The Secret Kingdom Of The Gingerellos

What a delightful prompt from Teresa today! I knew this morning that my tale today was going to be one of the adventures my two younger sisters and I would have played out when we were little girls.

Your challenge today, should you accept it, is to find your inner explorer and write your take on the Adventure subgenre of Lost World and see where it leads…or whatever/wherever the picture takes you.

https://maplesswanderer.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/daily-writing-prompt-21/

I responded to another of Teresa’s prompts a while ago with their make believe ocean voyages. My little post was called Ay Ay Captain! This is a return to Captain Mandy and her crew of Navigator Melody and Able Seaman Milly (who did everything Mandy told her to!)

Treasure Map, Map, Old, Paper, Parchment

After sailing around the island, looking out for signs of human activity, Captain Mandy ordered her crew to anchor the ship just off the secluded bay they had spotted.

Melody, the Navigator, had been studying an old tattered map and excitedly reported to the captain that she believed this island was actually the Secret Kingdom of the Gingerellos.

“Shiver me timbers! The Gingerellos!” exclaimed Captain Mandy.

“Who are the Gingerellos?” asked able seaman Milly out loud.

Spices, Curry, Market Stall, ColorfulMelody replied, “You’ve never heard of the Gingerellos? Well they are a people with ginger hair and yellow skin. They were the Kings of the ancient spice trade and amassed a great fortune. Because they ate so much saffron, tumeric and other spices, they turned yellow and their hair bright ginger. They were very distinctive and very beautiful.”

“Oh…are they called the Gingerellos because they are ginger and yellow then?” asked Milly with a baffled expression on her face.

Captain Mandy enlarged on the history of the Gingerellos, “They ate so much spice that they became illuminous yellow and their ginger hair glowed like flames. They were so dazzling that people couldn’t look at them without their eyes hurting. So the Gingerellos hid themselves away in the deepest darkest jungle on the Island of Ginintuang Pampalasa with the enormous fortune that they had made from the spice trade.”

“Really! Oh wow!” cried Milly.

Gems, Jewelry, Rubies, Jewel“Yes!” cried Melody, “and in their treasure they have diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds! It’s the most amazing fortune the world has ever seen!”

Milly scratched her head, “Do they have pearls too? Mum’s favourite gem are pearls.”

“Of course they have pearls,” answered Captain Mandy, “and lots and lots of gold!”

Milly was thoughtful, “Do you think they are still there in the jungle then?”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find them!” suggested Melody.

Captain Mandy stood with her hands on her hips, “Of course they are out there! Come on crew, let’s go and find the Gingerellos and their treasure.”

Children, Girl, Hiking, TrailLittle Milly was hesitant, “But Mandy, aren’t we supposed to ask Mum and Dad before we go into the woods on our own?”

Captain Mandy frowned, “Where is your courage sailor? Come on follow me. I know just where to look for them!”

Taking hold of the hand of her youngest sister, Melody encouraged her, “Come on Milly, we know the woods like the back of our hands. We will find the Gingerellos and their treasure and still be back on time for tea!”

Bee Mine! Bee My Little Baby!

This is actually one of my favourite posts! I wrote it at the start of last summer (we had an amazing summer in England in 2018), when I remember realizing that for the first time in years I was head over heels in love and so happy!

If anyone of you has had the glorious experience of bee-ing in love…not with someone who does not even know your name (that is not such a great kind of lovestruck-ness), but bee-ing in love with someone who seems to love spending time with you, loves holding your hand, and even loves your cooking!!! Woo wooh!!! Then you know the elation that bee-ing in love can bring.

Bee

It is the weekend…and over here in little olde England…once again the sun is shining…and we are shamelessly out there getting ourselves sun-burnt! The sky is blue as you like, the flowers are still blooming and the bees are buzzing away – intoxicated by sweet nectar.

As am I! Intoxicated…by my loved one – my lovely Goldfinch…who is here with me! We have great plans for another perfect day together…so this will not be a long post today.

For any readers who as yet have not had a taste of this kind of love…do not despair! When I have more time, I will tell you the story of how unexpected it was to meet Goldfinch…a very random meeting with a complete stranger that worked out wonderfully. A lovely life lesson is that you truly never know who is around the corner…the most important thing is to work on you first. Bee happy!!! Bee a beautiful person on the inside!!! Bee someone who is enjoyable to spend time with. Bee ready for a really nice person to come along and see inside you something very attractive.

Apron

This is the apron I wear when I bake in case you were wondering!

