All posts by rogernewberry

Full time, husband, father and grandfather.

Just Max and me – Adventures Day 9 – Techniquest.

Max looked tired when he arrived this morning. He still had the lines of his pillows imprinted on his cheeks. He still smiled and we took a long time to gently prepare him for the day!

Max ate 3 Weetabix for breakfast! He ate slowly, enjoying it and watching the wood burner glowing in the fireplace.We had our adventure planned already – a day at Techniquest.

techniquestWe had our adventure planned already – a day at Techniquest.

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Each month this exciting Science Exhibition in Cardiff holds a Toddler Day. They call it Snowflakes and Sparkles – although I wasn’t expecting to see either.

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We also received the good news that Max’s cousin Eli was also coming down, that would be great fun.

Max got dressed and prepared for the day. We set off just before ten for the short journey down to Cardiff Bay.

Techniquest first opened on 13 November 1986 on the site of the old British Gas showroom on the corner of Duke Street and St John Street in Cardiff Town Centre. There were 48 exhibits at that time, many of them were designed and built by Techniquest. The former showroom housed the centre for around nine months. Less than seven weeks after it had opened Techniquest had welcomed its ten thousandth visitor.

In 1988 Techniquest re-opened in a pre-fabricated building opposite the now demolished Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Bute Street. The two buildings were removed to make way for Mermaid Quay.

They moved again in 1995 about 100 metres along Stuart Street to its present location on the site of the former Baileys engineering workshop which is now its permanent headquarters. The building, the UK’s first purpose-built science discovery centre, opened on 1 May 1995. It uses the steel framework of the original building which can be clearly seen on the photograph.

We parked up and waited for Eli to arrive.

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Kids are free on Toddler Day. I asked for one OAP ticket but was rebuffed and told that all tickets were cheaper today, so I duly pad my £5.80, put on my wrist band and in we went.

Max absolutely loved it and so did Max. Every exhibit brought new delights.

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It was an effort to drag Max from one to another, he cried when we moved on but squealed with delight when he saw what was next it was truly wonderful.

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We did stop at one place so Max could have a tattoo done. Unusually he sat quietly while it was being done. In all fairness the young man who was doing it was really gentle and kind. Max was fascinated!

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On our way round, we met several friends. Bibby was there with Oliver and Clive and Beatty French were on Grandparenting duty with their little ones.

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We had a great chat.

We even met with old Father Christmas…

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We moved on and made our way upstairs to see even greater delights….

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These two had no body to play with!!!!

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Max and Eli are such lovely friends as well as cousins….

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We even let the boys make a bauble for the Christmas Tree!!!

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It really was a day filled with wonder…. and one of the greatest wonder of all…..

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Beautiful Elsie Joy….

On the way out, Max even sat still to have a reindeer painted on his face.

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Great stuff.

 

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Just Max and me – Adventures Day 8

‘Well, he’s a smiler, isn’t he?’

‘I bet you look forward to having him every week!’

‘What a beautiful smile!’

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These are just some of the things that people said to me today as Max and I were out and about. On the bus out, on the bus home and in Cardiff as well, wherever I met people. Max invokes that response. It’s that smile that brightens up my Fridays.

Max arrived looking very bleary eyed and tired. He had been plucked from his cot and brought to our house early. His first smile preceded me opening the car door and I knew we were in for a good day. We spent the first hour or so snuggled under a blanket, talking and watching some train videos on YouTube. The house was warm, the blankets were soft and the thought of staying there all day was briefly tempting. However, Fridays are adventuring days and today we ere off to Cardiff Bay to continue Max’s education.

We caught the 10:30a.m. 304 Cardiff Express from Eastbrook. I was very relieved to see the pushchair space was free on the bus – a full pushchair space often means alternative transport and a quick run to Eastbrook Station to catch a train, folding up a pushchair and carrying Max while the bus passengers look on is not an option.

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The 304 is run by NAT – NewAdventure Travel, very appropriate for name for a bus carrying a little boy and his chubby grandfather on an exciting trip. Cardiff Bus 95 will take you to Cardiff Town but the 304 goes to the same place but by a different route and stops right in Cardiff Bay. I was sat with Max facing down the bus and the first few rows sat under his spell… he smiled and waved all the way into Cardiff. We got off not far from the Coal Exchange, one of my favourite Cardiff Buildings.

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There was a time in the coal exchange history where the grand building housed the biggest coal trading business in the world and the hub for the city’s then thriving shipping industry. The building was built in the late 1800s and, despite being left to rot and in a desperate state of disrepair, has taken on a new lease of life as The Exchange Hotel. The Coal Exchange has enjoyed a long history of industrial excitement and intense trading, with up to 10,000 people passing through the doors each day at the height of business.

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We walked past the Exchange and down a few alleyways that we would not have done twenty years ago before the Bay was redeveloped.

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There are some grand buildings there, the place is steeped in history.

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We walked down past Trumps Coffee Shop – we popped our heads in to see if Donald was working but he wasn’t, so we just carried on.

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Our first stop proper was Greggs, its not really possible to pass by on the other side, that would be so rude. Max was thirsty and hungry, and I realised it was time for our elevenses! We decided on coffee and a Yum-Yum each a Yum-Yum is a twirly kind of sugary donut. Max had a squash.

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We really enjoyed our break and Max devoured his Yum -Yum and was looking my way to see if I had any left. I saw how much he enjoyed his, so I left him a little bit of mine… well…he is my friend.

After Greggs, we explored the Bay. Max looked longingly at the boats, but time and the weather meant a boat trip wasn’t on the agenda.

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We saw the Senedd, the Welsh Government Building and the wonderful old Pier Head Building.

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It was a chilly dismal day, so we headed for the Millennium Centre – it was warm there. My old mum loved this building. She wasn’t so keen when it was first built. She called it an armadillo. Now it’s an iconic landmark.

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The Wales Millennium Centre, situated at the heart of Cardiff Bay, is the nation’s home for performing arts and world class entertainment.

Wales Millennium Centre opened in 2004 and has already established its reputation as one of the world`s iconic arts and cultural destinations.

The vision of the Centre was to be an internationally significant cultural landmark and centre for the performing arts, renowned for inspiration, excellence and leadership.

The building exterior is dominated by walls built of waste slate, collected from the many quarries throughout Wales, laid in coloured ‘strata’ depicting the different stone layers seen in sea cliffs; naturally-occurring purple slate came from a quarry in Penryn, the blue from Cwt-y-Bugail, green from Nantlle, grey from Llechwedd, and the black slate from the Corris Quarry in mid-west Wales. An important industry within Wales for centuries, Welsh slate has changed the landscape of North Wales forever and is important to Welsh heritage.

On the front of the WMC, cut directly into the steel façade in large Celtic lettering, is the inscription “CREU GWIR GWYDR O FFWRNAIS AWEN,” which translated into English means “Truth is as clear as glass forged in the flames of inspiration.” The inspiration for this came from the forging of the metal roof and the glass from which each letter is made. Each letter stands over 2m tall and is a window for those inside the WMC overlooking Cardiff Bay.

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There is also an English inscription: “IN THESE STONES HORIZONS SING.” The strata of the slate walls reminded Gwyneth Lewis, the author of the inscriptions, of the horizons seen just beyond Penarth Head in South Wales. She also felt that the stones would “literally be singing” once the building opened.

Max loved it in here.

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Soon it was time to head towards the bus. On the way we stopped by the ‘water-feature’ just outside the Millennium Centre. Max was fascinated and it looked like I was the proud grandfather of twins!

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The bus took us home and Max again enchanted the passengers on the bus.

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We arrived home tired but happy and Max had a little sleep before his mummy picked him up. I am sure I saw him dreaming of Yum-Yums, buses and the boats he hopes to go on next time….

Happy days!

Just Max and Me – Adventures Day 7 – A visit to Llanishen

November is my worst month of the year. It’s the longest time to go before Spring appears, Summer seems miles away, December has the promise of Christmas – one thing however brightens up November…my Fridays with Max.

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He arrived today as he arrives every Friday with a big smile that is like a ray of the bright summer sun. he gives me a massive hug and a kiss and then we always sit down together to break the day in slowly. Today the lady of the house was out to work almost as soon as Max had arrived. Max waved goodbye.

She had however given us a job for today which will guide our adventure. We are to drive to the north of Cardiff to pick up some very important presents. Max enjoyed the journey up watching some train videos thanks to my new gadget.

It also gave us the chance to get Elsie on our family pebble picture. We were happy about that. While the lady kindly added Elsie, we had a couple of hours to while away so I thought I would share with Max some places of my childhood. I don’t know if Max will remember this day when he is grown up enough to read this, he probably won’t, but at least he can see he spent the day treading in my footsteps of long ago. I want him to know what a lovely childhood I had.

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After we had dropped the picture off, we made for the house where the lady of the house grew up – Waun y Groes Road in Rhiwbina. It’s quite posh in Rhiwbina and I was from the neighbouring council Estate. It’s true to say I probably married above my station. It was a bit like the song Uptown Girl by Billy Joel.

It was a lovely place to grow up and Max’s gran had a lovely childhood and parents who loved her sacrificially. Tragically her dad died when she was just eighteen. Life seems so unfair sometimes. Her mum, Beatrice rose to the challenge and loved her three children and worked herself to a standstill to provide for them.                                                                 I think Max loved the house.

From here we moved on to the place where I grew up.

I was actually born in Grangetown in Cardiff in the front room of 205 Penarth Road, where my parents rented some attic rooms in the early days of their marriage. We moved to Llanishen in 1952 into a brand-new house built as part of the post war building programme. It was an idyllic lace to grow up. Council estates in the 1950s had big back gardens and grass verges between the pavement and the road.

The local History Society tells me this….

 Llanishen has a rich history stretching back over 1,000 years. In A.D. 535 two monks set out eastwards from the then-small settlement of Llandaff, aiming to establish new settlements, or “llans”, in the wild terrain below Caerphilly mountain. One of these monks, Isan, established his “llan” on the present-day site of the Oval Park, an ideal location offering a ready fresh-water supply at a natural spring and the nearby Nant Fawr stream.

 

“Llan-isan” remained a peaceful place until the arrival of the Normans. In 1089, a large and bloody battle, the Battle of the Heath, was fought to the north of the settlement. Crushing the Welsh resistance at this battle and gradually securing their hold on Wales as a whole, the Normans began to expand Llanishen, commencing work on a church at a site on higher and drier ground to the north of the old settlement. This church was completed sometime in the 12th century and was dedicated to the now St Isan.

Despite the many upheavals in Britain in the following centuries, “Llan-isan”, which gradually became corrupted to Llanishen, stayed a quiet rural village whose principal occupation was agriculture. This only changed significantly in the mid-nineteenth century when the area came under the gaze of the Rhymney Railway Company. Seeking to build an alternative route to Cardiff Docks to rival that of the mighty Taff Vale Railway, the company was granted parliamentary permission to create a new line running from Caerphilly, through Llanishen, to Cardiff. In order to do this, the company first had to blast its way through Caerphilly Mountain, creating a tunnel some one and a half miles in length. Unsurprisingly, in an age before health and safety of any kind, accidents were common, and a large incident inside the tunnel cost the lives of several of the railway “navvies”, some of whom were buried in St Isan’s churchyard. The line gradually marched through the village along a large embankment, work being completed around 1871.

The advent of the railway had a marked effect on Llanishen. Wealthy residents of Cardiff could now move out into the “country” and live in the pleasant surroundings of the village, while still being able to commute into the then-town from Llanishen station. In the twenty years between 1851 and 1871, the village’s population rose by over 20,000. It was a trend that was set to continue. In 1887, after a long period of negotiation, two reservoirs were built in the village to support the rapidly growing population of Cardiff. By 1922, after continued expansion, Llanishen became a suburb of Cardiff.

As with so many towns and villages throughout the country, the outbreak of war in 1914 was to leave its grim mark on Llanishen. The war memorial inside St Isan’s church testifies to this with a long list of men who did not return. Among these was Lt. Col. Frank Hill Gaskell, who after being wounded in 1914, returned to Cardiff to help raise the 16th Cardiff City Battalion. Leading it back to France in May 1916, he was killed when a German bullet struck his ammunition pouches, causing an explosion that left him mortally wounded.

The coming of the Second World War was, however, to have a far more overt effect on Llanishen. In 1939 the government established a Royal Ordnance Factory along Ty Glas Road. The factory produced tank and anti-tank guns with a largely female workforce and was highly productive. In the nearby fields, anti-invasion defences were erected to try and ward off the feared German paratroopers. When the threat of airborne invasion gradually began to decrease in 1941, the RAF established itself on the site, clearing the defences to use the wide-open spaces to train Air Cadets in the rudiments of flying in rickety training gliders. This is where the area’s modern name of “Glider Field” stems from. The old glider field became the home of Llanishen Leisure Centre, while the surrounding farmland and market gardens were replaced with industrial and buildings. The majority of these have since been replaced, particularly the ROF complex, and the area is now occupied by the Llanishen Business Park and a large area of housing. In spite of all this change however, Llanishen has retained its village feel, with its bustling heart being focused around the old village centre and St Isan’s Church.

Going back to Llanishen is always good, I have so many happy memories. We parked near my old house and Max was ready to get out and have a look. Thankfully, it appeared the current owners were at work. Max had no idea where he was but appeared so excited!

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One thing I noticed was the disgraceful state of the roads – they were awful.

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Together we walked to the shops, the short journey I took probably thousands of times. I remember once my sister was entrusted with a ten-shilling note (50p today) to get some shopping and she lost it. My mother was sad and upset for days. It was a lot of money for her to lose in those days.

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When I was a boy the shops were brilliant. There was Hamilton’s the Greengrocers, Wally’s the sweet shop and paper shop. Patterson’s the Butchers and Ablett’s the Grocers. Wally’s was the centre of our world and we got to spend our pocket money there on sweets – Fry’s Five Boys chocolate, sherbet fountains, Sweet peanuts and liquorice roots, bits of sweet tasting wood.

The Hamilton’s were a sort of rough and ready sort family, Stuart was my friend. Wally had a big row of stitches across his neck – his name was Bafico. – maybe he was Walter Bafico? The Pattersons were just ordinary but friendly and the Abletts were great.

Joe Ablett always wore a white coat and had a bacon slicer and an adding machine – no calculators then – with a handle he pulled down after adding each item, we were spellbound as kids. His wife was a posh lady who always wore fancy glasses.

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When Max and I got to the shops, I was so sad. All the shops had morphed into one shop – Fishguard Road Stores. All the others were shuttered up. I peered through Wally’s window and it was just a mess. It looks like Fishguard Road Stores may be taking it over. After Wally’s it became Shah’s and Mr Shah ran the post office and was extremely kind to my parents, they loved him.

There was one more shop, Abletts had been split in two and the one end was a barber shop. I was happy to see that. When I was young Mrs Preece was the local hairdresser, she lived in Heol Merlin. We went to her front room to be done and she charged 1/3d – probably about 6p today. Max had his hair cut last week and was charged £10.

 

Max and I walked around past the shops and up Portfield Crescent to the park. When we first moved in the park was a patch of rough ground which the council turned into a park. In the sixties it had its own Park Keeper, a grumpy old fellow that we used to tease unceasingly.

Max was longing  for a play, but dank November days are not the best for playing in parks covered with leaves.

Next, we strolled to my old church, Llanishen Evangelical Church. It’s where the lady of the house and I did a lot of our courting. We made many wonderful friends there. When the estate was built the council set aside the plot of ground for a place of worship and my parents were the original members. The church began with a tent, then a wooden building and then the current building in 1958.

My dad and a few friends bought the building from a hillside in Bedlinog, dismantled it, brought it to Llanishen and rebuilt it. It was heated by paraffin stoves which glugged their way through every service.

 

After visiting the church, we decided to walk ‘up the gully’. This is a path from the estate to the posher houses on Fidlas Road.

On the left are the allotments where my dad sued to have a plot. He grew a lot of our vegetables while we were growing up!

 

Max loved this he was excited all the way. As children we walked this path to school every morning. It leads past the allotments through a big railway arch and onto Fidlas Road. Its where we used to catch the bus – 28 or 37. The 37 took us to Grangetown, where we visited our nanna. If we visited my dad’s parents, we would have to catch the 28 or 37 to town and the catch a 10B Trolley bus to Ely. Max particularly loved the tunnel. He paused at the entrance looked and smile before shouting loud, loving his echoey voice.

At the other end of the tunnel was Fidlas Road where Workman’s Garage and shop were situated. Further down Fidlas Road was The Salad Bowl, another shop we loved but never had much to spend there.



We walked back down the gully, I noticed that they have fenced off the part where we used to climb up to watch the trains on the embankment. Probably not the safest pastime but we always loved it.

When we headed back to the car, I noticed the old street sign had been moved. It reminded me how much I hated the name – St Dogmael’s Avenue. It’s horrible. Its named after a pretty village in West Wales, as are Fishguard Road and Crundale Crescent but I hated it – and still do, I think!

I was always so embarrassed, when I had to give my address in school, the other kids always used to laugh and start barking!

It was a lovely return visit for me – for Max it was just a lovely walk around with his grandfather. He was on top form. So happy, so excited and so pleased (I hope!) to spend time with me. I so enjoy spending time with him!

Next we were headed for the graves of my parents and parents in law, but had to call into Greggs en route – it would have been rude not to!

When we reached the Cemetery, I turned around to find Max sleeping peacefully.

I didn’t wake him, much as I would like to have, but put flowers on their graves and wiped tears away as I reflected on the fact my precious parents and parents in law would never know my grandchildren – how they would have loved Max’s smile – but I never forget how much our parents did live to see.

Max slept all the way home dreaming of trains probably and his family. He woke up when we arrived home and enjoyed his lovely lunch.

Before long, his dad arrived to whisk him away…

 

I love you Max! Thanks for a great day.

Just Max and me… Adventures Day 6

Max caught me out today and arrived somewhat earlier than usual. His mum wasn’t taking Alfie to school today, so it meant I saw Max’s first smile of the day at the bottom of the stairs instead of in the car. That was fine by me. The lady of the house made her way cheerily to work and Max and I just chilled. The fire was lit, and the blankets unfolded, and we just sat and enjoyed each other’s company. It was pretty cool – Max didn’t seem in a hurry to move. I wasn’t keen on doing much either – apart from cuddling Max! The events of the previous day meant I was quite tired and needed a day just chilling out and reflecting.

We watched a couple of Thomas the Tank Engine episodes, before slowly getting ready to go out. We had been invited to share a day adventuring with Max’s cousin Eli and it was agreed we would visit Coconuts again – just two short weeks after our previous visit. Max didn’t mind, he absolutely loves it there.

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We had arranged to meet Eli and Elsie at ten o’clock at the Centre and as we approached it Max went rigid with sheer excitement!  He was so happy. We met the others just inside!

