Tag: Bob Derham

Travels with Natalie

Huge pleasure in me introducing Natalie Derham-Weston

Those who take a close interest in this place (you poor, lost souls!) will have noticed from time to time me posting items that have been sent to me by Bob Derham. He and I first met when we were both based in Larnaca, Cyprus in the late 80’s/early 90’s and we have remained good and close friends ever since.

Natalie is Bob’s beautiful daughter and recently contacted me to ask if she might offer a guest post on her traveling experiences. Natalie has ambitions to be a travel writer and, as you are about to see, would make an excellent one.

So, that’s more than enough from me. Over to Natalie.

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Travel Blog: Instalment 1: The Introduction

After having spent much time over the last few years travelling, I have arrived home and really feel at a slight loss. I miss so many aspects of the backpacking lifestyle and writing about it brings it all back so vividly. I have never blogged or publicly documented anything before. However, here goes…

I have always been extremely privileged in the department of exploring, having grown up with a pilot as my father. By 9 months old I was perched on his lap in the flight deck of a BAC 1-11 drinking milk and probably mumbling loudly, on my way to Spain.
Since then, things have only picked up. We have taken family holidays across Europe, America, the UAE and latterly I have completed some independent travel through South East Asia, India, Nepal, South America and Indonesia. I even spent time being schooled in South Africa in my early teens and despite the gruelling slog of their strict education system, we had a blast on a farm at the weekends in the Karoo, racing around on quad bikes and roaming the many acres of raw land they had there.

My mother was an air hostess and my step mum a tours manager on the ocean liners. So I would presume this travelling bug I seem to have caught so ferociously has been somewhat inherited.

As part of my Dads job, he and my Mother used to live in Kenya for some time and I have grown up hearing stories of their escapades and have always been very open to the idea of other cultures and ways of life.

After 17 years of constant education and not confidently knowing which direction to take with my life, I decided backpacking around South East Asia would be a good stop gap. So this plan started to take shape, along with Hannah, my best friend from University. We began as most people do nowadays with some tentative Google searches and tried to create a clearer picture of where we should go and why. This is very difficult to gauge through a screen and since then I have taken this information with a generous pinch of salt. I do peruse the Lonely Planet books and like to have them as reference.

Regardless, we began to tally up costs, buy creams, tablets and lotions to cover every disease known to man and pay through the nose for a concoction of injections promised to keep us safe and which seemed to appease my Mother! I have to say both my parents have been exceedingly supportive every time I spring on them that I am fleeing the country and any responsibilities.

So, struggling under a bag almost as big as me, I met Hannah at Gatwick in March 2015, waved goodbye to Ma and Pa and we pranced off through security, eager to make a start.

We landed in Bangkok and convinced we would be living as cheaply as possible, which included transport, headed for some public transport system. Having vaguely fathomed the measure of the currency, Baht, we found a train to take us further into the depths of the area.

Our destination was Khao San Road, the tourist tapered high street. Our journey was broken into parts and we ended up on a street where we were accosted by a tuk tuk driver. Naively we accepted a lift. I have now learnt to agree on a fee before entering the vehicle!

Anyway, after repeating the address of our hostel more times than I would like to recount, we rocked up outside. Our room was totally terrifying to two novice travellers. Again, another thing I’ve learnt not to be too fussy about. It was a luminescent green, although this was barely visible through the crude graffiti, it was bug ridden and the sheets looked like they had been used to clean the floors. We swiftly requested a change of rooms, which wasn’t much of an improvement and led to Hannah sleeping on her important belongings. In turn, leading to a broken phone. However, this did not dampen our enthusiasm and we immediately immersed ourselves in the heaving road, trying the fresh phad thai, for about 40p made by street vendors and tried our hand at haggling. We finished the day with some local ‘Tiger’ beer.

Over the next few days we ticked off some tourist spots in Bangkok, drinking our weight in water to compensate for the insane temperatures and removing our shoes 80% of the day, an Asian custom.

We had deliberately left our time very free but had one pre planned event in Chang Mai. This was an elephant sanctuary where we would have the chance to feed, wash and ride them. As two animal lovers, we had checked the ethos of the organisation and had found the elephants were ridden bareback to avoid aggravating them with cages and ropes.

However, we had to first make our way there and made our first overnight train journey, a surprisingly comfy affair. We ended up in a cheap hotel in Chang Mai. We checked in and headed upstairs to shower and generally relax. Hannah went in the bathroom first and I was just rifling through some paperwork when I heard a loud crash followed by some mild expletives. Hannah fell out the door looking a little sheepish. I glanced past her and saw the remains of what had been the basin, now strewn all over the floor in bits.

Unluckily, the thing must have been loose before and when Hannah had been brushing her teeth, it had chosen that moment to fall off. We went immediately down to reception to explain the situation and they waved it away as nothing and re-homed us across the corridor. We were very grateful and had a good night’s sleep.

