Wonder And Sonder

December 6, 2017 2:48pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 31 Comments


Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

She’s all bundled up in a long fawn coat and hand knitted scarf, the old lady on the street. Ready to brave the winter chill as she pulls the beaten old trolley behind her and walks in the direction of the shops. She’s moving slowly but once upon a time, she was a young girl running around and likely being mischievous. People don’t think of that; now they just see an elderly lady, if they even see her at all. She’s mostly invisible. There’s a sense of freedom to that but also a great loss.

The man behind her switches his gait to get past so he can maintain his speed. He wears jeans, a fleece, and a wool hat. He’s walking two very small dogs, one has a coat on. He looks uncomfortable about the situation. He’s probably walking them for his girlfriend.

I drive past them and wonder if they’re the sort of people I’d get along with and what’s going on in the little bubble that is their life. Sonder, they call it: the realisation that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

I really notice these people as I pass. I’m on full autopilot, paying more attention to what’s going on around me than how I’m getting to my destination. That’s something I’ve always done but it seems accentuated at this time of year. The nuances. The rarely seen, the unspoken words, a sense of sweet, melancholic emotion attached to everything around me.

Have you noticed how still it is at this time of year? Despite everyone being all revved up with lists of things that simply must be completed before the year turns in, I am acutely aware of this calm in the eye of the storm. Is introspection the modern day version of hibernation?

I feel lost and found at the same time. A sense of belonging and yet not part of it at all. It’s the most bizarre feeling. I like it but it’s slightly uncomfortable.

I love the light at this time of year; it matches the tone perfectly. The sky is just how an artist would paint it and the light is low and forgiving on natures nakedness. I can see for miles. The yellow rape fields and lush green pastures are all stripped back to basics. Everything is ripped of its finery and yet beautiful in its simplicity.

I want to shed myself the same. I’m tired of the worlds problems, the naysayers and the unforgiving. I want to shake all the detritus from me like a wet dog might shake the mud from its fur.

There’s nostalgia at play too. I recognise this because I’m actually listening to the lyrics of songs playing in my car instead of my usual flicking through them at speed because I’m not in the mood for that track. Each one seems to resonate with my senses. This time of year will always bring about sentimentality because we have been taught to think that way. The magic and purity of the season are so perfect that it makes us realise we are not. That’s a good thing.

But that aside, there’s something raw and primal about this time of year that makes me conscious and heedful. Nature is definitely at play. My exterior and interior are receptive to one another and it urges me to pay special attention.
I’d like to hope that everyone else does that too, lest we forget how to be human. How’s that for a bit of whimsy?

On Yer Bike!

November 29, 2017 6:15am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 18 Comments

Stoke Rochford Hall

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

“Come to The Village,” they said.

Ah- ha… heard that one before. Ends in tears and headaches. “No. Too busy. Still got jet lag and the onset of some hideous disease that I caught from the great unwashed in Asda.”

But you’ll like this, it’s the Santa Claus Biker Run!

“Come again?”

“Followed by a Victorian Fayre in a stately home.”

“OK. Sounds like English eccentric loveliness – I’m in.”

Triumph At The Village

I got up early and set off along the beautiful country roads to The Village: blue skies, sun shining on golden autumnal leaves offering quintessential English scenery that makes you want to be nice to everyone.

Until you get a couple of ‘osses in your way.

Lambley, Nottinghamshire

I arrived to the streets and pub car park littered with motorbikes and leather-clad bikers.

I don’t know what it is about helmeted, leather-clad men straddled across purring, beastly machines that they can take to the limit, but it’s tantalising. You could be the ugliest male on the planet and it wouldn’t matter because right at that moment you are an Adonis. If I had my time again I would become a professional biker bitch.

What’s doubly attractive is that these bikers roll up every year to take presents they’ve bought to sick children in hospitals for Christmas.

How flippin’ nice is that?

They roll up, some dressed up in costume others just, ya know, leathery, down a cuppa and a bacon or sausage cob from Hank Marvin’s (Cockney rhyme for starvin’) food van and at eleven am they all take off to the hospitals throwing waves, kisses, winks and sweets to those watching on the pavement.

Proper nice.

The Victorian Fayre

After I’d filmed all that going on I helped finish up the leftover sausages and went off to a nearby stately home for a Victorian Christmas Fayre.

I found Sherlock at the bar ordering a malt whisky.


Sherlock Holmes,

I listened to Dickens read a Christmas Carol whilst I ate a mince pie sitting on a Chesterfield sofa in the drawing room. Like one does.

And Not Forgetting The Bike Theme…

And then….then I found a mister with a bike! Oh yes.

This guy has ridden this bike all over the shop for miles. The English tend to do nutty things like this for some reason. Like swimming the Channel in winter in pyjamas or sitting in a bath of cold baked beans for 24 hours or foxtrotting in the car park. You kind of get used to the madness like its normal behaviour.

Penny Farthing

Well, naturally I had to have a go. If I can sit on a cop’s bike in Colorado then I can sit on a Penny Farthing in England. Let me on, sir!

I have to say it’s easier to get on a horse than this contraption and you’re probably less likely to come a cropper.

I left as the sun set in the hills behind Belvoir Castle. On the whole, what a rather fabulous day!

Belvoir Castle

The Santa Claus Biker Run, Bottesford, November 2017. Video below. Please watch these guys and give them a like as they deserve some recognition for what they do every year.