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Eli – as usual- was all smiles to chatting away quite happily. Elsie looked as beautiful as ever. We paid our dues and made our way in and Eli and Max were off.

It was beautiful to see these two little cousins playing happily together, each doing their own thing, sometimes playing together and sometimes playing and exploring on their own.

They both made for the ball pit. Max was in his element throwing the balls everywhere and Eli carefully picking each one up and sometimes throwing them back and sometimes putting them gently back in.

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Max made a big step forward this week. Last time I had to scale the heights and help him through a small hole between the bouncy ladder and the big blue slide. Today he attacked it confidently and made his way to the slide all on his own. He even encouraged Eli to do it and the two little friends had so much fun.

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Elsie watched on smiling all the time and she even had a go in the ball pit herself. I think she enjoyed it – she smiled anyway – mind you she smiles constantly. Maybe she just loves everything!

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At one time the door into the main hall had been left open… Max was onto it straight away and made a bolt for the Noddy Car – his favourite thing of all, I think. No need to insert a pound, Max just loves sitting  it steering to his heart’s content!

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After a couple of hours both little lads were exhausted and so we made our way home after agreeing to make this a regular occurrence. It was so sweet to see all the cousins so happy in each other’s company.

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Max made  dash for the slot machines on the way out.

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He had very heavy eyes when we reached home and gave the biggest smile of the day when we climbed the stairs to the special room set aside in our home for the grandchildren – it is uniquely decorated half with boys’ things and half with a girls’ theme and thankfully they all love both bits. It’s their special place. The shutters were closed, the pillow was plumped up and Max snuggled down to sleep. He dreamt of climbing, sliding and rolling about and he dreamt about his little cousins who he loves so much.

After his extended nap he woke refreshed and we enjoyed a late lunch and listened to the Scallywags DVD.

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It wasn’t too long before Max’s dad arrived. Half term had begun Happy days! We had a lovely day – Just Max and me and Bes and Eli and little Elsie.

Treasured times!

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Just Max and me… Adventures Day 5 – The missing shoe!

As usual I was looking forward to Max’s arrival long before he came.  His smile was visible from the car as his mum pulled up. It was a clear but chilly morning, with just the smallest hint that the first frost of the Autumn was not too far away.

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I had a roaring fire ready and Max and I soon settled down to have our early morning cuddle and watch a few trains on YouTube.We followed this by listening again to the Scallywags CD. It’s great, so full of nursery rhymes and Bethesda songs. Max still likes Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and If you’re happy and you know it the best He was trying a few of the actions himself! We had fun.

We followed this with breakfast then began to prepare for todays’ adventure.

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I had decided we would visit Bridgend not a place noted for its visitor attractions, but I had worked out we could go to Bridgend from Eastbrook, via Cardiff, Pontyclun,  Llanharan and Pencoed and return by the direct route through the Vale of Glamorgan via Llantwit Major and Rhoose.Screenshot 2018-10-24 01.16.13

I have never travelled via Llanharan before and thought that would be rather exciting! We had planned this some weeks ago but never went on it due to a late change of plan. The great thing about this plan is that we leave and arrive on the platform nearest to our house and avoid the need to cross the horrible iron bridge. I understand they are thinking of fitting a lift each side of the tracks to avoid the stairs. Bring it on – crossing that bridge with a pushchair is an absolute NIGHTMARE!!

We caught the 09:58 to Cardiff and I just had time to buy my ticket from the machine on the platform – despite Max having a brief ‘paddy’ because he wanted to press the buttons! I got on the platform just as the train arrived. Perfect.

I got Max out of the pushchair as soon as I could. Trains have windows and windows are meant to be looked out of and Max and I love looking out of train windows. I always remember the old poem I learnt in Junior School…

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Robert Louis Stephenson

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The journey into Cardiff is a quick ten minute one but still enough to see lots of interest. Halfway there, I looked in horror at Max – he had a shoe missing and they were his new best ones. I remembered the little paddy at Eastbrook. I searched the floor of the train with one hand while making sure Max didn’t climb up onto the table with the other!

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The shoe was nowhere to be seen. This would cause me problems if Max had to walk anywhere which he likes to do.

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At Cardiff we had to change to platform 3 to pick up the train heading for Maesteg. We must go there one day. The train was waiting, and it was a curious one!

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It was a single carriage train that looked like a shuttle. Max approved, and we got on and found a seat with a table. – always essential. We had to leave to the pushchair at the other end of the train but that was fine.

Before long we pulled out and travelled down the main line towards Swansea. We passed Canton, Ely Woods and Saint Fagan’s and the train was going at a fair old pace. I kept looking at Max’s sock and wondered how I could break the news to his dad and mum later. I felt I was in trouble.

Despite it not being a new line, it was great stopping at stations I had never visited, Pontyclun, Llanharan and Pencoed. Quite a few people got on. Maybe Bridgend has improved since I visited with Alfie!

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Max loved the journey and was constantly pointing things out or waving to the people on the stations.

After a 45-minute journey, we arrived in Bridgend in the bright morning sunshine.

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Trip Advisor describes Bridgend like this…

A sleepy little market town nestled at the foothills of the valleys or a bustling shoppers paradise halfway between Cardiff and Swansea?   Bridgend is all that and more. A county town, rich in heritage and history, where zealous pilgrims cautiously waded the fast-flowing river en route to the shrine of St. David in Pembrokeshire.

In medieval times the Pilgrims would sensibly stop off here for shelter and refreshments, while the monks from the nearby Abbey would wash their sore dusty feet. A little hump backed bridge built in 1425, linking the north and south banks of the river and the two sections of the quaint old town now stand on the spot.

The main centre of Bridgend lies on the north bank of the river and is a shopper’s paradise of old and new, happily winding its way through narrow streets, co-existing side by side. The old Victorian market hall has since gone, but the original 127-year-old market bell still hands in the Rhiw shopping centre, near to the entrance of the new covered market. Small local specialist businesses complimented by large national chain stores make the town a perfect day out.

I’m not sure who wrote that, but I tell you they are masters of fiction. Amazingly there is a list of the Top 17 things to do in Bridgend and not a single one is actually in Bridgend. One of the things is the Showcase Cinema complex in Nantgarw which must be 20 miles away.

Actually, it’s not a bad little town especially for a smiling little lad and his fat little grandfather who love to go adventuring together.

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First stop was breakfast – the second one of the day and no finer place than Greggs. I had a bacon and sausage bap and a cup of coffee, which cost me the princely sum of £2 and Max went for a Yum-Yum. A long curly doughnut, which he loved. He ate every single bit of it! While we were in the queue a kind lady informed me that Max had lost a shoe. I thanked her politely and explained what had happened and that feeling of dread returned. Was I in trouble? The wet wipes returned Max’s face, hands and coat to something resembling smartness and we set off.

Within a few minutes Max was asleep.

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The early mornings seem to tire him out and the pushchair is very comfortable. I toured the multitude of charity shops, but found no bargains at all, which was very disappointing – Rhiwbina and Cowbridge remain my favourite places for a charity shop – posh areas. In almost every shop, someone either tapped me on the shoulder or waved and told me my little boy had lost his shoe. Oh dear… I am in trouble!!  Max slept on…

I came across the Bridgend war memorial, which I always find interesting. This year is a very special year, one hundred years since the end of World War One. While I studied it, Max slept on.

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Next, I came across the market, which was actually quite good. I love the atmosphere of an indoor market. Bridgend didn’t disappoint. Passing the delicatessen, the cheery shop owner shouted, ‘Hey mate…your little ones lost his shoe.’ I thanked him and that feeling of dread returned. Max missed the market…he slept on.

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It was soon time to head back to the station. The chill of the morning had changed into a most lovely, warm autumn day. Pushing my precious cargo through this little Welsh town was so lovely.

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When we got to the station the rather large lady who was monitoring the entrance gates asked me if I knew that my little boy had lost a shoe. I thanked her and carried on worrying.

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The station has recently had a new footbridge and looked rather smart. It’s a great little station, because its on the main line. As I sat and waited for my train, one on the new main line express trains pulled in on its way to London. They are ‘hybrid’ trains. Apparently when the electrification of the lines starts soon, they will be quiet electric trains from London to Cardiff but as they leave Cardiff towards Swansea, they will revert to being diesel trains. Brilliant… can’t wait.DSC01468

Max slept on.

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The return journey was along the Vale of Glamorgan line via, Llantwit Major and Rhoose. It was reopened in 2005. Rail campaigners were delighted in June of that year, when a passenger rail service came back to the Vale of Glamorgan for the first time in 41 years.Regular services now run between Bridgend and Barry and then along existing track into Cardiff.

The final work was completed in the summer of 2005 to allow 18 miles of the Vale of Glamorgan line to reopen to passenger trains.The Welsh Assembly supported the £17million project and the line was officially opened by Transport Minister Andrew Davies.A shuttle bus waits for every train and runs to the airport terminal, seven minutes away.
Freight trains continued to travel to Aberthaw power station and Ford’s motor plant near Bridgend after regular passenger services were withdrawn in 1964.
The line was also used for diversions when there was work on the Great Western main line, west of Cardiff.

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It’s a glorious line, especially with the trees in their autumnal beauty. The jewel in the crown of the journey is the crossing of the Porthkerry Viaduct.

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When the ticket collector came around – a cheery chap with glasses and tousled hair – he kindly asked me if I had my little boy’s shoe. Max missed the entire journey as he slept on. I was glad he trusted me to look after him.

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Keep following the blue dot!

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We got off at Eastbrook Station and I was met by the most glorious sight…

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Max’s missing shoe was there, near the ticket machine. Some kind person had put it safe in a place where I could see it! Whoever you are… a massive thank you.

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Max woke up as we got home, and he enjoyed a rather late lunch and we watched some Thomas the Tank Engine and played for a little while until dad arrived and our beautiful time together came to an end. I think Max wanted to stay a bit longer and to be honest I wanted him to stay a bit longer, just Max and me… but with two shoes on he waved goodbye, smiled and went to collect his big brother!

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Just Max and me… Adventures Day 4

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Storm Callum is coming. Beware if you live in South Wales! You have an AMBER warning for strong winds and torrential rain. So said the BBC this morning!

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Hmmm… not the kind of weather forecast you need while you are waiting for Max to arrive!  It made me decide to chat with Max about having an indoor adventure for a change this week. I felt sure my little buddy would agree.

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When he arrived, it was all smiles as usual and Max had a little play with the trains and the track, while I prepared our breakfast. Max had Rice Kripsies with a banana and milk and I had my usual bran-based cereal. We had a lovely time eating breakfast together. I asked Alexa to read us a story, but she wormed her way out of it again. I asked her for some peaceful music and she chose some rainfall in an Amazon rainforest. It was quite soothing.

After our breakfast we watched train videos for a bit before we had a bit of learning. We sat and watched the Scallywags DVD and listened to Karen and Dawn take us through a range of songs all with brilliant actions. Max is starting to do a few now.

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We then decided to head off to Coconuts in Barry. Coconuts is warm, dry and loads of fun – the ideal place to spend time waiting for Callum to move across us and get out of the way. It was indeed raining heavily, as we took the short car journey to the wonderful little town of Barry.

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To get in, I was free, but I had to pay £3.95 to get Max in. I lent him the money and he can pay me back whenever he gets a bit of cash… birthday or something.

Inside Coconuts was just fantastic. Max went rigid with excitement when he realised where he was.

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Coconuts have a designated ‘Toddler’ area where the maximum age is three. It was just perfect and Max had such a lovely time…  climbing, falling, building, sliding, bouncing and loads more, each one accompanied but a huge smile. Fortunately, there was one other ‘grampy’ there, obviously on duty like me. The rest were a load of young mums with their adored offspring; each one with a mobile phone tucked into their back pocket – the young mums not the little darlings. When their child was engaged in some physical activity they would whip the phone out, press various keys with swift use of thumb and fingers, before looking up and smiling if their child called.

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Max was wonderful, he loved playing and he loved being with other human being his own height. There was no language other than grunts, pointed fingers and giggles. It was lovely, no aggression or arguing just kids having fun together. Some haven’t quite learned the art of lining up correctly, but that will come in due course.

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We spent several hours here and I loved every single minute. We were both hot and tired. We had forgotten about Storm Callum and were still thinking about the long hot summer days and we left Coconuts and headed north.

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Coconuts is actually built on ‘HALLOWED GROUND’. It is built on the old Barry railway on the old line between Biglis Junction and Sully Station. As you approach and leave you actually have to drive over one of the bridges that carried countless old steam trains years ago; many carrying passengers to and from Barry Island others carrying good wagons full of essential supplies.

We headed for McDonalds to enjoy an ice cream together. We ordered and took our table ready to eat. Max absolutely loved his – eating every single bit in record time. Had I known, I would have ordered him a bigger one. What a delight!

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Next we headed back towards Dinas. It was time for lunch and ne better place to eat it than in The Plug. My favourite Coffee Shop.

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Here’s a recent TripAdvisor review and it sums up the place so well…

Long awaited return…..

The Plug is my local coffee shop, it’s always been a small intimate place to chill out and meet friends and enjoy good quality coffee. It’s run by Pete, helped by his brother John and a quite charming young lady, who everyone calls Bes! Recently the Plug has been closed due to renovations and enlarging – I think they bought the old hairdressers next door and just made the place bigger!
Today they reopened and what a remarkable transformation! It’s bigger and brighter, but somehow they have managed to retain the intimate and chilled out feeling and the coffee is still as good as ever! I understand the owner roasts his own coffee. It’s truly lovely.
The Plug is set right in the centre of the lovely village of Dinas Powys. It’s a fortunate village to have such a great coffee shop at its heart!
If you are anywhere near don’t miss a visit.

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I had thought ahead came armed with Max’s portable high chair and in no time we were sat together with Max enjoying his lunch and me enjoying a cup of Americano- I even have my own personalised Plug Mug. Max enchanted everyone with his wonderful smile, everyone forgot about Callum howling outside.

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After a leisurely lunch we made our way home and Max went for a nap, dreaming of climbing, falling and building, eating ice creams and spending precious time with a chubby little man who loves him a lot.

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We had such a lovely time…. Just Max and me.

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Just Max and me… Adventures Day 3

Max arrived at the usual time wearing his usual smile. We were looking forward to spending a great day together.

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We had decided we would visit Bridgend, not a place noted for its visitor attractions, but I had worked out we could go to Bridgend via Cardiff and Llanharan and Pencoed and return by the direct route through the Vale of Glamorgan via Llantwit Major and Rhoose. I have never travelled via Llanharan before and I thought that would be rather exciting!

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After breakfast, we began the day listening to the new Scallywags CD. It’s great – full of nursery rhymes and Bethesda songs. Max particularly likes Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and a song about a Dingle Dangle Scarecrow… He enjoyed me doing all the actions anyway! We had fun.

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However after our impromptu singalong , circumstances made necessary for us to change plans. Firstly, I was asked to meet some local councillors to show them around Bethesda as the Library is moving in during some forthcoming renovations and secondly, I was sent on an errand to buy 14 cot sheets and blankets and other bits for our local Christian Conference Centre. The Lady of the house had issued the instructions and I thought it wise to keep her sweet – always a wise thing to do.

 

Annoyingly, the councillors had come and gone before I arrived, so we just made our way to our local Asda to purchase the required bedding items.

I wasn’t sure how good Max is in a supermarket, but I needn’t have worried – he was fab. I played my usual trick of sitting Max in the trolley and pushed him, so he was looking forward. After all trailing around Asda looking at me is not good for anyone’s health!

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We checked in with Asda’s new self-scanning checkout tool. Max loved it and I can tell you that the little hand sets are almost indestructible, as Max launched ours several times and set it crashing across two aisles without any apparent damage at all and it still managed to keep a record of all we had bought!

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We bought all we had to, picked up a few after school snacks for Max’s brother and cousins and made our way out.

A visit to Penarth was next on our agenda after the disappointment of the Bridgend trip.

The Tourist board describes Penarth like this…

Penarth is a seaside town full of charm and character just across the water from Cardiff bay. Penarth’s Victorian and Edwardian founders created an elegant resort with fine public buildings and ornate houses. Its restored art-deco pier, complete with art gallery and cinema is a popular spot for a stroll and port of call for the Balmoral Paddle Steamer.

Penarth boasts a number of splendid parks that link the seafront to the quirky independent shops in the tree-lined centre.

If you go on Trip Advisor, you will find the ‘Top 10 things to do in Penarth’ Hilariously 8 of the top 10 are in Cardiff and include

The Millennium Stadium, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Boat, The Millennium Centre,

Techniquest, Cardiff Glass, Cardiff Bay and the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

Only two are in Penarth… Cosmeston Park and Lakes and Penarth Pier!

We were heading for the Pier. Number 5 on the list.

Parking was a nightmare and I circled the Esplanade three times before finding a parking space. Eventually, we set off from the car and Max loved it. Max always enjoys a ride in the pushchair and happily swings his legs and takes an interest in all he sees. As we approached the pier we saw an important looking ship being escorted into Cardiff Docks.

In what looked at first glance like a last desperate throw of the dice to dissuade we Welsh from leaving the EU – today the French Navy put on a show of force and sent in their warships to pay Pays de Galles a little “goodwill” visit. It’s understood the French are still a little bit sensitive not only about their defeats at Trafalgar and Waterloo – but also about the outcome of the Six Nations last March when Wales beat France by 14 points to 13. This ship however was coming in peace!

As naval custom and tradition dictate, the crew lined up at the bow to signify they had no hostile intent – at least on this particular visit. This occasion is all about hospitality. French hostility – no doubt – is being left for the Brexit negotiations.

Meanwhile the French sailors were evidently looking forward to spending “Le Weekend” in Cardiff to indulge in whatever the French for “entente cordiale” is.

Max loved the pier, investigating every part and enjoying the views.

We decided to have lunch on the pier and I made a fatal mistake. Whenever I visit Penarth I usually end up meeting ex pupils from Cogan or sometimes ex parents. On the journey to the pier we had met nobody, and Max looked so smart. I worried that if Max made a mess of eating his lunch we would probably meet someone on the way back. Well the worst happened; I allowed Max to start with his yoghurt which he now likes to eat on his own. His first large mouthful missed his mouth completely and landed squarely on the front of his cardigan. I fumbled about in the bag searching out the wet wipes while at the same time trying to prevent Max’s second mouthful. Disaster…  the wet wipes were in the car. I just had to rub the yoghurt into his cardigan and lick the yoghurt off his finger. I knew straight away that would certainly mean I would meet an ex-parent on the way back to the car.

After a lovely time on the pier we headed to the beach. There was one other lady with a small child seating near the water line, so we strolled further along till we found a deserted part of the beach and headed down the steps and across the pebbles. Max asked me to carry him as he was unsure of his footing!

