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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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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Adventuring nearer home – Dinas Powys Quarry

Who knew that behind the big steel gates near Dinas Powys Common and St Andrews Major Primary School, lies a hidden gem of epic proportions?

 

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It’s Dinas Powys Quarry.

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Dinas Powys is my home. It’s a village – just- with a village centre, a village hall and an annual village show. It’s a village that the County Council and the Welsh government is trying to change forever with their big building programmes. We have, unusually it seems, a community council, our village is run by local people with a heart for our village. Dinas Powys is a community with a population of 8,800 at the last census and lies approximately 5.5 miles (9km) to the west of Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan.

The village also has the remains of a Norman castle…

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….and the parish church of St Andrew’s dates from the 12th century.

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The population had remained static at about 300-400 until the second half of the 19th century when there was an influx into this thriving rural community, including a big contingent from the West Country.

The growth of the coal industry saw the first passenger train arrive in Dinas Powys on Sunday, December 20, 1898, and after that the population increased rapidly.

Dinas Powys is a thriving community with a wide range of voluntary organisations and social groups for residents to enjoy, as well as a variety of sports clubs. The Common, a large area of open space administered by Dinas Powys Community Council, is a popular recreation area, and organised sport is also played at Parc Bryn-y-Don and Murch Playing Field.

 

It’s also the home of Dinas Powys Quarry.

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The quarry was used to extract limestone. The limestone rock was first excavated by hand.   It was used in the building of Barry Docks and for the building of some of the older houses in the Dinas Powys area.   During the 17th Century a rocky outcrop above the quarry became the favourite seat of Hugh Lloyd after he was replaced as Rector of St. Andrew’s Church. This became known as ‘Cadair Yr Esgob’ (The Bishop’s Seat) as Lloyd became Bishop of Llandaff after the Restoration. Hugh Lloyd used to visit the quarry to sit and contemplate about his forthcoming sermons.

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Armed with a treasure map, which Mia had drawn for us prior to our departure, we set out one sunny Sunday afternoon to discover the old quarry for ourselves. Notices around the village have, for some time informed us that the quarry was for sale. That was an intriguing prospect. For sure future excavations would be impossible as the quarry is uneconomic and the public outcry that would follow any decision to reopen with many large lorries full of stone travelling through our village would put the furor over Charlotte Church’s recent party in the shade! But oh that I had the money to buy this little gem- a shy part of our community, hiding behind the great metal gates – and preserve it for all members of the village and the wider community to enjoy.

Out adventure took us across stiles, up paths, across fields and through dense woodland. The adventurers numbered twelve in total.

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The sight we met when we reached the cliffs above the quarry took our breath away.

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The quarry lay hundreds of feet below us. The silence was eerie. You could almost touch it! We spoke little during our early minutes here. At one time the place would have been a hive of activity… large machines digging, huge lorries carrying, massive cranes lifting and explosive dynamite blowing the cliffs apart.

Now, just silence. A silence broken only by the occasional flapping of the wings of the few ducks who have made the quarry their home. The water, reflecting the sun and clouds overhead, hid years of neglect and illegal dumping, its secrets hidden forever or so it seems.

Just silence.

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Our excitement broke the silence. We chatted, pointed things out and for a short time we sensed that the quarry enjoyed our company.

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In the distance the town of Barry, the Vale of Glamorgan’s biggest town. The lights of Jenner park stood proudly on the horizon. The stone from the quarry helped build Barry’s massive docks over a century ago. Beyond the town the Bristol Channel sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

Far below us we saw the roof and the chimney of the home of the current owner. He still lives there it seems. What stories it could tell!

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We stood for all long time in awe!

All too soon though, we needed to make the return journey. Our homes in the village beckoned us.

As we left the silence returned, wrapping itself around the acres of land which contained the quarry.

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We followed Mia’s map, back through dense woodland, fields, paths and stiles.

 

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As we neared our cars, we took time out to visit the village cemetery, which contains the graves of many of our friends – a little corner of Bethesda, a place full of memories of people we loved and who loved us. People who guided us, modelled life for us and shared our joys and sorrows. People who adventured with us.

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Our memories warmed us on a cold afternoon.

As we left, we looked back up the path to the old quarry… still silent.

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Things I want my grandchildren to learn…

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The idea for the title of this is not entirely my own but all the thoughts most definitely are.

I became a grandfather at the ripe old age of 59 when Mia was born. It happened between two very traumatic events in my life. The death of both my parents.

Grow old along with me ~ the best is yet to come!

My father passed away in August 2009 and my mum left us in January 2010. God spared my mum just long enough for one cuddle of Mia, my eldest granddaughter, for that I am so grateful. Her passing came just a day or two after they met. My sadness is that neither my dad or mum ever got to know my beautiful grandchildren – oh how they would have loved them all! An added sadness is that they will never learn the important lessons of life directly from them. They had so much wisdom to offer; instead I will do my best to share with my precious grandchildren some of the lessons of life that my parents passed on to me, others I have learnt for myself, some have been passed on to me by friends and loved ones.

My wife, children and grandchildren are the greatest gift God will ever give to me, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in my hands. What I want to do is take time be with them, teach them to aim high, to have faith in God and also be someone in whom others can trust.

I don’t intend leaving just yet and trust God will spare me long enough to see these little ones grow into adults and maybe have families and kids of their own.

Here goes

My dear Mia, Alfie, Millie, Lois, Eli and Max,

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This is me when I was a boy. My mum made my jumper. It was dark green.

I am very proud to be able to call you my grandchildren. Each time one of you joined our family you came with great excitement. Always be assured you are loved! When you were born I was already ‘getting on a bit’. I hope to watch you grow up into fine adults with families of your own and as you make this journey, I just wanted to help you along the way. I hope as you read what follows with interest, knowing that what I have learnt about life will help you all become better people and that I can help make your journey through this life just a little easier. I am guessing only you and your loved ones will know if I helped at all.

Here are some things I really want you to learn, each one is important!

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  • Make it a priority above all else to find God.

Having a faith and understanding that God loves you unconditionally and without end will bring a meaning to your life and help you make sense of this world in which we live.

  • Model your lives on the teachings of Jesus.

You, of course, can read these in your Bibles. Here are some good ones to get you going. Try and find some others for yourselves. The effort you put into looking them up and putting them into action will be worth the effort! Trust me on this one!!

 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. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with people who are in need. Practice 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.

  • Choose your life partner very carefully.

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Your lovely nan, my precious wife, is the most special person in the world to me. I trusted God to bring us together and He chose well. Being with her is just the best thing ever! Over the years we have changed each other for the better – we try to help each other become more kind and loving every day. We don’t always get it right, but we do our best. I’ve got to say your nan is better at it than me. As we are both Christians, we have tried hard to become more like Jesus. We are still a long way off but we try hard every day. We love each other unconditionally, just as Jesus loves us. I once wrote your nan a poem and I called it…’Perfect love knows no because…’  if you think hard about that title you will begin to understand. Here is a copy of the poem, I wrote it in France a long time ago…

Boo,

I don’t love you because of your beauty,

Although there is none on earth more fair.

It isn’t because of your love for me,

Wonderful and steadfast though it is,

Discounting all others your love is for me alone.

I don’t love you because of your charm and innocence,

Seeing only the best in people;

A more trusting and lovely soul my path has never crossed.

Neither is it your warm and caring nature,

Which protects, encourages and lifts me

Every moment of this life we share.

I just love you…

Perfect love knows no because.

Always remember marriage is God’s idea, and we need to love each other like he loves us.

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Your nan and I never have to earn each other’s love, we just know its always there and it grows every day. We see you, our grandchildren, as  special part of the love we have for each other. That’s why you are so special.

  • Think of your life as an adventure, because that’s what it is.

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If you think of life as an adventure, ordinary days will be special. Try and read some of the adventures I had with Alfie when he was very young. (www.rogernewberry.com)

In truth, they were ordinary days, doing ordinary things, but when you are with those you love simple things become special things.

  • See the bigger picture.

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In life you can’t always have what you want whenever you want it. Life is a struggle some times and you may feel overwhelmed by problems and difficulties. Keep strong, thing will always get better. Try and see the bigger picture! Also, you will need to work hard and save hard to get the things you need and want. You may be quite old by the time you can afford some of the things in life you always wanted, but somehow waiting for them makes having them extra special. For many people the early years of marriage and family life can be tough going – setting up a home is not easy, but worth the effort. Always try to see the bigger picture!

  • Use time wisely!

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You will know I have eight clocks in my study… all different, some quirky, but all remind me of the same thing. Time stops for no one! Once time has gone you can never get it back. Try and use it wisely.

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This plaque on my wall says it all. One day I hope one of you will have it on your wall. Look at it and think of me… and make the most of and enjoy every minute of your lives.

  • Have fun!

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It’s really up to you what you do with your life, but always make sure you have fun. Tell jokes, be a bit silly sometimes… Remember me as a grampy who loved to have fun!! Wear silly glasses if you need them, buy a bugle if you see one for sale… and a megaphone! If you feel like collecting football stickers when you are old… do it!!!

  • Travel

Even in my life time the world has become a much smaller place. When I was growing up and someone went on a plane to a different country, we had a family day out to go and wave them off.

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Now we can travel all over the world fairly easily. Travel opens your eyes to the wonders of the world, it helps you learn about yourself and more about other people and how they live.If you are open to it, travel will simply make you a more well-rounded human being. People you meet while on the road usually become some of the most valued ones in your address book, giving you points on the map to visit later on.

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These people give you a glimpse outside your hometown circle of friends, forcing you into new and refreshing perspectives on things. Make the most of any opportunity you have to see the world. Newberry Tours will look after you!

  • Perpetual sunshine produces a desert!

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I came across this quote some years ago on a calendar I used to keep on my desk when I taught in Cogan Primary School. It has stuck in my brain through all that time. It’s an intriguing thought. On the surface I guess it means that if every day has sunshine and no rain, eventually nothing will grow; you need rainy days to go with the sunny days to enable growth to take place.

In a way life is just like that!

If things always go smoothly and we never experience pain or heartache, then our lives become dry and barren. We cannot appreciate the good days in our lives, if we never go through those tough times. While we may hate them as we go through them, but when they are replaced by the happy times in our lives, we are able then to appreciate the good days because of the bad days.

  • Enjoy the journey of life… it’s a long one!

stationSo often, uppermost in your minds will be the final destination.  That time when you will say I have made it! On a certain day at a certain hour you will pull into the station.  There will be bands playing and flags waving.  And once you get there you will think so many wonderful dreams will come true.  So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of your lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle.  How restlessly we pace the aisles, damming the minutes for loitering, waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

However, sooner or later you will realise there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all.  The true joy of life is the trip.  The station is only a dream.  It constantly out distances us.

Psalm 118:24 says…

“This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad.  Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow.  Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob you of today.

So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.  Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less.  Life must be lived as we go along.  The station will come soon enough. And remember its’ always OK to stop and ask for directions, especially well advised on the one journey of life.

  • Aim high!

Michelangelo once said ‘The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.’

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That to me sounds like good advice. It came to me when I was with Alfie when he was very young, we were in the games hall of our church. Alfie you picked up the basketball, looked up at the net and paused. I know what you were thinking. In your mind you had that ball through the ring.

I want the best for you all. I look at your parents and think about the mistakes Nan and I made as we were raising them, and then realised that when you came along we were … sort of… given another chance.  In life, aiming high is so important. I look back and regret the times in my life when I accepted second best or set the bar too low and achieved things without an effort. When I was a teacher, I tried always to give my pupils only the best, they deserved nothing less. I was always inspired by two saying I found on life’s journey. One was the motto of a school I drove past – ‘Excellence to all and from all’. Great advice on giving and expecting the best.

The other, a motto on the bottom of my desk calendar, – ‘What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.’

I will share with you the words of E. O. Wilson

You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim high. Behave honourably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist!

The world needs all you can give.

 

  • If you tell the truth you will never have to remember what you said!

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  • Never be afraid to make mistakes.                                                                                      People who never made a mistake never learnt anything. Also, notice the mistakes of others and learn from them too and remember you don’t need to point them out!
  • Read the Bible as often as you can.                                                                                            You will be a better person because of it. Reading it every day and put into practice what you read is always the best way! The Bible has something relevant to say on just about everything and you can always trust its counsel.

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  • Remember it’s always a good idea to say grace and thank God for your food before you eat it.                                                                                                                                      There are many people in the world who would love to have the food you have. Many have nothing! Remember that in your prayers too!

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  • Respect and trust are not presents that are handed out, they must both be earned.                                                                                                                                             If you lose either one they are very difficult to get back. Very difficult.
  • Respect-and-TrustChildish and childlike are two very different things.

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Avoid the former and always choose the latter. I worked with children for forty years as a teacher in primary schools. One thing I know is that often, they taught me as much as I taught them! The most important thing I learnt is to look at the world through the eyes of a child, even when you have grown up. I still try hard to do this every day!!

Someone once wrote about this in a blog. Here is a summary of what she wrote and this is exactly what I think….

  1. Everything is new…

Kids are fascinated by everything because it’s all new to them. Every day is new to them, so everything seems exciting and full of possibilities.

  1. Everything is a learning experience…

Children are interested in learning as much as they can. How many times have you heard a child ask “why?” over and over and over again? They want to know everything!

  1. Everyone is a possible friend…

Children are always open to meeting new people. They want to smile and make friends and learn people’s names and what they do and why.

  1. You can be anything…

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many times were you asked this as a kid, and how many different answers did you have each time? Doctor one day, teacher the next, even a bin man, because how cool is it to hang on to the back of a moving truck? We shouldn’t limit ourselves to what seems right or practical, when we can think like a child and do what we really want.

  1. The world is full of possibilities…

This goes hand in hand with thinking you can be anything when you grow up. The world is full of possibilities and you can get in on any of them. Don’t limit yourself to certain things because of who you think you are, or how you think your job or family define you. If you’ve always wanted to be an artist, take a painting class and give it a try! If you want to write a novel, tackle the first chapter in your free time and find a writing support group. The fact is, the world is full of possibilities for everyone, not just children who haven’t really lived yet.

  1. You do things “Just Because”…

Too often adults think we always need to be doing something. If we’re not at work, you need to be reading or taking care of the house. If you’re stuck in traffic, why not listen to a podcast or audiobook? It’s great to make good use of your time, but you don’t always have to be doing something. Why not take time out to enjoy the sunshine, the breeze, sitting outside with friends or family? Your jobs will still be there when you’re ready to get to them.

  1.  You don’t care what people think…

Let’s be honest – this is the best part of being a kid, isn’t it? Getting dressed in a polka dot shirt and striped pants because that’s what you want to wear, and strutting your stuff in public, just proud that you dressed yourself. Imagine how free you’d feel if you didn’t care what people thought about you? Not to the extent you totally let yourself go, or become the office idiot, but just enough so that you do things you want to do without worrying what others will think – because, honestly, you never know what other people are thinking.

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Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Enjoy being child as long as you can. You will grow up soon enough. Your Nan tells me to grow up from time to time, but I don’t think I really want to! Not all the way anyway!!

  • Never do the lottery.

You will be wasting your money and be discontent thinking about all the good things you will buy. The Bible says ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ Learn to be content in all things,. There are millions of people all over the world who would love to have what you have. Be happy.

  • Be a good listener!

