Category Archives: General

Who turned the heating up?… A Mozzie

It was 34′ in my car this lunchtime. Memories of the Top Gear Africa Special came flooding back……this is a nice change though isnt it? Afterall, this is what Summer should be like. We have had so many bad ones over the last few years I think we have all forgotten what Summer actually is.

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I think the above image just sums up the last few years in a nutshell. Lets forget the weather for a minute and talk about its side effects. You may recall my insect bite last week that very nearly hospitalised me yet again. Seeing the little blighter hanging off my leg in hindsight I should have inspected it and then wrung its neck. However, a flick of the finger cut to the chase and sent it from here to oblivion in less than a second.

Years ago, we would have only associated Mosquitoes with the tropics and jungles of the world. Nowadays it appears these little menaces have become illegal immigrants and are now residing in our neighbourhood here in the United Kingdom. How rude and inconsiderate is that. So, have the British Summers been getting warmer? Well, it appears not…you only need to take a look at the statistics and see. So what about this little menace then….

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Complaints of mosquito bites are on the rise in the UK. So should Britons brace themselves for a future mosquito menace? Hovering perfectly at ear level with a lingering, bothersome whine, mosquitoes leave you with bites that lead to itchy, swollen welts. In much of the world, affected by malaria, repelling them is a matter of life and death. In the UK they are a mere annoyance, interrupting summer holidays and barbecues.

Based on a survey of UK local authorities, reports of mosquito bites over the last 10 years are 2.5 times greater than in the 10 years up to 1996. NHS Direct statistics show 9,061 calls in England complaining of bites and stings from early May this year to now – up nearly 15% from last summer. Not all bite complaints are due to mosquitoes – many can be attributed to bedbugs, midges and fleas. But conditions in the UK, particularly in southeastern England, are increasingly hospitable to mosquitoes. “The wet weather through May and June this year, along with a warm summer, has affected the population because mosquitoes like the standing breeding water,” says zoologist Michael Bonsall at Oxford University.

It’s difficult to track mosquito numbers accurately, but the UK authorities are trying to do so. The Health Protection Agency has organised the Mosquito Recording Scheme to look into where and how mosquitoes live and breed. And the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, with help from the HPA, has created Mosquito Watch, a voluntary reporting system geared towards collecting and analysing various specimens. Not only do mosquitoes swarm over pools of standing water, including bowls left outside for pets, they appear under man-hole covers and even travel on London’s Tube network.

But while mosquitoes transmit deadly diseases in many parts of the world, they do not cause major harm in the UK. They may spoil picnics in the park, but they are usually only a major problem when Britons travel to countries with malaria, dengue or other mosquito-borne diseases. But once upon a time, malaria-carrying mosquitoes could be found in the salt marshes of southeastern England.

It is believed that malaria – literally “bad air” – dates back at least to Roman times in the UK, and outbreaks occurred as recently as the years just following World War I. British doctor Ronald Ross, who discovered the malarial parasite living in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito in the 19th Century, recruited teams to eliminate the larvae from stagnant pools and marshes.

Malaria in England had effectively died out by the 1950s, mostly due to the draining of much of the marshland where mosquitoes bred. But because of the growth of global travel, the number of imported cases of the disease in the UK has risen, with nearly 2,000 a year today.In many cases, live mosquitoes have been found on aircraft, or travelling in luggage, having been transported from countries with malaria. On rare occasions, people may even have contracted malaria in Europe and North America, dubbed “airport malaria”. Five of the 30-plus species of mosquito found in the UK are not native. One variety is coming alarmingly close to the UK. The Asian tiger mosquito – Aedes albopictus – known for its white and black striped pattern has been spotted as close as Belgium.