When we reached the water the tide was coming in and we had to keep edging back. I could believe how high the water rises here, as when the tide is high the water can be quite near the top of the sea wall. That’s amazing. I must bring Max back here for him to see it.

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The little lad couldn’t believe it when I encouraged him to throw some small pebbles into the sea. Max absolutely LOVES to throw things… most things actually, toys, ornaments, food (especially food) and usually gets a ticking off! Now here was his grampy encouraging him to throw stones. Max thought was in heaven and had such a great time. He always went for the biggest stones he could find – that’s my boy… think big!!

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After a great time with the water licking at our shoes to Max’s great amusement it was time to go home. The walk back up the stairs looked a bit daunting, but we managed it just fine. However, as we got back to the pushchair on the pavement we were greeted by a cheery,

” Hello Mr Newberry, you probably don’t remember us…” But I did of course – they were some old Cogan parents, pushing the daughter of the pupil I used to teach as a seven-year-old in the 1980s. It’s amazing how many Cogan people I can still remember and yet some children I taught recently I find easy to forget their names.

Max, with his yogurt stained and bedraggled clothes, was proudly presented to the Fentons and gave them one of his very best smiles. I couldn’t have been more proud to show off my little friend – we had had such a great time and his messy clothes were a great reminder of that.

We made our way back home and prepared the after-school snacks for Max’s brother and cousins. Having all of them around after school was the perfect end to a truly lovely day!

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It was another lovely day, Just Max and me… friends together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Max and me… Adventures Day 2

On the way home from school on Thursday Alfie asked me, “is Grandma still at your house?”

No sooner had he said it, he realised his mistake and after hitting his head a few times with a clenched fist he corrected himself. ‘Is Margaret at your house?” he said giggling.

 

Max arrived a little later than usual. His mum was taking Alfie to Breakfast Club – a real treat for them both. When I opened the door I didn’t know what to expect as Poor max had been unwell earlier in the week with his new teeth and various minor infections. I was met with the biggest smile ever and I knew my little friend was better and looking forward to one of our Friday specials, Just Max and me. However today was going to be slightly different. Today was going to be Just Max and me and Margaret.

Margaret is my friend. We met by accident 26 years ago nearly when I paid a trip to Northern France to sing with a group of young people.  It’s been a lovely friendship based on mutual respect and a desire to support each other. Margaret teaches English to Senior Citizens in France and also tries to share her Christian love with all she meets. She has dedicated her life to serving others.

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Max spent the first couple of hours having his breakfast, playing and watching train videos – his absolute favourite pastime. Watching steam train videos is a mark of great parenting (and grandparenting) skills!

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After breakfast we had a game of ‘Hide the Remote Control’. I am beginning to get to now some of Max’s favourite places to hide it!

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We had already decided to head for Barry Island, it was a glorious day late in September – too nice to stay at home. However Max looked a little tired and so we decided he would catch a later train after he had chance to nap. He certainly didn’t want to sleep all the way around Barry Island.

 

The yapping dog woke Max and we prepared to set off. It was something of a motley crew Max , Margaret and me!

Going to Barry on the train is wonderful but for a young lad in a pushchair it has a nightmare beginning. We have to negotiate the iron bridge over to the Barry Island Platform or Platform 2 as the lady robot announcer calls it.

So, pushchair under one arm and the other holding Max’s left hand and Margaret holding Max’s right hand we set off.

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The train arrived on schedule and as Max saw the oncoming train he was visibly shaking with the greatest excitement. Unprompted, he waved frantically at the driver who waved frantically back and even gave him a personal toot on the train horn.DSC01369

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Max was very anxious to leave the confines of the pushchair and sat excitedly by the window. He just loved the train journey, down through Dinas Powys, across the moors, through Cadoxton and the various Barry Stations. As we slowed down Max waved to every single passenger waiting on every single station.

When the guard came around I had a moment of panic! In my rush to make sure I had everything, I realised I had left the very thing I needed most at home – not Max or Margaret but my wallet. I searched every pocket three times at least as she inched her way towards me. A big smile and a cheery ‘Tickets please’ gave me hope. I asked her if I could pay with my phone and after she confirmed that I could all was well. I gave all my fellow passengers a look of disbelief and told them I had no idea how it works but was grateful that it did. They all smiled and looked at the two ‘old dears’ and the smiling little lad!

As we were heading towards Cadoxton, Margaret must have been thinking and she asked me if Alfie ever still called her grandma. I smiled and told her what Alfie had said to me just the day before! I think she liked that.

She replied, “Well, he’s the nearest I will ever get to be anyone’s grandma!”

I had a moment of sadness in my happy day. Margaret would have made a lovely ‘grandma’ – she has so many talents that she could have shared with them. Mia used to love and sit and watch Margaret knitting and they would often spend hours together.

As the train past the Docks Building I explained to Margaret what an wonderful building it was.

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The Dock Offices at Barry cost £59,000 to build. Constructed of red brick and Portland stone, a clock tower was added at an additional cost of £6,000. It has a ‘theme’ of the calendar. There are four floors – the seasons of the year; seven lights in the traceried fanlight window – days of the week. The porch has twelve panels – months of the year.
Within the building are 52 marble fireplaces – weeks of the year. The windows number 365 days, one for each day of the year. Each window has four panes of glass – weeks to a month. In the east and west walls of the entrance hall are two circular windows – Sun and Moon. The staircase, made of Portland stone, has 31 steps (days of the month) from ground to first and second floors and has an ornamental ironwork balustrade with circular foliage and fruit trails.

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We pulled into Barry Island spot on time and made our way off the station. I looked at the lovely old building and remembered many happy visits here in the 1950s, when I arrived on a proper steam train and Barry Island had a proper station. How good it would be if the new franchise did up these great old places.

 

I spent many happy hours in Barry Island as a child. My mum and dad would take us on the train from Llanishen Station to Barry Island on a regular basis. Most of the journeys were on steam trains. Unforgettable bliss!

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On the way, we would hold our breath after Grangetown Station, as the train would take one of two routes as it approached Penarth. The short way was via Cogan, Dinas Powys and Cadoxton and on to Barry, but the long way, which always brought groans from us kids, was through Penarth via Dingle Road, Alberta Place Halt, Swanbridge, Lavernock and Sully, before joining the main line near Cadoxton. I would give my right arm to be able to travel that line again on a steam train. Sadly houses have been built on the track bed in some places and so that dream will never become a reality and I will never have to learn to write with my left hand!! A few years ago I did walk the old line from Biglis Roundabout to Penarth Station. I had to sneak through a garden near Lavernock but an amazing amount of track bed is still left.

The journey home would be made smelling of calamine lotion as we always got sunburnt and spent two days in agony every time. No sun cream or after sun gel in those days!

Max loves to ride in the pushchair and look out at all the interesting things there is to see. We had to walk around the fairground, now closed until next summer and headed towards the beach, It was glorious. Max was so happy. After crossing the road Max got out to walk and investigate everything. He’s just at that age where he wants to look into everything and find out about things.

 

We walked down towards the beach and stood by  Number 4 on the sea wall, the scene of many beach missions with my old buddies Mick and Clive. Max was desperate for the beach, but I wasn’t ready for shoes full of sand – some other time my little friend.

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As we walked away from the beach I saw Margaret heading towards the local gym. I noticed she had worn her trainers and was thinking maybe she was after completing a couple of circuits….

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We headed for Whitmore and Jackson’s, Max needed his lunch and Margaret and I were about to share a cream tea, Doug and Joy’s Christmas present to her from last year! It was delicious.

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Max negotiated his way through his lunch, insisting he ate both yoghurts all on his own – he did a great job!  Some of his jam sandwich fingers ended up with one side on the floor but he enjoyed it all. He certainly has a great appetite.

We were having such a lovely time that we decided to catch a later train home, which we did.

With some spare time I was able to tell Max and Margaret about the old tunnel that once ran between Barry Island Station  and the little dock station. At one time you could get a train right to where the Paddle Steamers left for Weston and Minehead. I would loved to have travelled on that little stretch.

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We had another bout of Max shaking with excitement as the train crawled around the sharp bend into Barry  Island Station for our trip home. Amazingly Max had another wave from the driver and another special toot from the horn. Max needs no prompting he just waves madly himself. Even I get the urge to wave at a train driver!! Why is that?

Max loved to journey home, no signs of tiredness.  It was a great day – such fun and such good company – Just Max and me…and Margaret! Looking forward to next Friday before this Friday has finished!

 

He was met by  his brother Alfie who was looking for someone to be a Robin for his Batman.

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Happy Days!

 

 

Just Max and me. Adventures Day 1

A boy’s story is the best that is ever told. – Charles DickensDSC01166

I cannot believe it was six years ago that I was first entrusted with my grandson Alfie, while his parents were at work. I loved it and created Adventures with Alfie, chronicling the fun times we had together. He will soon be at an age where he can read the accounts for himself – I hope he loves them.

History is about to repeat itself and every Friday for the next few months it will be ‘Just Max and me’.  This will be fun!

Max, like Alfie, is something special. He was born to parents who were at one time told that they had ‘little or no chance of ever conceiving and raising children’. God had other ideas and Alfie came first and then Max made a surprise but very welcome appearance. He is eighteen months old now and a real ‘character’. He is happy, loving and possesses a smile that reminds me of a sunrise on a beautiful summer day. At this age he wants to know everything about everything, pick up everything within reach – the breakable ones interesting him most and several things have to be moved to safer places before his arrival.

 

I love him.

The Blue Fairy once told Pinocchio, ‘Prove yourself brave, truthful, and unselfish, and someday, you will be a real boy. I hope that the times we spend together, just Max and me, will help him along that road.I always try and remember that a real boy is the only thing that God can use to make a real man.

Max arrived early with his mum and brother, we had breakfast together with his cousins before walking to school. I love those days.

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In the school yard we met up with another Max – someone who is so famous his name is on every cooker and record player in the world – so he says!!

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After the drop offs and kisses Max, and I walked to the shops before heading across to visit Eli and Elsie. We were greeted by a yapping Mash who welcomed us in!

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Max and Eli had a great time playing together with the trains and Eli’s wigwam.

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After a while we headed home, as we were going into Cardiff to give Max some valuable lessons on the place of his birth.

Before we went Max had time for a  little relax, a quick drink

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and then I taught him all about the biscuit tin!

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After his quick snack, he walked into the children’s room, patted the television saying ‘Cho choo!” He spent the next half hour glued to a YouTube video of the best steam trains of 2016 and 2015. Epic stuff! We sat together for most of that time, just Max and me.

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I’ve worked out now that the best way into and out of Cardiff with a pushchair is train in and bus out. Catching the 95 bus into town is something of a lottery because if there is already a pushchair on board, having a second one can cause a bit of a fuss. It’s possible you would have to let the bus go without you if it’s full. Coming home the 304 bus from Custom House Street always has space as that is the terminus and you can get in the pushchair space nice and early.

Max enjoyed the train ride in, but between the Central Station and Queen Street Station he dozed off. Not good! He was going to miss some valuable lessons. Getting off at Queen Street made me remember what a great station it used to be. Now it’s a soul-less piece on concrete. Years ago it had class and atmosphere, but in their wisdom the city planners pulled it down. That was an act of Social Vandalism.

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We got off and made our way along Queen Street and popped into a few shops. Max slept on…

Lunchtime was approaching and I had hoped we would eat together but as I was passing Greggs, the pushchair developed a fault and violently swerved to the left. I felt compelled to stop and sample some of Greggs finest wares, giving the pushchair a chance to correct itself.

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I had a Steak slice and a carton of fresh soup – chicken, butternut squash and greens. It was exquisite! The soup had a slight ‘aromatic’ taste which was beautiful and anyone who has ever eaten a Gregg’s Steak Slice will know it’s the nearest thing to heaven this side of the veil. Max slept on.

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We then made our way to the market so I could show Max Ashton’s Fish counter and the butchers in the far left hand corner of the market hall. Both are legendary places in my humble opinion. Every child should spend as much time as possible looking and learning and being fascinated by these great shops.

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Max slept on…

Had he been awake I would have shown him the pigs’ heads, the ox hearts and the sheep testicles, as well as the massive beef bones. This butcher wastes not a thing. One day I must try cow cheeks he has on sale, although my days of eating tongue have sadly passed. Growing up we often had all kinds of strange meat – liver, stuffed hearts and rabbit, but I only ever saw my dad eat brains once – only ever once!! I can’t think why!

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As we were leaving the market  the little man stirred and a street musician nearby playing loudly helped him wake up. But the timing was good, we were nearing Howells, where I had planned to take lunch.

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If you know Howells you will know the second floor restaurant which has a wonderful play area for the kids. Sadly the shop’s days are numbered, Howells will soon become block of apartments and this historic building will no longer be  a part of the lives of Cardiffians as it has been for generations. (I hope they save the church hidden with its walls!)

We made our way to the second floor where Max enjoyed the lovely lunch his dad and mum had prepared. While the rest of the shop appeared empty the restaurant area was quite full of young mums and some families all with at least one little person with them. It was so lovely. We made a rather an inglorious entrance. I found a place quite near the counter, collected a high chair for Max, but as I lifted him out of the pushchair, the weight of his bags made the pushchair tip backwards and as it did it knocked a chair over which made a terrible racket! For a few brief seconds chaos reigned. All eyes turned to see what was happening with this little old fat chap with the cute little boy. I think I got away with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes.

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Max enjoyed his lunch immensely, but kept looking over his shoulder at the other little kids playing quietly. He obviously wanted to get down with them, which he eventually did. He was great and played quietly with the others and when it was time, he sat quietly back in his pushchair as we made our way to catch the two o’clock 304 bus back home.

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It was the bus journey home that in many ways was the highlight of the day. We got on and parked the pushchair and immediately Max wanted to get out. Was this the best course of action for a one year old on a bus ride home? Absolutely!

Max loved it! He loved looking out of the window and waving at anyone who passed.

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He stood up on he seat and waved at all the other passengers on the bus and all the passengers on the bus waved back. His smile lit up the whole place. He then proceeded to play ‘peek-a-boo’ with the middle aged couple in the seat behind. He would duck down behind the seat and look up at them between the handle. It was so cute! He had a fit of the giggles, which lasted much of the way home. Most of the bus waved to him as we got off.

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When we got home he walked straight into the children’s room patted the television and said ‘Choo-choo!’ I sat on the settee, patted the settee beside me and my little friend came and sat quietly beside me.

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Dad arrived soon after and Max was bundled into the van to pick up his big brother.

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It was such a lovely day, I’m sixty five and half years older than him, but we had such a special time…

Just Max and me.

 

 

My Life in Five Books

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Once upon a time, many years ago I learnt to read. It was, on reflection, one of the best things I ever did. I love books, but I openly confess I am far from the world’s best reader.

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Despite owning hundreds of books, I often find my time reading for pleasure is limited to holidays and breaks away.

For forty years I helped and encouraged hundreds of children to discover the joy of reading, with some I succeeded, with others…well, I am not too sure. All I hope is that they all knew that I loved reading.

I had the idea of ‘My Life in Five Books’ from a series on Cardiff TV (Sky 137) which runs a series called ‘My Life in Five Pictures’, in which celebrities are asked to show five pictures which sum up their lives. It’s a great watch! So, I thought of the idea of this. Later I came across a series called My Life in Books It thought it only ran for a few programmes, but Google just told me there were two series of ten episodes! Who knew?

Before I start, here’s a list of some of those I considered carefully but decided did not reach top five status. For some it was a close thing….

  • Danny, The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.
  • Poems that make Grown Men Cry edited by Anthony and Ben Holden
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • The Journals of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
  • Narziss and Goldmund by Herman Hesse
  • A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
  • The Barry Scrapyard by Allen Warren
  • Boy by David Wagner
  • The Vicar of Nibbleswick by Roald Dahl
  • Heard in the Playground by Alan Ahlberg
  • The Johnny Morris Storybook – a BBC publication
  • The Woolpack by Cynthia Harnett

…and really a host of others, too numerous to mention and I guess if I sat down and complied the list again in a month or two, some of these would be included!

So here we go… My Life in Five Books.

Counting down.

 

Number 5.              

Emil and The Detectives by Erich Kästner

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This was the first book I ever remember reading right through. I must have been about eight or nine. It’s the most wonderful story and one which I read many times to the children in my various classes. There are updated versions around, but the original seems to hold some kind of magic that newer versions seem to lack. This version has the selling price when new of 20p. My previous edition which fell apart was priced at one shilling (1/-)

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It’s about a young boy called Emil.

Emil Tischbein is a boy who lives in a small town and he who has to take some money by train to his grandmother, who lives in the big city, Berlin. They are quite poor. He is being brought up by a single mother, his dad has died. She has to work as a decidedly un-posh hairdresser with her front room used as her salon. Emil is anxious about the money in his pocket on the train, so much so that he pins the money to the inside pocket of his jacket.

He’s also anxious about a crime he’s committed. When he was out one day with his friends, he drew a moustache on the face of the town statue of the Grand Duke Charles.

On the way to Berlin, Emil sits in a carriage with an odd-looking man, Herr Grundeis, and though he tries to avoid it happening, Emil falls asleep. When he wakes up, his money has gone and so has Herr Grundeis.

In the rest of the story, we live with Emil’s swirling emotions, his meetings with a group of boys in Berlin, who, together with Emil set out on the trail of of Grundeis. The reason why Emil doesn’t involve the police is because he fears exposure as the criminal who daubed the Grand Duke’s statue. Emil and the boys end up catching the man who they knew had done it, and then in a great way prove his guilt to unbelieving adults after the capture. (It’s the pin holes in the notes….)

It was an instant hit when it was published in 1928, and three years later it was adapted into a film, which itself was innovative in the realistic acting of child actors and the use of “synch” sound on location on the streets of Berlin. The book has been translated and adapted thousands of times.

It is, of course, a pre-Nazi book, and the Nazis didn’t quite know what to do with the book, or Kästner. They burned some of his books, yet he stayed in Germany throughout the Third Reich. They didn’t ban Emil – but they competed with it by publishing a story of a martyred hero of the Hitler Youth.

Between the writing of Emil and the Detectives and me reading it, lay the disaster that Kästner feared, The Second World War.  No one knew at the time that the boy actors of the German and British versions of the films ended up in armed forces fighting each other.

 

Number 4.            

Singing Away the Hunger by Mpho ‘M’atsepo Nthunya

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This is a truly incredible book with a wonderfully touching story behind it. I came across the book while Googling stuff about the country of Lesotho. A friend of mine moved there in 1990 and I visited in 2000. I then became involved in school twinning, as Wales and Lesotho are twinned counties – incidentally the world’s first twinned counties. I made numerous other visits to The Mountain Kingdom and I later became involved with an organisation called Dolen Cymru which encouraged linking activities. I was chair of the Education Committee and helped many teachers set up school links.

