Thursday 24 July 2014


This is recent call I received. I kid you not!

"Am I speaking to Ann C.......?"
"Yes, may I ask whose calling?"
"This is Choice Catalogue, how are you?"
"How am I?"
"Yes, how are you?
"Ummm -  I'm OK - what are you calling me for?"
"Before I can tell you that I just need you to confirm your postcode so that I know I'm talking to the right person"
"But you are calling me.. why do I need to prove who I am when your the one that's calling ?"
 "Because you could be anyone.."
 "But you just called me!"
"And this is the number you have taken from my account details which you have there ?"
" O.K. so you called and asked for me by name and I confirmed that it was me ?"
" Yes that's right "
"And asked if I was OK. ?
"Yes "
"And now I have to prove who I am to you before you can go ahead and try to sell me what exactly ?"
" I'm afraid I can't discuss that with you unless I can confirm who I'm talking to.........."

You couldn't make this up if you tried.......

Monday 21 July 2014


We sang this in Church yesterday and I absolutely love it.  This is who I aspire to be, but have been known to sometimes fall abysmally short!   If only we could all be this way think what a wonderful place this world would be.
Brother, sister, let me serve you,
 let me be as Christ to you;
 pray that I may have the grace to
 let you be my servant too.
 We are pilgrims on a journey,
 and companions on the road;
 we are here to help each other
 walk the mile and bear the load.
 I will hold the Christ-light for you
 in the night-time of your fear;
 I will hold my hand out to you,
 speak the peace you long to hear.
 I will weep when you are weeping;
 when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
 I will share your joy and sorrow
 till we’ve seen this journey through.
 When we sing to God in heaven
 we shall find such harmony,
 born of all we’ve known together
 of Christ’s love and agony.
 Brother, sister, let me serve you,
 let me be as Christ to you;
 pray that I may have the grace to
 let you be my servant too. 
I certainly didn't feel like this on Saturday when I was trying to sort out my bank account.  My bank has been "acquired" by another bank which, over the past few weeks, has sent me scholes of instructions on what would happen and the procedure for accessing on-line banking. 
So, I tried to follow the instructions on Friday, managed to lock myself out of the card reader, tried to seek advice over the "phone, and after wading through all the "options" found out I wasn't registered for telephone banking.  Tell me something that I don't know you twerp. I eventually ran out of patients and very nearly life!
Saturday morning, bright and breezy I woke up determined to crack the problem.  I started the process at 9 am and by lunch time I was bemused, befuddled and bewildered having spoken to several delightful young call centre staff who "weren't trained" to help me with my problem.  Eventually I was told that my call was being transferred to someone that could help. 
Before I could explain the problem this person started off by saying "type in your 4 digit pin, etc. etc."  I tried to stop her at this stage to say that not only was my pin 5 digits long, but by this stage I was actually locked out of everything.  She was obviously reading from a script and couldn't deviate long enough to listen to me. 
Much to my embarrassment I ended up shouting at her.  She paused, "No 4 digit pin?" "No"  "But you were sent one" "I wasn't" "Are you sure?" "YES!" "Well in that case we will have to send you another one, it will take about 5 days to reach you" by this time I was totally deflated "OK"  "Someone will call you to discuss this further because we can't unlock your card reader from here, you will have to go to the nearest branch of this bank and follow the instructions on the screen".  And, I must admit, it was not my finest hour when I slammed the 'phone down yelling "WHATEVER!"
I then waited for the 'phone call.  None came.  Wait a minute, let's think about this.  "Calm down" I told myself "check through all the stuff they sent".  And do you know what, there it was, the 4 digit pin! Drat!  The 5 digit pin was for telephone banking!  WHAT?!
Now the problem became different - if I didn't hurry they would cancel my newly found pin, so I dashed to the bank, unlocked my card reader, hurried home and hey presto, I now have on-line access again.  Whew.  All's right with the world again.
Technology makes life so much easier doesn't it?

Saturday 21 June 2014


Q:   Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can  prolong  life.  Is this true?
A:  Heart  only good for so many beats, and that it... Don't  waste  on exercise.  Everything wear out  eventually.   Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it  like  saying you extend life of car by driving faster.    Want to live longer?  Take nap.

