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I was told that I was a special winter baby,but also that it was a long strained birth that my mother endured. My mother told me that she was in labour for around nine hours, before I even started to show signs of coming into this world. I was a late birth, as i was supposed to have arrived on 27th December 1977, but did not surface until Tuesday January 3rd 1978.

It was a cold day on that day, when i popped my head into the world; with the nurses telling my mother that i had a good set of lungs on me, with the amount of screaming that i had been doing. Mother also told me, that as soon as i was born i was placed in her arms; in which my mother could not believe she had given birth to such a big baby. I weighed around ten pounds, and mother was told by the nurses that i was a very healthy strong child; even though I was the biggest baby born at that hospital in a few years.

We lived in a four bedroom Victorian house, which was in a quiet street in Haggerton, London. My father was born in Ramsgate, where my mother was East London born and bred; as she was born in Stepney. The first few years of my life, my mother told me that I was a very good child; as I rarely got on mother’s nerves so I was told, as father often winked at me when mother told me this story. It was only when I started to walk, did mother have to have eyes in the back of her head when I was on the move. Apparently, I was forever going into the cupboards, and made a disarray of things by throwing everything onto the floor, making quite a mess for mother. Every year we had a holiday in Ramsgate, where we visited my father’s parents. My mother’s mother dies when she was twenty years old, and her father remarried and then moved the Essex with his new wife. Her older brother Stephen, had since married a Spanish lady, and then he moved to one of the Spanish islands with her. She still has contact with him, but we never got to see him as much; which was just like her father, even though he was only in Essex and could have easily visited. My uncle Stephen never attended his dad’s wedding, as he was so set against the marriage, which mother explained that it was because he was such a mother’s boy. My father’s parents, looked upon my mother as their own child; always being there for her when she needed help and support, as my dad was their only child. There was nothing that my grandparents would not do for my mother; and you could see just how much she too loved them back. Growing up, mother never really spoke about her mother, but she always had a picture of her on top of the China cabinet; where every birthday and Christmas she would place a rose next to her picture. I did not remember those early holiday years in Ramsgate that clearly, but I do remember when I was about four year’s of age sitting on the beach with my bucket and spade; as my father and mother helped me to build sandcastles. We would go to Ramsgate at the same time every year for two weeks, which was in the industrial holidays of July and August. We would also go down on the odd weekend or so, when my parents managed to get the same days off together.

Father started his working career as a bank clerk, in one of the leading banks in Ramsgate; finally getting a managerial role in one of the company’s banks in London’s East End, where it was there that he met my mother. My mother worked for a busy ladies wear factory, in the financial department; and often would go to the bank to pay in money from her company. It was there not long after mother being seen to regularly depositing money, that my father swept her off her feet, and a few years after they were married I came along; little miss Amanda Daniels. I was told that my father was a very old fashioned man, and he courted mother for about a year before he asked her to marry him. Mother told me that every week without fail, he would bring her a bouquet of flowers; which were her favourite chrysanthemums, as well as sometimes bringing her a box of luxury chocolates. Mother also told me, that at first she thought that my father was not interested in her, as it took him so long to get his act together. It took him just over six months before he even kissed her, and she was beginning to give up on him; as she so longed for that first kiss. Mind you, i knew she was only joking, as i knew my parents were just as much in love now; as they were all those years ago, as every time we are out, they still hold hands, as father looks on like a proud peacock. I just loved those first few years going to my grandparents, and spending time on the beach with them. As well as sitting in the garden playing with my dolls, as I watched grandpa totter around in the garden; where he would stop and pull faces at me which always made me laugh.

I had started mother’s and toddler’s in the September of my fourth year, ready to get prepared for infant and junior school. I loved being in school, as I got to see a lot more children with whom I could play with, without going around to their homes to play; as I used to play with the girl next door called Vicky, who was not always a nice a nice girl.     My mother would not let me go round her house as often as i would have liked too, because one day my mother saw her pulling the wings off butterflies, and pulling the legs off spiders which mother thought was cruel. I did not mind too much however, because I did have friends at school; and I was quiet content playing in the garden with my dolls.