I bought the book from Amazon and it blew me away.

Nthunya, a Lesotho elder and matriarch, spent three decades as a domestic worker supporting eleven people on her income. At the University of Natal, she met and befriended Kathryn Kendall, an American writer.  They became friends and the two collaborated to record Nthunya’s life story.

Nthunya was born in 1930. Impoverished as a child, she often lacked clothing, shoes, and food, occasionally having to eat grass. She was able to freely attend Catholic grade school in South Africa, ultimately learning to read and speak eight languages. She modelled her life and faith on that of her Roman Catholic mother, but also maintained traditional beliefs in magic, witch doctors and illness-causing spells. As an adult, Nthunya dealt with the death of her husband, and the murders of father, brother, and children. Despite these hardships, Nthunya maintained a “love of natural beauty, as well as her sense of humour, hope, and dreams.”

In loosely connected episodes, including stories passed to her from her mother, Nthunya describes the difficult life facing many Basotho women, who must deal with a choice between the dangers, hardships, and degrading working conditions of city life as an indigenous African under apartheid and the challenges of traditional rural life. In the Basotho community, women often face child mortality, forced marriage and domestic abuse. Illness and starvation are constant threats, and these are compounded by what Nthunya describes as the destructive force of jealousy in impoverished communities. Despite this, Nthunya chose in 1949 to move her family away from city life under apartheid to her rural homeland, so that they could learn the traditions of their people. The cultural conflict between city and rural life, and between Western and traditional culture, are a major theme of the book.

She was cheated, robbed and many times bereaved, but she never lost her courage her resilience and her spirit of independence.

Customs and rituals are a constant guiding force in Basotho life. The Basotho society is a patriarchal one: marriages were arranged without concern for women’s preferences, and women are responsible for childcare and management of the household but may receive little financial support. They live under the control of their husbands or male relatives, including their children. Women who are unable to bear children are stigmatised.  With no power over men, women in Basotho society often oppress and victimize their sisters. However, Nthunya cherished the female friendships she had in Basotho society.

I was so taken with how the story came to be written and the wonderful insight into life of the country I loved, that I made efforts to contact Limakatso Kendall, the lady who recognised Nthunya’s natural ability as a story teller and persuaded her to tell stories about her life.

It wasn’t a difficult task and I made contact via the Publishers and since then Limakatso and I have become firm Facebook friends. Such is the power and GOOD use of Facebook. We were strangers but are now friends who have never met each other but share family news and a love of all things Lesotho. I will be forever grateful to her for getting this wonderful ‘history’ book written.

Singing Away the Hunger is a simple book but a great one. It forces us to question our own values and those of society. Through the voice of one poor African woman, it reaches out to people of all races, classes and background; to the educated and to people like Mpho herself. She has much to teach us all.

During my trips to Lesotho I longed to be able to meet her and I so regret I never made more of an effort to make it happen.

Sadly, Mpho passed away recently but the legacy she has left is incredible.

 

Number 3.

Seasons of Life by Charles Swindoll

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I simply had to include something by Charles Swindoll. I have two shelves full of only his books!IMG_2655

Chuck is an American pastor and writer, who I discovered in the pre-digital age. His teaching programmes are now widely available on Sky and TuneIn, but when I started listening he was only available on Trans World Radio on a short-wave radio, beamed from Monte Carlo. In those days the signal would be very intermittent and if you got 20 minutes out of the thirty, it was a good day and obviously the wind was blowing in your favour. A better place to pick it up was in France, so holidays were spent getting up early and rotating the transistor radio through 360 degrees till we heard the theme tune, then we didn’t breathe for half an hour! Happy Times!

This book is well worn and contains 144 daily readings covering the four seasons of the year, challenging and encouraging you to discover what’s truly important in life. The book encourages you to take time to deepen your roots in the soil of God’s love and grace through every season of the year and indeed of life!

My favourite reading is entitled ‘Building Memories’ and tells a great story about a dad who told his family he was too busy to join them on their holiday, blaming an excessive workload. However, he helped them plan the trip carefully, knowing where they would be each day. What he didn’t tell them was that he was secretly planning to join them and one day, a little into the holiday, there he was standing on the road hitch hiking as his family drove past. Apparently, his family shouted…’Hey look at that chap there he looks just like…. DAD!!!!’

When questioned the creative father said that one day he was going to be dead and when that happened he wanted his wife and kids to remember a dad who was full of fun and surprises.

Chuck says,

 “The beautiful music of living is composed, practised and perfected in the harmony of home. The freedom to laugh long and loud, the encouragement to participate in creative activities, the spontaneity of relaxed relationships that plant memories and deepen our roots in the rich, rare soil of authentic happiness”.

I hope my kids can remember me in a way something like this!

 

 

Number 2.

Boy by Roald Dahl

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My favourite children’s book without doubt. I’m not so sure it’s only a children’s book, as anybody of any age will enjoy reading this. I have spent countless hours reading this book to different generations of children.

It is quite simply superb!

This is how Wikipedia sums up the book:

Boy: Tales of Childhood (1984) is an autobiographical book by British writer Roald Dahl. It describes his life from birth until leaving school, focusing on living conditions in Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, the public school system at the time, and how his childhood experiences led him to writing as a career. It ends with his first job, working the Shell Company.

 

Dahl himself introduces the book by saying;

‘An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and is usually full of all sorts of boring details. This is not an autobiography. I would never write a history of myself. On the other hand, throughout my young days at school and just afterwards a number of things happened to me that I have never forgotten. Some are funny, some are painful. Some are unpleasant. I suppose that is why I have always remembered them so vividly.

All are true!’

I apologise profusely to all the wonderful children I taught before 1984, when the book was published. I wish I could turn back time and sit and read the book to you. Sadly, that is not possible. Here’s just a few of the main events in the book

Family tragedy

When Roald was three years old, his seven-year-old sister Astri died of an infection from a burst appendix. Only weeks later, Roald’s father died of pneumonia. Roald Dahl suggests his father died of grief from the loss of his daughter. Roald’s mother was forced to choose between moving the family to Norway with her relatives or relocating to a smaller house in Wales to continue the children’s education in the United Kingdom, which is what her husband wanted.

Primary school

Roald started at the Elm Tree House Primary School in Cardiff when he was 6 years old. He was there for a year but has few memories of his time there because it was so long ago.

Sweets

Roald writes about different confectionery, his love of sweets, his fascination with the local sweet shop and in particular about the free samples of Cadbury chocolate bars given to him and his schoolmates for when he was a student at Repton School.Young Dahl dreamt of working as an inventor for Cadbury, an idea he has said later inspired Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  Some of the sweets sold at Mrs Pratchett’s sweet shop were Sherbet fountains, pear drops and liquorice boot laces.

Great mouse plot of 1924

This is my favourite bit…. Mrs Pratchet has become a dear friend of mine! From the age of eight, Dahl attended Llandaff Cathedral School in Cardiff. He and his friends had a grudge against the local sweet-shop owner, Mrs Pratchett, a sour, elderly widow who gave no thought to hygiene. They played a prank on her by placing a dead mouse in a gobstopper jar while his friend Thwaites distracted her by buying sweets. They were caned by the headmaster as a punishment.

Mrs Pratchett, who attended the canings, was not satisfied after the first stroke was delivered and insisted the headmaster should cane much harder which he did: six of the hardest strokes he could muster, while Mrs Pratchet beamed with great delight as each boy suffered their punishment.

St Peter’s School, Weston-super-Mare.

Roald attended St Peter’s School, a boarding school in Weston Super Mare from 1925, when he was nine, to 1929. He describes having received six strokes of the cane after being accused of cheating at his classwork. In the essay about the life of a penny, he claims that he still has the essay and that he had been doing well until the nib of his pen broke – fountain pens were not accepted. He had to ask his classmate for another one, when Captain Hardcastle heard him and accused him of cheating. Many of the events he describes involved the matron. She once sprinkled soap shavings into Tweedie’s mouth to stop his snoring. She also sent a six-year-old boy, who allegedly had thrown a sponge across the dormitory, to the headmaster. Still in his pyjamas and dressing gown, the little boy then received six strokes of the cane. Wragg, a boy in Roald’s dormitory, sprinkled sugar over the corridor floor so they could hear that the matron was coming when she walked upon it. When the boy’s friends refused to turn him in, the whole school was punished by the headmaster who confiscated the keys to their tuck boxes containing food parcels which the pupils had received from their families. At the end he returns home to his family for Christmas. The descriptions of the matron’s bosom are legendary!

Repton and Shell Oil Company

After St Peter’s, Roald’s mother entered him for either Marlborough or Repton, but he chose Repton because it was easier to pronounce. It is soon revealed Marlborough might have been a better choice: life at Repton was a living Hell. The prefects, named Boazers as was the school tradition, were utmost sadists and patrolled the school like secret police. The headmaster, Dahl describes an occasion when his friend received several brutal strokes of the cane from the headmaster as punishment for misbehaviour. Despite this infernal school, Dahl did make friends with the Maths professor and a boy named Michael. Even one of the Boazers, Williamson, took a liking to Dahl, despite this being punishment for Dahl’s tardiness, Williamson was impressed by how Dahl warmed his lavatory seat that he hired him as his personal ‘bog seat warmer’. Dahl also excelled in sports and photography, something he says impressed various masters at the school.

Wonderful, wonderful wonderful!

 

Number 1                

The Bible

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By far and away my favourite book and the one that has had the most profound effect on my life is The Bible.

I’m going to leave it to The Gideons to give a summary of what this amazing book is all about. They are far more eloquent than I will ever be.

The Bible is a book all about God’s relationship with us. It offers us an opportunity to meet with Him and get the direction we need to live life to the full. The Bible has provided hope and inspiration for generations and continues to be a worldwide best seller, with sales outstripping any other book ever published.

The Bible is actually a collection of 66 different books and letters, written over a period of some 1,500 years up to about 100 years after Christ’s death and resurrection. It is divided into the Old Testament (the first 39 books) and the New Testament (the last 27 books). The word testament means covenant or agreement, so the Bible shows how God’s old agreement, based on the ‘covenant of law,’ is superseded by is new ‘covenant of grace’ – as shown in The New Testament.

The first 39 books of the Bible tell the story of God’s creation, man’s rebellion and prophesy the coming of Christ. The beauty of creation that we read about in the first few chapters of Genesis, the first book in The Old Testament, is an expression of God’s love for us. This is closely followed by the account of mankind’s disobedience and the consequences of it.

There are numerous historical texts and considerable archaeological evidence to corroborate the stories of natural disaster, warfare and empire that we read in The Old Testament, but it’s not merely a historical account. The Old Testament has a lot to teach us about the struggle of human nature. This ongoing tension between man and God is written about beautifully in the books of poetry and wisdom, such as Proverbs and Song of Solomon. Here, we get an insight into the pain, anger and struggle of life, along with the joy, love and passion.

Whilst the Old Testament is largely concerned with life before Christ, there are also 17 books of prophecy, from Isaiah to Malachi, that look forward to the future. These books speak of God’s judgement on his people, but they also foretell the coming of Christ and offer a glimpse of a new covenant with God.

The second section of the Bible starts with the four Gospels and the book of Acts, where we learn about the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is the foundation of the Christian faith because it’s here that we see the prophecy of The Old Testament fulfilled.

God sent Jesus, his own son, to pay for our sins, so that we can have eternal life. It’s the ultimate love story, where we get the most wonderful insight into God’s character and His incredible gift of grace. Just as stories from The Old Testament have been corroborated by historians and archaeological evidence, so too are the stories of Jesus and his friends.

Following the Gospels are 21 letters, from Romans to Jude, written from followers of Jesus in the years after his death. They tell of the everyday struggles of Christians and the growth of the early church. In the accounts we see early Christians challenging tradition, enduring persecution and encouraging one another practically and spiritually as they seek to live like Jesus.

The Bible ends with the book of Revelation, which describes the future of God’s people in heaven and the final defeat of evil. It offers a glimpse of eternal life and reinforces the warnings about the consequences of rejecting God’s light and love.

The Bible was written by lots of different people, from different walks of life, who lived in different places and eras. They are biographers, historians, philosophers and writers of theology, poetry, adventure, travel and romance who were all inspired by God.

What’s incredible is that, while most of the authors had no contact with each other, as you read through the 66 books, the similar themes and unity becomes apparent. The Bible is one whole book and no part is complete on its own. It’s a story of God’s love for us, our rebellion and God’s infinite grace to win us back.

The Bible is often referred to by Christians as the manual for life. In Jesus, we have the perfect role model to follow. He offered an alternative way of life, where the poorest were the most important, it was more important to put others before yourself and hope lay not in money and status, but in God.

The Bible also shows us characters who, like us, are deeply flawed. There are plenty of heroes in the Bible that God uses for His glory, in spite of their weaknesses. In this sense, it’s the most remarkable story of hope. The Bible has consistently challenged and transformed the lives of its readers, offering guidance through even the darkest of circumstances. It’s a book for all people, for all time.

The Bible, or parts of it, has now been translated into more than 2,300 languages and dialects. There are even recent translations and paraphrases to help current generations access its wisdom in language that’s relevant and applicable today.

You don’t need to be a historian, an academic or even a Christian to read the Bible. It was written by ordinary people for ordinary people and has the power to inform, reform and transform lives.

Whatever situation or circumstances you’re in, chances are you’ll read about it in the Bible. It’s brutally honest in places, offering an incredible insight into the way that God can work with us, through us and in us. But the Bible’s overarching message is one of hope – that through Jesus Christ we have the promise of eternal life. It’s a promise that has given countless people new strength and an unerring purpose for life.                                                           Credit: The Gideons

I am currently trying to read all 66 books of the Bible over the course of a year. I started in January and hope to complete it before the end of 2018. This version is interesting as it takes you through the Bible chronologically…

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I have preached hundreds of sermons from all parts of the Bible. I trust I have helped some people along the way. I’ve preached at the celebration of the gift of a child, at weddings and at funerals. I believe the Bible has something relevant to say about every part of our lives.

I have Bibles in the languages of most of the countries I have visited.

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One Bible in particular I treasure. Years ago, I saved up and bought a loose-leaf Bible, one to which you could add notes and sermons. I loved it. Not long after, my old friend Mick Hunt came to visit and loved it, so I gave it to him. I was just a bit gutted, but I knew I had done the right thing. Years later, just before he died, he gave it back, old, battered and obviously well used…but also full of Mick’s sermons. What a treasure!

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Mick Hunt’s Bible…

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Which part of The Bible do I like best? Well, every part of it is important – but a few passages stand out for me.

Romans 12:9-21                                                                                                             

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.                                                                        Practise hospitality.                                                                                                                           Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. 

“On the contrary:  If your enemy is hungry, feed him;if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good”.

Colossians 3:12-17

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

I can’t help thinking if the world lived according to these guidelines it would be a very much better place in which to live.

The Plug

 

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Dinas Powys is a great place to live.

It retains some of the village feel it has enjoyed over many years. However, some things have changed…

Now sadly, The Old Post Office lies empty, pleading with every passer-by to breathe new life into its fading walls. There is a new Post Office – it lies within the friendly Village Stores, a lovely little place run by a friendly couple who seem to know everybody and are always ready have a chat with anyone who comes in. I am sure for some customers the simple task of buying a morning newspaper must fill up an hour or two. The shop seems to sell everything from wine to wet wipes and frozen stuff to the free community newspaper. Thoughtfully, a stool stands just behind the always open doorway, inviting older clientele to sit and rest weary legs while they catch up on the latest gossip.

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The banks have finally gone – most of their customers using internet banking, lining up in those endless queues replaced by other frustrations like losing signal at the wrong moment and forgetting your password. Gone also is the ‘Wellness’ shop; curious this one…. In all my visits to the village, I never saw a customer go in or come out. It’s being replaced by an extension to the undertakers, obviously lots of people still passing away. The staff of the funeral home are a cheery bunch always ready to give a wave.

The pubs are still there, all three of them.

But, still fairly new, something has started breathing new life into the village. It’s a unique coffee shop. The result of a young couple setting out to chase their dreams. The Plug began life in an old ‘lean to’ – a former flower shop.

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It was a magical place, tiny, but so friendly and welcoming. Last year though, the ladies’ hairdressers next door closed, the last purple rinse completed, the business ceased and The Plug decided to expand. Months of hard work gave us what we have today.

I once described The Plug on Trip Advisor as ‘a little gem’ and that’s what it is.

If you are  fan of people watching The Plug is the place to go. My favourite time of the day to go up is any time, but early mornings are probably the most interesting. I go armed with a variety of things to do whilst enjoying my coffee…  phone, iPad, Bible and maybe some other reading material. The time spent there is great!

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The coffee shop is owned by Pete and Rachel a young couple, who are friends of mine.

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Pete’s younger brother John looks after the coffee machine and does most of the brewing.

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Pete spends his time mostly in the kitchen preparing and serving the most wonderful food – simple but exquisite! Sourdough bread toasted or untoasted with options like French toast, poached eggs, feta cheese and avocado and now Eggs Benedict. Several people lay claim to the invention of Eggs Benedict. It seems it became popular in New York, probably the recipe of someone called Commodore E.C. Benedict. Who knows…. who cares?  They are stunningly beautiful… all the food is!

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What Pete produces in the kitchen would give any top chef a run for his or her money in any competition. Amazingly, the hands that create these wonderful dishes – now thoroughly washed I am sure – were the same hands that knocked down walls, cut wood, tiled walls and a host of other building jobs, creating The Plug as we know it. Talented lad our Pete!

His overriding passion though is coffee. He even roasts his own coffee in a small industrial unit some miles away in Cardiff. The only thing Pete doesn’t do is grow the coffee or pick the beans, although don’t be surprised if you read one day of a new coffee plantation on the hills around Dinas Powys!

His helpers are a special lot! The usual young lady, a charming  friendly thing is currently on maternity leave looking after a new precious little bundle.

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She has been replaced by a friendly collection of family and friends of Pete and John, all who do the most wonderful job in looking after the customers. One young chap who was on the staff, is now in America, looking after a load of young people at a series of camps.

Sitting in The Plug, as the day starts you will see a range of faces, some familiar others not so much, coming in. Every day without fail the local estate agent starts his day there. He’s a good looking, friendly guy who always seems to know everybody there. It seems that’s it’s impossible to sell houses in Dinas Powys without first downing a flat white or some other caffeine based pick-me-up!

There are usually one or two other individuals clicking away on laptops, who give a brief nod of acknowledgement.

Always there is our local author, a very friendly, pug loving lady who also seems to know everybody and takes a great interest in everything about you…work family…everything! She’s really friendly.

