Also check out my eBay auctions!

>26th DECEMBER  - Saturday


 Well, seems that was Christmas then........

Have taken Michael back home after an abortive attempt to have coffee at Costa in Bedworth  -  closed.  No matter, we came back and made our own Costa coffee with the Tassimo, seemples....

So, home alone again.  Wonder what's on QVC? Ah ladies fashion hour...maybe after that - ah, another fashion hour.  Sad witnessing the decline of this once and varied channel. Hey ho....

Think I'll do some tidying up.


Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

                                                                                               Christina Rossetti


 <----->


19th DECEMBER  - Saturday


 Busy day Friday with lots of last minute eBay orders.

Pain has been at record levels for some reason. Easing off a little now as Saturday begins and I'm off to Nuneaton with Michael.


 <----->



3rd DECEMBER  - Thursday

 

Well dear Diary,  where to begin? How do I explain no entries for such a long time?  Answer is I don't!   It would take longer than any diary entry could accommodate to excuse my absence.  Suffice it to say that I feel a little like David Bowie in 1971, the year I started teaching, going through 'changes'. Difficult though these months have been, I have not been alone.  Often seemingly distant and difficult to engage, nevertheless he has been by my side and so I sing with the hymnwriter:

Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me,
with me exalt his Name;
when in distress to him I called,
he to my rescue came.

The hosts of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all
who on his succour trust.

O make but trial of his love;
experience will decide
how blest are they, and only they
who in his truth confide.

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight;
your wants shall be his care.

For God preserves the souls of those
who on his truth depend;
to them and their posterity
his blessing shall descend.

                                                                                                                                         Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)


So I have been blessed, and guided.  I can now say with the Psalmist:

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.

                                                                                                                                                                                         Psalm 16  verse 6


Yes, I lost my way, wandered into some dark places, listened to the screaming pain from my body instead of listening to the Lord and waiting upon him with obedience and anticipation.

 <----->


27th SEPTEMBER  - SUNDAY

 

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name, the Rock on which I build,
My Shield and Hiding Place,
My never failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

By Thee my prayers acceptance gain,
Although with sin defiled;
Satan accuses me in vain,
And I am owned a child.

Jesus! my Shepherd, Husband, Friend,
O Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End,
Accept the praise I bring.

Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see Thee as Thou art,
I’ll praise Thee as I ought.

Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath,
And may the music of Thy Name
Refresh my soul in death!

                                                                                                                      John Newton (1725 - 1807)

 <----->

6th SEPTEMBER  - SUNDAY


 It's important for us to remember one of the Christian's most important lessons, that we should praise God as much in the sunshine as in the gloom. Easier said than done, I hear you say. Set aside some time, start on your knees or at least in a lowly and receptive position. Remind yourself of all that God has done for you, how blessed we are to be born where and when we are.


Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

Of his deliv'rance I will boast,
Till all that are distressed
From my example comfort take,
And charm their griefs to rest.

O magnify the Lord with me,
with me exalt his Name;
when in distress to him I called,
he to my rescue came.

The hosts of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all
who on his succour trust.

O make but trial of his love;
experience will decide
how blest are they, and only they
who in his truth confide.

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight;
your wants shall be his care.

For God preserves the souls of those
who on his truth depend;
to them and their posterity
his blessing shall descend.

                                                                                                                                             Nahum Tate (1652-1715) 

                                                                                                                                                       and Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)

 <----->


31st AUGUST  - BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY


 What an excellent day! Went to bed very late but was up in good time to kickstart the new day.  I was pleased to see the rain falling and grey skies as I surveyed the street from my bedroom window - it's so much easier to sparkle and shine when the weather is so inclement.

Michael arrived around ten and, after his catching up on his Scrabble, we set off for Costa Coffee in Bedworth.  What simple pleasure there is to be had, sipping delicious coffee in the warm and watching the world go by. Magical.

On to Malt Kiln Farm Shop for lunch - cheese omelette and chips.  Let me say here and now that I'm something of an authority on cheese omelettes and I can tell you that this was the very best I've ever had - not only tell you, I told the chef too, and the lady on the till and I would have told the manager if I could have found him!  Visit the Malt Kiln Farm Shop, you'll be glad you did!


The Lord is King! lift up thy voice,
O earth; and all ye heav’ns, rejoice!
From world to world the joy shall ring,
“The Lord omnipotent is King.”

The Lord is King! who then shall dare
Resist His will, distrust His care,
Or murmur at His wise decrees,
Or doubt His royal promises?

The Lord is King! Child of the dust,
The Judge of all the earth is just;
Holy and true are all His ways;
Let every creature speak His praise.

O when His wisdom can mistake,
His might decay, His love forsake,
Then may His children cease to sing,
“The Lord omnipotent is King!”

Alike pervaded by His eye,
All parts of His dominion lie;
This world of ours, and worlds unseen,
And thin the boundary between.

He reigns! ye saints, exalt your strains;
Your God is King, your Father reigns;
And He is at the Father’s side,
The Man of love, the Crucified.

Come, make your wants, your burdens known;
He will present them at the throne;
And angel bands are waiting there
His messages of love to bear.

One Lord, one empire, all secures;
He reigns, and life and death are yours:
Through earth and Heav’n shall ring,
“The Lord omnipotent is King!”

                                                                                                                  Josiah Conder (1789-1855)


<----->

28th AUGUST  - Friday


 My apologies dear diary for having neglected you for so long but in truth I don't feel that my thoughts and experiences of the last couple of weeks would make wholesome reading.

My brother has just finished penning another gem and, in my view, has excelled himself with this production:


WELCOME SLEEP

Once again the stairs ascending,
quality of time depending
on the thoughts my brain is sending
while I yearn for peaceful sleep.
Thoughts that set my mind in motion
with such troubled, deep emotion.
How, in vain I truly hope some
comfort in my mind will creep.
Pointless seeing sheep for counting
with potential problems mounting
like a cruel toxic fountain
slowly washing over me.
Yet these taunters ever near me
keeping me awake are merely
thoughts. And now I see it clearly:
I'm my own worst enemy.
Summoning a latent power
at this sleep-inducing hour,
senses wakened start to flower
focussed on the positive.
Good relations, friendly faces,
open spaces, fond embraces,
love and music form the basis
of this thankful life I live.
So begone, dark aberrations
causing slumber's deprivations.
Bring on mental motivations
driving useless thoughts away.
Grateful for this useful linking,
now in peaceful sleep I'm sinking.
When I wake I'll hold this thinking,
fresh to face a brand new day.

                                                                                          Mike Mills August 2015

<----->


                                                                          

10th AUGUST  - Monday


 My brother has another of his poems in the local paper:

GREY TURNS TO BLUE

My ride today began beneath

a grey and cloudy sky,

and yet the gentle breeze was warm

and everywhere was dry.

But after half an hour I had

a feeling of disdain;

I had to find a useful place

to shelter from the rain.

Then after waiting patiently

and back into my ride,

I thought quite analogically

on how these things applied

to those with pressing problems that

they think will never die.

I pray that love will find you and

the clouds will soon roll by.

                                                                                          Mike Mills August 2015


<----->

2nd AUGUST  - Sunday


1 TO the haven of thy breast,
O Son of man, I fly!
Be my refuge and my rest,
For O the storm is high!
Save me from the furious blast,
A covert from the tempest be!
Hide me, Jesus, till o'erpast
The storm of sin I see.

2 Welcome as the water-spring
To a dry, barren place,
O descend on me, and bring
Thy sweet refreshing grace;
O'er a parched and weary land
As a great rock extends its shade,
Hide me, Saviour, with thine hand,
And screen my naked head.

3 In the time of my distress
Thou hast my succour been,
In my utter helplessness
Restraining me from sin;
O how swiftly didst thou move
To save me in the trying hour!
Still protect me with thy love,
And shield me with thy power.

4 First and last in me perform
The work thou hast begun;
Be my shelter from the storm.
My shadow from the sun;
Weary, parched with thirst, and faint,
Till thou; the abiding Spirit breathe,
Every moment, Lord, I want
The merit of thy death.

5 Never shall I want it less,
When thou the gift hast given,
Filled me with thy righteousness,
And sealed the heir of heaven;
I shall hang upon my God,
Till I thy perfect glory see;
Till the sprinkling of thy blood
Shall speak me up to thee.

                                                                                                                                 Charles Wesley (18 December 1707 – 29 March 1788)

<----->

20th July  - Monday


 In bed early, around 2 a.m. and up at 7.30 a.m. in plenty of time to shower, shave and iron a shirt in readiness for my morning shift at the Bedworth Myton Hospice charity shop. A slow start but the morning picked up pace with the arrival of some regulars.

Popped to the shop afterwards to pick up some root vegetables for the chicken casserole planned for the evening.

Prepared the chicken and vegetables, made some stock, set the slow cooker to 'high' and bob's your uncle....

Spent the afternoon preparing eBay dial telephone conversion kits to fill orders and catch the First Class post.

<----->


18th July  - Saturday


 I'm sitting here in the fading evening sunlight looking at a picture of my Mother.   She would be so proud of me. Not only do I owe her my life, my breath, I owe her all the qualities she gave me and which by God's grace I have inherited, enjoyed and developed.  Two of my former students from the early 70's came to see me today.  It was as wonderful as it was overwhelming.  The great privilege of being allowed to explain, to share, to encourage, to enliven, to guide young lives as a teacher is impossible to describe.  To be reminded of those, the happiest days of my life, by students who have gone on to be strong and successful and who I haven't seen for many years is beyond a privilege.  What a blessed man I am. 

<----->


7th July  - Tuesday


A satisfyingly busy day, tainted as ever by the challenge of pain.  Doctor has put me on some new painkillers so we'll see what changes they bring.

Visitors today - Jordan, Mackenzie, Dan, Mike and Clive.  Completed and posted lots of eBay orders.

My brother has penned another poem:


GREECE -- BUT OH...THOSE SUMMER NIGHTS !

The situation's caused grown men to weep;
it must be hard for anyone to sleep,
not knowing how their future lives will be
in light of such a doomed economy.
For years it's clear that ignorance was bliss;
no focus on the future led to this.
What festered all this time to bring such need ?
- mismanagement, dishonesty and greed.
Corruption, tax evasion and pure lies
has now led to this ancient land's demise. 
The love of money is the major root
of many evils. Being destitute
can lead to heinous felonies in turn. 
Let's hope that future generations learn.

                                                                                                                          Mike Mills July 2015

<----->

1st July  - Wednesday


Lost my mac email at 2.00 this morning and spent ages trying to reset my password.  Went to bed an hour later frustrated and deflated.  A heavy cloud hung over my day today despite cheery people and glorious weather.  Booked a support call to Apple for 3 this afternoon. Call duly came, and, a very helpful Mario tried his best, still no joy.  Step up to the mark J A M E S - the most impressive online and phone support I've ever known - he had it sorted in a brace of shakes!!!  Happy happy day!

<----->

29th JUNE  - Monday


Another new week swings into action!  At the charity shop by 8.45 a.m. and what a busy morning it was  -  lots of customers buying  a wide variety of clothes, books and bric-a-brac. A text from Richard insisted I made an appointment at Specsavers - it's fifteen years since I had my eyes tested!  Daniel welcomed me, a man as buzzing and as animated as myself, so we had an immediate rapport. Appointment made for Thursday at 2.30 p.m. - watch this space!

