Adventures with Alfie. Day 1

Friday 7th September 2012

Today, for the first time, K8 and Jas trusted me with the little miracle we sometimes call Alfie. K8 has gone back to work part time and I have agreed to care for Alfie on a Friday while she & Jas are working.

Big responsibility…but also big opportunity for fun and adventures together.

Been thinking… as Alfie was born in Cardiff I thought I had better get to work introducing him to the wonderful city of his birth. So today we took our first trip into Cardiff alone together. I think we were both excited as we boarded the train from Eastbrook – I decided on the train in case the bus pushchair space was taken and I had to do a quick fold up on the first day – and made our way into Cardiff. I think he’s going to like trains as he smiled all the way in!First stop of course was The Hayes Island Snack Bar where we sat and watched the Paralympics on the big screen. I toyed with the idea of a bacon roll, the smell wafting over the pigeon droppings was so tempting. Then the flashbacks started and I remembered the encounter with the seagull in October, so today I gave it a miss.
I think Alfie enjoyed it here, he smiled all the time!

After some time here we moved on to Ashton’s the fishmonger in Cardiff Market. He was amazed at all the ugly faces on display, but shook his head when I offered him one of my cockles…Hmmmm, some work to do there. I had already asked for ‘the usual please’ when the girl with the broad Caaardiff accent asked if she could help.
I think Alfie liked it here, he smiled all the time!

We strolled around the market and I showed Alfie where he could buy a pig’s head or an ox heart when he was bigger, he didn’t seem all that interested. All changed though when we took the lift upstairs to look at the pets! He loved the budgies and the rabbits. I thought about surprising K8 and Jas with a mouse or a rat, but thought better of it. One shop had an albino rabbit…I thought…albino, you can’t say fairer than that!
I think Alfie liked it here he smiled all the time!

By now it was getting close to food time. I want to help bring Alfie up proper like, so I decided today not to have a bacon roll in the market with the real Caaaardiff people but to go to Howells, where I felt I would have a better chance of a high chair and my tea in a pot instead of a polystyrene cup! On the way to my usual haunt on the top floor, I saw a sign, which said Café Zest, so I tried it! What a find! Plenty of space and definitely a refined clientele. It was like Fifty Shades of Grey, with all the old dears there. I think I was the youngest by a few years. Alfie wowed them all with his smiling and giggling. Big bonus…. they had a bacon roll and a pot of tea on special offer. I was in heaven. I ordered mine and a rack of toast for the little ‘un and we spent a very pleasant hour with the blue rinse brigade who all left talking about my little miracle! Perhaps that’s why it’s called the Café Zest, these old grippers has a certain zest for life and were great with the little man.
I think Alfie liked it here, he smiled all the time!

We made our way back to the station meandering through the Cardiff Arcades and the charity shops in Central Square and bought a beautiful shirt, Bargain!

I think Alfie liked this part of the trip as he smiled all the way!

We arrived home mid afternoon, looked at each other, shook hands and agreed… Fridays are going to be fun!

Then Alfie smiled!!

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Adventures with Alfie Day 2

Day 2 Friday 14th September 2012

I understand that Alfie hasn’t slept too well for the last couple of nights…he must have been getting excited about Adventures Day 2.

It started with a sleepover. Great news for us and Boo especially, as she got to see more of the little man. He had his bath and supper and then went to sleep in the nursery…that little bit of kid’s paradise that the lady of the house has set up for our grandkids…and a load of other kids too! … to enjoy. It’s a beautiful little place for the wonderful little people in our lives. The latest addition…a farmyard complete with a load of animals is going down a treat, well worth that early morning visit to Splott Mearkatt, to visit our old friend the ‘toy doctor’. She’s a lovely lady who rescues and renovates toys. Alfie had a good sleep and was awake early.

My mum was always a very positive person and one thing she always taught me was ‘rain before seven…sun before eleven, so when we got up today and saw the rain lashing down, I wasn’t too bothered: I just looked and the great lady’s photo on top of the cupboard and smiled…so did Alfie.  He, like me, was looking forward to a great day.

