childhood/teenage years. They are just another day, nothing happens or changes as only you the individual makes changes within your life, not an event to be celebrated or "milestones". Certainly since 20, I say you are as old as you want to be or as young as you want to be. Sure as the years pass certain activities get a little harder, but you simply reduce your goal and take a little longer. Provided you keep yourself fit and healthy and you can still do many things in life that the 'young ones' do. I still fully intend climbing hills and mountains when I'm 70, 80, perhaps not at 90, I'll rely on photos but still go to hilly and mountainous areas. I recently watched on UK BBC the interview Bruce Forsyth had with Miranda Hart on him reaching 85 and still being very active in showbiz some 70 years on! Tap dancing live on the stage at 85, and with speed means what I say above is true.

So if I don't mark birthdays why am I here talking about my recent 50th. Its half way, OK perhaps slightly over half way, but I'm a half full glass person, not half empty, and I see that I have many, many years ahead and since early 2011 when I took charge of my life and allowed the real me to experience life not a person that society and others via domineering words, pressure and influence expected me to be to suit their beliefs. See my website for more on this point if you have not been their already.

Since my early 20's, leaving home and trying to cope with the world, its labels etc, I had been to Edinburgh in Scotland 3 times. I stayed away from the mountainous west highlands as for 10 years, ending in 1980, I was taken their on family summer holidays, every August, and every August it did nothing but rain, low cloud, campers being washed out. In the 1980's we changed to the Lake District, same time of year, yes it rained but we also had just as many dry days and in the Lakes it is not to far to travel to source fairer weather on those wet days. So, memories of Scotland were not good but over the years I have collected many books on the Scottish mountains, and its west and northern coastlines. My wife as a child had far more success with family Scottish holidays but we could get our fix of mountains in Cumbria and hills in northern England. Whilst at work, working on your own home to enable you to move up the property ladder and others aspects of life meant Scotland had to be pre-planned, a certain time of year, therefore the risk of me booking a holiday in advance and paying out good money was too much for it to RAIN. We were quite happy to wait until retirement/work allowed flexibility. My wife, 8 years older than me secured retirement in 2012 and my self employment work over the last 15 years means flexibility for 2013 was possible. Getting the house/barn annex to first fix for our impending move to France occupied the early part of 2013 and then a very busy garden season with a very good UK summer of warm, dry sunny days with periods of rain, kept our lives busy on top of other events previously mentioned on these blogs.

During the year, especially in August/September we claimed one off days to walk in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District, more so the Lake District, a walking haven neither of us get bored with but the pull of the flexibility and 2013 being my 50th was a good cause to break a 33 year absence of the west highlands of Scotland and a 40 year one for my wife. We watched the forecast, as in September that area was getting periods of rain. By the end of September my fortnightly garden cycle was closing for the 2013 season and one off jobs completed. From October, there was no gardening for me until mid October when I would start the big cutting back jobs in many client gardens, and that week the weather on the west coast of Scotland had been good, in fact very dry, sunny with temperatures higher than average, so 1 pm on the Thursday we decided the offer of a reduced last minute 4 night stay in a hotel in Fort William was the the calling. We booked it, managed to get both dogs in our usual kennels, we had appointments middle of the following week, and the BMW one series car was pre-booked for a warranty job at the garage on the next day we decided to book, but 4 nights fitted very nicely.

We collected the car at 5 pm and were en-route to Scotland by 5.20 pm, having used the boot of the courtesy car for the suitcases. We arrived quite late in the evening but the M6 was trouble free, and north of Glasgow on the A82 alongside Loch Lomond we hardly saw a car so nothing delayed us. This meant a good nights sleep laid ahead and 4 full days was at our disposal. All 4 days were blue skies and sunshine, and if you hadn't realised or even thought, yes I was skirted except for one day. I was even skirted at the BMW garage both dropping off and collecting, and just in case you are wondering the staff are not bothered. If they have a private thoughts then I don't know, but they hare happy to engage with me and not just the bare essential business contact only. This was the same at the hotel as well, when all the staff we encountered were quite happy to engage in conversation regardless of what was going on and not just sticking to the bare essential business requirements if they did feel uncomfortable with me being a man in a skirt, clothing as depicted on my web site. Not all guests engaged in chit chat, but then that's not unusual, even in the days when I stuck to the expected "grey man in two drainpipes", but quite a few guests did. In fact over the whole 5 day period probably about 20 people gave a negative look/body language, the rest either got on with life and many engaged in spontaneous conversation and never about me. By the way, of those few that did make a negative look/body language, the vast majority were women, and yes the typical modern women in non-traditional female wear that they obviously expected me to be in traditional male wear. The few men were the typical "male he-men" but nothing at all, or at anytime was said verbally at me. There are two photos of me in Scotland now on my site, under my picture gallery - skirted in public - one at Loch Carron and one at Loch Shiel.

Neither of us had been to Skye, my wife last time at Applecross was about 50 years ago, and I hadn't been their either.  My wife wanted to take me on the Jacobite Steam train from Fort William to Mallaig and I wanted to do Ben Nevis, which my wife hadn't done, and I had done it once in the early 1980's as part of a group which did the three peaks of the UK in 24 hours, which we did succeed in doing. Our 4 day trip was already planned out.

One day we did the road to the Isles, caught the ferry to Skye and spent quite a few hours going to the SW side of the Cuillins having crossed via the north of them, then going up the west coast of Skye, before cutting straight across its middle to Portree. We returned to Fort William via the Skye Bridge. The day we climbed Ben Nevis we were starting our ascent at 9 am at a height of approximately 300 ft above sea level we aimed to climb the highest peak in the UK at some 4300 ft above sea level, and a distance of approximately 3 miles in each direction. Many people were doing it (by the way I was in walking trousers) and asking to pass as we settled into our usual walking rhythm, on one occasion a group of three girls who were quite happy to find out those who hadn't been there before and to pass advice were keen to tell us that we needed to pace ourselves. I ignored them thinking, who are you to advise when you have not the slightest idea of our walking experience. Fell walking and long distances of up to 20 miles is not unusual for us, 12 to 15 miles even in the Lake District. My wife and I got to the top in 2 hrs 45 mins, grantedly not a record, but we didn't set out to do a record, but we both felt quite pleased. I took just over 100 photos whilst going up and down as well as the top. We stopped to take in the views. We spent 45 minutes on the top and drank two small bottles of wine that we had carried up and my wife pulled out chocolate buns that she had made with "50" on them, but the wind chill got to us. It took us 2 hrs 30 mins to come down, 6 hours in total, and that was a whole hour less than it took me in the early 1980's but by then I had within the 24 hour period climbed Snowden, Scafell Pike, just completed Ben Nevis and driven to Snowden and Ben Nevis earlier. I didn't drive back from Fort William, tiredness took over the adrenaline.

Getting down by 3 pm and it still being a glorious day it gave us time to go to Neptune's Staircase in Fort William to get good views of the west side of the Nevis Range and subsequently take a drive down Glen Nevis, the southern flanks of the Nevis Range until the road stopped.

A further day we drove via Loch Lochy, Glen Shiel and Eilean Donan Castle over to Loch Carron and subsequently the Applecross pass, Scotland's and the UK's third highest road and 2054 feet. The views were spectacular as the good weather continued. We returned by driving up the west side of the Applecross peninsular and around its northern headland. The views were so good we could see the Outer Hebrides to the North.