Q: Should  I reduce  my alcohol  intake?
A:  Oh   no.  Wine made from fruit.  Brandy distilled  wine, that  mean they take water out of fruity bit so you  get even more of  goodness that way.  Beer also made  of grain.  Bottom  up!

Q: How can I  calculate my body/fat ratio?

A:  Well, if  you have body and you have fat, your ratio one to   one.  If you have two body, your ratio two to   one.

Q: What are some of the advantages of  participating  in a regular exercise  program?

A: Can't think of single  one,  sorry.  My philosophy: No  pain...good!  

Q:   Aren't fried  foods bad for  you?
A:  YOU  NOT  LISTENING!  Food fried in vegetable oil.  How   getting more vegetable be  bad?

  :   Will  sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft   around the middle?
A:  Oh no!   When you exercise  muscle, it get bigger.  You  should only be doing sit-up if  you want bigger  stomach. 

Q:  Is chocolate  bad  for me? 

A:  You crazy?!?    HEL-LO-O!!  Cocoa bean!  Another  vegetable!  It  best feel-good food  around!

Q:  Is swimming good  for your  figure?

A:  If swimming good for   figure, explain whale to me.

Q:  Is  getting in  shape important for my  lifestyle? 

A:   Hey!   'Round' is shape!

Well... I hope this has  cleared  up any misconceptions you may have had about food  and  diets.

And  remember: 

Life   should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention  of  arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved  body, but  rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one  hand - chocolate in  the other - body thoroughly used up,  totally worn out and  screaming "WOO-HOO, what a  ride!!"


For   those of you who watch  what you eat, here's the final  word on nutrition and health.   It's a relief to  know the truth after all those conflicting  nutritional  studies.   

1. The  Japanese  eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks  than  Australians.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat  and  suffer fewer heart attacks than Australians.

3.  The  Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer   heart attacks than Australians.

4. The Italians  drink a lot  of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks  than  Australians... 

5. The Germans  drink a lot of beer  and eat lots of sausages and fats  and suffer fewer heart attacks  than  Australians.

CONCLUSION:  Eat  and  drink what you  like.   Speaking English is   apparently what kills you.


Thursday 12 June 2014


Homographs are words of like spelling but with more than one meaning.
A  homograph that is also pronounced differently is a  heteronym.

1)  The bandage was wound around the  wound
2) The farm was used to  produce produce
3)  The dump was so full that it had to refuse more  refuse.
4)  We must polish the Polish  furniture
5) He could lead if  he would get the lead out
6) The soldier  decided to desert his dessert in the  desert
7) Since there is no time like  the present, he thought it was time to  present the present
 8)  A bass was painted on the head of the bass  drum
9) When shot at, the dove dove  into the bushes.
10) I did not object  to the object
11)  The insurance was invalid for the  invalid
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row 
13) They were too close  to the door to close it 
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present
15)  A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a  sewer line
16) To help with planting,  the farmer taught his sow to  sow
17) The wind was too  strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing  the tear in the painting I shed a  tear
19) I had to subject  the subject to a series of  tests. 
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let's  face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in  eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in  pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or  French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while  sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are animal organs. We take English for  granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that  quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a  guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. 
And  why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers  don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is  teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2  geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it  seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you  have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of  them, what do you call it? 
If teachers taught, why  didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables,  what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the  English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the  verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play  and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim  chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a  wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique  lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it  burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on. 
English was  invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the  creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race  at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible,  but when the lights are out, they are invisible. 
PS. -  Why doesn't 'Buick' rhyme with 'quick'?

Monday 9 June 2014


To continue, post six and the last of the series. If you have read the previous five posts I have described how I had a “spiritual awakening”, how that affected me and what happened as the result of it. 

After the initial impact I had three months of what I can only describe as absolute blissful peace.  We still had major emotional and financial problems but nothing seemed to touch me.  Could this have been what is known as "Grace of God?” I don’t know, but it felt good. 