By the time the lady of the house had been taken off to work, the blue sky was just breaking through. As soon as we got back to the house, Alfie smiled – not because he was happy, but because he had got me! The smell gave the game away… a full nappy this early. I was torn, what a choice, eat my bran flakes first and then change the nappy or change the nappy, then maybe not feel like bran flakes. The nappy won! I remembered the early years of fatherhood… remove all you can with the nappy, then wipe with a wet wipe…but disaster Boo – had gone to work without leaving me any wet wipes. Fortunately I remembered that I always keep a supply of Andrex Wet Ones near the loo for when Princess Mia is in attendance. After a few minutes looking for a nappy pin, before remembering they were disposables, I had him back clean and tidy. Job done, Alfie comfortable, and I still managed my bran flakes!

Nap time followed and while he was asleep, I played that game that all mums play at this time – see how many jobs I can do before the precious little darling wakes up. I got most of them done today, in order of importance – check Facebook, check e-mails, have a quick look at Sky Sports news followed by the BBC news, quick visit to The Jeremy Kyle show, followed by make the beds, tidy the lounge and wash the breakfast things. I only failed on the final one. I lied about the quick visit to Jeremy Kyle. I love watching it all…open mouthed and bemused most of the time!

After Alfie’s morning nap we were set to visit Cardiff Bay and the second chapter in his education of the wonderful city of his birth. I thought about the bus, but to get to the Bay, it’s a 95 into town then a Bendy Bus to the Bay, so I went by car. We parked near the Coal Exchange and I showed Alfie the building and explained that it was where the world’s first £1million cheque changed hands. He smiled and I thought about the nappy and moved quickly on. I took him down all the narrow passageways, where in years gone by, in the days of Tiger Bay, they were places where you would not have dared venture alone! It was fun.

We made Mermaid Quay and it was a beautiful day. I looked up and was sure I sensed my mum smiling down.  It was just before eleven. Oh how she would have loved Alfie!!  Although this side of heaven she will never see him, she knew one day God would hear K8’s prayers – and He did – and bless her and Jas with a little one to call their own. None of us could ever have imagined anything as beautiful and I have him all to myself once a week. Priceless!

As we strolled peacefully across to the Millennium Centre, Alfie was taking it all in and smiling at every single passer by. I am sure every single passer by smiled back – this little fella makes the world a happier place. The Oval Basin was a hive of activity and it appears there was a Car Rally or something on. I am sure Alfie was thinking ‘Find me a rally car grampy’ but all we managed was a big picture of a rally car, where we had a photo shoot and a load of huge lorries. I got chatting to a street entertainer who claimed he could make balloon animals whilst riding on a monocycle…I said to Alfie “He probably makes thing up as he goes a long.” Alfie smiled.

Next we made our way passed the Welsh Assembly Government building, once the domain of Chris Franks but now a quieter less interesting place. We were aiming for the Norwegian Church where Roald Dahl was christened and his family attended years ago. I am just longing for the day when I can sit the grandkids down and read The Vicar of Nibbleswick, The Great Mouse Plot and Mrs Pratchett’s Revenge and many other Roald Dahl stories. I had so much fun reading them to the hundreds of children I taught and look forward to getting ‘Boy’ off the shelf and sharing the treasures inside with Mia, Millie and Alfie! I am sure Alfie liked it here, I could tell!

On the way back to Mermaid Quay a coach arrived with a big notice in the window ‘Wales Team Coach’. I thought that’s a big bus for Chris Coleman, maybe I can help him out with some new tactics…he needs it! However it turned out to be the Wales Ladies Football Team. We got chatting and we wished them all the best in tomorrow’s match and then they agreed to have a picture with Alfie. I asked if they needed a mascot for match days and they said when he was a bit older they would definitely have him, I said no…me not him! This very pretty centre forward looked me up and down and said “Sorry Fatboy, too old, too grey and too ….chubby! Come back when Alfie has grown a bit!”

It was getting towards food time, so when we arrived back near Coffee Mania, I was wondering where to go and Alfie flashed a Starbucks card, so Starbucks it was. Annoyingly there was no highchair, so I waited till the leather sofa was free, tucked Alfie into the corner and opened his packed lunch. I had laughed when I made them earlier in the morning I had prepared two pieces of Braces Extra Thick bread with extra thick butter, only to open the fridge and find the two pieces of medium sliced wholemeal K8 had left. Gutted Alfie… but he enjoyed them sat there in Starbucks. The Wales Ladies Football team arrived while we were there, obviously on the look out for that good looking fella they had seen earlier, but I kept Alfie tucked away so they wouldn’t notice him him.