The Jacobite steam train ride from Fort William to Mallaig was on another day. Returning at 4 pm to Fort William the sun still shining.

Loch Shiel and the monument to Bonnie Prince Charles, as two the bottom edge of Loch Ness and the side road to its south.

Within the hour of setting off home we hit rain as we approached Glen Coe but that stopped so we had sandwiches and drink parked on Rannoch Moor looking west into Glen Coe, departing around 6.30 pm for our drive back to North Yorkshire. A journey that added 1152 miles to the car and 750 photos, reduced to 474 and 240 for the digital photo frame.

Attending appointments on middle of the following  week like dentists, opticians etc in Harrogate, yes I was skirted all the time even at these events, we had another weekend ahead when we helped a friend celebrate his birthday.

Now it's back to the usual routine. I've done my invoices for my September work, planning which gardens to start later in October, and the most efficient order to do them in as well as getting my head around fitting electrics, plasterboard, plumbing, door frames into our barn annex which I will start in the first week of November 2013. The only outside help I will need is a professional plasterer and I already have one lined up. My target date is April 2014 with the help of my wife. We also intend upgrading the main bathroom and Kitchen, then we will re-list on the market as a fully completed house for our impending re-location to France for our next chapter in our lives. From next April we may, not yet decided, run the barn annex as a B&B, but if we do, it is as the skirted couple. It's ideal as a B&B as except for the kitchen, it is independent of the house so you are not literally sharing your home with others.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Man in a Skirt - Been a While Since My Last Blog!

It has been a while. 27th July 2013. At that time August looked to be very quiet for us, but it soon changed and became extremely busy for us and went into September. This is the third attempt to finish this blog.

A lot of activity skirted about and about. Apart form day to day activities like weekly shop etc, what else have I been doing skirted. Throughout August and into September we have had friends to us two or three days or we have been going to friends. We are both still popular even though I go out and about in what society labels womenswear with regards men but any wear with regards women!

Whilst we have been with friends, either here or there I was skirted. Been to public places like Raby Castle, Foutanins Abbey, Studley Royal to name just a few. Although my wife and I like serious hill walking all our friends prefer more gentile walking with little or no inclines so we have done canal walks in the Saltaire near Leeds area, Skipton area  and even in the area of Barnoldswick and Foulridge on the Leeds Liverpool canal.  I always do Canal walk or what I call flat tourist strolls in a skirt unless the ground is soft and muddy. Pubs, restaurants,  have been undertaken including our wedding anniversary (22 years) celebrated as usual by going out and as I have done since 2011 I was skirted. My wife and I did have another day on the dunes of Morecambe Bay, as our dogs absolutely love it their as they are not distracted by rabbits etc and we are always skirted on the dunes and dry mud flats of Morecambe Bay - not Morecambe front itself.

My wife and I did have a weekend away in the West side of the Lake District. Although I was only skirted in the evening as on the Saturday and Sunday we were up on the high Lakeland fells. On this weekend trip I appeared in walking gear but came down for evening meal skirted as depicted on my site Sitting in the bar for a drink after the meal we got talking to a local retired shepherd, who had lived and worked the fells for most of his life and was currently 70. We talked about all sorts of subjects but not once did he question my attire. The following morning walking through the village before we departed I met him again, this time I was in walking gear and trousers and he never queried or gave any body language reaction. We chattered briefly about his walk for the day and our planned walk which we altered due to his local knowledge on the weather - it did as he predicted! We departed by shaking hands and wished each other all the best. With the good weather we have this year taken the opportunity to get walking in the Lakes & Dales, among the hills and of course it is far more practical in trousers so I was. We always make an effort at the end of the walk, freshen up, get changed (skirts etc) and either have fish and chips at a view point, picnic and my wife's picnic are quite something, salad based but almost like a full meal back at home! Bar meals are also undertaken at times after a walk, but we always get changed and freshen up.

I have been to the Hospital skirted, for my wife's eye twice a year eye check ups, Dentists, Opticians and even taken our BMW to the garage for its required service - skirted. Nobody makes a public issue, private chatter I don't know. Since July as I have not being doing any home repairs/renovations we have been in our local area at times when we are not in our work clothes and I have been out locally skirted. I don't go out specifically as most of our life's activities apart from work is out of the immediate area, but if it's suitable for me to be skirted and we need something from the local village shop, the Friday papers or even prescriptions from the Doctors, then I go skirted. No negative reaction. Those that have never spoken to us because our lives do not cross still don't. Those you pass regularly but never socialise still say hello and those that have socialised with us still do except for a small handful but that hasn't bothered us, in fact it has improved our lives. This small group that do not socialise with us never did so personally, only invited because of a community event and we felt obliged to go as they felt obliged to invite. These same people are the usual ones in any area where their way of life is correct and local politics and power struggles follow them in their wake. I do know most of this small group do not agree with me, but every female in the group is a modern woman and they cause upset for many as they pass through life dominating their preferences upon others as nothing more than bullies. The missing obligation to go is not missed at all by us, our lives are far more healthier.

As always I honestly do not have any direct problem apart from the occasional stare and the obvious chatter between others but nothing at me directly. When I say about 2% do this I feel as though I am being very generous and it is possibly much less, I do not spend my day counting people. I still get spontaneous chatter with members of the public whilst out and about and very rarely about my attire, just banter whilst in a queue or walking the dogs along canals, restaurants where ever quite honestly. It doesn't happen all the time thankfully as nothing would get done, but it happens just as frequently as when I'm in trousers.

I have done some minor modifications to my site over this period, created a new page called Men in Skirts and Feminism and placed quite a few comments on other blogs about men in skirts, quite a few linked to my new page and also to my page 'My Observations'. Following Question Time on 19th September 2013 (BBC in the UK) I have one or two quotes to add to My Observations page said by some panelists to the first question talking about the Muslim Veil but these comments were about womens rights in respect to wearing what they want without question. I'll try and get this done by the end of September. I have also been quite active over these last two months on Twitter - @TheSkirtedMan - promoting equality, freedom of choice for men, for all, no gender bias etc.

Autumn is now upon us, but it will not stop me wearing skirts. Yes by November I'll be in thick tights but I still feel warmer and more comfortable than in trousers.

Our house didn't sell this summer despite the Agents over enthusiastic sales talk throughout even when we questioned the failed predictions. The house is off the market. Pricing reflecting the barn annex at first fix and taking a bit more off had no effect, it simply encouraged even lower offers. Leaving the barn at first fix, recommended by 4 out of 4 Agents left virtually all viewers in bewilderment. The agents do not agree with our reasoning but as I said to them they have had since Nov 2012 and no result. I recall the quote "Professionals built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark" here.

