Tag Archives: giving

A Gem Amongst Men

I have seen a picture crop up on Pixabay. It is a hard picture to see. A young boy sits looking the absolute picture of misery. He has injuries- his knee, his mouth, his eye. He looked lonely and unloved – neglected.

It is a hard picture to see….

Outdoors, Grass, Summer, Field, Sunset, Clouds, Bench

Years ago….around twenty years ago, I used to work closely with a man who had been a champion sportsman – winning many titles and awards and championships. He was a remarkable man – but it was not his career in sport that made him one of the most adored men I knew – it was his career as a full-time volunteer for charities he was passionate about that made him a very very loved man.

I was sixteen when I met him, and I went on to have the privilege of working closely with him for around ten years. I remember asking him what had motivated him to make the decision to turn his back on his career in sport at the height of his success.

He told me that he felt deeply moved by the state of many of the people he had met in his work as a volunteer. He said when he got to know some people, and the way they felt about their existence, it was like a little boy sitting on a bench, shivering in the cold, mucky face, malnourished, injuries from accidents, showing all of the signs of neglect. He told me that when he spoke to these people, getting to know their stories, it was like asking a little boy, “Where do you live? Where are your parents?”…and the answer from the little boy, “I don’t have a home. I was told that my parents abandoned me. I am all alone in this world.”

He told me he was deeply moved by his experiences. Realizing how many people felt neglected, abandoned, uncared for….he just knew he could not turn away from the desperate situation of people. Where did this all occur? In England – one of the “wealthiest” nations. People were impoverished of hope and purpose.

Heart, Leaf, Autumn, Maple, Bokeh Lights

I thought of him today as I saw the autumn leaves all over the pavement. He used to rise early, and sweep the leaves from the pavements that had gathered overnight around the building where he lived to prevent anyone from slipping. The local council realized what he was doing. So they decided to show their appreciation by erecting beautiful hanging baskets all around the lampposts that surrounded that building. They would come and water them every day. It was one of the ways they expressed their thanks for all that he did in his role as a volunteer to benefit and inspire people in his community.

In the course of my career, I have met thousands of volunteers. When I have got to know them, so many of them have told me that they were so moved, and had so much appreciation for the personal interest, the extraordinary kindness and sincere love that they saw in this wonderful man. He has been such an inspiration to so many volunteers for decades.

I am so grateful that I met and worked with and was a close friend of one of the most lovely men to walk the streets of London. He is a gem amongst men.

Heart, Wood, Love, Sunset, Romantic

I met someone the other day who told me about all of their accomplishments in education, and the career it has led to, and the value of the house they bought, and their car, and the cost of their wedding, and the yacht, oh yes, of course there was going to be a yacht!….and whilst outwardly saying “how admirable that you have been able to stick to one field for so long” (lol – can you tell I was completely not impressed) inwardly I rolled my eyes. What a complete and utter pathetic waste! I don’t call this success – I call this a monstrous failure of an education – for someone to leave thinking that is all about what they can acquire….rather than all that they can give….from the heart…to touch the hearts of the many millions of people who are impoverished of hope and purpose.

I Couldn’t Have Been Happier

Happiness comes fairly easily to me I must admit. It is not a constant, because there are things that make me sad and painful, even traumatic memories. But it’s not hard to muster up happiness, and it is my default frame of mind. I have just been working on a post for one of these blogging award nominations, and one of the questions was about what makes me happy. I compiled a little list:

  • made up.jpgMy family
  • Lovely friends
  • A sense of purpose
  • Work that feels as if I am making a difference to someone’s life
  • A clean conscience
  • Great food
  • Hiking and swimming
  • Music
  • Starry skies, rainbows and stunning sunsets
  • Flowers, forests, lakes, rivers
  • Mountains, beaches and meadows
  • Animals or all sizes and shapes
  • and last on this list, but most certainly not least is Goldfinch – who made me happy every day I was in Australia

And I would like to state that when I was with Goldfinch I felt happy from head to toe. Goldfinch had to work of course while I was out there. Five days a week was work. But at the weekend he could take me to wonderful places. He has an office at home. I made sure I didn’t disturb him unnecessarily, as he had a lot to keep him busy.