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People will appreciate that. When you are taking with somebody, look them in the eye when they speak and do not interrupt. Someone once said you have one mouth and two ears. Remember that!

  • Tell people often that you love them!

This is important because there may come a day when you wish you could!

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  • Practise hospitality

07-Rom12_13wideWhen you are grown up and you hopefully have a home of your own, make sure you let other people stay in it. When we could, your nan and I always let people use our home as their own., We had many young people visit us down through they years. These visitors enriched our life enormously. When we could we made a guest room and people from all over the word stayed in it. We loved having visits! Some were better than others but that is life! Be kind anyway.

 

I hope you find some of the above things useful. If you did, pass them on to your kids when you have them….

Lots of love grampy,

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Always remember… you are loved!

xxxxx

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Doris Catherine Wilson

Tribute to Doris Wilson

Always my Aunty Doris

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(Bishop Trent)

I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white

sails to the morning breeze and starts

for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength

I stand and watch her until at length

she hangs like a speck of white cloud

just where the sea and sky come

to mingle with each other

and someone at my side says ‘She is gone.’

Gone where?

Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large now as when I last saw her. Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her.

And just at that moment, when someone at my side says she is gone, there are others who are watching her coming over their horizon and other voices take up a glad shout – There she comes!

That is what dying is ~a horizon and just the limit of our sight.

………………..

We have come together this afternoon to thank God for the life of a remarkable lady, Doris Catherine Wilson, but to me always my aunty Doris, the best storyteller I ever knew!!

I am honoured to speak on behalf of the family and pay tribute to someone who played such a special part in all our lives. Doris was special; she was a people person. She was someone who believed in people.

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We come together today not only to mourn her passing but also to celebrate her life.

Doris was born on 5th December 1921 to William and Florence Surringer who lived in Sophia Street in Tiger Bay, Cardiff. Life in that part of the city was tough in those days. Doris grew up well cared for and loved. She was married at 18 years of age to William Wilson, who was home on leave from the forces. Straight after the wedding he was called away to serve his country in Gibraltar for two years.

Bill and Doris were blessed with 5 wonderful children, Billy, Ian, Jamie, Neil and Barbara.

During the war years Doris worked in a shop, whilst beginning the job of raising her family.

After the war she skilfully balanced the needs of her growing family with a full time job in Lloyds Foundry in Cardiff. It was hard, hot and heavy work where her job as a pourer brought her into close proximity to the furnaces…                                                                          It also brought her into close proximity to a close group of friends and each day Doris would cook their breakfast and lunch on the brazier in the foundry. She loved to look after people ~ people were her life!   This was evident all the way through her life. Children were everything, especially her own children, who remained so close to her right to the end.

Doris had a generous heart. At one time she was in hospital receiving treatment. In an adjoining bed was a young Algerian lady called Aziadi with her daughter Nesli. She was a stranger but on hearing of her child care difficulties Doris offered to look after the young Nesli while Aziadi was at her studies. Later on when the family had to move out of their flat, again Doris came to the rescue and gave the family a home for over a year – a huge commitment that just typifies Doris’s caring ways. Nesli now lives in Edinburgh and Aziadi is back home in Algeria, but there will always be a very special place in their hearts for ‘Nanny Doris’.

Doris made everyone feel special and everyone was special to her. She was wonderful at caring for people – her dear husband Bill in his later life needed many months of full time care as did her mum, my Nan ~ Doris freely gave that care at no thought to her own health needs. She would never hear talk of putting them in hospital or a home; she would look after them, come what may. She probably saved the NHS many thousands of pounds. When the doctor came calling he would often refer to their little house in Llanedeyrn as Mrs Wilson’s Ward. She had Bill in one room and her mum in another both receiving the very best care!

Testimony to her loving care for those she loved!

Doris was a survivor and overcame a number of great sadnesses in her life.

  • In 1966 there was the motorcycle accident involving her youngest boy Neil It left him with severe difficulties throughout his life.
  • In 1992 the loss of Ian in tragic circumstances, followed by her husband Bill and then her mum and in more recent times the passing of Neil, took its toll.                           Throughout she endeavoured to remain strong, the rock on which her family could rely. She never let them down and she has left them with a remarkable legacy.  She was so proud of her family.  She leaves 9 grandchildren
  • Jeanette and Paul
  • Craig and Debbie
  • Tracey and David
  • Joanne and Nicola
  • Julie
  • …. and one adopted (Unofficial) granddaughter Vicky. To all you grandchildren I will, say this you were all special to your Nan; treasure her memory.

and 11 Great grandchildren

  • Michelle, David, Emily and Jake, Jack, Kyle, Rachel, Ross, Grant, Mere Florence and Lucca (the twins!!) As you grow up I hope you will appreciate what a great person your great grandmother was!

The family have asked me to pass on their thanks too to some very special people in Doris’s life.

  • Joyce, Neil and Caroline and their children Rees and Donna. Joyce met Doris when she became carer for Bill during his long illness and I am sure you are not surprised that she soon became a close family friend, Doris was like that. Joyce, Neil and graham from the bottom of our hearts… Thank you for your love and kindness.

Also

  • Val from Monmouth. They met by accident but in recent times Val would travel from Monmouth almost every day to see Doris and make sure she was OK. Val ~ thank you. Your kindness was appreciated.

Doris believed in God and now she is at rest with her heavenly Father, which is far better.

I leave you with another poem, which I believe Doris could have written herself…

She is gone.

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

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

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see her
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 our yesterdays.

We can remember her and only that she’s gone
or we can cherish her memory and let it live on.

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

Smile,

Open our eyes,

Love each other…

…and go on.

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The following letter was written by Tracy Scheff, Aunty Doris’s granddaughter who lives in the U.S.A. Tracey would have loved to have been present at the funeral, but it was not possible. This very personal and loving letter shows clearly the love between this incredible lady and the granddaughter who treasured her! In recognition of the 10 year anniversary of losing, Doris I attach it here with Tracy’s permission.

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My letter to Nanny.

February 15, 2007
To my Nanny,
My heart is broken today. I lost my beloved Nanny Wilson. My true Nanny, my favorite Nanny, my special Nanny. Even though you were 3,000 miles away, you were always very close to my heart. I always wished you lived here in the US with me and my other grandmother was living in Wales.
From the moment I met you, I felt an instant connection even though I was only three years old. You were everything a perfect grandmother is but much more. You were caring, witty, sensitive but strong, compassionate, smart, loving, you had a tremendous love for your family, you had this fire inside that you would do ANYTHING for your children, grandchildren, family, friends, other children in need, you were selfless, always caring about other people, you never forgot a birthday, holiday, or special event. I can go on and on. I admire your qualities and strive to be just like you. I feel like we share so many of those qualities. I’m proud you are my grandmother.
All of my memories of you are fond ones. From my first visit to Wales at three, I remember the special room you had made up just for your grandchildren. From the baby dolls, to the little cars I used to play with on the mat in front of your front glass door, I remember how the light would shine through and make different colors on the mat, to the little white peddle car with the big red number on it. I loved that car, I wanted to take on the road, but I remember only being allowed to play with it on your patio, it was still fun anyway.
I remember my second visit when I was nine. You had a Birthday party just for me, with decorations and cake. I felt so special. I remember you giving me money to go to the local store and get my favorite strawberry yogurt. I think I ate all of the ones you had in your refrigerator. I remember you and Granfy making my favorite toast with the bread you had to cut and the yummy butter slathered on.
I remember my third visit when I was 18, you couldn’t believe how much I’ve grown. You kept thinking I was a little girl. I remember and miss your squeeze hugs. I do the same thing to my children all of the time. I squeeze them tight not wanting to let go.
I have nothing but fond memories. Memories that make me smile. I remember how much you spoiled my children. I remember the packages you sent, the candy, the clothes. I felt bad for just the amount of money it cost you just to send the package alone, but knew you enjoyed it.
I remember your visits to the US. I remember what you had to go through to get on a plane and be in a car for a long period of time. I knew how claustrophobic you were, but you didn’t let that stop you. I couldn’t wait to spoil you. It was now my turn. I loved getting you presents, especially trying to make sure whatever I bought said “made in the USA”. I wouldn’t dare buy you anything that said “made in France”. I loved buying you things that meant something special to you. I know how much you loved photos, so I always made sure it had something to do with photos. Whether it was the locket I got you with a picture of David and me in it or the wooden photo box that I had engraved for you.
I have a special gift for that you I was not able to send to you in time. I’m very sad that you didn’t get to see it because I know you would have loved it. It is a tin of butterscotch candy (I know how much of a sweet-tooth you have) with a picture of Corey, Kyle, Rachel and myself in front of the Disney World Cinderella Castle scanned right onto the tin. I will save the tin and always remember you when I look at it. I will keep it exactly the way it is and not let anyone ever touch a piece of candy in it. It is for you.
My heart aches, my tears flow, but I am comforted to know that you are looking down from heaven with Granfy, Uncle Ian and Uncle Neil. When Rachel and Kyle asked why I was crying when I found out about your passing, I told them that Nanny Wilson is in heaven and you have another guardian angel watching over each of you. I will teach my children all about you and what an amazing, wonderful, caring, strong great-grandmother they had.
I hope you know how much you meant to me, how much I love you and thought the world of you. I will miss you, never forget you and always remember you. I love you my Nanny. I will not say goodbye, but see you again one day.
Love your granddaughter,
Tracy

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A love story

Slightly updated with pictures added…..

Ramblings of a retired teacher

A love story

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Jack and Phyll Newberry

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

As Phyll saw him she pointed him out to Winnie and said that if she were ever to marry it would be to him. She could never have possibly known how prophetic those words were and how…

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A Thanksgiving Service for the wonderful life of Beatrice Elsie Musgrove.

A Thanksgiving Service for the wonderful life of

Beatrice Elsie Musgrove.

Monday 24th November 2014 at Bethesda Chapel, Dinas Powys,

Vale of Glamorgan.

UK

The service was led by Roger Newberry


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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 worship You for Your love and as we honour the memory of this wonderful lady.

Amen.

Opening thoughts

On behalf of Beat’s family, I would like to thank each one of you for being here today… and though today is a very difficult day the family do not want it to be a day of mourning but a day of celebration. Today we come to remember Beat’s life and reminisce over all the special moments that we had with her.

Beat was a lovely lady. She was kind, thoughtful and was as honest as the day is long. We haven’t come to Bethesda Chapel today because Beat has died, we have come because she lived and her life touched ours for good. We are here today to celebrate her wonderful life.

In the difficult times of life I often find that our 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 peace and understanding, all we need to do is listen!

These words come from Psalm 46, Beat’s favourite Bible passage; they written many centuries ago. They may seem like ancient dusty history to many who look from a distance. But if we listen, as Beat did, the Bible speaks to us with words that can bring comfort and hope.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

As a famly we hope and pray that those of us who mourn will find comfort and strength from today as we celebrate Beat’s wonderful life.

We would do well to remember that this life is really a preparation for the Life to come, and for those of us who love God, when we have accomplished our work on Earth we are called to continue that work in a better place, where there is neither death, nor pain, nor crying.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints”

Ps. 116:15

That which is so dark and heart-rending to us, in this case, is precious in God’s sight—one of His children has gone home. Beat has gone – from struggles and weariness of this life into a better place.

 Gone From My Sight

 I am standing upon the seashore.

A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.

I stand and watch her until at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other and someone at my side says ‘She is gone.’ Gone where?

Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large now as when I last saw her. Her diminished size and total loss from my sight is in me, not in her.


And just at that moment, when someone at my side says she is gone, there are others who are watching her coming over their horizon and other voices take up a glad shout – There she comes!


That is what dying is – a horizon and just the limit of our sight.

Hymn – What a friend we have in Jesus

Reading: Psalm 46  –  Read by Gareth Newberry

Psalm 46 – For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A song.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way

and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

though its waters roar and foam

and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy place where the Most High dwells.

God is within her, she will not fall;

God will help her at break of day.

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;

he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,

the desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease

to the ends of the earth.

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the shields with fire.

He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.’

The Lord Almighty is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Prayer

Heavenly father we acknowledge your presence here, and come into your presence this morning as family and friends of dear Beatie. We are here because we love her and miss her and we want to cherish our memories of her, we want to honour her life and honour her and support one another as we grieve her passing from us – a passing from life here with us to everlasting life there with you O Lord.

Father, we thank you for Beat! You formed her, you knew her, you walked with her through 91 years, and even now we have confidence that she is in your presence.

We thank you that you are a God of mercy, who promises to comfort us, particularly when we lose our loved ones, and so in these moments now, and in the weeks and months ahead, please bring comfort and mercy to us as we remember, and share fondly all that this lovely lady was to us.

In the name of Jesus our Saviour we pray.

Amen.

A poem read by Mercedes Musgrove – Death is nothing at all.

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away to the next room.

I am I and you are you.

Whatever we were to each other,

That, we still are.

 

Call me by my old familiar name.

Speak to me in the easy way,

which 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 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 effect.

Without the trace of a shadow on it.

 

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same that it ever was.

There is absolute unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind

because I am out of sight?

 

I am but 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 only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

 Henry Scott Holland

Eulogy  –  Gareth Musgrove on behalf of the family

On behalf of my brother, Rob, and sister, Jean, I would like to share some memories of my mother’s life with you today. Mum was born in November 1922 (and would have been 92 last Monday) in Cardiff where she lived with her dad George, her mother May and seven brothers and sisters.

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May, Gertrude, Ethel, William, George, Idris then Beat and soon after Grace.

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The family home for the young Bateman family was in Knowle Street, Grangetown. Bringing up eight children today would be a huge struggle, and I can barely comprehend what life in the 20’s would have been like.

It must have been devastating for the family, when, at the tender age of 42, George, Beat’s father passed away; she was only 3 years of age.

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When mum reached her teens, she watched her beloved brothers go to war and Beat being Beat, wanted to do her bit, and often told us of her desire to join the land army. However, Beat’s boss Mr. Jones, the grocer, was not going to give up his hard-working shop assistant without a fight and offered mum an extra 10 shillings a week to stay and that started a long career in the grocery trade.

My mother’s kindness and love for her nieces and nephews meant she would spend many hours helping her sister Gertie in her spare time. Gertie would often take in lodgers at home in Coldstream Terrace, Riverside and this is where Beat first met her one and only love, Joseph Ainsworth: charming, smart and stylish – a real English gentleman and in 1950 they were married.

It was only a few years later that Robert was born and then twins, my beautiful sister Jean. Jean’s twin brother, John, sadly survived only a few days after both were born premature. Mum would love to tell us how small Jean was when she was born. Holding out her hand, she’d say, “I could fit her in the palm of my hand”, as she only weighed the same as a 2 pound bag of sugar (she’s a little bit heavier today, but just as sweet). The family was complete in 1961 after I (Gareth) was born. My father had by now left the funeral director’s James Summers, where he had been highly regarded and respected and was working for Beat’s brother Idris as company secretary of Bateman’s the Welsh Grocers.

We all have fantastic memories of growing up in Waun-y-Groes Road, and can recall fondly our loving aunts and uncles, cousins and neighbours.

One memory stands out the most, and that’s of the family night-in, waiting patiently in our living room with the projector set up and ready to go; then my father would give the order for lights-out, and the cine films of that summer’s holiday – with Auntie Grace and her family or New Year’s Eve at Auntie Kitty’s – would spring into life. My Dad must have had great vision as the family films have given us hours of pleasure over the years.

