Category Archives: a musing

robzlog aims to amuse, interest, entertain and encourage reflection

10 years of blogging, so what now?

I was astounded to see that I started this blog 10 years ago with the entry:

Drama coming . . .

. . . soon.

This was a reference to my heavy involvement in amateur dramatics at the time and my role in publicising six or seven productions every year.

Since then, I have blogged about theatre, Ilfracombe in North Devon, England (where I live), food, wildlife and various musings on life.

The most popular post has been this one about the elephant hawk moth in our garden 10 years ago – I still get questions about it.

It’s been an up-and-down blog, as over 10 years much has happened and my life has changed a lot. Illness and family losses have cast a shadow and for the past four or so years I have written little.

But here I am again.

silhouette | @robertz

This is my personal blog – I have also written business blogs at and a new one at – and I am looking to write more about life in general, food, nature, books and music, and history, as I am studying part-time for my History MA.

If you are here and reading my posts, what do you enjoy reading and find valuable? And what would you like me to write about?

Let me know in the comments or ask me anything else about what I write?

Posted in a musing.

Time to try something new

I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for work and business for 35 years – can’t believe it’s that long – and that is: writing.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I still do, but there are some aspects of work that don’t excite me so much. For example, in my corporate days, I was only too keen to take the opportunities I was given to experiment with computers. In several jobs in the 1980s, my bosses knew what they wanted me to make the computers do, but didn’t have a clue as to how they worked. I had to figure out hardware and software, often because the IT support departments still operated with the mindset of computers being for technical people. They were horrified that users were taking more control and knew more about desktop publishing, graphics and digital communications than they did. I would stay late in the office figuring out how things worked and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, these days I would rather walk on the beach as I have come to realise that every software package you learn becomes obsolete and that you have to learn a new one after 18 months or so.

This and the fact that marketing and PR are seen very much as a young person’s industry led me to realise that we – my brother who is my business partner – must differentiate ourselves from those in their 20 or 30s or even younger.

And so we have decided to embrace our age as an asset that differentiates us. We thought about a brand that would sum this up – it’s difficult finding words and names that have not already snapped up – and we hit upon: unfashionable.

We’ve never followed fashion for its own sake and always tried to see humour in our business, so we’re very comfortable with this.

Will it work? I think there are times when you have to try new approaches and so we will see.

Are you trying anything new or making changes?

Posted in a musing.

Ouch! That hurts. But not as much as it used to . . . | @robertz

In times when hair was abundant


It’s said that time heals or that painful memories grow less painful. 46 years ago, doctors were scratching their heads for five weeks as I was jabbed, x-rayed and subjected to all manner of medical tests, because they couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. (Some of those close to me say they still don’t know!)

It turned out that as a 12-year-old I was suffering from Crohn’s disease, but this was uncommon in children at the time and it was only when my paeditrician passed my files to the then UK’s leading expert on bowel disorders that he immediately identified the cause.

Fast forward 46 years and my vitamin B12 injection was due today. After a successful operation when I was 13, I have been relatively well, except I no longer absorb B12 from my food and need regular injections. All these years later, I still don’t like needles and don’t even look at them.

During my original stay in hospital, there was a very gentle South African doctor on the ward, who was very good at treating children. I was a good patient because I understood that they were trying to help me and stayed calm, but this didn’t stop the discomfort. The memory of this doctor has come back to me today, because of my injection, but I can’t remember his name. What he did suggest was gritting my teeth when having an injection or having blood drawn, because this focused my attention away from the needle and any pain. I have done this for years and it seemed to work.

I think I do this unconsciously now, although I’m not sure if the pain of injections is as great or whether I am getting used to them at last.

It’s strange how something brings back memories as though they took place yesterday and how our perspective changes. Do we change or do our memories? Is time playing with us?

Posted in a musing, Crohn's disease.

My 5 ways to remedy procrastination

clock | procrastination | @robertz

There seems to be more advice on how to avoid procrastination and improve time management than we could possibly take in, but they can still remain a problem.

There are many reasons for procrastination – from tiredness to fear, lack of motivation and boredom – and getting to the cause is a good idea. Why do I put off doing something?

I think solutions need to be personal. Not every suggestion will work for every person, so we have to find out what works for each of us.

Here’s how I try to remedy procrastination:

1. If I’m trying to complete a task but can see I’m not getting anywhere, I do something else for a short while. If tiredness is the reason, going for a short walk or even just outside in the fresh air for a few minutes can refresh me. I find taking regular breaks helps me to work more productively through the day so that I don’t waste time sitting at my desk putting off what I had planned to do.