Going downstairs early the next morning ready for the pick-up vehicle to the sanctuary, the reception began laying into us and demanded we pay for the damage. The police were threatened and this was when Hannah became overwhelmed, burst into tears and ran out! I was left to smooth the argument and try to rationally explain there may have been some lapse in due care of their maintenance. We finally escaped unscathed and both look back at this as another of our funny incidences.

The experience of caring for the elephants was extremely special. They had a one year old baby there who was so cheeky and constantly stole bananas. The first day we spent in a group of about 20 but we were the only ones to stay overnight. We both were invited to the nearby camp of the Burmese mahout (elephant guardians) and spent the evening drinking their homemade whisky, playing music with cups and pans and bottles and playing with their children.

The next day the two of us, one mahout and two elephants walked into the jungle. We made a camp fire, and whittled cups and chopsticks from bamboo we cut down and cooked our lunch. It was so raw and adventurous and I loved it.

Next, we made our way to Pai, a secluded place tucked away behind some mountains North West of Chang Mai that some fellow travellers had recommended to us. This was one of my favourite stops and life here was spent at a very relaxed pace. We hired mopeds to be independent and discovered natural hot springs, forest parties, waterfalls and otherwise spent time in hammocks on the veranda of our private hut overlooking the incredible landscape.

This really concludes our first couple of weeks and I look back on this with very fond memories. More to follow…

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I know you, as with me, will look forward to Natalie’s second installment.

Picture Parade One Hundred and Eighty-Six

Stay Happy Good People!

With enormous thanks to ‘Captain Bob’ who sent these to me.

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Another set of these wonderful antidotes to grumpiness in a week’s time.

Many thanks, Bob!

P.S. Don’t forget the clocks go forward in many US States in two hours time!

Summer and Millie

Now to the second of this week’s guest posts.

Bob Derham and his wife, Julie, are long-term friends back in the UK.

They recently lost their two dogs.

Bob sent me this:

Millie and Summer both had a fun life.

They were cross breed dogs, partly Springer Spaniel and part Collie. They were born in Wales, but as there are quite a lot of similar dogs there, the owner advertised in a local paper, and brought them up to Dorset one weekend 13 years ago.

Initially we had been looking for only one dog, but it seemed such a shame to separate the two puppies so we decided to take both. Most people were of the opinion that two girls from the same litter was not a good idea, but nevertheless we trained them, and the two animals were always together.
Family holidays, walking the children to the school bus, visiting friends, etc., always included Millie and Summer.

Just over two years ago, Summer became diabetic.  Had this been only ten years ago, nothing could have been done for her, but we were able to inject her twice a day, and keep her healthy, apart from failing sight as a result of the insulin. It was not long after that Millie developed the same problem, so both dogs had the same routine.
Summer went to the vets on the right day for her, and was put to sleep peacefully, and two weeks later Millie needed the same choice to be made.

They enjoyed an almost identical lifespan, and we enjoyed them to the full.

Bob and Julie’s daughter Stephanie then made the following video in memory of their two beloved dogs.

Back to me.

Going to close today’s post with this poem by Rudyard Kipling.

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The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But…you’ve given your heart for a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!);
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart for the dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long–
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Rudyard Kipling
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Dogs bring out so much beauty and love in us.

Yes, I’m a coward!

I just can’t publish the Dogs vs. Wives list!

It is, after all, the season of goodwill.

But there was more to my decision about not publishing the list; I didn’t want hundreds of you telling me to go and put this blog where the sun doesn’t shine!

Let me explain.

Bob Derham, a long-term friend for many years back in the ‘old country’, four days ago sent me an email that contained: Sixteen Logical Reasons Why Some Men Have Dogs And Not Wives:

Here’s an example:

derham
3. Dogs like it if you leave lots 
Of things on the floor.

You get the drift of the theme!

My email reply read: Will have to think very carefully as to how this one is presented. Probably blame you!! 😉

I thought carefully and decided not to publish!

I preferred to republish this recent article from Mother Nature Network.

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13 of the world’s most gentle dog breeds

By: Mary Jo DiLonardo on Dec. 21, 2016.

collie-retriever-wearing-flowers-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartSweet-natured personalities

Some dog breeds are spastic, while others are incredibly calm. Some breeds have reputations for playfulness, while more athletic types work on farms bossing around sheep or find their calling doing police work.

But there are plenty of dog breeds that are just generally sweet and loving and gentle. Kids can crawl all over them, take toys out of their mouth or even mess with them at mealtime, and these sweet pups don’t care.

Here’s a look at some of the most gentle dog breeds around.

golden-retriever-jpg-638x0_q80_crop-smartGolden retriever

Ageing brains.

A postscript to yesterday’s post.

There was a comment left on yesterday’s post that seemed a delightful reason to stay with the topic; more or less!  This was the comment left by Tony.

“at the age of 70, I am already noticing the creeping onset of reduced verbal IQ, cognitive decline, and worry about the onset of dementia….”