my daily walk.pngI sometimes went out on my own, not just to see places (I did visit some lovely places) but also just to wander up to the local shops, which were about a forty-five minute walk away, and I would shop for ingredients and then walk back to Goldfinch’s home and start cooking or baking according to a recipe I had picked out from the BBC Food Website. I loved that little routine, I loved the walk. I loved the sense of purpose I had that I was going to make something, hopefully delicious, for Goldfinch to enjoy after he had been working all day.

happy clean.jpgI could not have been happier cleaning, sweeping, mopping, washing and ironing. I even rearranged the contents of some cupboards, cleaned out the tenant’s fridge (and the tenants bathroom), swept the patio and the leaves that had collected in little corners of the yard outside, washed all of the windows – inside and out (there are a lot of windows in his home, and after several days of trying to get the petrol lawn mower going, I went a bit crazy with trying to prime the motor and eventually got the thing started, which meant I could mow the grass front, side and back of the property.

DIY.jpgIn addition Goldfinch and I spent a weekend immersed in DIY – we put up a whole wall of IKEA kallaxes (if you unfamiliar with kallaxes, they are shelving units that you can arrange to fit the space you want and you can add drawers or cupbaord doors into individual squares or leave them open as you like), and we moved furniture from where it was in storage into his house, we insulated the garage door, we hung up lots of his pictures. I loved working along with him.

And this is the thing…I was so happy. Goldfinch may have been surprised at how I chose to spend my time while he was working. He kept on telling me how much he appreciated what I was doing along with lovely hugs and kisses. But I found the more I did around the house, the happier I felt. I was giving. I was working with a purpose. I was showing love in a practical way to the man I am in love with. I was so happy, so deeply happy.

take my handAnd whenever he took my hand, which he frequently did and being in his arms at night, wrapped up tightly, feeling his kisses on the back of my shoulder…I didn’t want it to ever end. And I am missing him like crazy! Missing thinking and planning and giving and loving every day with him as my priority. Saving my money so I can be back with him again and feel that happiness invade every part of my body.

I don’t think everyone will understand, I don’t think Goldfinch would really understand – but life with him made me deeply happy.



Dream Dress… And The Moral Of The Story Is…

Screenshot_2018-04-13-19-48-11I heard a story a while ago about motives.  Forgive me for not remembering the exact words but I think you will agree it is an effective thought provoking tale.

It is about a man who loves his wife.  He knows she is a wonderful woman and is proud of her.  He does not doubt her loyalty to him.  He sees how beautifully she keeps the home and how much effort she puts in to keeping the whole family looking smart and remaining healthy.  He truly loves his wife.

He takes his wife out one day and as they  are walking along, she suddenly becomes distracted by something.  He turns around to see his wife is staring into a shop window with her nose pressed up against the glass.  Inside the window is a dress, a very beautiful dress that has caught her attention.  He remarkswindow shopping to his wife that it is a pretty dress.  She says “It is gorgeous!”  He asks his wife how much it costs, to which she responds, “Oh don’t worry, I am only looking,, it is too expensive really.  I just thought it was beautiful.”

After the day together, the man thinks about how his wife was gazing at the dress she thought was so beautiful.  He thinks about how much he loves his wife and how good she is to him and the family.  He decides he will buy her that dress she liked as a gift.  A surprise.  She will not be expecting it, their anniversary is three months away.  It will be a way just to show how much he loves and appreciates her.

So he goes back to the shop the next day and takes a closer look at the dress.  He discovers the price and is a little horrified at first and is inclined to think about looking for a dress that is much less expensive, but then he remembers he wants to show his giftwife how much he loves her.  He has even gone to the trouble of looking at the size of her  other dresses in her closet to make sure he will pick the correct size.  He buys the dress and he asks the store assistant to wrap it carefully in gift-paper and include a large bow.

He takes the gift home and sneaks it into the bedroom for his wife to find later.  That evening he is with her when she finds the box with her surprise inside.

