Sunday, 20 June 2021

Ida Leo - Leaving Her Mark!

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Ida Leo was very, very busy when she retired. This fine Canadian lady was a very keen reader.  And, biographies were high on her list. People were very  good subjects.  And, Ida Leo was an interesting subject as well.  And, all for one very good reason.

It all began a long time ago.  It was a cold winter evening. Ida was in front of the fire and reading a very good book. Every page was exciting. Then the telephone rang.   A picture of her daughter made do as a bookmark,   

Then, after this very long phone call,  Ida Leo went back to her book. And, there, waiting for her was her daughter's wonderful smile.  Ida Leo went back in time and felt happy. Wonderful memories. Then she had an idea.

Soon, Ida Leo was turning old photos into bookmarks. The results were amazing.  There, Once again, were the people she knew and all were  smiling at her.  Ida stopped feeling alone.

Within a very short time, the rest of Ida's family were catching up on their pasts with bookmarks by Ida. And, it didn't stop there. Word quickly spread. Soon, Ida Leo was getting pictures through the post to turn into bookmarks. She was in business.  Old family snaps had found meaning again. They had come out of old boxes to where people could see them again.

And, Ida's long winter evenings? They were no longer long. Ida Leo had too much to do! Her bookmarks were now in everyone's books. There was no one in Canada without one.  Reading had become a family occasion, People were seeing each other again. and, all because of a phone call.

Ida Leo answered the phone and discovered a brand new very good use for old family pictures.  Bookmarks with welcoming eyes and the smile of someone who's close. And,  now, Canada's smiling again.  What could be better?

Ida Leo - Leaving her mark!  

Sunday, 13 June 2021

The Train from Veszprem to Gyor - A long ago journey.

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It was a very hot day when we took the train from Veszprem to Gyor. We were in Hungary. And, our short journey north was full of summer time fun. This very small train was packed full of families with kids. They were happy, excited, and on their home. And, there was noise.

There was giggling, laughing and singing, and the sounds of kids chasing each other through the train. And, this giggling and laughing turned into incredible ear piercing screams each time the train went into a tunnel. Screams that lasted as long as the tunnels. And, there were very many tunnels on our route and some very long!

There was, of course, much more than the noise. There was very much to see as we went on our very slow way. The Bakony, through which we were passing was pure natural beauty. Forest as far as the eye could see, rivers and streams, and colourful flora.   A paradise for those who love nature. But, the hand of man was clearly visible, too.

There was a very proud monastery that stood on a hill. Many small villages and churches. Farms with animals and tractors. And, even a castle that had seen many battles.

And, this was the sense of the journey. Ancient and modern. Young and old and all having fun. All enjoying the ride.

And, the train was the ride. The train, which we called the garden shed on wheels, was made up of 4 or 5 very small carriages. The seats which were plastic had seen better days, and the whole train needed a coat of fresh paint. But, none of this mattered. The train did the job and that was all that was needed. Fun doesn't need luxury.

So, next time you have time, go down to Hungary and wait for the train. Gyor down to Veszprem and back. And, by the way, Gyor and Veszprem are well worth a visit as well.

It was a very hot day when we took the slow train from Veszprem to Gyor. Eighty kilometres in three and a half very short hours. And, we enjoyed every minute.

The train from Veszprem to Gyor. A very noisy ride on a hot summer's day.

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Sunday, 6 June 2021

The Beats that Came out of the Shadows

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Karlsplatz is a beautiful square in Vienna. And, there I was on my way to a meeting. The weather was fine. A beautiful afternoon. Then, I slowed down. Coming from under the trees in the shade was a beat. I went over to look.

It was a group of drummers. About thirty or so. And, the drums they were playing were small. The drums were held between knees or balanced on laps. The drums might have been small, but the sound they were making was tremendous. I was intrigued and sat down to listen. 1 or 2 minutes wouldn't hurt.

I was glad. This was the very first time I had actually listened to drums. I discovered something new.  A beautiful feeling.  Drums were not only background, they were pure music, too. And, this was an amazing group of all ages. They had no notes to play from and no conductor to look to. The exchanging of glances was all that was needed. They were harmony pure, well practiced, and all very happy.

The group finished playing. I spoke to their leader. American.  The group was on its first tour of Europe. The next day was Moscow. A very heavy schedule. Was it a stress? Not in the slightest. Drummers never suffer from stress.