2. If I feel overwhelmed by my to-do list, I like to do small admin tasks for a few minutes so that I can see I’ve completed a couple of items and made progress. I’m not keen on admin, so I feel good to know that filing, accounts or other tasks have been completed and I have time for what I want to do.

3. If I really have a block, such as not being able to write, I do something for pleasure, such as read or listen to music for a short while. Time is valuable and if I can’t work productively, then at least I can make use of it by enjoying it. Reading, music and similar activities are good for the mind and body, so I am not wasting time but spending it on doing something valuable.

4. I am lucky to be able to work flexibly and can arrange most days so that I work when I want to. Sometimes I am not firing in the mornings, but find my concentration increases in the afternoons and evenings. As long as I am not over-working, I don’t mind when I work.

5. Sometimes I can put off doing something because I am scared of failing. This took me quite a long time to resolve, but I have come to realise that failure is a part of life and that we have to expect it on occasion. I get over this by doing as much preparation as I can for anything I do and not pinning my hopes on one thing. I find this approach enables me to get on with tasks that seem daunting. This is probably one of the the most difficult aspects of procrastination to remedy and the one requiring the most personal approach, as each of us has different fears. However, if you do confront these fears, you will be able to progress in what they are stopping you from doing.

I have learnt that time is our most valuable commodity and that the worst thing possible is to waste it. Sometimes we are not in the right frame of mind or do not have the energy to do what we planned and I re-organise my day so that I do get into the right frame of mind and do get my energy back.

The worst thing is to waste time on daytime TV, surfing the web or social media networks aimlessly. Doing nothing, i.e. dreaming, is not necessarily a waste of time as it can lead to new ideas, nor is spending time doing something you enjoy.

My aim is to be pleased at what I have done with my time when I look back over my day.

Do you procrastinate? What is your approach to dealing with it?

Posted in a musing.

When things don’t work, people can

Things don't work, but people can | @!robertz

Reading the news can be depressing. Institutions and organisational structures everywhere seem to be failing and instead of reforming, improving or replacing them, more time and effort is put into squabbling about what to do than doing anything, and faith and respect in our ‘systems’ are disappearing.

Many see the solution as joining a side, tribe, political party, movement, putting a flag or symbol in place of their face, spreading biased articles or puerile graphics ridiculing their opponents, signing petition after petition and arguing, name calling and insulting the opposition.

And all the while, things get worse, and hate and anger increase.

What is the point of trying to do anything in this world?

Then you read about the Thai boys football team trapped in caves and the co-operative efforts of individuals from across the world, working to rescue them. As I write, eight have been rescued. How cheering that people are putting their own lives at risk to save these boys.

There are also the recent floods in Japan with a number of people missing or dead and millions being evacuated. It makes you realise that any gripes about summer temperatures being too hot or water supplies for gardens running low are insignificant when compared with real disasters. Again, thousands of police, armed forces and rescue workers are working to help those affected, no doubt putting themselves at risk to help others.

And, of course, there are the many wars and conflicts across the globe in which millions of people get caught up without choice.

Often, you and I can seem helpless when reading about such situations. What can we do when they are taking place on the other side of the world?

Actually, our help is always needed – by people around us, our communities, by animals and our environment. We need to take action to provide this help and I believe it is the only way we can achieve change and improvement. Action and effort by each one of us is essential.

What does that mean? Doing what we believe in, from small actions to major commitments: picking up litter that someone else has dropped, even if they should have done it; putting ourselves out to help someone, from the tiniest gesture of offering a seat to someone we think needs it more than we do; using all resources responsibly, from not using plastic to re-using ‘grey’ water on gardens to prevent droughts; giving up time to volunteer in any capacity or even serving as a community leader or elected representative at local, national or international level. These are just a few of the many ways we can actively contribute. Even if we are unable to do anything ourselves, just showing our appreciation and thanks for those who help us is effective.

Can it really make a difference? Me emptying my shower water over the garden will not stop a reservoir drying up, but thousands or millions doing this can change our rate of consumption significantly. The question is: how determined are we all to make this world better for everyone?

I think the way we act makes a real difference, especially if we treat every person as an individual, not as a supporter of one party or other or as a member of some specific group. Perhaps this can help to re-establish trust between people, which I feel is being eroded as opinions polarise and communities split into opposing tribes. It won’t solve all this world’s problems, but perhaps we can start working together rather than tearing ourselves apart.

Those are my thoughts this morning and I am sure you have your own. Maybe between us all we can make life better, even if it is in a small way.

Posted in a musing.
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