She unfastens the bow and removes the lid from the box.  She takes the protective crepe paper that is around the dress.  She cannot believe her eyes.  It is that dress, the beautiful dress she saw in the window.  She is so thrilled. She embraces her husband.  He smiles like a cheshire cat as he observes her reaction. She tries the dress on.  Will it fit?  It fits!  It fits perfectly.  She twirls around and looks at the dress in the mirror.

Who is the best husband in the world???!!!

best husband

She is so ecstatic.  She embraces her husband again and thanks him with tears in her eyes.  She looks up at him and thanks him and asks him why he has given her such a beautiful gift now out of the blue?

Then… he opens his mouth and ruins everything:

“Well….you have been looking kind of tired and miserable lately.  And I know you have put weight on because you have been comfort eating.  You have been rather irritable with me and the kids.”


The dress comes off.  The dress is back in the box.  “Take it back!  Take it back!  I don’t want it.  You think I’m fat and miserable and I look tired.  You think I am irritable!  Take it back!”



Well, you may feel for the husband a little here.  But doesn’t this little story show that it’s not just the gift but the motive that counts.  It is very likely that when we give we do deep down have genuine motives.  But how does our gift come across?

The gift might not be a dress, it might be our time, our words, our listening ear, cooking a meal for someone or any kind of token.  But is there a question mark over why we are giving?  Is it begrudgingly given?  Do we feel it is a compulsory must to give something, but give little thought to the gift?  Or do we say or do something which spoils the gift and takes all the joy out of it?

Ever since I heard that story…I have tried to think things through a bit more when it comes to any giving…I don’t want to be in a rut of doing things by rote without putting my heart in to them.  I want the gift I give to send a message that is harmony with the rest of my thoughts towards the recipient.

Someone super wise was reported to say “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving”.  That is a super lovely truth that I don’t ever want to lose sight of.

love heart









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.


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.


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.



I Don’t Know Where These Strong Opinions Are Coming From

I have seen a few things that have slightly irritated me. Don’t worry, I am not a person who gets highly strung. But I am scratching my head at some of the things I am seeing. I am starting to sense strong opinions brewing within me.

Mansion, House, Home, Estate

I saw a clip of someone very very wealthy sitting in his palatial home, relaxing in his sauna, swimming in his pool, working out in his gym watching a movie on his huge TV screen and telling the rest of the world they need to socially isolate, stop going out socially, cancel parties, holidays, nights out – it all needs to be cancelled until it is safe to resume.

Now the thing is…he is right. Please do exactly that! However, I could not help raise my eyebrows. I wish he had not shown us his palace. How many of us have a home gym, a swimming pool, cinema room and sauna  in our homes? What a twit!!! He should realize that many of us live in tiny homes and self-isolating is going to be challenging (but absolutely necessary!)

ceebsI have never been a big fan of celebrities, well no, that’s not fair. I’m not talking about people who are in the public eye, it’s people with too much money that I am talking about. I have never been a big fan of people who are allowed to earn an inordinate amount of money and then display their money in the form of swanky houses, designer clothes and handbags, private jets etc.

I am watching them now. Watching them closely. Are they going to sit on their fortunes admonishing everyone else to self-isolate and practice social distancing and not lift a finger to help everyone who is losing jobs and scared about losing their homes?

Who on earth needs more than £1 million? So when I hear that there are people out there, whether they are celebrities or not, with tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of pounds or dollars, I hope they think about giving away the vast majority of their ridiculous fortunes. If not…well, I am never going to buy their albums or watch their films, or cheer them on when they play their teams. Now I know that last sentence does cover celebrities, but I also hope that those of the ridiculously rich who are not in the public eye also pay heed.

Teamwork, Team, Construction, BuildingI have been volunteering for charities since I was sixteen and I have always been annoyed with celebrities who make token gestures. I love and respect Jack because he has given up almost all of the money he has earned and given up the chance to earn any more money so that he could be an international volunteer. He shares a flat with a bunch of other volunteers while he is in England, the rest of the time he works for charities abroad and he has to accept whatever basic accommodation is available. But those celebrities who live in palaces and get involved with charity to make themselves look good – grrrr! I have close to zero appreciation for them I am afraid.

wed (2)If you are reading this and you happen to possess a ridiculous amount of money – would you please think about giving almost all of it away in order to help the human family? Afterall, you are one of us. We are all family. In times of crises family should share. Family should love. Thanks for the clips of you sitting in luxury telling us to practice social distancing and telling us not to raid the supermarkets…but it would be great to know you cared enough to be prepared to give up your fortunes to help others.