<----->

23rd JUNE  - Tuesday


A much better day from the point of view of getting things done as Richard was hear mid-morning and helped sort lots and lots of things as he always seems able to, what a treasure. Ryan did some gardening around tea-time and a new friend, Kyle, also called in.  There are few downsides to this open house philosophy, I might mention a few tomorrow.

<----->

15th JUNE  - Monday


Set off at 10.45 for the university in order to be certain of being there by midday, reasoning based on my last experience.  Got to the Uni campus at 11.05, headed for the Social Sciences building.   Porter there had never heard of the meeting room and set about consulting his reams of lists. He made a phone call and sent me off to the Medical School building.  By this time I was in my third disabled parking space so left my car there and consulted with staff in the building who also had no idea where the room was.  After various enquiries I found myself in 'CTU' - by this time I felt very proud of myself that I hadn't turned round and headed off home at the second building.  Those present were an impressive and likeable group of professionals, and, just being in their company was therapeutic in itself!

<----->


13th JUNE  - Saturday

So, why the long silence Diary?  A mixture of reasons if I'm honest.  The usual interference to my life that daily pain brings, sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always a clenched fist in front of my face blocking the light and narrowing vistas. Then there's the oft-repeated challenge of coping without those who have died, often well before their time and therefore unexpectedly.  Nuances of word and thought, reminders about the house, emails sent and received - all combine to challenge the mood and threaten to claw at one's ankles and bring one down.

Today has been varied and unpredictable.  Enjoyed the usual time with my brother in Nuneaton but it was pretty much downhill from there. Too many emails, too many phone calls, too many visitors, too many loose ends. I think there will have to be some changes.

<----->


31st MAY  - SUNDAY

A quiet day at home with little distraction.  Did some washing and headed over to Michael's around 2. 

Fish fingers and herby new potatoes for tea, pretty inventive I thought.

Missing Mum and Liam, as is often the way on a Sunday.  Behoves us to make the most of those we love while they are still with us.

<----->

27th MAY  - Wednesday

Well, what a surprise - after picking the car up yesterday afternoon the garage rang at 9 this morning to say my car was ready!  OK, cost me £250 for a new fuel pump but hey ho, that's what having a car is all about!

Was great to be able to drive into Nuneaton rather then experience the torture of the bus!

eBay is going mad again and orders are pouring in thick and fast.

<----->

25th MAY  - Bank Holiday Monday

Car won't start - garage suggests a possible fuel starvation problem, towing to garage tomorrow so watch this space ;(.

Michael thought it would be a good idea to order an MGM taxi to Nuneaton which would accommodate the wheelchair without getting out of it - a great idea but very expensive, almost £40 there and back but definitely much better than the torture of the bus.

<----->

19th MAY  - Tuesday

Well today was colostomy day and I was up very early preparing for Clive to pick me up at 7.40 a.m.  Despite our early start, heavy traffic doubled our journey time and I was in the Endoscopy Unit by 8.20. Having donned my fetching hospital gown and sexy shorts with an opening and flap at the back I was ready for the fun to start.  One nurse gave up trying to administer sedation when she couldn't get the cannula into a vein - a second nurse arrived and did the job in 30 seconds! Shortly afterwards and I was ready for the KY Jelly and the probing.  Not an entirely unpleasant experience but probably not to be recommended.

Maria my nurse phoned Clive who arrived very quickly to pick me up and bring me home.  I decided to treat myself to breakfast so ventured for the first time to Chilvers Coton Craft Village where breakfast in Tricia's Cafe is £3.50 including toast and coffee - how wonderful this tasted not having eaten since 8 Sunday evening!

<----->

18th MAY  - Monday

Having an interesting day - no food and lots of sachets of stuff to take at prescribed intervals prior to a colonoscopy at 8.30 tomorrow morning. 

Well, it's now 8 o'clock Monday evening.  Haven't had anything to eat since 9 last night and only another litre of Sodium Picosulfate to drink in the next hour  -  what fun!

<----->

15th MAY  - Friday


Pushing through the suffocating pain has been the main challenge of this week. Another 'crossroads' in the pain journey characterised by questioning, fear, self-loathing and self-pity.  Not for too long though. The body is merely the home of the soul and really doesn't deserve such clamouring attention. What is actually happening is a further shift in the scoliosis and a worsening of the abdominal hernia.

OK, so I've indulged myself dear reader and I'll stop there.  Far above all this is the returning awareness of how blessed my life is. Memories, achievements and goals to come combine to revive me and get me buzzing again.

Friday is another 'Michael' day and, with him arriving at 5 o'clock I set about preparing a veritable feast - roast chicken, my own roast potatoes, cauliflower and a fruit pie made with my own short crust pastry.

<----->


12th MAY  - Tuesday


My brother shared another of his poems on Facebook today:


OKAY IN THEORY, BUT...

The government's been doing what we need
to right the chaos caused by bankers' greed.
The way to "stop the rot " just had to be
a painful term of harsh austerity.
And those who can should work to pay their way
instead of TAKING money every day.
Too many benefits cause idleness;
the complicated system was a mess.
But surely now it's time to draw a line;
what's hitting many people is a crime.
Yes, David Cameron could learn some facts
by meeting victims of the "bedroom tax":
those people who have,sadly,dreadful fears
of losing homesteads after many years.
Prime Minister, you ought to go and meet
those people who have nothing much to eat.
Try helping in a foodbank for a day
and find out what the public have to say.
All individuals mean more, you see
than numbers in the land's economy.
Thank God so many give unselfishly
in what you termed the "Big Society" !

                                                                                Mike Mills


<----->


8th MAY  - Friday


I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be able to put up with this pain.

<----->


7th MAY  - Thursday Election Day


ALONE

"When I'm alone", the words tripped off his tongue
As though to be alone were nothing strange.
"When I was young," he said; "when I was young..."

I thought of age, and loneliness, and change.
I thought how strange we grow when we're alone,
And how unlike the selves that meet and talk,
And blow the candles out, and say good night.

Alone... The word is life endured and known.
It is the stillness where our spirits walk
And all but inmost faith is overthrown.


Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1957)

<----->


4th MAY  - Bank Holiday Monday


My brother has penned another of his poems which was well received when he read it out in his local Polling Station!


FLOATING VOTING

It's here - it's the day of election ;
which party loves people the most ?
Their guidelines give such a selection;
the pledges of which they all boast.
Ideally I'd go for a mixture
of policies picked from each one;
a sweet bureaucratic elixir
I'd want to see acted upon.
And so to the booth I'm directed
with true resolution and calm,
and hope that the one I've selected
is one that will do the least harm !

                                                                                         Mike Mills May 2015


<----->


2nd MAY  - Saturday


Another day with Michael in Nuneaton, favourite seat in Costa, cheese on toast in Leonardo's and food shopping at the Co-op - simple things, yes, but they never pall.

Pain is more and more of an issue.  The combination of scoliosis and an abdominal hernia are combining to take their toll, especially as each day wears on.  By mid afternoon it becomes more and more difficult to stand or walk. Hey ho.  My glass is still half-full however, and I welcome the start of each new day. My spirit soars even if my body lags behind.

<----->

22nd APRIL  - Wednesday


Spoke to the most helpful Customer Services guy EVER today! Jordan at 02 clearly explained my options in changing my tariff or upgrading my phone/plan. Sound guy with confidence and clarity - he could do seminars in how to answer the phone and relate to the customer  -  a gold star and 10/10!!

eBay continues to be madly busy so better get down to some work and have my orders sent off.

<----->


19th APRIL  - SUNDAY


Praise to the Holiest in the height, 
and in the depth be praise; 
in all his words most wonderful, 
most sure in all his ways!

O loving wisdom of our God! 
When all was sin and shame, 
a second Adam to the fight 
and to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood, 
which did in Adam fail, 
should strive afresh against the foe, 
should strive, and should prevail;

and that the highest gift of grace 
should flesh and blood refine: 
God's presence and his very self, 
and essence all-divine.

O generous love! that he who smote 
in man for ma the foe, 
the double agony in Man 
for man should undergo.

And in the garden secretly, 
and on the cross on high, 
should teach his brethren, and inspire 
to suffer and to die.

Praise to the Holiest in the height, 
and in the depth be praise; 
in all his words most wonderful, 
most sure in all his ways!



                                                                                                                                       John Henry Newman (1801 - 1890)

<----->


10th APRIL  - Friday


 Michael and I visited the new B & M which opened yesterday on the site of the former Bedworth Homebase and WOW!!  What an amazing place, what a range of products, what happy and helpful staff!  Go take a look for yourselves - you'll be glad you did!

My brother has another of his poems in the Coventry Telegraph:


BEGONIA BIRTH

I've primed 30 double begonias,
each corm in its own plastic pot,
and seeing their daily progression
is giving me joy - quite a lot.

I've popped them all out in the garden
to grow in the sun and the rain.
and after a day of such nurture,
I'll bring the dear things in again.

There's six each of five vibrant colours,
spectacular when in full bloom;
what beauty is slowly emerging
from out of each cormerous womb.

Pink, orange, white, scarlet and yellow
will garnish my garden this year.
And then I'll thank God for creation
the day the blooms start to appear.

                                                                                                               Mike Mills, Radford, Coventry

<----->

6th APRIL  - Monday


An excellent day.  Michael and I left around 11 and first called in on Costa Coffee, Bedworth.  From here we visited The Bull's Head in Brinklow for lunch which was probably the best pub lunch I've ever had.

On to Malt Kiln Farm Shop for coffee and in order to purchase some fresh fruit.

Jordan continues with the stripping of the hall, stairs and landing prior to painting.

How Mum would have enjoyed today.

<----->


28th MARCH  - Saturday


My brother has another of his poems in today's Coventry Telegraph:


Daffodils

Like butterflies emerging from

their captive chrysalis,

or nature's form of origami art,

their faces seem to emanate

a sense of springtime bliss

that brings a subtle joy to many a heart.

The harbinger of warmer climes,

a hint of what's in store;

it doesn't fail to please and never will.

The summer lies before us and

this bloom stands at the door:

a gem of hope - the golden daffodil.

                                                                                                 Mike Mills March 2015

<-----> 

21st MARCH  - Saturday


This is the longest break I have ever taken in publishing my diary since I started in 2008.  Many reasons, not the least of which has been my preoccupation with pain and a little feeling sorry for myself.  Nobody wants to hear about that so I guess the silence isn't in any way regrettable.

There are so many people in my life who make it very much better and I'm going to try to stress the positive and be thankful for my blessings much more than I have been.

Today Michael and I set off for Nuneaton around 11.  Got our favourite seats in Costa Coffee and then went on to Leonardo's for lunch followed by a trip to Argos to pick up the new red toaster I'd ordered on eBay earlier in the week. Some food shopping at the Co-op then back home.

<-----> 

6th MARCH  - Friday


My brother has another poem in today's Coventry Telegraph:


Change by Degrees

I do like the way that the heat's quickly built

As long as you've got enough togs in your quilt.

The sheets and the bedroom may really be cold,

So just for a moment you have to be bold.

It only takes seconds for warmth to "kick in"

No matter how cold the sheets next to your skin.

I'm comfy and snug in this duvet of mine;

The one that I'm using is tog-rated nine.

Without central heating the cold is no laugh;

I'd have to resort to my twelve and a half.

