Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Industrial Estates

Industrials Estates aren't known for their humanity so all the better when one finds some there, and not just from one person, but from three.

I was at Staples Corner, not the shop (and not Staples Centre in L.A.!) but the trading estate of that name at a hardware store, Toolstation for those interested.  Directly opposite Toolstation is a Safestore and then a few hundred metres away is a Big Yellow Storage.

Years ago, when I needed some extra storage during a move, I took out a unit at Big Yellow Storage it worked very well.  

Since then, there seem to be storage places all over the shop so I figured/hoped that they would be really competitively priced now.

Since I was already parked, I went over to Safestore to enquire of their rates/deals and so on since I shortly might be needing some storage space again.

I was welcomed by three of the smiliest, jolliest people you could hope for; Ayolla, Karlos and Jamie, the Manager.

They turned getting a quote for a mundane thing (for a bad reason) in to a wholly enjoyable affair, so a big thumbs up
thumbs upand thank you to the three of them.

Fast forward, and it's now time to use the storage.  As well as speaking to Karlos and Jamie again, and a little wave to Ayolla, I was looked after by Mali, the Assistant Manager.  
Well obviously Safestore Staples Corner breeds lovely, friendly folk because Mali was also super and as well as a thank you and thumbs upthumbs up for her help she also introduced me to Humans of London so thanks for that too.

Helping me move all my stuff I also lucked out,* using Adam and his company The London Man & Van Service, (no website but happy to give you his number if you ask).

Adam is from Iraq and he and Joseph couldn't have been more helpful or made the work easier.  They are based in North West London but happy to work all over, and indeed I used them for a pick up from Kingston-upon-Thames.  So a big thank you and thumbs up  thumbs up To Adam and Joseph.

Also, while writing, a thank you and thumbs up without a name or pictures as yet again, I forgot until it was too late.

There is a small Tesco in Weedon, right at the junction of the A5 and the A45.  Normally the last place I'd stop for some really nice flowers for a present but we were en route for a last minute visit and there was no choice if I didn't want to arrive empty handed, (which I didn't).

The flowers on display on the Saturday morning were not inspiring and I feared the worse, thinking chocolates it might be, but I thought it was worth asking.  I found a girl stocking the dairy shelves and she couldn't have been more helpful.  Yes, they had had a delivery, no it was no trouble to go and see what was there and bring them all out.  Which was what she promptly did with so many smiles it was a pleasure waiting.

photo: Hazel Nicholson, used under a creative commons licence
Then to top things off, and remember this is a Tesco Express not a florists, she found some paper so that the bunches of tulips I had selected could come out of the fuel station plastic wrapping and all be put together in a lovely big bunch wrapped in paper.

Thank you and thumbs upthumbs up kind person and if you see this and remember serving me, it really was appreciated.  Thanks.

As always, if you would like to write a post to thank someone or tell us something nice that happened just get in touch and we would love to hear from you and to spread the thanks.  You don't have to know how to do the formatting and stuff, we'll help you with all that.  Thanks.

* have realised that "lucked out" means the opposite in the USA, here it means I was lucky so hope that makes it clear for our stateside readers.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Hospitals, supermarkets and thank yous

A couple of unrelated thank yous that reminded me why I'm doing this blog.

Twice over the last few weeks, when my head had been all caught up with our own problems, I was pulled out of myself by someone going out of their way to be helpful and I thought that's nice, but I was so wrapped up in myself that I forgot my own "mantra" of looking for positive and good and shining a light on them.

Luckily I was given an opportunity to go back and remedy my oversight so the first thank you is to Dawn and the help desk team at UCH.        

Anyone who has had to park at a hospital, or use a disabled Blue Badge at a hospital, will appreciate this story.

At the Royal Free, a wonderful hospital, they have a terrible parking problem and policy for disabled users.  The badge is for my car but for when I'm driving a member of the family, let's call them "Fred".  Now at the Royal Free you can have four hours free parking with a disabled badge and after that you have to pay.  But, this is where it becomes so difficult.  The actual person who is named on the badge, Fred in this instance, has to show him/herself at the desk to prove that I'm not abusing the badge.  
Now imagine you've got to be in hospital all day having, say a blood transfusion, the first or last thing you have to do now is attend a desk where you have to present yourself to prove you really are "ill".

Don't even get me on the part where you have to pay for the remaining hours and how difficult that is!  I suppose, while I'm doing this, I could give a thumbs down to the Parking Policy at the Royal Free.  Great hospital, bad policy.  May I suggest a little more trust?  Take a leaf out of UCH's book?