I also have fond memories of music growing up, and It was only when compiling my notes for today that I realised the reason for my unbalanced music tastes: Gilbert & Sullivan for breakfast, the Beatles for lunch, ‘Hey Hey’ we’re the Monkees’ for tea, and probably the Seekers for supper.

In early 1974 our lives changed forever; and for my mother especially, when my father died. I believe the passing of my father was the start of a broken heart that just didn’t heal and would see her grieve for the rest of her life.

I know these must have been very difficult times for mum, often going without to ensure we didn’t. I can recall her cycling 5 days a week from Rhiwbina to Merthyr Road to work in the supermarket – this just typified my mother and her generation.

It’s hard to describe just how tough they made them in the 20’s, but one story springs to mind…

After a late shift working on the wines & spirit counter, mum started her bike ride home, when one of the two bags of shopping hanging from the handlebars hit the front spokes in the front wheel, and my mother was catapulted through the air. Pushing the bike and carrying the shopping for the remainder of the journey, mum arrived home with a swollen ankle. Early the next day she walked to work (probably the same distance as from Dinas Powys to Penarth sea front); and a visit to the CRI later that day, prompted by Roger & Jean, would result in an X-ray showing a broken ankle in three places, needing a steel plate. That story, I believe just proves what a resilient lady Mum really was.

After Beat retired, she would love to spend time with her brothers George and Idris, and with life-long friend Auntie Ciss.

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Some time after moving to Dinas Powys in 1997, my mum had the onset of Alzheimer’s: a horrible disease that gradually stole her most wonderful memories.

Although in the last few years mum’s health gradually worsened, I know her love for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren remained resolute; and you could see how she enjoyed visits from her great grandchildren, Mia, Alfie, Millie and Lois.

Sadly, on the 5th November, our beautiful, caring, wonderful, loving mother slipped away peacefully at the Waverley in Penarth, surrounded by her proud family, who are confident in the knowledge that she will now spend an eternity with my father.

Solo: The Old Rugged Cross – Mr Mark Thompson

Address:

As we gather here this morning to remember the dear and precious life of Beat, I know that many of you are dealing with mixed emotions. Today our hearts are sad, but they are not sad for Beat, because she is in a far better place, but sad because we have lost a dear loved one.

But while we mourn, we must also remember, there is great joy knowing that because of the relationship that she had with God, she is already in His presence. For the Bible says in:

2 Cor 5:6-8

“So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

Beat was a woman of simple faith. She enjoyed life’s simple pleasures. There was nothing pretentious about her. She liked things down to earth, plain and simple. Beat did things – all kinds of things – above and beyond the call of duty. For her, real life and real living were always about others – how she could help them, care for them, and serve them. Just before her mother died she asked Beat to ‘Look after the boys!’ She did it wonderfully well.

She was born into poverty, spent much of her early life caring for her mum and then went on to live for over 40 years as a widow but never forgot the need to share her things with others, for us as a struggling young family it was the occasional fiver or some dented tins from International. For others it was a simple bar of Cadbury’s of which she seemed to have a never-ending supply.

Beat received many gracious gifts from God. Most important, of course, was the forgiveness that she received from her Saviour and His promise of eternal life. Another gift that she received from God – a gift that she used every day, was the gifts of caring and hospitality. If she knew someone needed help; Beat was there ready to do whatever needed to be done. Jean’s friend Val came to live with Jean when things got difficult at her own home.

Beat was a real Grangetown girl – and she left us a couple of weeks ago to be with her Heavenly Father and we are here because of her influence on our lives. For you Rob, Jean and Gareth your lives were intertwined with hers from the moment you were born. For others of us who are here, our lives crossed Beat’s at different occasions and in different contexts in the course of time. No matter what our connection with Beat, we will never be the same again because of the woman she was. We are all a part of the wonderful legacy she left behind. She was everybody’s friend

The Bible tells us that death is not an unforeseen accident. We read in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes… There is a time to die. It is not something left out of the purposes of our Creator.   It is something planned and necessary in the sight of God. God knew Beat needed rest. It is an appointed event that will come to all of us.

This morning as we mourn her passing, we can also give thanks for Beat’s life. This can be a celebration of a life well lived, a life that impacted all who knew her.

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 we live is a blessing and a gift from above.

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

In knowing Beat 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 Beat with us, no longer will we hear her voice, see her smile – no more hugs and handshakes

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

Do you wonder how you will deal with it?

The best way is with the promises of the Bible.

Beat had a relationship with God that carried some wonderful promises. Some of the promises are found in John chapter 14:1-6. Let me read that portion of scripture to you.

“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.

The First Promise to us is that we don’t have to fear death.

Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled”

We are troubled when we don’t know what is going to happen when we die, but Jesus has taken the fear out of dying.

We are troubled when we view death as an end instead of a new beginning.

Beat’s life is not over, as a matter of fact, a new phase has just begun. Our earthly bodies die, however our heavenly bodies endure for all eternity.

The second promise is that Jesus prepares a place for us in Heaven.

He said, ‘I go to prepare a place for you!’

It’s a place with no more sorrow or crying.

Heaven is a place where the hurts and disappointment of this world are no more. Where the frustrations of life are replaced with unspeakable joys.

It’s a place with no more pain and a place of great beauty.

The Third Promise found in our reading is that He personally receives us.

Now I want you to picture this, the moment that Beat took her first breath in Heaven, God was right there to welcome her.

And for Beat, she experienced a love that we can’t even understand.

  • A love that forgives every failure that she had in her life.
  • A love that mends the hurts only she knew.
  • A love that understood every feeling that she had.
  • It is an unconditional love that completely satisfies the longing of her soul.

Beat knew these promises and had a faith in God.

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

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

The gift of memory – a powerful capacity to remember.

Remember her…. Rob, Lyn, Boo, Gareth and Mercedes – as your wonderful mother and mother in law, Marc, David, Paul, Kate, Gareth, Bethany, Caroline, Richard, James and Sarah you can remember her as a loving gran and a wonderfully funny Nana Muz. As a family we must make sure that Emily, Ryan, Theo, Josh, Emily, Alfie, Mia and Millie will remember her as Nanna Muz – a cool great grandmother and a great role model for them and someone who taught us so much.

Talk about her often. Talk about her with each other and keep her memory alive

Always remember the love that he had for children, her family, the community…. the poor times of her childhood. Remember the fun times. The Bible tells us – there’s a time to mourn and a time to laugh. Remember her example.

Remember the times – when she pretended to be Supergran, when she imagined herself being a heavyweight boxer.

Beat had a way of drawing out the best from people….

She taught us all some valuable lessons…

  • No matter who you are or whatever hardship you face you are always able to GIVE and always able to LOVE.
  • Another lesson… never owe anybody a penny!
  • Loyalty – her devotion to her husband was inspirational and a lesson to us all.

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

She is gone.

We can shed tears that Beatie is gone
or we can smile because she has lived.

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

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see her
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 her and only that she’s gone
or we can cherish her memory and let it live on.

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

Smile….open our eyes……love…

and go on.

May God bless her memory to us.

Hymn: How Great Thou Art.

Dear family

  • I commend to you those memories that are yours alone. The Beat 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 her life.

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

Prayer

Heavenly Father we thank you for the life of Beat – a good woman. We thank you that her life touched both her family and the community at large for good. We thank you for her simple faith. Now she is at peace and her struggles are over over, guard and watch over her we pray. Father we commend to your loving care all those who mourn and pray that 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. Father we rejoice in the believers hope in Christ in whose name we ask these things, that the glory may go to Him. Amen

Benediction.

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.

At the Graveside

On behalf of the family, I wish to thank each one of you for being here today… and though today is a very difficult day the Scriptures makes this promise:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

We have gathered together today to remember a precious life and to say goodbye one last time and celebrate the life that she enjoyed here on earth and thank God for all the precious moments and memories that we have had with her. Her life has touched so many in so many different ways.

We have also come together to bury the ashes of Ainsworth, beloved husband of Beat. Separated for 40 long years, but now resting together. We believe they are reunited in heaven never to be separated again. In doing this we recall that our bodies bear the imprint of the first creation when they were fashioned from dust; but in faith we remember, too, that by the new creation we also bear the image of Jesus who was raised to glory.

Beat has now joined Ainsworth in heaven – in the place that was prepared for her and we commend her into the loving arms of Jesus and that hope of eternal life in Christ. It is tenderly and reverently that we commit her body to the grave.

The body returns to the earth, from which our bodies came.  The spirit returns to God who gave it, waiting for the day when both spirit and body shall again be united at the coming of the Lord.

The Committal

In the light of the promises God has given us in His Word and in as much as it has pleased the Lord in His sovereign wisdom and purpose to take from us someone we have loved, we now commit her body to its final resting place to await the fulfillment of another promise of Scripture.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

I Thessalonians 4

Since it has pleased Almighty God in His great mercy to take to himself the soul of our dear Beatie, we commit her body to the ground – 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 Beatie’s body to the ground and her Spirit to Jesus we can now say: “Thank you for all you have given to us in your long and loving, life.” And we must make a promise to each other… The good Beat has shown to us during her life we must go from this graveside and show to others.

Faithful God, Lord of all creation, you desire that nothing redeemed by your Son will ever be lost, and that the just will be raised up on the last day. Comfort us today with the word of your promise as we return the ashes of our brother Ainsworth to the earth.

Grant Ainsworth and his beloved wife Beatie a place of rest and peace. Confirm us in our hope that they will be created anew on the day when you will raise them up in glory to live with you and all the saints forever and ever.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

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 staff they comfort me.

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

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

 

Let us pray.

May the peace of God, which is beyond all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
May the love of God and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ bless and console us and gently wipe every tear from our eyes: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Go in the peace of Christ.

My Hopes for My Son

Ramblings of a retired teacher

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The marvel of becoming a father is that something so commonplace can be something so special. An event, which happens to tens of thousands each day from east to west, north to south of the globe, is a happening utterly unique. It is a wondrous experience to be a witness at the birth of a soul.

Just as his coming is unique, so too is he as a person. Never before has there been a personality just like his. Never again will, there be a life lived like his. He will be shaped by the world in a way that no one else has ever been shaped. He will shape the world in a manner inimitable.

It is strange that in an age where the uniqueness of the individual has never been more closely perceived, respect for the worth of an individual is at such a low point. Commitment to…

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Father of the Bride Speech – 6th September 2014

Ramblings of a retired teacher

For Bethany… as she marries Alex

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I was 42 years old when we decided to have Bethany. Many people at the time told us we were mad. We were determined, but first we thought it would be the right thing to do to discuss it with our older children Kate and Gareth, who were 15 and 14 at the time and instead of any embarrassment, their response was immediately favourable.

My dad and mum were among those who doubted not because they thought it was a bad idea but because they were old, and they were afraid that they would never see her grow up. Thankfully they did and though they didn’t quite make it to today they loved Bethany totally and were immensely proud of her. Also missing today is her Nanna Muz who has advanced dementia and is very frail. She too would have been immensely proud of you…

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Wedding sermon for Bethany and Alex.

For Bethany and Alex on your wedding day.

6th September 2014

This sermon was delivered during the wedding of my daughter Bethany to Alex Davies at Bethesda Chapel in Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales UK.

I have had many adventures in my life…

  • I have chased the Northern Lights across Iceland and Northern Norway.
  • Several years ago I drove down the Ice Highway in the Canadian Rockies from Jasper to Banff
  • In South Africa, I took part in an evening elephant Safari and spent time on a game reserve and sat at the top of Table Mountain.
  • I have visited Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island
  • I’ve slept in a simple house on a mountainside in Lesotho with the most beautiful family, where I was accepted as one of their own.
  • I have travelled overnight on a train from Macedonia to Kosovo and watched a football match with the locals.

…but the greatest adventure on my life began on the day I married your mum. It’s an adventure that has been going on for almost 39 years and every day is better than the day before.

Bethany and Alex you are about to start out on this great adventure yourselves and on this your wedding day I want to give you some advice to help you enjoy this great adventure to the full.

Travelling companions

Before any adventure, I always think about my travelling companions. I have never travelled alone – some people do – but the thought of having someone with you, for help during tough times, or to appreciate amazing sights is a must for me.

I notice from your order of service that you recognise that God brought you two together. I have no doubt that is true. Neither of you are perfect but each of you is perfect for each other. You will enjoy adventuring together. But… you are not alone…

Look around you – look at all these who in a real sense will be travelling with you, I am sure there is not one person here who has come just because you invited them – they are because they love you… they will always be with you and will extend to you the hand of friendship whenever you need it!

God gave you to each other its not an accident. Alex and Bethany, you will be travelling with God. Keep Him at the very centre of your marriage. I want you to think about the way God loves you and I want you to love one another in the same way.

Build your marriage on the rock of God’s love.

Here what God’s word says

Reading from Ephesians 5:

 

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The Bible tells us God is love. What kind of love is it?

  • Unconditional love. God never says I will love you if…

Unconditional love seeks to give not to take, it puts the interests of others first. No conditions. That is the kind of love I want you both to show in your marriage.

  • Selfless love. Ephesians 5 gives great advice here in verse 22 – Wives submit to your husband as to the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Verse 25 says Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church. Did you see the Biblical advice? Bethany, you have got to love Alex enough to live for him. Alex you have got to love Bethany like Christ loved the church… you have to love her enough to die for her.

Reviews

The next thing I do then is to look up some reviews; I’m a Trip Advisor specialist – in the top 4% in the UK! It’s good to hear what other people say about where you are going. It helps you avoid the pitfalls and helps gets the best out of the journey.

In a few moments, I am going to give you away. It’s a tough thing to do, but it doesn’t mean of course that you can’t come back and call round. Your immediate family have almost 100 years of marriage experience. Be sure to use that.

Also I asked some of your friends to give a review. Here are a few. The rest you can read some other time.

Just to say that my wedding day is a fantastic memory, 48 years ago. Whenever I feel blue, I look at my ring and remember the love of family and friends on that special day in a beautiful Church in North Wales. I too, was only twenty but knew how much I loved the man I married and treasure him more than ever now. Lots of adventures, sorrow and the love of God on the way. Be ready to be flexible and not to argue -just to love and share.

xxx

For us marriage is about having a unique bond with that one other person, the only person that you will fully share everything with. The best thing about marriage to us is keeping each other going so that you can fulfil the dream you otherwise would not have been brave enough to attempt. To be excited together in the good times & to be the encouragement when what you’re doing becomes a challenge. The day you get married truly is just the beginning….it’s a love that never grows tired or is completely finished finding ways to fully express itself….it will always baffle you how it has the ability to keep getting more & more amazing. Marriage is definitely a gift to be treasured.

R & P

Marriage is being able to share your life journey with your very best friend. It is not having to say goodbye every night but simply ‘goodnight’ and waking up to face each new day together. Marriage is a journey of learning how to make someone else happy and in that journey finding true joy.  

Marriage has God written all over it as when He is central it works- it just works!

 

P & J

Although I’ve only been married a few months, marriage has come to mean two things to me. First, marriage is grace. The kind of grace that comes from waves of unconditional love and forgiveness shown daily to one another- the kind of grace that Jesus so perfectly displays.

