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NoteI have both Catholic and Protestant ancestors in both areas of Ireland, plus was born in England, and have no political axe to grindmy true story will be deliberately vague on details to protect everyone concerned.

Daid

The Troubles in Northern Ireland were a terrible time for all concerned. There had been terrible suppression by the historical British Government over the centuries, so the British Army was understandably disliked. Ignorance prevailed up to this time. At age 24 Dave was sent by the British army to protect people in Ireland from political terrorists among their own people. There is plenty of the history on Wikipedia.

David was just an ordinary soldier doing his job, posted to Northern Ireland to protect the people from attacks by the IRA.

On this particular day there had been an explosion in the Shankhill Road area of Belfast, and Dave’s unit was turned out to patrol a road not so far from there.
They were walking along the road with their rifles at the ready, looking for who knows what, because they never knew where a bomb would be hidden, or a sniper, and they were trying to look after the ordinary people who just wanted to get on with their lives.

The British Army was not welcomed as saviours at all, but on this day, children were out playing in the road, as we all did before motor cars took over.

Women were at their doors, chatting to their neighbours, and despite an explosion having taken place they were just going about their business.

One housewife close to where two children were playing in the road asked the young soldiers if she could bring them out a cup of tea. Since this was a good way to form bonds with the people of Ireland the soldiers accepted and shouldered arms.

They stood about drinking the well-earned cup of tea until suddenly one of the soldiers heard the dreaded ‘snick’ of a rifle being cocked in the narrow street running off the road.

He shouted a warning to the people and to the platoon and they scattered, but bullets started firing at them and the soldiers hit the ground for protection, or dived behind hedges, preparing to fight back.

Two young children, a boy and a girl aged about seven stood frozen in the middle of the road, where seconds before they were playing ball. Their mother screamed and Dave scooped them up and ran for a gateway where he pushed them down and covered them with his body.

‘What are ye doing soldier?’ the boy asked. Dave explained he was keeping them safe till he

could get them in the house.
‘What is yer name, Soldier?’ the boy then asked in his Irish accent, in the unconcerned way kids in war zones can do.’Dave’ he said, while keeping his eyes on the road and surroundings.

Soon the skirmish was over, and Dave got up and saw the children safely in to their relieved Mum. Job done and they moved on and finished their patrol….

Twenty years passed. Dave was a family man now in civilian life. Like all war veterans his service life had taken its toll but he was ok. He had done his bit for his country as expected.

His wife, Rosslynd, was a bit wary when a letter arrived from the MOD (Ministry of Defence), but when it was opened Dave got the shock of his life.

The young man now grown up, who only knew him as ‘Dave’, had mentioned to his mother that he would like to meet the soldier who had saved his life, and whom he had never forgotten.

They sent a letter to the Ministry of Defence, which forwarded it through the channels until they came to the company who had patrolled that road in that area of Belfast on that day, and they found Dave listed.

Back through the channels went the paperwork, and finally Dave got to go to Belfast and meet the kids he had pinned down with his body while bullets zipped all around them.

Dave says it was a very emotional time, and he was very touched that in the course of doing his duty he had made a long-time friend, and perhaps helped a little in the peace process.

But it didn’t end there. Dave was invited to Buckingham Palace where he received a special badge for his bravery together with a certificate from Prince Charles. He is suitably proud of this nomination, but much more proud that he had become just ‘Dave’ to a young Irish boy in the space of a few moments.

He hadn’t looked for glory or reward, but his deed had come back to him in the form of much warmth and pride that will last him the rest of his life. What goes around, comes around.

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Conservation Week at Australian Reptile Park

I support a Guide Dog Association puppy, along with others. ‘My’ special dog is Kara, a female black labrador. I get updates on her progress;,how her training is progressing. I worry about the waste of money these updates cause, when I would prefer to go online and look it up. But I daresay for young children, the regular photographs are tangible proof that their chosen puppy is doing well, and I am becoming a cynical old woman.

Being visually impaired, with early onset macular degeneration, I do joke that by the time Kara completes her two-year training, we will be ready for each other, but to be truthful the thought that Kara will be able to help some young blind person live a full life is much more satisfying.

click here for ifficial information on sponsoring a puppy.

It was brought home to me that guide dogs are a big responsibility, as well as a blessing, by the current owner of one such dog (if owner is the correct word). I knew not to pat this lovely golden labrador while he was in harness, therefore working, but I just had to speak to both. The dog looked older, and the man said he was about to be retired – the dog that is, and would be homed where he could rest and play without any further responsibilty.

This aspect of a guide dog’s life had never occurred to me before, but greatly pleased me, that after a life trained to care and devotion, the time comes when a guide dog gets repaid in love and care.

This dog was this man’s third guide dog, the man informed me. By now the man was middle-aged and used to being taken out and kept safe by these canine friends. He said he did have to keep up the training with his dog, for in the way of us all, the animal would just as soon forget the discipline, given half a chance. Each dog has its own personality, and this one seemed to be quite a strong personality. The man said they had regular visits from the Association, to make sure the dog was healthy and comfortable. I
found this very encouraging. No cruelty and neglect for these hard workers. No slavery.