But now I look forward to strong summer heat,

When no cover's needed, not even a sheet!

                                                                                 Mike Mills

<-----> 

5th MARCH  - Thursday


A steady afternoon at the charity shop followed by some tidying up at home and a visit of Vicki with some decoupage phones she wants checking and fitting with new cables.

Decided on bacon and egg for tea with beans and fried bread and how very delicious it was! ;)

I have some very good friends and the best brother in the world.

Just re-reading and enjoying a poem of Rosemary Cobham:


In Such Ways

You opened gates upon a thousand meadows;

You opened windows to the sun-bright air;

You taught me how to wait through transient shadows

And find a secret beauty even there.

Music you shared, and loveliness of words,

And gentle psalms, and laughter light as birds.


A thousand paths your intuition pointed,

Wherein I walked a thousand carefree days,

Untrammeled, unafraid, undisappointed,

Exploring song and sonnet, print and page.

And when chill night imprisoned me with bars,

You hung my heavens with a thousand stars.

<-----> 

 

2nd MARCH  - Monday


Completed my morning shift at Myton Hospice shop, the morning was characterised by a higher than usual number of donations which is a great way  to start the week.

The rest of the day was marked by a sense of joy at being alive, despite the challenges of pain.  Sang out loud for large parts of the afternoon despite strange looks from the dog.  The day ended around 2 a.m. with me listening again to the great affirmation of our faith and safety in God, 'It is Well with My Soul!':

It Is Well With My Soul


<----->  

1st MARCH  - SUNDAY

Another Sunday.  Picked up Michael in the afternoon and we headed over to see Pam.     We sat and chatted, had tea and biscuits and left around 4 p.m. I dropped Michael off and came home.  The house is very quiet and I guess this is something I'll never get used to.  Coming up for six years since Mum died but it just doesn't really get any easier.


1. GIVE me the faith which can remove
And sink the mountain to a plain;
Give me the child-like praying love,
Which longs to build thy house again;
Thy love let it my heart o'erpower,
And all my simple soul devour.

2.O that I was as heretofore

When first sent forth in Jesu’s Name.
I rush’d thro’ every open Door,
And cried to All, ‘Behold the Lamb!’
Seiz’d the poor trembling Slaves of Sin,
And forc’d the Outcasts to come in

3. I want an even strong desire,
I want a calmly-fervent zeal,
To save poor souls out of the fire,
To snatch them from the verge of hell,
And turn them to a pardoning God,
And quench the brands in Jesu's blood.

4. I would the precious time redeem,
And longer live for this alone,
To spend, and to be spent, for them
Who have not yet my Saviour known;
Fully on these my mission prove,
And only breathe, to breathe thy love.

5. My talents, gifts, and graces, Lord,
Into thy blessed hands receive;
And let me live to preach thy word,
And let me to thy glory live;
My every sacred moment spend
In publishing the sinner's friend.

6. Enlarge, inflame, and fill my heart
With boundless charity divine!
So shall I all my strength exert,
And love them with a zeal like thine;
And lead them to thy open side,
The sheep for whom their Shepherd died.

                                                                                                                                                                  Charles Wesley (18 December 1707 – 29 March 1788)

 <----->  


15th FEBRUARY  - SUNDAY


Stand up and bless the Lord
Ye people of His choice;
Stand up and bless the Lord your God
With heart and soul and voice.

Though high above all praise,
Above all blessing high,
Who would not fear His holy Name,
And laud and magnify?

O for the living flame
From His own altar brought,
To touch our lips, our minds inspire,
And wing to heaven our thought!

There, with benign regard,
Our hymns He deigns to hear;
Though unrevealed to mortal sense,
Our spirits feel Him near.

God is our Strength and Song,
And His salvation ours;
Then be His love in Christ proclaimed
With all our ransomed powers.

Stand up and bless the Lord;
The Lord your God adore;
Stand up and bless His glorious Name;
Henceforth for evermore.

                                                                                                                                                          James Montgomery (4 November 1771 – 30 April 1854)


<----->  

9th FEBRUARY  - Monday


A busy time at the charity shop this morning.

My brother has another poem in the Coventry Telegraph:


Changing Seasons

I'm looking forward to the days

When I can feel the sun's warm rays,

No longer needing scarf or cap or gloves,

The fresh smell of a new-mown lawn,

The daffodils once more reborn;

These springtime joys that everybody loves.

The days are getting longer now;

It's nature's way of telling how

The warmer days are not so far away.

The sky not plagued by many a cloud,

Our world with verdancy endowed;

The blue and green more welcome than the grey.

                                                                                                                            Mike Mills, Telfer Road, Coventry


<----->  

8th FEBRUARY  - SUNDAY


Real Property

Tell me about that harvest field. 
Oh! Fifty acres of living bread. 
The colour has painted itself in my heart; 
The form is patterned in my head. 

So now I take it everywhere, 
See it whenever I look round; 
Hear it growing through every sound, 
Know exactly the sound it makes,
Remembering, as one must all day, 
Under the pavement the live earth aches. 

Trees are at the farther end, 
Limes all full of the mumbling bee: 
So there must be a harvest field 
Whenever one thinks of a linden tree. 

A hedge is about it, very tall, 
Hazy and cool, and breathing sweet. 
Round paradise is such a wall, 
And all the day, in such a way, 
In paradise the wild birds call. 

You only need to close your eyes 
And go within your secret mind, 
And you'll be into paradise: 
I've learnt quite easily to find 
Some linden trees and drowsy bees, 
A tall sweet hedge with the corn behind. 

I will not have that harvest mown: 
I'll keep the corn and leave the bread. 
I've bought that field; it's now my own: 
I've fifty acres in my head. 
I take it as a dream to bed. 
I carry it about all day.... 

Sometimes when I have found a friend 
I give a blade of corn away.
                                                                                                                                      Harold Monro (14 March 1879 – 16 March 1932)


<----->    

31st JANUARY  - SUNDAY


Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord, who rises with healing in His wings:
When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.

In holy contemplation we sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation, and find it ever new.
Set free from present sorrow, we cheerfully can say,
Let the unknown tomorrow bring with it what it may.

It can bring with it nothing but He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing will clothe His people, too;
Beneath the spreading heavens, no creature but is fed;
And He Who feeds the ravens will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither their wonted fruit should bear,
Though all the field should wither, nor flocks nor herds be there;
Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice,
For while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice.

                                                                                                                                                              William Cowper (26 November 1731 - 25 April 1800)


<----->    

28th JANUARY  - Wednesday


Wednesday is always an excellent day and today was no exception.

Off to Nuneaton late morning my brother and I managed to secure our favourite window seat in Costa. I love the warmth and security of routine, not that the occasional break from the norm isn't sometimes enjoyable. Lunch in Cassandra's was followed by some food shopping at the Co-op.

We were both up till late, Michael playing online Scrabble and me absorbed in crime series on CBS Reality.

Yes, Wednesdays are revivers and reminders of how good life is.

Thinking about Mum a lot again today though, those times we both used to take her into Nuneaton.  Happy happy days.


<----->    


19th JANUARY  - Monday


My brother has another of his poems in the Coventry Telegraph:


EMERGENCY?

It's surely plain for all to see

That waiting times in A&E

Could be reduced without a fuss

If only those with serious

Conditions went, 'cos it's a crime

To waste the staff's most precious time.

Perhaps you can rely upon

The NHS line 111

Or you could go if pains persist

And see your local pharmacist.

The 'E' stands for emergency,

The staff work hard, their care is free.

Before deciding what to do,

Just think of those worse off than you.

                                                                                                       Mike Mills, January 2015


<----->    

18th JANUARY  - SUNDAY



Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark;
The lamp was burning dim
Before the sacred ark;
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild,
The priest of Israel, slept;
His watch the temple child,
The little Levite, kept;
And what from Eli’s sense was sealed
The Lord to Hannah’s son revealed.

O give me Samuel’s ear,
The open ear, O Lord,
Alive and quick to hear
Each whisper of Thy Word,
Like him to answer at Thy call,
And to obey Thee first of all.

O give me Samuel’s heart,
A lowly heart, that waits
Where in Thy house Thou art,
Or watches at Thy gates;
By day and night, a heart that still
Moves at the breathing of Thy will.

O give me Samuel’s mind,
A sweet unmurm’ring faith,
Obedient and resigned
To Thee in life and death,
That I may read with child like eyes
Truths that are hidden from the wise.

 

                                                                                                                James Drummond Burns (1823-1864)


<----->    

13th JANUARY  - Tuesday


  Another grey morning. Got up quite early to put on some washing. Spent the morning tidying the kitchen and completing eBay orders.  Took post down to the Co-op post office and did some shopping while there.

Rev. Carol Foyn called in to see me around 4 o'clock.  Had a long chat about the role of the church, about what to expect from Sunday services amongst other things.

Prepared gammon steak, potatoes and peas for dinner.  Not having eaten all day this was most welcome.

Jordan, Jake and Ryan all called in during the evening.



<----->    

8th JANUARY  - Thursday


  A very damp and grey morning.  Michael couldn't walk Speckle and left around 10 to brave the rain.  Thankfully the rain very soon eased off.

Richard arrived towards 11 and we spent some time chatting and filing and generally tidying.  What a massive help he is.

Drove to the charity shop for 2 p.m. Trade was steady and I headed for home at 4 p.m. Decided to do sausage and mash for dinner which, having had only a slice of toast all day, was very welcome indeed.

Towards midnight I was peckish again so out came the frying pan to make some pancakes which I enjoyed with lemon juice and sugar. ;)


<----->    

6th JANUARY  - Tuesday


  Spent a quiet morning at home attending to this and that.  Set off for Warwick University early afternoon, in plenty of time to negotiate the nightmares that are Gibbet Hill Road and the building site aka the university campus!  Struggled to find anywhere to park as the disabled spaces I'd identified on the map prior to setting out had cars in without disabled badges.  A very helpful guy, James Wheatley, showed me to some disabled spaces outside the Humanities block further along the road.  Problem solved, yes, but a fair walk to the Library, the meeting point. Hey ho...

It was well worth all the effort!  How I love spending time with students, and those in the small groups we were each addressing were 'top drawer' to use a snooker commentator's parlance! Smiling eyes, enthusiasm, warmth, inquisitiveness, integrity - what a total treat of an afternoon!

Making myself ham with mushy peas and dauphinoise potatoes - had nothing to eat all day so this teatime refuelling is very much required, not to say, deserved ;)


<----->    


5th JANUARY  - Monday


  A dull, grey morning with much higher temperatures than of late. Set off for the charity shop around 8.30.  Just Kathryn, Janice and myself this morning.  Quiet to begin with, then the pace picked up.

Bak home later to complete the eBay orders and a brief appearance from Ryan.  Posted out some orders in the afternoon and took Michael's year planner over to him - it arrived in this morning's post.

Enjoyed my evening home alone and went to bed around 2 a.m.

<----->    


1st JANUARY  - Thursday


 ...and so a New Year begins and before me stretch days, weeks and months in which to improve and challenge myself.  Putting pain in its place has to be one of my aims, as well as never lending out any money.  Hopefully, and by God's grace, I'll successfully manage these my goals.


!!!! Happy New Year everyone !!!!

