South America

26 March 2021

Day 11: Tuesday January 15th. Latitude: 8,2,52S; Longitude: 34,52,4W.
Recife is the fifth-largest urban area in Brazil, with 4,054,866 inhabitants. It is the second largest urban area of the North/North-East Regions, also the capital and largest city of the state of Pernambuco in the north-east corner of South America. We had arrived around 6.30am local time, 9.30am London time. I was up early, so I watched and took some photos, it was fascinating to see. I had not planned any official shore excursions and anyway they were all full. So I stayed on board, watching events in and around the ship. These included some crew members swinging out the lifeboats, checking and testing systems. In the meantime, local dancers and a small band entertained the many passengers who were going ashore and walking the short distance to the string of coaches lined up, all ready to take them on a range of tours! Temperatures soon rose and just after lunch it was 28C, or 82F! It felt even hotter on the top sun deck… That night I attended a party on the aft area of deck 9, it didn’t start until 9.30pm. There was music, dancing, bright lights, the lot! After breakfast the following day I attended what was now our regular ‘singles get-together’ and ended up giving an impromptu training session on the use of the iPad and a Canon camera. I had not seen that particular model of camera before, but I soon worked out the controls. I also attended an official luncheon at mid-day given by the Captain and crew – I met new people. However, it meant that I could not possibly manage another main meal in the evening, so I cancelled that and went to the cafeteria on Deck 9 instead. It also meant I missed choir practice… I returned to my cabin and fell asleep! Not surprising though, as it really was getting hot now. Busy day tomorrow, too.

Image of bus queue
The bus queue, Recife, Brazil.

Day 13. Thursday January 17th. Latitude: 12,58,7S; Longitude: 38,30,43W.
Our next port of call was Salvador, Brazil. Even at 7.30am it was already around 79F, 26C. After breakfast I went ashore for an hour or so. It just happened to be a bank holiday there, with a street carnival going on. So many people, so much noise! I walked around, took photos, watched life in the place and returned to the ship for lunch and a chance to cool down. My arms caught some sunburn, but not too much. As rather expected, the following day it was still very warm – but humidity levels were also up. I believe that the cricket practice on the top deck was rained off! Now we had 7/8ths cloud cover, wind northerly force 5, temperature still 79F or 26C. Our clocks went forward one hour at mid-day too – yes, I did say forward! It was because some countries do not alter their clocks between summer and winter times. So I was almost late for choir practice! I had been watching the news and could see that back home there was snow and ice to contend with – I’m sorry, but you will understand if I say that I was happy to be where I was just then…

Day 15. Saturday January 19th. Latitude: 22,51,13S; Longitude: 43,13,44W.
Our next stop was Rio de Janeiro and there was a view I really wanted to capture if I possibly could. As it was, I woke just before 7.00am local time, 9.00am UK time, to watch as the ship was sailing in. I saw a truly amazing sunrise and I managed to get quite a few decent photos. But it became a bit cloudy, so from the ship there was no clear view of either Sugarloaf Mountain or the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. I took a stroll along the upper deck around 10.30am and I could feel the sun burning my neck! I had been warned to make sure I put on sun-screen and wear my hat in the afternoon, I also had two bottles of water to take with me. We were not allowed to go ashore with food items such as sandwiches, fruit etc, but just bottled water and a sealed packet of biscuits were fine. I’d had my lunch beforehand anyway! I was booked on a coach tour in the afternoon that included a visit to the local Cathedral and then to Sugarloaf, which was brilliant. I took the cable-car ride up the Sugarloaf Mountain and was able to capture the view that to me was amazing and at the same time was so memorable, as it featured in the James Bond film ‘Moonraker’. Sadly the clouds were still heavy over the statue of the Redeemer, but we saw it for a brief instant whilst travelling back to the ship. I learned later that the fellow travellers who went specifically to see the Redeemer found it was shrouded in mist all the time they were there! It was dark by the time we were leaving Rio and there was a thunderstorm in the distance. I couldn’t see the statue, but I could make out the floodlit shape of a cross. That was an amazing sight. After a busy time in Rio, the next day I took it fairly easy. The sea was such a glorious shade of blue, we’d had rain showers so the air was fresh. I did my walking exercise for the day. Starting from aft starboard, up to the bow, along the port side of the deck back to the stern was a third of a mile. As some of you know, I have to regulate the exercise I do but I am also a fan of Formula One (F1) motor racing, so I treated the walk around the deck like a racing circuit on a practice day. I did an ‘out lap’ and two, timed ‘racing’ laps, all walking but at different speeds. After that was a ‘slow down’ lap, and finally an ‘in’ lap!!! The connection to F1 made it a bit of fun for me, but in fact this was the proper way to exercise my heart, as I had been warned not to over-exercise it and also not to simply stop – I must start, gradually build up speed, then gradually slow down again. Gentle, regular walking.

