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It's almost that time of year again?

It means so many different things to us all.

The focus may shift from work and mundane, to escape and party, not forgetting the burden of a huge list of what to do and buy maybe? Who we give presents to? Stressful? yes!

Foods of all sorts come out and we gather around and celebrate.

Has it become a habit of what's expected of us and the situation?

Some may binge, some will keep quiet and go along with the flow and others will feel more isolated than usual. Some may search for the answers at the bottom of the glass or bottle.

Feeling disconnected and even more distant than before.

Seeing people shedding their workload and losing inhibitions and having fun can for some that may seem almost unachievable and unbearable. Some may also feel regret afterwards.

It may be the time of year a loved one passed away.

This in itself has it's own complications.

We have so many triggers and thoughts depending on the circumstances so I want to keep it upbeat. As up beat as I can lol!

This year, is an exceptional one, after everything we have been through, compounded with extremes and fears, many have made it even more difficult than before. When coping previously, now we find our coping capacity squashed to minimal. A thin line.

We have all this year faced something very different.

Everyone has had to deal with it their way with what they have experienced.

So this year, gathering around a table with friends, family and loved ones, would be a luxury.

Not sure it will happen, for me anyway.

But it will one day soon for sure. I stay optimistic and positive.

I can count on one hand how many 25th Dec's I have not had to work, either coming back off nights, going in on nights, between nights, on days, as so many others do so we can have a service for us if needed. Missed out with many events and special occasions. It was my choice in career and I have no regrets. I hope my kids and family are ok with that too.

Not being there for them doesn't mean I love them any less.

It is time I cannot sadly get back though.

The photo below shows us on duty making the best of it.

The mighty Red Watch Swindon.

(Every watch is the best as is the station!!)

The whole time expecting the bells to go down and out the door we go. The hot plate oven was a blessing, but reheated food isn't quite the same.....spoilt meal was a common thing!

I think this was 1996 or 1997. Not sure, but some young faces, including mine. It was the time of year the junior officer, myself and Sub Officer would cook for the rest of the crew.

Ok, I did nearly all the prep work and the Sub cooked, trust me I'm not a chef!! Washing up as we went along was my job.

After we'd eaten, we would all muck in, because that's what we do. Team work!

We were back then, a watch of 11, (only 9 on duty for B/H.)

1 pump, aerial and a rescue tender. Kept available for the public.

You won't get that now due to cutbacks sadly.

A watch that lived and ate together and trained and dealt with whatever it had installed for us at any given time of day or night.

We worked as a team, a group of individuals with mixed abilities and skills brought together to resolve whatever we faced.

Not sure what was better, responding and having a spoilt meal or to have eaten only to be rushing around on a full belly!!

Some serious indigestion issues. This second family got to know the health issues we all will at some point suffer as we chatted over the mess room table. Many a tale and much laughter.

Responding from the table would have been met with some grabbing the extra mouthful to eat en route, or a gulp of water. We didn't know how long we'd be out for. The special appliance crew pencilling on the plates who's it was and putting them into hot plate for whenever, before descending the pole and seeing if they too were being mobilised.

And of course the compulsory cursing in all manners and chunters depending on how much they had stuffed into their mouths, all echoed by the chairs being scrapped across the floors as we rose from the table and the dropping of cutlery on the plates.

Lunch break, tea break, loo break as it is for so many Hospital staff is a sporadic luxury.

This takes its toll on the digestive system and in turn then affects the body and overall health and wellbeing.

Short term we can tolerate this and adjust, but the long term has long term effects that will come up in various symptoms.

I think around 1998/ 1999

some new faces as others have retired

I've witnessed life changes on said days, and many other days, so coming back to clean environments and some sort of normality after seeing people having lost everything or life, takes some adjusting. Not sure you ever do, but coping mechanisms and dark humour helps you process and continue.

Something you cannot share with your families and kids.

But continue we must, so we do!

My point of this blog post is two-fold.


to highlight what we are is what we eat. If we eat foods that trigger indigestions and give us ulcers, and in grand quantities, then don't eat it. You have a choice remember.

Be kind to yourself. As I got older, I had to change what I was eating and the quantities.


is to maybe take a moment and really take stock of what you have and how fortunate we really are compared to others. Be grateful and enjoy our luxuries, however simple they may be.

Many things in the world we cannot control, but we can control our diet and how we look after ourselves......

"A healthy body is a healthy mind." And visa versa.

And if we THINK healthy, then we also ACT healthy.

If we can care for others.....we can care about ourselves too.

This is about awareness.

This is about how irregular eating patterns and

eating 'on the hoof' affected me in my fire service career.

Having left, I had time to change and no surprise, but I feel better for it.

My last night shift, new members of the watch and my old Sub Officer popping back in

making sure I left, I've been very fortunate to have had great bosses, and worked with some great people..............thank you


This time of year is associated with gifts and giving

for me,

it's not about 'PRESENTS'.....................

it's about 'PRESENCE'.........'s not what we have, it's who we are with.

Reach out and keep in touch with loved ones and friends.

Your call may be just what is needed for that person.

Lifting spirits and giving hope can be as simple as talking and smiling, but definitely include laughing.

Energy changes and feel good is an amazing gift we can all share.

The greatest GIFT we have is..........Communication and LIFE.

Enjoy and keep safe




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