<----->    






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 >25th DECEMBER  - Thursday, CHRISTMAS DAY


An excellent day, probably the best in a long time.  Very much enjoyed preparing Christmas dinner  -  turkey, sage & onion stuffing, cranberry & chestnut stuffing, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, sprouts, Christmas pudding and custard.  All timings worked well and the dinner was delicious - compliments to the chef, oh, that's me!  ;)

Had lots of presents, many of them from Richard, who had brought round a huge bag stuffed with beautifully wrapped packages!

So, here we go, Christmas presents 2014:

42" LG Smart TV from my wonderful brother, tin of shortbread biscuits, aftershave, heat changing mug, Thornton's chocolates, Tesco chocolates, letter rack, defrosting car key, voodoo speaker, book of muffin recipes, eBay book, MacFormat magazine, Lurcher 2015 calendar, card tool, red post office money box, jelly belly candle, olympic mug, wooden puzzle, mint creams, alarm clock, max/min thermometer, book of wrinklies puzzles, 5 port desktop charger, I.P. camera, huge union jack clock.

Phew! What can I say?  Totally overwhelmed.  Happy Christmas!!


<----->    


 21st DECEMBER  - SUNDAY


Well it's grumpy old me again I'm afraid ;(

Everything was going really well until the last verse of the last hymn.  I was singing my heart out, without reference to the hymn book as per, when I realised I wasn't entirely in unison with the rest of the congregation. The reason was plain to see on further examination.  Seems the editors of Singing the Faith have taken it upon themselves to meddle with carols as well as hymns.  A courtesy would be to append some note, such as 'altd.' after the original author's name. For the editors of this hymnbook that is, it seems, too much trouble, so they just steam ahead willy-nilly.  Here's why I was at variants to others in the congregation - the original verse is first in blue, and the 'new, improved' version follows in red:


For lo! the days are hastening on,

By prophet bards foretold,

When, with the ever-circling years,

Comes round the Age of Gold;

When peace shall over all the earth

Its ancient splendours fling,

And all the world give back the song

Which now the angels sing.

 

For, lo the days are hastening on,

To prophets shown of old,

When with the ever-circling years

Shall come the time foretold,

When the new heaven and earth shall own

The Prince of Peace their King,

And all the world repeat the song

Which now the angels sing.


 Just a couple more days and it will be the anniversary of my Mother's death. How did I stay so calm that Christmas morning, 23rd December 2009? How did I sit with her for half an hour after she had breathed her last?  I can't imagine, but I know I did.  How I miss her.  Every day I miss her.  But within me is so much of her, my faith, my beliefs, my confidence, my very soul.......

<----->    



14th DECEMBER  - SUNDAY


Another cold and quiet morning, but no frost.

Set off for church around 9.30 and took my place near the front.

Thankfully today I knew all the hymns, most of which had an advent theme.  All was going very well until we came to the last hymn, 'Hills of the North Rejoice'. For some reason better known to themselves, a group of writers in the 70's decided to 'update' the words of this hymn - 'butcher' would be a better word!  Below in blue are the original words and in red the pitiful offering of those who had the temerity to meddle with the inspired words of Charles Ernest Oakley from the 19th Century - sadly he wasn't around to ask when they committed the atrocity. 



Aside from this disappointment the service was excellent and the people of Ryton Methodist are the most genuine, warm and welcoming of any I have met in recent weeks in my quest to find a church.


<----->    


13th DECEMBER  - Saturday


A beautiful frosty morning with clear blue skies, perfect. 

Michael and I made our way to Nuneaton and were fortunate in being able to secure a comfy window seat again.  The whole place was buzzing, as was the Rope Walk and Nuneaton town centre. Christmas has suddenly seemed to be just around the corner after days and weeks of its seeming a long way off.

Jordan, Scott and Jake have been here at home most of the day doing some slabbing in the garden - quite a challenge in the freezing temperatures!

Spent the afternoon and evening at home, feeling cozy and safe in the warmth of the house while the temperature was falling outside.

Ironed a shirt for Church tomorrow just before heading off to bed around 1 a.m.

<----->


 6th DECEMBER  - Saturday


A beautiful frosty morning with clear blue skies, perfect. 

Michael and I set off for Nuneaton around 11 and managed to get a decent window seat despite Costa being quite busy.

Lunched at The Jailhouse and grabbed a few provisions before heading back.

I settled myself in for an afternoon of Snooker.

Jake came round mid-evening to show me his new bike - nice to see him after a long time.

<----->


30th NOVEMBER  - SUNDAY


Another Sunday and I found myself setting out for the morning service at Ryton Methodist Church. The building itself is warm and welcoming, as are those who worship there. The sadness for me this Sunday was that almost all the hymns were by Graham Kendrick, and, lovely guy though I'm sure he is, his hymns and their tunes just do not have the impact or doctrinal content that those of Wesley and Watts manage so effortlessly. Not being able to sing wholeheartedly with words and tunes known and loved is definitely a hindrance to worship for me. Again, the visiting speaker I'm sure meant well and did her best.

<----->

27th NOVEMBER  - Thursday


 A grey day from the start.  Waiting in for the Virgin Media man to install the Tivo box, a job that was quickly done when he arrived around 2 p.m.

Ryan has been in and out during the day and is, as ever, very helpful and upbeat.

<----->

23rd NOVEMBER  - SUNDAY


 As I had promised myself, I was up bright and early to get myself ready to go off to church.  I left at 9.30 for the service at 10, Ryton Methodist Church, Bulkington.  There were definitely more pluses than minuses.  Pews were still there, with a pulpit, hymn board and organ. It bode well and I wan't disappointed.  Out of the six hymns I knew four - not bad going. Very warm and welcoming people and the guest speaker did her best.  I think I could be happy here.

<----->

19th NOVEMBER  - Wednesday


 Well, what a day!  Got up at 7 to do some washing and it was upwards all the way from then on!

Michael and I set off for Nuneaton late morning, calling in on the Collect+ shop to drop off a couple of eBay parcels.  Managed to secure the comfy armchairs in the window at Costa Coffee and that clinched it!   ;)  Ordered lamb shank at Cassandra's restaurant which was even more delicious than usual.  Stepping back in time we did some food shopping at the Co-op, could the day get any more exciting? YES!  Michael had decided to buy my Christmas present early so we high-tailed it to Curry's where Raj was knowledgeable and attentive as we made the decision between a 42" Sony or LG - chose the LG. Chris Mullen, another impressive assistant with a ready smile and firm handshake, carried it out to the car - altogether an exciting and enjoyable experience.  Try Curry's Coventry Alvis Retail Park, you'll be glad you did!

My brother has another of his poems in this evening's Coventry Telegraph:


Ask Your Grandparents

Your legs are for walking and running and cycling,
That's what they are there for, you know what I mean?
So please try to move more, it's really important
Instead of just sitting in front of a screen.
The lifestyle you're choosing could damage your future,
So start being active for good times ahead.
Pedometers show you the steps you take daily;
They're good fun to use and they're easily read.
So challenge your mates to the most steps made daily,
Perhaps with a prize at the end of each week.
Remember you're using the legs nature gave you;
You'll start feeling great as you're reaching your peak!

                                                                                                                       Mike Mills,  November 2014

<----->

16th NOVEMBER  - SUNDAY


Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He’ll with a giant fight,
He will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.

                                                                                            John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)


Well, call me a grumpy old man, but the first edition of the new and revamped 'Songs of Praise' was broadcast on BBC 1 this afternoon, and, just as I'd feared, featured 'songs' whose words are as immediately forgettable as their tunes, with clapping, guitars, keyboards, hand waving.  I can tell you with some certainty that many folk of my generation will regret the passing of the previous format of the programme, with so many stirring traditional hymns with rousing tunes and solid doctrine. Yes, the world moves on, and progress is inevitable, but I can't help feeling that we're saying 'goodbye' to yet another staple of our lives and experience which is not being replaced by something better.

<----->


12th NOVEMBER  - Wednesday

Not a brilliant week so far having backed the car into a garden wall yesterday causing a fair amount of damage to the rear of the vehicle, hey ho.

Enjoyed the usual Wednesday delights with my brother and attended an exclusion meeting at Keresley Newland late afternoon.

Time to start thinking about Christmas presents.

<----->

9th NOVEMBER  - SUNDAY


Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.

Of His deliverance I will boast,
Till all that are distressed
From my example courage take
And soothe their griefs to rest.

O magnify the Lord with me,
With me exalt His Name;
When in distress to Him I called,
He to my rescue came.

Their drooping hearts were soon refreshed,
Who looked to Him for aid;
Desired success in every face,
A cheerful air displayed.

“Behold,” they say, “Behold the man
Whom providence relieved;
The man so dangerously beset,
So wondrously retrieved!”

The hosts of God encamp around
The dwellings of the just;
Deliverance He affords to all
Who on His succour trust.

O make but trial of His love;
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.

Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight;
Your wants shall be His care.

While hungry lions lack their prey,
The Lord will food provide
For such as put their trust in Him,
And see their needs supplied.

                                                                                                                 Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady (1698)

<----->

7th NOVEMBER  - Friday


The highlight of the day was a visit to the dentist to fix two teeth that have recently broken in half.  Despite four anaesthetic injections and forty five minutes in the chair, I was still happy and smiling throughout, I really don't mind dental visits at all.

Michael brought some delicious Marks & Spencer meals and sweets which were a delight.

<----->

4th NOVEMBER  - Tuesday


An early start and a busy day in prospect.  Not in any particular order but during the day I managed to:

Finish eBay orders and go to the Co-op Post Office to send them out. An area manager was visiting and I mentioned to her the frequent problem of disabled spaces being occupied by able-bodied drivers. She said she would refer it to Head Office.

Call in on Keresley Newland Primary School to collect the files needed for the impending exclusion hearing.

Visit Jean to fit a replacement bulb in her cooker hood.

Complete a two hour shift at Myton charity shop.

Having completed all these tasks I felt pretty pleased with myself as, if I'm honest, when I got up at 7 this morning I really didn't feel like doing any of them.

Cooked a steak slice, roast potatoes and peas for dinner - and very tasty it was too!

<----->


2nd NOVEMBER  - SUNDAY


Not feeling at all well this morning.  Decided to do some tidying up in my workroom nevertheless and, whilst I didn't feel any better physically, I was much happier with how things looked.

Went over to see Michael in the afternoon.

Both Ryan and Jordan called in early evening.

<----->


30th OCTOBER  - Thursday


Spent the morning at home tidying up and completing eBy orders.  Not though I felt much like it I set off for my charity shop shift at 12.30. Quite busy and some lovely customers as ever.

My brother has another of his poems in the local paper:


Practical Pigeons

The pigeons in Jubilee Crescent

Hold meetings each day on the green,

They congregate there in their dozens

With barely an inch in between.

I wonder what's on their agenda?

I bet the main topic is food.

With so many morsels discarded

To leave them would simply be rude.

So do what comes natural, birdies

And eat up what every day brings.

Live up to the name someone gave you,

Behaving like rodents with wings!

                                                                                                                                         Mike Mills, October 2014

<----->


29th OCTOBER  - Wednesday


A very satisfying day, despite the drizzle and grey skies. Michael and I headed off to Nuneaton, enjoyed coffee at Costa, lunch at The Jailhouse - where we met and chatted to a young history teacher and his family - and some food shopping at the Co-op.  

Upon our return Ryan appeared and worked with me on eBay orders before we drove over to the Bayton Road Co-op to catch the afternoon post.