Unfortunately it didn’t last forever, but by this time I had the means of dealing with my situation.  It was, to say the least, a very exciting time with many unexplained things happening, one of which was that Davy and I had become concerned about our very dear friend Steve who was becoming fascinated with some of the fringe "ism" groups. I had “coincidentally” recently bought a book on “cults & isms”.  We decided to give this to him and his wife, along with my cherished Bible. 

Giving my Bible away was a great wrench for me but we figured that their need was greater than ours.  When we arrived home that evening, lo and behold, there was a parcel on our door step.  In it was a wedding present from two of the ladies at the church.  A Bible!  Another "coincidence"!? 

The upshot of this is that our friends became Christians soon after attending our wedding at Millmead and Steve then went on to become a great charismatic influencer with a tremendous gift for service. 

Fast forward four years.  Many, many other unexplainable things happened, however, these stories are not about me and, therefore, not mine to tell.  The bottom line is that my time at Millmead was about to come to an end.  Davy’s mother was terminally ill with cancer and we decided to move to Lincolnshire so that we could be near her in her final days. 

The downside of leaving such an inspirational church is that other churches, particularly the few I tried in rural Lincolnshire, felt like spiritual desserts.  I came out feeling worse than when I went in so I spent next 26 years doing my own thing! And, I might add, not very successfully!

A couple of years ago I started getting agitated about this and set off to look for an Alpha Course.  Unfortunately I had just missed one, and was introduced to some of the people that had been on it.  I asked if there were any “lively” churches in the area and was recommended three, St George’s in Stamford, the Community Church in Peterborough and Holy Trinity in Boston.

I tried St George’s and loved it, but it’s about 30 miles from where I live and felt the need to find a church more local to me so I tried Holy Trinity which is only 10 miles away. 

It was Mothering Sunday and as soon as I walked in I felt that I belonged.  During the service Simon, the minister, asked the young people to come to the front and collect potted primroses for their mothers. I found this simple act of love profoundly touching and when a young man gave me one too I nearly fell apart!  I hadn't expected that.  In fact I cried.  If the truth be told I’m just an emotion wreck hiding under a gruff exterior, but please keep that to yourself.   

The mystery is - why did I start agitating to find a church at that particular time?  All I can say is that it’s been a particularly difficult year and I believe that I was guided to solid ground to help me to deal with more of life's "challenges"! J  I feel safe now.  In the bosom of a caring community, learning, one day at a time, how to live a richly fulfilling spiritual life. 

Well, that’s my story from there to here and I must say that, one day at a time, here is good.