I got to my meeting on time. It was boring. Later I went back to Karlsplatz. The drummers had gone. I went for a beer. The waiter, who I knew well, gave me a look. He was surprised. I told him I wasn't  impatient. Only beating a song!

Karlsplatz Vienna. Slow down, keep your eyes and ears open, discoveries can even come out of the shadows.

The Beats that Came out of the Shadows.  Karlsplatz - a long time ago.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Willi Noelle - A Great Shooting Star

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Shooting Star! - Willi Noelle

Willi Noelle used to be a cameraman for Austrian TV. A job full of surprises. And, the surprises he got one night in Beirut were not only thrilling but dangerous as well. It was 1972 - just before Christmas.

Willi Noelle and his team had gone to Beirut  to meet   Yassir Arafat.  Three  days were all that they had. Beirut was simply too dangerous. Leaving the hotel was out of the question. Waiting was all they could do. Waiting for a call that might never come!

The first two days brought nothing at all. And, day number three, their very last day, was the same. Nothing! Nothing at all. And so, at eleven that night, Willi Noelle and his team went down to the bar for one or two rounds before bed. They'd soon be on their way home. Going home with no story. Not very nice. 

Then came the call!  Outside in the dark was a car. It was waiting for them.

It was pitch black as Willi Noelle and his team were driven at speed through the night time streets of Beirut. Streets full of shadows and danger. And, only Willi Noelle who was sitting in the front was able to see the signals the driver was flashing. The shadows were guarding their route.

Soon they arrived at a small dimly lit courtyard. There was menace in the air. Uniformed soldiers were smoking and hanging around.  Willi Noelle and his team were afraid. Very afraid. And, there in the courtyard they waited.

Then - through the still of the night came a sound. The sharp clack clack clack  of a stick. A small lame man with a hunchback came out of the shadows. An officer. And, his oversized uniform made him ridiculous.  Only signs were exchanged. And then, Willi Noelle and his team followed the officer's clack clack clack  back into the shadows.

They came to a dimly lit door in a wall. And there, deep underground was a bunker. A bunker smelling of waiting and stale Turkish smoke.

The furniture was simple. An English red leather three piece suite, a table, and on one of the walls a mountainous landscape. But, there were small comforts, too. The offer of a strong Lebanese coffee and an even stronger Turkish cigarette was gladly accepted. But, this bunker was nothing more than a hole in the ground. A place only for hiding.

Then, as his camera was being admired by an Hungarian, Willi Noelle thought he saw the wall move!  He wasn't dreaming. The wall wasn't a wall, it was a screen. And, there in the shadows of the shadows and waiting for them was the unshaven and smiling Yassir Arafat. And, Yassir Arafat, the great PLO leader was impressive. His charisma was powerful. He was bigger than himself.  They started to talk. This was what they had come for. They were not disappointed. This was one of the most interesting and powerful discussions Willi Noelle had ever experienced. Yassir Arafat did have a message. And, he told it.  

A few hours later, Willi Noelle and his team took off from Beirut. They were happy and tired. They had got what they'd come for. A  brilliant interview with Yassir Arafat. Then, high up in the sky, all became clear.

No passwords had been used to enter the bunker. The key had been the clack clack clack of the officer's stick.   Had Willi Noelle and his team been captured or taken they would have had nothing to say.

And the Hungarian? He was an arms and explosives expert. He was checking the camera. It could easily have been a bomb or a gun.

Then Willi Noelle thought about their three day wait in the hotel. And, this too became clear. Checking and watching. Was Willi Noelle really Willi Noelle? Was Willi Noelle's team really Willi Noelle's team? There's no such thing as trust in a war.

Of course, Willi Noelle completed many more missions. But, his days in Beirut were the days that stood out. Chancing with death in a city of war, and bringing home an interview with one of history's greatest. Yassir Arafat. The most feared, most admired and most wanted man in the world.

Willi Noelle was a camera man for Austrian television. And, more often than not, there was more of a story behind the getting of the story than the story itself!

Willi Noelle, a great shooting star.

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Thursday, 6 May 2021

Albert Gunther - An Afternoon Flight and a Very Hard Landing - A bus that took off and flew!