While the species does not carry malaria, it does transmit West Nile virus, Yellow fever and dengue. “It is possible that Aedes albopictus could make its way to the UK,” says Dr James Logan, medical entomologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “Because they lay their drought-resistant eggs in transportable materials, like used tyres, there is a possibility that they can be transported to a country where they are not normally found. “Some studies suggest that they could survive the UK winter, however, to date this species has not been found in the UK and the HPA are keeping a watchful eye on it.” Bonsall agrees and adds that predictive models show how malaria-carrying species could even make their way to areas such as the North Kent marshes, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Mosquitoes are becoming immune to the insecticides used to treat them – via spray or bed nets, according to a recent study from Senegal. Between 2007 and 2010, insects with a resistance to a popular type of pesticide rose from 8% to 48%. “This could be a big problem for future control,” says Dr Hilary Ranson, head of the vector group at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.But according to Dr Logan, the health infrastructure and access to drugs in the UK means malaria is unlikely to take hold and cause major problems. Unlike much of the world, the rise of the mosquito will be a nuisance in the UK rather than a serious threat.

And for me, well…..if you have Cellulitis like I do, then you have a constant reminder of them 365 days a year. They are definitely on my Facebook block list.

Thanks for reading.

Excerpts of Article from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14613140
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The dreaded Cellulitis…..

480426_10151718805790831_1601438609_n In 2007 whilst on holiday in Lanzarote I suddenly became mysteriously ill. It wasn’t like it was something obvious it was just a gradual feeling over a few hours. I recall coming back from a place called “Rancho Texas” and suspecting I had been bitten by a fly of some variety. It could well have been Spanish but as flies don’t speak I couldn’t really ask it could I? Whatever it was took a real fancy to my blood and within twenty-four hours I was flat on my back, sweating profusely and craving cold drinks. We were staying at Lomo Blanco Apartments in Puerto del Carmen and as far as I can recall with only two or three days to go until our plane ride home I did nothing but sleep. Much of this was down to heaps of Panadol kindly dispensed by my loving wife Elaine but with all good intentions she wanted to get me home. In hindsight she was right, ten days in the Leeds General Infirmary has a little more appeal than being stuck on your own in a Spanish hospital 1800 miles from home. I am sure you see where I am coming from here.

After getting me on the plane drugged up to the eyeballs I managed to get home. Looking back, two things spring to mind… firstly, I cannot even remember the journey home and secondly, how in the name of all thats holy did I get away with it? It would only have taken an eagle eyed flight attendant to realise how sick I was. Once home a call to “NHS Direct” for advice seemed the right things to do. When the call was made with all the symptoms it must have come across as a little misleading to the call handler and we awere advised that “deep vein thrombosis” was likely. I think the fact that I had just stepped off an aircraft may have swayed the decision in this direction to be fair. Anyway, that was not the point… Elaine was instructed not to panic and to get me to Accident and Emergency like…rapid. And thats exactly what happened.

My home for the next week or so was a darkened ward in the bowels of the Leeds General Infirmary called the “High Dependency Unit”. Here, I lay with my feet in an awkward postion much higher than my head and drugged up to the eyeballs much like I was in the final days of my holiday to the Canary Islands.

I was very lucky really, bites like this can be poisonous and if not treated can do real damage. Since then, my legs are painful and the skin is very soft and even the slightest knock will cause them to bruise quicker than an old tomato. The price I pay for this means I have to be careful, much like I wasnt the following year when back in Lanzarote when I scraped my leg on a the rough edge of a plastic sunbed and tore a hole on my shin. What I have managed to do is stay clear of flies and mosquitoes. Two more visits to the Canary Islands and I have stayed bite free. All down to special wipes, wristbands and a loving and caring wife who obvisouly doesnt want to see me in that state again. This was until last Friday…..when the unexpected happened…in Cottingley. Yes, Cottingley del Sol.

A beautiful summers evening and the last thing that was on my mind was the dangers of the British fly. I was at the Moonlight Walk hosted by ny good friends at Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale  — if you get a chance please take a look at the great fundraising and events the friends do…they are nothing short of fantastic.  They often ask me to take photographs for them and as its my passion I never turn down an opportunity. The event was to be held at Cottingley Fitness & Wellbeing Centre near Bingley. The place has fantastic grounds including a lovely water feature and open lawns. Ideal for an event of this kind I am sure you will agree. It also appears that it was ideal for an old friend of mine, one that was to come back an haunt me with a bang. The Fly !