So this winter my wife as my apprentice (steep learning curve for her) will completely wire the annex, put in plumbing, heating, fix plaster boards to the block wall that I had put up, place ceilings, insulation, heating and decoration. The only thing I cannot do is plaster but I have already made contact with a local plaster in this respect and he is happy to do it - on a commercial basis. Getting in plumber, electrician, plasterer and carpenter, professions most people get in, I would say 6 weeks would complete it. Doing it myself with my wife's help will keep us occupied for most of the winter, especially as my garden business will not close for the 2013 season until October and I still have a large garden that will occupy me through November. We will not be able to start the barn annex completion until first week of November and 5 months later Gardens will be raising its head again for 2014. In April 2014 we will re-list our house on the market but this time finished and with no price reductions from a market value reflective of our area. Next March I place the septic tank in the ground (pipe work already there) and then we can sit back again. Perhaps we will run a part time B&B along side my garden business but if we do it will be as the 'skirted couple'. If you don't agree simply do not come but B&B is only muted as our desire is still to enter retirement and have a life near the south of France as mentioned in earlier blogs.

So as you can see my/our life is full, active, vibrant - for us - and living a life as we want within society rather than letting other individuals tell us how we should live just to suit their own perception of life.

I'll try and not let it be nearly 2 months before the next blog.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Man in a Skirt at Weddings, Stately Homes, North & South England

Since my last blog, theskirtedman has been very active in a skirt. With the exception of my self employment work, everything has allowed me to be skirted over the last 3 weeks. Our social calender since July 5th to now has been very hectic and we are both quite pleased it is from tomorrow calming down to our usual low key level. So why has July 2013 been so different.

Well it started on the 5th July with our trip to the Pompeii exhibition in London as referred to in my last blog, but the following two weekends were no different as they were a 4 day long weekend for myself and my wife, allowing only three day in the in between weeks to keep on top of my gardens before dashing off again.

The subsequent weekend, 13th July was at a friends 30th wedding anniversary. Apart from our friends and their two children as far as we were aware no one else knew of my skirt wearing. The thing is, everybody in our immediate personal lives, doesn't make an issue of it, life carries on as it always has. The initial brief discussion in the early days was never an interrogation, but so what, it's modern life, women wear trousers etc, etc.  The party went well. One young woman, very early twenties made it very clear she objected as I was ignored but my wife not, but by the end of the evening she was very much different. Why, well as nobody talks about my skirt wearing I'm not to sure but she may have been talked to by her parents but she may have also seen the huge number of others who talked and chatted to me throughout the evening. Those that I talked to were not in the slightest bit bothered. It was very obvious by body language apart from anything else even if some, many or even all perhaps didn't understand but as I say on my website we all have traits that others do not understand but just get on with life. With regards the others I didn't talk to, well I didn't detect any pointing, laughing etc.  Out of all the men I was the only man skirted, perhaps no surprise, but as it was a party all the women were in their dresses and skirts, again no surprise, except one. She was in jeans, so I didn't feel left out!

This weekend was made into a 4 day event. Travelling south to Colchester area on the Friday, the Saturday before the party we went to the Beth Chatto gardens in Colchester and Melford Hall near Long Melford in Suffolk. At Melford Hall, a female National Trust representative complimented me on my outfit and said how nice it was to see a man being an individual. At the end of the visit we met this same woman again but this time her young female colleague also acknowledged my attire in an approving way. The Sunday we spent with my wife's cousin who lives down south, although aware of my skirting activities, it was the first time seen personally. The Monday ahead of collecting the two dogs in the early evening we went via Wallington Hall, near Morpeth in Northumbria. We had no problems at any event. Some gave quick glances as if to check they had seen right, but you could count on one hand once again others who would point and only one woman laughed. This was at Wallington Hall, a large school party was there, two or three young children made reference loudly to their pals but were told to respect others, however one woman be it a teacher/helper had to laugh. Just as you expect, and again no different to when I went out and about in trousers people would talk as and when events happened that would stimulate a conversation. I recall three people laid out on the lawn of Wallington Hall, talking very loudly suddenly stopped as we passed by and their faces were a picture,and followed me silently like solar panels moving with the sun.

I do not doubt many may not understand but 99.99999% of people just continue with life. You are only talking about a handful who will make their distaste known but they do not seem to realise that everybody has a similar action to others from time to time, nobody is perfect in everyone's eyes and we all do things that others may not understand and not just choice of clothing either.

The following weekend was at our friends sons wedding at Stubton Hall near Newark. We went down on the Friday via Lincoln and had no problem in Lincoln as we went to the Cathedral, the Bishops former residence and the old streets. Newark on the Saturday morning was even better and at the wedding, afternoon/evening all was OK even though we had only met around 13 of the guests before, and only 4 of them skirted. At weddings people tend to stick to their own groups and that was the same here, but my wife and I talked to other quests that we didn't know and others talked with us. The following day we were en-route to see a college friend of my wife's whom we see every so many years and we were in their area. We went via Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield. This event was as expected when I go out and about skirted in public. Spontaneous conversations start up with others as is part of life, staff are all fine, others go about their own activities, the odd glance but nothing to report. However, as we left, it is a longish walk to the car park area and this was about 3 pm as we wanted to go to Stainsby Mill, nearby, an actually working corn mill powered by water. Heading back to the car we passed four separate groups and all four made it clear that I was a form of entertainment to them. Nothing said directly but without appearing to stereotype all the women even though the groups were separated in time, wore jeans, trainers, baseball caps, some had a manly appearance, many had tattoos but none of them looked at all in any shape or fashion as a traditional woman, but to them I was different, odd, queer etc so laughs, pointing and chatter took place. The men again without appearing stereotyping had short hair, the "he-man" image etc. We carried on, met our friends in the evening and enjoyed our lives as we want to, just as the four groups were. Stainsby Mill was very interesting, manned by 4 male volunteers and one female. Being a actual old working mill with open slat stair case and looking at the mechanism no one was in the lightest bit bothered, or certainly showed no concern, from either visitor or National Trust representative and certainly nobody made any attempts to make me feel uncomfortable. We had long conversations with three NT representatives, one on my own outside.

The Monday returning again to collect the dogs in the early evening we went via Benningbrough Hall near York and had no problem. Quite a few visitors and staff would talk to us, banter etc and queuing to go in in the morning we had a long conversation with a couple. Two women and a man thought I was amusing when they saw me on my own (my wife and I do wander around these places separately at times) and they were the only obvious ones. They had a different attitude when they saw me later talking to two women, even though one was my wife, but they were not to know. You see, Society judges people to often without knowing the facts about either the person or the situation. You do not judge a book by its cover, but by its contents.

This last week it was business as usual for theskirtedman, garden clients (not skirted) weekly shop and my wife's 6 monthly checkup at the hospital for her eyes. Yesterday we had a day in the Lakes as we both like the atmosphere of the PotFest, held at Hutton in the Forest near Penrith. 100 potters from Europe display their wears and we noted prices from £8 to £1500. It is not standard pottery but very fine detailed and technical pottery. Animals are very life like to a point our dogs thought the pot rabbit was a rabbit! We moved on quickly. Another stall had items around the home but in pottery but very life like. You get the usual quota of plates dishes planters etc but again not the run of the mill style. The live music, the grounds etc do for us make it a good day out. I had the odd glance but that was it but just as I have noted many many times this summer, the men in the traditional trousers, shirts, socks shoes all looked hot and at times sweaty. Me, I was cool and I have been told by some from time to time and was at Benningbrough Hall, with the remark "you look cool as well". Some men were lose T-shirts or similar styles, shorts and sandals, their choice, but I have never like shorts or to go topless, and skirts for me in the summer are the ideal choice. It is down to one's preference. I do find it interesting to note what others look like and wear themselves when they stare or the odd ones that pass the obvious comment but never at me. They may not understand but then I don't understand them at times from what I witness and see.

