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Showing posts from January, 2012

Close Quarters; Part One

By Belinda

Tanyard Close, in Alvechurch, is where Mum and Rob both live in housing for older and disabled people.

25 one bedroom flats and bungalows; compactly built, are fitted into an area of land that is smaller than our backyard in Bond Head. The homes are tiny; utilitarian and efficiently designed.

A mix of single and married people live in the close and a sprinkling of people with disabilities, such as the young man whose house is across from Mum's kitchen window. He has Cerebral Palsy; uses a wheelchair and has round-the-clock carer support. Others like Mum, have Helping Hands support two or three times a day and some live without outside support.

At the back of the flats, trees border the lawns at the edge of a brook. The curbs are cut for accessibility, and graded with low edges for safety. The residents know and look out for one another and in the summer neighbours sit out on the benches on the front lawns and chat.

Rob moved into the close after living in dire circumstan…
By Belinda

On our journey to England just over two weeks ago, we left Amsterdam in the early morning, just as the sun was rising.

We flew under rosy dawn skies, over the red tiled roofs of the city and briefly over flat, orderly, farm fields divided by canals and dotted with neat farmhouses--unmistakably Dutch. In minutes we reached the sea shore, the beaches of Holland--and we could see the surf dancing on the shoreline like the lace that borders Dutch net curtains. Then we were over the ocean--the North Sea, which I crossed many times as a child, to and from visits to our Dutch relatives.



The Cityhopper droned over the sea dotted with small boats chugging busily along. And then, in less than an hour, we came to the cliffs of England, distinctly different from; although so close in distance to; the country of the Dutch.

We flew over a patchwork of green. From the sky it seemed that the country was entirely farmland; ancient fields laid out as for centuries like a crazy quilt, separa…

Strangers for Only a Moment

By Belinda

We worked our way down the aisle of the KLM Cityhopper that was about to take us from Birmingham to Amsterdam; where we would connect with our flight to Toronto.

We found our seats in row 16; and squeezed into the tiny middle and aisle seats. A man was already seated in the window seat, and as we waited for take off I closed my already heavy eyelids. I could hear snatches of conversation between him and Paul and wondered briefly how my reserved husband would manage with a chatty seatmate, but I had been up since 2.00 a.m. and the pull of sleep was irresistible.

I woke short minutes later with a jump, to the plane accelerating and rising from the runway, my foggy brain wondering where I was.

Now I found myself straining to follow the conversation over the drone of the plane engine. Paul and the man were sharing details, seeking common ground for conversation. They established where they were going: we to Canada and our seatmate to Africa. Next the man told Paul that he curre…

Our Day at Schiphol--in Photos

By Belinda

We are safely back in Canada after a 19 hour journey home. The journey shouldn't have been that long but our flight was changed from the one that I had booked, just before we left, meaning that we would have to be at Birmingham airport at 4.30 a.m. and then would have a 5 hour wait between flights, at Schiphol Airport

It was gruelling for Paul--it did make for a very long day; but I loved being surrounded by the Dutch language; people watching; visiting the art exhibition entitled Holland in Winter; reading and taking photographs. I made the most of the time and secretly enjoyed it.


Here is some of what I saw at the beautiful airport.

I have more to tell, but  just now I am going to bed.





















"Good" Bye

It was Saturday evening and Mum was tucked up cozily in bed. Our friends, Eileen, Chris and Nel-Rose had left a couple of hours earlier for their long drive north to Kendal, in the Lake District. Nel is studying nursing at Lancaster University and we are all so happy to see her following her dream.I sat on the side of Mum's bed, as usual going over the lovely moments in the day that we had shared. I told Mum that Nel is hoping to do one of her placements in Canada."Wouldn't that be nice?" I said, "She might be able to stay with us."Mum nodded, "She can stay in my room," she said, smiling."Do you still remember the loft room?" I asked; Mum's stroke in 2003 took some of her memories with it."Oh, yes," she said, "I remember all of your rooms. I don't remember the other house," she added, making a face, and I knew that she was referring to the last house she lived in with Dad, on Snake Lane; a place with no happy …

A Treat from Druckers

By Belinda

Druckers, a Viennese patisserie in the Kingfisher Centre in Redditch, is a place Mum and I have had many delicious cups of coffee and treats. On this vacation we have had coffee there with several groups of friends, but getting there would be hard for Mum now and not something she would enjoy. However when I spotted her favourite Mille Feuille pastry when there with Rob today, it had to come home with us.