Discovering some wonderful poems in the book I bought recently from Astley Book Farm.  Here's Rosemary Cobham at her best:


In Such Ways

You opened gates upon a thousand meadows;
You opened windows to the sun-bright air;
You taught me how to wait through transient shadows
And find a secret beauty even there.
Music you shared, and loveliness of words,
And gentle psalms, and laughter light as birds.

A thousand paths your intuition pointed,
Wherein I walked a thousand carefree days,
Untrammeled, unafraid, undisappointed,
Exploring song and sonnet, print and page.
And when chill night imprisoned me with bars,
You hung my heavens with a thousand stars.

<----->


27th OCTOBER  - Monday


This was never going to be an easy day, being the day of Liam's funeral.  The fates conspired to throw much more at me - my email stopped working and won't be sorted for another 24 hours.  Getting a refund on a useless printer I bought from eBay proved near impossible as I was given the runaround by several guys and even lied to by the commercial director. Finally the guy I'd spoken to originally, Jason, came good. He sorted the refund bringing one of the few rays of light in a dark day. I'll be writing to the Managing Directors to commend him and make them realize what a valuable team member they have.

It really is so very hard to believe that I shall never see Liam again this side of eternity.


Things men have made with wakened hands
are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing
for long years.
And for this reason, some old things are lovely

warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them.

                                                                                                                                                                    D H Lawrence (11 September 1885 – 2 March 1930)




<----->


26th OCTOBER  - SUNDAY


It's eight o'clock Sunday morning.  Thankfully 3 of my 25 clocks, being radio-controlled, are showing the right time. As for the other 22, sigh, they will just have to wait!  Why do we persist with this ridiculous and worthless activity?!

Getting ready to go out - and what a procedure, have ironed my shirt, had a shower and a shave, cleaned my shoes, sewn a missing button on my jacket, taken my meds, etc. etc.

Well, almost ready.  I'm determined to go out, but what would stop me is, firstly, the challenge of going out, as I would happily stay here indoors forever and never venture forth.  Secondly PAIN and pain with a capital P. Nevertheless I am almost ready.......

...and so I found myself, dear reader, in the car park of Durbar Avenue Evangelical Church at 10.45 Sunday morning. Oh with what a mix of emotions I sat in my car and surveyed the building.

Stepping inside and taking a seat I behold the scene. What changes would I see since I was last here some 30 years ago?  The pulpit has gone, and in its place we have a drum kit and an electric keyboard - not a fair swap imho, but not unexpected. More than fifty years of history engulfed me as I sat quietly in my pew. The service unfolded, with three 'songs' whose words appeared on a screen above the drum kit, words instantly forgettable and music to match. Sigh. Seeing Peter Wiles again for the first time in many years was the highlight of the morning. He was excellent. After the service we smiled and hugged - an electric moment, made the more wonderful by his words, '232 and 5th August,' - my door number in Lockhurst Lane and my birth date. Where to from here?  I ask myself.


<----->


23rd OCTOBER  - Friday


My travelling barber was here at 7.45 this morning to give me a much-needed haircut - I now feel somewhat lightheaded.

Richard arrived mid-morning to give his generous help with a stack of eBay orders.  He is a stalwart and a trooper.

Ryan stayed for dinner with us - the ever welcome spag bol followed by hot chocolate cake, ice cream and single Elmlea.

Still cannot believe that Liam is dead and in so many drawers and other places I see things that remind me of his having been here over the last ten years.

My brother has another of his poems in the local paper:


The Vital Cycle of Life

The trees change colour like chameleons

And summer green makes way for other hues:

Gold, brown, flame red and orange; nature's way

To make up for the verdancy they lose.

Responding to the sunlight's fading power

The canopies achieve a curtain call,

Resplendent colours tinting every leaf

Before their hold's relinquished and they fall.

And decomposing on the forest floor

Their nutrients are siphoned by the tree.

So death brings life; It's nature's miracle,

The age-old cycle that will always be.

                                                                                                       Mike Mills, October 2014


<----->

22nd OCTOBER  - Wednesday


Today was a much much better day, largely down to meeting new people.  Three cheers and a gold star for the staff of the O2 shop in Nuneaton!  Went in there as a typical grumpy old man because my recently acquired iPhone 4s just wouldn't perform as it should.  A smiling and enthusiastic Jenny welcomed my brother and myself, asked how she could help, and ushered us over to a table where she set to work on the problem. Obviously knowing what she was doing she soon very calmly and confidently brought up my O2 account on her computer screen, and, typing at the speed of light, began checking and adjusting settings - clever stuff!  Jenny spent a good while with her checking and adjusting and was joined by Kevin towards the last lap who also brought his expertise to bear on the problem.  Finally testing my phone for messages, internet and email and, with all three now working, the challenge was successfully completed! Well done Nuneaton O2 shop!

My encounter with Jenny and Kevin had lightened my mood, so, as I waited for my brother in the Rope Walk, I was asked if I wouldn't mind answering some survey questions by a smiling and lively young lady with a clipboard. and I duly obliged.  I think the purpose of the exercise was how we could pursue ways of saving me money and discovering if I could have chosen better ways of insuring my car, providing my internet etc.  Though I am genuinely happy with all I have in place, let me tell you that if I was looking to make a change,  the confident and happy Jayne could have persuaded me!  Whoever she is working for are blessed to have such a charming and engaging ambassador!


<----->


21st OCTOBER  - Tuesday


Richard didn't come over from Birmingham as it was very windy.

Everywhere I go in the house are reminders of Liam's having been here. It is so very hard to lose people unexpectedly with no preparation or time to become accustomed to their passing. Silly, silly boy - why oh why Liam?

Listing to some classical music on my newly discovered site 'Grooveshark' - www.grooveshark.com

Off to Keresley Newland Primary this afternoon to be around and meet parents as they visit their children's teachers for progress reports.

Busy, busy life....what will be the legacy I leave I wonder?

I'm seriously questioning a whole lot of things in my life.

<----->


20th OCTOBER  - Monday


Determined not to take my sadness to the charity shop with me I was, if anything, a little hyper and possibly even over the top.  Having said that, it was reasonably busy with some lovely customers.

Our new recruit, Myton Matt, sorted out my beleaguered iPhone for me and had it running as it should  -  happiness returned and transfigured my gloomy brow. He is going into the Police Force and is keen to be involved in all aspects of charity shop life. Excellent.

Came home to lots of post and a raft of eBay orders to complete - thankfully Ryan appeared around midday and sorted them.

Television soaps are in no way reflective of life in the real world - lots of men tonight in both Emmerdale and Coronation Street and not one of them with a Windsor knot in his tie.

In fact the ONLY guy wearing a Windsor knot in his tie tonight was a lawyer on '24 hours in Police Custody'!


ALONE


"When I'm alone"—the words tripped off his tongue
As though to be alone were nothing strange.
"When I was young," he said; "when I was young..."

I thought of age, and loneliness, and change.
I thought how strange we grow when we're alone,
And how unlike the selves that meet and talk,
And blow the candles out, and say good night.

Alone... The word is life endured and known.
It is the stillness where our spirits walk
And all but inmost faith is overthrown.



Siegfried Sassoon
 (1886-1967)


<----->


19th OCTOBER  - SUNDAY


Felt numb for pretty much the whole day.  Lots of phone calls and a visit from Richard and Peter improved the day although I felt as though I was in a bubble and couldn't easily relate to much of what was going on.

Went over to see Michael in the afternoon and called in at Ye Olde Hardware Shoppe on the way back to get some Jiffy envelopes and dog biscuits.

Ryan called in early evening after a day in the fields with his pit bike - oh the simplicity of youth...


<----->


18th OCTOBER  - Saturday


A very very sad day as I learned of the death of a good friend of mine, Liam Robinson.  Such an untimely death and such a shock. Nothing to say right now, just RIP Liam.


<----->

17th OCTOBER  - Friday


Not the best of weeks really, with stomach ache and diarrhoea a large part of the time.  Imodium proved to be pretty effective in the end, surplanting my trusty Pepto Bismol, hey ho  ;)

Today was busy by dint of eBay orders and shopping for tonight's dinner.  Used a cottage pie recipe from a friend of mine, Clive, and it was delicious, even if I say so myself!

The house can be a quiet and lonely place at times.  Speckle, my trusty Lurcher, is my constant companion though and understands my changing perceptions and sticks with me through thick and thin.


<----->


12th OCTOBER  - SUNDAY


So Sunday is here again.  Had a lie in for no special reason, it just happened  ;)

Took Jean to lunch at The Plough in Smorrall Lane - it's always spot on and great value for money - try it!

Went to Michael's to set up his wireless printer with his new Virgin network.

Called in at Ye Olde Hardware Shop for dog biscuits and Jiffy envelopes.


<----->


10th OCTOBER  - Friday


Not feeling very well and still have diarrhoea so it was with such relief that Richard came over in the morning and virtually single-handed coped with all the eBay orders.

Popped out to the Co-op Post Office late afternoon to take the pile of orders.  

Michael brought M & S ready meals and puds with him but I didn't feel like eating till quite a bit later in the evening.


<----->


5th OCTOBER  - Sunday



Believe not those who say

The upward path is smooth,

Lest thou shouldst stumble in the way

And faint before the truth.


It is the only road

Unto the realms of joy;

But he who seeks that blest abode

Must all his powers employ.


Bright hopes and pure delights

Upon his course may beam,

And there amid the sternest heights,

The sweetest flowerets gleam; --


On all her breezes borne

Earth yields no scents like those;

But he, that dares not grasp the thorn

Should never crave the rose.


Arm, arm thee for the fight!

Cast useless loads away:

Watch through the darkest hours of night;

Toil through the hottest day.


Crush pride into the dust,

Or thou must needs be slack;

And trample down rebellious lust,

Or it will hold thee back.


Seek not thy treasure here;

Waive pleasure and renown;

The World's dread scoff undaunted bear,

And face its deadliest frown.


To labour and to love,

To pardon and endure,

To lift thy heart to God above,

And keep thy conscience pure, --


Be this thy constant aim,

Thy hope and thy delight, --

What matters who should whisper blame,

Or who should scorn or slight?


If but thy God approve,

And if within thy breast,

Thou feel the comfort of his love,

The earnest of his rest?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Anne Brontë (1820-1849)



   
<----->


29th SEPTEMBER  - Monday


 Monday morning shift at the charity shop was fairly uneventful, apart from my mentioning that we could do with more volunteers and half an hour later a young man came in for an application form!  Excellent.

My brother has another poem in today's Telegraph:


In Praise of Bus Drivers

Forget about the negative and think about the pluses.

In praise of quite a special group, the drivers of our buses.

These men and women need our thanks, I think they're underrated.

They skilfully negotiate some really awkward places:

Cars badly parked and obstacles creating narrow spaces.

The monster bus at sixty feet is called 'articulated'.

Their drivers are so capable, they should be celebrated.

So thankyou, people-carriers, your job has such potential.

Transporting people every day, for many so essential.

                                                                                                                                        Mike Mills September 2014

<----->


26th SEPTEMBER  - Friday


  A busy and satisfying day despite the pain.  Visited Keresley Newland Primary School in the afternoon to meet with staff and students and with a representative from the LEA.  An excellent visit, especially when it came to interview students who were disarmingly honest and a joy to be with.  I feel sure that things are improving at the school.