Image of view from Sugarloaf Mountain
The famous view from Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Day 18. Tuesday January 22nd. Latitude: 34,54,6S; Longitude: 50,25,36W.
A couple of days later we arrived in Montevideo harbour and were here for two days. I was booked on the ‘Steam Train’ excursion. Any excuse to ride on a train! Having learned my lesson from a previous excursion, I ignored the advice given in the daily newspaper and was ready to board the bus earlier than recommended. It was the right move as everyone else had done the same! The tour was a good one, starting off by visiting the local cathedral. I was surprised to find we were allowed to take photographs inside! After that it was back onto the coach and on to the train station. We arrived in good time, but then had to wait, first for the train to arrive and then for all the ‘passengers’ to take photos and then get on board. This was a steam train but oil-fired, not coal-fired. In addition, there were quite a few tours from our ship that included the train ride, so we had to wait for everyone to arrive and be settled. The journey went through various areas of Montevideo, finally stopping at a place called Penarol. I walked to a point in front of the train to take photographs, and found the weeds growing there had small, ball-shaped seeds that had very short, sharp spines that clung to my socks, even to my trainers! Removing them wasn’t easy, but I did eventually get rid of them all. After the two busy days in Montevideo it was time for a couple of days taking things a bit steady before we reached the Falkland Islands. Already the weather was changing, it was becoming cooler and the winds a little fresher! Just a walk around the deck now required a light jumper or thin coat and I knew we would have to see what things were like as we continued south. It was becoming distinctly cooler, whilst the sea was nothing like as calm as it had been. Officially, the sea state was moderate to rough, the swell was short and moderate and to take a phrase from the UK shipping forecast, we had ‘precipitation in sight’! The sun was shining on us though – well, at times, anyway. In addition, some of the upper, more open deck areas had been closed off for our safety, which I can really understand and appreciate as it was quite windy. It made me smile when one Australian pointed out that we were already further south than any part of his country!

Day 22. Saturday January 26th. Latitude: 51,38,12S; Longitude: 57,38,18W
We were due to visit the Falkland Islands, but sadly the wind conditions prevented all shore leave. Arcadia was too big to dock directly into Port Stanley, so going ashore had to be by tender, except it was unsafe to transport passengers that way in such windy weather. Our original itinerary had included a number of trips including Rockhopper penguins, a tour of Port Stanley and several other sights. But with force 8 winds and rough seas, the captain had no alternative but to cancel our visit. I had an idea it might be rougher yet as we approached Cape Horn! Still, it did give us an opportunity to take photographs as we passed by the various islands. As I was watching, a number of birds took off. I’m not allowed to say how many, but I counted them all out, and I counted them all back in again! So we carried on and despite travelling south again it warmed up slightly, the skies cleared and the sea was much calmer. In the distance we saw a yacht and we were advised by the bridge that this yachtsman was sailing around the world. He had apparently encountered some rough weather on his travels! At a coffee morning I met and chatted to a lady who also used to work for BT, as I had done. It was entertaining, because soon we were swapping memories in jargon that others at our table simply could not understand! We would reach Cape Horn soon and having looked at a map of the area I noticed that not too far from Ushuaia there is a place called Puerto Williams!

