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.