Second, marriage is joy. Embarking on marriage, and doing life together, has been so fun, humorous and overwhelmingly joy-filled. My prayer is that Bethany and Alex will experience endless grace, joy and love throughout their wonderful marriage! “

R & C

xx

“Marriage to us is a wonderful gift from God to share with the one person you love. It is a place to put God first and watch him guide and provide for all of life’s ups and downs. It is a place to be best friends, to bear one another’s burdens, to love, laugh and make memories. To go on a lifelong adventure and build a family. It is a place to grow old together. After our relationship personally with God, this is the most important relationship we will ever have.”

N & S

xxx

For me, the commitment of marriage meant that we were making a serious promise to each other in front of family and friends – and above all, God. We committed to becoming a team, navigating through life together… – to support, to love and to encourage each other, wherever life took us. Little did we know back then, how important being a team would become. Although the last 13 years have brought some incredible memories, there have been times when challenges arose that meant we had to work hard at making our little team stronger. And through it all – and despite ALL of our flaws, I still choose him and he still chooses me.

J & K    xx

Marriage is about turning the I into we, it’s give and take, of enjoying each other’s company, without even speaking, make sure you have lots of fun and laughter, and make sure God is at the centre xx

D & J

xx

Loving and enjoying each other’s company everyday and not being embarrassed to walk around the house with tissue shoved up your nose when it’s running!! Xxxx

E & J

xx

Packing a suitcase

There is always great excitement when you start packing for an adventure, my old mum used to start packing months before any trip began. Of course, different adventures call for different clothes. Wearing a swimsuit chasing the Northern Lights inside the Arctic Circle is not recommended; neither is wearing thermals underwear looking at the treasures of Florence in mid summer!

Packing a suitcase is an important part of your adventure. You need to wear suitable clothes. As far as marriage is concerned, The Bible gives us a good description of the clothes we need to wear.

Reading from Colossians Chapter 3

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.

These clothes Paul invites us to put on are not made of natural fibres. They are woven of spiritual stuff. Try as you might in your own power to create them and you will fail, you need God to create them. Compassion, humility, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and love — these don’t come naturally. They are gifts God gives us when we pray for them. Make sure you both clothe yourselves with these great qualities throughout your married life.

Finally… A Guidebook

One of the most important things to take with you is a guidebook. I have a shelf full at home. It’s usually the last thing I pack. A good guidebook, will tell you just about all you need to know about the place where you are going. It tells you the things you must do, the places you must see and the things to avoid. The Bible is God’s guidebook for marriage. Take God’s word with you as you begin this great adventure together and keep it with you all the way through!!

It’s the perfect guidebook because marriage is God’s idea. He wants it to succeed. God is committed to your marriage.

Listen to these words from the very early pages of The Bible

Reading from Genesis 2

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

 

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

 

This lovely passage highlights three important principles for a happy marriage.

For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother…. – It’s so exciting! You are setting up a new family, a new home. It’s the first principle.

…. and shall be united to his wife. – principle 2 permanence. The KJV & Hebrew – translate the word united as the word ‘cleave’ Cleave means to be bonded – bonded, glued or stuck together for ever

Soon Nathan will be saying these words to you…. ‘What God has joined together let no man separate – EVER!

….and they shall become one flesh. – principle 3 speaks of unity. This is a mystery. You will still be two individuals, yet you will be as one. This takes time; it is built up like a tapestry, stitch by stitch. Remember what God said about Eve. She was a helper ‘suitable’ for Adam.

Jean is for me.

I believe God has brought you two together because you were meant for each other. Alex you will find everything you don’t have Bethany will, everything she needs, you possess. I couldn’t be the person God wants me to be without Jean by my side.

And remember if marriage is God’s idea, He’ll always be close at hand helping you make it succeed. When problems and difficulties arise, as they will, turn to God first.

God has an amazing track record of working with fallible human beings and of enabling them to achieve the most wonderful things.

Remember at the outset. Being happy in marriage is not so much finding the right person; it’s being the right person.

Reading from Isaiah chapter 43.

This is what the Lord says—

    

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
 I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you 
and when you pass through the rivers, 
 they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, 
 you will not be burned.

For I am the Lord your God, 
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour; 


 

You are precious and honoured in my sight, because I love you.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. 
   

When I read these verses written over three thousand years ago, four phrases stood out… Remember that these words were written to God’s people and they were written for you as you start this great adventure today!.

Remember God says to you both on your wedding day…

You are mine. I will be with you. You are precious. I love you…

The Bible is God’s Guidebook to a happy marriage. Both sets of parents would now like to present you with a Family Bible to help you on your way as you live out this great adventure. Take it, read it and treasure it.

As you begin this great adventure today and as you make your marriage vows remember this carefully…

You don’t know what the future holds… but you know who holds the future.

Trust Him always.

Father of the Bride Speech – 6th September 2014

For Bethany… as she marries Alex

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I was 42 years old when we decided to have Bethany. Many people at the time told us we were mad. We were determined, but first we thought it would be the right thing to do to discuss it with our older children Kate and Gareth, who were 15 and 14 at the time and instead of any embarrassment, their response was immediately favourable.

My dad and mum were among those who doubted not because they thought it was a bad idea but because they were old, and they were afraid that they would never see her grow up. Thankfully they did and though they didn’t quite make it to today they loved Bethany totally and were immensely proud of her. Also missing today is her Nanna Muz who has advanced dementia and is very frail. She too would have been immensely proud of you Bethany.

Having prayed much about it, God answered our prayers and we were blessed with a delightful little girl, one who has brought such happiness to our lives for the past 21 years.

Today 21 years later, we have had the most amazing day as we have celebrated her wedding to Alex and the start of a great new adventure for them both.

It’s been a wonderful day and as the sun sets over Cardiff as we look out through the windows of the Banqueting Hall here in Cardiff Castle, the sun is also setting on a wonderful day for us as a family and as things begin to draw to a close, Jean and I would like to say a massive thank you very much to all of you for being a part of this special day.  As the father of the bride I have the pleasure of giving the first speech.

Today is, of course, a celebration, not just of the love that has united Alex and Bethany in marriage, but also a celebration of the families that have created, moulded and influenced the lives of these two special young people.

Kate and Gareth in particular have been truly amazing with her down though the years, they have guided her, watched out for her and together with Jason and Keri, have created a wonderful bond of love, which for us as their parents is a truly incredible thing to see.

Marriage is the joining of two lives but at the same time it’s the joining together of families. Jean and I have wonderful ‘in laws’ – Rick and Jean Erikson, John and Elaine Lewis and now dear Bob and Sally Davies.

There are some people I must, of course, thank for the part they played today…

First I’d like to thank the entire staff here at Cardiff Castle.  Their experience and guidance has been wonderful and the service and the food were truly memorable and for that we are very thankful.

It’s a privilege to be here in a place so full of history.

I also want to thank those who took part in today’s service at Bethesda Chapel. Lisa, Sian and Llinos for singing and the music group for playing and making everything so special for us – Steve, Ben, Paul, Amy, Emily, Pete, Jas and John – from the bottom of our hearts thank you for all you did today to make everything so special.

I also want to thank Caroline and Cezary for reading God’s Word to us. I know how much Alex and Bethany wanted you to do this, as we did. To you both – our grateful thanks. (Thank you – Dziekuje)

When we found out we were expecting Bethany, I began writing a special diary. I called it my Pregnant Fathers Diary. I recorded every single day of Jean’s pregnancy, because I wanted Bethany to know before she came how much she was loved.

Our friend Sharon wrote a card when we found out. It said that the baby will be loved and will be a happy child. Well done Sharon, you got that spot on!

The entry dated 30th April reminded me of the day Jean was rushed from work with a threatened miscarriage. When I arrived after being called out of school, the doctor met me and said, “I’m so sorry, your wife is losing the baby!” We were both devastated but God had other ideas.

Over the following weeks, our little baby held on. For the following months Jean had to take great care to protect that little unborn treasure.

Great joy accompanied her arrival into our family. We named her Bethany Joy – her middle name in honour of her special aunty.

In many ways Bethany had a unique upbringing. In those days we were candidates for the world’s worst parents. We were youth leaders at the time and would often take her to our youth nights, turn the old coffee tables upside down and make a makeshift cot with a pile of coats. Not the best thing maybe but Bethany certainly grew up with the ability to be very adaptable and with a wonderful group of friends across the generations. She has never been an ounce of trouble!

Those adventures I spoke of in church have mostly included Bethany. She’s done some quite remarkable things in her 21 years. As we travelled through the Rockies in Canada, I got a message that my dear father had passed away, I was so grateful for the support of Jean and Bethany at this sad time.

On a remote mountainside in Lesotho, she watched, without batting an eyelid, a scrawny old chicken being caught, killed, gutted a boiled before calmly eating it with papa and various strange looking vegetables! Poor Kate and Gaz had to be happy with France, France and France again!!!

As she grew up and demands on my time in school and church began to take up much of my time. Bethany and I decided to keep some special time in the week to spend as father and daughter together. We called these our special evenings and we went out for cup of coffee down the Bay or maybe for an exciting meal in The Hungry Horse, if my mum got us a voucher, or IKEA. They were simple, but very special times for us both. On Wednesday this week we had another ‘Wednesday’ – just for all times sake. It was special, just like all the other times.

Bethany has grown from a beautiful child into an incredibly beautiful woman and I must admit the thought of giving her away should have bothered me more than a bit. The fact that it hasn’t is in no small way due to Alex. Jean and I love Alex – he is our perfect choice for Bethany. Bob and Sally, you can be immensely proud today of the young man you have raised.

Alex today I formally welcome you into The Newberry family – let me tell you it’s a select group of people. The reality is though, of course, that you have been a special part of our family for the past five or so years.

Bob and Sally you both are among the kindest, warmest, and friendliest people Jean and I know. And as you formally welcome Bethany into your family, I know you will take the best care of my little girl.

Bes and Alex you have so much to look forward to. A lovely home all ready for you both to move into. You now have a great responsibility to show to others the kind of love which has been shown to you both as you celebrate your marriage and the start of your great adventure.

Today we have achieved something very special; so many people have worked so incredibly hard to make today happen.

Boo, I have watched you carefully as you have given everything to help make Bethany’s dreams come true. Your vision, your commitment and your totally selfless giving are just so incredible. In many ways Bethany and Alex’s day is your day.

I love you and I thank you so very much.

Kate, the send off you gave Bes last week was amazing, Keri your work with the invitations, order of service and the things we can take with us are just absolutely incredible and I use my words carefully… INCREDIBLE. Behind them, of course two very special men who supported and encouraged them, so to Gaz and Jason our grateful thanks.

As a family we have been totally surrounded with love, not just today but in over the past months. We are humbled.

My greatest wish for the two of you now is that through the years your love for each other will so deepen and grow, that years from now you will look back on this day, your wedding day, as the day you loved each other the least.

It is written: when children find true love, parents find true joy.

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Today Jean and I found true joy!

Joy Elaine Newberry

sisterly_love

If you are ever going to love me,
Love me now, while I can know
The sweet and tender feelings
Which from true affection flow.
Love me now
While I am living.
Do not wait until I’m gone
And then have it chiselled in marble,
Sweet words on ice-cold stone.
If you have tender thoughts of me,
Please tell me now.
If you wait until I’m sleeping,
Never to awaken,
There will be death between us,
And I won’t hear you then.
So if you love me, even a little bit,
Let me know it while I’m living
So I can treasure it.

Robert Paul Moreno

Romans 12:10
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another…

My sister

In this verse from The Bible, it is this love between brothers and sisters that we are encouraged to weave into the fabric of our lives.

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When an ancient Greek scholar was writing on the love siblings have for each other, he explained that our parents gave this type of love to us. We were created brothers and sisters. All faithful parents encourage their children to love each other – and ours certainly did that. And if the siblings nourish this love they will, for the rest of their lives, find a fulfillment… a union with each other that will provide strength and peace as their days pass by. He also said that children who love each other honour their parents by that love, and in that love their parents seem ever present even after death.

It is the same with our spiritual family. God our Father has made us a family, and throughout the Bible He encourages our love for each other. When we love each other we honour Him and He is present in our love…

I love my sister very much.
She is an incredible lady. She was born exactly eighteen months after me. I was born in October 1950 and she was born in May 1952. We had just moved into the simple council house on a new estate in the north of Cardiff. The roads were unmade and the midwife had trouble finding and reaching our home, but she was safely delivered and after two boys, our parents were naturally delighted to have a little girl to care for and bring up. Our dad always told us when his precious little girl was born he walked around singing the old Christian song “Joy, joy my heart is full of joy!’
It was natural then that she was named Joy, (Joy Elaine Newberry) as our parents felt she would bring joy into their lives and our family. She has done that since the day she joined our family.
We grew up and had an idyllic childhood.

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We had many friends in our street and played games safely in our garden, in friends’ gardens, out in the street and up in the local fields and woods. We always felt safe and each evening returned home to a house and family which overflowed with love.
When my dad bought a motorbike and sidecar, John, as the eldest, had a ride on the back of the motorbike; mum was in the front seat of the sidecar and Joy and I were squashed in the back seat of the sidecar side by side. We had such fun, never complained and the vibrations stayed with us for about an hour after every journey.
We lived simply yet always had a holiday every year sometimes only going as far as Fontygary just passed Barry. The love and magic of travelling has stayed with us all ever since.

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Joy and I were very close in age and we were best friends as we grew up. She always had a great sense of fun and we laughed and giggled all through our growing up years.

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We walked together to our first school, Rhydypennau Primary School, which was quite a long walk from our house. The walk took us up a narrow path between some allotments and under a railway arch. We always looked out for each other. We would sometimes stop and buy sweets in Workman’s Shop or The Salad Bowl, but this did not happen often, as we were quite poor in those days. Dad was a simple carpenter and my mum was a part time dressmaker and part time dinner lady in our school. I remember going with her some days and being given the job of filling the salt cellars, which we had on the tables.
In 1959 a new school opened very near our home and so we joined Coed Glas Primary School the day it opened. Everything was new. It was wonderful. We had roller blackboards, which I remember no one really knew how to use.
John, Joy and I now had a much shorter walk to school.
Joining High School meant a time of separation. I passed the eleven plus examination and was sent off to Grammar School in Penylan. By the time Joy reached Standard 4, the examination had been scrapped and she joined the local Heol Hir Girls’ School. We were still incredibly close and were a part of a fantastic Young Peoples’ Group in our local church. Her friends were my friends and mine hers.
Joy married a couple of years before me and started her great adventure with Doug in the early 1970s.

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They had three boys and while I am sure she would have loved a little girl, she was grateful to God for her precious sons.

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Her love for them (her boys!!) has become legendary and she is fiercely loyal and protective of them. It’s the same powerful love she has for us as her brothers too!
When we first married all three of us, John, Joy and I and our spouses moved up to the South Wales Valleys, as housing was more affordable. Here we remained close and attended the same church in Blackwood. We were mentored here by a wonderfully godly couple called Arthur and Barbara Parker.

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These were precious times we were able to enjoy together.

Gradually, we all moved back towards Cardiff and different homes and different churches in different towns and villages, meant we saw a little less of each other but regular visits to our parents home in Llanishen meant we remained a close knit and loving family.
During the early days, when our kids were small, we often went on holiday together, usually to France, where our families relaxed and played together and often bought little gifts from dubious looking salesmen on street corners. The echoes of ‘No aqua, No aqua… have followed us down through the years and still causes us to smile.