Took post to the Co-op on the way home and did some food shopping.  Prepared roast beef, stuffing, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and cauliflower for dinner.

<----->


24th SEPTEMBER  - Wednesday


  A great Wednesday as Michael and I stuck to our usual schedule and enjoyed time in Nuneaton.

One of my customers called in early morning to pick up some refurbished phones.

Ryan stopped by mid-afternoon and demonstrated his usual vagueness as to why he wasn't in school.

<----->


21st SEPTEMBER  - SUNDAY


 It's Sunday again, always a difficult day.  Today is one of those Sundays which is more difficult than most for some reason. It will be four years this Christmas since Mum died.  How is it possible to miss her more and more as time passes?  Sometimes it seems that doing anything at all is pointless.  Sometimes I could lock all the doors of the house and never go out again. Yes, OK, I guess this does sound like an overdose of self-pity, but, however you view it, it's how I feel.


ALONE

 

"When I'm alone"—the words tripped off his tongue
As though to be alone were nothing strange.
"When I was young," he said; "when I was young..."

I thought of age, and loneliness, and change.
I thought how strange we grow when we're alone,
And how unlike the selves that meet and talk,
And blow the candles out, and say good night.

Alone... The word is life endured and known.
It is the stillness where our spirits walk
And all but inmost faith is overthrown.



Siegfried Sassoon
 (1886-1957)

<----->

16th SEPTEMBER  - Tuesday


Left home at 8.15 a.m. to pick up Jean and take her to the Health Centre on Stoney Stanton Road. Traffic was heavy but we arrived in good time for her 9.00 a.m. appointment.  Within twenty minutes we were on our way back, impressed with the efficiency of the place.

Richard arrived mid-morning and we set about completing eBay orders and bringing everything up to date. What would I do without him? Such a tremendous help.

<----->


14th SEPTEMBER  - SUNDAY


Lord of all being, throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Centre and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!

Sun of our life, Thy quickening ray,
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, Thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.

Our midnight is Thy smile withdrawn;
Our noontide is Thy gracious dawn;
Our rainbow arch, Thy mercy’s sign;
All, save the clouds of sin, are Thine.

Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
Before Thy ever blazing throne
We ask no lustre of our own.

Grant us Thy truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that burn for Thee,
Till all Thy living altars claim
One holy light, one heavenly flame.
                                                                                                          Oliver W. Holmes, Snr  1848

<----->


10th SEPTEMBER - Wednesday


An excellent Wednesday!  Michael and I enjoyed our usual activities in Nuneaton, the highlight of which again for me was lamb shank at Cassandra's restaurant!

Completed some eBay orders and took them down to the Co-op Post Office.

Early evening called in to see Jean who's had some work done on her garden which looks wonderful.

Wednesday is the best day of the week.

<----->


8th SEPTEMBER - Monday


A busy day!  Did my morning shift at Myton then went home to start on eBay orders - the phone hardly stopped ringing so by 2.00 p.m. I was ready for a break and took what post I had down to the Co-op shop in Bayton Road. The store has excellent disabled parking, a cash point and a Post Office together with happy staff!  Smiling Jordan is tops but told me he will soon be leaving to work full-time as an end of life carer. Such news is no surprise as his caring nature has been obvious as he's served me many times.  I wish him well.

Back home to more eBay orders but a cup of tea and some chocolate was the next item on my agenda!


<----->


 7th SEPTEMBER - SUNDAY


A lovely sunny morning with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.  Michael arrived around 10 and took Speckle for a walk.  We picked up Pam and Beryl at 11.30 and headed off to The Malt Kiln Farm Shop where we had a table booked for Sunday lunch which was delicious. We all did some shopping before driving home. A perfect day.

<----->


5th SEPTEMBER - Friday


A busy day. Richard arrived late morning and we set about unpacking the boxes of trimphones and spares that Peter had sent.

Took my car for its MOT in the afternoon. It failed. Though the repairs needed are fairly minor the cost certainly won't be!

<----->


 1st SEPTEMBER - Monday


Conducted a friend's funeral in the afternoon at The Heart of England Crematorium in Nuneaton.  Got home in a reflective mood, and, while chatting to Richard on Skype, he took a screen shot which he sent on to me later.  I love Speckle's curious look!




Went down to the Bayton Road Co-op Post Office in the afternoon with some eBay items and did a little food shopping at the same time.

<----->


29th AUGUST - Friday


A day spent at home.  Completed eBay orders and took them down to the Co-op Post Office. Prepared spaghetti bolognese for dinner for Michael and myself with bramley apple crumble to follow.

<----->


25th AUGUST - BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY


Michael and I picked up Pam and Beryl at 11.30 and headed off to Moat Kiln Farm Shop where we enjoyed lunch, coffee and some shopping.  The place really does have great appeal and both our sisters found plenty to purchase. Certainly a very enjoyable visit.

<----->

19th AUGUST - Tuesday


Richard arrived late morning and, as I was overwhelmed with orders, it was such a relief to see him. We worked together through what seemed to be a mountain of orders. 

After Richard headed off back to Birmingham I drove down to the Bayton Road Post Office to post envelopes and parcels. There were three people in front of me in the queue and I had a long and painful wait, so much so that I asked for a chair and the store manager obliged.

Jordan and Mackienzie invited me round for an evening meal and we had chicken curry and rice, very nice.

<----->


17th AUGUST - SUNDAY


Hark, my soul, it is the Lord!
’Tis thy Saviour, hear His Word;
Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee,
“Say, poor, sinner, lovest thou Me?”

“I delivered thee when bound,
And, when bleeding, healed thy wound;
Sought thee wandering, set thee right,
Turned thy darkness into light.

“Can a woman’s tender care
Cease toward the child she bare?
Yes, she may forgetful be,
Yet will I remember thee.

“Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above,
Deeper than the depths beneath,
Free and faithful, strong as death.

“Thou shalt see My glory soon,
When the work of grace is done;
Partner of My throne shalt be:
Say, poor sinner, lovest thou Me?”

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love Thee, and adore:
O for grace to love Thee more!
                                                                                                    William Cowper (1768) 


<----->

12th AUGUST - Tuesday


Richard arrived late morning and helped dig me out of the hole that is my eBay orders!

My brother has another of his poems in today's Coventry Telegraph:


MEANINGFUL DAYS

Today I passed on foot through Smashed Glass Alley,
the shattered shards there sparkling in the sun.
Reflections of the youthful perpetrators,
the broken bottles just their bit of fun.
And broken dreams lie scattered on life's pathways
of many in the golden age of youth.
Their full potential languishing for ever,
their sweet uniqueness hidden from the truth.
It's surely true that everyone is special,
like winter snowflakes never two the same.
So let's pursue truth, wisdom and compassion;
more meaningful than fleeting wealth and fame.

                                                                                       Mike Mills

<----->


10th AUGUST - SUNDAY


At the risk of repeating myself and of boring my audience, it really is hard to explain quite how wearing pain is. Hey ho.  Another Sunday hoves into view and presents its unsullied pages to my waiting pen.


O happy band of pilgrims, 
if onward ye will tread
with Jesus as your fellow
to Jesus as your Head!

O happy, if ye labour
as Jesus did for men:
O happy, if ye hunger
as Jesus hungered then!

The Cross that Jesus carried
he carried as your due:
the Crown that Jesus weareth
he weareth it for you.

The faith by which ye see him,
the hope, in which ye yearn,
the love that through all troubles
to him alone will turn,--

What are they, but vaunt-couriers
to lead you to his sight?
What are they, save the effluence
of uncreated Light?

The trials that beset you,
the sorrows ye endure,
the manifold temptations
that Death alone can cure,--

What are they, but his jewels
of right celestial worth?
What are they but the ladder,
set up to heaven on earth?

O happy band of pilgrims,
look upward to the skies,
where such a light affliction
shall win so great a prize.

                                                                                          John Mason Neale, 1862

<----->

9th AUGUST - Saturday


An excellent day, blue skies, fluffy white clouds and a gentle breeze. No matter how many times Michael and I go to Nuneaton and Costa for coffee it never loses its appeal and its satisfaction never dims.

Ryan called in late afternoon for a short while but other than that spent the rest of the day alone.

Hard to describe how much I miss my Mother, even after these three years there are days, and especially nights, when the pain is almost unbearable.

<----->


5th AUGUST - Tuesday - My Birthday 


A really good day, apart from the disappointment of Richard not being able to come over as he was in too much pain.

One of my new phone friends on eBay, Jonathan, sent me some lovely bars of chocolate.

I spent the day tidying up until I drove over to Staples early evening to buy Michael's present - I bought him a new office chair, carried to the car for me by Chris. Michael was very pleased with it.  He suggested we go into town, to Pizza Express for the first time. A very nice place and we enjoyed our visit.

<----->


4th AUGUST - Monday 


Completed my morning shift at the charity shop and arrived back home the same time as Richard had just pulled into the drive.  Together we tackled a mass of eBay orders much to my relief.

Jordan called in straight from work and we went round to Jean's to fit a new cooker bulb.  Ryan mowed the lawns back and front.

<----->


3rd AUGUST - SUNDAY 

INVICTUS
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul. 
                                                                                                      William Ernest Henley

<----->

 

2nd AUGUST - Saturday 


Something of a grey morning when Michael and I headed off to Nuneaton to pursue our usual activities.

Spent the afternoon at home doing some tidying.  Ryan popped in during the evening.

<----->


28th JULY - Monday 


Not a good day.  Didn't feel too well when I got up and, half an hour into my charity shop shift I began too feel worse, clammy, dizzy, sick etc. Cathryn insisted I go home, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how I managed to drive home at all.  Lay down on the settee for an hour or so and began to feel a little better but still not 100%.  Had a quiet rest of the day with visits from Ryan, Jordan and Jean.

<----->


27th JULY - SUNDAY 


Another lovely day. Spent the morning at home and did some tidying and washing.

Popped over to see Michael in the afternoon and on my way back called at Ye Olde Hardware Shoppe in Wheelwright Lane before heading off to my favourite food shop, the Co-op in Bayton Road. At the checkout smiling Ross bagged my purchases and took my money.

<----->


21st JULY - Tuesday 


Not feeling too good today so having a quiet day at home.

<----->


20th JULY - SUNDAY 


This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.
                                                                                                  Maltbie D. Babcock 1901

<----->

16th JULY - Wednesday 


We followed our familiar routine with coffee at Costa, shopping at the Co-op and lunch at The Griffin.

Ryan called in late afternoon followed by Jordan and then Charlotte who came to pick up the printing I'd done for her dad.

<----->


13th JULY - SUNDAY 

Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and grey,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!
<----->

6th JULY - SUNDAY 

Summer suns are glowing over land and sea;
Happy light is flowing, bountiful and free;
Everything rejoices in the mellow rays;
Earth’s ten thousand voices swell the psalm of praise.

God’s free mercy streameth over all the world,
And His banner gleameth, by His church unfurled;
Broad and deep and glorious, as the heaven above,
Shines in might victorious His eternal love.

Lord, upon our blindness Thy pure radiance pour;
For Thy lovingkindness we would love Thee more;
And when clouds are drifting dark across the sky,
Then, the veil uplifting, Father, be Thou nigh.

