25 October 2015

Extraordinary people

Have met some extraordinary people this week. Most of them I can't type about but I am currently sat next to one.

We are crammed together in a little plane flying between the Canaries and the Sahara desert. I'm glad I struck up conversation with him because through photos, hand gestures and 3rd year Spanish from 30 years ago, I have learnt how interesting he is. He is a Spaniard from Seville, married with three kids and owns lots of horses. He is visiting our neck of the woods for the first time with his mate who is a regular in order to buy camels. I have tried to ask how they are shipped but couldn't make myself understood. Of course buying and selling camels is pretty standard for where I am but think what a wild idea this would be to his neighbours!!

At first I was miffed because sitting next to him meant I couldn't get to talk to Hannah. Now I'm enjoying his chatter, singing and tray tapping. Don't be put off by appearances & negative expectations, Joy

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18 September 2015


You've heard of NFN, normal for Norfolk, but my hashtag means normal for North Africa.

Just now, Hannah yelped and I thought she'd had an electric shock. I jumped up and called to see if she was ok. Half way to her room I hear; there's a lizard in my bed!
Just a teeny one; very cute. Not often in the house but we have seen them several times.
Love being reminded I'm abroad!

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17 August 2015

Speaking well (1)

A friend of mine recently blogged an amazing tribute to her husband because why wait to say these things?

I love the sentiment of saying good about people before you have to. Ya know, like at a funeral.

Many years ago I said to my Dad that I wanted to say some things to him while he was still young enough for him to know I was just showing appreciation rather than getting in kind words because I thought his days were numbered. Kinda brutal introduction to an early eulogy but we get each other in this way.

I'm not claiming this blog has much of a readership but inspired by my friend Helen and an ongoing desire to speak well of the living, I thought I would write some premature eulogies. The first one is for my Dad.

In certain circles, mentioning 'Bill Summers' is like having a skeleton key! When I was younger, hearing 'Oh you're Bill Summers' daughter? usually meant I'd better behave otherwise my misdemeanours would be getting back to the old man. As time went on, I realised it meant they had probably been praying for me and my siblings for many years and I owed them a debt of gratitude. In fact, it was only a couple of months ago someone said to me that they were showing me a kindness because of who my Dad is. I could take it as a back-handed compliment or be grateful that I have a father who commands so much respect that I'm a beneficiary of his character.

So what qualities does this man have? He is, above everything else, someone who loves the Lord Jesus and cares for nothing so much as knowing him more and encouraging others to do the same. He is a faithful father and husband. He is highly intelligent despite spending most of his school years gawping out the window at the cricket field and leaving with no qualifications. His thirst for truth, understanding and knowledge has taken him round the world. He is a natural teacher. My son and I joke that it's possible to say; 'So Grandad, the Bible...' then sit back and enjoy an extemporised sermon! He is also the man who used to chase us kids up the stairs to bed at night pretending to be a gorilla.

He Ioves to laugh. He loves to be in touch with his family. He loves gardening and swinging an axe to chop wood. He loves crosswords. He has read hundreds if not thousands of books. He loves words. He loves the outdoors and bird watching. He loves the Bible. He also loves winding people up and I'm no exception!

He is shockingly generous and intimidatingly sharp. He's a keen observer of human nature and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He is fiercely protective of his loved ones.

Whoever you are, I wish you could meet him. He is inspirational. He makes you want to be a better person. I love him.

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6 May 2015


Dear intermittent readers,

Today's silent podcast comes to you from the heartland of idiocy and having to state the screamingly obvious over and over again.

Yes! I'm on a coach and having to engage with the local upholders of law and disorder.

At every stop we give out sheets with every detail of who we are short of vital statistics and yet, even after reading our forms we are asked about our jobs, nationalities etc.

For some reason they are obsessed with finding out which location we entered the country. Yes, it's on the form. We entered at our home town. Unless you have arrived by paraglider or submarine, you can ONLY have entered the country via the airport.

AND YET, almost without fail we are asked if we entered the country at the airport. Bearing in mind how much we travel and that a journey such as today requires EIGHT stops to make sure we haven't had a change of date of birth between one pile of sandy rocks and the next, this process gets more than a little irksome.

Today our friendly 'pillock of society' insisted that there were other routes in. Our ire was up and we began a polite but assertive rebuttal of his palpable dimwitedness.

His logic ran thus; he knew of three people who entered the country in another place and arrived at our town by car. We pointed out the flaw that if that were the case we wouldn't then say that our point of entry was not our town but the other. Maintaining his civic duty of standing his ground in the face of being thoroughly disproved, he pushed back the frontiers of common sense and extended the boundaries of arrogance by saying we could have arrived on...bicycles!

Not since E.T my friend, not since E.T

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26 April 2015

Things I saw this week;

Man picking his nose with a stick

Cars with rectangles of tyres blacking out the headlights

A horse drawing a partially made rowing boat down the Main Street

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10 April 2015

When vocabulary turns bad!

Was on a plane today with a child who had yet to learn the rudiments if aeronautical jargon. So instead of commenting that we are coming in to land we end up with a situation where a small child is screaming; 'We're going down! We're going down!'

Speaking of planes, mini-me is in one at the moment. Probably somewhere over Asia. He is headed Oz-wards .

Am in a hostel on Gran Canaria myself. Tried somewhere I've not been to before and further across the island than previously explored. Loving the cute Fiat 500 I've hired and overlooking the extra 100€ they charged that I still haven't really gotten my head around. Hostel took a bit of locating but once I got there I was rewarded with puppies!!!

A pretty harbour, a bird I have yet to identify and pasta pesto for tea all make for a good first evening.