Temperatures were dropping again, which was appropriate as we were nearing Chile…

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Welcome To The Cruise

19 March 2021

I have already mentioned that back in 2013 I treated myself to a holiday on a lovely cruise ship. This was to celebrate my improving health and my sixtieth birthday. I had let my mother know I would be away for a while, but I found out that sending her the full itinerary of where I would be each day gave both her and the other inmates in the Care Home where she was something to look forward to! I had to see my local doctor to get sufficient supplies of all the medication I needed to keep my epilepsy and asthma under control, as well as the relatively new set of tablets related to my heart condition. I also had jabs of things to keep me inoculated. All entertaining stuff, but necessary. This was all based on the countries I would be visiting and the cruise line, P&O, were really good in providing details as to what I would need. For some places I had to have a visa as well as my passport. I used a couple of suitcases and soon everything was all sorted, including train tickets down to Southampton and a hotel booking. I planned to go down the day before, just as I had done previously. I had been purchasing additional memory cards to use in my camera, I made sure they were all in good working order, my iPad was then set up, as that way I could download the photos using an adaptor, review them and send a few to folk back home when the ship’s WiFi or a shore-based service was available. I also had all the battery chargers!

The day before the ship sailed, a good friend took me to Leicester station and off I went. It was January 4th. I got help at Birmingham getting all my luggage over to the other train which would take me to Southampton and I got on board, found my reserved seat and sat back. It was a lovely day to travel. I stayed in the same hotel I’d previously been in, it was near to the train station and a local McDonalds, so that night I had a good sleep. All passengers had been given checking-in times, which was a good idea, so the following day, after an easy morning I went by taxi to the dock. It was clear that this service was well-known to the local taxi firms, and as before, all my suitcases with the proper labels (which had been supplied by P&O some weeks before) were quickly whisked away. No doubt they were both security checked before being taken to my cabin. Just as is found in an airport, I went through the security and I was given my ID card as before. I learned later that a few passengers had to get inoculation jabs before they could travel, so they would have to join the ship at its first port of call, Tenerife. This time I knew the layout of the ship as I was back on Arcadia! I will admit to deliberately choosing an ‘adults only’ cruise, I wasn’t terribly keen on having youngsters around. That was my choice. With all on board, at the appropriate time the mooring ropes were let go, the siren was sounded and off we sailed as a brass band played. Because I had been on that ‘taster’ cruise, I knew the routine on board and that did make it easier for me. I settled down after a wander round, I read the daily pamphlet about all the events planned for the following day and I made a mental note of a few. I had a quiet evening meal in the cafeteria, it meant I could have as much or as little as I wanted to eat. The time soon passed, I listened to some quiet music and then it was time to rest. It took a little while to get used to the new environment with the unusual sounds, but I slept.

The following morning I went down to the restaurant where passengers largely helped themselves. I saw many having a full cooked breakfast but I had my usual muesli. I began chatting to a few of the people sitting near me, it was pleasant and relaxing. I didn’t know how other passengers felt, but I was already settling in to this way of living. I was, after all, here for quite a while! With such a mix of passengers, it was clear we had couples as well as singles travelling. So a clever idea had been put into practice, where every day that we were at sea us ‘singles’ who wished to do so could meet together after breakfast for a cup of tea, some biscuits and a chat. A few members of the crew would join us, we would talk about anything and everything. There was no pressure, those who didn’t want to for any reason had that choice. There were odd occasions when I wouldn’t, if something else was on or I simply felt like I wanted to be on my own, just watching the sea. I began doing gentle walking round one of the open decks, in that way I was getting fresh air and exercise. The first evening in the main dining room was all formal dress, so I went along and was guided to my table. We were served excellent food, some had wine but I had juice as I preferred that. I was avoiding alcohol anyway, with all the tablets I was on. I found that music and the Arka Dhyana relaxation therapy was far more refreshing for me. After the meal, most of the other people at my table went down to the theatre, but I was tired so sat quietly in one of the lounges. I listened to the relaxing music, then returned to my cabin. The following day I joined the ‘Arcadia choir’ – I loved it! It was a little emotional for me to begin with as it had been so long since I sang in a lovely mixed-voice choir, but that feeling soon passed. Then in the afternoon I attended a talk about the Concorde aircraft. I also got to watch the ‘Star Trek’ film which was on television! Again that evening I was invited to the theatre with the others at my table, it would be a female singer. My reply was rather non-committal, even though they were saving a seat for me, which was good of them. I did go to the theatre and stood near the back, but when the singer began with an aria, I quietly walked away – opera singing isn’t my style! I returned to one of the bars for a quiet sit-down and coffee. It was really quiet too, with so many folk in the theatre and others in the dining areas for the second sitting.