We strolled through the Bay back to the car enjoying the autumnal sunshine and each other’s company. When we arrived back home I turned around to see Alfie; he had a hint of a smile on his face and a finger in his ear and I thought how wonderful he is, but the smile turned to a beam as Bes came out and swept him away. As he went I am sure he winked at me and whispered ‘Looking forward to next Friday grampy…’

Bes took him away smiling.

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Alfie with his new pet!

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The Wales Ladies Football Team with future mascot Alfie Jay Newberry

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Cardiff Bay

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Friends…enjoying a Starbucks!

Alfie..you are loved!

Adventures with Alfie – Day 3

Friday 21st September 2012

I have two favourite sayings when I am with my family. The first is when the house gets in a mess I always say…”It’s like the Billybanks in here!’ and secondly, when I come home at night only to find that my dear ones have tried to annoy me by putting on every single light in the house, I am heard to lament ‘Welcome to Blackpool everyone, enjoy the illuminations!’ Blackpool speaks for itself, but for those not in the know, the Billybanks was a block of scruffy council flats in Penarth. Penarth is a small town next to Cardiff, the city of Alfie’s birth. These rundown dwellings had the most spectacular view over Cardiff Bay, but after many years of legal wrangling are about to be knocked down to be replaced by some high priced apartments, more suited to the spectacular outlook over our great capital city’s waterfront. It was the perfect focal point for today’s adventure

The adventure today really started the previous evening, when Alfie decided to have a sleepover at our place. The lady of the house was more than happy about this, even though she was running her club for ladies of a larger size at the time. This pleasant weekly gathering takes place at our house on a Thursday evening; it’s a great fight back against Slimming World and Weightwatchers and while it will never become global, the ladies who attend enjoy themselves. The only thing is I have had to ask them not to undress when they weigh, as our Yorkshire Terriers are easily scared!

Alfie was delighted to find his little cousin Millie was also around. We are so looking forward to them growing up as cousins and best friends. Their birthdays are just three days apart and this is the nearest we will ever get to twins! They bathed together and had great fun before Millie had to return to Barry and Alfie took to his cot in the kids’ paradise, which is our nursery.

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When I got up Alfie was already up, dressed fed and looking forward to the day ahead. When I walked in bleary eyed and unshaven, I thought he was going to burst with excitement! I still can’t believe this lovely little fellow is ours.

I have a sore arm joint at the moment and the lady of the house asked me how many years I had been suffering with my tennis elbow, I said, “Fifteen love’ then I took her off to work.

When I came back, I played with Alfie for about half an hour on the floor. As I watched him quietly playing I just had to thank God for this incredible little human being who has been entrusted to our family. He is a wonderful and unique child. He is not crawling yet but does a mean 360-degree turn on his little bum.

While he had his morning nap I got on with the household duties, washed the breakfast dishes, made the beds, tidied the lounge and thought about what to have for tea. I had five minutes with Jeremy Kyle and wondered why the guests were so scruffily dressed; they really must make a fortune from the tooth fairy. Really strange!

Alfie was awake just after ten and we got ready to start today’s adventure. Before deciding to go to explore Penarth, I had thought about going to the Alphabet Theme Park but last time there was a huge Q so I decided against it.

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We set off and made for The Billybanks but when we got there Alfie and I were sad to see they had already been demolished and the place was like a building site… pretty much like it had always looked actually.

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So we made our way into Penarth. When I was young the signposts always called it ‘The Garden by the Sea’. Sadly these days I feel it’s lost much of its former glory. I drove round for ages trying to find a parking space – it really is so annoying not being able to park with ease – before finding one outside a shop called Dear Doris. I smiled as I remembered my mum’s sister who always thought of me as her ‘special one’. Alfie and I set off and decided to walk through Alexandra Park down towards the beach. It was idyllic, I was thinking that possibly Penarth has not lost all its former beauty; maybe I have just stopped noticing. Alfie and I stopped and enjoyed each other’s company. It was calm and peaceful.