Goldfinch would not have picked me out of a line-up of lovely ladies for either my chubby face, my clumpy feet, or wobbly tummy. I know that what Goldfinch found attractive was just what he is supposed to see…all those lessons in life, the lessons in love…the lessons that mum and dad taught me…they have made me into a person that is attractive to my wonderful Goldfinch.

It just makes me love him even more. To bee loved by a man who loves you for all of the right reasons is bee-yond beautiful!!!

If you have loved like this and have lost…then I am deeply compassionate towards you. Sadly in the world we live in today, something exquisitely lovely can quickly vanish beyond our grasp to cling to. I know that soon I will lose my loved one…my Goldfinch.  He will soon go home. I will have lost someone who is stirring in me deep happiness. At that time,I will probably post a lot of laments to love lost on this blog site…so be warned…come August October December…you might want to avoid my posts!!!

But for me that is tomorrow…and now is today.  I am sure you would not bee-grudge me making the most of today. Life has taught me that you really should make the most of today!

Whatever you do this wonderful weekend…I hope that you can make the most of the precious gift of life…don’t bee sad. Bee ready for anything but bee wise. Bee adventurous and bee brave. Bee kind and bee a lovely person to everyone you meet. Bee thoughtful and bee interested in other people. Bee happy and bee beautiful on the inside.

Who knows who will bee buzzing around outside? Bee ready for them.

Two Bees

Please forgive me if I don’t read your posts today…you know why…bee happy for me!

 

 

Linked to this are the posts: Buttery Toasted Teacake and Perfect Day

 

 

…And Yet I Did!!!

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There are a long long list of things that I never thought I could do…and yet I did!!!

  • Work in cancer care
  • Be with somebody I loved when they died
  • Become a professional cook
  • Learn British Sign Language and become an interpreter
  • Be on stage in front of an audience of 15,000
  • Leave home!
  • Move to London
  • Learn to ski
  • Go scuba-diving
  • Bake my own bread
  • Learn construction skills like plaster-boarding, roof tiling, and all aspects of decorating
  • Learn how to use a marble paint effect
  • Walk twenty-two miles in one day
  • Run for ten miles
  • Swim five metres across the swimming pool
  • Swim two miles along a river (outdoor swimming)
  • Teach other people how to swim
  • Help to cut the toe-nails of sheep
  • Drive a Mercedes Benz
  • Sing in front of a live audience of strangers
  • Fall in love again after my teenage sweetheart and I broke up after nine years
  • Leave my well-paid job in finance
  • Train a team who had never wall-papered before so we could complete the decorating of a venue in one day
  • Become a professional gardener
  • Learn to mix cement to make mortar for brick-laying
  • Travel to construction projects all over the country on my own
  • Dig an oil-tanker out of the snow
  • Qualify to be an international volunteer
  • Write poems
  • Start a blog-site

When I was a child I was lively, yet painfully shy at times. I liked to read and write and play sports and climb trees. I was a great swimmer. However, outside of that I did not think I was very talented or capable. I did not think I had the potential for anything much. But life is full of surprises,

I learnt not to be afraid of change and new situations. I was very secure living in the family home I had grown up in around people who had watched me grow from birth. Leaving home was a frightening. I learnt so much about my potential and my ability to learn and be trained. I also realized my parents really had taught us every life lesson we would need to guide us with new decisions. I found myself in situations I never imagined myself in and experiencing things I would never have even allowed myself to dream about. There is a very long list of things:

“I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD”, …and yet I did!!!

I found it very hard to decide which of the subjects listed to write about, so I will just mention one situation. I worked at the head office of a major retail chain for eight years. From the age of eighteen to twenty-six. I worked there part-time, but I was paid a full-time wage (that was because I was doing the same amount of work that two full-timers used to do before). Because I worked part-time, I was able to spend a lot of time on voluntary projects for various charities.

Newbury2I was invited by a friend who co-orinated many projects in the south of England to move to a part of the country where the cost of living was high compared to up north, and therefore there were not as many volunteers. There were a lot of projects in that area waiting for more volunteers. When I handed my resignation letter in to my manager in the finance department I worked in, she asked if I had a source of income arranged in the south. My plan was to move and then apply for jobs. She made sure that the company I worked for very kindly helped me to relocate to the south of England and arranged for me to have a part time job in a neighbouring town to where I was living.

