So hands up those of you who have not seen the latest John Lewis Christmas Ad???
I’m sure most of you already have. What was your verdict? Sad? Soppy? Boring? Brilliant?
For those of you who haven’t seen it yet – please click on here and enjoy…
I thought it was just lovely and so heart warming. No, I didn’t cry the first time I saw it, but I did well up the second time round when I showed it to my husband!
The market-savvy, creative guys behind the ad know exactly how to tug at your heart strings (and maybe your purse strings too if the latest sales figures are anything to go by!). I mean who doesn’t love a little animal animation advert?
The ad received just under 90,000 tweets over the weekend that it first aired, and around 4 million views on YouTube (a figure which is rising all the time). As a direct result, John Lewis acquired 7,000 new twitter followers, and in the week after the ad was shown, reported sales of over £100 million for the first time in 2013.
Not bad for a short story starring a bear and a hare. But, that is exactly the point. We all love stories. We love happy endings and we love seeing people (or animals) who care for one another. It touches us. We get it. It makes us feel good. It takes us to places – somewhere only we know.
The best part of the advert for me is that they are not shoving toys, clothes, and other ware so common with Christmas time consumerism down your throat. The only thing they are promoting is finding the perfect gift for a loved one – whatever that may be – in this instance, an alarm clock.
Kenya is mourning A nation is bleeding All we could do is watch the news and pray Whilst inside a shopping mall dead bodies lay
On the roof the children of Junior MasterChef Screamed as the sound of bullets made them deaf All they wanted to do was laugh and bake But they were shot in vain for religion’s sake
A selfless hero tried to save the kids from these monsters He said “Kill me instead of these youngsters” But his pleas went on deaf ears And all you could hear was the sound of their parents tears
A married couple trying to protect each other The wife was soon to be a first time mother Gunned down whilst locked in a final embrace By none other than one of the ‘human’ race
A little girl ran to a stranger with a gun Her mother had told her to get up and run He was a brave man who saved her and others Whilst he was there searching for his own brother
Blood and tears were everywhere They were inside their worst nightmare One smeared blood on her face to play dead Whilst the terrorists rained bullets over her head
The massacre left behind a mall burning A nation cried and was left yearning The murderers played the wrong game To try and catch a glimpse of fame They never rolled a six on the dice So instead of them, all the innocents will now go to Paradise
Legends never die, they live on in our hearts, minds and in our soul…
It is exactly a month today that my grandfather was taken away from us. He was 94 years old, but his mind was as sharp as a razor and his heart as generous as an ocean. There is so much to say about him, that I am afraid words are not enough. Where do I even begin?
My first real memory was when I came to London from Kenya to live with my grandparents and my aunt. I was only 10 years old and had to leave my parents behind. Of course I missed them dreadfully, but my grandparents looked after me and kept me safe. I used to get upset when my granddad would not let me go out with my friends. One day, I asked him why and he replied that if anything were to happen to me, then what answer would he give to my parents. Then I realised that I was his responsibility and he was only protecting me from harm.
My granddad was over 6 feet tall and larger than life. He had an aura, a presence, but was as cuddly as a teddy bear. He was the real BFG – big, friendly giant. How I wish I could give him one more hug.
People would look up to him (literally!) and as a role model. He was a godfather and peacemaker of our community, and had people calling him and visiting him for advice on their marital, social and financial problems. He was very sociable and had lots of friends as he was very loyal and helpful to all that he met. He was usually out on late nights with the boys (much to the disdain of my grandmother)!
He had always wanted to be a lawyer, but sacrificed his dreams so that his two younger brothers could pursue theirs and go on to become doctors. Instead he helped his father run his textile business and eventually took over the running of their blanket factory in Uganda. From a young age and right up to his last day he was always thinking about others.
The twins were lucky to have a great grandfather like him. Every Thursday we would try and visit him after school. It was our ritual, our quality time with him. He would hug the twins, ask them how their day went and then offer them pieces of chocolate (when I wasn’t looking, of course)! They would then sit next to him and play on his ipad. Yes, he had an ipad, and a desktop computer, and was proficient in both! Even at that age, and with his diminishing eyesight he used to love playing bridge, poker and solitaire online. He would update his contact lists, and read and reply to his emails daily.
He loved living, and having his family around him and would do anything for them. He had 6 daughters, 11 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. Family trips and barbecues were where he was at his most content; where he could cook for us, eat his favourite foods and just watch over his entire clan.
It was at one of these family trips last year that I had a surreal moment which I will never forget. We were all staying over at a beautiful country house with a swimming pool. There were a few of us in the pool, and I remember looking around and feeling overwhelmed as I saw my granddad, my mum, her sisters, me, my sisters, my cousins and the twins – all four generations all swimming and laughing together and having so much fun!
He leaves behind my wonderful grandma, who was his wife for 70 years! She is the quiet and dedicated force that was behind the successful man, and it must be the hardest for her to lose her life partner after so many happy years together.