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Baby using inhaler and spacer.

Baby using inhaler and spacer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is so hard living a life with asthma, with medication to help sustain life.

As your lungs close up and tighten, with a pain that cuts like a knife.

As I awake with my lungs very empty, as I reach for an inhaler to breathe

Two puffs of the blue the same with the red, as I now wait to be relieved.

With allergens and dander’s a life’s nightmare, and with aerosols and a world full of dust,

Gives my asthma inconsiderable problems, where medication I know is a must.

No longer can I run or exercise, for I am aware of my asthmatic life,

For the long lonely days that I give in to rest, with medications giving me strife.

As I sit in my window watching others play, and come back

From the earliest of morning, and most of the day,

As for me I make sure my inhalers are ready

In case of that dreaded asthma attack.

Of the days that are too bad, I get steroids to take

And for me to battle on each and every day,

With antibiotics to help my body awake

In a lifestyle of inhalers, that’s my road and my way.

With the wheezing and breathing taking its toll on my day

As I hold my hands tightly, where on knees I do pray,

For my day to go smoothly and for medications to kick in

As I see my friends playing in a game I can’t join in.

But I am lucky in having no wires to plug in

Of oxygen masks or further battles to begin

As I just rely on the thing I know best

And not over exhort my body, but give it some rest.

So now to my bed with one final will,

That my asthma relaxes, with my nightly breathing pill

And to gives me the strength to get me through this long night,

And hope that my asthma

Will give up its fight.

 

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Trick or Treating 2007

Trick or Treating 2007 (Photo credit: jamesfleeting)

Halloween is upon us,

 

go search for your broom,

 

Dress up in the witching hour

 

Excite in the full moon.

 

With goblins and ghouls that are plenty

 

Which come in all shapes and all forms?

 

With bobbing apples and candy pops

 

Where children loosen candy corn.

 

With let’s go trick or treating

 

On this one special night of the year,

 

To fill up their candy bags a plenty

 

Of madness and Halloween cheer.

 

For this is a night to remember

 

With pictures and movies to make,

 

And making use of this special evening

 

By sneaking sugar sticks in mothers pumpkin cake.

 

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I cannot control what the angels give

A heart to love, a mind to live,

The pleasant company we seek each day

Which keeps on appearing?

And which is put in our way.

The friendly chat with someone who cares,

With open minds, and feelings which dares;

To go beyond mind body and soul

To capture your dreams

And make it your goal.

To feel lost and so lonely

When you are not there,

With heart strings pulling

That shows me you care.

As you lift up my life

And make it so real,

With thoughts that you give

Rather than try to steal.

Where I will open my arms

To tell you it’s fine,

To feel lost and confused

When walking a fine line.

When being together we unite as one

Where shadows and doubt

Have finally gone.

Where together we enjoy

This life that we live,

This just goes to show us

What the angels give.

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English: Beach of Playa del Ingles, general vi...

English: Beach of Playa del Ingles, general view. Gran Canaria, Canary Islands (Spain). Year 2006. Español: Vista general de la playa de Playa del Inglés. Gran Canaria, Islas Canarias (España). Año 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May 2nd 2011 was the date of my first holiday in over 5 years.

I had booked the holiday the year before, giving me plenty of time to save for a well-earned break. As we do not get the real nice hot sun in the UK, my idea was to go somewhere that is not too hot for the time of year, and not so far from home.

It was a 4 hour flight from Gatwick airport, and it was an early flight.

The day I was travelling, I was very excited as this time I would not be going into an apartment, but booked a villa instead.

There were 3 of us going, and it would be a holiday we all deserved. I was so glad the flight was over as I really do not like flying, as after a few hours I get bored and fidgety.

At arriving at Las Palmas airport, we made our way to the hire car station. This was included in the booking of the villa, so no need for reps to keep hounding you to take up their sightseeing tours.