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Way-homes on London red buses are for taking it easy. These stop and start trips allow time for reading the paper, and, if sitting upstairs, the view of a London evening on its way into darkness is the best in the world! But, passengers to Dulwich in South London got more than they paid for a long time ago. While riding home for their suppers one late afternoon, they not only flew, but made headlines as well!

It was the 30th of December, the last working day of 1952. Albert Gunter had just steered his number 78 double decker bus onto London's world famous Tower Bridge. All of a sudden, he felt his bus going-up! The arm of the bridge on which he was driving was rising! And, it looked as though his bus was about to make history. The first ever London bus to fly off a bridge and sink in the Thames! But, Albert Gunter knew what to do. He went into action.

Automatically, Albert Gunter dropped down in gear and put his foot on the gas. His bus needed speed. He only had seconds. The gap between the two arms of the bridge was getting bigger and bigger as each second passed. His bus had to fly over the gap or crash into the river. Faster and faster he drove. He had no other choice. There was no going back! And, Albert Gunter succeeded. His bus took off and flew for just a few seconds. And, that was enough.

Down came the bus with a bang! It was loud. The passengers and seats were thrown about as the bus came to a stop on the other arm of the bridge. And, thankfully, only one or two minor injuries. But, that wasn't the end of the story.

Albert Gunter was decorated for bravery by the Queen. He had saved the lives of his passenger's. And, by-the-way, that was the first ever medal that Queen Elizabeth the Second awarded. A medal, not only for bravery, but also for flying a bus. And, all London joined in with its praise and its thanks. And, Albert Gunter was made London's 1952 man of the year. And, that was good so. Albert Gunter had not only saved the lives of 63 people, he had given them a story to take home as well. The day they flew home in a bus!

Albert Gunter and a very hard landing. An incredible story. London 1952.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

The Cycle of Life - Changes - Thoughts by Martin Glossauer

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Changes are part of everyday life. And, as Martin Glossauer discovered, the Tour de France, was and still is the perfect example of change. He was watching a film.

The film Martin Glossauer was watching was made just after the Second World War. It was all about the Tour de France. And, Martin Glossauer noticed three interesting changes. Helmets, smoking, and wine. Nobody was wearing a helmet. The race was just as dangerous then as it is now. Then came the smoking. Most of the cyclists were not only smoking during the breaks, but, whilst cycling as well! And, refreshments have completely changed, too. The favourite refresher was a glass of red wine. During the cycling and resting as well. Then, Martin Glossauer started to think. There had been other changes, too.

There were no seat belts in cars when Martin Glossauer was young. And, very few motor-cyclists wore helmets. These were things that nobody thought of. And, smoking, too was widely accepted. Nowhere was free from the smell of old smoke. Buses, trains, aeroplanes, offices, cinemas, and homes. Everywhere was the same.

And, one last drink for the road was a common farewell. And, more often than not, one last drink became more.

We have seen many changes. Many positive things. So, remember the now, it won't last for ever. Things disappear all the time and are quickly forgotten. And, as Martin Glossauer believes, personal diaries are the best way of saving the past. Our presents will then be kept for the future. But, personal diaries are vanishing, too.

Changes are part of everyday life. Things come and go, and others remain and change with the times. And, as Martin Glossauer discovered whilst watching a film, the Tour d. France was and still is the perfect example of change. Go get a note book and start writing things down. We might be remembered, not completely forgotten. The future will say a very big thank you.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Life is the Sweetest of All - Alexandra Lanz


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This story goes back a very long way. It's all about Alexandra Lanz.  This is her story.

Alexandra was fourteen. She was, as usual, at school. About mid-morning she began feeling unwell. She got worse, and all of a sudden  collapsed. Her liver had completely stopped working. Her condition was critical. She was taken to hospital. She was to stay there for 5 very long years.

Alexandra's stay in hospital was pain, suffering and despair. And, worst of all, time that never moved forward. Her youth was draining away; there was nothing she could do. She was stuck where she was. But, where there is life there is hope. And, where there is hope there is faith. And, Alexandra had both in great plenty. She knew she'd recover one day.

Then, one day, a light came on at the end of the tunnel. A liver transplant was agreed. The first ever in Vienna. The operation was a total success. And, from that moment on, Alexandra's life began coming back. But, it was during her operation that Alexandra Lanz experienced something not only unique, but very special, too. An out-of-body experience.