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As we sat on one of the benches we watched a several squirrels preparing for the long winter months ahead. We saw magpies, starlings and some sparrows enjoying the warm autumn sunshine, busily feeding themselves. There was still plenty of colours in the flower borders and the sound of the nearby fountain made us feel even more tranquil. We sat and enjoyed it for a while, before moving on. As we neared the beach there was a long gentle flight of steps that seemed to go on forever. I just let the pushchair ride the shallow steps and Alfie got a fit of the giggles, it was so lovely hearing him chuckling away.

He loved the beach when we got to the promenade. The tide was right up to the sea wall so we couldn’t go on the beach; we had to make for the pier. There were a few old people enjoying the pleasant morning and several luckless fishermen with empty baskets spread out along the deck. Alfie smiled at each one in turn and each one smiled back at the little man. He sure makes the world a happier place. He asked to get out of the stroller here and enjoyed walking up and down the pier.  I think Alfie is going to miss out the crawling phase and just start walking; he’ll be doing it without my help real soon. Every passer by stopped and spoke, mums with toddlers, old people with sticks and council workers. He loved looking over into the sea, which was calm down below us.

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It was then that a bad thought hit me. It was fun walking down from the town but the hill back up was a long and difficult one. I knew there was a bench halfway up the hill, so I planned a phased return to town and Coffee 1! We set off and I am pleased to say that I made it back up the hill, passed the Kymin, without needing to take advantage of the bench and made it to town, a little breathless, a little pale but certainly ready for my coffee and toast. Alfie was singing all the way up…. a little off key but obviously enjoying the hill. I am sure he was ready for his lunch too.

The staff in Coffee 1 were great and brought my coffee and my toast to my table while I found a high chair and sat my little friend in before opening the goodies I had prepared for his lunchtime meal. As usual he charmed everybody, including some pretty young things on the next table, who were impressed that Alfie was quietly tucking into cheese sandwiches with the crusts removed, helped by this fat, old, grey haired bloke who looked old enough to be his grandfather, while their kids were causing mayhem with bottles and other snacks being tossed about with reckless abandon. Alfie played happily with this wooden spoon with a face and a number 13 on that they had given to me to enable them to find the guy who had ordered toast. He used the table as a drum before spending an age playing with a Coffee1 take away cup which fascinated him. We had a lovely time enjoying being together before having our picture taken and making our way out.

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We next made our way up to the home where Alfie’s great Nan – and she really is just that…a great Nan – lives. We enjoyed a lovely visit and the old girl was looking intently at him for ages. I’m sure she loves him and she only frowned when I reminded her that his name was Alfie. She never did like that name, thanks to Alfie Brown the little tinker who lived next door to her eighty years ago in Knowle Street in Grangetown.  I began to be aware of a strange but increasingly familiar Friday smell and not being entirely sure which of these beautiful people that I loved so much was responsible, decided it was time to take Alfie home. After kissing her goodbye we headed back, our adventure nearly over. Alfie’s eyes were heavy as we drove back to Dinas Powys. I had to speak to him several times to keep him awake long enough to get him back to his cot. A quick nappy change… sorry I doubted you Beat… and he was sleeping soundly safe in his cot, arms outstretched, with a big smile on his face.

I am sure he was dreaming of squirrels and birds and fisherman and ships and maybe of the time when he is all grown up and he comes home to find his house is in a mess and remembers his old buddy and says to his kids… ‘Get this place cleaned up…it’s like The Billybanks here!’

Alfie I loved today… thanks for being my friend!

The Seagull. 2nd February 2012

I feel violated!  I had a good day in Cardiff rediscovering my roots. Today I did all the Arcades…
Wyndham Arcade
Royal Arcade
Morgan Arcade
High Street Arcade
Castle ArcadeLoads of good different shops, made a nice change from the usual St David’ s 2 lot.

Then it happened!

Keeping the promise I had made a week ago to myself I went for a bacon roll and a cup of tea at The Hayes Island Snack Bar (not an island any more by the way…). It came and I was salivating, a beautiful soft roll about 10 inches long filled with three rashers of lean bacon, freshly fried. I took them to a table to enjoy watching my fellow Cardiff citizens about their daily life. I noticed there were no pigeons around which pleased me. What I failed to notice though was the giant seagull sat waiting on the top of David Morgan. I opened the bag with great expectation and took a sip of tea…piping hot, not too strong, not too milky…life was good.