We will never doubt Thee, though Thou veil Thy light;
Life is dark without Thee, death with Thee is bright;
Light of light, shine o’er us on our pilgrim way;
Go Thou still before us to the endless day.
                                                                                                                                                                               William W. How(13 December 1823 – 10 August 1897)

<----->

1st JULY - Tuesday 


An excellent day.  Richard arrived mid-morning and we spent some time drinking tea in the garden, sitting on the bench under the apple tree and chatting.  Very relaxing and reassuring.

My talented brother has another of his poems in the local paper:

Quieter Please

Today down country lanes the birds were singing
Just like at twentieth century's beginning,
Before the constant drone of man-made noise
From aeroplanes and traffic that annoys.
The earth knew peace for millions of years
Before our clever travel plan appears.
And though so many must feel justly proud,
I wish that transport wasn't quite so loud!

                                                                                                    Mike Mills, October 2014

<----->

29th JUNE - Sunday


"Just A Song At Twilight"

Once in the dear dead days beyond recall, 
When on the world the mists began to fall, 
Out of the dreams that rose in happy throng 
Low to our hearts Love sang an old sweet song; 
And in the dusk where fell the firelight gleam, 
Softly it wove itself into our dream. 

Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low, 
And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go, 
Tho' the heart be weary, sad the day and long, 
Still to us at twilight comes Love's old song, 
comes Love's old sweet song. 

Even today we hear Love's song of yore, 
Deep in our hearts it dwells forevermore. 
Footsteps may falter, weary grow the way, 
Still we can hear it at the close of day. 
So till the end, when life's dim shadows fall, 
Love will be found the sweetest song of all. 

Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low, 
And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go, 
Tho' the heart be weary, sad the day and long, 
Still to us at twilight comes Love's old song, 
comes Love's old sweet song.

<----->

 26th JUNE - Thursday


An excellent day! Spent the morning at home tidying up and in the afternoon set off to the charity shop which again was very busy.  Joey came in with his mum and we had a chat, good to see him again.

Both Ryan and Jordan called round during the evening. Started raining heavily so perhaps our few days of summer are over for now.

<----->


 25th JUNE - Wednesday


Is there anything more cute than my dog Speckle, a Lurcher, asleep in her chair in her most ladylike pose! She adds so much to my life and I love her very much.



Michael and I kept to our usual Wednesday structure and headed off into Nuneaton around 11.30 a.m.  I had a Governors meeting at 2.30 so we ate at The Jail House to make sure we were back in time.  Another Governors meeting was scheduled for 5.30 so I was able to pop home for tea before the second of the day's meetings.  Busy, busy, busy! 

Ryan came over late afternoon, mowed the back lawn and planted rows of various vegetable and salad seeds I'd bought.

Bacon sandwiches for supper were very enjoyable.  An excellent day.

<----->


22nd JUNE - SUNDAY


City of God, how broad and far

Outspread thy walls sublime!

The true thy chartered freemen are

Of every age and clime.

One holy Church, one army strong;

One steadfast, high intent;

One working band, one harvest song,

One King omnipotent.

How purely hath thy speech come down

From man’s primeval youth!

How grandly hath thine empire grown

Of freedom, love and truth!

How gleam thy watch fires through the night

With never fainting ray!

How rise thy towers, serene and bright,

To meet the dawning day!

In vain the surge’s angry shock,

In vain the drifting sands;

Unharmed upon the eternal Rock

The eternal City stands.

                                                                                                             Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784)

<----->


19th JUNE - Thursday


Not a very good week, hence a few days diary missing.  Managed my charity shop shifts Monday and Thursday with some difficulty.  Nobody knows how close I am to giving up, but as Claire Weekes says in her book 'Self Help For Your Nerves', 'it will pass'. This is the phrase that got me through 3 nervous breakdowns and it hasn't failed me yet so I'm hanging on to it until new green pastures appear.

<----->


15th JUNE - SUNDAY


Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,

Which before the cross we spend,

Life and health and peace possessing

From the sinner’s dying Friend.

Here I stay, forever viewing

Mercy streaming in His blood;

Precious drops, my soul bedewing,

Plead and claim my peace with God.

Truly blessèd is the station,

Low before His cross to lie,

While I see divine compassion

Floating in His languid eye.

Here we find our hope of Heaven,

While upon the Lamb we gaze;

Loving much, and much forgiven,

Let our hearts o’erflow with praise.

Oh, that, near the cross abiding,

We may to the Saviour cleave,

Naught with Him our hearts dividing,

All for Him content to leave!

Lord, in ceaseless contemplation

Fix our hearts and eyes on Thee,

Till we taste Thy full salvation,

And unveiled Thy glories see.

For Thy sorrows we adore Thee,

For the griefs that wrought our peace;

Gracious Saviour, we implore Thee,

In our hearts Thy love increase.

                                                                                                                                                     James Allen (1734-1804), and W. W. Shirley (1725-1786)


<----->

14th JUNE - Saturday


Secured our favourite place in Costa, had lunch in the Jail House and did the usual shopping at the Co-op  -  is there no end to the excitement!?  ;)


<----->

13th JUNE - Friday


Spent the day at home working on eBay orders and decided on sausage, egg, chips and beans for dinner with Jordan joining Michael and myself at the dining table.


<----->


12th JUNE - Thursday


A busy day with two visits to Keresley Newland Primary School and an afternoon shift at the charity shop.


<----->

11th JUNE - Wednesday


Michael and I enjoyed our usual visit to Nuneaton, having lunch at The Griffin on the way home.


<----->

10th JUNE - Tuesday


Pain continues to prevent fulfilment of even quite straightforward tasks.


<----->

9th JUNE - Monday


Not feeling too good so stayed at home and did some quiet cleaning and tidying.


<----->

8th JUNE - SUNDAY


Come down, O Love divine, 
Seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near, 
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn, 
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming; 
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
My outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing:
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the power of human telling; 
For none can guess its grace,
Till he become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

                                                                                                                                           Bianco da Siena, d. 1434
                                                                                                                                                                           trans. Richard Frederick Littledale, Jr., 1867


<----->

7th JUNE - Saturday


The weather forecast was right and Saturday morning it was tipping down with rain.  Michael and I headed of to the Rope Walk resigning ourselves to slumming it in BHS again for lunch. We decided, however, to stay at Costa and order a toasted sandwich rather than waste money on a BHS offering. 

BGT was something of a disappointment, even though I'd correctly predicted the winners it didn't make me at all happy to be proved right.


<----->


6th JUNE - Friday


Terry my mobile barber was here on time, early in fact, at 7.50 a.m. Such a relief finally to get a haircut after having to cancel a previous appointment!

Russell the gardener arrived around 10 and took out all the winter-flowering pansies in the front borders in readiness for the salvias, alyssum and lobelia which will provide a red, white and blue theme.

Richard arrived late morning after grid lock on the M6.  After completing a few eBay orders he went into Bedworth to do some shopping.

Decided against spag bol for dinner and went for a salad with new potatoes instead.  A great success.


<----->


5th JUNE - Thursday


After spending the morning at home my afternoon shift at the shop was busy and satisfying.

<----->


4th JUNE - Wednesday


Our usual visit to Nuneaton did not disappoint. We landed a good location inside Costa Coffee, it being not quite warm enough yet to sit outside.


<----->


3rd JUNE - Tuesday


Richard arrived mid-morning and we set about catching up with the many eBay orders outstanding.


<----->


2nd JUNE - Monday


Enjoyed a busy time at the charity shop in the morning and caught up with eBay orders in the afternoon.


<----->


1st JUNE - SUNDAY

Stand up and bless the Lord

Ye people of His choice;

Stand up and bless the Lord your God

With heart and soul and voice.

Though high above all praise,

Above all blessing high,

Who would not fear His holy Name,

And laud and magnify?

O for the living flame

From His own altar brought,

To touch our lips, our minds inspire,

And wing to heaven our thought!

There, with benign regard,

Our hymns He deigns to hear;

Though unrevealed to mortal sense,

Our spirits feel Him near.

God is our Strength and Song,

And His salvation ours;

Then be His love in Christ proclaimed

With all our ransomed powers.

Stand up and bless the Lord;

The Lord your God adore;

Stand up and bless His glorious Name;

Henceforth forevermore.

                                                                                                                                                             James Montgomery (4 November 1771 – 30 April 1854)

<----->


31st MAY - Saturday

We enjoyed our usual trip into Nuneaton, coffee at Costa and lunch at Leonardo's.  Shopping at the Co-op brought our trip to a close.


<----->


30th MAY - Friday

Did steak pie, potatoes and cauliflower for Michael and myself for dinner.

<----->


29th MAY - Thursday

Not feeling very well today so decided against going to the shop.  Spent the day quietly at home.

<----->


28th MAY - Wednesday

Another Nuneaton excursion occupied Michael and myself.  Our day took on much the usual agenda and we enjoyed lunch at The Griffin on our way back. 

<----->


27th MAY - Tuesday

Richard arrived mid-morning and we worked through a whole heap of eBay orders together.

<----->


26th MAY - Bank Holiday Monday

An excellent day!  It began with a visit to our local Bedworth Costa before a drive over to The Malt Kiln Farm Shop for lunch and the purchase of a few provisions.

                                                                                                                    

<----->

25th MAY - SUNDAY


Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,

Unuttered or expressed;

The motion of a hidden fire

That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,

The falling of a tear

The upward glancing of an eye,

When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech

That infant lips can try;

Prayer, the sublimest strains

That reach The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,

The Christian’s native air,

His watchword at the gates of death;

He enters Heav’n with prayer.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,

Returning from his ways,

While angels in their songs rejoice

And cry, “Behold, he prays!”

The saints in prayer appear as one

In word, in deed, and mind,

While with the Father and the Son

Sweet fellowship they find.

No prayer is made by man alone

The Holy Spirit pleads,

And Jesus, on th’eternal throne,

For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by Whom we come to God,

The Life, the Truth, the Way,

The path of prayer Thyself hast trod:

Lord, teach us how to pray.

                                                                                                                 James Montgomery (1771 - 1854)


 <----->

24th MAY - Saturday

Our usual Saturday routine prevailed as Michael and I set off for Nuneaton late morning.  Since it was raining our activites were confined to the Rope Walk, where we enjoyed coffee at Costa and endured another less than impressive lunchtime visit to BHS for what they loosely describe as food.

                                                                                                                    

<----->

23rd MAY - Friday

Richard arrived mid-morning and worked harder than ever on eBay orders. Perfect.

Prepared sausage and mash with rice pudding for Michael and myself for dinner.

                                                                                                                    

<----->

22nd MAY - Thursday

 Michael and I enjoyed our usual sojourn in Nuneaton and then home to relax and chat

Didn't feel too well late afternoon/early evening. It would be so nice to have just one day without pain.

                                                                                                                    

<----->


21st MAY - Wednesday

 Michael and I enjoyed our usual sojourn in Nuneaton and then home to relax and chat

Didn't feel too well late afternoon/early evening. It would be so nice to have just one day without pain.

                                                                                                                    

<----->


20th MAY - Tuesday

 Richard arrived mid-morning and was the angel sent from heaven as he dug into producing volumes of eBay line cords and generally sorting out the 283 chaos!  What would I do without him?

Bobbie, Andy and Carwyn dropped by in the afternoon and it was lovely to see them after such a long time.  They all seem buoyant and well.

Ryan came round after tea and did some more to the garden - he is such a committed hard worker.

Jordan popped in later in the evening - his bike seems to require some more attention and expense.