Her smile says it all! Mind you in actuality, the pastry came second to the double chocolate concoction we brought home a day or so ago! That was light and fluffy, but deeply delicious!




The Gift

By Belinda

Prayer: it is our nightly ritual; between the carers who come from Helping Hands to help Mum to bed, and Rob, who comes downstairs to put in eye drops and administer her inhaler; all of us ministering care in different ways.

I am sure that it was she who must have first taught me how--to pray, that is. And yet now, here I am beside her bed, and she ready for sleep first, each evening, at an hour that seems so early, but in sync with the rest of the elderly safely tucked in around the village every night.

We travel far and wide in our prayers; I saying the words, but she with me in every syllable, every name named. We pray showers of blessings on Rob for the blessing he is to Mum. He should be laden down by riches of love and warmth and health and strength if God answers even a fraction of our prayers.

We cover family here, one by one; and those in Canada, and special needs of which we are aware. And at the end each night, Mum, holding my hands, gives a squeeze and smiles wi…

Trees

By Belinda

On the gray day on which I took the photos posted yesterday, the real reason for the walk was that Rob wanted us to see some trees that you might not expect to find in Alvechurch--Californian Giant Redwoods. They are dotted around the village and nearby and were planted originally during the Victorian craze for these newly discovered trees in the 1850's.

Click the link: Village of the Giants for a story in
The Village Magazine that tells how they came to be here.

Luke 6:43 The Message (MSG)
Work the Words into Your Life43-45"You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. John 15:1-2 The Message (MSG)
John 15 The Vine and the Branches1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every b…

Around the Village

By Belinda

Last night on the eve of our last five precious days here, I realized that I didn't want to waste any of those moments tapping away on my laptop. It's so easy to be "here" but not fully present to the people I am with.

So here are just a few photographs taken last week while walking the village on a blustery, showery day! I know that people who take time to  read here ( and whom I appreciate so much) will understand and agree that this is how it should be.

Don't miss the pink blossom on the tree in one photo below. Even in the chilly weather it was heartening to see such early signs of spring here, along with some snowdrops in bloom and many crocuses shyly unfurling their buds.










An Afternoon with Friends

By Belinda 

Our friends, Chris, Eileen and Nel-Rose Ashton, drove down from Kendal in the Lake District--a 4 hour drive, to spend the afternoon with us today.

Eileen and I met as school girls when we were both 12, so that makes a friendship that has lasted almost 50 years.

The Ashtons long ago adopted Mum as their own "Omie," and make the journey down to see her several times a year, always bearing home made cakes and bags of other good things. It's a great comfort to know that they keep in touch and are such good friends to Rob and Mum.

They are also friends with many of our friends in Canada, such as Ron and Susan Stewart and Brian and Frances Furuya, having got to know them on their many visits over the years to us. In fact, this year we will be taking back Kendal Mint Cake for Ron Stewart from Chris. This special high energy food was taken to the top of Mount Everest in 1953 and Ron plans to take it on a skiing weekend.

Bruce is a favourite with the beautiful Nel-Rose…

The Roebuck

By Belinda

After an afternoon spent with memories of the past yesterday, it was time to go out for a meal with Stephen. We first tried the The Moat House Inn, where I went last July with Stephen when we spent the day walking the woods in the area. But alas only the bar was open at the early hour of 5.00 p.m. The woman we spoke to there directed us to several other options in the area--depending on whether we wanted to travel further afield for "cheap and cheerful" or closer if we didn't mind something a bit more pricey.

The Roebuck was the closest inn and restaurant and I had noticed it on the way to Stephen's home in Alcester (pronounced "All-ster.")

We tried it and found it open. It was obviously newly renovated to transform the old pub into an ultra modern restaurant.

We arrived without reservations and found that many tables close to a blazing fire, were already set aside, and we were taken further back into a colder section of the restaurant, but the sta…