It became obvious very quickly that the journey to and from work was epic. I was travelling for longer than I was working. I gave in my notice and started to apply for other jobs in finance. But I only saw full-time roles advertised. That’s when I was offered a job as a private cook catering for a household. My reaction was: “BUT I CAN’T COOK!” They laughed and said I would be fine, they liked me and trusted me. They even gave me a cop of Delia Smith’s famous cookbook and told me to read it and refer back to it whenever I was in doubt.

I absolutely loved working as a cook. I cooked and baked everything from scratch. I learnt so much. It really boosted my confidence. I realized I did not ever want a desk job again. From then on I preferred physical work where I could learn new skills. I also found how much I loved being in people-orientated jobs and working out in the fresh air.

Again and again, I found myself earning my “bread and butter” through work I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD do…and yet I did!!!

LIFE CAN BE SUCH AN ADVENTURE!

 

 

This post was in response to the weekly writing prompt created by Sarah Elizabeth Moore.

Please feel free to create a post of your own and pingback to Sarah’s original prompt below:

Writing Prompt #2

Whatever You Do, Don’t Say Peppa

I made a mistake on Monday evening. A big mistake! I asked my brother-in-law if he would pass me the salt and pepper. Somebody’s ears picked up on the word “pepper”. My sister and her husband groaned!

Bedtime that night was quite a battle. For I had inadvertently reminded my twenty month old niece of her favourite cartoon – Peppa Pig! She did not want a bath. She did not want a clean nappy. She did not want her pyjamas. She did not want to go to sleep.

Again and again and again and again and again she said: “Peppa”. It was a very late night! We tried so hard to distract her.  Poor baby! It was almost midnight by the time she finally closed her eyes and drifted to sleep.

It was not my goal to upset the bedtime routine and make my niece distraught! It meant that we had to watch a lot of Peppa Pig on Tuesday before we went to meet the family. We watched more on Wednesday before heading out. We even watched more of Peppa Pig on Thursday before we drove up to Cheshire.

I need to remember not to say Peppa or pepper again in front of my niece. Well, at least until she has a new favourite!

For now – all that matters is Peppa!

I had such a wonderful time in Wales though. The internet signal is abysmal in that part of Snowdonia! I took some photos and will share some more of my wonderful family with you and our antics over the past few days. The adventure is not over quite yet. Much more love, laughter and living ahead!

So sorry if I have missed some posts. I tried to catch up each evening. The internet in Cheshire is so much better. Less mountains on the Cheshire Plains. I kept trying to type comments and they would disappear. I am blaming the internet connection in North Wales!

Heading out for more fun, food and frolics this evening. Love and warmest greetings to all!

 

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/12/28/goal/

FOWC with Fandango — Adventure

The Adventure Of A Life-Time

I have a lot of unfinished posts in my drafts folder. I feel I ought to have a spring-clean and decide which I should give up on and which I have the enthusiasm to complete.

Back in August Sarah Elizabeth Moore hosted a writing challenge called The-August-Write-Away. I loved her series of daily questions. I just didn’t have time to complete a post for every single day.

So this is one of the posts that I am really reluctant to give up on:

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I have had many adventures and I am sure there are many ahead.

I have been been so happy with Goldfinch this year…so happy that I want to share a life-time with him. I want to share the adventure of a life-time with him. That won’t be possible I know. But…still it’s nice to dream. So dream I will in this little post.

I have always thought it a wonderful thing to build your own boat – a bit like Gibbs in NCIS. I would love it to be a wooden boat with elegance and stability. With a huge romantic sail!

After we have finished building a boat, Goldfinch and I set sail away into the deep blue. We would have all the time in the world to enjoy our voyage of a life-time.

There would also be plenty of swimming and diving when we were out a sea. We would swim with whales and dolphins and bejewelled fish of every colour. There would be so much to observe and learn in the ocean.

hand in hand.jpgWe would walk hand in hand along many beaches watching the magnificent sunsets. So many perfect days and perfect nights, staring up at the starry heavens.

We would travel to every port and harbour and we would meet the people who lived locally, taste their cuisine, dance to their music, and explore their culture.  We would be meeting members of our human family we had not met before. We would visit every land on the planet.  So much to learn, so much joy.

 There would be no such thing as passports and visas.  Just love!!!

It would be a grand adventure indeed…the adventure of a life-time. It is a wonderful dream I shall hold dear to my heart.

Perhaps, one day I will open my eyes and he will be there…to tell me, all the worrying is over. I have been asleep through momentous changes, but I have woken up in a new era of peace, where there is nothing to fear.

