Saturday, 18 August 2018

Yet Another Period of Silence by The Skirted Man

March 2018. That surprised me when I logged on to here today (18th August). One month shorter than the last large gap! Had planned to do one at least fortnightly but time is short, busy and flies by.

Since March done many fell walks in Lake District, North Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors. Last week 6 days in Scotland. Scotland I was trouser based for walking, not for other activities there, then skirted. The other fell walks has been a mixture of 4 different walking clubs or on our own. Most of our own walks I was skirted, the settled weather lent it self for that. I do not do club walks in a skirt. One or two photos have appeared on my Twitter account.

In Scotland only managed to get one high fell walk in due to weather. Day of travel and next day were good, so day 2 we got in Ben Lomond via Ptarmigan Ridge.
The next two days wet and very low cloud, so visited historic houses like Scone Palace, but on day 4 when we planned our 3rd high walk went to Edinburgh first thing to see Hopetoun and The House of the Binns and even the tops of the 3 Firth of Forth bridges were in cloud. Day 5 we did 12 miles from
the hotel taken in Arthurs Seat and its surrounding lower summits and visiting Gladstone's Land on the way back. Shower day and a little concerned for the evening and the prebooked Edinburgh Tattoo but it was a very calm dry and warm evening. Day 6, travel home but went to see The Georgian House first. Apart from the two fell walks I was otherwise skirted.

Also had 5 days in Cambridge and surrounding area in May. That week was a tourist week, where we chill out and not do what is standard for us. Visited numerous historic houses, Anglesey Abbey, Walpole Estate, Audersley End House, Ickworth and other places like Ely and Cathedral along with Bury St Edmunds. Skirted the entire week, all times including Ely Cathedral tower. Caulke Abbey as we returned.

Had two days in Northumberland in June meeting friends who were holidaying their so climbed The Cheviot and 8 miles in temperatures of around 28 degrees. Even at 5 pm the car was showing 25. Next day Holy Island for the friends which was very good. See fret in the morning created great shadows and erie effect around the buildings with weak sunlight but the
tide came in for 1 and was not to go out until 6.30. We were on the island by 10.30 with hundreds of people. By 1 pm it was deserted, including the cafes only a handful or so of tourists left so the castle and walk around the island was even better for us. Weather by early afternnon weas blue sky and sunshine. Back at the car park for about 5pm, if 10 cars were there that was it so we hit a beer garden for the next hour or so waiting for the tide to go out. I was skirted all the time. Had a walking skirt on for The Cheviot and a non fell walking skirt for Holy Island. Evenings, skirted.

Any hassle on our 3 holiday excursions whilst skirted was no different to ususal. Most carry on, many intereact in conversation, a few momentary stares, and a few who make it known they find it amusing. One or two very obvious rebukes, like tossing of head backs and tutting but they only happened in places I tend to expect, religious buildings and one or two National Trust properties and not by visitors, actual representatives. I always get at National Trust properties some element of negativity from one or two of its representatives, mostly nudging each other and pointing, or you can tell by their body language and peeping around door ways or obsticles between us both with the occassional smirks. At two properties two volunteers refused to speak to me, one in 2017 and one in 2016 when I approached so on the second occassion I complained and on the day I was allowed to speak to senior management. That was in 2017. This year on our way back from Cambridge whilst at Caulke Abbey,
two NT officials made it very obvious of negative chatter of me as I passed but even though I turned it was denied. I made a formal representation to head office on this one as they were Confestival attendees and the National Trust Confestival is where the NT promotes its diversity and inclusion policy that it publicly promotes. 99% of the time at NT properties it is just body language from one or two officials but most of its officials are absolutely fine. I have recently brought this to Head Offcie attention again as an item of concern rather than complaint because I can go to historic house association
properties and have not a tweak out of any official representative and will intereact professionally. Same in Scotland even the National Trust for Scotland yet these do not trumpet publicly as intensely as The National Trust does about diversity and inclusion so I tend to make the occassional noise in their direction. Most religious representtives are fine, even the volunteers but yes a minority will make body language and gestures to know that they disapprove. At Ely Cathedral one volunteer tossed her head back and tutted which then generated other response from her tour group. Our tour group were fine and our guide and he replied, ignore her she is very set in her ways and tuts and most things. Coach parties are another area where one or two smirk, point etc and that is because they have an audience with them of fellow travellers so it can trigger a small chain reaction. It happens at the Hall I volunteer at with coach parties. Most go by, talk to you, but one will find it amusing and tas or nudges their companion or friend  who does the same. as always as soon as they know you know they stop and quickly turn to carry on as was. They never have the courage to say it to you. With my volunteering I usually have the last laugh as often those who have that negativity often have to speak to me as quite often a question is asked that my team feel I am more suited to answer. aslo the team note it at times themselves and will ask me to reply. Very rarely a visitor to our Hall will question me to one of my colleagues and get quite a suprise when my colleague ask them what is the problem but the best is with my wife. Elsewhere in the Hall she can get asked or if we are slightly separated as visitors elsewhere she will over hear a third party pass a private comment and her stock reply is, excuse, thats my husband you are talking about. Then watch them squirm or try to explain they were not actually saying it. Typical human nature.

