Archive for the 'Adventures' Category

Loving connections…

A lovely friend and I sat on a farmhouse balcony and shared afternoon tea today and this was our view.

I attended a routine hospital appointment this afternoon and she insisted on giving me a lift. The phone call with that offer was hilarious, as I initially resisted her kind suggestion. Why do we do that ‘No, it’s alright I can manage’ thing when anyone tries to be kind! It’s nuts. Anyway, mid conversation, as I was resisting, this was her deciding line:

‘Please do not deprive me of your company. I have missed you and it will be lovely to have a catch-up and I need to go there anyway to check on where things are when I have my appointment next month.’

I responded with ‘That is the most sophisticated emotional blackmail I have heard for some time.’

Much laughter followed, which set the theme for this afternoon.

We drove straight there, parked with ease, found the required hospital section and I was called in right away. Marvellous.

Then we walked out and turned left instead of right, talking nineteen to the dozen and completely oblivious to our error. As we walked out of the exit door we faced a car park we didn’t recognise.

‘This isn’t car park G’ my lovely friend said.

‘I am deeply impressed that you remember which ‘letter’ car park we are in’ I replied.

Several corridors, exits and different car park views later, we admitted we were lost. Various staff members were unable to help us either.

It was a comedy of errors and finally (and I do mean some time later) another nurse tried to help us. Suddenly I recalled that I had tucked the hospital letter and a map into my handbag. It is a testimony to my friend’s love, that she didn’t clock me one as I produced it.

We found our way and left two nurses shaking their heads at us, thinking goodness knows what, as we went to the farmhouse nearby and had afternoon tea to recover.

As we sat nattering on the balcony, looking out at the view, we both agreed that the love and understanding that our group share (there are a few of us) is a gift, liberally sprinkled with shared laughter. ❤

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Life’s alms……

I am sitting at my desk brain deep in a ‘techie’ project this afternoon and struggling to find focus. It’s tipping down with rain out there and I glanced up to see two dogs legging it along the beach. As their joyful barking floated up to my window, I paused to watch them and then stopped what I was doing to dip into my own joy with writing.

Georgie and I have just returned from a holiday in Lisbon and my goodness, he gifted us so much more than a break away.

We discovered that we holiday in the same way and Lisbon was a delight to flow through for a while. From the ancient castle, winding little streets, monuments, churches and medieval tower to watching the surfers ride the Atlantic waves, where we joined them late each afternoon splashing about in the water. The whole place has an air of calm about it which we pottered through nattering and giggling together. Before we went we discussed having a plan and ended up with no plan. Simply starting each day on our balcony looking out to sea with a ‘What do you fancy doing?’ So many memories made. ❤

On Sunday Georgie and his family had an adventure day in the Lake District, which I was invited to and laughingly declined, as the hard hats and wet suits were a giveaway for me on what was involved. Now if it had been a writer’s retreat I would have been there like a shot. This is my favourite pic from Sunday. Go Georgie, go……

Monday night found us in Manchester Cathedral watching my lovely brother play in the group Lamb. Many hugs, grins, catch-up’s and singing songs from across the years of watching Lamb play, while Georgie and I lent against each other when we could.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin

I am delighted to be hosting a guest spot for the lovely Sally Cronin in her ‘Odd Jobs and Characters’ series of wonderful stories. Sally is a thoughtful and generous fellow blogger who spends a lot of her time promoting and supporting others. Please pop over to Sally’s blog and pay her a visit.

Sally Cronin – Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

My thanks to Jane for inviting me to share the ongoing saga of my quirky jobs that I have enjoyed over the years and I hope you enjoy this episode.

Odd Jobs and Characters – Fashion Department Manager and Shop Lifters by Sally Cronin

After six months of sheep farming in Dolgellau, we returned to Liverpool to live. I needed to get back into full time employment if we were to save our deposit for our own home. David continued to go back and forth to Wales a couple of days a week, but we were now officially city dwellers.