I've had interesting tweets both made and received but they can be seen @theskirtedman on twitter. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Possibility of a B&B run by a Man in a Skirt & his Wife - Now That's a Thought.

It has been over 5 weeks and that has certainly flown by. My garden business is well and truly in full motion and the UK's cold Spring has been shrugged off with a good mix of wet, warm and dry weather, ideal for garden growth which in turn keeps me busy. The current dry and hot spell this last week, going certainly into next week is a good extra, but unlike many I would like it to rain this next week coming, as by then gardens will be slowing. Good weather can follow, but I would like the occasional one to two day spell of rain.

We have continued to do minor jobs to the house even though it is for sale. The selling agents said don't, but firstly it can do no harm, and secondly, they have been told if no sale by September 2013, due to the current very "dead" housing market in the UK then it is off the market. Houses do sell in the UK, but bigger priced houses stick longer these days and we are very rural, among hills and that turns many off from living, perhaps not visiting. Anyhow, minor jobs are to our benefit in the meantime, also if we do in September postpone our new chapter in life by becoming an Ex-pat in south France for a while, we intend finishing the barn annex from its current position of first fix. The 4 agents we had initially all said leave the barn annex at first fix. Let new owners personalise it to their taste. A good suggestion but this winter we will finish it and run the barn annex as a B&B, run by "the skirted couple". If you don't like people in skirts, especially men then it's your loss. Six billion plus people in the world, we only need 'a thimble full' and based upon my response in public the minority who question a man in a skirt will be no loss to us. We may put the house back on in April 2014, being run as a B&B or wait a year or two.

Over these last 5 weeks or so, there has been time when trousers were suitable for anyone but I have been out and about quite a lot in a skirt, in public since my last blog. Apart from the weekly grocery shopping, been to garden centers to acquire plants for clients, been walking the dogs on Middleham High Moor, on one occasion had a long talk with two women who come there themselves from time to time but never questioned my skirt or even gave the impression that they did. Any negative private opinion, if there was one, was kept private. Had a trip to Morecambe Bay, the dunes area, not the actual Morcambe town front. Got the occasional quick look but just as many would talk to both myself and my wife as normally when I use to go in trousers. We go there periodically during the Spring/Summer months and since May 2011 always skirted. My wife had a hospital debrief with the Consultant, all OK, nothing serious, but we both sat in skirts in the very busy waiting room, nattered to some, and had a long chat with two we see occasionally from our immediate area. They, like the area, know of my skirt wearing, never seen me previously in one but again it was as if I hadn't one on. Any negative thought was kept private.

Last weekend my wife, I and a friend had a long weekend in London. Traveled down by car this time, usually go by train, and as before was dressed as depicted on my web site all the time. There are some new photos in the photo gallery on my site We stopped at Sudbury Hall to break the journey, no problems as we toured the house, gardens and parish church, talked to some visitors, one even offered to take a photo of myself and my wife together. The staff treated me quite normally, and had a long conversation with 4 women who were overseeing a needlework exhibition. Not my cup of tea, but it is my wife's but the conversation was not about my skirts either. The whole time was as if I didn't have one on.

The hotel was great, including the staff. Only aware of one family staring continuously, until they had to leave the bar, and on the following two evening's always left as I came in. Two other couples gave the initial look and got on with life.

Travelling on the London Underground and overground on the Saturday was no problem, the odd quick look, but that was it. I never had an empty seat next to me, so the thought of this dreaded disease that they might catch obviously was not a problem. Our day at the British Museum, went to see the Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibition was also fine. Touring the other parts of the museum as well we will have past thousands of people and only three groups made an obvious remark and giggle, sufficient for me to hear but not directly at me. One was a middle aged couple, but she was in trainers, jeans etc. Two teenage girls were another, dressed just like modern teenage girls do, and a small group of teenagers, boys and girls, giggling, pointing and one was desperate to get a photo of me and then pass the camera to show her pals. All were in jeans, trousers, trainers etc.

This is not a problem, firstly they are entitled to a view, after all I do of them, but the big difference is I am not a hypocrite, intolerant or even a bigot. I acknowledge their freedom of choice, they cannot of others who do not dress or do what they consider is normal, but as I have said before, what is normal. A freedom fighter to one is another's terrorist. It's a fact of life when you have differing observations. The problems start by inflicting intolerance and being a bully by forcing your views, not respecting views.

The meal in the Italian restaurant went with out a hitch from a skirt point of view. Likewise on the Sunday, a day at Hampton Court Palace. I was not aware of anything other than the occasional quick look, "yes my eyes did see correct" look. Again the evening meal went well, nobody gave any disapproval look or remark.

I do not doubt over this weekend some will not agree with a man in a skirt but then that's life. Nothing in life has a 100% acceptance with all people. It was the same on the Monday. We dropped our friend off and went on to Levens Hall, near Kendal, Cumbria, then my wife wanted to go to Lakeland Plastics in Windermere before our previously booked meal at a pub which we use from time to time in the area. Over this weekend my wife noticed two other men wearing skirts, one in London, the other in Windermere in the station car park. Two in a weekend may be a drop in the ocean some of you may say, but if you have noted my thoughts from my blogs and web site, I do accept men in skirts is the minority, and it perhaps will never become mainstream like trousers for women have over these last 30 years, but 60 million population in the UK with all the numerous towns, cities, villages etc, what is the probability of being in the same place and the same time when you are the minority.

I did check twitter on the Saturday night, noted the usual quota of men in skirt sightings, negative comments and positive comments as well but nothing I could directly attach to my Saturday event at the British Museum with the group of teenagers photographing me. I did note one comment on Twitter on the Saturday evening which I replied to 3 days later on my return home, as this girl asked what was the world coming to, having seen a man in a skirt herself. When away I do not tweet, blog or research men in skirts for any new activity on the internet, but I wanted to see if my Saturday photo actually gave me internet news. I couldn't find it even looking harder on the Tuesday evening, including You Tube. Another time!

Talking about Twitter. I'm not a social network fan. I believe in actual contact and believe in true friends who are there for you in life not a person who wants to collect friends like tally marks. I do have a Facebook page purely to link my site within that social media community, and I rarely go on it. I have provided no information about me only a link to my site. A requested for a friend which I confirmed, ignored another and note from my G-mail account another person a few weeks back has asked, but as I say, I hardly look at it including my G-mail account. I should look at that recent request and perhaps put a note on my Facebook page, in frequently monitored, contact me via my web site. Another job to do. Twitter account #TheSkirtedMan was started late May and it is only for comments on Men in Skirts. I do not have the time for this 'banter' that takes place on it, but acknowledge others do, so each to their own. I use my account to promote men in skirts, my site, this blogspot and consider it an opportunity to engage in conversation with those I consider it worth while both negative and positive. Some of the comments it is just not worth responding to and quite honestly there are too many and as I have said, I promote men in skirts not spend my life on the internet, as the frequency of these blogs indicates.

I put about 30 to 40 minutes on most evenings on Twitter and that's it.