When we finally arrived at the villa, it was more than I could have imagined. The villa was totally beautiful and quiet, in the peaceful resort of Maspalomas. It had the basics in a kitchen. Both bedrooms had their own en-suite, and I felt like a king.

I decided to go to Maspalomas for the peace and quiet, and for the fact it was nearer the beaches and dunes. It was only a short journey into the main centre of Playa del Ingles, where the nightlife was full of everything you wanted. From restaurants to bars, family ones as well as the most famous gay drag bars. Though I did not plan to go out every night, the cabaret bars kept calling, which made for a very entertaining evening, making a few friends on the way. The restaurants were excellent, esp. the larger family run eating houses, but you have to shop around. Some look completely dodgy i.e. avoids the greasy style burger shops and go to a decent restaurant. Meals were anything from €6, and the Chinese style eat as much as you like for €10 was excellent value. The taxi fare from our villa to playa Del ingles was in the region of €3 to €4 so it would definitely not break the bank.

For relaxation we stayed by the pool during the day, before venturing to the famous beaches. Like a fool, I thought it would be far easier to walk along the dunes, only to find that the sun was so hot on the sand I burnt all my feet and toes. Upon reaching the beaches, the sea was far warmer than the pool at the villa.

Dunas de Mapalomas

Dunas de Mapalomas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We did eat at the villa too, as they had the basic in cooking, but what we found nice was the built in bbq area. And the two spaces in which you could eat.  You had the dining room indoors if it got chilly, then you could eat outdoors in the patio lounge area if it were warmer.

We also made our own excursions, and by having a hire care we went up in to the mountains, to a hideaway paradise. Palmatos Park, a visit that I feel everyone should go to. Either on your own steam or with a tour rep plus for €20 you get a chance to have your picture taken with the dolphins, or some lucky children are picked to swim with them.

Should you have children, and then I would recommend water world or Water Park which is on the way to Palmatos Park, as it is a fun day just for the children, with a chance for them to swim with sea lions. The tour rep only came to see you once, which was nice as she left you to have a holiday. She left as brochure of tours and her number should we have problems. It was far better than my last experience when the reps kept hounding you to hand over your money, for rubbish tours.

7 days was not enough, as I was soon to come back home to the UK. The island captured me, as well as the Canarian people. I found them all to be very friendly and helpful; and what with the locals and the bar and restaurant folk. It all captured my heart.

It is one of the Canary Islands I would most definitely visit again, and I would certainly recommend it. If you are a person or people who do not want the hustle and bustle of apartments or the nightlife. Then Maspalomas is definitely the place to go. And Villa Maria is definitely a villa I would choose again and again.

A most relaxed and enjoyable holiday, leaving the hassle of the UK behind

Next time why not book a villa as I did, it is not that much more expensive than an apartment or hotel.

Plaza de Maspalomas in Playa del Ingles

Plaza de Maspalomas in Playa del Ingles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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across the mighty hackensack to newark/ njtpk

across the mighty hackensack to newark/ njtpk (Photo credit: pwbaker)

The year was 1998, and this would be my first vacation alone.

 

I was 38 years old and had promised myself from a young teen, that I would visit America before I was 40.

 

I had been writing to my American pen friend for just over a year, when I was invited to stay.

 

I had got this guys name from a local magazine for incarcerated men, looking for pen friends.

 

That should have told me something, but I was immature and naive.

 

That following year I saved as hard as I could to get my flight from the UK to Florida.

 

Upon booking my flight, I could not get a direct one so had to change in Newark NY and wait four hours for my connecting flight.

 

That year went so slow, but eventually the day arrived when I was flying out of the UK to America, this was definitely a dream come true.

 

I arrived eagerly at the airport and waited for my flight to be called out. I was flying with Continental Airways.

Continental Airways Tu-154M.

Continental Airways Tu-154M. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I boarded the plane, and waited until we were ready to take off. Settling into my seat and preparing myself for the long flight ahead.

 

Upon arriving at Newark, I made my way through passport control, and then through to security where I could wait for my connection.