A frequent visitor is a pretty young thing from Ireland, so friendly, always smiling, always busy chatting. She is the one lady who would give my lovely wife a run for her money in the World Championship Chatting Final. She’s heavily pregnant (not my dear wife!) and recently brought her mum in who is on a visit. On a recent visit to Ireland my football mad son and I actually stayed with her, she uses AirBnB. Charming, delightful people!

Every day brings a new group of friends who descend on The Plug for a catch up. One day a group of older ladies, another day some young mums with their off-spring in various states of wakefulness and sleep. From time to time a group of International rugby players will show up. Obviously a visit to The Plug is an important part of their strict training schedule.

Another frequent visitor is our local celebrity – a world famous singer and former child star. She must love it in The Plug, just another customer chatting with friends and enjoying the wonderful coffee.

Then there’s the quiet gentle chap who makes his way in quietly, enjoys a coffee and a croissant and then quietly makes his way out. Sometimes he likes to drink outside. He is something of a mystery always polite, doesn’t say a great deal – I’ve never seen him talk to anybody else… maybe he has seen better, happier days in the past.

Also a regular visitor is a personal trainer, who I would have expected to bound in, but she doesn’t… each morning she just ambles in and sits down. She is dressed in sporty gear and is close friends with the author and the young lady from across the Irish Sea. They appear to have a very close bond of friendship. Amazingly, before The Plug opened they were complete strangers to each other. That for me sums up the magic of this little coffee shop. Its a place where friendships are made and grow. Its simply magical.

Just about the Plug’s nearest neighbour is an amiable young man who has quite an important job in the nearby chemical factory. He lives in the Old Court House, just across the road. The Vale of Glamorgan County Treasures web site describes it like this…..

This Dinas Powys building dates back to 16th century and is part of the former courthouse

and the earliest surviving building in the village centre retaining much of its historic fabric.

Built of roughcast-rendered stone with slate roof and yellow brick end stack.’ 

 

Stories abound of an underground tunnel linking the old court house to the prison, which one stood where the The Plug is now. Probably not true, just the stuff of old village gossip… or is it?

He, like all the other regulars, strolls in and knows everybody there. He’s a dog lover but sadly his lovely pet, who was also his best friend recently died.  It’s hard to know what to say but in The Plug he’s among friends , people who understand.

So it goes on. There’s the young couple, both teachers who bring their two boys, both miracles apparently and the young chap who is Pete’s best mate – he’s married to  member of staff, so he always gets a special welcome.

Finally there’s an old chap, more than slightly overweight, who comes in and sits quietly.  He’s always armed with a book, a note pad and various electronic devices. He doesn’t need to order, he sits down, nods a good morning to all who are there or come in and starts busily writing his list of things to do for the day – before long his drink appears, the same every time – a single shot Americano with a dash of milk.

He once worked in a school and for forty years he kept a picture of his daughter on the wall of his classroom and underneath he put a cutting from a magazine he once read. It says,

‘Regard each pupil as one’s own – and then decide what to do with him/her’.

After a while, list ready and book read, he nods his goodbyes and goes on his way. Not to school any more, he claims to have an even better job… one he proudly describes as a full time husband, father and grandfather…

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The Old Bear

(For Jemima)

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Chapter 1

The old bear 

Day after day, month after month year after year the old bear sat in the cupboard at the top of the stairs. He shared the cupboard with some other old bears and some old ornaments. The shelf he sat on was a bit like an old people’s home for bears.

They just sat there… all day… every day. They had run out of things to say many years ago, but they liked each other’s company. Most days were the same. They all just sat on the shelf in the cupboard at the top of the stairs.

The old man and his wife, who lived in the house, would often walk past the cupboard, but these days they hardly ever stopped to look in and say hello.

Some days, and these were the days the old bear liked best, some children came to visit and the house was filled with lots of giggling and laughing and the young ones would run past the cupboard playing their childhood games of hide and seek or making dens from loads of blankets and pillows. The old bear loved the sound of the children’s laughter and excited voices, but he was sad that the children never stopped to look in to see him sitting on the shelf in the cupboard on top of the stairs.

The old bear loved company. He was created – bears are not born, they are created – a very long time ago, when the old man who owned him was a very little baby. He was a Christmas present. The old bear loved being a Christmas present, it made him feel special. The old bear was indeed a very special bear. His owner had loved him very, very much for many, many years.  All his beautiful fur had been ‘loved’ off. He no longer looked as beautiful as he used to, but he was still a very special old bear. He had been taken to bed for many years, he had been taken on holiday, he had been played with and thrown about but he always knew that he was loved.

But, there was one thing, one very big thing, that made the old bear very sad. It wasn’t that his fur had all been ‘loved’ off, that was a special thing and sitting with his friends on the shelf in the cupboard at the top of the stairs kept him warm, even in the winter. Neither was it the fact that the old bear had never been given a name. He often used to think about what name he would like to be called, but usually he was happy just to be called the old bear.

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It wasn’t even the fact that his music box had been removed. That had happened many years before and the old bear could hardly remember the tune, although he did remember that the little boy’s mother used to call it Greensleeves. The old bear though that Greensleeves was a silly name for a piece of music, although he liked green things usually!

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Nor was it even the fact that he had lost one leg. It was very painful when it happened, but that too, was a long time ago.

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What made the old bear really, really sad was that he could not see. When he was created, he had two bright shiny eyes made of glass. He loved to look at the face of his owner – the little boy who had loved him so much – he loved to look at all the other toys in the bedroom. Sometimes the little boy would take him outside into the garden and then the old bear would love to look at the beautiful blue sky and clouds, the birds flying in the sky and the lovely things around him, the flowers and vegetables that the little boy’s father used to grow in his garden.

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But now, the old bear didn’t have any eyes. He could no longer see. He lived in a world of darkness. If you close your eyes and look around that’s just what it was like for the old bear.

He lost his eyes a long time ago. While he was sitting on his shelf he would try to remember what the little boy who loved him was like.

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He knew the little boy was now an old man and he wondered if he still had the same face. He would feel his fur and remember how soft and fluffy he used to be and he worried, nearly every day, that now he looked a bit scruffy that he wouldn’t be loved so much.

But one glorious day, one very happy day, something happened. It was a day that the old bear would never forget.

It was Christmas Day, quite early in the morning and the old man opened the door of the cupboard at the top of the stairs and took him out. He was held for a while and although the old bear could not see, he felt sure the old man had a smile on his face and looked at him with a lot of love.

He was put into a bag and he hoped he was being taken somewhere very special. After a lot of moving around, the old bear was placed on the floor in the same bag. The old bear had no idea where he was, but he could hear people, a lot of people, all laughing and wishing each other a “Happy Christmas’. Then he heard some songs being sung. Soon after, he heard the voice of the old man talking. He was telling the people about the best Christmas present he had ever had and suddenly he picked the bag up and the old bear was taken out and held up. Was this true? Was he – the old bear – the best Christmas present ever? Even though he had no eyes, he felt a little tear trickle down his left cheek. He felt so happy.

If the old bear had still had his eyes, he would have noticed small girl, who was sitting, watching. This little girl had the face of an angel and her eyes were wide open as she looked at the scruffy old bear. Going through her mind was a special plan… a very special plan indeed.

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Chapter 2

The old bear finds a new friend

David Kingsley Thomas

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A Celebration of the Life of

DAVID KINGSLEY THOMAS

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1938 – 2017

Friday 18th August 2017 at Bethesda Chapel, Dinas Powys 12:30pm

Entrance  –  Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A Major

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we come into your presence in the name of your Son, our Saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ.  In all our dealings we acknowledge you as Sovereign Lord. Be with us here this morning to comfort, to guide our thoughts and to help us as we honour the memory of this good man. Without you, we have nothing to hope for; with you we have nothing to fear. Speak to us we pray, and lift us from anxiety and sadness to the light and peace of your presence.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

On behalf of  Margaret, Richard, Nicola and their families, I welcome you here this afternoon. You will never know how much your presence  is appreciated. Thank you.

David Thomas was a lovely man. He was kind, thoughtful and was never one to complain, whatever life threw at him. We are here this afternoon to celebrate his wonderful life. David was a man who loved and was loved, by his family, his circle of friends and indeed all who knew him.

He was born one of four children – he had two brothers and one sister-  in Pontypridd in 1938, although the family home was in Merthyr. He was born very early and was tiny – His family would often tease hime after he had grown and told him that he would have fitted into a pint pot!

As a tribute to the doctor who delivered him safely,  he was given the name Kingsley. His health wasn’t good and indeed he suffered with asthma and chest problems all his life. Yet, David was strong and despite his health problems, he went on to outlive all his siblings.

In his childhood to help with his health problems, he attended Jones West Monmouth School as a boarder – a school famous for educating Sir Anthony Hopkins and five past or current Welsh international rugby players including Terry Cobner, Graham Price and even one England International Mako Vinupola.

The motto of the school is, Believe, Achieve, Succeed, and for David that meant  – in true valleys boy fashion – working hard to provide for the family that you love and seeing your wife and children succeed in life, supported by his love and hard work. Both Richard and Nicola went on to achieve degrees at University and David always supported them in the life choices they made.

When David and Margaret started courting he was working as a chemist in Dow Corning and Margaret was back in Merthyr. In the pre-mobile phone days that meant Margaret finding a call box near home and David finding one in Cardiff. Their coordination skills were first class!

David’s main concern in his life was that he was providing a loving home for his wife and family. That, he certainly did – and now he is at rest and that is hard for us to deal with

In the difficult times of life, like this, I often find that human words often fall short of what we would like them to say.  But it is then that the Bible speaks to us with power and healing if we will but listen.  These words come across nearly thirty centuries. They seem like ancient dusty history to many who look from a distance.  But if we will listen, the Bible speaks them to each one of us.

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Those verses from The Bible tell us that death is not an unforeseen accident.  It is not something left out of the purpose of our Creator.   It is something well planned and necessary in the sight of God. I believe God knew David needed to rest.  It is an appointed event that will come to all of us.

David left us peacefully on 16th July 2017 and we are here because of his influence on our lives.  For you Margaret, Richard and Nicola – you are his wife and children and your lives were intertwined with his for many years. For others of us who are here, our lives crossed David’s at different times and different contexts in the course of time.  No matter what our connection with David, all of our lives have been touched by David’s.  We are all a part of the wonderful legacy he left behind.

Hymn – How Great Thou Art

 

Scripture Reading – Edward Thomas – Psalm 23

 

Family thoughts

Richard Thomas

India Clatworthy

Nicola Clatworthy

 

 

 Message of comfort and hope

Mr Roger Newberry

There are places in Scripture that are powerful, so deep, that to read them is to experience them. Psalm 23 is one of those places.

Psalm 23 is very personal. There are no references to “we” or “us” or “they,” but only “my” and “me” and “I” and “You.” This is David the psalmist’s testimony, his personal experience with God. It is precious to us. And what makes this a constant friend is that it covers all of life. With simple beauty, it speaks of green pastures and still waters as well as dark valleys and enemies and adversities.

But what comforts us and helps us is the psalm’s confidence. The writer really believes this about God. He has experienced God in these ways, heard His voice, followed His lead, felt His care. All these can be ours if we put our faith and trust in God!

Notice that in the first three verses, David refers to God in the third person: “The Lord is my Shepherd. He makes me lie down . . . He leads me . . . He restores my soul.”

Then, in v 4-5, David shifts, referring to Him in second person: “I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me . . . You anoint my head with oil.” And then, he closes by returning to third person: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Why does David switch from talking about God with ‘He’ to talking to God with ‘You,’ and why does it happen in v. 4? Why didn’t he just go on to say, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for He is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me’?”

May I suggest that the change “He” to the more intimate “You” happens in v. 4 precisely because it’s there he speaks of the valley he has walked. He has felt the shadows closing in. Verse 4 describes the crisis points in his life. Just the kind of situation Margaret, Richard and Nicola and their families are in as they struggle to come to terms with the loss of one who was so dear to them.

And did you notice? We’re more prone to talk about God when we are in the green pastures and more prone to talk to God when we’re in that difficult place. In the light, we are prone to wander off in pursuit of greener grass. But in the dark, we reach out to God and hold him.

David changes from comments about God to communion with God because during his valley time, he stayed ever so close to the Shepherd, never taking his eyes of Him. He had experienced God in a way there that had ushered him toward intimacy with the Almighty Shepherd.

We have a God who is closer than we think in times of crisis. My prayer this afternoon is that God will imprint His truth in your heart that you will find your confidence in Him rise above the storm clouds in your life, even as David did.

Notice also something else…

First, it’s a shadow. We walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Why is it only a shadow?  Because Jesus, our shepherd, has conquered death once for all. Thus, for the Christian, all that remains of death, is a shadow.

Someone once said…. Just like the shadow of a snake cannot bite you, or the shadow of a sword cannot cut you…the shadow of death does not bring fear to those who follow Jesus.

And who better to lead us through the shadow than Jesus—who himself conquered it?

Notice too, that we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We are just passing through it. We won’t be lost in it forever.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

The rod and the staff were the tools of a shepherd…and they brought great comfort to the sheep.

The shepherd would use the rod to protect the sheep from anyone or anything that would seek to do them harm. The shepherd with his rod, would tap each sheep on the head and count them at the end of each day. He wanted to make sure each sheep was accounted for. If one was missing, he would go and find it.

The staff was a long stick with a hook on the end. If a sheep would wander away and get himself in trouble, the shepherd would lift the sheep out with the hook.

David, following his shepherd God, found comfort in knowing that God would account for him and lift him out of dangerous situations.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

In this final scene of the Psalm, we see that David knows he will dwell with the LORD, his shepherd, forever.

In David’s day, kings would often throw great banquets. And at these banquets, it was customary for the guest of honour to have a huge spread of food laid out before him. He had a special chair at the table. And the king would anoint the guest of honour’s head with a special oil. He would set a cup before him and that cup would never go empty.

Do you remember how just a few verses ago, David was walking through the valley of the shadow of death? Now he is the guest of honour at a great banquet.

And David finishes by saying

Surely goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

Someone once said the words, “All this, and heaven too!” That is what David is thinking. He is the guest of honour at the Lord’s table, his cup overflows, and the food is abundant.

And not only that, goodness and love will follow him forever and he will get to dwell in the house of the LORD forever. All this, and heaven too!

No wonder David penned these famous words…and there is no wonder that King David found comfort in them and I trust that our David felt that too!

Jean, my wife, shared with Margaret and I some lovely words of comfort. She had been praying for David for many months and on the day David left us, God gave her these words from Scripture:

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago… he will swallow up death for ever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. In that day they will say,

‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

Isaiah Chapter 25

 

So, we are praying that the God of David the Psalmist became the God of David the lovely husband, father and grampy we remember this afternoon. So, as we mourn his passing, we can also give thanks for David’s life.

I believe life is a gift from God.  As we read earlier, there is a time to be born. God has made us and given us life. God blesses our lives and makes them full of experiences, people and events.  Each day is a blessing and a gift from above.

It is my belief that David was a person who was given to us by God.  We had the privilege of knowing him and loving him and walking along the path of life with him.

We have stored memories and experiences.  These are gifts from God.

 

But death robs us of much – never again will we have David with us, no longer hear his voice, see his smile – no more of his wonderful sense of humour.

Gone is the chance to tell him things you wanted to say.

Wonder how you will deal with it?  With those promises from the Bible.

God gave us something else to help – a great and wonderful gift

The gift of memory – a powerful capacity to remember.

That is what God wants you to do with David.

Remember him as your husband, father, father in law, grandfather  and your friend.

Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive

Remember the love that he had for family, his willingness to always work hard in order to provide for his family.

The separateness and uniqueness of each human life is the basis of our grief in bereavement. We could look through the whole world and we would find there is no one like David.

He still lives on in our memories. Though no longer a visible part of our lives, he will always remain a member of your family or circle through the influence he has had on you and the special part he played in your lives.

Our biggest gift to him now is to be thankful that he is at peace and to seek to be as strong and courageous in our loss as he was in throughout his life.

May God bless his memory to us.

Dear family

  • I commend to you those memories that are yours alone. The David that you knew was special to you as a family in ways that no one outside could know.

You have every reason to be proud of his life

 

  • I commend to you the love and strength of the church. This church here is a caring community of faith and can be a means of grace in the days and months to come. Margaret, this church will always be here for you and your lovely family!

 

  • I commend you to the care of Almighty God and trust that you will find in Him the strength and peace that He alone can bring.

 

Hymn:  – Ten thousand resaons

Blessing – Isaac Thomas

As you leave today please be aware that the family invite you to St Andrews Major Golf Club to enjoy some refreshments and an opportunity to share memories of dear David.

I hope, like me, you will leave with a feeling of having shared in something very special, for a very special man.

 

Exit to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major

 

 

The Committal at Cardiff and The Vale Crematorium

 

On behalf of David’s family, I would like to thank each one of you for being here today… and though today is a very difficult day the scriptures make this promise:

John 14 v 1 – 6

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. “Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way? “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We see in this wonderful passage some great truths that quiet our hearts even in the most difficult of circumstances.

The first is that peace is promised. Notice the words “Let not you heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”. Yes, I know that today is a day of sadness – a day of grief, a day of mourning, yet even in the midst of this we can have peace. We can have peace if we have faith. God is here. He is present. Believe in Him – Trust in Him and God will grant you his perfect peace.

The second thought of comfort is that God has prepared a place for us. Did you notice that in John 14, it says; “I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus has been preparing a place for us for two thousand years. What a place that must be. The verse tells us that it is The Father’s house and that there are many rooms. Isn’t that a comforting thought? God has prepared a place for us.

The next thought of comfort is that God has prepared a way for us to get there. Everyone wants to go to heaven, some just don’t know the way. But Jesus tells us in John 14 that, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” We are all travellers on a road called life. There are many detours and many side streets. We don’t need to be confused – we don’t need to be lost. All we need to do is follow Jesus. He will show us the way – in fact He is the way. He will lead us and He will guide us. That’s comforting.

He Is Gone

You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or it can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what David would want:

Smile, open your eyes, love each other and go on.

 

Earlier I read

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose on

earth, a time to be born and a time to die.
Here in this last act, in sorrow but without fear, in love and appreciation, and since it has pleased Almighty God to take to himself the soul of our dear husband, father and friend David, we commit his body to be cremated, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust: in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our frail bodies that they may be conformed to his glorious body, who died, was buried, and rose again for us.
To him be glory for ever

 Prayer

God of all grace, who in Jesus Christ our Saviour brought eternal life: we give you thanks that by his death he has destroyed the power of death and sin, and by his resurrection opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

Help us to know and believe that because He lives, those who trust in him will live also, and that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from your love, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Almighty God, strengthen those who sorrow; enable them to look to Jesus Christ for encouragement and hope, that through the Scriptures they may place their trust in the God who raised him from the dead.

Amen.

 

 

 

Benediction

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord show you His kindness and have mercy on you. May the Lord watch over you and give you peace.