It had never crossed my mind when getting ready that on a beautiful summers evening I would be better covering up my legs or caking them in Jungle Formula Insect Repellent. Afterall this is West Yorkshire not the Canary Islands.  I had been taking photographs of the participants (below)

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and all was going well. I was sat by one of the tables near the edge of the lawn when I felt a sharp pain in the side of my left leg. I looked down and to my horror saw a black humped shaped insect drawing blood from the depths of my calf. How rude ! Without permission too, surely that constitutes theft? With a swipe of my hand I tried to remove said creature from my leg but it was going nowhere fast. I had to physically pick it from the hole itself had created. I was left with a trickle of blood and a feeling of nervousness came over me. What if this brought back my Cellulitis?

After a few panic ridden text exchanges with Elaine I thought nothing else of it until the next morning. I woke with a slightly more swollen pair of legs than I went to bed with, a warmer and hotter (not in the biblical sense) pair of legs along with a nauseous feeling. This was the last thing I needed. Once again, thinking nothing more of it I carried on my normal Saturday morning routine and my lovely wife went to work. Within an hour of her departure something went wrong. It was almost like it was waiting for her departure to create this problem because the timing was just that. My legs started to swell and the skin started to stretch. I took evasive action and lay on the sofa nearest the window and propped my legs up on the window sill. It was there I stayed until Elaine returned home from work at two o clock.

She knew….Straight away. Women know when something is not right, they have this ability to detect problems it’s a seventh sense (lol). No matter how much I could have tried to hide it, it was never going to work. The proof was in the size of my body parts so without removing my legs I had no chance. We both mutually agreed that a trip to Leeds General Infirmary was in order….Oh no, here we go again.

Saturday afternoon at casualty is no fun, nothing compared to Saturday evening but still no fun. Five hours later and a number of potions later and I was allowed home. This was only because no matter how much they tried they could for the life in them get a drip in to me. This has resulted in numerous bruises in my arms but I’m not going to worry about that. I will have to look like a temporary addict for a few days and deal with it.

And here I am, its Wednesday and I am still sat with my feet up and resting. Top Gear has been the highlight of my week. Thanks foe reading my woes. Call back soon for more.

Neglect, Neglect & more neglect…..Did you see?

No More Dead Pixels….. there haven’t been any. The statement says it all. People keep telling me that only women can multi-task…..okay then I will shut up now. It might well be true because I have had a major problem actually writing two blogs at once. I have been so “in to” my new blog Streetographies   that I have totally neglected everything here. Am I asking for forgiveness?? Absolutley!I have even neglected my flickr pages too….but having said that there hasn’t been much activity behind from behind the camera to even upload anything that would be worth showing. The most photography I have done is on my mobile phone. End of story. Moving on…………

Did you see the article on the news and television about Nik Wallenda completing a quarter mile tightrope walk accross the Grand Canyon? If you didn’t have a watch of this lunatic !

Aerialist Nik Wallenda completed a tightrope walk that took him a quarter mile over the Little Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona on Sunday. Wallenda performed the stunt on a 2-inch-thick steel cable, 1,500 feet above the river on the Navajo Nation near the Grand Canyon. He took just more than 22 minutes, pausing and crouching twice as winds whipped around him and the rope swayed.

“Thank you Lord. Thank you for calming that cable, God,” he said about 13 minutes into the walk.

Wallenda didn’t wear a harness and stepped slowly and steady throughout, murmuring prayers to Jesus almost constantly along the way. He jogged and hopped the last few steps. The event was broadcast live on the Discovery Channel. Winds blowing across the gorge had been expected to be around 30 mph. Wallenda told Discovery after the walk that the winds were at times “unpredictable” and that dust had accumulated on his contact lenses. “It was way more windy, and it took every bit of me to stay focused the entire time,” he said.