Monday 2 June 2014


Continuing on from the amazing occurrences I described in my previous four posts documenting my progression from atheism to Christianity, I rushed home and said to Davy “I know what’s wrong with this house! My bible is in the loft. Can you get it down please?”
As I told Davy what had happened I randomly opened the bible and, glancing down to read  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Wow! This totally freaked us out.
Next day Davy had to go to the Builders Merchants and while he was in there I wandered into a Christian Book shop nearby. While I waited for him in the pickup I randomly opened each of the three books I had bought and, believe it or not, the first page I turned to in each book contained this same bible verse.  I was just knocked out - but that wasn’t to be the end.  As I put the last book down I looked up and there was the same verse on a church notice board nearby.  I just flung my arms in the air and said “OK, I get the message”.
Now what?  I immediately felt a great peacewhich transcends all understanding”.  We had a multitude of emotional and financial problems, but suddenly I felt very calm about everything.  Where did that come from?
The next day I started fretting about Pentecost, what was it and when did it happen? I asked Bridie. She asked why I wanted to know, but I had no idea.  I was totally unprepared for the answer she gave me “Did you know that this Sunday is Pentecost?”  I had no idea! This was all too strange. And as an aside, I have just realized that I am writing this the week before Pentecost!
I then found myself wondering where I should go with my newly found faith?   I was sure that I needed to go to church but wanted to go somewhere where I could be nurtured and developed.  I didn’t want anywhere too stuffy, but neither did I want to end up with what I called “over the top nutters”.  I was cautious.
I told Bridie about my bible verse being in the books etc and she recommend that I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boon.  This was the book that had turned her around. 
She had also recently bought a book called “Chasing the Dragon” by Jackie Pullinger a young Christian who had gone to Hong Kong to work among drug addicts, helping them come off herion without withdrawals and “coincidentally” Davy had been trying to help a young addict that worked for him.  One day Bridie ‘phoned me and said “guess what, Jackie Pullinger is over here and speaking at a local school this evening, shall we go and take John with us?
We discussed our plan with John and he agreed that we should go and see her.  After her talk she prayed with him and I told her that I was fascinated by her story.  We had a chat and she said that if I wanted I could catch up with her again the following evening at a place called Millmead in Guildford where she was speaking again. 
When I rocked up at Millmead I thought “Oh no, a Baptist Church”!  I nearly turned around and went home, but was still keen to talk some more with Jackie so I went in.  You can tell that I am not at all bigoted or biased! J
Against all my better instincts I did go into the Church and immediately knew that I was in the right place.  I later found out that the Church had been developed by a renowned preacher and biblical scholar David Pawson.  He had moved on from Millmead the year before, but the legacy that he left behind was just what I needed. 
I eventually had full emersion baptism in that Church and in 1983 Davy and I were married there by Justin Dennison, another inspirational preacher who taught me so much.
If you remember my path had taken me from Sunday School, to sitting along in Churches as a child, to reading the Catherine Marshall book that suddenly appeared in my home. It wasn’t until later that I realized perhaps my real conversion had started with the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I was, and still am, a member of Al-Anon, a fellowship for families and friends of alcoholics.  We follow the same 12th step programme of AA.
The fist 100 members of AA decided to help suffering alcoholics by analysing the steps they had taken to recover and sustain their recovery from alcoholism. 
The 12th step is “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps ….”  BOOM – it suddenly dawned on me that I had followed these steps to the best of my ability for 16 years and slowly my mind had been opened to the possibility of there being a Higher Power who I eventually came to called God. When the time was right he led me to him.  Just as it said on the tin “having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps
And what happened to John? He did come off of heroin without withdrawals and stayed clean for several months.  Unfortunately the lure of the drug pulled him back into addiction again from which he eventually died.  It was so tragic because he had a little girl, twin boys and a lovely wife.  Unfortunately he didn’t see the need to seek the ongoing help of other recovering addicts through the NA 12 step programme.  It’s a hard lesson, but to see others fail can reinforce the need for recovery.   
To be continued……..
Oh, and another thing, I would urge you to click on the Jackie Pullinger link to hear her story.  She is an absolute nut, but if only I was half the person that she is I would die happy