Then it happened!!! Before I had even taken a bite this massive seagull swooped down, brushing my face with his enormous wings and took my bacon roll. He dropped it about 20 yards away and then, mysteriously, the pigeons arrived and they ate it together…GUTTED!

I’ll stick to the market in future…..

A love story

A love story

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Jack and Phyll Newberry

In the dark days towards the end of the Second World War, a young girl, Phyll Surringer had made her way to the Celtic Ballroom in Newport Road in Cardiff. She was with her friend Winnie Northway, both were young and both were sitting waiting to be asked to dance. As they waited, in walked a handsome young soldier who was home on leave.  He was looking for a good evening as he enjoyed precious time at home, away from his barracks in Bulford, Salisbury. He was there doing his duty preparing to serve king and country in Europe pushing the German army back through Europe.

As Phyll saw him she pointed him out to Winnie and said that if she were ever to marry it would be to him. She could never have possibly known how prophetic those words were and how many other lives would be impacted in the years that lay ahead.

IMG_0011Before long the handsome soldier had spotted Phyll across the crowded dance hall. He crossed the floor and asked her to dance and her head was in a whirl as they glided across the dance floor in each other’s arms. Maybe it was her gentle good looks or the striking blue dress she wore or maybe it was guiding hand of someone they did not yet know, but one thing was certain, even at this early stage, they were rapidly falling in love.

Her soldier asked if she would allow him to walk her home, but in some Cinderella like parody, Phyll refused saying she had to leave early. She was on duty at the First Aid post in Grangetown and she hurriedly scribbled the phone number of the Post and handed it to the young man who had so suddenly brought this ray of sunshine into her dark life, pleading with him to ring her that evening to arrange a time when they could meet again. Jack, as her young soldier friend was called, gripped the paper tightly as she left. It was his only link with this young lady he was desperate to get to know a little better.

Phyll rushed through the dark night, tonight of all nights cursing her luck that the call of duty should so cruelly tear her away from her soldier. Worse news was to come. When she got to the First Aid Post she was told that due to lack of action from the German bombers, the Post was to be closed and she would not be needed. She was sent home and would not be there when Jack rang. When he made the call some time later, he was devastated when he was told Phyll was not there and no contact number or address was known. Two sad hearts in different parts of the city longed for each other but neither knew where the other one was but both dreaded that contact was lost forever.

The following Tuesday Phyll and Winnie hatched a plan. The authorities had decreed that any female worker whose boyfriend was home on leave should be allowed time off to see him. Despite not having young men serving the country, Phyll and Winnie applied for and were granted time off and decided to go dancing, Phyll hoping against hope that she would again meet Jack, but what chance? Where was her handsome soldier? Maybe he was back at his base in Salisbury, maybe somewhere in Europe. Phyll and Winnie discussed where they should go; there were many possibilities, The Connaught Rooms and The City Hall were their favourites but the lure of the Celtic was too strong, maybe just maybe….

When they entered Phyll’s eyes noted who was there or maybe more importantly who was not. The room was full of soldiers, but there was no sign of Jack. She felt so low. As time wore on she was asked to dance and was in the arms of another, when it was as if the sun had forced its way through the dark clouds and Jack her handsome soldier appeared. He too had been hoping against hope that the beauty in the blue dress would be there. When he saw her he lost no time in tapping the soldier who held her and he took her into his arms in an embrace that was to linger for the next sixty three years. At the end of the evening Jack walked her to her home in Grangetown before walking back to his home in Ely.

He called early the next day and they walked the Mile Road together, both wishing in their hearts it was called the Twenty Mile Road and they shared precious hours together, they knew times like this would be so limited in the future, as the dark clouds of war still hung menacingly overhead. Many dangers and long weeks of separation lie ahead. Both knew that whatever the future held, the new love they had found was now permanently fixed into their hearts. They thought about not only the immediate future but also about the long term. Would they have a family, would they grow old together? What would they be like in their eighties?