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Joy has always been an incredible sister. She has the biggest heart and many people have been helped and supported by her and Doug.
She has a special way with older people, who adore her kind and generous spirit. She remembers birthdays and often sends them with little treats and presents. She always remembers them at Christmas too! And it’s not just the old folk. Every Christmas she opens her home to the kids of the church and they even get a visit from Santa.

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She has a big home and a big heart to match!

During that awful time when we lost dad and mum within four months we all promised to keep the incredible closeness we have as a mark of respect to our beloved parents. I know that will happen because of the wonderful love they shared, which has been passed down to us. Joy has her mum’s heart.
We still live close to each other, still attend the same church, even now we share the same friends. Joy’s friends are my friends, mine hers.

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My sister still constantly nags me – but only to arrange a break away somewhere exciting. We are committed to Spain 2015 and she may well join Boo and me as we continue to chase The Northern Lights.

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Whatever the future holds I know I have a sister who loves me and looks out for me, a sister whom I love and treasure.
With a friend, it’s a shared experience, with a parent, shared heritage, with a mate, shared love. But with a sister it’s all of these.

I love my sister!

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D.Day 70th Anniversary Celebrations June 2014 – the amazing story of a picture of a veteran and his grand daughter

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April 2014

I recently discovered, that a photograph of my dad and my daughter, taken by a freelance Australian photographer during the celebrations of 60th Anniversary of D.Day, has been chosen to publicise the 70th Anniversary celebrations on posters around Caen in Northern France.

This picture was spotted by an old friend of mine Jacques Perrone. It is outside the Abbey aux Dames in Caen, France, the first city liberated by the invasion force on D.Day 1944.

This is the e.mail I received…

Dear Roger and Family – I send toy  two photos that  I am  happy to send and you be certainly also happy to receive.  We discovered  those in  the area of ” the Abbaye aux Dames” – The photo of Jack and Bethany  celebrate the British soldiers that came in Normandy to liberate our land 70 years ago- We are happy that Jack  was selected. And the others photos  remind the important events that will succeed  in Normandy this year.
At the 6 th June there will be many celebrations on the coast and elsewhere- The Queen will come in Ouistreham with Obama and Hollande and may be Putin.
There will have many control and the access will be difficult. I will send you  later more information later;
I look  Facebook notificataions from the Master Roger N- Very interesting-
I  am not competent enough to answer with many words;  I will learn.
Cordialement.

Jacques et Rosine

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We have stayed with Jacques and his wife Rosine each time we visit France for almost twenty years.  Also, in 2004 when we attended the 60th Anniversary celebrations, Jacques and Rosine hosted my parents. They ‘adopted’ him as their very own veteran.

I was completely amazed at how much the ordinary people in France are grateful for what happened in 1944. They have never forgotten what the allied forces achieved during that remarkable time. They are as grateful today as they were then.ImageImage
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ImageImageThis picture was taken exactly the same time as the Australian photographer took his, but from a slightly different angle.

ImageI am very proud and humbled.

I tracked down the photographer and he has agreed to meet us in Caen in June.

God willing, I will be in Caen with my brother and my son, along with The Queen, William and Kate, President Obama, David Cameron and Mr Putin to remember those who liberated Europe.

We will be representing my dad.

I hope the Queen, William and Kate like the poster.

To be updated in June…

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June 2014 – what happened…..

Before he passed away in 2009, I had promised my father that I would keep returning to Pegasus Bridge every year I could. This year was to be a special one, as it was 70th Anniversary of the D-day landings. Each year fewer and fewer veterans actually attend the ceremonies in Normandy. The remembrance of 2014 was expected to be the last ‘major’ event of this kind. A soldier who was 18 in 1944 would be 88 today. Most of the survivors have now passed away.

 

We had agreed that my brother John, son Gareth and I would travel to Caen and Benouville this year to represent the family. The news about the poster brought added excitement. We had booked late and the only affordable hotel we could find was in Rouen, which was some 130 km away from Caen. That would be an hour and a half drive if traffic was good! There was also the problem of access to Pegasus Bridge. The attendance of many heads of state meant security was very tight at the main venues. We needed to get a special visitor pass, but repeated requests to the authorities in Normandy drew a blank.

Fortunately for us, our friends Jacques and Rosine Perrone were on the case and the pass was secured as we were about to leave the UK and Rosine had arranged for it to be sent by special delivery to our hotel in Rouen.

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We left the UK to travel to Rouen via Newhaven and Dieppe. It was an unpleasant, middle of the night crossing usually favoured by truck drivers, eager for a crossing which fitted in with their driving and rest times.

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We arrived in Rouen as dawn was breaking and strolled the streets in an eerie silence.

Rouen, the historic capital of Upper Normandy, was the scene of the martyrdom of Joan of Arc, convicted and then burnt at the stake in 1431 on the Place du Vieux Marché. Rouen is also the “Town with a Thousand Spires”, and over the centuries different parts of the town blossomed with jewels of religious architecture. Notre-Dame Cathedral inspired Monet to paint his Cathedral series.

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The laid out banks of the Seine are a wonderful area to take a stroll, Rouen is a young town, with a well-developed nightlife, but all we saw were deserted streets.

We found a tabac that was open and enjoyed a cup of coffee with some chefs finishing off their beers after a long night’s work. They would soon be heading home for bed! Adventure awaited us!

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We had to wait for our small hotel to open so we could collect our car sticker, before heading off to Caen.

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After several hours we arrived in Caen headed for the Abbaye aux Dames, which is situated near the centre of Caen.

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The Abbey of Sainte-Trinité, also known as Abbaye aux Dames, is a former monastery of women and is now home to Regional Council of Lower Normandy. The complex includes the Abbey Church of Sainte-Trinité.

The abbey was founded as a Benedictine monastery of nuns in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders as the Abbaye aux Dames (“Women’s Abbey”), as well as the Abbaye aux Hommes (“Men’s Abbey”), formally the Abbey of Sainte Étienne. The works began in 1062, starting from the rear and finished in 1130. Matilda, who died in 1083, was buried under a slab of black marble in the Abbaye. The original spires were destroyed in The Hundred Years’ War and replaced by less striking balustrades in the early 18th century. The community of nuns was dispersed and suppressed by the French Revolution. In 1823 the local city council decided to transfer the ancient Hotel Dieu (possibly also founded by William the Conqueror, but more likely Henry II), to the former cloister for use as a hospital, and the ‘canonesses regular’ who had assumed responsibility for the hospital from the two abbeys during the 14th century, established themselves there. The canonesses continued to operate there until 1908 when the facility was given to the Hospice Saint-Louis use as a nursing home.

We parked and entered the square in front of the Abbaye.

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It was impossible to miss the poster. Standing in front of it for the first time was an incredibly moving moment.

P1010116To see our father’s image being used to promote the 70th Anniversary of D-day was most humbling. All three of us – grown men – wept openly. We tried to imagine our father’s reaction, had he been able to be with us. We guessed, a mixture of pride and embarrassment. He was a quiet, unassuming, gentle man, who hated being in the spotlight.

We could see our mother standing there, with her hands over her mouth, bursting with pride at this image of the man she adored, since the day she first saw him way back in the dark days of the war.

We realised then, that we had made a monumental mistake in not bringing my daughter Bethany with us. Her beautiful smile beamed out from that poster, radiating hope for future generations.

Dad & BesI knew straightaway that I had to return with her to show her and share this with her.

We spent some time taking photos, laughed some more and cried some more, before my brother told us he was off for a cup of coffee as he was finding the mixture of emotions ‘tough to deal with’.

What happened next was just amazing. A series of incredible coincidences paved the way for a wonderful story to unfold.

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John made his way to a nearby tabac, and as he waited to be served he thumbed through a brochure advertising things taking place in Normandy and he came across the picture of my father and Bethany, so he pointed out to the lady next him that he was the son of the gentleman in the picture. What he did not know was that this lady worked for the Regional Council and was a part of the team that chose the picture in the first place. This was so exciting for them. Suddenly this picture had a story behind it. The old veteran and the little girl suddenly had names and a family and a story to tell.

By now, we had joined John, and we were excitedly invited to the offices of The Regional Council in the Abbaye. Here we met other regional officials and the French Government minister for Veterans’ Affairs.

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The French press were also in the building and we were interviewed and my brother also recorded an interview for the local radio station. All were eager to learn about the two characters in the picture – the old veteran and the little girl.

What we were able to tell them, they found amazing. The picture had been taken in 2004, when we came to celebrate the 60th Anniversary od D-day. At that time my father had been awarded a special commemorative medal by the people of Normandy. The photograph had been taken by an Australian photographer.

Where the picture had been for ten years, I do not know, but it had been chosen, one out of many, to help publicise the events surrounding the 70th anniversary. To them, the picture was a special one, but what they did not know was that the veteran was Sapper John Newberry, who was dropped by parachute near Pegasus Bridge on D-day 1944.

IMG_0011P1010211He served with the 6th Airborne Division and was part of 224 Field Ambulance. The little girl was his grand daughter, Bethany Newberry, then aged ten. She too has strong links with Caen.

Bethany counts this great city almost as a second home. She first came to Caen in 1993, when she was just one year old. That year, we were invited by a friend, Margaret Davis, who lives in nearby Louvigny, to assist in her English lessons, by taking part in a Christmas presentation. Bethany has been coming every year since and has made many other visits to Caen as well.

Also present at that time was Emmanuelle Tirilly, the press attaché to the Regional Council. She was brilliant in organising things and sending us the resulting newspaper articles.

IMG_2571We left the offices buzzing with excitement at the way things had worked out.

We enjoyed the day at Pegasus, savouring the atmosphere, meeting up with an old friend Joe Riley now 92 years of age.

IMG_2562DSC06497 DSC06485 DSC06484We had one more meeting to look forward to; I had arranged to meet with the photographer Greg Waite at Pegasus Bridge later that day. My friend Jacques Peronne had tracked him down via the Internet and passed his e-mail address on to me.

P1010239We met Greg, as arranged in Benouville. He was truly wonderful and gave us copies of the poster to take home and we chatted about the impact the picture was making. He allowed us to use the picture as we wished. I guessed I would probably never meet him again.

We enjoyed the rest of our visit – although we found the long trek back and fore to Rouen a bit difficult!

To be at Pegasus Bridge is, for us, an almost spiritual experience. We feel our father’s presence here in some strange way. It’s where this gentle, loving man fought for freedom, it’s where his friends fell and it’s where his friends are buried. We make a point of visiting the British Cemetery at Ranville every single time we come.

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While all this was going on Bethany tweeted about the picture, in response to a request put out on the BBC. Huw Edwards re-tweeted it and before long The Wales on Sunday newspaper was on the phone to Bethany for an interview. The reporter spoke to her and me and the following Sunday a beautiful article appeared in the Wales National Sunday paper.

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When we arrived home we shared our experiences and made plans to return with the poster girl.

Bethany is now 10 years older and at 21 is preparing to marry the love of her young life, a brilliant young man called Alex.

The only free date for our visit was in early August, a date that coincided with the 100th anniversary of the start of The Great War.

The cost of crossing the channel in mid summer coupled with the fact that Bethany had just started a new job, meant that the journey had to be a short one, so there was much to pack in to such a short time. We booked a 24-hour ticket with Brittany Ferries to Ouistreham. Bethany, Alex, Jean and I set off, full of excitement and anticipation.

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I had kept in touch with Emmanuelle Tirilly and was overwhelmed with the kindness she was showing us. She insisted that we stay in her home and promised she would help us fit as much as we could into our short visit.

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We had arranged to meet her in the Pegasus Memorial Museum, straight after getting off the ferry from the UK, mid afternoon on Sunday 3rd August. We were a little late and a little nervous; I could not really remember what Emmanuelle looked like. Our worry was unnecessary. We all knew each other straight away.

We toured the museum and showed her my dad’s picture with 224 Field Ambulance.

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Afterwards we explored the area around Pegasus Bridge. It was Alex’s first visit and it was good for us to see it all through new eyes.

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We then made our way to the Abbaye aux Dames for Bethany to see the poster for herself. Jean and Alex shared her excitement and anticipation.

When we stood in front of the poster it was an extremely moving moment – one which we will never forget.

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More tears, more smiles, more reminisces. It was a beautiful moment; one we were so fortunate to share together.

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Emmanuelle had been very busy preparing for the visit and had arranged a full programme of tours, press and radio interviews. One reporter had even cut short his family holiday to be with us. Emmanuelle had also tried to arrange a TV interview but this could not be confirmed.

We reluctantly left the Abbaye after a long while and made our way to Emmanuelle’s home. The girls settled in while Alex and I drove to Louvigny to pick up Margaret. I was keen for her to be as involved as possible, as she was the main reason we have become so attached to Caen. We had great fun on the return journey with Margaret arguing vociferously with my satellite navigation system about the best route to take!!

Margaret won!

We arrived safely back at the home of our new friend. This kind French lady treated us like royalty; nothing was too much trouble. We enjoyed aperitifs and canapés in her beautiful, quiet garden before enjoying a wonderful meal in her home.

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It was a unique experience….

Arrangements for the following day had to be adjusted when the TV crew rang to confirm they were actually coming and wanted to arrange an interview. This was so exciting!

The crew arrived early the following day and proceeded to connect cameras to the inside of our car.

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We then had to drive around Caen when instructed and there were cameras waiting on street corners to catch us as we drove by. Margaret had again agreed to join us and we met her by the Abbaye.

At the Abbaye our reactions were filmed and we were so proud of Bethany as she was interviewed for the Normandy TV Station – Basse Normandie.

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This was all very exciting, but more was to come.

We walked inside the grounds of the Abbaye, where we met a smiling Greg Waite. He seemed genuinely delighted to meet Bethany at last. For ten years he had known her as the little girl in a picture. Now he saw her face to face 10 years older! He came bearing gifts! Posters, books, and even some Normandy bunting – all were bearing this precious image of the old veteran with his grand daughter.

He took Alex and Bethany off to take a photograph in the exact place he had taken the original photograph in 2004. At that time, Bethany was on the arm of her precious grandfather. Now she is on the arm of another – a young man who will soon be her husband.

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More TV interviews took place here inside the Abbaye grounds, with Greg explaining that the image had been chosen because of the beautiful way the photograph had captured the gentle dignity of the veterans, as seen in my father’s face, coupled with the hope for future generations as seen through Bethany’s smile.

While the camera crew packed up, we said our thanks and goodbyes and were taken on a tour of the Abbaye. We visited Matilda’s tomb, now more than ten centuries old. It is a stunning building, one I have never visited despite countless visits to Caen.

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After the tour, we were taken to an exquisite room where there were drinks and canapés prepared for us. Here the President of the Regional Council gave a short speech of welcome and thanks and he presented Alex and Bethany with a beautiful framed print of the Abbaye aux Dames as a gift from the people of Normandy. It will grace their new home for many years to come and will be a constant reminder of our visit to see the poster.

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There followed a series of interviews with the press and the local radio station. We interspersed interviews with visits to the food table.

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After some time, we said goodbye to Greg and will one day accept his invitation to lunch next time we are in Caen. Greg lives in a little village near Caen, on a farm with his wife and three daughters. That’s an invitation I intend to keep!

I was wondering how good his family photographs are!!

We then bade farewell to all in the Regional Council and left for lunch at Emmanuelle’s home. We took a detour into Caen city centre and while the girls did some quick shopping, Alex and enjoyed a cheeky café au lait in a pavement café. We smiled as we sat there, as on every shop around the café there was the poster with my dad and Bethany watching over us.