So, yes over now to UCH and our thanks and thumbs up; for those that don't know, UCH, UCLH and the Macmillan Cancer Center are all part of one of the major newer hospitals in the West End of London.  The Blue Badge parking scheme is a national scheme except in a couple of parts of London.  UCH is in one of those exclusion zones for the Blue Badge so I was very worried about how and if I would be able to park when taking Fred there.  I shouldn't have worried, UCH/UCLH have a totally different policy.

Their policy seems to be trust and assuming that if you're in hospital and are using a blue badge, you need it and to be at the hospital, so try to make it easier for you.

Enter Dawn, (and Wendy who was shy about having her picture taken).  I wasn't sure if I was taking Fred home the next day or the day after, depending on progress but whatever, I was going to be bringing Fred back the following week.  No problem; UCH gives you a pass for the time you need, a day, a couple of days, a week which you display with your Blue Badge in their own limited parking or on a couple of specially designated nearby streets.   So simple, so stress free but more importantly, for here, a big thank you to Dawn for making me smile and taking me out of my own head and a big thumbs up  thumbs up

Now, my other thank you, has nothing to do with health, hospitals, or charities, which seems to have dominated this blog in recent months, whether my own or from guests.

This time to the lovely cashier, Irene, at a local Sainsbury's in Golders Green.  Irene
always has a smile for her customers and when the transaction has finished and the till prints out those multitude of bits of paper with offers, price matches, school vouchers and what not, Irene carefully goes through them and if there is something of worth to note, she makes sure she has pointed it out for you.

I asked Irene if I may take her picture, (I always ask first), but she declined thinking "it would look ugly".  I wish Irene could see the lovely smile all her customers see and realise how it is anything but ugly.  In any case, a big thank you and thumbs up to Irene.thumbs up

I would add Irene is such a breath of fresh air in an otherwise not wonderful Sainsbury's - getting better but still a throw back to the nineties.  Management, take note, thanks.

That's it for now but as always, if you would like to send in a post to tell us something nice that happened or to say thank you to someone, just get in touch and we would have great pleasure in putting up your stories here.  Thanks.

Monday, 14 December 2015

A Guest Post from Tina Death - NUCLEAR RACE

Facebook - I’d been tagged, "anyone up for this?"  A fun day, in aid of the Danny Green fund, a little boy who’d died from a brain tumour.  Of course I was up for it, it’s for charity.  I replied, "yes I’m in."  [from Everdayfolk - When I received this guest post, I wasn't familiar with this charity, but having looked it up, and the condition Posterior Fossa Syndrome, I want to give a big thumbs up and thanks to Tina for doing her bit for these children, thumbs up thank you] 
I was committed now, for what, I had no idea, it didn’t matter, every penny is going to help suffering children.

Immediately, I tagged my friend Jane, she didn’t know at the time but she was in too, I made sure.
A few days later details of the event were posted.  12th September, noted in my diary. Suitable for all fitness levels. Great, I’m not fit.  Course consists of obstacles and lots of mud.  Mud!  I can’t do mud, I can’t even walk on wet grass.  A direct message arrived; having t-shirts made for the race, what size are you?  I panicked.  Did she say race?  Race!  I haven’t run in years. I’m fifty four, I can’t run. I didn’t even own a pair of trainers.
One week before the ‘race’ I decided I’d best go and buy some trainers.  The cheapest ones I could find, well I’ll never wear them again.

(some of the younger ones)
Jane and Tina
‘D’ day arrived and everyone had gathered in the car park at the Nuclear Race Centre; twenty-two acres nestled amongst woodlands and farmlands in Kelvedon, Brentwood.  We were a group of thirteen, most were young and fit looking in their tight Lycra.  Even at this point I had no idea what challenges were ahead. 

Lisa and Tracy - volunteers
There were three event leaders; Tracy, Lisa and Scott and they informed us that we had to register and sign a disclaimer form.  I signed my life away and I don’t mind telling you at this point I was extremely nervous.  