They met several more times before Jack was called away to serve his country, liberating Europe from the stranglehold of the Germans. They wrote to each other whenever they could and wherever they were and Phyll would sneak away quietly to read Jack’s letters as they arrived at her home back in Wales.  One poem that Jack sent Phyll has always remained their own special secret.

Written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning…

‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

The letters Jack received, he kept with him wherever he went. Knowing he was loved him gave him untold strength as he faced the horrors of war.

As the year changed Jack and Phyll knew in their hearts that they would be together forever and on 3rd February 1945, while Jack was fighting in Belgium, they got engaged and Fanny, Jack’s mum went into Cardiff with Phyll to buy the ring. Later the same year as the war in Europe ended the young couple looked forward to being together but their hopes were dashed as Jack was posted to Palestine for nine months. More letters followed each one bringing closer the day they could be together forever.

In early 1946 Jack was de-mobbed and preparations for their wedding began.  They were married at 12 noon on Saturday 29th June 1946 in St John’s Church, Cardiff.

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The bride looked stunning and was given away by her dad, William.  Glenys and Barbara, Jack’s two younger sisters, accompanied her. Jack had asked his friend Sid Dukes to be his best man. I was a beautiful service and finally the two young people promised their future to each other come what may and knew that they would be together forever. After the ceremony the wedding party travelled the short distance to The Philharmonic in St Mary Street where all enjoyed a wonderful reception ~ as wonderful as early post-war time rationing would allow.

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At 11.00 pm the same day, the happy couple caught an overnight train to Cornwall where they honeymooned near St Mawes in Cornwall staying in Feock near the Punchbowl and Ladle Hotel. During the train ride they had to sit opposite each other in a cramped compartment but their exchanged glances spoke volumes about the plans they had for their future. What would it hold? Had they been able to write the script themselves they would not have dared write such happiness into their story. After some tough, very tough early days God saw fit to smile on this special young couple. He had great plans for them.

After a week in Cornwall Jack and Phyll returned to their new home. They had turned down offers of accommodation from both sets of parents, so determined were they to make a home for themselves.

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Their first home was an attic flat in 11, Fitzhamon Embankment, their landlady was a prostitute and made life very difficult for Jack and Phyll. Within a year their first child arrived, born at 201, Penarth Road, Phyll’s old home. The arrival of John brought its own difficulties but the unique bond of love between Jack and Phyll was being strengthened day by day.

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In 1949 something happened which was to have a huge impact on their marriage and future lives together. Jack was working for a firm of building contractors in Cardiff and found himself working alongside a cheerful electrician by the name of Bill Dobbs. Bill was a Christian and during their work Bill invited Jack to attend a Big Tent Gospel Campaign being run by an ex heavyweight boxing champion called Stan Ford. Jack refused saying it was not really his scene, but a few days later after spotting an advert for the same event, Jack decided to go along. The tent was situated on the land where the Millennium Stadium stands today. Incredibly, he responded to the appeals of the evangelist and became a Christian. As he walked forward to receive counselling, who should walk towards him but the electrician Bill Dobbs.

Bill’s face lit up and he questioned,  “You’ve done it haven’t you?”

They embraced and a life long friendship ~ friends, united in Jesus Christ, was born. Jack wondered what implications his new found faith would have on his life. The following night he took Phyll to the Big Tent and incredibly, as the hymn ‘Just as I am’ was finishing Phyll stood up and committed her life to Christ.

In 1949 they were able to move to a new place near Phyll’s mum at 205, Penarth Road in Grangetown and the new lower rent meant they could just about afford to buy a new bedroom suite on hire purchase.

A change of landlord brought about some more very difficult times, especially when their second child, a boy called Roger William was born in October 1950. Conditions became almost unbearable and only the strength of their love for each other and their young family enabled Jack and Phyll to cope.

They applied for a council house and when a council inspector called to the flat to see a bedroom containing a double bed, a single bed and a cot, as well as all Jack’s tools and equipment, a move seemed imminent.  A large post war building programme out in the suburbs was under way and one glorious day Jack and Phyll received a letter from the council telling them they had been given a council house at 5, St Dogmaels Avenue in Llanishen.