Two days later we arrived in Tenerife. I was booked on the Northern tour of the island, but having never done this sort of thing before I followed exactly the detailed instructions printed in the daily pamphlet. So I was off the ship and on the dock-side just before the stated time. I saw my bus a bit further down the dock begin to move, but a member of the ship’s crew told me to stay put, as the bus was simply moving forward to where I was. Except it didn’t. It carried on past me. Crew were on their radios within seconds but this meant that the driver had to turn the bus round, come back, turn again and then collect me. My fellow passengers cheered as I climbed aboard, so I smiled and bowed! I did get the opportunity to explain to a few what had happened though, as it really wasn’t my error. The Northern tour was very good, we stopped at a few places, I took photos and really enjoyed the experience. But I hadn’t realised that the mountains were so high on that island so I was partially deaf by the time we returned to the ship, due to the changes in air pressure in such a short time. Happily my ears soon settled. I had a meal and then rested. I had no inclination to watch a show, so I walked around later, had a coffee, listened to some live piano music by John, the choir conductor, then returned to my cabin.

Photo of Tenerife
Approaching Tenerife

One aspect of this holiday was time travel, as after leaving Tenerife our
clocks went back an hour at 2.00am the following day. I found it easy to adjust, which was good as it would not be too long before the clocks went back yet again! For me it was far easier to cope with than travelling by air. But even more entertaining was learning that because we cross over the International Dateline several times, we would not see two particular days whilst other days would occur twice for us! Choir practice was brilliant – the depth to my voice was returning, as was an amount of power and control. I needed to take it steady though and not rush things too much or overstrain myself. I also needed to remember that this was a holiday. A few days later our clocks went back again, so we were now two hours behind London time. That morning was definitely warmer, more humid, with 5/8ths cloud cover, the wind was North-easterly force 4, temperature 26C, or 79F if you prefer! The sea state was reported to be ‘slight, with an average to low swell’. But at this latitude I guess warmer is what we should expect! The Arcadia Choir had its first public performance, first at 6:00pm and then another at 8:00pm. It all went really well. The timings were done that way so as to provide pre-dinner entertainment because with all the passengers on board there had to be two separate dinner sittings in the main Dining Room, one at 6:30pm and the other at 8:30pm. The only thing it did mean for those choir members on the first meal sitting was the need to finish our meal and then go back ready to sing again! I was in that category, so in my case I did not have a starter or pudding, just a main course which was a light meal as I cannot sing well on a full stomach. I did get myself a light snack after we finished the second event though! The following day we crossed the Equator at around 2.00am local time, which was 4.00am UK time. In keeping with an old tradition, there was an article in our daily newsletter saying that “Permission has been sought for Arcadia to cross the Equator. Word has been sent to King Neptune, Ruler of the Seven Seas. A message has been received that he will visit Arcadia and all passengers are required to attend to celebrate the crossing of the line.” I attended the celebratory event that was held later in the day – I did not wish to incur Neptune’s wrath, or see inside Davy Jones’s locker thank you very much!