So that is a resume of the last 5 weeks of theskirtedman.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Man in a Skirt at Funeral & Blessing of a Marriage

Thought I would post this blog, even though it is only a week since my last but as the title states, in this last week I have been to both and in clothing as depicted on my site

The funeral was for a friend and a very close friend of my wife. She had known her since college days and was the same age of my wife - 58. Died of Ovarian Cancer after a two year battle. She never let it get her down even at the end, always maintained a sense of humour like "if I was a dog I would have been put down by now" and was always talking about a future.

She knew about my skirt wearing not long after we made it known to family and friends and never had an issue with it. In fact the week before my wife and I went to France, my wife was talking to her about outfits for both the Blessing and another wedding later in the year and she asked if I had an outfit and what was it like.

At the funeral there was no problem and as far as I am aware, unless others had been told by our friend talking to her friends, the only ones I knew who would know were her two sons. I would not have expected anyone causing trouble at a funeral but I was amazed how many were quite happy to talk to me afterwards even though I had not met them previously. They never queried my choice of attire bearing in mind Societies labels of clothing. Approximately 100 attended the funeral.

The Blessing of a marriage was the same. It was my Niece from Canada and 50 guests were present. My family obviously knew but many of the guests were relatives of my brothers wife's family and I was not sure how far down that line information had passed. After all, moving from immediate family you are not on the talking agenda for others and that applies to all families. Also present were many from the Beverley area that I would know of from when my wife and I lived there many years ago.

We were at Beverley Minster early and initially only immediate family were there. We took our seats in the Choir of the Minster so really no one was any the wiser initially. When we stood for the first time to sing a hymn two young girls opposite me suddenly whispered to each other, it was clear it was me and the woman in front of me on my side of the Choir turned to look and smiled. That was it for the duration of the day, no other stares or obvious recognition from my point of view. Many after the service and during the eats afterwards would talk to me, many people I had not seen for several years and no one asked, queried, just simply talked about the day, what I had been up to in the latter years etc. Even the parents of the husband of my Niece talked to me openly and warmly with no question and I had never met them before.

I do not doubt that some would have private thoughts or comments, don't we all, I do and I discuss this in my May 2013 blog on my site

The Blessing was a good day, as too my meet with my elder brother the previous day with his wife, one of his daughters and her husband in the town of Beverley.

At all these events life was normal and everybody simple got on with whatever they wanted or needed to do and why shouldn't they. I do not have photos to go on my web site. I thought it inappropriate for the funeral and the Blessing photos are private family ones.

Staying at one of our friends for the weekend of the Blessing on the East Coast my wife and I took a morning stroll along the coast. There is a photo in the gallery on my site. We passed via the edge of a static caravan park and passed several people. We got talking to two women who enquired about me and skirts. They were fine, asked because it was not an everyday event for them, but complimented me on my stand, understood and wished me all the best.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Man in a Skirt in France May 2013 - Skirted 24/7

Since my last blog my wife and I decided to take a last minute booking and have a week in France. One of our many advantages now my wife has retired and I'm self employed. Not a package holiday, but a cheap flight to France, booked a Gite direct, hired a car and had a good time.

We did this last September, to France but a different location. Both times I'm skirted 24/7 from leaving home to returning. That includes the usual like refueling the car if need be, and on our return grocery shopping and a bar meal. I'm skirted at airports, check in, security control. I do not have a pair of trousers with me!

I have no problems at all, yes the odd stare from a few individuals of Society, but nothing direct until I got back to good old England. More on that shortly. This brings me to a new blog I have posted today onto my web site It is entitled Do I Think the Majority of Society Accept a Man in a Skirt. You can find it on the left hand side part way down, either under the month of May 2013 or in the list of blogs.

We were in the Department of Lot and we were active all the days of the week seeing the locality and covering most of Lot and the bottom edge of Correze. Even the one wet day of the week! We did do a 3 hour journey crossing the Western side of the Massive Central to visit the Millau Bridge, the worlds highest vehicular road way at around 2400 ft above sea level standing on concrete piers just over 800 ft tall (245 m). We were there for 4.5 hours and still did not cover all exhibitions and view points. It was a brill day, the highlight of the week for the both of us.

Filling up with fuel in France, grocery shopping, cafes and being a tourist was better than at home in the UK in that we both noticed we had fewer stares. We still got the odd one, but again 99.9999% just carry on. I would say more talk to us/me when in queues and that included the airport, more so in France I have to say.

I passed Gendarmes, Airport Security and even got body searched in France when the scanner went off on our return flight at Limoges Airport. I am sure these scanners must do a random alert because apart from my wrist watch I had no metal on me and I certainly do not have pins and plates for broken bones. When the scanner went off it was quite interesting as there were two officials watching, one male one female. Immediately the female made an approach towards me, obviously the skirt made her brain in a split second react but soon realised I was a man, turned and asked her male colleague. He treated me just like any other person, a quick pat on the body, never made any remark or stupid moves, very professional. I have to say although I do not like flying and get a bit apprehensive on airport security I have always found the officials very helpful and professional.

I'll not detail our events of the week and I have placed 6 new photos on my site under the Gallery, the section skirted in public to prove I have done what I am saying.

We never pre-inform people that I am a man in a skirt and this applies to the Gite owners. Last September the owners were perfectly fine, showing no visual concerns or unease. They chatted and talked to us both on a daily basis. It was the same this time in Lot. The lady owner treated us as she did anyone else from the start. I do at times wonder if many of the silent members of the public have a negative comment or laugh in private after the event. They may do, but on many occasion I get confirmation that they don't, because very few actually ask me why I wear skirts or clothing that Society deems as womens wear and in many a general conversation will quite often say, what is the problem, especially these days when we are supposed to be tolerant and gender non-biased.

On the Monday (20th May), we were returning late afternoon and came in via Rocamadour. It was the French Bank Holiday so it was busy even at 5 pm. I had a photo taken but we decided we would come back later in the week if time allowed. We did, the Friday morning. Rocamadour was still busy but not as. We got their around 9 am, and left at around 1.30 pm. By 10 am the narrow streets and buildings were quite busy. To be honest I had on balance the most concentration of stares during the week as people passed but no one said anything. Some of the French shopkeepers were very chatty especially the Chocolate Retailer. Now that is a shop worth returning to at the beginning of the week. Absolutely amazing especially the raspberry and dark chocolate that we tasted. Although France is a secular society and has embraced Homosexuality as far back as 1791 - it was the first country in the world to acknowledge this legally - it is still a Catholic based country. Rocamadour is a Holy City of more than a thousand years and has 7 sanctuaries from the days when it was a site for thousands of pilgrims of bygone days. It still does hold daily services for those who are practicing Christians. I thought I may be asked not to enter the chapels especially when a sign said please observe the dress code. I was prepared to argue with any official if need be. As you will see from the photo on my gallery standing on the steps to the entrance to the sanctuaries although not in Societies deemed male attire I am decently dressed. Also, 99.99% of the women there were in trousers so my soap box was on the ready. I was never asked by any official to leave.

