Showering cold

Four days in, it’s quite easy to do something everyday of the year, but I’m hoping this is something I’ll stick to.

I’m very much enjoying cold showers in the morning for a number of reasons.

It takes a huge amount of bravery to stand next to the running shower and see the water, which you know, and in some cases can feel, is very cold. Once you jump in, there’s a moment of proudness which is quickly replaced by shock as the water hits you.

The experience after that is as if on a plane with a lot of turbulence or skimming down a zip wire. Your heart literally beats faster, adrenaline bursts through your torso and into your legs. Before long, you find yourself dancing not to stay warm but just out of excitement!

It also takes a bunch of high speed self-reinforcement. I’ve found myself giggling each time I’ve done it this year.

I definitely leave the shower a lot happier and more awake than when I go in.

Some other benefits:

  • Mirrors stay clear for post-shower shaving, as there’s no condensation
  • Save energy
  • Showers are twice as fast (no procrastinating under the warm waves)
  • No need to waste water waiting for it to warm up

Here’s a video I found to back this up.

Being Present

I’m quite interested in the practice of mindfullness, every since I heard Alex Day’s guest vlogs on the subject. The first I came across it was a discussion about what it meant to be “present” and this is where the first section (the first day) of Oli Doyle’s Mindfulness For Life kicks off.

I’m brand new to this type of thinking, but I believe the aim is to reduce anxiety by realising that the only moment that matters is this one. This immediate moment. The thoughts you keep having about your past are (apparently) useless as those moments don’t exist any more. All that exists are your badly recorded memories – highlights on moments in your life no one else has highlighted. Lingering on these leads to anger or embarrassment as human brains (or at least my brain) tends towards the shittier moments of life.

The same is true for the future too. Concerning yourself with your career in two years time, or your commute in four hours leads to anxiety and stress. Already, hours or years early, you’re preloading your fears. Its fine and natural to feel those feelings, but why do it in advance?

The first day of the “course” is about bringing yourself constantly to the present. Focus entirely on the blog post you’re writing, the dog you’re walking, or – if there’s nothing else – the breath you’re taking. You can instantaneously bring yourself back to the present by forcing yourself to avoid the natural state of your brain (past analyising and future predicting) by actively considering your surroundings, and finding wonder in them.

I’m ignoring the middle-ground here, but so does the book so far. My concern with this method is when do you plan? Sure, I can concentrate on the Now, but at what point do I sit down decide on my future? Or make decisions like how many glasses I need to buy. Is there room for that in this practice?

I know the next day is on relationships (which I’ve not yet read, as I’m doing it day by day), but almost all of my relationships, and those I’ve experienced around me, are based on a growing based of past experience together. In-jokes and emotional states we shared. When do I have time to reflect on those? Is there space for that?

The Postcard

I haven’t done much with my postcard adventure recently, but as I’ll have a bit of time on my hands I decided to start writing up what I know right now.

Here's the original postcode.
Here’s the original postcode.

As best as I can transcribe it:

Dear A.
Has Dad been to your house yet, if not he is working at B’ham + is coming to see you. I addressed a PC to you last night + as I was coming to Redditch this morning I lost it somewhere + didn’t find out until  I went to get a stamp in Redditch for it. So someone may post it but it won’t have a stamp on it
love to A + yourself
[illegible name]


If anyone sees something different in the postcard, I’d love to know.

To clear up a couple of red herrings, “Ireland” is written on the postcard because that where the picture of on the face of the card is of. Predominantly, the face is why people collect postcards. Getting excited about the story on the other side (like I am) is quite unusual.
I’ve hidden the house number since, over a hundred years later, that address still exists.
The postmark on the stamp tells us that this postcard was sent on November or December 23rd, 1905. I can give my evidence for this in another post.

This card is full of mystery to me.

The card is addressed the Mrs. A Preece. There’s no luck on a first name as the salutation just says “Dear A” too. It’s not likely that someone was simply called “A”, so we can assume that it’s short for something.

I’m working under the assumption that the letter is from someone to their sister, since they refer to “dad” coming along. Not “my dad” or “your dad” which suggests they share the parent. Having a sibling would make my search much easier as there are very good census records from this period of time.

Unfortunately, the valediction is even more hard to read – it’s just crammed in at the side. It looks like Geity or maybe Leity. This means one of two things: hurrah, a very unusual name is easy to find, or boo, we’ve no idea what the name is.

Even with the knowledge of the sister it would be tricky to track down Mrs. Preece. Mrs. implies that she’s married, and as such would have been born with a different name.