Tuesday 27 May 2014


This is the fourth in my series of posts about my complete spiritual about turn. Before I start I should have explained in my last post that when Jean’s husband told their story he gave permission to retell it if I felt it was appropriate because it is a story of hope for recovery.
On with the story then, the next thing that happened was I received a ‘phone call from Bridie, who I spoke of in my last post.  She was very excited and said she had something to tell me.  Because she is such an upbeat, entertaining character my normal reaction would have been to chill out and have a coffee with her, but something held me back.  I made an excuse not to go.
She rang again the next day, same reaction! I didn’t want to go and made another excuse.  She then rang for a third time and as I was about to make my usual excuse when I found myself saying, “OK, I’ll come over now”.  I thought, “why did I do that?”  For some reason I didn’t want to know what she had to say.
As I explained, Bridie has a strong belief in God, the power of prayer and an unshakable conviction that love overcomes all. And, to be fair, I had seen this at work in her life many, many times. She is, if you like, a Mother Theresa/Desmond Tutu of her patch.
At this point I would like to add a disclaimer.  Memory can be faulty but what I am about to recount is, to the best of my recollection, what happened.  
This is what she told me.  Her immensely spiritual brother ‘phoned from Ireland to say that he had been suffering from insomnia caused by vivid dreams waking him in the night.  He ran this by his parish priest who suggested that it might help him to get back to sleep if he wrote them down.
It seemed that he had been receiving a message citing the urgency of a world day of prayer for peace to avoid the inevitability of dire consequences.  I kid you not! At this point I wanted to bale out! This was mad, but politeness made me stay and anyway I hadn’t finished my coffee.
The parish priest then recommended he take the “message” to the Bishop in Belfast, which he did, who said he should get the message to the Archbishop of Westminster.  “And so Bridie, I want to get this message to him”!
I felt myself going cold as Bridie starting huffing about “how ridiculous, how on earth could I do that? Where would I start”.  I said, “Bridie, I’m sure Jean has met him”.  Jean moved in rarified circles!
I called Jean saying that we would like to visit because we had something to run by her.  She graciously agreed and said that now would be a very good time as she had her sister visiting from the States and they were just about to sit down to English “Afternoon Tea” and  would be delighted to have us join them.
Half an hour later saw us sitting down in Jean’s elegant drawing room, drinking tea from china cups, eating warm scones and relaying our odd story.   When we had finish Jean said “Well ladies, thank you very much for sharing this wonderful story with us.  Now, what I am about to tell you will knock your socks off!
This year has been designated “The Year of the Family” and next week I have been invited to speak at Central Hall, Westminster on the effects of alcoholism on the family.  Present at this meeting will be church leaders, including the Archbishop of Westminster .  So give me your message and not only will I passed it on to him, I’ll also give it to all the other leaders.”
To say I was stunned is an understatement.  All I could blurt out was“I don’t believe this, it’s madness”. Jean’s sister then looked deep into my eyes and said “Ann, why don’t you just trust in the Lord and all these things shall be added unto you.”  I looked right back into her eyes and said “I will” - BOOM!
My best inadequate explanation of what happened to me was that something inside me changed. The real explanation was that I had been filled with the Holy Spirit.  And if you are a non-believer, as I was, it's hard to take isn't it?  But hey, this is my experience so deal with it.  
It was the beginning an amazing journey.
Before I close today, I would like to add that Jean’s sister was speaking from her heart and seems to have (deliberately or mistakenly?) mixed two bible quotes “Trust in the Lord……” that appears several times in the bible and another quote from the American Standard Version “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”.  I'm happy to be corrected on this point.  Discussion and/or education is good. 
Whatever!  It was like an arrow straight into my soul.

"If your vision doesn't scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small."

- Brother Andrew

Saturday 24 May 2014


This is my third post in a series, and to get the gist of what on earth I am talking about, best read the previous two posts (if you have the inclination and/or the stamina!)
One thing I have so far failed to mention was an event that happened towards the end of my first marriage.  My friend and I had been going through really tough times.  This particular weekend she and her two children were staying with me and the girls. 
Neither of us had ever gone to church as adults, but this particular morning we were both amazed to discover that we had independently woken up with the thought “we should go to church today”.  We did, we loved it, but we didn’t go back again.  Another example of a missed opportunity!
The next significant event was that at the age of 16 my eldest daughter had been involved in a very serious motor cycle accident.  When she was taken to the hospital she was in a very poorly state.  The surgeon and his team operated on her lower body and legs for 8 hours all through the night.  During that operation I kept taking myself off to a quiet area (the loo to be exact!) to meditate and will whatever power there was to get her through this.
After the operation the surgeon came to us and said that she would probably never walk again but, thanks to the team of experts that had responded to the call, she would more than likely survive.  I will never forget his next words.  “To call in a team of eight experts during the night, at short notice and for them all to respond is an unprecedented miracle.  Without the whole team being available she would not have survived.”
All her leg and pelvic bones had been fractured, broken or shattered.  In fact one of her thigh bones had been broken in 9 places.  She was in hospital for 6 months where they gave her pain killers and sedatives.  She said that they weren’t going to make a junky out of her and hid the pills under her tongue until she could spit them out.  She used to hand me a tissue full of pills every day.
And when she was finally allowed home she was just as stroppy as she had been before the accident.  Davy said the fact that her spirit had not been broken had been the real miracle! She was still in massive pain and in a wheelchair but Davy said she would walk again and with his encouragement  and her determination little by little she did.  She has one leg 2” shorter than the other and a slight limp, but apart from that you wouldn’t know that she had been through that trauma.  
Fast track, it’s now 1979 and Davy, by the Grace of God and the power of AA, had not had a drink for 5 years but life was not all plain sailing.  We had just gone into a recession. It may be a little known fact that in a recession the building trade is the first to go and the first to recover.  Davy was a small builder and three jobs that he had scheduled to start were cancelled.
As my elderly mother, two daughters and two foster children were living with us we had responsibilities and money was hard to come by.  One morning, in desperation, Davy went down on his knees and begged God to send him work.  With that the telephone rang.  One of the bosses from the local plumbing shop wanted an extension built!  Amazing. But I still didn’t “get it".
Our two foster children had been, and were still were, going through very traumatic times and my good friend Bridie thought it might help them if we took them to a healing service at the local interdenominational church.  So off we all trot. 
After the service we were invited to step into an area set aside behind the alter where a priest was going to pray with the children. A nun stood behind the little girl and while we all looked on the priest laid hands on her.  She began to sag and the nun gently assisted her to the ground where the priest, knelling beside her, began to pray. When the priest finished praying she stood up as though nothing had happened. 
It was now the turn of her brother.  The same thing happened – the priest placed laid hands on him, he sagged, the nun caught him, the priest prayed and then he got up as though nothing had happened.
Weird or what?  And do you know the weirdest thing was that none of us thought it weird, not even the children!  Bridie said they were “resting in the spirit”!  Oh, well that’s alright then!  They are now adults with children of their own and, considering what they went through, have turned out to be wonderful parents.
I had formed another terrific friendship with an elderly American AA lady called Jean who was the wife of a bigwig in the oil industry.  One night he was at rock bottom to know what to do about his lovely wife who could not stop drinking.  She was causing all sorts of problems and embarrassments with his staff and he had finally had enough.  He went down on his knees and prayed “Lord I don’t know what to do for her any more, she is in your hands now”. 
She was in another part of the massive penthouse suite they shared but she “felt” him do this. She loved and needed him but “feeling” his detachment terrified her so she went and begged him to take her to hospital because she wanted to stop drinking.   He did, she got sober, joined AA, he joined Al-Anon and the rest, as they say, is history. Incidentally, she used to call her story “HIS STORY”, because she loved Jesus.   
She had a very vibrant personality and when in a tricky situation would ask herself “what would Jesus do?”  I was very attracted to her spiritual and simplistic approach to God .
But why am I telling you all this? I am paving the way, setting the scene if you like, for what happened next. 