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God was continuing His work in their lives. They moved in within minutes of the builders moving out! The sense of freedom was marvellous.  Incredibly the cheerful electrician Bill Dobbs and his wife Ruby joined them within a few short weeks. They too had been moved to a council house in Llanishen, just around the corner in Fishguard Road. Within weeks a third child was born, a girl Joy Elaine. The sense of ‘joy’ in the little family was almost tangible. God was good.

Up until then Jack and Phyll had been attending Ebenezer Gospel Hall in Grangetown with Bill, but since the move, a new place of worship was required and the choice lay between Mackintosh Gospel Hall or a small house based church run by Mr and Mrs Thrower at their home in 97, Fidlas Road. Jack and Phyll chose Mackintosh but always felt a little uneasy as they passed The Thrower’s. Before too long they joined The Throwers and a great adventure would soon begin which would lead to them establishing a place of worship at the very centre of the Estate where they lived.

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A piece of ground had been set aside as a place of worship and some Christians in Cardiff, including Jack and Phyll and Bill and Ruby and the Throwers set about establishing a church. A tent campaign led by that heavyweight boxer Stan Ford was set up. The work had started!

Following the tent a more permanent building was needed. A green corrugated hut was found in Bedlinog in the South Wales Valleys and Jack, Bill, Jim Orr and a few others set about dismantling the building and transporting it back to Llanishen. The vision, hard work and determination of these young men knew no bounds.  Friendships forged in those exciting days would stand the test of time.

The new church, Llanishen Gospel Hall, began to grow and Jack was asked would he look after the door, he accepted and so began a humble line of service that is still continuing faithfully after fifty three years.

Jack and Phyll found new friends, Charles and Eileen Hallet, Captain Tom and Mrs Dorothy Morgan, Aubrey and Lillian Roberts and Herbert and Eileen Dalling. Girls and boys’ youth clubs were set up and Jack and Phyll became involved winning the confidence of young and old alike. A new building, a permanent brick building was built in 1956. With the new building came a new name, Emmaus Chapel. Jim Orr, a builder, took overall responsibility but young and old alike, pitched in and the new building was built by and belonged to everybody. New friends came along, Arthur and Dorothy Berry, Eddie and Haulwen Hunt, Mike and Sheila Burr and John Lord among others.

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During this time the young people of the Emmaus were attracted to Jack and Phyll’s home and very often their house would be full to bursting with young people singing and enjoying spending time together. Many lifelong friendships were formed in those happy days. People like Lindsay and Jackie Morgan, John and Mary Patterson, Marilyn Powell, Gaynor Britton, David Jones, Mavis Adney and many others were all influenced by Jack and Phyll’s hospitality.

As their children grew up through the fifties and sixties, their life was simple but idyllic. Home in St Dogmaels Avenue was always open for friends to join them. Paul Pace was just one example of friends who became a part of this unique family. They enjoyed holidays every year, visiting places like Fontygary, St Ives, Blue Anchor, Broadhaven and many places in between.  God looked after the family and Jack and Phyll’s love shone out and touched the lives of all who knew them.

imageThe first child to fly the nest was John who married Christine Cummings on 5th September 1969. Emmaus Chapel was the venue and Herbert Dalling conducted the service. It was such a good day and a milestone for The Newberry family.

Jack and Phyll celebrated their twenty fifth Wedding Anniversary on 29th June 1971.

Joy, the only girl in the family, married Douglas Reed on September 22nd 1973. Eddie Hunt conducted the service and the reception was held at Cardiff Castle. Roger married Jean Musgrove on 11th October 1975. Charles Hallet conducted the service and again Cardiff Castle was the venue for the reception.

The family home was now empty and Jack and Phyll discovered a new freedom. They adapted by opening a flower shop in Grangetown. It meant Phyll leaving her job in the Inland Revenue. In due course Jack left his job in the Department of the Environment and soon both were working in the business. They enjoyed each others company and their love continued to blossom and proved an inspiration to their children as they started to build homes and new families of their own. They were still committed to the work of Emmaus and over the years new friends joined, Norman and Ann Curtis, Roy Shears, Muriel Lampert and in recent years, Peter and Olive Shin and their girls, Lisa Stavsky and Michael and Joy Dibua.