Maybe then we can make a start building our boat in preparation for our grand adventure.

Adventure awaits…no matter what happens in between. I look forward to many a grand adventure. I would love to be able to share those adventures with Goldfinch. But we will have to wait and see.

 

 

Adventuring We Will Go!

adventure photo.jpg

I think I have about an hour before I really ought to climb into bed and let my weary head rest up a bit.  I am going to use that hour to start a post with my answers to Game On – S2 Created by A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!

Take a look at Rory’s original post for find out all the rules and see his original questions:

Game On – Series 2 – Adventures and Travels

Are you ready for an adventure?  Well, if your bag is packed and you have your passport and boarding pass ready, I think we should embark on our journey along these fabulous questions!  I am not going to make this journey without you!

Q1] What is the last holiday you took?

Back in July, I spent two entire weeks visiting friends and family in the North of England and North Wales.  I tried to keep up with blogging and filled my posts with holiday spam!

All my holidays now are spent on visiting family.  I have not been on a “holiday” holiday for many years…I think it was Texas USA perhaps…but even that was not a holiday as such, though we had an amazing time out there.

Turkey…was the last time I went on a beach and relaxation orientated holiday…although we were bored after a day and went gallivanting every other day.  We went scuba-diving in Turkey which was pretty awesome!

Q2] What is your most favourite place in all of the world that you have seen?

Oooooh la la….how could you ask a question like that!

When I was in the north of Sweden our friends took us to see a frozen waterfall.  There were icicles all the way down.  It was one of the most exquisitely beautiful sights I have ever beheld!

Q3] Do you think travelling enriches your life, your learning, your wisdom or it’s just time off?

Oh yeah..of course I think travelling is enriching.  It often opens your eyes to looking at the world in a way you have never had the opportunity to do so before.

All teenagers should travel to Africa.  It would stop them complaining about not having the lastest phone or sneakers.

Q4] What is your favourite mode of transport?

That would have to be boat for me.

PQ5] In your opinion what is a great quote that symbolises adventuring and travelling?

I have never thought about quotes other than “LIFE IS ONE BIG ADVENTURE” but while I was researching quotes to see if any were familiar, I found this:

That’s quite an inspiring little ditty – is it not!

Q6] Since you have begun travelling have you noticed any change in who you have become as a person?

I think I can say yes to that.  Especially after visiting West Africa when I was about twenty-two.  This is going to sound really stupid, but as a teenager, I started to think our family were poor, and that we were missing out on so many things our school friends had.

I realized when I first left Europe that perhaps half of people on this planet do not have a flushing toilet.  Things that I have had my whole life and take for granted like a shower with warm water, electricity to boil the kettle, to toast a slice of bread or central heating, not to mention all the services the local council provides like refuse and recycling collection…there are literally millions upon millions of people who have never had those things and yet…from what we saw, many of them were happy, healthy and incredibly kind to us.

Life was so warm (literally, it was roasting hot!) colourful and people were so friendly and gregarious.  I picked up the journal I kept during my time in Ghana when I was at my parent’s home recently. I still plan to write some posts about our adventures out there and the very special people we met.

When my sister Mandy and I returned to England, we had a completely different outlook on the world than the one we had before we left.

PQ7] What is a great song to get you in the mood for adventuring? [provide link please]
Q8] When on holiday, travelling or adventuring – do you take books/kindle to read or simply rest on the knowledge that your time away is enough to provide all your stimulation anyway?

reading book on beach.jpgOoooh very rarely have I had chance to read when I have travelled.

It seems like a nice idea, lying on the beach and sunbathing and reading a book, but my holidays have usually been to visit friends abroad and they always arrange a jam-packed schedule of trips and excursions.

I think I took a book when I went to Turkey because my friends said they wanted a beach holiday to relax – but it didn’t end up that way!

Q9] Five best holidays you have had and list why?

Oh dear…

Ghana because we had the most incredible dive into African culture and art and music and food.  People made that holiday very very special (well, we did a lot of work out there, but we had chance to spend some days relaxing so I am going to count it as a holiday)

Sweden was spectacular and full of surprises – an adventure beyond all our expectations!

Romania was beautiful and so interesting.  We had so much fun out there and made some amazing friends.

Houston, Texas, USA  when we were staying with friends who lived there. We just happened to plan our first ever trip to the States when it happened to be “All-Stars” basketball weekend in Houston.  I mean “Hello! Welcome to America!”  I have to write a post about that trip one day…it was memorable – to say the least!