So what was the encounter I had once back in England. Landing at East Midlands at 4, we had a good 2.5 hour journey ahead of us as well as grocery shopping so we decided to stop off at one of our favourite eating places near Harrogate. We do go there periodically. The odd brief stare but this time we were placed on a table next to one who had four people on it. As the evening progressed we knew it was Parents, daughter and a new boyfriend because of the questions directed at him, including status questions like, "so what car do your parents drive". Anyhow, as I walked past I heard the boyfriend say that mans got a skirt on followed by a huge and obvious laugh from a female. Immediately turning the daughter was giggling away at me and I was obviously a form of amusement to them. Sitting down within feet of them I make a reference to it to my wife, slightly louder than normal and my wife asks me to lower my voice and ignore them. I don't, speaking louder to my wife but making sure they can hear, why should I keep quiet. They have just made a public remark about me and therefore as it was not private I am entitled to reply. I have already noted that the woman is a typical modern female, jeans etc, and by her laugh it's OK for her to change tradition and embrace male style clothes but restrict a man. It went quiet for a few moments and I carry on as normal as though nothing had happened and they returned to grilling the boyfriend. The Mother was also in trousers. I moved very shortly to sit next to my wife as the table had a 'see-saw' type movement due to the floor and sitting on one side stopped that. This also meant that I had direct face to face contact with the mother and daughter. The mother caught my eye and looked sternly at me, so I stared her out, making her to look away first. Later the daughter caught my eye, if looks could kill. At the table on the other side of us was a family of three, including a teenage daughter. The complete opposite. The mother acknowledge me as I sat down, the father had the occasional discreet look. They were a very quiet family and as they got up to leave, the mother once in the main walk way area, turned and gave me a polite nod. I have to say she was in jeans too, not that that matters in a world of gender equality and freedom of choice for all that I say men should have as well as women but I did wonder if she had also taken on board my initial comment which was not directed at her.

So for all would be skirted men, from these blogs, if you have any concerns about going out in public, then don't. Have confidence, believe in yourself and be an individual.

We have in this last week received two invitations to friends events. One a 60th and the other a Pearl wedding. They both know and have been in public with me skirted and they also know I will be going skirted. Many, perhaps all, of their guests don't know but it still has not stopped them inviting both my wife and I to a public venue. I'll let you know as and when these happen.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Man in a Skirt -

Another month passes by. How quickly time flies and it is quite frightening really. Best not think about it!

I said in my last blog it may be a few weeks before I appear again. Sorting out my website Joomla upgrade was a problem. It offered to upgrade from 2.59 to 3.0.3 but when I tried it said the php on my server was to old! A few emails with my web host provider could not solve problem and they do not offer Joomla support. I already obtained the domain ready for when my wife and I relocate to France. Our house has not sold and in this area the market has more than dropped off the cliff edge. At least we have no pressures to move, simply a desire to change our lives now that my wife has retired and my self employment is movable.

Anyhow, back to the php problem. I could do a fresh Joomla 3.0.3 on the new domain so that was done and decided to move my entire site over and restructure it. The database on the 2.59 version is not compatible with the 3.0.3 version. It needed a rebuild and copy and pasting. Many hours later it is up and running. That was completed at the end of April. I have today made a start on the new structure of my domain. Both are connected via links but the libminded domain is about what is normal and quotes I have come across that I find interesting. This will be added to as time goes by.

What else has been going on. Summer had arrived, and hit a high of 24 degrees for us 6th/7th May. However this week turned wet, cold and windy, hitting 70 mph on Thursday taking down our for sale sign. That's been rectified but tonight the forecasters are hinting snow on the hills of Northern England! By Wednesday temperature could be as low as 6 degrees centigrade during the day.

Since my last blog my seasonal self employment of garden maintenance is in full flow but this last week will have slowed them down. Myself and my wife have also been getting on with some outside jobs on the house that we couldn't do over the Winter. Gate repairs and repainting, fence repainting, tidying and giving the garden a boost. With the house being built into the hillside we do not have a lot of land to the rear. That side is also north facing. Many years ago the previous owner had it dug out so the 10 ft width is stepped with a 2 meter retaining wall. We were going to block and beam this to make one area spanning the retaining wall to the house. On top of the retaining wall the house is like a single level so even on the shortest day of the year we get sun at that point. Our plan was to place a 2 m high green house and 5m long and 1.5 m wide but as we have decided to sell this will not be done. So now that 'summer' has arrived we are tidying this area up. Kerb edging has been placed on the concrete top area and back filled with limestone chippings. As to the area at the foot of the retaining wall. The 2 m block boundary wall has one coat of white masonary paint on but the weather this week has prevented the second coat and even starting to paint the retaining wall. Even so, it looks dramatically different especially as we have 6 large pots their with established plants in. Where the retaining wall wraps around the house, it was covered when the steel shed was put up a few years back. This left a whole about 1 m wide and 1.5m high. I use to prop up a piece of ply here to stop animals nesting. Yesterday this has been sealed much more sensibly and tidy to the eye. We just need some good weather not only for my garden business but to get the masonary paint finished.

My other job outside I would like to get done is to complete the pointing of the West Gable. This will take me about 4 days to do but I need scaffolding so I can only do this once other jobs are finished so I can concentrate on it and my garden business. I'll probably wait until June now. Then we shall put the house on hold. The Estate Agents are convinced ours will go by the end of the summer due to its location and commanding views within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We are not so sure, so despite the agents telling us to sell the house with the 2 bed attached barn annex at first fix, we will finish the Barn Annex. They say selling as it is although it has dropped the asking price of the house allows buyers to personalise to how they want rather than undo what is there and then personalise. We have decided that if not sold by 1st October 2013, we'll take the house off the market, complete to our specification, but it back on April 2014, obviously revalued to reflect a finished job and then in the mean time run the barn annex as a Bed and Breakfast, and yes if we do get to that point I will be skirted as a B&B proprietor.

As for my recent public skirting activities, this has been busy. My wife's long standing friend has terminal cancer and 4 weeks ago all treatment was abandoned and now in a hospice. She is still very positive and talks about life and often inquiries about my skirting activities. So visiting has entailed in return home via a pub for an evening meal. Last week when we entered a woman sat by the window saw me arrive and literally stood up, pointing and you could see her eyes popping out of her head. Her husband turned to look as well. So I stopped to allow her a better look and moved my body to indicate 'so what'. this type of reaction doesn't happen to often, in fact it is quite rare as to the odd giggle. these are significantly out numbered by the positive comments and gestures I receive. Still 99.9% of the public just ignore me or talk as we all wait. What they think privately I don't know but don't we all have private thoughts on something we think is different or do not agree with.

Had a day in the Lake District incorporating a visit to Hayes Garden Centre in Ambleside. Needed a few plants to replace some lost over the last Winter but also to fill in holes as we have put some plants into pots, to brighten up he back courtyard of the house. I was skirted. No problems, in fact talked to to women whilst in the checkout queue.

Weekly, shopping, walking the dogs down the country lane from our house when the roads are dry etc. Went to the Metro Centre in Newcastle last Thursday. Not the first time skirted but no problem. However, whilst my wife and I were in the children's department - looking for an item for our niece - in the same isle was a woman and her child. We both heard the woman say to her child "Thomas, stop looking at girls clothing, you are a boy not a girl". I turned to look and thought, one, what else can he look at at that point in time, two, so what if he was and three, the mother was in a T-Shirt, jeans and trainers all items of clothing originally designed for men in the USA at the onset of the oil industry. The child was aged about 7 years old. We both carried on looking for our item, I smiled to myself and we both remarked about it later on. The other point here is that women do not like gender barriers being placed in their direction. Why should gender barriers for men apply?