In fact the man’s long involvement with the sicity meant he was involved in activities such as fund-raising and training. I could tell he was very proud of this involvement..
My attention was waning, because I was unsure of my train stop, but as we neared my station this lovely sturdy dog stayed relaxed by his master. He would know when to get back to work. For now he was enjoying the ride, and just secretly enjoying the attention.

What an honour it is, to know my small monthly donation goes to something so enriching and worthwhil.

Hooray, Ive won some flower beads on an eBay auction! 60p with free postage from China. I feel guilty about the low price, but I do buy other beads from this company.

I’m surprised how competitive I can become at auction; had to restrain myself from bidding again on a bird house that had gone to its full sale price, when the same model was elsewhere for £3.00!
Could be a disastrous way to spend time cooped up with a chest infection. I might end up with a scale model of the Titanic in the garden. Though I am still yearning for the solar-powered pottery water cascade I have seen at £46.00. Seems such a bargain……

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Ive been honoured to have had three stories published in Skive over the years. Based in Australia, the magazine was a lively mix of modern writing submitted globally.

This FINAL issue of Skive celebrates 10 years and its 324 pages
features 129 STORIES / MEMOIRS / POEMS from 103 Authors, and Art &
Photography from 5 talented artists. The issue is available as a
printed book. The theme is ‘Farewell’. Page size is 8.5″ x 11″. The
cover is full color & laminated.

There have been 679 Authors & Artists published in Skive Magazine from
Nov. 2003 – Jan. 2006 (online magazine) & Mar. 2006 – Nov. 2013
(printed magazine).

The final Farewell edition is available in print through the link below, and will be worth keeping both as a good example of the writings of out time, and as a collectable for those who like good quality publishing.

Editing and design were done by Matt Ward, of Mockfrog Design, who has done a great deal to promote writing and publishing over the years, from his days as Editor of ‘the Godfrey Opus’, the University of Newcastle, NSW magazine to his currect projects. I, for one, have profited from his mentoring.

It is sad to see such an icon as Skive be put to bed for the final time, but the time has come for Matt to focus on his own writing. He has a New York publisher waiting. More about that later:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/skive-magazine-farewell-
november-2013/paperback/product-21268940.html
Skive Farewell sales link at Lulu.com

http://www.skivemagazine.com/
Skive Magazine website including sales link:

http://www.twitter.com/skivemagazine
Skive Magazine Twitter page

http://www.facebook.com/Skive.Magazine.page
Skive Magazine Facebook

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If you want to get up to serious mischief at our certain age, online dating is for you! You will be amazed how many over- seventies think they are God’s gift to women – (or have got in a lifetime’s supply of Viagra. -think about that). To be honest I have already found the perfect man. Unfortunately I am not his perfect woman, but maybe if I stop these sorties online he may come to love me. He was last seen running over the hills of the Lake District with no sign of stopping. But I was feeling very out of love with myself, in need of a lifestyle change, and too close to the computer. Friends keep pressuring me to try online dating, however I notice they don’t offer up any of their friends for sacrifice. They know me too well! My online dating has lasted a week, and I have cancelled my subscription. It has done wonders for my morale, except that I appeal to the types who don’t appeal to me! Feeling somewhat reckless I did ring someone reasonably local who sent his mobile number. it was Saturday night around 8.40pm because nothing was on tv. His phone was switched off, probably out playing the field, or doing the gardening his profile said he liked (turns out his idea of gardening is propagating. Horrors!) He has texted me several times, one at 6.30am from work. I told him off for that. I am not, and never will be, a morning person. Now he wants to kiss me all over, and that was day two! His profile didn’t mention he liked mountaineering! I told him I was off to church (which I really enjoy), thinking that should sort him, but back came a line of xxxxxx’s. I must say it has cracked me up that someone would think being told they are incorrigible is a good thing. Like a moth to a flame I have batted back his texts. Nothing stops each serious comment on my side from being turned into sexual innuendo from his, and it has been funny, but now it has become tiresome, plus I have visions of my naked dead body turning up in a ditch. I am sure he too has been chortling at stirring up this prim-sounding matron (my other self), too and will soon move on. I have let the other nice quiet man who got in touch know I will no longer be online and have wished him luck with his search. Callously I have not acknowledged the others apart from thanking some of them for getting in touch. God forgive me for giving in to virtual temptation. You know I was in need of some flattery to boost me. But now I’m fine. I’ve started my volunteer work where I can use my overactive mind in a good way. Also, better the devil I know, who is a bit of an angel, than the devil who wanted to ‘know’ me, in the Biblical sense. Good friends are beyond price and the love of my life passed away too many years ago. So back in the box goes the ageing romantic. I could well have become his wife number four, but I suspect my online suitor has suffered enough in his previous three lives/wives. I’m back on track, I like who I am -and if the number of men who contacted me is anything to go by, I am HOT! (Falls off chair laughing).