Next week – we arrive in South America…

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A Bit Of A Holiday

12 March 2021

For me, Thursday 11 November 2010 was a very memorable one. Apart from it being Remembrance Day, it was also when I had a heart attack. It came right out of the blue as the saying goes and with no warning that I was aware of. One minute I was walking away from my car in a multi-storey car park in Leicester and the next thing that I remember was waking up thirty-six hours later as I was being wheeled from Leicester Royal Infirmary’s A & E to a ward in the hospital. I had been found on the floor of the car park, I do not know by whom, but I am very grateful to them, whoever they were. I was also really thankful that the hospital was literally just around the corner from the car park. To begin with I was thought to be having just an epileptic fit as I always carry a medical card with my NHS number on. But tests showed an elevated item in my blood which only occurs with a heart attack and this was confirmed after further scans. I was given tablets to take, but I was already on medication for epilepsy so a few more were no problem to me. I still recall the look on that hospital doctor’s face when I asked him for how long I’d need to be taking these extra tablets and his smile as he replied “always”. He then went on to explain what these extra tablets were. In the meantime though, to the people who knew me it seemed like I had just disappeared, my car wasn’t in its usual place and I wasn’t answering my phone. A lady friend of mine was phoning everyone she could think of to find me, she just knew there was something wrong when I didn’t answer my phone as I usually did and she eventually persuaded the local police to check the hospitals to find me, which they kindly agreed to. My car was also located. So it was that a while later I was sitting up in a hospital bed when a policewoman appeared, asking me questions! I was able to assure her that nothing untoward had occurred and I’d be happy for my friend to be told where I was. She arrived a short while later and I was happy to see her. Much later it crossed my mind that other folk in that hospital ward must have wondered who I was, with the police visiting me there! I was monitored for a while but I had no problems with the extra medication and was able to return home quite a few days later. My mother was told at first that I’d only had an epileptic fit, which did not worry her too much as that was a known condition with me. It was only later that we told her the rest! She was, after all, eighty-nine at the time. For a while doctors kept a very close eye on me with regular tests and thankfully regular scans showed no degeneration of my heart. But a regular check is still made.

When I was told by a consultant that no further visits to see them were needed unless I had any problems, I decided to give myself a present. At that time I wasn’t all that far away from my sixtieth birthday so I looked at a few options. I saw an advertisement for a big event on at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, this being The Cruise Show. Realising I could look around at what was on offer, I went along and liked what I saw. To this day I don’t know what made me try it but I booked myself onto a four-day ‘taster’ cruise by P&O on the cruise ship Arcadia. The itinerary was simple, to go from Southampton, over to Dunkirk, then along to Le Havre and return to Southampton. So, a few months later I went. I have said how I really love travelling by train, so I used that mode of transport to get me to where I would be departing. I went from Leicester to Birmingham, with one change of train there taking me direct to Southampton. In that way I bypassed London. I stayed overnight in a hotel and the following morning used a local taxi to get to the nearby docks. As soon as I arrived, my suitcase was whisked away and I was booked in. I was given a boarding card showing my name, travel dates, the ship’s name and something called a Muster Station. I was escorted to my cabin, my suitcase was waiting for me and a bit later a steward appeared. My suitcase was unpacked for me and I studied the layout of the ship. I wasn’t used to this treatment at all, it was lovely! I soon learned the reason for the ‘muster station’. In a similar way when on board an aeroplane, prior to the journey all safety procedures are gone through. So, in the event of it being necessary to leave the ship in any kind of emergency, we were all shown how to put on lifejackets, with individual assistance given as required. We were also told what signal would be heard from the ship’s siren. Then I strolled around, getting to know where things were. It really was just like a floating high-class hotel. It was lovely and spacious, fully carpeted, I was impressed. Once we were all on board and everything set, we departed. I stood on one of the open decks before going in for a lovely evening meal. This was in the main restaurant, where every passenger was guided in to a specific table and a full waiter service was provided. Even though we were only on a short cruise, one or two nights had an evening dress code, with ladies in their best dresses and the gentlemen in dark suits and bow ties. This would be adhered to more on longer, regular cruises. There were several different restaurants on board, with one laid out like a cafeteria, where we helped ourselves, but staff were on hand to assist as much or as little as individuals wished. Other speciality restaurants were to be found, with a full waiter service, but an extra charge was made for using those. A mix of shops were on board too, with expensive items for sale like clothes and jewellery. There were bars, cafes, a library, even a games room. I found the computer room! The most impressive part was the theatre, with different live shows every night. It really was a floating hotel and more besides. However, I found on the first night that the weather in the English Channel was not good. Not good at all. In fact the captain had to forego docking at Dunkirk because, as he put it, ‘we might get in, but the weather is so bad we might not get out for a day or two’. This meant that we were simply trundling up and down the English Channel in a force nine gale for a day and a night. Not everyone enjoyed it, but I did. My maternal grandfather had been at sea for much of his life, both in the Royal and the Merchant navy, so it has been thought that perhaps I have some sea salt in my veins! Going up or coming down the Channel the prevailing wind was either directly for or against us. This meant that whenever Arcadia turned during the night it was side-on to the wind and we rocked just a little. I found out later that some passengers were disturbed by this, but for me the easy rocking motion sent me back to sleep! We called in to Le Havre, the weather was now much better and I used the shuttle bus provided to get into town. I had a look around, treated myself to lunch, then returned using the shuttle bus (we were given set-down and pickup points as well as times) back to Arcadia. We were advised not to be late. I did not want to be left behind! We were then returned to Southampton, I stayed in a hotel overnight and travelled back to Leicester by train the following day, using the same route as before.