I actually did find, and got quite excited about, an Ada Preece with a sister Gertrude (Gerty!) Preece, but at this point Ada is not married. Although they live close to the correct area, this makes them unlikely to be who I’m searching for.

The postcard has left me with lots of questions, and almost no easy answers.

Recent oral question answers

Dominic Raab was answering a few questions recently in the House of Commons, but I’m not sure why anyone turned up. His answers weren’t helpful at all. He seems to be avoiding, at all costs, shedding any light on the progress of their proposals. Not one idea was put forward.

Unfortunately it is not fair of us to criticise this; Mr Raab has no control over when the questions are asked, and he must answer them as they come. If they truly are working on this proposal, then we should all be happy that such consideration is being spent on this. This way we know we’ll get a solid bill, for better or worse. Writers don’t discuss their first draft because no one wants to be judged on their rough ideas.

The Under-Secretary mentions that rushing was the apparent down fall of the Human Rights Act, and his Bill of Rights won’t suffer the same issues. The Government does seem to be committed to good amount of consultation with all involved, and so I’m looking forwards to being a part of that process.

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that repealing the Act comes with a lot of legal trouble from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Both of these issues were brought up, and both had the same answer: “there will be full consultation”. I’m curious to see what legislative trickery he has in mind.

The Labour MP for Hammersmith asks a question regarding what impact England withdrawing from the ECHR would have on other countries, in particular Russia. This is a good question. We want England to be a centre for liberty, and those countries who lack our scruples will be looking to us to see where the bar is.

Mr Raab’s response was petty though: “we will take no lectures on liberty from the Labour party”. This is ridiculous. Lectures on liberty should be taken as they come, and Labour’s previous policies on the matter have no bearing on the need. There should be no moratorium on hypocrites giving good advice.

I’m not sure at this point if no news is good news, but at least we know that “this autumn” we should finally start seeing proposals.

Philatelically Speaking

Here’s something I never thought I’d be doing on a Saturday morning: getting very excited by finding a penny red, King Edward VII stamp, with a 1908 cancellation mark on it.

This person actually overpaid. In 1908 they only had to pay a half penny (a green stamp) to send this!
This person actually overpaid. In 1908 they only had to pay a half penny (a green stamp) to send this!

I’m not sure if I’m more excited about that, or the S. Hildesheimer & Co. postcard I found with glitter on it. Printed in Bavaria. Pre-1922. So many questions! Who glitters a postcard, and then doesn’t send it? Why was a printing manufacturer, with a factory in Manchester, outsource his printing?

This all started because my partner has started to collect bank notes. A place one might go to grow their collection of worldly numismatical goodies is the Charing Cross Collectors’ Fair, just outside of Embankment Tube Station, and it’s there I came across a box of postcards. I only ventured into it because as any teenager in the LiveJournal era did, I loved PostSecret. And here I was, in front of boxes and boxes of postcards to and from people all around Europe. What exciting secrets might I come across!

Picking some at random from the unsorted box was very exciting. I about flipped my shit whenever I’d see a postcard close to my home land of Wednesbury (about 170 miles from London, near Birmingham). Eagerly trying to decypher the 1900’s handwriting. I don’t know how to explain glee I felt, the sheer taken-aback-ness, when Tim handed me a postcard to a “Mrs A. Preece”, sent in 1905.

I still don’t understand how it’s possible that I would travel hundreds of miles to the south of where I once lived, follow my boyfriend into this incredibly niche market, find – amongst many – a particular box of hundreds of postcards, and then to randomly pick out a postcard that was not only addressed to somewhere not far from where lived with my family, but addressed to my family name!

Mrs. A. Preece was found in the second drawer down, in that yellow box.
Mrs. A. Preece was found in the second drawer down, in that yellow box.

Since then a whole new hobby has been kicked off for me: how much information can I find out about this postcard, and is Mrs Preece a relative of mine?

The primary aim for me is to find out if Mrs A. Preece is a member of my family, so I started off with my family tree. Many branches fell into place, except for the branch I actually care about: my dad’s side – the Preece side. My dad has a complicated origin story, which included never really knowing who his father is. A key piece of information for me to step back in time, swept away by family squabbles. The challenge is certainly a lot of fun though – tracking down leads to potential new lives my Grandad might be leading now, and getting my hands on as many public documents as I can.

Slow going though.

The other part of my quest is to understand the postcard itself.

I’ve learnt an unusual amount about the postage history in 1905, lots about cancellation marks, and I definitely know my King Edwards from my King Georges now!

All this research feels like archaeology. Learning more from clues really, than history books. It’s one of the most fun adventures I’ve been on in a while!