Alexandra was floating gently above and watching the surgeons below. And, this out-of-body experience was the most wonderful thing Alexandra had ever experienced. It was powerful and soft. She knew the worst was behind her. Her hope had not been in vain.

And, coming back to life meant other challenges, too. Alexandra had lost 5 years of school. There was much to catch up on. But, her hard work paid off. Alexandra finished her schooling and went on to medicine. And, then she met Harry and married.

But, another miracle was waiting for her.

After her liver transplant, Alexandra was told that becoming a mother would never be possible. Again, Alexandra never lost hope. Then the impossible happened. Alexandra became the first ever liver transplantee to give birth. A wonderful son.

In her darkest of times, Alexandra discovered there was a life after life, and, now she knew, too, there was a life before death. And now, with husband and two healthy sons, she's living every minute to its full. Life is the sweetest of all.

Alexandra Lanz. She lost a few years, but never lost hope. Stronger then ever, she came back again. Dreams can sometimes come true, but faith can even move mountains. Alexandra Lanz – a woman of faith and great courage. A woman who never gave up.

Alexandra Lanz - Life is the sweetest of all.

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Oskar Magocsi - He went to the stars!


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Oskar Magocsi

On his 65th birthday, Oskar Magocsi, the Canadian writer, sat down to write his very first book. A science fiction book. The aliens were little green men. Their planet was light years away. And, the ending was brilliant. Peace on earth and the universe, too.

Oskar Magocsi believed his book was the best. There was, however, one very small problem. His book wasn't wanted. No publisher. But, Oskar Magocsi knew his book would succeed. Where there's a will, there's a way.

And, Oskar Magocsi found his way in a medical journal. He saw an ad for a gardening book in the small ads section. Not a bad idea. Well worth a try. Oskar Magocsi's advert appeared in the very next issue.

Things started to happen. Oskar Magocsi couldn't believe his success. Orders and cheques. They kept coming and coming. To begin with, Oskar Magocsi produced his own copy shop books. Real books quickly followed. And, within just a short space of time, Oskar Magocsi had risen to the top in North American science fiction circles. Radio and television followed.

Things didn't stop there.

Oskar Magocsi wrote 4 very successful books. He sold more than 80.000 copies. And, Oskar Magocsi was working on book number 5 when he died. He was 83 years old. His life finished on a high. Oskar Magocsi just followed himself and did that which was always within him. And, not only one, but 4 brilliant best sellers took off! Books of another dimension. And, there they still are, travelling at speed on their way through the stars.

Oskar Magocsi – Science fiction and truth in the best possible way.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Budapest Blues

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I never liked football. But, there I was at a match. England versus Hungary. I liked Budapest very much. Vienna, where I lived was not far away.

The match was boringly slow. But, I cheered with the rest when England actually scored. Otherwise, the whole thing was a waste of good time.

The game finally finished. England had won. Now, it was time for a very long night in the Budapest that I knew. But, there was one little problem. A Union Jack. And, this Union Jack almost cost us our lives. It happened going back to the coach.

Our coach was parked in the middle of a big open space. And, this big open space was full of Hungarians. They were hanging around and not very friendly. And, two of our group, two very proud Brits, were waving their Union Jack.

The Hungarians were showing their feelings. Angry and looking for trouble. Very, very menacing. Then came the loud black ugly whistling. The Hungarians wanted the flag. Things had turned very rough. Grabs were made for the flag. But, we managed to get back to the coach with the flag. We were quickly on board. Then came the missiles.

Bottles, cans, and stones, and so-on. I felt sure the windows wouldn't survive. The shouting and hissing were deafening and threatening. We were in danger. It was frightening. Then, things began to get worse! We felt the coach starting to rock. The crowd was doing their best to rock our coach over. We were too heavy. The jeering and shouting and the black ugly whistling continued. We were stuck fast in the middle of aggression. The crowd was determined.

Then, not a moment too soon, an army of long black leather coats came out of the shadows. Then, as if following an unspoken command, the crowd started quietly dispersing. We were free to go on our way. Now, a strong whisky was all that was needed. The embassy bar was a blessing.

My first Scotch was a triple, the next two as well. I got talking. Had they been to the match? Certainly not! Meanwhile, at the other end of the bar, The two with the flag were being toasted as heroes. Saving the flag and all that. Stupidity?

