Three weeks of interesting times

I never felt a thing while the surgeon removed the cataract from my right eye, and next morning without pain I turned up for the Bass Division Speech Contests feeling pretty well, and confident that I could give them my best shot.

I couldn’t drive, and had made arrangements for my Area Governor, Michael to pick me up.

Arriving at Berwick it was terrific to catch up with friends and the day went really well. I managed third place in the Division Table Topics contest which pleased me, and though I didn’t place in the International Speech Contest, I was pleased I entered and received enough positive feedback to want to do it all again in 2015-16.

That was on 28th February and it’s been all downhill since, apart from attending a goood friends 60th Birthday.

On 4th March I drove into Melbourne for my consultancy work which went very well, and next day attended an appointment at the Ophthalmology unit of the Alfred hospital to check that my eye was healing well. Michelle, my surgeon was very pleased with my progress, and booked me up to have my left eye done asap, for she said that it was pretty poor and needed attention quickly. My eyesight will be wonderful when that’s done.

Leaving the hospital around 10 am, I was feeling pretty chipper, and with Nancy and Oscar by my side, we walked a short distance to a local cafe to get coffee and a bite to eat, and that my friends was when I tripped on a sandbag, crashed into tables and chairs and clumsily fell to the ground injuring my left upper chest. Winded and feeling less than fit, I sat gasping for breath and trying to stay calm.

The next few days I spent a lot of in bed resting up. and  remained there for most of the time since, until yesterday, when suffering with shortness of breath, I visited my doctor.

The diagnosis is that I’ve suffered a pleurisy attack, had a temperature,  and possibly had internal bleeding and damaged a couple of ribs. Now I’m confined to the house and will be for the next few days, swallowing pills that would knock-out a horse; taking 20 mls of cough expectorant 4 times per day, and can expect the damage to heal over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll be out of action, and will mot be on line much till then. The good thing is, I can read all about friends near and far on social media, and will look forward to being on my feet asap.


A Wonderful Week

There is nothing as nice as waking to the sunshine, hugging my lovely wife, sipping on a cup of coffee and sitting on the balcony with Nessa our faithful canine sitting at my feet. Here as greet the day with a backdrop of birds tweeting, and neighbours waving hi, I know I’m going to have another wonderful week.

It seems like ages since I wrote on my blog and yet it is only a few days. Much has happened and with my carpentry work adding beauty to the entrance to our home; shopping days and lovely lunches with Nancy; visits to friends in the City and around the world via social media, and attendance at Toastmasters, as well as fun family times, I’ve been as busy as ever.

I’ve had good news too, that the surgery on my eyes which I’ve been waiting for is now scheduled for 27th February, and I’ll be able to see much more clearly after that. The only drawback is that I may have to wear a patch over my right eye for the Contests I’m in on 28th Feb. Though that would probably entail re-writing my speech and borrowing a parrot and a wooden leg to appear as a favourite hero from Treasure Island. Perhaps not!

February has started with a bang and the next three weeks promise lots of excitement as I attend, Voice Training tomorrow, TLI/CoT on Saturday, and compete against the best in Division in the Table Topics Speech & International Speech Contests on Saturday Week.

I really do lead an idyllic and fortunate life.

Sitting, Dreaming and Marvelling At It All.

Each morning when I wake, I cheerily greet my family, grab a cup of coffee and my tablet then go out on to the balcony and sit with our beautiful and loyal dog at my feet, as I look up to the clouds then down to my tablet and catch up with friends here and around the world.

Today (Thursday)  it was news from my dear school friend, Ange in Chester, reminding me of where we once played, studied and socialised with each other at St. Bede’s, and after leaving school, worked and socialised in that marvellous City.. Our whole class of ’55 were a terrific group who have kept in touch all these years. Reading their news and one sad note of our friend Stephan who had sadly passed, carried me back to a time in  when we were all so optimistic about the future.

Now 59 years later, with the often horrendous news stories that fill our media, I wonder about the madness of some who would destroy the peace our fathers fought so hard for.

I can think about the past though I can’t dwell there and I can think about the future and make plans; the best and happiest times though are when I’m aware, fully in the moment, and savouring this moment marvelling at the life I lead, the man I am, the family and friends I have, and the wonder of it all.

