Just Max and me – Adventures Day 9 – Techniquest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We parked up and waited for Eli to arrive.

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

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

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

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

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

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We had a great chat.

We even met with old Father Christmas…

IMG_4244Max wasn’t too sure though!!

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

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

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

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

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

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Beautiful Elsie Joy….

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

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Great stuff.

 

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The Old Bear

(For Jemima)

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Chapter 1

The old bear 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 2

The old bear finds a new friend

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.

Angus Mayer – my friend.

Angus Mayer

This simple remembrance of a friend was delivered at his funeral on 24th September 2016 at The Wenallt Chapel in Cardiff. Angus was a one off – one of life’s great individuals. He and his wife Margaret, whom he adored, are the central characters in a wonderful love story. Their family is truly one of the kindest you will ever meet. It’s a privilege to call them my friends.

 

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My friend

Jean and I were speaking with Angus just a couple of days before he left us and he held Jean’s hand and through his tears he said, ‘I have always tried to be a good man.’ As he said it I smiled and thought to myself. ‘No Angus you are not a good man….  you are a great man!’

In my eyes, that’s what he was – a great man and a great friend.

Somehow, I knew that the time between us meeting like this to say goodbye to Margaret and meeting again to say goodbye to Angus would be a short one and so it turned out. They were inseperable in life and will now be inseperable in death.

Angus left us a little while ago and we are here because of his influence on our lives.  For you his family… your lives were intertwined with his from the moment you were born.  For others of us who are here, our lives crossed Angus’s at different times and in different contexts in the course of time.  No matter what our connection with him we will never be the same again because of the man he was.  We are all a part of the wonderful legacy that Angus and Margaret Mayer have left behind.

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This morning as we mourn his passing, we are also celebrating Angus’s  life.  I believe life is a gift from God. It’s a gift made to be full of experiences, people and events. We had the privilege of knowing him and loving him and walking along the path of life with him.

In knowing Angus we have, hopefully become better people.

I was first introduced to Angus and Margaret soon after I started courting Jean. She told me of this wonderful family she knew and visited regularly. She just loved her visits to Fairfax Road. Without fail, she was welcomed every time, you children were asked to budge up and make room and a plate of something homemade and special was put in front of her. It was only later in life that  Jean realised that Angus and Margaret were probably giving her their own food. But they did it willingly. That’s the kind of people they were!

Jean loved her visits and longed one day to have a family of her own just like The Mayers.

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For me… I loved both Angus and Margaret from the very first time I met them and my love for them both never stopped growing. We were frequent visitors to their home down through the years and it became our custom to visit them every Christmas Eve. Each year one of his terrines was opened up and each year he would say the same thing…

’I wouldn’t cut this before Christmas Day for anyone else you know!’

Last year it was a Christmas Cake. He was very proud that Cath had made it.

Last week, we promised Gus that wherever he was, we would still visit him on Christmas Eve. He appreciated that! You can be sure we would have kept that promise and you can also be sure he and your mum will always hold a special place in our hearts and we will remember them in a special way on December 24th!

 

One by one our children were introduced to him. The first time my son Gareth visited, Margaret informed us that Gus was in the greenhouse. Out in the garden we were met by a great cloud of feathers and suddenly Angus’s booming  voice came through the cloud!  He was busy plucking pheasants. It’s a story we retell at regular intervals!

Kate, my daughter, was fascinated this year when Gus met us wearing an old cardigan which had a massive paper clip attached to the zip, replacing the obviously broken orignal. To me that summed up the lovely man that Gus was… quirky, eccentric, funny and so very interesting. I loved just sitting and listening to him tell his stories! Your dad was a master storyteller. He was the best cook I ever knew, his cross stitch skills were remarkable and one of our prized posessions is a signed and framed cross stich of Creation – Day One that Angus made for us several years ago. Trust me every time we pass it we smile and think of our lovely friend.

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He loved life – cooking, decorating, building, gardening at home and at the allotment , fishing, but most of all he loved his family. His face would light up when he spoke of you all.

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Death robs us of much – never again will we have Angus with us, no longer will we hear his voice, see his smile – no more hugs and handshakes.  Gone is the chance to tell him things you wanted to say.

How are we going to cope? We have something to help – a great and wonderful gift

The gift of memory…

Remember how much he loved your mum.  Remember him as your wonderful father, grandfather and your friend. Talk about him often. Talk about him with each other and keep his memory alive. Remember the fun times.

One day he said to me ‘Roger I could never be a teacher’

I didn’t have the foresight to say ‘But Gus, you are a teacher already!’

He didn’t realise all the things he taught us all about living life to the full, about overcoming life’s obstacles, about filling life with great experiences and about LOVING!

Let us promise that the good Angus and Margaret showed to us in their lives, we will now show to others and keep their memory alive!

 

 

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They are gone.

We can shed tears that they are gone
or we can smile because they have lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that they will come back
or we can open our eyes and see all they’ve left for us to remember.

Our hearts can be empty because we can’t see them
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 them and only that they’ve gone
or we can cherish their memory and let it live on.

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

Smile….open our eyes……

love each other like they did…

and go on.

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