Next day, on the way home, the two with the Union Jack took their seats at the back of the coach. The Union Jack at full mast across the back window. The victorious English on their way home. The Union Jack. A very bold statement. A Union Jack that hadn't been captured.

And, I had a touch of the Budapest blues. Too much danger, too much fun, too many whiskies, and a night that had turned into morning. All in all, a very close call.

Budapest, a long time ago.

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Monday, 5 April 2021

Innocent Rescue


 I heard the following story a long time ago. It's a story of miracle, luck, and good chance. And, it's a story that moved me. And, it's something I've never forgotten.

It was Vienna. The summer of 1973. I was having tea with the Clarks. I was a family friend. And, the Clarks had 4 very nice children. Nicola and Roger who were 18 and 19, and Emily and Peter who were twins. And, Emily and Peter were still very young. In fact, only 6. And, the story I heard was all about Emily and Peter.

The Clarks had recently come up from Africa. Noel Clark, the father, had worked there as foreign correspondent and was now doing the same in Vienna. And, the story took place whilst the Clarks lived in Africa.

An old friend of the Clarks had dropped in for tea. A doctor from London. He was in town for a conference. And, then came the sandwiches. But, there was one person missing. Little Emily. She was up in her room not feeling well. And, then, when the doctor asked how little Emily was, it was Peter, Emily's twin, who spoke.

Little Emily cries very much, she's tired all the time, she never wants to play, and, she never eats supper. And, there's one other thing, my sister looks kind of blue”. The doctor stopped eating. He was taken to Emily.

The very next morning, Emily and her mother were on the plane back to London. And, it was all thanks to Peter. In his innocent way he had accurately described the symptoms of Emily's condition. A hole in the heart. And, there at the airport in London and waiting for them was an ambulance. There wasn't much time. Speed was important.

The operation took place that very same night. It lasted more than 6 hours. And, 3 days later Emily woke up. She had come through.

And, 6 other little children were treated for the same thing that week. Only 2 survived. Emily and one other child. Emily had been very, very lucky. She'd had a Guardian Angel. And, Emily's Angel was Peter her twin. It was Peter's innocent words that had saved Emily's life.

A doctor on holiday, little Peter's innocent remarks, and a plane that was leaving. Good chance, good luck, and very good timing. All three at the very same time. A story I've never forgotten. And, I often wonder what happened to Emily. It was all a long time ago. The afternoon we had tea in Vienna.

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Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Plattenbaus - The Still Shining Red Stars of Then


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The statues of Lenin and Stalin have gone from the face of the old Soviet block. But, the plattenbaus remain. Plattenbaus. Buildings that take us straight back to the heart of the Communist era.

The plattenbau estates were enormous. Many blocks of flats built of huge concrete slabs. Their design was simple and efficient. Prefabricated concrete slabs which were deivered and constructed on site. And, the plattenbaus did the job they were meant for.

Constructed as of the 1950s, the plattenbaus were designed to counter the homelessness caused by the war. Each apartment had its own WC, bathroom, simple kitchen, hot and cold running water, and heating. However, despite these advantages, the plattenbaus were not very popular.

These grim characterless buildings offered very little privacy. The walls were so thin that everyone knew what everyone else was doing and saying. And, on fine summer days, with windows wide open, everyone knew what everyone else was having for lunch. The smell of cabbage for lunch carries a very long way! But, there was something else, too.

The plattenbaus were part of a big social plan. Points were needed to get an apartment. Conditions had to be met. The more points the better. And, the biggest scorers were children. The more children one had, the better one's chances. And, of course, children brought life.

And life needed supporting. The plattenbau estates were ideal for small services and businesses. There were doctors and dentist's, hairdressers, grocery stores, bakeries and, of course, many friendly small bars. And, each estate had its own kindergarten, playground and school. All great places for meeting and making new friends.

And, when it comes to comfort, the plattenbaus had just as much chance as everywhere else. In one's own four walls, one could do what one wanted. Nice living is only good taste! 

 And, the future?

With generous help from the European Union, the plattenbaus are being brought up to date with insulation and new coats of paint. These once grim estates are now looking better than ever. The plattenbaus have become places that are nice to come home to!