Belgium with Mandy, Milly and my mum – we bought so much chocolate.  Then when we came home we wrapped it all up into little parcels with ribbon to give to friends.  It was really nice to have a girly holiday with my sisters and my mum.

Q10] Do you have a favourite blog that deals with adventuring or travelling that you read before you go?

I have not been abroad since I started reading blogs.  I have been reading the posts of several travel bloggers regularly.  Their posts are often quite stunning and they put lots of ideas in my head about where I would like to travel to.

My Dusty Flip-Flops is my favourite travel blogger though!

Q11] Are you a soloist traveller or prefer company?

If I had to, I could travel on my own (as in the transport part of it) but what is the point of travelling without someone wonderful to share it with?

PQ12] What is the most significant lesson you have learned when adventuring?

Don’t forget your toothbrush!  Nah…

I think I would have to say that my travels have confirmed that the mod-cons of the western world do not make us happier.  I have often found that in lands where there was less in a material sense, people were so much happier and friendlier.  I am dying to tell you about a family from Liberia we met…I think I will save it for another post.

Q13]  When in a new location, what are the first five things you check or do to ensure your adventure/holiday is successful?

Ha ha – define successful!  The only thing we worry about is making sure we don’t forget which date our return flights are back because we are having so much fun.

In Africa – drink lots of water! (3-4 litres a day)

In Northern Sweden – don’t go outside without your hat! (in the winter of course)

In Spain –      Cereza =        Cerbeza = 

In USA – don’t eat for three weeks before you go, and don’t eat for six weeks after you go!

In Germany – rules are made for breaking! (Ooooh er – there is a post I need to publish to explain that.)

Q14] Are you a rigid planner for adventures, or just throw a few things into a bag and let the day take you wherever?

At one stage I think I would have been a planner, that was in my nature.  However, almost every holiday I have been on turned out to be an adventure because I let go of worrying and let others whisk us off to the most unbelievable places – way off the tourist route.

When we trust our friends and let them surprise we have been amazed at what they have arranged for us.

PQ15] In your opinion what do you think is needed to make an adventure/holiday really successful?

Friends or family abroad who know the area, and have the time to introduce you to the delights of life in that land. I would rather be in a sleeping bag on the floor of my friend’s living room than in an all-inclusive hotel.  Friends abroad make travel wonderful.

Q16] When adventuring do you have a traditional routine or just go with the flow?

I like trying things I have never tried before!

I go with the flow…some of the friends I have travelled with have a bit of a routine or holiday customs.  But I am happy to “go with the flow” so long as that means seeing new places, eating new foods, singing, dancing, fascinating culture or history or art, lively people, gorgeous scenery.

Q17] Are you totally relaxed when holidaying/adventuring as in let your hair completely down, or hang on to a sense of reticence?

During the day, I love anything outdoors, any opportunity for climbing, hiking, swimming, sailing, scuba diving or anything active is something I would grab.  I love feeling like a kiddo and availing myself of any energetic and unforgettable activities.

I have had a lot of fun when travelling…there is something about being “on holiday” that makes me even braver.  I have done a lot of singing and dancing when abroad and I certainly do have some tales to tell!

Or maybe I will tell them in future posts!

Q18] How important is adventuring/holidaying away to you?

travelerI have always loved opportunities to travel.  Of course I want to travel again in the future.  Right now, my desire to get back to my home on the other side of London is far greater than any desire to travel elsewhere.  I feel lost at the moment.  I hardly have the appetite for anything like adventure until I am feeling settled back at home.

You see it is a wonderful thing to travel knowing you have a home to return to.  I have a very sweet abode currently, but it is not MY HOME.  I need to be home before I have the appetite for travelling.

Q19] Are you completely and utterly true to your personality when ‘away’ or do you become someone else?

I don’t think I change as such.  But the playful side of me is allowed more fun and expression.  I seem to laugh a lot when I am abroad.  For years I have had a jam-packed schedule (don’t we all) where I am always thinking of the next task ahead and it is nice to be on holiday and not to worry about what my next job is.

For some reason I have always felt the need to be a bit of an “entertainer” with friends. When I am abroad on holiday I think I need very little encouragement to get the party going!  I like to see my friends enjoying themselves as much as I am!

PQ20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Q4] Recently l read, and it’s not new about windowless aircraft which will be the future of air travel, what are your views on this?

Windowless planes???

Q21] You have been gifted a 42 day holiday of your dreams all expenses paid – where would you choose to go?