Believe me…the love you show will be remembered more than anything you ever did to earn that money. I have a feeling that soon a lot of your “fans” are not going to be able to afford your tickets, merchandise, autobiographies. Nobody is going to care what you are wearing or how you style your hair. We will be interested in what you do to help your fellow human family in a time of crisis. So you may have to be prepared for financial losses ahead. I do hope you have learnt by now that love is far more precious than money.

I Borrowed Another Credit Card

I have been the recipient of another wave of generosity this week and so I realize it is incumbent on me to continue the giving craze that Teresa aka The Haunted Wordsmith began. So as well as the latest gift that I have received, I have three more gifts for three other bloggers below.

This week, Rory, the creator of A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip! gave me a very thoughtful gift as you can see below:

“With Goldfinch currently not there to make her day a sparkle, l got her these. a Complete set of carefully disguised as decoration baubles, but they are actually a set of ‘Everyday is a Glitter Shower Day!’ Yep, you can programme to explode when you need them the mostest and they will cover you from head to foot in a special glittery pixie dust and they ensure happiness!”


Well, so far so good Rory…I think… although next time I think I ought to wear goggles to protect my eyes in the shower.


So, as I never go into debt and refuse to have a credit card of my own, I have had to borrow another credit card (don’t tell Fandango!!! – I took it from the clothes he abandoned last time he went skiing) and so, I thought I would carry on with my generous streak.

The first gift today goes to Sandmanjazz, who I have only been following recently (I have not seen that picture by the way), but whom I believe likes a bit of jazz. So I am giving to him his own jazz club:

Then my next gift goes to My Dusty Flip-Flops, who is a fantastic travel blogger. So I have decided to buy the Lady Moura yacht along with it’s helicopter and smaller speedboat (kept within the hull) so that Dusty can set sail to various locations and write up super posts for us all to enjoy:

My last gift is for Jay-lyn Doerksen, the creator of The Wonderful and Wacky World of One Single Mom.

Jay-lyn has been very kind sending me very empathetic messages in recent months. She knows what it is like to have a long-distance relationship and I appreciate all of her lovely comments.

So to Jay-lyn I give a palace that she and her loved one can move into so that they can be together always and not separated by distance:

Well…before Fandango is back from the ski slopes and notices his credit card is missing, I better stop myself there.

Just Put It All On Teresa’s Credit Card

They do say that there is more happiness in giving than receiving. I am sure many of you are having just as much fun as I am at giving gifts to other bloggers who have cheered you up many a time this year. This was all started by Teresa, aka The Haunted Wordsmith.

I have recently received a gift from Suze Suze, the creator of suziland too or obsolete childhood which was a very fitting contribution to my elongated goodbye homage to my beloved Goldfinch:


“…To Mel over at CrushedCaramel…

 who is having a truly difficult time saying goodbye to her beloved canary…

or is it a GoldFinch?…”


Well my first gift this time round is going to the britchy one the britchy one, the creator of  Bitchin’ in the Kitchen. Not only does she make me laugh all the time, she has a very sweet caring side to her and has often taken the time to send me a very kind message to cheer me up. Recently she has exalted me, giving me the special epitaph “the Caramel goddess” – which is a clear promotion from “the Caramel Queen” another blogger labelled me as some time ago.

Well, since the secret is out about my high up connections, I might as well flaunt it by being generous in my gift-giving. So to lovely Britchy I thought I would give a holiday home in Tenerife. It is big enough to take her whole family, if she chooses, and cats. Although, I would not advise letting the cats wander too far from the villa.

During your stays there, every morning the bakery next door will deliver fresh churros for breakfast:



My second gift would be for HistorianRuby HistorianRuby, the creator of HistorianRuby: An Historian’s Miscellany. Ruby’s site is full of fascinating posts about historical people, places, and events that have all had a knock-on effect to life as we know it today. She clearly loves to research and publishes beautiful posts that are an absolute joy to read.