David already had a flat that he rented, but his landlady told us that we would have to leave as it was single occupancy only. What she really meant was single sex occupancy, as she didn’t have a problem with the two girls living together in the top flat. But she assumed no doubt that the first thing we would do is to have a baby. Anyway, we were not going to argue, although there was nothing in the lease to indicate this condition of tenancy.

We found a flat in Tuebrook, which is a suburb of Liverpool, and closer to the city centre where I was applying for jobs. At this time we were pretty broke and the flat had seen better days. The fact that the corner shop protected its assistants behind security bars, should have been an indication of what we might expect. However, we reckoned that with me working we could be out of there in a year. Our lady was Chinese and charming, collecting the rent each Friday and also emptying the electric meter that we were convinced was rigged. It ate two shilling pieces as though they were chocolate buttons, and I was paranoid about running out of coins with us being plunged into darkness. Anyway, I always knew when she was coming up the bare uncarpeted stairs, as she had a wooden leg which was a bit of a giveaway.

I attended a couple of interviews and was offered the position of manager for an expensive women’s fashion brand, which rented space in a large department store in the city centre. I was only 27 and found myself responsible for a team that had been holding the fort for longer than I have been alive. Still they were very welcoming and happy to show me the ropes, although one aspect of the job I had not expected, was to be the only one young enough to chase shop lifters. If you have read my story of my first job along the seafront, you will know that this was actually listed as one of my skills!

Every three months we would receive the new season’s clothing range. This included skirts, tops, jackets, suits, dresses and coats that were the favourites of the shorter, middle-aged woman. They were classy, and we sold many outfits for the mothers of both bride and groom, and for the 1980s, they were quite expensive. This made them very popular with another kind of customer; the ones who were more interested in not paying anything for them.

There were a number of ways that our clothes were liberated from their hangers without detection. For example, a young mother with a child in a pushchair, would wend her way through the rails and then walk away seemingly empty handed. Except that the child in the push chair would somehow be now hanging over the front bars with its bum in the air. You have to be quick to grab a jacket off a hanger, fold it and tuck it under your baby or behind it.

Another way to shoplift merchandise required the assistance of the escalator up to the next floor. In their wisdom, the shop fitters had placed two rails along the wall beneath the escalator to hold jackets and suits. Three young males would get on the escalator with a couple of steps between them. The middle one would duck down, as the one at the back would grab a hanger with a suit on, throwing it to him to stuff in a black bin bag; the one in front acted as look out. Give them their due, they were well practiced at the manoeuvre; blink and you missed it.

Every morning the team and I would conduct a stocktake of the garments on the racks and shelves, and again at the end of the day. We would then compare this against incoming stock and items sold. If there was a discrepancy, we would double check, but it usually meant we had been robbed.

You only lost so many items before head office was on your case, so we had to become smarter that the thieves, as we were sustaining quite big losses. The team would split up in the department; only one person would take payment for sold items at the cash desk, leaving as many staff on the floor as possible at all times. Women with babies in pushchairs were greeted and escorted until they left the department. Despite this increased vigilance we were still losing more items than we should. Until one day, when I was helping a lady on with a spring coat, and happened to look up to see three stooges on the escalator, helping themselves to one of the new suits.

With a rapid ‘excuse me’ to my customer; leaving her in the capable hands of one of my team. I legged it over to the escalator, running up the steps behind the thieves, who were busily stuffing my expensive suit into their bin bag. I think possibly it was my colourful language that alerted them to their pursuer, and they all turned to stare down at me as they reached the top of the moving staircase. By this time I was almost upon them, and as a distraction they threw the bag with its stolen suit at me. I caught it deftly, throwing it in turn to a member of store staff, approaching to see what the kerfuffle was about.