I will stress any mild negativity is a small minority and nobody to date has ever challenged me directly to my face but if an offical is clearly unprofessional then I do say something officially but that has only been 5 times since 2011, four NT and one English Heritage.

Had one or two meals out when not on holiday, as usual all OK, a few minor glances but nothing to get uperty about, theater, seen Black Dyke Brass Band at both a theater and Cathedral. Our summer music society is as always, some people chat, some don't but then that happens in all walks of life.

No DIY done at home. We have had a very good summer here in the UK. Cold long winter, Spring came in April very warm followed by a breif spell of snow again but by end of April we started on what was to be a long dry and hot spell. It finally broke in early August and this last week been fairly wet. So we have made the most of it.

I continue my tweets promoting men in skirts as and where and I also actively promote it in real life. Any would be men in skirts reading this I do strongly recommned to do so. I mention the small minority of idiots because that is life. You get idiots in other aspects of your life for other reasons. It is a small minority and the reason why I make more of an issue with the National Trust is purely because as a  vounteer for them I know their internal ethos and they also push out into the public arena their support of diversity and inclusion. Remember, except for most fell walking, DIY and gardening I am skirted at all other times, including, doctors, hospitals, dentists even car purchase, service and repair. The more men who do this the more "normal" it becomes, that is how society judges "normal". Most humans cannot see beyond their own nose end and everything is what they want or expect not for others so stand your ground and be yourself.

Very shortly I am doing 2 weeks Jury Service which I am not looking forward too. I hear to many times you sit around and don't get called up. Sitting around for me is something I do not do. Will I be skirted, well I am going to make a few calls with officials, not on that aspect but for layout, parking etc. You hear of instances when Jury memebers are approached by outsiders and seeing me in a skirt in court makes me an obvious recogniseable target so I am at the moment going to er on the side of caution and blend in rather than appear to make a statement. Will let you know if I do go skirted.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Skirted Man - Another Period of Silence but Still Active

Once again time flies by and another 7 month gap.

Again very busy and doing a blog does not rank to high in such situations.

I refrained from any DIY - amateur builder really - until December 2017. Noting the Consultant said avoiding any such physical activity for a year would help internal recovery. I have to say he is right as in my full and active life of including DIY I am not aware of any internal twinges. Talking about Bowel Cancer, I had my anniversary CT Scan and Colonoscopy. Both were clear. On the Colonoscopy the Doctor said my Bowel was in excellent condition for my age. I asked "my age" laughing and added it wasn't last year! As with the Professor who did my Colonoscopy in 2016 both had a very good sense of humour and light hearted banter during the process whilst watching on the large screen. I did ask him where the join was when he reached my stomach outlet and his reply was, I didn't see it either, lets pay better attention on our way down. We didn't even see it then.