I thought of giving Ruby The Time Machine from H.G. Wells, but I believe another blogger has already gifted it. So I am going to go one better. You probably know that in the “Back To The Future” movies, most of the time travel is done in the DeLorean car. However, right at the end of the third movie after the DeLorean is destroyed, the future of time travel appears – a train that has been modified for time travel. I think Ruby would know just what to do with this gift and I am sure she would write amazing posts as a follow up to her adventures!

And to enjoy with her family, I also give to Ruby some vintage wine from Teresa’s wine-cellar (what you have never heard about Teresa’s wine cellar before?):


I also saw something I wanted to give to Melanie B Cee Melanie B Cee, the creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind. Melanie is also a blogger who frequently cheers me up with very lovely comments.

I saw something that made me think of Hunny Dog:

However, Hunny Dog is not a blogger, it is just a little extra thrown in as I am putting all of this on Teresa’s credit card. For Melanie, I wanted to make sure that she had a matching boudoir so that Hunny Dog does not have nicer digs than Melanie.

I was also thinking that you are often busy with various commitments and appointments and you have at times had to deal with incompetent drivers who park in the wrong places etc. So I thought one of these royal sedan chairs may help:


From now on whenever you need to go out, just click your fingers and a complimentary team of well built muscular young men will appear, and they will carry you anywhere you need to go. They do need feeding though Melanie – they eat a lot – but since you are so great at looking after Hunny Dog, I am sure you will be able to feed your new “wheels”. They would be extremely happy with your sandwiches or home-made pizza!

When you don’t need them to carry the sedan chair, the guys are very helpful around the house. I have personally trained all of them in all house-keeping duties.

From now on, you will be given respect from others on the public highways. Parking will never be an issue again, as the sedan chair can be taken inside most buildings. They can take you right inside the building you are going to. They are not great on the stairs though, this model does not fit inside an average sized elevator. (Although it does just about fit into a maintenance elevator – but why would you want to travel in a maintenance elevator?)


There we go…that’s enough giving for one day!



I Give To You And You Give To Me

IMG_1345I have been looking forward to finding out what the theme would be for “SONG-LYRIC-SUNDAY” and I am delighted with it! Today’s theme is GIVE/GIVING as you can see in the post from Helen Vahdati, the creator of This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time.


I knew instantly which song to link today because I have just watched a movie which is kind of special to me because of the night I met Goldfinch one year ago exactly. “Breathe” was the film I never got to see because Goldfinch and I became rather distracted with each other.

When I watched it this weekend, I became rather choked up because one year after meeting Goldfinch it is easy to imagine loving him forever, loving him through both fair and hard times. It is going to be a huge wrench to say goodbye to him when he goes back to Australia.

It is exactly one year since I met Goldfinch and used my extra hour (end of British Summertime the clocks go back one hour) chatting with him and falling in love with him.

In the movie “Breathe” the characters played by Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy are dancing together to the famous Cole Porter song “True Love”, which was of course a famous part of the classic movie “High Society”, a musical remake of “The Philadelphia Story”.

While I give to you
And you give to me,
True love, true love.

Honeymooners at last alone.
Feeling far above par.
Oh, how lucky we are!
While I give to you
And you give to me,
True love, true love.
So on and on
It’ll always be,
True love, true love.
For you and I
Have a guardian angel
On high, with nothin’ to do.
But to give to you
And to give to me,
Love forever true.


And just in case you did not have chance to see the movie last year, here is a trailer for the film “Breathe”:

Lucy… Showed What She Would Do If Only Things Were Different

cyclist.jpgLucy… I am sad to say I did not know her anywhere near as much as I would have liked to.  I met Lucy on a voluntary project many years ago.  Only she was too young to be on the construction site. Insurance would only allow us to use volunteers who were aged 16 and over. However, Lucy was part of a team who baked cakes to feed the volunteers on site.  We saw her every day.  I remember how much she wished she was old enough to be on the construction site.  Lucy was a teenager full of life, she was active and loved sports and dancing and being active.

runnerI have to take you forward now a few years.  I found out that Lucy had been through an ordeal with her health. I heard that Lucy had cancer.  I don’t know where it started, but it had spread into her bones.  Lucy was a teenager.  So many of us are effected by cancer.  It seems to have touched every family on the planet. Maybe you can imagine the mix of emotions that both Lucy and her family went through.