They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on 29th June 1996 with a family celebration at The Farmer’s Daughter Restaurant.

As time went on, advancing years brought with them time for reflection and appreciation of how God had dealt with them. His hand was leading and guiding them even before they knew Him. Many lives had been touched. As they celebrated sixty years of happiness family and friends gathered to show their love and affection and to pay tribute to a remarkable love, a love that has impacted the lives of so many people.

As Jack and Phyll themselves look back on a remarkable journey of love, the words of their poem will swirl around in their minds…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways… and they will both decide that is an impossible thing to do. It is impossible to count the ways they love each other, impossible to measure how much they think of each other and impossible to put a value on something so very precious.

The future?

Their future was in the hands of God who sixty years ago brought those two young people together, the same God who had guided, protected, cared for and loved them and allowed His love to shine out touching the lives of all who knew them.

Post script to A Love Story

The future turned out to be a time of calm quiet reflection for them both. During the few years that followed God gave them three more years together. Advancing years slowed them down but they remained able to look after themselves. Mum loved her garden and as each Spring came around the seeds would be planted and new life would begin again. All our homes bore testimony to her skills. Dad loved the Spring when the daffodils appeared, he would say that the daffodils looked like they were trumpeting in the warmer weather.

Each Saturday, we were drawn to the family home and each Saturday mum would have food ready for us all, as usual nothing was too much trouble for her. She set us a wonderful example of the importance of hard work and how to love and care for the family she loved so much.

More great-grandchildren came along…they loved Jack Noah, Rueben, Ben and Zak and loved it whenever they came to visit. We were never quite sure how they did it but as the family grew so did their love. They never loved us less as there became more people to love they just drew on their deep reserves and each from oldest to youngest knew how special they were and how much they were loved. In March 2009 they rejoiced with Gareth and Keri with the news that a new great-grandchild was coming.

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Despite having attended the  60th Anniversary of the D.Day landings in 2004, by 2009 declining health meant dad was unable to travel to Normandy for the D-day 65th Anniversary celebrations. Roger and Gareth represented him at ceremonies in Ranville and Caen. They proudly accepted another badge of honour on his behalf and wore caps saying ‘Veteran’s Family’

We all knew one awful day the family chain would be broken and on 22nd August 2009 our dear father was called home.

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The end came very quickly after  short illness. John, Joy and mum were with him when he went but Roger, Jean and Bethany were in Canada on holiday and needed to arrange emergency flights home to be with the family. We were all devastated but needed to be strong for mum. A wonderful and moving service of thanksgiving for his wonderful life was held at Llanishen EvangelicalChurch on Thursday September 1st 2009. Dad was buried at Thornhill Cemetery. The parting was devastating!

We all feared for mum but she remained amazingly strong…maybe she did it for us! There were times when our grief almost overwhelmed us, but our hope as Believers that one day we will see him kept us going through those dark days.

In October 2009 Roger and Jean had arranged for mum to have a holiday in West Wales and as John was taking her down, she suffered a massive stroke near her spinal cord. She was admitted to The University Hospital of Wales for emergency treatment. Sadly our dear mum never returned to the family home. She grew a little weaker each day but shortly after Christmas was delighted to hold baby Mia, daughter of Gareth and Keri and her sixth great-grandchild and first great-granddaughter. It was almost as if she were waiting for Mia to arrive as shortly afterwards on Monday 4th January 2010 mum left us to be with dad. Amazingly Roger and Jean were with her as she went, it was as if God meant it to be as they were so far away when dad died.

377867_10150605674452784_671637783_11127231_1244695137_nWe thanked God for her wonderful life in another special service at Emmaus Chapel on Monday 18th January and she was laid to rest with dad at Thornhill.

DSC05781Two crosses stood on the spot side by side in the ground mirroring the way these two great people stood side by side in life. They were inseparable in life and they will be inseparable in death.

The love story, which had begun so many years before continues both in heaven and in the hearts of all of us who loved them. Our lives have been moulded by their unique love and a huge responsibility is now ours to continue their remarkable love story in our own lives… to work as they worked, to devote our lives to God as they devoted their lives to him and love as they loved.

Grow old along with me ~ the best is yet to come! We dedicate our lives to our precious parents