 

My hand luggage was scanned and all was fine, then as I went through the security barriers I set off all of the alarms.

 

The security guard asked me to go back through, and to take off any jewellery or metal that I had on me and try again.

 

It was not until the fourth attempt I realised I had a belt around my trousers that had a metal buckle. I mentioned this to the security guard but he would not have it. He frisked me and used the metal detecting rod over my body. I once again told him that I thought it was my belt and it would be a good idea for me to take it off. After some persuasion and by now a group of people watching, I was anxious, scared and just wanted to go home.

 

The security manager came over, and I explained to him what I think may be the problem. Having had my bags searched a numerous amounts of time, and now all I could think about was this stupid belt of mine. Finally I was allowed to take it off and let it slip through the scanner where my bag went. I then proceeded through the security gate without a glitch. I was so relieved. I had spent just over an hour trying to get through, and I was very worried about my connecting flight. Surely nothing more could go wrong today?

 

After a further three hours , I made the connecting flight to Jacksonville, where my pen friends brother in law would be waiting for me.

 

After arriving in Jacksonville I hurried through the airport, making sure I did not have my belt around my waist. I did not want to go through the same thing I did in Newark.

 

Everything was fine, so I made my way into the airport and looked for the guy who would take me to his home.

 

I did pass him once or twice and thought ‘No this cant be him, he looks a bit rough looking’

 

After he looked me up and down a few times he called my name and then we shook hands and made our way to his home.

 

Could things get any worse? Boy did they.

 

We had about a 2 hour drive to where he lived with my pen pals sister, and all I had was him drinking beer and smoking some funny kind of cigarette.

 

He offered me both, but I declined and made for my bottle of coke I had purchased in the airport.

 

Finally we got to his home. It was dark so I could not see much apart from a few Christmas lights around the porch.

 

I thought it looked very quaint, and very American, as we are only just following our American friends by decorating the outside of our houses.

 

The biggest blow would come the next day, when I had had a good nights sleep, and woke up refreshed.

Jacksonville Skyline

Jacksonville Skyline (Photo credit: Areopagus)

When I got up, Terry had gone to work, leaving me with his wife who was getting the children ready for school. I had my coffee and went onto the porch to drink it. Then it hit me.

 

I was in the middle of nowhere in what seemed to be two trailers put together and a make shift porch. There was junk all around the garden, and not a person to be seen.

 

I gave his wife $200 for allowing me to stay, and I thought this would help her out. She was thankful for what I gave her, but gave most of it to her husband.

 

I was then told that I had to buy my own food, as they cannot afford to look after me.

 

It did not matter that I had just given them $200, they were very adamant that I look after myself.

 

I spent the next week trying to be humble and socialise, but all Terry wanted was to drink, and smoke his weed. Many times I declined, but it did not matter, I still inhaled his fumes.

 

A few days later he took me to his place of work, which again was about a 2 hour journey.

 

When we arrived he told me to have a look around and explore as he would not be long. He gave me what I thought was a normal cigarette to keep me going. I left him as he went into work, where I walked the streets, taking in some of the beautiful homes on the way.

 

I sat down on a bench admiring the houses, as I lit my cigarette. Next thing I knew I couldn’t feel my legs and my head was ready to explode. He had given me one of his other cigarettes.

 

Just as I was trying to walk it off, I saw a Police patrol car to my right. All I could think of was please do not stop me, all I want to do is get back to where Terry works and give him a piece of my mind.

 

Then reality stepped in. I saw the law enforcement officer, I looked at him and froze. This is the first time I had been so close to an officer of the law with a gun. Not having a gun culture here in England, and then being confronted with it was a very scary ordeal in itself.

 

I gave the officer a polite smile and a nod of the head, with a greeting of Good Morning, where I then proceeded to the building where Terry was.

 

My heart was pounding, I was scared beyond belief.

 

Finally I managed to walk off the effects of the weed and I sat outside of the place where terry worked. By mid day he had finished and he drove us back home.