Thursday 22 May 2014


My challenge now is – where do I start with this strange story of conversion?  I guess I should KISS (keep is simple stupid) and start at the beginning. So - this is the path that I walked from there to here.

My parents were not “religious” but nevertheless sent me to Sunday School when I was small and then at the age of 7 I was enrolled into a Convent School where we had a half hour bible reading every morning + a weekly Mass.  I was especially entranced with the stories of Jesus, who seemed to step out of the “norm” by befriending sinners and being critisised for doing miracles on the Sabbath. I hadn’t got a clue what that meant, but it seemed to me to be a very curious and “different” thing to do.  I also like the chanted Latin Mass.  It made by feel “funny” inside.

This was the extent of my young spiritual life apart from my weird liking for Churches.  I would sometimes take myself off to a service, but was distracted by the talking and singing and preferred to simply sit in an empty Church and soak up “something” that I couldn’t explain. 

Let me fast track you through until I was in my early 30’s.  I married, had 2 children, divorced and met my second husband Davy (boom, boom).  He was an alcoholic and 18 months into our relationship he joined AA and I joined Al-Anon. 

I found the Al-anon programme enlightening, especially the bit about believing in a “Higher Power”.  Despite my innate “spirituality” I had always struggled with the idea of God.  It was too fantastical, but this “Higher Power” concept was something that I could cling on too.  Why?  Don’t ask me!  I have no idea!

I grew in the programme, met some wonderful people and worked the 12 steps to the best of my ability. I should probably explain that the 12 steps were written by the first 100 members of AA as part of the “AA Big Book”, who thought that it was essential to write down how they had become and remained sober.

Davy and I made good friends, went bowling with them on a Saturday night, had BBQ’s, visited each other’s houses, had “pot luck” dinners and, compared to the chaos of active alcoholism, life was brilliant.

One day a very close American friend of mine recommended that I read “A Man Called Peter” a book written by Catherine Marshall. It was the true story of her husband Peter Marshall a young Scot who emigrated to America and told the story of how he had followed God's leading, all the way to the chaplaincy of the U.S. Senate.  My private response was, “No thank you, I have no interest in reading Christian books”. 