After a quick safety talk we were told we had to warm-up.  Stretching, I thought.  Wrong. We had to jog around a course that snaked through the woods following our team leader.  
Three leaders had been assigned to our group, front, middle and back who kept cheering us on.  I couldn’t even complete the warm-up without stopping. Jog, walk, jog, walk, already I was puffed out, and felt so unfit and totally out of my depth and we hadn’t even started yet.
I will not bore you with details of every obstacle as there were thirty in-all.  This is just a snap-shot of my experience. 
Jane exiting the tyre challenger
Tina mid human wringer
Deep in the woods we were stopped by a wall of lorry tyres, about twenty across, two high and threaded onto a large pole.  Each tyre varied slightly in size.
I thought we’d have to climb over them, wrong we had to scramble through them, like a human wringer. No problem.  I watched others disappear into the world of rubber.  It was my turn.  Gritting my teeth and with my head down I pushed myself through expecting to see daylight.  How wrong was I, it was dark, tight and immediately I began to panic.
The tyres were five deep, I tried desperately to pull myself through but as the tyres varied in size I kept getting stuck, my breathing quickened and the stench of rubber that clogged my nose was overpowering.  Over and over I kept telling myself to calm down.  I could hear everyone on the other side laughing and calling out words of encouragement.  I began to use my feet, pushing myself forward but every time I pushed down the tyres moved it was slow going but eventually I saw daylight.  My head was free, I smiled calling out to Jane for help.  This for me was the worst challenge being trapped is and has always been one of my worst nightmares.   
The next few challenges were mainly climbing up and over rope nets and were I suppose more about coordination and technique, I found these to be awkward but not difficult.
After we’d finished this section of challenges we had to jog through the woods until we came to a freshly ploughed field then continue to the other side.  To say I was out of breath was an understatement by this time my body was hurting.   

We arrived at our first water challenge and had a small lecture about mud.  The mud being our worst enemy as it was prone to sucking your trainers off.

We were led to a steep dirt bank at a guess about fifteen feet high, with no vegetation to grip.  This on its own was difficult, my legs killed, I’d used muscles I’d forgot I had and was relieved to see hands reaching down to help pull me up.  So a big thank you and thumbs up to those hands thumbs up.

On the other side of the hill there were several wooden boards’ side-by-side, about ten inches wide that stretched out over a lake.  We had to walk the plank.  I froze as I saw everyone jump off the end and disappear.  Slowly, I walked to the end and looked down I can only describe what I saw as a floating mattress.  We had to jump onto it then into the lake.
This was it, I was about to jump into the brown muddy water and wade across to two lines of floating steel barrels.  I was nervous, I hate water, I can swim I just don’t like it.   
Without hesitating further I jumped down and straight into the lake.  It was freezing.  I had to catch my breath before wading over to the drums.  
The challenge, to dive underneath the barrels.  The first one was ok, as I came up everyone was applauding me, shouts of, "well done Tina," echoed around the lake.  It made me smile.  It made me feel good about myself so thanks and thumbs up thumbs up to everyone who encouraged me.  It worked.  I dived under the second row of barrels but as I went to stand I lost my footing and fell head first swallowing a large amount of stinky, muddy water ending in a coughing fit but help was at hand from Jane and people I didn’t even know, one person helped me to my feet whilst the other patted my back. Thanks again thumbs up.
Composed and very grateful I made my way over towards the wall of tyres, where some were already climbing up and over.  It seemed to take me forever.  Mud with the consistency of clay was like quick-sand. With every step I sunk down to my knees, this is where we had to make sure we didn’t lose our trainers, I gripped my toes as tight as I could but with nothing to hold onto every step was arduous, I didn’t want to lose my footing, the water at this stage was thigh high, my strength began to wane as I had to use my body weight to pull my feet out of the ever sucking mud, over and over.

I made it to the wall of tyres and surprised myself that I managed to climb over only to jump back down into the muddy waters. Mud attacked my trainers, again.  