Amen

 

Having committed David’s body to be cremated we now say: “Thank you David for all you have given to us in your long and loving life. 
The good you have shown us, we will show to others.

We have been remembering with love and gratitude of a life that has ended. Let us return to our own homes and to our work, enriched and inspired by these memories of David.

I hope, like me, you will leave with a feeling of having shared in something very special, for a very special man.

 

Exit: Without You!  Acker Bilk.

 

Roger Newberry -August 2017

 

 

 

Adventures with my grampy…

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Hi, I’m Eli

I was born just over a year ago. I have a wonderful daddy and mummy and two special grandmothers and two special grandfathers. I love them a lot.

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I don’t have any brothers and sisters at the moment, but I might do in the future. I love being with my daddy and mummy every day. We live in a nice house. I have a special room, where I sleep and there is another room downstairs where I play. There is my wigwam in that room.  I love my wigwam.

 

I also love it when I get to see my grandparents. Today, my mum told me that because she was working and my daddy was working, I had to stay with my grampy. My nanna wasn’t there just my grampy, I was sad about that – I love my nanna – but I still smiled, because I always smile, all day every day.

Grampy Rog picked us up in his car and took my mum to work. I like his car its old and battered – like my daddy and mummy’s.

We were going out adventuring but the rain made it impossible… maybe next time.

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When we got to grampy’s house he let me play with the kitchen.

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I had so much fun. I love opening doors and closing them. There are three doors in the kitchen. I love playing with all the toys as well.

Grampy gave me my breakfast – I love eating food, I do it every day…

After a bit, I decided to climb the stairs, I knew grampy was watching me, so I knew I wouldn’t fall. When I was tired, I pretended to be scared and I started to cry. I know that’s the best way of being picked up, and sure thing, grampy picked me up and took me downstairs.

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After playing for a bit more Grampy tried to put me in the cot for a sleep, but I was having too much fun, so I decided to play in the cot and grampy soon picked me up and said we were going shopping to IKEA. I think I had been to IKEA before, I like that shop. We drove there in the car and on the way, I felt very sleepy and I just dropped off as we pulled into the car park.

I love going shopping with grampy, he’s the only one who knows how to push a trolley the right way.

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I don’t like looking backwards, I like to look forwards at all the people and all the nice things. I liked IKEA. After looking around we went to have some food in the restaurant. My mummy had made me my dinner she is so kind to me.

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Grampy had meatballs and chips. His face looked very happy when he was eating them.

After dinner, we went and bought a new high chair for our holidays in France. I like France, I went there when I was only six weeks old. I don’t remember much.

I like my new high chair it will be good to use it on my holidays.

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This high chair matched my top. I like it a lot!

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On the way back to my grampy’s house, I fell asleep again but when we got home, I woke up again. Grampy tried to put me in the cot again but I wanted to play, so I pretended to cry a little bit.

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It did the trick grampy soon picked me up and called me a little scamp. I like being a little scamp.

After playing with the kitchen a bit more, I went exploring to see how many of grampy’s doors I could open and close. There were loads. I love opening and closing doors.

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Soon it was time for me to go. Grampy put on his football shirt, I think he was going to watch a football match. I don’t like football yet, maybe I will when I am older.

He took me to see Nanna Boo. I love her. She was very happy to see me and I was very happy to see her… I smiled again….

Today was a lovely day and soon I would see my mummy and daddy again, I love them most of all.

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Total love

Total love

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The softness of your touch

As you sit beside me

In the quietness of the evening,

Brings a peace all its own

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The comfort of your voice

As we talk in the still, small hours

Of darkness,

Brings calm to the very depths of my soul.

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The warmth I experience

As your arms enfold me,

Drawing me closer to you,

Brings joy and contentment beyond belief.

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The total love we share

As our minds, hearts and souls

Entwine to become as one,

Brings a glimpse of heaven on earth.

Roger Newberry

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Eternity

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The Cloths of Heaven

Had I the heaven’s embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W. B. Yeats

For many years I have loved this beautiful poem. A few years ago, it inspired me to write my own poem and I unashamedly use his ideas….

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Eternity,

A long time – longer than I can dream of,

And yet that’s how long I will love you.

When God saw that His time was right;

In order to fulfil one part of His eternal plan,

He brought you and me together

And started to make my dreams come true.

Those dreams so precious – because

Without the gold and riches of this world

To lay before you – I only have my plans and dreams.

My dreams of you my darling Boo,

The children of our love,

Our home – so full of happy memories.

Our families our friends, so dear each one.

Our future – together for eternity and sealed with a ring.

So, as I lay my dreams at your feet

As the pathway to our future

And take your hand and step out into the unknown

Towards eternity

Tread carefully – my dreams are all I have.

Roger Newberry

22nd July 1991

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Six jobs my kids never knew I had…

We didn’t have much money when I was growing up. My dad was a carpenter and my mum a dinner lady in school, so when it came to needing money, the only way to get it was by working for it.  I always had to do something. As soon as I was old enough, I took on a paper round and delivered thousands and thousands of newspapers in my time. At one stage, I was delivering 105 editions of the South Wales Echo every night! Health and Safety Executives would be muttering under their breath these days. Currently paper boys have about 20 – 30 max papers to deliver and are given a little trolley to pull along. We were tougher in those days, all I had was a paper bag and my trusty old bike. I went out in all winds and weather.

 

When I was older, during the School and College holidays I took a range of jobs which I look back on with very little affection. I worked because I had to. Two of the jobs, I absolutely hated.  Perhaps that is why I loved my chosen career so much … teaching – which I did for 39 years and 185 days.

 

  1. Gardener – Cardiff Corporation Waterworks.

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Charles Hallet, a member of my church when I was growing up, was an executive in Cardiff Corporation Waterworks and in the late 1960s, a nod was as good as a wink if someone needed a job. So, for several summers, I was employed as a gardener/handyman at the filter beds/reservoir on Rhiwbina Hill and clocked on at 8:00am every morning. Shift always began with a cup of tea in the mess hut. The manager lived on site in a tied house. I spent my time cutting grass, weeding and generally caring for the banks and flower beds of the site, the main reservoir was across a couple of fields at The Wenallt. It was uncovered when I started there but a room was put on eventually, as they got fed up of fishing the dead pigeons, cats and other livestock out of it. I loved working here and did it for several summers. The men treated me well, the boss, as I said, lived on site, Dennis the foreman lived in the caretaker’s house at The Wenallt and there was also a grumpy old chap lived just across the road. I have forgotten his name. Maybe it was Bill Brown.

We would also take the occasional trip to Radyr and Wenvoe, where there were small pumping stations and do a bit of weeding and tidying.

It was in this job that I saw a Flymo for the first time and we became experts at dropping the Flymo down the banks and pulling them up and dropping them down again cutting the grass – using a thick rope.

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My favourite machine was an auto scythe which we used on the longer grass. It was a beast!

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It was a very relaxed job and we got paid in cash in a little brown envelope, which arrived in a council van or car at the site like clockwork on a Friday afternoon. It was here I got the best tan I ever had in my life. Whenever I see a drain cover with C.C.W.W. on it I remember with affection those blissful teenage summers.

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  1. Steelworker – Guest Keen and Nettlefold Steel Works, Tremorfa, Cardiff.

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I have no idea at all how I got this job. It was as an odd job man in an awful place – the Guest Keen and Nettlefold Steelworks in Cardiff. I hated this job and everything to do with it. For sure, I was interested in the furnaces and the molten steel I saw at a distance.

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I worked here for most of the six weeks I was on holiday. If I remember it was after my A levels.

The only things I can really remember are the smell, the dirt, the smoke and most of all the dreadful over-manning. There were loads of men just hanging around doing very little all day. I am sure the steelworks were still a nationalised industry at this point and it was obvious even to me who knew nothing, that something needed to be done to make them profitable.

I would have made the world’s worst steel worker.

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  1. Demolition worker – W.T. Davies, Cardiff

I got this summer job because my sister in law worked for W.T. Davies and was friendly with the managing director. They were demolishing the old Penarth Cement works and the quarry, which lay across the road from it.

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A narrow-gauge train ran from the quarry, laden with limestone to be used to make the cement. I remember with the greatest affection watching that train cross Lavernock Road on many occasions on the way home from the beach at Swanbridge or Lavernock. I would make my dad drive slowly as we approached hoping to catch a glimpse of the little steam engine appear.

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The Cement Works was opened in the 1880s – the site was a commercial limestone quarry operation owned by the British Portland Cement Manufacturers and later Blue Circle. The quarries here provided limestone for the large cement works that stood until 1970 on the site of the present Cosmeston housing estate opposite the well-known country park. The peak year of production was 1962, when 175,000 tons of cement were manufactured. The famous ‘Dragon’ brand of cement was used to produce many of the early paving slabs laid in Penarth. The works finally shut in November 1969. Blue Circle stated it was not possible to upgrade the old plant to increase production any further, nor extend the existing quarries, which were closed in June 1970.

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The only factory building left standing today is the Harvester restaurant. Once quarrying ceased two of the excavated sites were used for landfill and the remaining two naturally flooded creating the lakes at Cosmeston that are seen today.

Today’s generation have no idea how ugly the quarry was so close to the lovely town of Penarth. Now, the filled-in quarry is a stunning country park and it’s great telling my grandchildren that I once walked on the bottom of Cosmeston lake.

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I hated working for a demolition company. The men were as rough as could be and their language constantly crude and filthy.

As well as being the world’s worst steelworker, I also would have been the worst demolition expert!

4. Soap seller for Nimbus products for the blind 

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I got this job by answering an advert in the South Wales Echo. It was a strange set up.                                               We had to meet at a certain place and were picked up in a battered old Bedford van,                                          driven by an eccentric and equally old chap called Mr Cameron.

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There was a bench of seats along the sides of the van and underneath were boxes full of soap products. He would drive us to that day’s location, issue us with a load of soap and then we would have to walk from door to door selling this soap made by a company that no one had ever heard of.

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Most people were very kind and some bought because they felt sorry for the blind people not the spotty teenager selling the stuff!

I had a small sense of allegiance to this job, because I had two aunts living in Swansea                                                          who were born blind. I loved spending time with them. I loved the gadgets they had                                                       to time things or to let them know if it was raining. I once wrote Aunty Annie a braille                                          letter only to find out she couldn’t read it as I had written from left to right but should                                                    have done right to left….

At the end of the day we would meet Mr Cameron and tally up what we had sold;                                                    unsold soap was returned to the boxes under the seats and the appropriate amount of cash was given to Mr. Cameron. Woe betide you if you didn’t balance. However, on the rare occasions when you had too much cash, we usually just kept quiet!

One event still sticks in my mind more than 45 years later; Mr Cameron’s battered old                                        Bedford van had a column change gear stick, which was always malfunctioning. At one                                      junction he was fighting to find a suitable gear and the car behind started tooting.                                                              Mr Cameron was incandescent with rage. He flung the sliding door of the van open                                                raced to the car behind and shouted – in classic John Cleese style…

‘Right! Shall I toot your horn while you go and fix my van!!”

Priceless!

I never knew anything about Nimbus products for the blind until researching this article,                                          when I found this from the Northampton Chronicle dated 4th January 2004 …

                                        Disabled workers lose factory jobs

A soap factory which employs blind and disabled workers is being forced to close as people no longer buy bars of soap. Nimbus Laboratories, a charity which employs 69 blind and partially sighted workers in Northampton, will close on 26 March.                                         Managing director Keith Percival said the closure had been forced upon the charity by                                  problems in the international soap market.  He said people had turned their backs on                                  traditional bars of soap and despite Nimbus branching out into liquid soap, it was not competitive.

The company has been in production for more than 100 years when workshops were                                 first created to provide work for the blind.  Nimbus moved to its Moulton Park site in Northampton in 1972 where a range of toiletries were made under its own brand as well as for major high street chains such as Boots and Sainsbury’s.                                                                                                                                The loss of Nimbus is a further blow to Northampton’s cosmetic industry after the closure of Avon Cosmetics last year.  About 465 Avon workers lost their jobs when manufacturing was transferred from Northampton to Poland. The factory was originally run by the Northamptonshire Association for the Blind. Despite becoming a registered charity, itself in 1996, it still provided money for the association.

Tragedy hit the factory in 1981 when a teenager on a youth opportunities programme was involved in an accident with a soap mixing machine which severed both his feet.

 

  1. Import Control Clerk – I.D.and S Rivlin, Cardiff

I took this job at a difficult time. I finished college in the summer of 1972 and was offered a teaching job in Cogan Primary School in Penarth. I was delighted, but when I received my examination results, I had failed my Welsh exam. I was gutted and told the Glamorgan Council, who withdrew their job offer. The Glamorgan College of Education offered me a resit in December, which I accepted but it meant finding employment while I awaited the resit.

That employment ended up being an Import Control Clerk in I.D and S Rivlin, which was a cash and carry clothes warehouse on Penarth Road in Cardiff. Thankfully, it no longer exits and was on the site where the car showroom is on the corner of Penarth Road and Hadfield Road in Cardiff.

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I hated every single second of the time I spent in Rivlins. I worked in a small office with a chap called Mr McGregor, who chain smoked – in the office in those days – and took great delight in telling me I would never have made a teacher anyway. He was awful! He told me constantly for the six months I was there! He lived in a nice house in St Lythans.

I got on well with the other people there – the ladies in the typing pool and in the canteen… but Mr McGregor … I have not one happy memory of him or my time there. I would never have been able to cope with office work.

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When my resit results came back and I had passed and was a qualified teacher I had quiet satisfaction in handing in my notice.

When I informed the council, they wrote back and offered me a job straight away without an interview at…. Cogan Primary School in Penarth. A coincidence… I don’t think so!

 

  1. Turnstile Operator at Cardiff City Football Club

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I got this job because of my friend Arthur Reed, who already had a job there. I LOVED this job. When I started, we had to report to the main office, collect a bag of float money, go to whichever turnstile was yours, collect the money and operate the turnstile and let the fans in.

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About twenty minutes after kick off you would take your bag of money, walk around the edge of the pitch to the office and after collecting your pay you could watch the rest of the match from the Grandstand if there was room. After a couple of years, I was ‘promoted’ to The Canton Stand. This meant collecting tickets not money and there were just a couple of steps up to the stand from the turnstile and this meant, I managed to watch most of the matches as most people were in from kick off time and if anyone arrived late I would just skip down the stairs, click the switch and let them through and go back to watching the match. Happy days.

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Later on, I became friendly with Mel Sutton, a tough Cardiff midfield player and after I left the job he would leave me free tickets for every game.

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I loved watching the city!

A service of celebration for the life of Mark Thomas Bateman.

Celebrating the wonderful life of  Mark Bateman

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The Wenallt Chapel, Thornhill, Cardiff.

Friday 8th April 2016 @ 4:15pm

Service conducted by Roger Newberry

 

 

Good afternoon. On behalf of the family, thank you for taking the time to be with us this afternoon.

 

Mark Bateman – or Marky B – was a lovely man. He was kind, thoughtful and never one to complain, whatever life threw at him. We are here today to celebrate his wonderful life.

As we gather here this afternoon to remember the dear and precious life of Mark, I know that many of you are dealing with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we feel a great sense of sadness. But today our hearts are sad, not for Mark, because he is in a far better place, but sad because we have lost a dear loved one.

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But on the other hand, for us, there is great comfort knowing that Mark is in heaven reunited with his precious parents George and Kitty.

When my own dad died a couple of years ago I came across this old poem. It helped me a lot…

The Broken Chain

We little knew that day,

That God would call your name.

In life we loved you dearly,

In death, we do the same.

It broke our hearts to lose you.

You did not go alone.

For part of us went with you,

The day God called you home.

You left us peaceful memories,

Your love is still our guide.

And although we cannot see you,

You are always at our side.

Our family chain is broken,

And nothing seems the same,

But as God calls us one by one,

The chain will link again.

– just think, there has recently been a great Bateman reunion – George and Kitty, Richard, Idris, Beat and Mark and other members of this lovely family.

 

So today is not just a day of mourning, but also a day of celebration. It must not be a day of regrets. Today we come to remember the life of Mark and reminisce over many of the special moments that we had with him and remember the special way he touched each and every one of our lives

 

Opening Hymn: The Old Rugged Cross

 

Thoughts: Mark’s sister Sandra Thorne

 

Mark left us a couple of weeks ago and we are all here because of his influence on our lives.  Sandra, Paul, Angela and Debra you and your lovely families will feel the loss more than others, because your lives were intertwined with his from the moment you or he  were born. For others of us who are here, our lives crossed Mark’s at different occasions and in different contexts in the course of time.  No matter what our connection with Mark, we will never be the same again because of the man that he was.  We are all a part of the wonderful legacy he left behind. Mark was everybody’s friend.

 

Memories: Gareth Musgrove

 

In the difficult times of life, I often find that human words fall short of what we would like them to say.  But it is then that the Eternal Word of God speaks to us with power and healing, if we will but listen.  These words come across nearly twenty-five centuries. They seem like ancient dusty history to many who look from a distance.  But if we listen, the Bible can speak to us and help us to understand the difficult times in our lives.

 

Bible Reading: Ecclesiastes 3

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate.

 

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

 

You see, the Bible tells us that death is not an unforeseen accident.  There is a time to die. It is not something left out of the purposes of our Creator.   It is something well planned and necessary in the sight of God. God knew Mark needed rest.  It is an appointed event that will come to all of us.

 

This afternoon, as we mourn his passing, we can also give thanks for Mark’s life. This is a celebration of a life well lived, a life that impacted all of us who knew him.

I believe life is a gift from God. God made us and has given us life. He has blessed our life and made it full of experiences, people and events.  Each new day is a blessing and a gift from above.

Mark was a person who was given to us by God.  We had the privilege of knowing him and loving him and walking along the path of life with him.

In knowing Mark we have, hopefully, become better people, I know I have!  We have stored precious memories and experiences.  These are, I believe,  gifts to treasure.

 

The Bible also told us… There is  a time to laugh  –  Sandra gave us her beautiful thoughts on her precious memories of Mark –  Angela, Debra and Paul have asked me to share some of their memories too… and they are many and they all bring a smile to our faces! They remember so many happy times, wrestling with Mark or playing football with him over the park.