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1 April 2015

In a restaurant so funky I almost don't want to tell you where it is. It's in a cave. Quite a long way back and we were given home-made a garlic & herb butter with freshly-baked, warm caraway bread on the house while we waited for the starter to arrive

Mushrooms - a treat for desert dwellers and tour guide recommended pork for mains (pretty much a pile of pork and fries)

Unfortunately it's on Gran Canaria so a little out of your way perhaps

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26 March 2015

The desert taxi experience

We are on our way home from a great couple of nights away and we are in a 'grand taxi'.

The two men in the front have their arms around each other. Not through any particular affection but because neither being the driver, they are sharing the passenger seat.

In the back there are four of us. Two... substantial...ladies taking 2/3 of the space and Hannah and me, now part-time contortionists, with various pains in our sides, backs, arms, are squeezed into one normal seat's space. Hannah is clinging on to the seat with half of what she should be and the rest of her weight is pressing down on my right foot. Three hours to go.

The driver has his window fully wound down and is leaning out of his window in order to see the road. The windscreen has seen many years of desert sand blasting and is now fully opaque unless a cloud crosses the sky!

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24 February 2015


Went fishing this morning.

Caught a whole planet.

Apparently it's called a snag.

It's just a matter of perspective.

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18 February 2015

Are you for Rial?

It should have been a simple transaction.

How much are your mlhfa?

Really? That's a phenomenal bargain, we think. 18 dhirams a mlhfa is great.

So 72 for four?

No, 16.


16 each.

Ok, so 64?


We hand the man 100 dhirams and he laughs at us.

No, no. This will buy one.

But you said they were 18 each?


So how much?

360 dhirams.


Of course. You omitted to add the word 'hundred' after you said '18' and naturally you are working in a no-longer-used currency, the rial, meaning that your '18' needed to be multiplied by 100, (because your 18 meant 1800) have a zero removed from the end and then divided by two. Silly me. So when you say 18, you mean 90.

Good day to you sir.

Ok then! So
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17 February 2015

Culture stress

Not culture shock, I'm past shock but stress I can still do.

It's no different from any other day really but right now I have low tolerance to...well, idiots.

In the last two days I've had guys calling out to me in the street in four different languages, I was directed somewhere that I 'couldn't miss' because it was next to a sign in Arabic. (Unlike all the other signs in Polish?) I've had to refuse to buy a packet of cartridges because some of them had no ink in them. (What else did I expect?) My usual fruit man asked why I'd not been recently, was it because I was visiting Belgium? (Sure, why not?) we caught a taxi and translated everything we said in Arabic and shouted it back to us in French. (Yes, we know what we said, you don't need to explain back to us our own words)

I'm going home and not coming out to play again today.

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8 February 2015


A great birthday is currently being had!

Two wonderful house guests.

A housemate to beat all housemates who made me a LOOM!!

An afternoon at the farm for a barbecue

Did i mention the loom?

Cards from the UK

A good book as a gift

Did I mention a loom?

And of course.... Cake

....and animals

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26 January 2015

Gee thanks

This evening we are sorting through the sacks of stuff we have been given by others leaving the country and in a hurry to ditch what they don't want to keep. Mostly given in a well-meaning manner from people I love but that doesn't mean I'm not going to gently mock them.

Recipe books (in Chinese)

Stamping pads (without ink or stamps)

Glue sticks (dry)

Empty envelopes (used)

Enough TEFL material to open a language school

Carpet samples

Dictionaries (in two different Arabic dialects I'm not learning)

Worthy books I have no time to read

Lyrics to songs (in Chinese)

Plastic cable ties (unusable)

Home-burned cd's (in no language I speak or anyone else I know)

Photographs (of someone else's family at a wedding)

Bags I would think twice about giving to charity

Let me know if you need any of this ;)

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20 January 2015

Flab attack

Have dieted off the Christmas weight which is good news. Trying to keep going for a bit. Every time I'm hungry, I drink some water. I think I may be drowning.

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11 January 2015

Why I'm becoming more religious

Religion. Religious. Contentious words and if you are associated with a very particular, western form of Protestantism such as myself, even the statement in this blog's heading could have been enough for you to miss a heartbeat and reach for the elder's phone number.

The reason why 'religious' has become a by-word for sanctimonious is easy to see and so is the desire of many Christians to remove themselves from any man-made organisation that requires its adherents to pay superficial lip-service to a set of Sunday rules.

But is this what religion means?

For many, it is a negative expression that describes the idea that we must perform duties and rituals in order to receive our salvation. In this sense I would not want to be known as religious. It's an in-joke to insult someone's efforts to look holier than thou. And it is an in-joke, isn't it? Who outside of your church, associates the word religion with a very specific heresy that undermines the sufficiency of substitutionary atonement?

Late last year I was called religious and even as I was taking a sharp breath in, I was laughing at how rude that would have sounded to me a year ago. No, no, I would have wanted to protest. I am not religious! I have faith! I have a relationship with God! Of course this is true but the statement was made with great respect to the sincerity of my beliefs and how I practiced them. And I was glad to have been called religious.

How could I be pleased to be called such by a starchy and self-righteous term?

Clearly it's about context. Living in my current context, being religious is honourable and describes someone who both believes and practices their faith. Quite the opposite of Sunday only lip-service. It describes someone who is changed by what they believe and doesn't just use the name of their faith as a convenience.

My religion is deeply inconvenient, in fact! Because religion with a living God changes you from what you want to be into who He wants you to be.

Trying to be a non-religious believer would be a confusing nonsense to my friends. So are you religious? That's up to you but not all words mean the same thing to everyone.


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