And so, what started as a solution has now become a goal in itself. Many young people are finding their first homes in these flats, and, for the elderly, they are perfect. A good home is important and a plattenbau can be just as good as anything else! And, sometimes, even much better!

The Red Star of then is still shining brightly. It is set to continue for ever! Plattenbaus. A solution that stepped into the future.

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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The Power of Tuna Fish Salad!

I had just come back from a trip to the north. I'd had a wonderful trip. But, never-the-less, it was great to be back. My small flat in Vienna was a nice place to come home to. I paid off the taxi and took the lift up to my flat.

I opened the door. There was something waiting for me. Something I hadn't expected. And, it wasn't very nice. It was the worst ever smell I had ever, ever smelled! Something had gone very bad. I turned on the light. But, the light didn't work. I had no power at all. I went next door to my neighbour.

My neighbour Niki explained. It had happened the day I had left. My electronic alarm clock had gone off as usual with its terrible buzz at 6 in the morning. And, this terrible very loud buzz kept going and going - and soon the neighbours were desperate. They were very upset. Then Niki, my next-door neighbour, had an idea. Disconnect. And, that's what they did. With one screw of the fuse, my power was gone. There was silence. The very loud buzzing had stopped. The neighbours were happy and my loud buzzing alarm clock was quickly forgotten. And, then, 3 weeks later I was back. Niki screwed the fuse back and the power returned. The buzzing started again, This time no problem. But, there was the smell. It was dreadful.

It was the kitchen. I opened the fridge. There was the problem. The root of the smell. The fridge was full of black smelly mould.

When Niki turned off the power, the fridge had gone off as well. And, it was then that the tuna fish salad went into action. First, it went bad, then it decayed, then it went mouldy in a fine fury way, and then the mould spread. All round the inside of my fridge. My fridge was completely destroyed.

But, there is a funny side to this story as well. A kind of irony. This was the first time I had ever put food in my fridge. Only beer and wine until then. And, when I left for the north, I hadn't even thought of the fridge and the old tuna salad. But, I should have thought of the buzz. A stupid mistake. I had left home before the alarm was set to go off.

But, next time I knew better. I bought a new fridge, there was nothing else I could do. But, I never once used it for food. Food destroys fridges – and fridges cost money. Stick to that which you know – and – by way - don't forget your alarm – you might lose all that you have!

The power of tuna fish salad – the strongest salad there is.



Wednesday, 10 March 2021

The Green Children of Woolpit - A Mystery


In 1142, two very strange children were discovered in the English village of Woolpit. They were brother and sister. The children had unusual clothes and spoke an unknown language. But, the strangest of all, they were green. Two green little children. A mystery. No one knew who they were, and no one knew from where they had come.

Then, after being given a home by Richard de Calne, the children quickly learned English. And, after some time, their green colour gradually faded. They had become like everyone else. But, sady, after an illness, the little boy died leaving his sister alone. It was then the girl told what she knew.

The children had come from St. Martin's. A land where the sun never shone and the light was like twilight and everything and everyone was green. But, how had they come to Woolpit? The little girl had no idea. The only thing she remembered was looking after her father's cattle in St. Martin's. Nothing more.

The girl became known as Agnes and later married. But, the mystery remained. St. Martins, her very strange language, and green, the colour of her skin.

A true story and a mystery that has never been solved. The Green Children of Woolpit.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Baba Marta - A Bulgarian Welcome for Spring

A Martenitsa

The first of March is a very special day in Bulgaria. It's Baba Marta day. Grandmother March day. And, Baba Marta is a day that makes everyone happy and joyful.

Baba Marta is an ancient holiday. It celebrates the goodbye of winter and the coming of spring. And, on Baba Marta everyone wears Martenitsas.

The Martenitsa is an ancient heathen symbol that represents Baba Marta. The Martenitsa is made of twined red and white threads which come together at the head of two bell shaped symbols. One made from red thread, and the other from white thread. The red one stands for strength, health, and fertility. And, the white one speaks for innocence and beauty. And, very importantly, Martenitsas bring blessings and fortune for the coming 12 months,

Martenitsas are found all over Bulgaria. Everyone wears one. And, so deep is this tradition, that people even decorate their animals and pets with Martenitsas. But, there are two very important things that make Baba Marta complete. The first one is the attaching of a small sprig of lilac to the Martenitsa, and the second one is the sighting of swallows. Then spring in Bulgaria has definitely come 

Baba Marta. A Bulgarian way of greeting the spring.