All in all I had found life on board that cruise ship to be relaxing as well as enjoyable. As a result, as a treat, I booked myself on a world cruise lasting one hundred days, which was starting in early 2013. It meant that I would be celebrating my sixtieth birthday in Honolulu. Perhaps the hardest part was telling my dear Mum that I would be away for so long and why, because she and I were used to chatting regularly, usually once a week. So I sent her a copy of my itinerary and I learned later that she got to tell all the other inmates in the Care Home she was in exactly where I was each day. It gave them all something to talk about together and look forward to. Whilst on this hundred day holiday I kept a daily diary and it is my plan to write more about this lovely time in a series of future blog posts. Many days were spent at sea, so there may not be too much to write about at such times but I met some lovely people, I was very well looked after and I saw places that I never ever dreamed I would. I wanted to do this whilst my health allowed me to and I wanted to be able, if I could, to have memories to cherish. I hope I can share some of these with you in my future writings, as well as a few of the photos I took along the way! I also hope that you will enjoy reading about this adventure. With that in mind, you can see below a map of the route that we took, starting from Southampton to a few places in South America, round to Chile and across to Australia. Then it was down to New Zealand, then up to Hawaii, on to the west coast of the U.S.A., through the Panama Canal, returning to Southampton with stops at various and very varied places along the way. A coloured dot on the map represents each day, with blue ones at sea and green where we made landfall. For me it was a truly wonderful, one chance experience to see and enjoy so much of our really beautiful Earth.

This week, on the subject of cruising…
A magician worked on a cruise ship, performing the same tricks each week for the new passengers. The captain’s pet parrot came to all the shows and figured out how the tricks worked. It began to shout out during the shows, things like “It’s up his sleeve”, spoiling the illusions. The magician was rather annoyed but couldn’t do anything as the parrot belonged to the captain. Then one night, the ship sank and the magician found himself stranded on a desert island, along with the parrot. They stared at each other for days, neither uttering a word. Eventually the parrot couldn’t hold itself back any longer.