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Apparently the image is on all the buses and trams and is seen all over Normandy. There are even several giant copies of the poster on the railway stations and Metro subways in Paris.

Lunch, like everything else was delightful and we reluctantly said goodbye to our wonderful, generous host before starting or journey back home.

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It had been one of the most amazing twenty-four hours of our lives. We are so grateful to all who made it possible, so humbled that this image had been chosen, so thankful that millions of people will have seen my lovely dad and my precious daughter and above else we are touched that the image has become a symbol of peace. My dad’s Christian faith had brought him peace in his life and hopefully his lovely smile and the contentment on the face of his beautiful grand daughter will have brought hope and peace to others.

We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of the veterans and all those who gave so much to give us our freedom.

IMG_2678Little did we know when we promised my father that we would return for the 70th anniversary commemorations that his presence would be with us in such a powerful but simple way.

 

Chasing the Lights – Tromso 2014

tromso_1076I have always been fascinated by The Northern Lights – The Aurora Borealis. This natural phenomenon – part of the wonder of God’s creation, has enchanted people for as long as they have been on earth. When dreaming about seeing the northern lights, you must remember that you are at the complete mercy of nature. The northern lights love to play hide and seek. Observing the aurora borealis is often a tug of war between your patience and the aurora itself. The guidebooks all say that you must ‘stay in the northern lights area at least a week, preferably two, and you will be rewarded – unless local weather suddenly decides to obstruct your view with clouds’. The truth for most of us is that we are restricted to a visit of just a few days. This uncertainty perhaps that just adds to the mystery that surrounds this enigmatic lady.

Our interest was further heightened after we watched a brilliant programme by Joanna Lumley about her interest in and visit to Norway to see the Lights. For her and her programme makers time and money was no worry and she had a great view of the lights.

index Hamsun_northernlights_194After watching the programme,  Boo and I made up our minds that we would try to see the Lights for ourselves.

What are Northern Lights?

The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south..
Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

What causes the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.                                                                                                                                                                  The most common auroral colour, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

Legends of the Lights

‘Aurora borealis’, the lights of the northern hemisphere, means ‘dawn of the north’. ‘Aurora australis’ means ‘dawn of the south’. In Roman myths, Aurora was the goddess of the dawn.  Many cultural groups have legends about the lights. In medieval times, the occurrences of auroral displays were seen as harbingers of war or famine. The Maori of New Zealand shared a belief with many northern people of Europe and North America that the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.
The Menominee Indians of Wisconsin believed that the lights indicated the location of manabai’wok (giants) who were the spirits of great hunters and fishermen. The Inuit of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the animals they hunted: the seals, salmon, deer and beluga whales. Other aboriginal peoples believed that the lights were the spirits of their people.

For Christmas 2012, I arranged a trip to Iceland for Boo and me to see the lights. Sadly this trip did not give us a sighting of The Temperamental Lady, as locals affectionately know her. However we loved Iceland and the people. It was a truly wonderful trip.

For Christmas 2013 my present to the good lady was a trip to Tromsø. This ticked several boxes. Boo had always wanted to visit Norway, my step great grandfather was Norwegian and the country has always fascinated me, it was the home of Roald Dahl and, of course, it gave us an another opportunity to see the Lights.

1898560_10152383875412784_1925346693_oWe flew from London, via Oslo to Tromsø. We left in heavy rain.

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33downloadMost of the journey was through very thick cloud but as we approached Tromsø  our excitement began to mount…

Tromsø city is the ninth-largest urban area in Norway by population and the seventh largest city in Norway population.It is the largest city and the largest urban area in Northern Norway and the second largest city and urban area north of the Arctic Circle.

Most of Tromsø, including the city centre, is located on the small island of Tromsøya in the county of Troms, 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The Tromsø Bridge connects Tromsøya to the mainland and the Trmosoyund Tunnel. The city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream.

The city centre of Tromsø contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway the oldest house dating from 1789. The Arctic Cathedral, a modern church from 1965, is probably the most famous landmark in Tromsø. The city is a cultural centre for its region, with several festivals taking place in the summer.

6525081-Bus_to_town_TromsoeGetting from Tromsø airport was easy using the Flybussen, which took us straight to our hotel. We had chosen this hotel due to its location, offer of free tea, coffee and hot chocolate and above all else the offer of free waffles each afternoon.

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We spent much time exploring this lovely Arctic town. The people we met in the tourist office in shops or walking about were simply delightful and so proud of the place they call home.

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Tromsø_library_-_2005-09-13The library in Tromsø.

DSC05475 DSC05476Tromsø is also home to the most northernmost brewery in the world. It’s called Mack. I don’t drink beer but was interested in this unique place. Sadly there were no organised tours during our stay there.

DSC05590 We were there though really to see the lights. We had booked with a company called Green Fox Guiding. We chose these on the recommendation of a friend and some of the wonderful reviews they had on Trip Advisor.

5 of 5 stars Reviewed 27th February 2014

You know what they say… “You get what you pay for” and this chase was worth every penny. Our guide, Markus, was awesome. The weather was not good in Tromso at all. In fact, several northern lights tour companies had cancelled due to bad weather. Not Green Fox, Markus picked up our small group of 8 and took us all the way over to Finland. He just kept going till he could find the best location. He stopped a couple times to check the area for possible activity and would not give up. We had an amazing night with a fire and tea, great biscuits, baguettes, and even roasted some marshmallows on the fire. Oh yes…I forgot to mention the most important part….we saw the lights. We saw so many dancing green and purple lights, it was unbelievable. On a night, when we had not hoped to see them at all, we ended up seeing them all over the place in Finland. Thank you for one of the most unforgettable experiences of a lifetime.

The tour was arranged for our first night in Tromsø.

Everything that we had read about Green Fox was true. We met Marcus outside the Tourist Office and he took us off to search for the Lights. Marcus’s enthusiasm was infectious. He told us he was taking us to Finland, as he understood they had clear conditions. It was pouring down with rain in Tromsø, so we just had to trust him. As time passed the weather worsened, we drove through heavy blizzards and strong winds. After several hours though we came to a stop. A lorry that had skidded in a blizzard blocked the road to Finland. We were marooned on a road that had a large turning place. Marcus looked worried, but as he got out to think about what to do, we saw that they sky was beginning to break into clear patches.

After some discussion we decided to stay and hope for the best. Marcus kept us well supplied with coffee and baguettes but we had no real sightings. Neither did we have the promised camp fire. It was frustration all the way.

Just as we decided to leave there was thick cloud cover again, we were FREEZING cold and the road to Finland opened again but much too late for us. It was a subdued group of passengers in the mini bus that made the long drive back to Tromsø.

_MG_7271 _MG_7291 _MG_7296 _MG_7290We got back late, feeling frustrated.

DSC05491The next day I mailed Marcus to thank him and cheekily asked him for another try and he gave me a full refund. Cool! Maybe we could try again.

DSC05495Saturday was spent resting and exploring Tromsø and in particular the football stadium in Tromsø. Many top British teams have played here and I was determined to have my photograph taken with my Barry Town top on. It was a long climb up to the stadium and it was freezing as I posed and Boo did the honours with the camera. As we strolled around some players came out so I asked if I could look around inside. Amazingly they said yes and let us in. Boo was very unsure but in true Newberry Tours style we toured the home and away dressing rooms and got out on to the pitch, carefully, having ben warned by the players not to let the door close on us otherwise we would have frozen into the hallowed turf.

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By late afternoon the rain was coming down like stair rods and this continued throughout the evening, which meant another ‘lights chasing’ night was out of the question. We chilled in the hotel, enjoying each other’s company.

Sunday was a quiet day in Tromsø. No shops were open apart from the odd food shop. We explored the quayside where each day enormous cruise ships would pull in tie up, discharge large groups of passengers and by the next morning be gone.

DSC05533We found Tromsø Baptist Church and arranged our day to attend ‘Evensong’ at 5.00pm. However, we turned up but no one else did! WE were gutted having built our day around it. As we waited a local offered to help and rang several numbers without success.

DSC05522 DSC05523 DSC05526Monday was to be our last full day in this lovely little Norwegian town with its delightful people. We had decided to walk across the Tromsø Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland.

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DSC05597We dressed up warmly and set off on the walk of the couple of miles across and back. The walk was tiring, especially the outward side, up the slope of the bridge with the biting wind chilling our faces. I had left my hat back in the hotel – schoolboy error! Going down the other side was a bit easier and the sight of The Arctic cathedral – our destination – kept us going.

DSC05557IMG_0222DSC05538The Arctic Cathedral, formally known as Tromsdalen Church or Tromsøysund Church is a church in the city of Tromsø. The church is commonly nicknamed the Ishavskatedralen, literally “The Cathedral of the Arctic Sea or “Arctic Cathedral”. The church was built in 1965 and it is a parish church and not, in fact, a cathedral as it is commonly called.

The church was designed by Jan Inge Hovic and is built mainly of concrete. Because of the church’s distinct look and situation, it has often been called The Opera House of Norway”, likening it to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The church is probably the most famous landmark in Tromsø, although Tromsø does have another church of interest, Tromsø Cathedral which is noted for being the only wooden cathedral in Norway.

The ground breaking of the church was 1 April 1964 and it was completed in 1965.The new church was consecrated on 19 November 1965. The church is built out of cast-in-place aluminium-coated concrete panels.

In 1972, a glass mosaic was added to the eastern side. The church acquired an organ built by Grönlunds Orgelbyggeri in 2005, with three manuals, pedal, 42 stops, and 2940 pipes.It replaced the old opus nr. 12 organ delivered by Vestlandske Orgelverksted, Hareid, which had 22 voices and 124 keys.

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On the journey back across the bridge w noticed that some people had put locks on, swearing undying love – a bit like the bridge near Notre Dame in Paris.

The journey back was easier with the strong wind at our backs.DSC05570

We had determined to make a very important stop when we returned across the bridge. Lying just the other side was Tanter Ingers Tehus – the most northerly teashop in the world. This seriously needed a visit and we were more than ready for a cup of tea. We were not disappointed.

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We were the only customers and had the pick of the seats. The old girl behind the counter invited us to choose our cup from a vast array of bone china crockery, which she said came from all over the world. Boo chose a cup from Sweden and mine came from England.

IMG_0274 IMG_0279 IMG_0283She then proceeded to brew some tea in a black cast iron tea pot, but would not let us near it till her timer permitted.

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DSC05581 IMG_0293We sat and enjoyed the most glorious cup of tea – Boo… English Breakfast and mine… Darjeeling… all the flavour without the strength… We even treated ourselves to some cake even though we had waffles waiting in the hotel. We warmed up after the cold of the bridge and had the most splendid hour in that special place.

IMG_0295In the quiet, I had chance to think about how much I love my fellow traveller.

DSC05596So we approached the final night in Tromsø. We had more or less decided to have one last shot at the lights but when we enquired none of the tours would promise to even go, the weather being so bad. We were told to check later in the afternoon.

At 5.00pm I learnt that two tours were going – one heading for Finland again and the other going North towards Rakkfjorden. Despite the weather and the tug Finland had on us, we decided to go with The Arctic Guiding Services. They were not leaving till 8.00pm and heading for a break in the clouds near. This trip was on a proper coach which made the journey much more pleasurable and we got the front seat above the driver.

We left just after eight and travelled for a couple of hours towards Rakkfjorden. We made several stops looking for clear skies, but the blizzard and driving rain just continued unabated.

Amazingly just after eleven as we reached our destination the rain stopped. We got out into the freezing cold and gazed heavenwards. Much of the sky was covered with cloud but in the breaks we did see slight patches of green.

_MG_5057_MG_5073 _MG_5055 _MG_5054 What was amazing was that on photographs it was clearly green, but to the naked eye it was just like a cloud with a tinge of green. I was beginning to think that The Northern Lights are a bit like the Emperor’s New Clothes. We spent an hour or two here with some great people before the cloud closed in and stars were no longer visible. We left again somewhat frustrated. The photographs tell us we some of the Lights but our eyes and our minds thought differently.

 

They still remain elusive.

 

We got back to the hotel and about 4.00 a.m. ready for a sleep before checking out and heading home the following day.

The flight home had Wi-Fi and we were able to follow the plane’s progress with great interest.

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Iceland disappointed with The Northern Lights, Norway tempted us with just a little taste.

The chase will continue in Finland in 2015.

 

 

 

Rainy Days and Mondays….

Alfie stayed  the night and all through breakfast this morning was talking about Millie’s visit. He loves his Monday get togethers with his two cousins. He was standing on the box near the window when she arrived and the expression on both their faces as they saw each other spoke volumes of the love and friendship they share. It was magical.

They spent the morning playing together in their special part of our home. The latest ‘must play’ game is a game they call ‘Penguin Race ’.

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It’s a bizarre little game where a group of three penguins climb a steep staircase only to slide round and start again. I bought it cheap on Amazon; UK HOTdeals recommended it. The kids absolutely love it although the repetitive tune does grate a bit after the first two and a half hours.

DSC05400After playing they settled down to watch UP! – to my mind the best film ever made without a shadow of a doubt. Up is a 2009 American computer animated produced Pixar and released by Disney. The film centres on an elderly widower named Carl Fredricksen and an earnest young Wilderness Explorer Russell. By tying thousands of balloons to his home, 78-year-old Carl sets out to fulfil his lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America and to complete a promise made to his lifelong love. Docter. The producer began working on the story in 2004, which was based on fantasies of escaping from life when it becomes too irritating. He and eleven other Pixar artists spent three days in Venezuela gathering research and inspiration. The designs of the characters were caricatured and stylized considerably, and animators were challenged with creating realistic cloth. The floating house is attached by a varying number between 10,000 and 20,000 balloons in the film’s sequences.

Up was released on May 29, 2009 and opened the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first animated and 3D film to do so. The film became a great financial success, accumulating over $731 million in its theatrical release. Up received critical acclaim, with most reviewers commending the humour and heart of the film. Edward Asner was praised for his portrayal of Carl, and a montage of Carl and his wife Ellie aging together was widely lauded. The film received five Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture making it the second animated film in history to receive such a nomination (and Pixar’s first Best Picture nomination), following Beauty and The Beast. (1991) – this is the favourite film of the lady of the house.

Carl Fredricksen is a shy, quiet boy who idolizes explorer Charles F. Muntz. Muntz has been accused of fabricating the skeleton of a giant bird he claimed to have discovered in Paradise Falls, and vows to return there to capture one alive. One day, Carl befriends Ellie, who is also a Muntz fan. She confides to Carl her desire to move her “clubhouse” — an abandoned house in the neighbourhood — to a cliff overlooking Paradise Falls. Carl and Ellie eventually get married and grow old together in the restored house, and they planned to have children, but Ellie was diagnosed as infertile, so Carl wanted to fulfil their promise of travel to South America. They repeatedly pool their savings for a trip to Paradise Falls, but end up spending it on more pressing needs. An elderly Carl finally arranges for the trip, but Ellie suddenly becomes ill and dies.

Some time later, Carl still lives in the house when he accidentally injures a construction worker over damage to his mailbox, and a court orders him to move to a retirement home. However, Carl comes up with a scheme to keep his promise to Ellie: he turns his house into a makeshift airship, using thousands of helium balloons. Russell, a young Wilderness Explorer becomes an accidental passenger in his effort to earn his final merit badge for assisting the elderly.