I find the retail staff quite talkative especially when I walk up with a new skirt, top or cardigan. Our weekly shop is always skirted at a supermarket, likewise refilling the car at petrol stations and going out and about with friends. To me, my wife and our friends it is no different to the modern woman who these days embraces male style clothing on a routine basis for almost all aspects of their lives, unlike pre-1990's. Ubuntu philosophy. I am because you are. This is now on the front page of my web site. I have put a couple of new links on it as well.

My wife and I went to a pub not to far from home for an evening meal, and I was skirted. Been here on numerous occasions skirted, apart from the occasional brief stare and a few seconds of private talk between one or two people nothing happens. On this particular occasion nothing happened again except upon my arrival. a wom,an and a man were sat next to a large floor to ceiling window. She was facing, he wasn't. As soon as she saw me, she stood up, pointed and put her other hand to her mouth. The man turned round for a few seconds then turned back. She remained standing. Noting this I stood still, and made a body movement basically indicating, so what. When we got inside this woman was in a T-Shirt, jean like trousers and trainers. Need I say more if I'm supposed to remain traditionally dressed.

The new style of my site about men in skirts is at My photo gallery is restructured and I now have 5 categories covering myself skirted in public, but also other aspects of my life in trousers! just to indicate I am no different to any one else. To try and establish that it is not a fetish or sexual as some claim about men who want to be individuals and wear skirts or embrace a traditional womanswear wardrobe but never applied to women who now have 'anywear'. Also Psychiatrists class men who want to wear skirts as disfunctional, but never a woman who wants to trousers. Just many of the hypocritical statements within the intelligent human life.

Next time I write a blog here I hopefully will have something very interesting to talk about being skirted in public. In fact over the summer months there are one or two very interesting skirted events in public for me coming up. I'll save these for later.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Man in a Skirt - Spring Has Arrived in North Yorkshire UK - For Our Location that is

On the 11th April Spring arrived for us at our location. Although the UK in March and into April endured an unseasonable cold snap with vary amounts of snow, areas near sea level experienced higher temperatures earlier than we did. At 1100 ft above sea level on top of a hill within the Yorkshire Dales that shouldn't be too much of a surprise. However, with regards snow, although we may get more general covering of snow, disruptive snow 99% of times usual mean the wider area is also affected and that was so this season.

The previous week on our weekly food shop at a location very near sea level we experienced temperatures of 8 degrees. That's not much I here some say, but back with us the temperature was 3 degrees before the wind chill was added. Early April that is below the expected average. Despite the temperature at home this public excursion was in a skirt, but on cold winter days I will put tights on! since the 11th when we at home on top of this hill have reached double digit figures for temperature these tights are banished to the draw, hopefully until Winter 2013-14.

This last fortnight has seen me in varying public locations and once again no problem. The odd look and a couple of smirks followed with finger tapping on the mobile but that's all and yes these were all women. Men tend to just look to verify that their eye sight is OK even men that give an appearance of being very hard and intolerant, though they may not be especially letting me pass by without a word, nod or smirk. I tend to find if someone wants to have a little giggle or an obvious stare it is usually women. I find that interesting bearing in mind that women, certainly since the Eighties, have pushed for equality, women's rights, freedom etc and not being  labelled or have expectations placed upon them by Society.

Over this last fortnight my wife has been in Hospital twice. Firstly for a pre-op assessment followed by the minor, out patients surgery the following week. Both times at the hospital I was skirted. The first visit was fairly brief, didn't notice any thing about me being in a skirt. The second visit I was in the Out Patients waiting room for just over 8 hours. This included a wander around the hospital 4 hours into the event to stretch my legs, obtaining some lunch and a short period in the car park so I could listen to BBC Radio 2, Jeremy Vine between Noon and 2 whilst I had my lunch in the car. I didn't see my wife from just before 8am through to just gone 4pm. In the waiting room only two women gave a smirk as they looked at me and hit their mobiles. Whilst in the waiting room, I read my Kindle, a particularly interesting book, which reminds me I have not actioned my other blog on books that I have read. Anyhow, the waiting room had an interesting pattern of movement. It had three specific cycles during the day, initially operations, followed with minor ops and pre-op assessments with other matters like hearing etc. The room would have minimal occupants initially, steadily filling to full capacity at which stage all aspects were being covered then it would go very quiet, like only me in before the whole process started again. The staff must have long hours. Not sure about shift work behind the scenes, but the staff on the front desk were there until closing at 6pm but we arrived at 7.40 am and they were their then. The other stare was from another woman as I traversed the hospital corridors. All three were not in the slightest traditional stereotypical female appearance including dress, unless you want to count history as only spanning the last 15 years!

Obviously our weekly food shops were skirted, no problem and the weekend 6th/7th was with a friend. As usual skirted all the time, including dog walking around the village. We have never had trouble in that area when we go and many villagers wave at us as they pass even though many we have never been able to talk to, but familiarity obviously puts us in the community. Even a local farmer waves. Others as we pass close by will have a banter and all this with a man in a skirt! The location is rural. Over the weekend we had the need to go to Boundary Mills in Colne, no problem, the odd stare, lunch in the cafe and Sainsbury afterwards to obtain forgotten items such as wine. Went to a particular filling station so we could collect our points. On the outskirts of Burnley and here I had more stares than not but hey, "I am because you are". A new quotation that I have placed on the front page of my web site, quoting Archbishop Desmund Tutu with the philosophy of Ubuntu.

Those are my main skirted excursions, minor ones like walking the dogs down our local road a couple of times to name but one took place whilst skirted.

Had another viewing on the house, which is not bad since Winter only disappeared 4 days earlier and our one month of activity back in January ceased until this recent viewing due to the weather in February/March. This was good to note as in early March we decided to tell the Estate Agents that were were not happy with £300K to £325K price range they preferred as it in our view made viewers look at £300K or less when we are not moving under £325K. We don't have to move, it is our choice as we both enter a period of retirement for my wife and semi retirement for me. This is why we are looking at a move to France, but that can happen as and when. Making this price change made a viewer make an offer subsequently, even though it had been several weeks since they viewed, in fact January. The offer of £45K below the £325K was obviously turned down. We have also asked the Agents not to make a viewing appointment unless the viewers are in a position to buy should they like our property. In January we had 7 viewers but 5 had houses to sell which is no good. It is amazing how much time is lost in getting the house 'tidy' beforehand and also appointments tend to be in the afternoon and that makes the rest of the afternoon useless for anything significant. This and the price alteration will thin out the number of viewers.

My garden season is now upon me, in fact since we have had a dramatic change in temperature I think they will start to grow quite soon. I now have a lot on. One garden needs a full cut back, the weather last back end prevented me achieving this. That gets priority, but also a large walled garden for land owners needs a general tidying to reflect the image they need to portray and that is high on the list including getting out three benches that have been hibinating in their garage over Winter. I doubt regular maintenance will kick in before the end of April. Most of my clients know of my skirt wearing, those where the business arrangements merge with social chat and active socialising with no problem. Why don't the others know, quite simply because in day to day living I just get on with it so discussion, if it is required, only happens as and when, if needed. I have told all good friends, and acquaintances as and when out of courtesy really because having seen me for years in trousers, or even entering our social arena to suddenly turn up in a skirt, I feel needs introducing. Public is different because they are not friends/acquaintances really or at least not in the first instance.