You Know You’re Back home When…

November 22, 2017 12:37pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 24 Comments

English Country Home

*This is a typical, pretty, English village house. It’s not mine. Yet.*

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

On my flight back to the UK I sat next to a Swedish man who had been in DC discovering a secret vaccine. It was kind of like the start of a Criminal Minds episode.

I’m always mindful not to be too smiley to my next-door plane passenger because the last thing I want is someone chatting to me for seven plus hours. I always make a point of throwing my NR headphones on the seat whilst I store my bag in the overhead locker. Visuals make a point. But not in this case. Thankfully, he was a very sweet and interesting man but the Camp As Christmas cabin boy couldn’t understand his broken English and I had to act as interpreter when it came to dinner choices and drinks.

Taking The Biscuit

I would like you to know that trying to explain ‘Millionairre Shortbread’ to someone who doesn’t understand a deal of English is incredibly difficult. It’s much harder than charades or Pictionary.

“What is…?” Swedish man picks up the British Airways tiny pot of millionaire shortbread. We’d already been through the salad, how balsamic vinegar works and why the chicken curry looked like the contents of a baby’s nappy.

“It’s millionaire shortbread.”


“No. Pudding.”

“What are pudding?”


“ I eat now?”

“No, after dinner. You know, like a sweet. It IS sweet.”

He was still somewhat confused so I opened mine up to reveal chocolate.

“Just chocolate?”

“Kind of but not. At the bottom is shortbread.

“This is bread?”

“No it’s a luxury biscuit.” I spooned out the chocolate in mine to show him.

“Why is millionaire?”

“I don’t know. The marketing department of this product want you to feel important when you eat it. And it’s very rich.”


“Excessively sweet and overpowering.”

“Like millionaire!”

“Not in my experience. The one’s I’ve met tend to be arrogant arseholes.”

After all that he only bloody fell to sleep and didn’t eat his millionaire shortbread and there was mine all ruined and splattered about my dinner tray. I’m really getting sick of Karma.

Back On The Road

Thankfully, having got used to the proper cold temperatures of Virginia the London weather didn’t come as a shock to me. In fact, it was milder. There’s a lovely scent to the English air that I am unable to describe but it smells like home.

I got picked up from the airport and hit the  full of traffic motorway and remembered what a joy that was. I’ve witnessed some horrific driving in America and can’t believe how some people have passed their driving test. Our lane rules are a lot stricter and people tend to follow them but you still get the occasional numpty. Some even have a number plate to prove the fact incase you missed it.

UK Van

And then there’s the comedians.

Wobble number plate

In and out of the car.

Pie shop, UK

Ah yes, it all started flooding back to me in a ‘I’m back home but slightly tinged with fear’ kind of way.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Whoever came up with that saying was sprinkled with fairy dust and half cut on a bottle of Tequila. Whilst I love seeing my famalam and friends, walking back into the house always annoys me.

Someone has completely used my English Rose Yankee Candle. Kill them.

The Wheelie bins are full.

The next door garden centre has decided it is Christmas and sprayed everything white outside. Hate them.

I have more mail than Santa gets at Christmas and I know that most of it is hateful.

My dog ignores me for abandoning him. Nice.

The microwave has exploded and completely destroyed the circuit board. The blown up microwave, for some reason, is at the bottom of the stairs.

Outside there are more empty bottles than an alcoholic can get through on a weekend bender.

Is there milk in the fridge for a much needed cuppa? No.

Let’s Play Hide And Seek

Turns out I’m as stupid as they come. Before I go away on my adventures I hide some of my cards. Things like the card for my current bank account that takes care of all the bills and so on back in the UK. Taking that to America is not a good idea so I leave it behind and take others used for special “Jules’ occasions. I hide this in a special place where nobody will find it along with store cards, driving licence, gym membership, Costa coffee points, car relay membership, car keys and so on.

One of the first things I do when back home is sort out my finances. Firstly I double over in anguish at how much money I’ve haemorrhaged in the States, berate myself, have a cup of tea and get over it. Then I swap out my dollars in my purse for tenners and then I retrieve my hidden cards so I can function in the UK.

Couldn’t bloody find them.

I turned the house upside down looking in all the secret places that I am likely to / or have hidden things before. Nope. Nada.

Then I remembered I have a special fireproof box where I hide very important things. Maybe I put them there. However, I forgot where I hid the keys that open the tin box where the keys for the firebox are kept. Took me three hours to find them. It took three hours because on my hunt for the keys that open the box for the other keys, I found loads of other things that I’d forgotten about and got distracted. When I eventually found them and opened the firebox, my cards weren’t in there.

Most confused. Onset of panic. Start to think of culprits.

Maybe I’ve been burgled? Surely not. My savage “bred to kill” terrier would have had them by the throat.

Jack Russell Terrier

I’m six days into this fiasco and still haven’t found where I’ve hidden them. I know it’s somewhere very clever but it’s far too clever for the likes of me.

Brussels Are For Life Not Just For Christmas

Nobody’s getting any Christmas presents until I find my cards ~ just sayin’.

However, on the subject of Peace on Earth I will leave you with the following picture. I’ve been wanting to take a photo of this for a couple of years as it makes me laugh and I remembered to do so on my way back from Heathrow.

It’s a slogan sprayed on a bridge by a genius graffiti artist, around junction 16 of the M1.

Give Peas A Chance Graffiti slogan, M1

That’s right, my friends. It’s not just about sprouts. Give Peas A Chance. Keep ‘em mushy.


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