The lads rushed over and leapt onto the descending escalator, taking the steps two at a time. They were daft if they thought I was giving up. I shot after them and down the next escalator to the ground floor. They had to cross the expanse of the cosmetic department to make it to the outside and safety, but looking around, I couldn’t see any of the security staff to call on for assistance.

The customers who were busy shopping, looked up to see these three itinerants making their escape, pushing through the crowd, and also at an obviously irritated woman giving chase. I decided to make best use of the audience, and proceeded to announce in a loud voice that I was chasing shoplifters. The crowd began to laugh as the boys finally reached the exit, pushing through the swing doors with much blasphemy and red faces. What was quite interesting, was with my announcement, several other customers made for the exits hastily!

I turned to find three store detectives standing behind me; arms crossed and disapproving looks on their faces. Apparently they wouldn’t apprehend groups of thieves, as they were usually armed with knives. My adrenaline was still up and I gave them a piece of my mind; after all it was not their jobs on the line when stock went missing. I approached the escalator to head up to the first floor and my department, only to find the general manager of the store at the top, waiting for me; also with his arms crossed.

Anyway, I of course was told off, mainly because for fears for my safety, but also for telling the customers we had a shop lifting problem. However, I did get the fixture changed next to the escalator by getting rid of the top rail, and word must have got around about the mad woman, as thefts from our department dropped dramatically.

Thank you again Jane for sharing this with your readers, I am very grateful.
All the previous posts in the series can be found in this directory with links to my host’s blog Sally Cronin – Odd Jobs and Characters

About Sally Cronin:

My name is Sally Cronin and after working in a number of industries for over 25 years, I decided that I wanted to pursue a completely different career, one that I had always been fascinated with. I began studying Nutrition and the human body twenty years ago and I opened my first diet advisory centre in Ireland in 1998. Over the last 18 years I have practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as written columns, articles and radio programmes on health and nutrition.

I published my first book with a Canadian self-publisher in the late 90s and since then have republished that book and released ten others as part of our own self-publishing company. Apart from health I also enjoy writing fiction in the form of novels and short stories.

My latest book – What’s in a Name? – Volume Two.

Our legacy is not always about money or fame, but rather in the way that people remember our name after we have gone. In these sixteen short stories we discover the reasons why special men and women will stay in the hearts and minds of those who have met them. Romance, revenge and sacrifice all play their part in the lives of these characters. Kenneth watches the love of his life dance on New Year’s Eve while Lily plants very special flowers every spring for her father. Martha helps out a work colleague as Norman steps back out into the world to make a difference. Owen brings light into a house and Patrick risks his life in the skies over Britain and holds back from telling a beautiful redhead that he loves her.

My other books:

All books are available Amazon author page: Sally Cronin – Amazon

You can connect to Sally
Blog: Sally Cronin – Smorgasbord Invitation Blog
Twitter: Sally Cronin – Twitter
Facebook: Sally Cronin – Facebook

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Home is in my heart…

This sea glass started life as bottles broken by rocks, then tumbled by sea and tide until the edges were smoothed and the surfaces completely frosted.

Thus far I have lived in over fifty homes, across three continents and a fair number of countries. Self-protection stopped me counting after fifty and I went quiet on my nomadic lifestyle due to people’s reactions. ‘Oh, you never stick at anything.’ ‘You never stay in one place long.’ ‘What’s the matter with you?’ etc., etc….

The interesting thing is that no matter how sharp the experience, or how painful the lesson, I know deep inside that I have the ability to stand up again. Sometimes I have to rest a fair while before I muster the energy though.

There’s a book in this…now there’s a thought. ❤

I was sitting at my desk working yesterday, looking out at the water, and a colourful butterfly landed on the wall outside my window. He rested there for about half an hour and we kept each other company, as mother nature shared her beauty and he basked in the warmth from the bricks.