HOWEVER, a couple of years after my friend returned home to America I found this very same book on my mantelpiece!  Where it had come from I never did find out, but I read it. It’s a very tender and perceptive account of her husband's love for life, for her, and for God.  It moved me, but, as they say, at that time, didn’t float my boat!

Another book that was doing the rounds in the fellowship was “Mr God, This is Anna”.  Another profoundly moving book but this time I felt that Anna’s God felt more like the God of my understanding.  I was convinced that He loved dancing and joy. Not the boring old stuffy things I had witnessed in Church.

My perception of God was gradually shifting from being a dyed in the wool atheist to a “maybe there IS something in this”.  This morning I read this. “ Too often we try to use God to change our circumstance, when God is trying to use our circumstance to change us.  This certainly seemed to be the case with me, but I still had a ways to go.   Stubborn, or what!?

Tuesday 20 May 2014


OK, I’ve decided to “come out”.  I go to Church.  In other words, I’m a Christian.  Why? Now that’s a long story, so let me begin at the end and then go back to the beginning.  You might know that I’ve never been conventional!

Here we go then.  I have been banging on at Church about the amazing things that God is doing in peoples’ lives, and asking why we hardly ever speak about them? Testimonial is powerful, personal and irrefutable, but we are English – stiff upper lip and all that. Testimonial might be a bit too emotional and we aren’t good at showing emotions!

This week we had a guest speaker at our Church, Holy Trinity in Boston.  His name is Pete Atkins and he is director of Ground Level and president of Churches Together in all Lincolnshire.   Our Vicar, Simon, asked him base his talk on “God can do new things”.

He told us a little about himself and although I don’t have the memory to retell his talk verbatim part of story was about paths that don’t exist!   The gist of it was that he loves to Prayer Walk.  This is, exactly as it says on the tin, praying while walking! 

As he prefers to concentrate on prayer and doesn’t want to be distracted by new sights and sounds, he tends to walk the same paths all the time. 

On one of his regular walks he was astounded to a notice a new pathway cutting straight across the field. There were no details of it on his map, no footpath sign, not even footprints, ruts or weeds. Nothing!  Just a pristine path leading straight into the woods beyond!.

On later investigation he discovered that a fox had began walking the route, trailing his tail behind, brushing the path clean of footprints. No mystery there then!

A few weeks later he was on another of his regular walks and low and behold, another path he hadn’t noticed!  Another fox?  Again, this path was not on the map, BUT this time it WAS signposted so it was a regular path, straight across the fields and into the woods beyond.

This got him thinking.  How had he managed to miss this before?   He spoke to a friend about it and they took another look.  His friend, who was also a regular walker along this route, had never noticed it before either and swore that it was impossible for him not to have seen it and wondered why it was signposted but wasn’t on the map?  Now this was a mystery.

He then went on to explain how this thinking about “new paths” had led him personally in a new direction. This led into his talk about God doing new things and one of the things he spoke about was that he had a sense someone that there was someone in the Church who was either a writer or a journalist who should be doing “new things” with perhaps  digital media or a magazine.

After the service I told him that I had written a blog for years, but had recently “dried up”.  After hearing him speak I was wondering if I should tell the story of how I became a Christian and what happened then. 

So to cut a long story short, this is where I am now and in future blogs I will fill in the gaps from there to here.

In the meantime I’ll leave you with this thought. Every day I read Nikki Gumbels' “The Bible in One year”.  Yesterday he quoted two very different individuals:

Russell Brand (the English comedian, actor, columnist, singer, author and presenter) who said, ‘Laughter is addictive because of the inevitability of death. It gives us a temporary escape – for the moment it stops the fear of the inevitability of death.’


Mother Teresa who was asked shortly before her death, ‘Are you afraid of dying?’ She said, ‘How can I be? Dying is going home to God. I have never been afraid. No, on the contrary,’ she said, ‘I am really looking forward to it!’ 

Two very influential and charismatic characters who, you would think, don’t belong on the same planet, let alone the same page!  Russell Brand is quite right of course, but wouldn’t it be great if we could all have the same conviction as Mother Teresa?  I know that I do.