After surviving a thunderstorm, the house lands near a ravine facing Paradise Falls. Carl and Russell harness themselves to the still-buoyant house and begin to walk it around the ravine, hoping to reach the falls before the balloons deflate. They later befriend a tall, colourful flightless bird (whom Russell names “Kevin”) trying to reach her chicks, and a dog named Dug, who wears a special collar that allows him to speak.

Carl and Russell encounter a pack of dogs led by Alpha, and are taken to Dug’s master, who turns out to be an elderly Charles Muntz. Muntz invites Carl and Russell aboard the “Spirit of Adventure” where he explains that he has spent the years since his disgrace searching Paradise Falls for the giant bird. When Russell notes the bird’s similarity to Kevin, Muntz then becomes hostile, prompting the pair to flee with Kevin and Dug. Muntz catches up with them and starts a fire beneath Carl’s house, forcing Carl to choose between saving it or Kevin. Carl rushes to put out the fire, allowing Muntz to take the bird. Carl and Russell eventually reach the falls, though Russell is disappointed in Carl over his decision to abandon Kevin.

Settling into his home, Carl looks through Ellie’s childhood scrapbook; finding photos of their happy marriage added into it, along with a note from Ellie thanking him for the “adventure” and encouraging him to go on a new one. Reinvigorated, he goes to find Russell, only to see him sailing off on some balloons to save Kevin. Carl empties the house of furniture and possessions, lightening it, and pursues him.

Muntz captures Russell, but Carl manages to board the dirigible in flight and free both Russell and Kevin. Dug defeats Alpha and become the dogs’ new leader. Muntz pursues them around the airship, finally cornering Dug, Kevin, and Russell inside Carl’s tethered house. Carl lures Kevin out through a window and back onto the airship with Dug and Russell clinging to her back, just as Muntz is about to close in; Muntz leaps after them, only to snag his foot on some balloon lines and fall to his death. The house then descends out of sight through the clouds.

Carl and Russell reunite Kevin with her chicks, and then fly the dirigible back to the city. Carl presents Russell with his final badge: a grape soda cap that Ellie gave to Carl when they first met and made their promise. The two then enjoy some ice cream together.

One of the best things about the film is that Carl Fredrickson is the spitting image of a friend of mine, a chap called David Chapman.

As time went on I had to collect the Princess Mia from school, something I always love to do. We strolled back and chatted about school and what she would like to do that afternoon.

One thing we had to do was visit Aunt Ciss – not a real aunt but the best friend of the mother of the lady of the house. Ciss never had children of her own and so the lady of the house has given Ciss a card and present for the past 45 years – without failing once! It’s an incredibly kind thing to do. I know how much Ciss appreciates it and thinks of my dear one as the daughter she never had.

On the way we decided to stop at Roath Park to feed wildlife. Roath Park stands in a beautiful location at the centre of Cardiff. The park still retains the classic Victorian Park atmosphere where local residents and visitors alike can enjoy their leisure time in many different pursuits.

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The land for Roath Park was donated by the Marquess of Bute to the city in 1887. Work initially focused on creating the lake from an area of marshland.

A lighthouse was constructed in the lake containing a scale model of the ‘Terra Nova’ ship as a memorial to Captain Scott who sailed to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910. The park’s atmosphere today still retains the Victorian elegance and its status as a Conservation Area ensures these qualities will be protected.

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There is a wide range of habitats in the park, which attracts a diverse variety of wildlife. The lake acts as an important habitat for over wintering and breeding birds, including mallard, cormorants and herons. Islands within the lake also act as safe nesting sites. There is a wildflower garden included in the park where the area is managed to encourage wildlife and native species.

The most interesting thing about the park is it stretches from The Oval, just past Cardiff High School then follows the Roath Brook, Nant Fawr from north to south; The Wild Gardens, Roath Park Lake, Botanical Gardens, Rose Gardens, Pleasure Gardens, Roath Park Recreation Ground, Roath Brook Gardens, Roath Mill Gardens and Waterloo Gardens. It’s a huge swathe of green land in the heart of our city.

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As we arrived it started raining, but we did what we could to feed the birds. They were all a little bit nervous at first – the children not the birds – but as they watched me they all became a little braver. Millie in particular was fearless and ended up chasing the geese around.

DSC05754 DSC05755 DSC05753We strolled around and then went and stood on the railings, looking at the birds. We noticed a coot, which had built a beautiful nest out in the safety of the water. The kids loved it.

DSC05764 DSC05763 DSC05759rp1After a while Alfie Millie and I strolled through the Wild Gardens while Mia and the lady of the house sheltered in the car. The Wild Gardens is the area to the north of the Lake, which was to be a second lake in the very first plans for the Park. That idea was abandoned on the grounds of expense.

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DSC05769 DSC05771In June 1894 when the Park opened, this area had not been developed. Shortly after, in September 1894, a public shelter was built, and this was followed in 1895/6 by the creation of footpaths and two bridges over the brook. Apart from these additions the Wild Gardens retained much of its original state with indigenous trees, plants and wild flowers and that is how it is to this day. The shelter has long gone but the area is still very natural and very peaceful.

From here we moved on to visit my mum’s grave; we had not been able to visit the day before, which was mothers day. We were hoping that Mia. Alfie and Millie would put the flowers on but the rain was chucking it down. We had bought a beautiful basket of spring bulbs. My mum LOVED flowers. I was thrilled that the grave looked so good. Obviously my brother had been hard at work – he is so kind and caring like that.

DSC05782 DSC05777DSC05780 DSC05781 DSC05782 DSC05783I spent a few quiet moments then realised we needed to push on to Great Aunt Cissie’s

Cissie is 93 year old and lives alone. She was delighted to see us and especially the kids. They were great with her and her friend who had come to visit.

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DSC05794 DSC05798 DSC05791 DSC05790After about an hour it was time to go home and the kids were bundled, giggling into the car and by the time we reached home all three were heavy eyed and happy. It was so good to be together and to be at home.

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Canada 2009

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I came across this old blog on a travel website I started but had not visited for several years. It was my first, not terribly good, attempt at blogging.  I have included bits of it here to ensure all my writing is in one place.

It is the account of a trip to Canada with friends Mark, Julie and Sharon, with Mark and Julie’s kids. It was an adventure that was cut short by the death of my beloved father. Because of what happened we never really spoke about this holiday. We didn’t share the photographs with our family and I didn’t keep any of the information about this adventure. It all seemed too painful.

However, it was a memorable holiday in so many ways, especially the welcome we had from our friends Lyndon and Laura. Five years down the line, I can now share with them how much we appreciated being with them.

The news of my father’s passing meant that we had to return home at short notice to be with our family. We always said we have unfinished business in Canada.

Here’s what happened…

August 13th 2009

We had for a long time talked about visiting our friends Lyndon and Laura in Canada. They had emigrated some years earlier. They were two of the youngsters in our Youth Group and as with many of the others, when they grew up they became our friends. Julie’s brother had been able to get ridiculously cheap flights to Canada and so we decided to go.

The plan was that we would fly to Vancouver, spend a few days there before driving up to Kelowna where our friends lived. After a week in Kelowna we were going to drive through The Rockies, along The Icefields Parkway to Calgary; from there we were going to fly to Toronto, visit that great city and see the Niagara Falls, before flying home.

Adventures don’t come much better.

Thursday 13th August 2009

We enjoyed a great flight from London with British Airways and landed in Vancouver.

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Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.34.58For thousands of years, the Vancouver area was home to native people who flourished on the bounty of forest and river.

In May 1792, American trader Robert Gray became the first non-native to enter the fabled “Great River of the West,” the Columbia River. Later that year, British Lt. William Broughton, serving under Capt. George Vancouver, explored 100 miles upriver. Along the way, he named a point of land along the shore in honour of his commander.

In 1806, American explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped at what is now Capt. William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach just east of Vancouver on the return leg of their famed western expedition. Lewis characterized the area as “the only desired situation for settlement west of the Rocky Mountains.”

In 1825, Dr. John McLoughlin decided to move the northwest headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company from Astoria, Oregon to a more favorable setting upriver. He named the site after Point Vancouver on Broughton’s original map. Fort Vancouver was thus born.

For many years, Fort Vancouver was the centre of all fur trading in the Pacific Northwest from its vital location on the Columbia River. Vancouver was also a centre of British dominion over the Oregon Territory. In 1846, American control was extended north to the 49th parallel. The northwest became part of the United States and Captain Vancouver moved north to Canada, where a new city was born named Vancouver.

It was on Jan. 23, 1857, the City of Vancouver was born. Through the rest of the century, Vancouver steadily developed. In 1908, the first rail line east through the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge reached Vancouver. In 1910, a railroad bridge was opened south across the Columbia. In 1917, the first span of the Interstate Bridge was completed.

The city was named the Top Destination in Canada in TripAdvisor’s 2012 Travellers’ Choice awards, and was chosen as the world’s “Most Liveable City” in 2010 by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a title it has been awarded eight times since 2002.

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Vancouver offers travellers both outstanding opportunities for outdoor adventure and the sophisticated amenities of a world-class city.

While this sea-level port city is known for its temperate climate, the surrounding snow-covered slopes are perfect for winter sports and breathtaking views of the city twinkling below. Vancouver is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon.

We loved exploring the city. One day Mark and Julie went to visit some friends on Vancouver Island.

 

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I remember writing….’ Nearing the end of a fantastic stay in Vancouver. Worn out but seen all the sites! We are on the way to Kelowna a 395 Km drive tomorrow after we check out.’                                                                    Missing my family and friends back in Wales.’

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Sunday 16th August 2009 7.00 a.m. Canada Time

3.00p.m. Dinas Powys Time

I wrote in my travel blog….

‘Had a good sleep at last! My body must be getting used to this new time zone.

I was shocked the spell checker on this computer did not recognize Dinas Powys.

The others are all in bed but will be down soon for breakfast, before we depart for the long drive to Kelowna. We plan to stop in a place called Hope for a break. Hope it’s a good place. I think it probably is a nice place but who can tell.

Oh well, I have no idea if anyone will read this but me.’

 

P1030249The hire car, which took us from Vancouver to Kelowna and on to Calgary.P1030235My travel blog recorded these words…

At last we have reached the main destination of our holiday in North America as we arrived safely in Kelowna, British Columbia. The journey up to here yesterday took about 7 hours, but included a couple of stops, the main one in a place called Hope – no sign of Bob anywhere – but we did have a picnic beside a beautiful mountain lake, it was stunning and we began to appreciate the beauties of Canada after the busyness of Vancouver.

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Screenshot 2014-04-02 18.43.46The long drive took us up through the mountains and eventually we reached Kelowna and had a happy reunion with Lyndon, Laura and the kids, Charlotte, Jamieson and Jacob.

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P1030455Lyndon and Laura’s beautiful home in Kelowna

P1030381P1030385Again I recorded these words in my blog…                                                      ‘We had a BBQ in what Lyndon and Laura called their backyard – although it looked like a beautiful garden to me. After a wonderful time we began to make our way to the holiday home we are staying in for the week.’

P1030253On the way there, we had a brush with the Canadian Police! It’s something we still talk about  years later…

Just as we left Lyndon and Laura’s  and I was feeling good about driving this car which had its steering wheel on the wrong side , the police pulled me in! We had driven away from the house and at the next junction, the traffic lights turned to red so we stopped and a police car drew up behind us. On green I turned left and saw a sign 30km/hr max…

SchoolZones2So I went 30km/hour, which is very slow indeed (even for me!). Anyway, before long, on went the flashing blue lights and I was signalled to stop. I stopped and got out of the car. The police screamed at me… “Get back in the car!!!  Get back in the car!!! Get your hands on the steering wheel!! DON’T MOVE!!’                                                                                                                                   So I did..quite quickly actually! The police office  walked slowly up to the car with his hand on his gun and asked if I owned the car and where I was going. I explained the situation…

He then said “Why are you going so slow sir!!’

Why does everyone always say that to me?!

When I explained about the sign he laughed and said that was only when the kids were in the nearby school. He suddenly seemed much calmer and after checking my documents, gave us directions to our place and wished me well.
I drove off shaking, with Boo a quivering wreck beside me…and we reached our cabin at a respectable 50 km/hour.

P1030259The house where the owner of our holiday home lived.

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P1030271  P1030304My travel blog went on…                                                                                            ‘Things have certainly quietened down now after the excitement of my ‘arrest’ for slow and careful driving but we have had such fun talking and laughing about it! We spent yesterday quietly in Kelowna. We visited another mall, which they seem very proud of.                                                                                                                                                                We started with a Tim Horton’s Coffee- very famous here and very nice indeed – a great way to start any day.’

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I wasn’t fussed on the shopping bit but I managed to find Chapters Bookshop with a Starbucks so all was not wasted!!

We spent the rest of the day in our cabin and by the pool….boring for you to hear about but hugely enjoyable for us.’

P1030272The blog continued…                                                                                                        ‘In the evening we trecked over to Laura and Lyndon’s for Pizza and Corn on the cob. We had a fab time. They are looking after us so well. We are so grateful. We have so many happy memories to share.’

Kelowna  – 18th August 2009

I wrote…                                                                                                                                    A chilling day today at our cabin. Nothing much to report other than we are all well and enjoyed this much needed day doing nothing.                                                                                                                                                          I did use the time wisely to give our Canadian friends some bombing lessons. Bless them they are tough outdoor little kids used to hunting, skiing in the winter, they get involved in all kinds of sports and outdoor activities but have no clue about ‘bombing’ so I sacrificed my day off by concentrating my efforts in improving their bombing skills. It took a while but they just about got the hang of it towards the end of the day. I was pleased that even after the lessons I could see them trying to improve their skills in their own time. I even saw Ben and Nathan having a little go but of course as true Welshmen they were born good ‘bombers’.

P1030278  This is a particularly difficult version of  The Bomb”. Holding your leg at this angle is only done by experienced ‘Bombers’.Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.31.46Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.33.52Had a great BBQ in the evening and Lyndon and Laura joined us for a Thommo special around the pool.

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Screenshot 2014-04-01 02.33.10Kelowna Day – 19th August 2009

P1030311 As the largest city located on stunning Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is a recreational lakeside paradise with miles of beautiful parkland and several sandy beaches that provide wonderful opportunities for swimming, boating, water skiing, windsurfing and fishing. Even Kelowna’s main street ends at a beach!

Today, Lyndon and Laura showed us round Kelowna and took us to some incredible viewing points to see the wonder of the place where they live.

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P1030333To round off what was proving to be the perfect day, Lyndon decided to take us sailing on his boat. He looked the part in all his gear and we looked forward to some real adventures.

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It was quite a small boat so we decided to take it in turns to have a trip around the lake. Jean went first with Ben. We all had a huge giggle watching Boo trying to get her ample figure into Laura’s life jacket – called a Body Glove.

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She eventually succeeded, although there were bits of bosom sticking out of every available belt hole and armhole.

The weather was quite calm when they left but as they neared the centre of the lake a squall blew up and Lyndon quickly decided he had better take them back to land.

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This proved extremely difficult, especially when he got to shore. The wind was buffeting the small boat against the quayside and Laura was duly dispatched to summon help. It was hilarious and the incident has been recounted many, many times since that day. I am not to sure Lyndon thought it was as funny as we all did.