Six weeks!  Ask me this month…. I think I would say South America because I never have been and I would love to go!

Ask me in December and I would say Australia to see my wonderful Goldfinch!

Have I Not Always Wanted To Travel To South America?

Bridget Von Trapp Is Setting Out On A New Adventure

Another gorgeous photo prompt from The Haunted Wordsmith  The Haunted Wordsmith …I have to say I love this one!  It makes me want to gallop.  To skip and jump and do cartwheels.

It makes me think of ADVENTURE, which is something playing on my mind at the moment.  I am starting a new job tomorrow.  I feel a sense of intrepidation even though I am relieved to have left my old job behind. I am telling myself to think of it as another challenge, another adventure, something new to learn, another mountain to conquer.

As one of my all-time favourite characters, from any film I have ever watched, once sang beautifully well, I am feeling a little nervous:

What will this day be like? I wonder.
What will my future be? I wonder.
It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free
My heart should be wildly rejoicing
Oh, what’s the matter with me?

I’ve always longed for adventure
To do the things I’ve never dared
Now here I’m facing adventure
Then why am I so scared?

Countryside, Cropland, Farm, Field, Girl

 

Photo credit Pexels @ pixabay.com

I have a post I need to polish up in my drafts folder.  It is all about what my best friends say about me.  Years ago many of my friends and workmates laughed when they saw the movie bridget jones“Bridget Jones’ Diary”.  They said it is me all over.  Now, I don’t quite agree with that.  You see out of curiosity I watched “Bridget Jones’ Diary” on my own, when it was eventually broadcast on TV…and,maria von trapp because I didn’t like how many swear words I heard, I muted the sound and watched the rest of the film in silence.

In all honesty, I can see why people said I reminded them of Bridget Jones…I am not going to argue with that.  Goodness, even Goldfinch recently called me Bridget Jones.  But my best friends who know me well have hit the nail on the head when they describe me as a 50/50 split of Bridget Jones and Maria Von Trapp.  I would say this….I am trying to live my life like Maria Von Trapp, but it often works out more like Bridget Jones.  But if I had to choose my role-model – Maria would always win!  She is everything I would love to be.  I am a huge Julie Andrews fan, although Renée Zellweger is probably my favourite modern actress.

Back to my present situation…NEW JOB TOMORROW!  Well….I know how things turned out for the lovely Maria.

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries
If I don’t I just know I’ll turn back
I must dream of the things I am seeking
I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance
Face my mistakes without defiance
Show them I’m worthy
And while I show them
I’ll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems
I’ll do better than my best
I have confidence they’ll put me to the test
But I’ll make them see I have confidence in me

Well…I am heading out and about to enjoy my Sunday before the new job starts tomorrow…and this is what I am humming in my head.  Wish me well!

 

 

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/worth-a-thousand-words-13/

https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/2018/07/29/day/

Life Is One Big Adventure Of Discovery When You Are Only A Year Old

IMG_20180709_114323 (2)My niece seems to be developing certain little personality traits that make me wonder with fascination about her future.  At the moment she is collecting things -, all sorts of things – and is investigating everything in the hopes of making acquisitions.

I first noticed it when we were at the beach a couple of days ago.  She was picking up large round pebbles and piles of gritty stones to take home.  Alarmingly, after filling her pockets she decided she would pop a pebble into her mouth to carry it.

But now it is getting a bit personal.  She is always trying to grab my phone and the tablet I borrowed.   I have warned her that if she drops the tablet and smashes the screen, I am claiming her pocket money (whenever she starts to receive pocket money) as compensation.  She has even taken a fancy to my new sandals and she snoops inside my bag whenever she has the opportunity.

She is highly curious and seems to enjoy having her own little back pack to keep her findings as she is running out of room to keep her discoveries tucked into her socks.  Today she seemed to be collecting sticks.  When she is especially proud of her discovery, she presents it to her Mumma with great enthusiasm.

Today we decided to avoid the rain and watch “The Peanuts Movie” with her.  She grabbed the remote control and pressed pause and then ran off giggling.  She also absconded with the bucket of popcorn.  I love the little mischievous ideas that pop into her head.

Love her!  She has so much energy and is always investigating people and objects wherever we go.  Such a little adventurer.

Catrina And Catbells

I would like to introduce you to a very special lady, quite inspirational in truth.  Her story is now one of the most memorable periods of my life and as I look back I know I had a very special privilege that will stay with me forever.

catbells

She was so special, that I have been almost afraid to tell you about her, in case I cannot find the words to do her justice!  Let me try to portray her in the light of those who had the privilege to know her.