Note: only egos have been hurt in the making of……….

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York is long used to being invaded by hordes of people: Romans, Vikings, Scottish armies, other armies, traders, university students, factory workers, monks and religious figures, train travellers as they interchange. It evolves constantly, yet appears solid. timeless and romantic. 

The sun emerged from the grey clouds, and tourists emerged from hotels like ants from a nest.  The atmosphere in York was relaxed and friendly wherever we wandered.

Everyone seems to love York, and it does provide something for everyone from history buffs to chocolate lovers, with a choral concert in the ancient and resounding Minster only hours after a very good band called Glass Caves had been busking in the narrow street alongside.

My cousin and I meet up occasionally to catch up and wind down in a location on the train line between Scotland and England. Last time was Edinburgh, this time was York. Our mutual tastes are well suited by historic buildings, a bit of culture, and good food.

The previous evening we had dined at The Raj, a nicely decorated Indian (obviously) restaurant situated been our hotel and York Minster, then had stumbled upon a choral performance in the Chapter House of The Minster itself. Those harmonies, blended voices soaring amonst the ancient stone carving had us all mesmerised, though the modern and complicated section  following interval was more for those afficianados of choral performance, but the whole was totally impressive.

A Baileys back in the cosy hotel bar proved a good nightcap. Next morning, thanks to the good weather we left the art galleries and museums for a rainy day. next time.

Since I had decided to visit the Viking ancestors as the main part of my trip we took the river walk from our hotel to the bridge over the Ouse; a river prone to flooding and making its own history. Deciding to take the river cruise later in the afternoon we joined other befuddled visitors clutching maps and trying to find our way to the Yorvik centre.

Unfortunately pedestrian signage is kept to the minimum and old-fashioned green-painted posts with gold-painted wording can only be read close up ; by then telling you are in the wrong direction.

However we were fortified by the hotel’s full English breakfast, and we wandered about, enjoying the interesting shop windows along Coppergateimage

and emerging into an area of modern shops that you find anywhere.

My cousin found BHS, sounding like Livingstone finding Stanley (shopping is where we differ), so I parked myself on a thoughtfully provided chair by the lift and rested the bones while she gave into temptation.

By then we had earned a sandwich and modern fruit smoothie in a retro cafe down one of the narrow lanes, and were directed from there to the Yorvik Centre.

Now this was a surreal experience, combining genuine ancient archaeology underfoot, viewed through thick plate glass in a modern building, then sitting in a fairground-style waltzer that trundled us in and out of a dimly-lit reconstruction of the Viking inhabited area of York as it was on that site hundreds of years ago, thanks to many years of research.

Lifelike figures moved and spoke in the Nordic language as we passed, and it was like being in a dream sequence. Once we arrived back at the real world we came across actual skeletons and skulls that had been unearthed. My free pass for the rest of the year means I can go back and learn more.

We went on towards The Shambles – genuine medieval buildings with quaint shops. I got as far as a tiny cafe offering cream teas (with jam and really thick clotted cream) and munched happily on my fresh scone while Mo disappeared into The Shambles like a ferret down a drainpipe!

Watching the passing parade of smartly dressed people in summer clothing, the university students in quirky items of self-expression, and the comings and goings of customers who climbed the steep stairs to the cafe’s upstairs room passed the time well.

After Mo returned and caught up on her cream tea we wandered back through the market stalls that I see three times a week in my town but were a novelty to my Scottish cousin. In another street a foreign market offered all types of food and drink, plus other items, while a South American Indian band in feathered headresses blew on Pan pipes while the rhythm was provided by a machine and amplifier. Odd combination, but great sound, and cd’s on sale!

By the time we reached the wharf by the pub, the unusually warm day was taking its toll and we gladly paid up and clambered aboard one of the ferry-style river boats and sat under an awning with a breeze caressing as the boat rumbled up one side of the river, did a smart about turn midstream and took us back and up as far as Rowntree Park, provided in the good old days for workers by the chocolate entrepreneur.

Our captain provided a lively commentary and we both agreed the river trip was the highlight of our day, especially since we alighted at a dock close to our hotel.

A popular park provided a short cut home. Set among the ruins of several old buildings whose walls face our hotel (and which feature in the organised nocturnal ghost walks) the old trees and soft green grass draw lovers and families to rest and take time out. We two matrons chose a park bench and got out our small sketch books and watercolour pencils to attempt a half-timbered old bulding surrounded by trees whose curved trunks proved interesting.

Both lost in our own worlds we were barely aware of people walking past. Eventually we tired of that and headed out of the park through the huge black iron gate of St.Mary’s and across the road to the hotel to freshen up.

We walked back towards the river and called in for dinner at a pub there, with minutes to spare before the kitchen closed! Pan-seared cod etc later and a chat with those around then we headed back to our hotel bar and lounge to relax.

That was when my cousin discovered she had lost her return train ticket for the morning! 

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