 

I felt I was in a world that I could not control, I was in Terry’s world of drink and drugs, and I was to scared to say anything.

 

He told me if I liked the cigarette he gave me, where I then ripped into him and called him all the inconsiderate names I could think of.

 

‘‘It was the bud dude’ he said. “You will not get anything stronger”

 

I once again had a go at him, and told him that he had no concerns about me, and what would have happened if the police officer had stopped me. I was in a strange country, with not a clue where I was, and no passport or id.

 

It did not seem to matter to him. He just laughed at me and said “You English people are funny”

 

I put up with this for a few days more until I had really had enough. I finally picked up the courage to tell him that he has to drive me back to Jacksonville, where I can book into a motel before flying back home.

 

My ten days were full of enduring weed and alcohol and Jerry Springer. All three were 24/7

 

After about 5 days, I went to visit my pen friend in prison. I was drove there by terry and his wife, and then just left at the prison gates in Marrion County. I nervously entered the prison, showing my id and visitors receipt. I then was taken into a room, frisked and strip searched. I thought to myself who is the prisoner here? It was another experience I would not like to try.

 

Having finally got through the security, i made my way to the visitors lounge, and waited for my friend to arrive. Upon him coming through, he greeted me, but then his demeanour changed. He was not like the guy I had been writing to. He was very distant and was only interested in how much of a western union cheque I had left with the guards.

 

It was then that I knew I had been played. My whole reason for coming over to visit him, was to see how much he could get out of me.

 

I will not say that all prisoners are like that, but I had obviously been scammed. The few hours I had with him went by so slowly, and I often avoided the question of money. He kept telling me of how he was innocent of his drug charge, which was news to me, as in prior letters he was in there for outstanding traffic offences.

 

Finally after a few hours, I told him that I was leaving, that I could not afford the amount of money he was asking. But as I was still very frightened in an environment i had never been in before. I told him I would see what I could do when I got home.

 

I looked at the guard, then made it clear to him that I wanted to leave.

 

I stayed out in the car park a further 2 hours before being picked up. How could I have been so naive, so stupid, and allowed myself to be played. I am usually a very cautious person.

 

On the journey back into Jacksonville, I thought my life would be over there and then. Terry was as high as a kite. I had the window open so that I may get some fresh air. There was a large tanker coming towards us as Terry had to swerve to miss hitting it. I was sitting there in horror praying that my life will be spared.

 

Finally he dropped me off at a motel near the airport, where I checked in, and the owner gave me a set of keys.

 

Terry asked me if I wanted some company, and a few beers and smokes, and I just told him ‘NO’

 

I really had had enough, and just wanted some me time.

 

I closed the door behind me, closed the curtains and fell onto the bed in a flood of tears.

 

I have just been hijacked these past ten days by the Beverley Hillbillies, was the only thoughts I had in my head.

 

I locked myself in the apt only going out to get some food supplies, and not answering the door to anyone.

 

I would stay in that room a further 3 days, frightened and alone.

 

On the day of my flight, I arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare.

 

I did a little bit of shopping for souvenirs for the family, and then waited for my flight back home.

 

Again it would be a flight to Newark, then my connecting flight back to the UK.

 

Yes I had experienced a bad vacation, from a couple of rednecks.

 

The only thing good to come out of this was the fact, the people at the bank, where I had to change my travellers cheques, and the people at the airport and motel were very friendly and where what I would class as decent folk.

 

Upon my return home, I gathered my thoughts and wrote down my experiences. I also told him that I would no longer be writing to him again, as It was friends I was looking for. I was not in a position to keep sending money overseas. I never ever heard from him again, neither did I hear from his family.

 

I have not been back to America since.

 

Has it put me off.

 

No, I call it an experience of life, one bad person does not reflect or justify the whole population.

 

I found on the whole, that the American people are a friendly nation, and a warm loving and understanding nation. I will revisit one day, as I will not let myself be put in a situation like I was on this vacation.

 

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