As a young woman, Catrina had left school and gone on to study and then attained a full-time job with a generous salary within a local business.  She had achieved all of this and yet she felt her life was in vain.  She did not feel that her career was rewarding.  She knew of others who had been involved in voluntary projects and saw the fulfilment and satisfaction that they manifested.

So Catrina gave up her job and began to get involved with voluntary projects.  She met her husband Darren and together they became immersed in volunteer activity.  They received extensive training and then moved to Africa, where they have lived and worked in several countries.

africa

They lived a life of giving…and were joyful for it.  They touched many people.  Many new babies born in the areas they worked in were named Darren and Catrina.

I have visited one African country, Ghana. But I have family and friends who have lived in various African lands.  Those who have lived there do say that their way of life is quite different in many respects.  They have had to get used to a different climate, different food, a different language in some cases, to frequent visits from local wildlife, numerous bouts of malaria and other unpleasant illnesses, power-cuts, difficulty in obtaining needed equipment.  They love Africa and say it is in their bones now, but, they have found themselves facing challenges which they never imagined.

There were occasions that were overwhelmingly challenging.  The roads in places are almost impassable especially after weather damage.  One of the hardships they experienced was when a team of workmates, who were travelling by bus, were involved in an incident.  Fifteen of their friends were killed.  Darren had to go and identify the bodies and make arrangements for informing their families.

For years they would come over to England for a couple of weeks to visit family and friends and were emanating joy and purpose in life.  I met them when I was seventeen.  They made a profound impression on me.  I wanted to have a smile like that!  For the next fifteen years, I eagerly read every letter and e-mail that was circulated detailing the adventures of Darren and Catrina and accounts of the inspirational people they met out in Africa.

I have mentioned before that I worked as a full-time volunteer in an infirmary caring for patients who were terminally ill or had dementia or were now dependant on nursing care.  However, we also had occasional temporary patients who were volunteers working overseas who had come back to England for some surgery or specialist medical treatment.  I noticed Catrina’s name on the list of scheduled visitors.

At first, I was just very excited at the thought of seeing her again.  I could never have imagined what was ahead for Catrina.  She was coming to England for some tests.  She had still been working full-time as a volunteer the week before their flight to London.  But for about a year she had noticed something was not quite right.  I could fill pages detailing the drama that unfolded over the next few days.

St BartsI am going to fast-forward to the afternoon I was with Darren and Catrina in hospital and they had just been told the news that essentially nothing could be done.  Catrina had cancer pretty much everywhere you can imagine.  That is the only time I saw Catrina cry.  I am going to step outside of the room and retain her privacy.

For the next six weeks Catrina was a resident of our own infirmary.  A room was adapted for her needs and she had the best possible care from our team of volunteer nurses and care assistants.  I told the girls before they even met her,  “This one is really special.  You are all going to fall in love with her very quickly and it is going to be very hard to see her go”.  How right I was!

Catrina was full of life right up to the end.  She was full of joy and full of giving.  The girls who cared for her were completely bowled over by Catrina’s ways.  As soon as the carers walked into her room, Catrina would turn around any enquiries as to how she was that morning into an opportunity to get to know everything about the carer.  She would find ways to get to their inner heart very quickly.  Everybody has memories of the personal advice and encouragement Catrina gave them during her last few weeks.  She busied herself with writing letters and e-mails to people she knew and loved, many of whom were back in Africa.  It think it must have grieved her to think she would not be able to go back to her home in Africa one last time.  She would not dwell on it.  She was going to use every precious moment to keep giving.  Her beautiful words to others will I am sure be treasured for many years to come.

She was one incredibly popular lady.  Many phone-calls came through switchboard for Catrina.  She had scores of gifts posted and a constant queue of visitors, some of whom traveled for hours to be able too see her.  As Catrina started to weaken and tire out more easily we had to limit the numbers of visitors so she could rest and be on her own with her husband Darren.

There was a large team of girls involved in the shifts in the infirmary.  Due to the support we had, I was still able to go away with my family on a trip we had arranged to the Lake District.  We stayed in Penrith and one day walked across a large range during which thick cloud descended and made us become quite lost.  It ended up being a rather long walk and we were all rather achy that evening.  So the next day we wanted an easier walk and I suggested a trip to Keswick and Derwentwater.  The first fell I ever walked up was Catbells  I have always been extremely fond of it.  It is a lovely friendly introduction to the Lake District and fell-walking for those who are not used to it.