It’s at times like these that I am reminded of Albert Einsteins Quote:

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough

Marvellous Melbourne

There are so many delightful things to do in Melbourne and on a sunny day there is nothing better than to meet a good friend and enjoy lunch at Federation Square and then take a tram ride to Albert Park.

Such was the way I spent a delightful few hours on a sparkling Friday, with young Jerry my Chinese Toastmaster friend.

We shared a splendid meal of curried chicken and rice with Naan Bread  and a large plate of Nachos served beautifully with guacamole, yoghurt and Jalapenos, and digested it more easily with a couple of glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, a cocktail and a couple of litres of cool water to rehydrate us in the heat of the midday sun, as we chatted excitedly amidst the cacophonous sound of hundred’s, perhaps thousands of local, national and international visitors who gathered at this favourite venue taking in the wondrous scenes, sights and sounds of this vibrant city.

Later a tram ride to Bridport Road in Albert Park  renowned for it’s cafe culture and some of the finest coffee available in our Capital City.

Another Splendid day in a splendid life.



A Barbecue by the Bay

Wednesday 21st was a fabulous day, and the highlight was definitely the evening, when we held the Frankston Toastmasters Club “Barbecue By The Bay’ Themed first meeting for 2015. Breaking with tradition we invited family and friends to this our first ever open-air meeting, which was a resounding success enjoyed by all.

We were at the Frankston Foreshore, The weather was warm, the camaraderie was contagious, our members and guests enjoyed fabulous food, a little vino and lots of engaging conversation.

It was a Toastmasters meeting like no other; part regular meeting and part demo meeting, where we held our first ever Table Topicsathon. Excellent questions from our Topics Master Joanne, who passed a hat containing questions around and each respondent picked the question out of the hat and responded accordingly. Michael our IPP and AG, gave a very good general evaluation, and the prize for best Table Topic, went to a visitor from Singapore, who has recently moved to our town.

We truly had the International flavour with members and guests from Wales, Scotland, Colombia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

There are many delights to be had in Toastmasters, and this event will surely rate in the top 10.

Turn The Radio On

What a brilliant and productive day I enjoyed today.

My Toastmasters Club VPPR-Simon-organised for me to appear at our local Radio Station FM 98.7 RPP to speak about Toastmasters International and the Inaugural Table Topicathon we are having at Frankston Foreshore for members, members families and guests on Wednesday Evening 21st January.

I was out of bed at 5.30 am, for an hour of preparation and contemplation which is my usual morning routine,  before driving to Mornington and the Radio Studio. It was a lot of fun and Debra and Mitchell, my hosts were bright, bubbly and fun to be with.

At home by 9.00 am and breakfast with my lovely, before donning my work clothes to spend an idyllic 4 hours in our garden, accompanied by Nessa our dog, who loves to play ball at every opportunity.

Later I spent some time online with global friends as we discussed, debated and debunked some myths about rules and conventions surrounding the do’s and don’ts of Toastmaster practices, processes and procedures.

A pleasant surprise of my day was to receive my first fee from a monthly consultancy service I’m providing to a large organisation here in Melbourne for the next 12 months. When you can be paid for doing what you love, life is very good.

Another day, another joy, and another myriad of magical moments.

Music to my Ears

Everything that was is, and everything that is will be recycled, or so I’ve come to believe. It’s certainly true of music. Today I was trawling through my Vinyl Album collection, looking for mood music, while I slaved away over paperwork.

I chose four albums that I used to play over and over, and yet haven’t listened to for years until today. The four albums were: “Top of the Pops” by Hallmark recorded in England in 1972 which cost me 99c, new from Coles here in Australia, in 1975 almost 40 years ago. Metal Guru, Rocket Man and Tumbling Dice, invoked such sweet Memories.

The next album I played was: O. C. Smith’s “Hickory Holler Revisited” and Long Black Limousine reminded me of a time I rode in one.

Next I played ‘Fleetwood Mac” a Reprise Album from Warner Bros 1975. ‘Rhiannon’ with Stevie Nick’s vocals is very soothing, and finally I played:

Rhos Male Voice Choir “God Bless The Prince of Wales”, on the Golden Guinea Collector Series – 1968, which is so totally different to the first three albums, yet ‘Hebrew Slaves’ from ‘Nabucco’ is hauntingly beautiful.