  • They often remember the day at Cold Knap when Mark was shaking his tea towel and a passing tourist poured scorn on George for making ‘the poor boy cool you down like that!’ George packed up and went home!
  • Another time Mark was bored so he decided to visit a neighbour. As it happens the neighbour was upstairs sleeping after coming home from a night shift. He was somewhat surprised to wake up with Mark sitting on his bed gently stroking his face. The fact that the man was naked at the time simply added to the fun!
  • The little cul de sac, Lon y Celyn, in which The Batemans lived was a great place to grow up. One day there were two old ladies sitting on a garden wall, chatting through the events of the day. Mark walked quietly passed them and the ladies shrieks brought George running. When George came out of the house all he could see were two pairs of legs sticking up and cries of ‘Help!’ coming from the garden the other side of the wall!
  • One day Mark went to visit The Hollybush flats near his home. It was about 10 stories high and Mark used to love playing in the lift. When the girls went to collect him, he would tease them by pressing the button and disappearing up or down to the next floor. One would wait at the bottom while two others waited one floor above and one floor below where they thought Mark would be. After finding him, one day, Angela picked the short straw and had to ride Mark’s bike home. On the way the police stopped her and gave her a ticking off. While this was happening, George drove by and tooted his horn, laughing all the way down Lon y Celyn.
  • The family also used to visit the Military Tattoo in Cardiff, usually armed with Kittie’s beaitiful pasties!! On one visit Mark tripped up a soldier marching past in full military uniform and another time shouted ‘Hip Hip Horray’ right in the middle of the two minutes of silence!
  • And finally no one will forget Mark starting to play his mouth organ right in the middle of Andrea Ashfield’s wedding. Many smiled but no one got crosss, Mark was loved too much.

 

There is a time to be sad.  Mark knew times of sadness in his life. He found death difficult to understand. When his mum and dad died for a long time he would call out up the stairs for them.

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When his precious Uncle Ainsworth passed away he would wander around their home looking for him and if he saw a car like his he would call out… ’Ainsworth!!’

 

The Bible also says There is a time to embrace  – for Mark’s family this means a time to reach out and thank those who added so much to Mark’s life. They  would like to pay tribute to all who have helped him. His teachers and carers in the schools he attended in Barry and Ty Gwyn School in Cardiff. They all loved him, even after Mark one day went into the staff room and emptied out all the handbags out on to the floor, only to feel a bit guilty and put all the stuff back in the bags, but not maybe in the right bag! The family want to pay tribute to the love , care and attention Mark always received.

In particular the family want to also thank the following

  • Shoina Macrae and her team and social worker James Tranter for you untiring work and care of Mark.
  • the staff of CUSS and all those involved with North West Day Services and Mark Beard in particular for the incredible support and love and care shown to Mark over many years.
  • more recently the staff of Ty Coch Nursing Home, who gave Mark a real home from home.

All of you showed quite extraordinary love to Mark. From the bottom of their  hearts the family would like to say… THANK YOU SO MUCH!

 

But death robs us of much – never again will we have Mark with us, no longer hear his voice, see him smile – no more hugs and cuddles. No more bottles of Guiness to enjoy!

Gone is the chance to tell him things you wanted to say.

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But what wemust do is speak about him often and share the lessons we learnt from him with the next generation. Marky B was an incredible human being. The other day Sammy was trying to explain to little Billy that Mark was now in heaven and was beautiful and perfect. Billy looked up and said, ‘But Mummy Mark was beautiful down here!’ And he was! Mark taught us so much. He spent so much of his life smiling. He never got angry, never held a grudge. He was never knowingly mean or spiteful, but knew how to give love and he knew how to accept love freely.

Mark had a such a gentle and caring nature. There is not a person in this room who could do well to be a little bit more like Marky B!

So, God has given us his Word to help us come to terms with times like these.

He also gave us something else to help – a great and wonderful gift

The gift of memory – a powerful capacity to remember.

Remember Mark always….

  • as your wonderful brother
  • as a beautiful uncle and cousin, who taught us so much
  • a caring and funny man who was one of our best friends.

Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive!

Remember the love that he had for us, his family and friends.

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Our biggest gift to him now is to be thankful that he is at peace and to seek to be as strong and courageous in our loss as he was in throughout his wonderful life.

 

He is gone.
We can shed tears that he is gone
or we can smile because he has lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that he’ll come back
or we can open our eyes and see all he’s left for us to remember.

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see him
or they can be full of the love we shared together

We can turn our back on tomorrow and live for yesterday
or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

We can remember him and only that he’s gone
or we can cherish his memory and let it live on.

We can cry and close our minds, be empty and turn our backs
or we can do what Mark would want:

Smile….open our eyes……love each other, like he did…

and go on.

May God bless him memory to us.

 

Hymn: All things bright and beautiful

 

Dear family

I commend to you those memories that are yours alone. The Mark that you knew was special to you as a family in ways that no one outside could know.

You have every reason to be proud of his life. You must have no regrets. The way you, as a family, cared for Mark has been inspirational. He was loved totally and cared for wonderfully, by all of you. For all those 25 years since George died, Angela and Kevin, with Vicky and Sammy have taken a greater responsibility but you all have had input and I know Mark felt secure and treasured every day of his life.  His wonderful long life is a testimony to how much he was loved. His life has touched so many in so many different ways.

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Prayer

Heavenly Father we thank you for the life of Mark – a good man.  We thank you that his life touched both his family and the community at large for good. Now he is at peace, guard and watch over him we pray.  Father, we commend to your loving care all those who mourn and pray in these difficult times they may grow ever more aware of your love. Strengthen and bring comfort we pray and give grace to them as they seek to understand the changes that lie ahead.

Amen

 

A quiet reflection of our dear brother – beautiful picture memories of a beautiful life.

 

The Committal

We read, ‘To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose on earth, a time to be born and a time to die.’  Here in sorrow but without fear, in love and appreciation, we commit Mark’s body to be cremated, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who will transform our lowly bodies, so that they will be like His glorious body.

Having committed Mark’s body to the ground and his Spirit to Jesus we now say:

Thank you Mark for all you have given to us in your long and loving, life. 
Let’s all remember that the good Mark has shown us; we must go out show to others.

 

Benediction.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all, Amen

 

Music:  Fly by Celine Dion

Music:  Forever Love by Gary Barlow

 

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 ©RogerNewberry2016

Big Bear

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Hello, I am Big Bear.

I don’t know what my real name is – my previous owner couldn’t look after me anymore and I got sold. Lots of people don’t like me very much because I am quite a big bear. Also, I am not very cuddly! My stuffing is hard and when children press my tummy they nearly always say, ’This big bear is very hard!’

I don’t know why my stuffing is hard, I think its because I am very old.  I wish I had soft stuffing. I wish I was a cuddly bear. Having hard stuffing means I am very good at sitting up on my own. I am also very good at turning my head. I have special fittings on my neck and on my arms and legs. I am very proud of them.

I also like my eyes. They are made out of glass.

I am  old. Most of my fur has been loved off and so have the pads on my hands and feet. My previous owner tried to fix me but she did not do a very good job.

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I was very excited today because I found a new owner. He was old like me and he had a kind face. He bought me and paid a lot of money. I hope this means that he will love me. I liked him straight away. I especially like it when he said he lived with a lady who loved toys and always cared for them really well. I hope she can wash my dirty clothes and fix the pads on my hands and feet.

IMG_1136I was also excited because my new owner told me that he had some grandchildren who loved to play with bears. I love playing with children. While I was waiting for a new home the people put me up on a shelf.

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I don’t like sitting on shelves very much. I enjoy being with children and other toys.

When I went to my new owner I was put in a big bag. I was very nervous and I was very excited all at the same time. My new owner took me out of the bag and told me that he was going to take me home.

IMG_1128He was very kind and gentle. To keep me safe he put me in a car seat. It was the car seat he uses for his grandchildren, Lois, Eli and Max. I enjoyed my ride home.

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I was a little bit nervous when the car stopped outside my new house. It looked very nice indeed. It had a blue door.

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When we went in, I sat on a big bench by the door. It was very comfortable indeed. Just then a little dog came running up to see me. My new owner called her Belle, it was a nice name for a dog. The little dog and I soon became friends and Belle let me put my arm around her. I think we are going to be friends.

IMG_6316I like my new home and I am excited to meet the lady who will care for me and the grandchildren who will play with me.

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I love playing.

A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Paul George Bateman

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The following service took place on Monday 20th March 2017 at Thanet Crematorium, Kent, England. The service was conducted by Mr Roger Newberry. There were seventeen people, who gathered together to say one last goodbye to a lovely man. It was a beautiful occasion.

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Entry Music – Crimond: The Lord’s My Shepherd

 

Good morning. On behalf of the family, thank you for taking the time to be with us this today.

Paul Bateman  was a lovely man. I know that many of you are dealing with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we feel a great sense of sadness. But today our hearts are sad, not for Paul, because he is in a far better place, but sad because we have lost a dear loved one.

But on the other hand, for us, there is great comfort knowing that Paul is in heaven reunited with his precious parents George and Kitty and his beloved brother Mark.

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This is a thanksgiving service for his life. We are here to remember him and to think about our love for him.

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, We come into your presence in the name of your Son, our Saviour The Lord Jesus Christ.  In all our dealings we acknowledge you as Sovereign Lord. Be with us here this morning to comfort, to guide our thoughts and to help us as we honour the memory of this good man. Amen

Opening remarks

When I read of Paul’s  passing on social media, I knew he was a man who was loved. I read these words…

  • Be grateful for the people you’ve got, because you never know when you’re going to lose them, take life as it comes, live for the ones you love…Graham and I miss you so much Paul. Lynda Luckhurst                                                                                           
  • Last Monday I lost one of my best friends. He was one of the loveliest people I know. R.I.P Paul. Love you and will miss you. xxx Sarah Lawson
  • RIP Paul, truly a wonderful man!! Going to miss you – was a pleasure knowing you!! Fly high with the angels xxx Cha Fairchild
  • RIP Paul, I’m in shock, it was a pleasure knowing you. Lou Webster
  • Very, very sad to hear that Paul has left us. He was a lovely man and a wonderful friend to my mum, May Davies! Happy memories of a dear friend. Carol Davies
  • You are the greatest man I have ever had the pleasure to know you will be missed so much by me I still can’t believe your gone RIP Paul I want you to know I love you so much xxxxx Graham Denton
  • Paul was like a grandfather to my four children. We all loved him dearly. Caroline Lorraine Cook

The Paul I knew was kind, thoughtful and a real gentleman.  He was always polite and friendly.  We are here today to celebrate his wonderful life.

If Paul’s life was a book, it would make fascinating reading. There was, maybe, a difficult chapter or two, when life was not easy for him. Paul however, came through these difficult times to prove to be a sesitive, generous, hospitable and kind human being, one I count it a privelege to have known and loved. Paul had a faith and I believe that faith gives great hope that one day all of us who share Paul’s faith will see him again. What a joy that will be.

Today must not be a day of regrets. We are here to remember Paul and the special times we had with him.

In the difficult times of life I have often found that human words often fall short of what we would like them to say.  But it is then that the Eternal Word of God speaks to us with power and healing if we will but listen.

These words of Jesus come across nearly twenty centuries. They seem like ancient dusty history to many who look from a distance.  But if we will listen, Jesus Christ speaks them to each one of us.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

My hope and prayer is that those who mourn will find comfort and strength from today’s service as we celebrate Paul’s wonderful life.

May we remember that this life is but a preparation for the life to come, and when each has accomplished his work on Earth, we, who are Christians, are called to continue that work in a higher sphere, where there is neithier death, nor pain, nor crying. Paul has gone from the struggles and weariness of this life into a better place.

Hymn

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the Dearest and Best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me someday to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.

George Bennard 1913

Tributes to Paul from family and friends

From Sandra Thorne in Australia Paul’s sister

I was 11 years old and an only child when Paul came along. I was so excited, a baby brother, a real live doll. My parents allowed me to choose a name for the new baby.

Paul was a delightful little boy, shy but happy. Because our parents owned a corner shop and both worked full-time (and more), it fell to me to collect him from our grandmother’s home during school dinner hour, return him to Nanna’s again before running back to school, and then collecting him in his pram again later in the afternoon.

During school holidays, he came everywhere with my friends and I, Barry Island, Penarth, Cefn Onn, walks to Castle Coch, a fair hike for a little boy. Paul and I spent a lot of time together.

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When I met the man I eventually married, Paul used to bring his friends to look through the window at us cuddling on the couch. He charged them a shilling a time!

Paul was 11 years old when Malcolm and I married in March 1963. Six months later we moved to Australia; in those days, it was like moving to the ends of the earth. Obviously, because of the distance between us, Paul and I saw very little of each other. He used to send lovely letters in his teen years together with photographs.

Paul became a qualified chef and waiter in silver service. He decided to try his luck in London, acquiring a job at the Savoy. He soon had a floor where he was the sole waiter for famous people such as Shirley Bassey and, on one occasion, an Australian opera singer who telephoned Malcolm and me when she returned to Australia. She told us how helpful Paul had been in advising her the best way of travelling to Wales, and how to go about locating her ancestors for her family tree. Later in life, Paul gained a degree in Theology from St David’s University in Lampeter, West Wales. He started studying through University of the Air and, after moving to the area, followed this as a day student at Lampeter.

Paul was badly burned in a fire which slowed him down considerably but in recent times was coping well and was more mobile.

Only 11 months ago we saw each other at our dear brother, Mark’s, funeral. Debra, Angela and I have now lost two brothers in less than a year. It’s at times like this that we realise that life is finite, and we must look out for each other. Malcolm and I and our family are thinking of you all today.

       Thoughts of Graham Denton  

                                                                                                                                                                  When I met Paul, he changed my life for the better, he was in many ways like a father to me. I cherish the memories I have with Paul, he was the kindest and loveliest man I have ever met. He taught me so much about everything, we often had long chats anything and everything. Me, Paul and Lynda often went on days out, such as a picnic at Grove Ferry along the river, a trip to the lovely Chilham Village and many walks on the beach with Blaze. We always had great days out, will miss them more than you know. Until we meet again my wonderful friend Paul.

 

Thoughts of Angela and Kevin

Debra and I  have lost two brothers in just under a year – this is a heavy burden to bear and we thank our close family for their love and support.

We loved Paul our dear elder brother. We have many happy memories of growing up together in a home that was filled with love and laughter and we also had a wonderful extended family, with whom we spent many happy hours.

When we were young Paul used to take us into Cardiff shopping and to The Monico or Plaza to watch the Disney films. Kevin and I also went up to London and stayed with him for a week just after we were married. That was real adventure for us and Paul took the time and care to show us all the sights. We loved it. It was a happy time.

When Kevin was in the Falklands, I went with Vicky and Sammy, who were very young, and stayed with Paul in West Wales for two weeks. I remember one time we went shopping and bought a big sack of potatoes only to find when we opened it contained carrots. We often laugh about it even now! We spent hours washing peeling and freezing those carrots. It nearly put us off carrots for life! Paul would take Vick and Sammy to the end of the garden to feed the donkeys – there were enough of them. One morning we woke up to find the front garden full of sheep – the girls loved it and it is one of their favourite memories, even today!

Paul was a people person and would love spending time with his two grandmothers, Nanna Bateman and Nanna Davies. He also always enjoyed going to Uncle Ainsworth’s and Aunty Beat’s home in Rhiwbina on a Sunday, every week we would all pile in the cars and go for a Thayer’s Ice cream. Paul enjoyed days out and holidays with Aunty Maureen and Uncle Stewart and Young Stewart and Andrea.

Paul thought the world of his brother Mark who passed away last year. When he was younger they would often catch a bus to visit Aunty Ethel.

Now we only have our memories. We will always love Paul and we are so pleased to hear today of the impact he had on so many lives. We really hope that we can keep in touch with all Paul’s friends here in Margate. Graham and friends, we want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the love and care you showed to Paul. He always spoke so highly of you.

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Thoughts of Debra and Dave

When Paul used to look after Angela and me when we were younger he would get us baking and he used to make cakes with us. When I was older Ceri Anne and I would go to spend many weekends in London. Paul went out of his way to make us feel welcome and made sure we always enjoyed ourselves. We will never forget his dog Rebel – Rebel loved me and when we were there Rebel would never leave my side.

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Thoughts of Jean Newberry

I cannot remember a time growing up when our families were not close. My mum and Pauls dad were sister and brother and they adored each other – hence many, many happy childhood days spent with my lovely cousins Paul, Mark, Angela and Debra. There was never a time when we were not welcomed in each other’s homes.

Every Sunday they would come to our home – it was wonderful. Paul would wear a really smart blazer with his badge collection on the lapels. He would look so smart and proud. Off we would go to the ice cream shop, Thayer’s.

He was so caring and gentle with his little brother and sisters, the kindest, sweetest boy you could imagine, always holding one or two little hands. As we grew older, we became like best friends, always out cycling on our small wheeled Moulton and Raleigh bikes, having picnics or going to Cardiff Market to see the animals. We would often sneak a small rodent or two home and hide it in a cage in our garage or Aunty Kitty’s garage. They were innocent, happy times. Paul always loved animals.

We shared so much growing up and I adored him – he always has and always will hold a very special place in my heart.

Of all the things we shared, one on the most special was our faith in God. We had many chats about this and I really believe I will see Paul again in heaven. I believe he is now safe with Jesus and those who have gone before. I will miss our exchange of Easter cards this year. Easter was a special time for us both.

Graham, I know how special you were to Paul. When he came to stay with Rog and I it was so lovely to meet you.

I am so glad that my gentle, kind cousin found in you such a special friendship. I know, just like mine, there will be a special part of your heart that always belongs to Paul.

 

Reading:  Psalm 23
A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

 

 A message of hope and encouragement

Mr Roger Newberry

 

Paul left us a few weeks ago to be with Jesus and we are here because of his influence on our lives. Our lives crossed Paul’s at different times and in different contexts in the course of time.  No matter what our connection with him is, he made his mark on our lives.

What Paul formerly believed by faith, he now sees by sight. He no longer resides in a body with all its aches and pains, but is in God’s presence at this very moment.

I was very interested to hear that Angela and Debra chose to play the music of Psalm 23 for us to walk into today. It’s an incredible piece of writing from the Bible. Verse 4 says this….

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

There is so much we can learn from this lovely Psalm.

Firstly, we all walk through valleys at some time, we can’t avoid them.

If the truth be told, most of us would like to avoid those dark valleys in our lives altogether. We would prefer that life was just a series of mountaintop experiences where everything was great all the time, without ever having to go through the valleys. But that is just not how life works. Paul, like all of us, went through some dark valley type experiences. The shepherds in Palestine would take their sheep from their winter pastures in the lower elevations to the high mountain meadows where they would feed during the summer and there was no other practical way for the sheep to get to the mountaintop other than to go through those valleys. I think that’s why David wrote “Even though I walk through the valley…” The clear implication there is that valleys are to be expected in our lives. I also want to call your attention to the fact that David writes that he “walks through” the valleys. Notice that valleys are only temporary – we go through them. The sheep journeying through the valleys don’t stay there because that is not their final destination and because it would be too dangerous for them to remain there. Notice also that we walk through the valley not run – we shouldn’t be in such a rush to get through the valleys that we miss what God wants to do in our lives in those valleys.  True security is not found in the absence of dangers but rather in the presence of the Shepherd

Note also that every valley is a path to something better

I think it is natural for us to ask why the Good Shepherd would ever lead those sheep into a valley filled with danger and threats. And there is really only one possible answer –  to lead us to a better place.