And as an aside - Nikki Gumbel - here is a very clued up and interesting man.  His church group in west London, Holy Trinity in Brompton Road, has (if memory services me right) a congregation of 1500, 11 services a day, attended predominately by young adults!  That’s unusual isn’t it?  He took over the running of Alpha Courses in 1990 which now take place worldwide.  We live in exciting times.


Friday 21 March 2014


 Purported to be a true story.....

Scientists at Rolls Royce built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens
at the windshields of airliners and military jets all travelling at maximum velocity.

The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl
to test the strength of the windshields. Engineers from "across the water" heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to them.  

When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken shot out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin like an arrow shot from a bow..

The horrified engineers sent Rolls Royce the disastrous results of the experiment,
along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions.

You're going to love this......

Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:


"Defrost the chicken."

Tuesday 18 March 2014


My colleague asked me to write about the first 25 years of the business, which I did.  This submission was immediately rejected! I had to re-do it but I hate to waste such effort so I am subjecting you'll to it this rejected version.

1989       Infotel  began life as a “slow burn” idea one Sunday afternoon in 1989.  I had a 3 to 4 day contract to fulfil in London and was contemplating the commute from Lincolnshire , wondering if it would be better to stay in London. 
Whilst wondering where to  stay and mulling over the stupidity of the fact it wasn’t possible to ring a central reference point for hotels throughout the country it struck me that, actually, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.    What if someone compiled a database to match guest criteria with appropriate hotels?
I ran this idea by my husband Davy, thinking that he would laugh.  But he didn’t!  He thought the idea was “good to go” and challenged me with the task of setting it up.  His area of expertise was getting people to do exactly what he wanted them to do – and boy was he good at it J! 
To cut a long story short, several months later we found ourselves in business.  Davy suggested that we fund the venture by charging a membership fee to promote hotels on this unique, newly compiled, database.  The idea took off really well and soon Infotel had a growing client base.
1992     A client then encouraged us to make bookings instead of simply matching criteria for clients to make their own and BOOM there was an explosion.  Word soon spread around the business community and before we knew it we had a roaring success on our hands.
1994     We employed the services of our dear Ashley who had recently returned from Silicon Valley in California where he had been involved with the development of the World Wide Web.  What he doesn’t know about the WWW isn’t worth knowing anyway. 
He soon had us up and running with an interactive web site,, one of the first of its kind in the UK.  Ashley is with us to this day, having taken a couple of sabbaticals at his and our requestJ!
By now Infotel had its own purpose built offices, constructed by Davy’s own fair hands. 
1999    In June Infotel was listed among the top 300 website in the World by PC Magazine.  This  is what they said: -
“If you are looking online for accommodation in the UK, Infotel attempts to match your needs with a suitable hotel or guest house.  After making a reservation you should receive confirmation by e-mail.  Accommodation can be searched by criteria, such as city/town name, suburb, airport or tourist attraction.  Its’ simple and plain design leads to an intuitive site.”
2000    With the Infotel brand servicing mainly the global leisure and on-line market we developed two dedicated corporate websites  and  to meet the ever growing and specific demands of the business community.
             The office was extended by 60% to give us the desperately need space and the gardens landscaped to provide staff with a wonderful rural working environment.
2007     Davy was diagnosed with cancer.  This was a devastating blow.  He was our motivator and inspiration and the reason that I got out of bed in the morning.   Sadly two years later he died and it felt as though my heart had been ripped and his loss to the business was immense.  
              He always said “we work for 50 people, we don’t have 50 people working for us” and this is what he truly believed.  He marched to the sound of his own drummer.  Well, I could go on all day about his amazing people skills etc, but I won’t.  Suffice to say that with his passing the world lost a beautiful sole. 
BUT he taught us well.  We picked ourselves up and took the business on to dizzy heights.  I believe that he looks down from heaven now and is very, very proud of what we have achieved.
2014     So here we are, 25 years later and 25 years older.  Our business has grown from being a one off embryonic innovation to being a globally recognized brand. 
We have had good and bad times but we never take for granted that fact that we work in an idyllic rural location with loyal and long servicing staff, doing something that we love, for clients who appreciate us.  And long may this continue.