Incredibly I worked for a solid four hours enjoying myself immensely and achieving all that I set out to do today in my office.

I know I could have listened to much of this music on my Ipod, though I wouldn’t have enjoyed the tactile pleasure of actually slipping the album out of it’s sleeve, placing it on the turntable and marvelling at how a simple needle can pick up sound from a piece of black plastic.

Everything old was new again; Well for four hours it was.

How To Pronounce Welsh

Those who know me well are aware that I am Welsh and very proud to be so. I don’t speak the Welsh language although I would dearly love to, and so have embarked on a new adventure. I’ve set myself a target of being fluent in the Welsh written and spoken language by December 2018.

Even though I don’t speak Welsh, I’ve always been able to pronounce the longest Welsh place name and often recite it for interested parties, and as a party trick at some parties too. 51 letters in a single place name seems ludicrous to some, yet there are a couple of North-American Indian names that are a little longer or so I’m led to believe.

You may never have heard of the village on the Island of Anglesey, or indeed of Anglesey itself, but this is where the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge (Will & Kate to the Paparazzi) lived whilst Prince William worked as a helicopter Pilot in the Rescue Service.

So, for your linguistic enjoyment here is the place name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Now, if you count the letters you may say that there are 58, but in Welsh ll, ch, dd, ff, ng, ph, rh and th count as single letters. They are called digraphs: two consonants joined together to form a single sound.

In English translation of “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch” is:

The Church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tsyllio’s of the red cave”

One More Day times two

I was up very early on Monday morning for my regular chat time with my International friends. Did you ever hear the joke about the Welshman, The Australia, and The Texan? No matter, you’ld have had to be there to enjoy it.

There is something special about sharing news, views and fun times with friends across the globe. Because I know what I know, and also know what I don’t know, I can share what I know and learn what I don’t know  from these marvellous people.

This time I learned about enhanced social media techniques and how to share files, documents, pictures etc, on platforms other than Dropbox. I also learned about setting up the best lighting alternatives when using video cameras and web cameras. Oh I know that I could read it in books or see it on Youtube, but there is a huge benefit to me in being tutored face-to-face and seeing the results almost instantly.

So to my international guru friends, A big Thank you.

Tuesday was a little different, and I rose a little later to a warm sunny day.

There was much to do in the garden, and a couple of contractors were expected to remove a great deal of green waste which I’d cropped from some rather large gum trees. Having tree branches lying around the garden on hot summer days is a bit of a trap, especially given that our bush fire season is upon us.

Stuart, the green waste guy was affable, talkative and really enjoyed his work. before he left he’d told me most of his family history and considering he’d only been here for 30 minutes, I was amazed at how much he shared. As a Toastmaster it was good material for one of my  future humourous speeches and worth every cent of the $200 he charged me. That’s another benefit of meeting new people, and sometimes you have to pay a price..

Later in the afternoon I started re-reading Mitch Albom’s book “for one more Day”, published in 2006. It’s a tremendous read by one of my favourite Authors. I’ve read two of his other books, “Tuesdays with Morrie”, and “The five People You Meet In Heaven” and thoroughly enjoyed them both.

The first paragraph in “for one more Day” struck a chord with me. “This is a story about a family and, as there is a ghost involved, you might call it a ghost story. But every family is a ghost story. The dead sit at our tables long after they are gone”.  






Remembering my Dad

His handwriting was the finest I’ve seen. His general knowledge was immense. His sense of humour made us all laugh and when at Christmas he held a cigar, made the ‘V’ for victory sign and recited Churchill’s Speeches he enthralled us all.

An all round sportsman and a man who played Chess by correspondence, my Dad was an avid reader, a superb writer and story-teller.

His Welsh upbringing gave him a set of values and principles that were admired by many in the community. He was a hard worker who passed on his love of life to me and four my siblings.

When I migrated to Australia in 1973, I know he was disappointed and I regret that. I wish I could have spent much more time with him especially in his later years, but it was not to be. He passed away on 8th November 1999 aged 86.

Now, today especially, on what would have been his Birthday, He is with me in spirit and I remember him fondly and miss him terribly.

Happy Birthday Dad, you were the best.