Since July 2017 (my last blog) and December 2017 I continued much as stated in there. Gardens occupied me 2 days one week, one day the next. My National Trust volunteering continued, yes as a man in a skirt, and our walking took primary place. Took part with two Ramblers clubs, as at March 2018 we now mix and match 4 Ramblers clubs, went off and did our own personal walks as we tend to prefer slightly longer than the average club walk of 10 miles and prefer much more mountainous/hilly scenery. In September we had 5 days in Snowdonia and in October 4 days on the western side of the Lake District. Our walking in 2017 except Wales has been Northern England based. This photo is Tryfan, north side of Glyder Fach, Snowdonia

I have had two more radio sessions since my last blog, one specifically about men in skirts the other when a local station gave our National Trust Hall a few minutes air time when they had a volunteer recruitment day. I was one of 4 volunteers asked to talk and mine at NT request covered diversity. Both these radio interviews can be found on my web site under the section TheSkirtedMan - Radio & Promotions.

Last summer I was accepted to take part in an event to take place in October and called Sitters and Their Stories based at Beningbrough Hall. Again a specific page has been created on my web site - Sitters and Their Stories.

All this plus our social activities of seeing friends including at times with friends, a monthly concert, occasional dining out etc. This has included recently seeing Levison Wood, the adventurer who has appeared on Channel 4 Documentaries Walking the Nile, Walking the Himalyas, Walking Central America etc. Ripon International Festival was again attended, partaking in 5 what we thought were very interesting performers, one of which was Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers. As always all my activities unless not practical to do so are in skirts and other clothing that society labels as womens wear only, yet any wear when it comes to women. Other concerts and live speaker presentations are on the agenda for later this year.

Gardens were still active until late November. In fact two lawns needed to be cut in my last scheduled week of gardening, something I have not done before, yet the following week wintry weather showed its head. Mildly initially but since January more than our usual dosage.
The recent snowy weather from the East in the first week of March 2018 caught us quite badly but I don't think as bad as some other parts of the UK. I posted a few pictures and tweets on my Twitter account. As with other regions, this snowy period has eased off and started to melt but still plenty of the white stuff lying around off the roads. There has been a fair bit of digging out as well.
My Twitter has been semi active, but since the start of January 2018 I have had periods away simply due to time and quite frankly tiredness in the evening. I limit my number of whom I follow simply due to the time line being inundated in tweets and I find it quite difficult even now to scan the time line. I tend to glance and move on only looking closely at ones that interest me. Some times I have 3 or 4 days to go over and I still have 3 or 4 searchers eg man in a skirt. Recently absent from Twitter for 14 days so didn't even try to cover that period.

DIY. As I said that started in December 2017 after a full 12 months off.
It didn't take long to settle back in and the main problem initially was trying to forget what should have been done and what I should be doing now. I simply had to mentally block out the missing previous winter DIY that was not done. DIY is like hill walking for me. It is a form of drug. It drives me, inspires me and pushes me to see and do more. There is a gene that has sub genes off it that apparently defines our characteristics and I am currently trying to research that more and have a rough draft on my web site awaiting finalising. I get a buzz out of serious builders DIY and hill walking even if others don't.

Currently I am finalising the multi foil insulation I have mentioned in an earlier blog within the house. The two locations to finish were our bedroom and front porch. The bedroom has been done and the porch started. The bedroom took far longer than planned mainly due to other activities in our lives like walking, social etc. National Trust meetings since January for volunteers and also my role as Day Coordinator. Snow has not helped either.
The bedroom was radically restructured as well. The front wall highly insulated like other rooms taking it back to stone, repointing, creating two 25mm cavities topped with 25mm insulated plaster board. the 1 cm thick multi foil insulation is the equivalent of 200mm rock wool. This extra wall thickness needed to be compensated for. All the electrical sockets when our house was restored by the previous owners were in the wrong place and covered by any piece of bedroom furniture. For years we have lived with extension leads. All this was remedied with the inclusion of computer network sockets as well. In the main house WiFi is acceptable but moving into the the two attached barn conversions the thick stone walls knock the WiFi out. I have tried this WiFi connectors that use the mains house cable but became frustrated with those.
Running net work sockets allows me to plug in dedicated room WiFi adaptors and are more efficient as they use specific and dedicated network cabling. This is ideal when restoring and restructuring so I have taken the opportunity. Also direct hard wire network connections do provide a faster speed than WiFi so items like TV and recording boxes are hard wired for network, leaving tablets to WiFi. All this computer networking, joining multi core cabling to RJ45 sockets to a central communications cabinet with multi gang port switch to a router is self taught.

