July 22, 2006


Archie and Spot in training
I visited San on Wednesday for a bite to eat and to exchange our news as well as doing some stitching together. We had a lovely time as we had not seen each other for many weeks, since Mike passed away.
We realised that there has been some role reversal lately i.e. San now merrily stitches samplers, while I am interested in Archie - see above for my latest attempt.
We have decided to write an article about this strange series of events and sent it, with photos of our work, to WOCS and Cross Stitcher!
It has been cooler today in England because we have had rain which is good for the garden but not so good for my attempts at developing my suntan. Never mind hopefully tomorrow will be better.

July 20, 2006

Photos of My Trip to Wales last week

The start of the journey up the Brecon Beacons
Getting near the top of the climb - time for a breather and drink!

At the top of Pen y Fan (highest point of Brecon Beacons)
Looking back along the range
Descent from Pen y Fan
Nearly home (and the pub!)

July 17, 2006

My Flower

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

You have a sunny disposition and are normally one of the first to show up for the party. You don't need too much attention from the host once you get there as you are more than capable of making yourself seen and heard.

July 16, 2006

Happy Sunday everyone!

Hello there my Blogging Friends

I am back after my week's Leadership Training Course in Wales and I have a lot of stories and photos to share with you. There were 6 of us on the course, led by a Life Coach called Ben (who was absolutely wonderful!).

On Monday and Tuesday we had a personality profile done and then put this into action with a number of outdoor leadership activities. My personality profile is INFJ - Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. I have to explain that the Introvert assessment is because I tend to think deeply first, before I externalise my emotions to other people (this is so true!!) and the Judging assessment is because I tend to like things to be somewhat orderly and organised rather than being too 'random' (again, I find this to be an accurate assessment of how I am).

On Wednesday we spent the day at the Amelia Trust Farm near Cardiff www.ameliatrust.org.uk/ This is a wonderful place, a working farm full of animals (cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs to name but a few) which is a haven of love and tranquility for young people who are on the margins of society. Most have been excluded (expelled) from school, have no family support to give them encouragement in their lives and hence often turn to drugs, drink or crime. The Farm is the only place where they feel they 'belong' and matter to people.

Our project for the day was to build a 150 metre rustic fence around the outside of one of their fields, so that their cow herd can now graze in safety and preventing them from escaping onto the main road. We worked with some of Amelia's young people and had the wonderful privilege of talking to them, involving them in the work and doing our best to raise their morale. Some of them would drift off, distracted, to have a cigarette or just sit quietly and observe, but then they would come back as we gave them encouragement that the work they were helping with was good and worthwhile. I befriended a young man (13 years old) called Mikey (a rather amazing coincidence that he shares the same name as my DH!) - he was from a family of 9, his father died when he was 3 years old and he had hardly attended school. He was big-hearted and caring and we had a lovely time together hammering staples into the wire fence. I gave him lots of encouragement and told him he was much better at the job than me, which I think boosted his morale somewhat!

I have told the Amelia Trust that I would like to return to help them for a week in October - they badly need volunteers to run activities, so I thought I could gather together some craft materials and run an activity to make cards and posters. October is sometimes a bit cold, grey and miserable so it would be a great opportunity to get some young people together to do some practical indoor activities.

I was reading the wonderful and, quite frankly inspirational, entry (27 June 2006) on Carto's blog http://cartostitchingcorner.blogspot.com/ about how her Mom advised her when times feel hard to reflect on those who are less fortunate in life. As you can imagine, this resonates with me in my current situation (for those new to my blog, please refer to the entry on 31st May) and mirrored how I felt during the day I spent at Amelia.

On Thursday we did some more class-based discussions and in the afternoon, we walked some 13km up to the highest point of the Brecon Beacons - this was an exhilarating (albeit, tiring!!) experience and, as I looked out at the wonderful view, I felt as if Mike was with me at that moment. It took us about 3.5 hours to complete the entire walk, which conveniently (!) ended up back at the pub, where we enjoyed a well-earned drink and evening meal.

== I have some photos on our walk, but unfortunately Blogger is doing its normal trick of not letting me upload them - so I will include them for you later ==

On Friday, we did a self-assessment of our performance over the week and the course finished at 4pm. Before the course, I arranged to visit my cousin and his wife as I almost passed their house on the way home from Wales. I had a wonderful evening with them, talking about Mike and sharing our news, as we have not seen each other for some time. My cousin is a drummer in a tribute band, so he showed me some of their latest concert material and their website www.rollin-clones.com. Currently he does the week-day shows, with the other drummer doing weekends, but he may get to do weekends as well. We have made a commitment to see each other more often as we share the same nutty sense of humour and always have a great time together.

Well, that is the end of my week - I will find some time to visit your blogs later today, but I am going to get out in the garden and mow the grass which has grown long since I have been away!

Lots of love
Stay safe and happy,
Ali xx

July 08, 2006

A Tranquil Weekend

It has been quite a week for me. After a month of compassionate leave from work, I decided to return to work on Monday. All my colleagues were very supportive, many just came up and gave me a big hug without saying anything, which was helpful as it showed me immense support but did not start me crying again. Sometimes, the words are just not enough and its best to just show the moral support. People are wonderful, it gives me a lot of hope that this world may have some awful events going on, and yet the beauty of people's compassion and caring does shine through in a crisis.

I had a 3 day course from Tuesday through to Thursday which was quite hard, but was positive in that it gave me something to focus on. Whenever my mind wandered to other things and I felt upset during the day, I just left the room for a few minutes and rejoined when I felt better. This is all new to me, I am taking each moment as it comes and trying to do my best.

Again, thanks for the beautiful comments you have left. I have been connecting frequently to read everything people have written and feel so positive and loved when I read what you have written. It is great to get some new people visiting my site and I hope that you will continue to visit me - I will be visiting you!

Next week I am on a field trip in Wales with the other 5 people who are on the same Graduate Development programme I am on. It is called "Leadership Essentials" and we will have to complete a series of activities during the week and report on what we have learned. We will also spend a day helping out at a Centre for underprivileged children, which will be amazing. I will take some photos during the week, so that you can see the beautiful scenery where we will be located. It is called The Brecon Beacons and it is classed as a UK outstanding natural beauty spot. As we have some free time, I am going to take a walk on my own some days to gather my thoughts and spend time with Mike, who I feel will be all around me in that stunning location .....

I hope you enjoy your weekend, do some great stitching and look forward to talking with you about my field trip when I return.

Ali xxx