Monday, June 27, 2016

Jan Collard RIP

I went to a funeral today. Or rather I stood outside the church, with many others, while the service was conducted because there was no room inside. 

It was for a woman I barely knew. Her name was Jan Collard and I'd only got to know her slightly over the last few years through Zac's and the work we were both doing to help pregnant women and families in need but she made enough of an impact on me for me to want to go along to show respect for who she was.

For many years she worked with homeless agencies and while most people do their work and go home Jan took her work home with her - literally. Her car boot and the car itself were often filled with goods she'd collected for this family or that individual.

Her death is a loss not only to the very many people she helped in one way or another but to the whole city of Swansea. We mourn the loss of a heart so big it couldn't be restrained by regulations, negativity or a can't-do attitude. Her practical love encompassed every race and faith and, at this time when much racist and bigoted abuse is being bandied about, the way she lived her life shows us an alternative way of thinking and acting.

Her death won't make the front page of the local newspaper but that doesn't mean that the gap she leaves behind won't be significant.

I pray her husband and family, friends and community, will find comfort in the knowledge that she was loved and will be missed by many.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Two things I'm not going to talk about ...

The referendum result and the Wales in New Zealand rugby tour. Okay? Clear?

But apart from that I've had a good week, beginning with an excellent training day with Beyond the Streets in Southampton followed by a visit from Leslie from Canada. 

On Friday, reeling from the referendum result (I said I wasn't going to talk about that) I took Leslie to Tenby calling in at Laugharne on the way home.

Yummy crab salad at Oceans harbour front bistro in Tenby before Leslie took Husband and me out to Castellamare in the evening as it was our 34th anniversary.

The view from Dylan Thomas' writing shed.

Saturday it was closer to home with a trip to Oxwich and the Swansea Jack memorial. Interesting discovery for me: next to Swansea Jack is a memorial to the local men who died in the Boer War, either killed in action or from disease - about equal numbers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June 23rd - a Big Day

I believe there is the little matter of a referendum happening tomorrow but more importantly, Leslie, my blogging friend from Canada, arrives for a visit!

We first met in Vancouver in 2008.
That's Leslie on the right as you look at the photo along with another blogger of the time, Joan.

Then we met again in Wales - and I was convinced I had photos from that visit but can't find them or remember the year.

But this is the first time Leslie will stay for a couple of days and we'll have a chance to look around and see some sights.

Incidentally here is a message from the #DogsAgainstBrexit party.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How I stood from Cardiff to Bristol

So I'm setting off for Southampton on the train on my own. It involves 4 changes (altogether) and 8 tickets. You can understand my trepidation.

Swansea to Cardiff there are 8 of us in the quiet carriage. I am lulled into a sense of security.

At Cardiff I have to change on to a crowded train but that's okay because I have reserved a seat. I, along with lots of others, embark, and I wander down the compartment, which already looks full. Very full, as it turns out. Including, I realise, my reserved seat. I panic and walk out of the carriage to stand in the in-between bit. 

I check my ticket. Yes, that is definitely my seat number and, yes, there is definitely someone sitting in it. But what it doesn't have is a little Reserved ticket sticking out of the top as they usually do. I dither. I am in the right I tell myself. I'll just go and explain and ask the bald gentleman in the pin striped suit to move. Yes, that's what I'll do. I peek into the carriage again. Minutes have gone by now and I think, people will think I'm an idiot for not doing it straightaway.

Oh dear, what to do? I tell myself I am woman; I am strong. I peek in again. I can't see the man's face but from the back of the head he has a Phil Mitchell look. I peer down the carriage hoping a railway official will make an appearance but if he does and I use him to get my seat then will it look as if I've been unnecessarily heavy-handed when I could have just asked?

There is a young man sitting on the pull-down seat just inside the train door. I alternate between thinking he should be polite and offer me his seat and being grateful that he doesn't think I look old and decrepit enough to warrant it.

I give myself a good talking-to. I have a long journey; I need a seat. It's mine by right! But, apparently, there's been a problem and the train is only 3 coaches long when it should be much longer. So do reservations count in that instance? What if he challenges my right? What if he makes a fuss? And probably there'll be people getting off at Bristol and I'll have a seat then. But what if I don't? I have a three and half hour journey ahead. 

More people get on at Newport. I end up standing in a corner, over-shadowed by and, staring at the backs of three men in black anoraks. All the way to Bristol via loads of stop I've never even heard of.

The rest of the journey is uneventful ...