I have been over that fell many times.  I like that you ascend rather quickly and are rewarded with stunning views over the lake below.

 view from catbells

When I returned to London, Catrina wanted to hear all about my family and my weekend away in the Lake District.  She asked me many questions about Keswick and about Catbells.  She seemed to be fascinated by it.  She made me go over and over the route to get to the base of Catbells and how the path climbs quickly.  I told her of the little island I always look out for where we have had adventures on holidays as a child.  She seemed deeply curious about Catbells and Keswick.

A week later I was caring for Catrina.  Darren had been invited to go for dinner with some friends.  Catrina wanted him to accept the invitation because she was sure they would be good for him.  He was glad I was there and Catrina kept reassuring him that she was very pleased to have my company.  Catrina asked me to put some music on selecting specific songs from her laptop.  She also asked me to shave her legs.  She told me they were really getting on her nerves.   I remember the first song on her playlist.  She told me Africa was in her bones and she considered it her true home.  True enough, she was sad at the thought of all those she loved so dearly and the shock news they had received of how ill she was.

Whenever I hear the soundtrack to Out Of Africa I remember Catrina.  Another song that was on her playlist….

….well, I cannot listen to that song at all anymore without ending up sobbing on account of Catrina.

The next day was the first time I saw Catrina was struggling.  I had helped her wash and dress.  She was expecting some important visitors who had lived out in the same area of Africa years before.  They had helped to arrange for Catrina to be cared for within the infirmary.  Catrina always used to apply her own cosmetics or make-up.  She had not had any difficulties until that day.  I left her room for a moment to put the towels we had used away and make something for her to drink.  When I came back poor Catrina had completely missed her eye-lids with her eyeliner.  She had drawn thick brown lines a centimeter or so below her eyes.  She seemed a bit confused.  I helped her to adjust her make-up before her guests arrived.  When they asked how she was, she told them that she was starting to find it really hard to concentrate which was frustrating because she had so many letters to write.

The next day Catrina took her last breaths.

After the Doctor issued a death certificate, I helped to prepare her body before the undertakers took her away.  Catrina had told us what to dress her in.  We tried to comfort Darren who was distraught.  To see Catrina who had been so full of life and joy and unselfish giving lying there completely lifeless was very odd.

Hundreds attended Catrina’s funeral.  Many others who were unable to travel linked in from other countries using an internet service.  Hundreds in their home town in Africa gathered to watch a broadcast of the funeral service.

After the funeral, Darren spoke to me and my best friend Marta.  He had a letter from Catrina.  Inside there was a photograph of the two of them from years ago.  It was a photograph they had taken during their honeymoon.  Darren asked me if I knew where the location was.  As soon as my eyes settled on the photograph I was startled with surprise.  Why, it was Catbells!!  The two of them were together on the top of Catbells looking down over Derwentwater.  I knew that view immediately.  Sure enough their honeymoon had been up in the Lake District and they had walked up one and only one fell, Catbells.

In the letter were specific instructions from Catrina about what she wished Darren to do with her ashes.  She had written him one of the most beautiful love letters I have ever seen.  She thanked him for the life-time they had shared.  She had lived, she had really lived.  She could not imagine any other life than the adventure they had shared.  Her expressions of love for him were deeply moving and as you may well imagine, Darren, Marta and I were all sobbing as we poured over Catrina’s letter.

Darren carried out all of Catrina’s wishes.  He returned to Africa which is just what she had hoped.  He still lives the same life of joy and giving.  When he returns to London he makes sure he comes to see the little team of carers who he says are like his sisters.  We certainly did keep an eye on him for many months before he left England and we have kept in touch since.

Catrina is very much alive in our minds and hearts.  She was a trail-blazer.  A life full of life, full of joy and full of giving.  She wasted none of it.  She kept on loving and kept on giving right to the end.  She is remarkably memorable for every good reason.  And whenever I have been to Catbells or even see a photograph… I see Catrina.  I see Catrina smiling and laughing.  There she is in our hearts, inspiring those who had the privilege of knowing her.  Her ashes…floated off in a breeze over Catbells… her honeymoon memory of the man she had shared her life with.

That is just a few pages of the story of Catrina…whose life could fill many thousands of pages.  That is just a short shapter on Catrina and Catbells.

 

Sleep tight Catrina…xx  You are unforgettable and inspirational.

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