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It was shortly after this that this perfect day changed, in fact everything changed and my life will never be the same because of what followed. We had a call from my son telling us my father was unwell and that I needed to ring my brother.

We made our way back to the holiday home and I went out to a local phone box to ring home. I had a Canadian phone card.

I was alone.

I got through and before he could speak my brother started crying. Eventually, he told me my precious dad had passed away that day. It was sudden, unexpected.

I could do nothing to stop myself falling to my knees in that car park as the news began to sink in. I wept bitterly for a long time. I felt so alone and so desperately sad. I made my brother promise he would take care of my mum, although I didn’t need to, as I knew he and my sister would and that they would do it well.

I promised him I would come home as soon as I could.

I could not have been with better friends and Mark and Julie and Sharon along with Lyndon and Laura cared for me in the most wonderful way.

As best I could, I went back to our holiday home and shared the news with Boo and Bethany.

The following days were just a blur. On Sunday, after church, we were due to leave Kelowna and make our way down through the Rockies to Calgary. It seemed a better choice than driving back to Vancouver. Sharon was sharing our car and if we could get her to Calgary, then she could catch her onward flight to Toronto with Mark and Julie and the kids as planned and we were able to arrange emergency flights home from the same airport.

Sunday 23rd August 2009

5290_1211630815956_2802707_nJean’s birthday was today but we had met the night before to celebrate.

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We went to Church  with heavy hearts. We were cheered up when we saw an old friend , Simon McKenzie, who had driven up from Penticton to see us.

 

P1030430  P1030294P1030498The journey to Calgary was planed to take us a few days but we had to change plans in order to get to Calgary as soon as we could. We felt gutted for the others, but I think they understood. From Kelowna we headed north to stay overnight in a place called Valemount. This small town was near to the start of the Icefields Highway.

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P1030515Sleep was difficult.

Jasper – Monday 24th August 2009

We started early the next day as we had so much to fit in. We headed for Jasper.

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Jasper is a turn-of-the-century railroad town and resort area that lies along the Athabasca River within sight of four mountain ranges. Small lakes—some warm enough for a dip—dot the valley floor, and trails for walking and biking loop throughout. It was a breathtaking drive . Dotted along the highway were numerous gates which could be closed in winter if the conditions become too bad. Other sings warned of the need for snow chains to be put on car wheels. Jasper itself was wonderful. The reindeer it seems wander free!

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From here we made our way down the famous Icefields Parkway. Trying to balance the utter sadness we felt with the exhilaration of the majestic beauty of this wonderful country was confusing. I saw many breathtaking sights through tear filled eyes.

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The Icefields Parkway
A great swath of sensational country awaits south along the Icefields Parkway. Named for the Columbia Icefield and the squadron of glaciers visible along the route, the parkway bowls along for 143 miles , passing through long, forested river valleys cradled by walls of dazzling peaks. Drivers frequently spot elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears, wolf, or caribou. After about 21 miles of forest and crag, we pulled over beside Bow Lake for a good look at Crowfoot Glacier clinging to the scabrous cliffs of Crowfoot Mountain. From the lake’s north end, you can make out Bow Glacier Falls, a ferocious cascade plummeting nearly 400 feet (120 meters). A 3-mile (4.7-kilometer) trail leads to its base.

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The Icefields Parkway, one of the world’s most stunning roadways.

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P1030584 P1030578 P1030636 Banff National Park
The National Park stretches roughly 300 miles along the jagged crest of the Canadian Rockies, Banff and the adjoining Jasper National Park take in a vast tangle of great strapping peaks, mauled by glaciers and capped by the largest ice fields south of Alaska. Melt-waters thunder from the heights, pool in gem-like alpine lakes, and rush down the forested walls of broad U-shaped valleys into powerful rivers. It’s a staggering, heart-swelling landscape, rich in wildlife, laced with hiking trails, and traversed by the most spectacular system of roads in the Rockies.

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P1030654In the afternoon we arrived in Banff, settled the others into their hotel, left them with their dreams of Toronto and the Niagara Falls and we made our way to the airport and our flight from Calgary back to be with our loved ones.

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It was an awful flight but when we arrived in London we were overwhelmed as Kate and Jason and Gaz and Keri had come to meet us at Heathrow.

Words can never express how much that meant to Boo, Bethany and me.


 …………………………………………………………………..

AXA Assistance Chicago

122. S. Michigan Ave

Suite 1100

Chicago 60603

USA 

 

From
Ray Stahl
 
To:
Mr. Roger Newberry
Phone
+1 312 935 3550
 
Phone
02920512665
Fax
+1 312 803 2754
 
Fax
Email
liberty-usa@axa-assistance.us

</ td>

Email
roger.newberry@btinternet.com
Date
24-Aug-2009
 
Pg(s)
Our Ref
AI2988838
Mr. Roger Newberry
 
Your Ref
AI2988838

 

Mr.Newberry,                                                                                                                                              I am writing to confirm that you, your wife and daughter and have been booked on the flight we previously discussed for this evening. The flight details are as follows:

 Flight BA102 departing Calgary August 24th at 21:35, arriving into London Heathrow at 13:25 on August 25th.

 The locator for your flight is 3QJ25Y.

 Please contact our office if you have any questions.

 Sincerely,

Ray Stahl

AXA Assistance

I acknowledge the help given by our travel insurers…

……………………………………………………………………………

Footnote

We always said that we had unfinished business in Canada and we were totally delighted to be invited back to Montreal in the summer of 2014 to attend the wedding of Charlotte Thomas. She and Bethany have been friends since they were born. Both are getting married this year.

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One more promise I make is that we will visit Laura and Lyndon again and travel The Icefields Parkway without rushing and view the majestic beauty with eyes that are not misted with sadness.

You have my word.

Spring 2014

At last Spring has arrived and after months of putting off adventures because of the rain and the cold, the bright blue skies and warm sun made today a good day to go adventuring again. Alfie did not stay over last night and arrived just before eight followed by Millie just after nine, after the Princess Mia had been dropped off at school.

We had to wait until Mia’s lessons were over before we could go, so Millie and Alfie spent a leisurely morning playing in the little piece of paradise their Nan had created for them. The grown ups – Millie’s mum, the lady of the house and my good self enjoyed breakfast together and chatted through many things, putting the world to right. Just after ten we were joined by Belle’s aunt, who had brought some left over chicken and a little love note. Belle had soon devoured the chicken and Belle’s aunt had joined us for breakfast, which meandered into coffee time, as relaxed mornings do.

Before long it was time to pick up the Princess Mia from school and I was duly dispatched leaving the ‘girls ‘ to carry on nattering.

The Princess was glad to see me but it soon became obvious that she had a ‘tights’ problem. Every five yards of walking saw her tights drop down to her knees and after pulling them up many times, we decided the best solution was a ‘piggy back’. This worked fine and we soon arrived home and the problem with the underwear was duly reported to mum, who rolled her eyes and blamed the incorrect sizing!

After a hasty lunch we soon found ourselves heading for the station and the first real adventure of 2014.

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After battling with the machine at the station, the tickets were carefully placed in an accessible pocket, the dog in another pocket and we awaited the arrival of the train. Image

We were quite a crowd with three little kids, one glamorous gran, a little fat OAP and a scatty nervous little Yorkshire Terrier.

We looked quite a sight on the platform. Getting on and off the train need some technical manoeuvrings, but the lady of the house was magnificent at lifting the pushchairs, the kids and the little fat OAP onto the train in Eastbrook, off and on another train at Cardiff Queen Street and eventually off at Lisvane and Thornhill. While I was being helped on the train in Cardiff I noticed work on the new platform had only progressed slowly since we last adventured this way. I wondered what had caused the delay.

I gazed down at my dad and mums old house as we passed Llanishen and thought about my childhood growing up on that council estate in North Cardiff. When we stopped at Llanishen Station my mind went back to the days when the stationmaster tended the station garden and old steam trains came and took us to Barry and Lavernock.

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The walk from Lisvane Station to Cefn Onn Park was a short one. I longed for the days of the old Cefn Onn Station, which took you to the heart of the park.

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Parc Cefn Onn, originally named “Parc Cefn On”, in Lisvane, north of Cardiff, is a country park created in the valley of the Nant Fawr stream, which eventually runs into Roath Park. There are no early postcards of Parc Cefn Onn, because it originated in private ownership and was not open to the public until acquired by the Council in 1944, well past the peak of postcard production.

Beginning in 1911 the park was laid out by Ernest Prosser, General Manager of the Taff Vale, Cardiff, and Rhymney Railway Companies, whose intention was to create a woodland estate and house on the land then known as The Dingle. In the park he built a summerhouse where his son could convalesce from tuberculosis. Prosser abandoned his plans to build a house at The Dingle when his son died in 1922, but he continued to maintain the grounds until his own death in 1933. The estate was then inherited by a nephew who sold it to the Cardiff Council in 1944 for £7,500, after Prosser’s gardener, Tommy Jenkins, alerted members of the Council to the opportunity.

William Nelmes, Cardiff’s Director of Parks, described how Parc Cefn Onn came to be acquired:
“Local Authorities are often blamed for the protracted way in which they conduct their business and probably with some justification. In the case of the Parc Cefn On acquisition, however, very prompt action was taken: On a certain Saturday, in 1944, news was received that the property was for sale and the next day it was inspected by several members of the Council; on the Monday a deposit was paid by the Chairman of the Estates Committee and on the Tuesday a meeting was specially convened to approve the purchase of the property by the Corporation.”

The purchase was formally agreed on 21st August 1944 and the name Parc Cefn On was adopted the following month.In 1951 repairs to the thatched roof of the summer house cost £25-10-0.

The park quickly became popular with visitors, such that more frequent bus and train services were introduced and Cefn Onn Halt was opened by the Great Western Railway. The Council continued to develop the park into a site of national horticultural importance, attracting many visitors especially in the rhododendron season. The present day Parc Cefn Onn contains some rare and important native and exotic trees, while the streams, ponds, woodlands and other planting provide varied habitats for wildlife.

THE name Cefn Onn means ‘ridge of ash trees’.

There is an extensive network of streams and ponds throughout the woods. The biggest pond is artificial and created by damming the stream. Eventually this stream, as I said before, runs into Roath Park Lake. The streams and ponds act as a habitat for frogs, toads and common newts to spawn in the spring.

There are many rare and exotic trees in this park and some of them made Mia, Millie and Alfie gasp in admiration.

The size, colour and variety of trees are simply stunning – The Dawn Redwoods are the largest of their species in the city at 28 metres and an Edwardian- planted Grand Fir at 48 meters is reputed to be Cardiff’s tallest tree. The colour is forever changing with rhododendron and azalea providing late spring interest.

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Once we walked in through the gate and under the motorway and into the park, the dog’s lead was removed, the kids set free from the pushchairs and we were off, running, kicking dead leaves, picking up sticks. We had the most marvellous time, breathing in the fresh air and celebrating the arrival of Spring.

We passed many other people, old and young alike; all stopped for a chat or exchanged pleasantries. It was so good to be out.

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Before long we passed the magical spot where the path, now long overgrown, slopes down to the old Cefn Onn Halt.

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The kids had no idea, but even the lady of the house became a bit misty eyed as she herself thought about those happy days of long ago.

We arrived at the large pond, which the three little ‘uns loved and many sticks and stones were thrown in.

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After a while we moved on towards the old summerhouse, built for the first owner’s sick son but now derelict.

We decided on a photograph but I was reminded of my age and lack of agility here. I set the camera on timer and went racing up to join the others, but things I did a couple of years ago are no longer possible.  I failed!

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She did well.

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I had forgotten how beautiful this park is and we made our way around before finding a picnic table to stop and have a drink.

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After a brief break, we continued and Mia felt like a break, so she asked Alfie to push her in the pushchair. He duly obliged!

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We carried on around the park and soon found ourselves back at the gate. It was so wonderful to be out and to be able to enjoy such beauty, with three little treasures and one amazing lady who has brought such joy to my life. I looked at the kids running through the leaves and thought of Oscar Wilde’s story of The Selfish Giant. At one stage in the story the Giant says… ‘ I have many beautiful flowers in my garden, but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.’ Today I know how he felt!!

 

We made our way next door to The Old Cottage.

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This is now a pub/restaurant, but years ago my friend lived here; it was their home. It must have been an idyllic place to live! Here, we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea, before thinking about heading home. We arrived home tired and happy, with fresh air in our lungs and happy memories locked in our minds, never to be forgotten.

I reflected on the old hymn I used to sing in church…

“Count your blessings, name the one by one.” That is almost an impossible job for me I have too many…

 

But here are three to start off!

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Disneyland Dinas Powys

Alfie stayed the night, as he has been doing every Sunday since his mum changed her working days to the first part of the week instead of the latter part. Usually, Millie calls over and spends most of the day with him. They are growing close and are becoming great friends as well as cousins. The lady of the house was on nursery duty, so it meant I could have a little lie in after the busyness of the past week. It was about 8.15 am that I heard the first shouts of “Rog…Rog’ from the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t the lady of the house calling me to get on with my chores, but my little friend Alfie wanting to play. Some months ago, Alfie’s parents were teaching him animal sounds…. ”What does a cat say? What sound does a lion make and so on, until someone said, “What does Nanna always say? In response to this the whole family shouted….”Rog!’ … and from that moment Alfie has called me Rog. It’s kind of cute and I don’t take it as a mark of disrespect from the little fella.

We were all excited about Millie’s visit today. We always love it when she comes to play on a Monday.  She came to our house just after dropping her big sister at nursery. I think that she thinks she is coming to Disneyland Dinas Powys as she turns the corner into our street. The lady of the house had switched on the Christmas lights outside – her impression of National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – even though it was daylight. True, it was a dark and dreary December day, but once Millie and Alfie get together every day is a bright and happy one and I am sure she just felt the lights were an added bonus. Actually I am dreading the bill next time round, I am sure it’s going to be massive. I’ve been creative in thinking of ways to save money. Last week I was fed up of watching the fifteenth consecutive episode of Knots Landing on Sky plus, that I told the lady of the house I was going to the cinema. I told her to put her coat on and she asked if I was taking her with me? She didn’t look too happy when I told her that I wasn’t and that I was just turning the central heating off! It’s only fair…  I am surviving on a pension!

Today, both Alfie and Millie smiled broadly when they saw each other. We hope that when they grow up they will remember these happy and special times.

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They played first with the Disneyland Express train set.

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This is the latest addition to the little piece of paradise that the lady of the house is creating for our precious grandkids. During December our dining room is transformed into what can only be described as Disneyland Resort Dinas Powys. The whole room is decked out with everything Disney. Soft toys, dolls, decorations… the lot. The Christmas tree is full… and I mean FULL… of Disney character ornaments, collected over the past years. Family friends and relatives from far and near bring their kids to participate in a Disney Treasure hunt on our tree – with a prize to the one who can collect the most names.

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I always feel sorry for Tinkerbelle who has the most uncomfortable place of all to spend the Christmas period.

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….and always without a word of complaint… OUCH!

Last Christmas her collection of Disney baby princess dolls was lined up looking out of the front window. It looked a bit like a scene from the Rocky Horror Show but at least it kept the carol singers away!

ImageThe Christmas before we were visited by the local rodent inspector, who had heard from the neighbours that we were infested with mice! Mickey and Minnie were not too impressed!