In April this year I attended a writer’s workshop in Liverpool run by the kind and inspiring Fred D’Aguiar. He was over visiting from The States and he gifted us his time and experience. I loved every second of being in his energy. There were about thirty souls there and Fred had asked us all to bring in something that was important to us (preferably not alive). I took my sea glass. He wove this into an exercise where everyone’s treasures were passed around and we had a few minutes to write about each piece in front of us.

When we had finished Fred asked ‘What were you doing Jane?’, because he’d noticed that I had held each piece in my hand, closed my eyes and then let words flow onto paper.

I replied ‘I was feeling the energy in each piece of treasure and writing what I felt from that.’

Fred smiled ‘What is your treasure about Jane?’

‘It is sea glass from the beach in front of my home. I am like the sea glass Fred, I don’t belong anywhere, yet I can live everywhere. My home is in my heart and all the treasured connections with the souls that I love are held there.’

He held my gaze and said ‘I understand Jane. That is me.’

“A ship in harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd.

My lovely friend Bobbie shared this quote a few hours ago and it crystalised a whole tumble of thoughts and feelings within me. We are not built to stay in our ‘harbours’ as nothing will change. We all need rest sometimes, but that place can become a trap because we resist change so we feel safe.

When we first have a thought on something new we can do, it is pure in that initial moment. As time goes on we add our own fears, opinions and thoughts of consequences if we go ahead. If we share it with others, then their fears, opinions and ‘what if’s’ come into play too. What a weight to add to an idea.

We can all be heard to say ‘Life is short’, but they are just words unless action is taken. Nothing will change without change and we are built for change.

I am ready to change what I do for a living and several ideas have been floating around and one has taken root in my heart. It’s been an interesting life so far and I have had a go at a number of things that may, or may not, be seen as ‘successful’ by the measuring sticks that some use in our modern world. I have learned a lot and it has honed me into the flexible, resilient soul that I am, who chooses each day to feel life through a loving heart. Whatever this choice may bring forth, I’ll give it my best and who knows what sea it will sail me into.

Yorkston Thorne Khan live at Latitude

❤ My lovely brother Jon Thorne with his special buddies James and Suhail ❤

the sound and the fury

I first saw Yorkston Thorne Khan a year or two ago at the Great Escape festival. Their short show was a peculiar mixture of all their backgrounds and influences. I enjoyed everything they did, but when they finished with Sufi Song my eyes filled with tears and I was genuinely transported.

Yorkston Thorne Khan are a strange group. Superficially they seem to have little in common, but they clearly enjoy each other’s company enough to tour for a couple of years, record two albums, and keep producing surprising and beautiful music together. And they’re relaxed, confident, capable and utterly charming.

Suhail Yusuf Khan’s stunningly powerful voice and ethereal sarangi bring a heady exoticism to the acoustic guitar and double bass of Folk legend James Yorkston and peripatetic jazz bassist Jon Thorne, but they share everything equally, and never try to overpower each other. This music doesn’t need percussion to find…

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Reflections in a moment…….

All day on Friday I was looking at the stern of a ship docked at The Pierhead and as she turned to leave the ‘penny dropped’. With her horn playing ‘Wish upon a star’ and the outline of Mickey’s ears on her funnels; she is the Disney cruise ship.

She visited Liverpool a year ago and I went down to the seaside at the end of the street to watch her depart. It had been a lovely day and the beach was packed with happy people. A Mum needed to see to her two young sons making sandcastles and she turned to me smiling and asked if I could hold her new babe while she did what she needed to do. I stood there rocking her little one, listening to children’s excited chatter as Goofy and Mickey waved to them from the ship to the notes of ‘Wish upon a star’.

A year has gone by in a blink. Back then I did not know that I would be standing in my ‘happy bubble’ watching her leave this time from my front room window. That my work would have expanded and evolved, or that my life would have put down some deep loving roots in this place I chose as my home.

I am glad I didn’t know, as I stayed in the moment. I don’t want to know the future now thank you. This moment is a balanced place to be and the treasure in it is love for life as it flows.


Jane Sturgeon

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