By this time my legs had gone, they were hurting bad and every step was a struggle.  Eventually, I managed to haul myself up onto the bank and collapsed.  I still had to face a twenty foot dirt bank with lengths of rope, the problem was I was smothered head to toe in mud and couldn’t get a grip with my hands or feet.  Not bothering with the rope I dug my fingers into the soil determined to reach the top.
As I was one of the last ones to complete the task there was no time for a breather, Tracy, Lisa and Scott had us on our way.
My body had had enough.  I told Tracy that I didn’t think I could do anymore, she was sympathetic and told me that the next few challenges were not as difficult; these were the fun ones:  Zip wire, death slide and a balancing challenge over another lake. 
"Is there any more mud?" I asked.  She smiled at me and said, "no.  There’s no more mud."
Still my body was saying no, but I knew in my heart of hearts if I were to give up I’d be really annoyed with myself. A failure. 
The tenacious side of me kicked in, I was not going to give up. I won’t give up. 
Tracy was right; the rest of the challenges were fun although the tight rope across the lake took all my concentration against jeers of laughter and threats of rope shaking it didn’t work.  I succeeded.  So thanks again to Tracy and Lisa for keeping me going
thumbs up
Finally, after two hours and forty five minutes I had completed the 3.5k Nuclear challenge.  Boy did I feel good, invigorated and very, very proud of myself but it was when the parents of Danny Green came over and thanked all of us that every aching muscle, every bruise, every cut that I’d sustained was truly worth it. So a thank you to Danny's parents, Lisa and Chris, for thanking us thumbs up. Also a special thanks to my dear friend Jane, not only for being a great sport, but for her encouragement and support throughout the challenge.  Thank you thumbs up thumbs up.
For me, the best bit was the burger at the end, a welcome treat.  It was delicious and devoured within minutes. And, I received a fantastic medal. 
Would I do it again?  Yes.

Am I going to do it again?  Yes.  May 2016, only this time I will have to train as this next challenge is 6.5k and it is a race.  
[from Everdayfolk - When the page is set up for donations, it will be added here]

If you’d like to see more pictures of my Nuclear experience you can see these at YouTube YouTube/NuclearJuiceDay - and I would like to add a big thanks to Helen thumbs up for all her hard work organising the event, t-shirts etc., it was great meeting other JP members, (Juice Plus is all about clean, healthy living.  If you'd like to find out more you can contact helen via facebook - - Helen Juice Plus Chaplin.  She'd love to hear from you). 

Also, if you are interested in taking up the Nuclear experience yourself go to you can find them and, finally, but most importantly, if you would like more information or to donate to the Danny Green fund please go to    

Tina Death is an aspiring author,
 she can be found on twitter @novelbird

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Personal and a Public One

I haven't written a post in far too long, partly as life events had taken my time and partly because no single incident had struck me as sufficient to warrant a post.  There was one really nice guy on the tube making commuters smile with his help but I didn't have time to get his name and/or picture.

However, in the last couple of weeks or so I have had reason to explain the whole idea of the blog to a couple of people, (if you're not familiar with it, rather than restate it all here, have a look at the first couple of posts from July 2013 - ) and it reminded me how much the looking out for everyday people doing something nice makes one more observant of the good around us, rather than just focusing on the bad, all the time, as we, or certainly I, am wont to do.

But then I also thought, it's my blog and I could go off page for once and rather than thank someone out there, I could use this to thank someone closer to home.

I don't want to go into too much personal detail, but just to say, in opening my eyes to what's going on again I was struck by the good deeds my husband regularly does for others. 
Circuit of Ireland with David Holmes
Daily Telegraph - 8th August 1977

So, rather than delving into our home pics, here are a couple of pictures of my derring-do man from some old newspapers and the web.

Marion-Bermuda race 2003 with David Holmes

For those who want the video relating to this newspaper clipping, you can see the 1,000 Lakes crash at youtube

So the first half of today's post is simply a thank you and thumbs up thumbs up to my bloke on this, the anniversary of our meeting in Paxos.

The second half of this post is however more about what I really wanted to do with this blog, thank people who are just doing their job but give that little bit extra that make your day.

This particular thank you is to Steve working at the ticket office at Cannon Street station.

I had booked some tickets via the Trainline but wanted to buy a new Network Rail Card.  The first thing Steve helped me with was to ask if I had an annual season ticket or had a friend with one as it would bring down the cost from £30.00 to £10.00 -
- I didn't have one but what a good saving tip.

Secondly he advised me that booking via a train companies own website, in this instance, Southeastern Trains, rather than Trainline, usually saved you money as there were less booking fees and often special offers available direct.  Another good tip.

But perhaps the tip I liked the best, was Steve told me where did the best coffee in the station!  Thank you, Steve, and a big thumbs up thumbs up.

I would just add, that I'd never used Cannon Street at the weekend before but was trying it rather than Charing Cross or London Bridge and I was so happy I did.  Look at this picture of "civilised" travel rather than the hoards the other main line stations.  So a thumbs up thumbs up to Cannon Street Station.

That's it for now but as always, if you would like to send in a post to tell us something nice that happened or to say thank you to someone, just get in touch and we would have great pleasure in putting up your stories here.  Thanks.

Circuit of Ireland photo courtesy of Joe McCabe from Flickr -JoeMcCabeFlickr