Friday, 31 October 2014

A Grand Day Out

DD3 and I went on a day out on Weds. We caught the train into The Big City, with two main objectives in mind: mine was to attend a book signing by one of my favourite authors and  DD3's was to go to a wonderful shop which sells very upmarket natural toiletries, which she loves.  She has not been on a shopping trip to The Big City for a whole year due to her ongoing health problems and she was keen to come with me to see if her new combination of medications is helping as much as we think it is....

As soon as we got off the train and left the station, we were surprised to see a very visible uniformed police presence - certainly the first time I have ever seen this. It gave us something to discuss over a delicious hot chocolate at our favourite coffee house before we made our way into the centre of the City. I kept a watchful eye on her in case she seemed at all breathless, but she was coping well :-) Our visit to her shop was expensive (ouch) but as she reminded me, it was the first time she had been able to go there in a year to replenish her supplies, which was a fair observation and put the expenditure into perspective. I bought some things we both wanted and then left her happily shopping with the aid of a very helpful assistant while I headed for the  bookshop to join the queue.

To my surprise, there was no queue. I did look around and could see several other people clutching copies of the new book, but no queue. I spoke to one of the staff who assured me I was in the right place and I put myself firmly in the front of the table and chair at the side of the store, prepared to wait patiently for the next hour and a half till the author appeared. Once I queued up, others joined me and soon there were approximately fifty people, most of us with multiple copies of The Book. There was a great deal of banter, especially with the security staff who were hilarious and very nice indeed.

DD3 joined me, having shopped to her heart's (and wallet's) content and I was glad of the company. She is not a particular fan of this author, unlike her mother, sister and brother-in-law, but was happy to accompany me and was keen to see the secretive author in real life. When he strode in, I was nervous and a little tongue-tied, but he was absolutely lovely to us and willingly signed all four books, despite the queue behind us. We left, chattering about how nice he was and went off in search of a much-needed lunch and a sit down after the lengthy stand.

We were making our way back to the train station when we saw a charity magazine seller. (I have always made a point of buying one of these magazines each time I go to a town or city; generally I buy one early on in the day but today I had not, even though I had seen a seller in the morning. I simply did not feel that was the person I was supposed to support today.) The seller this afternoon was about my age, wearing a hat against the cold and the rain which had just started to fall as the afternoon light faded fast.  I asked how much the magazine was as I had not bought one for ages and was conscious of the fact I only had about £4 in my purse. He looked at me sadly and said he wished he could say to me it was £XX as that would be the cost of getting a night's cheap accommodation, but the magazine cost £2.50. We chatted to him for a while and he said he had not had a good day's revenue from selling the magazine and certainly did not have enough to get a roof over his head that night. He had been sleeping outdoors for a month. What was worse was because he was not a drunkard or a drug abuser, there was very limited charitable help available to him, which I do know to be a fact from other sources too, which seems manifestly unfair. I gave him the little cash I had and he thanked us and wished us well.

As we walked down the street, I looked at my wonderful sixteen year old daughter and she looked at me, and we were both thinking the same thing. She even offered to get money out of her bank account to help me, but she was looking tired so  I found her a seat and I dashed back to the nearest ATM cashpoint to withdraw the sum he needed to be able to spent that night safe and warm indoors. He was looking cold and so sad as person after person walked past him and looked at the floor rather than make eye contact with him. I walked up and handed him the cash, saying simply "Please spend tonight in the warm." He looked at the money, wild hope sparked in his eyes and his whole face lit up in shocked but delighted disbelief. He was very obviously on the verge of tears and kept repeating "God bless you, God bless you." I told him to take care of himself and   DD and I walked back to the station.

There were lots of delays and it was only when we were actually on the train home that we opened the bags containing the toiletries.  There was one item I knew I had not purchased and DD3 had not purchased, though she had asked the assistant if she could have  a tiny trial sample of it to take home. There was no tiny sample pot of it, but a full sized pot instead and tucked at the bottom the bag was a small printed card which said that the assistant had chosen to give us a free gift as an act of kindness and please would we pay it forward to someone else who might need an act of kindness. I checked my receipt and we had not been charged for the item, which was worth about £9. She was absolutely delighted with the gift as she felt it was something she could not justify buying on top of what we had already spent, and we were so happy that we had already been able to pay it forward by helping the homeless man get a warm bed for the night. I wish we could have helped him more, but at least that was one wet night he would not have been sleeping rough.

 We spent a great deal of time talking about almsgiving and acts of charity and it was a truly blessed day for us both. All the more so as she had managed an eight hour day walking and shopping with minimal problems, which is something she had not been able to do for a whole year. These new medications are definitely helping her a lot and we have a huge amount to thank God for, especially having a safe, warm roof over our heads when so many people do not.

Monday, 6 October 2014

New Toy

I have a shiny new camera, which sports an optical X30 zoom lens. I am slowly learning the camera's capabilities, but here are some of the shots I have taken over the last few days:

The lampada in the icon corner

Moonrise in the late afternoon/early evening

The lych-gate of the parish church decorated for Harvest Festival

Close up of the preaching cross 
which you can see in the previous picture...

Shot through the locked gates of the church 
as the light was failing.

Look at the con-trail of the plane

And playing with the zoom lens to actually see the plane :-)

And a rather nice sunset to round it off

Friday, 3 October 2014

A Stroll Involving A Sunset and Sheep

A curious sheep, wondering why I was leaning over the wall
 which separates the field from a busy road.

I can hear these sheep if I leave my bedroom window open ....

The land in the far distance is Somerset, England.

And further over again is the Devon coastline.

There are currently sheep in another nearby field 
too - I was spoilt for choice on this walk!

And the sky walking back to my home.....