Now, CLICK HERE to listen to English recording of this article, and,  Ivanka Guggenberger with a short in depth explanation of Baba Marta in German.

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Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Doors - first published 2010 - Open and Shut

When One Door Closes Another One Opens  

When one door closes another one opens is a popular saying in England. And, some time ago, I heard a true story from Hungary. It was all about Jenö and Marika. Jenö was a very good carpenter and Marika his wife was a brilliant cook.
But, both Jenö and Marika had one thing in common. Doors. And, this is Jenö's and Marika's story.

Once upon a time, Jenö's and Marika's house used to be a very nice little house. It had a back door, a front door, a garden in the front and a garden at the back. All very normal and all very pretty. Then, this nice little house became something unusual.

It became a confusion of doors. A house with many ways in and many ways out.

The first new front door was not long in coming. Jenö and Marika put it in the side of the house – which then became the new front of the house - because it was nearer to where they parked their car. Quite sensible when you think about it. So, now Jenö and Marika had one back of their house, and old front of their house, a new front of their house and one side instead of two! And the dog, which used to be tied up at the back of the house, was then, without being moved, tied up at the front!

Meanwhile, Jenö's business became very successful and Jenö and Marika, because of deliveries of timber, were having to park their car at the last remaining side of the house which didn't have a door. And, this was not very convenient. And so, so as to make life easier still, a new front door was built into this side of the house which was until then neither the front nor the back, but, after the new door had arrived, this side of the house then became another front of the house. Now, three fronts and one back. But, that wasn't all!

In order to make life more comfortable, Jenö and Marika then put a door in the first floor – directly above the original front door - which - by then - had become the latest back door - so, in the mornings, when everyone was rushing to get ready, they didn't have so far to go to get to the kitchen and were able to save one or two seconds by using the new flight of steps which took them down the outside of the house to where the new back door had appeared. That, of course, worked perfectly well provided the back door wasn't looked, which it usually was, so nobody used it!

But, the biggest challenge of all was the bell! Jenö, being creative, had connected all of the doors to the very same bell, so, that when people came calling, Marika had no idea at all as to where her guests actually were, so, she had to run around from one door to the next until she finally found them. And, because people were, on the whole, generally impatient, they started going around and ringing on all of the other doors, too, and, so the confusion continued. When one door closes another one opens, or, at Jenö's and Marika's, there's always a new door to open and shut!  

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Short Essay - Heart Caring Words

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Some Heart Caring Thoughts - by Nigel A JAMES

There are very many people who travel through life without a care in the world. Every thing's fine. So, how does this work?

Firstly, these people have no problems at all. They have none because they don't look at problems as problems! Situations is all that they have. And, situations require action, attention, or nothing. If action is needed - it is taken; and, likewise, if nothing is needed, the whatever it is, is left to cool off and disappear on its own. People with problems always exaggerate. Many so-called problems have no importance at all.

Secondly, people without problems have no principals either. They have rules. Principles are nothing other than excuses – usually weak - to hide behind when trying to avoid things that are not very nice. Bernard Shaw, the great Irish writer, said that only people with no arguments had principles! He was right.

Thirdly, and most importantly, people who never have problems know how to talk to and listen to others. There is no situation that doesn't involve other people. Mostly, a simple expression of understanding is all that's required.

So, what can be done, and what can be learned from those who always come up with smiles on their faces? What sort of people are they?

In the main, they are people who very much like themselves. They are happy with that what they do. They're content.

So, the answer is happiness. Be fun and be happy. This is the meaning of life! If you don't like you're job – get a new one. If you're arrogant – change. We only live once. And, so does everyone else. Bad vibes are contagious. They are always upsetting and can also make people ill.

And, this, too, is important. Happy people are not only not often ill, they live much longer as well! Happiness is a very good thing! So, what can be done for those who are permanently miserable?

Leave them alone. To ignore them is clearly the right thing to do. Avoidance! And, if this doesn't work, then invite them out to go dancing. They will have a wonderful time. And, they, too, will be happy like you.

There are very many people who travel through life without a care in the world. Every thing's fine. So, how does this work? And, what sort of person are you?

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