A new ceiling has been put up as the professionals the previous owner had in did not use scrim cloth. Therefore with standard expansion and contraction, cracks where plaster boards butted up to each other have formed and the old method of nailing plaster board, one or two nail heads were pushing back through. All now remedied so the opportunity to take down the one drop ceiling light has been replaced with recessed low energy LED lights.
The old airing cupboard has been taken out. Earlier blogs will have mentioned our installation of Air Source heating taking opportunity of the UK Government RHI scheme. We make the initial outlay but over the following 7 years were get it back, plus a little more via quarterly instalments. That and the fact it has reduced our heating costs from electric, coal and logs by 75% is another positive factor. This and the level of insulation, even with cold easterlys of -7 and -13 wind chill the room stat stayed at 18 and radiators at 2 or 3 on the individual thermostats. The only thing I did was put on a cardigan or jumper where usually in winter I have to take those off as well.

Fitted wardrobes were built by myself and here are a few photos of this. All the bedroom renovations as usual done by myself and my wife, including the oak floor. Only a plasterer was brought in.

Now I am insulating the porch. When I put the porch up in 2005, this enthusiasm of insulation for me was not there and really no big push for porch but I am now doing it. A porch is not really an essential area but I could not insulate the front wall of the kitchen having done its back wall internally. This was starting to really compromise on the fitting a modern kitchen. As the porch crosses the entire front wall of the kitchen with the kitchen window in direct align with the glass front door, this will technically insulate that wall also the front door from the porch into the living room. The fact that my labour timer is free and I get a buzz out of such a challenge to me makes it worth doing. This also allows me to restructure the porch better. After 12 years we find we use about 50% as a sun room and the other area as a dumping ground. It is big, at around 18 feet by 6 feet. Putting up an internal wall with a door means the clutter is hidden and passage from front door to internal front door is now a dedicated sun room. This has meant a structural alteration with new wall and raising part of the floor. Old houses going back a few hundred years were not built on foundations. Using huge heavy stones direct onto boulder clay which in itself is like a concrete foundation and the lie of the land was used. I hit this problem when I converted the two barns and as you move eastwards the boulder clay for us rises. Keeping a floor level can be difficult without improvising when you need to lower its original level. In the barn conversion the back wall would have been a few inches higher than the floor level as it came through. Under pinning is one solution but my Building Control officer suggested I place modern concrete foundation for the new block wall that I had to build in front of the old back wall, to finish above the new floor level on the boulder clay and hide it and the damp proof membrane via the skirting board by not using screws. The new concrete floor and stone flags would then act as a lock on this foundation moving. The new concrete foundation locked the old stone wall. In the barn conversion this new wall was a requirement as the old stone wall was built into the hill side so damp membranes, chemical cement render were required with a cavity and insulation. I therefore used the same technique in the porch and where the last 1 meter of two walls in the porch rose above the finished ground level I stepped up the new concrete floor topped with stone flags. That was fine as one room in a corner but a new wall started to make this raised area awkward. The solution was lift the flags, build the new wall then raise the whole floor behind the wall to match the previous raised level and create the step up in the door way itself.

A few photos of this are here.

I just need to fill in the joints, put back on the stone skirting boards allowing for insulated wall thickness and then insulate the wall and wall tile the plaster board. That is my task between now and end of April 2018. At the moment it is too cold in that porch and I may be an enthusiastic DIY builder but I am a fair weather builder!

Until next time.