Paul, I am 75 and lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and a mother to dementia. I consider myself to also be at risk. There seems no defense, yet, against Alzheimer’s, but cardiovascular exercise is absolutely one against dementia. Cardio sends oxygen molecules to the brain which actually create new neurotransmitters. Check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits).

Nine days ago, dear friend Bob Derham from my UK days, emailed me the following (in turn, it had been sent on to Bob):

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I’m only sending this to the brightest of my older friends

This test will keep that dreaded disease that effects your memory at bay!

New Senior’s Exam, you only need 4 correct out of 10 questions to pass.

1) How long did the Hundred Years’ War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get cat gut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel’s hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI’s first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Remember, you need only 4 correct answers to pass.

Check your answers below ….

Continue reading “Ageing brains.”

Another Saturday smile

Courtesy of Bob Derham.

A cabbie picks up a Nun.

She gets into the cab, and notices that the handsome cab driver won’t stop staring at her.

She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: “I have a question to ask you but I don’t want to offend you.”

She answers, “My son, you cannot offend me. When you’re as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive.”

“Well, I’ve always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me.”

She responds, “Well, let’s see what we can do about that: First, you have to be single, and second, you must be Catholic.”

The cab driver is very excited and says, “Yes, I’m single and Catholic!”

“OK,” the nun says. “Pull into the next alley.”

The nun fulfils his fantasy, with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

“My dear child,” says the nun, “why are you crying?”

“Forgive me but I’ve sinned. I lied and I must confess, I’m married and I’m Jewish.”

The nun says, “That’s OK. My name is Kevin and I’m going to a Halloween party.”

(Apologies if some of you old hands have heard this before!)

Scottish blood in ma veins.

Share a smile with me!

Another long day of writing left me with little time to do anything other than go through my blog folder and pick out something delightful for today.  I didn’t have far to go, for dear friend, Bob Derham, recently sent me the following:

An Arab Sheik was admitted to Hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery, the doctors needed to have some of his blood type stored in case the need arose.

As the gentleman had a rare type of blood, one that couldn’t be found locally, so, the call went out. Finally a Scotsman was located who had the same rare blood type. The Scot willingly donated his blood for the Arab.

After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman, as appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, a diamond necklace for his wife and $100,000 US dollars.

A couple of days later, the Arab had to go through a corrective surgery procedure. Once again, his doctor telephoned the Scotsman, who was more than happy to donate more of his blood.

After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card and a box of Quality Street chocolates. The Scotsman was a little disappointed that the Arab did not reciprocate his kind gesture of more donated blood as he had the first time around.

He decided to telephone the Sheik and asked him: “I thought you would be generous again, that you would give me another BMW, diamonds and money, but you only gave me a thank-you card and a box of Quality Street chocolates.

There was a pause and then the Arab replied: “Aye laddie, but I now have Scottish blood in ma veins“.

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Don’t blame me! I just published it! 😉

Saturday sayings!

Courtesy of Bob Derham from back across the ‘pond’.

Sure you will love these just as much as Jean and I did!

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APHORISM: A SHORT, POINTED SENTENCE EXPRESSING A WISE OR CLEVER OBSERVATION, OR A GENERAL TRUTH.

  1. The nicest thing about the future is … that it always starts tomorrow.
  2. Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail.
  3. If you don’t have a sense of humor, you probably don’t have any sense at all.
  4. Seat-belts are not as confining as wheelchairs.
  5. A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you’re in deep water.
  6. How come it takes so little time for a child who is afraid of the dark to become a teenager who wants to stay out all night?
  7. Business conventions are important … because they demonstrate how many people a company can operate without.
  8. Why is it that at class reunions you feel younger than everyone else looks?
  9. Scratch a cat …. and you’ll have a permanent job.
  10. No one has more driving ambition than the teenage boy who wants to buy a car.
  11. There are no new sins; the old ones just get more publicity.
  12. There are worse things than getting a call for a wrong number at 4 a.m. – like, it could be the right number.
  13. No one ever says “It’s only a game” when their team is winning.
  14. I’ve reached the age where ‘happy hour’ is a nap.
  15. Be careful about reading the fine print … there’s no way you’re going to like it.
  16. The trouble with bucket seats is that not everybody has the same size bucket.
  17. Do you realize that, in about 40 years, we’ll have thousands of old ladies running around with tattoos – and rap music will be the Golden Oldies!
  18. Money can’t buy happiness – but somehow it’s more comfortable to cry in a Rolls Royce than in an old banger.
  19. After 60, if you don’t wake up aching in every joint, you’re probably dead..
  20. Always be yourself because the people that matter don’t mind …. and the ones that mind don’t matter.
  21. Life isn’t tied with a bow … but it’s still a gift.

and REMEMBER …”POLITICIANS AND NAPPIES SHOULD BE CHANGED OFTEN AND FOR THE SAME REASON.”

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Have a wonderful week-end!

Picture parade forty.

A very suitable set of pictures for today; Easter Sunday.

Thanks to Bob Derham for sending them to me.

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From Jean and me and all our animals, our Easter wishes for peace to you all.