Now that the temperature has risen, our large 18 foot by 6 foot porch needs to be finished. Currently at first fix. This porch is not heated so to work in it during March/April was beyond the call of duty. My builder friend laughed when I said this but as I told him, my building work/DIY is for fun and enjoyment. The professionals get paid for working in bad weather or in the case of our porch recently - a fridge. We do need to get this done. Since putting the house on the market ready for the 2013 season we got the barn annex to first fix  and decorated the whole house. The porch took a side line, although the materials are here. So with this, pre-season garden work the next fortnight is going to be busy and my skirt wearing opportunities out and about limited. Obviously at home in the evenings is different.

Talking about skirts, my site may be taken down for a day or so in the not to distant future. My Joomla components will not upgrade as Joomla says my web hosting is 5.2. In fact it is the latest php version for web hosting. Joomla seems to have got itself confused. I may need to delete and re-install so I am trying to find out how to import and export via the sql databases. Doing things like this is how I know about building my own computers, extensive DIY at home including  building work, electrics and plumbing etc. Now it is web sites, php and sql data bases and remember some out their think blokes like me are queers or odd because we weqar a skirt. You would thin the same philosophy would apply to women in trousers. I think it calls for Desmund Tutu again - "I am because you are".

Just bare with my site if it disappears, it is only temporary.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Man in a Skirt - Two Months Later

Two Months since I last posted. Been very busy.

My wife and I completed the barn as previously mentioned to first fix now at plumbing, electrics and plastering stage. Then in early March we dismantled our study. Two huge purpose built desks (by us) dominated the room and we realised viewers that looked at the house never really walked in to that room. This made us decorate it. Although good move, it was also a bad move. We then decorated our bedroom, the hallway/landing, bathroom, kitchen and dining room. February was dominated by barn and day to day living, March was dominated with decorating and day to day living. Amongst this we noticed on searching for our house it didn't come up on 4 bedroom search, only two. We called an appointment with the Agent to discuss and other aspects. They said the house only had two bedrooms, the other two were in the barn annex therefore legally not allowed to list as 4 bedrooms. Interesting. We pointed out their brochure refers to four bedrooms, describes four bedrooms, grantedly two to be finished but nether the less bedrooms. Their own website stated number of bedrooms 4 etc. The meeting was amicable, especially as the previous week we insisted that they removed the price range £300K to £325K as the seven viewers in January all talked at £300K. This was changed to £325K a price we feel more comfortable with. At the end of the day Estate Agents want a sale to earn profit, buyers want a cheap house and the seller is left holding the baby as they say. We do not have to move, we are doing so by choice. My wife has recently retired, I'm semi retired and my self employment work can move with us so why give the house away! This took place in the latter part of March and subsequently we had an offer from one who came in January, 4 visits one with a builder and offered £45,000 below the price. They were told no.

On top of this we had a few inches of snow in February, but March was something different. Very cold to start off with with a cold easterly wind. At 1100ft on top of a hill we catch easterlies, westerlies, southerlies and northerlies but the easterlies, they are cold. The fire, log and coal, heats the whole house and water, and comfortably hits 21/22 degrees in the house. In March we struggled to reach 18 and we even moved one of the dogs to a warmer place in the lounge! -16 degrees wind chill was muted for us but in early March the air temperature was hitting -6 and only this last week has the day time temperature gone to 4, 5 or 6 degrees. But it was the snow. Over 22nd/23rd March a foot fell, with strong winds. It snowed Friday afternoon and most of Saturday. On Sunday we went out. 2 feet on the drive, 4 feet by the gate to the garage/shed and the garage shed door was half covered. That faced west, when the snow/wind came from the east. The snow drifts on the east side of the shed hit 4 feet, and throughout the day the wind kept blowing. The single track road and Council maintained passing our house held and kept open to 4WD vehicles until Sunday late afternoon. It became blocked just below the house with 4 feet drifts and for the next three quarters of a mile had numerous drifts one reaching 6 feet. Time to call the Council. All Sunday we dug out the drive, shed entrance back and front, around the house etc. The council were telephoned at 9 am Monday morning and although the whole of the Yorkshire Dales National Park within North Yorkshire had heavy snow, we were dug out by snow blower by 2 pm the same day. The Council got a congratulatory complimentary phone call, bearing in mind only three houses were affected by our blocked road.

All that week we had to continually dig out out the moor gate on the road below our house due to drifting snow from the fields. At this point the road is very narrow by two high field walls and the road dips. This was done twice a day, so as not to leave it and create a huge problem. The Council were good to come promptly but we knew they wouldn't come so quickly again that week due to our wide area required for attention by the Council. England's highest pub some 12 miles to the north of us was blocked in till much later that week and we heard a road out of our area heading north east had a ploughed track through snow drifts of 20 feet! The rest of our road for us was kept at bay by being much wider and our Land Rover Defender loves driving through snow so long as it does not exceed 2 feet high. I have driven it through such snow in previous years. I don't mind this as if the car slides on our road you go no where as it has wide grass verges, field walls and no steep drops unlike some Dales roads. It was not until Thursday pm that tarmac was started to be seen and ever since we have had a steady thaw, very slowly since the day time air temperatures got to 4 degrees. It kept us fit constantly clearing blown snow each morning better than paying to go to a gym. Our road was blocked for less than 24 hours, passable by 4WD thereafter and open to standard drive cars from the Friday.

All in all not much time for public skirt wearing, only at home when not in the barn, decorating or doing chores where skirts not practical. The weekly shop was basically it until last week. Went to Northallerton to get materials to finish our porch currently at first fix or what the Estate Agents call sun room. They say there is no need to finish as what ever we do it will be undone by new owners but we feel first impressions count as it is the first room. It also completes the Farmhouse part leaving only the Barn annex at first fix. Northallerton included lunch out, grocery shopping and trailing round tile centres and DIY stores. This last weekend we met a friend at a pub in Harrogate again I was skirted and again no problems. The odd glance as you pass by a few, after all it is different. In Sainburys in Northallerton a young girl, around 18 thought I was highly amusing and discreetly took a photo of me, well not too discreetly as I knew and saw the flash. She laughed and ran around the shop beside herself. Needless to say she was in chunky boots, jeans, hooded top with large writing on, not really traditional dress for women if as a man she obviously expected me to be in traditional male attire. Anyhow I obviously made her day. It still didn't get me on UTube or Twitter!

Today, 2nd April I have put two Blogs on my main site, the first since September, 2012.

Over the weekend I opened a Twitter account under @TheSkirtedMan. I'm not going to be a regular tweeter but I have put three about Men in Skirts and replied to one on the BBC News account about UK  Christians being marginalised. I don't intend tweeting like some do about going on holiday, a birthday party or the fact we have snow but if I feel I have a point to say or one to reply to I will post a tweet.

Stopping to sign off. May start the porch/sun room tomorrow, other events are pencilled in the diary and the weather forecasters say we could hit 8 degrees by the weekend as warmer but wet weather from the west reasserts itself, and into next week will be at average double digit temperatures. That means my clients gardens will come to life and in a few weeks time the 2013 Garden season will be upon me. I don't wear skirts gardening, get far too dirty trailing when bending down, although they would be far more comfortable in the hotter days to come.