The 34-year-old Sarasota, Fla., resident is a seventh-generation high-wire artist and is part of the famous “Flying Wallendas” circus family — a clan that is no stranger to death-defying feats. His great-grandfather, Karl Wallenda, fell during a performance in Puerto Rico and died at the age of 73. Several other family members, including a cousin and an uncle, have perished while performing wire walking stunts. Nik Wallenda grew up performing with his family and has dreamed of crossing the Grand Canyon since he was a teenager. Sunday’s stunt comes a year after he traversed Niagara Falls earning a seventh Guinness world record.

Wallenda wore a microphone and two cameras, one that looked down on the dry Little Colorado River bed and one that faced straight ahead. His leather shoes with an elk-skin sole helped him keep a grip on the steel cable as he moved across. About 600 spectators watching on a large video screen on site cheered him on as he walked toward them. A Navajo Nation ranger, a paramedic and two members of a film crew were stationed on the canyon floor and watched from below. The ranger, Elmer Phillips, said Wallenda appeared to be walking like any normal person would on a sidewalk. But he said he got a little nervous when Wallenda stopped the first time. “Other than that, a pretty amazing feat. I know I wouldn’t even attempt something like that,” Phillips said. “Very nicely done.”

Before the walk, a group of Navajos, Hopis and other Native Americans stood along a nearby highway with signs protesting the event. The event was touted as a walk across the Grand Canyon, an area held sacred by many American Indian tribes. Some local residents believe Wallenda hasn’t accurately pinpointed the location and also said that the Navajo Nation shouldn’t be promoting the gambling of one man’s life for the benefit of tourism. Discovery’s 2-hour broadcast showcased the Navajo landscape that includes Monument Valley, Four Corners, Canyon de Chelly and the tribal capital of Window Rock. “When people watch this, our main thing is we want the world to know who Navajo people are, our culture, traditions and language are still very much alive,” Geri Hongeva, spokeswoman for the tribe’s Division of Natural Resources, said before the walk.

Other than that, everything else is trif !!

Bronte Dash…..off the rails

The chain of unfortunate events have  prevented me from attending to things that I would regard as recreational. My blog and my photography rank as the highest in the recreation ranks and I will never turn down an opportunity for a day out with the camera.  Last Monday, the 3rd of June a window of opportunity presented itself; an opportunity that with it brought sunshine, blue skies and time on my side. This begs the question….Where to go? I have to be careful with this one as I have visited and photographed many locations over and over again. You only need to see my photo stream on Flickr to see that Yeadon Tarn is a well-worn path for me; there are only so many images you can obtain from one location. Well, I don’t actually believe in my own words there as every visit presents new possibilities.

After deliberating for a short while and mentally compiling a list in my head of the top contenders I decided to sit down and have breakfast. I had missed the best of the morning light as photography between the hours of 11am and 3pm are normally forbidden. After all, the light is harsh, the sun is bright, the shadows are non existent and I can quite categorically state that any images that happen to reside on my memory cards from within those times are only resting before being filed in the trash. By the time breakfast had finished and all other tasks for Mrs W were accomplished it was heading nearer the hours of the suns high point and departure seemed pointless. I stalled and decided that afternoon and evening light was much better anyway, trying hard to convince myself I had made the right decision. But where to go?

Haworth……for those of you that don’t know is a small historic town in the City of Bradford metropolitan borough of West Yorkshire, England. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is located in the Pennines, 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of Keighley and 10 miles (16 km) west of Bradford. The surrounding areas include Oakworth and Oxenhope. Nearby villages include Cross Roads, Stanbury and Lumbfoot. Haworth is also tourist destination known for its association with the Brontë sisters and its preserved heritage railway. Well, it would be rude not to wouldn’t it.

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Haworth  village is built on the side of the Worth Valley and the Main Street is quite steep. As it was quiet I chose to use my car to obtain the various images, its much easier when having camera equipment with you. The image above shows the view down the Main Street. I thought monochrome really set the scene and gave a very good feeling of Haworth. Haworth is very “olde” and its a great atmosphere with small cafes and curious shops and a wealth of photographic opportunities. As you will already know, I don’t just shoot landscapes and scenery, I like to get in the heart of a town or village and shoot its’ inhabitants. People are the life of a place so what better way to give the impression of a location than to portray it with its residents.  The image below shows a small street cafe near the bottom of the Main Street. What better way to spend an hour on a warm late Spring day.