I heard that Lucy had eventually been told they would have to remove one of her legs.  It was after that when I saw Lucy again.  I worked with her on another voluntary project.  This time Lucy was old enough to be on the construction site.  Only there were so many tasks it was not safe for Lucy to be involved with.  Yet she did what she could.  She was asked to join the purchasing team.  She threw herself into her assigned role.  I am certain she would have loved to have been climbing up scaffolding and taking wheel-barrows from one end of the site to another.  But she was happy to be involved in any way she could.

ClimberLucy said that she had always been encouraged by the phrase:  “I can run, I can skip, I can hop…but I cannot fly”.

Ironically for Luc,y she was at that time not able to do some of those things with the ease she had before her operation.  She explained that it is better to make the most of what you can do and not to become bitter about what you can’t do.  Better not bitter.

I am sure Lucy may have had her tearful moments, but she lit up the room when she arrived with her effervescent smiles and laughter.  Lucy had a very giving nature.  She had a hope in her heart that convinced her that her situation was temporary.  She had many family and friends who loved her dearly.

But my outstanding memory of Lucy was a couple of years before I became a full-time volunteer.  I went to a training session where they had invited those already involved in voluntary projects to consider if they could give up their homes and jobs to make themselves fully available.  They made it very clear that this would not be for the faint-hearted  or the half-hearted.  The lifestyle would be demanding and tough.  Idancert meant a lot of personal sacrifice and endurance, both physically and emotionally.  The qualifications were very particular and included a pretty much perfect bill of health.

I was very interested in being a full-time volunteer.  They made it clear that it is mostly strong, healthy young men that are selected because of the nature of the work as well as the difficult living conditions.  I had applied for seven years in a row but had never been selected.  I just knew though, that having it as a goal was shaping my life, my mindset, influencing all of my decisions.  Even if I never made it… I was convinced that it was the best goal possible and was having a wonderful effect on my life.

At that training session something moved me to my core though.  Lucy walked into the meeting.  With her crutches, and her one remaining leg, she made her way towards the seating area and as soon as she saw me, she headed my way.  She sat beside me and we chatted.  Lucy told me how much she had loved all of the projects she had been involved with.  She told me that if things were different, her dream was to be a full-time volunteer being able to be sent on any assignment anywhere in the world she was needed.

I held her hand throughout the training session.  I had a few tears brimming over my eye-lids because I was so deeply touched by what Lucy had said to me.  I have often thought about what Lucy said.  “If things were different….”  Sigh!

constructionThat wonderful girl showed what was in her heart. She did everything she could to support voluntary projects in her area.  She would have loved to have been a full-time volunteer able to be sent to any area of need in the world.  Imagine at the age of 14, having one of your legs removed.  There may have been many other things she would have liked to have done… but her dream was a life of full-time giving.

Lucy…. aaaah… it breaks my heart to tell you this.  Lucy went to sleep in death about three months after I sat there in that training session holding her hand.  She was around 18 years of age.

I often remembered her expressing to me that it was her dream to be a full-time volunteer.  She gave me another reason to reach out to that goal myself.  I had many reasons, but now one was reason was to do it for Lucy.

roofersOne day, I would love to work with Lucy again.  Only this time I would like to see her up on the roof where I know she would have loved to have worked.  She would have loved to be part of a roofing team.

I can see her now in my mind’s eye.  She would help build houses for those who needed them.  I am sure Lucy would be willing to go anywhere she was needed, to any corner of the world.

Next time, I am able to work with Lucy, things will be very different.  I am sure there will be tears brimming over my eye-lids again.  But very different tears.  Tears of joy that at last Lucy has her dream.

Aaaaaaw Lucy Lucy … we truly love our Lucy!