Until I get to Southampton Parkway station where I am to be picked up. I think. Details weren't exactly finalised so I'm not sure if I am being collected and if I am by whom. I get off the train and follow the first Way Out sign I see. After crossing the bridge I reach the car park where I am a little concerned to see nobody.

I hover for a while before noticing that on the other side of the track is a more substantial looking train stationy type building. I cross back over and spot a woman just making a phone call. Could this be the person I am meeting?


And the rest of the training day really was uneventful but excellent. And well worth standing to Bristol.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

At last something Husband and I can agree on

It's only taken 38 years.

Of course there've been plenty of things we've agreed on in the past, like West Wing and House being some of the best television ever but when it comes to anything vaguely political, in the small p sense of the word, we've agreed to disagree.

We've both stuck with the leanings of our formative years when he was a very slightly right wing mod and I was a slightly further left wing hippie. So we've disagreed about everything from God to nuclear weapons. 

But now on what will be the day before our 38th wedding anniversary the country goes to the polls and for once we'll both be crossing the same boxes: REMAIN.

Our reasoning is different - mine is idealistic; his is well-thought-out and rational - but we've come to the same conclusion. 

Maybe after another 38 years he'll begin to come round to more of my way of thinking ...

Watch out for Husband and an onion

Last week I felt a bit down. Husband asked what he could do to cheer me up. 'Nothing,' I shrugged.

He thought for a bit then said, 'When stables wanted to sell a horse that was a bit old and down in the mouth they used to stick an onion up his bum. Then he'd trot around the market ring like a jolly youngster.'

I looked hard at him. 'Don't even think about it.'

In which George and I have a little falling out

George is lagging behind me as I drag him around for his walk in the rain. 'This is for your benefit you know, not mine,' I remind him.
'I didn't ask to come out.'
'Oh no? You've been looking at me all afternoon.'
'That was before I knew what it was like out here. You had the advantage of knowing in advance.'
'Well, you could have said something along the lines of let's not go out today.'
'What do you think I've been doing for the last ten minutes.'
A moment's silence then George says, 'I won that argument I think.'
'No, you didn't!'
At that point I decide to give up. He can keep that argument going for a whole walk as I know to my cost. (But silently I told myself that I'd won the moral argument.)
'And you haven't won the argument moral or otherwise,' George says.
'Did I say that out loud?'
'No, but I know what you're thinking.'
I bite my lip then I say, 'Let's just agree to stop there before one of us says something we'll  both regret.'

And we finish the walk in silence. Apart from the rain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A plague of boils

Nobody has boils any more, have you noticed?

I'm sure they used to be a common occurrence when I was young. The words, 'Our Fred's gone to the doctor to have his boil lanced,' were oft heard on the streets of Mumbles. (Whoever Fred was.) (And the only image that would enter my head would be that of a medieval knight with his long jousting lance.) But now you never hear that anyone has a boil.

There was a jeweller's shop in the village run by a quiet old man. I have no idea why I would have had cause to go into the jeweller's as a child but I remember this particular gent as having a huge boil-like thing on the back of his neck. Permanently. It must have been something other than a boil (or he'd have been staright off to have it lanced I'm sure) but it was memorable, poor man.

My pondering on boils started at about 2.00 am last night. It came about when, tossing and turning in bed unable to sleep because of my throbbing little toe - a self-inflicted injury/infection - I needed to take my mind off the fact that I'd just realised that I didn't agree with the notes I'd spent hours writing the previous day. 

I'm not even sure what a boil is. Or why so few people should get them now. Improved cleanliness maybe? Who knows? Or cares if it comes to that. 

And, on reflection in the cold light of day, I realise it's not so much that I disagree with my notes; it's more that I would put a different slant on them.   

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Up for auction

Way back when Alun and I shared an office in Linden we began a collection of holiday tack souvenirs. They took pride of place on the office shelf and we encouraged people visiting far-flung outposts to bring us back the tackiest gift they could find.

Time has passed and neither Alun nor I work in the Linden office now but until this week the holiday collection remained.

New brooms sweep clean though and yesterday I was presented with 2 bags of goodies because they 'didn't want to just throw them out.' But here, take a look:

Now tell me how anyone could even contemplate throwing away such treasures.

So I'm going to put them on ebay as a 'rare and valued collection of holiday souvenirs the like of which has never been seen before.' I wouldn't be surprised if the curator of the British museum got in touch. Or the Duchess of Cornwall. Or Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen. It could spark off a bidding war.

I'll keep you informed.