For the sheep, the valley was a dangerous place. The sheep in the bottom of the valley were exposed to the predators that roamed the surrounding hilltops. And while there was adequate food and water within those valleys to sustain the sheep during their journey, there wasn’t adequate pasture for the sheep to just remain there.

So, the sheep were just passing through the valley to get to the high mountain meadows that offered both abundant food and open areas that did not provide so much cover for the predators that stalked them.

The same thing is true for our lives. Sometimes in order to get us to the mountaintops that he has prepared for us God needs to lead us through some valleys where we face danger, discouragement, and difficulties. And often, while we’re in those dark valleys we not only can’t see the better places ahead, but we can’t even see our way out of the valley. But the good news is that we have a Shepherd who knows the way. And the Shepherd is wise enough to know just how long to keep us in those valleys in order for Him to do whatever work He needs to do in our lives to prepare us to live in the better place He has already prepared for us.

Paul described this same idea with these familiar words from the Bible.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Maybe some of us here this morning are going through valleys right now. And each of those valleys, as well as the mountaintops that we are travelling toward are unique to each one of us. Those valleys vary in their nature and their length. But the one thing that they all have in common is that there is a Shepherd who wants to lead us through them because He is leading us on a path to something better.

We live in a world of Change

The evidence of change is all around us:

  • Winter is slowly becoming Spring…
  • The young become aged and
  • The new becomes old.

But at all times, God is in control.

Over time God continues to change our hearts. God wants to make our hearts more like his.

Our lives have changed because we no longer have Paul with us. Are lives are poorer now that Paul is no longer with us, but our lives have already been made much richer for having known him, loved him and walked the path of life with him.

This morning, as we mourn Paul’s passing, we can also give thanks for his life.

I believe life is a gift from God. God has made us and given us life. God has blessed our life and made it full of experiences, people and events.  Each day is a blessing and a gift from above.

Paul was a person who was given to us by God.  In knowing Paul we have, hopefully, become better people.  We have stored memories and experiences.  These are gifts from God.

But death robs us of much – never again will we have Paul with us, no longer hear his voice, see his smile.

Gone is the chance to tell him things you wanted to say

Do you wonder how you will deal with it?  The best way is with the promises of the Bible.

That’s how we can come to terms with times like these, with the wonderful hope that if we share Paul’s faith we will see him again

God gave us something else to help – a great and wonderful gift

The gift of memory – a powerful capacity to remember.

Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive

Remembering is bringing things from the past to the present and Paul taught us all a valuable lesson.

This is the lesson….

No matter who you are or whatever hardship you face you are always able to GIVE and always able to LOVE.

Our biggest gift to his now is to be thankful that he is at peace and to seek to be as strong and courageous in our loss as he was in his hour of trial.

To all of us who are here today and all who will read about this service on line…

  • I commend to you those memories that are yours alone. The Paul that you knew was special to you as a family in ways that no one outside could know.

You have every reason to be proud of his life.

 

  • I commend you to the care of Almighty God and trust that you will find the strength and peace that He alone can bring.

May God bless his memory to us.

Prayer

Heavenly Father we thank you for the life of Paul – a good man. We thank you that his life touched both his family and all who knew his for good. We thank you for his simple faith in you.  Now he is at peace and his suffering is over. Guard and watch over him we pray.  Father we commend to your loving care all those who mourn and pray in these difficult times they may grow ever more aware of your love. Strengthen and bring comfort we pray and give grace to them as they seek to understand the changes that lie ahead.

Amen

 

As we say our final goodbyes, you must have no regrets. Angela and Kevin, Debra and Dave,  Jean as well, when Paul really needed you, you were there. Graham and Lynda, I know from Paul how much he appreciated your friendship, care and devotion to him. Paul’s life has touched so many of us in so many different ways. Let’s all treasure the memories we have of this lovely man.

The Committal

We read in the Bible, ‘To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose on earth, a time to be born and a time to die.’  Here in sorrow but without fear, in love and appreciation, we commit Paul’s body to be cremated, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who will transform our lowly bodies, so that they will be like His glorious body. Having committed Paul’s body to the ground and his Spirit to Jesus we now say:

Thank you, dear Paul, for all you have given to us while you were with us.
Let’s all remember that the good he has shown to us; we must now go out show to others.

 

Benediction.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all, Amen

Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God, our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

 

Procession  –  All things Bright and beautiful.

 

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Death Is Nothing At All

Death is nothing at all
I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still
Call me by my old familiar name
Speak to me in the easy way you always used
Put no difference into your tone
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow, laugh as we always laughed
At the little jokes we always enjoyed together
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was
Let it be spoken without effort
Without the ghost of a shadow in it
Life means all that it ever meant, it is the same as it ever was
There is absolute unbroken continuity
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind
Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you for an interval
Somewhere very near
Just around the corner – All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost
One brief moment and all will be as it was before
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!


Canon Henry Scott-Holland

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Edward Stuart Ashfield

 

 

A Celebration of the Life

of

EDWARD (STUART) ASHFIELD

Légion d’Honneur

1923 – 2017

Tuesday 31st January 2017 at Thorhill Crematorium, Cardiff

 

 Entrance  –  An Evening’s Pastorale by Wilfred Shaw

 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have not made us for darkness and death, but for life with you for ever. Without you we have nothing to hope for; with you we have nothing to fear. Speak to us now your words of eternal life. Lift us from anxiety and sadness to the light and peace of your presence and set the glory of your love before us.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

On hehalf of the family I welcome you here this afternoon. You will never know how much your presence here is appreciated. Thank you.

Stuart Ashfield was a lovely man. He was kind, thoughtful and was never one to complain, whatever life threw at him. We are here this afternoon to celebrate his wonderful life.

Stuart was a man who loved and was loved, by his family, wide circle of friends and indeed all who knew him

In the difficult times of life I often find that human words often fall short of what we would like them to say.  But it is then that the Bible speaks to us with power and healing if we will but listen.  These words come across nearly thirty centuries. They seem like ancient dusty history to many who look from a distance.  But if we will listen, the Bible speaks them to each one of us.

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

 

 

A Tribute to Stuart Ashfield

Read by Mrs Angela Ashfield

Stuart has written this with Andrea’s help and I am reading this on his behalf.

I was thinking the other day, as you do when reflecting on the loss of a loved one, how much Mum, Andrea, Angela, Phil and I loved dad.

Both Andrea and I were very lucky to grow up with a great Dad. Some don’t have that good fortune, or for as long as we did.  We had a great Dad –  and here are some of the reasons why.

Dad was hard working. He had a number of jobs during his life from delivery boy up to Warehouse Manager, always giving everything he could to the job. Latterly he was a Director for Bateman’s the Welsh Grocers who were a family firm and probably the first major supermarket chain in Wales, and many of the Bateman family are here today. He was always known to all the staff as Mr A.

Dad was thoughtful. He would always put others before himself and frequently offer assistance to anyone who needed it.

Dad was adventurous. Organising  family holidays to many places, even overland trips in a campervan through France and into Southern Spain. This trip was groundbreaking in the early 1960s when package holidays were still in their infancy.

Dad was fun – Always helping us as kids with the latest project or fad like building a “bogie” (for you younger ones, this was what a ten year old would class as playtime before the invention of the iPad). It was a short plank of wood on wheels, and you could steer the front wheels with a piece of string and set off down a steep hill with only your shoe leather as a brake. When I grew up we spent many a happy evening together supporting Cardiff Devils ice hockey team, with dad loudly ringing his hand bell to cheer them on and deafening me in the process.

Andrea also had a beautiful relationship with Dad and has so many memories of him she said she found it hard to pinpoint just one. Dad really enjoyed her visits especially for one particular reason. He loved his tea piping hot and relentlessly teased Mum about Andrea being able to make a better and hotter cuppa.

Dad was brave – The word “Hero” is used too easily these days. If you can play sport well you are described as a hero, but that is not  heroic. You are fortunate to have a skill that you are good at but you are not a Hero. A hero is someone like Dad and his comrades who put their lives on the line for the freedom their Country.

 

Dad was proud– He was a long time member of the “Royal Engineers Association” and was very active within it. Being a standard bearer with a keen eye for detail, such as making sure the brass finial was polished so that you could see your face in it. He was also the treasurer for a number of years.

Recently Dad was very proud and honoured to be awarded the medal Legion d’honneur by the French Government for his part in the freedom of France during the Second World War.

It was presented to him by the French Consul and the Lord Mayor of Cardiff at a ceremony a week before he went into hospital. The picture on the front of the Order of Service was taken at the ceremony.

Dad was caring. Always making sure everyone was looked after, and enquiring if he could do anything to help out.

During the final chat I had with Dad at Llandough Hospital before the last 10 days in which he became very ill and was not able to converse properly, he was still asking how everyone was and saying what a strain it must be for the family to see him like this and that his quality of life had gone.

Dad was loving and protective– Always making sure that Mum and Andrea were safe, and looked after.

I could go on describing what made him a great Dad, however, it can all be summed up in saying he was not just a great Dad but the best Dad we could have had and we will miss him deeply.

Angela’s extra- For my part I will always remember how Stuart (and Mo of course) made me feel very much part of the family, as he also did with Andrea’s beloved Phil, and I will miss him very much.

Here is a poem entitled “Our Hero” – which Andrea found and completely sums up how we feel.

 

You held our hands

When we were small

You caught us when we fell

You’re the hero of our childhood

And our later years as well

And every time we think of you

Our hearts still fill with pride

And though we’ll always miss you dad

We know you are by our side

In laughter and in sorrow

In sunshine and through rain

We know you’re watching over us

Until we meet again.

 

Thoughts from Sandra Thorne in Australia

Malcolm and I are so sorry to have to miss this celebration of dear Stuart’s life . Young Stuart wanted me to mention my memories of his Dad. The main thing that I would have mentioned is his patience with his girl friend’s niece. How many young men would agree to take his girl friend’s niece out on a date with them?! Well, I went on many a date with Mo and Stuart. After they got married Stuart bought a motor bike and guess who went on the pillion? Yes, me! Mo had to go in the side-car. I was taken with them to the speedway every Thursday to watch the Cardiff Dragons. Mo made cheese and pickle sandwiches and a flask of tea. I took all this for granted but now realise that Stuart was a very special man. Malcolm loved Stuart as much as I did. Stuart welcomed him into the clan with open arms and warm friendship. Malcolm and I are so deeply sorry not to be at the funeral, but are hearts will be there. I can’t remember a time when Stuart wasn’t in my life. How lucky I’ve been.

 

 

 

From Len Bateman in New Zealand

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Stuart, he was a great and fun guy. I do miss him, give my condolences to his family.

 

From Theo, Stuart’s nephew in South Africa

I am so sorry that I am not able to be present at this most solemn occasion. Stuart was a man who gave so much for his country. He was an adoring husband and a loving father. He always had a smile for everyone and a wonderful sense of humour.

 

From Paul Bateman in Margate, Kent

I will always remember the holidays I had when Uncle Stuart drove Auntie Mo, Stuart, Andrea and me to Spain on holiday. We had such fun and Uncle Stuart always showed me kindness. I will never forget him.

 

Hymn

I watch the sunrise.

Stuart loved to lie in bed and watch the beautiful sunrise over his home.

 

Address

Mr Roger Newberry

Ecclesiastes Ch 3

 

The Bible tell us in Ecclesiastes 3 that death is not an unforeseen accident.  It is not something left out of the purpose of our Creator.   It is something well planned and necessary in the sight of God. I believe God knew Stuart needed to rest.  It is an appointed event that will come to all of us.

Stuart left us peacefully on 15th January 2017 and we are here because of his influence on our lives.  For you Maureen, Stuart, Angela and Andrea – you are his wife and children and your lives were intertwined with his for many years. For others of us who are here, our lives crossed Stuart’s at different times and different contexts in the course of time.  No matter what our connection with Stuart, we will never be the same again because of the man he was.  We are all a part of the wonderful legacy he left behind.

This afternoon as we mourn his passing, we can also give thanks for Stuart’s life.

I believe life is a gift from God.  The Bible tells us there is a time to be born. God has made us and given us life. God blesses our lives and makes them full of experiences, people and events.  Each day is a blessing and a gift from above.  It is my belief that Stuart was a person who was given to us by God.  We had the privilege of knowing him and loving him and walking along the path of life with him. In knowing Stuart we have, hopefully become better people.  We have stored memories and experiences.  These are gifts from God.

 

But death robs us of much – never again will we have Stuart with us, no longer hear his voice, see his smile – no more of his wonderful sense of humour. Gone is the chance to tell him things you wanted to say

Wonder how you will deal with it?  With the promises of the Bible.

Let’s go back to the Bible

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. 

 “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.

God gave us something else to help – a great and wonderful gift. The gift of memory – a powerful capacity to remember. That is what God wants you to do with Stuart.

Remember him as your husband, father, father in law  and your friend. Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive. Remember the love that he had for family, his willingness to serve his country in the dark days of war.

Stuart was a hero. Any young man who willingly stepped out onto those Normandy beaches in 1944, will always to my mind be a hero. Juno Beach in June 1944 would not have been a great place to be.

G.K. Chesterton, English author once said….
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.

In 2015 we have heard that Stuart was given the French Legion d’Honneur – The French Legion of Honour. It was given to all surviving D. Day veterans to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the landings. The Legion of Honour is the highest national decoration. For two centuries, it has been rewarding the outstanding merits of citizens and designating them as models of French civic service. It was created by Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800s

What the creation of the Legion of Honour heralded was important: it was not given to privileged people, you couldn’t buy one, the only way to get one was to earn one by serving the country and people of France

General de Gaulle undertook a major reform of the system of national decorations in 1962. For the Legion of Honour, to preserve its special status he set a maximum number of living members (125,000).  Stuart is part of a very select group of people.

Two days after Stuart died, Maureen was hanging clothes in the washing line when three geese flew very low overhead – usually there are about thirty in such a group. When she went back into the house and shared this with Andrea, her response was… ‘That’s dad’s flypast!  (Andrea has obviously inherited Stuart’s quick sense of humour!

The separateness and uniqueness of each human life is the basis of our grief in bereavement. We could look through the whole world and there is no one like Stuart.

He still lives on in our memories. Though no longer a visible part of our lives, he will always remain a member of your family or circle through the influence he has had on you and the special part he played in your lives. We know that the value and meaning of life consists in living it and living it well. People who have been a strength and comfort to others and have worked for future generations, deriving fulfilment and satisfaction from so doing, these are the people who bring value and meaning to life.

Our biggest gift to him now is to be thankful that he is at peace and to seek to be as strong and courageous in our loss as he was in throughout his life.

May God bless his memory to us.

Dear family

  • I commend to you those memories that are yours alone. The Stuart that you knew was special to you as a family in ways that no one outside could know. You have every reason to be proud of his life

 

  • I commend you to the care of Almighty God and trust that you will find in Him the strength and peace that He alone can bring.

 

 

 

He Is Gone

You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what Stuart would want:

Smile, open your eyes, love each other and go on.

 

The Committal

Would you please stand for the committal…

Earlier I read

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose on

earth, a time to be born and a time to die.

Here in this last act, in sorrow but without fear, in love and appreciation, and since it has pleased Almighty God to take to himself the soul of our dear husband, father and friend Stuart, we commit his body to be cremated, ashes to ashes in the sure and certain knowledge that the Judge of all the earth will do right.

 

The last post .

Benediction

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord show you His kindness and have mercy on you.
May the Lord watch over you and give you peace.

Amen

 

As you leave today please be aware that the family would invite you to The Manor Park to enjoy some refreshments and an opportunity to share memories of dear Stuart. I hope, like me, you will leave with a feeling of having shared in something very special, for a very special man.

 

Exit: The Royal Engineer’s March.

 

Roger Newberry – January 2017

Bob the Bear goes to Disneyland

 

picture1

Chapter 1. 

Bob the bear was a very special bear.

He lived in a drawer in an office. The office belonged to a lovely lady; she was the Headteacher of a school. Bob the bear lived in a school and all the children and the teachers were his friends.

He was a very happy bear. He liked having lots of friends. Do you like having friends? Bob does.

Bob the bear liked living in a drawer and although he was a bit squashed, he made himself as comfortable as he could. However, what Bob the bear liked most of all were the times he was taken out of his drawer, so that he could go on holiday with one of the children of the school. Bob loved going on holiday, he had been to many places all over the world.

One cold November day Bob the bear was taken out of his drawer and given to Mia and Millie.  Mia and Millie were going to Disneyland. Bob was very excited. The Headteacher told Mia and Millie to be very careful that Bob did not get wet. It is not good for Bob’s fur when he gets wet.

Mia and Millie promised that they would take very good care of Bob.

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He was taken home in Mia’s bag, it was a lovely bag with a picture of Anna and Elsa from Frozen on the front. Bob knew that Anna and Elsa lived in Disneyland; Bob was looking forward to seeing them.

Bob went to Disneyland in Mia and Millie’s car. They went on a big ship. The ship was called a ferry.

3

Bob did not feel very well on the ferry. He had to lay down.

When they arrived in Disneyland Mia, Millie and Bob were very excited.

“We are here, we are here, we are here!” they shouted, jumping up and down. They arrived in the night, so they all went to bed early so they could enjoy the next day in Disneyland.

4

Bob had a bed of his own and he was very comfortable.

There was a picture of Lightning McQueen on his bed. Bob was very happy; Cars was one of his favourite films. That night Bob had a lovely dream that he was meeting all the characters from the film. It was a lovely dream.

 

When they went to breakfast, Bob wanted to help Mia and Millie get their cereals. He tried hard to turn the wheel but he found it was too hard.

8

Bob did not have cereals; he knew that the Headteacher like him to eat ‘healthy’ food, so Bob had fresh fruit for his breakfast. He liked having fresh fruit and he cleared his plate. Bob wished he was back in school so he could have a clean plate award – then he remembered he was in Disneyland and he was excited again and soon forgot about his clean plate sticker.

 

He also had a glass of orange juice for his breakfast. He knew that orange juice was healthy. Bob was such a good bear.

Chapter 2

It was soon time to go into Disneyland and Bob was so happy. There were so many exciting things to see as they walked to the park.

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When they got to the gate, he put his own ticket through the scanner. The lady on the gate was very kind. Bob liked it when people were kind to him, he was such a small bear.

15

Bob was so excited to be in the park! There were so many things to see and do. He thought he would burst.

Millie wanted to go on the teacups first. Bob didn’t know what the teacups were. He was hoping it wasn’t a fast ride. Bob did not like fast rides – do you like fast rides? Bob doesn’t!