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After making my way down the village and capturing the moods and scenes I arrived at the famous Haworth Railway Station home of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The KWVR is a standard gauge branch line which joins the national railway network at Keighley in the north-east of England and runs 5-miles up the Worth Valley to Oxenhope. Other stations on the Line are at Ingrow, Damems, Oakworth (location of the film ‘The Railway Children’) and Haworth (the former home of the Brontë family). The Railway is perhaps most famous for its role in the 1970 film version of Edith Nesbit’s story The Railway Children. The Railway has published a book which describes the making of the film and includes over 70 photographs along with the recollections of many volunteers who were involved. The decision to recreate the atmosphere of a 1950s branch line has been hugely popular, not least with film makers and TV producers. Over the years, the Railway has appeared in many TV and film productions including Yanks, Sherlock Holmes, Last of the Summer Wine, Treasure Hunt, Sons and Lovers, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em, Poirot, Born and Bred, The Royal, Where The Heart Is, A Touch Of Frost, Songs Of Praise, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. …

I have spent many hours taking images at this location. There are a few vantage points for different types of photography. One accessible place is the goods yard at the front of the main building. There are lots to see here if you like images of railways and their surroundings. As I started looking round the goods yard I heard that familiar sound of an engine whistling. It was time to head to a better vantage point I thought. What a decision that was ! Probably the second best move I made all day. It was from the platform that I achieved the best image of the day. I have a tendency to use the camera as a tool for looking through, this way should I see something I like I can waste no time in grabbing a few frames. It’s surprising how much time you can waste just having to raise the camera to your eye and compose an image. Anyway, I watched the driver as he leant out of his cab chatting away to the guard on the platform. The driver was so typical in his attire…you know where I am coming from…flat drivers cap, oily hands, white hair, craggy face and a long smile. A real photogenic character. Anyway…. have a look at my image.

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As I am sure you will agree, it really was worth the image. There is a whole series of these, every one with a different expression. In the end it really told a tale. The late afternoon rolled on and I soaked up the atmosphere and tried my best to portray it within my images. I could quite easily spend a whole day in Haworth but like I stated earlier, I really wanted to avoid the glare of the midday sun. Below is a link to the remaining images from my day, if you have time, please take a look.

As always, thanks for looking and your comments are always welcome.

Ooops…even the “best of the best” cock it up

An easy mistake lol…..

And the moonbeams kiss the sea…..

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The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single,

All things by a law divine

In one another’s being mingle –

Why not I with thine?

 

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdain’d its brother:

And the sunlight clasps the earth,

And the moonbeams kiss the sea –

What are all these kissings worth,

If thou kiss not me?

Goodbye dear friend…..

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….the pain has gone away now. You may rest easy and forever dream. In the short time we have known each other we shared laughter and tears, joy and pain; but most of all we shared friendship. Friendship made through a sad situation but happy times were had by all. I promised you I would be there, and I kept my promise and never let you down. Over the months we shared stories, tales and one liners. We laughed and we cried, we giggled and we chuckled, sometimes alone but more often together. You played me video clips, audio clips and the stories behind them were told in true style. I loved this, I wanted more at the end of each one….memories of my late grandfather came back to me in abundance.

Whilst you slept out your finals hours I told you “my” stories…..the deepest words from the heart of my soul. I didn’t know if you could hear me, and I never will. But you leave with me the knowledge; the knowledge that I tried my best for you my dear friend. I could do no more.  The last clip you ever played me by WH Auden was a poem called “Night Mail” and today as we said our goodbyes it was played again. The words were so poignant  a tear welled in my eye….So in the words of WH Auden I will bid you goodbye dear friend.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Don’t look down! Daredevil films himself climbing 250ft crane without safety equipment – before dangling one-handed from the edge

I just had to blog this…..even if its something just to refer to one day…OMG !!

