Skip to content
Home > Blog > Finding upsides…

Finding upsides…

We should all be mindful of ever being smug.

It’s official definition – “showing an excessive pride in oneself.” Pride is one of the deadly sins and for good reason in my view – and yet as I write this, I am feeling very smug indeed.

Mine is a very specific form of smugness. It happens every year and is weather dependent. Confined to sunny days, which can’t be relied upon in northern Europe – and London being famed for its fog and not its sun.

A sunny day is always a good thing. It never fails to raise the mood and my spirit in particular because a decade ago I had solar panels attached to my roof. And when the sun shines, there is a period in the day when all the power required in my home is derived from the sky.

And for me at least, this is intoxicating.

In my power cupboard where the consumer unit hangs out, a solid red light is my green light to start turning things on. As I write this, my laptop is plugged in and charging for FREE. The washing machine is mid-cycle even though the laundry baskets were empty, so I stripped Paddy’s bed because why not? Plus the sheets will dry outside in the garden which is one of life’s greatest freebies and biggest wins.

My phone is on charge, as is my car, sitting pretty on our driveway and plugged in to our rapid charging point.

An early adopter of a plug-in hybrid vehicle is a rare piece of foresight on my part. I am a huge winner on this and especially since politicians have declared war on the car with their carpet cameras and various zones which we must pay to drive in – or preferably not pay so that fines can be levied.

Not even a £40 fine that arrived in the post this morning – for forgetting to pay the £5 charge to drop off Sam at Heathrow airport – can dent my mood since my motoring savings dwarf any fines that I am clipped for.

As I type, my car is literally soaking up the sun every bit as much as a tourist on a Spanish beach in August. The difference being the sunbather is risking doing themselves great harm in the sun, whereas my car is storing up 30 miles of free motoring – assuming I remain within the ever more stringent driving laws.

The cost of living crisis is a rare thing days – a news story which does not divide opinion. Its only upside being that it has knocked Covid 19 off the news bulletins altogether, much to the chagrin of those people who loved lockdown and crave another one. Price inflation now even trumps the war in the Ukraine and the possibility of another World War which I guess is just too horrible to even countenance. If it’s going to happen and with the kinds of weaponry at our disposal, people would rather not know about such a thing because what can any of us do about it?

The price of petrol (gasoline) is particularly concerning because despite the politicians efforts, people remain determined to use their cars both for work and leisure pursuits. But less of a concern for me since my hybrid car provides most of my urban driving completely free – so long as the sun shines anyway.

And yet my real smugness is for another saving entirely.

Of late, I have been publishing short stories on Amazon (three to date) – short reads as a way to introduce people to my stories in the hope that they might take a punt on one of my novels. These stories don’t warrant an expensively designed jacket, so Nikki has filled in admirably by buying a suitable image from an on-line library (about £5) and then completing the cover herself. Thrifty publishing I call it.

But for my recent story – Lucky No. 7 – none of the appropriate images are available to buy. The image sites now require us to subscribe to their services. A monthly fee for unlimited images. But my imagination is finite and I certainly won’t need images every month and the monthly fee (too easily forgotten about) will quickly become a waste of money.

For this short, all I need is a drawing of a suitcase, so into the breach the artist in the family. Paddy ran me off a suitable sketch for no fee – or payment in kind with his continued free bed and board – and Mrs Holland took care of the rest.

You can see Paddy’s work on Amazon for FREE – and read my mine for $1, but no pressure.




Lucky no. 7 – my new short story is now on Amazon






6 thoughts on “Finding upsides…”

  1. Just curious, but will you be publishing your short stories into a collection? Like one book for anyone to read that way?

  2. Oh Dom. You sound just like my husband and his new toys, our solar panels ☀️ He too loves the fact that the washing machine, dishwasher, shower etc running free while the sun shines – a rare thing in Ireland though.
    Love Paddy’s artwork. Glad to see he’s earning his keep!!

  3. I often forget one of the upsides of living in Australia. Even though most of our days are disgustingly hot, we do get free power. I’ve always wanted to move to the UK though- Australia is pretty boring if you ask me!

    Thanks for this blog by the way- I always look forward to reading them every week.

  4. Glad I’m not the only one who actively goes looking for things to wash when the laundry basket is empty on sunny days – nothing beats line dried clothes and the feeling of smugness is very nice, too. I hope the it stays bright and sunny for you so you can charge/run everything in the house for free for a while longer.
    It’s sneaky how websites suddenly charge for things that were previously free, good job you have Paddy and Nikki on hand – I’m sure their creations are better anyway and mean a lot more.
    Lucky No.7 duly ordered. Look forward to reading it when I get a quiet moment today 🙂

  5. Brilliant sketch that lad, I’m a fan of the vintage, Hogwarts suitcase and in awe of those which such fine motor skills, too!
    I’m with you on the helplessness of the potential for IMMINENT DISASTER and our helplessness. I tend to ignore it completely and drink some Barry’s tea while pondering far more pedestrian things in a little bubble of denial.
    Great work on the books. I have it on my list to go and buy. Your energy is inspiring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.