                                                                                                                    

<----->


19th MAY - Monday

 An excellent start to the week.  The charity shop was quite busy and as usual afforded the opportunity to sell interesting items and meet interesting people.  Met up with a friend in town for coffee in the afternoon.

Spent the later part of the afternoon on domestic chores.

                                                                                                                    

<----->


18th MAY - SUNDAY


Real Property

Tell me about that harvest field. 

Oh! Fifty acres of living bread. 

The colour has painted itself in my heart; 

The form is patterned in my head. 


So now I take it everywhere, 

See it whenever I look round; 

Hear it growing through every sound, 

Know exactly the sound it makes — 

Remembering, as one must all day, 

Under the pavement the live earth aches. 


Trees are at the farther end, 

Limes all full of the mumbling bee: 

So there must be a harvest field 

Whenever one thinks of a linden tree. 


A hedge is about it, very tall, 

Hazy and cool, and breathing sweet. 

Round paradise is such a wall, 

And all the day, in such a way, 

In paradise the wild birds call. 


You only need to close your eyes 

And go within your secret mind, 

And you'll be into paradise: 

I've learnt quite easily to find 

Some linden trees and drowsy bees, 

A tall sweet hedge with the corn behind. 


I will not have that harvest mown: 

I'll keep the corn and leave the bread. 

I've bought that field; it's now my own: 

I've fifty acres in my head. 

I take it as a dream to bed. 

I carry it about all day.... 


Sometimes when I have found a friend 

I give a blade of corn away.

                                                                                                                             Harold Monro (14 March 1879 – 16 March 1932)


<----->


17th MAY - Saturday


Into Nuneaton with Michael for our usual Saturday assignations.


<----->


16th MAY - Friday


Another eBay morning.  Did some tidying up and some ironing before popping out to drop off a parcel in Newcomen Road and buying what I needed for dinner.

Prepared minced beef and onions, new potatoes and cauliflower for dinner.


<----->


15th MAY - Thursday


eBay orders in the morning and the charity shop in the afternoon.  A very satisfying and enjoyable day.

Cooked myself a meal in the evening.  How nice it would be to have someone cook for me!  Hey ho...


<----->

14th MAY - Wednesday


Michael and I enjoyed our usual trip to Nuneaton and began our working through the starter and sweets menu at The Griffin - both were excellent!


<----->

13th MAY - Tuesday


A great day as Richard arrived mid-morning and boy did he get lots done! We did do a few eBay orders as I'd dealt with most of them yesterday. I don't think I've ever seen Richard work harder and when he'd left the whole place looked and felt different.  He installed my 'NowTV' box which is just fabulous!

Jean came round early evening so I could do some typing and printing for her.


<----->

12th MAY - Monday


On time at the charity shop where Lynn was there to meet me as Cathryn has the week off. A very satisfying morning, reasonably busy despite the rain.

Did some eBay orders in the afternoon and went to The Cottage in the evening to meet up with a friend for a meal.


<----->


11th MAY - Sunday


Through all the changing scenes of life,
in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still
my heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me,
with me exalt his Name;
when in distress to him I called,
he to my rescue came.

The hosts of God encamp around
the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all
who on his succour trust.

O make but trial of his love;
experience will decide
how blest are they, and only they
who in his truth confide.

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight;
your wants shall be his care.

For God preserves the souls of those
who on his truth depend;
to them and their posterity
his blessing shall descend.

                                                                                                                                                        Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659-1726)

<----->


10th MAY - Saturday


Michael and I enjoyed our usual visit to Nuneaton and had lunch at The Jail House again. Excellent.


<----->

9th MAY - Friday



I really enjoyed today as I knew I was going to be home all day and also cooking for Michael and myself.  Do you know, I could stay here in this house day after day, not going out, and it wouldn't bother me one little bit.

Decided to prepare spag. bol. for dinner with apple pie and ice cream. I love the moment when Michael arrives on his bike and Speckle, my Lurcher, gets all excited.

We enjoyed the meal and then Friday evening played out in that carefree, uninterrupted, satisfying way it has of doing. Mmmm...excellent.


<----->

8th MAY - Thursday



Went to the charity shop in the afternoon and it seemed like ages since I had been there. Love the atmosphere of the place, love working with the girls, love meeting and chatting with customers, so so satisfying, what an opportunity.

Came back home and completed more eBay orders.

Cooked myself a very tasteful meal and got to thinking how difficult it is to live alone.


<----->

7th MAY - Wednesday



An excellent day, as it is always when I know that Michael is on his way!

We set off for Nuneaton around 11.30 and spent a while in Costa Coffee before again stepping back in time for a little food shopping at the Co-op.

Our reserved table was waiting for us in The Griffin when we arrived and we both enjoyed our chosen meals, determining next time that we would go for a starter rather than a main so we could also enjoy something from the dessert menu.

Heard the bad news from Jordan that he had had a small accident on his motorbike - small maybe but is going to cost him a fair amount to put right.

Received an email from David Cameron which treated us to these words:  'Labour's only plans are for more spending, more borrowing, more debt - more of the same that got us into the mess'

I thought it would be rude not to answer his email so here is part of my reply: 'As soon as you start slagging off other parties I stop reading - it's in the same ilk as your childish bickering across the benches in Parliament. If you want the electorate to listen and vote for you then please grow up'


<----->

6th MAY - Tuesday


Richard arrived late morning and we set about completing eBay orders with Richard being alert and efficient whilst I felt myself in something of a haze!  

I decided to paint the front door, a task I had been putting off for too long. It was very satisfying and the result quite pleasing.

Ryan came round after school, tidied the shed and mowed the front and back lawns - and did them brilliantly!

<----->

5th MAY - Monday


Michael and I set off for Costa Bedworth around 11 and spent an hour or so watching the world go by.  From here we made our way to Malt Kiln Farm Shop again where we had lunch and I purchased some cheese, fruit and vegetables.

A very pleasant and relaxing Bank Holiday Monday.

<----->

4th MAY - SUNDAY

Having spent Saturday night Googling Nuneaton restaurants I'd made up my mind that, come Sunday lunchtime, I'd be at The White Stone when the doors opened - and I was! Greeted by a smiling young lady, and, even though I hadn't booked, I was shown to a table and left with a menu.  Well, what can I say? An impressively refurbished hostelry, once known as The Hayrick, an impressive menu sensibly priced, and Gina - another smiling member of staff: it bode well.  Having placed my order it wasn't long before my meal arrived - a plate of food beautifully presented, tender beef, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, carrots, broccoli and yorkshire pudding,a feast for the eyes and treat for the taste buds, it was D E L I C I O U S!! The Panna Cotta which followed was spot on too.  At less than twelve pounds for the two courses I felt I'd had very good value for money and that my first ever visit to The White Stone wouldn't be my last.

<----->

3rd MAY - Saturday

Another Saturday hoves into view.  Nuneaton will be our destination and Costa Coffee our first post of call.

Well, Nuneaton again did not disappoint, The Jailhouse providing a place to eat and again great atmosphere and great value for money.

<----->

2nd MAY - Friday

Spent all morning and part of the afternoon on eBay orders, leaving the house only to pop down to the Post Office.

Prepared minced beef and onion, new potatoes and cauliflower for dinner.  Tried out a new recipe for rice pudding which was even more delicious than the old one!


PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 140C/285F, Gas Mark 1

Melt the butter in a heavy-based casserole dish over a medium heat.

Add the rice and stir to coat.

Add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.

Continue stirring until the rice swells and becomes sticky with sugar.

Pour in the milk and keep stirring until no lumps remain. Add the cream and vanilla and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Give the mixture a final stir and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Bake for 1-1½ hours.

Serve with 2 or 3 dessert spoonfuls of jam - delicious!

<----->

1st MAY - Thursday

A very busy and tiring day but still special and satisfying.  Spent the morning on eBay orders. The highlight of the day was lunch with Clive, who picked me up in his new car 

mid-afternoon. We headed for the Malt Kiln Farm Shop for lunch which was as ever delicious.  I made some purchases from the shop, minced beef, potatoes and cauliflower ready for tomorrow night's dinner.

The most interesting part of our visit however was meeting the published poet Martin Malone - check out his website and poetry.

Went to bed around midnight exhausted but happy and soon drifted off into blissful sleep.


<----->


30th APRIL - Wednesday

An excellent day!  Michael and I set off for our Nuneaton adventure around midday.  The warmer weather enabled us to sit outside Costa for our coffee and watch the great and the good of the town trundling by.

After a little food shopping at the Co-op we headed for The Griffin again where we had lunch - they launched their new menu today which I must say looks very appetising! We met and chatted to the new manager, Darren.

Both Ryan and Jordan called in during the evening. Sadly Jordan's recently acquired Aprllia needs attention to its rear brakes.


<----->

29th APRIL - Tuesday

Spent the morning with Richard working on eBay orders and generally putting the world to rights.  So much appreciate his help today as I know he was far from 100% and he still drove over.

Late afternoon I set out for Keresley Newland Primary School again for an important Governors' Meeting.  Got home around 7.30 p.m. and decided to treat myself to one of my favourite concoctions:

Prepared celery, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, salted cashews, mushrooms and carrots - make sure they are all cut into pieces of similar size and not too big. Stir fry in a wok with a little oil for ten minutes or so. Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with grated cheese. Cook on the top shelf of the oven at 180 for an hour. Try it - it's totally delicious!


<----->

28th APRIL - Monday


Just the two of us at the charity shop this morning and business was steady.  Gave Cathryn the gingerbread cake I'd made her.

The afternoon was devoted to training on Child Protection and Safeguarding at Keresley Newland Primary School. The course was impressively well attended and Adrian covered the topic wonderfully, breaking into small groups from time to time to consider various topics and report back when we came together again.  A very useful, essential and informative afternoon.


<----->

27th APRIL - SUNDAY


Hills of the North, rejoice;
River and mountain spring,
Hark to the advent voice;
Valley and lowland, sing;
Though absent long, your Lord is nigh;
He judgment brings and victory.

Isles of the southern seas,
Deep in your coral caves
Pent be each warring breeze,
Lulled be your restless waves:
He comes to reign with boundless sway,
And makes your wastes His great highway.

Lands of the East, awake,
Soon shall your sons be free;
The sleep of ages break,
And rise to liberty.
On your far hills, long cold and gray,
Has dawned the everlasting day.

Shores of the utmost West,
Ye that have waited long,
Unvisited, unblest,
Break forth to swelling song;
High raise the note, that Jesus died,
Yet lives and reigns, the Crucified.

Shout, while ye journey home;
Songs be in every mouth;
Lo, from the North we come,
From East, and West, and South.
City of God, the bond are free,
We come to live and reign in thee!

                                                     
                                                                                                   Charles E. Oakley(1832-1865)


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26th APRIL - Saturday


Michael and I set off for Nuneaton late morning and spent an hour or so in Costa Coffee.  After having something to eat in The Jailhouse we did some food shopping at the Co-op before returning home.


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25th APRIL - Friday


Another day spent at home, but, with Michael coming at 5 o'clock, I set about preparing for dinner.  I made a chicken and mushroom pie and also a cherry pie.  I find cooking very satisfying.

Spent some time in the evening completing eBay orders.

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24th APRIL - Thursday


Spent the day at home not feeling too well.  Richard arrived mid-morning and was, as usual, a great help.

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23rd APRIL - Wednesday


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