…and the numbers keep dropping

Disappointment !! Now there is a word…it will sit alongside frustration, annoyance and other choice vocabulary as words that could be used to describe my feelings within my photography life. I shouldn’t complain at all really. It has been a good week in terms of output. First was an hour down at Rodley by the canal which produced some lovely images, then the sunrise on Sunday with some coverage on BBC Look North and that was it. The week dried up in terms of images, but not on the weather front. Only this morning I am hearing that Scotland has snow forecast for next week. Snow in May?? Is this heard of? Yes it is, a trawl through the archives of the internet reveals that May 17th 1955 was probably the most notable May snowfall on record. Much of England and Wales was affected by several hours of snow, including two to three hours worth in the London area. I think it is best that we don’t go down that route and let’s try forget about snow until the end of the year, if at all.

So, to drop all thoughts of cold weather and howling gales lets move on. I did make a mad dash down to Rodley on Saturday morning as the weather was wonderful. Warm enough for t-shirts and I even stretched to a pair of cut-offs too. I am not sure why I selected Rodley but when I show you the handful of images that I got from the side of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal you might understand why. I am sure you will all admit that it’s no where near as easy to just set off and travel miles just for the sake of a few images. A few years back I would have not thought twice about getting in the car and setting off to the Lake District to get some photography under my belt. If the weather was right it was a great feeling to be spontaneous and just go. Today, that’s not quite so easy; not because of personal travel restraints or my ability to get to the places but for the sheer expense of the journeys themselves.

For the married man with children (and grand children) prioritising time and money puts certain things in ascendency over ones leisure activities. For me, this is just the case. My love for my wife and children, my family and my own well being will always come first over any activity that could be looked at another time. Is this normal I think? I am sure it is.

The Rodley visit wasn’t meant to be anything special. Every other Saturday a couple of hours either side of lunchtime I have some “me” time and if the weather is good I usually get out with the camera. The canal side in Rodley is ideal, close for parking and seating too. What more could I ask.

I churned out just nine decent images from about 50 or so that came through the camera. Overall, I was pleased, especially with the lone tree in a monochrome edit.

And that was it, the week that was……As my passion for image making goes, ranking it against the Football League this was at the foot of the table….The Conference Table.

Enjoy your weekend….

A week like no other…..A week in words.

I have found it very difficult to find the strength to even publish a blog that would sum up this week in words. When you take away the small problems that we all encounter every day and look at the situations of others it really pushes your troubles in to insignificance doesn’t it?

I am not strictly a religious person, and I don’t want to go in to that subject but you sometimes have to beg the question…Why me? Why him? Why her? I am sure you know what I mean. I don’t want to go in to specifics regarding those concerned but they will know who they are. Don’t you?

We may not be close in terms of distance, we may not see each other every week, or even every month but, each of us knows that when one of us is in need the others will drop tools and come running that very day. This is not friendship, this is so much more than friendship, this is a special bond forged between very special friends. Friends that have become so much a part of our lives they feel like brothers and sisters. In recent months I have being a member of the “running party” that has responded to a cry for help. I have also been at the opposite end of the scale by having to place a cry for help. These are the people who respond with no request; no physical cry for help is needed….they just know. They are so close they actually know something is wrong. In times where a request is the only way to get the message through, these friends will down tools with no questions asked and knock on your door.

I am proud to be called a friend, proud to be a friend and the group of people who are friends need no reminding. You have all been there for Elaine and I over time and for this we are eternally grateful.

This is for you….. SF, DM, LE, GRB, WB, DM & PM, SC.

FRIENDS

As we walk our path of life,
We meet people everyday.
Most are simply met by chance.
But, some are sent our way.
 
These become special friends
Whose bond we can’t explain;
The ones who understand us
And share our joy and pain.

Their love contains no boundaries.
So, even we are apart.
Their presence enhances us
With a warmth felt in the heart.

This love becomes a passageway,
When even the miles disappear.
And so, these friends, God sends our way,
Remain forever near.

And the words that sum up this week…….

SADNESS, HAPPINESS, FEAR, PAIN, LOVE, PEACE, SANCTITY, SURPRISE, JOY and finally FRIENDSHIP

Thank you for reading……

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