One thing I remember about my granddad was how much he missed his own mum (my great grandmother). She passed away about 30 years ago, but he was always talking about her and remembering her. Even towards the end, one day when he was in hospital, a nurse came in to remove the drip needle from his hand. She yanked it out with such force that he let out a shout and called out to his mum. Tears welled up in my eyes as I could not bear to see his pain.
The last thing that I said to him at the end was that I loved him. At this stage, he was finding it a struggle to even speak, but he whispered “I love you too”, and I know he did. He loved us all.
The only consolation that we have is that although we have lost a rare diamond, we believe that he is no longer suffering and is in a better place. After all, the safest place to be is in the arms of your mother – no matter how old you are.
Legends never die. They live on in our hearts, minds and in our soul… xxx
Yes, I know it was a while ago now, but guess what? WE DID IT!!!
As most of you already know, I dedicated the climb for my friend Caroline who lost her 2 year old son Max to a brain tumour. (Read his story here). I had only met Caroline a month before, but had never met Max. However, her story touched me to the core. It was this that kept me going. I had to do it for her and for Max.
We set up early after a hearty breakfast of cereal(!) on a beautiful morning on Father’s Day. Yes, my Dad actually said to me (jokingly), ” You don’t love me do you?” as I was going to be away on his day.
There were four of us girls altogether – a darling friend of mine that I have known for over 20 years, and 2 others that I had never met before. Luckily, we had all had a chance to get to know each other on the train on the way up so it was great.
I was probably the most unfit and untrained one out of the whole lot! I always seemed to be trailing behind the others, although this probably had to do with the fact that I had a rickety right knee whose ligaments I completely ruptured the last time I was on a mountain! Also, I carried so much gear with me after reading various websites that I should really have been charged for carrying excess baggage on to the mountain! I was prepared for all sorts of weather so as well as my climbing clothes, I also took waterproofs, fleeces, first aid kit (which I did need!), torch, food, drinks, etc. No bloody wonder I kept on falling over!
In my defense though, I was told by previous climbers that the weather on Snowdon could turn without any warning so we had to be prepared for anything…
We took the Pyg trail up which is an intermediate level climb. The great thing about this trail was the beautiful scenery. It was just breathtaking. The weather was glorious. We had to keep on stopping just to take photos and admire the heart shaped lakes and luscious green valleys below.
We had the occasional shifty sheep cross our paths. This was Wales after all!
There were also winding waterfalls trickling across the rocks making them wet and slippery. However, this was the least of our worries. The biggest obstacle to face us was the numerous dogs! Yes, dogs walking, running, skipping along and climbing up, down, and all over Snowdon! This is fine if you like dogs, but if you have a phobia of dogs (which one of the girls does!) then you are to put it politely, up sh*t creek!
Forget trying to navigate the best route up so as not to fall over or twist your ankles, (or break your good knee in my case!), but also attempt to master the walking poles with all that heavy gear on your back, and at the same time keeping a watchful eye out for any crafty canines that might hurdle past slapping you with their wagging tails and smelling for any humans that feared them!
Wherever we looked, the dogs were there. As soon as one came anywhere near us, our dog fearing friend would freeze on the spot or just stop mid-sentence and walk off to the edge fast. This was our cue, and which ever one of us was near her would just circle her like a protective bodyguard, legs and walking poles akimbo whilst smiling nervously at the dog and its owner until they had passed! It certainly kept us on our toes…
Three falls (not just me!), several shaggy sheep, a few noisy seagulls, countless dodgy dogs and four hours later we were standing at the summit. It was surreal. It was cloudy. We couldn’t see the bottom, but we were surrounded by a swirl of mist and cloud. It was almost eerie, but calm. We had made it.
It was a bittersweet moment. Happy to have made it, but sad at the same time as you remember the reason for the climb and all those that had lost loved ones. The first person I texted was Caroline to tell her we were at the top.
We decided to take the Llanberis route down which is not as picturesque, but a little easier as it runs alongside the railway line. We meandered down the path strewn with loose stones and rocks and soon got into a rhythm chatting and singing along the way.
So engrossed was I talking to one of the girls that I didn’t notice a rock half sticking out of the ground and immediately went flying over it straight onto my knee! The good knee, you will be glad to know. Anyway, it was a deep cut which refused to stop bleeding. We tried to wipe the wound clean with sterile swabs and put a plaster on it to stop the blood. The sight of me crashing on to the floor gave the girls something to giggle about, and so we went on our merry way right to the bottom of the mountain.
On the train back to London we rested our weary feet and aching body parts, and celebrated with cold Dominos pizza and a warm bottle of Prosecco! 🙂
Two days later, large red spots appeared all over my face, neck and arms. My face was swollen, my eyes and my body felt heavy like I had just been given a shot of sleeping pills! I went straight to see my Dad (who is a doctor). I asked him if it was hives, an allergic reaction to something or insect bites? He looked at me and said, “I think you have got Septicemia. We need to start antibiotics straight away!”