“Okay, I give up”, it said. “What did you do with the ship?”

cruise map

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

05 March 2021

We are constantly faced with decisions, many options are forced upon us as a result of circumstances, outside forces, like in the situation we are in now both in and around this beautiful world. A very long time ago our ancestors had to decide in what way they would feed their families, whether to go out with others or go out on their own. If we look at Nature, in Africa a single lion may not bring down a wildebeest but a pride together may manage to. Working together helps. Some have speculated that in life we might have multiple outcomes which are all dependent on the choices we and others make. I am of the opinion that even though we make choices, our lives are mapped out for us. A while ago I watched an episode of Star Trek The Next Generation involving ‘Q’, where Captain Picard was shown a younger version of himself. He was shown the consequences of a different choice which, if he had made it, would have meant him not getting recognised and not becoming captain.

But changes never cease, so when BT did yet another rearrange, my work transferred to Nottingham and I went too, with expenses for the move all provided. Not just a shift, more of a remove and re-site! I met new people and I learned many things. I am grateful for all the help and support I had through a few difficult times, as well as the chance to move to Birmingham a little while later when more changes occurred. Another one, a choice given to me that I was thankful to accept. Still learning, I was there for five years. I even struck up a friendship with a young lady there, but things did not work out. I was still travelling long distances to and from work and now my health was starting to suffer. With house prices falling I could not move. So it was to Sheffield I went, again with support from my manager and a new manager who took the decision to give me a try. I was and still am thankful to all concerned, as it meant that my health improved and I was later put forward to become a Trainer in BT. Then a further move over to Leicester came about through a friend who had introduced me to Srinivas Arka, the man who has taught me and many others about the Arka Dhyana relaxation therapy which I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

During my time with BT I became used to moving around every few years, so I wasn’t at all surprised when in 2007 a few of us were told that our work was moving to another place, down south somewhere. But this time not us. We were told the decision to do this had been made and there were now only a limited number of job opportunities for us in Leicester. It seemed the best option for me was to accept the ‘New Start’ option or what I saw it as, redundancy. I and a few others opted for that. I talked it over with a few folk, I made a decision and left. In truth it was a bit tough going for a while as I left all the things I knew, also training courses and the like were sadly not recognised outside of BT. So I went to Leicester college and obtained a teaching qualification which enabled me to start my own business. It was all hard work, but a good decision. As a result of that, when I finally reached retirement age I was able to do so. That word yet again. Decision.

Conscious decisions surround us and as we all know, time does fly. Failing health has meant I don’t get around like I used to and I’m in a Care Home now. So I write. I do a daily personal diary, I also do a weekly blog and I’m working on learning a language. I am involved with a local u3a, short for university of the third age, which is nothing whatsoever like a university, but where there are so very many different groups to join. They are all on what we like to do, what our hobbies and interests are. I enjoy being a part of u3a. Besides that, I do as much or as little as I wish or sometimes can do. I keep in touch with old friends, my former BT colleagues and outside. I am thankful to be as I am, I know of many folk who are much worse off than me.

There are some who look back at all of the decisions they’ve made in their lives and wonder if they always made the right choices. Some may even consider that they themselves are at fault. But I remember the words of my Dad about helping others and giving advice. He said that advice is just that. Always give it freely, expecting nothing back. If they take it then all well and good. If they don’t take it then you have done your best. You are not at fault if they don’t listen to you, even though they might try and make out that you’re the one in the wrong if things don’t go the way they might want. They have made the choice to listen or ignore your advice to them. They have decided to live their life their way. Sadly many are no longer with us in this life, but we all live by our own decisions. I am not perfect in any way, I get it wrong and no doubt will continue to do so. Naturally I don’t have the same decisions to make now that I did twenty years ago, but the big wide world keeps turning. Changes, chances, opportunities and decisions will be with us and we must make the very best of them in this beautiful world. As the world changes then we, as our ancestors did, must also adapt, must change with it. St. David’s Day has just passed by, daffodils are in bloom, birds are singing and before too long fresh leaves will appear on trees. Nature has made the decision to bring on a new year. It too may get caught out with a bit of cold weather yet, but new life is already appearing and it will continue to do so.

This week, a quote.
“Sometimes God allows us to make mistakes, because we can’t recognise the sweet without the bitter; we cannot recognise the good without the bad.”

~ Donny Osmond, 30 November 2014.

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