What?! Why? How? Apparently, I had got blood poisoning from the cut to my knee. It just sounded incredulous. I had just climbed a mountain. My first one ever. It had all gone so well. Now I get this. It could only happen to me!
But, I can see the positive side. I was going to be fine. We all successfully climbed Snowdon on a beautiful, sunny day. My Dad was there just when I needed him. It all could have been so much worse. There was definitely somebody watching over us…
I managed to raise £1,360 for The Brain Tumour Charity. Any more donations are more than welcome on my JustGiving page.
Thank you to all those who have already donated and supported this amazingcause. God bless you. xxx
Father’s Day has come and gone, but I could not spend it with you as I was trying to get to the top of Mount Snowdon (which I did you will be glad to hear)! It meant the world to me when I called you to wish you and you told me with an emotional voice that you were proud of me and that it was your best Father’s Day gift as I had done it for charity and in memory of somebody that I had never even met.
These qualities and of generosity and giving with an open heart I learnt from you. There is so much that you have taught me that I cannot even begin to give justice to in this post, but I would like to try…
I love you for always being there for me
You are my father, my hero, my mentor, my friend and my guru
You are the rock that we all cling to when the waters are rough
You have an uncanny way of making everything seem better on the outside even though you might be hiding the fear and the pain on the inside
You have a wicked sense of humour and are always the life and soul of the party
It makes me so proud to see how you interact with such charm and ease with little ones to the elderly
You have a natural knack of public speaking and can bring a whole room to tears or have them shaking with laughter just with your unique way and your words
You have an amazing memory and a vast knowledge of the world that leaves me speechless
I love you for all the sacrifices that you have made for us in order to give us a better life
Being a doctor was definitely your calling in life – for you have a sweet and caring side that makes people feel better just by talking to you
I cannot even begin to remember how many lives you have saved, including mine – which I will never take for granted
Thank you for the special relationship that you have with me and all your daughters
You are the main man, the daddy cool, the crazy one, the lion king, my amazing dad…
But, it is one of the last photos that his mum Caroline has of him as Max is no longer with us. He is now playing with the other angels in heaven…
Max Earley was just 2 years old when he passed away. He was vomiting daily and losing weight as a result. He could not tell anyone of his pain and suffering. He changed from a bright, happy child to an irritable and sad little boy.
His doctor misdiagnosed his symptoms and behaviour more than once for tummy problems. He was sent to 2 hospitals for further tests and scans. He had a CT scan, but it also was misread and never followed up. Max suffered in his last days in hospital as he was being given the wrong treatment.
I will not give any further details out of respect to his mum Caroline who is my friend and who is still grieving. I will just say that no mother deserves to go through what she had to. Max was her only child. What is even more heart-breaking is that due to her age, she does not know if she can have any more children. She blames herself for her loss and said that she should have done more. But if the consultants and experts got it so wrong, then how could she have known?
So why was Max so ill? He had a brain tumour. It is the largest cancer killer of children and young people in the UK. And even though there is a lot of work going into research and raising awareness, the mortality rate still remains as high as ever.
If Max’s story helps just one child then his death will not have been in vain.
Therefore, I beseech you to read below the symptoms for children with possible brain tumours. This list has been drawn up by a campaign called Headsmart which is part of The Brain Tumour Charity. If you are unsure about any of these symptoms, then go and see your GP, ask for a referal, get a second opinion, and make sure you request a CT or an MRI scan (as these images are the only way to check for a tumour).
Please share this information with as many people as you can. It is so important that we spread awareness and help others in similar situations. This is a terrible disease and the only way we can save lives is by being aware and getting treatment early.
As some of you may remember, I was supposed to climb Mount Snowdon in April to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity. We had to postpone this due to the weather conditions. We will now be climbing on June 16th. I am dedicating my climb in memory of Max who would have been 3 years old next week.
The first real day that it feels like Spring (even though it’s May, and Spring officially started a month ago)!
I decided to venture out for a walk without having to wear a cardigan, jacket, scarf, shoes or socks. Yes, I put on my flippy floppies and my poor toes were so glad to be out and about in the fresh air that they practically danced a jig. I don’t think they had seen the sun for about 9 months – apart from the short holiday that we had last week – but just humour me!
The rays of the sun beamed down and hugged my face and my whole body, seeping into my skin and warming my grateful bones. It was an instant pick-me-up and the most lovely feeling in the world…
Was it just me or were the cherry blossoms on the branches swooping down to give me a Hi-5 as if to say ‘”Just look at those endless blue skies. Aren’t they just the bees knees?!” I had to agree.
Even a dog that skipped past with it’s owner seemed to look up at me without a care in the world and smile.
As I walked past the gorgeous roses, they seemed to blush and bloom before my very eyes, deepening in colour and winking as if to say “Don’t you just love it when the sun shines?”
An elderly gentlemen protectively held his partner’s hand as he walked with her and helped her to cross the street. They were obviously making the most of the sunshine, just like me.
And all along the birds in the trees were humming along to the Michael Buble tune that had been playing in my head. Which one? ‘It’s a beautiful day’, of course!